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Saturday 9: April Love

Hey, guys! Glad you're back, and thank you to Crazy Sam for bringing us another great set of nine! Link up here if you'd like to join us today.

Sophia's First Birthday

🎂 Today, I'm feeling jolly, because it's the day my youngest was born 14 years ago! Happy 14th birthday, Sophia Lorelei! 🎂

Here we go!

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April Love (1957). Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here. 

1) In this song, Pat Boone sings that April love is a wonder reserved for the very young. Do you think the sensation of falling in love changes as we grow older?
 
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Yes, definitely. I think as you grow and mature, maybe you still feel the little flutters and heart flip-flops if you're single, but it's probably more tempered the knowledge that, maybe now, you realize you don't have all the time in the world to make snap decisions. But when you're in a long-term relationship, and it matures with you, then sometimes you fall in and out of love with that person. You never stop the loving, maybe, but being in love changes each time. For me, every time I fall back into love with my husband of 18+ years, it's even more special. I feel lucky, and blessed, that this still happens.

2) "April Love" reached #1 on the charts. Between this song and "Love Letters in the Sand," Pat Boone had a career year. Only one artist sold more records in 1957: Elvis Presley. When you think of Elvis, what's the first song that comes to mind?
 
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Probably the first song I realized was Elvis: "Hound Dog." Followed by "Jailhouse Rock."
  
3) Pat was extremely busy in high school. He wrote for the school paper, ran track, and acted in school plays. Share a memory of your extracurricular activities during high school.
 
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Most of time was filled with academia, but I did sing in the choir from 6-12th grades. I was in a lot of concerts, and I miss it.
 
4) It was his track coach who introduced Pat to the new girl in school, Shirley Foley. Three years later Pat and Shirley married, and remained man and wife for 65 years, until her death earlier this year. Who is the longest married couple you know?
 
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Living? I think that would be Hubs' dad and stepmom, who is battling breast cancer. 🙏
 
5) Pat has lived in the same house for more than 60 years. He once received an offer to sell it for $18,000,000 but turned it down because it's the Boone family home and he simply doesn't want to leave. Do you plan on moving in the foreseeable future?
 

Yup! If all goes well, we are closing on this beautiful house on June 3rd. I'm so excited!!

6) Pat has a warm friendship with his neighbors, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Pat has mentioned in interviews that he has enjoyed bike rides around Beverly Hills with Sharon. Tell us about one of your neighbors.
 
Okay, that cracks me up for some reason. I love it!
 
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That ^^^ isn't her, but let me tell you about our neighbor Gladys, who is never without a muumuu. She's the neighborhood watch leader. And she's as kind as can be. She's helped us out multiple times with rides to and from work for the kiddos. When Rob was recovering from his prostate cancer & surgeries, she rushed out and got his meds for him when I could not leave him. I love her. I will miss her when we move and asked Rob today, "Can we bring Gladys with us?"

7) Mr. Boone was very critical of Barack Obama, enthusiastically supports Donald Trump, and has appeared on Fox News to express his views. How do you feel about celebrities talking politics?

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Well, first of all, it makes no difference to me if they are celebrities. Public status or not, every American has the right to express him or herself. I don't have to agree with it. And in this case, not only do I not agree with it, I can't respect anyone who thinks Trump makes a great president. #SorryNotSorry - he needs to GO.
 
8) In 1957, the year this song was popular, Dr. Ian Donald pioneered the use of ultrasound technology. Today ultrasounds are commonly used by doctors in diagnosing conditions affecting the eyes, blood vessels, kidneys, gall bladder and more. Have you ever had an ultrasound?
 
 
(Here I am, 8 months pregnant with Sophia.) Yes, too many to count, with three high-risk pregnancies under my belt. I had a lot of complications with all four babies. I also carry the breast cancer gene (from my maternal grandmother) and have had several breast ultrasounds. And, since they are related and I've had numerous ovarian cysts painfully rupture, and a mass on my left (only remaining) ovary, there, too. Ugh, I won't go on.

9) Random question: You're sitting alone in a restaurant, waiting for a friend. The waiter brings you a drink and the compliments of a member of the opposite sex seated at the bar. What's your reaction? Are you flattered, shocked, embarrassed, intrigued or annoyed?
 
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Who wouldn't be flattered? Of course, I would be. One time, two of my girls and I drove down to Key West from Miami. I was still in college, so I wasn't even legal yet - but nobody there seemed to care because I got wasted. Anyway, there we were in either Margaritavilla or Sloppy Joe's, I forget which, when someone sent over three shots of tequila. Oh, it must have been the latter, because I'd eaten a giant Caesar salad in Margaritaville. I remember that specifically, because as soon as I'd shot back my tequila (first ever), I had to bolt for the bathroom, where I got rid of that salad in a very violent manner. And then we went across the street, where I danced like I was loca and drank the pint of Guiness someone handed me (my first and last).
 
Those were the days.
 
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That was a fun walk down memory lane! Thanks, Sam!
 
Fin.

Sunday Stealing: For The Love Of Surveys

Welcome back, my pretty babies! It's still Saturday night here, which means that, at least, I'm starting both Saturday 9 and SS on time. In this time of major health issues for me, that is nothing short of a miracle. But hold your applause until the end of this post - you may change your mind! 😉

So let's get down to business; here is the link if you'd like to join us this weekend!

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If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?

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If I were being selfish and only thinking of myself, that house would be built in or near Key West. I miss the culture of the keys and particularly downtown Key West. The random chickens everywhere is quintessentially representative of every trip (of many) I've taken down there. I don't think that place could be duplicated anywhere else. But...

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... if I were thinking of my husband, we'd build a nice lodge in the mountains somewhere, and live off the grid.

What are your favorite articles of clothing?

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I don't have a lot right now that I would consider a favorite of mine, but these "onesie" jammies of Sophie's, which we gave her this past Christmas, are so adorable on her. She's such a goof, too, and wears them out in public occasionally!

The last CD you bought or downloaded?

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I'm not sure which was the last one: The Have It All album by Jason Mraz, or a re-purchase of The Lady Killer by CeeLo Green. {We should totally do one or both of those on Sat9 sometime, Laurie!}


4. What time do you generally wake up in the morning?

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I'm nocturnal, so if I wake up when it's still morning, I consider it put-in-on-the-calendar worthy.

5. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

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That would be my Candy Apple Red KitchenAid Artisan Design Series 5-quart Stand Mixer. She's a beauty! Hubs gave it to me one year for Valentine's Day, back we still lived in Virginia Beach. And we don't even normally do Valentine's gifts!

6. If you could play an instrument, what would it be?

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In about 1997, I think, I went back to New York to visit friends. One night while there, I watched one of my very best friends, Shana, play electric violin and viola in a gig she and her cover band-mates were playing. She had the electric violin solo in "Ants Marching" by Dave Matthews Band. And she was badass! I've always admired her tremendous musical skill, but that night really made an impression on me. I'd love to learn.

7. What is your favorite color?

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Right where that arrow's point is situated is my favorite color. I describe it fondly as "the middle depths of the sea."

8. Do you believe in the afterlife?

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I have to believe that I will see my mother and my son, both gone far too suddenly and far too soon, again.

9. Your favorite children’s book?

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I loved the Nancy Drew books as well, but I think it would have to be Anne of Green Gables and the following books in the series that I loved the most. Maybe I'll read them again sometime soon. Sooo many good quotes from them, but I had to pick this one because I'd like to believe there are many - maybe? - among you guys whom I could consider kindred spirits.

10. Can you juggle?

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Definitely not. My brother-in-law can; I've seen him pull out the trick a time or two for the kiddos.

11. What’s your favorite day of the week?

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When my husband was still in the Navy, I would say it was any day of the week that he was home. Now that he's out and medical problems abound, I could probably safely say it's any day I'm not in a doctor's office!

12. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?

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I haven't had a hamburger since high school, thank ya very much! And while I am proud of that facth+++, I have to admit defeat in Round Two of my attempt to be - and remain - a vegan. Seems like after being a strict vegan for two months, my body just overcorrected, and I turned into a voracious [pescetarian] carnivore. Hopefully that'll balance back out soon, because the treehugger in me is laying down a huge guilt trip.

13. What is your favorite flower?

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Historically, it has always been the gorgeous tiger lily, the abundance of pulchritude of which I always admired as a kid growing up in Central New York. But now I think that I have bumped it to the Number Two slot for these guys:

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There are several hundred species of hibiscus, and I'm pretty sure I love them in all their ostentatious-bordering-on-meretricious glory.

14. What is your favorite meal?

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First, a little story: after Rob and I eloped, I got pregnant like a minute later. I tried to work, but I had hyperemesis gravidarum and could not. At the same time, I devoted myself to being the best wife and mommy I could be. I started cooking meals I would never eat (#BecauseBeef), and I became a dedicated fan of Martha Stewart's show. We still cook several recipes I loved from that show; Hubs has the Thanksgiving turkey and gravy recipe memorized by now. Anyway, one day, renowned Chef Nobu was on the show, and he taught Martha how to make his new-style salmon sashimi. I made it only a few times, when now-17-year-old Chloë was just a wee baby. I haven't made it since those days; don't really know why. Obviously it left an impression on me, so I think maybe soon it's gonna happen.

15. Describe your ideal weather?

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It would be quite warm and sunny but not blistering hot, with a light breeze. And of course, it almost goes without saying, I'd be on the beach.

16. What is your favorite ice cream?

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No can do on the ice cream anymore. I'll just have cannoli. For me, please make it that the cannoli Hubs and I ate in Sicily that time, at the top of Mount Etna, with the chopped pistachios... so much yum.

17. What is your favorite breakfast?

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Hmm, I don't think I've ever thought about that before. It would probably have to be a giant blueberry muffin, cut in half, with a schmear of good butter, like Président or Kerrygold... I think we have some fresh blueberries. Guess what I'm gonna make?

18. Where did you meet your spouse or significant other?

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We met on the Interwebs and eloped exactly two months later.

Bonus: something you’d like to do that you’ve never done before?

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I'd love to go waterskiing. Hey, if this six-month-old baby can do it...!

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That was fun, Bev - thank you!

And now, I have some muffins to make. Ciao!

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:

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

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

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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!

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These are from a site called Thought Provoking Questions..

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

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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!

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...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?

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

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  • I love these kids!! And...

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...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?

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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!!

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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!

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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.


Sunday Stealing: Joy

Happy New Year 2019, fellow thieves! I'm late now, because I tried to post early (when I had time), and the post wasn't up yet. Please forgive me! Link up here if you're playing along today, y'all!

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Questions from Sleepy Rambles
 
1. Are you filled with joy today?
 
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I just woke up at 1 PM, and only then because my husband woke me up to take my morning pills. Oops! But so far, I have no reason not to be filled with joy, so yeah! Sure!
 
2. Has it been a rough week?
 
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Some of it has definitely been easier than others. But I'm still plodding along, hoping to get better instead of continually worse!

3. If given the opportunity, would you like to star in a musical?
 
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I was the caterpillar in Alice the Wonderland in 5th grade, and I stole the show! (Not even lyin', it's because of the kick-ass costume my otherwise-evil stepmother handmade for me.) But I've always wanted to belt it out on a stage production of Annie. Maybe not even as Annie! Maybe as Molly!
 
4. Name one person you’d take a bullet for.
 
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Robert Allen Odette, my husband of 18 years and four days!
 
5. Did you trip over anything today?
 
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Not yet... but give me time!

6. Last time you painted a picture?
 
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Oh, years and years. I'm horrible at painting. Chloë and I bought a Groupon to go out and do a Paint Nite thing together, but it was awful and disorganized, so we left early.

7. Is your favorite color yellow?
 
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I don't hate it, but no, it's about the fourth shade to the right.

8. Were you born in a hospital? Do you know the name of the person that delivered you?
 
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Yes, surprisingly enough, since I never spent a day of my childhood other than that in a doctor's office or hospital, I was born in one. This one: Arden Hill Hospital in Goshen, New York.

9. Have you ever had a friend or relative who was incarcerated?
 
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Not that I know of, no.

10. Do you enjoy romantic movies, even when they’re cliché?
 
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Yeah, I do. Am I such a girl? I don't even care; they're fun and easy to digest. (BTW, I loved this "Thriller" part of 13 Going on 30, with Jennifer Garner.)

11. Would you rather watch a movie or listen to music?
 
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Either one, depending on what I'm also doing at the same time (because it's never just one thing). After 17+ years of motherhood, though, I'm not one of those moms who revels in peace and quiet. I hate it!

12. Ever been to Rhode Island?
 
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Not yet!

13. Can you tell the difference between a Scottish & an Irish accent?
 
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If I said I wasn't too shabby at it, and then was tested, I'd probably fail every time!

14. Can you read music?
 
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I'm not going to lie: that is one thing at which I'm really horrible. I've taken organ/keyboarding/piano lessons. I've sung in several choirs. I've taken years of voice lessons. I've been in the selected women's choir. I've studied music theory. I've been chosen to audition for All-County Choir and NYSSMA (back in high school)... and yet I feel like it's just something I have a learning disability for, or something. It doesn't come naturally to me. Sight-reading, singing solfeggio, during those auditions, was so challenging for me. It's always been very frustrating. One of my very best lifelong friends, Shana Marie, is a violist/violinist, a high school music teacher, gives music lessons at home, can probably play every single instrument ever invented, and has performed in concert with some very famous names. Now she can read some music!

15. Have you been to McDonald’s in the past month?
 
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Well, my son works there, so yeah - but only to bring him to work. I don't eat there. #vegan ;)
 
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Speaking of eating vegan, I just finished a salad Hubs made for me, from a recipe in the book Vegan Cookbook for Beginners. It calls for a cup of halved cherry tomatoes. I have never liked raw tomatoes in my whole life, but I find myself loving them. There is just something about eating more healthy, I think, that makes you just want to do more of it!
 
I hope 2019 is off to a good start for all of you! Cheers.
 
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?

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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!

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1. What is your favorite animal?
 
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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?
 
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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?
 
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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?
 
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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: Unbreak My Heart

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Hey, folks, welcome back! I'm going "basic bitch" by, yes, writing this post in Comic Sans. I'm just in the mood for it. Live and let live.

My grandmother used to tell me, when I'd forgotten to call or write her a thank you note or similar, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I think of my grandmother telling me that every time I fail to do something that I had truly meant to do. In this case, my road to hell comes courtesy of my failing to post midweek instead of just doing Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing on the weekends.

I try; I really do try, but life gets so busy in the middle of the week. We're chock-full of doctor appointments every weekday, I swear, so when it comes to that and trying to get all of our homeschool lessons in for the day, I'm exhausted at the end of it. 

But I'm not giving up. It's important to me to document my kids' lives, and I'm failing miserably. Giving up has never been an option for me, though, so watch this space.

In the meantime, link up here if you'd like to play along today!

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Unbreak My Heart (1996)

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

1) Songs like this are enduringly popular in part because each of us has had our heart broken. Give us the name of a heartbreaker from your own life.

Michael, the first black man I dated and my first fiancé. That's a very long story, though. I don't even know whether he's still alive. It's quite possible he's not.


2) Toni Braxton sings that "
nights are so unkind." What did you do last night?

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I don't even really remember last night, because I went from busy to snoring in half a second, but the night before that, I rented us Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom from Amazon Prime. I saw approximately the first 14 minutes of it before, again, I passed out exhausted.

3) While this song has Toni singing the blues, in real life her love life is happier. Now aged 50, she's engaged and has been sporting a diamond on her left hand. Do you believe that a bride is ever too old to have a big wedding?

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No! Of course not. If a couple want to have a big wedding, and they can afford it, then they should do whatever they want. There aren't any rules on that, are there?

4) Growing up, Toni Braxton's parents severely restricted how much TV their children could watch each day. Ironically, today Toni and her sisters participate in a reality TV show on the WE-TV network, so TV cameras are a big part of their daily adult lives. What TV show do you try not to miss?

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There are three shows that my family all gather around to watch together, come hell or high water: (1) Jeopardy! (2) The Big Bang Theory (3) Young Sheldon (that Iain Armitage is incredible in this role!!!); however, we are quickly adding (4) Bob's Burgers and (5) Fixer Upper to our must-see-TV repertoire.

5) She is prone to dry skin and applies Kiehl's Hand Salve to her hands and arms throughout the day. Tell us about a product you're brand loyal to.

Image result for nikon dslr D5300

I'm kind of a product whore when it comes to trying new brands all the time, but that's probably because of a combination of: (1) couponing for the best deals, no matter the brand; (2) mystery shopping and therefore getting to try a plethora of new-to-me brands; and (3) blog- or follower-related campaigns to which I'm invited, so I get to try new things all the time. However - and I suppose this isn't the sort of thing you meant - I am pretty choosy when it comes to my technology. Both of my DSLR cameras have been Nikons; I would choose an HP over any other computer/printer/other peripheral any day of the week; and I lurve my Samsung Galaxy phones abundantly much. ;) 

I suppose if there were an opposite thing to "loyalty," that would be how I approach the Dyson brand... Dyson. Ugh. It's awful.

6) Toni admits to being "a bit of a germaphobe," and always maintains a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes. What is always on your shopping list?

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Toilet paper. With three teenagers and, well, me, we go through our Cottonelle like water. It's a little absurd.

7) While she is not shy about her body, and has worn revealing outfits on the red carpet, Toni Braxton refused a 2011 offer from Hugh Hefner and Playboy to pose nude. What's the last thing you said "no" to?

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I don't say 'no' very often.  I guess I said no on Friday when my physical therapist's office called to say she had two openings yesterday, but with my shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles constantly dislocating, I declined making another appointment. I've just frankly been in too much pain to even shower for a few days. 

8) In 1996, the year this song was popular, Mattel introduced a Star Trek Barbie and Ken set. Have you ever fantasized about space travel? 

Image result for child flying into outer space

Oh, yes. For as long as I can remember, as a kid, I frequently dreamed about both having the ability to fly, soaring through the skies and in and out of buildings and other obstacles, as well as going into outer space and visiting the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and even beyond. Here I am, decades later, and I can still say I have those dreams. I'd give anything!!

9) Random question -- Would you (or did you) invite an ex to your wedding?

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No I did not, and no, I don't believe I would. Hm, I don't know now. One of my exes, Faris, invited me to his wedding, and I went - with Hubs and nine-month-old Chloë. But then again, his bride was one of my very best friends, Lisa, so I would have gone no matter whom she married. And Faris and I get along just fine these days.

~*~*~*~*~

Fun questions once again this week, Sam! Thanks for keeping us entertained(ing)!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Teenage Dream

Guten Morgen Klasse! What's the haps? I woke up around 0545 and, after using the facilities and finding a blanket (I'm insulted by the 59ºF temperature despite it being STILL SUMMER!!!), the first thing I did was queue up "Have It All" by Jason Mraz (love, love, love it) and come to write this week's edition of S9.

So welcome back! I hope you've all had a great week. Link up here if you want to join in the fun!

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Teenage Dream (2010)

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



1) Much of the video for this week's song takes place in a convertible and on the beach. How's the weather where you are? Would you be comfortable riding around with the top down today?
 
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This is funny. I was just talking about this with my 17- (!!!) year-old daughter, Chloë, yesterday. She's got thick, ringleted curly hair; I have straight, fine hair. Somehow we got on the topic of riding around in a convertible with the top down. Growing up, my dad always had at least six cars - one of them being a '71 Dodge Challenger convertible in mint condition. White, with red racing stripes. We drove around constantly, on the weekends, just for the sake of riding around with the top down. No seat belts, wind whipping my hair around so it stabbed me in the eyes, and I loved every minute of it. Loved it. I insisted she'd end up with dreadlocks in her hair after a ride like that, but she disagreed. I know I'm right, but there's only one way to prove it, and we don't have a convertible. Anyway, yes, unless there was snow on the ground, I'd be comfortable with it! It'll get up to 73ºF by 1400, and that's when I plan to steal a convertible - red Mazda Miata for me, please - to do just that. ;)

2) This video was filmed all around Katy Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara. Amtrak runs through Santa Barbara via The Pacific Surfliner. Tell us about a memorable train trip.
 
Image result for Florida Tri Rail
 
When I was in my middle year of college (never know what to call it, since I graduated in three years), one of my two best friends, Shana, came down to the University of Miami from New York to see me for Spring Break. One day, we wanted to go out to South Beach, but I didn't have a car yet at that point. So we first jumped on the MetroRail to get from Coral Gables to the end of that track, in Hialeah. Then we rode the Tri-Rail from Hialeah toward South Beach. Finally, we hopped on the local bus to get down to the beach. We had a great time in the sun and surf that day, and then we did the same thing in reverse to get back to UM. The whole trip took four hours round-trip, but it was worth it, because I'll never forget that day with my girl!

3) Katy sings that her boyfriend thinks she's funny, even when she gets the punchline wrong. Do you think you're a better joke-teller or audience?
 
091218 FREE Pedicure from Reginald
Oh, I'm a much better audience. I suck at remembering jokes, much less telling them correctly the first time; I'm much better at making my own one-liners on the spot. Rob, on the other hand (seen here giving me a pedicure for my birthday the other day), is a master at telling jokes. He constantly has me in stitches. Occasionally, he'll tell me a story, to which I'm trying to listen intently, and it'll end up being a complete set-up for a joke he's heard. It'll take me a few beats to realize the whole thing was a joke, and I'll end up jabbing him in the ribs in disgust. But he amuses me nonetheless.

4) Her "teenage dream" lover is shown working out with a heavy bag. When is the last time you visited a gym?
 
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I'm not one to spend much time at the gym. I just hate it. An hour on the treadmill on the gym sounds dreadful to me; I'd much rather be going somewhere, seeing new scenery, having new interactions and encounters... anyway, technically I was at the gym Friday afternoon with my physical therapist, learning new exercises to help get my pelvis back in alignment. Does that count?

5) Katy changes her hair a lot. She's gone from long black hair to cropped blonde hair with stops at red, green and purple. Today, are you having a good hair day?
 
Target Beauty Box
Well, I just woke up, so not currently. Up there, in the top right, is the new Dry Shampoo by OGX, which I just received yesterday in the latest Target Beauty Box. I used it yesterday, not being up to taking a shower, and it smells soooo good! It also helps extend my shampoo out another day (or, ahem, two), so I can skip the shower and look halfway presentable for being seen in public. Have y'all ever used a dry shampoo? Which one do you like?

6) Katy thinks dimples are "irresistible" and can't help poking a finger when a dimpled friend smiles. Do you have dimples?

Mel dimples selfie
 
I do have dimples. A few of the kids inherited them from me.
 
7) Two of Katy's fragrances (Meow and Purr) are sold in cat-shaped bottles. Are you wearing a scent as you answer these questions?
 
Charcoal + Magnesium Deodorant Stick
 
Not really, but I am wearing Schmidt's Charcoal + Magnesium Mineral Deodorant (also a new thing for me, from the Tar-jay Beauty Box) at the moment, and I find the scent of it delightful.
 
8)  Katy's favorite dessert is ice cream (specifically Cold Stone Creamery's Birthday Cake Remix). What's the last dessert you ate?

091318 FREE Cheesecake & Drink from Chili's (2)
I had some of this free cheesecake from Chili's as part of our Birthday Freebies Tour (ongoing), Thursday night. It was delicious!
 
9) Random question: How often do you change your bedsheets?
 
Dormitorios-lujoso-con-muchos-cojines-neiman-marcus-florentine-luxury-linens
Ideally, every week, especially since our two pups, Tapioca and Paco, sleep under the covers with us each night... but we don't get to stick to that schedule very often. Our laundry is forever goingN nonstop...! If I had more opulent sheets like these, I might be more motivated to wash them on the optimal schedule. Now where can I find these...?
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
That was a fun one! Thanks, Gal... er, I mean, Crazy Sam! ;) Always good a good cuestionario from you. Hope all of you have a great weekend!
 
Fin.

Saturday/Sunday Mash-Up

Eggs

Hey kids, what are we all talking about in here? Can I join?

Well, if you came to read Sunday Stealing, you've come to the right place. Aaaaand... because I forgot what day it was yesterday, Saturday 9 is here, too. I've missed a couple weeks, I think.

We've had a lot of wildfires this summer, and my asthma was horiblé. Now that weather conditions have improved, I'm breathing easier again. (Rob totally brought me to the ER because I couldn't breathe and thought I had pneumonia, but it was an asthma attack! I felt so dumb. But in my defense, something I've had my whole life didn't get properly diagnosed until last year!)

Time to get started with this week's Saturday 9.

~*~*~*~*~

She Works Hard for the Money (1983) 

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


1) This song is about a woman who works hard as a waitress. What's the hardest job you've ever had?

After thinking about this for a minute, I'd have to say teaching freshman biology while I was working on my PhD at USF. That was really the first time I truly had to confront my weaknesses in academia. I found out quickly that teaching was hard. Like, hard hard. It was a totally new kind of challenge for me.

2) The lyrics tell us she has worked at this job for 28 years. What's the longest you stayed with one employer?

Other than motherhood (It'll be 17 years this Friday!), it would have to be working at various Publix supermarkets in Florida. Three different ones: in Coral Gables, in St. Petersburg, and then again in Panama City Beach. I liked it more than teaching! Heh.

3) Donna Summer was inspired to write this song during an awards show. She ducked into the bathroom and met the elderly ladies' room attendant, whose job it was to make sure the room the spotless, the complimentary hairspray and moisturizer was abundant, and there was a hot towel for every celebrity who used the facilities. "Wow," Donna thought, "she works hard for those tips." Who is the last person you tipped?

I feel like it's been kind of a while. Maybe it was the pizza delivery guy from Pie Hole? I think so. We'll go with that.

4) Early in her career, Donna was in the touring company of the musical Hair. It played in Munich for so long that she became fluent in German. What's the longest you have ever lived away from home?

Guam-map-0

Well, that's hard to say. I've never had a home that I've wanted to go back to after I left! I have no parents' house to return to when I'm sad or down and out or anything, so... I guess I'll use this concept a little loosely. When Rob and I got married, and Chloë was a wee babe, we moved to Guam for four months. Just four months!
  
5) Sam's dad is naturally outgoing and enjoys striking up conversations with waitresses, librarians, the checker at the supermarket, etc. Sam is always polite but more private. Are you more like father or daughter?

Image may contain: Bob Simmons, closeup

Look at this guy, blowing a kiss! That's actually his Facebook profile picture! That's my dad. He strikes up conversations with everybody, too - and this lecherous old man also flirts - hard - with any cute young thing. Ugh. I'm an extroverted (but not much) introvert, so I'm more like daughter.

6) A little more than 10% of the American workforce is self-employed. Have you ever been your own boss?

I've done various things over the years. Like... back when we lived in Virginia Beach, I had a dessert business. However, I quickly learned that rather than something like this:

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I'm better at smaller desserts more like this:

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And now I want to make some petit fours! Too bad I sold off almost all of my baking tools when we moved to Miami and becoming broke was no joke!

7) Labor Day weekend may offer a golden opportunity for napping and sleeping in. Do you snore?

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I love how it's always the women complaining about their husbands snoring! Why is that a thing? LOL... Yes, I snore; my hubs rarely does!

8) Will you be attending a Labor Day picnic or barbecue? 

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Y'know, I don't think so? But we will be going down to celebrate Japan Day at the local Basque Center (just trust me), so that will be fun. I hadn't even thought about what to do after that!

9) Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the fall. Will you be adding any new fall clothes to your wardrobe?

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I'm sure I will. Every season we all (except Jack; he just wants me to pick out his clothes for him) go to the local ReStyle Animal Rescue Thrift Store. It's like this: they have a punch card. For every 5 donations AND 5 $10 in purchases, you get 50% off your entire next order. And every day, their great quality but already-low prices go even further down, with a different color tag being some percentage off for that day. And on top of that, we get a military discount! So I the girls shop 'til we drop and then come home and show the boys our goods. It's fun!

~*~*~*~*~

Well that was a good one, Sam! Thanks for the fun! I've been distracted by watching Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper this morning. I'm very new (like, as of this summer) to their show, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with them! He's so cute to her.

Anyway.

Time for some Sunday Stealing, which this week is oddly named Freaky Poptart! (Click the links to see other players' answers.)

~*~*~*~*~

What is one thing that you would change about yourself if you could?

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There is not a lot about me I'd keep! I'm not my own biggest fan. But I would definitely change my temper. I'd love to be more mild-mannered than I am.

Name three exotic countries you would like to visit:

Image result for Japan Image result for Australia Image result for argentina

I would visit Japan, Australia, and Argentina! Oh, hell, I'll go anywhere 'long as you're buyin'!

What do you think the secret to life is?

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I think the secret really is that you have to bring joy to others. The more joy you give out, the more joy that ;,; ,mcomes back to you. It's the good kind of vicious-cycle. I try to develop that sense of joy in each of my kids. (Although it's pretty hard for Jack.)

Best concert: 

Image result for bob dylan baseball concert norfolk virginia

I'd have to say it was the Bob Dylan * John Mellencamp * Willie Nelson concert at the Norfolk Tides' baseball field back in Virginia. Bob Dylan is a huge favorite of Rob's, and he really wanted to go see them play. I was so thrilled to be able to take him, and he had a great time. I even liked their opening act, The Wiyos!

Song you can listen to over and over and not get tired of: 

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That changes all the time, but lately it has been "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5; I even like the Cardi B bit, and I'm not a huge Cardi B fan. It's catchy!

Worst movie music soundtrack or score: 

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My mind is a blank on this one.

A song you wish wouldn't get stuck in your head but always does: 

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Have you heard the Wayfair jingle on their commercials? There's a ton of them every commercial break on HGTV, it's so annoying... but also catchy.

Who was your FIRST date?

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It was this guy, Ken, who was a year ahead of me in school. We went to the movies. I don't remember what we saw. Soon after that, we met up at this mall near my house, which was a total ghost town by that point... my first kiss. Now I know he is the biggest a-hole, but eh. You gotta know what bad is before you can realize how good good is, right?

Image result for heart And Rob is GOOD. Image result for heart

Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

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Yeah, Ben and I are still Facebook friends... although I guess I've been asleep at that wheel, because it appears he just got married?!! I'm so shocked!

What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?

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In my Senior year of high school, my older friends from work used to take me out a lot wherever they went - including to bars. I mean, I was only 17, so their trick was to get me drunk on shots of Goldschläger at one of their homes before going out to drink some more. We had a lot of fun times, and we made a lot of memories, but I obviously don't recommend that! I have more than one Goldschläger story. So, I don't like the smell of cinnamon much anymore! Image result for winky face

What was your FIRST job?

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I did a lot of babysitting first, but my first actual paycheck was from BigM market in Baldwinsville, New York. Fun times; I loved it and, for a while, my best friend Lisa worked in the deli while I ran the cash register. (I've worked in a lot of grocery stores! Winn-Dixie, too, in South Carolina - oh and also, for two days, Fred Meyer here in Boise!)

What was your FIRST car?

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This picture almost makes me cry. I bought a red 1991 Ford Escort wagon in September 1993, when I was starting Senior year. My father basically stole it from me. It's not a happy memory.

Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?

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Hm. I've been flying since birth practically, so I don't even really know! When we moved to Syracuse from Monroe, New York, we started flying back and forth to my mom's parents in New Jersey a lot. But I think we I had to have flown since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?

My first two best friends were my sister Stacey our babysitter's daughter, Ursula. This is my sister with her (now about grown) daughters:

Image may contain: 4 people, including Karen Johnson and Stacey Johnson, people smiling, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor

and this is my friend Ursula with her beautiful family:

Image may contain: 5 people, including Ursula Petricek, people smiling, people standing, child, stripes and outdoor

And yes, I still talk to both.

Whose wedding did you attend the FIRST time?

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It was my dad's to his new (now ex-) wife a year after my mother died. (They started dating three months after Mom died, and he still says my mom was his real true love, etc. Right, right.) My dress was pink; I think Stacey's was peach, Aarin (younger step-sister) had a blue one, and Mindy (older step-sister) wore purple. All matching but different pastel colors. Gag me. (Maybe that's why I hate pastel so much!)

Tell us about your FIRST roommate.

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That would be Jen from Rochester, when we were freshman dorm-mates at the University of Miami. We hit it off right away and had a lot of fun. We are not still friends.

If you had one wish, what would it be (other than more wishes)?

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I wish I didn't have to live in a world where my neighbors didn't keep taking the COEXIST sticker off my car! Because, y'know, they're the people that need to read it and heed it. (And then I wish we had a house of our own, again.)

Back of car

What is something you would learn if you had the chance?

Image result for Latin

The girls and I are learning Latin together this year. I thought I would have a disadvantage over them because of speaking Spanish, but I really don't! In fact, Chloe is beating both of us, and Sophie is neck-and-neck with me. If I could, I would learn every language spoken in this world.

Did you marry the FIRST person you were in love with?

Nope, I married this dork:

Image may contain: 1 person

 He's so cheerful!

What were the first lessons you ever took and why? 

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These probably weren't my first lessons but the first ones I remember. After my mom died, she left her electric organ, like this one, behind. I couldn't bear to see it and let it just go to waste, so to help me keep my mother alive in my heart, I begged my dad to let me take lessons and use it. I did for a couple of years, but I never got terribly good at it. Then my stepmother came along, decided she didn't want it around anymore, and bought a sleek baby grand piano to put there instead. And she couldn't even play! F**k her.

What is the first thing you do when you get home? 

Front entry

The first thing I do when I walk in is hang up my keys on "the fish." See that arrow? Same thing, every time. On the other hand, when Rob drives, he never hangs up the keys, and they are often missing after that. Also, that fish is supposed to be for keys. Not multiple baseball hats, not multiple dog leashes, but keys. Although now that I have one of my girls' leis from Boise Pride hanging on my hook, I guess I can't say too much!

~*~*~*~*~

Ahhh, finally done. That was fun, but because I'm distracted by Fixer Upper, it's taken me forever! Man, I wish we could afford a fixer upper. And Chip and Joanna Gaines, of course.

P.S. 

Drawing

Shout out of thanks! It was so unexpected when something from our daughter's Amazon wishlist, for her spendy Art program this year, showed up in the mail from you! I was moved to tears, so touched I was. Sophia was shocked, too. Thank you so much for doing that! Our fundraiser has kind of stalled out at $50 donated, and we still have several supplies and about $200 for the course left to go, so we were absolutely grateful for the help. You know who you are - you rock!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: ID Questions

Hey, you guys! You came back! Wanna hear something crazy? I had what, in these uncertain times of my health going from bad to worse regularly, I would consider a pretty decent day Saturday. I spent a couple of hours just {yes, I know} browsing Bed, Bath & Beyond with Chloë, getting absolutely nothing, and then getting a few "deals and steals" at Walgreens after that (hey, six free toothpastes ain't a bad haul, for starters), and she and I just get along famously when we're out and about together like that. And that set the tone for the remainder of my day, with multiple laughing-'til-I-cried experiences with the rest of the family after that. Yeah, I'm not talking about my physical difficulties, but that's because regardless of those, if I have a good outward day, I can ignore that stuff for a while. So I did. :)

But anyway.

I'm happy you're here for Sunday Stealing (I almost wrote "Saturday Sunday," because they're enmeshed in my brain). Link up here if you're playing along today!

~*~*~*~*~

1: Three Fears ~

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a: nightmares (last night's was about scary dancing pandas - weird!); b: dying before my children are grown; and, c: of my dogs running out into traffic


2: Three things I love ~

Chloe 12th Grade 1

a: Chloë, who will be 17 in under three weeks;

Jack 10th Grade

b: Jack, 15; and,

Sophia 8th Grade

c: Sophia, who is 13 going on 19!


3: Four turns on ~

four?!! Hmm...

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a: Rob, obviously, who (since we're giving away ages here) will be 46 on the 30th;

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b: good yarn; in this case, it's Madeline Tosh merino wool in "Light Turquoise";

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c: Singing to good music turned up loud in the car with the windows down; and,

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d: Pure happiness and joy

4: Four turns off ~

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a: Smoking;

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b: Child abuse;

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c: sloooooow drivers; and,

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d: careless people who litter - & its effects on wildlife

5: My best friend ~

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I am fortunate enough to have two, both of whom I met in 6th grade and went all through the rest of middle, junior, and high school with: Lisa Joy & Shana Marie, both of whom I love with all my heart and definitely don't feel like I deserve!

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{Photo of Lisa & me in a photo booth at CocoWalk, in Coconut Grove, Florida, during Lisa's Spring Break, circa April 1997}

6: My favorite book ~

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I haven't read nearly all of these book by Jodi Picoult, but I have read My Sister's KeeperThe Tenth CircleNineteen Minutes, and Songs of the Humpback Whale (maybe others??), and I feel like all of them plus any more of her oeuvre that I'm going to read are my favorites, so can I make it her entire body of work?!

7: My best first date ~ 

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Well, obviously I think, I would have to say that was my first date with Rob! In mid-November 2000, he came down to St. Petersburg, FL, from Panama City Beach, FL, to meet me in person after an odd first acquaintanceship (is that a word?!) online. We went to a Chinese take-out/eat-in restaurant for lunch and spent a long, long time there getting to know each other. We were the only customers who were dining in, so the staff were paying us a lot of curious attention, but I don't think either of us cared. Fast-forward to a year later, and we were already married and parents of a tiny baby, Chloë Raine - with three more to soon follow! Yup, I think there was romance in my vegetable lo mein...

8: How tall am I ~

Image result for i'm not short i'm just compact and ridiculously adorable

At 5'1½", I think I'm short enough. However, my tiny little pixie girl, Chloë Rainebow, is maxed out at 4'9½" and is super cute to boot!


9: What do I miss ~ 

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Now that Chloë nearing 17 and in her senior year of high school, Jack has a job, and Sophie towers over me at 5'4" with no end in sight, I've been missing their younger years something fierce lately!

10: What time was I born ~

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Oh, I don't know, on time I guess?? ;) Since my DOB is 9/8/76, though, I like to joke that I was also born at 5:43:21 PM!

11: Favorite color ~

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Something like this would be my idea color palette, with the middle color being my favoritest fave


12: Do I have a crush ~

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Honestly? This may sound corny but after almost 18 years together, seeing Rob persevere through prostate cancer and numerous serious complications in recent months has me crushing on him all over again. Weird circumstance, but I love him with my whole heart and entire soul, and that's that.

13: Favorite quote ~

Image result for dirty dancing quote pickle on the plate

I'm really not good at remembering quotes and jokes and whatnot, but I've always remembered this one from Dirty Dancing!

14: Favorite place ~

Totally Bamboo&reg; Idaho Destination Cutting Board

Gosh, I'm getting really cheesy again, but it's wherever my family members are. So right now, that's Idaho. (And P.S. If I had a spare $30, I'd totally be getting myself this State of Idaho cutting board. Love it!)

15: Favorite food ~

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New York-style pizzeria pizza - yummo!

16: Do I use sarcasm?

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What do you think?

17: What am I listening to right now?

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I'm watching a new-to-me rerun of Fixer Upper, a show I just starting getting into, like, yesterday.

18: First thing I notice in a new person ~

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Whether they just smile with their mouths, or if it reaches their eyes to show it's genuine

19: Eye color ~

Week 32 of 52 - JUST FOR ME

They used to be dark brown, but as I'm getting older, they're getting lighter brown with a ring of green around each iris

20: Hair color ~ 

See above; it's auburn, but I'm getting ready to dye it darker brown probably later this week.

~*~*~*~*~

That was a super fun meme! Thanks for the great thievery, Bev! And thanks to y'all for reading along with me!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Never Been Asked Meme

Welcome back! I'm hoping to get this post written before my migraine comes back, because it is a doozy. And I know it's coming back by its aura, which I'm getting because I just don't have enough health problems going on right now... :P

Anyway, link up here to play along today!

~*~*~*~*~

  1. First thing you wash in the shower?
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  3. I have a set routine, and I always shampoo my hair first.

    2. What color is your favorite hoodie?

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It's brown!

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?

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Sure, I guess I'd kiss Hubs again. ;)

4. Do you plan outfits?

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Not usually, no.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?

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Well, I've got this new kind of intractable migraine since a few months ago, even landing myself in the hospital for it this past Monday, and nothing helps. I've had three rounds of Botox to no avail, so I'm now considered a non-responder to that. And pretty much everything else. There's a new injection drug called Aimovig that I've just signed the paperwork to get, so I'm waiting to see if our insurance will approve it since it nears $10K a month. And I might get my tragus pierced. SOMEthing has got to help!

6. What’s the closest thing to you that's red?

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Currently, that would be the giant bottle of Tylenol that I keep nearby at all times. Kinda makes sense, eh?

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?

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I can't remember the reason, but my 13yo daughter Sophia was sorely pissed at me. She's hardly ever angry with me, and I felt fearful to see if she really was when I woke up! (She wasn't.)

8. Did you meet anybody new today?

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Nah, not really. Wait, do cashiers and Customer Service reps count? Chloë and I went to PetSmart to get dog food, cat food, puppy pads (our two itty bitty doggos are pad-trained), and two NylaBones on clearance. Then we went to Kohl's to pick up an online order (I got a brand-new bra, three pairs of undies, and four bra hooks - to tighten the straps of my girls' brassieres - for under $23! Plus I bought a new set of measuring cups, since we lose some every time we move, on sale AND they gave me an additional military discount, AND I got $5 Kohl's Cash back for picking up the internet order. Sweet! And then we drove across the street to pick up two Target internet orders I placed a few days ago. It was the hardware for our window treatments. We've been here 17 months and still don't have proper curtains up! Until now.

9. What are you craving right now?

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Cheap chocolate. Specifically, Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups - best chocolate under a dollar!

10. Do you floss?

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Sometimes. I floss a lot more now that I've lost a filling. Gotta get that thing replaced!

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?

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I think of the cabbage soup diet! One of my BFFs from high school, Shana, introduced it to me in the mid-to-late 90s. I used it during my internship at Mote Marine Lab after college. Back then, the diet included lots of red meat - and I ate vegan then, so maybe that's why I failed? I loved the soup, though; it really was delicious!

12. Are you emotional?

Funny Still Emotional :)

Uh, you could say that. Just... slightly. ;)

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?

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Definitely in Roman numerals...

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

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Usually, I lick. I prefer to savor.

15. Do you like your hair?

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Not currently. It's too short to put up in a proper ponytail, and with 100°F heat, that's pretty annoying! But it's not as bad as Donald Trump's... thing... on his head, so yay!

16. Do you like yourself?

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I find it difficult, but I do try to hold onto those things I do like about myself.

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?

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Yeah, I probably would. I wasn't a fan of his presidency, but the guy himself seems like he'd make an amiable dinner companion. He'd probably crack a lot of jokes. And I am proud of what his daughter Barbara has become, and I really enjoy watching her sororal twin Jenna on the Today show in the mornings, so yeah. Hey Dubya, call me!

18.What are you listening to right now?

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I'm listening to - and watching - my 15yo son Jack play the Titan Fall II on the Xbox directly in front of me, and to my right, I'm also listening to our Chiweenie Tapioca chew on her new sirloin-infused Nylabone. She's going to town on it!

19. Are your parents strict?

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I have no idea what parenting style my mom would have employed, but my dad and evil stepmother were at times Authoritarian and at times Uninvolved (which was called "Neglectful" instead, during studies of Child Development in college). I was raised in a completely different environment than the one in which I was raised. I try to be very Authoritative, with the occasional Permissiveness in between.

20. Would you go sky diving?

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Not even if you paid me.

21. Do you like cottage cheese?

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Yeah, but only the 4% kind. I like to indulge now and then.

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?

Image result for Jose Canseco

Yeah, but not any huge A-listers. I helped Dave Barry, the humor columnist, numerous times when I worked at Publix all throughout college. Really nice guy. And I served ice cream to José Canseco and his lady friend once, when I worked at a gourmet ice cream shop before entering graduate school. Really not a nice guy - total douche!

23. Do you rent movies often?

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Almost never. We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and frequent freebie codes for the Redbox - and I almost never use any of them! What a shame.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?

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I had a hard time finding something sparkly instead of shiny - plenty of shiny! - until I looked down at my engagement ring. There we go! (Boy, do those rings need polishing!)

25. How many countries have you visited? 

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I've been to the USVI {St. Thomas only}, Puerto Rico, and Guam, but do those technically count, since they're US territories? I've also been to Canada multiple times as a kid; Mexico twice; Bahamas twice; Jamaica; Costa Rica; Panama; Cayman Islands; Spain; France; Monaco; Italy; Greece; and, Croatia. I think that's all of them. Not nearly as many as Hubs, though!

26. Have you ever made a prank phone call?

Image result for horse manure

That may be the first (and only?) time I've posted a picture of actual feces on this blahg. I've made a prank or 17 in my day, but Hubs makes them to this day. We'll be driving along, whether around town or on long road trips, when we'll see a sign or the side of a van or something that inspires us. He manages to last quite a long time while I'm cracking up in the background. Maintains serious composure! One of the more memorable pranks was when he called different Home Depot stores around the country to ask if they sold, specifically, "horse shit." We were trying to find the most polite store, but somehow our quest got lost in the giggles!

27. Ever been on a train?

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Numerous times! Both long-distance and also around big cities like Miami and Washington, DC. On one of the more memorable trips, my friend "Jenny From the Block" and I took our combined five kids from Virginia Beach to Richmond, Virginia, by train and back. That was pretty awesome. I would love to do a trip cross-country.

28. Brown or white eggs?

Eggs
May I please have a combination? These are our very own eggs; I'm sure there's a more vibrant picture somewhere, but this was the first one I came across. We have five hens laying eggs at present, but I'm planning to add more to our flock in September. Of the five we have now: one lays nearly-white eggs, two lay brown eggs, and two are olive layers. I'm enamored of this whole chicken-keeping business! When I order a flat of chicks in September, I'm really hoping to get a rare layer of blue eggs. That would be so cool!

29.Do you have a cell-phone? 

Image result for Galaxy s9

Of course - who doesn't nowadays?! All three kids and I acquired new Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphones in June; Hubs has the Galaxy S8 Active. I'm still learning all the tricks and secrets my phone possesses, but I'm already enamored of it!

30. Do you use chap stick?

Image result for stash of lip balms

Not necessarily the Chapstick™ brand, but I am an absolute lip balm fanatic! I always have at least one in the following locations: my purse, the dashboard pocket opening in the car, and my bathroom drawer (I probably have eleven in there). I've tried just about every kind. My very favorite is the kind that the St. Luke's hospital gives out to their patients. It's the best! But a very, very close runner-up are the three kinds from Young Living: Cinnamint, Lavendar, and Grapefruit. I love that last one!

~*~*~*~*~

Phew! Finally finished that long one! Just in time. In addition to the headache, I'm nauseated, have blinding double vision, and heart palpitations. Good Lord, please help me and take this da** thing away!! :( :( 

Sorry for the accidental lapse in self-control, there. Forgive me? I hope you'll all have a wonderful week. Forgive me if I'm physically unable to read your posts right now. I can barely see to write my own!

TTFN. ;)

Fin.


Saturday 9: Love Is All Around

Welcome back! I nearly forgot it was Saturday!

Link up here if you want to play along today.

Without further ado, let's begin:

~*~*~*~*~ 

Saturday 9: Love Is All Around (1970)

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

1) This week's song is the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom that originally aired from 1970 to 1977. Were you a fan?

I'm sorry, I don't really think I've ever watched it. (I was born in 1976.)

2) The song tells us that Mary Richards can turn the world on with her smile. Yet the real-life Mary Tyler Moore said she was uncomfortable with her "wide mouth." If you could improve on one of your facial features, which would you choose?

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I really don't have much of a lower jaw; I feel like I have no chin! In fact, I used to say that I married my husband for his strong jaw, and he married me for my flat ears.

3) We also hear that Mary can "take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile." What do you think makes a day "a nothing day?"

A day for me would be a day in which I get absolutely nothing accomplished. I like to be constantly busy and really don't know how to relax. [With ME/CFS (if that is in fact my diagnosis, and it's looking more and more like it should be), this makes life challenging.]

4) Mary works in the newsroom at WJM. Her desk is neat as a pin. Are you neat? Or do you lean to the sloppy side?

In 7th grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Trainham, talked to us about there being some people who are boxes, and some people who are squiggles - without defining either. She then asked us to sit for a minute and think about the question, "Are you a box or a squiggle?" before going around the class to say which we thought we were and why. I decided then that I'm neither, but I've yet to determine whether I'm a boxy squiggle or a squiggly box. Does that answer the question?

5) Mary's best friend, Rhoda, worked as a window dresser at Hempel's department store. What department store did you most recently shop at? What did you buy?

The other day, a box from Kohl's showed up. I did not remember ordering from Kohl's. We opened it. There were clothes for Sophia, Chloë, and me (not a lot, just one or two things each). I did not remember ordering these clothes. Chloë thought she remembered one item, so I let her try it on, and it fit. So did a dress. Sophia fit the two pairs of joggers, and I figured the cardigan must be for me since I've been wanting one lately. It's becoming quite disconcerting lately how often I can't remember things like this that you'd think I would!

6) Mary Richards lived in Minneapolis. What city is nearest to where you are right now?

Boise, where I live, is the largest city in Idaho. (It pales in comparison to the other cities in or near which I've lived: New York City and Syracuse in New York; Aiken in South Carolina;  all over Miami, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Panama City Beach in Florida; Virginia Beach in Virginia...  the one place that's smaller is Yigo, on Guam!) I think of it more as a large town than a small city.

7) Originally the part of Mary Richards was written as a divorcée, but in 1970, there were no TV shows that centered around a divorced woman. Think about the women in your life. Are most of them married, divorced, single or widowed?

I would have to say that most of them are married.

8) The MTM production company logo featured a mewing kitten. The cat was found in a Minneapolis shelter, and, after her sequence was shot, she was adopted by a crew member who named her Mimsie. What's the name of the last cat -- or dog or hamster or rabbit -- that you petted?

Pepper 007

This beautiful, big Maine Coon, Pepper, who belongs to Chloë.

9) Random question -- Would you rather have a job that kept you seated on your fanny or standing on your feet?

Well, if you had asked me that 20 - or even five! - years ago, I'd have said my feet. The good days now are ones that I'm even upright.

~*~*~*~*~

Now I have to go figure out why I'm starving, watching Food Network, and it's still two days until payday - and thus grocery day! Not smart! I'm watching back-to-back-to-back-to-back Cake Wars on my DVR, and my chief complaints are that: 1. From owning my own cake business back in Virginia Beach, I've long since figured out that many elements of this show have got to be staged; and 2.  I'm irritated by the number of people from all over who say "ah-mond" instead of pronouncing the L in almond. Whyyyy?

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Art History Meme

Welcome back to Sunday Stealing! Link up here if you want to play along today!

~*~*~*~*~

Classical: If you were an Olympian god, what would you be known for?

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I would absolutely be the goddess of the sea!

Byzantine: Do you prefer gold or silver accessories?

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I actually much prefer copper jewelry, but since it's rarely an option, I go for silver. I'm not into gold, but my wedding & engagement rings, and the "baby" necklace I'm wearing from my mother-in-law, are gold. I don't care; I combine my metals.

Medieval: Are you religious?

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I don't consider myself to be religious. I am spiritual.

Gothic: What is your favorite historic building?

Image result for la sagrada familia

La Sagrada Familia, the giant work-in-progress cathedral in Barcelona. Hubs and I visited it in person in 2008, when we went to Spain on our cruise. It was mentioned on TV the other day, and my developmentally-delayed 15yo son saw it with me. I was so impressed when he knew everything about it. Love when that happens!

Renaissance: Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt enlightened or changed?

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Many times. The first time I truly realized it happening was when I was about to turn 21 and read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. My best friend Lisa gave it to me for a college graduation present, but I had put off reading it for a few months for fear of boredom. It was not boring at all. I actually had a breakdown from it changing me mentally so thoroughly, and I ran away from home for a fortnight to collect myself. I keep meaning to read it again, now that it's 20 years later, but I have yet to do so.

Baroque: Do you enjoy the finer things in life?

110317 Chandlers Food Collage

Our food from the Boise Chandler's in late 2017

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Our Chandler's drinks

Oh, absolutely. I am definitely a fancy dinner and high-end hotel kind of girl. I mean, I can get by just fine with a cheap motel and Taco Bell (ugh) if I have to, but I feel much more comfortable living the high life. I grew up fairly well-off; maybe that's why? We can't always afford such a life, because kids, but that is part of why I mystery shop. It affords me the opportunity, and I get reimbursed. Win-win!

Rococo: Is your bedroom full of trinkets and pictures? If so, which pictures adorn your walls?

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It's really just full of boxes at the moment, since we still have a ton of unpacking to do. My health has made that low on the list of priorities at the moment. I'll have some pictures, including a koi print my sister-in-law gave me, and my shot glass collection, for starters. For now, though, here is a shot of some pretty paper lucky stars I made for a friend once.

Neoclassicism: If something came back into fashion, what do you hope it would be?

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I'm not really into fashion. At all. I'm into comfort. So, I don't care much, but I think I'd like one of these sumo suits.

Romanticism: Do you often see things in a positive light?

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I try to do this. Sometimes I need a little help, and sometimes I just need a little time and separation from an issue.

Pre-Raphaelite: Which book would you like to see turned into a film?

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Anything by Jodi Picoult that hasn't already been made into one. Her books are the best!

Impressionism: Do you look for details or take everything in at once?

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A little bit of both. I think I first take in the whole deal, and then when I have time to soak it in, I absorb as many details as possible.

Art Nouveau: When were you last at the theater?

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I think it was when I took my two daughters to see Pitch Perfect 3. We all love the PP franchise. Especially Fat Amy; she makes me laugh my guts out!

Surrealism: Why does the porcupine think it's a duck?

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It doesn't. You're thinking of the platypus.

Pop Art: Do you enjoy pop culture?

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I'm pretty mainstream in a lot of ways, I admit. But I'm alternative in many other regards, so... it evens out.

Contemporary: What did you do today?

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I woke up early. Took a nap. Woke up again hours later. Almost immediately took another nap. (Welcome to my life). Got myself up just in time to take the family to dinner for a work assignment. Met a couple friends afterward. Came home to sit here and blog memes while amping up the intensity of my TENS machine on my knees and ankles. I need another one to handle back, neck, and wrists at the same time. I call this my "electroshock therapy." Freaks people out.

~*~*~*~*~

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Baby Love

So it's late for this posting, I understand. 10:45 PM Mountain Standard Time, to be exact. But I can explain: I spent several wee hours this morning in the hospital again, which then caused me to sleep the day away. After that, I tried to participate, but the Typepad platform was down. Finally, it's back, so here I am. I'm sure you relished that story. Anyway, link up here if you'd like to participate this weekend, and then let's go:

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Baby Love (1964)

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

 1) When this song was popular, the Supremes were known for their elaborate hairstyles, make up and full-length gowns. When was the last time you got dressed up?
 
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I guess it was when we went to Ruth's Chris here in Boise was the singular time I've gussied up much since we moved to Idaho, maybe? That was back in November.

2) "The girls," as they were known to the engineers and executives at Motown Records, were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross. They began singing together when they were high school classmates. Are you still in touch with any friends from your high school days?
 
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Of course! Many of them, actually. Thank you, Facebook.

3) Mary Wilson was born in Mississippi and her family moved a great deal before settling in Detroit, where she fatefully met Florence and Diana. Were you uprooted often when you were a child? Or did you spend your school years in the same neighborhood?
 
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When I was six years old, we moved from close to NYC up to Central New York. That decision on my dad's part sucked, by the way. As a city girl, I much preferred the routine trips into Manhattan; those became less-than-annual after that move. In comparison, my children have moved far more times.

4) The Supremes began as a quartet called the Primettes. In addition to Mary, Flo and Diana, there was Betty McGlown. In 1960, Betty left the group to get married and was replaced by Barbara Martin. In 1962, Barbara left the group to have a baby. They quit trying to replace the fourth voice, soldiered on as a trio, and made pop history. Have you ever found yourself in a position similar to Betty's or Barbara's, where you had to make a difficult decision and choose between your personal life and your career?
 
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Sure I have. Twice. The first time, in 1998, I stopped working at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida, to help out a former friend back in Miami. Not a wise decision, but it's moot now. The second time, in 2000, I realized I did not have the passion for shark research that I thought I did and left my doctoral program to consider my options. That's when I met Hubs and decided to elope with him shortly afterward. If I hadn't made that decision, I surely wouldn't have these nutaroons, above, and that would be awful. I consider that decision the best one of my life. Today, by the by, is the 17th anniversary of our sunset beach wedding. (We eloped at the courthouse on January 2nd, but we had the beach wedding on my mom's birthdate, February 17th, in order to have my then-pastor perform a ceremony in front of a few close loved ones.)

5) Thinking of babies and "baby love," is anyone in your life expecting a baby in 2018?
 
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Does reading about Duchess Kate's third pregnancy in People count as someone in my life? Because I am having a complete brain fart and can't think of anyone I know personally. Wish it was me!

6) With twelve #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, The Supremes remain America's most commercially successfully recording group, and this song (along with "Stop! In the Name of Love") is one of the most popular karaoke songs. If we handed you the mic this morning and absolutely insisted you perform, what song would you choose (any song, any genre)? 
 
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I have never done karaoke. I would have to be completely smashed to do it... anyway, I would choose "What's Up?" by 4 Non-Blondes. The radio definitely gets turned up when that song comes on Bob FM in the car!

7) Original group member Florence Ballard left the group in 1967. She died of cardiac arrest in 1976 at the age of 32. Since February is National Heart Month, it seems appropriate to ask: Is anyone in your life battling heart disease?
 
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Well, probably. But right now, I'm concerned with my two teenagers, Chloë and Jack. We learned in April last year that they have inherited Noonan Syndrome from their dad. (Sophia, our youngest, may have a few of the features - since I think they said five different genes control the Syndrome - but she's definitely not as affected as the older two.) Since it can cause heart defects, among many other things, Chloë had a full cardio evaluation last year. Everything, so far, looked perfect. Phew! Jack will be next, but the Genetics Clinic 'round these parts is extremely overwhelmed and difficult to get into, appointment-wise...

8) Florence Ballard's brother, Hank, wrote Chubby Checker's famous dance song, "The Twist." When did you last dance?
 
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Hm. There was a Macarena question on Jeopardy! the other night, so I might have busted a quick move on the couch... haha. But the pain I'm in is so constantly severe now that it's rare I do a full-on dance sesh.

9) Random question: Close your eyes and visualize the most beautiful place you've ever been. Now describe it to us.
 
 
I've been fortunate to see many beautiful places; almost all of the ones near the top of my list are by the sea. (Not surprising.) But oddly, the place that popped out in my mind first was Dubrovnik, Croatia. I wrote all about that here after we got back from our Mediterranean cruise in 2008. Having been to Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Jamaica... this surprises me and makes me wonder. I think, maybe, it's because it's both so close to the beautiful water with which I connect so deeply, and because it's also a city. I do love a pretty city. Dubrovnik did not disappoint, and those narrow streets were filled with fascinations beyond my imagination. I don't know what to tell you about our experience there that I didn't cover already in that post I just linked up to, so go read it if you're really interested!
 
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This was really fun to write. I'm glad Typepad let me in to participate tonight. Thanks, Samantha! :)
 
Fin.

Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel

Welcome back, everyone! I had to do another disappearing act midweek to go into the hospital again for the third time in a month, and can I just say -- that's enough?!! Because it is. I'm home again now, and my fingers are crossed that this time it sticks.

Link up here if you want to play along this week. Let's go!

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Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel (1956) 

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

1) Elvis checked in to the hotel at the end of Lonely Street. Where was the last hotel or motel you stayed at?
 
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We went to the Young Living Fall Festival this past October at their lavender farm in Mona, Utah. We stayed in this little hole-in-the-wall rinky-dink hotel somewhere near there (I don't even remember the town), and we skedaddled on out of there just as soon as we could in the morning! Not our most comfortable night ever.

2) He sings that Heartbreak Hotel is always crowded. The fear of crowds is so prevalent that it has four names (enochlophobia, ochlophobia, demophobia and agoraphobia). Are you comfortable in a crowd?
 
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I'd rather blend into a crowd than stand out on my own. I'm fine with crowds.

3) The desk clerk at Heartbreak Hotel is dressed in black. Do you often wear all black?
 
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I don't know about often, but occasionally. I like dressing in black, but I gotta have some color somewhere.
 
4) The song was written by Mae Boren Axton, who said it was inspired by the story of an anonymous young man's suicide in a hotel. She said she read in The Miami Herald that the John Doe left behind a note that said, "I walk a lonely street." What's the last note you handwrote? (Hopefully it was more upbeat.)
 
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I called my kids' pediatrician today to get one daughter a referral and make an appointment with the doc for the other, so I jotted down the appointment info before transferring it into my phone's calendar.

5) When Elvis was 11, his parents bought him a guitar. He had asked for a rifle, but his mama convinced him a guitar was a better idea. Tell us about a time one of your parents was right about something. 
 
When I was three or four, my mom, sister and I were grocery shopping. I spotted what looked like a bunch of spilled sugar on one aisle floor, and I've always had a big sweet tooth. I got away from my mom and found that aisle, and I actually went and ate some off the floor before Mom found me! She told me it was laundry detergent, and I shouldn't eat that.
 
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Turns out she was right...
  
6) Not long before "Heartbreak Hotel" was recorded, Elvis' father recommended he give up the guitar and become a truck driver. Tell us about a time one of your parents was wrong about something.
 
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Oh, my dad is always trying to talk me into not using modern medicine and coming back into the Christian Science fold again. Yeah, that's not happening.
 
7) There are many stories about Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker. One anecdote, about his career before Elvis, has the Colonel painting sparrows yellow so he could sell them as canaries. Have you ever been ripped off?
 
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When I was in college, I was headed from the main U-Miami campus, where I lived, to class at the marine science campus. My ratchet car broke down on the Rickenbacker Causeway, and I was stranded. My best friend Lisa was actually down from New York during her Spring Break on a visit, so thankfully I wasn't alone. A man with a toddler was walking along the causeway, and he said he could fix it but needed to get some parts or something first (I think it was the spark plugs). We gave him all the cash we had on us to go get those parts. To a complete stranger. In Miami. SO STUPID!!! Of course, he never came back.

8) Speaking of birds, Elvis once owned a peacock. It damaged his cars, so he gave it to the Memphis Zoo. In earlier days, it might have been dinner, for peacock was considered a medieval delicacy. What's the last poultry you prepared?
 
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I don't remember the last actual meat I cooked that was poultry, but do our own eggs from our own backyard chickens count? If so, then I had some before I went in the hospital. Delicioso!

9)  Random question: You and a friend have dinner at a restaurant. Your friend left her wallet at home, so you pick up the entire tab of $62, including tip. A few weeks later, you two meet for lunch and when the bill comes, she puts down half. Do you remind her that she still owes you $31 from the last time you dined together?
 
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I would have had that all sorted before we even got to the restaurant, so that it wouldn't be a problem!
 
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That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by; have a great weekend!
 

Sunday Stealing: Happy New Year

Hey, y'all! Welcome back. I'm thrilled to be back after missing the last few weeks due to illness. Glue me down, because hopefully I'll be sticking around for a while. Link up here if you want to play along this week. Let's go!

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End of Year Questions

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

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I moved out West! Rob and I packed up our three kids, two dogs, four cats, two gerbils, one guinea pig, and as much of our stuff that we could fit in the remainder of our little crossover SUV, and high-tailed it cross-country from Miami to Boise in four days. It was a crazy, amazing adventure and aside from a few misadventures, I think we kind of had the time of our lives!

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

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I always make New Year's Resolutions. However, I honestly don't remember now what I resolved for 2017, so I can't say whether I kept it or not. Probably some konmari decluttering, in which case... sort of. For 2018, I'm not making any resolutions. I just aim and hope to live a healthier life from here on out, much more so than the way I disastrously ended 2017!

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

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My friend got married and had a baby boy, named Aaron! Sadly for me, I left Miami before she gave birth, so I haven't met the little love. Domenica asked me to crochet or knit something for her baby, but I've been in so much pain and stuff, I haven't had the ability to do it, yet. I think this year, I resolve to knit and crochet more again. Gotta put all the good yarn I own to good use, right? I'll make her baby something to keep him warn soon, especially now that freezing iguanas are falling all over the sidewalk in South Florida.

My brilliant mind fails me now, so I can't remember who is pregnant at the moment. Oh, my friend Lisa Keeney is expect #6, I think. But I am positive I don't know anyone who adopted last year.

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

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I don't think anyone I know personally died last year? I hope I'm not forgetting somewhat, sheesh. As far as having a serious illness or injury, that would be me. I wrote all about it in my last post. If you care, I detailed that experience here. I know there are lots of typos in the post, but I'm just not in the mood to go fix them right now, sorry!

5. What places have you visited? 

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We were invited to hang out with new friends at Lucky Peak Reservoir here in Boise, Idaho. It was intensely beautiful, just like everywhere we've gone in Idaho. I can't wait to go back again this summer and see more of it. 

6. Any new pets? Lost a pet?

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

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Chloë also adopted a new guinea pig buddy, Alex, for her first little guy, James. Those two are SO noisy!

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?

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I will continue my pursuit of this grand idea of Contentment, rather than Happiness. I am often content, but those moments are often overpowered by thoughts of "now what? what's next? what else?" and I want to learn to be satisfied with the right here and now.

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

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Probably January 20-21, 2017. Not-my-President Trump was inaugurated (ugh! puke! barf!) and my family and I all participated in the Women's March to protest. I made three pussyhats, for my girls and me, and I was proud to wear them and represent. 

9. What was your biggest achievement last year?

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We struggled a lot in Miami after Rob retired from the US Navy, and our financial picture changed drastically for the worse. It was really hard to find housing to rent here in Boise, from Miami, and I worked tirelessly for months to do so. Home after home after home slipped through our fingers due to the three-digit credit scores of ours that, frankly, aren't so pretty right now. But we're rebuilding, and I saw this home online right after it was listed. I jumped on it, and asked to speak the Lessor by phone, rather by email or text. He agreed and ended up talking on the phone to Rob when the time came, because I had to leave for some reason I now forget. Anyway, we landed the house, and it has been perfect for us. Such a blessing, and for it I am most grateful.

10. Did you get sick or injured?

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

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Describe how a relationship changed.

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

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

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

24. How have people around you changed?

Sophia and Bing

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

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

25. What have you learned throughout the year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The 9th Pneumonia: Shit Just Got Real

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

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

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

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

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

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

No X-rays.

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

I was stupid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he has.

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

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

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

I don't remember that trip at all.

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

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

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

BAM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what was going on?

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

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

Yay!

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

We'll get there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday Stealing: Thanksgiving Thoughts

Hey, y'all. So, it's early in the wee hours of Monday morning, which is officially late for participating in Sunday Stealing. But, as my daughter has been in the hospital since Wednesday afternoon and I have been one big bundle of scattered brains, I feel like I have a decent excuse. However, I missed you guys and still want to participate, and here I am. So there!

Let's begin.

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1.  What made you feel patriotic this year?

Earth Day march

Well, while it may not seem to fit the standard definition of patriotism, I felt that way when my daughters and I participated in the Women's March (in Miami) and the Earth Day March and March for Science (here in Boise) this year. I felt so united for a good cause or two with my fellow Americans, and in that mood of solidarity, there was definitely and uplifting of good feeling toward my country.


2 . What do you value most about your life?

Image result for my family means the world to me

This little family of mine is my whole, entire everything.


3.  What do you appreciate about your friendships?

Image result for inappropriate jokes

Among other things: Loyalty, Honesty, and the Ability to Share our Senses of Inappropriate Humor ;)


4.  Name one person who can make you laugh, even months later. Why?

Image result for my husband is the best funny

That honor belongs to Hubs. He's ridiculously funny. I can't even stand it. When I am pissed at him, and the last thing I want to do is laugh, he cracks me up. I hate that!!

5.  What is the funniest thing you remember about a Thanksgiving past?

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My husband loves to tease me about the fact that, every single year I make a pumpkin pie or two for Thanksgiving, and every single year I leave out a different ingredient. Without fail. Ugh!

6.  Do you have any unusual traditions, rituals or habits around Thanksgiving?

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I don't think we do anything unusual for Thanksgiving. I do like to go all out with the big feast, starting from a full breakfast (or brunch if you're going by the clock, since we sleep the morning away), to snacky things for lunch and throughout the day, until the giant spread for dinner. Hubs and I usually have something sparkly to drink for dinner, so I typically pick up a couple bottles of sparkling grape juice for the kiddos. It really matters to them; they always look forward to that!

7.  Name one ancestor that you think about on Thanksgiving and tell us why.

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I always think about my grandparents, especially when I break out the can of black olives, and my kids put them on each of their fingertips. My sister and I always did that at Thanksgiving. Grandma made sure to stock up just for that. Hee!


8.  Is there a family heirloom at the Thanksgiving table? What its story?

 
Image result for Beautiful Fiestaware 
 
Not an old family heirloom, but maybe a new one is beginning: I collect Fiestaware, and my collection always adorns the Thanksgiving dinner table. I love ALL the colors, so we have quite the rainbow going. So pretty! There is really no story there. In Miami, we had hard tile floors and we are all klutzes. There were quite a few dropsies and smashed Fiestas during our tenure there. But that's okay... it gave me the excuse to buy more!

9.  What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Day?

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I'm hoping to get TV service in time to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I've always loved it. Even went to Manhattan one year and froze my tuckus off watching it with the snow falling everywhere! Such fun.

10. What random act of kindness did you perform or that was done to you this year that makes you feel grateful?

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I don't like to point out my own RAOKs, and I know several happened to us this year for which I'm grateful, but I'm drawing a complete blank. However, right now with Chloë in the hospital, I know several of my friends are planning on sending her some fun mail to cheer up her day(s) there. And I truly appreciate them for that.

11. What do you appreciate about the change of seasons?

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Here in Idaho, the Autumn colors are beautiful enough to rival any of Vermont's, all day long. I've turned into quite the leaf peeper!

12. Name five things that make you happy about today.

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  1. I got to speak to Chloë on the phone and hear how she's doing!
  2. I picked up some stuff for ice cream sundaes for Jack & Sophia, who were ridiculously excited about it.
  3. Sophia and I went to the grocery store together and acted like complete, idiotic goofballs, and instead of being annoyed by us, the cashier thought we were hysterical. He said we were entertaining and brightened his shift.
  4. Rob's migraine went away (thank you, caffeine).
  5. The dinner I made turned out to be super yummy.

13. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were little?

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For me, personally, Thanksgiving changed from having my entire extended family over for the day to it just being our little nuclear family. We've only had one Thanksgiving in our marriage where it was more than just us. And you know what? I don't mind.

14. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner today with one person in history who would it be? Why? (Note: it can be a relative)

Mama

Of course, now that I'm feeling all sappy and reminiscent, I'm gonna say me mum. She was a great cook and a lovely hostess. But all that is beside the point; she was just a fabulous mom and person in general, and I miss the crap out of her.

15. What is one wish you have for the next generation as they begin to establish their own Thanksgiving traditions?

For my kids, I am hoping that they will continue to love and express that love for each other and for each of their own families when the time comes. When I depart this world, I want to know that Sophia, Jack, and Chloë are taking care of each other and keeping the Team Odette love going...

~*~*~*~*~

Welp, that's it from me! It's not yet 0500, so I'm going to go'head and visit y'all, too.

Happy week!


Sunday Stealing: Monster Mash

Hey, y'all, link up here if you wish to play along this weekend!

ghost: what would you like on your tombstone?

 

 Actually, I don't want a tombstone. Bury me at sea!

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   dracula: are you afraid of aging? or death?

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That about sums it up. I never expected to live past 33, so the past 8 years have been considered "bonus time." I never pictured myself aging. It's totally surreal - and it's cool that I'm here, but the actual physical aging part completely sucks!

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  nosferatu: what, as a child, did you imagine went bump in the night?

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Actually, I did not have to imagine. Plenty of real things went bump in my nights.

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    godzilla: what do you do when you are angry? are you ever destructive?

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I can be. I truly like to throw shit. But when I am super pissed, I tend to yell and say a lot of bad words, until I'm able collect myself enough to go give myself a time-out in my room.

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the blob: do you collect anything? if so, what & why?

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[The above photo is not mine. Most of mine are in storage right now.] I like to travel, so I collect shot glasses from wherever I go. I have about three display cases full now and will continue. Sometimes, we even get to use them! ;)

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zombie: when was the last time you trusted your gut? was it successful?

Lucky Peak Beach 007

[This photo is mine: Lucky Peak Beach in Boise, Idaho.] The last time I truly had to trust my gut was when we decided it was a good idea to uproot our family, once again, and move cross-country from Miami, Florida, to Boise, Idaho. Three teens/tween, two dogs, four cats, two gerbils, and a guinea pig, plus us parents, hauled ass for four long event-filled days to get here, and it has paid off. It is beautiful here. The people are lovely. And our kids are so much happier. Whew!

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mothra: what is something dangerous that attracts or fascinates you?

Image result for beautiful sharks

You can take the girl away from the sea, but you can't take the sea out of the girl! I will always consider myself a marine biologist, no matter how far removed from that life I have gotten. Sharks. I love them, will always love them, even I shit my dive suit when I encounter a big'un like these. I'm all in.

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king kong: what are some questionable choices you've made lately?

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On the contrary, I think my choices lately have improved. I've jettisoned some childhood baggage from which I have finally released myself, and relied more on my husband and family to provide my Here and Now. I've asked for help, and gotten it. Things are better. Much, much better...

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alien: what is your strangest feature?

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I'll keep it clean and stick to my flaring nostrils. I can flare them on demand. I can also wriggle my nose like a bunny. Not too fabulous, but at least it's not NSFW! ;)

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cthulhu: do you like the ocean? why or why not?

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Clearly, I do, and I do not quite understand folks who do not. I am almost mystically drawn to it, and I would give up everything to be a mermaid. Maybe. ;)

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nessie: have you ever felt invisible to people -- the feeling of not existing?

Self.

Oh, absolutely! When I looked like this, at 340+ lbs, I was definitely invisible. Some people, of course, looked at me with disgust and loathing, but for the most part, I was ignored. People shut doors in my face instead of holding them open, no one looked me in the eyes, let alone smiled at me... but all that changed when I lost the weight. It was almost surreal.

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    mutant spider: what is one of your biggest fears?

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I've already lost one of my children. It would kill me if it happened again.

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werewolf: if you could change into any nonhuman animal and back at will, what animal would you change into and why?

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I think I would be an albatross, or some other large sea bird. I could spend my days in flight and draw my life from the sea. It sounds amazing.

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golem: if you could make up an imaginary friend, what would they be like and why?

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They would be someone I could laugh hysterically with over the weirdest and strangest shit, someone who "gets" me and all my quirks and neuroses, and accepts me for who I am. Someone I can get into trouble with and have fun, but not any  kind of trouble that harms anyone else! (Wait, this sounds like I'm describing my husband.)

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leprechaun: what is your "pot of gold" (or white whale, if you'd rather)

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Contentment and relaxation have proven to be elusive for me throughout my adult life. However, with the newest addition of Lithium to my psych cocktail, it's kind of a "forced" relaxation that I'm actually enjoying. And I am learning to be content in the individual moment, which leads to greater happiness overall. At least, for me.

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sharktopus: what is something you've done that was ridiculous or a bad decision?

Image result for spinning plates gif

One of the worst decisions I've made was when Sophia (my youngest) was entering kindergarten, Jack (now 14) was entering second grade, and Chloë (my oldest) was entering fourth. We decided to homeschool all of the kids that year for the first time - a GREAT decision, but I also let myself be talked into leading a new Girl Scout Daisy troop with far too many girls and way too many demanding, irritating parents. Sophia was in that troop. I was also the Treasurer and the Cookie Mom for that troop and Chloë's Junior troop. I was also involved in Jack's Cub Scout Tiger troop and helping him with selling popcorn. I was also doing a crap-ton of mystery shops, sometimes maxing out at nine or 10 in a day. I was deeply overwhelmed. I lost a lot of sleep and became extremely dependent on caffeine. I still am. It was a horrible number of plates to keep spinning, while attending do my wifely and motherly duties at the same time! I'm still trying to learn to say "no," though. It's hard for me.

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 robot: what is a habit you do without thinking?

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I have fidgeting skillz like the best of them. I am nonstop movement. I don't know if that is why, but I have major muscle spasms in my hands and feet now, and I'm convinced I have a Restless Leg thing going on. I remember when my dad Sperm Donor was my Sunday School teacher, and he was constantly berating me to, "Stop fidgeting, Mellie! Settle down, Mellie-Ann!" I never did, though. I couldn't!

*

Oh, we've reached the end! Well that was fun. I have to hop in the shower now. Have a lovely!


Saturday 9: Angel

Hey fogies! Sorry for the radio silence this past week, but I have been siiiiiick as a dog. Hopefully that is well over.

Link up here at Saturday 9 to play along with the rest of the bunch!

Let's get started.

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Angel (1998)
... because Bev recommended it

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


Image result for jonathan melvoin
 
1) Sarah McLachlan wrote this song about someone she barely knew. She read the obit of Jonathan Melvoin, keyboard player for the Smashing Pumpkins, who died of a heroin overdose. What's the most recent news story that touched you deeply?

Well, it was about the last messages and phone calls from Princess Diana to then-little boys, Princes William and Harry. I know it's silly, that I, an American and comparatively a pauper, a commoner, would feel this way, but I do feel connected to the British princes. My blonde, blue-eyed mother suddenly at 33, shocking everyone, leaving behind two little girls. Diana died suddenly at 36, shocking everyone, leaving behind two little boys. I wanted to write to the two of them when she was killed, but I figured they'd never really get the letter anyway.
 
Image result for Linda Mccartney
 
2) Ms. McLachlan performed this in tribute to Linda McCartney at the 1999 Concert for Linda. She was expressing her hope that, in death, Linda found relief and peace after a long and painful battle with cancer. What do you think happens to us when we die?
 
I'm so torn on this. I obviously don't really have any idea, nor does anyone else, truly. Part of me thinks that's it, it's over, that's the end. But the part of me whose faith tells her that her mom and son are walking through Heaven together these last 14 years is stronger. As for Hell... well, all I know about that is I really do not want to go there!
 
Image result for the guiding light

3) Daytime dramas General Hospital and As the World Turns used this song on-air after a major character died. Do you follow any "soap operas?"
 
When I was a tween/teen, my stepsisters were into Guiding Light, so that's what I watched, too. Didn't have much of a choice if I wanted to watch something in the family room, anyway. But not since about 1992 or so have I followed any soaps.
 
Chickens 012
Chickens 012
4) In 2007, Sarah donated her recording of this song to the ASPCA. Do you have a pet? If yes, how did you get it (shelter, pet store, etc.)?
 
Do I have a pet? Ahahaha, you kill me, Sam. Here's our current rundown: Two dogs (Paco, gotten from a family who couldn't keep their baby's hands off him and kept hurting him, and Tapioca, from That Black Dog Rescue in Miami); four cats (Pepper, found in the street in the middle of the night, Muffin, adopted from the friend of a friend, Sugarplum, adopted from a girl in Miami who couldn't keep kittens for Sophia's 10th birthday, and Henry, adopted through Pet Supermarket in Miami from the Humane Society of Miami); two gerbils and a guinea pig (all from the pet store); and ten chickens (one won by son at a county fair and the other purchased for a dollar each from a crazy chicken lady). So yeah... a few animals in this household!
 
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5) She admits she can't watch those ASPCA commercials, where her recording of "Angel" plays over sad photos of animals. Is there a TV commercial that really gets to you (in either a good or a bad way)?
 
I haven't watched commercials in ages, but I agree, that and those poor, sick children with distended bellies in Africa who need adopting... those things always get to me.

6) In 1994, Sarah was stalked by an obsessed fan. Tell us about a time you were really frightened. In retrospect, was your fear commensurate with the threat?
 
I had a stalker, too. When I lived in Miami, right after college, a former friend turned stalker on me. He found out where I lived, when I would be out of town and when I would be back (I know this because if I left for a long time, he'd have a package delivered in the mail upon my return, with nothing in the middle - and I didn't hold my mail, ever). He wanted to marry me and would stop at nothing to get his way. One time, at about 11 PM after work one night, I pulled into my driveway and opened my car door; I could hear some rustling in the bushes and just felt completely creeped out. I left immediately and drove over to my BFF Kristal's house. Eventually, after a while of this, I had a stalking police report out on him, and they offered to help me file a restraining order. I thought nothing would come of it, and I was wrong. He attacked me in my house later that summer. A definite "hell yes" to the question!
 
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7) Sarah was adopted by Jack and Dorice McLachlan. Though she has a friendly relationship with her birth mother, she always considered Dorice her mother and sees herself behaving with her son the way Dorice did with her. Is there anyone in your family that you feel you resemble, either physically or by behavior?
 
In looks, I definitely resemble my father, although I have my mother's and her mother's, er... rather chunky physique. It's starting to dawn on me how to accept myself this way, rather than hate every square inch of myself.  Anyway, I do not remember my mother well enough to know if I have any of her behaviors, although I'm told my silliness, giggling, and love of game-playing come from Mom. I have a few of my dad's minor habits, like playing with my earlobes while I drive or think, but thankfully I do not resemble his behavior much beyond that. Phew.
 
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8) McLachlan is one of the founders of Lilith Fair, a summer concert series designed to showcase talented female performers. Do/did your summer plans include an outdoor concert?
 
No, although we were supposed to go to a big outdoor concert last weekend. We had to miss it, because of my illness. Hopefully there will be more to come!
 
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9) Random question: Which of these men would you most like to be seated with at dinner -- Clint Eastwood, Prince William or Jimmy Fallon?
 
Well, given my answer to the first question, I think it's obvious that I would choose the prince! I have no care to talk to Mr. Eastwood, although I'm sure Jimmy Fallon would be hilarious fun to pair up with over dinner, but you know I would have a lot to talk about with Prince William. Hopefully no tears in our pudding, though.
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
Thanks, Sam, I really enjoyed this week's questions. Happy Saturday, y'all! 
 
Fin.

Sunday Stealing: The Ice-Breaker Meme

Here we are again! Link up here if you're playing along today.

~*~*~*~*~

Cheers to all of us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Icebreaker Questions

  1. Are you loud, outgoing or shy?

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No, see, I am all the things! It just depends on when, where, and with whom! I'm extremely introverted and shy around people I don't know or have just met, but when I'm completely comfortable and warmed up to you, watch out world! 

  1. What’s coming up where you’ll see an old friend?

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Coming up: After we move to Idaho, I'm totally going to have a meetup with Stacy from Stacy Uncorked, who lives in the general area! I've read her blog for years, so I'm truly excited. I think she is a kindred spirit... And she is making me wine that she crafted herself! Whee!

Carey and Melanie

Yesterday: I met Carey for the first time, after knowing her online for 13 years!! We both live in South Florida now (neither did when we met) but have kept missing each other at various times. Finally, it was meant to be at the Miami Women's Rally to stand in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, D.C. (It was pretty epic, by the way. Stay tuned for more on that in a future post.)

  1. Are you easy to get along with?

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Nope. Next!

  1. Have you ever given up on someone, but then gone back to them?

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 Does it count if I'm talking about my father, a Narcissist in the truest sense of the word? (Like the Mango Mussolini we now have in the White House.) I have such a complicated relationship with the man. The older I get, the more I'm able to separate myself from his words and opinions that used to cut me to the core, but every so often he gets a good dig in without even realizing what a dick asshole motherfucker jerk he is to people who are no longer of real use to him. But because I lost my mom as a little girl, I have cut him out of my life only to find I really still needed a parent. Like I said,... complicated.

  1. Who was the last person that you had a deep conversation with?

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This girl!! At 15 years, 4 months old, my daughter Chloë has turned into quite the logistics professor. She can be irrational - who can't? - on the odd occasion, but for the most part, she is great to have a discussion with. It's wonderful that she is turning into a feminist who stands up for herself, I think. We discussed Women and/in Politics.

  1. Are you okay with being in a big crowd?

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 I'd rather be in a big crowd than in front of one, so sure. I do not like the feeling of being trampled or having taller people (which is nearly everyone) looming over me, so I do try to keep some illusion of personal space about me.

  1. Do you believe in luck and/or miracles?

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I guess. I'm feeling a little disheartened right now because of our (the United States') current political landscape, but there is a small spark of hope. I think it will take a miracle to turn this ship around. There are so many hotbutton issues right now that have people arguing, and here I am. I feel like I want to get a bullhorn and shout everywhere, "IT'S THE CLIMATE CHANGE, STUPID!" 

  1. What good thing happened during the summer? (It’s good to think about summer when you are freezing your butt off in January.)

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Technically, it's Winter right now, but we don't seem to acknowledge that here in Miami. This picture is from Thursday, when we went to our community pool. My rheumatologist, who had all but forbidden me from stepping out in the daylight, gave me the go-ahead to walk in the pool close to sundown.  The exercise is necessary and good, the sun doesn't affect me as much then, and the water has been warmed by hour's worth of sunshine. Except... it wasn't. The pool was freezing!! Nonetheless, I got all the way in and even swam three full lengths underwater, despite being grossly out of shape when it comes to my respiration. I was completely worn out throughout the evening and the next day, but I could do that 2-3 times a week and yoga/pilates/meditation 2-3 days a week. How I've missed the water!

(P.S. My son would like you to know that despite her Amazonian height, he is nearly 14 and is the "big" brother to Sophia, aged 11.)

  1. Do you think there is life on other planets?

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I believe it is certainly plausible and yet remains to be seen. Or not!

  1. Who was your first crush on?

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 Dennis Boyce, in 4th and 5th grades. He was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed cutie. He's married a friend of mine now. I haven't seen him, nor really thought about him, in years.

  1. What are your bad habits?

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The mother of all my vices is that I am nothing if not self-indulgent. I'm impatient. I like what I like, I know what I want, and I want it now. It leads to many an argument that starts something like me going, "Today, maybe?" to my husband and him replying, "I did not know you meant right now." I answer, "Have you met me?!" and we're off to the races kids! I'm not proud of it. 

  1. What’s your favorite part of your daily routine?

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Getting the mail! Or a really good e-mail, even. Oh, wait, no - on Mondays thru Fridays, it's watching Jeopardy! with my husband. For over 16 years now, that has been our weeknightly date. We bet on the Final Round and everything. I wonder who's winning...

  1. Other than your significant other, who are you most comfortable with?

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♥ These turdburglars, who allow me to be who I am at all times and still love me at the end! ♥

  1. Has an ex ever told you that they regret breaking up?

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Sure, if i think about it. Not really anything that matters to me now, so I don't think of it.

  1. Why should your celebrity crush drop everything to be with you?

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Look at that beautiful family! Look at mine! He should not.

  1. What would be the hardest to give up and why? Books. TV. Music.

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Music. I grew up with some kind of noise always on, whether it be my three older sisters' boomboxes (hee!) or the perpetual drone of the television. As a result, I am uncomfortable with quietude, so I always have something on for noise. However, when we move, I'm going to make an intentional effort to turn it off for as long as I can each day, or have a separate space far from my computer anyway. It's important, I recently read, for kids to have a quiet space where they can feel comfortable with the noiselessness. I'm on board with that.

  1. Do you believe in second chances?

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Sure. If they are truly remorseful and express that by more than just saying a quick, mumbled "sorry," I'm generally willing to forgive. But I rarely forget.

  1. What would like to do next in your life?

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Successfully move all 13 of us from Miami, Florida to Boise, Idaho! Coming attractions to look for in March 2017, woot! 

  1. What’s the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

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From my father after my "Identical Twin Son 'A," Robby died: "Maybe your body just wasn't put together right to have children."

From dozens upon dozens of people ever since, as though he was the booby prize or maybe Robby would have been: "At least you still have Jack."

A year after that, from a friend I have since forgiven: "When are you going to get over that 'dead baby' thing?"

All were equally devastating, but more cruel than straight-up mean.

  1. What’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

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My daughter Chloë, was then 12, told me this: "It's okay, Mom. I understand," sometime in the weeks after my husband's 13-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor. Rob was home from the hospital by then, but he wasn't "back" yet, and it was like raising another - more difficult - child. Plus he was in pain, so I had to work to keep that at bay. And no one was helping me out with the laundry or dishes or any of that, and I just completely lost my shit one day. I excused myself to take a "time-out," and then I called them all in to apologize for my bad behavior. Her words were so kind and needed.

What a refreshing way to end, rather than on the penultimate question! Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Trips Afield: Bradenton & Sarasota Visit To See Stephanie, Lucas & Vinnie!

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This past Friday was a day we were looking forward to all week! Remember our good friends Stephanie and Tim, and their two boys Luke and Vinnie, from Virginia? Well, Steph and the kids came down to Florida to visit family and have some fun. Of COURSE we had to drive up to see them! They stayed in Bradenton for the week, and though money was tight, I told Steph I would move Heaven and Earth to be able to go see them. And we did!

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We got lost about two miles from their condo, because our GPS would not connect. I drove around for about an hour until we finally landed in the right development. When we arrived, 6-year-old Luke rushed out the door, bear-hugged Jack, and then ran back inside ignoring the rest of us. It was too funny! All five kids were getting along famously, which was great, since Steph and I had no firm plans other than to hang out and enjoy the day together. She wanted to go to the beach, and since I had lived in nearby Sarasota many moons ago while I worked at Mote Marine Laboratory, I suggested we go down to St. Armand's Circle and nearby Lido Beach. I thought it would be exactly the sort of fine white sand and low waves that would suit all of us.

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Four-year-old Vinnie was worried about getting sand on his feet and initially didn't want to go to the beach, but he was able to have some fun after all!

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Stephanie - one of my favorite friends in the world ♥

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You know when you're trying to take a decent candid shot of everybody (except yourself, of course, because why would you want to do that?), and everyone keeps looking away from the camera? Yeah, that kept happening.

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Lucas Wayne, showing off his way-cool, totally indestructible glasses

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I love this kid and his zest for life!

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Mama Stephanie and her boy-childrens ♥

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Of course, I took a few pix of my own children, but I can do that all the time. Vinnie and Lucas were my lens' focus that day!

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Look at that little nub of a nose! *Swoon*

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Jack River buried himself up to his, as Chloë put it, nipples. Er, uh, looks like his nipples are on his clavicle? :P

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Sisters eatin' sammiches

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This is my favorite picture of the trip. Or maybe ever. So cute!!! ♥

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I'm not sure what it is about this simple foto of Chloë drinking water, but I love it. I seriously love it.

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☼ ♪ ♫ The sun is hot. It burns all day. But I don't need no Bain de Soleil.

I'm on the sand. Girls at hand. I got secret plan.

The sun don't hurt, 'cause I got on a t-shirt.

I've got a Farmer Tan! ♫ ♪ ☼

(No one from my Durgee Junior High days - in Baldwinsville, NY - will probably be reading this; surely, they would remember singing this ridiculous but fun song in chorus!)

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After we finished up at the beach, we went back to Stephanie's condo in Bradenton and put Vinnie down for a nap. I stayed with him in the condo, while Steph took the other four kids to the pool. Not enough swimming in a day!

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Eventually, Vinnie woke up, so we walked over to the pool together. These five waterbabies had a splish-splashin' fun time!

I didn't swim in the pool, but I should have, because I quickly overheated.

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Steph was throwing the kids up in the air ... even my two big girls! Something I could never do, after the reached a certain size. She's a strong girl!

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♥ One more of my Virginia bestie, Stephernuggets ♥

And there you have it!

{From there, we raced home to meet Rob, who was having some serious neuro stuff going on. He'd had a migraine for a few days, and his other symptoms related to the tumor-formerly-in-his-head were acting up. I took him to the ER, and they treated the migraine but didn't do another MRI. His symptoms have since abated, but we'll still follow up with his neuro team as appropriate, this week. I hate when he scares me like that!}

Great to see Stephanie and the boys, and I was excited to learn that Vinnie can now wear cotton and linen and all the things! Like, store-bought things! After 4½ years of wearing only silk, cashmere, and/or wool, that's a fantastic development!

Cheers.

Fin.

 


Sunday Stealing: The New Year Meme

Link up here if you're fabulous, darling!

The New Year's Eve Meme

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

In 2014, I gained:

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

I lost:

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

I stopped:

wondering when Hubs would recover.

I started:

wondering IF he would. :'(

I was hugely satisfied by:

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

And frustrated by: 

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

I am so embarrassed that I: 

have such a messy house.

Once again, I:

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

Once again, I did not:

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

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

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

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

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

I loved spending time:

with the people who loved spending time with me.

Why did I spend even two minutes: 

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

I should have spent more time: 

knitting for Stephanie's kiddo, Vinnie.

I regret buying: 

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

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

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

I ...way too much.

complained about stupid sh*t

I didn’t... enough.

exercise

 ... drove me crazy.

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

The most relaxing place I went was:

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

Why did I go to...

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

The best thing I did for someone else was:

for once, keep my mouth shut and simply apologize.

The best thing I did for myself was:

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

The best thing someone did for me was:

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

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

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

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

Fin.

 


It Started With A Sweater.

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Yesterday was Friday, November 7th, 2014. We've had a busy week of homeschooling! I'm going to start backward from Friday because, as any busy mother will understand, what's easiest on my tired brain is what wins right now. I started the day with this unfinished hoodie sweater for Stephanie's son Vinnie who, as you may remember, is allergic to, like, practically everything on the planet. Including the planet. So when I can, I knit for him.

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After Victoria was dropped off by her mom, Veronica, we did the kids' weekly spelling test before running off to Publix for supplies for lunch. When we returned home, I packed lunches while the kiddos watched their daily Math-U-See lesson. I printed off their practice work to do in the car - hey, carschooling is a thing! - and then off we went for an hour-long drive to downtown Miami.

We were in search of the site of ancient Tequesta ruins, found over the past year among the high-rise office buildings, hotels, and condominiums that make up much of the city. I read article after article about the findings, but I could not for the life of me find the exact location of the excavation, which is still underway. So I warned the kids that while I hoped we would find it, we might not see a darn thing.

I drove to the hotel mentioned in one article, the J.W. Marriott Marquis, and lo and behold, there was this site cordoned off by fences and barricades. I was terribly excited, knowing in my heart of hearts that that was the place. And so, for eight bucks an hour, I parked in the closest garage I could find... and mentally crossed my fingers.

The kids were kind of under a microscope in the city, this being in the middle of a busy workday in a huge office building as we rode down the elevator. One lady stepped on and couldn't keep herself from saying aloud, "Well! This is interesting!" to my amusement. I cautioned them to behave, hold hands when crossing streets, and above all, be completely respectful of the site if we had, indeed, found the ancient Tequesta burial grounds.

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This woman, a Mrs. Carr whose first name I didn't catch, was looking at the five of us curiously when we approached the site where workers were... digging and hauling artifacts. She walked to her car nearby and then, I took my chance. "Excuse me, ma'am?" I called out to her. She hesitated, looked around, and then came over. "Is this the site of the Tequesta burial grounds?" To my utter delight, she confirmed that it was! We found it on the first go!

Not only that, but she turned out to be the wife of the internationally famous archaeologist, Robert Carr, who also came over and introduced himself to us! Of course, I had to explain who the heck we were and what we were doing there. Dr. Carr surprised me by first telling me about his book, Digging Miami, which can be found here on Amazon.com, and then telling the Mrs. to bring over some artifacts to show the children! 

Yeah, folks. We struck homeschool field trip GOLD. Fo'reals.

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Mrs. Carr told the kids about the Tequesta way of life. She explained, as we had previously read over the past week, that these native people were not farmers but rather hunters and gatherers, relying on fish and other seafood that pretty much came right to them, allowing for much leisure time - a rarity amongst the whole of American Indians. Here, she was showing them a piece of pottery, made mostly of sand. No clay is found in the Miami area, y'all.

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The hundreds-of-years-old bone of a turtle was shown, explaining yet another part of the Tequesta diet.

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Dr. Carr's wife also brought over a fossil conch shell to show the kids that not only did the Tequesta feast on the plentiful mollusk, but they used the shell for digging and scooping as well.

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After the kids learned quite a bit of cool information about the Tequesta from Dr. and Mrs. Carr, and handled some ancient artifacts, we were left alone to peaceably observe the excavation. We bowed our heads and took a moment of silence, out of respect for the people who exist no more. Solemnly, yet excitedly, we headed back to the car to discuss what we had just experienced. The kids were curious and respectful, and I was just utterly full of awe and gratitude.

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By that point, everyone was starving, so I found nearby Gibson Park for lunch. We feasted on turkey and Meunster sammiches, a variety of fruit, juice boxes, and Pepperidge Farm cookies. Hey, guess what was on sale at Publix today? However, I quickly discovered that we were in an area of Miami called Overtown, and... well, it is well-known as not the safest place to be if you're of the paler skin persuasion. We were surrounded by children who kept their distance but stared at us the whole time.

I don't have a racist bone in my body, so I didn't feel scared, but I will admit to feeling uncomfortable there. Out of place, if you will, and kind of unwanted. Speaking of under a microscope...! Fortunately - or not? - three of us seriously needed to use the bathroom, and we could not find a restroom in the park. So we left, with my promises that we would go home and find a park closer to Homestead.

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After stopping at the Overtown Winn-Dixie to use the facilities, the five of us headed home. The math papers were not finished; the kids chose to snooze or chatter about Tequesta people on the hour-plus drive home in the Miami rush hour traffic. We picked up Rob and Paco at home before heading to a nearby park where Chloe is supposed to be having her Cheerleading practice.

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There was a gated-in area where the kids could play, so I took the kids in there while Rob and Paco sat on a bench outside. Paco hadn't seen Mama all day, though, so all he wanted to do was be near me.

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Poor, but adorable, Paco... but oh, the cute!

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The girls really enjoyed this half-swing, half-jump feature of the playground. Every time I turned around, one, two, or three of them were on there again. Jack got a chance or two at it, but not many!

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He found this curious structure in one corner of the park, with a hole in it. Expecting there to be something on the other side of the park where his voice would come out to a passerby, he hollered, "HELLO!!!!!" into the hole.

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A second later, his own voice returned the hello.

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I managed to capture this, "What the heck?!" look on his face when he heard the echo. It was pretty fun. He yelled a whole bunch more into it and twisted his voice each time, to make different sounds. Yup, I see more visits to this park in the near future!

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Soon, it grew dark, and I missed my hubs and my dog. So I announced a 10-minute, and then a 5-minute, warning before we headed home. I had asked Veronica if Victoria could stay for dinner, and she agreed. 

Back at home, I had the kids blog about the Tequesta field trip on their own personal blogs (they're password-protected, so if you want to read their posts, you'll have to ask me for the deets) while I made a dinner of baby artichokes and turkey sliders. No cheese for Jack, please!

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For the second time in a week, I gave the four kidoodles a cup of vanilla and chocolate pudding for dessert. They all ate a great deal for dinner and dessert; between the field trip and the park day, I must have worn them out and hungered them up but good!

After dinner, they finished their blog posts and then wanted to work on our Astronomy lessons, but I was waaaaay too tired to keep doing school. The six of us played the family edition of Trivial Pursuit instead. It was fun and full of laughter, and we all had a great time. Sophia won for the first time, and man, did she let us know it!

I took Victoria home after that and crashed soon afterward... but only for a little while, as you can see it's not even 0400 and I'm sitting here posting on this little bitty blahg.

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Oh... and now, the sweater has its hood. Next up: SLEEVES!

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.

 


Carpe Diem Natalem

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Last Sunday, our baby, Sophia Lorelei, turned NINE! Holy cow. One more year, and all of our kiddos will be in their two-digit ages for the rest of the time we're together on this earth. Good Lord, time flies. "The days are long, but the years are short."

I totally bought all the ingredients for an incredibly awesome arts and crafts-themed birthday party for her, but I completely neglected to plan the actual soiree in an epic parenting FAIL. So maybe we'll do that next year?!

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I went to 7-Eleven that morning, for a diet soda refill. I do that all the time, NBD. Chloë grabbed her purse and came with me, so I figured she'd buy herself a little somethin'-somethin'. Instead, she surprised me by asking me what flavor of Slurpee Sophia likes best. She didn't even get herself something; she only bought her sister the Slurpee. She's a keeper!

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A couple of months ago, I had purchased a deal for the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience in Fort Lauderdale, on the Groupon-like site, Living Social. A couple of months ago, Sophia was still into Barbie. She's really not anymore, not at all, but I had the thing and nothing else to give her, really, so she and I went off to have a special Mommy-and-Sophie day together.

I had no other money for anything extra, and she understood this. At Sawgrass, where the Dreamhouse is located, we spotted one of those cool spiral money donation thingamajigs. She loves them, so I gave her a penny. She was so thrilled to watch her penny go down, and I was equally thrilled to have made my baby girl smile for only 1¢.

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Once we arrived at the Dreamhouse, we were told that it would be an hour wait before the next tour. We signed up for that and then headed back outside, into the sunshine. Er, what sunshine? It was starting to drizzle. But you know what? Sophia loves nothing better than to run in between raindrops and jump in puddles. And guess who she gets that characteristic spunk from? ;) We danced on the fountains together in the rain, while onlookers stared. I didn't give a fig, either. My babe was having fun, and I was having it right along with her!

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The Barbie Dreamhouse Experience - we waited. And waited. An hour is a long time when you're nine, y'know?

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Of course, we paused for a few obligatory selfies in that timeframe, too. I posted this one online and got called "stunning" by Stephanie of STIM fame. Cool!

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Finally, it was five minutes before the tour, so we headed back into the Dreamhouse to wait. Sophia got in the Barbie doll box for a fun photo op, and I obliged her despite the multitude of warnings disallowing photography. Really? Why else would it be there? ;P

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Photo Op #2 amongst the Barbie flowers

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Photo Op #3 in "The Oval"

(The signs stated "Barbie's FRIENDS" were the only ones who could take pictures in there, but the hired FRIENDS didn't seem to care that we mothers were snapping pictures left, right, and center, so I felt no shame. Besides, I was friends with ol' Barb long before these kids were ever even dreamed of.)

The Dreamhouse itself was a pretty lame experience. I'm glad we didn't pay anywhere near full price for it. And I'm glad my kid is too old to want to go back again, now, but I'm even gladder that she still managed to have fun anyway.

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This guy was playing Miley "Look at Me Twerk" Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" on his electric cello for tips, in the center of the mall. It took me a second to place the song, because it was so beautiful! Surprising, huh? I wanted to take a picture of him, because it was blogworthy, but I didn't think I should do so without leaving some sort of tip in his jar. I dug through my purse and came up with about 55¢, which I threw in the jar after I snapped a pic. He looked at me with utter disdain. Hey, dude, I get it, but who's the one playing to a vastly unappreciated audience in a shopping center?!

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We popped into the Godiva store for a free birthday bonbon. She chose the Death by Chocolate one. A girl after my own heart!

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After a brief stop to admire the spinner chimes we'd admired on the way in, we headed home. I didn't think it had been much - or anywhere near enough - for her birthday, but she officially declared it a great day. Satisfied, she slept all the way home and put herself to bed early. I did, too. Here it is, a week later, and I still have yet to make her a cake of any kind. "Birthday season," I can hear my mama-in-law insisting, and so I don't feel too terrible about it.

Fin.


Friday Fragments, Version 4.11.14

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Hey folks! I haven't fragged in a long, long time, since I've been such a horribly inconsistent blahgger during this past Year of the Brain Drama. So, welcome back, if you're visiting here from Half Past Kissin' Time and, somehow, still remember who I am. If not, welcome! Stick around, I'll be posting here again soon. Like, within a month, I swear. ;)

Link up here if you're playing along today - and read the post to see how you can win some cool prizes, too!

It was the weirdest thing, y'all: I got stung by a pissed-off bee? Wasp? Hornet? I don't know. Some kind of flying black insect with a nasty sting and a bad attitude. He dropped dead shortly after injecting me right below my left eye with his venom, and part of me cheered his demise while the biologist in me felt bad for helping to hasten it.

ANYWAY... it hurt like hell, but by the time I finished the drive home from Tampa to Miami, the swelling had gone down and it didn't hurt a bit. So it was with my surprise that I realized, the next morning, that the swelling had not only returned, but my left cheek was numb as well. This went away, and returned, and went away, and returned, repeatedly over the next few days, until Monday afternoon when my friends insisted I go to Urgent Care and get it checked out. Steph (of Stim fame) urged me to go immediately, and so I went.

After hearing my tale and seeing my left-side-droopy face, they sent me to the Emergency Department at the nearby hospital. The PA there diagnosed me with Bell's Palsy, completely unrelated to the sting, and ordered blood tests and a CT scan.

While I was getting my blood drawn, the lab techs informed me that my room was ready. "Room? What room?" I asked, puzzled. Long story short, my bloodwork was fine except for dehydration, but my CT showed a lesion in my left temporal lobe. What? Seriously? The doctor said it could be anything from nothing at all to an old infarction (a stroke? a temporary ischemic attack? Who knows?) to a tumor. They ordered an MRI for the next day and told me to sleep. 

Short story long, and I suppose this is now about three fragments too long for this post, they cut me loose the next day and told me to have an MRI as an outpatient. I'm getting it next week. I wasn't worried until I started losing some of my memory and partial sight in my left eye tonight, but I'm still not too terribly panicked. Hubs and I can't both have brain tumors, amIright? That would just be insane.

Having had a craniotomy to remove his tumor on February 5th, Rob is doing, well, not much better. He still uses a cane and, sometimes, even needs to revert to his walker. He sleeps all the time. However, we can carry on a semi-normal conversation now, and he can still make me laugh like nobody else. I guess when they remove mineralized bits of your brain and dig around inside your skull, it's pretty amazing to think you should have been all better by now (had it not been for last year's Cyberknife procedures). I won't rush him.

You know what I hate? When the po-po are out cruising on the Turnpike and going 5 MPH under the speed limit. Are they playing games with us, or what? Of course, everyone stays behind the police car for fear of getting a ticket... everyone except me. Ain't nobody got time for that! I always pass the officer, going no more than 5 MPH over the speed limit, yet keeping a careful eye on my mirror. I mean, I've only gotten *mumble, mumble* speeding tickets in the last 20 years. #scofflaw

Speaking of the Turnpike and weird things happening, guess what? I live in Miami, right? One of the biggest, busiest, most heavily-trafficked cities in the nation? So imagine how much I laughed when I had to divert my path off the Turnpike today because several cows - yes, cows, like, moo-moo - were wandering around, blocking the cars. HEE-larious.

I had this conversation with 11-year-old Jack and 12-year-old Chloë today:

Chloë: "Mom, I stubbed my toe on that levitated thing between the bathroom and the bedroom. It hurts!"

Mel: "I'm sorry. But, 'levitated' means floating in the air...'

C: "Oh, so what should I say? 'Elevated' is the right word, right?"

M: "You could say that. I would just say 'raised'..." (I always trail off, it seems.)

Jack: "Wait, what was levitating?"

C: "Nothing was!"

J: "No really, what was levitating?!"

C: "UFOs, geez!"

M: **laughs**

{End scene.}

Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of my mom's death at age 33 from untreated diabetes. I was seven years old. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life, and mine have not been an easy 37 years. So you'd think, after three decades of asking my sister and me on the phone, "Do you know what today is?" my dad would get the clue that no, we will not ever forget the day.

(Get yourself checked out regularly, folks. Senseless deaths like hers ... sigh.)

Mama

So, tomorrow we drive back down to Key West. I have lots of work to do down there. It's great because, hey, money... but I have no jobs to do on the way down or back, and it's a good three hours each way. And it always rains on the way back. Never fails.

Thanks for stopping by! Maybe, just maybe, I'll see you again here next week for more fragments. (My grandma always told me the road to hell was paved with good intentions, which I never really understood as a kid because I thought she was telling me I should have bad intentions!)

Fin.