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So Chloë Is Twelve, And I Am Old.


My wee, tiny little baby, Chloë Raine, is no more. She's a full-grown twelve-year-old, which is unreal. UNREAL. Twelve years? Really?! How did that happen? I can't believe it's been so long since Rob and I checked into the Pensacola Ronald McDonald House post-Caesarian section, so we could be near the NICU where Chloë stayed for what seemed like an eternity. (In reality, it was a stressful but relatively-brief ten days.)

Okay, so she's still tiny, but you know what I mean. I took her to the pediatrician the other day, where she weighed less than 50 pounds. She still wears a size 6-7 (girls, not juniors), whereas her 8-year-old sister, Sophia, is in a size 8-10. Small in stature though she may be, Chloë is huge on personality. We love her to death and would go to the ends of the earth for her. So, here's to Chloë!


Chloë's 12th birthday was the day before my 37th, this past September 7th and 8th. Essentially, since we share a birthday, that means more freebies for her. If you've read here a while, you may remember that we sign up for all the birthday freebies we can, and then go around and redeem them for a fun traveling birthday celebration. Call us cheap, but it's super enjoyable and a great time for everybody.


I wanted to do something fun and different for her birthday cake this year, and I didn't have a whole lot of money or time, so this is what I did. Cupcake cones! I had planned to put ice cream in the bottom of the cones for extra yumminess, but after the first cone broke to bits in the process - and realizing I had no freezer space to store a dozen cones upright - I aborted that mission. Still, these were simple and fun to make, and Chloë squealed with delight when she saw them. WIN!


We had lots of places to go on her birthday Saturday, so because I was afraid our five stinkin' cats would get up on the counter and knock the cones all over the place, we did her 'cake' and candles first thing in the morning. Strange but fun! We only had eight candles, so I had to relight four of them, but she didn't care. I had done them six times for Rob's 41st birthday the prior week, after all!


Our first stop was to pick up a boneless chicken meal from a KFC here in Homestead. Okay, okay, so this wasn't technically a freebie, but $2.99 for a two-piece meal with side and a biscuit. She absolutely loves their mac & cheese, so call this one a worthwhile splurge.

And how cute does she look in that dress?


Our next stop was at the Buffalo Wild Wings up the road in Pinecrest or somewhere. I'm not sure exactly, but you can Google it. ;) Chloë had a free dessert coming, so we all went in to share it with her. Jack was being a huge butthead, though, so he and Rob went out to sit in the car while Sophia stayed with her big sister. The conversation with the wait staff was funny. "No, we don't need any menus, thanks." "Nope, no drinks for us." "Yes, that's really all." Apparently they don't get a lot of cheap bastards at BWW? Lucky for me, the 'Canes vs. Florida game was on half the screens, so I watched football while the girls chowed down... (We won. Go U!)

I do leave a tip even when we don't have a bill, in case you're wondering just how cheap we are. No worries there, chill.


We girls ran into the mall to go to an Auntie Anne's for her free pretzel, but we were refused. I was so mad! The email clearly stated I could show the coupon on my mobile phone instead of printing it out, so I opted to do that to save some paper and ink, you know? "Well, we've never seen this coupon on a phone before, so we can't take it." Seriously? I replied, "Well, you just lost my business. C'mon girls," and walked off. Honestly, people, it's 2013. Get with the program.

I pulled out a couple of pennies and let them make a wish at the fountain. They probably wished for me not to be such am embarrassing mom. Right?


There were a fire truck and ambulance outside the mall on our way back to the van, since it was National Safety Week or something. Of course, I saw a fun photo op for the lady-babies, and they climbed aboard. Woo-woo-woo!


Sophia said she wanted to be a firefighter, until she put that big ol' helmet on her head. Now she's reconsidering. Wait 'til she sees how heavy the rest of the uniform is!


The dude at the ambulance was befuddled when I asked if the girls could sit up in the back of the bus for a picture. Huh? Isn't that what you're here for? No one else was checking them out, so maybe not. Maybe they had a stretcher in the mall and were waiting to transport a patient? But they let us take our little Instagram, so I guess not.


We went to the Chuck E. Cheese in Cutler Bay after that. Not a birthday freebie, since she's aged out of that and several others, but I printed out some certificates off the CEC website for 10 free tokens for each of my kiddos. I just had to buy a small drink to redeem them, which was worth it for the fun I knew they'd have. I tracked Jack around the arcade, while Rob stayed with the girls and collected everyone's tickets. 

Holy crap. Number one, remind me that we are homeschoolers and can go on a Tuesday morning at 11 AM if we want to. We do not need to be there on a rainy Saturday afternoon with half the county. Holy shit. 

Number two, I totally called their safety hotline to report two (what seemed to me) major issues: Chuck E. came out and held court with the entire restaurant denizens - except for us, as we were in the long ticket-redemption line - right smack in front of the exit. With 50+ people blocking the doors, that had to be a fire hazard. Really?

Number three, the girl who was supposed to be shining her black light on wrists at the door to keep kiddos from escaping (or worse) was the only person not there during Chuck E.'s big door blockage. I stood there and watched a toddler run out through the gate and head for the front door, with no one there to stop her. Her daddy came running and grabbed her, yanking her back inside the restaurant, before the worker strolled over from the depths of the restaurant interior. Scary! And not cool.

Call me a worry-wart or whatever you will, but I have no plans to revisit Chuck E. Cheese anytime soon. And it's not just that location. Last time we were at CEC, in Virginia Beach, we almost came to a fist fight with another family, the so-called adults of which allowed their ginormous children to trample ours. Sorry, but I do not put up with that crap and called them on it.

Moving on...


After that, we headed to a mall called The Falls to redeem three separate $5 gift certificates to Build-A-Bear Workshop. One was for Chloë's birthday, one was for mine, and one was for our anniversary of signing up for their e-club. All three kids, therefore, had five bucks to spend in the store. And not a penny more, we made it clear - about eleventy billion times, because they kept wanting to stuff a $40 animal. Uh, no.

Chloë and Sophia had no trouble finding $5 accesories to spend their gift cards on, but Jack, as usual, was as indecisive as a gigolo in the red light district. He bitched and moaned about the five-dollar spending cap, and ultimately decided that he wasn't going to use his money at all. So Rob and I implored him, instead, to give his big sis a gift with it for her birthday. He begrudgingly picked out a Hello Kitty purse she'd been toying with getting, rolled his eyes, and snarked, "Happy birthday, Chloë," when he handed it over. 

Ah, the love.

(The three of them are usually much nicer and more loving to each other, swears.)


Next, we headed up to Coral Gables to get her free ice cream cone from the Ben & Jerry's shop downtown. A police officer on a segway kept passing by our van and looking at me, and I could tell he was checking me out. Just kidding. He was probably investiging our Virginia tags or our cracked windshield... but no ticket was administered, so phew! Chloë decided on Mango Sorbet (ick) and posed for her requisite iphoneography.

After that, we drove up and down the Gables' Miracle Mile looking for a certain bakery. I couldn't remember the name of it for the life of me, but I was certain I knew where it was. Siri was no help, either. I had picked up a couple of chocolate mousse cupcakes for my pal Marc's birthday-slash-Rosh Hashanah the week before, and he was dying for another taste.  Would I please pick them up a couple more, and a business card?

It took me no fewer than 45 minutes to find Ricky's Bakery, but apparently it was worth it to Marc, so I did it happily! They don't speak any English in the shop, and I picked up a take-out menu for Marc (no cards were in sight) and asked them, in my halting Spanish, to point out the chocolate mousse treats on the menu, so I could circle them for Marc to show if he returned on his own. Of course, that was one of the few things not on the menu, so my friend is out of luck, I'm afraid.


Before we headed over to Marc and Jenna's house with their mousse cakes, we had two more quick stops on the Miracle Mile to make. Chloë picked out a free, huge chocolate chip cookie from the Barnes & Noble Café. She'd had so many fun, free treats so far, she decided to split it in half and give each to Sophia and Jack. Sweet girl, she is.


And then, we stopped at California Pizza Kitchen for the free dessert of her choice. I had to real-quicklike download the CPK app on my iPhone, because they couldn't look up our freebie on my rewards account by my phone number. Be aware! She chose the Chocolate Soufflé Cake. The guy taking her order asked if she wanted it a la mode. At first I said no, since we were taking it to-go, but then I thought to ask for it on the side to take to Marc's three-year-old twins, Jake and Addison. Well, it didn't occur to me that there would be an upcharge for the ice cream until I had to pay a couple bucks, so be aware of that, too, if you're broke-as-a-joke like us!


I hung around at Marc's house for over an hour, having delivered the goods and coming in for a quick chat with my friends. Marc's in a wheelchair, having become a quadriplegic in his early 20s, and I used to live with him back in my college days. I was his night nurse then, so I know a lot about his particular needs. He's not been feeling well lately, so a question about that and, in turn, Rob's current health crisis turned into an extended conversation about everything under the sun. I love the two of them and was just thrilled to hang for a short while!

Finally, it was late, so we headed back to Homestead. Our local Sonic was on the way, so I stopped there top pick up Chloë's free grilled cheese Wacky Pack for her birthday dinner. She had her drink and apple slices before we got to the house. She was stuffed by that point, so I totally snagged her sammich when we got home. Hey, Mom's gotta eat sometimes, too.


Panera was around the corner from Sonic, and upon seeing it, I remembered that I had a freebie coming for my birthday from there, too! Anything from the bakery case that I wanted, so I perused the drive-thru menu and settled upon a carrot cupcake for Rob. Little did he know he was going to get it, but since he'd just celebrated Birthday Number 41 and I can't really eat sweets, well, he became the lucky recipient.


On Sunday, my birthday, I slept almost the whoooole damned day. I needed it after having spent five days rushing back and forth to the University of Miami Hospital an hour from home to visit Rob! I finally woke up around 1800, just in time to shower and head to the 7 PM showing of Planes with Chloë for our free birthday movie down the road at Homestead's Flagship Cinema. We even got a free 40-oz soda, though I did splurge (wincing, natch) on nachos for my kid.


After the movie, we returned home to collect Rob and the Littles for more birthday fun. Our first stop was to Denny's, so I could collect my free Grand Slam. I ate none of it. Jack was again being a jerkface to his sister, so he and Rob - again - sat in the car while the girls scarfed down the meal. He's apparently having a hard time with anyone else having a birthday. (Marc suggested I videotape his entire next birthday to prove that he, too, gets showered with fun and love when it's his turn. I just might!)


We ran to Walmart after Denny's, so that Chloë could spend her gift card from her paternal grandfather and step-grandma. She decided to choose a Cleopatra Halloween costume for next month, and the remainder was spent on a small Barbie toy. At 12, she still loves to play Barbies with her younger sister, which is fine by me.


The subsequent trip to IHOP proved to be happier for Jack, who successfully scored the strawberry pancakes from my free Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity meal. Finally, a smiling boy picture. You were beginning to think that never happened, weren't you?



Birthday freebies got put on hold from Monday through Wednesday evening, as I had to take Rob back into the hospital first thing in the morning on the 9th. He had the worst headache of his life, and since he'd been in intensive care with a cerebellar hemmorhage last week, I wasn't playing around. I called his neurosurgeon, told him that Rob's pain was so bad he was throwing up and crying, and was instructed to bring him right in to the UM Emergency Department. They admitted him back to the Neuro Intensive Care Unit right away for a heavy shock of steroids to reduce the cerebellar swelling and thus, the pain in his head. It worked, and he was released 2½ days later with more steroids to take. Indefinitely. Joy. (Should I sign him up for MLB?)


On the trip home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, we must have hit a nail or something, because we were smack-dab in the middle of the Palmetto Expressway when we blew a tire. Greaaaat. I pulled off onto the Le Jeune road exit near Miami International Airport, so you can imagine the busyness of the lane. Nevertheless, I scooted all the way over the to right, leaving enough room for my fellow drivers to pass and get off the express.

So there was Rob, in the rain, fresh out of the hospital, with a brain tumor, changing my tire. I felt horrible for him, but grateful for the rest of us, because if it happened on the way to the hospital, I can't imagine what I would have done. Besides cry. Did I mention my phone was dead, and my brandy-new car charger stopped working? That kind of excitement, we don't really need, no, thank you!

While he was jacking up the van to put on the donut, a tow truck pulled up behind us, blocking ALL traffic. HONK! HONK! "MOVE!" the driver shouted. Um, okay, but you could have just passed us like everyone else figured out how to do. "Get outta the way!"

The guy turned out to be nice, if kind of fierce. He followed me off the exit, going no more than 4 MPH, while my blown tire went thump-thump-thump! on the rim. Rob was PISSED, because the tire that should have been able to be repaired for $28 was thusly thoroughly destroyed. We ended up having to replace it completely for five times as much. Not. Happy. We drove to Tire King in the Gables to find out that fine fact, where I snapped this photo of Jack, dead to the world.


On the way home, driving carefully on US-1 through all of southern Miami-Dade County, we swung into Toys 'R Us for Chloë to spend her birthday money from Aunt Stacey (my sister). She decided on two color-your-own bags for herself and Sophia, which of course infuriated her poor, left out little brother. He cried and cried, and there was nothing I could think of to do, other than assure him that he would never have spent his money on either of his sisters if the shoe were on the other foot. He had no choice but to agree, and that quieted him. Not an ideal situation, but I was unwilling to upset my birthday girl, so I let it go.


At the checkout, the cashier discovered we were celebrating a birthday, so she gave Chloë a balloon and a crown. So she's 12, whatevs. Fun is fun.


Once home, I decided Chloë and I should ride around our nearby streets and redeem the Homestead birthday freebies. Rob protested, because of the donut wheel, but I am a stubborn fool and wanted to be finished with the birthday business. So, we left him home with the Littles and headed out. Our first stop was Shakey's Pizza Parlor down the road, where she was given a free pizza and drink. I could have gotten a free buffet for my birthday, too, but they didn't have the buffet set up. Eh. No big deal.


We ran to Kohl's in the same plaza to spend a free $10 gift card I'd been sent in the mail. We picked over the entire store while she made up her mind what to buy, so I was stunned to find this huge Christmas display, in the middle of September. Too soon, people!


However, my chagrin didn't last too long, because I spotted a tree filled with beach-themed ornaments behind the one pictured above. I off-handedly suggested she buy one for herself and her siblings to celebrate their first Christmas in Miami, and Chloë jumped at the thought! The ball in the center is for her, and she gave the swordfish to Jack and the octopus to Sophia. They were thrilled she thought of them!


Chloë still had a birthday gift card from Grandma (my MIL) to spend, so we headed to Walmart once again. She carefully chose what to spend her money on, having promised Jack she'd get him a small LEGO set while they were cleaning garbage out of the van earlier. She selected that first! Then she picked out the nail and lip gloss sets, and a couple bottles of colored bubbles from the clearance section rounded out her selection. Satisfied, we headed for the register. Good job, Sis!


We had called Ruby Tuesday's from the 2o-items-or-less line at Walmart to order a pretzel cheeseburger for Rob and her two free gourmet cupcakes, having discovered they were closing in the very near future. We got there just in time and picked up the food from the bar, where I had to shoo Chloë to a distant table to avoid the discouraging glares from bar patrons...


Our last birthday stop of the night was once again Sonic, where I'd been given a free birthday CreamSlush. Of course, I couldn't have that either, so Chloë got that one, too. She chose an orange creamsicle, at my suggestion, and shared with her brother and sister when we returned home. I snuck in a sip, and oh, my, that thing was delish!


A package from Aunt Gail (Rob's sister) was waiting for us at home. There was a cute dress for Chloë, plus two more shirts for her, and presents for Rob and me, too! Thanks, Gail! ♥


Our air conditioner went out last night, plus Rob's mom and dad helped us out with money for a new van tire, so we headed to Walmart yet again on Thursday. Here's Chloë - and Rob in the background - modeling a new shirt from Aunt Gail. Adorbs! It fit perfectly, too. 


I had coupons for Driscoll berries and a box of SeaPak clams, so we got those and the filter, too. Sophia, who loves nothing more than a container of strawberries in her hands, posed for a picture with me while we waited for the tire to be mounted. Jack, meanwhile, was happy as a clam to watch the garage activity from the waiting room. The boy loves his cars!


Back at home, Sophia found the present Gail had sent to moi, which was a few bottles of fun textured nail polish and some nail decals. Apparently, on all her trips to coupon at the drugstores with her mom, Sophia had her eye on exactly this shade of Fuzzy Coat, so when she discovered it on my desk, she was practically beside herself with excitement. WIN, again! She insisted on painting her nails herself (can you tell?), but I drew the line at topping this with another, different variety of textured polish. Enough is enough, y'know? On the other hand, she is eight years old, so who cares? Maybe I should have let her...

And that, my friends, is the end of Birthday Season 2013. Maybe. I still have a $30 gift certificate for a meal at Benihana...


P.S. I did try to give Chloë an actual gift from us. I had gotten a sweet deal on an alarm clock radio for her to plug her Kindle Fire into, but imagine my disappointment when she opened it and it didn't work with hers! The kids each have a Fire HD, which apparently requires different plug-ins from the non-HD. Suck. Mommy FAIL.

P.P.S. I also gave her a book that I'd redeemed some Kellogg's Family Rewards points for, a tween-y book that was waiting for us at home on Wednesday night. She has already read through the entire book!

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!


Saturday 9: Over The Rainbow


Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

1) Do you ever fantasize about flying, beyond the rainbow or anywhere else?

YES!!! I dream about it, too! If I could choose a superpower, flying would absolutely be it.

2) Do you think you have seen The Wizard of Oz more than 10 times?

Yes, I definitely have. It was a staple growing up in my house.

3) Which Wizard of Oz character would you most like to dress as for Halloween?

Dorothy, natch. I would rock that costume, too!

4) What will Trick-or-Treaters get when they come to your front door?

Erm, silence. We're going trunk-or-treating at our church this year instead. And I always hand out the good stuff! ;)

5) Did you ever TP a neighbor's house or indulge in other acts of Halloween vandalism as a kid? (Don't worry, that statute of limitations is up.)

Nope, never that I can recall. About five years ago, Rob and I threw about an entire carton of eggs into the street for kicks, though. Don't ask me why; I was probably manic at the time. No telling why Rob went along with me.

6) Who annoys you more -- people who never respond to your texts/emails, or those who never look up because they're always checking their texts/emails?

Definitely the former. I detest being ignored!

7) Who was the last person you hugged?

Chloë, before her flute lesson this afternoon, partially because we were both freezing...

8) What two colors do you like to wear together?

Black and red when I'm feeling sexy, earth tones when I'm feeling, you know, earthy.

9) Did your alarm clock wake you up this fine Saturday morning?

No... my husband did... ;)

On that note...


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


Link up here if you need to get some crap stuff off your chest today, too!

This has been a week of injury, pain and crisis for Team Odette. Wanna hear? Good, because that's pretty much all I've got to share right now.

Sunday, 6yo DD Sophia slammed her hand in the van door. Cue major crying and agony, as her hand swelled up to double its regular size and turned 15 shades of red and purple. So we drove home from where we were and then Daddy took her to the ER for X-rays. Thankfully, nothing was broken, but as there were a half-dozen booboos on the outside, too, they bandaged her up to high heaven and sent her home with Tylenol and Motrin.

(P.S. She's fine now.)

Monday, Chloë had her braces put on by the kids' dentist, Dr. C., on the top row of teeth. None for the bottom. She's been practically howling in pain ever since, whining and complaining that everything is poking her in the cheeks and gums, it's too tight, yadda yadda yadda. As her mother has had them twice, and her Daddy once, she's at least got sympathetic parents. And lots of yogurt in the fridge so she can eat.

(P.S. I had to make a special stop at Dr. C.'s office on Wednesday for more wax already. I asked her to use it a little more sparingly, huh? 'Cause I can't be driving down there every two days for more, y'know?)

Tuesday, the third day of crying in pain, Jack's own dental pain became so bad that we had to take him in to Dr. C. at night on an emergency basis. He had to keep his staff there late and everything, to treat the poor boy. Turns out, he had an abscessed tooth, which they immediately extracted (it was a baby tooth, fortunately). The poor kid is prone to cavities and has about eight right now that need filling under general anesthesia, so we're trying to get that taken care of at the Naval Hospital.

(P.S. He's fine now, as long as we keep him dosed on the same Tylenol/Motrin schedule as Sophia's hand required. His only complaint now is, "It feels weird where my tooth was." Well, yeah, duh.)

Wednesday, I was shopping at Wally World cooking classes in the wee-wee hours of the morning. So maybe I was a bit tired when I got back home at 0400 and started taking bags out to bring into the house.... I use canvas bags as much as possible, this trip being no exception, and have a number of drawstring ones. Well, I thought I had the canned-food bag right-side-up, but apparently I didn't, because as soon as I lifted it out, PLUNK-DUNK-PLUNK-PLUNK came out all the cans - plus a 68-oz bottle of olive oil - onto the toes of my right foot. I said a lot of bad four-letter words and ran into the house to check things over. Not unlike Sophia, there was blood, swelling, redness, and pain involved. I was pretty sure I broke between 1-3 of those toes.

(P.S. I still am, but since I can walk, and there's not a lot they do for broken toes other than confirm it and dummy-tape them, I've done nothing for it but take the occasional Tylenol. I'm beginning to think we should buy stock in that company, eh?)

Thursday, my husband came home from work acting funny. Not his usual self. That, combined with unusually high blood pressure (he's usually healthy as a horse, fit as a fiddle, you get picture), a horrible puking migraine that gave him residual headaches every day since, and a few other symptoms, had us driving back to the emergency room as soon as our Girl Scout meeting ended. A few tests later, we found out that the CT-scan showed several spots which indicated he'd possibly suffered a mini-stroke!

(P.S. !!!!!! Yes, I am super concerned. I want him to go to the neurologist, like, yesterday.)

Also Thursday, I was supposed to go to the Onco-Geneticist for counseling to see if they would do the breast cancer screening test on me, based on my family history of it. I mean, they're going to do it, but this was my intake appointment. I totally forgot about it, so I didn't go. Hopefully, I won't get a $50 missed appointment bill. Ugh.

Friday hasn't quite started yet, but things are already looking interesting: I'm seeing my prescribing shrinky-dink in the afternoon, and I have the following symptoms to share with him (and no, I'm not to copy my husband, lol; I think these are all/mostly medically-induced): sudden and severe occasional stuttering; muddled thinking and inability to do things I can normally do; the front of my tongue curling so that I talk funny, which I can't stop no matter how hard I try; more visual hallucinations; acting "drunk" according to my husband; and, tremors in my right hand. Awesome, right?

(P.S. I have to go camping again for Girl Scouts this weekend. I totally don't want to go. I'm tired. It's been a rough week. Think good thoughts for me out in the woods, will you, please?)

That's all I've got. Nothing Halloween-y, as we didn't Trick-or-Treat, or pass out candy, or decorate, or anything. This is not our usual custom, but the kids had 10 days (ten!!) to get their rooms clean, and they didn't do it, so they had it taken away. Le sigh.

Hope you all had a better week than we did, and here's hoping to a better one ahead for us!


Sunday Stealing: The WTF Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

1. One of my favorite TV shows recently changed the actors who played two characters. Have you ever been bothered by a TV show or movie series changing actors who play a character you love?

Yes, way back as a kid when I used to watch soaps, and also the mom ("Vivian") from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, lol... That's all I can think of. I don't like it, though!

2. A coworker recently shared a link to a blog listing the "five things you should know before dating a journalist." As a journalist, I can honestly say the writer was spot-on. What are some things people should know before spending time with you?

A. I'm bi-polar. B. I'm extremely emotional and sensitive, which don't necessarily have anything to do with A. C. I've suffered some serious losses in my life, and they still cause me pain. D. I'm fun and I'm smart, and while I love intellectual humor, I enjoy the potty humor, too. E. I say, "I'm sorry" way too much; get used to it because telling me to stop won't work.

3. What is something you often do without realizing that you're doing it?

Pick at things. Not necessarily on my own person, either. Drives Hubs crazy. He calls me a mama gorilla.

4. Who has the capacity to make you angrier than anyone else in your life, and what in particular does he or she do to make you so angry?

Me, myself and I, and it's almost always caused by a failure to properly plan ahead, whatever the trouble is.

5. If a fairy waved a magic wand and gave you the house of your dreams, where would it be and what features would it have?

It would be somewhere in the South Pacific, I think, and it would be enormous but only ONE level, with a humongous, fenced-in yard. There would be a bedroom for each of the kids, plus a huge master suite, and a guest room (or two). There would be a craft room/office space for me, and a garage and workroom for Hubs. The kitchen would be gigantic, with all state-of-the-art appliances and at least two ovens. And it would come with a full-time maid.

6. What’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree?

 I don't just believe - I know - that evolution is a fact.

7. I used to talk in my sleep. In fact, I could carry on a conversation with someone when I was fully asleep, and my mom used this fact when I was a teenager to find out if I did anything wrong and was hiding it from my parents. If you were talking your sleep tonight, what do you think you would say?

Ha. Hubby knows all my secrets, so I don't think I could get into too much trouble... Now if my dad was doing the questioning about some things from my teenaged years, I could spill a few surprises!

8. The fourth installment of the "Twilight" movie series ("Breaking Dawn Part I") will be released in theaters soon. Movie theaters started selling advance tickets for midnight showings months ago. Have you ever attended a midnight premiere showing of a movie?

I did back in college, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was!

9. On Tuesday, tigers, lions and bears were let loose in Zanesville, Ohio, by their owner before he committed suicide, leading to a hunt in which 49 of the animals, including 18 endangered Bengal tigers, were killed. How would you react if you saw "Caution exotic animals. Stay in your vehicle" being displayed on a road sign?

I'm nuts, so I'd probably go looking for them. Definitely NOT to kill them, though. That whole thing sucks. :(

10. If a company opened a theme park aimed at adults, what would you name one of the rides?

Oh my word, I have a dirty mind. You shouldn't ask me this question!! I'm just going to leave it at that.

11. Imagine you just moved onto Sesame Street. Which puppet would you want as your new roommate?

Maybe Big Bird. Or Snuffy. But definitely NOT Elmo. Ugh. (I think Oscar the Grouch is my roommate now, and not because of the grouchy aspect...)

12. Have you ever had a weird crush on a famous person that didn't make sense to you?

Hm, no? Can't say that I have.

13. If you get ten minutes to interview any celebrity of your choice, who would you like it to be?

Clapton, Eric! I would give a lot of things for 10 minutes with him!

14. You've just won the complete DVD collection of all the movies starring one actor or actress. Which actor/actress would you pick?

Either Parker Posey or Zooey Deschanel.They're cute, funny and quirky, and I like their work.

15. Actor George Clooney recently told People Magazine that he doesn't use Twitter "because I will drink in the evening and I don't want anything that I could possibly write at midnight to actually end my career." What is something you've said through social media and then regretted it?

Plenty!! I don't do well with message boards. LOL  I tend to open my fat trap and then instantly wish I could take it back. George is smart.

16. VH1 has re-introduced its hit show "Pop-Up Video," which gives behind-the-scenes facts for popular music videos. What musician would you be most interested in learning behind-the-scenes facts about?

Eh, I really don't care. It's interesting, and I liked that show back in the day, but I can't think of anyone I want all the skinny on.

17. If you stumbled across someone's personal written journal that was accidentally left in a public place, would you read any of the content?

Of course, duh.

18. What is the title of a self-help book that you'd never want to see on a store bookshelf?

How to Commit Suicide Easily and Painlessly... because I'd probably buy it.

19. Many media outlets have been asking this question a lot this week... Which Halloween costume do you think will be overdone this year?

I don't know. Since we don't watch TV, I have no idea what's going on in pop culture these days.

20. Should a marriage license have a renewal date or expiration date, like a driver’s license?

Hell no!! That should be for keeps. Unless it's my dad's, then yeah, totally.



Saturday 9: The Last DJ


Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

1. Who was your favorite DJ and what radio station did you listen to as a kid?
I listened to pop music then, and I still do now. 93Q was the station of the day when I was a kid. I can't remember any of the DJs' names, though. I do remember that Wayne Mahar was my favorite TV meteorologist, though. Does that count? I'm now friends with him on Facebook.
2. What has been the weirdest thing you have worn in public?
Probably my Mrs. Incredibles costume at Walt Disney World for Halloween '06, when I weighed in the mid-200 lb region. I looked awesomely funny, I'm sure. Nothing like the real Mrs I.
3. What was the best part of last weekend?
Uh, what did I do last weekend? My phone is syncing, so I can't look at the calendar. Oh yeah, we went to DC, and Maryland. I'd tell you what was super-fun, but it was part of a mystery shop, and I'm not allowed. The only thing that sucked was one of my shops got rejected, and hello, I am NOT used to that. Ugh.
4. What was the most effective punishment for you as a kid?
I had an abusive childhood. I didn't have "normal" punishments. I'm afraid I don't know. Although when my mother was alive, I remember she spanked us one time, and that was pretty devastating for me. Mostly, she would stand us in the corner, and the other sister, who wasn't in the corner, would come and poke fun at the one that was. (Mostly it was me in the corner and Stacey coming to tease me.)
5. Would you lie to your significant other to not hurt their feelings?
6. We're taking your order for breakfast. What would you like?
Diet Coke. Maybe a hard-boiled egg. Thanks, I'm good. (What would I like but can't actually eat? How about some pancakes, or a huge NY-city bagel with Philly cream cheese? Sounds good, thanks.)
7. Do you celebrate Halloween? If yes, do tell. If no, why not?
Sure we do. I don't see why not. It doesn't make a person evil. My favorite part is handing out the candy. We supposedly take turns, hubby going 'round the neighborhood with the Littles and me handing out the treats, and then switch the following year, but I always try to persuade him that it's my turn to hand out candy. I just love it, what can I say?
8. Do you hand out candy to the neighborhood kids?
Oh, snap, I done ruint my answer to this question.
9. What's the favorite age you've been, so far?
Right now. I'm happy I lived through 33, though. Years birth-thru-7½ were good, too.

Happy weekend!

Friday Fragments


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

So if you've been following my saga here, on Facebook, in real life, or via ESP, you know I've been dealing with the fear that the cervical cancer that led to my complete hysterectomy in 2008 (save one ovary) had returned. Well, I finally got in to see my GYN/oncologist yesterday, and the news was very good: there's no "Big C" in there, my "cuff" (what's left after they remove your lady bits) is well-healed, and I have a completely healthy, normal, uh, vah-jay-jay. So, yay! I'm celebrating today. How, you ask? By being happy. Smiling. Being content. And I'm going to practice what I preach to my children, by being "nice, kind, sweet and loving," to them and everyone else I may meet today. And hopefully, every day.

One last woot: Woot!

Tomorrow, I'm finally taking the Instructor's Course for the American Red Cross CPR/First Aid certification, so I can teach it to other Girl Scout volunteers and, if I want, whomever else may be interest. I've already gotten interest from the parents and teens in my homeschooling co-op, so maybe someday soon I'll be up in FRONT of the class demonstrating lifesaving techniques to my friends, instead of being the nervous fake-lifesaver on the floor, scared my dummy is going to expire before I can save it. Hee. Anyway, I'm excited. I just feel like this is one more step in the "growing" course I set myself on last year, to step out of my comfort zone and be more in charge of my life, instead of taking the back seat and letting others drive me around. If that makes any sense to you and not just me, good. It's early, yet.

The one thing I'm a little nervous about is, I have to give a brief presentation on the topic of my choice to my fellow classmates, and the only thing that's coming to me to talk about is what I know well: Loss. Grief. Bereavement. So... I'm not sure that will be the most fun topic for them to hear about, but I think I'm gonna stick with it.

After the course is over, the busyness continues. My family and I are headed for a full-on mystery shopping weekend in DC, complete with dinner at a fun restaurant, a hotel stay in Rockville, Maryland, breakfast at the hotel, lunch in the District at a well-known, huge restaurant, and then home again to run around doing about a half-dozen fast food mystery shops for dinner. I've been cutting way back on the mystery shopping now that school, co-op, and Scouting are back in full swing, but this will be fun. I like to travel, and I need to do it frequently or I get depressed and feel like I'm stagnating. Plus, I love DC. I just wish we had more time to go around and "do," y'know?

Oh! Sophia's saga continues as well. She's my 6yo daughter, who has struggled with breathing issues over the past year or so. She has had daytime issues as well as, we discovered through a sleep study ordered by the pulmonologist at Children's, central sleep apnea. After a recent MRI, we went back to the neurologist yesterday to discover that there are absolutely no anatomical abnormalities within her brain, which is great news. And her labs were all perfect. So, we don't have a concreet reason why she has the apnea, but it's minor enough that I don't have to fret and watch her sleep every night. We just have to watch and see. It's still a little nerve-wracking, but the Neuro. assured me that I can relax and not worry, and I believe her. Now, we go back to Pulm. with these results and see what they want to do next.

This afternoon, we have a field trip to the pumpkin patch with members of our homeschooling co-op, and I can't wait. Hayrides are one of my favorite things ever. I could go on one every single day. I don't know what it is about sitting on a bale of scratchy hay, being pulled around by a tractor going 3 mph, but I love it. The kids do, as well, but they're more excited about the petting zoo and pumpkin picking process (say that 5x fast) to follow. Can't wait!

My JAFRA business continues to grow and go well, although now everyone is getting busy, so I'm trying to find new and creative ways to meet people and get them to sit down with me. We went to the mall the other day, and I handed out candy bags with my card and an offer for a free pampering session in them. So far, no response from that, but if I can just get one, just one, then it will be worth it. Meanwhile, I'll be doing a few holiday craft shows/bazaars with my product front and center, so hopefully that will be a great way to get the JAFRA name out there and some clients for me!

Well, I guess I'm out of fragments for the time being, so here's to hoping a great weekend is ahead for all of you! Cheers!


Jack In 100 Years


We stopped into the drugstore the other day, and when Jack walked next to this old-guy Halloween statue thingy, I had myself a good laugh. "Jack!" I called. "Come stand next to this thing!" He's good-natured about his stature (for the couple of you who are new here, my 8-year-old diminutive son is growth hormone deficient and takes a nightly shot of HGH, but he's still the size of an average 3-4 year old), so he played into the joke willingly. He thought it was pretty funny himself, actually!

Just thought I'd share.


On The Catwalk

(Remember, you can always click on pictures to embiggerate.)

Last night, Chloë said she wanted to be a model for Halloween, and she asked me if she could wear make-up for it. I said sure, why not? and asked her if she wanted to do a trial run make-up session. This is a girly-girl who LOVES all things cosmetic, so she about leapt out of her seat at the chance.

Here are some before-and-afters, again with and without flash:



Her first reaction, upon seeing her image in the mirror, was, "Oh my gosh, I am SO HOT." I had to agree. But seriously, she's only nine. Eek! We are in for some trouble.

She then pranced about the living room for the next hour, totally in model mode.

Now we have to figure out what she's going to wear. I guess a trip to the thrift shop is in order!


Trick Or Treat!

I'm still not over the tutu-stealing debacle. Ugh! Pissed, I am.

But anyway. Halloween!

The kids' day was kind of lame, unfortunately. They still do not feel too well at all. We all, except Rob, slept downstairs on the couches together, and I slept 'til nearly noon. They were up and about by then, but certainly not what I would call chipper.

Soon after, Rob came down, and sent the three of them upstairs to find the two pairs of missing glasses. Instead, Jack and Chloë settled in for long naps. I mean, they slept an age.

Sophie came down and visited with me for a while until I had her rouse her daddy, who was sleepy most of the day, to send him out for my $1 Boston Market meal that I never got yesterday. I was craving it like mad, and I figured after running his food to him yesterday in the midst of my busyness, he could run out and do this for me.

Only I didn't warn him that everyone and their brother would be holding the same coupon, and the line would be look, as he put it, "like a line for medical marijuana in Humboldt County."

He was kind of miffed. I tried to feel bad, really I did, but mostly I was relieved that it wasn't me! (Again. I did it yesterday but, as I mentioned, ended up having to leave two cars before my turn at the menu board, having forgotten my wallet!)

I spent my day making tutus. I'm on a kick, and since I've sold about 10 in the last day or two, I need to replenish my Etsy stock. I'll show those in a bit.

Shortly before they returned home, the Bigs woke up from their naps. Jack went straight to the couch and lay down under the blanket, which is so uncharacteristic of him. He didn't want anything, no food, no drink, just TV.

None of them have eaten all week. Chloë came down in just her underwear, and the sight of her made me gasp out loud. She was positively skeletal. She's very thin to begin with, but now she's skin and bones, much too thin for an 8yo little girl. I think she probably lost about three of her 38-or-39 pounds. :(

I did get her to eat a big bowl of cereal, and Jack finally munched on a bunch of carrots, so I was relieved to see them eating something at last! RELIEVED.

At almost 1800, I pulled out my big bowl of candy in anticipation for all the kiddies I was going to receive. Only, now Jack was refusing to go out, just not feeling up to it, and Sophia had fallen asleep. Chloë was raring to go. I knew Soap would be mad if she missed out on trick-or-treating, so after several attempts, we got her awake and in her costume. She was NOT in the mood, but she was determined to get out there.

Waking up the father was a different matter. It took me 20 minutes to get his arse up. I took pictures of the girls in their costumes while I waited:


First, two girls came up for candy just as I was about to take the first picture, and she ducked shyly behind her sister to get away from them! This is very unlike her. Normally, she is outgoing, all smiles, and gregarious. Clearly, she was tired and not feeling well.


This picture cracks me up. I love the look on Sophia's face. She was NOT having it! One more try:


Hee! Nope, not gonna happen this time. I gave up and let them go back inside to wait for Daddy.


But wait! Who's this? Little Jacky decided he wanted to go out after all, at the very last minute! Sophie, not surprisingly, refused to be in any more pictures, so this is all I have this year. Oh well!

(And none of you poopers answered my poll, so I decided to go back to my original idea and have the photo at Picture People tomorrow just be of Rob in uniform. So there!)

They did not last long. First, they came back after about 15 minutes to bring Sophie home, because she was scared of the dark. She shucked off her clothes and dug into her slightly-filled candy bucket.

Then, about 20 minutes later, Jack called it quits. As he was coming in the door, Chloë decided her feet were hurting her, and she gave up, too! And that was it.

But it wasn't a great year for TorT'ers either, and I ended up having waaaaaay too much candy. I was giving out 2 and 3 pieces at a time from the very beginning, and we still have about 1/3 of the bucket full! So my kids will have their candy anyway, oh, well. At least I buy good stuff and not crappy candy. ;)

Confession: I ate a Butterfinger. I LOVE Butterfingers. Love them. And I couldn't resist. I didn't dump, but I felt a little of the "carb coma" afterward. However, I did learn that chocolate just doesn't taste that good to me anymore. It's sickeningly sweet and cloying, and I don't care if I never eat it again.  So very well, then. Back to my sugar-free life!

And here's what I've been working on, some of which will be in the shop in a little while:


Purple and yellow tutu, ordered by my friend K. for her daughter


Pink and green tutu, ordered by K. for her other daughter


Hair clips for Christmas stocking stuffers, ordered by my friend C. for 2 of her 3 daughters (she also has 3 sons!)


Butter yellow tutu, for Etsy


White-wine tutu, for Etsy


Pink and black tutu, for Etsy

So I have at least one more tutu in me tonight, but I feel my knitting mojo kicking back into high gear, so I'll get back into that either tomorrow or Monday. Just in time, too - Luke is healthy and growing now, and I NEED to finish his set!! Bad knitter friend, I am.

Oh, one more picture of a woolly worm Rob found on his way outside tonight (it's a crappy picture, because I haven't figured out my new camera enough to take anything BUT crappy pictures, it seems like):


That sucker was HUGE! A real fatty. He needed some caterpillar gastric bypass.

All right, off to tootie-tute-tute. See yas!


P.S. The Boston Market meal? SO worth the wait. Agreed Rob, since I could only take about three bites before Pouch called it quits, darn that rascal.

Damn That Man

...Because it's easier to blame my day falling apart at the seams on him than it is to accept it myself, I'm going to go with that. Yeah.


Yesterday ended, and today began, here. Pretty much. Picture it: Living room, 0230, I'm lying there wide awake after having the fever-sleep off and on during the day, even having taken a sleeping pilly. Nada. Nope. Not happening.

So I decided to get up and monkey around in the office. I've been selling lots of tutus at the clearance price lately, which makes me want to make up more with the tulle I've got, and sell those, too. I just want to be rid of it all and make room for ... something else. Or nothing. Nothing would be great. Empty space, I dream of you.

And then, Sophie comes trotting down the stairs, wide awake, telling me that she can't sleep. Only, no sooner did I collect my sweet babe into my arms, than she fell asleep in them. Look at her. She is so big... but she is still little. I love that paradox of childhood. Big! But little!

I set her on the couch with her father and went back to the office to fiddle. First I made this tutu:


in charcoal and ivory, for no one in particular. Just for Etsy. I had many-hundred blogs to read in my Google Reader, and e-mails to answer, and, well, Farmville to keep me company while I made the tootie-toots. Because 0400 didn't seem late enough to stay up, I stayed right there and worked on this one:


in eggplant and ivory. Every time I finish a new tutu, I think, "Ohh, that's so pretty!" I think they all are. I wish I could wear one. I wish my girls wore theirs every single day. They used to. I think they got overloaded with tutus, though. But I digress.

So by the time I finished the second tutu and read about, oh, 400 blogs (mostly skimmed and deleted; I delete the fun and fluff ones like design and celebrity blogs when I have too many to read, but I almost always read all the parenting and knitting ones), it was well nigh on 0700. Time to get the kids up for school.

Oh yes, school. Remember that place? They didn't want to go back. Especially Jack. He pitched a royal fit. And neither of the Bigs knew where their glasses were. And Rob didn't want to get up and help get them ready, and I was beyond tired by that point, and and and. But somehow, we got them off in one piece.

Rob went upstairs to nap, while I read through some of my favorite blogs for deals and freebies and such. Today was supposed to be my day for sanitizing the house, but instead, I found rather a lot of good deals to be used at LH Mall. And I decided to take a fun day, a day for me, free of the house, free of the flu, free of work, free of the kids, free of the dreaded cleaning.

And why not? It would all still be there when I got back.

Only, it didn't quite work out that way.

I was hoping to be at the mall by 10:00 and home well before the bus came after 1500.  Instead, my husband woke up while I was showering, and overcome by the forces of attraction of my major loose saggy skin naked body, he sequestered me to the room for the next, um, two hours. Yes, two hours. Good times, good times. I didn't complain much.

TMI? Whatever. You know I don't shy away. 

I will tell you this, too: he had a fever, so his balls were hanging so low, I told him he should just go as a pair of nuts for Halloween. He was practically tripping over them! Wait, maybe that was TMI, even for moi.


My BFF Lisa, from New York, wanted a picture of my hair from all sides.  I semi-styled it and had Rob take pictures. They aren't great, but here's a current one of me. He insists I have a major wonky eye. Do I? If so, then my apologies to Dr. Michael Bidus (of hysterectomy fame last year) for mentioning his! (And eek, I look more like my dad all the time. Scary.)

So. By the time I got downstairs, it was noon o'clock, and the preschool was calling me to say Sophie had a sore throat and could I please come get her?

Here we go. Day over.

I kind of figured they wouldn't last, which is why I wanted to get to the mall so early. Damn that man!

Of course, I rushed right out to pick her up. She had a miserable look on her face when I entered, but as soon as she saw me, Sophia brightened right up and smiled the biggest grin ever. She jumped out of her chair, where she was NOT eating birthday cake, and ran over to me. "Mommy! Mommy!"

We collected all her belongings, and then, naturally, I though it would be a good idea to head over to the main school and check on Jack and Chloë. I didn't want to get all the way home and then get a call to come back for them!

Mrs. B., Chloë's language arts teacher, was right at the front of the school when we came in, so I got her attention . She took me into the cafeteria to find Chloë, but Curls wasn't there. Where could she be?

The nurse. She was already at the nurse. Good thing I arrived to swoop in and take her home!

Jack was brought in, but he insisted he was fine and wanted to stay at school. Major shocker there!! I said good-bye and then left with the girls.

The girls, at this time, both seemed more or less fine, just a little disappointed to be missing their Halloween parties. I had no clue they were really still quite sick. I am, apparently, pretty stupid. Damn me! It's the FLU, for heaven's sake, and they are little children. I should have given them at least a week. But I didn't. Sigh.

We went home to, I don't know, get my coupons for the mall and drop off their school stuff. We kissed Daddy good-bye, as he was headed to work, and left for the mall venture.


Our first stop - which, as warm as the day was, probably should have been our last - was to Edible Arrangements to pick up our free six-piece chocolate-dipped fruit sampler. Nice, huh? Did you see that promotion for becoming a fan on Facebook? Well, you know I had to jump all over that. Nice freebie! Too bad I couldn't partake.

While there, I got a phone call about doing a certain kids' shoe store mystery shop, at THAT mall. I didn't want to take it, but I can never say no, and heck, I was already there anyway. So I accepted it.

And then in the parking lot to drive over to the main mall parking lot, I got another call from someone who had found me via Google, needing a tutu TONIGHT. An all-black, ladies' size small, black tutu. I didn't have any black tulle, but she sounded absolutely desperate, so I told her I'd find some and make her the tutu tonight. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I only quoted her $25 for it, too, when in reality, I would have charged her more like $40-50 i f I wasn't clearancing! Dodo-head, I am!

Anyway, so the race was on to get our mall stuff done and then get back to get Jack. I was in a mad hurry. The girls were dawdling. I was pulling them along. That was the scene.


We went to Old Navy in the mall first. All Halloween items were marked down to $2 for today and tomorrow (Halloween) only, plus I had a coupon for 15% off that!   I managed to score these 14 things for less than $25. All of which we can use either now or this time next year. It won't be wasted. And hey, $2. Can't beat it. (Well, you can. $1, say, or 50¢. But just you hush.)


We hurried to the other side of the mall, where I had a coupon at Vickie's Secret for a free lip gloss with a bra fitting. Um, the girl wanted to measure me right in the middle of the store, over my shirt. I gave her a weird look, so she pulled me into the dressing room hallway and still measured me over my shirt. After my last professional fitting, which took about an hour, at the boob store, this was bewildering to me! (Before, I was a 38G. Now she measured me at "either" a 38DD or a 40D - my choice. Uh, I think I'll go back to the boob store.) All I really wanted was the free lippy anyway, and I got it!

Next up, I had a coupon for a free anti-bacterial thingy at Bath & Body Works with any purchase, and it was right next store. I scooped up some of the 5/$5 hand sanitizers - which turned out to be the free gift anyway - and was heading toward the cash wrap when we ran into none other but Linda!

After the initial recognition, she said to me, "Hey, you don't look sick." This was after telling me yesterday that, on the phone, I didn't sound sick. It kind of annoyed me. I don't care how I look, I don't care how I sound... I'm telling you how I feel, and how I feel is I HAVE THE FLU. Plus I was in a huge hurry to get back and get Jack, so I was maybe a little pissy with her. Or maybe not, I really don't know, but I'm kind of irritated with her about something else entirely and don't care right now! The girls saved me by saying they both had to go potty RIGHT NOW, so I threw back all the products and ran them down the mall to the bathroom.

And then I remembered that shoe store shop I'd taken on (which I still haven't reported, oops). We quickly did the purchase portion of the shop and walked out with a new pair of boots, "for Sophia."

Next door, I had a coupon for The Picture People, for a free session and 8x10. My very original plan was to bring Rob in there this morning, in his uniform, to take the picture his mom has been asking for for at least two weeks now. But he STILL didn't have the uniform ready. Then we, uh, wasted those two hours, and he didn't have time after that. So I decided to see if they had an appointment left for later in the day, to get the kids done in their Halloween costumes. They had one. I made it. We left.

It was time to go get Jack. We tore through the mall, and when we were almost at the van, I realized Sophie didn't have "her" boots with her, which she had begged to carry!!! Feck! Thankfully, I had the phone number to the portrait place on their coupon, and they had the boots and would hold them for me. Phew.

Traffic was major by that point, and I was pleading-praying to be home in time for the bus. It was already 10 minutes later than I'd wanted to leave... but we made it! Three minutes ahead of schedule, AND the bus was a few minutes late.

Jack, who had been quite the perky boy in school, burst into tears the minute he saw me. He was warm. He felt crappy. I could see it in him. I carried him all the way home, but sadly, we couldn't stay there. I'd promised to get that tutu done, I'd made the picture appointment, and we'd left the boots behind where I needed to back and return them anyway.  AND I'd promised to bring Rob dinner, meaning he'd left home without any food. Sheee-it.

So we went back out. At first, we stopped at Boston Market, where I had that coupon for a $1 chicken meal. It sounded good to me, and would feed all four of us! We waited in the long drive-thru line for half an hour, with all the kids coughing and finally, sleeping, in the back, before it dawned on me that my wallet was still at home in the Old Navy bag. Gah!


So I had no choice but to go all the way back home and get it. Forget Boston Market, that would have to wait. We went to A.C. Moore, where I knew they carried the tulle. In black. I'd gotten it there before. They turned out to only have ONE small roll of it, whereas I'd need at least four to make the tutu.  I picked up some other foofoo things for finishing tutus (it's a sickness, I tell you) while the nice lady called the other store to see if they had some. They didn't.

We drove to Michaels. They didn't have it.

Joann's didn't have it.

Party City didn't have it.

Hancock's didn't have it either, but they had bolts of black tulle fabric! I'll take it!! I knew it was going to be a lot more work for me, but I'd promised the girl I'd make it, and I didn't want to let her down.  We bought the whole bolt, all 8 yards at $1.99/yd, since I had no clue how many it would take in that form, and I could always use the rest in another tutu.

Then we headed straight back to the mall. I knew the pictures weren't happening, since they were all pretty cough-y and cranky and cry-y by that point, but I at least had to get the boots and finish the shop. So I rescheduled the picture appointment for Sunday afternoon. Hopefully they'll all be well enough by then to do it cheerfully.

Quick poll: Should I still do the Halloween picture on Sunday? Or just a casual one of them? Or maybe one of all five of us? Please tell me what to do; I can't decide.


B&BW was right there, so we went back to use that coupon. This time, I found a $1 bottle of lotion, and bought that to get my free hand sani. It smells GOOD, too! (The sani; not so found of the lotion, but it's okay.)


I had one last coupon, for $1 tarts and votives at Yankee Candle. I burn those tarts like a crazy woman, and they are normally $2 - and the kids had temporarily rallied - so we ran in and grabbed 10 of the three newest scents. I'd thought I wouldn't really like the Autumn Wreath one, but it turned out to be my favorite of the fall scents. It smells amazing!! I can't wait to burn it.

Finally, I grabbed my cantankerous crew and headed home. They were so relieved. Poor, poor babies.

They lay in the living room, sipping water, while I worked hard and fast on the black tutu for this evening. It took forever to cut all that tulle up into the proper-sized strips and then cut those strips into the lengths I needed. It was tedious, and this was the one tutu I didn't enjoy making. 


But I finished! At 2000 hrs, it was complete. I called the girl to let her know she could come get it.

No answer.

I left a voicemail.

At 2030, I called again. No answer.

At 2100, I called again. No answer.

I gave up after that. It's now 0030. I am seriously, seriously pissed. If she stands me up after all we went through to make this tutu for her - for so cheap!!! - I am going to hunt her down and beat her ass. (Never you mind that I'm a total wuss. I will do it.)

By this point, Jack was dead asleep on the couch, and the girls were pretty chill. Rob had talked me into getting not only HIS food, but food for his two night-duty crew members, too. Something about gratitude and loyalty, yadda yadda.(He's the boss, you know.) I had just gotten a MyPoints offer for Dominos pizza & subs, so I jumped on that. He didn't want the Bostom Market thing, so that'll have to keep 'til tomorrow. 


The food arrived, and I roused everyone to go out to the base. They were all sound asleep in the car when we got there. Rob came out and got all the food - including the chocolate fruit I brought along - and that was it. Gone in a flash. I felt a little underappreciated!

So now we're home, and that's that. The black tutu is still here, and I'm seething about it. But I had a fun day of "treats," and a miserable day of being a shitty mother to my kids.

Tomorrow, they are NOT going to soccer! Their whole job this weekend is to rest and get much better before attempting to trick-or-treat or go back to school.

Oh, and find those fricking glasses.


P.S. Sorry for the length. I never, ever start out intending it to be so long!


As in, quick. For me. We shall see...

I've jumped back into the grind at work.  The Z-pack has really kicked the pneumonia/sinusitis/pharyngitis/bronchitis' ass, and I'm feeling pretty good. Except for having to run to the bathroom every so often to hack up a lung, that is.

And three things have happened in the last two days at work that have me feeling pretty good about myself:

  1. A sweet old man, after telling me that he was doing "so-so," told me that if he was a "cute young chick" like me, he'd be doing fantastic. Did someone say "cute"?
  2. A much younger man, maybe five years older than Rob (so early 40s), told me today that I had a very nice smile.
  3. A much younger man, maybe my age, maybe younger, and sexy as hell, winked at me from three or four registers away. Take that as you will, but Rob's interpretation was, "Hey, you're a cute girl!"

So apparently, losing 140 pounds done wonders not only for my outward appearance but inner self-esteem. I'm liking things right now. I'm liking them very much.

When work is slow, and it often is, we are supposed to stand at the end of the check-out lane and wait for customers, to invite them in. Sometimes, 20 minutes will go by in the early mornings, with no takers. So I have lots of time to daydream. Thinking about my weight loss, and having talked to one of my managers about my surgery, I imagined a conversation wherein she asked me how I'd gotten so fat in the first place. And I'd give her the several reasons/excuses/explanations, not the least of which is that I really ate my way through my depression for the years following Robby's death. And that started me thinking about the depression and the suicide attempts. There were many. At least six, I think. And the kids remember the last one, although they do not know that that is what was going on. They bring it up from time to time, and it pains me. So then I was thinking about how, despite being broke as a joke, happy I am in my "new" body, how good I'm feeling (thanks in no small part to my bipolar diagnosis and nightly meds cocktail) mentally, and how awful, just how awful, it would have been if I had been successful.

How much I love those kids. How much they need me. How much I need them. How I would have completely devastated them, their lives, their futures...

So I'm grateful, very, very grateful, to have failed at that singular aim. I wanted so badly to take Robby's place. I was trying to die for the one I lost instead of living for the three I still had. I'm so thankful to have stepped out of that cloud and come back, if you will. I'm a lucky girl, in so many ways.

So much for this being a quick one.

So Rob is working nights now - did I mention that? He started last night - and it completely sucks. I was not cut out to be a single parent; I have said that before. I like sharing the duties, having someone to complain to and commiserate with about the hard parenting stuff, and you know, sharing the good, fun times, too. But mostly I miss having someone to split up the chauffering duties with!

Today, as soon as the kids got home from school, I had Chloë change out of her school clothes and into her dance leotard and pants. We headed back to HT (my work) to:

  1. Show my pre-surgery picture to my manager, C, whose jaw completely dropped,
  2. Buy the Pink Ribbon 99¢ cookies (which had been discounted 75% and which were apparently pretty nasty) for the kids' after-school snack,
  3. Buy Tic-Tacs and get a dollar back, for Tooth Fairy duties tonight (yes, she struck again), and
  4. Talk to same manager, C, about changing my availability, now that Rob is working nights.

That was a quick in-and-out, during which each of the kids acquired a free helium balloon. Two of them, the younger pair, let theirs go as soon as we walked out of the store. Scoundrels!

We headed straight over to dance class then. Chloë went in to dance, and Jack came up front with me to do his homework. From his homework folder, I pulled out his School PIctures and had the horrified-yet-amused reaction to this awful pose:

School Pictures

Uh.Muh.Guh. Is that awful, or what? I showed it to Jack, and he burst out laughing! I was amused at his reaction, but geez.... it's terrible! (And look how yellow his teeth look! They really are not that yellow IRL). Since I never took his 6-year pictures at Sears, I was just going to let his end-of-kinder pix and beg-of-1st pix suffice, but, holy cow. I think I will keep some of these just because Jack thinks they're so hysterical, though!

Chloë's is much nicer:

School Pictures1

I like it, although Rob absolutely detests that dress, and her face looks much rounder here than IRL. I can see Robby in her when I look at this picture.

So. Homework progressed, and he did pretty well. He farted majorly stinky farts the whole time and kept cracking up at himself. Ugh. Such a boy!! He couldn't decide what he was prouder of, smelling like shit or that awful photograph!

He still does NOT know how to write the numbers from about 11+, so I am constantly making him write them and then tell me what they are. It's just not sinking in and is becoming very frustrating for both of us. I'll have to come up with a much funner way to do it.

Anyway, dance ended, and we went directly to IH*P for dinner, for a shop. That went pretty well, although they seat all parties with kids in the same section, and some of the rowdier kids in the bunch got mine going, which annoyed me. My kids KNOW how to behave in a restaurant, but when they are hyped up, it all goes to pot. Guess I know why they seat them all together in the back!

There was a very nice family seated right behind ours, and there was a lot of cross-chat between our two families. So it was with no hesitation half-way through our meal that I got up, tapped the other mother on the shoulder and whispered, "Can you please keep an eye on my kids? I have to go throw up!" yeah, I'm still doing a lot of that. She was more than willing to help, so I went off to do that, and when I came back, after questioning me about my okay-ness, she informed me that they basically shared their whole lives in five minutes. Mostly about school, phew! At least no one blew our cover.

Back at home, I suddenly remembered the massive day I have tomorrow. I'll tell you about it now, just because I'm doubtful I'll have time to blog much about it after the fact:

  1. To my PCP for my PAP, the first one since my hysterectomy, to make sure the bad guys haven't returned. (I think I will absolutely scream if anything comes back abnormal again. Cross your fingers! Or your labia!)
  2. To Newport News for my 9-month post-surgery check-up, which will take an hour or so each way to drive, 15-30 minutes in the waiting room, and 5 minutes, max, with the doctor
  3. To the bank to finally deposit the remaining Brownie troop dues
  4. To the post office to mail three tutus I just made tonight after Etsy orders came in and re-mail Jack's 2T wardrobe (which was returned because I used an alcohol box the first time, wasting $12. Bah!)
  5. Home to bake something, anything, for
  6. Collect the kids and take them to Troop Leader's house for Juliet Gordon Lowe's birthday party (and bring my entire XXXXXXXXXXL wardrobe to M to try on later)
  7. Leave early to go to Chloë's soccer practice (which we missed on Tuesday b/c I felt like utter doodyballs)
  8. Leave early to go to Sophie's soccer practice
  9. Leave early to go to Jack's den meeting (or is it a pack meeting? I forget now, it's almost 2 AM), where they are NOT to wear class-A uniforms but instead must come in costume and bring their pumpkins from the pumpkin patch visit a couple weekends ago.

So. After we got home from dinner, Chloë started her homework while Jack, Sophia and I carved their pumpkins. I made them rip out the innards - which they hated and bellyached about to no end - before I would carve them. They did a half-ass job, though, so I found myself arm-deep in gourd guts anyway. I am a crappy jack-o'-lantern maker. Observe:


It didn't matter, though, because they were both thrilled with the results and said they were exactly what they wanted. Great! Who could ask for anything more? (Sophia went to the Farmer's Market with her preschool class last week, and they all got a pumpkin there. Chloë doesn't have one yet.)

After the pumpkins, they had a quick dessert, and the littles went to bed. Chloë and I finished her homework and worked on getting the soccer gear ready for tomorrow's tour-de-Virgina Beach, and had a conversation that left me in tears. She was telling me about a classroom assignment today, wherein they had to choose a word to describe themselves, starting with each letter in their first names. She chose caring for the "C" and loving for the "L" and I forget what for the "E," not able to think of anything for the "H" or "O."

I said, "What about 'happy'?" To which she broke my heart by replying, "But I'm not happy. I'm mad. All the time."

Oh, my God. I knew she was stressed out, but I did not think she was NOT happy. I don't care if my kids are cute. I don't care if they're smart. I don't care about any of that, as long as they are happy. Above all, I want my kids to be happy kids. My heart broke when she said that, it really did.

She came over to me, and we had a very long conversation about it, a heart-to-heart. There were lots of details, but basically it seems that the crux of the matter is that she doesn't like Sophia, wants to be an only child, and wants her own room back. When she said she didn't like Sophia, I bawled. Why does that hurt so much? I know it's normal. I know it is. But I'm pretty darn fond of the kid, and I want her older sister to be, too. Pain.

I told her I'd talk to Daddy about putting her back in her own room, and we'd go from there. I hope that solves things. She really is stressed out. Mommy yelling, Daddy yelling, problems with friends, problems with school/schoolwork/tests/the gifted class, etc., don't seem to be the matter. I worry about Jack and Sophia sharing a room, but I care much more about Chloë's mental health than I do about more destruction of physical property.

Phew. Heavy stuff.

On a lighter note, no sooner did Chloë go up to bed than she came running back down to tell me, "Jack climbed up on the dresser and then peed a fountain out into the room!"

Good golly, where is my husband when I need him??!!!?!

S'late. I'm out.


Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Oh, woe is me!!

I thought we were done with all the kids' hair-cutting incidents. I thought Sophia's pretty little blond hair was finally growing long and was going to stay that way.

I was wrong.

I had to cut out a second knot from her hair this morning. I did yesterday, too. I thought I hid well where I put the scissors afterward, but she found them, oh, yes she did.

Here's what happened:

I'm still sick, so rather than doing my running around and laundry and everything, I decided to sit on the reclining couch with the Littles and read stories for Jack's reading challenge until I lost my voice.

We were in the middle of the sixth book, the unbearable Disney's Prince and the Pauper, when I must have dozed. I remember both of them leaning against my chest, under their respective blankets, and I must have just read myself to sleep.

Next thing I know, it's about a half-hour later, and my phone is ringing, waking me up. I could hear the Nons but not see them. After my phone call, I called them to me. Jack danced in and onto  my lap, but Sophie was hiding behind the other couch. Finally I insisted she come over, and when she did, I gasped.

She. Had. No. Hair.

Oh, there were a few long strands here and there, but for the most part, her pretty locks were completely butchered. I wanted to cry! I still want to cry. Why? Oh Why, oh why, oh why, did she do this again?!!!

I didn't know what to do right at that moment other than send her to her room. It was time for a nap anyway, so I sent Jack, too. And then, still in shock, I called their father and reported the dirty deed.

I feel so bad. She looks so pretty with hair and so... well, right now things aren't looking so good.

I wandered into the office and found this scene atop my purse:


All my girl's hair, in clumps, hacked off onto the floor. Oh, I wanted to sob. Listen, if your kid hasn't done this to herself and you're thinking I'm over-reacting, then you just don't know until you have been there. Three and a half years, it has taken to grow those pretty yellow strands, and now they are gone.

Since they were now down for naps, and I felt like crap and had not much better to do, I chose to toss all the hair in the garbage and go lie back down, myself. Chloë came home, and I sent her upstairs to rest before the big night of trick-or-treating.

When everyone started moving around a couple of hours later, I called them downstairs to get ready to dress up, and I got the scissors. There was nothing to do but hack off the rest of the long bits of Sophie's hair. My one silly consoling thought was that she wouldn't have odd bits of hair sticking out of her costume hood like Chloë would.

Daddy came home while they were dressing, so after he helped everyone finish, I took some quick pictures of my sillykins. You can see they were way too excited for trick-or-treating to calm down and take any decent pictures!




And then we went outside for more of the same goofiness:




No, we never did get around to carving those pumpkins. Ach.

So off they went, with their dad, while I stayed behind to hand out candy and notify the winners of my give-aways. (Yay, fun! I haven't won any yet... rats.)

Oh, and the hair? Sophie fetched my camera after dinner so I could show you how she butchered herself:


Is that not awful?! Especially the look on her face, hehe. I made her smile for the next one so she wouldn't look like I'd just beaten her:


She insisted I take a picture of the back, too:



Staceeeeeeeeeeeey! Help?!


Freezing Their Assets

I had been feeling a lot better last night, but then I went to sleep and woke up miserable for today. And now I'm pretty sure I have pink-eye, too. So I'm in a bit of a craptastic mood. Plus I napped this evening and haven't quite woken up yet.

I lazed, miserably, around for much of the day, but then I had to get my bootay in gear around 1430 for another Fall Product pick-up. Sophia accompanied me out to the car to give Miss Debbie her items, and as usual she was quite the comedienne. At the end of our short visit, she bent down and stroked Debbie's tires, breathing deeply and sighing, "Ohhh, you have such beyooootiful wheeeeeels!" We broke up in hysterics and said something at the same time about making her day!

My house is a dismal mess right now, because I don't have the voice to bark orders to clean it up, nor do I have the energy to do it myself. I hate hate HATE a messy house, and we are constantly falling into such disarray. Barbara was supposed to come, but I canceled her on Monday because of The Sick.  Now I wish I hadn't.

Anyway. We went to dance class, and we actually arrived early for once. It must have been serendipity, because normally I get there just in time to scoop Sophia out of her seat and into the studio, and then I go back out to the car to wait. Today, though, we had five minutes, and I brought her in to sit and wait (with the Bigs in the car right outside). The topic at hand? Tutus! One mother was explaining her daughter's costume (I, apparently, was the only one who didn't get the memo that she was supposed to wear hers), saying it was supposed to be a ladybug, but she couldn't make the tutu. She'd tried and tried the night before, but it was a mess.

Ahem. I spoke up.

"I can make a tutu for you."

All eyes on me.

I smiled shyly and explained that I made them to sell and could get her one done for tonight. Red? Black? Oh, I have one already made in black and red, should I go get it? Yes? Okay! Be back in a jiffy!

So we rush-rush-rushed all the way home and back, a 35-min trip that must have left her wondering where the heck we lived. But when I produced the tutu, everyone gathered around to admire it. There was oohing, there was ahhing, there were compliments flowing, and the other mom, she was excited to be getting it for only $15.  Hell, I was excited  to be getting another $15 sale! And they asked me for my business cards, several of which I had had the sense to grab when I picked up the tutu, so I'm hoping for more sales! (It's the Paso Doble tutu in my Etsy shop, if you're interested in having a look.)

So that was a fun little part of my day. I was well pleased.

I read my book while Chloë danced, and the littles took turns singing made-up songs at the tops of their lungs in the back. I really enjoy it when they do that!

Rob was there when we got home, so I had him hurriedly help me (before the sun went down) get everyone into their costumes for a quick little photo shoot at the lake. I wanted to include a Halloween picture in with Chloë's 7-year portraits, which I have to mail, so off we went.

Brrrrr, it was freezing! Absolutely COLD. And all of their costumes, well, save Sophie's will require extra warming layers that will probably detract from the outfits. Oh, well. I didn't get the best pictures, because I had to be fast. I was losing them by the second.


Group shot - they were shouting, "Halloweeeeeeeeen! Trick or treeeeaaaat! Candy corn!"


Chloë the Toucan


Sophie the penguin


Jack as Diego, The Animal Rescuer!

We drove the P.O. to ship off a couple of sold tutus and my eBay auctions, and then, back at home, the kids started their homework while Sophia and I snuggled down on the couch. That's the last thing I remember...

And I think now I'm going to go find the remote so I can watch the Obama thing from tonight off the DVR while working on pictures.


Denial Is A River In Egypt

For a while now, I've been pushing back the idea that I'm getting sick. It's been SO long since any of us have had the slightest cold, and it's been wonderful. I noticed myself loading up on the OJ lately, but I refused to feel sick.

Then Jack started his cough, and  he woke up croupy one morning. Thankfully, he didn't miss any school yet. Last night, Chloë came downstairs at 0300, croupy and crying. Great, I thought. It begins. And then today, it hit me. Finally, there was no denying it any longer. I am sick. I feel like poo. My body hurts.

Too bad, so sad, though. Rob had to stand watch all day today {damn Navy}, and these kids just don't quit!

Thank God everyone slept in late this morning, because I was up 'til nearly 0500 on my charity thing.  When we were all up, it was nearly time to go to my appointment, so we dressed quickly and left. I was gross and didn't get a shower, which I hate. But no turning back, or we'd be late.

Our first stop was at the "cupboard" for Fall Product stuff. I had to pick up the remainder of our order - the stuff people had ordered from me after the deadline. That took only a few minutes, as the cupboard keeper lady is really well organized and prepared.

Then we drove all the way to downtown Norfolk to deliver 8 tutus to the dancewear shop! That was really exciting for me. Too bad I felt and looked gross and delivered my goods in a big, black garbage bag! The owner said, "That's okay, we don't stand on ceremony here!" She was super nice, and I really liked her. She was excited about the tutus and thought they were really cute. She loved how I decorated and embellished them, and I was proud, because I really like them, too. I know from crappy, and if something I make turns out crappy, I don't pursue it. So that was a nice little payment to get, and I've decided just to include that money as part of my table fee for the big craft show next weekend, which means it's almost covered! Yippee.

We came all the way back to town to deposit that, and more tutu money from a few other sales I've had lately, at the credit union. The kids are so silly: whenever we go to the bank, even though they know I go through the drive-thru, they start bugging, "Can we come in? Can we come in?" Just because that one time, we went in and they got lollipops... they never forget!

[Side note: I just washed my face in vinegar. Don't ask. Rob's dying of laughter.]

Everyone was starving by then, so I called out to ask what people wanted for lunch. The girls wanted Wendy's, but the boy wanted to go home and have yogurt. All right, good enough. We swung by Wendy's and got a hunk of chicken on a bun for me, and some nuggets for the girlies, and home again, jiggity jog.

Fast forward through lunch and naps and Rob calling to say he was on his way home, at last, and then it was time to go to the school for the annual Fall Carnival. Joy. I still didn't shower. Big mistake. I was - am - really gross, now. Remind me not to do this non-showering-and-going-out-in-public thing again. It exacerbated my not feeling good, of that I am sure.


I had already bought the tickets on Monday (AND Tuesday, did I tell you about that fiasco? Whenever I send money with my children to school,  they always come home shortchanged. Pisses me right the ^(*& off), so we marched past the ticket booth and headed for the food.

100_8882 Jack had a bag of popcorn, Rob and I had nachos, and the girls split a hot dog. Three sodas. Twenty tickets. That was a big wipe-out of our 50 total (but someone was nice enough to hand us some more later on)!


After the food, we headed into the cafeteria to play games. All games but the cakewalk were 1 ticket, so we had plenty for each of them. Here, they chose a lollipop, and the color of the stick determined their prize (hey, not a lot of skill goes into these kiddie games). They were happy just for the candy, but they got little toy pieces of crap, too.


The next line was super-duper long, so I suggested Rob and Chloë go do the cakewalk while I waited with the Nons. Sophia, who dressed herself in last year's Christmas dress for this occasion, spent the waiting time spinning and watching her dress twirl.


They didn't win the cakewalk, but after the littles played, Chloë came back and knocked over all the little bottles at miniature golf. Of course, all the games had cute little Halloween-themed names, but I can't remember them. More little crappy prizes!


The third game was tic-tac-toe. Of course, Sophia and Jack have no clue how to play it, so we had to coach them. More loot for their treat bags, win or lose. Everyone's a winner!


At the next table, there was coloring. No contest, they got to keep their pictures, and they also got a sticker and a piece of candy. They liked that!


Sophie loved being able to hold her own ticket for the games. "Mom, see me! Take this picture!"


At the next game, they had to throw a ball through these hoops, five times. The girls actually made a few, especially because the carnie kept moving them forward of the line!


Chloë just looks cute throwing. I had a picture of Jack, too, but it was really blurry.


The girls each won a necklace at that game (Chloë chose purple, of course), and Jack got a skateboard keychain.


This game was hilarious. They had to throw some huge coins into the bucket head for their prize. There was a tape line to stand on, but the kids kept inching forward until, finally, they were pretty much right in front of the table and dropping it in. Sophie would skip, hop and jump forward and then slam-dunk them in. Rob and I just stood there and laughed along with the carnie. He was a really nice guy, really sweet to them. I just love nice people!


(I don't know why all the pictures are of Sophia, I thought I had more of all of them, sorry!) The next game was a beanbag toss. Again, they all made one or two, even Sophia standing back at the line. That was exciting; she was so thrilled.


After all the games, we had enough tickets left for Rob and Chloë to go through the Haunted House in the gymnasium. When we got up to the entrance, the Littles decided they wanted to go through, too. Ugh. So I had to go buy three more dollars worth of tickets, since it was a four-ticket event, each.  No sooner did I pay the 20 tickets than Jack and Sophie got a good gander at the spookiness and high-tailed it out of there.

"Um, we changed our mind," I told to an annoyed Kris B. "I'm so sorry," I said about 30 times while she handed me back our tickets. Oh, well. We went to the Boy Scouts booth while Rob and Chloë entered the Haunted House. There, I asked questions about signing up Jack, and we filled out a card for them to call us when it was time for him to join, or whatever. They gave us some papers and things, and Jack eyed the give-away truck on their table. He asked for it, of course, and I laughingly explained that it was a prize for a raffle or something, and he couldn't just have it.

Just then, Rob and Chloë reappeared, with him loudly telling anyone who'd listen that they got a quarter of the way through before she chickened out. Judging from the look on her face, it was scarier than she expected. Oh well, maybe next year!

So then we went to the Face Painting area, but the line was really long. My back just couldn't hack it, so I said we'd have to skip it. Oh, Chloë was so upset, but I just couldn't stand there for half an hour. (I'm actually feeling incredibly blessed with the way I was able to get around, doing so much walking in Europe this past summer, considering how bad it was before and since then. Thank God for such favors.) She teared up, but we were moving on to the next thing.


The next thing: more cakewalk. We had enough tickets left for us all to do it twice. Since we were all in it at once, the Vice Principal running it (same one we ran into at the store the other day) announced on her microphone that she would run it five times in one round, for the five Odettes. That was embarrassing; the whole gym was staring at us and I hadn't showered! Nasty. But none of us won it!

The first time, I had held Sophie's sticky lollipop hand, and Rob had held Jack's. Chloë walked alone. The second time, Jack wanted to switch to me, and Sophia, well, she didn't. So in the picture above, she's calling out for Mommy and trying to break away from Daddy!  Jack ended up winning a brownie, and Sophie won three cookies. Chloë lost again, and I could see the lip quivering.


We were out of tickets by then, but walking back toward the exit, I noticed the face painting line was empty. So I handed Rob a buck and told him to buy me more tickets. When he returned, I sent him and the Littles to the van, and told Chloë she could have her face painted. Oh, she lit up. She was overjoyed. The art teacher was doing the painting, and she made my little girl this butterfly:


She was thrilled with it, especially all the glitter. I had one last dollar in my pocket after that, so I let her go over to the PTA table and buy one thing, anything she wanted for a dollar or less. She chose a really cool pen with a jumping, moveable skeleton on the end.

So we went home after that, and Rob noticed he only had two bags with all the kids' loot and prizes and good stuff. Chloë immediately remembered that she left her bag behind at the face painting, but it was too late by then - the school was closed. "I'm sorry," I told her. "You have to learn to hold onto your things and bring them home!" She is really bad about that. Lunchboxes, coats... things don't come home. She had a meltdown.  A real screaming, stomping fit. I'm kind of worried about her lately; she's not really in good control of her emotions. I've been talking to her about it, but I'm still concerned.

I'm hoping that, because her coloring picture with her name on it was in the bag, someone looked through it and will find that and return it to her on Monday morning. I know that would make her week.

Anyway, that was our day. Two more things:



These were the lemon cupcakes. I have about five super-huge cake tips that I wanted to try, so I just used them on these. Again, not for pretty, but for practice. Maybe the next time I'll actually make a cake that looks nice? Either way, the kids don't care and they taste the same!

Finally, don't be concerned about my "list" (did you go check it out?) - Rob has his own. It includes Tina Fey, Jessica Alba, Lauren Holly, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and, of all people, Annie Potts!!! Apparently she gave him major bonage during her Designing Women days.

That is all, folks.


Tricky or a Treaty

Well, today's the day. One of the biggest days of the year for a kid.

That's right. It's Wednesday.

So Jack went back to school today, and he was very eager. He came home so pumped, with frosting and chocolate all over his face and shirt, and one bag of candy from his school party and another from the bus driver. He even got a miniature pumpkin! (And speaking of pumpkins, we never got around to carving ours. Horrors!!)  Then Chloë came home, and she had an gigantic bag of candy, too. And pencils, and toys and other loot. Sweet gravy, I don't remember making out like that when I was in school!

Sophia came down with what the other kids and I have had, finally. I suppose it was inevitable. She probably feels worse than the other two had, combined. Her little voice is so hoarse, and she is just cranky and miserable. Poor thing. They all needed naps before trick-or-treating, and when I told her it was time for bed, Sophie just burst into tears and said, "I want to trick-or-treat!!" This was at 3 PM. I had the hardest time convincing her it wasn't time yet!

So they napped, and still feeling not great myself, I napped. Before I knew it, the doorbell was ringing at 6:30, and Rob was jumping off the couch next to me to give out candy. Whoops! So he went up to get the kids roused and into their costumes. None of them were happy about being woken up, until they realized it was time!

So we dressed them up. Getting three kids into Halloween costumes involves a fair amount of confusion. Who gets what, who's helping whom, what shoes to wear, who needs clothes underneath, blah blah. Jack was being very clingy and Sophia was being very... sick. She insisted she wanted to go, though, so we took a few pictures and sent them out. On their own.

100_4390_2 Of course not!

Chloë was Kim Possible, Jack was Nemo, and Sophia was JoJo

What can I say? We're a Disney-loving family.

And I got the costumes for super cheap. :D

100_4393 After a while, Chloë wanted to stay home with me and pass out candy, while the little ones went to a few more houses with Daddy. I was really surprised by that and couldn't convince her to go out! This is her friend Rebecca, from the bus stop. Then Rob and the Littles came home, and Chloë wanted me to take her around. We hit a few more houses, but there were suprisingly few porch lights on this year.

100_4395 I remembered we needed to go to the mall to get her new glasses, and there was  still time to trick-or-treat there, so we ran home to get in the van and get more candy! Lots of places were out by that point, but she still managed to get quite a haul.  And she said lots of funny stuff while we were out, like, "Ooh, I hope there's lots of spooky and scary stuff at the mall! I like getting freaked out!" (So untrue.) And, "I'm not afraid of anything. Except snakes and worms. If you put a snake on me, I would scream all the way up to heaven! And Robby would hear me!" And, "Are you afraid of ghosts, Mom? You're not? Are you brave of ghosts?" There was one more really funny one, but I forget it now.

100_4396_2 So then we got her glasses fixed - she'd complained to her teacher about them hurting her ears today - and went home. Here she is in her new glasses! What do you think?

If you want to see the rest of our October pictures, click here.

Happy All Saints Day!