Entries categorized "Model Behavior" Feed

Saturday 9: Always Remember Us This Way

Hey, everyone. Bit of a somber mood here in the Odette household, as my father-in-law passed away yesterday. I wasn't going to join in at all this weekend, but then I decided my mind could use a short respite. 

I hope you'll all kink link(!) up here if you're joining us this weekend.

And now:


Always Remember Us This Way (2018)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) In this song, Lady Gaga sings about the Arizona sky and California gold. Have you visited many of our western states?

Yes, well. We live in Idaho now, so there's that. I've been in and out of Utah, California, Oregon, and Washington several times. This is Chloƫ hailing a cab in downtown Hollywood, in the middle of an acting convention we were out there for her. I have been to Vegas. But I have not yet been to Arizona or New Mexico.

2) She sings that she's overwhelmed and can't find the words to express herself. Do you find it easier to share your feelings verbally or in writing?

Three Bites of a Cherry: Malapropisms and Spoonerisms

Oh, definitely in writing. I am very like the Oxford professor William Archibald Spooner, constantly, absent-mindedly, and unintentionally mixing up the consonant sounds in a phrase or sentence to make rubbish. This is also like Shel Silverstein and other comic writers, although theirs were intentional.

3) Her real name is Stefani Germanotta. She took her stage name from the Queen song, Radio Gaga. Do you have a favorite Queen song?

Oh, I love Queen and enjoy, I think, their entire catalog, so it's very hard to pick! I do remember one of my BFFs, Shana and I were in her family's canoe on the Seneca River, and we were just kind of drifting along and using the oars to do the three-beat riff of "We Will Rock You." That's always been a fun memory. Probably not for the fish.

4) Her dad is Joe Germanotta, president of GuestWifi, a company that enables hotels and restaurants to offer high-speed wifi to their customers. Do you consider yourself tech savvy?

5-funny-tech-support-made-easy-cartoon | PMSLweb

I read something recently that said those of us in Generation X (that's me!) were probably the best-prepared to handle tech issues, as a general rule. That's because older generations often don't want any of it and refused to be bothered with it - now, mind you I'm saying some, not all, and just reporting on what I read. And the younger generations never had a time in their lives when there wasn't an internet, and everything has been easier and easier for them as time went along. Think "smartphones." But my generation, we grew up largely without computers and the internet, and so in order to function online, we had to rely on ourselves a lot - and yes, sometimes those maddening IT phone calls - to figure things out. I would say for myself and those I know personally, this is pretty accurate.

5) Early in her career, Lady Gaga performed songs for a children's audio book called The Portal in the Park. Tell us about the last book you finished -- did you listen to an audiobook, or read a download to an electronic device or a bound book with pages?

Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult | Books, Music, and All ...

I've been listening, here and there, to the audiobook of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, but honestly it's slow-going for me. I never, never could stand to be read to in my entire life, and so over and over, I've tried and failed to get into the trendy audiobook thing. I think I'm just going to abort and read the bound book instead. I can't handle it.

[Speaking of books, I read Wally Lamb's book I Know This Much is True somewhere between doing my bachelor's and my doctoral degree. It's a humongous book, with over a thousand pages, but I dove in and loved every minute of it. I just saw in Us Weekly that there was to be a miniseries based on the book on HBO on Sunday - this past Sunday. It's last week's issue of Us. Aw, mannnn! I hope it's being replayed, so I can watch it. It would be a must-see for me.]
6) She prefers dogs to cats and tea to coffee. Do you agree with her?

Baby Animal Lover, Surrounded By Dog, Cat, Fish, Bird, Turtle ...

Largely I do, I think yes. I mean, I'm an extreme animal lover, married to another animal lover, and we've raised a houseful of more animal lovers. I honestly do love them all - with ticks and mosquitoes possibly loved the least. And I do prefer tea to coffee, though I rarely drink either. Of animals, I'm a dog person first, but I'm hard-pressed to turn down any animal. The zoo we've had over the years... it's ridiculous.

7) Back in 2015, she appeared at the Academy Awards, performing a medley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music. The movie's star, Julie Andrews, graciously came onstage to thank Gaga for her showstopping performance. Whom did you most recently thank?

I think maybe it was this girl, Sophia, now 15. She brought me my medicine earlier.

8) In 2018, when this song was first released, retailer Toys R Us closed all its stores and went out of business. What's the last toy you purchased?

SmartyKat Skitter Critter Cat Toy Reviewed ā€“ PetCompared

I bought two packs of these cat-nip filled mice "Skitter Critters" from SmartyKat, for our four cats. They were on sale for less than half-price, and felines everywhere give them rave reviews. That counts, right?

9) Random question: How has social media made your life better?

The History of Social Media - Where did it all start?

Well, in multiple ways, I've benefitted from social. I was a young newlywed of 24 when I really started getting going on message boards. I started out on the one for now-defunct Jane magazine, formerly called Sassy when I was reading it in high school. Those were not my community, so I left after being told how to make my own hummus. Then I joined the Twins e-List when I was pregnant with our twins, after our older daughter was born. When we were living on Guam, I asked the TwinsList a million and one questions during my pregnancy. Once we moved to Virginia Beach, I kept them posted here and there. My last post was to say good-bye to the list after they were born and one twin passed away; staying and hearing all about what their twins were doing was far too painful. I stayed friends with one of the moms, though, and met her and her kids in Norfolk, Virginia. We're friends on Facebook to this day. I joined the message board for Parents magazine a year after the twins were born and stayed through trying to conceive our younger daughter, that pregnancy, and maybe half of her first year. Eventually I joined MySpace when it was new, before skipping over to Facebook. I'm all over now; such a social media whore darling.

So one thing I gained from all of that was the power to be more discerning about who my "real friends" were. Through the ups and downs of our roller coaster life, people have come and people have gone. The ones that have gone, sometimes that hurt. Sometimes. But I did become, I think, more resilient because of that and figuring out how to "act" online. It's hard for me, both online and in real life, since I have absolutely NO filter. And people don't always want or need to hear my every thought!


Thanks Sam/Gal. I appreciated this week's questions immensely, and like I thought, they provided a stellar diversion.

ā™„ RIP, Allen B. Odette ā™„


Saturday 9: The Sweet Escape

Hi, you guys!! I'm going to get into Saturday 9 in a moment. But first, let me say:

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to this young lady today:


Can you guys believe it? My kids have practically grown up in front if y'all on Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing, and here now as of this very day, my firstborn is an adult! I swear, I'm in absolute shock. Happy birthday, Chloƫ Raine!

Okay. On to Saturday 9. Link up here to play along with us today!

(And I may jump in and do last week's, which I missed due to illness.)

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The Sweet Escape (2006)

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Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.
1) This song begins with, "First of all, let me say I must apologize ..." Who most recently apologized to you?


Actually, it was this girl. We bumped heads or something, and she immediately apologized. Chloƫ, like her mother, is an over-apologizer. People ask us to stop, and we just can't! It's annoying for us, too. Just so you know.

2) Gwen Stefani sings that she acted like "sour milk on the floor." Is there milk in your refrigerator right now? What about non-dairy creamer?

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I'm pretty sure there is cow's milk in the fridge for the kids' cereal right now. We do need to pick up some more almond milk for me, though.

3) In the video, Gwen wears several different pairs of stiletto heels. What are you wearing on your feet as you answer these questions?

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Great for those who can and want to wear stilettos, high heels, and all that - but I can't and never really wanted to. I've worn stiletto pumps a few memorable times, but I can rarely find any, let alone a billion pairs, that make me think, "Yeah, I'd rather wear those shoes, put that dent in my wallet, and sacrifice my foot health." It just doesn't happen. So right now, I'm barefoot. I usually am.

4) Mrs. Stefani named her daughter "Gwen" after a stewardess in the book/movie Airport. Who was your favorite character in the book you just read, or movie you most recently watched?

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Okay, so it's neither a book nor a movie, but I'm watching "Dear White People" on Netflix lately, and I adore the Samantha White character. She's sassy and smart - and stunning!

5) Gwen is a distant cousin of Madonna's. Are there any performers in your family?

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Well, Chloƫ started acting and modeling at 5 years old, but about 10 or 11 years later, she decided she wanted to take an extended break from it to focus on other things. (The rejection is tough!) And Sophia is now in the marching band (percussion) - her first parade is today! - and competes in equestrian events. Jack is nooottttttt the performing type!

6) In high school, she joined the swim team not because she enjoys swimming but because she wanted to lose weight. Are you doing anything (dieting, participating in an exercise regimen) in order to shed a few pounds?

I want to, but I'm not sure what to do. I've been all over the map weight-wise, and now that I've gained back a fair number of lbs from the medicine I take, I admit, I'm depressed. I decided to try the keto diet in July, to disastrous effects. It really messed up my blood sugar stability, and I had severe hypoglycemia every day. And I'm dealing with gastroparesis now, and all sorts of things, so I just don't know what to do, honestly.

7) Before she became successful, Gwen worked at the makeup counter in a department store. What was the last thing you purchased? Did you buy it online or at a store?

CZZPTC Leather Women's Slip-On Sneakers Cushioned Insole Casual Comfortable Loafers Fashion Classic Flat Shoes White

I bought this pair of shoes for Chloƫ from Amazon. I didn't really pay for them, though; I get free items as an Ambassador for a company, in exchange for my honest reviews. I hope they fit her!

8) Gwen has gotten a great deal of publicity for her romance with country star, Blake Shelton. What's your favorite Blake Shelton song?

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Gah, they're so cute together, aren't they? I hope they last and stay happy. I love his song, "God's Country," ever since I saw him debut it on The Voice last Spring.

9) Random question: Which of these compliments would make you the happiest: to be called fascinating, or brilliant, or gorgeous?


Well, I think that, like this sapphire engagement ring from Lauren B Jewelry, it's possible to be all three in the same moment. Likewise, I think all three may last a lifetime or be fleeting and momentary. That being said, if I could only be one, and even if would only last a moment, I would want to be thought of as brilliant. I'd choose that option 10 times out of 10.

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That was fun, Sam, thanks! Might come back later and do some catching up from last week but for right now, I've got some more birthday planning to do! See ya later on the blogiverse.


Sunday Stealing: Rambling Survey

Hey there, hi there, ho there! Welcome back!

(Let me preface this post by saying I've been gone all day long and haven't had a chance even to see if I have comments - negative or otherwise - on my Sat9 post from yesterday, let alone read them. So I can't answer to those except to say that I'm nervous to read them & truly hope y'all don't hate me.)

So, then. Just gonna jump on into this SS post at the stroke of midnight on Sunday the 14th of July, 2019, and get back to that later. (I'll be gone all day Sunday, too, so I'm not ignoring y'all.) Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!


Questions from Sad Sleepy Survey Rambles

Have you ever been teased because of the things you like?
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Sure, of course. Education was always my passion, and in the regular-ed, non-Honors/AP classes, I stood out and got stomped on in return. I'm a math nerd. I listen excessively to pop music (although, ahem, not only pop music, nor just current music, but also classic rock, folk music, some punk, lots of alternative, some big band - and I love JP Sousa - as well as gasp classical. As in, not even from last century, let alone this millenium. I don't only listen to "current" music. So, um, yeah... side eye ) I've been called a "such a grandma" for knitting. (Like that's an insult?!) and so on...
Do you hold grudges?
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I'm pretty forgiving if the person genuinely expresses remorse for any wrongs. Likewise, I'm quick to apologize when I realize I've committed some wrong(s).

Were there any classes you enjoyed because of the teacher?
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Absolutely. Many of them, actually. In my senior year of high school, my AP Physics teacher was constantly making it entertaining, which was great for me because this particular field of science is most challenging for me. I just don't have a good understanding of spacial relationships, for one thing. And speaking of physics, my Physics II professor at university used to write "WAEFRTGDD" on the chalkboard/whiteboard during each lab and exam. Before starting, he'd point to each letter and remind us, "When All Else Fails, Read The __ __ Directions!" Cracked me up.

Was there a dress code at your school?
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No. Which reminds me, I have to find out if there's a dress code at the younger two kids' new high school.

Have you ever been a bad friend?
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Has a friend ever replaced you with somebody else?
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Yeah, but you know, you've gotta grow up and get past that stuff at some point.

Have you ever disliked something just because it was popular?
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Mm-hmm. For instance, I have a bunch of piercings but never did my bellybutton because everybody was piercing their navels for a while and just... I don't like to be trendy. Now that everyone and their brother has their nostril pierced, I'm glad I've got the septum done, too. What next?
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I much prefer belly necklaces, but I definitely don't have the body for that!

Have you ever watched a movie just because it starred an actor you liked?
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Probably, sure. I think I even saw The Rainmaker in the theater. #BecauseMattDamon

Are there actors/musicians you have met?
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Well, I mean, sure. I know some. My daughter Chloƫ is an actor and model and has starred in movies, TV shows, commercials, print ads, stock photos... And one of my best friends is a concert violinist. =) (I'm still so jealous she played first chair for Josh Groban!)

Do you ever judge people based on the music they listen to?
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Eh, not really, although I might judge the "music" itself - death metal?!

What about your top five music albums?
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Uh, what about it?

Do you remember the first album you ever owned?
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LOL... I can't promise it wasn't Milli Vanilli! But one of the first albums that I've owned that became an instant favorite and has remained so for 25+ years was Eric Clapton Unplugged. He's my boyfriend, but he doesn't know it. So is Larry David. (Neither of whom is my generation. Y'know?)

Do you still use an mp3 player, or just your phone?
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I actually forgot I ever even owned an MP3 player. How did you know?

Do you like Elton John?

Most of his music, I love, and I guess I like him okay as a human? But I wouldn't really miss a few of his songs, like Crocodile RockBennie & The Jets, and maybe Rocket Man? I don't know why; I just don't enjoy those ditties as much.
Have any celebrity deaths hit you hard? Which one(s)?
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A few, like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, etc. were really hard for me, Luke Perry I guess, but none hit me anywhere near as much as the death of Princess Diana in 1997. That still affects me to this day. #PTSD
And now, it seems I'm on an Elton John kick. What's next for me, Billy Joel?
I wish you all a good week. I know I ruffled a few feathers this weekend, and mine were tousled in return, but I do hope there's no bad blood among any of us.

Saturday 9: I ā™„ Lucy

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Today's episode of Saturday 9 is all about that lovable redhead, Lucille Ball. At least I think so: I don't read the questions until immediately before answering them. Should be lots of fun! Link up here to join all the other S9ers in the fun this weekend!

And away we go:


Saturday 9: I Love Lucy (1951)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Before today, did you know that the "I Love Lucy" theme had lyrics?

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Actually, no, I heretofore did not. Interesting!

2) Since its premiere in 1951, I Love Lucy has never been off the air. Are you a fan?

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I wouldn't call myself a superfan by any stretch. I usually won't watch it unless literally NOTHING else but infomercials is on the air. And then maybe I'll still watch the infomersh. ;)

3) On the show, Ricky Ricardo supports his family by performing in a nightclub. Do you know anyone in show business?

So my 16-year-old daughter, Chloƫ (latest full-body shot, above), has been an on-again, off-again model and actress since she was five, although she has once again decided to take a step back from the business to focus on other things. Also, my 13-year-old daughter, Sophia, has expressed interest in acting and now is represented by the same agent who reps Chloƫ. She's gotten several requests for auditions so far but hasn't gone further than that yet. And finally, one of my very good friends is the wife of a gent who owns a very famous and well-known acting & modeling agency that I can't mention for privacy reasons. OH! And one of my best friends, Shana, is a talented musician and music instructor, and she has performed on stage with many famous names. So, a little.

4) Lucy and Ricky's best friends are Fred and Ethel, their landlord and his wife. Are you friendly with your neighbors?

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EW, haha! Say, I didn't know Fred & Ethel were their landlords! I guess I haven't watched as much as I thought I did. 

5) One of the most popular episodes has Lucy and Ethel working on the conveyor belt at a chocolate factory. When did you last have chocolate?

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I had, um, three of these 2-packs in the space of this week. I'm a stress-eater, and I'm also an Aunt Flo-eater (TMI, sorry). Although I've had a hysterectomy, I still get the hormonal upheaval from that. So between that and being very stressed out recently, I gobbled down three packages in three days. Shame on me!! Also, if you haven't tried these yet, you simply must. They're very good - and I hate cheap chocolate, so I don't say that lightly.

6) Another famous episode has Lucy promoting Vitameatavegamin. This tonic is made with vitamins, meat, vegetables -- and 23% alcohol. Do you read the ingredients statement before you take an over-the-counter medication? Or do you trust that it's safe because it's on the store shelf?

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Oh, that sounds so nastay!! I'm a label reader. There are so many ingredients I, myself, as well as a couple others in my family cannot take, so it's a must. (Plus we have kids, and there are things not safe for kids, although by age most meds are now okay.)

7) I Love Lucy was filmed before a live audience. Desi Arnaz (Ricky) always maintained he could identify the chuckle of his mother-in-law, who attended every taping. Do you know anyone who has a distinctive laugh?

Image result for luis capo el dorado furniture

I know the CapĆ³ family who own the El Dorado Furniture store in Florida; I met Luis CapĆ³ and his family on a cruise when I was 14 and he was 19. My three sisters and I all paired up with brothers and cousins of the CapĆ³ family on that cruise, and I've been friends with him ever since. Anyway, his laugh was so bubbly and contagious; I still remember it 27 years later!

8) The show ended when the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz marriage ended. Have you ever had to choose sides when a couple broke up?

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Yes, and it is super awkward. I prefer not to take sides and be neutral, like Switzerland.

9) Random question -- You must eat the same dinner, every day, between now and Labor Day. An identical menu, no deviation. What will you be having?

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I would start off with a giant, salt-rimmed margarita (y'know, for sharing) ;) to drink...

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... I'd eat nothing but New York-style pizzeria cheese pizza for dinner...

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And I'd have New York-style cheesecake every time, for dessert. (Yup, you can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl!)

And now, I am sufficiently hungry and can eat nothing but a protein shake. At least it's chocolate?!


That was a fun one! Thanks, Crazy Sam!


Saturday 9: Brokenhearted

Hey, everyone! I'm late, but better late than never, amirite?

Link up here if you want to play along with this weekend's quiz.


Saturday 9: Brokenhearted (2012)

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

1) This song is about a girl who is eager and anxious for her new lover to call. Do you owe anyone a call? An email? A text?

I owe my sister a call. At least, to her thinking, I am about a thousand calls behind. What she doesn't understand (and really, nor do I), is that I have extreme telephone anxiety these days. Unless it's me calling to bitch at my husband for not answering my multiple texts - which usually means he's fallen asleep and I'm stuck somewhere waiting on him - I don't call people or answer my phone. Sorry, Sis, but it's nothing personal. The only calls I make these days are usually to schedule one of multiple doctors' appointments.

2) The lyrics are peppered with the informal English exclamation, "cheerio!" What pops into your head when you close your eyes and think of England?

In my mind, when I think of England, three scenes pop into my head. First is this:

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Big Ben and a double-decker bus, in quintessential London architectural scenery; next is this:

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The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace; and finally, this:

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English cottage gardens. However, when I think of the English people, this scene is forever etched in my mind:

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Princes William, Harry, and Charles at Princess Diana's funeral:*(

3) This week's artist, Karmin, is a husband/wife duo who met at college, and that meeting changed the course of their lives and careers. Think of someone who has had a huge impact on your life. Did you know, as soon as you met, that this was going to be a life-changing relationship?

Well, of course I first thing of my husband of 16+ years, Robert. We first met via an online dating site another friend of mine Victor, talked me into joining against my strongest desires. I had just violently (and painfully) come out of a long-term relationship and was not looking to jump into another one. So I finally agreed to Victor's relentless pestering to post an "ad" on the site, but I listed all of my faults and shortcomings on the post. Rob apparently thought this was hilarious and adorable, and so he coughed up the $40 or so to respond to my ad. I received his response via email, and after I read that first email, I thought to myself, "I'm going to marry this guy!" And two months later, we eloped! I was 24 then, and he was 28 and eight years into a 20-year US Navy career. ā™„

4) Though she sings about consuming tequila, the female side of Karmin, Amy, is a big proponent of healthy eating. She recommends organic foods that are free of pesticides, hormones, food coloring and added sugar. Think about your most recent meal. Was it a good example of "healthy eating?"


Oh yes! It's not exactly gluten-free, which is what I need, but I needed some carbs, man! I put some slivers of cheddar cheese, very fresh, ripe avocado, organic, locally-grown sprouts, and locally-produced tabbouleh on a whole wheat pita for Hubs and me. The kids wouldn't eat it - their loss - but the Mister and I chowed down. It was delish!

5) Husband Nick has his own Twitter account (@NickKarmin), but he doesn't use it often. His last tweet was back in August. What's the last thing you posted to social media? (No, your blog doesn't count.)

I tweeted this a few hours ago:


6) Karmin performed "Brokenhearted" live on Dancing With the Stars. DWTS is very big business for ABC-TV. So many people vote for their favorite couples each week that their phone and text systems often overload. Have you ever voted for a contestant on American Idol, DWTS, The Voice, etc.?

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Way back in the day, at least a dozen years ago I think, I believe I called in my support for Clay Aiken on American Idol. He lost to Ruben Studdard. I think that was about the end of it for me. (Clay was robbed!!!) ;)

7)  In 2012, the year"Brokenhearted" was popular, the average cost for a gallon of gas was $3.91. In 2016, it had dropped to $2.40. When it's time to fill up your tank, do you shop around for the lowest price/gal.? Are you brand loyal and always return to the same station, regardless of price? Or do you just buy gas from the nearest station when you're running low?

I usually go to either the closest Racetrac, which is right down the road, or the Mobil just a block further. Both have about equal prices, which are the lowest in my area despite being right off the Florida Turnpike (Exit 2 for you Google Mappers out there). ;) If I'm paying cash, I go to Racetrac and use the loyalty app for points on my phone. If I'm paying with my PayPal or other debit card, I go to the Mobil so I can use my Plenti card and rack up points toward a couple bucks or so off another fill-up there, later. I'm all about those points, baby!

8) In 2012, the Space Shuttle Endeavor was retired and placed on permanent display at the California Science Center, a Los Angeles museum dedicated to encouraging excitement and enthusiasm about air and space travel. Let's say you had a long weekend to spend in Los Angeles. Would you go out of your way to see The Endeavor? What else would you like to do during your time in the City of Angels?

I was in Los Angeles with this cutie, my daughter Chloƫ, back in January, 2008. So that was, what, nine years ago now? I guess she would have been six years old there. She was competing as an actress in several categories, including Monologue, Dialogue, and I forget what else, as well as modeling on the runway. She was so nervous on the first day of performing, that she was getting sick with nerves and ended up dehydrated and in the emergency room for fluids. My poor dear! But amazingly enough, those nerves turned to steel the next day, and she went in and performed her heart out. This girl took home about 11 awards that trip and has acted and modeled in several commercial and national roles. I was so proud of her then, and I'm proud of her now. She's going to get back into acting, after a four-year hiatus, when we move to Idaho.

9) While we're thinking about aviation, statistics show that it's still a predominantly male field, and less than 10% of commercial pilots are women. Would you be nervous flying with a woman pilot?

Not at all. In fact, I'd love to do it myself! My son Jack wants to get his pilot's license. That's another thing I'm going to look into after the move. These kids are growing up on me!


Well, that was another fun questionnaire, thanks to our lovely Sam. Hope you comment, and I'll return to your posts later this evening or else tomorrow afternoon, when I'm able.

Thanks for stopping by!


If You're Going To Celebrate New Year's Eve on South Beach...

...Here Are Ten Things You Should Know:


  1. Arrive early. Parking is US$40 for the night pretty much everywhere on Miami's South Beach, but we got there before sundown, got pretty stellar parking around 13th Street and Washington Ave, and had that $40 spread over about seven hours. For SoBe, that's not too bad and takes the OUCH! out of it, when you do the per-hour breakdown. Also, as you can tell from this picture, I didn't prep properly. I had planned to take the kids to the beach there that afternoon, but I didn't plan for myself to go, too! Duh. So I got a million strange looks from the other beach-goers when I showed up dressed to the nines, but my whole "F-ck it!" attitude for the night - which is what I hope will carry into 2016 and beyond - got me through the would-be embarrassment. Whew.


2. Bring the kids. YES! Bring. The. Kids. (Or take them, whatever. I'm pretty freakin' awesome at obeying most English grammar rules, but the bring/take ones always mess with my ever-weakening braining skills.) Especially if you follow the first point noted above, your kids will have a blast at their SoBe NYE celebration. They can spend several daylight hours jumping in and out of warm winter waves, but when darkness rolls in, as you'll see below, there's plenty more fun for children to have, without interfering in responsible parents' amusements. If this is the one-and-only chance you have at celebrating this occasion at the world's #3 New Year's Eve destination, I vote hands-down for a "YES!" in the bring-them-or-leave them-home debate. (Of course, if I had left mine at home, the responsible parent in me might be writing a whole 'nother post, but maybe we'll save that for when they are older and don't declare partying with Mom and Dad their "Best Night EVER!" y'know?).


3. Take those damn selfies. I don't care whether you post them all over Instagram with the connect-thru to Facebook and Twitter, and later all over your own blahg, like I did, or if you are more of a Social Media Bah Humbug, but take them anyway. If you're an Interwebs Whore Lover like I am, your friends will at least pretend to enjoy seeing each others' festivities on such a hugely-shared date, as much as you (I don't pretend, so I won't write that) will enjoy seeing theirs for all 24 hours of the change! If you are more private about life (no, you cannot ever claim that I wasn't an open book!), you and your dear ones will definitely cherish these memories.


3. Wear whatever you want. Seriously, this is important. I selected three dresses from my closet and had Hubs pick the one I should wear. I had never worn any of them out in public, ever. I ended up rejecting Dress One, because the shoulder straps were all-satin and kept slipping all the way down, and you know what? My girls have nursed three children past their first birthdays and just need more support than that! I rejected Dress Two for that same reason - HELLO, clothing designer people, at least put a stopper on that strap-adjuster thingamajig! Dress Three was the one I truly wanted to wear anyway, and not just because it's bright red (it's kind of my signature color) and showcases the afore-mentioned 'girls' in a pretty fantastic way (and wasn't made in China...). I told Hubs I wanted the word to described how I looked to be "AMAZING" when I put it on. And it was! I rocked a size 5, sexy, kinda skimpy dress out in public for possibly my life's biggest audience, and the whole time until this morning (and by that I mean 5 PM on New Year's Day, y'all), I thought I was wearing a size 8. Hello, my head is for once bigger than my butt. 

After the dress fitting, I won't even go into how long it took me to choose the right undergarments, the perfect f***-me heels, the shades of make-up... it's exhausting, ladies, am I right? Rob just wore what he wanted, despite my nitpicking, and the kids did the same. In the end, I enjoyed wearing the dress, and nobody gave me an ugly glance about it, but I also would not have been completely out of place had I worn flip-flops and a tank with jeans. So. Don't over-stress. It's South Florida, after all, where the dress code is always "come as you are."


4. Don't forget your wallet. South Beach is not cheap on all the other days of the year, but when a humongously huge event hits the Oceanfront, expect to pay through the nose. I already told you about the quadruple jump in even the cheapest parking. Did you want to stay a while and maybe eat or drink? Expect to have at least a few Benjamins on hand that you don't mind parting with, or else stay home. I mean, you could always pack a picnic lunch and walk more than the three blocks we did to get to the main stage (Hubs is disabled), which would always be more economical when it's a possibility. But especially if you're bringing your offspring, there are bound to be unexpected expenses.

After parking and going to the beach, at 1820 (6:20 PM for you non-military 'Mericans) we went to a certain restaurant I won't name here that was just terrible throughout the visit, and this was during Happy Hour when all menu prices were supposed to be half-price. For a meal for five, including just water for the kids and my husband's constant habit of picking the least pricey thing on the menu (despite my also-constant urging him to eat what you want), they wanted us say adieu to US$200. After my calculations, I expected half of that. My grandma taught me to ALWAYS CHECK THE RECEIPT, everywhere I go, and I caught that not only did they charge us double without the supposed half-priced Happy Hour specials, they also charged us for TWO of Sophie's cheeseburgers when the first one they served her was burnt on the outside and raw on the inside! Are you kidding me?! Our bill was cut in half after the absentee server FINALLY came over and asked why I was shouting; I wondered why he didn't mentioned the colorful language I was also using?! Not only did the final US$103.xy check not eliminate some of the doubled charges, but this restaurant also had the enormous balls to charge us an automatic gratuity! For the first time in my life, I stiffed them on the check - but only by one-sixth of the $18 "tip" charges, and only because all I had were five $20 bills, didn't want to wait even longer for change, and did not want this bleeping restaurant to have our credit card information! (If you want the name of this particular restaurant, please let me know in the comments. I'm happy to share. ;P) )

After parking and the sucktastic dinner experience, we decided to make our way down Ocean Drive from the 1300 block to 5th Street. I don't think we shed any further weight in our wallets other than shakes and cheese fries at Johnny Rockets ($42 and infinitely better than the eyeroll-inducing, sarcasm-filled dinner experience) and hitting up a side-street market for prepackaged frozen treats (I sound like a marketing survey) and a four-pack of wine cooler-sized bottles of some decidedly brut champagne (again $42 total, which was fine since it would otherwise have cost us about $100 per glass to toast in a restaurant at midnight). Sure, there were lots of ways we could have scrimped even more to save our precious pennies, but there were also a ridiculous abundance of ways that we could have gone flat-out crazy in racking up expenditures. If you wanted flashy New Year's Eve-themed swag to embellish your stylin' look, for instance, the glow-in-the-dark sunglasses were $20 per pair. After I put my bugged-out eyes back in my head, I decided to pass. If there's a next time, we'll hit up Oriental Trading ahead of time!


5. Use your phone camera's FLASH-ON setting. I don't like to use a flash, because I prefer natural lighting, but obviously in a setting like this, there is very little of it. And if it's the difference between a bad photo and a halfway decent picture, then go for it! Even if it means people blinked and you have to take several snaps, use the flash. I wish I had remembered that last night.

SoBe NYE-001

6. Visit Lummus Park. You guys. Whether you're helicopter parents who can't bear to take their eyes off their progeny for one second, a staunch crusader in the usage of "child-free" vs. "childless," thank-you-very-much, or somewhere betwixt those options like me, seriously, you should go to this park. Adults should experience the carefree, childlike joy of swinging on the swings by seaside moonlight at least once in their lives, and this is a gorgeous place in which to do just that. I have glorious memories of swinging with my University of Miami BFF, Kristal, almost 20 years ago there, and I doubt those will ever grow cobwebs in my mind.

Children, on the other hand, will have so much fun exploring and discovering. I don't just mean the swings, the slides, or the cool exercise area... but specifically on this one night of the year, they will also experience so much more. I don't know how much the rest of America, particularly in the more remote areas, realize what a multicultural jackpot Miami is, but the rest of the world seems to know it if they do not. While hanging out for about two mostly uninterrupted hours on this giant tire swing, they made many friends. I recall Sophia and ChloĆ« breathlessly telling me, running to and from the area, that they had met new folks from Australia, England, Italy, India, Brazil, and distant parts of the US. In two hours! (Jack was too busy playing there to visit Mom and Dad unless we signaled him over.) If only our phones weren't nearly dead and I hadn't brought the tiny clutch that certainly didn't hold pen or paper, they might have a novel set of pen pals.


7. Dismiss your expectations. Oh, my gosh, whoever said, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" might never have been to South Beach! You will see things you never imagined equally as often as you'll observe the more everyday stuff. Certainly if you have your kids with you, you'll want to know that we had a drug deal go down directly adjacent to us from where we were sitting on the brick wall separating Lummus Park from the extra-wide sidewalk, along with the tremendously skunky smell that permeated the air. Definitely if you're anti-smoking like I am, you'll think to yourself about 900 times throughout the evening, "How do THIS MANY people STILL smoke tobacco?!!" And of course, if you're more conservative-leaning and do not want your young folk to be exposed to things like open homosexuality ("Ralph, look at that! Tsk-tsk, they're holding hands!") and other walks of life being the norm, then maybe this isn't the place for you. (Psst: Don't go to Key West, either.)

On the other hand, if you are more progressive leaning, I promise you're in for the people-watching of a lifetime. And your kids will blossom in front of your eyes. Sure, their vocabularies might expand, but probably so will more of their other abilities. Take the chance and find out. For example, Sophia had never been exposed to one of these boxing heavy bags, to my knowledge. But when she started punching and kicking it, I was a little bit awed! For reals. I didn't know she could kick that high! I didn't know she had those muscles there! I didn't know she had that much stamina! The feeling, as a mother, was amazeballs. And that is just the beginning...


 8. Strike a pose. Oh, wait, I already gave you the "take selfies" advice, and this point may seem quite like that. But taking it was fun, and I look kind of hot for once in this photo with ChloĆ«, and it was really meaningful to me to play like I felt good about myself in Model Mecca of the Universe. So really, this advice is more like I'm saying to you, let your inhibitions about yourself go - whether or not a drop of 50-proof alcohol is involved - and enjoy the moment. No, enjoy all the moments. Not just this one night in this one place, but every living minute you are alive. For my younger audience (I can say that, because this is the year I turn - gasp! - 40 years old), this may be my most important take-away message. What other people think about you doesn't matter. The ONLY people whose opinions of you matter are either the ones who drove, flew, or rowed with you to South Beach in the first place, or if you might have taken an Ɯber ride, they might be the people you miss the most on Christmas, I dunno. Clearly, your own self-image matters the most. You know what? I have a billion what-if? messages that I send to myself the same number of times per day, but what if I had actually said and done things the "right" way? So what. I didn't. Shit happens. I'm letting it go and now, letting things flow. Because I am old enough to love myself enough to do, say, and freaking feel the way I do. And that, my friends, is what this picture represents to me.

(P.S. I totally got carded when I bought that champagne. Perhaps the dude was just humoring me, but he was also eyeing me and hitting on me, so I am still allowed to be flattered!)


9. Don't crop your photos in the editing room. If you're like me, as I suspect many women and a lot of men might be, you dwell on your negative aspects and completely miss out on the positives. I have been told time and time again, specifically by men, that I need to stop that! So do you. I spend so much time apologizing for my supposed flubs and flaws instead of having more meaningful things to say, or listening more, or sharing significant silences. I crop out so many of my pictures, if I haven't deleted them entirely, instead of realizing how beautiful some of them, or their parts, are. In the photo above, I did not crop out ChloĆ«'s bottom half, because in my mind she is physically perfect, as are all my children, don'tcha know - but my own. I don't like my legs. I don't like my belly. I don't like those flappy-fish arms of mine. But those legs have carried me around on so many important wifely and motherly - and yes, selfly - duties. And that belly carried and birthed four beautiful children in just 3Ā½ years. And those arms carried those babies around until they could walk, and held their hands after they learned to go on their own two feet, and reached out to hug wherever hugs were necessary. So I need to cut myself some damn slack once in a while and show off those parts of me of which I should be more proud. Right?

For more on this subject, read this article I spotted while writing this post (ignoring the obvious complaints about that grabber of an opening picture, please).



10. Use the good camera, and take lots of pictures. No, I don't live my life behind the camera lens instead of experiencing it firsthand. As I hope you can tell from this post, I love both! I debated, not for the first but more like the hundredth time this month, whether or not to carry along my Nikon D5100 and accoutrement, which is basically just a starter dSLR. Even if it was just a small point-and-shoot camera (at least one of the newer ones), the pictures probably would have been a huge improvement over my awesome Samsung Galaxy S5's photos. lolz... Listen. I'm just an amateur when it comes to my photography skillz, but I learn more with every picture I take. Not just about lighting, magic hour, and angles, but certainly those, too. I also learn behind the lens about my kids' strengths I hadn't yet witnessed myself, I learn to take time and do things right instead of always being the first one to jump in or stop doing something I'm having trouble with or don't enjoy fully at first, and I learn to let go and let my kids handle the spendy camera once in a while to take pictures that may just stop my breath for a moment in time. Those are all good lessons for a parent to learn. So sling that camera bag strap over your shoulder and walk along, without stressing about sand or water. You'll thank me when your phone's battery drops to 5%.

What lessons learned from 2015 can you share with me? What lessons do you have yet to learn in 2016 or beyond? Drop me a comment and let me know!




Related articles:

Wordless Wednesday: Sophie's Sumi-e Ink Wash Painting
Saturday 9: Stop! In The Name Of Love
Sundays In My City: Random Snaps
Sunday Stealing: Let's Not Be Difficult Meme
saturday 9: Bubbly
Random Snaps And Schtuff
Sunday Stealing: The 17 Meme
Sunday Stealing: Reflections On New Year's Eve
Wordless Wednesday: Vacation Days
New Year's Eve flights from $30 round-trip with Frontier Airlines

Sunday Stealing: Shop On The Corner Meme

Link up here if you're thieving today!

Shop On The Corner Meme 

Stolen from: FYeah Surveys

What kind of job did your mom have when you were growing up? 

She died young, when I was 7 and she was 33, back in 1984. She was home with us, as far as I can remember, but my dad tells me she had been working as a secretary when she died. I just don't remember that. He says she would have loved computers, though... but they weren't really around back then.

 Have you ever known anyone whoā€™s been on tv, including you? 

My daughter, Chloe (that's her page on IMDB), is an actress. She has been in several films as well as the "Dark Dreams" episode of A Haunting on the Discovery Channel. She's done other stuff (modeling in the Dollar Tree ads several times, etc.)... but she hasn't worked since we moved to Miami and Hubs got sick. She's in demand back up in Virginia, so I should probably work on finding her an agent down here!

(He's looking in at my daughter in this scene, but I couldn't find a screenshot of her...)

 What was the most interesting animal you have seen in the wild?

When I was in graduate school, I was doing a reef survey out in the Dry Tortugas. A juvenile nurse shark - one of the most docile sharks - kept swimming in and out of my survey plot during the course of my work. She was sweet, and it was the first time I swam with a shark. Even though I knew she had no plans to harm me, it was quite a rush!

 What holiday do you enjoy the most? 

I enjoy everything about Independence Day (America's); it's my favorite day of the year.

 What was the first video game you ever played? 

When my mom was still alive, she was a big fan of Atari's Frogger. I seem to remember that was my first video game. We had Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and all those original games, but I was never as good as Mom and my sister. I still suck at arcade games!

 What is the one thing you own, that if it got lost, you would be bummed?

Everything, and nothing. I don't like it when my stuff goes missing, but in the end, it's all really just stuff. And that just doesn't matter so much.

 Do you have a favorite breakfast item? 

I eat a lot of eggs since my gastric bypass surgery. I don't eat meat, but I have high protein requirements, so the eggs help. I eat them all the time. (Truthfully, a cheese Danish is my favorite, but I can't really go eating those anymore now, can I?)

 What do you find yourself buying all the time? 

Eggs, for reasons that should be clear now, and milk. My kids are whole milk fanatics.

 When was the last time you got a real letter in the mail? 

I can't even remember, but my kids get the occasional penpal letter. Sophia just sent her latest one out yesterday.

 Do you have a most prized piece of jewelry?

My wedding and engagement rings mean the most to me. I have to take them off all the time because my fingers swell up when I get hot, which is constantly, and I hate that. Putting them back on when I get cold again is the best!

 Do you own any board games? 

Yeah, we have a few. Lately we've been playing the family edition of Trivial Pursuit. That's probably my favorite game, even though I keep getting all the ridonk questions!

 What chore seems the most daunting right now? 

Cleaning up my desk. It's the most never-ending task. Everything just seems to land right. Here.

 Were you born in the state you live in? 

I'm a native New Yawka, but no, I live in Florida now. Again.

 Have you ever lived in a house that has been broken into? 

When we lived in Portsmouth, VA, before moving here, our house was burgled several times. My daughter's brand-new bicycle was taken, my Nikon DSLR, Hubs' fishing stuff... ugh. It makes me sick to think that we lived there. What a mistake that was.

 What is your favorite cheese? 

love cheese so much. All cheese except maybe Limburger. But I think Meunster is my favorite.

 Who do you know that watches the most sports? 


Too many people to count! I am not a sports nut, nor did I marry one, and for that I am thankful. I'm forever thinking to myself, "It's JUST a game!!!"

And that is all. 



Our First Annual Pilgrimage to Virginia

So, I disappeared from this-here blahg for a few weeks. Here's a brief timeline:

31 January 2014: We meet with neurosurgeon Dr. Jacques Morcos for the first time and are told that Rob needs immediate brain surgery to remove his cavernoma.

5 February: Thirteen hours of operating later, the cavernous hemangioma, along with a goodly portion of mineralized brain tissue (read: gelatinous goo) are gone from Rob's head.

Remainder of February: Lots of ups and downs in this long road to recovery.

1 & 2 March: Team Odette decides to make a trek up to our former homeland of Hampton Roads, Virginia. We had planned to go in April, to visit the numerous friends we had made over the prior ten years of living there, but a request for ChloĆ« to audition and do a photo shoot prompted us to change the dates quickly and, sadly, ill-advisedly. 

Traveling wasn't kind to Rob, who pretty much vomited the entire 20-hour trip up to the Norfolk area. I called Dr. Morcos to explain what was going on, and while he had approved this travel, he also said it might necessitate an emergency room trip. He changed Rob's med dosage over the phone, and that seemed to settle things down. The rest of the trip, Rob did GREAT and even walked on snow and ice without his walker. Maybe not the smartest idea in the world, but you know, he did okay!

That same day, Sunday the 2nd, I went to a big meet-up of lots of friends I met in the six or so months before we moved here to Miami. It was great, and I even made about as much money as I needed to cover gas for our trip!

Afterward, my good friend Lisa and her husband hosted a fantastic cook-out for Team Odette. I met people I'd only known before online, and we hung out for hours with great, great folks. I had a blast and was so grateful Lisa made it happen.

3 March: The day of the supposed audition, our formerly balmy Virginia weather turned vicious. Roads were closed, and the snow and ice prevailed. We skipped the audition entirely and spent the whole day in our hotel room. Big. Huge. Bummer. That night, we were supposed to have lunch with Stephanie, Tim, Luke, and Vinnie, but no sooner did we get on the road and get down to the corner, but the car started spinning and spinning on the ice, out of control. Though I grew up in Syracuse, NY, I never actually drove in that crappilicious weather, so I was ill-equipped to handle it. I really learned how to drive here in Miami while attending college, so I can handle the driving rain, but ice? No way! We turned around (and around and around) and went back to our hotel.

4 March: We drove down to northern North Carolina to hang with my pal Saritah and her family.


Here's Sarah's youngest baby, Charlotte, who is the cutest little Cabbage Patch Kid, right? 

That was a fun day, because Team Odette adores Team Branham, and the feelings are mutual. [However, it wasn't all sunshine and puppy kisses, because Sarah filled me in on some un-fun things that I cannot tell you about here...]

5 March: On Wednesday of that week, we went and had lunch with Stephanie and her kids, to make up for the failed dinner attempt on Monday night.


Sophia was so cute. She went out in the backyard with Stims' dogs, Rosie May and Wazowski, and she was dancing with Rosie:


Steph and I took a selfie together while the kids watched Frozen on her iTunes account:


We gathered up our five children and had a photo-op on the couch. Of course, it's hard to get five kids to cooperate for pictures, so this was my best shot:


Vinnie, the little allergy baby, is near and dear to my heart because I knit for him and he has such a great, sweet little attitude despite being physically miserable so much of the time. Steph nursed him to sleep:


and then I held him while she did some things around the house:


After our visit with Stephanie, we had planned to go out to the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market to visit my favorite fishmonger, Uncle Chuck, and get some of his crabcakes. They're the best in the world, and I know, because I'm something of a connoisseur! However, we didn't get a chance, because it was to head to another awesome friend's house for dinner. 

Kassandra made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, and we brought a salad. Before dinner, her little girl, Ava, played with my kids. Sophia, who never went anywhere without making an instant friend, played with Ava in her room, so sweetly:


And of course, Kassandra and I took a selfie together:


Us and our piercings, lolz...

That night, it was a redeux of Steph and Tim (Stim) and the boys, as they brought bathing suits for Team Odette. We all had a jolly good time at the hotel pool (which was decidedly NOT heated as advertised, but hey, the hot tub was hot enough for both of them!):


Tim with Lucas & Vincent


Rob and Jack in the hot tub


Steph cuddling Jacky


Sophia floating in the brrrrr-cold pool


After we got back to the room, dried off and warmed up, I snapped this photo of Team Goetsch, minus Luke. Luke was SO cute, telling me all kinds of adorbs little four-year-old things, and we had a great time hanging with everyone that day and night.

6 March: I snapped this photo of Jack and his dad in the bed after we went down for breakfast while the girls continued to snooze:


I was supposed to have lunch with a sweet friend at the Olive Garden that day, and then go to Uncle Chuck's before heading back to see Lisa and some more friends that afternoon, but a necessary trip back to North Carolina prompted me to have to cancel the remainder of our plans. I can't say that trip ended well for everyone, but we headed back here Florida on Friday, March 7th, and we arrived back at home in the morning on March 8th. I napped about six times on the way home, since Rob can't drive and I was super tired.

All in all, it was a fun-filled, eventful trip back north, but I probably should have waited and gone in April as planned after all. I do think we were brought there for a very good reason, though, and that will have to speak for itself... 

Thanks for stopping by; have a wonderful day!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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


Time flies 

Is anyone else shocked it's May already? For Heaven's sake, our pool will be open in 3 weeks already! I can't believe how fast the time is flying. We are so busy all of the time, it's almost hard to keep up with flipping the calendar pages, I swear. Man. I wish I could clap my hands and stop time temporarily, and just... breathe.



I haven't been here in a few weeks, again, because of our packed schedule. Aside from our usual nutso routines, we've had a billion and one doctors' appointment, and Rob's had an accident that has kept me occupied carting him to those, work, and everywhere else, so... I am off my blog routine again. But! I am here now, and that's what counts, amiriiight?



King neptune

If you've ever thought about visiting my town, Virginia Beach, I just wrote this sponsored blog post about many of my favorite places and things to do here. Check it out if you're interested!


002 (2)

I love this cute picture of Jack eating wings during a mystery shop a couple of days ago.  With the watch and everything, he looks so grown up! For a nine-year-old shrimp, that is. I've been doing lots of mystery shopping again lately to make some much-needed extra fundage. It's fun, but man, all the reports! Ugh.



I swear, Virginia must be the vanity plate capital of the world. They're so cheap here, after all. Even I have one! I'm going to start taking pictures of the ones that amuse or interest me and posting them as part of my Fragments posts each week (or month, as it were). Can you see this one that I snapped today? It says "RR M8T." Arggghh, Matey! Hee. Do you have vanity plates?



On Wednesday, the kids took part in the coolest thing. We drove up to the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA, to attend a special event: a ham radio chat - which NASA said couldn't be done - with International Space Station Astronaut Donald Pettit! Here, the kids first learned about the early age of exploration, in the times before, during and after Columbus' life, so they could later relate that Age of Exploration to the current Space Exploration.


Then, we migrated over to the closed studio, where we connected with three classes (in New York, Michigan, and Louisiana) and the astronaut in outer space, about 400 km above Earth, over Italy. Selected students were able to ask questions and hear Pettit's answers in real time, and we learned a lot about living aboard the ISS. Did you know it only takes eight minutes to get up there, but two days to transfer into the space station? Wow. I would kill to have that opportunity. Maybe one day they'll take an old fart like me and see what they can do with me. I'll be like the female John Glenn. Anyway, it was really cool, and my kids - especially Jack up there - got a lot out of the experience. Way cool!



I took Rob in for his Neuro follow-up today, after his mini-stroke scares and subsequent finding of a benign brain tumor back in November. I was hoping for a more thorough check-up than the five minute "How are you? Fine? See you in six months" that he got, but I guess no news is good news. He hasn't had any weird things going on like he did six months ago, even after his accident, so I suppose all is well for now. He'll go back in another six months.



Also today, I went in for a my regular dental check-up, fully expecting to have two new cavities. My teeth have been ultra-sensitive lately, especially in two places, so I thought fillings were going to be the order of the day, if not a full root canal or some badness. But the diagnosis was surprising: I grind and clench my jaw and teeth so much that it's causing my gums to recede, and my enamel to wear, which is causing the pain and discomfort. The dentist said he'd be happy to sell me a $600 mouth guard, or I can go pick one up at any drug or sporting goods store for five or ten bucks and try that. Hmm. Tough choice. But yay for no new cavities!



Stay tuned for a post about our train trip up to Richmond last week; we had so much fun in our two short days. I'm so glad MIL suggested it!



Aren't these newsprint nails so cool?! I am totes going to do this as soon as I find where I put the rubbing alcohol. Hopefully that'll work, since Rob drank all the vodka and stuff. Kidding. There's probably not even a beer in this house. I love this manicure, though. TrƩs cool.



And finally, my 10Ā½-year-old, ChloĆ«, has a "boyfriend," S. Yeah. We've reached that stage. They're mad about each other. I even had to go on a ride with them to make sure they didn't kiss!!! WHAT?! She's TEN, FPS. I'm keeping a tight rein on this one and don't let them hold hands or anything, but S did recently give her a necklace in her favorite color, with hearts on it... oh, my word. I'm not ready for this part!

Chloe 2

Since Chloƫ had a photo shoot for her acting and modeling "career" recently, my friend Saritah - S's mom - was joking about, "Great, my son is dating a model. That'll go to his head..." but yeah. He is. Hee.


Well, I hope you all have a great weekend, and I'll be back in a bit with my Aloha Friday question & some more updates from our latest travels and adventures. Ciao for now!


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 Ā½-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 Chloƫ (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!


Back In The Saddle Again


ChloĆ« took off the better part of 3rd grade from acting and modeling, because she had about 8 teeth missing at once. No one would hire her like that. And she wasn't really in the mood anyway, so the timing couldn't have been more perfect.

But then her local agent called to see if she was available for another Dollar Tree ad.  Her permanent teeth are mostly all settled in now - in the front, anyway - so I let them go ahead and book her. She wasn't thrilled that I booked her without asking, but when pressed, she agreed that she wanted to do it.


She did an absolutely wonderful job at the shoot. They were very impressed by her and said they would put a star by her name, to remind them that she takes direction extremely well. I am so proud of her!

Look for her doing a Disney Princesses floor puzzle (or is it Barbie? Shoot, now I forget) in that shirt, in the toy catalog for Dollar Tree - maybe late November or early December. They couldn't remember the date when I asked. If you spot it first, give me a shout!


Nutella No-Go

Mel & the kids 001

Busy day.  I should be sleeping by now. I did take the sleeping pill last night and slept a full night, and I haven't been tired since then. I'm still wide awake, too much so to settle down and try to sleep, darn it. Sucks, because I have another full day tomorrow.

Mel & the kids 005

I did a lot, but it doesn't feel like I got a lot done, if that makes any sense. I cleaned up the kitchen, ran the dishwasher and emptied it later. I did take an hour after the kids got on the bus and play my various silly Facebook games. But then I didn't touch them again until night-time. I canceled the cable, although I did decide to keep the local channels for $10/month. We can always drop that later, too. I looked at all the coupon sites and made my deals for today, which is when the new grocery sales start in our area. I contacted the Brownies moms about coming to sign permission slips, and no one wanted to come... so they all told me to forge their signatures on them. Heh. I did, but then I realized - after turning it in - that I spelled one of the girls' names wrong! Oops... how do you explain that one?!

Mel & the kids 007

Anyway, so after I showered and got ready to go out, I ran to Target and got lots of great deals, including the new "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" DVD for the kids. ChloĆ« has been raving about it since she saw it at the theatre with her soccer friends, and I knew the kids would enjoy it. I got lots of other great stuff too, but I didn't have time to take a picture and figure it all out.

Then I went to Harris Teeter - MY old store - for the first time since I quit back in October. They are running super doubles week on coupons, so I had to suck it up and go in. I was so nervous! It turns out that was for naught, because everyone was so nice and welcoming. I got lots of hugs, and everyone was concerned about me because they'd heard about the breast cancer thing. I assured them that I'm fine and all is well, and they seemed happy about that. Lots of nice people. I really kind of miss working there. I do. But, the hours weren't enough, and apparently things have gotten lots worse regarding that. So it was the right thing to do, I guess. Oh yeah, and I spent about $61 but SAVED $84 in coupons! All stuff we need and will use, of course.

Mel & the kids 011

I got home just five minutes before the bus came, so I didn't even have time to unload the groceries (and speaking of which, please tell me why I bought the 2Ā½-dozen egg carton when there is NO room in my fridge for it?!) before walking down to the bus stop. The kids came home, and they helped me carry in the bags. I quickly scanned the Target stuff and part of the HT stuff for Nielsen, and then we had to leave for both girls' dance classes. 
Sophie went first, and the Bigs did their homework while she was in there. I knitted on the kimono. Can't really say it was power knitting, since I had to stop every two seconds to help Jack with his work. Chloƫ went in second, and I kept knitting while the Littles climbed all over every inch of the van, pressing buttons and generally driving me mad. In a fun way, though. ;)

Mel & the kids 014 

Oh, and the entire time all this day was going on, I was in a madcap rush to figure out if and how we were going to go to New York City - tomorrow! And back - in a day! Chloƫ's acting and modeling agent there called to say they had an audition for her to attend today or tomorrow (I said to them, "Today? You know we're in Virginia, right?") for a Nutella commercial. They really wanted her this time. Steph volunteered to drive up with us OR stay home and get the Littles to and from school, however we needed her. Isn't she awesome? We were going to have her and Luke come with us, and then her sister Mandy wanted to come along, too. It was just going to be a straight shot up there, audition, have lunch in Manhattan somewhere (the audition was right on Broadway), and then drive straight home. A seven-hour trip, or thereabouts. I was going to have to cancel all sorts of things for tomorrow. But in the end, we called to check and see if she could still go, seeing as she's missing four front teeth, and they said NOPE! No way, no how. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted...

Mel & the kids 016

After the dance classes - during which time I talked to Ms. D, ChloĆ«'s Jazz teacher, and was told that she's focusing much better in class lately, to my surprise since I have not yet had her evaluated for ADD - we came home so I could prepare dinner. The yummy food from grocery shopping was still all over the kitchen table to be put away, and the kids were picking at this and picking at that, wanting to nibble, nibble, nibble. I had planned on making the grilled salmon from Schwan's, but in the end they had sandwiches and chips and assorted other things, and I never cooked at all. 'Tis fine. Salmon can wait 'til Friday, since we have a dinner shop tomorrow night.

Mel & the kids 018

After dinner, Rob and the kids watched "Cloudy With..." while I worked on Cookie Sale paperwork and drove the permission slips over to the person in charge. He got the kids ready for bed, and then we posed for all these silly pictures together. It was a little bit of fun, we enjoyed it. Jack keeps insisting he doesn't know how to smile, so in the ones where he IS actually smiling, it's because I was tickling him! And now, back to reading my Cookie Manual some more, before I train the girls and moms at tomorrow's meeting. Ciao!


A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Okay, so it's the only title I could think of with "Brooklyn" in it. There were trees there, after all. Go with it.

My friend Linda, from Bunco, showed up this morning with her husband, minutes after the black & white cab arrived to take Chloƫ and me to the airport. We installed the chillies' car seats, and I kissed my sweet babies good-bye. They had snacks and toys, and they were in good hands.

I hopped in the cab, and away we went!


Chloƫ waiting for our plane in Norfolk International (ORF)

All in all, despite the fact that we jetsetted to NYC and back in a day, it was all pretty low-key. Chloƫ sat next to a college senior on his first plane ride on the way up to La Guardia, and they chitchatted throughout the duration. I slept. I let her have a Sprite from the Flight Attendant's beverage service, which was cause for major excitement. (We don't often allow them soda.)


Once we got to NYC, we had about, oh, 2Ā½ hours to kill before her call time in Brooklyn. She was hungry, so I got her a McNugget meal from the McDonald's in the food court. It came with a Hello Kitty watch, and she has been obsessively playing with it ever since. I set the time and date on it, and she's been reading them to me all day!


We went out to the taxi stand and arranged for a cab to Brooklyn. The ride was uneventful, unless you count her McD's chocolate milk spilling in my purse, over all the contents. That sucks, but it goes with the mom territory, I think! Has to happen at least once. At least it didn't ruin our return tickets.

We got there with about two hours to spare. I decided to go ahead up and find the place first, and the we could easily find our way back when it was her 1500 call time. Instead, they welcomed us in and had us fill out her paperwork immediately. In about five minutes, it was her turn. They took four pictures of her in different poses, and that was it. We were done! All that travel for that. So, cross your fingers that she gets it!

We walked out with another mom and her little boy, so she and I talked for a while about "the business" and our kids' "work" thus far. She was really nice, and was amazed we'd come all the way from Va Beach, having driven up from Philadelphia herself. She helped me find a cab to get back to La Guardia, and we said our good-byes.

The return cab gouged me. It cost $10 more to return than to get out to Brooklyn. Suck. Oh, well, what are ya gonna do?


We now had about six hours to kill before our return flight. Neither of us was looking forward to that. Chloƫ was hungry again, so we stopped at a side kiosk, where I found (hooray!) Greek yogurt, loaded with protein and no fat. Finally, something for me to eat. I also bought a protein smoothie, but it was nasty; when Chloƫ asked me if I'd share it with her, I outright gave it to her. She was thrilled, until she tasted it herself. Hehehe. Chlo had some yogurt with granola and part of a chocolate bar, which gave her an upset tummy.

After a few visits to the bathroom for Chlo (hey, I only go in my own house if I can help it, so I held it all day!), we went up to our gate and found two earlier flights home. Could we get on the first one? We could! So we changed tickets and shortened our wait time by about four hours. Yippee!


While I sat and watched, and to the various amusement and annoyance of the other passengers, Chloƫ amused herself by making up dances, running around pretending I was a bear who was going to eat her, and playing with all the pay phones. I gave her a nickel and dime to figure out the whole coin-return game, and she had to try each phone out to make sure. She had a fit when one ate her dime! Then two little girls joined our gate-waiting, and she began to play with them. That lasted until it was time to board.

Our plane was delayed once for maintenance and again for I-don't-know, while we sat on the runway. It was only about 20 minutes, but it felt like an hour after our long day. We both fell asleep on the return flight; I heard myself snoring but didn't care enough to wake up and quit it!

After we found Rob and the Littles, he drove us home while I called Miss Linda to see how the kiddos had behaved. She wore them out, and they wore her and her husband out! Jack fell asleep in the car and hasn't woken up since; Sophia also fell asleep on the ride home but woke up to eat dinner. Barely - she lay down on her plate and was carried to bed before she spoke up. "Actually," she told her father, "I do want my dinner."

The girls had their chicken patties and broccoli, and I decided to eat some too. Wrong! The broccoli didn't sit well, and I yakked it all up. I soothed myself with one of my trusty popsicles while the girls ate birthday cake for dessert. Finally, it's gone and I can make something else!

Well, tomorrow should be Jack's first soccer game, but we'll find out for sure in the morning. We've had weather, and it's ongoing. They don't take chances with wet fields, so we'll see maƱana.

Oh, and there's a chance Rob could be sent up to North Dakota for help with the flooding there. Could be tomorrow, could be next week - who knows? Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!


When It Rains, It Pours

Phew. I am feeling wiped. It's been a busy day. Ish.

I don't know what I did, but somehow my alarm clock was set an hour ahead, so when I woke up at "8 AM," I thought, "Oh, well, the kids aren't feeling well anyway," and went back to sleep. My alarm went off shortly after, and I checked my cell phone: 7:25 AM. Still time to get 'em up and on the bus! So we raced through the readying process and got them out the door. No one complained about not feeling well or had a fever, so I sent them.

It was the last day before Spring Break for three+ weeks, so I figured it'd be good for them to go and take care of whatever loose ends needed to be wrapped up.

Sophie was still asleep, so I went back to bed until 10 AM.  Then Jack's teacher, Special Ed teacher, and the Vice Principal called me for our scheduled parent-teacher conference. I asked for one over the phone, since I seem to find myself without a vehicle these days.

There was talk about what a bright boy he is, and what high-level thinking and ideas he exhibits, but that he is not motivated to apply his knowledge. He works better for Special Ed than for his regular teacher, and it's thought to be because of the distractions of the other students. He's needing extra help with his reading and with his math, and we're thinking about giving him more time in Special Ed. Also, they think he might need glasses, so we'll get him an exam over the break. But mainly, they wanted to let me know he may be a candidate for retention if he doesn't improve over the next nine weeks. I knew that and have had that on my mind, so it didn't come as a shock. Now comes the big push, which he won't like, but if he's meant to be in first grade, I want him to prove it now!

I was going to go back to sleep again, but Sophia woke up right after that. I fixed her breakfast and then we went upstairs to work on the laundry. I haven't been touching it, and there was dirty laundry spread over every square inch of the upstairs except, thank heavens, our bedroom. So she and I separated it into piles, and I put a load in. We made Mommy's bed, and then waited for Jack's bus.

He was pissed when I asked him to come upstairs with me! Why, I don't know, he's just that way! I had them sit and play on my bed while I took a shower. Good thing I'm used to cold, quick showers, because that's all I was going to get while the washer was running! Whenever it's a little cooler than I would have liked, I just pretend I'm swimming and that makes it seem all right.

Oh, several of you have asked about Blue. I haven't seen hide nor hair of her since her arrival. Everyone keeps asking if she could have gotten outside somehow, but she'd have to come downstairs to do that. She's hiding. Tinkerbell seems to know where, but she's not giving her up, so we'll just wait her out.

While we were downstairs for lunch, the local casting director who selected Chloƫ for "Boom" called. Seems they want her for an audition this coming Monday evening in Suffolk. It films locally, which is a relief after all the driving around Virginia we've been doing lately! It's another SAG short film, which is great, and even better, this one pays! So, we'll be there.

I put in the movie Bolt for the kids then, which I'd gotten as a free rental from Redbox last night. (I also got Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which didn't work, and Twilight, which I just couldn't get interested to watch. I'm just not into it like so many others, I guess. Not my style.) Bolt was cute - what I saw of it. Sophie and I were curled up on the couch together (it's so nice now that we both can fit!), and I fell asleep in the middle.

When it was over, I wanted to go outside and play. I realized Chloƫ's bus would be coming along shortly, so we wandered down to the corner to wait for her. Again, she kept her head down and didn't realize we were there until we called her name several times. Again, she was delighted to see us. We'll have to make it part of our routine again.

Once everyone had had a snack, we put the dog on her leash and headed back outside. We didn't have any particular aim, so I let the kids lead the way. They wanted to walk around the small pond again. Fine, small pond it is. It was much warmer today than it was Tuesday, though there was a very slight drizzle, if you could even call it that. We got hit with maybe one drop every five minutes. We got most of the way around the small pond when Chloƫ spotted a school friend on a side street. So we took a detour, interrupted their game of catch with their dad, and let everyone pet the dog. Smiles all around.

At the end of the street, we were going to turn toward home, but I was feeling good. "Anyone want to walk around the big pond?" They did. As soon as we got over there and spotted the playground, though, we changed directions again. The dog and I sat at the entrance while the kids ran around and had a good time. There were tweeners on the playground, which is supposed to be for kids up to age 12 only, and they were roughhousing and misbehaving. I'd have walked over to the office to report them, except, uh, I had a dog inside the gate with me. No pets allowed. So I wasn't going to be a hypocrite! Lily behaved, though. She just sat there and waited. She didn't poop or pee during our entire walk.

When we set off again, we planned to go 'round the big pond, but suddenly the rain started falling more earnestly. We giggled and danced our way home between drops, and the girls had to change their soaking wet, muddy clothes. Jack stayed pretty clean and dry.

And then, I got another phone call, this time from the agent in NYC. Could Chloƫ be there the following day for an audition for H&M Kids? Hm, well, I don't know. I spent the better part of the next two hours making arrangements for childcare for the Littles, finding us last-minute cheap tickets, and getting transport to the airport. It all worked out, finally, so I called MMG back and let them know we'd be there tomorrow. As we speak, Chloƫ is picking out her audition outfit.

Schwan's came, and I had a list ready for them. Good thing, because Rob took one of their frozen pizzas and stuck it right in the oven for dinner. After they ate, Chloƫ and I returned the three Redbox movies, and that's been it for the day.

I think I'll crash early. Tomorrow's a busy day, and I want to feel rested and well.


Photo Shoot

The only thing on our agenda today was the Dollar Tree photo shoot. Sophia slept late, so I slept all morning after getting the big kids off to school, until Jack came home. It was a fitful sleep, though. Lately I can't just fall asleep and stay asleep for one big stretch.

Oh, and now I remember, I was up past 0500, watching TV and crocheting dish cloths. No particular reason, other than I was wide awake from having some sips off Rob's Coke. Dummy.

After Jack came home and everyone's belly was filled, we made our way upstairs to get ready. I had to shower, of course, and get the little ones dressed. Then I had to rush like a madwoman, tearing through Chloƫ's drawers and the laundry to get her wardrobe together for the shoot. They wanted lots of choices, the more the better, in pinks, reds, khaki, tan, brown, and black! The ad is for Valentine's Day, so I made sure not to bring all the red and pink stuff with Christmas icons on them.

Finally, I had a big bag stuffed full of clothes. I grabbed everything we needed, the kids, and off we went to get Curly Girl from school.

I'm glad I had requested that she be out front and ready to go at 1415. I showed up at 10 after and waited another 10 minutes for her to come up. Gah! But I had built in plenty of extra time, so it was all good. Especially since we got lost a little bit once we got downtown, and I drove onto the college campus by accident. In a place where cars aren't supposed to go. Oopsie.

The shoot went well. Chloƫ and another girl, B, were the models, sitting at a table and coloring and playing with flash cards and stuff. Their biggest issue was getting the angle right, to show both the models' faces and the Dollar Tree stuff on the table. B was older than Chloƫ, but Chlo took direction better and IMO behaved more professionally on the set. She stayed put when she wasn't told she could have a break instead of stomping off every five minutes for a drink. Not that B was a brat, but she wouldn't stay still and wait between shots.

Jack and Sophie behaved well, too. Thanks, in large part, to the giant jar of pretzel sticks someone had brought along to the set. They ate lots of those and were kept quite content by them.

The drive home was long and arduous. The traffic in downtown Norfolk was thick and impenetrable, no matter which side streets I tried to duck down to avoid the snarling mess. Finally, we were able to break out onto the interstate, and the flow wasn't too bad. Except I was having major touch-and-goes and nearly rear-ended the car in front of me when it stopped and I didn't. I "came to" at just the right moment to hit the breaks. Thank God for car seats.

Once home, it was all I could do to make it inside, rather than just falling asleep right behind the steering wheel and making the kids sit out in the cold with me. It was a struggle, but I made it. If I have to go buy iron at the drug store and take multiple dosages, I guess I will, because I obviously need it. Soon as I can get to it...

Rob woke me up when he came home, but I don't remember. Eventually I woke up again on my own, and we went to Cici's Pizza for the school's cashola (fundraiser) night. We were definitely the stragglers, but there were still some people from school to recognize and welcome us. It's our first cashola of the year, and the kids were dying to go, so we did.

I dozed off again when we got home, when I was supposed to be crocheting dishcloths! Oh, well. Think I'll just take my meds and go down for good. Hopefully tomorrow will be more wakeful for me.


A Long One, As Requested

Wednesday was such a busy day, I came home and went right to bed from exhaustion. This cold/whatever is still kicking my ass, and now all the kids are sick from it, too. I can not wait until winter goes away!

I got up early yesterday morning and took a shower with Chloƫ, so that her hair would be nice and curly for her Dollar Tree photo shoot. Then we woke up the rest of the children, got them dressed, and everybody fed. I had already spent an hour the night before getting bathing suits, sundresses, shorts and tees ready for the photo shoot - as assigned - and had the directions printed out. So, off we went.

We got a little lost in downtown Norfolk, and I had to call the studio for directions. Who knew there were cobblestone streets in Norfolk, Virginia? Not I. Sophia piped up from the back seat, "We're bumpin', Mommy, we're bumpin'!"

So we arrived at the studio, ten minutes ahead of schedule (hey, more time for the time sheet), and lo and behold, they were expecting much smaller models than ChloĆ«. Like one- and two-year-olds. To model their swimsuits and shorts sets; we weren't supposed to bring our own. Is ChloĆ«'s agent a dipwad or what?!  So I was all prepared to be very annoyed about having to get everyone up, miss morning school, drag them all out sick, etc. when they spotted Sophia in the stroller. "Do you think these 18M bathing suits would fit her?" they asked.

Well. Uh. We can try...

And they did! So in addition to the other two models there, Sophia had her pictures done in three different suits and outfits. She was a natural ham - we always say we've got the wrong kid in acting, because Soapy's such a drama queen - and she did a tremendous job. They were so pleased with her, they even sent the two other kids home and kept taking her pictures in another outfit. She would pose with her hands on her hips and turn to one side, then to the other, then blow kisses to the camera, and smile on command - she was great! At first she didn't want to do pictures at all - and she certainly didn't want to wear any make-up - but then we told her to pretend she was at the beach, and she jumped right in there and had a great time.

They even wanted Jack to do some pictures after they sent the other little (uncooperative) boy home, but Jack wanted none of it. He just huddled next to me and shouted, "NO!" I don't know if he would've done if if he weren't miserable, but I wasn't going to make him. So, the Dollar Tree ad will be out on May 18th; pick up a copy and see our newest little star! It'll be a nice little bit of money for her college account, and unlike Chloƫ, I probably won't even need to "pay" her a little something for doing it, since she won't have realized she was "working." I can just put it all in the bank.

We got out of there earlier than expected, so we raced home to beat Jack's school bus to the house. I was dubious about sending him, but he seemed perked up about going and didn't complain at all about not feeling well, so I made his lunch and got him into his backpack just as his bus pulled up. One kid down.

Then I threw Chloƫ's backpack and things together and drove her off to school. "Did you oversleep this morning?" the attendant asked when we walked in. "No," I stated, "she was at a photo shoot for..." "Mooooom, it wasn't my photo shoot, it was Sophia's!" Well. True. But she was there. Two kids down.

Then it was just me and Baby Bubba (she still loves that new nickname).  Barbara was coming to the house to clean, so we needed to clear out of there. I ran home to get my knitting, and then we drove to the new Panera for lunch. Instead of my usual You-Pick-Two half-sandwich and small bowl of soup, plus a kids' meal, I thought we'd just get a full sandwich and a bread bowl of soup, and share that. Oh, man, it was waaaay too much food. One thing I have noticed for sure since being on this starvation diet is that I can't eat nearly as much as once as I used to; I actually get full for once! And of course, while Soap can sure pack it away as compared to her sibs, she can still only eat a, well... she can eat enough for a small adult. So we threw away almost half a sandwich (I would've kept it, but she hacked at it and ate pieces of it from all different angles, and it was just a mess) and half the bread bowl. Wasteful. I hate being wasteful. We'll not do that again.

Then we drove to the yarn store. I wanted to do a bit of social knitting, plus I needed to pick out some cute buttons for the sweater set I'm knitting now, and I needed to get some items for the February prize pack I still need to mail out for my crochet list charity thing. We had about two hours alotted for the yarn store, which would have been plenty of time to get all that done. Only... no sooner did I get Sophie buckled into the stroller (to keep her from running amok and pulling balls of yarn out all over) and wheeled to the back of the store, but my phone rang. (And having your phone ring in a yarn store is similar to being in a library, or a fine restaurant, or the movies - everyone turned pissily toward me; oops.)

It was the nurse at Jack's school. He was running a fever, and doing a little coughing, and saying his throat and tummy hurt. Ahh, my poor little guy. I can't say I was terribly surprised. I told them I was down off Lynnhaven and would be a little while getting there, but I'd be there soon.

We rushed to Arrowhead, and I ran in to get my little sickie. One of the teacher's aides from his class carried him out to me, and he looked so tiny in her arms. She said he had been sleeping until I called. He just looked pathetic. Miserable. I carried him out to the car and took him home.

When we were pulling in, the nice Japanese neighbor lady (I suppose I could start calling her Sachi now, which is her name - will y'all remember that? Promise?) and her husband (who is African-American, and who has told me his name at least three times, and I still can't remember it), and their two little boys were outside with bikes and helmets and stroller. They called out that they were going to the park around the corner. Sophie ran over to greet the boys - her new best friends after playing together two days last week while Mommy ailed - and their parents. Did she want to come to the park with them? She sure did. After checking to make sure it wasn't too much of a hassle for them, I agreed, and they were off.  Too bad I had Jack, or that would've been three down, and free time for me! But alas.

Barbara was surprised to see us, and I apologized and told her I'd had to pick up m'boy from school, and I was going to sit on the couch and cuddle him. She said she'd clean that room last and went upstairs. So I lay down on my back, and piled Jack on top of me on my belly, and he fussed and whimpered and didn't want to lie down. And about three seconds later, he was snoring loudly and tucked down into my arm, dead to the world. He slept for a long time and sweated profusely, his poor little feverish self. He only woke up because the doorbell rang, announcing Sophia's return from the park.

I fed Sophie a snack and put her down for a nap. Chloƫ arrived from school shortly after, and she went to lie down, too. And Jack and I snuggled and napped together some more.

Daddy came home, and asked what I wanted for dinner. "Bunco! Bunco is for dinner!" I cheered. To be completely honest, I was looking forward to getting away from the sick kids and the sick house and the sick, sick, sick. Is that rotten of me? Too bad, I was excited about it.

So I did a little knitting for the hour or so before I had to leave. This is the hat that I made the night before, which matches the sweater dress I'm making now: 100_5902

It's made of Sublime cashmere merino silk DK and is just as soft and - yes - sproingy as anything. I adore this Sublime yarn; it's one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the hat wouldn't sit up nicely for pictures, so here it is slumped over on its side. I started the sweater to match last night:


All of those bobbles at the bottom are a royal pain in the patoot; I hated making them. They wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to knit three together - and I've had to knit four and five together for other bobbles, so I've got no right complaining - but it makes the yarn split and the whole row took like an hour to do by itself.  But I like the Vs in the pattern and have since added on two more sets of Vs on top of this. And it's such a lovely color green. Barbara liked it, too. It's slow going, though. I can only do one set of Vs at a time before getting tired of it and putting it down for later.

Soon, it was time to head for Bunco. Oh, Bunco. Always fun. And everyone brought really good food this time, so I could eat plenty and not just fill up on junk. There were deviled eggs - I actually ate one, and I don't eat eggs! And it was good! - and chicken and veggie pizza and pasta salad and all sorts of good things. I didn't feel like cooking (shocking, I know), so Rob assembled small ham sandwiches for me to bring, and about half of them got eaten. He's a good Bob, he is.

Then we started the games. Carolyn, the one I can't stand, was in her usual form. Gah, she is so annoying. SO. She always grabs the dice when she sits down, so she can roll first. I mean, who the heck cares? And she started rolling last night before the head table rang the bell, which shouldn't count, but she insisted. WTF. And she took my score sheet because she couldn't find hers, even though I was RIGHT there and looking right at her. Hello! I know, all this sounds petty and stupid, but she does things like this constantly and is just so irritating, and it adds up. Plus she's just not pleasant and is a grump and I just don't like her. She tried to talk me into bringing her out to Stephanie's in Chesapeake for next month's Bunco, but thank God I have to go a different way, away from her house.

But the highlight of the evening was brought on by none other than Yours Truly. Jill, our hostess, had some lawn chairs around one of the tables, since you have 12 people and need 12 chairs to play. Fine. But these were some deeeep chairs, and I sunk far back into it and couldn't play very well. So as I was trying to get out of the chair and instead just stand on my knees at the table, it collapsed backward and threw my head and back into the corner of the bookshelf behind me, before landing me smack on my head on the floor. Oh. My. God. I was so mortified!!

I just sat there for a minute, stunned and unable to move, while the commotion flew around me. "Are you okay, are you okay, are you okay?" everyone asked. I tried to laugh through the humiliation, but I soon found that I still couldn't get out of the chair! Finally, someone's face (can't remember whose) was over mine, and then someone else's, and they were hauling me out of the chair onto the floor next to it. And I still couldn't get up. I'd hit my head hard.

Eventually, I made it onto my knees, and apologized profusely to Jill who apologized just as profusely back to me, and I joked about her homeowner's insurance, and we all laughed and got over it. But it was so embarrassing!!! Many people came to my rescue, though, and told me similar stories of a chair breaking underneath them. That made me feel much better. And I'm fine today, other than a big, sore bump on my noggin. And as predicted, Rob laughed his tush off when I told him about it.

The rest of Bunco passed quickly, and we all had a lot of fun. I didn't win any prizes, but the best prize for me is always just being there and laughing and being with my friends. Awww, puke.

Today, we're not doing much. The big kids are both home from school sick again, and Jack is absolutely miserable still, and sleeping on the couch. Chloƫ was probably well enough to go to school after all, but one extra day of resting won't kill her. And Sophie seems to be doing just fine. I've got a little knitting done, and more resting for me isn't a bad idea, either. We've got nothing at all going on today, thank goodness.

I'll leave you with this picture of Sophia pulling up her pant legs so she could check out her pretty dress-up shoes:

100_5904  Funny, right?


Spring Is Less Than Two Weeks Away!

That oughtta make you smile; it does me. Well, let's recap, shall we, and see everything I've missed this week?

Monday: Psychiatrist appointment for med refills (bad. Must reschedule this immejutly). PTA Board Meeting. Knitting Guild Meeting.

Tuesday: Chloƫ's ballet class. Open house for Girl Scouts summer camp.

Wednesday: Erm, nada. Wow.

Thursday: Taking Chloƫ to Brownies.

But, things are looking up. For one, I do believe the fever has finally broken. It seems today I was sweating my bullocks off because it was actually warm out and I forgot to turn on the AC, and not because of the sickness roiling within.

For another, you find out you have friends who care. Robert-Not-Craig (don't ask), another bus stop parent, brought Chloƫ to the bus stop in the mornings for me so that I could stay home, out of the chill. The nice Japanese neighbor lady took Sophie over to her house today and yesterday, so I could rest. And Debbie, our Brownies troop leader, came to pick up Chloƫ and drop her off for their meeting today, and she also insisted on bringing dinner over on Saturday. I forgot to mention our non-meat-eating habits; would it have been rude to mention that? Anyway, I didn't. But isn't that so nice? There's another non-disease-related source of warmth in my heart.

100_5885After a few days off, I was able to pick my knitting back up today. Seriously, I was too weak and shaky to even hold the needles still; it was lonely and booooring. This colorful eyesore is the cotton blanket I'm making to overcome my afghan allergies. It doesn't look like much now; they never do at this stage. I'm hoping she'll be a beaut when she's finished, though.

Truthfully, I really don't like knitting with cotton. It's stiff and not stretchy - or my favorite, sproingy. It's unforgiving in showing any knitting mistakes, not that I ever make those. Heh. It's heavy, and it's not very soft. Or warm. So. I'm having a hard time garnering my enthusiasm for making this blanket a third time, when I usually hate to repeat a pattern even once. It'll probably take me a month. 

I am in the finishing stages of the plum-colored cardigan, though (the bumpy one, remember?) and hope to show you the completed project tomorrow. I really like it. It's soft and bouncy and pretty, and I just hope I don't screw up the seaming.

100_5888 So I gave Chloƫ my camera to take to the Brownies meeting today, which was held at BB&T bank, asking her to bring back some pictures for her scrapbook. This is what I got in return! Debbie took one picture of the girls in front of... a brick wall that you can't even tell is the bank. Hahahaha! That cracks me up. Oh, well. I can work with it.

Oh, guess what, guess what, guess what?? I got a call from ChloĆ«'s local agent today. She's been booked to do an ad for Dollar Tree next Wednesday!  We're very excited for her. She'll be doing swimmy stuff. They actually wanted her in January, but we were going to be at iPOP! then - and they remembered her and specifically asked for her! So with that, the modeling classes she's doing now and next weekend's performer's expo, there's a nice new bit of padding for her rĆ©sumĆ©. Way to go, Chlo!


Thanks for all the input on Jack's birthday party, both by email and in the comments. The winning suggestion came from MIL, and that's to bring the party to Jack's school. I like that because (a) it's not at my house, (b) I don't have to deal with parents, (c) all his friends will be there, and (d) Jack will be happy and in his element. So I wrote in his notebook to his teacher, and she said I could bring juice, cake and party favors, but no balloons or candles (surprise), and it had to be short and sweet. You know, that's fine. His birthday falls on Easter weekend this year, and there will be plenty of activities to make him a happy boy. We'll do candles and balloons at home, and it'll be great. Yay for moms!

Um, so since I haven't showered since I don't know when, I'm going to take my Smelly self upstairs and do just that. Smell ya later!



More good news from iPOP!

When we were in L.A. doing the meet-and-greets with all the agents and management companies, the agent from MMG (Model Management Group) in NYC chased us down after we left their table, to get more information from us. Well, they just called Chloƫ's acting school a little while ago to get in touch with us. We got the message and called in. The guy was very New York, very different from L.A. "Yeah, we want to work with Chloƫ, can you get to New York? Okay, email me some head shots. Thanks, bye." Very short, very terse, but very good!!

This is so exciting!!!


I'm a Loser Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me

Don't freak out; those are song lyrics... ;)

So yesterday, I was sick, Jack and Chloƫ stayed home from school sick with fevers and coughing, and babies Sophie and Jade were coughing and sneezing and runny nosing and the like as well. It was a fun, funnish day for me. You know? Add Kleenex to the list of companies we should own stock in if we were ever to do something smart, like invest our money.

We watched Polar Express, The (thanks, Steph, for your lenditure of it) and laid around and felt like shit. Lay, whatever.

Rob worked overnight from 2200-0600, so in his absence I did some more Christmas decorating - stockings, outside lights, his crappy childhood ornaments that I hate am so glad he saved to put on our tree - and did some of my yarn cataloguing on Ravelry. Then I watched Thank You For Smoking (meh, it put me to sleep) while I worked a few rows of knitting until I didn't know what to do anymore because my effing pattern is missing. You can't keep a decent pattern in this house. So many grabby hands are happy to misplace things for you. Of course, I probably stuck it somewhere myself, but it's easier to blame the thigh-high crowd.

Confidential to Jurt Double Decker: Are you still out there? You haven't commented in a long time. Miss ya!

Today, Jadey was supposed to come at the buttcrack of dawn, but she didn't show up. I was knocked out on one couch, Rob was passed out on the other, and suddenly I heard Chloƫ hollering and pitching a fit upstairs. I woke Rob up to see what was the matter (not having remembered at the time that he had only been home and sleeping a few hours, poor thing), and it turned out she and Jack were locked in their room. Wonder how that happened? Rob thinks someone went potty in the middle of the night and did something to the lock on their way back in.

So it was 10:00 at that time. 10:00?!! Aaaughhh. We were supposed to be at the acting school at 10:00 for the auditioning class. The auditioning class that we have now missed for four weeks out of four. $%^(*&(!!! Oh, well. Now they'll have to drop us and we can start the next round when they hopefully reschedule it at a decent hour. No, 10:00 on a Saturday morning is not decent! :p

So I called Savanh, Jade's mom (not her real name, but she's Thai, and I think it's more like Phonesvanh - and don't ask me what her last name is), to see where my baby was. After all, I had depended on the doorbell to be my wake-up call, and it never came. She was running late, too. Her older kids would be strolling her down in a little while. Eventually, she arrived, snarfling and sniffling once again. Is it summertime yet??!!!

So eventually (yes, I'm aware I start sentences with "so" all the time) I made my way into the shower, and then Chloƫ and I rushed out to Chesapeake for her modeling audition with IMG Model Management from New York City. New York City?! (Does anyone else always say that, from that salsa commercial of awhile back?) Jade was sound asleep in her bouncy seat, so Rob kept her home with him. I have no idea what happened in that audition. In the queue, the other parents told me she was just so cute, she didn't have to say anything in there. The kids were in and out of the audition room so quickly, it was blink-and-you-miss-it speed. I never even saw the people. Odd, very odd.

Then we ran an unnamed errand, and I decided not to do a Footlocker shop at Greenbrier Mall that said it would pay $20 for an hourlong thing. Eh, no thanks. Wish I'd seen that before I printed out the paperwork.  So we drove out to Holland Road back here in town for a quick Sonic shop. I only had to buy a drink for it, but ChloĆ« kept squawking about being hungry from the back seat, so I got her some mozzarella sticks and cheesecake bites. She ate maybe two bites. Nibble, nibble, nibble! (from the LifeSavers commercial) Oh well, more for me.

Back home, Jade had already been picked up by her mom's friend, which gave us a couple of hours to coach Chloƫ on her monologue and scene before her iPOP! class. She needed it. I hadn't touched the monologue in a while, and man, it showed. I was getting pretty frustrated. I might have yelled. I probably did, since on the way to class, Chlo said, "Mom, I still love you, even though you yelled." Heh. I'm trying not to think of all the money we've spent on classes and this L.A. trip. I'm trying not to put that kind of pressure on the kid. I'm trying to just let this be about fun and self-expression and confidence and following her bliss. But gawd, it's frustrating when she keeps forgetting the same one line over and over again!

All the practice paid off. We went to class, and I got to sit in on it for once. We discussed all of my concerns (like, she doesn't project very well, and she is doing a lot of coughing which throws her monologue well over the one-minute allowance) and some solutions (she might be miked, and hopefully she'll be better in three weeks when it's time). She practiced slating and doing her commercial, monologue and scene for Sean and the camera. We discussed all those weeks that she missed audition class, which Sean is also teaching. He's going to spend a couple of hours with her after the new year, one-on-one, to get her caught up. She'll get a lot more done with individualized attention anyway. It'll be fine. And we decided to do a few different things with her acting. She's going to do her monologue lying on her belly! It should be cute. And memorable. It's good. And her scene was GREAT. She was charming and funny, and she made both Sean and I laugh even though we've both scene seen her do it dozens of times.

Phew. We'll be ready. I know we will. 19 days to go until iPOP! We'll be ready. She'll. She. It's her thing.

So I've spent the rest of the day cataloguing my yarn stash on Ravelry. Why? Because it's cool. All the "in" kids are doing it. Not really. But it's helping me get back in touch with some yarns I haven't met in a while, at the bottom of the barrel, and will keep me better informed about what I've got before I buy more! And I have a bunch of crap that I hate and want to get rid of. <gasp> I might even give it away without asking for any in return. I hate it that much. (Red Heart Super Saver, anyone?) Especially those variegated yarns. SO ugly. JMHO, of course.

That's all. I was hoping to watch The Human Stain with Rob, but he appears to have, well, disappeared on me. Y'all know he's narcoleptic, right? It's really irritating for me. I know the boy can't help it, but at least be near me when you fall asleep! Welp, as long as he's not driving...



So. Where was I?

Ah, yes. Wednesday morning. The photo shoot! Here's what it's all about: the pictures are stock photography. Stock photos are taken to represent different "lifestyle" scenarios, such as (in this case) a wedding, or two grads toasting each other, or having a baby, or whatever. Then they are posted on the website, and any company who wants it can buy it from the site and use it in their advertisements. Right now, this company has one of their pictures running for American Express. I don't know which one. But it'll take about six months for the pictures from Chloƫ's shoot to appear on the website, and then they'll never know what companies will use them, or when. So we'll just have to keep our eyes peeled for Little Miss Chlo.

The shoot went very well. It was right about two hours long, and she did such a great job for her first time. As I'd hammered into her head, she did exactly as she was instructed, and the "bride" really helped the girls (there were four flower girls, including Chloƫ) feel at ease in the pictures, talking to them and making them laugh. It was a lot of fun, and I could tell she was really enjoying herself.

I had left Jack with the neighbors, so they could put him on the bus. Otherwise, he'd have had to miss school that day, and he's missed so much from not feeling well. (But he would have made a cute ring bearer! They didn't have one... ;) )  Sophie came with me. There was anothe two-year-old sibling there, so the little girls sat and drew pictures and "chatted" together and were very sweet. It all ran very smoothly.

Afterward, I had to get Chloƫ to school, so I ran to Wendy's to get my girls a little lunch to eat in the car on the way there. That was dumb. Never give a two-year-old a fast food cup in the car. The lid comes right off, and... you know. Not good.

So anyway, she got to school. And Jack came home. And she came home. And all was well.

In the evening, Stephanie, our babysitter, came over so we could go out to a mystery shop dinner at the Town Point Club, a private invitation-only club for executive-types. So, yeah, we don't really fit in there, but we try our best to fake it. And omg, it is so good. We started out in the lounge, where I had a Cosmo and Rob had a scotch & soda. Then we were taken to the dining room, where we received the white glove treatment. I ordered a bottle of wine that I really wish I could remember the name of, because it was dee-lish. RosƩ Rosata or some such. I don't know. But we liked. Rob had oysters and I had the best she-crab soup on the planet, for apps, and I had crab cakes and he had rack of lamb for entrƩes. He had Bananas Foster for dessert, and I had the cheesecake with Chambord dribbled over it. We had some coffee, and I had Bailey's in mine. Rob called me a lush. Maybe so, but it was good stuff! And we were full to burstin' afterward. But the absolute best part was the service. We absolutely love going there. It was our third time, and it's always amazing!

We both collapsed from exhaustion when we got home. That was the end of the night!

I got up at 0500 with Rob and started working on the report for dinner. I didn't finish until almost 0900, taking out about 45 minutes to get Chloƫ up and onto the bus. It's a lot of writing for that shop. But it's worth it.

Then I stayed up and did some other work until ten, when I got Jack up for school. I put him on the bus at 1100, and slept for a little while until Sleepy Sophia finally woke up. She had taken off her diaper, and when I opened her door, the first thing out of her mouth was, "I didn't go peepee on my pillow, Mommy!"  Well, good! I am so excited, beyond words, to be nearing the end of the Diaper Chapter of our lives.

We didn't do much during the day, because I was still so tired, until the kids came home from school. I did several loads of laundry, but that was about it. Then we took Chloƫ to Brownies, and we did some T-day grocery shopping while she was there. First thing into the store, Sophie said, "I have to go potty, Mommy!" When your potty-training youngster pipes up thusly, you heed the call, no matter the inconvenience. And she went, at least. That gave me less than 45 minutes to do a speed-shop around the store, check out, and load up the car before heading back to Brownies to pick up Miss Chlo. But I made it, with six minutes to spare!

The Littles stayed in the van watching Madagascar while I picked her up. I was supposed to go to her school to attend tonight's Book Fair, but I realized there was no way I could make it home, unload the groceries - even with Rob's help, drive to school, shop for books on her Wish List, and be back in time for Stephanie-Sitter to watch the kids for our second night out in a row. We had 1900 reservations at Aldo's Ristorante, again for a mystery shop... so I asked Karen, another Brownies mom who I knew would be going to the Book Fair, to shop for me instead. I wrote her a blank check and gave her the wish list, and she agreed! Yay. Big help. Moms helping moms. Looove it! (Zack and Weezy, from Dragon Tales on PBS.)

So. Anyway. We did go home and unload all those groceries, and I scanned them for Nielsen. Rob showered, I dressed and made a pizza for the kidlets to eat for dinner, Stephanie arrived, and we left for Aldo's. Dinner was pretty good, but it was no Town Point Club. Then I remembered I had to do a Cold Stone shop after dinner! Agh! Too many shops, I take. Crazy-making. 

I decided to take Stephanie out for ice cream instead of Rob, so we swung home to trade partners. I got my shop form, and Steph and I went to hang out. The ice cream was good, but the rest of the shop was not. I was stuffed from dinner, though, so my Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip - Love It! size - is in the freezer, if any of you are interested.

Then Steph and I hung out on our couch, chitty-chatting, for a couple hours. We laughed. It's good to laugh. Now I want to crash.

Oh - post comments! I am a comment whore. Love the comments. Please? ;)