It's super-annoying that Typepad doesn't seem to wanna auto-save anymore, and I lose almost an entire kick-ass post when the screen freezes. But anyways...
While I was going about my business preparing for our Earth Day picnic on Monday, Rob came out wearing this Navy-issue peacoat, with the Meerschaum pipe in his mouth, saying, "Picture me on the bridge of our boat, steering across the Atlantic..." and I totally could. Can you? Course you can. It's still our dream, y'know. In a heartbeat, we would...
I had been searching on the old innernet for Earth Day activities and crafts when I came across The Nature Conservancy's All Hands on Earth picnic website. The idea, in a nutshell, is to foster sustainable food-eating practices by buying local and in-season to reduce, you know, gas and energy consumption from the production and distribution of worlds-away, out-of-season, uh... I said that way better the first time, but you get the gist, right? Right.
I had no fundage available at the time to run out to the Farmer's Market and pick up some deliciousness, so I figured I'd just use what we already had on hand to reduce waste, live frugally, and other great things we try to practice on a daily basis. I had cooked a bunch of chicken tits in the Crock-Pot the night before and still had half a -Pot left, so I tore that up and added some gorgonzola cheese crumbles leftover after our salad fixin's were used up, along with some apples I diced to add some sweetness and crunch. Along with some seasonings and Miracle Whip (Rob's fave), it was aces all around. Total yummo.
We chose Biscayne National Park as the nearby destination for our picnic because, despite the fact that it's too far to walk or ride a bike for us, the idea of Earth Day connotes (to me, anyway) surrounding oneself in the beautiful precious natural resources of our planet, and so it seemed a fitting locale. The last time we were there, I'd gotten a wicked bad sunburn from being too stupid to put on SPF before lying down on a towel with my library book. I just discovered what appears to be a melanoma - for which I'm going to the doc in about 7½ hours - on my chinny-chin-chin Monday morning, so I wasn't taking any chances with those harmful UV rays. We took along everything from SPF 30 all the way up to 85+. Although, really? Is that fo'real?
Aside from our afore-mentioned chicken salad on both spinach and sun-dried tomato wraps (also already on hand), we had mango cubes (I'd searched for a YouTube video on cutting them perfectly:
and it was spot-freakin'-on. Worked like a charm, after many failed attempts on my part.)
Plus, I threw in a bunch of bagged cereal for snacks, and Sophia snuck in half a pound cake for good measure. We served everything on reusable napkins and wrappers, and a pitcher of fruit punch was served in regular ol' plastic kids' cups. Leave no trace, leave the place better than when you found it, and all that.
When Jack dropped a piece of his cereal, this duck walked boldly up to him and looked askance. Not in the "how dare you?!" sense of the word, but "how dare you not feed me?" sense. He stayed there, quacked a few times, and made Jack squirm and squeal a whole bunch. It was hilarious.
We really laughed out loud a moment later when the two ducks on the bottom and left waddled up in perfect unison, speeding zip-zip along the sand to get their pieces of the proverbial pie. They didn't get any from us, although I noticed Sophia "accidentally" dropped one or two their way. Soon a fourth joined the flock, and by then we were surrounded by Muscovies looking to join our Earth Day picnic. Fun times.
After lunch, I sent the kids off on a Nature Treasure Hunt geared for kids aged 8-11, which, hey, is perfect since that's what range my kids all fall into, hey? The first one (of ten) was: "Find a place where an animal made a home," so off they went toward the mangroves to find nests or burrows. The three quickly spotted deep, wide holes in the ground and decided something had dug its way in, and I couldn't argue with that, so I gave them credit.
The second one directed them to make fairy homes out of natural objects, so Sophie had the idea to make teepees out of dried-out palm leaves. Chloë and Jack quickly followed suit; all but Chloë got them to stand without being held.
3. Find a seed - Easy! They just had to look up at the big palm trees everywhere to find them hanging out like so many, um, testicles. (What can I say? It's where the mind automatically goes.)
4. Make a tool, like a hammer or drawing stick. Jack, not being terribly imaginative, picked up a stick and started drawing. Okay, fine. Sophia, surprisingly equally unimaginative, picked up a stick and started hammering the top of her fairy teepee. Okaaaay, Chloë? She picked up a stick and pretended it was a screwdriver, driving, er, screws into the dirt. Better, but totally uninspired. Still, we moved on.
5. Find or name two things that all living things need to survive. The kids shouted out things like, "A home!" "Air!" "Food!" "Water!" etc. This one was too easy for this age group, IMO.
6. Listen for five sounds, including both human ones and otherwise. They listened to birds singing, people shuffling their feet on a nearby path, folks talking, boats' engines starting up at the marina next to us, and the wind whispering through the trees. That last one was my favorite.
7. Find a place where a plant-eater would be happy. Again, in a national park, way too easy.
The eighth one was super-cute. They had to spy on a bug. Jack crouched down first and watched an ant go ten ways to Sunday, all over the sand. Sophia and Chloë traced their own insects, and soon they all met up, head-to-head, with their daddy. I was thinking he probably wished he had a magnifying glass to light 'em on fire, because that's just the kind of Bob he is, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe.
9. Find a pattern in nature. They all came up with A-B-A-B-A-B patterns, so I challenged them to find something other than that. Jack was the first to do so; he found spirals projecting out from the center vein of a leaf, and I was proud.
10. Find something other than an animal that can live in water. First, they named about 3400 different animals before noticing us crossing our arms over our chest, tapping our feet and rolling our eyes all over the place. "Ohhhhh! Like seagrass?" Yeah. Duhhh.
We were done with that, and rather than do sunprints, they decided to go swimming again. Fine and good, but I was freezing and wasn't joining in. The lifeguard came over to speak at us about letting them go too far out without a parent right there (in zero waves, with a lifeguard spitting distance away, but whatevs), so Rob went in while I lay in the sun and fried a little more. My SPF 85+ was failing me, y'all! I reapplied.
Then, Rob rigged up his fishing poles and took us to go fishing. Well, took the kids, while I followed along for some Instagramography of whatever they caught (big fat nothin', it turned out). But check this sign - crocodiles?! In Florida? Gators, sure - we'd seen an 8-footer the last time out, in the canal near our house - but crocs? Who knew? Not I, not me, not us. Jack was determined to find one, but we didn't.
Also, I'm pretty sure they stole that croc drawing from Peter Pan.
Rob didn't have any bait, so he used a Sabiki Rig to try and catch some. He cast waaay far out, and then near, and then far again... but not even the pinfish were biting. So the kids and I went exploring while he kept trying.
We went up to the end of the walk, which culminated in, like, a pier, and looked out at the water. Another fisherman was next to us, so they meandered over to him to see what he was doing. "Fishing." What do you have on your hook? "Bait." He amused me. The kids kept pressing. My kids are pressers. So we learned this about him: He was originally from Ithaca, New York, now lived in Texas, and was here in Miami on temporary extra duty. He had never fished here before and insisted that pinfish couldn't be used to catch snapper, grouper, or larger fish, but Rob taught him how to rig the baitfish for better success (not that he was having any, but he had on previous outings, after all). He was fishing with live shrimp. I had about seventy-nine more facts about him on the tip of my brain, but they all just scattered because of course, I need them right now. Oh, and he gave Rob a beer. That was nice. Maybe it was a consolation prize, since neither man was having any luck with the fishies that day.
Rob gave up for a while, and just then, a manatee came into view, swimming toward the harbor. Another, smaller (I'm guessing female) sea cow swam toward him, and they met nose-to-nose for a few moments before the female turned, and they both swam away in the direction of the marina. It all happened too fast, just like with alligator the other day, for me to get a good picture, so all I have is this one of the four of them looking and pointing. It was SO breathtaking, Chloë was near tears, Sophia couldn't stop exclaiming, and my heart was racing. What wondrous things we've seen in our month here so far!
And then, if that weren't enough, a pelican flew in and landed near us. The kids thought that was just fantastic; they walked over and got in the big bird's face, not knowing how aggressive those things can be. They want fish, and they want it now. The pelican squawked, flapped its wings, and moved toward them. They yelped and jumped back, while I laughed. A third fishergent caught a pinfish - at last! - and threw it in the center of the pier. The kids gawked while the pelican stormed over there and gobbled it up. Only, the fish was spreading its rays, and the bird couldn't swallow it. We all watched, helpless, as it gagged and regurgitated the fish repeatedly, struggling to get it down its gullet with no success. What to do, what to do? Call a park ranger? Finally, with one loud gulp, the fish was choked down and bulging in the pelican's neck. Whew! What a relief.
We went home, exultant in our beautiful day, reliving all the amazing sights we'd seen.
Hope you all had a happy Earth Day, recycling and reusing and reducing. Remember to link up here if you're wordless - or not - today, too!
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You may be able to figure out where we went on a mystery shop several times recently in the Outer Banks of North Carolina from the packaging in Rob's lap... Not such a flattering picture, but it makes me laugh, so here it is! I haven't been mystery shopping much at ALL lately, but when it pays well, I try to go!
Here's Chloë at Sweet Frog after the mystery shop - they look forward to going at every opportunity! Looks like we'll have to find a new FroYo place when we move to Miami, though, unless we go up to the Fort Launderdale area - sorry, kids!
Chloë's kitten, Pepper, has really been thriving after his scare in the animal ER when we first got him. Two blood transfusions later, and he now weighs exactly the same as Ginger, his twin and Sophia's kitten. Woohoo for that!
Rob, loving on Pepper and Ginger recently - we love our "grandcats" as much as the girls do!
After being sidelined for 6-8 weeks with medication issues, I'm finally back to knitting these doll sweaters for my friend Amy's Waldorf-inspired handmade dolls. She had commissioned me way back in the early Autumn, 2012, and I had been doing well, but the meds screwed up my progress for her Christmas doll deliveries. I feel terrible about that. Hopefully I can start to make up for it for her now...
Some more sweaters... You can check out Amy's dolls and her Etsy shop, Itsystitch, here - so cute!! I would love to get a doll for myself one day. ☺
That's me! A friend wanted a close-up shot, with an actual smile, after I posted about my four-year gastric bypass anniversary the other day. My full-body shot was quite candid, as you can see here, so he wanted a better view. Here ya go, folks! ;)
And finally, to celebrate my "surgiversary," we did - what else? - some eating. Ha! I was craving Chinese food, so we ordered in a bunch. I couldn't get much down, of course, and I couldn't keep it down, either, so it was rather disappointing. Ah, well. Here's a shot of the kids trying to learn how to use chopsticks, which was rather amusing in person. I love Jack's expression, haha... and yes, the kitchen has since been cleaned up and dishes washed. We are soooo lazy on the weekends, typically!
I was almost done with this post, all written up with lots of captioning, when my IE browser crashed. ZOMG, I hate when that happens!! So I'm just going to do the photos here, and if you'd like to hear the actual details behind them, leave me a comment here, or email me, whatevs, saying so. I'll write up a separate post if there's interest.}
If you're ever in Virginia Beach, check out Central 111 Tapas off Great Neck Blvd - it's got a sophisticated vibe, yet children are welcome. And so are Restaurant.com certificates!
Cosmos were, like, ridiculously cheap since we were there at Happy Hour. Um, I had two.
We've ordered the Tuna Tartar before; it's always delicious and never disappoints.
Likewise, the Spring Rolls are exceptional.
Jack is ALL about wings lately, so we ordered a small plate (duh) for him. For the girls, we ordered their usual cheeses platter, with crackers and fruit, but I didn't photo that for some reason.
After tapas, as usual, everyone was still hungry. I decided to use the BOGO Cold Stone Creamery coupons I've been holding onto for lo, these past eight years, and spoil the kids some more. They were, shall we say, thrilled?
Link up here if you're Wordless (or, not so much) today!
It's hot in Southeastern Virginia, and we don't have functional central A/C at the moment. Fortunately, friends who moved to Alaska blessed us with the portable unit seen at the back of this photo, so the kidoodles have been allowed to camp out in front of it in our living room tonight. This was their result. Can you tell which tent houses the boy-child? ;)
Sophia, 7, knocked out her two front teeth when she was three. It's been a long time coming, but finally an adult tooth has just popped out, with the other one sure to follow soon. Hooray!
Same child as above often brings me a weed or two, usually a dandelion, to serve as gifts of flowers which, to her, are beautiful. I have made the mistake of explaining to her that they were weeds, and that they belonged outside - this does nothing to brighten her spirit. So when she brought me this bouquet, which she herself envased in this green bottle, I accepted the gift with genuine delight. After all, this will only last for so long, and one day it will be the last weed-bouquet I get from her.
My silly kids, who went ShopKicking (a Smartphone app) with me around Target in exchange for spending some of our SK points on free Target gift cards to buy their little trinkets, here, posed in front of the store to show them off. Well, the picture was for a ShopKick contest to win a bunch of points, which we didn't - or did we?!
And finally, a first-thing-in-the-morning self-portrait, for no other reason than to show my messy office matching my bedhead hair. No, I wasn't naked; my spaghetti straps were just out of view on my tank.
I may be back with another WW post; stay tuned! ;D