Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve yucks

I am writing this early tonight. Out usual situation on this night is to play games and get involved in the traditional Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy channel. This year should be no different except there will be a new little life force in our house. We tend to get so into our games that we miss the ball and all the festivities that go with it. I don't want to mess with my streak, so here I am posting early.

As I look over the cliff at an approaching new year, I look with hope and anticipation for a happier and healthier year...one where we get healthy and improve ourselves and our relationships with others. This one will be filled with challenges, but I hope to take them on with force!

I ask those of you who do to say a little prayer for my brother and his coworkers tonight. A friend and coworker passed away suddenly, so young and so loved. What a heartbreaking event to happen any time...so unexpected and inexplicable. I pray they find comfort and love wrapping them tightly.

Happy New Year's Eve...don't drink and drive. Don't get in a fight over a bowl game. Don't end the year eating substandard food. Enjoy yourself and others! Much love and many blessings for 2014!

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Here we go, friends

Well we did it. We went and did it. We got a puppy. A puppy who smells like a campfire...who has little needle teeth...who was found wandering around and was picked up Dec. 21...who is a jumpy brown ball of crazy...who likes to jump on everything...who finds the children fun and the boy especially fascinating...who is going to have to be walked for 17 hours a day to wear her out(or 1 hour with the children). We are in for an interesting journey with this little girl, but it will be a fun one. Right now the first order of business is to help her learn how to walk on a leash. Currently, she resembles a large fish on a line, flopping around like a wild animal. Either that or she is a passive protester. She sits and plants those feet and bottom and will go no further. Puppy kindergarten is coming soon.

I am going to bed. I had a horrible night's sleep. Apparently my stomach does not like having a night where I get both a piece of pizza and some ice cream. TMI I know, but it is what it is. I will leave you with this:

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mom win...ah HA!

I had to go to work this morning. Sundays are a big day when you work with children in a church, so I was there in all my bleary eyed glory. I am not ashamed to admit that I have enjoyed sleeping in a little bit on Christmas break. I got a little spoiled. Unfortunately, the Keurig did not kick in and start working this morning. In a panic, I texted up to the poor hub who was still wiped out and exclaimed my concern with the coffee situation. This was met with an underwhelming response of "Okay. I'll look at it." Luckily, I had one little bottle of Lite Vanilla Frappuchino in my office fridge that saved my body from a caffeine deprivation incident. After work, I went home to find lots of strife and anger and frenzied cleaning. "Puppy Prep Panic '13" was well underway. Every little bit of Christmas glitter and ribbon and candy crumb and clothes tag was being obliterated from the house. The offspring were a bit miffed at the situation, but "no clean no pup" is quite the motivator.

After their chores were complete, they were allowed to view some television or make rubber band bracelets or whatever their hearts desired...as long as they didn't mess up what they had just cleaned. I came into the TV room from switching laundry around to find all the children glued to a riveting episode of Emergency!...all by their own choice. HA! They are hooked. We are currently watching it right now. I hope the puppy likes it. It looks like there are seven seasons to go through. Station 51...out.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Well here we go...

My friends? My friends, we have dipped our toes back into the puppy pond. Today we left our warm and comfy home and set off in search of a new furry friend to join our clan. The children received a pep talk and set of rules that we were going to follow when looking. (1) Don't touch unless the official people say it is okay. (2) Don't run around and get all jerky and make them nervous. (3) We will not look and buy in the same visit...we need to think about the pup and have some distance. We hit three different shelters, test drove a few little ones and some big ones. At the end of the day, we decided on the very first little friend we met. A 3-4 month old chocolate lab stray they had named "Starla". Not my favorite name, but she was our favorite dog by a nose and a tail. Most of our pictures did not turn out since she was so excited, but we got a few:

She also liked the hub a lot:

The kids are beyond excited and, to be quite honest, so are we. The house has been awfully quiet since June 23. There is something very special about the life force of a dog. They bring the balance and unconditional love that we have needed for a while, but needed to make sure we were ready and out of the mourning period all at the same time.

Pray for us as we transition back into the world of pet ownership. We are feverishly puppy proofing the house. And, no, we will not be letting her sleep with the boy...whatever he tells you.
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Friday, December 27, 2013

A new superhero: Gridpatch Back

We had a pretty boring morning here at the ranch. I had to go to work and get the schedule out for January and send some emails that I had been postponing due to the potential for angry responses. Long story there, so I won't bore you with the details. I got my work chores done and went home. I showed the kids Disney's Robin Hood for the first time and they enjoyed it, even if it had zero computer graphics involved. Old school all the way, baby.

The afternoon was filled with fun times in the allergist's office. Yet another chapter in the saga of the "significant health event" of last Spring. As is always the case with specialists, the wait was long and torturous, especially for the boy:

Each of us had some sort of electronic device to occupy the time, yet none of us were really motivated to use them. We just wanted to whine about the wait and the crowded waiting room. When we finally got back to the room, my daughter's back was turned into a numbered patched, taped, sharpied mess...with a big clear bandaid over it with tape over it:

Her sister held her head and shoulders as she had to stand bent over for a period of time. Her brother provided running commentary throughout the whole process. The nurse thought we were some sort of live action sitcom, there for her amusement. Finally the application was complete. She gets to wear it all weekend and have it removed Monday and keyed according to a guide that they lay on top of the areas where the tape and goo were removed. Hopefully, after all this mess, they will be able to tell what on earth that poor kid is allergic to and how to avoid it. All I can say is this, pray for us that we can keep her taped up and not evil. These may be two impossibilities.

Tomorrow we may go on our first trip to look for a puppy. With our crew, it will no doubt be an unforgettable experience full of action and adventure. Let's hope S doesn't come untaped and that the rest of us don't get bitten or peed on by a creature. It'll make a good story for tomorrow.
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

My family mocks me...I'm not bitter

As promised, I allowed the children almost a complete day of sloth. We did make a trip to Target to find a game and Walgreens to buy some discounted after Christmas gift bags and plates. Gots to be prepared for next year's plates of goodies for neighbors. Anyway, the kids were enjoying a day of relaxation and watching various shows on Netflix. I was trying very hard to take some lessons on relaxation from the kids, but I could only take so much of Disney Channel programming and preteen angst movies. So when I finally got a vote in the television programming, I selected to watch that 1970's classic television action/drama, Emergency!, that I LOVED as a young child. My brother and I played John and Roy all the time and made the sounds that the call siren made in Station 51. We had the hats, we were super cool:

All I wanted was to watch a rerun of Johnny and Roy and Nurse Dixie and studly Dr. Brackett and kindly Dr. Early. What I got instead was 50 minutes of mocking...cruel, heartless mocking as John and Roy tried heroically to save ladies with questionable hairdos and wardrobes and the doctors were brought patients, driven on gurnies that were practically touching the floor, with rattlesnake bites and injured legs from dancing too hard. What is there to mock in that? The are community helpers as they help people who are taken to Rampart Hospital. So after my episode ended in a dramatic, but humorous way, the mocking continued. I was really hoping that when the hub turned his choice program on, McGyver, that the mocking would at least be close to equivalent. How wrong was I. There were a few comments about the various hairdos, but nothing nearly as cruel. I'll be okay, gentle readers, but I won't forget this. This mocking will not go unanswered, family. Mark my words. :0)
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hectic Christmas

Holy First Noel, Batman, it has been a crazy day. I ended up going to bed at 11:45pm last night, but sleep did not come easily. My feet and knees felt as though I had been hobbled in some sort of "Misery"-esque incident last night. The hub fell asleep almost immediately while I tossed and turned until I heard little feet moving about. "is it time?", the boy asked. Really? For the love of everyhing holy. He then returned at 12:15. He and his sister arrived at 4:00am, claiming that he had a wicked case of the growing pains. He got into bed wth us and eventually was sent back. They finally got us up for good at 545. Needless to say we have been celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus and having family time for a long time today. I am beyond fortunate to have these sweet children in my life:

They received so many nice things and have enjoyed them so much, but if I find this next to my bedside, I will freak out:

I must go to bed. I fell asleep with m hand on the keybaord and made 17 lines of forward slashes. Have a wonderful night, everyone. I'm done.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the night of Christmas Eve...

It has been a whirlwind day for sure. While the kids have felt the day drag by as though it would never end, their father and I felt as though we had somehow fugued out and lost a couple six hours. I started off at the grocery at 8:30 and never really stopped. The hub and the boy graciously removed themselves to the garage and fried up bacon for Christmas breakfast. Why the garage, you say? Well, because with the mixture of odors from Christmas potpourri, traditional Italian meatloaf, chocolate and peanut butter fudge, pecan pie and dishwasher detergent, bacon might push the smell threshold over the edge and move on to push the tummy threshold. They froze out there, but were they troopers:

Deliveries were made and treat bearers were happily welcomed. The boy went from happy to excited to whatever is excited multiplied by 72. I was truly a little bit concerned as to how he was going to make it through church service without wiggling out of his seat and cracking his head open.

Church was a memorable experience as always. I love to see all the little ones dress up as different participants in the Christmas story. The boy was a shepherd and his biggest sister was as well. She was strategiacally placed as an older shepherd to herd the kids away from the expensive and very breakable nativity set in the chancel area. G chose to not dress up, but wrote and read the Christmas prayer for the evening. As I watched the children, sang the hymns and then held my candle high while singing "Silent Night", I felt the usual tears coming to my eyes. I feel so fortunate in so many ways. A baby was born for all of us and I am so humbled by the weight of that news. As my favorite Christmas song says, "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices...for yonder wakes a new and glorious morn." Oh night divine, indeed. Have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow, everyone!

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Monday, December 23, 2013

The eve of the eve

How nice was it to sleep in today? Pretty nice, I'm not gonna lie. I felt a slight pang of guilt knowing that the hub still had to get up and go to work, but I got over it. I knew that I would have to go in and have a bit of time at work myself. The two youngest came in at a little before 7. I turned on the television and let them snuggle up to me and watch if they promised not to fight and squirm. The oldest snoozed away until the rest of us finally got bored and told her it was time to get up. The life of a middle schooler. The rest of the consisted of baking, cleaning, refereeing, sitting in a nerve destroying meeting and then baking again. I tried a new recipe, Buckeye Bark, which is like a chocolate covered peanut butter ball meets a Reese Cup. A mess to make and break into pieces, but yummy. S and the boy played "Ticket to Ride" while G looked through Netflix and did interpretive readings of Twilight Zone episode synopses. The "Living Doll" episode with Talking Tina was the best. She really should do shows. It was quite entertaining. After she was finished, the boy did his interpretive dance to the opening credits and theme song to "Chuck". We're getting down over here and getting ready for Christmas Eve. The excitement is palpable and the hours drag by for the children. This is the first year they all have done all of their shopping for others all by themsleves( with transportation assistance of course). They were given a few supplemental funds, but mostly used their own cash too. It is so fun to see how excited they are to give their gifts to their people. Pretty excellent to watch.

Time to finish watching Celebrity Game Night and then go to bed. Have nice night all.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Poundin' out the pound cakes

My dogs are tired, friends. Tired. I have officially achieved "Chicken With Head Cut Off" status. This morning at work/church we celebrated with a birthday party for the baby Jesus. Sweet G and her friends got to sing to the other children and then they all got to go and have a special birthday cupcake as a treat. I haven't seen so many baked confections in one area since that Weird Al episode of Cupcake Wars my girls watched the other day. I tried to convince the kids to eat the cupcake "Cake Boss" style:

This provides one with a nice little cupcake burger and avoids the mess that comes with them. Most of them chose to eat it whilst still in the paper and others just went down and out animal at the trough style, eating it as though they were in some sort of pie eating contest. No hands necessary. The family and I also lit the Advent candle at both services today. It was an honor to do so, though humbling when I determined that I must need some Walgreens readers to read the print in our pew Bible. Jeepers I must be blind. We got it done and didn't set the poinsettias on fire or drop the microphone, etc. We also set the sanctuary up for our Christmas Eve service and cleaned up from the late service of today I arrived home, conked out sitting up for about 10 minutes, talked to my sweet friend A who provided an ear for me to vent into and then made two lemon pound cakes. Hopefully the neighbors will enjoy a few goodies this Christmas. For now, I just want to go to bed and sleep knowing that I do not have to set the alarm tomorrow. Happy Christmas to me!
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wrappin' and nappin'...just a little bit

I hope everyone has had a good weekend so far. I can't complain. My guilt comes from the fact that our church helped build a Habitat house and the dedication was this morning. Since G managed to get a nice yucky sinus infection, we felt that it was not in her best interest to be outside in possible rain or blucky weather. My brother and his wife went and said it was very nice. The two of them did a lot of the work on the build and wanted to be there to see the happy conclusion. I'm so happy for this sweet family.

After getting the sick and exhausted settled into chores and plans for the morning, the hub and I barricaded ourselves down in the basement to wrap some presents. The nosy factor runs high with some of the children, so the hub put old drop cloths all around where the staircase is so that unexpected visitors could not catch a glimpse of anything. It resembled the tenting the happened in Elliott's house in "ET". It was a maze of misdirection. It is amazing how many emergency questions come up when mom and dad are dealing in Christmas surprises downstairs. I think the boy wanted to eat every 20 minutes and asked every five. He's going to have another spurt here any day...either that or he has a worm. Wrapping, sorting and folding laundry and sweeping paper pieces up was finished quickly and then I went up to conk out for a power nap for 15 minutes.

After dinner we went looking at Christmas lights and then went home to get ready for bed. I found this picture and it made me happy:

A pig in boots. How much cuter can you get? Not much. Sleep sweetly with that image in your brain. I'm going to bed soon. Big day tomorrow. Night all.
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Let's all sigh in relief

Today was the last day of school before Christmas. Thank the good Lord! The kids went to school this morning, two in their pajamas and one in a sleepy fog. The hub and I ran several errands and then went to pick up the kids. Could you hear the sighs of relief from where you were? They were loud and quite emotional. And then the kids sighed too...ha ha ha. We ate lunch and then had a period of vegging out. It was wonderful. Blissful even. G had to take a trip to the doc's office with her dad to have her yucky cough checked out. Guess the evil Santa brought her a sinus infection for an early Christmas present. She got some good meds and she will be fine. Tomorrow will be a wrapping day for the hub and myself. Nothing very exciting. I am going to go to bed so I can keep up with my happy kids tomorrow.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Awkward Talks and Jingle Bell Rocks

Tonight was the big night. We were planning to make our annual trek to the crazy mall and see Santa, the Jolly Old Elf, the Man in Red, St. Nick, well, you get the picture. The kids were officially done with actual work and knew that tomorrow's school school meant only pajamas, Christmas movies and food, so they were AMPED UP. Earlier in the day, I set up a Santa Kids' Workshop in the playroom and sent them there to wrap their presents while I prepared a healthy dinner of pizza braid, cucumber slices and yogurt. Don't judge...it's the most unhealthy eating tiiimmmeeee of the year. My oldest came in wanting to discuss a certain troublemaker boy and get my opinions on things and needed some terms explained(great). After inhaling their food, they changed into their Santa Clause visiting best and awaited the arrival of their dad from work and their Aunt Deb from work as well. Uncle Mike had a prior engagement, so he was not coming with us this time. Brian and Deb ate quickly and then we all piled into the Odyssey to go to the mall. A holiday station was playing on XM radio, the heated seats felt lovely, the mood was festive. And then the oldest asked if she could tell her Aunt Deb the story she had told me about the troublemaker boy at school. "Okay, but you need to prepare yourself to use code for some of the terms or you'll have to explain what they mean." After agreeing, she began to tell her aunt of the boy in her class who likes to call her several different colorful names, some of which she has no clue as to how insulting they are. Apparently today he decided to empty the candy wrappers out of his pockets when their teacher saw something suspicious. He asked the boy what it was. Well, holy inappropriate pocket contents for a middle schooler, Batman, it was a condom. The math teacher expressed his anger, dealt with the boy and threw it away. At this point, my two youngest ask(you already know what it is), "What is a condom?". I heard the hub groan from the driver's seat. "Are you prepared to explain now?' I asked. G wanted to know, so I tried to explain in code, referring to our "Where do babies come from?" discussion. I explained it was used so the babies wouldn't be made. She and her brother continued to ask questions and tried to vainly understand what it was and why someone would have it at school. The hub is still groaning in the driver's seat, mumbling under his breath, "This is going to go bad soon. Soon." Aunt Deb and I were trying vainly to divert the talk from birth control to Santa when my oldest decided to take over and do the explaining. Talk about the blind leading the blind. "G and F? Okay, so a condom, well, it is really just kind of a toy for adults." After a collective gasp from the adults, the hub said, "Subject change! Are you all watching "The Grinch" tomorrow?". The boy, who never misses a beat, said, "Toys for adults? Like Legos?". Talk about being saved by the jingle bell, mercifully, the parking space was located quickly and talk quickly went to Santa. Although we were prepared for horrible lines, there were only a couple families in front of us. The boy was all business and the girls were very polite. We got a few good shots:

After we saw Santa, we went to see the Johnson Family Christmas light show:

They are always entertaining and we even saw my cousin B and his family in the cul de sac watching the show. Small world.

All the children are now in bed, but hopefully not with visions of discussions in the van floating in their heads. Good grief.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Party all day with the 1st and 4th grade...woohoo

Today was party day at school for the two youngest in our house. I knew that this meant I would not have dinner cooked or laundry done for the day because I would be helping little hands make crafts or pick their plate of snacks without OD'ing on sugar before they got on the bus. I had the talk with the boy more than once to try and at least be aware of what kind of clothes he put on this week. With lots of camera happy scrapbooking moms who have children in his class, he was bound to be in a few pictures. It sure would be nice for him to be remembered fondly and maybe not have his pictured mocked 15 years down the road as the kid in the picture who had the high water pants on or something like that. Truly it doesn't matter, because he's a super cool kid in my opinion. I picked out an outfit for him thus preventing a fashion emergency and frostbite if he decided to wear short sleeves. Win win. Waking up this morning, our house was the perfect temperature to hang meat, so all three children came down with their coats on, shivering and teeth chattering. I was tired and not firing on all cylinders, so I gave them their cereal, got all of their packs together and drove them to school, making the loop back to elementary school after making the middle school drop off. The first grade party was in the cafeteria and I took my place at the table helping the kids make Santa Clause ornaments. The boy's class filed in, ready to get their Christmas party on, and this is what I saw:

He wore his glow in the dark Halloween tshirt that I had deliberately hidden for the Christmas season. Nice. When I asked him why he wore a Halloween shirt to a Christmas party, he said, "Baby Jesus and Santa have bones. Should I put a Santa hat on to Christmas it up?". How can I get mad at that? Darn that kid.

G's class was a bit different. Now that they are fourth graders, they are trying to be cool kids but have the holiday fun too. I ended up making sausage balls and a new to us treat the kids are calling "Elf Eyes". I also bagged up a button wreath craft for the kids to make. Luckily G still wants me there and even hugs me in front of her friends. I'll take that all day long, friends. She and her buddy got serious about playing BINGO and making their crafts:

I'm glad I had the opportunity to spend that time with them both. They are growing up so fast and won't want me at their party soon enough. But for now, I'll put Santa heads together and make sausage balls anytime they ask...though I'll still try to make the boy not wear a skeleton for a Christmas party.
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And then I have my black days....

Have you ever had a bad day? Like one really up there on the charts that puts you well into the red? Today has been that day for me. I have thought of "My Many Colored Days" book that I read to all three of my children. Usually my page was"Green deep deep in the sea...cool and quiet fish. That's me." Today is "And then my black days mad and loud. I howl, I growl at every cloud." Totally feeling that today and trying very hard to focus on the meaning of this season. I feel physically and emotionally exhausted and beaten and kicked when I was already down. Oh well. Welcome to the lives of 99.999% of the world.

Tomorrow I go to help with two class parties tomorrow. I am praying that the happy little faces will make me remember the joy and excitement of the season. Hopefully there will be no mom drama...I am not touching that crud with a ten foot pole. Tonight I am making sausage balls and making button wreath kits for the 4th grade party goers. Hopefully they will enjoy it. After that, I hope sleep will come easily tonight. I hope to have a funny school story for you tomorrow.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Catching a few z's

I am in another period of extreme insomnia. More so than usual which really stinks it up big time. I spend lots of time flipping and flopping in the bed and wrapping myself up like a goldfish in toilet paper...oh yeah, I'll have to tell you that story sometime. Too tired tonight. My mind doesn't know how to slow down and so my body can't either. So when it is time for school pick up, I am snoozing in TWO lines, not just one. Let me tell you, ever since S started the big K several years ago, I used the pick up line as the place to get G's nap started and the boy calmed down in his infant carrier. I am proud to say that I have never fallen asleep and been the person to hold up the line. I have been close, like a literal open my eyes in time to throw it into drive and be right up with the next person. I have never had someone honk their horn or had the safety officer knock his billy club on my window...yet. This afternoon we were in a hurry since I had to get S, drive back and get G and drive her to an appointment. I made sure S knew to get out of school quickly and not to tarry. I had plenty of time to snooze before then, so I took advantage. I woke up to the boy saying, "Uh, Mom. Look." I focused my sleepy eyes and there was S, walk-running as fast as her skinny little legs could carry her. And she was carrying her huge scale model of the Katse Hydroelectric Dam in Lesotho. I could barely see her face, just the green mountains and the gray walls of the dam. That woke me up.

That is about as exciting as my life gets, once again. We are planning a trip to see Santa in the very near future, so hold on to your hats. That may have quite a story attached to it. I sure hope the pan flute guy is back again this year....

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Counting down the days

As we sit here and watch the finale of Survivor, which I haven't really watched consistently since Knoxville's own Tina Wesson won, I am counting down the days until I can have my babies home and just chill for a little bit. I cannot wait. My girls are more excited about the fact that they are about to reveal the final four. Good grief.

I made one of many daily tactical errors and went to return some pajamas at Target at about 4:15 this afternoon. Really, was that dumb or what? I parked in the spot that was third from the end of the row, you know, one of the spots where they should provide a drink station between it and the store because it is so far away. There also weren't any carts available, but that was okay. I got my business taken care of and made a few purchases. I got my A&W root beer as a reward for getting out of there without cracking or throwing my basket of goods across the store(not that I would ever do that). I picked up S from the youth group Christmas party. In the Dirty Santa game, she got a gift bag with two boxes of Easy Mac, a CHristmas tin and a penny in a box. Well, there was dinner. Easy enough. Unfortunately, those blasted noodles proved to be impossible to get off the bottom of the pot, so I tried a trick I heard. Let's just say, don't take your eyes off of something on the stove:

It's never dull around here. I know all you people must think we are the most boring people on the planet. And you'd be right.

Going to go put laundry away and keep my oldest from making up excuses to sneak and watch Survivor. This should be an interesting evening.
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rainy soupy party day

I think that our town of Knoxville needs to be renamed Seattle of the Southeast with all of this rain we are having. Today we had the Christmas party at church for the little guys and gals. Lots of crafts and activities plus a snack and story. What more could you ask for really? Our crowd wasn't huge, but considering travel by boat would have been the best way to get there, the low-ish attendance wasn't that big of a shocker. The families who did attend had a good time, I think. They were all busy making sweet things:

Simple crafts that will provide reminders of the most important story of all. My girls helped the little ones by painting their hands and helping their little fingers apply glue dots on popsicle sticks. They had fun, too, but were ready to go home and be rainy day vegetables.

A yucky day, but a special one spent helping little guys learn about the most important baby ever. Now? Bedtime. Sleep tight.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday store rage witness

I was determined, friends, to finish up the bulk of my shopping today. Determined. Since my oldest knows that we are some of the man in red's helpers at Christmastime, she thinks she knows everything about what she is getting. I don't like that. While I totally understand that this season, in my belief system, is about the birth of the baby Jesus and the light He brought to the world. Whether or not people agree with it, Santa and presents have become part of it. It is a magical time, one that all children of all ages should be allowed to experience. It is heartbreaking that so many children will never know the blessed baby or the jolly old elf, due to family or finances. That is why I have tried to get my children to understand how very fortunate they are and to always be as kind and loving as they can to others and honor the Advent/Christmas season with their actions.

Okay. I'll hop off my soapbox pulpit for the time being and get to the weird meat of the day. I hit the bullseye store to get a few items for my niece and some stocking stuffers. Nothing too difficult. I was determined to find a gift that would not only completely surprise my oldest, but also be something that she would use and enjoy. I went to the music store that I love whose customer service is top notch. Their guy was honest and told me that he just didn't have a lot of what I was looking for and sent me to the Guitar Center. They did not disappoint. The problem was that I was shopping for items that I really knew nothing about. At all. Kind of a problem when you want to take someone by surprise. Luckily, I got a saint disguised as a young bearded hipster drummer guy who answered every idiotic question I had. I also consulted S's drum teacher to ask her opinion. Purchase made? Check. Excited mom? Check. Here is where the happiness died. I walked over to Best Buy to find an inexpensive gift I needed to pick up. Nothing that anyone there would really want to waste their time on helping me with, but I understood that. After a snafu with the box not matching the display price and confusion about what item I wanted, I had a tag and was waiting in line to check with an associate to see if they had any in inventory. Apparently the woman in front of me had not had a good experience there, was angrily standing in line with that shaky jimmyleg going, looking murderous. Someone accidently stepped in front of her and got waited on ahead of her. Then, her switch flipped. I got called over to another vacant line by a manager,but asked her and then begged her to go ahead of me. "Oh NO! Don't you mind me." Lots of heavy breathing, huffing and puffing. Then she threw her potential purchase down o the ground, shot dirty looks all around and stormed out, almost running into the employees loading a 55in screen into a 46 inch trunk. One person in line said, "I hope she doesn't run her car through the store." I wouldn't have put it past her or blamed her. Maybe I should have been focused on her potential return, but I was instead focused on the people trying to force the 55in TV in a space that was not built to take it. They even lost their grip on it, dropped it and then caught it just in the nick of time. It was a nail biting retail experience.

I must go to bed. Tomorrow brings with it the in laws and the Christmas party at church with all the little children up through Kindergarten. They have lots of energy and I need to be at the top of my game. Night all.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Got a little "band"aid tonight

Day two of children's musical programs has come and gone and was quite enjoyable I must say. I love the fact that she is a percussionist and that she enjoys it as much as she does. When I was quite young(actually pre-Jenny years), I think I've told this before, but Walt Disney had a little record called "A Child's Introduction to Melody". My brother and I wore that thing OUT. One of the songs talked about Old McDonald having a saxophone. I hear that thing played by some professional jazz musician and my life was changed forever. I wanted to play that instrument and anything remotely like it. It may sound silly, but it makes me misty to think about that. I played it over and over again. Music has been a major part of my life, one that has given me great joy. My piano teachers, band directors, choir directors, saxophone teacher, etc, have taugh me a lot of things and I am grateful for their part in shaping the way I love music today. My children have been blessed with wonderful influences in their lives. I will never forget the look on S's when she sat through our church's Christmas concert a few years ago and watched our friend, Susannah, play the different percussion pieces for the concert. The look of awe on her face, the delight in seeing one of the "big girls"(there is a 6yr age difference) playing a powerful instrument that made lots of noise and provided a steady beat for the rest of the musicians to follow...I saw myself listening to that record so many years ago. People laugh and say, "Oh HAHAHA!! You have to listen to that noise all day!". First, I grew up with a percussionist brother. I have learned to block things out. Second, I know it will get loud and annoying at time, but third, the look of joy and excitement on her face during the performance? Heavenly. I am grateful for my little drummer girl's "big girl" drummer girl influence and instruction. I can only hope that she can be that person for someone else down the line.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One down...one to go

Tonight my two youngest had their performances for the children's Christmas program at church tonight. I know I am biased, but I so felt the spirit of Advent and Christmas in the voices and messages that the children presented. I love the big church program that they show on TV, I'm in that one(even though I have to look away when I am on the screen). This year's grown up program, with youth and children peppered in, had my two favorite songs of the season and really any season, "O Holy Night" and "Mary Did You Know". I cry like a baby every time those come on and I will to the day I die. But when I see any children singing, but especially my children(as any parent would feel about their own), it is such a sacred and holy moment for me. The honor and responsibility I have of caring for and watching these precious souls grow is so very humbling. With the year G has had, to see her get up there and sing/dance/act with such confidence is the best Christmas present I could ever have. And my sweet boy who is normally such a happy go lucky guy is so very business like and serious with his hands tucked into his pockets and his laser focus on his choir director...classic. There is no doubt he is singing; his annunciation is impeccable, but he is all business. The grown ups who have the responsibility to teach these children are saints in their own way and I am so very grateful for the committment they have made.

S has her band concert tomorrow night and we are excited to see her perform on the various implements of percussion with her bandmates. She is so very excited and will have quite the cheering section to hear her. After that, we will be done with performances and practices for a while. If we can muddle through the last week of school before Christmas, I think we will be good. It is a busy time, but I hope it to be a holy time as well. But for now...I am going to bed.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The repair man is coming, the repair man is coming!!

As I'm sure you all have heard from time to time, "First World Problems", but our garage door has been out of order for several days and it has been a royal pain in the rear. Our front door is old, so it's a crap shoot as to whether it is going to open nicely or not. After all this rain, the wood floor that you step onto is about as safe a the street after an ice storm. Last year I came in that way with wet feet, for some reason, and went into a split that I was neither prepared for nor aware that I was capable of doing. Bambi on the ice had nothing on me. So imagine my delight, or lack of it, when I walked in with bags of cookie making supplies and hit the super slippery wood floor and came about two inches from splitting my pants and spending the holidays with a groin injury and an even crappier attitude than I already have at this point. So when the hub told me that the garage door repair man was coming tonight, my exclamations of joy were heard throughout the land. While the hub is very handy and can fix just about anything, too many youtube videos of people talking about how the garage door fix at their house turned deadly when the big spring let loose and cut somebody's head off or the door went crazy and cut off fingers have made him decide "Billy, don't be a hero" and let the guy do it. I am currently at dance watching S grow increasingly more frustrated at the fact that she does not have good hip and pelvic movement at this point and that becomes an issue when you dance in the big girl class. She's too hard on herself, but then aren't we all. I'm sure it doesn't help that homework and projects abound as the trend at the end of a semester is to jam every possible activity, both educational and extracurricular, into the course of the week right before Christmas break.

Now that I am home, the garage door fix turned into a $65 problem instead of a $500 problem. I can live with that. The kids are in bed, but only after homework was completed, the boy read the entire anthology of "Dick and Jane and Vampires" to us, our friend Bill came to look at G's leg after she got hurt in phys ed today, I baked 96 cookies and 60 pretzel turtles without the pecans and wrapped G's hair in torn strip of bandana to try to achieve some sort of interesting wave in that mass of hair she has. The hub found the remote that has been missing for 3 days and has now saved me from the racist cable access minister that the channel is stuck on when we try to watch the lovely Tearsa Smith on the news each morning but rememeber that the remote is gone and is the only method by which the channel can be changed. Anyhoo, enough about the minutae that is my family life. I am going to bed and sleep as much as possible for the next several days are going to be a whirlwind. Night all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

If you can't say something nice...

Rainy days and Mondays, well, you know. Then when I have a combination of both, um, yuck. I had a disappointing encounter with an official person who has influence in my chilren's lives. That is very vague, but it happened and I am sad. Everybody is human, but I have control over how I react to people being human. Today I chose to get ticked off. One of my children, who is about the coolest kid around in my opinion, just keeps getting knocked around emotionally and it is hard as a parent not to step in every time. Apparently said child is not immune from the crap that adults can't keep to themselves either. Our Christmas break cannot come fast enough...not for the gifts and fancy food, but for the emotional and mental break needed. It will be a good time for Christmas bubble wrap and hugs and rest.

I will try to have a better attitude tomorrow. I'm just going to pipe it for now before I get myself in trouble. Fa la la laaaaa.....

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rainy singing day

Tonight was night one of our church Christmas program. All the days and weeks and hours of work are finally coming together in a show that will be seen on one of our local television stations Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. After a busy morning, I was really ready to take a long rainy Sunday nap, but I had to turn into beautician and try to tame G's thick, THICK hair into a wavy curled coif worthy of television cameras. Hot rollers did their magic...which lasted long enough to get to church and in the building before her hair loosened and lost all of those beautiful curls. Oh well. The program was beautiful. I got teary more than a few times, especially when "O Holy Night" was done in a most lovely way. The children who were singing were sandwiched in between my pew(the handbells) and the parent pew. We had to practice our tough love more than a few times. I think I may have to remove all of the pencils out of the pew. It is amazing how loud doing this on a bulletin is:

Especially when it is done continuosly for ten minutes straight. It sounds like it has a microphone on it...especially right in the middle of "Mary Did You Know". I'm sure I have a new reputation as meanest mom on the pew. Oh well. Not my first time, I'm sure. Another mom resorted to writing the offenders a note telling them to be quiet. To be fair, while good, it is a long time for 3-5 graders to sit and be quiet. I'm 41 years old and I can barely sit still for ten minutes myself.

Tomorrow night will be just as interesting I'm sure. They will have had a full day of school and the concert is 3.5 hours later. Things could get interesting for sure. Either way, the music will be beautiful and the spirit of Advent will be even stronger. Come join us!
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hello, Coy? This here's the Illustrous Potentate...

This morning started on a funny note with a little boy waking us up saying it was "Seven Nine...Time to wake up". We did need to wake up to get the girls to church for choir program practice, but really? We all rushed around, knocked the sleepy cobwebs out of our heads, shoved Honey Nut Cheerios down our gullets and the skedaddled(the girls and I)to church for practice for the big show tomorrow. As often happens when the kids get together in little groups away from the parents, they start hatching plans. After they sang their little tiny piece, they came at us like a pack of wolves. The Fountain City Christmas parade was to start shortly and they wanted to go. Out church was having a float, but there was no way that the kids could get through the traffic to the float in time. So we sat in front of the bank and waited to see friends, acquaintances and many local celebrities who were to be appearing in various classic cars and on floats of all shapes and sizes. Sad news though...the traditional float of Santa wrestling someone in a cage match(last year it was Elvis I believe) was not marching along with the rest this year. Elvis, however, did make an appearance this year singing on a float with the local high school swim team. I do believe he appeared to be the '70's Elvis as best I could tell. It was cold enough, he wasn't wiping off copious amounts of perspiration, but I still think it was him. We saw one of my personal favorites today, the Shriners. They always arrive in style and always makeme start singing Ray Steven's "Shriners' Convention". While he's most known in the south, he has been famous for a long time. This guy here I feel is probably the head of the shrine:

The other shriners were in little minature go cart sports cars.

Loud and entertaining for all. Seeing as how I had not prepared my self or my children to stand out in the cold for the duration of the parade, I walked back to the car in a stiff legged robotic way. The girls had snuggled under a blanket with their friends, so they were fine.

Later I took G to do her shopping for her daddy and siblings with 5,000 of our closest friends at Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Bless her heart, she was so very concerned and considerate about each person's gift. She weighed every option available before making her final decision. I'm an adult, I realize, but even I can only stomach so long in the billfold and purse section before I want to beg a Target team member to let me slip comfortably into the fetal position behind the jewelry counter. Probably a frowned upon practice, but I can't imagine that I would be the first to make that request. Maybe I am. No judgement zone here, friends.

The kids are going to bed early tonight. Tomorrow starts an insane week off with a bang and they need all the sleep they can get...and the hub and I need time to unwind. Maybe have a beverage...with ice cream in it. I know what you were thinking. Have a nice evening. I'll be in a ice warm fetal position soon.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Soggy la la laaaa, we decked the halls

This torrential rain really needs to move on, people. I woke up this morning to the lovely pitter patter sound of rain on the roof. With a half an hour left before the alarm was the blast music at me, I settled back in to get some sleep. When the torrents started, all I could think of was buckets of water puring into the basement and everything floating in a horrible mess. Sooo I got up and made the bed, feeling a sense of dread about going downstairs. After waking up sleepy people, getting myself ready for the day and making sure everyone was on their way to being ready, I sucked it up and went to the dungeon. Thankfully I went down to happily discover that there were no woodworking tools or bins of summer clothes floating at my feet. I put a few things up in case our luck ran out during the day and went up to pour out some Honey Nut Cheerios for the kids. But the rain has continued to pour and dampen my mood to the point of making me hibernate. Today was B's day off, so we did some Christmas shopping and building supply shopping. Riveting, I know. Even the most exciting people have to have a boring day...not that we are exciting people by any stretch of the imagination.

After the kidlets got home and got their school business out of the way, we started to deck the halls. There is a yearly fight over who gets to hang the Christmas Pickle ornament. Luckily after a dinner discussion trying to avoid a picklefight later on in the evening, G was the child chosen to be the pickle caretaker for this year:

She hid it somewhere within the boughs of the tree. I hope her siblings can find it. The evening turned out fine, better than I had expected. I have carried a fair amount of guilt this season already when it comes to the kids. As usual because I am embarrassed about the under construction state of our house, I have not encouraged the kids to invite any friends over for sleepovers or just to hang out. No one to come over and make Christmas cookies with them or watch Charlie Brown find his pitiful tree. Because of my insecurity, they are rarely invited anywhere because, heck, people want someone to reciprocate when it comes to playdates and I totally understand that. We no longer really have a Sunday School class to claim us since I work with the kids on Sundays and the hub is often recruited to be in a Sunday school classroom when we are understaffed. So no Christmas parties, no Christmas events. I'm not whining for an invite...simply stating the reality I have created. So when I heard them speak of friends getting together with disappointment in their voices, I feel crappy. Luckily they enjoyed hearing Christmas music, arguing over who got to put up what ornament, reminiscing about where the came from and singing a little bit as well. There were more smiles than complaints, more giggles than grumps. We have some awfully forgiving children. Talk about blessed.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh BalmyTannenbaum

I started the process of getting the house decorated for Christmas today. This process would have normally started the Saturday after Black Friday, but since it was puke fest over here it had to be delayed. I almost had a Griswold moment when I was trying to put wreaths on the windows this morning. The hook on one of the little suction cups did not want to hold the wreath on the boy's window. It started falling, I went to grab it and had a bit of a Huggies moment when I realized that I was diving for something that was sliding down the roof and crashing to the ground. No fake fir wreath is worth a body cast. Once the wreath was safely in place and my feet were on solid ground, I went to work hanging the stockings. It was a bittersweet moment when I brought out Cosby's wreath. Our first Chirstmas without her will be a quiet one. No sounds of her barking at Santa or chewing her traditional Christmas bone on her new bed. She's in a better place and we all know that.

Enough of the downer. The hub and I took the kids to get the tree this evening. Through the years, we have found ourselves at some pretty shady tree vendors. The tree farm that had half naked mannequins in old junker cars, Frasier Firs in a padlocked chain link dog pen and nudie magazines by the cash register comes to mind. Or the farm that boasted firs at the top of the hill and we drove 2 miles in 4 wheel drive to find that it was all a sham. We did go to a nice tree farm owned by parents' neighbors at the time. They were horitculture and forestry professors and ran a class act farm. Cut your own, Santa appearance, hot chocolate and snacks. We have played it safe the last few years and have gone to the Christmas tree gypsies not far from our house. They have had their own excitement including the owner who staggered over to the hub and asked him to get a gun and shoot him dead so he could get the h&%# out of there. That is the unknown "Deck the Halls" verse that doesn't get a lot of play. We got the tree in mood killing 70 degree weather, took it home and got it home and watered. Tomorrow will bring with it hopefully cooler weather, the decorating and the viewing of our newest holiday DVD, "John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together". Happy holidays everybody!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Instagrammy double whammy

I have officially taken a drink of the Instagram kool-aid. This Advent season, our church is conducting a sort of social media experiment. Each day is assigned a word and people are asked to post on Instagram or Facebook(Twitter might be acceptable as well) a picture that makes them think of that word. Today was "Salvation" and my first attempt at snapping a picture I felt best captured the word. This is a bit of a stretch for me as I have never been one to paint a picture or photograph something somewhat obscure and give it a profound and common name. For example, if someone painted this picture:

and on the tag it says "Persistence", I would have been the one to say to myself, "Huh?". So who am I to take a picture of something, name it and assume that another person would agree with or understand my opinion? No one. BUT, that is the beauty of this season of Advent. It is a time of great anticipation for all of us, waiting and watching for the day when a little baby was born and changed the world forever. But it is also a very personal time for me, finding the beauty, the wonder, the excitement in the journey to the manger. So when I went to the art store, one of my favorite places ever, and saw the rows of beautifully colored pastels and pencils and watercolors and paints, I saw the beautiful light of the world in so many radiant colors. Sorry...my attempt to get deep for a second.

Whatever you do to celebrate or reflect during this season, enjoy the excitement and wonder. The gift we were given is the best one ever...and He was wrapped in cloth and put to bed in a manger....how beautiful is that?

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What IS the frequency, Kenneth?

Today was a big day for me, cough cough. I made a purchase on the work credit card for the first time. Well, a purchase online from Home Depot. I have purchased many things on the internet. I actually should have several interesting things arriving sometime, used children's books to be exact. I'm wild like that. So when I went online to puchase a utility cart, yes, a utility cart from the orange home improvement store, I had no idea that I would emerge and hour and a half later feeling as though a cavity search had just been executed...and I was the recipient. Working where I do, we are a tax exempt organization. One would think that the space provided on the website for this particular ID number would be sufficient to provide proof of a tax exempt status. After three failed attempts and two phone calls later, I felt the need to drink a gallon of water and ready myself for the obligatory urine test that seemed to be the logical next step on the way to purchase a black resin utility cart with which I plan to transport toys and bouncy seats and boppys and crib sheets from one end of the hall to another. I also learned that in order to get a cart that was black vs beige, you have to pay $32.03 extra. Black dye to color the cart costs that much extra. Who knew? Also, even though I am ordering it for my area of work, I am not allowed to pick it up at the store since my name is not on the credit card and I have to have a photo ID that matches the credit card. Good grief. It is not like I bought rare Swatch watches from overseas. It's a utility cart that may have milk or apple juice spilled on it and need to be hosed off outside in the parking lot.

Either way, the cart is ordered. It better be what I ordered or someone else may be drinking a gallon of water in preparation for something....fa la la la laaaaa...la la la la.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Power of positive thinking

Once again I am faced with a funny tummy and praying for a false alarm. My lunch choice was not the best decision. I won't tell you what it was, but it involved Thanksgiving leftovers and could be described as the poor girl's Friends "Moist Maker". If you haven't had the pleasure of viewiing that particular episode, you must...it is "The One with Ross's Sandwich". I am hoping that my brain is particularly open to suggestion at this point. The boy came home with reports of his teacher and three+ classmates succumbing to the stomach virus over Thanksgiving Break. I got to spend two plus hours with them the Tuesday before Turkey Day and, of course, got many a hug and secret whispered into my ear. So the combination of yet another puke report and a "Moist Maker" gone bad has hopefully just turned my stomach for the evening.

As I sit here typing, I am also helping G with long division. Anyone who knows me well at all is probably laughing with great gusto at this point in their day. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Truth be known, our oldest surpassed my math knowledge when she graduated from elementary school. Yes, I do have a college degree that required some trig/calculus and a senior level statistics class. I did what I had to do to pass the class (study/tutor/copious amounts of flash cards) and then lost every bit of that information two minutes post exam...never to be accessed again. As I have discussed previously, several female classmates and I had a little crush on our professor and made sure we got to every extra study session. The crush ended when we found out he was married and had heroically delivered his newborn baby on the side of the highway, along with a friendly and helpful truckdriver. I pulled a solid B+ in Zachary Stoumbos's Statistics class. He was a wonderful professor who passed away from leukemia at the young age of 44. He made the class almost enjoyable for a numbers hater like me. For that, I am etermally grateful. Got kind of deep there going from long division to former college professors. But the truth is that when you find the right person to teach you information that is difficult for you personally, it makes all the difference. I hope my children find those people early and are able to develop a healthy respect for subjects that may not be their favorites.

Enough of that. The evil Moist Maker is wearing off, I think, and I believe she finished her math homework without shedding any tears. That's a check in the win column as far as I am concerned. Now to get them settled down for the night and try to stay awake long enough to see Red's fate on the fall finale of The Blacklist. We'll see.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

A day off...well, not really

Today was my first Sunday off since probably May when we went to the world of the mouse for our vacation...boy I'd like to be back at that resort for another break. Anyway, we certainly have not been there recently in any way shape or form here recently. We all woke this morning later than usual, but somewhat rested. The mini hibernation was definitely needed. The hub woke with a weak, but renewed outlook on life. Mean wife that I am, I employed him, once he felt ready, to be in charge of the transport of all sick person clothes, blankets and sheets to the basement and into the washer. I soaked everything with Lysol and wiped down with everything else. The comforter has been put outside to air and sheets have been sanitzed. We will have no hot water for showers tonight, but those sheets will be clean. S and I have yet to succumb and I hope we can keep it that way. I will still make her go to bed with her hair up and a trash can by her side. Go ahead and call me paranoid. I will wear that title proudly.

As I write, te boy and G are riveted to an episode of Good Eats on how to make crackers. I think the episode on Phyllo dough is next on the schedule. Anything that teaches them a love for food and the science behind it is okay by me. Local celebrity sighting of the day: I saw our favorite radio personality, Frank Murphy, at our local Kroger today. Star struck as usual, I went up to reintroduce myself. I was very pleaed that he recognized me from our last meeting two years ago. He remembered the date and place and sent his best to the hub A class act he is as always. It of course never fails that I see one of our favorites plus several people from church when I run out in my grub pants and shirt, covered at least by my nice coat. I know I looked like one of those poor kids who escaped from the Temple of Doom, squinting and blinded by the sun that I had not seen in several days. Luckily I was just escaping from the sick house and not child labor by a heart ripper outer in a cave. I digress. Pray the stomach health holds. We really need a string of healthiness for a while. Really need it.

Time to go boil some noodles, peel some bananas and have some applesauce. Bland diets for the patients. Yum.

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