You know what? I have been mystery shopping like crazy lately and have learned one thing I never really picked up before about living in Miami and surrounding cities: There is a ridiculous number of malls here. I've been to more shopping centers than I can count lately, and they're starting to blend together. But it's fun, I'm learning my way around with Siri's help, and hopefully I'll be helping pay the bills when my fees start rolling in...
Another thing I've learned is this: I can usually fill Oscar the Pouch and the belly of at least one of the smaller children (not Rob's or Sophie's - the two of them are never full) by walking around the mall's Food Court during peak hours, sampling everything that's handed out, and save some money on buying actual meals. They don't seem to care whether you plan on buying there or not, or even if you listen to their sometimes long-winded spiel about everything that's on offer, but I usually try and stay. Unless I can't understand them. Then I just say "thank you" and bounce.
So when we found ourselves at Aventura Mall on Wednesday evening, with not a clue on the planet where the expensive kitchen boutique was that I was supposed to evaluate and four hungry bellies (and a pouch), we headed for the Food Court to do my trick. Only, we were there at a bad time, apparently, because no one was out with their red tray (it's always red, I wonder why?), giving out samples in dixie cups. That's another thing I learned: no one here uses toothpicks for the samples. I wonder about that, too; did a guy stab someone at the crowded table next to him for some teriyaki chicken?
We bought some delicioso Thai mango chicken and something-BBQ chicken (I seem to be having as much trouble returning to full-on vegetarianism as I am giving up my Diet Coke habit), lo mein, flied lice, and fried platanos (yum!) for dinner. Chloë surprised me by completely chowing down, even more than Sophie did, I think. Once in a while, Chlo can really pack it away.
So I couldn't find the boutique, left the mall to go across the street, walked around for about ten minutes, went back to the mall, and finally went into Nordstrom (or "Nerd Storm," as Sophia has hilariously dubbed it) to ask for help. I thought it would be in there, knowing how much the coffee machines I was to evaluate cost, but I was wrong. Argh. More walking, and I have a huge blister from Orlando on my left pinky toe.
Rob and the kids were still out in the car by this point, having gone all over Aventura to track this damn shop down, which really cut into my mileage and per-hour fees, y'know? It's a good thing I ended up getting a perfectly brewed cup of coffee and a pretty big fee out of that shop, or I'd have been more upset. I still haven't shut up about that coffee. If I didn't have the Keurig, I might be tempted to buy one of these guys, outrageous price tag notwithstanding.
After the coffee boutique, we headed NW to Sawgrass Mills, a freakin' enormous mall with everything from Old Navy and The Gap to Jimmy Choo and other lux brands. Sawgrass Mills is to the left of Fort Lauderdale, if you're following along on a map. I had to go there to do three valet parking and one retail shop. One of the valet stands no longer exists, though, so it's anyone's guess whether I'll get my fee for a 'closed' shop (sometimes you get paid even if the place isn't there anymore) or not. After we parked at the first place, we had to wander around the mall a little bit to kill time. There were these cool spiral-shaped fountains there, and this one was empty, so we let the kidoodles walk around on top of it. I love the stance and look on Jack's face, like he's in Jurassic Park or something.
We happened across an arcade, Gameroom (which Sophia amusingly decided should be called "Gam-er-OOM" instead of the real pronunciation), so after checking that prices weren't outrageous, I decided to load a game card with a little cash and turn the kids loose. We were the only people there, so they had the run of the place. It's like a giant, grown-up Chuck E. Cheese's in there or something. I've not been to a Dave & Buster's yet, so I can't compare.
We went around, sliding the card for one kid after the other, for about a half-hour. Each kid won a ton of tickets at their games. Here, Sophia was on a machine where she had to jump when the light was on "STOP" to win lots of tickets. Not shockingly, she was great at it. This kid is good at pretty much everything she attempts. Except cleaning her room, but I'm starting to think that's a conscious effort on her part...
I told Chloë, "I don't know why you guys love playing the Claw Game so much. It's almost impossible to win anything!" but they don't care. They'll care when it's their money, I'm betting.
Jack loves to prove me wrong. He won this humongo ball from - you guessed it - a Claw Game. A gigantic Claw Game, one of four adjacent to each other. He was, to put it mildly, thrilled. So was I - we can use it for P.E. class! Never mind that the thing is as big as he is.
Speaking of huge games, Chloë found this big Connect 4 and had to play that. She won, too, but it's a pretty easy thing to do when you have no competitor...
When Rob helped the kids feed their earned tickets into the redemption machine, they'd gotten 209, I think, for their little bit of money. I showed them all the things that could be gotten for 200 tickets, and they weren't impressed, so I showed them some things they could save up for, and which would they rather do? Miracle of miracles, they decided to bank their tickets for another time. You could've knocked me over with a feather; they've never gone that route when I've tried to convince them in the past!
::SNIFF:: My little babies are growning up.
We went and did another parking shop at the same city mall, as well as the retail store I mentioned above. It was silly, because that store has a similar name to a much more well-known, popular brand (see photo above for hint), and I had to ask in the no-name shop if they were the big-name one. Kind of embarrassing, but I love to embarrass myself, so I didn't care. I like to play games with these shops when they don't give me a specific scenario: I make up something ridiculous, just to gauge the reaction I'll get. This time, I went in there insisting that I had to have a yellow tank top; no other color would do, because I simply did not have enough yellow in my wardrobe. The guy who helped me cracked up; he couldn't help it. If you're crazy and you know it, clap your hands!
We headed back East then to Fort Lauderdale to do a really fun (or at least it was supposed to be) shop that the kids had been anticipating for about a week. I expected a much more professional, business-like outfit than the disorganized, badly-in-need-of-my-services one we encountered, however, which meant a long report was going to have to be written. I love doing the shops themselves; going home and doing the reports is another matter. I don't mind doing them, but I do, admittedly, seem to have a problem getting them done in a timely manner. I make sure to write kick-ass reports to make up for it, though!
We had time to kill, once again, between portions of this last shop for the night, and once again everyone was ravenous, so I checked in to our location on Foursquare to find recommended places to eat. We were in the Las Olas Shops section of Ft. Lauderdale by that point. All of the recommendations were too far to go in order to eat and be back to the place where we needed to return in an hour, so we looked around for inspiration. At first, I thought we'd go to the crépe restaurant - who doesn't love skinny pancakes?! - but then we spotted a cheese-and-whine bistro next door, and yeah, they had me at 'cheese.' I love cheese. Jack, who doesn't, was less than thrilled and refused to eat, so I promised him something else when we got back to Penelope.
If you're looking around for a place to eat in Las Olas, I recommend the Cheese Culture. The food was outstanding, and the ambiance was really cool. It's not a place for kids, and they don't have a menu for them either, but it sufficed. Especially since we ate outside on the otherwise-deserted patio, away from the rest of the grown-ups. People seem to get grouchy when their fancy date nights are disrupted by bickering little ones, for some reason... I want to go back sometime when we have a babysitter.
The girls shared an "Ultimate Grilled Cheese" sandwich, with gruyere and Emmenthaler cheese melted on a delicious ciabatta, and I had a bite. It was splendid! Rob and I each had a "Build-Your-Own" sandwich. I forget what he got, except for the greens on the side that were good but got left behind when I told him we had to dash off to get back to our shop location on time - bummer. I had turkey, fresh mozzarella, baby greens on a baguette with garlicky basil mayonaisse. I don't usually like mayo, but it sounded (and was) good. The food delivery had artistic flair to match the out-of-this-world flavor. The server was a little dingy but sweet, and she agreed we should return on a parents-only date night. I bought a bottle of wine from her, a sweet Moscato that we have yet to open, and she gave me a discount for which I didn't even ask. Nice place.
Kilwin's, a chocolate shoppe in Las Olas, was just a few store fronts down from Cheese Culture, so I stopped in to peruse the goods. I am first and foremost a chocolate fanatic and second a chocolate-coconut truffle fiend, so I'm forever on the hunt for the perfect one. I found it once, at a candy store on the Jersey Shore, but its match has been elusive ever since. They had huge coconut chocolates at Kilwin's; I bought a couple, and they were all right, but definitely not perfection. Alas, I'll keep looking.
I purchased some more truffles while I was there, though, about ten or twelve. Obstensibly for Robert, though I don't think he's had a single one yet. I bought him the raspberry ones, which he tends to love, along with some mocha, mint, and other delicious goodness I can no longer remember. These chocolates weren't cheap, being in the neighborhood of $23/lb and up, so imagine my chagrin when I woke up the next morning to find the cats had knocked them off the table and used them for hockey pucks!
We returned to our previous location to finish the half-begun assignment and go home. It was late by then, about 10:30 PM. Obviously, we weren't in NYC, but there's a hint for you. The return was more pleasant than the first leg, but they still blew it. Like I said, they need me. Desperately. I'll fix 'em, I will!
Apropos of nothing much, Rob told me recently that I should open my own mystery shopping company. I don't know. I doubt I'd do it, though it would be fun.
I had reports to write when we got home, but I was cold and exhausted. I decided to treat myself to some JAFRA Spa pampering, and it was just the right call to make. I was in smelly-good heaven, relaxed and soft of skin and hair. It felt amazing. I even tried to nap in the bathtub, but I didn't want to pull a Whitney, so it didn't take. Sorry, that was crude.
Ahhh... so refreshed! (That's unretouched Instagramography, there. Thanks, JAFRA!)
If you want to win some awesome JAFRA products, by the by, friend me on Facebook. I'm having a fun FB party online this week and yes, there will be prizes!
On Thursday morning, Rob unfortunately woke up with a pretty nasty cold, so it kinda sucked that we had about 10 hours of mystery shops to do in the Keys that day. And yeah, he is totally playing the part of military retiree these days. Hanging out in the Keys, fishin', growin'a beard... people are always like, WHAT. is THAT. on his FACE?! Haha. Although, one of my friends did say he's kinda smokin' with the beard, and of course I agree. I ♥ my little Fur Face...
The first shop in Key Largo was interesting. It was inside an exclusive, gated village, and the words "hoity-toity" come to mind. Now, I've been in exclusive, gated villages before (and I don't mean gated apartment complexes like the one we live in now), in places like Hilton Head and whatnot, but this was something else again. They had a whole town in there, with grocery and fishing and shoe and other stores, and it was definitely an Old Money community. I felt spectacularly out of place. The gate guard took my driver's license, called up the shop where I ad to evaluate the service, and asked them permission to let me enter. I wasn't expecting that. I'm not a gawker or anything, not too much, but I gawked, y'all.
I had to do a high-end fishing store shop. Rob is a fisherman. He knows what he's talking about. Me, I don't collect and kill animals as a general rule (no offense) (maybe a little), so I had no clue. I tried to inveigle him into coming into the store with me and running the show, but he wasn't down with it. So I had to go in there and wing it. I played up my scenario thusly: I'm getting gifts for my fisherman husband and I don't know what I'm doing, so please help me out. It worked. I bought him four clouser saltwater fishing flies - though he doesn't have a saltwater rig yet - and he was happy with them. Win.
I had to drive south to Marathon after that and evaluate the company there that, uh, well, see the picture above? I can't exactly spell it out for you, because that would give it away. Anyway, the guy I talked to there was amazing. He completely blew me away with his keen interest in environmental initiatives. Y'all know I'm a raging environmentalist, so we really hit it off. I'll probably go back and talk to him some more on my own and have him give my kiddos a tour of the facility someday, too. This guy was GREEN, folks. True green. I loved it. Also, he gave me a way cool "welcome to the neighborhood" gift of 4-5 reusable canvas bags, an electronics charger that shuts down after the device is fully charged to stop vampire electricty suckage, a nifty keychain, lots of information printouts, and more. Color me impressed.
It had been storming like the dickens in the Keys between the first two assignments, and there came a point where Sophia and I really had to pee. Water rushing down the windows didn't help that situation much, you know? So Rob drove us right up to the door of a Hom Depot, and in the ½-second it took us to get out of Penelope and into the Depot, we were completely drenched. Which meant we were freezing when we returned to the air-conditioned van after emptying our respective bladders. That's probably what helped along my cold, from which I'm now suffering. Anyway, it was quite the tropical storm. When we got to Key West a couple of hours later, the roads were all rivers. Lakes. I haven't seen that much rain since 1995, during Tropical Storm Gordon my freshman year at U-Miami.
We arrived in Key West much earlier than we needed to be there, so we drove around a while and returned to the souvie shop where I'd bought my red wrap dress/skirt/thingy the week before. I think I showed it to you? If not, here it is:
It's amazing versatile and, I think, pretty flattering, depending on how I tie it. For twenty bucks, I can get several styles of dresses, skirts, and tunics out of it, so I wanted to get a yellow and a teal one, too. That I did. I accidentally bought the floor-length ones, though, which is okay but not ideal. I'll just have to tie them the other ways that don't work with the red one, right?
After that, Rob wanted to go fishing. He knew we'd end up down there way earlier than my assignment required, so he'd brought down a few poles, a cooler, and a bucket to prepare. We drove around on a wild goose chase for a while, trying to find a decent place to fish, before someone in a Circle K just told us to go the marina. You're not supposed to fish there, but he said they were cool about it, since it was the end of the charters' day. Worse thing that could happen was they'd tell us to leave, so we went.
The fish weren't biting for him, though. I think he was disappointed. I was, I know that much. I may not like to catch 'em and clean 'em - although back in my Mote Marine Lab days, I was pretty good at filleting the snook for the grouper and snapper - but I don't mind cooking and eating them these days. I'm trying to quit... but not that hard! ;)
After an hour or so, he packed it up, and we went off in search of dinner and gas for Penelope. We didn't want to eat out anywhere, needing to save our cash, so we ended up at the Publix nearest my next assignment. Rob and the kids stayed in the car while I shopped for sandwich fixin's on the cheap. Bologna and American cheese it was; I splurged on good rolls. I got back in the car and told the kids, "Here are your choices: You can have boloney and cheese, or you can not eat. That's it." Guess what? They ate.
Finally, it was time to head over to one of the movie theaters on the island for my last assignment. Sophia was my date, having won the title of "Best Behaved Child" (can you believe it?!) after our trip to Orlando earlier in the week. We had planned to see The Croods for her sake, but it was 3D, and no upgraded movies were allowed for the job, so we went to see Iron Man 3 instead. It was the only one left that was semi-appropriate for an 8-year-old. I wasn't terribly excited, not having seen IM or IM2, but I was happy to have my fun baby as a companion. She did not disappoint.
The movie turned out to be really entertaining. It held my interest from start to finish, and hello?! I knew this already, but the movie reaffirmed it: Robert Downey Jr. is farking HOT. Oh, my word. I may have drooled. Cute butt, too. I think wardrobe did a really good job with him (as did his parents' genes). Honestly, though, I didn't expect to NOT be bored throughout the movie, and there wasn't one single second of that. I don't normally go for superhero movies - not since Christopher Reeve as Superman, anyway - but this was extremely well-written and -acted. In a nutshell, I liked it. Go see it. I'd even watch it again. And not just for RDJ. Much.
We got home from Key West at something like four in the morning on Friday, and I had all those reports to do. But I didn't. I tried, man. I tried. I was beyond exhausted by that point, though, and went to lie down "for a little bit." You guys, I didn't even get up until 9 PM on Friday to pee or anything! Crazy. So I missed a bunch of shops that I've since rescheduled, all my reports were late (ahem, but what else is new?), and I had a killer migraine. I needed that sleep, though, so it's all good, I guess.
And now? I have more shops to do. See ya!
...or, How We Spent Our Tax Refund!
...or, Man, We Should Be One of Those Couples Who Has To Spend a Million-Dollar Inheritance in 24-Hours Flat!
You feel me? But let's move on from these 77 alternate titles and get to the meat of this post.
If you hadn't realized, our federal tax refund hit our bank account yesterday. Here's how we've spent it on the kids and household goods in the day since then:
1. First stop, our local post office. We had to mail five or six packages, including the Progressive Snapshot device I'd never plugged into our Odyssey, Penelope, some video surveillance equipment for a mystery shop I'd (never) done, and the keys to our Virginia Beach house to our realtor back in that town. Plus, I had to buy a roll of stamps. Yes, some of us do still send snail mail. And also, we had to bring our lease in so that we could FINALLY get the keys to our mailbox. It's been 3 weeks, and we still have almost NO mail, save for the little bit that trickles down into our PO Box. Speaking of which, the kids and I went to check it while Rob finished up with the lease business, and there were two cards in it from Aunt Stacey (my sister). She sent cards and money for the two birthday babies, Jack and Sophia, having decided together with me that money was the way to go for our kids' respective birthdays from now on.
2. Next stop, Walmart. We spent a buttload of money on household necessities (and a few un-necessities, but not many) there. And Jack spent his new birthday money on this remote-controlled boat he'd been eyeing for a while.
Sophia spent her birthday money on this horse, which goes with her doll that she'd bought with birthday money from others earlier in the month. Granted, it's not tax money, but it happened yesterday, so I have to tell ya.
Also, Chloë and...
... Sophia both got new pairs of skates, which was and wasn't a splurge. It wasn't an absolute need, no, but they did need to get more and more varied exercise, and I needed a skating partner! Rob wanted to buy me a bike, too, but I figure I'll keep an eye on Freecycle for that. (Side note: Sophia fell on her butt a million times but is already zooming skillfully around the block. Chloë is still falling, but she'll get there, I'm sure. Soon as she lets go of all the tree branches, that is.)
Other spending at Wally-World included food (absolutely necessary, right?), an iron (Rob had left ours back at the Va Beach house, oops), toilet bowl brushes (because, eww, he forgot those back there, too), a plunger (same story), towels and accessories to match the new shower curtains and mats in both our and the kids' bathrooms (splurge-y), a garbage can (forgot it, too), aaaand new bedding for all three kids (Sophia ruined all the old ones. She does that).
Next up, back at home, I went online to the Florida DMV website because we both need new state licenses, and then we'll need to register Penelope and the motorcycle, and then we'll need to get new insurance policies. (And I still freakin' need to fix the gigantical crack down the middle of my windshield, but that'll keep a li'l longer, won't it? It's been a month and a half already, after all...) But the next appointment - you make 'em online, here - for the DMV isn't until May 6th, so I looked at the docs we'll need for the new licenses. Crap, I need a new Social Security card. So do the kids; ours got stolen, which is not awesome. Lots of other stuff did, too; someone stole our "important papers" lockbox I kept under my desk. Ugh. Anyway. We'll go do that business tomorrow. Of course, they'll want my driver's license, among other things, to get the new card, so now I understand dogs and cats chasing their own tails!
We don't need cable TV - -haven't had it for years- - but we do need internet service. This is 2013, after all, and we have numerous electronic devices needing wi-fi. Not to mention the fact that our iPhones get crap for signals in the house on the LTE network, or 3G or 4G for the matter, and we don't have a landline. So, we put in about a half-dozen phone calls to Comcast to sign up for supah-fast (and cheap, compared to what we were paying for Cox in VA) cable internet service. We'd have done it sooner, but, ah, that's neither here nor there. It's done now, and they're coming Sunday, and I can't wait, and yeah.
Next stop, JAFRA, to place an order. I have gotten several from clients that needed fulfilling, plus I plan to start kicking that into high gear, so I needed a few things myself for said purpose. Yeah. I love JAFRA packages. They smell so damn good and always bring promises of buttery soft skin. Mmm, me likey.
Speaking of our iPhones, I've been boosting off my 5's Personal Hotspot to get online and do all the important stuff like tell you on this blahg about that important stuff, and so I had to go on the AT&T website to pay our big, fat bill. That was that. Can't wait to whittle that back down after the Comcast guy comes with our new, um, nothing?
Speaking of paying the bills, I hopped over to our bank website and put in an extra payment for Penelope, and...
...Elsie, Rob's BMW motorsickle.
(Yes, I spelled it that way on porpoise. C'mon, now.)
And then, the really exciting stuff started. Well, wait, first dinner. The kids must eat. The husband must eat. I... must nibble. I gained about 10 lbs during our move and realized it even before I got my scale back a week ago to confirm it, so I've been eating very carefully and am already down 4 lbs since then. I was hoping to take it off by my birthday in September, so yay. But what? am I talking about??
For dinner, after Rob and the kids cleared off the table and cleaned up the kitchen enough for me to cook in it properly, we laid down the new bamboo runner we'd gotten on clearance from Walmart (a minute splurge, yes, but it went with my Fiestaware, and hey, bamboo!) and used the also-clearanced new cloth napkins (hey, reducing paper waste is a good thing). Since we were going fancyish, I decided to make the kids promise promise promise they wouldn't break the wedding crystal we'd gotten from Dr. Lisa and Uncle Faris, and they did pinky-promise, which is as good as gold 'round here. And guess what? The only person who came even close to breaking one was ME. Yup, I'm still the same ol' klutz I always was, rest assured. PS, the candles were Sophie's idear. We are SO decadent. ;P
I'd gotten this Ninja Chopper from my friend, Yet Another Stephanie, back in VA, but I hadn't put it to good use yet. We had avocados, we had guac mix, and we had tortilla chips, so it was time. And guess what? After a few pulses, we had delicious-ish guacamole. It wasn't the best I've ever had, but compared to the improvised batch I made after Rob and - yes! - the kids quickly polished off this one, it wasn't bad at all. Heh. (Mine wasn't either, but it lacked salt. And lymes. And cilantro. And had too much onion. And tomato. And not enough avocado. Damn, it must've sucked worse than I first rememberated.)
This picture is way washed-out compared to the actual scene, but then I whipped up a pork steak dinner from a recipe I'd gotten on the back of a can of Campbell's chicken broth. There was pasta instead of rice, because that's what I had, and I needed to squeeze fresh juice from oranges rather than use bottled juice, because that's what I had and hello, yummier, but other than that, it was pretty much according to the recipe. Kinda. Anyways. Rob says it was good enough to make again, which is high praise coming from him, but all three kids had upturned noses, the punks. I don't see them doing the whole presentation-is-everything thing on me with hummus and pita, or anything, so humph!
However, Jack and Chloë did enjoy the orange slices in the dinner so well that they requested more for dessert. Um, okay, twist my arm a little bit, why don'tcha.
And NOW for the rilly, rilly exciting part!!!
(You'd better be sitting down now.)
(I mean it.)
(Because this is heady, heady stuff, coming up here in a second.)
Are you ready?
You asked for it.
I bought stuff for homeschooling!!!!!! Yeah, school, baby! I can't WAIT to delve back in and get the kids back on track and have tons and tons and TONS of fun in the process. I love teaching them!!
Here's what I bought over at the Homeschool Buyers' Co-op:
All FIVE levels of Latin American Spanish from Rosetta Stone!!! Whoop!! For cheap! I have been wanting RS for aaaaaaaages, ever since I did a mystery shop at one of their kiosks (oops, I'm not supposed to tell you that) and saw how well it works. Chloë started angling for German, and I would have been thrilled with Latin, but we all settled on the LAS after thinking about what would be the most useful in our lives right now. I can not WAIT to get my teeny-weeny little hands on this baby. Sirrusly.
I usually piece our Science and Social Studies curricula together myself, but this year (starting now), I'm going to get a little help from the award-winning Adaptive Curriculum. I cannot wait to see how that works for us, especially in Social. Science, I've got down, but our Soshe has been a little, well, piecemeal, so I'd like to get it more organized in their brains, y'know?
For teaching Grammar rules more concretely, I got us a lifetime passport to Grammaropolis, which looks very promising. Sounds like fun, too!
For writing and all that goes with that business, I bought us a year's subscription (which is really enough information, with what I got, to last us through the end of high school if I choose) to Brave Writer, a highly rated program about which I've heard nothing but good stuff. Eeeeeek!
And now for the reeeeeealllllly exciting part!!!!
Can you stand it? I can't!!
Because we want the kids to be technologically savvy, and because so much of their work is computer- and internet-based, I have been wanting to get them each their own laptop or tablet for a while. I've been researching and thinking and debating about it; we've had ONE laptop for the kids up 'til now, and it just doesn't work that well when all three kids need to be online to do assignments. With three, I wouldn't need to constantly rotate them out and cut them short on projects - they could all work simultaneously! So after tons more research, I bought them each a Kindle Fire HD 7" tablet on Amazon.com! Wooohoooo, the
y are going to be so stoked, man!
Of course, to protect their shiny new electronical toys, I got them each a case in a different color. Jack's is green, because, well, it's his favorite, and I couldn't find a boyish pattern to suit him.
I think this one will be Chloë's.
Sophia will like this one.
I don't know how much they'll need or use them, but it remains to be seen, so I got them this pack of 6 styli for their Kindle Fire HDs, and also one - yes, just one - wall charger to share. I figure that much we can do on a rotational basis, right?
But I'm still not done outfitting the kids for the coming year. Nope, nope, nope. I did s'more shopping on ye olde Amazon first:
Sophia needs a new queen-sized mattress for the bunk bed she'll now be sharing with Chloë, because we had to leave her old one behind in Portsmouth (doesn't really matter; it was gross). I got her this memory-foam one, which has really good ratings. Remind me to air it out for two days first...
Oh, and for us, I got a new bed frame since Rob left our old one behind at the Virginia Beach house, which sucks because they aren't as cheap as I thought they were. Booger.
For Jack, I picked up a Yamaha keyboard stand (and a new wall charger, since he lost his). Even though he's decided not to pursue lessons for now, the music store folks convinced us to hang onto the keyboard in case one of the kids picks it up. And I can play, albeit slowly and gingerly, so we can all bang around on it for our music lessons in Sweet Pea Academy. It's cheap but comes highly-rated, so I think this one'll do us just faaaahhhhhn.
And finally (as you all breathe a sigh of relief, I know), the kids have been doing some growing since last I shopped for summer clothing for them. Especially Sophia; she's now, like, a foot taller than Jack! No lie. She needed a new bathing suit and picked this one out at Sears.
They all needed shorts and tees, so I bought bunches upon bunches of those for each kiddo, too, along with one dressy outfit for each kid. Inexplicably, after making a painstaking order there, Sears canceled several of my items and let the rest go through. Buh-wha-huh? I have to call them. I want those things, dammit! They need 'em! But it'll keep 'til 0900. Which, oh, is four minutes from now. Serendipity, baby!
Oh, shit, I totally forgot one more big splurge! Well, not like, a boat big, but Shamu big. *Ahem*
Yep. We're going to Orlando on Monday and Tuesday! Rob still has a little bit more time (a month, maybe) on Active Duty, so that means he and three dependents still get in for fah-reeeee at Anheuser-Busch parks through their ongoing Here's to the Heroes Salute program. That leaves one kid out, so I bought another ticket, along with our parking pass, dine-all-day passes for Rob and the kids (I'll nibble and graze meagerly), and a stroller rental voucher. I can't wait, and the kids are ecstatic! (The stroller is mostly for Jack, who still has trouble walking sometimes, especially for long periods of time, thanks to his tight Achilles tendons, and also to keep the kid out of the sun here and there, and also in case we want it to carry things around the park without holding them.) Can't wait to see the shows, can't wait to see Shamu, can't wait to see my babies' faces when they get to feed a fish or two to the dolphins. Wheeee! That'll be Monday.
I think we'll do this on Tuesday, but we might not. I don't know yet. We'll see. Maybe we'll just come home Tuesday, or we might hang out with my online friend, Gloria, whom I've not yet met, or maybe we'll... hm. I don't know! Suggestions?
NOW I'm finished.
I have some mystery shops to go do today, along with my doctor's appointment for this thing growing on my chin, soooo.... whew! This post took forEVER to write.
P.S. I'm such a liar. That's not all. HAHAHA. The cats got new beds and litter to poop in - LOTS of litter.
Posted at 09:22 in Bienvenidos a Miami, Books, Cooking and Baking, Current Affairs, Exercise, family, Food and Drink, Freebies & Deals, Homeschooling, Jafra, Motorcycle, Music, mystery shopping, Navy, Our Odyssey, Pets, Science, Taxes, There's a Rumor it's a Tumor, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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!
Posted at 06:07 in Bienvenidos a Miami, Come Sail Away, Cooking and Baking, Current Affairs, Environment, family, Food and Drink, Fun Times, Games, iLove iPhone, Memes and Carnivals, Navy, Photographs, Science, There's a Rumor it's a Tumor, Wordless Wednesday | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Intro to Nerd Humor
Funny Venn Diagram
Funny Punnett Square
Funny Evolution Shizzy
Funny Fugue Shizzy
Funny Genetics Shizzy
Um. Awesome clock I totally NEEDZ to make myself!!
Funny Ecology. Hee.
Funny Grammar Shizzy
Not-so-funny-but-true Marine Biology "Humor"
Funny Sheldon Cooper shizzy
Jes' like I skipped out on Saturday 9 last weekend, I did the same with Sunday Stealing, so likewise I'm fixin' ta do both week together in this-here post and uh muh guh I've been reading too much Tom Sawyer to the kiddos at night...!
1. What is your biggest pet peeve?
At the moment, it's Typepad. I had a long answer written out, but it randomly deleted itself. I'm not going to repeat it, because, as I once told my deaf sister and husband, "I don't repeat myself for you." Ha, I'm SUCH a B!TCH!
2. Where and when were you born?
Picture it: Sicily, 1926. Oh, wait, that's The Golden Girls. RIP, Estelle Getty. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. I don't mind sharing that my DOB is 9/8/76 which, IMHO, seems like it should be awfully easy to remember. "Should" being the operative word. I was born just outside of The Big Apple.
3. Where did your parents meet?
They met online before there was online: through a dating something-or-other, like a service or something. Yeah, that's it, a dating service. IN The Big Apple, from whence they both came.
4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like in four words?
I have a half-sister whom I've never met, a full sister, Stacey, who merits the occasional mention here on Ye Olde Blahg, and formerly two step-sisters with whom I no longer speak. In four words: Stacey wins by default. Hee!
5. Where do you live now, and with whom?
I live in what's known here as "America's First Region," a term which always up-cracks me, formerly known as Tidewater but now known as Hampton Roads. Futurely known as "The Place Smellyann Once Graced." Heh. I live with an almost-retired Navy sailor, aka Rob, aka Hubs, and ¾ of the children we produced together. Oh, and of late, SIX DAMN FELINES, now that I've gone and rescued these two cuties from the middle of the road in the middle of the night at the middle of ... yeah, I'm out of middles. ::Looks down:: Wait, no, I've plenty of middles...
The new babehs' first bath! Awww. (No, they didn't like it, but they both pooed all over themselves, ewww.)
6. What is your occupation?
I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mother of the afore-mentioned kids, one of whom just officially started middle school and has the attitude to match! Oy to the vey.
7. Write a full description of yourself.
I have. It's called this damn blahg. Read more of it and you won't need me to answer this question, dangit.
8. To which social class do you belong?
Go f*ck yourself. That one. Heh. I'm klassy, see? See?
9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?
I don't know why, but this question made me laugh out loud. Okay, so, you really want to know? All righty, then, let's have at it:
Allergies: I answered that yesterday. Scroll.
***GAK! TYPEPAD ATE THE REST OF THIS ANSWER, WHICH WAS HIGHLY AMUSING AND WHICH I'VE HAD TOO MUCH MIKE'S HARD LEMONADE AT THIS POINT TO REITERATE. LET'S JUST SAY THE LIST WAS LONGER THAN YOUR (OR ANY OF YOUR MATES' EVER) WEINER. HEHEHE.***
10. Are you right- or left-handed?
11. What does your voice sound like?
It's high-pitched, like, shrill and stuff. When I Viggle, erm, nothing, just to rack up points, and I talk through the Viggling process, three times now it's come up with Jersey Shore as the show I'm watching. No, I'm not bragging. Heh.
12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?
They all have four letters.
13. What do you have in your pockets?
Nothing, unless you count my hands, checking, a coupla seconds ago.
14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?
Quirks: I tried asking my husband to list them, because I know I have a lot, but he's a freaking dumbass who can't wrap his feeble mind around the concept of limiting it to the called-for length of this post. Does that help?
Strange mannerisms: "What's the difference between a Strange Mannerism and a Quirk?" asks Hubs. I have to agree.
Annoying Habits: "You HAVE to be right, at all costs." - Hubs
"That's not true, we're still married. And I am always right." - Me
Other Defining Characteristics: "Cute as hell, smart as shit, and funny as all get-out." - Hubs. Again, I have to agree. (See, I'm funny.)
Sunday Stealing: Who Are you? Part 2–The Growing Up Meme
15. How would you describe your childhood in general?
It sucked ROYALLY after my mom died when I was seven. Before that, it was pretty blissful. She was an angel. I have her on The Pedestal of Maternal Perfection. After that, I buried myself in school to get away from my craptastic family.
16. What is your earliest memory?
I'm three years old, happy as can be, running and laughing with my arms up in the air all the way down the hall to my mommy. I don't remember why.
17. How much schooling have you had?
I have a New York Regent's diploma from high school. I have a B.S. with a double major in Marine Science (our honor society, no lie, was Rho Rho Rho, which I absolutely loved!) and Biology (Beta Beta Beta), and a minor in Chemistry, from the University of Miami. Graduated with Honors and in the Golden Key Society.
I did an internship in Fisheries Biology at Mote Marine Lab before working for a year and a half on my Ph.D. in Biology studying the functional and ecological morphology (aka "Ecomorphology" (a wiki link, which is of great humour to me!) of elasmobranch fishes (aka sharks, skates & rays) with the premier scientist in the field, before realizing I wanted a life more than the constant publish-or-perish and writing for grant money stress, so I left, to many peoples' shock and chagrin. Plus, I felt inadequate, so it was then that I joined Mensa to re-establish myself - to myself - as an intellectual, empirically academic individual, and yes, sadly, I needed to pull out that card and look at it almost every day.
I worked on the (sickeningly - to me - less rigorous) Master's in Science Ed. program at the same school for a semester after leaving my prestigious doctoral program, but I lost my scholarship in doing so, so I needed to take some time off to earn money to return. It was during that time that I met Rob. We eloped two months after meeting and got pregnant on our wedding night, so I've never gone back. I plan to go to law school and practice Family Law until I get a judgeship in that field, once the kids are grown.
Whew! Oh, and I'm CPR-certified. Hee.
18. Did you enjoy school?
Did you read the above? Yes, it would be quite untrue to say anything less than that I adored it. I'd be the Perpetual Student if I could afford to be.
19. Stop and count, since you were born until today; how many homes have you
Nineteen, not counting moving in and out of the same places multiple times. The number would skyrocket exponentially if I did that.
20. While growing up, did you have any role models?
My three or four best friends' seemingly normal, unconditionally-loving parents, and my grandparents filled that position.
21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?
Heh. I may be in therapy forever thanks to my upbringing. It's a wonder I'm "only" bipolar and not schizophrenic, or have Multiple Personality Disorder, or something... although I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. :/
22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Forever, I'd wanted to be a marine biologist. And for a while, I can say I was...
23. What were your favorite activities 3 years ago?
Let's see. Probably: Hanging out with my family, wasting time online, and, okay, rapidly losing massive poundage, since I'd just had my surgery!
24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?
I was and remain painfully shy around those I didn't/don't know well. I'm horrible at small talk; I think it's the dumbest thing ever, sorry. I was and remain freaking hysterical around my kindred spirits. ;) I was probably bipolar from my tween or early teen years on, although it's only been six years since I was finally diagnosed. I was and remain impulsively suicidal when the slightest things go wrong, though a good cocktail of meds now help to control those impulses. As a very young child, until Mom died, I was joyous, sweet, kind, loving, and an all-around great kid. I'm in therapy to return to being that person, whom I believe I was born to be.
25. As a child, were you popular?
The smartest and funniest people in the room gravitated toward me. Especially when I was by myself.
26. When and with whom was your first kiss?
Kenny, when I was 14, at Tri-County Mall in B'ville, NY. It. Was. Awesome.
27. Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.
I talk to my therapist about that. You don't have the time. TRUST ME ON THIS! You've already had an eyeful here, anyway. ;)
28. What’s next?
Next, Hubs retires, and we skip town the beginning of March, to wend our way westward to San Diego. He'll begin nursing school, and we'll all begin exploring our newfound surroundings. I simply cannot wait!!!!
Well, that was quite sobering for me. Reflective. Memory-lane tripping. I'm off to get a Diet Coke refill and a hug from Hubs, if I can wake his narcolepic arse...
See y'all next week!
Link up here if you're playing along - I'm doing Parts I and II together since I missed last week. Enjoy!
Sunday Stealing: The Imaginary Meme, Part One
1. Have you ever peed your pants as an adult?
I've had four kids, including a set of twins, via c-section. You don't put that much pressure on your guts without a little weewee squeaking out now and then.
2. Who do you have a celebrity crush on now?
I've gotta agree with Jennifer Love Hewitt and go with Adam Levine from Maroon 5.
Link up here if you're playing along today! Happy Easter/Passover to all who celebrate!
Sunday Stealing: The OC 25 Meme
1. What is your origin of your first name? What about any nicknames?
My mom just randomly came up with it. I was supposed to be "Eleanor" after my dad's mom, or "Clayton" if I was a boy, but when my dad wasn't in the room, my mom quickly put down "Melanie" instead. Hee! I've come to appreciate that, although my elementary school BFF was Eleanor, so of course I had wanted that to be my name then. My middle name is Ann, so my dad always called me "Mellie Ann," which my wonderful older sister changed to "Smellyann" at some point. And there you have it.
2. Have you any claims to fame?
Apparently, I'm meant to be a writer. In college, I came in second (or third?) in a huge poetry contest - you've probably seen the ads for it - and my published poem was analyzed in the front of the anthology in which it appeared. I was supposed to have my boys' and my story published in the Chicken Soup for the Twins Soul book, but apparently they decided it was too sad and took it out later on, which is fine with me. And more recently, my "Works for Me Wednesday" pets edition blahg post was published in a book called That Works For Me! or something like that; I had to give the proper permissions and all that. I've always been a pretty decent writer and thought I've had more poetry and maybe a novel rattling around in there, but I haven't been able to get started. We'll see if that ever comes to fruition.
3. If you were famous, how would you introduce yourself to someone who had never heard of you?
The same way I do now, I suppose: I'd have the head of my huge entourage do it. Heh.
4. Which of your country's achievements do you hold in highest regard?
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation couldn't have come soon enough; I think it just edges out winning the American Revolution. JMHO
5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First, I wanted to be a teacher and librarian. As I grew up, though, I wanted to be a marine biologist. And until I got married, I was one. For a brief time, I was livin' the dream I grew up having. Now, I'm happier things worked out this way. I wouldn't change a thing, except for maybe a fatter wallet..
6. What was your most prized possession as a child? Do you still have it?
It was my red-and-white stuffed puppy dog named Snowflake, who eventually was missing an ear. The other ear had holly leaves and berries on it. I loved that puppy. I don't know what happened to her.
7. What would you change about yourself, if you could?
Pfft. What wouldn't I? That would be a shorter list. I would take away the Bi-Polar Disorder from which I suffer (as do those around me, I'm afraid), and I would give myself more strength of character. People who know the sorts of things I've been through always tell me what a strong person I am, but I don't feel that way. I feel like a weak, meek little mouse. My therapist tells me I am progressing though - she told me recently that I was "individuating," since I am no longer seeking my father's approval. I laughed and said it was high-time at 35, but she says she sees people much older than I am who haven't gotten that far and wow! I am babbling! Anyway, physically, I'd get my plastics to remove the skin I have hanging around (literally) after my 200+-lb weight loss.
8. What are you obsessed with?
Yarn. Picking at myself. My husband's nuts. Jafra. Couponing. And more yarn.
9. What is your greatest achievement so far, or the high point of your career?
Oh, I've received my fair share of academic accolades, but my proudest achievement was winning "Class Giggler" in 3rd grade. I still have the certificate!
10. When/where were you happiest?
January 2, 2001: The day we eloped was the most blissful day in my life. I'll never, ever forget that high.
11. And the lowest point in your life thus far?
March 25, 2003: The day I held my older twin son as he shuddered taking his last breath. Nothing is worse than outliving your child.
12. What was the best decision you ever made?
Marrying Rob! He is so good for, and to, me. We both have our share of shortcomings, but I definitely ended up with the better end of the deal. God knew what he was doing when he brought me this man.
13. If you have any body modifications, which was most painful, or which do you regret the most? If you haven't got any, do you have any planned, or would you ever consider getting any?
Other than four piercings in each ear, I have a nose ring. So that was the most painful. I haven't fully decided on getting a tattoo, but if I do, it'll be a joint one with Rob, honoring our four children together.
14. What is the most idiotic thing you have ever done while intoxicated?
We don't have to go there, do we? Let's not. Maybe the next time I get that intoxicated, which will be never, I'll share that story with y'all. ;) Let's just say I'll probably never drink Goldschläger again!
15. What is your favorite joke?
I am so terrible at remembering things like jokes and movie quotes. Asking me to tell a joke is putting me on the spot. I like stupid jokes anyway, like this one:
Little old lady.
Little old lady who?
I didn't know you could yodel!
16. What is the coolest/most impressive thing you own?
You mean aside from my iPhone? (You know I love that dang thing.) Okay, let me think on it a minute... probably the Britto. We bought a limited edition giclée of his called Deep Night Romance on our Mediterranean cruise, and it sums up our love for each other beautifully.
17. When did you last cry, and why?
I cried a little bit last night, thinking about this coming Monday. It'll be the 28th anniversary of my mom's death, and I always get a little weepy.
18. What's the best piece of advice you've ever had?
Surprisingly, it came from my dad. I'll paraphrase: "Don't let anyone rob you of your joy."
19. Similarly, what's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you?
A semi-anonymous benefactor helped me pay for my college degree, the day I was going to get kicked out for non-payment of my classes. Biggest relief of my life!
20. Have you any vices?
I'm too self-indulgent.
21. Do you regret anything?
No regrets. I live for today, and tomorrow. There are things I wish I'd done differently, but I didn't, and I have learned and grown from them.
22. What is the best invention ever?
Hello?! The iPhone! lol
23. How would you describe your relationship with your family?
I have a very small living family. My mom is gone, my dad and I aren't speaking at the moment, and my sister and I are as close as we can possibly be from a distance. I love that broad! ♥
24. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Anyone with deep emotional fortitude, who can come through a tragedy and not completely fall to pieces. Well, falling to pieces isn't the thing, but someone who can pick up those pieces and make life work again - that's inspiring to me.
25. What are you going to do when you've finished Sunday Stealing?
Work on my April/May Jafra newsletter, a week later than I'd planned. Oops.
So with the help of my MIL and her brother, along with lots of bonus points from doing community service with the Scouts (both Cub and Girl), we turned in enough Labels For Education to get the following goodies:
(Photo from LFE site) A world map, which hasn't come yet, or I'd have a better picture to show you,
a dozen bottles of tempera paint for our artistic pursuits, and,
our new 5-gal fish aquarium! The kids are decidedly most excited about this new swag.
We ran as soon as possible over to Petco to get some gravel, silk plants, food, and dechlorinator to set up our tank, as well as figure out which fish we were probably going to get after the tank had time to set up for a few days. I put it together, and the kids were beside themselves the whole time. Jack kept saying, "I'm going to cry happy!" He said it again today when we went to go get our fish.
This is Steve, who helped us both today with our new fish and the other day when we picked out what we'd need to get the tank ready, pulling out Chloë's Starfire Red Glofish and Sophia's Galatic Purple Glofish (both are Danio rerio).
The girls with their new fishies!
Does Jack look like a little white monkey when he's super-excited, or what?!
We also picked out an algae-eater (Hypostomus plecostomus) for the tank, although eventually it'll get too big for our tank. That's okay; we planned on upsizing eventually anyhow. Sophia got to carry it on her lap on the ride home.
This is Hallie, the very friendly Scottish Terrier we met at Petco today. I always wanted to get a Scottie and name him Hamlet. Hallie was all over me; cute pooch!
I went against common knowledge, sense and practice and unceremoniously dumped our four new fishes into the tank, instead of taking the proper time to acclimate them to their new environs. Sue me. They seem fine.
I stopped at Jenny From the Block's house after Petco to bring her a few things, and we collectively decided that, since she's the tank "maid," we'll name the plecostomus Alice. Get it? C'mon, please tell me you get it. We briefly considered "Hazel" as well but quickly decided that was too old school for Alice. Hey, Alice? You lookin' at me?
And finally, we have Jack's Tetra, originally named "Little Frankie" but renamed "Speedy" since "he moves so fast" on the far right; Chloë's hot pink Glofish named "Moon" on the bottom left, and Sophie's "Starlight Starbright" above Moon. They all seem happy with their new home.
The kids are totally thrilled. I mean, it's been a couple hours, and they're still in their staring at the tank. Jack exclaimed, "This is even better than going to the Aquarium, because now we have our own aquarium!" Ha! I'm so happy they're delighted. So. Happy.
P.S. Thanks, Mamacita and Unc!
Link up here if you're playing along with Crazy Sam and the gang today!
Day Two of our trip to Washington. We woke up - well, I should say, Chloë woke up, packed up as much as she could, and then woke me up to shower and finish getting our stuff together, because she's just that grown now - and checked out of the hotel. We left our American Girl stuff and suitcase at their baggage check so we wouldn't have to lug it all over D.C. and headed two doors down to Burger King to fill my girl's little belly. She was impressed by the three-story BK, this "car" table, and other little interesting things about the place, so she lingered while I put my head down and practically fell asleep there. I was so tired!
We only had a few stops down on the red line to get to our destination: the National Zoo, where we'd been once before when Sophia was about halfway grown in my belly, so she had no recollection of the trip. This was on the very long escalator, which she didn't like very much. She didn't fuss as much as Jack would have, though - they freak him OUT!
As soon as we neared the top, the melodic notes from this wooden flautist filled the air. He was using some kind of recorded background music as well, and the combination was delightful. I like a good busker, so we stayed a minute for a listen.
Chloë enjoyed the music, too, so I let her put a dollar in the tips box. Little things like that thrill her.
She thought these flowers were beautiful and asked to have her photo taken in front of them. The poor dear is forever asking what kind of flower this or that is, and unless it's an extremely well-known thing like a rose or a daffodil or what-not, I'm afraid I don't have the foggiest clue.
When she commented, "Hey, I've never seen a mailbox like that before," I made her stand by it so I'd remember to tell you exactly that bit. Seriously? I guess they aren't a common sight 'round here.
We spotted a 7-Eleven on our walk to the Zoo, and so of course I had to go in for a pick-me-up Diet Coke. I had to get a new cup, because my li'l girl had left my giant X-Treme Gulp cup (I call it my quarter-keg) on the train the day before. I let her get a Slurpee as a treat. The kids are always asking for Slurpees, and I'm always saying "no." But we were on a bit of a treat weekend, so what the hey?
I asked the cashier how close to the zoo we were by that point, and he pointed out the window, across the street. "It's right there," he said, with slight exasperation. "Oh," I replied sheepishly. "So it is." So we crossed the street, where I couldn't get a suddenly very shy Curls to ask the nice police officer - who desperately wanted to talk to her - whether our drinks were allowed in the Zoo. I finally asked the question while she peeked out from behind me bashfully, and found they were all right, so in we went.
If you've been to the Smithsonian Zoo there, in DC, then you know there are all kinds of educational looky-loo things like this one for kids and adults alike. Chloë stopped and peered into each one she could find, soaking up facts about the animals we were about to see and dropping knowledge on me during the actual viewing.
They were pretty cool, like giant View-Masters®. I enjoyed a few myself.
The Clouded Leopard was napping far away in a perch, so it was hard for me to get a good picture of him. Chloë kept telling me little factoids from the View-Master® about them.
You can see me taking the picture better than you can the two Fishing Cats napping just behind the glass, but there they were. One opened his eyes in his upside-down head and blinked sleepily at us, reminding us both of our own fat cat, Tinkerbell.
Chloë stopped to look at all the hands-on and interactive educational posts in the park that we passed, and I liked that about her. She didn't want to just go in and be a casual observer. She was an active participant, and I, well, I was observing her.
We didn't actually get to spot any of the Asian Small-Clawed Otters in the tank, but she's still talking about how soft the fur was in this touchy-feely doohickey. And when you pulled on the tab on the same otter, it made the noise. She's still mimicking that, too.
There was no shortage of bumblebees in the flowers we passed that day in the park.
Soon, we were on a bridge overlooking the Asian elephants, and the one on the right was putting on a show. She kept scooping up dirt with her agile trunk and tossing it onto her back, presumably to keep cool or keep the flies off or something, and then she would pull out hunks of grass and feed them into her gaping maw. The second or third time she did that, her enormous tongue came licking out of her mouth, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to get a picture of that. It was impressively large! As were the coconut-sized piles of dung, as Chloë pointed out, giggling.
There were some wee birds flitting about right next to us, so Curls stopped to watch them for a few moments.
Off they went... out of sight.
Moving along, we came to the Red Panda exhibit. We stayed here a very long time. Chloë was enthralled with these two. This one spent the entire time napping in the perch, while his partner wandered around in the habitat, entertaining us.
Chloë "awwed" over him the whole time we were there, seemingly louder as he came closer to our position.
Chloë laughed uproariously when the red panda stopped to hump up and down, shaking its rear at us. I couldn't tell if it was going to the bathroom or what, because it didn't seem like much, if anything, was left behind there when it moved along, so I'm not sure what that was about!
Finally, the Ailurid climbed the branches with fantastic agility and perched its adorable head on its front paws and sat there for a time, watching us watching it. We stayed a few moments longer and then kept going, but the red panda had stolen Chloë's heart.
The little girl by my side requested that I take a picture of these flowers and ask you (Miss Erin? Grandma?) what they were. So, what are they?
I'm afraid this is the best view we got of Tian Tian, one of the Giant Pandas on display. This was way zoomed and cropped, too, as the habitat was huge and the panda stayed in a far corner with its back to us. For that reason, we didn't stay and observe for long.
You might remember we are avid Penny Press collectors, so we pressed 6 or 7 pennies during our visit to the Zoo, every chance we got. Chloë was glad to just be able to watch the automated machinery for once, instead of having to crank it herself. This is the panda penny.
Oh, look! There's Mei Xiang!
Just past the panda exhibit, there was an all-you-can-panda gift shop, so we stopped in and had a look around. We found this HEE-larious pooping panda keychain, which squeezed out more doo-doo when you squeezed the panda's belly.
At $4, we decided it wasn't in our price range, but that didn't stop us from squeezing-and-pooping for a good three or four minutes, laughing and laughing and making the shop clerks laugh, in turn, at us and our amusement. I mean, c'mon! How funny is this thing?!
We picked up some souvenirs for each of us at this shop: a small stuffed red panda for Chloë, and a matching stuffed giant panda for Sophia, which we named Beijing and Shanghai, respectively, for their home country. Jack was to receive a Zoo-themed truck, which matched his growing collection of otherwise-identical trucks from NYC, Kings Dominion theme park, and... Busch Gardens, maybe? A t-shirt for Rob, a shot glass for my collection, and a postcard for Erin, who collects, and we were on our way. No plastic bag, thank you, we'll just tuck them into our backpack, here. Except for Beijing, which was Curls' constant companion for the remainder of the day.
A note about Beijing: since she came from D.C., just like Faith Misty, her new American Girl doll, Chloë decided that this would be Faith's pet, since we weren't able to get Ginger the cat for her. I liked that idea, too, and I liked that Chloë came up with it and was satisfied by it.
Doing the elephant penny press outside, inexplicably, the panda shop
And here was one for the tigers, which was nowhere near the actual tiger exhibit. We never got a chance to see those, on this visit. See Beijing tucked into her pocket?
We were getting short on time by then, so we made the decision that our last stop of the day would be to the Great Ape house. This Western Lowland Gorilla was a shy girl, peeking out at us occasionally from the corner, but mostly hiding away.
Another lowland gorilla was less shy and, in fact, startled the whole crowd watching by slamming herself into the window at us, perhaps in a display of agression? I'm not sure, but everyone jumped about a foot back when she did that! I found this highly entertaining.
In the orangutan habitat, Chloë was amused to find one playful critter and one covered up in a sheet, eating a banana. It rolled around in the sheet, and never let it drop. She decided that was funny enough to keep reminding me about it all the way home.
It stunk to high heaven in the Great Ape house. The smell of primate poop was... whew! Just thick in the air. So when we found the two penny machines at the end of the building, I was dismayed to discover that I was out of quarters by that point. We couldn't not get the pennies, so that meant we had to go out and change some dollars into quarters and then go back into that awful stench.
When we went outside, we discovered at last where all the vendors were for the Fiesta Musical, a celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month that was going on at the Zoo that day. I approached the first one and asked for change for a dollar and was denied. Huh! Like he didn't have quarters. C'mon. I supposed I had to buy something to earn that privilege. Well, I had one quarter, and a very darling young lady came up to me and handed me 50¢, saying she didn't need it. She wouldn't accept a dollar or even dimes in return. I was touched, as I always am by people practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty...
Back into the Stench Great Ape House we went, to press our pennies. Luckily, the other machine accepted dollar bills.
So this was our collection of pressed pennies for the day, to go into collection book #2. It's almost filled; we'll need to get a third soon. Look at that blank! It came out, along with our penny, from one of the presses. I've decided it's my favorite.
I noticed this tree growing outside the Great Ape house. Is that an actual bunch of bananas? In D.C.? I've never seen such a thing, in real life. It fascinated me to find it there.
Soon, it was time to rush-rush-rush back to the hotel where we'd stayed. We had less than two hours to huff down to the Metro station, zip over to the stop by the hotel, huff down to the hotel, (pee), collect our bags, and get back on the Metro to Union Station, where we would catch the Amtrak back for home. While we waited for the elevator to take us down to the trains at the zoo stop, I photoed this awesomely painted bear. Cool, right?
Anyway, thankfully, we did make our train, with a mere 20 minutes to spare. Whew!! I was a little panicky. Chloë was a trooper, rushing along beside me and dragging the rolling suitcase while I carried everything else. Oh. After we picked up our bags and got back to the Metro station by the hotel, I put in her fare card and let her through the turnstile. Then I put in my fare card and got denied! Eek! Mine was out of money; I hadn't used them evenly, apparently. I had to leave her there and race back to the fare card vending machine, where I couldn't see her, to buy a new ticket. And the first machine was out of order, the second rejected my $10 bill and my credit card, and I had to go to a third one. I kept hollering out, "Are you okay, Chloë?" and heaving a sigh of relief when she would answer back in the affirmative. She wasn't scared, but I didn't enjoy that experience one little bit.
At last, we were seated back on the train to go home, Faith Misty in her box by our feet, luggage overhead, Curls by the window with Beijing to keep her company, and me drooling on my pillow-coat for two-thirds of the trip. I was tired. TIE-YURD.
After another four-plus hours, we had a sweet, happy family reunion at the depot in Newport News, and the kids fast-chatted all the way home about what they'd done in each others' absences, while Rob and I tried to get words in edgewise. Once at home, I gave Jacky his truck and Sophia her panda, Shanghai.
Rob was game to model his t-shirt for me. He's a sport, that one.
For the Fiesta Musical, I picked up these souvenir birds from Peru that, when filled with water, make real-sounding bird calls that vary with the shape of the ceramic creatures. They are LOUD, too. I like them, but the kids blew them half of today, and I sho'nuff did get a headache from that! Sophia's, sadly, is already broken, but it was an accident, and she was sad. Me, too.
The kids stayed up late last night, looking at Faith Misty and hearing all about our trip, despite our best efforts to get them to settle down and go to sleep. I expected nothing less, though.
And that was our trip. Big fun!
I just got an email from Aurora of Supercharged Science to go get a bar of Ivory soap and stick it, naked and on a plate, in the microwave for less than two minutes.
So, I sent the still-awake Chloë upstairs to find a bar of Ivory soap. I knew we had some. Success!
We stuck it in the microwave, and here's what it did (both with and without flash, since I can't seem to figure out the settings on the 'new' camera Tabitha gave me yet):
Sorry about the oatmeal grossness... She stuck it in the microwave without me, or I'd have cleaned it out first!
It was dry when I felt it, and a little hot but not too hot to touch. It came off easily, and we piled it all on the plate:
It's all flaky and, well, feels like dry soap flakes.
Chloë LOVED it and can't wait to do it again tomorrow with her sibs. Ten minutes later, she's still yakking on and on about how it was "the coolest thing EVER."
P.S. I don't know if I'll still keep doing the homeschooling blog separately from this one, since I can't seem to keep up with either one at the moment. I might just put that stuff here. Thoughts?
Whew. What a whirlwind school day we had.
We had signed the forms allowing the kids to get the free H1N1 vaccine at school, and today turned out to be the day. The preschool asked me to come in and be with Sophia, taking her home afterward to watch for any reactions. And since Chloë and Jack were getting it too, I stopped in a the main office on Friday to find out what time I should be there.
I got ready to go and arrived at the school just in time for Chloë's class to be in the gym. Not very many kids were there to receive the vax, and no other parent was there to be with their kid. That kind of surprised me. If my kid is going to be injected with something, well, I'm going to be there for them, dammit! I mean... right?!
One of the little girls next door, the daughter of our nice Japanese lady neighbor, was in the gym at the same time as Chloë, since she's a 3rd grader, too. She was looking really scared, almost like she was going to be ill. I offered to hold her hand during the shot, and she readily accepted. She and Chloë sat next to each other, and then - surprise! - they were offered the choice of the shot or the flu mist. Of course, both girls chose the mist, and it was quick and painless for both of them. I hugged two very relieved little girls, kissed Chloë good-bye, and left to go to the preschool.
Only, when I arrived back there, one of the teachers said, "You know we don't go down there until noon, right?" Um, no, I wrote down 1100! What the heck is wrong with me? Oh well, at least I needed to be there anyway for Curls.
So I had an hour wait, and it's only a five minute drive home... so I left. I stopped at Rite-Aid on the way home, to use a $2 off any Rite-Aid beauty or skin care product coupon. I got a tub of dip-in nail polish remover for 21¢! Sweet.
I was going to do laundry when I got home, but I found myself terribly unmotivated to go upstairs and do that... so I didn't. I just farted around and wasted time online until it was time to leave again, 40 or so minutes later.
I arrived at school at five after noon, so I just went straight to the gym, thinking Sophie's class would already be there. But they weren't. They were waiting for me at the class! Oops. We finally realized and made our way down there, just as they were about to give up on me. Sophie was very relieved to see her mommy there again.
Now, I think I've posted here before, but Sophie gets extremely upset about getting shots. I mean, you have to drag her kicking and screaming, holding her down the whole time. It's pretty awful. So I was grateful not to have to go through any of that, right? Wrong. Even though she was getting the up-the-nose treatment, she still freaked out when it was time to sit down and git 'er done.
She cried, she thrashed, she ran away, she hid. I retrieved her and sat her on my lap, and the nurse and I soothed her for at least ten minutes, promising her that it absolutely WOULD NOT HURT. She didn't believe us for a second, and she was terrified. After a long time of trying to calm her down enough to try just one nostril, unsuccessfully, I finally held her arms down with one of my arms, and held her face still with the other hand. She screamed and cried and shoved against me. I hated it. I hate doing that to her.
Of course, it was over in a second, and it was completely painless. But she was mad! And still scared, so she kept bawling for a good five minutes after we went out to the main area to sit and make sure she didn't react to it. I tried to hug her, I tried to hold her and talk to her, but she wouldn't have me. She turned her back to me, wiping away her tears, and there was nothing I could do to console her.
And then, in an instant, her mood changed. She suddenly realized it didn't, after all, hurt a bit, and Mommy hadn't lied to her. She was smiling and playful again, huggy and kissy, cuddling and nuzzling. Phew. That's my girl. Hopefully she'll remember that in a couple months, when it's time to get the second round!
We walked back to the preschool to get her stuff and talk to her teachers. They gave me her progress report, and she's where she should be in all areas. Her behavior in class is excellent (shocker!), and she is well-liked by kids and adults alike. Another teacher, for the other preschool class, told me that she sparkles! That she is the most social, happy, cheerful little thing, and that everyone loves her. Gee... that sounds a lot like someone else I know. Her big sister, maybe? ;)
I took Sophie home (after stopping at Rite-Aid a second time, with a second $2 coupon and getting a huge bottle of liquid soap for less than a buck), and after giving her a series of snacks (that girl is a bottomless pit, I tell ya), we played and fooled around and enjoyed our special little time together. Especially now that Rob is working nights (which should be ending in a week, yahoo!!), it's rare that I get any one-on-one time with any of the kids, so I was grateful for the little bit of time we had.
Soon, it was time to go back for Jack's vaccination. Everyone laughed when I walked back in for the third time. The vax staffers, who don't know me or my kids, kept asking, "Got any more after this?" It seems like I am at the school a lot lately, and that makes me happy. The principal and assistant principal know me and my kids well, and I have a good relationship with both them and all their teachers, as well as many other people in the school. It's a good year, and it's a good school. I'm happy to be part of it.
Jack came in, and he, too, was clingy and worried. I couldn't promise him the flu mist, because I just didn't know their criteria for choosing who was eligible. But it turned out he was, so of course, we picked that! So none of the kids ended up getting a shot, which is great. He was a little nervous, and it was funny, because the little boy next to him was so brave. He actually CHOSE to get a shot and loudly declared, "I like getting shots!" Jack marveled at him; I kind of did, too. Afterward, the little boy was sitting next to us while Jack was watched for a reaction, and he was asking me if Jack was scared. I said he was, and that he wasn't a big tough man like that boy. He puffed up and seemed to enjoy that very much!
Jack wanted to go home with me, but I wouldn't let him, because he was fine and needs the time at school. He's always trying to get out of school, always asking me, "Why do we need to go to school?"
While he was "recovering," I went over and talked to the gym teacher. He and Chloë have had a great mutual admiration for each other, ever since she began kindergarten. So I re-introduced myself, because I don't see him often and probably don't look like the last time he saw me! We chatted about Chloë, and he really seems to think the world of her. We talked about Jack, and he laughingly told me how Jack is not at all intimidated by the bigger kids and charges right into the pack.
After that, we talked about our Life on the Boat plan in a few years, so I could ask him - as I have asked many other people - his ideas for homeschooling the kids. Naturally, I'm concerned about their physical education when we're going to be confined to a small area. Well, he had the most positive reaction to our plans that anyone has had yet, and I was grateful for it. It's hard to constantly defend our choices with no one gung-ho about the idea. But he sure was, and expressed that that's exactly the kind of thing he would love to do, and how amazing an opportunity it will be for the kids. He even asked that, when we actually do it, I send him the blog link so he can see pictures from all our travels. Cool!
When he left to take a child back to his class - oops, I was monopolizing his time for much too long - the Special Ed teacher came over to introduce herself to me. I know the one who worked with Jack last year, but I hadn't had a chance to meet Mrs. S just yet. We talked at length about how Jack is doing, which, well, isn't too great in class, because he just can't seem to focus. He goes down to see Mrs. S with his classwork every morning, though, and gets his work done just fine without help, in a timely manner. He's having a lot of trouble still, with identifying numbers and other math-related stuff, so we're going to meet soon to amend his IEP to include more pull-out services for math and reading. Right now, he's just supposed to be getting help with writing, but he obviously needs more than that. So, we'll do whatever he needs to keep him on track. I got their report cards today, too, and he is below grade level in all areas. Except Art, which came as a surprise.
Sophie and I took our leave, arriving home just 25 minutes before the bus was due to come. The swine flu took up our entire day!
Chloë was terribly excited to show me her first quarter report card when she came home. She has a solid B average, with a B in every core subject except for her A- in Social Studies, of all things. (I say "of all things," because that is my worst subject!) Her teacher comments were lovely, expressing what a joy she is to have in class. Hm, I wonder why no one says that about Mr. Argumentative? Back to Chloë: She made honor roll, and she was given an Honor Roll certificate. Way to go, Curls!
She has a science test tomorrow, so after snack (I gave them some of Daddy's pumpkin pie, but I got permission after the fact, hee), I made them get right into their homework, so she wouldn't be up all night studying this time. Her test is on Simple Machines. She did her work, Jack did his, and I gave them pizza for dinner. I seem to be sticking a lot of frozen pizzas in the oven lately. With Rob away at night, there doesn't seem to be much point in cooking much else, that the kids won't eat.
Well, that paragraph was all over the place...
Anyway, Jack had his Cub Scouts meeting tonight, so we got him ready to go after dinner and headed over to the church. The Tigers meet in a small little room (small little?) at the back, and we arrived latish, so we kind of had to squeeeeeze our way into the room. That was enjoyable.
The first part of the meeting was spent going over the Immediate Recognition items, which include the Cub Scout Promise, the Motto, and the Sign. Rob worked with him on those things just ONE night, so I didn't really think he knew the Promise at all. Well, when the leader asked who knew it and could lead the rest of the Tigers, Jack said, "I know it!" and raised his hand. I was extremely skeptical, but he went on to reel the whole thing out, by heart! I could NOT believe it; I was beside myself. He is a smart little boy, but he Just. Won't. Work. Seriously, it was amazing to me!
So he knew the other two things and earned his Immediate Recognition badge thingy, and then he earned three beads besides. We are only behind on one activity - making a family scrapbook, which, hell, we can knock that out this weekend - and he'll be all caught up! I thought we had missed a ton of stuff lately, but apparently not. What a relief.
After that, they made pinecone bird feeders, with birdseed and peanut butter. The parents were supposed to help with the knife and peanut butter smearing, especially since we had some very prickly cones, but Jack was insistent on doing it himself.
See his little Immediate Recognition badge? It's the white thing there, with the paw print. Yay!
These are iPhone pics, so you can't tell how great his turned out. It looked mahvelous, dahlink. He can't wait to go out to the backyard with Daddy and hang it on the tree!
Lastly, another little Tiger passed out turkey cupcakes that he had made with his mother and sister. So cute! The girls were killing themselves trying to get a cupcake, so I was glad that there were enough for them to have one.
We left after that. I got the Littles ready for bed and sent them upstairs, and then Chloë and I did a bunch of review for her science test. She knows most of it, but I have a feeling that the stuff I had to re-teach her on the quick, she still won't know tomorrow. She didn't seem to really be listening.
And that, my friends, was Monday.
P.S. Here's the picture of Chloë's reaction to the Great Wolf Lodge news on Friday:
So, I stayed up all night last night, having slept in so late in the day that I couldn't get tired. I made the advent calendar box, I put together a CARE Package to mail for the baby of a friend's friend who, sadly, passed away at 37.5 weeks in utero (thanks Mom for most of the items in the package), and I putzed about doing this 'n' that.
Rob came home very late, maybe around 0200, and went right to sleep on the couch.
While I was putzing, the funniest thing happened. I was starting to put away all my scrapbooks into the jute bin I keep them in, when I found a high-bounce rubber ball of the kids'. I thought, "Oh, what's this doing in here?" and tossed it over my shoulder, absent-mindedly.
Well, the thing took on a life of its own, bounced down into the living room, up onto the fireplace, up onto the mantel, and knocked down three of the five glass pedestal candle-holders I have had up there since almost the whole time we've lived here. The candle holders shattered, splintering onto the hearth and floor below, with such a huge clatter.
I looked up, wide-eyed, and clapped my hands over my mouth in shock! WHOOPS!!
Rob, of course, woke up out of a dead sleep, demanding, "What the hell was that?!?!" and all I could do was stand there with my hands over my mouth.
So that sucked. But it was pretty funny, and after I got over the surprise, I fell apart giggling!
Sophie came downstairs, furiously rubbing at her squinty little eyes, at about 0640. My alarm goes off at 0700, and normally I would have been frustrated by the early wake-up, but of course, I was already up and working at my desk.
She kept mumbling, over and over, something about Chloë saying she was going to throw something of hers (Sophie's) away. I couldn't get understand what she was saying, but she was sobbing and very upset.
"But, Sophia, Chloë is sound asleep upstairs! You must have dreamed it, honey!"
She kept jabbering about the same thing, until finally I took my big baby (honestly, it's like me holding Rob, she's so big) into my arms and let her snug back down to sleep. She was sucking her thumb, eyes pinched close, and twiddling her hair like she always does, and I was watching her and getting my daily dose of warm fuzzies.
Then she piped up, eyes still closed, "I'm hungry," spoken around her deeply inserted thumb.
"Well, can you wait about 10 minutes until it's time to get up for school?"
"Sophia, you're still sleeping! Let's wait a few minutes."
"No, I'm not. My eyes are open!"
LOL They so weren't. They were squeezed tightly shut, and she was, for all appearances, asleep other than the talking. Funny kid. I adore the daylights out of her!
Rob got up when the alarms went off, and after I woke up the kids to get ready, I got into the shower to start my day and wash off the ickies from not sleeping.
I was getting dressed when he came upstairs to get dressed and take them to the bus stop, so I volunteered to go. Just as I did, and he went back down, Sophie puked. What is up with that?! She's supposed to be all better, for the most part. So it was decided to keep her home, and I walked the other two to the stop.
Soon, though, out came Rob and Sophie to go to school. She didn't have a fever and seemed to be fine. He thinks she was just stressed out and nervous from him rushing her to get ready. I don't know, it's so weird! I hope she doesn't turn into a puker like her sister now.
So the exciting news today is that I wore the pants I first bought at the thrift store, ostensibly for working at HT, that didn't fit. I couldn't even get them on. Now, I can get them on and button them! Sweet.
Not only that, but I went to work hanging up all my clean laundry, and then started cleaning out my closet a little more thoroughly than I had a couple weeks ago. I had some of the kids' formal clothes in the back, and then I found the gorgeous bridesmaid dress I wore in my BFF Lisa's (and husband Faris) wedding in June, 2002. I was about the same size as I am now, although I was bigger in the boobage area then, as I was nursing 9mo Chloë.
So, I decided to try it on and see if I could get into it. Rob helped it on and zipped it up, he says, with ease, much more so than when I originally wore it all those years ago!
And it looked good! Really good! I must be shrinking, though, as I don't remember it dragging on the floor back then. Must be because I was wearing heels...
So, with Rob in his cammies and me in the silver gown, we embraced and danced around the bedroom like we were never able to dance at the wedding. (He was taking care of Chloë while I did bridesmaid stuff.)
Fun stuff! I was so excited to be able to get that dress back on. It has a couple stains on it from who-knows-where, so I decided to have it cleaned. Then I'll have Rob take my pictures in it for my 150-lb loss mark in a couple weeks (I hope!) I even had to call up Lisa to share my joy. Yay!
Soon after, I had to leave for my chiropractic follow-up.
I didn't know what to expect, other than an explanation of the x-rays they took on Monday.
The first thing they did was bring me into the chiropractor's office to watch yet another video, this time about "the findings" in general and my "vertebral subluxation complex" specifically. I don't think that's a medical term; it's a chiropractic term for, basically, when the vertebrae are mis-aligned.
"Doc" came in and started in on brief, quick anatomy lesson of the spine, telling me things I of course already know, having studied biology. (Does that make me a doctor? Oh, nope. Still not a doctor, just because I have years and hours of study in a subject, past undergraduate school.)
Then he put up my x-ray pictures and drew all over them in pencil, explaining mathematically how this, that, and the other thing were off in my lumbar region and pelvis, probably from having carried so much weight around for so long. He said he wanted to take x-rays of the upper portions of my spine as well, since he didn't look at the thoracic and cervical regions in the x-ray, to see if I had further VSCs. He surmised, unsurprisingly, that I did.
It's my hunch that pretty much damn near everyone who comes in for the free exam and x-rays will have one or more VSCs, those being the chiropractor's bread and butter.
Treatment? Doc wanted me to come in 3-4 times a week for the next several months for adjustments and crap, tapering finally down to 1-3 times a month as the VSC(s) were corrected. What? Are you kidding me? Who has the time and money for that!
LOL So I was already getting spooked by just the idea of having my back adjusted, then the idea of coming in SO MANY TIMES to have it done... eep.
The last thing was when he left and brought in one of his staff to go over insurance and billing with me. My military insurance, no surprise, does not cover chiropractic care. (Which says something to me about the legitimacy of it as a medical profession, but again, these are JUST MY OPINIONS.) So I was offered a military discount, which would end up being at least $100/week for the adjustments, more for the extra x-rays and future exams to check my progress.
My stock answer? "Um, I need to discuss it with my husband first..."
Her answer? "Fine! Let's just get you into an exam room for a quick adjustment..." and then she walked me down the hall and put me in a room.
I sat there for three minutes, going, "What just happened here?" and listening to the doc talk to and adjust his other patients. Or clients. Whatever.
The rush-rush-rush of getting me started on adjustments, along with the seeming urgency of all the exhortations to "tell your friends about chiropractic!" completely had me spooked. I didn't want to do it anymore, I didn't want to be there, and it all felt pretty hokey to me.
So I burst out of the exam room and ran up to the front, telling the receptionist that my daughter's school had just called and she was getting sick, and I needed to leave rightnowandgopickherup!! She looked surprised and said, "Are you sure you can't stick around for five minutes? Doc will be right with you and ... blah, blah, blah."
Really? I would put my own chiropractic care - when I'm not urgently in pain or distress - ahead of my sick daughter's need to be picked up from school? What kind of mother would I be? So I bolted out of there, assuring her that I would come back that afternoon or, at the very least, call.
I totally bolted. Bolted, bolted, bolted, like a spooked little horsey.
And I won't be calling.
So that's the end of my little chiropractic saga.
Think of me what you will, think of IT what you will, but it seems like, as Rob put it, "voodoo." He also commented, "There are plenty of fancy ducks out there, but they all say 'quack'."
Upon leaving, I ran to drop off my dress to the dry cleaner's - to the tune of $35!!! Eek. Let's hope they can get it clean. Then to the post office to mail that sad package, and then to the gas station, since my indicator light was on. I grabbed a quick turkey sandwich, since I was in a full-on hungry state (rare for me now), and then headed out to Stephanie's to see wee Baby Luke. He's 2½ weeks old now, and I hadn't seen him since the day he was born, so I've been craving my Lukey time.
I held him for a long time, walking around the house with Steph as she talked and got ready to go out to her OB check-up. When my back was sore, I laid him on her bed and just admired the snot out of him. He is impossibly cute; it pains me to look at him, he's so darling!
A wee baby burrito
After fussing and getting a quick few sucks on his bottle of EBM, Luke gave Steph the hairy eye as she buckled him into his carseat. Steph, by the way, looks GREAT! She's lost a bunch of weight, and her face is so much thinner compared the puffy, swollen pictures I showed you after her c-section. I thought she looked very pretty.
I'd gotten camnesia again, so iPhone to the rescue for these pics of the little laddie. He's so cute in his widdle outfit! He looks just like Tim to me, especially here. No denying that paternity!
Snug as a bug in his little carseat bunting. Tell me that is not the cutest little feller ever?!
He made all the sweet little baby faces, grunts and stretches that I remember from my own kids' baby days. Ah, the memories. I have baby fever something awful now!
A peek at me, to see if I was still in his face taking pictures. I was. Rob took one look at this picture and said, "He looks like Stephanie." What?! I don't see it. He's all Tim, to me.
So she loaded him up into her car, and we temporarily went our separate ways. She to the OB, me to go home and retrieve the big bag of clothes I'd gathered up for Luke (from Jack) and her niece, Carolynn (whose name I always mispell, sorry!; from the girls). I, of course, forgot to bring it with me in the first place. Plus I had a couple magazines for her, since I get so many free subscriptions and share them with her.
Off I sped to the hospital to meet her at the OB. I had not much time until the bus was coming, by that point. I found her doctor's office and was let in to the exam room with her. Steph quickly handed me the baby for a burping, and we chatted for a minute until her OB came in. He kind of gave me the "Who the hell are you?" look, but he was very pleasant about it! He seemed like a nice guy. I gave her back her son, left the bag of clothes and mags with her, and took my leave. Hope everything went well, Stephy!
I picked up the kids from the bus and, by that point, was ready to fall over, so dead tired. Against my better judgement, after giving the kids a snack and starting Chloë on her homework, I decided to lie down for a few minutes until it was time to leave for dance class. I should have known better. When Chloë woke me at the appointed time, I was so not ready to go anywhere! I wanted to skip dance class sooooo baaaaaad... but since she missed last week due to the flu, I finally came to and got up off my arse.
It was a hard drive out there, though. All I wanted to do was sleep. I kept picturing myself falling asleep behind the wheel. Not pretty. At dance class, I got her into the building and was glad to come out and find both Jack and Sophie asleep in their seats. Yes! Nap time for me! I leaned my chair all the way back and slept like the dead for the whole hour.
I still felt exhausted, probably even more so, when my alarm went off. The drive home was, again, nerve-wracking, but we made it. I had things I needed to go out and do, but I just couldn't do anymore. I fed the kids their Jack-requested pancake dinner, gave them some ice cream for dessert (happily, they ate everything), and went to lie down.
I was in and out, but managed to get them ready for bed before I completely crashed out. It wasn't until Rob came home at midnight and woke me up (unintentionally) that I realized we never did Jack's homework! Oops... I'll have to write a note. My bad.
I couldn't sleep, so here I am. But I feel drowsy again, so I'm off like a prom dress! Or maybe a bridesmaid one...
Okaaaaay, let's try this again. I forgot to blog last night. I tried tonight, and Typepad was down. Finally got in, and it shut down on me mid-blahg. Stupid site...
During the day, we mostly hung around, did Starfall, cuddled, and the like. Sophia was in a pouty three-year-old mood, so the crafting plan I had went out the window.
Then we had the Brownies meeting. As Fall Product Chair (I keep waving that around like it's some huge deal. Hey, I had to have a background check for it!), and since Saturday starts the annual sale, I had to give a meeting to the moms to tell them all about it and hand out the forms. Leader Nikki had emailed everyone - twice! - telling them I'd be taking five minutes of their time at the beginning of the meeting, but do you think anyone showed? No! Just Nikki and her co-leader, Karen. After all my preparation, psyching myself up for slightly-public speaking, taking notes, rehearsing my little dialog, preparing all the forms for everyone... it was a bit anti-climactic. One other mom was there, but as you can see in the above picture, she just grabbed her form and went anti-socially to a back corner for the duration!
Anyway. In the picture, the girls were teamed up to put in order the words to the Girl Scout Promise. It was a fun, worthwhile activity; Nikki's really getting back to the fundamentals, which I like.
Finally, Jack and Sophia were driving everyone crazy, so instead of waiting longer to see if anyone else would show up for me - and taking pictures of the girls - I took them outside to play.
This picture gave both Rob and me the same thought: I wish we had a yard! Jack really enjoys running around outside, free and uncontained, and we just don't get outside into the open space enough. I need to make that more of a priority, now that the weather will turn cooler.
My little girl, who badly needs a haircut (and those are 2T shorts and a 4T shirt, crazily enough), digging around in the dirt and picking up rocks. She kept delivering the nicest ones to me and ordering me to put them in my pocket. Whoops, I forgot to put them back, and later found a handful in there.
This one is a favorite of Rob's. He was smelling the leaves as if they were flowers!
"Look, Mom, I'm a statue!"
He just kept rolling and rolling ... I kind of wanted to join him! If it wasn't right in front of a very busy street during rush-hour, I just might have!
Meeting time was almost over, so we went back inside to get ready to go. I wanted to snag some of the moms and give them their forms at pick-up, too. The girls were busy making pictures about themselves, what they like, and also cutting out pictures showing people helping each other.
They got in a circle and discussed how their pictures helped people and how that related to the Girl Scout Promise.
When we left, I still hadn't heard from Rob, so I called. He was stuck at work, late. Like every other $#%^& day this week. (I wouldn't complain so much if they actually paid OT!) So, since the kids each had a free ice cream cone coupon from Sonic, I decided to head there. Oh, my. What a treat. Heh. Luckily the patio is contained, and was deserted, so they could run around freely without getting in the way of any cars. (My kids are generally good about not running into traffic, thankfully.) When the food came, it was quite windy out, and we had a big battle for finding enough things to hold down all their wrappers and napkins and sech. Then Sophia had to go potty right. now. And so did Jack. And so did Chloë. So we marched down there and had that whole fun. And marched bag to battle the wind some more. They did all eat great dinners, though, and everything I ordered was actually eaten for once!
The manager had come out to talk to us, give me extra Sonic candies for the kids, an extra Wacky Pack since I'd only ordered two kids meals, and just chit-chat with the kids. She was really nice. I'd asked her if it would be a problem to use all three ice cream coupons at once, and she said it'd be fine. So when I pressed the red button, she immediately answered with, "We'll get those cones right out to you!"
It turned chilly, though, and neither Jack nor one of the girls (I forget which. I want to say Chloë, since Sophia's the big eater) finished theirs. Jack actually ran back to the van to warm up before the girls were done! Poor feller. But they had a fine and dandy good time going out to eat with Mama, and I was happy to take home a carful of happy kids.
Rob was home when we got there, so we decided to let our three butterflies go. The night before, two of them had apparently "drowned" in the sugar water he'd given them, per the instructions. I dumped them out in the morning, though, and after drying off, despite the sticky wings (I wasn't about to try and wash them!) they managed to come back to life. Whew.
The kiddos crowded around outside as Daddy started to open the container. This has been a very interesting experience for all of them, at least!
First, Daddy put Butterfly #1 (who was the drowniest) on Chloë's finger. She's been anticipating this moment since the first caterpillars came, and she was so careful with the bug.
A butterfly on her finger, and her emotions written all over her face...
Even Sophia got to hold one! And then I did! What a trip!! Jack was too skeered.
When they flew away, one by one, I was breathless. We all watched them twitter around us for as long as we could still see them, amazed. My heart was pounding. Other than my own newborn babies, they were like the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.
Seriously. Get a butterfly kit. It's the greatest thing ever! I can't wait to get more kits for Christmas. Frogs, other stuff... great shit!
This will be quicker, because my pills are kicking in and I'm tired.
I didn't go anywhere today anyway, except to actually go get said pills from Walgreens.
I was requested to show my new over-dyed purple hair. Only, in every picture I took, it's bright orange. So, I don't know, but either way it just ain't natural. And this was pre-shower, so excuse the nasty. And no, I don't have baldy spots, even though it sorta looks like it!
Just the girls, having a blast together on the couch. Not a great picture, really, but I like something about it.
So the worst thing that happened, by far, is that we had a horrible mishap with the butterflies and they are all gone. No more. The remaining cocoons were unfortunately smushed by an unwitting Sophia, who did not realize that sitting on, and thereby collapsing, the container would actually kill all of the inhabitants. I was checking email, Chloë had been examining her "pets" and walked away, and Sophia came in and not only sat on the kit but called me to look at her bouncing on them!!!!
I think my jaw hit the floor and stayed there for about five minutes. Literally. Five long minutes, during which Sophia jumped off the kit, came running to me, and stuck out her quivering bottom lip in realization that she had done something very wrong. Finally, all I could get out was, "Sophia!!" I did not want to yell. I knew she did not understand. I did not want to make her out to be some critter killer. So I waited until I could calmly explain to her what she had done, pointing out the bloody marks all over the mesh. Oh, did she cry. She sobbed and sobbed in my arms. Then we walked into the kitchen, where Chloë was, so she could say "sorry."
Only, she had never actually said sorry before in her life. I could never get her to do it. She just pouted with her big lip and, when I finally relented, gave the recipient a hug instead. Even earlier today, she did something, and I told her to tell me she was sorry. She looked up at me plaintively and said, "How about a hug?" and I accepted.
But after me insisting on telling Chloë, and I think finally getting what exactly she had done, she took Chloë's two hands in hers, drew her into a hug, and said, "I'm sorry, Chloë." And then she sobbed in my arms a whole bunch more.
Thinking back, I can't believe I didn't cry over the whole thing myself.
I'm really sad about it. It was a lot of work to keep those bugs safe, from the Nons and from the kitty, and even from Chloë who wanted to swing them around and set them down roughly, so I was exhilarated when the three survived to adulthood. And now it's over, prematurely, because I didn't protect them enough and put them back in their safe spot.
Ah. Well. Life is short. Moving on...
See what she's wearing?! I finally figured out her new knitting machine tonight, and we all (except Rob) helped to make her a scarf! I cranked, she cranked, Soap cranked, Jack cranked. It was tons of fun, and very addicting (for me; the others all gave up after two or three turns)! I have since spent the rest of the evening finding yarns I don't mind cranking into scarves. I tried to "knit" a couple of dishcloths from my nice cotton for Etsy, but it's just not good enough for that, and I undid them. But it does scarves up real nice-like. I have a stack of them!
She was also so proud to change her earrings all by herself! These lovelies (butterflies, *sniff*) were presents from Stephanie for her birthday. Aren't they pretty?
So tomorrow is a busy day, and I really need to get some zzzz's. Have a great weekend, y'all!
Today was an exciting one here at Chez Odette! Why? Because...
I took pictures of the bugs in their chrysalises (chrysali?) and of the new Painted Lady butterfly, but they didn't really turn out. We didn't want to bother them too much while the others are still developing, so we'll wait to take more pictures until they have all emerged.
I can't even begin to describe the excitement both Chloë and I felt! I was so elated that "we did it"! We actually managed to keep one alive to adulthood! Eleven more to go... well, make that ten. Did I mention Jack smushed one? Chlo and I high-fived each other and hugged and were both squealing. It's very cool, even though I obviously know all about the process, to actually watch it happening step-by-step in our home. This morning, no butterfly; this evening; butterfly! And, in the other cup, they are slowly making their way to the top and one-by-one building their cocoons, too.
Pretty damn cool.
In other Chloë news, she suddenly has a second very loose tooth, with the adult one growing in behind it! There was no loose tooth when she went to school this morning, so it amazes me how quickly that happened. Ah, they're growing up.
So today has been a pretty good day. Stephanie came over after her doctor appointment and hung out for a half-hour or so, and we caught up with each other's lives for the past week since Bunco. Of course, we already know each other's lives since we both blog, but it's different when we're in person. And Sophia was being really cute and lovey while she was here, doing her little hands-over-mouth giggling that I love so much.
Then we raced to Chloë's ballet class and got her there just in time. We didn't go anywhere today. I pulled out my crocheting and worked on a dishcloth. One minute, I was working away, and the next thing I knew, Chloë and her teacher were tapping on the window to let her in. I'd fallen asleep, even with the Littles hooting and hollering in the back. Quite a surprise to me; oh well, that hour passed quickly!
At home, it was time to clean up so Barbara could clean tomorrow. Boy, did it need it.The kids and Rob took care of the living room and kitchen while I cleaned up all my scrapping stuff and put the office back together. I could barely vacuum the whole room; my back just seized up and I couldn't move. Guess I'll just leave the living room for her to do tomorrow. I can't wait.
Time to go put all the laundry away. Last time she barely touched the upstairs, and I want to give her absolutely no reason to do that again.
As Wednesdays go, this one wasn't my favorite, speaking of surgeries... I had to go to Portsmouth Naval Hospital today for another colposcopy & LEEP. That doctor did things to parts of me I don't ever want to feel again. Ouch, I can still feel it, both fo' real and psychologically. I almost puked. I nearly cried. Seriously, it hurt and was uncomfortable. (Thankfully, Sophie was in the childcare waiting center having a ball, and Jadey was asleep in the stroller.)
So, since it's my third time dealing with this cervical cancer crap, if this one comes back bad again, I'm going to see about having all my lady parts removed. Whatever, we're done having children. As long as the ovies stay put and they don't have to feck with my hormones, I'm cool with it. I mean, how many times are we going to tempt fate here? Obviously it's just going to keep coming back.
Anyway, that was today's excitement. The neighbors got Jack from the bus while I was at the hospital (I made prior arrangements this time, so there was no pissy, bitchy bus driver to deal with), and he looked happy as a pig in shit when I came to pick him up.
Oh, and Sophia is obsessed lately with the dress-up box items, especially sparkly things and the tutu. She interchangeably calls them "my pretty," "my ballet," and, well, I guess that's it. I think it's sweet. She always puts on her "ballet" and comes running to tell us that she's pretty. That box is full, but I keep meaning to add or change out the items, and I never do. I should, she loves it. And she's so flexible and tumbly, she's definitely going into gymnastics when I find something for three-year-olds. Now to find the appropriate activity for Jack! I'm still thinking soccer, and Rob's thinking martial arts. Martial arts? He's so teeny! Maybe that's the point...?