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Entries from April 2010

Ready, Set, Go!


This picture is for Stephanie, who requested a Work In Progress pic of the shorties I'm making for Luke. So here ya go, Steph! They look huge to me.  Hopefully they'll fit... do you like so far? I'm planning on working on them a bunch tonight, so maybe another update pic tomorrow if I do.  

So let's see... this afternoon, I picked up all three kids from school for what was supposed to be a comprehensive ADHD evaluation of Jack and Chloë. I got Sophia too, because I didn't think Rob would wake up to get her off the bus, and I didn't think I'd be home in time, since it was supposed to last an hour and a half.



Dr. P. spent less than a half-hour with both kids, total. And when I say "with the kids," I really mean just talking to me, barely acknowledging them except to say, "Don't touch that. Don't touch that." He didn't look them over, he didn't question them, he didn't really observe them. He asked me to check off symptoms on a checklist, and he questioned me very briefly about their habits and history. Then he told me, based on pulling it out of his ass that minimal information, to increase both of their doses of Adderall!



I don't understand why. I certainly did not need his "expertise" for such aggressive medical action on a disorder I'm not even sure either of them have, especially Chloë. He tried to convince me that they have it, but I disagree. I'm annoyed. I'm irritated. I'm agitated. I'm frustrated.

No, I don't see much difference in their behavior since going on the meds a week ago, but truly, I am not entirely sure there is such a problem. Jack's kindergarten teacher never mentioned these issues that are suddenly exasperating for his first grade teacher. Like my sister pointed out, he was an early preemie, he has had his fair share of problems and delays, and maybe he just needs a little more time, a little more coaxing, because he is such a little guy. Neither of us (she or me) would have labeled them as having ADHD ourselves, based on our own observations. Rather, we would have chosen to label them as "kids."

I watch my kids closely. I would say I can be hypervigilant when it comes to their various behaviors. I observe them when they're with their peers. Do I think they're out of control? Do I think they are more active than kids their ages? Do I think they need medication? No, no, and NO.

And I certainly don't think we need to go all increasing the dose, willy-nilly, based on a few minutes of questioning the mother. I am going to go the therapy route instead. I do not want to dope up my children. If there are problems, if there are issues with their behavior, I would rather suss out exactly what they are, than just dump them in a box labeled "ADHD" because that seems to be the easiest explanation. Through therapy, we can all learn coping mechanisms and stress relief techniques.

No. No more medicine. I'm done. I'm through. It's enough.


What a relief. I'm glad that is decided. You may disagree with me, and that is fine, but know this: I am positive I am doing what is best for my children and our family.


After the girls came home from dance and I finished working on my coupons for Harris Teeter (see prior post on my awesome savings!), I worked more on the whole homeschooling thing. I've been doing research. It's not enough, but it's a start. I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy the $200 Hooked on Phonics program for Jack and Sophia, for their beginning and emerging reading skills. Also, I am certain I want to use the Math-U-See program for all of them for mathematics. A friend recommended it, and it gets lots of great reviews on all the homeschooling review sites. I don't know yet where we'll find the money for these programs, but if it comes down to buying materials for our homeschool or having my abdominoplasty, I guess I'm going to suck it up and not have the surgery. The idea saddens me, but the kids' needs definitely come first.

Boohoo for me, but yay for them!

I'm thinking about taking in a baby or two for daycare. It will bring in some much-needed extra money, I can still do that and homeschool, and ... and Rob just texted me, so now I've forgotten what I was going to say! The subbing thing just hasn't worked out as planned. I don't get called when I am available, and when they do call, I can't take the job because they want me to start at, like, 0700. I don't get the kids on the bus until 0800, so it just doesn't work, with Rob's hours. Bah. Frustrating, but whatcha gonna do??

Oh, and I've submitted my letter of intent to homeschool to the city, as well as a rudimentary curriculum based on what I blogged about earlier. It's in the mail! That's it! We're homeschoolers! Well. Almost...

So now, I'm going to do my online orientation for being a Girl Scout Leader, so I can proceed to the next training step(s). I want to get all my ducks in a row as early as I can. I've always been like that. I want to get things done ahead of time. I like to follow a plan. I can be quite spontaneous, but with a plan in place, I feel more comfortable and prepared.

'Evening, then!


P.S. Also for arts instruction, I can teach them cross-stitching/embroidery, and we can learn more together about that and sewing! That will be fun. And, I thought, maybe we can get a big world map and put pins in it every day when we see where the clothes we're wearing were made, and maybe even where our food came from (if not local). That will open a discussion about the various countries of the world, for further exploration. What do you think?

Wednesday Killer Deals!!


It's Triple Coupons week at Harris Teeter again!  There are lots of FREE-after-coupon items, so I made up a list and headed out this evening. I just got back and am STOKED! I got all of the above for 11¢ OOP!!! My sub-total was actually -19¢, with 30¢ in tax, making it eleven cents. Awesome!! Here are the details:

- (2) Birdseye SteamFresh Mixed Veggies (I'm going to make some chicken pot pies with these), on sale for $1.39, minus tripled 50¢ MQ = FREE

- (2) YoCrunch yogurt 4-packs, on sale for $1.97, minus tripled 75¢ MQ = FREE

- (2) BumbleBee Premium Albacore pouches, on sale for $1.39, minus tripled 50¢ MQ = FREE

- Frank's Red Hot Sauce, on sale for $1.25, minus tripled 50¢ MQ = FREE

- French's yellow mustard, on sale for $1.50, minus tripled 50¢ MQ = FREE

- (4) Mahatma yellow rice mixes, on sale for 89¢ each, minus (2) tripled 75¢-off-2 MQs = FREE

- (2) cans Old El Paso Green Chilies, on sale for $1.65, minus tripled 55¢ MQ = FREE

- (2) Ortega Taco Seasonings packets, on sale for 99¢, minus tripled 75¢-off-two MQ = FREE

- (2) Ortega Guacamole seasoning packets, on sale for 99¢, minus tripled 75¢-off-two MQ = FREE

- (2) bottles Shamrock Farms on-the-go milk, on sale for $1.25, minus tripled 50¢ MQ = FREE

- (2) Yoplait Greek Yogurt cups, on sale for $1.25, minus tripled 45¢ MQ = FREE

- (2) bags No-Yolks Noodles, on sale for $2.29, minus tripled 75¢ MQ = 4¢ each


Total: 11¢ OOP!  I'm so excited, that's my best trip EVER! And since Harris Teeter only triples up to 20 coupons per day, I have more to go back again tomorrow.

:D :D :D


Wednesday Wickedness: Brad Pitt

So I decided to give this new meme a try today, mostly because it's helping me procrastinate on my other tasks at hand. For more WW, click here. The meme asks questions based on a famous person's quotes, and this week that person is none other than Brad Pitt. And away we go:

1. "I've got a hard time with morals. All I know is what feels right, what's more important to me is being honest about who you are. Morals I get a little hung up on.” Do you ever have a hard time with morals?

I'm not sure I have a hard time with morals, in that I know right from wrong, but sometimes I don't follow what I know is right. People are selfish, I'm selfish... it's always the sense of good against the sense of self. I'm impulsive and self-indulgent lots of times, and I struggle with that on occasion.

2. “Being married means I can [break wind] and eat ice cream in bed.” Do you eat in bed? If yes, what?

Nope. The only time I ever really ate in bed was when I was breastfeeding my babies and needed sustenance ALL. THE. TIME!

3. “I phoned my grandparents and my grandfather said 'we saw your movie'. 'Which one?' I said. He shouted 'Betty, what was the name of that movie I didn't like?” What was the last movie you hated and why?

Hmm... I can't think of one that I've hated in recent times, but way back when, I'd seen a few Ernest Goes To... movies. I abhor those. Talk about fricking stupid.

4. “We made a plan at school to meet in her garage and kiss. It was like this little business deal. I kissed her and then I ran home.” Did you make 'a plan' the first time you made love or did it just happen?

It just happened. :)

5. “You must lose everything in order to gain anything.” Have you ever felt that you lost it all? If yes, explain.

More than once, but the only one I want to talk about is when our son Robby died. I definitely felt like all was lost then. I remember having this amazing, yet horrible, feeling when I stepped out of the front door of my house and realized that the world was still going on for everyone else, while it had stopped for me. Didn't these people know what had happened??? How could they just move on like that?

6. “We did a little training in the beginning, ... But again, these guys aren't supposed to be skilled fighters.” When were you last time that you were in a fight (physical or not)?

Uh, what...? Hm, my last fight... I can't even remember.  Guess Rob and I have been doing well lately! We argue about stupid little things all the time, like "But you said this" "no I didn't" "yes you did!" "NO, I DIDN"T" etc. but not major stuff.

7. “My week consists ... five days out of the seven I've got at least three cars of paparazzi on me that I've got to either lose or whatever.” Have you ever been stalked?

Yes, in college, I had a crazy psychopath stalker. He was traumatizado. I worked with him at Publix. I quit my job over him at least once. I had at least two police reports filed on him. He broke into my house when he thought I wasn't home, and used my phone and ransacked my roommate's room (I was locked in the back, in my room, with my then-BFF), while I watched him. He broke in another time and attacked me. It was scary. I still have some paranoia about it. Every once in a while, I'll be walking somewhere by myself or something, and I'll imagine him coming up and shooting me in the face or something terrible like that.

8. “I mean, that's the modified self-help version of the psychology, I guess.” Do you believe in 'self help' for problems, or do you prefer therapy?

Both. I personally think everyone could use a little therapy (or a lot)! But self-help is good, too. You have to be personally responsible for your own growth, mental and otherwise.

9. “Fame is a bitch, man.” Do you agree that fame is lousy or would you love to give it a try? Why?

I have no interest in fame. It's hardly important to me. Unless I was famous for something really meaningful, truly significant.

10. “I have always been somebody that really wants to be married. And I don't know if that's just so I can do it differently than my parents did and prove marriage does work.” Do you believe in forever, as in 'love forever'?

Absolutely. And we're working on it!

Well, that was fun. Maybe I'll do it again next week. ;)


Back To Basics


Tuesday morning, I turned off my alarm instead of hitting the snooze button, so I overslept by an hour. Whoops! I could seriously kick my own butt when I do that; makes me so mad at myself and is NOT a great way to start the day. Luckily, Sophia wasn't late at all, as it was kindergarten registration day. We got to the school right at 0900, and the older two children picked up their "tardy" slips and headed off to class.

I took Sophia to her classroom ahead of time, letting them know that I would not, in fact, be registering her for kindy that morning, because I'm going to homeschool her next year. They were curious about that, whether it was going to be just her or all three kids, etc., but they were positive and supportive about it. I definitely feel like I need lots of encouragement right now, so that was good.

Back in the big school, after letting go of Jack and Chloë, I walked down to the cafeteria where the registration was taking place, to talk to Mrs. P. about it. I let her know, too, that I wouldn't be registering Sophia that morning, or any morning, and why. She got a sad, "We'll miss you guys" look on her face and wished me luck.

I kind of wish we could start tomorrow! I'm certainly not ready, materials- and curriculum-wise, but I am ready to pull them out of school and begin the next chapter. And, of course, stop the medicating with Adderall that I'm only giving them so they can get along in the "sit down and shut up" world of public schooling. That really bites. Fortunately, later this afternoon is their appointment with Dr. P., my prescribing shrink, to have further and more comprehensive evaluations for ADHD.


I went home, to find that Rob was still not back from work. Poor guy. I piddled on the computer for an hour, as I almost always do to start my day, and he arrived home during that time. I was hoping he'd finish cleaning up the kitchen so I could make my banana breads, but he was exhausted and pretty much knocked out immediately. The laundry monster was once again taking over our upstairs, so I resigned myself to a day of washing, drying, folding, and putting away.

And that I did.

I colored my hair in the beginning - I'm a little crunchy, but not so granola that I won't use chemicals to hide my roots, man - set my iPod to my latest obsession (the soundtrack from The Princess and the Frog), and got to work. First, I had to finish putting together all the girls' Spring/Summer outfits and hanging them in their closets (school clothes in Sophia's and non-school clothes, ie., dresses and short shorts with tank tops, in Chloë's, since they're both wearing a size 5T). Then it was time to tackle the rest of the wash. I had about four or five loads to launder, and about that many loads of clean ones to fold and put away. I showered, rinsed out my hair, dressed and straighened my 'do, but otherwise I worked on laundry straight up until the bus came at 1530. And I'm STILL NOT DONE. Oy-to-the-vey.


The laundry, it drives me to the crazy place.


As usual, once the kids came home, we were on the move. I had to wake up Rob then - but by that point, he'd gotten more sleep than I had, at least 7 or 8 hours, so I didn't feel awful about it - to take charge of The Littles, so they wouldn't have to accompany Chloë and me to Ballet class. She and I left late, because she took forever to change into her leotard, and arrived a few minutes after the start time. I know that irks her teachers, but I do the best I can.


I worked on knitting Luke's shorties during dance class. It was slow going; the yarn had gotten all messed up in my bag, somehow. Peas and carrots, that drives me nuts. I managed to get a couple inches knit up, anyhow, and soon enough I'll be needing to get some size 8 DPNs so that I can work the legs. Don't have 'em; it always surprises me to need a needle I don't have, since I have so many already! (Thanks to MIL for that, mostly.) :D


Immediately after we came home, we had to get ready for Chloë's Author Party. She and her classmates each wrote fables and published these Studentreasure books. I was going to show you the cover of her story, "The Cheetah and the Leopard," but my scanner is being a piece of dirty bathwater. It's cute, though.

Sadly, I don't have anything to show you from the party - during which the kids all read their books - because I couldn't go, and Rob had camnesia. Apparently Chloë did a really good job. However, I have the book, and without the author's permission, I am going to share her fable with you here:

 "The Cheetah and the Leopard"

A Fable by Chloë

Dedicated to My Mom and Dad

Once there was a cheetah and a leopard. They were very good friends,

but one day they had a really hard test.

During the test leopard and cheetah needed help, but they didn't ask for any.

They missed every question on the test. The next week they had some of the same questions.

This time they asked for help and got them all right.

Moral: If you need help ask!

"About the Author"

Hi! My name is Chloe Odette. I have a brother and his name is Jack. He is in first grade. I have a sister and her name is Sophia. She is in Early Discoveries. My dad works in the Navy. My mom is a substitute teacher. [snort] I am in third grade. I hope you like my book.

Cute, right?? Not the most fabulous story in the world, but maybe we can finesse that in homeschool next year.


Apparently there was cake and punch at the party, but Daddy didn't let them have any. I told him that he should have let them have a small piece, but he said nope! because they didn't have dinner yet.


Before the party, Rob and the kids had dropped me off at the Girl Scout Leader meeting down the road. I'm officially a Daisy leader now, for Sophia's troop! We even have our troop number assigned, and I have my approval letter. Exciting! I'm nervous about that, too, but somehow it'll all come together, I'm sure.

I had lots to take care of at the meeting. I needed to act as Treasurer and write the check for the Brownies (well, they'll be bridging to Juniors) to pre-register for next year, and submit the packet with all of their forms. I needed to get and fill out a pre-reg for Sophia and submit that along with Miss Nikki's youngest daughter's pre-reg, and pay for that. (I didn't have to pay for Chloë, because she earned it from selling cookies!) I had to take notes, since Nikki doesn't attend the Leader meetings, and I'll be acting as Leader of the Daisies and Co-Leader of the Juniors next year. And there was a lot more I needed to do, but I forget what now. I got a present, too! A little lanyard thing with a carabiner on it, for my keys. I got one for Nikki as well. A little gift for all the Leaders, from the Service Unit chairwoman. It says something about being a Girl Scout volunteer on it.


So I thought about homeschooling all day, while I was folding laundry.


First, I decided our little school should have a name, so it will be called Sweet Pea Academy, after the planned name of our boat. (That plan may be on hold for a while, but I can't spill the beans yet on just why right now. Hopefully soon!) Do you like the name? Well, I do.

(Oh, it was funny. I told Chloë about our new school name on the way home from Ballet. I jokingly told her I was going to print up t-shirts with the name and logo on them, for each of the kids to wear every day to school. Then she said, "Oh, and we can make up a poster and put it on the front door, so other kids can come to our school, too!" I told her that the school was just for the three of them, and she wanted to know why. I said, "Well, first of all, they'd have to PAY me to attend, and second of all, I'd want to at least practice on you guys for a year or so, so I can figure out if I even know what I'm doing!" She replied, "Of COURSE you know what you're doing - you have THREE books!!!!" I cracked up laughing and said, "You mean the ones from the library?" She rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, they're HUGE!"

Too funny. Well, at least she has the confidence in me, so that was reassuring!)


Most of what I was thinking about, though, was curriculum. I already know what they want to work on, so I thought I'd expand it a bit. For Jack, we'll not just learn about cars and boats, but we'll work on Transportation in general. We can study so many things, and I know he will just love it. The library will be our best friend. In time, we'll learn about not just boats and cars, but planes, trains, and every other form of locomotion we can think of. We can take field trips to look at these things, I hope, and it will be just the funnest thing for him.  


Chloë wants to study animals, and Sophia wants to study birds. I have a thick binder or two filled with beginner information on all sorts of animals, so I thought we'd pick one each (day? week?) to discover and learn more about in detail. I want to get some sort of family membership, either to the zoo or the aquarium or the children's musuem or something, but I'm thinking the zoo will be good for this area of study. I'd love to have family memberships to all of them, but I just don't think we can afford it. But think of it, we could go to the zoo all the time! It will be great.


Chloë also stressed learning about art and music. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about music, but I'm going to talk to my friend Shana, who IS a music teacher, and see if she has any recommendations. But we are going to explore so many kinds of art. I'm going to teach them to knit and crochet! We have painting jobs that need doing in the house, so I'll do that with the kids and explore painting with them! There's a ceramics studio just down the road, so I thought I'd take them to that for one or more of our field trips. I'm also going to encourage them to keep a journal - not just for writing, but for drawing, too.


For physical education, and to boost our study of the natural world, we'll go on lots of nature walks and stuff. I'm also going to find out if the gym(s) on the Navy base(s) have anything for kids, so we can go and exercise for free. If not, I'm hoping we can find room in the budget for either a family membership to the YMCA or the local rec centers, which are pretty good. We used to be members, but we hardly ever used it; I'm determined to have them be physically active, though. Of course, the girls will stay in their dance classes, and I'm hoping to get Jack involved in something, too. Maybe karate?


For socialization, of course the Scouts (Daisies, Cubs and Juniors) and athletic pursuits will help fill that void. There are also a number of homeschooling groups in the Hampton Roads area, and I'm planning on contacting the ones that seem like a good fit soon, to find out how and when they meet up, what they do, etc. They'll get plenty of interaction with other people.

Of course, that all takes care of many things, but what about math? Reading and writing? Well, I'm still working on that. If you couldn't tell, I'm definitely not the unschooling type, I don't think.  I mean, some of what we'll be doing IS considered unschooling, but I have a concern about math and language. I need the children to learn those things. I can't have them NOT learn those things. It's important to me that they do, and so they will. I'll make it as fun as possible, without a billion worksheets and with a lot of hands-on manipulation, but they will learn. I'm going to go to the TAPS store and see what resources I can find there, I'm going to see what I can get from Mindware and elsewhere online... I want to make this whole experience as fun and painless as possible for them, but they WILL learn to read, write and do math. I insist upon it!


We're going to learn other things, too. As a family, we're going to tear up our backyard and make it more nature-friendly. Right now, it's a morass and only the dog is really able to use that. I want to change that. I want to rent a rototiller and tear up all the grass and then plant as much of our own local and natural and organic and sustainable food as we can.  And we are FINALLY going to have a compost pile. Or heap. Or whatever you call it. I've been throwing out our compostable food scraps behind the bushes in the front of the house for too long. It's time to change that and make it 'official.' Yay, I can't wait!

We're going to learn new recipes, and spend lots of time in the kitchen. They will become proficient at cooking and baking, and using what's local and at-hand to make a nutritious, wholesome meal. No more Red # 40 dye, no more high fructose corn syrup, no more genetically-modified whoosy-whatsit. We'll can our food and freeze it for later, when there are no crops.

We'll go camping. Fishing. If Rob wants to take them hunting, so be it, but if they want to become semi-vegetarians like their mama, I'll be pleased with that, too. We'll learn how to live a "greener" life. We're going to learn more about conservation and taking care of the planet.

And taking care of each other, too. We're going to learn how to be not only global citizens but community menbers. We'll visit the elderly, bring cookies to the firefighters and police, maybe work in a soup kitchen.

I'm terribly excited. I can't wait to start. Bring on the Sweet Pea Academy!!







Just Another Manic Monday


So, I stayed up all night again last night, Sunday into Monday, so I could work on my coupons, of all things. I haven't opened the paper in three weeks, and since it's almost the end of the month, I needed to work on the database if I was going to have a chance of winning that $25 gift certificate for April! I hope I get it again... it definitely helps!

The plan had been to work on coupons on Sunday and laundry on Monday, but it didn't quite work out that way. Other than taking Sophia to her classmate's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese (deja vu!) on Sunday, I mostly slept. Don't know what's up with that, I've just been so tired. Between that and a wee-hours cup of coffee, I was well primed for another all-nighter. It seems like I do it once or twice a week lately. Sucks, but like Stephanie said, it's better than every night like I used to do!


I spent over an hour on the phone with my dad in the morning, hearing about his and Wife's honeymoon cruise, his first visit with my grandpa since my sister's wedding, his extensive home repair woes, yadda yadda. When he asked me what was new, I hesitantly told him about the kids' ADHD diagnoses and our plans to homeschool next year. He's VERY outspoken and not at all crunchy or anything like that, so I thought he would not approve... but he did and said he was proud of me! I don't live for my dad's praise or anything, but it comes so rarely that I'll take it when I can get it. He was all for the homeschooling thing, which shocked the crap out of me, but especially when I told him it was an alternative to keeping them in school and medicating them.


Around noon or so, I got up (yes, I worked on coupons for, like, 12 hours! But I wasted plenty of that time doing other things, too) to get ready to go to court. Today was my appearance for my naughty doggy's "dog at large" charge from last month, when Tiger Lily escaped the yard and had a nice time roaming the neighborhood until someone called Animal Control. Did I tell you about that? I had planned to fight the fine, since it had never happened before and hopefully won't happen again. She's licensed, microchipped, rabies-vaxed, and we pick up after her when she poops around the neighborhood. In other words, we're pretty responsible pet owners, and I was hoping for leniency based on that fact.

I was nervous. I dressed in a new skirt (I never mentioned that I went on a shopping spree at Old Navy after Sophia's birthday party last weekend. Everything is a size medium! I bought mostly size 14 bottoms, but 12s fit, and I should be down to at least a 10 after my abdominoplasty. And dare I say I could probably have fit into some 'small' tops, too. Exciting!) and tank top with matching sweater. I carefully did my make-up, hair, and put on jewelry. I wanted to look proper and responsible for the court.


At the court, I was chagrined to find I could bring in neither my cell phone nor my knitting. I had to trek back to my van in heels to put all my stuff back. By the time I got back in and found my courtroom - in criminal court, no less! - it was already time to go in. 

The judge was quite stern. When he was first addressing us, the peanut gallery, I was thinking, "Oh, Lordy, I'ma goin' to jail!" And then after the two people stepped up to ask for continuances in their cases, I was the first person called! I tried not to be nervous, but the judge had just yelled at the previous guy for talking too much, and I didn't want to make the same mistake. 

The animal control officer who had captured Tiger Lily and issued my citation, or whatever it is, was there. She stepped up to the bench with me and explained the case. The judge asked me, "How do you plea?" and I said, "Uh... not guilty?" He was not amused. He raised his eyebrows and looked down his nose at me, and then I said, "Your honor, I would like to ask for leniency. This has never happened before or since."  And blah blah blah, I gave the rest of my reasons. He looked at the AC officer, who basically pled my case for me, telling him I had no priors and that I was very cooperative, etc. He asked her if he should give me the benefit of the doubt this time, she nodded, and he spat out, "Your case is dismissed!"

I just stood there for a second and then asked, "Okay... do I just leave now?" "Yep!" replied the judge. I thanked him quietly, nodded at the officer, and high-tailed it out of there with a big grin on my face. It was all I could do not to kick up my heels and whoop out in the hallway!


Once in the car, I called Rob and my dad to share the good news about my dismissal - and, I'd like to add, I wasn't even the one who let the dang dog out in the first place!! I drove home and worked on laundry for an hour or so. I was so caught up with laundry so very recently, that it amazes me how far behind I am on it again already. It's ridiculous, the amount of clothes we go through. I can't stand it! But it's even worse now that I'm both changing over the kids' wardrobes to Spring/Summer and putting away Fall/Winter, as well as getting rid of all my Large/size 18 clothes and putting in all the new stuff I just got. Clothes, clothes, everywhere, and not a stitch to wear! Heh.


Anyway. Rob was supposed to go down to the bus stop to get the kids, but he fell asleep, so I had to race down to the corner at top speed to meet the bus. Just in time! All three kids bounced happily off the bus; they'd had good days. Rare for all three to have one at the same time.

Rob and I canoodled for a little while, while the kids cleaned up their rooms a little bit, and then I finally fell asleep. Just for a couple hours; I woke up just as Rob was taking Jack and Sophie to The Boy's Cub Scout den meeting. Chloë stayed home with me, to work on homework and then study for the Virginia SOL tests coming up next month. We have been really lax about working on that, and now that we're going to homeschool, I care even less... but I would like to see her do well.


When Rob and Crew returned home at 2015, Chloë and I whizzed over to the library. While she studied, I was reading up on homeschooling stuff online. There is just SO much stuff out there, I keep getting overwhelmed. I just don't feel like I know where to start. So I wanted to go check out a few books on the subject, to give me a little more focus. I found one on getting started in homeschooling, though not the one by Rebecca Rupp that I was hoping to find (maybe I'll get that on Amazon if I win that GC?), and another on homeschooling kids with special needs, and a third on what kids should know at each age and stage.

Chloë checked out a few books, too, and then we picked out an audiobook for the kids to listen to whenever there's time. We chose Little House on the Prairie, which I loved to read as a young girl her age. I couldn't find any audiobooks I was interested in there, but I'd like to listen to some while I do my knitting and such. I know I can download more from the library's website, so I'll have a look-see later to see what I can find. Have you ever listened to an audiobook? Do you like it?


Upon our return, I found Rob in the kitchen, cleaning up and cooking dinner. I had thought he'd already fed the kids before Cub Scouts, but apparently not! It smelled wonderful, but it was going to be a while, so I started the kids in on their audiobook. They sat around behind me in chairs and cuddled up on the floor in blankets, listening to the story with various levels of interest. I'm not sure Sophia is into it, but I caught Chloë reading one of the books she checked out when she was supposed to be listening, so... I'm not sure it will hold their interest!

Oh, before I went to the library, I talked a little bit with the kids about homeschooling next year, and what they want to learn. Sophia, no surprise, wants to learn more about birds. I told her I'd send her to her grandma. Next! (I jest.) Chloë wanted to focus on art and music (eek!), and learn more about taking care of animals. Jack wanted to learn about cars and boats. Shocker! That will all be fun; we can definitely do that. I just can't wait!!

I plan to be semi-structured with homeschooling. I want Sophia to learn to read more - she's definitely ready - over the course of the next year, and I want Jack to improve drastically. I will work on all the core subjects, but we will also have things like Field Trip Friday (maybe, I don't want to be too rigid about that), Library Day, etc. 


Also, I want to take a whole different approach to our eating style. I'm all into the environment, and yet I don't practice what I preach where food is concerned. As we use up the stockpile that I developed mostly in February, I want to replace those over-processed, "fakey" foods with natural, sometimes organic (but I'm not a stickler) and definitely local foods. Eating local is very important to me. We'll hit the Farmer's Market as often as we can, getting fresh meats and seafoods, produce - and there's even an organic market there, too. We'll go to the berry fields and pick our own, as well as beans and whatever else I can find. I want to learn to freeze and can our produce, and eat what's in season locally as much as possible. I'm way excited about the prospect. It will not only be great for the environment, but it'll be much better nutrition and might help with the kids' ADHD-whatever thing, as well. And surely, it'll be much more delicious than something out of a box, right?

Rob suddenly remembered that he had to go to work, leaving me to finish dinner while the kids listened to their story. D'oh! He jumped up and left, quick, fast and in a hurry. I miss him already. The kids ate well, and then I sent them off to bed, quite late. Quite late.

I'm all amped up about homeschooling right now. I feel like, with another cup of coffee, I could stay up all night researching it some more! I kid, I kid.


In the morning, Sophia's supposed to stay home with me and then go in at 0900 and register for kindergarten... but guess what? We're going to march in there and inform them of our intent to homeschool, instead! I'm sure they'll be surprised, since I had originally told them it would just be Jack.

This homeschooling thing is going to be So. Much. Fun. I can't wait!





Saturday 9: I Want To Hold Your Hand


I know I'm two days late, but I wanted to take a break from working on my coupons (I'm three weeks behind on them!), and this one looked like fun. Link up with Samantha for more Saturday 9.  

1. What do you notice about other people's hands?

Lots of things, but primarily I notice whether or not they have dry skin. NOT having dry skin is very important to me, so it grosses me out to touch or look at, really, dry skin. (Apologies if you have it, but dang, put on some lotion!)

2. If someone was nosing around your house, what would you hope they wouldn't see?

The mess... but it's kind of unavoidable, unfortunately!

3. Do you think that the more stuff you own enhances your life or adds to your burden?

Definitely BOTH. I actively try to cut down on the stuff that does NOT enhance our lives, but somehow it all seems to sneak back in, doesn't it?

4. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre?

Maybe "Up!" last summer? Oh no, we saw "It's Complicated" more recently than that...

5. What do you have under your bed?

Rob's crap; I have no idea what it all is, and I don't think I want to know!

6. What do you think your s/o or best friend would say about what makes you unique?

Good question, why don't you ask them? I think Rob would probably something dirty, though. (Hahaha, I asked him, and he DID say something dirty. Then he added, "Your silliness.")

7. What's your current favorite TV commercial?

We don't watch TV, so I couldn't tell you.

8. Who do you owe a phone call to?

Bah, that could have been worded a whole lot better! Anyway, my sister, as always.

9. Do you know about my friend's new meme Wednesday Wickedness?

I've heard about it but haven't checked it out yet. Should I?



Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmenting today!

This has been another crazy-busy week, so I'm going to combine my Friday Fragments post with an update of what's been going on and what's to come...

Yesterday, I had to cancel most of my plans, because I had a terrible migraine all day. I slept most of it off, since I hate the way my migraine meds make me feel. Tylenol helped me get through the rest, but it's not enough. Maybe I should go back to the headache clinic and get something else.

Jack had his ultrasound to look for, um, his missing right testis yesterday. His dad picked him from school and took him to that, so I don't kow all the details other than that they found it and it looks like the blood flow to the area is normal. That's the important stuff, anyway, right? So here's to hopefully having healthy grandchildren... in at least 20 years!

I finally got out of the house after school yesterday to take Chloë to her Brownies meeting. It was an extra meeting, to make swaps for the girls' upcoming encampment. They made things like mini (fake) S'mores, camp-in-a-bag, and other cute things. Pretty cool stuff. I was disappointed to learn that one girl who has been in the same troop with Chloë for the past four years is dropping out after this year, to make room for other activities, but this is what happens when kids get older, I guess.

Oh yeah, and Rob took Jack to his Pack meeting last night. He moved up to Tiger level, and got a new patch and pin! I was sorry to miss that, since the Bobcat promotion was so fun. But yay, Jack!

Wednesday was a busy day. I went out to lunch for a mystery shop with Stephanie and her sweet, 6mo baby Luke. I can't believe that cutie is half a year old already! Time sure flies... The food was good, but our server was a dud. I have yet to do that report, oops. They'll probably yell at me for it, but exhaustion and headaches to make for good report-writing. I'll get on that right after this!

After lunch, Steph and I picked up Chloë from school, to take her to her therapy appointment. Then we went home to meet Jack and Sophia coming off the bus, before whisking them off to two hours of dance classes. The kids and I played with little Luke in the car, while his mama caught a wee nap in the backseat. I was glad she did. And finally, we went to Wal-mart afterward to pick up the kids' glasses. All three are wearing them now:


Sophia's are my favorite. She's still learning to keep them on her face and not play with them, so I imagine they may be broken within a week! Hopefully not... but it wouldn't surprise me.

Wednesday morning, I saw my own prescribing doc and asked him whether he does ADHD meds for the kids, since both Jack and Chloë were diagnosed and given Adderall on Monday. After a lengthy conversation about who diagnosed them and how, etc., he scheduled them to come in next week for a much more comprehensive psychological evaluation, in order to more properly diagnose both the ADHD and Jack's apparent ODD. I feel much more comfortable with that plan, although we did start giving the Adderall yesterday morning. Chloë says it helps her, but I'm waiting to see what her teachers say. And Jack's, since I just got a note home about his behavior, for the billionth time this year, on Tuesday.

Oh. So the plan is now that I'm going to be homeschooling both Jack and Chloë next year, while Sophia goes to half-day kindergarten at the school. I'd planned just to start with Jack, but Chloë adamantly insisted on being included in the fun. I made sure that they realized that, though we will do lots of fun things, I will expect hard work out of them, and they agreed readily. Sophia wanted to do it too, but frankly, I'm not comfortable with my ability to get her to read. I'm going to work on it, though, and hey, if she's reading before school starts, then maybe things will change. I started off entirely nervous about the prospect, but now most of those nerves have changed to excitement. We CAN do this, and it'll be great!!

On Tuesday, Rob took the kids to Chloë's ballet class, while I attended the PTA Volunteer Banquet at the school. I did a bunch of volunteer work over the year (and might even do more), but I never log my hours, so I didn't win a volunteer-of-the-month prize or anything. It doesn't bother me - I don't do it for the rewards - but after seeing some of he goodies, I'm thinking maybe I will start logging when I'm in!

Also for the banquet, I wore a dress! I haven't worn a dress in gosh, I don't know how long. It was a black, floor-length, strappy dress. I wore a shawl around it, which Rob said made me entirely too formal for the function, but I didn't care because it covered my bra straps. I can do exposed bra straps with an informal tank top or something, but not dressed up. Tacky! Anyway, a lot of people came up to me and said how good I looked, and how proud they were of me on the weight loss (173 lbs so far). I was a bit overdressed and uncomfortable, but I do think I looked good in the dress, and I will wear it again. Soon. (I should knit myself a little bolero or something, though, because the shawl was a pain in the butt to keep positioned right. Or maybe just get a shawl pin??)

As for today, the plans are: two childcare center mystery shops, a pancake restaurant shop (I'm hoping Rob will go with me, but I may have to go alone if he's tired from working all night), a party store shop, the Parents of Gifted Children workshop at the school, and possibly volunteering at Bingo night at the school. No, movie night. I have it wrong in my calendar; pretty sure it's movie night. I like doing the concessions - the money and popcorn part - so hopefully I can get that job again.

Saturday is going to be crazy, too. First thing in the morning, I'm supposed to be doing a 5K-run/1-mile walk (I'm doing the walk, not ready for the 5K yet) in support of our local Girl Scout council. It's my first-ever such event, and I'm excited about it. Plus, I paid $15 to enter, so I really do want to go.

Unfortunately, just a little while after I'm supposed to be there, Chloë is supposed to be checking in for the Girl Scouts' Powderpuff Derby. Not sure how that is going to work, since we don't have enough carseats for all three kids in both cars. I wanted them to come watch me "race," and I also want to watch Chloë's car race (it's not made yet, or I'd post a picture), so that stinks.

After the races, I'm hoping Rob will take the kids to the craft make-and-take at Michaels. I'd take them, but since I think it's a Mother's Day project, I want to wait and be surprised!  I mean, it really doesn't do to help make your own present, does it?

And then in the afternoon, I'll be going to my first support group meeting for weight loss surgery patients. I have to laugh, because they're holding it at Jason's Deli. I mean, why not have it at the park or somewhere where food isn't the focus? I'll probably just get a drink...

Sunday, we'll have a little bit of deja vu, because Sophia is going to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese for the little girl who came to her birthday party at CEC this past Sunday! And I know, I know, I still haven't posted pictures of that, but I have over 100 to whittle down! Maybe I'll just throw the whole lot up on Facebook and call it a day. Maybe. Did I mention that one of Sophie's teachers came to her birthday party? That was pretty cool; we've never had that happen. She let me take her picture, but she insisted it not show up online anywhere!

I haven't been keeping track of cute kid quotes lately (bad Mama, I know), so that's it for me. Long enough though, isn't it?? Hope you all have a great weekend.


Aloha Friday


Link up with Kailani if you're playing along today!

My question for you this week is:

We're planning to homeschool next year. Do you have any advice for me?

Please don't include advice to talk me out of it. ;) My homeschooling kids will be 7 and 9; the 5yo will start kindergarten at the public school where her siblings now attend... at least, that's the current plan!



...regarding the whole ADHD thing, I forgot to mention: the doctor where Chloë and soon Jack go the therapy is Dr. Charles Parker, a renowned expert in the study of ADHD, medications and children (well, the collision of those three things, I guess), and I am getting a referral to him from Dr. A. I would feel much more comfortable with them in his care, and a therapist in the same office monitoring their behavioral changes and having immediate access to that doctor. Hopefully, Tricare will approve this without a hitch. If not, I'll fight for it!


Decisions, Decisions

Hopefully I will get a post up about Sophia's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese on Sunday, but for this post, I'm going to focus on all three kids' follow-up appointments with Dr. A. this afternoon at the Naval hospital.

Rob and I both went, so that he could corral the children in the waiting room when they weren't being seen in the exam room, while I talked to the young doc.

Sophia's blood pressure was again higher than Jack and Chloë's today, when taken with the automated cuff. After three bouts of pre-eclampsia, I don't put a whole lot of stock in those machines and much prefer a manual reading, so I was glad when Dr A chose to do one, and it came out much lower.

So let's talk about Sophia first. She's fine, fine, fine. Even the higher BP readings were on the high side of normal, which is still normal, so that's good. Her urine and blood test results were in, and the frequent drinking and peeing seems to be a behavior issue - which is not to say that it's a problem for us, because it's not - rather than a medical one. There is no physiological cause for her excessive thirst and urine output. Everything is normal. So, yay. One less worry.

On to Jack.

The screenings that both his teacher and I filled out on him were both very positive for ADHD. Not surprisingly, he was strongly positive for both of us on the "inattention" side of things, but to my surprise, the teacher also rated him strongly for the "hyperactivity" set of questions, as well. So it would appear that he is a classic case of ADHD, and treatment is advised.

Also, based on my answers, the doctor said he has ODD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which can sometimes masquerade as ADHD. You can read more about that at the link, but here's how I think he matches up with the symptoms listed there:

  • Frequent temper tantrums  - Semi
  • Excessive arguing with adults - Often
  • Often questioning rules - Always
  • Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules - Often
  • Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people - Often (his sisters esp.)
  • Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior - Constantly
  • Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others - Always
  • Frequent anger and resentment - Often
  • Mean and hateful talking when upset - Usually
  • Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking - Eh, not sure about that one

Basically, he's not a mean, nasty kid, and I'm not worried him being a socio- or psychopath down the road (although he does frequently wet the bed). I've always just dismissed the above things as being Jack's personality, and we've dealt with it as such. It never occurred to me it might be an actual disorder! Behavioral modification therapy was recommended for this, so I'm going to try to get him in at the same place, if not with the same therapist, where Chloë is going for her "Adjustment Disorder." It will be interesting to see if there is any change in his attitude and behavior.

Which is not to say that he's Oscar the Grouch 100% of the time, either. He can be the sweetest, most loving and affectionate kid out of the three of them, but those moods are few and far between. He can be funny and fun, he can laugh and play, and all of that... but the grouchy grumpies are what I see most of the time. I have always thought of him as our most difficult, challenging child. Hopefully with the appropriate therapies, we can help him become a happier little guy.

Back to the ADHD, which often presents along with ODD and has some of the same symptoms... First, I was very relieved when Dr. A. validated my concerns about medicating him, and also agreed that homeschooling and NOT medicating was a viable, valid option. I am about 98% sure I am going to pull him out of public school and homeschool him for the '10-'11 school year. I haven't looked into it much at ALL yet, so I haven't registered this plan with the city/state/planet or done too much research into what resources we'll use.

It just seems to me that if this is not a medically harmful condition, and that if the medication IS potentially harmful (and I think we can all agree that it is, and there are some scary things out there on the interwebs), then we should consider all available options. It also seems to me that if the reason to medicate is so that he can behave properly in a traditional school environment, then perhaps a traditional school environment is not ideal for my son.

Yes, I am aware that at some point he will need to learn to behave appropriately in a traditional environment. But you know what? He is not out of control, and his behavior is not so 'bad' that we are exasperated parents. The problem, at least with inattentiveness, is at school, much more so than at home. If anything, his ability to sit down and focus on getting his homework done has improved over the months, without medication or any other "treatment" than giving him guided, one-on-one attention. And really, his homework consists entirely of doing worksheets. Honestly, I think in this day and age, we have better educational tools than handing out an endless stack of fecking worksheets. I loathe the worksheets! There has got to be a better way. {End rant.}

This is a child who is frequently taken out to restaurants, and I'm not talking about McDonald's. I'm talking fine dining establishments, occasionally where the other diners and servers are surprised to see a child in attendance. We would not and could not do this if his behaviors (ODD, hyperactivity, etc.) were so severe that I was rushing to the pharmacy for an immediate solution.

I am also aware that ADHD can continue into adulthood. (Exhibit one, his father, who is self-diagnosed as having it.) However, maybe with effective psychotherapy in childhood, he can learn coping skills and mechanisms for getting himself focused and on-track. Maybe not; I don't really know. This is all just one big experiment, isn't it?

However, my number one goal as a parent is to meet my children's needs and do what is best for them. So after reading the above, it may surprise you that I agreed to start him on a trial of Adderall. Originally, the plan was to put him on Concerta, but since he can't swallow pills and Concerta can't be broken open, the doc put him on Adderall instead. Dr. A. described it as the "Coke vs. Pepsi of ADHD medication."

Why did I accept this prescription? I am asking myself that after doing more reading on the 'net. However, he still has to get through the rest of the '09-'10 school year (I am not quite ready to just pull him out and start teaching him TODAY; I feel unprepared at best), and apparently the problem is quite severe. Dr. A was NOT trying to convince me to have him take it; he very much left it up to me to decide. (I told him that I would talk it over with my husband, who was outside in the waiting area with the kids, before filling the prescription. However, Rob didn't question my decision at all, as he often doesn't on these types of matters, and I'm not going to address here whether that fact bothers me at all...)

Hours later, I can't even say for sure what it was that made me say, "Okay, give me the prescription." I was exhausted, for one thing, and for another, I forgot my pen and notebook. I always take notes, but this time I didn't. Couldn't. And yes, I cried. Not really, but the tears definitely welled up in my eyes. I want to do what is best for my child. I want to make the right decisions for him. I want to get him all the help he needs.

Thankfully, there is no reason we could not IMMEDIATELY stop the medication if there were adverse side effects, and those are numerous. Dr. A. said there were no withdrawal symptoms from going off rapidly, although it was not a good idea to go off-and-on, on-and-off, but I have no plans to do so. We will start at the lowest possible dose, and I will email Doc in a week or two to let him know how things are going. We are going to plan the trial for a month and then follow up again with Dr. A.

One side effect almost every child gets is loss of appetite. The plan is to give the kids (plural, since Chloë will be going on it, too, but I'll get to that) a huge breakfast, then give the medicine. I can break up the pill and mix it with applesauce - or ice cream, since they need the fat and calories anyway. We'll plan for a small lunch, and then by the time dinner rolls around, the appetite-supression should have worn off. If not, a small dinner followed by a good snack before bed.

If, after being on the smallest dose, we notice that there are no real side effects, and also it's not doing anything for him/them, we will up the dose to the next level. If at the next dose, the same thing, then we'll go up again. If ever we notice adverse effects, we go back down. If ever there are really bad side effects, and/or the medication just isn't effective, we will stop immediately and be done with it.

I'm VERY nervous about this medication. I can't believe I am about to give psychotropic drugs to my 7- and 8-year-old, teeny-tiny children. If you're the praying sort, maybe you can say one for us. If not, please don't tell me about your second cousin's next-door-neighbor's wife's youngest sister who died after taking one dose. I don't need to hear any more stories like that right now!

On to Chloë.

She is borderline positive for ADHD. Nothing on the hyperactivity side, much more positive on the inattention side. She is a bit of a worrier, a bit anxious, which can also masquerade as ADHD, which brought up the subject of her being in therapy. I apologized to Dr. A. for not bringing it up at her check-up last month, but I'd plum forgotten. After discussing what's going on with her (frequent tantrums and emotionality more suitable to a two-year-old being the salient feature), he agreed that it was appropriate, and he would have referred her for psychotherapy himself. He was glad we took that action.

As for the ADHD, after seeing her scores, he discussed her with the neurodevelopment ADHD specialist on the hospital campus, and Strattera was suggested as the drug of choice. It's less effective, but also less... risky, I guess? It's just LESS, all-around, and is not a stimulant like the other meds. However, since she also cannot take pills and Strattera can't be opened, Doc also suggested the low-dose Adderall. Eek.

I don't know what it is, but I feel somewhat less strongly about NOT medicating Chloë than I do for Jack, even though his problem presents as far more severe. Maybe it's because she's been in school longer, and her teachers (including dance teachers) have been complaining about her lack of ability to focus, etc. since kindergarten, I don't know, but I feel less scared and unsure about the ADD diagnosis and medication where she is concerned. The "what should I do?" conversation with the doc was much shorter than it was concerning Jack, that's for sure. I would have preferred the Strattera, but she just can't swallow the pills yet. So. We will try the Adderall for her, too.

Between the two kids with ADHD, the ODD, and the Adjustment Disorder, I am having another attack of the "where did I go wrong" yucky feelings. Reassurance would be a big help.

And also, between that stuff and the fact that now all three kids need glasses (they're all far-sighted to some degree, like their father, although Chloë's is the most severe. She also has a pretty bad astigmatism thang goin' on), I'm more grateful than ever to have good health insurance. Being in the military isn't SO bad, I guess. ;) I just wish it covered 100% of the braces that all 3 kids will likely need, starting soon with Chloë's orthodontia, too!

Time to hit "publish."



Donations For CARE Package

As most of you know, Rob and I run the charity that we started in our son Robby's memory, called CARE Package, Inc. You can read more about it on that site; I won't go into it here in this post if you're not already aware of what we do.

Anyway, a while back, I received a large box of goodies for CARE Package from "Lady M," a friend who found me on Facebook and has been working diligently ever since to create items for us. She was very generous with her time and sent about a dozen sets, including sweaters, blankets, bonnets and booties! It is always so gratifying to receive such packages, from both strangers and friends/family alike. My mother-in-law has been a supporter of our efforts since we began, and I appreciate each and every stitch that she, Lady M, and our other volunteers create!

Here are a few of the items Lady M sent:


Lady M made several of these blue sets with green blankets to match. I didn't photograph them on the blankets because they just didn't show up in the pictures as well as in real life. I'm so thankful for these, because we receive many more girl items than boys', and unfortunately, the majority of losses are little boys. These will definitely help!

Lady M made several of these sets, too - do you think they are unisex? I always have a hard time deciding. I think they are, but you let me know what you think, please! At any rate, they are so soft and cuddly!


We also received one of these "pouches," which are perfect for the smallest and/or most fragile babies who can't be traditionally dressed. I never get enough of these.


Lady M even sent me six cameras for some of the packages! It has always been my desire to include such a camera in each package (I wish we'd had one with Robby), so the parents can capture their final moments with their child, if they wish. I wrote to both Fuji and Kodak requesting donations, but sadly, both companies turned me down. 

Thank you, Lady M, for all your kind and generous donations! We look forward to receiving more work from you in the future and are happy to have you with us!


I never showed you, here, the latest sweater I have made for CARE Package, myself. I intend it for a boy, although I suppose there's no reason it can't be unisex thus far. Hopefully the rest of the package will make it more so:

These are the original buttons I chose for the sweater, but Stephanie, my Official Button Chooser, vetoed them. I still like them, but I defer to her!

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Steph still hasn't seen the buttons in person to make a final decision, but this is the set she chose - and most others did, too - based on a survey of buttons I posted on Facebook. What do you think; are these better?  Hopefully I'll remember to bring all the buttons with me to our lunch date on Wednesday, so I can get them sewn on and the next project begun! Oh, who am I kidding, the next project doesn't have to wait 'til then...

Until later, my dears,


And Baby Makes Five

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Well, it's official! Our baby girl, Sophia Lorelei, is FIVE YEARS OLD! (Yes, she is purposely crossing her eyes in this picture; she always does that...)

This past Tuesday was her birthday, and she was so excited! She was in such a good mood.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take her picture in the morning wearing her new "Birthday Girl" shirt from Carter's, or Chloë wearing her matching "Big Sister" shirt. Sophia stained her shirt with strawberries later in the day, so she took it off and changed before I was able to get a good picture.

And... I didn't bring the camera to school when I delivered her cupcakes and helped her have a lttle party there, because of course I was told that no pictures were allowed. But then, her teachers told me that I could have brought it and just taken pictures of her! D'oh! So that was mildly annoying.

The class party was fun. The little ones are just so adorable. My favorite ages are pre-K through 2nd grade or so; the younger the better. I just love the way they behave, the questions they ask, all the funny things they say.

When I arrived, Sophia and her peers were sitting at their respective tables,eating lunch. They were all so excited to have the cupcakes I brought, but none more so than Soapy. She was an eager little beaver! She kept trying to rush everyone, cleaning up while they were still eating, sitting in the "birthday chair" before it was time, and so on. Mrs. P and Mrs. S kept telling her to be slow down and be patient, but she couldn't help it. She was so happy it was her birthday!

After everyone ate and washed their hands, Sophia stood on the birthday chair and looked around proudly, with a big grin on her face, as everyone sang "Happy Birthday" and "How Old Are You Now" to her. After each line, she held up her hand and shouted, "FIVE!" Then she helped me pass out the cupcakes, although at first, she just took one and started to eat it before anyone else got theirs. Too funny!

After they ate, the teachers wanted them to burn off some of that extra sugar, so we all walked out to the back field behind the preschool portable and watch the kids race back and forth, back and forth to the big tree at the far end. Some pooped out and flopped on the ground, but Sophia kept charging ahead. I think she will be a runner when she's older. She loves to run. Loves it. (She gets that from her Daddy, not me!)

We went back inside after that, and I said my goodbye's to Soap and the children. Everyone shouted out, "Thank you for the cupcakes!" They are a sweet, polite little bunch. Such dears! ♥

I didn't do much after that besides nap until the kids came home from school. At that time, Sophia came charging off the bus and begged to open her presents immediately! I told her we had to wait for Daddy, but she was terribly impatient. She played with the balloons I'd brought to her at school - and brought home again, so she wouldn't have to carry them on the bus - while she waited. There was one with her name on it, a Barbie one, and an Ariel one. Her favorite things.

Daddy came home soon. While we were standing there in the kitchen, smooching our hellos, Jack took a sharpened pencil to her "Sophia" balloon and popped in, for no reason other than he was jealous of them. Naughty boy!! He was sent straight to his room for that. The kids know they aren't allowed to come down until they are ready to apologize and mean it, so he was quite sheepish and sorry when he eventually returned. Poor Soph, though; she had a good cry over that one!

He took the kids to dance class while I napped, I think. (I have been plagued with migraines lately, and dizziness and excessive tiredness, so I'm not sure what's going on. I've been taking my iron religiously, so I should probably call someone and find out the deal!)

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The kids gathered in the living room to open Sophia's presents. They were all lovey-dovey huggy-poo then, maybe because they actually love their little sister and were happy it was her birthday, or maybe because they wanted her to share her presents with them! Either way, it was nice, and I'll take that over the constant quarreling any day of the week.

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The first present she wanted to open was the package from Grandma, because "It's pretty and pink, isn't it, Mama?" The kids love the special envelopes Grandma chooses for their packages. (You can see Jack spazzing out over presents in the background, there!)

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They all took their time looking through all the new titles that Grandma had sent, and Chloë was excited to see more Fancy Nancy in the group. Sophia offered to give them to her, but we wouldn't let her take them! So Chlo promised to read all Sophie's new books to her later. And she did, on Saturday when we finally had a chance to sit and relax. Cute stuff, that sibling reading thing.

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Aunt Stacey sent the other package that Sophia had to open on her birthday. (She's already opened her presents from us before then, remember? The Barbie & car, and the Princess and Frog movie.) Apparently the kids' cousin Hanna picked out the presents that Sophia HAD to have, this year.

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Aunt Stacey sent a package of Shrinky Dinks...but I'm not sure what the kids did with it, now! I was telling the kids about Shrinky Dinks the other day, right before Sophie's birthday, and I wanted to show them how they worked the following day. Hopefully Sophia hasn't opened the box and lost all the pieces, because I was looking forward to doing this with the kids. :(

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Silly girl. I think this is the one that Hanna picked out. After opening it, Sophia immediately took it into the office, where all crafting seems to take place, to rip it open and get started making the critters.

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Of course, she had to make the piggy first, because it's PINK. Both she and Chloë love pink and purple best. Girly, much? (Jack's favorite color is green, like his mama, in case you were wondering...)

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Jack joined his big little sister at crafting the clay critters in the office. They played together so sweetly. It was a nice moment, for me. I got the warm fuzzies that my therapist ordered me to get every single day, from watching them. And does Sophia not have the most luscious lips? They go with her sweet, fine tushy.

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More of the blonde babies' creations. Cute, right?

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Making a creature together. Jack kept insisting, "You have to make it like the picture on the box. That's the rules."

After that, we went out and did a dinner mystery shop, at a nice restaurant around the corner. I purposely scheduled it for Sophia's birthday, so she could go out on the town on her big day. I let her choose whatever she wanted off the menu, to share with Big Sis and me - but when it came, she turned down her nose at all the tomatoes on the pizza and insisted on having some of Dad and Jack's burger instead. (Yes, Rob is back on the beef. Ugh.) They wanted dessert, but we had it waiting at home. 

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I was thisclose to talking Sophia into buying an ice cream cake for her birthday cake (hello, YUM), but then she saw the cherries on this coconut cake and insisted that was the one! She picked out the Ariel candle, too. The others were in the 'candle drawer,' and she wanted all of them on top of her little cake. Hee. This is SO Sophie, right here!

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She was thrilled when we were singing "Happy Birthday" to her, at the sight of her "pretty" cake. I had warned my eager little girl NOT to blow out the candles until AFTER we were done singing AND she had made a birthday wish. She was patient and did as she was told. Holy cow; this kid NEVER listens!

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Make a wish, darling! Afterward, she told us that she wished for a Barbie car. Silly! She'd just gotten one the night before. Oh well, when you wish for something you already have, you're guaranteed satisfaction, right? She definitely seemed happy with her wish, like she hadn't wasted it at all. This is one happy kid. I love her to pieces!

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All three of the kids wanted the cherries. At first, Sophia said she was going to eat three, and Chloë could have the other three; poor Jack had a fit about that! In the end, I think she had three or four, and Chloë, Jack and Daddy all had one. But who cares? The point is, she got her cake and ate her cherries, too. Next year, I think I'm just going to buy her a jar of cherries and go crazy making her a cherry cake!

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And this was the not-so-pleased reaction to the rest of the coconut cake. ha! None of the kids, nor Rob, liked it, and of course, I didn't eat any. We threw the ENTIRE cake away, except for the cherries. FAIL! But she didn't care, really. She just wanted those little red fruits. I'm glad the cake wasn't EIGHT DOLLARS. Oh, wait. It was. Booo!

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Chloë, complete with monkey sticker on her nose, gamely tried to enjoy the unenjoyable cake. Alas, she left hers mostly untouched, too.

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Jack didn't like it either.

Ah, well. Aside from the cake and her PITA big brother popping her balloon, I think Sophia had a great fifth birthday. In a few hours, we'll go to Chuck E. Cheese for her party. Only our kids and two from school are confirmed, but I'm hoping more show up than that. Five will be plenty, I guess, if that's all there is. Oh, and one of her teachers is coming, too!

Happy birthday, darling Sophie!



Sunday Stealing: The Meme Time Meme

Click here for more Sunday Stealing!

01. Real First Name: Melanie

02. Birthday: 9.8.76 - really!

03. Where do you live? Virginia
04: What are you working as?
Mostly, I'm a stay-home mom. I also sub-teach on occasion, and I run our charity, CARE Package, Inc.

05. What makes you happy? I'm happy when the people I love are happy. I'm happy when I'm at the beach, and the waves are high - but not too high - and the sun is beating down hard - but not too hard. Perfect.

06. What are you listening to now/have listened to last? Myself, singing "When We're Human" from The Princess and The Frog

07. What is particularly good/bad about your blog? Well, I've been told that my blog is boring and insipid by one cranky lady. haha!  But, this blahg was never intended for entertainment and amusement. It was simply started to keep our far-flung family and friends apprised of our family's doings as the children grow up.  And I think we're doing that, at least when I'm not being neglectful like I have been lately!

08. An interesting fact about you: I like to stick a pen cap in my ear and tickle the inside, and then scratch it. Weird and a little gross, I know.

09. Are you in love at the moment? I am madly in love with my husband, Rob!

10. Favorite place to be: Anywhere with Rob & the kiddos, as long as it's warm!

11. Favorite lyric: Pass. I can't pick those kinds of favorites.

12. Best time of the year: Summer. I LOVE SUMMER!!!
13. Weirdest food you like: Hmm... I don't know that I like anything weird. I absolutely adore hummus.


01. A film: The Princess and the Frog

02. A book: Anything by Jodi Picoult (thanks for sending her my way, Mom!)
03. A song: "When We're Human," sung by Louis the alligator, Prince Naveen, and Tiana, is my current obsession.
04: A band: Vampire Weekend


01. One thing you like about a blogger that you have not met
: Gloria and I are so much alike. She's like the Spanish-speaking version of me! (Oh, wait, that comes off sounding kind of arrogant. I didn't mean it like that, just that I love her bubbly, fun personality and we get along so well!)

02. Two things you like about yourself: My spontaneity and my eyes

03. Name three things that you need in a lover: A sense of humor, high intelligence, and a sense of adventure!

Have a great week, y'all Stealers!


Saturday 9: Kicks (Keep Getting Harder To Find)


Link up with Samantha if you're playing along today!

1. As you get older, do you find that kicks are harder to find?

No way! They are different kicks than they used to be, but I still get a lot of 'em.

2. Who is your favorite relative and why?

Besides my husband and kids? Definitely my sister. We've been through a lot together, and at this time in our lives, we are very close. We always have been, though. I ♥ her!!

3. Who is the most important person in your life?

My husband. I don't know how I could live without him.

4. Name one thing you used to do that you are not proud of.

Um... Heh. It always seems to come back to this on this meme for me, doesn't it? How can I put this delicately? Let's see... I did not wear a chastity belt in college. There, that does it. ;)

5. Tell us about the furthest you've ever been from what you consider "home".

Well, in June/July of 2008, Rob and I took a European cruise for two weeks. That was pretty far. You can read about that here. Also, we moved from Florida to Guam for four months in 2002/2003, and then back here to Virginia.

6. Who would you want to be locked in a room with for 24 hours?

My mother, but that's impossible...

7. What are you doing this weekend?

Well, we were supposed to go to the International Children's Festival up in Hampton all day today, but I pretty much fell in an exhausted heap on the couch for the entire day, so we missed it. The rest of my family went to church tonight without me, because I was still asleep... Tomorrow, we are having Sophia's 5th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. that's about it, I guess!

8. Other than your own, whose car were you in last?

I guess Rob's. I'm almost never in someone else's car!

9. Tell us about the last compliment that you've received.

Just a few moments ago, I posted this picture on Facebook and was called a "hot mama" - but I disagree, the picture is terrible and makes me look fatter than I am, because the dress is really huge on me now (I'm selling it):



When We're Human

Ah, there we go. It's taken me 20 minutes to be able to post UNDER the video, and have it at the top! Anyway, that's what I've been singing at the top of my lungs for the past two days, ever since watching The Princess and The Frog. I LOVE it!! I had been considering auditioning for a woman's chorale here in town, even though I'm skeered to death of auditioning... until I realized there just wouldn't be time for it in our schedule right now. So I'll just have to content myself with singing at home, for my own benefit. I'll probably save a few dozen pairs of ears that way, at least.


So imagine these boobies all deflated, with nothing but the empty skin, and then you pretty much have what I'm staring down at right now. Sad and gross, right? That's my next project, after I get my abdominoplasty. Hopefully next year, unless any of you want to buy me new mams!  


Anyway. Sunday was a pretty great day. Rob took the kiddos to church in the morning, while I stayed home to continue nursing my horrible migraine. It really sucks now, because there is not too much I can take (no NSAIDS), and I can't go too crazy on the Tylenol, either, because I get rebound headaches. So I was popping them one at a time, every 8 hours or so. Not too effective, and I can feel another one coming on right now. Suckage, especially since I really wanted to go to church. A new series is starting on various world religions (or as I jokingly called it, "International Jesuses," which both shocked and amused my husband, and it promises to be interesting. I keep forgetting to ask Rob how this first one went, though, so I dunno.


When they came home, we quickly got ready to go out for a mystery shop at one of the local Tex Mex places. I think Rob likes it even better than Moe's (Welcome to Moe's!), but maybe that's just because we haven't been there in a while. Jack whined all the way there that he doesn't like that place, and he didn't want to eat, and wah wah wah. I secretly ordered him a nothing-but-chicken burrito anyway, and when I put it in front of him, he said nothing. Just ate it until he was full. Maybe that's the trick, just ignore him and leave it in front of him? Well, we have tried that with varying success over the years, and I guess this was just our lucky day. 


It was such a beautiful day out when we came home from lunch, I wanted to get outside and do some exercisin'. I haven't felt much like running since my post about it a week ago, but suddenly I wanted to go even faster and get my wheels down from the closet where they've been in hiding for the last, oh, 5 or 7 years. I used to rollerblade everywhere when I was in college, so I was pretty good at it, but it's been sooo long... so Rob was bemused when I said that not only did I want to go out, I wanted to take the dog with me, too!

Our dog is notoriously not good on a leash. She's used to just being let out in the backyard to roam to go potty, and we haven't walked her on a leash anywhere near as much as we ought. 

So on second thought, the whole family went across the street with me to the lake, and Rob walked Tiger Lily while I got my skating legs back. I did about four laps around the lake, with my iPod on full blast to the tunes of Fergie and the rest of the Peas, before finally taking the reigns leash from Rob.  The old girl didn't do too badly! She slowed me down, but I kept her running, and she kept going and didn't stop to smell every other blade of grass. Once around the lake with her was enough, though. I passed her back to her daddy and did several more laps around, until I had the fire in my lungs and the weakness in my ankles. I was thoroughly exhausted, and it felt great! I really pushed myself, and I plan to do it again soon, too.


After we showered and got ready to go (for everyone was hot and sweaty; they'd all done numerous passes around the lake, too), we had another mystery shop for dinner. This time, it was at a local upscale Italian eatery that we've been to many times for dates. I didn't want to pay a babysitter - short fundage right now - so we took the kids along and made them behave their best. They did okay, but they kept wanting to lie down on the benches, and Sophie's dres was too short. Her undies kept showing! So that's the end of that dress. She's going through clothes SO fast right now... but I digress. Dinner was excellent, although I had to run and puke mine up in the fancy bathroom! Sometimes things still just don't sit right in the ol' pouch. The kids wanted strawberries for dessert, so I ordered this zabaglione, and they absolutely devoured it. You can't tell from the iPhone pic, but it was lovely! Before the forks attacked, anyway...

And that was the very end of Spring Break. The kids got a bath and went to bed, and it was back to school this Monday morning.


I had fallen asleep early, but I woke up around midnight and stayed up past 0200 to book Sophia's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I tried like hell to talk her into going to the bouncy place, Kangaroo Jac's, instead, but no, she insisted on the giant mouse. And I promised her a party if she behaved better lately, and she really has. You only turn five once, after all! Five is big. BIG! I'm dying that she's five...

So then I had to make the invitations for all her school friends, because the party is this coming Sunday afternoon. I haven't heard from anyone yet, so I am hoping that they will RSVP. I booked for 12, but I can change the number up to 24 hours in advance. I know three will be there, for sure, right?

In the end, though, I found those invites still sitting on my desk after I put the kids on the bus this morning. Doh! Shoulda put them on the kitchen table.


The first thing I did was finish my reports for the previous day's lunch and dinner shops, and then I had to head out and do a coffeeshop one. Everything was great about the shop - except for the coffee. It was bland as anything, tasted just like hot water. I really needed the caffeine, too, but I ended up tossing out my cup halfway through. Bah!

On the way back, I stopped at Sophia's school to give the invitations to her teachers. They asked me if I was going to come in on Tuesday (now, her fifth birthday), and do something, since I still owed one more hour of service to the preschool. (Everyone is required to fulfill 10 hours by the end of this month.) I was planning to come in anyway, with cupcakes, but I didn't know it would count as my hour! So that was cool. We set it up.


After that, I had to go home and read up on my next shop, a new one for a paper company around the corner. It was a lot of work, a lot of details, so I hope I did all right. Haven't heard back from them yet... But I did manage to get a lot of good papers, some for CARE Package work, that will all be reimbursed. I love papers! Too bad it wasn't a scrapbooking store...


Back at home again, I'd planned to get my reports done right away for the coffee and paper shops, but I suddenly felt completely exhausted. I still had a few hours before the kids came home, or two at least, so I hoped to get a quick power nap in and then get back to work. Ho, ho, ho, there is no such thing as a power nap in the Land of Mel. I napped right up until I had to run to the bus stop to get the kids. Hate that! I had/have too much to do for naps! I wish I could never sleep, just stay up all the time... but sleep is pretty awesome. Waking up sucks, though, doesn't it?! I'm always disoriented and... babbling, that's what I'm doing here.


Sophia's long-hoped-for present arrived today, and it was on the porch when she came home from the bus. I opene the box to make sure of what it was, but I warned her not to look in it. Well, that was stupid, wasn't it? The first thing she did was look in it when I wasn't watching. She said she didn't, but then she was downstairs playing and talking to herself, and I heard her say something about, "I know I didn't get a Barbie for my birthday." Ha! She always rats herself out that way. So I figured, what the hell, now's as good a time as any! She didn't know about the CAR in the box with Barbie, which was what she really wanted, so it would still be a surprise. And it was, and she was thrilled, and yay!


Later, both sisters had their Barbies - after a long time of driving them around in Barbie's new car, which even Jack has been playing with because, of course, it has wheels - doing backbends on the dog's dirty-hairy-gross sleeping mat by the dirty-muddy-gross back doors. But don't look at that. Instead, look at the sisters playing sweetly together. See? They DO love each other! 


  I had to duck out for yet another mystery shop, this time at a far-away party store in Norfolk. I was given a "hero" citation for doing this shop, which is the only reason I went. I'm such a hero. But also, I wanted to bring balloons to school with tomorrow's cupcakes - the teachers said it was okay - and get Soapy an "I'm 5!" pin to wear on her birthday shirt, and this way, it was all free. I did the shop and collected my balloons, and then I snuck them into the coat closet when Soap wasn't looking. Hopefully I won't forget them when the time comes, tomorrow!


Rob was getting The Boy ready for his weekly Tiger Scout meeting when I got home, so it was just the girls and me. I don't know what they worked on tonight, but here he is looking pretty handsome in his uniform and leading the Tigers in the Cub Scout Promise. But oops, I just noticed all his beads are missing...

The girls and I had to run to the grocery store while they menfolk were gone. Farm Fresh is doing Double Dollar coupons all WEEK, and I have tons of coupons that give us free yogurt, so I've been way stocking up. So much so that when I sent Rob out for more later in the evening, I had to Freecycle it. We just don't have the room for more, and it apparently doesn't freeze well. Eat up, kids!


I also had to buy cupcakes, since they can't be homemade at the preschool "for my protection," and then while we were at the bakery, Sophia spotted a coconut cake with six cherries on top. My girl LOVES cherries, so she insisted that she wanted THAT cake and that she was going to eat ALL the cherries. Chloë kept pouting and saying that wasn't fair, and though I kept reminding her that it wasn't her birthday, her occasionally-benevolent baby sister decided that, okay, she would eat three and Chloë could eat the other three. And when they shared this news later with Jack, he declared it wasn't fair to him, either. Maybe I should just go buy a jar of cherries and cover the whole damn cake with them?!


Also, we bought some Almond Milk, since I had two $1 coupons for those, making them just 99¢ each. None of us had ever had almond milk before, but we were eager to try it. We opened the vanilla one as soon as we got home, and it was SO good! The kids must have had four glasses of it each, and I had a couple swigs myself. Good stuff! Have you had it? Do you like it?



I'd picked up some challah from the "Oops, We Baked Too Much" shelf at the store, and a couple dozen eggs, so I decided at the last minute that instead of leftovers, I was going to cook up some French toast for dinner. I had a few bites, so I knew that it turned out mmm, mmmm good. So good. Even without syrup, it was sweet and tasty and flavorful. I wish I could have eaten more, but then I would seriously have been in Dump City. And so I ate turkey and watched everyone else with their yummy breakfasty dinner.

So now it's 0100 and I really need to get into bed. I have a million things that I really MUST do, but staying up all night again just isn't an option. I guess I'll make some coffee in the morning and get right into things. At least I don't have to bake cupcakes. So have a good night, and I'll tell you all about Sophia's birthday on the morrow.




Eyes Wide Open

Well, that was an interesting visit with my dad and wife #5, as always.

As for her, I am not impressed. I don't want to dog the poor woman out on here, but let's just say my shoe has more personality.

As for him, well. There have been a couple of occasions in the past where I was tempted to completely disown him and cut him out of my life, but something keeps holding me back. Is it that I just don't want to be parentless? Maybe. Is it that I still sense that somewhere in there, deep down, is some semblance of a decent human being? Maybe, but as he approaches 70, it's becoming less likely.

He better hope he's married to someone if and when he's too old to take care of himself anymore, because neither my sister nor I are likely to do it. In contrast, I'd cut off my left ear to have my grandfather come live with us!

There are some areas - most, actually - in which I would never model myself after my father:

#1: Relationships. I mean, c'mon, the man is on his fifth marriage, and he's not even rich or famous! (hee) Three of those (so far...) ended in divorce, and no doubt my mother would have left him, too, if she'd lived long enough.

#2: Parenting. After spending half a day with my kids, who were excited to see him and so therefore a little more wound-up than usual, his advice was to smack them around now and then. Really? This is your advice, all these years after your 16-year-old daughter became emancipated when you beat the shit out of her for the umpteenth time?

Sorry Dad, I told him, but spanking is just plain stupid. How do we teach our children not to hit each other if we're hitting them ourselves? Not to mention that it's pretty ineffective. No, hitting children is the realm of the unintelligent and unimaginitive parent.

He replied that yes, this is the current conventional wisdom. No, sir, it's MY own thinking. Yup, I do that now. Imagine that.

#3-through-infinity: everything else. He's just such... a dick!! He really is. He walks into our house, without knocking, like he owns the place, and begins making demands like a child. He expects everyone to drop everything and cater to his and his wife's needs, including sheltering his three possibly flea-ridden dogs for the duration of their visit. Three extremely spoiled and ill-mannered dogs, that is. My husband was floored when one of the dogs was found on top of the kitchen table, eating the leftovers we hadn't put away yet. Hey, dog, I was planning on eating that chicken later, y'know!

I asked him a question about movie stars, and it turned into this vitriolic political diatribe. Ugh!! I absolutely abhor talking about politics with anyone, but especially him, because he is so caustic and nasty about it. (Most of the people who ascribe to his particular beliefs on the subject seem to be, I've noticed, but not nearly so much as him.) He wasn't amused when I pointed out that most people in academia lean much more to the left. *ahem* But I was!

So, I could turn this into a huge, long mega-rant, and it might or might not be a very interesting read, but it's already 0200 and I have had a headache for most of the day. Do I really want to give myself a worse one when I need to go to sleep soon? No, I thought not.


Other than the stuff that drove me continually nuts (at least he knows better than to use the "n" word in my presence, since the last time when I stopped the car and threatened to kick him out), here are the highlights of his visit:

Dinner at Yukon Steakhouse Thursday night, which was abysmal. The company wasn't terrible, actually, but the service, the food, and the prices (!!!) were. I will never, EVER go back to that place, even if they offer us a free meal every month after I write to them.

Friday, the one full day Dad and Wife were here, we started off by driving down near Pungo to look at horse farms. Wife is a huge fan of horses. We were going to drive down to the beach and walk around, but the weather wasn't nice, so we just stopped at their hotel down there and had a potty break. Then Dad needed a kid break, so we went to LH Mall to let the kids run around in the play place while D&W did some window-shopping. (Before they left, and after they returned, he kept stopping at every other store window to ask Wife if she liked this much-too-young outfit or not. It was a little entertaining and a lot sad. I mean, she's got a 21yo grandchild, FPS!)  They took forever and a day to return, so the kids got hungry for lunch. I took them to Subway at the other end of the mall, and we came back to the play area, split the footlong four ways (with some left over), cleaned up, used the restroom, and still no sign of them. I was beginning to get irritated, but they finally showed.

We went home after that, and though it was not even 1600, I started dinner. Wife doesn't eat lunch and therefore requires a very early dinner, and apparently the whole world is supposed to bend to this crazy schedule. Whatever. I'd had the forethought to throw some chicken in the crockpot before we left in the morning, so between that and some quick pasta and sauce, dinner was a piece of cake. I'd baked cookies the afternoon before they arrived, so that was dessert. Everyone seemed satisfied, and no one cared that I hadn't prepared a fabulous gourmet meal, so that was a relief. I'm always nervous about feeding guests, thanks to my stepmother making me batshit crazy about cooking. Heh.

After dinner, we watched a western romance movie starring Katherine Heigl, which was the latest Netflix movie for my dad. They brought it up from home. The kids were bored to tears with it, but I was glued to the screen when I wasn't busy crocheting. (I'm thisclose to finishing that project and meant to do it today, but I couldn't do a thing with this migraine.) Anyway, it was called Love Comes Softly, and it was pretty good. I enjoyed it. Except for a scene near the beginning that proved it was clearly NOT the "kid-friendly movie" my father had proclaimed it to be. Argh, again!!

When the movie ended, they left with Jack for the night. He was terribly excited. I whispered all the "rules" of behavior to him, and he solemnly nodded his head in agreement before taking off, hand-in-hand, with his Grandpa. No way in hell I'd send one of my daughters for the night with him, but he - and they - don't know it yet. I felt Jack was safe enough for one night away with him, when it was only a 20-minute drive down the road. And I knew that on his own, Jack would behave well enough not to risk getting a spanking. Or worse.

And so they left. In Jack's absence, we gave Sophia an early birthday present (she turns five on Tuesday): the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack of The Princess and The Frog. I'd gotten it for FREE on after cashing in for all those gift cards lately. Great movie; I really loved it both times that we've watched it so far, and I have several songs in my head from the movie. All at once. I can't wait to watch it again! The girls loved it, too.

I was going to finish my crocheting during that movie, but instead I had myself a little sobfest. It was the 26th anniversary of my mom's death, and though that might seem like a ridiculously long time to still be crying, the pain is fresh. I suspect it always will be. My sister cried too, she said, and I know her pain is the same as mine.

So on Saturday morning, we awoke early to the three dogs barking (bah!) and Rob leaving for work. I hate it when he works on the weekend... We were just getting out to take the dogs for a walk around the lake when Dad returned with Wife and Jack. Everyone but Wife went for the walk with the dogs, and then they packed up and left for home. I did not feel one pang of sadness or disappointment at their departure, which is quite the opposite feeling I get when, say, my sister leaves. Or I leave her. I remember crying my eyes out when we visited last August!

Well, I've probably said enough and then some. Hope y'all have a good week, and I'll be back again soon enough with tales of hijinks from my naughty kids in need of spanking. Wink, wink.



Sunday Stealing: The Me Me Meme

Click here for more Sunday Stealing!

1. Never in my life have I been: more content than right now.

2. The one person who can drive me nuts is:  my father!
3. High school was: okay, but too long ago to worry about now.

4. When I’m nervous I: blush furiously.

5. The last song I listened to was: Rob singing, "On The Bayou."

6. If I were to get married right now my best man/maid of honor: Not Applicable - I'd elope all over again!
7. My hair is: too long. I'm counting down the days 'til next weekend's hair cut.

8. When I was 5: my mom was still alive, so I must have been pretty happy still.

9. Last Christmas: was marked by our lack of consumerism. Pretty great.

10. I should be..: drinking a protein shake instead of eating Nut Clusters.

11. When I look down I see: my iPhone, always at the ready!

12. The happiest recent event was: playing Laser Tag for Jack's birthday, I guess.

13. If I were a character on 'Friends' I would be: either Phoebe's equally-zany cousin, or Monica's equally-neurotic one!

14. By this time next year: I'll be at my goal weight.

15. My current gripe is: my dad's a-holey ways.

16. I have a hard time understanding: see #15.

17. There’s this girl I know that:  pass. I can't think of anything!

18. If I won an award, the first person I would tell would be: my husband, naturally.
19. Take my advice: If your daughter is starting to sprout boobs, she's probably too old to be in the children's playplace at the mall. Also, get her a bra.

20. The thing I want to buy: is a Hoover Floormate, so I can stop wasting money on Swiffer refills!

21. If you visited the place I was born: then tell me about it, because I don't remember it.

22. I plan to visit: Australia, if it's the last thing I do...
23. If you spent the night at my house: You'd be wondering why we have 8,000 storage bins everywhere.

24. I’d stop my wedding if: I just can't think of any reason to stop my wedding, since there's no reason I wouldn't want to marry Rob again and again and again.

25. The world could do without: the Extreme Right.
26. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: discuss politics with my father again.
27. Most recent thing I’ve bought myself: was a $5-footlong to share with my three kids. And we had leftovers!
28. Most recent thing someone else bought me: was probably some fluid or other that Hubs put in my van.

29. My favorite blonde is: a tie between Sophia and Jack, my babies! ♥

30. My favorite brunette is: Chloë, my third wee darlin'. ♥

31. My favorite red head is: my niece, Hanna-Banana.

32. My middle name is: boring ol' Ann.

33. In the morning I: wish like hell I could be a morning person.

34. The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are: people! I would give anything to fly.

35. Once, at a bar: I threw up after the bartender bought us girls a round of tequila shots. Good times.

36. Last night I was: missing my little boy, who was spending the night with Grandpa in his hotel room.

37. There’s this guy I know who: eh, pass again.

38. If I was an animal I’d be: a butterfly.

39. A better name for me would be: Melanie Penelope. It's more fun to say than Melanie Ann.

40. Tomorrow I am: Going to church, doing mystery shops for both lunch and dinner, and, hopefully, taking Jack to his Cub Scouts street clean-up event.

41. Tonight I am: tired and headachy.

42. My birthday is: the day after my daughter's, which is kind of cool. Right now, it means a lot to her.

42 is  weird number to end on, isn't it?


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

I'm a little burnt out on deal-shopping, after going so gung-ho-crazy on it for the first three months of the year. I used to read the deal blogs all day, every day when I wasn't off doing something else, and now I go a few days or more between checking them, because it's just TOO many good deals! I've missed out on some good things, but oh, well - another one is right around the corner. I am, however, keeping up on the Deal Seeking Mom's coupon database, because I've won her $25 gift certificate for the past three months in a row for doing so!! (Just got my third one yesterday, so I'm psyched!)

We went out to dinner tonight with my dad and his wife #5. I don't think it's just because we've eaten at so many exceptional places with my mystery shopping "career", but this place was absolutely abyssmal, especially for the crazy price we (yes we, Dad didn't help) paid for the meal. I'll probably write a restaurant review later, because it was so bad, and I want to spare any of you locals from going there. Although, Steph, I think you actually like the place, but for the life of me, I can't fathom why!

Speaking of wife #5, O - M - G. She is dreadfully and painfully devoid of all traces of a personality. She doesn't make eye contact and barely speaks a word. She just looks down and sits there, saying nothing. I can't understand WHAT my father sees in this woman, except that she is thin, which is and has always been his number-one criterion in the perfect woman. (Which is funny because at least two of his wives, including my mother, God rest her soul, were definitely not thin.) I can't stand her; she makes absolutely zero effort to converse, get to know you, establish a rapport, etc. I doubt this relationship will last long; if they hit their one-year anniversary together, it'll be nothing short of a miracle. And if, when they get back home after leaving Saturday morning, he asks me what I thought of her, I'll have no choice but to say, "Well... she's really thin!"

So I took Chloë to her first talk therapy appointment on Wednesday afternoon. For one thing, she (the therapist, "L") agreed that Chloë was definitely hitting on a lot of the characteristics of ADHD, just from sitting there watching her. Also, she told me that the doctor in the office (Dr. Charles Parker, if you're of a mind to look him up; "L" is an LCSW) is a nationally-recognized specialist in child-ADHD, and she recommended getting the kids' pediatrician to refer Jack and Chloë to him, and put Jack in her (L's) care as well, so she can closely monitor their behavioral responses to medication, if we go that route. I'll talk to Rob, but I think that's a good idea.

As far as the therapist, she agrees it's appropriate for Chloë to be in therapy and thinks she can help her with the emotional issues she's been experiencing. Her initial diagnosis is the very broad "adjustment disorder," but that's mainly for insurance purposes. I sat in on the entire first session to give Chloë's history, reasons why we thought she needed to be there, goals for therapy, and so forth. For the next few sessions, Chlo will go in by herself and engage in various forms of play therapy, and then I'll be brought in once again to re-evaluate things. For Chloë's part, the only problem she acknowledges having is that she hates her sister. :( I really hope L can help her out with her feelings there.

BUT, as much as she claims to hate Sophia, today was a good indication that that's really not the case. I took Sophia in to the base clinic to get her labs drawn for her next appointment on the 19th with her ped. If you know anything about Sophia, it's that she's HORRIBLE with needles and getting shots, so this was absolutely no picnic. It took three of us to hold her down, and she screamed her lungs off from the time I sat down in the chair with her until after they pulled the needle out. It was emotionally draining for all of us, and Sophia couldn't speak for about half an hour after the experience, poor thing. Even the lab tech was affected; I heard him say, "I'll be right back, I need to take a break," immediately afterward.

Well, we went out into the hallway to leave, and Sophia pointed at the water fountain, indicating she wanted a drink. Chloë ran to hold the button down for her. Then, she took both of Sophie's hands in her own, asked very sympathetically, "Are you okay? Are you okay" and rubbed her back. She started to reach for her, then stopped and looked at me. I said, "You want to give her a hug, don't you? Go ahead and hug her, I'm sure she needs it." So Chloë completely enveloped her baby sister in her arms, rubbing her back some more, and made soothing sounds. It was very touching. I said, "See, you DO love her, honey." She just grinned at me.

We stopped in the store afterward, Walgreens, to pick up some pictures I'd ordered for developing. I was browsing around for a few other things, and a woman came up to me and said, "Your children are such angels! They're so well behaved!" I blurted out, "Well, not always, but I got lucky today!" before saying, "I mean, thank you! Thank you!" because that is one of the nicest things you can hear as a parent, especially when lately you've been questioning how well you're doing all the time... It was a nice pick-me-up.

I'd rented Where The Wild Things Are for the kids from the Redbox yesterday, and they watched it last evening and again today. It's more grown-up than the usual cartoon fare they get to watch, but they all seemed to like it. I did, too; there were some very amusing lines in it, right along my type of humor. I admit I've never read the book, but now I'm inspired to do so. Have you seen or read it?

And now for a couple cute kid quotes:

Sophia, nearly 5, declared: "If you think a worm is a gummy worm, and you put it in your mouth, and you chew it up, and you swallow it, then you're gonna get sick, and you're gonna DIE." - out of nowhere!

Sophia asked me, endearingly, "Mommy, do boy cows have gutters, too?"

Oh, the cuteness. ♥ Age four, I'm going to miss you!!

Have a good weekend, y'all.



Aloha Friday


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

My question for you this week is:

Do you use Swagbucks?

I do! I'm so excited about Swagbucks since I started doing it about three months ago, because I have racked up enough of them to cash in for eight five-dollar gift cards so far! They add up really fast with just searching and having their toolbar on my browser, and it doesn't cost me anything. Hey, free money rocks - I just bought some things with my Amazon money to pay for my daughter's upcoming fifth birthday presents! If you're not on Swagbucks yet, click here to join under me. (Shameless, I know.)

Happy Friday, y'all!


On The Second Day Of Spring Break

... I was pretty much lazier than the first.


I hate to say "lazy," really, when the word is more like downright lethargic. I feel like something is definitely wrong with me. I just don't have my get-up-and-go most of the time lately, unless I've imbibed some coffee. I do not want to become dependent on the caffeine, so that kind of sucks... Also, I had a killer headache for several hours right in the middle of the day, so we had another moviefest. The kids are rediscovering the videotapes that Grandma sent a few years back, which have sat in the cabinet mostly ignored in favor of DVDs. They are loving them! Jack's favorite lately is The Fox and The Hound, or as he calls it, "The Dog and The Fox." Hee.


I had planned to take the kids to the historic local landmarks, The Adam Thoroughgood House and The Francis Land House today, but I didn't realize that they were not free to visit. Each one would cost us about ten bucks to attend. Since we are both on a very tight budget, especially in the first half of the month when the mortgage gets paid, and I don't know whether they would enjoy these sites well enough to spend a tenner at each, I didn't feel too terrible about passing them up today.


So now, I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow. I do plan to take them the the Cape Henry lighthouse and the state park there, but I'd really rather go when Daddy is available. Since he might be working on Saturday now, well, maybe we'll just do that Wednesday. I know the kids will have a good time there. We shall see.


I did stay up late last night to make Rob's lemon poppy seed bread, which he enjoyed this morning before work. Unfortunately, before waking me up at 0930, all three kids also enjoyed some of Daddy's lemon poppy seed bread. That would have been fine, except I'd planned to take Sophia to get her labs drawn (and mine) first thing upon awaking. So that was out. I hadn't warned her not to eat, so I made sure to do that before bed tonight. I'm crossing my fingers that it'll happen Wednesday, because I really need to get my own labs drawn before my next bipolar meds appointment, and I'll need a refill on those within the next two weeks. Might as well get both of ours taken care of at the same time!


By the time 1500 or so rolled around, my headache was finally gone, and I was back in action. The kids and I piled into the pollen-covered van and ran to the bank, so I could deposit all those mail-in rebate checks. I needed to do it, finally, because the the $42 payment for the CARE Package website annual fee went through, and I'd completly forgotten about it. I do every year.

We were already in the car, so I drove over to the town center to pick up my silver bridesmaid dress from the dry cleaner. It had been there since, oh, November or so.  When I get around to it, I'll try it on and take a picture in it. It'll be big on me, though, since it's a size 18 and I'm not! But I want to sell it, and I know no better way...


Daddy was rolling into the driveway right after we hopped out of the van at home, so that was nice. Always a pleasure to see him arrive home.


After he had a shower and did some yelling at the kids for messing up their rooms again (argh), we went out to dinner for a job. It was good; as usual, I only ate about 3 or 4 wings and then I was stuffed. I didn't feel well after that, think I was dumping pretty hard, so the piña colada I drank a third of was probably not a good idea! 


I had another quick job to do after that, since we were already in that area of town where we really go (it's far), and then we headed home. The kids pretty much squabbled all the way home. Jack is the worst one; he can be such a grouch, and he yells and threatens to "punch you in the butthole" and calls names. We're working on that...

And that was it. Well, that, and I managed to make my own dentist appointment, at least. Tomorrow, Chloë sees the therapist for the first time. I don't know how much I'll share from that here, or even whether I'll be privy to the session, so... ask if you want to know.

All right then, back to work on my reports!



On The First Day Of Spring Break... true loves and I didn't do anything super-fantastic. Eh.

Here's what did happen, in a nutshell:

I slept until noon. After staying up all night Saturday-into-Sunday, I was mighty tired.

Fortunatelly, Rob had the day off. He did have to go in wicked early because the AC repair guy was coming in, but he got home before the kids woke up. He took them outside to play.

When I was just waking up, he was bringing them upstairs to take a bath. Apparently they got REALLY dirty, playing outside. My kind of fun!

I called my dad back, who had called me from the store, wanting to know if what he had chosen were appropriate gifts for Sophia and Jack's birthdays. We chatted for a while.

I went out to do a S*nic mystery shop while the kids watched Movie #1.

We pretty much had a Movie Marathon after that. Except for breaks to clean up a little bit, eat, and what-have-you, I think the kids watched six Disney flicks back-to-back. (Toy Story & Toy Story 2 from the girls' Easter baskets, The Fox & The Hound, 101 Dalmatians, and... I can't remember what else.)


{Speaking of Disney movies, did I mention that I ordered The Princess and The Frog off with my Swagbucks money, for Soapy's upcoming birthday? I did. Also, with money from winning Deal Seeking Mom's Coupon Database monthly prize twice in a row, and from doing the Kimberley-Clark mom discussion panel - both of which rewarded me with more Amazon cash - I bought Sophie the Barbie car she's coveting, and two new books for me. I have a little bit left. I was going to spend it on something else which now escapes me, or save up for the Hoover FloorMate we really need. But yay for free money! Oh, and, from all the Disney Movie Rewards points I'm getting with all these movies we've been getting such great deals on, I've almost got enough points to cash in on the Princess scooter off their site! The girls will LOVE that. Jack will not, but they don't have a 'boy' scooter that I can see...}


So while the kids watched movies, Daddy cleaned up his very messy side of our room, and I worked on my to-do list. I managed to get a lot done:

  • Called Dr. A's office to speak to his nurse and have him re-submit the referrals to Audiology that J & S need, for they are still under review after a week. Weird.
  • Called and verified that Jack does NOT need a follow-up appointment for physical therapy until his leg braces don't fit or are uncomfortable
  • Made an ultrasound appt. for Jack's right nut (4.22.10)
  • Made eye exam appts. for all three kids - FREE at Wal*mart (with our insurance), unless I decide to let Chloë get contacts (this Saturday)
  • Called the creditor for our debt with Bounce the bunny's vet bill, and had them reverse the $32 late fee, since I had thought it was all paid off and never received another bill. Phew, they did.
  • Talked to my dad AGAIN, about what he and wife #5 want to do and eat while they're up here at the end of this week
  • Called to make myself a dentist appointment; haven't heard back from them yet
  • Called to completely cancel our TV service, as we don't get reception since canceling digital cable back in January, so why pay $10 a month for nothing? Hello, I should have done that two months ago.
  • Called my bipolar shrink to make a meds appt, but we're playing phone tag
  • Made an appt with a child therapist for Chloë (this Weds. pm)
  • Went to the P.O. and mailed packages of coupons to overseas military (last month's and this month's, oops), red pens to MIL, and stamps to Grandpa
  • "Made dinner," which consisted of pulling a variety of frozen entrées out of the deep freezer, microwaving them, and calling it good. I'll make something "realer" tomorrow. At least that's the plan...
  • Cut, sorted, filed and listed in the DSM database my coupons from the past three weeks. Damn, that was a lot of coupons.


I didn't get everything on my to-do list finished:

  • I still need to schedule those Audiology appointments, which I probably won't be able to do until the end of the week, after they are submitted a second time.
  • I need to get labs drawn for both Sophia and myself; hopefully I can run us out to the base to get those done first thing in the morning, before either of us have eaten, since they're both "fasting" labs.
  • I couldn't make Chloë's Dermatology appointment, because a referral to a civilian provider is coming in the mail. Why, I don't know, but I prefer it that way anyway.
  • Still need to make that appt. with my bipolar shrink.
  • I didn't get to the bank to deposit the NINE mail-in rebate checks I've received in the past week (yay!)
  • We didn't do a Markeroni. More on that tomorrow, after we've hopefully done one.
  • I didn't bake anything. I'd planned to bake something every day this week, starting with Rob's lemon poppy-seed bread. But, the night is still young...

And that's about it. I took a nap just before bedtime, so Rob put the kiddies to bed, and he's got to go back to work tomorrow. Bummer!

Are you having a fun and interesting week so far?


Run For Your Life

I tried to sleep tonight, but it just wasn't coming. I had slept too much during the day Saturday, having not felt well all week, and had consumed coffee too late in the day. I hadn't showered yet, so around 0500, I got up and did so to get ready for the morning's Easter services a few hours down the road. Before, during and after my shower, I felt something stirring inside me.

Actually, I've felt it more and more over the past few days and weeks.

I haven't felt it since I was a senior in high school. It's a weird feeling, almost entirely foreign to me:


The desire to run. For no reason, just to run for the sake of running.

Before my shower, I almost threw on a pair of sneakers and ran right out the door. Then I realized that I wasn't quite dressed for that, was a little too tired, and oh, I could come up with four dozen more excuses why I didn't just GO.

During my shower, I remembered something my friend E had shown me about four years ago or so: the Couch-to-5K program at Cool Runnings. Basically, beginners - couch potatoes - are given a program to get them ready to run in a 5K in a simple, easy-to-follow regimen. At the time, she was all gung-ho about it and I think she even did run in a 5K, but I had absolutely no desire to, well, move. I was a fat lard, and I was comfortable there.


{Plus, I hate running. The only reason I did so much of it as a senior in high school was because we had the mile run in gym class twice a year, and I had never been able to run the whole thing. Some years, I couldn't even walk it. I had a horrible time breathing (I may have had asthma, but since I never went to the doctor, we'll never know) and would just collapse and try to catch some air. I was determined that I would make it a full mile and never stop running the entire time - and I did!}

Anyway, so in the shower, I decided I would do the C-to-5K (as we shall hereafter call it) program and find a 5K in which to run. That's right, I'm not only going to run, I'm going to run in a real, life race! I'm determined not to be the last finisher; that's about my only goal.

After my shower, I was even more motivated. I thought about going right then and there on a mile-long run around the neighborhood, already having clocked a mile with my minivan, but then I realized that despite having lost almost 175 pounds, I'm still quite out of shape. Hell, even after losing all that weight, I'm still considered "obese"! Isn't that crazy! (And also pretty depressing, if you think about it. I try not to do that too much.) I'm only about six pounds away from being considered "overweight", and by golly, I can't wait for that designation! But I digress: I'm out of shape, and one should always start slowly with a new exercise regimen.


{If you're wondering about the Wii Fit, I'd love to still be doing that every day, but the kids scratched up my disk, and I haven't tried it since Rob "fixed" it. I keep forgetting about it now!}

Where was I?

Oh, so here I am, about to embark on my new running-for-beginners program, and I'm feeling excited about it.

Before Pic


I knew, when I started this weight loss journey 14 months ago, at my peak weight of 341.3 pounds, that it would be a while before I could really exercise. Most of you, thank goodness, have never and will never be that fat, so it's hard for you to comprehend the toll it takes on your body. I could barely walk; you might remember that I was using the cart to ride around at the grocery store and praying to God I could actually do the walking required to get around when we took our European cruise in '08. I've gotten much stronger, and not only can I walk, but I actually have been running in small spurts here and there lately. I'm ready, but I'm no Jackie Joyner Kersee yet, after all!


I had been cold before and during the first half of my shower, so I anticipated being cold afterward, too. I threw on my long underwear - which is all black - and since I'm a little nutty that way, I put on black socks, undies and bra, too.  I won't change them, except the socks, when I change for church later, because more than not matching, I hate waste. Why do I insist on telling you every single minute detail that enters my brain? Moving along... Once downstairs, I also donned my black Crocs and went out to grab my Sunday papers.

Only, I felt so good, out there at 0530, that I decided to pass up the papers and take a power walk for that mile I'd thought about running earlier. I used to walk everywhere, or else I'd ride my bike or roller-blade. That was a long time ago, in college, when I was probably at my most fit (and yet still chubby). I never do it anymore, at least not for exercise, because it's hard to go at a fitness-worthy pace when your dog is sniffing at every other blade of grass and your three small children are huffing along and complaining that they don't want to walk anymore when you've only gone half a block!

And so I walked.


The first thing I noticed was the moon. No sign of the sun yet at that hour, but the moon shone brightly.


The second thing I noticed were all the different birds chirping. Because I'm usually out when there are lots of cars, children playing, and life-in-general happening, I don't often get to hear NOTHING BUT BIRDS. It was pretty fantastic. And I am not a bird lover, generally speaking. I tried to count the different species. I thought I heard six different ones, and I wished I could see 'em.


The third thing I realized was that I was still wearing my Crocs, which are ultra-comfy to walk in, but not necessarily for power-walking. Plus, my feet had shrunk. The first pair I bought, the brown ones, are a 6-7, and they absolutely float on me. My black pair are a 4-5, and they're big, too! I walk on tiny pedestals, I do.

So when - not if - I start my C-to-5K program, I'll do a few things differently:


1. Not wear all-black. Rob will probably make me wear reflective tape on my light-colored clothes. He's Mr. Saftey Man, after all.


2. Wear my barely-worn sneakers. They're not "running shoes," but I'm not going to go all crazy with that. I can't afford to buy $120 running shoes, especially since I tend not to have stick-to-itiveness when it comes to exercise. If this becomes a "thing" for me, then we'll see. But Crocs, you just ain't cuttin' it.


3. Bring my iPod along. I might not use it - because I really did enjoy those birds - but I find that listening to fast-paced music really helps me keep up my stride. Toward the middle of my mile, I found myself strolling quickly, rather than power-walking. I kept having to remind myself after that to pump my arms and lean forward a little, walk purposefully toward my goal. Music will help.


I had more to add to that list, but the kids have all woken up (geesh, it's only 0730 and we kept them up 'til 2300 last night!) and are quite ready to begin their searches for eggs and baskets. They're waiting up in their rooms until I call them down, so I can't concentrate anymore on this. I enjoyed google-imaging this post to death (picked that up from my friend E, too - check out her blog; she's frigging hysterical!) and hope you did, too.

Anyway, wish me luck and help me find a 5K!



As this Easter dawns, I'm reminded of a very significant-to-me Easter seven years ago, in April 2003 (because apparently I couldn't count on you to do the math).

Our twin sons had just been born the month before, and Robby had died. Our other son, Jack, had spent a harrowing month in the NICU, mostly a feed-and-grow baby, before being released on Easter Eve. We had been invited to attend the new Saturday evening service of the church we still attend now, so we decided to take our newly-sprung baby boy, along with our 19-month-old Chloë, to Easter service.

In the month since Robby had died, I had been, of course, an emotional wreck. I still had to be Mama to Chloë at home, still had to run daily to spend hours at the hospital with Jack, still had to produce and express breast milk for him, which required regular eating, still had to communicate with and show love for my also-grieving husband... while at the same time, a big part of me had died inside along with my angel son. To say the least, it was not an easy time.

The first thing I noticed when we took our seats at the church, was that two rows in front of us, a couple was toting a pair of identical pink carseats, with two tiny baby girls inside. Yes, girls, but obviously newborn twins and, from the looks of it, identical ones, too. My fragile heart shattered anew.  Rob looked at me. "Do you want to leave?" I did, but I assured him that I wanted to stay. Somehow, I needed to be there.

And I did.

As the pastor talked about the events of that long-ago time when Jesus rose from the dead, inside I dwelt on the circumstances of his death. For the first time in my life, during which I had always been a Christian and had never stopped believing, the enormity and magnitude of what God had done for us struck me like a lightning bolt. I had just lost my own son, and here He had given us His only son, His only child, so that we might be saved. In the past, I could not comprehend how meaningful and difficult that must have been. At that time, seven years ago, I understood all too well. It was everything. It was sacrificing one's own self for the good of all mankind. 

I cried during that service and didn't care who saw me. I will probably cry again when we go to Easter service later this morning, after three Easter baskets and six dozen plastic Easter eggs filled with icky-yucky jellybeans are hunted and found, chocolate bunny ears nibbled, faces washed, and tiny bodies tugged unwillingly into pastel dresses and sweater vests. And I won't care who sees me.

I don't claim to be the best mother ever, or the best wife. When provoked, some horrible things sometimes spill out of my mouth; it's a learned behavior. But I love that man, and I love those three imps, more than I could ever try to explain to you in words alone. There is only One who knows, and He has given us the greatest gift: everlasting life.

Believe it.


Sunday Stealing: 35 Questions Meme, Part II

Click on over here for more Sunday Stealing. (And Happy Easter!)

36. If you suddenly became single or are single, do you think you could last in a relationship for 12 months or more?

Well, I've been married more than 9 years, and have had a few relationships longer than a year before that, so yes, I daresay I could.

37. Do you forgive or forget?

I hold a grudge up to the moment the person says, "Hey, I'm really sorry I did that." And then, it's over in an instant. So few people actually say that, though.

38. Do you trust people?

I used to be entirely too trusting. I still am, but not as much.

39. What are you not looking forward to?

My baby turning five. Five is Big Kid Time. I want her to stay a baby forever.

40. Do you get mad easily?

Yeah, I do.

41. Tell us about the last time you were told you that you have pretty eyes.

I can't remember the last time someone told me that, but I remember once, in junior high, my friend Tiffany told me that I have beautiful eyes, especially when I'm crying. I was crying at the time...

42. Do you have strange dreams?

The strangest! Don't even get me started!

43. Ever licked someone's cheek or forehead?

Gross. But I probably have!

44. Tell us about the last time you fell asleep in someones arms.

Just the other day, on the couch with Rob... he has the best arms to fall asleep in. We fit together well, like we were made for each other.

45. When did you last play a game?

I'm playing one right now. On Facebook. Does that count?

46. What do you have on you at all times?

My iPhone. If something happens to Rob, I'm going to marry it.

47. Do you go out in public without getting all dressed up?

Of course, all the time. Who wants to be all made up all the time? I sure don't.

48. Do you like fruity or minty gum?


49. Favourite musician or group?

I don't do favorites, but I'm digging Brett Dennan a lot right now. Check him out on Pandora.

50. Do you like anyone?

I like a great deal of people.

51. Favourite computer game?

I'm kind of addicted to Island Paradise and Petville on Facebook right now, which is completely lame and I am fully aware of it. Oh, well!

52. First album you ever went and bought with your own money?

Hahaha, I think it was Milli Vanilli!!

53. Think back five months ago, were you single?

Really? People need to think that hard about five months ago? And what's with all the single questions? Let's move on.

54. Do you believe in celebrating anniversaries?

Absolutely. I celebrate everything I can. Any excuse to bake a cake is a good one!

55. Do you think someone is thinking about you right now?

No. It's four in the morning, y'all should be asleep.

56. Last thing you bought?

Um... pizza for dinner. I was craving it bad.

57. Are you a jealous person?

Not really, nope. I think that bothers my husband...

58. Does it take a lot to make you cry?

Oh, hell, no. Just the suggestion, just the word "cry," and I'm practically in tears. Hi, I'm bipolar, it's a ton of fun.

59. Do you have a friend of the opposite sex you can talk to?

Several, more than of the same sex, actually. Guys are less judgemental.

60. Have you ever had your heart broken?

I'm female and I'm alive, so yes.

61. Have you ever done something while drunk that you still cannot believe you did?

Psht, omg, yes. Please don't make me share.

62. Is there anyone you secretly wish you could be spending your time with right now?

I'm happy right where I am, thanks.

63. Do you text?


64. Do you wish someone would call or text you right now?


65. Is your life anything like it was a year ago?

Of course. It's different, but it's similar.

66. Go back one year on your blog. Leave us a link to your favorite post.

Pass. Too much work.

67. You can only drink ONE liquid for the rest of your life, what is it?

Caffeine-Free Diet Coke

68. Tell us about someone that you have lost contact with someone you wish you didn't.

Matthew Buffalo. He was my first "boyfriend," when we were five and in kindergarten together in Monroe, NY. I've looked everywhere for him, even though he probably doesn't remember me. I'd love to just say hello!

69. What is the last thing you said out loud?

"Where the hell am I going to put these damn eggs??!"

70. Will this year be better than last?

Last year was pretty good, but I have no reason to think this one will be anything but fabulous, too.

Have a good week!