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September 2009

Entries from August 2009

Sunday Stealing

I'm playing along again. Link up here if you are, too!

what are your most common nicknames?

A lot of people call me Mel, which I hate. My dad calls me Mellie-Ann. My sister changed that to Smellyann. That's about it. (Well, Rob has some choice nicknames for me sometimes, but you're not privy to those...)

what is today's weather?

Hotter than blazes, I'm sure.

where did go on vacation this year?

Western & Central New York

what did you do there?

Visited my sister and nieces, and then visited my high school friends. It was great!

where did you stay?

First at my sister's, and then at a semi-decent hotel outside of Syracuse

what job do you do?

First and foremost, I am a stay-home mother. I also do a lot of mystery shopping, and I am the Director of a charity my husband and I founded. Right now, I'm applying to be a substitute teacher since my youngest is going to all-day school this year.

describe where you live.

I like it a lot. We're 15-20 minutes from a really nice oceanfront. It's a bit military community, so we get lots of nice perks and discounts for that (hubs is in the Navy). There are a ton of family-friendly things to do. The only bad thing is the traffic, which can be hellish at times.

what do you usually do on weekends?

No one thing. We always do different things. Sometimes we swim, sometimes we vegetate, and I usually do a lot of mystery shops. Right now there are a lot of scouting activities going on for our son, and September will bring more for our older daughter.

what food hits your 'bliss spot'?

Duh! Chocolate. Although I can't eat it anymore, so a very close second is hummus. I love the hummus.

what drink really does it for you?

I love my Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, yes I do.

describe the first friend that comes to your head.

Okay, it was Erin (surprised?), and I love her. She's very smart and knowledgeable about all things nature. She is kind and considerate, and she's very pretty. I think she gets lovelier the older she gets, and I'm so fortunate that we have rekindled our friendship these last five years!

what was the last restaurant you went to?

Does Quiznos count? Then that.

where would you like to live if you had unlimited moneys and nothing stopping your dreams?

Well, our dream after hubs retires in four years is to sell our house, put our stuff in storage, take our kiddies and live on a houseboat. I will homeschool the children while he sails us around the world, giving them the childhood experiences beyond our wildest dreams.

what is the likeliness of you achieving this dream home?

I don't know. We've been talking about it a lot lately. It could really happen! We're going to go to a marina soon and look at some boats...

what do you like to do in your spare time?

Knit. Crochet. Scrapbook. Bake.

what's your favorite genre for TV programs?

I love sit-coms.

what's your favorite genre for music?

I like pop. Lame, I know, but I like it.

what's your favorite song that's sad?

"To Where You Are" by Josh Groban

what's your favorite soppy film?

Hmm. I like Steel Magnolias a lot. I don't know, though. I'm not good at picking favorites.

how about your favorite chick flick?

Aren't they the same thing?

what are you looking forward to at the moment?

School starting on my birthday! Best. Present. Ever.

what are you dreading at the moment?

Having to take out my nose ring if I do indeed sub teach.

how would you describe your personality?

A lot goofy, silly, often dirty, very nerdish and dorky, but in a fun-funny way. Rarely serious. Caring. Emotional. Prone to outbursts. Sarcastic and bitchy at times. Alla that.

if you had a personality eraser, what part of yours might you erase?

That sarcastic and bitchy part, maybe. A little sarcasm is okay, but mine can be very biting, and I don't like that, especially when it's directed to hubs and the chirren.

you are given $5000 to spend in 1 day, what do you do with it? remember, no limitations!

Right now, I would use it on clothes for all five of us, including the kids' sports gear. If there was anything left, yarn. (I'd want to spend it all on yarn, though!)

what is your biggest fear?

The death of another one of my children.


A Knitting Break


It's double-dollar time (or something, whatever) at Harris Teeter again this week, so I had a bunch of coupons laid out to get us some free or almost-free shit. The kids and I got up at the crack of dawn (okay, so it was more like 9 or 10) and set out for the grocery store to get the goods. I made out like a bandit: {and sorry for the crappish photos, but right now all I have is my iPhone :( }


I paid $20 for all that, getting over $65 in free stuff! The five cartons of ice cream alone were worth more than that! And I have more to get when I get the time. Coupons rock. Seriously. Use them.


We made it home just in time for the kids to consume half that stuff on the table up there (at least, so it seemed) and then head out to the park to meet Steph and her gang. Sophie found a bunch of boys squatting, looking at something, and ran over to see. She loves critters. Rob insists she's going to be a biologist some day. Wouldn't I be the proud one? Anyway, it was a toad, though she kept insisting it was a frog.  She was very disappointed when he finally hopped away. 

The rest of the park was fun; Steph and I chatted for like three hours while the kids played, running by all the time to get some water or a snack. We finally left so I could go home and get a quick shower before heading back out to Chesapeake for some Girl Scouts training.

Stephanie and I sat together at that training for the upcoming Fall Product program and giggled and made remarks throughout the thing. I think we earned a few dirty looks, but it was fun. Ish. And guess what? The Girl Scouts have lifted the ban against selling online! And guess what else? We'll be selling magazines - new subscriptions and renewals - as part of the Fall Product sale that starts on September 19th. That part of the sale (not the candy and nuts) will be entirely online, and no money changes hands, so let me know if you want to get in on that and support her troop! ;D

And Steph will be happy to know that when I got home, I worked on and finally finished this:


It's the first sleeve of her baby Luke's sweater, at last. I started it in New York, but my knitting mojo has all but left the building lately. I have less than one month to finish everything, so my goal is to knit for no less than one hour every day until her shower on the 20th to get it done. And yes, I know the sleeve (and everything else) is badly in need of blocking! I've already cast on and nearly finished the cuff for the second one, rest assured, so there will be no "Second Sock Syndrome" happening here.


So Friday, Rob didn't have to work, which was cool, but as is almost always the case when he gets a day off, he still had to go in. This time, it was just to medical to have his annual check-up and get shots and stuff. Still, we didn't see him until almost noon. But that's better than nothing, right?

He got home just in time to join us at the $1.75 movie theater (I'm not supposed to call it the dollar theater when it costs more than that, he says) with Stephanie and her gang of chirren, to see the movie Up!

Have you seen Up!? We missed the short at the beginning, and then I missed a lot of the movie near the beginning, because we were at Cinema Cafe and I was ordering our pizza lunch, so I'm dying to see it again. Steph and I both agreed that it was a keeper, one for which we'll have to buy the DVD when it's released. 

We parted ways after the movie ended, and we lounged around for a little while until it was time to go to the Cub Scout Campout. Only it wasn't a campout after all, because it rained, and they canceled that part. And, truth be told, it was kind of lame. I was expecting a lot more activity, but for the first hour, we did nothing but stand around and watch the kids chase each other (before the rain came). Rob and I mainly kept to ourselves, because no one but the Pack Leader and the cookie popcorn lady bothered to acknowledge us, and I ended up sitting on a stoop playing with my beloved iPhone. Ah, I love that thing. Have I mentioned that lately?


Sophie was very excited to find this little guy on a building. I immediately decided it was a moth, but Rob disagrees. I still say "moth," and most people seem to agree with me. So take that, Bobert! The poor thing had a torn wing.


Pretty cool-looking, no? She literally held on to that thing for two hours, if not more. She ran around showing everyone and didn't care that no one was quite as enthusiastic about her "pet bug" as she was. I have never seen this particular creature before, so I don't know what its name is, but no matter.


Meanwhile, the boys and some of their tagalongs sisters were listening to a presentation by a local canine Search and Rescue team. I had to sit and keep Sophie company from a distance, so I didn't get the greatest pictures of that. (She hasn't quite learned how to whisper yet, and she was very distracting!) Jack asked a million bazillion questions, like, "Can the dogs help find my missing toys?" It was hee-larious.


This here is Roxie, a female German Shepherd who happens to be much smaller than our own. She was amazing, finding items they would hide for her to find. It was lots of fun to watch; definitely the most exciting part of the night for me.

When they brought out the next dog, a bloodhound, the rain started to fall. I wasn't into that, so the girls and I ran to the van for cover. I had brought my knitting, so I sat in the van and worked on that for a while. The girls left me to go brave the sudden downpour and watch the dog trials, and then I noticed that everyone had disappeared. Rob texted me that they were now watching a movie, so I texted back telling him I was going home!

I wasn't there very long, just long enough to harvest my crops on Farmville (hehe, it's a Facebook game, and I am addicted) and shuck my clothes off to take a shower, before he texted me to come back and get them. Bah. So I put my clothes back on and went back.

The kids came home, had some dinner, and went to bed. Then Linda from Bunco came over at 2300 to babysit while Rob and I went out on a mystery shopping date. This time it was for a moonlight cruise up and down the Elizabeth River, from 12:30 - 2:30 AM. Nice, right?


The stern of the Spirit of Norfolk


Part of the Norfolk city skyline in the middle of the night. It's not that exciting. The cruise was okay. I had to work, and we don't dance, so we really didn't partake of the club atmosphere going on down on the lower deck. We had some of the crappy food, and then the rest of the time was spent at the various bars, ordering drinks and evaluating... stuff. But we always enjoy each other's company on these dates, and so it was a nice night out for good conversation. I'm glad we went.

We got home around 0300, and Rob immediately fell asleep. Linda talked my ear off for another hour, until I basically kicked her out so I could get some sleep! Love her, but she is a loquacious one!


Saturday, of course, we were exhausted, but the kids got up around 0830. Rob stayed asleep, so it was all me. Grumpily, I got up, made sure they had some breakfast, and pretty much just fooled around on Farmville until 1100, when it was time to wake him up to go to a noon Show and Sell with Jack to sell popcorn.

He was hungover still, and he wanted to cancel, but I wouldn't let him. So the girls and I drove the boys to Dick's at Lynnhaven Mall to sell and then picked them up two hours later when it was over. I guess they did well, I don't know. In the meantime, the girls played up in their room, leaving me to do something I absolutely should not have done: I opened a tin of Boy Scout popcorn - the mud puddles, which is very chocolatey and for which I was having an intense craving - and ate at least a good-sized handful. Oh, man. No time at all passed before I was on the couch dumping like crazy! 

I was still dumping when it was time to get the boys, so that wasn't a fun drive at all. I could barely speak. I couldn't get home fast enough!

After that, I needed a nap, since I often get Carb Coma (self-explanatory, I think) after a dumping session, so Rob covered me up and told me he was going to start packing up the living room. The floor guys are coming on Tuesday to do the living room, so it needs to be done NOW.

Little did I know, he'd turned on Noggin for the kids and fallen asleep himself. Argh. But let's not dwell on that...and no, he still hasn't done any packing, and it's now 12 hours later!

I woke up two hours later, and then I had to rush to get ready and go out for the five back-to-back compliance audits I needed to do at a well-known toasted sub shop. But not before I harvested some more on Farmville... hey, like I said, it's an addiction. And my farm rocks.

The audits went quickly, and I got them all done between 6-8 PM, bringing home some subs for everyone for dinner. I talked to my sister and my dad while I was out, apropos of nothing... Jack barely ate his turkey sub, but the girls ate a great dinner of tuna sub and chips. We haven't done anything all evening except fart around, playing with the kids, reading library books, and listening to them squeal and have a good time with each other.


So now, Sunday, is Rob's 37th birthday, and we've got nothing exciting planned. I will make him a plain chocolate cake, his very favorite. I gave him $6 in scratch-off tickets the other night. I took him on the moonlight cruise. We went to Ruth's Chris for dinner earlier in the month. He got a week off work. And I've given him $35 in gift cards to REI, with the promise of another $10 redemption for one from MyPoints very soon. And all that, he says, is enough. It will have to be, I'm afraid!

Have a spectacular week.


Saturday 9: Waiting


1. Have you ever stayed online for a very long time waiting for someone?

Yup. Sure have.

2. How do you eat oreos?

I don't.

3. Are you cocky?

Not anymore. I used to be, about my smarts, but not so much anymore. It doesn't much matter when you're a stay-home mom...

4. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid?

No, I never did.

5. What TV station do you watch the most?

Noggin, and I'm sick of it!

6. Have you ever seen the ocean?

Psht. I've lived in Miami, Guam and now Virginia Beach, and I grew up going to the Jersey Shore every summer. I must be near the ocean!

7. Have you ever been hospitalized?

More than half a dozen times

8. What's your favorite brand of root beer?

I don't know, I haven't had them all.

9. Could you live without a computer?

Maybe, but I sure wouldn't like it! I don't know how we did it before there was one in (almost) every house!


Friday Fragments


Make sure to link up with Mrs.4444 if you're fragmenting today!

☼ A conversation between Rob (husband) and Jack (6½) a few days ago:

R, finding a mess in the kitchen: "Who did this?!!"

J: "Sophia"

R: "Jack, why do you always blame Sophia?"

J: "Um... because she did it!"

Hahaha, it's probably true...

☼ I gave Rob a few scratch-off tickets for his birthday, since he really likes them but I don't like to waste the money. Sophia, observing, asked me, "Mommy, why do you have to wiggle quarters all around the paper?"

☼ It bothers me when people can't say a simple "thank you" for the things, small and larger, that I do. I'm not looking for recognition everywhere I go and with everything I do, but dammit, a little "thank you" goes a long way. You don't have to write a note or anything, just... say it! I will remember if you do. And I will remember if you don't.

This post had me bawling the other night. I will never, ever, ever, ever stop hurting over the fact that we didn't get to see our twins together in the same space, that we didn't get their picture taken together. If I had but one picture of Jack and Robby in the same shot - other than that first tiny ultrasound pic, of course - I would cherish it forever and always. Hope these parents realize how lucky they are...

And that's all I've got for this week. Have a happy weekend!


Aloha Friday


Aloha Friday is the day that Hawaiians take it easy, so Kailani at Island Life created this carnival to relax and take it easy on blogging. Make sure to link up with her if you're playing along. My question for you this week is:

Do you eat dinner together as a family?

We really don't anymore, now that I've had gastric bypass and can't eat what everyone else eats. I don't want to watch them eating what I'm not allowed! It kind of stinks and I miss it, but there it is.Your turn!


I've Had Better

So Wednesday wasn't a major thrill. There's nothing much to say about the daytime. The kids made messes, I got mad, they made more messes, I got madder, big whoop.

In the afternoon, I sent them upstairs to clean (and they made it muuuuch worse, what the heck??) so I could get a little break. Rob came home early, shortly after that, so I took a nap. I shouldn't have; it's now 0427 and I can't sleep... but the nap was good.

In the evening, we got up to do a mystery shop at a well-known pizza buffet place. They did a piss-poor job, but the kids ate well and that's what matters. I probably ate more pizza than I should have - I don't know why Oscar the Pouch lets more pizza in than other foods, and it's good but not so good - but I didn't get sick.

On the way home, the children and I had a grand discussion about gravity and the moon and the tides and why we can't ever go to the sun. And then we saw a truck spraying for mosquitoes and we talked some more about man's role on this Earth and how we need to be careful stewards of our environments. It was a good conversation.


I fell asleep and forgot to finish this post! More later.



I wish I had all kinds of fun pictures to share with you from today or yesterday, but (a) my camera is still AFU and (b) we haven't really done anything photo-worthy anyway.

Yesterday, my daycare kids never showed up! My sister, I think, is more pissed about this development than I am. She asked me, "Did you call the mother up and chew her out?" I said, "Nah. What would I even say?" She replied, " For starters, that you changed the whole week of your vacation in New York so that you would be home in time to start watching her kids, missing the whole State Fair thing that you wanted to do. You drove home for twelve hours and arrived at ten o'clock at night so that you would be able to get up in time for her to arrive at 7:00 am in the summertime, and she never showed up!!"

Oh, yeah. That.

But no, I wasn't too upset about it. I was relieved. Now I don't feel bad about not wanting to watch her kids, if she's going to be a flake. I'm free to do as I please, getting a sub job or whatever. It's all good. And though I did get up at 0700, I went right back to sleep until after 10 when the kids finally rolled out of their beds!

So except for a couple of "revealed" fast food mystery shops (which meant I had to get off my arse and actually take a shower and be presentable so I could talk to the managers) in the afternoon, I mostly took the day off from all the running we did in Upstate NY last week. I was barely productive. I didn't read. I didn't knit. I didn't even catch up on blogs. I vegetated, and so did the kids.

Today, Tuesday, I was determined to get more done. And I did, a bit, though I had an upset tum for much of the time.  The kids again let me sleep 'til about 10, which was fan-flipping-tastic. Then I balanced the checkbook, folded two baskets of laundry, sorted and tried on and refolded and re-sorted the absolutely ginormous bag of girls' clothes that my sister bestowed upon my daughters from her own kids' smaller days, cleaned the downstairs bathroom, cleaned the kitchen, swept the hair and crap off the office floor, and unwound all my good yarn from the office chair that Sophie had wrapped around it before we left.

I was on a total rampage.

So it was with some major annoyance that I surveyed the living room, which is still half-packed, half-carpeted, and completely wood floor-less. The office floor was put down on July 9th, people!!

I implored my husband to please help me get this floor finished and our house put back together by the time the kids go to school in two weeks. Now that I think about it, that's a total joke. But wouldn't it be nice for them to go back to school - and homework - in a relatively normal, peaceful, put-together home??

He doesn't seem to mind. It's driving me effing ca-razy!!

This evening, in between bouts of playing Farmville on Facebook (totally addicting!), I managed to viciously slash through 75% of the 1,000 blogs that were stacked up in my Google Reader during my weeklong absence. A thousand! Y'all were prolific last week!

As for the other 250 posts, I'll try and slog through them while I get some knitting done tonight. I did not manage to do any work on the sleeve while we were in Syracuse (Erin, Lisa, y'all exhausted the Mel), so it's back to work I go if I have ANY chance of getting the outfit done before the shower.

Oh! And I finished reading the last third of my library book today, Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns. Oh, my gosh, y'all. You must read this wrenching, moving, heartbreaking tale. (Again I can't underline without underlining the whole paragraph, so sorry for the punctuation sticklers out there!) I don't want to give anything away, so suffice it to say that after I finished reading, it had such an impact on me that I couldn't do anything but sob into my bewildered husband's lap.

I am going to put off getting another book until the knitting is done, because it seems that I can't do both at the same time, and reading always trumps all other activities, if it's a good story.

And with that, I go pick up the needles.


Home Sweet Computer

Welp, we've made it back home safe and sound.  Saturday was a fun blur of activity at my BF Lisa's house, with her two darling children and her husband Faris, and my friend Erin along for another visit. We swam, we ate pizza, the kids played, and we laughed at their amusing comments. I did not manage to steal little Emilie away from her parents, which is sad, because she has got to be the cutest thing on two feet EVER.

Today's drive home was pretty uneventful and smooth. There were the usual round of potty stops and hunger pangs, but I packed well for the trip and we did not stop once in 11 hours for food. I drove the first part, then Rob drove a large portion of the middle while I napped on and off, and then I finished the last few hours.

The only thing of note was when I was driving past Williamsburg on I-64, an hour or so from home. I was admittedly speeding, going about 75 mph in a 55 zone, in my eagerness to be home.  A car pulled up on my right, and the man gestured to me. I though he was being fresh or something! So, I ignored him.

The same man came around behind me and pulled up on my left. He started gesturing to me again. I kept looking at Rob, saying, "What does he want? What does he want?"  I was going too fast to really study him, but then I realized he was flashing five fingers at me over and over again. Um, then I noticed his police officer's uniform, and then I realized he was in an unmarked patrol car. He was telling me the speed limit, indicating that I should slow down. I immediately did, of course, and waved at him.

But how nice was that?!! He could have easily pulled me over and given me a ticket packing a hefty fine, yet he let me go with a mere reminder of the speed. I kept marveling over it all the way home, sending up little prayers of thanks. We can ill afford a citation right now. It must be my lucky day!

Tomorrow I start the daycare, I think around 0700. I emailed the mother a couple of days ago and gave her my two-week notice (but I'll stretch it to longer if she needs it). She hasn't replied or otherwise emailed or called to make sure we're on for the morning. So we shall see.

And now back to my book until I fall asleep. I'm still reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is a great book and a horrible tale. If that makes sense.  I'm enjoying it and hating it all at the same time.


Saturday 9: I Ran

I skipped last week's questions, because I didn't really like them, but here we go again! Be sure to link up with Sam if you're playing along...

1. When's the last time you ran?
I don't believe in running. It's against my religion. Running is for when you're about to miss the bus, or when your child is about to run into traffic. That's it.

2. Do your jeans have rips, tears, and holes in them?
I don't actually own any jeans. When I'm at the end of this big weight loss journey (down 120 lbs, yay!), I look forward to buying some. I have two pairs of jean shorts, though, and no, they don't have that stuff. Too newish-looking.

3. What are you dreading right now?
The 12-hour journey back from NY to VA on Sunday, and leaving behind my sister and HS friends.

4. Do you like Mexican food?
I love a good vegetarian entree (beans & cheese enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, with a side of... more beans and cheese!) at a good local Mexican eatery, yeah!

5. Favorite ice cream?
PB & Chocolate ties with Mint Chip

6. When was your last doctor's visit?
I don't know, sometime last month. My six-month post-op check-up. That's a lotta hyphens.

7. Do you get the full 8 hours of sleep a night?
Bah, no, I have three kids!

8. How many pets do you have?
A dog and a cat, and we've promised the kids we'll get a new bunny when school starts. I'm not so sure about that now, though...

9. "First Loves Are Never Over;" is this true for you?
It is. I just posted earlier tonight about seeing my high school sweetheart, Ben, last night. I'll love him forever. But not like that. Now I want some Mexican food!


So tonight, when we got back to our hotel, I spied a drug store. Oh, yeah. I was soooo ready to be done with the blonde and pink hair. I even had my coupon box along for the trip, so we pulled in there, found some haircolour coupons and went inside to select a shade. We all helped choose my new colour. It was a dark brownish-auburn.

We got back into the hotel, and I immediately started applying the colouring. I was nervous! What if it turned green? I left it on for the maximum 45 minutes, just to make sure all the blonde was gone.

Finally, it was time to rinse. Yay! I couldn't wait to see the results.

Things were looking good! It's still very wet; I only rinsed it just over a half-hour ago. But I like it. You can see the colour in the picture. It's much lighter than I was expecting. Kind of strawberry. The roots are light orange. It's acceptable to me. I can live with it. It is not garish or trashy-looking anymore.

I'm so relieved!

Fin. Firecracker

Go, Go, Go

Thursday, we drove from Jamestown to Liverpool, outside of Syracuse.  It was a four-hour drive that we lengthened to five. For the first part, before we hit the Thruway, it was all farmland and Amish country. My kids had no experience with the Amish, so this was all very interesting to them. For those who have never been to New York, and think the entire state is like New York City, no. Upstate is very rural! We passed many horse and buggies signs on the road, and a couple times we passed the real thing. More than once, we saw little boys of no more than four years of age, with their straw hats and denim overalls and a pack over their shoulders. Too cute, but surprising to find them walking along the main road alone.

I thought we would get on the road early, about 0600 or 0700, and get into the hotel by 10 am. Ha. No. I ended up NOT staying up all night at Stacey's and falling asleep in the chair reading my book. It was after 0900 before we left, with Hanna sobbing in my arms and Karen, nearly 10, completely indifferent and perhaps eager to see us go. We didn't get to the hotel until nearly 1400.  Much later than when we planned, but it was a really fun drive that we enjoyed thoroughly. (At least until I again fell asleep reading my book.)

So we checked in and unpacked quickly, before heading over to my BF Lisa's house. We only had a few hours with her by that point, since we had an 1800 dinner date. I had never met her four-year-old, Jacob, or her 20-month-old, Emilie, so I was ecstatic to see them! And they are both cute as cute can be. Jacob says such funny things, and Emilie is the most adorable girl on two feet. Her dark curly hair bobs as she runs and toddles around, and she, too, utters such cuteness! I was in love with her and definitely wanted to take her home, but Lisa denied me the privilege.

The kids quickly decimated her living room, and then we all moved outside to take in some sun and yard. They climbed in Jacob's tree fort, drove Jacob's truck around, and played with their lawn toys before Lisa suggested a swim. We'd forgotten all our bathing suits, but she brought out Jacob's clothes for the kids to swim in. All was going well, and I was taking pictures with my iPhone while Rob monitored the kids swimming. Suddenly, I looked up to see Sophie dumped out of the floaty she was on and treading water for dear life in the pool, with Rob jumping in to rescue her. I thought all was well until he sunk under the water and was holding her up high in the air, and I realized he was struggling. I threw down my phone and raced around to the deep end, snatched my baby out of his arms and then pulled him up. Hoo, boy. That was some unnecessary excitement! Needless to say, I didn't pick up my iPhone again until they were done swimming.

When it was time to go, we quickly dressed the kids and said our good-byes to Lisa and her husband, Faris, and their two cute little munchkins. We drove as quickly as we could into Baldwinsville to meet my old high school beau, Ben, for dinner. He was waiting when we got there, so we made our way in, and I got hugs! Big hugs! since I hadn't seen him in 10-12 years. His five-year-old son, Walker, and six-year-old nephew, Dylan, were along for dinner, too, as was his friend Lou. The nine of us supped and caught up on old times and new, and my girls charmed the pants off Lou, who only has two sons and wants a daughter. It was a decent visit, with hardly any awkwardness, and seemingly no hard feelings between my ex-boyfriend and my husband. Phew. I was kind of stressed and anxious about it, but I was dying to see him! It all worked out well.

After dinner, we hung out for a long  time in the parking lot until poor little Walker had a meltdown about wanting to go home. More hugs and good-byes, and we headed out. We decided spontaneously to go visit the house where I grew up. I knew the way (which is mostly not the case around here; I don't remember ANYTHING), so we found it with no trouble.  I didn't know whether my evil ex-stepmother still lived there, so I didn't recognize the lady who was watering the lawn and scrutinizing us as we scrutinized her, driving past. We drove around the neighborhood and drove past again, and then a third time before I stopped and found out she was the new owner. I asked to take a picture of my childhood home, and she happily acquiesced. Another minute to look back on my old life, and we were on our way back to the hotel. The kids were so exhausted by that point, they slept immediately and tightly. Thank goodness.

Today was even busier. We woke up peacefully around 0900, and Rob took the kids to the hotel's complimentary breakfast while I showered and dressed. We were running late to meet Erin at Beaver Lake Nature Center, always a big draw for the nature lovers in and around Baldwinsville. We met at the same diner we ate at the previous night, and she hopped in Vanna and directed us Beaver Lake.

It was a fantastic time there, a really big hit with the children. We went in the main building so the kids could check out all the exhibits and, as Chloe says, "make observations."  They ran around looking at beavers and skunks and opossoms (opossa?) and other critters, before going to the observation room to watch the finches and hummingbirds and squirrels enjoy a feast outside. We even saw bees in their honeycomb and listened to the hum!

Then, since the weather was holding out well and barely a trickle of rain was falling, Erin took us on a nature walk. She grew up at Beaver Lake and knows far more than I do about all the flora and fauna found there, so I deferred to her to do all the nature teachin'. She showed the kids pitcher plants and wild blueberries and orange fungi and cranberries in the bog and, oh, harvestman spiders! ;) She showed them poison ivy and poison sumac and ragweed. She showed the bog and the lake and how and why the trees feel like they did and ripped a leaf in half to smell it and determine what it was... all manner of cool things. I enjoyed it as much as the children, and we all learned a lot. Thanks, Erin!

When the kids tired of walking, we headed back to the building for a potty run and then out to the car for snacks. When they'd all had enough, we raced each other back inside to buy out the gift shop. Rob chose a nice walking stick - he loves to have them on walks - and Sophie chose a chirping goldfinch. Chloe picked a purple finch and a Beaver Lake patch for her Brownies vest. Jack wanted a stuffed fox. I got a pewter collectible spoon for my collection and some on-sale homemade cards. We bought a bottle of real New York maple syrup (YUM, but 53 g carbs per serving, so not a drop for me). :( And at 50-pence apiece, we bought three rocks that you crack open to find geodes inside. Oh, and a lollipop for everyone. Like I said, we bought out the place. And I didn't accept a plastic bag, so imagine my joy when I had to carry everything around as they again went to the observation room and looked through all the exhibits!

At last, we decided to go, and we headed to a park in downtown B'ville. Erin and I chatted on the swings while the kids climbed on all the play equipment. We caught up on each other's lives and just enjoyed each other's company. It was a good time and still, the rain held.

Then we went to Gino & Joe's for dinner, the best pizza place on the planet and a must-stop for all visits back "home" to B'ville. I somehow managed an entire piece, minus the crust, which is not necessarily a good thing, but man, it was delicious. The kids ate pretty well and were excited to have orange soda for a special treat! If you're ever in Baldwinsville, make sure you visit G&Js.

It was still early yet, and we didn't want to head back to the hotel just yet, so we decided to drive around and visit some old sights. We drove past my old high school and junior high school, both of which have new additions, and then way out to the small grocery where I worked in high school. Rob stayed out in the car with a sleeping Jack while we girls went in to shop. I wanted Italian bread, which I remembered as being really good. Unfortunately the store was under new ownership, so there were no familiar faces, but the bread was still good.

Then I wanted turkey pastrami from the locally-famous Plainville Turkey Farm. My ex, Ben, had a father and sister who worked there way back when (and still, now), and he introduced me to its insane goodness. So Erin directed me out to a Wegman's (best grocery store in the country, hands down) to get some at the deli, and we managed to find some of the (crappy local) Genesee beer that Rob wanted. Add in some fresh milk, and the shopping was complete.

My next idea was to go back to B'ville for some ice cream. We always got our milk and OJ from the Byrne Dairy there, and they had good ice cream, too. We passed my old middle school onthe way to the dairy. The kids each got a "baby" cone, which was every bit as big as an adult one, if not more. Silly. I even scored some low-fat, no-sugar-added vanilla, which tasted great. I surely didn't eat it all; it was way too much. I forget what Rob and Erin got, but we all enjoyed!

Chloe had to go to the bathroom, and Byrne Dairy didn't have one, so we went back around the corner to the pizza place. We decided to end our day there, so lots of hugs as we said goodbye to Erin - but not before I invited her along to Lisa's house to swim tomorrow (with Lisa's permission)! So there will be more catch-up with both of them for our mini-reunion. I can't wait!

Back in the hotel, Sophie had fallen into a deep sleep, so Rob took the older kids outside to play while I took a bath and read my book in the tub. Nice and relaxing. It was hot, though, so I took a fairly cold bath. (I know you'll like that, Nicole!) ;)  Felt great, and I was amused when Sophie all of a sudden shucked off her clothes and helped herself to my bath! Chloe and Jack were soon clamoring to join us, so I finished my chapter and then hopped out for them to take a dip in the cooling water.

It's 2325 now, and they're still up and watching Disney channel while I type. They're mostly being quiet, though, so I don't mind. Soon they should be drifting off... and so should I. I think I'll knit a while first. I'd like to finish that sleeve at least. I'll be right back with some pictures of stuff. Stay tuned.


P.S. Oh! Did I mention that I colored my hair last night to get rid of the garish, trashy yellow and pink? I hated it and couldn't live with it a moment longer. Too bad I had to see Ben like that, ugh! It's now a VERY light red, in some places orange, so it's not great but it's definitely a huge improvement. Probably when we get back home, I'll make it even darker. We'll see. I'll post a picture of that, too.


So tonight I am a little melancholy, because we are leaving here first thing in the morning to go over to Syracuse, nearly 4 hours away. I grew up outside of Syracuse and am planning on seeing at least 5 high school chums (including two ex-boyfriends, to Rob's delight - one of whom is now married to one of my best friends!).

It has been a good visit with my sister. The last time I saw her and my nieces was two years ago when they drove down to see us, so I cherish these times. I hadn't seen my brother-in-law for five years! He looks so different now... more like his father. I don't think he really appreciated my making the comparison, though.

(I'm using her computer right now to post this, so there won't be any pictures in this post. I may add some from the iPhone later; we'll see.)

Anyway, today after Stacey did some laundry and stuff, we had a quickie lunch and then headed over to the play place at Midway State Park. Her kids are bigger and braver and would much rather have gone to Darien Lake, but she deferred to my much more chickeny kids and took us to the midway for smaller children.

It was tons of fun, but way more expensive than I thought it would be, so that was a little ouchy. We all got ride-all-day wristbands so we could take unlimited rides, and that we did. My nieces were bored at first, because my kids wanted to start out on the really small rides. Then we started splitting up. I'm not a huge thrill-seeker - I don't really do roller coasters - but I do like to go on rides. Rob is way less of a thrill rider than I am (yet he'll jump out of an airplane; go figure), so he would take the littles on their rides while I went on the Tilt-a-Whirl and stuff with my sister and her girls.

Eventually, everyone had to go to the bathroom, so we went down to the nearby lake in search of those. We met up again with Rob and had a snack and a drink before heading back for more rides. It was a lot of fun, and I was happy with my new smaller self and my ability to get on things like the kids' rides with them, and a horse on the carousel, and go down the big giant slide...! Things I would definitely not have been able to do six months ago. It was a joy.

When everyone was hungry again, Stacey wanted to go home for dinner, but I wanted to get my money's worth on those wristbands! So we bought everyone dinner at the park. I wanted it to be simple, like everyone have pizza and we would buy a pie? But no... some wanted that and Chloë wanted a hot dog, Karen wanted a cheeseburger, and Hanna wanted chicken strips. Oy. We spent a small fortune, but it was fun and we were able to go on a lot more rides until we shut the place down at 7 PM.

Two things of interest happened while Rob and I were with Jack and Sophia on the little train that went around the park (Chloë was riding the giant slide with her cousins and aunt):

1. A kid jumped of the train while it was in motion. The driver stopped the train, called the 13-year-old boy over, ripped off his wristband, and threw it away. I thought that was awesome and literally applauded him from the back of the train! That's what you get, kid.

2. Another boy was standing near the track when we came 'round, and he started SPITTING on every one of us on the train. I was thoroughly disgusted and extremely pissed. I got off when it stopped, followed him to where his camp counselors were and told them what he had just done. They apologized profusely and immediately went to take action. HELLO?! WTF!

Anyway. We packed back into the van and headed home. The kids have all been sleeping upstairs in Karen and Hanna's rooms, but I use the term "sleeping" loosely. They've been staying up 'til all hours, playing, chatting and doing God-knows-what. So we were hoping they were worn out but good for an early sleep tonight. When Sophie konked out in the van, we kept waking her up! Nooooo, not yet, don't ruin it!!

Rob and I were going to pack up everything tonight so we could clear out of here around 0600, but he fell sound asleep on the couch during Stacey's TV-watching time. (Girlfriend is as hooked on her shows as she is on exercising.) She watches soaps, reality TV and what-not up the yin-yang! So I was bemused when, while I was sitting there knitting on the sleeve, she called knitting "boring." Really? Have you SEEN Big Brother?

So I'm up, and will probably be up all night or most of it. Email me if you're up. Gotta distract myself from all the colourwork I'm doing.


P.S. To clarify from last night's post, I would not just up and ditch the daycare kids without giving her plenty of time to find someone new! If I do decide to sub, it will be a weeks-long process during which I will let her take her time finding someone new. But it would be $80 a day subbing vs. $75 a WEEK for three kids, and we could really use the money right now, y'know?

It's The Climb

So today I slept in really late again, because I took my sleepy time pills so I could sleep. Ugh, I really hate that. There's no middle ground for me for normal sleeping habits. Damn damn damn!!

Stacey was making a picnic lunch when I got up, so I took a quick shower (gasping anew at my hair) and got ready to go along to the park.

The eight of us drove to the park in my van on what was a lovely day to play outside. The weather was warm, with a cool breeze blowing, and everyone was in a good mood.

The kids ate a pretty good lunch, and then they ran for the playground. The swings were a big draw for the girls, and there was a really cool car ride for Jack. I mostly ran around taking pictures, and then we three adults sat on a bench and chatted while the five kids had fun.

Unfortunately a storm rolled in, cutting our beautiful day short. We dashed to the van and drove home in the gully washer. Luckily it was a short trip, but my camera got drenched getting from the car to the house. Now it won't work. :( maybe after it dries out...

The kids played together nicely all afternoon, making a huge mess of games and toys. Stacey runs a much tighter ship than I do, so it's been both nice being in a clean, ship-shape house and also stressful, because I know my kids are going to destroy it somehow. Heck, Sophia has already gotten her cousin Karen's pink makeup on the white rug, and it wouldn't come off. Eek!!!

I have been working, little by little, on the first sleeve of Baby Luke's sweater. The body of the top is done, and I'll go back to knitting after this. I'm determined to get this outfit done by Steph's shower!

Stacey made chicken with corn, potatoes, and pasta salad for dinner. She is really spoiling Rob, who does the vast majority of the cooking at home. He's going to have to clean the kitchen every day if he wants me to start cooking more, because I cannot STAND to cook in a mess. Or... we'll just keep things as they are.

So u kept knitting and Rob took a nap, while the kids played and Stace made dessert. See the pic? She made loaves of angel food cake, which is fat-free and which my kids have never had. Then she put on sugar-free chocolate pudding, fat-free cool whip, and strawberries. I had a tiny piece and didn't love it too much, but Rob devoured his and some of Chloe's and Jack's! The girls really liked it, too. And I didn't dump, which is never fun!

Michael came home from work then, with the Hannah Montana DVD for the kids. They sat through the whole thing while Stacey forced me to exercise with her. She is a workout demon! She has an exercise room overlooking the living room with the giant TV, and she worked out the whole hour and a half!! I did the elliptical and recumbent bike for about a total of 23 minutes. LOL. That's her thing. Not me! I went back to my knitting, stopping only to have a little hummus.

That's pretty much our whole day. Stace just brought up four bags of clothes for me to go through for my girls. Rob warned me to be pretty selective, because we just don't have the room for it in the van!


I got a call today from the person in charge of the preschool program at the kids' school. Sophia was waitlisted, you might remember? Well, today they said they have a spot for her!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! It's all day, every day, which I really did not like at four years old. But, she needs it. It will be good for her, so good. I can't wait!

Too bad I'll be doing daycare now. I'm tempted to back out of that and start subbing like I planned if she got in to school. Argh. We have no contract, soo... I don't know!

We'll see.



It's The Climb

It's The Climb

It's The Climb

It's The Climb

It's The Climb


Monday, Rob and I slept until almost noon. We were so tired from the drive! Stacey had to work; she's a hair stylist and had a few clients, but she wanted all of us to come in for haircuts. Hanna-Banana, 7, and Karen, 9, rode over with us.

Chloe was up first. She's almost 8 and has never had a "real" haircut in a salon. She's chopped her own hair, and I've trimmed it a few times, but that's it. Aunt Stacey cut an inch or two off and gave her some long layers, which made me nervous, but it looks okay. She put some curl-enhancer in there too, so she had some va-va-vavoom! I know she loved being pampered a little.

Jack ran in next. Stacey cut his hair before when she came down to visit us, and I've taken him to my salon a few times. Mostly, his dad shaves his head to save money. He looked freaking adorable in the chair, and so handsome after his cut. Stacey gave him a cute little faux-hawk, but he didn't like it and immediately flattened it down. So no picture of that.

Then it was Sophia's turn. She had snipped up her hair last week, so I was really eager for Stacey to fix it. She ended up getting a sweet little bob that looks darling on her!

Rob got a trim after that. I stayed out in the lobby with the five kids instead of coming back for pictures. But I got one of my two handsome men together, so make sure you click on that one if you didn't see it on Facebook!

Then it was my turn. Hoh, boy. I told Stacey she could do whatever she wanted and I wouldn't care. So she told Rob to drive all the kids home, because it would be a while.

And it was. Maybe three hours? First she stripped out all the colour of my hair with bleach, and it was aninteresting orangey-gold shade. I was getting nervous.

Then she spent a dog's age putting three shades of blond - and hot pink - in my hair and foil-wrapping it. I sat under the heater while she did a couple other people's hair, and I fell sound asleep. That little nap did me some good... Wish I could take another little one right now, like Rob is.

Anyway, she woke me up and rinsed out the colour, and then brought me back to the chair.

I looked.

I almost fainted.

Can you see the picture at the bottom? It's very blond. I was not meant to be a blonde. I like the hot pink, but I'm so not used to the rest of it. I was a little disappointed, but I did give her carte Blanche, so what am I going to do? At least I didn't cry like the first time she did my hair, way back in beauty school.

After she styled it, we went home to show everyone. The kids saw it first, and they were like, "whoa!" Rob took me outside so he could "see it in better light," but really to tell me he hated it and laugh at the fact that I was going to be seeing people I hadn't seen in years looking like this! Thanks, hon.

So, I don't know. I'm not upset, but I just don't think it's me. Maybe I'll darken it when I get back to VA.

Stacey made dinner after that. The kids did really well w/ their mac & cheese and hot dogs. I think rob had two burgers. Me?I ate nothing. Maybe a protein shake. I haven't been eating much up here, so I had to rectify that.

After the kids had baths and went to bed, I remembered I had a coupon for a free meal from KFC that was expiring last night. So Rob and I went out to get that, and I was so starving I ate almost half a leg of chicken. (that's a lot for me now.)

We passed by Wegmans, a grocery chain up here, so I decided to run in and get a few things that I could eat, and milk for the kids. I love that store! Wish we had them near us.

Well, it's dinner time and Stacey is waiting for us, so I must run. More later! Let me know if you can see these posts and the pix, ok?







That Stunk!

So I just typed up a long post here on my iPhone, which all be doing all week while we are up in New York, and I got out of the Typepad app momentarily to check the map for driving Rob. I thought it'd hold my place until I got back to the app, but it was all gone. Suck! I'll try that again later. Meanwhile, here are some pix from our visit to Ocean Breeze on Saturday. More on that to come. Let me know if you can click on the pictures to make them larger?


That Stunk!

That Stunk!

That Stunk!

That Stunk!

That Stunk!


Spotty service here, so a brief post. We made it to NY after ~12 hours. It was a good trip, uneventful & scenic.

The kids are all getting along well and playing nicely. Stacey & I are catching up, and it's a lovely visit so far.

Stacey fed everyone lasagna while I took a wee nap, and then we went out for ice cream together. None for me!

We walked around the neighborhood in the evening, and then the kids got ready for bed. No one will sleep tonight, we're guessing! Maybe we'll get lucky...

So rob's knocked out, and I'm fixin' to do the same. More tomorrow!







Friday Fragments


If you're fragmenting today, make sure and link up with Mrs4444.

☼ This will be short and sweet, because I suddenly woke up very, very sick with a major cold today. I seriously hate summer colds, and it sucks more because we're leaving for New York on Sunday. Really? Now? Thanks.

☼ Sometimes I'm tempted to make up things for Friday Fragments that are hilarious, just to get the coveted "Favorite Fragmenter" award. I haven't, though - promise! ;)

☼ Chloë, almost 8, is always begging me to straighten her curly hair. I always tell her I don't want to, because I don't want the heat to damage her hair. So she had a brilliant idea the other day: "Mom, since you don't want to use the heat on my hair, why don't we use the air conditioning to straighten it, instead?" Now that's thinking.

☼ Another little gem from Chloë: "I don't like humming. It makes my lips wavy."

That's all, folks!