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Entries from May 2008

I Respectfully Request A Do-Over

Today pretty much sucked.  To-wit:

  1. We overslept and missed ChloĆ«'s bus. So much so that it was nearly time for Jack's bus when we awoke.
  2. The migraine, with accompanying eye pressure, returned.
  3. I didn't get to take Sophie to a freebie Gymboree class I wanted, or anywhere else.
  4. I haven't showered yet. Since Wednesday...
  5. I could barely keep my eyes open because of the headache. At least Sophia and I got in lots of snuggly time on the couch. That's always a positive.

So nothing exciting happened today, unless you want to count getting Panera for dinner. This migraine better go away by tomorrow; I have plans, man. Plans!!


Ahhh, Bunny Balls

Ohhh, welllll.

We were supposed to go to Portsmouth today for Sophie's 3-year check-up, and we were supposed to go to Jack's follow-up counseling appoinment, but that was before an enormous migraine knocked me off my plans for the day.

I don't know what's going on with my head. I had this same thing last night: I have this pressure on my left eye and it's causing this whole area on the left where I can't really see. At first I thought it was because I was wearing off-prescription contacts instead of my usual glasses, but it came back today even when I wasn't wearing them. Rob's concerned about it. We're just hoping it isn't a brain tumor. And if it is, we're hoping I don't die before or during our cruise.


So I canceled our appointments and, after a while, I had to put Sophie in her room so I could safely lie down myself. The headache eventually went away, but I still have the eye pressure thing. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll call and do something about it.

Have I mentioned that I have been waaaay less allergic to stuff since going completely off that one med? That sucks. I'm being very careful to monitor my mood and depression levels to make sure I don't start swinging way downward again.

And to finish off the boring medical talk, Rob and I discussed it this evening and it looks like we're going to (try and) go ahead with the Newport News docs I visited the other night. Despite the out-of-pocket cost and the little bit of extra traveling we'll have to do for all my appointments, it's worth it because of my increased confidence and rapport with that doctor and the fact that they can do the operation of my choice. So I'll get the ball rolling on that. Perhaps tomorrow.

100_6853 Sophie woke up late last night for a midnight snack. I was listening to music on my headphones, so she thought she'd give it a listen, too. She was very pleased with the experience. You can see video of that, here.

100_6856 Later, she and Daddy had some quality time looking over the globe and talking about where we live and where we're going to be going on her cruise. I have nothing cute to say about that, but I liked the scene.

100_6858 After Jack and ChloĆ« came home from school, I was divvying up the box of Gymboree clothes that came in the mail during my nap. I was just going to post a picture of all the clothes laying out on the couch, but no children love getting - and modeling - new clothes more than mine do. All three of them are such little clotheshorses! They dove happily into the box, yanking out items and shouting, "Is this for me? Is this mine?"  ChloĆ« insisted they all try on and model all of their new outfits, so here's Sophie in the cute little dress I bought her. If I could just sew simple little dresses just like this for her, she - and I - would be so happy!

100_6860 Chlo was so happy to see all the 'twin' outfits I bought for her and Sophia. (I try to discourage her from using this term, but that's just for my own psychological comfort.) She loves being matchy-matchy, and I'm really starting to get into it, too! Don't know if you can see there's a turtle on the bottom of the jeans, in addition to the ones on their shirts.

100_6861 So cute! They are such posers. I'm really glad all the Gymboree pants are adjustable now, because no way would they stay up on skinny Chloƫ otherwise, and even Sophia needed some tightening!

100_6862 The shirts match, but they didn't have the skirt in Chlo's size or the pants in Sophie's. (Naturally, I bought everything on clearance! Gotta get more bang for my buck!)

100_6863 I love the little rainbow skort on Sophia. Chlo was a little jealous that she didn't get one, too, but that's all they had for her.

100_6864 What a ridiculous grimace! She kept crouching down for all her "alone" pictures. Silly girl. Another turtle on these shorts!

100_6865 Soap loves to put her hands in pockets!100_6866

And here's the same pair of pants in capri-length. Hey, a good deal's a good deal. Does she have an enormous melon, or is it just me?

100_6868 Jack got more clothes than the girls combined, and he had major ants in the pants waiting for his turn to model. "I want the truck! I want the truck!" Well, they're all trucks, son, so pick one. The orange shorts were quite enormous, and I might give them to Chloƫ to wear until his buns grow into them.

100_6869 Whoa, there, that is way too much patchwork blue on one little boy. Gonna have to split those pieces up!

100_6870 Something more like this?

100_6871 Whoa. Like the pants, like the shirt... but not so much together, right?

100_6872 That's a little better, I think. Jack is a kid who enjoys his hoodies. Boy loves his hoods. And hey! Look! Froggy!

100_6873 He looks handsome, sorta, but they make him look really short. I mean, yeah, he is, but he doesn't need clothes to increase the effect! Or maybe it's just the angle of this picture, I don't know...

100_6874 I'm liking the pants better with this shirt, and I love his all-boy stance in this picture! He's a little cutie, if I do say so myself.


There were about four more shirts he didn't want to model, and of course he scored some socks and undies as well!

100_6876 The kids went upstairs to lie down after that, and Chloƫ never did come back down to do her homework. That girl really, really sleeps. Rob came home to find his new ginormous tent waiting on the front porch, which made him ecstatically happy. He's been pushing to go camping since we met, and now it looks like he'll get his wish this summer. I don't know what-all he's got for the rest of the gear, but we don't plan on leaving the area, I don't think. That'll probably be after we get back from Europe. In the meantime, he better get that fricking huge box out of my hallway!

100_6877 Then he and Bounce had some quality man-to-man time. Isn't that the cutest rabbit ever? He's so soft. I just wish he were the kind (angora) I could shave and use for yarn! Rob just keeps marveling that we have a rodent living in our house, on purpose, but duh, people keep rats and mice and guinea pigs and hamsters and gerbils all the time, so what's so different about a bunny?

100_6878 Check it out! His balls came down! Hehehehehehe. Long time, never see. So that makes him about four or five months old. We decided his birthday shall be New Year's Day. And yes, I totally played with his balls. I didn't expect them to be in separate sacs like that!

100_6879 Grrr, why you play with my balls, bitch? Get yer own!

So then we decided to watch 27 Dresses, which came in today's mail. Cute, easy-to-watch little fluff movie, the plot of which was totally guessable right down to the dresses at the end. But I got a heckuva lot of knitting done on Ol' Stripey, and I'm already back to the section of eights on the last panel! Not much more to go now. Woot!

Think I'm going to go grab a shower. Never did do that today.


Peeps I Want To Know More About Meme

This one, I stole from Wendy Johnson at WendyKnits. As usual, if you'd like to do it too, consider yourself tagged and let me know so I can read!

1. What was I doing ten years ago?

I was 21, it was 1998, so... I had just gotten my nose pierced. I had also just finished up my fisheries internship at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida. I was back in Miami by this point, living with and taking care of my quadriplegic friend, Marc, by being his night nurse. I was recently SCUBA certified and finessed myself into a job at the dive shop that certified me when I saw that they were desperately in need of my help and organizing skills! When I left just a few months later to start graduate school at the University of South Florida in Tampa, they didn't know what they were going to do without me! I know they managed, but it was good to feel so useful and needed. See, I actually used to have a life and not be so lazy! ;-)

2. What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

Well, you'll have to come back and read the blog tonight to be privy to that! 

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Chocolate. Ripply chips with Heluva Good French Onion dip. Chocolate Chip cookies. Ice cream. Brownies. The usual baddies.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Be debt-free and investing like crazy. Travel the world, constantly and repeatedly. Share the wealth; I'd be very philanthropic. Wield my financial influence in lawmaking matters: I want laws passed banning smoking and making recycling mandatory nationwide, at the very least! I still can't believe we don't have that... Did I mention travel? I'd travel a LOT.

5. Places I have lived:

Monroe, NY. Baldwinsville NY. Aiken, SC. Coral Gables, FL. South Miami, FL. Sarasota, FL. St. Petersburg, FL. Tampa, FL. Panama City, FL. Guam. Virginia Beach, VA. Think that's it.

6. Jobs I have had:

Babysitter. Cashier at Big M Market. Cashier at Winn-Dixie. Cashier at Publix. Office cashier/back office staff/front-end manager at Publix. Night nurse to quadriplegic. Alumni relations at University of Miami. Fisheries biology intern. Catering. Dive store employee. Legal Secretary. Mommy. Nonprofit Director.

7. Peeps I want to know more about:

Everyone who wants to participate! I love getting to know my readers and the people whose blogs I read. :-)


Dirty Laundry Meme

I didn't get tagged for this meme at all, but I steal them when I see 'em. This one, I got from Yvonne at Yvestown. Thanks, Yvonne!

  • What time did you get up today? 0650
  • Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds. Not a big fan of pearls, or opals. 
  • Latest movie in a movie theater? Definitely, Maybe - I think.
  • Favorite TV series? Hmm. I really don't do 'favorites.' I like a lot of different stuff. This summer I'm trying not to get into anything, really, so I can come and go as I please without feeling tied down to the TV or that I'm going to miss something while we're vacationing.
  • What did you have for breakfast? I didn't eat anything until about 1500, and then I had a can of Slim-Fast.
  • What's your middle name? Ann. Hate it. 
  • Favorite food? I like lots of stuff. Pizza probably tops the list, but cheese only (maybe piƱa), and I prefer good NY-style pizzeria pizza. I know it when I see it!
  • Which food don't you like? meat, mushrooms, tomatoes, mustard
  • What's your favorite CD at the moment? One Republic, "Apologize" - I think I like it so much partly because the kids love to croon to it, too, which gives me the warm fuzzies!
  • What car do you drive? 2002 Chevy Venture minivan, extended version
  • Favorite sandwich? plain tuna on asiago focaccia, from Panera 
  • Which human traits can't you stand? intolerance and ignorance, apathy, indifference.
  • What are your favorite clothes? anything I can wear with my sandals. Which, for me, is damn near everything.
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Europe - and we're going in less than 4 weeks! Australia. Japan. Brazil. The Galapagos. India. Everywhere, pretty much. 
  • Favorite clothing brand? N/A
  • Where would you like to retire? Possibly the FL Keys or the Carib 
  • Favorite time of day? When Rob comes home from work.
  • Where were you born? Goshen, New York 
  • Which is your favorite sport to watch? gymnastics
  • Coke or Pepsi? Caffeine-Free Diet Coke 
  • Soccer or hockey? whichever, I'm not watching or taking part! Okay, soccer, if I must.
  • Are you a morning person or a night owl? Oh, definitely a night owl.
  • Pedicure or manicure? I've never had a pedicure, so I guess manicure? 
  • Any exciting news to share? Everyone who's a regular visitor here knows we're going on a Mediterranean cruise for two weeks in less than a month!
  • What did you want to become as a child? part of someone else's family
  • Best childhood memory? All the time visiting my grandparents. We did so many fun things. I loved it when they took us to the Jersey Shore for the Fourth of July, I loved banging pots and pans and eating hors d'oevres at midnight on New Year's Eve, and I loved just sitting around and playing cards with Grandma. They saved my childhood from being a total disaster.
  • Ever been to Africa? Not yet, but I hope to make it there eventually.
  • Ever rolled anybody in toilet paper? For a bridal shower, sort of, I think...
  • Have you ever been in a car accident? I've been in several. One time, my dad was driving me from SC back to Miami for my 2nd year of college, and we'd rented a minivan to carry all my stuff. We were hit (and run) by a drunk driver while I was asleep, and I woke up screaming for my life as we spun, popped all four tires, and slipped down the embankment facing the road. Then we sat in stunned silence, listening to the eerie sound of my radio; it had been thrown out of the van and was playing somewhere in the overgrowth. My dad seemed stunned and not sure what to do, so when a big tractor-trailer came by, I leaned over and honked the horn for all I was worth. He skidded to a stop and rescued us, then called for help. Meanwhile, the kid who hit us drove home and was discovered by his father, who drove him back to the scene. My dad didn't even press charges! I still don't know what to think about that.  
  • Favorite day of the week? Any day Rob is home 
  • Favorite flower? tiger lilies 
  • Favorite - Hot dog or Chinese food? Chinese, of course. I usually get shrimp with broccoli on shrimp-fried rice with a shrimp egg roll or a spring roll.
  • Do you own a bike? nope
  • Who was you latest e-mail from? Louise from Our Odyssey
  • Where would you like to shop more if you could afford to? Yarn stores!
  • Bed time? Usually around 0200
  • Latest person to share dinner with? The girls at my Bunco group last night
  • What are you up to now? I have a migraine, so I should be lying down, but I did that all day. I'm going to edit some pictures and then do some knitting.
  • Favorite color? green
  • How many tattoos? Zero!

If you want to do the meme too, consider yourself tagged. And please let me know so I can come read it!


Bounce Baby Boogie

Today was fun. After Jack left for school, Sophie and I got in lots of quality time. We huggled and snugged and kissed and played and giggled and tickled and laughed and had a good time together, enjoying each other's company. She's a fun kid. I love being alone with her.


Soapy-pope is having a love affair with "chopstick," as she calls it. She grabs it every chance she gets and smears it all over her face.

100_6849 Doesn'ts she look so pretty?? She thinks so.

100_6851 She also loves to hop around on the bouncy-bounce we gave Jack for his birthday. I love seeing her having a good time!

Eventually, we made it upstairs, where I did a load or two of the growing-like-weeds pile of laundry and took a shower. We had an outing today.

We made our way to Jack's school to discuss his IEP for kindergarten. He starts in July, while ChloĆ« will be going into 2nd grade (oh, my word).  Miss Beth went over all his goals for the coming year - reading and math! Jack?! - while I expressed my surprise and concern about his abilities. Miss Beth assured me the ability was there, we just had to work on his desire to get things done. Okay, then! We have things to work on this summer so he doesn't regress, that's for sure. Should be... interesting.

Back at home, we had barely any time before Jack returned from school himself, so we just sat together and read stories, while I stroked her sweet hair and skin. When he returned, he came in with his usual set of demands, and had a royal fit when Sophia tried to eat his goldfish crackers, the likes of which I have never before seen. It was intense and, dare I say it, pretty hilarious.

When Chloƫ came home, they were all pretty ornery, so I sent them up for some rest. Shortly after, I felt completely wiped out myself, so I lay down to rest "for an hour." Ha. That turned into three hours, and by the time I woke up, I just about had to leave for Bunco. I didn't have any time left to make something for our usual Bunco potluck, so Rob put a bunch of Girl Scout cookies on a plate for me, and we called it good. I didn't think they'd get eaten, but the ladies chowed down on them. I barely brought any home.

Bunco was fun as usual, though I was playing with a slightly different crowd; this was a "bonus" night for some out-of-town company the hostess was having. I played my best ever and won a prize, a little flower pot and pot-holder thingy that Rob says looks like a toilet. Maybe I'll take a picture tomorrow.

That's all. I'm going to go knit. Maybe I'll actually finish the stripey blanket in June. Maybe...


WFMW: Mystery Shopping

Wfmwsmall  I started mystery shopping two years ago, for fun doing things we ordinarily wouldn't have the budget to do, and for a little extra money. I quickly found tons of shops in my area (not always the case; depends where you live), and hustled around doing job after job after job. I got quite well-known among certain of the mystery shopping companies and was called upon specifically to do some of the larger jobs. I've done the following many times, and more that I can't think of off the top of my head:

  • Water Parks
  • Retail Shops, everything from clothing and shoes to diamond rings to pianos
  • Fast Food
  • Casual Dining
  • Fine Dining
  • Bars
  • Photography
  • Audits
  • Eyeglasses
  • Automotive: Oil changes, car washes, etc.
  • Telephone- or Internet-Only shops
  • Bowling
  • Hotels
  • Airport
  • Grocery
  • Apartment Rental

{Never mind about the blue, it just won't go brown!}

It's a lot of fun, but it is time-consuming. There's a great initial investment of time, because you have to sign up with each company individually. To do that, start here and work your way down the list. There are two more pages!  Keep a Word folder with all your mystery shopping application "essays" so you can just cut and paste when similar ones are requested. You should also take the time to become silver certified, as you'll get a lot more jobs that way. When I did it two years ago, it was only $15.

After that, you start getting emails (set up two separate folders in your email: one for all your acceptances and site passwords, and one for all the shop emails to come in) showing jobs available in your area. You are not required to respond to any of them. If you can and want to do a job, read the email and apply accordingly. Then you'll wait to find out if you've been accepted, unless it's a self-assignment job. Keep a very organized schedule and don't miss an assignment, because you are rated, and your rating will go down, meaning fewer shops will come your way. You can always email the scheduler to ask for an extension, if needed. (It may or may not be granted, but often is.)

Now, there are some downsides. You must have a credit card or lots of disposable income, because in 85-90% of the jobs you will pay upfront and then be reimbursed up to two months later. That's right, you have to wait quite a while for payment most of the time, so keep accurate, up-to-date records of shop dates, costs, reimbursements, travel distances and any other details you deem necessary. Also, shops can be spread far and wide, and gas isn't cheap these days. If you have lots of shops available in your area, then you can afford to be choosy and pick those close to home. I mean, that's up to you, but I rarely go more than 5 miles anymore unless it's something really juicy.

Of course, I have quit mystery shopping several times, most recently because I have grown way too fat off all the fancy dining shops my husband and I have had the luck to get. There are many in our area. I thought I was quitting the whole business for good, but now I'm going to pick one up here and there for things we're going to do anyway, like get an oil change or an eye exam. This past weekend, for instance, I got a thorough eye exam, two pairs of glasses, and two packs of lens cleaning wipes, for a total out-of-pocket expense of $18.48! Why pass that up?!

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about getting started or any other step of the way. And use my name (Melanie Odette) or email ([email protected]) as your referral, please!!!


Soaked To The Bone

What a hectic morning! Chloƫ couldn't find socks to match her outfit, then she couldn't find her second sneaker and got stuck wearing Sophie's (one size smaller) to school; it's pouring out and we could only find one umbrella... Of course, Chloƫ carried that while I got drenched. At least I had my new cruise raincoat! And it did its job well.

Well, as you can see, we didn't go to LA this morning, since I'm here typing. In the end, we couldn't find childcare or flights to carry us home before tomorrow morning. What happened to the red-eye?! We could've driven to DC and taken one straight shot there and back, but I didn't find any such flights. Oh, well. Rob is going to work on trying to get us to California for his next duty station. There are jobs there for him, but the gov't typically won't move a family with more than two kids from one coast to the other, so ... we shall see what we shall see. If it doesn't happen, it wasn't meant to be, and that's that.


Yesterday, Rob came home muy early from work, even though I didn't need him home until quarter-'til-three. The first thing he did was fetch his newly-awake youngest child for some quality story time. They read her new book from Grandma at least twice.

{Heh, I just turned around, and there was the missing sneaker from this morning. Oh, well.}

While he did that, I was working on cruise paperwork and the paperwork to finish getting Jacky registered for kindergarten. Then they headed over to the school to drop it off while I went up and worked on laundry for an hour. Yay, he's in! ChloĆ«'s God-awful kindergarten teacher stopped her in the hall the other day and told  her she was going to have Jack in her class next year. Um, no, I don't think so! So I called the school and strongly requested to have him switched to the other morning-K teacher. I'll put up a fight until it's done, because we haaaaaaaaated, I mean, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated, that teacher all year.

{Huh. I just found a bunny behind me. Apparently he was out all night? Robert! Don't DO that!!}


During my laundry-doin', the box of Webkinz I ordered online arrived. I like to stock up on the ones we want so Chloƫ can just go to my closet and pick one out when she has enough allowance money, instead of driving to the mall each time and wasting gas, time, money. Hey, I got free shipping, too. There are some really good ones in there: gecko, rhino, koala, turtle, hippo, elephant, raccoon, gorilla, penguin, black bear, kangaroo, snake, chicken, cow, monkey, duck! I think that's all 16! Hey, I like them as much as she does, what can I say?

Soon after Jack arrived home from school, I had to leave for my gastric bypass seminar at the new doc's office up in Newport News. That's a 40-minute drive, folks. One count against them, with today's gas prices. I sat there for two-and-a-half hours listening to the spiel, filling out paperwork, getting weighed (ugh ugh ugh, I am NOT losing weight on Slim-Fast; small surprise there), and asking questions. Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do, between pursuing getting the surgery done through them versus having it done at the Naval hospital.

Pros for Newport News docs: I'm much more confident in them and their abilities. I'll have choices among three or four different procedures, vs. just one option at Navy. The "hoops" I'll have to jump through for them seem slightly less stringent. I'll probably get it done faster and sooner. I for sure qualify, under the new guidelines issued by our insurance company, both because I'm just that chubbous and because of the sleep apnea.

Cons: There's that drive, for the surgery and each check-up. There is a rather large out-of-pocket fee that isn't billable to any insurance company, even the king of all insurances through the military. I'll still have to go through a psych eval, {Heh. People were asking about that last night, and the doc said he never heard of anyone getting denied for that reason. Well, hello there, aren't I a big old loser freak?} along with who-knows-what other "hoops."

I'm not even sure which way I'm leaning just yet. No, I lie, I think I'm leaning toward getting it done there, but just putting it on the back burner until after the cruise, which, by the way, is now a mere 27 days away!!!

One good thing about sitting there: I was, like, the thinnest of the fatties in the room. Doesn't that make a girl feel special?? Others were huffing and puffing just sitting there. One of those fatties (hey, I can say it, I am one) knocked my passenger side mirror out of whack on their way into the building and didn't stop to fix it; I didn't realize until I was already back on the highway toward home. Argh. Inconsiderate bastages.


Once I got home, we had dinner, and then Rob wore my unnerpannies on his head like a beret. We are such kooks.

I'm still soaking wet. Do I still need to take a shower today??


You're A Little Late, I'm Already Torn

{Green for money!}


So incredibly frustrating.

Here's the thing: A couple of weeks ago, Chloƫ got called for a national commercial for a "Z Toys" (made-up name), but they wanted her there that day and did not realize she was not LA-based. So we had to turn it down, obviously.

Well, this evening, they called back again for the same company's commercial, and they really wanted her and had given her a callback, sight-unseen. They want her there tomorrow at 4 PM Pacific Time.

Problems: So far, we can't find childcare for the Littles. It's just as expensive to fly out there tomorrow and back as she'll be paid for the commercial, and this is only the callback - she'll have to go out again if she actually gets it (but it looks good, they want her). And, I can't even get us back here until Thursday morning. More childcare concerns.  If I can't find someone, the price of flying them out there, too, skyrockets.

On the other hand, this is the highest-paying job we've submitted her for, and they want her!! Really, really want her! Thing is, she won't even get considered to audition for more substantial roles (think TV, movies) unless she gets these kinds of jobs under her belt first. Plus how cool would a national commercial be? I'm not sure if there are royalties, which would tilt us in favor of flying out, but I don't think so.

So if we scrap this one, we pretty much scrap the entire thing, because it's always going to be last-minute, high-cost airfare, not just this one time. And if we don't go, they're going to think, well, they'll never come...

What to do, what to do, what to do...


Excitement-Free Post

We didn't do anything today. I woke up feeling crappier than yesterday, and Rob stood watch 0600 to 1800, so I scrapped all our plans to do anything for the hollerday. The kids were just glad not to go to school. We tried watching their new Wind in the Willows DVD from Grandma, but it didn't hold their attention and one by one, they drifted off to do other things. We'll try that again in a couple years. 

Oh, Rob and I watched This Film is not Yet Rated after bedtime. It was amusing and thought-provoking. Good documentary.

Fascinating post today, I know.


Brother From Another Mother

We all slept in really late today after our adventures last night. Really late. Like, no longer AM.

When I woke up, I was definitely sick. Right eye matted shut, sore throat, earache, headache... the whole bit. We were supposed to go to the Pungo Strawberry Festival today, but I didn't think I was going to be going anywhere at all. I felt bad. But, we've been here five years and keep wanting to go, but something has kept us from going. This, our last year, had to be it.

So I took a shower. A shower always makes you feel better, right? Well, it didn't, much, but I was game to go anyway. I did a little laundry, got dressed, and made my way downstairs where the rest of the family was eating breakfast. Rob showered, and off we went to the grocery store to get some sunscreen and dolladeros for the festival.

On the way there, Sophie asked where we were going. Rob told her, "We're going to the Strawberry Festival!" And she said, "Mmmmm... I LOOOOOOVE blueberry pie!" <insert laughing guy here>

We also decided that we weren't going to eat anything that didn't contain strawberries. Well, that proved to be tougher than we thought. The website specifies there are strawberries served 50 different ways? We found two: strawberry shortcake and daiquiris. Of course, we ate some shortcake right away, and, I gotta say, the Bisquick biscuits are hella better. I'm stickin' with those.

The festival was set up along a main drag, so the traffic was shut down going in and out of the area for fest goers. Well, it was over at 1900, and they let traffic get back in the very same minute! Right away! They didn't even give people a few minutes to clear out of there and walk the mile or so back to their cars. Kinda dangerous, if you ask moi. But you didn't.

A few highlights of our day, in pictures:


The children running around in the field of buttercups where we were parked. Of course, I received a bouquet or two.


The kids have never had their faces painted before, so that was one of the first things we let them do. I wonder if Jack was checking out this woman's, um, *ahem* decolletage... oh, and I know that's not his face. They all chose to do it on their arm instead. Whatever!


Chloƫ chose an angel,


 Sophie picked a hibiscus flower,


and Jack wanted a bunny. His was the only one that lasted past the second ride. The rest were all smudged off on shirts and faces. Oh well, easy come, easy go.


Finally, once we made it past the tons and tons of vendors, we found the area that was like a fair, with rides, games and fair food. Not that we were looking for that, or anything, in particular. Rather, it found us. Tickets were $1 apiece, but today there was a military armband special for $15, good for unlimited rides. Eureka! We bought five, in case they wanted rides that needed parental units. Good thing we did; they were needed. These trucks were the first ride we came upon, much to Jack's delight!


Next, we all took a spin in some Tilt-a-Whirl-ish apples. Whilst riding, Chloƫ looked at me and exclaimed, "Mom, this is the time of my life!"


After several more kiddie rides, we all went on the Ferris Wheel together. It was my mother's favorite ride. Not so, the kids'. They all snuggled closely to us and screeched every time we went up, up, up.


After some more rides, a bite to eat, and a potty break, we found the giant midway slide. The girls bravely decided to go on it, while Jack held back. Chloƫ has done it before and didn't like it, so I'm surprised she chose to go again. She didn't like it any better. Despite the look on Sophie's face here, she enjoyed it and ran right back up to go on it again!


Finally, after doing the rest of the child-friendly rides, we found these cars as the fair was closing down. Jack was in seventh heaven! The cars whipped around the corners pretty fast for a toddler ride, so I was a bit surprised to find each of them enjoying themselves immensely! They went on it at least twice and laughed the whole way.

We headed back to the car along the treacherous car-packed road after that, and I waited with the kids in a corner lot while Rob went to fetch the van. The kids were being cute, running around and racing each other, but I neglected to get a picture of that. We stopped at a drive-thru on the way home for some dinner to bring home, and the kids gobbled theirs up right away when we got home. Then they headed to bed, worn completely out for the second day in a row.

Rob and I just watched There Will Be Blood when they were down. Hmm. I don't know what to rate that movie! Daniel Day Lewis was definitely good in it, as was Paul Dano.  Have you seen it? Roob, I know what you thought of the ending, but I've decided I liked it! It was a hard flick for me to get into at first, but it grew on me. Good film.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day tomorrow.


Weekend O' Fun

Well! This is shaping up to be quite a weekend.

Friday did not go as I had planned at all. It started when Chloƫ and I were walking out the door to go to the bus stop. Usually, the door is locked, so I have to turn the switch to make it unlocked. Well, for some reason, it was unlocked, so as I was leaving, as usual, I turned the &*^*& switch and, yep, locked myself out of the house. Now, normally when Chlo lets the dog out in the morning, she forgets to lock the back door afterward. But nope, not yesterday morning! So I was completely SOL. And Jack and Sophia were locked inside the house, sleeping in their little beddie-byes.

Fortunately, this was the one day I happened to grab my cell phone on the way out the door.

I called Rob and told him the sitch. He's got a long drive to come home from work, but he was on his way to bail me out. I was glad to at least have that morning's paper still sitting in the driveway.

After a half-hour of reading that, I decided to call Rob and see if he was close to home. Oh, he was very close... but he had a flat tire. And no jack. Aughhhh!  So he had to wait and wait and wait for motorist assistance to come and bail him out, before he could come bail me out.

But, aha! Barbara the cleaning lady has a key to my house! It was early, but I figured she was a normal person, unlike myself, and probably up at that hour. She was. She was in the middle of cleaning her house. If I could wait, oh, an hour, she could come after that? Argh. No, I'll wait for Rob, thanks anyway.

Shortly after that, I heard a commotion coming from inside the house. So I started ringing the bell and knocking on the door, and almost instantly, Sophia unlocked it and let me in. What was she doing up so early and out of her room? Jack had gotten her up. She still had the sleepy face. But I was in!

So finally Rob came home (I'd called him to let him know I'd gotten in), because he wanted to get the jack out of the shed and put in his, you know, actual vehicle where it was, you know, actually needed.

And then he said he needed my *^%^*& van to drive back to work, because his spare tire was not going to be making it all the way there and back. Fudge! I had plans, and lots of them! So in return for fouling up my day even more, I talked him into running to Panera first to get us some lunch, which he did. And it was yummeh.

But then he left, with my van, leaving Sophie and me stranded for the day instead of being able to do all the running we had planned. Sigh. We trudged upstairs, where I spent the better part of three hours hauling out all the kids' spring/summer clothes and putting away winter clothes, sorting through them to see what would still fit and what would need to be handed down/tossed/donated.

I'd forgotten that Chloƫ still wore a lot of 3Ts last summer! So literally half of her summer wardrobe went directly from her closet into her sister's; Sophie is wearing 3Ts and some 4Ts now! Good thing I just bought a bunch of clothes from Gymboree; it should be here next week. Jack will still mostly be able to wear his 2T clothes, of course; the boy just doesn't grow much, and short shorts don't matter as much as short pants. Sophie lost a lot of her wardrobe, too, so I put it in a bag to bring to consignment.

I wanted to dig in on the laundry some more - I must talk about laundry constantly, because literally, it never freaking stops around here! - but it was time for Jack's bus. I made my way down just as she was pulling up to the driveway. I peeked out the peekhole to see her looking pissed because she thought I wasn't home - after all, the van wasn't there. So I threw open the door with a big smile to catch her nodding to her aide and mouthing "yeah, she's here." Have I mentioned this bus driver and I hate each other?

We couldn't go to the Farmer's Market because, of course, no car. So we hung out in the living room, playing with toys, reading, knitting, and what-have-you, until Daddy finally came home from work, a little early, having gone to the Exchange for some shoes and a tie for the cruise, and to the Naval hospital for Jack's shot record so he can register for kindergarten. Holy run-on, batman. I don't care. It's my blog and I'll babble if I want to.

So the kids all needed naps, and they went right down when Daddy returned from work.  We were going to watch movies and eat something while they slept, so Rob went to Moe's (Welcome to Moe's!) to pick up our usual order. Then Steph called to say she and Tim were around the corner and heading over. Cool. I decided to put on a bra, at the very least. I'd been sitting around in sweats with no underthangs.

They came right in while I was half-nekkid, putting on my brassiere, and I screeched at them to stay out! Hehe. There are always boob issues when Steph and I are around each other. There was another boob issue later, but she forbade me from posting about it!


They brought along their two puppies, one-year-old Wazowski and this new little cutie, Rosie May. She is the most beautiful puppy ever!!! (At least since Tiger Lily was a wee lass.) So soft and sweet and .... ahhh. I love puppies. Especially this one.

100_6723Rosie May falls asleep on Chloƫ's lap; she's in heaven

After a long while of shootin' the shit, we puppy-sat for them while they went out to get some dinner and leave us to ours. ChloĆ« was awake by this point, so they took her along for dinner! This was a special treat for her, to go out with them, and she was very excited. The pups were good, although Miss Rosie had a couple of accidents during her visit. She's new, though, so she's excused. I sure don't miss the puppy stage with Lily, though. Man.

100_6724I showered and dressed fo' reals while they were gone, and by the time they returned, the Littles were awake, too. Steph wanted all 26 of our legs (7 people, 3 doggies) to get some exercise, so we took a walk around the smaller lake across the street from our house. I was really nervous about this, because of my back and the troubles walking I've had lately, but I do need to build up some stamina so I can enjoy our cruise to the fullest. We headed out.


Sophia sat right down at the beginning of our walk to watch the ducks!


Jack liked being up close to this guy and kept calling him a turkey, which made me laugh.

I got about halfway around the lake before I kept having to stop and sit to let my back stop it's painful spasming and seizing. It was annoying and embarrassing. I'm hoping the impact of this injury will diminish after the gastric bypass.


I'm awfully fond of this sight every spring, especially because I often think of my children as my little ducklings following along behind me, wherever I go. Duckies are the cutest babies!

Back home again, I let Stephanie cut my too-long bangs... and I won't be doing that again! LMAO! They look not so good. But they'll grow back; they always do.

Then I cut her hair, and there were many jokes made about the kinds of things girls do when they get together. We hung out some more before they headed home, and all of us were so glad to have such good 'couple' friends.


Are you liking the music being back on the site? No? You'll have to thank or blame Daisy for that, depending on your opinion!


I stayed up until 0400 on my monthly online charity crochet-a-thon thingy, chatting with crochet friends and trying to win a prize. I won nothing. I've won nothing all year. Suckage. Rob had long since fallen asleep upstairs, but I didn't have the energy to join him and crashed on the couch until 10 AM when Tiger Lily started banging on the back door to go out. I was just getting up when Rob and the kids came downstairs, on their way out to get new tires for my van. Yeah, both our cars were desperate for them. So I was all set to lie back down - hey! free time without the kids means sleep! - but then I remembered the crochet-a-thon. I was determined to win a prize.

I sat on that computer for the next three hours and still didn't win. Dammit. I kept playing Webkinz tournaments to pass the time, and I've won about 40 between last night and today during the chat. Rob just rolls his eyes and laughs at me. Hey, it's fun. And I had to pass the time while the chat was slow somehow!

At 1300, I jumped in the shower to get ready for my eye exam appointment. [I didn't really need an exam, but I needed new glasses (I burned mine!), and so I picked up a mystery shop to get free ones. Yeah, I know, I said I was done with that, but it keeps pulling me right back in. And hey, you can't beat a free exam and glasses. Plus I have pink-eye and needed a prescription.]  The appointment was for 1440, but I had had enough of the computer. Still no sign of Rob and the kids. Another hour passed. Still no sign. Ten minutes before I had to be at the eye doctor, I called him, only to find out he was still at the flipping tire place! Five hours getting tires! With three small children! Ay ay ay.

The eye tech said I could be late, so we took off immediately when they finally came in, and I had my exam. The doctor was very nice, very thorough, very pleasant... I enjoyed him immensely. He's right up there with Dr. Michael Bidus in my little book of Medical Types To Love. He gave me a script for the strongest antibiotic eyedrops available, since the Rx drops I'm using from my last bout aren't helping and confirmed that my vision is still pretty crappish at 20/200.

He dilated my pupils, so I called Rob and the kids out of the van to come help me pick out frames while those drops were taking effect. We were at For Eyes (Rob's favorite name for an eyeglasses store), where they were having a sale: two complete pairs for $99! After much deliberation, we picked a regular pair and a pair for sunglasses. Blue ones. That's a switch. We'll see.

I headed back over and let the doc look in my eyeballs some more, and I whined a bunch about the brightness. He gave me the paper sunglasses to wear around looking snazzy, and we were off.

Well, I'd spent all that time looking at the Mi Hogar Mexican Restaurant right next door, and Rob is always, always, always down for some Mexican, so we headed there for lunch. The usual: Jack ate chips, the girls ate quesadillas, I ate a vegetarian combo... and Rob orders something different every time. He ordered something called the "big burrito" and they were not kidding. I have literally birthed a smaller baby than that thing! He ate half and called it a day.

On to the next fun thing: Motor World down by the beach! Rob and I had last been about three years ago and still had some valid ride tickets, so we brought those along and bought some ride bracelets for the kids.


Our first stop was the bumper boats. The Littles rode with Rob, and ChloĆ« rode with me. Jack and Chlo were scared at first, but once they got in there, they had a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of bumper boats, but mine would hardly go! It was very frustrating. We basically  just sat around in the water and waited for people to run into us. ChloĆ« giggled every time she got a little wet.

  Next, we headed to the kiddie race cars for the kids to have a go around the track. Did you watch the video? That was just the beginning of our amusement. We parents were doubled over laughing by the end of their ride, as the kids were just horrible at it! They crashed, went three feet, crashed, two feet, crashed... you get the idea. It was totally hilarious. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

100_6739 Next up was some 'real' driving in the family cars. I don't know what these things are all called, so you'll have to bear with me. Cars is cars. Unfortunately, in the cars, two kids couldn't ride with one parent, so we had to take turns. First, Daddy and Jack rode together while the ladies patiently waited with their mama.

100_6741 The girls waiting their turns for a drive

100_6753 Next up, Chloƫ and Mommy. Yes, I know, an actual picture of me. I can't believe I really look like this. I mean, I know I do, but I just can't believe it has gotten to this point. Sigh... It's the "before," Melanie. It's the "before."

100_6754 Sophia makes a new friend while she waits

100_6757 Our car lover, transfixed by the action in front of him

100_6759 I tried to get a decent picture of Sophie's ride, oh, how I tried, but her little head just didn't come over the edge of the car! So I'm just including this picture (a) to show she got her turn and (b) to show I managed some depth of field with this picture!

100_6761 My pretty little baby in her pretty little dress

100_6763 The girls wanted to go on the jumpy thing after that, while Rob took Jack on one of the other kiddy rides and to get a drink and funnel cake. Older kids were flipping over and over in their harnesses, but ChloĆ« was too scared to try that. After a while, she was too scared at all and got down early.

100_6769 Sophia loved her turn on the jumpy, and she was winging all over the place, her hair flying in the breeze. She was fun to watch, giggling away as she flew in the air. The ride operator got a kick out of her, too, and he was holding her down so she'd fly higher and higher. This one's going to be a daredevil.


Next up, because the kiddie rides were finally opening as the evening came upon us, the girls rode the dinosaurs that Jacky had just finished. He didn't want to go again. He was all about the cars by that point.

100_6772 My beautiful girls taking a ride in the elephants

100_6778 Jack and Chloƫ went back for another drive in the hilarious kiddie cars after that. Chloƫ was actually starting to get the hang of steering! Jack, not so much, but he didn't care a bit. He was in seventh heaven behind the wheel of that car, his pedal to the metal. When it's time to get his license, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

100_6781 We found some more kiddie rides that had not been open earlier, so they each got in one of these dealies and "drove" around and around the track. We kept hollering out to them, teasingly, "They're getting you! Go faster! Faster!" Jack took it most to heart, and would hunch over the wheel and start steering madly, a determined look on his face. It was hysterical.

100_6783 Next, the "kiddie" himalayan. Holy, crap, this thing was fast. Jack had decided against it from the get-go, and he was smart to do that. Sophia started freaking out when it began, and I was flailing and yelling like crazy to get the ride op's attention and stop the thing. Rob finally got through to him, and we pulled our baby off. She was so shaken, poor thing. 100_6784

Chloƫ insisted on staying on the ride, but she really started freaking when it started going backward. This thing really went way too fast for kids who are only supposed to be 36" tall. After the ride, I asked her if it was scary. "Yes." Was it fun? "Yes." Which was it, more scary or more fun? "It was half-and-half!" But was it worth it? "Yes!" Good enough.

100_6785 Lastly, we found the Family Speedway to use up our remaining tickets. Here's my sweet Sophia buckled next to me.

100_6786 I held my camera over my head and managed to snap this one of Rob and Jack in the car behind us. What about Chloƫ? Again, we couldn't ride two kids with one parent, so one of the ride operators agreed to drive her around so we could all go at once! This was the funnest ride, the five of us chasing each other around the track. Chlo was speeding, while Rob and I were stuck in pokey little putters.

100_6787I had just a few dollars in my wallet, so I decided the kids could play one easy game before we left. Each of them could pick up a floating ducky and see what prize they could pick from the letter on the bottom. Easy peasy. I don't know why Chloƫ chose the Incredible Hulk, as she has no idea who he is!

100_6788 A beach ball for the very sleepy-by-this-point Sophia


Jack, of course, chose this airplane. It's his new favorite toy.

It was definitely time to go after that. They'd been out all day and had no naps or rest of any kind.

100_6793 Sophia was practically asleep before we left the parking lot. But we had one more stop before home: Chloƫ and Jack had both been clamoring for a hot dog at the park, but we had coupons each of them had received from their respective schools for a free kids' meal at Jason's Deli for various achievements.

After getting their hot dog meals there, we headed home. Normally our little piggy, Sophie had no interest in food, so Rob brought her right up to bed. She was out again before he shut the door. So sweet. I love that I still have a baby in the house. I gave the kids their meals, and they went to down, devouring dog, pickle, chips and chocolate milk. Not bad for free!

Oh, and in the mail, I got a package from MIL: BoxTops and soup labels for the kids' schools, a fun book for each of the kids, a Wind in the WIllows DVD, and  - yay yay yay - my first pattern to try and sew! It's a dress I can make for both girls if I want. I can't wait to take Rob to the store to get my fabric and "notions"! Fun, fun!! Thanks, Mom!

Tomorrow will be another fun, busy day, but for now, I'm going to go see if I can talk Rob into watching a movie with me. I think it will be This Film is Not Yet Rated.


The Next Picasso?

News from Erin, who won the Jafra Microdermabrasion Kit in the last Bloggy Giveaway: "It has been almost three weeks since the Microdermabrasion tool came in the mail, and I absolutely love it! It makes my skin feel so clean and soft. I'm really happy with how easy to use it is, with stellar results. I would definitely recommend the tool to anyone looking into microdermabrasion. Very gentle yet very effective."

That's great to hear, Erin! I'm glad you're enjoying it so well!

Today I caught up with an old friend for a while, online. She has five kids. Three are the same ages as mine, and then she has another one on each end. Madness! That sort of thing inspires me. If she can keep her wits about her, then surely I can manage with my brood. Right? Right?

100_6714 Afterward, I decided to break out the sponge paints and let Sophia go to town. She really enjoyed it! She had a great 'process'; you can see a cute video of her painting here.

100_6715 Except, instead of sponge painting, Soap decided it should be finger - no, hand - painting. And body painting.

100_6716 While she painted, I sat next to her and made some more cheesy Italian bread. It's really annoying when it gets up under those fake nails, you know? I actually can't stand fake nails, which is why I haven't gotten them done since the one time I treated myself for graduating from college. But they look better than my regular puny ones, and so, like my wicked stepmother always said, "It hurts to be beautiful."

Not that I'm calling myself beautiful. I'm just sayin'.

100_6717 Sophia was very happy with all her works of art. Including her tummy. She wanted to hang them right on the fridge. I encouraged her to wait until they were dry.

100_6719 While she was finishing up, the UPS man showed up at my door with yet another package! I love packages. This time, it was what I had ordered from a late-night informercial (I assure you that was the very first time I had done that, and we were in the market to buy one anyway!): My new Kodak EasyShare all-in-one photo printer! It's still sitting next to the deep freezer, in the box, because I am a wimp and can't lift it out, and Rob is konked out somewhere in this mansion we call home.  I'll have to show you a picture of it in its new home maƱana, but it looks like this.

I can't wait to start printing all my pictures at home, for scrapbooking. Yay! No more waiting! And I can resize at will, instead of being stuck cropping all my 4x6es down and not having any large focal pictures. I'm so excited.

We went upstairs to clean up and get me a shower after that, and dudes, my hair was seriously coming out in clumps! In CLUMPS, I tell you! Isn't that another sign of an autoimmune disorder? I really ought to go in for that referral.

When Jack came home from school, we took our BOGOF coupon to Subway and picked up a couple of tuna subs for lunch, and one for dinner, and came home to eat. Man, those kids chowed! I'm surprised at how much they ate, especially Jack. He really wolfed it down. 

Then they were cranky and whiny when Chloƫ came home, as was she, so it was time for real, actual naps. They went right upstairs and to sleep, so it was a good call. 100_6720The bread was ready after that, and I waited while it cooled down enough to eat. Very impatiently. It smelled delicious. But, man, it tasted even better. Best bread I've ever made, hands down. It had the perfect texture. I really wish I could share it with you. I'm telling you, with this bread, I'm putting Panera out of business!

Then I took a nap. A very long nap. When I woke up, it was in the middle of Grey's Anatomy. Do you watch that? Wasn't it a good ending? Yay, Meredith and Derrick!! Woohoo for smoochies!

And now, my friends, I am going to Disneyworld. Not really. But I did update the Europe blog some more today. Keep checking back, I'll update it a lot more frequently now!


You Can Ring My Bell

Well, well, well - guess who was the only person on time to the bus stop this morning? That's right, c'est moi! Everyone else was rushing up as the bus came barrelling toward us. Don't know what's up with that, but at least we didn't have to run! I do not run.

I was really out of it today, just very loopy from going off one med and going on another new one last night. I didn't feel well and certainly not well enough to drive, so we didn't go anywhere today while Barbara was here. I normally like to get out of her way - and go to our beloved Panera - but today we just sat in the living room, Sophie and I, reading stories, cuddling and laughing, and watching PBS kids. She loves her Super Why! Oh, shoot, I'd meant to do some finger painting with her today, but I forgot all about it by the time Barbara left.

Say it with me: Perhaps tomorrow!

The mail was muy excelente today. Mr. Postman brought all my new clothes that I ordered for the cruise just a few days ago! Best of all, everything fits or, the holy grail for a big fattie like me, was too big!! I got bunches of stuff: a raincoat, three sexy nighties (although "sexy" really isn't the word when you have my physique, IMO), lots of pants/capris and tops, and a bathing suit. All the outfits work well together and will be suitable for our 9 "smart casual" nights at dinner. For formal nights, I think I'm just going to go with the new clothes I bought for ChloĆ«'s trip to iPOP! in January. Gowns, I just don't see it right now. And Rob has a nice suit, so I think we're all sit. Although his may need to be tailored; I forget... hokay, I'm babbling now. It's cruise time, very nearly, and I'm getting so excited!


I also received this Bloggy Giveaway prize - a bottle of 'exclusive Central Park green' (more like diarrhea green) m&m's, along with a Statue of Liberty m&m dispenser. The kids, naturally, adored this prize and were acting like total nutballs after many pulls on Lady Liberty's right hand to dispense the gut-green treats. More pictures of that to come. The m's tasted all right despite looking like something you might emit after eating too many of them.

The sender of this prize also went on the CARE Package website and ordered a rainbow scarf from me for his daughter, so I need to get to Michael's and buy some fuzzy yarn for that. I'm kind of tired of those scarves and might just take that page off the site, since it's the first one I've sold in about two years!


And I got this Bloggy Giveaway prize, a totebag that reads "Taking Back Countrol," from a website that helps rape survivor, of which I am one. Twice over. So it's not a bad trade-off, eh? I get a bag for it. (Total sarcasm there... although I do love my totes! Can't have enough totes for my groceries!)

100_6713 And thirdly, this Bloggy Giveaway prize came: a set of scenic notecards! I already used one tonight. Love me some notecards!

And I also got a thank-you note from CHKD (the children's hospital) for all the packages we recently donated. That goes into my special file for such things, which I'll have to carefully review when deciding whether to shut down the operation!

Oh, yeah, so I was lying on the couch with Sophie, with my eyes shut, when she reaches her finger into my mouth and deposits something on my tongue. What the?? I pulled it out, and it's her great big booger! In my mouth! Gotta love being a mother to a toddler.

We all took long naps in the afternoon/evening, including Rob and Bounce (the bunny) together on the living room floor. Bounce, of course, didn't stay put and woke me up with all his scrabbling behind the couch.

100_6707 Pretending they're not in the silliest mood ever

100_6708The kids were snuggled up together on the couch, fooling around, snuggling, being goofballs. See  video of that here. They make me laugh!

100_6709 Photographer Chloƫ insisted on taking some pictures after that. She took this one of Jack doing I-don't-know-what!

100_6710 She also took this one of sweet Sophia singing a song to herself.

100_6712 Not to be left off the blog, Chlo took this self-portrait. Not bad, eh?

All right, I'm off to order some naughty things for my husband for our trip. What, you thought I wouldn't tell you that, after showing his peener to my cleaning lady?!


Something You Should Never Do

It's just a suggestion, but when you lend your husband your camera so he can take some shots of the kids and his new car and what-have-you, and he decides to be cute and take a picture of his penis for you to find later, don't save it as the background on your desktop because you admire it so much.

Because, you never know when your cleaning lady will be standing there talking to you, and Internet Explorer will decide to shut down all the windows, and there you'll be, with a larger-than-life weenus right behind your head, in all its glory.




I'm stilll laughing... (on the inside!)


The Gods Must Be Crazy

Okay, it looks like Typepad has totally revamped its posting software, so who knows how this is going to turn out?

100_6685 The middle panel of my stripey blanket - finished at last! Onto the third and last panel. Whew. It's the blanket that never ends. I'm really loving the color play in this panel. It's working for me!

So after I woke up early this morning, I decided to grab a shower to officially start my day. I rarely shower first thing in the morning anymore, even though it used to be my must-do to get the day jumping. And it worked. I was ready for the day. Note to self: do that more often.

ChloĆ« and I went to the bus stop and were greeted by, as you read, the smokin' grandpa of two little girls with whom we wait. So annoying.

I came home and fiddled around online for a little while until Jack joined me, and we shared a nice breakfast together. He was smiling and in a good mood, which made me happy in turn. Then while he played downstairs, I went up and started in on the mounds of clean laundry that needed folding and put away. I only got through about two or three loads before it was time to get back downstairs and put him on the busl though. Still haven't made it back up to finish, but I plan to after this...

Once Jack was in school and Sophie had  had her breakfast, we jumped in the car and headed to the post office to get some one-cent stamps. On the way there, we had a redeux of this incident: my mirror fell off the side of the van again. Augh! Irritating. Oh well, at least the temporary voodoo Rob put on it lasted almost two months. A man stopped at the P.O. to try and  help me, but he had no luck either.  You never know how much you depend on that thing until you don't have it.

100_6686 Afterward, on a whim, I decided to get my nails done. I wanted a (yes, fake) French manicure for the cruise. I know, I have fat little sausage fingers. And yes, I know, it's more than a month 'til we leave, but I wanted to have plenty of time to get used to them so I wasn't stuck preoccupied with my stupid nails and enjoying myself less than I should be, y'know? I didn't realize it was going to take more than an hour and a half! Sophia was so patient and sweet while she waited all that time, and she was rewarded with a little bonus manicure of her own:


So pretty, so cute! Both her sister and her brother were jealous of her little treat when they came home and saw her cherry-read nails, so we'll have to rectify that situation for them when we get a chance. Jack keeps asking for green nailpolish, which I don't have, but maybe we can find some!

While we were at the nail salon, Sophie practically threw her dress over her head and shouted for the entire room, "Hey, I need to fix my panties!!" and all the techs (and I) laughed. Silly girl. No modesty there.

After Chloƫ put her leotard on, we headed out to her ballet class just as the first fat raindrops were starting to plunk down around the van. I love fat raindrops like that. Little did I know... before we left our neighborhood, the thunder and lightning came and kept coming with no reprieve. The rain was pounding down around us, and it grew so dark the kids were in awe of how fast it became 'night time.' Chloƫped we wouldn't be "stroked" by lightning. They were all scared, especially the littlest one. She kept screaming when branches would fly around us. It was bad out there, especially with no side mirror!

The rain didn't let up once we got there, so I did something I've never done before: I left ChloĆ« there and drove the little ones home to get them out of the rain, hoping Rob would be far enough on his route home to pick Chlo up in time. I  never should have left. The rain was driving down now, and then once we hit the highway, we were hit with hundreds of humongous hailstones (how's that for alliteration?). Sophie was really scared then. I pulled up to the house and carried the babies in as fast as I could, sending them upstairs to get dry clothes. I never did reach Rob on time, so we ended up going right back out again 20 minutes later to get Big Sis. No nap for the Littles; oh well, they're sleeping great tonight.  The return trip was much better, and the rain even stopped by the time we came home again. But if you were on the Atlantic coast today, you know something must have upset ye gods above!

Man, it is a PITA to type with these nails on! I'm constantly backspacing...

OH!! I forgot my biggest news: We are not moving to Pensacola this fall. Repeat, NOT going to Pensacola. Sorry, Gail. :( Rob's request for that duty station wasn't granted. Someone else filled the bill. So now we have no idea where we'll be living come this time next year. There aren't a lot of favorable choices for shore duty. There's Jacksonville, FL, which means a lot of long hours for him. It's a possibility. And there's Maryland, which is... not south of here! I don't want to find us inching North even a little bit. There are some sea duty billets in Japan and Southern California, which means, der, he'll be away at sea and he's supposed to be coming off sea duty now. So he's going to wait two weeks and see what new billets come out then. We shall see.

100_6690 Anyway, after ballet, we decided to go out to a different Mexican restaurant for dinner. I'd redeemed some Coke Rewards points for a free $25 gift certificate earlier today, and I know the Bob is always up for some yummy Mexican food. As usual, Jack ate nothing but tortilla chips, Sophia and Chloƫ had quesadillas, and I had my vegetarian fare. Rob loved his. Mine was eh, okay, but I think I should've chosen a different entrƩe. For the record, I think potato enchiladas are nasty.

I took a short nap when we came home, while Chlo worked on her homework, the Littles played, and Rob worked on my mirror. I'm glad it wasn't longer, so I'll actually be able to sleep tonight. Maybe even with the CPAP on. I'm still trying with that damn thing.

All right, hasta maƱana.


Not Cool

I don't care who you are, I don't care how old you are or if you're the grandparent who rarely gets to see their grandkids and you're excited to walk them to the bus stop, but... it's totally uncool to come to the bus stop smoking a cigarette. I mean, COME ON!!!

Do you really need all those children to be breathing in your foul, toxic smoke?

Do you really need to show all those children your lousy addiction?

Can you really not go that five minutes without your precious nicotine fix?

It sickens me. And now I have that nasty taste in my mouth and the horrible cigarette headache I get when exposed, too. Must we expose our children at the most innocent of times as well? Look at me, I can't even think of a synonym for "expose"!


I didn't post last night because I'm in Trileptal withdrawal and passed out early on the couch. I thought I'd be waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, but I actually slept through the night. Well, I woke up at 0600, and I consider that sleeping through. The sun was up, after all, and for a split second I worried that I'd overslept.

Not that I had a ton to say, anyway.

I did update the Europe blog a little, though. It's countdown time! I'm excited!

Catch y'all later. I have five full laundry baskets upstairs, calling my name. Maybe I'll actually heed the call for once.


What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?

100_6664 Er, not exactly good looking. Rob snapped this picture of me fresh off the couch from napping, bra-free and everything, as I set to work cooking dinner. Normally I don't share pictures of myself, but I felt like throwing caution to the wind tonight.

100_6665 Sophia in happy anticipation of being fed dinner - is it bad luck to wear a raincoat indoors?

100_6670 So what do we have? First, some of the new potatoes are set to boilin'.

100_6671 Rob's littleneck clams in water and a little bit of butter

100_6672 My sea scallops sautƩing in just a little bit of butter and their own juices

100_6673 Every single clam opened up from the 50-count bag! Usually we get a few duds. There were two more plates full after this. I wanted to give my Bob a clam feast tonight.

100_6674 The girls (or Jack, natch) wouldn't try a single little bite of my scallops. Too bad for them; they were cooked to perfection and tasted absolutely wonderful dipped in a small bowl of butter. Yum. (Obviously my goal was not plated artistry here.)

100_6675 Such a huge mound of clams, and not a single pearl. Chloƫ checked.

100_6677 The baby red potatoes were cooked to just the right degree and tasted faboo with some butter and sea salt.

100_6676A little something to wash it all down with. This was a little bit too drinkable, because I quickly chugged down two glasses and then went upstairs, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and ralphed up my entire dinner, clogging up the sink and forcing Rob to use a wrench, a plunger, and... aren't you glad I didn't take a picture of all that?

In knitting news, I stayed up practically all night working on the stripey blanket and am in the final section of sixes before I'm done with the middle panel. I thought I'd have it done to show you tonight, but I got a little sidetracked with the pukey business.

Dollar_tree And finally, the Dollar Tree ad is finally out! Did you get it in your Sunday paper today? Look and see and let me know if Sophia's in your paper, too - I want to know if it's national or what! Sophie's the middle child here, with pink glasses on. You can tell the bathing suit is too small, but apparently they didn't care! I thought there were going to be a couple more pictures of her in it, but hey, at least she got paid a little sumpin (Jackspeak) for her college account! And does she not just have the cutest little thighs? Oh, so squeezy; I just love them.

That's about all from today. Tomorrow I was supposed to take Soap in for her three-year check-up, but someone from the office called me and told me I'd have to reschedule. Soooo we have nothing on our agenda but folding lots and lots of laundry. Fun times. Have a great week!


Ain't Misbehaving

Ain't doin' much else, neither.

Rob's schedule was way off for working overnight last night.

My schedule was way off for being sick, and for staying up waiting for the Man.

The kids didn't care that it was Saturday.

We didn't mesh well today as a family. Nothing much happened. The kids played with every single toy in the living room - which throws off my system to get rid of things they haven't played with in a while - while we parents kind of lolled about.

The funniest thing that happened today was when Sophia pulled up my shucked-off capri pants to her neck, then wrapped the extra folds around herself and walked around, saying she was cold. Hey, whatever keeps you warm, baby. Mommy's gigunda pants and all.

I cooked the other set of four crab cakes for dinner tonight, and Sophia again inhaled much of ours seemingly without tasting. The big kids were upstairs at the time. I fell asleep shortly after, so I'm only vaguely aware that Rob cooked pasti for them for dinner.

After bedtime, I woke up and we watched No Country For Old Men. Holy moly, what a violent, stressful movie to watch. I knit faster when I'm stressed, so at least I got a lot done on the stripey blanket. I'm on the section of eights, which means nothing to no one but me.

Maybe tomorrow we'll actually accomplish something of note? I rather doubt it, though. When there's nothing marked down on the Palm T|X, we tend to do exactly that.


The Itchy & Scratchy Show

Yesterday's episode is late because I fell asleep shortly after Rob left to go back to work at 9 PM. The kids went down for bed, Rob had to go stand overnight watch, and I had planned on an evening of movies and knitting. Well, no sooner did I sit down than I was dreaming, and I didn't wake up until some hair regrowth informercial started blaring from my TV at 0400. I'm covered in hives, my hands and knees are huge and swollen, my eyes are bleary... and here I am, looking so pretty just for you.

Friday was a day full of futile pursuits. I nearly - but not quite - ruined my perfect record for the week of getting the kids to school on time. I woke up late this morning, with just ten minutes before Chloƫ had to be on the bus. We raced into some clothes and shoes and shot down to the corner just in time. Then I went back to sleep on the couch, after being up until at least 4 AM the night before because... I'm like that.

But then, I woke up five minutes after Jack's bus normally stops at our house, and I ran to the front door just in time to see it returning in the opposite direction from which it came. Gah. Jack was ready to go, so I had him go wake up his sister, and we jumped in the van to head to his school. We were there fifteen minutes before his bus arrived and had to wait for his teacher to come out and get him, but he was on time! We made it. Whew.

So Soap and I headed home for breakfast, some piddling around, and a shower.  She had her usual 18 bananas for breakfast. Girl can eat some nanner.

We headed to the Navy base clinic so I could see about getting my shots for the trip to Europe. I have a long list I need to get, because I was never vaccinated against anything in childhood. I did get a tetanus shot in college after a particularly nasty sunburn, and I had to get the MMR for grad school, but that's all I've had. So we picked up my medical record and went to Immunizations.

After waiting an eternity, during which Sophia "read" every book in the waiting room about five times each (which consisted of her flipping through the book and saying, "Once upon a time, {mumble, mumble, mumble}, The End!"), we were taken to the back. I was given the third degree about why I wanted these shots, where was my shot record, why haven't I received them before, who told me I needed these, blah blah blah. Finally, I was told there was a special travel clinic at the Naval hospital in Portsmouth, and I needed to go there to get my shots. UGH! Why not just tell me that in the first place?

We managed to get home just three minutes before Jack's bus arrived, thank goodness. I had forgotten my cell phone and had no way to ask the neighbors to watch for them in case we were late. I timed myself to make sure we left with plenty of time to get home, but there was a big accident on the return. Anyway, we made it.

I buckled Jack in, and our next stop was to the bank to see about exchanging some money into Euros for the trip. I know it's a bit early, but I wanted to find out about doing that, and getting traveler's cheques, with plenty of time to keep an eye on the exchange rates. The man I entered with was particularly chivalrous about holding the doors open for me and the Littles, and then letting me go first in line, and he was amused about their antics during the long wait. Not so much, I. They, like most kids, have this instant attraction to the containment rope-thingies; fortunately, for once, they didn't knock any down.

Well, I didn't get any Euros. Turns out you can only get them at the airport nowadays, not at the bank. After waiting so long and stressing about the time in order to get back for Chloƫ (shoulda left her a note! She can read now, after all!), I completely forgot to ask about the cheques. Oh well, there's plenty of time.

Turns out Chloƫ's bus was late, and we beat her home by a few minutes as well. In fact, I turned the car around and drove to her bus stop to wait at least five minutes before they showed up. She was very surprised to find me there waiting like that, and the fifth graders were so sweet in helping her across the street safely. Our fifth graders are all Safety Patrol members, so I guess it's just second nature to them to help the small fry.

Off we went for our weekly trip down to the Farmer's Market. On the way there, I remembered a radio commercial I'd heard for birthday parties at the Hunt Club Farm, so I asked Chloƫ where she might want to have her 7th birthday party. It's her "golden" birthday, which we may or may not make a big deal of. Have you heard of this, this "golden" birthday business? I never did until a couple of years ago, and Rob never did until today. Apparently it's a big deal to turn the age of your birth date, and Chloƫ will be 7 on the 7th this year, so... this is it. I don't know exactly what one is supposed to do, so we shall see.

Well, after I asked her, her response was, "Hmm, why don't we go to China for my birthday?" Ahahaha! China! Yes, that's exactly what we'll do, we'll all hop a jet to China for a 7th birthday in lavish style. Yes, yes.

After informing her that this was not going to come to pass, she decided she might like Build-a-Bear instead. And then for her eighth, Gymboree. (Huh? Too old, dear.) And then for her ninth... "Wait a minute! We're not even going to be here for your ninth birthday, my love, and aren't we getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves?" I laughed.

Down at the Market, I parked across from Uncle Chuck the Fishmonger's shack, and there was no sign of the always-charming Uncle Chuck. Instead, there was Young Niece So-and-So. "Where's Uncle Chuck?" I asked. I guess he had the nerve to go on vacation! I looked at the menu of goodies for this week and picked out eight very nice-looking crabby patties, a pound of ocean scallops for moi, and a bag of littleneck clams for the Bob. Yum.

We packed our fishies into the van and then headed to our favorite produce stand. The kids kept calling out what they wanted. "Apples! Watermelon! Strawberries!" So we picked out each of those, along with more red new potatoes and some delicious-looking sugar snaps. "What are those?" Jack asked. "Beans," the man told him. "What's inside there? Peas?" Chloƫ wanted to know. Yes. Inside beans are peas. That's how it works! Everything looked so fresh and inviting, I couldn't wait to get home and cook up some grub.

Daddy was home when we arrived, a little early because of having to go back in just a few hours. Yay! After seven-plus years, it's still always a thrill to see his car in the driveway when I come home. He came out and helped unbuckle kids and carry in our packages, and smooched the wife. Everyone was in a great mood, and we were all salivating over the fresh food.

100_6641 100_6642

While the huge crab cakes cooked up in some EVOO, the children dove into their apples. Really crisp, sweet apples at that stand. So good. But when the crab cakes were finished a few minutes later, the girls quickly abandoned their fruit in favor of the jumbo lump goodness. Jack had no interest in the crab cakes, as usual, so he just danced around shout-singing, "Strawberry Shortcake! Strawberry Shortcake! I want Strawberry Shortcake! Strawberry Shortcake!" over and over and over.100_6644

We gave Chloƫ her own crabcake, and she ate about a quarter of it before passing it to the two of us. Not because she didn't love it - she did - but she is teeny-tiny and has an appetite to match!

100_6643_2 With Sophia, we just fed her off our plates, and we should have given her the whole patty. She ate at least that much and loved every bit of it. Oh well, we'll figure our kids out eventually!

100_6645 After we finished the crab cakes, I set to work hulling the strawberries. I bought three quarts instead of two this time, because it looks like they are already starting to turn, and I wanted to get in as much as I could before then. I'll have to buy them from the grocery soon. Rats. I could barely keep any cut-up strawberries in the bowl for the kids to eat; they ate almost the entire quart without blinking. I had to sneakily pop a few in my own mouth to get any, and I think Robert was lucky enough to score one, too!

100_6647 The second and third quarts, I sliced up and sugared for the strawberry shortcake. The kids, especially Jack, were going gonzo thinking about that! We decided apples, strawberries and crab were enough for dinner, so we popped in the special movie I ordered for them from Netflix to give the strawberry syrup time to set up.

100_6648 While Rob was setting up the movie, the kids were in a silly-goose mood! Jack finally attempted one of the sugar snaps, although he didn't end up actually eating it. The girls and we ate a bunch of them raw, though. They were so sweet and tasty!

100_6651 You can see Sophia is starting to tower over her older bro!

100_6652 Modeling her sunglasses from the Dollar Tree photo shoot (the ad comes out on Sunday - don't forget to pick one up and look for Sophie!) and remembering to pose with her hands on hips, Sopapilla looks exactly like what her shirt says - Cute.

100_6653 What sibling rivalry??

100_6654 Chloƫ's turn to be in the middle - but Sophia has to pull all those curls up out of the way and mars the picture!

We watched Bee Movie, the Jerry Seinfeld-created flick, together as a family. Eh, it was entertaining enough. The kids sat through it for the most part, especially Chlo. Sophia came over to me and admitted to being tired and wanting to go to bed at some point during the movie, and I asked Daddy to bring her upstairs, but then she started sobbing about her strawberry shortcake. Poor baby, torn between sleep and food. In the end, Daddy just cuddled her on the couch until it was time for yummies.

100_6655 Sophia contemplates the enormous dessert I set in front of her. She doesn't even know where to begin! Normally I only give them half a shortcake, with half as much strawberries and cream, but they were so antsy about it tonight, I thought I'd let them go to town. And they sure did! But none of them finished, so back to halvesies it is.

100_6660 Jack kept wanting more whipped cream on his, so Daddy got silly and decided to pour it directly into his mouth. We all thought this was pretty hilarious - especially the greedy boy!


Good times. Good times.

Right after that, the kids went to bed and Rob left for work. But now it's 0534 on Saturday morning, and he should be on his way home anytime now! I can't wait to see him walk in the door, looking all cute in uniform.

{Confidential to Stephanie-Canada: You're in my prayers, dear! I can't wait until you return...}

Until tonight, my dears.


Pookatello, Pookatello

100_6639 The second panel of my stripey blanket is coming along now. The first two times I knit this blanket, it seemed to fly much faster than this one is. Now it seems like it's dragging on and on forever.  I think I'm going to stick with it for a while, at least to the end of this panel.

So my shrink paid me a visit at home today. No, I wasn't having any mental crises - she came to pick up the 36 packages for the hospital. It was weird having her here. I've said it before, we could totally be friends outside of our therapeutic relationship. We shot the breeze, talked about the kids and the Farmer's Market and strawberries (note to self: go see Uncle Chuck tomorrow), and then she was off before the school buses started coming to hamper her escape.

The big kids came home from school shortly thereafter, and I quickly got everyone's teeth brushed for their visit to the dentist. We had but five minutes, so I knew I was going to get some comments from the dentist, and I surely did - but mostly about their thumbsucking. It's a hard habit to break, for sure, and we try. But I sucked my thumb until I was nine! I know that if they want to suck their thumbs, there's not a whole lot I can do about it.

It was Sophie's first time in the dentist chair. I thought, being the brute that she is, she would be the bravest one and take her treatment like a tramp. Er, champ! :O But no, she started wailing as soon as he began to raise the chair. He tried to calm her down, but she wouldn't have it. She was skeered. So he let her go without touching her, and that was that. He doesn't push it; he wants little kids to have a good view of the dentist. So far, it works. My big kids love going, even though Jack had a similar first visit.

After that, it was Brownies time.  I have officially come down with the cold whose existence I've been denying all week, so I didn't feel like sticking around. The bitties and I just dropped her off, and we went back home to chill for an hour. When we returned, all the girls were waiting outside with the moms, who were chatting. Normally I'm over there with them, so they all kind of looked at me quizzically as I scooped up my Biggun, waved, and drove off!

They probably just think I have quite the busy little life.

Nah. I sent everyone upstairs for quiet time, and I zonked on the couch myself. I think Rob woke me to tell me something when he came home, but I can't for the life of me remember what. And now he's passed out upstairs, Jack hasn't gotten his shot, and it's garbage and recycling night. Guess I better go get busy.... waking him up, what'd you think, I was going to do it?!


My Mental Block

I always feel like I should be doing lots of crafty little things with the kids, especially Sophia who is home with me all the time. But I have had this block against doing so for the longest time, and I know why: I hate crap. I hate making things just for the sake of making them, when they are not useful and functional and cannot be kept for long periods of time. What is the point of making some paper thing or some thing that is just going to be torn up and recycled in two days? I'd rather make stuff with the kids that can actually be used, like Christmas ornaments or something.

So if anyone has any suggestions for such a toddler-friendly activity, please do let me know! I know she would enjoy it, and I would feel so much more like participating.