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Kinda Wordless Wednesday: What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?

Link up here if you're (any degree of) Wordless today!


We've become quite the locavores lately, shopping at the nearby fishmonger's shop and stopping at various side-of-the-road barely-speaking-English produce stands in recent weeks. I love it! Here are some things we've cooked up from our delicious, healthy, local scores:


I made homemade sesame seed buns to go with the turkey sliders I made into patties, along with yummy skin-on baby red potato salad and cilantro pickles that weren't so bad, but not nearly as good as the dill pickles I made the following week!


These silicone cupcake holders are so convenient, and they cut back on waste, which I love! I used them recently to make all kinds of tasty pumpkin and various fruit muffins.


Rob's decided, again, to join me in not eating meat that rainforests are destroyed to bring to us carnivorous Americans, but we had to use up the beef and pork in the deep freezer first. He made these barbecued ribs for himself and Jack last week.


Okay, so I didn't make these VEEV VitaFrute margaritas, but they are organic, so they'll do for this post! I got "perked" on Klout to try these out, and whoo! They are good but extremely strong. Couldn't drive for the rest of the day, for sure!


I had all kindsa plans for the fruits and veggies from the roadside stand, but Chloë saw it all in front of her and declared she wanted to make a salad. Well, who was I to stop her? I did try to convince her to squeeze some lemon juice on it so it wouldn't brown, but she was bound and determined to eat it all before that happened. You and I both know that the next day, there was plenty left, and it had all turned so brown that no one would eat it. Big bummer. :\


I served up this oatmeal, apple and I-forget-what crisp with vanilla ice cream to Rob the night I made it. Heh, I couldn't find the ice cream scooper, so I had to melonball the ice cream. Silliness.


All the organic eggs from the chickens at the produce stand gave us humongous double-yolk eggs, so they were worth the price I paid for them. This week, they're chintzy in comparison, so I'm a little disappointed to have paid the same amount. Not terribly so, though, because they're still quite yummish - and I know who laid them!


I meant to make clams with linguini, but what I really ended up with was mussels and angel hair spaghetti. Oh well, close enough!


I was inspired by a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine to make some rustic, artisanal pizzas, including this heart-shaped one with fresh mozzarella. It was definitely a winner, so I've got more dough rising for another round as we 'speak'!


Another of the artisan pizzas used zucchini, red onions, garlic and cilantro - all locally sourced. I loved it, but it was a bit dry, so I dipped it in an olive oil and marinara mixture to make it go down more easily. Mmmm!


The third pizza of that batch was for dessert, and Rob really liked it. I used fresh slices of lemon, along with minced dried apricots atop a pineapple base. Really good.


Chloë and I picked up all the ingredients for these shrimp egg rolls, but I messed up a little bit. I forgot the water chestnuts entirely! I burned the oil and therefore one batch of the rolls! And I did not enjoy the shrimp in them. Oh, and I pureed the carrots and bean sprouts together, which turned them into what my dad would call "La Mush." Next time, I'll know better what to do. Egads.


Tuesday night's dinner was helped along by a food delivery from Hello Fresh and turned out to be superb: Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Avocado... only, my pouch rejected the quinoa, and I couldn't eat but a few measly bites. Darn!


Sophia helped me make this delicious Creme Brûlée, topped with blackberries, for dessert. I couldn't find my ramekins, so we had to run to Goodwill and spend $2 on "new" ones. Guess I better make it a few more times to get my money's worth, huh? If the kids get their way, I will - soon.

Thanks for stopping by!



Friday Fragments, Version 10.25.13

Mrs. 4444, keeper of the fragments, would love for you to link up here with the rest of us!
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We finally got around to doing our Banana greenhouse project from DuneCraft, which we redeemed for in August or September from our Labels For Education account. (We homeschool, so our school can benefit from this wonderful program. Not so Boxtops For Education, boo...)
It was a really cool project, because not only did it involve the science aspect of planting our li'l terrarium, but the instructions included lots of information about the history of bananas. We needed to do math to set things up properly, and everyone read a bit aloud from the paper, too, to make for a Language Arts inclusion. We learned a lot from just the planting, and there are still many more lessons to learn before we're finished. We enjoyed it so well, I would love to get more DuneCraft projects for us to do!
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My friend Saritah posted a recipe for a pumpkin roll on Facebook yesterday, and it looked really good, but I didn't keep the link. (Besides, sharing recipes on social media sites is usually wrong, so I did that on purpose.) I couldn't get it out of my head, though, so I finally did an Internet search for a similar recipe and found one that required ingredients I already had in the house.
Oh, my gosh, y'all. This cake was so delicious, I woke up early this morning and ate the second half that we didn't finish last night all by myself. Which was quite piggy, I know, but damn! Everyone else lamented it so much that I have second one chilling in the icebox right this second. You've gotta try it!
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And finally, I am a big lover of my Crockpot when there's no time for dinner. Now, I can't claim not to have time lately, but I can promise you I often forget to stop doing school long enough to make dinner! I had Rob pull out a package of pork chops the other day, and last night, I threw it into the Crock after looking up yet another recipe.
Since I don't eat most meat, and definitely not any four-legged creatures, I can't test many of my own dishes. Apparently, though, this recipe was a huge hit. In fact, Rob kept sneaking pork chops out of the fridge all day today - and Sophia asked for a second helping at dinner! (She's not a meat lover.) Thankfully, it was a ten-pack, and I'd doubled the recipe. 
Around six or seven Thursday evening, tummies started rumbling, so I was grateful to have that part of dinner already done. I just warmed it back up in the oven and quickly fixed up a box of cornbread stuffing and some Green Giant green beans with almonds. Dinner was ready in seconds! This isn't an advertisement for anything; I'm just so glad it only took five minutes to pull together our dinner.
Tomorrow, I'll have a chicken breast recipe in the Crockpot. I haven't chosen it yet; any suggestions?
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Welp, that's all I've got for today. Time to go serve up that second pumpkin roll! Okay, okay, it'll be good tomorrow, though. ;)

Susie Homemaker Visits The Garden


Last time I published a real blahggy post here was in the middle of Rob's brain surgery saga - at the climax of this situation. He was in the University of Miami Hospital in uptown Miami (der), a 50-minute drive from home. On a good day. At 0400, with no traffic. At least I was getting good mpg when I went back and forth every day, sometimes twice. He hasn't had surgery yet - that'll be this Wednesday afternoon - so I'll be back with more updates on that soon.


Over the last weekend in June, whilst Rob was in the UM hospital and the kiddos were away at their new bff's house for a few days, I got busy at home. I hadn't been much more than a lump for the entire month prior, but when the going gets tough, the tough ... I don't know. I'm not really one of those people. But I got going. I did umpteen million loads of laundry, unpacked boxes (we're making progress finally, after a long and early stall), and decided to put the girls' IKEA dressers together after we visited that blockbuster Swedish store back in, oh, May. Or was it April? I can scarcely remember. Lucky, the kitten Rob rescued from under the dumpster, decided to help me.


It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears - and two hours - but I finally screwed the last screw and got those mothers assembled. This was pre-labeling; I wrote all the girls' clothing categories on the bins they'll go in and yes, I miscounted the number of green bins I needed. One more each. Whoops.


Here's Hunter, Lucky's littermate, being oh, so cute on my lap. They have grown so much and are in a terribly fun, playful stage right now.


On Sunday, while I was up at the hospital with Rob, the kids came back from their extended playdate. Our friends Erica and Kevin, and their daughter Kira, took excellent care of our babies, and they are still talking about what fun they had.


At home that night -and pretty much every night since - nobody could sleep, so we did a craft from Kiwi Crate. I had gotten a few months' subscription for Jack and Sophia TWO Christmases ago, but we never had the chance to do them. They did one once, when we first got them, and could not wait to dive back into the crates to see what further explorations waited within them.


We spread out all the materials for the crate. This one was all about plants and gardening. Sophia's being my Vanna White here, modeling the goods.


Jack and I teamed up to make window planters for squash and bean seeds. He really enjoyed this activity and asked a thousand and one questions as we went.


Meanwhile, the girls' half of the Crate was to decorate with clay a couple of cardboard pots, and then "plant" flowers and veggies in them. They decided this would be Daddy's homecoming gift the following day, when he was finally released from the hospital. So sweet.


Meanwhile, Jack's cat, Muffin, cozied up to some craft felt in a rare display of affection for anything - or anyone - other than her boy.


And I very messily decorated my nails in a patriotic display for the upcoming Independence Day. My hands have been so shaky lately, so it turned out like crap, but I still got compliments somehow.


On Wednesday the 3rd, Rob went in for an angiogram of his brain, to make sure where stuff was and see if everything was good to go for surgery this week. While we waited, I picked up a local parenting magazine and discovered a full calendar of free events - for every single day - in this area. Whoop, whoop! Just what I'd been looking for. We found out that just that very day, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden nearby was having a free day. It normally would have cost us about $85 to get in as a family, so this was exciting. As soon as Rob got out of the hospital, we headed straight over. You guys - it was beautiful.


On our way over to a recommended exhibit, we passed this small waterfall. The garden was so lush and ... lush. That's the word. Exquisite. Breathtaking.


This was German bamboo and captured the girls' attention for several minutes. They loved that it was smooth and waxy on one surface - the side you can see - and soft and fuzzy on the other, not to mention the vivid colors.


You can't really tell from the picture, but this lizard that ran by us was SO huge, at first I thought it was a small iguana. It quickly ran to this dark spot on a nearby wall for camouflage, so I didn't get the greatest picture of it, but fo'realz, it was large.


Walking along, we passed laboratories where scientists were busily working. In these glass bottles, they were growing all manner of orchid varieties. Reminds me of the lab at Mote, only Red Tide grew there instead. Not exactly the same!


I caught Sophia as she was ducking behind this huge elephant ear leaf to scare me. Haha, kiddo, joke's on you!


Finally, we reached our destination: the exotic butterfly exhibit. This is what it looked like as soon as we stepped inside, like an overgrown jungle with winged creatures flitting this way and that. Only you can't see them, because most were too tiny, and the rest were too fast.


Once in a while, a few would stop and deign to let me take their picture.


Sophia tried like the dickens to get one to land on her finger, but she remained unsuccessful. Meanwhile, a girl nearby managed to get one to land, and she was center stage for a long moment. How beautiful.


The big, vibrant, indigo flutterbyes were too fast for me to photograph with my iPhone, so you'll have to settle for these guys.


There were chrysalis upon chrysalis behind the glass where, I'm sure, it was even more sweltering than it was in the main part of the exhibit. I was starting to get faint.


The next window had several butterflies already emerged - and more emerging as we watched. It was tres cool. After that, I was growing more faint, and I had my hand up to take another picture when Chloë whacked my arm and knocked the iPhone into a pond. It sank right to the bottom, and my heart with it! Oh noes! Rob jumped down to reach in, but he couldn't manage, so another fella did the job for him. I got my phone back, but it was so dead. (Thankfully, it came back to life later that evening - thank you, Otterbox!!)

And then I very nearly did pass out from overheating, so I had to get OUT of there, sit down, and put my head between my legs. Whew! That felt awful. Rob had to help ME back to the car, which was a little bit like the blind leading the blind. I was sad to leave so quickly, but it was much too freakin' hot for my thinker to stay.


That night, having recovered, I decided to put my homemaking skills back to use. Truth be told, I've been a bit manic since Rob went in the hospital, so I've been keeping busy in between the inevitable crash-and-burn marathon sleeping sessions. So anyway, I have been cooking. Everything. Literally. Everything.


That night, it was chicken burritos. I have stashed mix after mix, packet after packet, and they have just been multiplying like rabbits. So I decided to whittle down the herd and mixed up some fajita mix with the chicken tits I'd taken out the night before. So good, especially on the tomato tortillas - yum!


And then it was breakfast in the Crockpot. I diced potatoes,


and I threw them in the pot with some ham steak. No, no, Paula Deen.



So that was the mish-mash at night. I stayed up ALL night to make sure it turned out and didn't get ruined. I wanted Rob to have a good breakfast since he'd eaten so well in the hospital, y'know?


Eight hours later, this is what I found. It looked... okay in the pot. Actually kind of yummy, but since I don't eat piggies, I didn't try any.


It looked icky to me on the plate. But I woke Rob up to check his vitals eat breakfast, and he not only ate the whole plate, he asked for more! And ate another huge plateful. And then he went back to sleep. Apparently the girls liked the breakfast bake, too. Hm. Not bad. At the same time, I cooked chicken legs and potatoes in the Dutch oven. Manic, I'm telling you. (That was good, but the smell of the two things together made me wanna hurl. Seriously.)


The next morning, I took a selfie for my new profile pic. Look, my hair is growing! Slowly, but surely. Maybe I should rub the rest of the eyelash serum all over my head to make it grow??


Meanwhile, Rob's hair is growing like weeds. I hate him. Not really.


And little miss blondie let me braid her hair. She never lets me play with her hair.


Jack's been so excited to watch his window garden grow. He drowned the squash (bottom garden) but his beans are quite hardy. My squash is just starting to show!


After watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, Sophia caught a toad. She can catch anything, even when we tell her, "you'll never catch it! It's too fast!" It's like they jump right into her hands.


Chloë (whose face is boobooed because she and Sophie had an outdoor collision), try as she might, has trouble catching anything, so essentially Sophia catches them for her and then hands them over!


And then, while Chloë was holding the big toad, Sophia went and caught another, smaller one! Anything, she can catch!


Last night (Monday the 8th), we had a pineapple, so I tried hacking off the top to use our new coring tool on the rest. I could NOT hack it (sorry), so Rob had to step in. Here's me, playing the part of Carmen Miranda.


The tool worked eh, halfway decently, but we lost a lot of piña meat that way. I don't know about that thing, but at least I didn't pay anything for it!


We also had strawberries, so I just mixed them together and fed that to the kids after our Old El Paso-sponsored dinner. Sophia's favorite thing on the planet is a strawberry; she asks for them every single day of her life. No lie!


The kids devoured the fruit. They ate half that bowl!


I lightly sugared the remainder and decided to make fruit tartlets with them. I had made chocolate chip mini pies the other day, and my crust turned out awesome then, so I confidently made - I thought - the same crust. It was much too thick and doughy. Eh. I'll use my MIL's recipe next time. I hear it's the best!


(Proof of the chocolate chip mini pies. The parchment paper slips worked perfectly to lift them out without having to dump them over, but I forgot to do it with the fruit tarts. I'll not forget again!)


I whipped the cream myself for the mini pies, but it was gone by the time I made the fruit tarts. I'd made a bunch of jello for the kids to snack on, and they ate it down with the remainder of the whipped cream. Too bad for me, but good for my figure, because I love that stuff!


I also turned out two loaves of bread last night - one I made by hand, and one from the bread machine. The handmade bread is way better. Goes to show!


The tarts, doughy crust and all, turned out beautifully. Sophia has probably eaten three-quarters of them herself. Well, the inside. She's been leaving the crust for others. Humph. I won't botch that operation again!

(Yeah, I probably will.)


And finally, after all that, we did another Kiwi Crate craft at night. The kids are feigning their excitement, but it's true they really were about that delighted when I suggested it!


The first half of the crate had them making an ocean in which to go fishing! I love that the crates come with everything - except scissors and water - needed to do the activities. Brilliance. Chloë's playing Vanna this time.


The girls love to color and decorate and do all things crafty, while Jack doesn't, so they took about nine times longer to design their fish and other sea creatures than he did. He went back to his Kindle and waited.


They did a really good job on their "ocean." I was especially impressed with a sea turtle that Sophia made.



Finally, it was time to go fishing. They used Velcro tabs to catch the fish with the rods, and it worked well. Such fun!



Jack struggled a bit more than the girls with this, but eventually he got it. The Kiwi Crates are a bit young for the kids now, but it still helped with their manual dexterity. And the second half is always more educational than the crafty one.


This time, the kids had to make observations about various objects in salt vs. fresh water. Even Rob joined in with the discussion about that!


Jack would say, "This is boring," every time he guessed wrong, but then, "This is fun!" every time he guessed right. Typical!


And finally, some obligatory kitteny cuteness. Lucky and Hunter are so adorable, I can hardly stand it!

Whew! That was a long post. You deserve a medal if you read the whole thing!


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!


I Don't Give A Crap

First order of business for this first post of January:

Happy 1

We watched the ball drop via online streaming, did our annual husband-and-wife-new-year-smooch, went outside with the kidlets to bang pots and pans and ensure the neighbors' hatred (not really) (gosh, I hope not), eat some snackies, and that was our annual tradition.

So... I have good news! I've spent the last, oh, 19 days something like this:


Hehe. That makes me laff. But as of TODAY, it seems, I can proclaim myself well. As in, completely, 100%, all entirely much better!! Whatever was amiss, is now, um, miss? Unamiss?


Woot!!! Way to ring in 2012!! Like you wanted to know, but I haven't gone ONCE all day (Saturday), let alone unintentionally in my bloomers. *ahem* (Did I just say that out loud? What can I say? I was sick, y'all.)


And also, Rob was in the backyard and found these carrots in our garden, and we ate them, and they tasted so sweet and delicious! At the end of December! Crazysauce!

So I spent much of the day hexipuffing away and racking up Swagbucks "watching" videos, but tomorrow, New Years Day (okay, so like, today), I'm going to finally get off my arse and CLEAN and un-wreck this house. Oh, the hexipuffs:


There are 64 there, but I've just cast on for #66... and lots more to go! I love the total randomness of the color scheme. Never did done that before, nope nope nope!

So. 2012. More tomorrow, I've got a hexipuff on the needles and it's begging for finishing. I resolve to do that before I sleep!

Happy New Year to you all, and to all a good night. Righty-oh!


A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama


Y'all did know that's, like, a palindrome, right? That's not news?

Anyway. Not where I'm headed.  Nor is this collage of silly pictures I took of myself early this morning when I meant to be writing up plans and writing down lists:


I love Instagram.

I also seriously LOVE these Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers, which are so good I can't stand it. I got a case of them from Moms Meet to share with my mommy group today, but I've literally eaten like 10 ½-oz bags myself since they arrived. They're addictive! Perfectly crunchy, wonderful texture, delicious flavor, and just the right touch of salt. Mmm. I can definitely endorse this product! Bonus: They're gluten-free, for those of you needing such a product (but they do contain soy, though it's low on the ingredient list.)


The plan. The plans. That's why we're all gathered here together today. And no, we're not moving to Panama. Or Thailand. Or Florida, Or Hawai'i, or Australia (boo-hoo). Nor are we going to live on a boat.

No, we have decided that, all things considered, those ideas just aren't going to work out for us, right now. Maybe in the future, but not right now.

Instead, here's what:


Rob'll retire in about a year and a half, after 20 years of service to our great country.


Then a lot of this will happen. Hopefully our shithole house will sell sooner rather than later, and we can high-tail it out of here shortly after retirement.

...After which, we'll end up here, this being a marina in downtown San Diego. Okay maybe not *exactly* here, but somewhere in this neck of the woods. And by "neck" I mean Southern California, and by "woods" I mean United States. It all depends on where we can find affordable (please, God, let it be four-bedroom) housing in a safe place, but the closer to SD, the better.

Now you may be asking, in your grammatically-incorrect way that I love so much:


Well, there are a few reasons.

#1. Process of elimination. After deciding we couldn't expatriate for medical reasons (my bipolar disorder and Jack's growth hormone deficiency, chiefly), our list narrowed down to Hawai'i, the Florida Keys, or San Diego. It had to be somewhere warm but NOT the Deep South, and I didn't have much interest in the Southwest, either. No particular reason, just, meh.



The whole reason Rob got into the Navy in the first place was for the G.I. bill, so he could go to college, never intending to do 20 years. But that's neither here nor there anymore, and now he's ready to get that degree. Between the GI bill and Voc Rehab, he hopes to get his B.S. in Nursing, become an R.N., and then continuing ed. to become a Nurse Practitioner. I think that's great. I'm all for it.

So why San Diego?

a. Proximity to MTFs (Military Treatment Facilities) to minimize our out-of-pocket post-Active Duty medical expenses. (Our prescriptions add up, dudes.)

b. Proximity to family, vs. Hawai'i. As Rob pointed out, "our parents aren't getting any younger..."

c. Quality and quantity of accredited institutions of higher learning, vs. the sole Florida Keys Community College (which, by the way, is supposed to be competitive for nursing, but then he'd have to commute to Miami after two years, and .... nah)

# 3. San-Diego-with-Kids-Guide-portfolio-620x200

There's so much for families to do there! We've heard lots of great things from friends and fellow military members who've lived there, so it will afford many opportunities for exploration, discovery, and fun.

So that's pretty much the whole ball of wax, in a nutshell. Maybe we'll be able to live out Plan B of The Retirement Dream, which includes


Oh. When I first read that, I thought it said "OUR," not "ORR." Heh. Whatever. Sorry I stole your banner, Orr Family Farm.

We'd love some of this:


because we go through, and desire plenty of fresh, healthy, organic:


If the place is big enough, we might even have a goat or even a cow, for milk, and cheese, and yogurt, and all sorts of things I'd learn to make.


Dang. Just dang.


And hopefully a big, beautiful vegetable garden will keep us occupied in the growing season (or is it always the growing season there?), so with the chickens and goat/cow and veggies and whatever else, we can be pretty self-sufficient and organic, food-wise.


In the dream/fantasy, I'd also get an alpaca or several, to raise for the fiber.


Of course, I could either sell the fiber outright, or learn to spin it. Or both. Yes, probably both.

And I could learn to dye it with natural materials, and I would produce the most beautiful yarns.

Adjective cartoon

And of course, I'd keep homeschooling the kids, and they'd learn so much from the farming and the husbandry and the learning. All the learning, every day, from doing. And behold, it would be very, very good.


And in a perfect world, I'd have her body.

So it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Whether any of it does, whether it all does, and we get to grow old together and live happily ever after.


That's the plan, Stan!


P.S. I forgot to mention one final "plus" that San Diego had going for it: proximity to

HollywoodSign ,

should Chloë (or even Sophia, but never Jack) decide to pursue that avocation after all.

P.P.S. Today is Rob's 39th birthday. Happy birthday, Rabbi/Rupert/Ribbon/Rabbit/Robin/Ruben and everything else I call you!


In Lieu Of Fireworks

We had severe thunderstorms all afternoon and evening, so our annual trek to the park for the Independence Day festivities and fireworks display was canceled, much to my dismay. It's my favorite holiday, so I was more than a little disappointed.

So instead, the boys did boy stuff, and the girls and I filled our Dia de Independence with crafts. To-wit:

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These were the quickly stapled-together allowance pouches I made for Sunday's family meeting. I've been making them something different out of paper each time, but I wanted something a bit more permanent. Yes, I stapled felt!


Today, the girls and I went back and rectified that situation. They don't have a great deal of sewing experience, so this was new to them. Stitching up the sides, trying to copy Mommy's small, more even lines, proved to be a bit of a challenge. I won't tell you which sister did what - but only because I can't even remember!


Chloë and I worked on this for the front door late last night, but it never ended up making it outside, because of the rain. So our star-spangled wreath hangs on the coat closet door in the hallway.


Sophia wanted to get in on the crafting fun, so I showed them how to make these toilet paper roll critters that I saw on the trilingual (!) El hada de papel blog a while back and filed away for a rainy day. Sophia's still tweaking hers, and I imagine we'll have plenty more of these in the future. I think I might have to do these with my Daisies sometime, too.


I ran out to Michaels and got some casting resin to make a bunch of these, which I'll turn into more magnets and thumbtacks for my Etsy shop. They may not sell, but I don't care, because I'm enjoying making them anyway. And I can always give them away. (There are lots more curing on my floor right now, but they're stuck to the paper and don't look pretty that way!)



After Rob marked off each square foot of the raised-bed garden and dumped in all the compost from this past year's collectings in the bin, Sophia and I went out in the morning's heat and planted this year's garden using the Square-Foot Gardening methodology. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my packet of carnival sweet peppers was empty, so I have four empty squares I'll have to fill. Thinking on that... hopefully this new set-up will yield far more than last year's paltry proceeds, especially now that I know how to can whatever we get!


I snipped off the beautiful lilies growing in the backyard, but they've closed up for the night, so I don't have a nice picture to show you. Maybe tomorrow when they reopen for business. Chloë fretted and fussed about them being dead and ruint, until I told her that's what they did. 



I don't know if these are bluebells or just what, but they're now hiding for the night, too. They're taking over the backyard, so I snipped a ton of them for a little color in the kitchen. I hope they reappear with the morning light, too.

So, if we can't say we saw any sparkling lights in the sky tonight, at least we can say we kept ourselves busy. 

And that was our Fourth. How was yours?


As Thursdays Go...

...yesterday was a long one. But a very fun, thoroughly enjoyable one. I had a fantastic time.


Thursdays are the days that a few friends from the military co-op and I gather at one of their houses and learn all kinds of new (to us) and interesting gardening techniques. I love this class. C, the gardener, is amazingly zen and patient with all of us, and she is a veritable fountain of gardening knowledge. I am so impressed by her. Over the past several weeks, we have released butterflies into the garden...


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...learned all about composting,...

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... discussed the various bugs and other creatures that can be found in a garden and which are beneficial (or not), before going out on a hunt for as many different bugs as we could find in C's garden,...

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... had lessons on subjects from the importance of bees to gardening and the health of the planet as a whole, to square-foot and container gardening as it relates to "density," and so much more. C is an awesome teacher, and I'm so thankful we decided to join her in this endeavor.


We've learned about using egg shells and coffee grounds on plants, and rose hips, and acid-loving plants, and gosh, so much more than I can remember right now. Yesterday, we were taught about drip lines and sprinkling Espom salts there for roses, tomatoes, and other veggies, to help them grow bigger. I'd never have thought salt could be good for plants! Shows what I know.


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Sophia enjoying one of C's bran muffins, before going out hunting for sticks, so we could make swings for drying sprigs of herbs and what-have-you. 

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This is my amazing, incredible, awesome friend Jen, and young S., who is not her son but someone else's there, being so proud of the corn that she planted weeks earlier. It grew the tallest!


Would you like a not-quite-ripe blueberry? I think I did eat this one, and it was still fine.


Here, C was helping us make mason bee habitats, to attract these important critters to our own home gardens. So far, no one has gotten a mason bee to join their garden yet. Fingers are crossed!


After Gardening 101 is over for the day, we all get in C's beautiful pool for a swim, and at some point have a picnic lunch alongside the water before going in for a final dip. Sometimes the moms swim, and sometimes we just let the kids go in while we sit out to watch, chit-chat, and do our knitting. 

It's been a beautiful experience, really. I'm loving it.



Normally, that's it, and then we all go home. But yesterday, there was so much more. Jen's son, G, was turning five, so we had his Cars birthday party. I made the cake the night before at Jen's house, and he was SOOOOO excited. It was very cute. (Some parts got a little messy because G couldn't resist touching his cake. Hehe.)


I made him some cupcakes, too, which turned out to be great because so many people were there, the cake wouldn't have been enough. But don't look too closely at them, because they got a little oopsy during transport to C's house!


After that, Rob joined us, along with my friend T from Bunco, for a super-long canning session. I was picked as a host for a Ball House Party, and C agreed to hold it at her house for me. That was a HUGE gift.


We all had SO much fun, and tons of laughs, while making our strawberry and blueberry preserves, raspberry jam, peach preserves, and cherry syrup - 31 jars in all. A productive night, in many more ways than one.

I'm so blessed to be part of such a wonderful group, and I'm lucky they'll have me!

And of course, now I'm all gung-ho about canning and want to buy cases and cases of jars, hit the Farmer's Market for produce, and fill up our pantry.  I can't wait to get started!


I Still Like The Photo, Though.


We really don't have much of a backyard to speak of, being that we live in a middle house in a row of townhouses, in a neighborhood full of townhouses, in a city full of townhouses... What was I talking about again? I started imagining a world full of townhouses.

Oh yes. So. Jack was outside playing in our measly li'l postage-stamp backyard, having the kind of fun only true boys - and Sophia - know how to have, when he came tearing into the house holding this huge clump of dirt and yelling that he'd found a radish.

"Mommy! LOOK! We grew a giant radish in our garden! Look at this radish! Radish, radish, radish!!"

So my brain is thinking, "Wow, that's a giant... what is that thing? Sure, he says it's a radish, so we'll go with that...."

This boy is one who usually shies away from the camera, ducking under the table, or his sisters, or his shirt if nothing else is available, so I had to hurry up and screw on my lens before that big grin disappeared. My only thought was to capture the happiness before he hid it behind his regular, grumpier facade.

Snap, snap. Click.

Of course, I posted the picture on Facebook before I took a second look at the "radish," because I liked the smiling boy so well.

Daddy came downstairs then, and of course the kids were jumping all over him to show him the giant "radish" we grew.

(Backing up a little: We spent a lot of time and, well, money, last Spring, setting up and planting ourselves a nice vegetable garden. All we got out of it was maybe three average-sized zukes. So growing a huge "radish" a year later was, well, quite the cause for celebration.)

Rob quickly burst the kids' bubble by saying, "You know what that is, guys? It's an ONION that we never ate, and I just planted it a little while ago to see if it would grow."


So what, forget about the radish-cum-onion. Just look at the happy boy. And enjoy it, because it may be a while before you see that smile captured digitally again!


Oot And Aboot


Friday, we pretty much cruised aound in the Odyssey - which, by the way, now has a name: Penelope, thanks to the help of my friends - all day and all night.  We stopped at Starbucks for a frappucino fix, and we picked up all three of their low-fat coffee cake flavors to share a snack with the kids. We don't let them eat or drink (ahem, well, I guess we DO, but we're trying not to) in Penelope yet, so we continued our drive down to the oceanfront to find a stopping point and let them out.

It is next to impossible to find a public restroom on the VB oceanfront, though, and Mommy REALLY had to go, so we found ourselves at the VA Aquarium where I knew I could use the restroom. I pretty much squeaked to a stop and left Rob to park while I ran in. Ahhhh... Anyway, when I came out, he was sharing the cakes with the kiddos, above. And by the way, I think Starbucks is dead to me now. I've only been there three times in my life - all in the last two weeks or so - and the prices kill me. KILL me. Now that we are paying umpteen million dollars a month for Penny (hee), that's coming to a stop. Ouch.


Here's me at below-goal weight, about 148 lbs. Yay!  (I chopped my hair off last week, but I went in one day and got it "fixed," so it's now even shorter. I like it, but I don't love it, so I'm going to grow it back out.)


Garden progress. I'm getting impatient. Grow, mofos! Chloë calls the zucchini greens "lettuce." It amuses me. Just because it's leafy and part of a vegetable, she think it's lettuce. Hee.


Friday night, Rob went to a meeting while I took the kids to Mt. Trashmore for the free movies in the park. We watched Shark Tale, which is always fun to watch, and the kids conned me out of some cash for cotton candy AND popcorn AND drinks. Oh well, they were hungry, and what's money for if not to feed your kids totally crappy junk food?


I only have pictures of the Littles eating their spun sugar, because Chloë went down to the food kiosks all by herself to get that and then the drinks. I was pretty proud of her. Normally, that wouldn't quite be something she'd do by herself. She'd want Mom or Dad to go with her. At nearly nine, she is showing signs of emotionally maturing, but she goes back and forth between tween and little kid mode pretty darn quickly. Growing up is hard, and she says so herself!


This is from the other day. I was being silly and wearing a bunch of stuff I'd gotten for my giveaway blog, Fishing and Wishing: necklace was a review item, the make-up is a review item for an upcoming post, and so is the flower in my hair. I added more after this picture - earrings and a nose ring - and was told by Chloë that I had too much jewelry on. Pretty soon we'll be at the point where I'll be asking her if I look good or not. 


Sophia's 4th birthday Crepe Myrtle Hopi is growing like a weed! It's way bigger than even this, already. Do you know, can we clip the flowers off and put them in a vase inside, without hurting the plant? She always wants to do this, since seeing me do that with some of the lilies in the garden...


A girl I kind of know through blogging and Ravelry and Facebook posted on her FB wall that the 400th person to place an order through her Etsy shop would get a free gift with the purchase. So I quickly jumped on it and spent literally a couple bucks on the so-cute "geek" and "nerd" stitch markers (for knitting), and she gave me the "handmade" stitch markers, worth several dollars more, as a gift! I love fun stitch markers - and so does Sophia, who is always walking off with mine - so I'm glad to add to my collection. Thanks, Kala!


Before the doody hit the fan, Rob got me a new motorcycle helmet. I think someone he works with gave it to him? Anyway, it fits (even if it does squish my face up a little), so one of these days (weeks/months/years?) I might actually go for a ride with him. I'm skeered, though!

Welp, I guess that's all I have for pictures I'm behind on, so... back to work on Fishing and Wishing. Stop over and try to win some goodies from me, will ya?? ;) There's awesome alpaca yarn up for grabs right now!


A Few Things

I've got, like, 75 different things to spew out and no clue what order they'll make it here, so this might be rather like a "Tuesday Fragments."

  • I'm sick. Being sick sucks, but especially in the summer. It's totally the wrong time of year and therefore extremely unfair. Plus I don't know whom to blame this time; no one around me has been sick. I have a raging sore throat that won't ease up, my ears hurt, I have a headache that won't quit, and today, I added a stomachache. I've spent vast quantities of time "in bed," and by that I really mean "on couch," since I seem to have given up on finding comfort in the bed anymore.
  • I still haven't bought a new van. I think I'm headed for a Kia Sedona, but the Odyssey is still in the running. It pretty much depends on who will give me the best deal first. I've laid my cards on the table: this is what I want, this is how much I'll spend, I have a billion choices in minivans, so what will you do for me? We'll see who wins.
  • I think I've pinpointed whyfor I have this latest bout of depression: Rob's schedule, which keeps changing, but particularly when he works nights. I'm freaking lonely without him. I miss him. I never see him, I never have him, and when I do, he is cranky as f**k. And he comes home, eats, sleeps, eats, and goes back to work, repeat. So nothing gets done, and I'm too depressed at the moment to be helpful in picking up the slack, which makes me more depressed and anxious, and there you go. Maybe it's lame, but I think that's what's what.
  • Big news! Because of the horrible way I've been eating lately (probably thanks in part to afore-mentioned depressive state), I haven't weighed in in a month. So I wasn't too hopeful when I stepped on the scale today, but lo and behold, not only have I hit goal, but I'm PASSED it! Woohoo!! Despite all those caramel frappés and organic milk chocolate with almond bars I've been consuming lately (and pretty much nothing but, it's true, but at least it's only ONE or less a day, spread out), I have managed to fly by 150 lbs and am now at a respectable 147.8 lbs. I'm excited! It doesn't give me an excuse to keep eating this way, and I'm trying to break out of it, I really am. At least it makes me SICK as a DOG to eat that way, so the calories really don't have a chance to stick. I know you're shaking your heads at me over this, and believe me, I am, too! I know what to do, and I'm not doing it. But I will. This month, I will get back on track. I promise... myself. (Psst, my BMI went from something like 65.4 to 27.0 - yeah!)
  • Rob brought Chloë to camp on Sunday. We were all going to go, but I got sick. She was dreading it for months. Every time I brought it up, she was upset. She did NOT want to go. But he said once they got there, she seemed really excited. What a relief. I hope she has a great time. I already had him drop off letters I wrote to her, one for every day. I'm wondering if this might be the year she finally writes back? The Littles miss their sister. Both keep asking where she is. Aw.♥
  • Shoot. I still haven't taken pictures of the garden. I've commandeered poor Chloë's camera, since I broke both of mine, and I haven't even taken it out there for pictures. Argh.
  • Jack slipped and split his head open AGAIN on Monday. We thought it wasn't too bad. Rob went off to work, and I sent the kids upstairs to have a shower. When he was headed for bed, I remembered to have a look at it, and it was pretty gaping, much more so than I'd originally thought. Rob came home and took him to the ER. He got two staples! Poor kid. That's at least the third time he's needed something done to his head, if not the fourth!
  • I'm looking for an assistant for my giveaway blog, Fishing and Wishing. It's a lot of work, most of which I can handle, but I need someone to do all the link-ups each day with the current giveaways. In return, I would send some of the review items your way, as they apply to your lifestyle. Interested? Email me.

I guess that's it. I thought I had a few more, but... I can't think what else. Might try to sleep, but I don't know. I did nap an awful lot today, thanks to The Sick.

Hope y'all are having a good week.  Oh, I know - at Walgreens on Friday, they were putting up Halloween stuff!!!! UGH!


And More On The Bipolar Front

So I dipped again a little bit on Thursday. Enough to make me feel ready to try a Klonopin, but not so much that I was desperate like two nights previous, thankfully.

I was exhausted, and the kids had behaved badly all day, so I handed them over to Rob at 8 PM, took my meds including a Klonopin, and went to bed.

Oh. My.

It knocked me OUT for no fewer than 21 hours straight, and I was still a wee bit dizzy when I got up. I barely stirred in that entire time; I don't even remember getting up to use the bathroom, although I may have???

Can't hardly do that as a mother, although thankfully at least Rob was home, since he works nights. I mean, he sleeps during the day, but he was THERE and able to feed and water the kids and pets as needed, at least.

So I won't be taking that again anytime soon. And yes, it did make me numb, and yes, I kind of did rather like it. I had a sense of mellowness that is not a natural feeling for me. Melanie is not mellow, generally.


Rob had gone out earlier in the day, Friday, to get my van inspected. Remember I got that ticket an hour after the inspection sticker expired? We wanted to avoid more of the same, and so he went.

Well, poor Vanna failed her inspection. Badly. It was a shock to both of us. I mean, we knew she had some problems, but not THAT many and not THAT severe. And not THAT expensive.

We're talking thousands of dollars in repairs, at least as much as the ol' gal is worth.

Rob was pretty stressed out about when he called me. I was out of it, still in my stupor, so I don't remember what he said. I just remember asking him not to yell at me, because it was hardly my fault.

In the end, we decided that it was time to buy me a new vehicle, two years earlier than planned. Bummer, because she only has not even 64,000 miles on her.


I went to MyProductAdvisor.com and answered all the questions about what kind of car I should buy. Eventually, it came back with some answers, and I decided to go for the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander. We applied to our bank, online, for a loan, and about an hour or two later, we got it! WOOHOO!!!!!

So we made an appointment and oh, wait... this all happened THURSDAY, not Friday. See, my days are all screwed up. LOL The appointment to pick up the loan check, and to go for the test drive, were Friday. The failed inpsection and loan application and all that was Thursday. Capisce?

Anyway, whatever.

After Rob got back from his appointment Friday afternoon, he went to the bank to pick up the loan check. While he was gone, I finally managed to rouse myself enough to get dressed and take the kids out to clean all the crap out of Vanna. It took a while. I normally don't like to keep crap in my cars, but... kids. You know? I had at least a box worth of soggy Cheerios (oops, I left my windows down overnight, and it rained) all over the back of the van, AND I'm pretty sure at least one of the cats peed in there the night we were out roaming around while the house got bombed, so she smells lovely right about now.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. So Rob got back with the check (WOOHOO, did I mention that?), and we went to the Mitsubishi dealer. The kids were beyond excited about getting a new car, especially - of course - Jack. Naturally, I was, too.

And then we were brought to the black Outlander I was planning on getting.

I hated it on sight. Okay, maybe "hated" is too strong a word, but I was immediately disappointed.

It's a huge step down from Vanna. Huge. Vanna seats 8 comfortably, is quite spacious, and has tons of cargo room in addition.

This car, which I named Monica (100 points and my total respect and amazement if you can figure out why, and no it has nothing to do with the TV show Friends), only seats 5, is completely cramped inside, and has virtually NO cargo room of which to speak. I'd have to shove my bags here, there, and everywhere if I wanted to get groceries when the kids were with me. Um, no thank you.

I test drove it with the sales rep next to me and the kids in back, and then Rob test drove it, same.

Neither of us liked it. I knew there was no way I was going to buy it. Sales lady pushed the sale. I asked her, can you just tell us how much you'd give us on the trade, at least?

So they worked out the numbers, and we were happily surprised with the amount they came back with (much of which had to do with the very low mileage on Vanna). And then we owned up: we hate the car, have no intention of buying it, BUT we will be happy to stay with the same family of dealers IF you give us at least that amount and a good deal.

So now we're considering the Honda Odyssey, which is truly what I want, but I don't know if we can get it. We may have to go back to the bank and ask them to increase the loan, and do I really want to do that? No, I do not.

It will have to wait 'til Monday now, because we have plans all day Saturday, and the dealer is closed on Sunday.  Bah! I am not a patient girl!

In the meantime, I guess I better reload Vanna with some of that crap. I mean, I miss my soggy Cheerios, people!


P.S. All varieties of our plants are up, in the garden. Remind me to take pictures tomorrow!

P.P.S. Notice the color is back in my posts? ;)

No Sacrifice At All

I guess I suck.

I'm way behind here. I'm sorry. I'm way behind in general. I was totally gonna post a Friday Fragments, but Rob accidentally sabotaged that (yes you DID, honey!!) and gave me a sleeping pill instead of a vitamin D. That's like, the third time. We should totally keep that Trazodone somewhere ELSE, don'tcha think?!

So here's some stuff that's going on lately, since I posted Wednesday. I'm kind of in a blah mood, because this has been a ridiculously crappy night for me, so apologies in advance if the writing brings you to the doldrums, too.


We went back to that "other" beach on Wednesday. I remembered the camera this time. It was a pretty awesome day. Like, perfection. I was grateful for that day, like all days, but especially that day. I had taken the kids to the free Regal Cinema movie that morning (we saw Aliens in the Attic, which was good but a bit too 'old' for the kids) and then went grocery shopping for our picnic at the beach. I packed a lunch for everyone, and we brought the cooler with us. The kids loved that.

Rob joined us later in the day, and we went and had a seafood dinner right at the beach. I wore my bathing suit there. If we could pick up and move to that area tomorrow, I would do it.

The only thing that marred the day was when both girls got stung by a jellyfish (we found it and some people dragged it up on the beach, so it's a certainty), and Chloë had a bad reaction. I had nothing with me but sunscreen, and she was in hysterics (Sophie too, but I think she was egged on by Chlo), so I had to call 911. Don't pee on a jellyfish sting, by the way: vinegar is the best solution. The girls calmed down, were soothed, and wanted to stay at the shore. So we did, for a total of about eight hours!

I like this self-portrait, from dinner at the Green Parrot Grille that night... even if my nose ring does look stupid! I have since taken it out, and ordered some more from an Etsy shop (Hotwire, I think?).


And I think I look pretty good in this picture that Rob took of me with his iPhone, too (holding a squirming, plump Tinkerbell).

Which brings me to my next thing: I've decided not to have my abdominoplasty.

For now. We just needed that money for other things, and I have waited this long - what's another six months? The house has been flea-infested for a month, and we have COVERED it with diatomaceous earth. That 'natural approach' didn't work, so it was time to do something drastic: on Thursday, we bought the pill that kills fleas within minutes for all three pets, as well as three months of flea and tick treatment, for all three animals. And we went to the Exchange and bought LOTS of bug bombs. Lots.

(Independence Day, 2009)

But, life has gotten expensive, and we have decided to re-home our dog, Tiger Lily. She's a great dog, and we love her, but we just can't afford to take proper care of her anymore. There's a family that wants her, and they sound like a great match, but now that I've told them about the flea problem, I haven't heard back from them. Which isn't terribly surprising. *sigh* But, I had to be honest.


But hey, look!! We have green things growing!! We are terribly excited. Whoopee!


So Thursday, I mentioned, we did a little shopping at the Exchange, after we stopped at the vet's office for meds. Well, a lot of shopping, actually.  We used a lot of that money earmarked for surgery. Jack needed a bike helmet, and we had looked all over for one that fit. Eureka! He's stoked.



Vacs were on sale, and we needed a hard floor one for downstairs, so we got this! We also needed one for the carpeting upstairs, since the kids just broke mine recently. Buggers.  That night, the kids and I cleaned up the downstairs, and I vacuumed, washed and dried the living room floor with the FloorMate. It looked AMAZING, like new!! I can't wait to do it again.



I found these great cubbies for storing school supplies, so I got one for each of the kids, and one for me. We LOVE them! Our little school is really shaping up!

We bought lots more stuff that we needed, but when the cashier gave me the total, I stopped him and said, "Uh, I don't think you scanned our computer. It's a $600 laptop..." and I was right, of course. There was no way he had. In the end, the total came to more than we could afford to spend at the moment, so we couldn't buy it. I was so disappointed. I knew I had done the right thing, speaking up, but I admit - I was kicking myself a little, too! I really wanted to have a computer for school and for fun, for the kids.

So anyway, I didn't get it.

Severe weather, including flooding and tornadoes, hit while we were shopping. The drive home was nothing short of terrifying for me. I gripped the wheel and focused on the road, begging the kids to just. be. quiet!! I'd thought we were going to have to drive Rob to work later that night, but he decided it cleared up enough to ride his motorcycle in. I sure was worried, but he got there safe and sound. Whew.

I might post about this a bit more on the homeschooling blog, but Friday was fun because we broke out all the new (and a couple old) musical instruments in the music drawer. The kids were allowed to try each instrument out in turn and make, basically, a cacophony, while I attempted to help them find my beat. Not much success, but they had a lot of fun. Jack's favorite instrument is definitely the harmonica, but I'm not sure yet what each girl likes best.




I *really* wanted to use the remaining tax/surgery money to get the kids their own computer, so I did a lot of resarch Friday night and found one for HALF the price of the Exchange one, a Compaq that has a lot of really great reviews. I bought it online and bing, bang, boom! we were able to go pick it up at (the evil) Best Buy on Saturday at noon. Whoop!

Also, someone posted on one of my homeschooling boards about a bunch of free student desks that were being given away here locally, so I decided to pounce on that opportunity and snag one for each of my kiddos. When we got there, after picking up the computer, the lady turned out be someone I knew from the Girl Scout leader meetings, so that was cool. She was super nice and glad to have a home for three of the desks. They were in great condition, much bigger and roomier than I expected, and just the ticket for finishing up our little living room-cum-classroom. Exciting!

After we came home, Rob readied the house for bombing, while I set up the new computer and instructed the kids on how to turn it on and off properly, log in and use their passwords, get online, go to their favorite sites, and other basic things. They need lots more practice, but I feel they'll be doing it like old pros in no time. And they're so psyched to know how to go to Starfall, Webkinz and other places. Best? They have another great way to spend their Dad Dollars (I told them 5DD for each 30 minutes of play), so they're eager to earn more.


I neglected to ever give Chloë the necklace she earned for selling Girl Scout cookies this past Winter and Spring, so when I found it on my craft table, I gifted it right over to her. Of course, she insisted on posing for a picture!



I found us a motel in Newport News that took pets and was pretty cheap, so Rob set up the bug bombs, packed up the children, and off we went. It was alread about 8 PM by that point, so we were tired and ready to bunk down for the night. Only, when we got to the motel almost an hour later, it was nasty and more bug-infested than the house we were bombing!

Oh, my word, we were disgusted. We managed to get a quick refund from Priceline, and we hightailed it out of that place. We had the dog in the back and the cats in the middle, with the kids, and they were stinking up the place. We have no AC in the van, and we couldn't roll down the windows because the cats kept wanting to get out, so we were suffocating. And then everyone *really* had to go pee. It was getting to be pretty miserable in there.

We drove back down to Norfolk, to Military Highway where there was a place that I knew took pets, since we stayed there with our old dog and cat when we first moved here from Guam in '03. Only, they had no vacancies. Nor did the next place. Or the next, or the next, or the next. I stopped for a potty break at 7-11, and we used the BOGO Free Slurpee coupons someone gave us on the 4th of July. Not without requiring some math problem work out of Chloë first, and she did a great job... But I ended up losing my debit card after that stop, which was not good.

I called the bank and ordered a new card, and then we went home. We still couldn't go back in our house for a few more hours, but I couldn't deal with the pet stink and windows up anymore. We put the cats in Rob's truck, the dog in the backyard, and flew down to the oceanfront to walk along the beach.


We stopped and talked to the police on horseback for a while, and the kids all got a major kick out of that. They asked a billion questions, but when the horses sped away after someone whizzed down Atlantic Avenue much too quickly, well that was just a big ol' hoot for them! (I kinda liked it, too...)

Oh, and when we had gotten to the beach, I found my card! But then I lost it again! So I called initially to report it missing and get a new one, then I called back to cancel that. I had to call a third time to say yes, it's defintely lost this time - and I was right, because someone had found it and called it in. Thank you, guardian angel! At least, if I had to lose it, an honest person found it.


We walked along the boardwalk some, and when everyone needed to potty some more, we stopped from shop to shop until finally the good people at Subway said we only had to buy a bag of chips in order to use their bathroom. Phew! I was emergent by then, myself. We stopped in our favorite kitschy beach store to get kickboards for the kids, since they've been envying the other kids' a lot this summer. They were pretty cheap, thankfully.

Lots of things went wrong for me tonight (most of which I haven't mentioned here), but looking back, it has been a pretty great week. I shouldn't complain.  I have a GREAT husband, three beautiful children (who fight a lot, but hey, what kids don't?), and the bugs are dead. LOL!

Thanks for cheering me up, y'all. Maybe now I can go get a few Zzzzz's.


Better Late Than Never


Well, we gardened, as a family. Stuff's planted. We didn't get everything we wanted done (the second box hasn't gotten built, so we had to skip eggplant, beets and spinach), and the rest (tomatoes, peas, beans, Swiss chard, radish, zukes, peppers, cukes, yellow squash, carrots & lettuce) are too-closely planted together. 

According to a gardening friend, we have 100 (!!) days left in our growing season, so the crowding is probably more of a problem than the lateness of the planting season. We decided to take our chances. It'll be a learning experience, for sure. And we'll thin and move things as they grow. Probably. Maybe. Perhaps.

Anyway, yay! I'm excited! Can't wait to start watering and observing and harvesting and eating... Yum.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are brought to you by Mrs. 4444s; link up if you're fragmenting today!


I just love melon-balling. (Not to be confused with "balling melons." This isn't American Pie, here.) I love the digging in, the wrist-turning action, and the pulling out of a nice, round hunk of fruit. I could do it for hours on end. It's very satisfying to me. Weird?


Our first tomato, from the plants given to us by the Keeneys, finally ripened and was ready to eat! I'm not a raw tomato girl, but still, it's our very first fresh produce, and I'm excited about it! There's another little one coming along behind it... now if only the hubs would get those raised beds built so I could plant the rest of our garden. *ahem*


Chloë, nearly 9, a serious raw tomato fanatic, dug into it within minutes after I plucked it from its vine. She declared it "delicious!"


Speaking of Chloë, today she had an achievement at the pool. She and Jack, 7, are both HUGE chicken-sh*ts, so while brave Sophia, 5, is completely comfortable with taking a running leap into the pool, the older two are more comfortable going slowly down the steps. Hubs and I have been trying to get Chlo to jump from the side, too. Today, I offered her 20 "dad dollars" (our rewards system) and the chance to stay up as late as she wanted if she would just give it a try. After several false starts, she finally did it! And of coure, as we knew she would, she loved it and did it about eleventy-nine times after that. Way to overcome your fear, Curls!

(By the way, it is 0225, and that little girl is STILL up. A promise is a promise!)


While the girls were busy jumping in and out of the pool, Jack and I sat most of our time out, underneath an umbrella. Why? We are the fairest of the bunch, and even the SPF 8000 I had was not enough to keep us from feeling the oncoming sunburns. So while I knitted, the boy played games on my iPhone. When it's just the two of us, he's very companionable and sweet. When the girls join us, he totally tuns into Mr. CrankyPants.

Note to self: Schedule in lots more one-on-one time with the boy-child.


Speaking of knitting, wow. I love this yarn, which I won in an online giveaway. It has Teh Awesome, as my friend J would say. (I'm knitting Ysolda's Ishbel, if you're of the fibery sort.)

Today, a friendly lady on Freecycle gave us a case of Oberweis chocolate milks. When the kids and I arrived to pick it up, she asked, "How many kids do you have, again?" I told her "three," and she told me to wait a minute, disappearing back into her house. She returned with an Oberweis ice cream bar for each of the kids, just as a special treat. What a sweet surprise! I was touched... and Chloë was so thoroughly pleased by the gesture herself (and the ice cream, natch), she asked to write the woman a thank-you note! I'm bursting with pride about that!

The other day, Rob informed me that when he dies, he wants a green funeral. "You mean eco-friendly?" I confirmed. "No," he retorted. "I want everybody to dress like leprechauns."

Har, har, honeybunch. (He makes me giggle.)

And now, finally, I am in the mood to post some recent Cute Kid Quotes. Here we go:

Sophia came up to me out of the blue and said, "Mommy, when you're old, and you die, I'll drive you to the stones, and I'll bury you."

Aw. ♥

With all the talk in our household lately about eating organic foods, this conversation that we overheard between The Littles really cracked us up:

Jack: "... and we're going to tear all the buildings down and build organic buildings..."

Sophia: "Yeah! And it'll be Organic Town!"

Hey, I kinda like the idea.

Sophia asked me, "Can we go to other planets, and live on other planets?" Thinking she meant "we the species" and not "we the family," I said, "Well, right now we really can't..." and she replied, "Yeah, because we don't have a rocket!" I informed her, "Well, no, we do have rockets..." and she interrupted excitedly, "Where?! In the attic??"

Something made Sophie laugh, and imitating her older sister, she exclaimed, "Oh, that's definitely going in my diarrhea!"

Chloë, rolling her eyes, explained matter-of-factly, "DiarY. Diarrhea is a kind of poop."

That was over a month ago, and it still makes me giggle.

Dog collar 1

So, wanna win a hundred-dollar dog collar? Mrs. 4444s does! That's one of our giveaways over on my review blog, Fishing and Wishing, so check it - and all the others - out if you wanna win! Some have really low entries, so your chances are outstanding!

Have a great weekend, y'all!


Your Name Rhymes With Snot


On Friday morning, I drove out to EBF Chesapeake to pick up Stephanie and wee baby Luke (who, at 8 months -8 months already!!!! - is really no longer "wee" at all) and carry them back to our house.

They spent the entire day and well into the night with us, so that I could knit Luke a redeux pair of wool shorties that would actually fit his cloth-diaper clad little butt this time, unlike the last pair that came out, well, rather ginormous. (As Steph says, "They go up to his boobies.")

As for the title of this post, I believe it was Chloë who joked to his mama, "Lucas Mucous, your name rhymes with snot!" I giggled and was relieved when I looked up to see if Steph was offended and found her giggling, too. Phew!

The knitting took about 10 hours. We tried the shorties on at one point, but since I was using DPNs (double-pointed needles), a bunch of stitches fell of the needles. Even though I'd used big rubber bands to hold them in place. Fecking stitches. Steph quickly grabbed me a crochet hook, and I was able to save every last one of them (sending a silent "thank-you" to the anonymous yarn shop employee who taught me how to do that, four or five years ago). Phew again!

I didn't take many breaks, knitting almost continuously through the full 10 hours. To say my hands were cramped afterward is an understatement! The only real break I remember taking, aside from inhaling a crab cake and using the powder room, is getting up to show Steph my dance skilz to "Cotton-Eyed Joe" on Wii Just Dance. I think she was impressed and amazed. Or amused. I don't really know.

Oh yeah, and I took a shower, because we were going to go go this awesome (so I heard afterward) Etsy-sponsored crafting party in Norfolk, but we mutually decided not to go and continue on with the knitting. My new mail-order bathing suit arrived from Land's End, and I tried that on. I'm wearing all size 12 stuff from Old Navy right now, but since they were out of size 12 suits, I bit the bullet and ordered a size 10. Well, it fit!! I had to squeeze it on, but Rob said I looked "hot" and that a 12 would probably have been too big. Yay! That means that after I get my abdominoplasty, I should be at least an 8, if not a 6. (I have a LOT of skin to remove.) Single digits, baby!! I can not WAIT.

Anyway, the shorties finally got finished, and I held my breath while Steph tried them on Lucas Mucous. The final decree? They fit!!! Woohoo!! The hard work paid off.


He does look rather cute, doesn't he? I mean, with the shorts. He could wear a brown paper bag and look cute, though. =D


In other yarny news, I had to work through the night into Friday morning, but I finished crocheting the blanket I was working on at the HEAV convention last week:


Oh, my bad, did you want to see the whole thing? Here you go:


I like the finished product very much. I didn't like it at all at the beginning, because it's made with icky-crappy Red Heart yarn (with my apologies the people who donated the yarn to CARE Package the day before I started making the blanket from a pattern book donated by Bunco-friend-Linda) that squeaked throughout the process. I wasn't a big fan of the colors for the first half of the blanket, and maybe the first 7/8 of the blanket but finished, I actually think it looks pretty. And it's softer finished than it is started, if that makes any sense. In the end, I'm satisfied that it will make a nice blanket for the full-term baby girl who will be unfortunate enough to need it. :(



In much happier news, Thursday was Bridging Day for Chloë's Brownies troop. The girls are now officially Juniors! After a year of Daisies and three years of Brownies, I couldn't be more proud of her and the girls, most of whom have been together since they were five. I spent a good deal of time on Thursday sewing on the patches she'd received in December and asked me to sew on ever since; after the ceremony, I sewed on all the rest, in completely the wrong places (ie, non Try-It patches on the front, since I ran out of room on the back). But she's never going to wear it again, so does it really, truly matter?

(I also sewed the patches Sophia has earned on her Daisy smock (Early Bird registration, plus a Make-It-Build-It patch from Lowe's for the trellises they made me for Mother's Day, and a soccer patch from Fall Soccer), and the ones Jack has earned on the back of his Cub Scout shirt. I KNOW those are in the wrong place, so Rob will probably have to take them off and re-do them, as the boys actually have uniform inspections.)


Miss Nikki, the Troop Leader, introduced the girls and sent them across the bridge, and Miss Karen, the assistant TL, gave them their certificates and pinned on their new insignia. Congratulations, Chloë!!


Is she giving me that tween look that says, "Moo-ooommm, stop taking my picture"?? Is she old enough for that yet? My word.


Before the ceremony, we ate dinner, and Miss Nikki passed out all the patches and things the girls had earned. She even gave me a Volunteer certificate and a gift bag with goodies and a couple of patches of my own. Everyone had to bring something to eat to the potluck; we brought the McNuggets and fries and all the Shrek godies that we were supposed to have at our Shrek party last Sunday. Since almost no one was going to come to that, I canceled it and decided to bring the Shrek party to Bridging Day, instead! It worked out.


After the party, during which the girls also sang and recited some things for us, Chloë was completely exhausted. She passed out immediately, which sucked, because we had more than an hour's drive (with traffic) up to Newport News for an audition.

H, the casting director, had called us as we were literally ON OUR WAY to the Girl Scouts party, asking us to come up immediately. Um, no can do, sorry. He said that he was sure that if they saw her, they would want to hire her, and since it was a national commercial, I hemmed and hawed and finally decided no, we really have to go to this party. He countered by saying they would stay late just for her, if we could come up right away after the party. Well, we had plans to go to Michaels to make a Father's Day craft for Rob, but we couldn't really say no, could we?

So we went.

Rob took The Littles downstairs to Maggie Moo's for some amazing (but not cheap) ice cream, while Chloë had her on-camera audition with H. I had forgotten to mention her teeth situation (she's missing several, and others are half grown-in, at the moment) on the phone, but he said it was no big deal. She "slated" for the camera, which is basically saying your name and age and whatever else they want you to do by way of introducing yourself. She was much too tired for that, so it wasn't great, but then she had to take a potty break.

During the break, she really woke up and became her regular, silly, "on" self, so the rest of the on-camera part was really cute. You never know how they'll perceive you, though, so I'm not holding out much hope. H said we should find out by Tuesday if she gets it. It would be a great gig, though!



Lookee!! Rob was a busy boy today. He put together our new compost bin, hauled all the compost we've been making from behind the bushes in the front "yard" and filled it up. Doesn't it look great? I'm SO excited to have a proper bin now.


Also, he built the first of our two cedar raised beds. Unfortunately, he had a dickens of a time actually getting them into the ground, so he had to take it all apart again! D'oh!! Poor Rob. He's going to put it in separately tomorrow, I guess. But still, it looked nice, right? LOL

Can you see my two pretty Tiger Lilies under the tree in the bag? Love. Those are my faaaaavorite flowers.


And finally, Jack snagged my camera and took about 800 pictures with it. Most were crap, but here are a few I kept. Chloë, busy playing games on my iPhone - a favorite activity for all three kiddos.


Sophia, looking completely enthused.


An amusing self-portait


Daddy working; see his hand all bandaged up? He got some horrible blisters trying to pound the box into the ground. Poor Daddy!!

That's all. Back to working on promoting the new blog. If you haven't entered the giveaway, please, please, please go do. :D Thanks, I really mean it. Thank you. There will be a new one posted later on Sunday!


On The Wrong Side Of The Food System

Whew.  It has been a busy coupla days. Let's recap:


Couldn't sleep, wasn't tired, so I stayed up all night. I was productive, though: I did the bills, worked the budget, started a new PR blog on Blogger (more details about that to come in the next couple of days) and crocheted. I'm nearly finished with that blanket. When I am, I'll show ya. It'll be tomorrow.

Chloë is still in school this week, so she was bummed later when she found out that the rest of us - Daddy included - went to the zoo without her. Like, in tears, bummed. We kept having to reassure her that now that we're zoo members, we can go whenever we want - and we WILL.


The original plan was to get there at 1100 for the zoo's weekly story time, but when we arrived at a quarter 'til, we saw that it was also elephant-feeding time at 1100. Which would they rather do? "Elephants!!" came the enthusiastic reply. When we arrived back in "Africa" to see the heffalumps, we first caught sight of two of the ol' girls getting baths. The kids were fascinated. Even more so when I informed them that at Jack's age or so, I had actually ridden an elephant. Twice. They were astounded by that. Have you?


I am OBSESSED with Sophia's tush. I mean, it's just plain awesome. I could look at that juicy thang all day long. It's not creepy, right? I mean, I'm her MOM. I'm supposed to love every inch of her! (And you gotta admit, it's a pretty great butt, as butts go.)


After milling about for a few minutes, a zoo volunteer came out and told us where the elephant feeding would take place. We strode en masse to the bottom of a long and windy ramp and claimed our places for ideal viewing. A man with a big bucket full of fruits and veggies was down there, waiting for us. He tweeted four long tweets on his whistle, a signal for the ellies to come lumbering over. Only this one, a 36yo female (they're all females at our zoo), decided to dine. She wasn't thrilled about having to swim for her supper, though!


I love this one, when she was flaring her ears and digging around in the water for a wayward orange. She ate it, peel and all. Well, you didn't expect an elephant to peel an orange, did you?

Just like with the baths, the kids were completely engrossed in the proceedings.


Even the little guy, even though no wheeled objects were involved, even though he was hot and hungry. When the feeding session was over, they ran around the area while Rob and I asked a bajillion questions of the volunteer. She was too happy to answer them as much as she could. I'd love to do that, if I had the time...


We stopped off at the giraffe habitat for a little while, before heading to have some lunch in Africa's restaurant. There are three adults and a wee baby, there in the back. I wish I could have attended that birth!


We decided to get a pizza. Non-organic, of course, but the kids were hungry and not at all interested in the box of organic Fruit-e-O's that I'd smuggled in.  When we got into the dining room, though, Sophia spied the container of pickles on the condiment bar and decided that's what she wanted to have. She ate two platefuls! That girl is a pickle nut.


After lunch, the kids were pretty much through with animals for the day and just wanted to go play in the sprinklers. I gave Rob the camera to take pics, while I went hunting around in the nearby gift shop for a couple more Bunco prizes. I found exactly what I was looking for there, plus a few little goodies for the kids. Goodness knows they don't need them, but you know. I like to spoil a little.


Jack's favorite thing to do is sit on top of the spouts and let the water shoot up his bathing suit!


When I finished my shopping, I shucked off my jumper and joined the kids in the sprinkler! Rob didn't have his suit, or he'd have gone, too. I would have gone in my everyday clothes. Who cares? If it's hot, and there's a fun way to cool off, I'm in - suit or not! As it is, I had to go in there in my workout clothes, since I don't have a suit right now. 'Twas brillig!


This guy was just wandering around, so I followed him. He didn't like that. He sped up. I sped up. He turned left. I turned left. Wasn't his favorite thing. He squawked at me.


When he was through with the slow-speed chase, he leapt on top of the chairs and was out of sight in a flash. Pretty guy, though, right? I bet he's sired a slew of peababies.


Jack asked a jillion times if we could go on the zoo train, but since it wasn't free, I decided that we should wait until Chloë could join us if we were going to do that. When she was crying about us going to the zoo without her, later, learning that is what dried up her salty tears. 


I was also going to wait until the whole family was together to show them what I picked up for them in the gift shop, but, you know, I can never, ever wait to give a present. Never! So after about 20 minutes, I gave up trying and called everyone 'round. I gave Sophia an ostrich, which she didn't recognize as an ostrich, so we'll have to look at those more the next time we go to the zoo. (There were two in the giraffe habitat, but she must've missed them.) She's a bird girl, though, so she loved it just the same.

 For Jack, of course, I bought wheeled items: this time, two safari jeeps that he just loved. His mind was already jumping to the next zoo visit: "Did they have other animals besides zebras and giraffes? What else did they have? Can I have one of those next time?" Never satisfied, that kid!

I gave Chloë a little jungle-themed art kit and a zipper pull with her name on it, and Rob got a zoo sticker for his truck. Or the motorcycle; I'm not sure which. I gave myself a zoo magnet for Vanna. You'll just have to wait and see what the Bunco prizes are...


Later, while Chloë was at Ballet, the rest of us did some heavy-duty shopping in the garden and lumber sections of the nearby Home Depot. I budgeted $5-600 for the backyard garden project, and we spent every penny of that and a little bit more. Well, almost. We would have, but then the nice lady handling our order (because we couldn't fit it all in the van, and Rob had to go back for the rest of our bags of dirt. Dirtbags? Hee) asked if we were military and gave us a hefty discount for that. I usually ask for a milly discount everywhere we go, but I didn't think to ask at the Depot. So, yay, we came in under - except that we only got about half the dirt that we needed for our two raised beds. Guess we'll have to go back after those are built. Here's Rob getting the cedar planks off the roof of Vanna. 


We got lots of good stuff! A compost mixer, in the box on the bottom there, is causing me serious excitement. I can't wait to start filling 'er up! Lots of organic soil, and some organic topsoil, more cedar, some organic compost starter... and a few tomato cages. Hopefully Rob can start building the beds this weekend with the kids, for a Father's Day activity. Do you think that's what he had in mind??

As soon as we came home from that shopping trip, I crashed on the couch until my school alarm went off the following morning.



I was still tired. I slept a great deal. Sophia and Jack played down in the living room together, mostly very nicely, while I snoozed on and off. I weighed in: 155.9 lbs. I'm down over 185 lbs and looking forward to losing those last 5 lbs before I hit my doctor's goal. Maybe I can hit it before I see him again next month, which would be swell. Just swell.

After Chloë came in, I showered and got the Littles ready to go with me to take her to Jazz. And then I had a brainstorm: since it was Wednesday, parking for locals down at the beach would only be a buck. Why don't we go? Yes, let's go. I sent them to wake up their dad, who was game, and we all worked ourselves into a tizzy getting ready in the negative-five minutes we had before leaving to take Chlo to dance.

The kids were absolutely ravenous, and again, they had no interest in the Fruit-e-O's I'd brought along. So Rob and I briefly talked it over, and we decided to use some of the huge McDonald's gift card I'd gotten for the House Party, to feed them. It was a struggle; McD's is SO not what we want to be feeding them anymore, but the guilt burden was lifted slightly in knowing that it wasn't our money supporting the fast food industry. So we went back home to get the card, and then stopped for some victuals at the burger joint around the corner.

I only got a Coca Dieta, but everyone else had food and drink. Chicken nuggets for the kids, fries, and a free apple juice box. Holy cow, they devoured their food. They are not as completely sold on this organic thing as we are! It will take some time. Rob got a crispy chicken sandwich, but you know what? He really didn't care for it. It just didn't taste as good to him as he remembered. The organic food just tastes so much better, so much more... real. He's done. The fries, on the other hand, OMG. SO good. I had some. A bunch, actually. I think they were better than I remembered. Yum.  But still, not good enough for us to give up "the lifestyle," so after tomorrow, that will (hopefully) be our last time eating McDonald's in this lifetime!

 Look, Sophia's teeth grew back in!!  Doesn't she look great?!! Ha. As soon as we arrived down at the oceanfront after Jazz, we walked to the beach, which was being closed by the lifeguards and police. An electrical system had moved in; we couldn't swim. Or be on the sand. We started to look at the family bicycles instead, but then decided that wouldn't be safe either.  So, we decided to go find somewhere to sit and have a drink. Instead, we were walking on Atlantic Ave when the deluge hit, and we ran into the nearest store, a discount beach tienda.

I had forgotten that I'd already picked up my last two Bunco prizes, so I shopped around and picked up two more. Oops. Well, now I'm finished, and if there are extras, more for me! I told each of the kids they could pick a souvie under $2, and these hillbilly teeth were Sophie's choice. Nice, huh? Funny, though. Over margaritas and chips at Guadalajara's, we all passed them around:


Hillbilly Bob


Hillbilly Mel (taken by Sophia)


Hillbilly Chlo


Jack, the spoil-sport, decided not to participate. Instead, he gazed lovingly at his new little cement mixer.


Curls picked herself up a pack of Silly Bands (emphasis on "silly") to share and trade with her friends at school tomorrow, the penultimate day. She gave me one; I'm wearing it now. So far as we could tell, it's an ostrich. Another ostrich! No telling whether this one's a girl or a boy, though. ;)


And I got a nose ring or two. My hole's been empty (on my nose, pervs!) since, like, October, so it was time to fill it. Can you see the little blue stone?


And, Rob picked me out a toe ring. Well, at my request. I have ugly feet, I know. I've been told a time or two. (Also, time for a pedicure, eh, Melanie?)


Our gigantical margaritas were SO good! I had to ask Rob, though: what's the point of salting the rim if you're using a straw, hmmm? 


When it finally stopped raining, we tried to go down to the now-reopened beach again, but a policeman said it was still unsafe and he wouldn't do it. The kids were disappointed, and one or two of them cried, but we reminded them that we live here and can come back anytime we want. So they found a nearby fountain and begged pennies off me for wishing, instead. Rob and I made wishes, too. Aren't wishes the best?


On our walk back to the car, the kids found several puddles left by the storm. Never mind that they were full of mud; that's half the fun, isn't it? And so they jumped, and jumped some more.


When Sophia found another puddle and was there by herself, I told her to jump after I counted to three. Here's the result. Girl can jump, huh??


When we finally arrived home, there was a big ol' box from Drugstore.com waiting on the front porch. Woot! I just ordered it two days ago, so I was thrilled. We were completely out of TP (how did I let that happen?), so I found a BOGO deal for Seventh Generation and bought that. To get to $25 - the level needed for free shipping - I did a search for "organic" and found these snacks by Newman's Own on sale, too. Oh, and the organic multi-vitamins for the kids, too, which is good, since they cost about 4x as much at the organic shop where we get our food. The kids LOVE taking their multis...


Yeah. Rob took that pic. He said Iooked hot like that... maybe from another angel!! Haha.

Time to go get some zzzzzs, as Thursday is another busy day.


I'm The Only One Who'll Leave A Light On For You

Don't ask. It won't make sense anyway.



Sophia looked particularly adorable. She dressed herself, as always, and even though I told her it was about 1100º out and she would be far too hot, she insisted on wearing the sweater.  


I've never met a cuter child being rude to her mother. (If she hadn't done that, the resulting picture would have been even more adorable; oh, well.)


Jack has been all about rockets. He built a rocket, talked about rockets, "saw" rockets in ordinary objects, and asked to learn about rockets this year when we home-school. Is he trying to tell me something?


Sophia had a routine hearing screening at the Naval hospital. Perfect in both ears. She kept saying through the microphone, to her tester, "How long is this going to take, anyway?" She has places to go, things to do, people to see... you know.


The Littles played together quite nicely, for most of the day. 


Chloë took this picture, noting growth of our transplated tomato plants from the Keeneys. It's doing quite well, thanks!


  • I continued to crochet that multi blanket, which I had planned to finish over the past weekend. At this rate, I will definitely be finished by NEXT weekend, at least.
  • I scrubbed down all three bathrooms, including three pretty gross toilets. I feel accomplished. The last two, I washed in the nude after taking a cold shower, and Rob walked in the kids' ladybug bathroom as I was bent over to scrub the tub. "Hello!" he exclaimed. "It's a full moon out tonight!"
  • After dinner, which Rob made, the kids and I sat on the front porch to enjoy the nice breeze. I crocheted; Chloë sketched pictures of herself, her sister, and various objects; Jack drove his truck around the driveway; and we all pointed out fireflies.
  • The Littles and I cleaned up the entire downstairs in about 45 minutes, except for the kitchen (Rob's domain), and except for the clutter in the office (my domain, which I attend to 24/7/365 and still can't seem to manage to tame). Anyway, it looks pretty good in here for the moment.
  • I found out that Chloë will need to head up to DC early next month to reshoot part of the beginning of Boom. She'll actually get paid this time, a per diem and travel rate. Awesome!

Back to my crocheting. Until midnight, when Rob's pay hits, and then it's time to pay bills and make plans. Have a good night!


Aloha Friday


Link up with Kailani if you're playing along today!

My question for you this week is:

Do you garden? If so, can you share a good gardening tip with me?

I have a black thumb, but we're going to attempt a veggie garden this summer. I've gotten 14 varieties that Martha (yes, that one) promises WILL grow, but I'm still nervous about it. I've no clue what I'm doing - help!


Britto 'N' Burpee Love

Or should I say "Burpee 'n' Britto"?

Anyway, here's what I'm talkin' 'bout:

Britto luggage

I happened across this luggage collection at Heys USA via OK! Magazine. (Why I get that magazine, I don't know, but it was free, so hey. And it seems to be the only one I make time for lately, out of all my subscriptions - free and otherwise - so... okay!)

Thee luggage ist drool-worthy, no? I am coveting it.

For those who don't know, Rob and I bought one of Romero Britto's works of art on our European cruise two years ago, so this was quite cool to see. If I could afford a $300 piece of loogage, I would definitely snatch one or four pieces right up!

(My birthday's in September, if you're reading this, Mr. Trump.)

As for the Burpee love...

our seedy seedies arrived today! Pretty colorful, huh? Compared the Britto, these packages kind of put me to sleep.

But that's okay, because the goodness contained within will brighten up our backyard this summer, with the bright red tomatoes, purple peppers, yellow squash, orange carrots and... so much more.

I can't wait!

(Mr. Trump, I need some money for the wood for our raised beds, the soil, some tools, a compost bin... all in the name of education, you know.)


Not a particularly exciting day in Casa de Odette, I'm afraid. But that won't keep me from sharing all the details that I know you love so much. Both of you.


Someone on Freecycle posted 7 boxes of Annie's organic mac & cheese, so you know I snatched those babies right up! Even better, she lived right around the corner from us. Rob made some for the kids for dinner tonight. The girls LOVED it and Jack, who rarely loves any food that doesn't have sugar as its frst four ingredients, said he prefered the 'dark orange stuff instead.' Two out of three ain't bad.


Speaking of organic (because I never do that), Jack and I went on a leetle shopping spree at Harris Teeter today. The sales start on Wednesdays, so I took a look-see to figure out what they might have on sale that's actually organic. I think there were TWO things in the whole ad, which was sucktastic. But we were out of milk (because some unknown elf left out an ENTIRE half-gallon of organic leche, which made me want to weep), and Jack doesn't like his oatmeal prepared with water. Oatmeal snob! I had a bunch of coupons from Organc Valley's website, and a few others for organic stuff, so I figured we might as well go see what was to be had.

I bought about $72 worth of stuff for $50 with my coupons, which isn't too bad for organic. We picked up something like four half-gallons of milk, some cheese, yogurt, the above pizzas (I had some of the Spinach Feta for dinner, and it was okay, but weirdly spicy), and some chocolate ice cream. That shit was good!! I had about four small bites, and while I wanted more, I didn't really feel like summoning the Dumping Syndrome fairies, so I let it be.

I'm still enjoying this organic mess, though. It's expensive, but that'll be another challenge for me to overcome: finding room in our budget to eat all local, all organic, all the time. With Burpee's help, we should do just fine.

Or we'll starve to death.

You'll see.


I got all of this knitting done tonight, between dance class and sitting with my two "we're not sleepy" imps who fell asleep within minutes after I started playing the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales on Audiobook for them, courtesy of my iPhone. Well, except for the first two rows, which I did during dance class last night. (Would have been more, but I messed up the count and had to frog and restart.)

I'm not sure I'm loving this project. I don't even think I have enough yarn to finish it, but that actually adds to the excitement for me. Will she or won't she? Only one way to find out. (Okay, there's more than one way to find out, but I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants on these things.) Just in case, I'm keeping every last inch of my snippings, in case I need them!


See those pants I'm wearing? They're jammies, and I think it embarrasses the hell out of Chloë that I wore them to the bus stop. But that's beside the point. The point is, I bought them around Halloween '09 (hence the skulls), and I could not get them up past my thighs at that point. Now, they not only fit, but they are loose-ish and very comfy!


with them, I'm wearing one of Rob's size M Harley t-shirts, just because I can. I think he likes it. I know he likes it, actually, when his girl wears his shirts, so I'm excited that for the first time ever, I can!


just for kicks, I put on a pair of his zip-and-button-up shorts - no elastic in the waist - while I was doing laundry today, and I could button them!!! I had to shove my saggy belly all down in there to do it, but hello! Have you seen my husband? He is a very thin man!


While wearing this ensemble, I went out to get the mail, and a neighbor across the street called out, "Are you on a diet? You've gotten so skinny!"


So yeah, I'm all full of my SKINNY self at the moment, thankyouverymuch.

And on that note, I have shop reports to do.


P.S. Oh yeah. Rob took Jack to see the doc at the ADHD therapy clinic, you know, where Chloë goes? To see about the pediatrician's diagnoses of ADHD and ODD. The doc pretty much observed him for the hour and questioned Rob, and then summed it up with, "So why are you here?" In other words, he has neither, in that doc's opinion. We're going to go with that one. Joy!

P.P.S. The girls and I went to the library tonight after dinner. Sophia got her own library card and picked the first three books off the shelf to borrow. Chloë picked three more chapter books (she finished two in a week, so I figured she could handle a third this time), and I picked three more books related to teaching and homeschooling. Never mind that I still haven't read the last three. Never mind, I said!


Things On My Mind

So I'm behind again; what else is new?

There has been lots going on.

Of course, as usual, I have been driving myself crazy with the mystery shopping. I did get a new shirt out of that, though, and I've had a couple high-paying ones that were worth the incredibly boring effort.

I went and had my Quick Start training for being Sophie's Daisy Scout troop leader next year. I learned a lot and feel much more prepared to begin that endeavor, even while simultaneously beginning to homeschool the three kids. I will feel even better after I pick up my Leader guide. Kim, the trainer, gave me lots of good hints and tips for running the troop smoothly.

She (Kim) also has a very petite daughter, so when she saw Chloe Friday night at the "She and Me" pre-registration event for next year, and Chloe introduced herself as a rising Junior Girl Scout, she offered to break out her daughter's old Junior petite uniform and pass it along to me. Great! Any way to save a buck.

On the one hand, I want to save each uniform especially for the girl who wore it and earned all the patches, but on the other hand, in order to save money, I ripped all the Daisy petals off Chloe's Daisy uniform so that Sophia can wear it.  From now on, now that I know the girls will have lots of patches sewn on, I won't do that anymore. But I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth; if she wants to pass on the old Junior uniform, who am I to say no?

Speaking of that She and Me event, who can resist laughing at this picture of Sophia clowning for the camera:


I dare you to try. Every time I look at it, I can't help but grin, at least!

The event was lots of fun. The girls made lotions (cherry and orange), painted a clay magnet, strung beads for bracelets and necklaces, colored pictures, made tissue paper flowers, and more. I have lots of pictures - too many to post here. As it was the beginning of Sophia's Scouting journey, of course I had to bring the camera.

Unfortunately, that meant there was no camera for Rob to take along to Jack's Cub Scout sleepover at the Sports Hall of Fame in Portsmouth. Rob and Jack spent the night there on Friday with the pack. I heard it was lots of fun. There was a scavenger hunt. That's about all I know, since Rob's iPhone battery died, and he didn't even get i-pics of the event. Suck.

Also, in case you haven't been reading the Sweet Pea Academy blog, Friday was Jack's first official day as a home-schooler! I pulled him out after, well, you can go read it for yourself if you're interested. Cute pictures there of him making pancakes, too.

So naturally, home-schooling has been at the forefront of my consciousness just about constantly lately.  I'm not going to do a whole lot with the boy, aside from get him tested to gauge his baseline for right now. We'll take the rest of the year pretty easy and do fun things together with his daddy, and then start up again in August or September when the girls are ready to join us. That will take a lot of pressure of me for coming up with a last-minute curriculum, which is a huge relief.

In the meantime, I have made up Sweet Pea Academy ID cards for Rob and myself, as home educators, and for Jack, as a student. Then we can use those cards for teacher discounts at TAPS, Michaels, AC Moore, Barnes & Noble, etc. They're pretty cute, too (the cards). I like 'em.

So what else...

Oh, so the kids went to the Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic Saturday with Rob, to build a Mother's Day trellis planter. They each made one, and they all had a FANTASTIC time. It's a really cool program, if you haven't heard of it. Both Lowe's and Home Depot run these workshops for kids, teaching them all kinds of skills and making lots of projects. I've known about it for a long time, but this is the first one I actually signed them up for because I have no clue why. They can't wait to go again, though. The next one is in two weeks, and they're going to build a catapult! I don't think HD is running any this month, at least not here.

Also on Saturday, there was a big drawing at the local mall for a big package that I desperately wanted to win: a fitness package, spa package, and MAID SERVICE!!! All to one person. Oh, how I needed that. I came close, too. Chuck from the Morning Point (the radio station I often listen to) chose a paper and said, "Does anyone have a first name that starts with "M"? Do you live in Virginia Beach?" But alas, it was another M in VB. 

I did win a small garden prize, though. They had a separate game, a roulette wheel-type thing, and I put my piece on Kelly Clarkson. KC came up when the wheel was spun! I didn't know what I won, but of course, I was all full of the glee and stuff. It turned out to be some nice gardening gloves and a hat, and blueberry soap. The girls were with me, and they were even more excited than I was. They took our picture, but I don't know if it's going to be on the radio's website or what; a quick search there turned up nothing. Let me know if you spot us!

Hm, so on Thursday, Chloe went to her weekly therapy session. L called me in for the session, too. She wanted to talk about a picture Chlo had drawn the week before. I don't want to get too far into Chlo's psyche here, but let's just say that there were some very strong feelings about Robby, babies dying, and such. I was absolutely in tears. I felt terrible that she's having any kind of hard time with that. I guess all these years, I have been focusing on how Jack is going to grow up feeling about losing his twin, and I just haven't worried too much about any impact on Chloe for losing her baby brother. Or Sophia, for that matter. They've always been free to talk about him, but ... I don't know. It just took me a bit by surprise. I feel kind of stupid about that, now.

So there is a lot of anxiety on her part. We are supposed to make her feel as comfortable and safe as possible, and give her as much control as we can. Those anxious feelings can masquerade as ADHD, too. L was surprised when I told her we took Chlo off the med, but she didn't seem to have too much of a problem with it, like her pediatrician did. But I don't want to get into that again, right now.

Saturday night, we watched "The Business of Being Born" with the kids. That may surprise some people who think that kids that young have no business learning and seeing so much about human birth, but I honestly have zero problems with it, especially when it's done as tastefully as in that doc. It's nature, it's biology, and I am a very strong proponent of being completely honest with your kids, as long as that honesty doesn't harm them in any way. Half the time, they were bored watching it. They have had SO many questions - especially the girls - about giving birth lately, that I thought it would be helpful for them to see that, in fact, most babies are NOT cut out of their mothers' bellies and are delivered in a much less scary way. (Holy run-on.) I think it helped. Hard to say. Sophia still thinks babies all come by c-section, I think, but she also realizes that they are born vaginally, too. I don't think she quite gets it yet.

And of course, I was impacted by the movie, too. So was Rob. I feel strongly that anyone who is pregnant or thinking about it should watch this doc. I can't say for certain that things would have gone any differently for us (I had two emergency and one "emergent" c-sections), but I know that I would have started out, at least, with a midwife and a planned home birth if I knew what things were really like in the OB world. I thought I needed an OB/GYN because I wanted "someone who knew what they were doing" or something like that. Ha! I feel the fool for feeling that way about it, but what did I know. I was 24, scared and clueless.

There's little I can change about the horrible way my births went, but there is a lot I can change about the way my family eats. On my own, I also watched "Food, Inc.," a documentary about, well, the food industry in America, especially farming. I feel even more strongly than ever about changing our diets to reflect my/our concern for the environment, our health and nutrition, and the world in general. I can't wait to get that garden planted, so we can eat fresh food straight from our backyard. Whatever we can't grow ourselves, I want to supplement from the Farmer's Market (as much as possible) and the organic section of the grocery (as little as possible). I know it will cost, but hopefully the money we save on growing our own produce will offset the cost of buying non-genetically modified milk, for instance.  I definitely recommend y'all watch this one, too.

And I don't plan to let my kids eat another hamburger or pork chop. Certainly not from McDonald's or, say, Sonic. No more fast food, and no more fast food mystery shops. Rob will probably balk, but I'm going to stand firm on that. I'll probably let the kids watch Food, Inc. when the disk comes in the mail from Netflix, so we can talk about exactly why I want to implement these changes in our diets; it really wasn't that grotesque or anything like that. I didn't find it to be too graphic at all, and I was watching it from their standpoint the whole time.

It makes me more eager than ever to get out of this house and get a place on a nice lot, where we can maybe have a goat and some chickens, too. Fresh eggs! Fresh milk! It would be grand, so nice. If the boat plan doesn't happen for now, I definitely want to move out of here as soon as possible. We planned on being here about five years, and it's been over seven now. I hate it!! The house is to small (it's a townhouse), our neighbors are right on top of us, and forget about the nitpicky homeowner's association that drives us crazy.  I dream of living where Nikki lives, Chloe's troop leader - it's exactly the kind of place I want. A sprawling ranch with a huge yard and a garage... sigh. Maybe. Maybe.

Well, I could say a thousand more things, but I really must get this desk cleaned up.

Oh! One more thing before I forget:


I finished Luke's wool shorties for Stephanie. I started them about two weeks ago, but she commissioned me for them literally months ago, maybe even before he was born! So it's about dang time I got them done. I didn't do a drawstring, but that will be quickie-quick. I just don't know if she wants one yet, or what kind or color she'd want. But yay! Cute, right? I hope they fit, since they were custom-made to his measurements.

I guess that's it. Happy Mother's Day to all you moms and grandmas out there!


P.S. I watched Revolutionary Road, too, with Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Have you seen it? It was good, but it was no Titanic! Quite the opposite, quite quite.

Garden State


Before I forget to tell you, I wanted to let you know now that I have created a new blog for our homeschooling efforts. You can see it here. Don't forget to add it to your reader!


Saturday was a dud, despite a multitude of plans, because Rob had a migraine, and I was super-exhausted. Chloë was supposed to go to overnight camp with her troop; we were supposed to go to the She-Crab Soup Classic down on the beach; we were supposed to take the kids to a Mother's Day Bead Craft at Michael's; we were supposed to take the kids to an Earth Day event at the mall; we were supposed to go to church. None of that happened. Instead, we took it super-easy today and did practically nothing. Hopefully, Sunday will be more productive, but every once in a while you need a day like that, so I don't feel too bad about things.

Instead, I'll tell you about Friday, which was a pretty great day.

Rob didn't have to work, for whatever reason, so we spent the day together. Once again, I had stayed up all night, this time doing homeschooling research. He got up with the children, while I showered and got ready for the day. After they were on the bus and he showered, we got started.


First, we went to Harris Teeter, since it's still triple coupons week. This picture is from Thursday, though. If you'll remember, I went on Wednesday and got a bagfull of groceries for 11¢! On Thursday, I got all of the above for 13¢! So all that stuff for under a quarter. Pretty great.


For Friday's shopping trip, I had Rob got to Customer Service to get his own VIC card, so he could use 20 additional coupons (their daily limit). We had two carts. In the end, we bought all of the above - and more, mostly cleaning stuff, that I forgot to put in the photo because I didn't see the bag - for less than $40, saving about $110 in coupons. If you want more specific details on this shopping trip, please comment or email me, because I don't want to focus on that in this post.


After we went home and put everything away, we had to go out and do a couple of mystery shops. The first one was at a gas station, where I had to buy gas, coffee and a soda, and do a number of observations. Unforunately, when I started to do the report today, I realized I forgot to take an essential picture. It's still up n the air whether I will need to just go back for that picture, or entirely reshop the thing. Obviously, I hope it's the former.

The second shop was at the fast food chain where I go all the time. Throughout the day, whenever we were in the car and traveling to our various destinations, and during this fast food shop, we talked about home-schooling the kids. Rob hasn't been reading my blog this week, so he was completely unaware of my plans. I wanted to bring him into the fold, of course, because I want him to be a vital part of this process, this experience, this adventure. I want him to come home and hear all about what we learned that day, but I also want him to be part of the teaching, and the learning, himself.  He readily agrees.


As part of our discussion, we talked about the hypocritical nature of this particular fast food shop, in which I'm not allowed to purchase certain foods. That pretty much leaves beef and pork, which I don't eat, which leaves him and the kids to eat the food or throw it away. That really sucks, because he doesn't want to eat beef either, and I would be happy if the kids didn't as well. Unfortunately, these shops pay well, so I'm torn. I can get a meatless sandwich, but I've been told not to order it every single time, less they identify me as The Shopper, and then I won't be able to work for them anymore. It's a slight conundrum. In the end, I'm sure I will quit doing them, but maybe not immediately. We'll see.


Finally, we headed to the Farmer's Market, to get me some crab cakes from our favourite fishmonger, Uncle Chuck. He's an awesome guy; I just love him to bits. And he makes great crab cakes. All of the rest of his seafood is wonderful, too - and it's fairly local. If it's not caught here, then he gets in from the Outer Banks or the Eastern Shore. The fish that he was fileting that afternoon was brought in on a boat at the oceanfront that morning. We chatted with him and one of his other customers for a little while, and then we headed next door to a new garden shop that has joined the Market since the last time we were there.

One of the things that I stayed up all night researching was composting and the garden I want to install in our currently-horrible backyard. Here are the first 14 things I would like to start growing four ourselves, with apologies in advance if the pictures make you drool on your keyboard:

Tomato Super Sweet 100 

Cherry Tomatoes (Super Sweet 100 variety)

Spinach Teton 

Spinach - Teton variety

Summer Squash Saffron 

Summer Squash - Saffron variety

Lettuce Black-Seeded Simpson 

Lettuce - Black-Seeded Simpson Variety

Cucumber Bush Champion 

Cucumber - Bush Champion variety

Sweet Pepper Carnival 

Sweet Pepper - Carnival hybrid variety

Beets Chioggia 

Beets - Chioggia variety

Carrot Danvers Half-Long 

Carrots - Danvers Half-Long variety

Radish French Breakfast

Radish - French Breakfast variety

Swiss Chard Fordhook Giant 

Swiss Chard - Fordhook Giant variety

Pole Bean Kentucky Wonder
  Pole Bean - Kentucky Wonder variety

Eggplant Rosa Bianca

Eggplant - Rosa Bianca variety

 Snap Pea Super Sugar Snap V.P.

Super Sugar Snap Peas



Those are the specific varieties I want (when mentioned), and I can get them all from the Burpee website for about $50. I want to peruse local vendors for cheaper sources, though. Hopefully I can spend a little bit less than that, but that's not really too bad.


At the garden shop at the Farmer's Maket, we started out by looking at the vegetable plants, but I wasn't too impressed with the varietes available or the prices. We found container garden planters shaped like giant feet that we both loved, similar to the ones above. They were $65 apiece (!!), which I found outrageous, but I can't seem to find them anywhere online. Not that shipping wouldn't be substantial... However, when an employee, Eileen, came over to ask if we needed help, we ended up getting into a wonderful conversation with her about how to start our vegetable garden. I'm so glad we did; she was a font of useful and practical information. We were going to rent a rototiller and tear up the whole backyard, but she advised us to save our money and build the raised beds I already knew we'd need (bad soil, poor drainage) right on top of the grass, instead. Hopefully we can all design the garden and build the beds ourselves, and we'll certainly work the garden together. I'm completely excited; I can't wait to start.


It will be costly, though. With all those seeds, the soil and whatever (organic) fertilizer we end up buying, lumber for the beds, the composting system, watering, etc., gardening isn't the cheap thrill I thought it would be! I'm so naive. Between that and the curricula I want to buy for the kids, the belly-surgery money is going to go POOF! I'm disappointed, but that doesn't mean I'll never have the surgery. It just means I'll have to wait another year, at least. Maybe by then, I'll be ready to have all of the surgeries I want to have (arms, thighs and boobs) and can pay for them all at once with our 2010 tax refund. I don't look quite as bad as the poor guy above, but it is how I feel, especially when I look in the mirror, so I don't want to leave things as they are. And I am pretty happy with how I look in clothes, except for my underthings and bathing suit. With summer coming, that stinks a bit - but what the hell, I didn't look any better before I had my gastric bypass!


It was just about time for the kids to come home from school by then, so we headed home. I was all set to relax while Rob took the kids across the street to the lake to run around, but then Rob came racing back to tell me about the newborn ducklings I had to see. Sophia came along beside me on the Big Wheel that she's about two years too old for, but she didn't care.


This mama had her hands full with no fewer than TEN ducklings trailing along behind her, wherever she went. I can relate, but ten! All at once! Phew. She is a brave woman bird. We found one egg whose inhabitant didn't make it out, so that was sad, but it's nature. It's what happens, all the time, even in people. I try to be that philosophical about my own loss, but it's obviously very hard! Anyway, these little critters were terribly cute, and I stood there and took about a dozen pictures and a video of them. I loved it when one little guy kept daydreaming and getting behind, only to look up and realize his mother and siblings were two feet away. Then he'd swim as fast as his little legs could carry him back to the pack. Adorable!


My feet. I took this picture by accident, with my iPhone, but I liked it.

Stim and Luke were headed over a few hours later for Game Night, so I had some cleaning up to do after the ducky visit. The kids helped me straighten up the office and living room, while Rob worked a little bit on the kitchen. It wasn't spotless by any means, but it was a damn sight better than what it was before we started!

Just before they got here, Chloë started pitching a fit about going to camp the next morning. She just did NOT want to go, but she could give no reason why not, so I was insisting that she go. She was furious and in tears. I brought her over to me to try to talk to her more calmly, when I noticed her poor, infected finger. (It was our second finger mishap of the day: I'd shaved off the top of my finger - a piece of the nail and the nailbed under it - in the shower that morning!) A week or so earlier, she'd had a large hangnail, so I cut it off with nail clippers. A couple of days ago, I noticed it was infected, so we put triple-antibiotic ointment on it. Well, we forgot about it, and it was a billion times worse when I noticed it. Immediately, I knew she had to be taken to the doctor. She burst into tears afresh, but there was no question about it. It was really bad. Rob jumped up and got her into his truck.



Stim-fam arrived while I was getting The Littles ready for bed. I was about to send them up, when they reminded me they hadn't yet had dinner! And it was after 8 PM! Whoopsy-daisy. I gave them each a half a bagel; I was just not in the mood to cook. It was hot, and I do NOT cook when the kitchen is fully clean. I just can't. Can't. They were satisfied, anyway.


Soon enough, Chloe and Rob returned from the ER. Poor girl! She'd had quite a bad time. They gave her a shot in the finger to numb it, and then sliced open the oozing infection to drain it. Yuck! And OW! It hurts a great deal, now. She keeps telling me she feels her heartbeat in her finger; I tell her I feel the same thing in mine. I feel bad that I wasn't there for her when she was going through that, though. Poor little one!



Once we got all the kids to bed and Steph had nursed baby Luke a few times, we started playing Quelf. To loosen us up, we girls each had a winecooler, and Tim had a beer. Maybe. I can't actually remember whether he had one or not, but alcohol definitely helps when playing this game. It was a blast!! I wanted to play a second game, but they had to go. Too bad, because we had all been laughing our asses off during play. Good times, good times. (I was Mrs. Picklefeather, in case you were wondering.)

After they left, I crashed. Hard. And that's all there is to it!