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Entries from January 2010

It's Like A Winter El Niño Out There

Friday was a pretty slow news day. I mean, I took pictures of my mail to show you, that's how boring it was:


The mailman dropped four packages on our porch. The first was this new sippy cup from Juicy-Juice, for which I must have signed up as part of some offer. I'd rather have a coupon or three for juice, since we no longer use sippies. Oh well; this cup went right into the bag of stuff I'm perpetually keeping to donate to Stephanie's house.


Secondly, our new Veggie Tales DVD arrived. The kids love Veggies. Somehow, I ended up with a credit on eBay (really, I have no clue how), so I just paid a little in s/h for the DVD. We watched it last night, and it was really cute!


My favorite package was this notebook that I got for a steal (it was FREE!) on Snapfish! The picture clarity is much better in real life than it is here; do you recognize it? It's the one our Server took of us at our 9th anniversary sushi dinner a few weeks ago. I love the color scheme, too. Here's a look inside:


My picture and info are on the inside flap. I opted for plain paper in my notebook, because only wide-rule was a choice; I couldn't get college-rule. I hate wide-rule. It's for babies! Kidding, I just don't need that much room for my writing.


Lastly, in the big box, was my huge container of protein powder. I ran out a couple weeks ago and have been living off Caffeine-Free Diet Coke while I waited for this shipment to come from Amazon. I haven't gotten the chocolate flavor before, but I like it. I'll order it again. Rob doesn't care for it, but he's not trying to lose two small peoples' worth of weight, now, is he?

I love getting packages in the mail. You could send me a fossilized piece of poo, and I'd be excited to get it. No, not really. Please don't send me your shit!

We had a bit of a situation yesterday that made me see Rob as I've never seen him before. His radiator broke, and his engine overheated on his way home from his eye doctor appointment yesterday. Smoke was blowing all over the place, and his quick fix didn't work.

He wanted to borrow my van to get to work.

Only, three things were stopping me from handing over my keys:

1. I didn't have enough gas for him to get to work and back, and we had exactly zero dollars for gas,

2. The kids had a dentist appointment in a few hours, and

3. Jack's Pinewood Derby car check-in and impounding were in the evening.

So, naturally, I balked. I held firm. He kind of flipped out on me and ended up screaming that he was taking the van so he wouldn't be late and get in trouble at work, since his chief is a total dickwad who seems hell-bent on making his life miserable. He got in the van and gunned it down the road to get to work on time.

Now, you may or may not remember, but this is a man who drives like hell and rode his brand-new 2003 VW Jetta into the ground a mere five years later. I freaked. I called him and begged him not to drive my van like that, slow down, please slow down, and don't ruin my van, too! She may not be perfect, Vanna, but she's still in pretty damn good shape for being 8 years old, and I'd like to keep her that way a little longer, thank you very much.

He softened. He agreed. Whew. I was highly nervous about my poor baby, though! Wouldn't you be?

So, I had no choice but to:

1. Hope he didn't run out of gas and leave Vanna stranded somewhere,

2. Cancel the kids' dentist appointments, and

3. Find Jack a ride to the weigh-ins.

In the end, Jack's Tiger den leader came to pick him up, and he excitedly waved good-bye, holding onto the box containing his precious car. I was sad not to be able to go with him. Really sad. The appointment was canceled, and Rob ended up driving home with the gas light on the entire time, but he made it. Then he filled it with gas he had in the gas can... why it was in there, I don't know, but now he's been paid and we can put gas in my tank again.

Drama. Always the drama!

As for Jack, here's his prized pinewood derby car:


Pretty slick, right? It started as a plain, squared block of wood. Rob asked Jack if he wanted a nice-looking car or a fast one that would win the race, and Jack wisely chose fast. Rob's a prize-winning Pinewood Derby racer himself, so he was up to the task!


Poor kid can't figure out how to smile, ever since his fall school pictures came out looking so silly! But he was bouncing-off-the-walls excited to go to the races, believe-you-me!

When his leader brought him home, she was bouncing off the walls, too, because not only was Jack's the fastest car at the trial races, but he was beating all the adults' cars, too! His car is FAST.

That was about it for Friday.

On Saturday, I first got an email that Chloë's overnight trip with the Girl Scouts was canceled. Her troop was supposed to go to the Air & Space Museum in Hampton to spend the night building a rocket, which they would launch Sunday morning.

Then, we got an email that Jack's derby race was canceled! Poor Jack, he was so disappointed. I think we all were. It'll be rescheduled, but we don't know when yet. I think Chloë's trip will now take place in March.

Then the kids woke us up before 0800, jumping up and down, screaming and shouting, as they looked out the window at all the snow. More than four inches had already accumulated, and it was still heavily coming down. This may not be unusual where you live, but it sure is a huge event for Virginia Beach!

They couldn't wait to go outside, but of course, we first had to locate all manner of snow gear. I asked Sophia where her snow suit was, and she looked at me like I was crazy before telling me, "Mommy, I don't have a snow suit!"  What? No snow suit? Guess we'll just have to layer up, then, and do our best not to freeze!

I'm really, truly, seriously bummed, because while Rob was getting everyone dressed, I fell back to sleep. He didn't take any pictures of the kids' first real time playing in the snow!! By the time I woke up, they were already back inside, getting warmed up. Sadness. Maybe we'll go out and play again tomorrow.

I did go out after that to take pictures of the scene, though:





That was only about halfway through the storm, so we've got even more now. Amazing! It's pretty, I'll have to admit, but I'm wearing three layers and I'm still cold. Brrr! I need to make up some draft blockers for the doors and windows, yes I do.

I took another nap downstairs, all bundled up, since life was canceled and there was nothing else to do but cuddle. And I enjoyed my sleep. But now I'm paying for it, because it's nearly 0300 and I'm wide awake!

That's about it for our Saturday. I mean, I did a few things, and Rob did a few, and I did our taxes (woohoo, we're getting plenty back), but nothing to write home about. Probably more of the same for Sunday!


Sunday Stealing: The Pretentious Blogging Meme

For more entries in the Pretentious Blogging Meme, be sure and click on over here to see the links!

1. How long have you been blogging?

On this-here, blog, since October, 2007. For maybe another year-and-a-half before that on MySpace.

2. What made you start?

I bottle things up to much. Wanted to get them out.

3. Who inspired you?

My friend Visty.

4. About how many hours a week would you estimate you spend on your blog?

I don't know, maybe four?

5. What kind of experience or background do you have with writing?

Nothing professional. I just like to do it.

6. Talk about how you come up with blog topics. Where do you get your ideas?

Mostly, I just blog about our life, to keep our far-flung family and friends involved in the kids' day-to-day lives.

7. What or who inspires you and your blog?

Chloë, Jack and Sophia - my kids!

8. Where and/or how do your brainstorming for your blog?

There's supposed to be brainstorming? Oh. I just kind of blurt it out (bet you can tell).

9. Do you have any blogging rules or guidelines you follow?

Mmm, no, not really. I do what I want. It's my blog; no one has to read it!

10. Is there anything you will not blog about?

Y'all might not think so, but yes, I do hold some things in. There's been a situation here the past few days that I would LOVE to talk about, but I just can't. It's too personal. (All is well, not to worry.)

11. Do you have any sort of a publishing schedule in terms of day of week or topic?

Yes, I publish when I want, what I want. :P


Saturday 9


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

1. Did you ever think that you'd be a star? If yes, doing what?

LOL I use to fantasize that I was the youngest person to ever win a Nobel prize. That ain't gonna happen!

2. Tell us about the last time you had a romantic dinner.

That would be... I guess our 9th anniversary a few weeks ago. We ate sushi after stopping in 3-4 other places and finding nothing available. The sushi place was an awesome find, and we had a great time in each other's company! ♥

3. Tell us about your worst job interview.

I don't think I've had any bad job interviews, but I did make the mistake of leaving in my nosering for a few, including the law firm where I used to work. Still got hired, though!

4. Tell us about your stupidest date.

One could take the question several ways... Okay, I was set up on a blind date with a guy who turned out to be a devil worshipper... and yet I still took him home! That was pretty stupid.

5. How much in common do you think you should have with a romantic partner?

Enough to be compatible and comfortable, but not too much that things aren't interesting. I like a little zest!

6. Tell us about a favorite meme that you loved but no longer posts.

Not applicable

7. How did you get into blogging?

I started on MySpace, where I just wanted to get my thoughts and feelings out from each day. Eventually, I wanted to "go legit," so I followed one of my good friends here and invited people to actually read it!

8. Do you share all your fantasies with a significant other?

Yeah, Rob pretty much knows everything that goes on in my brain, whether he likes it or not!

9. What change in your life would you like to happen this year?

I want to have abdominoplasty and eventually fit into single-digit clothes sizes!



Have you heard about

Swagbucks?  I've been reading about them on all the "deals" and promotional blogs I like to read, for months now, and I've finally decided to jump on the Swagbucksbandwagon.


Because I've read multiple accounts of people paying for Christmas entirely through Swagbucks rewards! Now, I don't know about you, but money is very tight, and that sounds pretty sweet to me!

What is SwagBucks?

It's a search engine powered by Google, and it gives you anywhere from 1-10 Swagbucks for doing searches. You don't get one every time, but you can get several a day if you do a lot of searches. I've only been doing it for a week or so, and I'm already up to 26 Swagbucks!

How else can you earn?

Well, you can do the searches, or you can take advantage of the offers on their home page (free or paid). You can get points through your friends (my link on this page is my referral, so please click the link!), up to 100 per friend! You can download the toolbar and even get Swagbucks codes emailed to you. It's fun, it's easy, and it's free!

And then what?

Then you redeem your Swagbucks for rewards! The one most people seem to like is for $5 Amazon gift cards, which you can buy with as little as 45 SwagBucks! Some people earn several a month, just from doing lots of searches. I'm going to start going search happy myself, too, because we could really use the help. Not just for Christmas, but for all the wonderful things Amazon offers. Right??

I haven't redeemed yet, and I've only just begun, but so many people are talking such great things about this site, I thought I'd finally jump in and give it a try. Will you?

Thanks for clicking my referral link!




Aloha Friday


Be sure and link up with Kailani for more Aloha Friday fun today!

My question for you this week is:

How did you meet your significant other?

As for me, my husband and I met online at a singles website! Yes, it's true... I'll share that story another time. I knew he was The One from his first email, and we eloped two months after that! Nine years later, we're still going strong. 


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

For more fragmentin' fun, link up with Mrs.4444!

It's been a while since I've done a Fragment post. I think I've missed a couple weeks of Fridays. You'd think ,therefore, I'd have tons of cute quotes to show with you. Well, I have some, but I've been negligent in keeping up with them, so you're just going to miss out on a few precious gems. Rest assured, my kiddos have been as amusing as ever over here!

If you missed my last post on my "surgiversary," please check it out! Apparently it was a good one; at least three readers told me later they were in tears reading it. My husband and I both thought it wasn't a tearjerker, but maybe that's because we're living through it ourselves.

I've been much more productive since bedtime, but I didn't get a whole lot done during the day, because the kids have half-days today, tomorrow, and next Monday and Tuesday. Weird, isn't it? Hubs opined that they should have just given them two days off for a four-day weekend. Whatever. The one thing I did manage to do was take them out for their H1N1 boosters. Observe:


Sophia, 4, just sat right down and took it like a champ this time. Thank God she remembered the first round, which didn't hurt a bit. It took her half an hour to get the flu mist last time! (and hello, do you see that "coke nail"? What is up with those? That's hot.)


Jack, 6, went next. He wanted to have a second "shot" so he could get two lollipops! Goose!


Chloë, 8, went last - oh no, she didn't, because Mama got one, too! I figured why not, it's free and I'm there, might as well not get Swine Flu myself, right?

And while we were there, I noticed that Sophie's eyes looked downright brown. Huh? All the kids have had straight-up hazel eyes their whole lives - at least since their blue eyes changed from birth. And now, at almost five, hers have gone brown? What's up with that?

 And now for some cute quotes...

Jack: "Mom, what does ugly mean?"

Me: "Um, it means that you're not pretty..."

Sophia: "Mom, you're not ugly. You're not even gonna be ugly when you're a grandma!"

(She doesn't have a very high opinion of the relative beauty of grandmas, does she???)

Sophia had a poopy accident at school because she had an upset tummy. Chloë interrupted my consoling her with, "Well, that's just what preschoolers do - they have accidents!"

Jack: "Mom, I wish we were rich, so we could buy lots of things!"

Mom: "Jack, there's other, better reasons to be rich."

Chloë: "Why, because we're poor?"

Mom: "We're not poor... we're just not rich."

Jack: "Rabbits are poor! They have to live in shoes!"

(What on earth?!)

and then,

Jack: Mom, we're really rich!"

Mom: "Why?"

Jack: "Because we have lots of food in the pantry!"

(And he's right, isn't he? We are so fortunate in so many ways, here...)

Sophie held up the thumb that she likes to suck and sighed, "This is my favorite thumb in the whole world."

(She likes it a little too much, methinks.)

I said, "Sophia, you're almost FIVE years old! It's been FIVE YEARS since I've had a baby!" 

Sophie: "Am I still your baby?"

Mom: "Of course, you'll always be my baby!"

Sophie: "Even when I'm ten?!"

Mom: "Of course, even when you're eighty!"

Sophie: "Even when I'm your mom?!"

Mom, laughing: "Silly, you're never gonna be my mom! I'm always gonna be your mom!"

Sophie: "What about when you're a grandma?"

Mom: "Always, always, you'll always be my baby!"

Sophia: "Even when you're dead? Even when I'm a grown-up? Wait. Can I borrow your car when I'm a grown-up?"

(Not if she drives like her father...)

Our neighbors recently moved to Texas. So when we passed one of the kids' favorite restaurants, Sophia exclaimed, "Texas Roadhouse! That's where Felicia lives now!"

(It took some serious convincing to make her realize that, indeed, our friends do not live at the restaurant down the street!)

We were shopping in Walgreens for far too long, and Sophia demanded, "Mommy, when are we going to get our tails outta here?!"

(A customer in the same aisle chortled heartily at that one.)

Sophie said, "Mommy, guess what? I can see in the dark, because I have flashlight eyes!"

So that's it for this week. Heavy on the Sophie, no? It's usually the four-year-old who makes the silliest comments, though, isn't it? What a great age. I'm gonna miss it. Have a great weekend, all of you!



One-Year "Surgiversary"

Hi all!! The busyness just hasn't stopped for us lately. It's been go-go-go, so my time to work on the blahg, here, has been gone-gone-gone. (I'm lame, I know.) I keep saying I'm going to catch up, and then I don't. I do need to sleep sometime!

Anyway, one year ago today, my new life began when I had Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery! I've come a long way, baby, in that time. I went from this:

Before Pic 

341.3 lbs the night before surgery, to this:


taken by Chloë last night before bed, at 180.6 lbs. That's down 160.7 lbs in one year's time!

Lots of other changes besides my physical appearance have taken place, too:

- I can now buckle myself in my car when I drive, instead of driving around hoping the police won't stop my fat, unbuckled ass and give me a ticket

- I can probably, although I haven't had the chance to test it, fly now without requesting a seatbelt extender

- (TMI) I can wipe myself when I go to the bathroom, instead of being stranded and waiting for my husband to come and help me :( (I think that was the worst part of the whole thing, for both of us)

- I can walk! This time a year ago, I was having to ride the cart around at the store and bring Rob with me to go grocery shopping, because my back hurt too much to walk. We could hardly ever GO for a walk, and if we did, I had to stop every 30 feet or so to stop all the painful spasms in my back. Now, I hardly ever spasm, and I can walk as long as I want, free of pain. It's an amazing, freeing feeling.

- I stopped taking my reflux medicine, a long time ago. I was diagnosed with GERD and have been on meds ever since 1999, and I haven't taken anything for it since at least May or so!

- My own personal Great Depression has lifted! I felt bad - really, really bad - about myself, and suicidal thoughts were often at the forefront of my mind. I haven't had a suicidal thought since February, and now I feel really good about myself! I'm happy, truly happy, for the first time in about 8 years. (And after my abdominoplasty, sometime between now and summer, I'll feel truly GREAT about myself!)

- My blood pressure has gone from out-of-control to freaking awesome!

- I don't think about food every second of every day. It doesn't control my life. I don't care if I never eat chocolate again, or doughnuts or cookies or cake or any of that crap. I don't need it, I don't want it, and I don't miss it!

- I can go upstairs in my house. I can run around with my children now and get down and play with them on the floor, instead of parenting them from the couch. That part has to be the best!

- I have a libido again, and my husband is all over me, all the time. Sweet mercy!

- I don't hate clothes shopping now! It's been my nemesis for much of my life, but now I get excited seeing those numbers on the tags go down, down, down.

- I can (usually, unless they're from a bad angle) tolerate having my picture taken. Before, I would all but run (because I just don't run, unless I have to) from the camera. Now, I pose willingly. Hee, I've turned into Chloë!

- I've been called "tiny" for the first time in my life, by at least three people! I'm hardly tiny, but who cares? I'll take it!

... and on and on. It's been really great. I'm so thankful for this wonderful "tool" I've been given to get my life back. I'm 33 years old and instead of being sure I was going to die young like my mother (who was 33 when she died), I'm positive I have a long, happy life stretched out before me with my amazing, supportive family.

I still have goals to reach. I would love to be able to say, "Hey, I've lost TWO HUNDRED POUNDS!!" which means another 40 to go. I'd love to get into single-digit clothing sizes. I'd love for my (small of stature) husband to be able to slam me up against the wall and...well, that's personal. ;) I want to be able to wear my bathing suit at the beach or pool and not be trying to hide every inch of my disgusting self, but rather walk proudly and confidently.

And I want to run... not from fear of being chased or missing the bus, but just out of the joy of life. Run for the sake of running, just because I can.


Should Not Be Here

Ugh, so much to do, so little time. There just aren't enough hours in the day, especially right now!

Bullets for Tuesday:

  • Slept 'til noon after Rob got up with the kids and came back to bed to cuddle
  • Did 3 mystery shops over the phone
  • Did a billion things at my desk, paperwork stuff. (Have a billion things to do right now instead of this-here blog, but I hate updating four days at a time!)
  • Showered & started on the laundry
  • Got the kids from the bus, begrudgingly let Jack go play at new neighbor kid's house while the girls and I worked on more laundry
  • Really begrudgingly let Jack STAY at new neighbor kids' house - after checking out his dad and making sure there are no guns in the house - while Sophie and I took Chloë to ballet
  • Dropped Chloë off and all the way home (half-hour round-trip) after realizing I forgot my purse, wallet, phone, shop folder, everything
  • Stopped at party store to do a mystery shop, added to the stockpile of "40" birthday decorations for Rob's big bash in 2.5 years (ya coming?!?)
  • Nearly ran out of gas & stopped for that, too
  • Got back to dance class 5 min late, found a worried Chloë waiting, and paid for Feb dance lessons
  • Ran back home to collect Jack from his friends house, which put him in a pissy mood because he wanted to stay and play... forever??
  • Took the kids to BK for free dinner because I never bothered to plan or make anything else
  • Berated Jack for cutting holes in his pants with scissors at school and grounded him - my first time being the grounder and not the groundee! - from going to new neighbor kid's house for the rest of the week
  • Home to continue working on laundry with Soapy's help while Jack and Chloë did homework next to me
  • Sent kids for bath, worked on laundry, and welcomed Christine and David (Chrisvid? Davitine?) over to hang out for a few
  • Sent kids to bed, had lots of laughs with Davitine (I like that one better) while we finished folding and matching up the kids' clothes
  • Said good-bye to Davitine, welcomed Rob home from work, fell asleep early instead of doing all the crap I had to do

Today, Wednesday:

  • Realized last-minute that I had a consult with the plastic surgeon this morning at 0900
  • Forgot about Wordless Wednesday. Oh-freaking-well
  • Let Rob get kids ready while I showered and got ready for appointment
  • Took Rob with me to hospital, to kill 2 birds with one stone
  • Met with plastic surgeon. THRILLED to learn I could get a panniculectomy (basically, in his words, an "amputation" of what I call my "fat skirt" aka "hangy belly" aka "saggy baby belly" aka you get the point) at NO COST to us!! Woohoo!! Listened as surgeon tried to explain I would rather have the cosmetic procedure abdominoplasty to make things look nice above-and-below the belly button, with minimal scarring, rather than the medically-necessary pannis removal, at who-knows-what-cost?-not-him! Burst into tears as explained we had spent all our money on my gastric bypass and had nothing left for this. Agreed to at least go down to Billing to find out cost. Left, still happy about free panni, certain that the abdominoplasty would be $$$$$
  • Went with Rob to immunizations clinic, so he could get updated before trip to Haiti. Still not sure about his detachment's fate, especially now after the 2nd earthquake
  • Ran down to Billing to find that the abdom. would only be $1660! What?! $1660!!! Shocked, ran back to tell Rob and shock him too. Quickly changed our minds to save for that one instead. Will there be a bikini in my future after all? Maybe... how much for the butt, back, boobs, thighs and arms, doc?? (I kid, I kid.)
  • Finally left hospital for home, only decide to head out for lunch together instead. We never do this. Decided on sushi around the corner. Forgot coupon for restaurant. Sent Rob home for it after ordering. He couldn't find it & gave up. (I found it later, after looking for approximately ½-second). Enjoyed lunch date with husband. Threw up after 3-4 pieces of sushi. Oh, well. Leftovers!
  • Home again, did report for party store mystery shop yesterday. Oops, forgot about it!
  • Had Rob take 160-lb-loss pictures to post on Facebook for my sister, since I'd posted I looked "hot" today. Hee!
  • Did lots more paperwork and stuff while Rob took nap. Glad to have him home for the day, even if he was sleeping instead of doing more pressing things... like his wife ;)
  • Sent Rob to pick kids up from bus and take girls to dance lessons while Jack watched a movie and did homework with me
  • Worked on today's double-dollar deals at Farm Fresh while Rob cooked dinner for the kids, also while helping Chloë with her homework. Gave her extra math work after she finished. Excited I actually taught her something new in math and she GOT it after just a few problems! (multiplying large numbers with lots of 00s easily, ex. 800 x 400)
  • Made my own quick dinner and ran to Farm Fresh, leaving Rob to get kids ready for bed
  • Bought about $95 worth of groceries for less than $40, which isn't stellar but notable, anyway
  • Scanned groceries for Homescan, helped Rob put stuff away, sent kids to bed, and started blogging...

So here's how I looked at 150-lbs down:

FB pic

And here's how I look at 160-lbs down:


Any different?? I can't tell.

Back tomorrow!


P.S. Rob ran to work tonight after all, to get a thing he needs to be able to take his annual Chief's test tomorrow. Please pray, if you do, or wish him luck, if you don't, that he makes Chief this time!!! He SO deserves it!!!! Thanks.


Haiti-Bound... or Not


Rob didn't have to work on Friday, because they had a Change of Command the day before. He got the kids up for school while I slept, and then he joined me back in the bed for more snuggles. It was nice.

My friend Christine, from Bunco, came over around noon to hang out and go do my lunch shops with me. She came upstairs to our room to chat with Rob and me while I got dressed, which is weird since we don't normally allow anyone upstairs. It's worse than downstairs! Here it is, the 18th of January, and I still haven't really gotten started on that whole "keep the house clean" resolution. Oh, well. I showed her my surgery scars and stuff, and we talked all about that. I'm so glad I had the surgery, even if I have all kinds of saggy skin and weird scars and marks all over!

Finally, after an hour, we went out and did the two fast-food lunch shops. After eating the second one, we stopped at the mall on the Boulevard. I had another coupon for another free-with-purchase item at Bath & Body Works, and since their super-huge clearance sale was almost over, I wanted to use it before that ended to get a really great deal. Which I did - and since I had two coupons, Chris did, too! 

We stopped at Zales to get my rings cleaned and examined. I was supposed to do it in December, but once again, I can't find my paperwork. They had it faxed over from Panama City, FL, where Rob bought my engagement ring, but never once in the nine years since has someone updated the records to show that I've had it examined every six months! Kind of annoying. They still did it though, and they gave me something to add to my records whenever I do find it.  Hope it turns up!

001 (3)

We stopped at the pet store to admire all the poochies on the way back out of the mall. We fell in love with with this little guy and played with him in a small room for at least an hour!! We just couldn't give him back; he was such a love. The saleslady thought we were going to buy him and gave us his paperwork; she kept coming back in to try and talk us into it. When we told her we had named him "Poopoo Fluffy Face," she just rolled her eyes and said, "Whatever! I hear it all!" Hee.

002 (4)

Isn't he so cute?! What a silly doggy. Chris and her husband went back to visit him today, but someone had bought him! Aw.

Christine came over and spent the rest of the day wth us.  We watched movies with the kids and played Wii Fit for HOURS. We ordered a pizza for dinner, and then she left to go feed her animals while we put the kids to bed. Then she came back to hang out some more! After her husband, David, got off work, he came over to hang out, too. We had never met him before, but he was cool. The four of us laughed and laughed, having a great time, until past the wee hours of the morning. We all played on the Wii Fit again for hours. I fell asleep sometime before they left; Rob says they left at 0500! 


002 (3)

On Saturday, we slept in as late as we could after Chris and David left, and then the boys got up to go to Golden Corral for Jack's Cub Scout Popcorn Party. They almost didn't go, because Rob didn't want the expense of his meal (Jack's was paid for by the pack), but I insisted because of all the hard work Jack did at the popcorn booth sales.

005 (4)

I heard Jack was being pretty silly at the party! He has good friends there and really enjoys hanging out with them.

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For his efforts, Jack earned two patches, including a special Council patch, a real Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and a $15 certificate to the Boy Scout store. He was thrilled and absolutely loves his bat!

On their way home from the party, Rob got a phone call from work, saying he was going to be sent to Haiti on Tuesday for 1-3 months to help with relief efforts after the earthquake there. We discussed it with the children when he came home. They all cried and asked a billion questions, especially the littler two. I actually wasn't too upset. A few years ago, I would have freaked out at the idea of him leaving, but I'm in a much better - saner - place now. I could totally handle it. I'd miss him like crazy, though!

I had coupons for supposedly good deals at Boston Market, so we went there for dinner. It turned out to be a completely horrible deal, and I wished we hadn't gone there at all. But we had plenty of food, and the kids ate well, so it wasn't a total loss. I cringe when I think about how much we spent on that dinner that was supposed to be "so cheap," though!

Stephanie babysat that night for the kids, I think for the first time since shortly after she became pregnant with Luke. They were so excited to have her back! They had already had their dinner, so we told her they could have sherbet for dessert, plus popcorn if they watched a movie, so they wouldn't try to scam her for anything else that they're not supposed to have. They like to do that, like all kids. While we were out, we first stopped at the P.O. to mail a huge ton of stamps to my grandfather, and then we headed out to do a bar shop on the oceanfront.

When we got out there, though, we found out that the restaurant was closing in half an hour! Gah. So we aborted that mission and headed back all the way on the other side of town - not a short drive in this huge city of ours - to do a fast-food shop. At least Rob got some good munchies; he's always hungry! Then we were going to do the bowling shop I had to do sometime this weekend. It was 9:15 by then, and I was supposed to have it done by 11 PM, so when we called and found it was an hour and 45 min wait for a lane, well, we had to just give up and go home. Kinda sucks that I had to pay for a babysitter just to go to the post office and a fast food restaurant, which the kids could have come along for anyway! Oh, well. At least I got some quality alone time with my husband.

004 (3)

When we got back, Rob put the kids to bed and fell asleep upstairs himself, so Steph and I hung out with Luke for a while. He is such a happy baby. Besides some pictures, I got an adorable video of him cooing and laughing at his mama. I'd post it, but it's sideways and I can't figure out how to rotate it on this computer!


Rob had to go in to work all day, for about 10 hours, to pack up his shop for the detachment to Haiti on Tuesday. It was then that he found out that he is on now on a second detachment, which is on standby. Basically, it means he's not going to Haiti until further notice. I'm glad he'll be home, but I was really kind of looking forward to saving all that money on food and gas while he's not driving his tank to work every day. Is that awful of me?

The kids and I stopped at Walgreens to start doing my deal-shopping for the day. We did the first 2-3 transactions there and then shopped for over an hour getting the stuff for that last big transaction. Only, there was a question on one of my coupons (the backbone of deal-shopping, fo course), and the manager came over and started going through everything with a fine-toothed comb. She refused to take some of my coupons, which are perfectly good and useable ones, and nothing I could say would make her see that she was wrong. I had a fit. I was pissed! Walgreens is such a huge pain in the ass to shop at anyway, so I said, "I'm done with this store!" before grabbing all my coupons back and dumping out my canvas bags full of stuff back on the counter. We huffed out. Ugh, I was mad. So mad, I forgot I still had to pick up Jack and Sophie's developed pictures from our trips to Great Wolf Lodge. Guess I'll be sending Rob in to do that!

I called Christine to see if she and David wanted to meet us at the bowling alley to do that mystery shop I hadn't done the day before. They agreed, so we went. I had ranted and raved about Walgreens on the phone to her already, so I was over it by the time we arrived. Unfortunately, the shop really didn't go well at ALL, and we left, again, in a huff. I can't give details on that, though.

After bowling, we said goodbye to Christine and David (Chrisvid? I think I'm gonna need a nickname for them now, too!) and then headed out to get some more deals. We stopped at the Rite-Aid near the bowling alley and then another Walgreens that was close by. The employee I dealt with there was super nice, the nicest I've ever encountered at a Wags, and I told him so. From now on, I'm going to that store!

Then we headed way up the road to do my CVS deals. They're always nice; I never have problems with customer service at CVS. Shoulda started shopping there a long time ago! Plus they reward you for using "green" bags, which I always appreciate.

There's another Walgreens between CVS and home, so I stopped there to get the last few deals I couldn't get at the other two stores, before we headed home. The kids were so worn out from all the shopping by that point, but they were doing great. Especially after I split up one of those huge Hershey's with Almonds bars and let them have it. Chocolate makes up for everything, doesn't it??

Christine and David were going to come hang out with me and the kids again, but just when they were on there way, Rob called to say he was on his way home. So they came over to babysit while we went out to do a mystery shop at a new-to-us restaurant, a popular upscale Chinese place we'd been wanting to try for a long time.

We'd heard a lot of great things about this place, so it was a huge let-down for us when the service we received was horrible at best, and while some of the food was pretty good, none of it was anything to write home about, and some of it was even bad. A major disappointment. So much so that Rob said not only would he not go there on his own, he didn't even want me to take another mystery shop there! I poo-pooed that idea, because it wasn't that horrible, and if it's going to be paid for by someone else, I'll gladly go. But with my own money? No way!

The kids had just had baths when we got home, and then I found out later today that they had completely trashed their bathroom, so I'm so embarrassed Chris saw it in that state! Sorry, Chris! It's since been cleaned up, I swear... although I can't promise it'll stay that way for long.

Christine and David hung out with us for another, oh, five-six hours, again until about 1-2 AM, with lots of laughter. They're really a fun couple.

At some point during their visit, Jack had come down, clutching his chest and saying it hurt. We thought it was reflux, because he'd scammed Christine out of a second cup of pudding from the batch I'd made before we left. We gave him some Tums, held him for a while and then sent him to bed.

So when we went off to bed hours later and heard him crying about the same thing, we were quite alarmed. Rob rushed him to the ER while I waited at home. I was anxious... but then I fell asleep, so I missed his multiple updating texts. In the end, everything was fine. Basically, the doctor said it was growing pains in his ribcage area. Poor kid! He's fine today, though he slept in really late.


Rob was supposed to go to work early, but he'd called in and said he was going to be late, since he'd been out at the ER with Jack. Later, they called back and said he didn't have to come in at all, so that was nice.  A bonus free day for him!

We were all so exhausted from the running around and staying up late of the last few days, that we pretty much napped our way through MLK Day. I had a lot I wanted to do, but I was just sooo tired. The kids watched multiple movies snuggled up to us on the couches. It was a nice, lazy day.

Back to the grind tomorrow!


Sunday Steals and Deals

I had to go to three different Walgreens yesterday to get my deals - but I got 'em! I'm going to break them up by transaction below, along with my CVS and Rite-Aid deals:


I had a $5 off $5 L'Oréal coupon, so these two nailpolishes were almost free! They're normally something like $7-8 each, but one was on clearance for $1.29 and the other was on clearance for $3.79. My OOP (out of pocket) was only 33¢ after tax! (Wags)


I got the TheraFlu and Lipton Green Tea for a total of $3.05 OOP. Not sure what the full value is of both is right now, but the tea was on sale for $2.99 and the TF was on sale for $3.99. I had $4 in coupons for the TF, making it free (one manufacturer's coupon and one Walgreen's coupon, which you can stack), and I also received a $4 RR (Register Rewards coupon) for later use, essentially making this deal a money-maker!  (Wags)

Rite Aid

Oops, I forgot to take a picture of this shopping trip. I don't normally shop the Rite Aid deals because you have to wait for a mail-in rebate on many of them, but I found a few really good deals that don't require the rebate. After coupons and sales, I got the following for just $5.75 OOP which was basically just the Tide and tax:

  • 32-load Tide Original 2X
  • Cherry-flavor Halls, 30-ct
  • Bayer "baby" aspirin, 36-count
  • (2) 3-pack rolls of Tums


I paid $6.15 OOP for 20 packs of Capri-Sun, which isn't a terribly great deal by itself, but I did receive $2 RR back for a future purchase. That makes it a better deal, and we can always use more juices for the kids' school lunches! (Wags)


Normally, these olives would be $4 + tax, but I got them for $1.03 OOP after coupons, making them pretty cheap. I used to LOVE olives when I was a kid; they'll make a great low-cal snack! (Wags)


CVS still has the six-packs of Soy Joy bars on special. Normally, these would be $22.50 + tax, but I got them ALL for 45¢ OOP after rolling my $6 ECBs (Extra Care Bucks) three times. If you have a CVS near you, definitely do this deal, because they're actually pretty good once you get used to the texture. Just stay away from the Mango-Coconut ones! ;) (CVS)


Normally, these M&Ms would be $7.98 + tax, but I got them for $4.12 OOP, plus I received $2 ECBs for my next transaction. My family LOVES peanut M&Ms, and they're all green, the best color! (CVS)

  Normally, these five bottles of Dawn would have been $9.95 + tax, but I got them ALL for just 79¢ OOP after sales, coupons and ECBs. Great deal!  (CVS)


For $5.09 OOP, after sales, coupons and RRs, I got these 2 15-oz boxes of Raisin Bran, bag of Rice Snacks, and FOUR 12-packs of CFD Coke! The Coke alone would normally cost more than $22 at full price! (Wags)


This may not seem like my best "steal," because I paid $52.31 OOP, but I saved more than $100 after sales, coupons and RRs, and all of this will be great added to my stockpile. For that amount (at Walgreens), I bought:

  • 9.5-oz Triscuits
  • 10-oz Wheat Thins
  • (2) 40-ct cans of Wet Ones (GREAT for road trips with the kids)
  • (2) bottles of Arm & Hammer Scrub-Free Cleanser
  • Lipton Green Tea, 40 bags
  • (2) 25.4-oz bottles of Scope mouthwash
  • 6-oz can of Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Almonds (Soooo good)
  • 6-oz can of Blue Diamond BOLD Lime & Chili Almonds (Blech, all Rob)
  • (4) Boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese
  • (6) cans of Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
  • (2) 12-oz cans of Planter's Honey Roasted Peanuts (Yum, but makes me dump!)
  • (2) 5-oz bottles of Lindsay Green Olives
  • (2) 4.25-oz Hershey's with Almonds bars
  • Garnier Fructis Shampoo
  • Garnier Fructis Conditioner
  • (2) boxes of Revlon ColorSilk haircolor (only 99¢ each for these!)
  • TheraFlu Sugar-Free Severe Cough & Cold
  • (2) 16.25-oz bottles of Curel Anti-Itch Lotion
  • John Frieda Shampoo
  • John Frieda Conditioner
  • (2) Lady Mitchum deodorants (I've always been brand-loyal to Secret, but I'm going to be less brand-loyal now that I'm having to be more frugal and shop the best deals)
  • 32-oz  Welch's grape jelly (also for the kids' lunches, since they take PB&J every day)

Not a bad week for deals!



Saturday 9: When We Was Fab


If you're playing along with this fun meme, be sure and link up with Samantha!

1. Is there a blog as far as its appearance goes that you think is the most fabulous?

Not really, since I read the blogs in my Reader and usually don't go over to comment on the reallly fabulous-looking ones.

2. Do you like the look and the contents of your blogs?

Eh. I HATE the name of mine. I like to change the look now and then. It's not something that's really important to me, thoguh.

3. Have you ever thought what would happen to your blog in case you died?

Um, no. I have bigger considerations.

4. Has any particular blogger had a great impact on how you set up and write your blog?


5. Would you want a fellow blogger to give you suggestions or criticism of what you write?


6. Is the number of visitors each day to your blog important to you?


7. What percentage of your readers do you think actual comment?

I'm thinking maybe 5-15%. Not a lot, but I know there are readers who read all the time and never say a word. It's fine with me, although I do wonder what they're thinking sometimes!

8. Do you have a favorite blogger who does the memes that you participate in?


9. How often do you update your blog/site and why?

Sometimes every day, sometimes a few times a week, but pretty regularly. It's important to me to keep a chatty log about the things my family is doing. Maybe 20 years from now, my kids will want to go back and read it and say, "Hey! I remember that!"


Hello, Cupcake!

Catching up...


Honestly, I did plenty of stuff on this day, I just can't remember what now! But I did get this in the mail:


Ten skeins of Peruvian 100% wool, for $50 for CARE Package! That's a really good deal; I got it from Discontinued Name Brand Yarn. I've purchased from them several times before and have always been happy. They offer steep discounts on great yarns. I like this green, but it's not extremely soft. It's not too scratchy, I think, but now that it's not so soft I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it. Perhaps a felting project that I design myself? Eek, nervous about that. We'll see!


As usual, I spent my first hour after the kids got on the bus screwing around online, doing my Facebook games. That is a given, and I don't apologize for it. I'm not a morning person and it helps wake me up. Plus it's hard for me to move and do things when I'm so cold. But after that I got busy!

I spend a lot of time now looking at couponing and deal blogs. Money is so very, very tight right now that I'm pretty obsessed with saving money and getting the best deals. On Wednesdays, the grocery ads come out for Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter (my favorites, although I need to branch out more because those are also the two most expensive stores);  Farm Fresh doubles coupons up to $1.00 on Wednesdays. Both double up to 99cents every other day, so I look at those blogs to see what I can get for free after sales and coupons. I'm going to start stockpiling, too. I just have to figure out how to get massive amounts of the coupons I need to do so, without spending too much to make it a worthwhile cause. I'm already stockpiling the toiletries from CVS and Walgreens, and now I'm going to start doing it with food, too.

Rob says to me after I tell him this, "What are you, Mormon?"

Well, no, but it would be much better to get a ton of stuff for the pantry for FREE and then shop from the pantry, planning our meals around what we have on hand, then having to run out and buy stuff at full-price! Right?! So that's the plan.

(Also the current plan, because of super-tight finances, is to scrap spending the summer in L.A. and use the money I will hopefully earn from subbing to, you know, live off and stuff. It sucks, and Chloe was bawling when I told her, but we gotta do what we gotta do to stay afloat.)

So anyway. The deals I got Friday were thus:

Walgreens Photo Collage

This 8x10" photo collage from Walgreens was completely free! I paid nothing out of pocket for it! And it turned out really nice, too. I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but I like it.

(Sorry for the crappidity of this picture. I hate my camera!!)

All of this, which is 1 bottle of Gatorade G2, 2 single-serve bowls of Kashi cereal, 8 bottles of DanActive, 8 Activia yogurts, and a Tony's cheese pizza, were free after deals at Target (the Kashi) and Farm Fresh (everything else)!  Only the Kashi and some of the Activia still remain in existence; everything else was quickly consumed. My kids are BIG fans of yogurt shakes and smoothies, so when I can get these free, I act quickly. Might have to take subbing off on Wednesdays so I can be sure to have time to get the freebies! ;) I kid... sort of.

My total out of pocket for the above was five whole cents for tax, at Target. Would've been 13 cents at FF, but I had a $5 gift card that I'd JUST gotten in the produce department for signing up for a second Sunday newspaper delivery. I'm getting it for the coupons for $1.47 extra a week, and I KNOW I will recover that in savings each week, so it's worth it. Too bad I can't just get the extra coupons and not waste the whole rest of the paper, but I'll definitely Freecycle that.

And I got a free lunch, too! I can't eat very  much, so just a few bites satisfies me. I got a cracker with smoked salmon spread from the seafood department, a slice of bread and a bite of donut (not the best, but one little bite won't kill me) from the bakery, and a hunk of cheese for my bread from the deli department. All free samples, and it filled me up. Hey, I have no shame.

I made myself laugh going out and doing that shopping, too. I don't have pictures of it on this computer, but I knitted Jack a hat with cars on it a few years ago. He wears it now, and it's still big on him. It turned out HUGE, because I didn't really pay attention to gauge back then. Anyway, I hadn't showered yet but really wanted to go out and get my deals before they were sold out. My hair was a mess, so I went out wearing Jack's car hat! It's blue and yellow and orange and green... and oh, so not grown-up. Every time someone would glance at my hat and then look away, I'd chuckle to myself.

When I got back home, I realized I still hadn't made anything for Bunco that night. I was supposed to bring a dessert, but I had no mixes of any kind in the pantry, and absolutely no money to buy something. So from-scratch it had to be!


I couldn't find any recipes I liked on, so I used the one for vanilla cupcakes in the back of my beloved Hello, Cupcake! cookbook. I got it from the kids' school Book Fair last year, but I've seen it around everywhere.  The recipe was supposed to make 24 cuppies, but since I way overfilled the cups, mine only made 16. That was enough for the 12 for Bunco and one each for the family, so it worked out fine.


They turned out beautifully! It has been harder for me lately to resist sweets, but fortunately I'm not a big cake lover, so I had no temptation to try these. Still, they looked pretty good!


I just dipped them in that chocolate Betty Crocker frosting I got from Walgreens the other day and then used the pearls from Williams-Sonoma to decorate them like the colorful petit-fours I made one other time. The kids remembered those, too, and kept saying so. 


Dontcha want a bite?

While they were baking, I was talking to my dad on the phone as he drove from his home down to Florida to pick up his fiance girlfriend.  Their wedding, which was to be his fifth, is off, but they rented out her condo, so they're still moving in together! Eek. I'm worried for him. It is kinda funny, though...

Also, while I was on the phone with Dad, my doorbell rang. It was a fellow Freecycler dropping off yet another awesome package of stamps for my grandfather! Grandpa has been collecting stamps for over 60 years now, and he's got dozens and dozens of albums full of them. He loves all kinds - used and new, foreign and domestic, whatever I send him - so I always ask on Freecycle for people to save the stamps from their holiday mail. Several people responded and sent me stamps for him, which was great, but then I hit the jackpot with Ken! Ken brought a huge pack last week and another one Wednesday, filled with thousands of stamps (old AND foreign) I'm sure Grandpa doesn't have. I'm so excited; he's going to be thrilled!


I also got another freebie in the mail Wednesday: My e.l.f. cosmetics! Remember I'd bought that e.l.f. mascara on Target so I could get a free $5 off $5 code for their website? I just bought five random things that I really didn't look at, on a whim, just to see what I ended up with. It came yesterday; I haven't tried anything yet, but it looks fun! And if I don't end up using it, it would make a great gift (or Bunco prize?)

(By the way, if you want me to stop posting my deals and steals, I'm not gonna, because they excite me so. But let me know if you hate them and maybe I'll do it some other way. If you love them, let me know if you want to know how I save money, and maybe I'll get it together to write a post on that. I'm still learning how to do it big-time, though!)

After dance class that night, I had Bunco. I had to remind Rob to come home so I could go, because he completely forgot and was going to work several more hours. Poor Rob is having a tough time these past couple of weeks. He's got a new chief whose mission it is, apparently, to make his life a living hell. He's coming home more disenchanted with the Navy than ever, wishing I would win the lottery and get him out. (Too bad we don't play.) It sucks, and I feel bad for him, but there's nothing I can do. 

Also, speaking of Rob, he's going back to nights starting next week. Bah. I hate that. HATE IT. But it might solve the problem of how I'm going to get the kids on and off the bus once i start subbing, now that our nice Japanese neighbor-lady has moved to Texas!

And further Rob news: He may be going to Haiti with 48 hrs notice, for up to three months. I am not worried about it and am not complaining, but I will miss him terribly if he goes. If they need him there, though, so bet it. I'll let you know when I do.

Back to... Bunco. I quickly decorated the cupcakes and got my stuff together to leave, as soon as he arrived home. Fortunately, T was hosting it at her house just down the road from mine, so I wasn't late. I drove so carefully so my poor cupcakes wouldn't roll around in the cake case! Bonus: because her wee baby girl goes to bed at 7:30 every night now, she's going to host it every month now so the baby can go to bed on time. Yay for me; I hate hosting at my house!

Bunco was a lot of fun. We had a new face there, and she turned out to be really nice. And Steph was there, which took me by surprise; I had no idea she was coming since she quit back in April and didn't tell me she was subbing this month! That was a thrill, and of course I got to love on Baby Luke some, too. The cupcakes mostly got eaten, except for three for the kids to take to lunch today, so that worked out fine. And I was really hyper and silly and in a great mood. I kept cracking myself up, and I think maybe I made a few other people laugh, too. ;) Hopefully I wasn't too annoying. I didn't have caffeine, so I don't know what was up with that...

When I got home, we watched our Netflix movie: Bruno, with Sacha Baron Cohen. Oh. My. God. Do not see this movie if you have weak sensibilities! Rob thought it was stupid as hell, but I laughed my ass off! He is SO wrong. I mean, don't get me wrong, I thought it was stupid too, but there were many hilarious parts that just had me laughing because I couldn't believe he actually did that! On film! For the whole world to see! What a riot. Have you seen it?


I've been sleeping upstairs in the bed still, with my heating pad on and snuggled up to Rob. Keeps me nice and toasty, but man, I miss my couch. My eyes are always in bad shape from the way I sleep in the bed. All puffy and crusty and gross. Nice, right? Plus I can't stay asleep; I toss and turn and adjust all night. It's not the best sleep. When it warms up, I'm back to my couch, thank you very much.

At ten, I picked up Jack from school, so we could go to our respective doctor's appointments. I had my one-year (!!) post-surgery check-up first, in Newport News, and then his appointment was two hours later in Portsmouth. He was happy to be out with Mama and NOT at school - so long as he didn't have to get any shots. He didn't.

I had been praying all morning about being blessed with abundance, because those places are NOT close together, and would require a lot of gas. I only had an eighth of a tank left, and like I said, not one penny in the bank account. I was hoping for a loaves-and-fishes type miracle. Well, that didn't happen, and my gas went down almost to 'E' by the time we arrived in Newport News. Then I remembered there was still a little money in the CARE Package account. Now, normally I am very carefully about not touching CP money except for CP needs, with no intermingling, even though I use OUR money for CP needs all the time. But I had no choice; I had my son in the car and couldn't afford to just run out of gas in Newport News, so far from home. So, I put $20 worth of gas in the van - which I will pay back tonight  since it's payday now, phew - and considered that the blessing I was asking for!

We arrived at 10:30, a half-hour early for my 1100 appointment. So when I was sitting in the waiting area at 11:45 with a very antsy six-year-old boy, I was pretty annoyed. Especially after the receptionist called me up to tell me that my referral had expired on the sixth, and I could either reschedule or try to get a new one, backdated for today's appointment. Or pay out of pocket. Um, no. So now I need to get a backdated referral, which they refused to do last time, because no one in that whole stinking office can figure out how to set up a system for contacting patients to let them know their referral is running out?!?! What the hell? Every other place I go handles that themselves. Or at least lets me know - well in advance - that it's time to get a new one. I made that appointment THREE months ago, which is plenty of time for them to have noticed that I would need to get new insurance paperwork. Shame on them.

I found a suggestion box in the bathroom - which I always use before weighing in, hehe - but nothing to write with. I should have just said something at the desk about it. Very annoying!

Anyway. My appointment went really well. Doc was extremely pleased with my more-than-150-lb loss in the last year (it's actually not my anniversary for 12 more days, so I'll post more pictures then) and congratulated me thoroughly. They only guarantee - and not even really that - a 75-lb loss, so I've done well with his help!

My protein is still on the low side of normal, so as usual I was admonished about that. I've been eating a ton of eggs since my labs were drawn, though, so I'm betting it has come up since then. My iron is still quite low, even though I've been taking the ferrous sulfate, so he prescribed chelated iron, which will be more readily absorbed. And that should help me stay warmer, too. My vitamin D came up nicely, though, at least!

He answered all my questions (and a couple of Jack's), and when I was getting up to leave, I was overcome with gratitude and instead of shaking his hand, I grabbed him for a big hug! He was a bit taken aback by that and kept saying, "Oh! Okay!" and laughing. I thanked him for myself and for Rob, and told him how happy I am now. And I am. It's been great, this past year. I love my RNY (roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery)!

It was late by the time we got out of there, probably about 1225, and Jack's appointment was at 1300, more than half an hour away! I still had to get the gas, so I stopped and did that, and then I stopped next door at the Burger King to get him the free lunch I'd already promised him all the way up there. He was so excited - not by the food, but by the watch in his Kids Meal! He kept telling me the time, which was actually the date and never changed. Funny!

Then I drove like a bat out of hell to make it to the hospital on time. It's pretty sad when I'll drive more carefully with cupcakes in the car than with my kids, so I'm resolving now to do the opposite. I'll just have to consider them my little cupcakes, instead of my little ducklings. We got there late, not getting to the peds office until 1313; they consider you late if you're not there 15 minutes early, so I was worried they wouldn't see us. But they did, so yay!

He needs a new referral to the endocrinologist who prescribes his growth hormone shots, and also he needed his physical form filled out for the school testing he's getting for special services. We spent until 1400 with young Dr. A., a little cutie who I really like (not in THAT way, just as a doctor). He's very patient and attentive, and he really cares about the kids. I kind of sprung the physical form on them without notice, but he was more than willing to get that done for me, so I appreciated that.

Jack will be seven in just over two months. Hard to believe... He weighs 32.4 lbs and is 39.5 inches tall. I said to Dr. A., "Well, he's stil the size of your average two-year-old, huh?" He said, "Yes... but think of it this way, he's the size of a small three-year-old, and a really small four-year-old - isn't that better?"

Um, sure.

He failed his vision test again, so I need to take him back to the eye doctor to see if his prescription needs to be adjusted. It's been less than a year since he got his glasses, so I was kind of surprised to see how bad he did! Maybe he just wasn't concentrating enough on the chart?

Otherwise, everything went well, and he's healthy and happy. He was bouncing around, having fun, and cuddling with me at times. A couple of years ago, I didn't even think he liked me at all. I was very sad about that. Things have done a 180, and now we're quite close. It's fantastic!

I was worried about being late for the bus to get the girls, and my phone was dead, so I couldn't call anyone to go get them. So, again, I drove too fast. Just around the corner from our house, a policeman pulled me over for doing 40 in a 25. Eh, oops. I looked right at him as I was passing his unmarked car, and knew he was going to pull me over. Sure enough. I was cringing at the thought of yet another bill to pay the whole time, so I was beyond grateful when he told me that because I have "plus points," he was going to let me off with just a warning. And warn me to slow down, he did. Twice. He also saw Jack in the back seat and examined his carseat to make sure he was buckled properly. Hopefully he didn't notice what a mess the van is right now, but at least the boy was safely harnessed.

When we got home, I was surprised to find Rob in the driveway! He usually doesn't get home until at least 1800, but it was before 1500. Jack was excited to see Daddy, too. He bounded out of the van and ran into the house; I followed, sure that either Rob was sick or there was trouble at work. It was neither (although there WAS trouble at work); he just got off early today! What a nice surprise.

We all walked down, with Lily on her leash, to get the girls from the bus. Jack wanted to drive his Caddy down there, but it doesn't move fast enough. He was so bummed. When all the kids came off the bus, they surrounded the dog and gave her loads of attention. She's so shy, though, I'm not sure she enjoyed that!

Rob and the kids played outside, working on Jack's Pinewood Derby car and driving the trucks around, while I took a nap. I'd planned on an hour-long snooze, but it turned into three hours! Which meant we missed the Parent Reading Night at school. I'm so bummed about that, because the Math Night was so fun and informative. Darn it. I really, really wanted to go.

And now I have to pay the bills before I get back to sleep. Happy Friday, everyone!



Aloha Friday

Be sure and visit Kailani for more Aloha Friday fun!

So my question for you this week is:

Do you have any décor themes in your house, and if so, what are they?

As for us, we have several going on:

  1. Primary Colors. Sort of - I'd say they're DARK primary colors. Our living room is dark yellow with burgundy and blue accents; the hallway is blue with yellow and burgundy accents, and the office is burgundy with - you guessed it - yellow and blue accents! And when I planted bulbs way back in 2004 in the front yard, I picked out all red, yellow and blue bulbs. Of course, none of them ever grow anymore, because Rob keeps chopping them down with the weedwhacker, but it was workin' for a bit! ;)
  2. Fish. My husband loves to fish (not that we've done so since I was pregnant with Chloe 8.5 years ago), and in my past life, I was a marine biologist, so we love fish. Especially sharks.  A great deal of the artwork in our home revolves around fish.
  3. Traveling. We both love to travel, and I even decoupaged an entire wall downstairs with maps! We have globes and souvenirs from everywhere we've been.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Be sure and link up with Mrs.4444 if you're fragmenting today!

I hate it when Rob's not home, except for one thing I like about when he's gone: Pulling out of the driveway. His freaking LandCruiser is so huge (it's a tank!), I can't see around it when I'm backing out. I'm always afraid I'm going to bump into someone coming down the road. I can't wait until that thing bites the dust!

And now for some cute kid quotes:

Jack, nearly 7 (!!!!),  was eating his hamburger from Burger King for lunch today. He complained from the back seat of the van, "Mom, this ham tastes like ear wax! It's gross!"

Which leaves me wondering whose ears he's licking...

While at dance class last night, Jack and Sophia (4.5), were playing in the back of the van as I knitted up front. Soap and I had this conversation, which was absent-minded on my end at first:

S: "Mom, can I eat this piece of bread?"

Me: "Sure, honey, go ahead..."

S: "Cool, it has GREEN stuff on it!"

Me: "NO!!! DON'T EAT THAT!!!" (Suddenly lunging...)

Jack and Sophia were playing upstairs, pretending to be our two kitties who do NOT get along:

J: "I'm Star!"

S: "And I'm Tinkerbell. And I'm gonna fight with you! HISSSSSSSSSS!"

Poor Star. She tries to make nicey-nice, but that Tink just won't have it. Apparently the kids have taken note of all her hissing!

I was saying that Daddy might take the kids to Burger King for dinner (I have lots of coupons for free Kids Meals) Weds. night while I was at Bunco. Jack said, "Aw, Mom, I don't want to eat dinner without you, because I love you SO much! You're so sweet!"

Aww, my son. ♥

Jack and I went to the grocery store together. He told me, again from the back seat (we have the best conversations in the car!): "Mom, did you know Indians eat their food, and then spit it out, and then eat it again, and then spit it out, and then eat it again? They're disgusting Indians, I don't know why they do that!!"

I think I'm gonna have to look that one up and then teach my kid a thing or two about Native Americans, but still, the level of grossed-outness by a kid who farts on purpose just to smell himself was pretty funny...

Be sure and answer my Aloha Friday question too, coming up next! ☺



So a "friend" posted this remark on Facebook today, and the whole thing has just left me... sad. Names are changed to protect the innocent myself from retaliation. What do you think? Needless to say, I have since "unfriended" this person... 

E.G.: if 75% of people who ride metro weren't disgustingly obese, it sure would be a LOT more enjoyable to ride!

it would save on emissions too.
and less crowed...
I hate FAT people. Straight up HATE. Sorry.
There better never be some civil rights movement for FAT people. If there is... I'm getting a machine gun.
some reasons why PE class should be mandatory through HS and college...
and if all these fat lazy fast food eating people think they should have free healthcare ever..SCREW THEM.
i dont know M.E., but i like him...
yeah M.E., you get it. 5/10 seats for 2 have one person in them, spilling over the sides. It's disgusting. they should at the very least have to pay for 2 seats!
no those fatties need to fucking stand.
(I am sorry for the vulgarities of my language)
fat spilling over the sides of anything is a very funny picture, erin. Skin pants?
R.A., I'm pretty sure this lady was trying to sit next to me today.
Gross. when i walk by someone like that.... I always want to say... something..
6 hours ago
my uncle took a bus once. in his words, "The scum of the earth ride the bus". Technically since most are using welfare to pay their tolls, shouldn't the proceeds come back to the taxpayers? Just sayin...
P.G.,VERY different when you live in a city like DC. normal people ride the bus...otherwise it'd take you 2 hours to go a few miles at certain times of day.

Anyway. Talk about the "scum of the earth." I'm glad I don't weigh that much anymore. You hate yourself, and knowing everyone else hates you too, just makes it worse. It's terrible.


I ♥ Wags

So last night sucked.

You have seen here, and if you're friends with me on Facebook, there, that I am always cold now. Miserably so. I can not get warm to save my life; I am chilled to the bone. I am absolutely certain, no-doubt-about-it (or as I remember my mom saying, "No bout adoubt it!") positive that it's because I lost weight so quickly, my internal thermostat hasn't had a chance to catch up. And I've lost my insulating body fat. So I'm very uncomfortable.

Last night was the worst. I was shivering and shaking as usual, so I decided to take a hot shower. Only, when I got into the shower, with the water set on the hottest possible setting, it still felt cold to me! I felt like I was showering under melted ice. I got in and out of there FAST, because it was making things worse.

So I was standing in the middle of the bedroom after that, dripping and wearing just a towel, when Rob came upstairs. I said, weakly, "I need some clothes..." before bursting into tears. And then I just sat on the bed and sobbed until I made myself throw up. It was awful.

Rob got me my robe, put me under the bed covers with a heating pad, and covered the comforter with his supah-dupah warm sleeping bag. Then he crawled in beside me, holding me tight to warm me up, and I finally was able to settle down and fall asleep. I slept all night long, thanks to him. I love that man. Even if he does drive me crazy!


This morning, I was toasty and warm when I woke up, so I was reluctant to get out of my bed. So, too, was Sophia, and it took me more than 20 minutes to get her out of her bed. Ugh! She has been so slow-moving in the mornings before school; usually that is Chloë's job. She (Soph) made us so late today that we missed the bus, and I had to drive them to school. I hate missing the bus and having to drive them in. It seems like such a waste of resources!

When I got home, I farted around online and on Facebook as usual, which I did off and on pretty much the entire day when I wasn't getting up to do ten billion other things. And my friend Erika posted a link to her dinner recipe on FB, which I saw, thought it looked good, and realized I had all the ingredients!

So, I immediately straightened up the kitchen a little, because I just can not bring myself to work in a messy kitchen, before getting out all the ingredients. I defrosted the chicken tenders before throwing them in the crockpot, and chopped up a fresh onion. Not as small as I was "supposed" to, because I love cooked onion. I used one can of cream of chicken and one of cream of onion, because it's what my hand reached first and why not? Since the onion was going in there anyway. Add a little butter and the water, and voila! Dinner. It simmered all day in the crockpot, and oh! It smelled divine. I could even go in there every half-hour or so to warm myself on the crock. Which I did.

Later, I listed my entire CD collection, the replacement Cricut, and the replacement printer, on Craigslist. I need to raise some $$ to pay the bills and, well, buy groceries! I have listed that Cricut three times now, and every single time, people ask me if it's the Expression (it's not). I clearly state in the ad, "This is NOT the Expression." And someone inevitably tells me they want to buy it, are going to come today, and will pay my asking price... only to follow up with, "Is it the Expression? Oh, never mind." So annoying!!

Meanwhile, 27 people have emailed to tell me they want to buy the treadmill, which I sold a week or two ago. I really need to find the link to unpublish that ad!

Anyway. What else?

Oh, so I did end up making a spreadsheet of all the spending and savings for 2010 so far, at least starting Sunday. I missed a week, and it's too late to do anything about that now. Guess I'll just have to end it a week into 2011, hm?

I did other stuff too, around the house, but it seems like I spent the vast majority of the day sitting here, thinking "it's too cold to do a damn thing," and shivering. That was kinda sucky. Oh, and I know, I did the reports for the three shops I did at the mall on Friday, which I couldn't (okay, didn't) do this weekend... and I read and read all kinds of blog posts on couponing and stockpiling, because I am really going to get serious about it this year!

Things livened up, of course, when the kids came home from school. As always, they were all about having an afternoon snack, but no one ever wants the same thing. I made Jack eat the sandwich he didn't have at lunch time; Sophia had about 9 different things because she's forever hungry, and Chloë made her BB&B. Oh, I didn't tell you about the BB&B? It's her own creation. She even wrote down the "recipe" for Rob. It's hanging on the fridge; let me go get it. Okay, it reads,

"BB and B

(Bread Butter Banana)

Lone Star Bread

Spread margarine all around. Put 2 slises of Banana on it.


that is how you make BB and B"

Isn't that cute?!! I so love it. She made that the other day after our mystery shop there, and of course we no longer have the Lone Star bread, so it just isn't the same, but it's still her new favorite snack. She's very proud of it.

After snack and a brief unwind-and-play period, I got the kids started on their homework. It's always a bit of a trial to keep Sophia away from the other kids, and quiet so she doesn't bother them, while at the same time keeping them quiet and not hitting and kicking each other! Fun stuff. But we managed to get everything done between 1600 and 1700, a fact which is nothing short of a miracle for Miss Chloë Raine.

So, I had promised them we'd go get a Redbox movie, and let them pick it out, if they finished their homework by 5. Jack was literally finished at 1659, so I kept my word! I told them to put shoes, socks and coats on, and then my phone rang. I told everyone to be quiet so I could talk on the phone, and it ended up being a lady from the substitute teaching office, telling me everything I needed to know for next Thursday's meeting. The entire time I was on the phone, Chloë was shouting and yelling, completely ignoring my wild gesticulating. I was pissed!!

After I hung up, I yelled at her about how rude and disrespectful she was while I was on the phone, and then I noticed she never put on her shoes or coat, either! So, I told her that, sorry kid, you don't get to pick out the movie. She walked away to put on her shoes and coat, and I got up to follow her, and found her making an nasty face and sticking her tongue out at me! So unlike her... and she didn't know I'd seen it.  I confronted her, and she denied it, which always amazes me when I am telling them, "But I SAW YOU DOING IT!!" Hello, how else would I know? She finally admitted it, and I sent her to her room, for the disrespect and for lying. She would have to stay there and not go pick out the movie at all.

{And before anyone hates on me for leaving her home alone, the Redbox is literally 3 minutes away, and she is nearly 8½. Certainly old enough to leave home for a maximum of 10 minutes by herself, especially when I knew she absolutely WOULD obey and not leave her room while I was gone.}

At the Redbox, we quickly picked out "Monsters vs. Aliens" for the kids, and "The Proposal" for me and Rob. But I guess that'll be just for me, tomorrow, since he's disappeared for the night.

I called Chloë down when we returned, and she apologized for her behavior. And I apologized to her, too, because I have a foul mouth and said something not nice to her. We forgave each other and hugged it out, and all was right with the world again. But I really do need to watch what I say. For one, she's a sensitive kid, and for two, I know full well that words can hurt more than hands. I am NOT going to be my stepmother.

So. I put the movie on for the kids and then went to check the crockpot. Ooh, the smells were driving me crazy with anticipation. I threw the biscuit-dumplings in, and was just about to do nothing much when the doorbell rang. It was the Cox cable guy, here to shut off our cable. =( He came in and immediately unplugged the DVR/cable box, which made me oh-so-sad since I never got around to watching the shows I had saved. I've become so dependent on the DVR! And of course there were tears on the parts of the kids, too, first because in doing so, he cut off their movie, and second because they started asking me, "What does this mean? No more Noggin? No more Disney Channel? No more Cartoon Network?" Yeah. It was a sad day for the Odettelettes. But they'll survive, and so will I! I still got my innernet, right??


Dinner was ready, but none of the kids wanted to leave their movie to eat it. So I fixed myself a small bowl, and you know what? It was GOOD. I shall definitely make this again. Even the biscuit-dumplings, about which I was unsure, tasted yummy. Try this!

Rob came home, and he was in agony from a bad migraine. He thought he was going to throw up, so he didn't want any dinner. I again made the kids stop their movie to come eat, and Sophie and Jack were bawling about it. Normally, I don't put up with crying over dinner at the table. You either eat, no tears, or you go cry in your room. I hate that!

But tonight was Cub Scouts night, so Jack really needed food in his belly. He tried a bite of dumplings. Yuck! He tried a bite of chicken. Ew! He cried and cried for ten minutes, until I excused him to go wake up his father and find his Class A shirt. Meanwhile, Sophie was also refusing to eat, but Chloë was on her second helping. She really liked it!  Phew. Success for one kid, anyway.

The boys left for their meeting, about which I don't really have any details, while the girls finished their movie. They loved it! Not quite as much as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, I don't think, but they were really engaged in the plot. The boys came home, finally ate some dinner (cereal for a still-crying Jack, who really didn't like the food), and the kids went to bed.

I checked in on my deal/coupon blogs once more, and found a great scenario for some products at Walgreens. I was so excited, I had to go right out and get everything! Here it is:


I paid $47.61 (after tax) out of pocket for these 22 items, some of which are very expensive high-end products (well, for Wags anyway). The savings amounted to $100.63, since the value was  $144 for all the items (before tax). I'll get an additional $10 back from the Johnson & Johnson mail-in rebate (in the 1/10 newspaper coupon insert), and I got back another $5 in Register Rewards for all the L'Oréal items I bought on clearance with coupons, making my net OOP (out of pocket) $32.61 for $144 worth of stuff! Not bad. Here's what I got this time:


  • (2) L'Oréal nail polishes in "Breaking Curfew" (normally $4.99; I paid 29¢ each - and I really like the color!)
  • L'Oréal dual eye shadow in "Mocha Buff" (normally $8.99; I paid $2.49 and also really like the color)
  • L'Oréal Age Perfect Makeup in "soft ivory" (normally $16.59; I paid $2.29 and would have chosen this exact shade even if it wasn't on clearance)
  • L'Oréal EverPure Smooth Conditioner (normally $7.49; I paid $5.49)
  • L'Oréal EverStrong Reconstruct Conditioner (normally $7.49; I paid $5.49 and got two conditioners because I always use it up faster than shampoo)
  • (2) 18oz Quaker Oats (normally $3.29; I paid 50¢ each for something we use up a lot)
  • (2) Bic Comfort3 Advance razor 4-packs for Rob (normally $6.50 each; I paid $2 for both)
  • (4) Lubriderm Daily Moisturizing Lotions (normally $4.29 each; I paid 86¢ for all four!)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Nourish+ Volume Shampoo (normally $7.99; I paid $5.99)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Nourish+ Volume Conditioner (normally $7.99; I paid $1.99)
  • (2) Clean & Clear Blackhead Clearing Scrubs (normally $5.99 each; I paid $3.98 for both, and either Rob can use this or maybe I'll keep it in the stash for a few years and one of the kids might need it?? Hopefully they'll get my skin though, not that his is too terrible)
  • RoC Multi-Correxion Exfoliating Cleanser (normally $10.49; I paid $2.24 and am interested to see how this works!)
  • RoC Age Diminishing Night Cream (normally $15.99; I paid $8.97, which is still a lot for me to spend on a non-Jafraitem, so it better be good!)
  • Extra Spearmint gum (normally $1.29; I paid nothing and will use it for Tooth Fairy duties tonight, since Chloë lost another tooth!)
  • Mentos cinnamon mints (normally 99¢; I paid nothing)

So those prices are pretty good, and don't include the $15 I mentioned above. Sweet deals, and good stuff. I get so giddy when I get all these wonderful products! I'm going to go add everything to my Rubbermaid storage tote for all the toiletries I'm stockpiling, and then go play Tooth Fairy. After that? Hopefully sleep...





Sunday Steals and Deals

Once again, thanks to Deal Seeking Mom for helping me put together these bargains! Also, I'm reading The Thrifty Mama too, to get more and better ideas for saving money (among other savings bloggers, if you want to know - ask!). Thrifty Mama spent less than $2,000 OOP (out of pocket) in 2009 on groceries for her family. Two grand for the entire YEAR! She is my new hero!

All this awesome deal-shopping means we are starting to get tons of toiletries & cleaning supplies stocked up now, so I have a large Rubbermaid tote to store everything. I think I'm giong to start keeping a spreadsheet of my savings and spending for 2010 so I can see how I stack up next to the masters listed above.



I got all of the above at CVS for $26.53 out of pocket after sales, coupons and ECBs (Extra Care Bucks), and still came home with $6 in ECBs for next time!  The toilet paper alone sells for $15.99! I had to do it in six different transations to maximize my money, but the CVS ladies were super nice and helpful, and they told me they want me to shop for them from now on! The list is: 

  • (6) 1.5-oz packages of Cadbury Mini Eggs (which will work for two days of snacks in the kids' lunches this week!)
  • (4) Six-packs of Soy Joy bars (paid absolutely nothing for those, and Rob likes 'em!)
  • 20-pack of Cottonelle TP (biggest OOP expense, but we seriously needed it for our 3 bathrooms; caught Sophia wiping with the edge of her dress this weekend, even though we had Cottonelle wipes right in front of her!! Ew.)
  • (4) Hot Wheels cars (which Jack has already bought with his saved Dad Dollars)
  • (2) 5-packs of oats & chocolate Fiber One Chewy bars (yum!)
  • (2) 4-packs of 60-Watt GE Reveal bulbs (always needed here, since our electrical system is screwy and our bulbs pop off constantly)
  • L'Oréal single-color eye shadow
  • L'Oréal dual-color eye shadow
  • Pantene Pro-V shampoo
  • Pantene Pro-V conditioner
  • (2) 20-oz bottles of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke (my go-to drink when I'm sick of protein shakes)
  • Bottle of CVS nail polish remover
  • (2) 14-oz boxes of regular Cheerios (what house with kids doesn't need plenty of this?)
  • (2) CVS Green Bag Tags (of which I can only use one, so if you're a CVSer - or want to be - and don't have yours, let me know and I'll mail you my extra! You get an extra ECB every fourth time you use this and a canvas bag!)

Pretty good, I think! Of course, there were lots more ECB deals to be had, but I only buy the things we can actually use, unless they are free or money-makers, in which case I get them to bless someone else.



I got all of the above for $22.58 OOP at Wags, and still came home with $6 in Register Rewards (RRs) for my next visit! My receipts say I saved $61.66 after coupons and RRs, but it's even more if you account for sale prices. This represents only two transactions. I could probably have done a little better, rolling my RRs over and over, but the Wags employees are not nearly so nice as the CVS ones, and I always get flustered and have them ring everything up at once. I could use a little more backbone, please! Here's the list:

  • (2) Betty Crocker Warm Delights caramel cake packages (dessert for the girls last night)
  • (1) Betty Crocker Warm Delights brownie package (dessert for Jack)
  • (2) single-ct.Thermacare Heat Wraps (Rob's using a lot of these for his old man aches and pains lately)
  • (2) cans of Oust Air Sanitizer (always good for stinky litter box issues)
  • Rembrandt whitening toothpaste ($5 a pack normally!)
  • (2) Jimmy Dean egg & sausage breakfast bowls (will feed my man before work in the morning)
  • (2) tubs Betty Crocker chocolate frosting (really good since I have to bring dessert to Bunco on Wednesday night and planned on cake or cupcakes)
  • (2) big bags of Lifesavers hard candy
  • (2) 4-count Bic Soleil razors
  • Colgate whitening toothpaste
  • Hellmann's mayo (since I finally finished Rob's icky Miracle Whip and am eating lots of egg salad lately, to get my protein in)
  • Hall's sugar-free lemon & honey cough drops
  • Dryel kit (we don't have a lot of dry-clean only clothes, but it'll be nice not to pay for the ones we do!)



In the evening, I remembered I had to use my Michael's coupon for 20% off everything, including sale and clearance items, by 7 pm, plus a 40% off coupon for one item. I got all this for $53.13 out of the troop money, since it's all for scouting items! Here's the breakdown:


$15.07 of that will be reimbursed by us, since it's actually stuff for Rob and Jack to build his Pinewood Derby car for the upcoming race. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to get 20% off, so I combined everything on one total. They got some paint, better wheels (all official, of course), and other stuff. Jack is SO excited about building his car, and it's really coming along nicely! Rob is a pro and has won awards for his Pinewood Derby cars, so Jack's a lucky boy!


Lots of pretty and practically-free Christmas ribbon, which I'm going to use to make cookie bundles for selling at our booth sales in Feb and March. Hopefully they'll sell well, and buyers will get a free recipe book (made by me and Chloë) for using the cookies in their bundles!


I'm going to make prize packages for each of the 8 girls for doing a great job in our Cookie Walk-About next month! This is our first year participating, so I really want to encourage them to do a great job. I found almost all of this stuff on sale for 33¢ (plus 20% off) in the stocking stuffer clearance aisle.  Each girl will get:

  • A box of four homemade (by me) cupcakes, decorated pretty
  • Magnetic photo frame (one of four, themed with classic childhood games)
  • foam animal stickers (ladybug, bee, bear or alligator)
  • one of four Sticker Station packages
  • (2) body glitter tubes, in pink & purple
  • one of four wooden puzzles
  • keychain photo frame (and we're going to give Chloë her own house key when she gets hers!)
  • lip gloss & lip butter
  • 1 bubble necklace
  • 1-2 pencil toppers that have Valentine's stamps on the other end
  • 1-2 Valentines pins
  • 6 Disney pencils, either fairies or princesses

Chloë was there when I was sorting everything, and she thinks it looks like a pretty great prize package. I'm glad she think so, and I hope the other girls do, too! Now I just need to figure out how I'm going to package them up. If you can think of something, please do share!

So. Lots of good deals this week, eh?



Cookie Time!

Friday, Steph and I met at the mall in Norfolk with her son Luke, and her niece Carolynn (I always spell it wrong, sorry!). I had three mystery shops to do there, and she came along just to hang out.

At first, she and the babies went into the play place by the Food Court so Caro could play and luke could nurse. I sat by myself at a nearby table and studied my shop forms. When I was finally ready to go, we got started - after a brief trip to the family bathroom for potty-training Caro.

The first shop was a pretzel store. Steph got her pretzels, and then I did my part. We sat and ate at a table, and of course I can't eat a big hot pretzel, so I tried to feed the rest of my yummy almond one to Caro, but she didn't want anything from me. Wah. I stuffed the rest for safekeeping somewhere in Steph's stroller, but I forgot to grab it later for the kids or Rob. Oh, well.

Next, we stopped into Bath & Body Works, because I had a coupon for a free Signature Collection travel item when you buy anything else in the store. I found a good-sized lotion on sale for a buck, and then got the shower gel for free! Sweet. And if it wasn't for Jafra, B&BW would be my favorite shower stuff. Mmmmm...

After that, we went into a popular home décor shop, so I could pretend I needed to do a wedding registry. I'd even worn just my engagement ring, without the wedding band, to make it real. That shop took forever and a day, but I scored six red smelly-good pillar candles for 97¢ each for my purchase requirement, so in the end they'll be free. But, six! Normally, I think they were like 11 bucks apiece. Man, I love a deal. And I've been burning them ever since, including right now. Divine.

Lastly, we went to a well-known high-end cooking store to do my last mystery shop. That shop did not go well; they did a pretty bad job on the requirements I was looking for. But, for my purchase requirement, I did score a big container of white decorator pearls (candy) for making cakes and cupcakes. I'm going to start taking more of those shops so I can stock up on the sanding sugars for decorating, too! Fun.

We thought about grabbing a quick lunch back at the Food Court after that, but everything was too expensive for our meager budgets, so we skipped it. Too bad, I was drooling for some orange chicken - but not at six bucks for a small helping!


We ran back to the family bathroom so Caro could go potty one last time before heading home, and I got to get my last snuggles in with the baby. He is just so cute; I adore him!


Steph even asked me to change his diaper, and so I did. It was the first time I ever changed a cloth one! It wasn't hard at all, and her dipies are so cute. If I had it to do all over again, I would use cloth. But I will say this: my kids NEVER had diaper rashes, and their clothes weren't wet with wee-wee all the time, either! LOL (Well, unless we had to use sucky Huggies, bleck. I'm a Pampers girl all the way. Or, um, Luvs.)

So we parted ways after that, and I was almost all the way home when Steph called me, distraught because she couldn't find her truck! And she and the poor babies were freezing. Thankfully, she just ended up being on the wrong level and was able to get home soon after that, but I felt bad that I was way too far away to go back and help.


Silly Sophie after school

Later Friday night, I took Chloë to the big Cookie Rally (aka Cookie Kick-Off) at a local elementary school. Only she and our Troop Leader's daughter, Gabrielle, were able to make the Rally. Too bad, it would have been a shame if more of the other girls were there! I'm pretty sure we were the smallest troop representin'.


I had camnesia again, so you're stuck with iPhone pictures of the event. Better than nothing, though! There were six stations set up around the cafeteria, and we moved from one to the next when they yelled "SWITCH!" over the microphone. This first station was where the girls had to build their own guitars out of empty paperboard boxes, rubber bands, and paper towel tubes. We were supposed to bring our own supplies, but we forgot. (Well, I was never told...) Luckily, they had some extras there.


Chloë getting a little help from Miss Nikki, her troop leader. The boxes were really hard to cut with kid scissors!


Gabrielle concentrating on fitting her tube into the hole I'd helped her cut


Chloë putting the finishing touches on her guitar, before it was time to switch to the next activity


The next station was where the girls got to eat ice cream with some of their yummy cookies! None for the grown-ups, but that was fine by me, since I wouldn't have been able to partake anyway. Nikki was glad when one of the girls didn't want hers and shared it with her, though.

Mmm, delish!


The second part of the second station was a stacking game, where they had to race the clock, alternating turns, to stack two varieties of cookies as high as they could. Our girls worked really hard and built a tall tower of Do-Si-Dos! 

At station three, the girls started to color a rainbow showing their sales goals, which they'll color in more as they meet each percentage point. Chloë is already at almost 20% of her total goal, so we need to get coloring!


At the second part of the third station, they were all drawing pictures of what their goals were. For our girls, the goal is to go camping as a troop, so Chloë and Gabrielle drew as much of their campsite as they could before "SWITCH!"


At the fourth station, they drew cards and things as a way to market their cookies. I thought this station was kind of silly. But I did score a little display there for the cookie bundles we're going to do at our booth sales later on in the cookie sale, at least.


At station five, they colored pandas, in recognition of the panda-themed prizes for selling cookies. Our troop never takes the prizes, though; we always opt for the extra money. It kind of sucks for Chloë, since she always seems to work the hardest and has to share equally, but fair is fair, and she helps make the decision, too.


At the last station, the girls made a poster to display at our cookie booths!  They really worked together throughout the rally; great teamwork, girls!


After that, the whole crowd came together to sing the cookie song, sung to the tune of "You Are My Sunshine." See the cute little Daisy troop on the stage, leading the song? Too adorable.


The girls strummed their homemade guitars as they sang along.


Introducing... the cookies! Here, Samoas, Thin Mints, and Do-Si-Dos. Mmm, Samoas...


And guess what?  Our girls won the cookie-stacking contest for the Brownies and Daisies division! Chloë was so stoked to win a prize, out of all those girls, and Nikki and I were pretty happy, too! Of course, the prizes were treats from the Fall Product Sale, and Chloë's Peanut Squares were well enjoyed by her family...

After that, Nikki wanted to leave, so we snuck out the back door. I don't know what else we missed; I was kind of disappointed about it, but oh well.

Chloë and I drove around the corner to deliver the order form to one of the other girls' mom, and then we stopped at the bank to deposit a mystery-shopping paycheck. Lastly, we ran to Walgreens to get more deals; I think I got six things for 15¢ out of pocket! I didn't photo them, though, so who remembers what they were?



Saturday marked the beginning of the cookie sale, and I wanted to get out there and start selling before other Scouts came through the neighborhood. It was FREEZING, even though we were bundled up well. Lots of complaints from the children for the 2-3 hours we were out there. I managed to lock us out of the house, too, so we had to wait for Rob to come home and let us back in! Fortunately, I realized it right away, so we hadn't even gotten started selling yet. We took a snack and potty break then, and another when a Freecycler showed up to pick up the last of the tutus that didn't sell on Etsy. Good riddance.  Finally, another Brownies mom called us home so she could get her order form, and that was the end of that. Saved by the bell! 

Chloë sold 36 boxes in that time span, which isn't too bad considering the number of times we actually ran home and spent in the house. I wanted to get back out on Sunday, too, but it just didn't happen. Hopefully she'll be able to take her order form to school tomorrow and get more cookies sold!


Every chance they got, the Littles ran down by the lake to play, while Chloë was talking to a customer. I eventually had to put a stop to that when Sophia got out of my sight and came back to tell me she'd stepped out onto the frozen edge of the lake. Eek!


A tree provides a nice place to rest for a moment


Chloë takes a turn


We rarely get ice on the streets, so I let the kids slide around for a few minutes between houses. That is, until Chloë fell and hurt her little bum!

 So that was the start of Cookie Season 2010. Let me know if you need cookies; we have a new variety called Thank U Berry Munch, with cranberries and white chocolate. I think it's going to be a very popular one. Dulce De Leche is also back, along with Lemon Chalet Creams and all the old favorites. I think it's going to be a good year for cookies!



Whew. It has been a busy few days! You can tell, because I missed Friday Fragments, Aloha Friday, Saturday 9, Six-Word Saturday, and Sunday Stealing! No matter, they'll come back 'round again next weekend.

On Thursday, I went to the kids' school to meet with the Assistant Principal, Jack's teacher, the social worker and school psychologist, and the special ed teacher to discuss testing for Jack's future status as a special needs student. Because he's turning 7 in March, he will soon no longer qualify for services under the "developmentally delayed" label, so we're going to have to find him a new label if he's going to be able to continue to receive help.

There was a lot of discussion about his temperament. He can be a very sweet boy, very loving and really silly, but on the other hand, he can be very challenging! If he doesn't want to do something (his schoolwork, his homework, talk to you, etc.), then he just will NOT do it.

Because of that, it's been difficult for his teachers and parents to assess his actual skill level when it comes to schoolwork, because we don't know where the ability part ends and the willingness part begins, you know? He asks such intelligent questions a lot of the time, and he's very inquisitive, so everyone was joking that he'd be the surprise kid who popped on Gifted testing later this year! It wouldn't shock me, really. Rob's mom said a while back that he'll probably end up being the smartest one of the bunch!

So when he goes in for his referral back to endocrinology later this week, I'll have the doc give him a quick physical so the school doesn't have to do that part of the testing. And then they'll give him a full battery of tests to see how he does in other aspects, like social, psychological, intellectual, etc. He'll get an IQ test, and I look forward to getting the results of that and everything else. The last time he had this full assessment done, he was two! So the picture is quite different now.

I can't think what else to share about that meeting. Let me know if you have questions (Mom)!


I hadn't had any sleep the night before, so I was a little nervous about the Brownies meeting after school that day. I had to give not one, but two training presentations about the Girl Scout Cookie sale that started on Saturday. They both went really well, though, and I was able to get through them without being too scatter-brained. Our Troop Leader keeps telling me that I'm a leader, too, but I've never thought of myself as such, and my abilities in public speaking are a lot of the reason why. But like I said, it went very well, and I was pleased. I am glad it's over, though!


As for the girls, they worked on studying the meaning behind the World Trefoil Pin (am I getting that right? I could be mixed up as usual) before having a chitty-chat about the upcoming Thinking Day. They don't have their country selected yet, so I don't know which they'll be representing, but many of the girls are hoping for Russia!  They all look so grown up to me here, especially when I think back to kindergarten, when many of them were in this same group as Daisies. Time flies...


And here's Baby Vivian once again, getting so big! She's such a cutie...


Later that night, we went to a steakhouse out in Chesapeake for a dinner mystery shop. We had never been to that restaurant before, and it the food was okay, but our service was outstanding. I gave a really stellar report - if I do say so myself - but then ended up getting the shop excluded (meaning, no pay), because I goofed and used a coupon for our appetizer. Damn it! I'm such an idiot. Oh, well, at least the dinner was really cheap - $25 for appetizer, 2 entrées, drinks and 3 desserts (one for each of the kids)! Not bad, not bad at all.

And that was Thursday. Stay tuned...



Nutella No-Go

Mel & the kids 001

Busy day.  I should be sleeping by now. I did take the sleeping pill last night and slept a full night, and I haven't been tired since then. I'm still wide awake, too much so to settle down and try to sleep, darn it. Sucks, because I have another full day tomorrow.

Mel & the kids 005

I did a lot, but it doesn't feel like I got a lot done, if that makes any sense. I cleaned up the kitchen, ran the dishwasher and emptied it later. I did take an hour after the kids got on the bus and play my various silly Facebook games. But then I didn't touch them again until night-time. I canceled the cable, although I did decide to keep the local channels for $10/month. We can always drop that later, too. I looked at all the coupon sites and made my deals for today, which is when the new grocery sales start in our area. I contacted the Brownies moms about coming to sign permission slips, and no one wanted to come... so they all told me to forge their signatures on them. Heh. I did, but then I realized - after turning it in - that I spelled one of the girls' names wrong! Oops... how do you explain that one?!

Mel & the kids 007

Anyway, so after I showered and got ready to go out, I ran to Target and got lots of great deals, including the new "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" DVD for the kids. Chloë has been raving about it since she saw it at the theatre with her soccer friends, and I knew the kids would enjoy it. I got lots of other great stuff too, but I didn't have time to take a picture and figure it all out.

Then I went to Harris Teeter - MY old store - for the first time since I quit back in October. They are running super doubles week on coupons, so I had to suck it up and go in. I was so nervous! It turns out that was for naught, because everyone was so nice and welcoming. I got lots of hugs, and everyone was concerned about me because they'd heard about the breast cancer thing. I assured them that I'm fine and all is well, and they seemed happy about that. Lots of nice people. I really kind of miss working there. I do. But, the hours weren't enough, and apparently things have gotten lots worse regarding that. So it was the right thing to do, I guess. Oh yeah, and I spent about $61 but SAVED $84 in coupons! All stuff we need and will use, of course.

Mel & the kids 011

I got home just five minutes before the bus came, so I didn't even have time to unload the groceries (and speaking of which, please tell me why I bought the 2½-dozen egg carton when there is NO room in my fridge for it?!) before walking down to the bus stop. The kids came home, and they helped me carry in the bags. I quickly scanned the Target stuff and part of the HT stuff for Nielsen, and then we had to leave for both girls' dance classes. 
Sophie went first, and the Bigs did their homework while she was in there. I knitted on the kimono. Can't really say it was power knitting, since I had to stop every two seconds to help Jack with his work. Chloë went in second, and I kept knitting while the Littles climbed all over every inch of the van, pressing buttons and generally driving me mad. In a fun way, though. ;)

Mel & the kids 014 

Oh, and the entire time all this day was going on, I was in a madcap rush to figure out if and how we were going to go to New York City - tomorrow! And back - in a day! Chloë's acting and modeling agent there called to say they had an audition for her to attend today or tomorrow (I said to them, "Today? You know we're in Virginia, right?") for a Nutella commercial. They really wanted her this time. Steph volunteered to drive up with us OR stay home and get the Littles to and from school, however we needed her. Isn't she awesome? We were going to have her and Luke come with us, and then her sister Mandy wanted to come along, too. It was just going to be a straight shot up there, audition, have lunch in Manhattan somewhere (the audition was right on Broadway), and then drive straight home. A seven-hour trip, or thereabouts. I was going to have to cancel all sorts of things for tomorrow. But in the end, we called to check and see if she could still go, seeing as she's missing four front teeth, and they said NOPE! No way, no how. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted...

Mel & the kids 016

After the dance classes - during which time I talked to Ms. D, Chloë's Jazz teacher, and was told that she's focusing much better in class lately, to my surprise since I have not yet had her evaluated for ADD - we came home so I could prepare dinner. The yummy food from grocery shopping was still all over the kitchen table to be put away, and the kids were picking at this and picking at that, wanting to nibble, nibble, nibble. I had planned on making the grilled salmon from Schwan's, but in the end they had sandwiches and chips and assorted other things, and I never cooked at all. 'Tis fine. Salmon can wait 'til Friday, since we have a dinner shop tomorrow night.

Mel & the kids 018

After dinner, Rob and the kids watched "Cloudy With..." while I worked on Cookie Sale paperwork and drove the permission slips over to the person in charge. He got the kids ready for bed, and then we posed for all these silly pictures together. It was a little bit of fun, we enjoyed it. Jack keeps insisting he doesn't know how to smile, so in the ones where he IS actually smiling, it's because I was tickling him! And now, back to reading my Cookie Manual some more, before I train the girls and moms at tomorrow's meeting. Ciao!


Ego Stroking

So, I stayed up after I posted last night, until about 0500, knitting on that kimono. It really doesn't look like anything recognizable yet, which is why I haven't shown it to you at all. I think it'll have to wait until it's completely finished. It's coming along nicely, though. I'm kind of worried that I'll run out of yarn.

I didn't get right to sleep after that, because Rob was up and banging around, getting ready for work. So I got maybe an hour of sleep before it was time to get the kids up and ready for school.

Which meant, as planned and predicted, I pretty much slept the entire school day. I'm disappointed things have started off this way, but I'm not going to spank myself for it. Wait, that didn't sound right! Anyway. As soon as I'm done with this, I'm going to take a sleeping pill in order to get plenty of sleep tonight.


When I went out to the bus stop to fetch the kids, this sight greeted me at the back of my van. Lovely! I really thought someone had slashed it, because it was so flat, but Rob found a nail embedded in the tire. Sorry for making everyone on Facebook think someone had sabotaged my wheels! ;)

Chloë had Ballet today, and we were supposed to leave 45 min later, but now we were grounded. Plus I had a meeting for tonight that I could not miss. So I called Rob to come home from work to take her to dance. Fortunately, he was already almost finished anyway. Unfortunately, he arrived home late, and they missed half of class. Better late than nothing, I guess!

While they were gone, I went outside to take the picture. The neighbor's daughter was visiting, and since we don't see her very often, she did a double-take when she saw me. And then came a flood of compliments about how great I looked, how very different I looked, and what a great job I've done. Whenever people ask me if I'm at my goal, and I say no, I have about 40 or so more pounds to go, they look shocked! I guess that means I'm wearing the remaining chub well? That's good, because if I don't lose another pound, it'll still mean I look okay. But I'm not satisfied with that... Anyway, she finished up by saying that Rob had better watch out, 'cause "Girl! You look fine!" She complimented me on my haircut, too. Really, she had my head so swollen, I could hardly get back in the door. It's such a good feeling!

While they were gone, Jack did his homework and asked me about 47 times if I would make the same soup as last night for dinner. We had two cans left - Rob had taken a couple for lunch yesterday and today - so I agreed. Sophie and Chloë wanted a hot dog, and then they had soup besides. I had scallops. It was a potluck kind of night. Tomorrow, I'll do something "real."

After dinner, everyone piled into Rob's piece of shit God I hate it so much truck, to take me to my meeting. It's cookie time again! So I sat through an hour and a half of Girl Scouts Cookie Training, learning the ins-and-outs of being the Cookie Chair. Again. It was mostly the same as last year, with a few slight changes. It's still going to be lots of work for the next three months, so I hope Team Odette is ready. Bring on the crazy!

While I was there, Rob took the kids to Wally World to get some crap to fix my tire. He worked on it all evening, and now everything is right with the world again. Phew! I guess he's good for something. I'll keep him.

I kid, I kid. He's good for lots of things. Look at the pretty babies he gave me!

Anyhoo, after he picked me up in that God-forsaken truck, I sent out some cookie info to the other troop moms and then waited for my next meeting to start.

This time, it was an online or on-the-phone training meeting for a new mystery shopping program at a popular high-end Chinese restaurant. I've been excited to eat at this particular place since ours opened up several years ago, and now we're going to get the chance! Plus, the trainer really stroked our egos some more, telling us repeatedly that we were selected because we were the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the most elite, yadda yadda. You may think that mystery shopping is just a silly little hobby, but really if you knew what it was about, you would know that it's serious business and it's a lot of work, for me and for them. So all of us really appreciated being told those things. It's nice to be recognized, in whatever you do, isn't it?

The only other thing of note for today is that we're going to cancel our cable TV service (keeping the interweb, of course) to save some green. It's been a thought of mine for years now, but I just now broached it to Rob. The kids are going to be upset, but we'll live. We'll play games, we'll take walks - I'll teach them to knit! It'll be just fine. There will be plenty that I'll miss about having television, like watching it in the middle of the night when I'm knitting and can't sleep, but that's what we have Netflix for, right?

So. With some of that saved green, I'm going to sign Chloë up for 3-4 classes at the Hurrah Players, which is a theater group that puts on many productions a year here in Hampton Roads. They offer classes in all kinds of areas related to theater performance, and kids can't audition for their productions without being registered for classes. Plus, since Chloë wants to spend this summer in L.A. (living off my substitute teaching earnings, hopefully), working on her acting and modeling thang, she really needs to have some recent things on her résumé. This will be great for her.  I haven't asked her yet about doing the Hurrah Players, but we've talked about it in the past, and she was game.  Of course, I won't send a check until I'm sure!

And that is that. Here's hoping I get tons of sleep tonight!


No Soup For You

Well, Monday wasn't the greatest day in the life of me. I had lots of plans to do lots of things around the house, and I did basically NONE of them.

First, I woke up and immediately smelled the pungent, unmistakeable smell of steaming dog shit.  I don't know what it is lately, but our dog and one of the cats have been having numerous accidents around the house. (More upsetting is the cat peeing outside of her box, because hello, have you smelled that stuff? You can not get rid of it!) So I jumped up, got the kids up for their first day back to school from Winter Break, and cleaned up multiple piles of pooch poop.

Then, it was time to head to the bus, and suddenly the kids are moving in slow-motion. We finally head to the bus stop, me practically pulling the younger girl down the street by her hand, and I look up to see the bus already at the stop with parents walking away, toward us. Aack! I did not feel like driving to school, so I started yelling and waving and running. You've read it here before, but there are only two times in my life when I run: if I'm being chased, and if I'm about to miss a bus. And so we ran. Of course, about eight cars are stopped on both sides of the bus, waiting for MY children to board, and I'm feeling quite conspicuous. And then, when my kids are seated on the bus, OTHER kids start coming out of the woodwork. Apparently, the bus driver arrived to the stop early, and NO one was there. What a relief for me not to be the only ones late. Now 16 angry drivers have someone else on whom to focus.

And on the way back home, I was thinking to myself, "Y'know, running didn't feel half bad. Maybe I'll take up running." Bahahaha. You know that ain't gonna happen.

I had planned to spend the whole day checking things off my big to-do list, but I was feeling very lazy and tired and unmotivated. So I started off on the computer instead, checking email and Facebook, harvesting crops on Farmville... you know, important stuff. And I could NOT stop yawning.

By 0900, I knew I was going to have to take a nap. And so I lay down, telling myself I would pop awake at noon - absolutely no later - and get to work.  I wanted to put dinner in the crockpot, do some power knitting, get the boxes cleaned out of the office, and so much more. Instead, it was after 1400 before I opened my eyes - and I'd slept a solid night's sleep the night before! Holy hell, I slept the entire school day. What a waste.

Instead of berating myself, however, I decided to get something to eat, check email again, and waste the rest of the time until the bus came. No point working for an hour and then having to stop, right? Yeah, it didn't sound any less lame when I told it to myself earlier, either.

I tell myself that this never-ending cold that Rob and I are having (seriously, it's been three weeks, what the heck) has me completely worn down and burnt out, and I deserve to have a day off. Maybe that's true, because I had absolutely zero energy even after that long nap.

And when the kids came home, and I gave them a snack of the lemon bars I baked last night for just this moment, all I wanted to do was lie down and go back to sleep. Chloë and Jack went upstairs to do I know not what, while Sophie sat on my lap and chatted away with me. I tried convincing her that she needed a nap, when really it was me. Another nap, after all those hours!

We lay on the couch, snuggled up close together, while she gave me her full array of complaints about having to take a nap. "I'm not tired." "I have to pee." "I'm hungry." "I'm cold." "I'm hot." "I want to play a game on your iPhone." And so on. (The kids are constantly playing with my iPhone - they love it more than I do, I swear! It has been added to the list of things they need to pay for with Dad Dollars.) No matter. I held her ever-warm, soft little body close to me, kissed her sweet cheek umpteen million times, and eeked my warm fuzzies out of her wide-awake self.

After an hour, it became extremely apparent that she was NOT going to go to sleep. Meanwhile, Jack had come back downstairs and thrown himself on the other couch for a nap. He was deep in slumber. Sophie and I went upstairs so I could finally take a shower, and there was Chloë, sound asleep on the floor of the hallway, mere feet from her bed. Weirdo. I tossed Sophia on the bed, gave her the iPhone and told her not to call China, before stepping into the hottest-hot shower. It's all hot all the time for me, now. I can never get warm anymore. We are having one big cold snap, and I hate it. I absolutely hate being cold. It makes me cranky - no, downright angry. I crave the warmth.

I had hoped that Sophie would fall asleep during my shower, under the warm covers on my bed, but no such luck. So she chattered away while I folded four loads of laundry, which took an ordinately long amount of time, since I was in such a slow-moving state. Chloë woke up and came in, cheerfully, so I set her to work carrying clothes into the kids' rooms to put in the closet. They were already on hangers; all she had to do was hang them up. So imagine my dismay when Rob came home and up the stairs to find all those clothes on the floor of the hallway, which was decidedly not clean! I was furious. Absolutely furious. We discussed. Loudly at times.

So when I gave her more clothes to hang up and then, on a hunch, went in to check that she had actually hung them up and found them on the floor of her room, well, I was beside myself.  Literally, I think there were two of me, both stomping their feet, waving arms around and shouting.  It wasn't our best Mother-Daughter moment.

Eventually, after some tears and lots more discussion about responsibility and trust, we went back into my room. I continued to fold laundry, Chloë worked on her homework, and Sophia sat with her pile of books that the preschool sent home for the week. Every so often, I would stop and read one of the books to her. Chloë, on the other side of the room, would interject with a question every now and then, when she was "supposed" to not be listening and doing her homework instead. I felt guilty for disrupting her on the one hand, but on the other, I was glad she was listening to our story time.

Rob had taken Jack to his Cub Scout meeting. In the Tiger Den tonight, the boys were given their pinewood derby cars to build. Jack wanted to go home and make his RIGHT NOW, as Rob texted me from the meeting. He's super excited about it. Rob still has his cars from his own time in the Scouts, and Jack is anxious for his father to get them out of the attic and show them off. I love that they now have this together. I didn't mind taking him to the meetings - dragging the girls along - when Rob was working nights, but I'm so glad now it's back to a Father-and-Son thing to do. Now if only I didn't have to drag the Littles along to Chloë's Brownies meetings!

When they came home, and I finished folding all the laundry that was dry, I looked up at the clock and realized it was already 2030. I hadn't made any dinner yet, and I'd told Rob the night before that if he made dinner that night, I would make it all the rest of the week. Shee-it! I was suddenly grateful for those 8 cans of Progresso chicken noodle soup that I'd gotten for super-cheap from Walgreens the day before, because that was going to be dinner! I can't eat soup anymore, since gastric bypass patients can't have liquids and solids at the same time, but I had some scallops in the fridge.

I ended up making THREE cans of soup for those four small people for dinner, which is pretty amazing for my crew. They actually loved it and kept thanking me for making it, which made me supremely happy. All four of them happily slurped their soup, and all four of them asked for seconds. Thirds, in some cases. Such a simple little meal to bring such big pleasures to all of us. And my scallops were pretty damn good, too.

They had lemon bars for dessert, and Jack fussed that he wasn't allowed to have ice cream instead. He wants ice cream every night! We have a lot in the freezer from stocking up during sales, and now I'm thinking I should have just let him have it. He needs the calories, after all. But we stood firm on the "this is what we're having tonight, take it or leave it" thing, and he left it. Ah, well.

The kids were readied for bed after that, but I still heard noises up there for quite some time afterward. Hopefully not from Sophia, who I know really did need that nap she didn't take earlier. By 2230, I was done with this dumb day. For someone who didn't accomplish much, I sure can type out a lot about it, can't I?!

I went to bed (well, couch) then and tried to sleep, but I forgot to turn off the TV, and it kept waking me up. But 0030, I was wide awake. And here I am. Trying to decide whether to take a sleeping pill to get more sleep, or watch some Martha Stewart on the DVR and do some of that afore-mentioned power knitting I never did in the daytime. Either way, tomorrow is going to suck, too. I think I better do the knitting. If I take the pill, I'll never hear my alarm for school.

So guess who will be taking a nap tomorrow?


P.S. Jack just came down, sobbing to his father that his leg hurts. Since he hasn't had his growth hormone shots in a very long time (a fact I am soon going to remedy, with an appointment on the books for him), I can't think what the cause might be. Poor kiddo.

Deals and Steals, Week of 1/3/10

Chloë and I ran to CVS at noon on Sunday to get the weekly deals that we could use. We saved lots of money and got all this for about $25 after coupons and Extra Care Bucks (no pictures because Rob put everything away before I could get the camera):

  • (2) 64-oz bottles of V8 Splash juice
  • 12-pack of 16.9-oz Aquafina water, since our filtration system needs repair
  • 60-watt GE Energy Smart lightbulb
  • Nivea Men's Body Wash
  • (2) Nivea Lip Care tubes (mmm, feels good)
  • (2) 12-packs of Coke
  • (2) 12-packs of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke
  • (2) boxes Post Trail Mix Crunch cereal
  • Box Fruity Pebbles cereal
  • Box Cocoa Pebbles cereal
  • Bottle of Softsoap pump soap

Sweet deals! Now for the Walgreens shopping trip with Sophia, later in the afternoon:


I spent right about $40, after sales, coupons and Register Rewards, and I still came home with $8 in Register Rewards for next time in my pocket! This stuff represents WAY more than that - more than twice as much, I would venture to guess - at full retail price. Here's what I got:

  • Sensodyne Pronamel "For Children" toothpaste
  • (2) Reach Total Care toothbrushes, adult
  • 60-count Viactiv Chews, chocolate
  • (2) 25-count canisters of travel wipes (can ALWAYS use those in the car!)
  • Huge chocolate chunk cookie, for Sophia
  • Reese's PB Cups, for Jack and Chloë
  • (2) Neosporin Nighttime Lip Care (definitely need that right now for the kids)
  • Kellogg's Special K original cereal
  • Kellogg's Special K Vanilla & Almonds cereal
  • (8) cans Progresso Chicken Noodle soup
  • Children's Tylenol Plus Cold
  • Children's Tylenol Plus Flu
  • Electrasol Finish tablets
  • Visine eye drops
  • Children's Robitussin
  • Robitussin Nighttime Cough & Cold (Rob needs this NOW)
  • (2) Neosporin Antibacterial Ointment tubes

Motorcycle helmet not included! ;) The best part of saving all this money is when I show and tell to Rob, and he says, "Thank you for being such a smart shopper!" and then he makes me up a nice first-aid kit with all the good things I'm able to buy for so cheap. Of course, I must say thanks to Deal Seeking Mom for helping me put all these deals together. So thanks, Tara!




Nine Years

On Saturday, Rob and I celebrated our ninth anniversary. Nine wonderful years:

In November, 2000, we met online. We lived in Florida then.

In January, 2001, we eloped!

In September, 2001, we had our first baby, Chloë Raine.

In August, 2002, I became pregnant with our identical twin boys, Jack River and Robert William.

In October, 2002, we moved to Guam.

In December, 2002, Guam was hit by the worst supertyphoon on record. Because of a complicated twin pregnancy, I was declared "unfit" to live on the island.

In February, 2003, we moved back to the States, to Virginia.

In March, 2003, our sons were born 9 weeks early. Three days later, Robby died. Something in me broke. I would not be "myself" again for about four more years.

In July, 2004, I became pregnant with our baby, Sophia Lorelei.

In April, 2005, we welcomed Baby #4 to the world.

In October, 2006, we took a family trip to Disneyworld!

Around that same time frame, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the medication trials began in earnest. My weight gain started to be out of control from the meds. I hated myself.  It was an awful two years for us, while I tried to get the weight under control and qualify for gastric bypass surgery.

In June-July, 2008, we finally took our honeymoon, the trip of our dreams, a two-week European cruise, without the kids. It was an incredible trip. We were so happy.

In January, 2009, I finally had my gastric bypass surgery. I had ballooned up to 341.3 pounds. My husband still loved me, despite the weight, although we had a rocky next couple of months while we sorted out the major ups-and-downs of the previous eight years. We went to marriage counseling. Everything worked out well, and we are now stronger than ever before. We realized that sometimes it takes a crisis to appreciate how much we love each other.

And now, in January 2010, we are celebrating nine years of marriage, four children, one child's death, a few bumps in the road, and my having lost (so far) 155 pounds since surgery. (I weigh 14 pounds less than when we met!) We are completely in love. He is my everything. I hope I am his.


For an anniversary present, Stephanie offered us a free night of babysitting.  In our marriage counseling sessions, we were "ordered" to have a date night once a week. We did that at first but can't really afford it regularly anymore, so we jumped at the chance! It wasn't until we were actually ON that date that we decided exactly where we were going to go.

We had a certificate to Taza in the Westin hotel in Town Center, but when we arrived, it turned out that Taza was gone, and Lucky Star was in its place. After some conferring, the manager of Lucky Star decided he would honor our certificate, but because the restaurant portion was closed and only the bar area was open, we decided to eat somewhere else. It just wasn't the ambiance we were looking for tonight.

We headed out into the freezing cold night to find somewhere else to eat. I thought about Ruth's Chris, but since we've eaten there several times before, I didn't mention it. We stopped in at Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro next to Ruth's Chris, where we ate one time with the kids, although it's most definitely not a kids' restaurant. It would have been more than satisfactory, but they were completely booked.

So we decided to head down to a new place where we hadn't been before but had seen on the drive over: Zushi Japanese Bistro. It was a great find! We were greeted immediately by a man who seated us and took our coats. He pulled out my chair, and pushed it in for me when I was seated. He recommended the spicy soup to us, since it was so cold out, to warm us up.


Rob took him up on the soup offer. It was REALLY spicy. When the server took his drink away to refill it and forgot to bring it back - the only slip in the otherwise outstanding service - he had to steal some sips from my Diet Coke!


The tableware was really cool. I loved the silver chopsticks!

We ordered a LOT of sushi. Far too much. I don't know what we were thinking, other than we LOVE sushi.  This wasn't even all of it - there was another plate I forgot to photograph!  So when we were finished, and I asked for a box for more than half the food, the sushi chef came over and showed genuine concern for our satisfaction. "Everything is all right? Lot of food came back to the kitchen!" I assured him everything was great and that we were just full, and he laughed and said, "Yes, only two of you!" Lucky us, though, there were plenty of leftovers for snacking later!


Rob felt brave enough to try the sea urchin. Like I've said, he'll eat anything once. I took a scoop of the orange stuff. Blech. In my past life as a marine biologist, I dissected enough sea urchins to know there's nothing in there that makes me go, "Ooh, I wanna eat that." Rob didn't like it either. Our assessment? Don't order it!


The server took our picture. I thought we looked pretty good tonight! Except for my red chest, from the allergic reaction I'm currently having to who-knows-what.

The server, the chef, and the host checked on us multiple times during the meal. When we were finished, the host immediately went to retrieve our coats for us.  We weren't near the garage where we'd parked, so I stayed behind while Rob ran to fetch the van for me. The host asked what he's driving and said he would keep an eye out for him for me. When Rob pulled up, the Host walked out - in the freezing cold, without a coat, with me and opened the car door for me. I was very impressed by that; I almost wanted to give him a hug! So if you love sushi and appreciate good service, do check out Zushi in the Town Center of Virginia Beach!

After dinner, we drove two minutes down the road to go to the movies. We saw It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.  I'd heard it was hysterically funny from beginning to end, so I really wanted to see it. I'd heard wrong. There were a few funny moments, including one absolutely hilarious scene that had me going, "Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!" but it was no all-out laugh-fest. It was okay. I could have waited for the DVD to come from Netflix. Maybe we should have seen Avatar instead, after all!

All-in-all, it was a pretty good date night for us. We came home, and Steph and Tim were there with their baby Luke asleep in Tim's arms, our three kid still up and running around after eating THREE times in our absence (!!!), and two more sleeping charges of Stim's on the couch.  A full house. The other two kids' mom was coming in a half-hour to pick them up, so we sent our chirren to bed and then hung out with Stim for the rest of the time. I held Luke the whole time. I just love that kid, as much as I love my own kids, which is saying a lot for me because I don't tend to like other peoples' kids, in general! He's beautiful and sweet and perfect, and I'm so happy for them.

And now... I'm waiting for Rob to go upstairs and clean the tub and all his crap off our bed, so we can go have a spa night together, with a good, hot soak and massages and... ;)