Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New Adventures in Babysitting

A couple of weeks ago, I got asked to babysit Duckie again.

Man, I have been waiting for this ever since the last time I was asked (although I still maintain that Middle more wanted Duckie to babysit me that day, because I was so sick), and Waffle and I came up with the idea for Duckie to be naughty.

Clearly, Duckie needed to have some more misadventures.

So I tucked him in my front pocket and went about my day.

One of the projects I had for the day was to update the family photos we have displayed on our walls. I had finally gotten prints of some of the photos taken after the adoption finalization, and planned to replace a few photos here and there with new ones. I also wanted to rearrange the framed pictures on the "family" wall by the den. I searched up and down for the framed pictures I was going to replace (I'd taken them down to make room for stockings), finally found them, and set about gathering the tools I'd need.

That's when Duckie wanted to halp.

First he climbed into Hubby's multi-store container and tried to pick out nails and screws and even drywall anchors to hang pictures.

No, Duckie, those are not edible.
I had three photos to choose from and two frames.

Dese two, pleez.
Naturally, he wanted me to choose the two pictures he was most prominently featured in.

As I started rearranging, I realized I was missing a photo I really wanted to have framed, to go next to this gorgeous canvas adoption art piece we'd received from friends at church. I ordered it in two sizes to be picked up in an hour at Walmart, then dashed off to an appointment, with Duckie in tow.

Afterward, the prints were ready, so we went to Walmart.

Lemme ooooouuuuuuuutttt!
Duckie threw a tantrum when I wouldn't let him push the cart.

Once we got home, I finished hanging the pictures and cleaned up a bit; he was content to stay in my pocket as I worked. 

But Special Edition was coming out to see us for a few days, and it had really been too long since I'd vacuumed, so I did that, but when I went to empty the dust cup, I got distracted, and...

It's a dust bath!

Duckies love dust baths. We need them to preen our feathers!
Oh, Duckie.

You don't have feathers.

You have fluff.

You don't need to preen anything.

In fact, your fluff is so smooshed, you don't have anything to preen.

Dusty duck.
You need a real bath.

Into the tub.
When Middle was getting ready for bed that night and went looking for him, I said that Duckie was in the dryer.

I pulled up these photos to explain why.

It was glorious.

Yesterday Morning

I was sitting in the living room, minding my own business, trying to accomplish a couple of things before we had to leave for the twins' standing Tuesday morning appointments. They're up and moving.

My dress is ever so dreamy.
I am up. Moving...that's a bit of a stretch. But I'm getting there.

Middle bounced into the room. "Momma, I tried to teach Kimo the chicken dance. ... She did not excel at it."

And then she was off, chasing Kimo again, and I'm pretty sure I heard her telling Kimo that she needed to move her arms in such a way so that she could do the flap-flap motion.

I'm preeeetty sure kitty arms don't do the flap-flap.

Poor Kimo.

But if she can get Kimo to chicken dance, I'm thinking world domination is definitely within this girl's reach.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Habakkuk 3:18

"[Y]et I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."

February 9, 2017, turned out to be one of the craziest days so far this year, and one I hope never to repeat again, but for being able to tell this story.

The one snowstorm we've had all winter decided to arrive overnight, with the predicted ability to dump 4"–8" of snow on our region. Middle was scheduled for eye surgery to readjust one of the muscles in her left eye that had been tightened too much by July's surgery, Mom was out of town and couldn't help, and of course we had no idea that we were looking at impending white death when we scheduled the procedure at her follow-up appointment the week before. So not only do we have a 75-minute drive to get to the surgical center, we have one in bad weather.

Fortunately for us, we have wonderful friends...and the always-delightful Mrs. P, a dear friend who is retired and lives nearby, agreed to come to our house at the ugly hour of 6 a.m. to pack the remaining cherubs off to school for us that morning. I was pretty confident that we would all be home by the time they'd be out of school for the day. As D-Day approached, and we realized a snow day was entirely possible, Mrs. P said she would simply stay with Oldest and Youngest at our house. "Are you sure?" I asked. "We can just take them with us." She was sure. And from the pictures she shared, they had a much better day than we did.

So, off we scooted. The interstates weren't in bad shape, but we weren't 20 miles from home before the DOT had dropped all speed limits to 45 because of the weather conditions. Frustrating, because the roads were mostly wet and the snow had let up, no longer falling as heavily, so Hubby kept moving with traffic and around it as best he could. Middle fell asleep in the back as we traveled.

The route between our home and the surgical center where we needed to get takes us over a small mountain. The best way for us to get there is to go north on one interstate, east on another, and then south on a third almost until we're nearly at the same general latitude from whence we came. It's that third interstate leg that always concerns us. It's old, it's narrow, and it's dangerous in this kind of weather. And you're far more likely to have problems...

"Tire pressure warning just came on," Hubby observed as we were throttling down that very same section of highway, about fifteen minutes from the surgical center. "I don't know if it's the back right one..."

The one that we knew had two nails in it and were babying it along with Fix-a-Flat.

The wobble in the rear of the car became more pronounced in a hurry, and Hubby gently steered us off into the snowy shoulder.

It was the left rear tire.

Did I mention that this section of the interstate in question is really narrow and treacherous under good conditions?

These were not good conditions.

I called the surgical center to explain our situation and tell them we would get there when we got there. They assured us that we should just be safe and they would take care of our daughter when we arrived.

Hubby determined within a few short minutes that it was foolhardy and more to risk attempting to change the tire there on the road, and opted to risk the rim for the half-mile-ish (blessedly) to the next exit and nearest gas station. There, he scavenged a cardboard box from the dumpster and exchanged the left rear tire for the spare while Middle and I roamed the small convenience store.

Hubby waved us back out to the car, and Middle and I trundled out into the cold. "Look at this," he called. He pointed to the half-dollar-sized hunk of metal embedded in the tire, and the subsequent gash that ran across the tread and up into the sidewall. "Fix-a-Flat won't fix that. I figured it was something like this based on how fast it went down." He sighed. "I hate this road!" While we had a good spare, getting back home over the mountain would be tricky, and two new tires were definitely not in our budget. Not even close.

Artiste.
We piled back in the car and drove the rest of the way to the surgical center. We had a bit of a wait because the next patient had gotten bumped into our spot, but those things happen. We met with the usual suspects: nurses, anesthesiologist, surgeon. We were confident our girl was in good hands this time, just as she was last time.

Middle went back to OR, and our tummies were growling. One of us needed to stay put with in the surgical center, and so Hubby went out to scrounge breakfast for the two of us.

Ten minutes later, he called me. "I have good news and bad news. The good news is we no longer need two new tires."

Okay...

"The bad news is I've gotten into an accident. I'm okay," he stressed. "The car is not, however." He went on to describe how he had looked down for half a second and discovered the car in front of him had spiked the brakes hard when he looked back up. He hadn't had time to stop. There was minimal damage to the car in front of him, and even less to the car in front of that one, but that vehicle happened to be a company car, so that meant all kinds of headaches now. The police were on scene, and they were not happy when they discovered that the driver of the car Hubby hit was not validly licensed. (It seems he had a license of some kind, according to the accident report, but it was expired.) They were even less happy that the driver was trying to claim that the fully-licensed passenger was driving, not him. When all was said and done, the license-less driver was ticketed for that, the third driver walked away relieved that she had practically zero damage and a police report to cover her heinie with her company, and Hubby was ticketed for reckless driving.

Youch.

$500 deductible.
At least $200 for new tires, provided the car is fixable.
$130 ticket.

And we still have to get home.

I dumped out my sock change purse and bought myself a Snickers bar and a Diet Dr Pepper from the vending machines in the lobby.

I got a text from Special Edition, asking if Hubby was okay, having seen his post on Facebook about needing a car. I gave her the story so far.

Then I went back to see Middle, who was now in recovery and doing fine, promising that Daddy would arrive soon.

Hubby arrived shortly, having gimped the car back to the surgical center. The nurses tutted over our run of bad luck that day. Middle bounced back fairly fast in recovery, and we were heading for home within thirty minutes of Hubby's arrival in recovery.

We discovered in short order that the radiator had been damaged, as there was no longer heat in the car. There was plenty in the engine, however, We stopped at my mom's house for Hubby to assess, and then took a long shot...and drove the mile or so to the used car dealership near there where Mom had recently bought her new-to-her car, where we had bought our now-banged-up one, where Dad had bought his last couple of vehicles. I watched the salesman wince as we drove toward the rear.

This place, these two guys who run it, they are Christian men. Our last three vehicles have been purchased, directly or indirectly, through this one salesman. My dad trusted this guy. And it's a powerful statement of what your father's name can do for you, too. Hubby parked, got out, and walked toward the office.

He told me later that he said to them that he knew they were in the business of selling, not lending out, but thought it was worth a shot to stop in and see if maybe they had a loaner we could use until we could arrange other transportation for ourselves.

I cried when Hubby opened the door and told me to get out, as I watched the finance guy brushing off their loaner vehicle. "Just get it back to us by Monday," he told us.

Three days. This gave us three days to arrange something to get us through the next week or so, until the insurance company figured out what they were going to do.

We made it home and I relieved Mrs. P of my other two kids, and discovered they'd been baking up a storm while we were gone, having made brownies and a cake.

We have wonderful friends, as I believe I've mentioned somewhere in this thing. I contacted good friends of ours who have previously offered to let us borrow their second vehicle if we need it, provided we can play shuttle for her husband. They were able to arrange some strings and said we could borrow his car.

When we returned the loaner vehicle on Sunday night (which turned into its own Keystone Kops adventure after Hubby locked his cell phone in the car and didn't discover it until after he'd dropped the keys; yes, we got it back without much incident), I used the insurance company's app to upload pictures of our poor car to our insurance claim.

Then we waited for the insurance company to do their thing.

We discussed what might happen and how we might proceed, should the insurance company decide to total the vehicle. We knew we didn't have the money for the deductible. Hubby works for Chick-fil-A these days. He doesn't make a lot of money. We make ends barely meet by the skin of our teeth most months. It's creative money management at its worst, usually. We definitely didn't have $500 just sitting around.

I told our Sunday School class that I've never prayed so hard for a vehicle to be totaled in my life...and chuckled when one member asked where our car was, so he could go "help."

On Tuesday—Valentine's Day—I went to the mailbox. Special Edition had come out the night before to visit, and she watched me stand in the foyer and open up a card from a college friend we dearly love, who lives miles and miles away.

Curious that we would be getting a card from her now. We usually get one at Christmas. Or when the whimsy strikes her, because she's found something cute for us or the kids.

I was not expecting the check I found inside. I looked at the staggering number: $1000! I nudged the slip of paper down. "You are loved by an extravagant God," she wrote, with the direction to send the rest on to bless someone else if it's more than what is needed.

Tears pushed at my eyes. I didn't even know what the insurance company was going to do yet.

One thousand dollars. That would cover the $500 deductible...the two new tires we'd need...the labor for getting them put on and messing around with the tire pressure monitoring system...the fine for the ticket...the lapsed inspection that we had been putting off because we knew that one tire wouldn't pass. It would cover it all.

Later that evening, I checked my email on my phone. The insurance estimate was in. My phone turned the PDF to gobbledygook when I tried to read it, with the lines mashing on it together, but I could see enough to tell that they would be fixing the car, not totaling it, so I forwarded it to Hubby and went back to watching Friends with Special Edition. (It's our thing.)

Truthfully, it wasn't until the end of last week that I finally put everything together as to exactly how God had this figured, when I was trying to tell Waffle what had happened. That's when I realized just how specifically my extravagant God had covered everything...right after she screeched at me for not telling her sooner.

I can't have any doubts now that God will take care of us, even as tight as things are for us.

The car is in the shop. It will be repaired. And we have the funds to cover it all.

Because of his great love for us.

Friday, February 10, 2017

One Small Piece

Two weeks ago, my best friend JJ shared that her family had some of the greatest news they could share, short of actually bringing their daughter home: their dossier has finally been submitted to the IBESR in Haiti, and they are no longer waiting in line to wait in line. They are actually in the line!

While this is great news, it's still yet more waiting for them—it will be another 18 to 24 months before they actually receive a referral for a child. But at least they are in that short waiting timeframe, comparatively, as opposed to having their dossier wind its way through the miles and miles of red tape that characterize international adoptions. I know my friend, and while the end is still so far away, it's now so close she can almost touch it.

Waiting is hard.

Waiting is hard even when you're a naturally patient person. Neither she nor I falls into that category. God did not gift us with large amounts of patience when he put us together. (I think that gives him an endless sort of amusement with us at times.)

I've heard of things that military wives do when facing their husbands' deployment: buy a six-pack of soda and drink one each month while he's gone, for instance, to help mark and pass the time.

JJ and her family are taking a different tack.

They're putting together a puzzle, one piece at a time. It's a big one, 1000 pieces.

Each piece doesn't represent a day, though. Each piece represents $5 towards bringing their daughter home.

And as each donation rolls in, the name of the person who donated goes on the back of a puzzle piece. One day, their daughter will come home, and she'll have a beautiful finished puzzle waiting for her...and on the back, the names of all the people who believed in her and her forever family enough to help bring her home.

Hubby and I don't have a whole lot of spare cash rolling around these days, but this is important to us, so we've sponsored our piece. Your $5 will help give a little girl the world.
These pieces have already been donated!

Really.

It's her family. That's her whole world, right there.

The hyperlink above will give you the direct link to give, or you can click on the puzzle picture in my sidebar.

Thanks in advance from all of us at Team Baby Shelton.

Monday, February 6, 2017

That's My Girl

On our way to church yesterday, after stopping at the store for donuts, this happened:

Middle: *belches*

Middle: Excuse me, I love donuts.

My middle child, ladies and gentlemen. 

The Donut Bet

"Daddy wants snuggles!" Hubby bellowed yesterday morning, still laying in bed, not yet up and moving around before getting ready to go to church.

The kids were all downstairs and didn't hear them, so I went to the stairs and called down to the kids. "Hey, girls? Daddy wants snuggles!"

"Oh, geez," I heard Oldest say. But she trooped upstairs and to our room, and then half-heartedly leaned into Hubby for a quasi-hug.

"This is all I get?" Hubby asked. "A measly half-hug?"

Oldest giggled a little. She's in youth group now, you know, and so she's too cool for snuggles. But she leaned in again before leaving the room.

I went back out to the stairs. "Hey! Daddy wants snuggles! Where are you?"

Youngest scrambled up the steps and raced into our room, sprawling across Hubby's chest. "Are we gonna get donuts this morning?"

"Don't we always get donuts on the way to church?" He gave her a cheeky grin as he reminded her of what's become a Sunday morning tradition over the last several weeks.

Youngest smiled.

"I tell you what," Hubby said conspiratorially, "since you're not dressed yet, I'll bet you that I can get dressed faster than you."

Youngest looked at him skeptically.

"If I get dressed first, you have to buy the donuts this morning. But if you get dressed first, I'll buy the donuts."

Youngest's eyes lit up at the thought of a challenge.

"Are you gonna go? 'Cause I'm gonna get up and get dressed! You'd better get moving!"

Youngest hightailed it out of the room, squealing that she was going to win.

Hubby rolled over, tucked the comforter up under his neck, and grinned at me. "I'm not moving."

I just laughed.

Within five minutes, Youngest was back in our room, fully dressed, tailed by Middle, who sprawls on top of Hubby.

"You're not dressed, Daddy! I'm gonna win!" Youngest shrieks with delight.

This caused Middle to launch off her father and grab a pair of white tube socks out of his dresser. She started yanking one onto his left foot. "Win! Win! Win! Win! Win! Win! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN!"

As his foot was getting jerked around, Hubby gave me something of a bumfuzzled look. By then, I was laughing so hard that tears were leaking out of my eyes. Middle continued to chant "WIN!" at the top of her lungs.

"You're writing this, right?" Hubby asked between my hoots of laughter.

"Oh, heck yes," I gasped out.

Youngest had, in the height of the sock-pulling-on melee, departed the room and returned...now wearing her winter coat. Really ready to go.

"She's not done yet; her hair's not brushed!" Middle complained.

"I won!" Youngest countered.

"Daddy, she's not done yet. Her hair's not brushed! You win!"

Hubby chuckled as he met my gaze. "I've got a sock on. I'm ready to go to church!"

Youngest squealed. "Ew, Daddy, no!"

"Why not? I'm dressed. I've got a sock on. I can go to church just like this!"

"Daddy!"

He shooed them out of the room so we could get dressed.

And, yes, he made good on the bet.

He bought the donuts.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Two Weddings and an Apartment

"Hey, Momma," Middle asked as she strode purposefully into the living room this morning, "can Oldest and I use this box, since she emptied it out?"

I tend to greet such requests with suspicion, because they usually result in vague answers of I don't know which almost always spell trouble with a capital T.

"What are you going to use it for?"

"A house for a married couple."

Say what?

"A house for a married couple?"

"Yeah, Oldest's stuffed animals."

"Which stuffed animals are married?"

"They're not married yet. They're getting married today, and they need their own house."

And then I remembered the animated soliloquy Middle had given to me about this, about how Duckie was going to be the best man, and Duckie's alter egos would fill other roles.

Which Middle was explaining. Again. Short-form, this time.

"One of my ducks is going to be the best man, one is going to be the usher, and one is going to be the priest."

How she came up with priest, I'm not entirely sure, as we're Protestant, and the only weddings we've been to have been officiated by pastors. But I digress.

"Then the rest of my ducks"—and they are legion, let me tell you—"are coming, too, because their family is the best man, and the usher, and the priest."

Okay then.

"Well, this still doesn't tell me which of Oldest's stuffed animals are getting married."

"A bear and a turtle, and a rabbit and a rabbit."

"Two weddings?"

"Yeah! And my ducks are going to be at both."

Allrightythen.

"Yes, you can use the box."

"I'm gonna go tell Oldest."

And she bounced out of the room.

While I was pondering the blog post this story was about to become, and feeling more than a little amused by it, Middle stopped short in the doorway to the living room on her way upstairs.

"Sad, sad," she announced. "Rabbit/Rabbit broke up, so there's only going to be one wedding."

I nodded with appropriate soberness, and she hardly skipped a beat before continuing up the stairs.

At least I can be assured that we now won't have a bunch of little tiny stuffed rabbits bouncing around the house any time soon. *chuckle*