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Monday, September 8th, 2014 07:06 pm
I declare victory. Scott, I, and Ian all liked tonight's chicken taco soup. (Drew didn't, but he tried it, so.) So I record it and shared it.

1 can low sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed.
1 can low sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1/4 cup McCormick original taco seasoning.
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks.
1 can creamed corn.
2-3 cups water.

If preparing ahead of time, take everything but the water, seal inside a gallon freezer bag appropriately labeled, and freeze.

Thaw overnight, and drop in the crockpot - adding the water. Cook on low for ten hours. (May be done sooner - we were gone for long enough that it needed to be ten hours.)

If you're not freezing it, it probably won't need to cook as long and/or you could cook on high, but otherwise I assume about the same results/steps.

You may want to add a bit of salt - it's on the light side for salt, though I found it quite tasty.
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Saturday, September 6th, 2014 12:18 pm
It's very easy to never have enough time - anyone who lives in this day and age, parent or not, knows that. There is always something that needs to be done around the house; something extra you could do at work; some obligation you've stepped into and need to step up to.

This week, Drew started kindergarten. They started half the kids Tuesday, half Wednesday, then everyone was in on Thursday - so Drew had Wednesday off.

I took Wednesday off work, and I chose to have time. It was hard, actually. I wanted to get laundry done; that didn't happen until Wednesday night, and only one load. I wanted to clean the house - well, hopefully the gaming group (which is used to clutter anyway; our house is never truly clean) will forgive me that the clutter was worse than normal. Irritatingly, I failed to wrap a birthday present (although it was still delivered to the recipient, who seemed to like it).

What did I do instead? I made _memories_. I puttered about a bit in the morning while Drew watched a couple short videos, but after that we went to the Children's Museum - for longer than we normally do. He played outside in the water quite a lot. He played at the train table, and in the forest hallway, and he laughed and he grinned and he was friendly with and kind to random kids younger than him. He was, in short, happy and awesome. We ate lunch there (almost never do I do that: it's a decent cafe, but _really spendy_, because captive audience). Then we played some more.

We left, and we went grocery shopping. Drew did not think that was awesome, but we really needed some stuff, and our day needed some reality.

After that? We packed up and went to the water park, where he ran happily through the fountains and down the streams and had a grand time. He got too cold, so we got him dried off and dressed and went to the playground nearby, where he ran and played and was friendly with a girl about Ian's age (he basically treated her like Ian, and she responded by refusing to do what she didn't want to, which is what Ian does, so everyone was pleased, more or less), and went on the slide about a bazillion times, and ran around like crazy.

And then we went and picked Ian up from day care, and had dinner, and all that stuff.

I remember the joy on his face. I remember the laughter. I remember walking through the park in the warm but not sweltering air and the incredibly blue sky and the trees and the light breeze ruffling the leaves. I remember the water reflecting the sun in two very different play areas. I remember Drew standing in a hole in the middle of the train table that's supposed to be - when it has its inset - a lake. I remember *contentment*.

All too often, I get harried and hurried and I forget to make time, to choose to have time.

Wednesday was awesome.
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Thursday, August 28th, 2014 06:57 pm
A revision of our road construction map: behind a cut, because image )

The red section is still closed and will be until October 21 according to their current estimates. The blue section is where there will be street that wasn't there before.

The orange section is no longer ACTIVELY being worked, and the steel plate has been removed. The square, 3-4 feet on a side, that it covered, however, is not fully filled in, but is sunken several inches...and has been left that way for a week or more. Apparently that's our new reality. It COMPLETELY fills the lane of travel, the right lane of Courtside, at that intersection. It's not dangerous except to very low cars and maybe motorcycles/bikes, but it's annoying and no one wants to go through it. So we go around. I figure it's only a matter of time before that causes an accident.

Tonight, hopefully not for too long, they closed Town Center Loop between Courtside and the Wilsonville Road. That is the purple spot on the map...and meant we couldn't head home that way and I had to loop around a long way to get back. Fun! Anyway, the closure at Courtside blocks the right lane inbound to the neighborhood, so they had a flagger there moving us through since it was one car at a time.

Maybe they'd just like to close our neighborhood?? Seriously, why could whatever they are doing on Town Center Loop there not have been done earlier this month _before_ Vlahos closed at least?

Ah well. If worst comes to worst, we can park in the next neighborhood over (NO shared roads) and walk in on the trail that crosses the wetlands. And the fact that I even briefly consider that is sign of how stressful/annoying this is, but I didn't know until I got alllll the way back around the loop whether or not Courtside WAS open, since I couldn't see that far from the block between the Wilsonville Road and Town Center Loop.

I know, road construction season, but this is a wee bit ridiculous. :P

At least I'm getting good stories out of it?
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 05:55 pm
I hesitate to share this, given what it says about my house, but enh. It's hilarious.

Friday, we cleaned the laundry room, including sweeping and scrubbing the floor. That room has a kitty litter box, and their food and water, besides the laundry stuff.

Tonight Ian helped me move a load of laundry to the dryer. But only after stopping two steps into the room to exclaim "The floor is gone!"
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 05:45 pm
Well, okay, a piece of code is kicking my behind from here to tomorrow at work. (Hopefully no further. I need to make it behave and move on!)

But aside from that, so far so good. REALLY busy weekend, but fun.

Saturday:

Swim lessons, 9 am.

Then off to the Children's Museum where the Garage room (formerly 6+ years old only) is now open to all ages WITH parental supervision. I thought the boys would love it. They walked in, looked around, Drew said he was going to make a puppet and changed his mind, and they walked out. LOL. But they had a blast in the other rooms they went to, and it was a good time. Plus there's now a piano out front "feel free to play" and they did (unharmoniously, of course). (Neither is interested in piano lessons - at least yet - I did offer. But it's fun to push the keys anyway.)

Then on to our friend N's to celebrate his 50th birthday with gaming (and food and gifts, but lots of gaming). I played a game of Pandemic. We, um, failed to save the world. But only barely! We stopped three of the four pandemics. LOL. Scott and I wanted to stay longer but the boys were absolutely done, so we left. Just in time to dash to open swim! So we did, and had a blast.

Sunday we went to the Rennaissance festival for a couple hours. It's a pretty weak one, in that it's sort of a mix of things that fit and things that don't, and it's pretty small. But we got a good deal. It would have been more fun if the weather hadn't been so hot, but last year it _poured_ rain on us and at least this year we were not soaking wet! Got to see Cast In Bronze perform (omg awesome) and miscellaneous other fun. I would have liked to see more shows through, but the boys didn't really want to stay still for a whole show, and so it goes.

I got the most gorgeous hair ornaments there. I wasn't going to, but Scott talked me into them. I'm not sure how often I will wear them - but I really like them. So we'll see. :)

Scott was mourning after that, that he can no longer find his period-appropriate hat which he loved. It should be somewhere in the house, but if it is, it's totally missing. He'd been looking at the festival for another, but they didn't have one he liked. Well, I hunted up one online that I think he will like, and it's on its way. (I asked him, he agreed and said to surprise him, so.)

And my latest order of Goat Milk Stuff's soap is here. And the tomatoes are still doing well.

And tomorrow, maybe I'll get that problem bit of code back in line.

Oh, and our road's now closed where it joins the main road, until some time in October. The other path out isn't too bad as long as they're not working on that corner, though. I'll be glad when they've completely finished that, because right now it's kind of un-fun if I have to go through it when they're there.
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Friday, August 15th, 2014 12:42 pm
We live on a dead-end road in a tiny neighborhood. We have two routes out to the main street - and no other routes out at all. Our best route is to follow our road to the street. Our second best meanders through the rest of the neighborhood.

Hang on, visual behind the cut )

So. We live where it says "Us" and you can see it's a fairly dense neighborhood (I didn't label the apartments and condominiums not off our street, but you can find them if you look).

The blue line? They are extending another street to meet ours. (Actually, it will *become* the street there and ours will T into it, but close enough.) Which means that for 6-8 weeks, the red section will be closed.

Fun times! Now we have only one route out - meandering through the neighborhood.

But, yesterday and today, there is additional construction work at the orange corner (between us and the rest of the neighborhood), so we have to wait for a flagger to get through.

And even better, also yesterday/today, the senior center closest to the red line is having their PARKING LOT resurfaced...so all the cars are street parked.

I don't see how the garbage truck could make it in or out today, it literally could not fit. (Maybe by Monday it'll be better? I hope? That's when they actually come for the houses, though the senior centers and apartments have their own pickup schedule....) It's amazingly ridiculous.

I can live (not without some whining, I suspect) with the 6-8 weeks of meandering. But the "I have a channel home that is at times barely as wide as my car" part is getting pretty stressful. :P
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Sunday, August 10th, 2014 01:25 pm
Oh man I am stuffed. Happily. The kids mostly ate the rice (Drew) and olives/pineapple (Ian), but both tried the chicken, and Ian at least said 'yum' and liked the spicing. Scott and I loved it.

Recipe, in case anyone wants it )

And enough leftovers for me to have a couple lunches this week from it (one wrap in a tortilla - yes, I'm weird - and one salad with a side of the dish cold), plus probably another meal's worth of rice (for Drew) and meat/sauce/whatever (for Scott and I, with olives for the boys).

...yes, really, it went that fast. Inhale-worthy. Though if I weren't cooking for the boys, I'd be really tempted to omit the black olives. They don't hurt the flavor, but they're not adding much ... except for making the small ones even try the meal. Which is a lot. (And no one even noticed the onion in the end result, which is IMO the way onion should be - adding to the whole and keeping quiet about it. :)
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Sunday, August 10th, 2014 12:35 pm
One of my friends linked to The Real Reason Why Kids Fidget (an article in the Huffington Post).

Honestly, kids have energy. Who is surprised by this? I'm happy if they don't dismantle my house.

This morning, it was heading that way, so I took them to the 'walking park', the neighborhood park nearest us. It's 4/10 of a mile away, and its tile is in scare quotes because actually there are four parks I'd classify as being within walking distance of us - this is just the closest.

The others are 8/10 of a mile for another neighborhood park, walking only (there's a trail in there - so it's longer by car), 7/10 of a mile for the water park by the Korean War Memorial, or 0.9 miles to the upper part of Memorial Park (1.1-1.2 for the lower part). The upper part of Memorial Park has both a water feature and the playground with the enormous slide, so.

We are blessed. Especially because small children have - as I started out saying - a LOT of energy. Drew _ran_ all the way to the walking park, stopping when I called out (because I couldn't see him again) for him to wait, and stopping for streets that needed to be crossed. Ian ran a little ways and then walked the rest. And then both went wild on the playground. Using curbs as balance beams, climbing all over the play structure, bouncing on the teeter totter, swinging on their stomachs, and SOMEHOW talking ME into a wild game of tag. The only one tired at the end of that was...ME.

I did text Scott to come get us, but that was because Ian wanted to stay and Drew wanted to go. As it turned out, when Drew realized that if he played any longer he'd be _walking_ back with Dad, who wasn't tired, he decided he could go home with us in the car, so we all drove back. :)

Drew also said, as we were going over, "Mom, know what happens when I use up all my energy? Poof, I get more!" Said with a fountaining-up-from-the-head gesture with his hands.

Yes, Drew. I know. Trust me, I know. :)
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Monday, August 4th, 2014 08:15 pm
http://www.livejournal.com/support/faq/350.html

But they're not becoming Facebook. No really.

Luckily, I don't think most people care about that 'feature', and I pay no attention to what's there anyway, but ... wow.
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Monday, August 4th, 2014 08:06 pm
No, seriously...I don't need to know about kids who died in hot cars in other states. It doesn't help my life in any way, and there is nothing I can do to help with that problem. I certainly need to know about the risks and not to leave my kids in hot cars, but a) I know that and b) the sad stories don't really help.

I don't need to know about a great number of things the news tells me about. I need to know about things that affect my life or that I might be able to help with. (For example, when they were looking for a local woman who had done something fairly horrible - I will skip the details, because you don't need to know them! - having everyone aware just in case they saw her was important. Now that they've captured her, having us know not to keep an eye out, also useful. But do I really care about further coverage of what she did and the court process? NO I DON'T. Unless someone sets up a fund for a particular person...that I would want to know about.)

I also don't need to know about the feel-good humanitarian stories, but I don't mind those because they give something, if only the light pleasure of knowing there's still good in the world. Individual horror stories that can't be changed or addressed, and don't personally affect me other than by existing on the news, however, neither give me anything, nor permit me to give anything.

I wish there were not quite so MANY of them in the local headlines right now. I am tired of being tired. (SIX out of 10 leading stories at the moment. And you could make a case for one more, but I think it's more irrelevant than directly bad...but it wouldn't be IN the news if the woman at the center of the non-news hadn't been at the center of another story in prior years....)

Bleh.
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Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 05:49 pm
The boys are now registered for swim lessons next session - going in person as soon as registration opened worked nicely, I got exactly the slots I most wanted so that my schedule won't be insanity. :) And they had fun at swim lessons and open swim.

My new prescription swim goggles are in and I'm very pleased with them - they do what I'd hoped for and they do it well. And the frames we wanted to try for my new glasses came in, I tried them on, and I love them. Lenses are now ordered, so I wait again, for those as well as a backup pair I ordered at one of the cheap online sites. I think the latter will be acceptable for a backup pair, but I distinctly went cheap on the options and they wouldn't be my first choice for anything else. That's not the point for them. :)

Laundry, kitchen cleaning, dishes, care for the vegetables - all done. I picked all the carrots; they aren't doing well in these containers, and the other things in with them will do better with them out.

Yesterday was Fun in the Park also, and we did have fun. Drew got a balloon sword, Ian got a balloon cat, both got cotton candy. Ian tried chicken teriyaki and liked it, which was kind of neat. I would have preferred to spend more time on things I instead went right by, but in all honesty, not much time all the same.

Today, the boys went with Scott to the zoo while I got stuff done around the house (at my request!). Then we went to the library, where they turned in their summer reading program and got to pick free books and science experiment kits, and got (rather nice, really) packets of coupons/freebies. Being small and indulged is apparently good for your ability to snag treats.

And I almost finished reading a book! _Cast In Flame_. I will finish it tonight, I swear I will. :) And then I will sulk because the sequel isn't out yet, if history is any judge.
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Sunday, July 27th, 2014 09:07 am
First, thank you God and thank you all of you who prayed or thought of us or just expressed that you cared. Uncle Dick's melanoma was successfully removed and contained, and he was officially declared cancer-free on Thursday. He has some rehab to go through because of where things had to be removed, but that beats cancer by a great deal.

Parenting moments:

The boys needed new shoes. (Ian destroyed one pair, and the other pair was getting too small. Drew's last pair was coming apart at the toes.) So we got them new shoes...and I about melted, because after Drew picked out the Bumblebee transformers shoes, Ian got the same shoes in his size. (They were one of the three he was already looking at.) Small kids being hard on shoes, we usually get them two pairs. I was going to get the second pair rather more cheaply than the store we were in, but Drew begged very sweetly for a second pair there - Star Wars with light sabers and a light saber noise. So Ian got a second pair and picked police sneakers with flashing lights.

This wasn't deliberately a reward for swimming, but since it was right after swim lessons it may have been taken that way. Both boys have advanced a level! Drew to Water Safety 3, Ian to Advanced Parent-Tot 2. There's only two sessions of APT2 that suit our schedule, so he may have to go to APT1 again anyway, but I'll try to avoid that. Which is to say I'll be at the swim school when registration opens, next Saturday morning at 7 am, and will likely have been waiting a little while. Ugh. Well, so it goes. This is the only session likely to be that way for quite a while - Ian will graduate out of APT2 based on age, and move into either water safety 2 or 3 depending on what his teacher says, both of which have a lot more time slots.

Me and health:

I've had my annual eye exam and my prescription is the same and my retinas are fine. I'm not so fond of having my eyes dilated, but it is pretty important in general and especially with my vision. And by next weekend I will have prescription swim goggles to wear when I swim, which would be awesome, because right now I wear my glasses into the pool and that is _not_ good for them. (But I have to be able to monitor the boys, which means I have to be able to see them, and that means glasses.) New glasses are also in the works, but I'm waiting for frames that are being ordered in so I can see them.
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 07:53 pm
I picked the boys up at day care tonight. On the way home tonight:

Drew grabbed the green toy car and announced, "I have the cool car!"
He was taunting Ian. Ian grabbed the silver car and replied happily, "I have the cool car!"
Drew, sounding aggravated: "I do!"
Ian, sounding happy: "I do!"
Repeat a couple times as Drew gets more frustrated before I tell them both to drop it.

Later, Ian, aggravated tone: "Mommy, Drew is LOOKING out my WINDOW!"

...

And still later they argued whether the man in the construction site was Bob the Builder, a discussion that has happened _every time_ Ian has seen people in the construction site since they started. Made much more hilarious tonight because the dude probably shouldn't have been in there, didn't have a hat on, and was walking his small dog. (It was after-hours and no one was working, but.)
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Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 08:22 am
Context link, in case anyone is unaware, with trigger warning because harassment *and* stupidity in the response thereto: http://radishreviews.com/2014/07/21/wiscon-the-frenkel-decision/

Cut for excessive capitalization and bolding, and some near-swearing )
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Saturday, July 19th, 2014 08:07 pm
http://www.kgw.com/news/Boy-with-brain-tumor-just-wants-box-of-cards-for-birthday--267802461.html

This is current, and currently on multiple news sites. I find no debunking of it in a quick search. Meaning that this one is probably real and currently topical, so if you are inclined to send birthday cards to a boy (whose tumor is inoperable, and of a type that tends not to respond well to chemo, so...yeah) - the article has the PO box.
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Saturday, July 19th, 2014 01:00 pm
So, we're doing the summer library program, which is reading for 20 minutes a day, with the boys. And it comes with a separate track of doing science experiments also. We're trying to do that with the boys, but really, mostly with Drew - Ian doesn't entirely understand (not surprising - he isn't even three!) and also gets bored.

Today, however, Ian managed to stay focused for most of the time involved.

See, I got a book on candy experiments.... So we did color dispersion, and dissolving candy in water and adding baking soda to tell if it was an acid (and confirming that acids were sour, which of course meant a taste test of the candies, which was popular), and then - stretching the definition of experiment marginally, but in a good cause - we compared the behavior of *chocolate* in a microwave to the behavior of a *marshmallow* in the microwave.

Happy boys. Too much sugar around, but I think I kept the ingested amount reasonable, and happy boys.

And we still have a "pizza box oven" out back trying to heat s'mores. I think they've actually subsided on the plastic and are no longer in the proper shape, but eh, we'll see. If they melt, it will have made its point. And really, shouldn't candy science be sticky and gooey and messy?
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Friday, July 18th, 2014 06:36 pm
Quiet days of getting things done around the house. Good books. Information. Computers. Cameras. Trellises. Wild tomatoes. Wild boys. Good days at day care. Pizza (that I can actually have, because I know how many pills to take). Computer games. (Regular games, but tonight's is canceled. It happens.) Getting the grocery shopping done while I don't have to worry about the on-call phone. Hot showers. Card games. Chips Ahoy Chocolate Reese's (basically brownies with peanut butter).

Friends. And now I wander away from the keyboard to spend time with the one who is here. :)
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Sunday, July 13th, 2014 08:11 pm
Today we had thunderstorms, complete with lightning. Way too daylight for any dramatic pictures to even be attempted, but I got to see the flashes and hear the thunder, and share my joy with the boys.

And remember how much my mother loved a good summer thunderstorm. Ours aren't as impressive as the ones she grew up with in Ohio, one of the things I know she missed. But they're not half bad, and I enjoy them, and I think of her.
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Sunday, July 13th, 2014 01:11 pm
Today's lunch, for example, was brought by the letters Q, M, and W (Qdoba, McDonald's, and Wendy's). Why? Because we didn't have anything planned and were up against Lunchtime, and if I'm going to buy crap for the boys, I will at least buy crap they will eat excitedly. That's McDonald's. On the other hand, Scott gets really tired of McDonald's and really likes Qdoba. Normally I'd have gone with one of those two, but Wendy's had a new pretzel burger I really wanted to try.

And so it goes. Sadly, the pretzel burger is really good. Sadly because it is not the greatest choice calorie-wise. Heh.

On the other hand, as the title says, garden! Ian has this ridiculously enormous tomato plant. (It is from a seed started because he chose tomatoes, therefore, it's in his planter, therefore it's "his" tomato plant.) The thing, if it were not in a planted, would be about as tall as he is or a bit more I think. In the planter it's definitely taller.

I took 6-foot trellises and set them up adjacent to support the tomato because the tomato support has been more or less absorbed and the tomato was merrily going sideways and down from out of the overwhelmed thing. Hilarious. Now if only some of those flowers actually, yannow, become tomatoes. (No, it's not a six-foot tomato. But I had standard flimsy tomato cages, and 6-foot trellises. So.)
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Saturday, July 12th, 2014 03:15 pm
The weather is too hot for me at the moment. But I am still getting things done.

I kind of LOVE the City Pickers planters I'm using for growing our veggies. Because we were in Wisconsin for the Fourth of July weekend - we left midday July 3 and came back the evening of July 7, and the water reservoirs were empty but the plants were fine - they'd had enough water to carry them through (as planned). Awesome. Ian's planter has the most amazingly happy tomato in it, this thing would be almost as tall as he was if it was starting from ground level. (As it is, it's taller.)

The boys have swim lessons on Saturdays at Children of the Sea, and we usually go back for open swim in the evening. It used to be that I found both quite pleasant. Now I am not as fond of the swim lessons even though I am very proud of Ian!

Reason being: he started out in parent-tot, where a parent must be in the water with him. Also, he started out super-clingy to me, so I was that parent. And when the pool - and the room it's in - is heated to 90 degrees (they teach all the way down to infants).... Well, being in the water is nice than sitting on the bench watching. LOL.

Anyway, he's now in advanced parent-tot, where one of the goals is to get the parent out of the water and the kiddo still content and fine. And today was my first session out of the water. He did NOT want to get in, but a bribe of a toy got him in, and once he was in he was fine. Sniffle. I'm so proud of him, and it's awesome that he's getting so confident in the water. But...I kind of want him to regress so I don't broil. LOL.

In unrelated news, I bought two pounds of blueberries at Costco today. Those who know my kids - especially my "little fruit bat" (Ian) - will probably not be surprised to learn that I expect us to actually eat them all this weekend. You might be surprised to know that in less than 2 hours, about 3/4 of a pound (judging by volume now missing) have been eaten. Goodness.

Dinner tonight is going to be what the kids call "toothpick snacks" - little cut up bits of cold food and a toothpick to stab them with. It's a win-win-win: healthy foods (when chosen well), the kids consider it a treat, no one eats something hot when they're already hot, and I don't have to heat the kitchen up by cooking. Assuming we still have any left by then, the blueberries are part of that. (Also grapes, ham, chicken, cheese, and possibly some marshmallows just to keep it from being purely healthy. And bread cubes if anyone wants them, but history says I shouldn't cut any bread up before asking. Heh.)

They now make Vanilla Coke Zero. I miss Vanilla Coke! So, we'll see.