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Aloha Friday

(For some reason, Typepad isn't letting me add pictures to posts right now, darn it. Argh...)

If you've got a good question today, link up here!

I have two questions for you this week. They are:

What's your favorite kind of cake?


What's your favorite dessert?

Since I've started You Take The Cake!, I am really interested in your answers.

Personally, I can't stand frosting and don't really care for cake, but give me some yummy NY-style cheesecake, like the kind I'm selling, and you've got a friend for life!


Friday Fragments

Link up here if you're fragmenting today. I sure am, which is why I'm back after a long absence.

I can't post any pictures, so no cool logo to add. Sorry Mrs.4444. Typepad is being a buttdart.

So if you've read this post of mine, which you probably haven't if you're coming from Half Past Kissin' Time, then you know I'm struggling with Bipolar Disorder.

I'm really struggling this week. It has been bad. I'm pretty non-functional at the moment. Not because of the depression. Because of the meds. I just can't seem to be "normal," which I know is not a reality, for me or for anyone else, but I can't seem to ... function. Well. It sucks.

I'm sorry for complaining, but it's been a really hard week for me, and I needed to say so. And I'm starting to worry - not for the first time - that there's more going on than BPD. Like, am I schizo? I don't know, but I doubt that... I just feel like, because of what I went through with TBFH (aka, my former stepmother, growing up), I have lots of crazy to which to look forward. It wouldn't surprise me if I developed split personalities or something.

Geez. This is not an uplifting post, is it? I'll work on that.

If we're Facebook friends, then you may know I've started a dessert business, as of Monday.

It's called You Take The Cake!, and it's going pretty well. I haven't officially sold any cakes yet, but I do have half-a-dozen orders for future desserts, and some other leads for more.

It's fun, I love it, and I am hopeful that it will help generate some much-needed income for this po' family.

So if you're in the Hampton Roads area, keep me in mind, please! And if you're not, "like" us on Facebook and stuff. That would be cool. Thanks.

Well, that's pretty much all I've got going on, since I'm non-functional. Crap. I thought I had more stuff to say.


Have a good weekend.


Thrifting On A Monday Evenin'

Chkd thrift 
So, Mondays are 20% off for military members at the CHKD Thrift Stores here in Hampton Roads, and I had some money in the Paypal account, and I have a new small business venture brewing... so we went to have a look-see at the goods today while Chloë was in her Tappy-Tap class. I got a bunch of shit. Wanna see more?  Okay, good, because I'm about to tell you anyway.

I like to go to the one on the Boulevard, because they always have good stuff. Plus, that's the only one I've ever been to, because it's right near dance class.

Here's what I picked up:


None of the kids have ANY light in their rooms, so I found them each a lamp. There are no overhead fixtures in the kids' rooms, and the lamps they have had in the past are kaput, so they can never be in their rooms at night. Except to sleep, but not to DO anything. Chloë, especially, hates that, because she likes to read in bed. Anyway, blah blah blah, here's the lamp that Jack claimed. It works, and for $2.38, I was delighted to find it. (All prices given in this post include the discount.)


These are marked $2.98, but I wrote down $1.98 (so $1.58 with discount), so now I'm not sure which it was. There might have been a tag that I pulled off, but I can't remember. Either way, the girls were happy with their new (working) pink lamps! Now to find shades...


$2.38 for this leafy serving tray, which is super-sturdy, if not excessively floral. But I took off the leaf garland to Freecycle, and this is what I'm left with:


Much better, I think. I plan to get lots of use out of this. Not bad for $2.38!



Another really sturdy tray I'll use frequently, for $3.18. Should I spray paint it? I haven't decided.


Now, for $2.38, this was an AWESOME find!!! I definitely need one of these for my new venture, decorating cakes, pies, cookies and other treats. (I haven't come up with a name for it yet - any ideas??) It's really strong and sturdy, so I'm very happy to have found it.


This teeny little gold basket was a find for 22¢! Can you guess for what I'll use it?


It'll be a business card holder! I think it's so cute. And by the way, that's one of my BFFs, Erin, who is a new realtor with Coldwell Banker! (She's out of Central NY, but she can refer you locally, too.)


I love interesting candles and candleholders, and this one was only 62¢, so I snatched it right up!


I got these beeswax candles online for a steal a while ago, and they fit right in there just so. We burnt them halfway down tonight, which has nothing to do with anything, so moving right along...


I love, love, love handpainted artisan pottery, so I grabbed this bowl right away when I saw it. I mean, I'm guessing it's handpainted artisan pottery. It doesn't say "Made in China" anywhere, so your guess is as good as mine.


And then, on closer inspection, I noticed the holes - so I think it's a handpainted, artisanal colander, which is muy cool, in my opinion. Isn't it? Muy cool? And for 78¢, no less! Woot!



This very heavy silver charger plate was only $3.18, and I'll probably use it for the cake business, too. A little polish, and it'll be fantàstico!


We have two of these, a four-cup one and a one-cupper, and I'm forever wishing we had more. $2.38 for this one!


Just 78¢ for this heart-shaped bud vase, which I really didn't need for anything other than that it made me happy.


This little wooden bookshelf, which is also quite strong and sturdy, was only $1.26! Awesome find!


Together with this little wicker magazine holder, which I picked up for $1.58, I was able to reorganize the top shelf of our very messy baker's rack:


It's a work in progress, as we have LOTS more cookbooks and cooking magazines than this, but it's a great start. I didn't take a 'before' picture, which I should have, but it looked much worse than this, which is the shelf below it:


See what I mean? Organization of the recipe-stuffs must happen. Soon.


This is not thrift store-related at ALL, but I found it too cute not to share. Jack got this little truck at our friend JR's birthday party last Wednesday, and the girls put a pistachio in the front loader while I was busy taking pictures of the thrifted goods. Too funny! 


Not a terribly exciting find, but for $2.35, I got 30 kid hangers that I rilly, rilly needed. Jack wasn't thrilled about the colors, but really? They're hangers. Who cares?!



Remember how I gave away the kids' ENTIRE awesome DVD collection by accident last fall? I'm still working on replenishing it, so when they asked for a few movies today, I easily relented. Three of them were $1.58 each, and the fourth was only $1.26. Not bad, I think.


Now this, this find really excites me, because of the new cakey venture: A Nordic Ware caterpillar cakelette pan, which I found for sale online for anwhere from $20-40, for only $3.18, in brand-freakin'-new condition! Squeee!!


I just happened by these ties and found these two for 78¢ each, so I grabbed them up for Rob, who can always use more ties. I figured if he didn't like them, I could cut them up and use the silk for egg-dyeing or whatever else, right?


Freezey pop thingies for just 62¢! *Grab*



I have no pantyhose that fit these days, so I snagged the three pairs they had in my size for just $1.58 each. I rarely wear hose, just once in a blue moon, but the price was right.


I have one of these metal-and-rattan-type tribal candle holders already, so when I found this one for only 78¢, I immediately knew it had to come home with me. I just love these. Love!


See? New and old, together. Just one more, and I'll have myself a little collection.


I love this camel bag from Nine West SO much, and I've been wanting a backpack-type purse thing for centuries. It's marked $69, but I only paid $3.18 for it. Score!

And last, but certainly not least:


I found this xoxo backpack for Chloë for $3.98, knowing she would absolutely LOVE it. Yes, it was the most expensive thing I picked up today, but she went through a lot getting her quad helix appliance on at the dentist today (and three other recent visits), and she's in a lot of pain, and she's had a hard time in general of late, so I wanted to get her a little treat. I can't find it online, but my searches indicate it would normally be in the $35-40 range, so it was a good deal. And brand-new quality, too!

Well, that's the end. I purposely stayed away from the clothes, because I knew I'd go crazy if I did, and I want to make a list of what we actually NEED instead of just getting whatever (good stuff) I could find.

Leave me a comment with your favorite of my CHKD thrifting finds today, please! And if you have a name suggestion for my cake business, leave that, too.

Thanks. ;D


Obligatory Egg-Decorating Photos


I didn't want to do the same-ol', same-ol' egg-dyeing techniques this year, because I get craftention deficit disorder. In other words, boooooring! (No offense. I'll probably get the Paas kit and do the same-ol' next year. But THIS year, I was ambitious.)

I've been wanting to blow out eggs for years, for whatever reason (I have no good one, other than just to say I did it and move on), so that's where I started out. Thanks to this article on Martha's site (hey, I like the woman, leave me alone), I succeeded on my second egg. And about every other egg thereafter, for about a dozen and a half eggs. I broke a lot!


But that's okay, breaking some, because I already had planned to do this with those eggs. (I saw this idea in either Family Fun or Martha Stewart Living magazine, because I am really not that creative.) So, no harm, no foul. The one thing I will say is that it's impossible to keep the blown-out eggs submerged in their dye baths without holding them down, so enlist the kids for help with that while you're busy blowing out (or breaking) the next egg or two. It works well when you have three eager kids wanting to help.


When my nasal syringe developed a rather alarmingly large hole in the side, I was forced to abandon egg-blowing and move on to silk tie-dyeing instead. (I tried to blow out the eggs myself, but I nearly gave myself an aneurysm or a brain embolism or something, so bad idea.) This is another technique I've been wanting to try for at least a handful of years, so I sent Rob out to the thrift store to grab a few ties, and being the smarty that he is, he chose four that he would actually wear if I didn't like them. (I did forget to tell him to get silk ties, which is key, but he managed to get four 100% silkies anyway. Yee-haw.)

I asked him to get flower pots and egg cups at the thrift store as well, but he was unlucky there. Darn. I'd love a cool collection of egg cups, but I only ever think of it every year on Easter Eve.

Anyway. Moving on...


This mottled look is what I got when I opened the silk packages of eggs, rather than the vivid, darkly-colored ones that I expected from the tie pattern I chose first. I thought maybe I didn't boil them long enough, or add enough vinegar, but it was pretty much the same with the second batch:


I guess, in retrospect, it's a pretty cool effect, but I live my life in living color, and I was disappointed by the muted hues at the time. Rob was underwhelmed by the results, too. We probably won't try this again, but at least I can say I've done it - and he's got two new ties for his troubles. (As you can see, I threw a few of the eggs in the dye baths, just to see how they would look. Meh.)



The third technique was to use rubber bands as a "mask," just to see if it would work. It did, and it was cool, but I only did one set of each color before I moved on from that. By the way, I did shine my eggs with vegetable oil, if you're wondering why they're so glossy. Works great.

{I just remembered and thought I'd share: Sophia was in charge of carrying in the silk- and cut-up curtain-wrapped eggs to the kitchen and bringing me fresh eggs to the craft room to wrap. Well, I gave her two at a time once, and en route to the kitchen, she got the bright idea to clap them together. Well, they weren't cooked. Ha. Um, she didn't do that again!} 


The kids had long since abandoned the egg-dyeing processes for Nova-produced documentaries on Netflix by that point, so left to my own devices, I didn't want to do much that would be exciting and have them miss it. Chloë and I did some resist technique using crayons, which you can see a little bit in the top middle, and I also tried using stickers for masks. That didn't come out too well. And finally, I used glitter and glue on a couple of eggs, just for kicks.

Another thing I did differently this year was use my Wilton gel food coloring instead of regular drops or pellets. The eggs were gorgeous, very vivid and bright. I'll definitely do that again.

So five dozen eggs later, we had some blown-out that I probably won't keep for next year anyway, some hard-boiled tie-dyed eggs, and some regular-dye raw eggs. Hopefully, we won't forget which are which out of the latter two!


I had all the egg innards from the blown-out eggs sitting in a bowl, so I decided to make a quiche. Well, two. Another run for Rob to the store for cheese (and toilet paper, 'cause we ran out and were stuck using paper towels, eek!), which I put Chloë happily to work grating for me. She enjoyed that job immensely, judging by her incessant chatter about what a good job she was doing. It was both eyeroll-inducing and chuckle-worthy at the same time, her patter.

Fortunately, I had a package of two rolled pie crusts in the freezer, so that hastened the dinner-making process. And we'd gotten a pound of ground turkey for me to brown in the skillet, along with some frozen spinach I quickly heated up, from our Angel Food Ministries package this morning (our first time ordering, and we'll probably do it again in future), so dinner was a snap.

Unfortunately, none of the kids liked the quiche. Jack doesn't like melted cheese on anything, so I knew he would be a complainer. The girls didn't like the spinach and refused to pick it out. Rob and I devoured ours, and he had seconds, so it was definitely good in my humble opinion! Later, Jack cracked three hard-boiled eggs in quick succession to fill his rumbly tumbly, and I scrambled some other prettily-dyed eggs for the lady-babies, so we're pretty egged-out at the moment!


After Rob so nicely cleaned up our egg-coloring mess for me, the kids and I got to work making Easter sugar cookies. They cut the shapes, and I baked and decorated them, since it was bedtime by the time they were cool. That didn't stop the girls from sneaking down to watch me anyway, and we let them. They oohed and ahhed over each new one I iced, although I didn't do anything terribly fancy for them. (Sorry for all the flash-y pictures, but it was late by then, and the pink came out looking far more red than it really should.)



These few didn't fit on the cutting board, but Chloë insisted I take and show a picture of these, too. Okay, girlfriend, here you go.



After that, I still had tons and tons of Jelly Belly beans to use up, so I decided to make cupcakes, too. Yes, I know. It's far too much junk. But I was in the zone, what can I say?


Just the thought of eating one of these, with all that sugar, makes me want to gag. I don't know how I used to be able to do it! (Although, truly, I never have liked jelly beans of any sort.)


Rob did a rare thing while I was decorating the made-from-scratch chocolate cupcakes: he picked up my camera and took pictures of ME doing something, without me asking. He says the reason he never does is because I always complain about how they turn out, which is true - I do - but I actually don't look terribly gross here, so guess what? Here I am, slouchiness notwithstanding.


I don't know about yummy, but they certainly are colorful, no?


I really do need to invest in a good cupcake stand or two! Chloë was so disappointed I stacked them and smushed the bottom ones. I wouldn't have done that if these were actually going for something and not just 'cause, but I wanted the stacky pictures.

Anyhoo, now it's 0530 on Easter morning, and I'm going to look at the paper a little before it's time to wakey-wakey-eggs-and-bakey the kiddos and get them in the shower before church. Usually we go on Saturday nights, even for Easter, but like I said, I was in the zone. So we'll brave the crowds in a few hours. Oy.

Happy Easter!


Saturday 9: Sex As A Weapon


Link is here if you're playing along.

1. Have you or a significant other ever used sex as a weapon?

Hm, maybe, but nothing that registers in my immediate recollection.

2. Tell us about the worst date you ever went on.

This girl I worked with was going out with a guy for the longest time, but he was always flirting with me when he came in to see her. So when they broke up, he got her permission to ask me out. I agreed to go out on a date with him. He took me to a restaurant, but he proceeded to try to eat my face off the entire time. I couldn't get away from him fast enough. Not only that, but he was terribly boring, and there just wasn't any good thing about being there. He called and called afterward, but I screened his calls. My (male) roommate gave me a lot of shit for not having the balls to just tell him I wasn't interested!

3. If you were a god/goddess who would you be?

Athena, goddess of love and war. Wait - she can fly, right?

4. What crime from history fascinates you the most?

Jeffrey Dahmer

5. Give us one random, but candid fact about you.

There isn't much left that I haven't shared. Eyeballs gross me out. Eye boogers?? OMG. If you come at me with a dried boog in your eye, I might slap you a little.

6. Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak?

My husband, but don't tell him, because I've been trying to convince him for years that he's not even remotely funny. Also my BFF Lisa, and once upon a time, this guy in college, who has since morphed into a new, unlikeable guy.

7. What is the most exciting adventure you’ve ever been part of?

They always involve water, whether it was snorkeling in Micronesia (I'd have dove, but I was pregnant with twins at the time) or the Dry Tortugas, or diving 110' in the wrecks off Miami, or cruising the Mediterranean with Hubs... all good times.

8. Among the people you know, who would you choose to be able to read all your thoughts?

Definitely my husband. I wouldn't trust anyone else with that information. Except maybe a good therapist!

9. How old were you when you realized that other people's families live totally differently from yours?

I was probably about 6 or 7 when I realized that people were even ALIVE and living their lives when I wasn't in person, right there with them. That shocked me. After that, it wasn't long before I realized we didn't all do things the same way.

Happy Easter!


Egg-Hunting At The Y


So last Saturday, we took the kids to an Easter egg hunt at one of our (many) local YMCAs.


We got there an hour early, which was good, because there were crafts and giveaways and things. The kids were given all manner of freebies, like pinwheels, magnets, and even a coupon for a free cooking class at Young Chef's Academy!


The kids had a good time decorating their cups for planting grass seed, which is growing like weeds (heh) in the kitchen right now.


Here's Jack showing me his, um, dirt, and pinching his eye, because I don't know why.


It was pretty sunny out there that day, as you can tell!


Sophia, ever the 'doer,' insisted on filling her own cup with soil, unlike all the other children in attendance.


Afterward, Chloë was pouting because her basket kept blowing away or something similarly minor, but that's not why I'm including this photo. Look at Sophia's face! That expression amuses me greatly. (Click to embiggerate.)

YMCA Egg Hunt

Rob and Sophia had a good time horsing around in the field, and I had a good time watching them. She's the only one of the three who will actually let him do that stuff!



Finally, the hunt was on. They did it three separate sections. For some reason, Jack got put in with the toddlers. Hm, I wonder if it's because he's their size, instead of the size of the average 8-year-old? Well, lucky for him they assigned him there, because his basket-bucket was full within just a few minutes. The rest of the kids were looking all over for much longer. Hee!



Fortunately or not for the girls, they were put in kids closer to their own age. Now THAT was a madhouse. Those kids cleared the field in under a minute. I told Chloë to go straight for the back of the field so she would have half a chance, but she didn't listen.



Sophia stood her ground and got a fairly decent amount of eggs. She's a tough girl, though, and has no problem barreling through people. Not saying that's a good thing, necessarily, but...


She's smiling here, but when she saw her paltry sum of eggs compared to her siblings', she was sobbing. That's nothing new. At 9½, Chloë still frequently cries like a baby.



This kid was plenty happy with her take, though Jack had far more. No matter, to solve the problem, I just divvied them up evenly at home. 



Then they went to sit outside and crack open all their eggs. Jack was pretty pleased to get lots of candy in his, which should surprise no one, since that kid has a major sweet tooth. His dentist knows that. Every time we go in, he has about 14 new cavities. Oy.



Also, Sophia was delighted to get a parachuting bunny in one of her eggs. She threw that thing around for hours - at least, when Jack wasn't busy stealing it from her!



Besides candy and paratrooping animals, there were bracelets, Silly Bandz-esque bands, and cute finger puppets. All-in-all, they had lots of fun cracking open their treasures.


Oh, and did I mention the sharing? There was lots of that, which Daddy and I were pleased to see.


Now this, I like to see! Good job, YMCA!


Oh, and Chloë and I used the eggs to make this garland for inside our front door! Cool, right?


Bzz, Bzz: Maybelline SuperStay 24 Color Lipcolor


Another Bzz Campaign - this one is ending, so I'm a little behind on posting about it. Whoopsie! But, I have been using the four different shades of Maybelline SuperStay 24 Color that BzzAgent sent me, so that I could write a legitimate review.

I've been using them quite a lot, actually, because I really like them. And they work very well!

 The premise is not what I expected it to be when I opened my package. I figured it would be another long-wearing lip stain, that would dry out my lips and get all flaky and be gross, and I would hate it.

But it's not!

On one end of the tube is the applicator for the color. It goes on smoothly and saturates the lips very well. You can rub your lips together without them sticking right away, too, which I like.

And then, on the other end, is the glossy bit, an applicator to make them shiny and more rub-able, like a lip balm.

So you're supposed to be able to apply the color part once, and then re-apply the glossy part as needed throughout the day. And the color's supposed to last all day, even through eating, drinking, kissing, and whatever else you nasty people might do with your lips.

Just kidding. You're not nasty. Well, maybe you are, but I wouldn't know.

Well, Smellyann? Does it work, or not?

The answer is: Well, kinda. Yes and no.

The color DOES last through all those activities, but I found that it did eventually wear off by the end of the day, if I applied it first thing in the morning. So it doesn't rub off after I drink and eat - and smooch - but it would need to re-apply the color if I were going out for the evening, too. Which is fine. I mean, I can handle applying lipcolor twice in a day. It's when I have to stop and do it 4700 times in a day to keep color on my lips that gets really annoying. Right?

So, in my estimation, it's completely worth the ten bucks (MSRP). Try it. You'll like it. And if you don't, give it to me, I'll use it!


P.S. There are supposed to be (or have been) coupons for this product on Facebook somewhere, for me to share with you, but I could never find them, which is why it took me so long to post this. If you find them, let me know, and I'll add the link. Thanks!

Preparing For The Rising Son

Easter preparation is underway here at Chez Odette. Observe, s'il vous plaît:


I saw this idea in both the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine (to which I would love a lifetime subscription, if you're looking for gift ideas for me) and in one of the daily craft idea emails her site sends out, and of course I thought it was wonderful. So when I found orange crepe paper on sale at Party City, I snagged four rolls, not knowing how much I would need. (Two ended up being more than enough to make 12, by the by.)



The candy was in a bag of food I got from a fellow Freecycler, so this ended up being a very cheap craft. And fun and relatively easy, too, once I decided to go from top to tip instead of the reverse. It would be fun to do with little toys and trinkets as well, but I didn't have a supply handy, and, well, I didn't want to go buy some. Aren't they cute?


I made my own version of these, also from Martha's site, last night. The kids went nuts over them! I'd make more, but I got bored of them. Maybe I will later, though. Or not, whatever. I'm capricious, you know.


I found these little chocolate coconut nests at the grocery store, and the egg-shaped candies, too. A little paper riff-raff (ha! I think I meant ric-rac) on a picnic plate-holder thingie, and look how cute!


Yes, another Martha idea. I cut out the flowers on my Cricut, glued on the mini-cupcake holders, and filled them with sorta-matching Jelly Belly beans. Love!


Speaking of Jelly Belly, I went a little crazy there... but you can do a lot with them! And I plan to. Later.



Okay, so this isn't really crafty, but I found these Lindt bunnies at the store when I was on my Jelly Belly run, and Lindts are my favorite chocolates, so... yum! I'm having QUITE a day with the kids today, so I already bit the ears off mine.  Rob's is safe 'til Sunday.


The kids' Easter baskets, which will be small and understated this year. A few "carrots" in each one, a bottle of bubbles, a chocolate rabbit, some Dove chocolate eggs, and a toy. Jack got high-bouncy balls, Sophia received a jump rope, and Chloë, a game of jacks. That's plenty.


I set some of the goodies out on the deep freezer and called in the kids, who were busy watching a documentary about prehistoric sea monsters. Netflix streamed through the Wii, of course, since we don't have television service.


They were thrilled and excited! "Can we eat them now?"


(Our AC is out again, and it was hot, so the kids were sitting around in their undies. Sorry.) (And see? I toldja Sophie doesn't have a pot belly!) Anyway, they LOVED the pom-pom bunnies and asked if they could have them right away. Even Jack. "Of course, go for it!"


Chloë's handful o' beans


Oops! I had forgotten to add the worms to the bird nests. They have to have something to eat when they hatch!


So, that's a little bit of fun we've been having with Easter. More to come!


You Might Be Bi-Polar If...

No, this isn't going to be a funny post worthy of Jeff Foxworthy, sorry. It's just to get things off my chest and, hopefully, feel better than I am right now.

If you don't want to "hear" me kvetch about BPD yet again, then just don't read this one. I'll be back again later with something a little lighter.

I was talking to a friend the other day and, because it was relevant to the conversation, said to her, "You know I'm bi-polar, right?"

Her altogether exasperating reply was, "I think all of us are that way, a little bit," or something along those lines.


Seriously, people, don't say that to someone who is suffering from a - yes - deadly disease. Unless you have actually been diagnosed with that disease or honestly, truly think you should be, in which case, get your damn self to the doctor already. You don't tell people your liver is a little bit cancerous, or you have a slight case of diabetes, or your child might not live to see their 8th birthday because of a touch of cystic fibrosis. And if you do, well, you're an asshole, and you should get off my page right now, m'kay?

Bi-polar disorder, and other mental diseases, are not jokes, and they're not universal. Everyone is NOT bipolar because sometimes they feel happy and sometimes they feel sad. Give me a fucking break.

When I say I suffer, I mean that I really, truly, honest-to-God suffer. And so does everyone in my family, and some other people who might get in my way at the wrong damn time.

I've been suffering a lot lately. What I mean by that is, in addition to the "regular" BPD stuff I deal with on a daily basis like the obvious mood swings, lack of control over my emotions, hyper-emotionality, and being dependent on drugs to make me feel and behave halfway like a human being, there have been other things going on. I'm pretty sure they are 100% related to the newest med Dr. P. put me on, so I went to see him this evening to get things switched around. Again. For the billionth time, because there is no reliable drug cocktail for everyone with BPD. You don't just get a script for anti-biotics and the crazy goes away. It's a squirmy, unwieldy, in my case giant pest, and the only way to get rid of it is to kill yourself, which really is kind of what everyone's trying to avoid by putting you on the medicines in the first place. You see the problem?

So I saw Dr. P., who asked me what was wrong, why I feel like the medicine is a problem. "Well," I started... and then I went into my litany of complaints: I feel like I'm dependent on it, because my whole body hurts when I feel like I have to take it. And I get twitches and major muscle spasms until I do take it. And I feel like that more and more often, in shorter and shorter periods of time, which I don't like one little bit.

Oh, and I'm having lots of suicidal ideation... "Plans?" he interrupted. "Just the thoughts and feelings, or do you have a plan?" They always ask that, you know. If you don't want to get locked right up, you better tell them it's just thoughts. "Just the thoughts," I said, truthfully.

Oh, and I'm having visual hallucinations in my the periphery of my right eye, a few times every day. "Take your glasses off and stand up," he sighed. He sighed because that meant actually doing something for me beside writing out a new script. Dr. P. likes to just get them in and get them out, and not actually have to deal with real problems. That's probably not really true and I'm just in a bitchy mood. Anyway, he gave me a little eye test and said, "Well, your pupils are normal, so only you can decide whether they are true hallucinations or not."

"Well, how do I do that?"

He stared at me. I blinked. He blinked. "I get them every day, about three times a day. I see something there. I swear it's there. Standing RIGHT next to me, about to touch me. But it's never there when I turn my head."

He scribbled on the pad some more.

Oh, and I'm having a major bout with paranoia. This made him huff and puff a little bit. "Now you're giving me too much information!" he huffed out, walking out of the room. He came back with a medication sample. "You keep telling me things. This changes everything. Is there anything else?"

Not that I can think of. I figured I'd think of something major and crucial on the way home, but I still haven't. So hopefully that was all.

I left with one of my three meds staying exactly the same, another one increased, and the one I hate being switched to a new guy that I've taken before and can't remember exactly why I stopped.

Honestly, I've been on so many brain-altering chemicals, I should probably be keeping a list somewhere. But like running my life, I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants a little bit. Wing it, if you will. Doctors love that. "Have you taken this before?" "Uh, I think so?" "When? How much? What for? Why did you stop?" "Uh... I forget, it either made me more suicidal or turned my shit green."

I made that last part up, but you get the idea.

So anyway, I start the new-old medicine in about ten minutes. Cross your fingers.

And yup, I feel better now.


P.S. I really didn't have a bi-polar category before? Dude. I am NOT going to go back and re-tag all those posts. Not. (Maybe I will. I have OCD, too. But just a little. Heh.)

Blended Family


I don't use the blender very often, for whatever reasons, but I broke it out the other day when the kids were looking for some dessert before bed. I repeatedly try to convince them that dessert is not a daily occurrence, but they still balk whenever we try to send them to bed without some sort of sweet treat. Not that we necessarily give in, but... oh, hell, I'm rambling.


So I was looking through the kitchen for something I could fix quickly for them, and I remembered the bag of frozen strawberries in the deep freezer. Ah! "Who wants a strawberry shake?" I queried. Three "I do!"s returned. I set to mixin', pulsin', and blendin'.


Just simple shakes, these were, but they were scrumptious! I would have gone for a LOT more if I didn't know full well it would make me sick as a dog. Half a bag of the strawberries, some glugs of milk (I didn't measure), and about 3/4 cup of sugar, and that was it. I could probably have gotten away with a half-cup of sugar. And no, I've never been one of those moms who's afraid of a little sugar right before bedtime.  Call me crazy (you'd be right)!

Strawberry smoothie

And the kids' verdict? Chloë summed it up best: "You can make these again, Mom. Soon!"

Will do.


Future Olympian


(Click collage to embiggerate.)

 Admittedly, these are not terrific photos of Sophia at gymnastics, but they were the best I could do under the circumstances, which are that there is very little access to do so at the gym where she and Jack go to class. Parents aren't allowed on the gym floor - at least, certainly not to take pictures - and the opening to see in is a small sliding glass door. But, I wanted to show these pictures as sort of a baseline for the progression of Sophia's gymnastics career. I'm joking about the title, but I really think she is naturally fit for the sport and will go far with it if she decides to continue developing her skills.

As for Jack, he wasn't anywhere in sight when I had the camera out! So what else is new? I'll try to get him another time. He's always a fearful little boy - on the mats and off - but for some reason, a little of that trepidation disappears when he's out there, and he becomes more adventurous. It will be interesting to see how he progresses with gymnastics, as well.


The Party Of The Century

Okay, so maybe that's overstating things a little bit. But Sophia's birthday party today, a pony party held at the stables of one of our local Navy bases, was pretty freakin' great, I think.


Sophia wanted a strawberry (her favorite thing in the world) cake, and I found these cool edible icing images on eBay, so all I had to do was bake, assemble, and decorate a double-layer sheet cake. 'Twas pretty simple, but the result made Sophia extremely happy. In turn, I was satisfied.



As an aside, Saturday (yesterday) arrived, with the party today, and the image still hadn't arrived. I was a little panicky. And then, I found it shoved all inside my tiny mailbox, squished up with the rest of of the mail, when the package clearly stated, "DO NOT BEND." I was afraid to look at it, thinking it would all be mushed in there, but it was perfect. After all that, it was a little humid in our house and the image started sticking together, so I thought it STILL wouldn't work out! But in the end, I got it unstuck okay, and it went on the cake perfectly, and all was well. And it looked great. Phew! (But between being strawberry-flavored and ALL that frosting - which I can't stand - ick! This was one birthday cake I was not sad to not be able to eat!)


I couldn't find horse-themed treat bags, so I made my own with generic pink bags from Party City and lots of paper cut-outs using my Cricut. I got all the goodies - pewter horse necklaces, horse finger puppets, miniature horse toys, mini-horse stuffies, and the pink cowgirl hats that of course didn't fit in the bags - off of eBay as well, along with all the paperware for the party. Much cheaper than Party City's offerings for basically the same things, I might add.


Finally, the time arrived to go set up for the party, and that we did. Only, the wind was whipping through the party pavilion, and we had a dickens (that's one of my kids' favorite words) of a time keeping everything on the tables. We had a few minutes before everyone arrived, so when a nice lady came walking by with her horse, the kids took the opportunity to question her about all manner of horse-related facts. And they got to feed Sunny some carrots, too. (By the by, I looked for a few boy- or generic-colored cowboy hats for the three boys in attendance at the party at Party City yesterday, but I could only find adult-sized hats. Bummer.)


Chloë cracked us all up when she asked, "Is the horse's tail just fur sticking out of its butt?" Bahahaha! Kids. 



I don't have much to say about this picture. It's pretty self-explanatory; I just thought he was cute petting Sunny!


Nice Lady said the kids could walk Sunny a little bit. Wow! She sure knew how to please a kid.


Then, Sunny decided to walk the kids a little bit, too. Whoa, Nelly! Nice Lady came and rescued them. 


Yep, this photo pretty much sums it up: Sophia was in Horse Heaven. Too bad we don't have the fundage for riding lessons. She'd love that.


In the end, Nice Lady said it was time to turn Sunny out for some heavy-duty grass consumption, so we said good-bye to him and returned to party duties.


There was a small petting zoo right next to the pavilion, so Jack buddied up to this li'l pony as we waited for our guests to arrive.


Best. Picture. Ever!!! Look at that poor sheep run! This photo makes me die, every time I look at it. So yes, the guests started arriving - all the ones invited, plus lots of their siblings, so we had 15 kids in all -  and followed Rob into the petting zoo. I'm so glad I got this picture...!


Soon, our party pony (that sounds terrible) was brought over, and I was told for the first time that one of US would have to lead the horse around the arena, walking each child on top of José. Um, what?! So I called out to the parents, "I need a volunteer!" and, thankfully, wonderful V agreed to be the pony puller. (We had TONS of parental help at this party, actually. If any of you happen to read this, please know we're so grateful!!)


The Birthday Girl made the inaugural ride around the arena, with a very sweet José and a very reluctant V. Poor thing. Her shoes got quite muddy. (Mine did too; they suffered to bring you this stellar photography, you know.) (At least, I think that was mud.)


Hee! No, that's not a miniature Lady Godiva! It's Chloë, with her curls whipping around her face. Silly. So, Rob helped each of the kids on and off the horse, helmet secured, until the very last child's turn. It took an hour or so. Jack was last to ride, but then he chickened out at the last minute and didn't go. That was after complaining about how long it was taking for his turn, for the entire hour. Really? Yes, typical Jack.


Meanwhile, Sophia and the rest of the waiters gawked at ladybugs and worms before another helpful parent, D, engaged them in a rousing game of "Simon Says."  What would we have done if all the parents dropped off their kids and left? Hmm. I don't know, but it would have been a lot more demanding for me!


After "Simon Says," they got back to playing in the dirt. Hey, free entertainment - I mean, it's dirt cheap! Heh. Sorry.


Sophia is my dirty girl. She's like Pigpen, from Peanuts. One of the other moms, N, said to me while I was busy taking pictures of the other girls, "You know Sophia just made a dirt angel, right?" Um. No. But I wasn't surprised!


We later decided that if we ever get a pet horse (psht, not likely), we'd name it Buttercup. My kids love 'em.


N took over from V, walking the last few kids around the paddock or corral or whatever the hell it's called, just in time for José to pee buckets and then, shortly thereafter, take a huge dump. Not thrilled, she grumbled, "What's he going to do next, puke?" Poor N! She's putting her game face on here! 


I figured on doing cake and presents next, but the tractor driver informed me that it was time for the hayride then, instead of at the end like we'd planned. Why? Because they were waiting to run the horses, and they couldn't be done at the same time. Or something. So we went on the longest hayride in history, but it was fun. We saw lots of horses, got whacked in the face with lots of trees, and... well, sat on hay. Don't get me wrong, I love hayrides - but it was LONG!


I sat next to the boy-child, who really does not have Inspector Gadget-length arms.


Finally, it was time to devour some cake! I handed over the camera to N, so I could light Sophia's candles. Except, the wind wasn't cooperating, and I could barely get them lit. After we all sang that well-known song to her, I ended up lighting each one and letting her blow it out individually. It took approximately thirty-hundred hours, but we got 'er done. (I hope she made six separate wishes!)


My beautiful girl, Sophia Lorelei, got the first piece of strawberry cake. She had seconds, too. I guess it wasn't so bad.


After cake, we did presents, natch. She got loads of wonderful gifts, and she kept squealing about each and every one. Not only did she declare it the Best. Day. Ever, but when she opened the three horses I bought her, she said I was the Best. Mom. Ever. Woot!  Nice that she said it in front of a few dozen ears, too. N helped me out again by writing down all of the gifts, so that will help with thank-you notes later. She told me the bill was in the mail.


Finally, the time came for what the kids had all been waiting so patiently for: the piñata! It was huge. Huge. Sophia, again, was first at bat, and Rob blindfolded and spun her around. She started toward the line of waiting kids. Eek!! I rushed over and redirected her before she could decapitate anyone, and BOOM! went the stick. Fifteen children had their turn, then 15 children went again, without the blindfold this time. It took nearly a third full round, before kabow!! Candy and little toys came out like a dime store deluge.


It was a pretty great time to be a kid at a pony party. Except for one. One of the dads noticed that Sophia was missing. What the?! We couldn't find her anywhere. Finally, she was located behind the small building in the pavilion, crying her little eyes out. Poor thing. She said she didn't get any of the candy, which she didn't, but I think she was overwhelmed by the rush of kids and wasn't prepared for it. Lots of the kids came over and handed her some of their candy, which was completely heart-warming, and I thanked them. We dried her eyes and brought her back to thank everyone for coming and say good-bye.


While Rob finished cleaning up (the parents had all helped!), I got the kids into the car and asked them what their favorite part of the party was. My favorite answer belonged to Sophia, who said, "The whole thing."



P.S. The three of them have spent the last five hours playing with every single thing she received, giving each its due turn and appreciating everything. She's had a spectacular, fantastic, wonderful day.


Knitterly Transformation


Back in February, I picked up this Araucania Panguipulli wool from The Loopy Ewe, in St. Louis. The color is "Winthrop" (8).

I knew what I wanted to make with it before I bought it: Meret (Ravlink), the cool, slouchy beret worn by Abigail Breslin in My Sister's Keeper. (I hated that movie, by the way. The book was SO much better. Ugh. Still makes me mad.)


I still can't seem to get started knitting with my beloved, prized Wollmeise, so I needed a quickie project and cast on for Meret last Friday after winding it into a nice, center-pull cake.


It went pretty quickly, as expected - and I had the fun of using lots of interesting stitch markers. It's like knitting jewelry. When I was all finished, Chloë was very disappointed that the stitch markers weren't a part of the final product!


I still haven't taken a decent picture of my Meret. Here's me wearing it - I've been all over town with it on, despite the warm temps - in the van on the way to the Naval Hospital the other day. No, I wasn't driving.

002 (2) 

Yes, I really did take the picture over the back of my own head. I'm a dork. But I like it, wrinkly-looking shoulders and all!

001 (2) 

I'm generally not a person who can get away with wearing hats. They just don't flatter my flat head. But with my extra-slouchy Meret, I think I have solved the problem. Love it!

So that's done, then. The next project will likely span many moons...


Sunday Stealing: The 65Q Meme

Sunday Stealing 

Click here if you're gonna play along!

1. Tell us who was the last person that you took a shower with.

If it wasn't the hubs, it was definitely one of the children. Or all three at once. But I think it was the hubs, a week or so ago.

2. Tell us about your favorite t-shirt. Extra points if you show a pic. (We know. What can you do with freakin' extra points?)

Well I thought about showing a pic until I read the fourth sentence. And I don't think I have a favorite t-shirt anymore. I live in tank tops now. I have very few tees, and most are from the Red Cross!

3. Has anyone ever hit on you even though they knew you were taken?

Hell yeah. People have no shame. Neither do I...

4. Do you plan what to wear the next day?

Only if I have somewhere important to go where it requires actual thought beyond, "Hm, what's clean?"

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Why?

Excited! My baby's 6th birthday party is tomorrow, and the preparing has been going so well. I think it's going to be GREAT!!!

6. What's the closest thing to you that's black?

My Cascade 220 wool yarn, for the dress I'm knitting myself.

7. Tell me about an interesting dream you remember having.

The other night I dreamed all my teeth fell out. I've had that dream before. Maybe I should start flossing more than twice a year.

8. Did you or might you meet anybody new today?

No, I only went to the store and already knew the girl who helped me there.

9. If you could be doing anything right now (or perhaps after you finish this ridiculous meme) what would it be?

It's 0047, so I should probably say 'sleeping,' but really I'd rather be doing exactly what I'm doing right now. It's been a busy day and tomorrow will be another one. I'm chillin.'

10. Can you think of a meme question that's never been asked?

Yeah, but most are dirty-minded. Or gross.

11. What comes to mind when I say China?

cheap, plasticky crapola

12. Are you overly emotional?

Oh, my good God, yes. It's quite ridiculous.

13. If you could listen to just one rock album (CD, vinyl or mp3) which one would you pick?

Eric Clapton's "Timepieces," maybe.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

Lick. I have sensitive teeth.

15. Do you like your car?

Yes and no. It's a good van, don't get me wrong, but I truly liked my old one better and would take it back in a heartbeat if I could.

16. Do you like yourself?

Sometimes. Sometimes not. I like myself when I'm in control of myself.

17. Would you go out to eat with Charlie Sheen?

As long as he promised not to hit me...

18. What was the last song that you listened to?

"Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails

19. Are (or were) your parents strict?

My mom was semi-strict, but she wasn't a total authoritarian like my dad. She was just right. Not too permissive. She made me feel safe and loved.

20. Have you ever wondered what attending a wild orgy (if only to watch or...) would be like?

LOL... yeah.

21. I say cottage cheese. You say:

4% is yummy. Small curd. (I imagine half of you saying something about cottage cheese thighs, but I hate that reference, so I'll abstain.)

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I knew Dave Barry. Do you know Dave Barry? And I know someone who knows one, a really, really big one, but I can't say any more than that.

23. What was the last movie that you watched at home?

We just watched Tangled and The Lion King. I forget which was last. I think TLK.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?

I'm in my craft room, where there is oodles of confetti and glitter. Also my jewelry. And don't forget my sparkling personality.

25. What countries have you visited?

I'm from the East Coast of the U.S., so I'll list some territories, too: Canada, Mexico, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Guam, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy (and Sicily), Croatia, and Greece. Think that's all of them.

26. Have you ever made a phone call while you were drunk that you've regretted? If yes, do tell.

Oh, God. Yes. I have done a bunch of drunk dialing in my day, but the one that's sticking out in my mind isn't even from alcohol - it's from being high on pain medicine after my colonoscopy. I called the admissions officer of the graduate school I had been recently accepted into, while I was super-loopy-out-of-it, and talked her ear off about how much pain my bowels were in. Hahahaha! The next time she saw me, she pointedly asked if I was feeling any better. I was so embarrassed.

27. Where were you going the last time that you were on a train?

Washington, D.C.

28. Bacon or sausage?

Neither. Okaaay, bacon.

29. How long have you had a cell-phone?

Only since 2003, when we moved here and decided to go all-cell, no-landline. We briefly got a landline in the intervening years since then, but all we ever got on it were spam phone calls, so we quickly had it disconnected.

30. What other memes do you do regularly?

Saturday 9, and when I have time, Aloha Friday and Friday Fragments. Oh, and Wordless Wednesday.

31. Who is the craziest meme host?

Definitely Bud!

32. Who invented chop sticks?

Really, who gives a rat's ass?

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?

I thought I was going to be with Rob (Hubs), but he passed out on the couch on me.

34. Are you too forgiving?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For the right person, I can hold a decent grudge.

35. When was the last time that you were in love?

I am right now.

36. Tell us about your best friend.

I married him 10 years ago. He's all right, but he's a slob. If that's his worst fault, we're doing okay.

37. What was the stupidest thing you learned in high school?

Something about "guns and butter" comes to mind, from Economics class. Mr. Burtless!

38. What was the last thing that you cried about?

I bawled the other day when I needed my psychiatrist and discovered on his answering message that he's out of the country until Monday. Argh!!

39. What was the last question you asked?

"Annie, are you okay?" if singing along counts!

40. Favorite thing to do this time of the year?

Walk along in the fresh breeze and see all the new babies on the lake and new growth surrounding it.... ahhh, Spring.

41. If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be?

Rob and I plan to get a combined tattoo that, when we put them together, reveals our four childrens' initials, with furling ocean waves around it.

42. How would your best friend describe you?

He would say that I am a HUGE pain in the ass.

43. Have you ever seen all three Twilight films?

Oh, good Lord, no. Please.

44. Ever walked into a glass door?

Why yes, yes, I have.

45. Favorite color on that person that you are attracted to?

I can't think of any color that doesn't look good on Hubs. He wears his threads well.

46. Have you ever slapped someone?

Yep. And I've been slapped, too. I don't like either one.

47. What hair style (for you) would you like to see return?

I wish my hair was super-long, like Lady Godiva. And wavy, of course. I'll never have that.

48. What was the last CD you bought?

I don't buy CDs, but I just got a bunch of old skool Madonna and Michael Jackson songs off Amazon for my iTunes.

49. Do looks matter to you?

Sure. I'm human.

50. Could you ever forgive a liar?

It's hard. It's the thing I hate the most. The lie is almost always worse than the crime. So it depends, on the person, on the lie, and on the reason.

51. What's the hardest bill to pay every month?

The van bill. It kills my morale!

52. Do you like your life right now?

Some aspects of it are pretty great. Most that aren't are fixable.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?

No, but I could.

54. Can you handle the truth?


55. Do you have good vision?

Psht. Feck no. I'm blind as a bat without my spectacles.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?

I can only think of a couple.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?

As little as possible. I hate talking on the phone. I avoid it as much as possible. People who know me know I'd much rather email or text. My 14-year-old self would be shocked.

58. What celeb would you like to come home to?

I wouldn't throw Matt Damon out of my bed!

59. What are you wearing?

A green tank top, a khaki mini-skirt, and underthingies. And the afore-mentioned specs.

60. What is your favorite wild animal?

Sharks. Love me some sharks.

61. Where was your facebook picture taken?

On the bleachers at my kids' gymnastics class. Thanks for reminding me, I gotta change that.

62. Can you waltz?

I don't really know how, but I would love to learn.

63. Do you have a job?

Well, now, that's a trick question, isn't it? I'm a stay-home, homeschooling mama, but I do some odd jobs on the side.

64. What was the most recent thing you stole?

Stole?!!! Okay, I stole a Hershey's kiss out of my kids' school treasure box. :P

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?

Oh yeah, whenever I've locked myself out. I can think of at least three different addresses where I've had to do that!

Well, that was fun. Time to go do... I don't know what. Maybe admire Sophia's cake some more?


Saturday 9: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out


Finally, some Clapton! This should be a good one... link up here.

1. What is the most “down and out” that you've ever been?

I had an existential crisis when I turned 21, after reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and I was also dirt poor at the time. So maybe then, I dunno.

2. Do you believe there is only one "right" religion?

Well. No.

3. If you could get back in touch with one person you've lost touch with, who would it be and why?

Yeah, the guy in #4, but he would have to revert back to the person he used to be, not the guy he became. I don't respect the new version.

4. Has anyone ever held the key to your heart, but did not know it?

Yes, and man, did it ache.

5. If your lover cheated on you and profusely apologized, might you accept them back into your life?


6. Have you ever gone to work/school drunk or stoned? If yes, do tell.

I've never been stoned (well, off anything not prescribed to me). I would never go to work drunk... hungover, maybe!

7. Who is your favorite relative?

Aside from the people I birthed? My sissybell smiff! (Stacey) It would have been a tie, but my gran'pappy just collected his last stamp. :(

8. What annoys you most?

Feeling out of control. Being out of control of my emotions. Not acting like the person I know I should be and want to be, and not being able to help myself. (But that helps me to understand Sophia, so...)

9. Tell us of one thing you used to do that you are not proud of.

Let's just say I've been around the block a time or two.


Bzz Bzz: L'Oréal® Paris One Sweep™ Eye Shadow and Double Extend™ Eye Illuminator Mascara


As you may know, I'm a BzzAgent and get to try new products in order to spread the word about them and give my feedback to the developers of the products. I've been a member for several years now, and it's a great program. I love it.

One of my latest campaigns is for these two L'Oréal products:


First up, we have The One Sweep Eyeshadow by Studio Secrets Professional, from L'Oréal. The premise? The specially-create applicator is shaped so that you can load all three coordinating shades at once and then, also, apply them in one sweep across the eyelid, creating depth, drama, and well, it's probably supposed to be 'cool.'

In practice, I found it to be quite a silly product, and I would never buy it in a million years. However, it was fun to try it, and I'm glad it was provided to me for free by BzzAgent and L'Oréal.

You see, it doesn't work all that well. You just can't load the three colors equally-in-depth with one swipe, and then either you don't have the desired effect when you sweep it across your lid, or you have to and scoop up some more product, muddying the lines and making the whole thing quite pointless. And then the applicator. It's kind of non-intuitive, which way you're supposed to hold it to load the product and then apply it to your eyes, although clearly they intended the opposite. It's just not comfortable, and it just doesn't work well.

Seriously? If you don't have time to apply your different shades separately, then just do one shade. Or skip the shadow altogether and go with some simple black mascara and lip gloss.

My grade: D-. One star. Thumbs down. Boo.




Secondly, we have L'Oréal's Double Extend Eye Illuminator Mascara. I received the one for brown eyes, because... duh. The premise? Thicken and lengthen the lashes with one end of the wand, and then apply the pretty sparklies with the other end, to make the eyes really pop.

In theory, again, it's a good, fun idea. In practice, it's a flop. First of all, with a really good mascara, like Almay One Coat Dial-Up, I end up with nice, long, thick, impressive lashes. So what I'm saying is, I've got 'em, and I know they're there. But with this Double Extend thing? Not so much. My lashes look chintzy even after multiple coats. Weeny lashes, who wants 'em? Not me. I have big eyes. I like to accentuate them. Whatever the opposite of that is, this mascara does it.

And then the Illuminator part? It just doesn't work. Oh, if you peer closely at yourself with a highly-magnified mirror, you can see some maroon-colored shimmer on there, but barely even then. Totally not worth shelling out eleven bucks for. Save your money.

The bottom line, for me: D-. One star. Thumbs down. Boo.


So. While I love L'Oréal as a brand overall, I don't dig these two new products at all. I would not buy them, and you shouldn't, either.


Product Review: Hormel Compleats Kids Meals


In the spirit of full disclosure, Hormel Foods provided samples of Hormel® Compleats® Kids Microwave Meals for me and my family to try. No payment was given and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.


With that said, we were given one of each of the four current varieties of these Compleats Kids Meals:

1. The Spaghetti and Meatballs was immediately claimed by Jack, to my surprise, since he typically doesn't like saucy foods. To my even greater shock, he ate the entire dish and asked for more! This child is a VERY picky eater, so if I find these for a good price, I will probably grab some more for him in the future.

2. The Beef Ravioli was snagged by Chloë, who instantly devoured the whole bowl. She loved it, too. Score two for Hormel Compleats!

3. The Macaroni and Beef was left to Sophia, who was upset because she wanted either the Spaghetti and Meatballs or the Ravioli. However, she agreed to just TRY the Mac & Beef, and it turned out that she LOVED it. What's more, she had a taste of both Jack and Chloë's meals and still decided she liked hers best. Score three for Hormel Compleats.

4. No one wanted the Pasta & Chicken meal, so I made Rob eat it. None of the kids would even look at it, let alone taste it at all. Rob said it was extremely bland. He didn't like it a bit and only finished it because he didn't want it to go to waste. I mean, it was edible, but barely, in his opinion. We will definitely not be buying this variety.

I have some BOGO-free coupons for these meals and would be glad to send out a couple if anyone's interested in trying them. Just let me know in the comments below.

I was able to sample these Hormel Compleats Kids Meals as a member of the SheSpeaks program for women like me. I received no compensation from either Hormel or SheSpeaks for this post.


It's Amazing No One Got Sick.

Often, one or more of the kids are enjoying something so thoroughly that they'll declare it the Best. Day. Ever. Today was one of those days. Sophia had a miserable sixth birthday yesterday, because she had to spend 3-4 hours in the ER waiting room while I was seen, and then on the way home, she got a migraine, had to puke into a full bag of Chex Mix that was the only receptacle available, and promptly took a many-hours-long nap. She woke up feeling much better, so today, we celebrated and did the fabulous, fun, free things that were meant for yesteray. To-wit:


Okay, so the bruise on poor Chloë's cheek is not part of the Best. Day. Ever. It's just part of today. It's where we started out. See, Chloë's getting the first of two rounds of braces, and they tried to put her appliance in on Tuesday. It didn't fit in her mouth, and they accidentally jabbed her cheek with it, and this bruise (and the accompanying swelling) are the ugly result. Poor kid! On the upside, Sophia did get to sit and watch a cute puppy movie in the waiting room that she'd never seen before, and she got a sticker from the dentist, so maybe we can count it as part of BDE fun.



I think she looks so beautiful in this picture... after the dentist, we headed over to the local mall to ride the carousel. Every year on Sophia's birthday - and only Sophia's, for some reason, even though they're all signed up for it - she gets a postcard inviting herself and 9 friends to go ride the carousel for free. I tried to get a group of friends to go with us yesterday, but none were available, so we just went ahead ourselves today. Since there were only three kids, I talked the attendant into letting them ride twice. They were beyond thrilled about that, like they'd won the lottery.


You gotta embiggerate this one, since it's so rare to see genuine joy on Jack's face! (He almost never rides a horse when we do a carousel ride. Doesn't like the up-and-down part of it, and he never believes me when I point out one that will be stationary.)


2011-04 (Apr)

(Click collage to enlarge)

I'll probably do a bunch of collages for this post, because there are so many pictures from this day that I like. The post would be enormous if I included them all individually. 

To my surprise and the kids' delight, the carousel attendant presented each of them with a free punching balloon after their second ride. They went punch-crazy for about five minutes. Now, because Jack decided he didn't want his and both girls' popped before we got home, we have none of them. I'm disappointed, because I get a kick out of a good punching balloon. Simple pleasures, you know.


After the rides and balloons, we headed down the mall hall to Build-A-Bear, where Sophia had a $5 gift certificate. They all get one for their birthdays, and I only ever let them pick out $5 worth of merch, never more, because the whole fun of the freebie day is seeing how much fun we can have for nothing, ya dig? Anyway, she picked out this cute little backpack for her pink poodle, which she made for her birthday two years ago. It's hard to see in this picture that I love, but you'll see it again later.

Bunny collage

An unexpected detour through the mall occurred when we ran smack-dab into the center court where Easter Bunny photos were being advertised. The sign showed real, live rabbits, so I figured, duh, there would be real, live rabbits in the pictures. No such luck. It was just a dumb bunny suit (obviously, heh). But, the girls were already excited to have their picture taken with him, so we went ahead and did it. They had no problem letting me snap a few pictures for free without buying their pricey packages, or I wouldn't have done it. Jack did NOT want to be in the pictures, as evidenced by his horrible grimaces in all three captures! Little stinker.

2011-04 (Apr) (2) 

The girls, on the other hand, had to be dragged away from thar! Each one was given a "crown" with bunny ears, and a chickie mask, too. Jack didn't want those, either. He was being a little punk. I think he was being a sore loser because much was being made of Sophia's birthday, and he was jealous. Not that he didn't get his share of freebies (did I post his birthday stuff yet?); he's just a whiner!


I love this photo, too... Sophia had noted the sparkly lights on the trees on her way into the mall, and she ran to examine them more closely on the way out. In the end, she insisted I take her picture with the "sparkly tree," and I love how it came out.



In the far end of the mall parking lot, there is a Toys 'R Us store. How convenient, since that was our next freebie stop! Kids signed up with Geoffrey's Birthday Club get a crown, a balloon, and their birthday announced over the loudspeaker. They also get a $3 gift card in the mail. Again, I only ever let them spend the $3, never more. It's a game. So the lady made her announcement, after confirming that it was ONLY her birthday and not, in fact, all three of my "triplets" (I get asked that a lot lately, which bothers me not at all, compared to all the "twin" questions I used to get).


Sophia may be a naughty girl, but she has a generous soul. She's always the first to share. So when she spotted all the Easter candy, and then her "favorite thing in the world," the Peeps, I pointed out that she could get three packages with her $3 card. She immediately asked Chloë and Jack which kind they wanted, because she was going to share her money with them. Isn't that sweet? Jack, who had been grumpy up 'til then, immediately brightened. See? Little sisters aren't so bad, hon.



Down the road a small piece was Chuck E. Cheese, for which Sophia had a coupon offering 20 free tokens. I warned the kids that that was ALL we were getting there, and when they were gone, they were gone. I figured it would take five minutes, but they managed to stretch their time there into about a half-hour. Not bad. And definitely worth it, for the fun-to-expense ratio was quite huge.

2011-04 (Apr)

They had a lot of fun for their free 20 coins. And that's total, not each! And yes, Sophie does always, always throw us the "I love you" sign!



They only earned 29 tickets with those tokens, but it was just enough for them each to get a roll of Smarties. They were satisfied with that, so I was, too.


Our next stop: Sonic, for Sophie's free Wacky Pack lunch. She shared all her fries with the rest of us, passed her cherry slush around to her siblings, and gave Chloë the cheeseburger her belly couldn't finish.


I'd had these three coupons for a free kid's ice cream at Chick-Fil-A in my wallet for eons, so I finally decided to go ahead and cash them in for Sophia's fun freebie day. Were they ever pleased! And of course, CFA has a play zone, so we had to go in there, too. But seriously, what's a kid's birthday without ice cream?


Ahh, there we go. No, it's not a sneeze - I caught Sophia mid-huge-yawn. Good deal, Mama was wearing her out! (And it's true; she's zonked out on the couch right now, because she was too tired to carry herself up to bed. Hee.)



Another photo to love...!


Ice cream collage 

Lick, lick, lick

2011-04 (Apr)

As I was in ever-increasing pain from an apparent UTI and possible kidney infection, I limited the kids' time in the play zone to about 20 minutes before I just couldn't sit there any longer. They were fine with that, as they were growing quite tired themselves. Plus, they all wanted to know, "What's next, Mom?" in our Best. Day. Ever.


A quick stop for Sophia to smell the flowers, before we headed on to our next stop: Home. Well, but not for long. I had free birthday meal coupons for Jack and Sophia for the Silver Diner in town, but I had left Sophie's at home. And I had to pee. And get the mail. 

And, by the way, the entire time we were driving around to all these things, the kids were watching the DVD of Tangled in the car, which we'd finally managed to snag from the Redbox after days and days of finding it checked out already. Just in time for Sophia's birthday!


2011-04 (Apr)

At the Silver Diner, they each got a shake - with a cherry on top, a must-have, natch - and an entrée. I didn't eat anything, as I was in serious agony by then. The kids ate quickly, and not much, since they'd been doing a lot of eating recently. I boxed up their leftovers, and we skedaddled on home to meet Dadddy. He'd come home from work to take me to the ER for the second day in a row. 

{And so, we went. I was nearly in tears by that point, so they took me right back for tests. Daddy and the kids left to return the DVD while I sat in the back and ached. I got my Rx for antibiotics and met them out front. To my chagrin, Rob returned to work for another few hours. I was in so much pain by that point, I wanted to die. However, my sometimes- (okay, often-) unruly children seemed to sense that Mommy wasn't up to any shenanigans tonight, and they behaved like angels for me. It was a major blessing. Meantime, I popped a pain pill and put on a ThermaCare Heat Wrap and waited for the horrendous pain to subside. Thank God, it has. It's like night and day; I feel so much better now!} 


After a nice bath and PJs, Sophia brought down her pink Build-a-Bear poodle, with her new backpack from earlier in the day. She lay down on the couch with her poodle, Toys-R-Us balloon at her side, and read a book until she drifted off, with memories of her 6th birthday fun no doubt dancing through her head...


...And Lived To Tell The Tale


I have a Daisy troop full of mostly avid campers. I, their never-fearless leader, am not an avid camper. I am an avid hotel-goer, yes. Camping? In the woods? Not so much. 

It's not that I've never been. We camped plenty of times as kids. But I'm talking bare-bones, no equipement, short overnight-in-the-backyard camping, with sleeping bags and a tent. If there was more - and I'm sure there was more - I don't remember it. And I never learned anything from it. Other than that, while the air smelled great and it was nice waking up next to a lake, it was often cold and often wet. And I hated that part of it.

So when my Daisies wanted to go on the "Alice in Wonderland"-themed encampment with our whole Service Unit, I was hesitant, to say the least. I did my Girl Scout camping requirement, Outdoor 1 class, and I got CPR- and First Aid-certified. I enlisted parental help. I went with three parents who are Scout-camping veterans, and who have everything possibly necessary for comfortable camping.

So, this past weekend, we went.

The first night, we got there a little late, but it didn't matter much since we were entirely on our own. I had instructed the six Daisies coming with me and ML, the other Daisy parent serving as chaperone, to bring an easy brown-bag dinner for that night, to eat on the way up. It's an hourlong drive to camp. I knew the way, but I didn't drive, because I needed to leave Penelope (the van) home for the menfolk.

Anyway. I had camnesia that night, so no pictures just yet.

It was sprinkling when we arrived, which threw a wrench in the plans to make banana boats over a fire for the girls' dessert. Ah, but in the kitchen/bathroom building, we found a working microwave. Say what you will, but we used it, and it came in handy.

Basically, for banana boats, you slice a banana in half lengthwise, fill it with chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows, cook, and serve. The girls LOVED it. Each one of them ate their whole banana gooey mess, and several of them asked for more. Stupidly, I had only brought enough bananas for one each, but perhaps smartly so, because it was bedtime and they were already wired.

So I handed off three of my Daisies to ML in one tent, and MD (another Daisy parent, but one who was serving along with MN, Chloë's Junior troop leader, as their chaperone) and I took the other three, including Sophia, to a tent way in the back. The farthest tent from the bathroom, which was not a good thing at 0200 when I very nearly peed my pants getting there. Twice.

I hated that first night. HATED it. I kept texting Rob to come pick me up and take me home. I knew he wouldn't, and I really wouldn't have gone, but I was almost in tears. It was freezing, and raining, and I was lonely without him, and did I mention it was cold?! I was just miserable but determined to make the best of it.

The girls in both tents stayed awake until almost 2300, to the other parents' dismay (I expected it), so it was pretty fun rousing them on Saturday morning for breakfast. Flag-up was at 0900, so we needed to get them dressed, breakfast cooked and served, and dishes washed and put away before then.

Breakfast was boiled eggs in a bag, which turned out quite yummy, muffins, fruit, and I guess that's it. The eggs were cool. I'll be making those again. I brought bags for making them myself, but I bought storage Ziplocs instead of the required freezer ones. Note to self.

I appointed two of my Daisies to carry our homemade flag to the flag ceremony. Ours was made on a large piece of construction paper, with each Daisy coloring her contribution to the flag. I thought it was okay. And then we arrived at the field and surveyed the other troops' flags, which were... wow! Awesome. Large. Durable. Lasting. Impressive. Everything ours was not. Heh. I didn't know they were supposed to be... great. So I filed away my notes about that into the ol' brain, for a project for next year. Hopefully we'll be able to make a nice, large banner suitable for not only our camp and other activity flags, but also for table-dressing for cookie sales.

The sponsoring troop - also Juniors, Chloë's age, who were running the encampment in memory of their recently departed leader and in pursuit of their bronze award - did the colors, and we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Sophia always puts the wrong hand over her heart. I wonder if all Lefties struggle with that at first.

After the flag was hoisted, we looked at our schedules and got started with our various activities. The Daisy troop said good-bye to Chloë and her troop, and went to our first destination. ML went to our campsite to get my camera then, so here come the photos!


Our first stop was in the main building for a crown-making craft. The Daisies had a good time coloring the crowns and selecting stickers to adorn them. They also received beaded necklaces and small bottles of bubbles for blowing later. We were finished early, so we had a photo-op with all the crowned Daisy princesses. Of course, I can't show you all my girls, so I cropped them to show only Sophia's face. Kinda boring and lame, but I don't want to get in Teh Trubble, you know.


Sophia posing with her troopmates. It was cold untl mid-afternoon, so they kept their coats on everywhere we went. That blue slicker made it easy for me to edit all the pictures with her in them!


I just think her face looks so pretty in this picture, so I'm including it. After the crowns activity, we were due to be in the field. We were still quite early, so the girls just sat around and rested for a few minutes until it was time to change places.


The next activity, in the field, were the egg races. Sophia's troop all got split up onto different teams, which made taking pictures of each girl quite a challenge! I was running all over the place. Here's Soph before the first race, listening to the instructions.


She was pretty cute running her races. Her team never won, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Sophia was being overly careful, which slowed her down. She was so serious about the games!


Yeah! Into the bucket.


After a couple of races with no end in sight, Sophia decided she'd had enough. No more. So she stood near me while I photographed the other girls, and she built a nest. She told me, "I'm making a bird nest for a bird who's too tired to make one herself." Isn't that the sweetest thing?!

DSC_0781 \

She worked on it for a good 20 minutes, at least. Very conscientious about building her nest. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I didn't think pine cones usually lined a nest...


A couple of the other girls gave up the games, too, so I photo'ed each one of them in these trees. My Daisies like having their pictures taken.


Their last morning activity was croquet. They had to push eggs with a spoon, through giant overturned playing cards, from a Daisy to a Brownie. They all did well and had a good time with the course. Each one exclaimed, "I did it!" at the end. I have some cute shots of the other girls, but alas...


 (I'll have to come back and finish this post later. I had it all typed up, but somewhere along the way, it got eaten. Argh!!! Stay tuned for Part 2.)









Six Degrees Of Separation


Six years ago today, this darling little creature came out, looking nothing like her older sister and brothers. My first thought, upon seeing her in the OR, was, "Whoa! That ain't mine!" since she didn't have the same inherent cuteness as the others.

That night, as I nursed her alone in my hospital room for the first time, and I gazed down upon my fourth child and took in every inch of her, I saw her beauty. Hers is not a classic beauty, but one you have to search for, I think. And when you find it, well, she just captivates you. You stare at her, mesmerized, and drink her in.



We should have realized she was going to be trouble when she started walking at seven months old. Seven months?! You know who was prepared for that? Not a one of us. Seven-month-old babies are fearless. Mothers of those who walk at seven-months-old are obsessively fearful. It was interesting times, to say the least.



Today, six years after her emergence into this world, this girl remains fearless, is effortlessly naughty, is wholly hysterical, is sharp as a tack, and still possess that fleeting, yet captivating, beauty.

We love her. She drives us up a wall, but we love her!

♥ Happy 6th birthday, Sophia Lorelei! ♥


Sunday Stealing: The 5000-Q Meme, Part Final

Sunday Stealing 

Link up here if ye be thievin' today!

76. Do you prefer Disney or Warner Brothers?

They both have their merits, but if I had to pick, I'd go with Disney.

77. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?

Always the elephants! They're my faaaaavorite land animals. And have you ever seen one pee? BUCKETS! It's very entertaining.

78. Would you consider yourself to be romantic?

Sometimes, if I'm in the mood to be, but not overly so.

79. If the earth stopped rotating would we all fly off?

LOL. No.

80. What is the one thing that you love to do so much that you would make sacrifices to be able to do it?

Stay home with my kids! And we are definitely sacrificing so I can.

81. If you (and everyone) had to lose one right or freedom, but you could pick which one everyone had to lose, what would you pick?

The right to bear arms. I just don't feel that every Joe Schmoe needs to be walking around with weapons on his person. JMHO

82. If you had to choose would you live on the equator or at the North Pole?

Psht. Easiest question ever: the equator! I do not do well with the cold.

83. Would you rather give up listening to music or watching television?

Ha. Another easy one, since we gave up watching TV over a year ago. I could never stop listening to music.

84. What do you think makes someone a hero?

I think a real, true hero is not necessarily someone who accomplishes something extraordinary, but someone who tries their best to be a good person at all times.

85. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?

Finding Nemo, if movies count. If there's a Part Two, call me for a role.

86. Name one thing that turns your stomach:

Cleaning up bodily fluids. Echh. I can't stand it. But I'm a mother, so I do it - does that make me a hero?

87. What was the last thing you paid for?

Groceries for our Girl Scout camping trip this (current) weekend.

88. Are you a coupon clipper?


89. Get anything good in the mail recently?

I got a package from SheSpeaks... wait while I open it: Oh, it's my Hormel Compleats Kids campaign package. Watch for several product reviews this week, as I've got a few campaigns going on!

90. Which would you rather take as a gym class...dancing, sailing, karate, or bowling?

I'd like any of those, probably in that exact order!

91. In Star Trek people 'beam' back and forth between different places. What this means is they stand in a little tube and their molecules are deconstructed and sent to another tube somewhere else where they are reassembled. Only problem is when the molecules are deconstructed the person is dead. When they are put back together it is only a clone that has all the dead person's memories. Is the person who gets beamed the same person on both ends?

I didn't know that. So they are constantly killing themselves and being "reborn" as a new clone, and then a second-generation clone, and then third, and so forth? If that's the case, then no, definitely the 93rd incarnation of the person is not the same as the original, so they must all be different.

92. What insects are you afraid of?

I'm not afraid of any as long as they don't touch me without my permission. If something lands on me unexpectedly, I don't care if it's a praying mantis, I freak!

93. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?

When I was much heavier, I wanted a shirt that said, "I had four kids in 3½ years - what's your excuse?!"

94. What's the most eccentric thing you have ever worn?

I guess that would be my nose ring, which is rather untiny and adorned with various beads.

95. If you could pick one food that you could eat all you wanted but it would have no effect on how much you weigh, what food would it be?

I'm a New Yorker, so it would be a tough choice between real NY-style pizzeria pizza and NY-style cheesecake!  

96. What are your parents interested in?

My mom died 27 years ago (the anniversary was yesterday :( ), and I was 7, so I can't remember what her interests were aside from her family, her church, and cross-stitching. My dad is an Elvis fanatic and is enthused by all things auto- and 1940s and '50s-related.

97. Have you ever caught an insect and kept it as a pet?

Well, if keeping fireflies in a jar in my bedroom overnight counts, then yes. Along with the occasional frog and chameleon. I had a pet rat as a kid, too. My mom had a pet monkey when she was a child!

Have you ever caught and tamed a wild animal?

Is this a bonus question?? No, I haven't, do I look like Jack Hanna or something?

98. What is more helpful to you, wishes or plans?

Plans. I'm a planner. And a list-maker. I'm a squiggly box, and you get 10 points if you get that reference.

99. When do you feel your life energy the strongest?

As soon as the sun goes down. I don't care how exhausted I was all day long; when it gets dark, I pop wide awake. Always have.

100. You are spending the night alone in the woods and may bring only 3 items with you.

Flashlight, pocketknife, and a sleeping bag. Assuming this was a question and not true at the moment. I'm in no hurry to rush right back to the woods at this moment!