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Sunday Stealing: I Amuse Myself Meme


So I'm late and it's Monday morning. What else is new?!

Link up here if you're a late bloomer like me. ;)

01. What is something that you have lost recently?: 

When we went out Sunday afternoon, I yelled at the kids, namely Sophia, for not putting my sunglasses back on the front door shelf like I asked them/her to.  I had to eat crow hours later, when I found them in my tote bag, where I had put them. Oops. (Of course, I apologized to them.)

02. Do you own any self-help books?

I try to avoid it. I don't think I do.

03. Do you live near the sea or ocean?

I live in Miami. You could say that!

04. Have you ever spent ages making/writing something on your computer when it suddenly crashed and you lost it all?: 

Of course I have. I remember the time I was writing my final Geology paper in college and didn't save as I went. Almost finished the paper and lost the entire thing when the power went out in my dorm's computer lab. Argh! It was due the next morning at 8 AM, and this was at, like, 9 PM. I had to type furiously just to get it done. I still got an A!

05. Do you enjoy food shopping?

Yeah, for the most part. We've renewed our zeal for eating organic foods, especially meat and dairy, for our growing kids' sakes. Not to get into it right now, let's just say I'm glad the Whole Foods isn't too terribly far from home... but it is fun to go in there, amiright?

06. What are you having for lunch?

I don't know yet. Before I lost weight, I used to think about my entire next day's eating plan. I'd get so excited about eating it, I couldn't sleep! Kinda sad. I don't do that anymore. But coincidental to our GMO heave-ho, I'm on a diet and fitness kick for myself. So maybe an egg-white omelet with organic cheese and sautéed Vidalias?

07. Are you one of those people who can sleep through anything?

I'm the person who struggles like crazy to GET to sleep, and often to STAY asleep, but once I do, mannnnn, I sure hope you don't need me for anything, 'cause I am OUT!

08. Do you like love letters?

I mean, I guess. Who doesn't? I would say I like an unexpected love letter more than anything, though!

09. Have you ever received or written one?

So, yeah, Rob and I used to write them to each other before we got married, and we still have those somewhere, I think. Maybe, or maybe I decided to get rid of them before the kids found them? They were pretty naughty. But one time, ages upon ages ago, I got a letter I didn't expect, from a friend-with-benefits, and he wrote, "You're not the girl OF my dreams, but you're the girl IN my dreams." I loved that line. Obviously. We're still friends (though no more benefits, of course); I sure hope he doesn't read this!

10. How far does your nearest relative live?

I live way down there at the tippy-tip of Florida, and my dad's up in western central South Carolina. It's far, but sometimes it's not quite far enough, you know what I mean?

11. Do you like velvet?

I suppose? Sure. It's fun to rub...? Silliness.

12. What kind of art do you like?

I'm a huge, huge fan of Romero Britto's work. the giclée above hangs on our living room wall. It symbolizes so much about our marriage.

13. If you went to London, where would you go first?

Call me cliché, but I'd have to go see Big Ben! Then I could go off the beaten track a bit more.

14. If you had to pick one friend who is the most interesting, who would you pick?

Maybe my friend Shana. She's an accomplished concert violinist who has played with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, and goodness knows who else. Her entire family is musical. Her dad fronted (fronts? I don't know) the band Todd Hobin and the Heat, and you may have heard some of the jingles he's written, too. Her mom used to sub in our choir in high school, and they're all just... amazingly talented. 

15. Can you think of the meanest thing you have ever done/said to someone?


Yeah. I think I've shared it here before? Maybe not. Ugh. I hate to even think about it, though it was 20 years ago.

My sister was the skinny and pretty one; I was the intellectual. She went to BOCES (New York-speak for trade school) for Cosmetology training in high school, and she came running up to me at my locker one day with her report card, all excited to tell me that she got all As and had the highest grade in her class. I immediately blurted out, "Try doing that with my classes," or something equally horrid. Her face fell, and she was completely crushed. I felt positively wicked, but there was no taking it back. Maybe she's forgiven me for that, but I don't know if I ever will.

16. What magazines do you read?

I guess sooo many magazines from free subscriptions, it's absurd. I barely have time to glance at most of them, but I do absorb every detail of People. It's my guilty pleasure.

17. What/who has been on your mind today?

For most of Saturday and all of Sunday (and, it seems, into Monday), I've had an agonizing migraine. It's entirely the reason why I didn't post here over the weekend, though I meant to. It was terrible - the puking, crying, everything. The worst one I've had in a very long time.

18. Would you be interested in ghost-hunting?


No, absolutely not. I've zero interest.

On that note...!




Aloha Friday: What Did You Learn?

Aloha Friday Blog Hop on @PamelaMKramer

Link up on A Renaissance Woman if you've got questions for us today!

I have a two-part question for you this week. My questions are:

What's the most important lesson you have learned in your life?


And, similarly:


What one thing would you like to learn?

 As for me, I have learned to not take myself too seriously and to be able to laugh at myself. It's an important lesson, and I hope to be able to teach it to my kids as well. Especially the oldest, who is waaaay to uptight!

Also, I would love to learn to be a better gardener. I have a serious black thumb that I can't seem to turn green, and it would be really nice to know how to grow my own (organic) fruits and vegetables without killing off all the plants.

Now what about you??

Thanks for stopping by!


Sundays In My City: Homebound In Homestead

Unknown Mami

It may be Monday, but no matter, because I'm always late. I'm linking up again with Unknown Mami and her posse on Sundays in my City, so come along as we explore what Team Odette did all last week when lack of gas - and funds - kept us around the ol' Homestead homestead. I promise to visit and comment back, too - though it may take me a month, I'll do it! Swears.


Cooking. Did I show these already? I forget. Sorry, if so. Anyway, I promised to take the load off Rob - and give Chloë something to tally on my side of her chart - so last week I made some seasoned vegetables for all of us and this:


pork steaks, for the rest of the family, 'cept me. (I don't do mammals. Somehow, some way, I'm going to become a full-on vegetarian again by the end of 2013, but it's hard when I have such high protein requirements, thanks to my gastric bypass surgery.)

We had no salt, no seasonings (the veggies came pre-seasoned, heh), and no fat, oil, lard, margarine, butter, you name it, you got it? So I quickly texted my former home-ec teacher of a mother-in-law, who suggested I cut the fat off the meat and render that first, then cook the meat in it. Brilliance! It worked like a charm. And even in that state, Rob pronounced it delicious and entirely edible enough to make again. Thanks, Mamacita!


That was Sunday. On Monday night, we came home from I-don't-know-where hungry, and I whipped up some healthy lettuce and chicken salad spinach wraps for Rob and me, while he made some pasta for the mouths under the kids' upturned noses. Poo-poo on them; the wraps were delishamus.


We've been walking every day still, and each day we encounter new flowers. This flower, on Tuesday, was the first yellow hibiscus I'd seen. It was the 29th anniversary of my mom's death that day, but I was determined not to cry. Guess what, I actually succeeded, thanks to my drugs I'm guessing.


Every day, we go down to the lake across from our place. Well, almost every day. Rob wants to fish here, but the sign says no way, José. I don't think he'll listen. And gators? No way can my kids walk down to the lake by themselves. I've already lost one kid; I'm not giving the rest away.


Some of the eggs have hatched! This mama Muscovy duck had 12 ducklings. Twelve! 


Chloë and sibs have been determined to spot a gator since we moved down here. Fortunately, they've been unsuccessful so far. I want to go down to the Everglades and rent an airboat. I've never done that before, and I know it's fun. Surely we'll spot some gators that way.


It took me a week, but I finally spotted an ibis. I was the last one. Why is this significant? The mascot of my alma mater, U-Miami, is Sebastian the Ibis, of course!


We have seen several instances of Muscovies mating, so we've had to explain, yet again, all about the birds and the bees to the kids. It's an ongoing conversation, and we have an Open Door policy where that is concerned, so it's cool. I found it interesting to note that the drake bites the female on the back of the neck while he's mounting her, much like a male shark bites a thickened part of flesh on the back of a female during their dance of looove.


And not to be outdone, this Mama Muscovy sported no less than 20 following ducklings that afternoon. Twenty!!


On Wednesday, the hibiscus turned out to be a beautiful pink rose. And not only that, but:


check out the gorgeous orchids on this tree! Real ones, too, no matter how fake they looked; I checked. We diverted from our usual path that day and walked to the next neighborhood over. I was bored to tears and dying for a change of scenery, after all.


Knitting. I've kept up my pledge to knit for the highly-allergic Vinnie, though I don't have much yarn with me until our stuff gets here on Tuesday from the movers. A little colorwork this time, using an unraveled coat I never finished making for Sophia four years ago, and some yarn of Stephanie's that was used in another project for her boys.


On Thursday, we decided to take the short walk up the road to get some free groceries with coupons I'd gotten. We stopped along the way to peer into the canal, where we spotted turtles, fish - and numerous shopping carts. Who throws a shopping cart into a canal, for Pete's sake?!


I was aMAZED at the Publix, where not only did I get my items for free, but the coupons scanned above the cost of the items, and I got overage. I figured they would just make me buy something additional to eat that up, but no! They totaled it out, opened up the cash drawer, and gave me the money! Hello, ring-a-ding-ding! That's so unusual, and I bet you dollars to donuts it's not the official coupon policy of the store, but arguing was useless with them. So I took it and clicked my heels together with glee. 


Sophia, wearing my straw hat from Miss Lisa, picked up what she called a blade of wheat and said, "Look, Mama, I'm a cowgirl!" Oh, the cute.


On our way back home, we spotted these palm trees full of coconuts. Except, on closer inspection, they weren't coconuts at all, I guess. I don't know what the hell they are, but ... palm fruit, I guess?


So this was my haul: A $6.59 bag of organic sugar, a $5.99 bottle of organic raw blue agave, two Michael Angelo's family-size meals, and a large Diet Coke from the deli - all of which, they paid me over a dollar to take home. Nice, huh?


I'm part of Michael Angelo's team of taste-and-tell bloggers, so they provided me with the coupons for the free products to try. We got the chicken parmesan and the vegetable lasagna, both of wish were SOOOO good. I kid you not. Have you had their frozen foods? I would definitely buy these again, but you know me, they gotta be on sale and have a coupon to match! ;)

Chloë Raine 011

One of Chloë's agents back in Virginia called Thursday to say they wanted to submit her for a lead role in a TV show! They said she was perfect for the part, and you know, I may be biased but, I wouldn't doubt it! The kid has charm and personality to spare. Look at that sass!

Chloë Raine 017

And she looks so much like her daddy, it's nonsense. Fingers crossed, Chloë!!


Friday was not my day. It was payday, yet my card kept getting declined every where I went. Turns out there was fraud on our account... I had to cancel about a dozen mystery shops for the weekend, along with a host of other plans. Big bummer. We had to hang around the 'hood even more. Here's silly Sophia dressing up as both her mom and her dad, simultaneously.


For the first time in January, while he was visiting my dad, Jack had a grapefruit. Surprisingly enough, my picky boy LOVED it with a heavy dose of sweetening, so he kept prodding his sisters to try one, too. (Neither Rob nor I are big fans of the fruit.)  So when we grocery shopped Friday morning - after, of course, having to call the bank yet again to release the hold on my card so I could pay for mah dang groceries - I bought them each one to try. What would they think? I wondered.


That was Sophia's reaction to her first bite. Ha! She cracks me up. So went Chloë's first bite, too. Needless to say, the grapefruit is now wrapped in Saran wrap in the fridge, since Jack only wanted a few bites. And yes, I sweeted it with that better-than-free organic sugar ;)


Meanwhile, on Saturday night after Rob made us omelets for dinner, Jacky helped out with the dishes. Since he is a Little Person, he needs to jump up on the counter in order to reach the faucet. I'm so proud of this kid; nothing holds him back from doing what he aims to do, despite his small stature!


And finally, since we're still more-or-less homebound, here is one last shot of "The Tweens," Cupcake and Muffin, acting as bookends over the kitchen sink. Pretty girls, they.

As always, thanks for stopping by! See you again real soon, y'hear?


Product Review: Kashi Cereal, Cereal Bars, & Granola Bars

Moms Meet logo

As a Mom Ambassador for Moms Meet, I had a recent opportunity to sample three Kashi products for review:

Cereal bars

The first product up for my review was a box of Kashi TLC Ripe Strawberry Soft-Baked Cereal Bars. We received one six-pack of bars, and I think I ate all but one of them myself. This is saying a lot for Kashi, because one year on college, I about overdosed on cereal bars (they were new back then, and I really liked them!), to the point where it made me ill just to think about them anymore. So, I was tentative about trying these, but they were SO good! I mean, delicious. I loved them and would definitely buy them. And my favorite part about them, as the box promotes (not the one above but my updated packaging), Kashi is celebrating "25 years of NO High Fructose Corn Syrup"! Woo! Go Kashi!

The bars also come in Cherry Vanilla and Blackberry Graham, and are made with juicy, sun-ripened strawberries and wildflower honey for a touch of natural sweetness. Also, of course, they are made with Kashi's unique combination of 7 whole grains, for which they are known. Three grams of fiber in every bar - that doesn't hurt, either!

Cinnamon harvest

The second product in my package was a single box (darn!) of Kashi's Cinnamon Harvest cereal. This is certified USDA Organic whole wheat biscuits baked with sweet cinnamon. I can't eat a bowl of cereal with milk since my gastric bypass surgery, but I did try a few pieces before giving the box over to my three children, so I could give my own opinions as well as theirs. First, I'll give theirs: "YUM!" They all liked it, and it was gone in one day. This says a lot, compared to some of the "healthy and nutritious" cereals Mommy brings home. As for me, I figured they'd be bland without milk, but they were full of flavor and not too dry to eat, at all. Another two thumbs up from us!


Finally, we received bunches and bunches of Kashi's TLC Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bars, which are new. For these, I was supposed to share them with my "Mom Group," also known as my large homeschooling co-op, so I brought them in and made sure everyone got one and gave me their thoughts.

The reviews on these were all over the board:

Some, like me, didn't like anything about them. The taste and texture were all wrong for us. Don't get me started on the chocolate. My feeling was, "That's chocolate?! No. No, it can't be." It just didn't even taste like chocolate to me. Others felt similarly.

Some were iffy. They said the bars were "okay," and they might buy them if they could get them on special. One mom of 7 kids really liked them, as did her entire brood, but she would have to get them at a great bargain in order to buy.

I would say about half of the group, the remainder, though, really liked them and provided positive feedback. They liked the chocolate, although some said too many nuts and some said not enough, and they liked the texture. One mom told me that Kashi "hit it out of the park," and she was "definitely going to buy some."

So, there you go. My own family were in the iffy/okay group, except for me. I give them a thumbs down. 

Too bad I didn't get bunches of the cereal bars to give out, so I could end this on a more positive note! ;)

I'd like to thank Kashi and Moms Meet for providing me with this wonderful sampling opportunity. It was delicious fun!


A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama


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

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


I love Instagram.

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


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

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

Instead, here's what:


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


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

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

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


Well, there are a few reasons.

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



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

So why San Diego?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We'd love some of this:


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


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


Dang. Just dang.


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


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


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

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

Adjective cartoon

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


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

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


That's the plan, Stan!


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

HollywoodSign ,

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

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


Field Trip: Bloom

We started our back-to-school homeschooling here at Sweet Pea Academy on August first, and the kids have already accomplished a lot. So, with that in mind, I feel comfortable with taking the this week and the next few and scheduling lots of field trips in, around our at-home lessons.

On Monday, we had our first field trip of the year at the Bloom grocery store in Chesapeake, which we scheduled through a neat little Box Tops for Education-connected site, Field Trip Factory:


I'd never been to a Bloom before, and judging by their tagline, there, I had no idea what to expect. Turns out, it's, like, a regular grocery store, pretty much. Except they do cool field trips. So, there's that.


David was our tour guide. He talked about shopping the perimeter and took us first to the Deli. At each store department, he asked if the kids knew what was sold in that department. Since they shop with me all the time, the children were pretty good at answering those questions. Sophia's holding her face here because Jack was examining the rotisserie chicken, of which she is most definitely not a fan.


Each department also features products with stars, the number of which indicate how healthy the product it is. They range from none to three. We tried to find three-star items in every area. Here, they were allowed to watch how the deli meat was sliced after selecting Dietz & Watson turkey, ask questions, and of course, get a sample. Sophie didn't like hers, so I ate it. Yummy stuff!


Next, we visited the Bakery. It was, of course, very hard to find products with any stars there, but they eventually discovered some on the whole wheat breads. They selected one and put it in the cart for later. They also got to watch a cake being decorated, and all were vocal about informing the decorator and our tour guide, David, that Mommy does that, too.



The third department was Produce, where of course it was easy to find lots of three-star items. Chloë beat the other children to it, so here they were running to see what she found and find some three-stars of their own.


Chloë checking out some items for stars - she happily pointed out artichokes for me, since I love those, and broccoli for the three of them. All three kids LOVE broccoli. I think it's their favorite veggie.



David was telling them to shake the coconuts so they could hear the milk inside. They got a big kick out of that.


My kids have never had a fresh coconut. I've never bought one! I'll have to rectify that soon, since they were really interested in figuring how how you get one open, get the milk, and eat the meat. If they don't like it, no big loss, since I LOVE the stuff!


In the Produce Department, David was also trying to teach them - when they were paying attention and not going off in three different directions - about the benefits of organic foods vs. traditionally grown produce. Chloë, naturally, was outspoken about what she knew on that subject and how we used to eat a lot of it. I wish we still did! We'll get there again...


David then took us to the preparation room of Produce, to show them how they slice, package, weigh, and mark the watermelons for people who don't want to buy a whole one. Here, he was explaining why he had to wear gloves and a hairnet.



THWACK! That melon didn't stand a chance.


David made quick work of the melon. There's probably a joke there, but I'm not going to make it. You're welcome.


Jack didn't want any watermelon, so here's Chloë offering his slice to me. That was some good stuff, too. I'm normally not a huge fan - I could take it or leave it - but this was definitely a 'take' occasion.


Next, David showed the kids how to use the heat wrapper thingy. I used to do that all the time in the various groceries in which I've worked, so I wanted to show off my skillz on the machine, but then I decided it wasn't my show to steal. 


Then they were shown the produce scale, and how to ring in the codes to produce the right sticker and pricing information.


They were each allowed to put a sticker on a package of watermelon. Simple pleasures...


After that, David had each child try two kinds of "baby" carrots - regular and organic, and they had to guess which was which based on the taste. I sampled, too, and I would've gotten it wrong, but they all got it right! I was kind of impressed by that.


Lastly, they were allowed to taste some pineapple chunks. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the freakin' huge piece Jack selected. He wolfed it down too quickly, though. It was bigger than he was, practically. I tried some, too, and oh, my word, it was delish!


The kids noticed some fruit flies in the back area, so then David went into this explanation of how the store tries to keep the pests at bay and showed them the bug zapper. They would've spent all day on just that if we'd let them!


At last, we were finished with Produce and took a visit through the back to peek into the meat-cutting area. Of course, they weren't allowed in there, but they liked looking at and asking all about the machinery! I was glad it wasn't butchering time. I really didn't want to see that part, myself. Blech.


Here, David was explaining about the back stockroom while I did my best to keep them off the various birds, floats, and other moving objects. Really didn't want a trip to the ER instead of the supermarket!



Another source of excitement was the cardboard box baler. They were all able guess correctly why that was used instead of throwing away the boxes and shared that Mom is really 'big' on recycling!



Watching the baler smush the boxes was fun.


We stepped into the walk-in freezer for the frozen food section after that. Here's Chloë exclaiming, "Oh, my gosh! It's a lifetime supply of ICE CREAM!!" She was disappointed there were samples of that!


Fortunately, David was able to lure them away from the ice cream with samples of Colby-Jack cheese, which Jack again declined because he hates the stuff. (Crazy kid.) The girls, on the other hand, begged about five chunks each off of poor David, who was helpless against their pleas. I snagged a piece, too, and so my pouch was quite full after all my own samples!


In the Dairy section, they were asked to find an orange juice with three stars to add to our cart. They chose Minute Maid and were schooled on what, exactly, is pulp. Do you like a pulpy OJ? I do. Mmm.


After Dairy, we stopped in the Meat Department. Poor David was trying to explain all about the different meats available there and get them to find one with multiple stars, but I discovered a sign promoting a sale on Butt Roast. Hello! I couldn't resist that, so I interrupted, giggling: "Hey, kids! Come read this sign! What does it say?" They read the sign and, between fits of laughter at their reaction, I informed David that I was not the most mature parent in the world. He laughed, too, and allowed them to pick a butt roast for our cart, instead of the lean meats he had been trying to steer them to choose. Hee!


Next stop: Seafood! Chloë was drooling over the shrimp, which she could eat on a daily basis, and showing me the crab legs, which I could eat on a similarly frequent schedule. I won't turn down many kinds of seafood, though. It's my weakness.


David called over one of the Seafood clerks to fish out a lobster for the kids to observe up close. Later, they couldn't decide whether that or sampling all the yummy food was the highlight of their visit.


Since we studied Vertebrates last year, I couldn't resist throwing in a quick review lesson while they were petting the lobster. Two out of three correctly guessed that a lobster is an INvertebrate - I think Chloë was the one who got it wrong, but she redeemed herself by then remembering the word "exoskeleton" and explaining that that was why it wasn't a vertebrate. David wanted to move on from there, so that's as far as we got with that, or I'd have been there all day!


After a quick stop in the Grocery department to find a three-star can of beans, we headed up front to allow the kids to learn how to be cashiers. Chloë enjoyed that so much, she informed me she wanted to be one when she grows up. I started to blurt out, "Let's aim a little higher, shall we?" but refrained, remembering my place. And hey, as long as she's happy, I don't care. Besides, I like being a cashier, too! It's fun.



Chloë was up first, and she scanned the can of beans.


After Sophia scanned the wheat bread they'd picked from the Bakery Department, David showed them how the lower belt worked to deliver the food down to the bagging area. They got a thrill out of turning on and off the belts, naturally.


Jack got a turn in, scanning the orange juice from the Dairy. He could've used a stool!


Sophia was the lucky girl who got to scan the Butt Roast. Butt Roast. Hehehehehe. That still amuses me. I've worked in lots of groceries along the way, and finding "butt" for sale was always funny to me. It still is. Butt.


That was the end of our tour, but wait! There's more! David went behind the Guest Services counter and got them each a nice drawstring gift bag with activity books, pencils, and a toothbrush in each one. 


David looking on as Sophia checks out the contents of her goody bag


One of the kids - Jack, I think - turned around then and asked what the helium tanks were. Of course, that led to an offer for a balloon for each of them. Sucker! They even got to be picky about what colors they received. I should've taught David one of my favorite go-to Mommy/Daisy Leader phrases: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!" Works every time.



And now that was really the end of our Bloom field trip. What a great experience - for free, no less! I totally recommend checking it out, or anything else on Field Trip Factory. It's an awesome resource for parents, homeschooling or not, and educators in the public realm.

Stay tuned, I've got more to come. ;)


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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

So, despite the fact that:

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

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

- last year's housefly problem has returned,

- pigeons have invaded our attic, and

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

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


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

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


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

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

Love those girls, MWAH!

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

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

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

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

The problem?

My blood pressure is too low.

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

The solution?

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

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


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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend, y'all!


Who You Callin' A Cracker?

I'm in a Picasa collage frame of mind, lately. If you couldn't tell.

So I started this homemade cracker recipe on Monday night, around 0200, when I had expected to stay up all night. For various reasons.

I got out all my ingredients, mixed them properly in my lovely red KitchenAid mixer, and then... I started to go blind. Or, I thought I was going blind. My head was all pinched-in feeling, and my eyes couldn't focus right. There was no way those crackers were getting made, not then.

I thought for a minute about waking Rob up, and then I thought it was a horrible oncoming migraine.

And then, wait a minute! I know this feeling!

Yup. Sure enough.

I went to the cabinet where we keep all our meds, and looked in the spot where I reach for the same four bottles every night: Effexor, Abilify, Iron, Vitamin D. But the D was missing, and in its place? My Trazadone! My sleeping pill!

Sigh. Nope, those crackers weren't getting made right then. I quickly threw the mixer bowl full of ingredients into the fridge, stumbled heavily across the downstairs, and crashed on the the couch.


I didn't wake up for a very. long. time.

You see, before my surgery, I used to take a whole pill, and sometimes even two, to knock myself out at night. But now? I rarely take one (not that I don't need it), because it hits me SO hard. And when I do, I only take a half a pill, and sometimes only a quarter.

But I took a whole one, thinking it was my Vitamin D. D'oh! I blame Rob. It's at least 3% his fault, for moving the pill bottles around in search of his own. Right?


(He disagrees. Oh, that Rob, always refusing to take responsibility for my foolish mistakes. Some husband he is!)


After I roasted a marvelous 100% organic free-range chicken on Tuesday night for dinner, and Rob made the accompanying locally-picked green beans, plus organic mac & cheese for the kids, I decided to pull that mixer bowl out of the fridge, and continue with the crackers.

The pictures above are all Chloë's work. I ordered her suggested she photo-document the process. She eagerly complied. Didn't she do a great job?

And so did I:


That, there, is one satisfied customer, enjoying his homemade organic crackers topped with fresh, local, organic tomatoes and organic herbed cheese. (Yep, we're still doing the organic thing. Even though the world is going to end. Never mind. It's not. Carry on.)

He raved, at my prodding, about my creation. He said it was "the best snack I've had all night."

I almost forgive him for the Trazadone mix-up, after a compliment like that.


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Aw. ♥

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

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

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

Hey, I kinda like the idea.

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

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

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

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

Dog collar 1

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

Have a great weekend, y'all!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments 

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Don't blow me while I'm eating!

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


Gourmet Popping Corn


Jack is a HUGE popcorn aficionado. The boy simply cannot watch TV or a movie without begging for some. A long time ago - regular readers may remember - Stephanie taught me how to make "real" non-microwaved popcorn, in a pot over the stove. I promptly forgot how to do it, though. At my last shopping trip to the organic mart, I picked up a couple bags of organic kernels, since of course that's the only type they have. Fine by me. Waaay cheaper this way! We finally ran out of my stockpile of the microwave stuff over the weekend, so I had to check wiki-how, or something, for directions. They told me to use a pan. I used a pan. I should have stuck with Stephanie's instructions to use a big pot!


All went swimmingly at first. Silence, then one by one, the kernels started pop-pop-popping underneath the lid.


Soon, though I was holding it down, the popcorn was exploding out from under the lid and flying all over the kitchen! It was bouncing off the ceiling, off the walls, off the fridge, off the counters, and landing every-damn-where!! Jack ran in and was in hysterics, laughing and shrieking for the dog to come in and eat it off the floor! It was pretty freaking hilarious. I only had one big bowl ready but really needed two, so somehow with all that going on, I had to dig around for another one!

Jack wanted his plain, and Sophia wanted hers buttered and salted, so I melted some butter that the dairy delivered last week with our milk and lightly salted hers. Delicious! When Chloë came home, she finished it all and declared it positively yummy. Yup, we'll stick with this method, though Mommy has learned a few tricks!


In other news, when we haven't been driving Chloë to camp, rushing Rob to the ER, or spending entire days trying not to get sunburned at the pool, I've been working morning, noon and night on the new blog, Fishing and Wishing. Have you checked it out yet? We have some really cool giveaways right now, including:

Twig Ring 1

this silver "twig" ring, and

Picking Flowers Girl

these funky dolls... so go check it out, enter to win some fun stuff, and stay tuned! I have LOTS more coming up, and I don't want you to miss it!



I'm No Smitten Kitchen

Ever since I read about this red potato and blue cheese tart on Smitten Kitchen a week or so ago, I have had those drool-worthy pictures on the brain.

(And, holy cow, she has 106 THOUSAND subscribers on Google Reader. What?! This blog has 13; Fishing and Wishing has 45. Ha!)

It just so happened that a day or two prior to reading that post, I had done my bi-monthly grocery shopping at the organic shop, and I had picked up a bunch of very similar baby red potatoes and a puck of goat cheese. Not blue cheese, but afer reading Smitten Kitchen's post, the potato-and-goat cheese combo suddenly seemed very tantalizing to me. I could NOT stop thinking about it. Day and night.

I didn't want a crust, though. Too many carbs for me. (But duh, hello, we're talking about potatoes. Sometimes I don't think straight.)

Finally, the other day, I had to go straight home and make up my own potato-cheese concoction. I call it The Potato Thing I Made.


Here are my potatoes, still in the canvas sack I put them in, straight out of the bin at the organic shop. I love that they are all dirty, straight from the ground and into the market.


Wee red potatoes, freshly scrubbed. They enjoyed their bath.


Sometimes, it's all about presentation. Clearly, this was not one of those times. It might have been, but I happened to be on the phone with my sister the entire time I was making this. I managed not to cut my fingers off while slicing up the potatoes, which is miraculous, considering how sharp Rob keeps his Wusthof knives. Anyway, I put some olive oil in the pan, threw in the potaties, and smeared the goat cheese all over them. I found a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes (mmm, love) in the pantry, so I decided I wanted that flavor in there, too. Then, I meant to grab the salt and pepper shakers for some flavah, but I accidentally grabbed the cinnamon sugar instead! So there is a teeny bit of that in there. Hee. To make up for it, I added a teensy bit of cayenne pepper and called it good. It was pretty random.


I also had some organic vidalia onions from the shop, and I looove sautéed onions - especially vidalia - so I thought those would be good with The Potato Thing I Made, too. Only, the kids don't like onions at all, so I just kept these for Rob and I to throw on top of it later.

You see, at that point, I was still hoping they would LIKE The Potato Thing I Made. I can be so foolish at times.


Ooopsy! I chatted with my sister for a LONG time and burnt The Potato Thing I Made. I failed to set a timer or keep track of the time while we talked, so this is how it turned out. Looks totally delicious, right?! Ha.

But it was not a total fail. I thought it was just okay; it didn't taste the way I wanted it to, and I thought there should be less potatoishness and more cheesiness. The kids all hated it and had cereal instead. Rob, however, ate about nine helpings of it. He liked it, he really liked it!

I probably won't make it again. And if I do, I'll get off the phone. Promise.


On The Wrong Side Of The Food System

Whew.  It has been a busy coupla days. Let's recap:


Couldn't sleep, wasn't tired, so I stayed up all night. I was productive, though: I did the bills, worked the budget, started a new PR blog on Blogger (more details about that to come in the next couple of days) and crocheted. I'm nearly finished with that blanket. When I am, I'll show ya. It'll be tomorrow.

Chloë is still in school this week, so she was bummed later when she found out that the rest of us - Daddy included - went to the zoo without her. Like, in tears, bummed. We kept having to reassure her that now that we're zoo members, we can go whenever we want - and we WILL.


The original plan was to get there at 1100 for the zoo's weekly story time, but when we arrived at a quarter 'til, we saw that it was also elephant-feeding time at 1100. Which would they rather do? "Elephants!!" came the enthusiastic reply. When we arrived back in "Africa" to see the heffalumps, we first caught sight of two of the ol' girls getting baths. The kids were fascinated. Even more so when I informed them that at Jack's age or so, I had actually ridden an elephant. Twice. They were astounded by that. Have you?


I am OBSESSED with Sophia's tush. I mean, it's just plain awesome. I could look at that juicy thang all day long. It's not creepy, right? I mean, I'm her MOM. I'm supposed to love every inch of her! (And you gotta admit, it's a pretty great butt, as butts go.)


After milling about for a few minutes, a zoo volunteer came out and told us where the elephant feeding would take place. We strode en masse to the bottom of a long and windy ramp and claimed our places for ideal viewing. A man with a big bucket full of fruits and veggies was down there, waiting for us. He tweeted four long tweets on his whistle, a signal for the ellies to come lumbering over. Only this one, a 36yo female (they're all females at our zoo), decided to dine. She wasn't thrilled about having to swim for her supper, though!


I love this one, when she was flaring her ears and digging around in the water for a wayward orange. She ate it, peel and all. Well, you didn't expect an elephant to peel an orange, did you?

Just like with the baths, the kids were completely engrossed in the proceedings.


Even the little guy, even though no wheeled objects were involved, even though he was hot and hungry. When the feeding session was over, they ran around the area while Rob and I asked a bajillion questions of the volunteer. She was too happy to answer them as much as she could. I'd love to do that, if I had the time...


We stopped off at the giraffe habitat for a little while, before heading to have some lunch in Africa's restaurant. There are three adults and a wee baby, there in the back. I wish I could have attended that birth!


We decided to get a pizza. Non-organic, of course, but the kids were hungry and not at all interested in the box of organic Fruit-e-O's that I'd smuggled in.  When we got into the dining room, though, Sophia spied the container of pickles on the condiment bar and decided that's what she wanted to have. She ate two platefuls! That girl is a pickle nut.


After lunch, the kids were pretty much through with animals for the day and just wanted to go play in the sprinklers. I gave Rob the camera to take pics, while I went hunting around in the nearby gift shop for a couple more Bunco prizes. I found exactly what I was looking for there, plus a few little goodies for the kids. Goodness knows they don't need them, but you know. I like to spoil a little.


Jack's favorite thing to do is sit on top of the spouts and let the water shoot up his bathing suit!


When I finished my shopping, I shucked off my jumper and joined the kids in the sprinkler! Rob didn't have his suit, or he'd have gone, too. I would have gone in my everyday clothes. Who cares? If it's hot, and there's a fun way to cool off, I'm in - suit or not! As it is, I had to go in there in my workout clothes, since I don't have a suit right now. 'Twas brillig!


This guy was just wandering around, so I followed him. He didn't like that. He sped up. I sped up. He turned left. I turned left. Wasn't his favorite thing. He squawked at me.


When he was through with the slow-speed chase, he leapt on top of the chairs and was out of sight in a flash. Pretty guy, though, right? I bet he's sired a slew of peababies.


Jack asked a jillion times if we could go on the zoo train, but since it wasn't free, I decided that we should wait until Chloë could join us if we were going to do that. When she was crying about us going to the zoo without her, later, learning that is what dried up her salty tears. 


I was also going to wait until the whole family was together to show them what I picked up for them in the gift shop, but, you know, I can never, ever wait to give a present. Never! So after about 20 minutes, I gave up trying and called everyone 'round. I gave Sophia an ostrich, which she didn't recognize as an ostrich, so we'll have to look at those more the next time we go to the zoo. (There were two in the giraffe habitat, but she must've missed them.) She's a bird girl, though, so she loved it just the same.

 For Jack, of course, I bought wheeled items: this time, two safari jeeps that he just loved. His mind was already jumping to the next zoo visit: "Did they have other animals besides zebras and giraffes? What else did they have? Can I have one of those next time?" Never satisfied, that kid!

I gave Chloë a little jungle-themed art kit and a zipper pull with her name on it, and Rob got a zoo sticker for his truck. Or the motorcycle; I'm not sure which. I gave myself a zoo magnet for Vanna. You'll just have to wait and see what the Bunco prizes are...


Later, while Chloë was at Ballet, the rest of us did some heavy-duty shopping in the garden and lumber sections of the nearby Home Depot. I budgeted $5-600 for the backyard garden project, and we spent every penny of that and a little bit more. Well, almost. We would have, but then the nice lady handling our order (because we couldn't fit it all in the van, and Rob had to go back for the rest of our bags of dirt. Dirtbags? Hee) asked if we were military and gave us a hefty discount for that. I usually ask for a milly discount everywhere we go, but I didn't think to ask at the Depot. So, yay, we came in under - except that we only got about half the dirt that we needed for our two raised beds. Guess we'll have to go back after those are built. Here's Rob getting the cedar planks off the roof of Vanna. 


We got lots of good stuff! A compost mixer, in the box on the bottom there, is causing me serious excitement. I can't wait to start filling 'er up! Lots of organic soil, and some organic topsoil, more cedar, some organic compost starter... and a few tomato cages. Hopefully Rob can start building the beds this weekend with the kids, for a Father's Day activity. Do you think that's what he had in mind??

As soon as we came home from that shopping trip, I crashed on the couch until my school alarm went off the following morning.



I was still tired. I slept a great deal. Sophia and Jack played down in the living room together, mostly very nicely, while I snoozed on and off. I weighed in: 155.9 lbs. I'm down over 185 lbs and looking forward to losing those last 5 lbs before I hit my doctor's goal. Maybe I can hit it before I see him again next month, which would be swell. Just swell.

After Chloë came in, I showered and got the Littles ready to go with me to take her to Jazz. And then I had a brainstorm: since it was Wednesday, parking for locals down at the beach would only be a buck. Why don't we go? Yes, let's go. I sent them to wake up their dad, who was game, and we all worked ourselves into a tizzy getting ready in the negative-five minutes we had before leaving to take Chlo to dance.

The kids were absolutely ravenous, and again, they had no interest in the Fruit-e-O's I'd brought along. So Rob and I briefly talked it over, and we decided to use some of the huge McDonald's gift card I'd gotten for the House Party, to feed them. It was a struggle; McD's is SO not what we want to be feeding them anymore, but the guilt burden was lifted slightly in knowing that it wasn't our money supporting the fast food industry. So we went back home to get the card, and then stopped for some victuals at the burger joint around the corner.

I only got a Coca Dieta, but everyone else had food and drink. Chicken nuggets for the kids, fries, and a free apple juice box. Holy cow, they devoured their food. They are not as completely sold on this organic thing as we are! It will take some time. Rob got a crispy chicken sandwich, but you know what? He really didn't care for it. It just didn't taste as good to him as he remembered. The organic food just tastes so much better, so much more... real. He's done. The fries, on the other hand, OMG. SO good. I had some. A bunch, actually. I think they were better than I remembered. Yum.  But still, not good enough for us to give up "the lifestyle," so after tomorrow, that will (hopefully) be our last time eating McDonald's in this lifetime!

 Look, Sophia's teeth grew back in!!  Doesn't she look great?!! Ha. As soon as we arrived down at the oceanfront after Jazz, we walked to the beach, which was being closed by the lifeguards and police. An electrical system had moved in; we couldn't swim. Or be on the sand. We started to look at the family bicycles instead, but then decided that wouldn't be safe either.  So, we decided to go find somewhere to sit and have a drink. Instead, we were walking on Atlantic Ave when the deluge hit, and we ran into the nearest store, a discount beach tienda.

I had forgotten that I'd already picked up my last two Bunco prizes, so I shopped around and picked up two more. Oops. Well, now I'm finished, and if there are extras, more for me! I told each of the kids they could pick a souvie under $2, and these hillbilly teeth were Sophie's choice. Nice, huh? Funny, though. Over margaritas and chips at Guadalajara's, we all passed them around:


Hillbilly Bob


Hillbilly Mel (taken by Sophia)


Hillbilly Chlo


Jack, the spoil-sport, decided not to participate. Instead, he gazed lovingly at his new little cement mixer.


Curls picked herself up a pack of Silly Bands (emphasis on "silly") to share and trade with her friends at school tomorrow, the penultimate day. She gave me one; I'm wearing it now. So far as we could tell, it's an ostrich. Another ostrich! No telling whether this one's a girl or a boy, though. ;)


And I got a nose ring or two. My hole's been empty (on my nose, pervs!) since, like, October, so it was time to fill it. Can you see the little blue stone?


And, Rob picked me out a toe ring. Well, at my request. I have ugly feet, I know. I've been told a time or two. (Also, time for a pedicure, eh, Melanie?)


Our gigantical margaritas were SO good! I had to ask Rob, though: what's the point of salting the rim if you're using a straw, hmmm? 


When it finally stopped raining, we tried to go down to the now-reopened beach again, but a policeman said it was still unsafe and he wouldn't do it. The kids were disappointed, and one or two of them cried, but we reminded them that we live here and can come back anytime we want. So they found a nearby fountain and begged pennies off me for wishing, instead. Rob and I made wishes, too. Aren't wishes the best?


On our walk back to the car, the kids found several puddles left by the storm. Never mind that they were full of mud; that's half the fun, isn't it? And so they jumped, and jumped some more.


When Sophia found another puddle and was there by herself, I told her to jump after I counted to three. Here's the result. Girl can jump, huh??


When we finally arrived home, there was a big ol' box from Drugstore.com waiting on the front porch. Woot! I just ordered it two days ago, so I was thrilled. We were completely out of TP (how did I let that happen?), so I found a BOGO deal for Seventh Generation and bought that. To get to $25 - the level needed for free shipping - I did a search for "organic" and found these snacks by Newman's Own on sale, too. Oh, and the organic multi-vitamins for the kids, too, which is good, since they cost about 4x as much at the organic shop where we get our food. The kids LOVE taking their multis...


Yeah. Rob took that pic. He said Iooked hot like that... maybe from another angel!! Haha.

Time to go get some zzzzzs, as Thursday is another busy day.


Kids In The Kitchen


This picture has nothing to do with the kids, but I had it stored up to share with you, so here it is. Rob's been making some beautiful organic omelets for himself when he comes home from work in the morning. Sometimes I like to have food ready, hot and waiting for him when he arrives, but most of the time he comes when I'm still down at the bus stop with the girls, so it doesn't work out. And I am omelet-impaired, so if that's what he wants, then he's on his own. The eggs are fresh from Polyface Farms, which we picked up at our organic shop at the Farmer's Market, along with the green onions, mushrooms and cheese that he's been using. The chicken is not organic; it was from our deep freezer. We've yet to try organic chicken, but once our freezer is empty, we will also get Polyface chicken. (Polyface and its owner, Joel Salatin, were featured on Food, Inc.; I'm excited to meet him next weekend at the homeschoolers' convention in Richmond!!)

Anyway, the kids have been working with me in the kitchen lately, so I thought I'd share about that.


The dishes are Rob's job. On the very rare occasion, I will do them, but usually, they are left for him. (He hasn't cleaned a toilet in I don't know how long, so don't feel too badly for him.) The kids sometimes help him, so they can earn Dad Dollars, our family currency. On this day, maybe Monday of this week, Chloë and Jack decided to do the dishes all by themselves. And for a while, they did. Then Jack accidentally cut himself on a sharp knife (those Wusthof knives are out to get us, I swear!), and he was out of the game. I put a complete stop to it when I realized Chloë was running the water continuously and putting soap on each individual item, rather than having a sink full of soap and water. Whoops! Looks like they'll need more lessons before they're left to do it on their own again, but it was a good first try.


Tuesday night, Jack decided he was going to make bacon and eggs for dinner. We figured we needed 8 eggs for the family, excluding me, so he cracked them all and put the shells out in our make-shift compost pile behind the bushes out front. (Rob hates that, so we really need to move it out back when we get our garden going.) We added a little milk and a bit of baking soda, which I read would make the scrambled eggs fluffier. I think his favorite part of making scrambled eggs is jabbing at the firm yolks with his fork, to make them 'leak.'


The bacon is organic but not from Polyface; I don't feel like going into the kitchen right now to see from what farm it comes, though. I picked up regular piggy bacon and some turkey bacon this time; last time, I just got the pig. I thought I had taken out the turkey bacon for Jack to cook, and so I ate some. Man, it was really good! Turns out it was the pig, which I haven't eaten since 1995. Um, whoops. Sorry, pig. 


The kids are not really that great at stirring yet; who knew it was such an art? I repeatedly show them how to stir effectively, but we have to keep practicing. Jack is over-cautious, because he knows Mommy gets cranky if we spill. (It's just one of my peeves.) So I have to show him how to be a little braver, go a little deeper, be more forceful with it.

In the end, the eggs, which looked divine at first, were ruined by my fault. I put them on too early, and the bacon wasn't ready yet, so I set the stove to "low" to keep the eggs warm. Rob kept cautioning me that they were going to overcook, but I insisted, nah, I'm just keeping them warm. In the end, they were way overcooked, turned green, and the kids would not eat them. I left to go to a Girl Scout Leaders meeting, but I'm told that the dog would not eat them, either. The Polyface eggs cost more than $5 a dozen (I KNOW!!), and we used 8 of them, so it was a painful lesson for me, who absolutely abhors waste of any kind. And it's no fun when Rob is right, either!

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Wednesday was milk delivery day from South Mountain Creamery - yay! We JUST ran out of last week's milk last night, so it was perfect timing. Unfortunately, there were some problems, so we're not as happy this week as we were last week. For starters, the guy didn't come until after 1800, which is pretty late if you ask me, so we were without milk all day. I'd prefer it to come at oh-dark-thirty, when the ice in the cooler is still, well, present, and so there's milk for the kids' morning cereal. Anyway, when he finally arrived, he delivered in such a hurry, that he left without giving us our chocolate milk (gasp!) or the second of two raisin apple cream cheese tubs (bigger gasp! that stuff is the BOMB). I realized about the chocolate milk and was able to flag him down for it, but I didn't notice about the cream cheese until he was long-gone, and I had no way to get ahold of him. Their office hours end at 1600, and they only come down this way from Maryland once a week, so I guess we're SOL on that score. And finally, everything was WARM! Which is not cool. Heh, pardon the pun.

Everything was really great last week, though, so if they call me tomorrow about the message I left, and make it right somehow, I'm more than willing to give the delivery another go. Maybe they'll waive the delivery fee for this week or something; that would work for me...

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Wednesday night after the girls' dance classes, Chloë reminded me that it was her night to cook dinner. We decided on shrimp stir-fry over pasta, and by "we," I mean "I." We had bought the shrimp from Uncle Chuck at the Farmer's Market last week and kept them in the freezer, so I was pretty happy that these prawns thawed out in no more than five minutes of soaking in water. Chloë helped me peel the shrimp, although it took her more time to do one than it took me to do five. No matter; she kept plugging along until the job was done. Sophia wanted to try, too, but she picked up one critter and promptly threw it back in the bowl when one of the legs touched her!


For our stir-fry, we had the shrimp, along with some organic carrots, green onions and garlic. All from the Farmer's Market. Cooking with this food is so fun - and tasty! I chopped up the onions and carrots, of course; no sense letting Chloë lose a finger over it. I had had some Sugar Snap Peas from Schwan's from a long time ago, but when I pulled them out of the freezer to add to the wok, I saw they were badly freezer-burnt. Tsk, tsk, more waste. 

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This is the pasta we used, necessary because I new Jack and Sophia would not eat the shrimp. Also from the organic shop, it's made by bionaturæ and is darn good! I only added salt and some organic EVOO to the water, but Jack insisted that the spaghetti was buttery. It was, too, but I didn't add any!

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Chloë was tending to the pasta until some bubbled and splashed her (she's okay), so then she moved over to the wok side of things. She stir-stir-stirred and got mighty frustrated that nothing was happening, until I realized that I had turned on the wrong burner! Whoops! I do that ALL the time, too; you'd think I'd learn which knob is which! She did a great job, though, and when Rob thanked me for making dinner, she was rightfully insulted that she wasn't thanked, too!

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The finished product. It looks good, right? Not quite as garlicky as I would have liked, but Chloë wouldn't have liked it too much, then. She and Rob ate this, the Littles just ate the pasta, and I just ate the shrimp stir-fry. I really enjoyed it, but it didn't sit right in Oscar (my pouch), and so I didn't keep it down, unfortunately. Those shrimp were huge, too! Uncle Chuck didn't have the size I wanted in stock, so I had to buy the bigger size, and oh, man, talk about yum!

Curls and I made a LOT of extra food, so I packaged up the leftovers for Rob to take to work, because that skinny man has a perpetual appetite. He said he wouldn't be able to eat it all tonight, but I wouldn't be surprised if that bowl came back empty in the morning... 

So that's how our June is going so far. Tomorrow is Sophia's turn to cook, IF I can fit it in with all the running around I have to do. When/if she cooks, pizza is on the menu again - this time with real mozzarella from South Mountain Creamery. None of us can wait to try it!





Farmer's Market Day

So Saturday was pretty awesome.

Rob had to work, so I was expecting him to be gone all day. The kids woke me up around, oh, 10 AM, maybe? We had breakfast, and then we were relaxing for a little while before I planned to get started on laundry while they "cleaned" their rooms. But lo and behold, in walked Rob around 1030, finished for the day. Yay!


His annual uniform allowance came in last night, so he had to go back to base to buy all his uniform stuff. It sucks because he has a seabag inspection coming up, but never in the next three years will he use half the things he's required to have in his seabag. We could have used that money for other stuff, if it weren't for the inspection. He does plan to return a lot of the stuff afterward, though, so that might help.

And he surprised me by taking ALL three of the kids with him to base for his shopping trip, without complaining. He must have been in a jolly good mood for getting off earlier than planned, I suppose. Yay for me! I puttered, showered without having to scream around the shower curtain 30 bazillion times, "KNOCK IT OFF!!", and worked on laundry while they were gone. Just the quietude was pure luxury.


When they finally arrived home, some three hours later, we were off to the Farmer's Market to do our grocery shopping. What a fun trip, compared to the grocery store. Unfortunately there's no long receipt, at the end of which is a statement of mega coupon savings, but the knowledge that we're eating fresh, local and organic more than makes up for it. Our first stop was to see Uncle Chuck, the fishmonger. He is one cool dude; on that, Rob and I wholly agree. I try not to go on a weekend day, but that's when payday hit, so that's when we went - and he was insanely busy! We pulled his "menu" - a sheet with all his offerings and prices - outside to look over, and keep the kids out of his small shack, until there was a lull in business. When it was our turn, Sophia wanted to know what everything was, touch it, see it, smell it - and Uncle Chuck was entirely patient with her. Here he is showing her some large shrimp that the previous customer was coming back for after finishing their shopping.


I asked him if I could take pictures, and he was like, "Uh, sure, why?" I said, "Um, for my blog!" and he was all, "Oh. Okay, whatever!" and pulled all the kids in for a photo op. Very cool dude, right??


From his shack, we bought a package of crab cakes (note to Stephanie: If you didnt get my text, I asked Uncle Chuck about his preparation, and he'll be happy to custom-make them for you without the offending ingredients, so shoot me an email!), a huge bag of large shrimp, a gigantic haddock fillet, a couple dozen littleneck clams for Rob, and some ocean scallops for moi. Fortunately, we'd brought our coolers along, so there was no worry about leaving them in the car while we continued our shopping.  


I didn't get to take a picture of Michele or her lovely daughter, Erika, from Virginia Garden - the organic food mart at the Farmer's Market, but maybe next time. I think there are pictures of them somewhere on her site, if you care.  I knew I was going to way-overspend our grocery budget there, and I did, but I was able to get a LOT of stuff and use the 10% off coupon from their website this time. While I shopped, Rob took the kids out back to run around the field, and I think that was a big relief to Michele! I know it was for me... I had apologized to Uncle Chuck for my kids, and he was effusively nonplussed, if there can be such a thing, hugging me and telling me not to worry, "it's the only way kids learn how to behave!" He's right, of course, but I always feel like they are overwhelming for other people.


After we arrived home and brought everything in, I was left to sort it all out while Rob took Jack back to the base again, for a much-needed haircut. He was getting quite shaggy, and since I trimmed his bangs the other day, he looked like a major dork. Anyway, you'll see that later. Here's our beautiful bowl of some of the organic produce I bought: avocados, oranges, pears, kiwi, tomatoes, lemons... mmm. Rob remarked that if we had the money, he could eat that entire bowl of fruit every single day of his life. It did look quite good, but when he says stuff like that, I always feel bad that we can never quite satisfy his voracious appetite!


Sophia, who hadn't gotten to try a kiwi the other day when we stopped by Virginia Garden, opted to sample one now. Here's her first reaction. What do you think, does she like it?


I don't think so!! I think it was a bit more tart and tangy than she was expecting. Of course, it didn't help that she first bit right into it, peel and all!


But she soldiered on, and bravely went back for another piece.


I think now that she knew what to expect, the kiwi was much more Squish-friendly. Oh, "Squish" is my new nickname for her. I'm not sure she likes it; it might not stick.


In the end, she was quick to hand over more than half of her remaining kiwi to Chloë, who positively loves it, and steal some sips from my organic root beer, which I needn't really be drinking anyway.


Curls was happy to oblige. I think she would have eaten another five kiwi if I'd have let her!

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The boys came home shortly thereafter, and Jack insisted on having a kiwi, too. See how he has the whole handful of it, rather than leaving it on his plate? He always eats like that. Maybe he's afraid someone (like Soapy) is going to come along and swipe his food? It's a definite possibility, anyway...

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The kids went out to play in the leftover ice from the coolers, while I continued putting away food and tried to get some sort of dinner together. I tried snapping a picture of them splashing around inside the cooler, but they stopped as soon as I held up my camera. Rascals!

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I didn't really have a well-thought-out plan for dinner, so I kind of just put things on as I thought of them. Of course, there were Rob's littlenecks, which can't be frozen without losing their texture, so they had to be eaten right away. And since he's left his grill at work for at least three months now, if not way more (!!!), I had to cook them in the house. I just put a little water and a smidge of butter in a frying pan and heated them up until they popped. This always fascinates the kids and, I admit, I like it, too.

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While they cooked, I threw together a nice, organic salad. Curls insisted I photograph this beautiful tomato. She simply adores tomatoes, along with her father and, to a lesser extent, Squishy Soapy Sophia.

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Pop! The clams were ready. I called The Bob inside, from where he was tinkering on his truck and motorcycle. The man could tinker out there 'til the cows came home, I swear.

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Yup. It's a salad. I don't eat 'shrooms or tomatoes, so I nibbled a little at the lettuce (which was a bit bitter) and carrots (which were delightful). This salad was purely for Rob and Chloë. They had requested I add some sunflower seeds, but I forgot. Sorry, guys.

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Chloë surprised us by deciding to try one of her daddy's clams. Her reaction was hysterical!

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Hee hee hee. It's okay, Honey. I don't like 'em, either!

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Jack refused to touch any salad, but Sophia asked for some! She didn't like the lettuce so much, and I can't say I blame her. It really had a weird taste. She managed just fine on everything else, though.

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After that, I was in a mood to whip up some OG (organic) hummus. I'd picked up OG chickpeas, olive oil, lemons and garlic at the market, and I already had the tahini. The kids wanted to know why I was putting peanut butter in the hummus, even though they've seen me make it tons of times before. Then they all wanted to help crush the garlic. None was strong enough to do it alone, though!

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Rob - who is more muscular than this picture implies - had to step in and help. Jack was fussing about that, but he wasn't getting anywhere on his own!

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Chloë gave it the ol' college try, but she, too, needed assistance.

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The kids all wanted to use the hand-mixer to blend the hummus, but I did it myself this time. I don't know why; I guess I just wanted to hurry up and eat it! It was WAY too strong on garlic, since I'd let them all try to crush it in and put double the amount I normally would have, so I had to add another half a lemon's worth of juice. Ahh, that's better. 

Then we broke out the OG cheese and OG crackers, and I insisted the kids try some hummus before letting them have some without. None of them was impressed with it. Fine, more for me!

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We had devoured so much cheese, crackers & hummus, that no one wanted any of the chicken I made, by the time it came out of the oven. Rats and damn. I wanted it, but Oscar the Pouch can only hold so much, and I didn't want to barf. Again. So, we'll have it tomorrow, I shippose.

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I'd completely run out of flour during the past week of marathon bread-making, so I was glad to buy some OG bread flour today. Unfortunately, it needs to be refrigerated so it doesn't go (get?) rancid, so that's taking up too much space in the fridge right now, but it's worth it to have such fresh, wholesome bread. Chloë had requested some more sunflower seed bread, so that went into the baker first, with some OG honey and hemp hearts. I REALLY want to have some, but after way over-doing it on bread this past week, I'm abstaining. God, I love fresh bread, though. It's hard. I don't have very strong willpower, either, but the desire to see that scale move back down is going to have to be stronger.

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After our non-dinner, Jack insisted we watch a family movie, so we all settled down in the living room to wath Fly Me to the Moon on Netflix streaming. Chloë and I had seen it before at the theater, but she totally didn't remember it. It's cute, but I fell asleep about halfway through and didn't wake up 'til after midnight. Of course, everyone else was upstairs and sleeping by then, and now here I am, alone and wide awake. Kind of sucks; I was hoping to sleep through the night. Ah well, what else is new?

Oh yeah, the picture. The sunflower seed bread was done when I woke up, so I pulled that out and started another loaf. This time, banana bread. I normally make that in the mixer and throw it in the oven, but I saw that my new bread machine has a quickbread setting (and maybe they all do, who knows? Not I), so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I did beat up the bananas and eggs in my trusty KitchenAid first, though. Love that beast!

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I had picked up a couple packages of Spiru-tein protein shake mixes at Virginia Garden, since they weren't all that expensive and hey, I need the protein. Oh, my. Do not buy this, ever. WORST protein shake I've ever had, which is saying a lot! Maybe I made it wrong, since it said to add all sorts of honey and fresh fruit and stuff, but it is just nasty. I've managed to choke down about 4/5 of this, and I just don't think I can handle any more. Even after adding a kiwi and six packages of Splenda, it is The Nast. Blech. Ich. Yuck. PUKE.

So that's it for Saturday. I can't wait to see what Sunday brings!



Monday Steals And Deals

We haven't done this in a while, but I spent some quality time Sunday with my coupons and deal blogs, and more time going over the deals this morning, so I thought I'd actually go out and see what I could get. I won't be doing as much couponing for now, for two main reasons: (1) We have a pretty good stockpile of food, toiletries and cleaning supplies now, so my stock-up price for these items is now quite low, and (2) We're trying to eat 100% fresh, local and organic, so the opportunties will be more rare. That being said, when there are great deals to be had (ie, I can get stuff for free or they are a moneymaker), I will still buy items that I can then turn around and donate to our church's food pantry. So here we go, in order of my shopping with Jack today:

Harris Teeter


For this shopping trip, I was late in the week, so I missed out on a LOT of out-of-stock freebies. There's still one more day in the sale, tomorrow, so I may try again. We'll see. For this trip, I was able to get two frozen pizzas (Mystic), a box of Puffs Plus Lotion tissues, a bag of Temptations cat treats, two Hershey's Extra Dark chocolate bars, a can of Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys cat food, a jar of Classico marinara sauce, and two bottles of Resolve Spray & Wash, for which the store was going to have to pay ME 44¢!!  I knew I was doing well, but I didn't think I was doing that well!  They couldn't pay me, of course, so I was forced to buy something cheap to put me back on the "owing" side of things. I snagged a bag of M&Ms, which I gave to Jack for a snack. Hardly organic, fresh or local, but I didn't want to hold up the line by running to the produce section for an apple or something. Next time, I'll come prepared with my 'filler' item!

I was going to donate the pizzas and the sauce to the food pantry, but Rob ate one of the pizzas tonight, so now I don't know. At least the sauce, though...

Next up:



At Target, I was able to get all of the above for free + overage, except for the wipes. For those, I was able to stack a 50¢ MQ with a $1 SQ to bring down the price considerably. Remember, for you newer couponers, to look at the travel-size bins when your coupons don't exclude those items!  You can get LOTS of freebies there, and it's a great way to try out new products or, of course, stock your travel bag.

You might be surprised to see the paper towels there, but like I've said before, my husband relies on them heavily. I hate to use disposables, so I avoid them like the plague, but I haven't been able to convince him to do so just yet, and use towels and rags more. As for the Carefree, they'll go into the donation bag for the battered women's shelter, along with a package of diapers I got for free from Rite-Aid a while back, some of my grown-out clothes (and the kids'), and ... various and sundry other things I've been able to get for free or super cheap. It's a painless way to give.


My Target order wasn't very cheap, though, because I picked up some non-deal items including two packs of AA batteries and these dry-erase boards I found in the $1 section. I plan to make lots of use of dry-erase boards when we're home-schooling, and while these aren't exactly what I had in mind, for a buck they'll be good to take along in the car or something less "schooly."


I also bought this huge cooler, since we are now signed up for a dairy delivery service through South Mountain Creamery, the semi-local dairy farm in Maryland that has a shop set up at our Farmer's Market. It's a little alarming how much the milk alone is going to cost, the way my kids chugged down the one bottle I bought at the FM, but maybe after they get used to the exceeding deliciousness of this fresh milk, they won't be so glug-gluggy about it? Anyway, our delivery day will be on Wednesdays, anytime from 2 AM on, so I need to put a cooler full of ice out on the porch for the milk, butter, cheese, etc. that we'll be getting. I can't wait, I'm so excited. It's just so quaint!


We don't have a lot of room in our freezers to make ice for the milk cooler, so I picked up these packs for two bucks apiece. We'll need more than that, but this will have to do for this week. We can just pop them in the freezer on Tuesday and not take up all that room the rest of the week. And that's it for Target.


Whoops, it would appear that I forgot to take a picture of this trip! So I'll just tell ya, since it was a small one:

For just 69¢ + tax, I was able to get 2 small boxes of Wheat Thins ($2 regularly, for donating to the food pantry), 2 bottles of Gillette body wash for Rob (normally $5 apiece), and 2 packages of Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 dryer cloths ($4.69) each. After sale prices, coupons and ECBs, I paid just $1.37 for the lot, AND I came home with $8 in ECBs for nex time, so this trip was a big moneymaker!


The great part of taking Jack along on the shopping trips now is that it affords plenty of opportunity to talk more about eating organic foods. His self-appointed task today was to see where he could find the word "organic" and where, sadly, he coudn't (not on Oreos, pretzel sticks or potato chips).  He didn't understand why, at first, he couldn't eat the free cookies at the front of Harris Teeter, or why everything has to be organic, but when I pointed out all the delicious things in the store that WERE organic (and HT carries a lot of these products, yay), he perked up and looked excited to try them. This isn't going to be easy for everyone all of the time, but it's definitely worth it, IMHO. I just can't WAIT to get our garden started and wish we had the money to do it NOW!!

Thanks to Crystal at The Thrifty Mama, Tara at Deal Seeking Mom, and Collin at Hip 2 Save for helping me out with a lot of these great deals!


Merrily We Roll Along


On Thursday afternoon, I took Jack back to see Dr. A (whose name you can plainly see there on his uniform) to have his ears checked again. And yes, Doc is approximately 14 years old. I called him Doogie once or twice before, to his amusement.


Doc could still see bubbles of fluid in both of Jack's ears, which is why I'm surprised and happy to tell you that as of that very morning, Jack could hear clearly again! He didn't tell me this himself; I 'tested' him as I do/did every morning, and when I whispered his name from out of sight, he answered me! It was a joyous discovery. When I questioned him about his hearing, he seemed delighted to report that everything sounded normal again. Phew! And without a milligram of medication!


Jack didn't particularly like the exam... poor babe!


At that point, Jack commandeered my camera, so the next couple of shots are from him. 

This was probably the last time we will meet with Dr. A., because he and his family (wife and two kids) are moving to Italy. Such is life when you go to a military clinic: you get attached to your provider, develop a rapport over a year or three, and then either they or you move on to the next station, and you have to start all over again.

It's the second time since we've been here that I'm really sad to say good-bye to a great doctor. The first time was the doc we had when Jack was first born. Both were 'great' in that they took their time with the patients AND the parents, listened to what we had to say, and included our input in the treatment plans. Neither made me feel "lesser-than," because I don't happen to possess a medical degree. I appreciate that immensely.


I often make this face when one of the kids takes my picture. I don't know why; it's just a habit. And I hate having my picture taken from down below. My friend E taught me long ago that it's better to have your photo taken from slightly above; the result is more flattering. So when I don't like the angle, I make a face!

I look skinny though, huh?! Hee. This is Rob's Harley shirt that I'm wearing! And look, it's not supah-dupah tight, either! (My husband is a VERY thin man, so it's exciting to be able to wear his clothes!)


Jack is always curious about the things in the doctor's office, so it was no surprise when he pulled out the stirrups. After he lay down like this, I asked Doc to perform his Pap Smear. Doc snorted and says he avoids doing those at all costs!



Somewhere between the doctor visit and the following morning, my new camera got jacked up. Just the lens cover. Half of it won't open, and the other half won't shut! Awesome. I think I need to add a fund for repairing my old camera to the budget, somewhere, somehow. This new one is just a piece of crap; I hate it so.

Anyway, here's Jack eating a batch of scrambled eggs that HE made from start to finish, next to the plate of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (from another mix that he found in the stockpile bin) that HE mixed, and near to the bowl of being-prepared pie crust that HE helped to measure and mix. He was a very busy boy in the kitchen on Friday, and I do declare that cooking and baking are now one of his favorite things to do. I can tell he takes pride in the results, too!


Of course, he had to help roll out the pie crust. That's always the kids' favorite job to do, isn't it? I showed him how to carefully wrap the dough around the rollilng pin and lay it out in the pie pan, to avoid breaking it. He did a perfect job!


Then he fluted the ege of the crust, after I showed him how to do it. He did the whole rest of the crust without help.


He did a nice job, don't you think?

I showed him how to pierce the crust with a fork to keep it from bubbling up, and he had a good time with that. See how he concentrates? I love his devotion to doing the job right.


He insisted he wanted a cup of coffee after that! The boy does like coffee... so I slipped him the decaf and brewed him up a cup, with sugar and cream. He drank two sips and decided he didn't like it. I'd have drunk it, but I can't have sugar, so it went to waste. *le sigh*

After a while, it was time to get the girls off the bus. We had to rush Jack right out to Chesapeake for a Cub Scout friend's birthday party after that, at a popular bouncy house place. I'd lined up some errands to run so that the girls wouldn't have to sit there and watch him having fun, because I didn't have a spare $16 to let them play, too. Sophia was really disappointed, so I promised her I'd take her sometime this summer.

After dropping Jacky off, we stopped at the FedEx shop so I could ship a package. It didn't cost me anything; it was for a mystery shopping project I'd done the week before. Chloë waited in the car and read her book; Sophia came inside with me so she could use the potty. I've been pricing papers, just to know what things cost in case I need them for home-schooling, so I was surprised when they told me that theirs cost $10 a ream! Uh, no.

Then we stopped over at Babies 'R' Us, because I knew they carried the Snikiddy brand of snacks, for which I had three "Free Product" coupons. Snikiddy is all-natural but not organic; I decided that in this case, it was close enough for me. "Natural" doesn't really mean anything, so I did my research on the company and decided it was okay to consume. But while we were at BRU, I was thrilled to find a wonderful array of organic foods and drinks at reasonable prices. I'd love to buy all our organic goods at the shop at the Farmer's Market, but she's very expensive, so I'm having to find deals where I can. The emphasis is still going to be on buying local, though.

Our last stop was at the TAPS near BRU, to see if they had the Daisy Leader book. Our local store didn't have it, so I was chagrined to find they were out of it at this one, too. Tha hell?! How am I supposed to know what to do if I don't have a book? I NEED my book. We spent another few minutes looking around at all the cool stuff, but again, I didn't want to spend any money that I didn't have, so we bought nothing. My creative juices really get flowing in a store like that, though!

Unfortunately, all these errands only took an hour, so we still had to go back and sit for another hour at the birthday party site. They had some toys in the waiting area, so that kept the girls busy for 20 minutes while I was able to do some knitting. I spent a quarter on a bouncy ball for them to roll around to each other, when they tired of the toys and limited books available. After that, it was all go-go-go, because every time I looked away for a second, Sophia had shucked her shoes and was in one of the bouncy structures!! Illegally. Inwardly, I was laughing, but of course I couldn't show that I was amused by her antics, or she'd take that as acceptance. So I kept the stern look on my face as I dragged her out and back to the waiting room, hating all the while that I didn't have that spare $16.

One time, Jack had climbed halfway up the highest structure and would neither go up nor down, so all the boys came rushing over to get me. An older boy, the birthday kid's older brother, had tried to rescue him, but he wanted Mama only. I tore over there and shoved his butt up to the top, and then we slid down together. I completely understand his reluctance; I am the same way. When we slid down the steep slide, I got that sick feeling in my stomach that thrills some people (Sophia-types like my sister, Stacey) but which I don't enjoy at all.

And of course, when I returned, Sophia was nowhere to be found... until I looked in a corner of the big warehouse, where she was happily bouncing away with a new friend. She is such a stinker!


After the bouncy party was over, we went back to the Farmer's Market for some supplies for dinner. I had promised a celebratory dinner for Rob, for getting his motorcycle license, but we still hadn't done that yet. I found one restaurant in the area that was reported to be "organic," Crocs at the beach, but when I called them, it turned out they only had "some produce" that was actually organic - not their whole menu. Suck. (Attention, entrepreneurs! I see a niche needing to be filled...) Jack had wanted to make pizza, so we decided to make that for Daddy's dinner, instead.

The stop at the organic market was meant just for some organic sauce for the pizza(s), but the kids talked me into some fresh fruit, including Chloë and Jack's kiwis, above. I tried a slice; it was definitely the most delicious kiwi I'd ever tasted! I also got some organic bananas from Ecuador, which just smell amazing, for more smoothies. Or something, I don't know. Oh, and a package of goat cheese for one of the pizzas, since we don't particularly care for Organic Valley's mozzarella cheese. (It tastes very dry, like cheddar. Which is fine, if you're expecting cheddar, but not if you're expecting traditional mozz. I'll just have to learn to make my own!)


We also stopped at the Creamery I'd mentioned in a previous post, to get some ice cream and that fresh cream top milk. Anything to fatten up my skinnies!  The milk is already gone; it was SO good. The ice cream was excellent, too, but we really didn't care for the mint chips in that flavor, so we'll probably not buy that flavor again. The strawberry, though... mmmmmm! It all tasted so good, and since this working Maryland dairy farm is the apparently the closest such one to this area, they consider themselves to be "local." In fact, earlier this morning, I signed up for their weekly delivery service, for milk, cheese, and such. Not their eggs; though; I'll continue to get those from Polyface Farms at the organic store. 

(Have I mentioned Polyface? If not, look it up - it's Joel Salatin's family farm. He's the guy Rob and I love from Food, Inc., and he's going to be giving two talks at the Homeschool Convention in a couple of weeks. I'm going to meet him!!!!)


By the time we got home and got the kitchen cleaned up so I could start dinner, it was past 8 o'clock, and Jack had no interest in helping me make the pizza. So I made it myself: organic dough, sauce and goat cheese - doesn't it look SO good? And it was. Especially after I re-cooked it; the dough was raw when I first served it. Oops. Jack and Sophie didn't care for the goat cheese, so Chloë ate theirs. I adore goat cheese, though. Yum!


For dessert, I pulled out the pie Jack and I had made earlier in the day. It's got a mostly-organic crust, with the fresh-picked strawberries on top. The cream filling is made of organic eggs, yogurt, and cream cheese, plus sugar and a little bit of Cool Whip. I had a little taste, and it was SO yummy. I wish I could have dove in, but I'd really have made myself sick.


Our neighbors to the right came home when I ran out to the car for something, so I mentioned that Jack had made a special strawberry pie, and would they like to try it? Of course they would, so I served some up for thme and brought it over. I made her promise to tell me what she thought of it, even if it wasn't good, because I can't eat it and don't want to make it again if it's yucky!

In the mail yesterday, I'd gotten a new game for the Wii, "Just Dance," along with a cursive writing workbook for Chloë. I paid $1.33 for both, after using my Swagbucks money for the rest! The Wii game turned out to be SO much fun - and a great workout! The kids and I took turns doing dances, and I danced along behind them when it wasn't my turn. I was sweating up a storm and feeling great.


The kids' dancing was so funny! I'm sure mine was as well, but of course I have no pictures of that. And I wouldn't show you if I did!


Poor Jack. He has inherited his father's dance skill - or lack thereof - but he sure tried!


Rob sat there like a bump on a log the whole time, refusing to play with us. He wouldn't even dance once! Butthead. :P


No, she's not drinking a beer - it's an organic root beer! Delicious. (I am loving this organic stuff; can you tell?!) But look at her feet! This kid is so bendy and flexible. She amazes me! I think it will be a good fit when she tries gymnastics again later this year. 

We danced well into the night, past 2300, and then I tried to go for a run around our lake. I got about a third of the way along when I just collapsed, unable to breathe. (It was embarrassing, because a man was fishing right there!) I tried to catch my breath so I could start running again, but I just couldn't... and I ended up throwing up violently. It was very upsetting. I'll have to take it more slowly... but I'm ready to fly like the wind!

On a positive ending note, I've lost 4 lbs since Thursday! I'm now well into my fabulous 50s - as in, I'm at 157.3 lbs! Yay!! Less than 7½ lbs until I reach my doctor's goal!!


Britto 'N' Burpee Love

Or should I say "Burpee 'n' Britto"?

Anyway, here's what I'm talkin' 'bout:

Britto luggage

I happened across this luggage collection at Heys USA via OK! Magazine. (Why I get that magazine, I don't know, but it was free, so hey. And it seems to be the only one I make time for lately, out of all my subscriptions - free and otherwise - so... okay!)

Thee luggage ist drool-worthy, no? I am coveting it.

For those who don't know, Rob and I bought one of Romero Britto's works of art on our European cruise two years ago, so this was quite cool to see. If I could afford a $300 piece of loogage, I would definitely snatch one or four pieces right up!

(My birthday's in September, if you're reading this, Mr. Trump.)

As for the Burpee love...

our seedy seedies arrived today! Pretty colorful, huh? Compared the Britto, these packages kind of put me to sleep.

But that's okay, because the goodness contained within will brighten up our backyard this summer, with the bright red tomatoes, purple peppers, yellow squash, orange carrots and... so much more.

I can't wait!

(Mr. Trump, I need some money for the wood for our raised beds, the soil, some tools, a compost bin... all in the name of education, you know.)


Not a particularly exciting day in Casa de Odette, I'm afraid. But that won't keep me from sharing all the details that I know you love so much. Both of you.


Someone on Freecycle posted 7 boxes of Annie's organic mac & cheese, so you know I snatched those babies right up! Even better, she lived right around the corner from us. Rob made some for the kids for dinner tonight. The girls LOVED it and Jack, who rarely loves any food that doesn't have sugar as its frst four ingredients, said he prefered the 'dark orange stuff instead.' Two out of three ain't bad.


Speaking of organic (because I never do that), Jack and I went on a leetle shopping spree at Harris Teeter today. The sales start on Wednesdays, so I took a look-see to figure out what they might have on sale that's actually organic. I think there were TWO things in the whole ad, which was sucktastic. But we were out of milk (because some unknown elf left out an ENTIRE half-gallon of organic leche, which made me want to weep), and Jack doesn't like his oatmeal prepared with water. Oatmeal snob! I had a bunch of coupons from Organc Valley's website, and a few others for organic stuff, so I figured we might as well go see what was to be had.

I bought about $72 worth of stuff for $50 with my coupons, which isn't too bad for organic. We picked up something like four half-gallons of milk, some cheese, yogurt, the above pizzas (I had some of the Spinach Feta for dinner, and it was okay, but weirdly spicy), and some chocolate ice cream. That shit was good!! I had about four small bites, and while I wanted more, I didn't really feel like summoning the Dumping Syndrome fairies, so I let it be.

I'm still enjoying this organic mess, though. It's expensive, but that'll be another challenge for me to overcome: finding room in our budget to eat all local, all organic, all the time. With Burpee's help, we should do just fine.

Or we'll starve to death.

You'll see.


I got all of this knitting done tonight, between dance class and sitting with my two "we're not sleepy" imps who fell asleep within minutes after I started playing the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales on Audiobook for them, courtesy of my iPhone. Well, except for the first two rows, which I did during dance class last night. (Would have been more, but I messed up the count and had to frog and restart.)

I'm not sure I'm loving this project. I don't even think I have enough yarn to finish it, but that actually adds to the excitement for me. Will she or won't she? Only one way to find out. (Okay, there's more than one way to find out, but I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants on these things.) Just in case, I'm keeping every last inch of my snippings, in case I need them!


See those pants I'm wearing? They're jammies, and I think it embarrasses the hell out of Chloë that I wore them to the bus stop. But that's beside the point. The point is, I bought them around Halloween '09 (hence the skulls), and I could not get them up past my thighs at that point. Now, they not only fit, but they are loose-ish and very comfy!


with them, I'm wearing one of Rob's size M Harley t-shirts, just because I can. I think he likes it. I know he likes it, actually, when his girl wears his shirts, so I'm excited that for the first time ever, I can!


just for kicks, I put on a pair of his zip-and-button-up shorts - no elastic in the waist - while I was doing laundry today, and I could button them!!! I had to shove my saggy belly all down in there to do it, but hello! Have you seen my husband? He is a very thin man!


While wearing this ensemble, I went out to get the mail, and a neighbor across the street called out, "Are you on a diet? You've gotten so skinny!"


So yeah, I'm all full of my SKINNY self at the moment, thankyouverymuch.

And on that note, I have shop reports to do.


P.S. Oh yeah. Rob took Jack to see the doc at the ADHD therapy clinic, you know, where Chloë goes? To see about the pediatrician's diagnoses of ADHD and ODD. The doc pretty much observed him for the hour and questioned Rob, and then summed it up with, "So why are you here?" In other words, he has neither, in that doc's opinion. We're going to go with that one. Joy!

P.P.S. The girls and I went to the library tonight after dinner. Sophia got her own library card and picked the first three books off the shelf to borrow. Chloë picked three more chapter books (she finished two in a week, so I figured she could handle a third this time), and I picked three more books related to teaching and homeschooling. Never mind that I still haven't read the last three. Never mind, I said!


You Wanna See Something Gross???

Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you:


My camera sucks, so that's the best picture I could get of my torn-off, battered pinky nail. I pulled off the band-aid this morning to have a look at the situation, and it was pretty gruesome. The nail was hanging by a thread; I thought about gluing it down, but then I didn't want to make the nailbed have some sort of sick reation. So I lifted it up, as in the above pic, and then I clenched my teeth, squeezed my eyes shut, and YANKED it off.

Holy effing cow, that hurt!!! It bled all over again. But now it's done, and it won't keep catching on things. I went the whole day without the bandage, which was a mistake, because everything kept digging into the tender nailbed.

You know, I'm not so smart sometimes. I'm wearing another Ni-hao Kailan band-aid to cover up my widdle booboo, and it's much happier that way.

But enough about that.

Another pretty low-key day for us in Chez Odette. Jack and I made some more bread:


which, again, I found to be delicious, but the kids didn't like. Not sure if Rob sampled it yet. I stuck it in the freezer for later, which will probably be tomorrow, the way we go through bread around here.


(Damn; where can I find some of THAT?!!) 

I made the girls an organic lunch for school today: PB and the organic Nutella-like chocolate spread on the sunflower-and-hemp bread from the other day, organic peach-and-orange juice boxes, organic applesauce, and... okay, non-organic fruit snacks, complete with Red dye #40, because I can't be a completely wonderful mother, now can I? Hey, they were in the snack stockpile bin, and Chloë gave me those puppy-dog eyes, so I caved. We'll have to use them up sometime, right?

My point in mentioning this was just to say how good that chocolate stuff was, and that the girls LOVED their sandwiches. Both of them came home begging for more! I gave them smaller versions, since the organic stuff is about half the size of a jar of Nutella and cost about $7.50! Needless to say, that will be a once-in-a-while kind of treat.

In the afternoon, Jack and I went to a class, which you can read about here.

We came back just in time to get the girls off the bus. I was hoping Rob would be up do it, because it was cold and rainy, but no such luck. I went down in my shorts and t-shirt and froze to death in the rain until another mom offered to let me sit in her warm van with her and her three adorable daughters. I readily accepted! (She's the one who kept the girls for me while I was at the hospital with Jack on Thursday; nice girl.)


Chloë has her Virginia SOL tests this week, so no homework. And no Cub Scouts for Jack tonight, since there's a committee meeting; he'll have it on Thursday instead. Which meant we took it very easy tonight. Dinner was snacks (cereal, bread, more cereal, more bread), and we lazed around in the living room accomplishing a whole lot of nuttin' much.

I sent Chloë to bed right at 8 pm, so she could get plenty of rest before her stupid test tomorrow. I was highly annoyed to find her still awake and reading when I sent Sophia to bed an hour later! I should just give her a reading lamp in her room, so she doesn't have to crawl out into the hallway to read by the bathroom light!


 While she was upstairs, Jack and Sophia were downstairs busily coloring the shrinky dink pieces that Aunt Stacey gave Soap for her 5th birthday last month. (And no, we still haven't written thank-you notes. I suck. They WILL get done this week - I mean it!!)  The two of them were so nicely engaged in their activity that there wasn't one moment of arguing. No squabbles. I loved it. 


Their favorite part (and mine, I must confess) was watching the 'dinks curl up and shrink in the oven. I'd forgotten how quickly it goes - only a few minutes!


Ta-da!! I wish they made something a little more functional, because who really needs these? Next time, we'll make something useful. But they were fun for the kids, so I suppose that's all the usefulness we need. 

And I'm off... hope your week started out well!


You Know You Want Summa Dis

So, excuse any weird caps in my typing. I shaved off another nail yesterday! This time it's my pinky, and I REALLY hacked it off but good this time. I cried and wailed aND sobbed; it hurt a ton. And it's messing up my typing.

Friday was an interesting day. Jack slept late, and Rob came home from work late, so I didn't get to go out and do all our organic food shopping until after 10 am. I went to the Farmer's Market first, to get our seafood from Uncle Chuck, but he wasn't open until after 1400. And I never went back, so no luck there until 1 June.

I stopped at the Market's creamery after that, to see what I could find for local/organic dairy. They had some GREAT semi-local milk products (from a Maryland dairy farm), but they don't actually practice organic. They call themselves 'better than organic' since they don't use preservatives, which apparently organic still does. I don't know. It looked great, and I was going to go back, but I didn't.

Instead, I went to the organic market there, and I spent our entire $200 food budget and then some on not too much stuff. I mean, I got six big canvas bags full, plus a huge glass bottle of the most crazy-delicious organic apple juice (I guess I don't have to keep saying 'organic' about the stuff I bought there, since it all was/is) - but normally, I can fill 15-20 bags for that much money. So this 100% organic business is going to be a REAL challenge, financially, but we are committed.

To do it, we're going to keep burning through our stockpile of non-organic foods until it's all gone, while I stock up on organic whenever I can get a good deal, to supplement it. We're cutting out junk food entirely - sorry, kids - and won't be buying anymore Coke or anything like that. Of course, we'll have the proceeds from our garden - our seeds have already been shipped! - so the kids are going to have to learn to eat, and love eating, lots of fresh veggies at every meal. I'm going to do without meat as much as I can and drink more protein shakes, since the organic meat is crazy expensive. And I'm going to make my own laundry detergent when our supply runs out. Some people have reported spending about $15 a YEAR on it when they make their own!!

I'm also wanting to learn to make our own things like cheese, yogurt and such. I really want to move into a house further out somewhere, where we can keep some chickens and maybe a couple of goats. Rob would like a cow, but I don't know about that. If we end up giving the boat thing up for the time being, that is.

I don't know whether we'll still be able to feed our family of 5 organically on $400 a month, but we're so determined to try, and you know what they say, "where there's a will..."

So what did I get?


Well, here's that big, giant (as SophiA SAys) bottle of apple juice. OMG, hands-down the BEST juice I have EVER tasted. I'm absolutely in love with it AND will buy a bottle every time I shop. It costs ten bucks, though!

You can see some of the produce I picked up in the background, there: a few apples, some pears, a lemon, garlic, green onions, some oranges, and ginger. I don't know yet what I'll do with the ginger, but it's cheap, and I'm sure I'll find lots of tasty recipes. We used to make a salmon dish, new-style sashimi, with fresh ginger, when I was pregnant with Chloë. Until I started barfing it up, which is why we stopped. I got the recipe from Chef Nobu when he was on Martha's show. Muy excelente; I'll have to find it again.


These cashews were also the tastiest I've ever hAD. Seriously, so good. Really, organic food is not only healthy and wonderful for you, but it is delicious!! I picked up a bag of sunflower seeds, too. I've been enjoying them immensely, but I'm the only one, since they're not salted. 

Rounding out my order, I picked up some organic Nutella-like stuff, peanut butter, two jellies, 6 packages of spaghetti, milk, butter, lots of cheeses, 2 cartons of eggs (over five bucks a pop!!), and for Rob and the kiddies, a package of bacon. The owner of the shop, Michele, was very nice and has been running it for over 25 years. She was very helpful in deciding what to buy, and she even gave me a discount on the items I had coupons for, though they don't accept coupons. I told her I'd probably be in twice a month, on paydays, and she seemed thrilled about that. She even teaches a class on 'going organic,' which I might attend if it's free or nearly so.

So I had a great time, and I can't wait to shop again. June 1st can't come soon enough!


While I was shopping, Dr. A called about Jack. Have I mentioned here that he hasn't been hearing me at home? I had made an appointment with Audiology, but it wasn't until mid-June. Since I was having to shout at him more and more in order to be heard, I was growing increasingly alarmed and imagining myself having to learn (and teach him) sign language. I called Doc A when I decided mid-June was just too far away to be playing around with his hearing like that, so he called in an walk-in appointment for me.

No one at audiology seemed to be aware of this walk-in set-up, so we waited over an hour before being seen. Finally, the audiologist took us back and gave him a battery of tests. It was stupefying. He has significant hearing loss in both his ears!! (I feel like calling up his teacher/the school and saying, "Hey, he wasn't 'not paying attention,' he coulding flipping HEAR you!!!") There were no 'waves' on his ear drum test. When air is blown into the ears, there are supposed to be mountains on the chart indicating movement of the drum; instead, the line was absolutely flat, indicating lots of fluid behing them. I was pretty devastated when I saw that. 

The rests of the tests were the kinds you might remember from grade school, where you raised your hand when you heard the noise? Except he didn't hear the noise at normal decibels, 20 db and below. He couldn't hear until at least 40-45 and sometimes not until 60 db! So no wonder he would be completely 'ignoring' the teacher when she was talking in a normal speaking voice; he couldn' heAR A DAMn thing she was saying to him. That makes me so sad for him.

What do you think; should I tell her? I would be nice...

Anyway, the plan now is to go back to Doc A on Thursday and see what the course of action will be, whether it's antibiotics, decongestants, wait-and-see (not my favorite choice, since his hearing is worsening daily, I think), or something else. 

My poor little guy. He has already been through so much.


Saturday marked the second day of Rob's motorcycle class (take three). He was gone almost the whole day. I was exhausted, so the cleaning I planned didn't happen; instead, we watched movies and rested on the couch for most of it. Oh, well. 

In the evening, Steph came over so Rob and I could have a date. We saw the movie Date Night, which was pretty funny. We laughed a lot, although i probably could have waited to see it on DVD.  But one of our tickets was free, from ShopAtHome.com (I'm not sure why, but hey, I'll take it), so it was a cheap date.


Late at night, Jack, who had taken a long, late nap, stayed up past the kids' bedtime to help me bake some bread. I want to start baking all of our breads, sandwich and otherwise, to save even more money. We chose sunflower bread, since I've bought and loved it from the store. I found a great recipe on AllRecipes.com, and he did all of the measuring and mixing. I'd forgotten I have a dough hook for my powerful new mixer, or I'd have been baking bread every day since I got it. And boy, did it knead that dough quickly. I ♥ my KitchenAid! I wish I could get the pasta attachments for it, but they're too pricey for now. I showed them to Jack, online, and he really, really wants them, too. he is a pasta fiend!


Baking is great for many lessons. This time, the lesson was all about the properties of yeast. Jack was amazed at how much our bread dough rose in the bowl, and he liked punching it down for the second rising. Doesn't it look like nutty mashed potatoes, here?

 Our two loves came out perfectly. and oh, they were scrumptious!! Especially when paired with the organic cream cheese I'd picked up. Mm, so good. I've eaten way more than I should have. Don'tcha want a wee slice?


Sunday, I woke up early, around 0600, after onlyl about 4 hours of sleep. I couldn't get back, so I rose for another slice of sunflower bread. I'd added some of the hemp hearts that Michele - from the organic food market - gave me as a saMPLE. LOts of protein and omega fatty acids in those! It was just as good the following morning, too. Yum.

Rob went off to his final day of bike class, and the kids finally rose for breakfast. They couldn't agree on any one thing, so I had to play short order cook. Chloë pigged out on organic eggs and bacon and sunflower breAD WITH CREAM CHEESE. Jack had pancakes and bacon. Sophia had breAD, PANCakes and bacon. They all had the organic apple juice. They ate well, and I know it did their little bodies good. Probably cost $25 for the meal, too!! Heh.

I took a nap after that while they watched some PBS Kids-via-Netflix, until Daddy came home. 


Rob is now a licensed motorcyclist. Hallelujah!!!! Now, watch out, drivers. My baby daddy is on the road!

After i got over the excitement, the kids and I HEADED upstairs to clean. I did umpteen million loads of laUNDRY (AND AM still only half done; so much for keeping on top of that) while the kids supposedly cleaned their rooms. EVery time I turned around, Sophia had run downstairs to watch TV, Jack was lying down, and Chloë was reading. I can't blame them, reALLY; I hate cleaNING, TOO. But it has to be done, and they have to learn.



In the afternoon, we drove out to a new-to-us park for Tabitha's baby Lily's first birthday party. She was sassy in her little tutu and bow, eh? I love her blue, blue eyes.


None of us were prepared for how cold it was going to be. It had been hot and sweaty back at our house, but it was cold under the shelter. All the poor kids froze, as did most of us parents!


Tab had an owl piñata there for the bigger kids, so i already broke our new rule of 'no more candy or junk'. but how was I supposed to say 'no' after it was handed to them? As Jack explained to his complaining father, "It was a PARTY! You're supposed to eat candy at a PARTY!" 

I did not, however, let them eat the burgers or hot dogs. Nope, not gonna do it. Too much risk involved there.


they were pretty happy with their goodie bags, declaring it 'the best party ever.' Even though we didn't stick around for cake and the present-opening, because they were cold and hungry, they were happy!


Steph and Luke were there, too. He looked so cute in his little sun hat!

The birthday girl got her grub on; she has a GReAT APPEtite!!


After we left and arrived home, I went back to my laundry, the littles went back to 'cleaning,' and Chloë started some practice tests for the SOLs coming up this week at school. on the one hand, I really don't care about them, but on the other, I want her to do the best she can so we can establish a baseline for her skills. So we're preparing as much aS WE CAN, given the limited amount of time she has. (I'd have had her practice all day SaturdaY, BUT I plum forgot about them!)  When she needed a breAK, she came upstairs to visit and ended up having a good time being 'airplaned' by Mom & Dad. Don't her curls look AWESOme??


Of course, Sophia had to come running for a TURN! Jack was sound asleep by then (and still is), so he was a no-show for the fun.


Girls being silly


This is the face I usuALLY get when Sophia waNTS TO Have her picture taken!

Anyway, that's about it for this weekend. I think I'll go throw some more bread in the KitchenAid!


PS Sorry again for the crazy caps!


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments is brought to you by Mrs. 4444, mother of two of the most gorgeous children on the planet. Join in the fun!

So I'm still de-schooling Jack, my middle child. He's enjoying it. A large part of his day involves watching movies and TV streamed from Netflix (educational stuff, though, mostly PBS fare) at the moment, and that's intentional. We could be doing other, more stimulating things, and we will, but my plan is to give him some time to do absolutely nothing. I really feel it's important to give him a break right now. We do other things when he wants, and most of the time that involves making something in the kitchen. I swear, I have never seen him happier in his entire seven years. Mama is devoted entirely to fulfilling his desires during the day right now, and I just know he needed that boost. (No, I don't normally make it a habit to cater to my children's every whim!) 

If you want to follow our homeschooling journey, which I plan to begin in earnest around the beginning of August, you can do so here. I'd love to have you along for the ride!

I'm getting really excited about our lifestyle makeover. Be sure and answer my Aloha Friday question in the previous post; I really am interested in your answers! I don't want to reiterate what you can already read in that post, so basically, I'll just say that we are planning to eat a fully organic/local diet.

Since Hubs just got paid today, I'm thrilled to make our first organic shopping trip tomorrow. I've been doing research, although there is still lots more to do. I'm going to start at the Farmer's Market, with what will become a regular pit stop at the fishmonger's shack and then another at the organic grocer's hut.

From there, if we still need things (I'm not going to go crazy; all we really need at the moment are basics like milk, eggs, cheese and bread), I'll visit the Organic Food Depot near our house. I never even knew it was there until I did a search for "my town" and "milk," and it turns out it's literally right down the road!

And if that's still not enough, I'll hit up Harris Teeter, which has an extensive selection of organic items and which, thankfully, takes coupons. I've had some coupons for Organic Valley in my coupon box for at least six month now, and it's to make use of them!

So go, answer my Aloha Friday and tell me your feelings on the matter!

Well, as you can imagine, all this organic eating is going to put a serious dent in an already battered budget. We don't generally fritter our money away (anymore...), but we've had such a hard time since September or so, that it was finally time to sit down and make up a true budget. I signed up for the free trial at HelloWallet, which helped a great deal. I recommend it if you need help with a budget, too. I mean, I totally could have made up our budget without HW, but it helped me think of some spending categories that I would have forgotten about on my own, and that would have gotten me into trouble again. Now, we are budgeted right down to the very last penny.

Another great feature, aside from the budget developer, on HelloWallet is one which will help you pay off your debts faster. Thanks largely to paying out-of-pocket for my gastric bypass surgery last year, we have a large amount of credit card debt. I used the calculator on HW to find out how long we'd be in that debt, and it was shocking. I didn't think we could manage to pay it off any faster, but after spending all night crunching some serious numbers and using their tool to show me how much faster I'd pay off those Visa bills - and how much we'd save in interest - if we increased our monthly payments, we are now committed to some serious belt-tightening.

With all that help, I even managed to find some extra room in the budget for our currently recurrent dental bills, home improvement, gardening, and the children's homeschooling expenses. And yes, eating organically. So it's a huge relief, like a heavy burden has been lifted.

(Unfortunately, Chloë's and my somewhat-obsessive Webkinz habit doesn't fit in the plan. Oh, well.)

I just found out Thursday night that Sophia won her mommy a nice prize!

At the Girl Scouts pre-registration event last week, she entered a drawing for a night of pampering at The Body Shop - and she was one of the winners! I could take her with me, and some of her little friends, but the lady on the phone recommended I take my grown-up friends instead. And so, that is what I will do! There will be massages, a make-up therapist (her words, not mine), and goodness knows what else, for free! I can't wait. She had me at "massage." So, d'ya wanna come?

Can't think of anything else I need to share with you that hasn't already been posted, so I guess it's time for some Cute Kid Quotes:

To keep her busy, I set Sophia, 5, to work building a cave in the living room. She excitedly got down to work and was all business as she shouted back at me over her shoulder, "Mama, I'm moving out! I'm going to the North Pole! I'm going to DO everything and PLAY with everything, and that's ALL I'm going to do!"

I love that. "I'm going to do everything and that's all." Not much, is it?

Chloë, 8½, asked me thoughtfully the other day, "Does the President know our names? Does he know we're good people?"

I doubt it, but it warmed my heart to know she thinks we're 'good people.'

I sang a song the other night to my little girls, making it up as I went along. After I sang, ♫ Good night, little girls! ♪

Sophia returned with her own lilting melody, ♪ Good night, Big Mommy! ♫


Sophie said, "Mommy, can I have one of those oranges in the fridge? You know, those orange, little, circle things?"

So glad she clarified that one.

That's all, folks! Have a great weekend!





Aloha Friday


Link up with Kailani if you're playing along today!

My question for you this week is:

How do you feel about eating organic food?

My answer:

Until very recently, when my I screened the documentary Food, Inc. for my family and myself, it wasn't important to me at all. It was more important to me to eat local, but even then, I didn't try too very hard. That's all changed now. We are going to strive to be 100% organic. The plan is to grow as much of our own food as possible, buy local from the Farmer's Market for as much of the rest as we can, and buy organic from the supermarket for whatever's left. If there's something we can't get local or organic, we'll have to do without. But thank goodness we now have a Trader Joe's in our area!

So how 'bout you? Have you seen Food, Inc? Will you watch it? You can watch it instantly on your computer or TV (via Wii) from Netflix. What are you waiting for??