Entries categorized "Give It Away Now" Feed

Unleashed The Movie: Review And #Giveaway

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Hey, everyone! Have you seen the movie Unleashed yet? It's a comedy for the furry friend in all of us!

Disclosure: I was chosen to receive a copy of the movie Unleashed in order to review it and provide a giveaway for my readers. All opinions expressed in this post are, as 100% my own. Each household is only eligible to win Unleashed via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Open to residents of the United States only.

 

In Unleashed, Emma, a brilliant but awkward app designer, moves to San Francisco after a massive betrayal by her boyfriend with only her beloved pets, an adorable cat and an energetic mutt, in tow. One night, drawn by the light of a Supermoon, Emma’s pets escape into the night and are transformed into full-grown men, forcing Emma to reconsider her outlook on dating and hilariously work out her trust issues.

 

 STARRING: 
KATE MICUCCI | JUSTIN CHATWIN | STEVE HOWEY | HANA MAE LEE | JOSH BRENER WITH ILLEANA DOUGLAS AND SEAN ASTIN

 

I watched this movie with my soon-to-be 16-year-old daughter, Chloë, and we both agreed that it was a little much on the adult humor, so please use parental caution if you're going to view this with a minor.

 

Would you like to win a copy of Unleashed? Be sure and tweet me or shout out on Instagram whether you are #TeamDog or #TeamCat, and then come back and enter as many ways as you'd like in the form below. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.S. I like both, but in the end I'm always #TeamDog! ;)

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GIVEAWAY!! And Product Review: NeilMed Naspira For Babies & Kids

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Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program (greenmomsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

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First, I'm going to review the NeilMed NasaFlo NetiPot, which is available here for $15.99 or $17.99, depending on whether you want a clear pot design or the blue porcelain design, like I was given. (You can also find it in plenty of stores nationwide, like RiteAid, Walgreens, and Walmart, and also online at Amazon.com, drugstore.com, and lots more - so shop around if you're a deal shopper like I am.)

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You need to use distilled water with your NetiPot, as well as the saline Sinus Rinse packets (also provided to me for free, and 50 packets come in the box with the pot). My kids were sick before I was, so both Jack, aged 13, and Chloë, aged 14, learned to use it before I did. Okay, okay, let's be fair, here: I still haven't learned to use it, and I have to have one of the kids or my husband set it up for me when I need to use it!

I was diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumonia in May, and I'm still recovering well over a month later, so I have had plenty of opportunities to use the NetiPot myself. 

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(We're such hams.)

As you can see, I have a giant nose ring in my right nostril all the time, so I wondered to myself whether that would be a problem with the NetiPot, which is used by breathing normally through the mouth whilst pouring the saline solution in one nostril and letting it drain out the other nostril (then switch).

Well, was it?

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(Hammy, hammy hams.)

Not a problem at all! I don't know if it would be if I'd have had a septum piercing instead, but ahhh, I don't, so I'm not sure. ;)

For adults and older kids, I give a big thumbs-up to the NeilMed Naspira NetPot! A friend of mine was sick the other day, so I gave her another new NetiPot I had received from NeilMed for a campaign, and told her how to use it. I haven't seen her since, so I can't report back how she is now, but as for me, well when my daughter's pediatrician recommended it to her, and then my own primary care doctor recommended it to me for my blocked ears, I finally bucked up and gave it a try. It worked, and I can hear!

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And now for the review and giveaway of the NeilMed Naspira for Babies & Kids.

Chloë, my very petite teenager, was my guinea pig for this since I don't have very small ones of my own anymore (sniff). (You can see the ham apple doesn't fall far from the apple ham tree - or is it ham apple tree? Either way, yeah.)

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Here's the product in its package, which is available online or in stores for about $9.99 - $14.99.

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The Babies & Kids Naspira comes with the bulb aspirator, seven filters (one is already on the aspirator), and the net storage bag. It's a pretty simple set-up, really. You can take off the hose and use the nasal aspirator on older kids by itself, using the traditional hand-squeezing method, or you can put the hose on for babies, and use the orange suction piece in the caregiver's mouth the help suck out the oogie-boogies in the babies nose. There is a filter in place so, as yucky as it may sound, you never um, suck down the contents of your congested baby's nose!

I highly recommend this product for the younger set, and I tried it with my older kid. We found it simple and well-designed, though we definitely relied on this video from Nielmed for further instruction on use and sterilization:

GIVEAWAY: I have THREE NeilMed Naspira for Babies & Kids to give away to my readers! That's YOU!

Please leave me a comment on THIS POST with the age of your baby or child and whether you have tried any NeilMed products in your household before for five entries.

Leave a (relevant, please) comment on ANY OTHER post of mine for five additional entries per post. Make sure you're letting me know after your comment that you are submitting it as an entry for this giveaway!

Like NeilMed on Facebook for five additional entries; comment a second time on THIS POST to let me know you did.

Follow NeilMed on Twitter for five additional entries; leave a third comment on THIS POST to let me know you did.

This giveaway will close at 6 PM EST on June 30th. I will randomly select THREE winners for the Naspira for Babies & Kids from the entries received by that point and notify the winners and Moms Meet that you won!

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That's it! Get to commentin'!

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Educents Teacher Appreciation Month Contest

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To celebrate Teacher Appreciation month, Educents, FreshGrade, S&S Worldwide, and the Sellers of Educents have partnered to give educators funding for their dream classrooms. The 7 educators with the most votes will win a combined $10,000! Any educator is eligible to win - teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and school administrators.

 

How to Win

Educators get pretty creative when it comes to raising money to cover expenses for classroom supplies. Many host bake sales, ask the community for second-hand supplies, or pay out of their own pockets. However, there's a new way to get money for your classroom... and it doesn't include raiding the aisles of your local dollar store. It's easy to enter to win the Educents Teacher Appreciation Giveaway, and it still requires a little creativity (see Step 3). Step 1: Save up to $5,000 in products for your dream classroom in your Educents wishlist. Step 2: Click “Enter to Win” on your wishlist page and create your voting profile. Step 3: Share with your friends, family and community and ask them to vote for you every day until May 6. This is your opportunity to get creative - how will you share your wishlist, and how will you involve your community to vote for you?? Any educator is eligible to win - teachers, homeschoolers, and school administrators. Ready to get started? enter-now

Here are a few entries I love - vote for your favorite!

teacher appreciation vote

"Vote for me because I LOVE teaching. I have a wonderful class that is full of spirit and who loves to learn. I will be putting all my dream items to the end of the year lessons and summer school lessons." -Diana R. "I am a homeschooling mom of 4 children, and one baby on the way! We live on only my husband salary. I would love to create a dream classroom for them." - Gina H.

enter-now

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Sunday Stealing: The "I" Meme

 

Link up here if you're playing along today!

The I Meme

Stolen from: The Archives
 
I am... 

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^^^ pretty much just that! ;)

I want... 

people to

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and

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I have... 

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FOUR precious children, not just three, and today is the birthday of TWO of them, not just one. Remember that. (Robby, you mattered, and you always will. Love you, Mama )

I wish... 

people could be blind to the colors of the flesh when judging matters of the heart, soul, and mind

I hate... 

 

being stuck behind a slow driver, especially someone who all but hits 0 MPH when they're making a right turn. GO, already!!

I fear... 

...rejection

I hear... 

Right-wing extremists talking, but it comes out to my ears as "blah blah wah wah freaking blah"

I search... 

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for Truth in all things.

I wonder... 

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why people are laughing, when I walk by or enter the room, and always always always think it's about me...

I regret... 

I try not to have regrets. Good experiences are wonderful; bad experiences are... still experience.

I love... 

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my husband, and the family we made, more than anyone can imagine

I never... 

mean to hurt the ones I love the most.

I ache... 

every year from March 22nd to March 25th, since 2003. So, right now. I will always miss my baby boy.

I always... 

overthink everything, every situation, every time

I usually... 

act before i think. My daughter Sophia is definitely like that, too.

I am not... 

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ever going to be perfect. Accept that.

I dance... 

for my husband and kids, in our house, pretty much on a daily basis. I never dance like that in public.

I sing... 

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like a goddess in the shower, like a Siren in the car, and like shit on stage.

I sometimes... 

feel like I wasted the entire day

I cry... 

remembering stuff that was good, as often as I cry remembering stuff that wasn't.

I am not always... 

as stable as I look. or as unstable. Sometimes you gotta fake it 'til ya make it.

I lose... 

my shit when someone else take and then loses... my shit.

I am confused... 

easily and often

I need... 

to be treated with kid gloves. I'm fragile.

I should...

 

stop blogging and go to Fort Lauderdale to pick up my kids. Okay! I'm going, I'm going!!

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CLOSED: #Giveaway: Old El Paso Frozen Entrees For Two #MyBlogSpark

This giveaway is now CLOSED!

The winner, selected by the Random Number Generator, is #6:

Random
Thomas M., who wrote, "I want to try the Chicken Quesadillas and I would get rice with the gift card."

Email me your address, Thomas! Congrats - and thanks to everyone who entered!

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I received this fun surprise in the mail today from MyBlogSpark: A cool chips-and-dip melamine plate, a coupon for a FREE package of Old El Paso Frozen Entrées For Two, and a $10 Visa gift card to round out our meal.

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Stay tuned for deets on how you can win this SAME package for yourself! (USA entrants only, please.)

 

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There are lots of fresh new flavors of Old El Paso Frozen Entrées For Two, including Chicken Quesadillas & Enchiladas, Steak Fajitas, Shredded Beef Burritos, and more! You can check them out here.

 

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Hubs and I have been talking about letting our newly 12-year-old daughter, Chloë, "babysit" her younger brother and sister for short periods of time to see how things go, so this package provided the perfect opportunity to start: We hopped on the motorcycle and zipped around the corner to Publix to get our Old El Paso dinner fixin's, leaving her in charge. (We were gone all of 20 minutes, tops, and everything was fine. Relax, Grandma!) ;)

Since I don't eat beef, we settled on these Chicken Enchiladas, and also:

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...these Chicken Quesadillas. All of the entrées at my Publix were priced at $7.99, which is what my coupon allowed, so that was serendipitous, huh?

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Since we were having a Mexican night and were provided with the gift card, we picked up some yummy Tostitos chips and dips to go in our new platter, too. 

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While the enchiladas and quesadillas were cooking, I served the chips in the platter with the salsa, queso, and some guacamole and sour cream. Jack could not wait to dive in! Can you believe my non-cheese lover ate the entire jar of queso?!

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The Chicken Enchiladas were ready first. They looked okay, but I confess, they did not smell particularly wonderful to me. Rob went ahead and helped himself, while I held back temporarily.

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Rob LOVES Mexican food, so he was the first to taste-test the new Old El Paso Frozen Entrées For Two Chicken Enchiladas. And? Well? Well....?!!

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He liked it, he really liked it! I decided to go in for a bite, and... well, I didn't care for the Enchiladas so much. I think it was the smell of them that was off-putting, honestly, but I just had the one bite.

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The quesadillas were ready next. Chloë, who also did not like the enchiladas, decided to go for this one.

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She went in for the bite and... gave me thumbs-down on the quesadilla. Hmm. I let it cool a while longer (and let my tummy settle from all the chips on which we'd pigged out earlier) before trying it myself. And guess what? I LOVED IT! The Chicken Quesadillas were much better than I expected after eating the Chicken Enchiladas and being disappointed.

I'm interested in trying the Chicken Burritos and seeing what else Old El Paso comes out with for this line of frozen entrées, but at a $7.99 price point, I'll wait until a coupon comes out. (If you're a Publix shopper, make sure to download the $1.50 digital coupon for Old El Paso, too!)

Be sure and check out Old El Paso on Facebook here, too!

*~*~*~*~*~* GIVEAWAY TIME!!! *~*~*~*~*~*

If you're interested in winning your own Mexican Tile Chip & Dip platter, FREE Old El Paso Frozen Entrées For Two (up to $7.99) product coupon, and $10 Visa card, please leave a comment on this post telling me what entrée(s) you are most interested in trying and what you'd get with the gift card to round out your meal. (Remember, packages are not able to be sent outside the USA, sorry.)

That's it!

I'll pick a winner at random at midnight EST on Friday, October 25th, so get your comment in. One entry per person, please.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Information and the prize pack were provided to me by General Mills, through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed herein are, as always, my own.

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Be sure and enter this giveaway sponsored by Green Giant, too!


CLOSED: Green Giant: Make A Giant Difference #MyBlogSpark #Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

The winner, chosen by Random Number Generator, is #2:

Random


Jessie C., who said, "I like Valley Fresh Steamers cut green beans."

Congratulations, Jessie! Please send me your address for your prize pack. Thanks to all of you who entered!

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What does 100 calories get you?

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Less than you think. Unless you're talking about delicious Green Giant vegetables.

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MyBlogSpark recently provided me with a set of coupons to purchase some Green Giant boxed frozen vegetables. I actually bought three packages, but since one was broccoli with cheese and my girls are fiends for that stuff, I no longer have it to show you!

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We actually really like Brussels sprouts, and I adore green beans with almonds, so I'm looking forward to incorporating these into a meal soon.

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It'll be great, because I'm actively trying to take off a few pounds that seem to have found their way onto my scale and don't want to budge. If you're in the same boat, you can head over to Green Giant's Giant Difference page and find out how Green giant vegetables can fit into your diet and weight loss plans. There's even app to download from the App Store if you're app-crazy like I am.

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You don't have to cheat on your diet to enjoy a hot, delicious, heaping bowl of vegetables.

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Live the Giant Difference!

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Full Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Green Giant® through MyBlogSpark.

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P.S. Oops! I forgot to say MyBlogSpark & Green Giant also provided me with a cool water bottle, a nifty Health & Fitness Journal, and a rockin' gym bag, too. I think they're hinting I need to get off my lazy duff and do some exercise once in a while!?!

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Would you like to WIN this same pack for yourself? Leave me a comment below with your favorite variety of Green Giant frozen veggies, and I'll pick a comment at random to win on October 25th. Friday at midnight EST, so get those entries in, 'kay?

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Be sure and enter this Old El Paso giveaway, too!


Old El Paso & My Blog Spark Provided Dinner Tonight! #giveaway #contest

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

The winner selected by random is:

Random
#6:  Kelly D. who said, "I love Chinese food the most." 

Congratulations, Kelly! I'll be emailing you for information.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this fun giveaway!

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I always love it when packages come in the mail - especially ones I'm not expecting! Today, I woke up to find a huge box waiting for me. It was my forgotten goodies from My Blog Spark: an Old El Paso Farmer's Market Kit! How fun.  Here's what I got:

  • An insulated market bag, which I cannot wait to put to good use,
  • An avocado keeper,
  • A chopper and bowl set, 
  • Old El Paso Fajita Dinner Kit, and
  • Taco Seasoning

I got together the fixin's for the rest of the dinner (ground turkey for me, ground beef for everyone else, bell peppers, chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream) and started cooking up a storm tonight. Everyone was eager to try out the goodies.

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I used the taco seasoning in both the gound beef (½ packet) and

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also in the ground turkey. It was really flavorful - not too spicy or overpowering; just right.

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I spent a good five minutes with the chopper unsuccessfully, before switching to my Ninja food processor and getting the onions, pepper and tomato minced in a matter of 30 seconds, but I was rushed and probably doing it wrong. I could tell it was very sharp, so I'll give it another go next time. I did love that I could color-code the containers for what they, well, contained! Onions in the white, peppers in the green, tomatoes in the red and... cheddar cheese in the purple?! Hey, they're complementary colors, so it works.

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In about 20 minutes, I had dinner on the table and everyone gathered 'round the table. Between the fixin's, my festive table runner, and the Fiesta Ware, it was a colorful spread, no? We said grace and then everyone fixed her own plate.

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Here's mine. I skipped out on the chilis - I don't do spicy, people! I piled everything high on top of my fajita and dug in. Oh, my goodness! Fresh, tasty, and nutritious to boot. What a great dinner! Even the kids raved about it. Honest! My younger daughter, Sophia, said, "Dinner was really good tonight, Mom!" to which the oldest, Chloë, replied, "No, it wasn't good - it was great! The best dinner ever!" (She's my 'best ever' everything kid.) 

High compliments to Old El Paso 'cause we tend to eat, like, every single day.

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Would you like to win your own Old El Paso Farmer's Market Kit? Cool beans! ;)

Just leave a comment on this post with your favorite ethnic food by Friday night. On Saturday morning, the Random Number Generator and I will pick a winner from the commentors. That's it! Now GO!

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Full disclosure: My Blog Spark provided me with the dinner kit mentioned herein, but I was not otherwise compensated. Like always, my opinions are honest and completely my own. Amen. 


The Ultimate Blog Party 2013! #UBP13

Ultimate Blog Party 2013
It's here, y'all! The 2013 Ultimate Blog Party, sponsored by 5 Minutes For Mom! Woot, woot! And, I'm giving away an awesome prize:
Jafra Melanie
A $100 Gift Certificate to shop through my personal JAFRA website - anything you want, shipped free (US only, please)! You can choose from state-of-the-art skin care, cosmetics, baby or toddler care, tween or teen care, men's care, spa products, and much, much more. Go look and tell me what you'd love to win!
~*~*~*~
Of course, I do want to introduce myself to those of you stopping by for the first time. My nickname is Smellyann. My real name is Melanie (Ann), and my dad always called me "Mellie Ann," but my fun older sister switched it to Smellyann in middle school. That rat! I loved it, though, and owned it. Haha!

I am the wife of Rob, on the verge of retiring from 20 years of service in the US Navy. I am mama to Chloë, 11½, Jack, 10, Sophia, almost-8, and Robby, our angel-baby and Jack's identical twin. We're also cohabiting with six cats, five of whom think they're dogs in that they're not remotely aloof and who run to greet new visitors instead of hiding like they're supposed to do! We recently moved to Miami from Virginia Beach, so Rob could go to college here after his retirement. I went to college here as well, and I loved living here, so this has been both a new adventure and a reliving of some great times for me in the past couple of weeks.

As you can see on the right, in the category cloud, I cover a wide range of family-related topics. I started this "blahg" in 2007 as a way to keep our far-flung family and friends connected with our ongoing adventures in traveling, homeschooling, military life, organic living and gardening, my mystery shopping and crafting, and so on and so forth. I also cover my struggles dealing with bipolar disorder, family and parenting conflicts, a daughter who is undersized (but strikingly gorgeous, IMNSHO, and who acts and models fairly regularly), a son who is diagnosed with pituitary dwarfism and, as a 31-week preemie, several delays, and a very active (some would say hyperactive, but I don't), brilliant, right-brained youngest babe.

I hope you'll stick around, comment (I LOOOOOVE comments!), and leave me with a link to visit you as well. You'll find some meme posts on the weekends, peppered with the occasional giveaways, but mostly your run of the mill "we're cray-cray and we love it" daily life posts. 
Sit back, grab a cuppa Joe, and tell me where to find more about you - after you read a few posts, natch.

I love that you stopped by! Thanks!

Ultimate Blog Party 2013
Oh! And a few more bits of business about the 2013 Ultimate Blog Party, duh me: 

*~* There will be live events, including a Twitter Party and a Google+ Hangout, this week.

*~* There will be PRIZES! Over $20,000 in prizes, in fact. Check 'em out and then fill out the prize form.
*~* Link your blog up to the UBP post here, if you want the chance to win more prizes. Make sure you get a badge!
*~* Visit old friends and make new ones on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook from the Linky lists!
*~* It all ends on April 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM (hey, so does my Sophia's 8th birthday), so get started now!
Have a great time. Don't forget your party hat!
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Product Review: McCormick Grill Mates® Grill Ambassadors Party!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everyone had a great time and enjoyed their grub!

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

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

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

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

Logo H4H

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

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

Dell USA

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

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

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

Pretty cool, huh?

Consuelo Mexico

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a win!

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

Sounds like another winner - fantastic!

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

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

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

Disclaimer: MommyParties.com and Hearts4HeartsGirls.com provided me with two dolls to keep and/or give away. No other compensation, monetary or otherwise, took place. As always, all opinions are and alway will be my own.

Fin.


GIVEAWAY & Product Review: Creativity For Kids Craft Kits

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, MamaP of Fostering Love. Enjoy your prizes, MamaP & Kids!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Creativity For Kids and bsmmedia.com, in which we were given three craft kits to use for this review. No monetary exchange has taken place. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Logo

Wow! Like I've said, sometimes this blahgging thing has its perks, and this time we really enjoyed that. We received three kits from Creativity for Kids in the mail to review:

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(1) the Deluxe Glitter Art Kit (MSRP: $29.99);

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(2) the Mossy Meadows Gnome Garden kit (MSRP: $29.99); and,

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(3) the Tile Art Necklaces kit (MSRP: $15.99)!

The first kit we broke into, per the kids' request, was the Deluxe Glitter Art kit. At first, it being on the 'girly' side, Jack had no interest and stayed in his room watching plane crash videos on YouTube on the laptop. So the girls and I dug in with the first of three separate activities within the kit:

Creativity For Kids Blog

(click on photos to embiggerate)

Sophia, Chloë and I each made our own trinket boxes. Everything was included in the kit that we needed, from glue to glitter and rhinestones to the boxes themselves, so there was never any need for me to get up and go get something that we didn't have. Well, except plenty of newspaper, since we were working on Chloë's bed!

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I thought all the boxes were lovely, but since my girls declared mine "the best," here's my finished product! I used lots and lots of glitter, glitter pens, and glue to make my box, and here it is, over a week later, still intact after plenty of drying time. Isn't it so cute?! I gave it to Chloë, but now I'm wishing I'd have kept it as a memento of the fun time we had crafting together.

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Having wandered in and discovered that, hey, this is actually pretty fun, Jack sat down and joined us for the second activity in the kit: decorating pre-glittered gift tags, which will be super fun to use for birthday and holiday presents! The only problem we ran into with this activity was keeping our four cats off our drying table! They kept hopping up and smushing our glitter glue. (We eventually got smart and kicked them out with the door shut, but that took an embarrassingly long time to figure out.)

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Our finished tags: the kit came with 12, so we each got to decorate three. Pretty cool, huh? (There are ribbons to tie them to packages and what-not, but at this point they were still in the drying phase.)

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The third activity in this first kit saw us making eight glittered and bejeweled cards, which came with envelopes. What fun it'll be for the kids to send out their thank you notes and other correspondence on note cards they decorated themselves!

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Our finished cards - two for each of the four of us to make.

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The kit comes with a detailed instruction sheet, as well as project ideas, so you'll never be at a loss for what to do with this Deluxe Glitter Art set!

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The second kit, the Mossy Meadows Gnome Garden, has been the most anticipated project by the kids, especially Jack, since it's less girly than the other kits. Like all the Creativity for Kids kits, at least in my imagination, it comes with thorough instructions and wildly colorful depictions of what to do with it. The back of the box is cute, too, showing all the contents and even telling a little background of what's being made.

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I insisted this kit be worked on outdoors, but unfortunately, the weather hasn't cooperated, and we haven't had a dry day in weeks to complete it. (Apologies to those suffering with a drought!) This is what I found when I first opened the box and pulled out the pieces: Lots of "stuff" to explore here!

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Look at all this cool project material! The kids are absolutely chomping at the bit to get into it, and truth be told, so am I, because it looks so cute and fun. There are little ladybugs and wee gnomes and everything! Rain, rain, go away...

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Finally, after several days, we gave up and got into the last kit, the tile necklaces. Just like the others, everything necessary came with the kit so that we had every last thing we needed to make our necklaces from start to finish. Even scissors and glue were included! I think that's really smart, because busy moms like me are often willing to do crafts with the kids, but we're pressed for time and often don't "want to get into it," when it comes to searching for and procuring all the necessary materials for a given project. Creativity For Kids is awesome, because it solves that problem - at a wide variety of price points for every budget.

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As you can probably tell from all the pictures in this collage, this project was a bit more involved. Some parts were a little troublesome for the kids, each of whom was able to decorate three tiles, though the project technically only comes with ALL the materials for eight necklaces. I merely sat by at the ready with my handy-dandy camera and a helping hand where needed. It took several hours to finish - well, more if you count drying time - because it's geared for ages 8+, and it really means it, darn it! There were quite a lot of steps, but they enjoyed making the necklaces every step of the way.

How much did Jack like making these projects??

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Yes, this was literally his answer to my asking that - no staging required! They had SO MUCH FUN.

Oh, you wanna see the finished necklaces? Okay, of course:

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One of Sophie's findings came unglued while she was threading the cord, so it's re-drying now. She's keeping all of hers, natch. She is seven, after all.

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Chloë was going to give two of hers away, but she's capricious like her mama and keeps flipper-flopping about that decision! The third needs a finding and cord still, too.

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Jack's decided to give his three away for presents, and to help with that endeavor, the kit even came with three cute little gift packets! He's all excited now, to give his presents to some very nice ladies we know. :)

So now that I've told you how awesome Creativity for Kids can be, how would you like a giveaway, hmm? Oh you would, would you? Well, one lucky reader of this blog is going to win not one, but TWO kits from Creativity for Kids!!! YAY! The winner will receive the Deluxe Glitter Art kit:

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...along with yet another awesome kit that I didn't review:

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the Beach Buddies Shell Crafts Mini Kit (MSRP: $5.99), which, I have to admit, makes me jealous, as a marine biologist! Ooh, pick me, pick me!

Contest Rules:

- The winner will be chosen from the Random Number Generator at 11:59 PM EST on September 1, 2012.

- ONE entry per person, please.

- To enter, you MUST leave a comment on THIS post telling me which Creativity for Kids kit intrigues you the most, who you will use it with or give it to... and your favorite colour.

- You may refer friends via Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc., but there is still a limit of ONE entry per person.

Any questions? Let's begin! Good luck!!!

Fin.


Hey! That Works For Me!

WFM 250x250 featured

As I mentioned previously, my pet tips "Works For Me Wednesday" post from several years ago was selected to be featured in this awesome new e-book, That Works For Me! How exciting! And now you have a chance to win a copy of that e-book from my little ol' bloggy here, Smellyann Strikes Again.

Check out this video to learn more about what's going to be in this book:

  

There's also another That Works For Me! contest going on, to win a $150 house cleaning, throughout the month of April. Submit a tip here for your entry to win!

Follow the e-book on Twitter for an extra entry, and for another extra entry, like them on Facebook!  Check 'em out and follow on Pinterest - you can add your blog posts with tips there, too!

Last but not least, if you don't win the giveaway copy of the e-book but would like a discount, here's your coupon code for $1 off the regular price of $9, making it $8 (but you could figure that out, right?): SAVE1. (Not sure when it expires, so don't wait!)

Giveaway ends April 18th at midnight EST! Just comment on this post about the e-book or whatever's on your mind, and don't forget about the contest they're running, too. Good luck!

Fin.


The Primrose Schools© Family Dance-Off Is Back!

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Here is everything you need to know about the third annual Primrose Schools© Family Dance-off:  It benefits Children's Miracle Network Hospitals© and helps fight the childhood obesity epidemic by promoting physical activity, healthy lifestyle choices and quality family time...things all Moms and Dads can get behind!  And did you know? Primrose Schools© is the leader in educational child care.

  

Here's how you and your family can enter the Primrose Schools© Family Dance-Off Competition:

  1. Record a 30-second video of your family's best dance moves. Don't be afraid to let loose and be silly!
  2. Visit www.familydanceoff.com and upload your best take between February 25th and March 23rd.
  3. Share your video with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  4. View and vote daily (you can place one vote per day per device) for your favorite family dance video!

Of course, no contest is complete without amazing prizes. Primrose Schools© is providing prizes that are great for your family and your community too, with $81,000 in donations to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals©:

  • 16 families will receive a $1,000 donation to their Children's Miracle Network Hospital© and advance to the finalist round from March 26-30 to compete for the grand, second and third prizes.
  • Grand Prize: $5,000 and Primrose Schools© will make a $30,000 donation to their Children's Miracle Network Hospital©
  • 2nd Prize: $3,000 and Primrose Schools© will make a $20,000 donation to their Children's Miracle Network Hospital©
  • 3rd Prize: $1,500 and Primrose Schools© will make a $15,000 donation to their Children's Miracle Network Hospital©

Childhood obesity is a critical issue for young children in America. Dance is a fun, easy way to incorporate physical activity into your family's routine while enjoying quality time together. The Family Dance-off supports Children's Miracle Network Hospitals©, a non-profit organization that raises funds for more than 170 children's hospitals, which collectively treat 17 million children annually for every illness and injury imaginable.

 

So, let me know if you are going to participate - I can't wait to record our silly video and share the hilarity with y'all! Hey, it's for a good cause, so get moving!

 

Fin.


Hellmann's Chicken Challenge

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a Hellmann's® prize package in exchange for this post.  No monetary exchange took place. All opinions are my own.

For so many moms, back-to-school season means back to the same old dinner routines. We have a handful of go-to recipes and we rely on them to carry us through, week-in and week-out. Well, things are about to change... Hellmann's® is on a mission to help break you out of your dinner menu monotony!

hellmanns parm crusted chicken 

To help you spice-up your dinner routine, Hellmann's® and Best Foods® mayonnaise are launching the first-ever Chicken Challenge, a series of head-to-head chicken dish challenges that will help moms diversify their weekly recipe repertoire. Each week on Hellmanns.com, two chicken dish "challenger" recipes from Chipotle Lime Crusted Chicken to Baked Buffalo Chicken will go up against one of the most popular recipes on Hellmanns.com*, Parmesan Crusted Chicken. Try one of the featured Hellmann's® chicken recipes each week and cast your vote for your favorite.

 

On Hellmanns.com, you can also enter into a weekly sweepstakes for a chance to win one of four $250 grocery gift cards.** And if Hellmann's® receives more than 10,000 entries, the value of the grocery gift cards will double to $500!**

 

Hellmann's®* transforms chicken into a juicier, crispier, more delicious meal.*** With so many delicious recipes to try out at Hellmanns.com, you're sure to find dishes the whole family will love.

 

Good luck!

 

Fin.

 

*Or Best Foods® depending on geographical location of media market.

 

**No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Promotion ends December 5, 2011. See Hellmanns.com for rules.

 

***Versus plain baked chicken


Oot And Aboot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fin. 
 
  


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Is it Friday again already?! Sheesh, I am way behind on "regular" posts here, sorry! Well, thank goodness for Mrs.4444, or y'all would NEVER hear what's going on in our lives... wait. You might like that. Anyway!

2010-07-18

Last weekend, Sophia went to the birthday party of her former preschool teacher's little boy. I didn't take any pictures of anyone else, ever since I got in trouble with the school for having pix of other preschool children here on the blahg. *insert eyeroll here* So here's Sophia having tons of fun at the newly-updated Chuck E. Cheese. I couldn't believe it when I walked in there - it's all different since her party in April! New games, new rides, new layout... too bad they didn't have new (organic) food. I let her eat, though. She was THRILLED and totally pigged out!

I talked to her teacher quite a bit; we get along swimmingly. Seems Sophia is a "fave" of hers from class, and she behaves like an angel while at school. Ha! She could not believe how seriously naughty Sophia is at home. Maybe I should send her back to preschool...? I mean, really, wth?

As we left that party, Sophia told me she was going to marry the 2yo birthday boy. I pointed out that she was quite a bit older than him, at five, but she seemed nonplussed. My daughter, the cougar!

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Hahaha, this picture kills me. Not only am I wearing Ye Olde Fashioned Scary Mud Mask, but it looks like I have a giant boog on my face! Awesome.

This is part of a review I'm doing for my giveaway blog, Fishing and Wishing. I'm having lots of fun giving away goodies every night there, but I tell you what, it is starting to become a lot of work to keep up with it! I'm thinking about getting an assistant... and at times, I think about handing off the blog to someone else entirely! I just don't know how I'm going to have time to keep up with it AND this blog AND running this household AND homeschooling. Something's gotta give!

I am pigging out like crazy this week. I don't know what it is; every once in a while, the former appetite seems to come back, and I feel like eating constantly. And I eat when I'm hungry, so I'm afraid to step on the scale this week! I haven't been keeping up with my protein, either, so... yeah. Maybe I'll skip that mean ol' weighin' machine for a few more days.

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Two things about Sophia: She loves birds, and she loves bugs. She loves the cool bugs she catches, like this grasshopper, so much that she wants to keep them for pets. Mom never lets her, though. Today, she asked me, "Can we put him in a bucket and poke lots of holes in it so he can breathe?" I declined, asking, "But what would we feed him, honey? We don't want him to starve!" She had a ready answer: "We'll just go to the pet store and get grasshopper food, Mom!"

2010-07-21

I usually get my crabcakes already made from the fishmonger at the Farmer's Market, Uncle Chuck. His are the best in the world, I sh*t you not. 

But the last time I went, he was out of them! Wha?! Didn't he know I was coming?

I had to settle for a pound of lump crab meat, instead.

That was at the beginning of this month, and yesterday, I finally decided to break down and make my own crabby patties. I had asked Steph how she made hers, but I lost where she told me (it was online, on Facebook I think), so I turned to the old standby: The Joy of Cooking. Reading the recipe, it sounded pretty much exactly like Steph's, so I decided to go for it (mustard and all! Eek!)

 I had to make a few subs: I didn't have scallions, so I used the organic red onions from the organic food shoppe. I didn't have bread crumbs, or even bread to make my own, so I used cornmeal (yeah, don't do that). Otherwise, I think I followed the 'structions pretty much exactly... and you know what?

Uncle Chuck's were a zillion times better. Seriously. If you're ever in Virginia Beach on a Thursday-thru-Sunday, get thee to his stand at the Farmer's Market and pick up some of his crabcakes! *drool*

Oh! Oh! Oh! I have perhaps the most exciting news you've read all year minute: We now have air conditioning!! I'm no longer stuffing freezer packs down my bra and underwear all day long, to keep from melting! Hee. Ahhhh. Everyone is feeling MUCH better, thanks. And I no longer have to listen to the poor dog panting like crazy. That was driving me insane in the membrane. (I'd yell at her, "Stop BREATHING, already!") Aw, poor pooch.

Jack, 7, is at Cub Scout camp this week. I heard from his Leader, Beth, that he's having a fantastic time and has gone boating and rock wall climbing. I didn't believe it - he's quite a chicken, and a whiner - but she said she has the pictures to prove it! I can't wait to see.

We miss him so much, Rob and I. It's very different without the little feller. The girls got along for the first time EVER yesterday, and played like sweet little sisters. Today, however, the fighting was worse than usual. It was outrageous! I felt like shouting, SHUT UPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!

So that's all from me this week. Hope y'all have a fan-flipping-tastic week, and I'll see ya back here next time!

Fin.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Mrs. 4444 is the brainpower behind Friday Fragments, so be sure and link up with her if you're in pieces this week!

So, despite the fact that:

 - We still have some fleas and our natural solution (sprinkling diatomaceous earth everywhere) isn't working well,

- we still don't have AC in the house OR in my van,

- last year's housefly problem has returned,

- pigeons have invaded our attic, and

- my bipolar meds are in need of tweaking, apparently, because my moods are all over the map lately,

I'm having a pretty decent week. I'm feeling happy, content, and grateful for my wonderful life. It's not a feeling I've experienced often in my mixed-up life, so I'm holding onto it this time with all my might.

Bunco

Our monthly Bunco night was Wednesday, and I was the "host" (although it's always held at T's house now). These are the prizes I brought, and they were pretty well received. I love getting Bunco prizes and always put a lot of thought into it. I actually kicked butt this month and won TWO prizes, so I brought home the chunky red necklace from Torrid that I liked, and the Salt Water Taffy that my kiddos had been eyeing since I picked it up. Steph subbed in this month and snagged a couple herself!

Btw, see those cards with the elephants on them, near the top left? Made with real elephant poop. Awesome, right? :D

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Speaking of Bunco, I wore this pendant that I reviewed on my giveaway blog, Fishing and Wishing, and it got raves! Check it out if you'd like one for yourself. ;)

And not only that, but I'm thisclose to my goal weight and very definitely plan to reach it by the time I hit the 1½-year post-gastric bypass-surgery mark on the 26th, so my new figure got a lot of attention at Bunco night, too. I purposely dressed up in my LBD (Little Black Dress) to show it off a little, hee.  Two of the other ladies were talking, and they told me that I should be a spokesperson for the surgery! Another one even called me "skinny," which is, like, the awesomest compliment I can get right now.

Love those girls, MWAH!

I had my 18-month follow-up with my surgeon (Dr. C, thank goodness; I think the other guy is a complete @$$) this morning, and he was full of praise for my progress.

He doesn't want me to lose much more at all, actually. I'm at about 152.5 lbs, and he'd like to see me go no lower than 150 lbs, even though I'm only 5'2" and my "ideal" BMI-chart weight is about 125 lbs. He said that a frame that can hold 341 lbs (I know!! Shame on me) just would not look good at 125, and I would probably feel terrible. I asked him to elaborate on that, and he just said I'd feel completely miserable. (Wouldn't I like to test that theory, though?!)

So, I know I will go substantially lower than 150 when I get my jiggles and stuff cut off, which I plan to start doing as soon as our still-outstanding tax refund comes in, but maybe the 120s aren't the destiny for me. Eh. I got called a "MILF" by two hot guys recently, so what more do I need?! :D

Oh, also, I asked Dr. C. about the fact that almost every time I stand up, I get so light-headed that I almost black out. It's a major nuisance. I wasn't sure it was related to the weight loss, but he confirmed that it definitely is and is very common.

The problem?

My blood pressure is too low.

Which is a switch, considering I used to be on meds for my very HIGH pressures.

The solution?

I need to add more muscle mass, since I've lost a considerable amount of that, to help bulk up my weakened blood vessels, and I have to add more salt to my diet. (You don't hear that often, eh?) And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, of course, which I am always conscious of, but it's especially hard in the current heat.

He promised that it would stop when my weight loss finally levels off, and that is one thing I am looking forward to. Having to stop and hold on to something for 10-20 seconds every time I get up is a major pain in my arse!

2010-07-16

Tonight was fun. With the Amazon.com gift cards I've been racking up with my Swagbucks, I was able to get a free Ice Cream Maker, and it arrived last night. Rob went out for the extra ingredients we needed tonight, and we made some awesome organic vanilla soft serve. I can't really have any, but I did steal a few spoonfuls of the finished product. Oh, my stars, it is GOOD. GOOD!!! Next time, I forewarned them that we'll be making me some sugar-free strawberry sorbet, so Mama can actually enjoy some frozen goodness. I can't wait!

(Those pictures are from my shutterbug-in-training, Chloë.)

I had two free passes to see Toy Story 3, so I bought two more tickets and took the kids to see it at the local theater today. What a great flick! I actually cried my eyes out at the end. The kids loved it, too, and they talked about it all evening. Have you seen it?

That's it. I didn't record any Cute Kid Quotes this week; hopefully I'll get some for next time!

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Fin.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aw. ♥

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

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

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

Hey, I kinda like the idea.

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

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

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

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

Dog collar 1

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

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Fin. 


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments 

Friday Fragments is brought to you by Mrs.4444. Come join us here if you're fragmenting today!

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We did our shopping at the Farmer's Market today (might post about that later), continuing on with our big push to buy fresh, local and organic (FLO) food - only. When my oldest daughter, 8½ -year-old Chloë, saw these humongous blackberries, she just HAD to have them.Are they not freaking huge?! Delicious, too. Of course, she didn't end up liking them! Rob (the hubs) sprinkled hers in sugar so she would eat it, but I told him not to spoil the natural taste with that mess. Whatever, she ate it and liked it that way. But dang... huge!

Btw, eating "FLO" is NOT cheap. I spent our entire food budget for the month today, almost. Eek! Good thing I don't require much food since my gastric bypass surgery, or else this NEVER would have been possible!

These last couple of days have been much more bearable, heat- and living-without-AC-wise. Instead of being over 100º, it's been more like 80º. Which isn't exactly a cold front, but wow, it makes a huge difference.

As for the fleas, we still have them, but we're searching for a local source of insecticide-free diatomaceous earth to get rid of them. It's a natural maritime product that's like tiny shards of glass; they cut the exoskeletons of the critters, which dehydrates them to death. (I didn't say it was humane, but it's safe to be around.) The one source we knew of is now closed, so I'm on the hunt... Much better than nasty chemicals I wouldn't want around my kidoodles!

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If you have checked out my new giveaway and review blog, Fishing and Wishing (please do! I've got 99 followers and will do a happy dance when I finally hit 100!), you might remember Gymbohannah, who sponsored our first giveaway of a funky silver skull necklace.  Well, her real name is Michelle, and she lives here locally. She invited me to an artsy-fartsy street fair in downtown Norfolk tonight. I was excited to finally meet her, after "knowing" her through Etsy for a few years. Anyway, after the groceries were semi-put away, we went to go find her. We never did, because that stinker didn't end up going, but we did see lots of fun street performers, including this belly dancer. Apparently, there was also a flash mob, but we missed that. Darn; I've always wanted to be a part of one, or at least an enthusiastic observer!

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Near the bellydancer, here were a couple of (I think) college girls, who jumped up and sang a cute song. We all joined in after a few choruses (chori?) were sung. Fun times; the kids loved it.

By the way, I love that I needed sunglasses at 8 PM. Summer is freaking awesome. 

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I'm trying to think of a joke about my daughter (5yo Sophia) mounting a big, black lion... but none of them are even remotely appropriate. So, never mind.

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Here is Chloë, almost 9. After walking around the street party for a while, we decided to stop and have a pizza. (Fresh and local, maybe, but most definitely NOT organic. Oh well, we try.) I'm just noticing now, in the picture, that she still had her bathing suit on from Girl Scout camp earlier in the day. Silly girl! You see those curls? Beautiful, right? Well, she hates them. She whines about them every. single. day. She's insane!

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Well, he still doesn't like having his picture taken ... so I can't decide, is this shot of 7yo Jack being "all BOY" better than him hiding, or not?? I think it is. He's so silly.

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Ah, Sophia. Every chance she gets, that thumb is in her mouth. Maybe I should have pushed the pacifier on them, after all... 

By the way, if you like these flowers and headbands the girls are wearing, stay tuned for a giveaway on Fishing and Wishing, coming up on Monday!

I'm still feeling too lazy to check my phone for cute kid quotes, so I'll just leave you with this one I remember from our pizza dinner tonight:

Our kids like to blow straw wrappers at each other. Chloë blew hers at Jack, to which he complained back, "Leave me alone! It's not funny to blow people while they're eating!"

Rob and I just gave each other The Look over that one. We giggled inwardly. 

Don't blow me while I'm eating!

Okay chickadees, have a lovely weekend, an awesome and amazing Independence Day if you're of the American variety, and don't light yourself on fire when you're playing with those sparklers! ;)

Fin. 
 
 
  


C'mon, It's Ladies' Night, Oh What A Night

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So in May, when the girlies and I were at the big Girl Scout recruiting event, Sophia entered and won a giveaway for a Moms' Night Out at The Body ShopI was told to bring five or six friends, but for one reason or another, most of them couldn't make it. So Tabitha (left), Linda (right) and I (center) carpooled over to the mall together on Sunday night to treat ourselves to some fun and relaxation.

Linda and I don't have AC in our vehicles, and Tab never goes to that mall, so I drove us there in her SUV. Vroom! It was fuuun.

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We enjoyed a nice peppermint foot soak, with peppermint oil, scrub and lotion. The Body Shop provided crackers, cheese, turkey and yummy berrry champagne for us, too! It was a really nice treat.

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Dammit, Tabitha, look at the camera!! ;) (Is she not the cutest freaking thing ever?!)

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They also provided a masseuse for us lovely ladies! How nice was that? I really, really needed a massage, too, so I relaxed and enjoyed every single second of my very nice rub-down.

 
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*snicker* Linda cracks me UP! She enjoyed her massage, too.

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Linda and I walked around the shop sampling a little bit of everything while Terabithia had her rubby-rub. I felt bad for the girls working so hard to entertain us, so I bought a few little things on sale. Good stuff, I hope; I haven't used them yet. But they smell wonderful, so we'll see.

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All-in-all, it was a lovely little excursion for the three of us, and we were all glad for a little me-time, she-time out without the kiddos Thanks, Sophia!. Cheers!

Fin. 


Aloha Friday

AlohaFriday

Make sure to link up with Kailani if you've got a fun question for us today!

Since I have been a busy little bee promoting Etsy shops and running giveaways over on my new blog, Fishing and Wishing, it's currently all that's on the brain at the moment. So my question for you this week is:

Do you enter blog giveaways? If so, what is your favorite kind of giveaway to enter?

Thanks and I'd love it if you'd come over and check out some giveaways! I've got four running right now, with more coming up every day.

Fin. 


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments 

Friday Fragments is brought to you by the wonderful Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. Link up with her here if you're fragmenting today!

Ahh, Friday again, already? It seems like you were just here.

This summer is shaping up to be a dreadful one. First, it was air conditioning season again, and we are out of freon. We're suffering without it right now, because with starting homeschooling and our garden, there is just no wiggle room in the budget for anything else.

But then?

It was over 100º today!!!!

Seriously? I am sitting here nekkid right now with the sweat dripping down me. And it's after 1 in the morning! I know you are so glad I provided such lovely imagery, too.

Oh, also? More loveliness? It would appear that at least one of our mongrels has a flea infestation, and now we are being bitten, too. Probably not the sort of thing one normally wants to share publicly, but I am nothing if not an open book about such things.

Cat #2's flea meds are due to arrive tomorrow or the next day... I wonder if we can, uh, share it with Cat #1, she of the fleas?

We have been flea-less for 7 years and now this. Suckage.

I have been working my hindquarters off on my new blog, Fishing and Wishing. It is a review and giveaway blog, and holy COW, I didn't *quite* realize how time- and labor-intensive it would be, at least at the beginning.

I'll spare you the details, but I would absolutely adore it if you'd come over and enter one or two or three or all four of the current giveaways! Check out the list on the right, and stop back again tomorrow, because I've got more in the works.

Thanks!

Hmmm, what else... Oh! I'm excited, because my friend Gloria from Pieces of Me may very well be coming for a visit - and she may very well be staying with us!! (Though she may reconsider, now that she realizes we have don't have AC and we do have fleas... lol) If she comes, it'll be in a week, for four days, and we'll go to the big 4th of July party at the park down the road together.

Eeeeee!

I'm excited! We've never met in person and are just friends through the blogosphere. So that's fun!

These three days - Weds thru Fri - have been utterly awesome, because unlike the past, well, ever, there has been absolutely NOTHING on the calendar. School is out, dance is over, camp hasn't started yet ('til next week), and we are FREE!

Needless to say, with these crazy temps, I'm so thankful we have a pool and the beach at our disposal!

If you could keep my IRL friend Stephanie, and her husband Tim, and especially their baby Luke, in your thoughts and/or prayers, I would appreciate it. He's had a number of seizure-like "episodes" in recent days, and had undergone all manner of neurological testing. Thankfully, it would appear that he does not, in fact, have a neurological disorder, but they still don't have a diagnosis and are understandably worried and frustrated. Thanks!

After all the frustations of posting on Blogger - I love that it's free, and that I can have and snag buttons and other gadgets, but dang, it's annoying - it's so lovely to be posting back here at my wonderful Typepad. Thank you, Typepad, for not being an intense pain in my neck.

I guess those are all the bits I can pepper you with for today. I do have some cute kid quotes to share, but they're on the iPhone, which is busy syncing right now, so it'll have to wait 'til next week!

Oh, I can think of one off the top of my head, from this morning: I was cooking bacon and eggs for the kids' breakfast, and the bacon pan started smoking. One of the kids, Jack maybe, started freaking out about it, and Sophia, 5, soothed him by saying, "Don't worry, if it catches on fire, we can just put bacon soda on it!"

Bacon soda! Hee!

(She really did say "bacon," and not "bakin'," because there was a whole follow-up conversation about which it was, but that takes away the funny, so I'll leave it at that!)

Have a lovely weekend. Don't forget to visit Fishing and Wishing for some goodies. Thanks!!

Fin.


Your Name Rhymes With Snot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we went.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sophia, looking completely enthused.

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An amusing self-portait

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

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

Fin.  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
  
  



Saturday 9: Jumping Someone Else's Train

The_Cure_-_Jumping_Someone_Else's_Train

Crazy Sam is our hostess for Saturday 9 - click here to join in the fun!

1. When was your last train ride?

Garsh, I think that would have to be November '04, when I was pregnant with Sophia, and we went to explore DC. Long time!

2. How many foreign countries have you visited? Tell us about one.

Well, Guam, Puerto Rico and the USVI probably don't count, so that leaves Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Panama, I'm forgetting something... Spain, Italy, France, Monaco, Greece, Croatia... I guess that's it? I'll tell you about Croatia. We were in the old city of Dubrovnik, a place where I never in a million years imagined I would want to go. But you know what? It was absolutely lovely, and if someone wanted to send me there again, I'd be happy to go. I loved the open-air market, the people, the by-the-sea atmosphere... everything. Make sure you buy a tie there!

3. What do you always take with you on vacation?

My camera, of course!

4. Tell us about something you've lost recently.

My Blogger virginity! I started a new PR blog there: Fishing and Wishing. Please, please, please come follow along, and enter the giveaway(s). There will be a new one tomorrow. (I'm shameless, I know.)

5. Do you prefer action packed vacations or relaxing ones?

A little bit of both. I like to go, see and do, but I also like to relax. Both.

6. How long will you wait in a check out line before abandoning your purchases?

If I want it enough to buy it, I will wait as long as it takes.

7. How old do you wish you were?

I'm happy with the age I am.

8. Do you consider yourself kind?

I try to be, but no, I'm not always kind. I work on it.

9. Tell us about your tattoos. Or if you had to get a tattoo, where and what would it be?

I don't have any. Hubs has nine and wants more, but I haven't decided yet whether I would get one. I have no idea what I'd want, which is the problem. Something about my kids? My hubs? The ocean or fish? knitting and yarn? I don't think one small (it would have to be small) picture could adequately convey everything I would want it to about me, so I don't think I'll ever get one!

Enter the giveaway! ;)

Fin.

 


Branching Out

So the other day, I mentioned that I had started a new PR blog.

I'm ready to tell you about it now.

It's called Fishing and Wishing, and I know that's a silly little name, but I am seriously not good at coming up with names for stuff. Even my kids - Rob pretty much named all of them! Except the last one; I think that was my creation...

But I digress. You can find the new PR blog here. I just posted our first giveaway, for a really funky, cool necklace from a local (to me) artisan who I have "known" off-and-on through Etsy for a couple of years now. I'm excited she's the first one - and there will be another really cool giveaway up tomorrow, with more coming during the week. I hope.

Why am I doing this?

Well, I started it on a total whim. I was reading blogs in my Google Reader account, and some of them were PR blogs doing giveaways. It seemed like fun. Hey, I like fun. I'm not hoping to get rich, or even get a ton of cool freebies. If that happens, hey, fun, but if not, still, fun. I'm just doing it for a kick.  Five seconds after I thought of it, I started doing it.

And that's it.

Right now, there are NO entries on the giveaway. If this new blog is going to succeed and grow, that's definitely got to change.

So please, get over there and enter. More than once! And please, please, please spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. I will be SO grateful!!

Thanks.

Fin.