Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots: vol.120

New tattoo - in honor of my stepkids - Liam specifically requested I get an owl tattoo in his honor, a blue owl (as in "Chelsea" blue) and a rose because my stepdaughter is named Chelsea Rose.

Picked up some books at the library and excited to read them all that I couldn't choose what to read first!

My little birdwatchers

A book, a cat, a comfy favorite way to spend an evening

I have a friend that lives in Scotland who lovvves Captain America's Chris Evans.  All I need to do is send her a snap of him when he's on tv and she knows I'm thinking of her.

My sweet little sleeping baby

Sunset on an evening walk over our backyard

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Things vol.2

I meant to post a happy list last week, but that frickin' kidney stone had other ideas.  So, I'm happy to say that I'm back at it, focusing on happiness.  Things that made me happy this week:
  1. Candles and hot baths
  2. Sing (the movie) ~ the stepkid convinced us to watch it, and it was adorable.
  3. Most of you know, I host Book Challenge by Erin.  We are winding up the final days of the 6th time for me to host this challenge (post coming next week about it.)  This comment from one of the participants made me beyond happy: "Thx so much for all you do to make this happen. I read books that I would never have picked up and discovered many more by observing what others were reading. My to read list is much richer thanks to you and this great group of book lovers."
  4. New tattoo (picture coming soon when it has healed more)
  5. In exactly one month, I will be in Texas.
  6. Seeing the screensaver in my 9 year old stepkid's iPad ~ it was a selfie with his "girlfriend" ~ too cute
  7. Library day
  8. I hit a significant number on the scale for weight loss. I try not to get *too* caught up with the number on the scale, but losing 20 pounds has certainly made me happy.
  9. Sleeping with the windows open
  10. Niece 2 is graduating high school ~ her senior pics have filled my heart with many emotions, happiness being one of them.

Linking with.....Lindsay, Charlotte, and Chrissy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wise words from my brother

When Kristen and I decided to start a series about our lives "Swappin' Countries" as expats, I asked other bloggers to give us some questions and prompts to help kickstart us., Kristen and I haven't been superb at keeping that series alive just yet, but we have a post in mind, coming soon...

I started answering one of those questions months ago (from Dani from Faster Than Forever) who asked:  "How did your family/loved ones take the news?" (that I was moving to the other side of the world) 

But, that post sat in draft unfinished.  Until I read Audrey's post "Get Out of There" because it got me thinking about our life choices about where we live and who we live life with.

When I announced that I was moving from Texas to Australia, I received varying degrees of support from loved ones.  Most of the family was less than thrilled. 

My mother cried and cried and didn't really know what to say except "please don't go."  This was the one and only time in my life that my always supportive father told me that I was disappointing him, and he meant it.  The conversation included me trying to be strong through tears streaming down my face, and I was collapsing inside.

My brother suggested that he and I go for a walk around his neighborhood. 

Back story: My brother met his wife when he was 18, got engaged at 20, and married at 21.  He worked at a big international accounting firm in a big city for a few years...then moved back to raise a family in College Station, Texas (a town of about 100,000).  He has 3 glorious children.  The family is close.  Top priority.  Their social activities revolve around school, church, and extra-curricular activities.  He and my sister-in-law have been married for 25+ years, and their relationship is an inspiration.  Their relationships with their children is a beautiful thing to witness.  Nobody, no one, no family is perfect.  They are the first to admit this.  But, they are as close to perfect as a collective whole as I've personally witnessed, and I am in awe of them.

So, when we took a walk around the neighborhood...I mentioned something about him being the "golden child" and the one that always made our parents proud and was never a disappointment.  He discussed that his life made him happy and fulfilled...but, he said he knew that if I led the life he had, I'd have been bored.  He said that he knew we were different.  The things that excited me or fueled my zest for life weren't necessarily his.  But, that there was nothing wrong with that.  There was nothing wrong with me wanting to take risks.  There was nothing wrong with me wanting to live in a different country.  Sure, I'd be missed, terribly, but I needed to live my life in a way that would be fulfilling and make me happy.  And, I was always welcome to come home.

Tears are falling as I remember this conversation from over 8 years ago.

In an ideal world, my loved ones wish that I lived closer.  But, it's the words of my brother, knowing that he "got me" that still fill my heart. 

Eventually, other family members have come around.  No one likes that I live so far away.  Heck, I don't like that I live so far away from them.  Sometimes, I think that me living so far from home actually encourages communication with some family members.  You know, the ones we take for granted that live close, yet we still don't see often?  I hear from some aunts and cousins more than I did when I lived in Texas.  Others, I don't hear from as much.  But, we all have to make an effort to maintain connections and relationships, regardless of distance.

The support from my brother, his calm and wisdom, will always be something that I cherish.  We don't talk much.  We don't have to.  He knows I am filled with imperfections and flaws, but I know he loves me unconditionally.  I do not take this for granted.
My mom says this is her favorite picture of us, so I recycle it every now and then.

Have you received wise words from a loved one at an important time in your life?  I encourage you to reflect on them and share them (if you feel moved to do so).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots: Tales from the E/R

Other things happened this week, but I can barely remember them.  A kidney stone took over my life mid-week, and I'm still recuperating.

I've had a kidney stone once before about 5 or 6 years ago.  When I started experiencing pain this week, I wasn't sure what was happening.  I even googled "appendix burst" to know what side the appendix is on.  Later that night, as I was describing the pain that was intensifying, my guy and I looked at each other and wondered "is this another kidney stone?"

I went to take a hot bath.  Pain was still increasing, and I don't know, maybe it was from the heat of the bath as well, but I began to vomit.  I had no appetite so I hadn't eaten all day, but my body still found plenty to vomit.  A decision was made to go to the E/R.  This was about 10:00pm on Thursday night.

I got in the car, ready to go, drove down the block, only to realize I didn't have my purse.  Oops.  Turn around to get it, because, you know, and i.d. and medicare card are important to have.  My guy goes into the house to retrieve the forgotten purse while I puke out the side of the car into our grass.

We get to the E/R.  I go directly to the toilet to puke some more while my guy explains to the situation to the triage nurse.  They got to work immediately.  One dose morphine.  Nothing.  Second dose of morphine.  Still, nothing.  I can't remember what the third attempt to pain relief was, but I know it didn't work.  There was blood work and an urinalysis plus a decision to transfer me to a larger hospital.  Yep, got an ambulance ride out of this "fun" night too.  Finally, a super strong dose of oxy was given and pain started to subside but nausea increased.

A CT scan determined, yes, there was a kidney stone.  E/R decided that they wanted me to transfer to urology.  So, I spent several hours waiting for a bed there.  In the meantime, I got to listen to the sounds of an E/R.  I just remembering trying to crawl up into a little ball. 

I was transferred to urology.  While being wheeled into my room, I grasped the barf bag and gave a treat to my new nurse.  She was so wonderful.  She was everything you'd want from a nurse, compassionate, knowledgeable, and efficient.  I saw doctors, nurses, had more blood work, and urine tests.  Most importantly, they were trying to get the pain and nausea under control while pumping as many fluids in me as they could.

Twenty hours stone had passed...but I was home drinking lots and lots of fluids and drugged up.  Sweet baby Ricky knew his mama was not feeling her best.

Another day passed and so did that kidney stone!  Thank goodness.  I gotta admit it.  I looked at that thing and was dumbfounded by such a little stone causing so much havoc.  I'm still achy, nauseous, and woozy, but that will pass too. 

I've been resting this weekend with my guy, my kitties, and my little penguin, Penelope.

I wasn't even going to post a "Sunday's Seven Snapshots" today, but I felt alright enough to post this tonight, so I'd say that I am well on my way to feeling much, much better.

A friend of mine is a sportswriter, and he shared this story of his with me

Have you ever experienced kidney stones?  Aren't they the worst??

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Movie Questionnaire

I've been in a blogging slump.  Some of it is a timing and scheduling factor.  But, all too often, when I sit down to write, I'm just not focused or inspired or articulate.  So, I will keep sharing lists, link-ups, and questionnaires (like the one below that I stole from my friend's facebook page) until I can work that shizznit out:

most hated movie of all-time: Zoolander
movie i think is overrated: People like what they like, and I don't want to criticize that...but, for me, personally, I tried watching one of the Lord of the Rings on 3 separate occasions and fell asleep every time.
movie i think is underrated:  ??
movie i love: Almost Famous
movie i secretly love: If I love a movie, I don't keep it a secret.
favorite action movie: Independence Day
favorite drama: Good Will Hunting
favorite horror: Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween
favorite comedy: Step Brothers
favorite disney movie: The Fox and the Hound
favorite sci-fi movie: Guardians of the Galaxy
favorite animated movie: Since I listed The Fox and the Hound for "Disney", I'll say Big Hero 6 for this.
favorite superhero movie: The Avengers (2012)
favorite musical: Moulin Rouge
favorite western: Tombstone
favorite martial arts: The Karate Kid (because, let's be honest, I can't think of any other "martial arts" film that I've seen and enjoyed)
favorite indie: I think Dazed and Confused was an indie when it was released.  I'm not so good with my knowledge of what's an indie film.
favorite bad movie: Grease 2
childhood favorite: The Outsiders
favorite franchise: Marvel
best trilogy:  The Godfather
guilty pleasure: Urban Cowboy (the guilt comes from the fact that I cheer for a guy who commits domestic violence and adultery)

favorite director:  Stephen Spielberg

*The next 2 have stumped me more than any other question...I just really don't have "a" favorite
*favorite actor:  Morgan Freeman, Jared Leto (he's not just a pretty face), Robert Downey Jr.
*favorite actress:  Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren (really, I just want to be her when I grow up)
favorite foreign film:  City of God
favorite movie this year so far: Lion
worst movie so far this year:  I think Batman v. Superman was last year, but oh well.
movie i have seen recently: watched Sing last night
what i thought of it: it's adorable
most anticipated film of this year: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
favorite movie of all-time: Love Actually

Pick 4 of the above "favorites" and tell me yours...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.118

My guy went out to mow the lawn.  I heard meow-ing.  This is where I found Ricky, chatting to his human daddy outside.  This cat is so full of personality.

When he wants to cuddle, he is super duper sweet, as evidenced in this picture of these sweet boys.

Speaking of fur baby cuddles, I got lots from Sally girl this week too.

Easter Sunday consisted of me going to give thanks.

My guy and I braved the crowds and went to the Royal Easter Show ~ part livestock and agriculture show, part carnival, and part capitalism with booths of so many things to buy.

We viewed all the animals ~ horses, cows, goats, sheep, alpacas, dogs, and, this momma sow and her baby piglets were just so sweet. 

There's also an art display.  I told my guy if we had a spare $2,500, that I'd buy this painting.  I loved it.  I stared at it from every angle.

Hope you enjoyed your holiday (if you celebrate) week as well!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy things

I'm busy.  We are all busy.  But, it's good to take a moment to remind myself of some of the things that made me especially happy this week, and it's good to share my happiness with others. 

Ten things that made me happy:
  1. My guy and I had a night out together last Friday.  We put the phones away and just enjoyed each other's company.
  2. I've been at the new job for a little over a month, and I was offered a promotion this week. 
  3. Cuddles from fur babies (yes, this makes me happy every week.)
  4. Maxalt - a prescription wafer tablet that magically makes migraines vanish
  5. Paid holiday on Good Friday
  6. Wine night with a girlfriend
  7. I joined a new library near my new job.  On their website, they list newly-released books (or upcoming new releases) and let the public vote on the books that the library should get.  This made my book-lovin' heart oh-so-happy.
  8. Introducing the stepkid to the video for "Thriller"; his first statement that made me laugh was "that doesn't look like Michael Jackson", and I wasn't sure which MJ he's familiar with to compare Thriller MJ to; and second statement that made me smile was his genuine glee in the dance scene when he exclaimed "dancing zombies!"
  9. Eating chicken fajitas and guacamole that I cooked, and my guy saying "that was a great dinner that you cooked tonight".
  10. Guest posting for Rachel at A Nesting Nomad; hit that link and go check it out!

Hope you are feeling happy this week too!

Linking up with Lindsay, Charlotte, and Chrissy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I show you my books, you show me yours... vol.27

It's Show Us Your Books Day!  The day hosted by Jana & Steph, the day that makes my goodreads "to read" list grow, and the day I interact with a blogging community of readers.  I love this day of the month.

What I've read since last link-up:

 1.  The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley - Time Travel books aren't normally my thang. If they were, I'd probably have loved this book. As is, I liked it alright. I liked a couple of the characters a whole lot more than the others.  3.5/5

2.  18 and Life on Skid Row by Sebastian Bach - Those who know me know that I am a fan of rock music and rock bios.  First and foremost, Sebastian Bach is a true fanatic for music. He calls about a dozen guys his "hero" in this book. I'm okay with that. Who says you need to limit yourself to one hero? He name drops. A lot. But I do believe he is such a genuine fan of those people.  Sebastian is also a fan of himself. That's no secret. He's toured the world in a rock band.  He's performed on Broadway and was even in Gilmore Girls.  This book had what I wanted from a rock bio - stories about music and excess, the highs and the lows of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. 4/5

3.  Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight - I wanted to know how all the stories unfolded, but I wasn't exactly satisfied. Can't really explain my dissatisfaction without giving up spoilers. Too many characters. Some written well and some not. 2/5

4.  High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - I've heard that Jonathan Tropper (a favortie author of mine) is the American version of British author, Nick Hornby. I've seen a couple of movies based on Hornby books (About a Boy and this one.) I don't usually read books when I've already seen the movie, but I'm so glad I did with this one. Plus, I'd been wanting to read a Hornby book for years. Happy I finally did. Even though the guys are total music snobs, and I hate music snobs. Even though the main character, Rob, is completely exhausting at times, other times I couldn't help but love him. I can see the Tropper/Hornby comparison and will definitely grab another book by this author.  4/5

5.  The Pact by Jodi Picoult - I was late to the Jodi Picoult party.  I hadn't read a book of hers until last year (Nineteen Minutes).  I followed that up last month with Small Great Things and now, The Pact.  She sure does know how to tackle complicated, heavy, difficult topics and write a complex, riveting story.  4.5/5

Next up:  Bird Box by Josh Malerman; after I posted this pic on Instagram last week, I got several encouraging comments about it, so looking forward to diving in!

I've shown you mine, now you show me yours...books...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.117

There is a restaurant in Sydney that calls itself "Tex Mex".  It is acceptable.  The best thing about it?  Half price margaritas during happy hour.

I saw this on the wall, and I liked it so much I read it about 5 times over to let it sink in before snapping the photo.

These guys ~ what can I say? ~ they are just so stinkin' cute and lovable.

I have more library cards in my wallet than credit cards, and I'm pretty damn pleased with that fact.

Some days, we like to go to the little "mom & pop" diner that serves simple dishes like toast with avocado, cheese, and tomato.

The description of this candle reads "sweet brown sugar melts into golden honey nectar on a base of candied almonds and vanilla milk".  I think this is what heaven smells like.

I finally watched the Big Little Lies finale.  This is the first television season that I've watched every episode since the last season of Dexter.  Yes, we've discussed that already.  I'm not big on tv.  But, I'm so glad I watched this.  Perfectly cast with incredible acting performances.  I will sing the praises of these actresses and actors to anyone who will listen.

Hope you all have a good week (and possibly a short one) coming up!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Source - National Sexual Violence Resource Center
I caught up with a friend on Monday. She is an American living in Australia as well.  Approximately two years ago, she was a college student (still in America), and she was sexually assaulted.  She reported her assault to police, was questioned by over five different police officers including a sergeant and a detective (all male) and had the invasive rape kit conducted at a medical center.  In her interview, some questions posed to her were about sexual positions and specific times that each act occurred.  She tells me that the interviews were as emotionally damaging as the actual rape itself.

Police were trying to be thorough and get details.  Fine.  As long as they are just as thorough with their investigation into the allegation and with the accused.

No one from law enforcement ever initiated any follow-up with her.  She called the detective in charge a number of times to ask about her case.  Eventually, she was told that there was not enough evidence to press charges.  Her alleged perpetrator only spoke to police after agreeing to do so with his lawyer present.  His version was that everything that happened was consensual, then they got in an argument, he left abruptly, so she accused him of rape.   One interview was conducted with the perpetrator (in comparison to the five interviews that my friend experienced; six if you count the rape kit/test/and questioning at the medical center.)  During that interview, he was never questioned about sexual positions or specific times that each act occurred. 

I wasn't there.  I don't know exactly what happened.  I am hearing one side of the story.

What I do know is my friend is a smart, educated, well-spoken, reliable, ambitious person.  She has never given me any reason to doubt her word or her integrity.  I support her and believe that she deserved to be treated with respect and fairness.  I do not believe this has happened for her since reporting the incident. 

The rape kit cost her personally $900 (it was a total fee of $1600, but insurance covered $700.)  She applied for "victim's assistance" but was denied due to the police determining there was not enough evidence to file charges.

Her parents have doubted her, have blamed her for having a boy in her apartment alone after she had been drinking with him. Her brother has told her "she's different", "angry", and not as fun as she used to be.  As if, these things are her fault as well.  Her response is "damn right" she feels different and angry.

Sadly, so many of us know people who have experienced the same.  I know people who have similar experiences.  Some of us have our own personal experiences as a victim as well.  It has to stop.

I don't have all the answers.  I know these cases must be difficult to prove.  I know both parties deserve respect and have the right to be treated fairly and lawfully.  But, I am so, so, so tired of stories like this one.  And, I didn't read this one in the newspaper or online.  I heard it from the mouth of someone I know, someone I respect, and someone I care about. 

Awareness is key.  Education is imperative.  Knowledge must help.  So, I've shared this story from my friend to add to the awareness of the sickening situation.  And, I encourage you to read Steph's post Sexual Assault Awareness - Do We Need a Month for This? because she shares a lot of research and statistics. 

Most importantly, what can I do?  I can support my friend.  I can let her know that I value her.  That I admire her courage and strength.  That I am always available for a phone call, a cup of tea, or a drink.  I can encourage therapy if she feels that's something she is interested in pursuing.  I can locate resources for her.  I can hold her hand and tell her that I believe her.  Right now, I think that's what she has valued from me the most.  She doesn't think the police believed her.  She doesn't think her parents believe her.  She needs to feel that someone believes in her, and I am honored to step up to the plate in that role for her. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

March scavenger hunt recap

from jenn's original post:

one. march second. national old stuff day. show me two of the oldest and most favored things in your house, and tell me why you love them. 

This is Snuggles.  My uncle gave him to me when he was dating my aunt.  He was trying to win my approval because our family was very close.  I was 6(ish).  Yes, Snuggles has lost an eye and a nose but he's in pretty good condition considering he's over 35 years old.

This is my mommy's ring that she received from an aunt of hers for her 18th birthday (she's 70 now).  It's garnets (her birthstone) and diamonds.  I don't wear it, but I keep it in a place that I can see it, touch it, appreciate it, and think of my mom. 

two. also march second. national read across america day, also called dr. seuss day. there's a film, a nicholas sparks' story called the lucky one, and in it, zac efron's logan is talking with taylor schilling's beth and blythe danner's ellie about philosophy. beth asks logan, dares him, really, to give them his favorite quote by a philosopher. he does. she assumes it's something of voltaire's when in actuality, it's from dr. seuss. so what's your favorite dr. seuss book? what bit of his philosophy do you most admire?

I strolled into the bookstore remembering that I loved "Oh, The Places You'll Go" but not really remembering why.  OH MY GOSH.  Thanks to this challenge for reminding me what a true treasure this book is.  I bought it.  I love that the book can be interpreted different ways but that it is positive and encouraging about finding one's own adventure even when obstacles may arise.

"On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are."

three. march sixth. national dress day. wear a dress. the whole day. you don't have to do heels if you don't want to, but you do have to do the dress. for some of you, this might not be a big thing. for me, i've probably put on a dress maybe five times in the past year. i hate the things. i hate having to iron them. i hate having to wear them because you can't just put on the dress. you have to put on the make up, too. BAH.

I wear dresses. I like 'em.  This was taken in the public toilets at the Australian Tattoo Convention.

six. march thirteenth. national good samaritan day. do something nice for someone you detest. do something kind for someone who's known more badness in his or her life than good. be an army of one.

Walking to Sydney Central train station after having lunch with a friend, I saw a guy sitting on the ground, playing guitar, asking for money, and he was accompanied by 2 sleeping dogs.  I sat down next to him, talked to him, gave him some money, and rubbed the bellies of his 2 blue heelers ~ mother & son, Jolie & Zac.  Sharing what we talked about and a photo aren't necessary to let you know I left him with a smile on his face after we shared a couple of laughs too.

seven. also march thirteenth. national napping day. give yourself a bit of rest one afternoon. lay down, and let your mind wander... dream a little.

I'm a big believer in naps.  So are my kitties.

eight. march twenty-first. national single parent day. surely you know someone who's raising a child all by his or herself. that's a LOT or responsibility for one person. send them a note of encouragement. if that person lives near you, offer to watch his or her child (or children) for an hour or two. give that single parent a bit of respite.

I reached out to a single parent friend of mine.  I know she's facing some challenges at the moment.  I've offered to have her and the kids over for a taco night ~ something we've been talking about for ages.  It didn't happen this month, but it is coming soon.

nine. march twenty-fifth. national tolkien reading day. what's your favorite of tolkien's tales? what's the third word on the twenty-fifth line of the three hundred twenty-fifth page of that book?

I don't read Tolkien.  Sorry, not sorry.  But, I did see the movie The Hobbit.  So, here's the word I was supposed to find from that book:  "shutting"

ten. march twenty-ninth. my birthday. send me happy thoughts, preferably via the post because i like getting mail (address is in the sidebar). please and thank you. i know. i'm being selfish. it's my day. i get a freebie on this one.

Done but not showing what I sent because I don't think she's received it yet...

eleven. march thirtieth. national take a walk in the park day. show me your favorite spot in your favorite park.

My favorite walk is with my family and these two crazy beasts ~ they love chasing ducks and going for a swim, and I love watching how genuinely happy they are while doing it.

twelve. national crayon day. grab a box of crayolas. color a pretty picture, and then send it to a friend.


Jenn from Quirky Pickings has been hosting these challenges since November.  Won't you join us for April?  You don't have to do them all.  You don't have to do them on the actual day.  You can tweak them to suit you.