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Entries from May 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Seen Around Town

Again, link up at 5mfm if you're wordless (or not!) today. I've been photographing license plates we're driving (or stopping, as it were) behind; here are a bunch that I've managed to snag:

001 (2)

You're With Us - who is, I wonder?

001 (3)

Just Sew - all right, then. I'll get right on it!

001 (4)

Harder to see, but it has a cat on the left and says, "MEOOOW." I wonder how many she has...

001 (6)

Akita For You - Obviously, judging from all the other décor on this one, this person is very much into rescuing the breed. Well, good for them!


Weighed - what, exactly? This one leaves me quite confused.


Too Legit - Really? We're still saying that?

002 (2)

This person LOOOOOOOVES the Outer Banks (of NC): I agree; it's great to visit. I don't know that I'd put it on my plate, though...

002 (3)

Tippin' Toe, here, has me thinking there's a dancer inside the Jeep, but who knows?


All is Well - and I'm glad to hear it!


Never Again, insists this driver. What's s/he refusing to do? Maybe s/he got the car in the divorce. :| Oh, or maybe it's meaningful on a grander scale. Whatcha think?


Euphemism - But what is? Where? Please, I can't be left hanging like that.


ARRRRR, Matey! I've shown this one before, but it bears repeating. Or not, whatevs.

008 (2)

To Insure You - Are you my agent?


My GS3 - Such overt pride in one's vehicles is... lamesauce, IMHO. But then, I don't drive a Lexus!


We Surf - but where are the boards? Guess there were no waves that day.


Beach Boy is my kinda dude. I'm right there with ya, pal!


Superior is, hopefully, their company name and not their general attitude.

And last, but not least, a little something different:


Alf! On the back of this big, honkin'... thingamabob. I love it.

Happy Wednesday!


Wordless Wednesday: Tent City In My Living Room, & More

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


It's hot in Southeastern Virginia, and we don't have functional central A/C at the moment. Fortunately, friends who moved to Alaska blessed us with the portable unit seen at the back of this photo, so the kidoodles have been allowed to camp out in front of it in our living room tonight. This was their result. Can you tell which tent houses the boy-child? ;)


Sophia, 7, knocked out her two front teeth when she was three. It's been a long time coming, but finally an adult tooth has just popped out, with the other one sure to follow soon. Hooray!


Same child as above often brings me a weed or two, usually a dandelion, to serve as gifts of flowers which, to her, are beautiful. I have made the mistake of explaining to her that they were weeds, and that they belonged outside - this does nothing to brighten her spirit. So when she brought me this bouquet, which she herself envased in this green bottle, I accepted the gift with genuine delight. After all, this will only last for so long, and one day it will be the last weed-bouquet I get from her.


1 (2)

My silly kids, who went ShopKicking (a Smartphone app) with me around Target in exchange for spending some of our SK points on free Target gift cards to buy their little trinkets, here, posed in front of the store to show them off. Well, the picture was for a ShopKick contest to win a bunch of points, which we didn't - or did we?!

1 (1)

And finally, a first-thing-in-the-morning self-portrait, for no other reason than to show my messy office matching my bedhead hair. No, I wasn't naked; my spaghetti straps were just out of view on my tank.

I may be back with another WW post; stay tuned! ;D


Sunday Stealing: The Imaginary Meme


Link up here if you're playing along - I'm doing Parts I and II together since I missed last week. Enjoy!

Sunday Stealing: The Imaginary Meme, Part One

1. Have you ever peed your pants as an adult?

I've had four kids, including a set of twins, via c-section. You don't put that much pressure on your guts without a little weewee squeaking out now and then.

 2. Who do you have a celebrity crush on now?

I've gotta agree with Jennifer Love Hewitt and go with Adam Levine from Maroon 5.

3. Would you date someone you met online?
Would. Have. Married him...

4. Do you wear underwear always?
Nope. Most of the time, I do. Not at the moment, though!

5. Do you hate yourself at times?
*snort* I can't count how many times I've attempted suicide. You don't do that because you like yourself.

7. Do you like dirty movies?
I've seen a few in my day, but most just make me laugh.

8. Could you believe Josha Ledet was voted off Idol?
I don't give a flying Fig Newton.

9. When was the last time that you bought a car?
August 6, 2010. Now I'm trying to get rid of it. :\

10. Have you ever been camping?
Oodles of times as a kid, and twice as a Girl Scout troop leader. I liked it much better as a kid. Lots fewer rules!

11. How many times a day do you go on facebook?
Sometimes none. Sometimes I never leave, technically. It all depends. I took a long break recently and didn't really miss it all that much. Surprised even me.

12. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, with my 10yo daughter, Chloë. I wasn't too impressed (sorry, Hugh, I still love you) and spent the entire movie with my iPhone on my chest, lighting up my knitting.

13. Have you ever worried that you'd cut off a limb?
This meme is kind of pissing me off. Oh, wait, no, I was already pissed off. <<breathes deeply>> I don't think that's the sort of thing you worry about until you do it, unless you work a dangerous job.

14. Where did you get your last email from?
Freecycle. I'm getting rid of lots of good stuff today, and it feels good to be trimming the fat!

15. Favorite website?
Mine. ;)

16. Are you down with ghetto?
There's a time and, obviously, a place for that, but I try not to show that side of myself in public places!

17. Will the world end in fire or ice?
I don't know. Yes?

18. Do you believe in the afterlife?
Yes. Yes, I do.

19. Would you be upset if Facebook stopped working?
I'd be more surprised than upset, at this point in the game.

20. How did you start your blog?
I opened a Typepad account and started typing. That's pretty much how it goes, isn't it?
21. Have you felt that life is like being on a roller coaster?
Pshaw. Mine has, that's for damn sure.

22. Favorite year so far?
I take them as they come.

23. Do you consider yourself religious?
I consider myself spiritual.

24. How do you dress to impress?
With this body, it's very hard. I'm not fat anymore, but I have a lot of extra, loose skin. It's not a pretty picture, so there's not a lot I can dare to bare, and I can't wear skin-tight, either. Just like when I was really big, there's a lot of clever covering up going on. I do try to get away from wearing all black now, though. Mostly I focus on my best assets, which are my shoulders on up. (Thanks, Jafra!)

25. Have you ever been to Connecticut?
Just once. We spent the night before my grandpa's funeral there last year, which was fitting, because that's where he was raised.

26. Do you eat sushi?
Love it. Can't eat much of the rice, though, so it can be tricky.

27. Would you smoke pot providing there was no risk or driving involved?
I never have, so I don't know... but it is on my Bucket List.

28. What do you think of Idol Winner Phillip Phillips?
Again, I don't give a flying Fig Newton.  ReMEMber??!

29. Do you believe that animals have souls?
I suppose so, yeah.

30. Who did you last talk to? Share, if you dare.
I'm not really scared to tell you I talked to my husband. Should I be? <<looks around nervously>>

31. What is one thing that always annoys you?
My husband is the biggest instigator of my kids' shrieking and whining when we're out in public, because he'll pick on them and bug them to death. Seriously? It drives me crazy. You're almost 40, not 12. Grow up and act your age. (Home is a different story, of course. Go nuts.)

32. Do you believe in a higher being God?
Yes, I do.

33. Have you ever fallen in love with a neighbor?
No, but there were certainly crushes on a few when I was a kid...

34. Any plans for this weekend?
Well, we went out of town the last two weekends, so it's stinko that the Strawberry Festival in town is this weekend, and we have exactly zero dollars to go. Can't even afford the gas down there! Instead, we're cleaning house. (I'm taking a break, obvs.) Maybe we'll go to the beach tomorrow.

35. Would you like to rule your country, if you could?
Hell, no! I'm just not "leader material." I do think it's time for a woman to try her hand at it, though.

36. Do you like watching films about the nature of animals?
You're asking a Biologist this? As long as they're portrayed true to life, yes, I love them.

37. What's the difference between lust and/or lust?
I fail to understand the difference myself there, pal.

38. Do you have a soul?
Le sigh. I was right. This meme is annoying. Of course I do.

39. One best friend or many good friends?
I'd prefer both. Can I have both? 'Cause I do.

40. Do you believe in spontaneous combustion?
That's like asking me if I believe in Evolution. Both are completely observable, witnessed-by-human-eyes scientific phenomena. An emphatic "yes!"
Well. That was meh. Back to work.

Little Miss Coppertone Contest - Enter Now Thru June 22nd!

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place.


Summer is just around the corner which means that most of us have beach days and poolside play dates in our future! Along with the bright sun, fresh produce and vacation plans, there's another symbol of summer that's immediately recognizable - the Coppertone girl! This summer, Coppertone is giving all littler girls the chance to embody this wholesome and charming icon with their Little Miss Coppertone Contest.


Coppertone is celebrating little girls by searching for the one who best personifies the spirit of Coppertone. All you have to do is submit a photo of your little girl, ages 2-8, by June 22nd to enter. Special guest judge Alison Sweeney will lead the judging team in selecting finalists and starting on July 13th, America will vote to choose the next Little Miss Coppertone! The winner gets a dream family vacation and will be featured in a Coppertone print ad! To enter the contest and read the official rules, visit the Coppertone Facebook page.

No Purchase Necessary. Contest Ends on 6/22/12. Click for Details.

So what are you waiting for? I plan to enter Sophia, my 7-year-old, this weekend! ☺


In Which I've Been Unwell

Hey, y'all.

I realize I've been incommunicado for a little while now, and part of that is we've been really busy, even more than usual, and the other part is that I haven't been doing so hot.


I think everyone who visits here regularly knows that I'm bipolar and am on a cocktail of meds to keep me stable. Welp, one of those drugs recently caused a third, much more severe than the two prior, episode of tardive dyskinesia. You can read about it at the link there, but for me, it manifested via frequent involuntary kickings of my right leg (mostly, though occasionally the left one would wig out, too), and much more frustratingly, near-constant facial tics and contortions. I also kept blurting random things out that sounded fun to say, unconcontrollably, so I definitely agree with that link's assertion that TD can mimic Tourette's Syndrome.

I've been suffering from daily migraines and other severe headaches, too, but when this started, I was headache-free. It started in the evening and then picked up in severity over the next few hours. Having had minor incidents before (my tongue curled stiffly upward, making me talk funny), I had already talked to my psychopharmacologist about it, so I knew that Abilify was the most likely culprit. As it became worse, I called and left him a message at 2300, asking what I should do. I left another message at midnight, and then, in desperation, again at 0100. I also texted my therapist, who never got my message until I told her about in our session last night, so... whoops.

Anyway, it reached the point where I felt it was urgent enough to seek emergency care. I really didn't think it was an "emergency," per se, but more a matter of urgency. Knowing our nearby ED would be relatively slow, I figured I'd pay them yet another visit. (It's time they start giving us frequent flier miles. Seriously!)

The doc was great; I've had him before and liked him immensely both times. He admitted to not being an expert in anti-psychotic medications and decided to leave the decision to take me off my Abilify to Dr. P., with which I agreed. Dr. G, of the ER, wanted to sedate me with Ativan, but I refused. I've been out of commission enough with the migraines, so that we've lost a bit of school time and won't test until June now, rather than this month, so the last thing I needed was to be completely dead to the world, which I would have been.

In the end, I got a 50-mg injection of Benadryl in the tush. It helped immensely. Within an hour, the tics and everything were all but gone, and of course, I was sleepy and able to rest. I saw Dr. P. the next day, and he took me off the Abilify after confirming my self-diagnosis of TD, putting me on yet another new drug. I'm going through withdrawal and more migraines now, in addition to having some flu-like symptoms.

Looks like we'll be hanging around the house today, maybe, instead of visiting the annual Strawberry Festival in the Pungo area of town. All this to say, I know I'm way behind on the blahg, but I plan to catch up over this holiday weekend, as long as I'm cognitively aware enough to do so!

So. That is all I shall say about that.  More later, I hope!


Saturday 9: Self Esteem


Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Self Esteem

1. How was your self esteem growing up?
It's never been very high, but it was especially low as a kid.
2. Do you ever have a hard time with morals?
Sure, I've come up against some situations that make me stumble, in that regard. Yes.
3. Do you eat in bed? If yes, what?
Occasionally, and if I do, I suppose it's whatever I'm in the mood for.
4. What was the last movie you hated and why?
I rarely hate a movie, so I can't even really think of a recent one. I took my oldest to see the Pirates movie that Hugh Grant had a vocal role in, a few weeks ago, and I was so very bored for the first half. That's unusual. It got better, but it wasn't great. (They had me when Chuck Darwin came on the scene, but I didn't love the way he was portrayed!)
5. Have you ever felt that you lost it all? If yes, explain.
Hmm. Mentally lost my shit? Yes, I have. But lost it all, as in hit rock-bottom? I don't think so, no.
6. Have you ever been stalked?
Yes, I have. The most frustrating part of that is the authorities' refusal/inability to act until you're harmed. I was harmed, though, and to be completely honest, I still have my bad-daydream-fantasy-thing that he's going to show up at my door and shoot me.
7. Do you believe in 'self help' for problems, or do you prefer therapy?
I'm in therapy, and it's great - because I've found an excellent care provider. I've been with 'bad' therapists, so I think it completely depends. I don't think this should be an either/or question, though. Why can't one do both?
8. What celebrity do you think should make a run for office?
Ayyyy, uh, um.... no?
9. Do you believe in happy endings? (We do. That's why this is the last question!)
Of course. I'm the eternal optimist, right here.

Saturday 9: Touch Me In The Morning


Saturday 9: Touch Me in the Morning

1. Who or what sleeps with you?

Hubs, often Sophia (our 7yo), and at least 2 cats...
2. Last time you saw your high school best friend?

It's been a few years, maybe three years this summer. I miss you, Weezie!

3. What do you do when you're sad?

You mean, besides cry? Well, I cry s'more. I don't know. It's hard for me to tell the difference between "depression sad" and "regular sad," anymore.

4. What do you wear when you are relaxing around the house?
Whatever's clean and comfy, depending on the season. Gotta admit, I love sweats.
5. What did you do immediately after high school?
a. Moved to South Carolina with my dad for the summer (literally the day after graduation). b. Hated that. c. Matriculated at the University of Miami for my B.S.

6. Is anyone on your bad side right now?
No, not really. Not anyone particularly on my radar, at least.
7. What's the first thing you do when you get online?
Time was, it would be to get on Facebook, but I'm really not on there much anymore (except through my iPhone), so now it's checking email. I get entirely too much.
8. What jewelry are you wearing?
My wedding ring and another ring my husband gave me for, I think, our sixth anniverary: a giant sapphire. It's beautiful. Sophia lost my engagement ring or I'd be wearing that, too. :( Oh, and my nosering du jour, a big pearly number.
9. Post a current song that you like. (Or name it and tell us why you like it.)
"Somebody That I Used to Know," by Gotye is pretty cool. I gotta agree with Ryan Seacrest on this one: it makes me want to tiptoe around. hee
See you here tomorrow night!

Sunday Stealing: Free Jail Pass Meme, Part The First

Sunday Stealing

Link up here if you're thievering today!

Sunday Stealing: The Get Out of Jail Free Meme, Part One

1. When you're home alone, do you still close the door when you use the restroom?

I don't even close the door when I'm not home alone. So?

2. If you have to go grocery shopping, would you rather go alone or with someone?

It depends on my mood, but I love the company most of the time.

3. It's your best friends birthday, would you buy them a gift even though they didn't buy you one for yours?

Of course, if I found just the right thing and had the money. Keeping score is SUH lame.

4. You win the lottery. Lump sum or small payments over a period of time? Why?

It depends on how small the payments are. I'd have to think about it, depending on the terms.

5. Do you like your music loud or at a reasonable level?

Loud. Loud. LOUD!!!

6. Are you a beach person or a snowy mountain person?

Do you even have to ask me? I'd be a mermaid if I could.

7. When do you brush your teeth?

Once a month, whether they need it or not.

8. Can you watch scary movies alone?

No way, dude. I am a chickenshit. I don't like to watch them at all. Freddy Kreuger still gives me nightmares!

9. Soft bed or firm? And in fantasy land, who's in it with you?

Cushy, squishy with Matt Damon, please. ;)

10. Would you rather stay home all day, or be out and about?

I'd rather be on the go all the time. I'm a nomadic sort.

11. What's one of your worst memories (that you are comfortable sharing)?

One I've shared many times: Holding my precious baby boy while he gasped his last breath. There's nothing worse.

12. Do you like to keep the peace or be confrontational?

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother...oh, sorry, I broke out into song there. Yeah, I'm pretty confrontational, depending on how recently I've taken my meds. Heh.

13. Are you more likely to be with a large group of people or a few close friends?

I'd rather be with a few close friends with whom I can be totally myself.

14. What are your plans for October?

Um, I'm still working on May here, but there will definitely be a hayride in October, if I have anything to say about it.

15. If money were not a problem, where would you like to live?

Aboard a houseboat, traveling the planet. That, or Jupiter. Somewhere near the big red spot.

16. What is your ideal profession?

I'd really like to be a family court judge. Someday...

17. Are you (or were you) close to your Mom and Dad?

I was very close to my mom when I was a little'un. She died when she was 33 and I was 7. I've been closer at times to my dad, but at the moment, I'm doubting I'll ever have to speak to that jackhole again.

18. What is one fear that you can't seem to overcome?

Mustard. Terrifying substance, that. If it touches me, I flip the script.

19. Are you good at math?

When I was in high school, I used to do Calculus to prove I wasn't drunk... when I really was. I love math. My kids hate it. Poo on them.

See you here next week. And what happened to Saturday 9, anyway. Did'y'all forget? Dang.


Train Of Thought


Rob's mom, my dear MIL, recently suggested that we take Jack on a short train ride like Chloë did in September for her 10th birthday trip up to D.C. He is a fan of all things that go, especially if they have wheels and engines an' sech, so she rightly figured he would get a big kick out of it. To get the best prices, we had to go on weekdays, which meant Rob couldn't go along. So, I invited Jenny From the Block and her kids, M & G, along for our train trip to Richmond last week. Here are G and Jack playing Legos in the Newport News train station as we waited for our turn to embark. We got there waaaay early, so there was lots of time for that. Oops. I had counted on lots more traffic.


It was a splendid idea. Jack was positively giddy with excitement, and I think I heard the words, "Thanks for taking us on this train trip, Mommy," about 47K times in those coupla days. Not that I got sick of it, mind you. He was a born grump, so to make him really happy is one of my greatest pleasures.



Well, we were all pretty excited, truth be told. I'd love to take a cross-country train trip, with sleeper cars and the whole bit, some day. How fun would that be?!


It was hard to keep the kids confined to their seats, so fortunately they were free to get up and walk around, because they all wanted to watch the world go by as the train flew from Newport News to Williamsburg and then our final destination. (It was a very short trip, but the train tickets were cheaper than the gas to drive there, I swear!)


It took us a minute to figure out where to go for the proper bus, and I almost got into a smackdown with a woman at a different stop across the street, who was not listening to what I was telling her while I was busy not listening to what she was telling me. Heh. Eventually we got it sorted out and, thanks to her help and that of the actual bus drivers, we soon (not, more like two hours later) ended up at the hotel I'd gotten super-cheaply on Priceline. Woot!



While we waited for the bus, we watched more trains go by. I forget how many cars they counted, but this was a super-duper long one!


The hotel was mostly pretty nice, with respectful and attentive staff, but there were a few snafus, like the fact that they wanted a $50 deposit - which I didn't happen to have - and weren't going to waive the policy even though we'd already paid for the room (Jenny saved the day, thankfully), and the pool being closed for our entire first day, even though that's what the kids really wanted to go do most of all. So when we got in our room, finally, Jenny and the girls played cards on her bed, the boys played Legos some more, and I took a wee nap.


For dinner, we went across the street to the Chick-fil-A, because we wanted to let the kids burn off all their energy in the play place. They made friends with a gorgeous, statuesque young girl who is destined to be a model, from the looks of her. She was down-to-earth, though, and really enjoyed playing with our unsocialized, homeschooled kidlets. ;)



Jenny treated all the kids to ice cream after dinner, at the same place. Oh, there, you can see Chloë's necklace from her beau, S, can't you?


Before long, it was time to head back to the hotel and start getting ready for bed. Chloë & M both had "cute" sayings on their jammies, so they were all happy about that and posed for this "I'm Snow Cute as a Kitten" picture together. Then, after they had all brushed teeth, gotten their respective medicines and jammies on and found places to sleep, Miss Jenny read the five of them a bedtime story. It worked like a charm! I timed it: by 9:28 PM, all of them were sleeping soundly. Meanwhile, here it is 0420 right now and my daughters are still wide awake. What is the magic formula? A stricter bedtime routine, and a story. We used to do it. I think we will be starting that again, after this night. Ridiculous!


The following morning, we had a leisurely breakfast in our room (we'd both packed plenty of food) before heading to the finally-reopened pool for what was supposed to be most of the day. Um, hmm, seems they forgot to make it warm and not crank up the air conditioning in the pool room at the same time. We all froze! Even Jenny and I, and we didn't swim! Still, they braved it for as long as they could stand it, petering out one by one to wrap up in towels on the lounge chairs. Sophia's the second-youngest and yet the only one who could really swim. She was pretty dang cute swimming around with the other four hovering around the stairs together!

Oh, a funny: Sophia decided they were going to play spa, and she was giving all of the other kids massages on their chaises when an employee walked through the courtyard where we were. She jokingly asked if she could make an appointment for a massage, too, and Sophia didn't skip a beat before taking over to an imaginary sign and pointing out that it read, "For kids 10 and under only!" Just like that. There was no sign, let alone one saying anything about 10 and under; she's just quick with the humor like that. Love that kid!


To warm up the kids, Jenny decided to take us all next door to the restaurant, which was plenty warm, and treat us to lunch there. The décor was really cool and gave me some ideas...


Since we were in a "fancy" restaurant, M and Jenny decided we had to drink from our cups with our pinky fingers up and speak in British accents. Everyone but grumpy-boy participated, so it was a bit of a giggle-fest there for a minute. We were having a good time - even Jack, though he'd never have admitted it.


After lunch, we tried the pool again, but it was still too cold, despite the Engineer's best efforts to warm it up for us. So we went back up to the room, where Sophie and M took a "hot tub" together. M told met they were pretending to be two elbow macaronis cooking in hot water, which I found to be particularly amusing!


For dinner, we had the hotel shuttle drive us sort of across the street to the Steak 'n' Shake for a dinner of, um, ice cream milkshakes. Yup. That's all. Even I got in on that one, knowing full well it would make me sick to my guts. (And it did.) The cool part was I saw a Mattaponi Indian's truck, which I know it was because it said something about "Custalow Landscaping," and that's the last name of pretty much all of the Mattaponi tribe. I tried to find the owner, so s/he could pass a message on to Ol' George for me (remember our field trip to the reservation?), but I couldn't determine who it was. And, you know, I didn't want to assume too much. I did ask one darker-skinned man, but he was from New York and recognized me as a fellow New Yawka by my accent, too. Weird that I still have enough of a Hudson Valley accent to be recognized, though I haven't lived there since I was six! Anyway, blah blah blah.



The next day, our shuttle driver drove us to the bus stop we needed, after we checked out at noon. Time to get home again. We waited a while for the bus, so the kids checked out the mushrooms growing all around and had a quick lesson from us moms about different kinds of fungi. Hey, it's always schooltime 'round these parts.



Finally, we caught our bus, and no transfers this time. Only, the driver pointed out the wrong place for us to take a "short cut," and it turned out to be a really LONG cut, which wasn't terribly fun with all the baggage we were lugging around. Super annoying. And we couldn't find a bathroom soon enough for poor Sophia, who had a little accident and had to change in a dark stairwell during our trek to the right location. Thank goodness I'd brought a pack of wipes with us to clean her up well!


We eventually made it to the real, newer Richmond Amtrak station, which is actually quite nice. We found a parlor-type room unoccupied, so we claimed it for our rambunctious crew. We had a three-hour wait for our train! There was no place to stow our luggage and go wander around town, and neither of us had the energy to take it with us, so we sat and "needled," while the kids played various games with each other. It worked out okay; we were even eventually joined by a brave college student who we nicknamed "Anime Freak," because, well, that's what his shirt said. Shout out to Anime Freak!


I knit while Jenny crocheted, and then we made our way over to the platform when our train was called. There was another 20 or so minutes of waiting time there, where two elderly women glared at us, sniffed the air repeatedly and generally disapproved of our mere existence. Jenny later sent me this link on Pinterest for those women. Hee. When it was time to board, we lined up the kids between us, with a mom on either end as we'd been doing throughout the journey, and walked past those two snobby women. I couldn't resist. I smiled cheerfully at them and said, loudly, "Thanks for all the disapproving glares!" before marching past them with the rest of the gang. Anime Freak caught up to me and said, "Nice job! I hate people like that." I wonder what side the rest of the travelers were on?

For the rest of the journey home, it was pretty uneventful as the two mommies kept needling and the kids kept needling us to entertain them. Ha. No. So they busied themselves somehow, and we soon reached Newport News once again. Jenny had driven us up there, so as she drove home, I entertained the kids with that "A my name is Alice" game. M really liked that; she and Chloë played it between themselves about three more times while the younger three children dozed and chillaxed.

All in all, it was a pretty swell time. The seven of us survived each other, public transportation, the state capital, and non-child-friendly old maids. Win.


Aloha Friday


Hey y'all! Link up here if you're questioning along with Kailani and pals this weekend.

My question for you this week is:


Would you do a newsprint manicure? What do you think of it?

If you read my Friday Fragments post just before this one, you'll know I'm in the middle of doing it, because I love it! So cool. What about the funnies?! That would be... amusing. Heh.

Have a great weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if you're fragmenting with Mrs. 4444 today!

Time flies 

Is anyone else shocked it's May already? For Heaven's sake, our pool will be open in 3 weeks already! I can't believe how fast the time is flying. We are so busy all of the time, it's almost hard to keep up with flipping the calendar pages, I swear. Man. I wish I could clap my hands and stop time temporarily, and just... breathe.


I haven't been here in a few weeks, again, because of our packed schedule. Aside from our usual nutso routines, we've had a billion and one doctors' appointment, and Rob's had an accident that has kept me occupied carting him to those, work, and everywhere else, so... I am off my blog routine again. But! I am here now, and that's what counts, amiriiight?


King neptune

If you've ever thought about visiting my town, Virginia Beach, I just wrote this sponsored blog post about many of my favorite places and things to do here. Check it out if you're interested!

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I love this cute picture of Jack eating wings during a mystery shop a couple of days ago.  With the watch and everything, he looks so grown up! For a nine-year-old shrimp, that is. I've been doing lots of mystery shopping again lately to make some much-needed extra fundage. It's fun, but man, all the reports! Ugh.


I swear, Virginia must be the vanity plate capital of the world. They're so cheap here, after all. Even I have one! I'm going to start taking pictures of the ones that amuse or interest me and posting them as part of my Fragments posts each week (or month, as it were). Can you see this one that I snapped today? It says "RR M8T." Arggghh, Matey! Hee. Do you have vanity plates?


On Wednesday, the kids took part in the coolest thing. We drove up to the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA, to attend a special event: a ham radio chat - which NASA said couldn't be done - with International Space Station Astronaut Donald Pettit! Here, the kids first learned about the early age of exploration, in the times before, during and after Columbus' life, so they could later relate that Age of Exploration to the current Space Exploration.


Then, we migrated over to the closed studio, where we connected with three classes (in New York, Michigan, and Louisiana) and the astronaut in outer space, about 400 km above Earth, over Italy. Selected students were able to ask questions and hear Pettit's answers in real time, and we learned a lot about living aboard the ISS. Did you know it only takes eight minutes to get up there, but two days to transfer into the space station? Wow. I would kill to have that opportunity. Maybe one day they'll take an old fart like me and see what they can do with me. I'll be like the female John Glenn. Anyway, it was really cool, and my kids - especially Jack up there - got a lot out of the experience. Way cool!


I took Rob in for his Neuro follow-up today, after his mini-stroke scares and subsequent finding of a benign brain tumor back in November. I was hoping for a more thorough check-up than the five minute "How are you? Fine? See you in six months" that he got, but I guess no news is good news. He hasn't had any weird things going on like he did six months ago, even after his accident, so I suppose all is well for now. He'll go back in another six months.


Also today, I went in for a my regular dental check-up, fully expecting to have two new cavities. My teeth have been ultra-sensitive lately, especially in two places, so I thought fillings were going to be the order of the day, if not a full root canal or some badness. But the diagnosis was surprising: I grind and clench my jaw and teeth so much that it's causing my gums to recede, and my enamel to wear, which is causing the pain and discomfort. The dentist said he'd be happy to sell me a $600 mouth guard, or I can go pick one up at any drug or sporting goods store for five or ten bucks and try that. Hmm. Tough choice. But yay for no new cavities!


Stay tuned for a post about our train trip up to Richmond last week; we had so much fun in our two short days. I'm so glad MIL suggested it!


Aren't these newsprint nails so cool?! I am totes going to do this as soon as I find where I put the rubbing alcohol. Hopefully that'll work, since Rob drank all the vodka and stuff. Kidding. There's probably not even a beer in this house. I love this manicure, though. Trés cool.


And finally, my 10½-year-old, Chloë, has a "boyfriend," S. Yeah. We've reached that stage. They're mad about each other. I even had to go on a ride with them to make sure they didn't kiss!!! WHAT?! She's TEN, FPS. I'm keeping a tight rein on this one and don't let them hold hands or anything, but S did recently give her a necklace in her favorite color, with hearts on it... oh, my word. I'm not ready for this part!

Chloe 2

Since Chloë had a photo shoot for her acting and modeling "career" recently, my friend Saritah - S's mom - was joking about, "Great, my son is dating a model. That'll go to his head..." but yeah. He is. Hee.

Well, I hope you all have a great weekend, and I'll be back in a bit with my Aloha Friday question & some more updates from our latest travels and adventures. Ciao for now!


Love The Moment in Virginia Beach!


Our family moved here to Virginia Beach, Virginia, just over 10 years ago, when we were at the end of my twin pregnancy. We were shipped over in an emergency evacuation from Guam in order to help save the twins' lives, and I had major reservations. As it's right next to Norfolk, which is a major military town (well, now they all are here, including Virginia Beach) and from which my husband had shipped out on several overseas deployments during his Naval career, he didn't much care for the area before we got here. I was excited about the idea of living back in the States, but having no idea what to expect, it was definitely going to be the beginning of a new adventure for Team Odette.

Virginia Beach has turned out to be a fabulous location for many fun experiences for our family. As my husband nears his retirement from the Navy after 20 years of service next year, and we are debating about where to live, the possibility exists that even after 11 years, this family full of wanderlust may remain right here in this area. That's saying quite a lot, for us!

Now, you can go to the Virginia Beach Visitors and Convention Center site and do lots of looking around - and, hopefully, planning - to see what there is to do in our adopted hometown, but I'd love to share some of the things we have done over the years and some more that - yes! we still have left to do. Obviously, since we arrived with a 17-month-old and have had a few children since then (most of you will know already that only one of our twins survived after birth, so we now have three living children aged 10 and under), this will be pretty kid-centric. Rest assured, if you're sans children, there is still plenty to do - or not do - in this beautiful city, the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Click here to start your exploration!


Obviously, no post about Virginia Beach would be complete without a thorough mention of our miles and miles of beautiful Atlantic oceanfront. With a husband in the Navy, a wife who was a marine biologist pre-marriage, and three water-lovin' babies, the Oceanfront is a big draw for us. The beach is gorgeous, and the water temperatures are comfortable for the traditional swimming months of the year, with manageable waves for the little ones most of the time. (And there are plenty of lifeguards and notifications for hazardous conditions to keep us all safe.) The area boasts a long boardwalk, complete with all the kitschy shops, skyscraping hotels, and local seafood restaurants you would expect to find in a beach town.

No swearing

These "no swearing" signs are a common sight near the beach, in an effort to keep our town family-friendly. I get a big kick out of them!

There's a long pier for fishing and crabbing - unbelievably, we still haven't done that, but it's on this year's "must do" list - and stores aplenty for anything you might have forgotten. If you get tired of the beach (you nut, you!), there are other things to do along the beach and nearby streets, like several miniature golf courses, a small rides-and-games miniature amusement park, and whole-family bike rentals scattered around the coast. If I've left anything off this list that you would want to do, drop me a comment and I'll be sure to let you know whether that's available, too. I know there's a great nightlife scene down there as well, but with three children, it's not a huge priority for us at this stage in the game, so I can't attest to the latest and greatest venues. One fun (and free!) favorite, though: during the warmer months, the city brings in a menagerie of entertainment acts from musicians to comedians to buskers of all kinds and positions them along Atlantic Avenue for everyone's pleasure. Oh, my gosh, I'm thinking of about 57 more fun things about the Oceanfront and could make this entire post about just that, it's so fun-filled. But there is so, sooo much more to this city, that it wouldn't be doing it justice if I didn't move on. And so I shall.


Another favorite area of ours is in the southern portion of the city, Pungo. It's where farmer upon farmer grows u-pick strawberry fields and the home of the annual Strawberry Festival, where the sweet fruit is made into every dessert, drink and concoction you can imagine. There are rides, games, and plenty of other fun things to do during the festival, too, but if you miss it, Pungo boasts a great pizza-and-ice cream joint, aptly named Pungo Pizza, that's a great place to stop when you're hot and tired from grabbing bucketsful of red, juicy berries!

Farmers market

One of my favorite destinations is at the corner of Dam Neck and Princess Anne Roads: the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market. There are plenty of local farmers with booths there, so if you're environmentally conscious and are trying to eat locally-grown, often organic food, this is your go-to place to shop. Virginia Garden is even an all-organic grocery store at the Market, and the owner, Michelle, could not be more helpful and informative if you're newly embarking on your organic journey. Her shop boasts food from Virginia's own Polyface Farms, which you may or may not know as the farm of Joel Salatin, the highly articulate farmer featured in the must-see documentary, Food, Inc. (And that $10 glass jug of apple cider at the store is totally worth it, by the by.) Love seafood? Visit Uncle Chuck's stand - all the fish, shellfish and more is freshly caught and is procured by Uncle Chuck himself. Take it from me - do NOT miss getting a 4-pack or two of his made-by-hand crabcakes. They are absolutely the best, and believe me, I have tried a heckuva lot of them in my 35 years on this planet! (Plus he's just a really awesome guy, so visit him even if you're not a seafood person. I love the dude.) The Farmer's Market has bakeries, butcheries, gardening shops, a sweets shoppe, and even live music on (I think) Friday nights. I love the place and would go every week if I could!


Hunt Club Farm is another one of my family's favorite places to go, especially in October when it's time to pick out one of these big, fat pumpkins for our front porch. If you go then, you'll also be able to visit the petting farm, let the kids loose in a gigantic pile of hay, ride some rides, eat candied apples, shop locally grown produce and gifts and - my personal favorite - take a hayride around the large property. Fall is not the only time to visit, though - my readers will know we've visited the Winter Wonderland in December, which is loads of fun; you can have a birthday party with pony rides and the whole bit, and they're now doing fun Springtime events like Easter egg hunts an' such, too. It's a great place to go!


A post about Virginia Beach would not be complete without mention of the recently (within the past five years or so) made-over Town Center, which is conveniently located just five minutes from our abode. We go there often and even did our 2011 Christmas card pictures at this very fountain! There are, I think literally, a billion different kinds of restaurants, from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to sushi to ice cream parlors and everything in between, nestled among every other kind of shop you can think of. In fact, the only two things in Virginia Beach that we don't have (yet) that I'd like to see are Staples and Whole Foods - but they'll come in time, I know! Anyway... Town Center is fun to walk around, "see and be seen," and get your share of gustatory delights. Don't miss Confetti, an ice cream stop. Trust.



Another fun place to visit for kids from 1 to 101 is the Virginia Aquarium, on General Booth Blvd just south of the Oceanfront area. There is so much to see and do there, you'll need to make a full day of it. They have an IMAX screen, lots of exhibits, a gift shop, and the coolest walking trail between the two sections of the Aquarium. You can go from there on whale- and dolphin-watching boat tours, and that there is another on our yet-to-do list before we leave this fun town!


Right next to the Aquarium is this guy, Hugh Mongous, the giant ape who is the mascot for Ocean Breeze Waterpark. Of course we have a waterpark, right?! It's on the smaller side compared to some other venues we've been to, including Water Country USA located an hour north in Williamsburg, but it has everything you could possibly want to spend a full day in the sun and water: a kiddie area, wave pool, slides a-plenty, and so much to eat. There's an arcade, Dip'n'Dots, candy shop, gift shop, locker and tube rentals, and more. We've gone there many times, and there's still something new to do every year when we go. Don't forget the sunscreen and flip-flops!

Mt trash

Another site we're lucky to have just a few minutes from our home is Mount Trashmore Park, and yes, that's its real name (it was built on a landfill but is completely safe). Mt. Trashmore is just one of many beautiful parks in this city, but it's definitely a favorite of ours. The brandy-new Kids' Cove area, above, is not just a small reason for that. The kids could literally get lost in there for hours while you either chase them around or sit and knit, knowing they'll make it back to you when they're hungry/thirsty/doing the potty dance...! I usually do the former for about five minutes and then give up and do the latter. Anyhoo, besides the Kids' Cove, there is a skate park there, plenty of playground equipment and picnic locations, and a huge "mountain" to run around on, fly kites on, and of course - if you're a kid at heart - roll down when you're finished. My favorite thing to do there is go the annual Independence Day party, which is huge. Huge. Click here for more fun things to do in the Virginia Beach Parks & Rec system, because you'll want to visit other places like Red Wing Park, Woodstock Park, City View Park... and some of our many Rec Centers, as well. I could go on and on!


Are you a history buff? Still on our to-do list while we're here is visit the Francis Land House, above, the Adam Thoroughgood House, and the many other historical sites in town that you can read about here. I can't profess my love for these places just yet, because we still haven't been there! It's high on the priority list, too, though.


Have a thing for lighthouses? Then you'll definitely want to drive north from the Oceanfront and hit up Fort Story. Yes, it's a military base, but you can get onboard to go exploring the fully-accessible new lighthouse, above right, the beach there, and more. I hear tell that there's plenty of dolphin activity down at the waterfront, but I've yet to see that for myself. Mark that down on my to-do list!


And finally, I have to mention Chesapeake Beach, aka "Chick's Beach," a lesser-known, out-of-the-way, but totally cool "locals'" beach in town. The waves are much more mild, and it's far less populated during the summer, so it's perfect for those looking for a quieter, more chill experience at the beach. It's wonderful for kids who don't like to be knocked around by ocean swells, like my two older kiddos. There are some great local restaurants in the area, too, so it's definitely worth checking out.

There is plenty more to this great town, and also it's a wonderful jumping-off point to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Eastern Shore, Colonial Williamsburg, and much more. If we do end up leaving this area, you can be sure we'll be back to visit for more reasons than just the many friends we've made here. Virginia Beach. Love the Moment!

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{I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Virginia Beach blogging program. For more information on how you can participate, click here.}