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Entries from June 2013

It's Not BRAIN Surgery... Except That It IS!


A week ago, on Friday, we were going to go to our friends Marc & Jenna's house for the first time since we moved here, to South Florida. We were headed to Target to do some shopping before our playdate with them and their kids, to get our fruit and dessert to bring to share. 

Rob drove. At least, he started to drive. He wanted to turn left out of our neighborhood, but he turned all the way to the right and bumped the curb. Then, turning left, he made a HUUUUGE, wide turn into oncoming traffic before correcting himself. Driving down the road, he again nearly bumped the curb. Finally, turning left onto the Turnpike, he made a wide arc and turned into oncoming traffic, hit the curb and barely made it onto the right-of-way. I screeched at him, not for the first time, to STOP THE CAR and let me drive. I hadn't been doing any driving since I've become so dizzy lately, but I wasn't dizzy that day, thankfully. He let me drive but denied there was any problem with his steering. Hmm.

On the way to Target, he slurred his speech and was using wrong words to convey his meaning in various conversations we had. He became argumentative when I pointed out the problem and denied there was anything wrong.

Meanwhile, he had a headache. Pain level was about a 4 or 5.

At Target, he was acting like a complete child. It became so ridiculous that I had to treat him like one of the kids and occasionally scold him. He acted petulant and sorry but would act up again, bothering the children and just generally behaving like an ass. He denied there was any problem with his behavior.

At this point, I was frustrated with him to the max and wanted to slug him. However, I was way more concerned than irritated, and insisted we go to the emergency room. He had been diagnosed with a cavernous hemangioma (a benign brain tumor) in November 2012, but back then it was just a "watch and see" condition about which we'd almost forgotten. In fact, I was more worried that he'd had another mini-stroke or a seizure or something than the tumor.


We got home, having canceled our playdate, and prepared to go to the ER. Almost ready, he fell asleep. I tried to wake him and was successful, so I decided to let him sleep and catch a few zzz's myself. We woke up around 8 PM or so and headed in.

They took him back to a room immediately and was admitted before we could blink, practically. They took him for a CT scan and found "some spots" on his brain.  They took him for an MRI, and an MRA, and did an EKG and an EEG, and drew a ton of blood, and then they came back and told us what we already knew: he had a brain tumor.

They also told us something we did not expect to hear: the tumor was pressing on his cerebellum and brain stem, which explained his off-balance behavior and erratic driving.

And they recommended he see a neurosurgeon.

Saturday night, they released him. 

The headaches continued and worsened over the next several days. He seemed mostly 'all there' but occasionally slipped into confused and confusing behavior. 


On Wednesday morning, Rob was slurring his speech again, walking very slowly and with much trouble, and trembling visibly. I woke up the kids and raced him back to the emergency room.

This time, the care was bumbling at best. Even the neurologist seemed like a freakin' idiot who was more confused than my husband. The kept kicking the kids and me out of his exam room and not explaining anything, and I wanted to scream. Friend Jenna came to pick up the kids for me, so I could be with him. They still shooed me out of the room. 

I couldn't take it anymore. I got on my iPhone and Googled "miami neurosurgeons" and started making calls. I finally found one who took our insurance, and they asked me, "Can you be here in an hour?"

Um, YEAH. We will BE THERE. 

Well, by the time I got Rob released against medical advice and got a disk with all of his images from Friday's tests, drove the 45 minutes to the University of Miami Hospital and found the neurosurgeon's office, it was two hours later. And I'd forgotten we now had a co-pay (thanks, Tricare, for 20 years of no medical bills) and also didn't have any money on me. There was much chatter behind the desk, and finally they agreed to see him and let us pay the co-pay on Friday... and so they did.

The neurosurgeon looked at his images and very matter-of-factly stated, basically, "This is what we're going to do, and this is how we're going to do it." He had no real bedside manner, but I didn't care because I could tell he knew his stuff. And then he paged a radiology-oncologist to come in and look at Rob's images, too.

The gist of that visit is as such: The tumor is large and quite deep in the brain, so much so that it's very risky to do a 'normal' surgery to excise it. Instead, they're going to do a Cyberknife radiation surgery to blast it into oblivion with minimal damage to the surrounding brain tissue. There is a 70% success rate with this option, which is about as good as we can expect with the 'normal' surgery, now our Plan B.


I took Rob and the kids home that night, where we cuddled Jack suffering from a painful sunburn and even more painful 'growing pains.' I think we finally fell asleep around 3 or 4 AM. 

At some point after noon, lying on Rob's shoulder and chest, I became aware of mumbling and movement underneath me. It was Rob. He was chattering away unintelligibly lifting all four limbs up in the air. I tried like mad to wake him, to get him to open his eyes, but I couldn't. The next thing I knew, he'd wet the bed, so it occurred to me much later that he was trying to get up to use the bathroom. My poor man...

Only Chloë was awake then, so I called out to her to wake up her brother and sister to get ready to go back to the hospital. She and I jumped into a quick shower together while Rob slept. In the shower, I told Chlo that I was going to be asking way too much of her that day and probably for the next few days to come, that I would need a lot of help, and I needed her to just please do what I asked her to do. She somberly agreed. After showering, she gathered together clothes for herself, me, and Rob, grabbed snacks and drinks for the hospital, and got Jack and Sophie ready to go. I am so proud of my little lady-baby.

Getting Rob ready was another matter.

He fought against me while I changed his clothes, slipped on an adult undergarment so he wouldn't have any more 'accidents,' and tried to give him a quick sponge bath. He fought SO hard against me, having no understanding of what I was trying to do for him. Once I got him dressed, I half-walked, half-carried him to the door, with him bracing himself against the door jambs and every other available surface along the way. He was completely agitated and fought every step of the way. Once, he insisted I let him go, that he could walk, so, frustrated, I said fine and said I would let him try. He got ready, and I let him go. I caught him a half-second later when he started to fall. Hmm.

Trying to get him into the van was interesting. Neighbors had pulled up and hollered over to me, "Do you need help?" I shouted back, "YES! PLEASE HELP ME!" and they came over. The woman pulled me aside; the man took Rob from me and got him into the van. I gave them a brief explanation, and they scolded me for not calling 911. Since our house is still in boxes, I was embarrassed to do that and wary. They scolded me again, but in a loving and gentle way. They hugged me, blessed us, and volunteered to help with anything they could do. I was so grateful. Total strangers!

On the way, I called the neurosurgeon and let him know we were headed back. He said to go straight to the ER at the UM hospital and hung up on me. Okaaay. Rob, almost unintelligible still, said, "I hope I get a different doctor this time. That guy was a douche." Yeah, maybe he's douchy, but he knows his stuff and that's all that counts. We'll stick with him.

After I dropped off the kids to Marc and Jenna's house, I zoomed up the Turnpike to the hospital, keeping Rob talking the whole way. He seemed so unhappy, so troubled, so worried that he wouldn't make it. I reassured him a thousand times that he would make it, he'd be fine, and we'd live a long happy life. We had this conversation:

Rob: "Oh, Melanie. I love you more than pickles!"

Me: "Pickles?!"

Rob: "Yeah, pickles are really good!"

I laughed. He was in a good mood, I could tell, all things considered. The ER brought him back to a room promptly. He cracked jokes with me and the nurses the whole time. His head was killing him, and yet he was able to smile and be funny. I had to translate everything he said to the nurses and the ER doctor, because no one else could understand him.

Finally, the nurse gave him a shot of morphine, and then he was feeling better. More lucid, finally, and more chipper. Then the doc came back and told me they had admitted him and all would be well. He said "the team" would evaluate him in the morning and decide whether to do surgery that day. 

I left him, after a thousand kisses, and went to go get the kids. At last report, at 12 PM he'd had some more morphine and was sound asleep. It's nearly 3:30 AM now. I plan to wake up the kids in 2½ hours and head back for the 50-minute drive to see him and the neurosurgeon. My friend Erica is going to come down and get the kids for a couple days. 

From there, it's anyone's guess. We welcome your thoughts, positive vibes, and of course prayers. Thank you in advance. I don't know when I'll be able to post about it again, but hopefully it will be better news...


Friday Fragments, Version 6.21.13

Unknown Mami


Make sure and link up with Unknown Mami here if you're fragmenting today!


First, I'm excited to have a playdate this afternoon/evening with an old pal from my college days, his wife, and their three-year-old boy/girl twins! Marc is a quadriplegic, and I used to be his night nurse all those years ago. They live here in the Miami area, but we've had yet to see them - until today. I love Marc and can't wait to meet his beautiful family!


I posted in FF a week or two ago about my lack of talent in artfully painting my nails. They looked like utter crap. Well, I got this  Dotting 5 X 2 Way Marbleizing Dotting Pen Set for Nail Art Manicure Pedicure, 4 Ounce  really inexpensive set off Amazon for nail decorating, and you'll be happy (fer sure) to know it's helping me remedy that sad fact:


I made these adorable - I think - strawberries on my daughter Sophie's nails. Seriously, I lurved them so much. That was my 2nd attempt at using the new tools; my first attempt was on my own nails and was so unspectacular that my computer has apparently eaten the picture. No worries; I have more.


Then, I did multi-colored polka-spots and squiggles on my nails. I liked it a lot, but I peeled it off quickly because I'm OCD about picking at my nails!


And now, I'm sportin' these flowers on mis uñas, which I like bunches. I'm all over Pinterest checking out nail art for my next design, but the bemoaned ombre effect can't be achieved with these tools, and I still don't know how to do it!


In other, more important news, we're down three family members as of Wednesday.


For the past two months, we've been home to eight cats and realized that financial concerns were soon going to make that an impossible fact to continue. All seven of these cats (above) were going to be brought to a kitty shelter early Wednesday morning, but when the time came, sobbing, I realized I could not do it. Just couldn't. Like I said, they are family, and so I had Rob open the kennels of four of them before taking in the other three. So here's the current rundown in order of appearance in our lives:


We adopted Tinkerbell in August or September, 2005, when Sophia was a baby. My then-friend, Erin, actually flew her up from Atlanta to Virginia Beach for us. She went on to have septuplets the following year, having escaped before we had a chance to have her spayed. That's since been remedied. She is our matron, our fat old lady, and my own personal favorite of the "babies." Tink was never in any danger of being given up to the shelter; she was the lone holdout who watched her seven cohorts be kenneled on Wednesday morning.


Star came next. I was playing Bunco at a friend's house one night, and she mentioned that they had to rehome Star because she didn't get along with their other cats. Well, she's beautiful and sweet, always lying on Rob or me at night in the bed, but we had the same problem. She was forever hissing at and fighting with the other cats, and she never ingratiated herself much to any of us people-types, either. We brought Star to the shelter, and she's the only one I'm not terribly missing, either. Sorry, Starry.


Cupcake was given to us by a friend of another one of my Bunco pals. She was a tiny kitten then. Rob fell in love with her. She was his cat, and he was her person. They were forever together, cuddling and snuggling. Sadly, Cupcake has always had peeing issues; we almost gave her up once long ago, but they were going to euthanize her, so we took her back home. We've changed litters countless times, added many more boxes, and still have had no solution to the problem. In the end, Cupcake was taken to the shelter. Rob was in tears all last night about it, which of course put me in tears. I feel really badly about her and wish it could have been different.


Muffin was Cupcake's littermate. The same people couldn't keep her, so I broke down and got her, too. Jack is her person. When he was at Cub Scouts camp last summer, Muffin looked for him and cried everywhere. We used to have peeing issues with her, long ago when Cuppy started, but Muffy has improved. At the last minute, I had Rob open the kennel and let her out. Jack was thrilled when he woke up later Wednesday morning.


Ginger was Sophia's cat, though he also seemed to have adopted Jack as his person in recent months. When we lived in Portsmouth, VA, last Fall, I was driving with Sophia very late one night to the drugstore. All of a sudden, in my headlights, I spied two tiny cats racing around on the road in front of me. One got away, but when I stopped the van to get them to safety, Ginger cowered and stayed put. I picked him up and handed him to Sophia to hold while we went to the store.  She fell in love with him and begged her daddy to let her keep him. Unfortunately, he's developed peeing-out-of-the-box issues in recent months, too, and he went to the shelter on Wednesday. Sophia didn't cry, and that is what saddens me the most.


Pepper was "the one that got away" in the Ginger story. On the way home from CVS that night, I found Pepper in my headlights again. I was determined to rescue him before he got squashed. He was full of piss and vinegar then, though he's turned into the most docile cat ever since. He and Chloë belong to each other, and I love him almost as much. We've been through a lot with Pepper almost dying last year, requiring multiple blood transfusions. He's since chubbed up plenty and his now heaviest second only to Tinkerbell! It's hard to tell under all the beautiful fluff. The idea of giving Pepper away is what had me sobbing on Wednesday, finally relenting to let him and three other cats out of their kennels. When Chloë woke up and found him still here, she "cried happy," as she says. I did, too.


And finally, this is our third set of kitten twins, Hunter and Lucky. Lucky came first; Rob rescued him from where he was flattened under a dumpster. We didn't think he would make it, but he's at least tripled in size since then. Lucky, we found under Rob's kayak in the backyard. They are manx kitties (no tail). They have a third, nearly identical-looking littermate somewhere out there, but thankfully we haven't needed to rescue him yet. I never intended to keep these two at all, but I guess Rob had other plans, because he petitioned to keep them and I allowed him to do so. I'm hoping it makes up just a little bit for losing Cupcake. They are sweet and cute...

So we'll see how this goes. If finances get even tighter, though, we'll have to re-evaluate.


Well, that's it from me for this week. Thanks for stopping by; enjoy your weekend!


Aloha Friday: What Did You Learn?

Aloha Friday Blog Hop on @PamelaMKramer

Link up on A Renaissance Woman if you've got questions for us today!

I have a two-part question for you this week. My questions are:

What's the most important lesson you have learned in your life?


And, similarly:


What one thing would you like to learn?

 As for me, I have learned to not take myself too seriously and to be able to laugh at myself. It's an important lesson, and I hope to be able to teach it to my kids as well. Especially the oldest, who is waaaay to uptight!

Also, I would love to learn to be a better gardener. I have a serious black thumb that I can't seem to turn green, and it would be really nice to know how to grow my own (organic) fruits and vegetables without killing off all the plants.

Now what about you??

Thanks for stopping by!


{Not-So-} Wordless Wednesday: Celebrating Father's Day #Wordless

We had some fun over the weekend, showering Rob with our love and attention. I'm linking up at 5 Minutes for Mom for Wordless Wednesday, though this post will be wordFUL. You can link up there and other linkies for a fun blog hop. Join us, won'tcha?


First, a child who is neither Rob nor looks like her father, Sophia. She and, to be fair, her brother and sister are always losing their glasses, so I snapped the picture when hers had actually been found for once. I'm sure they're already lost again... She looks so much older than her eight years here, amiright?


We had coupons for free flatbread pizzas at Chili's, so we went for dinner Friday night. Only, when we got there, we found a line going out the door and a 40-minute wait. We were going to leave, but Jack begged us to go into the restaurant next door: Portofino. We said we would check out the menu and see if it was affordable on our meagre budget - and it was! Here's Jack, lying down on the bench next to me while we waited for our food.


And this is the same child, posing with Yours Truly, who is almost embarrassed to post this picture of me looking so OLD. I don't, normally, swears! It's just that my face is pushed up on his and- oh, never mind.


And finally, there is the daddy in question, along with his mini-me, Chloë. The two of them, man! Since she was born, it's like he's looking in a mirror!


We ordered the Margherita pizza at Portofino, and Sophie stuck her head in when I went to Instagram it. Silliness!


After dinner - which was superb, by the way - we went to walk off our full bellies around the shopping complex where Portofino lives. At the back of the buildings, we found approximately 80,000 itty-bitty toads jumping around the grass. Sophie lovescatching anything that moves, really, so she begged us to let her go catch one. All the kids joined in the fun.


They caught one each, and then two and three each, and everyone was in hysterics. We were quite the merry band of misfits, leaping around trying to catch toadlets. We were up to no good after that, blowing out the torch flames outside a third restaurant, setting toads free (and then catching them) inside a building, and so on. We're such good examples! :\


On Sunday, in the afternoon, we headed over to our community clubhouse pool for the first time. It's 25 bucks to get in, which is a ridiculous racket if you ask me, but we didn't have it on us, so they just let us in. I never would have imagined four years ago that I'd be standing there, posing in my bathing suit for all the world to see!


The kids - and we parents, truth be told - had a blast in the pool. Sophia found a mask and spent the time diving around, looking at everyone and everything underwater. Jack learned to swim, though not well and not for long, but it's a great start. Chloë mostly hung out in the shallow water and by the steps. She's a very timid, delicate little flower, don't you know.


The kids all clung to me at one point, making a "Baby Raft." It was a lot easier to hold three babies at once when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. Little bit more difficult now!


After the pool, we dried off and went to Chili's for those flatbreads. They were good, but I'll leave that alone for now as I want to keep this a positive post! ;) After dinner, we again needed to walk off our full tummies, so Chloë asked to go walk around the neighborhood. We haven't done that in a while, like we use to do on a nightly basis.


At the lake, Sophie stopped short and pointed, sadly. There was a dead duck on the ground. We've been joyously watching the eggs, then the babies, and the parents, and now, this sad end of the the lifecycle. She's got such a tender heart for animals, but sometimes it needs to happen, and we can't always avoid it.


I love this picture of Jack. The way he's standing, his posture - so grown. Not big, of course, but an older stance. He's so proud of being TEN!


After we left the lake, we walked around the rest of the neighborhood, where I took fotos of everything from, as my dad would say, "the ridiculous to the sublime." You'll see.


Sophia, lover of all creatures great and small, was the first to spot this "callapittar." (She still says it before catching herself.) I cautioned her immediately not to touch it, having more than one run-in with a spiky caterpillar in my own day and not wanting her to experience the same discomfort. They heeded (hed?) my warning.


I wish I knew plants. I like flowers, but I never know what they are. I don't like picked, gifted flowers generally, though. I like them in the ground, where (to me) they belong.


A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose...


Believe it or not, when I take these pictures, I usually try to compose them nicely. I took an art class my last semester of college, and I learned about making a composition work so that your eye keeps moving back up and doesn't fall off the bottom of the page. Items in the composition are supposed to lead your eye upward. That's what I was trying to accomplish here, but when I don't think I achieved that in this case. So, a picture of blurry fleurs for nothing.


Same here, although I do think this composition is resolved. Eh, whatever. You don't come here to be wowed by my artistry, anyway. (Why do you come here? It's all blither and blather all the time. My husband likes that, but you?)


This hose was striking to me, so I took a picture of it. Even hose need love. Heh. See what I did there?


I love, love, love palm trees. It's what I think of when I think of Miami, and it's the first thing I looked for when we moved down here in March. They fascinate me to no end. Even the "palm carcasses," as I call them, lying around on the ground, entertain me. Such huge leaves sloughed off in an instant - amazing!


Surprisingly, I think it was Jack who spotted this little guy (or gal?) climbing up an apartment wall. The kids crowded around to get a peek, and of course Soap wanted to take him home. We vetoed that idea immediately, and when she asked why, Rob said, "Because he's got important snail stuff to do!" True, but it tickled me just the same.


Hm. When I spotted this gouge in the sidewalk, and when I first took the picture, it looked like an eye crying. Now, I don't see it. Do you see it? I don't see it.


On Instagram, I captioned this one, "It's Electric! Boogie-woogie-woogie," and now I want to go to a wedding, which may be the last place on earth where it's safe to do that dance.


Chloë, my little treehugger, was asking about how pigs and cows, etc., get slaughtered for their meat. Sophie, too, but when I finally broke down and filled her in a little bit, she declared she might join me in vegetarianism. I make no push to get them to do this, but if she so chooses, I'd let her.


I love animal behavior, and really, all behavior is interesting - including that of this flower, all closed up for the night. Still beautiful!


I tried to make a picture of all three kids being, as we are always telling them to be, "nice, kind, sweet and loving." Only, when Sophie's hair fell in Jack's face, he had a conniption about it and the moment was spoiled. I took the picture anyway, because it amuses me greatly.


I don't like to let the kids run on sidewalks and other hard surfaces, because they are klutzy like their mama, and I hate to see a busted-up face. They wanted to race down the length of the sidewalk, and Rob let them, however. Well, I guess this one time won't kill them. I should video the kids running. Maybe next time I will. Sophia takes off like a shot; Jack keeps up fairly well, but Chloë tip-toes along ever so daintily. It's highly entertaining.


After the race - which Sophia won, natch - we were all barefoot, so I stopped to take a picture. I guess you can guess which are mine? We are not big-footed people, but the mutant (Sophie, that is) has the largest feet. At 8, she's already wearing my size 5½ shoes! Meanwhile, I still have to shop for Jack's in the toddler section...


Sophia found this something-or-other-plant and picked it up, declaring that it was her trophy for winning the foot race. She's so much fun, that one!


At that point, Chloë pointed up at the sky and showed us the streams of light from the setting sun. Beautiful. Thanks, God, for that glorious day.


Closer up, that cloud looked somewhat alarming. We headed home.


Another arty one, sorry. This time, I pointed top left, instead of top right. I don't normally do that, so take note, because there will be a quiz at the end!


This one neighbor's apartment was Fern City. I wish I didn't have a black thumb. I love things that grow; I just seem to have a knack for making them stop doing that.


{Oops, this was from outside Chili's, after the pool; it was in the wrong place in my photo line-up. We headed straight there after swimming, without stopping to go home for clothes, and Chloë had nothing to wear except her swimsuit. I rustled through the back of the van and came up with this shirt of mine for the Goodwill bin! She loved it, which was funny, because it's way too big even for me!}


We passed by the mailboxes and saw, as usual, "Mailbox Kitty" there. Before I could stop her, Sophia had scooped her up and given her quite the vigorous snuggle. "Into the tub as soon as we get home!" I decreed. Fine to pet and wash hands, but this was too much. And yeah, she's blind, poor thing.


And then Jack did the same thing! So they both had showers as soon as we got home, because as sweet as she is, she's probably home and habitat to all manner of who-knows-what. I do think my boy-child looks particularly beautiful in this photo.


And then we reached home, shortly after visiting Mailbox Kitty. They're making the Peace sign, if you couldn't tell. Why they look so sad here is anyone's guess. The idea of baths to come, maybe?

Thanks for visiting. 


Saturday 9: Daddy's Back

It's that time again! Link up here if you wanna join.

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here
1) Crazy Sam's dad often traveled for business, and always remembered to bring her the little complimentary soaps or body lotions he got from the hotel. When you travel, do you bring back souvenirs? Send post cards? 

My friend Ernie collects post cards, so I've been sending them to her when I travel for the past several years. It's great fun picking them out for her. Hubs just gave me all of his saved posties from his trips to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and so on with the Navy, to gift to her. It's been great fun sharing those.
As for me, I collect a magnet, sometimes a spoon, and always a shot glass wherever I go. I had a huge collection of the glasses and left them somewhere - where?! - when we moved one time, so I had to start over.
2) When you fly, do you prefer window or aisle? Or doesn't it matter? 

I will fight for the window seat. I hate the aisle - all those people brushing up against you as they make their way to and from the bathroom, and no window on which to lean a tired head. Plus, I love watching the plane cut through the clouds. Ahhh... flying. I dream I can do it for real.
3) According to, Jim Anderson (Robert Young) of Father Knows Best is the best TV dad ever. Who is your favorite TV (or movie) dad?

I'm an 80s baby, so it would have to be someone like Alex P. Keaton's dad (what was his naaaame??), Cliff Huxtable or... ooh, ooh, I know! Tony on Who's the Boss? He seemed like fun. 
4) Sam's father was the family disciplinarian. What about you? Do you consider yourself a rule maker, a rule follower, or a rule breaker?

I grew up with an authoritarian father, too.  I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle, not too authoritarian, not overly permissive. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying my damnedest! As for rules? Made to be broken.
5) Sam's father was the one who gave her driving lessons. Think back to your first few times behind the wheel. Were you a naturally good driver? 
Oh, my good gosh, no. I had no idea what I was doing when I turned 16 and got my learner's permit. My father sat me behind the wheel and said, "Drive," giving me no instruction whatsoever. I didn't even know the brake from the gas pedal! I drove like a cartoon, pulling the steering wheel back and forth between my hands. What a horrible way to learn! I'll be so different if I get to teach my kiddos.

6) This week's featured artist, Kenny Loggins, was born in Washington state. Have you ever lived in, or traveled to, any of our northern border states? (For those of you not as well versed in geography as Crazy Sam, that's AK, WA, MT, ND, MN, WI, MI PA, NY, VT, and ME.) 
I was born and raised in New York, so sure. Went to Canada several times, too. The only other state I've been to on that list is Pennsylvania. I have lots to see yet!

7) As part of the duo Loggins and Messina, Loggins performed the song "House at Pooh Corner." Do you have a favorite character from the Winnie the Pooh books/movies? 

It's not my favorite series. I like all the characters but Rabbit, I guess, although poor Eeyore is depressing. I'd say I'm most like Piglet, a nervous little wreck. I'm staying away from Tigger, 'cause everyone picks Tigger, and I'm not everyone.
8) The mercury is going to start rising. How hot is too hot for you? 85º? 95º? Or are you one of those  "the hotter the better" people?

We moved from Virginia to Miami in March, leaving behind 30º and below (which is still some 80º above the coldest I've experienced!) and coming into weather where I was wearing a tank top and shorts at 10 PM. I think I'm a "hotter the better" girl, which is one thing I do have in common with my old man.
9) To celebrate Father's Day, Sam is giving away her father's favorite candy: LifeSavers. Would you prefer a roll of Wild Cherry, or Butter Rum, or Winter Green or Peppermint? 

Hm, it's a toss-up between Wild Cherry and Butter Rum. I don't like minty candies too much, unless chocolate is involved. Then I'll play.
We're off to Chili's for our free flatbread pizzas! Have a swell weekend, pals!

Friday Fragments, Episode 6.14.13

Unknown Mami

Link up with Mrs. 4444 Unknown Mami, who is taking over for summer, if ye be fragmentin' today!

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Is it seriously Flag Day already? Holy cow. Where is this month going? It's flying by, that's for sure. For you, too?

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I was talking with Rob (Hubs) in the car today about Kate Middleton and how I enjoyed following the Royal Windsor (right?) family ever since I watched Lady Di marry Prince Charles back when I was five years old, in 1981. He was surprised I remembered it. Who could forget this:

I've long been a fan and was honestly crushed when she died in 1997. Here she was, in her 30s, blonde and blue-eyed, dying suddenly and tragically, leaving behind two young children of the same sex... hm. Similarities to my own story much? Anyway. So I have followed Prince William's marriage and the baby bump story and all that with keen interest.

Rob posited that the Di/Charles story was a bigger one than the William/Kate one, on the world stage, as far as news stories go. I heartily disagreed. So I thought I'd ask you guys. What do you think? Is Kate as big a fairy tale story as that of her departed mother-in-law? I say equal.

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So sorry for the shameless begging request, but could you please comment on this review post? I don't have a huge ton of readers and need to get back to my sponsors with some feedback from folks. Thanks, y'all rock for helping me out! I promise I'll be a good little blahgger and visit back this week, too. No slacking for once, swears!

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Didja get your free donut on at Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, or anywhere else on Friday? It was National Doughnut Day. Yup. We partook. I didn't eat a single bite, though; I am behaving so I can stay put in Rob's jeans! 

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The kids were sent books and pens (because you write in books?) by my dad on Saturday, and the girls dove right in. Jack just rolled his eyes and sarcastically said, "Oh, yay, another book." He's picked up reading a little more in the last couple-three months, but I definitely wouldn't call him a bookworm yet. We've instituted Family Reading Hour as of yesterday, and so far it hasn't stuck. We'll keep at it, though. It's important to us.

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We made Pillsbury Cresent Rolls the other day, and Sophia took the ends off the tube and turned herself into a housefly! I loved it. She's so fun, so creative, such a happy-go-lucky girl... I do adore her so, like all the children, but Sophie really has a knack for making us laugh!

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I took the kids to the $1 movie on Tuesday for Regal Cinemas' summer movie program. Used to be a free one by AMC or Cinemark or something too (nope, I just checked; it was Regal itself that used to be free), but apparently they're all a dollar now.  It's a bit of a hike to get there, too, or we might have gone back for The Three Stooges on Wednesday. We saw Ice Age: Continental Drift this week, and it was really pretty good for a multiple-sequel flick! I'd brought my knitting along, expecting to be buried in it, but I actually didn't get that much done because of having my eyes on the screen. I can't wait to go again next week. Looks like we'll have to choose between Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and Parental Guidance for next week. We've seen the first, and isn't the latter not for little kids??

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The rain actually let up for once today, so we headed out to a park we haven't been to before this. Of course, as we made our way there, the sky completely opened up and down it came. Rob and the kids sat in the van when we got there and, hopeful, applied some sunscreen. Finally, the downpour slowed to a trickle and they got out to fish (the boys) and rollerskate (girls) while I stayed inside to knit. My nausea and dizziness returned with a vengeance after a few days off today, plus it's no fun to knit with wet yarn, or I'd have been happy to join them.


I actually did come out temporarily when I got bored of being by myself, and the whole fam-damily was all gathered on the fishing platform. I caught up with them as they watched a turtle chug down some shrimp left behind by a previous fisherperson. {As for Rob, he was using some crab legs that we'd gotten from Omaha Steaks for bait. I gave him my blessing to do that because I really didn't care for it the first time we tried it; I don't think I'll order from them again, since they're pricey and yet, a letdown! If we ever order frozen food to be delivered again, I already known Schwan's is the way to go - at least for Team Odette!}


After a spell, with no fish biting, we decided to make our way over to the restaurant at the park marina for dinner. The kids ate French potaters and mozzarella sticks - too much fried food, anyone? - while Hubs and I noshed on spinach and artichoke dip (meh, it was okay, but I wasn't wowed by any stretch) and tilapia sandwiches (total blech. I took two bites and ran to the bathroom, overcome with nausea). Rob will finish my sandwich, and I'll gladly be returning to full-on vegetarianism after this, I think!

We all shared chocolate mousse cake and Key Lime cheesecake for dessert, and I remained underwhelmed. For our limited budget to be spent on a dinner that I didn't find terrific, I was bummed. I know the grille at the park we usually visit will cook your catch and provide sides for just seven bucks a plate, so I'm planning on Rob catching some fish in the future! I won't eat it, but I can still proudly Instagram him doing it, right?

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Speaking of today's failed fishing venture, Rob managed to catch his karaoke kabuki suzuki sabiki rig on the bottom and get it stuck. He ran over to the van and got out his dive booties, so he could jump in and retrieve it. I was just looking on with interest until he said, "There are no crocodiles around, right?" Duh, Melanie! We were RIGHT NEXT TO the croc warning sign, and yet I'd forgotten about them. Instantly, I freaked out on him and refused to let him jump in, despite his protests about what we could do with his life insurance funds if he got eaten. Um, no thanks. Twelve-and-½ years ago I swore I didn't care if we were poor and living in a shack with nothing but each other (and our future children), and I meant it, dadgummit!

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Well, that's enough, I'd say. Nothing else in my brain rattling around right now. Lucky you - I'm finished! Have a good weekend, folks.


What Do Olive Oil & Sunscreen Have In Common? Read To Find Out!

What's up, party people?!

I've had lots of product reviews to do lately, and I thought I'd take a second and combine them into one, longer post so you can see what I've had a chance to try out lately. Forgive me for all the shameless plugs, but I can promise you one thing: if I didn't like the free goodies I was given, I wouldn't post about them here. In fact, more than once I have decidedly NOT liked the product and told the company so and been asked not to review it. (Subsequently, one of those companies changed their formula and has been all over the blahgosphere, Twitter, Pinterest, and more with their new campaign. I'm keeping mum as to who it is, though, so don't ask me!)


I reviewed a new eyelash serum by Fysiko just a little bit ago, and I'm plugging them again here because I'm still amazed that this stuff actually works. I nearly forgot I had hair there!


Yeah, those are my gnarly shoes and even gnarlier feet, trying out Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles for the first time. Oh, my gosh. Since I first posted about them, I have been wearing the heck out of these shoes! Have you guys tried these? If so, you've totally been holding out on me. I've switched from flip-flops as my go-to shoes for summer to these, just so I can have comfy feet as we're out and about. Like, really.


I was sent a bottle of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from BzzAgent the other day, and I've been waiting for a dinner to make with it. I took some cut of beef or another (I have no clue; I don't eat it, so it's all dead cow to me, sorry!) out of the freezer and decided to marinate it with a little of this EVOO, some salt and pepper, and a little seasoning in our new Dutch oven to try it out. I even put some EVOO in the water to boil the corn, and Rob stopped me before I put the olive oil in the spuds instead of milk, too. Hee! Well, it was kind of dumb to "waste" my first Filippo meal on people other than myself, since I couldn't test out the meat, but it was apparently quite delishamus. The corn was really tasty; I can tell you that much! Next time, it'll be pasta, though...


What do you like to use olive oil for? I need suggestions, because if it were up to me, I'd even sweets with it. (Can you do that? I'm all ears.)


And finally, I got my Summer 2013 kit as one of the Coppertone Water MOMS bloggers! Woohoo! It's full of sunscreen for the babes and us parents alike, and I even got a beach towel. We went to the park today and, despite the rain, we applied some Coppertone - a different one for each kids' needs, even - to each person. Guess what? No sunburns. Chloë got one the other day, so we must be extra careful.

*** I have coupons ***

for everything pictured here, so you can try them, too. Okay, not for the olive oil, and if I did, I'd totally horde that away from you guys, because I love that stuff. I kid, I kid... kinda. Anyway, just ask if you want some, and I'll pop them in the mail to you.  Please leave comments below even if you don't want coupons, because I really need to tell my sponsors what you think!


Full Disclosure: I was sent all of the items pictured here (well, except for the gross feet, with which I was born, and the corn, which I bought at Target) for free to try out, in exchange for my completely honest reviews. I received no other compensation or threat of violence in exchange for my positivity.  Thanks to BzzAgent for the Dr. Scholls and Filippo Berio products, Fysiko and Sverve for the eyelash serum, and Coppertone and MomSelect for the sunscreen and towel!

Product Review: Fysiko Eyelash Growth Serum


I'm about halfway through a 16-week product review for Fysiko Eyelash Growth Serum and thought I'd share a few pictures of my progress so far. Sixteen weeks is a long time, so I was wondering if that last two months would really make a difference and wanted to document the changes thus far.


This is my before picture, from the beginning of April. Short, stubby lashes. Pardon the polka-dotty face; sun brings out the freckles in a big way!


Here's my after picture, from yesterday - you can see growth! At least to me, they definitely look longer - and that's without mascara. I put a little bit on a while ago, and this is with mascara:


Oh, my gosh! I have lashes again! I have long admired the kids' and Rob's long eyelashes, but now I have some, too! Woohoo! They look longer in the bottom photo because the tips are blonde, so they need coating to show.  I was actually pretty skeptical when I was engaged in this campaign, and now I'm shocked it really works. 

I haven't put any on the bottom lashes because I never put mascara there anyway. Now I'm wondering if I should, but I don't want spider eyes. Thoughts on this and these before/after photos?


Sunday Stealing: The Weird Question Meme

I had a migraine all day Sunday, so I'm playing catch-up on Tuesday. Sue me! Link is here if you wanna read more entries.


The Weird Question Meme, Part One


Do you wear slippers? 

I do on occasion. I should wear them all the time, since all our floors are hard tiles, but I don't know where the hell they are half the time.

How many pictures are in your living room?

 None at the moment. We've lived here over two months and have had our belongings from the movers about that long, yet we still haven't unpacked. It's pretty embarrassing. I'll be posting about that soon, because I am going to change that!

Do you ever watch Brady Bunch reruns?  

 We don't even have television service, so it's not an option. Even if I could, though, I'd have to be pretty bored and sleepless to watch...

Are you allergic to anything?  

Just a few different meds, like Percocet and an antiobiotic family, as far as I know

When was the last time you called in sick?

I didn't do any parenting on Sunday during my migraine, if that counts.

Have you ever been in a car accident?  

Here's a story: My dad and I got hit by a drunk driver on our way to bring me back for my second year of college, in 1995. It was pretty bad. We had rented a minivan for all my belongings. When the young guy hit us, in the middle of the night on a back road in South Carolina, all four tires blew out, the van spun around a billion times, and we landed down an embankment facing the road. I screamed my head off, having been awakened most unceremoniously by the jolt! It was really eerie; the only sound was my boombox (remember those?) playing on the outside of the van, in the debris. My dad seemed completely stunned and shocked, so when a truck driver passed, seeing him doing nothing, I leaned over and lay on the horn to get his attention. He skidded to a stop and came running to help us.

Cops were called, and the father of the kid also arrived with his son in tow. (Seems Dad woke up when Son stumbled in the house and said to him, upon realizing something bad had happened, "You've got to go back, Son.") I was a sobbing wreck as the police questioned the guy and took our statements, and they covered me a blanket and sat me in a car somewhere. I don't know if I was more upset about the offense or the idea of not getting back to school, but I think the latter! The van was totaled, so you know who brought us back to my dad's house? The father and his son, in their pick-up truck, with my dad and me in the back with all my stuff.

We ended up packing as much as we could into one of my dad's cars and driving straight through to Miami from there. I prayed the whole time that nothing else bad would happen. My dad had to mail the rest of my stuff to me, which seemed to be everything I really needed while I waited for it! The only funny part about this story was that, when I asked my uncle to fix that boombox for me, he found the plant debris from the accident in the battery compartment and accused me of storing marijuana in there. As if!! To this day, I have still never even been in the presence of any illegal drugs, let alone taken any myself! The idea of that still cracks me up. Anyway, back to the meme.

What is your favorite snack food?

Ruffles potato chips and Heluva Good French Onion dip - omg, so good!

 Have you ever seen a tornado?

No, but I have had a water spout coming straight at me as I drove the causeway from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Scary day!

 If you won a million dollars, what would you buy first?  

My way out of debt, like any rational person, and then plane tickets to Australia

What time is it right now?  

7:06 PM (-5:00 GMT)

Do you think it's cool for men to wear flip-flops?

Yeah, I have no problem with it. I don't really give two licks about fashion, though. Those who are slaves to that are generally not well-known to me, by me, or about me.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?  

As many as I actually need, and no more. I don't have a lot of purses, either. Just not my cup of tea.

Do you think you are a hypochondriac? 

I don't think so, really. I tend not to think I have something unless there are real signs. I don't go Googling symptoms...

Do you own a dictionary?  

I usually prefer to visit Merriam-Webster online, but I have both English-language dictionaries and several translations into Spanish (and some other tongues) on my iPhone and on my bookshelf.

Where was the last place you went on vacation?  

We visited Sea World in Orlando about a month ago.

Do you talk about your friends behind their back?  

I have been known to gossip. I'm not proud of it, but who doesn't do it on occasion?

Are you actually fat but in complete denial about it?

No. I put on a few pounds over the past couple of months and couldn't fit into Hubs' jeans like I had recently in Virginia, so that wasn't tolerable. Call me bulemic, but I purposely ate foods that would make me sick to lose that weight. I'm not bragging, just being honest about it. Long story short, I just wore those jeans yesterday, and they were quite comfortable.

What color is your mouse pad? 

It's pink with the words "Got Music?" in different fonts and sizes all over it.

Does your kitchen have a theme?

Yeah, if "We have too much crap" can be considered a theme.

Eh. My heart wasn't in this one, can you tell?


A Tale Of Two Milos

I'm still knitting for my friend Stephanie's son Vinnie, the toddler who is allergic to most, if not all, manmade fibers and many natural ones. As I'm currently financially restricted to knitting with the yarn from my stash, and most of my yarns were stashed with myself in mind (read: not little boy colors), it's getting harder to do! I fancy myself the enterprising sort, at least on occasion, so we're making do just fine for now. 


I bought the pattern for Milo {Ravelry link} not knowing it had several different cable options, thinking it perfect for the singular hank of 100% pure Blue-Faced Leicester wool from Spin in the City UK that I had stashed a while back. About 200 yards of rich, smooshy wool... yeah. I was sure I had enough. So I cast on at the end of May.

I immediately hated the pattern when I started knitting. First, it's knit on circular needles. I much prefer straight needles, by a long shot, over circs. And then if I must knit in the round, I rather do it on DPNs (double-pointed needles) over a lone circ. It's just not intuitive for my hands. When I knitted the first four rounds on this Milo, therefore, gritting my teeth the whole way, the next instructions were enough to make me put baby in the corner for a whole week: "Repeat the last two rounds NINE MORE TIMES." UGH.


And then, on Saturday night after seeing Vinnie's pictures on Facebook, I felt urged to knit for the wee boy. I had Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice fresh on iTunes as an audiobook, and though I hate being read to with a passion, I decided I would combine the detested read-aloud with the even more odious circular knitting and kill two birds. 

Oh, my gosh, y'all. I fell in love with BOTH!!

I busted out 6½ hours of knitting on Milo to a wonderful British accent reading me the swoon-worthy story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Saturday night into Sunday morning, and it was time well spent. I got to like circular knitting in a new way, learned to love the pattern de Milo, and am eager to get more audiobooks for future knitting marathons.


The only problem with Milo the First, as you can see here, is that I completely miscalculated the yardage I would need. I only had the one hank and could not find any more online, so I decided to just knit until I ran out. I ended up running out as I was binding off, which sucked. I had to go grab a teensy bit of semi-coordinating wool that Stephanie herself had given to me for a different Vinnie project to finish the binding. It works. Kinda.

I mean, Milo is too short and wide for Vinnie, I think, so there's a bit of a learning curve with this pattern. It measured okay (ie, long enough) on the needle, but off the needle it's shorter than what I had measured before the short garter stitch hem! D'oh. I'm not crying over spilt milk, however, because this particular hank of wool came adorned with a teensy angeline fiber woven in, and as I'm not entirely sure Vinnie won't be allergic to that glittery thread, I won't be terribly upset if Steph ends up regifting the first incarnation of Milo to another, smaller babe.


So on Monday morning, in the wee hours, I cast on for Milo again. I dove deep into my stash and found this 100% Fine Highland wool in the proper weight for Milo. Still squeezy, but not quite as smooshy. Still soft, though not quite as buttery. Much softer than the scratchy Colorblock Sweater I just made Vinnie, so it'll do fine, I'm sure.


I hadn't yet had my fill of the Austen saga, so I found Pride & Prejudice - starring Keira Knightly - on Amazon Prime and sat back with my now-tolerable circular needle. By dawn, the movie had ended and the kids were starting to get up for the day.

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We went to the zoo after the rain cleared up, and I knit in the car while Rob drove there, at the zoo itself while the kids played, and I knit after we returned home. I find myself both addicted to the pattern and yearning for more Jane Austen. What else ya got, iTunes?

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I can't decide whether I did the cable wonkily or if Milo the Second just needs a good blocking (which Steph will handle, because Vinnie's also allergic to cats and so she has to pre-wash everything I send him), but they don't seem to be sitting properly. Eh. Small worry. The length is much more suitable for a toddler boy, as are the colors and lack of glitteriness, so I'm happier with this second rendition.

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It's not really screwy, I don't think; it's just hanging funny on that hanger. I did the bottom binding with a stretchy cast-off, so he'll be able to yank it on and off over his head easily. Makes it a little bumpy and nubby, but that's okay. It's more functional than pretty, and I'm all right with that.

I've already got a third Milo on the needles, ready for yet another cable pattern. Hope you like green, Steph, because I had another skein...


Saturday 9: Sweet Caroline

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

The idea for this week's song came from Harriet, who suggested the baseball theme.

1) "Sweet Caroline" has been sung during every Boston Red Sox home game since the 1990s. (Click here to watch Neil Diamond lead the fans in the first game after April's bombing.) Do you know the words well enough to sing along?

I know the title words; does that count? I used to know them in college; we had to sing them for some pep rally or something I was part of for my dorm. That was aeons ago, though.
2) Do you have a favorite major league baseball team?
My family were traditionally Mets fans. I grew up with them. I remember going to Shea stadium for a game or two in my youth.
3) Budweiser is the "official beer of major league baseball." Do you reach for a cold beer on a hot summer day?
Oh, God, no. I can't stand beer. I like the occasional wine cooler and was really chagrined when Hubs pointed out that it's really just flavored beer. Poo.

4) Every season, more than a million Vienna Beef Hot Dogs are consumed by baseball fans at Chicago's Wrigley Field. When you get a hot dog, what do you put on it? 
I don't eat hot dogs. Okay, okay, recently I bought (and ate) turkey dogs, but I don't put anything on them. I think it's offensive to murder an animal and then tell it it doesn't taste good enough to be eaten without dousing it with myriad condiments. (Just kidding, really.)

5) The odds of a fan in the stands being hit by a baseball are 300,000 to 1. The odds of winning the lottery are (approximately) 1 in 12,000,000. Do you play the lottery?
Once in a moon so blue it's ultraviolet, I might play. I can probably count on one finger how many times I've played in the last year or three! It's just throwing money away.
6) Though his song has been adopted by faithful Boston Red Sox fans, Neil Diamond was born and raised in New York City. Have you ever visited The Big Apple?
Ha. That's like asking the Pope if he's ever been to Rome. I tawk like this maw than I cayeh to admit! ;)
7) Baseball players are notoriously superstitious. For example, the Cubs' Matt Garza eats Popeye's fried chicken every day that he pitches. Joltin' Joe DiMaggio touched second base with his foot every time he ran on or off the field. Do you have any superstitions?
I knock wood, but I don't really believe in it or any other superstitions. I'm kind of a 'scofflaw' when it comes to those silly things. I like to laugh in the face of danger. Mwahahaha!

8) A ball signed by Babe Ruth can fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Have you ever asked a celebrity for his/her autograph?
Just Dave Barry, who used to come into the Publix in Coral Gables where I worked while going to the University of Miami. I followed him and Michelle, his wife, around the store with a copy of his latest column in the Miami Herald in hand, until Michelle pointed me out to him. I was SO shy and shook like a leaf, but I got the siggy! It got wet and ruined in a subsequent move. :*(

9) Baseball means summer and summer means sun. Are you working on a tan, or do you slather on the sunscreen?
Tanning is foolish. I hate sunscreen, but I hate cancer more. I'm pretty fair-skinned, so you should see my humongous stockpile of sunscreen for Team Odette this year. I should take a picture. It's kind of got its own cabinet in the bathroom now!
Well, that was fun. I feel like answering more questions, though.  Shoulda been Saturday 90 this week! 

Aloha Friday Is Back!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop on @PamelaMKramer

A long absence, a new home... and it's back. Link up here if you're playing along with Aloha Friday today! To remind you what it is:

“Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your Aloha Friday post link below. Also, please consider linking back to this post so that others can join in, too! Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!” – Kailani

I've mentioned my Bucket List many times on this blahg, and I've been asked offline to post a complete list. If you know me, you'll realize it'll never be complete, but a few things I've mentioned are doing karaoke (never have), diving Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and visiting an IKEA store (CHECK - did that last month!!). 

So with that in mind, my question for you this week is:

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

I'll be back soon with this week's edition of Saturday 9. Have a great weekend, everybody!


Friday Fragments: Episode 6.7.13

Half-Past Kissin' Time
Here I am again, two weeks in a row. Go me! Link up here to join Mrs. 4444 in blowing out all the fragments of your brain today.
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So I've been trying for months to achieve the ombre nail polish look seen here:
which, admittedly, isn't the best example, but you get the idea. Instead, though, I end
up with this (these are mine, right now):

which looks like total crap. You can't really see it from the picture, so perhaps I should've retaken it without the flash, but what you can see is the total crappiness of my ombre paint job. What the heck? Why can't I do this? If you've ever succeeded at this look, which I adore, please fill me in your special little secret. Unless it involves eleventy-nine weird little tools that I probably don't have. Not doin' that.
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I was so, so terribly excited for Rob (Hubs) to go to my alma mater, the University of Miami, but we found out yesterday that he didn't get in. I am super bummed, probably as much as he is. I can't figure out why not, either. I assumed he was a shoo-in for his 20 years of military service, and I never even considered the possibility he wouldn't get admitted. Major suckage.
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I've been listening to the Elvis Duran radio show in the mornings lately, and the show is absolutely hysterical. Have you ever heard it? Today, they were discussing what everybody's victims would have in common if they were serial killers, and I immediately thought of mine: the people who take an hour to make a right turn in front of me while I'm driving. If I were a murderer, I would follow those people and kill them as slowly as that damned right turn. Ha! What a morbid conversation. I asked Rob, and his answer was a simple "frat boys." Too funny. I get that, too.
So what would yours be? C'mon, play along - it's just a joke after all.
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I am still trying like hell to quit my awful Diet Coke addiction, but it's so hard. I'm trying again now, for about the tenth time in the two+ months since we've lived here in Miami, but with a renewed earnestness. What keeps happening is, I'll buy some, drink it all up instead of parceling it out slowly, and then run out and be miserable. I'm talking severe, prolonged headaches, total crankiness, and sleeping endlessly. I hate it. I've been stocking up on K-cups and Crystal Light to help me alternate with the "last" batch of Coca Dieta that I have now. I have got to kick this!
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I feel kind of bereft since quitting my mystery shopping gig. I miss it; I really do. I don't quite know what to do with myself. It opened a lot of doors, brought a lot of opportunities, and most importantly, got us up and out of the house!  Without that, we've been housebound pretty much all the time, except when I'm out restocking our larder. So I've been collecting ideas for things to do this summer on the cheap - that's how we roll now that Rob's retired - and plan to make the most of it.

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So I guess that's about all that's on my mind today. Shortest one ever from me!

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Good-Bye, Navy Gravy Train. Hello, Retired Life.

Friday, May 31, 2013, was Rob's last day of Active Duty service in the United States Navy. Woohoo! Congratulations, PR1 Odette! (He loves being called that - just ask him.)

Also, Pride-Tradition-Service immediately made me think of PTS... Post-Traumatic Stress. Just sayin'. Anyway.


 To commemorate the occasion and because we had to, our first stop of the day was at t he DEERS office of Homestead Air Force Base for new retired IDs. Everyone but Sophie got one; she's not old enough yet, and this was no minor annoyance to her! I put on zero makeup for the occasion, since I have enough crap on my face what with the trillion bazillion freckles I'm currently sporting.

We headed for IHOP for lunch, since someone said something about pancakes for breakfast. Rob was all about it and turned the steering wheel in that direction. Only, there was a wait (imagine that, IHOP, busy?), and I didn't feel too well, so we went to Golden Corral instead.

Uh, dumb and dumber.

I'd forgotten that Golden Corral is like the Walmart of restaurants. Ugh. Also, they have, according to the manager, changed their corporate policy on gastric bypass patients. Have you ever gone to a buffet with someone who has a gastric pouch the size of your thumb? Not very cost-effective. They used to let us get the buffet at the kids' price, but no longer. Dumberer. And Chloë and I both became sick during eating. Coincidence? You decide.


Try to ignore the gross mattress, which will soon be replaced, because ew. After Golden Corral, we got home and Rob put together the girls' bunk beds. Finally; we've been here two months and it was about time. Chloë's been sleeping on the couch, and Sophie's mattress has been on the floor. So they're excited, a wee bit.


Soap took a nap after that. Guess the excitement got to her. Mm, look at those luscious lips. I lurve them. So smooshy! And I know, I know, she needs to stop with the thumb, but seeing it reminds me that no matter how big she gets, she's still my itty bitty baby!


Here's Jack with Hunter. Or is it Lucky? Hucky? Lunter? I don't know. They're SO cute, but I am really tired of having these kittens around. It's officially on Rob's agenda for later today to drop them off at the no-kill shelter. They gotta go. We might even pare down the pack further; it's been discussed. It's on the table.


Since everyone still wanted pancakes - except me. I don't really DO pancakes; it's not such a gastric bypass diet food, y'know? - we took Rob out for his retirement dinner at IHOP after all. They all had pancakes. Rob had a billion other things, because he is NEVER full, you guys, and I had an egg and cheese and spinach and egg omelet. It was delishamus.


I had an iced coffee, too. Yeah, I'm one of those annoying iPhonographers who Instagrams everything she puts in her mouth. Because you know why? It's fun. Have you heard that Nickleback-parody song about Instagram? Rob played it for me, and that's SO me. Too funny.

Speaking of Instagram, have you guys seen Projecteo? So cool: you get a little wheel with 9 of your Instagrams, and it comes with a projector to shoot them up on your wall or whatevs. How fun is that? Instagram party, anyone? I'm up for it. Too bad we don't know anyone here yet! At least not in homestead. Our closest pals are, like, a 45-minute drive on the Turnpike.

Hi, I babble.


Chloë got sick for the second time at IHOP. So maybe it was just a coincidence we both did at Golden Corral? I don't know. I asked Mamacita and Dr. Lisa what that might be about, and Doc suggested reflux. She had it really bad as a baby, so that could be. Poor kid. It seems to have passed now, though, but if it recurs, I'm putting in a call to a pediatrician pronto. I have GERD (acid reflux disease), and it is NO fun to suffer with.

I swear this post was going to be about Rob retiring. It's fun to ramble, though, you know?

So what have you guys been up to lately? No one ever tells me; I don't know why I keep asking!


Bzz, Bzz: Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles #imabzzagent

I just received a new Bzz kit from Bzzagent, containing a free pair of Dr. Scholls Massaging Gel Insoles for me to try. Woot! I couldn't wait; I get fallen arches, and those hurt, man. I've been wanting to try these for an age.

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So the pair I received was for women's size 6-10, which is good since I take a 5½ shoe.  Don't they just look juicy and cushy? I couldn't wait to try them out!

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I wear these shoes all. the. time, and as you can see, they are getting pretty worn out. The soles used to be really comfortable, but they're ratty now, and I thought they were a good candidate for my new Massaging Gel insoles. I eagerly tore open the package of Dr. Scholl's, which package claims it "doubles the comfort in your shoe."

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As you can see, I just had to cut away a bit of the massaging gel insole to fit inside my shoe. There are cutting guidelines on the bottom of the sole, which made this a really simple process.

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Et voila! Perfect fit, and I only had to retrim the first sole once, after I figured out how to fit it into my shoe just so.

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Okay, I know I have ugly, hideous feet (believe me, I've been told), but try to look beyond all that. I was ready to slip these babies on my barking dogs!

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First one foot,...

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... and then the other. Okay, it didn't feel that different, but I hadn't taken a step yet. I admit, it wasn't love at first step. Or second. But then I really started walking.

I walked around the house. Ahhh. It felt good. Really, really good.

And I drove. And walked, and drove, and walked some more.

You guys, I was loving my new insoles. Super comfortable, so cushy... it was like walking on squishy, little pillows. No lie. I am absolutely in the market for more of these babies. You've so gotta try them!

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Of course, I have coupons. Holler at me if you'd like one. And let me know if you've already tried these. What did you think? Awesome, right?!

I think I've said enough. You get the point. Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles ROCK!


Robbing The Drugstores, Version 6.4.13 #coupons #deals

Hey, you guys!

I'm resurrecting the "Deals & Steals" posts, at least this once, to help out my Virginia pals with saving some moolah. If you want to see more of these posts on a regular basis, to help you get into the groove of saving some serious cash, just drop me a comment below to let me know.


First, I have to say thank you to Collin over at Hip2Save for helping me put together these awesome deals. I've been a lifelong coupon user, but reading her blog transformed my method. I have a Word file with an intro to the Melanie method of couponing - which is not Extreme Couponing, if that's what you're looking for - that will help give a lot of background information for putting together the deals below {and for reading Hip2Save}. If you want that file, just make sure to leave me your email address in a comment on this post.


Second, we don't have Rite Aid here in South Florida, so my deals will come exclusively from Walgreens and CVS today. Between this Rite Aid page on Hip2Save and the Word.doc I can send you, you should be able to sort things if you want to shop the rockin' Rite Aid deals. Be sure to click on "New Here?" near the top left of Collin's blog, too, if you're new to either her highly functional site or to couponing in general. You'll glean so much useful information that will make a huge difference in putting together your own deals and saving money for your family, too.


And finally, before I get started with detailing today's shopping trips, there's just a little bit of coupon lingo that I'm going to use. You need to familiarize yourself with these and more terms, which I've listed in the aforementioned Word.doc and most of which are also listed in the newbie sections on Hip2Save (and used regularly by Collin and other coupon bloggers).

The ones you need to know right now are:

MQ = Manufacturer's Coupons

SQ = Store Coupons (in this case, from Walgreens or CVS)

RRs = Register Rewards, the Walgreens store 'bonus' currency

BRs = Balance Rewards, the Walgreens 'loyalty' currency

ECBs = Extra Care Bucks, the CVS store 'bonus' currency

ARV = Average Retail Value, or the pre-sale price at the store I'm shopping below

OOP = Out of pocket expenditure

Net = What I'm actually paying, after RRs or ECBs, respectively


Let's get started!


{Read this page first on Hip2Save}

I did this in five separate transactions, which I generally only have had to do at "Wags" and not at Rite Aid or CVS. {The only other place I've really needed to do split transactions is at Target, because they often reward with Gift Cards that can't be used in the same transaction in which they're earned.} I'll detail each transaction separately below:

Transaction #1:

{{Done to earn BRs, which cannot be earned and redeemed within the same transaction; also, to separate RR transactions in order to purchase multiple items needed}} 


-       (2) 6-roll packs of Bounty paper towels at $4.99 each (ARV: $6.99) + (4) 3-count Venus disposable razors at $8.61 each after 25% off sale (ARV: $11.49) = $47.61. (The deal was spend $20, get 5,000 BRs, so I doubled it.) I used two Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) MQs for the razors + two 25¢-off MQs for the Bounty towels = $26.70. I also earned 10,000 BRs for a future transaction, which equates to a $10 reward, so $16.70 for all six items. My notebook entry for this deal looks like this:

  • *(4) 3ct Venus disposable razors: $11.49 ea – 25% off – (2) BOGO MQ + (2) 6ct Bounty towels: $4.99 each – (2) 25¢ MQ – 10,000 BRs = 16.70/all 6!

  • (Yes, I really do write exclamation points after each deal. I get excited about saving money, what can I say? I also do color-code my notebook, underline BRs and more. Develop your system to make the most sense for you.)

-       (4) 4-count Gillette CustomPlus3 disposable razors: $5.99 each (ARV: $7.99) = $23.96. I had two BOGO MQs again, but the cashier missed one so I’ll have to go back and recoup my losses. It SHOULD have subtracted $11.98, plus I earned another 5,000 BRs for a total of $6.98. Dividing out, that’s 44¢ per razor!

-       (2) 24-ct Children’s Advil chewables: $4.99 each (ARV: 5.99), minus two $1.50 MQs, plus 3,000 BRs earned for buying two = $1.99 x 2! (Not killer but good, especially since my older girl gets a lot of headaches and we’re out of kids’ meds, so I bought.)

-       100-ct Natrol Melatonin: $4 (ARV: $9.99), kicked back $4 RR for a future transaction, so FREE! (Yay! I am finally going to try; y’all know I don’t sleep!)

-       Tampax Tampon Pearl Lites: $3.99 (ARV: $5.79). {{I had a $1.50 MQ, but it wouldn’t scan. It was a valid MQ, so the cashier should have keyed it in manually, but my cashier – and, sadly, many Wags cashiers – didn’t know how to do that, so I didn’t use it. Normally, I’d have taken it off the order, but they can’t void once they ring in coupons. I’d have done a Return/Refund after that transaction, but I was tired and I’ve got two girls and am stocking up for the future, so I said to heck with it and just kept them. It’s annoying, though!}} This kicked back a $1 RR, so with the MQ, this should have been $1.49!

-       6-oz Crest Pro-Health toothpaste: $2.99 (ARV: $4.79) – 50¢ MQ, plus a $2 RR kicked out =  49¢! (My price point is normally $0-25¢ for toothpaste, but Hubs needs this kind, so I stocked up.)

-       27-ct Scunci hair elastics: $2.99, got back a $2 RR = 99¢. (Again, I have two little girls, and they lose these things like nobody’s business, so I get these whenever I can.)

So for Transaction #1: My subtotal after MQs came out to $62.50 + $5.49 tax = $67.99 OOP. I earned 18,000 BRs for Transaction #5, got back $9 in RRs, and saved $65.94 between sales and MQs.

 Transaction #2:


-       This time, I tried the 54ct Tampax Pearl liners: $2.99 (ARV: $5.29), but my $1.50 that should have worked still didn’t. I kept it anyway, same reason as above. Got back a $1 RR. Not great, but whatevs.

-       100-ct Natrol Melatonin: $4 (ARV: $9.99), kicked back $4 RR for a future transaction, so FREE!

-       6-oz Crest Pro-Health toothpaste: $2.99 (ARV: $4.79) – 50¢ MQ, plus a $2 RR kicked out =  49¢!

-       27-ct Scunci hair elastics: $2.99, got back a $2 RR = 99¢.

So for Transaction #2: My subtotal after MQs came out to $13.47 + 70¢ tax = $14.17 OOP. I got another $9 back in RRs for next week, instead of spending them on Transaction #5 for whatever unknown reason, so my Net for this transaction = $5.17.

Transactions #3 & #4, identical:

  015  012

-       At this point, I knew the Tampax MQ wasn’t going to work for me, so I didn’t take them for these (2) transactions.

-       100-ct Natrol Melatonin: $4 (ARV: $9.99), kicked back $4 RR for a future transaction, so FREE!

-       6-oz Crest Pro-Health toothpaste: $2.99 (ARV: $4.79) – 50¢ MQ, plus a $2 RR kicked out =  49¢!

-       27-ct Scunci hair elastics: $2.99, got back a $2 RR = 99¢.

So for both Transactions #3 and #4: My subtotal came out to $9.48 + 42¢ tax = $9.90. I got $8 back each time for next week, so my Net for both these transactions was $1.90.

Transactions #5:



-       (4) Ben & Jerry’s pints: $4.99 each – BOGO sale – (4) $1 MQs = $1.50 x 4!

-       (4) 2-L Dr. Pepper Ten: 4 for $4 (ARV: $1.99) – (2) BOGO MQs = 50¢ x 4!

-       (4) Chex Mix: 4 for $6 (ARV: $1.99) – (4) 50¢ MQs - $1 off four SQ from the June Coupon Booklet, which you can find at the front of the store near the weekly ads = 75¢ x 4!

-       (4) 6ct Slim-Fast bars: $5.49 each – Buy 1 Get 1 50% off sale – (4) $1.50 MQs = $1.87 x 4!

-       Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip cookies: $1.99 (ARV: $3.59) – $1.50 MQ = 49¢!

-       (3) Skittles singles packs + (3) Starburst singles packs (great for kids’ snack for our weekly Family Meeting!): 59¢ each (ARV: 99¢) – (3) 50¢-off-two MQs = 34¢ x 6!

-       (4) 3Musketeers bars (yucky to me, but Hubs loves them): 59¢ each (ARV: 99¢) – (2) 50¢-off-two MQs = 34¢ x 4!

-       (2) 10ct Starbucks K-Cups: $6.99 (ARV: $9.99) – (2) $1.50 MQ = $5.49 x 2, or 55¢ per K-cup! (Not great, but okay for Starbucks, and I need to replenish our K-cup supply.)

So for Transaction #5: My subtotal came out to $35.33 + $1.40 tax = $36.73. I used 20,000 BR points from Transaction #1 and previous earnings to reduce my OOP to $16.73!


Plus, I have $37 in RRs to use next week! So my Total Value for all five transactions, before sales and coupons, was $293.37 (pre-tax). My total OOP was $118.69, making my Net after RRs $81.69. Not the best I’ve ever done, but eh. You win some, you lose some.


021  023


 -       (4) 1.6-oz Secret Clinical deodorant: $4 each (ARV: $8.99) – (4) $3 MQs - $1 x 4! (Plus, I’ll submit for a Mail-in Rebate for another one, for free!)

- (2) Sally Hansen Advanced Hard as Nails Strengthener: $3.99 each + (1) Sally Hansen Super Shine Top Coat: $4.69 = $12.67. The deal was, get $5 Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) when you spend $12 in Sally Hansen products at regular price. I had (3) $4 MQs, which the cashier should have adjusted down to $3.99 for two of them but keyed them in as $4 anyway, so my Net was 67¢, making this a $4.33 Money Maker for me after ECBs. Woohoo! My notebook entry for this deal looks like this:

  • (3) Sally Hansen products: (2)$3.99 + $4.69 – (3) $4 MQ - $5 ECB = $5.33 MM!

-       (4) 7oz Edge shave gels: (2) for $3.49 each + (2) for $2.99 each  + (1) 15 oz Irish Spring body wash: $2.99 (ARV: $4.99) = $15.95. The deal was, spend $15 on certain products and get $5 ECB back. I had (2) BOGO (up to $3) MQs for the Edge gels, which took off $6, and a $1 MQ for the body wash, so this worked out to $3.95 for all five. My notebook entry for this deal looks like this:

  • (4) 7oz Edge shave gels: (2)$2.99 + (2)$3.49 + (1) 15oz Irish Spring body wash: $2.99 – (2) BOGO MQ – $1 MQ - $5 ECB = 79¢ x 5!

-       (1) Softsoap pump: $2.99 – 35¢ MQ - $2 ECB = 64¢!

-       (2) 1ct Gillette Venus razor: $6.99 each + (2) 4ct Gillette Sensor3 Sensitive disposable razors: $9.99 each = $33.96. The deal was, get $10 ECBs when you spend $30 on Gillette shaving products. I had (2) $3 MQs for the Venus and a BOGO MQ for the men’s razors, so my notebook entry looks like this:

  • (2) 1ct Venus: $6.99 ea + (2) 4ct Gillette Sensor3 disp razors: $9.99 ea – (2) $3 MQs – BOGO MQ - $10 ECBs = $1.99 x 4!

-       (1) Schick Intuition razor: $8.99 (ARV: $11.99) - $2 MQ - $4 ECB = $2.99!

-       (3) Huggies Little Swimmers packs: 2 for $20 (so $30 for all 3) (ARV: $13.99) – (2) $3 MQ - $1.50 MQ – (2) $2 SQ - $10 ECBs (for spending $30 on select Huggies) = $2.83 x 3! Great price!

-       (3) 8oz Colgate Optic White Mouthwash: $4.49 each – (3) $2 MQ - $5 ECB (for buying 3) = 82¢ x 3!

-       10ct TENA Ultimate pads: $3.79 (ARV: $6.99) - $1 MQ - $3 ECBs = 21¢ Money Maker! (Woohoo! TMI side note: I totally told the cashier I wish the limit on this ECB deal was more than one, because, uh, after having four kids, I need ‘em!) ;)

-       (4) Febreze Air Effects: $3.79 each + (1) Febreze Set & Refresh: $3.79 – (4) $1.50 MQ – (1) 75¢ MQ - $5 ECB = $1.44 x 5! (With a horde of cats and their litter boxes, I was all over this!)

-       (4) 3pk Ivory soap: 2 for $3 (ARV: $2.27) – (4) 50¢ MQ = $1 x 4! (Hubs’ favorite soap, plus it’s really great to grate this up and use in making your own laundry detergent!)

-       Froot Loops: $1.99 (ARV: $4.79) - $1.50 MQ = 49¢!


So for this singular transaction, the total value was $229.66 (pre-tax), and my OOP expense (because I had ECBs from last week and SQs from the “magic coupon machine,” aka the price scanner near the front of the store) was $49.44. I got back $49 in ECBs for next week, so my Net is 44¢. Sweet deals!


Please feel free to ask questions in the comments (so others can benefit), request the Word doc, and peruse Hip2Save! Realize that using coupons this way is time-consuming and can be hard work, but in my opinion, it’s SO worth it. It’s a game that I enjoy playing.

Now go out there and get some great deals!


Moving Day

I'm moving this blahg, y'all. Seriously! I've been here on Typepad for about 5½ years now, and I've grown disenchanted with all the glitches and stuff.

So, I'm heading over here to Wordpress.

I have NO idea what I'm doing. Help a girl out, wouldja?

That's all I've got right at the mo'. It's just after 0600, after all.

Much, much more to come - you know it.


Sunday Stealing: Awkwardly Intriguing Questions

Link up here if you're playing along today!

1. What’s something you hide about your personality?

Online, and especially here in my little chunk of the blahgosphere, I don't really hide anything. What you see is what you get. But IRL, I hide a lot. Literally and figuratively. I don't like attention focused on me, I don't usually speak my mind face-to-face, and I am painfully shy. Most people who read my mind blahg, I mean, not mind! probably wouldn't have guessed that. People who think they know me generally don't.

2. How do you deal with criticism?  

I don't handle it well, to be honest. I have quite a bit of paranoia about it. I generally feel that if you don't like something I'm doing, you must hate me. It goes along with my first answer from yesterday's Saturday 9; when you're told constantly what a piece of shit you are, you tend to believe it. If you're going to criticize me, please be gentle and couch it in love. Otherwise, I tune out. Or cry. Or both.

3. What’s something sweet you’d like someone to do for you?

Every Mother's Day, all I ask for is a clean house. I don't think I've ever gotten it. It's okay.

4. Which fictional character would you most like to have lunch with and why?  

Anne Shirley from the Green Gables series. I think she'd be immensely entertaining, for one thing, and just generally good company.

5. Who would you say is your “anti” role model? Someone who serves as a warning rather than an inspiration?

Oh, that's an easy one: My evil stepmother. She taught me exactly how not to parent my own children. Everything she did, everything she was, is the opposite of how I want to be. I'm breaking the cycle of abuse: the buck stops here.

6. What’s the most infuriating thing your parents (or caregiver) do?

My father is so self-centered, even my then-seven year-old told him that the world doesn't revolve around him but rather the sun. I grew up as the "yes, Daddy, anything you say, Daddy" kid and was therefore his favorite. (Why? Because I needed his protection from his wife.) When I went off to college and got a mind of my own, that stopped completely. We're not that close anymore. I hold him at arm's length now. I'm pretty sure he hates it.

7. Which movie character do you most identify with and why?

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind really spoke to me. I'm not saying I have that level of genius, but I feel locked inside my own brain much of the time, to the point that it sabotages my relationships. I'm lucky to have such a supportive, understanding husband. 

8. You’re an Action Movie Hero. What’s your weapon of choice and the line you scream when defeating your arch enemy?  

I'd go right for the jugular, like she did. I'd make it slow and painful, like she did. And I wouldn't let her say a word in defense of herself, like I couldn't. I'd get in close and quiet, and calmly ask, "How do you like me now, bitch?" and lock eyes with her, like I never never could before. Ooh, sounds evil... but I'm the good guy in this story.

9. What’s the oddest term of endearment you’ve ever used or that someone’s used for you?

It's either "Willis," which is my term of endearment for everybody, or "Chicken Poop," which I reserve especially for Chloë (my 11yo). I have no idea why I say the latter.

10. What was something you used to enjoy, but was ruined for you? What’s the story behind that?  

I used to love to sing and dance in public, but when I was 15, my stepmother said she wasn't going to continue paying for lessons. She said, and I quote, "I wasn't worth paying for." {{Ugh, I mistyped again. Obviously, she was talking about me and not herself. Der.}} She didn't buy me food or feminine hygiene products or anything after that. Life sucked.

11. Which mythological creature are you most like? Why? And if you could be any mythological creature, which would you want to be? Why?  

I'm like the mythical Phoenix, rising from the ashes. During my childhood, after Mom died and The Bitch From Hell came along, my joy was obliterated and I became a completely different person, angry, hostile, and afraid to live life. But I'm overcoming that and becoming ME again, anew. That suits me fine, I guess.

12. Describe your dream library.  

There would be an endless supply of books, and ladders that I could ride down the length of it on, and I would lend them out to only my reponsible friends. ;) And cushy, comfy chairs to curl up in, and a fireplace - away from the books - and a viewing/listening center for audio-visual materials - and a bathroom, and a snack bar. And a dog for a companion, at all times.

13. If you could design an amusement park ride, what would it be like?  

I'm pretty tame when it comes to the rides I ride, but in reality, I'm a little wild and crazy, a little spontaneous, and I embrace the unexpected. So I can't tell you; you'd have to find out for yourself. And no two rides would ever be the same.

14. Do you have any “rules” about food? 

My number one rule is NO MUSTARD. I not only hate it, but I have a phobia about it. I have no idea why.

No mammals; I don't eat 'em.

I was a marine biologist pre-marriage, so I can't eat anything I've studied. I take that on a case-by-case basis. I'll pretty much never eat Littorina ziczac - but who does?

No raw tomatoes; they make me gag.

No mushrooms; I don't do fungus as a general rule.

No baked beans. Even the smell of them makes me puke.

And for the kids: take what you want, but eat what you take! No wasting. I hate waste.

15. What’s your opinion on age differences in relationships?

I say, unless it's statutory rape, then go for it! Who am I to judge? As long as you're both happy and consenting adults, it's fine.

16. What’s something you want to do that you’d be embarrassed to tell other people about?

The only thing I would be embarrassed to tell are some of my sexual exploits, past, present and future. Those don't get written about here. Everything else is fair game, I think.

17. Describe a time/event in your life that you’re nostalgic for.

Of course, I would give anything to have my mom and son back to have and to hold...

Well, this was kind of a depressing post from me today, huh? Sorry about that, but it's real. It's always real.

Have a good week, y'all.