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Saturday 9: Just Because

Elvis Presley: A First-Time Listener's Guide | Billboard ā€“ Billboard

Howdy-ho, neighbors! This weekend's post focuses on this song, Just Because, by Elvis Presley.  This is significant to me because I grew up with a dad who absolutely idolized the man (and, I'm sure, still does) and could do a mean impression of him as well. My dad could sing well, could do the moves, and even had some of the requisite attire to make the whole thing convincing. Of course, I've heard every Elvis song ever, 50,000 times over, backward and forward... right?

I had not ever heard this song before.

So, my friends, link up here if you want to join us this weekend. Read on for my answers. Thank you, Crazy Sam, for dusting this one off for me (okay, us)! Let's hit it:

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Saturday 9: Just Because (1956)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this week's song, Elvis complains that his girl has confused him with Santa Claus. This time of year, Santa is prominent. Did you more recently hear Santa referred to in a song, see him in a holiday decoration or ad, watch him in a film or TV show, or maybe even met him in person, ringing a bell or asking kids if they have been naughty or nice?

Christmas Carols for Children | Christmas songs for kids, Christmas carols  for kids, Xmas songs

Yes, we've been listening to a lot of Christmas carols lately as we work through the activities in our Advent calendar. Santa features prominently in these, of course.

2) Finally Elvis just can't take it anymore and breaks up with her, just because. Is there anyone in your life who has a way of pressing your buttons and getting on your nerves?

That's probably true for everyone, I'm guessing.

3) "Just Because" is one of the last songs Elvis recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis. TripAdvisor recommends a Sun Studio tour as one of the top things to do in Memphis. Have you ever been to Memphis? If yes, what did you do?

15 TOP Things To Do in Memphis | Attractions & Activities

I've only ever driven through Memphis, and also Nashville, and also half a dozen times Chattanooga. I have stayed in Gatlinburg. Memphis would be an interesting trip, though.

4) Elvis left Sun for RCA, a much bigger record label. As part of the deal, RCA negotiated for the rights to all his unreleased Sun songs. "Just Because" is one of them, and it was included on Elvis' first RCA album. Have you gotten a good deal on anything lately?

Best Buy: SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker Kit Icy Blue 1011711017

I get a good deal on just about everything. Like the SodaStream I got for Chloƫ for Christmas, I paid nowhere near full price, nor did I pay full price for the flavors for it, nor will I ever! And she'll be so thrilled to have it, so win-win!

5) In 1956, when "Just Because" was released, non-stick cookware was first introduced. Do you have any Teflon in your kitchen right now?

Shock Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

No way in hell!

6) Elvis thought peacocks were beautiful and commissioned stained glass peacock panels for his living room. Do you have any stained glass in your home?

The Most Beautiful Stained Glass in the World | CondƩ Nast Traveler

No, but I certainly do wish! It's so beautiful.

7) He tried to keep peacocks at Graceland. One of the birds saw its reflection in Elvis' gold Cadillac and started pecking, ruining the car's expensive paint job. Elvis donated the peacocks to the Memphis Zoo. Have you ever had a bird as a pet?

Well not exactly pets, but we used to keep chickens when we lived in Idaho for the eggs, and the five of us each had "our" specific chickens that we felt we belonged to and were particularly attached to. I loved those chickens. Here, we're not allowed to have any because of our HOA rules, even though the town would allow three, which makes me want to be a scofflaw and keep ducks. They don't say anything about ducks.

8) Elvis decorated the long Graceland driveway for the holidays with blue lights. His father teased that with the airport nearby, pilots might confuse their driveway with a runway. What airport is nearest your home?

I believe the nearest major airport is Baltimore International, although we have tons of regional ones between there and here.

9) When Elvis was alive, he kept the holiday lights up until January 9, the day after his birthday. That tradition continues at Graceland today. Conventional etiquette tells us Christmas decorations should go up the day after Thanksgiving and come down before January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas). Do you think it's ever too early, or too late, for Christmas decorations?

Holiday Light Displays | VisitMaryland.org

Well, for stores and other commercial enterprises, yeah, I kinda think there is a limit for too-early/too-late. But for private families and people, I think, who gives a rat's behind? Let people do what makes them happy! So what if Joe Schmoe at the end of the block likes to keep his lights up until the end of March and put them up again after Halloween? What's it to me? I don't pay his light bill and it's honestly kind of pretty. I'm of more of a laissez-faire kind of mind about that for private citizens.

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Welp, that's all folks! Back to wrapping presents with Chloƫ, my eldest! Seems like the job will never be done, but that's not a complaint! I'm grateful for the abundance, always grateful.

Have a wonderful week on purpose, everybody! ā™„

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Book Meme

Welcome back, peeps! Today we went to Zoo Boise for a "freebie" day, which was our 2nd day of Advent activity. To be quite honest, it was probably the lamest zoo we've been to, and we've seen a few. Maybe it's nicer in the summertime? I don't know, but at least it was something to do that I didn't have to pay for!

Let's get into the fray; link up here if you'd like to join in the fun today!

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This was stolen from designindigo, a site which no longer seems to be live.  But we all seem to be readers, so I thought this was fun to do.

 

  1. Do you prefer hardcover, paperback, or Kindle...and why?
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  3. I prefer a hardcover book, but a paperback will do if that's all I have. I hate reading on my Kindle; my girls love it. When using a smart device, I have to have the screen on super brightness, or I'm not able to see it to read. But that gives me a headache. And the battery dies when I read on the Kindle, usually with no access to a charger, so... I just love the feel of holding a weighty tome in my hands, turning the pages, smelling the paper, etc. The book experience is incomparable, in my opinion.

    2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it ...
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  5. Uh, I don't know. I'm absolutely horrible at naming things! "Pay My Wages, Read These Pages!" Heh.

    3. My favorite quote from a book Moby Dick is ..
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  7. "Call me Ishmael." It's such a great, simple opening to such a great, complex tale.

    4. The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with would be ...
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  9. Definitely Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) - such a thinker, that one!

    5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be ...
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  11. When I was a single woman, about 20 years ago (holy shit), I drove up to Georgia from Florida, where my sister was living at the time. She's not a big reader, but she was going through this autobiography-reading phase at the time. I'm a big reader, so I read all the books she had lying around the house at the time. Ellen DeGeneres' book, My Point... And I Do Have One had me in stitches the whole way through. I'm not a big re-reader, but I think if I were stuck on a deserted island, I'd be pretty miserable and could use a hearty laugh or two!

    6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that ...
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  13. You know what would be great? How about a floating book holder that could position the book wherever it was comfiest for me to read it, turn the pages for me, and have a light on it for when it's otherwise too dark to see? Yeah, that is what I want. Get on it, Gates!

    7. The smell of an old book reminds me of ...
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  15. I was gifted a set of my Great-Aunt Amy's old translational books from Spanish-English, French-English, and German-English. They were yellowed and literally falling apart at the seams. The pages were so old and unprotected, they were brittle and flaking away whenever handled. I don't even know where they are at this moment (in a box, somewhere in this house), but old books instantly remind me of Aunt Amy. She was the best.

    8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be...
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  17. Wendy Darling, from Peter Pan by James M. Barrie... Maybe a creepy kinda book, but I would love to be able to magically fly at whim and still be innocent and childlike about life...

    9. The most over-rated book of all time is...
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  19. I have to agree with Stephen King. Both of my daughters have read all the Harry Potter books and watched all the movies, and ChloĆ« has even read the whole series three times! It took me a long time to actually get on board with HP, but now I find them ingenious and love that the girls love them so much. On the other hand, I tried to read Twilight and just could never get into the first book, let alone the rest or the movies. Meh. Just not my cup of tea, maybe?

    10. I hate it when a book....

Image result for choose your own adventure books meme

... is in a "choose your own adventure" series. I always loathed those books. So stupid! If I wanted to choose my own ending, I'd have written the damn book myself. No. So lame.

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That was fun, Bev! Thanks for the meme!


Saturday 9: Da Doo Ron Ron

Hey, party people! Welcome back! I'm in Week Two of Tonsillectomy recovery, which, let me tell you folks: At 41 years old, as excited as I was when the ENT told me I needed those mofos out, I'll be waaaaaay more excited when I'm fully recovered, can swallow regular food and my pills again, and have a freakin' voice that doesn't sound like that lady in Throw Mama From the Train!! Remember her? OMG.

Anyway, let's get to it:

Saturday 9: Da Doo Ron Ron (1977)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) This song begins by stating that he met her on a Monday and his heart stood still. How did your past week start? It may be a lot to expect you to report that you met someone who made your heart stand still, but did anything noteworthy occur? 
 
My week as a homeschooling mother of three teenagers started with me, recovering already, getting aspiration pneumonitis to boot. So we skipped church because I was coughing too much that I'd be disruptive, and my girls went off to play Quidditch with their team, the Lap Giraffes, instead. Weird enough, right?

2) While making hit records, Shaun Cassidy also starred as Joe Hardy on the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books have been popular with generations of American kids. Were you a fan?

Oh, my gosh, yes. I had alllll the Nancy Drew books as a kid. My girls have read a few, and my son has read a couple of the Hardy Boys books on a recommendation from their grandmother. 

3) Shaun went to Beverly Hills High School. Over the decades, BHHS has had many good football teams. Do you remember what sports your school excelled at?
 
Pretty much all of them, as I recall: Football, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics... Baker High School in Baldwinsville, New York, had many athletic trophies in the case. They were always in the morning announcements at school. I was not among them. Not an athletic bone in my body.

4) Shaun followed his older half-brother, David Cassidy, into TV/records/teen stardom. Do you have siblings? If yes, what career paths did they follow?
 
I had an older half-sister I'd never met, whom my dad just found after decades - 4.5 of them! - of no contact. She's in a home for adults somewhere in NYC. He knows; I forget, but I think it's in Staten Island. I really want to meet her someday; she's my blood. (She is mentally disabled.) My older whole-blood sister, Stacey, is a hair and nail stylist in Jamestown, NY. I had two older stepsisters, Mindy and Aarin, for 10 years; I flew the coop and left all the step-nonsense behind at 17, so I honestly have no idea what they do.

5) His middle name is Paul, after his maternal grandfather. Tell us something about one of your grandparents.
 
I never met my paternal grandparents, both of whom died before I was born. My maternal grandparents were everything that did NOT suck about my childhood, and I loved them with my whole heart. Grandpa was in Russia during WWII and came back learning only the two phrases, "Do you speak Russian?" and "What time do you get off work, baby?" He taught me those when I was a kid, haha! He had a massive heart attack and a sextuple bypass in his 60s, and he was supposed to be in one of the twin towers on 9/11/01 but was called off that day, thank God. He died a few years back at the ripe old age of 81, and I miss him terribly.

6) Shaun's mother, actress Shirley Jones, reports that he was more than 3 weeks late and born by Cesarean. Have you heard family legends about your arrival into the world?
 
I had a heart defect when I was born. My parents were told that I would die if I did not have surgery to correct it, but they refused it because of their "religion," Christian Science. My grandparents freaked out my whole life whenever I did anything exertive, and they hit the roof when I became a SCUBA diver! I recently saw a cardiologist and went through the whole 30-day monitoring, stress test, etc. rigmarole and was deemed "abnormal" (duh) but with nothing to do at the moment. Rest easy, Grandma.
 
7) "Da Doo Ron Ron" was originally recorded by The Crystals. Can you think of another song that has been a hit by more than one artist?
 
First thing I thought of was "The Locomotion," made famous by Little Eva, Grand Funk Railroad, and the one I know best, Kyle Minogue. 
 
8) In 1977, when this version of "Da Doo Ron Ron" was popular, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak incorporated Apple. Are you Mac or Android?

We had iGadgets at first, including several generations of the iPhone, before we jumped ship to Samsung Galaxies. They are everything I wanted my iPhone to do, but it wouldn't/couldn't. I lurve it.

9) Random Question: You're exhausted. You collapse into bed and are about to drift into slumber when you hear the drip-drip-drip of the bathroom faucet. Would you kick off the covers and go turn it off? Or would you stay in bed, letting it drip until morning?

If I couldn't nudge Hubs awake to do it and didn't fall asleep first, I'd have to go turn it off. The waste!

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Great fun this week, Crazy Sam! Thanks for the quizzy!


Wordless Wednesday: YMCA Kids' Day

Link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom, and pretty much all around the blogosphere, if you're wordless today!

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On Saturday, we went to the YMCA Kids' Fair down the road from our house. The first stop was to visit the National Parks Service table, where we asked a billion questions and received tons of information. And the kids got to blow in a conch shell, which was super fun!

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To promote healthy kids, they were giving out freshly made strawberry-banana, and blueberry, smoothies. I think Sophia went back three times for more, you guys. Fortunately, the ladies at the table encouraged it!

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They were giving away free books at another table. The selection was a little junior to my kids' ability, but they didn't mind and have read all the books since then. My girls, especially, love to read!

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The local Police Department was giving away free bicycle helmets, and Sophie snagged the last one. Lucky girl was making out like a bandit that day!

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They were also giving away fresh pineapple chunks and bananas! Yum. Jack looks less than thrilled because he wanted to get on down the road to the Miami Children's Museum, but the girls had a couple servings each. Way to get our nutrition on!

Thanks for the fun day, YMCA!

Fin.


Starting November With A Bang

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So you may have noticed, we have a new student in Sweet Pea Academy. My pal Veronica asked me to school her 9-year-old daughter, Victoria, who was not having the greatest experience in public school. She has, perhaps, more faith in my abilities than I do. After a deep discussion with Rob, we decided to thumbs-up the idea and give it a go. Victoria joined us full-time this past Monday, November 3rd. We started with a pancake breakfast.

Usually, Rob makes the pancakes in Casa de Odette, but he's not feeling too well lately, so I took a turn. There is a reason I don't normally make them: I'm not the best at it. At all. And this time was no different. I burned half of them, and I don't make cool shapes like Mickey faces or their names or anything else. Nevertheless, everyone gamely ate pancakes aplenty, and then we started school.

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The kids watching their daily Math-U-See lesson

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On Tuesday, we visited the library for our weekly trip. The kids wanted nothing more than to read their selections when we returned home, so of course I let them before we got started on our next task.

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Each of the kids is doing a swap with a homeschooling partner somewhere else in the country; this is our third month participating. Each month, a different theme is chosen. In our first month, only Sophia did a swap, and the theme was SPACE. The second month, all three of my kids swapped, and their theme was HABITAT. This month, the theme is BIOGRAPHY, and Victoria is joining us in that. All four kids, after a discussion about biography, chose to do their swaps autobiographically, so I took pictures of each of them to include in albums they are making about themselves.

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Naturally, Chloe wanted to include a photo of her beloved Pepper in her autobiography album!

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On Tuesday, before we got started with school, we had a Welcome party for Victoria. It was a surprise planned by Veronica and us after Sophia came up with the idea during our family meeting about her joining us. Victoria had no idea; she was completely shocked!

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Veronica brought a pineapple upside-down cake she baked, which I love but didn't eat because I'm trying soooo hard to be good about eating healthy calories. But man, I wanted some!

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Rob played along with Party Mode, wearing the hat and everything. He's such a trooper.

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The look on Victoria's 3-year-old sister, Belen, cracked me up. She was like, "Um, no. Just... no."

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Veronica is 37 weeks pregnant with baby #4, Melodie-Grace, due around Thanksgiving Day. We can't wait to meet her!

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In homage to Victoria's Mexican heritage, I decided to make some simple Cinco de Mayo pinatas filled with - what else for this time of year? - Halloween candy. When Belen and the rest of the kids pulled a string, out fell the candy. Fun! And, I just knew there was a reason I was saving all those toilet paper rolls!

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I made the pinatas; Chloe made the welcome banner you can kinda-sorta see in the first photo, and Sophia made the paper flowers that I apparently neglected to photograph. That's a shame, since they turned out so well.

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We, uh, got just a little silly with paper hats. I swear I did not spike the punch!

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Victoria insisted I get silly with them. I'm always happy to embarrass myself; why not?

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I forget what Sophie was pretending to be here. She's always imagining something new and interesting; I wish I could record every moment of the child's life!

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Before we sent Victoria's mom and sister home for the day so we could start our lessons, Belen got into the party hat fun, too. Yeah!

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On Thursday, after several days of talking about the Tequesta, Ais, and Jaegas Indians of South Florida, we did a lab to demonstrate to the kids some of the ways in which these people lived. I sent the kids out on a scavenger hunt for sticks of various sizes, while I managed to score this huge fallen palm branch. I learned from an old Physics professor that, sometimes, to start things off, you need to "WOW" them in. When I hauled that giant branch into the living room in front of the kids, it was definitely a WOW moment!

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I had gotten several sizes of sharks' teeth, as well as a variety of mollusk shells, over the past several weeks in preparation for this lab. My goal was to show the children that natives used these as tools to help create their dwellings, hunt for food, make clothing, and even make more tools.

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Sophia really got into the whittling of this branch with the largest shark tooth.

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Victoria started with a smaller shark tooth on a smaller branch.

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Chloe got to work with an oyster shell on the great big palm branch I found, and she shaved off the outer "skin," realizing it could be used as lashing to tie together sticks and other materials for building purposes. Brilliant!

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The shells could be used to carve out canoes, but obviously I didn't have a large enough piece of wood for that, so we practiced on tiny twigs.

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Jack really enjoyed this lab. Even though he moaned and groaned, as he is wont to do, when I said we were doing a lab (who knew what that meant at the time?!), he was the first one to complain when I told them we were finished and had to clean up our materials. It's always that way with him!

So all in all, it was a pretty great week for Sweet Pea Academy. I think Victoria was just what we needed for a breath of fresh air in our daily lessons. With all our lessons, field trips, fun, and yes, meals, I still managed to get a ton of knitting done, and we were able to go get our passports ordered and then picked up for our trip to Mexico next week. Who needs sleep?!

(This girl.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up with here with Mrs. 4444 if you've got bits and pieces floating through your brain today!

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Right off the bat, I have to say I'm excited that tomorrow is the day I'm spending ~8 hours getting my iron transfusion! It's my first one, and it's not unusual for gastric bypass patients to need them. I'll probably be getting my first of many Vitamin B12 shots, as well. My hemoglobin levels are abyssmally low, which means it's a struggle and a chore just for me to make it through the day, every day, let alone cover everything that's on my plate. I've been dropping a lot of balls lately, admittedly, and I'm hoping this will make a huge difference for me - and my family, who have to put up with me. Hopefully, too, I'll be able to stop consuming the massive daily amounts of caffeine that I do to stay functioning and focused. So, yay!

The only downside is I won't be able to knit during the procedure... but I have about eleventy-billion magazines to catch up on, so I'm covered there. And I can always nap. What I'm wondering about now is, when do I pee? And eat? (I'll let you know. Hee.)

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In awesome news, my kids have been focusing on their reading in our homeschooling so far this new year, and they have progressed dramatically. My oldest, a fifth grader, had to write her first book report, after much gnashing of teeth over it, and she did a splendid job. I had to make just a few corrections - all mechanics - but the content was fantastic. I was so pleased!

As for the two Littles, my son is in 3rd grade and came out of 1st grade public school hardly literate at all. So I remediated him from the Kinder level with our K-2 Hooked on Phonics program, and he just "graduated" from the program! It only took him a year and a half to do all three years' worth, so that's pretty great. Yes, I'm proud of him, but even more incredible is how visibly proud of himself he is! I love it!

The youngest, a first grader who was a late bloomer with regard to reading (she's the most active, physical of the lot), has suddenly pushed through the block and is now almost to the 2nd grade level of the program. So go, kids!! Starting next week, we'll slow down on so much all-reading, all-the-time, and focus more on math, with which all three of them also need remediation. No child left behind, my butt! But the buck stops here. :)

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We were supposed to go on a field trip to the Food Bank with our two respective Girl Scout troops today, but I found out two hours before the trip that they had to reschedule it. ARGH! I had no choice but to cancel our regular meeting, since I have it planned to have a guest speaker come in, and there was no way to get her on such short notice. It was pretty stinko (my word of the month), and I was bummed, since we're behind where I wanted to be in my Daisy troop at this point. But with the iron deficiency, I have to say, I wasn't too terribly disappointed to get a reprieve! Just sayin'.

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We've had Sophia to the Emergency Department 3-4 times this past week, as her breathing struggles have suddenly kicked back into high gear. It's not the weather, since it's barely cold here, and it started in the summertime anyway (in 2010!). We've seen 8 or 9 different doctors and gotten just as many "suggestions" about what it could be, with no real answers. It's frustrating for me, as her mom, to watch her go through this, so I can only imagine how much of an annoyance it is for her. My husband thinks it's entirely stress-induced, but I disagree. That may be a component, certainly, but since it frequently comes on when she's just sitting around, doing nothing remotely upsetting, how can that be?? I just wish I could help her.

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A local-but-online-only friend of mine is a potter, and she fashions these awesome, funkadelic business card holders that I've been coveting for a long time. Last week, she made this red one, and I KNEW it was the one I had to have. It arrived today. Do you love it?! I do! So cool. Check out Lisa's Etsy shop for more awesome clay-mations!

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We drove up the Eastern Shore of Virginia on Sunday (here's my view out the windshield of the Chesapeake Bay), for a high-paying mystery shop. Great, except I kind of screwed it up a little, and now I don't know if I am going to get paid for it. Argh. Well, if that happens, at least we had a fun trip and enjoyed lots of interesting scenery, right?

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This is the kids in the back during the trip, watching Judy Moody and the Not-So-Bummer Summer, which they've been waiting for me to rent from the Blockbuster kiosk for ages. I waited until it dropped to $1, so I could get it for free (lots of codes out there, folks!), because I'm cheap like that!

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Speaking of mystery shops, Rob and I finally went out for a nice dinner - with the kids, so it was only semi-romantic! - to celebrate the 11th wedding anniversary we shared on the 2nd of this month. Here's my Appletini. The kids love cherries and all clamored for mine, but um, no. Not the ones all soaked in Smirnoff, kiddos! It was really strong, and I got drunk very quickly. I drink maybe once a month, if that, and wow. I'm such a lightweight since my surgery!

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And here's me, that night (tipsy), showing you my hair in its awkward growing-out phase. I can't stand my hair right now. I want it to be long NOW. I'm half-tempted to just chop it again, but it grows soooo slowly, I may never have another ponytail. Is 35 too old for ponytails, anyway? Not around the house, or in the summer at least, right? ;)

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Last week (which I can tell ya, because I skipped FF then, sorry), we totally kept the kids up and took them to the 12:01 AM first showing of the newly re-released Beauty and the Beast in 3D. It was AWESOME. I think I had as good a time as the kids did. It cost a small fortune; I had sticker shock, but it was worth it for the "cool mom points" I earned, I think. At least Rob managed to stay awake during the whole thing - he'd had a nap first to make sure! Have you seen it? It was great.

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Lastly, speaking of Etsy, I have to share this story. I bought this gorgeous yarn on clearance from Summer of Perfectly Handmade, and the whole situation quickly turned into a comedy of errors: First, she accidentally sent me the wrong yarn, and then she sent me the correct yarn after I mailed it back (and she was GREAT through this whole process, and I totally recommend her, so don't think I'm speaking too badly of her). Well, it was badly skeined, and when I wound it into center-pull "cakes" with my swift and ball winder, it took about two hours vs. the 10-15 minutes it should have, because it was such a mess. I finally got it, though, and managed to knit ONE hexipuff for the Beekeeper's Quilt I'm making before going to bed for the night. Well, I stupidly left that troublesome-but-lovely yarn out overnigh, and our two kittens decided to make it their plaything overnight. When I woke up early, before the kids, I went to go knit another puff with it... and it was GONE. So I instantly knew "the twins," as they are, were the culprits and headed upstairs to look for it. I found two 8mo kittens, each with a shred of the yarn hanging out of their mouths and looking at me guiltily. They immediately dropped it and went to go hide under my son's bed! Then I searched around and found the yarn strewn all over my older daughter's room, some of it chewed it into short strands, some of it just a gnarled, knotty mess, but all entirely wrecked. GAH!!  However, I kept plugging away at it, and look! Up there! I managed to eke out 13 or 14 hexipuffs out of the yarn, which I eventually sorted out, and they'll look great in the quilt. But what a pain!!

P.S. Summer sent me some more yarn as a gift, for all my troubles. So if you're a "yarnie" like I am, don't hesitate to check her out!

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I'll leave you on that note. No, this one: "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

RIP, Dr. King.

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Fin.


Like It's Going Out Of Style

{Forewarning, this is gonna be a super-long post. Grag a drink and put your feet up.}

Spending money, that is... We got our big ol' tax refund Friday, and I've been paying bills and doing some (very necessary) shopping. I'm going to rub the magnetic strip right off my debit card soon!

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The kids worked on addressing their valentines Thursday night, as they all had Valentine's Day parties in their respective classes on Friday. Did I ever show you their cards? Let me know if I didn't and you want to see them. I got a set of 25 free V-day photo cards (4x8") for each of them, from SeeHere, and they turned out really well, except that the words weren't printed on ChloĆ«'s cards for some reason, and she had to write them in. Jack complained about addressing his envelopes at first, because I made him read the names to me intstead of just copying them down. He's a very lazy reader. Who knows how much he can actually read? He pretends he can't, when really it's "don't wanna try." Today he asked me, "What does 'Sprint' mean?" after seeing it written, when no one had told him what it said, so I know he he can read words longer than 3-letters! He acts like he can't, though.

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Sophia only wrote about four of her envelopes out, before she got bored and started drawing pictures instead, and then she gave up entirely after two of those. She's a mirror-image left-handed writer, so I always have to guide her to go from left to right instead of the reverse, and then face her letters the correct way. She still couldn't do it, so I wrote it out for her and told her to copy. We're hoping that she'll figure it out during her kindergarten year. I still think it's really cool, though. I'm ambidextrous, and when I write left-handed, I write mirror-image, too. Otherwise, it's not nearly as neat. Like Leonardo da Vinci!

I just practiced. Actually, it's just as neat going both ways. But I haven't done it in a long time; I used to try to write lefty a lot more often and could do much better. But who cares?

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I didn't get a picture of ChloĆ« writing hers, because it was too dark where she was sitting, but she gave me this Valentine on Wednesday. I absolutely freaking love it!! If you can't read it, it says "Dear Mom, I sure love you. You rule. You're my girl. Mom, u r mine. You're my true love. You have a ā™„ of gold. Ask me something. Tell dad I love him. Email me. Got love? Love, ChloĆ«" Is that cute, or what??!  Sadly, the kids picked off and ate all the glued-on candy hearts shortly after I took the picture, but at least I have this!

So I never went to bed that night, because I was too amped up about finally paying some bills when the refund came in at midnight - together with Rob's mid-month pay. All that $$ was so exciting to me, and I couldn't wait to pay the bills! Everything is paid for, and we're still well in the black. I made several phone calls and managed to get many late and over-limit fees removed if I paid in full, and stuff like that, so it was kind of fun seeing how I could whittle down the amounts.

And then, around 0600 or so, I went to pay our car insurance premium. It renews this month, so I was looking over the documents. The amount actually went way down, so I was trying to figure out why, when I came across the driver history section. There, I found two incidents listed under my name for 2009, for speeding - and I hadn't gotten any tickets!! I was incensed, I tell ya. I immediately called up Progressive, who told me that they had just pulled up that information from the state to get our new rate, and that it was coming directly from them.

The hell you say! So then I had to wait three more hours (well, I took Rob's say-so that they didn't open 'til 0900, when really I found out later they'd opened at 0800. Buggers), all antsy and irritated, before the DMV opened. Imagine my surprise when they told me that not only do I NOT have three points on my license, but I had three PLUS points for my good driving record, soon-to-be four plus points when the 2009 record hits! I made her reiterate it three times before I took her word for it and hung up.

Back to Progressive. The lady (and I use that term loosely) I spoke to gave me the brush-off, telling me that their information was from the state, and that's all there was to it, buh-bye.

Back to DMV. I talked to someone new, who told me the same thing as the first person, and that sometimes the insurance companies get their information from other sources than DMV, but that they were the actual-true-real-deal authority, and I definitely didn't have any points on my license. (I knew for a fact that I didn't get those tickets, because for the first one, I had JUST had major surgery and was still heavily drugged, and the second one happened in North Carolina, and I definitely was not there in June, but still! It was very ... bewildering, this whole thing.)

Progressive again. I asked straight-away to speak to a manager, and that person came on the phone immediately, as sweet as could be. I gave her my story, and a few minutes later we discovered that they had my license number wrong for the record inquiry! What a huge relief that was, ... we were thinking my identity had been stolen, although fat luck to that person trying to use my credit! Heh. The manager pretty much bent over backward apologizing for the mistake and the rude person I'd talked to prior to that, and then she went over everything with a fine-toothed comb to make sure we were getting all the discounts we should be getting. We weren't, because we hadn't gone paperless yet, so of course I immediately agreed to that. After that and the error fixing, the premium went down another hundred bucks or so. Sweet! (It initially went down because a lot of Rob's accidents finally fell of their three-year record. Yes, he's had a lot of ... driving issues. ::snort::)

So. That out of the way, and Rob was just back from getting the card for taking his motorcycle safety class, way back months ago. He lost the card, and he couldn't go take his road test without it. Why he waited all these months to get a new one is beyond me, but let's not go there. We've had words.

I wanted to go out shopping after that, so he went with me. He'll go get his road test on Tuesday, hopefully.

Derby Foto Collage

Our first stop was at Walgreens, to pick up the developed pictures from the kids' disposable cameras. I haven't looked at them yet; Rob ran in to get them. Apparently a lot of them were cruddy, and he got credit back for those (do you know you don't have to pay for bad pictures? Just give them the ones you don't want, and ask for credit). They're from our two trips to Great Wolf Lodge last year. Then there was this photo collage - no clue why it won't scan properly - that I got free for Valentine's Day. Did you get one? Sign up for emails from Walgreens Photo! Or read those deal blogs; the code was on there, too. Anyway, this one is, of course, all the pix from Jack's Derby, and it's just in time, too, as we really need to start his family scrapbook for Tiger Cubs. This will be his first entry!

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We went to Target after that and got lots and lots of great deals! I took smaller photos of individual deals, to break it down for you, but I never got around to posting about that last night. If you're interested in knowing, I can still do that.

It was funny, because I overheard someone saying, "She's doing the same thing we're doing," in one of the aisles. So I looked up, smiling, and asked her if she was a couponer. She was, so I asked her if she read the coupon blogs. She did, so I asked her if she reads "Hip 2 Save" (look it up on Swagbucks!) - and she does!  We, um, high-fived each other in the aisle. Rob just shook his head and called me a dork. It's true. I totally am.

We spent way too long shopping the deals at Target - I'd somehow wanted to go there, Walgreens, CVS, and out to lunch for a mystery shop before he had to go to work, ha! - and he was checking his watch every five seconds at the end. I ended up getting him home about 15 minutes late, oops. 

I still had about three hours before the kids were due home, but I knew that wasn't enough time to go out and do the mega-grocery shopping trip I wanted to do at Walmart. I've been printing out loads of internet coupons, and they were all set to expire Saturday. I didn't want them to go to waste. But there wasn't time.

And then I remembered ChloĆ«'s Valentine's Day dance as school! I only just found out about it on Thursday night, when she was in tears about not going. Huh??? I told her I would go to the school and buy her a ticket, and I'm so glad I remembered at 1400, because they were not sold at the door. 

At the school, they told me all about the dance, because I knew no details. It was from 1900-2100 (rather late for 3rd-5th graders, don't you think?), and parents were absolutely NOT invited, along with younger or older siblings. Humph. Some kids would dress up like debutantes, some would dress way down, and everywhere in between. ChloĆ« wanted to wear her pink gown from iPOP, so we were just hopeful it would still fit. (It's a 4T, and although she is eight, she mostly wears a 5T. As does her 4yo sister!)

First things, first, though.

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Hello, what's this??

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I'm gonna get you, sucka!

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Is that not the most gorgeous mixer you have ever seen?! When Williams-Sonoma emailed me and said this special-edition KitchenAid mixer was on sale for this weekend, oooh, I wanted it baaad. Rob was out somewhere at the time, I think at Wal-Mart getting stuff like a new headlight for my van, when I got the email. He had asked me if I wanted anything for Valentine's Day, but we agreed that, well, he's buying me yet ANOTHER surgery, and I'm getting him five pairs of (cute and sexy, we hope) jeans, and that would just be swell. But then, hey, wait a minute, this mixer that I've been eyeballing for the last, oh, 70,000 years is on SALE, and hello, it's RED!!! I ā™„ red. 

So, we texted back and forth, and I batted my lashes electronically as hard as I could, and he kept saying, "we'll see." We'll see, we'll see. Aaaghhhh! 

Well, he tried to buy me the mixer right there at Wal-mart, but they didn't have it. Aw, so sweet.

The entire time he was gone, I sat at my computer and gazed at the pretty picture. And, well, I shopped around for it at Amazon and the Navy Exchange site, too, but only Williams-Sonoma had THAT one and THAT price. I coudn't put it out of my mind.

And then, I had this dinner mystery shop to do Friday night, before ChloĆ«'s dance. I swear I didn't plan that it that way, because I'd had the shop for two weeks, but it just so happened to be right down the road from the Williams-Sonoma actual physical STORE, people!! So, all innocent and just checking, I called up the store to see if they carried that mixer, the one on sale, you know the RED one - and they did. But they only had two left, and they were flying out the door, so I better hurry if I wanted one. 

I wanted one.

I called Rob and told him. He said, "Okay, get it." Wooooot!!!!!!!! I love that guy. All we've talked about is paying off this and paying off that and making lists of the things the kids need and he needs ... but he let me have this one splurge that I really, really don't deserve.

Except that I do. Because I use my mixer a lot, and it has recently gone to mixer heaven, and I've been bereft without it. I mean, I've been mixing by HAND people, and I have early arthritis! Poor, poor me, I know. It's not that bad. But it does hurt.

So, we stopped at WS, and I ran in and asked for the mixer, and they just looked at me like I was nuts. Which I am, but that's beside the point. Turns out, they only had the one on display left, and the couldn't find the box for it. So I had to wait and wait, all the while anxiously watching the time, because we were going to be late for the dance.

While I waited, I looked around, and of course my eyes lit upon the lemon poppy seed quickbread mix that Rob absolutely adores. Aha! The first thing I will make in my mixer, a little thank-you present for Hubs. And then I wandered over to the WĆ¼sthof knives, to see what Rob was missing from his WĆ¼sthof collection that I've been amassing for him over the years. He loves those knives, man. 

Well, he really wants a cleaver, I think, but I just don't see a lot of meat chopping happening in our kitchen. And, we're still using the same crappy set of steak knives that I got when I moved into my first apartment a dozen years ago, a Kmart special, so I have been wanting to get those for him. Only, have you ever priced a set of WĆ¼sthof steak knives? I have. Not so cheap.

But... I found the Gourmet set of four, which is still a nice knife, but not as hefty or, well, good, as the rest of their knives, at a workable price point. I decided to get a set of four for him now, and then another set of four down the road, and then we could always upgrade further in the future. Right? Only, they didn't have any in stock, except for the two that were on display. Big bummer, I really wanted to surprise him with those.

I was still excited, though. The salesman carried out my new mixer to the car, and the kids haven't stopped talking about it. They're just as excited about it as I am (well, probably not)! It really is a beautiful sight to behold. Thank you, my love!!!

Then we went to dinner. I'd told the salesman to call me if they found the other two knives, as I would be just down the road, but they never called. Still haven't. Ah, well. Dinner was fun. The kids ate really well, even Jack, which surprised me since it was Tex-Mex. The girls always like a quesadilla, but you never know what - or if - Jack will eat. Besides chips. He's always good for chips.

So he asked for an all-chicken burrito. No cheese, no tomatoes, no lettuce, NOTHING but chicken. When they served our food and he bit into his burrito, he instantly started sobbing because everything was on it. Argh. I brought it back and reiterated, JUST CHICKEN (dammit)!

When it came back out, I thought he might eat two bites and then be done, but no! He scarfed the entire, adult-sized burrito down in five minutes flat. Boy was hungry. Mom was thrilled. 

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Back at home, we got ChloĆ« dressed as quickly as possible. I'd already made her take a shower, so her hair would be clean and curly, but she decided she wanted an updo for her "ball," as she called it. (A ball! At eight! How cute.)  She wanted a bun, plus one of the headbands I'd made. Sho' thing, sweetness. When she asked for a little make-up, I was hesitant, as that's something we reserve for dance recitals only. But then I figured, oh, why not? What would it hurt? 

I always love putting mascara on her. She's got her father's amazing lashes, and BOING, they just pop right out with mascara.  Can you see?

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While my lovely little lady searched for her tights, I had to do some spot-cleaning on her dress. There were brown streaks and dots all over it. It's been hanging in my closet since iPOP two years ago, so who knows what happened to it?? Probably Sophia, she likes to hang out in there. Fortunately, everything came right out with just a little water, and it didn't leave water stains. Doesn't she look like a little princess? She said she felt like one, too.

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At the dance, after she walked in, I could hear people murmuring everywhere, "Look at ChloĆ«! Look at ChloĆ«!" and she glided around, obviously feeling like the belle of the ball. She felt very special, I just know she did. I grabbed this quick photo with her two teachers (she's team-taught), who were busy running the concessions (oops, forgot to give ChloĆ« any money for snacks), and then she was off. I barely got a chance to kiss her good-bye, tell her to have fun, or remind her to call me if she needed me! She was just off, into the dance, without a wave.

My big girl.

Meanwhile, I drove the Littles home. Sophia was crying because she just wanted to stay and watch, and the more I explained that neither one of us were allowed there, the harder she sobbed. Which was all it took, because on the drive home, I got more than a little teary-eyed myself. My oldest daughter's first real dance...!!! In ten years, she'll be in college. Make it stop, make it slow down!!

Back at home, the Littles and I had at ton of work to do. The house, as usual, was a disaster, and I wanted it cleaned up for two reasons: I had to pick up cookies the next day and needed the space, and Linda would be coming to babysit them while I did so. I hate having people over to a messy house!

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After taking the new mixer out of the box and admiring it while they had some dessert (just candy from their school parties), and then admiring it for a few minutes longer, we got down to business. I swept the floors while they cleaned up toys, and we got everything cleared out, put away, and cleaned up. Except the kitchen and bathroom, which I never did get to last night. Oh, well, c'est la vie.

Finally, it was time to pick up ChloĆ«. Actually, who am I kidding, the time flew by in a blink. Two hours really isn't that long when you have two other kids to keep you busy! Still, I was excited to go see the girl-child and hear all about the dance.

I couldn't find a parking spot, so we parked in the middle of the (what I call a) "go-way" and dashed in to get her. Lots of people were leaving, so I had to hurry. I couldn't find her, and then I ran into the cafeteria ballroom and saw her with a group of people dancing, mid-twirl. Great! Only, then she stopped and started chewing on her shawl thingy. I can't think of what it's called... Wrap, duh. Her wrap.

And then I got closer, and I could see the tears. She was crying!! Oh, no!! I ran in, grabbed her by the shoulders and rushed her out, away from the crowd, to a far corner. The whole time I was telling her, "Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry in front of everyone, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay," because I thought she was just having an I-need-my-mommy moment, and maybe she would rather be a big girl in public, but my baby in private, you know?

Plus I didn't want her mascara all over her face in front of everyone. 

Except what I didn't know was, she was hurt! Someone had accidentally just hit her in the throat while they were dancing, but I didn't see that. She was clutching her neck and trying to keep from sobbing, poor thing. I calmed her down, we shook it off, and turned to face the teachers who were coming over to check on her. All was well, I assured them, and then we dashed back out to the car before someone keyed it. I was parked BAD. Not badly. Just BAD.

Otherwise, the dance was great, and she really enjoyed herself! She had asked me if she could have a date if a boy asked her, but I had told her no, she was too young for that. So on the way to the dance, she told me she was hoping that a certain boy would be there. I asked if she liked him. Yes... Did she like him like him? Yes!! Oh, my gosh, my daughter likes a boy!  I have to see this kid. Oh! I just realized, I could check him out in last year's yearbook. Oh, please let him be cute. ;)  I told her that it was all right if she danced with a boy, but absolutely no kissing!

So I found out after, this particular boy was not at the dance, and she was disappointed, but she did dance with two other boys. She even held hands with one - and he's a fourth grader!! I was beside myself. This growing up stuff is crazy. One minute they're saying, "ew, boys are gross," and the next, they're holding hands and dancing. Oh, I could cry just thinking about it. Too late, I am!!

Man. What a big night.

Everyone, especially Mommy, was exhausted when we got home, so the kids went right to bed. And then I did, too. Zzzzzzz

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I know this is really long, and I haven't even done Saturday yet. I thought about breaking it up into two separate posts, but hey, I'm on a roll here. If I stop, I'll probably go take a break and then never come back. So this here is your intermission. You go take a break; I'll be here when you get back. Ready? Go!

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Saturday.

Thank God the kids were up late and were really tired, because I hadn't slept the night before, and I was exhausted. I was barely aware of Rob coming home from work that night, and leaving for work again the next morning. Poor guy. I slept like the dead, for twelve straight hours. Thankfully, the kids slept in, too, so no harm done.

At ten, they woke me up, all excited because Miss Linda was coming. They had seen her on Bunco night, but then they were too involved with Tabitha's puppy and the toys to really pay much attention to her after that. They didn't want breakfast, they didn't want to get dressed - they just wanted Linda!

I was still tired and moving really slowly, so I hadn't gotten any further cleaning done by the time she showed up three hours later. I really didn't care, though. Hope she didn't!

I had an appointment way out in EBF Chesapeake to get to, for picking up the cookies for our troop, so I didn't really chat with her much. I expected to be gone two, maybe three hours, judging from how it went last year.

I was so wrong!! This year's team was super-organized and efficient. I was back home within an hour, and the drive itself took more than 20 minutes. Maybe 25! They asked my troop number, told me where to back up to, and loaded my van. I signed my papers and that was it. I was off!

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Linda offered to help me unload the cookies from the van, and so of course I wasn't about to turn her down. I hope she wasn't just being polite! I carried the boxes from the van to the house, and she and the kids carried them into the office and organized them by type. Last year, they were all jumbled, and it was crazy trying to fill orders. And this isn't even half of them - the rest are on the other side. I ordered 79 cases, so hopefully they'll do well at booth sales. Our first one is this coming Friday night.

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Then she asked me if I wanted this bookshelf that she had in her truck, that a friend was selling. Did I want it? The price was really good, and it's exactly what I have been wanting for their books for ages now! I paid maybe 30% of the cost, and it's in excellent condition. The kids absolutely love it and set right to work filling it with their books. I'm just so excited to have the books out of the cramped cabinet and actually on display for them to see what they have!

Then I shooed Linda away, because the kids and I had a lot of things to go do. Our first stop was to get gas, because both my "change oil" light and "get gas" light were on in the van. Glug, glug, glug, that was a quick pit stop. We drove 'round the corner to the place where I like to get Vanna's oil changed, but they were packed solid. He told me it would be a long wait, so I said, sayonara bitches! Not really, I just said I'd come back Monday morning. No time to waste!

We went back to Target after that, because I hadn't gotten one of my canvas bags, containing a bunch of TP wipes and the catfood my girlies were starving for. Also, the cashier had charged me double for the light bulbs. We took care of that, and then of course all three of the kids needed to use the bathroom. At least it was all taken care of at once this time!

On to Wal-Mart. I did a shopping trip like I've never done before. I brought my entire coupon box, instead of just the ones I needed, because Wal-mart doesn't really run a regular grocery ad (that I know of, anyway), so I had no clue what deals I would find. And I wanted to use up as many of those internet printables as I could. So, we went section by section through my coupon box - except for toiletries and cleaning supplies, which I'm stocking up well on at the drug stores - and spent literally EIGHT HOURS at the store, grocery shopping. We filled FIVE carts, averaging about $200 per cart (before coupons)! 

I only did this for two reasons: our food supply was super-low, and we actually had the money for once to do it. So, it was time to get that stockpile really going. 

The first thing we did was go to the eyecare place. Jack's glasses are all kinds of crooked, and I wanted them to fix 'em. But they were really busy, and I figured we could go back later. I thought we'd be in the store maybe three hours - definitely not eight! Oh, my word.

Then we hit the deli. Jack has been asking for turkey sandwiches for his school lunches, because he has been sick to death of PB&J and refusing to eat them. We haven't had the money for deli meat, so I kept having to tell him, "next time, buddy," when I went shopping. At the deli, we ordered a ton of food. Turkey pastrami for me (four pounds, for freezing, because it's so cheap and I love it so much!), and they let us eat a piece to taste. ChloĆ« loved it, so I'm glad I got the four pounds, because Rob loves it, too. Then I saw the bologna. The kids have never in their lives tried it before, so I had no clue whether they would like it. They tried it; ChloĆ« thought it was disgusting (uh-huh), but Jack and Sophia absolutely loved it. So a pound of that, then ham for Rob, and then some mozzarella (girls' choice) and meunster (mine) to top things off. Yum!

While we were at the deli, my kids made a friend with a little girl they'd never seen before. She was very friendly, and they were instant pals. They played a game of make-believe while their parents all ordered from the deli, and everyone around watched them with sweet smiles on their faces. It was really cute.

I started texting Rob when my cart was half-full, because he was supposed to have gotten off work already, and I knew I would need him to join us at the store. My cart was overflowing, and still no Rob. Hurry, hurry! He finally showed up, but I forgot to have him take Jack to get his glasses fixed, because ChloĆ« really needed to go potty again. She was going to explode, I think! Naturally, all the kids had to go at the same time, again.

I shopped and shopped, coupon by coupon. When Rob first got there, we were in the dairy section. I was buying up all the yogurt in the place; my kids eat it like, well, like it's going out of style! And there were lots of great deals. Good prices, of course, are the only thing that bring me into Walmart. He kept telling me, there was no way I was going to fit it all in the fridge and freezer. We have a deep freezer too, but it's a smallish one. 

"Not going to get it all in."

"Oh, I'll get it in."

Then we went to do the freezer stuff. And the meat. And his cart started overflowing, too. 

"Not going to get it all in."

"Oh, I'll get it in!"

When his cart was full, I sent him and a now-sleeping Sophia to buy that stuff and keep it out in the car - it's cold enough - and then come back and keep shopping. A lady stopped me and said, "Hey, are you selling cookies this year?" I was all, "Huh? Who are you?" and then she explained she was a neighbor who had bought from us last year, and she'd recognized ChloĆ« and then me. We hadn't gotten to her street yet, and she was waiting for us. That was cool. I gave her my number, so hopefully she'll call today and order a bunch!

We kept shopping, and shopping, until all the coupon categories were gone through, and we had four carts full (not including the stuff in the car from the fifth one)! It was quite a trip getting up to the cash register. I sent him to go get six huge bins for storing our stockpile, since all we have is one lousy little pantry that doesn't hold too much. While he was gone, a man in the next line was eyeballing my carts and watching me unload it all. He seemed relieved when I said something to the cashier about my husband bringing another cart, and he said, "Oh, good, I was worried you had done all that by yourself!"

Well, Rob came back after that man left, and then he had to go back and get something else we thought we'd forgotten (but hadn't, and then we bought it twice). The man returned and came up to me, saying, "I came back in to help you, because it's a lot of work..." I told him my husband would be right back, but thank you, that's very sweet!

Rob thought it was creepy. 

I didn't get creepy vibes from him at all, but I coudn't tell if he was hitting on me or just being nice. Was it weird??

Anyway. We spent a buttload of money, but we saved a good deal with all those coupons, too. I apologized to the two women behind us for taking so long, but they were really sweet and wished us a good night. Then began the ordeal of getting everything into the van, the second time it had been packed full that day. My back was absolutely aching, so Rob let me sit it out while he packed it up. When we set off, we started for home and then he remembered his truck! Oops, we hadn't driven over together, so I had to go back.

On the way home, I praised the children up and down for their absolutely wonderful behavior. I mean, eight hours at the grocery store is pretty darn outrageous, but they behaved like absolute angels!! They were so good, and I thanked them and told them I was so proud of them. I could tell they were pleased with themselves.

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The kids, of course, were absolutely starving out of their minds, and they were freezing, too. Especially Jack. He was too cold to walk to the kitchen and had to be carried. Too cold to eat his soup and needed a straw. Poor guy was miserable. I could relate. They all ate a pretty good dinner and then went down to the couch to watch G-Force while we put away groceries. Sophia was wide awake, having napped at the store, but Jack and Chloƫ were out like a light in just a few minutes.

It took three hours, but I filled the six bins and reorganized the whole pantry, so now we have a real, working stockpile. From now on, I can just buy stuff that's free or almost free! Our bins are full, and they are labeled according to what's inside for easy access. I hope this all works out and isn't more trouble than it's worth.

After I put all the dry goods away, Rob finally brought in the cold stuff. My eyes went wide. I had definitely overbought! Definitely.

"You're never going to get it all in."

But guess what?

I got it in.

Fin.

P.S. Yes, I was proud of myself and did the happy dance. It was a lot of work! 
  
 
  


A Little Of The Up, A Little Of The Down

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On Friday night, the Littles watched a movie (we're doing a LOT of that since canceling cable, and they've about gotten the scripts memorized for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and G-Force), so ChloĆ« decided to work on the Valentine's craft kit that her grandmother sent. She was all gung-ho about it, carefully deciding who was on her list to get a Valentine, so she was highly annoyed whenever Jack or Sophia would pop over and want to make a heart, too! I kept having to remind her that Grandma sent the kit for all three of them and not just for her. She didn't like that. Hee.

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She had a good time sticking on glittery hearts. It wasn't until the next night (or maybe Sunday morning, I forget) that I let her crack open the silver glitter glue that came with it, so this is an unfinished masterpiece.

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At bedtime, instead of having me read them a story, the kids wanted to listen to Grandma "read" their new book she recorded. They absolutely love it; I am always hearing it going off, somewhere around the house. And they recite it from memory a lot, too. They love the part where she gets LOUD, and they love the parts where she says their names. This is an excellent gift! 

I couldn't sleep yet again that night, so I stayed up all night, fooling around with this and that. I did a lot of knitting on the kimono and am almost-but-not-quite finished. I'm hoping I WILL finish, but the yarn situation is getting kind of iffy. I'm going to end up with, like, a yard left. I watched the indie movie Bella on Netflix instant play on my computer while I knitted, and I cried my eyes out. Good movie; watch it.

If you have any recommendations for me for instant play on Netflix, let me hear 'em! I think I'm going to be doing a lot of sitting here, watching that and knitting or crocheting, now that the TV is gone. Especially since it's perceptibly much colder to go down the two steps into our living room to watch DVDs there.

I finally went to sleep at something like 0700, only to have Rob wake me up at 0900 and tell me that it was time to go to Jack's Pinewood Derby! I hadn't forgotten, but I was hoping that couple of hours of sleep would feel more like eight. It didn't.

I didn't have time to shower, so I just threw on my coat and went with the family to the church down the road where the Derby was taking place. It's where they have their den meetings, too. Anyway, when Rob told me later that I was a little stinky, I wasn't too offended. (Never fear, I have since showered.)

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Being in the military, of course Rob is a stickler for making sure Jack's uniform is just right. He's always telling me who isn't wearing this or that correctly. 

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There was a lot of checking and double-checking that the track was running properly, before the den races began. Having grown up with all girls, and no brothers, I had no idea what to expect from the track, the race, or any of it. I knew he had a fast car, though, so I was excited! And have I mentioned how proud I am of my husband for knowing how to make such a fast car? Mama didn't raise no foo'.

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 After the Color Guard did the colors and we said the Pledge of Allegiance - you know, because all Boy Scouts events and activities start with that (as do the Girls) - it was time for the Tiger Den to race! Jack's up there in the blue lane. Each car raced in each of the six lanes to account for one lane running fast or slow, and then the lowest score was dropped for each car. Start your engines! (The boys had to shout that for each heat, and Jack nearly lost his voice, he yelled so loud!)

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As the cars sped through the finish line, the blue lane (Jack) was the fastest! Repeat that through all the heats, and Jack won every time!  We had a little speed demon on our hands.

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Jeff, the Pack Leader, called out which cars were on which track before each heat. He was very careful to run a tight race; everything was well-organized and well-planned. A very exciting six hours at the church!

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Kind of hard to see up there, as he's in the purple-on-black, but this is a pic of Jack taking first in yet another heat!

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There was a lot of downtime, and the girls had no interest in watching when Jack's Tiger Den wasn't racing, so it was a smart thing that there were game rooms and a craft room set up during the races. Of course, my crafty little ChloĆ« was all over that like white on rice. She stayed there for most of the day and made friends with the older girls who, fortunately, seemed amused by her and not annoyed. You never know.

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(Gah, that mouth! Those teeth! I can't wait until they're all grown in...) She was so pleased that she figured out how to do this square-stitch sinnet (or whatever you want to call it, I've heard a half-dozen different things). I had never learned to do it before, myself, so I picked up one and worked on it for much of the day, too. Jack laid claim the first one I made, for his backpack, so now I'm working on a second. I tried to do it the spiral way, but it just wouldn't go for me!

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Sophia tried to learn how to do it, too, but she just wasn't ready yet. They also had switchplate crafts there, where the kids could glue on googly eyes, use Sharpies, and glow-in-the-dark paint to make silly plates for their light switches. That was more her speed, and she made two. The second one was covered in differently sized googly eyes, and she calls it "My Monster." Both Jack and ChloĆ« made one, too. Funny, I haven't gotten any pictures of those... and now ChloĆ«'s is ruined.

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Oh, I forgot I had this pic. Here's Jack making his switchplate while the older boys raced their cars.

At noon or so, we broke for lunch. They had sandwiches on croissants, chips, soda/water/juice, fruit salad, and cookies. These Scouts don't mess around, they really put on a spread! We Girl Scouts only wish we had the budget the Boys have! (The Girl Scouts seem to be a bit more apathetic about fundraising, though, at least the ones I'm involved with...)

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Of course, all the kids had to stick their heads through the Derby display where Jeff was taking pictures of all the boys. Sophia's eyes are wide set, but they look really far apart to me in this instance!

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Before the Pack races for the top 1 and 2 finishers in each Den, Jeff awarded the Den trophies. Here are the standings (there are 8 boys, but they didn't all show up on the screen at once) for the Tigers - with our boy in first place! He was SO excited to get a trophy!

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All grins as Jeff awards his first-place trophy

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The first thing he did was look for his name... which of course wasn't on the trophy. He didn't seem too upset about it, though. Phew.

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A genuine smile from Jack - always hard to capture on camera!

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And a not-so-genuine-but-totally-hilarious grin! This one cracks me up every time I look at it. Silly boy.

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After the Den trophies were awarded, it was time to run the overall Pack races for the top 2 finishers from each Den. The Boy Scout in charge of starting each heat looks totally thrilled, right? Three Boy Scouts came to help out with our Derby. 

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And here's where the "down" part of the blog post title comes in: Jack was in the orange lane, and you can see he had the fastest time yet again. He was all set to win at least second place, if not first, for the whole Pack.  Unfortunately, there was nothing at the end of the track, and his car sped right off the end and broke.  A wheel and a piece of the wood snapped off the car. There was a hush in the crowd - because EVERYONE WAS WATCHING JACK'S CAR, and they were calling him "District Jack" - as we realized what had happened. Rob solemnly went over and picked up the car to see what was white, while the crowd waited. 

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Someone quickly produced some super glue, and then some other kind of glue, for Rob to fix the car. It was a few strained moments for Team Odette as Jack peered on while Daddy doctored up his car. I felt like crying; he was doing so well and then this! 

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It became more tense in the crowd, as the minutes wore on. A controversy over how much time would be allowed started, with one mother shouting at Jeff to move on, and Jeff saying no, "We're dealing with kids, here," and telling her, basically, to pipe down. (She apologized to me later, having thought there was no way the car was salvageable.)

Rob had designed the car to run on three wheels, and it was the "up" wheel that fell off, so the next heat after it broke, he ran it on just three wheels. It came in last, and my heart sunk. Then he tried gluing the wheel back on, but now it was running on all four wheels and, for the rest of the Pack races, it consistently came in fourth or fifth in each heat. We were defeated. It wasn't to be. Aw, too bad, so sad. But, because he won for his Den, we're still going to Districts next month - and Rob's positive he can fix it by then! (Actually, he already has, so we shall see... we shall see.)

Jack wasn't too upset about the car, because he had already won a trophy, but then he saw the Pack winners getting their second trophies. He wanted to know why he didn't also get a second trophy, and I had to explain it all to him, then. That's when I could see his little heart breaking, and he fell into my arms and sobbed. I lifted him up and let him cry into my shoulder for a good five minutes, while everyone around us looked on sadly. I teared up a little, myself. Poor boy. He's right, it wasn't fair, but no one was to blame. I told him this, and he said, "It's Jeff's fault!" which earned a chuckle from his mama. He's quick to assign blame where it is not due, that one.

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On the way home, though, he cheered up, although he refused to hold his trophy until I said I wanted all three of the kids' trophies downstairs on the mantel. He wasn't sure what a mantel was yet, but he realized how proud I was of him - of all of them - when I told them I wanted to put the trophies on display so we could see them every day and remember what a great job they had all done! Sophie ran and fetched both soccer trophies, and they all beamed with pride when I put them up there. One of them - I forget who - declared breathlessly that they looked beautiful up there.

I fell asleep when we got home, so Rob ended up making mac & cheese for the kids and sending them to bed. I woke up later, ate a little pizza with The Bob, and that was it for Saturday night. I had wanted to go to church, but we got a lot more snow during the Derby, and the roads were miserable. 

I woke up on Sunday morning and took care of the kids, and I hate to admit, but it never occurred to me to go to church, because we always go on Saturday nights! Another week missed. Gah.

I spent a crazy amount of time cutting the tons and tons of coupons in this week's paper (times two, since I get two Sunday papers now) and working out the deals I want to get at the drug stores and Target (which is the big winner by far for the week). I won't go out until Friday when the tax refund comes in, so stay tuned for the weekly deals!

At two, I had to take ChloĆ« to her Troop Leader's house for a special meeting. This Wednesday night is Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts, so they had to work on all their swaps for that event. The Littles watched Bolt on my computer while I was gone, although I only dropped her off and then picked her up about three hours later when she called. She sounds so little and cute on the phone, but it's hard to understand her since she has a squeaky voice!

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I had promised Rob I'd make dinner if he cleaned up the kitchen, so I started on that after picking ChloĆ« up from her meeting. Nothing too fancy. I baked some chicken breasts in my Pampered Chef stone baker, with herbed butter; it turned out yummy. And then just some rice and corn. The kids all turned their noses up at first, although Rob and I really liked it. Then we added a bit of soy sauce to their rice, and they all ate pretty well after that!

Such has been our weekend. I think I'm going to work on finishing up that kimono, so I can post pictures of it for you tomorrow. Off to peruse Netflix for something to watch!

Fin. 


  
  
 
  

 
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 


On The Run

Monday was a busy day.

After the kids got on the bus, I had to shower and get dressed right away for my first doctor's appointment at the Navy base. It was for my referral to plastic surgery to get abdominoplasty. The doc was really pleased with my progress since the last time he saw me; he seemed just as excited about the change in me as I am, and he congratulated me at least five times!

He did caution me that they might not approve the referral, and that they might not pay for the surgery. The latter, I was certainly prepared for, but I was kind of surprised I might not even get the consult! I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I call in and see.

I stopped at the post office after that to mail a couple of Christmas packages. I waited behind several people at the APC who had no idea how to use the thing. Really? If 50 people are waiting behind you, you can't ask someone for help with the machine instead of making us wait for an hour behind your dumb ass? Annoying. Those other people were probably all on their too-short lunch hours, too!

After that, I saw Dr. P., who prescribes my bipolar meds. I asked him about getting my meds while we're living on the boat. Basically, he told me that when people have certain health issues, such as mine, they need to put their health above all else. And that if I didn't come see him after three months to get my medicine, I would no longer be his patient - and that no doctor in good conscience would prescribe me the meds for a year or more at a time. And that, basically, I shouldn't go live on a boat and travel the world. So that sucks. But, we'll find a way to do this... we will. I have faith.

While I was out and about, one of Sophie's teachers called to tell me that a parent had drawn her name for a prize, and that I needed to come and pick it up. She made it sound like there was a pile of gifts, a LOT of stuff, that couldn't be carried home on the bus. I went to the school after seeing Dr. P., and I was amused when it turned out to be one small bag of clothes! Not that I'm not grateful - I am, I really am! - but it was funny that I was expecting to need help loading the van with all of her prizes!

Later that night, she modeled all of her clothes (it was already dark out, so we had to do it inside in yucky light, sorry):

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This outfit, from The Children's Place, was her favorite. She wore it today, and she looked so cute! You like Tiger Lily's butt in the picture?

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Same jeans, because she didn't want to change them, with another Children's Place sweater. I really like the sweater on her; it looks great!

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This little blue dress looked pretty cute on her, too. (Except for the sleeves; I think they look stupid.) She blinked massively even before the flash went off, in anticipation!

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This little outfit was also quite nice, but it's a size 5 and too big for her. Especially the waist on the pants. I'll give them to ChloĆ«, who they'll fit for the length, and pin up the waistband if they aren't adjustable. 

So that was nice, right? I don't even know whom to send the thank-you note too, because the teacher wouldn't tell me. So thank you, mystery parent!

After the school, I went home and made a bunch of phone calls before finishing the last of the three scarves I knit to sell for the CARE Package fundraiser. I already took that page off the site, so no more of those scarves! 
 
Then I took a nap until the bus came. I was tired! Naps rule. 

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A package from Grandma - Rob's mom - arrived just before the kids came home. They all gathered around eagerly to see what it was!

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It turned out to be 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, with a recording of the book read by Grandma! The kids didn't know that part yet, though. Upon seeing that it was a book, and not a truck or some car, Jack growled, "I don't want that!" and stomped away. But not long after, he stole back into the office to look at the book, and that's when he discovered that it "speaks" to him! He loved it. I kept turning around and watching him surreptitiously, as he turned the pages back and forth, back and forth, to hear the story read again and again. It was so sweet.

No one has homework this week, so the kids were pretty antsy and into everything, driving me a little crazy. I was relieved when Rob came home from work around 1800!

Jack and I went out to do a little shopping, since I'd found more great deals and steals on those blogs I told you about the other day. We went to CVS again, but they were out of the main item I wanted, a free $9 bottle of contact solution. I really need the solution, so I'll have to go again another day. I did get a free tube of Bonne Bell lip smacker in Cotton Candy for ChloĆ«, though. Every time I turn around, she's putting more on her lips!

Then we went down the road to the nearest Walgreen's. They were out of some more stuff I wanted, but they did have a few things. Including Hot Wheels cars for 49Ā¢ apiece, a great price. The limit was 10, so I bought 10 to stock up. I decided at that price, I will add that to the list of things the kids (namely Jack) can spend their Dad Dollars on, to keep them earning "money"!

We went to Food Lion next, to get milk and eggs and the three things I had free product coupons for: 7-Up, coffee, and chocolate chips. A weird assortment of things, but we can use all of those, and who doesn't like free? 

Another stop at the P.O. to mail more packages and expired coupons to overseas military after that.

I really wanted the super-cheap John Freida hair products the first Walgreens didn't have, so we drove to the next closest one down the road. Good thing there are lots of Wags stores in our area! They had the John Freida stuff, so I'm going to give them a try tonight when I take my shower, since I'm just about out of my other stuff and, well, I can't wait! I love new stuff. And I got 10 more of the 49Ā¢ cars for Jack's stash.  He was in a highly excited state, like a little valance electron, over the idea of having 20 new Hot Wheels cars in his possession. Did he want to carry that bag? Of course he did.

Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

Sophia had napped the whole time we were gone, and for another hour past it, so she was up 'til about 0100 with me last night. That was fun. Not.

This morning, at the bus stop, Jack puked all over his shoes just before the bus was due to arrive. Yippee! Guess who didn't go to school today? Another mom volunteered to stay with the girls, so I could take him home. Poor thing, he had told me that his belly was upset, and I told him to "go take a good poop" when he got to school (because he said he had to go), and he'd be fine. Hahaha! And then the puking started. I'm such a good mom.

At home, he was more like his normal self, other than having a bunch of upset tummy poop. He took a long nap, and so I did the same. It was nice napping with my boy. He can be such a pill sometimes, but when he's sweet, he's very, very sweet.

For the rest of today, he has been doing little chores like sweeping up the dog hair downstairs (always a job in need of doing) and putting all the shoes away in the big shoe box, to earn Dad Dollars for buying those Hot Wheels. Between last night and today, I think he bought eight! I may have to raise the price...

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When the girls got off the bus, Sophie's nose was painted red for Rudolph, and ChloĆ« was toting two gift bags, from one from each of her teachers. She - and Soph - were excited about the candy the bags contained, but even more fun were the pencils with her name on them! She gets a lot of joy out of stuff like that.

All afternoon, for more than three hours, all three babies snoozed on the couch. It was good for me, because before then, they had been squabbling nonstop and driving me up a wall. I hate it when they fight a little bit, but when they won't stop quarreling for ages, it makes me want to shoot myself to stop hearing it!

So that's it. The kids are out of school now for the Winter Break, and Rob only has to work until 1100 or so tomorrow. And then, on Thursday, we go to Great Wolf Lodge! We can't wait. Now to find their bathing suits... guess tomorrow will be spent packing.

If I don't come back before then, have a very merry Christmas!!

Fin. 
 
  


Switch!

We learned this song in music class in elementary school: "I am slowly going crazy, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - Switch!" Did you?

So both the crazy part and the switch part fit, in that this was another crazy evening, and I have switched something pretty insignificant but nonetheless mentioned here several times: My shower! Y'all might remember that I ā™„ taking cold showers? Well, no longer! I have switched over to taking steaming hot showers. I don't know if it's because the weather changed, and I'll go back in the late Spring, or if it's because I get cold so easily now, but yeah. Hot showers for me!

Anyway, who cares? I only mentioned it because I needed a blog title. Hee.

I slept all day again today. Well, almost, it was after 1 when I woke up. I hadn't meant to do that, but it doesn't really matter, because I had nothing but more cleaning on my plate today. I think I'll do some later this evening... And I only woke up when I did because the Schwan's guy rang the doorbell. I was annoyed and foggy-headed, so I didn't even answer the door. I didn't want anything anyway, and he always tries to talk me into something. Can't stand that.

So, I promised bootie pictures:

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I had planned on using clothespins to take a cute picture of the socks hanging from a tree branch, but I dug through all my yarn bins, where I know I put them, and couldn't find them. Okay, so I only pawed through the top three bins, and it's probably in one of the bottom three. So here they are on our front porch. Or stoop. Whatever it is.

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So here they are! Aren't they cute? I messed up and made the cuff 5 cm instead of the prescribed 4 cm, but I figure that'll just help them stay up on widdle Baby Luke's legs better. Can you believe he's already a month old?!

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Other than the cuff, I made no modifications to the pattern, other than to screw up the toe decreases on the second sock. It's minor, though, and I don't think baby boy - or his mother - will notice. (But if you do, tell me!)

And so they went. Hopefully I'll cast on for the pants before the weekend, knock them out before he grows out of them, and be on to something else. I'm ready for a new project!

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While I was taking pictures of the socks, my reward package from the Nielsen Homescan program arrived, and I figured, what the hell? I'll throw pics of those on the ol' blahg, too. This here is a little something I redeemed my Homescan points for baby Luke. I'm calling it his Christmas present, although I'll give it to Steph as soon as I see her next, so he can start playing with it right away.

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And this was a little somethin'-somethin' I picked up for Tiger Lily: a chew/pull toy by Coleman. Jack wanted to throw it around for her this afternoon, so I let him give it to her early instead of for Christmas. She seemed to like it. It held her interest, but only as a throw toy. When he stopped, she ignored it. But she's never been huge on toys, at least since she was a puppy. Seems pretty durable, though. If you want to become a Nielsen Homescan panelist, let me know and I'll hook you up with some linkage. They have decent rewards, and the points accrue quickly.

As I mentioned earlier, this afternoon & evening were crazy. Here was the schedule:

3:00 - 4:15 Math tutoring after school for Chloƫ

4:00 - 5:00 Brownies meeting for Chloƫ

4:30 - 5:30 Soccer practice, for Chloƫ!

5:00 - 8:00 Book Fair Family Night at school

6:00 - 8:00 Soccer party for Sophia

7:00 - 9:00 Cub Scout meeting for Jack

Well, we didn't make all of that, obviously. Some thing(s) had to go. At first, the only thing I crossed off was Chloƫ's soccer practice, since that's twice a week, PLUS a game on Saturdays, and other stuff is less frequent.

And so at 1600, the Littles and I went off to school to pick up Curls from tutoring and take her to Brownies. We didn't get there until 1630, so she missed half the meeting. I can't wait until this soccer bullshit business is over, and we can get back to our regularly scheduled lives! Not that it hasn't been fun. It has. It's just very take-overy, time-wise!

At the meeting, the girls spent time planning their holiday party. They're going to cook for us and entertain us, just like last year, so it should be fun. I let the Littles play outside while I talked to the parents about the soon-to-end Fall Product sale, and then I chit-chatted. I completely and totally forgot that I had two small children playing outside, in the near dark!!! OMG, as soon as I remembered, I raced outside to check on them. They were playing exactly where I told them to, calmly and mostly quietly, and were just fine. But dang, did I give myself a heart attack! Stupid, stupid, me.

One of the moms, who also had weight loss surgery before I did, gave me a bag of her grown-out clothes. I can't wait to try them on! I gave away my clothes to a different, pre-surgery? Brownies mom, so what goes around, comes around, I guess!

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From Brownies, we raced over to the school to get in some Book Fair time before the soccer party. My plan was to let each of the kids pick out a special book, and then I was going to choose a book for each of them for Christmas, from their wish lists. And that's what we did. Sophie chose a Barbie book with stickers, Jack chose a Cars book about Mater, and ChloĆ« picked something about Bad Kitty. I forget what it's called, but it's a chapter book. Then I sent them away to look at other stuff while I picked their Christmas gifts. And I got a few 99Ā¢ stocking stuffers at the counter. ChloĆ« saw me picking them out, the little stinker.

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While we waited a few minutes for the door prize drawing - which we have won in the past but not this time - the kids harrassed Midnight the Panther, their school mascot. Sophie has historically been afraid of him, but not anymore! She was all over the poor blue beast.

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We rushed clear to hell and gone for the soccer party at Chuck E Cheese, arriving only a few minutes late thanks to traffic. The kids played for 20 minutes or so before Coach corralled them to the table to eat their cake and get their trophies and certificates. None of the parents would move out of the freaking way so I could take a decent picture, so here's what you get - the side of Sophie's head and another parent's sleeve.

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Yay, Sophie gets a trophy too!! She was so excited about it - much more so than soccer itself - and kept canoodling with it during the party.

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The soccer cake - and is that Sophie eating her own cake, or a bite out of the main cake? Gosh, I hope it was the former, but knowing her...!

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Soap pausing for a picture with her coach. Isn't he a cutie?

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Sophie's soccer trophy, yay!

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Our pizza took forever to come (yeah, they had cake first. Not my idea. Silliness), so I launched each of the kids into the play zone with their own cup of tokens. I only gave them five or ten at a time, so they wouldn't go crazy. It's a good thing, because once, I saw Sophie handing hers out to some other, random kids, and another time, I saw a little girl come along and dip into Chloƫ's cup. Um, no. My tokens!!

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Sophie being Sophie

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And a typical Chloƫ pose

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Jack had a lot of fun tonight, and he scored the most tickets by far. One time, he came up holding a five foot long stretch of tickets from one token! I couldn't believe it.

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This little teammate shares the same name as my kiddo, so they often buddied up together on and off the field.

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No clue who this kid was. Jack just totally usurped his ride. He kept doing it to other kids, too. Every time I turned around, there he'd be, on this "ride"with some strange kid!

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Jack was pretty pissed when I made them stop and come eat some pizza. "I don't WANT any pizza!" But when I told him he had to eat or I wouldn't give him any more tokens, well, boy howdy, he gobbled that whole piece down pretty quickly!

And then my camera died, so no more pictures. Really, how many do you need from CEC?

Oh, and both Jack and Sophie decided they wanted their next birthdays there (oh, yay), so I guess I'll try and throw them a joint one at the beginning of April or something. Of all the places...

By the time we got out of there, and would have made it to Cub Scouts, there would only have been about a Ā½-hour left, so we decided to skip it. Plus it was late, and ChloĆ« still had a ton of homework! What the hell, she is eight, not sixteen!

We did Jack's homework, while I baked cookies for tomorrow's lunch snack, and sent the Littles upstairs for a shower before bed. Then Chloƫ, who had already done her language and spelling homework, sat with me to do her science work. We breezed through that pretty quickly, but only because I stayed right on top of her. Otherwise, she would have fooled around for an extra hour or two. That kid!

And so ends our busy Thursday night. I'm going to go clean up. And then maybe cast on for Luke's trousers. And then...

Slowly going crazy am I, 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, Switch!

Fin.


P.S. According to Chloƫ, she only missed three on her math test! yay!

P.P.S. Unbeknownst to me, she also had a science test today. We didn't study for that, but she says she thinks she got those all right. We shall see, Mom can dream, right?


Let's Hear It For The Boy

I don't run. I don't believe in running. It's against my religion, except for exactly two cases: Someone bad is chasing me, or I'm about to miss a bus.

On Friday morning, I had to run.

For the latter reason, thank goodness, but still. Me running, with my shorts riding up on my thighs and boobs a-bouncin', is not a pretty sight. Or feeling.

And thus began my day.

The kids made the bus, and then Jack and I turned around and went home to get in Vanna and ride to his appointment with Jan, the physical therapist at the Pediatric Neurodevelopment clinic. She was going to fit his legs and feet for the braces he'll be wearing at night, to stretch his Achilles tendon.

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We waited just a short time before Jan called him in. He played awhile while she and I talked about him, and about the four years that have passed since she last saw him for his late walking (20 months) and subsequent tip-toeing. She was so amazed at how he's grown long and skinny, and how he talks now (he was also in speech therapy back then, for his muteness)! Then it was time to make the casts, which will make the molds, which will make the braces.

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He asked about a million questions during the procedure, during which Jan put socks on him to keep the fiberglass cast from sticking to him. The yellow thing was just a guide for cutting it off him without cutting him. She deemed his questions - not just about the braces but also about all the wheelchairs and other equipment in her room -  to be very smart, saying she has 25-year-olds who don't think to ask those things! She thought he was very intelligent and was surprised to hear there had been a chance he might be retained in kindergarten. Her thoughts? That he's advanced and was just bored! I don't know, but it'll be interesting to see what happens when he's tested for "gifted" later this year.

Jack's braces 3

Making the casts didn't take long at all, and at the end, he was happy to post with his "legs". They looked enormous compared to him, but she assured me they'll fit just fine.  (And you can see here how crooked his glasses have gotten; I really need to take him in and get them adjusted.)

{Side note: when we did his homework the other night, he was able to read all the color words in the instructions, without help. Yay, Jack!}

The whole appointment didn't last terribly long, and we were home by 1100. I decided to make him lunch at home, and he wanted scrambled eggs. He quickly scarfed two and asked for two more, which he barely ate. (Lucky for the dog, who hardly ever gets treated to table scraps.) He sucked down some milk, and then we were off to school!

Well.

At school, my happy boy turned into a different creature. A clinging, crying, bashful little creature. His daily routine had been disrupted, and now he didn't want to go to school at all. He wanted to stay home with Mommy. The guidance counselor, Ms. Henry, came down to talk to him, and the security desk person, Ms. Woods, tried enticing him out of my arms with colorful pencils and other treats. He refused to budge. In the end, I had to kiss and hug him good-bye and push him off down the hall with Ms. Henry. He was sobbing. It was awfully hard.

Then I made a big mistake.

Home-snack-pouch

You see, I have used three Wrap-n-Mats for a couple years now, when I pack lunches and what-not, and they are really great for cutting disposable waste. I love them. So now that I have three lunches to pack, I ordered three more to have on hand. On the first day of school, with a reminder every day thereafter, I talked to the kids about making sure not to throw the mats away. (And as an aside, I really want to get some of the snack pouches when I can afford them, too!) Two or three days into school, Sophia's mat came up missing. I asked her about it, and she said her teachers had taken it away from her. Wha? So, anyway, after calling unsuccessfully to find out if they had the mat at school, I decided to stop in after taking Jacky to school, to see if it was there. I needed my mat, y'all.

Big mistake.

Sophie was ecstatic to see me. Though she's come home happy every day from school, I've been forgetting to post here that she's also said she's cried every day, wanting to be with me. (Breaks my heart.) She ran into my arms, hugging and cooing, and wouldn't let go, even after I determined from her teacher that they didn't have the mat. She sobbed when I tried to leave. Much coaxing, again, was needed for my child to let go that day. It was awful.

I was so stupid to go in there the first week, while she was still adjusting. Dumb dumb dumb! I should have waited. Poor thing.

So I went home and felt awful for the next long time, about both my children. I called and talked to Ms. Henry, who said Jack was fine after I left, and all the children greeted him at his classroom. And she checked on him later at lunch, and he was all grins and smiles. I'm sure Sophie was fine too, but still, it weighed on me.

Later, I got a call from someone at Harris Teeter, wanting to schedule an interview! I am going in at noon on Monday. I'm not really nervous about it - as I shouldn't be - except for the nose ring thing. I can NOT get it out. It won't budge. Shee-it.

Shwans truck

The Schwan's guy had come Thursday night, but I hadn't put an order in (not in months, actually), so we didn't get anything. But I took a catalog and flipped through it, deciding it was time to restock the deep freezer. I called up our guy, and he agreed to deliver the order a few hours later! Sweet. And thank goodness for their delayed payment program, because I needed it this time.

While I waited for him to arrive, I cleaned out the freezer, deep freezer, and part of the fridge, taking stock of what we already had on hand. (I also did the dishes and cleaned out the dishwasher. Gotta be productive after napping Tues-Weds-Thurs!) Then I got my notebook and made a menu plan for the rest of September, to make sure we would have enough to eat. I never do this. It will surely help, not only in not running short, but in making life easier without having to think about what to make for dinner. I'm already liking it.

When Rob came home, he was excited to tell me the news: He'd been taking his motorcycle class on Thursday and Friday, and he passed this time!! The road test too!! He still needs to take the DMV road test, but this is great. Can I get a "Yay, Bob!"?

Soccer

We got the girls dressed up in their soccer uniforms, and I took Sophie to her practice while Rob drove the other two to Chloƫ's. Jack wanted to be with his dad. Sophia must have been really tired, because she mostly just stood around with her thumb in her mouth, twiddling her hair, while the other girls played and ran drills. When she wasn't doing that, she was running around the field on her own, not listening or paying attention. I was thinking, great, he's going to think she's such a pain in the ass!

I wanted to gauge his opinion of Sophie so far, so I talked to Coach after practice about getting her used to playing soccer and what we can do to help her. He wasn't off-put by her behavior at all, having coached four-year-olds for several years and seeing the same in even his own daughters. So that was a relief, and I got lots of good pointers, too. Plus he's giving me a pair of cleats in her size that he can't use anymore. She already has some, but a spare pair can never hurt!

She played on the playground for a few minutes, and then we went home to start dinner. To make things simple - because I hadn't prepared Jack for what we would be eating, and he needs some forewarning to get used to the idea - I just popped in a Schwan's frozen pizza. We had some of their frozen apple blueberry cobbler still from the last time, so I decided to use that for dessert. Everyone ate well, including The Boy, and there were four single-serve cobblers in the box, so everybody got one. Only, nobody liked it! Rob ended up eating all of them while I gave the kids ice cream. Hee. Won't be ordering that again... ;)

Stay tuned for Saturday's update!

Fin.

P.S. We found that missing lunch mat today, under the kitchen table. Whoops.


A Return To Freedom

So now that I have Vanna back, of course we need to take advantage of it and not sit at home, right? Right. Plus, the air conditioning repair guys arrived at 0900 to take out our old, crappish air handler and replace it with a sleek new version (I really have no idea if it was sleek or not - I didn't see it - but that sounded like a good word), so I wanted to get the kids right out of the house and out of their way.

Our first stop was to the library down the street. Chloƫ has been begging me to take her, so we could do their summer reading program. No sooner did we jump out of the van than some carpenter-types hollered over to us that the libe was closed until sometime in September. Well, shoot.

So we ran over to the adjoining playground (Tabblo above) to let the kids burn off some steam. I mostly sat on a bench in the shade and took pictures; it was too dang hot to do much else. They didn't seem to mind and pushed each other on the swings for once. It was a good time. When they started complaining of the heat, we left.

Next, we drove to Central Library on the Boulevard. I've been past it dozens - if not hundreds - of times but have never actually gone in. Woo, it's nice. And big! I spoke to the kids repeatedly about proper library behavior, but somehow they still managed at times to be loud and to run. Argh. No one else seemed to mind but me, though.

Inside, I renewed my card and then, to his utmost joy, got one for Jack. "I'm old enough to have a card now?!" he squeaked. Of course, he doesn't own a wallet, so the card currently lives in Chloƫ's purse... We went upstairs to the children's section, and they had a blast picking out all sorts of books they wanted to read. I capped them at three apiece, reminding them that we would be back next week. I hope to make this a regular Monday thing, or so.

Then I got my own books. I picked A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I'm thinking KR will be first, since it was written first, but I have yet to crack open either. After some knitting (I haven't been knitting in days, since I didn't want to sweat all over the lovely yarn), that is.

(I italicized those book titles instead of underlining, by the way, because otherwise TypePoop was underlining the entire paragraph, and I couldn't fix it.)

Then we headed to a certain ghetto mall in Norfolk to do a certain pretzel store mystery shop. The kids were again running and yelling, and making me look like the most ineffective mother ever. I tried not to mind, but I did. Anyway, we got to the pretzel place, and there was a no-credit-cards sign on the counter. Guess what? All I had were my CCs. So that shop didn't happen and we wasted that time and gas. Dismay all around.

I'd gotten my monthly text message from Redbox with the free Monday code, so I promised the kids if they behaved at the post office, then we could rent a couple movies. I had two thick envelopes to mail to overseas Navy bases with expired coupons, and they did behave.

When we were finished and about to go to the Redbox, Steph called or I called her, I forget - and we decided the kids and I would drive out to see her and her nieces in Chesapeake instead. I put it to a vote, and they unanimously chose to go see "Auntie Stevie." One of them, I forget whom, asked, "Can you come with us, too?" No, kid, I was going to hand over the keys and wave you off...

We stopped home so I could get my knitting, and the AC guys were standing in our driveway with their shirts off, drinking Gatorade. Apparently it was 1,000Āŗ in our attic, poor guys. I'd thought they were almost finished when we'd left three hours earlier, but not quite.  Anyway, I got my stuff, and we headed to East You-Know-Where.

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This cutie is Steph's 2yo niece, Carolynn (sorry if I spelled that wrong, S). She was napping when we arrived but woke up shortly after for some lunch. She's so adorable and playful; I just ā™„ her!

The kids all got along well and played for a couple hours while Steph and I chatted and discussed about a certain knitted abomination she'd received. I still say she should accidentally knock over a candle onto it...

When my kids kept begging Steph for some food, I knew it was time to head home to feed them! No sooner did I put the kid music on for them than Sophie and Jack knocked out. Chloƫ spent the long ride reading her library books to herself. I stopped at Redbox before home and rented them three movies, and I was chagrined to find Rob still not home from work at 1800. That's a long day for him, and I missed him.

The AC was blowing hard when we came in - but the guys didn't shut the kitchen windows, so it was a huge waste!! Argh. I got those closed, made the kids some quick (yes, Trader Joe's) mac & cheese for dinner, and settled in myself with some yummy TJ hummus. Rob finally arrived, and quickly konked out. As I type, he's dead to the world on the floor behind me...

Oh, and I got a call today about doing some daycare for three kids starting later this month: a 3yo, 5yo and 9yo. They happen to live right across the street, so the mom came over to hash out hours, prices and other terms with me. She's really nice; ChloĆ« and I sold her cookies earlier this year, so she knew me as "the Girl Scout mom."  I lowballed myself on the weekly fee, but it's really not that many hours, and every little bit will help. She's a single mother, so I quoted her a price lower than I normally would have. I start on the 24th!

And that's our Monday. Hope your week is off to a good start!

Fin.


Memorial Day Weekend

We've had a busy few days, filled with lots of mystery shops. I think I'm done with those for the rest of the month, so I'll have a good little break before they start up again in June. Here's a bit of what we've been up to:

Friday

Rob had the day off! Yay, that always makes me so happy. He still had to go in the morning, but only for a dentist appointment.  I primped, coloring my hair, while he was gone, and I like the results. Nothing worth showing, though - I stuck with my usual auburn, just a different brand.

We parents and the Littles (ChloĆ« was still at school) went to our appointment with Jack's teacher, occupational therapist, special services provider, and the Veep at the school at 1400. The meeting lasted about an hour, and covered his IEP goals met for this year and new plans for next. There was lots of good news. He has made great strides since the beginning of the year and especially since Spring Break, when we've really been working a lot harder at home, too. Everyone was just gushing over him. So he's dropping down to once a week - instead of two - with the OT, but keeping the Ā½-hr per day with Special Ed. He's getting an extra 15 minutes to complete assignments and tests, even for the gifted testing later next year.

What's that, you say? Gifted testing for someone in special ed? Yep, students can be twice exceptional, both gifted and disabled. Which brings us to Chloƫ. You may remember she's in the gifted program at school. She's an awesome little reader, has always been highly capable verbally. But as for math... she just doesn't get it. It isn't clicking. There have been lots of frustrating moments for all of us, lots of tears for her. So we discussed it at the meeting, and next year when she's 8, we're going to have her tested for a math learning disability. It won't surprise me at all if she is... twice exceptional, that is.

By the end of the meeting, school was letting out for the day, so we ran to the front of the building to intercept her before she got on the bus and came home to an empty house. We found her, phew. She was SO excited to see us there. It's always a little thrilling for me to see that much joy on one of my kids' faces.

Afterward, I ran to the bank to deposit a few mystery shopping paychecks and the donation to CARE Package from ASIS Pharmacy, to the grocery to return our free Redbox movie, and then dropped everyone off at home. I had to run to do a carwash mystery shop. I was pleased to get that one, because we have long needed to clean out the inside of the car - and that was included in the $14 reimbursement! So for free, I got someone else to do it. Joy.

When I finished, I picked everyone up at home to sprint to the airport for a dinner shop at a chain seafood restaurant. (I'm trying not to name names of the businesses I do anymore, in case they search and find my blog! But if you want to know, shoot me a comment and I'll share.) The timeframe was extremely limited, so we had to hurry and get up there. Well, the dinner absolutely sucked. It was by far the worst meal evaluation and report I have ever done, and that's out of hundreds. It wasn't the food but the service that was abyssmal.

We came home and, that night, I had to do my monthly online charity thing with my crochet buddies. I had to host the first two hours, which I never do. Usually I'm in the wee hours, so for once I had a roomful of guests instead of the sparse attendance to which I'm accustomed. It was lots of fun, and I stayed there until the wee hours anyway, hoping to win a chance at the big monthly prize. (I didn't win.) I maybe shouldn't have, because it has really thrown off my sleeping plans.

Saturday

I was supposed to get up bright and early for a breakfast shop at Sonic (so much for not naming names), but I had to reschedule. Way too tired to drive at that point. Back to sleep!

But not for long, because we had to take Tiger Lily to the vet for a mystery shop. It was an excellent visit; the vet was awesome with both the kids and the dog. And the white patches that she's had on her muzzle for about three years now, which the breeder told us was "Tidewater Itch," a fungus? (She's been to the vet in that time, but not for that...)The vet declared that her skin was absolutely fine, and that the change in color is due to aging! She's only 5Ā½, so subtract three years from that, and we never would have guessed that. But he says he sees it in 2-year-old larger dogs all the time, and anyway, she never scratches or anything. What a relief!! I'm still overjoyed that that is the case, although I am sorry there's nothing we can do about the discoloring of her pretty face. Oh well, it's not like she was ever going to be a show dog!

When we got home, I needed a nap, and I slept for hours. Guess what Rob did with the kids in the meantime?

He took them FISHING! At the lake behind our house. Do you think he took the camera? Nope! For their first fishing expedition, I have not one single picture, nor did I get to experience it in person. Major bummer for me. But they had a fantastic time, and are still happily telling me that they caught 8 fish: two crappie and 6 catfish. None were keepers, so it was just for fun. Not for the fish...!

Sunday

That morning, after lots of sleeping on Saturday, I was able to get up and do that breakfast mystery shop. I went home and snoozed some more, because why not?

I had to get moving again in the afternoon, though, because I had four more shops to do.  I took everyone with me. We had another Sonic shop, so they shared that food. I'm not eating it. Well, maybe one tater tot... but that's it!

We drove out to MacArthur mall for the next two shops. There are lots of jobs located there, but I rarely go unless I'm going to be reimbursed for the parking fee. (Paying for parking at the mall drives me crazy.) I still wasn't, but since I was able to stack two jobs together for the same day and time, for two different companies, I decided to take them.

The first was at a kids' shoe store. I took Chloƫ this time, instead of Jack. They did a horrible job. The next was at a candle shop, where I'm using the required candle purchase for a Bunco prize. I picked all beach-themed scents, which is appropriate for our town, I think. Back to the shoe store for the return portion, and then we left before Gymboree called my name. I passed by several stores selling Webkinz, but I resisted. It's not hard when you don't have the money, anyway.

We had a dinner shop right after that. It was a last-minute assignment, but I took it because it's for fast pay, within the week, and because Rob loves that place. They did a great job, and our meal was excellent. And that was our entire day.

Monday

No shops on the agenda for today. I had originally scheduled one for Rob at McDonald's at the base where he works, and he was happy to go do it, but I canceled it. I didn't want him to have to "work" on his day off, and I really didn't want to be away from him.

I did have to go over to the Brownies troop leader's house to go over the year-end financial report. I spent an hour-and-a-half figuring and refiguring, and we are still off by a dollar! Which is fine, we won't get in trouble with the council for that or anything, but we do want to find it and fix it. Can't do anything about it until the bank opens tomorrow, because neither one of us ever got that month's statement. We signed Chloƫ and me up for next year, too. Her registration is free, because she earned the pass from cookie sales. Go, Chlo! And the troop is paying for mine, because Nikki "voluntold" me to be the Fall Product Chair, Cookie Chair, and Troop Treasurer again for next year. She likes my work. Even with the missing buck. Hee.

As soon as I got home, everyone donned their swimsuits, and we went off to the pool! They actually opened on Saturday, but we didn't have time to go and besides, today feels more like the day one should, right?

The water was c-c-c-cold, and Rob barely got in the water. The Littles wanted to stay in the baby pool, so he sat in that area with them, while I went in the big pool with Chloƫ. She's technically too old to be in the baby pool, even though she's smaller than the four-year-old who was in there. When they called adult swim, though, I relented, and we were all in the baby section. I hate the baby pool. I want to be covered, up to my neck, and feeling weightless - not sitting in a bunch of kid pee! Ew.

It started to rain, so we left much earlier than expected. All the kids were shivering anyway, so we'll just have to go on a hotter day.

At home, I went upstairs to work on the long-neglected laundry... and fell asleep. For hours. I woke up when Sophie crawled up on the bed with me and whispered in my ear, "Mom, we're going to bed, good-night!"

And now I'm here. Ready for my big 2-oz dinner.

Fin.


Proud And Pleased

Today was not memorable, for the most part. Kids went to school. Kids came home from school. Curly Sue went to Tap class. Jack went along for the ride. Homework was done, dinner was eaten, rooms were cleaned up. The usual.

Except for one thing. I did Jack's homework with him today, which was just to name the months of the year. He stumbled a bit the first time, and so I made him do it again. Except for mixing up May and June, he got it all right.

And then... I pulled out his bag of words. They have been the same words, just more added, for months now. We've been practicing and practicing, working on these sight words.

But today's words were different There were 18 all new words, that I'd never seen him read before. I showed him the first set of 9, and he got Every. Single. One. right. Every one. I cheered, I praised, I high-fived, I hugged and I kissed. I was so happy! And so was the boy.

And then I showed Jack the second set of 9 words. He got those all right, too. He sounded them out beautifully, then repeated the words as a whole. All of them, on the first try.

Could I be more proud? No. I could not! I remember when Chloƫ learned to read, and I was ecstatic. But this is different. This is Jack! The boy who I thought might not ever live to this day. Not because of being born 9 weeks early. No, more because of all the times he pooped his pants and then spread the poo all over his walls, his bed, himself. Thought his dad might kill him.

But now?! He reads!! He's just over six years old, and he can read!!

I don't know who is more proud, him or me. I hope it's him.

Fin.


Still No Photos

Thought I'd just get that out of the way right there!

I'd have posted last night, but instead I spent ~3 hours in the ER with Chloƫ. She came home from school complaining that her ear was "plugged." I didn't know where I had some rubbing alcohol to try and help her, and so when I was in the shower, she got out a q-tip and jammed it in her ear! (I didn't know she was doing this.) Later on, after our mystery shop dinner at Denny's (why, oh why, did I spend so much on food from Schwan's when we're eating out practically every night with all these shops?!!), we stopped at the post office to mail a few things. (Mom, be on the lookout for all the 2008 pictures I printed that didn't make it into the scrapbook! Do what you will with them.) Rob was inside, and suddenly she started just bawling.

It took me a while to get out what happened, so we drove home and dropped Rob and the Littles off there, then headed to the hospital to make sure she hadn't punctured her ear drum.

The wait was forever and a day. She was sobbing. Poor thing. Nothing was leaking, so that was good. Some lady with Tourette's came in (I figured as much, but it was confirmed by her companion, talking to the nurse); she kept shouting every few seconds, nonsense words. It was jarring enough for everyone, but it really bothered Chloƫ. She seemed to calm down after my whispered explanation, though.

Finally, we were taken back. I don't know why; we waited another hour before the doctor came in to see her. I should've just taken her to Portsmouth, but I drove to the hospital down the road because we've always been in and out of there so quickly. Not so this early Monday evening!

Her eardrum was red, but not punctured, thank goodness. She had a lot of fluid in there, so an ear infection was diagnosed. She was quickly dosed with antibiotics and Motrin and sent home with a Rx.

It was after 2300 when we returned, so we sent her right to bed, and Rob went out to fill the  script. I lay down on the couch to wait for him and quickly passed out. Oops.

This morning, she seemed chipper and skipped off to school happily after I gave her the morning dose.  She wasn't in any pain.

The day passed quickly. Sophie woke up as the kids were leaving for school, and she was in a very cuddly mood. So we did a lot of that. She also played a lot with Blue (it wasn't mutual; we're getting rid of that kitty, who hasn't adapted well and is locked in the dog's kennel, hissing and growling at anyone who dares look at her) and Tinkerbell, colored in the coloring books, and asked me a million times if we could go to the fair. She's obsessed with the fair lately!

After Jack came home, I cooked them a Schwan's pizza for lunch, fed them, and decided to go upstairs and shower and work on the laundry. I haven't touched the laundry in a week, and the piles of both clean and dirty are outrageous!

Once upstairs, though, I was suddenly exhausted (having another cold right away is kicking my butt, though it's a very mild one) and decided that first, we would all lie down together in Mama's bed and try to nap.

Ha, that's a good one.

The kids wiggled and waggled and traded places over and over. They kicked each other, tickled each other, and otherwise drove their poor, tired mama nuts. I giggled to myself a little, though.

Then the phone rang, and it was the school nurse. ChloĆ« had been in and out of there all day, complaining about pain in her ear. Did I want to come get her?

Well, I couldn't, but I called Rob, and he left immediately to pick her up.  Phew. I'm glad she was able to come home and get some relief.

I'd drifted off, with Jack and Sophie curled up in front of me, by the time they arrived home.  We were locked in, so they couldn't go wreak havoc elsewhere in the house, so I had to drag myself off the bed and let them in. I told Rob we were having a family nap, and he - being the narcoleptic one - was all for it! He stripped off his work clothes and jumped in the bed. ChloĆ« joined.

It was fun for a minute, but no one was settling down. They all wanted to play. I wasn't in the mood to play anymore, so Rob took Chlo downstairs and left me with the babies. When Soph kept bothering Jack, he came and got her, too.

Jack and I, alone at last, cuddled up and fell asleep for the next several hours! Rob took both girls with him to Chloƫ's ballet class and came home while we still slept. It was a good nap. I liked waking up next to my boy. Thank God he didn't pee the bed.

I never took my shower or worked on laundry. Instead, it was half-past-dinnertime, and I had another mystery shop to do at Salsaritas in Chesapeake. We'd never been there before. It was kind of like Moe's, but way suckier. Can't elaborate here, but I don't recommend them! Go to Moe's.

Back at home, Jack and I worked on his homework while the girls cleaned up their messes. After homework, we reviewed all his sight words, of which there are quite a lot now. He got about 75% of them right, many after sounding them out. I was very happy with the size of the "right" pile vs. the "missed" pile. After one pass through the list, I told him if he tried again and correctly read (without help) three of the "missed" words, I'd let him get a matchbox car. He got five of them right! I was very proud, and I could tell he was proud of himself, too. Which is more important, in my book.  We've been drilling him in the car on his counting lately, too - counting by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's to 100. He's getting better and better at it, though he's very resistant to doing it.

So that's it. I'm going to try and catch up on all the blogs I haven't been reading lately during my scrapping session. I can't scrap right now while I'm waiting for my new printhead to be delivered and more pages for my book to come in, so I'm between projects. I hate that!

Fin.


Down In The Dumps

So I'm convinced I have MRSA. There's some stuff all over my neck. I should probably get to a dermatologist or something.

Anyhoo.

Rob didn't come home early and surprise me today. I was hoping he would, but nope.  I get spoiled easily!

Hmm... Oh. After the kids went off to school, I crawled back up in the bed until 10, when Sophia woke up. Thank God she slept in later than usual; I didn't get to sleep for doody last night. I was still pretty tired, so the rest of our morning wasn't very active. We mostly cuddled and played kitchen.

This afternoon, they napped, and I napped some more, while Rob took Curly Girl to dance class. When they got up, I asked if they wanted to fingerpaint, and the answer was a resounding YES!

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I believe both the Crayola paints and the Crayola sticky mats came from Grandma. They love to use them, but since they reside on the top of the refrigerator, I rarely think of them.

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The kids absolutely love them. I only had red, yellow and green, and they kept begging for purple, orange and blue.  Well, they made orange, but then everything got all mixed up, to become a lovely shade of barf green. Seriously, looking at them covered in it and watching it drip off their hands, I wanted to hurl! But I sat there and enjoyed them enjoying themselves like a champ.

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They were pretty great. Each wrote their names and some other letters in the paint, and then they drew some basic shapes. Jack even drew a picture of Spongebob Squarepants, although he smeared it all up again before I could snap a picture.

After they filthed themselves up quite spectacularly, I took them one at a time, nakey, into the kitchen sink for a sponge bath. They both got quite a kick out of being naked in the sink, although not so much the scrubbing Mommy was giving them! Afterward, Jack fetched my special Royal Almond lotion, and I gave them each a rubdown to make them soft and smelly-good again. I got to rub soft tushies, yay!

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Rob snapped these pictures of the kids showing off their 'guns,' and he was most impressed with Sophia's. I don't know, I think Jack has a nice set, too!

My dinner didn't go so well. They had pesto sauce and shells, plus corn, so I was out of that game. I made myself some protein tomato soup and then had a protein bar. It proved to be too much, somehow, I don't know, but on came my second bout with Dumping Syndrome. I knew in the middle of the bar that something was 'off,' and then came the shakes, the weakness, the upset tummy and the whole shabang that goes with it. Oh, it's miserable. I don't wish that on... well, any of you readers, anyway! Hehe.  This time, it was all over much faster than the first time, so that was good.

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I did make a bunch of progress on the BSJ today, off and on during the day, but I don't think I'll have it finished by tomorrow as hoped. Oh, well, I'll still try! Definitely by Thursday, I think. I just love this yarn. It gives good squeeze. I'm starting to worry that I'll run out of yarn before I run out of pattern, though. And it's discontinued...eep!

Oh, also, I helped Jack with his homework, as usual. First, we read two books (with Sophia perched precariously on the back of the couch to follow along) from the Prize bucket. Then he wrote three words each that rhymed with "pen" and "hit." (Rob wouldn't let us use "tit.") Finally, we went over his sight words. Let me tell you, he is improving by leaps and bounds! And suddenly he is really responding to all the praise, and I'm way overdoing it when he gets a word right.  It was funny, when he missed one and I didn't smile and squeal and chill, he put his fingers to the corners of my mouth and said, "No, make a smile, Mommy!" But he missed eight, and the second time we went through, he only missed four of those, and then none on the third try! I told him when he gets them all right on the first try, we'll make lollipops. Hopefully soon!

Well, I'm off to Wii. Still no sign of my darn nunchuk, and I want to box. Hmph.

Nighters!

Fin.


Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

So today was pretty much identical to yesterday until Rob got home. Reread that if you want to know what we did. ;)

Chloƫ and I left for her Ballet class almost as soon as he arrived. First, we had to stop at a house around the corner and deliver her cookies. I rang the bell twice, then opened the screen door and used the knocker before anyone came to the door, though we had pre-arranged for me to come by at this time. Lots of people's doorbells don't seem to work around here, though...

I sat and knitted my way through the entire hour of Ballet. I finished the back (which I didn't do last night, nor did I watch the movie, because I fell asleep as soon as I landed on the couch) and then realized I'd left the pattern at home! Oopsy. So I called up a disgruntled Rob and asked him to read me the next section. Rob reading knitting instructions sounds like anyone reading a foreign language which they have not studied - hilarious! But I didn't say so, lest he hang up on me. I knitted on.

When class was out, we rushed home as fast as humanly possible to beat our special visitors to the door, but alas, we didn't make it. Damn, damn, damn!!! I'm glad, at least, that Rob and the Littles were there to intercept them, but they really wanted Chloƫ, and she would have been so overjoyed with their visit.

Who, you ask?

Their school's Reading Prize Patrol selected Jack and Chloƫ as this year's winners, for agreeing to read as a family each day (I knew since last week). Apparently they showed up in droves, about 20 people including both principals, her teacher, the whole library staff, and more, in several cars full, with video cameras and everything. It was a Pretty Big Deal. And we missed it by five minutes! Waahhhhh! Jack and Sophia enjoyed it, though.

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Chloƫ ran in the house and snatched this huge laminated sign away from her daddy to read. What on earth are we going to do with it? Roll it up and store it somewhere in the attic, I guess.

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The prize was a big bucket full of goodies, including these four helium balloons (their fave) tied to a new box of #2 pencils. And why yes, they did have pasta for dinner! Hee.

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There were two of the softest little teddy bears in the top of the bucket. Jack refused one, and Sophia had apparently already claimed the brown one, so Chlo received the green. I asked Soap to smile, and she pouted and said, "NO! I don't HAVE any smiles left!" My eyes met Rob's, and we tittered.

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There were all kinds of goodies under the bears. A chalkboard and chalk, card games, stickers, bookmarks...

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...and a whole stack of brand-new books, for all THREE of the kids' reading levels! I love that they included Sophia in the prize! (And I know that they did so intentionally, because they asked for all ages of children in the house on the entry form, and confirmed it with me when they called to say the kids had won.)

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And in the bottom of the very nice bucket, more stickers, bookmarks, and three packs of crayons!

It was a great lot of fun, and we sure were an excited bunch to receive it!! Thank you, Point O' View!

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Oh. One of the books was titled, "When Sophie Gets Angry...," so I asked Sophie to show me her angry face. This was her reply! If you look hard enough, I think you can make out her duodenum.

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And guess what else arrived tonight? My Wii Fit!! Yippee! Too bad the Wii system hasn't even shipped yet, so it's just a cool box for now. But pretty soon, I'll be WFing away!

Ahhh... good times, good times.

So afterward, ChloĆ« changed back into her regular clothes, and went to deliver one last box of cookies. No, two:  At her booth sale with Brett, I'd told the girls I would buy them a box of cookies if they correctly guessed how many we sold. ChloĆ«, who is no good at math in general or estimating specifically, said ten. Psht! Brett guessed 52 and the real number was 53 (or maybe vice versa), so I called her mother and asked her what kind of cookies she would like!

Tonight, we drove over there so ChloĆ« could give Brett her box of Trefoils. Trefoils? This I don't get. Out of all the flavors, she picks the no-chocolate shortbread cookies? Whaa? We have had several customers order two boxes of those and nothing else. Huh? Trefoils? I just don't GET them. Really? What about Samoas? Thin Mints? Hello, DULCE DE LECHES!!  Weirdness. Her mom agrees with me!

Let's see. Back at home, Chloƫ started in on her math homework, which I made her redo about eight times, to both our frustration. And I helped Jack with his reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, which put us both on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Jack and I had a serious talk tonight about whether he wants to go to first grade with his friends next year, or stay behind in kindergarten. He (thankfully) chose first grade, so I talked to him about what he needs to do to get there. For one, PAY ATTENTION! To me, to Daddy, to Mrs. Swann - whomever is teaching him. He really, really needs to learn to read his sight words. Out of 24, he knows ten. I think I'm going to make up flash cards of the ones I don't already have and bring them up to the set on Thursday when we're sitting around all day doing nothing.

Anyway.

That's about it.  I'm torn between watching the movie (Rodanthe) and knitting my kimono, or going upstairs to shower and fold laundry, or walking on the treadmill. I'm thinking laundry.

Toodles!

Fin.


We Need A Heat Wave

So, let's see, Thursday, Thursday, Thursday...

Hmm.

Chloƫ had a dentist appointment with the kids' new dentist today. We switched. Don't ask me why; I don't want to go into it! Suffice it to say the old one pissed me off.

Oh, before that... Rob took off to go take his motorcycle permit test. He passed! So he's got that taken care of, and the next step, of course, is getting his license. Then we can get rid of that God forsaken truck.

So, the dentist. Chloƫ REALLY took a liking to him. She said, "I liked Dr. M., but I like Dr. Cox a lot more!" I'm glad. He's a pediatric dentist, while Dr. M. was for the whole familia. Her favorite part, though, was getting to pick out FOUR things from his treasure box: a toothbrush, a sticker, a pencil, and a bouncy ball. She loves that stuff.

She does have a bit of a problem with her teeth: she's got a cross-bite, related both to her thumb-sucking and the fact that her maxilla is smaller than her mandible.

After they came home, she and I went out selling cookies. BRRRR!  We hit a whole bunch of houses, stayed out for nearly an hour, and sold a grand total of eight damn boxes. Ugh! People just aren't buying this year. She's not going to make her goal of 172 boxes by Sunday night, that is fo' sho! And we froze to death. She was nearly in tears, she was so cold by the time we got home. Poor stinkerbean!

By the way, Sophia always pronounces "boogers" as "burgers." It cracks me up every time.  "I have burgers in my nose!"

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Chloƫ wore the fishy hat today while she was doing her homework. Cute!

Oh, report cards came home today. Both did quite well, although Jack is behind on reading and writing. He's doing really well for ME, though, so I know there's a little smartie in there who just doesn't apply himself. At this point, it would not surprise me if he got held back from first grade, although I'm going to really work with him to make sure that doesn't happen and he catches up. He did another lovely job writing all of his sight words today, thought he fought doing it like the dickens. Frustrating, although somehow when it comes to helping him with his homework, I have the patience of Job.

As for Chloƫ, she got the 2nd grade equivalent of Dean's List this quarter! I'm so proud, Daddy's proud, and she was proud of herself, which is the important thing. Yay, baby girl! I'm glad all her extracurriculars don't interfere with schoolwork thus far.

Did I tell you I signed Jack up for Spring soccer? He starts near the end of March. It only lasts for two months! With all we have to do, though, I'll probably be grateful for that.

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I started this baby sweater today. I'd be a lot further along on it, but I had to rip out all the way to the beginning and start over, when I was a goodly portion into it. Bah, I hate restarting. It doesn't look like much now, partly because there are too many stitches on the needle to spread it out for you, but it's now coming along nicely. I started out on the circular needles it calls for, which I don't recommend at all. That circ was way too tight, so I had to run to the LYS for a new bamboo Clover one. That one was too long, so I ended up switching to DPNs. That's when I realized it wasn't supposed to be knit in the round after all, but back and forth, so I frogged it (ripped it all out) and switched to my beloved straights. Exasperating, that!

But I'm using one of my favoritest yarns, Sublime DK Extra Fine Merino Wool. It's so lovely and smooshy and soft. I love to squeeze my work while I'm knitting it, and feel that delicious bouncy fabric! I could go on and on... but most of you out there are not yarnies!

Well, that's the end. Back to my sweater.

Fin.


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  Not a very exciting day in Chez Odette. At least for me. I went nowhere, saw no one, did nothing. Much.

No appointments for me today. And Rob drove the girls to their dance classes, while Jack napped nearly the entire time, so I had *gasp* free time!

I spent that couple of hours typing up first a log of information for Julie when she comes to help out with the kids while I'm in the hospital, and then a super-secret file of all our financial information for Rob, in case anything happens to me.

So now I'm ready. So ready.

Well, except for one eensy teensy little thing: I might not get to have surgery on Monday.

What??!! 

Yeah. That's what I said. Julie is coming up, Shana is coming down, Rob has this time off - it has to be NOW!

But apparently the anesthesiologists are stressing because I told the pre-op nurse that I had a heart murmur (which hasn't been detected in my adulthood, that I can remember) and occasional palpitations (really kind of a lot lately, but I didn't say that...).  I mean, I know it's my heart and all and I don't want to mess around with that, but things really are fine and all.

So Dr. Clark reviewed my EKG, which was perfectly fine and normal and didn't even reflect the right ventricular delay that was detected on my three prior EKGs, and is going to talk to the anesthesiologists on the morrow. Hopefully their discussion will resolve the issue and things will be a go, so if you could keep good thoughts for me, I'd really appreciate it.

And they do work, you know. Those of you who helped me pray for Vanna might like to know that the "check engine" light went off Monday and hasn't been seen since.

What else did I do? Let's see...

Oh!

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I helped Jack with his homework. He had to practice writing all the letters above. Didn't he do such a beautiful job? For someone who is getting occupational therapy for fine motor, I think he did excellent work here! I was holding him on my lap while he printed each letter, and I exclaimed after each nice one, gently correcting him when one was backward or something. He was so thrilled, but nowhere near as I was. He made me proud.

He was on a roll, so I decided to break out the sight words, which you'd think were physically painful for him, he kvetches so. But other than "at" and "the," he read them all without my prompting! Eventually he was able to read "at" when that card flashed up, but we're still struggling with "the." I went back to it over and over, but it's just not connecting. We'll just have to keep at it. So, go Jacky!!!

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Then I switched out the buttons on the Philly Cowl. They just weren't working for me. They style was wrong, the color was off, and they were too small. I'm loving these silver ones instead; they really make it more modern-looking and just nicer. I'm wearing it right now; it feels so nice around the neck! I still don't know what I'm going to do with it, though! If you'd like it, step right up!

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Please tell me these are better. I really don't want to sew them on a third time!

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Finally, I received a custom order for another tutu on Etsy (yay!), so I made that up tonight. It's been a while since I had a sale, so I was only to pleased to whip one up for her.

Off to cast on for another project.

Fin.