Previous month:
November 2010
Next month:
January 2011

Entries from December 2010

Sweetness And Light


So one day last week, I had a pizza carry-out shop that took us into downtown Norfolk. Not a terribly rare occasion, but when I noticed that the Carolina Cupcakery was right next door to the pizza place, I got excited! I've been Facebook friends with them for a while, but I'd never made it into the shop. Well, that settled it - I had to go in and get some goodies for the fam. My friend Michelle of Gymbohannah fame - the first person to do a giveaway for me last summer - works there, too, so it was extra-special.


I wasn't planning on getting myself a cupcake, but then I spotted these carrot cake minis on top of the counter, and, well, I lurve me some carrot cake. So those came right home with me.


Michelle hooked me up with some yummy cupcakes for everyone else, too. They waited in the car while I picked them out, you see. It was a surprise.


Chloë asked for something Christmassy, so Michelle suggested this yummy peppermint candy cane treat. Chlo said it was "soooo gooooood!"


Rob's goody was a chocolate peanut butter number that I was a wee bit jealous of, because seriously? What flavor combination rocks harder?


Jack and Sophia didn't put in special requests, so I asked Michelle for something kids would like, and she chose Party Cake cupcakes. Yup, she was right.


Judging by the way the kids gobbled them right down, they were pretty scrumptious!


My wee cuppy-cake was oh, so good. I enjoyed it. Then I took a nap, and then I ate the other three. Seriously, I did! They were delicious. I mean, yeah, I got really sick on them, but um, it was worth it.


So, yeah. If you're ever in Ghent, in Norfolk, or way out on Carmichael way in Chesapeake, stop into the Carolina Cupcakery. You won't be disappointed.

Ask for Michelle.


On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas

Hmm. Somehow I'm only ending up on Christmas Eve here, and we still have Christmas Day. Did I miscount? Am I confused? It's entirely possible. But never mind that. I made it back from 7-11, and in record time. You're so relieved, I can tell. On with the post, then.

009 (5) - Copy

Aww. Jackie was asking where his "pillow pet" was for DAYS, ever since the girls got theirs, and he finally got his - dead last. Happy boy. ♥

010 (4) - Copy 

I know. You don't have to say it. 


011 (4)

This child has no excuse for bad hair!

012 (3) - Copy

Another little game I got with gift cards. Hm. We really oughtta clean up the living room so we can have a game day tomorrow, am I right? 

013 (2)

Everyone got two that day, because it was the last day and that's what was left. This little car launcher was so inexpensive, but it made him happy. I'm down with cheap thrills.

015 (2)

Sophia had her present (actually out of her stocking from my dad, because we were short one) open and half put-together before I had a chance to photo it. Silly goil.


This was Christmas Eve, when we traditionally open our stockings. Only the kids had them this year, and it was a last-minute addition when I picked up three party store shops that paid for them. Otherwise, we'd have had to do without, and that would have sucked big donkey balls. I'm all about the Christmas traditions. Growing up, we had one major tradition for Christmas: a big family fight. We're doing it completely different... but here I am going off on a big ol' tangent

So I'm gonna go grab my meds, and then figure out where I went wrong on the count, because I skipped a day, too. Ha. I know you don't care, but I have jes' a tech of the OCD, and it's gonna drive me crazy. So, yeah. Meds.


On The 'Leventh Day Of Christmas

Check out this bunch of hams:

002 (7)

Jack finally gets his game...

 004 (7)

I think I got this 3D puzzle with a gift card, too. Can't remember. For all these presents, I really didn't spend a whole lot out of pocket. Go me!

006 (6)

I know. More of the same. But wait, there's more!

007 (5)

That face, at last, was genuine. And no, we still haven't played a single one of these games the kids got. The living room is still a giant mess, and you know what? I'm tired. We'll get to 'em later this week. Swears.

One more Christmas post. It's the big one. I'm gonna go brave the ice for some Coke. If I don't come back, well... then it was a stupid thing to do!


On The Tenth Day Of Christmas

So we're snowed (and iced, more dangerously) in, and I can't get out for a Diet Coke. It's tragic. Guess you'll just have to put up with me sitting here and talking about pressies s'more. I'm almost done though, and then we can get onto other things. Yes?

001 (6)

I got this from a shop on Etsy, the name of which I can't remember at the moment, but the creator's name is Brooke. And she's very nice. When I was doing the giveaway blog this past summer, she sent me a "C" for Chloë and a gift certificate for something else. So I saved up that gift card and got this "S" for Sophia. The ribbons are for hair doodles. This lovely doodad now holds a special spot in the bathroom and is COVERED with all things hair accessory.

003 (6) 

More cars for Jack, always a hit.


004 (6)

Chloë reminded me that I'd given her this same lotion last year, which I didn't remember a-tall, so I was glad when she said she really liked it!

005 (6)

Yet another Monopoly. I didn't even plan to give her three... I guess I just wasn't paying attention when I doled out the gifts. She doesn't seem too bothered by the redundancy though, huh?

And that, my friends, was the 10th day of Christmas.



Dearly Beloved: Part The Third

Dear Christmas,

I didn't get pictures taken this year, and I didn't send out any cards. We didn't put up any decorations and only got about a quarter of the ornaments on the tree. I didn't bake a single cookie or place a speck of glitter anywhere. And yet, you still arrived, and behold, it was good. Thanks for showing up despite my sad lack of preparation.


Remembering The Reason


Dear Robby,

It's Mama. Listen, Honey, before you were born, Daddy was "Robby." And then you came... and went, and that's what we called you since before you were even conceived, so the epithet went with you. I never called Daddy that again, because it belonged to you. But it's been almost eight years, and I've suddenly started using it for your dad again. I can't explain why. I hope you don't mind.  I'm thinking we'll be cool as long as I don't start calling him "Baby A," though, right?




To the bitchy lady in the 7-11 parking lot,

Listen, Toots, I'm sorry that my face connected with your car door that night. I'm sure it really put you out that I smashed my cheek and forehead into the door you opened up all the way, right behind me, so that I had no choice but to run into it when I turned around. But, really? Your reaction - was that so necessary? "You're the one who ran into MY car!" My face has been swollen and bruised for over a week since then. Pretty sure your car's just fine. I'm thinkin' maybe a little compassion wouldn't kill you. Might crack that tight face, though. Just sayin'.


No I'm NOT Okay, Thanks


Dear Massive Amounts of Snow Sitting Outside My Front Door,

I seriously hate you. You're keeping me from my Diet Coke and chocolate. Go away!


Thanking God for Coffee


Dear Checking Account Balance,

Stop being so negative already. Think positive!


Broke as a Joke


Dear Readers,

You rock. You're awesome. All dozen of you. (I know, I'm loaded with fans!) I could use a little pick-me-up right now, so maybe leave a "hi" in the comments for me? I swear it will help.





On The Ninth Day Of Christmas

Finally in the home stretch...!


I absolutely hate this picture of Sophia. I guess I could have left it out, but then you might never know that I gave her a new toothbrush for Christmas, and well, that would just be awful.


I got this doll and puppy (can't remember what kind right now, but maybe someone will recognize her and tell us) with points from being a Nielsen household and scanning in everything we buy. I was going to use them for something else, but I knew she would like this better than whatever that was I wanted, and I was right. These two are always in sight since then! Sophia is a true doll lover.


The expression belies the true emotion, which was really happy. He was. A big 'yay.'


I think she was laughing here, about getting more hair stuff. I didn't know she was going to cut it off when I wrapped everything for her!


Ah, now I see, THIS is the second time she got a Monopoly game - the other was the first. My bad. But she was thrilled to get these card games after seeing them in my gift closet so long ago!

Sigh... do I have three more Christmas posts left in me? Not terribly much, but I suppose I can't stop now, can I? And leave you hanging? That would just be rude. Guess I'll go get me a cup of coffee, since we're too snowed in for a Diet Coke right now!






On The Eighth Day Of Christmas

Here we go again, for Day 8:

003 (5)

Chloë's been asking to shave her legs for a while now, but I haven't wanted to let her, because I don't want her to cut herself. So she got some Veet, which will be good for practice at first. 

004 (5)

More games, which the kids were excited about... but how funny is her hair? She's always doing silly stuff with it. My funny girl... ♥

005 (5)*

*Picture added for cuteness

 007 (4)

I picked up this bow-and-arrow set in Tennessee, too.  It wasn't expensive, and I knew he would like it. And that's all I have to say about that.

008 (4)

Of course, he immediately wanted to play with it, so Daddy showed him how. Daddy's good at it. Jack's okay. I suck. I'm actually good at 'real' archery, or at least I was in my 1990s gym classes. I'm no Geena Davis or anything, but I wouldn't stand in front of me when I'm packin', if I were me. Wait, I am.

010 (3) 
I started feeling badly for Chloë, who still had 'extra' presents in her pile, so when she opened a toiletry item, I let her open something else, too. She ended up with three different versions of Monopoly this year - this being the second - but it didn't dampen her enthusiasm. That girl is a lot like her Mama, emotionally. She feels everything so strongly, and when she's happy, she's ecstatic. Great, I think I just realized my 9-year-old may be bipolar, too. Moving swiftly along...

011 (3) 
Grandma (Rob's mom) sent a goodies for us, and we opened them that night, too. This was the first of two Hallmark recordable books, which Grandma 'read' into for the kids to listen to. (Ignore the grammar of that sentence, please!) She has sent two or three of them in the past, and they absolutely love it.

Another Hallmark 'listen' book, this time it was the story of the First Christmas. We listened to this on Christmas Eve again and then had our annual discussion of the birth of Jesus.


Jack was excited to get a book of his own, even though he's always grousing about getting books for presents. He's just a born complainer, though, because every time he gets a book, you'll find him hunkered down with it in a corner for three days straight. What a goose!


Lots more books. Grandma is the Book Grandma. And that's just the way we like it. Our shelves overfloweth!



I think they had these crafts finished that night, and they had a ball with them, of course. They could scarcely wait to rip open the packages and get going!


Miss Chloë, an avid reader, excited about more material


She got so many, the other two kids were starting to feel left out - until I explained that when they were old enough and could read well enough, they could read them, too! That satisfied them. And have I mentioned here that Sophia is a reader now, too? She's kicking butt and taking names in that department, yes, she is!


Little cell phone erasers for the crew - too cute!


My little poser showing off her annual Hallmark ornament. Grandma always sends them this time of year, and they're always trés appropriate for the recipient. This year, I got two: a red mixer, and a schoolhouse. I LOVED them!!!


All our Grandma goodies - thanks, Mom!!

Stay tuned for #9... 


On The Seventh Day Of Christmas

A little bonus: during our PA trip, the kids got to have a sleepover with their Aunt Stacey (my sister), who had Christmas presents for them to open during the visit. She sent me all the pictures, but for some reason, I can only access this one of a newly-trimmed Chloë:

@ Aunt Staceys

You just try and tell me she isn't freakin' cute!! I LOVE the hair. She looks so grown-up with it shorter like that. It was her idea. She couldn't stand the pain of me brushing out the snarls anymore, poor kid. Anyway, onto Day 7, when we were still on our PA trip:

Pa trip 144

I got this with a gift card, so basically for free. Jack keeps this mini-Simon in the car and plays it all the time. I like that, even if the beeps and buzzes startle me when he first starts going! (Speaking of which, how annoying is it when police sirens and horn beeps play on the radio? I always think it's for real. That should be against the rules!)


Pa trip 145

That poor kid got tween-age toothpaste that night. Next year, not so many toiletries. I promise, Chloë!

Pa trip 146 

The cutest little ragamuffin ever - hey, at least she's got clothes on for once! (Yes, she really is mostly-naked all the time. It's so hard to keep clothes on this wee nudist!)

Pa trip 149

I adore this expression. She was so excited to get her own pair of binoculars, after constantly pilfering Daddy's pair to look at everything and anything under the sun. I spotted these on an end rack in Walgreens while we were in Tennessee, and the price was right, so I snuck them in the cart when she wasn't looking. I couldn't wait to see her open them, but the wait was worth it. It's so cute now, to see her coming down the stairs when them looped around her neck.

More to come...!



On The Sixth Day Of Christmas

This day (7 December) was the first back on the road. This time, we were headed up to Pennsylvania, but we spent that first night in an awesome hotel in Richmond. I had packed presents especially with the trip in mind, and I'm glad I did:


Toy Story 3 DVD/Blu-Ray combo set for Chloë, so we watched that on the drive from Richmond to Hershey, PA. Well, they watched, and I listened. We'd seen in it in the theater in the summertime, so I was able to visualize. Good movie. Tearjerker. Have you seen it? 


Here's one of those pictures I was talking about, with Sophia's awesome reaction. This time, she opened the Blu-Ray/DVD combo of Tinkerbell's Great Fairy Rescue, which she had NO idea she was getting. (I got a kick-ass deal on both girls' DVD sets.) She love-love-loves the fairies, so she was overjoyed, as you can see.


It lasted a while. This picture cracks me up. Not attractive. Hee.


For Jack, I brought along a five-pack of Hot Wheels. It's not like he doesn't already have tons, but it's the sort of thing where you can always have more. I get it. It's like yarn.

Phew. Halfway done. More? I'm going to take a break. I need to get up and dance.



On The Fifth Day Of Christmas

007 (3)

This fell on 4 December, when we were due to go out of town again for one night, for a quickie hotel shop in a small town in northern North Carolina. So we did the Advent at home, but we brought the presents with us to the hotel. The kiddos liked that bit. (And I know you can see her ribs, but seriously, we feed her. Sophia never. stops. eating!)

010 (2) 

These little Whitman's samplers didn't fit in the Advent box, so I had them stashed and taped creatively all over the place. It was a great plan - except when I started losing track of them and had to start subbing in whichever one I could find that day, and that threw things even further off track... oh, it was great confusion. But in the end, they still got their junk fix, so I'm still the "Best Mom Ever" in my kids' world. What else matters?

011 (2)

Sweets for my Sweet Babboo


That night in the hotel, Sophia got to go first again. (Usually, it was decided by a 'test' question on something we've studied at home so far this year.) She got this little game, a round pie-shaped box filled with discussion topics for family dinners. I thought it would be fun, and she was excited about it, as you can see. When we got home the next day, somehow the box fell out of the van, and I didn't realize it until I'd driven over it. The cards were fine, but the box was destroyed, and she was PISSED at me. Have you ever seen a five-year-old really angry at their parent? It's pretty funny.


I think this was the "please don't let it be toothpaste" look.


Definitely not toothpaste! He'd been admiring these slingshots in one of the restaurants we visited in Tennessee, so I snagged one (and the necessary ammo) when he wasn't looking. He was so surprised, since I'd seemingly put my foot down on that one! Knock on wood, no one's been pegged in the forehead with a little wooden ballie... yet.


I had a gift card (well, a bunch of gift cards) for a store I don't frequent, so I finally decided to pounce when I saw they had games and toys on sale. When I saw this pink and purple Webkinz kitty, I knew he had to belong to Chloë. She. Whatever. I was right. She was ECSTATIC. This child is a major drama queen, so everything is always the "best ever" to her, but this one really was. Score!

Taking a break to grab some caffeination, and then I'll be back with Day Six.


On The Fourth Day Of Christmas

001 (4) 

The kids alternated whose job it was to open that day's Advent box. It was an important job. Thankfully, 24 is evenly divisible by 3, so everyone got an equal number of turns. Phew.

002 (4)

Uh-oh... what's this crap? More hair stuff? Ugh.

003 (4)

Luckily, Chloë is a professional, and she was able to whip out her best "I'm not disappointed" grin for Mom.

005 (4)

Jack has received no such training and couldn't even whip out a "my present sucks" smirk. The funny thing is, he ASKED for this toothbrush, but he was still disappointed. It didn't have wheels, after all. After a minute, though, he thought it was funny, and all was well.

006 (4)

Sophia thought it was pretty hysterical that she got toothpaste, and all three of their presents that day were "booby prize" type gifts. We all ended up having a good laugh about it. They can't all be winners!


On The Third Day Of Christmas

The suckiest thing happened, and I'm not sure I already blogged about it, so forgive me if you've heard this one. The new van has a DVD player in it, so we always carry the kids' DVD collection everywhere we go now. Well, I took them with us when we had the rental during the repairs, but I couldn't find them when it was time to turn the rental back in to Progressive. They were just ... gone. The whole three cases' worth just disappeared. The only thing I could figure out was that Rob had taken them into the house, thinking he was doing me a favor (not realizing it would actually drive me crazy, because I wouldn't be able to find them), so I finally gave up the search and turned in the vehicle. Well, he didn't. So even though I notified Progressive that they might still be in the rental car, I essentially gave away their extensive DVD collection that day. It pains me every time I think about it. Terribly sucky. Now I'm slowly working on rebuilding a collection for them - but man, oh man, have I been grateful for the library loaners when we've been traveling so much lately! I jumped on this Veggie Tales collection when a Christian website had the normally $75+ 10-DVD set on sale for about thirty bucks! I thought I'd be able to break that up into 10 individual presents for the kids (save some green, you know), so I was a little disappointed to find them without cases and packaged as below, but it worked out in the end. And we love Veggies. So without further ado, I present to you Day Three:


Bob and Larry really helped make our Pennsylvania trip a smooth one!


006 (3)

I know they aren't very exciting, but I always love to take "anticipation/opening" pictures. The moment before they find out what they've got is always fun for me. Sometimes it's anticlimactic, but this year, I think we worked it out, despite the financial struggle we're having at the mome.


008 (2)

After failing to find the Log Skidder in the previous day's package, Jack nailed it on Day Three. Happy, happy kid.

009 (2) 

Chloë did her usual squealy-screamy reaction when she found her fake Pillow Pet that day. She got a kitty. She loves kitties. (*understatement alert*)


Finally, that day, it was the First of December, so we started the Advent box, too. Unfortunately, my heart just hasn't really been in it this year, so we haven't even done most of the activities I filled in for each day. Fortunately (there's that game again), they get candies every day in the boxes, so their disappointment is quickly masked by the ensuing sugar high...



It pretty much always fell on Chloë to read the daily Advent activity. Jack had no interest, and Sophia couldn't read until very recently. (What's that? She can read NOW? Yes, she can! Sophia can read!! She deciphers new words every day and is thoroughly delighted with this newfound skill. I'm so stinking proud of her - and myself, a little bit, for helping her get there, too. Hee!)


I was going to say something obvious about their getting lollipops, but then I looked at the picture and was taken away by how beautiful these three people are. Am I right? You know I am. *gush*

Coming right up... Day Four!


On The Second Day of Christmas

Feel free to skip through these "days" if you're not interested in seeing the kids' presents, because cataloging them is pretty much all I'm going to accomplish here, I think!

001 (2)

Some of the faces in these Christmas photos will seem absolutely posed and contrived. They were. I entertain myself, what can I say? Chloë chose the biggest present in her pile this day. She went first.


002 (2)

Ooh, what is it, what is it, what is it??

003 (2)

I love her pose in this picture. I scored this telescope from for free with Swagbucks cash, too - whoo! It was really for all three of the kids, but I needed it in Chloë's pile. I'm so excited to finally have a telescope! I've wanted one forever. Next year, hopefully we'll add a microscope, too. Daddy took them out that night to look through it (prompting lots of jokes in the ensuing weeks about the rings and moons around Uranus), but we don't exactly live in the boonies, so... we'll have to figure out where to go.

004 (2)

I've had this Hot Wheels Monster Truck in my gift closet for ages! He knew about it, so I was glad he wasn't disappointed to get it, since you never know with that boy. Smiles are always real on Jack.

005 (2)

I got lots of (I think) good "reaction" pictures out of Sophia this Christmas season. This is not the best one - there are many more great ones to come - but it prompted me to remember how wonderful it is to have genuinely happy reactions out of the kids when they discovered what their present was. 'Tis truly better to give than to receive. 

006 (2)

Yeah, they wanted Pillow Pets (darn hotel TVs! They'd never have known about 'em otherwise), but I went the cheapy route with these Cuddlee Pets I picked up on the Tennessee trip. They don't know the difference, or if they do, they don't care, so it's all good. The kids take them everywhere we go now!


On The First Day Of Christmas

Our family tradition, which we skipped last year, is to do 12 days of Christmas, culminating with The Day Itself. (I know you're supposed to start on the 25th, but frankly, I can't wait that long, so we end on it instead.)

Also this year, since the kids no longer believe in Santa, I had to get creative with getting expected behavior out of them. Easy peasy, I just started in with the 12 days wicked early, and spaced them out every three days, in exchange for clean rooms. It worked great. The only downside is that it's now over, and I'll have to figure out a new way to keep those rooms clean. Believe you me, this is no small feat.

So, the first day:


The boy knew exactly which of his 12 presents was the one he wanted: the helicopter he'd picked out from after we went to the State Fair.  He wanted a tractor toy like he saw there, but when we got on the website, he found this and a log skidder that he absolutely "had" to have instead, so... here it is. He was very happy with this, of course.


Sophia went right for the biggest present in her pile, no surprise. She got a pink Razor scooter, which I'd gotten for free on with my Swagbucks rewards. (Got lots of those, as you'll see in the upcoming posts!) Unfortunately, their helmets don't fit anymore, so they haven't gotten a chance to ride it yet. I hope we can take care of that soon, because they're excited to try it out!


Chloë got lots of more "grown-up" toiletries and things this Christmas, so I often let her open a few little things at once. She picked small ones the first day, including this LipSmackers strawberry tube, over which she went unexpectedly gaga!


A little Secret, and some hair stuff... the first of lots of hair stuff. She got sick of it; it became a bit of a joke. We'd all crack up laughing when she opened yet another package for taking care of curls! 

Anyway, that's Day One. More to come!


Sunday Stealing: The Ninja Meme, Part Two

Link up here if you're playing along this week!

26. Whose responses to Stealing do you want to read the most?

To be perfectly honest, I don't visit the other Thieves most of the time, lately. I just... don't have the time. Honestly. Or else I would. I just like to DO it.

27. What color shirt are you wearing?

Navy blue. I'm wearing the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center shirt Rob gave me for our first married Christmas.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

Sure. I like the slipping and sliding around that other people hate.

29. Can you whistle?


30. Favorite colors(s)?

I like all colors, but my biggest best is green. Sea greenish-blue, really, if I can be more precise, but good ol' fashioned green-green is good, too.

31. Could you be a pirate?


32. What songs do you sing in the shower?

I sing whatever's on my mind. I LOVE singing in the shower - always great acoustics in there! When I grew up, I always sang the "Flintstones vitamins" commercial in a little girl voice.

33. Favorite girls name?

My daughters' names are my favorite: Chloë Raine and Sophia Lorelei

34. Favorite boy’s name?

I like one of my sons' names better than the other: Jack River. If I had another boy, I'd lobby for either Jasper James or Sebastian James. Sophia would have been one of those, if I recall correctly.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?

Nothing. I had my hands in there a second ago, though.

36. Last thing that made you laugh?

I know it was Sophia, as it often is, but for the life of me I can't remember what that crazy kid did this time.

37. Best bed sheets as a child?

I can't remember what I had when we lived in the Hudson Valley, but when we moved up to outside Syracuse, I had Care Bears sheets. Later on, I had rainbow hearts, in both 'regular' and flannel. I liked the flannel best. They were so warm...

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?

The worst injuries I've sustained have been emotional ones. I'm a very sensitive girl.

39. Do you love where you live?

I'm quite fond of it, but I like moving to new places. I'll be ready to leave here when it's time.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? How many HDTVs?

One. None. We don't have TV service, anyway. Thank the internet gods for Netflix!

41. Who is your loudest friend?

Shana, hands down. Although "friend" may not be the best word anymore, I'm afraid.

42. How many dogs do you have?

We don't have any dogs. I am a dog person. Good thing I've become a cat person, too, because we have a couple of them. Still, I miss having a poochy or two around to liven things up!

43. Does anyone have a crush on you?

I think the guy who works overnights at 7-11 would do bad things to me if he could! :O

44. What are the most fun things you ever did?

Hmm. SCUBA diving is hard to beat. The college years were fantastic, in most respects. Eloping was awesome. It's hard to beat being a mama to these three rascals, though. Even when it sucks, it's still pretty great.

45. What are your favorite books?

My long-standing favorite has been Evergreen by Belva Plain. I hadn't seen it since I was 17 or so, which is why it was funny to find it on the bookshelf at the loony bin earlier this week... Any book that makes me laugh out loud and/or cry my eyes out, or especially both, is a winner for me.

47. Favorite Team?

Football. Miami Hurricanes, of course!

48. What songs do you want played at your funeral?

Do you play songs at funerals, really? I don't really need a funeral. Stuff me, stand me up, and let people dance with my corpse. Have a party. That's really weird, isn't it? Maybe not the whole corpse part. But have a party. Celebrate my time here. Tell fun stories. Leave the shitty ones out.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM?

Sleeping, for once. I've been doing that a lot lately. The past few months catching up with me, perhaps?

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?

Holy crap, is it really two in the afternoon???!!!

Have a great week, y'all. Merry Christmas!!


Saturday 9: How's It Gonna Be?


Link up here if you're playing along this week!

1. How's it gonna be in 2011 for you?

Well, I'm not clairvoyant, but hopefully it will be better than 2010, which has sucked pretty bad for us.

2. What is your idea of a perfect romantic evening?

Maybe doing something fun and adventurous that we haven't done before, or at least in a while, along with a cozy dinner by candlelight. Anything else is icing.

3. What strategy would you implement to deal with drug abuse in today's world?

WTF? Do I look like Nancy Reagan to you? I don't have the first clue.

4. What thing about your family are you least proud of?

Rob and I both have pretty serious potty mouths, and it's rubbing off on the kids. Not very cool.

5. What part of the holidays are you really looking forward to?

Not any one thing. I just love all of it.

6. Who is the last person you high-fived? Why?

I'm sure it was Sophia, my 5yo dd. She's forever asking me to do the, "Gimme five, up high, on the side, on the other side, down low, too slow" thing with her - and she beats me half the time!

7. Have you ever made out at a drive-in?

Yeah, I've done that. And I'd do it again. Nothing like a drive-in movie... I remember when we were really little kids, my parents would take us to the drive-in, and we'd get a bunch of candy in the backseat of the station wagon, and eventually we'd fall asleep. There were always lots of pillows and blankets. I haven't thought about that in forever.

8. If you had only enough energy left in you for one last smile, who would you give it to?

Someone who needed one really badly, too.

9. Tell us about that time when you were the “life of the party”.

I'm like that almost every month at Bunco. I get hyper, stupid, outrageous. But I amuse myself and sometimes other people, too.


Field Trip: Reptiles

Reptiles 001

There was a notice on one of my online homeschool groups about an upcoming field trip about Reptiles. Since we were due to be studying about reptiles at the same time, I really wanted to take my kids to it... but it was more expensive than I could afford to spend, and I couldn't justify the strain on our budget. Well, a friend of mine heard about this, and she wanted the kids to be able to go. She supports our move to homeschooling and a better educational experience, so... she gave me the money to take them. Thank you, P. I am more grateful for that than I can ever express. So, at last, here is our field trip to the Reptile program at the Virginia Aquarium last month!


Reptiles 002

We arrived early, so we had a chance to look around at some of the snake exhibits. This guy was posed perfectly... of course, that was the point, since he was dead and stuffed. Heh.

Reptiles 003 

Another stuffy-wuff. They didn't care. I tried to tell them they weren't alive, but they were all still pretty glad the critters were behind glass.


Reptiles 009 

Once the classroom opened up, we wandered in and signed up the kids. They were given reptile papers to color while we waited for everyone else. I was hoping there would be more to it than that. Thankfully, there was. Phew!


Reptiles 004

The first thing they did, after everyone arrived, was sit and listen to a story read by Miss Jenny, the field trip coordinator. I forget the name of it, but you may know it - it's about a monkey who outwits a bunch of crocodiles wanting to eat him. The field trip was designed for ages up to 7, I think, so they wanted me to stay in case Chloë got bored. Since she can be a pretty immature 9-er, I wasn't too worried about that. Besides, I needed pictures for the blog, right?

Reptiles 005

I can't remember the other lady's name, the one who was the "expert" for this excursion, so let's just name her Miss Laura. I know that's not right, but right now, I don't care! Anyway, after story time, she took over and told the kids what they were going to do next, which involved a romp outside. Of course, that made her an instant hit!

Reptiles 006

They talked about reptiles being cold-blooded and how they would adjust to hot and cold temperatures outside. Then Miss Laura gave them each a little rubber snake to take outside, and she would tell them what temperature to imagine it was, and they would find a place for their snakes to be comfortable in that temperature.


Reptiles 007

Sophia's snake, of which she took very good care. 


Reptiles 008

At last, the antsy chirren were brought outdoors into the crisp Fall air. They forgot, for just a moment, what they were supposed to be doing, but Miss Laura and Miss Jenny quickly got them back under control. (Maybe I could use them for my Daisy troop?) 

Reptiles 011

Sophia quickly found a place to hide her snake from the cold weather - under a pile of brightly-colored yellow leaves. She collected all those leaves and matched up just the ride shades. After all, her snake needed designer digs.


Reptiles 014 

Chloë was more frustrated by this task. At first, she wanted a unique hiding place for her snake, and then, she couldn't remember where she put him! Oops.

Reptiles 015

Jack had fun with this, too. He did a great job. And he made friends with some other boys, which was a nice bonus for a day out.


Reptiles 016

After that exercise, the children were rounded back up and brought inside again. There, Miss Laura (what WAS her name?!) did a little show-and-tell about some reptiles she had brought. I can't remember what kind of turtle Charlie was, but he sure was a cutie. The kids all crowded around to get their hands on him, but Miss Laura was smart and didn't let go!

Reptiles 018

Everyone did get a chance to touch Charlie, though.

Reptiles 019

The corn snake came out next. We had met him once before, at a previous visit to the aquarium, but his name escapes me at the moment, too. Another pass-around ensued.

Reptiles 020

I can't remember whether any other reptiles were shown, but finally, Miss Laura got out a fat bullfrog and asked the kids if he was a reptile. Mine had already studied amphibians, so right away, they knew that he wasn't. Yes! 

I guess my camera must have died after that, because I don't have any more pictures.

Miss Laura showed them snake poop and shedded snake skin, and then they did another fun thing: Each child was given a length of pantyhose, just the leg part with both ends open. They had to pretend their arm was a snake, and they had to get the hose off their arm without using their other hand. They were supposed to find all kinds of different surfaces in the room and rub the "skin" off, finding which textures worked best. They really loved that and did it over and over again! 

In the end, it was a great outing for my kiddos, and a fun way to supplement what we'd been learning at home. 

(Not sure I'll post more tonight... I'm tired now. But I'll catch up more soon.)




At long last (only a month overdue, but who's counting?), here are some pictures (and verbiage - you can't escape) from our ill-fated trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  When we stopped at a rest stop somewhere in North Carolina, Jack and Chloë ran to go pee, and Sophia ran to climb this tree! She was pretty cute, so of course, rather than scold her, I had to grab Ye Olde Trusty Camera.


She really is a cute little tot, wide-set eyes notwithstanding.  (I know the spacing of them makes her look cross-eyed at times, a fact which worried her pediatrician for a period of time... but like Chloë and the whole Down Syndrome thing, Mama knew she was all right.)

So if you've seen the email I sent out - which I've been accused of cowardice for not posting publicly, by the former friend mentioned therein - you know it wasn't a particularly terrific trip. Several people who found out she was going with me were actually quite surprised that I had asked her, but the truth is, since Rob couldn't come, I just didn't want to be alone on the drive down. I don't regret asking her, because it really showed me her true colors and helped me make a decision that had been begging to be made for ages. And truthfully, the real reason I didn't (and won't, despite her attempts to goad me) post it here for all to see is the Golden Rule: I wouldn't like all that stuff, even if true, said about me in front of anyone and everyone, and so I gave her the same regard. Scout's honor. I did say anyone could ask me for the email, though, and I mean it. Anyone.

But enough about all that, yes? I'll tell you about the trip without going back into that, as much as I possibly can.

The first day was a Friday, and we left our house early in the morning. I didn't want to be driving in an unknown area in the dark. I don't see well in the dark. Alas, I am not a cat. But Stephanie wasn't ready, so we had to stick around for a while for her to finish packing and whatnot, and then there were a multitude of stops for this, that, and the other. So a dozen hours later, we finally arrived at our resort. I can't tell you the name, because I was there to evaluate it, but I can tell you that it did not live up to our expectations. She and I both agreed that if we were actually paying for this place ourselves, we would have been highly disappointed!


I actually don't remember what's going on in this picture, but at least it gives you a glimpse at our accommodations. They weren't shabby or anything. They just weren't... amazing. Or very big.  (And see those jeans on Jack? They fit great there... but now they're too small. Along with every last pair of pants in his closet. I suppose I should be grateful that he had a bit of a growth spurt for the first time in his life... but did he have do it the night before our most recent road trip to Pennsylvania?!)


That first night was mostly uneventful, other than we were all starving and it took me forever to actually order pizza.  Anyway. The next day, aside from the stuff we had to do for my job, we went to the pool. Pools. There was an outdoor hot tub, pictured above, an outdoor pool, and an indoor pool and baby pool. That was nice, and so was the weather, so we went to all of them!


This little fishy is always complaining about not wanting to swim - but then he's always the last one to get out!


And Sophia continues her progress in swimming. She's no Ian Thorpe, but she gets from A to B without touching anything. I gotta get the older two treading water, at least!


Chloë's usually pretty content to dance in the water. And on land. Everywhere. Little Miss Twinkletoes!


I had pictures of both Jack and Sophia running up and down the length of the pool on the little ledge that was in there, but none of the ones of Jack turned out. Rats. So you'll be forced to look at too many of Soap, and not enough of him. ;)


Pretty self-explanatory. She's definitely got spirit, that kid!


After a while, it got too chilly to stay outside anymore, and the kids were sick of the hot tub (imagine!), so we went inside to swim. I was frozen through, so I didn't join them in the water.  It does look inviting now, though...


I have a bunch of pictures of Luke and his mother playing in the pools, but I haven't sent them to her yet. I'm not in the mood to be that nice. So for now, until I delete them, they live on my hard drive. Hope it doesn't crash. Here's one of my girlies playing with him.


Eventually, before giving up swimming for the day, everyone wandered back outside to the hot tub.  That sounds good right about now, now that our furnace has given up the ghost!


We were able to eat pretty cheaply during the trip, partly because of mystery shops I'd taken to feed us, partly because there was a full kitchen in our suite, and partly because I'd found a 90% off code for some certificates and matched them up to a couple restaurants there in Pigeon Forge and in Gatlinburg. 

Speaking of which, WOW. Both towns were a veritable spectacle of lights, everywhere you looked. Especially Pigeon Forge. I'm not "country," so I didn't quite fit in there, I'm afraid.  I will say this: Whoever named Panama City Beach, Florida, the "Redneck Riviera" must not have ever been to Pigeon Forge! My word.

Tennessee 001 

There were shows upon shows to see in Pigeon Forge, but the one I really wanted to take us to (Dixie Stampede) was not only out of our price range, but booked solid during our trip. So I found us a decent deal on tickets to the Comedy Barn, and we all went to that, instead. It was a good time. Funny.  We laughed a great deal.

Tennessee 003

Near the end of the show, all the kids were called onstage to sing and have fun. Can you pick out my three? (Hint: they're three of the shortest!) So I'm glad we went to the show, except for a weird part at the very end where they got all serious and told everyone to accept God into their lives and say their prayers, etc. Not as big a turn-off for me as it would be for some of you, but I still found it oddly out of place. But considering where I was in the world, maybe not. I don't know.

That's all I've got for "the good side" of our TN trip! 

Stay tuned, I'll post more tonight.


Full Disclosure

When we got to our hotel in Richmond (which was ab-fab, btw), there was a full-length mirror in the room. When I walked by it, I thought I looked pretty good, so I grabbed my iPhone to take a picture of The Self:


Pretty smokin', right? ;) But what you can't see in this picture, and what people never believe me, is that the clothes are hiding a multitude of sins. I'm not ready to strip down to my skivvies for the blog yet - maybe after my plastics, I'll grin and bear it! - but after taking off the jacket, I offer you Exhibit A:


Ugh. Look at that belly. It's even worse naked. Totally not hot. It's not just there, but that's the most obvious problem. I have a LOT of work to do, under the knife, if I don't want to continue looking like a human Salvador Dalì painting!


Unexpected Disappointment


Thanks for any prayers and positive thoughts you sent my way regarding the trip north and having to see my ex-stepmother after all these years. In the end, I never saw her, because she canceled her trip due to bad weather in Syracuse.

I had been worrying needlessly, after all.

But a surprising feeling surfaced: disappointment.  Why? I wasn't really excited to see her. Definitely not.

So I think I can attribute that feeling to two distinct things I was actually looking forward to: getting to show off my beautiful, funny, silly, polite, amazing, wonderful children to someone who might not have expected me to have such beautiful, funny, silly, polite, amazing, wonderful children, and also, showing off myself.

For one thing, I'm a physical stunner now. I mean, I am almost a freak of nature, I'm so strikingly beautiful these days. Okay, okay, I jest, but at 34, I do think I look better now (thanks to the hands of Dr. Thomas Clark and his bariatric surgery team, of course) than I did in high school, so there is that.

But also, I had been working up the nerve for days to go in there and NOT CRY, and I was sure I was going to be able to do just that. At least until I went, shaking and inwardly freaking, back to my car and drove away. Then I could fall apart. But in the moment, in front of her? I was bound and determined not to shrink down to a tenth of my size, shrivel into a puny little pile of pathetic, and sob. I was going to DO it. And I wanted to show THAT off. My adult-ness. My I'm-over-you-ness (even if I'm not). My strength.

And yeah, my hot bod, too.


Sunday Stealing: The Ninja Meme, Part The First

Thank goodness this really isn't about ninjas. I have no experience as one.

1. What do you add to your coffee?

A ton of Splenda and a wicked lot of cream. Preferably flavored. (Hazelnut? Yes, please!)

2. What are you reading now?

Well, this. And nothing else.  I don't get to do a whole lot of book-readin' these days.

3. Do you own a gun?

Psht. Not just no, but hell no. People with suicidal tendencies aren't too great with owning deadly devices. It's a bit of a problem, as my husband's a gun enthusiast, but... we're talking about my life, here!

4. Are you registered to vote?

Absolutely. And you oughtta be, too!

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?

I used to, but I don't think I do anymore. I was raised not going to doctors, so they used to scare the living tar out of me! I think I've settled down about that, now.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?

GROSS. (Although, gotta admit, the Boar's Head ones taste pretty damn good, from what I recall before I went veggie!)

7. Favorite Christmas song?

The First Noel. It reminds me so much of my mommy.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

Orange juice, but I can't anymore. I'll steal a sip of someone else's now and then, though.

9. Can you do push ups?

I don't know. I don't try. I can hardly think of a more boring activity. Oh wait, there's watching golf on TV...

10. What was the name of your first boyfriend?

Matthew Buffalo - no lie! I was five. Hey, he was cute!

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelery?

My wedding, engagement and anniversary rings are all pretty much tied for that race.

12. Favorite hobby?

Screaming at my kids to STFU when I'm on the phone.  Oh, wait, you said "favorite hobby," not "thing you constantly do that drives you crazy." So... it would be knitting, then. Haven't had much time for that lately, either.

13. Do you work with people who idolize you?

Hell yeah! I work alone.

14. Do you have ADD?

No, but I have OCD and some other letters.

15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself?

I'm very lazy. I wish I had more motivation to get up and do shit all the time. I mean, I *do* get up and do shit all the time, but not the shit I really oughtta be doing.

16. What’s your middle name?

Ann. Booooring.

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment.

I don't typically name my thoughts, but I'll list a few for ya:

1. There's someone who shares my middle name, and I dislike her very intensely right now. Judging from the way she's acting, I'm fairly sure it's mutual, and I'm rather amused by that.

2. It's nearly 1 AM, and my kids are still awake. At least 2/3 of them are. I wish I hadn't let them nap all the way home in the car this evening.

3. What's to eat around here??

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday.

1. A very nice hotel room near Philly (I bough it, but I didn't PAY for it...)

2. A fish-and-chips dinner at that hotel, which I quite enjoyed.

3. A thousand Diet Cokes. Roughly.

19. Name 3 beverages you regularly drink.

1. Diet Coke on the rocks.

2. Diet Coke off the rocks.

3. Diet Coke with melted rocks.

20. Current worry right now?

What lessons we're going to work on in the ol' homeschool tomorrow. I'm tired and have precious little planned for this upcoming week.

21. What side do you dress to?

Dude, I'm a chick.  Most guys seem to go left, and I know because I look.

22. Favorite place to be?

Wherever the hubs is, even though he aggravates the snot out of me!

23. How did you bring in the New Year?

You're asking me this on December 12th? Really? Go suck a lemon.

24. Where would you like to go?

Jupiter. Seriously. But I'd settle for Mars.

25. Name three people who will see today.

See what? Just, see? Well, everyone but Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles (wait, he's dead), and ... the Blind Boys of Alabama. Those guys are good, by the way.

Yes, I do amuse myself.



Lately, I've been wearing make-up again (I hadn't for a long time), and Chloë asked me why. I told her I just feel like it, which is the truth, but after these taking these before-and-after pictures just now, I'm doing it for another reason: I am a scary woman without it! I'm thinking of Charlize Theron in Monster... But don't take my word for it; see for yourself:


Didja run away screaming?? Well, I guess you wouldn't be here reading if you had. Here, I'll leave you with a much more eye-pleasing pair of faces from last night:


Ahh, now, that's more like it...




Lord, Give Me Strength


I should not be here. We are leaving on another 5-night journey tomorrow, this time to the north. I have packed the clothes and toiletries (the upstairs stuff), but none of the downstairs stuff (laptop, shop folder, and a trillion other little things that will make or break my trip - depending whether I remember them!)

So that last post was fun, huh? Quite a few of you wanted the dirt. I admit, while it felt good just to get it all out, it felt even better to have all of you agreeing with me. So thanks for that!

Anyway. I am a little nuts (okay, a lot), but I accepted a bar shop for a meager bonus the other night. Why? Because apparently I wanted to drive an extra 10-12 hours, depending on the routes I take, to see my sister.

Huh, you say?

Let me 'splain you:

After we depart from the resort in Hershey on Friday, we're supposed to do another hotel shop in Mansfield, PA. Welp, the same company that has me doing that hotel called me and asked me if I would do a bar shop they had available in the same hotel.

"Uh... I'm a mother traveling alone with three children," I informed them.

"Please, please?" they begged. (I'm paraphrasing. I do that.) "We'll give you barely enough of a bonus to make it worth your while, but hey, another shop! And you know you can't say 'no'!"

They're right. I can't. The only shops I have turned down involved evaluating, among other things: Catholic church services, funeral services, and McDonald's. (I'm not supposed to tell you what companies have mystery shopping services, but since I've never done the McDonald's ones, and it's pretty obvious that they would have such a service, I feel pretty safe here.)

Anyway. What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, the bar. My sister. I figured, if I'm in northern PA, I can't be too far from where Stacey lives, across the border in New York. I thought it was maybe a two-hour drive. Compared to the dozens of hours I've put in behind the wheel lately, that's a drop in the hat. So, I told the scheduler I'd ask her.

I called her at work. She was delighted to accept. We saw each other last in the summer of '09, which was hardly an eternity ago. But back then, I was only about halfway through my weight loss journey, and she's been dying to see me at goal. (I'm actually below goal, which I like to remind myself about 30-hundred times a day.) (I have a five-year-old, which is why I say numbers like "30-hundred.")

What was I talking about, again? This post is all over the place. Cripes.

Oh yeah, so of course, Stacey wanted to watch the kids for me. She thought I was nuts - and we all agree, I am - for driving that far out of my way (it's actually a THREE-hour drive each way!) for a silly assignment - but deep down (okay, mostly right on the surface), I mostly accepted so I could see my sister, and so my kids could see their cousins!

In the end, we've agreed that I'll drop the kids off on Friday night (and get the girls' and my hair cut in the process), drive back and do the bar shop, and pick them back up on Saturday morning before she leaves for work. At nine. Eek. I just realized I'll definitely be pulling an all-nighter that night, fo' sho'!

The only catch is ... a big one.

It's the birthday weekend of my niece, Karen, so... the ex-stepmother, with whom Stacey maintains a close relationship (no comment from me on that), will be there.


So if you could all think of me Friday night and Saturday morning, when I'll be encountering her, I would appreciate it. Send me ***be strong*** vibes. It's going to take everything I have to put on my big-girl pannies and walk in there, like the 34-year-old grown woman that I am, maybe even smile, and LEAVE my CHILDREN overnight in her presence... and not walk out shaking, crying, panic-attacking, and generally behaving like a very small child having the worst time in her life.

Hold me. I'm skeered.


P.S. When I get back, I promise, I'll tell you all about that trip, and the South Carolina one, and the good stuff that happened in Tennessee - yes, there was some! - and what we've been up to in homeschooling, and our Christmas so far (we've started the presents early!), and whatever else you want to know. I'm an open book. Just ask!