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Entries from August 2011

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama


Y'all did know that's, like, a palindrome, right? That's not news?

Anyway. Not where I'm headed.  Nor is this collage of silly pictures I took of myself early this morning when I meant to be writing up plans and writing down lists:


I love Instagram.

I also seriously LOVE these Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers, which are so good I can't stand it. I got a case of them from Moms Meet to share with my mommy group today, but I've literally eaten like 10 ½-oz bags myself since they arrived. They're addictive! Perfectly crunchy, wonderful texture, delicious flavor, and just the right touch of salt. Mmm. I can definitely endorse this product! Bonus: They're gluten-free, for those of you needing such a product (but they do contain soy, though it's low on the ingredient list.)


The plan. The plans. That's why we're all gathered here together today. And no, we're not moving to Panama. Or Thailand. Or Florida, Or Hawai'i, or Australia (boo-hoo). Nor are we going to live on a boat.

No, we have decided that, all things considered, those ideas just aren't going to work out for us, right now. Maybe in the future, but not right now.

Instead, here's what:


Rob'll retire in about a year and a half, after 20 years of service to our great country.


Then a lot of this will happen. Hopefully our shithole house will sell sooner rather than later, and we can high-tail it out of here shortly after retirement.

...After which, we'll end up here, this being a marina in downtown San Diego. Okay maybe not *exactly* here, but somewhere in this neck of the woods. And by "neck" I mean Southern California, and by "woods" I mean United States. It all depends on where we can find affordable (please, God, let it be four-bedroom) housing in a safe place, but the closer to SD, the better.

Now you may be asking, in your grammatically-incorrect way that I love so much:


Well, there are a few reasons.

#1. Process of elimination. After deciding we couldn't expatriate for medical reasons (my bipolar disorder and Jack's growth hormone deficiency, chiefly), our list narrowed down to Hawai'i, the Florida Keys, or San Diego. It had to be somewhere warm but NOT the Deep South, and I didn't have much interest in the Southwest, either. No particular reason, just, meh.



The whole reason Rob got into the Navy in the first place was for the G.I. bill, so he could go to college, never intending to do 20 years. But that's neither here nor there anymore, and now he's ready to get that degree. Between the GI bill and Voc Rehab, he hopes to get his B.S. in Nursing, become an R.N., and then continuing ed. to become a Nurse Practitioner. I think that's great. I'm all for it.

So why San Diego?

a. Proximity to MTFs (Military Treatment Facilities) to minimize our out-of-pocket post-Active Duty medical expenses. (Our prescriptions add up, dudes.)

b. Proximity to family, vs. Hawai'i. As Rob pointed out, "our parents aren't getting any younger..."

c. Quality and quantity of accredited institutions of higher learning, vs. the sole Florida Keys Community College (which, by the way, is supposed to be competitive for nursing, but then he'd have to commute to Miami after two years, and .... nah)

# 3. San-Diego-with-Kids-Guide-portfolio-620x200

There's so much for families to do there! We've heard lots of great things from friends and fellow military members who've lived there, so it will afford many opportunities for exploration, discovery, and fun.

So that's pretty much the whole ball of wax, in a nutshell. Maybe we'll be able to live out Plan B of The Retirement Dream, which includes


Oh. When I first read that, I thought it said "OUR," not "ORR." Heh. Whatever. Sorry I stole your banner, Orr Family Farm.

We'd love some of this:


because we go through, and desire plenty of fresh, healthy, organic:


If the place is big enough, we might even have a goat or even a cow, for milk, and cheese, and yogurt, and all sorts of things I'd learn to make.


Dang. Just dang.


And hopefully a big, beautiful vegetable garden will keep us occupied in the growing season (or is it always the growing season there?), so with the chickens and goat/cow and veggies and whatever else, we can be pretty self-sufficient and organic, food-wise.


In the dream/fantasy, I'd also get an alpaca or several, to raise for the fiber.


Of course, I could either sell the fiber outright, or learn to spin it. Or both. Yes, probably both.

And I could learn to dye it with natural materials, and I would produce the most beautiful yarns.

Adjective cartoon

And of course, I'd keep homeschooling the kids, and they'd learn so much from the farming and the husbandry and the learning. All the learning, every day, from doing. And behold, it would be very, very good.


And in a perfect world, I'd have her body.

So it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Whether any of it does, whether it all does, and we get to grow old together and live happily ever after.


That's the plan, Stan!


P.S. I forgot to mention one final "plus" that San Diego had going for it: proximity to

HollywoodSign ,

should Chloë (or even Sophia, but never Jack) decide to pursue that avocation after all.

P.P.S. Today is Rob's 39th birthday. Happy birthday, Rabbi/Rupert/Ribbon/Rabbit/Robin/Ruben and everything else I call you!


Like Mother, Like Daughter

Sophia and I are alike in many ways. We look alike, share a sense of humor wherein we "get" each other like few people do, and have plenty of similar behaviors and mannerisms.

001 (2)

I've been able to balance a spoon on my nose since I was at least her age, thanks to the little bally on the tip of my nose. It's squishy. And bally.


Tonight, she walked into the room doing the same thing. I don't even know that I'd ever done it before in front of her, so she must've seen the trick somewhere else. At any rate, I couldn't be prouder. She is her mama's girl. Hee!

Can you do it?


Hurricane Irene Hits: 27 August 2011


So, we had ourselves a li'l ol'-fashioned hurricane this weekend, and her name was Irene. Much was said about Irene in the days leading up to her arrival. If you asked 47 different sources about her path, severity and potential for damage, you'd have gotten 47 different answers. So, between that and the fact that we couldn't afford to evacuate anyhow, we decide to stay put and, well, weather the storm in our humble abode. My pal Jenny from the Block let her two kiddos have a slumber party in their hallway, so I copied her and let my three-o have one in the living room Friday night. They promptly set up about 900 seven folding chairs to make their respective tents and settled in to watch a movie or twelve.

I figured they'd fall asleep around midnight. Give or take. Well, give (or is it take?) five hours, because they all pretty much konked out right at 0500, all at once. Up 'til that point, they drove me absolutely crazy, which, as you know, is a very short trip. I did everything I could think of to get them to go to sleep, which really means I shouted said, "Go to sleep!!" approximately six thousand times. And I do not ever exaggerate. Never. Please note: that is not an effective means of getting my kids to go to sleep, if you're ever in charge of their slumber. Remember that. You pretty much have to sock them over the head with a club and stuff. I kid. Just use a sock. That still won't work though. (I'm in a mood, if you can't tell.)

001 (2)

This was the kids at, like, 3 AM. Since my desktop computer, my beloved Dell, went to the big PC recyclator in the sky on the day of Thor, I was stuck on the couch using my laptop. I hate this freakin' laptop. I hate laptops in general, but this one seems to be particularly cursed with shittiness. But, I have it, and so let's be thankful for that, shall we? Yes. We shall. Anywho, I was on the couch - the blue one, while Rob slept for about 93 hours in a row on the red one - the whole time the kids had their slumber party (emphasis on "party" with the word "slumber" being completely unnecessary). I checked my email 100,000 times, and Facebook, and my Google Reader, and generally exhausted my interest therein. I even knit a few rows on the Sparkle! dress before I got bored of that, too. Well, not really bored. It's just too freakin' hot to knit wool, so I gave that up in a hurry. (I'm ridiculously close to finishing the front half, though, so I really ought to get back to it post-haste.) (Why not pre-haste?)

Hurricane Irene

We all woke up sometime around 1300, which is 1 PM for you non-military American-types, and Hurricane Irene was in full swing by then. This was Saturday afternoon. While Jack kept busy watching out the back door for the "eye" to hit (it never did, poor laddie), the girls decided to clear the living room floor and have a dance party. I put on modern hits for them like, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Lauper, Cyndi, and "Hey Mickey," by Toni Basil. They didn't care as long as the beat kept bumpin'. Had themselves a grand old time. As did I, watching them. At one point, I tried to join, but they made me sit down. I don't know why. I have skilz. I can do the running man, y'all.

003 (2)

Around 1600, suffering from major cabin fever, Chloë asked me if she could go get the mail. In the middle of a hurricane, FPS! So I went outside, determined she could handle the weathah, and agreed. It was a wee bit windy but not too gusty, or else my 2-lb girl would NOT have been allowed out there. This is her running across the street to the boxes o' mail. If we didn't live right there, I shan't have allowed her.

004 (2)

Here she is, just about to check the mail...


...and here she is getting knocked into the next box by the wind. By that point, I was ready to run out there and grab her, but she called out to me, "I'M OKAAAAAY MOM," so I held still.


She made it back in one piece, hiding the mail under her raincoat - but not before dropping half of it into a huge puddle under that white truck. And one of them was a mystery shopping paycheck for me. D'oh!


As Saturday darkened and turned into evening, the tents returned. The girls were making it, and they refused to let Jack in, which of course made him want to go in more than he otherwise would have cared to do. Tell me this is not the cutest picture of him ever?!!


Sophia didn't care that he was in there, but Chloë had a total flip-out break-down about it (she does that frequently) and was subsequently sent to her room for a calming session. She sets my heart to racing, that one does. Regularly.


We all fell asleep much earlier that night, and by the time we awoke on Sunday, the rain was finished. Irene had passed, and we turned out to be some of the lucky ones who never lost power, not even for a minute, despite a few foreboding flickers. Several hundred thousand between here and Richmond are predicted to be power-less for up to two weeks. A few locals lost their lives in the storm - including two children, I hear - and a family I know lost their house and everything in it. They're in my homeschooling co-op, so the members are banding together to provide whatever we can for them. All-in-all, this little bit of flooding in our neighborhood streets is the most we've suffered, and for that, I am thoroughly grateful.


The streets up the other way, out of the neighborhood, are like lakes right now, but that's the extent of our "damage." Well, that and a piece of roofing we lost, but Rob can fix that, easy-peasy. He's already replaced it once before, after the November '09 Nor'easter. Anyway, when I went out for a look-see around our neighborhood, I saw four ducks swimming in the street-lake, which made me chuckle. It's not as cool as this:


but at least it was real, so hey. Ducks. They are so cute, swimming in the street.

Anyway, that's our Irene story. Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts, and I hope any of you reading this who experienced Irene also fared as well!


P.S. Chloë posted a blog about it as well, and it's here if you care to read. She'd love your comments!

Sunday Stealing: 20Q In August Meme

Link the self up here if you're playing along today.

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. What's for breakfast?

I really don't eat breakfast. Or lunch. I drink it, though!!

2. Do you read a newspaper daily?

Nah. I barely keep up with the Sunday paper we get. I used to...

3. What do you do when you can't sleep? I can't sleep now, and I'm doing this. I might knit after...

4. Say a word that sums up your mood. Frustrated. (stupid laptop!!)

5. Do you remember your dreams? Yes, but I rarely want to hear about yours, though I'll tell you all about mine.

6. Name something from your dream last night. Well shoot, I remembered it for half the day, but I forget now! No fair!

7. Name a food that describes you. Pizza. With a thin crust, because I'm sensitive. Hot, and maybe a little spicy. Many-layered, and definitely cheesy. And you never know what toppings you're gonna get...

8. Today you are wearing: The same thing I wore yesterday. My cutoff U-Miami sweats, and an Old Navy striped tank top. I don't match, and I don't care.

9. What's in your pockets? Salt packets from 7-11, for my hard-boiled eggs.

10. Did you sing in the shower today? I didn't shower today. It was being occupied with water in case we lost power from Hurricane Irene. (We actually didn't. Hallelujah!)

11. What's the last song you heard? "Heaven is a Place on Earth," by Belinda Carlisle.

12. Looking forward to the holidays? Haven't even gone there in my mind yet. But no, not really, not yet.

13. Where do you want to be this instant? For a change, I'm pretty content being right here.

14. What's for lunch? Well, it's 3:27 AM, and we're having 7-11 pizza.

15. What's something you would like to do soon? I'm GOING to take my then 10-year-old daughter up to D.C. on the train and take her to American Girl to get a look-alike doll. We're so excited about our little Mother-Daughter Trip!!!!

16. Reading anything now? What is it? I was reading the latest issue of "W" magazine, which really means I flipped through it for five minutes and read nothing, and I'm reading a cooking course for kids book that MIL sent me for a course or three that I'm teaching in the Fall.

17. What's for dinner? I'm pretty sure everyone else ate top ramen. I had a couple hard-boiled eggs.

18. A favorite part of the day is: When Hubs gets home from work. And, when the kids go to bed. Ain't gonna lie, I'm ready for the break by then.

19. Are you happy? No. I'm in pursuit of it, though.

20. Guess how many people will do Sunday Stealing this weekend? 35? Do I care? No.


Saturday 9: I Fought The Law

Link up here if you're playing along today!
1. Have you ever been on the wrong side of the law? Other than for minor traffic violations, no. Well, yes, I did something very wrong earlier this year, but I'm not going to blog about it, so there.
2. What was the last thing you described as either “surprisingly good” or “surprisingly bad?” *Thinkering...* Probably the devilled eggs Rob made me the other day. I didn't think you could eff them up too badly, but, well, they SUCKED. Sorry, honey!
3. When was the last time you unintentionally surprised someone else? I showed up at the Post Office at the same time as my good friend, Jenny From the Block! That was a nice surprise for both of us. :)
4. When was the last time you deliberately surprised someone else? I've been sending hand-made cards off to various friends and family lately, as little gifts or for thank-yous, and they all seem to have liked that a bunch.
5. What was the last really funny movie you watched? Ringo was funny, for the little bit I actually paid attention. Rob and the kids cracked up throughout the whole thing, though, so we'll have to borry that again and let me watch the whole thing.
6. What is something that you've never done that you secretly are dying to do? You can't ask me that!!! Oh, okay, I'll think of something non-naughty... I've never in my life done a proper pull-up, and I would love to one day have the upper body strength to do just ONE of those. That's not very exciting, though. Let me think of something else... Water skiing! I would absolutely LOVE to give that a try! I'm in the right place for it, and have been for half my life, but have never gotten to go. It's on my Bucket List.
7. What do you hope is different in your life by August 2012? God willing, we will be in a much more comfortable place than we are now, financially-speaking.
8. Who is the last person you greeted at your door? Some foreign exchange student selling books or magazines or something. My kitten darted out while I had the door cracked open, and I managed to grab her. However, I tumbled tail-over-tea kettle in the process and really hurt myself. The girl actually had the nerve to laugh. I didn't buy her shit. Nope.
9. If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose? Greece. I'd love to live in Ancient Greece. Not just for the cool togas and laurel wreaths, either. I'd have to be an empress, though, or else, no thanks. Have a great weekend and if you're due to weather Hurricane Irene, like us, stay safe!

Flower Power!


Hey, folks.

So, Sweet Pea Academy (our homeschool name, if you're new here) is doing a flower fundraiser. Our online link is here.

We're a frugal family, by necessity. I'm using materials we already have on hand, and the curricula I'm using this year is either free from here and here, among other places, or stuff we already purchased last year and are still using. The field trips we're doing right now are either free or so cheap they may as well be. In other words, I'm keeping our costs as low as possible.

But there are some field trips we'd like to do, and some projects to go along with those free lessons, that we can't because we don't have the budget for it.

That's where this fundraiser comes in. All I'm asking you is, if you were going to buy bulbs and stuff this Fall anyway, would you take a look at this site and see if it works for you to do it this way instead of wherever else you may have bought your plants? They have a 100% product guarantee.



P.S. This post will remain at the top for a while, so scroll down to find new posts. There will be many coming up!

Field Trip: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum

Earlier in the afternoon on Tuesday, we had to be down the road at the Naval Hospital for a referral appointment for Jack and Sophia. That's when the earthquake hit. The whole hospital shook. It wasn't scary - not for me, at least. It's the first quake I've felt in my almost-35 years, and I thought it was pretty cool. Once the kids understood what was happening and that it wasn't one of them trying to annoy the others by shaking their table and chairs, they thought it was exciting, too. But I digress.

After the hospital, we took a field trip over to the above-referenced Naval Shipyard Museum, which was literally three minutes away. (I planned it that way. I'm so smart.) The museum is part of the Blue Star Museums Initiative, which provides free admission to participating venues for military families. If you're military, take a look at the site now, because the program ends on Labor Day! It started on Memorial Day, but I forgot about it, so now I'm trying to make up for lost time. D'oh, me!


After I carefully parallel parked - which I'm not altogether great at, I admit - behind a local police officer (without hitting the car, whew), we headed across the street to the museum. I was prepared to be completely bored out of my gourd. Despite being married to a sailor, military things don't interest me much, sorry to say.


After we were let into the somewhat-teeny museum by the lovely Katie, who diligently checked my military ID to make sure we were freebies, the kids were given scavenger hunt papers to find things around the museum. I guess this was in an effort to make the trip more interesting to them, but my kiddos didn't need it. Their excitement was engaging and contagious, and I even found myself having a good time going 'round all the maritime exhibits.


Jack's favorite things were all the various ship models. This should surprise no one. Chloë snuck into the picture at the last moment, because she is a camera whore. This should also surprise not a soul.



Sophia's favorite things were all the cannons. She kept pretending to operate them.


The girls had no idea what they were posing over (a stone block to memorialize a purchase of land by the U.S. government from a private couple), but they felt it was a Kodak moment, anyway. Or, shall we say, a "Nikon moment"? Nah. That's cheesy. I'll probably say it again in the future, anyway. Heh.


Oh, Sophia's found another cannon to run. 


Chloë, finding the bell on her scavenger sheet


And now it's her turn to pose with the cannon. Hey, who can resist a giant cannon? Another joke I'm not going to pursue.


Jack, entranced by another model ship, left nose-breath marks on the glass. That's what I see every time I look at this photo, anyway.


Sophia makes a scavenger hunt find!


I kept telling them not to sit on this wagon thingy, but they wouldn't listen to me. I mean, why should they? I'm just the mother. *le sigh*


This diorama was actually 3-D, so it was pretty cool. Hard to tell from the pic, though. Jack loved looking at that thing. He kept going back to it.


The girls thought this Fresnel lens was absolutely beautiful. I guess it is, too.


After the lens, they discovered a little side partition where a video was being shown about old-timey Naval life. They actually sat and watched it, shocker of shockers. 


This kid was completely entranced. That's his "TV face."


These two thought the old shipyard fire alarm system was awesome. I had to read to them all about it, from the plaque. They asked me lots of questions to which I didn't know the answers, but no matter. They were soon off to the next thing.


Chloë was way too excited about this old Naval uniform. I do like the dapper hat, though. Er, "cover."



Uncle Sam wants YOU - and Sophia wants Uncle Sam.


I asked Chloë if she was playing Vanna White, the way she posed next to this excavated silver stuff, and she responded, "Mooooommmm, I don't even know what that is." I felt old.


I took this photo of a Mark V dive helmet for Rob, who would love to have one himself.


After a quick perusal of the small gift shop wares, the kids were ready to head back outdoors. I voluntold them to pose in front of this ginormous anchor. Hey, they listened to me for once! Where's the calendar?!


There's a joke here about Jack being a little dinghy, but apparently I'm all out of funny at the moment. Three points if you can make one, in the comments.



Meanwhile, the girls were entertaining themselves (as well as the folks relaxing nearby) running up and down, scaring off the gulls and pigeons. Normally, I wouldn't allow such a thing, but I was tired and wanted to sit for a minute. So I did, right there on the stone pathway, and I burned my butt, thanks to my short shorts. Hmph.


Jack wanted to know what that ship was out there. I told him it looked like a small aircraft carrier to me, but I didn't really know. Later, Rob told me the name of it, but basically, he said, it was like a mini aircraft carrier. Ha!


So while I was sitting there, burning my butt and thighs (hey, I was tired), I felt this tickling on my leg. Turns out it was this poor little spider who'd lost SIX of his eight legs. What a trooper. Looks like some are growing back, though. Good for him, persevering like that in the face of adversity. No, I didn't squash him after that. Would you have?


"Time to go!" I hollered out presently. We headed back to our van, but not before one more look at yet another well-patinaed cannon. This one was Spanish, in case ya care.


Back at the van, the Littles called out, "A tugboat! Look, Mom, a tugboat!" so I was obligated to photograph it, natch. Chloë then insisted it couldn't be a tugboat, because it was pushing instead of pulling, but I informed her she was wrong and it was, indeed, a tugboat. Back at home, our authority on the subject (Daddy, obviously) informed her that it was, indeed, a boat of the tug variety, and that they usually do push more than they pull. She was not happy about being wrong. Nyah, nyah.

Well, I should do something of the sleep variety, but I don't know if I have any in me at the moment. I do have a meeting in six hours, so maybe I'll go lie down with Rob and drool on his chest a little. (I'm so sexy like that.)


Wordless Wednesday: Mamacita's Card

Link up here if you're Wordless (or not) today!


I've been making cards to sell in my Etsy shop lately, and I made one for my MIL (Mamacita) as a thank-you for all she does for us. I kept the outside pretty simple - you'll see why in a sec. Here's the front.


I left the back plain, except for the paper clips. Huh? Wha?


You see? When the card is fully opened, it turns into a 3-D five-point star, and you need those paper clips to keep it opened. This, of course, is the top view.



Each of the five sides of Grandma's card was dedicated to one of her five grandchildren. Handy how it worked out like that, eh?


I kept this card pretty simple, since it was my first attempt, and it was a little complex to figure out at first. I'm looking forward to making more such cards, though!

Happy Hump Day!


Field Trip: Bloom

We started our back-to-school homeschooling here at Sweet Pea Academy on August first, and the kids have already accomplished a lot. So, with that in mind, I feel comfortable with taking the this week and the next few and scheduling lots of field trips in, around our at-home lessons.

On Monday, we had our first field trip of the year at the Bloom grocery store in Chesapeake, which we scheduled through a neat little Box Tops for Education-connected site, Field Trip Factory:


I'd never been to a Bloom before, and judging by their tagline, there, I had no idea what to expect. Turns out, it's, like, a regular grocery store, pretty much. Except they do cool field trips. So, there's that.


David was our tour guide. He talked about shopping the perimeter and took us first to the Deli. At each store department, he asked if the kids knew what was sold in that department. Since they shop with me all the time, the children were pretty good at answering those questions. Sophia's holding her face here because Jack was examining the rotisserie chicken, of which she is most definitely not a fan.


Each department also features products with stars, the number of which indicate how healthy the product it is. They range from none to three. We tried to find three-star items in every area. Here, they were allowed to watch how the deli meat was sliced after selecting Dietz & Watson turkey, ask questions, and of course, get a sample. Sophie didn't like hers, so I ate it. Yummy stuff!


Next, we visited the Bakery. It was, of course, very hard to find products with any stars there, but they eventually discovered some on the whole wheat breads. They selected one and put it in the cart for later. They also got to watch a cake being decorated, and all were vocal about informing the decorator and our tour guide, David, that Mommy does that, too.



The third department was Produce, where of course it was easy to find lots of three-star items. Chloë beat the other children to it, so here they were running to see what she found and find some three-stars of their own.


Chloë checking out some items for stars - she happily pointed out artichokes for me, since I love those, and broccoli for the three of them. All three kids LOVE broccoli. I think it's their favorite veggie.



David was telling them to shake the coconuts so they could hear the milk inside. They got a big kick out of that.


My kids have never had a fresh coconut. I've never bought one! I'll have to rectify that soon, since they were really interested in figuring how how you get one open, get the milk, and eat the meat. If they don't like it, no big loss, since I LOVE the stuff!


In the Produce Department, David was also trying to teach them - when they were paying attention and not going off in three different directions - about the benefits of organic foods vs. traditionally grown produce. Chloë, naturally, was outspoken about what she knew on that subject and how we used to eat a lot of it. I wish we still did! We'll get there again...


David then took us to the preparation room of Produce, to show them how they slice, package, weigh, and mark the watermelons for people who don't want to buy a whole one. Here, he was explaining why he had to wear gloves and a hairnet.



THWACK! That melon didn't stand a chance.


David made quick work of the melon. There's probably a joke there, but I'm not going to make it. You're welcome.


Jack didn't want any watermelon, so here's Chloë offering his slice to me. That was some good stuff, too. I'm normally not a huge fan - I could take it or leave it - but this was definitely a 'take' occasion.


Next, David showed the kids how to use the heat wrapper thingy. I used to do that all the time in the various groceries in which I've worked, so I wanted to show off my skillz on the machine, but then I decided it wasn't my show to steal. 


Then they were shown the produce scale, and how to ring in the codes to produce the right sticker and pricing information.


They were each allowed to put a sticker on a package of watermelon. Simple pleasures...


After that, David had each child try two kinds of "baby" carrots - regular and organic, and they had to guess which was which based on the taste. I sampled, too, and I would've gotten it wrong, but they all got it right! I was kind of impressed by that.


Lastly, they were allowed to taste some pineapple chunks. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the freakin' huge piece Jack selected. He wolfed it down too quickly, though. It was bigger than he was, practically. I tried some, too, and oh, my word, it was delish!


The kids noticed some fruit flies in the back area, so then David went into this explanation of how the store tries to keep the pests at bay and showed them the bug zapper. They would've spent all day on just that if we'd let them!


At last, we were finished with Produce and took a visit through the back to peek into the meat-cutting area. Of course, they weren't allowed in there, but they liked looking at and asking all about the machinery! I was glad it wasn't butchering time. I really didn't want to see that part, myself. Blech.


Here, David was explaining about the back stockroom while I did my best to keep them off the various birds, floats, and other moving objects. Really didn't want a trip to the ER instead of the supermarket!



Another source of excitement was the cardboard box baler. They were all able guess correctly why that was used instead of throwing away the boxes and shared that Mom is really 'big' on recycling!



Watching the baler smush the boxes was fun.


We stepped into the walk-in freezer for the frozen food section after that. Here's Chloë exclaiming, "Oh, my gosh! It's a lifetime supply of ICE CREAM!!" She was disappointed there were samples of that!


Fortunately, David was able to lure them away from the ice cream with samples of Colby-Jack cheese, which Jack again declined because he hates the stuff. (Crazy kid.) The girls, on the other hand, begged about five chunks each off of poor David, who was helpless against their pleas. I snagged a piece, too, and so my pouch was quite full after all my own samples!


In the Dairy section, they were asked to find an orange juice with three stars to add to our cart. They chose Minute Maid and were schooled on what, exactly, is pulp. Do you like a pulpy OJ? I do. Mmm.


After Dairy, we stopped in the Meat Department. Poor David was trying to explain all about the different meats available there and get them to find one with multiple stars, but I discovered a sign promoting a sale on Butt Roast. Hello! I couldn't resist that, so I interrupted, giggling: "Hey, kids! Come read this sign! What does it say?" They read the sign and, between fits of laughter at their reaction, I informed David that I was not the most mature parent in the world. He laughed, too, and allowed them to pick a butt roast for our cart, instead of the lean meats he had been trying to steer them to choose. Hee!


Next stop: Seafood! Chloë was drooling over the shrimp, which she could eat on a daily basis, and showing me the crab legs, which I could eat on a similarly frequent schedule. I won't turn down many kinds of seafood, though. It's my weakness.


David called over one of the Seafood clerks to fish out a lobster for the kids to observe up close. Later, they couldn't decide whether that or sampling all the yummy food was the highlight of their visit.


Since we studied Vertebrates last year, I couldn't resist throwing in a quick review lesson while they were petting the lobster. Two out of three correctly guessed that a lobster is an INvertebrate - I think Chloë was the one who got it wrong, but she redeemed herself by then remembering the word "exoskeleton" and explaining that that was why it wasn't a vertebrate. David wanted to move on from there, so that's as far as we got with that, or I'd have been there all day!


After a quick stop in the Grocery department to find a three-star can of beans, we headed up front to allow the kids to learn how to be cashiers. Chloë enjoyed that so much, she informed me she wanted to be one when she grows up. I started to blurt out, "Let's aim a little higher, shall we?" but refrained, remembering my place. And hey, as long as she's happy, I don't care. Besides, I like being a cashier, too! It's fun.



Chloë was up first, and she scanned the can of beans.


After Sophia scanned the wheat bread they'd picked from the Bakery Department, David showed them how the lower belt worked to deliver the food down to the bagging area. They got a thrill out of turning on and off the belts, naturally.


Jack got a turn in, scanning the orange juice from the Dairy. He could've used a stool!


Sophia was the lucky girl who got to scan the Butt Roast. Butt Roast. Hehehehehe. That still amuses me. I've worked in lots of groceries along the way, and finding "butt" for sale was always funny to me. It still is. Butt.


That was the end of our tour, but wait! There's more! David went behind the Guest Services counter and got them each a nice drawstring gift bag with activity books, pencils, and a toothbrush in each one. 


David looking on as Sophia checks out the contents of her goody bag


One of the kids - Jack, I think - turned around then and asked what the helium tanks were. Of course, that led to an offer for a balloon for each of them. Sucker! They even got to be picky about what colors they received. I should've taught David one of my favorite go-to Mommy/Daisy Leader phrases: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!" Works every time.



And now that was really the end of our Bloom field trip. What a great experience - for free, no less! I totally recommend checking it out, or anything else on Field Trip Factory. It's an awesome resource for parents, homeschooling or not, and educators in the public realm.

Stay tuned, I've got more to come. ;)


Road Trip: Missouri, Six Months Later

At last, the Missouri trip! Cue the trumpets! Of course, now that it has been since end of February since our trip, I will have forgotten lots of little details that I probably would have otherwise included, but I'll make up for that with lots of pictures. So. Here we go!


We left middle of the night, as I recall, and drove straight through to central Missouri where Rob's brother and mom live (in separate locales, an hour apart). I started driving, but when it was day, I let Rob take over. Of course, never missing an opportunity to take "here we are driving to another state" photos, there's the one of Rob behind the wheel, all serious-like.

See how far back he is? He may be, well, petite, but he has freakishly long arms, a short torso and proportionately long legs. I am the opposite and have to sit right up against the wheel. We are forever having to move the seat around when we switch drivers in Penelope (our Odyssey)!



Me, trying to look all cool for my self-portrait. Where HAVE those sunglasses gotten to, anyway?


Jack was seriously excited on this trip. It's rare to get a genuine smile out of him (for a picture, that is). I wish I could remember exactly what this one was about!


I think this one had either just woken up or was on her way out. Or maybe both!


Chloë was pretty happy to be heading to Grandma's, too!


After many, many hours in the car, our first stop was in Columbia, MO, to visit Uncle Mike at his restaurant, Sycamore. He's the chef there, and having eaten there a few times, I can tell you that it is absolutely not to be missed if you're in that town. I love that he uses fresh, local, seasonal foods as much as he possibly can on the menu. Be sure and tell him I sent you. That and five cents will probably get you a nickel, but it would be fun anyway. Here's Chef-Uncle Mike telling the kids something restaurant-y. They hadn't been there since the summer of 2007, which in kids' years is like the entire Triassic Period, so of course they wanted the whole experience again.


Here they are about to go into the giant walk-in freezer. You can see the girls are wearing their Girl Scout tunic and vest, respectively. That's because, before our trip, they'd called up Uncle Mike and asked him if he wanted to buy any GS Cookies for their annual fundraiser. He bought one of each variety from them, so Troop Leader Mom made them go deliver them in uniform. Hee.


Sophia liked playing with the flappy bits of the freezer.


Of course, we didn't feed them during the entire, what, 20-some-hour road trip (har, I jest), so they were quick to bum food off Uncle Mike. Well, they were in a gourmet restaurant, after all! You can't lose with grapes when it comes to kids. 

They liked going downstairs to look at all the restaurant-size stock in the big pantry there, too. Now that we shop at BJs, they're used to seeing those sizes of cans, and one of them mentioned that it was "like at Uncle Mike's restaurant," one time.


One last peek at Uncle Mike and the front of the restaurant, before it was time to say goodbye and get buckled back in the car for the trip to Grandma's. They didn't love that - getting back in the car, that is - but since Grandma was on the other end of the drive, the complaints were kept to a minimum.


Of course, the first picture I have is not of the kids greeting Grandma but something Grandma almost always has on hand (she does way more baking than I do!) - cookies! I think Sophia spotted the chocolate chip goodness in the garage on the way in and, being our constant eater, accosted them until she was granted one or five. Probably not five, though she wouldn't have turned that many down!


After we'd been there a little while, gone through the hellos and how-are-yous, and shown our lovely room in the finished, cozy basement, Grandma (I now call her Mamacita, so if I slip, you'll know whom I mean) took us into the storage room and showed the kids her train collection. Now you KNOW Jack was all over that!


More of Grandma's trains. I seem not to have a picture of it, which is a shame, but when we were on our way home and driving through the coal towns of West Virginia, we stopped at a gift shop. I found a train made entirely of coal for Mamacita, and picked it up for her to send when we got home. Shame on me for not taking a photo!



Well, would you look at that! I lied. I found it already filed away under the photos from March, for some reason (which isn't odd because our trip DID end in the beginning of March but because I usually don't put them "away" like that until they've been blogged). Isn't it cool? I hope Mamacita liked it.

Anyway, back to our trip.


Even Chloë got interested in looking at all the different train cars from one of Grandma's sets - but no one was more enthused than Jack, of course.


Then Grandma brought out another box. I'll show you what that was in a minute, but I just have to say this peeky-peeky view of Sophia amuses the poo out of me!


Inside was an entire train village of ... what's it called? that hard counted cross-stitch frame stuff, the name of which is escaping me at present ... made by either Grandma or her mother. I can't seem to remember that part, either. (Sorry!)


The kids had a great time playing with that, until Grandma said it was time to put things away and go back upstairs. But not before she gave Rob and me all manner of old-timey cookbooks and things, through which I'm STILL looking. Fun stuff!


Upstairs, we were shown Grandma's Galileo thermometer, which fascinated them. (Gotta admit, they intrigue me, too. I've always wanted to get one. Don't know why I never did.)


This is the next day, now. We were expecting a visit from Uncle Mike and his kids, Harry and Elizabeth, who are younger than mine by quite a few years. Out came the toys - old ones, mostly, from Rob's childhood - that Grandma keeps on hand. Sophia delved right into making a block town.



Meanwhile, Jack was busy setting up the play castle. I think he might have snuck a few of the pieces home with him? I don't know, but the "guys" look recently familiar. Hmmm...



Chloë was into building with the blocks after a spell, too. I seem to remember her getting in a fight over them with Sophia. It wouldn't be a stretch to make that up, if not, since they are always doing that and driving me up a wall!


At last, Uncle Mike arrived with his little ones in tow. They take a while to warm up to new people and situations, so they stuck close to Dad for a while. I tried to get Elizabeth to play, or eat a cookie, or otherwise interact with me, but she wasn't ready yet. No worries, we were all old friends by the time we headed back to Virginia!


Now, there was Rob, in the midst of things, checking out the Lego™ cars Uncle Mike had brought for Jack and Harry. Jack is impatient about figuring out how to put things together, much of the time, so I'm sure he went straight to Daddy to ask for help!


Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Chloë and Elizabeth were working on setting up a game of Twister. Do I have to "™" that one, too? ;) I don't think they ever got it sorted out as to the proper rules, though, so maybe the game was never played. I can't remember...


Then the girls were given an Eric Carle book, and all was well again as they read through that one together.


In the living room - which was beginning to look like mine does ALL of the time - Harry had a flashlight. I got multiple pictures of him playing with that, but none as cute as this. I love the "figuring out" look on his face.


The girls were getting along swimmingly by that point, so there were all kinds of toys and games shared amongst the three of them. It was jolly good to see them playing together so nicely!


Harry was in more of a solitary kind of mood, then. But where was Jack? Playing with something wheeled, it's certain.



Next, Elizabeth showed us how her Daddy flips her, which then obligated him to do the same with Sophia (who weighs half a ton, no lie) and Chloë (more like half an ounce, no lie). About a hundred times. His poor back was aching after that, I'm sure!


Well, this was nice. More Eric Carle reading (The Mixed-Up Chameleon). Isn't it great to see kids - cousins, that is - who never see each other, getting along so swell. Warm fuzzies, I get, just remembering.


Oh, look, there's Jack again, probably having a "bossy" moment. He does that sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. He's not good at sharing. Luckily, it doesn't appear that Harry minded too much!


Look, there's me again! How exciting. I barely recognize myself, even now. Liz was distracted by something, but she really was paying attention to the story I was reading her. In fact, she asked me to read it about ten times. I obliged. It's not often I get to read to her, after all.


After a while, when it was late, my kiddos changed into their jammies, and Miss Linda - Grandma's roommate - allowed them upstairs to her suite to watch a kids' movie. They had a ball, they did. Going up to Miss Linda's room is a special treat, after all.


When the movie ended, and it was time for the littlest Odette children to head back to Columbia for bed, I tried to get them all seated on the stairs for a group picture. It was a comedy of errors. Here's attempt 1: nope!


#2: nope, nope!


For #3, the daddy Odettes got into the act to try and old the squirmy children still, but they STILL wouldn't all look at me!


#4: Ah, forget it!! Not gonna happen. (If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times: child photographers do NOT get paid enough!)



At least the three Odette girl-children posed together nicely for me. Check out Sophia's ridiculous stance. She's still doing that pose all these months later. What a goof!


Either he's happy the kids have gone to bed, or he's giving me a sarcastically-non-genuine "get out my face with that camera" smile.


Nope, they're still here! Must've been the latter. I get that a lot.


The next morning, we arose and got ready to leave for the second half of our week, my mystery shop at a resort in Branson. I found that town to be a lot like Pigeon Forge, TN, except with pretty bluffs. Neither was particularly my cup of tea, but hey, at least now I can say I've been there. This child was really sick on the drive down, but here it looks like she's in the middle of pitching a fit. I should know; she does it about five times every day. ::rolls eyes::


After checking into our resort, we went out to eat at a local touristy establishment for which we'd been given some decent coupons. As usual, there were crayons and coloring papers for the kids. Jack doesn't usually get into it as much as the other two, so this picture is of interest - at least, to me.


Rob ordered a huge beer, which took him about eleventeen hours to finish. He doesn't chug. He's not a chugger. So many times, I have gone out to eat with him and the meal took much longer than it ought to have, because he's so poky about finishing his beverages. And yes, that's a major character flaw. Ha!


I ordered these. Of course, I consumed nowhere near all of that, and there was much sharing and saving for later happening with these crab legs. But, hello, yum!


We stopped at Wal-mart after dinner to get a few groceries, and since our tax refund had come in, this new laptop for me to take with us on mystery shopping trips. We'd bought one for the kids, which I usurped during each such trip, back in the Fall, but Sophia had recently dropped it by accident, and it was kablooey. Can I just say, I hate this laptop? Hate it. It is the spawn of the debbul.


"Home" to the resort after dinner, where Rob crashed on our comfy bed. It was a nice place, I'll give it that.


I can't remember if Jack already had this and brought it along on the trip, or we got it for him at Wal-mart, or what, but I'm thinkin' the latter. Else, why the huge smile?


The next day, we were able to go see a show called Dixie Stampede, a Dolly Parton thing, which had been recommended by my friend Julie when we were in Pigeon Forge but couldn't do at the time. I found a good deal on some tickets, and off we went!  Naturally, my horse lover, Sophia, was in 7th heaven when we were able to see the "performers" in their stables getting fed and groomed. 


The girls were enraptured of (with?) this big floral butterfly on the front lawn, and they insisted I photograph it. So there you go, lady-babies.


Sophia climbed right up on the display horse at the top of the hill. Rules, schmules, she doesn't care whether it's allowed. Take my picture, dammit!


Chloë thought the cannon was pretty cool.


Oh, another pretty horse, inside this time. And that was the last of the photos until we got "home," because Dixie Stampede doesn't allow photography, under penalty of death. 


I did a little souvenir-shopping after the show, and each of the kids got one of these lollies with the horsies on them. Jack and Sophia each had a birthday coming up, so I let them pick out something for that, too, for later. Now that Chloë's birthday is around the corner, I'm wondering if she picked out something for that, too. I think she did, and it's in my closet! Glad I remembered in time...!


Just for sillies.


Huh. I wonder why this kid has so many cavities? ::scratches head in puzzlement::



After that, it was time for a bath. The kids love baths, especially in hotels. They'd live in there if I let them. Anyway, a long time ago, I'd gotten something for them on steep clearance at The Body Shop, and I'd put it away for a special occasion. I'd forgotten about it until I was packing for this trip, so I thought that was as good a time as any to give it to them. You can see I made them close their eyes and hold out their hands to get it!


"What the heck is it?!"


Why, it was animal-shaped soaps, of course! Sophia was given a sea turtle...


...Chloë a (badly photographed) elephant,...



...and Jack got a humpback whale. There were two or three more in the package, and since I think they bathed until every last bit of soap was gone, I probably gave those to them for the next night. They loved it. Just one of those little "nothing" surprises that make life fun, I guess.


The next day, we made the pilgrimage up to Springfield, MO, home of the original Bass Pro Shops. We had lunch with our kids' long-ago babysitter, Angie, and her husband Chris, but I completely forgot to take any pictures of them! Wait, I'll go steal one off her Facebook page, haha:


Then we said our good-byes and headover over to BPS. And oh, my, it was HUGE. Lots of scenery, stuff to do, and of course, things to buy. Let's see, shall we?


The sign tickled my fancy!


This is the kind of place where, as soon as you walk in, you want to look everywhere and see everything at once, because there's just SO MUCH stuff to see! And they didn't spare any detail, either. It was really cool.


I think Sophia was most excited about all the scenery and taxidermied animals, though I'm not quite sure she realized most of them were stuffed!


This guy sure wasn't! Or was he? You decide.


Soph and Rob made sure I noticed the deer "running" around overhead, on one end of the massive store.


Yep, definitely plenty to see!


Jack climbed onto this Arctic Cat ATV, which was a wee bit too big for him - but he didn't care. Look at that grin!


Meanwhile, Chloë was petting this, um, dead pig thing. Wild boar, I guess? Maybe?


I just liked the look of all the rods displayed together like that...


Chloë definitely found an ATV she liked!


And this one suited Sophia perfectly. She may be a tomboy, but she's all girl when it comes to pink and purple.


Ahh, here's one that's more Jack's size. Now if only we had a few extra grand...


Always the lawbreaker, there's Sophia climbing again, this time into a speed boat. Can't blame her. I love them, too!


I was so glad to capture this moment, as it is truly rare, much more so than one of Jack's genuine camera smiles. They play together nicely half the time, but the other half - watch out! (And yes, I have to point out how one has a tush that fills out her jeans nicely, while the other can barely keep her pants up. Hehe.)



Oh, now we're back to petting stuffed animals. Lynx? Bobcat? I have no clue.



No doubt about what this is. P-U!


Jack's checking out the turtles, and probably thinking, "How can I get in there?"


They even left no stone unturned when it came to the ceilings. So fascinating.



After that, Rob helped each of the kids with their target practice. They must have played that game ten times. I got bored and went and bought a bag of hot nuts. I do like some hot nuts. ;)


Love the look of concentration on Chloë's face here.


...And Sophie the lefty's turn.


Look out, deer!


Checking out something, with a temporary friend, maybe? They make lots of those.

After that, I sent Rob to roam around and look at stuff with the kids, while I did a little shopping. Probably a little too much, but I got some great deals on some things they could really use - and have - sooo... Later, at our resort suite, I presented their goodies with much fanfare. I'm a fan of, uh, that.



Okay, so the fishing poles and tackle boxes were Rob's idea, and they LOVE them. Rob has taken them fishing a billion times since then, so those were completely worthwhile.



The net was to go along with the fishing gear, and the Bug Jug was to replace Jack's bug kit from camp the previous summer, which Sophia had broken. He was utterly dismayed about that, and just as thrilled to get a new one. He's forever wanting to put bugs in there and look at them, too!


Name placemats, for dinnertime. Well, anytime, duh. Of course, we never find anything with the right ë, but she's used to that! I do remember they used them for every meal we ate at the resort after that! Now, they rarely get used but once in a while.



Jack needed a coat, and I found an awesome one for him on clearance. Chloë got the wildlife puzzle, and Sophia was given a camp activity book and another chirpy bird. This time, a cardinal. (When we went to Beaver Lake in my hometown, she picked out a goldfinch. She's a big fan of birds, too.)


The hats and mittens were on deep clearance, too. Don't they look so cute?


You can't see, but Jack's watch has cars on it. Chloë's has hearts, and Sophia's has penguins, which are one of her favorite animals. I figured it was time to teach them how to tell time. Unfortunately, these watches are lost and found all. the. time.


For dinner that night, we did the Japanese hibatchi thing. We've only done that with the kids one other time, so when I found a good coupon for one around the corner from where we were staying, we jumped on it. One of the two sisters sharing our table took the picture for us. Those two girls got a huge kick out of just about everything my kids said!



So yum. We got some hibatchi AND some sushi, which of course was waaay too much for my little pouch - lucky for Rob!


Great. Now I'm craving some. As a totally irrelevant and probably uninteresting aside, I can NOT eat rice at all except as part of sushi. Must be the stickiness that lets me eat it?


This guy was HEE-larious - and very talented, too! He threw food into everyone's mouth and, as is usually the case at a hibatchi, did all manner of other tricks. Love those restaurants. Have you never been? You must try it!


This part always scares the kids! Well, both times it has. 


Time to cook the food. I am a major fan of scallops, and Rob is quite the opposite, so I get them every chance I get. These did not disappoint. Mmm-mmm-mmm!


For a little treat later that night, I gave the kids these other lollies, which I'd also picked up at the Stampede. I'm a sucker, I know. (pun intended. heh heh)



Obligatory candy pose. Oh, wait, I'm not supposed to show you this. Let's fix that, in case that meany hate-mail lady is still reading, shall we?


There. Better? :P


Eh, feckit. They wound down a little with some telly before bed. And yes, I know, they shouldn't be still sucking their thumbs. It's hard to give up!


I can't remember what this was. Hot cocoa, maybe? I probably didn't need to include this shot, but this post is already picture-crazy, so why not?

We checked out the next morning and drove up to St. Louis for my own personal yarn shopping spree at The Loopy Ewe, which I already told you about here. And then we went west again, to meet Uncle Mike and his kiddos for dinner at Sycamore, a kind of spontaneous decision that I'm so glad we made, because it was (a) delicious, (b) loads of fun, and (c) great for the brothers to do some up-catching.


Harry and Liz, Sycamore regulars


Uncle Mike giving Sophie a little QT.


Mike's kids LOVE mussels and get them every time they eat at their dad's restaurant. Crazy, no? My kids wouldn't touch those in a million years, so good for them!


After dinner, during much of which I chased the five children around the upscale, fancy restaurant to help keep them in line while the menfolk chatted, we decided it was too soon to say our good-byes, so we chose to go to a nearby park to play. First, though, the kids wanted to look in the fountain and sculpture outside the restaurant.


I love the way Harry is beaming up at Chloë here!


And look at Elizabeth, taking off her shoes and socks to dip her feet in the freezing cold water, without a care in the world! Silly girl. She reminds me of Sophia, that way!


At the park, it was even colder, so (much to Jack's chagrin), I put his new coat on Liz to keep her warm. Then the three of us parents chased the five kids - especially frequent escapee Harry - around the park for an age or two. It was loads of fun; we all had a blast, I think!

And then, it was over, and we hugged and kissed and maybe some of us cried a little, and there were promises to keep in touch, and that was it. Back into the van, to head back home here to VA.


So that was Missouri, with all its bluffs and natural expanses we don't see much of here, 



... oh, and we can't forget our snapshot from Dolly's show, now, can we?

But one last thing.


In West VA, where we made that rest stop and stopped at the artisans' village, and where I picked up that coal train for Mamacita, I snapped this picture of handmade kitchen utensils on a kind of tree, because it looked cool and stuff.


And I plucked this egg separator off that tree, and yes, I have used it many times since then. Sometimes I forget we have it, but when I remember, it works great!


And oh, gosh, I'm a terrible mother, because look what I got for the children again?! That's it. No more crap when we go places. (I promise they don't eat like this all the time, at home!) 


And last, but not least, a coal German Shepherd Dog for Rob, in honor of our former pooch, Tiger Lily. It sits on his dresser. She isn't doing well, so soon, ... well, I don't want to end on that note.

It was a fantastic trip, and I'm thrilled we were able to go. Even more so that this post finally got written, sheesh! It took me HOURS, so if any of you actually read it, please comment and say so. And thanks.


Deals And Steals: The 2011 Edition

Maybe I've done D&S in this current calendar year, but it seems like forever-and-a-day since then, hence the titular title. (I talk funny. I know that's redundant. I do not care. Don't send me hate mail. About that or anything else, please, because I am a sensitive person. Thanks.)

I completely used Hip2Save to make my lists o' shopping, except for the Max and Depot o' the Office, for which I simply used my newspaper ads. Check out Collin at Hip. The site, it is Teh Awesome. I lurve it. When I have time to read it, anyway. When I don't, I pine for it. It's that good.

Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we? Where did I go, what did I buy, and how much did I save? (If you don't care, skip the damn post and don't send me hate mail. Please and thanks.)

First Stop: Rite Aid

Three transactions here, to minimize OOP (out-of-pocket) expense and maximize savings. Make sure to get - and use - their Wellness Rewards card!

Transaction Numero Uno:


Rite-Aid receipts don't spell out the normal, non-sale price of items, and I forgot to write them down, so the actual savings are higher than what I'm going to report for this store. I know you care.

Purchased: (2) bottles of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent, (4) 4-packs of Colgate Wisp (the kids LOVE these, and they're great for traveling), and (1) box Colgate 6.4-oz toothpaste in one of their fancy varieties.

Used: (4) 50¢ printable MQs (manuf. coupons) for the Wisps + (1) $1 MQ for the detergent. Unbelievably (I know!!), I didn't have a MQ for the toothpaste, which is rare and sucky.

Spent OOP: $15.88

Saved in MQs and Wellness + Savings: $12.65

Received: $9 in Wellness + SQs (store coupons)for next trans.

Transaction Numero Dos:



Purchased: (2) 18-ct boxes Playtex Gentle Glide (not for me, but I have two young girls who would be - eventually - mortified for you to know I'm stocking up for their eventual need of such products); (1) bottle of Listerine Smart Rinse for the kiddos; (2) 6-oz bottles of Cutex nail polish remover; (2) 50-ct bottles of Mentos PURE gum; and (1) box of Veet facial wax strip things (which I have since sold on eBay, since I am thankfully not a hirsute lady-person).

Used: (2) $1 MQs for the Mentos, $2 SQ (store coupon) for the Veet from the weekly circular, $1 ad SQ for the Listerine; $9 Wellness+ SQs from Trans #1; (2) $2 MQs for the Playtex; $2 MQ for the Veet, and $1 MQ for the Listerine. (Yes, you can "stack" SQs and MQs for the same item, for this and most stores.)

Spent OOP: $4.45

Saved in MQs, SQs and Wellness+: $31.59

Received: (5) $1 Wellness+ Qs for next trans.

Transaction Numero Tres:


(I know, more lady business. Guess what? Grow up. There will be more, too, so nyah-nyah-nyah!)

Purchased: (1) 11-oz Gain Dish liquid; another Veet (also eBay-ed) face wax thingy; (2) 20-ct pcks Carefree pads; and a bit of a splurge, L'Oréal Eye Illuminator Mascara. (The funny part is, after I got it home and really looked at it, I realized it was the same mascara I had given a bad review a few months earlier. Maybe I'll eBay that, too!) Oh, and a teeny carton of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish for "filler" to have the right item-to-coupon ratio (read Hip blog for more on that), which the kids ate and which is therefore not pictured.

Used: (4) $1 Wellness+ SQs from Trans 2; $1/2 ad SQ for Carefree; (2) 50¢ MQs for Carefree; $2 ad SQ + $2 MQ for the Veet; 50¢ MQ for the Gain; $2 ad SQ + $3 MQ for the mascara.

Spent OOP: $1.31

Saved in MQs, SQs and Wellness+: $20.38

Received: (3) $1 Wellness+ Qs for next week (plus I still have one $1 one from Trans 2)

Total Rite Aid OOP: $21.64

Total Rite Aid Savings: $64.62 + $4 SQ for later

I call that a WIN!

Next stop: CVS

Two transactions here, to max savings and min spending. Make sure to get - and use - both their ExtraCare card and green bag tag card!

Transaction Numero Uno:


Purchased: (Again a bit of a splurge for me, but a splurge-with-a-purpose, as it all works out in my favor anyway): (3) different shades of Revlon Nail Enamel, reg. $5.49, on sale $4.99 each

Used: (2) $1 MQs + $3 SQ from the "magic coupon machine" (read Hip blog for more info on that) for any $10 Revlon purchase

Spent OOP: $10.72

Saved in MQs, SQs and sales: $6.50

Received: $1 ExtraCare Buck (ECB) for Green Bag Tag 4th use + $9 ECB (3 for each Revlon bottle)

Transaction Numero Dos:


Purchased: (6) 1-subject notebooks for 3/$1 (reg. $2.27 ea.); CVS "Escape" full-size body wash for $2.27); (2) 3/4-lb bags of M&Ms (peanut & pretzel, if you must know) (reg $4.19 & $3.79 respectively; on sale 2/$5); Reese's Big Cup for $1.19; J.R. Dippers pretzel-cheese snack pack (sucky btw, don't waste your $) as "filler" for $1; AirWick Freshmatic Kit for $6.99 (reg $14.49); (2) bottles CVS "Big Chill" water (not something I'd normally buy, but I got a SQ from the magic coupon machine, they were BOGO Free, the kids were thirsty, and it was VERY HOT out that day); and 100-ct CVS Clear Spot bandages ($4.19).

Used: $3 SQ for the CVS body wash (overage! yay!); $4 MQ for the AirWick; $1/2 MQ for the m&ms; 50¢ SQ for the water; $1.19 SQ for the Reese's (making it free); $4.19 SQ for the bandages (free); $9 ECB SQ from trans #1; $1 ECB SQ from trans #1.

Did not expect nor receive any ECBs for next week. Darn!

Spent OOP: 89¢!

Saved in MQs, sales & ECBs: $47.47!



I call that another WIN!

Next stop: Walgreens

Three transactions here, to min/max spend/save. Walgreens doesn't (yet, which is aggravating) have a rewards card, but do make use of their weekly and monthly Register Rewards (RRs) coupons (read on Hip for more info).

Transaction Numero Uno:


(Pictured are items for all 3 "Wags" transactions, because either I got lazy or stupid or something.)

Purchased: (1) Omega SMART Super Krill supplement (which I will either try myself or eBay; haven't decided - thoughts?): reg. $28.99, on sale for $10!

Used: $2 printable MQ

Received: $10 RRs, making this a $2 moneymaker (MM)! Woot!

Spent OOP: $8.50

Saved in MQs & sales: $20.99


Transaction Numero Dos:

Purchased: (2) "fancy" (as opposed to plain' ol' regular) Crest 5.8-oz toothpastes, sale 2/$5); Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor for Rob, who goes through razors like there's no tomorrow; I'd have bought more, but I snagged the last one), sale $9.99; (2) Snickers bars (for Rob, who loves them) as "filler" items, on sale 49¢ each.

Used: $10 RR from trans #1; (2) 75¢ MQ for the Crest, and $4 MQ for the razor.

Received: $4 and $2 in RRs for the razor and toothpaste, respectively, for next trans.

Spent OOP: $1.24

Saved in MQs, RRs & sales: $21.78!


Transaction Numero Tres:

Purchased: (2) reg-size Sure deodorants, sale 2/$3 with ad SQ; (4) Bic Ultra Grip 8-ct pens, sale 99¢ each with ad SQ; (4) StayFree maxi pads (yes, I know, sorry!), sale BOGO - so $6.99 each.

Used: Ad SQs for the Sure, Bic, and pads, without which you will NOT get the sale price, so make sure you clip and hand those over!; (2) $1/2 Bic MQs, which I had to argue with the manager/cashier (same guy) to take because they were NOT the pens pictured on the Q, though the Q read "ANY BIC PRODUCTS" so hello! (and it didn't beep when he scanned it either, so he was just being a jerkface chickenhead); (2) $4.49/2 MQs for the pads, (2) $1 MQs for the Sure deo., and the $4 and $2 RRs from Trans #2.

Received: No RRs for next week, darn.

Spent OOP: $3.01

Saved in MQs, RRs & sales: $44.54!



I do believe I would call that another WIN, folks!

(Are you keeping track of my OOPs vs Savings so far? Good, because I'm not.)

Fourth Stop: Office Max

We stopped here for their super-cheap back-to-school supplies. The sale stuff was extremely disorganized, and much of it was out of stock with NO subs allowed, leading me to comment to the cashier that this was my "most frustrating shopping trip ever." This isn't quite true - I've had much worse - but dang! It was up there!


I got much less than expected. Oh, well.

Purchased: (5) pocket folders for 1¢ each (limit 5); 3 protractors for 5¢ each (limit 3); 1 ruler for 1¢ (limit 3 but I snagged the last one); and a bucketlet of assorted erasers, since those are ALWAYS needed 'round these parts, for $1.49.

Total OOP: $1.79

WIN? Sure, why not, though I didn't get but a third of what I wanted. =D 

Fifth stop (and yes, the kids were complaining by then, but I was a mom on a mission, and besides, I'd brought along - and bought - sustenance for the duration): Office Depot, which was a much more well-organized sale, thank you so much!


Purchased: (5) composition notebooks, 25¢ each, limit 5; (3) 8-pks of Scholastic fluorescent crayons, clearanced at 50¢ each, reg 99¢; (5) 24-ct packs of Scholastic crayons, 25¢ each (and not worth a penny, now that we've tried them - stick to Crayola, folks!), limit 5; $1.99 pack of 300 3x5" index cards, which I'm going to use for Sophia's reading this year (and in fact already have, and since you asked, her reading has come along in HUGE strides since we started back to school on 1 August! ♥); Scholastic 8-pk washable markers, clearanced for $2, reg $3.29; (5) compasses, 25¢, reg $1.99, limit 5; (2) cute fabric-covered pushpin packs clearanced for 50¢ each; (5) packs of 12-ct #2 pencils at 25¢ each, reg 99¢, limit 5 (another hot commodity here, since my 3 kids can't keep track of a pencil for five minutes to save their ever-lovin' lives!); (5) stretchy print bookcovers, 25¢ each, reg $1.99, limit 5; magnetic locker mirror on clearance for 50¢, which I gifted to Chloë just because...; (10) 2-pocket portfolio folders, 1¢ each, reg 25¢, limit 10; (5) rulers, 1¢ each, reg 99¢, limit 5...

oh, and I forgot these:


(2) cork-like magazine-rack type holders and (2) matching baskets, on clearance for $3 each (the mag racks were marked $4, but I easily talked the clerk into making them $3 just by asking, so try it!) = $12 for all. I'm going to use these to tame the paper monster that is my desk at all times, so definitely thought these were worthwhile purchases.

Total OOP: $26.66, including the four baskets above.

Total Savings: $34.30

WIN? I say so, so there. We're 5/5 wins!

And, last-but-certainly-not-least stop of the day: Target

(we had plans to go across to Wal-mart and get some deals there, too, but we were all pooped after this, so we skipped it. Just as well.)

{As far as I know, Target does not have a rewards card (also used one at both "Office" stores, but forgot to mention it - so sign up for those, too!), but at least they price match, stack coupons - they put out their own SQs on their website and in the mail, AND on your mobile phone - and give you 5¢ back for every reusable bag used for your purchase, so that's somethin'.}

Transaction Numero Uno:


Purchased: (2) Schick Hydro 5 Blast razors, on sale $6.49 each PLUS kicks back a $5 GC when you buy two

Used: $2 MQ + $1 SQ (Should've been TWO $2 MQs, but I didn't notice until I got home, and I went to the far-away-but-near-Office Depot location, and I didn't feel like dragging my butt back there to get it and wasting more than that in gas, kwim?)

Received: $5 GC

OOP: $11.98

Savings: $8 according to the receipt, but really more b/c they don't count on-sale vs. full-price there.

Transaction Numero Dos:


Phew. This will be a long one. Purchased:

  • (2) 3-packs Trident White gum, $1.99 each
  • 1 3-pack Trident Vitality gum, $1.18
  • (2) 3-packs Orbit gum (the tooth fairy will use all this gum, if I don't munch it up first)
  • (4) packs Ritter Sport chocolate-covered biscuits, $1.97 each (was supposed to be less, rang up wrong, but again I didn't discover 'til home)
  • (2) bottles Guldens mustard (a fave of Rob's), $1 each
  • (4) cans Chef Boyardee pasta, 82¢ each
  • (4) cans Spaghettios, 68¢ each
  • (3) 4-pk Hunt's Snack pack pudding, 95¢ each
  • (1) 4-pk Sugar-free Hunt's Snack Pack pudding, clearanced for 86¢ (for moi)
  • (1) 6-pk Dannon Danimal smoothies, $1.49
  • (2) 3-pks Ivory soap bars, $1.27 each
  • (2) Lady Mitchum deodorants, $1.99 each
  • (2) Olay beauty bars, 97¢ each
  • (2) Satin Care shaving cream cans, $1.97 each
  • (2) 12-pks Bic women's Twin Select razors, $2 each
  • 2 4-pks forks and 2 4-pks spoons, since our supply has somehow, suddenly (???) dwindle down to nothing, $1.99 each
  • Travel-size pk Hefty one-zip bags, 99¢
  • (3) Cars 2-themed Kleenex travel tissue packs, 39¢ each
  • (4) Johnson & Johnson Red Cross First Aid to-go kits, 99¢ each
  • (3) Nexcare Strawberry Shortcake 20ct bandages, $1.12 each
  • (2) boxes ½-oz Up-and-Up eye drops, 97¢ each
  • (2) 4-packs Expo Dry Erase markers, $3 each
  • (1) pack U.S. Presidents flash cards, for Chloë, $1

Total OOP after taxes, SQs, MQs, and $5 GC from Trans #1: $44.45

Total MQ/SQ savings (does NOT include sale price savings): $48.09

Since that's more than 50% already, without including sales, I'm going to score that in the "Win!" column as well.

So there you have it. Wednesday's deal shopping was a LONG, sometimes arduous, but totally profitable day. AND I got free chocolate = BONUS! ;)

Thanks for reading, if you actually did. (Bonus points for YOU!)


Sunday Stealing: The 31 Meme, Partes Uno Y Dos

Sunday Stealing 

I didn't participate the last two weeks, and I don't feel like doing what I should be doing right now, so here you go. Link up here if you want and stuff.

1. What has been your longest love relationship?

My relationship with Hubs, which will be 11 years on 1 November! ♥

2. What was the last gift that you received?

A protein smoothie, from my friend Stevie (I have yet to think of a nickname for her, dammit)

3. What do you spend your extra cash on?

There is no extra cash, but I spend money I don't have on: craft stuff, Diet Coke, and traveling. Heh.

4. If you could live anywhere would you live?

Thailand or Japan or Australia or Hawaii or St. Bart's, or... you get the picture. Somewhere ELSE and exotic.

5. Who's your cell provider?


6. What's your favorite mall store?

I don't have a favorite mall store. I really don't like going to the mall.  OK if I had to pick, probably Bath & Body Works. Stuff smells good in there!

7. What's the longest job that you've had? (No parenting does not count!)

(Fine!) That would probably, then, be working as a cashier at Publix. A month after starting, I was moved into the office, because I was kick-ass, and eventually, I ran the whole front-end section, which sucked. I hated that. I don't like being the boss. I'm not a very intimidating person.

8. If you won the lottery, who would you call first?

Husband, and then no one else! I'd keep it a secret for as long as I could, man!

9. If you won, how would you spend your money after investments?

After all the bills and everything were paid off and everything was smartly invested, I'd set up college fund trusts for the children and then travel an insane amount, so much so that I couldn't remember where "home" actually was.

10. When was the last time you went to church (or a religious house)?

Last month. We try to go every week, but that hasn't happened since Sophia was born. In 2005. Heh.

11. What's the biggest lie that you've heard?

I'm going to stay away from Politics and go with, "No, I didn't cheat on you!"

12. When you go out with your friends, where do you go?

I go to craft night and used to go to Bunco. Otherwise, there is no friend-going-out business. Please. I'm not 20 anymore!

13. When was the last time that you cried?

Earlier today, talking about my little angel baby and stuff with the kids. The four of us all cried and had a hug-a-thon. It was cathartic. I'd been needing a good cry.

14. What food do you hate?

Mustard, mushrooms, raw tomatoes, and the meat of any four-legged animal. Which I don't really *hate*, per se, I just don't eat that.

15. What do you like best about yourself?

My sense of humor. When I want to be, I am one funny-ass girl.

16. What's the longest shift that you worked at a job?

Probably not that long, like 12 hours, I think. However, I have worked an 8-hour shift, gone out all night and partayed, and then gone straight back to work for another 8-hour shift. Once. In college. Then I slept for 16 hours. Fun times.

17. What was the last concert that you attended?

I think it was the Black-Eyed Peas, last Feb. Nothing else is coming to mind... but that was a sufficient level of awesomeness that I'm good for now, thanks.

18. What the last DVD (or Blu Ray, of course) movie that you watched?

Uhhh.... Good question. I want to see that newest "something-or-other Shmucks" movie with Steve Carell and am about to go get it, though, since I can't seem to get Hubs to go for me! :P

19. How did you like the film?

I can't remember the last non-kid DVD I watched! So, "pass."

20. What comedian do you love?

Steve Carell, duh! And I like Ellen deGeneres. And Conan. And some other folks, but I can't think of anyone... oh, yeah, I like Will Ferrell.

21. Do you ever sleep in the nude?

Sometimes, but I haven't done it in a while.

22. Have you ever had a long distance relationship?

Yeah. Those suck. My marriage started out as one, so I can no longer say "those never work out," though, like I used to. And my BFF married her long-distance love, too. So.

23. What do you think of astrology?

It's entertaining, but I think it's generally hooey.

24. What's your favorite lyric quote from a song?

"Flies like to fly, 'cause they don't like to stay," from The Presidents of the United States of America's song, "Feather Pluckin'."

25. Tell us something random about yourself.

Ugh. I can never think of anything THAT random that y'all don't already know! Okay, let's see... I constantly pick at myself, like pieces of skin and my face and nails and stuff. When I was gigantic, I would think, "ooh, I just lost a little bit of weight" when I peeled something off. LMAO! Yes, I'm a little (lot) crazy...

26. Have ever attended a theme party? If yes, do tell.

Uhhh... I guess so, probably for a kid, but nothing's coming to mind. Sorry to disappoint. I've NEVER been to a Halloween costume party, though, and I've NEVER been the guest of honor for a surprise party, so keep that in mind. I'll be 35 in a few weeks, which would be a GREAT time for you to throw me one, don't you think? Hee.

27. What is your favorite thing about winter?

When it ends. I hate that mess!

28. What was the name of your first pet?

Johnny. He was a GREAT dog. A bit of a scoundrel, though!

29. What have you done so far this weekend?

Uh. Memes. And sleeping, I did do that. And a lot of sitting around, planning our (homeschool) days for the next, oh, three weeks. TONS of field trips coming up, before we get back into the more rigorous stuff, because museums are free for military until the Day of Labor, and I forgot ALL summer to take advantage. I suck.

30. Has your humor ever been called “sick”?

Heck yeah.

31. If you could have one thing, what would it be?

That Steve Carell movie and an enormous cup of Diet Coke!

Have a great one, pals, and others. Heh.


Sunday Stealing: The Heaven Eleven Meme

Sunday Stealing 

Link up here if you're playing along today!

1. If you could live in any other time period, which would you pick?

I'd like to live in the 50s and go to sock hops and beehive my hair and wear cat-eye glasses and drive around in those cool cars. But really, I'd like to see what it was like when people were generally actually NICE to each other, just for the sake of being nice. Not this "every man for himself" business we have going on now.

2. What is your favorite topic to write on your blog other than a meme?

My kiddos and the cute/silly/fun stuff they do! (I know, boring to some of you, but that's, like, the whole point of this blog, in theory...)

3. What are some traits that you admire in a lover?

A big weiner. Kindness. Supportiveness. Understanding. Patience. And above all, intelligence and a good sense of humor. Without those two things, see ya!

4. Could you adjust to life in another country?

Absolutely. I'd love to give it a whirl right now, actualmente.

5. If you could study anything, what would it be?

Well, everything, eventually. I would love to study photography. I really SHOULD study finance.

6. What is your favorite possession that cost less than $15?

Does this case of Diet Coke count? Probably not, since it's not a permanent possession. Okay, then, I'm going to go for... the backpack purse I'm using right now, which cost me $2-3 at the store of thrift. And it's like new! Woot!

7. Which color do you wear most often?

I wear all the colors. When I was a gigantasaurus, it was all black, all the time. My favorite color to wear is red, but I probably wear mostly blues and greens, since that's what I have the most.

8. What has been your “theme song”, or favorite song this summer?

That Adele song, "Rolling in the Deep." Kicks ASS, right?!

9. What's the most romantic thing that's ever been said to you?

That my husband would still marry me now, if he'd known then what it would be like. He may have been lying, though... ;)

10. What would be your dream birthday cake?

Well, I guess it would have to be sugar-free ice cream cake that still tastes delicioso. With those chocolate crumbly things in the middle. Also sugar-free. Mmmm!

11. What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

Eloped two months after I met my husband-to-be. That was awesome. I totally recommend eloping over all that wedding-preparing-misery crap!

See ya's....


Saturday 9: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'


Link up here if you're playing along today!

1. In a relationship, have you ever hung in even when you knew for sure it was over?

Just once, yes. Way too long, too. What a waste of time that was.

2. If you had the ability to perpetually alleviate any pain on your body, what would it be?

Migraines and any other headaches. Those are the worst, for me.

3. What place would you visit if money were no object?

I'd go all over Australia. Ahh, to dream...

4. What is one thing you would love to change about yourself?

Physically, I would get rid of all the extra skin left over from losing over 200 lbs. If that's not what you meant, then I would take away the scourge of bipolar disorder and all the problems that come with it.

5. Do you think your parents were too strict growing up?

Hah. Yes and no. That's a complex question. I had an abusive childhood, and that's all I want to say about it right now. For a long time, I had concluded that I raised myself, but now I realize they did raise me - they just did a shitty job of it, mentally speaking.

6. In general, how many old friends do you have that you talk to at least once a year?

I'm going to call anyone I've known since elementary school or longer an old friend, so I would have to make that number at least 20-25, now through the magic of Facebook. I have had a lot of friends come and go from my life, and I thought it was a personal fault of mine (and maybe it is), until my dad made me realize this is not uncommon and happened to my dear, long-departed mother as well. And I have had a LOT of long-term friends, so... it all comes out in the wash. But you probably didn't expect or desire that long of an answer.

7. What was the last compliment you received?

Sophia told me she liked my shirt (she's my 6yo). lol

8. Have you ever told someone you loved them but didn't really mean it?


9. In your opinion, would it be harder to lose someone close to you more as a child or harder as an adult?

Honestly, I must be stupid, because I don't really understand the question the way it's phrased. So I'm going to interpret it as, "Would it be harder to lose someone close to you while you're a child, or as an adult?" and I'm going to say that "it depends." I've lost my mother at a very young age (7), and I've lost my son as an adult (28, when he was 3 days old), and I've lost a multitude of others along the way. Obviously those two stand out as major losses, though, and the pain is not quantifiable. The only thing I can is that it's impossible to get over either, it's impossible to make sense of either, and all one can do is understand that it's all a part of life.

On that somewhat sad note, have an excellent weekend.


Aloha Friday


Link up here if you have a question for us this week!

My question for you this week is:

What do you do with yourself when you're tired but can't fall asleep?

I'm in that boat right now. I lay down for half an hour, but I couldn't get comfortable, much less sleepy enough to drift off. And I'm too tired to do much of anything else. So I'm Aloha Friday-ing and then I don't know what on earth I'm going to do. Ideas?

Have a stellar weekend!


P.S. I made some cool thank you cards for Chloë, since her birthday's coming up. Like em? 

Stationery Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Silliest Girl Evah!


I let each kid have two of my chocolate balls after dinner tonight. Sophia popped them both in her mouth a la vez (at the same time).



This was after we all looked at her goofy face and started laughing. She was trying to eat her chocolate and not laugh...


Nope, couldn't do it!! Do you know how hard it is to laugh without losing the chocolate balls out of your cheeks?!

Pretty hard, apparently. Rob later found one of them in the litter box, which she did apparently because she didn't want to eat it anymore and was disguising it as a cat turd. I would have been mad, but c'mon - that's some funny shit right there.


Saturday 9: My Best Friend's Girl


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

1. Have you and a friend ever have an argument because you were attracted to the same person?

Oh, hoo boy, yes, a big fat major one. It was ug-lay!

2. Who never returns your phone calls?

Well, I'm that person. Pretty much everyone returns my calls, maybe because they're so shocked I actually called them!

3. What was your favorite childhood toy?

A little red-and-white stuffed puppy with holly leaves and berries on one ear. I named him Snowflake. I didn't even mind when one of his red ears fell off. I kept it in a drawer but never sewed it back on.

4. Who is the last person you greeted at your door?

A man selling meat out of a truck. Ugh. I always tell them we're vegetarians, and they can never get out of there fast enough

5. Would you change anything about your life right now?

Yes. Life is financially very painful right now, and I would change that in a heartbeat if I could... but we're working on it!

6. Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

My Bob ♥

7. If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?

Hmmm... I guess the Phoenicians. Why not, it won't happen anyway.

8. What is the most exciting event you’ve ever witnessed?

In recent memory, the election of President Barack Obama. It was very moving for me.

9. What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?

Back before I had kids, I would have said 25. I had my first baby the day before I turned 25, and it used to piss me off! Now it amuses me that that pissed me off. Now I would just say, whenever the parents are "ready," however you want to define that.

Have a nice weekend!


Six-Word Saturday: Fat Legs?


Link up here if you have something to say today!

My six words this week are:

Dwelling on that 'big leg' comment...



When I went to see the plastic surgeon recently (note: I've lost ~205 lbs after gastric bypass surgery 2½ years ago, and I have tons of extra skin I want him to remove), he made an off-hand remark that even with the removal of my inner thigh skin, "I still have pretty big legs there," or something similar. I have been dwelling on it ever since. So, here are my thighs, in a sitting down position on my chair right here. Do I have big legs?? Really? Because they seem okay to me, minus the afore-mentioned inner thigh skin.

I guess I need the reassurance that I'm not still a Gigantor.

Thanks and happy weekend!


Charleston, Revisited


A few weeks ago, we headed back down to South Carolina. When we were in Missouri in February (about which I still need to post!!!), we got an offer for a timeshare presentation in Charleston with incentives so great, we couldn't turn down the offer. So we accepted. Funnily enough, the location was for the place I had mystery shopped back in November, which made me feel a little odd, so I checked and got permission to go from the scheduler for the shop. Anyway, here's me driving and doing my gorilla face for The Bob.


First, we dropped Jack off at his grandpa's house (my dad) in Aiken, before heading over to Charleston for a couple of days. I don't have any pictures of Jack's time, but he had loads of fun. Dad took him to a train museum with a huge, cool exhibit; to see Cars 2; out to eat numerous times; and more. And since Dad has a pool, Jack spent every spare second swimming and was even given a set of snorkel gear after having a blast with his gran'pappy's. A bit spoiled, he was! 

Here's Chloë crashed out on the chair in our Charleston suite, shortly after we arrived. The girls took baths, and I think maybe Rob took them to the pool that night, but I can't quite remember, but that's about all we did after arriving. It was a long drive for me, but that didn't keep me from staying up late and banging away on some pouches for my Etsy shop, which you can see here. Perfect if you have a pet elf, leprechaun, or Smurf in need of a place to sleep...


Rob and I were supposed to, um, have some *adult* fun - always a joy in hotel rooms, no? - but he lay down with Sophia to get her to konk out, and he soon joined her in slumber. Was I surprised? No. Was I disappointed? No, because we still had another night, and I was having fun with my li'l ol' craftin' in the other room.


The next morning, we got up early and went to our timeshare presentation, which was actually kind of fun and low-pressure, and we got out of it quickly when I indicated that all of our travel was pretty much free and they couldn't save us any money on that! So we started roaming around downtown Charleston in search of a trolley stop - it's free to ride, if you visit! - when Sophia decided that this giant chain was just for her to sit upon. 


Once we got on the trolley, we had fun riding until we got to the Apple store, where Rob needed to trade his new iPhone 4 in for, like, the 2nd or 3rd time. Some element or another on the phones keeps not working, and he's been having a dickens of a time with it. The girls knew right where the kids' center was, and they raced over to it and started playing games. I see Apple computers in our future...


See the little girl in the picture at the back? I struck up a conversation with her parents, who literally own every Apple product ever made, about the ease-of-use factor for kids, since I do want to make the crossover to Macs from PCs when we can afford it (heh). Anyway, that led on to other parenting discussion, and it turns out that our kids have so much in common, and long story short, I was reassured once again that many of our kids' annoying habits, quirks, and behaviors are normal and common and stuff. Always good to know.


We wandered up the road and had lunch at the Pita Pit, which was awesome (our first time), and then wandered over to more window shopping before finding the large hotel in which the Godiva shop was located. (It also houses the store that sells household Britto goods, so I showed Rob some of their things, since we are fans and occasional collectors. I really wanted a Britto wallet, but since I didn't NEED it, I passed. For the time being.) Anyway, I went into the Godiva shop to get my free truffle for being a rewards member (sign up here), and of course, I had to buy some more chocolates for the gang. Chloë loved the macadamia nut truffle that she picked, but Sophia, as you can see, was not so fond of the strawberry creme one I chose for her. Eh, you can't win 'em all!


I was trying to take a picture of the Godiva bag for the blog, because for some reason I deemed it blog-worthy (hey, it's Godiva, and it's gold, I dunno), when a hotel employee walked by and offered to hold it up for me. She gets me, people. And she had cool nails.


Since Rob is a huge fan of black-, rasp-, and blueberries, of course I had to get him the rather large treat that featured all three. And I chose correctly. He was in chocolate heaven. My words, not his. He would never say nor admit to that.


After those shops, we walked down to the big open-air flea market for which Chucktown is famous. Our first stop was at this woven basket stand, where a woman was literally making the baskets for sale RIGHT THERE ON THE SPOT! I mean, kewl. Sophia was transfixed by this, and you should have seen her elation when the lady actually let her help make the basket by pulling the straw or whatever it is through its hole TWO TIMES. Oh, my word. She felt like she was really part of things, I could tell. (Neglected to get a picture; too busy actually watching.)


Then we stopped at this hat shop, because Rob's looking for a hat he can fish and kayak in without getting his head and ears burnt. The one he picked out looked atrocious on him, so I vetoed that. But the girls had fun trying on hats. Sophia loves to pretend to be a cowgirl!


And is this not the cutest hat on Chloë?! I wish we could have bought it, but it was too much money, not enough utils. Actually not true - plenty of utils, just not enough money in the budget for it. I did pick up a few things for the kids in other stands there: a box of snappers for 50¢ each for the kids, a Smencil for 99¢ for each of them, and also a half-dozen mini rubber tree frogs for our friend Ashley, who collects them. Haven't decided what to do with those yet, though. I also got a Christmas present for each of the girls: A kimono and matching pants set for the American Girl doll Chloë will get for her upcoming 10th (!) birthday, and a charming little tea set for Sophia, who talks about it every day and can't WAIT to get it.


My good chum Erin, newly engaged!!, from grade school, collects post cards (email me if you're distant and would like to send her one), so I was on the hunt for a locally-made one. I happened upon this shop, and since I'm very much about supporting local artists, I had to go in and check. No luck there; no luck anywhere. Sorry, Ernie. :( But it was still a cool shop, and if I'm back in The Chuck, I'll have to stop back in and pick up a couple little things I saw and desired. Assuming funds are available for that, natch.


Horse-drawn carriages are everywhere in Charleston, but we didn't partake on either visit, because they are pricey. Sophia insisted I take a picture of some horsies, though, so here you go, Toots!


This is Tim. Besides being very hawt, Tim was also very sweet and nice. Here's what happened: The girls were both getting blistered feet and couldn't bear to walk any further, let alone all the way back to our parking garage, so I approached his pedicab to inquire about the cost of getting us down there. It wasn't far, so instead of charging his regular $18 rate for four passengers, he agreed to take us there for $12. Well, when Rob came up from where he was browsing, I asked him about it, and he said, no, I don't think we have enough cash for that AND to pay at the parking garage. So I told Tim thanks, but no thanks.

Well, not to be outdone, he said he would take us there for nine bucks. I knew the garage wouldn't cost us more than $11 (all we had was a $20 in cash, and I didn't want to pay $3 to get out more money from the ATM), so I accepted his offer. We had a very fun ride down to the garage, during which the girls kept urging Tim to go "Faster! Faster!" - and he did, saying we were much lighter as a group than his average fare - and then paid him his $9. He agreed to pose for the picture, which makes him even more awesome, and then we bid him adieu.

After getting settled in the van, we got down to pay and were charged $8 for parking, leaving me with $3. Rob and I quickly decided we would hunt Tim down and give him the extra $3, because he really deserved it. Well, we drove up one street and down another, with no luck finding him... until, he just happened to cross in front of us with another passenger. I tootled him with vigor (Lisa, if you're reading this, please tell me you know the reference!), and he stopped by my window. I gave him the three dollars, thanking him again for being so great to us, and he thanked us in return and said it was really cool of us to track him down. I gave me such warm fuzzies, the whole thing, that I didn't stop smiling for at least an hour. So, cheers to Tim!


We went back to our hotel after that - but not before losing Sue, my trusty TomTom GPS, who fell from her perch and cracked, rendering her useless. Sad times for me. At least I had my wonderful iPhone to get us back to the hotel, so I navigated thusly - and were just in time for the evening snack once again. The night before, we'd enjoyed sodas, crackers, pretzels, chips, and a huge abundance of the most delicious guacamole and salsa. I mean, I must've eaten ten peoples' shares of guacamole, it was so good. SO GOOD. I could die just thinking about it. We were hoping the fare would be the same the second night, but this time, it was hummus instead of guac. Everyone else was disappointed, but of course, I was completely ready to engorge myself once again. And I did. So yum!

That night, Rob AGAIN crashed out in the living room of our suite with the girls, while I AGAIN banged out more pouchies for my Etsy shop. I made eight of them in those two nights. I don't know why - they won't sell - but they're fun to make, and so I persisted. 

The next morning, we checked out and headed back over to Aiken to collect our boy.



Here's "Mommy Dog," the stray dog who has pretty much taken up residence at my dad's house. She's had two litters of puppies so far, and he and the neighbors have taken care of them. He's adopted one of them for himself at the moment, having rehomed the rest. Anyway, Mommy Dog is the SWEETEST girl, and I wish we could provide a home for her, but four cats is enough for now.


Jack was so happy to see us, and us him. And the girls were excited to be at Grandpa's, too, especially when he gave them some pressies. Chloë received this bead weaving loom set, and a book, after I told Dad she loves reading and crafting.



Sophia, in turn, was given a book and a Barbie set, since Barbie is all the rage among the six-year-old set in our house. Jack was given a book, too, and something else beside the snorkle set, but I forget what. Eh, well.


After that, we all went for a swim in Dad's pool. I have a ton of pictures from that, but I'll spare you looking at all of those. I didn't get a good one of Jack with his snorkle gear on, and Rob always wears a mask when he swims, so no good pictures of him, either. And no, you don't get to see me in my bathing suit!


Taking a break from the pool, Grandpa and Chloë rested on the futon bed they have set up outside next to the pool, and she looked through her new book. She has a habit of being involved with three or four books at a time, and rotates them according to her mood. I am so not like that, but to each her own!  While Jack was with his grandpa, they slept out here on the futon both nights. Jack loved that!



Here's Cheyenne, the "keeper" pup of Mommy Dog, having a rest. She did a lot of that, as wee doggies do.


And here's Megan in her bed, being sweet and calm for once. Most times, she's very excitable and in-your-face! There are two more dogs in the household, but they are spoiled and pampered by Wife #5, and they didn't come out of their bedroom to be sociable. Feh.



One last pic of Cheyenne, with Sophia, before I let you go. That was it for our trip, besides a mystery shop dinner in town before leaving, and a mostly-uneventful drive home. It was fun, and short and sweet, just the way I wanted it to be. I'm glad we went.

Maybe I'll get busy and post about Missouri later, after I finish these shop reports for our dinners tonight!


Saturday 9: I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight


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

1. Have you ever lost a lover and spent way too much time wondering what they were doing?

Oh, my gosh, yes. I dwell on things.

2. What was your favorite vacation ever?

My long-awaited honeymoon with Hubs. He took me on a two-week Mediterranean cruise, which was kick-ass, and which you can read about here.

3. Do you like surprises? If yes, what kinds? Or are you one of those people who absolutely has to know what's going on before it happens?

 I LOVE surprises!! Love them. All kinds. Except the bad kinds, like unexpected bills. Those suck my butt.

4. Have you ever written a poem? Feel free to share one. Or even a dirty limerick is OK.

Yes, I have. It's in a book, and I won a cash prize for it. It's called The Oyster's Onyx, and I wrote it one night in college when I woke up in the middle of the night, all inspired. Other than various silly shit, it's the only 'real' poem I've ever written. I'm proud of it. I think I posted it here one. Did I, oh regular readers? If not, let me know and I might post it separately.

5. Did anything interesting show up in your mail lately besides the bills?

I got some butterfly eyelets that I got for almost-free on eBay, which I plan to use on a card for my Etsy shop soon. Other than that, bills, magazines, and catalogs this week. Yay.

6. How many of your friendships have lasted more than ten years? Which of your current friends do you feel will still be important to you ten years from now? Family members don't count.

A number of them, a dozen or more, maybe two, maybe three. I'd have to go and count, and I'm not in the mood. Lots of friends have come and gone from my life, but I have some very good longtime friends who I know will be with me for life.

7. Do you own a pet? If so, do you buy them presents for holidays? Do you consider your pet(s) spoiled?

Right now, we have two adult cats and two twin sister kittens. Yes, they usually get a treat and/or a toy for Christmas. I don't think they're spoiled, though. Just loved.

8. It's Friday afternoon and you're planning your weekend. What's on your agenda on a hot August night?

Well, we just did three mystery shops at a fast food restaurant (well, three of the same company, different locations), to feed the kids. That was exciting. We were supposed to go to a big amusement park this Sunday for two different mystery shopping companies, but I can't go due to illness, so hopefully we'll go next weekend instead. I'm trying to figure out what else we'll do. Probably hit the beach, and oh! I know, tomorrow we're going to a send-off party for the new freshman from our area headed to my alma mater, the University of Miami. Go 'Canes!

9. What's your worst nervous habit?

I giggle and blush, when I'm nervous around new people. Other than that, I twirl my hair and eat. Or at least I used to eat. I don't anymore. . .

Anyway, happy weekend to y'all, hope you're feeling better than we are!