Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where armadillos roam free, it's your host, the woman who single-handedly broke half her sprinklers while edging with a shovel because she's special that way, Dawn Meehan! Now here are the answers to your questions from the past couple weeks.

Are you and your kids excited about watching the last shuttle launch from you back yard or at least nearby?
The kids were less than excited, so I opted to watch it from my computer instead of forcing them to go and listening to them complain while battling half a million people on the coast.

Also, I have discovered your daughter's celebrity match--Rachel McAdams. Have you heard that before?
Nope, I've never heard that. I don't really see it. Then again, I always hear that I look like or sound like Kirstie Alley and I totally don't see that either.

DId I miss anything, Austin has a gf now? Great! So does it mean they cant see each other now :(
Yeah, he's had a girlfriend since March, I think. They still talk online most days.

I thought of you today. Aren't you glad now that you're here in Florida, compared to being in the heat of the midwest?!
Yeah, but it'll cool off in a week or so back home. Here? Notsomuch. Besides, anything over 90 is hot. It doesn't really matter what the thermometer says when it gets to that point.

Oh..have you encountered any of the local wildlife yet?
Like the alligators? Or flying cockroaches? Or lizards? Or frogs? Or armadillos? Or snakes? Or red ants? I've seen them all and I still think I may have driven farther south than Florida. Like maybe Brazil.

While I have no comment regarding the self-inflicted haircuts (only one of my kids ever did that, and it wasn’t too bad), I have to comment on Brooklyn! When did she get so grown up???? Where’d the little pre-schooler go?
I don't know! I was just thinking the same thing. I've done a double-take a couple of times, thinking she was Lexington. Of course, Brooklyn still acts like Brooklyn. (That's not necessarily a good thing.)

SSO question: My Oldest Boy (8) is just about to start organized sports. Which means practices and meets…all with our 3 younger kids in tow. Advice? Did you feed everyone before you went? While you were there? After you got home? How do you keep the other kids (relatively) happy? This is all new territory for me so any advice (or good humor tips) would be great! I’m NOT a single mom but for all intents and purposes during this phase of the day I will be (my husband works until 6PM).
Good question! Pack a bag with items to amuse the younger kids and keep it in the car. Include coloring books, paper, crayons, art supplies, outdoor toys like balls, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc., snacks, bottles of water, sweatshirts, and wipes/hand sanitizer (because they ALWAYS have to go to the bathroom while you're at the game and port-a-potties are gross!) When you feed them depends on when you have to get them to practices/games. I sometimes fed my kids before the game, but they usually ended up hungry afterward and needed a snack when we got home. Sometimes, I just packed dinner and fed the little kids at the game. Oftentimes, there are other kids and playgrounds to occupy the little ones. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Wow, did you take that rainbow picture?
Yep. I take almost all the pictures on my blogs (unless otherwise noted). The sunsets, sky, and rainbows down here are just gorgeous.

Where can we write Sunday Sound Out questions? Wanted to tell you how happy I am for you and the kids, and was wondering if any family from home has been in contact since you're moved?
Sure, I've talked to most of my family and friends from back home. Technology is a good thing!

The kids and I tried out a new church today. I just didn't feel really comfortable going to the huge one we'd been visiting. I mean, I know I could join a small group and get to know people. I know I shouldn't expect people to just come up and introduce themselves to me, but after a couple visits, it just felt like a big, impersonal church to me. So we decided to try out a different one today. And people at this church actually did come up and introduce themselves to us! Members encouraged my kids to attend youth group. People actually went around the room and introduced themselves to me in my Sunday school class. It was nice. I didn't enjoy the worship service as much as megachurch's, but I liked the small, friendly, homey feel of this one. I believe we'll go back next week.

Have a sunshiny week!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You Might be a Mom If . . .

“You know, the root of the word Miller is a Greek word. Miller come from the Greek word “milo,” which is mean “apple,” so there you go. As many of you know, our name, Portokalos, is come from the Greek word “portokali,” which mean “orange.” So, okay? Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Tomorrow night marks four weeks that we’ve been here in Florida. In some ways, it seems like we just got here. In others, it feels like we’ve always lived here. I don’t know how to explain it. I really thought I’d be spending my nights, curled up in bed, sobbing over how much I miss my old house. I haven’t done that even once. I thought I’d have moments of melancholy as memories of good times with friends flashed through my head. I haven’t experienced that either. I mean, I do miss my friends, but I haven’t had any gut-wrenching feelings of loneliness. I want to breathe a sigh of relief that this move is indeed a good thing and the reason it seems so easy is because it’s an improvement and a much needed change. But I’m afraid to let my guard down and relax because Murphy’s Law dictates that everything will fall apart in that instant.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Tried Childproofing my Home, but They Keep Getting In

I recently viewed this short video with tips on babyproofing your kitchen so it’s safe for toddlers yet still aesthetically pleasing. The expert in the video recommends putting those little plastic latches on the inside of your cabinets so as not to create the ugly eyesore of a big white lock on the outside. I wonder if the expert has kids? Or has ever been around kids? Or knows anything about kids?

I know, firsthand, that it takes an average of three tries before a toddler figures out how to depress those little childproof latches on a cabinet. There are other options out there for locking your cabinets. One that I had in my old house was a sturdy lock that could only be opened with a strong magnet. I thought it was great! Until my child found the hidden magnet and lost it, but not before using it to turn the TV all sorts of pretty rainbow colors.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just a Little Off the Top, Please.

In my book, Because I Said So, I wrote a section on haircuts (or more specifically, the haircuts kids give themselves and their siblings). I think every one of my kids has had at least one self-inflicted haircut over the years. I’ve given up all efforts to stop it from happening. There is no stopping it. It WILL happen. Once you resign yourself to this fact, you can breathe a little more easily. When it does eventually come to pass, you’ll need to remind yourself that hair grows. Practice now. Repeat after me – Hair grows, hair grows, hair grows. It’s no big deal; it’s hair. Hair grows back. So she’ll look like a freak for a while. It’s okay. All kids do this. Buy a copy of my book for reference and bookmark this page because I guarantee when you first see those strands of hair on the ground indicating that your little one has found the scissors, you’ll forget that it’s just hair and you’ll freak out. At least for a minute or two.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to deal with the situation when your young child takes it upon herself to cut her hair.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Driving me to Drink

I took Savannah to get her permit today. Part of me was hoping she’d fail her test so I could put off teaching her to drive for just a little longer. But unfortunately, she passed. I mean, yay! She passed her test and got her permit! I’m so proud!

I guess I’ve had it easy with Austin who will be seventeen in a couple months. He doesn’t have his permit, nor does he have any real desire to drive. Maybe I should encourage him to get his permit, but I figure the longer he waits, the less insurance will cost and the more mature he’ll be when he starts driving. Savannah, on the other hand, is more like I was when I was her age. She’s just chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

I took the kids to swim this evening. I didn’t bother to put my own suit on, but instead took a notebook and pen to take notes for some blog posts. It was a long day. I was feeling tired and down, and was looking forward to watching my kids play in the water while I lounged in the shade with my notebook. Fate, however, had other plans.

Brooklyn was playing with her facemask and snorkel. She has no clue how to use a snorkel and I’m just waiting for the day the lifeguard has to rescue her from the water-filled breathing device. It’s futile trying to teach her how to use it too because she’s five and knows much, much more than I do, so naturally, she’s insulted if I dare to suggest something crazy like keeping the end of the snorkel above the surface of the pool.


Donating Your Old Stuff is a Win-Win!

The cool thing about moving is the chance, nay, the obligation to declutter. I was ruthless in getting rid of anything and everything in my old house that hadn't served a specific purpose. If it was packed away in my attic and hadn't been touched in years, it was discarded. If it was old, outdated, broken, useless, it was tossed. After all my cleaning, I ended up donating fourteen garbage bags and several boxes full of clothes and household goods to Wings. I had less stuff to move, Wings got some great stuff that they can sell, the people who buy the items will get a terrific deal, and the money raised will go to support programs that help women and children fleeing domestic violence. Everyone wins!

You don't actually have to move to clean out and donate either. Back to school time is perfect for going through old clothes and taking inventory before buying new. And when you donate to a place with a retail shop, you can shop for new clothes there, saving money! And don't forget to keep track of your donations for tax purposes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't Fret the Sweat Winner!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment and liked the Don't Fret the Sweat page!

Congratulations to the random winner of the beach bag filled with goodies from Don't Fret the Sweat!

hockeygrrrrl said...
Woot! I'd love to win this. :)
I'm gonna run right over and tweet it too [Hipchick73]
Don't worry - Florida gets better, in September or so...heh. :) Sure am enjoying the stories!

Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A House Isn't a Home Until . . .

. . . someone spills nail polish all over the carpet. I ran out to the store this afternoon to get embroidery floss for Lexi who wanted to make friendship bracelets for the girls she's missing back home. Oh yeah, and one for Eric too. :) Then I stopped at the store for Jackson's medicine andI went to the bank to open a checking account here. While the teller was entering my information in her computer, I felt my phone vibrate. Seeing the text was from Jackson, I glanced at the message. "Brooklyn spilled nail polish on the carpet."


Sea World

As a new Floridian, I've been checking out the deals for residents at local theme parks. SeaWorld has some good deals for residents and visitos alike. We went to SeaWorld and Discovery Cove back in October of 2007. You can read about it here. It was the most awesome vacation we've ever had! We got to swim with dolphins! It was so cool!

My kids have been asking me when we can go back and I might possibly be as anxious as they are. What can I say? It was fun! So I thought I'd share this deal with residents and folks who are visiting Orlando this summer.

SeaWorld Orlando has something called Summer Nights. After dark, SeaWorld is filled with unforgettable nighttime shows like Shamu Rocks, a hilarious, evening-only sea lion show, roller coasters under the stars, and to top it off, a fountain and fireworks extravaganza.

They also offer a new after-3 p.m. ticket for $49.99. For a discounted priced, you can enjoy all the fun SeaWorld has to offer from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. now through August 14. Or, they also offer a cool package that includes all-you-care-to-eat-and-drink at participating restaurants for $59.99 a person. This deal can be purchased online or at the Information Counter upon arrival.

There are also special deals for families looking for an all-day SeaWorld adventure. Adults pay the kid’s price and get a 2nd visit free. As with all of SeaWorld’s special events, Summer Nights is included with park admission.

For more information, visit

Saturday, July 16, 2011

And These are the Things I Could Live Without

Yesterday, I shared my favorite things about Florida. We’ve been here about two weeks now and we’re settling in. Boxes are almost all unpacked, rooms are set up, we’re finding positive things about living here. But with all the good things, there are some that aren’t so wonderful. There are some that are just strange and foreign to us. And then there are some that make us want to move back home (cough cough Palmetto bugs)!

The good definitely outweighs the bad, but in the interest of fairness, here’s a list of the notsogood things about living in Florida.


Friday, July 15, 2011

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things

Yes, there are some things that stink about moving to Florida. Leaving friends and family and having to start over finding new schools, church, shopping, friends, etc. can be intimidating. Sometimes, like when I see a sign advertising hog traps, gator meat, and ammo all at one store, I think I’ve moved to another planet. But, there are so many awesome things about Florida too. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t move here years ago. Here are my favorite things about Florida!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Win a Beach Bag Full of Goodies Including an iPod from Don't Fret the Sweat!

It's HOT here in Florida! When we first moved into our house, I set the thermostat at 72 which is what I kept my house at in Illinois during the summer. When I told my friend who lives here that my air was set to 72, her jaw hit the floor, and I started to realize that I'd probably need to make some adjustments if I didn't want a $500 electric bill. I've been turning the temperature up a degree every day. I'm up to 76 so far and honestly, when I come in from outside, it feels a little too cold sometimes. I guess anything less than the outdoor temp (approximately 400 degrees) is cool.

I'm pretty sure I'm single-handedly keeping Unilever in business with all the deodorant I'm using every day! I'm almost to the point of rubbing a stick of Degree on my head to keep the sweat from pouring down into my eyes. I know, I'm quite the babe with my hair matted to my face.

But I've figured out the secret to living in Florida during the summer! When you're not in the air conditioning, you need to spend all day at the pool or beach! What a great way for anyone to spend their free time during the summer! And I've got an awesome giveaway to help you do just that!

Here’s what you’ll find in the “Don’t Fret the Sweat” beach bag (valued at $137):

Exclusive Don’t Fret the Sweat beach bag
2GB iPod Shuffle
$25 iTunes gift card
Beach towel
Beach ball
Sports water bottle
Vaseline Daily Aloe Fresh Moisturizing Body Gel
Unilever deodorant sticks

Ways to enter:

1. Leave me a comment here (BE SURE TO INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION) for a chance to win.

2. Like the Don't Fret the Sweat Facebook page here. Then leave me another comment letting me know that you liked the page for another chance to win.

3. Tweet about the giveaway and leave me another comment here letting me know that you tweeted about it for another chance to win.

I'll choose a random winner on Monday, July 18. Good luck!

I am working with Unilever to help parents raise healthy tweens through the Don't Fret the Sweat page and have been compensated for my time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Party at Sonic!

Right before I left Chicagoland, I had a little get-together at our local Sonic. I invited friends to meet me on the patio so we could try out Sonic's new hotdogs. The hotdogs were de-lish! The limeades were yummy and refreshing, and the real ice cream was cool and delicious! Here are some pictures from our night!

When we got there, we found tables reserved just for us. We felt so important-like! :)

Sonic is now offering All American hotdogs, Chicago dogs (mine is pictured below yum. Actually, come to think of it, that wasn't my hotdog. I scarfed mine down before I remembered to take a picture. It was yummy!), New York dogs, chili cheese coneys, and baja dogs. For details, see their menu here.

Me and Val

Having fun with friends, enjoying the nice evening, and gobbling up hotdogs!

A reader, Tina and family

Savannah and Kimmy (her real name is Shannon, but she'll always be lovingly called Kimmy Gibbler by me)

me and Sue

Aj and his girlfriend, Jenny

Looking stylish in her many, many Sonic hats!

Try one of the yummy new hotdogs at a Sonic near you! If you don't have any Sonics near you, I guess you'll just have to come visit!

Sonic provided me with complimentary products so my friends and I could try out their new hotdogs.

Hallelujah, There are Doughnuts!

Before I moved to Florida, a couple from my church in Chicagoland emailed me. They’d retired to Florida and they wrote to invite me to check out their church down here. The first Sunday we were here, we were still buried knee-deep in boxes and my friend Eric was here, helping us move and fixing some things around the house so we stayed home and worked. But yesterday, I decided that we needed to go to church. It’s important to me to find a church home.


Eating Disorders an Increasing Problem in Males

In a recent article that appeared in Marie Claire magazine, eating disorders are compared to AIDS in that they’re an increasing problem and they don’t spare any demographic.

“We’ve moved away from this as a Caucasian, upper-middle-class, ‘princess’ disease. It’s everybody’s disease,” says Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, medical director of child and adolescent services at Eating Recovery Center in Denver.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Drinking, Driving, and the DMV

I went to the DMV, or tag agency, or whatever they call it down here. I checked in, was given a number, and was directed to the waiting area. I glanced at the paper with my number on it. Number 852. I looked up at the screen which displayed the current number being served. Number 2. I looked back at the number in my hand. I blinked a few times. I looked up again. Then I resigned myself todying right there at the DMV sitting there for a long time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Billionaire Dumps Wife Via Social Media (and other stupid ways to use Twitter)

The New York Times recently had an interesting article on how anonymity is disappearing thanks to the Internet. It’s a paradox. People can log on and make scathing comments on a site, all while hiding behind their anonymity. Yet, a person who has never even touched a computer can find things they’ve said and pictures of themselves splashed across the Web.

The subway rider in NY who argued with the conducter, stating how “well educated” she was last Tuesday was identified from the uploaded YouTube video in no time.

Anthony Weiner and his, ah, penpals discovered just how quickly details they thought were private can become public.

Some of the people who set fire to cars and looted businesses after Vancouver lost the Stanley Cup playoffs were identified from pictures posted online.

Billionaire Wang Gongquan, an investor in China, announced to the world that he was leaving his wife via China’s equivilant of Twitter, Sina Weibo. Mr. Gongquan writes, “I am giving up everything and eloping with Wang Qin. I feel ashamed and so am leaving without saying goodbye. I kneel down and beg forgiveness!”

It all makes you wonder.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And Then Sometimes Everything Falls into Place

Yesterday was a bad day. There wasn’t one specific thing that happened. It was just one of those days where I didn’t feel right, but couldn’t exactly put my finger on why. Moving into a new house, you have to expect some things to need repair. It comes with the territory. However, when your inspection doesn’t mention the things that are wrong and you don’t learn of them until you actually move in and see them firsthand, well, that’s not a good kind of surprise. The showerhead in the master bath was broken and lying on the floor of the shower. That same shower doesn’t drain properly and after one shower, I discovered a stain of water that had leaked down into the ceiling of the laundry room and puddled onto the floor. That same shower has a hole in the floor making it pretty useless. The other bathroom has a large crack in the tub, again, rendering it useless. The microwave doesn’t work, nor did the garbage disposal until my friend replaced it for me.


U-Pack Made our Move Easy and Affordable

We used U-Pack to move cross country. We packed everything ourselves, but we were able to take our time doing it. I actually liked having control over how things were packed. I may have teeny, little control issues, but I didn't want a bunch of strangers coming in my house and packing up all my belongings. But I wasn't about to try to drive a moving truck to Florida by myself (and really, that wouldn't have worked in my case anyway since I have six kids that wouldn't have fit in a truck cab). ABF U-Pack Moving drove the truck to Florida and parked in my driveway. I had several days to unload the truck and move things into my house at my pace. It was ideal. And the best part is that U-Pack is super-affordable! When I compared their prices to other moving companies, I couldn't believe the difference.

If you're moving, check out their website for a price quote. Even if you don't use them, their site is full of helpful information about moving so take a look!

Every time I called U-Pack, there was a really friendly, helpful person on the other end. They helped me to estimate just how much space I'd need to move all of our belongings and they were right on! When I first tried to figure it out on my own, I had estimated that I'd need one and a half 28 foot trailers. I was wrong. They helped me to figure out that I'd only need 24-28 feet and that's exactly what I used. They know what they're talking about!

All our belongings made it from Illinois to Florida unscathed. The price was reasonable. The folks at U-Pack were very helpful. I was absolutely pleased and if I ever move again (Oh God, please no), I'll use U-Pack again.

Here's little video of our move that I made. :)

*I was compensated by U-Pack in exchange for advertising*

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Snoaking in the Local Stores

I went to a store called Old Time Pottery yesterday. They don’t have those in Chicagoland so I was excited to check it out. It’s a cool store. Kinda like Frank’s Nursery and Crafts meets Michael’s, meets Bed, Bath & Beyond meets a flea market. It’s got some neat decorations for good prices. I got a few decorating ideas while perusing the aisles.

Among all the great finds, a few real gems really stood out. For example, there was this one . . .

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where the devil goes to warm up, it's your host, the woman who single-handedly drove six kids across the country in two days and didn't even have the urge to kill anyone, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

I haven't updated for a while because I haven't had an Internet connection. I signed up for cable and Internet, but they won't be able to install it until the 20th. I tried to explain who I was and how important it was for me to have a link to all my readers, but the guy just looked at me like I was some sort of freak. Is it possible that random people in Florida don't know who I am?! I'll have to set them straight!

Picking up where I left off - we left our Chicago home last Tuesday and stayed in Tennessee Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, we got up and started driving, originally planning to stay somewhere in Alabama for the night, and arrive in Florida on Thursday. As I started driving, however, I changed my mind and decided I could make it all the way on Wednesday. The kids were awesome for the entire, long, two day trip, traffic was light except in Atlanta which doesn't make any sense to me because the highway has 15 lanes there, and we drove through around 3:00 in the afternoon!

That day, we stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch. The winner of a signed book for that stop is - Karen from Menopause Diaries!

Then we stopped at a gas station in Georgia where there was a jar of pickled eggs on the counter. That winner is - MommyMer

The last stop of the day was at a gas station in Florida. The winner of a signed book for that stop is - Queenie662!

And just because I love my readers (and because my trip was cut short by my need to make it to Florida in two days in order to save the cost of another hotel stay), I'll pick two more winners. They are - Shelomita and Korinthia

Congrats! Email me at with your mailing address so I can get your books out to you! :)

Now here are the answers to your questions from this week.

How do the kids like the house?
They love it! For most of us, it just feels like we're on vacation though. I'm not sure when it will sink in that we're here to stay.

Did you get everything unpacked?
Yes and no. I used U-Pack to move. Their prices were great and I had control over how everything got packed. The kids and I (with the help of my friend, Eric) packed the truck ourselves. ABF U-Pack drove it down to Florida and we unloaded it (more on that to come). So, the truck is empty, but I still have some boxes sitting around my house. Not too many though. I can't stand the house in disarray. It makes me crazy that things aren't all nice and neat yet. I know, I know, patience, young jedi.

Did I read that Eric moved with you?
No, Eric didn't move with us, but I did fly him down to help us unpack. It was cheaper than hiring movers to unload the truck, plus he was able to fix some things and help me out while he was here. AND, he left me his MiFi card so I could have Internet access until the guys come out to install it later this month! And we got to hang out which is always good. I took him to the airport today and the kids are saying that they already miss him. I think I may have to compile a fixit list and instead of hiring a handyman, have Eric come out for a visit now and then.

How did you move so far away from family and friends?
I'm not thinking about that part. It's too hard.

How are Clay and Brooklyn now?
They're fine! Well, they're fever-free. I'm not sure about fine though. Clay was just running around the house like a dinosaur, trying to bite people . . .

Have you made any friends yet?
Well, not yet, but I've pretty much been stuck in the house, unpacking and cleaning. I was going to be friends with the fridge delivery guys, but then they put a hole in my wall so I changed my mind. (They're fixing the wall this week.)

And that's it for this week's edition of SSO. Tune in tomorrow when Dawn answers the question of just who on earth would buy this decoration.

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