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Chloë Raine Turns The Big 1-0!


All right, so check it out: on Wednesday, my oldest baby in all the world, the one and only, Curls, aka Clorox, aka Chlo-Bo, aka Chloë Raine, turned TEN years old! This is her in the morning before we headed out to our Christian Military Homeschooling Co-op's "Not Back To School" Breakfast Pajama Party. Yes, even I wore my PJs, which were about eight sizes too big, but it was either that or the skimpy stuff, and well, you know, it wasn't that kind of party. (And no, I have never been to that kind of party.) Anyway. She was, as you can see, entirely too excited about turning ten years old. Well, "too" isn't the word. Omit that. Just plain excited is more like it. And who wouldn't be? Ten is HUGE, right??

There were myriad snafus at the party; it was just one big comedy of errors, all of which led to one giant omission: I didn't take a single picture of the occasion, even though I promised the absent-but-present-in-spirit leaders of said co-op that I would do exactly that. And we sang to Chloë and another birthday girl present at the party, and did cupcakes and the whole bit for it, and everything. Not one dang picture. Gah! But let's not dwell on that, because I took 94 pictures of the rest of her big day, and we shall focus on that. Not that I'm going to show you all 94 pictures, or this page would never load.


After the shindig ended around noon-thirty, we cleaned up our mess and headed right down to the Oceanfront to play miniature golf. My pal Ashley, for whom I have yet to assign a nickername (and I don't think she'd appreciate "Trashley,") had given me a Groupon for 4 people to play, plus two funnel cakes. What an awesome gift to start off our "Poor Man's Birthday Party," as I call our birthdays-full-of-freebies! Neither of the girls had ever played any kind of golf before, and I'm not sure if Jack has with the Cubs, but they all pretty much stunk. Know what, though? I stink at it, too. So, the four of us were fairly evenly matched, except that I had to teach them the rules of the game. The miniature game, that is. Don't ask me about the rules of an actual fairway, 'cause I haven't got a clue.


I did find it interesting that Sophia, a Southpaw, stood the same way as the rest of us Righties to hit the ball. I tried telling her she might want to try the other direction, but she wasn't interested. It's all good.


I couldn't convince Jack to (a) hold the club properly, (b) hit the ball gently when he was a foot away from the hole, (c) not stop the ball when it kept moving past where he thought it ought to be, or (d) not pick up the ball and put it back where he did think it should be. He kept saying, "oops, sorry!" every time I reminded him of any of those things, which was, like, every other five seconds. Since I was in Birthday Mood, I just laughed it off, or else the competitive spirit in me might have gotten fired up about it! Although I admit I might have said "freakin'" once or twice, as in, "Stop touching the freakin' ball, Jack!"


On this particular hole, my ball was the first (and second) to go into "the drink," as my gran'pappy would have called it - although I could have lied and said that never happened, as there is no photographic evidence of such events. But that wouldn't be "Honest and Fair," which is the part of the Girl Scout Law my Daisies and I are working on this week, so I'm telling y'all the truth. Chloë was second to have to fish her ball out of the drink. (Speaking of balls, I never tired of saying, "Stay off the green, and don't touch your balls!" whenever it was my turn to give my bright orange ball a whack and I couldn't watch the youngsters. "Don't touch your balls!" I'm so mature.) Chloë also had to fish her all out of the drink two times. Team Odette rocks at putt-putt, y'all.


Twice fishing for Jacky, too. Haha! We so suck at this game, but since all four of us sucked equally, it was fun for everyone. They had a total blast. I don't have pictures of Sophia's ball in the drink, which makes me think hers didn't go in - but She of the Amazing Strength kept whacking her ball so hard it would fly clear across three or four holes and into some other form of golf-related trouble. Once, we even had to replace it, because it was lost completely. She'd probably give Tiger Woods a run for his money!


I didn't let them win, but this is Chloë's reaction upon my adding up the scores and announcing that she won amongst the kidlets! Fair and square, the birthday girl did the best. This, even after discovering on the third or fourth hole that we were, in fact, aiming for the LOWEST score and not the highest. **Snort**


After our four balls (hee) plunked into the hole (hehe) at the end of Hole 18, the kids discovered a "pirate ship" playground, complete with a fireman's pole-type, uh, pole, which kept them occupied for about 72 days or 15 minutes or something. They really liked that thing. We'd probably still be there if it wasn't hotter'n blue blazes that day, and we were getting all sweaty. Oh, and if I hadn't conveniently remembered the matter of the free funnel cakes we still had coming to us. Heh heh. (Hey, I was bored. Maybe I shoulda gone down the fireman's pole, too.)


Here's Sophia oh-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of the funnel cakes. Not.


I discovered that the kids' hands and feet were all orange from the fireman's pole, so I sent them to wash up before the funnel cakes arrived. Jack came back first and dug right in. I admit, I didn't wait for Birthday Girl and had some before she returned, too. Mmm, mmm - good stuff!


But, it doesn't look like she minded much, does it? She got plenty and there was some to spare. Too bad Daddy wasn't with us or it would've all gotten eaten fo' sho'!


What kid doesn't love these things? I don't know, but mine go nuts for them. Nuts, I tell ye!


Love. They LOVE these fool things. (Btw, what is up with cornhole boards? Are they all the rage now or something? I seem them advertised everywhere. What's the deal?!)


I had a few extra quarters, so I let each of the kids get one of these piratey-themed bouncy balls, after confirming that's what they were and not, in fact, gum. Jack's the only one who can have gum (Sophia never throws hers away in the proper place, and Chloë can't have it with her dental appliance), so that wouldn't have been fair. In any case, all three are probably long lost by now!


Here's my eight-year-old boy saying goodbye - a few dozen times - to the super-cute girl behind the counter. Can you say "first crush"? Yeah. He's eight. Is it time for that stuff already?!


After we finally finished at the golf course, I called my homeschooling pal Jenny From the Block to have her and her kids - sickly though they were - meet us at the mall to ride the carousel. When you join their birthday club, you get to take 9 friends with you for free, not including parents, who are free anyway. Sweet deal, right? So Jenny FTB hopped in the shower, and we drove past the mall to pick up a Victoria's Secret gift card I'd snagged on Freecycle that morning while we waited for them to get ready. It was for ten bucks, and when we got to the mall, we found all kinds of perfumes on sale for - wait for it - ten bucks! So I let my tween birthday girl pick out her favorite scent (read: the bottle she found most appealing), and we didn't owe a dime. Sweet score! (And she made a point of telling me that - see those skimpy blue undies in the back? - that those wouldn't look good on me right now because of all my extra skin. Thanks, kid. LMAO)


I'd gotten a $5 birthday gift certificate in my email inbox for both Chloë and me, so I of course gave her mine, which made $10 in free money for her to spend at Build-a-Bear Workshop. We headed down the mall hall after Vicki's to spend it. She already knew she wanted a pair of rollerskates for her BAB kitty, and she kept praying out loud that they wouldn't be more than ten bucks. Lo and behold, they were only six bucks! She found these silky undies for her kitty - complete with a rose decoration that her hand is covering - for $3.50, so after tax, we owed mere pennies for these two otherwise free presents. Yep, that grin was genuine. She was having a grand day.


Team BB (Jenny from the Block and her two kids, G and M) texted me to let me know they'd arrived at the mall, so we scooted over to meet them at the carousel. There was no wait and no charge for the ride, so on we went. Sophia and Jack stayed on the lower level, while the rest of us headed to the upper tier. Here's my birthday girl on the horse she picked, looking cute as a button, no?


Whoops, I didn't realize M blinked during her photo op. Sorry, M!


My loverly friend, Jenny from the Block (who has nice teeth, I just noticed), and her adorable son, G


Sophia was already having a blast spinning her spinny thing downstairs, before the ride even started. Goofball.


As it turns out, so was Jack, in his. Goofball #2. The ride started immediately after this picture was taken, so I was stuck sitting nearby on a bench instead of on the horse next to my birthday kid like I'd planned. Ah, well. Can't win 'em all, right? No one showed up to ride - it was in the middle of a school day, after all - so I'm pretty sure they gave us an extra long turn on the ol' carousel for the birthday girl. Nice, right?


Another cool thing about the carousel birthday club thing is that each rider gets a free punching balloon - at least at our mall. Who doesn't love a punching balloon? That's like, high on my list of Favorite Things in the World. Punch, punch, punch. Chloë, notoriously immature for her age, suddenly acted the part of the growing-up tween in many ways, including this one: When M's balloon accidentally popped shortly after receiving it, almost immediately Chlo turned to her and said, "You can have mine!" and handed her the balloon. I was bursting with pride over that smooth move.


For my birthday, I got a BOGO Free coupon for Auntie Anne's pretzels, so the seven of us walked down there to get a couple cinnamon ones. Team BB shared theirs, while Chloë shared hers with her siblings. I neither got, nor wanted, nor should have had any, especially after eating the funnel cake earlier in the day. (Besides, I like the ones with crushed almonds, so there.)


When yummy snacks are involved, this oft-squabbling trio somehow manage to get along. Amazing.


I don't remember if M got any pretzel - I think she opted out - but G sure enjoyed his!


Oh, my Jenny FTB, you are so silly!

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Speaking of my silly Jenny, she later texted me this image of her in the new shirt I gave her. See, I had a $10 birthday gift certificate to Torrid (because I'm a Diva), and these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts on clearance for $9.98 were pretty much all that appealed to me in the "get it for free" price range. The shirt didn't fit me, but I figured I could use it for a comfy nightgown around the house, y'know? So when I showed it to Jenny FTB during our pretzel-engorging time, she was all raggin' on me because it wasn't my size. Turns out it would be her size, however, so after mucho back-and-forth, I convinced her to take it as my thank-you for coming out and sharing some of Chloë's birthday fun with us, despite not feeling so hot. Doesn't it look super cute on her?! I think so, too.


These rides were right next to the pretzel hut, and I still had quite a few quarters on me, so what the heck? I treated Sophia and M to this ride, and...


...Chloë, Jack and G squeezed in together on this one. Jenny FTB tried to give me her sole quarter, but I made that big spender keep her cash. LOL!


Then we headed over to Charlotte Russe, where I'd gotten a $5 Gift Certificate for my birthday, too. Jenny FTB immediately found a wallet in that price range that she loved, and since she rilly, rilly needed a new wallet, I was all, "Here, take the $5 GC." And you know what? Giving feels really good. I felt pleased, and she was happy, and the new wallet works for her, and yay yay!

And then we went over to the JC Penney Portrait Studio to use my coupon for a free sitting fee and free 8x10, thinking the seven of us could take a silly picture or eleven together. But you know what? Unlike Sears' coupon, the JCP sitting fee apparently only covers ONE person, which is lame. So JFTB and I looked at each other, scowled, and then decided to just let Chloë get HER pictures taken. I mean, it was her birthday, right? It only made sense. I can't copy any of the pictures off the site or I totally would, but hopefully you can see them here. If Slide 1 is of a close-up of her face with the balloons around it, that's the one I ordered for my free 8x10. Which would you have chosen?


After that, we were pretty much mall-tired, so we all trucked down to our closely-parked vehicles and hugged each other good-day a hundred bunches of times. I'm so glad they were able to come out; it was a blast hanging out with them, and I know Chloë would agree! (And yes, I was making them say, "Happy Birthday, Chloëëëë!" for the picture, and yes, Jack was rolling his eyes about it. He was being a total punk that day!!)

We returned home, then, and woke up Daddy, so that he could come with us for the rest of Poor Man's Birthday Party. He changed out of his uniform lickety-split, and off we went again, for more fun!

First, we went to Sonic for our two free Wacky Pack kids' meals. I had a coupon for two, for my birthday and Chloë's. We let Sophia and Jack eat those. Happily, they both picked the apple slices as their sides, with no encouragement from the 'rents. Booya!

Then, we went to Ruby Tuesday for a free burger, fries and some other side (green beans?) that I got for my birthday but obviously wasn't going to eat, so that was Rob's dinner.


Silver Diner gave Chloë a free meal for her birthday, so she chose the mac-and-cheese entrée with a side of strawberries (again, no prompting!), and a strawberry shake. My kids LOVE eating at Silver Diner, but since only Chlo got a free meal, we took it to-go, like everyone else. Yep, I let them eat in car after just getting a car wash (for a mystery shop, natch). I'm a glutton for punishment. Guess I'll have to take another such shop soon!


Chick-Fil-A was right next to Silver Diner, and I happened to have a coupon for a free chicken sandwich from probably over a year ago, so I drove over and redeemed that without a hitch. I ate a third, and then Sophia ate a third, and I think the other third went into the round filing cabinet. I would've eaten it later, but whatev.


From there, we headed down to Chuck E. Cheese's to redeem Chloë's birthday coupon for 20 free tokens. Twenty isn't a lot, but they made it go pretty far and managed to spend about 40 minutes in the place, so it was worthwhile. I doled them out, giving six each to the Littles and eight to Chloë, with surprisingly no complaints. Now, looking at this picture, I'm wondering what was so fascinating on the side, there!

The three kids went off in three different directions, so I'm always thankful for their blacklight kid-numbering system when we go! Jack always heads for this shooty-thingy, so it wasn't too hard to track him down. In this picture, what I see, though, is how tiny he still is. (He still fits into some 6-month baby swim shorts, if that tells you much!)


Sophia was a little harder to track down, since she zipped right away from me and is good at finding hidey-holes. But find her I did, for once not riding the bike-helicopter ride that goes up and down. That's her favorite thing-a-ma-jig.


I pretty much followed Chloë around after that, waiting for good birthday photo ops. Found one!


Make that two! :) After this, I kicked her butt at air hockey. I play a mean game of air hockey, and by that, I mean, "against ten year old wimpy girls."


The kids all crowded around to watch Chloë play her last token, while Rob and I stood back and made jokes about honey pots.


One of the things the kids enjoy the most at CEC is feeding the ticket muncher machine. They fight over it! I'd get in the fray, too, if it wouldn't be juvenile, because that thing is F.U.N. With their 20 tokens - half spent on rides and not games - they managed to earn exactly 50 tickets. Not too shabby.


It's hard to divvy up 50 tickets amongst three children, so without my even asking, the ticket redemption counter guy said he would round it up to sixty, to make it even. Thank heaven for small favors. (Although, 50 doesn't really "round up" to 60, but I'm not complainin'!)


Sophia picked a 20-point pink rubber spider (hence the scary face). Chloë chose a sweet tarts a top, and Jack opted or sweet tarts and a sticker sheet. Hey. They were happy, and once again, you can't beat free!


We ran across the street after that, so I could redeem my birthday coupon for a free Homewrecker (well, that's what I chose, anyway) from Moe's. Welcome to Moe's! Love that place.  It took me three or four sittings to eat that thing, and I think I puked every time anyway. Le sigh.

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The fun wasn't over yet. We stopped at AC Moore so I could run in and redeem my free birthday coupons there, and I managed to get these Crayola markers and glue sticks for practically nothing - both hot commodities around here, so woot!


Our last stop of the night was at Chili's, to get our free birthday brownie sundae. It was mine, by rights, but I gave it to Chloë, who shared it with the rest of Team Odette. Except me. No thanks, can't do it! Here she is, eagerly awaiting the treat.


I had to take this picture fast. The brownie sundae disappeared in a flash. Oh, hi, iPhone.


That was the end of our freebie tour for the day. Chloë wanted to go home and, indeed, so did I! There were mini cupcakes leftover from the PJ party that morning (and I got some ribbing for bringing store-bought cupcakes when I'm supposed to be the baker!), and I wanted to do candles and sing to her, so we did that. Only Jack and Sophia had a cupcake, though Sophia probably had three when I wasn't looking...


She's either praying or thinking of a wish. Or both.


I hope ALL your wishes come true, Baby Doll!


It wasn't really intended as a birthday present, but since I'd gotten the flute at the co-op party that morning (to be paid for later, in installments - and I got a good deal to boot) from another homeschooling mom, I presented it to her as such. She's been wanting flute lessons. I'm going to try to find a tutor from one of the local colleges, for cheap lessons, though the same mom gave me a lesson book from which to learn, too.


All you musicians out there are cringing at this picture, eh? We have lots to learn. Lots. Although I did teach her how to put her mouth and lips, because this was killing me!

All in all, it was a splendid day, and she proclaimed it, as she does every single year, "The Best Birthday EVER!" but, "And this time I mean it!"

As for me, I spent my 35th birthday yesterday writhing in headache pain, lying down and letting the kids chill, until it was finally time for me to get up, shower, and prepare my plan for the Daisy meeting two hours later. Thankfully, Rob came home early, so Jack could stay home with him while we girls headed to Girl Scouts for the first meeting of the year. I thought it went really well, all things considered. I only have five girls (so far) this year, which is a much more manageable number than the eight and nine we had at various times last year! I do miss my "old" girls, but I love having my five familiar little ones back again, too.


The headache lasted throughout the evening and into the night, but I was cheered considerably by the sight and sounds of Sophia reading to Chloë, with minimal help from Big Sis. And when Big Sis did help, she was pleasant and considerate, not bossy or critical. It was absolutely a wonderful sight to behold, and I loved every minute of watching and listening to them. Sophia's reading has improved by leaps and bounds in the past month, and I know she is so proud of herself, as she should be!

And that, my friends, is the end of the birthdays for 2011. Thanks for reading and commenting as a birthday present to me! Hehe - see what I did there? ;)