Finally came down from the concert high.

I´m suffering mild concert withdrawals. The early 90s, for me, were filled with concerts. Jimmy Buffett (more than once!), Metallica, James Taylor, New Kids on the Block, Crosby Stills & Nash, Crosby & Nash, Chicago, and various free listenings — via partying on the beach with friends across the river from Riverbend — to many other tours that came through Cincinnati.

Graduated high school in 1995, became a mom in 1998, and have since been to three shows including this month´s Home Free concert. I find myself checking BandsInTown every week for a show to check out! And I also keep an eye on artists I´d like to see, even having my search radius set to 100 miles. I suppose the big concert season is winding down, and should pick up again around, what, April? Just have to get through the cold months!

I´d forgotten how much I love live music though. I´ve always loved being surrounded by other fans, singing, dancing, making friends (even if only for a night or two), but the biggest part is *feeling* the music. I still can even remember feeling the brass section at the Chicago concert I attended back in 1994, and I wasn´t even that close to the stage! Some things – images, feelings – just stay with you no matter the amount of time passing.

[My favorite Chicago song – 25 or 6 to 4 (starts at about 3:50). I love the trombone player!]

That must be why, when I´m driving, I have that radio turned up. In different moods, Pantera feels just as good as Pentatonix. My Morning Jacket feels just as good as My Chemical Romance. Godsmack feels just as good as the Grateful Dead. Looking through my music library, I can find at least one song from any artist that has a great ´crank it up´ song, and I just shared six favorites (click the band names).

So, concert tickets are on my Christmas/birthday wish list. :D

So, we saw Home Free in concert. It was awesome.

Let me start by saying, this post is in no way sponsored nor was it requested I write any sort of review, or anything of the like. I’m just going to tell you about the fantastic experience my son and I had at this show! But – if you have no idea who I’m talking about, I’ll have links (they’ll open in a new tab for you) and such scattered throughout this post.

If you’ve read my last post, or are a friend of mine on Facebook, you know that Mister Twister turned 17 a couple months ago, and his big gift was two VIP tickets to see Home Free up in Dayton, OH, for their Don’t It Feel Good Tour! Long story short, I set this up with Mom back in July and had to sit on that surprise for a MONTH, but I made it. The boy introduced me to this vocal band a while back when I caught him singing Ring of Fire around the house; he emailed me their version and after watching a few more videos I got hooked too. He’s a bass in the school choir, and I wanted to be the one to take him to his first concert (that he would remember – I took him with me to see James Taylor back when he was still a toddler!). How cool to be able to meet these great guys that he looks up to and tries to emulate!? So a big shout out to my mom who made that happen!


Now, we live in central KY and I knew I’d have a long drive ahead of me, but also that it’d be worth it.  Initially I had no idea when the whole meet-and-greet thing was going to happen, so I just planned to get us into Dayton by 4 p.m. Having grown up near Cincinnati, I knew I’d have to handle some rush hour traffic too. Cincy is also the orange barrel (read: road construction, ugh) capital of the world and that was a slight wrench in the trip. I saw that Dayton also had some construction going on around the day of the show. Overall, this meant I took a half-day at work, leaving at noon so we could leave the house at 1:30. I went over the trip directions with Mr Twister so he could be a good copilot, and we were on our way!

Home Free has a new album out – Country Evolution, which I bought on Google Play a couple weeks ago – so he put that on shuffle and we spent the entire drive northbound singing along with them. [Sidenote: my favorite is only available on the Deluxe Edition, but I have loved this song since the early 80’s – Seven Bridges Road. Spring for the Deluxe if you can. Seriously. His favorite is their cover of Elvira, and he is pretty close to hitting those lows every time! I’m pretty damn proud of his ability at this age.] This kid makes a great road tripper! He handles all the texting and music when we drive anyway, but now he also helps watch out for ”driver stuff” (idiots, weather, closures, etc.).

We crossed the river and hit our first slowdown/standstill of road work traffic. I think at this point Godsmack or Pantera was playing, but we noticed that in between songs – those are metal bands – the speakers were making some weird alien noises I guess? And it seemed to be tied to whether or not I had the clutch engaged or was shifting gears. Regardless it was kinda hilarious to us! Time check once we cleared traffic: nearly 3:30 p.m. This is when I started to worry just a touch, because I assumed Dayton being about an hour north of where we were and the speed limit is lower than in KY!

We made it almost all the way to Dayton before hitting more construction traffic, and it was right at 4:30 when we did. Luckily I was able to navigate in a city I’ve never visited and only got us turned around twice! My copilot worked together with my phone GPS to find us a parking garage, and the clerk there told us it was just over a block to walk. We had only had lunch before leaving the house, so I was hoping to find us a place to eat before we got into the Victoria Theatre — but we parked the car at 4:50 and I knew by this point that we had to be in the lobby by 5 for this show! A brisk walk got us in the door literally one minute before they were closed. Whew.

[This is a good point at which you, my friend, can get up and stretch your legs or something. I’m at over 800 words now and just getting to the good parts! Some of you already know I tend to get detailed, and ramble.]

We were given lanyards with a plastic VIP card attached, two *beautiful* tour posters (I’m framing them!), and a couple other goodies plus the chance to shop their merch table. Then we were led into the theater, and as there were about 50 people in attendance, we were given the chance to ask the guys questions if there were any. There were a lot of good questions by people! We learned a little more about them all than I knew beforehand. This is also when I decided that each of them are just as they seem in any video I’d watched, and as I expected, are truly good folk — just absolutely down-to-earth guys. I realize that’s a cliche used all the time, but it is so true here! After Q&A we were treated to one song that they weren’t performing that night (Colder Weather) and then it was photo time!

^ My reaction ^

I may have gently slapped my son’s arm in excitement. His reaction was a bit less ‘fangirlish’ although he was pretty excited too. So we lined up with everyone to go on stage for photos with the group (or solo, but we chose separate group pics for ourselves). The line moved pretty quickly, actually, so good management happening there! I handed my phone to someone (Nate the tour manager?) and said, ¨it’s Android, you can tap the screen pretty much anywhere¨ and walked over to the guys. My mind went completely blank, and I will tell you with embarrassment that I don’t think I made eye contact with anyone until Rob said ¨Hey! How ya doin’? :D ¨

I literally told him, ¨I’m trying to keep my inner fangirl under control, heh¨ – and I don’t know if (a) they heard me, and/or (b) they laughed a little, because the next thing I saw was an open spot between Austin and Tim.

Please refer back to the gif above…..

I walked right up to Tim and said, ¨Can I hug you?¨ and he said ¨sure¨ and I think I died for a minute! [Sidenote: my son is the same height as Tim, and I know this is fact now because my head hit his chest in the same spot it hits my son’s chest, lol.] The guy holding my phone said something like ‘okay, everyone smile’ and Rob threw a thumbs-up, which I think really makes the picture:

L-R: Chris Rupp, Rob Lundquist, Austin Brown, me, Tim Foust, Adam Rupp
L-R: Chris Rupp, Rob Lundquist, Austin Brown, me, Tim Foust, Adam Rupp

I love that Austin made that face, even though I didn’t see it until much later! :D

From that point, the guy taking pictures tried to hand me my phone and I told him to hang on, same phone for my kid who’s next in line. I’m glad he did, because I was still so in awe of what was happening that I do not remember a thing until said kid was finished and we exited the main stage to keep the line going. His picture with them turned out *so* much better than mine!

The only difference here is obvious!
The only difference here is obvious!

Look at my boy’s face! He’s so happy to be standing *right there* with an aca-idol! I’m so very glad he got this experience!

As we stood offstage with the rest of the group, we chatted with a couple other Home Fries (a.k.a. the fandom) while awaiting further instructions, and looked at the pictures we got. Eventually someone said we would walk back across the stage for a quick autograph session, so ‘have your stuff ready for them to sign!’

I knew this would happen, so the night before the show, I had Mr Twister pull out his shirt from UK Male Chorus Day last year, when high school boys statewide converged upon Lexington to have a one-day workshop with The AcoUstiKats – who were also on The Sing Off, and had met Home Free as well – which culminated with a concert by the massive high school chorus, the UK chorus, and The AcoUstiKats. I crossed my fingers that the guys would sign a shirt, and I guessed right!


[As they were signing his shirt, I was attached at the waist to my VIP pass as it was being signed – and realized as I felt a slight tug (¨Oh, it’s attached to her! LOL¨ – Rob) that I had stopped moving to watch my son’s face when Austin signed him. Oops :)  That tug pulled me back to reality and I finally talked to Chris for a few seconds, mentioning the road work in Cincy and to find a way around for the trip to Louisville if they could! Then I felt the boy’s hand on my shoulder and we were walking off stage again.] That picture is now my phone’s background image. I love it!

Exiting stage right — literally, a sign said Stage Right, lol — we got back to the seating area and briefly talked about food again, because it was now right at 6 and the show started at 7:30. With a final glance toward the stage we headed out of the theatre and decided to take our ‘swag’ back to the car. This would also ensure that later on we’d remember how to get to the garage! With a little help from Yelp and Google, we found The Flying Pizza (Dayton is the home of the Wright brothers!) and had a good dinner there with still more Home Fries.

We were seated by 7 and the place filled up. The atmosphere was great! People were chatting all around, there was music playing quietly from the stage area, websites in lights on the walls, and they allow drinks inside (bought at their bar, with or without alcohol) – I’ve missed going to concerts…. Anyway, the director of the theatre came onstage and talked a little bit about the upcoming season for them (it’s in the link above, near the beginning of my story), then told us he needed to take a selfie with all of us! Everyone waved and he got his selfie, then introduced the opening act 11th Hour — a group of high school kids who perform at superstar level. They were fantastic! Check out their Facebook page there, and if you’re in the area, check *them* out – you will not regret it!

Our seats were Orchestra Center, Row 5, on the aisle, stage right. Not quite close enough to get spittle from the human drum set – although he did give an 8-minute solo and we could see spit fly now and then! – named Adam, but also not quite the right seats for great photos or video. Still, I’m not even remotely upset or disappointed! They were absolutely great seats for enjoying the show! I did take a few photos and a couple of short videos when I wasn’t busy singing and dancing along.

The easiest thing to do is link my album from Google – click here to see the pictures I took!

I’m almost done …. the one photo/video I didn’t get but SO wish I had — after the show was really and truly over, someone with tour management announced that if we stayed in the lobby, the band wanted to come out and meet more people and sign autographs! I looked at my boy, then at the time, and left the decision to him if we were going to stay awhile longer. If we stayed, we were going to spend the night with Mom (just outside Cincy); if not, we were driving all the way home in one shot. He said he wanted to stay for about 5 minutes, and if we didn’t see them again by then, we could leave. Furious texting to Mom and Ardeo ensued with our plans and promises to let them both know what we’d do and all, then I put my phone back in my purse.

We happened to be standing by the bar area, not knowing that when Home Free walked out to the lobby, they would again be walking past us and close enough to touch! Someone across the way started clapping, and within moments the lobby was cheering as Austin walked out followed by three others. I realized that Tim had yet to walk out, but he was literally only 50 feet behind them. Mr Twister stood there watching, held up his hand, and Tim gave him a high five. I realized I’d missed a fabulous video opportunity but it was too late, and I got to see it happen anyway. Then I saw the boy’s face.

It was very similar to this.

And he looked at his hand and said, ¨well, we can go now, if you want to.¨

Must have been in the top 5 highlights of the night for him. I laughed, and we started walking outside. Met up with another small group also headed to our parking garage, and as a firm believer in safety in numbers, we all walked together to the garage. I texted Mom to let her know we were driving on home, then texted Ardeo to have him leave the chain undone since we’d be coming home. Found out the hard way that 75 southbound is *closed* overnight right now, so we drove through Xavier University campus until I found numbers I knew – 471 will take me home!! Stopped off for fuel in Fort Thomas, pointed out to Mr Twister some of the places I worked while pregnant with this very child, and he stayed awake until we got back on 75 south in Florence. I was still buzzing pretty good from the excitement of the whole night that I had no problem driving, and keeping the radio turned on (and up!) helped without waking him up. We walked in our front door just after 1 a.m. to find Ardeo and Miss Hurricane still awake – my kids are on Fall Break anyway – and asking how the night went. They only got a quick rundown before I was ready to sleep! I was awake for 21 hours at that point so I promised to tell them more the next day. I wanted nothing more than to sleep in a little on a lovely vacation day!

But I have a cat. Finnegan demands his gooshy food no later than 7:30 a.m., so guess what time I woke up on Friday? :D

To close:

Best mom/son date ever. Thank you, son, for taking me to the show with you when you could have chosen to take my mom instead!

Also, if you have the chance to see Home Free live, GO. Even if you’re not a fan of country music, because they do have more than country music in their repertoire, they are amazing. I helpfully linked their tour page at the top, but here it is again :)

Don’t It Feel Good tour schedule

At the least, find them on YouTube and see what they’ve covered, then find an original song by them. Worth it! They’re also on a site called Patreon if you want to check that out. (I also like Julian Neel, who I found also from my son via YouTube!)

** I am truly just telling my story about attending their concert! I have not been asked to do so and will not be reimbursed for anything – I’m just a Fry spreading the good word! I get nothing from you clicking any links, other than a smile if I find out you looked and maybe listened :) **

As always, thanks for dropping by! Namaste, my friends.

~ Amphitryte

The Water Slide Tale


With the new school year for Miss Hurricane, I have received a few folders filled with writing assignments from her elementary school years. These folders have been sitting in our living room for the last couple of weeks and today happened to be the day that I cleaned up the living room. I keep a few things from each kid from each year in one of those big file tote boxes, and again go through it once the child has moved up into a new school. This gem from Miss Hurricane’s 6th grade English class, a personal narrative, had me and Ardeo in tears laughing. I’m going to type it as she has it written, and I did take one photo of her writing to show her style (and prove it was her using all caps at that point). Enjoy!

The Water Slide Tale

I was the kind of girl who hated heights to death, loved swimming, and feared water slides.

About three or four years ago, I was out camping with my grandparents, brother, and (annoying) little cousin at Fort Boonesborough in Winchester, KY. We were swimming at a nearby pool, and I was finally tall enough to ride the water slide there. It was long and twisting, and had water jets at the top to keep water running down as you slid, and landed you in the deep end of the pool. I had always wanted to ride it, but was never tall enough (4’11”), but was 5’00” tall then, slightly taller than the cartoon mallard duck used for measurement. After we chose a spot for our stuff and put on sunscreen, I was ready.

I was playing in the water for a while, swimming happily in the cool, clear liquid, when I noticed the slide and remembered I could ride it. So, I got out of the pool and climbed up the steps to the water slide. When I reached the top, I looked down at the water and realized that it was really high up. Eventually I decided, ”this is way too high. I can’t go down.” I walked back down the steps and got back into the pool. My PawPaw came over and asked, ”Why didn’t you go down the water slide?” ”It’s too high up” I replied. ”How about I go down with you?” he offered. ”Sure!” I agreed happily.

We went up to the top of the water slide and waited for the people in front of us to go down the slide, and my PawPaw climbed onto the slide and sat down, and I climbed onto his lap. We were ready to go, when suddenly, I am rushing down this snake of a water slide into an abyss of water. I have enough time to look up at him before my view is blocked, and he’s still sitting there. But, he’s grinning. G R I N N I N G. His oldest granddaughter is currently sliding down into an abyss of water, and all he does is sit there and GRIN. At the moment I was convinced he was evil, but looking back on it now, they have a one person at a time limit on the water slide. I understand. At least, now I do, but then I didn’t know, and was absolutely TERRIFIED.

Her story, her writing.
Her story, her writing.

I land in the cold water with a splash and stand up, moving out of the slide’s way. I’m trying to wipe water from my eyes when he comes down, grinning. I try to act angry at him, but it’s impossible, and I’m grinning too. That was actually really fun! I then proceed to ride down the water slide until we had to go, but I had a lot of fun in the end. I also learned something. If you’re afraid of heights, water, or speaking to large groups (or something else), if you overcome your fear, you’ll be able to enjoy and accomplish many more things in life.

{She signed her name and class period here.}

I had no idea she had written this piece. She never said anything, it wasn’t homework or something that was to be finished over a period of time, and there is always test prep happening – we don’t always see or hear about everything the kids do in school. Reading through this, I laughed so hard I cried and startled the cat at one point! I told Ardeo he had to hear this one. I did my best to read it aloud without laughing, then he was laughing along with me – seems this kid has storytelling skills! It can only get better from here, and you can be sure I will share more as they come to me!

Happy Sunday!

~ Namaste ~

Mister Twister is 17! Here come the photos:

So my son, my first draft child, the boy who will always have my heart … he is 17 years old as of August 9, 2015. I only have 52 weeks to ensure I’ve done everything right! I can panic now, yes? Gonna panic a little. However, I do think I’ve done pretty well already and there isn’t much left that needs to be taught or discussed. I think he will be a great adult once released into the wild that is society at large. I can say that based on feedback from other adults too, even some who aren’t related to us, so even if my bias is showing it’s still okay!

Mister Twister is a bass in his school’s Men’s Choir. He joined last year as a Junior and has loved every moment, from class to workshops to concerts, even recruiting a few new guys for this year’s choir. Back in late April he sent me a video from an acapella group he’d found that he really liked. I also fell for them, watching almost every video I could find including videos uploaded by other fans. Most of you may know I get distracted easily, and I also have a tendency to obsess about things for a while before my attention is turned to something else. This happens in all areas of my life – please do not ask about any sewing projects as they are currently backlogged, LOL! – and, long story short, I found myself going back and forth daily between this group, and music in Spanish (especially lyric videos – remember, I learned Spanish in high school and am still learning and practicing by reading along!) for most of the summer.

The school year ended, and Mister Twister and I were still watching music videos and sharing them via email. In my daily YouTubing I was reminded of concerts I’d been to, many years ago. I’ve seen New Kids On The Block, Metallica, Crosby Stills & Nash, Chicago, and Jimmy Buffett to name a few. I love music in almost any genre, and I think it shows in my personal library! I’m so glad the kids have enjoyed a lot of my music, and they have pretty well-rounded tastes like their mother.


Here comes the birthday gift from my parents. I had to sit on this secret for almost THREE WEEKS and I can *finally* talk about it around him! A few weeks ago I called Mom during my lunch break and walked her through this purchase. (Note: Mom dyed his hair, at his request, and with my permission. I did not expect quite the outcome, but he likes it, so, hey.)

I get to take him to his first concert!! We are going to see Home Free Vocal Band on October 1st!!!


He is truly as excited as I am, but it has been quite difficult to contain my excitement without giving away the surprise – so I was actually glad when his birthday finally rolled around! I have a video (click to watch) of him opening the tickets – it’s 4:30 long and gets a little boring unless you listen to my brother’s lovely commentary. He’s a funny guy in the last minute when he’s talking to his oldest nephew. I did have to stop recording a bit early for laughter but really, I got his reaction to the whole deal and that’s what matters to me!

I want to note here that I have been working on this post for over a week, due to having issues with WordPress (see my new theme/look?) and the school year has begun for my kids. Every year, about a week before the first day, our district sends a wall calendar to every family with a student enrolled; I like to look at the artwork – always by students, from district art shows – and look at days off so I can plan as many trips to Mom’s as we can fit. I flipped to October and got a nice surprise! Initially I was going to let him skip the day after the concert, since we will have to drive a few hours and stay overnight. This year we have our Fall Break scheduled for October 1 & 2, so he will already be off school! When I saw it, I almost slipped and gave away our plans for that weekend! I managed to recover with some help from my beloved Ardeo, who has an October 4 birthday. Close call and I’m glad he was sitting next to me when I noticed and got excited about those dates!

I am still so excited for this concert. I feel like it is forever away, but it’s only 6 weeks away now! I am taking an extended weekend from work too, so woohoo for a mini vacation! There will be more concerts in our future, although they will likely be free shows. A yearly assignment for choir students here is to attend a classical concert, and living close to a university we have quite a few opportunities well into December.

Bring on the music!! It makes the world go ’round!

Namaste my friends ~


A brief recap.

Looks like my last real update was almost a year ago. Yikes. In reality, it wasn’t so much ¨life got in the way¨ as, I didn’t really have a comfortable way to post anything other than pictures; since I like to tell a story along with pictures, I decided to wait until I could type and ramble as I’m known to do.

The kids are doing just fine in school. Miss Hurricane is now going into 7th grade and had an easy transition into middle school; she’s made some new friends and is still taking Japanese and loving it. She’s also sprouting into quite a young woman, and a wonderful person all around! I think she’ll take after her dad in being vocal and passionate about the issues in which she believes. Mister Twister will be a senior this year – oh my. How can that be?! In just over a year, I will have to let him run free in the world if he so chooses! That is both scary and a bit of a relief, although I do feel he is relatively ready for the world. The world is ready for him and now my feedback and advice matters just a little less than in the past. He has an idea of the direction he wants to take after high school, and he knows he has the safety net here should he need it. He has also done well in school, having completed three years of Japanese and one year in the choir. He has a fantastic baritone and seems to be developing into a bass – I love to hear him singing as he learns pieces for school, and I love having music around the house anyway, so to hear music from him is doubly good!

We as a family went hiking out in the Red River Gorge last fall. It’s become a yearly event for us now! Living in Kentucky makes it a great day trip and it is our favorite place around here. I have about 160 pictures from  the trip and I will find a way to get them up, even if it’s just a link to an online photo album. I remember getting some great sunrise photos, and being autumn the colors were just as pretty.

The holidays went as in years past with visits to and from family, both here and up north. It was around this time I finally became completely irritated at my retail job, and I started looking more earnestly for something better. January and February in this part of the country knocked us for a loop; we got about 20¨ of snow just here at our house over the course of a week, and the kids had about 2 weeks off school for it. In March, Ardeo and I celebrated 13 years of marriage with another weekend camping in the Gorge, and it was still freezing and cold out! We still had a good time though, because there’s nothing like bacon and coffee all made over a campfire. I have a few pictures from that trip too, since he took me to his family’s farm back east. His family has lived on those acres for over 200 years! They are one of the founding families of Kentucky and it is only an hour north of where my ancestors lived during the Civil War.

Upon our return from that trip, I got a callback for an interview, through a temp agency, from one of the companies to which I’d applied for work. The interview took place on a Wednesday, I was called again Thursday with a job offer, and I gave a week’s notice to my former employer so I could start on April 6 in a new position. I had been working at that store for over 3 years with not much going for me as far as climbing a corporate ladder, and while I’m thankful for the experience and the friends I made there, it was definitely time to move on. The manager there is a lovely person and offered to give me the opportunity to return in the future should I want or need to do so, which does not happen often with little notice of an exit. (Thank you, RA & SS!)

Last week, the company I had been temp’ing for offered me a full-time position! So now I’m officially an employee of theirs and no longer work through the temp agency! I was honestly so excited, I cried happy tears! I’m back to a good place, and the thought went through my mind – just like when I was a single mother in 1998, I can now be independent and still provide for my family and nothing – or no one! – will impede that or take it away. I knew within a month of starting here that this was the place I wanted to retire from, and now I am absolutely on that road. There’s probably a longer story there, or maybe some sort of explanation, but now is not the time (I have to get to bed, I work early!).

Overall it has been a good year with many blessings. I am ready for whatever life and the universe decides it wants to throw at me now! I hope your year has been as good!

Namaste, my friends ~



I have a laptop now! Brace yourself….

So much to catch you up on, but now I can do that! I got a ChromeBook today and am learning how to use it, but I really got it for keeping up with this blog. Now, I can! Ardeo and I are going to wade through the ins and outs of it over the next few days. I got a new job, and that will likely be the first post coming. In short, I’m no longer in retail and love it! This job is much better for me and my family, both financially and in terms of stress, but I’m working 40-45 hours a week. First shift with weekends off though, which was important to me, and I’ve been in this position since the beginning of April. Stay tuned!

I missed typing and want to get back in the swing of it, but first I must learn everything I can about my new laptop.

Namaste, friends!


I have so many photos trapped on my phone.

Sadly, I do not today have a way to upload them all, nor even a portion. I am writing today from Miss Hurricane’s computer, as it is SO much easier to type and get all the words out of my head. I got a new-to-me phone a couple of months ago; I was the last holdout in the house of any Apple product, possessing an iPhone 4S. I swore I was going to use it until it just flat died on me. Well, last year, Santa brought me a Nexus 7 in exchange for my iPad 2…. after months of use, I figured out that I was getting used to Android with no problems, and eventually started getting tired of mentally switching back and forth between the two operating systems. I told Ardeo I was ready to make the switch, and I kid you not, the man jumped for joy! (He’d been sick of Apple for many moons already, and was constantly asking me if I was ready to give up i-devices for good.) He knows me as well as I know myself, so he went on the hunt for a phone capable of doing what I wanted – a great camera was a must for me, since we do not have a separate camera anymore – while staying within a certain price range. Miss Hurricane had been using a Moto G, so I started playing with hers as a test run; long story short, I really liked it. So back in the summer we found a similar Moto phone for me and I’ve been using it for a few months now, at least since June when my youngest cousin MW got married. Obviously it’s super easy to upload pictures to Instagram or Facebook, but there are a few more steps involved when I take a boatload of pictures (i.e. the wedding mentioned, or, say, Halloween) and want to share them here. Also, I believe I’m running out of storage space! Luckily I have many people in my family who know *far* more than me, so I’m learning about some options available for free. At the end of the day, I always want any pictures I take to be stored on a hard drive here at home, and as I’m the only one in the house with no computer (I just have the tablet and a phone) I have to share with whomever is not home. Of course main storage is on Ardeo’s computer, and I work so much that I just never get around to dumping my phone there. SO – all that to say, I am working on a way to ensure I don’t lose any pictures, while still able to share a bunch at a time here. I still work retail and the holiday season is going strong; I hope to get to this before Christmas Day, but in the meantime if you come to read and just see a few pictures, you’ll know what’s going on.

Until next time,
– Amphitryte

Summer came, and went, in a blink.

So I realized today that I have neglected my little update blog! Not trying to make excuses, but I do still work full time and I have been spending more free time away from much of the internet (other than reading blogs and some news) to hang out with my housemates and further-flung family. Work is calming down for a minute and I have been writing a post in my head for a few weeks, so it’s time to proverbially put pen to paper:

April: Spring Break for the kids’ previous school year. The kids went to Myrtle Beach with my in-laws for most of the week, then the 3 of us visited my parents for a couple days. All in all it was a good time! The kids brought home some souvenirs and about 400 photos. Still haven’t had a chance to watch that DVD ….. I will, and will share, I promise.
May: Miss Hurricane turned 11 this year and, oh my, I can often glimpse the beautiful grownup she will become, yet still she is my little girl in the same breath. We have fully entered the tween years with her, and she is definitely becoming a wonderful human on the inside to match her beautiful outside. She just started middle school a week ago, so all my babies are out of elementary now!
(Sidebar: she was the only kid in her 5th grade who had perfect attendance since Kindergarten! She got an award for this, and I posted a picture on Instagram: my username there is also – amphitryte )
My own birthday falls around Memorial Day, and we three spent that weekend at my mom’s for a family birthday party! I’m 37 now :D  Bro and his family came for the weekend, a friend and her kids stayed a while, as well as my cousin NW and his girlfriend. Bro and NW unintentionally showed up dressed as Mario and Luigi of Nintendo fame….. again, photos on IG! We had such a great time, some family came and went, and I only spit my drink out once (SO worth it. Caused by hilarity.).
June: mi primito se casó <3  <– My little cousin got married! Beautiful outdoor ceremony, and I got to visit a little with my sweet cousins from Chicago and northern Ohio! I hadn't seen many of them in almost a year. We already have plans to get together next summer at Mama's, and will be celebrating another graduate at the same time!
July: another month, a different part of the family reunites – this month was for my dad's siblings; for years we have gathered to celebrate Grandpa's birthday, but now continue the tradition to just get together. Bro & his family were there too, and I mostly chatted with his fiancee and my nieces. I did collect a bunch of cousins and their kids for a game of kickball; having worn hippie shoes, I played barefoot :D Still good fun, and we played until most of us adults – also smokers – couldn't breathe well anymore, lol.
August: Mister Twister turned SIXTEEN years old, y'all. I was not emotionally ready for this! However, he is not interested in driving or getting his license, so we were spared that expense. We did get him the gift he requested: a Wacom drawing tablet for his PC. He has been enjoying it and uses it almost daily! Im so grateful for that kid. He is also a wonderful human inside and out, and I am so proud of him. <3
Kids around here start school the second week of August, so much of our time so far has been gathering school supplies and wardrobes for these young'uns. Mister Twister is a junior, and as I mentioned Miss Hurricane is in middle school now, a sixth grader. She has gotten used to changing classes already and has made new friends, although she misses a lot of her elementary friends who are on different 'team schedules'. This is the year we will get her a phone (long bus ride + one vehicle family = she misses the bus, she needs the ability to contact me at work!), and soon I'm sure we will have her friends' numbers or email or Skype or some such. I remember being a girl of that age!
Both kids are taking Japanese again. Mister Twister is in Japanese 3, while Miss Hurricane is in Japanese 1 but with the solid foundation of all her elementary years of learning a day or two weekly. I hope they both gain and eventually retain relative fluency, even if only with each other. Maybe one of them will visit Japan one day? More than anything I hope they travel while they're young! Miss Hurricane has the usual 6th grade core classes besides that; Mister Twister is beginning with choir this year, and will have the opportunity to perform with (or in front of? I missed that part earlier…) the local university's nationally-known acapella group in about a month.
(Sidebar: I am going to discuss this with my husband first, but you may soon learn where we live via my mentioning the university by name. I'm not so sure I want the world at large to know so specifically where we are, but I know a large number of my readers are family or close friends, so on a grand scale I realize I'm not necessarily 'important' per se, but there is a small number of individuals who do not deserve to know more than the time zone in which we reside. This is largely the reason my posting is so sporadic, and also why it takes me f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to write anything!)

That pretty much catches everyone up on things around here. Except the big announcement:

Ardeo and I quit smoking on August 4 after *months* of talking about it and weeks of half-hearted attempts. I haven't even said anything on Facebook about it because I wanted to make sure it was going to stick this time, rather than 'hey, we quit!' closely followed by 'whoops, bought another pack' or something similar. So, as of today, we have been quit for 2 weeks and thus far are doing well. Full disclosure, we did move from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigs for each of us, but it is so far effective and I have already stepped down in nicotine from 18mg to 12mg. My doctor told me, "if you've already tried the gum, patches, prescriptions, cold turkey, and none of that worked? While I don't necessarily condone this, it *is* a good alternative because you are getting less toxins and no tar, so why not try? If it gets you fully quit, then it's success in the end." His doctor said something very similar, so after some research we went and got started with this. And hey, the kids are proud enough of us already, and their opinions matter to me more that anyone else's opinion! We have already broken even on e-cig spending vs. tobacco buying, so it can only get better, I think.

It is a school/work night, and almost my bedtime, so that will be all for this time! Thanks for stopping by :)

Namaste, amigos!

Trapped in the phone – a photo backlog!

Little update before all the pictures:
I now have insurance (thank you Mr Obama!) and will be seeing a doctor for my heart on the 26th. I promise to let you all know how that works out as soon as I’m able! I also can see my gynecologist again, as it’s been 4 years since my last checkup there; he’s expensive, but quality, and not the type of doctor I want to change often. I’m seeing him early in April, but unless something is seriously wrong, I won’t mention it again :)

Now! Onto the trapped pictures – I have a bad habit of taking too many to keep up with, so I dump the phone every so often and forget to go through all the pics until it’s been a year later, and I’ve forgotten a lot about the surrounding events. So today, you get captioned photos!
Enjoy :: ~ namaste~

My newest tattoo : stylized claddagh, just like my engagement ring!
Just like an actual bracelet, I wanted this to go all the way around my wrist.
360° tattoo!
Mom got me an ankle bracelet for my birthday too!
fail so hard xD’)”]image

I tried to build my own bonfire, but one of my cousins (henceforth – Mr Survivalist) was the winner in building this beauty. He said, “it was so painful, lol, to watch [me] fail so hard. xD ”

Bro was kind enough to fix the off-kilter axle for us, no charge! 'Call it your birthday present from me, Sis.' Thanks, man!
Bro and our cousin NW (not the fire-building survivalist, but his brother) kicked back to start the party.
Never been one for wine, but my cousin Mr Survivalist suggested that I might like the taste. He was right, it is pretty good stuff! Shared this bottle with all the adults in attendance.
Mom has a hammock in her fancy gazebo. One of my favorite places to laze when we visit in warm weather!

Mama wrote a sweet, touching message in my birthday card. Being a member of the adopted branch, I always tear up when I think about how lucky I am having her in my life! I *am* her nieta <3

It was bugging me.
So I had a few inches lopped off!
I made this little purse for Miss Hurricane, an extra little 10th birthday gift.
She can use either side as the front but the zipper is on this side.
I have named this little mixer *Snow Cream* because it tastes exactly like the snow cream Mom made for us when we were kids. No measuring but about 1:3 Amaretto to Almond Milk, over 3 ice cubes. I stir it with a chopstick ;)
My baby is TEN now!
Make a wish.....
My baby girl is almost my height already!
Growing up, we always played Hide & Seek in this cemetery, but hardly ventured into this old zone in the back after dark. This was taken at dusk, just when my cousin (red shirt) snuck up behind and startled Lurkey - just a little ;)
Lurkey setting up the dessert table
Hadara lighting a sparkler for one of the littlins
This is how you play Tag after dark! Wearing glow bracelets and necklaces!
Easy way to keep an eye on the kids after dark!
Ardeo gets some sugar from Mister Twister and Miss Hurricane after they gave him his presents.
Ardeo needed these and would not have bought them for himself, so these are his gifts!
Just some chicken legs
Grilling some burgers, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Finished burgers, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions
Chicken, green pepper, pineapple, carrot, and some kind of sauce. Ardeo made this and it was d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
We built a neat console from an IKEA Expedit bookshelf, adding drawers, doors, and feet. Love it!

Heart Disease Awareness Month: February

But really, shouldn’t it be every month, or every day? Regardless, there is one reason I’m bringing this up today. I know I haven’t been around, but the reason for that is simply, work. I’m just coming off of a short vacation and have some time to focus here, and it fortuitously coincides with Heart Month.

Back in March of 1999, I was going on 22 years old and just diagnosed with a mild heart condition. My doctor back then said that it was a mild, but common, issue; my risk factor was higher though because of family history on both sides of the family, and in the end he told me just to ‘keep an eye on it’ and keep track of oddities or instances as best I could – he knew that Mister Twister was only 7 months old – and to let him (any) physician know about at future yearly checkups.
I was in good general health back then. I worked at the airport and so was very active 5 days a week, so that was great as far as exercise goes. I ate pretty well too (balanced fruits & veggies with meat consumption), didn’t drink or do drugs, but I was still a smoker. I knew then as now that smoking would be bad overall but specifically for my heart. My doctor suggested I quit smoking, and I told him I would – but I didn’t until years later. Full disclosure here : I did quit in the fall of 2010, but life got the best of me a year later and I started smoking again in September 2011. Eleven months isn’t bad but obviously I can do better, and of course I know now that I *can* quit. It’s on my very short to-do list!
That doctor visit in ’99 was the first indication in my life that I could have issues earlier than an average woman, both because of the family history and my smoking habit. Dr. V had listened to my heart, heard a murmur (similar to Mom’s, and we were both patients of his at the time), and hooked me up to a 24-hour Holter monitor. When I went back to discuss what, if anything, the monitor found, he said that my issue had a name – premature ventricular closure, or PVCs. If you click that link, you can see that this is fairly common, but usually not noticeable in day-to-day life. Also usually not discovered at such a young age…. but, for me, there is was in black and white. Dr. V didn’t feel it necessary to give me any sort of medication or put me on an aspirin regimen or ask me to follow any specific exercise routines, which was totally fine with me. He only asked that I not donate blood because it could cause my blood pressure to drop dangerously. (This was the most disappointing thing he could have said – I’m O+ so I used to donate often!)

In the last 14 years, my heart has ‘skipped’ only a few times each year that I know of, and never with any indication that it would happen; it also seemed to happen “just whenever” it wanted to, and I could be doing anything from watching TV to walking to dancing in the kitchen. It didn’t seem connected to any activity or lack thereof. Only once can I remember feeling a skip, and it made me think I was going to pass out. Especially scary at the time, because I was home alone with newborn Miss Hurricane and didn’t have a vehicle – Mister Twister was at school, and Ardeo was at work, and it was around 9 a.m. – and leading up to the skip, I was literally watching a TV show and crocheting while waiting for the baby to wake up. Since that day, I promised myself I would be more aware and vocal about this heart condition, and I kept a paper updated quarterly with information about it, myself, family history, Mom’s phone number, everything I could think of. And since that day, I probably have had less than 50 skips total.

Until about two weeks ago. I truly have no idea what may have changed, but I was at work one Saturday and noticed that in the first two hours of my shift, I felt 5 skips. I told my closest coworker about it, since she and I would be off by ourselves but working together that day. The rest of that day, nothing else. I thought it was just me overworking or something.
The next day, Ardeo and I went grocery shopping, and I felt one ‘long skip’ while driving. I told him when it happened (he knew the above history) and that there was no pain; I hadn’t yet had any pains accompany any of these heart skips, ever. Just for my own peace of mind, that night I found an app for my phone that would allow me to keep track of everything associated with it. This condition is the reason I keep my phone on my person at work, even though upper management frowns upon that (I’m not a teenager, I’m certainly not using the phone while I work, ffs.).
Monday, Feb 3, I went to work as usual and was able to note each skip throughout the day. Looking now, I see that I wrote down 5 skips between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. and noted what I was doing at each time. Tuesday, 5 skips again, but I was off work that day and didn’t notice (or track?) any skips until dinnertime – the first one I have down was at 5:38 while I chopped some celery.
Wednesday, off work again so I cleaned up some fallen branches in the yard. No skips while I was out there, but 4 ‘big’ skips, the first one being 2 hours *after* I came inside. So …. not during strenuous activity.
I won’t bore you, but suffice to say that it has gotten worse in the last week. I’m tracking at least 20 per day, and every so often there is a very mild pain. Still, each skip is only enough to make my breath catch and never lasts more than one second.

I have not had insurance since my baby was born – she turns 11 in May – and I have only kept up with my gyno visits because his office allows me to make payments, so I can take 3 months to pay the bill. (Side note: I also have sketchy family history here. Mom’s mother, aunts, and sisters have all had something or other go wrong with female parts, up to and including cancers. Not so much on Dad’s side, but I have talked to his sisters about medical history too, so I have all of that on file with my gyno.) Not having insurance is what has stopped me from seeing a cardiologist or even finding a PCP. I have been looking over all the things that go along with the Affordable Care Act and will finally be able to sign up this month. I will quit smoking too, and soon, but have not yet set a final quit date. I do have nicotine gum in the house though, so that’s a start!
All this to say that I am truly worried (and, don’t get me wrong, pissed too!) and a little scared regarding my heart health right now. I know I have made stupid choices that exacerbated this issue, but my kids are still young and dammit so am I! I am not finished living and I am a little afraid that I’m running out of time.

Take care of your heart. Seriously.
I’ll update again when I can, but until then, namaste.