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Friday Fragments, Episode 6.14.13

Unknown Mami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


A Tale Of Two Milos

I'm still knitting for my friend Stephanie's son Vinnie, the toddler who is allergic to most, if not all, manmade fibers and many natural ones. As I'm currently financially restricted to knitting with the yarn from my stash, and most of my yarns were stashed with myself in mind (read: not little boy colors), it's getting harder to do! I fancy myself the enterprising sort, at least on occasion, so we're making do just fine for now. 


I bought the pattern for Milo {Ravelry link} not knowing it had several different cable options, thinking it perfect for the singular hank of 100% pure Blue-Faced Leicester wool from Spin in the City UK that I had stashed a while back. About 200 yards of rich, smooshy wool... yeah. I was sure I had enough. So I cast on at the end of May.

I immediately hated the pattern when I started knitting. First, it's knit on circular needles. I much prefer straight needles, by a long shot, over circs. And then if I must knit in the round, I rather do it on DPNs (double-pointed needles) over a lone circ. It's just not intuitive for my hands. When I knitted the first four rounds on this Milo, therefore, gritting my teeth the whole way, the next instructions were enough to make me put baby in the corner for a whole week: "Repeat the last two rounds NINE MORE TIMES." UGH.


And then, on Saturday night after seeing Vinnie's pictures on Facebook, I felt urged to knit for the wee boy. I had Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice fresh on iTunes as an audiobook, and though I hate being read to with a passion, I decided I would combine the detested read-aloud with the even more odious circular knitting and kill two birds. 

Oh, my gosh, y'all. I fell in love with BOTH!!

I busted out 6½ hours of knitting on Milo to a wonderful British accent reading me the swoon-worthy story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Saturday night into Sunday morning, and it was time well spent. I got to like circular knitting in a new way, learned to love the pattern de Milo, and am eager to get more audiobooks for future knitting marathons.


The only problem with Milo the First, as you can see here, is that I completely miscalculated the yardage I would need. I only had the one hank and could not find any more online, so I decided to just knit until I ran out. I ended up running out as I was binding off, which sucked. I had to go grab a teensy bit of semi-coordinating wool that Stephanie herself had given to me for a different Vinnie project to finish the binding. It works. Kinda.

I mean, Milo is too short and wide for Vinnie, I think, so there's a bit of a learning curve with this pattern. It measured okay (ie, long enough) on the needle, but off the needle it's shorter than what I had measured before the short garter stitch hem! D'oh. I'm not crying over spilt milk, however, because this particular hank of wool came adorned with a teensy angeline fiber woven in, and as I'm not entirely sure Vinnie won't be allergic to that glittery thread, I won't be terribly upset if Steph ends up regifting the first incarnation of Milo to another, smaller babe.


So on Monday morning, in the wee hours, I cast on for Milo again. I dove deep into my stash and found this 100% Fine Highland wool in the proper weight for Milo. Still squeezy, but not quite as smooshy. Still soft, though not quite as buttery. Much softer than the scratchy Colorblock Sweater I just made Vinnie, so it'll do fine, I'm sure.


I hadn't yet had my fill of the Austen saga, so I found Pride & Prejudice - starring Keira Knightly - on Amazon Prime and sat back with my now-tolerable circular needle. By dawn, the movie had ended and the kids were starting to get up for the day.

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We went to the zoo after the rain cleared up, and I knit in the car while Rob drove there, at the zoo itself while the kids played, and I knit after we returned home. I find myself both addicted to the pattern and yearning for more Jane Austen. What else ya got, iTunes?

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I can't decide whether I did the cable wonkily or if Milo the Second just needs a good blocking (which Steph will handle, because Vinnie's also allergic to cats and so she has to pre-wash everything I send him), but they don't seem to be sitting properly. Eh. Small worry. The length is much more suitable for a toddler boy, as are the colors and lack of glitteriness, so I'm happier with this second rendition.

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It's not really screwy, I don't think; it's just hanging funny on that hanger. I did the bottom binding with a stretchy cast-off, so he'll be able to yank it on and off over his head easily. Makes it a little bumpy and nubby, but that's okay. It's more functional than pretty, and I'm all right with that.

I've already got a third Milo on the needles, ready for yet another cable pattern. Hope you like green, Steph, because I had another skein...


Friday Fragments: 5.31.13 Edition

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


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

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

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

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

Presto Chango!


I finished Vinnie's Presto Chango {Ravlink} four days after I started it, on Monday night. I love it! It's not exactly like I intended it to be, but that's okay, because it was an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment project anyway.


My one complaint with the sweater is that the wool isn't soft; it's pretty scratchy, actually. I'm aware that Steph knows how to work some magic with wool and will hopefully be able to overcome that so it's comfortable for Vinnie to wear. I don't even mind the colorblocked-ness of it, or the fact that I ran out of the blue on the front panel and had to finish it in the red. I kind of like it like that. I was going to make her a blue panel and a red panel, so she could swap them out on a whim, but I haven't enough yarn to do that. So I didn't.


I went to Michael's for the buttons, which was a mistake, but I don't know yet where a fabric or button store might be around these parts. Dude. I have a ton of buttons in my stash, but not sixteen of the same, so I wanted something wooden in the right size for the buttonholes for this sweater. Not only was it impossible to find wooden buttons at Michaels, it was darn near impossible to find any buttons there. I was sorely disappointed at the selection. {I am pretty impressed with myself for picking up and putting down about 90 things, either literally or mentally, and only getting the three crafty things on my list. That, there, was calendar-worthy for me.} Anyway, I found a tin of wooden beads that were the right size and shade, so I subbed beads for buttons and there you go.


The only mod I made to the pattern was in doubling the frequency of the buttonholes, so I needed the 16 you see instead of 8. I don't know that Steph will want to undo 16 buttons, but I think the construction of the sweater is such that she'll probably never need to, and she can just whip it on and off over Vinnie's head. As a former mother of toddlers myself, I can't remember a time when I'd have wanted to remove only the tummy portion of their shirt - kinda weird, isn't it? But I still think it looks cool, so off it goes in tomorrow's mail to Steph and Vinnie.

Link up here if you have some crafty goodness to show Cindy at Skip to My Lou this week!


Sundays In My City: Random Snaps From Last Week

Unknown Mami

It's been a few weeks since I've participated, but that's because we've been kind of lazy, and I've had camnesia. Sundays in my City are brought to you by Unknown Mami. Check out this link to see more photographs from around the globe.

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If you missed it, check out this post for more about our fun NERF/Cheetos Block Party yesterday - it was a blast!

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I have no idear why that picture is showing up so smallishly, but anyway, speaking of parties and free gifts, Smiley360 sent us this wicked cool craft kit full of BIC Mark-It markers, butterfly chimes to decorate, and glittery-doodads, ribbons and more to finish the job. (Hi, my name is Smellyann, and I am addicted to markers. You could say I was just a li'l excited!)

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The photos of Sophia decorating, and of all the kids with their finished products, have apparently disappeared into the ether. Bah! But here are Chloë and Jack, who griped at first about the craft being too "girly" and then jumped right in when he saw how much fun the girls were having. Hee. Typical Jack.


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You guys may have noticed we have a teensy obsession with Romero Britto's funky pop art, no? Welp, since he lives here in Miami, damn near everything is decorated with his style. How fun was it to find an ATM when we went shopping at Target recently?! (Answer: Very.)


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The Manx kittens Rob rescued from precarious positions recently have about doubled in size since we took them in to nurse them back to health. Stick a fork in them; they're done! We're ready to adopt them out, but so far no takers on CraigsList or Freecycle (ours allows it), which is fine. Time to bring out the big guns: We're going to have them neutered and then try again. We WILL NOT be keeping these puppies (as I always call them; wishful thinking, mayhaps?), so there is not one iota of an inkling of a chance they will grow up here. NO, no, no!

Rob is pretty adamant that they go together, so does anyone want two freakishly adorable kitties? They come with the bed they've commandeered, if that helps, along with any food we have for them. (Their taillessness dictates that they be fed soft food, 'cause dry food is too hard for them to poop out. They cry otherwise, and their poor little heinies get all sore and scabby. Do NOT try it. Oh. I'm probably not really selling them very well here, huh??)

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Now this is the TRUE "in my city" part: As I left the dermatologist's office on Wednesday, amidst his requests that I drive carefully, I realized that we'd had a downpour, to put it mildly. You can't really tell from this picture just how deep that water was; it was to the floor of my Honda Odyssey and therefore about midway up my calf.

I started just walking out to Penelope (the van), but when I got about ankle-deep, I decided I didn't care who was looking out the window and started jumping, leaping, and dancing my way to Penny. The rain continued, and I lifted up my arms and laughed my head off, absolutely refusing to run. What was the point? I was already soaked, might as well have some fun with it! (Needless to say, I left the AC off on the drive home. I was frrrrozen when I walked in the door and stripped down to nothin'!)

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My hands are so shaky lately, so you get blurry pix. Sorry. We went grocery shopping last week (I saved $215 if anyone but me cares; gotta love Publix!) and got stuff for S'mores. We brought them to the NERF/Cheetos Block Party Saturday, but the kids could NOT wait. We made some in the microwave - and would you believe, Jack had the nerve NOT to finish his?! Some Girl Scout he'd make!

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Checkiddout, I found the picture of Sophie coloring her butterfly chime... but why the heck are those photos so tiny?

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Oh, looky, I've been knitting for Vinnie again. It took me a while to start up again after the move, because the people who packed for us did a pretty sucky job. I found my straights in a box labeled "arrows," which is fantastic. Anyway, the sweater. I've had the wool forever and a day, obstensibly to knit socks for Robert, but I think that ship has sailed. So while the blanket I'm making him waits for the smaller needles to be rediscovered, I cast on for a sweater. It's handspun wool with no tag, so I had no clue how much yardage I had. I nearly ran out of the blue on the back, so I decided it had to be a colorblocked sweater. (Have I ever mentioned that I freaking hate the colorblock trend? I do.) Stephanie (Vinnie's mom) will have to tell me whether she wants the whole front red or to mix it up even more. (Steph: I also have green and black.)


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Lastly - and probably least, this time - I found out Best Buy was having a clearance sale today. 49¢ for school and office supplies and, like I mentioned with the markers, I adore school supplies. I mean, few things get me more pumped. It's sad but true. Since I had a $5 Best Buy Reward Zone sitting in my account for the longest time, I determined we needed to make a beeline for that odious store and spend it on the beloved supplies o' school. Welp, we price-checked lots of things, and these are the 11 things we got for a total of 41¢! I saved over $79, y'all! I know; cha-ching. (You can barely contain yourselves over there, amiright?)

'Kay. I'm done sharing pictures. What's up with you guys?


Knitting For Vinnie

I mentioned that I've been knitting for Vinnie, Stim's (Stephanie and Tim's) younger son. He's allergic to all synthetic fibers (which is fine, since I'm sensitive to at least acrylic, too), as well as cotton and other plant-based fibers, and some animal fibers, including alpaca. (He has some food allergies, too.) Poor babe breaks out in horribly painful rashes, especially in the diaper area, which is why Steph dresses him in mostly 100% wool, along with some silk and cashmere. This makes for an expensive toddler to dress. Since I have a pretty decent-sized stash of some excellent wools, as well as wool-silk-cashmere blends, many of which I stashed without a purpose in mind, and since I also adore knitting itty-bitty-sized things, I've taken it upon myself to clothe the child for the upcoming Summer season and, hopefully then, into the Fall and Winter. I do plan to take some time off to knit a sweater for each of my kids for Christmas, since it does get a little cooler here in the Winter months, but for the time-being, it's All Vinnie, All the Time. Here's what I've made so far:


I loved knitting this heavily-cabled vest for Vinnie, although at first I did not like the colorway. I'm usually not a fan of such crazy colorways, either, but I think I got this at a steep discount and figured somewhere, some way I'd find a use for it. Well, I'm glad I did, because when I finished and seamed it all up, I absolutely loved it! It reminds me of a mix of hot peppers. The pattern was super-fun to knit up, too, and went very quickly. I made it a little big so he'd have room to grow. The only problem with this pattern in this colorway is that, unless you're actually holding the thing in your hands, you can't see the cables and ribs! Certainly not in pictures. But that's okay, because there's the element of surprise if you're lucky enough (ha!) to behold it in person. Anyway, Vinnie looks great in these colors, and Steph likes it, so I'm happy with it all the way around.


Since I had enough yarn left over, I made Vinnie a pair of socks, too! Steph said he only had a few, and these fit perfectly. Win!

After that, I started a 64-different-square afghan for Vinnie, since the only one he has is the "Bandaid Blanket" I'd given to his older brother, Lucas, three years or so earlier! It's also cabled, but it accidentally got felted, and either way, it's much too small to cover the babe. So I'm making that, too. I'm about 8 squares in and having lots of fun with that, but I'll hold off on posting pictures until they're all finished. The fun part is, Steph has some yarn from other projects for Vinnie (and maybe Luke, too; I forget), and also, I have some yarn left from the NYC trip we (Steph, me, and my three kids from before she had bebes) went on in 1998. She helped me pick out some of that yarn, and it's purple (her favorite color), so it works.


Next, I made another vest. Smaller, this time, it turns out, but this time, it fit just right. The collar looks a little wonky in this picture, but I think it's partly because it hadn't been blocked yet, and partly because of the odd position in which I caught him. The fun part about this one is that, though it's again hard to see in the pictures, there are owls on the front! I never knit owly cables before, but they turned out so cute. What a fun motif. Look, you can see it better here:


You see it, right? Isn't that cute? So twee.


I had some yarn left over from this yarn, too, so I knit another pair of socks. Well, first, I started to knit a hat and got well into it before it became clear that I was going to run out of yarn. And since this was a discontinued yarn, I had no hope of getting more to finish the project, so I had to frog it. (If you're not a yarn enthusiast, you might be wondering what in the world that means. What do frogs say? Ribbit. When you frog something, you rip it. Get it? Rip it = ribbit. Hey, I didn't make it up!)


I couldn't find another pattern for a sock that fit the thickness and amount of yarn that remained, except for the same one as the last yarn, so I made it again. Appropriately enough, the pattern called for exactly this yarn! I made it a little longer in the foot, so he could have some room to grow. I like this less-crazy colorway, too; so pretty!


Lastly for now, I made Vinnie another owly knit, this time an earflap hat for him to wear next year. It was supposed to have long i-cord ties for under the chin, but I ran out of yarn, so I had to adapt the pattern to make it button instead. And I added embellished eyes, in the form of embroidered French knots, to go with the blue button. I nearly died when I got the hat on Vinnie; he looked so stinkin' adorable in it!! The boy was made for hats. Hats were made for Vinnie.

That's it for now, but there will be many more to come, as well as an Eastery post later. Cheers!


Sunday Stealing On A Tuesday

Linky linky is here, pals, friends and chums!



101. What does happiness/joy feel like physically? 

Warm and fuzzy, like an itty bitty bunny ... ♥

102. List five things you love starting with the one you love the absolute most. (My interpretation: People aren't things, so I'm not including them!)

A - Yarn. Natural, vibrant, soft, knittable YARN.

B - My iPhone 5!

C - The beach

D - Singing a great song at the top of my lungs while driving with the windows down on a warm day

E - Itty bitty babies, whether they're people or other animals

103. How many movies have you gone to see this year? 

We just went to the movies on Thursday for a mystery shop! Once, so far in 2013. It was Escape From Planet Earth, and I really liked it. It was surprisingly good! I want to get the DVD.

104. If you could have 3 wishes...but none of them could be for yourself, what would you wish for? 

A - I would wish for lots more money for my husband. ;) (What? I didn't SAY he had to share!) (But he would.)

B - I would wish for an end to all the world's "issues" caused by the exponential population growth of human beings.

C - I would wish for mandatory parenting classes for all first-time parents. I've seen some bad shit, man.

105. In what ways do you relax and de-stress when you are really tense? 

If it's that bad, I have to pop a Klonopin. And then, if I can't nap, I'll read a bunch of magazines and/or knit something mindlessly simple.

106. How much money would it take to get you to sell your blog address?

I don't know. At least tuppence.

107. Have you ever been hunting?

LOL I thought that said "hurting," and I was all, have you met me?! No. I have never been hunting. I never will, either. Bambi's safe from me. 

108. Have you attempted this 5000 question meme in the past?

I don't know, but probably. I've been blogging for a while now!

109. What do you think of cloning? 

Everything in moderation. The world doesn't NEED another me or you, but repetition certainly has its place.

110. Do you read or watch TV more often? 

Since we don't have TV, it's pretty much reading by default.

111. With all this talk of terrorism going around are you willing to sacrifice rights and freedoms for increased safety?

Pfft. If you're not constitutionally allowed to go into a crowded movie theater and yell "FIRE!" then even the 2nd Amendment has its limits, thank you so much. Anyone who thinks that the right to bear arms should be absolutely limitless is a TOTAL FUCKING MORON, and I have no problems saying that to ANYONE. And yes, this is a bit of a passionate issue for me. ;)

112. What is the punishment you would have come up with for Osama Bin Laden if you caught him alive? 

I don't know, an eye for an eye, I guess. So would I put him on a suicide plane mission? No. Would I put him on the plane as a terrified passenger? No. Top of a tower about to be hit by a plane? Nope. I would make him love someone with all his heart and soul and then have to bear the pain when that person was tragically ripped from his life forever. Worst pain ever. I know.

113. Have you ever named an individual part of your body?

No. However, I am an odd duck, and I feel bad for my left hand for not getting as much use as my righty, so I often favor it to give it more attention. Wow. I can't believe I'm admitting such kookiness so publicly! 

114. Have you ever been on the radio or on TV? 

Yeah, both. I posted here recently about the rug store commercial I was on when I was a kid. I have also been interviewed on a radio station about my charity in memory of our son. Twice. That was pretty cool.

115. Have you ever won a lottery or sweepstakes? 

I have won a few things, but I'll be darned if I can remember any of them at the moment. Oh, and when I turned 18, I won about $3.50 the first time I played the lottery. The next two weeks, I didn't win anything. Haven't played since.

116. Have you ever won a contest or competition? 

Similarly, yes, several things, but I'm hard-pressed to name them!

117. Have you ever watched The Joy of Painting show with Bob Ross (check out this link if you don't know who he is.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Ross_(painter)? 

Yeah, but I like the South Park version of Bob better than the real one! 

118. Do you know what your grandparents and your great-grandparents did for a living? 

My mom's dad worked at Tingue Brown as a factory laundry installer for many years. He was a hard-working man up until he died. 

My mom's mom was ... a stay-home mom, I guess? I really don't know if she worked before I came along, ever.

My dad's dad also did hard physical labor, but I can't remember the specifics. Both he and dad's mom died before I was born.

I haven't a clue what the greats did. However, my great-aunt (dad's side) was a longtime secretary for Exxon corporate.

119. Is there anything really interesting in your family history? 

I tend to think so. My dad's side of the family came from Germany to the Caribbean island of Saba several generations ago. It's a very tiny, not well-known isle, with historically unfriendly harbors, so you have to fly to get there. My dad's father was born there, along with his older sister. The great-aunt, Amy, mentioned above, was born in New York City, though. So I'm a 2nd generation American, right?

On my mom's side, my grandparents met just before World War II. My grandpa asked Grandma out, but she turned him down. She did NOT like him. Then he left to join the Navy and go fight in the war. When he got home, she had had a change of heart and started dating him. Three kids, five granddaughters, and six great-grandkids (so far) have come from that union!

120. Is there anyone you trust completely? 

Do I trust anyone 100%? Hmm. Not myself, definitely; I'm too impulsive. I couldn't think of anyone I trusted completely for a while, but now that I think about it, I trust my therapist that much. Maybe she's an odd choice, but she is absolutely fabulous. I'm really sad to be leaving her behind when we move in a few weeks. We've talked about doing remote therapy, though...

Oh, wow. I didn't realize I was at the end, here.

Welp, have a great week, y'all! I'll have more to post soon. 


(Not-So-) Wordless Wednesday: Latest Exploits

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


You may be able to figure out where we went on a mystery shop several times recently in the Outer Banks of North Carolina from the packaging in Rob's lap... Not such a flattering picture, but it makes me laugh, so here it is! I haven't been mystery shopping much at ALL lately, but when it pays well, I try to go!


Here's Chloë at Sweet Frog after the mystery shop - they look forward to going at every opportunity! Looks like we'll have to find a new FroYo place when we move to Miami, though, unless we go up to the Fort Launderdale area - sorry, kids!


Chloë's kitten, Pepper, has really been thriving after his scare in the animal ER when we first got him. Two blood transfusions later, and he now weighs exactly the same as Ginger, his twin and Sophia's kitten. Woohoo for that!


Rob, loving on Pepper and Ginger recently - we love our "grandcats" as much as the girls do!


After being sidelined for 6-8 weeks with medication issues, I'm finally back to knitting these doll sweaters for my friend Amy's Waldorf-inspired handmade dolls. She had commissioned me way back in the early Autumn, 2012, and I had been doing well, but the meds screwed up my progress for her Christmas doll deliveries. I feel terrible about that. Hopefully I can start to make up for it for her now...


Some more sweaters... You can check out Amy's dolls and her Etsy shop, Itsystitch, here - so cute!! I would love to get a doll for myself one day. ☺


That's me! A friend wanted a close-up shot, with an actual smile, after I posted about my four-year gastric bypass anniversary the other day. My full-body shot was quite candid, as you can see here, so he wanted a better view. Here ya go, folks! ;)


And finally, to celebrate my "surgiversary," we did - what else? - some eating. Ha! I was craving Chinese food, so we ordered in a bunch. I couldn't get much down, of course, and I couldn't keep it down, either, so it was rather disappointing. Ah, well. Here's a shot of the kids trying to learn how to use chopsticks, which was rather amusing in person. I love Jack's expression, haha... and yes, the kitchen has since been cleaned up and dishes washed. We are soooo lazy on the weekends, typically!

Have a great Hump Day, y'all!


Sunday Stealing: The You Don't Know Jack (And Other Cheese) Meme, Partes Uno Y Dos


Jes' like I skipped out on Saturday 9 last weekend, I did the same with Sunday Stealing, so likewise I'm fixin' ta do both week together in this-here post and uh muh guh I've been reading too much Tom Sawyer to the kiddos at night...!

Sunday Stealing: The Who Are You Meme

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?

At the moment, it's Typepad. I had a long answer written out, but it randomly deleted itself. I'm not going to repeat it, because, as I once told my deaf sister and husband, "I don't repeat myself for you." Ha, I'm SUCH a B!TCH!

2. Where and when were you born?

Picture it: Sicily, 1926. Oh, wait, that's The Golden Girls. RIP, Estelle Getty. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. I don't mind sharing that my DOB is 9/8/76 which, IMHO, seems like it should be awfully easy to remember. "Should" being the operative word. I was born just outside of The Big Apple.

3. Where did your parents meet?

They met online before there was online: through a dating something-or-other, like a service or something. Yeah, that's it, a dating service. IN The Big Apple, from whence they both came.

4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like in four words?

I have a half-sister whom I've never met, a full sister, Stacey, who merits the occasional mention here on Ye Olde Blahg, and formerly two step-sisters with whom I no longer speak. In four words: Stacey wins by default. Hee!

5. Where do you live now, and with whom?

I live in what's known here as "America's First Region," a term which always up-cracks me, formerly known as Tidewater but now known as Hampton Roads. Futurely known as "The Place Smellyann Once Graced." Heh. I live with an almost-retired Navy sailor, aka Rob, aka Hubs, and ¾ of the children we produced together. Oh, and of late, SIX DAMN FELINES, now that I've gone and rescued these two cuties from the middle of the road in the middle of the night at the middle of ... yeah, I'm out of middles. ::Looks down:: Wait, no, I've plenty of middles...


The new babehs' first bath! Awww. (No, they didn't like it, but they both pooed all over themselves, ewww.)

6. What is your occupation?

I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mother of the afore-mentioned kids, one of whom just officially started middle school and has the attitude to match! Oy to the vey.

7. Write a full description of yourself.

I have. It's called this damn blahg. Read more of it and you won't need me to answer this question, dangit.

8. To which social class do you belong?

Go f*ck yourself. That one. Heh. I'm klassy, see? See?

9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?

I don't know why, but this question made me laugh out loud. Okay, so, you really want to know? All righty, then, let's have at it:

Allergies: I answered that yesterday. Scroll.


10. Are you right- or left-handed?


11. What does your voice sound like?

It's high-pitched, like, shrill and stuff. When I Viggle, erm, nothing, just to rack up points, and I talk through the Viggling process, three times now it's come up with Jersey Shore as the show I'm watching. No, I'm not bragging. Heh.

12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?

They all have four letters.

13. What do you have in your pockets?

Nothing, unless you count my hands, checking, a coupla seconds ago.

14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

Quirks: I tried asking my husband to list them, because I know I have a lot, but he's a freaking dumbass who can't wrap his feeble mind around the concept of limiting it to the called-for length of this post. Does that help?

Strange mannerisms: "What's the difference between a Strange Mannerism and a Quirk?" asks Hubs. I have to agree.

Annoying Habits: "You HAVE to be right, at all costs." - Hubs

"That's not true, we're still married. And I am always right." - Me

Other Defining Characteristics: "Cute as hell, smart as shit, and funny as all get-out." - Hubs. Again, I have to agree. (See, I'm funny.)

Sunday Stealing: Who Are you? Part 2–The Growing Up Meme

15. How would you describe your childhood in general?

 It sucked ROYALLY after my mom died when I was seven. Before that, it was pretty blissful. She was an angel. I have her on The Pedestal of Maternal Perfection. After that, I buried myself in school to get away from my craptastic family. 

16. What is your earliest memory?

I'm three years old, happy as can be, running and laughing with my arms up in the air all the way down the hall to my mommy. I don't remember why.

17. How much schooling have you had?

I have a New York Regent's diploma from high school. I have a B.S. with a double major in Marine Science (our honor society, no lie, was Rho Rho Rho, which I absolutely loved!) and Biology (Beta Beta Beta), and a minor in Chemistry, from the University of Miami. Graduated with Honors and in the Golden Key Society.

I did an internship in Fisheries Biology at Mote Marine Lab before working for a year and a half on my Ph.D. in Biology studying the functional and ecological morphology (aka "Ecomorphology" (a wiki link, which is of great humour to me!) of elasmobranch fishes (aka sharks, skates & rays) with the premier scientist in the field, before realizing I wanted a life more than the constant publish-or-perish and writing for grant money stress, so I left, to many peoples' shock and chagrin. Plus, I felt inadequate, so it was then that I joined Mensa to re-establish myself - to myself - as an intellectual, empirically academic individual, and yes, sadly, I needed to pull out that card and look at it almost every day.

I worked on the (sickeningly - to me - less rigorous) Master's in Science Ed. program at the same school for a semester after leaving my prestigious doctoral program, but I lost my scholarship in doing so, so I needed to take some time off to earn money to return. It was during that time that I met Rob. We eloped two months after meeting and got pregnant on our wedding night, so I've never gone back. I plan to go to law school and practice Family Law until I get a judgeship in that field, once the kids are grown.

Whew! Oh, and I'm CPR-certified. Hee.

18. Did you enjoy school?

Did you read the above? Yes, it would be quite untrue to say anything less than that I adored it. I'd be the Perpetual Student if I could afford to be.

19. Stop and count, since you were born until today; how many homes have you
lived in?

Nineteen, not counting moving in and out of the same places multiple times. The number would skyrocket exponentially if I did that.

20. While growing up, did you have any role models?

My three or four best friends' seemingly normal, unconditionally-loving parents, and my grandparents filled that position.

21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?

Heh. I may be in therapy forever thanks to my upbringing. It's a wonder I'm "only" bipolar and not schizophrenic, or have Multiple Personality Disorder, or something... although I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. :/

22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Forever, I'd wanted to be a marine biologist. And for a while, I can say I was...

23. What were your favorite activities 3 years ago?

Let's see. Probably: Hanging out with my family, wasting time online, and, okay, rapidly losing massive poundage, since I'd just had my surgery!

24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?

I was and remain painfully shy around those I didn't/don't know well. I'm horrible at small talk; I think it's the dumbest thing ever, sorry. I was and remain freaking hysterical around my kindred spirits. ;) I was probably bipolar from my tween or early teen years on, although it's only been six years since I was finally diagnosed. I was and remain impulsively suicidal when the slightest things go wrong, though a good cocktail of meds now help to control those impulses. As a very young child, until Mom died, I was joyous, sweet, kind, loving, and an all-around great kid. I'm in therapy to return to being that person, whom I believe I was born to be.

25. As a child, were you popular?

The smartest and funniest people in the room gravitated toward me. Especially when I was by myself.

26. When and with whom was your first kiss?

Kenny, when I was 14, at Tri-County Mall in B'ville, NY. It. Was. Awesome.

27. Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.

I talk to my therapist about that. You don't have the time. TRUST ME ON THIS! You've already had an eyeful here, anyway. ;)

28. What’s next?

Next, Hubs retires, and we skip town the beginning of March, to wend our way westward to San Diego. He'll begin nursing school, and we'll all begin exploring our newfound surroundings. I simply cannot wait!!!!

Well, that was quite sobering for me. Reflective. Memory-lane tripping. I'm off to get a Diet Coke refill and a hug from Hubs, if I can wake his narcolepic arse...

See y'all next week!


Friday Fragments


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


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

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

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



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

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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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


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


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


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


to this:


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Premature Exposure

I've been knitting hexipuffs for my Beekeeper's Quilt. I bought 12 differently-coloured mini-skeins from the UK's The Knitting Goddess, but I've only finished knitting up nine of them. I don't care, I still want to show and tell, so you'll just have to wait for the other three. I showed you a few already, but I'm going to show you them again, just because I'm wild and crazy like that. Here we go, wheeeee:



Colour Pop Pink

Colour Pop Pink

Draw Breath

Draw Breath

Fibre Flurry

Fibre Flurry

Happy Feet

Happy Feet

Red Desert

Red Desert

Soft sky

Soft Sky

Summer Sun

Summer Sun



So do ya wanna see them all together now? Well, do you???!! (I love saying that; it's from the movie Up, from the beginning...) There are about 155 or so now, maybe more:


They kind of remind me of Easter eggs right now, but I suppose that's appropriate. Chloë thinks there are too many dark ones; do you? Well, do you???!! Okay, okay, I already did that once. I think it's dark with plenty of pops of color to make up for it, so it's aiight. And no, like many people do, I didn't go for any particular color theme, scheme or dream. I just went with what I had and bought some things I liked. Works for me!

Back later with more pics and posts.


P.S. Chloë says there are 158 puffs.

When The Going Gets Tough...

Yesterday, Sunday, was the ninth anniversary of our son Robby's death. I always keep a three-day vigil, during what was once his short little life, and hope for a different outcome. It's always the same in the end, of course, but I do it just the same. I imagine I'm not the only mother to do this. Saturday, Day Two, was my "I'm so angry, I gotta MOVE" day, so I broke out the long-neglected rollerblades and went for an hour-long spin all over the neighborhood:


I hate how I look in these pictures, but there's nothing I can do about that right now, short of plastic surgery. Plus, I had shorts on under the skirt, so my butt looks enormous. Hee. Oh, well.

Sunday was the actual anniversary. I woke up sobbing around 0300. Sophia, to my chagrin, came down to find out what was the matter. I explained about Robby, and she went to fetch Daddy, who came to comfort me. My nose always expands about 300-fold when I cry really hard, I think:


I don't know why I took the picture; I just love the iPhone's Instagram app so much!

When I'm stressed, aside from taking my pills, I have to do something to de-stress, and my go-to hobby of choice is knitting. And so, for the first time in a month, or maybe two?, I started hexipuffing:

Summer Sun

At long last, I broke into my delightful mini-skeins from The Knitting Goddess, pulling out Summer Sun first because it was just the cheery colorway I needed at the moment. Each mini makes, for me, three full puffs with enough for maybe 1/3-to-½ of another. Plenty; I was expecting two!
When I finished that trio, I napped. For a very long time.

When I finished that trio, it was about two house later, or perhaps three, so I went down to "my" 7-Eleven for a Diet Coke and a white rose. I was in luck; they actually had one nearly-perfect specimen. Just one:


In past years, we let go a slew of baby blue balloons for a happy-birthday message to the wee laddie, but the environmentalist in me could no longer stomach that. I took to Facebook for suggestions and got a number of lovely ideas, but the one we decided to go with was letting rose petals go in the water for him. Hence the rose.


We got this stone out of a catalog years ago, maybe the first year, and it sits out in the front "lawn" with the rest of the stones that our living trio made with their hand- and footprints and various stones and marbles.

I started to knit some more, but by then I was exhausted again, physically and emotionally, so I napped. For a very long time.

At last, Rob was waking me up, telling me it was time we go let the petals free in the water. It was a cold, rainy day, just the sort of day for such a thing, I suppose, so we bundled up and headed out to Chick's Beach. It's normally a very calm beach with soothing waters and empty sands, much more suitable than the oceanfront for such an endeavor, but we were in for it this time. The tide was in, and the storm had riled things up quite so; we got soaked and froze our little selves to death!

Jack took his petals from me and went first:

Jack Petals

Next up was big sister Chloë:

Chloë Petals

She placed her petals in so delicately for her brother, true to form.

Sophia went next:

Sophia Petals

Unlike her more dainty older sister, Sophia, who is a bit more... brutish, shall we say... rather dumped hers into the water. All well and good. I told them each to do it however they wanted to do.

Daddy was the penultimate petal-pusher, before taking the camera from me:

Rob Petals

Poor Rob got absolutely soaked and frozen to the bone. I wore shorts and Crocs, so I was good:

Melanie Petals

I decided to just fling my petals all out at once, just as the wind blew in my face. Um, that plan therefore backfired, and my petals wound up all over the beach. Ah, well! I enjoyed the experience immensely; we'll be back to do it again next year.


Before we left the beach, Jack placed the rose stem and the sprig of Baby's Breath into the water for his brother and Robby's pals, before taking off running up the beach when the waves overtook him. Time to go.


When we got home, everyone showered except me, to get warm and rid themselves of wet and sandy clothes. And so, I wound a ball of the Goddess' "Twirl" colorway - it's beachy-hued and appropriate, right? - and knit three more puffs before taking another wee nap.

When I awoke, it was after 2300, just in time to go on my errand of bringing a friend to work, and now here we are, catching you up with Vigil 2012. I'm about to dig into another Goddess colourway; this time, it'll be Soft Sky:

Soft Sky

Maybe I'll have a few to show you on th'morrow, or maybe I won't and we'll just do our regular school routine. Until the next time, my loves, carry on and be well.


Sunday Stealing: The 99'er Meme, Part The Second

Sunday Stealing

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

Cheers to all of us thieves!

26) Are you happy with the person you've become?

Starting off with a bang, aren't we? Well, not entirely, which is why I'm in intensive therapy and on meds: to help me BE and BECOME the person I want to be.

27) What's a sound you hate; sound you love?

I hate the sound of my husband reading to the children! Hahaha, it's awul to say, but I hate his "kid reading" voice. A sound I love is their laughter. Unless I have a headache, and then it's all about the STFU.
28) What's your biggest "what if"?

Oh, I guess that would have to be "what if" I had stayed in my Ph.D. program in Ichthyology at the University of South Florida, gotten my doctorate, and spent the rest of my life studying shark ecomorphology. Who would I have married? WOULD I have married? What about the kids? Nah... I'm glad I left. What I ended up with is much more desireable, I think.
29) Do you believe in ghosts? How about aliens?

We've had both these questions, together, recently. I refuse to answer out of sheer boredom with them.
30) Stick your right arm out; what do you touch first? Do the same with your left arm.
Right: a pair of aviator sunglasses I've yet to wear. Left: laptop.
31) Smell the air. What do you smell?
Cat poop. I need to buy new litter, in the worst, worst way!!

32) What's the worst place you have ever been to?
My house, growing up, after my mom died and my dad married The Bitch From Hell.

33) Choose: East Coast or West Coast?
I'm a lifelong (almost) East Coaster, but that may change... still, I'll always belong to the Right Coast.

34) Most attractive singer of your opposite gender?
Hmm. Enrique Iglesias isn't bad to look at, I guess. First name to pop into my head.

35) To you, what is the meaning of life?
To live, rather than exist, reproduce, grow, change, die, and decompose. To leave the world a better place than when I arrived.

36) Define: Art.
My late maternal grandfather. ;)

37) Do you believe in luck?
Hm, no, not really. I've said it a hundred times: I believe you reap what you sow.

38) Patriots or Giants? Or, who gives a rat's ass?
That last part is exactly what I'd have said, if you didn't.

39) Will you watch the game? If yes, with whom?
Nope. Not watching. (All the UK people are going, "What game? Rugby?")

40) Do you drive? If so, have you ever crashed?
I do, and I have. In St. Pete, Florida, I had just moved there, got lost, and accidentally made a right turn from the center lane when I realized I needed to make that turn, not even realizing I wasn't in the right. BOOM! The car in the right lane slammed into me. D'oh! Totaled that car.

41) What was the last book you read?
Gosh, how embarrassing, but I don't think I've read a book in two years or so. So it would be The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, if I recall correctly. Kids' books don't count.

42) Do you like the smell of gasoline?
I'm neutral on the subject.

43) Do you have any nicknames?
You see the title of my blog? That's my 'main' nickname, there. My real name is Melanie, not Ann, as many people think.

44) What was the last movie you saw?
Beauty and the Beast 3D - we took the kids to the midnight showing on opening night, and it was awesome.

45) What's the worst injury you've ever had?
Before my third c-section, the effing student anesthesiologist poked me in the spine six times trying to do my spinal, and he hit a nerve that nearly launched me off the operating table (at 38+ weeks pregnant with Sophia!) when he nicked it. I could barely walk for years, and I only got my full mobility back after losing over 200 lbs.
Take home message: Teaching hospitals are great and necessary and all that, but don't ever let a student anesthesiologist near your spinal cord. Let 'em fuck up someone else.

46) Have you ever caught a butterfly?
Well, yeah, I suppose I've caught a few in my day.

47) Do you have any obsessions right now?
Getting rid of my weeks-long migraine. Other than that, hexipuffing.

48) What's your sexual orientation?
I'm straight as an arrow, you rude thing, you.

49) Ever had a rumor spread about you?

Duh. I did go through middle and high school...
50) Do you believe in magic?
Pfft. No. It's all illusion, you know that as well as I do.

And that's the end of that.

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

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.)

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. :)

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'.


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.


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!


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?


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!


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!


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? ;)


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.


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!

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.


The Only Puffing Going On Here


Life has been hectic and crazy and chaotic and unruly and all that usual gar-bazh, but I'm still hexipuffing away in between moments of crazy and... all that. The Bob just took this picture of me knittering away on the latest puff, which I just now finished. That's how current this post is. I know. I'm so up-to-the-minute like that. I'm freakin' CNN.

100 Hexipuffs

In fact, this morning, I finished my 100th puff! 'Twas brillig, because I was all excited to tell Chloë that when she woke up, and she instantly got to counting them, saying, "There's no way there are 100 in that bag already!" And she was right, dammit. There were 98. So my 10-year-old bursted my bubblage, which was fine, because that meant I couldn't do anything until I had finished two more puffs, right? And so here they are, in all their glory. 100 hexipuffs. (I'm a few past that by now, but I don't know how many. I'm sure Chlo will tell me tomorrow. She's constantly counting and rearranging them, the little Rainwoman.)

What the dickens is a hexipuff, you ask? You don't remember my linkage? Go here to see what shall be made of all these glorious little works of knitting art. Go now, do it, see for yourself. Then come back.

Cool, right? And no, I'm not selling it. I'm keeping this hard work all to my - well, our - selves. I don't know how many more I'm going to make. I'll just know when I'm done. I'm not there by a long shot, though.


I looked up after the knitting-in-action shot just in time for The Bob to take this librarianesque photo of me. Yes, I have a lot of freckles. No, I can't stand wearing these glasses, because they slide down my nose like they belong in my mouth, and that drives me crazy, which you all know is so short a trip we don't even have to get in the car.

Anyway. That's the latest knitting news. Now let me go through the pictures and see what else I can share with you, m'kay? 'Kay.


I Don't Give A Crap

First order of business for this first post of January:

Happy 1

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


A Brief Stroll Down Memory Lane


Hey, remember when Jack was about 3½ and I made these freakin' cute sweaters? I did a dumb thing: instead of keeping them for MY children, I sold them on eBay for way less than they were worth. I could still kick myself!


Here's baby Sophia wearing the same cabled and bobbled sweater. I know! Can you believe that's really her?! She has changed SO much since she was a baby, one can scarcely recognize her. Even her own mother. Crazy.


Here's the other one. I just did a search for them on Mary Maxim, where I originally got the kits, but they no longer seem to be available there. Shame. I mean, I still have the patterns (I think?!) and can use any yarns I want, but that doesn't help anyone else, does it?


And again, Sophie modeling the same get-up. I have to laugh, because I remember intentionally not wanting her to stand up on the chaise lounge, there, but you couldn't keep her down! The kid walked at seven months (!!) and has been on the move ever since.

Hrm, well, a quick-but-extensive search online didn't turn up an alternate source, so... that stinks. I hope they're still available somewhere, because they're super-cute, right?

Anyway. I'm still deep in the midst of my illness that's been going on since the 12th, so not a lot going on here today. I might look at a magazine or two. Exciting, right?


Are You Lookin' At My Ass?


This is what you're in for tonight. (Click to embiggerate, as usual.) What? You want to see the pics individually? Well, all righty, then, I think we can manage that...


But first, I'm up to some, oh, 43 hexipuffs, and I've been asked several times what I plan to do with the darn things. Oh, but didin't I link you here, to the Beekeeper's Quilt, already? Eventually, they'll be sewn together for a fun, poofy, multi-colored and -textured blanket, and I simply cannot wait to do that. I'm hexipuffing every free moment and enjoying every minute of it. Won't you join me, oh, ye knitters of the world? You don't knit, you say? Well, there's also a free Ravelry crochet equivalent, if you're so inclined... but anyway, that's what they're for. Aren't they cool? (Say yes or I'll cry.)

So anyway... (ugh, I'm full. Chloë has been all about baking bread in the bread machine lately, and her latest creation, chocolate chip-honey-oat bread just finished baking. I had a rather-too-large hunk of it with nary a chocolate chip in the slice. Life is so unfair. But I digress yet again...)


We had a homeschoolers' field trip to the Hunt Club Farm Winter Wonderland tonight, so the first thing our kids ran to do after we got our wristbands and entered through the lighted arch was run through the light maze. Lots of these pictures are blurry, and I apologize for that, but I'm still learning the settings on my Nikon. Yes, I got it in February, and no, I have not yet read the instruction manual. All in due time. These were all taken on the nighttime setting, which would have been great if the little people were not in constant freaking motion...!


Sophia, as usual, was the fastest. You'd think she was running through a laser security light field thingy.


She did pause for a quick smile at Mom after the maze, though. Time to cut the bangs again, eh?


After the light maze, we happened upon the Nativity scene, where Jack was pointing at the donkey and saying,...


..."Hey! You ass!" Then, to us, "What? That's what they're called!" What could we do but agree?



Apparently there were llamas and alpacas at the birth of Jesus, too. Who knew?


The children running through the archway on the way to the Wonderland workshop


They were here last year, too, and it was very similar then, but that didn't stop them from being amazed and wanting to touch everything in sight.


I do like me some cocks. Peacocks, people. Peacocks. Sheesh. (Heh heh)


Sophia was the most hands-on of the kids, as usual. She's very handsy. She's not the type of kid you bring to a glassware store, you know what I'm sayin'?


There were lots of little vignettes set up of elves working at various tasks. I didn't care what they were doing. I just wanted to get all three kids in one decent shot. Watch. I tried again and again.


I don't know what Jack was looking at, but in this picture, my eye keeps being drawn to the fact that it looks like the fawn is trying to nurse from his daddy. Um...


My attempt at an artsy picture


There's just something about a praying mantis that screams "Christmas!" isn't there?



Another awesome shot of the back of the three kidlets. Hey, whatever, man. They're cute from any angle, I maintain.


Soapster petting the swan


The swan's nest of 'eggs'


Chloë's always reliable for a good pose, huh? The polar bear was pretty compliant, too.


More of the the three children's backs, as they admire the doll factory


What the hell is that? A bunny? Yeah, a bunny. And an unnaturally bright child. Maybe this is Sophie's audition for Twilight.


I forget what this was that was flying around, but I think it was penguins. Yeah, that's the ticket. Rob was mocking them, because, ah, penguins. Flying. You know?


Three faces! Score! Ten points for me. Nothing for you, except eleventy more pictures.


So this elf was totally drunk on moonshine, a fact that tickled Rob and I mercilessly. I mean, we weren't falling down laughing, but we had a few good giggles over it. I mean, this was supposed to be for the kids, wasn't it? And there was a damn drunk elf! Nice.


El niño, Jackalope


Oh, here we go, back to the backs of the chirren. Looking at skiing bears. You know, I've never gone downhill skiing in my life. That's on my bucket list, too. It's a rather long list. But I'm going on yet another tangent...


So I did a freaking spectactular job of capturing the three kids in a billion pictures, where NONE of their faces were visible. Go, me!!


Sophia admiring more elfin (elvish?) scenery


Train-obsessed Jack couldn't help but get down on all fours to admire this little set-up. Give that boy anything that goes and he's a happy little mofo boy.



Hey, guys, stand in front of that tree and smile! Or, well, do that!


Santa wasn't on his couch when we got up front to take pictures with him, so I had the kids pose in his absence. They no longer believe in him anyway, so they didn't care much. They were happy just to get the candy cane out of his basket and leave, but then...



...he showed up, like, a minute later. He asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Sophia told him, "Oh, you wouldn't know what it was if I told you." I died laughing. As if! Santa knows everything. He's like the god of toys. I forget what it was she thought would stump him, but it was something to do with Barbies. That girl is Barbie-crazy.



Immediately outside, Rob and the kids were drawn to this Blacksmith Shop, which was cool and all, except for this one creepy thing Rob found on the ledge:


A severed hand, with a missing finger! What in the hell? Merry, merry, ho, ho, ho!


Time to go back through the lighted archway to head toward the bonfires. We brought our own bag of marshmallows. We paid just over a buck for a whole bag. They were selling them there for five for a dollar. Um, yeah. This place is making BANK.


"Kids, run through the arches, so I can get a picture of your heads looking invisible like in Back to the Future!" Okay, so that's not exactly what I said, but it might as well have been.


The kids wanted to stop and look at the turkey in the chicken coop. So here are four turkeys...


I always have the kids say something when I take their picture, something silly, so they're smiling and laughing (theoretically) when I make the snap. Half the time, I catch them mid-phrase, so it looks like this. I'm no Annie Leibovitz, what can I say?


Finally, the moment we were all waiting for: marshmallow roasting time! I ate about six too many. I think I had seven. I like them on fire, roasted to a crisp. It's the only food I like burnt. Otherwise, blech. The kids, they like them practically raw, with no brown on them or anything. Rob has it down to an art form. They were disappointed we didn't get hot dogs this year, but hey, we were on a tight budget, and the 'mallows themselves were a splurge we could barely afford, this being the first half of the month, after all. But anyway, anyhow.


These are mine. This is how I like my marshmallows roasted. Crispy. Fried. Mmm. Hot and black, like I like my men... ;P (That will elicit a mock-indignant "uh!" out of the hubs, I know.)


Smoke gets in your eyes... and hers... and mine... and all of ours...


Chloë in the obligatory, singular black-and-white pose. of which I don't do enough, I think....


One last marshmallow-roasting picture before we decided to pack it in for the night. We'd have stayed longer, but I was freezing. It really is time for me to pack in the Crocs flip-flops, but I love them so dearly, I haven't had the heart to break out the sneakers or boots yet...


And so, we left. Good-bye, Hunt Club Farm. Until next year.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

I had, like, the worst headache ever yesterday, for half the day. Coincidentally or otherwise, I was also in the worst mood ever. Every single thing pissed me off royally. You ever get in that mood? I Hate it!! Even being mad makes me mad. Ah well. I'm over it now. But still, very annoying. I had to text Rob to steer clear, to give him fair warning!

We went to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, for the third time, earlier this week. It was our early Christmas celebration. I enjoyed it immensely, though our budget for this trip was more strict than ever, because the kids were old enough to let loose in the waterpark. This allowed Rob and I to go on the more grown-up slides plenty of times without worrying about the kids. I gave them two rules: No leaving the waterpark area without a parent, and if you needed one of us, meet at our table and wait until one of us showed up. I checked back frequently, and it worked out well. Other than finding Sophia with some lifeguards getting a bandage after a scrape, there were no issues, and we all had a fantastic time. I've been SO stressed and anxious lately, and it was a nice little 24-hour escape from that for me. I needed it!  (Pictures to follow in a separate post.)

Speaking of GWL, while there, we gave Chloë her big Christmas present: a cell phone. She's SO excited about it and wants to use it like crazy, but we've reined her in pretty well. She understands, at ten, that there are strict rules about usage, but we felt that the time was right for her to have one, especially since we occasionally leave her home for very brief periods and don't have a landline. Peace of mind, basically. Do your kids have their own phones? How old were they when they got one?

Tonight, we're going to the Pumpkin Farm for their Christmas celebration, as part of a homeschool field trip. We went last year, too, to visit the farm animals, see the lights, and - to the kids' utter delight - roast marshmallows and hot dogs. They don't know yet that we're going, so it'll be a lovely surprise for them later in the day. Hopefully we can get plenty of school done first, since this week has largely been a bust on that front!

If you do yoga, can you give me some tips for getting started? I used to do it years ago, but it's been so long, I don't know where to get started. We have it on the Wii Fit, but the Wii Remote has vanished, so I can't do that, argh. I need to do it to help control my anxiety. I'm more worried I'll be stressed about my form, but I guess I just need to let that one go and concentrate on the breathing and meditation aspects, eh?

I guess that's all I've got for now. I think I'll go knit a hexipuff before getting back to the work I was doing before: getting my list of bills together. Exciting stuff, bills. The hexipuffs are way more fun:


001 (2)

On that note, see you next week and have a great weekend!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Hiya, fellow fragmenting folks! Link up here if you're into bits 'n' pieces today! Thanks for hosting, Mrs. 4444. ♥

So I haven't blogged much this week, not like more than a handful (a small handful, like a lemur's hand. Wait, a lemur's hand? Nevermind...) of people noticed, but I did change the blog header. Do ya like it? I didn't mean to include myself in there, but I couldn't figure out how to center the kids' picture, and I didn't want all that blank space, so... there I am! But the kids, so cute, right??

Mrs. 4444 asked for a health update on my hubs. So here it is: We saw Neuro on Wednesday, and he was in and outta there in five minutes or less. Basically, his spinal MRI was all clear, and they ruled out the Von Hippel-Lindau disease, so that's good. He's still having headaches sometimes, but they're fewer and farther between, if not more mild. So the current treatment will just involve maintenance for that, and occasional monitoring of the benign tumor (cavernous angioma) in his cerebellum. Pretty good. Guess I can stop lining up potential future suitors and counting my life insurance money now, right? (I jest, I kid, I josh, I joke!!)

So I've been hexipuffing these last coupla days. What's a hexipuff, you ask? Why, here are four I've done:


So if you can't tell from the pictures, they're little knitted hexigon-shaped pockets stuffed with a wee bit of fiberfill, and then when you've made enough, you sew them together to make a kind of hexipuff quilt, AKA the Beekeeper's Quilt, as seen here. Cool, huh? I like making them. It doesn't take long to make one, or use up a lot of yarn, so I'm addicted to doing it when I have a down moment (okay, and sometimes when I should be doing eleventy-billion other things, like, um, always...)

Do you have pets? Love 'em? Take pictures of 'em sometimes? Go answer my Aloha Friday question here, pretty pretty please! If you have a post, link to it in your comment as well, and I'll answer yours. Thanky kindly!

So I have had a major upset stomach (TMI but we're talking both ends, living in the bathroom) for three days now. It's NO fun, and I feel sooooo weak. It made me miss my Girl Scout meeting for the second meeting in a row, and I felt badly about that until I learned two things (a) everyone was glad I didn't bring my tummy bug to get them all sick and not mad at me, and (b) they ran the meeting with my Daisies anyway, so the girls didn't miss out. Still, I felt like a crappy Leader. Well, pardon the pun...


Here's the (undoctored) photo that didn't make the cut into the blog header. I think I made the right choice. What do you think?


Did you know you could shrink Crocs by putting them in the dryer? True story! Chloë accidentally washed the one on the right and, well, now we're out a pair of shoes, darn it! Funny, though. I guess we'll wash the other one and give them to someone with smaller feet, huh?


So I took the kids to Sears for their portraits (free sitting fee & 8x10, so that's all I'm getting, because hello, we po') on Monday, and it was first thing when they opened, so no one else was there. So why did it take over an hour, and I STILL didn't get to pick my portrait? Because their computer system wasn't functioning properly. Ugh. That was annoying. That picture better be cute, if I ever get back there to choose it.... ;P

(Note that these are the girls' holiday dresses but not Jack's, which was supposed to be here by the 30th, and, uh, it's not. Grr. Grr, Old Navy, I say, grr!)

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So I've been lame and kind of giving the kids Christmas presents whenever I feel like it, instead of waiting until the actual Day o' Christmas this year. Anyway, I made this dress and shawl (color combo chosen by Chloë; don't blame me!) for Chlo's new American Girl doll that she got for her birthday. Don't you think Faith looks so cute in it? It was super fast to make, too. I'm going to make her a bunch of outfits so she has a whole wardrobe of hand knits. Hey, I like knitting (and crocheting) on a small scale, what can I say?


Speaking of giving them early Christmas presents, they each got one of these cool nightlight lamp thingies from Discovery Kids. Did I show you these already? Well, I gave them to 'em. It was cool because I asked each one privately, separately, which one they really wanted most, and they each chose a different one! Serendipity, baby!!!


One last pic and then I'll let you be. So I totally got these Webkinz (another Christmas present for the kids, I know, I know) for FREE! Can't beat that. I didn't pay one thin, uh, penny, not even for tax. Can you saw AWESOME? Because that was. And they were happy! Look at the boy! The one who "doesn't know how to smile" is doing a pretty good job of it there, eh?

Okay. That's all I got. Lucky you!!  Happy weekend.


A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama


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

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


I love Instagram.

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


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

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

Instead, here's what:


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


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

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

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


Well, there are a few reasons.

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



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

So why San Diego?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We'd love some of this:


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


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


Dang. Just dang.


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


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


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

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

Adjective cartoon

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


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

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


That's the plan, Stan!


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

HollywoodSign ,

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

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


Hurricane Irene Hits: 27 August 2011


So, we had ourselves a li'l ol'-fashioned hurricane this weekend, and her name was Irene. Much was said about Irene in the days leading up to her arrival. If you asked 47 different sources about her path, severity and potential for damage, you'd have gotten 47 different answers. So, between that and the fact that we couldn't afford to evacuate anyhow, we decide to stay put and, well, weather the storm in our humble abode. My pal Jenny from the Block let her two kiddos have a slumber party in their hallway, so I copied her and let my three-o have one in the living room Friday night. They promptly set up about 900 seven folding chairs to make their respective tents and settled in to watch a movie or twelve.

I figured they'd fall asleep around midnight. Give or take. Well, give (or is it take?) five hours, because they all pretty much konked out right at 0500, all at once. Up 'til that point, they drove me absolutely crazy, which, as you know, is a very short trip. I did everything I could think of to get them to go to sleep, which really means I shouted said, "Go to sleep!!" approximately six thousand times. And I do not ever exaggerate. Never. Please note: that is not an effective means of getting my kids to go to sleep, if you're ever in charge of their slumber. Remember that. You pretty much have to sock them over the head with a club and stuff. I kid. Just use a sock. That still won't work though. (I'm in a mood, if you can't tell.)

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This was the kids at, like, 3 AM. Since my desktop computer, my beloved Dell, went to the big PC recyclator in the sky on the day of Thor, I was stuck on the couch using my laptop. I hate this freakin' laptop. I hate laptops in general, but this one seems to be particularly cursed with shittiness. But, I have it, and so let's be thankful for that, shall we? Yes. We shall. Anywho, I was on the couch - the blue one, while Rob slept for about 93 hours in a row on the red one - the whole time the kids had their slumber party (emphasis on "party" with the word "slumber" being completely unnecessary). I checked my email 100,000 times, and Facebook, and my Google Reader, and generally exhausted my interest therein. I even knit a few rows on the Sparkle! dress before I got bored of that, too. Well, not really bored. It's just too freakin' hot to knit wool, so I gave that up in a hurry. (I'm ridiculously close to finishing the front half, though, so I really ought to get back to it post-haste.) (Why not pre-haste?)

Hurricane Irene

We all woke up sometime around 1300, which is 1 PM for you non-military American-types, and Hurricane Irene was in full swing by then. This was Saturday afternoon. While Jack kept busy watching out the back door for the "eye" to hit (it never did, poor laddie), the girls decided to clear the living room floor and have a dance party. I put on modern hits for them like, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Lauper, Cyndi, and "Hey Mickey," by Toni Basil. They didn't care as long as the beat kept bumpin'. Had themselves a grand old time. As did I, watching them. At one point, I tried to join, but they made me sit down. I don't know why. I have skilz. I can do the running man, y'all.

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Around 1600, suffering from major cabin fever, Chloë asked me if she could go get the mail. In the middle of a hurricane, FPS! So I went outside, determined she could handle the weathah, and agreed. It was a wee bit windy but not too gusty, or else my 2-lb girl would NOT have been allowed out there. This is her running across the street to the boxes o' mail. If we didn't live right there, I shan't have allowed her.

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Here she is, just about to check the mail...


...and here she is getting knocked into the next box by the wind. By that point, I was ready to run out there and grab her, but she called out to me, "I'M OKAAAAAY MOM," so I held still.


She made it back in one piece, hiding the mail under her raincoat - but not before dropping half of it into a huge puddle under that white truck. And one of them was a mystery shopping paycheck for me. D'oh!


As Saturday darkened and turned into evening, the tents returned. The girls were making it, and they refused to let Jack in, which of course made him want to go in more than he otherwise would have cared to do. Tell me this is not the cutest picture of him ever?!!


Sophia didn't care that he was in there, but Chloë had a total flip-out break-down about it (she does that frequently) and was subsequently sent to her room for a calming session. She sets my heart to racing, that one does. Regularly.


We all fell asleep much earlier that night, and by the time we awoke on Sunday, the rain was finished. Irene had passed, and we turned out to be some of the lucky ones who never lost power, not even for a minute, despite a few foreboding flickers. Several hundred thousand between here and Richmond are predicted to be power-less for up to two weeks. A few locals lost their lives in the storm - including two children, I hear - and a family I know lost their house and everything in it. They're in my homeschooling co-op, so the members are banding together to provide whatever we can for them. All-in-all, this little bit of flooding in our neighborhood streets is the most we've suffered, and for that, I am thoroughly grateful.


The streets up the other way, out of the neighborhood, are like lakes right now, but that's the extent of our "damage." Well, that and a piece of roofing we lost, but Rob can fix that, easy-peasy. He's already replaced it once before, after the November '09 Nor'easter. Anyway, when I went out for a look-see around our neighborhood, I saw four ducks swimming in the street-lake, which made me chuckle. It's not as cool as this:


but at least it was real, so hey. Ducks. They are so cute, swimming in the street.

Anyway, that's our Irene story. Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts, and I hope any of you reading this who experienced Irene also fared as well!


P.S. Chloë posted a blog about it as well, and it's here if you care to read. She'd love your comments!

The First Weekend In June

I keep feeling like I had this unproductive weekend, because I didn't accomplish my singular goal at all, so here is a run-through of what I actually did do, to make myself feel better. And to share with you, because I know you hang on the edge of your seat, waiting for me to post these scintillating things I talk about, right?

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First, like I mentioned, there was desire to paint in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Now. So I painted the pantry door. And the little bitty corner of wall next to it, which of course meant that more painting in the kitchen would need to happen, or else that little green section of wall would like mighty curious, all by itself.


Well, the real first first was making the pizza cake, from Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning. 


And the second thing, immediately after finishing the cake, was scooping up the leftover cake and frosting and constructing these cake pops. These are long since gone, sold right away, but like I (think I) posted yesterday, more can be made if you need parting gifts for Teacher, or a special graduate, or Dad, or, well, anybody, because I really don't care whom you give them to, as long as you buy some. Heh.

So the third thing, then, was painting the door.

I went back and forth all day Saturday after that, moving kitchen furniture (that would be the full baker's rack, the deep freezer, and the table and chairs), scrubbing sections of wall piece by piece, paint first, second, and the exasperatingly always-necessary third coat... and coming back here to play on Facebook and run my stupid Farmville. (I call it "stupid," but I really like it. It gives me a quick opportunity to take frequent breaks from whatever I'm doing, and I've always been a girl who likes taking frequent breaks. Maybe I do have ADHD, but that's how I manage it. Whatever. Moving on.)


As part of this parenting course we're doing right now (more on that later), Rob and I are each supposed to spend 10 minutes of true quality time with each of the kids, twice per day. So Sophia and I spent one of our ten-minute sessions painting the back of the kitchen wall. I did all the cutting in around the edges, and she painted in the middle. I guided her with the correct way to hold the brush and move it back and forth, back and forth, and then she went and did it her own way. Which is fine. You can lead a horse to water...


Chloë wanted a painting turn after that, too, so I spent another segment of quality time showing her the same things I'd shown Sophia. She did it more exactly like I showed her, because that is her way. She, being a Virgo like me, is quite a bit of a perfectionist. I am doing my best, now, seeing this, and knowing how difficult it is to be that way, to guide her away from that tendency. It's not easy. Anyway, so they helped me paint the walls.

Jack wanted to paint, too, but he was never available when I was ready for him, because he spent a great deal of the weekend outside with the neighbor kids, riding his bike, driving his Cadillac Escalade Power Wheels, using the girls' scooter, and generally getting dirty and having a ball. So I didn't force the 10 minutes on him, although I do think it's especially important that he and I connect for those 20 min per day. I'll work on it, getting it in.


So eventually, the bottom half of the kitchen got painted, as far as I could go without moving the refrigerator. Luckily, I have plenty of paint left, for whenever Rob gets around to helping me with that. (I tried, but I'm a weenie.)

In the eight-plus years we've lived here, the kitchen has always been at the top of my "gotta change this" list, but for some reason, it has escaped my ministrations thus far. I even have the paint for the top half. Well, now that we've had to keep the windows open all the time (no AC), the cats have scratched out half the screens in the house, and they've all but shredded the café curtains covering the kitchen windows. I hate it. And I hate the country-cottage-y wallpaper on the top half of the kitchen walls, too. That's fine and good, but I am just not a country-cottage-y type of person. I like bold, striking colors that pop. 

So I got up on the chairs and started to RRRRRRRRRIP the wallpaper off the walls, tossing big strips of it onto to floor, to the kids' shock and dismay. "Mom! What are you DOING?!" they demanded.

I just laughed and let their father explain. That's often the way things go around here. I laugh, and he's left to explain why.


I pulled off all the copper molds from around the top of the walls, too. I'm going to sell them. I collected them years ago, when we lived in Panama City, FL. And while I still absolutely adore copper - it's my favorite precious metal - it's just not the look I'm going for anymore. So they have to go. I don't have them listed anywhere yet, but I do have some interest. Let me know if you, too, want to stake a claim. I'm willing to break up the lot.

Because we didn't get Rob's Navy paycheck the first of the month and things are uncomfortably tight right now, and also because I'm trying to walk more and drive less in the interest of Saving The Planet, Chloë and I walked to the grocery store late Saturday evening. The kids were begging, crying, for milk, so I decided to break down and spend some of our very little money on a gallon. I mean, it's milk, and they're kids. Not exactly a luxury. 

Chloë and I had the best talk on our way to and from the store. We discussed physical beauty and why that might not be the most important thing about a person, and what things might be more important. She decided that being healthy was the most important thing, and being safe, so we talked about ways she could be healthy and safe. She came up with lots of fantastic answers, like eating junk foods in moderation, always wearing her helmet when she rides her bike or scooter, and getting the proper amount of sleep. I was impressed.


At the store, she "helped" me shop, and by that, I mean she pushed the little cart around and mostly observed as I made decisions about what to buy and what to leave at the store. We talked about the importance of shopping the perimeter - she remembered what "perimeter" meant from her studies in math - and, like eating junk food, using the processed foods in the center aisles in moderation. I had decided to make a Key Lime Pie for dessert, to use up the Key Limes I'd picked up at a roadside citrus stand in Florida a few weeks ago, so we bought the condensed milk and graham crackers I needed for that, comparing prices-per-unit and all that we always try to do.

And since I have a partially-made batch of hummus in the freezer, I decided that I should get a lemon or two (of which there were none, so I'm going to try Key Lime hummus instead!) and the tahini I need to finish it. We spent about six years looking for the damn tahini, which used to be much easier to find, back when they had a separate section for "health foods." (Now it's next to the mayonnaise and other condiments, in case you're wondering.)

Having "gone green" by walking to the store instead of driving, I'd have felt pretty crappy about getting one of those God-awful plastic grocery bags in which to lug our loot home, so I bought yet another 99¢ canvas bag, too. I just can't stand those plastic bags. They, among other things like inconsiderate smokers, people who drink copious amounts of bottled water and don't even recycle the bottles, and folks who take nine hours to make the right turn in front of me, are the absolute bane of my existence.


So we walked home, me lugging the bag full of milk-and-schtuff, and continued our nice, Mom-to-Daughter talk. Somehow it morphed into what life will be like as she eases into her teenage years, and how it's natural for girls to butt heads with their mothers frequently in those times. That really upset her. I made her promise to remember one thing: that no matter what she said or did, and no matter what I said or did, I would always love her more than she could understand until she was a mother herself. That eased her mind a bit.

Then that translated into a conversation about the pressures of being a teen and experimenting with things like drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex. I told her my hopes and expectations, and she asked good questions. Overall, it was a very productive conversation, and I'm so delighted we had the chance to have it.


So we got home, and I made the pie, and oh, my word, it was freaking delicious. Beyond expectations. I still have plenty of Key Limes, so I plan to bring another pie to our Gardening club this Thursday. Assuming I still have the gas to get there. Jack didn't like the pie, but everyone else devoured it with gusto. I had way more than I had any business having, but after cheesecake, Key Lime Pie has to be my fav... well, no, there's Dutch Apple Cream Pie, and Chocolate Chip Cookies, and... Uh. I just love sweets. I'm in the right business, I think. (And I'm glad I've discovered the power of prunes to help me take off any extra weight I might gain from sampling my own wares! Phooo, do those work well. Golly. *ahem*)

So that was Saturday.

Sunday, we didn't make it to church either, which was sad, especially since I'd visited their food pantry on Thursday after Girl Scouts, and they serviced us quite nicely. (That's something I've never done before in my life, and it's quite humbling. Thank you, to any and all of you who donate to the Food Bank. We haven't needed it before, but with this paycheck snafu, I'm certainly glad it's there for us in this time of need. Now if only there were a Gas Pantry, eh?)

I napped a lot on Sunday. Rob napped a lot, and Sophia did, too. The other two mostly watched Nova shows on the Wii, from Netflix. Jack is especially fond of the Nova programs, and particularly the ones that feed his transportation and mechanically-oriented brain. He'll watch the same ones about plane crashes or rockets taking off over and over, always going upstairs to get a toy that goes along with the program, and making-believe he's part of the action. It's pretty cool. Rob gets a huge kick out of his doing that.


For my evening 10-minute session with Sophia, she just wanted to play with the discarded boxes I'm trying to get rid of on Freecycle. She's decided she needs them for her tiny toys instead, like finger puppets and the Squinkies a friend gave her at her birthday party in April. Here she is admiring the bunk bed she made for her bunny finger puppet.


This is her favorite box, though, because "it's the biggest, and it has a window, so I can see what they're doing in there." She asked me to punch holes in the window with my knitting needle, so her bunny could breathe. And so I did, until she told me, "enough."

While Sophia had been napping earlier, I got started training Jack and Chloë on the way we do laundry, from beginning to end. They collected all the laundry in the house, sorted it into the proper piles, learned how to run the washer and the dryer, and then I showed them how to fold their own clothes. For now, I'll leave it at that, until I feel they're ready to start folding Mom & Dad's, and the towels and sheets. I've just always done the laundry myself and only had them run and put away their things. But with the parenting course, I see the error of my ways. I don't know why I didn't, but I guess I figured they would just pick it up eventually. Foolish. So now I'll be working on their "training," and we don't call them "chores" but rather "contributions." It's working out well. They feel important and significant, and Jack even commented that doing the laundry was "fun." (Not to me, but to his big sister. No way he'd let me hear such a thing on purpose!)


After dinner, when I wanted some knitting time on my sparkle! dress, and Chloë wanted a break from folding laundry, I asked her to spend a little quality time herself with Sophia. The two of them have been fighting a lot again lately, so I asked Chloë read Sophia some stories. She grumped and grumbled about it at first, but in the end, she read three stories to Soap without me asking her to go past the first one. And I made lots of progress on my dress:


Pretty soon, I'll be at the placket, which is my new favorite word to say. I can't wait to finish the front.


Jack went to bed first tonight, so again, I didn't really get to spend my QT with him. I'll give him extra tomorrow. After story time between the girls, Chloë wanted her ten minutes with me. Sophia and Dad spent those ten minutes together, too, playing and Soph telling cute, six-year-old stories to her Daddy. Chloë and I went for a moonlit walk around the smaller lake.


I took the Nikon along, just in case I found anything cool to take a picture of, but most of my pictures didn't turn out. I liked the way these branches stuck out far into the light of the street lamp, so I snapped it.


Halfway 'round the lake, I spotted a "frog" hopping off the path, toward the water. I managed to catch it for Chloë, who immediately squealed when she felt it and dropped him. So I caught him again, and then, of course, I could see it was really a toad and not a frog at all. We agreed to bring him home to show Daddy and Sophia. We took turns holding him and talking about what we learned months ago when we covered Amphibians, about the differences between frogs and toads. Chloë surprised me by remembering quite a lot of them without my prompting her, and I felt a lot of pride inside me.


There were a lot of ducks and drakes pairing up along our walk, but those photos didn't come out. I'm glad this one of Mama and her four ducklings did, though - how cute are they?! I just adore baby aminals of all flavors and varieties. I'm definitely a Woman in that regard. Baby people, baby ducks, baby anything, and my heart melts.


Chloë could barely wait to burst in the front door and show them the toad. We had to shh-shh-shh her, because the windows are open, and our neighbors sleep early. Of course, they gave her all the attention she was due, and there was even more fun when Sophia, holding the poor toad, dropped him in the house. I was in the powder room when that happened, but the sounds of them all gadding about, trying to catch it, were amusing to hear.


Chloë went to bed shortly after that - no, she had her ten minutes of Dad time first, and they looked through an American Baby magazine together, of all things - and Sophia and I shared some more time while I knit. She drew pictures of different things, like Chloë and I taking a walk, and of an "alien monster mouth" coming out of the sky and eating our entire unsuspecting family. I'm not really worried about that one, since she was giggling while she told me what it was. Sophia loves to color and draw, and she has become quite good at it, actually. I'll have to show you some of her drawings next time.

For now, though, I'm going to wrap up my weekend by trying to knit at least to the placket and making my To-Do list for the coming week.  I hope yours is a good one.