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Entries from August 2013

Saturday 9: Come Monday


Link up here if you're feeling awesome today!

Saturday 9: Come Monday

Thanks to AuntieM4Cabs for recommending the Buffett theme!
1) What will you be doing come Monday (Labor Day)?

Schooling my kids! We homeschool; they're in 3rd, 5th and 7th grades this year! So exciting. 
2) This song is about a performer who is "heading up to San Francisco for the Labor Day weekend show." When you think of San Francisco, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

To be perfectly honest, I think of an abundance of gay men (not that there's anything wrong with that), their choir, and all the rolling hills. I've never been there - is that obvious?! 
3) As he sings, Buffett tells us he's wearing Hush Puppies casual shoes. What's on your feet as you answer these nine questions?

I'm barefoot, as per usual when I'm in the house!
4) So many Jimmy Buffett songs take place on or around the water. When was the last time you were on a boat?

Hmmm... It's been a while. I think the last "boat" I was on was the MS Zuiderdam. We took a Mediterranean cruise five years ago for a long-awaited honeymoon. 
5) Everyone knows Jimmy Buffett can write music, but he also has more than half a dozen books to his credit. What's the last book you read?

I can't remember her name, Kate something, and I think it was called Here We Go Again. I was underwhelmed by it. Not terribly good writing, there.
6) Jimmy's persona is that of a simple beach bum, but in reality he's a conglomerate, with his own beverage company, more than a dozen restaurants and a couple hotels. He's so successful he has several homes, including a luxury mansion in the Hamptons! If you, like Buffett, could just take off and spend Labor Day weekend anywhere, where would you go? Who would you take along?

Well, we live here in Miami now, and we've been down to Key West a few times but haven't revisited South Beach since 2007... so maybe we'll have to go there. ;) I'd go with Hubs and the kiddos, of course!
7) This weekend may offer a golden opportunity for napping and sleeping in. Do you snore?

I must admit that I do... but not as badly as I did with an extra 200 lbs on me! 
8) Labor Day was introduced to celebrate the achievements of the American worker. Yet this Recession has taken its toll on many of us laborers. Sam's brother, a movie projectionist, hasn't worked full-time in his chosen profession in more than a year. Is anyone close to you struggling with unemployment or underemployment? (If so, they are in our thoughts this weekend, too.)

Heh. Yeah, you could say that. My husband has been out of work and actively looking for several months with no luck. We are hurting puppies! :\
9) Onto something happier ... Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of  the new school year. When she was a kid, Samantha was crazy for her brand new box of 96 Crayola Crayons. It even had a sharpener in the back! What do you remember about preparing to go back to school? If you're a parent with school-age kids, are they ready?
I loved getting new school supplies, too. I still do! Even if they're for the kids and not myself, now. We're beyond ready. We started our 2013-2014 homeschool year a month ago. We pretty much go year-round, and since last year was a bomb all the way around, we definitely have to make up for lost time this year.

Aloha Friday: Happy Birthday, Baby!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop on @PamelaMKramer


Link up with A Renaissance Woman if you're questioning the masses today!

My question for you this week is:

If you're an adult with a significant other, how do you celebrate each other's birthdays?

Today, my husband Rob turned 41. I would love to shower him with gifts, but he'll have to settle for a free movie at the local theater and my love and affection, since we be po' right now. ;)

Have a great Labor Day weekend, y'all!


Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: An August August #WW #Wordless

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

I've largely been absent this month, as I've said, so I haven't posted a lot of pictures. Here are a few, in random order, from our August:

002 (2)

We went to a big back-to-school bash at our local YMCA, where the girls received painted-on 'tattoos.'

003 (2)

Chloë got a sparkly blue dolphin.

004 (2)

Sophie was chomping at the bit to get her painting.


She loved her four-leaf clover!


Jack and Muffin cuddling together on the couch - they are best buds.


The other night, Chloë baked a gorgeous banana bread all by herself; all I did was call out the ingredients and measurements to her!


We had a sweet treat the other day; guess what Sophia thinks of doughnuts?


We went to a fun party at a local church and met some great new people. The kids were given balloon animals. Here's Sophia telling what she wanted.

Church Show

There were kids doing bike and skateboard tricks at the church party. Some were really good!


The Manx kittens we rescued in April have grown like weeds! They are still entirely kittenish, though - they get into more trouble than Sophia, if you can believe it!

Planes Movie

I got free tickets to any Disney movie, and Jack is super-fond of planes, so of course I had to take him to see the movie Planes in 3D! He loved it. (As for me? Meh.)

Pepper Vet

Pepper got locked up! He's been spraying, so we're trying to finance a neutering for him, but in the meantime he's living in the master bathroom. He took a trip to the vet recently for a check-up and got a clean bill of health. The vet agreed he's likely a Maine Coon. Our sweet boy! ♥


Sophie and I took a walk to a nearby store, and she spotted this really cool fungus near the sidewalk. I don't know what it was, but it sure looked funky!


There are all kinds of creatures living in our neighborhood, including these HUGE slugs we're always finding on our patio. I nearly stepped on this one - ick!

Kitty Kindle

Lucky has been busy doing school on the Kindle with the kids! ;)


Speaking of which, it's not unusual to find Sophia doing her schoolwork in odd positions! She's such a goose.


The kids are so conscientious about picking up litter when we go for walks. They each had armfuls to deposit in the garbage on another recent walk! I'm so proud of that.


We broke out our school's musical instruments for a jam session recently. The girls played multiple instruments at a time. Can you say 'cacophony'??


Everyone's so excited to start their Spanish education with Rosetta Stone! Woohoo! I bought the Latin American version because, duh, we live in Miami!

UM Alumni

We went to the University of Miami (my alma mater) Alumni Reunion at a Miami bar. It was sort of... eh. This shot of my cocktail is the only one I took, if that says anything. (We only went for the free drinks and eats, I can't lie.)


Jack's been loving all the Planes tie-ins at Lowe's Build & Grow workshops lately!


I hit up some school supply sales for the kids, and they had such a blast discovering everything I'd bought. We are set for this school year!


My hair is growing, slowly but surely. I've decided, for the first time in my life, to grow out my bangs. They're right in my eyes currently; I need to get some clips and pin them back. That's not the budget right now, though, so it's really annoying!


My friend J is a car seat guru, so I had her recommend a new one to me for Sophia, who used and abused the hell out of her last one! She suggested one that sells for less than $13 at Walmart, which of course made me SO happy. Soap loves the design!

Flower pot

I had Sophie do an arts-and-crafts project that Chloë later joined: they painted the inside of empty jars to make colorful flower pots. A fun activity!


After that, I gave them crepe paper and other materials to fashion some flowers for their new pots. It was pretty awesome, and I wish I'd taken some photos of those before the girls dispersed them throughout the house. I think they lasted in the actual pots for a total of an hour.

Welp, that's it from me for this morning. Hope you enjoyed!


An Open Letter Of Thanks To #Campbells

Dear Campbells,

I tweeted you on Twitter recently about my experience at a local Publix grocery store about a month ago: I had purchased some Campbell's soups, and when I got home to open one of them (because broccoli cheese soup is YUM), it was gross and moldy inside.

Someone from your company promptly responded to my tweet, with an offer to make it right if I'd message back with my mailing address. So, of course, I did, though I'd already gotten my dollar back for the soup and no one was hurt in the process.

I didn't really know what to expect, but what I got in the mail was three $2 coupons and one $1 coupon for any items in the Campbell's family of products.

I was extremely grateful for the $7 in Campbell's products, and I want you to know why.  I was able to go to Walmart a day or two later and get a carton of Swanson chicken broth, two Homestyle cans of Campbell's soup, and a can of Cream of Chicken condensed soup. Not only did I get this for free, but I got change back since Walmart allows overage (26¢, to be exact).

Why did this mean so much to me? you may be wondering. And I'm going to tell you, so you can understand the extent of my sincerest gratitude.

My husband retired from 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy in May of this year. He went on terminal leave in March, and we moved from Virginia to Florida at that time. He has been searching for a job ever since, here in Florida. We are a family of five, with three kids under 12, so there are plenty of mouths to feed.

Once the Active Duty pay stopped and retirement pay kicked in on June 1, reality hit, and it hit hard.  Military pay rates are available for public knowledge, so if you want to know, look for retirement pay for an enlisted sailor at E6 with 20 years of service.

It's not a lot. It's really paltry, and a little bit shameful and pathetic, if you ask me. But you didn't, so I won't dwell on my feelings about it. Suffice it to say, we can pay our rent but really don't make enough money for anything else. In August, for example, I had exactly $100 to pay for food for the entire month.

In the middle of this current job hunt, my husband's previously-harmless brain tumor started exhibiting symptoms that necessitated several hospital stays and five treatments of Cyberknife Radiation Surgery. He's fine now, thankfully, but it was quite scary there for a while. Our insurance no longer covers co-pays, so we can't afford his follow-up MRI to see how the tumor has changed since the Cyberknife treatments, but we're confident things are going well in that head of his.

This is a long story, I know, but I wanted to tell you all of this to illustrate how very important that simple-to-you-but-not-to-us gesture was, of sending $7 in coupons, during this time of dire need for our family. We are so grateful for your help, since you provided a meal for each of my kids' hungry bellies.

I thank you, and my husband thanks you.



Sunday Stealing: Young At Heart Meme

So I'm taking a break from my crocheting to participate for the first time in weeks. You should all feel privileged.

Let's go.

1. Are you a young heart or an old soul?

Oh, I'm definitely young at heart. Tell my arthritis that - it doesn't belong here!

2. What makes someone a best friend?

Someone who is loyal to a fault, a kindred spirit, and beyond what is reasonably intellectual is my BFF ;)

3. What Christmas present do you remember the most?

My CD of the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had a Million Dollars" that Rob gave me when he asked me to marry him

4. Tell me a movie/song/TV show/playbook that has changed your life.

Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" defined the last decade for me, way much more so than it did when it was first released.


5. Name one physical feature that you like about yourself and one that you dislike.

I love all of my facial features - my big, round eyes, my tiny little nose, my full lips - except for my chin. That is, I have no chin...

6. Can money buy happiness?

What's that they say? Money can't buy happiness, but it's a lot easier to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle? Eh, but no, it can't. Happiness comes from within.

7. What’s more important in a relationship: physical attraction or emotional connection? 

The emotional connection is more lasting, but what is there if you don't have an immediate physical attraction?

8. Is there anyone close to you that you know you can’t trust? 

No... or else they wouldn't be close to me!

9. Where was your favorite place to go when you were a little kid? 

Inside my own mind. It was the only safe spot.

10. Have you spent a night in the hospital?

I've spent many a night in the hospital. Except for the mental hospital, I rather enjoyed it.

11. Do you enjoy being only with 1-2 friends or with a large group of people? 


I prefer a smaller group, unless I really know everyone there very well. And even then...

12. Have you ever been bullied? 

I have, yes. My bully's name was Sue Gullo. She was a huge bitch. I looked her up on Facebook once. I think she's, like, some kind of corrections officer or something. That's kind of telling, no?

13. If your partner wanted to wait until marriage until having sex, would you stay in that relationship?

Of course, duh

14. Do you believe in God? 

Absolutely, I do.

15. Out of all the social networks in the world why use a blog? 

My blog is my own little corner of the cybersphere, where I can say or do or think anything I want, and I can ban anyone who doesn't behave! Ha.

16. What is your quirkiest habit?

I'm hard-pressed to name just one. I don't know...  I turn on and off my headlights about three times every time I get in the car, whether it's daylight out or not.

17. What is normal? Are you normal?

Normal is not something I choose to be, which isn't saying much, since I couldn't be if I tried.

18. Someone close to you is dying! You have the choice to let this person live for 10 more years but if you do you cause the death of 10 strangers.

I'm not that selfish.

19. What is one thing you could never forgive?

Hurting a child

20. When you’re alone in your own home, do you talk out loud to yourself?

Oh yes, I do, and usually a mile-a-minute

21. Who is your favorite super hero?

Superman. Christopher Reeve AS Superman, namely

22. Could you be in a long distance relationship?

I could; I have done that once or twice. The last time, I married the guy after two months of that crap.

23. Do you know what makes you happy?

Lots of things make me happy; I'm thankful to have discovered that.

24. Who was your first crush?

Dennis Boyce, in 3rd or 4th grade... he was soooo cute!!

25. Where is your favorite place to go out and eat?

There's an exclusive, upscale club in Norfolk, Virginia, that my husband I went to a couple of times. I'd go back to Virginia in a heartbeat just for the chance to go to that place again!

26. Are you an early bird or night owl?

I'm nocturnal.

27. Give me an unpopular opinion you have.

Okay, let's see... I don't believe Creationism and Evolution are mutually exclusive.

28. Do you believe in giving kids medals and trophies for participation?

No. I'm all for helping children develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, but I think that practice is counter-productive. Kids need to learn to crave intrinsic rewards, not symbols of their mediocrity.

29. What song best describes your life right now?

"Get a haircut, and get a real job," maybe??

30. How do you express your creativity?

I craft. I make. I create.

31. Describe your neighborhood. 

Far better than the last one

32. Give me the story of your life in 6 words. 

The Phoenix rising from the ashes


Six Word Saturday


So I haven't done this one in ages, but since I've been largely absent from the blogosphere this summer, I'm making up for it by doing all the memes I can think to join at the moment.

My SIX WORDS for this week, therefore, are:


Yeah, maybe you can hear the frustration in my author-y "voice," because Hubs retired months ago and has been looking for a job - any damn job, he even applied at McDonalds - to support his family. That supposed movement to hire all the retired military vets apparently skipped over us, because of all the applications he's put in, there have been NO bites. And this is a brilliant, highly capable man, folks.

Yeah. I'm stressed.

Anyway, that's it from me for this post. If you have a line on a job, especially one here in South Florida or that will pay SOMETHING, holla, m'kay? Thanks.


Saturday 9: Easy Lover

Link up here if you're playing along today!
1) This song is about a heartbreaker who just can't commit. Have you ever fallen for an "easy lover?"
Oh, gosh, yes. Once or twice. "Heartbreaker" is really the right word here!

2) This song is one of Crazy Sam's "earwigs." Each time she hears it, it bores in and stays in her head forever! (Hear it here, if you dare!) Do you have a song like that?
I have lots of songs that do that. I find that when I really can't get a song out of my head, it helps to write down the lyrics. Then, POOF! they're gone.
3) Both Phil Collins and Philip Bailey* have stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Have you ever visited Hollywood?
Actually, yes, with my daughter Chloë in 2007. She's an on-again, off-again actress/model and was there to compete. She did well!
4) Hollywood is the movie capital of the world. What's the last movie you saw in the theater?
I took my son Jack to see Planes last weekend. We had free tickets, which is good, because the movie wasn't that great. I'm glad I didn't pay to see it!
5) Phil Collins was a child actor in his native England, appearing onstage in musicals like Oliver! Can you think of another child performer who went on to entertainment industry success as an adult?
Sure. Drew Barrymore came to the top of my mind in an instant, but there are plenty of others, certainly.
6) Philip Bailey joined Earth, Wind & Fire while still in college, so he's been a performer throughout his working life, as well. Have you ever been tempted to try your hand at show biz?
It has crossed my mind once or twice. I would love to sing for a living, or even just in public without having a panic attack, but several instances of strep throat in 6th grade left my voice unreliable at best. I don't think I'd be a good actor.
7) Is there a profession that you never, under any circumstances, want to try?
Anything that involves sitting in an office, at a desk, for hours on end, day in and day out - or worse, a cubicle. Ugh. I cannot bear the thought of such tenacious drudgery.
8) What are you looking forward to right now?
Hubs retired from the Navy a few months ago and has been looking for work ever since. To say things have gotten "tight" would be an extreme understatement. I'm looking forward to having some sort of decent, reliable income again!
9) Do you suffer from trypanophobia (fear of needles/injections)? Or can you bravely donate blood or get a shot, without freaking out? 
I don't suffer from it. Since my blood type is O-neg, I donate as frequently as I physically can, and it doesn't bother me. I do have to look away while they poke me, though - those are some fat needles!

Our New Homeschool Year

We officially started the 2013-2014 school year at Sweet Pea Academy last Monday, July 29th. I'm so excited as we are trying out a lot of new curricula like Grammaropolis, Adaptive Curriculum, Rosetta Stone, and lots more that I got for a great discount or free on either the Homeschool Buyers' Co-op or CurrClick.

I also get to review Vocabulary Spelling City for the other homeschoolers out there, and I can't wait to see the new improvements to the site!



I've been given a Premium Membership to for a candid, personal, online review.

VocabularySpellingCity helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as UnscrambleHangman, WordFind, and Crossword Puzzle.  Parents can create their own  spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site,  or use any of dozens of free teaching resources on topics such as  Analogies and Syllables. Be sure to come back in three  weeks to read about my experience.

There might be more free memberships available for bloggers. If you're interested, find out how you can review



Sunday Stealing: Massive Alphabet Meme Parts 1 & 2

Link up here if you've got nothing better to do!


The Letter A 
Are you agnostic?  NOPE
What is your age?  I'll be 37 in a month.
What annoys you?  When I've got a jillion things to do and am unmotivated to do anything at all.

The Letter B
Do you like bacon? Like it, yes, but I don't eat mammals.
When is your birthday? 9.8.76 - no lie
Who is your best friend? Dr. Lisa

The Letter C 
What is your favorite candy? Whatever I'm in the mood for that day
Who is your crush? I'm crushing on my hubs
When was the last time you cried? Thursday night at church; I was moved.

The Letter D
Do you daydream? All. The. Time.
What is your favorite kind of dog? I want a Chihuahua.
What day of the week is it? It's barely Monday morning.

The Letter E
How do you like your eggs? I grew up eating sunny side up but now I eat them scrambled. It's faster and easier. And less gooey :P
Have you ever been in the emergency room? Only about 900 times. We live there.
What’s the easiest thing to ever do? fart

The Letter F
Have you ever flown in a plane? Dozens of times
Do you use fly swatters? I try not to kill anything that's not biting me.
Have you ever used a foghorn? don't think so

The Letter G
Do you chew gum? very rarely
Ever tried gazpacho? not yet, but I'm hankering to try
Are you a giver or taker? a little of both, I guess

The Letter H
How are you? fair-to-middlin'
What’s your height? 62"
What color is your hair? reddish.ish.

The Letter I
What is your favorite ice cream? chocolate peanut butter
Have you ever ice skated? lots
Do you play an instrument? i took organ lessons. i still play a mean organ ;P

The Letter J 
What is your favorite jelly bean? no. gross.
Do you wear jewelry? engagement ring, wedding ring, nose ring, 'baby' necklace every day. I infrequently switch it up.
Have you heard a really hilarious joke? of course.

The Letter K 
Whom do you want to kill? no.
Do you want kids? had four, have three. :\
Where did you go to kindergarten? near NYC

The Letter L
Are you laid-back?  God, no
Do you lie? everyone does occasionally. yes.
Do you love anyone? lots of folks

The Letter M
What is your favorite movie? Can't decide
Do you still watch Disney movies? I'm a big fan.
Do you like mangoes? Not a big fan at all.

The Letter N 
Do you have a nickname? You're looking at it.
What is your favorite number? 64
Do you prefer night or day? night

The Letter O
What is your one wish? satisfaction
Are you an only child? nope
Do you wish this year was over? no!

The Letter P 
What is one fear that you are most paranoid about?  losing another one of my babes :(
What personality trait would you look for in someone you wanted to date? smart & funny

The Letter Q 
Are you quick to judge people? sometimes, not always

The Letter R
Do you think you are always right? I know I am ;P
Do you watch reality T.V.? I don't watch ANY TV
What is a good reason to cry? being sad?

The Letter S 
Do you prefer sun or rain? whichever is needed
Do you like snow? Hell no
What is your favorite season? summer!

The Letter T 
What time is it? 12:11 AM
What time did you wake up? 9:00 AM
When was the last time you slept in a tent? 2-3 years ago

The Letter U
Are you wearing underwear? yep
Do you open your eyes when under water?  if i'm not wearing contacts, sure

The Letter V 
What is the worst veggie? i've never tried okra
Where do you want to go on vacation? Australia
What was your last family vacation together? May, to Orlando

The Letter W 
What is your worst habit? i'm lazy & self-indulgent
Where do you live? near Miami

The Letter X 
Have you ever had an X-ray? yep. lots.
Have you ever seen the X-Games? nope.
Do you own or have you ever played a xylophone? i've played.

The Letter Y
Do you like the color yellow? i love all the colors.
What year were you born in? see above
What do you yearn for most? see above! (contentment)

The Letter Z
What is your Zodiac Sign? quintessential Virgo
Do you believe in the Zodiac? meh no, not really
What is your favorite zoo animal? elefantes