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Saturday 9: Just Because

Elvis Presley: A First-Time Listener's Guide | Billboard – Billboard

Howdy-ho, neighbors! This weekend's post focuses on this song, Just Because, by Elvis Presley.  This is significant to me because I grew up with a dad who absolutely idolized the man (and, I'm sure, still does) and could do a mean impression of him as well. My dad could sing well, could do the moves, and even had some of the requisite attire to make the whole thing convincing. Of course, I've heard every Elvis song ever, 50,000 times over, backward and forward... right?

I had not ever heard this song before.

So, my friends, link up here if you want to join us this weekend. Read on for my answers. Thank you, Crazy Sam, for dusting this one off for me (okay, us)! Let's hit it:


Saturday 9: Just Because (1956)

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

1) In this week's song, Elvis complains that his girl has confused him with Santa Claus. This time of year, Santa is prominent. Did you more recently hear Santa referred to in a song, see him in a holiday decoration or ad, watch him in a film or TV show, or maybe even met him in person, ringing a bell or asking kids if they have been naughty or nice?

Christmas Carols for Children | Christmas songs for kids, Christmas carols  for kids, Xmas songs

Yes, we've been listening to a lot of Christmas carols lately as we work through the activities in our Advent calendar. Santa features prominently in these, of course.

2) Finally Elvis just can't take it anymore and breaks up with her, just because. Is there anyone in your life who has a way of pressing your buttons and getting on your nerves?

That's probably true for everyone, I'm guessing.

3) "Just Because" is one of the last songs Elvis recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis. TripAdvisor recommends a Sun Studio tour as one of the top things to do in Memphis. Have you ever been to Memphis? If yes, what did you do?

15 TOP Things To Do in Memphis | Attractions & Activities

I've only ever driven through Memphis, and also Nashville, and also half a dozen times Chattanooga. I have stayed in Gatlinburg. Memphis would be an interesting trip, though.

4) Elvis left Sun for RCA, a much bigger record label. As part of the deal, RCA negotiated for the rights to all his unreleased Sun songs. "Just Because" is one of them, and it was included on Elvis' first RCA album. Have you gotten a good deal on anything lately?

Best Buy: SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker Kit Icy Blue 1011711017

I get a good deal on just about everything. Like the SodaStream I got for Chloë for Christmas, I paid nowhere near full price, nor did I pay full price for the flavors for it, nor will I ever! And she'll be so thrilled to have it, so win-win!

5) In 1956, when "Just Because" was released, non-stick cookware was first introduced. Do you have any Teflon in your kitchen right now?

Shock Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

No way in hell!

6) Elvis thought peacocks were beautiful and commissioned stained glass peacock panels for his living room. Do you have any stained glass in your home?

The Most Beautiful Stained Glass in the World | Condé Nast Traveler

No, but I certainly do wish! It's so beautiful.

7) He tried to keep peacocks at Graceland. One of the birds saw its reflection in Elvis' gold Cadillac and started pecking, ruining the car's expensive paint job. Elvis donated the peacocks to the Memphis Zoo. Have you ever had a bird as a pet?

Well not exactly pets, but we used to keep chickens when we lived in Idaho for the eggs, and the five of us each had "our" specific chickens that we felt we belonged to and were particularly attached to. I loved those chickens. Here, we're not allowed to have any because of our HOA rules, even though the town would allow three, which makes me want to be a scofflaw and keep ducks. They don't say anything about ducks.

8) Elvis decorated the long Graceland driveway for the holidays with blue lights. His father teased that with the airport nearby, pilots might confuse their driveway with a runway. What airport is nearest your home?

I believe the nearest major airport is Baltimore International, although we have tons of regional ones between there and here.

9) When Elvis was alive, he kept the holiday lights up until January 9, the day after his birthday. That tradition continues at Graceland today. Conventional etiquette tells us Christmas decorations should go up the day after Thanksgiving and come down before January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas). Do you think it's ever too early, or too late, for Christmas decorations?

Holiday Light Displays | VisitMaryland.org

Well, for stores and other commercial enterprises, yeah, I kinda think there is a limit for too-early/too-late. But for private families and people, I think, who gives a rat's behind? Let people do what makes them happy! So what if Joe Schmoe at the end of the block likes to keep his lights up until the end of March and put them up again after Halloween? What's it to me? I don't pay his light bill and it's honestly kind of pretty. I'm of more of a laissez-faire kind of mind about that for private citizens.


Welp, that's all folks! Back to wrapping presents with Chloë, my eldest! Seems like the job will never be done, but that's not a complaint! I'm grateful for the abundance, always grateful.

Have a wonderful week on purpose, everybody!


Saturday 9: Back In The U.S.A.

Linda Ronstadt - Living In The U.S.A., rock star galleryROCK STAR gallery

Hey, y'all! Can you even believe that half the year is gone now? I cannot. I think this whole last year of my last baby's childhood, I'm going to be trying to snatch the days back like money flying in the wind. 

Typically, Independence Day is my favorite holiday. But, like I read recently online (I know, I know), I think every American woman and girl should take a knee whenever the national anthem is played right now. So sad. I still like those fireworks though, can't lie.

I'm supposed to be working on my grocery list right now, but until Hubs comes back to check my printer's paper jam for me, I'm doing this, haha. Join us over here at Saturday 9 to get in on the action.



Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.
From the archives, with some tweaks

1) This song lists seven cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge and St. Louis -- that Linda just loves. How many have you visited?
50 years later, St. Louis's Gateway Arch emerges with a new name and a  skeptical view of western expansion - The Washington Post
I have been to New York, LA, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge, and St. Louis. Two more to go, I guess. I still have time. Definitely want to visit Chi-town!

2) The lyrics refer to hamburgers sizzling on the grill. What toppings do you believe make a perfect burger?
CLOSED: Elevation Burger - Bangor Maine Restaurant - HappyCow
Weeellll. It would be a veggie burger with plant-based cheese (probably Daiya brand), and that's about it. The Elevation Burger veggie burgers (and regular burgers, I'm told) are AMAZING. If you've got one near you, check 'em out.

3) The original recording of this song by Chuck Berry has always been one of Linda Ronstadt's favorites, one she used to enjoy singing along with in the car. What's the most recent song you sang?
The 10 Best Chuck Berry Albums – Rock Pasta
That's so funny. I think it was just yesterday that I was singing "The Twist" to one or both of the girls (who remembers, these days?!) because they had never heard of it or Chuck Berry. And they still had no idea. I told them to go to a wedding. It's still probably outdated if it's someone their ages, right?

4) Linda performed The National Anthem at Game 3 of the 1977 World Series. The New York Yankees won both that game and the series. How is your baseball team doing this season?
Logos and uniforms of the New York Mets - Wikipedia
Oh, I haven't paid attention to baseball in mannnnnny years. Hubs' mother's team was the Cubs. And so Hubs gets excited when the Cubs do well. Like when they won the Series a few years ago. And so I get excited when the Cubs do well, too.
5) On the sleeve for this record, Linda was photographed on roller skates. Emergency rooms report a spike in wrist injuries, with people falling off skates and skateboards and jamming their wrists catching softballs. Have you recently been to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care? 
Hospital IV two weeks ago, bruising still. | BabyCenter
{Note: This is not my arm. My arm, in fact, actually bruised much worse, but it always does.} It isn't really about the bruise I have, from a recent, but what lies beneath. Hubs has been wanting to take me to the ER for days. We think I may have a superficial vein thrombosis or something similar. That, the extreme pain when certain things touch certain areas of my arm, and the clotting disorder I have have him very worried. But you all know I'm stubborn, right? So I haven't gone.
6) It's July, so summer is in full swing. Bug bites are a big summer annoyance. Are you itching and scratching this morning?
Aunt Fannie's - Mosquito Repellent Wipes - view 1
No, not at all. {Knock wood.} We've been using these Mosquite Wipes from Aunt Fannie's for the first time, and so far, so good. Even when we've been to the beach, no buggies. They come in individual packs (which I like for venturing out) and big canisters (which I like for just using here). Plus the brand has a TON of other remedies. I buy them Grove Collaborative, which I ADORE. If you haven't tried Grove yet, you can use my link here if you decide to place a small order for the wipes or anything else, and you can get a FREE full-size gift set. I love them.
Since this is our last Saturday 9 before Independence Day, let's ask some questions related to the holiday. 
History of the Invention of Fireworks  Usa Flag Icon PNG, Transparent Usa Flag Icon PNG Image Free Download -  PNGkey History of the Invention of Fireworks
6) The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence. What's the most recent printed media you have read (newspaper, magazine, newsletter, etc.)?
12 Timeless Design Ideas from the VERANDA Archives 2022
I've had, in my hot little hands, a copy of the May-June 2022 issue of Veranda magazine. And I subscribe to the belief system hinted at on the cover: house as storyteller. Definitely maximalism. I no longer shy away.

7) In high school, Sam was crazy about American history and got good grades. Science was her worst subject. In high school, where did you shine? In what subject were your grades not so hot?
science symbol - Google Search | Science symbols, Atom, Physics
I really didn't have a not-so-hot subject, but I excelled mostly in science and math. If anything, our subjects were reversed but only because I had to work at Social Studies.

8) The first 4th of July parade each year is held at 12:01 AM in Gatlinberg, TN. Will you attend a parade or fireworks to celebrate the 4th?
01/20/2022 | Fireworks To Return To Northside Park This Summer | News Ocean  City MD
That's definitely the plan, yes. We'll go to a fireworks show here in our town, which is kind of the biggest little city here on the Delmarva Peninsula. Next year, maybe, we'll brave Ocean City for the fireworks, where I'm sure it's quite amazing. (I'm sure the critters don't think so.)

9) Americans love to celebrate our independence. In fact, there are more than 30 towns all across the US called Independence. There are two in MN alone (one outside Duluth, the other west of Minneapolis). Please google it and let us know: does your state have an Independence?
I don't think so; all I could find was a yacht. Hey, can I go?
Welp, I'm a day late and a dollar short, so if you stop by, thank you very much, , and if you don't, who could blame ye?
Now don't go out there and blow your hand off with some rockets or whatever. Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

Saturday 9: Give A Little Love

Naomi Judd Dead at 76 of Mental Illness | PEOPLE.com

Hello, friends. Well, a sad week is upon us S-9ers, that's for sure. I bet I'm not the only one who could say I grew up with the Judds on the TV now and then. RIP, Naomi.

I've battled this same demon for years and years myself, and so far, I've won every battle. Fingers are crossed I'll win every single one to come, and if any of you are along in the same boat, you'll win yours, too.

If you need help:


or text "STRENGTH" TO 741-741

or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

Let's do this. Link up here if you're yakking along with us this week:


Saturday 9: Give a Little Love (1988)

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

In memory of Naomi Judd (1946-2022)

1) In this week's song, the Judds tell us they aren't impressed by diamonds or foreign travel. If you had your choice, would you prefer a $1,500 diamond pendant or a $1,500 voucher from United Airlines?


Ten times out of ten, I'd rather go somewhere.
2) In the video for this song, the Judds are shown having fun on the beach. Do you have any trips to the beach planned for the upcoming summer months?
Toes in the Sand - Cocoa Beach, FL - Picture of Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa  Beach Cape Canaveral - Tripadvisor
Most definitely! We only live about 30-40 min from the ocean, so I've been biding my time for the RIGHT time. Sophia (our youngest)  wanted to take me there for her Mother's Day gift to me, but it ended up being cold & rainy, like it was for a whille before then, like it's been ever since... But as soon as the day is right, That's what we'll be doing!
3) Early in their career, this mother-daughter duo performed in clubs venues around San Francisco, where they called themselves The Hillbilly Women. Have you recently been to a bar or restaurant with live music?
Nah. We did a LOT of that in Miami, I think lastly in Key Largo, but none of that in Idaho and none yet here in Maryland. I hope to. But we left Florida in March 2017, so it would be at least 5 years since we listened to live music.
4) They moved to Nashville in 1979 in search of greater success. During the three years it took them to score a record contract, Naomi supported the family as a part-time nurse and occasional model. She enjoyed the flexibility so her schedule could accommodate auditions. Do you like having a pre-planned schedule? Or would you rather keep things loose?
Squiggle Box File | Blue Bowl
Okay, bear with me on this journey for just a moment. In 7th grade, my English teacher was Mrs. Trainham. And one day, Mrs. Trainham explained that some people were very much like a box in their thinking. In the box, always. They were boxy folks. Others people might be squiggles. Like, you could never pin down, never predict where they might be - maybe even while asking them, such out of the box thinkers they were. And then Mrs. Trainham explained we also can have boxy squiggles and squiggly boxes. I literally have spent my entire adulthood-plus going back and forth on which of those last two I am.
So anyway, for some things, for me, pre-planned is absolutely the way to go. But for many others, I love being unscheduled and having the freedom to do what I want. It's perfect... or it would be, if only I had the good health to take advantage of it.
5) Wynona sang the Elvis classic "Burning Love" in 2002 Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. What's the most recent Disney movie you've seen?
Turning Red': Pixar's taboo-busting period film leaves some men complaining  about representation | Culture | EL PAÍS English Edition
Chloë, Hubs, and I watched Turning Red most recently. I want to watch it with Sophia now.
6) In 2011, Wynona wrote her first novel, Restless Heart, about a country singer struggling with the price of fame. Have you ever tried your hand at writing fiction?
It's funny, I much prefer to read fiction over nonfiction, but I almost always write nonfiction.
7) Kid sister Ashley Judd is the only woman in her immediate family to not change her first name. Naomi was born Diana, and Wynona was originally Christina. Do you like your first name?
Glitter Text graphic | Glitter graphics, Glitter text, Melanie
I did not, growing up. But as an adult, I have definitely come to love my name. I still don't like my middle name, Ann!
8) In 1988, the year this song was popular, Sonny Bono went from entertainer to politician when he was elected Mayor of Palm Springs. Have you met the mayor of your town?
Pffft. His name is Jake Day of Salisbury, Maryland, and no, I have never met him nor any other mayor of any place I've lived. Should I add it to my Bucket List?
9) Random question: Were you a member of the Columbia House Record Club?

Columbia House is back and so is vinyl

Oh, you know I was - at least twice over! So funny. I haven't thought about that in years!


Have you guys watched "Bling Empire" on Netflix? I'm watching it now - it's great! Totally binge-worthy. Check it out.


Saturday 9: Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral

Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral That's an Irish Lullaby | Shannon, J. R. | V&A  Explore The Collections

Hello, ladies and gents and maybe those of another bent! How's it going?

I have a bit of news:

The good news: after labs were run of my psych meds and levels were found to be low, things have been adjusted, and I'm already feeling way better.

The better news: after ~7 months of hotel living, this will be coming to an end, finally... in May. We've signed a contract on a yet-to-be-built house here in Salisbury, and we're super happy with the way things turned out (except that it didn't "turn out" in, say, October!)

So cheers to better moods and not being homeless much longer!

Link up here if you want to play along with the S-9ers this weekend.


Saturday 9: Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (1944)

Selected because this Wednesday is St. Patrick's Day. Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.
1) Bing Crosby sings that he learned this song from his mother. Can you recall a song from your early childhood?
Mother's Evening Prayer - Mary Baker Eddy | Evening prayer, Prayers for  healing, Prayers
Well, it's not like a favorite song or anything, but I remember being very little while I sat in my mother's lap. She would sing this hymn, "O Gentle Presence" when I needed calming from a nightmare or some such.
2) Bing was NBC's first choice to play TV's Columbo. He turned down the role because, by that time, he was in his 60s and just didn't feel like working a full week anymore. Peter Falk eventually got the part and played Det. Columbo for 10 seasons. Do you enjoy detective stories, whether on TV, in movies or in books?
Law & Order: SVU - 10 Hilarious Memes That Will Make You Laugh
Heck yeah! All the iterations of Law & Order were made expressly for me, don'tcha know?
3) Bing could trace his family back to County Cork. While it's said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish, can you honestly claim Irish heritage?
03132021 DNA Origins
Well, and this was news and kind of a complete shock to me, according to Ancestry DNA, I can claim about 8% Irish ancestry. Never knew!
4) Other than St. Patrick, what is Ireland famous for?

Ireland is famous for Dublin castle. Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland | Blarney stone, Kissing the blarney  stone, St patrick's day quiz Ireland is famous for its cliffs.
17 Things You Didn't Know About Guinness Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe — The Mom 100 Ireland is famous for its pubs
dance GIF
Castles! the Blarney Stone! the amazing coastline! Guiness! Corned beef and cabbage! all those pubs! Step dancing! ...and soo, so much more. I would love to go someday.
5) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day?
St. Patrick's Day: The 10 most gorgeous green dresses on the red carpet
Eh. Green isn't really my color, and the tradition isn't that important to me. Now, things might be different if I looked as amazing as these fine lassies...

6) Have you ever had green beer?
green beer Blank Template - Imgflip
I have. ONCE. Once was enough. In 1998, when I was 21, my friends Shannon, Melisa, and I went out drinking with some friends from the marine lab where Melisa and I worked. Or maybe they were from the catering gig where we also worked; I forget. I wasn't going to go, because drinking beer and playing isn't really my thing, but I decided to go be a joiner. I'm not even sure I had one full beer, let alone more than one, but man, later I was soooo sick! And then next day, and into the next day, too. So sick. That was enough.

7) Have you ever ordered a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's?
Here's Everything You Want To Know About The Shamrock Shake. And Some  Things You Don't. | HuffPost Life
I cannot say for sure, but I do not think so. Maybe once, ages upon ages ago.

8) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm?
MaeMae Jewelry | Super Good Luck Bracelet | Charm Bracelet | Affirmation  Carded Jewelry
No. I don't really give much credence to these types of superstitions, although I do find it fun to play along and read the fortune cookie, pick up the penny, and stuff.

9) Speaking of Lucky Charms, they are magically delicious.  What brand of cereal is in your kitchen right now?
Part Of A Balanced Breakfast - Memebase - Funny Memes
I think right now, all we have is Cream of Wheat. My son loves that stuff! No one else does, though. Guess I've gotta go shopping.
Okay, y'all have a lovely weekend and cross your fingers my body decides it's up to taking my daughters to Assateague & Chincoteague to try and spot some wild ponies this weekend, as promised!

Sunday Stealing: Thursday Thunks On Sonntag

Summer Facebook Cover | Summer facebook cover photos, Summer cover ...

Hey there, Thieves! Welcome back! I couldn't get my post up at all late Saturday afternoon or in the evening because the plague that are migraine headaches, but better late than never, right?

Link up here to play along this week!


1 If you could be a Muppet, which would you be?

Disney Prepares to Use Its Marketing Magic to Bring Back the ...

I think Hubs and I jointly would be Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys who sit and make dumb jokes about everything around us, cracking ourselves up. I'd be whichever one was cuter!

2 Why is a chicken crossing the road in the first place??

The Southernmost Point: The "Gypsy Chickens" Of Key West

Well, as anyone who has ever kept chickens, as we have, can tell you, these are not the most brilliant animals on the planet. Also as anyone who has been to Key West even once - let alone multiple times - as I have, can tell you, they will go wherever they want to go, often in a hurry, including the middle of the road. So as for why? Clearly, the answer is: because.

3 What's your favorite muscle?

Well, that depends. In babies? I like the glutes. In a guy? I like arms - big biceps!

4 Cheerios or Rice Krispies?

Parenting - rice krispies - Funny Parenting Fails and WINs - crazy ...

I love Rice Krispies. I do not enjoy Cheerios; they smell like baby diarrhea to me. Blechhhh!

5 Is summer ever going to get here?

Global Warming—Really?

I mean, between intense climate change and the coronavirus, what are we really going to do with it? I think Earth deserves to take its time on this one.

6 Have you ever had a utility turned off by mistake or some other reason besides weather or nonpayment?

Oddly Specific - Album on Imgur

No, and like this fortune, that is oddly specific.

7 What was your "last day" of something?

03092020 Chloë L'Oreal Product Review

Hm, let's see. September 6th, 2019, was my last day of not being a parent to an adult child! (This one, that is - I never told Chloë she could grow up!)

8 If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which one would you choose?

The Big Bang Theory No GIF by CBS - Find & Share on GIPHY

I'd love to be stuck on The Big Bang Theory! At least I'd feel like I was where I belonged.

9 Did you have any type of class trip, band trip, etc., in high school? Where did you go, what did you do?

Darien Lake Harvest Festival Weekends

I know there were others, but my favorite class trip was our 9th grade one to Darien Lake, in New York. We did a fundraiser, and I raised the second most, so I got a bonus from that, too!

10 Do your feet smell?

Rofl burGer on Twitter: "SMELLY FEET #meme #funny #lol #rofl http ...

No; they do not have a nose.

11 Do you know how to french braid?

Amazing Braids😍🙆👑 by Fiona Brunka - Musely

Yes, and I can both French-braid and Dutch-braid on my own hair, too. I really want to learn to do the fishtail braid, though!

12 Two guys are walking down the street. One drops his hat and reaches down to pick it up, the other kicks him in the ass. Do you laugh?

Kick Your Ass GIFs | Tenor

That depends; am I "the other"? If not, then hopefully involuntarily at least, but I'm sure I would snort!

13 You wake up one morning and dogs are meowing and cats are barking - what are fish, elephants and crocodiles doing?

Bucketlist » Raise one eyebrow without using a finger (Simon West)

Have we run out of "real" questions, then?

14 You are going to your high school reunion. What award are you going to win?


Hammiest family!

15 You find yourself stranded on a deserted island. Soon you find a laptop with a lifelong battery & internet connection, then you find a cave with an endless supply of food and a spring of fresh water. A cruise ship comes along to save you - do you get on it?

72 Best Desert island images | Desert island, Island, Cartoon

If I get to take that laptop with me and it's not during the days of COVID, then heck, yes!

16 How many shortcuts do you have on your desktop?

funny desktop wallpapers

Five. But in my defense, it's a new laptop.

17 I offer you a pie... the most delicious pie you have ever seen. You either have to eat the entire thing in one sitting or allow me to slam it into your face, which do you choose?

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) | UI Health

I guess I'm getting a pie in the face, because I'm working with that gastric pouch on the right!

18 Are you a pen stealer?

Bright, Colorful Pens On A White Background Shot Overhead. Stock ...

Not usually! My pens are all the different colors of the rainbow. Everyone else? Blue or black. ::snooze::

19 A dude from China comes up and offers you German chocolate cake, French fries and a Boston cream pie... what color is your car?

2020 Honda Odyssey First Look | Kelley Blue Book

Black, and her name is Phoenix. But a little birdie told me I might be getting a new car this year, so... I'm game!

20 Sometimes you just have to tap your foot to your favorite song - which TV series season finale are you watching?

Modern Family' Finale Review: It Ends as It Began, Only Less ...

Modern Family is still in the DVR, waiting for me!


All right, y'all. I've got to get ready for the week ahead. Have a good one!


Saturday 9: The Rain, The Park & Other Things

Cowsills - Rain Park & Other Things - Amazon.com Music

Hello, friends. I trust you're all alive and well, but in this insane year that is 2020, that is certainly nothing to be taken for granted. So tonight, I'd like to take the opportunity to express how much I appreciate each of you, from Crazy Sam who writes the question, to all of you who join in answering them.

Today, on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, 45's administration announced they are further rolling back protections for trans and other LGBTQ+ individuals. They have just announced a change in the date of their Tulsa rally from Juneteenth - chosen during the current Black Lives Matter protests, of all things! - to the next day. At least they are listening to their own constituents of color?! But please vote, vote, vote them out.

On to the quizzionnaire; link up here to play along:


Saturday 9: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things (1967)

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

1) The Cowsills were a family band who had three hit singles. Can you name another group of popular singing siblings?

I don't know why, but I first thought of the Neville Brothers: Aaron, Art, Charles, Cyril, & Ivan. And I know it wasn't performed as a group act, but the first thing I thought of was Aaron Neville singing, "Don't Know Much" with Linda Ronstadt. Always a classic.

2) This was their first hit, and it reached #2 on the Billboard charts. It was kept out of the #1 slot by the Monkees and "Daydream Believer." What's your favorite Monkees song?

It would probably be either Daydream or the Monkees Theme Song; I remember watching a lot of that on, I think, Mtv in the 80s!

3) After seeing the Cowsill brothers perform with their mother and sister, TV producers were inspired to create the sitcom, The Partridge Family. Did you ever watch it?

Amazon.com: Watch The Partridge Family Season 2 | Prime Video

Uhh, not intentionally, ever. I think that's one of those things that it was on while I was in the room plenty of times, but I never sat down and put it on or kept it on intentionally. One or more of my sisters certainly did, though, and I was bottom of the pecking order so I never had a say.

4) In the song, the narrator takes a flower from a girl in the park. Are there flowers in your home right now?

Real Touch Flowers Centerpiece-Faux Floral Arrangement image 5

There's not. We rarely have fresh flowers in the house. I did tell my husband I'd rather have live plants growing outside than cut ones displayed inside way back when we got married, but there's another element here. We have so many animal companions in the house, and each species may encounter some danger depending on which plants and flowers we have in the house. The risk of a bad combo along with the time and care we already devote to taking proper care of the animals means that we don't often have the opportunity for plants. I hope to change that soon, and I've been doing my research. In the meantime, this faux tulip bouquet I found in the Etsy shop ACdecorshop, would be really at home here.

5) He isn't sure if the girl was real, or if he dreamed her. Tell us about a recent dream you had.

Astronaut Kathy Sullivan Becomes First Woman to Reach Challenger ...

The PTSD medicine I take, prazosin, keeps me from perceiving my dreams at all - good and bad. So I'll throw a shout-out to former astronaut-cum-oceanographer Kathy Sullivan. She's gone to space and has now recently gone to Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean (near Guam!). And then these two surfaced and called the ISS! Many exciting firsts for her; that is the real dream.

6) At the height of the Cowsills' popularity, they were hired by the American Dairy Association to promote drinking milk. If we were to peek into your refrigerator right now, would we find any milk?

Got Plant Milk? 9 Dairy-Free Milks to Try - TryVeg

Yes. My teenagers haven't bought into the the whole vegan/vegetarian movement despite my aggressive parenting in that direction, so I usually buy them half a dozen gallons of cow's milk at a time. I usually have a few different kinds of vegan milk - as above - for myself, but what I have been able to eat lately myself is really limited. And that ain't it.

7) After the band stopped performing together, John Cowsill went on to become a back up musician for the Beach Boys. His job has kept him on the road much of the time. When you travel, do you enjoy staying in hotels, or would you rather stay with friends/family?

Ham Yard Hotel: Unexpected Design | JustElite

We've done both many times. I prefer to stay in a hotel, especially since we're usually traveling with kids and sometimes even the dogs. It saves money to stay with friends and family, sure, but when you're tired and want to retreat for a while, you're still there! Sometimes I just need a break from being "on."

8)  In 1967, the year this song was popular, Elvis married Priscilla in Las Vegas. Have you attended any weddings yet this year? Are there any weddings in your future?

Fresh Ideas And Wedding Trends 2020 | Wedding Forward

No weddings. I feel pretty bad for anyone having a wedding or any big milestone event in 2020. Everything is just wrecked. You can only do so much on Zoom.

9) Random question: Are the bottoms of your feet ticklish?

Mehndi designs on the soles of your feet - Simple Craft Ideas

That's the most ticklish spot on my very ticklish body. Shh! Don't tell the kids. And please don't ever henna-tattoo my soles. I can't even tolerate a pedi!


Thanks for stopping by, y'all.

Now I've got to stop watching "Next in Fashion" on Netflix and help my son choose some new glasses online. This should be fun...

Be kind to each other.


Sunday Stealing: Fill In The Blanks

Sunday Stealing

Howdy, y'all. Welcome back.

Make sure you link up here if you're playing along with the rest of us this weekend!

This week, Bev's got us doing some fill-ins, so prepare yourself. I have played a lot of Mad Libs as a kid. (Wait, what? It's not supposed to be as ridiculous as possible? Well then, you've probably come to the wrong blahg.)

Let 'er rip.



Stolen from Friday Fill-ins

Welcome to iHeartRadio | iHeartRadio

1) Right now I'm listening to iHeartRadio, and I gave a rare thumbs-down to the last track. Not a fan.

Over Apologizing for Everything? 5 Ways to Stop Saying Sorry Too Much

2) Apologizing for everything, constantly is my well known quirk. I'm working on it!

Meme: "Are you serious?" - All Templates - Meme-arsenal.com

3) "Are you serious?" (I didn't know what to do with this one, exactly, so I chose to make it be something I say ALL. THE. TIME.)

I Has A Hotdog - brush your teeth - Funny Dog Pictures | Dog Memes ...

4) Brush your teeth first, then come say good-night to me! (I swear, I will be telling my kids this until I'm in the grave!)

Post C-Section Workouts To Strengthen Your Core

5) Okay, kids, listen to Aunt Melanie on this one! I had emergency c-sections with ALL my kids; they were all high-risk pregnancies. After the last kiddo (the afore-mentioned Sophia), I was raring to go to lose a bunch of weight. You're supposed to weight SIX FULL WEEKS to exercise or get frisky. I felt like pfft, been there, done that, and I feel fine. So I started doing yoga and pilates after about ten days. I felt great! (Not so with that first slice-and-dice operation, omg.) Well. After about four days - so two weeks post-partum - I stopped in the middle to use the bathroom. When I pulled my pants down, my guts came with it. I had split my incision right the F open! That's why you wait the six weeks. Ahh, so.

Confederate flag debate ends sale of 'Dukes of Hazzard ...

6) The Dukes of Hazzard is (was) one of my favorite tv shows ever! Picture my 5-year-old self having a crush on Bo!

Men" who allow women to tip the waitress! | Lipstick Alley

7) (BET meme used because um, it is Sunday.) And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to (pass, it's already Sunday), tomorrow my plans include (pass, it's already Sunday), and Sunday, I want to organize everyone's comings and goings in my planner for the coming week & make sure I'm set for payday Friday!

About Old Faithful, Yellowstone's Famous Geyser - My Yellowstone Park

8) If I could go anywhere on a road trip, I'd go to Yellowstone National Park. Some of it's in Idaho, but I'd want to venture into Montana to get to see Old Faithful. Google Maps tells me it's only 6 hours' drive from here.

These Toys Can Make Gender Differences in Spatial Relations ...

9) Spatial relations is something I don't understand. (Well, that's not entirely accurate; I understand it. I just really struggle with applying it!)

7 of the Most Beautiful Apple Desserts You've Ever Seen | Rainier ...

10) Thanksgiving makes me think of pie. Specifically, apple pie.

Farhaan's creativity - Enjoy the holiday !

11) Lying in a hammock on the beach in the Caribbean is the best way to relax! (I first did this on Blue Lagoon Island at age 14, and I knew I had found my bliss. I've since done it with Rob & the kids on various beaches in Miami, and with Rob in Mexico. Obviously not enough!)

The Best Places To Experience Autumn In Australia | Webjet

12) It looks like Autumn in Australia. Wait, right?

Baked Green Pea Falafel – small eats

13) Pea falafel is one of my favorite healthy snacks. (OMG, I seriously love it!)

Amazon.com: Standard Viking Meerschaum Pipes: Health & Personal Care

14) The smell of tobacco - NOT cigarette smoking, but like a pouch of tobacco -  makes me think of my grandfather. Grandma smoked More cigs, but Grandpa smoked a pipe. And he had many pipes, including some Turkey Meerschaum ones like this one. One day, he went to the dentist, who told him he was "working on the big C," in Grandpa's words. He quit smoking his pipe that day and threw away all those pipes. I think that was even before his major heart attack requiring a sextuple bypass, so I must have been 11 or 12, but whenever I catch a whiff of that sweet tobacco, I think of him immediately.

What do you say about the people who are lazy? - Quora

15) (Actually, that's really genius, Bill Gates!) When I am feeling lazy I edit photos or read email. If I'm lazy and tired, I nap.

Messy Planner desk

16) When I look to the left, I see far too many Erin Condren accessories that are meant to get me organized; clearly I haven't really started yet!

17) The girls' bedrooms & all the downstairs rooms are the ones that have the best view in my home.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Melanie Odette, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

18) Our wedding (both the elopement and, later, this little one on the beach with family) was done dirt cheap!

2020 United States of America Presidential Election banner ...

19) Voting is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share. (For the love of GOD, please vote!)

Tylenol (brand) - Wikipedia


20) If you have any Tylenol, feel free to share it with me. These headaches are endless.


Whee, look at me! I got 'er done on the right day. Y'all should be so proud of me.

Have a great week, everybody!


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

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

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


Have you read anything by C.S. Lewis?

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

What is your favorite movie with Jack Nicholson?

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

What rhymes with 'orange'?

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⬆Welp, there you go!⬆

Have you ever swallowed an object by accident?

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

Is your eyesight 20/20?

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

Have you ever had insomnia?

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

Does it bother you when people touch you?

Image result for fibromyalgia does it bother me to be touched?

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

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

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

What gets your adrenaline pumping?

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

Do you ever talk about yourself in the third person?

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

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

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

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

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

Ever caught a fish?

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

Were you ever in the first row of a concert?

Image result for black eyed peas concert gif

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

Do you have any autographs?

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


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


Saturday 9: It Must Be Him

Hey, y'all. Welcome back. My youngest, Sophia, and I drove 5 hours down to Salt Lake City from Boise yesterday (and back at night), for an appointment with my ME/CFS specialist, and on the way back we were treated with the most glorious sunset I have ever seen in my entire life. We were in awe the entire time, I still am. It was breathtaking.

Link up here if you want to play along this weekend!


Saturday 9: It Must Be Him (1967)

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

1) This song is about a woman waiting impatiently for a phone call. Do you consider yourself patient?
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Decidedly not!!

2) Other women (most notably Shirley Bassey and Dottie West) have recorded this song. Harry James and Doc Severinson did instrumental versions. But there's no record of a male singing "Oh dear God! It must be her! Or I shall die!" Do you think that's because waiting for the phone to ring is more "a chick thing," and men simply don't do it?
Having roomed with a few guys during my summer breaks from college, I know for sure that is not just a thing girls do. Guys do it, too. Maybe women are just more willing to show that vulnerability in song.

3) This recording enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity after 20 years when it was included on the soundtrack of Moonstruck, the 1987 film that won Cher an Oscar. Have you seen Moonstruck?
Yeah, but I remember virtually none of it. I'm really bad at remembering movies.

4) This week's featured artist, Vikki Carr, was born in El Paso, TX. El Paso can proudly proclaim itself one of America's safest cities. What can your hometown be proud of?
Boise is The City of Trees, and there really are a lot of them. Autumn is brilliant here. And the people here are the nicest of anywhere I've lived.

5) She was a staple on Jerry Lewis' Labor Day Telethon, raising funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by performing this song. Is your TV on right now? If so, what are you watching?

Image result for angry emoji
No. It's not. I wish it was. On Wednesday night, our 4-year-old TV went out. Rob called Samsung while I was in Salt Lake, and they said that it was out of warranty and not their problem. So now we have this fancy smart TV that is basically just taking up space on our wall, a cable contract, and no budget to replace the tube just now because it's Christmas. And it's the last season of Big Bang. Wah!
6) In 1971, Vikki fulfilled a dream of hers by establishing the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation. Every year the foundation awards Hispanic American students money to use toward higher education. She says it's her way of returning "the support and encouragement she received from others" early in her career. If you could establish a charitable foundation, what cause would you like it to benefit?

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A friend of my girls' and mine is raising money for Planned Parenthood this month. I donated $5 for each of us wimmens!
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Also, I am still figuring out whether to donate a flock of chicks, geese, or ducks to a project family through Heifer International. I love this great organization. I donate to them through Amazon Smile, too.
7)  In 1967, when this song was popular, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant. Today, one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States is the coronary artery bypass surgery. Have you had any surgeries?

Three Caesarian sections, gastric bypass surgery, gall bladder removal, hysterectomy, tonsillectomy, hiatal hernia repair, and several dental surgeries. So a few.
8)  Also in 1967, the RMS Queen Mary was retired after 31 years of service. Have you ever traveled by cruise ship? 

Image result for ms zuiderdam
I've been on two or three Carnival cruises, a Princess cruise, and of course, our Mediterranean Holland America cruise. It's my favorite way to travel! I'd go again tomorrow if possible.
9) Random question: Who is your oldest living relative?
My father, who is 76
And now I shall eat a salad. I am on a salad kick lately. So yum.

Saturday 9: Boat Drink

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


Saturday 9: Boat Drinks (1979)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!


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?

Image result for 1504 W Marilyn Circle, Boise

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)? 


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!


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

Young Living Fall Festival & Draft Horse Show 2017

2017 Young Living Fall Festival and Draft Horse Show

Hey, folks! So, being that I am all about the Young Living Essential Oils (and related products) these days, I was super gung-ho about traveling to Mona, Utah, for the second time in as many seasons in order to attend their Fall Festival. A quick conversation or three with Rob about it, and reservations and plans were made and set in place for us to head down to Nephi, Utah, to spend the night on September 30th and then go to the festival on October 1st.

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This was in or near Nephi, and let me tell you, they nailed it. Middle of nowhere, indeed! Our accommodations there were inexpensive, and it was definitely a case of "you get what you pay for."

But moving on to Sunday's visit to the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona.

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We arrived around 10 AM, right when it opened for the day, and then proceeded to wait inside Phoenix (our Dodge Journey) for a bit while the rain was working up the urge to drop. Having decided to hold off for a (very) short while, we braved the chill and headed out. A kind driver of a large golf cart picked us up and delivered us to the Visitor's Center.

Last time I was there, with Shana in June (as written in this post), we skipped the long lines of the Visitor's Center entirely.

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With Team Odette alongside me, however, I was encouraged to head in. And look! All the pretty oils! (I mean, what else would you expect from a working Young Living farm?) Between this house and our Miami household goods' pack-out - which, no, we have not yet received - I have a good many of them, but I'd love to have them alllllll...!

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I wasn't there just for myself, however, so we didn't stick around long. The kids picked out some vanilla-cinnamon ice cream (which, it turned out, not one of us liked) and then started scurrying in 75 different directions at once around the farm. By and by, Jack noticed the existence of the paddleboats and came running to ask if he and Sophia could use them. The cost was included in our entry fee, so sure! Why not? He floated in his life vest, so I kept a close eye on them, but they had a blast!

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Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 023
Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 023

The pony rides were also included in admission price, so the kids took their turn at that, too. Sophia, cantering-sometimes-galloping, showjumping Sophia, on an itty-bitty pony was quite amusing to all five of us!

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After pony rides, while we were trying to decide what next to do, we were joined by a percheron draft team. The girls rushed over for the first of many photo ops. Beautiful horses; I think I'm a fan of the draft horses the most. Particularly the Clydesdales, maybe in part due to my many years of Anheuser-Busch-sponsored Oktoberfests in Baldwinsville, New York...

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Beautiful, majestic creatures, they were.

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This is Bandido, the Friesian owned by D. Gary Young, co-founder of Young Living. He shared a moment with Sophia, a moment so touching and emotional to her that she quickly turned to me and ran, having a good sob in my arms. It reminded her of so many such memories with Buddy, the horse she leased at Miami International Riding Club, back when we lived there. I whispered what I hoped were comforting words to her, and the tears subsided, allowing us to continue our visit with the beautiful Friesians - Sophie's favorite breed.

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More Friesians getting groomed for the upcoming draft horse show

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While visiting the Friesian barn was maybe the highlight of the trip for Sophia, Jack and Chloë were perhaps not quite as enthralled.

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Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 056
Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 056

Okay, perhaps we looked at the Friesians a bit longer than we normally might've, to escape the bone-chilling rain... ;)

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One more pose, and then out we went...!

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One is hard-pressed to deny the beauty of the lavender farm with the mountains as a backdrop.

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I'm not sure if they were Nez-Perce or another tribe, because we couldn't hear the announcements, but American Indians were performing on the property that day as well. Hopi? I honestly wasn't sure and didn't get the chance to find out.

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A perfect photo opportunity, in which Jack refused to participate - shocker! He always refuses. ;)

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Shana and I took many photos in the Olde Town section of the farm during this past visit, and the kids weren't terribly interested in it, so we largely skipped that area this go-'round.

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Hello, random camel. At least you led us to a discussion over whether you were a dromedary or a bactrian! (Former, if you're wondering, based on the one hump...)

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Oh, check it out: Jack's not so afraid of having his photo taken, after all! Heh heh heh.

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Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 080

The girls decided, next, to attempt the bull-riding thingamajobbers. Unfortunately, they rode simultaneously, so I was back and forth with photos, videos going on the camera and ended up missing the moment of truth for both girls. Dammit! But they had a blast, and that is what mattered. (Yeah, right. It's the pictures. Ha!)

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I see you seein' me, Sophia!

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Rob found an old, empty wasps' nest and threw it at Sophie. This was not well-received. Haha!

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Hey, Ma! Just hanging around...

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Jack and I abstained from the Rock Wall climbing which engaged everyone else. Chloë got a little bit off the ground; Sophia achieved much higher heights, and then the girls challenged Rob. His derring-do of younger years paid off, but not quite enough, as the wall became slippery when wet, and down he came.

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Monkey girl didn't even stop to hand off Tapioca's leash before climbing in a nearby tree!

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The girls having some bounce-house fun ... The young man-child was in there somewhere, too!

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Poor Paco was shivering his guts off all through this often-rainy day, which had all the warmth of Cinderella's stepmother on ball night, and we forgot all his sweaters! Tapioca fared a little better. A little.

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At that point, it started raining again, and we were all losing our motivation to stick around for the main event: the Draft Horse show. I was more than a little disappointed, but no one was comfortable, myself included. The kids half-heartedly played this ring-around-the-bottle game for a minute, and then we decided to call it a trip. Bummer!

So that was Utah, October 2017-style. Hopefully there will be better trips ahead!


Fall Fun At Linder Farms

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So on Tuesday of this week, Team Odette headed out to Linder Farms in Meridian, Idaho, for their fall funness. That's a word, right? We went on Tuesday, because admission was half-priced, and I am all about a good deal. I also bought the kids each an all-day wristband for the rides and attractions at the farm, and $20 worth of tokens (each worth a buck, but you get two extra with that package). The whole deal cost us about $55, which I'm still debating whether it was worth it.

The kids were really looking forward to the Zipline attraction, but honestly it was just about the length and excitement-level of the one at our nearby Terry Day Park, which they can ride for free any day of the week! The only difference was... it was on a farm instead of in a public park. They had a bit of fun, but it became so crowded, we quickly moved on to the next thing.


Sorry for the tush shots of the girls, but they moved so quickly that my hobbling arse could hardly keep up with them.  They have loved the bouncy houses and similar stuff since they were knee-high to grasshoppers, and yet somehow the novelty has never worn off. They did this for a few turns and then decided they'd had enough.


All the kids were moving in different directions, so I followed the lady-babies while Rob followed Jack around. That would explain the dearth of Jack pictures around this place, since we usually follow that M.O. I think Jack headed to the swings while the girls came here, to the climbing wall. This was pretty lame in that the other end of the rope supporting the climber was held by a not-very-strong-looking lass who made barely any effort to pull it. Nevertheless, Sophia was able to get about halfway up the climbing wall before losing her footing and flying back down to a soft landing.


Chloë, meanwhile, couldn't seem to grasp the handholds and footings of the rather poorly-designed rock wall at all, so she never made it past... well, the bottom. Poor chiquiniña!


After this, we caught back up with the menfolk, and all three kiddos headed up the big pile of hay bales to go through the tube slide at the top. I love this photo so much, because I actually caught Jack freely having fun. Those of us who know my son the best know that he is largely a negative Nancy, so having a genuine smile on his face - while dancing in public, no less! - was quite the capture. It soothes my soul.


Sophia looking stunned after coming through the tube slide... hee! (She was fine.)


The giant tires were not much of an attraction at all for the tween/teen set, I guess, because no sooner had they gotten there when they decided just as suddenly to leave again.


Joy on Chloë's face as she exited the tube slide


I think everyone in Team Odette knows that my favorite part of a pumpkin farm is the hayride! At this particular farm, the hayride led out to the pumpkin patches, of which there were three separate divisions. At the first one, the giant orange gourds could be found, and all four of the rest of my fam wanted one of these. Jack picked out this one, and he was in the middle of saying something about it being too heavy to carry when I snapped the shot. Well, son, pick a smaller one, then! That did not seem to be an option, so onto the wagon it came with us.


Sophia was all smiles as she hefted her prized pumpkin onto the haywagon.


I think Chloë looked completely beautiful as she chose and posed with her pumpkin of the year. It's been 16 years, and I still can't get enough of her curls!


Rob picked his pumpkin from the first patch, too, but I neglected to take a pic of that monster at the time. You'll see it later... I was holding out for patch #3. Number two held the odd, wart-covered gourds and pumpkins - you know, the novelty type you see at all the stores come Fall.  None of us stopped at this patch. I do love those kind, but I spotted some nicer-looking ones at Fred Meyer for a much lower price per pound, so I may snag some there for our Autumn décor. (P.S. The pumpkins we chose cost us another $37! Yikes.)


Before we headed out for the night, we had those $22 in tokens to spend. I planned on using them to feed everyone, but first, the chirren jumped into the enormous corn kernel pit for some freewheeling fun. I didn't get a shot of Chloë, though you can be sure many kernels made their way home with us in that mess of curls atop her head! Jack and Sophia had a ton of fun, however, and I was okay with it so long as no one decided to eat any! Eww...


Sophia having an absolute blast as Jack buried her in corn kernels


Finally, to spend our tokes, we stopped by the Concessions booth to fill everyone's tummies. We bought a few orders of the mini donuts, which really were quite delicious, some nachos, and an icky-looking chili dog for Rob. They were out of hot apple cider, which was a HUGE bummer for 3/5 of us, because it is so beloved, but we made do with hot chocolate. 

All in all, it was a decent if over-priced evening of fun. There was another choice in farms we were thinking of going to instead, but bad reviews for that one and good reviews for Linder Farms led us to the latter. I'm not sure we'll make the same choice next year, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. We'll just have to see in 12 months' time!


See my little white pumpkin? Isn't it so cute? I lurve it.

Happy Fall, everyone!


Field Trip: Lucky Peak Beach @ Barclay Bay

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On July 7th, Team Odette headed out to a new locale, set up as a playdate for Sophia with one of her new friends from a local homeschoolers' group. We visited Lucky Peak Reservoir, also known as Barclay Bay. This is not the same as Lucky Peak State Park (for those who are sticklers); that's on the other side of the road and costs $5 per car to get in. We needed free, which worked out great for our friends, too. Ha! Another time, we'll do the State Park, but not for now.


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The scenery at the beach was amazing. Ever since we left behind our palm trees and constant sunshine, aka Miami, and came cross-country to Idaho, I have been amazed by the constant beauty everywhere we look. It's like it's just what I never knew I really needed. I love it.

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On the other hand, the water was freezing. Growing up, I spent many summers at the Jersey Shore, so I know what cold water feels like for swimming. You gotta get in, and you gotta get used to it. Acclimate. On the other hand, my Sunshine State-kiddos were a little less ready to use this approach. "Brrr!" they kept complaining. "Ah, just get in, already," was my consistent reply.

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That took awhile for them, so in the meantime, I trained my lens on various spots around the Bay, so I could remember the day in totality.

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It was nothing short of incredible, and I was blown away by it.

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Jack and Rob running around the sand

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Soon enough, Sophie's young friend, G, and her mom arrived at the Bay. I hadn't met her mom before, though Rob had taken our girls to an end-of-year homeschooling party and met her before. I'd met G at her birthday party, where both girls were invited, but it was just a drop-off situation. So we did some getting to know each other. I'm not always good at that, but it worked out nicely.

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The girls played in and around the water together, though I could tell Sophia was torn because she'd made a friend at the park before G arrived! I just sat back and let her work that out, and she did fine sharing her time.

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I don't know what this take-down of Jack by Sophia was about, but it was pretty hilarious. (Don't worry: Jack was laughing, too.) Sophia's pretty fast, faster than her older brother, so he probably tormented her a little know that she'd chase him down. Ah, siblings.

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Afterward, Sophia decided to hop up for a seat on the head of this giant purple dinosaur...

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And then, she hopped right back down again, having found that seat a little too warm for comfort! Indeed, we have had some 100-degree days here, and this day was one of those.

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Boating at the bay made for some fun waves, as the kids bobbed up and down in their wake. The buoy line was quite close to shore, so everyone was kept safe and sound.

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I'm hoping there are jet-ski and kayak/canoe rentals at the State Park side of things, because plenty of people were participating in those activities. Either way, I plan to get a family-size canoe or a couple of small kayaks at some point; seems like there are an abundance of places where they can be used around Idaho!

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While Sophie was hanging out with her buddies, Rob started trying to teach the other two to skip rocks.

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Rob (and later I) skipped rocks fairly easily, having had lots of experience finding just the right stones, flat and rounded, and knowing the flat way to toss them out onto the water.

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Chloë, on the other hand... kerplunk!

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Meanwhile, Sophie and G were busy finding their own treasures in the bay.

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Sophie plunked this gorgeous piece of driftwood down on my blanket (my Young Living kachula), telling me it looked like a snake's skin. I had to agree with her. That one came home with us.

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Soon, I realized I needed to get out of the sun (thanks to my autoimmune issues), so we didn't end up staying quite as long as I'd hoped we could. Sophie and G posed for a sweet picture for me before we packed up to head out of the park.

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The view home was just as amazing. Down there, you can kinda see the other side, Lucky Peak State Park. But look at the bluffs, with their cut-off tops! I was honestly in awe of the view.

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A closer look ... so gorgeous!

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There was one last message for us on the drive home from the park. Remember this, y'all. "Keep Your Forests Green." Yessss...

Have a lovely day!



Field Trip: Fort Running Bear Park


On Thursday, Team Odette had the pleasure of heading out eastward in Idaho, past Mountain Home where a there is a heavier military presence, to Fort Running Bear RV Park. It seemed like a cool place to visit, so I set it up with the owners for us to come out for the day and check it out, before committing to a full overnight visit sometime.


After we were checked in, the girls were swinging happily on the deck. All was well and good. And then...


Jack started waving and pointing frantically off to the side of the deck, while I was just happily clicking along, ignoring him. Finally, he became insistent that I have a look. I'm glad I did!


There wer ea pair of hummingbirds visiting a sugar feeder there! So cute and tiny! I couldn't get too close, for fear of scaring them away. They stuck around quite awhile!


The land area around Fort Running Bear Park was gorgeous. Breathtaking, even, in some places. I'd fallen asleep while Rob drove us to the park, so I didn't get to see half the views, but it was really stunning. I wish I'd had more opportunity to snap photos!


Walking to the pool


At the pool, Sophia came rushing out of the restroom with this big ol' moth on her hand. She's our little bug girl. Right now, actually, she's obsessed with rolly-pollies. She brings a new one inside to show us every single day!


The kids had lots of fun in the pool; however, there were lots of bugs and Sophia was bitten - while swimming - by a fire ant. Twice! So beware the buggies.


Just a little bit of the view... merely a peek. Not nearly enough to do the place justice!


By the clubhouse, there was a bench with seats made out of former wheels. Or hubcaps. Rims. I don't know what the hell is what. But Sophia decided to have herself a seat, never-minding the blistering heat. Her poor rump!




There was a half-course miniature golf setup near the clubhouse, where we played after visiting the pool. They had golf clubs of all shapes and sizes, balls, and anything else one could possibly want to play the game. A few more snaps:




By the way, if you know anything about real golf, you can tell that we don't. And we suck. Par two? Pffft. That's a quadruple-triple bogey right there, baby!


Obligatory attempt at being an artistical photographess


These pretty little white fleurs were fairly ubiquitous around the Fort Running Bear property, so I had to grab a pic. And then I discovered that they were all over our own lawn a day or two later, also!


After miniature golf, we found ourselves a hand-built playground and took a ride on the swings. No bum splinters either, fortunately!


Anyone game for a little tetherball?


Giant tires used to be my favorite on my elementary school playground, myself. But what goes up...


...must come down!


How 'bout another swing, this time with Jack, hmm?


Nah, Jack preferred to push Sophia on her swing. He's not the best, um, swinger. Pumper? I don't know, it just doesn't sound good no matter what I write! ;)


Tiger lilies are my favorite flowers. These were pointed out to me by the lovely blonde lass we call Foofers, but alas, no black speckles and stuff. Just orange lilies. That doesn't matter, though - I love all lilies! 'Specially the orange ones.


Finally, we headed into the clubhouse to see what was what. What was was a huge dining room, nicely laid out with fresh flowers on each table, tons of eye-catching knickknacks, and a room at the back with more fun and games.



This, however, was not a fun find. At least for me.


But see? Eye candy! Knickknacks! Board games and more fun!

We were so tired out, thirsty, and hot by that point, that we decided to head home from the park. We cut our visit a little short, but we had the doggos at home waiting for us.


The drive home between Fort Running Bear Park was straight out of God's playbook. Idaho is beautiful country. I am super grateful to have beheld what I did that day, on the drive home. Unfortunately, you won't see it because I was actually doing the driving, which isn't conducive to Nikon-wielding. But trust me when I say that no photos and no words could do the beauty justice. One just has to witness it in person!


Well, would you look at that? Someone put this gratuitous video of a whale spouting rainbows right at the end of this post, speaking of whales... Huh?

Anyway, that's it for now. Thanks to the folks at Fort Running Bear Park for hosting us!


Lavender Fields Forever

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Last month, during the Young Living 2017 International Grand Convention last month, one of my very best friends, Shana, and I had the pleasure of touring the YL lavender fields. When I say it was amazing and inspiring day, consider that an enormous understatement.

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I did not know that D. Gary Young, founder of YL, was an accomplished and avid horseman before this trip. Because my youngest kiddo, Sophia, is also enthusiastic about horses, I may have gone a little overboard in taking horse pictures on this day. (Which was June 16th, for those keeping score.)

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I had to take a picture of the outhouses, because let's be honest: I'm immature like that!

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The first interesting thing (of many!) that we came across that day was the old-timey looking "village," where I ordered Shana about this way and that, in order to get the photos I wanted of her. It was a flip-flop for our relationship, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that she is the oldest of four, while I was basically the youngest of four. "Go stand in Jail! I need your picture in the clink!" And she did.

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"Hey, go stand by that banjo player and pretend you're in the saloon!" And she did! 

Speaking of that saloon, it's a good thing we weren't really after whatever YL-based elixir they were selling in there, because the lines everywhere, including here, were unbelievable. No patience for that, have I!

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"Hey, go stand over there by that old wagon!" and she did. With real snowy mountains in the background. In June, y'all. That kept blowing my mind more than a little bit.

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Speaking of lines... After old-timey place, we ended up in the expo tent, where we could find lots of items not available online or over at the Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City where the rest of the convention was taking place. I ended up buying Animal Scents Shampoo, to bathe the pup and cats, and a leash-attached poopy bag dispenser. That's right, I was only thinking of the pets and no one else. Sue me!! ;) Oh, but despite the extremely long line, the staff were extremely organized and knowledgeable in getting us through the line and out the door quickly, so that was quite helpful.

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Inside this little Snack Shack, they were selling Peppermint (essential oil-infused) and Lavender (same) ice cream. Oh, how I wanted to try the Peppermint! I heard it was amazing. Shana wouldn't let me, though. We're both lactose-intolerant, so she was right to do so...

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The views, both up close and in the background, were incredible, so be prepared for a load or two of this type of pix in this post!

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The landscaping at the Lavender Farm was impeccably beautiful.

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As you can see, I couldn't get enough of the beauty and had to stop to smell the roses everywhere we roamed.

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There was another huge line leading up to... what? We had no idea. Eventually, news trickled down that it was another expo-type shop where you could buy exclusives, but neither Shana nor I were interested in that, so we skipped right on back out of the line upon hearing that. Too much to do yet!

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Instead, we hopped under this nearby tent for sniffing and sampling essential oils and other products infused with YL essential oils. Mmmm, everything - and everyone - smelled so gooood!

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Having already bought the Animal Scents shampoo, I was a little interested in the giant Animal Desk Reference nearby, but then I spotted the OOLA Oils and testers! Oh, My WORD! I want all of these oils. In a near-future post on the rest of the conference, I'll explain what the OOLA life is, but I definitely plan to add these to my next order! 

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After we sniffed ourselves silly, we wandered around until there was soon another moment of "Hey, Shana, go sit on that bech over there and let me take your photo!" And she did!

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There was a large, man-made pond (we're sure, anyway), where adventurers could paddleboat, kayak, and more - but those activities were closed for the day for some reason.

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So there was this jousting event at the Lavender Farm. I was very confused as to why there were would be such a thing at this tour, not knowing how hugely (bigly?) D. Gary Young was into horses, still, so though it was evident to me that Shana wanted to attend the jousting match, I gave her a lot of pushback as to actually going. I just didn't wanna! So off we went to do other things... for now.

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"Hey Shana, get over there and pretend you're being eaten by that dragon!" ...and she did. Y'all know the drill by now. Way to go, Shana, for being such a splendid sport about playing along with my shenanigans!

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Lunch was delicious, and the lines were pretty well organized. There were several for "regular" eaters, and then down at the end, there were two lines for Gluten-Free needs (Shana's line) and for Vegan eaters (my line). We both still had quite the spread, despite our restrictions! I had a potato and bean salad, a regular lettuce salad, a wolfberry compote of some sort, and multigrain chips and red pepper hummus. We were both too full for dessert, but neither of us probably could have partaken anyway, so there was no major loss there.

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This band, playing near the food tents, was epic. They were playing a wonderful love song dedicated to Chicken Pot Pie, which was both catchy and endearing. I need to find it on YouTube or something, because I kind of loved it myself. Hee!

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And then, we happened upon yet another musical act, which makes what? Three now? This time, they were actual bagpipers, with tartan kilts and the whole 9 yards. They were spectacular. I think I took a video, but I'm not sure it will show up here.

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We found all these flags, and it took me a minute to understand what they were all about, some being American, but many being from other... countries??

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Leaving the flags behind, we headed for a tour of the distillery. 

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"Hey Shana, go stand over here by those boiling hot stills and lemme grab your photo, eh?" And you know what happened.

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If I have to be completely honest, touring the distillery was probably my least favorite part of the farm visit. Why? Probably because it was so excruciatingly HOT in there!! I think about 1000 degrees F. No lie... ;)

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Hotter than hot.

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Actually, if you want to know why the odd color that looks nothing like lavender, it was was because it wasn't quite lavender harvesting season. Instead, they were distilling juniper. It did smell lovely in there, even if it did feel like we were down i the seventh circle of hell! HOT!

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Shana was surprised by how little equipment was in the laboratory for the distillery, because they run such stringent tests on each batch of essential oils, but I had no explanation for that. Maybe this one was just for show?

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Ahh, more flags on the outside. And then it became clearer to me. I realized that each flag must represent one of Young Living's farms or Partner Farms around the world. Which is a lot, because they go straight to the source of the best plants for the purest, most excellent oils, and so different parts of the world surely grow different oil-producing plants more ... beautifully.

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Oh, look! More horses, going somewhere! But where were they going??

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And now for a very exciting part! We caught a golf cart ride over to the lavender planting field, where we were each given our own lavender plant to bestow upon the earth over there in yonder field. You'll see.

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Shana was SO excited to plant her little baby. Truth be told, so was I! She took pictures of me planting mine as well, but I've gained some serious weight and am not happy with how I look in them, so those shots have gone "missing." ;)

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There you go, baby seedling. Grow up proud and strong, and come back to us in bottled form. LOL! ;)

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Here we are, in our Lavender Fields Forever! Soon they will be FULL of oil-producing lavender. Yay!

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At last, we finally decided to head to the jousting match, because, OH, WHY NOT?! I'm so glad we did. We climbed up into one set of bleachers that turned out to be the perfect place to land, and set to watching. Look who this is! D. Gary Young himself, prancing about with his Friesian steed, whose name was Bandito, and who happens to be  Sophia's favorite breed of horse. She was so excited when I told her about this later!

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So first, we watched the parade of horses, horse men and -women, and of course there aga
in with the American flag is D. Gary Young. So far, I was intrigued.

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And then the parade of nobility retreated, and the jousting match was set to begin.

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Mary Young, wife of Gary and co-founder of Young Living, sang the National Anthem. Shana kept whispering and pointing, "There she is, there she is!!" But I was dumb, like, "Who? What? Where? WHERE?" Until I realized she literally meant right THERE, just a handful of rows in the bleachers in front of us. Swoon...! We both were itching for a photo op with her, but the timing had to be just right.

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Mary Young was very intent on watching her husband in the jousting, though he didn't participate in any competitiveness. 

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Soon, the Lord and Lady of the presentation joined Mary Young up in the bleachers - right in front of us!

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I have a bajillion pictures of the various competitions, but I'll just share a small portion of them. In this game, the riders had to use their jousting stick thingies to catch rings of increasingly smaller sizes for points. The smaller the ring, the higher the points. I didn't know for whom to root, so I just rooted for everyone. Ha!

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We determined that this young man, who brought Mary Young a rose, was her grandson. They were very affectionate throughout the rest of the jousting match. Yeah, I was kind of stalking her a little bit. So? No harm, no foul.

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After each game, the winners would take their victory lap around the arena while everyone cheered. Woooo!

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Back to Mary. She must have known these two women, as they were talking up a storm for a while at the front of our set of bleachers. I was hopeful that this was our "in" to get a photo with her for Shana, who was gushing at the thought!

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This was the light jousting, without full armor. I think this one was when the young woman, the sole female jouster, won the match! Woot woot!

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Bandito the Friesian made another brief appearance to show his prancing dressage.

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Wait, what's this? We finally managed to get a shot with Shana and Mrs. Mary Young! Woohoo! Two beautiful women, right there.

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And now, the full-armor jousting. This was fast-paste and intense, y'all!

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Uh-oh. One of the jousters was thrown off his horse, and now he's turnt around and starting trouble. No, no, no, Mr. Jouster Man!

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What, wait, what's happening now? Threats! Threats, everyone! Take cover! ;)

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Triumph! I don't exactly know what happened, but look - pretty horses, Sophia! <3 hahaha

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And then it was my turn to geek out and get verklempt over a photo together with Mrs. Mary Young! So exciting!! Thank you Mrs. Young, and thank you, Shana, for taking the picture!

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Back to the jousting - another man down! Eek.

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Finally, the jousting show was over, but not for nothing. Shana and I were both stoked with what happened, from beginning to end, but especially with getting to meet Mary Young! That was the cream of the crop, as far as we were concerned. So thrilled!

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As the Lord and Lady left, Lady spotted my lens on her and gave me a personal wave. I don't know why, but I thrilled to that, as well.

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A few closing acts circled the arena, from a butterfly lady, to a woman on stilts, to a man with fire wings, to child play-jousters, to a man eating fire!

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Oh, we needed a few more photos of ourselves in front of the snowy mountain peaks - in JUNE! Can you tell I could not get over it? I couldn't.

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This photo was a funny one, because Shana got bumped in the back by one of the knights, who deadpanned, "Relax, lady, that's just my armor!" We all laughed, and I snapped the picture. Lots of giggling about that one!

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There was this Lavender Labyrinth that was supposed to lead to some sort of spiritual awakening, but by that point, we were just done. Shana walked in a little ways and smelled the lavender, but that was about it. My bones were aching, so I just wanted patiently. 

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This again?! Yep. You can't see her, but Shana was totally in that one right there. Hee hee hee.

Ah, I found the bagpipers' video. I thought it was longer. And, uh, better. But you get the gist. 

So that was our Lavender Farm trip, and we both loved every second of it. It was incredible. Hope you enjoyed it, too





Family Field Trip: Art Lesson at Young Art in Boise, Idaho

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Image2On Monday, Team Odette was invited into Young Art for a 60-minute drawing lesson, complimentary of Young Art in Boise, Idaho, and the fun and amazing manager, Shayla Putnam. [Full Disclosure: Our five-member family received the lesson for no charge, in exchange for this post and others on my social media networks. No other compensation was received by us. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.]

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The first thing we encountered upon entering the Young Art shop, which is at the Boise Towne Square mall right next to the Talbot's store, was the bright, cheery, and colorful nature of every square inch of space inside the studio. There was no denying they were in tune with my M.O. of living our lives out loud, in living color! Look at the photos on the walls in the above and following photographs, and see if you can pick out the pictures we were trying to draw and emulate.

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Two things confounded our visit to Young Art that day, which was no fault of Shayla's or anyone else associated with the art studio: (1) We arrived on time but could not find the location, exactly, being new in town and thanks to a weird GPS on my Google Maps which likes to mess with my head. :\ I swear it does... and (2)There was a Girl Scout troop party coming in immediately following our 60-min sesh, and since we were already several minutes into ours upon arrival, the entire time we were there was rush, rush, hurry, go, c'mon, rush, FINISH!

Some of us are more adaptable than others to these kinds of situations in Team Odette, so we all fully agreed that next time (and we do want a next time, it was unanimously decided), we'll make a longer appointment, arrive on time, and be more relaxed about the whole process. So if you go, please keep that in mind.

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Shayla quickly had us pick out the photos we wanted to use for inspiration, and then she worked with the three teens, while assigning LeVelle to teach Rob and me all about the finer points of drawing our chosen works.

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We were each given a sheet of paper and a pencil, along with instructions from Shayla to print our names on the dry-erase table (which was cool as heck, y'all) above our workspaces. LeVelle sat down between the Hubs and me and went back and forth, zippity-zip, showing us how to start with a rounded base shape and then sprout from there toward a full grown drawing. He was a congenial fellow who managed to keep us focused on the task, despite my constantly trying to turn and strain to get pictures of everything and everyone working and also despite working on two different drawings for the two of us, simultaneously.

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Rob and I have both done a lot of sketching in our 40+ years of life, with different styles and - dare I say it? - levels of talent and specific finer points of artisticness (I swear that's a word; go with it!)... However, LeVelle wanted us NOT to do small sketch lines but rather strong, bold, single, dark pencil lines to create a finished work that looked more intentional and less, well, hesitant and sketchy. Shayla worked on the same concept with the three kids, which made our artistic daughter, Sophia, balk. I heard Shayla assert that her job was to teach and show how to accomplish this, and that Sophie and the others just needed to trust her. It was probably her most difficult task in teaching my stubborn kids - especially in such a hurry!

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One of my absolute favorite things about this hour-long session was that my least artistic, most complain-y child, Jack, seemed really focused and into creating his chosen work. I was so thrilled about this, I could not even!

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LeVelle seemed to pick up on the fact that my brain was all over the map, thinking about doing my work and following along with what he was teaching me, whilst also trying to grab pictures and think about what I wanted to post here on the blog! He may have given Rob a little more attention than me, therefore, or maybe I was just over on my own ****ing planet and seemed not to be with him. But I was, LeVelle. I swear I was. (He had a total zen quality about him, but I was so self-conscious and insecure about my work as we went along, that I probably drove him insane!)

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See that look? That isn't the normal expression of a busily-"arting" Sophia. It conveyed annoyance and frustration to my expert maternal eye (at least for my own kids' sakes), and I tried to signal her to go with it, do as she was told, and maybe, just maybe, she might actually learn some techniques that helped her improve her work on her own. Who knows whether it will? But I encouraged, nonetheless.

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I couldn't get over how much Jack really seemed to be into this! It was astounding, actually, if you know my son. Astounding.

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These were LaVelle's dry erase-table work, demonstrating the strokes and details he wanted us to mimic on our own paper. Long, clean, dark lines, people. No sketching!! ;)

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Southpaw Sophia finally seemed willing and determined to get started. Let's GO, kids! Clock's ticking!

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Rob, too, was very intent on his work. Other than me, who was busy taking photos and absorbing All. The. Things., everyone was. We were having tons of fun.

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Curls, AKA Chloe, having a peek around at the others' work. Hurry up, child, and draw your outline out! This one is the perfectionist who didn't seem to grasp the concept of "hurry up, party is coming" on Monday's visit! :\

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See this expression on Jack's face?! I LOVE it!! It's sheer and pure joy, a real emotion, and not just a "oh, I gotta pretend to smile and cheese for Mom's lens" moment. He was actually enjoying himself, and that thrilled me to my soul. If nothing else, this was a WIN!

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LaVelle knew we were running out of time, so in the colorizing portion of our lesson, his hands and fingers moved quickly to dab out, blend, and illustrate what he wanted me to accomplish on my own drawing which, you may or may not be able to figure out by now, is supposed to be Dory from the Disney movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. (Also, I am Dory. Dory is me. Completely and utterly alike, we are. I love her! How could I not have chosen my girl D?)

The thing that disappointed me during this phase of the work was, as you can see in the bottom middle, LaVelle had to take over the outlining, post-coloring, of my Dory's lines. I knew I was fully capable of doing this, and doing a pretty decent job at it no less, but again, the time crunch made it necessary. Booo, time crunch!

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By that point, Jack was just about done with his work and was just waiting for instruction from Shayla on what to next. He always finishes first at home - quality be damned! - so this was no big surprise to me.

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I dont know whose phone that was - Shayla's? Rob's? Chloe's? But I guess somehow Sophia voluntold someone to look up the creature she was drawing so she could stop having to crane her neck to see what her drawing was supposed to resemble. That was Rob's main critique: He wished there was a way to pull down in front of each student artist the artwork we were trying to emulate, so we had no need to get up and walk over to them to see a detail and could have them directly in front of us for faster working time.

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Again, I felt this was completely something I could have accomplished, but for the sake of pushing through the late time, LaVelle started the background painting on my work, outlining the more difficult areas and then giving the paper back to me to fill in the blank space. But it's okay. I didn't overly mind and completely understood the need for this.

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Ah! We have color on Chloe's work. At last! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

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I was almost - but not quite - finished. I liked my Dory, despite the fact that she looked more like Dory's even less-reliable cousin (ha!) and I had a few major flubs. Yeah. Not too bad for a quick dash through the artistic world, eh?

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Meanwhile, our Navy Veteran Rob was over there pushing through to get the finishing touches put on his work. Go, Hubs, Go! I was turning in the the cheering squad for Team Odette to finish. Seriously.

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By this point, Shayla was busy helping my kids, helping two other adorable little girls who had come in to finish a previously-begun sculpture work, and do damage control with the growing irritation amongst the Girl Scout crowd. They did not appear to be the resilient type who could appreciate that there was a delay. And we were the cause of it. Eh. It happened; I'm over it.

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After LaVelle helped Chloe, he took me over to the Glittering Station. I don't know if that's what they really called it (I'm guessing not), but I had to name it that because, um, that's what I do. He gave me a small handful of extra-fine glitter and had me sprinkle it over my work. We were each given the choice on whether to do this and I know for sure that Jack and Rob opted out. Sophia may have, too. But give ME the glitter, yes, please! Also, I was curious about what spray they were using to seal the glitter and paint in, because we do art in our homeschool, Sweet Pea Academy, and this information might very well come in handy. Turns out: HAIRSPRAY. It was hairspray. So there's your little Art hack from me for today. Take that, overpriced art/craft store merchandise! ;)

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At this point, Sophia and Chloe were getting the, "C'mon! C'mon! Hurry up! Finish!" pep talk from Mom, which was surely counterproductive. Sophia is an artiste, which means this is the only area in her life which she feels like a certain level of perfectionism is necessary. Chloe, on the other hand, is a perfectionist about everything in life (like her mama), and I am trying to get her to accept that sometimes, good enough IS good enough. But it's hard. 


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While the girls raced to the finish line - now about 15 minutes past our allotted time, ohmigosh, the boys and I checked out the rest of the art studio. There were lots of pictures on all the walls from which to choose a project, and all kinds of bright and colorful materials lined the front tables that greet aspiring artists as they enter the door. It was definitely an inviting environment, I felt!

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I know for sure that I will have to pick up some supplies for Sophia to improve on and expand her artworks, for Christmas probably. There was plenty of inspo here!

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I found this signage about Young Art's Summer Camp on Shayla's desk at the front, and while it's pricey, I'll have to figure out when it starts and if we ca still get in on the Early Bird Special. Sophia would like to go and, from what I gather, Chloe would, too. Which is telling because, though both were stressing about being SO super pressed for time that their artwork on Monday didn't turn out exactly the way they had in mind, they liked the process and experience enough to want to come back again and again!

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These are the chalks and tempera paints we used to colorize our drawings. We learned out to blend and overlap the colors to create just the right shades, cut in the edges while painting so as not to go "outside the lines," and more. There was a lot of rushing, sure, but education was mixed in there too - if you were paying attention. ;) I was!

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Go, Chloe, go! Stop being perfect! Just don't make any dang mistakes! NO! I'm kidding! Hurry up! ;)

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Glitter time for Sophia's work at last! Woot!

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... And then the hairspray treatment, to set.

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And look who was finally finished and ready for the glitter treatment from LaVelle! Finally!

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*~*~* ~* Sprinkle, sprinkle *~*~~

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Rather than take home our artworks right there and then, Shayla convinced us to take a spin around the mall and allow the paint and setting spray to dry for a good 20 minutes or so. We ended up in the toys and games store around the corner and found plenty of things to entertain ourselves with, like this "Coffee makes me POOP" shot glass that, um, Rob definitely needs! :P

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And now, in order of age from oldest to youngest, here are our works: A Jawa from Star Wars Episode IV, created by Rob.

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Dory, by Melanie (that's me!)

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Charmander from Pokemon, by Chloe

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Light Sabers from Star Wars, by Jack

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And a... something I forget... help me please! ... from Pokemon also, I think? by Sophia

(I'll try to update the post when she wakes up and can tell me definitively what it is!)



What I love about Young Art Lessons is this ^^^ right here. Drop off your kids for supervised time, during which they will be productively engaged in art education, while you do your shopping around the mall. Even though my kids are a bit older (12, 14 and 15 as of this writing), I might decide I need to take advantage of this opportunity come holiday shopping season time. Y'know? It's GENIUS!


The great thing about Young Art Lessons is that they offer all different kinds of lessons, cater to a wide variety of ages and skill levels, and have an array of different media available to use in different artworks, all to help the young artist (or older ones, like Rob and me) develop a finished work of which one can be quite proud.


So what are you waiting for? I highly recommend a Young Art Lesson booking if you're in an area where they are offered! I can't wait until the kids' next session, maybe even as soon as tomorrow! It'll be super fun!

Thanks to Shayla, John, and LaVelle for making our experience such a great one!


Sundays In My City: Field Trip To Babby Farms

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


The beautiful landscape as we made our way into the sanctuary


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



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


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



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



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


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


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



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


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

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The view as we headed inside to the education center


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





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


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











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


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


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






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


Awesome work being done by The Peregrine Fund


Embryonic Development of the American Kestrel



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


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


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



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


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


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


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

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

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


Sunday Stealing: The Sassiest Questions

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

The first five questions are stolen from blogger Emily Rosenbaum at Wheels on a Bus. She explains she grabbed it from Lola's blog, and since Lola "is the sassiest of mamas" so we took that name from Emily's questions. The final five questions were ripped from Midlife Mama from the blog Midlife Musings. She stole it from her "dear friend" over at Midlife Slices where it was originally written. We do hope that you had a great week. If anyone has some questions that they'd like us to use please email Bud at [email protected] Please "like" us on Facebook!

Cheers to all of us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Sassy Questions

1. If you could say anything you wanted to say to Donald Trump, what would you say?

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Seriously. Seriously, now, how does it feel to have fucked up the entire political scheme of the United States of America? How does it feel to have stolen the Presidency and be voiding everything the previous (wonderful) president, Obama, has done as far as Progressive progress in so many areas of society? How does that feel? How does it feel to have colluded with Russia to fuck up not only the Executive Branch, but also the Legislative Branch of our federal government, as well as now having stolen a seat for life on the Judicial Branch? HOW DOES THAT FEEL?!!! Jackass.

2. If you had to be the mother of Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, who would you choose and why?

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I would choose Britney, because I understand her neuroses, I feel. I have been through that, been there, done this all and I understand where she is, where she was, where she has been, and where she has going. All from an outsider's viewpoint, of course, but to me it looks like she is completely getting her shit together and doing what she  needs to do. Lindsay, on the other hand, seems like a lost cause, and though I really did think hard about this question, I feel that as a mother, having a kid who not only is probably a lost cause but also reached that status 100% because of my own actions... I couldn't handle it. I would probably kill myself.

3. You get to be Queen for a day. The kids are all taken care of, and you can spend as much money as you want. What do you do all day?

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I would fix the food system. I would grow the right foods, with none of this Monsanto-Bayer interference bullshit, and I would deliver it properly to all the people. I might enact a 2:1 replacement system for having children, because we are waaaaay overpopulating this planet. And I would grant all the rare and not-so-rare disease investigators all the federal monies needed to fix the various and sundry health issues I am facing, my friends and loved ones are facing, and people I don't know are facing. That may seem contradictory with the overpopulation issue. Don't get me wrong. I could go on about this all day long. But people, as long as they are going to be here, don't necessarily deserve to suffer. And I, for one, am sick of suffering. (And then I might sleep.)

4. Is there a song that brings tears to your eyes every time you hear it? If so, which one?

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"The Day That You Gave Me a Son" by Babyface, because we used it at our son's memorial service. There are a few others...

5. A fairy taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can either have a perfect face or a perfect body for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?

I'm vain about my face. I'd rather choose the perfect face than be a Butterface, I think. I don't want to be a meme.

6. If you could live any place in the world and money was no object, where would you live and why?

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I would live on a beautiful yacht, sailing the ocean blue and visiting all the possible ports of call for the rest of my life. That would be my little slice of Heaven.

7. What is your biggest regret in life?

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If I couldn't save my son's life, which I tried and could not personally accomplish, then it would be that I did not get my two sons, my identical twin boys, together for any pictures. That absolutely breaks my heart.

8. If you could go back and visit one person in your life who is now dead, and ask one question, what would that question be and why would you ask it?

Today is the 33rd anniversary of my mother's death - at age 33. She left behind my bewildered, befuddled dad, and my nearly 9-year-old sister and 7.5-year-old me. I would ask her why she chose not to seek medical help when it was clear she needed it, and I would ask her that because it started the domino effect that basically fucked up my entire childhood and, therefore, adulthood. Sorry, but it's true.

9. If you had the choice to age forward (like we are now) or aging backwards (think Benjamin Buttons) which would you choose and why?

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I think I would try the reverse aging method, because right now, getting older is for the birds!!

10. What will the epitaph on your headstone say?

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That about sums it up! ;)


Thanks for stopping by!


Boise: Scenes From A Family Drive About Town


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


The sign made me giggle. So I snapped.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


More mountains!


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


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


And food trucks! I love food trucks!


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




Make Beer Not War. Yassss.


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


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


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

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


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



Our 4-Day Sprint Across The Country #MiamiToIdaho

So this journey started with Rob being busy selling off all our furniture that wouldn't fit in the U-Haul U-Boxes that we had rented and filled to the brim with all our household belongings... while I was stuck in the hospital with my fifth bout of pneumonia in a year.

The highlight of my three-day sojourn in Homestead Hospital was the fresh fruit I received every day, particularly the strawberries. Hey, you have to find your happiness somewhere!

Last Tuesday morning, March 7th, I had to take one last hibiscus picture by which I could remember my beloved South Florida. 

Bye, Caribbean Isles! Bye, Oasis! Bye, Homestead, and Miami, and Florida! Awaaaaay we went!

Florida is such a looong state to drive, so it was with great joy we finally crossed into Georgia! From citrus to peach country.

Onward we went: Me driving; Rob in the passenger seat holding our pups Tapioca and Paco; each child holding a cat on his or her lap, plus either a gerbil or a guinea pig; and one more cat in the back area, packed in with boxes but not in such a way that a fast rescue wouldn't be possible, should the need unhappily arise. We were packed to the gills both inside and out, and with seven pets in travel carriers, we were in a race against time to get to Idaho!

Tapi and Pacqui waiting for Daddy to come back from a rest stop

Everyone was uncomfortable. We had so much STUFF - cold weather gear, kids' school backpacks, kitchen stuff, blankets and sleeping bags - one of which met its demise when it fell off our car before we'd even gotten out of Homestead - purses, camera bag, pet supplies, and oh, my gosh, SO much homeschooling stuff. We fit more than I imagined we would, due to careful packing of the cabin and roof a la Tetris. Oh yeah, and three suitcases full of clothes and towels.

To say we were squished would have been an understatement!

We stopped somewhere in Tennessee for the first night, and it was quite chilly compared to the balmy subtropical weather we'd left behind in Miami. Chloe was SUPER excited to be needing her coat and gloves. She's been wanting colder weather with snow and all the fun it brings for four long years.

In the morning, the doggos were all over me to get started during a gas fill-up. They, too, were eager to get out of our enclosed, rolling box.

After we left Tennessee, we eventually hit Missouri after going through Kentucky and Illinois, and it was there that I hit my breaking point. Rob was driving, well, like Rob. I was exhausted, the pets were miserable, and the girls' and my ankles were starting to swell badly. I had two pairs of compression socks, so Chloe and I wore them while we all did our best to walk around as much and as frequently as time allowed. We were supposed to go see Rob's brother and my friend in Missouri, but in the end we had to bow out of both visits for the pets' and kids' sakes. It just wasn't fair to them to stop and prolong the agony! We caught quite a bit of heat for that, but we did the best thing for our family at the time. So.

After we got started again on Day 3, we drove through Kansas for what seemed like eleventy billion hours. It was dreadfully boring to drive through, at least in the wintertime. There was nothing but empty, dried up fields and wind farm after wind farm. I have to admit, those were pretty cool. But the vast emptiness made for little to look at after awhile, and we were all just... bored, I guess. And needing gas. And a restroom. And we found neither for-freakin'-ever!

Finally, finally!!! We found this gas station with a restroom inside. Look how old-timey it was! Hee! Inside, there were taxidermied bobcats, foxes, deer, and more. They charged a dollar to use the restroom - pffft! - and in the back by that area, there were three elderly men drinking and playing poker. It was quite the experience. Definitely a change from Miami!

The view across the street from the old-timey station of gas

Figures. Not even one mile past that gas station, we rounded a bend and found a rest stop. Can you even?! I cannot. There was a real working water pump there, the mechanics of which Jack, naturally, had to check out before we got back on the road again.

Finally, after another long stretch of Kansas roadage, we made it to Colorado. Yay! Now, the super-fun part of the trip was at hand!

Contented little pupper-doggos on Daddy's lap

Not long into Colorado, we stopped at a local mom 'n' pop grocery store in Limon to get some lunchous foods. Not wanting to get yogurt and chocolate milk spilled in the van, we decided to have a quick picnic somewhere. Five minutes later, we found this empty park. Perfect! Everyone was thrilled to get out and stretch their legs, have a bite to eat, and even have a little fun in the process.

Once we were back on the road again in Colorado, heading toward Denver, the open road seemed much more thrilling than it had in Kansas. We just couldn't wait to see mountains - and if you look reaaaaallly carefully and closely in the distance, you can start to see them here!

There they were, off in the distance, against the background of the Great Plains where we still were. Beautiful, breathtaking, and awesome!

The higher we climbed into the mountains, the closer the clouds came to feeling like we could just reach out and touch them. It was pretty incredible.

We climbed higher and higher, ears popping and plugging all the way, around the city of Denver and headed into Wyoming. Rob needed to stop for a moment on the side of the road, so I grabbed this picture of the buttes as we ascended even further. This was near Green River, Wyoming.

Coming through the mountains and buttes in Wyoming, we saw purple mountains! that inspired Rob and I to burst almost in unison into song: "America the Beautiful" of course was the tune. Later in Wyoming, we stopped yet again at a rest stop called Little America. If you've ever been to Wyoming, I'm sure you've heard of it if not stopped there. That was a pretty amazing place. We stopped for potty breaks for everyone next to this pretty white birch just as the kids finished up singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" because they were so excited to be seeing SNOW!

And yes, oh yes, we stopped for those 75-cent ice cream cones for the kids, who were nuts and wanted to eat ice cream when they were already old. Crazy knuckleheads!

That night, we stopped to rest right in the mountains after I had to pull over and throw up - not even kidding - from the altitude change I was feeling. We were used to 3' above sea level and suddenly found ourselves 2500' or more above sea level, and it really messed with my ears and head. Rob tried to drive a little, but the winds were 40 MPH or greater and our top-heavy van was being whipped around. No fun. And so, we slept until I could continue the drive on Friday, Day Four.

After a bit more driving in Wyoming, we headed into Utah. Last state before Idaho! And what a relief it was!

And finally, after Utah, at last we made it into Idaho!! Woohoo!! We all cheered and were in good spirits by then. This was the happiest we had been on the trip, with everyone talking and shouting excitedly at once.

A little longer, and we were finally at our new home in Boise, Idaho! And we loved it right away. The backyard is pretty big, which is great. The kids are loving that, and so are the doggos. Especially Tapioca, who tears around at breakneck speed among all the kids. 

Our new landlord met us shortly thereafter, and she immediately jumped out of her car and ran to hug all of us, before she opened the back of her car and brought in groceries for us. So nice! Everyone here in Idaho is lovely, and we can see trains and the mountains from our backyard, and... it's just great. We all really love it here. It feels like HOME.

Thanks for stopping by!


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


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!




Jungle Island 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The dorsal sides of my four favorite people in the world

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We crossed paths with quite a few large iguanas.

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

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

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Reptiles doing what reptiles will: basking in the sunlight

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

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

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

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The rare, exotic jungle bunny

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A rare, exotic smile from Jack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Languid large leopard, and a liger

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

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


Wordless Wednesday: Heritage Horse Show

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Day One

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

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

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

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

[She was #398.]

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Almost ready to start warming up

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

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

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

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Waiting to be judged in Beginning Crossrails - Flats

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

Heritage Horse Show

Sophia and Dani hugging it out after the Medals class

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

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

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

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

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Day Two

Sophia watching while Anne-Marie tacks up Buddy

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Dani making sure the stirrup lengths are just right for Sophie

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Remember, Sophia: Heels Down!!

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

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

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Pats and smiles for Buddy

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

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

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

Sophia at Heritage Horse Show from Melanie Odette on Vimeo

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

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

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

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

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

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