Entries categorized "Friday Fragments" Feed

Friday Fragments: Episode 5.15.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time
Bits and pieces,
Pieces and bits,
so I don't have a fit.
(It's better than rhyming "tits," isn't? My mind is in the gutter tonight - okay, always - and that was my first inclination...)
 I used to own the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack CD way back in the day, even before I'd seen the movie. I loved every single song on it, and then it was stolen from me. Man! That sucked. But I found the complete album on YouTube, and now I am again obsessed with it.
Faith Evans' "Kissing You" is on right now, and I just love it. ::SWOON::
This guy has been inpatient in the VA Hospital for the past week, ever since I posted the last Friday Fragments episode. I miss him like crazy! He should be coming home today, God willing, and I can't wait! It's too often, too long, too damned much lately.
Still no Miranda. It's probably going to take some doing to get her back, but I'm hoping it will be the beginning of June. So a couple more weeks. In the meantime, my amazing friend Shontell has been letting me borrow her car to get groceries and do a few necessary errands, and I love her for it. Thanks, girly-girl!
The length of my to-do list is, once again and lately constantly, inversely proportional to the strength of my motivation to get things done. Sucks. I really, really need to get some energy. Maybe it's time for another iron infusion and/or Vitamin B12 injections?! :/
Pitch Perfect 2 comes out today! I'm stoked, the girls are stoked, and Jack couldn't care less. Regardless, if Rob doesn't come home, I'm dragging his butt with us to go see it. I have four free tickets to see this flick, and I intend to go! Prontissimo! I know it'll be good for a much-needed laugh.
That's it for me this week! Relatively short and sweet.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday Fragments: Episode 5.8.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time
♫ "Another day, another dollar, another war, another tower went up where the homeless had their homes..." ♫ 
Oh, hi, there! Sorry, I guess a little Jewel needed to bust out of me instead of what I meant to write. That ever happen to you?
Anyway, here we are at Friday again. TGIF! Though, when you are a stay-at-homeschooling mom of a retired husband, all the days kinda blend together, and it doesn't make a lick of difference much whether it's Tuesday or Saturday. At least some weeks. And this is one of those weeks.
(Oh, look, it would appear I'm in full-on babble mode today...awesome.)
Link up here with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmented today, folks. If not, just leave a comment so I know you were here. I comments!
So, this sucks, and I haaaaate even writing about it, but I'm gonna anyway: Our van was towed away in the middle of the night yesterday. I am not sure where it is or why it got towed, but I suspect being behind on the payments by a couple of months is to blame. Heh. (It's not entirely my fault. Our bank account is messed up, like, permanently, and our online bill payment function is currently disabled. I tried to pay the bill, but I was unsuccessful.) Instead of staying on top of it, though, I put it in my "I'll get to that...later" file, and later never came. So I do take most of the blame. 
Either way, it completely sucks butt, and I am terribly disappointed right now. I'm going to get Miranda (the van) back, but it might be a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I tried to rent a car yesterday, and let's just say that was a big FAIL. I'm trying again today. Oh, and Enterprise? You are dead to me.
I can't get this post off italics, and it's driving me crazy. Try to ignore it.
While we were waiting for our new couch to arrive - our last one bit the dust utterly and completely - the girls broke out my old college Organic Chemistry model set and started building molecules. My oldest kid, Chloë (in the purple, on the left), actually said to me, "Mom, I wish you hadn't lost the book. I want to learn more!" About Orgo, people. 
I love that. LOVE. (And not just 'cause I have a minor in Chemistry...)
There was much cheering and joy happening in Casa de Odette when the couch of newness was delivered. We were sick of sitting on a mattress on the floor, y'all. I had three criteria: No leather (being pescetarian, it wouldn't do), easy to clean, and cheap-but-nice.
Welp, two out of three will have to do, because it's a leather blend. It was on sale, the price was right, and hey, we needed a damn couch. We aren't Moroccan, after all. Floor pillows are cool... for like, a day. After that, it just hurts your tushy.
(And yes, it's I-hate-it beige, but I figured that would be more easy to accessorize than the University of Miami-orange I very nearly chose instead of this one. I mean, we didn't *all* go to UM, after all. Sad to say.)
Remind me to tell you how "Turnt Up!" became my catchphrase for a night, last year. That's a post for another day. I'd get turnt up just talking about it, right now!
Anyway, I did a mystery shop this week at a national retailer's local outlet, and when I spotted this shot glass, I knew it would have to be what I made for my required purchase item. I have an extensive shot glass collection, I'm turnt up all the dang time, and here she is at home. What a beaut!
Pepper, our Maine Coon kitteh-kitteh-cat, has grown quite large of late. At 2.5 years old, he still has some growing to do (this breed is considered full-grown at about three years of age), but man! He is, as Jack says, "one large cat."
To remind you, this was Pepper when we found him wandering the middle of the road in October of 2012:
He'd just had a bath, obviously, because he was ravaged with fleas and nearly died from flea anemia. We thought he'd be sickly for life. Boy, were we wrong! He is quite healthy now, strong as an ox! I bet he's pushing 15 pounds. And still room to grow...? Oof!
In other kitty news, Sophie's kitten, Sugarplum, is adjusting to life without her littermate, Spike. Pepper has taken to her, and he bathes and snuggles with her. It's quite sweet.
This is my home pharmacy right now. Kind of ridiculous. What's even more so is that I have all these meds at my disposal, and I'm in pretty much near-constant pain. My entire skeleton throbs and aches, 24/7. It sucks. I'm resigned to the fact that yet another thing is wrong with me, and I'm pretty sure it's an autoimmune issue. Once Hubs is done with the daily in-home nursing care, and his surgery wound is all healed up, I'm going to make an appointment to get a referral to a rheumatologist. What's the opposite of thrilled? That's what I am.
To kind of have a chill evening, after the stress of Miranda being "stolen" from us, Chloë and I walked to Publix nearby and rented a couple of movies. The girls didn't last through the end of The Book of Life (which has an awesome soundtrack, by the by), and Jack was passed out there on the floor well before the end of The Boxtrolls. We opted to turn it off and finish watching it another time, when they're, y'know, awake and stuff.
I would be remiss if I let the month go by without mentioning that May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Since Hubs' cerebellar cavernous hemangioma and the subsequent craniotomy to remove it - and bits of surrounding, healthy brain tissue along with it - in February 2015 have set the tone for the past two years, I've made this my Facebook profile pic for the remainder of the month.
Go Gray for May! #BTAM
Back to the Roots - Product Specifications
So this week was not without some good - no, really, really great - news. A random post on a blog I read mentioned that this organic mushroom farm by the spectacular company Back to the Roots (which was new to me at the time) was on sale on Amazon. Since environmentalistm, local/organic/sustainable eating and living are big passions for me and somewhat for the rest of Team Odette, I did some poking around on their website.
Long story short, they were looking for Regional Brand Ambassadors for diferent parts of the country, with Florida as its own "region" on the list. They asked for résumés and cover letters from interested applicants. I bucked the trend and just shot them an email instead, with all of my reasons for why I'd be great as their Florida RBA.
Well, days went by. Then weeks. And then, almost a month later, this week, I received an email back, stating that I sounded absolutely PERFECT to represent Back to the Roots for Florida. I don't want to jump the gun and congratulate myself just yet, since they'll be talking to me more when they expand into Florida this summer, but I was crazy excited when I got that message! Woot woot!!!
And that,  my friends, is that for this week. Have a lovely!

Friday Fragments: Episode 5.1.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Look at me, fragmentin' three weeks in a row! Link up with Mrs. 4444 here if you have to brain-dump today, too.


Welp, Hubs has been hospitalized yet again, this time for surgery to remove an abscess that grew from nothing to absolutely enormous practically overnight. He's in horrendous pain and can't get comfortable, and I really feel for the guy. His retirement has completely sucked so far, these past two years. I hate that for him!

Nevertheless, as high as he was when I took this picture, he's still able to crack jokes and whoop my arse at Jeopardy! which pisses me off to no end. ;)

In addition to Rob having emergency surgery on Wednesday, this week has overall been a huge load of crap for our family. Instead of dwelling on that, though, I'm going to focus on cheerier, more pleasant things in this post. So here I am with just a few random thoughts.


I've been following Kathy B.'s Art Projects For Kids website and blog for years now, and we have done many of the projects she, an elementary school art teacher, puts forth on the site. This week, we chose to take it easy on school a little bit because of all the awfulness that's going on, so we opted to do this tropical fish watercolor painting assignment.


The top one is Sophia's, and this one is Chloë's. Not surprisingly, both girls jumped right in and got started. Chloë, true to herself, worked slowly and carefully, sticking close to the original form of the APFK assignment's detailing. On the other hand, as usual, Sophia went in her own direction and opted to do different species of fish of her own choosing and not exactly listen to my instructions. Haha! I love the flounder!

Scan_20150501 (2)

And here is Jack's. What impresses me the most about this is that, despite his constant proclaiming of "I hate Art!" (as you may remember from last week's entry) and all the tears he shed at the beginning of this assignment, he still did it anyway and turned out a not-too-shabby piece of work! He may be a cantankerous soul, but he is also a persistent one.


Speaking of websites and blogs I've followed for a long time, The Loopy Ewe is another one of them. I have been knitting ever since I was pregnant with the twins in Guam and found out I was going to be delivering the babies in the middle of winter in Virginia instead of near the equator. I thought I better learn the craft, to keep my three-babies-under-three warm myself, since there is absolutely no store selling warm clothes in Micronesia, y'all.

Anyway, back to The Loopy Ewe. Every week, Sheri (who I have actually had the pleasure to meet while shopping at her bricks-and-mortar yarn store, back when they were still based in St. Louis, Missouri, instead of Colorado) posts a store update with new yarns, on the blog. When I read it this week, I was instantly covetous of this orange Wollmeise, once one of the most highly sought-after yarns in the world. I actually scored a skein once, but we had, I think, eight (eight!) cats at that time, and sadly it didn't fare so well. Sigh. But I refrained from pulling out my debit card, because the knitting occasions happening around here lately have been few and far between. (It is soooo lovely, though.)


Please be sure and check out my post pinned at the top of this blahg, about Maria Bailey and her 5 Trades Away project. I still have this to swap - it's free, and I'll ship it to you! - and would love to trade it up for something for Maria to auction for the pregnant woman of Uganda. Thanks!

Oh, and I actually did have some good news this week. I've been seeing an OB/GYN for the past two months for these painful ovarian cysts that keep rupturing off my left ovary. I've had a hysterectomy, but they left me that so I wouldn't go into menopause at 31 years old. Anyway, they found a huge mass measuring about 9x5 cm, and he wasn't sure it was benign. My tests all came back Wednesday: every tumor marker was negative, and they didn't see the mass on my last ultrasound. It hurts like hell, but it must have been another cyst that finally ruptured. Hallelujah!

Well, that's it for me, this week, and for April. I'm looking forward to seeing what flowers May brings, because April sure had its share of showers for us.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments: Episode 4.24.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I'm back again! What is this, two weeks in a row? Can you stand it? I know!

Link up here if you're fragmenting today!


Silly as it may seem, this might just be my favorite thing from our field trip to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum on Wednesday. If you missed it (and you know you did), you can read more about that here.

I hear it snowed all over parts north of here today. Well, yesterday. On April 23rd. Yes, I live south of Miami, Florida, but my attitude is more of dismay and sympathy than nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And seeing as I was raised in Central New York, I have experienced this phenomenon myself. It sucks. I know. So sorry, y'all.


For Earth Day, after the railroad museum, we made a couple of stops here and there. One stop was at local Disney Store to get our free Disneynature Monkey Kingdom reusable tote bags. I love a tote bag. Save the planet, and all, you know; that's me.


Anyway, that there is 12-year-old, itty-bitty Jack piggybacking on 10-year-old baby sister, Sophia. Nope, that's not a camera trick; he really is that small! And the Yoda hat? Totally works for him.


Miguel, the Castmember at the Disney Store, was all about the enthusiasm for my camera, when I asked him to pose with my freebie tote bag. I loved it. (Not a bad looking young man, either, huh?) And, he let me make two small purchases and get two bags. I loved that, also.



We also received our free milkshakes and fruitshakes from EVOS, which serves AirbakedTM food instead of deep-fried, much of it organic. I had not heard of it before Earth Day, so this was a great marketing ploy to get us in the door and come back for more. We didn't buy anything Wednesday, but we do plan to come back soon, probably on a Kids-Eat-Free Sunday. (I love a deal, y'know?) Since they're a lot closer to Homestead than our beloved Elevation Burger, we're anxious to try EVOS food and compare the two restaurants. Have you been to either one?

(Note: It's not McDonald's. You won't be paying Mickey D's prices.)

Color Me Mine - The Art Of Having Fun


We attempted to use our $60 Groupon for Color Me Mine, for "ceramics and sitting fees" for four people that day, but lo and behold, it doesn't actually cover all the costs, only some of the costs, and there is pretty much nothing ceramical that would have cost little enough so as not to have required me to fork out any additional money. Can you say, disappointment? We were all bummed. 

Except Jack. As Jack says, "I hate Art!"

So we'll go back sometime between payday and May 1st, when the Groupon expires... but I was pretty upset that we couldn't get our Arts and Crafts on that day. Stay tuned to see what ceramics everyone ends up picking out!


I had a mystery shop at a semi-local movie theater to do that night, so in honor of Earth Day yet again, we opted to go as a family to see Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom. I cannot say for sure whether I've seen any other Disneynature films before this, but maybe Oceans...? In any event, I absolutely loved Monkey Kingdom. It was fascinating to me as a Biologist, but heart-tugging to me as a mother. Definitely a show worth watching.

(And, I thought Tina Fey did an excellent job narrating it. What is she, some kind of professional?!)

Image result for two thumbs up


Two thumbs up, all the way around!

P.S. I adore that Disneynature films donates money to the programs and communities shown in the feature, in honor of each moviegoer who sees it opening week. Yay for Team Odette and the monkeys! Have you seen it yet?


After watching the Toque Macaques' antics for the last hour and a half, my monkeys were all amped up and silly-goosing around when let loose outside the theater. Good reminder how influential screen time can be, yo.

Welp, that's it for me this week. Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments: Episode 4.17.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I haven't fragmented in a dog's age, but I felt like a brain dump was necessary, so here I am! These posts are for the purpose of shaking out all that loose change rattling around in our brains that isn't big enough for a whole post. Link up here with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmentin' today!

Mike & Gail

First and most importantly, I'd like to give some birthday shout-outs to some very important people in the lives of Team Odette! Above are Hubs' twin brother and sister, Mike and Gail, who turned the big 5-0 on Thursday (yesterday). Happy half-century, you two!

Stacey 40

Also, my big sister Stacey Jean is turning the big 4-0 tomorrow, April 18th! WOW, huge milestone years for all of the siblings! Happy fourth decade, Sis; I you so much!


When Rob (Hubs) was in the hospital for eight days, I did my best to give the kids a decent passing time for that period. I had free tickets to go to the movies, so we went to see Home, which they had been talking about for a while.

All three of them agreed that it was better than Big Hero 6, but I greatly disagreed with that assessment, since I loved the Disney flick. I could have waited easily for it to come out on DVD, and the only thing that tickled me were the running gags about "My Mom..." and "going Number Three." Other than that, big fat "MEH" from me!

Have you seen it, and if so, with whom do you agree?


This was the afternoon I sprung Rob from "The Clink," a.k.a. the hospital where he was staying through the beginning of April. I had brought plenty of treats to the hospital ward for the other patients, including four dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, dozens of magazines of all kinds of genres, and a huge batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and this pleased me greatly to do. However, nothing made me happier than this moment, when he was released to me to come home. I lurve this guy!


Partially to celebrate Rob's homecoming, we went to the Miami Youth Fair that evening. Ohmagosh, it was hot!! I rented him a wheelchair, since he was feeling pretty dizzy (and, secret? that helps carry the bags we collect along the way, too). Here are the girls in our ticket redemption line. I do have to say, I think they look so cute in their glasses!


Of course, when you visit the fair, you are required to eat fair food, right? My obligatory fair food is cheesy fries with excessive amounts of vinegar and, I must confess, among the five of us we shared about three large orders that day! Jack, however, is our carnivorous kid (the girls have all but sworn off the meat-eating through no attempt of mine to have them do so), so he was all about getting a turkey leg.

We laughed so hard at the enormosity (that's a word, right?) of the turkey legs at the fair compared to his diminutive size. He put quite a pretty good dent in it, too, before Daddy had to take over!


Soft-serve ice cream... yet another food from the fair in which one must indulge. I mean, c'mon. It's the fair. You're not getting a salad, people.


We mostly walked around and looked at exhibits, ate, rode rides and... played games. Wait, that's kind of a 'duh,' because that is what the fair is, after all. 

Anyway, I spent entirely too much money on games, because Sophie decided she had to win this "hippocorn," as Rob calls it, for her dad. She's a sweet kid, that girl.


Poor Jack has had a time of it lately. Between an awful dentist visit (we have known for years he has bad teeth, so this was not a surprise) and a subsequent visit to the Miami Children's Hospital Emergency Department, plenty of work was determined to be needing done. But none has been done. Our dental bills, for the five of us, are going to be astronomical. And we are triple-insured for this. SUCKAGE, y'all.


Speaking of Jack emergencies, he tripped over a rope his younger sister had tied to the bucket he wanted to use for making bubble wand mix the other day, and he landed smack on his cheekbone on the edge of the bucket.

Image result for ouch

His cheek swelled up enormously and turned black in seconds. This was on Sophie's 10th birthday, this past Monday, so quite an unfortunate accident indeed. I delivered him and his dad to the local ED for X-rays and Ibuprofen, and it was determined that nothing was broken. Phew! That poor cheek has turned 57 shades of ugly since then, though!


Rob and I went out to downtown Miami and South Beach for a fun date night a couple nights later, and that was a much needed reprieve from the stresses of previous weeks. At the one restaurant we visited, our bartendress was quite moronical. She did not know how to make anything normal. Holy cow. I'm glad Rob didn't decide to blow her mind by ordering his usual favorite stumper, a Colorado Bulldog!

In the end, I ordered this, a "No. 8," which was quite good with its raspberry-mint essence. I liked it, though I'm not a fan of mojitos or any other minty beverage. Seriously, though... as Rob pointed out, she wasn't there for her brains (quite a hottie, she was)!


At that same restaurant, our food and table service were exquisite. We had this Bufala Mozzarella deliciousness that included pine nuts, pomegranate arils, and some kind of sweet hazelnut mashy thing that we quite liked.


My scallop dinner was delectable, but unreasonably priced: I paid $36 for this plate and received three not-even-that-large scallops. Do the math. If I wasn't being reimbursed for this meal, I would have passed out!


On the other hand, our dessert was quite creative and simply amazing: a creamy topped Monkeybread concoction. What? Monkeybread?! How unusual. I loved the idea of that being on the menu at a fancy restaurant nearly as much as the dish itself. Would you order it?

041115 Pinkberry Ocean Drive FroYo

After all that food, it was such a tragedy that we still had to get some FroYo for another shop, but we went through with the horrible disaster. I didn't eat any and gave the whole thing to my bottomless pit husband. Apparently this brand, which we were experiencing for the first time compared to Menchie's and Sweet Frog, tasted a lot more like actual yogurt than, you know, ice cream? I can't say personally, though I think I might actually have liked that.


And last but definitely not least, I came up with idea for instituting a Swear Jar all on my own, since I have a HA-rrible (as I pronounce it, being from New York) potty mouth. No one forced me; I brought this upon myself. I bought a set of large mason jars - because I couldn't seem to get just one - and we hot-glued the lid shut so I couldn't break into it for emergency gas/Diet Coke/what-have-you funds.

Um. Yeah. Bad idea. The kids are making bank off me. That jar is now full to capacity after a mere three or four days, and we have to start a new one. Most of that money is from me. The kids also have to throw in a quarter (it's 25¢ per swearing offense, as well) for saying "Shut up!" or calling each other "stupid," "idiot," or such things, but unlike me, they seem to have learned their lessons quite quickly.

At this rate, we'll have the down payment for a live-aboard boat in no time. Oy vey...

Welp, I think that's enough of a brain-dump for me this week. Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. Here's a gratuitous cute picture of Spike, Rob's new kitten, having a nosh:


Friday Fragments, Version 5.2.14

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Link up here if you've got some brain gems to deposit on us this morning!

So today's the day. I'm headed to the neurosurgeon, CT and MRI images from the last month in hand, to discuss what this means for Ye Olde-Fashioned Cerebrum. I'm nervous, as the lesion that I have can explain some of my symptoms of psychosis, which we've been explaining away as part of my Bipolar I diagnosis. Plus, the vain part of me just doesn't want to shave my head - again! 

I'm on the fence, and this morning's neuro visit may help me make the decision, but I'm strongly considering putting the kids back in public school in the fall. It kind of breaks my heart a little bit, but I feel like, especially as they age up (Chloë will be 13 {!!!!} then), they need more than I am able to give them. I want to give them the best possible chance at success - however they may choose to define it - in life, and deep down, I feel like homeschooling is letting them down in that regard. I don't know. No need to weigh in with your thoughts on this one; I don't really want outside input at this point.

Why do they ruin awesome songs by overplaying them? It's no secret I'm a Top 40 pop music fan, so of course all the songs I listen to are generally overplayed, but it seems like every other song on the radio is John Legend's "All of Me." I adore it, but I'm ready for it to fade out a little bit.

Our washing machine is on the fritz, and we're out of clean towels. Rob has tried, unsuccesfully, to repair it, which sucks. I do not relish the idea of hitting up a laundromat while we wait for a repair!

I've stalled on writing my book. I've written out the whole outline and know pretty much exactly what the whole book will say. It's just a matter of taking the time to get the words out of my head and into print. With due diligence, though, I just know it can be great. 

I did something quite naughty on Facebook a couple of days ago. I tagged my childhood tormentor in one of her own pictures as "The Face of Evil." Of course, she will have to - and won't - approve it, but in the moment, I felt better. Now, I just wish I hadn't put myself out there like that.

I got a new bike! It's adorable:


I'm having fun riding it around the nabe. I hadn't ridden a bike in about 17 years, so I'm a bit wobbly and have wiped out once, but it's good times!

Team Odette went out to Miami Beach last night for a dinner mystery shop. I was supposed to stage a complaint; I didn't have to fake one, though, as there were copious problems along the way. And Rob thought the staff were all condescending hipsters, whereas I thought... they were pretty cool. We often have widely disparate perceptions of such things, which I find interesting. Also, for the amount of money people pay to live and visit South Beach, you'd think the roads wouldn't be so completely sucktastic! Anyway, here's a selfie the lady babies and I took while there:


Have a great day, you guys. Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments, Version 4.11.14

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Hey folks! I haven't fragged in a long, long time, since I've been such a horribly inconsistent blahgger during this past Year of the Brain Drama. So, welcome back, if you're visiting here from Half Past Kissin' Time and, somehow, still remember who I am. If not, welcome! Stick around, I'll be posting here again soon. Like, within a month, I swear. ;)

Link up here if you're playing along today - and read the post to see how you can win some cool prizes, too!

It was the weirdest thing, y'all: I got stung by a pissed-off bee? Wasp? Hornet? I don't know. Some kind of flying black insect with a nasty sting and a bad attitude. He dropped dead shortly after injecting me right below my left eye with his venom, and part of me cheered his demise while the biologist in me felt bad for helping to hasten it.

ANYWAY... it hurt like hell, but by the time I finished the drive home from Tampa to Miami, the swelling had gone down and it didn't hurt a bit. So it was with my surprise that I realized, the next morning, that the swelling had not only returned, but my left cheek was numb as well. This went away, and returned, and went away, and returned, repeatedly over the next few days, until Monday afternoon when my friends insisted I go to Urgent Care and get it checked out. Steph (of Stim fame) urged me to go immediately, and so I went.

After hearing my tale and seeing my left-side-droopy face, they sent me to the Emergency Department at the nearby hospital. The PA there diagnosed me with Bell's Palsy, completely unrelated to the sting, and ordered blood tests and a CT scan.

While I was getting my blood drawn, the lab techs informed me that my room was ready. "Room? What room?" I asked, puzzled. Long story short, my bloodwork was fine except for dehydration, but my CT showed a lesion in my left temporal lobe. What? Seriously? The doctor said it could be anything from nothing at all to an old infarction (a stroke? a temporary ischemic attack? Who knows?) to a tumor. They ordered an MRI for the next day and told me to sleep. 

Short story long, and I suppose this is now about three fragments too long for this post, they cut me loose the next day and told me to have an MRI as an outpatient. I'm getting it next week. I wasn't worried until I started losing some of my memory and partial sight in my left eye tonight, but I'm still not too terribly panicked. Hubs and I can't both have brain tumors, amIright? That would just be insane.

Having had a craniotomy to remove his tumor on February 5th, Rob is doing, well, not much better. He still uses a cane and, sometimes, even needs to revert to his walker. He sleeps all the time. However, we can carry on a semi-normal conversation now, and he can still make me laugh like nobody else. I guess when they remove mineralized bits of your brain and dig around inside your skull, it's pretty amazing to think you should have been all better by now (had it not been for last year's Cyberknife procedures). I won't rush him.

You know what I hate? When the po-po are out cruising on the Turnpike and going 5 MPH under the speed limit. Are they playing games with us, or what? Of course, everyone stays behind the police car for fear of getting a ticket... everyone except me. Ain't nobody got time for that! I always pass the officer, going no more than 5 MPH over the speed limit, yet keeping a careful eye on my mirror. I mean, I've only gotten *mumble, mumble* speeding tickets in the last 20 years. #scofflaw

Speaking of the Turnpike and weird things happening, guess what? I live in Miami, right? One of the biggest, busiest, most heavily-trafficked cities in the nation? So imagine how much I laughed when I had to divert my path off the Turnpike today because several cows - yes, cows, like, moo-moo - were wandering around, blocking the cars. HEE-larious.

I had this conversation with 11-year-old Jack and 12-year-old Chloë today:

Chloë: "Mom, I stubbed my toe on that levitated thing between the bathroom and the bedroom. It hurts!"

Mel: "I'm sorry. But, 'levitated' means floating in the air...'

C: "Oh, so what should I say? 'Elevated' is the right word, right?"

M: "You could say that. I would just say 'raised'..." (I always trail off, it seems.)

Jack: "Wait, what was levitating?"

C: "Nothing was!"

J: "No really, what was levitating?!"

C: "UFOs, geez!"

M: **laughs**

{End scene.}

Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of my mom's death at age 33 from untreated diabetes. I was seven years old. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life, and mine have not been an easy 37 years. So you'd think, after three decades of asking my sister and me on the phone, "Do you know what today is?" my dad would get the clue that no, we will not ever forget the day.

(Get yourself checked out regularly, folks. Senseless deaths like hers ... sigh.)


So, tomorrow we drive back down to Key West. I have lots of work to do down there. It's great because, hey, money... but I have no jobs to do on the way down or back, and it's a good three hours each way. And it always rains on the way back. Never fails.

Thanks for stopping by! Maybe, just maybe, I'll see you again here next week for more fragments. (My grandma always told me the road to hell was paved with good intentions, which I never really understood as a kid because I thought she was telling me I should have bad intentions!)


Friday Fragments, Version 11.15.13


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

If you've been following along here for some time, you know that my husband, Rob, retired in June of this year and subsequently had 5 Cyberknife surgeries on his brain tumor. The Cyberknife worked; the tumor is gone, but it also caused more problems: there is bleeding and swelling in Rob's brain, and he's been in and out of the Neuro-ICU for months to get treatment.

Well, an update:

I took him for yet another MRI on Monday, and brought him to the neurosurgeon's office on Tuesday to go over the test. He confirmed the tumor IS gone, and depending on contrast, it looks like the swelling is going down.

That's all well and good, but Rob has to stay on the problematic steroid meds that have caused a 30-lb weight gain, major joint pain (he's walking with a cane now, at 41), mental confusion, and a host of other issues he'd probably rather I didn't report here. After the next planned MRI in January, we're hoping he can step down off the Decadron, because ugh! It's terrible for him. 

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers during this time.


No more Odyssey for us. We got our Honda Ody in 2010, at the end of the model year. Three years and change later, we were here, at home, when Jack said there was someone outside. It was late at night. I opened the door, and there was Penelope being towed away, at racehorse speed, unceremoniously. 

We have LoJack, so we knew exactly where it was, and why:

1.  Our registration was expired, because we missed a few payments and Honda wouldn't, therefore, give us the title information so we could go get new, current, Florida tags. So our homeowner's association had us towed, right from our reserved parking space. At 11 PM. NICE.

2. In order to get it back, we needed to show current title and tag information. Honda now said no, we would need to pay the full $18K owed on the vehicle in order to get that from them. REALLY NICE. Guess fewer people care about retired veterans (with brain tumors, no less) than you might think?!

3. Not having 18K, we took some of the money we received as a donation from a veteran's fund to buy this (pictured above) 2004 Chevy Trailblazer in cash, paid in full, and immediately got new tags and stickers so we would not get towed again. This was about 5 or 6 weeks after Penelope got towed. Rob was trying to buy us a car, but his brain was too muddled to complete the process, so I took over and got it done in one day. I got fed up with all the walking everywhere, needless to say!

4. Today, a week after getting "Miguel" (because this Chevy felt masculine to me, and because the seller spoke only Spanish, LOL), we finally went down to the shady-@$$ tow lot to get all of our belongings - including the kids' booster seats - out of Penelope. On our way home, I called up Honda and told them where they could pick up their freakin' van. The guy on the phone was actually very sympathetic; he actually apologized and sounded genuinely sorry when I explained our situation, but of course there was nothing he could do about it.

So. That's that. Miguel is pretty decent, has a few minor problems and fixes are necessary, but we'll get to those in time. My only real complaint is that there is no 3rd row of seating, so the kids are all right next to each other in the back, and Oh. My. God, are they driving us crazy with the squabbling!! They aren't used to that, but guess what? They'll have to get used to it, because this is what we've got right now!


I love globes. I love maps; I love anything that represents traveling the world (or even space)! So when we spied this antique wooden one at the thrift store across the street from the tow place, I had to mosy on over there and take a wee gander. Rob was guessing $150, while I thought more like a hundred bucks, but the guy only wanted $75. Nevertheless, it was about $74 more than I was prepared to spend at the moment, so I had to take a pass. I walked quickly through the terribly-cool shop to see what other wares he had, and I found quite a few interesting things. I bought nothing, but it sure was fun to take a peek!


Since we've been house-bound for a month and a half, or however long we didn't have a vehicle, I've been suffering a bad case of cabin fever. So I got on the computer yesterday morning and, after deciding driving down to Key West and back was not what I wanted, looked around Groupon to see if there were any good deals on something fun (and cheap!) we could do closer to home. (It's about a 7-hour round-trip to Key West from here.) I found it! We headed up to Sawgrass Mills Mall, in Fort Lauderdale, Groupon for the arcade in hand, to have some much-needed respite from all the drama and negativity we've been dealing with for a while. The kids LOVE the fountains there; they are always walking up and around them and making wishes... I hope they come true.


The Groupon was for two hours of unlimited play on the attractions, including tons and tons of awesome games and ticket-giving machines for redeeming prizes. Gameroom is a really fun place for kids, if you're ever in Ft. Laudie... Sophia played this claw game and won a huge ball that she's been driving me crazy ever since, bouncing and tossing around in the house. It's just a matter of time until something gets broken...!

So, we were hoping Rob would get at least a 30% disability determination from the VA. They recently made their decision: 90%! We are no longer destitute, struggling to put food on the table, and all that fun stuff. We can finally pay our bills again, have a running, paid-off vehicle, plenty of food, and can occasionally actually go do something. It's a really good feeling. Honey, I'm sorry that the Navy broke you, but thank you for your service to our country - and our family. ♥

Lowe's Build & Grow

The kids had a Build & Grow Clinic at Lowe's on Saturday morning. Rob usually takes them, but he wasn't up to it, so for the first time I went. Oh, my word. First, there are 3 dozen kids, pounding away, so I was glad not to have one of my ever-present headaches.

Second, I'm not so good with building stuff. It's just not my forte. So when the kids asked me for help, I was all, "uhh, uhh, okayyy, I'll try..." and they looked at me just as uncertainly as I was looking at the directions. 

In the end, my kiddos stayed true to form, and this is how it went:

Jack decided to skip Mommy's help and went off in a corner to build it himself. He did a good job, since he's very perfecting and meticulous about these things, but his pull-back car wouldn't go. He was pretty mad about it and didn't want to take the dang thing home. I insisted.

Chloë, my dainty little flower, needed TONS of help hammering in her nails, and she followed the directions to a 'T.' Her car didn't go when pulled back, either, but she didn't care because she decorated it with pretty little pink flower stickers, and that was good enough for her.

Sophia didn't follow the directions at ALL, needed a bare minimum of help from me - just to finish hammering in a few nails - and her car worked perfectly. That's my Sophie for you! 

That's about it from me this week. We're headed to the Fish Fry and Seafood Festivale here in Homestead tomorrow (another cheap Groupon!), so look for pictures of that on "Sundays in my City" in a coupla days.






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. ;)

Friday Fragments, Version 10.17.13

Link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmented today!
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I haven't played along in aaaaages, maybe once since the beginning of Summer, so I hope this isn't too terribly long for y'all. I'll try to be concise (even though that's not really in my nature).
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I bought the kids' Christmas outfits on super-duper clearance from Gymboree, and they came yesterday. Too cute! I took them outside to get pictures today, and some neighbors oohed and ahhed and said they looked so pretty/cute. I won't share all of them here, or just yet anyway, but here's one funny outtake that was enjoyed on Facebook:
A rare, genuine reaction from Jack! haha!
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Sophia's been having a bunch of breathing trouble lately, so we called 911 tonight to see if there was anything they could do for her. There wasn't, but it was suggested she might be allergic to her cats. If you have allergies, would you answer my Aloha Friday question here?
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I've had SO many blog-related freebies lately, I thought I'd give a rundown of a few of them real quick-like, for posterity's sake. There are some awesome perks to this blahgging gig!
I just posted about my Werthers Baking Caramels Bash for MommyParties here, yesterday I think. Check it out!
This International Delight Bzz Campaign from BzzAgent started this week, and I was chosen. I went out to Publix today and picked up these four varieties. I am just excited to find Sugar Free kinds (for me) as I was to get the Pumpkin Pie Spice and White Chocolate Raspberry choices for Rob! What's your favorite creamer flavor, if you're a coffee nut?
Soon, in the mail, I'll be getting the Lancôme DreamTone for Fair Skin, to review for SheSpeaks. I can't wait, because I've got some uneven skin tone since living in the land of the sun...!
This will be coming up on Ye Olde Fashioned Blahg soon, too! Are you interested in some amazing books for the kiddos in your life? Let me know!
Smiley360 chose me to review Orajel Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment, which I'm super glad to be getting in the mail soon. My girls are forever complaining of "mouth booboos" and asking for something to take away the pain. This will help!
House Party picked me as a Chatterbox to review new Gevalia Kaffe espresso drinks:
I made this Mocha Latte with a heart for Rob, but I haven't tried that myself yet. He liked it, and I loved the Caramel Macchiato variety. So easy to make in the Keurig, and so delicious and authentic! Have you tried it yet?

I'm supposed to be using Calorease for Moms Meet, too, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to try it yet. I'm hesitant because it's supposed to make you have to, um, GO, and I don't want to be stuck to my bathroom all day for ten days, you know? What would you do?
I'm waiting on my kit from MyBlogSpark for Old El Paso Frozen Entrées, because hello, YUM! Rob especially loves Mexican foods, so I know he'll be happy to see this package in the mail. We loved our last MyBlogSpark kit from Old El Paso, so I'm sure this will be another delicious foray into blahg reviewing for me!
I'm also doing a Green Giant frozen foods and a Raise-a-Giant campaign for MyBlogSpark, which reminds me, I better get on that!
Smiley360 also chose me to review GoGo-Squeez Applesauce on the Go with the kids, which is fantastic because they're nutritious and the kids love them. The Apple Apple variety didn't last long, and I don't even remember anyone but My Little Pony-crazy Sophie eating the Apple Mango kind:
And lastly, MomSelect opted to let me be a Chick-fil-A Mom, which is cool because hey, free food. My kids adore CFA, but I know some of you have issues with the company. Do you??
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I like to post Instagram photos when we make a yummy dinner - do you do that? I know I'm not the only one! Tonight's was homemade pizza, which I made with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza dough mix, fresh mozzarella (the kinds that come in the gooey balls are better than the kind you get in the block to shred, if you ask me!), and sundried tomatoes. For Rob, I added green olives and pepperoni. I'm afraid the gluten-free did nothing for the kids' appetites; the two younger ones ended up eating oatmeal instead, and even Rob didn't finish his. Hey, I liked it, but maybe we won't try that again.
I eat a ton of hummus and wasn't happy with the last store-bought batch I got, so I decided to go back to making my own. I used to make it all the time, but I burned up our hand mixer and don't have the strength to mash my chickpeas by hand. Now I have a Ninja food processor that I got from a friend, and that did the job in seconds, with minimal effort on my part. I mixed everything (tahini, garlic, olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemons) up with the chickpeas in my KitchenAid, and voilà! Deliciousness! I always let the flavors mingle for a day or two before I adjust the quantities too much, because it really changes after the first day.
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Well, that's it for me. You're probably relieved. I'll pop over and visit you now. Have a great weekend!
Full Disclosure: Everything I mentioned I'm reviewing was provided to me for free by the companies listed, but as always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Friday Fragments, Version 6.21.13

Unknown Mami


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


Friday Fragments, Episode 6.14.13

Unknown Mami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Friday Fragments: Episode 6.7.13

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

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

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

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Friday Fragments: 5.31.13 Edition

Half-Past Kissin' Time
I'm linkin' up with Mrs. 4444 for the first time since before we moved to Miami! Friday didn't sneak up on me for once, so here I am. Link up here if you're fragmenting today. Let's go!
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As if we didn't have enough critters, Sophie brought home a cupful of tadpoles from the park after our picnic Saturday. We don't exactly stock adolescent frog food on a regular basis, so... Rob fed them some canteloupe. Guess what? They ate it. They're still eating it. I haven't run out for tadpole feed since they joined the homestead, so they're stuck with melons. It works.
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This is Chloë's "kitten," Pepper. Those of you with stellar memories may remember that last Fall, after we rescued him, he nearly died and needed several blood transfusions. We didn't know if he'd make it, yet here he is, alive and, as she calls him, "fluffy"! Pepper is one big cat. He's beautiful, though, and is probably my favorite feline of the bunch. I love him, the sweety. ♥ So glad he's here.
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I was at Michael's on Monday, looking around like crazy for buttons, when I came upon this "Craft Supplies" department. Um, hello? It's Michael's, for Pete's sake. Doesn't that describe the whole store??!
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After I made the Presto Chango sweater for Stephanie's son Vinnie, who is allergic to darn near everything under the sun, I needed some instant gratification. I had this ribbon yarn left over from a wreath I made, so I cast on 20 stitches and just knit every row. No pattern needed, and it turned out pretty cool. Sophia watched me make it with keen interest, so after I bound it off the needles, I handed it over to her to keep. She was shocked and delighted! I made her so happy, which thrilled me endlessly. It's the little things. ♥
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So I think I'm going to change the name of my blahg from "Smellyann Strikes Again" to... I'm not sure. Just "Smellyann"? "Smellyann's World?" No, that's lame. I need thoughts and suggestions. Only my nickname appears in the URL, so no harm, no foul
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After I read this post from Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, I knew we needed to make these Shrinky Dink crafts for Rob and the kids' two grandfathers for the upcoming Father's Day. I hustled over to Michaels for tie tack backings and inkjet Shrinky Dink paper, but I only found the latter. No shocker there. So I subbed earring posts and backs for the tie tacks, and I think that'll work. Sometimes good enough is good enough, right?


Are these not adorable?! Yes, we gave the presents to Rob some three weeks early (we'll still do more for him on his actual day, don't worry), because we needed his help finishing the presents. Yeah, that sucks, I know. But though the tie tacks worked, the keychains didn't. We put holes in the paper pre-shrinking, and they closed up in the oven! D'oh! I gave Rob the task of figuring out the hole-making for those. Hee. Still, all five of us loved this project and are going to do it again in the future. Thanks, Jordan!
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Since the Sophie scarf, I've had bad knitting juju. First there was this gorgeous yarn. I haven't looked at it in natural light in a while, but I'm pretty sure it's tomato red or even orange, not the cherry red it looks like here in artificial lighting. Anyway, whatever. It's fingering weight yarn, which is pretty fine, and it kept tangling up on me. I have a lot of yardage, meaning I can make a good-sized project for Vinnie, but I could not find a good pattern to go with it to save my life. Finally, after a prolonged search, I found one. Whew.

This was the project. It was as complicated as it looks there with all ten stitch markers. I didn't get much farther than that before I ripped it all out. I couldn't make heads nor tails of the pattern after that and was completely irritated afterward. Bah!

Then I pulled out this Madeline Tosh yarn, which is absolutely gorgeous and, let's face it, pretty spendy premium yarn. For what I paid, you'd think it would wind beautifully from the hank into a knittable cake. Not so. It knotted up, wound back on itself, and was a complete mess. I bandied about lots of bad words and had a black cloud hanging over my head. In the end, Rob wound it into a ball for me, but I still couldn't find a decent project for it. Double BAH!

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I did finally pull out another hank of yet another beautiful yarn for a new Vinnie project, and it's going well so far. Still, it's on circular needles, and I hate circular needles, so the going is slow. I'm determined to make this one stick, though!
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Oh, hi again, Pepper! Sorry to bother you while you're doing your business. That wasn't the plan.... we have a bunch of cats, so the litterbox is an ongoing issue, with the cleaning and the changing and the sweeping of tracked litter all over the floor. So I was excited to get a deal from PetSmart.com on these Tidy Cats Breeze litter systems, which uses pellets instead of litter - no tracking! And there are pee sheets to change in a drawer under the main poopy compartment so... am I really telling you this? Let's just say, these three thingamabobs should simplify our lives greatly, and I'm a wee bit excited about that.
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So, I've mentioned before that I play a lot of Words With Friends. I have a new 'friend' onboard with me, and, well, it's obvious that she cheats at the game. It pisses me off! I still think I'll win, but that's not cool. What do you do? Continue the game even though you know your opponent is a cheater? Or call it a day on them and end the game?
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Jack, Sophia and Chloë love their new Kindles. We got them the 7" HD Fire versions, ostensibly for school, but they play games on them all the time, too. They adore them so much, it's become difficult to get them to put them down. So we've had to institute a new rule: chores first, then Kindles. No chores, no Kindles. It works. I do find it amusing to see the five of us sitting around together on our various technological devices. Of course, we get plenty of book time, face time, and outside time, too, but I think this is great!
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And finally, speaking of Stephanie, I've had this vintage lace and rickrack for about 13 or 14 years. I got it from my boss's mom, who was being put into a nursing home, and I've never used it. Stephanie sews, and while I've tried, I'm no good at it. So I'm rehoming the goodness with her. I can't wait to see what you make with it, Steph!
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Have a good weekend, y'all. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if you're fragmenting today!

I have a headache, which isn't responding to anything, so forgive me if I make no sense, cop an unreasonable attitude, or anything. When I have the migraine pain in the brain, all bets are off!

I stayed up all night working on the kids' Advent calendar, then got ready to put it up... and it ALL FELL APART. I said some words I won't repeat here. Not because they're foul; I just can't remember them. I believe they were amusing to whomever was listening at the time, but alack. So, I used the opportunity to teach my kids about perseverance. "What's perseverance?" they asked. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" Now they keep repeating that...

So here's the finished project, such as it is, which is not at all what it started out to be:


That's part one. Ugh. It's completely overhauled, and I'm not loving the results, but the kids are, so I guess that's all that matters! It's a magnetic dry-erase board with the 24 days 'til Christmas on it on bottlecap magnets, with a stupid dumb bow on top and all the activities for the 24 days on strips of ribbon down below. Yeah. I kind of hate it.

Oh, and yes, that is duct tape holding it up on top, because the magnetized dry erase board wouldn't stay up, even with NOTHING ON IT!! BAHHHH!!!!


That's part two, the be-ribboned bucket of 24 packets of treats, because there MUST be treats with any Advent calendar I make, after all. With another stupid dumb bow on top. There was not supposed to BE a bucket at all. Can you sense my annoyance with this thing?

The only thing that makes me glad about the calendar o' Advent is the list of activities I've prepared, most of which are brandy-new for us this year, and full of fun they will be for all five of us. I can't wait 'til tomorrow!!!

I'm bald. Did you know that? I "pulled at Britney Spears," as someone I know so eloquently and delicately put it, and chopped off all my hair. You know what? Wintertime is not the best time to be doing that mess. Just sayin'.

On the upside, at least I can knit myself lots of cute hats and berets an' stuff.

Finally, I asked in my Aloha Friday question already, but I'll ask again here: Do you want to exchange holiday cards? I have lots to share and love getting lots from all over, too. If so, drop me a line in the comments! Please, pretty please?

That's about it from me for this week. Shortish and sweetish. Back to my grocery list, yay.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments
Listen up y'all, it's a royal ball, with hip-hop clubs and concert halls! Okay, not really, but link up here if you've got itty bitty li'l pieces of blahggies floating around that need a home!


Sunday & Monday, we got hit by Hurricane Sandy, but not too bad. We still don't have TV service, so it's not until the last couple of days that I've become aware of the damage she caused elsewhere. We weathered the storm fairly well with just some major flooding in the street, but we're fine. If any of you were more severely affected, my heart goes out to you, and I hope things improve quickly for you!


Hmm. All the text disappeared. Let me try again... On the eve of Halloween, I went to a costume party at a local club to listen to the band formed by employees of the store where the kids take their music lessons.


There they are! Long story short, I passed out onstage after they performed, because I gave blood earier & then drank a rum cocktail on a very empty stomach, er, pouch, and boy those lights were hot... it happened onstage in front of the entire packed club! Mortifying. But I did end up winning the trivia contest for which I was called up there, so hey. Yay and stuff.


On Halloween, Rob got paid, so we ran a bunch of errands and did some necessary shopping before being REALLY late for Trick-or-Treating, where we only got one house before giving up and going home. When we got there, Rob was holding Pepper (the kitten above), saying he was very sick and needed to go to the vet right away. It's a good thing we brought him; he had two paws in the grave and needed immediate treatment, including two blood transfusions and warmers because he was so cold... It was $$$, but when asked, Chloë said he was worth a million dollars, and we all agree he was worth it. Poor sweet kitteh.


On Thursday, we were out again, and Chloë's Richmond agent called me, asking for updated quick shots of all three kids.


I don't know very much about the project, and neither does the agent, but it's for filming in Los Angeles...


Even Jack, who is normally anti-social when it comes to such things, got on board when I told him he could use part of the money he earned to add to his Lego collection! Haha.


Last night, poor little Pepper was able to come home, and his mommy, Chloë, has been nursing him back to health night and day ever since It's really sweet how well she's taking care of him. I'm pretty proud of her!

So that's been our week! Today, I wasn't feeling well, so we took it easy. Tomorrow will be busy, busy, busy, so must go rest... Have a great weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if you've got bits and pieces floating around in ye olde brain this week!

I've had a busy week. For starters, we've all been sick, especially the kiddos, so I proclaimed it Fall Break and gave them the week off to lie around in bed and cough an stuff. I was sick, too, in the same way and gastro-intestinally (TMI?), so I did a lot of sitting around. I wasn't sick on Monday and, feeling pretty good, so I did a ton of laundry and cleaning house. Then I went downhill, so ... this will mostly be a pictorial of our week.

Live in the vineyard

On Sunday, I went (by my lonesome, because we didn't have childcare) to the qualifying party for the radio station I to which I listen to send someone to Live in the Vineyard. I just KNEW I was going to win the trip, but alas and alack, I came in tenth out of about 11 times as many people. Close but no cigar. At least I got a $20 gift card to a wine shop and the latest Matchbox Twenty CD out of it - not to mention a very strong gin & tonic that had me announcing something kind of embarrassing, on the microphone, to the ENTIRE room.


Also on Monday, aside from cleaning and attending to sick kids - and speaking of sick kids, actually - I signed up to be a Point Radio change bandit to benefit The Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD). You can look at the sidebar on the right to see how much I've raised and (please, please, please) donate a buck or two to my efforts. I fervently believe that if I'd had my twins at CHKD, Robby would still be alive; aside from that, Jack has had surgery there, and Sophia has been followed there for her ongoing breathing issues, as well, so I help them out however and whenever I can. I'd greatly appreciate your support!

Change bandit


Since I fell sick on Tuesday, and Chloë especially was ailing, I canceled their instrument lessons and spent time on eBay in between nursing sick chirren. I've had a good month: over $700 in sales! Woot!

On Wedneday, Rob's and my Halloween costumes came in, so we tried them on:


Oops, that one's not for trick-or-treating. Heh heh heh. Let me try again:


I kind of hate this picture, because I look fat in it, but whatevs, it's fun. We still haven't decided where we'll go trick-or-treating -- definitely not here in the new neighborhood -- or even if we will, as opposed to trunk-or-treating at church, so I guess with five days to go, I better figure it out! At least we've only eaten ¼ of the candy I've bought for handing out!

On Thursday, I really didn't feel well, so I skipped Jack's Cub Scout pack Halloween party and sent the rest of the family without me. The kids were SO excited to dress up in their costumes:


Sophia is going as a pretty princess (yes, I will be buying more appropriate shoes for her before Wednesday night!);


Jack's a dangerous dinosaur (LOL I just realized I left the tags on his costume; d'oh!); and,


Chloë's a cute kitty cat. Guess I need to find some black shoes for her, as well!


Group shot, including our landlord in the background. Argh.

I'm on my way out for therapy in a bit, so I'll leave you with some cute shots of the adorable tommy-kittens Sophie and I rescued a week ago.


That's Pepper on top and Ginger on the bottom.


A trio of cuteness!


Soap cuddlng Ginger, "her" kitten, while studying her guitar lesson book.


Chloë mimicking Jack's portrait with the kitties.


Me canoodling with my "grandkitties," looking an awful lot like my mum in this photo, face-wise.


And finally, Pepper peeking out of Rob's camo work pants pocket! Aww!

That's it from me. Hopefully after therapy I'll be able to do some visiting of y'all Fragmenters, too!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack's stuff

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

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

A few vanity plates spotted around town this week:


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


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


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

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


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if you're fragmented today, too!

I'm all in a blahgger's tizzy right now. Why? Typepad, for some unknown reason, stopped auto-saving posts during composition, and my stupid feckin' PC shut down 2/3 of the way through my initial FF write-up! What the heck?! On both counts. Argh. So now you're REALLY going to get the fragments, instead of my usual run-on blather. Well, maybe. It's still me, after all.

I'm still trudging along with the same sorry-@$$ keyboard as last week, should you care to know. I tried a replacement, but it was a dud. So frustrating!

I'm super annoyed at my 9yo son right now. Why? We have a Keurig (♥), and I was down to my last two K-cups of coffee. Meanwhile, I make sure to keep the hot cocoa K-cups stocked for the kids, which they love. Well, Jack, my boy, LOVES coffee, and while I was in the shower, he helped himself to both of those last two cups of mine! And NO, we don't allow him to drink it, save for the blue moon sip here and there, so I'm doubly annoyed! I can't believe he managed to fall asleep and isn't bouncing off the walls. Actually, there's my silver lining. It could be worse.

If your blood type is O- like mine, and you've ever given blood, I'm wondering if you get sick of all the calls from the American Red Cross, too? After three calls begging me for more blood - which I'm honestly happy to give, don't get me wrong - three more to remind me of my appointment, another to thank me afterward for being a 'hero,' and then probably one last to ask me to take a survey about my experience, I'm over it!

Speaking of blood, I'm actually excited to go see my oncologist/hematologist today. I don't usually get a thrill seeing any doctor (well, unless they're cute, like my OB/onc, but anyway), but today I'll find out if my labwork from Tuesday shows the need for another iron transfusion. I soooo hope so; I'm really dragging my butt around lately. It's bad. Between that and a recent onslaught of horrible migraines, I barely got out of bed the last two days. No good!

And speaking of excited about tomorrow, I can't wait to go to the big Etsy Craft Party at my friend Michelle's all-handmade goods shop, Kitsch! Woot! I'll get my craft on, mingle with my artsy friends, and sample some local eats. Big fun!

During my downtime, I'm forever on my iPhone, playing my favorite games: Words- and Hanging With Friends, and my latest addiction, Jewels (multi-player as well, but not from Zynga). Do you play? Challenge me! I'm Smellyann there, as well.

If you've got kids, be sure and check back tomorrow when I post a fun giveaway for you to enter and win a really fun prize for them! Don't forget!


I hate not to end on a photo or kid-quote of some sort, and since I didn't get out much to snap any personalized plates this week, I'll leave you with this one of Chloë & Sophia getting some arts & crafts goodies from a recent Crayola sale at Toys 'R Us. My girls love to craft as much as their mama, so they tore them open and got started right away. Oh, Jack got something, too, but he didn't want it "right now," which is Jack-code for "pretty much ever, thanks." My feelings aren't hurt. It was free, after all. Hee.

Y'all have a good weekend now, y'hear?


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

It's that time again, when all the bits and pieces floating around in the ol' noggin get gathered together and shared with Mrs.4444 at Half Past Kissin' Time. Join us here, won't you?

First things first. My keyboard is driving me crazy. I don't know what's going on with it, but it's skipping letters and symbols I'm typing, like, every four characters. How do I fix it, other than replacing it? I'm afraid I don't know. And since I've just had to replace BOTH my fried hard drive and, a week later, my monitor, I'm thrilled to death at the prospect. :\

Secondarily, I've been on a major mystery shopping spree lately. I go through fits and starts where I'll go nuts doing tons of shops and then get burned out and refuse all but the most plum assignments. This is the 'nuts' part, which it seems I always do in the summertime. It's fine, because we get to have lots of fun, travel, and lots of paychecks come in to boot! Once September comes 'round, I'll slow down and get back into the school groove with the kids full-time, so it's now or never next year.


One such shop was last Thursday, a trip with me and five kids 7-11 years, to our local waterpark. Oy vey. I paired everyone up: Chloë with her little beau, Jack with his bestie (the beau's younger brother), and Sophia with - Mama didn't raise no fool - ME. Guess who behaved the best out of all of them? If you know anything about my kids, you'll be shocked to hear it was Sophie. Chloë and Beau disappeared without checking back in for HOURS, Jack and Bestie kept splitting up, and Sophia stuck by my side and did everything she was told to do. Now that's crazytown. Like a parallel universe.


Last night's series of shops found us driving all over the Hampton Roads area - well, the Southside, anyway, not the Peninsula - and all the way up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, almost to Maryland.  Yes, it pays well, or else I wouldn't put that much gas into it! This picture is cruising along on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), before we hit the Eastern Shore. I like Virginia's ES okay, but it's not very beachy-kitschy, which I tend to prefer. I like the scene in North Carolina's Outer Banks better - and the Florida Keys best. Wonder what I'll think of the San Diego area??

August 2012

Of course, mystery shopping involves lots of dining out, so we found ourselves at a popular steakhouse on kids' night Tuesday, where the kiddos had a great time getting these balloon animals and such. Sorry for the poor photo quality; guess I need to clean my iPhone lens!


Aside from shops, there's this latest excitement in the house: I'm signing the kids up for lessons on their respective instruments, starting in September. Chloë's had her flute, and Sophia her guitar, for a while now with no action, so it's time we got into it. Jack settled on keyboarding, so we went to the music lesson shop tonight and picked him out the starter model. Can you believe this thing? When I was his age, a similarly-priced Casio was given to me, and it was about 1/100th as cool, with way fewer bells and whistles. He's absolutely giddy over it, which I love to see.

I can't wait to see how they do, learning music professionally. There's a slight chance I might give up my role as their voice teacher and get lessons in that as well, but I'm not sure the budget will allow for it. Besides, I've been classically trained, and despite the fact that it's been 18 years since I sang in an ensemble, I still know a thing or two about singing. So we'll see.

I have a billion other things going on, but I should get some rest. I'm taking the older two and myself to the doctors' offices for various ailments tomorrow afternoon, and then Rob and I have a mystery shop date at a bar. So I'll leave you with these latest personalized plates spotted around town:


AWESEEM!!! I don't know why I like this one very much, but I do. It tickles my fancy.


What the what?! Someone explain it to me. For the longest time, I thought it was somethin like "SEX PIMP," (hee) until it dawned on me that it might be "PMS EXPERT" or something. But why in Heaven's name would you want to advertise that?!


And finally, an "aww" one: This parent is proud of her/his "TWO LITTLE PEAS." Cute stuff.

Anyway, I hope you all have a weekend of fabulosity, and I'll fill you in on the fun stuff we're doing next week. Same place, same time. 'K?


Friday Fragments


Link up here if you've got bits and pieces to string together for Mrs. 4444 and the gang tonight!


It's certainly been an up-and-down week for us here at Chez Odette, but I'd like to start off this post with one major announcement:

After SIX (originally typed "SUX," which would also have been appropriate!) WEEKS, THE LICE ARE GONE, THE LICE ARE GONE, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, THE LICE ARE GONE!!!!

Now, I had to totally chop off ALL of Chloe's long, luscious curls to do it, but desperate times call for desperate measures, y'know? Thankfully, her hair grows back wicked fast, like her dad's and Jack's. It'll be back before we know it.



Two weeks ago, my CPU died. We replaced it. Last week, my monitor died. Can't afford to replace that, too, just yet... UGH! I'm stuck using the laptop. I hate laptops. Can't say why; I just do.

Plus, this one doesn't have a number pad, which is why I can't do my special ALT characters. Bah.



(SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen the Olympics yet tonight)

Gabby Douglas, Virginia Native who trained at Excalibur, where Chloe will start next month in rhythmic gymnastics after a switch from another gym that doesn't offer rhythmic, won All-Around Gold tonight! The first African-American to do so. I'm SO super proud of her and her teammates! USA, USA, USA!!!



My boys, Hubs and Son, are at Webelos (Cub Scouts) camp all week. They were supposed to get there on Sunday, but we messed up and thought it was supposed to be Monday. On Monday, we didn't get paid, like we thought we would, and so they still couldn't go until Tuesday. Suck! But the main point is, I miss them so much!!! I can't WAIT to pick them up tomorrow (today) morning and hear all about their adventures!



My dad and I had a major falling out several months ago. I mean, MAJOR. I thought we'd never speak again.  We've made a lot of progress through emails, however, and finally, I called him on his 70th birthday on Tuesday. There was no awkwardness whatsoever, which was a huge relief to me. I don't do confrontation - especially with my father - well at all, and there just wasn't any. Very anti-climactic, and I'm glad for it.



Today, my toilet overflowed all OVER the bathroom, and indeed, it still IS. I cannot seem to plunge that da*n low-flow piece of crap for the life of me, and so it waits until Rob gets home from camp tomorrow. Not a fun time. To top things off, I broke a jelly jar pulling something else out of the fridge tonight, got glass lodged in my foot, and can't find the foxtail and dustpan anywhere. So that mess will be waiting for Rob, too. Unless I can find some paper towels somewhere... and yes, I'll put on some shoes. Oy.



I had multiple sales in my Etsy shop, I was commissioned to do knitting for another WAHM's Waldorf-inspired mini-dolls, my blog post about Virginia Beach was featured on a national travel blog, and I was invited to submit a chapter in a textbook. I'm not sure I'll do that last one - who has the time?! - but I might give it a go. Either way, cool. I do want to write my own book at some point, so it would be good practice if I did it.



My wrist, which I unwittingly somehow injured at the end of May, is still not even remotely healed. I think there is nerve damage, since the fracture we thought was there seems not to be, judging from later x-rays.  I'm in a hella lot of pain, and I refuse to take pain medication on an ongoing basis for it.  Back to the doc I go, I guess...



I had a LOT of me-time this week, with the boys away and my friend Saritah taking the girls along with her kids to Vacation Bible School - up to four hours a night! SWEET. I took advantage of it, because my migraines have been plaguing me lately, and did a whole lotta nothin'. That's difficult for me to do, but between the wrist and the brain-pain, not so hard at the mome.


Guess that's all I feel like jabbering about for the time being, though I feel I could go on for another half-hour or more!  I'm going to try REALLY hard and visit other Fragmenters this weekend; a rarity for me with all the chaos our lifestyle brings.


Take it easy, peeps, and, you know, stay away from Chick-Fil-A and stuff... ;)


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up with Mrs. 4444 if ye be fragmentin' today!

I've got thoughts pouring out of my head like crazy right now, so I hope I can get them all down here before I forget some. I'm sure I will, though; some always escape. But where to begin? At the end, I think.

Thursday, after a week or 10 days of being seriously ill, I finally felt well enough to finish testing the kids for their end-of-year homeschooling proof of progress submission. I did the math tests with all three kids individually, as opposed to Language Arts, which I managed to run more or less simultaneously, so they could concentrate better. Each missed 2 or 3 answers at most, so overall they did extremely well, and I'm very happy, proud, and pleased to be finished!!

I got them each an m&m cookie from 7-11 as a quick reward for finishing and doing well, but tomorrow will be the real reward. Depending on the weather, we're going to hit the beach for the first time this summer! If it rains, then my back-up plan is melting all our (TONS OF) broken crayons down into new, fun ones. We're just going to use simple muffin tin this time around - no fun shapes - because we've never done it before, but I'm excited to finally make use of all those broken pieces they don't deem fit to use!

My CPU bit the bucket earlier this week, and of course I didn't have all my files backed up, so I'll be stressed about that until I get a technician of some sort to retrieve them for me. Do you back up regularly? I don't. I just can't be bothered, and then I kick myself every time something like this happens. Of course. It's so me.

Speaking of being sick, I went to the hospital Friday, Monday and Tuesday mornings for various procedures. My entire GI tract is all messed up and revolting against its owner at the moment. I admit, I spent a week wearing (and very necessarily so) adult diapers because of it. That wasn't fun, and now that I'm back in my own undies (thank you, Imodium, for finally kicking in), I am relishing the joy! ;P

I finally went to the doc on one of those days and got the prescription lice treatment from the kids' pediatrician, and guess what? They are STILL alive in Chloë's hair. So I did something rather drastic and chopped about 8" off, which was traumatic for her, but far less than the head-shaving I was (semi-seriously) threatening. She went from this:


to this:


The next day, when she saw how cute (and easy to take care of) it was, she felt much better about it. I think it makes her look soooo much younger! Do you?

I cut her sister's hair (and my bangs, lol) while I was at it:


I've since straightened hers up a little bit, but I think she also looks cute and younger than she did before, with the shorter 'do.

Three packages came in the mail today, including some new shirts we bought for Rob's retirement days starting in a few months, a bunch of Jafra goodness for various clients and me, and this:


Lovely yarn for a project a friend has commissioned from me. I can't say much more than that about it at the moment, but I'll show you the finished works when I can! It's always exciting when good fiber shows up in the mail!

Well, I'll leave you with this image snapped by Rob for my license plate project, since I lost all the ones I had captured in the CPU debacle:


I don't know why eleventy-nine % of the picture is pavement - that crazy hubs!

Well, I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and I apologize being bad about responding to comments and getting around to other fragmenters (always, but especially lately). It's been a bad time with whatever's goin' on in mah belleh, y'all. Hope you forgive me.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Howdy, folks! Link up here if you're fragmenting along with Mrs. 4444 this week!

I'm pretty sure it's Friday, but this week has been such a blur of suckitude that I'm not entirely sure. Since Aloha Friday (answer my previous post about hatin' if you're game) and FF are both up, though, it must be, right? Of course, I could be dreaming this too, like all the weird dreams I had last night (I was eleventy months pregnant; I had long, long white hair; I married someone else; I won big money on Let's Make a Deal... and more I can't remember), but I don't think so. Now that was a weird fragment.


Speaking of weird fragments, hey Mrs.4s, what happened to "Favorite Friday Fragmenter?" I loved that part. ;D

Don't read this if you're eating or are easily grossed out. I'm serious:




Last Chance....




So last December, I had the runs for about 3½ weeks straight. It was miserable and depressing, and my quality of life when straight down the gutter. I don't think we did any school that whole time, or at least not much at all. Well, fast forward to now, and I'm on day six of the same infirmity. I have put back on about 10 pounds since my rapid 206-lb weight loss, so I'm eating a lot of salads these days. This, uh, whatever it is that's going on, is so aggressive that 20 minutes later, there is straight-up chewed lettuce floating around in the toilet bowl. Nasty! (Kind of cool for a biologist like me, but still gross, I know.)

And it's immediately sent me into the same plummeting mood state that it did the last time, so I saw my GI doc on an urgent basis this morning. (Yes, Mamacita, I actually made myself a doctor's appointment in a timely manner, if you can believe it!) I have to have a "flex sig" (flexible sigmoidoscopy, like a mini-colonoscopy) next Tuesday morning to rule out, you know. Bad stuff.

The only thing that's different than usual and the same about both incidents is that it almost immediately follows a trip involving a waterpark. Coinky-dink? I really don't think so, but who knows??


I came across this when I was looking for a picture to go along with the last fragment. Disgusting. I absolutely abhor this small-minded thinking....ugh.


Gotta admit I rather enjoyed this one, though. Not that I wish cancer on anyone, but whoever still smokes in July 2012 has got to know the risks, amiright?

We're halfway through the kids' end of year testing - um, like 1½ month later than I planned, but ah, well - and have finished up all their Language Arts sections. Now it's just math. I'm happy to report they're all kicking butt and taking names on LA, and proudest to report that so far as I can tell, Sophia's gotten 100% on hers! Woot woot!! Go kids!!

They could get zeroes on their math scores, and the composite score would still be high enough to keep us off probation, so yippy-skippy for Team Odette! ;D

I made this card last night, and it's one of the hardest things I've ever had the pleasure to make. I fought tears the whole time. Of course, I purposely made it for boy-girl twins so there would be no chance of it being for identical twins. That would be too much for me... guess after almost ten years, I still have my fair share of healing to do. (I know it's not that 'professional' with all the handwriting and stuff in it, but it felt like it needed to be made that way, and so I did.)

We brought our dryer (and other stuff) over from the old house last night, and Rob is still recovering from his hernia surgery(ies), so I feel immensely guilty that he's in discomfort now. I didn't ask him to do it, though; he insisted, but I should have put my foot down more. Besides, it's the washer we really need; clothes can air-dry, but I've no interest in hand-washing load upon load of clothes.... Heh.

Some of you may know, I'm a Jafra Consultant, but I'm really not meant to be a salesperson. I do my best, but mostly I just wear my awesome complexion and Jafra pin and let the people come to me about it. Anyway, I got an order from a new customer through my website last night, and when I called her, I totally upsold the order another third of the total! Woot! Go me. I know she'll love the products, so I have no shame in my game, because it really is good stuff. But I was seriously patting myself on the back, yes, yes I was.

There are days when I think we have four cats too many. Of course, there are days when I feel like I have four cats, three kids and maybe even a husband too many, but then I count everything I'd miss, and that feeling goes away faster than you can say "being alone sucks!"

I was boohooing the other night, missing our old house, our old neighborhood, and our old surrounding region. There's a lot there that we don't have here, and I didn't get lost anymore like I have twice this week, and ... and... and. But I've ventured around some more since then and, you know, this place isn't so bad, once you go a few streets this way and a few streets that way. And our Lord of the Land is kicking our upstairs neighbors - the bane of my existence at the moment - out, so there's another plus. Even if we get new neighbors that suck, we'll now be Big Man on Campus. Ha.(Seriously, if you knew the driveway/parking dilemma we deal with on a daily basis, you'd understand how exciting that prospect is...)

The lice are STILL HERE.

It has been a MONTH, and I have treated it a dozen times. Can I say WTF on this post?! Because WTF?! I am so OVER it. We have treated it with OTC stuff (Nix and its generic counterpart), combed nits for hours upon hours upon hours out of Chloë's curls, and are now using a triple-threat combination of tea tree oil, coconut oil, and Fairytales shampoo... yet they're STILL THERE. I totally give up. I can't take it anymore! Do y'all think most kids' hairdressers would professionally treat this crap?? Because that's my next move. UUUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH.


Anyway. This week's license plate, the only one I could safely capture, is:


which I can't really say anything snarky-amusing about, but the one I wish I had been able to capture was a breast cancer survivor plate that read "ALIVE." I loved that. Almost made me tear up a little.

And that's all she wrote, kids! Have a fantastic weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're torn to bits today!

I hope all of you Americanos had a nice Independence Day! I didn't. It's my favorite holiday, but Hubs was being a jerk in the morning and ruined my day, along with my desire to go do anything celebratory. Humph. Didn't even see a single firework, though I heard plenty of kabooms near the house!

Still not done moving. It's getting to be a big, fat joke, ain't it??

New York was fun, yet fast and furious. Lots of work for me, yet lots of fun for the kids. Here's a quick sneak peek, since I have yet to write a post about it yet on the blahg:


Poor Jack, he loves being squididdled by his sisters SO much!! ;)

After the theme park shops were done, we got to go see my sister and watch my nieces' soccer game. It was a good one, really exciting. They were by far the underdogs, but they lost 2-1 in double overtime, which was great for them. Here are some pictures, if you care to see her lovely ladies!

After the game, we went back to Stacey's house and had dinner before heading back home to Virginia. They have SO many pets, most being bred for selling or feeding those that they're selling. We're talking, like, a hundred ball pythons in the basement, for starters. They won't tell Stacey the true number, so I could be way off in either direction, but a LOT!

Anyway, it was wonderful seeing my sister after 1½ years apart, which was the main perk for why I took a shop so far away. ;)

I drove all night to get back in time to let Rob drive the van to work Monday, since his motorcycle ride didn't go too well last Friday after all. He's still too sore after quadruple hernia surgery. So now I'm way off my sleep schedule and have been up all night and sleeping much of the days since. Sucks, but I'm going to have to break this cycle starting TODAY and get back to moving, moving, moving...

Guess that's all in my head right now. I don't have any license plate photos this week. Been too busy recuperating and hibernating myself!

Have a great weekend, y'all!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link the selves up here if you're fragmenting this weekend!

Whew! What a week it's been! I don't even know where this week - nay, this month - has gone! Has June flown by for y'all, too?

So I finally went to the ER on Wednesday for the wrist I sprained, oh, a month ago. It's been hurting plenty, sure, but I simply have not had time to go to the doctor about it. Finally it got to the point this week where I couldn't even pick up a slip of paper without wincing, so we headed in. I was kind of surprised by my "beautiful x-rays" that showed no fracture, it hurt(s) so bad, but I did get a nice wrist brace out of the deal. Forgive any typos I miss, by the way. It's hard typing in a brace.

So I should probably post a "You know you've moved to the ghetto when..." entry, but I don't want to offend my entire 'hood readership. I'm sayin', though. GHETTO. CITY. My friend Mommy of Many keeps reminding me that it's only temporary... and really, I don't mind. Mostly, stuff just makes me laugh and/or shake my head.

And no, 4 weeks later, we still haven't finished moving. Our furniture is still at the old house. Don't ask. I'm peevish about it.

The kids and I are headed up to New York (state) tomorrow morning, for a long mystery shopping weekend I can't really share much about at this point. We're going to see my sister's family, too, which is the whole reason I took the shops. So excited!! It's been a year and a half, according to her; I haven't done the math, but that's entirely too long!

Hubs isn't going with us, since his convalescent leave ends tomorrow and he has to head back to work. I'm nervous, because he'll be riding the motorcycle and hasn't attempted that since surgery. Send prayers and good thoughts his way, if you would, please! Fortunately, I'll still be in town by the time he gets to work, assuming everything goes according to plan, so I'll have that much peace of mind, anyway.

As soon as we get back from NY, I'm going to administer the kids' end-of-year assessments, which we need to demonstrate progress since last year. If they don't do well, we get put on probation, but I'm confident they will, even if we are a bit behind where I wanted to be in Mathematics.


That was me on Wednesday. (My hair is pulled back, halfwayish.) I'm trying like crazy to grow out my hair, but it's like watching the paint dry. Sophia has my hair. Unlike the rest of the family, who have lots of FAST-growing crazy hair. Jealous, me? Why yes, yes I am.


I'll leave you with this last little tee-hee. What were they thinking??? Of course they meant the car, but how dense can you be? hahaha...

Have a great weekend, folks!