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Entries from September 2012

Saturday 9: Nobody Knows You...


Link up here if you're playing along this weekend. Sadly, Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing may soon be coming to an end unless someone good takes them over. I thought about it for a split second and then realized, yeah, I have enough to do... so no.

1. When did you last feel down and out?
Wednesday night.  I was way manic and then I plummeted, but I'm doing much better now. Stupid bipolar! Reliably unreliable, my moods.
2. What do you do to feel sexy?
Take a shower, for starters. I use lots of girly, smelly-good stuff when I want to, and from there it depends on where I'm going next and with whom! ;)
3. Do you think people think you are normal?
Oh, God, I hope not!
4. What have you always wanted to do?
Dive the Great Barrier Reef. One day...
5. What do you appreciate the most about your life at this time?
My husband's love and support
6. If you could be somewhere else, where would you be and why?
Living on a boat, traveling the world and homeschooling the kids with the most amazing, real-life multi-cultural experiences. SO want to do that...
7.  Have you ever made a fool of yourself? If yes, spill.
Fairly often. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. I can't think on anything I want to share at the moment. In 7th grade I peed my pants in school. That was humiliating!
8. How often do you feel guilty?
I should've been Jewish... :\
9. Give us an example of what you’ve done when feeling low self-esteem.
I suppose you don't mean all my suicide attempts. Too bad; that's my answer. :(
On that high note, I bid you adieu.

FRESCHETTA® Pizza Team's THE STRENGTH OF 1™ Campaign

Disclosure: I occasionally receive compensation in the form of products for posts. However, the opinions I share are solely my own.


Every ONE of us has the power to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. The makers of Freschetta® pizza are looking for women bloggers to help spread the word about their The Strength of 1™ campaign to help further its mission - to inspire everyone to realize they can make a difference in some way - big or small - in the fight against breast cancer. So here I am.

Now through the end of October, 2012, the makers of Freschetta® pizza are helping to promote breast cancer awareness through their new The Strength of 1™ campaign, which includes sponsoring Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancerin young women, while providing support to high-risk individuals. The mission of this The Strength of 1™ initiative is to inspire everyone to realize they can make a difference in some way in the fight against breast cancer. 

Take The Pledge - Join other women and take the pledge to show you have The Strength of 1™ power within you. You can do so at


So, join the movement in one of many ways, including: share a story about how someone has made a difference; take The Strength of 1™ pledge on Facebook; or help spread the word on Twitter. Women can also support The Strength of 1™ Thunderclap. To do so, visit, click on Explore Thunderclaps, and choose "Cause" in the drop-down menu to find The Strength of 1™ Thunderclap. Click on the "Support with Twitter" or "Support with Facebook" button to help further spread the word about this The Strength of 1™ mission.


As someone who has been personally affected by breast cancer, I thank you for reading and supporting this cause!



Chloë's 11th Birthday


As you may remember, Chloë's birthday falls the day before mine - she was my 25th birthday present. ♥ This year, a few weeks ago, she turned 11 years old! We didn't really have a chance to do anything for her birthday on the actual day, but we did have that huge party in the park the next day (my birthday), and her Beau brought her some presents that he had saved up his allowance for to buy himself. Aw.


Chlo & Beau spent nearly the entirety of the party asking when she could open his presents. I kept putting her off until the end, so I could do the giveaways and things we were there to do, so they were very excited when I announced it was time at last! Note that she is wearing birthday earrings from Grandma, who sent lovely packages as well.




He gave her three Lego Friends sets, which was right on the mark - whenever I let the kids spent some of my free money from Swagbucks or wherever, that's what the girls pick! So she was quite happy, and in turn, Beau was happy. Those two crazy kids!


Another package from Grandma was waiting for her when we got home - the set of seven Narnia books from - wow, two blahg post mentions in a row! - C.S. Lewis. She's deep into the first book now, reading it whenever she gets a spare moment.


Grandma didn't forget the Littles - the earlier package containing birthday goodies for Chloë also held some sticker/activity books, as well as other swag I didn't get pictures of, for there were eleventy-nine hands in the box as I tried!  Thanks, Grandma & Beau!

Now, maybe this weekend, we'll finally get a chance to do some of her birthday freebies that's our annual tradition...


El Bautismo - The Baptism

If you missed it, the pictures from the kids' and my baptism are on this post. By request, here are the details of the big event:

First, I want to say that all four of us have always been Christian. As for me, I was raised as a Christian Scientist, so although I believe I was already baptised, I had never had a water baptism. (CS is not even remotely related to Scientology, by the by.) When I was 21, I read the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which was given to me by my BFF, Dr. Lisa, and I had a major identity crisis and mental breakdown about who I was as a Christian. After a week's respite at my dad's house, I decided to leave Christian Science and become, simply, a non-denominational Christian. I remain so and have wrestled with the decision to get baptised by water and start taking Communion in the 15 years hence.

Then, you may remember, Team Odette went to my friend Saritah's and her kids' water baptism at their church, back in the Spring of this year. It was a powerful moment for us, but speaking for myself, I finally felt the calling of the Holy Spirit filling me, urging me to do the same. And so it was decided. We discussed baptism with the children, who we always believed should come to the decision to be so on their own and therefore did not baptise as babies (save our late son, Robby), and Chloë decided she would be baptised along with me.

Our church, the Vineyard, baptises at the YMCA in the colder months and at the Virginia Beach oceanfront in the warmth of Summer. Naturally, we wanted the bigger impact of the latter, so we waited. We missed each month's baptism until this past Sunday, when finally we were able to go to the class in the morning at church, and have all our questions and concerns answered, before meeting at the beach at 1400.

First, we had a worship session, with a man who brought a guitar, amp, and a nice, if somewhat too quiet over the waves, voice. In all our 9 years of attending the Vineyard, I'd never seen him before, which piqued my interest. Not only that, but he was the doppelgänger of my Ph.D. program lead scientist, Dr. Motta, so I had a hard time keeping my eyes off him throughout the singing. It was just surreal, the likeness. But anyway, I digress.

After worship, we all - 30 or so in number - got into a big circle near the water, and went around with each, um, baptee (?) introducing him- or herself and saying why they wanted to be baptised. I explained what I said above, while the children had different answers, of course. I can't remember exactly what they said, but Chloë said because she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, Jack said I have no clue what because the waves drowned out his little pipsqueak voice (aw), and Sophia said she wanted to be saved from God. I had translated this at church, when we did a similar rendition, as 7yo speak for "saved FROM her sins, BY God," so they didn't question her verbiage at the beach.

At last, it was time to start the water baptisms. They went in order of the sign-in sheet from class, and we were about halfway thru the pages. Finally, it was my turn. The class facilitator and another woman from the Prayer Team prayed over me, that I would receive the Holy Spirit, more stuff I remember but don't feel like typing out (pretty intuitive things if you've been through it, though), and that I was God's Princess. I liked that.

Then, I headed giddily for the water, where the facilitator's husband and Dr. Motta's twin were waiting to dunk me. The waves were high and the current strong, and I got knocked down a few times, needing their help to stand back up, before we got to the actual plunge. The same happened with all three kids nad just about everyone else! I'd never seen such big waves here in Virginia.

At last, after saying a few words themselves, I crossed my arms over my chest and plugged my nose, as we'd been shown, and they leaned me back, let the wave rush over me, and pulled me up. That was it! I was baptised - and thrilled to the gills over it!

Chloë Raine went next. She received her prayer and then, at the last moment, asked her daddy to go with her to help. He gladly went in, jeans and all, to help his baby girl be baptised. He handed me his iPhone, which we'd been using to capture the pictures of the event, but I messed up and didn't get any pictures of her dunking, darn it.

Jack River was up next. He had been the most reluctant Baptee, because of the big waves, but after receiving his prayer, he ran right toward the water happily, without Daddy, even though he had originally begged for Rob and me to take him in! I don't know whether he was called God's Prince; he refused to discuss the matter, as is typical for him.

Sophia Lorelei went last for Team Odette. She received her prayer and tore into the water to get baptised like a gang of kids who've just seen candy spilled from a piñata! Her baptism was a little troubled, as she tumbled and drank water and thought she'd be drowned. After it was over, she ran past me, calling her name, straight up the beach and hid in the sand dunes. I called her back, but she refused to come out. I waited, and when she still wouldn't come, I went up there to coax her out. She was frightened, poor thing, but later on relayed that she was happy she was baptised after all.

We watched the rest of the baptisms - including that of a paraplegic, which was intriguing to many of us as far as the logistics were concerned - and then that was it. As a group, we walked back up the beach to the boardwalk landing, took some group and individual pictures - which will no doubt end up in a future bulletin or PowerPoint presentation at church - and said our good-byes.

And just like that, it was over. It was wonderful, amazing, and powerful an episode in the life of me, and I hope for the children, too. I commented to Rob on the way back to Penelope, "I guess I start taking Communion now, too, huh?" and, I have to admit, I'm nervous about it! I don't know what to do, other than go up, get the stuff, and consume it, but I suppose there's not much more to do than that, eh?

That night, we talked about it at our weekly Family Meeting, and Rob and I congratulated and praised the kids for being baptised and choosing Christ to govern their lives. I need all the prayer I can get, myself, but for them, I will forever and always pray that their relationship with God grows and strengthens, wherever their lives may lead them.


Aloha Friday


Link up here if you've got questions for Kailani & Friends today!

My question for you this week is:

To what kind of music do you like to listen?

As for me, I like all kinds except country and explicit gangsta rap, but I'm especially partial to *whispers shamefully* Top 40 pop music. It's inherently singalong-able, and I love to sing!

You're next!

Have a splendid weekend, folks!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here to share your bitty bits (well, not those bits) with Mrs. 4444 and the gang today!

So I'm in a highly manic state right now, according to my therapist last night. She thinks my (bipolar) meds need tweaking again. Awesome. As if I don't already do that every other month. The thing is, I like being manic; it's highly preferential to being depressed. On the other hand, as she said, I tend to be reckless and not think about the consequences of my actions in this state, and she's right. So I guess I better get things under control, such as it is with this %^&*( illness. Le sigh.

I can't believe it's already Friday. I had planned on having the most productive week, schoolwise, with the kids, but we have accomplished precious little so far. Hopefully today, we'll kick it into high gear and make up for some lost time! The weeks and months are flying by for school, already, and I'm behind. 'Course, I've overloaded our schedule intentionally, but still... It'd be nice to be caught up on ONE kid in ONE subject.

Speaking of homeschooling, I've been reading Tom Sawyer to the kids before bed most nights, as it's on Chloë's reading list and I wanted the young'uns to be involved, too. I put a lot of effort into both adding histrionics and comedy into my reading, as well as lengthy discussions with the kids as the need (continually) arises. They are absolutely LOVING the book, as am I (for the nth time). It's often the bright spot in our days, and it's good, quality time together. No matter how old the kids get, reading aloud together is such a joy.

If you missed it, scroll back a post or two to see my Wordless Wednesday pictures - but not for another coupla hours, as I'm going to add in captions and descriptions, as requested by several of my more habitual readers. In short, the kids and I were baptized in the ocean on Sunday, and it was such an amazing experience, I'd love to share with more of you!

Last night sucked bullocks. After therapy, I drove two hours up Virginia's Eastern Shore to do a mystery shop, and the place was out of business for the night when I got there, though they shouldn't have been. And I'm not going to get reimbursed for the travel expenses, therefore. ARGH! Not only that, but I hadn't slept the night before, and so, driving home, I had to pull into a gas station to take a nap. Welp, I left the lights on, and of course my battery died. When I finally awoke, hours later, it took a heap of trouble to get jump-started, and Rob was super late for work because of it. Epic FAIL!

Jack's stuff

Jack's Cub Scout pack meeting was tonight, and he received his Webelos I garb, his whittling chip, and a raffle prize (a car to build, for which he traded a boat to build)! So exciting. He's also in third place for popcorn sales amongst Webelos, and will soon get some rewards from attending camp activities with his dad this past summer, too. We have a great team of parent volunteers running the pack this year, so it's shaping up to be a great one for Jack and the other boys!

Chloë got her retainer the other day for having her braces removed, and she's been complaining about it ever since. I remember those days... I had braces twice, and I need them a third time! One day...

A few vanity plates spotted around town this week:


ANGEL BABY - self-described, or s/he has one, like us? I wonder...


Those of you from my home state will instantly recognize this as, "LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK!" Woot!


"GOTTA LOVE 'EM!" Who, those Lawnguylanders? Yeah, I agree.

Those are all the bits to which I have to expose you at the moment. I'll see y'all 'round these parts next week, I hope!


Me And My Mini-Me


The girls and me posing for a 'girls only' pic, during Jack's piano lesson Tuesday - Chloë is SO her father, and Sophia is SO her mother!


All month, I've been calling this one employee of the music store where they take their lessons "Dave Chappelle," because he looks a bit like him and has a similarly comedic character. He's been trying to come up with a nickname for me since then. When I came in like this today, he snapped his fingers and pointed at me: "Punky Brewster!" And so, I've been anointed.

(And no, that is not a cassette tape; it's my iPhone cover at the moment! Generates lots of conversation, it does.)


I'll have to find a kidoodle picture of me and post a side-by-side with Sophia - you may be blown away when you see the striking similarities!


Wordless Wednesday: Our Baptism!


Link up here if you're wordless - or not - today!


I was almost done with this post, all written up with lots of captioning, when my IE browser crashed. ZOMG, I hate when that happens!! So I'm just going to do the photos here, and if you'd like to hear the actual details behind them, leave me a comment here, or email me, whatevs, saying so. I'll write up a separate post if there's interest.}














What a great day for Team Odette!!!

Thanks for stopping by... ☺


Sunday Stealing: The Sparkling Beach Meme, Part The First

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Sunday Stealing: The Sparkling Beach Meme, Part 1

1. Ever been given or received an engagement ring?
I've been asked about five times, and gotten two rings. I'm keeping the one I have on for the long haul, though.

2. Longest relationship?
Our 12th anniversary is right after the New Year.

3. Last gift you received?

Read my last post - a mowed lawn. Mine. ;)

4. Ever dropped a mobile phone?
In all fairness, I think everyone has. 

5. Last time you worked out?

I bathe frequently, isn't that enough for you?

6. Thing(s) you spend a lot of money on?

Bills. :\

7. Last food you ate?

A chicken noodle Hormel Compleats meal, because Sophia opened it and then refused to eat it, and I wasn't about to let our meagre supply of food go to waste.

8. First thing you notice about the opposite sex?

Which way they dress o_0

9. One favorite song?
"Kiss" by Prince, although I'm loving the Maroon 5 version of it, too. 

10. Where do you live?

In the 'hood, now'days.

11. High school attended:


12. Cell phone provider:

A-double-T. Full circle.

13. Favorite shop:
One that sells yarn, to the exclusion of everything but those things which have to do with yarn. 

{I interrupt this blahg to say how dreadfully annoying it is to try and format these posts lately. It's stupid Typepad's fault, not mine. ARGGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG.}

14. Longest job:

15. Do you own a smart phone? Why?

Yes. It's an iPhone thing; own one and you'll understand.

16. Do you prank call people?

No. What am I, 12? Wait, yes, sometimes I do.

17. Last wedding you attended?

Gosh. It's been ages since I've been to a wedding. I think it would still have to be 2002, when my BFF married a slew of Arabic people. Well, or so it would seem.

18. First friend you'd call if you won the lottery:

Probably Dr. Lisa, the afore-mentioned BFF.

19. Last time you saw your best friend(s)?

I haven't seen Dr. Lisa for a couple years now. :(

20. Favorite fast food restaurant:

Unless you count Primos Pizzeria in Virginia Beach, no fast food restaurant ranks on my list of favourites.

I hope y'all have a swell week, and join me for the next post!


Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride

I was up late, well, early, to the tune of 0530 this morning, working on my Jafra business for some client meetings and parties I have coming up in the next few weeks, so I fell into bed exhausted just before the sun rose this morning. I slept fitfully for about two hours, tried to get more zzzzzs, and failed, so I gave up and arose to greet the day. Having done my CVS deals, I decided to head out and do the Rite Aid deal shopping that I'd worked on much earlier in the week, so that time wouldn't go to waste.

Okay. There's your backstory.

I walked out the front door to my waiting Penelope, and a man across the street shouted something at me. Cars were going by, so I shouted back, "Me?" and pointed to myself. He shouted again. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I returned. After a third failure, he started across the street to meet me. I put my things in the van and then turned around to see what was the matter.

"I cut your lawn yesterday," he told me.

Looking around, I noticed our once shin-high grass was now well within city regulations. "Thank you!"

"Yeah. My man here, your neighbor," he said, gesturing next door, "used to cut it." I nodded. "Well, he's in jail now, and I noticed your grass was getting high, so I cut mine and then came over and did yours, too."

{Aside: the jailed neighbor is the one I suspect of stealing mi precioso Nikon DSLR, so I'm not exactly stunned by this news.}

"Thank you!" I again exclaimed, beaming at him. "How much do I owe you?"

The gent, about 65 years old, said, "You don't owe me anything, baby, just keep wearing that pretty smile on your face."

I thanked him profusely, and he left. And you can bet I smiled all the way to Rite Aid.


At Rite Aid, things were so up and down, I felt like Otis. (Please, somebody, get that reference!) Half my deals were out of stock, and then, they changed the rewards system around so drastically, I couldn't get the other half as I'd so carefully planned them. I left with only a third of the items I intended to buy. You can bet I'm going to put in a call to corporate to complain about the changes, but I'm still wearing that "pretty smile!"

Have a great day, folks. Remember, there are still good people in the world.


Saturday 9: Papa Was A Rolling Stone


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

1. What’s the best memory that you have of your dad, while growing up?

He was and is silly. He made up words that I still use with my own kids, and he would run around and do all sorts of shenanigans with us girls. In our house in Central New York, I remember one time when we were 6 & 7 or so, and he took my sister's favorite stuffed animal and ran around and around the house with it, with her chasing him to get it back, while I shrieked with laughter the whole time. It's the little things.

2. How boring do you think your life is?

I don't, not one bit. Boredom is for boring people, and I am most certainly not one of those!

3. Can you do any accents? If not, do you know someone who is good at it?

Both Sophia (my 7yo) and I pick up accents very easily. Since, when I lived in Miami at least, I was fluent in Spanish (he perdido mucho de la buen fluencia) and have brown hair and eyes, the Latinos would come up to me speaking Spanish and not bat an eye when I replied. When they found out I was a gringa and not Cuban, it shocked the shit out of many of them!

4. What technology did you at first fear that you now could not live without?

Cell phones. When they first came out, I may have regarded them out loud a time or 20 as "the debbul's spawn." Oh, how high and mighty I was about never getting one! Now I don't know what I would DO without my iPhone!

5. Do you, or have you ever, thought you have a book in you?

I have a very clear, well-planned out book in me. Four, actually. Whether they'll ever actually get written is another, um, story. Pardon the pun.

6. Does the weather affect where you live?

Absolument. I cannot live where it's cold. My senior year in high school, it got down to 53º-below in Syracuse!! That clinched my decision to go to Miami for college and never live where it was cold again. And forget that white crap - ugh!! It's warm weather by the beach for life, for me.

7. Are you more interested in you favorite artist’s next work, or the TMZ side of it all?

I mean, I like my People magazine and all, and I'll glance at the Star or Enquirer in the check-out lane, but I don't truly care about the stars' private lives - true or not. Their body of work says much more about them, IMHO.

8. Have you ever felt “battled-scarred” by a relationship or relationships in general? If yes, do tell.

Oh, honey. How much time do you have? I've been much more emotionally whipped by the ones I've truly loved, and physically by the ones I didn't. My ex-fiancé, JackAss, broke my two front teeth during our last fight, by shoving me face-first into my bookshelf. I kicked him out and broke up with him on the spot. I didn't love him at all, honestly. Rob - Hubs to many of you - would never do anything physical to me in a million years, but let's just say... I understand why some women stay with the men who hit them, if they truly love them. If that had been him, I'd be hard-pressed to leave.

9. Do you tend to root for the bad guy?

Underdog, sure. Bad guy? No. I always hope the good guy wins in the end. I am an idealist, after all. Now pass me my rose-coloured glasses.


A Day (And A Half) In The Life...


It was Road Trip time again for the four youngest members of Team Odette this past weekend. Rob couldn't go, because he had duty and had to stand watch. Suck. I was hoping he'd be able to join, but alack and alas, no such luck this time.  I'm going to present the 36 hours in chronological, timeline format, which I hope is interesting and not dreadfully dull. If it is, be sure and tell me, and I'll go weep in the corner with self-pity. Um, yeah. So away we go!


1230: The children and I set off from our home in Portsmouth, VA, to points northward. Washington, D.C., to be specific. The trip should've taken 3-3½ hours, but ends up taking a little longer because of some heavy duty weekend traffic out of Hampton Roads.

1630: We arrive in downtown D.C. Because I've been chugging beverages all along the route, and despite a rest stop, my enormous bladder is full to burstin'. I finally find somewhere to park and then realize I have zippo change for the bloody meter, which doesn't take the $1 coins I received for change from my $20 bill at the rest stop vending machine. Arghhh!


1630-1700: We race around, finding plenty of signs like the above, first to get change for the meter (18 minutes' worth for a buck, ugh) and then find a place to make weewee. Nowhere. Nowhere to GO! Finally, at last, and por fin, I found a restaurant that would allow us to use the facilities. How do you spell relief?!


Relief. Get it?!!

1700: I now have exactly one hour left to complete the mystery shop I'm there to do, which necessarily has to take a full hour. I'm cutting it short on time. It takes me five minutes to find a parking space in the zone of my shop, which I'll explain more about later, and it is a pay-by-app or -phone spot. The app won't download - no signal in D.C.? Really?! - so I call the number. I have to give my license plate info first: CARE PKG. I spell it once, twice, thrice, and the system hangs up on me after successive failures. Repeat once more. The third time, I get smart and spell it phonetically: Charlie Alpha Romeo Echo Papa Kilo Golf. Success! But then... after setting up my credit card number and getting an account established, I input the parking meter number, and the system tells me that I cannot park there after 4:00 PM on weekdays. Then,

LOTS of them.

1725: I call my scheduler, give him the lowdown on the sitchy-ation, and ask if I can come back to do the evaluation on the 'morrow. He shuffles around some assignments, 'cause it matters whether it's done on the weekend or a weekday, and gives me the green light. Whew. We head out of the District, north to Maryland.


1820: We make it to the hotel where I'm doing a mystery shop that night, check in, throw our stuff in our room, and head back out to go do yet another mystery shop.


1955: After stopping at McD's to grab the kids some dinner and getting lost a few times, we arrive due west for our next mission: three games of laser tag! The kids are overjoyed; I've surprised them with this gig. They LOVE laser tag, having played it for shops twice before, and are now downright giddy. I have another surprise in store for them, too:


My old college pal Play-Doh, from our joint alma mater,


works nearby and met us there to play, too! The kids LOVE Play-Doh, and now they were brimming with the energy of crazed children that only comes out when the excitement is extreme. You parents know what I'm talkin' 'bout! They were all over him, jumping on him, climbing on him, etc., in a heartbeat, and I could barely get in a hug. The five of us had a blast playing laser tag (I kicked PD's arse 2 out of 3 times, woot), arcade games, snacking, and hanging out, until my shop was complete.

2215: We parted ways with PD and headed back East to the hotel. I got lost again a few more times. Dang, I miss Sue, my GPS! I had my iPhone GPS, but it just ain't the same.


2330: Tired - nay, exhausted - and gross from the long day in the car and games, I quickly do what I need to for the shop that night, before plopping the kids in front of the tube (because they're waaaay too wound up to sleep at this point), while I go soak in the tub. Ahhh.


0015: I'm still working on getting my as-yet-hyper babes to sleep, while trying to get some work done on the laptop. I'm unsuccessful at both, so I give up trying. All the lights get turned out, I set my alarm, and crash. I assume the kids do, too.


0830: I wake up just in time to go have breakfast before they shut it down, then head back to the room and crash some more. I'm soooo tired still.


1200: The kids and I finally rouse ourselves, an hour past check-out time. I've totally slept through my alarm and wake-up call. Whoops! We take 15 minutes and race around the room, getting dressed, packing up, and movin' on out. I go check out at the front desk, where I obviously don't look as shabby as I think I do, because the clerk is practically undressing me with his eyes. He's cute, so I let him. Ha.


1340: We arrive back in the zone of my evaluation of the streets of D.C. and park. I can't really tell you too much about it, other than that I'm basically mystery shopping the city itself. Yes, I'm that badass. I kid, I kid. We walk around my assign streets, doing what I need to be doing, and the kids all develop blisters as we go. The streets are clean enough, so I let them go barefoot. In downtown Washington, D.C. In the summer. On hot sidewalk granite. I'm an excellent mother. :\  We come across this little pond, an oasis in the desert city, and they look longingly at it. I look around, see no one in authority to stop us, and quickly let them dip their feet in the pondlet. They gab on and on about how good it feels. On we march, to finish the job.


When we come back across the Washington Monument, which the kids easily recognize in such a monument-filled ciudad, the kids insist on having their picture taken in front. Note that I'm still camera-less, save my iPhone, so quality is less than awesome.


1520: I finish my assignment, and we get back to the vicinity of the car park where Penelope is waiting. I know Play-Doh is busy studying in Georgetown for a major upcoming exam, so I call him up and offer to bring him some lunch for a study break. He happily accepts.


1610: After getting lost a few more times (!!!), we finally find la escuela where PD is studying. Immediately, the kids jump out of the car and begin climbing all over him again. PD is child-free, so far, so I offer him a few of my own. He laughingly declines. I try to get a decent picture of the kids and Play-Doh and end up with this lovely work of art:


Gee, thanks for putting the sammich down for 30 seconds, Jack! Sheesh!!

A little more chit-chat, a few more hugs, and PD is off to get back to studying.


1630: We head back out of the District, back into Virginia, for our next destination in Williamsburg, for another surprise mystery shopping assignment for the kids.


1845: We arrive at our destination at last, to the kids' total excitement. They are having way too much fun on this trip! We head in and go look at a bunch of weird, wild and wacky shiznat.


Like, this maneless, albino male lion, which the kids insist over my protests is a tiger...


... and this two-headed calf, which Sophia obviously thinks is wicked crazy.


I let them play the target-shootin' game, and it turns out that Jack is quite the ace with a BB gun! The girls each get a shot or two in, but Jack manages about ten! Nice. Maybe he'll grow up to be an expert marksman like his daddy is.


Sophia was busy looking at this slow-fast-slow-fast motion demo, when Chloë hollered at her to come try the laser obstacle course room. Oh, and we went through this groovy tunnel on a bridge, made with an optical illusion effect so you think you're spinning around and going upside-down instead of just walking straight through it. I loved it; meanwhile, it made all three children CRY. Yes, cry. Group hug time.


Feeling badly, I let the kids do the claw machine, which we all know never works. You never win these things. Ever. But guess what?! On the first time, Jack and I tag-teamed that bad boy and won these kids a one-eyed stuffed puppy they named Ripley. Woot!


Before we leave to go next door and watch the 4D movie, I insist we all get in the photo booth for a group sesh. Here's the result. We so crazeh!

2020: Finally, we're done with our shops and are ready to head home. I text Rob and tell him that we'll see him in about an hour. Ha. HA! I say.


1159: Over 3½ hours later, because the main Interstate (64) from the Peninsula down to the Southside of Hampton Roads is closed for the weekend at the same time as another alternate route in what can only be described as the most brilliant fecking move EVER, leaving the entirety of Hampton Roads to bottleneck through the last remaining resort, we get home. That, up there, is a full bladder. All of us had one, though mine had to have been about 90x that size, I swear. I barely made it!

That brings us to the end of our journey. But one more thing. You may have read a recent Friday Fragments post in which I challenged you, my readers, to play me on Words With Friends? Well, one such soul decided to take me up on that, and I spent the weekend being positively TROUNCED by such individual. My pride is wounded. I rarely get beaten, and never so badly, so I have a message for you, KO:


Imma gonna getcha! May take me 100 games, but when I do, well... Imma put a hurtin' on ya! ;)

Have a great week, pals!


Saturday 9: Lemon Life Redeux

All right, admittedly, I'm procrastinating on my reports, but since I copped out on this meme yesterday, and am now home and off my stupid ^&*( laptop, I'm gonna do it fo' realz.

1. When was the last time that you asked for your money back?
Does borrowing the allowance money I had just given the kids count? If so, last week. :P
2. What was the last thing that you did to help someone?
I held the door open for someone at the store. It's a small thing, but I do it every time, no matter how full my hands are and no matter who the other person is.
3. At what point of your life do you think you started to understand who you are?
I'm very self-analytical. I'd say somewhere in the middle school/junior high range, quizas.
4. Are there times when you thought you had taken a fall, only to discover more about yourself?
Sure. Like, daily. I feck up all the time, and once in a while, I have a beautiful epiphany.
5. What was the last thing you did where you could not believe in what you were doing?
I plead the fifth. Cop-out! There are some things about which even The Queen of TMI won't blahg, after all.
6. Do you think that you must struggle to become strong?
Hm. That's a really deep question. I will have to say that it probably helps develop strength of character, but not everyone benefits from it. Some stay weak; some never learn.
7. Do you feel that your dreams have meaning or are entirely random?
Of course they have meaning. Maybe not every. single. one., but for the most part, I believe there's something to them.
8. What was the last promise you broke?
Hm... I try not to do that. Really! I probably broke a Commandment or two whatever it was, though.
9. Do you collect anything?
I've collected this damn question a few times. I collect: Shot glasses & magnets from places I've visited, books for the kidoodles, stamps for my late gran'pappy (I still haven't stopped... it's weird), gourmet yarns, and notches on my bedstand. Ha!
Now go do something productive other than reading this foolish drivel.
Ciao, mis amores.



Sunday Stealing: The 88 Meme, Parte Final

If you're one of the cool kids on the block, you'll link up here here to play along with us thieves. Cheers!

69. Song you're thinking of right now?
Well, Train's "Hey Soul Sister" is on my radio right now, so that's kind of the salient musical thought at the mome.

70. Want someone back in your life?
Yeah, but it won't happen in this lifetime.

71. Will tomorrow be better than today?
I doubt it. Today was pretty rad.

72. What's the color of the underwear you are wearing?
They're purple, with lavender, blue and white stars. They're cute, but like most of my pantaloons, they're too big. :P

73. Who was the first best friend that you ever had?
Victoria Dixon, in Monroe, NY. I thought she was the most beautiful, ethereal creature I'd ever laid eyes on.

74. How do you react when someone disappoints you?
It depends on the situation, but I'll admit, I'm a crier!

75. Is there anyone who understands your sexuality?
Why yes, indeed there is. And it ain't Mitt Romney. Whatever that means. ;)

76. Are you a naturally happy person? Or is your happiness forced?
I'm a naturally exuberant person, but I do get my feelings hurt altogether too easily. Whatever the emotion, I invest myself in it whole-heartedly.

77. Is there anyone you wish would fall in love with you?
Why yes, indeed there is. And it ain't Mitt Romney. Whatever that means. ;)

78. What do you wear when you sleep?
It varies. Last night, I wore nothing. Imagine that, Mitt Romney.

79. Are you obsessed with something right now?
Mitt Romney, it would appear.

80. The first person you loved is?
Me maw. ♥

81. Something terrible happened with you?
It did? When? I have a long list, but what do you know that I don't?

82. You are locked up with your celebrity crush for days, what happens?
Oh, Matt Damon wouldn't stand a chance against my feminine wiles. Smouldering eyes, what?

83. If you could wish something, what would it be?
That Mitt Romney would call me and talk about whatever pops up.

84. Ever try to force someone to do something?
Probably, I mean, I am a mother of reluctant chore-doers, after all.

85. When you are alone, what do you think about?
You think I only have one consistent thought? Geez, it varies even from second to second.  Lately, though, I have sex on the brain. It's libido time, yeah, baby!

86. How was your first sex?
It was pretty great. Jembaman and I lost our virginity together at 15. (TMI? Too bad!) When he left later, he kissed me and said, "Tonight was special." He was right.

87. What's your favorite music genre?
I cannot tell a lie, whether it reveals how lame I am or not: I'm a huge fan of Pop Music aka Top 40. I hang my head in shame.

88. Are you happy I only wrote 88 questions?
A. I'm pretty sure a few were missing, and B. No. I wanted more to say. Guess I'll have to write an actual blahg post that's not a meme. I'll get right on that ... after I do the five mystery shop reports from the last 36 hours!
Until next time, mon frers.

Bzz, Bzzzzz: UNREAL™ candy UNJUNKED™

Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free package of UNREAL™ candy, along with several Buy-One-Get-One pass-along coupons in exchange for sharing my thoughts on the product with anyone I felt like, so here I am. No monetary exchange has taken place. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

If a picture says a thousand words,... well, okay, this one actually DOES say a few, but they kind of make you sit up and take notice, right? I mean, CANDY? With nothing artificial and no corn syrup or hydrogenated oils? Either I've gotta be joking, or it must taste, well, like crap, right?


Check out their website, where you can learn all sort of interesting information about UNREAL™ candy unjunked™, like, well, I'll let you read their story and the FAQ, if you want (you should!), but we all know what you're most interested in finding out, don't we?


Dudes. Let me take you through each of the five varieties of unjunked candy currently on the market, and let you decide:

#1: UNREAL8™ Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar UNJUNKED™


(Oh. I should say that I totally used two of those BOGO coupons so I could buy all five varieties, which worked out perfectly for us, a family of five, to each try one kind.)


We let Daddy go first, because it was his birthday week. Here he is Vanna White-ing his selection of candy #1.  We all watched with anticipation as he opened the wrapper, took a bite, chewed, and ... gosh, he ate some, ya dig it? So what did he think of it?


Woohoo! He likes it, he really likes it! Which, you may not realize, is actually saying a lot, since he's kind of a food snob and tends toward a rather sophisticated palate. Score one big one for UNJUNKED™!

#2: UNREAL77™ Peanut Butter Cups UNJUNKED™


Now comes the real test, folks. I mean, who hasn't had a billion peanut butter cups already, and has an opinion formed about how they should taste?


As the oldest kid, we let Chloë go second, and of course she went straight for the PB cups. She's her mother's girl, after all. She dove in much faster than her father, thank goodness. (He likes to keep us in suspense.)


She didn't even finish her first bite before flashing me the two-thumbs-up signal. I'd say that's a pretty good argument for extreme deliciosity.

#3: UNREAL41™ Candy Coated Chocolates UNJUNKED™


I know what these are. You know what these are. Everybody loves the "real deal," so how does this version stack up?


Don't ask me why Jack got bypassed and Sophia, our youngest, got to go next. I'm sure there was a good reason, but heaven help me if I can remember now what it was! ANYway, she chose the, uh, candy-coated chocolates, being quite the fan of the "regular" sort, so what did she think of these?


Two more thumbs up. UNJUNKED™ is three for three! Not too shabby, eh? And people, we like to eat, okay? If something was yucky, I'd tell ya. So far, though, not yuck. Yum.

#4: UNREAL54™ Candy Coated Chocolates With Peanuts UNJUNKED™


Second verse, same as the first (because "fourth verse, same as the third" just doesn't quite have the same ring to it), except with peanuts this time. We all know and love this guy, too. 'Least I do. But it still wasn't my turn.


Jack got to pick the peanut, um-um-um's ;) and he took the task seriously. Very. See:


What the heck?! Two more very enthusiastic thumbs up? What is going on here? Mind you, I'm sitting behind the camera the whole time, patiently (cough) waiting for my turn, expecting at least one of these dern things to, well, suck! But thumbs were popping up all over the place, and I was quite the surprised one!

So now me, at last. Guys, I am a chocolate FIEND. An aficionado. A huge lovah, if you will. So what did I think of...

#5: UNREAL5™ Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar UNJUNKED™


Darn. Nougat. I got stuck with the nougat one. I'll say I generally don't like nougat, because I don't know what the heck nougat is. Do you? I mean, c'mon, really, you can't find nougat in anything but certain candy bars that I don't like. So I was totes expecting to be the lone hold-out on the candy-train of love we had goin' on here.


At least I looked kinda cute holding my (ick) nougat (ick) bar. Time for a taste. My answer to the camera finally pointed my way?


SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I pulled a Chloë and shot those thumbs up before I even finished chewing and swallowing my first bite! For real, this stuff is GOOD.

So, I have a confession to make: I didn't share ANY of the pass-along BOGO coupons. No, I sure didn't. I went back to the store and used 'em a couple days later, and we had some more UNREAL™ candy. PIGS, we were. ARE, because if I had more of those coupons, I'd use those, too.

So, to recap this rather lengthy post about better-for-you treats, here's what there is:


... and here's what the five members of Team Odette thought of them:

UNJUNK Blog (2)

So what about you? Have you UNJUNKED™ your candy yet? Will you try UNREAL™ candy now that I've told you how freakin' good it is? If you do, let me know, and which ones, 'cause I'm nosy like that. No, really, I want to know if you like it, too, or if we're a bunch of weird healthy-candy-lovin' mutants. 'Kay?

Thanks to BzzAgent and UNREAL™ candy for the yummy yum yums!


Product Review & Party: Bobble Bots Moshi Monsters

Disclaimer: We were provided with a huge party pack from MommyParties and Bobble Bots in order to have a giveaway party with our friends and write this review. No monetary compensation took place. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.


A long, long time ago (like, six months ago, no lie), we were sent this really awesome party pack from the sponsors mentioned above, but because of circumstances beyond our control, we weren't able to have the party until my birthday cook-out this past weekend. Better late than never, right?! And LOOK at everything we received: Four playsets worth $19.99 each (the Bizarre Bazaar Store, Gross-ery Store, Ice Scream Store, and Yukea Store), two Starter Sets worth $9.99 each (I'm not sure which two, honestly!), TEN individual Moshlings worth $5.99 each, and three spare packages of batteries for the Moshlings, which we didn't actually need AT the party and divvied up amongst the four families in attendance. WOW!! What a great pack.

(And yes, the awesomeness of said pack made me feel guilty for taking SO long to have the party! But I digress...)


Before long, our guests arrived, and it was time to start the Moshi Monster Bobble Bots battle for global domination!!! Er, um, I mean, split the kiddos into two teams and let them quite literally "go to town," setting up their designated Monstro Cities and be the first team to get all their Moshlings to go into both Stores. It was quite a scramble for victory, amidst cries of, "I need help opening this!" and "I want this one! I want that one!" Yup, we let 'em duke it out, just like that.

Moshi Monsters BobbleBots

(Click collage to embiggerate.)

There was a great deal of running around, clamoring for parental attention to small pieces and parts that needed help being separated from their packaging, but it was fun times for all involved. NO TEARS, thankfully, as every family ended up getting a piece of the party to take home for later. But first, who won?!


Team A got their Monstro City set up and their Moshlings vibrating and bopping around from store to store, claiming victory about 20 minutes or so into the game. But wait! ...


.... At the same second, Team B declared their own victory over Moshi-land! Well, it was a good thing the prizes were the playthings themselves and dinner was ready at that moment, because I had to declare it a tie. And what kid likes a tie? None I've met. Hee. NO TEARS, people, that's the important thing to remember. They really, really liked the Moshi Monsters party, I say in my best Sally-Field-wins-an-Oscar voice!

But guess what else?! That's not the end! Oh, nooo...


There's a whole Moshi World online, here, where the Moshlings can be "adopted" and played with in educational games and activities, much like Webkinz World, for those of you familiar with that site. And, of course, it's FREE!

Here's what a couple of the parents had to say about Bobble Bots:

Saritah: "Moshi Monsters Bobble Bots were a lot of fun. The kiddos really enjoyed reconfiguring the setup with the litle decorations and having their moshlings run all over them. We had never heard of them before, but now my kids are all talking about who is going to collect more moshlings!"

Gotcha: "My three year old loves his Moshi Monster Bots.  We created an online account and he enjoyed choosing his monster and setting up its home. The games so far are too hard for him, but it gives us time to spend together and he enjoys tickling his monster. He has played nicely at the table with his Battle Bots Gross-ery store many times over the last couple days and is really enthralled with them. As expected the batteries have already started to fail from the heavy use, so we are grateful for the spares! 

"I did look for more Battle Bots at the store but only found collectible figurines of the Moshis which he did not seem as interested in, he likes the vibrating/running around aspect of the Battle Bots."

Alodeuri: "The kids enjoyed the Moshi Bots, they are a tad noisy and the small pieces have to be monitored because of the baby, but they did enjoy them. They mostly just focused on the little bots and not the town part. They have been playing with them."

As for me and mine, we haven't had a chance to set them up either in person or online yet, because we homeschool and have been busy with that (though all three of the other families do as well, so go, you guys!), but we definitely will! I'll be looking for more Moshlings in store and/or online as well, because I know they really enjoyed playing with them at our party!

Moshlings and their playsets can be found at Target, Toys 'R Us, online, and other fun retailers, so let me know if you check 'em out and what fun you've had, too!

Thanks, MommyParties & Bobble Bots for the fun Moshi Monsters party!! We're sorry it took us so long - forgive us?


Product Review: "What's In The Bible DVD"

I was selected for participation in this review and given the What's in the bible DVD as a member of The Homeschool Lounge Review Team. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



A little while back, we were given this DVD: Volume 1: In The Beginning / Genesis from the "What's in the Bible" series to review. It's taken us a while to watch the DVD because our machine broke, and then the laptop wouldn't read the disk properly. Argh! We finally had a chance to view the 60-minute DVD Monday night, after I figured out how to get it to play in the afore-mentioned laptop. At last!!


You may or may not be able to read that top-right corner, but it tells us that this series is from Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales®, of which we are huge fans! Indeed, I recognized several voices from VT, so it was a little bit of familiarity embedded in something novel for us.

All three kids sat transfixed throughout the hour-long, two-part DVD, and they erupted into giggles many times in that time. Volume 1 covers the structure and purpose of "the world's most important book," along with who wrote it. Covered topics include Adam & Eve and Noah and the Great Flood, amongst others. A bonus short section,"Quacky's Questions," answers "What is kindness?" My children watched the entire DVD, and then we discussed it.

Jack, my 9-year-old son, was exhausted by the time it was over, so he (as is typical for him) claimed not to have enjoyed it or learned anything from it (though I know he did both) and went straight to bed when it was over. Well! That left the girls.

Sophia, seven, told me she learned that it's important to always try to be good and obey her mom and dad, and God, and not be bad. She learned what sins were, and she learned about Noah and the flood. She said she was glad that God promised not to flood the entire Earth again, and she also learned that God separated people and gave them different languages to speak so there would be less sinning in the world. (Hey, I'm just telling you what my baby said; take what you will from it.)

When asked if she learned anything additional, Chloë, 11, told me that she learned that the Bible is the most important book in the world. We've talked previously - earlier in the same day, even - about respecting The Good Book and not losing or mistreating it (or any other books, but especially this one), so it didn't surprise me that she had this to say.

Both of my daughters said they loved the DVD and thought it was really funny, especially when the characters spoke in silly voices. They were surprised to learn that we get to keep the DVD instead of "renting it back," as they say, and also that it was given to me for us to review. Chloë said, "I thought you bought it for us as a fun surprise! Can we get more of them?"


Indeed,  I think it's possible this will make a great set for Christmas, and I know they - and the like-minded amongst you out there - will be thrilled to receive it!

If you visit the site, you'll see there are some great **free** resources and activities to go along with the series, including coloring pages, Bible flashcards, a Study Guide, and more!  Let me know if you end up getting the set or any parts of it, and what you think, too!

Thanks to The Homeschool Lounge review team and the series for providing us with this excellent jumping-off point for discussing all things Biblical!


Product Review: McCormick Grill Mates® Grill Ambassadors Party!

Disclosure: I was provided a kit containing various McCormick Grill Mates® products, an apron, and recipe booklet from the brand and CrowdTap in order to hold a fun tasting party with my friends. No monetary exchange took place. All opinions are and will always be my own.


Check out all this yumminess we received! BBQ Sauce, Marinade, a Rub, and two bottles of Seasoning. Awesomesauce - literally!


As the more experienced Man of the Charcoals, I gave Rob the title of Grillmaster for our party on Saturday evening. He worked really hard making sure that our chicken, pork, and steak were perfectly marinated and/or seasoned, properly cooked, and entirely devoured by our hungry guests. Thanks, Hubs! ♥


Before the party, Hubs had marinated all of the chicken in the Spiced Brandy & Herb Marinade from McCormick GrillMates. I think the chicken was the biggest hit amongst all of us; EVERYbody enjoyed it, and many went back for seconds. Some of my friends had this to say:

Saritah: "The chicken with the spiced brandy and herb marinade was fantastic! So flavorful! My (1 year old) daughter and I gobbled it up! I can't wait to make it at home for my family!"

Alodeuri: "The chicken marinade was religious [sic?], will definitely be purchasing that and preparing for dinner in our house.  It was tangy and had a kick to it without being too spicy or salty."

Gotcha: "The chicken with Spiced Brandy & Herb marinade was delicious.  It was very moist and tender. I will definitely be trying that out for our next barbeque!"

And you can bet that Team Odette, too, will be snatching this up again for future meals - it was sooo delish!


The steaks and pork chops were each given the royal treatment, all being prepared, respectively, with the Brown Sugar Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Memphis Pit BBQ Rub, and the Montreal Steak & Molasses Bacon Seasonings. (You can find the full line of Grill Mates® products here.) This produced mixed results amongst our guests, but some of the feedback I received was:

(**Saritah pretty much stuck to the chicken, she loved it so much!)

Alodeuri: "The bbq sauce was perfect for grilled meats and was savory and left you wanting to put it on everything.  Delish!"

Gotcha: "My 1 year old (with many food allergies) enjoyed the Montreal Steak seasoning on the steak and gobbled it up! I love that it was free of his allergens and he could actually enjoy some flavor! 

"The Molasses Bacon steak was another great find, I will definitely try that out with my own family as well!"

We came home with very little meat left, because everyone had seconds and, in some cases, thirds and more! The Grill Mates® products were a major hit, and everyone raved about that chicken, especially! People loved the meats so much, we almost forgot to eat the sides people had brought. Hee.


Everyone had a great time and enjoyed their grub!


Even the babies got in on the tasting, and boy, did one little tiny girly (not visible in front of her Mama, here) but a dent in that chicken, the star of the show!


Here's one of the kiddos who wolfed down several helpings - he loved EVERYTHING he tried (which was everything), he said.

So way to go, McCormick Grill Mates® and CrowdTap for helping us put on this awesome cookout - and letting me get to share my birthday with some great friends, too!   Let me know if you try anything mentioned here, or something else, too - I'd love to hear your feedback!


Product Review & Party Time: Hearts For Hearts Girls®!

Logo H4H

Recently, we had a girls' party in the park, with six girls from three families, ranging in age from one to eleven. We were there to have fun with Hearts For Hearts Girls® dolls, of which we'd been given two from the brand and from MommyParties!


The great thing about Hearts For Hearts dolls is that for every one purchased, a donation for needy girls in other countries is made! The dolls are all representative of different countries, so in addition to the fun of playing with some really awesome, well-made dolls, collecting them results in the ability to have a great cultural lesson between parents and children!

Dell USA

The first doll we were given was Dell, representing the USA. Like all Hearts For Hearts Girls®, Dell stands 14" high and has a poseable, smooth vinyl body, and high-quality rooted hair for hours of doll play. Her eyes are a deep teal-blue, and her
gleaming hair is a true brunette brown. A sprinkle of freckles crosses her nose
and cheeks. Dell comes dressed in a summery floral top of corals and pinks, and frayed jean cut-offs of real denim.

Also, like all the HFHG dolls, Dell comes with plenty of accessories, including:

  • Camouflage baseball cap
  • Suede choker with enamel-like butterfly pendant
  • Bright bangle bracelets
  • Silvery flower dangle earrings
  • Slip-on polka-dot distressed tennis shoes
  • Doll-sized hair comb with hair elastic
  • Girl-sized H4HG power bracelet
  • Beautiful mini storybook about Dell’s life

Pretty cool, huh?

Consuelo Mexico

The second doll we were given was Consuelo, representing Mexico. Her hair is a waist-length fall of shining black and her eyes are deep brown with copper highlights. Consuelo comes dressed in a ruffled, lace-trimmed turquoise skirt and a
lime-green blouse with lively floral embroidery on the collar. Her accessories include:

  • Silvery hoop earrings strung with bright beads
  • Color-coordinated bangle bracelets
  • Festive hot pink flower head band.
  • Bright pink shoes with silky ribbon ties
  • Doll-sized hair comb with hair elastic
  • Girl-sized H4HG power bracelet
  • Beautiful mini storybook about Consuelo’s life

The dolls are completely collectible, and every girl there couldn't wait to get their hands on them! We were technically supposed to give one away and keep one for ourselves, but my girls and I decided that each of the other two families, also each with two girls (an older child and a 1-year-old), should get to pick a doll. To be fair, I had them try to guess my secret number, and the one who came closest without going over got to choose first:


That honor went to Team RB, who chose Consuelo from Mexico. They opened her right up and checked her out. Later, their mama told me, "The doll is wonderful, easy to play with, dress and undress. The girls have been doing her hair, and she even fits clothing from another brand of dolls! We loved reading about her culture and even discussing how she is different and similar to us ... lots of questions about Mexico and Mexican heritage, even got to discuss my own mother being part-Mexican :)smile"

Sounds like a win!


That left the USA's Dell for Team SB. Miss G also opened her doll up right away and began exploring all the goodness that was contained within the box. (For my girls and everyone else who wanted one, we were given a whole bunch of extra HFHG bracelets to wear, and they loved that!) Miss G's mommy later told me, "G loves her doll! She slept with it the first night! The next day we did her hair together. G likes her cute clothes and the fact that she moves so easily."

Sounds like another winner - fantastic!

I'm so pleased that the dolls were such a huge success, and I'd love to hear if you get one, too. I know both of my girls are hoping to get one for Christmas, and I think they shall. I can't wait to go pick out which one for each of them!

**I can offer you the following code for $5 off your purchase, too: H4HAUG12, good through October 2012. Please let me know which one you choose, if you do!**

 And remember, in addition to the fun your girls can have with their Hearts For Hearts Girls® in real life and online, as well as games and activities on the site, each one sold does a good deed for a needy girl in other countries. And I think that's great - so check 'em out!

Disclaimer: and provided me with two dolls to keep and/or give away. No other compensation, monetary or otherwise, took place. As always, all opinions are and alway will be my own.


Sunday Stealing: The 88 Meme, Parte Tres

Link up here if you're dying to add your tuppence to the Meme o' the Day, too!

Sunday Stealing: The 88 Meme, Part Three

46. What are your LEGAL initials?

MAO. But I am not the infamous Mao, promise.

47. Who's the first B in your contacts?

Well, she is better known as Mrs. 4444, so I'm not sure she'd want me to say her name publicly. ;)
48. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

It's been a little while, so I don't know. Between being sick and the post-birthday let-down, I'm itchin' for a good chuckle!
49. Your number 1 top friend walks out of your life, do you go after them?

Absolutely, whether we're talking about Hubs or my BFF, I would literally shrivel up and die without them. And I hope they'd chase me down, too. (Dang, I just burst into tears, man.)
50. Explain your last awkward moment?

Me, yesterday at my big freebie-giveaway un-birthday party, explaining to the young daughter of my non-Caucasian pal that I was sorry the doll she won was Caucasian and that I didn't have one more representative of her ethnicity, blah blah blah...unnecessarily, it turns out. Mama laughed at me for feeling badly about it!
51. Are you afraid of the dark?

Yeah, at 36 (still getting used to saying that), I can honestly say that I'm still skeered of pitch-black darkness.
52. Do you have good vision?

Is the Pope Jewish? :\ Nay, I am near-sighted and getting worse every year, still.
53. Have you ever tripped someone?

It's kind of a hobby of mine.
54. Have you ever slapped someone?

When I was a senior in high school and dating a black man (well, he wasn't yet a man, but he was more than a boy ;D) for the first time, my very FIRST ex-boyfriend found out and said something about him being a "n-----." I slapped him as hard as I could; indeed, I did. I don't put up with that shit.
55. Are you Irish?

Not one iota, insofar as I know.
56. Do you use lip balm?

Fairly incessantly, I do.
57. Do you have any scars?

I have tons: an equal number of the physical and emotional sorts, and you could say my skin is rather covered with them, if that's any clue.

58. Is there someone you will never forgive?

If they never apologize to me for the pain they caused, then yes. If they do, then the sun will shine upon them in my eyes again. And yet, I don't see it ever happening.

59. Are you dating the person you last held hands with?

I am not dating a 2-year-old blond toddler at the moment, nope!

60. Name the last person to text you?

Paul (and he's just a British friend with whom I play an iPhone game and sometimes listen to his complaints about how often - and easily - I kick his arse, so chill, Hubs!)
61. Would you marry someone 8 years older than you?

Sure. Age ain't nothin' but a number. Besides, older men are sexy.

62. Can you go in public looking like you do?

I could run down to the 7-Eleven for a liter of cola (holla if you get the reference), but I wouldn't, say, go meet the Queen of England looking like this!
63. Have you ever kissed someone whose name started with a A?

I dated a guy in Miami named Alan, so yes, and I've had cheek-smooches with my FIL, Al, so there's a two-fer for ya!
64. What side of the bed do you sleep on?

Lately, I've been sleeping in my daughter Chloë's bed, so ... the middle? Hubs would probably tell you I sleep in the middle of our bed (when it's not full of laundry, that is), too...
65. What's the first thing you'll do on your wedding day?

I should hope there won't be another wedding day in my future, so looking back to 2nd January, 2001, I probably hit the snooze button eleventy times, took a shower, kissed my beloved good-bye, went to work on the bus, told my bosses I was going to leave early so I could take the bus to the courthouse and elope,... and then I did just that!
66. Do you fall for people easily?

67. Has anyone put their arms around you in the past 5 days?

Do I need to list them? Because there have been a few!
68. Do you miss the way things used to be?

That's a rather vague question. I look forward to what's going to happen tomorrow. The only thing I really miss about what used to be is having a regular cleaning lady! Hee.

Y'all have a super week, now, and I'll see you back here for Part IV next week!


Bzz, Bzzzzz: Olay & CoverGirl Vs. Jafra - How'd It Go?!

Disclaimer: I received two CoverGirl + Olay products from and the brands to sample and discuss. No monetary exchange took place. As always, all opinions are and will always be 100% my own.

 CG & Olay products

Recently, I received my BzzKit containing these two products from CoverGirl + Olay: Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation in Shade #125 (Buff Beige, which I was able to choose myself), and also the Pressed Powder in Shade #320 (Fair/Light, which I also chose.)

Now, this campaign is a little different for me, since I am a longtime Jafra Skin Care consultant, so I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the CG/O products with my usual Jafra products of the same sort, to see which I truly like better. What follows is my honest-to-God opinion of both, along with before/after pictures, so you can judge for yourself.


CG & Olay blog

(Please note that all self-portraits were taken in natural light with the Instagram app on my iPhone, so any variances in photo quality should be taken into account when evaluating my photos.)

Since I was only evaluating the foundation and powder products, these looks are and should be basically identical, except for the way in which my hair was styled at the time. I should have been more consistent, sorry! I washed my face as usual with my Jafra face wash, and then I proceeded to use my various hydrators from the Jafra PRO line to get my face ready for cosmetics.

Tone Rehab

On Day One, I used the CoverGirl + Olay products. First, the Tone Rehab. Some facts:

  • One pump instantly covers discolorations, lines and wrinkles while one bottle hydrates to help improve skin tone over time
  • Clinically shown to help reduce the appearance of discolorations over time by hydrating the skin
  • Available at all major retailers, with a suggested retail price of $13.99
  • Online at — visit the site to get shade matched, discover tips and looks, and learn more

A shade for all women
The COVERGIRL & Olay Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation shade palette covers skin tones from light to deep, with a balance of cool, neutral and warm undertones in 14 beautiful shades:

  • Ivory
  • Classic Ivory
  • Creamy Natural
  • Buff Beige
  • Nude Beige
  • Medium Beige
  • Natural Beige
  • Warm Beige
  • Creamy Beige
  • Soft Honey
  • Golden Tan
  • Classic Tan
  • Tawny
  • Soft Sable

Pressed powder

Secondly, I used the CoverGirl + Olay Pressed Powder. Some tidbits about that:

  • Gold pearls, yellow iron oxide, and silk mica work together to help provide natural looking skin with an energized appearance and a healthy radiance
  • Instantly helps brighten skin tone while softening the look of imperfections
  • The formula, with a built-in smooth-glide serum, provides a touch of brightness without feeling heavy or cakey

COVERGIRL & Olay Pressed Powder completes your regimen in 6 complimentary shades:

  • Fair – pair with Ivory or Classic Ivory foundation
  • Fair/Light – pair with Creamy Natural or Buff Beige foundation
  • Light – pair with Nude Beige or Natural Beige foundation
  • Light/Medium – pair with Medium Beige, Warm Beige or Creamy Beige foundation
  • Medium – pair with Soft Honey or Golden Tan foundation
  • Medium/Dark – pair with Classic Tan foundation

Jafra Pressed Powder
On Day Two, I stuck with my usual skin care and make-up regimen, simply substituting the two above products for Jafra's Two-in-One Powder Makeup SPF 15. (I'll just let you go to the link if you're interested in reading more about that, or you can question me in the comments, since this is mainly a CG+O post!) Side by side comparison is below:

CG & Olay blog (2)

As you can see, there is a HUGE difference in the appearance of my face between the two days.

Here's what I liked about the CoverGirl + Olay products:

- They were easy to apply, going on smoothly.

- They did not have a yucky, make-uppy smell, and instead smelled clean & fresh.

- Coverage was total. Any spots I my have had (which I don't think I did) would have been covered up by these products.

- My skin looked smooth and completely unblemished.

Now, here's what I did not like about the CoverGirl + Olay products:

- Right from the start, the felt heavy, like I was wearing a mask, or theatre makeup.

- My whole natural complexion, including all my (adorable? ;P) freckles, completely disappeared under the products.

- I developed no fewer than three pimples while wearing them throughout the da and I am not prone to getting zits. It really gobbed up my pores, apparently.

- I generally felt uncomfortable, like I could easily tell I was wearing it, and I did  feel like my face was touchable.

Contrasting that with the Jafra product, here are my thoughts:

- As you can see, my complexion still looks natural. I look like ME!, freckles and all.

- No pimples develop(ed), and I wear this product about 5x/week, even in the hot, sweaty summer.

- It feels light to touch, and when I rub the back of my hand against my cheek, it doesn't feel like I'm wearing make-up at all. Soft!

- Definitely not heavy, the Jafra pressed powder is easy to forget I'm wearing it t all.

- The rare and occasional blemish are STILL covered by this lighter, less cakey product.

So, for this girl, Jafra is still the clear winner, and I choose not to wear - or buy - the CoverGirl + Olay products again, which I definitely would have if my experience had been different.

One last side-by-side, the final picture of my face after each foundation was applied, using Jafra cosmetics:

CG & Olay blog (3)

So the bottom line for me, looking at these pictures and having tried both lines, is that: (1) If you need heavy-duty coverage and don't mind feeling like you're wearing caked-on foundation, try these CoverGirl + Olay products. (2) On the other hand, if you'd rather look and feel more natural, light and soft to touch after applying foundation and cosmetics, well, maybe it's time to try Jafra. I've been using it for 14½ years myself, and I'm sticking with it.

If you've read all this, please tell me what your thoughts are, so I can pass them along to BzzAgent! Your comments will remain anonymous!


You Say It's Your Birthday? It's My Birthday Too, Yeah!

It's my birthday (36!!) today, and Chloë's (11th!!!) yesterday, which are not really milestone dates at all, so just a brief post from me about this. Briefer still because I was already 2/3 done with the post and, yet again, Typepad ate the damn thing. ARGH, that is getting SO OLD. She got what she wanted for her birthday most of all, a day early on Thursday, having gone from this:


to this:


She keeps commenting how weird it feels without them, but she loves it at the same time. We'll get her retainer on Monday. Yeesh, I can't believe I'm old enough to have a kid who needs one of those!


We're having a (non-birthday, just coincidental) party later today at a local park, so we went over there this evening to scope out the best location for the party and have some fun as a family. So fun! Here are Chloë and her daddy on a (new-fangled??) teeter-totter, having a blast despite the weight difference. Once we'd been eaten alive by skeeters, we headed to the grocery to pick up the meat and drinks for the next day's party.

You'll notice there aren't any pics of the Littles; my beloved Nikon was stolen, so I'm solely reliant upon my iPhone for pics at the moment, dadblast it!


At the store, we'd picked up a six-pack of cupcakes for singing "Happy Birthday" to her after dinner, but we ended up short on cash and having to take them off our order. Birthday Girl was disappointed and instantly in tears, so the poor/sweet/nice cashier took pity on her and just gave them to her outright. Twinge of guilt, but it was a lovely gesture, and this expression was the result.


The birthday cupcake is presented by Daddy.


My darling Chloë, I hope this and all your wishes come true! ♥

So here are a few recent pictures of me... I've been losing weight again as I've been terribly sick this week, and today I managed to fit into my size 2 jeans for the first time EVER, so that's my silver lining along with the illness:


Chloë snapped this photo of me on Monday (Labor Day).


A self-portrait on Wednesday, pre-hair and make-up...



... and post. I look a LOT like my mommy in the bottom picture. ♥


And one last Instagram self-portrait before I go... What can I say? Now that I like what I see in the mirror, I'm no longer camera-shy! :P

I'll be back shortly with some product reviews; stay tuned for those if you so choose. Thanks for stopping by!