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Entries from December 2009

Small Miracles

So we're in a pretty destitute place financially right now, I ain't gonna lie. Things are not good. We're out of milk - again - but at least Rob gets paid tonight or tomorrow night, and if I was really desperate, I could pour them the condensed or evaporated milk that's in the pantry for baking, right?

And so I've been wondering how I'm going to feed my kids, at least through the end of the month (which I realize now is tomorrow, thank goodness), when it seems like there's nothing to eat.

For dinner tonight, I made pierogies for the kids and Rob. There were only 9 left, to split amongst the four of them. That's not a lot. The girls each took one to start, and Jack took three, leaving four for Rob. In the end, the girls each swiped one more off Rob's plate and split the last one of Jack's. Here I am, watching all this food-swapping going on, thinking, "Well, this is a poor man's feast, isn't it?" I made sugar snap peas as well, but the kids refused to eat them. And we had the last four chicken strips from last night, of which I ate one and Rob ate the rest.

So everyone was fed, and there was ice cream for dessert, and no one starved.  But still, I worried.

And then, I decided to go through the deep freezer and take stock. See exactly what's what in there, so I don't have to spend too much money buying things we already have. And I was surprised to find, between the freezers and the pantry, three pages in my little notebook filled with meals to eat.

Three pages!

For starters, there's the whole turkey, which I got for free-after-rebate, that we never ate for Thanksgiving or Christmas. That'll feed the lot of us for days! And there's a fat whole chicken, too, and bags and bags of chicken parts. There's packages of pork ribs and sausages and what-not for Rob, a box of grilled salmon fillets, and even fish sticks and chicken nuggets for the kids.

Who knew?!

And I was stressing about tomorrow night, since it's our New Year's Eve tradition to have lots of little appetizers and yummy things at midnight. What then, what about that?

For one thing, our lovely neighbor, for whom I baked Christmas cookies and whom the kids brought over flowers as an Advent activity, and whom we sent a Christmas card of course, brought over a nice bottle of sparkling cider to drink. Whee!

For another, at the way-down-bottom of the deep freezer, there was a box of spanikopita (hello, yum) and another box of crabcakes, from our long-forgotten trip to Trader Joe's this past summer! And there are little apple dumpling bites and fried cheese balls from Schwan's, to boot. So that will take care of that and be more than plenty, I am sure.

And there are tons of canned veggies and frozen veggies and rice mixes and boxes of stuffing and all manner of things to round out our dinners in the next fortnight, to be sure. Plus I can always manage to bake a nice loaf of bread or two, right? I have a jillion packets of yeast, since Rob was teasing me for a while there about buying some every time I bought groceries and I kept buying more to tease him back...

But what about breakfast and lunch?

I scored lots of good deals on cereal lately, so as soon as I can pick up a gallon of milk, we'll be set there. And I found a giant bag of French toast sticks in the deep freezer, also from Schwan's, which I don't remember buying. The kids begged to have it tomorrow for breakfast. And there's pancake mixes in the pantry, and oatmeal, too.

Lastly, in the deep freezer, I found loaves of bread (and can always bake more!) and frozen lunch meat I'd stocked up on back when there was a sale while I worked at Harris Teeter.

We're all set!! All I really need is a couple gallons of milk, a carton of eggs, and some fruit. And if I was really worried about the fruit, we do have frozen bags of cranberries, strawberries and blueberries in there, too.


Thank God for small miracles.


The Opposite Of Congress


Though I didn't do anything yesterday because of the migraine, we did accomplish some things on Sunday and today. Rob wanted to go spend his Walmart gift card from his father on Sunday, so I convinced him to wait for me and we'd go run errands together. First, we ran to CVS to get the latest deals. See the above? Missing from the picture are the two Watchamacallit bars that the kids and Rob ate immediately after we got out into the car. Guess how much I paid?? $1.46 out of pocket in taxes, but then they gave me BACK $8 in Extra Care Bucks, so I made about $6.50 on this order! Sweet, huh? That's, like, 60-80 dollars worth of stuff at full retail price. I love it.

We went to Target after that, to get the Monsters, Inc. Blu-Ray/DVD combo out of their plastic security case. The cashier never did, and we couldn't get it out. I banged and hammered and did all kinds of things to it! But there was no problem, they took it right out and gave it back to us, even though we didn't have the receipt. We just had to give them the say CC I used to buy it with.

On to Walmart after that. We split up, the boys vs. the girls. I had no doubt Rob would be finished first, but he agreed to wait on the meet-up bench we designated instead of roaming the store looking for me. He spent his fifty bucks on a motorcycle cover for his BMW, which ended up not fitting at all. He took it back and got dogfood for our starving pooch with it.

As for me, I bought two size 12-14 shirt that I hoped might fit, two brassieres (that's what took me so long to shop - I think I need a 36DD, but the smallest Wal-mart carries in a DD is a 38, so I had to go with two of those, and they're okay), two Christmas storage totes, and a box of kitty litter for our stinky catpoopers. You didn't think I could spend an entire fifty bucks on myself, did you?

Anyway, the only reason I'm talking about all that is to show the CVS picture I took on Sunday. Hee!

On to today, Tuesday.

The kids and I played, watched TV, and goofed around until about noon or so, and then we got to work. We went upstairs and worked on laundry and cleaning up my and their rooms until maybe 1600. The Littles (which I can hardly say anymore, now that Sophia is almost bigger than her big sister) ended up falling asleep and taking a long nap, so Chloë and I were quite a team, getting things done. She can be such a pain in my butt sometimes, with her moodiness and attitude, but when she feels like helping out and getting along, she's a tremendous help!

While I was hanging up my clothes, I found a bag of clothes from Old Navy, for Jack! All things that fit now. I have no idea when I bought them, but there were a bunch of socks, underwear and shirts in there that I don't remember buying. Really weird. Glad I found them before he grew out of them! Oh, wait, we are talking about Bitty Jack here...

I worked on a secret project I can't show until this weekend for a couple hours, so . . . yeah.

I cleaned up the kitchen partway, before I got disgusted and literally threw in the towel. When Rob came home, I told him I'd make dinner if he cleaned up the rest of the kitchen, which he did. So I did. It wasn't anything exciting, some chicken tenders, tater tots and corn, all from Schwan's. But everyone ate a great meal - Jack even asked for seconds on the chicken! - so I decided we would make a special dessert together.


Rob's mom had recently sent the kids some children's cookbooks, and they wanted to make everything in them! The first thing that caught my eye was the apple crisp, because I love it and because we happened to have all the ingredients on hand. The kids have never had it! So we made it together, and I even got to work on some fractions with Chloë while we did it. She did a great job, too.



The Fiestaware lying in wait for the crisp


The kids wanted black raspberry ice cream on their apple crisp, so, okay, I went with it. I even had a smidge myself, and it was great! (This was not my plate!)



After dessert, Rob got the kids upstairs for a shower, and I went out to pick up some Freecycles. I got this lamp, which is nice, but which Rob thinks will get broken within 24 hours. We'll see. There's never enough light in this house, so I'm glad I got it.



And I got this Hoover FloorMate, for our always-nasty kitchen floor. I can't wait to try it out, hopefully tomorrow. Seriously, our kitchen floor is always gross. I can't stand it. And the second Swiffer I bought is on the fritz now, so I really needed something. Hope it works!

So how's your last week of 2009 going?




Migraines Suck.

So I've had this migraine all day, which may or may not really be a migraine, combined with a seriously awful sinus headache. This cold is just not going away for me, and I do believe my sinuses are infected. So all around, this day has sucked for me.

I've been on the couch for most of it, sleeping on and off. All our new DVDs have played babysitter to the kids today. I've barely fed them, instead opting to "suggest" things they can go get for themselves, like an apple or orange, or a cup of yogurt. It's sufficed; they haven't starved to death.

Good thing we had no plans today, because I/we didn't accomplish one damn thing. Well, I can't say that, really: I managed to get Chloë on her hands and knees, scrubbing all the muddy doggy footprints off the living room and office floors! Don't worry, I paid her a substantial amount of Dad Dollars for that, and she felt sufficiently compensated. And I discovered something else: My overly high-strung little 8-year-old, who has been screaming and shouting at her younger siblings and visited her room for it an inordinately high number of times today, is calmed by scrubbing the floor. I may have to make this a regular routine for her! Too bad cleaning doesn't de-stress me; I'll have to stick to my knitting for that.

I had Rob pick up a Freecycle for me: saved stamps for my gran'pappy. He collects stamps, new and used, foreign and domestic, fancy and plain. So if you want to save stamps to make an 83-year-old man extraordinairily happy, I'd love you for it.

The headache remains, but I'm going to go and try to knit. I'm working on a kimono; have I mentioned that? I like the handspun yarn a great deal. It's very squishy, one of my favorite characteristics in a yarn. So, cheers.


The Bloom Is Off The Rose: Christmas At Great Wolf Lodge

Finally, the Christmas post! Saturday, Boxing Day, was a lazy, lazy day for Team Odette. We are all still sick with colds, just colds I think, and we did nothing but watch all the new DVDs and take multiple naps. We barely ate, or moved. So I didn't feel like posting, but here I am now, after waking up at midnight, to show you our special trip to Great Wolf Lodge for Christmas.

Christmas Eve

Christmas @ GWL 001

We got on the road just before noon, putting us at the Lodge at 10-'til-one. Not as early as I'd hoped, but early enough. Check-in isn't technically until 1600, but I'd been assured that we could go to the waterpark and have fun until our room was ready. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary, as our room was ready when we got there. We lugged in all our stuff - a ridiculous lot for merely one night - up to the third floor Wolf Den we'd rented for the kids. Here's Jack climbing the walls outside the den. 

Unlike last time, there were only three beds in the kids' "room," so the kids had to draw straws to determine who would sleep on the pull-out couch (which we never pulled out) next to our bed, instead of being able to sleep in the Wolf Den. Sophie drew the short straw, but rather than be sad, she was happy when I put the spin on it that she "got to" sleep next to Mom and Dad!

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We were on a different floor, on the opposite side of the hallway from last time, so I was a little disoriented at first. The kids wanted to visit the Cub Club first, and we got lost on our way there. We passed this pretty little table decorated for Christmas, and I couldn't resist taking the picture. Rob laughed at me for that, but I don't care. I barely decorated our home this year, so it was nice to see.

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When we finally made it to the Cub Club, the kids pounced on this little "white" tree frog. He barely moved at first; I wasn't sure he was real! I don't know if he's an albino (don't think so, since he IS green) or what, but he was pretty cool.

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The kids rushed right to the toyboxes in the Cub Club and began taking everything out at once! Just like home...

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The kids all love musical instruments of all kinds, and even these toy ones fit the bill. They were rockin' out!

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Jack River has a sixth sense about where to find the cars and trucks in any new place, even when he can't see them. He just motors right over to where they are and conducts a quick inventory of what's available, before choosing which ones to play with. This boy has a one-track mind!

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Sophie playing schoolteacher

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The shopping carts are always popular with my crew.

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For this trip, the kids participated in GWL's free program, "North Pole University," wherein they had to complete five tasks and get a stamp for each. When they filled up their stamp card, they turned it in for prizes. The first task was to color a picture for the coloring contest in the Cub Club. Jack scribbled through his to get it done and get back to his trucks! Sophie colored her reindeer pink, and Sophia diligently concentrated on making hers the best picture ever. I have no idea if they won the contest, but they received their stamps, at least!

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The next task was to go to the Front Desk and borrow a family game, take it to our room, and spend some time playing the game together. We logged a whopping 12 minutes on the game before it told us to "Stop" (it was a really dumb Kangaroo game), but hey, the kids got their stamps!

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Chloë glaring at me from her top bunk in the Wolf Den in our room

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Back down the hall again, here's a view of the then-closed shop on the main floor of the Lodge, from upstairs on our floor

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The kids loved all the "pieces" they found to the MagiQuest game at the Lodge, which we didn't play. They were really intrigued by that, so if we ever go back, we'll have to play the game. It'll be something new, at least. I must confess, the extreme excitement I felt before, during and after our last trip in April was missing for this trip. Maybe it's because I'm sick, maybe it's because we didn't really have the money to do any extras this time, or maybe it's just the "Been There, Done That" syndrome. I'm ready for something new, something different next time.

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The view of the Christmas-bedecked lobby from above, on our floor. It was beautimous!

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Normally on Christmas Eve, our tradition is to go to the candlelight service at church and then come home and open stockings. We didn't do either this year, because my dad said he bought and filled stockings for the kids, so I didn't bother doing it myself. Well, the box didn't come in time! Oh, noez! So I let the kids each open one present on Christmas Eve in our room. The catch was, I got to choose the present. They were all game. I'd already planned on giving them each a Webkinz to snuggle with at bedtime, since none of them had brought a lovey. I gave them each a trivia question to answer, and whoever got it right would be the next to open a present. Chloë went first. She loved her gift bag, which came from Jafra.

 Christmas @ GWL 022

She got the camel, about which she was none too excited. Oh, well, she was game for it and warmed up to it eventually. Can't remember what she named her...

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(For the full set of pictures from our trip, see my Facebook page. They're all there. I'm skipping lots of the present pictures.) Jack went next. I gave him the Buffalo. He was really upset about that, as you can see! His reaction really hurt my feelings, actually. He is not good with showing gratitude when a present is not something he expected - ie, a car - although we are working on that. He got a good talking-to by his father for this, as I truly was bothered! He later apologized, and I appreciated that. Back at home, when we were adopting the Webkinz, he wanted to name the Buffalo "Goat Poop." LMAO! The site wouldn't allow that name, so he ended up naming him "Chicken," but I wish GP was allowed!

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Sophie, who generally only likes the birdie 'kinz, wasn't exactly jumping for joy over her llama, either. Oh, well, big FAIL on my part! I was just trying to get the Webkinz that had been in the stash for a long time out into the world! She named the llama "Skittles," which I think is cute.

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After the presents were opened and not-enjoyed, it was time for more adventures in the lobby. First up, a visit with Santa! It's funny, even though I have told my kids the Truth About Santa, and answered all their questions about him on multiple occasions, I don't think they truly believe me that he isn't real. Especially the little girl. She was full of love and hugs for Santa Claus!

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Jack was feeling quite shy and didn't want to visit with Santa, or even look at him. He hid behind my coat the entire time!

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After the Santa visit, we purchased tickets for $5 each (the only thing, besides a pizza, wings and soda dinner for $25, that we did "extra" at the Lodge this time) for the trolley ride around the property. It included free cookies and hot cocoa, and Jack kept asking me, "Why can't we have another cookie (even though I gave him mine)? Why can't we have more hot cocoa (even though I gave them mine AND he got a free refill when we got back from the ride)?" He's all about more when it comes to hot cocoa, his favorite drink on the planet. I buy it whenever I can get it supercheap or free, because he asks for some every day lately. I should make my own. But anyway, back to the trolley ride. They provided blankets for us, which was nice, because I was wearing my thin jammie pants after soaking my regular pants after we visited the waterpark for a few hours earlier in the day!

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Toward the end of the trip, we stopped to vote on the Christmas trees decorated by each of the different departments at the Lodge. This one was the prettiest, but my favorite was the one that looked like the Tornado waterslide inside the park. It was pretty cool. Sophia was mad that Jack chose the same one she liked, and she refused to let anyone else on the ride look at it, either!

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The outside of the Lodge, decorated for the holidays. I was glad this ride was pretty cheap, considering the exorbitant cost of almost everything else at the Lodge, because it was seriously lame compared to, say, the Lights at the Beach that we STILL have yet to go to this year! 

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After the freezing-cold trolley ride, the kids were happy to get inside and warm up in front of the fireplace, along with this anonymous little boy. Brr! My fingers were completely numb, despite the Isotoner gloves I was wearing (a gift from the in-laws last year)!

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The kids' favorite part of the evening was when it "snowed" (soap bubbles, actually) inside the Lodge! Chloë has her own digital camera, so I gave Sophia and Jack each a disposable camera that I'd gotten nearly free at Target, to capture their memories at GWL. I can't wait to see the results! (Or "lee-sorts," as my Chinese TA Charles would say, from my college days. Hehe...)

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Jack reaching up to catch the "snowflakes"

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Sophia, apparently not believing that the snow was actually soap, kept catching it in her mouth. Yuck!

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Santa read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the crowded room, and then he made it snow again, to the kids' delight.

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Someone volunteered to take our picture, when I started to take the picture of everyone else, so that was nice. Not nice: Sophie was not in the mood. See her face? She cracks me up. She has a mind of her own, and you just can't get her to do something she does not want to do, including smile for a picture. Silly girl. 
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Our fourth task (can't remember the third) was to visit with Rowdy the Reindeer after Story Time in the lobby. He was rushed out, so we barely got the chance, but the kids got their stamp.

Christmas Day

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I didn't sleep well that night. I took a "nap" from 2100 to midnight, but then I was up until way late, watching TV and missing my knitting, which accidentally got left behind at home. So when the kids woke up around 0600, oh, I was so not ready to get up and get into the presents! Rob and I decided to let them play quietly (or not-so-quietly, as it were) in the Wolf Den while we tried our best to catch a little more shut-eye. Finally, at 0800, we got up and got started. The pile of presents wasn't huge this year, and I'm very glad for that for several reasons I can detail later if you want. The plan this year was to open them one at a time while everyone watched and commented on the present, and then that person would choose one for someone else to open. It worked well; it was a great system. I'm not going to show all the present pictures here (they are on Facebook), so here are a few faves:

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Sophie received a drawing set from her Grandpa Al & Grandma Denise (Rob's dad and stepmom) that has been out constantly since we've been home!

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They gave Jack this Transformers truck - which he keeps calling Power Rangers, but whatevs - that he just loves. Every time Rob tries to turn it into whatever else it's supposed to be, he turns it right back into the truck!

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Also, they gave Chloë this new Barbie digital camera! You can see she's thrilled. It's not as nice as the one she already has, but she doesn't care. She wants it NOW. We don't have the right batteries yet for it (AAA), so I still need to buy some for her. She's bugging me constantly to set it up!

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Chloë took this picture of me, looking horrible, after opening my present from the in-laws: socks and foot lotion, and a $50 gift card to Walmart! I think I'll use it to buy some much-needed new brassieres, since the ones I bought 55 pounds ago are, well, pretty roomy in the cups!

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Rob looks like crap because he felt like crap! His dad and Denise gave him another gift card, and a mug filled with tea and cookies. They ate the cookies today; I heard they were delicious!

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After present time, we fed the kids some dry cereal in the room (forgot milk, der!), and then Rob took the kids down to the lobby for their final task, while I stayed behind to shower and pack up our stuff. The task was to go on the Polar Wolf Walk, which wasn't a walk at all but a sit-and-chat about polar animals. The kids apparently got really into it and enjoyed it. I was glad for the quiet time to get the room packed up before check-out!

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When they returned to the room, I let Rob finish packing up his stuff while I took the kids down to the Cub Club to turn in their completed cards for North Pole University. Here they are, turning in the cards.

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Their rewards were a free travel-size Patch game, a make-your-own-elf-hat kit, and a voucher for 8 free tokens in the arcade!

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The 8 tokens each were gone before we knew it, although they had lots of fun playing games - especially the candy-grabber that you can't lose - redeeming tickets and choosing small prizes. Here they are leaving the arcade, less than an hour after entering, to finally head back to the waterpark!

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We could barely get Sophia's clothes off at our table before she was off and running to the baby pool to go down the slides there. Later, we took her on several adult-sized slides, working our way up from the family slide, and she LOVED them. She's one adventurous little tyke. We took Chloë and Jack, separately from each other but with the fun-loving Sophie, on the family tube ride, too, and they both hated it immensely. Poor little scaredy-cats. Chloë almost got sick on the tube ride, especially at the end when the lifeguard spun our raft around really fast. I had to yell at her to stop!

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My crew in the hot tub, definitely the favorite spot for this trip. It was supposed to be warm, and the water was definitely warmer on Christmas Day than on the Eve, but we were all still chilly. Even me. Well, with his wet suit on, I don't think Rob was too cold, but the kids and I shivered a great deal!

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Jack did really well in the water this time. He took to it like a fish - but only as long as his life jacket was on, which was most of the time. He "swam," he dunked himself, he had a great time!

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Rob pushing the kids around on a tube in the Lazy River - they always fight for the center position!  

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Poor Chloë had an upset tummy after her nervousness from going down the family tube ride, so we left the park early after she threw up next to the hot tub! She took in a little water that went down the wrong pipe, which sent her into a heavy coughing fit that made her barf and barf some more. Eww. I felt bad for the other people in the hot tub. It didn't actually get IN the water, but they had to watch! We decided to go then, even though it was only 1400, and we could stay until 2100 if we wanted. The kids were ready; no one put up a fight.

It was just as well. Sophia and Jack were asleep before we even got out of the parking lot, and Chloë was zonked out less than five minutes later. Rob slept through the drive home, too, and boy, did I want to do the same! It was touch-and-go for me for a few minutes in the  middle. When we got home, I wanted to just sit in the car in the driveway and nap, but I saw my packages on the porch, and that made me get out and investigate!


The first package was my new blue Cricut Expression cutting machine for scrapbooking (and eventually, card-making, which I've been wanting to do but just haven't been able to find a way to get myself to start)! I am SO excited about this machine. My old Cricut, the Personal Cutter, failed after a year of use, and then we had to pack it away for a year for the flooring project, which made me miss out on the warranty. I talked to a manager at Cricut, who sent me out a new refurbished machine to replace it. Thanks so much to her for that!! I decided to upgrade to the Expression, so now I'm trying to sell the new-old machine to make money for that. We did get a Visa gift card that paid for the Expression, but I'd rather put that money toward more pressing stuff. 


The second box was my new Kodak ESP5 printer. Again, my old Kodak 5300 all-in-one printer had failed to print color, and everything else was messed up on it, too, so after several attempts to fix it, Kodak gave me this new one for no charge! It's supposed to be an "upgrade," but it seems like a piece of shit compared to the old one. We'll see; it's only been a day, so maybe it'll grown on me some more.  It wouldn't even print at all at first, but after cleaning the printhead three times, I got it to print just fine. Phew! I was about to pitch another fit to some poor guy in India!

And the third box was my new Hitachi external hard drive, which was also replaced at no charge. Yes, it's true, EVERY electronic thing I own has failed me in 2009! It's been ridiculous and frustrating, to say the least!


For Christmas dinner, after I took a good long nap, we went out to TGI Friday's. They were running a free appetizer special for dinner, and I had those two $10 gift cards to use, which I won at the Santa breakfast at school.


The $20 was enough to cover dinner and our tip, so that was great, because we had NO money for more than that! The kids ate cheese sticks and some of our dinners. We usually just share with them when we go out, because they don't each very much. Rob had a cheeseburger and fries, and I had Parmesan-crusted chicken with some very tasty spinach and cheese tortellini. There was also a mozzarella and tomato salad, but no one ended up liking that. 

I don't remember doing anything special last night, other than knitting on a baby kimono I'm working on for the charity, and watching Discovery Health with Rob. The kids crashed pretty early.

This morning, I got up early to run errands: (1) Pick up photo boxes and various note cards and things from a fellow Freecycler; (2) Run to Kmart to get color printer ink; and (3) Pick up the package from my dad at the Post Office. His stockings for the kids did arrive after all, but the PO didn't leave the box on the porch. Which was good, because it was pouring when we got home and the other boxes got soaked!

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My dad really stuffed their stockings with lots of fun stuff! They had a blast opening all the toys and candy and socks they received, and I was glad not to have to buy all those little stocking stuffers this year. Sorry for all the boxes in the room, but it WAS Boxing Day, after all! ;)

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Each of the kids got a couple of books, too - this was supposed to be Jack's picture, but Booger Nose Sophie snuck in there at the last second with the gummy tongue my dad gave her! You can see him elbowing her out of the way - too funny!

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Chloë's been reading about Meg Cabot all day, exclaiming about this or that from the story. I love that she's such a good reader! ♥

Phew. I'm finally done showing Christmas to you. That took two hours! Maybe now that it's almost 0500, I'll get back to sleep??

How was your Christmas, if you celebrate? I hope it was a good one!





Sunday Stealing: Good-bye, 2009 Meme


For more Sunday Stealing, click here.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

I went for a professional bra fitting for the first time. It was totally worth it!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't even remember if I made any, or what they were! I probably did; I usually do, and I'm sure I will make more.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

At home with my family, watching the ball drop on TV

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year, thank God

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed stateside this year!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More financial stability, and smaller clothes!

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 26th, the day I had my gastric bypass surgery. My new life began that day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Losing more than 150 pounds, still counting!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Keeping up with a clean house. It just doesn't last, and I'm so unmotivated in that department!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just the surgery, which was a pretty big injury to my body - but well worth it! Oh, and we all had the flu pretty badly a month or two ago. That sucked.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The best thing, really and truly, was saving LOTS of money on food and non-food stuff by reading couponing blogs and learning to get things really cheap or free. With our household economy, that was more important than ever this year.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Paying for that damn motorcycle that NEVER gets ridden!!! No, the mortgage, obviously, and paying off debt.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Any Michael Jackson song, probably.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Gone to the beach. Did we even GO to the beach this past summer? I don't think we did!

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Testing the limits on my new stomach pouch and making myself completely sick in the process!

16. What was your favourite TV program?

The Big Bang Theory

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

LOL No, but there are one or two people who I dislike a lot more now, mostly because we clash politically and they are SO close-minded to alternate points of view.

18. What was the best book you read?

A Thousand Splendid Suns

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Oh, gosh, I'm pretty lame when it comes to music, but Brett Dennen is awesome.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?


21. What did you do on your birthday?

Stressed a lot, about turning the same age as my mother when she died.

22. What kept you sane?

My drugs! (Rx of course)

23. Whom did you miss?

My mom, and our son Robby... always, always

24. Who was the best new person you met?

Melissa, I guess. One of the new moms at Brownies who is super nice and sweet.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

Never, ever, take your husband's love for granted.

Sayonara, '09!


Saturday 9: Happy New Year!


For more Saturday 9, click here.

1. What did you think of 2009?

LOTS of ups and downs, especially on the scale for me! I've lost 154.6 pounds this year, and that was great. Some things were not so terrific, but all-in-all, it was pretty decent for Team Odette.

2. What do you think was the news story of the year?

Michael Jackson's death

3. What happened this year that you never want to hear another word about?

Tiger Woods cheating on his wife with eleventeen women

4. What was your favorite song of 2009?

I like that "Say Hey (I Love You)" song by Michael Franti & Spearhead a lot...

5. What did you accomplish this year?

Mega weight loss! That was the theme for 2009 for me. The scale is my new BFF :)

6. Did you learn anything new this year?

Hmm... Yes, yes I did. I learned that even the "perfect" marriages need a lot of work, a lot of coddling, a lot of attention, and to never, never take my husband's love for granted.

7. What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Achieving my weight loss goal and looking smashing, baby! Our 9th anniversary (wow!) next week. Sophia learning to read, and Jack's reading skills improving. Attempting to start homeschooling Jack. Acquiring some Wollmeise. Being less financially unstable. Spending the summer in LA so Chloë can make some real stabs at this acting & modeling thing. Watching my guppies grow and learn more each day. Hugging and kissing my darling husband.

8. What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Keeping up the kids, or waking them up at midnight, and watching the ball drop at TV. We're full of excitement here.

9. What's the best thing you ever did on a New Year's Eve?

Sitting up with the kids and watching the ball drop on TV. Hey, just because it's not terribly exciting doesn't mean it's not my favorite thing to do!



On The Run

Monday was a busy day.

After the kids got on the bus, I had to shower and get dressed right away for my first doctor's appointment at the Navy base. It was for my referral to plastic surgery to get abdominoplasty. The doc was really pleased with my progress since the last time he saw me; he seemed just as excited about the change in me as I am, and he congratulated me at least five times!

He did caution me that they might not approve the referral, and that they might not pay for the surgery. The latter, I was certainly prepared for, but I was kind of surprised I might not even get the consult! I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I call in and see.

I stopped at the post office after that to mail a couple of Christmas packages. I waited behind several people at the APC who had no idea how to use the thing. Really? If 50 people are waiting behind you, you can't ask someone for help with the machine instead of making us wait for an hour behind your dumb ass? Annoying. Those other people were probably all on their too-short lunch hours, too!

After that, I saw Dr. P., who prescribes my bipolar meds. I asked him about getting my meds while we're living on the boat. Basically, he told me that when people have certain health issues, such as mine, they need to put their health above all else. And that if I didn't come see him after three months to get my medicine, I would no longer be his patient - and that no doctor in good conscience would prescribe me the meds for a year or more at a time. And that, basically, I shouldn't go live on a boat and travel the world. So that sucks. But, we'll find a way to do this... we will. I have faith.

While I was out and about, one of Sophie's teachers called to tell me that a parent had drawn her name for a prize, and that I needed to come and pick it up. She made it sound like there was a pile of gifts, a LOT of stuff, that couldn't be carried home on the bus. I went to the school after seeing Dr. P., and I was amused when it turned out to be one small bag of clothes! Not that I'm not grateful - I am, I really am! - but it was funny that I was expecting to need help loading the van with all of her prizes!

Later that night, she modeled all of her clothes (it was already dark out, so we had to do it inside in yucky light, sorry):


This outfit, from The Children's Place, was her favorite. She wore it today, and she looked so cute! You like Tiger Lily's butt in the picture?


Same jeans, because she didn't want to change them, with another Children's Place sweater. I really like the sweater on her; it looks great!


This little blue dress looked pretty cute on her, too. (Except for the sleeves; I think they look stupid.) She blinked massively even before the flash went off, in anticipation!


This little outfit was also quite nice, but it's a size 5 and too big for her. Especially the waist on the pants. I'll give them to Chloë, who they'll fit for the length, and pin up the waistband if they aren't adjustable. 

So that was nice, right? I don't even know whom to send the thank-you note too, because the teacher wouldn't tell me. So thank you, mystery parent!

After the school, I went home and made a bunch of phone calls before finishing the last of the three scarves I knit to sell for the CARE Package fundraiser. I already took that page off the site, so no more of those scarves! 
Then I took a nap until the bus came. I was tired! Naps rule. 


A package from Grandma - Rob's mom - arrived just before the kids came home. They all gathered around eagerly to see what it was!


It turned out to be 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, with a recording of the book read by Grandma! The kids didn't know that part yet, though. Upon seeing that it was a book, and not a truck or some car, Jack growled, "I don't want that!" and stomped away. But not long after, he stole back into the office to look at the book, and that's when he discovered that it "speaks" to him! He loved it. I kept turning around and watching him surreptitiously, as he turned the pages back and forth, back and forth, to hear the story read again and again. It was so sweet.

No one has homework this week, so the kids were pretty antsy and into everything, driving me a little crazy. I was relieved when Rob came home from work around 1800!

Jack and I went out to do a little shopping, since I'd found more great deals and steals on those blogs I told you about the other day. We went to CVS again, but they were out of the main item I wanted, a free $9 bottle of contact solution. I really need the solution, so I'll have to go again another day. I did get a free tube of Bonne Bell lip smacker in Cotton Candy for Chloë, though. Every time I turn around, she's putting more on her lips!

Then we went down the road to the nearest Walgreen's. They were out of some more stuff I wanted, but they did have a few things. Including Hot Wheels cars for 49¢ apiece, a great price. The limit was 10, so I bought 10 to stock up. I decided at that price, I will add that to the list of things the kids (namely Jack) can spend their Dad Dollars on, to keep them earning "money"!

We went to Food Lion next, to get milk and eggs and the three things I had free product coupons for: 7-Up, coffee, and chocolate chips. A weird assortment of things, but we can use all of those, and who doesn't like free? 

Another stop at the P.O. to mail more packages and expired coupons to overseas military after that.

I really wanted the super-cheap John Freida hair products the first Walgreens didn't have, so we drove to the next closest one down the road. Good thing there are lots of Wags stores in our area! They had the John Freida stuff, so I'm going to give them a try tonight when I take my shower, since I'm just about out of my other stuff and, well, I can't wait! I love new stuff. And I got 10 more of the 49¢ cars for Jack's stash.  He was in a highly excited state, like a little valance electron, over the idea of having 20 new Hot Wheels cars in his possession. Did he want to carry that bag? Of course he did.

Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

Sophia had napped the whole time we were gone, and for another hour past it, so she was up 'til about 0100 with me last night. That was fun. Not.

This morning, at the bus stop, Jack puked all over his shoes just before the bus was due to arrive. Yippee! Guess who didn't go to school today? Another mom volunteered to stay with the girls, so I could take him home. Poor thing, he had told me that his belly was upset, and I told him to "go take a good poop" when he got to school (because he said he had to go), and he'd be fine. Hahaha! And then the puking started. I'm such a good mom.

At home, he was more like his normal self, other than having a bunch of upset tummy poop. He took a long nap, and so I did the same. It was nice napping with my boy. He can be such a pill sometimes, but when he's sweet, he's very, very sweet.

For the rest of today, he has been doing little chores like sweeping up the dog hair downstairs (always a job in need of doing) and putting all the shoes away in the big shoe box, to earn Dad Dollars for buying those Hot Wheels. Between last night and today, I think he bought eight! I may have to raise the price...


When the girls got off the bus, Sophie's nose was painted red for Rudolph, and Chloë was toting two gift bags, from one from each of her teachers. She - and Soph - were excited about the candy the bags contained, but even more fun were the pencils with her name on them! She gets a lot of joy out of stuff like that.

All afternoon, for more than three hours, all three babies snoozed on the couch. It was good for me, because before then, they had been squabbling nonstop and driving me up a wall. I hate it when they fight a little bit, but when they won't stop quarreling for ages, it makes me want to shoot myself to stop hearing it!

So that's it. The kids are out of school now for the Winter Break, and Rob only has to work until 1100 or so tomorrow. And then, on Thursday, we go to Great Wolf Lodge! We can't wait. Now to find their bathing suits... guess tomorrow will be spent packing.

If I don't come back before then, have a very merry Christmas!!


Jafra Cosmetics International


Our latest order from Jafra came today. I love opening those boxes; everything looks so pretty and smells so good!

I'm in my 11th year of being a Jafra "consultant," although technically I've really only been a wholesale buyer for the past 8 years or so. I sold a lot of Jafra products those first three years. It's a high-quality, state-of-the-art cosmetics and skincare line, and once I demonstrated the items to my friends and their friends, everything pretty much sold itself.

I'm not one of those hifalutin people who needs to use top-of-the-line this and avant garde that, but when it comes to taking care of my skin, I want to use the best I can afford. And that is Jafra. And let me tell you, I definitely believe it has helped me look much younger than my 33 years. I still get ID'd often when I buy alcohol!


I use Jafra skin care exclusively. I never touch anything else, except things like Chapstick or whatever. But where I go, my Jafra goes. I use my cleanser, scrub, moisturizer and other products religiously, every day. Eye cream, lip balm, alpha hydroxy - all of it. And I love it. The really great thing about Jafra is that the products are highly concentrated, so they last a long time, making them an excellent value. In fact - true story - I almost always go into "inactive" status with Jafra between my orders, since we go such a long time before needing more good stuf!


Jafra's premiere products are the Royal Jelly line. Oh, my gosh. You have never felt a more luxurious product next to your skin - I guarantee it! I don't always use the Royal Jelly myself, but when I can get it, hoo boy, do I revel in it!


Rob has been using the men's skin care line from Jafra since we've been together. And he is no froo-froo metrosexual, either. Far from it! But he knows good stuff when he sees (and feels!) it. I have bought him several of the colognes as well, the ones that I think smell heavenly, but he's just not really a cologne person. I like them on him, though! Here is latest, updated men's set that I just got for Rob. He hasn't tried it out yet, but I'm sure it'll be great.


I've been using Jafra's color care, like mascara, lipsticks and nailcolor, almost exclusively from the beginning, too. It's only recently that I've been using one or two other things from other brands - but only because I've been able to get them free from shopping the deals, not because I prefer them. Actually, that Almay mascara I just bought? I don't like it at all.


When I really want to pamper myself, nothing gets better than Jafra's Spa line. Oh, man, that stuff smells amazing, and it feels incredible on my skin, too. In fact, after I'm done here, I think I'll go upstairs and give myself a little spa session tonight!


This is the peppermint foot care line. I use the scrub in the shower every time my feet get rough, and I use the lotion after every single shower to keep them soft and feeling fresh. And - don't tell Jafra this, because they would probably faint - I even use the foot scrub on my face in the shower sometimes, because the peppermint wakes me up when I'm so tired!  


 In the summertime, we go through tons of Jafra's sun care products. I use the SPF lip balm religiously on myself and the kids, and of course we use the sunblock every time we're out in the sun. But for those times when we get too much sun, the after sun lotion is a godsend. It really soothes the sting, and we slather it on just to get that "ahhhh" feeling.


When my children were babies, starting with now-8yo Chloë, I was a big proponent of massaging their tiny bodies. I would give them a warm bath and then softly rub them from head to toe, front and back, with Jafra's Tender Moments massage cream. It was an incredible bonding experience for us both, and it left their skin softer than you could imagine. I used the entire Tender Moments line on all of them, and we loved it.


This Orange & Vanilla bath set is new, and mine just arrived in today's shipment. I can't wait to try it! I use shower gel, body oil and lotion like they're going out of style, because I cannot stand to have one bit of dry skin on my body. Normally, my mainstays are either the Royal Almond or Royal Ginger lines, but I'm excited to try this new "flavor" introduced for the holiday season. So far, it smells terrific! 


I also just got this Royal Pomegranate set of shower gel, oil and lotion, and I'm excited to try it, too. I'll let you know what I think, if you're interested!

Now, why am I telling you all this? Because even though I haven't actively been selling Jafra for several years now, I'm a devoted user of their products and really believe they are the best quality available. And I'm offering you a chance to experience Jafra for yourself at a 25% discount, which is almost my entire profit margin. I'm not looking to make money off this; I just want to share some really great skin care with you!

{If you're interested in finding out how to do what I do, whether it's be a wholesale buyer or actually sell Jafra, I can help you with that, too. It was a great income supplement for me in my early 20s, and it was fun, too!}

So that's my spiel. Try Jafra! ;)


And Now, A Look Back

This will probably be a very long post, so get a snack.


What is that mess?, you might wonder. Well, let's see...


That would be the five ornaments I made for the annual ornament swap organized by one of the crafting blogs that I read.  (Yes, I read a lot of blogs.) The category this year was "Fairy Tales," and it took me a couple weeks of thinking about that and not coming up with anything before I decided on these... things. And by "decided," I mean I dumped out the bag of supplies I bought for Chloë's canceled 7th sleepover Fairyland birthday party and started sticking things together in the hopes that they would look, well, fairy-ish. 

Steph said they looked okay. I kept asking her if they looked stupid. She kept saying no. If you disagree, please tell me. I won't care! They're kinda pretty anyway, whatever they are. (Whatever they are is 18-gauge wire wrapped in lace and porcelain flowers.) Fairy tutus? Halos? Skirts? I don't know. Use your imagination. Yeah, your imagination, that was the plan from the jump. *wink, wink*


Each participant is matched up with five others. Our exchanges started rolling in late last week, and this one was the first. A cool idea, it's made with, I think, old Christmas cards découpaged onto an empty ribbon spool. I don't know that it fits the theme so much, but then again, last year I completely forgot there was a theme, and who really cares, anyway? 
 The next one to come in was this huge guy, a painted wooden pegasus. I couldn't get Jack to smile and not blink at the same time, so never mind that. The girls loved this one!


I love this one, which arrived yesterday. It's Rapunzel!! In her tower! What a cute, clever idea. Very nifty. It wins the gold star for the exhange from me ... so far. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Two more to go!



This past Friday, we had Chloë's Brownie troop's feast. The kids never went to school that day, so we were the first to arrive at the church at the agreed-upon time of 0330. The night before, I had put together these bags for each of the Brownies, just as a sort of little party favor thing. Basically, I had 8 of everything from the Advent box left over, and since there are 8 girls in the troop, well, der. It was a no-brainer. (The gift bags in the back were for Jack at the feast, Sophie, and Chloë's to exchange.)


I just used some of my scrapbooking supplies to make their little name tags, and I thought they looked okay, but Chloë loved them! It's good to get the seal of approval from your kid, right?


So, we dropped her off, and then the Littles and I ran to the party store to do a mystery shop. For my required $5 purchase, I got all of these pretty long-stemmed lollipops. Don't they look gorgeous? I was going to save them for gift-toppers and stocking stuffers (that first came out "stucking stoffers"), but the kids wanted one NOW, and I gave in. I mean, why not? But they are just so pretty, I like looking at them.

Oh, we ran to Target after that, too, because it was right next to that party store, and I had more coupons for $15 off a Blu-Ray/DVD combo (G-Force, this time), along with some other stuff. I forget what. Oh, rechargeable batteries, which is great now that we have a battery recharger (totally worth it), two disposable Kodak cameras that I got for free for the kids to take to Great Wolf Lodge, and a couple other small things. No pictures. Lucky you. We ran home to pick up Rob, before heading back to the church for the feast.


Sophie didn't feel well. Chloë didn't feel well. When we got there, she was sitting around, feeling miserable, trying not to cry. Not helping with the cooking and set-up, which was fine with me and the Leader, I guess, because she was visibly sick. Did she want to go home? No, she wanted to stay. Perhaps we should have left, though, because they kept coughing and not covering their mouths, despite the thousand reminders we kept giving them...


Jacky didn't feel too well either, but he was the best feeling of the bunch. I don't know why Rob was putting on the stiff upper lip here. Don't ask me.

005The Little Guy kept asking if we were going to have turkey (yes). Sometimes he wanted it, other times he did NOT want it. He's so capricious. In the end, I think he ate a decent amount.


After we ate, the girls sang a few songs for us. If you can see the wet spot on Chloë's pants (far right), she didn't have an accident. Rob spilled his gravy on her, or his drink, or something. Poor thing!


Then the girls did their Flag Ceremony. You'll probably have to turn the sound way up; I can barely hear it at all. Can you?


Afterward, it was time to hand out all the patches, Try-Its and other rewards the girls have earned so far this year, their third in Brownies. They started out together in kindergarten as Daisies, and most of the girls have been together since the beginning. It's pretty cool.


Everything Chloë's earned so far this year. There was another Try-It that she earned, but since she's already gotten that one (a year or two ago, when I took her to the local Girl Scouts HQ in Chesapeake for activities apart from her troop), she doesn't get a second one.


023  024 

Finally, it was time for the gift exchange! Jack was particularly eager to get his present, which turned out to be just another Hot Wheels car, along with a pencil sharpener/eraser combo from the Book Fair. Exciting to him, though; he just can't get enough of them! Sophie got more of the extra stuff from the Advent box and a multi-colored pen I had picked up from the Book Fair. She seemed to like everything okay.


After all the girls, and the siblings, had their gifts, everyone opened them and shared with each other what they'd gotten. I feel really bad, because we gave a Webkinz, and it turned out not to have a tag on it! I never noticed... but I should have looked, because Sophia has been known to take them off in the past. D'oh!! J., the girl who got it, was really understanding and non-plussed about it, but I still feel terrible. We are on the hunt!

026Chloë ended up getting a couple of Littlest Pet Shop things, which she loves, but I didn't get a decent picture of that. 

And do you remember baby Vivian? She's now about to turn TWO!! I can't believe how big she's gotten. And all that hair! So cute. What an adorable little girl.

We packed up and left shortly after that, ostensibly to get the sickies home, but I also had to run and do another party store shop before they closed. I was going to get more lollies for the kids, but then I remembered that I am collecting all of their decorations for when Rob turns the big 4-0 in a few years. This time, I got the big banner to hang; last time, I got some candles. I thought I had bought a third thing, but now I can't find it...



Skipping around... On the 13th, last Sunday, we had a candle-lighting ceremony in our home for Robby and other children we know who have died. It was the Worldwide Candle Lighting, sponsored by the Compassionate Friends, but no one came even though we posted it - and invited everyone I know - on Facebook, and on the CF website.  That's okay, though, because it meant I didn't have to clean! Next year, I'm hoping I can get with the program well in advance of the event and ask our church to host the event for us. There isn't a chapter for Hampton Roads, which is pretty surprising, considering its size and importance in the state. Er, commonwealth.

So, each of the kids, and then Rob and I, lit a candle. The kids stood around while Rob and I hugged each other and cried a wee bit. It's been almost seven years...


The day before that, on Saturday, was the Santa breakfast at the kids' school. I tell you what, this Santa thing is so weird. The kids "know" that he's not real, but I don't think they quite believe it, because they're still just as excited about him as always. Weird, right?

001Rob had to work, but then he didn't because his radiator sprung a leak, so he had to fix that whilst I took the kids to the Santa breakfast. The first thing we did was eat our reakfast. We really didn't eat much at all, and for the most part, all of that stuff you see on the table got stuffed into my purse for later!



Midnight the (blue) Panther made an appearance after we finished eating, and my kids, especially Chloë, never get tired of seeing him. I remember when she was in kindergarten or first grade, Midnight went "away" to visit the troops in the Middle East, and she was absolutely heartbroken about it the entire time!


While we were waiting in line for the kids to sit on Santa's lap, the girls wrote him letters about what they wanted for Christmas. Chloë didn't let me see hers, but all Sophia wrote was her name before dropping hers in the mailbox!


Finally, it was time to meet the Big Guy! The kids were all smiles as they posed for pictures and whispered to him what they might like. None of them would tell me what they told him. But, they know that their Christmas present this year is the trip to Great Wolf Lodge, so hopefully they'll understand that as far as big gifts go, that is IT! (And feel free to tell me how cute my babies are! ♥)


The each got a coloring book and another small present, but I'll be darned if I can remember what they were. They probably do... actually I think the girls each got a necklace and bracelet set, and a lipgloss keychain. Jack can't remember what he received. Oh, right, he got a little finger skateboard, and a hackey sack which was lost before we even left that morning.




We headed to the craft tables after that. The first one was for the six-and-under crowd, but at the very end of the event, they let Chloë do it, too. They decorated cookies with red and green frosting and all kinds of sprinkles. Sophie ate hers before I could take a picture. Not surprising. Everything goes right into the mouth.



The girls colored pictures to hang up in the cafeteria after that, while Jack played with his hackie sack. Rob showed up then, surprising us all! 


A little moment of joy, on the part of a small boy


Rob took the girls to make ornaments, but before we left, Rob had broken Chloë's silver ball, and Sophia had ripped the reindeer bits of her candy cane and eaten it. Such is life!


The day before that, Friday, was Sophia's Christmas breakfast at school. No cameras allowed, so I can't show you anything from that. It was really cute, though. The kids performed songs and poems, and they were just as adorable as could be. We all ate breakfast together, and it was a mighty feast. There were snacks and fruit and sandwiches and pies and cakes and all manner of things I can't eat. I had egg salad and tuna salad, and I was grateful it was there. 

Creative Movement Open House Collage

Earlier that week, we went to Open House at the girls' dance classes. First was Sophia's Music in Motion class. She's SO silly. And she looks so big compared to the other girls, most of whom were three years old. She'll be five in April. Not that she cares about the size difference. She just adores Miss Jessica and going to dance class. It's a whole different world from going to soccer!


The next class was Chloë's Jazz I. When she focused, she was pretty good at it... but she wasn't good at focusing. It was very apparent that she is having a hard time paying attention, not just in school, but at dance class as well. So, I guess we need to get her some help with that, to develop some tools for being able to focus on what needs to be done.


Finally, we watched her Ballet I class, which is her favorite. She seemed to pay attention a lot better in there, even though it was only her 2nd or 3rd week back to that class after soccer ended. That's meaningful, I know.  I'll use that information when I'm teaching her on the boat!

All in all, I'm so proud of my lovely ladies and their accomplishments in dance. I love going to watch them perform and interact with their friends!



We baked a lot of cookies, the first Sunday in December. Not quite as many as I usually do, but still a lot. The girls helped bake; the boy helped eat.


And, I even broke from my strict "from scratch" only rules for the beginning of the baking, because we had mixes for gingerbread cookies and pumpkin spice cookies, and the children wanted them so. And, I usually give the vast majority of the cookies away, leaving my children wondering why they really couldn't have any, so I vowed not to do that to them this year. The mix cookies were just the thing. I didn't want to give those away, and the kids wanted them, so it all worked out just right. 


I still had some of that frosting in the spray can, and the kids wanted that on their cookies. You may say nasty (and I may agree), but the kids say Yum!


Chloë added some Christmas sprinkles to hers.


And then, I started the "real" baking. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of all the cookies before I packaged them up and sent them away! Duh! But here are some strawberry linzer rounds. Don't they look delish?


More linzer rounds, some homemade Oreo-like cookies, rolled in crushed walnuts, and chocolate crackle cookies. Some of the cookies I made this year were from my old standby, the Crisco cookie cookbook that I've had for at least 15 years, but some were new, from the Martha Stewart cookie cookbook that Rob's sister gave me a year or two ago, for my birthday or Christmas. I love that book and want to make every variety in it! Someday, I will, too.

I gave the cookies away to three of our neighbors, each of the girls' three dance instructors, Steph (well, Tim, since Steph can't have any milk products thanks to Luke's allergies), and.. well, I guess that's it. Oh, and I took a bunch to Bunco. Usually I give some to the mailman and the fire department around the corner, too. At least. Guess I better get bakin'!


And now, you're pretty much caught up. Sure, there are things I've skipped over and pictures I've missed, but that's the big stuff. I have more pictures of Luke, but since they're old and I've shown more recent ones of him, I don't think I'll post those.

Oh, and one last thing: Please, please, PLEASE send me your address, so I can mail you our Christmas card. I have so many!!

Okay, I'm off to knit those three scarves and watch Slumdog Millionaire from Netflix. Toodles!


It Snowed!


Not a lot, as you can see, but some. Some is more than we usually get, so it's a big deal for the kids. Two funny things Sophia said this morning, as we drove around getting deals:

(1) "I forgot about snow!"


(2) "I want to go out and make a snow angel!" Nevermind that there's, like, less than a millimeter of snow on the ground. And she's sick, so no, there will be no snow angels for Sophia on this day!

So I'm going to try and play catch-up with you, since I have some time. And by "have some time," what I really mean is I'm supposed to be knitting three scarves that someone ordered from the CARE Package website, which I said would be ready by tomorrow. I'd forgotten I still had those scarves for sale on the site, and I really need to take that down, because (1) I really don't want to make them anymore, and (2) hardly any of those colors are even available in anywhere, at least around here. I looked. Everywhere.


I've been up since 1 or 2 AM, after sleeping on and off all day Saturday, along with the kids. And Rob. We're sick. I think it's just a cold, for me, but the kids have all had fevers, so who knows. They missed school on Wednesday AND on Friday. All that to say, I've been up for hours, and I used that time, as I am wont to do, to browse the couponing and deal blogs that I read, coming up with plans to save beaucoup bucks this morning!

Sophia woke up just before I was leaving, and she wanted to come with me.


Our first stop was at CVS. I've actually never been to a CVS before, but there were so many good deals this week that I decided to give it a go. My mainstay is Walgreens for good H&BA deals. Here's what I got:

  • Two packages of Glade Scented Oil Candle refills, in Dewberry Dreams
  • Two Glade candles, in Apple Cinnamon (mmm)
  • Revlon lipstick, in Blush
  • 500 mL bottle of Listerine mouthwash
  • Almay mascara, in blackest black
  • Barbie toothbrush by Zooth, for Sophia
  • Crest with Scope toothpaste
  • Nivea body wash, in some kind of citrusy flavor that I forget b/c it's upstairs now
  • Shick intuition razor, in cucumber melon
  • 4 packages of Thermacare neck-to-arm heat wraps
  • 4 Hot Wheels cars, for Jack (not shown, because he took them away)
  • Party pack of 10 cans of Play-Doh, for Sophia (not shown b/c she took them)
  • Aleril Sleep Aid, 4 ct

And guess how much I paid out of pocket for all that, after sale prices, coupons and Extra Care Bucks? $7.56!!!! (That's after the $10 I used from the kids' Grandpa in cash, too, for their cars and Play-Doh. Full disclosure. I didn't get Chloë something because she didn't want me to hold her $5, and now she's lost it.) Awesome, right?! I love getting good deals. LOVE it. And we can use all of that, except maybe the Aleril, which was free, so I can give it away without care.

Oh, and that new red bag that you can sorta see in the back of the picture, but which is really great and I love it? I got that for $2.99, including shipping, from Woman Within. I think it was originally a $35 bag.

So if you like deals - and steals! - you gotta start reading some of these blogs. I highly recommend Deal Seeking Mom (link above); hers is The Best.


Next, we went to Target. From the Deal Seeking Mom site, I'd gotten a link to a $10 manufacturer's coupon and a $5 Target coupon for the Tinkerbell Blu-Ray/DVD combo, and since I'm collecting those right now, yee-haw! I got it for only five bucks, and it'll be a great stocking stuffer for one of the girls. Plus there's a $5 mail-in rebate that I may not use, because you have to buy popcorn seasoning stuff. And Steph, even though you showed me how to pop my own popcorn instead of buying the microwave stuff, I haven't done it yet! ;)

I don't know why I included the printer ink in the picture. There was no deal on that. Der.

But, there was a deal on the e.l.f. mascara duo here, where you can get a $5 coupon for any e.l.f. purchase - and I only spent a buck on the mascara. Sweet.

So it was a good morning, money-wise. Sophie was just excited about the Barbie toothbrush and Tinkerbell movie, and I was glad for the company.


When we got home, the other two kids were up, so we did the daily Advent box. They each got a little toy out of the box (a kazoo, a ball puzzle, a deck of snowman cards). Today's activity is to drive around looking at Christmas lights. We didn't do yesterday's activity - go down to the Lights at the Beach - so we'll do that tonight, too. Probably.  

(And speaking of deals, the tickets for that are normally $10 a carload, but I bought it for $7 from our school's PTA. And I can fit three more people in the car, if you wannna come along!)

To be continued...


Sunday Stealing: Holiday Edition

If you're playing along today, link up here.

1. What is your favorite holiday show/animated show?

I don't really have one. I love them all, I guess.

2. What holiday character do you think you're most like?

Linus. Always looking and waiting for the perfect experience, whatever it may be.

3. What holiday character does your spouse think you're most like?

I'd ask him, but he's sound asleep. Someone annoying, I'm sure!

4. Favorite Christmas/holiday song?

The First Noel, because it was my mother's favorite and I want to emulate her. No, really, I love it its own right.

5. Most hated Christmas/holiday song?

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. I used to love it and think it was funny, but it really doesn't capture the spirit of Christmas for me, and I'm so over it.

6. If you have an all holiday music radio station when do you start listening to it?

Sometime right after Thanksgiving. I don't listen to it constantly, though, or I'd get super sick of it long before Christmas. But the kids ask for it whenever they're in the car, so we're listening to it a lot more than usual right now.

7. If you have an all holiday music radio station do you love it or hate it?

I love it. It serves a good purpose. And it's not my main station, or even my second favorite, so I can always switch to something else.

8. Have you ever wrapped yourself as a Christmas present?

Uh, no.

9. Who is Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer's father?

Rudolph Sr., duh.

10. Do you drive your neighborhood or one near you at night to look at other people's holiday decorations?

Yes, we do that every year. Not our neighborhood, it's lame and not a lot of people put up decorations. But a couple near us go all out!!

11. When you see a heavily decorated house do you think, 'oh that's lovely'? Or do you think, 'oh criminy, that looks like Christmas threw up all over their lawn'?

I'm just in awe that they don't have other things they could really be spending their money on.

12. Are you counting the days to Christmas with excited anticipation or dread?

The former! I can't wait to go to Great Wolf Lodge and see the fun my kids are going to have.

13. When was the last time you had your photo taken with Santa? Did you sit on his lap?

I don't know that I ever have. I'm sure my dad has a picture of it somewhere, if I did.

14. Do you make a Christmas list for your spouse or significant other or do you rely on them to pick your gift(s) without a clue from you?

Make a list?? What am I, ten? We're lucky if we give each other anything, and if we do, it's usually something we've discussed long before hand.

15. When do you put up your tree?

The first weekend in December.

16. Real or fake?

Fake, definitely. I don't want to deal with all that watering and those fallen needles, and I don't want to be responsible for cutting down a tree. Every year. No, no, it's fake for me.

17. When do you take your tree down?

Rob likes to take it down by New Year's.

18. Do you shop the day after Christmas sales? What do you shop for?

I have in the past, but only for decorations. Never for gifts. Who knows if my kids are going to like the same things a year later?

19. Is your work/office having a holiday party this year? Will you attend?

Me no worky.

20. Do you have your New Year's Eve Plans set yet?

If staying home with our kids and watching the ball drop counts as "plans," then yes.

Saturday 9: White Christmas


If you're playing along today, link up with Samantha!

1. If you live where you get winter weather, do you prefer your Christmas to be white? If you never see snow, do you wish for it?

I used to live where there was tons of lake-effect snow, and I hated every minute of it. Now, we don't get much snow at all, and no, I don't miss it for a second!

2. How many holiday cards did you receive from people you hadn't sent cards to, after the "mailing deadline?" Did you send a card anyway?

I always send way more cards then we get, so that never happens. But if it did, I would send a card for sure.

3. When the clock strikes Midnight on New Year's, will you be at home, at a party, or somewhere else?

More than likely, I will be at home with my little family, where I prefer to be on New Year's Eve.

4. Have you ever taken the keys and driven home a friend that you felt was too drunk to drive? If not, do you think you would attempt to if that situation ever arose?

That situation has never come up for me, as we always have a DD. But I would in a heartbeat. I was hit by a drunk driver once. There's a special place in hell for drunk drivers who kill people, yes there is.

5. Tell us about a gift that you either bought or made for someone else that you wanted for yourself!

I can't think of anything specific off the top of my head, but for sure I have knitted or crocheted things for people that I would have loved to have kept for me!

6. What chores do you have left for the holidays?

Really, just to pack for our trip. I'll have to break out the summer clothes to get our bathing suits. I have a couple things to wrap and ship, too.

7. If you could buy one gift for yourself where money was not an obstacle, what would it be?

A trip to Australia

8. What is one of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?

We love to go to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. The kids get to hold a candle, while we and everyone around us keep one eye open during the prayers to make sure they aren't setting themselves or anyone else on fire! We sing carols and feel an overwhelming sense of Christian fellowship. Sadly, we're going to miss it this year, as we'll be away, but I'm sure we'll all be thinking about it!

9. If you could give a fellow blogger a holiday gift, which would it be and what would you give them?

I would give Stephanie and her family a huge check to help them through these tough times!


Aloha Friday


Be sure and link up with Kailani if you're asking a fun question this week!

Since we're forgoing buying much in the way of presents in favor of making a memory instead (ie, spending Christmas Eve and Day at Great Wolf Lodge), my question for you this week is:

What's your holiday spending like? How much, what kinds of things do you get, do you have a theme, anything? Have you pledged to have a handmade holiday? What are you getting your kids and families?

Okay, so that's like 16 questions in one, but I really want to know!  I haven't researched the latest cool toys and things this year, because of the plan instead to travel and do something fun, so I'm out of the loop. Fill me in on what you're giving and getting! ☺


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

I think it has been three weeks since my last confession fragmentin', and lookee-here,Mrs. 4444 has gone and changed her button on me! Isn't it nice? I wish I had a nice button.

So, here we go:


☼ I bought a box of sugar-free candies yesterday, and I decided to share a piece with each of the kids after school today. Over dinner, I was telling Rob (hubs) that all three of them dove head-first into the box and then found their piece disgusting, spit it out, and threw it away. Chloë, 8, piped up, "No, Mom, I didn't throw mine away! I dropped it and picked off the hair, and ate it!"


Well, that's life with three kids and three very sheddy pets!

☼ From the back of the van, driving down the road, Sophia, 4½, declared, "Mom, I always go poop when I drink drinks!"

Really, now?

☼ Chloë was talking about when she and Jack and Sophia were born, and we had this conversation:

C: "Mom, were you born in 2001?"

M:"No, silly, then I'd be the same age as you!"

C: "Oh. Well, when were you born, the 1950s?"

M: "Noooo! I was born in 1976!"

C: "Well, when was your mom born?"

M: "1951"

C: "And when was your dad born?"

M: "1942"

C: "1942?! Wow! And he's not dead yet??"

Ha! Out of the mouths of babes...

☼ Jack, 6½, saw me naked (which isn't unusual) while I was weighing myself the other morning, and he looked puzzled. Finally, he asked me, "Mom, why do your boobs droop down like that?"

Hey, man. We can't all be porn stars.

☼ The kids were asking about Santa Claus after I revealed the truth about his existence, and I was telling them about St. Nicholas. Sophia asked if he was dead. I said, "Well, he was born hundreds of years ago..." and either Jack or Chloë (can't remember) interjected, "Was he born before Daddy?"

No sense of time, these small people!

☼ Chloë was unbuckling Jack from his car seat for me, and she yelled at him, "Jack, come on! Suck in your penis!"


☼ Sophia said, "Mommy, when I'm a grown-up, are you going to die?" And I said, "Well, yeah... eventually, honey." And she said, "No, you won't, Mommy, 'cause I'll take care of you!"

Awwww. ♥

☼ And then she said, "And tell me which way to go to get to the doctor!"

She's always worrying about how she's going to find her way around (to the store, to the movies, everywhere) when she's a grown-up. Like I'm just going to blindfold the poor kid, spin her around, and throw her out into the world!

☼ Hahaha! I always record my cute quotes into my iPhone's voice recorder app, and the kids know it. They're always telling me, "Put that one on your phone!" when I laugh at what they say. So... the other day, I asked Sophie to go get my iPhone for me, and she took forever and a day. I didn't know WHAT the hold-up was... until just now. She was recording herself and Jack talking into my voice recorder for several minutes! And I'm in the background, yelling, "Sophie! Where is my iPhone? What took you so long! Come on!" Teehee, that stinker. She kills me.


1. People who park in handicapped spots, when they're not handicapped. Especially at night, when the business is slow. Like at the bank's ATM or at the post office. There's no time limits on being handicapped! You don't get to use that spot just because it's the middle of the night! A$$holes!

2. Having to wait in line at the Post Office's APC (Automatic Postal Center) late at night, with one little package, behind someone with literally 50 boxes who walked in just ahead of me. Really? You couldn't let me go in ahead of you, and I had to wait for all that? And then, come to find out, I waited all that time and the package drop bin was locked, which you never bothered to tell me! (I didn't know that's why they were taking the packages home.) Grr!

3. Do smokers think they're not littering just because it's something so small that they're throwing out their car windows? HELLO! It's STILL littering, people - and it's on FIRE, no less. Get a clue, and get a conscience. UGH.

4. When meaty girls wear tight jeans that cause their fat to gush up over the top, all painfully obvious under their also-too-tight t-shirts. Do they think that looks GOOD? What is up with that? (And let's not even talk about the serious camel-toe that causes in the front, remaining safely in the back with those major love handles.) Dude. Go up a size or two and thank me later.

Welp, that's all for me, have a great weekend!





Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

Um, that doesn't mean anything. It just happens to be the song playing on my iTunes right now.

We took the kids out for dinner to an Indian restaurant tonight, because we had a certificate that was expiring, to broaden their horizons. Rob had never had Indian cuisine before. I did, once, when I lived in Miami. The quadriplegic man I was taking care of used to take me out to dinner to all kinds of cool places - he introduced me to sushi, too - and took me to an Indian place once. I had no idea what I ate then, as he did all the ordering. So I wasn't any use when it came to the menu!


The kids were enthralled with the décor. They could barely contain themselves, craning their necks around to look at every cool thing. We liked the copper cups, too. Pretty cool


Another view of the restaurant. It looks like Rob was whacking Jack in the head, but really he was just caressing his son!


This was the appetizer I ordered for us. It's called Chat Papri. I don't know what-all is in there, other than the obvious chick peas. The menu had descriptions, but I can't remember. Rob liked it. As for me, eh. I didn't like the flavor so much.


I ordered the kids a plate of Cheese Pakora, which came with fries. They hungrily ate the fries, but that was about all they were gung-ho about! They wouldn't touch the Chat Papri, and only Sophia liked the Cheese Pakora - dipped in the ketchup, no less. Rob ate the rest.


These are the veggie apps that came with my vegan entrée. Some kind of veggie dumpling. They were good, but I didn't really like the sauce. Again, Rob did. However, I kept dipping it in that sauce anyway, maybe because I felt all authentic doing so?


This was my vegan entrée. I love that there were a lot of vegan/vegetarian options, even though I'll eat chicken and certain fish. There was a chickpea salad, a cucumber salad, a sweet carrot and raisin pudding, a tofu and spinach thing that I really liked, veggie rice, and naan (bread). Really delicious meal. Waaaay too much for me to eat in one sitting, or even three. I didn't take that much home, though, because Rob ate a bunch of it, and the kids had some, too. Chloë and Jack were partial to the cucumber salad (after declaring that they didn't LIKE cucumbers. Who doesn't like cukes??), and Chloë kept trying to convince Sophia to try the carrot pudding. Everyone else liked it but her. She didn't like ANYthing except the dessert.


Rob's Goat Dhansak. Yes, goat. He's a pretty adventurous eater. He would eat monkey brains if you put it in front of him.


While we waited for dessert, I took this picture of the light fixture hanging very low over our table. Like everything else in there, it was, well, interesting to look at. Rob would like to go back to Rajput sometime, sans monkeys children. 

Dessert was Gulab Jamun, these two honeyed balls of something or other. I cut each one into quarters and let everyone (except me) have two pieces. Chloë liked them a lot, but Sophia devoured them like an alley cat who hasn't had a decent meal in six weeks. Jack turned up his nose. Rob thought they were good, but he gave his second one to hungry Sophia. I didn't try them, but if her reaction was any indication, I missed out on something good!


On the way out, we helped ourselves to some candied fennel seeds, which the proprietor said would aid digestion. They were good, licorice-flavored. All the kids wanted seconds. I shamelessly gave it to them. What the hell?

So, what say you? Do you want to see pictures and hear stories about some of the things we did while I was sans computer, or just move on? There aren't a whole ton, but there are some, anyway. Lemme know, please.



Sunday Stealing

So I'm not quite back in the blogging grove. In the meantime, link up here if you're stealing today.


Is easy to love?

My husband. He drives me crazy sometimes, but I could never not love him.

Do you just wanna smack?

Obama. What the hell, dude? It's getting harder and harder to be supportive...
Do you trust?

Again, my husband.

Do you talk to when you're alone?

Myself, and/or God.


Dangerous things do you do while driving?

Well, I text and check my email, but ONLY when I'm stopped at a red light. Not actually while driving. And I talk on the phone sometimes. But I try not to, or pull over when I need to make a call...

Are you allergic to?

In 2008, I was allergic to every other thing I came into contact with. It was really weird. Pool (the chlorine), strawberries and apples, every other medicine I took. So strange. But that has stopped. Who knows what was up there?

Is Satan's last name?

What a dumb question.

Is the freakiest thing in your house?...

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a sex-related question or not, but I'm going a different route. We bought this large wooden devil mask at an open-air market in Guam, because Rob loved it. It's supposed to be a "good" devil (I know, whatevs) that wards off evil spirits, or something. Rob just thought it was cool, and we like to get something cool wherever we go. But it freaks a lot of people out, because it's a little scary-looking!


Is it time to turn over a new leaf?

When the path you're on isn't going anywhere good.

Will you be all that you can be?

I try to be that every day. Sometimes I don't measure up to my own standards, but you know what? Every day is a new chance to try again.

Is enough enough?

See answer to the "new leaf" question (this is a dumb meme, but here I am).

Do you go to the dark side?

When I don't take my bipolar meds!


Are your pants?

On me...

Is your last will and testament?

I don't really have one. Give all my shit to Rob and the kids. There. Now I do.

Is your junk food stash?


Is Carmen Sandiego?



Was the Lone Ranger alone?


Was The Scarlet Letter scarlet?


Are musicians sexy and plumbers not?


Are there no seat belts on school buses?

Some do. But that's a good question, it pisses me off. 

Would you...

Swim the English Channel for a doughnut and coffee? If not that, what?

C'mon, who wrote this damn thing? Of course not. Have a pile of Wollmeise (hard-to-find yarn) at the other end, though, and we''ll talk.

Forgive someone who deliberately hurt you?

I have done that, over and over again. There's only one person I haven't been able to forgive. Maybe if she would own up to the way she treated me and say she was sorry, but until then, I hope she dies a horrible, painful death. Soon.

Rather believe a lie if it hurt you less than the truth?

No. I want the truth, no matter how painful. I don't like to stick my head in the ground.

You still be alive if you were sucked out of an airplane window?

Stupid, stupid.

Sorry to make you waste your time reading this bullshit! LOL


Saturday 9: Don't Talk To Strangers


To play along, link up with Samantha. I'll jump right in:

1. Tell us about a night that you spent with someone who was a stranger, yet by the end of the night you were very close.

Hmmm.... Okay, this is how I really met my friend Victor.  We lived in the same dorm, on the same floor, in my second year of college. He was SO gorgeous. We smiled at each other since he first transferred there, but we never really spoke to each other. One night, I quit my job at the grocery store for reasons I won't go into here, but I came home sobbing. Victor was at the elevator end of the hallway when I came in; he was getting a drink of water from the fountain. He saw my tears and asked what was wrong. We started talking. Eventually, we moved down to my dorm room, where we spent the whole night getting to know each other's lives. We kind of had a little fling after that, but it didn't really go anywhere. We're still friends. (And he's still hot.)

2. When is the last time you rode the bus?

This past summer, my husband and I took the kids down to the oceanfront and rode the bus and trolleys around, pressing pennies in the souvenir machines for our growing collection. It was a blast!

3. Describe the last time you stood up for a cause.

Recycling. It's über-important to me, and it freaking KILLS me when people don't do it. Seriously, seeing someone throw a Coke can away in the garbage just tears me up inside. Don't do it, people. Well, my kids' school is terrible about recycling, like they just don't care. That seems so incongruent to me - it's a place of education, yet they are so stupid about this! I have spoken to the Principal about it more than once, but at Movie Night last weekend, it's still the same situation. I'm going to fire off an email - or a phone call, if I get the nerve - to the Superintendent's office. Something oughtta be done about it.

4. What is something you would like to do, but you're afraid of the risk(s)?

Homeschooling my kids. I'm going to do it eventually, but I'm terrified I'm going to wreck them!

5. What would you most like to accomplish before the year is over?

That's not much time - it's what, less than three weeks? I guess one thing I'd like to get done before then is finish Luke's layette (but I really need to have that done before the 15th, so I shouldn't be here!) and get my pictures recovered from the old PC so I can start digi-scrapping again!

6. Name something you'll miss about 2009.

I can't really think of anything. It was a bad year for my electronics - damn near EVERYTHING broke on me! But I did lose 150 lbs (and counting) - I'll miss the excitement of that fast weight loss, I guess!

7. If you could invent something, what would it be?

If I had a really great idea, something worthwhile, I'd be working on it, and I wouldn't tell you!

8. What first got you started blogging?

I needed a place to pour it out. That was on my old blahg on MySpace. Since then, it's changed to a place, mainly, where I can keep our far-flung family and friends abreast of our daily lives, whether they want to read it or not! ;)

9. How did you find this meme?

I think I literally googled "Saturday meme" when I was bored and looking for another way to waste time blogging when I should have been doing something!




Well, I'm back.

The new computer arrived yesterday, and rather than waiting for Rob to hook it all up for me, as I normally would, I just did it myself. It's not that it's difficult, I just hate messing with all those cords.

So I'm on Windows 7 now, which is a world of difference from Windows XP. Wow! I like it so far, but I don't know where everything is yet.

I have a billion things I ought to be doing, and sitting here isn't really one of them (I need to shower, do laundry, and bake cookies for Bunco tonight, for starters), so a quick post is all I'm going to do. Not to worry, you're not going to get one huge, long update for all those days I missed! ;)

The kids are still loving doing the Advent box. They've gotten lots of toys and candies for treats, and activities have included baking cookies with Mom, giving flowers to our neighbors, and today, playing charades as a family. We usually do the activities after school and in the evening, but they open the box before school.

Someone said at least I'll get a lot done while I'm off the computer. Well that's true, I guess. I am halfway through knitting Luke's pants - which seem like they're going to be ginormous, darn it - and have baked dozens and dozens of cookies. I'll show pictures later, after I figure out how to get my pictures where I want them on my new computer. We delivered cookies to all three dance teachers and three of our neighbors, and of course I have more to give out to friends.

The one difference this year is that I'm letting my family eat and keep as many as they want, rather than giving them ALL away! What's the point in that?

Our tree is up, laundry is under control, and I've been cleaning the house. Not that it's too clean, mind you. I figure if my house is spotless, it means we're not having enough fun! So for now, I'm settling for "good enough."

I volunteered at the school's Movie Night for 3½ hours on Friday, while the family watched Ice Age III, and I had a meeting at school for parents of Gifted Students. A workshop. I kind of had a meltdown there, stressing about Chloë who, in turn, seems stressed out herself. We may have her tested for ADD. I don't know, I'm still debating.

It's raining, it's pouring, and after that huge November Nor'easter we had, I'm groaning inwardly with every raindrop. I'm sick of rain! At least it's not freezing out, like it was yesterday. And I hear tons of you have snow, so I shouldn't complain too much. I loathe the snow.

So I guess that's it. I'll resume regular blogging now. Ta-ta!