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Entries from June 2010


I have been doing some thinking today, while putting together more packages for CARE Package to donate to the local children's hospital.

I have come to the realization that this is my last year to run the charity. My motivation has been waning for the past year or two, as I've been wanting to work on other projects.

It's not that I don't love doing it; I do. I have put a lot of myself into running CARE Package, and the point has come where any more, after this calendar year, would start to be too much.  I love and miss my son with my whole heart, and my soul hurts whenever I am called upon to send out another package. But I have three living children who need my focus, and I have other passions that are not getting enough of my attention. It is time to go in another direction.

It hasn't been an easy decision. Every time I have broached the idea that I might be finished, a lot of people remind me of the good we have done and the need that is and will continue to be so unfortunately great. But my heart is not heavy with this decision; rather, it is lifted knowing that we have done good in this world, and there is more good out there for me to do.

So, CARE Package will continue through the end of 2010, with all of the time and effort that I am able to give to it.  If donations come in after that time, I will make sure they go where they were intended, and see this endeavor through to its natural end. I thank you for your support in this journey.


The Other Beauty


Whoops, I was asked to show a picture of the other sapphire ring. It's weird, right? I like it, though, perhaps in part because of its weirdness.

Also, I neglected to say whence came the bracelet. As a family, we went to Disney World in October, 2006 and from there, to a Bahamian cruise with my dad and his then-wife (he's onto the next one, now). On that cruise, they had these long strands, and they would snip you the length you desired, for a bracelet or necklace, and add the findings. Rob bought me this one. I like it!


P.S. It's kind of nice that my girls' birthstones are sapphire and diamond, respectively, because that is what all or most of my jewelry will be. The September girl will inherit my blue stones, and the April girl will get my ice. But that begs the question - what about my boy?

Turning Things Around

I thought today was going to be a waste of a day.

I woke up on time, but then I hit my snooze button and went back to sleep. Only I didn't really hit it after all and woke up 45 minutes later, with just 5 minutes to get the girls up, dressed, fed, lunches made, and out the door. We missed a few of those steps, but I did get their lunches made while they dressed. At least we made the bus, and at least they can get breakfast at school...

Back at home, the plan was to spend the day doing laundry. Only, I wanted to wait until Jack woke up, because I knew if I went upstairs to start laundry, it would wake him up, and he'd be a grumpy bear. Not only that, but if I had to come down to prepare his breakfast, then I would probably be too lazy to go back upstairs and finish. I'm like that.

So I farted around online until he woke up.

At noon.


Someone is lazy like his mama. I couldn't be more proud.

Anyway, five minute before he woke up, I had decided I would take a little nap until he came down. And then he came down a minute later, but it was too late: I had already gotten myself into that nap frame of mind. You know the one? Your mind starts to shut down, you start yawning, and all productivity - both internal and external - has fled the scene. It's too late. You need that nap.

So I got him fed and set up with a DVD next to me on the couch, and I snoozed.

It was supposed to be for an hour.

Apparently I was tired today, because it stretched into almost THREE hours, and I didn't stir until my "here comes the bus" alarm went off on my iPhone. (That's my safety line, y'know?)  Jack had gotten up and switched from Toy Story to Toy Story 2 while I slept. And there he still sat.

What a waste. An entire school day with nothing to show for it.

But then...

I did get up. And I got those girlies of mine. And I saw that it was a beautiful, nay, gorgeous day. We've been battling 95º heat, but today was in the low 70s. I find that far more bearable.

The kids had a snack, and then we all went upstairs to get some work done. I turned off the non-functioning AC (hey, I'm an optimist) and threw open all the windows, started a load of laundry, set the kids to the task of cleaning their perpetually-messy rooms, and took myself a chilly shower.

When I emerged, I felt Truly Ready to conquer the omnipresent mountain of laundry. This time, it had taken  over our bed, three - no, four - baskets around our room, and half the upstairs hallway. I swear, I do not know how this happens, since it seems like we are forever doing laundry. Three kids are NOT that many, are they?! They produce SO much work for me, though!


Rob and the kids went out to McDonalds. Not to eat, of course, but to return the two cadmium-laced Shrek Forever After cups we received in our House Party pack. I told Rob he could pocket the money if he felt like doing that, since I had no desire to step into a McD's myself. They were successful. Then he stopped at a 7-11 to pick us each up a giant Coke (Diet for me, natch), which totally defeats the purpose of eating organically, but you know what?



So for the next six hours, I worked on laundry. I lost count of how many loads, which is fine, since not a one of you really gives a damn anyway. I washed, dried, folded, put away, hung and, I won't lie. I didn't iron anything.

And it's ALL DONE. Finished. Finí.

Until tomorrow.

Then we begin again. But hey, I call that being productive on a day that started out quite the opposite. Right?

But that's not all. Oh, no. With me, it almost never is.

While I was waiting for that last load to dry, and my iPhone was downstairs charging its dead battery or else I'd have been on it playing Scrabble and obsessively checking my email, I painted my nails.

Oh, wait, that's not the exciting part. My bad.

(By the way, who is stupid enough to paint their nails when they're about to fold laundry? Hello, wreck waiting to happen. But it didn't! I used the L'Oréal polish that I'd picked up a few months back on one of my deal runs, and wow! That stuff dries fast. I even painted two coats and didn't get a single smudge. Gosh, that's fascinating, Melanie, you're saying. I know. I write the most intriguing stuff.)

The exciting part was that, after painting my nails "Mango-Get-Em" orange, I decided to go through a long-neglected corner of my bedroom to see if there was anything I could get rid of on Freecycle. I'm trying to declutter like a madwoman right now, and no place in this house is safe. Except Rob's closet. I'm afraid if I go in there to sort things out, I will never return. Seriously. It is scary in there.

I found a bunch of things to Freecycle, yes. But better than that, I found some things I had been looking for forever!

Like what, you ask?

Well, like my mom's orange wallet, which my dad gave to me after she died. I was only little then, seven, but I recognized the importance of keeping that wallet and have never parted with it. I cherish it, even if it is old and ugly and is missing a snap.  Maybe someone could fix it for me and make it serviceable and I could use it, or maybe when I die, one of my little girls will want it and will cherish it like I do. I dunno.

Also, I found my set of soft-tip darts. My much-older friends and I used to go to the bowling alley down in the same strip as our grocery store after work and hang out in the bar, playing darts. This was in my senior year of high school. They would actually take me to one of their houses after work but before the bowling alley, give me a shot or two of Goldschlager (good friends, I had) to get me nice and toasty, and then we'd go sit and play darts. Central New York is a happening place, what can I say? I actually got pretty good at the darts - even though everyone made fun of me, because my stance was lefty even though I shot righty - so my friend Kirstin took me to the dart store (yes! They have those!) to buy me my own set. I couldn't decide on the flights I wanted, so she let me get all three: turquoise, silver, and white with Miami Dolphins on them. I knew I was headed for Miami the following year, but they didn't have anything with the 'Canes on them, so the Dolphins were the next best thing.

That was in 1994. I haven't played since, so I offered them on Freecycle. I'm kind of thinking I should go play darts one last time before letting them go, though. What do you think?

And, I found my old Biology dissection kit. I can't remember whether I bought it in high school or college. I guess one of the kids - that naughty Sophia, I'm sure - was digging around in there, because two instruments are missing, one of the spare scalpel blade packages was open, and the rest of the packages were dumped all over the place. The idea of what could have happened there makes me shudder... but fortunately, no booboos came of that little exploration. I have since moved the dissection kit!

I found my three watches, too. One is my Guess? watch, which my first fiancé (of several) (I know) (but I only married the last one, so the others don't count) gave me as a high school graduation present. I wore it through college until the little post that holds the band onto the face got lost, and it's been sitting in its box ever since. With a drained battery. The other two are from my dad's beloved Aunt Amy; Dad gave them to me when she died about 18 years ago. They never worked, and the band is broken the same way on the Timex. Or is the Bill Blass? Maybe the latter. Anyway, I told Rob on the phone later that if he wanted to make me happy for pennies for this coming birthday/Christmas/October 12th, he could get the watches fixed for me. I would love that.  I haven't worn a watch since that Guess? band broke in college!

But the happiest discovery? My jewelry!! I had been keeping it all in the original jewelry boxes in my sock drawer (hint, thieves: don't bother looking there now. You won't find them), but they went missing ages ago. AGES. And apparently the same little imp who tried to slice herself open with my scalpel decided that this new place would be a great hiding spot for all my jewels, because that is where I found them. I have been SO sad all this time about losing them (which isn't really fair to say, since they were taken from me, and I didn't actively lose them at all); I can't even convey to you how much. They were important to me because they were my birthstone, sapphires, and because my husband gave them to me. Not all the pieces were found, but enough to make me truly overjoyed. I found one of my earrings, two of my rings, and a bracelet. The earrings and rings were an anniversary present; we'd purchased the loose stones for super-cheap on eBay, and he took them to a jeweler and had them mounted. I absolutely adored them and was heartbroken when they went missing. And here they are again!


That's one of the rings. Isn't it lovely? I adore it. And look, you can see how crappy a job I did, painting my right-hand nails with my left hand. And you can see how old my hands look now that they have lost so much weight; it's the loose skin that is everywhere on my body. Doesn't escape the hands. Do they do hand lifts?

So I've rambled long enough. It's been a happy night for me. I hope it was for you, too.





On Uselessness

Man. I thought I was worthless when I was freezing this past winter, but this current heat is no joke! Our AC needs freon, so basically we are suffering in 90+º heat in the house. It's awful. I feel like I'm melting. I know my internal thermostat is out of whack when it comes to the cold, but I didn't think the heat would affect me so profoundly as well. For a lot of this weekend, I didn't do much but lie around and sweat. That stunk, since I had a lot of fun plans for free things to do around our community, like the American Indian Festival in Chesapeake and a salsa concert in Norfolk. We didn't go anywhere, though.

Well, that's not entirely true. Our books were due, so The Littles and I tried to go to the library to return them and get new ones. We managed the first task but didn't realize that, June through August, the library is closed on Sundays! Maybe Jack and I will go tomorrow, since he's anxious to get some books.

I felt that we just HAD to get out of the boiling heat in our house - yes, my ice-cold showers have returned with a vengeance - so when we returned, I told everyone to rustle up their bathing suits and towels for a trip to the pool. Silly me, though. I'd forgotten that I had given away all of my bathing suits, since they are all too big now, and I had nothing to wear! Rob didn't want to go swimming without me, but the kids were all suited up and covered in sunscreen, so I insisted. Lucky me, I was able to get in a nice nap during their absence.

Other than that, it's been a pretty low-key weekend. I have been productive on one score, though: I started my 2010 digital scrapbook (no, I didn't finish 2009 yet) and have already completed 50 pages. That's half a book! It had been over a year since I'd done the digital scrapping, so I had to re-take the online classes in order to remember how the software worked. Once I did that, there was no stopping me. This time, I will actually finish a book. It looks great so far! I can't wait to see the finished project.

By the way, if you still want to see the pictures from our photo shoot with the Keeneys, remember that they are up until Tuesday, after which time they will be gone. The link is in my Saturday 9 post!

Have a great week, y'all.


In Which I Admit My Failure, or, Grandma Rocks!

In the beginning, there was Home Ec class, circa 7th grade, age 12, so about 21 years ago.

I made a drawstring bag and then a pair of Bermuda shorts.

As with all things academic, I did a swell job. I ruled at school. When taught how to do things in a linear fashion, I can do what I'm told and turn out a pretty good product. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but school was just my thing.

Then came love, and marriage, and three kids in a baby carriage. Or something.

And for those three kids, the desire to sew.

Oh, I had grand plans. I thought I would whip out garment after perfect, flawless garment, and outfit my kids in an array of darling, boutique-y, one-of-a-kind fashions.

Only, 20 years is a long time to sew from the memory of a long-age home economics class, with only two finished projects under my belt.

But, not to worry, not to worry, for I had two powerful cards to play: my mother-in-law was herself a Home Ec teacher, and my husband sews for a living - at least when he's not on LIMDU, like he is now.  Surely between the two of them, they could make a sewist out of me in no time flat, right?

Oh, I was an eager student. I wanted all the tips and tricks. I wanted to know what I was doing, I wanted to be an overnight expert. I bought yards and yards of fabrics and an abundance of notions. I tried my hardest.

I made a dress for Sophia. A lot of swearing was involved. It was cute, but every time I washed it, the edges unraveled a little more. I would just snip off the fringes and happily put it back on her to wear another day. And Sophia has always been a grateful recipient of handmade Mommy gifts, fringe or not.

I made matching froggy jammies for all three kids. More swearing. And, I think the third top is still under construction somewhere, but it really doesn't matter, because they never wear the jammies all at the same time. These have held up better than the Sophie dress, with no unraveling, although I never did get the collar just right on the first two shirts. (And gosh, doesn't Chloë look gorgeous there, with all her baby teeth still in? Man, her half-toothless smile is such a mess now! I can't wait until she's out of this awkward tooth-losing stage.)

Oh, yes, I almost forgot the batik shorts I made for each kid. Talk about hideous. These also unraveled a lot, and I'm not sure whether they still have them in their drawers (Lord knows they still fit) or I've given them away. More swearing.

And finally, there was the dress on which I got stuck. Apparently I forgot to tag it with a sewing label on my blog, so I can't find it easily, but it was subtly covered with seashells and had poofy tulle under the skirt. I couldn't figure out how to get the zipper in, and neither could Rob. It still sits in the closet.

For nearly two years.

I haven't done any sewing, and I'm afraid it's too late now to go back and make the things I intended to make, for the obvious reason: my kids have grown since then, and I won't have enough yardage. But also, I don't particularly want to sew. I've lost my early mojo. Why? I think because I didn't anticipate the fussiness of the patterns I chose, and I wanted something I could throw together a little more quickly and less laboriously. Also, I hate fusible interface with a passion. I don't know why, I just hate it. I'm not big on ironing - no, pressing - either. And I hate my choices of fabrics available down at Hancock's or JoAnn's. I'd rather use the fancy designer fabrics that I see on all the fun blogs I read, and I'd rather use knits, from which I've been warned.

So there you have it. Am I a quitter? No, I don't think so; I think for sure I'll go back to it at some point. I just need to find my inspiration.

But in the meantime, there's still Rob's mom, the former Home Ec teacher. Since we are and will be doing so much in the kitchen with the kids, I thought I'd ask her if she would mind making them some cute aprons to wear.

Not only did she not mind, but she had them finished and mailed to me about five minutes later. I'm not even exaggerating! Literally I hit "send" on the email and moments later, the package was in my hands. Okay, maybe there's a little hyperbole there. But not much.


And you know what? They are perfect. Grandma doesn't half-ass, you know. She goes ALL THE WAY. These gorgeous aprons are reversible with pockets on both sides and have an adjustible strap so they can grow with the kids. Awesome, completely awesome. And the wings on the bee, there on the right? Made from Rob's sister's first wedding dress. That was the selling point for Chloë, who was poised to do battle with her sister over the flowered one. I told her how special that was, and she agreed. Hooray.

And the kids? They love them. They clamored over their aprons and earlier today, when Jack was going to cook with his dad and I'd forgotten about the aprons, he came running to me to put his on for him. They're thrilled. As am I. 

Thanks, Mom!!





That Funky, Funky Sweater


Well, I finished the thing last night. I'd have made the sleeves bigger, but that was all the yarn I had left. I don't know why, exactly, but for some reason, looking at the sweater in this picture reminds me of a pig. 

It's a shame, really, because it could have been a really beautiful sweater. I think - no, I know - that I should have taken Steph and Gloria's advice after all and frogged back to the split where I read the wrong pattern sizing info, but I am just SO stubborn about that! I thought I could just make it work somehow.


I tried to put it on myself, but though the body fits, the sleeves do not. So I put it on Sophia, who, it turns out, loves it. And she wants to keep it forever and ever.


Also, she wore it for a long period of time, even though it is insanely hot in our house, and she must have been itchy like crazy. I finally had to force her to take it off, because I didn't want her to overheat.

And, I didn't know she had such a long tongue.


Saturday 9: If I Had A Hammer


Link up with Crazy Sam if you're playing along today!

1. Are you handy with tools?

I know a lot of tools, and I don't always handle them well. I can hammer a nail, though.

2. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

Seeing our portraits from JL Keeney Photography. Wanna see 'em? The link is here. Comment back if you looked!

3. What was the worst thing that happened to you this week?

The kids drank my entire bottle of skim milk today, instead of sticking to their own (whole). Now I have nothing to make my protein shakes with!

4. Do you think you act your age?

Only when I want to!

5. Describe an item of clothing that has definitely seen better days but that you refuse to dispose of and still wear. Why won't you toss it?

I have this soft denim jumper with holes and stains. It's super-comfortable, though, so sometimes I wear it around the house. Actually that's a lie, I wore it to Chuck E. Cheese for Sophia's birthday party, haha! I'm such a scumbag.

6. What is your favorite summertime beverage?

I don't really have a beverage reserved just for Summer. I don't drink iced tea or lemonade. Flavored water is my favorite nowadays, I guess.

7. Have you ever lied about your age?

Nope, and I never will. I think it's silly. Oh wait, that's a lie, too. I used to lie that I was older, to get into bars and clubs, when I was in college in Miami.

8. What was the most memorable birthday party you've attended?

My dad's 50th birthday, I guess. We were all waiting at the fanciest restaurant in town for him, and he was surprised when he got there. And for some reason, my stepmother had hired Rupert the Rooster to come in and entertain. I don't get that part...

9. What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?

I freak out, literally (ask my hubs) if I'm in a room, especially a small one like the bathroom, and someone blocks the doorway. It's because of ten years of terror caused by my former stepmother, where she would stand in the doorway and trap me in my room so she could keep screaming and yelling at me, clawing at me and pushing me back in if I managed to escape. I would hyperventilate and nearly pass out, and she Just. Wouldn't. Leave so I could calm down. Please don't ever block my doorway. I need to be able to escape.


Aloha Friday


Click here to visit Kailani if you're playing along today.

My question for you this week is:

What's your current mood?

Me, I'm feeling pensive and a little down right now. I guess I'm feeling inadequate and kind of stupid. I have these times, here and there, where I question my own intelligence and worthiness, and now is one of them, for one reason or another. It's not a great feeling. Hey, maybe I should go take my happy pills!

Hope you all have a great weekend.


Kids In The Kitchen


This picture has nothing to do with the kids, but I had it stored up to share with you, so here it is. Rob's been making some beautiful organic omelets for himself when he comes home from work in the morning. Sometimes I like to have food ready, hot and waiting for him when he arrives, but most of the time he comes when I'm still down at the bus stop with the girls, so it doesn't work out. And I am omelet-impaired, so if that's what he wants, then he's on his own. The eggs are fresh from Polyface Farms, which we picked up at our organic shop at the Farmer's Market, along with the green onions, mushrooms and cheese that he's been using. The chicken is not organic; it was from our deep freezer. We've yet to try organic chicken, but once our freezer is empty, we will also get Polyface chicken. (Polyface and its owner, Joel Salatin, were featured on Food, Inc.; I'm excited to meet him next weekend at the homeschoolers' convention in Richmond!!)

Anyway, the kids have been working with me in the kitchen lately, so I thought I'd share about that.


The dishes are Rob's job. On the very rare occasion, I will do them, but usually, they are left for him. (He hasn't cleaned a toilet in I don't know how long, so don't feel too badly for him.) The kids sometimes help him, so they can earn Dad Dollars, our family currency. On this day, maybe Monday of this week, Chloë and Jack decided to do the dishes all by themselves. And for a while, they did. Then Jack accidentally cut himself on a sharp knife (those Wusthof knives are out to get us, I swear!), and he was out of the game. I put a complete stop to it when I realized Chloë was running the water continuously and putting soap on each individual item, rather than having a sink full of soap and water. Whoops! Looks like they'll need more lessons before they're left to do it on their own again, but it was a good first try.


Tuesday night, Jack decided he was going to make bacon and eggs for dinner. We figured we needed 8 eggs for the family, excluding me, so he cracked them all and put the shells out in our make-shift compost pile behind the bushes out front. (Rob hates that, so we really need to move it out back when we get our garden going.) We added a little milk and a bit of baking soda, which I read would make the scrambled eggs fluffier. I think his favorite part of making scrambled eggs is jabbing at the firm yolks with his fork, to make them 'leak.'


The bacon is organic but not from Polyface; I don't feel like going into the kitchen right now to see from what farm it comes, though. I picked up regular piggy bacon and some turkey bacon this time; last time, I just got the pig. I thought I had taken out the turkey bacon for Jack to cook, and so I ate some. Man, it was really good! Turns out it was the pig, which I haven't eaten since 1995. Um, whoops. Sorry, pig. 


The kids are not really that great at stirring yet; who knew it was such an art? I repeatedly show them how to stir effectively, but we have to keep practicing. Jack is over-cautious, because he knows Mommy gets cranky if we spill. (It's just one of my peeves.) So I have to show him how to be a little braver, go a little deeper, be more forceful with it.

In the end, the eggs, which looked divine at first, were ruined by my fault. I put them on too early, and the bacon wasn't ready yet, so I set the stove to "low" to keep the eggs warm. Rob kept cautioning me that they were going to overcook, but I insisted, nah, I'm just keeping them warm. In the end, they were way overcooked, turned green, and the kids would not eat them. I left to go to a Girl Scout Leaders meeting, but I'm told that the dog would not eat them, either. The Polyface eggs cost more than $5 a dozen (I KNOW!!), and we used 8 of them, so it was a painful lesson for me, who absolutely abhors waste of any kind. And it's no fun when Rob is right, either!

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Wednesday was milk delivery day from South Mountain Creamery - yay! We JUST ran out of last week's milk last night, so it was perfect timing. Unfortunately, there were some problems, so we're not as happy this week as we were last week. For starters, the guy didn't come until after 1800, which is pretty late if you ask me, so we were without milk all day. I'd prefer it to come at oh-dark-thirty, when the ice in the cooler is still, well, present, and so there's milk for the kids' morning cereal. Anyway, when he finally arrived, he delivered in such a hurry, that he left without giving us our chocolate milk (gasp!) or the second of two raisin apple cream cheese tubs (bigger gasp! that stuff is the BOMB). I realized about the chocolate milk and was able to flag him down for it, but I didn't notice about the cream cheese until he was long-gone, and I had no way to get ahold of him. Their office hours end at 1600, and they only come down this way from Maryland once a week, so I guess we're SOL on that score. And finally, everything was WARM! Which is not cool. Heh, pardon the pun.

Everything was really great last week, though, so if they call me tomorrow about the message I left, and make it right somehow, I'm more than willing to give the delivery another go. Maybe they'll waive the delivery fee for this week or something; that would work for me...

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Wednesday night after the girls' dance classes, Chloë reminded me that it was her night to cook dinner. We decided on shrimp stir-fry over pasta, and by "we," I mean "I." We had bought the shrimp from Uncle Chuck at the Farmer's Market last week and kept them in the freezer, so I was pretty happy that these prawns thawed out in no more than five minutes of soaking in water. Chloë helped me peel the shrimp, although it took her more time to do one than it took me to do five. No matter; she kept plugging along until the job was done. Sophia wanted to try, too, but she picked up one critter and promptly threw it back in the bowl when one of the legs touched her!


For our stir-fry, we had the shrimp, along with some organic carrots, green onions and garlic. All from the Farmer's Market. Cooking with this food is so fun - and tasty! I chopped up the onions and carrots, of course; no sense letting Chloë lose a finger over it. I had had some Sugar Snap Peas from Schwan's from a long time ago, but when I pulled them out of the freezer to add to the wok, I saw they were badly freezer-burnt. Tsk, tsk, more waste. 

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This is the pasta we used, necessary because I new Jack and Sophia would not eat the shrimp. Also from the organic shop, it's made by bionaturæ and is darn good! I only added salt and some organic EVOO to the water, but Jack insisted that the spaghetti was buttery. It was, too, but I didn't add any!

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Chloë was tending to the pasta until some bubbled and splashed her (she's okay), so then she moved over to the wok side of things. She stir-stir-stirred and got mighty frustrated that nothing was happening, until I realized that I had turned on the wrong burner! Whoops! I do that ALL the time, too; you'd think I'd learn which knob is which! She did a great job, though, and when Rob thanked me for making dinner, she was rightfully insulted that she wasn't thanked, too!

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The finished product. It looks good, right? Not quite as garlicky as I would have liked, but Chloë wouldn't have liked it too much, then. She and Rob ate this, the Littles just ate the pasta, and I just ate the shrimp stir-fry. I really enjoyed it, but it didn't sit right in Oscar (my pouch), and so I didn't keep it down, unfortunately. Those shrimp were huge, too! Uncle Chuck didn't have the size I wanted in stock, so I had to buy the bigger size, and oh, man, talk about yum!

Curls and I made a LOT of extra food, so I packaged up the leftovers for Rob to take to work, because that skinny man has a perpetual appetite. He said he wouldn't be able to eat it all tonight, but I wouldn't be surprised if that bowl came back empty in the morning... 

So that's how our June is going so far. Tomorrow is Sophia's turn to cook, IF I can fit it in with all the running around I have to do. When/if she cooks, pizza is on the menu again - this time with real mozzarella from South Mountain Creamery. None of us can wait to try it!





Picture Perfect

Weird, but this post about pictures isn't going to contain a single one!

Anyway, have you heard about Groupon? Look it up and see if they are participating in your area. It's an awesome site that offers a (usually) steep discount, once per day, to a local business. I've seen everything from restaurants to spa services to photography, and more.

The photography was the one I jumped on. I'd been wanting to get our family portraits taken professionally by someone other than our old standby, Sears, but it has been too cost-prohibitive for us. So when Groupon popped up with a deeply discounted offer from the folks at JL Keeney Photography, I hopped over to their website, decide their style would work for us, and snagged a great deal!

On Sunday evening, we met with Jeff & Lisa Keeney - a husband and wife photographer team - at a local park to have our pictures taken. They took us all over the place, by the duck pond, next to some trees, on a pier, to the playground, etc., and shot 7- or 800 pictures. The kids really showed off their personalities: Chloë was "on" for the camera, posing away the whole time; Sophia was the fearless daredevil; and Jack was our little Nervous Nelly. We had a great time and enjoyed the shoot, and I couldn't wait to see the results.

Today, we met at the Keeneys' house/studio to look over the pictures. While I can't show them to you here, you can click on over here for a glimpse at one their shots, and hopefully soon the rest of the ones that we chose will be online for your viewing pleasure.

We have severely limited funds, so while I would have liked to purchase the entirety of the collection - or at least more than we did - we limited ourselves to the small package that the Groupon deal included, for a family picture, plus one of the thee kids and one of each of them individually. I am going to get the disk with all of our images, too, but that will take a while, as Jeff and Lisa generously offered to allow me to make payments on it.

I really have to say, we've been truly blessed by this whole experience. Not only did we get a great deal on some fabulous family portraiture, but we met a wonderful family in the process. The Keeneys are parents to three beautiful children, although we've only been fortunate enough to meet adorable, 3-month-old baby A so far. They are kind and, like I said, generous, and we have had a great rapport. They even read up about CARE Package and are wanting to add their professional skills to the cause, helping to photograph these beautiful angel babies before they are laid to rest. I'm going to contact the children's hospital where most of our donations go, to see what I need to do to get all that set up. I'm ecstatic; it's what I've been wanting and meaning to add since the beginning, and they are just the sort of people who should be involved with that.

After we selected our pictures and finished chatting, the Keeneys met us out front by our car and gave us some of their extra tomato plants. Jeff even ran into the garage and came back to hand Rob a bag of potting soil to get them transplanted at our house. How nice is that?! Just one example of the kindness of these former strangers.

So, if you're in Hampton Roads and looking to have a wonderful experience with getting your family's pictures taken, call JL Keeney. You won't be disappointed.