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The Royal Wedding – Family Style

If, like me, your invitation to the Royal Wedding has been held up in the mail, fear not!  As was his mother’s wedding, the marriage of Prince William to the lovely but common Kate Middleton will be intensely covered on just about every channel you can tune into on your television.

While there are some people who, gasp, don’t care about the wedding and all the hoopla surrounding it, I shall be sitting in my living room, wearing my fuzzy slippers, wrapped in my Cinderella bathrobe, glued to the television.  And even though the events begin at 4 A.M., I think I’ll have the girls up to celebrate with me!

Sort of like an Un-Slumber party, the morning events here in South Jersey will go something like this:

Make Your Own Royal Wedding Hat:

Using any type of hat you want, this is a good chance to clean out your craft closet!  Have the kids glue old beads, faux gems, and feathers onto a plain baseball cap, straw hat, or even a foam hat or visor from the craft store.  And don’t worry how ridiculous they look – you’ll fit right in on the big day!

Wedding Cake Cupcakes:

So, you’re not gonna want to get the kidlets all sugared up at 4 in the morning, because let’s face it, the plan is for them to fall asleep when the wedding is over, so you can catch up on your own beauty rest!  Instead of the “real deal” wedding cake, try these delicious Breakfast Cupcakes:


16 slices bacon
1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
8 eggs
Salt and pepper, if desired


1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 10-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat about 4 minutes or until cooked but not crisp, turning once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.) Set aside.

2. Spray 8 jumbo muffin cups or 8 (6-oz) glass custard cups with cooking spray. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Place 1 biscuit in each muffin cup, pressing dough three-fourths of the way up sides of cups. Place 2 bacon slices in each biscuit cup, and crack an egg over each. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until egg whites are set. Run a small knife around cups to loosen. Serve immediately.

Paper Princess:

Disney helps get you into the wedding day spirit with the Kate Middleton Princess paper doll!  Print out this adorable doll – and the familiar princess gowns to dress her up in, as you wait in breathless anticipation to see what the royal bride actually will wear on her wedding day!

How to make paper dolls

Family Crest:

For the boys in the family, who will be much more difficult to convince that their presence is commanded at the Royal event unless you can promise them that Godzilla will be fighting the Transformers on the steps of Westminster Abbey, you can let them custom make their own family crest – again, courtesy of Disney!

How to make your Family Crest for kids

Enjoy the festivities, enjoy the day, and don’t forget to get some sleep!  You might meet your own prince and enjoy a fairytale wedding in your dreams!

Surrounded by Strong Women – Thank Goodness!

One week ago today, just around 11 in the morning, my father-in-law called to tell me they had just put my mother-in-law in an ambulance.  They thought she had a stroke, and I could hear the fear and concern in his voice.  I finished my phone call and promptly burst into tears.

After four days in ICU and one in her own regular room, they sent her home.  I should have known with each tear I shed that she’d be okay.  She is one tough woman, who has already survived being hit by a truck, a pacemaker, artificial knees and hips.  Of course she was going to be okay – she is an incredibly strong woman.  She’s raised three sons, left school very young, got married at 17, and she has been a wonderful grandmother.  Of course, she’d be okay.

And then I started to think about my own mom, my sisters, my step-mom – I seem to be surrounded by women who take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.  These are women that you’d want standing beside you, no matter what you were facing.

My own mom has worked hard for as long as I can remember.  She was the most loved crossing guard in the city of Philadelphia, and I have to admit, I used to get a little jealous when the other kids would run over to her on the corner and give her hugs and kisses!  After years of standing out in the cold, wind, and rain, she went to work as a toll collector – where she worked in a booth in the cold, wind, and rain.  But, even as a toll collector, she had her “regular” customers – people who sought her out on the bridge in the morning.  People love her.  Her grandchildren adore her.

She has spent the last two years fighting for every breath, as she suffers from COPD.  But she remembered every one of my girls’ birthdays – even when she was in the hospital or in rehabilitation for a broken back or a weakened body.  She made sure we had the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of Easters, and the best of all days in between.  She gets knocked down, but, well, you know the rest – she gets right back up again.

My sister Meg is my hero.  She was the first one of us to go to college and finish with a degree, even though she’s the youngest.  She’s always had a strong will and a determination that never quits.  She has devoted friends because she is one.  She is well respected because she gives respect.  And she has come through being blindsided with the vision to see the good that was already in her life.  She’s damn cool, and I’m so proud of her.

Megan and Mommy

My stepmom is a rock.  Coming through her own devastating divorce, she found the ability to open her heart to my dad, a man who was already battling health issues related to his diabetes.  She was a staunch supporter, his healthcare advocate, and the one thing he needed in his life more than air or water.  On top of taking care of my dad until his last breath, she cared for her grandmother, her mother, and now her sister.  She spent more than 40 years working to build a wonderful life, and has become a fabulous stepmother, an awesome grandmom, and a fantastic friend.

For myself, I hope to become half the woman that these amazing women are.  For my daughters, I hope that by surrounding them with women who have the strength to move mountains and the knowledge that being called “bitch” is a compliment, they’ll know they can do anything, be anything, and carry on the mountain moving legacy.  Thank God for these women in my life – for my sake and my girls’.

One Year to Disney – Great Blog, Great Giveaways!

You know me – it’s all about Disney 🙂  I came across this blog through Facebook, mostly because they are always giving away some really cool stuff – including the latest giveaway of an embroidered Disney-fied tote bag – how wicked awesome are you going to look headed to the beach with something like this?

Sample of beach tote – contents not included in prize

You can head on over to this page http://tinyurl.com/43wxjqm to enter the contest yourself, but PLEASE take time to read some of the blog!  You’ll find not only the great giveaways, but all kinds of other money saving tips.  Who can’t use tips on how to save money?


Remember Easter Baskets?

We were some damn lucky kids.  Not only did my mom go to some of the best candy stores in Philadelphia to get us delicious homemade chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, she and my Grandmom Fee would put together the Easter baskets.  Grandmom Fee was the poor man’s version of Martha Stewart – she could recycle anything and craft it into something amazing.  Our Easter baskets were festooned with ribbons, cotton ball chicks, bows, bunnies, and elaborate Easter decorations.  People from all over the neighborhood would come to see the amazing baskets, and drool over the mountains of candy my mom piled inside – with the centerpiece being a coconut cream egg with our names on them.

But that was when candy was still okay to give to children.

When I had children, candy became an outlaw.  Never would something sweetened with corn syrup and loaded with artificial colors and flavors cross the lips of my precious children.  It would be only organic produce, healthy foods, and definitely nothing that tastes better rock hard and stale than soft and sugar covered for my girls.

But you know what that did?  That took a $20 or $30 per kid Easter basket – with GOOD candy – to an Easter basket that almost contains the same dollar amount of goodies that Santa brings on Christmas.

Included in our Easter baskets in order to spare our children a lifetime of dental woes and diabetes:

  • Books
  • DVDs
  • spring clothes
  • Easter pajamas (any pajamas with bunnies/chicks/or, in lieu of bunnies and chicks, monkeys)
  • craft kits
  • outdoor toys for spring and summer
  • sidewalk chalk
  • and when they are Brighid’s age, and too old for sidewalk chalk and craft kits, gift certificates to buy something so she won’t feel bad when the other kids have more in their baskets than she does

What the hell?

God bless Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution.  I love him, and I completely support him in his efforts to make our children healthy and our population less obese.  But it’s nearly to the point that I need to take a loan out to fill the Easter baskets!

It’s once a year, and I don’t think a few jelly beans are going to harm my children.  Honestly.  And while I want them to know the lesson of the real meaning of Easter, I want them to also know the joy of an Easter egg hunt, where the eggs are filled with sweet treats that don’t break the bank, as opposed to slips of paper promising trips to the movies or the zoo during Easter break.

Save me.  Tell me what you put in your kids’ baskets that keeps you from bankruptcy – both financially and nutritionally!


Bounce U Birthday Palooza

Yesterday, my baby turned six.  There’s something in turning six that makes me a bit weepy – it’s sort of like the 30 of childhood.  When I think “five”, I think preschool/kindergarten, baby.  When I think “six”, it sounds more like real school, growing up, and all the other things moms dread about their babies growing up.  It’s a big number for me.

To celebrate, we let Granuaile choose her birthday party.  For a while, it had been that she wanted a party exactly like the last birthday party she had been to – whether it was a gymnastics party, a pottery party, or a karate party, if she had recently been to it, that’s the type of party she wanted.  Then she seemed to settle on Bounce U.  Even after going to subsequent birthday parties, the party she went to at Bounce U remained her favorite, so we settled on that for her party.

The day we went to book the party, the place was a mad house.  It was mobbed, kids running and screaming all over, parents wondering why on the list of beverages they offer they don’t add things like “tequila”, “vodka”, and “rum punch”. We asked about times available for Granuaile, and we were given a choice of four different times.  Because she wanted “cosmic bounce” – meaning the lights are off and they have glowy, cosmicy things – we thought a night time party would work better – plus, it would wear the kids out so they’d go home to bed.  Fabulous idea.

The party was a big success.  Granuaile had a blast, we had only one minor injury – and he bounced back very quickly, and even some of the moms took a ride on the big slide!

Here’s the party recap in pictures:

Extreme Couponing – a Happier Side to Hoarding??

I may not be the best person to comment on extreme couponers.  I am the polar opposite of an extreme couponer because I do not clip coupons.  Maybe that’s why I don’t get it?

I used to cut coupons – I really tried.  I’d buy the paper each Sunday, and go through the sections, cutting out coupons for new products, products we never tried, products that I try not to buy.  It seemed that none of the stuff I ever actually used had coupons, but I’d happily head into the store with a pocket full of discounts, only to come home with food my kids hated, food I wasn’t proud serving, and toothpaste that tasted like butt and no one would use.  I never saw the value of couponing – at least for my family.

Plus, I’m just not that organized.

But when I’m watching these coupon clippers and their euphoric highs, I half feel like I’m watching an episode of Hoarders.  These happy housewives are proudly showing off their stash of deodorant – all of which they obtained for free using coupons – but half of which will still be in their garages long after the apocalypse.  Who needs that much deodorant?

Or how about candy bars?  I saw an episode where a couple of coupon clippers filled a quarter of their grocery cart with candy bars – but they were free or very nearly free.  I wouldn’t even know where to put that many candy bars once I got them home.  I’d be making candy bouquets, making Snickers soup in the crock pot, and putting them in the collection basket at Church just to get them out of my house.

One episode had a woman who proudly showed off her diaper mountain – enough diapers to keep a baby dry and happy for 18 months of it’s life.  Except, the woman didn’t actually have any children.  But who can pass up a deal, right?  That same couponer packed a shopping cart filled with Maalox – maybe the week before she scored big on cans of spicy bean dip?

There seems to be a thin line between collecting bottles of salad dressing until you could supply every salad bar in the free world with an assortment of dressings for six months and hoarding cats.  Are these people more “okay” because cat pee smells?

While I appreciate immensely the ability to feed a family of five for a month on $6.00, like one woman featured on this show, how much fresh foods are these people feeding their families?  Are there coupons for oranges and bananas?  Fresh salad or vegetables?  And where the hell would these people put 27 crates of bananas?

More power to you if you can use coupons to your advantage.  In this economy, we could all use a bit of a break now and again from the outrageous cost of things.  Heaven knows that at some point, we may get to where it costs more to put fuel in our cars than food in our families’ tummies, so if you can do it more cheaply, go for it.

But really?  It seems like the term “extreme” applies to more than just couponing here.

The Bat Wing/Back Fat Post Op Update

You have to love a man who tells you that he knows you will heal as he’s snipping nasty bits off flesh off of your body.  That is, indeed, optimism at it’s finest.

And those of you who went through the surgical journey with me last year might recognize that little piece of machinery pictured above.  It’s a wound VAC, and it may once again become part of my wardrobe essentials.

The one big spot on my back is still a big spot.  The other two little spots on the other side really weren’t little spots  -they were hiding a deeper issue.  If you can envision a pair of sunglasses, with the nose piece holding the two lenses together, that’s kind of what the wound looked like.  Today, we opted (okay, maybe the me part of “we” wasn’t as enthusiastic about this choice) to snip the nose piece section, and a small cavern opened up.  A wound VAC may be what we need to speed healing in those two areas on my back.

We are still not sure what caused my incisions to open.  I may not have been the most compliant patient, but I think there’s something else going on.  My age might have an impact; or perhaps not paying close enough attention to protein in my diet.  I’ve sworn off of Twinkies, so maybe I’m not getting enough preservatives in my diet, either?

Whatever it is, it looks like we are in this for the long haul once again.  Fortunately, I have remained infection free – which is awesome news!  I am armed with all of the most important tools to see this through – faith, trust, pixie dust, a wonderful doctor, and amazing friends and family.

Fasten your seatbelts, my friends.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

The Real Birthday Party Stress

As a parent planning a birthday party, you know it isn’t easy.  I remember when I was a kid, it seemed like it meant just cake and ice cream at your house, and the whole neighborhood of kids would come over, and it was a fun afternoon.  Now it means party planners, caterers, and party locations all the kids in the class will enjoy.

But the biggest stress for me in planning a birthday party is the RSVP situation.  Granuaile’s birthday party this year is in six days, and with the RSVP deadline looming in less than 48 hours, I have only gotten 2 – count ’em – TWO RSVPs.  I’ve sent out about 20 invitations.  Yes, my fellow party planning parents, panic has set in.

I don’t want to be obnoxious and start calling people.  And I am definitely second guessing my decision to have the party at 7:30 on a Saturday night.  My thinking was that because she wanted a Cosmic birthday party (where the lights are out and everything glows), it would be cool to do it at night; and on a Saturday night, the kids could go straight from the party, home to bed.  Or maybe it’s the location?  Granuaile has attended two parties at this place, and she loves them and insisted on her party being here.  Now I wonder if I should have talked her out of it.

It doesn’t take much time to RSVP to an invitation.  I always include my email address for the phone-a-phobes like myself, and I put our phone number for those people who are doing their paperwork and going through mail in the car line at school (yeah, that’s me).  So I’m not sure why people don’t RSVP.

Of course, I can say this with just a little bit of smugness, as the invitations that have been sitting on my desk have all been RSVPd to in the past couple of days.  But maybe I’m a dying breed?

So, with less than a week away, do we think of rescheduling the much anticipated by Granuaile birthday party, or be obnoxious and make phone calls?

Next year, I’m so just taking them to dinner and a movie on their birthdays!


My Own Post-Op Recovery Guide

I’ve learned a lot about recovering from surgery in the past few years – as I am now a veteran of three c-sections; gallbladder removal; gastric bypass; bowel obstruction; tummy tuck; and brachioplasty.  There are some comfortable surgeons riding around in luxury cars thanks in small part to my health insurance.

I have yet to walk into one of these surgical offices, though, and have them give me a real life guide to what you need to know in recovery.  I’ve compiled a short list myself of the things you need to know.  Consider these specific to my recent surgery, where the use of my arms and back has been restricted, but feel free to apply these lessons to any surgical recovery:

Drying your hair –

You’ve just spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery so that you’ll look your best.  Good luck with that, honey, because for the next few weeks, the back of your head is gonna look like a nest of rats lives there.  You won’t be able to reach to dry your hair, properly brush your hair, or even scrunch your hair so it looks like you intentionally want your hair to look like a rat’s nest.  Invest in a wig.

Smacking your husband –

You know you’re gonna have to do it – because husbands have just a certain way about them that irritates the crap out of you at a time when you least need your crap to be irritated.  He’ll make fun of the hair you can’t properly fix, or he’ll laugh at you as you are trying to squeeze your swollen, uncomfortable self into something cute and slightly sexy, so you at least feel somewhat human.  The temptation will be there, and I understand.  You want to haul off and smack him, as hard as you can, preferably into an unconsciousness that will last until you are totally healed.

Stop right there, girlfriend.  Hauling off and smacking your husband is going to be more pain than it’s worth – seriously.  You risk opening up your incisions, and that could get ugly.  Don’t do it.  Instead, spike his drink with a bit of your pain meds, and hopefully, that will knock him out long enough for you to get some peace and quiet.

And Speaking Of –

Let me take this opportunity to recommend a conversion to an all liquid, no waste diet.  Attending to the, ummmm, necessary routines of hygiene have just become outrageously difficult, and the aforementioned ass of a husband will either flat out refuse to assist you in your post lavatory needs or make fun of you mercilessly.  As we’ve already determined, smacking him is not an option.  I opted to, ummm, hold it in until I could attend to things myself.  Perhaps investing in a bidet??

It doesn’t matter how good your insurance is –

Visiting nurses will not come to your house and help you to apply your eye makeup.  And – go figure – the emergency room doesn’t consider this OBVIOUS emergency to be an OBVIOUS emergency – even if you tell them it’s the new LashStash mascara from Sephora.  And believe me, if you’re like me, it takes a while to cake all that makeup on your eyes to hide the wrinkles and dark circles, and your arms get tired while they’re bandaged.  Skip Sephora and head for Sunglass Hut.  What you can’t see in the mirror won’t bother you nearly as much.

Cherish Your Children –

I have to thank my girls for being so helpful these past few weeks.  Eilis made dinner last night by herself, and Granuaile is always throwing on her apron to help out with things in the kitchen.  Of course, you know they aren’t doing it out of the kindness of their hearts – they’re hoping there’s a puppy in this as a reward…