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Entries from January 2012

Field Trip: Mattaponi Indian Reservation


The leader of one of the homeschooling groups to which we belong set up this field trip today (Saturday) to the Mattaponi Reservation Museum near West Point, VA, and the price was right, so we decided to go along for the adventure. It took 90 minutes to get there, and it was turned out to be worth every second of the trip. We had an awesome time, and I have lots of pictures to share with you. So sit back, grab a cuppa, and scroll down. We arrived 30 minutes before the rest of our group, all of the rest of whom lived much closer, so we sat and parked at the Reservation church, facing the small cemetery. 

I noted with interest that nearly all of the last names on the headstones was "Custalow," which turned out to be the significant, main last name of the Mattaponi Tribe, which is the last remnanat of one of the 32 tribes once ruled by the great Chief Powhatan. (If that name doesn't sound familiar, it should if you've been reading here, as we learned about him on our field trip to the Jamestown Settlement earlier this school year.)


The girls went on the swings of the Reservation school with some of the other children while we waited on a few more families. Jack hung back, cranky and tired, with his dad.


I really didn't know exactly what to expect from this field trip, other than that we were visiting an Indian Reservation. I didn't know we were going inside what seemed like this teeny-weeny museum, or what else we would be doing. So I just went with the flow. Here we are, entering the Mattaponi Indian Museum, which was much larger inside than it looked from afuera.


As you can see from the sign just inside, on the front door, Custalow was indeed the major last name of the Mattaponi Indian tribe, once ruled by the powerful Chief Powhatan.


A more descriptive explanation of the tribe; George, who you'll "meet" at the end of the post, was the son of the Chief who died in 1969. Two of his brothers later became Chief of the tribe.


I took this picture of Jack examining the bear's head, then listened to him telling me how dry the tongue was, and then noticed the "Do Not Touch" sign he was obscuring. Whoops.


There were several old wasps' nests hanging inside the museum ceiling. The children were very concerned about this at first, until I explained they were no longer inhabited by their former owners, and no stings would be happening this day.


Having touched a much smaller living specimen at the Living Museum a week prior, Sophia was fascinated by this "ginormous" horseshoe crab!


Jack, still unsure about those wasp nests...


A small diorama of a Mattaponi homestead provided interest to the girls. In front of another family's dad, I asked Sophia what she saw there. She said, "It's about Jesus' birth!" and the other dad laughed and laughed. She was so embarrassed, she ran away and hid, almost in tears. He felt bad about it, and so did I, but it was pretty cute.


"Mom, look at all these spears!"


The girls had no reservations (sorry) about touching the mounted deer head, and they were especially curious about touching his eyes and how cold he was.


There was a plethora of relics and artifacts to capture the eye and keep our attention throughout the visit. I'll show you plenty, up close. George "W." Wa-huh-sun-a-cock Custalow, museum curator and son of the chief who died in '69, told us that he kept the museum open on weekends only, unless a large group was coming, because daily opening wouldn't pay enough. He also shared that Richmond government helped pay for the display cases to keep the treasures preserved, since the tribe couldn't afford to do so alone.


The card reads, "Mercy Tomahawk used for mercy killing when braves were wounded in battle" - yowza. How'd you like that?


Spelling variants and errors were common in the museum, because, of course, English was not their, um, native language, and common spellings varied regionally. Anyway, do you remember the picture of Sophia dressed up like Pocahontas at Jamestown, with the necklace and all? We come full circle. I just have found all the learning we've done on this subject this year so fascinating and incredibly, richly educational - for me, personally. I just hope the kids have gotten as much out of it.


Incredible beadwork on a leather bag


I found a few things like this and thought they were, to be quite trite, very cool.


The club Captain Smith was supposed to have been executed with before Pocahontas pleaded on his behalf


A rudimentary canoe, for which Richmond supplied the preserving case


Sharks' teeth found "90 feet below the Mattaponi River Bed" (how??) and some yellow jasper found on the Res.


More sharks' teeth (still, how??), semi-precious stones, and yellow jasper found in Oklahoma in 1962. How they all wound up here was not explained.


I didn't see anything explaining whose skull and bones were in this case; I was just glad they weren't mine!


The card reads, "Statue of Chief Powhatan as he stood on the banks of Jamestown in 1607 to welcome the settlers."


A petrified turtle body, which invited an explanation of the different meanings of "petrified" to the kids


The card reads, "Indian Hunting Outfit: Quivver [sic], arrows, tommahawk [sic] and bow."


More native dress


The card tells us that these ornately beaded moccasins were passed down for three generations over 135 years, the beads were put on with "strip sinews of red deer" and last worn by a Mattaponi Indian princess.


Old coins


An eel pot, which George said they used for catching turtles, a better tasting meat, along with a Pomogan war weapon


The card reads, "Feathered Head-Dress (with horns symbolizing war" worn by Indian Warrior Opechaneough in 1622."


More heavily beaded bags, along with come "Japenese [sic] cigarettes" from 1943, evidently brought back from war by one of the Custalow sons.


Beaded bags; as someone who does handwork, I can appreciate how much time it must have taken to create these works.


Some arrows, weapons and pottery, among other relics


Various tools and weaponry hung from the museum ceiling, near the front.


I'm not exactly sure now what it was, but the card reads, "Hand Made by Brodia Newton, Father of Elizabeth Newton Custalow." Speaking of the Newtons, they were cousins to the Mattaponi Tribe out of Fredericksburg, and one famous Newton you'll know is Wayne, the Las Vegas relic himself, who denied his heritage for years and claimed to have come from Virginia Beach. George W. did not have a lot of good things to say about Wayne Newton, not at all.


An English-made portrait of Pocahontas and her son, Thomas Rolfe


Newspaper articles about Chief Custalow - George W.'s father - and the Pamunkey Tribe, also formerly ruled by the powerful chief Powhatan


The card reads, "Morter-Pestal [sic] used for grinding corn by hand"

As I made my way up to the front to find some postcards to send to my good friend Erin, who has a collection, I snapped some photos of the other items for sale in the small museum. Here are a few:





Dreamcatchers, which prompted Jack to ask George W., "How do they catch your dreams? I mean, how do the dreams get out of your head?" We all kind of just looked at each other and laughed, leaving the boy to wander off, scratching his sweet head...


Gorgeous beaded earrings, which I admit, I coveted a bit.


Thunderbird Necklaces, which made me think of my mamacita, Rob's mom, and her Boy Scout Camp Thunderbird...


More beaded handiwork; admittedly not the best photo...


I'm not sure where the $6 Head-dress was, but the canoes were $5 each, and a little girl proudly bought one with her own money while we spoke with George.

I found this trio of Cherokee prayers on wooden tablets; I could see these in my home:




I was amused when the jolly former chief's son, George, asked me about 3/4 of the way through our lengthy conversation if I believed in the "Great Spirit," pointing upward, telling me he didn't want to talk to me anymore if I didn't. I assured him that indeed, I did; I do. His father was also a minister; it was very important to him.



I made my way quickly around the small museum again, snapping anything of interest I missed on the first pass through, when I was equally interested in keeping the kids from touching anything they oughtn't. By this point, they were exploring outside, and I was free to do my exploring unpestered. I mean, uh,... yeah.


It reads, "Jewelry, Treasured, Belongs, for the women and girls, was kept in this {turtle} shell."


This one reads, "Treasure Chest used by the squaws of the Chiefs 1607 - ??46"




"Historic Mattaponi Indian Tom-Tom - over 200 yrs. old"


See the leaf-shaped white objects? The card reads, "Teeth from indian Marsh Hog used for necklaces." Cool.



A tray of various-sized arrowheads


Click to embiggerate, if you can't read the sign here.


I'm not sure if this was an Indian girl skirt or just what. The letter was a thank-you note for a visit from a long-ago group, so it wasn't any help, but still, it's beautiful.


This was a portrait of George W.'s mother, who died when he was 8, having hemmorhaged to death hours after giving birth to her 13th child. Very sad. Chief Custalow later remarried and had a 14th child. (I believe George was #8 or 9 in the family. He shared that five of his brothers then went to war at the same time, and as a young boy, he couldn't understand why his father spent so much time by himself, crying.)


A carving of Chief O.T. Custalow


Photograph of Powhatan's Chimney


I didn't see this on the first tour 'round the museum, but I sure caught how it sparkled in the light on the second pass. I've seen plenty of this sort of artwork for sale at the Pow-Wows we've attended here in the Beach.


This was an actual treaty! Fascinating. I love the peace pipes, and trying to figure out the rest. Fascinating!


A similarly-depicted of the story of Pocahontas' intercedence on behalf of John Smith. Priceless.



Oh, here's another kind of eel-pot. George, having discovered that I don't eat raw tomatoes, or mayo, or beef or pork, asked me if I had ever eaten eel. No, of course not, but now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I have had eel sushi. We've exchanged phone numbers; maybe I'll call him up and let him know, because his next question was an amused-but-demanding, "Well, what DO you eat?" to which Rob replied, "Not much!" I redeemed myself by sharing that I had eaten frog legs on a cruise once, which started George on another story about gigging for frogs.



This hand-carved canoe also hung from the ceiling.


I'm not sure what the sign fully says, but it belonged to George W.'s dad, the Chief O.T. Custalow - the weapon, that is.


The card reads, "The back scales of a 200-lb sturgeon caught by Chief Custalow May 8, 1964."


A carving by a Seminole (blah!) Indian. Sorry for the (blah!) but I'm a Hurricane; it's a learned response.


At that point, I went out to check on the kids, who were out there with their dad. The Littles were swinging lazily in the sun, so I went off to find Chloë.


She had come in while we were engaged in conversation with George W. the first time, carrying one of these things, and he said he had no idea what it was. He immediately broke off a piece and ate it, telling us it tasted bitter, "like acorns. Have you ever eaten an acorn?" he asked me. I admitted that I had, as a young kid. Mattaponi eat them regularly, or at least they once did. Anyway, we're supposed to look up these things, because the childrenc collected bunches of them, but I haven't done that yet...



Small teepees in the yard outside the museum. Want a closer look? Okay:


I wanted to crawl inside, but I dared not.


How cool is this? I'll tell you how cool: pretty cool. Hee.


The kids were happy and safe playing outside the back of the museum, and I wanted to talk to the captivating chief's son some more, so I went back in and stole his attention for another hour or two. Really! Until Jack rammed his head into me one too many times, telling me how hungry he was, I chatted him up. I told Rob they could go have lunch and come back for me later, and I was only half-kidding!


This was behind the counter with George Custalow, who told me that it was funeral regalia, stressing the "regalia" and somberly cautioning me against ever calling it a "costume." (I hadn't. He was just warning me how offensive it was to Native Americans.)


This was the old car George had, which had a tree fall on it during the recent Hurricane Irene. He and his son are fixing it up. He said they wanted to haul it away to auction and give him $900 for it, but he stood his ground, got much more insurance money for it than that, and kept the car. Then he pointed to his head and said, "This isn't a hat rack; I use it for thinking!" with a wink.


I look terrible in this picture, but George, who recently turned 79, looks great. He kissed me on the cheek several times as we were saying our good-byes, and when Rob left the building to get the kids in the van, he told me, "now turn your face to me," and when I did, he planted one right on the lips! I just laughed giddily. He was sweet on me, definitely. I told Rob about it later, but he didn't believe me! What a guy. Both of them.

Hope you enjoyed our tour a fraction as much as I did. We'll definitely be seeing this guy again; keep your eyes open for a return to the Mattaponi later this year for their annual Pow-wow, the day before Father's Day.


Sunday Stealing: The 99'er Meme, Part The First

Sunday Stealing

Link up here if you're stealing this weekend!

Cheers to all of us thieves!
1) Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pop up.
(a) "I'm Yours" by Brandy; (b) "Who Do U Love" by Deborah Cox; (c) "The War Is Over" by Kelly Clarkson; (d) "Four Leaf Clover" by Abra Moore; (e) "Bite Our Style - Interlude" by Missy Elliott; and (f) "A Thousand Years" by Sting.

2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
President Obama

3) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17.

"Some days must be dark and dreary." - Longfellow
4) What do you think about most?

Oh, gosh. My mind is on warp speed most of the time. I couldn't possibly pinpoint my number one thought. Travel, maybe?

5) What does your latest text message from someone else say?

"Leaving. Love you!" - Hubs

6) Do you sleep with or without clothes on?

Usually with, unless it's freakin' hot

7) What's your strangest talent?

Hm, I don't know. I can bend my fingers at the first knuckle only.

8) Women.... (finish the sentence); Men.... (finish the sentence)

Women think too much. Men should realize that.

9) Ever had a poem or song written about you?

Not that I know of. Used to pretend that "Melanie" by Weird Al was for me; now Hubs and I pretend that he wrote "The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars for me. I'd love that, though!

10) When is the last time you played the air guitar?

Pfft. Either never or last week. I can't remember these things.

11) Do you have any strange phobias?

Y'all know I'm scared to death of mustard touching me. And sandpaper touching me. And those people in haunted houses touching me. Just don't touch me!

12) Ever stuck a foreign object up your nose?

Oh, probably a straw or two...

13) What's your religion?

Non-denominational Protestant Christian

14) If you are outside, what are you most likely doing?

Playing with or watching the kids play

15) Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?

I'm the family photographer, but I no longer mind having my photo taken, so it's a draw.

16) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?

You can't disappoint me with The Presidents of the United States of America!

17) What was the last lie you told?

Oh, probably something minor like "I don't know" to one of the kids, when I just didn't feel like the hassle of a long drawn-out explanation. Sometimes, it's just tiring!

18) Do you believe in karma?

I believe you eventually reap what you sow...

19) What does your URL mean?

Which one?, for this blahg? Smellyann's my nickname, no mystery there.

20) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?

Weakness: I'm too self-indulgent. Strength: I'm incredibly passionate about the things about which I really care and will go to the ends of the earth for those things/people.

21) Who is your celebrity crush?

Eric Clapton! ♥

22) Have you ever gone skinny dipping?

Yep, sho'nuff.

23) How do you vent your anger?

Used to bottle it up and then explode. Now I bitch, bitch, bitch whenever the mood strikes me. Little leaks instead of one ginormous blow-up. Okay, truthfully, I yell and swear. I'm not proud.

24) Do you have a collection of anything?

I have a collection of collections.

25) Do you prefer talking on the phone or video chatting online?

Neither. I prefer to text or IM online. I don't like video chatting, and I don't like talking on the phone most of the time. What the heck is wrong with me?

Have a great week!


Saturday 9: How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?


Link up here if you're playing along with Crazy Sam and the gang today!

1. How did you cope with your biggest heartache?
I attempted suicide. Hey, don't ask the yucky questions if you don't want to hear the yucky answers. I was neither the first time, nor was it the last time.
2. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My husband, in November, when he was having his stroke scares and we discovered his benign brain tumor.
3. How many jobs have you held in your life? How many of those were part of your chosen career field?
Eight or so. Part of my field? Hm. There was my internship at Mote Marine Lab, my teaching assistantship at the U. of South Florida, and ... does the dive shop in Key Biscayne count? It was related, sorta. Other than that, they were just to pay the rent and bills.
4. How did you discover Saturday 9?
Probably from another blog? It's been so long now, I don't remember.
5. If you could take the train from anywhere to anywhere, where would 'anywhere' be?
Oh, I'd go cross-country across the U.S. I've always wanted a long train ride experience, with the sleeper cars and all that. What fun!
6. When was the first time you cooked for someone else?
I don't know, I was probably 10 or so. I don't want to think about that life, though, outside of my therapist's office.
7. What is the worst beverage you've ever tasted?
LOL, Jack ordered something like a Sprite with chocolate or something similar, at Sonic. It was gag-worthy. Oh, icky-puke! All five of us tasted it; all five of us agreed.
8. Is there anything in life you are "certain" about? Firm in your beliefs? Strong in your convictions?
Evolution. Anyone who doesn't believe in it, in my opinion, is stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D. It's an observable phenomenon. Sorry if you disagree, but, I think you're stupid for it. Heh. (Don't let the door hitcha... and all that.)
9. Do you know anyone who has as very unusual pet?
My mother had a pet monkey when she was a little girl. It died of pneumonia. Otherwise.... my sister has somewhere between 50-100 snakes in her basement, all varying morphs of ball pythons, and the requisite feeder mice and what-have-you. And she makes fun of me for having four cats!!
Well, that was fast. Nine questions just aren't enough; sometimes I feel like saying more.
Have a good weekend, if you're still here after #8. Haha.

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if your thoughts are all over the place and you think Mrs. 4444 and pals have just gotta read 'em anyway!

I've been grateful to have a pretty low-key week both at home with the kids and extra-curricularly, since I'm still nursing a weeks-long migraine. It's a baddy. I need to call Neurology today to get back into the headache clinic. I was supposed to call Tuesday, but I haven't even been able to bear being on the phone for five minutes. Thankfully, the children "get it" and have been pretty hushity-hush when Mom is begging for them to be quiet. All three of them get migraines, too, so they're able to empathize, sadly for them.

Anyway. I did manage to do some extensive deal-shopping and save (even make!) a few bucks this week, but that's about all I've left the house for, other than driving a friend to work one night.

No one's answered my Aloha Friday question yet - won't you? - so I'm thinking people either don't get the question or I'm the only such weirdo. Now that latter thing wouldn't surprise me, nor does the confirmation of it smart, but it'd be nice to know that someone out there knows what I mean and has a similar feeling!

Oh, I know what's happened since last Friday! On Saturday, my son Jack's Cub Scout pack ran their Pinewood Derby race, and he won first place for both his Bear den and the overall pack. Woohoo! Three years running, he's taken home a trophy (or two) and headed to the District race, coming up in March. You can see his grins here, if you'd like.

Also, that night, I took my Daisy troop - and Chloë went with her Junior Girl Scout troop - to a local museum for their environmental activities and exhibits. I haven't blogged about that yet; perhaps I will after this, 'cause I'm wide awake this early morning and yet not energetic enough to, y'know, fold the dozen or so loads of laundry taking up space over yonder. It was fun, and I think they learned a few things, but my Assistant Leader and I both agreed it probably wasn't worth the cost. Meh. Whatcha gonna do, barter over Girl Scout programs? I don't think so. But we probably won't do that one again next time.

So that's me for the week. Usually I can blather on 'til the cows come home, but my head aches, and if I told you anything else, it would likely be a complete fabrication!

Have a great weekend!


P.S. Oh! I've been asked about my iron transfusion last Friday. It went great! It took forever, and I was humbled as I was by far the youngest patient in there and, judging from the bald and be-wigged heads of the others, probably the healthiest, relatively speaking. It took about six hours, so I did a little knitting, a bit of chit-chatting with the nurses and other patients, and mostly, I napped. I probably snored and drooled; okay, I know I did, but I didn't care then, and I don't care now! Ah was tarred. If it weren't for the migraines, I'd be feeling like Superwoman now, I think. That infusion made a huge difference. I'm already looking forward to the next topping-off in 4-6 months. Hee! Iron-piggy, me. Thanks for your concern, askers out there! Now cross your fingers I'm able to donate blood tomorrow afternoon; I'm O-neg and feel it's my duty, but I've been deferred every time I go in for a year now! Ayee!

This Week's Steals & Deals

I'm going to keep this short (ish), so if you want the details on anything, feel free to leave me a comment, and I'll be sure and help you out. See previous posts in this category for the lingo I use. As always, muchisimas gracias to Collin at Hip2Save for her help in putting my deals together!

Rite Aid

Rite Aid #1 Rite Aid #2

You can see my totals if you click to embiggerate the pictures, but I'll give you a few more details: These deals were purchased in two days, because in the top picture from Tuesday, I left the house with barely over a buck-fifty! I still managed to snag all that, basically paying only tax, so I did okay, eh? Overall:

I did three total transactions. My actual OOP was $3.86 for the above (yep, that's all I spent!) for $150.89' worth of merchandise. Plus, I'll get $15 back in rebates, and I received $18 in +UP rewards. NET for over $150xx = -29.14! Pretty good week at Rite Aid, I'd say!

Oh, wait, add another $4 to that NET (well, subtract, I suppose, for a total of -33.14, because I'm going to get a gift card in the mail for a coupon they refused to accept, since Rite Aid employees I encounter in this area are NOT well-versed in their coupon policy, and I had to call corporate. Ugh. But hey, I'll get it back regardless.)

(Note: All of that candy and gum goes in a lockbox, for special treats, occasions and yes, rewards; we don't load the kids up on all that junk all the time! Almost all of it I buy because it's either (a) free, (b) a moneymaker, or (c) a "filler" item to meet my coupon:item ratios, which you can read more about on Collin's site. Or ask me, whatevs.)



Hehe. Lame, I know, but I took the pictures, put away the groceries, and then uploaded the photos to find out the CVS one(s) had disappeared. What the?! I wasn't going to unpack everything from the fridge and pantry, so you can see what I purchased in the list above.

Deets: Single transaction, OOP $23.24 for $84.85' worth of goods, getting $16.99 back. For all that, I spent $6.25. Not negative, but when you add the three drug stores together, I still come out ahead. ;)




Details: (4) separate transactions. Why? Because if you buy something that generates Register Rewards, it will only print ONE RR for ONE of the items/deals, and I wanted at least four of those Flurry protein bars, there. The Butterfingers were used as filler items so I could use a $2 RR from last week to buy two of them in two separate transactions. Okay, so Rob could: I sent him up front to do the first two trans. while I kept shopping. He was all, "I don't have to do "deals," do I?" I was like, "Um, yeah! But you can do it!" And I kept it simple, and he did great. Anyway, the rest of the deets:

OOP spent: $15.39 for $83.83' worth of merch, and I got back $23 in RRs. NET total: -$7.61! Sweet. Could've gotten LOTS more at Wags, but they were out of a lot of my 'deal' things. I may or may not try again before the week is up; we'll see how I feel when I'm out & about.



I haven't been doing big Target runs in a while, because we simply haven't had the money (I've been doing a lot of Schwan's lately for groceries), but I had two weeks' worth of deals worked out, and I wanted something to show for it, dang it! Obviously, that there is a lot of stuff, and it's hard to see all of it, so the totals are going to be higher than for the drug stores. Especially since Tar-jay rarely kicks back money into my hands for the following week, like ECBs, RRs, and +UPs. (Love those!)

Details: (1) transaction; spent $183.82 OOP with $94.09 in coupons, and I should've gotten about $5 more that he didn't ring up... but I don't have the time or energy to go back and haggle over it. I should call and all that, but really, Target is getting less and less coupon-friendly, and I don't want to get known as a trouble-maker there for that, know what I mean?  Still, saving almost a hundred bucks isn't bad, especially considering all I was able to get.

Anyone need some mustard? :P

So that's it... good luck with your deals, smart shoppers!


Aloha Friday: What's The Opposite Of A Guilty Pleasure?


Link up here if you've got a question for Kailani and her pals today!

My question for you this week is:

Are there any famous artists you feel you're 'supposed' to like, but you just can't stand? Who?

As for me, I can not stand Stevie Nicks' voice - so grating! Martin Short is eyeroll-inducing; I cannot stand him. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why Daughtry is so popular. I hate their music!  Yet, I feel like I "should" like these people.

So what about you? Anyone?

Have a great weekend! Aloha!


Oops, They Did It Again!

Welp, folks, it's that time of year again: the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby! Jack's Pack raced yesterday, after he and Rob spent the week hashing out the details of how to build The Car. Every year, Rob asks him, "Do you want it to look cool, or do you want it to be fast?" And every year, Jack goes for fast. It's completely his choice, as it should be, although there are some folks who, like my high-ranking Boy Scout Mama-in-Law said, need to be a "wet blanket" on that theory and always make it look cool. Whatevs! Jack wants to build the car, he doesn't necessarily want to watch the races, and he wants to take home a trophy. That's Jack. So, let's see how it went down, shall we?

First, the Tiger Den raced. It seems like just yesterday, that was Jack. Hard to believe it has been two years since he won that race! And those boys are so little and young-looking and eager and cute. (Rob took the kids to go do the crafts in the other rooms while I knitted a hexipuff or two, watched the races and times, and suffered a horrible migraine that I've been nursing for over a fortnight now...)

After that, the Wolf Den raced. That was last year for us, and whew, it has flown by since Jack won that race, too. Those boys are still so cute, just a little bigger, same amount of eagerness... just adorable.

Lunchtime was next. I helped serve the food, because I haven't really stepped up much in the Pack, and I wanted to be useful in some way to them. After everyone ate, the Akela gave out the Popcorn Sale prizes. Jack had chosen a catapult, but it wasn't in yet, so I don't have pictures of him earning that for now.

And finally... his den, the Bears ("da Bearz" as everyone kept saying) were ready to race!

There were six boys, and there are six track lanes, so each boy's car races on each lane once to account for speed differences. It's a calibration technique. You know. Anyway. They drop the slowest time and average out the rest to determine the places. Five out of six heats, this popped up on the screen, with this one representing Jack's fastest time:


It was all very exciting! (I purposely didn't bring the Nikon, so these are all iPhone pictures. I didn't want to risk losing/dropping/breaking the dSLR, so that was intentional.) I don't have any involvement in the races except to go there to cheer on the boys - all the boys - so I don't take any credit. However, I was fist-bumped and congratulated as much as Jack and his dad were, I think, and I enjoyed every second of it!


Here are the Top 10 standings for the Bear Den - that lowest score was dropped, remember, so basically, well, he did awright. ;)


After we cheered on the Webelos 1 & 2 dens, it was trophy time. Jack earned the First-Place spot for his den, which meant three things: (1) Trophy, (2) Smiles, and (3) Participation in the overall pack race. And yes, he was every bit as just-rolled-out-of-bed-rumply as he looks here. Ha! What a mess. His crooked, looser-than-loose front tooth, really needing a haircut, and sleepy eyes make me laugh, but his happy face makes me smile and warms my heart. This is a boy who enjoys his trophies, and he was PROUD of himself. That matters, "cool-looking" car or not.



Right after that, they ran the Pack race, and Jack's car whizzed down the track heat after heat, to take First Place again!! I'm so happy for all the boys, every single one, and it was a fantastic day of racing... but yeah, I was super-proud of my guys. ♥



Here he is with both of his First Place trophies! Whoo! We're hoping for a third one to add to the collection, from the Districts, now.


Finally, the traditional First-Place Akela (parents and Leaders, basically) vs. First-Place Cub Scout race took place, and it was back-and-forth for all six heats, as they went from lane to lane. Guess what? Jack's car DID NOT WIN! This guy, Mr. P, who is cool as HELL, won. That's Team P's car on the left, and Jack's green car on the right, with Mr. P checking that they were on the track right. His son, Junior P, moved up to Boy Scouts last year, but he was the One To Beat up until that point, so Mr. and Junior P have talked to us many times about tips for making The Car be fast. Mr. P was totally and thoroughly thrilled for Jack, and he'll be at the Districts to cheer him on! I'm a huge fan of that guy. Just a really nice man, truly.


On the way home, as he held and admired his new trophies, Jack asked if could keep them on his dresser instead of the mantel with the others. I was all, "No way, dude!" For one thing, that's their place of honor. For another thing, we have Sophia up there to lose or break them if we let him do that! So on the mantel they went, as soon as we came home.  They're up there on the right, with all the others, sandwiched between the girls' soccer trophies from a couple years ago.

So, not a bad day of racing and camaraderie. All in good fun. Everyone was a good sport. (But psst: YAY! YAY! YAY! YAY!!)

Grandma was very proud, too, to hear the news, and I loved sharing it with her!

This report will be continued on March tenth...


Sunday Stealing: Never-Ending Meme, Parte Fin

Sunday Stealing

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

Cheers to all of us thieves!

36. Have you watched American Horror Story?

Nope, I have no idea what that is, sorreh.

37. Baseball hat or toque?

Uhh... I have this beret I like to wear. So, toque?

38. Do you shampoo or soap up first in the shower?

Shampoo, wash face, rinse hair, condition, soap up, rinse hair. Since you asked. :P

39. Wet the toothbrush or brush dry with the toothpaste?


40. Pen or pencil?

Pen. I hate writing with a pencil. Hate.

41. Have you ever gambled at a casino?

Yeah, with someone else's money. I lost it quickly. Just as well; I'm not the gambling type.

42. Have you thrown up on a plane?

What kind of questions are these? It's like you just threw a bunch of words up in the air and let them land where they may. Um, no.

43. Have you thrown up in a car?

Okay, yes. I have done that. Couple times.

44. Have you thrown up at work?

Yesss... what's with all these upchucking questions? I threw up at the vet's office once too, when I was pregnant with my oldest. Embarrassing!

45. Do you scream on roller coasters?

I rarely go on roller coasters, because I'm chickenshit, but hell yes, I scream like a mofo.

46. How many shoes do you have?

Not a ton. I have a shoe organizer thingy on the back of my closet door. It's full. Mostly Crocs, flip-flops and slippers. I'm no fashionista, people.

47. Who was your first roommate?

Jen from Rochester. She was nuttier than I was, if you can imagine that. I liked her, for the most part, until she went total fruitcake on me and dropped out of university. Never heard from her again. 

48. What alcoholic beverage d
id you drink when you got drunk for the first time?

Multiple shots of Goldschläger, when I was 17. I was a wreck, but I bowled better than I ever did sober, so hey.

49. What was your first job?

Babysitting, if that counts, followed by working for my dad in his travel agency, if that counts, followed by a local small supermarket cashier gig. I loved that freakin' job. My customers were awesome!

50. What was your first car?

1991 red Ford Escort Wagon. I bought it in 1993. I drove it maybe half a dozen times. Long story. 

51. When did you go to your first funeral?

When my great-aunt Amy died, when I was about 15 or so. She lived in Manhattan, but the funeral was in Staten Island, I think. Or maybe we just went there as long as we were in the city, since my dad grew up on SI. We visited Aunt Amy a lot during her life, though, so it's... babble time, apparently.

52. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown?

Six. We lived in Monroe, NY, until then, and moved up to the Syracuse area. When I moved away, on my own, after that, it was to Miami for college. Oh wait, I'm forgetting the summer between high school and college, when I lived in South Carolina with my dad.

53. Who was your first grade teacher?

I had subs all year long. My teacher was supposed to be Mrs. Sullivan, but she had a baby, like, the week before school started, and apparently they had no back-up plan. I had a different sub every day of the year until we moved up to the Syracuse area in April of that year. Then it was Mrs. Mullins at first, until I tested up to the "smart kids' class," and I can't remember the new teacher's name...

54. Where did you go on your first airplane ride?

From Newark, NJ, to Syracuse, NY. I was five. I rode by myself. My older sister was supposed to go, but she was scared to fly by herself, so they sent me instead. I loved it. Wait, that was my first solo flight. I don't remember my actual first flight. I've been flying forever, my whole life. I should be a damn pilot by now. Probably the same trip, though, in either direction.

55. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?

Julie, who I was fortunate enough to reconnect with on Facebook years later, after she moved away that summer. That was three years ago, and we're still tight. She was sleeping over at my house, and we left in the middle of the night to go buy junk food at the grocery store down the road apiece. I was shitting my pants, I was so nervous! It was fun, though. That's the only time I ever snuck out, more or less.

56. Who was your first best friend and are you still friends with them?

Victoria Dixon. She was petite and beautiful, I thought. That was in Monroe; I haven't heard from her since I moved at six. Holy old memories in this meme, eh? 

57. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents’ house?

My dorm room at the U of Miami, and I loved it!

58. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?

My husband at work, if he's not home. If he is home, I just talk to him.

59. Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsmen?

My dad's, with his third wife. (He's on Wife #5 now.) I was eight. My mother had died a year earlier. I hardly felt celebratory.

60. What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Try not to wake up, give up, and go pee.

61. What was the first concert you attended?

It was either Whitney Houston or Bon Jovi. This was the 80s, when Whitney was still the shiznat.

62. First tattoo or piercing?

No tattoos. Four piercings in each ear, though I rarely fill them. I got my nose pierced when I turned 21. I still wear it.

63. First celebrity crush?

Matt Dillon! That makes me laugh now, for some reason...

64. What's your favorite number?

64! Okay, I totally just added that question myself because, hello, it's my favorite number and I wanted to end on it. :P

Okay, I'm tired and have a headache, so no witty parting remarks. See you in a week.


Saturday 9: Home


Bublé's so cute, isn't he? Anyway, linky here if you're playing along this week!

1. Do you live close to where you grew up? Why?

Hell naw. It's COLD there and Evil Incarnate abides there, still. No, thank you, as God is my witness, I will never live back in Syracuse again.
2. Have you ever been so angry that you almost lost control?

Almost? Yeah, uh, almost. Right. That's the word.

3. Are you a fan of a musical act that slightly embarrasses you?
Well, I like Lady Gaga and LMFAO, but I'm okay with that.
4. Is there a movie that always makes you cry?

Yeah, Steel Magnolias. Still ♥ it though.
5. Who is the most famous person that you've met?
Dave Barry, who is nerdy but awesome, like you'd expect.
6. Before you leave your home, what must you have?

Keys. Kids, usually. Clothes are a positive. Diet Coke. Chapstick. And last but definitely not least, the iPhone.

7. What do you miss the most about being a kid?

My awesome grandparents and being geographically close to my big sis.
8. Tell us about a passion of yours that your readers would not expect.

Picking Sophia (my 6yo daughter's) easily peelable nail layers. I do it every chance I get. She lets me, albeit reluctantly. I LOVE doing that. Weird, huh? 

9. At what age do you think you'd be to think, “I've had a great run”?
64, of course. My favorite number!

Aloha Friday


Link up here if you've got a question for Kailani and pals!

My question for you this week is:

Chocolate: Milk, dark, white, or... (eek) none?

As for me, I'm trying to switch over to darker and darker (as well as organic and fair-trade, but sometimes you just get what you get and you don't throw a fit), but I'm a milk chocolate girl at heart. Don't even TRY to get me to eat white chocolate. Blech.

Have a great weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up with here with Mrs. 4444 if you've got bits and pieces floating through your brain today!

Right off the bat, I have to say I'm excited that tomorrow is the day I'm spending ~8 hours getting my iron transfusion! It's my first one, and it's not unusual for gastric bypass patients to need them. I'll probably be getting my first of many Vitamin B12 shots, as well. My hemoglobin levels are abyssmally low, which means it's a struggle and a chore just for me to make it through the day, every day, let alone cover everything that's on my plate. I've been dropping a lot of balls lately, admittedly, and I'm hoping this will make a huge difference for me - and my family, who have to put up with me. Hopefully, too, I'll be able to stop consuming the massive daily amounts of caffeine that I do to stay functioning and focused. So, yay!

The only downside is I won't be able to knit during the procedure... but I have about eleventy-billion magazines to catch up on, so I'm covered there. And I can always nap. What I'm wondering about now is, when do I pee? And eat? (I'll let you know. Hee.)

In awesome news, my kids have been focusing on their reading in our homeschooling so far this new year, and they have progressed dramatically. My oldest, a fifth grader, had to write her first book report, after much gnashing of teeth over it, and she did a splendid job. I had to make just a few corrections - all mechanics - but the content was fantastic. I was so pleased!

As for the two Littles, my son is in 3rd grade and came out of 1st grade public school hardly literate at all. So I remediated him from the Kinder level with our K-2 Hooked on Phonics program, and he just "graduated" from the program! It only took him a year and a half to do all three years' worth, so that's pretty great. Yes, I'm proud of him, but even more incredible is how visibly proud of himself he is! I love it!

The youngest, a first grader who was a late bloomer with regard to reading (she's the most active, physical of the lot), has suddenly pushed through the block and is now almost to the 2nd grade level of the program. So go, kids!! Starting next week, we'll slow down on so much all-reading, all-the-time, and focus more on math, with which all three of them also need remediation. No child left behind, my butt! But the buck stops here. :)

We were supposed to go on a field trip to the Food Bank with our two respective Girl Scout troops today, but I found out two hours before the trip that they had to reschedule it. ARGH! I had no choice but to cancel our regular meeting, since I have it planned to have a guest speaker come in, and there was no way to get her on such short notice. It was pretty stinko (my word of the month), and I was bummed, since we're behind where I wanted to be in my Daisy troop at this point. But with the iron deficiency, I have to say, I wasn't too terribly disappointed to get a reprieve! Just sayin'.


We've had Sophia to the Emergency Department 3-4 times this past week, as her breathing struggles have suddenly kicked back into high gear. It's not the weather, since it's barely cold here, and it started in the summertime anyway (in 2010!). We've seen 8 or 9 different doctors and gotten just as many "suggestions" about what it could be, with no real answers. It's frustrating for me, as her mom, to watch her go through this, so I can only imagine how much of an annoyance it is for her. My husband thinks it's entirely stress-induced, but I disagree. That may be a component, certainly, but since it frequently comes on when she's just sitting around, doing nothing remotely upsetting, how can that be?? I just wish I could help her.


A local-but-online-only friend of mine is a potter, and she fashions these awesome, funkadelic business card holders that I've been coveting for a long time. Last week, she made this red one, and I KNEW it was the one I had to have. It arrived today. Do you love it?! I do! So cool. Check out Lisa's Etsy shop for more awesome clay-mations!


We drove up the Eastern Shore of Virginia on Sunday (here's my view out the windshield of the Chesapeake Bay), for a high-paying mystery shop. Great, except I kind of screwed it up a little, and now I don't know if I am going to get paid for it. Argh. Well, if that happens, at least we had a fun trip and enjoyed lots of interesting scenery, right?


This is the kids in the back during the trip, watching Judy Moody and the Not-So-Bummer Summer, which they've been waiting for me to rent from the Blockbuster kiosk for ages. I waited until it dropped to $1, so I could get it for free (lots of codes out there, folks!), because I'm cheap like that!


Speaking of mystery shops, Rob and I finally went out for a nice dinner - with the kids, so it was only semi-romantic! - to celebrate the 11th wedding anniversary we shared on the 2nd of this month. Here's my Appletini. The kids love cherries and all clamored for mine, but um, no. Not the ones all soaked in Smirnoff, kiddos! It was really strong, and I got drunk very quickly. I drink maybe once a month, if that, and wow. I'm such a lightweight since my surgery!


And here's me, that night (tipsy), showing you my hair in its awkward growing-out phase. I can't stand my hair right now. I want it to be long NOW. I'm half-tempted to just chop it again, but it grows soooo slowly, I may never have another ponytail. Is 35 too old for ponytails, anyway? Not around the house, or in the summer at least, right? ;)


Last week (which I can tell ya, because I skipped FF then, sorry), we totally kept the kids up and took them to the 12:01 AM first showing of the newly re-released Beauty and the Beast in 3D. It was AWESOME. I think I had as good a time as the kids did. It cost a small fortune; I had sticker shock, but it was worth it for the "cool mom points" I earned, I think. At least Rob managed to stay awake during the whole thing - he'd had a nap first to make sure! Have you seen it? It was great.


Lastly, speaking of Etsy, I have to share this story. I bought this gorgeous yarn on clearance from Summer of Perfectly Handmade, and the whole situation quickly turned into a comedy of errors: First, she accidentally sent me the wrong yarn, and then she sent me the correct yarn after I mailed it back (and she was GREAT through this whole process, and I totally recommend her, so don't think I'm speaking too badly of her). Well, it was badly skeined, and when I wound it into center-pull "cakes" with my swift and ball winder, it took about two hours vs. the 10-15 minutes it should have, because it was such a mess. I finally got it, though, and managed to knit ONE hexipuff for the Beekeeper's Quilt I'm making before going to bed for the night. Well, I stupidly left that troublesome-but-lovely yarn out overnigh, and our two kittens decided to make it their plaything overnight. When I woke up early, before the kids, I went to go knit another puff with it... and it was GONE. So I instantly knew "the twins," as they are, were the culprits and headed upstairs to look for it. I found two 8mo kittens, each with a shred of the yarn hanging out of their mouths and looking at me guiltily. They immediately dropped it and went to go hide under my son's bed! Then I searched around and found the yarn strewn all over my older daughter's room, some of it chewed it into short strands, some of it just a gnarled, knotty mess, but all entirely wrecked. GAH!!  However, I kept plugging away at it, and look! Up there! I managed to eke out 13 or 14 hexipuffs out of the yarn, which I eventually sorted out, and they'll look great in the quilt. But what a pain!!

P.S. Summer sent me some more yarn as a gift, for all my troubles. So if you're a "yarnie" like I am, don't hesitate to check her out!

I'll leave you on that note. No, this one: "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

RIP, Dr. King.


Sunday Stealing: The Never-Ending Meme, Parte Dos

Sunday Stealing

Link up here if you're doing Part II of this misnamed meme!

Cheers to all of us thieves!

21. Did you go to your high school prom?

I went to my Freshman Banquet, with my then-BFF Erin. There was no Sophomore dance at our school, but that year I went to my then-boyfriend's Freshman Banquet (he was older than me, but, er, uh, not as academic if you know what I mean). I went with a group of friends to my Junior Prom. I couldn't go to my Senior Ball, because my boyfriend was black, and we weren't "out" as a couple to my family, who would not have approved. So... no?

22. Perfect time to wake up?

23. Perfect time to go to bed?

Ideally, I'd stay up all night and sleep all day. I'm nocturnal; I always have been.  I'd convert my children - who are homeschooled - to the same schedule to make it easier on myself, if it wouldn't pretty much eff up the rest of their lives! :P

24. Do you use your queen right away in chess?

I have never had the privilege of being engaged in a chess match. Learning to play - and beating someone - is on my Bucket List.

25. Ever been in a car accident?

Oh, yeah. A few, but the most memorable was the time my dad and I were driving me back to college in Miami from South Carolina, and about 1/3 of the way there, we got hit by a drunk driver. It was the middle of the night, and the young man sped off, leaving us spinning around until we landed, facing out toward the road, down an embankment. There was an eerie silence except for the music coming from my boombox, which had flown out a broken window and gotten turned on. My dad sat there, paralyzed, not having a clue what to do, while I was basically freaking the freak out of an 18-year-old girl who desperately wanted to get back to school and away from ... him.

Finally, after what seemed like hours but was probably more like 20 minutes, a semi pulled into view. I leaned over in front of my dad and leaned on the horn for all I was worth. The truck driver skidded to a stop as soon as he could, and soon he was on the scene, helping us out of the thick brush and rescuing us. Before long, the place was crawling with police, us, the trucker, and the drunk driver and his dad, who had woken up when his son slammed into the house. He'd taken one look at his son and realized something bad had happened, telling him, "You've got to go back there, son." The police told us that we probably would have been dead if all four tires hadn't blown out on our rental van during the spinning and crashing. Anyway, that's my story. 

26. Closer to mom or dad…or neither?

Well, I told you that story... but my mom died when I was 7. I 'talk' to her all the time, so... I'd say it's a draw.

27. What age is this exciting life over for you?

I expected to drop dead at the age of 33, just like my mom did, all my life, so now that I'm 35, every year I get older is just an amazing, miraculous surprise. I intend to live life right out loud as long as I've got, whether it ends tomorrow or when I'm 103. I don't know. I never expected to get old, but I've married the love of my life, and it would be spectacular to get old together, y'know?

28. What decade during the 20th century would you have chosen to be a teenager?

I loved being a child of the 80s, but I think the Roaring 20s would have been fun, or the 50s, with the sock hops and all that stuff.

29. Favorite shoes you have EVER owned?

Well, I haven't worn them yet, but I got these knee-high black boots that fit perfectly and look great, off Freecycle. I'm taking a break from knitting THE perfect dress to go with them. I can't wait to rock that outfit!

30. Do you have an article of clothing you have had since you were in high school?

I do. Several shirts. Nothing worth mentioning, really.

31. Were you in track and field?

*Snort* No. Running for me is like ... like... a penguin trying to fly. It's almost physically impossible. I'd like to do the pole vault, though.

32. Were you ever in a school talent show?

Well, no. I was the Caterpillar in our 5th grade production of Alice in Wonderland, and I was a big hit. Then I developed stage fright, after my stepmother made some evil cracks about how I wasn't worth the money to spend on my dance lessons, though I was talented... but let's not go there. No. I wasn't ever in a talent show.

33. Have you ever written in a library book?

I don't know. I don't think so. I've probably dog-eared a few, though.

34. Allergic to?

It was the weirdest thing. I was never, ever allergic to anything, until 2008, when I was suddenly allergic to EVERYTHING. Strawberries and apples, Percocet and Anceph, the chlorine at the pool, my pillows... everything. I had reactions constantly. Then we went to Europe in the summer, and the reactions stopped during the trip. I haven't had an allergic reaction since then. Weird, right?

35. Favorite fruit?

Rob. Oh, you meant fo' real, a food? Hmm... I love me some fruit. It's a tie between kiwi and strawberries. I like grapes, too. Oh, and Clementines... and canteloupe. I love me some fruit!

Until next week, my babies...


Oral-B Stages III & Oral-B Crest Pro-Health FOR ME - Brought To You By MommyParties!

Disclaimer: MommyParties and Oral-B/Crest provided this awesome party package to me in exchange for sharing it with you. No monetary compensation was provided. All opinions are, as always, my own.


I was lucky enough to be selected by MommyParties to hold this really cool party sponsored by Oral-B Stages III and Oral-B Crest Pro-Health FOR ME, and we held it last month. (Yes, I've been remiss about posting about it in a timely manner; sorry!) Look at all this great swag they sent me to give out to our party guests!



There were informational hand-outs for the parents, along with goody bags for the kids to take home all their, well, goodies!



It was really awesome of them to send me a DVD of Cars 2, for the kids to watch at the end of the party. We were given popcorn and popcorn boxes as well, for enjoying during the party. How cool is that?! There were Cars-themed Gummy Vitamins for the kids, and this packet of tips and trivia for healty teeth. I asked the kids (and their parents) some of the questions, and we had fun learning new facts about keeping our mouths in tip-top shape.


We received a dozen tubes of Crest Pro-Health FOR ME toothpaste, for the kiddos to add to their goody bags.


We also received Oral-B Pro-Health FOR ME Floss Picks for the 8+ crowd, along with Toy Story- and Disney Princesses-themed Flossers for the younger set. So fun!


They also gave us Oral-B Stages toothbrushes in Disney Princess themes for the 5-7-year-olds, along with Pro Health FOR ME toothbrushes for the 8+ children. We even received several full-sized bottles of Crest Pro Health FOR ME mouthwash for the kids to try!



My kids were SO excited for the party to start, and they couldn't believe everything that was sent to us! (Other parents opted not to have their children photographed.)


When the party started, I showed everyone their loot and asked them to show me what looked most exciting for them to try. This one, age 10, couldn't wait to try the mouthwash! (And she did, after brushing her teeth, right during the party. She said it tasted great!)


This 6-year-old wanted a Disney Princess toothbrush, and she, too, wanted to go brush her teeth right away! I gave everyone a box of toothpaste, so they each had their own. It was so funny how thrilling that was for each of them!


True to form, my son Jack, 8, went right for the Cars 2 movie and gummies! He couldn't wait to watch the movie!


Chloë shows off all of the goodies she quickly added to her bag, and then we all sat down to watch the movie and eat some popcorn.

In the end, this was a really fun opportunity, and I'm glad MommyParties and Oral-B & Crest chose me to host it. Thank you for the great party package! I hope to bring you more MommyParties again soon.


Saturday 9: I Know I'm Losing You


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

1. Have you ever still been in a relationship that you knew was ending, but you hung in with it anyway? If yes, why?

Yes. It was the guy I lived with before I finally kicked him out for busting my teeth (see previous post, The Dad I Sort of Had). The relationship lasted two years and sucked for about 23 months of that. I kept him around to help pay the rent. Honestly. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

2. Tell why people around the world should be completely enthralled by you.

Ha. I truly don't want them to be. I have a unique personality, coupled with an esoteric sense of humor, and I like to surround myself with the ones who truly "get" me. The other ones, they can hang around, but we won't have much to discuss.

3. Other than where you live, what's your favorite city and why?

Parts of my heart still belong to Miami. I went to University there, I had some of the best times of my life there, and I have some really excellent friends still living there. It's beautiful, the parts where I lived, anyway, and I love the multi-culturalism. And the palm trees. God, I love the palm trees.

4. What is something you are really passionate about?

Tolerance for "The Other." I hate -isms in the extreme. That, and environmentalism.

5. What has been your most exciting prize that you've won?

In Grade Three, I was voted Class Giggler. I've earned a lot of accolades since I was eight, but I'm still the most proud of that. I do have a mean giggle, and if you can elicit it, props to you.

6. Do you think there was there a second gunman behind the grassy knoll?

I choose not to dwell on things about which I know practically nothing.

7. What was the silliest, most fun, crazy or impractical gift that you received?

I can't think of anything on the spot, so I'll share a different person's story: A girl I interned with at Mote, her brother went to the drug store on Christmas Eve and bought all the Fleet Enemas on the shelf. That's what he gave everyone for Christmas. I freakin' love that story!

8. What was the most practical gift that you received?

My red Kitchenaid mixer (no, we didn't pay that much for it!), for Valentine's Day a year or two ago! I do a lot of mixing, so I really needed it. And it's RED. Did I mention that? I ♥ it.

9. What blogger has been in your blogroll the longest? How did you discover them?

Hmm. Opening Google Reader to check... Of the ones that remain on my list, since they come and go on a whim, probably Goodyblog, because I was a junkie at the time. I rarely read it now, though.

Hasta mañana, folks!


Aloha Friday


I'm pretty sure it's Friday the 13th, which means it's time to link up here with Kailani if you've got questions for us today!

My question for you this week is:

What talent do you not have, that you wish you possessed? Anything from the ridiculous the sublime - name it!

As for me, I have a few... I can sing and I can dance, but I'm more of a "back-up" type and wish I had a powerhouse voice with amazing moves. Also, I wish I was an incredible gymnast who could do handsprings and things across the floor. There are more, but those are my biggies. :D

What about you?

Have a fantastic day!


The Dad I Sort Of Had


I write sometimes about my dad, but this post is about the man who was more of a Father Figure to me than he was, and it's taken me since the last posting to figure out how I wanted to write this. I thought about a compare/contrast, but that wouldn't honor this great man the way I wanted to. So instead, it's going to be all about him.

James Morton Brickley was a class act. I could stop there and that would be 'nuff said, but there's so much more I would like to say about him.

I met Jim when I was working at a Publix Supermarket in St. Pete, Florida. I was a cashier there, again. I mean, I worked my way at a Publix in Coral Gables while going to the University of Miami, so it seemed only fitting to work at yet another one while putting myself through the rigors of a Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida. And I liked it. But that's a different post.

Anyway, one day, Jim came through my line and, unbeknownst to me, observed me while he waited his turn. When he was up, he handed me his business card and said, "I need you at my law firm. You're exactly what I'm looking for. Call this number and talk to my wife - she's my office manager - and tell her I said to call about the job." I was stunned, flattered, and... well, flattered some more.

In the end, I got the job as Jim's legal secretary, along with the two lawyers who worked for (they'd say "with," but it was really "for") him. It was just the five of us, including his Office Manager wife. A small but busy law practice that Jim had started years earlier and built the way he felt a law firm should be built: by word-of-mouth, not advertising on TV or the back of phone books.

But I chatter too much. Getting further along, I worked there until I moved up to Tampa to be closer to my doctoral program, and I sadly said good-bye to Jim and the gang. We'd forged friendships, though, and when a semester had passed, he called me up and asked me to come back. Seemed he couldn't find a legal secretary as good as I had been, I said, patting myself on the back, and he would bump up my salary to pay for the commute.

So I went back to working for Jim. By that time, I had stepped down from the Ph.D. program, a heartwrenching decision I made after deciding I didn't have enough passion to spend my life on that (but again, another post for another day) and was working on my Master's degree in Science Ed. (By the by, maybe it was just that program at that school, but hello, that was a cakewalk compared to the Biology program. Easy peasy.)

After yet another semester, I decided I needed a break from school to make more money to continue the program, now that I didn't have the assistanceships and stipends I was earning in the former degree program, so I moved back to St. Pete. Jim and his wife helped me find a really decent apartment; I was financially strapped - as students are wont to be - and they fronted me the money for the security deposit, out of the goodness of their hearts.

But it didn't stop there. When my car, Bullet, got stolen, Jim was all set to loan me the money for a kickin' boat of a car (I think it was a stinkin' Lincoln, but I can't remember now, though it was nice) until Bullet suddenly turned up a month later. In the meantime, he picked me up for work himself, many times, though I could just as easily have ridden the bus.

When I got very sick suddenly at work one day, too sick to even drive myself home, Jim called up a cab, put me in it, and paid the driver not only to take me home, but to take me to the emergency room, and pick me up for work again when I was ready to return.

When my live-in boyfriend at the time threw me into a bookshelf and broke my two front teeth, and I showed up to work with a big gaping hole in my mouth, Jim took me into his office to ask what happened. He was furious with the guy. He called his own personal dentist and, while I listened, made me an appointment for later that same day and told the dentist to send him the bill. I got my teeth fixed, and Jim paid for it.

Then, one day, I met my future husband, and within weeks, we were engaged. And then we eloped. Jim was against it, but he wished me well and sent me on my way with a bonus paycheck. I moved to Panama City, FL, to live with my new husband. Before we knew it, a baby was on the way.

When Chloë was born a month prematurely on September 7th, 2001, I tried calling Jim and his wife to let them know. Or maybe Rob did; I forget, but we didn't get through and had to leave a message. Chloë was born in Pensacola, three hours from home, and she spent ten days in the NICU fighting this, that and the other serious issue while Rob and I lived in the Ronald McDonald House there to be near her. Because of that, Jim and his wife weren't able to get ahold of me.

Then bin Ladin and his cohorts struck on September 11th. Actually, I was still in the hospital, having had an emergency c-section, when we heard the news. As Rob is in the Navy, we had people crawling out of the woodwork to ask what that would mean for him career-wise, but our world was all about our sick new baby. And still, I didn't get to talk to my Father Figure, Jim, to tell him of our news.

Well, a few days later, his wife finally found us by telephone, calling the NICU to reach me. She asked about Chloë, and then she told me the awful news: While standing there, in front of the television, watching the news of the terrorist attacks, Jim suffered an acute aortic aneurysm. He died that day, that horrible day. I was in shock, hearing the news. I cried out in the NICU (a big no-no, by the way) when she told me, and I sobbed.

Jim from Kentucky, I plan to have a mint julep on Derby Day this year for you, 10½ years later. And I'll remember that day, as always, how good you were to me. And for me.

Thank you.


Christmas Continues With Crafts And...Stuff.


I took advantage of a few after-Christmas sales and picked the kids up some small things at AC Moore last week. All three picked out their own colors of plastic canvas and some embroidery floss for some crafty-time fun. The girls wanted to use theirs before I was ready, so I gave them the needles and thread and go crazy. It's hard to tell here, but Chloë made a face and a flower on hers; later, since it was New Year's Eve, she stitched "Happy New Year" on hers, too. I neglected to get Sophia's project, because her floss knotted up and she threw it down in frustration. (Hey, she's her mother's child.) I'm going to check out this site soon to see what we can do together with the rest of it.



I also snagged some Learn-to-Draw books for the kids, and Sophia's was horses and ponies. She started sketching right away, and this is one from the next day. I'm not sure where the others ended up, but they were equally impressive, for a six-year-old to whip out, in my mind!


Mindware had several cool items on crazy clearance, too, so I grabbed a few things from there for the kids, too. Jack wanted to start painting his car bank inmediatamente!


Chloë at least waited until after dinner to paint her scooter bank. Look, she even painted a little road on the paper. Silly girl.


For Christmas, the Littles each got a three-month subscription to Kiwi Crate from a Plum District deal, and they've been eager to break into their first boxes and see what goodness was contained within. I worried it would be a little young for them, but so far, they've had a blast with what we've done. Here they are decorating and putting stickers on special dates in the calendars therein. (The scissors came with the crates; they have everything you need to do the crafts and activities, which I like, even though we obviously own scissors and tape and stuff. They loved getting them.



The next activity was to make these super-simple but nifty "rockets," receiving enough supplies for about a dozen, each.


Jack was oh-so-careful making his. I mean, rockets! Right up a boy's alley!


The first launch was directed at his mother. It really flew, too! Good job, Bud!


When Sophia's first one was finished, the two of them were in competition to see whose could go the fastest, the farthest, the whatever-est, and they had an absolute BALL. I mean, days later, they are still making and playing with these things. Even Chloë made one or two of them, and they've been running all over the house, up and down the stairs, launching these rockets. WIN!


Finally, the kids each got gift cards from both sets of grandpas, and they opted to spend them entirely at Books-A-Million. (If you'd like the pictures individually, just let me know. Figured a collage was in order for this one.) Chloë shopped frugally and ended up with four books and a Gordian's Knot; Jack got two Legos packages, and Sophia bought a book and a Barbie DVD. Plus, all three of them bought Angry Birds stuffies; they are huge fans of the game app on my iPhone! Thanks, Grandpas!

Whew. So, I think I'm done blogging for the night. And now... back to my hexipuffs. At least one more before I turn in for the night. Have a great week!


Eleven Years Out Of My Life


OMG. I never blogged that it was our 11th anniversary?! Thufferin' thuccotash! That was a week ago tomorrow, now. Sophia took this picture of us on that day. The sun was in our eyes, and my hair is in a very awkward-growing out phase, so it's not ideal, but hey, she's six and we're not Brangelina, here.  I made a super-awesome video for him (15 minutes long, I might add) that made the man-person tear up a little (shh, don't say I told), but I can't upload it to YouTube or Vimeo 'cause of copyright reasons. But I could email it to you if you wanna see it. Just ask. It's cute and stuff.

Anyway. Eleven. Have we had our share of problems? You bet. Are we still madly in love with each other? You better believe it.


Here's to eleven more!


A Few Things With Which To Bug You


This picture can only mean one thing, and that's that it's Cookie Sale time again for the Scouts o' Girls. Chloë and I beat the street today for a wee while, but we were largely unsuccessful because (a) we returned home quickly after discovering it was deceptively chilly outside, (2) no one was home, and (x) practically everyone else had a "NO SOLICITING" sign on their door, which IMHO should not pertain to Girl Scout Cookies because I said so. So we'll go out on our next opportunity, which should be Tuesday, but in the meantime, if you want some, they're $3.50/box and I'm willing to go halvsies on shipping with you if you're not local to us. If you are local, pretty please won't you buy some yummy delicious cookies from my little Scouties? *blink blink blink*


The second order of business is that I still have two or three local (Hampton Roads) 2012 Entertainment Books to sell for our big homeschooling trip to Baltimore/DC later this year, and I need to know whether you want one by, like, right now. So get 'em while they're hot - and they are hot, because the price has dropped to 25 smackers!


Thirdlish, have you joined the Superpoints Network yet? It's a lot like Swagbucks, in that you get points and redeem them for prizes. I joined less than a week ago and already have 288 points, and I only need 500 to get my first $5 gift card - my reward of choice! Click here for your invite; only the FIRST person can use that link, so if you want to join, just comment and leave your email so I can invite you. Woot!



And lastable, speaking of Swagbucks, click here to join, because you want free money, too. I mean, if you don't like free Amazon money (and who doesn't? I've racked up $325 in free gift cards - no lie - with just five more to go before I cash in for yet another $5 GC), you can spend a few more points to get free Paypal money and bunches of other swag. So. Yeah.

'Kay, that's it. I'm done buggin' y'all. For the moment.


The Only Puffing Going On Here


Life has been hectic and crazy and chaotic and unruly and all that usual gar-bazh, but I'm still hexipuffing away in between moments of crazy and... all that. The Bob just took this picture of me knittering away on the latest puff, which I just now finished. That's how current this post is. I know. I'm so up-to-the-minute like that. I'm freakin' CNN.

100 Hexipuffs

In fact, this morning, I finished my 100th puff! 'Twas brillig, because I was all excited to tell Chloë that when she woke up, and she instantly got to counting them, saying, "There's no way there are 100 in that bag already!" And she was right, dammit. There were 98. So my 10-year-old bursted my bubblage, which was fine, because that meant I couldn't do anything until I had finished two more puffs, right? And so here they are, in all their glory. 100 hexipuffs. (I'm a few past that by now, but I don't know how many. I'm sure Chlo will tell me tomorrow. She's constantly counting and rearranging them, the little Rainwoman.)

What the dickens is a hexipuff, you ask? You don't remember my linkage? Go here to see what shall be made of all these glorious little works of knitting art. Go now, do it, see for yourself. Then come back.

Cool, right? And no, I'm not selling it. I'm keeping this hard work all to my - well, our - selves. I don't know how many more I'm going to make. I'll just know when I'm done. I'm not there by a long shot, though.


I looked up after the knitting-in-action shot just in time for The Bob to take this librarianesque photo of me. Yes, I have a lot of freckles. No, I can't stand wearing these glasses, because they slide down my nose like they belong in my mouth, and that drives me crazy, which you all know is so short a trip we don't even have to get in the car.

Anyway. That's the latest knitting news. Now let me go through the pictures and see what else I can share with you, m'kay? 'Kay.


Sunday Stealing: The Never-Ending Meme, Parte Uno

Sunday Stealing

Link up here if you're meme-crazy like me, too!

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Song that always makes you sad?

"To Where You Are" by Josh Groban, and "Tears in Heaven" by E.C.

2. Last thing you bought?

Canned foods for our donation to the Food Bank, part of our entrance fee to last night's Girl Scout Cookie Rally  

3. Last person you argued with?

Rob and I had it OUT the other day about where we're going to live after he retires in 1½ years from the US Navy, but I'm going to keep mum this time, until we actually make things happen. Sorreh.

4. Do you put butter before putting the peanut butter on?

Huh? Butter with peanut butter? Huh? Is you crazy?

5. One of your stuffed animals’ names as a kid?

My Cabbage Patch Kids were Aubrey Lenora, Tiffany Jacqueline, and Andrea Jeanine.

6. Did you ever at one time own a Barenaked Ladies CD?

Well, of course. "If I had a million dollars" is one of "our" songs...

7. Favorite day of the week?

Any day that Rob is home with me, sap sap, mush mush, gag.

8. Favorite sundae topping?

I can't eat it anymore, but if it's going to be a sundae, it better have nuts, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry. Good stuff, there. Mmm.

9. Did you take piano lessons?

Yes. Well, my mom played the organ, so when she died, I took organ lessons to honor her. When the piano teacher came to my house, I played the organ. When I went to her house, I played her piano. So, kinda.

10. Most frequent song played?

Right now I'm overplaying "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5. There are boobs in the explicit version on YouTube, you know. I discovered this the other day. Who doesn't like boobs? I was told recently that even gay guys like 'em. Who knew?

11. TV show you secretly enjoy?

I enjoy Phineas and Ferb, which we stream on Netflix, since we don't have 'real' TV. Rob and I laugh more than the children do, I swear.

12. Would you rather play basketball or hockey?

Hockey. I can whack the shit out of some puck, dude.

13. Date someone older or younger?

I prefer them older. I don't want to teach you new tricks. I want you to know the tricks. Kwim?

14. One place you could travel right now?

Could, or would like to? I mean, I could travel to Williamsburg or the Outer Banks. I would like to travel to Japan or Australia. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, dammit.

15. Do you use umbrellas?

We have a Britto umbrella, which I bought for Rob as a gift during a trip to Charleston, that mostly sits unused. I prefer to just get wet, unless my hair and make-up are done, and then I'm using that mofo. I like getting rained on.

16. Do you know all the words to the Canadian national anthem?

Yeah, I know all the words to all the national anthems, dude. Duh. :\

17. Favorite cheese?

Velveeta. Sike! (Although I admit, I'll use it when it suits.) Hmm... I do like my Muenster.

18. The Smiths or The Cure?

Depends on the mood. Whatever, I like it all but country.

19. Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?

I really don't give a rat's ass. I like arm muscles, though. Not that you asked that.

20. Best job you ever had?

You should expect me to say the current one, mothering my three bebes. Which I do love, of course. But aside from that, I'd say it's a toss-up between my internship in Fisheries Biology at Mote Marine Lab and my stint working at the dive shop Diver's Paradise on Key Biscayne. Times of my life, both.

Well, that wasn't exactly never-ending. Twenty questions, really? I was prepared for fourscore. Ah well. More fun next week. Ciao, thieving peeps.