Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cool Ranch Doritos and Other Cool Things

Hubby currently works for a well-known local gas station/convenience store chain in our area, having stepped out of ministry for a sort of sabbatical about two and a half years ago after my father's sudden death. It's a crazy workplace, and he says it's perfect for him and his ADHD because there's always something new to do. He likes his coworkers and it's become increasingly obvious why this chain is one of the top 100 employers in the country.

He likes his job.

This makes him happy, which makes me happy.

Innyhoo. His store is busy, sitting in a location where a divided highway joins back together just on the other side of the store's property. Lots of local traffic, and lots of regular customers.

Among these regulars is a mom and her two young sons.

Now, Hubby has always thought, from a customer-service standpoint, if he can make the kids smile and giggle, he'll please the parents, who are always the customers. He feels that way about our own girls: if someone can make them laugh and smile, his day is made. So he turns that around and applies that to the customers who come in with their kids.

So he talks to the kids who come to his counter when he's on register. They'll hand up candy. "Is that for me?" Inevitably, the kids giggle and correct him. They'll hand up chips. "Oh, those have to be for me!" More giggling. "No, those are for my sister!"

The kids love him.

The parents are happy.

The mom and her two boys are, according to Hubby, in the store nearly every day. He's built a rapport with the boys. "Oh, you've got Cool Ranch Doritos. I love Cool Ranch Doritos! Are those for me?"

Giggles and silly shrieks. "No, those are ours!"

Yesterday, the mom and her boys came into the store and got in Hubby's line. Once again, he interacted with the boys. "Cool Ranch Doritos! Are those for me?"

I can only imagine the look on his face when those little boys (about six and seven, he says) happily told him, "Yes, those are for you!"

The boys, it turns out, go to one of the local Christian schools, the one that's less than half a mile from Hubby's store. They've been learning about sharing, caring, and doing kind things.

They told their mom they wanted to get Cool Ranch Doritos just for Hubby. They wanted to do something nice for him, specifically.

Hubby said his first instinct was to say no, that he couldn't accept them, but then he realized what they were trying to do, and he gave in, and enjoyed his chips with the pizza he had later on his dinner break.

That little moment made his entire day.

You know, as long as there are parents raising kids like this, as long as we are teaching that kindness to anyone is a true virtue, the future is in good hands.

A Little Less Conversation

The very merry month of May has begun, and I think something in the air has infected the short people in my house.

Or something.

Scene: Dinner Table
May 1

Oldest: I think I'm done drinking chocolate milk...for today.

Note: We have no chocolate milk in the house.

Me: How much have you had?

Oldest: Ten bottles.

Me: How do you get ten bottles of chocolate milk?

This must have happened at school.

Oldest: People give them to me. They drop them on my tray as they go to throw trash away. So I had ten, and my friend had ten, and we had a chocolate milk drinking challenge, which I won, of course.

Me: Oh, of course. <pause>  Do you think that you're going to fade if you don't drink enough? Your skin color, I mean?

Oldest [laughing]: No.

Middle: Wait, that can happen? Is that why you don't drink chocolate milk?

I sat there and shook my head vigorously and tried not to laugh, but I don't think I convinced her that drinking chocolate milk is the way to keep up her skin tone, or that I avoid it so I won't turn brown. (I just don't like milk.)

[It occurs to me now that I should have told her I eat enough chocolate ice cream to have affected my skin color, but alas, my retort comes too late.]

I must admit that I rather like our new dinner tradition, where the kids clean up and put away the leftovers (on the pitifully rare occasions that we have them, which we did this night) if I've cooked dinner. It's nice.

So, shortly after this...

Oldest: Can you please pass the chicken?

Me: No! You've had two full plates of food!

Middle: Then can I be excused? To go to the bathroom?

Me: Yes, as long as you come back and take care of the dishes and stuff. I will take care of the chicken, because I don't trust you to not sneak another piece [Middle had had five] while putting it away.

Middle: We probably would.

Scene: Dinner Table
May 2

Middle: You have to remember that I am weird. With a capital W. And a capital I. And E. And R. And D.

Me [amused]: Not in that order.

Middle [almost simultaneously]: I think I got that right. Oh. The other way, then.

Scene: Kitchen

I'm looking for the canister of knock-off Pringles Hubby bought the other night when I asked him to also get me something to eat when he stopped at the store for something else on his way home from work. They were on the island, and I can't find them. I've had a rough few days with my ankle giving me fits, so it was fend-for-yourself night here. I figured I'd make a sandwich and have some of those chips, even though they felt kinda wrong. (They're about twice the thickness of actual Pringles.) Hubby had, after all, bought some Fritos for himself. I can't eat Fritos anymore. Well, I can, but not without great consequence, so I don't. So I asked the girls if they had seen my canister of chips, which had last been spotted on the island.

They're all shaking their heads.

Oldest: I last saw them here.

Yes, well, there's just a whole lot of here here on the island now. No fat Pringles.

Youngest: I haven't seen any chips.

Middle: Maybe Dad...

And she left the room, presumably going up to Special Edition's room, where Hubby likes to play games on the Xbox when Special Edition isn't living here at home.

I searched the pantry until Middle returned, still not finding chips.

Middle [stepping from stairs into kitchen]: We have a body.

Then she handed me the empty canister.

This kid.

Please, by all means, come to dinner at my house. You never know what's going to happen.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Ladies' Night

It's finally happened.

No, not sharing my shoes with my daughter, although that happened with Oldest on Easter Sunday, when she complained her church shoes were woefully tight. I ended up just giving her two pairs of shoes I don't wear anymore. The worst part? She's probably going to outgrow those as well. Save me now. (Middle has already surpassed me.)

But no, not any of that.

I sat down at the dinner table tonight with the girls, just the four of us, as Hubby was working, and proceeded to spend the next three minutes having absolutely no idea what my children were discussing.

Enough names finally got tossed that I figured out they were talking about a game they all play online, and I presumed these to be "celebrity" YouTubers who make videos of their game play (people can make money at this?), and ye tap-dancing fishies, I am somehow old.

Which really was never to be the point of the blog post I intended to write tonight.

A friend on Facebook (and also in real life, because I am old and know 97% of my Facebook friends for realsies) had posted something today, asking how old you'd be in ten years, along with your kids. Another friend commented that it wasn't so much how old everyone would be in ten years that got to her, but how young everyone was just ten years before.

Since you're dying to know, I'll be 52, Special Edition will be 31, Oldest will be 22, and both Middle and Youngest will be 21. (The next decade will be interesting.)

But it was far less the future that caught my attention as it was my friend's comment about the past.

Ten years ago today, we would have had no kids.

This life wouldn't have even been a glimmer on the horizon. We had another few days before we got the first call from my brother, I think.

How boring.

I didn't dare comment on the post for fear of totally hijacking it and taking it in such a completely bent direction, but man... Ten years ago, there were no kids. Not in our daily lives, at least. Our "kids" had four legs and were the only self-cleaning things in the house.

Coming up in a little over a month, we celebrate an entire decade as a family. Ten years of parenting by the seat of our pants. Ten. Years.

Yeah, we're doing something special. Hubby and I are still talking options.


"...not airy, like your brain is full of air, because it's not. I've seen it," Middle declared, speaking to her twin.

Oh. Hey. Still dinner. I set down my fork and studied Middle for a moment. "What did you do, look up her nose?"

Middle nodded effusively and waggled her eyebrows. "Uh-huh."

"Wait, you saw my brain?" Youngest scrunched up her nose.

"You were on the playroom bed, and I looked up, and there it was."

Giggles broke out around the table, and the conversational arc repeated itself as I sat there in bemused amusement for a good minute, just watching and listening. Then... "You do know you can't see her brain by looking up her nose, right?"

Middle shot back, deadpan, "Do you?" Her eyebrows wriggled again.

I sat back in my chair as a beat passed in silence. "I'm pretty confident in my science knowledge."

Middle laughed. "I have none. That's why I'm so smart."

Ladles and germs, this is my dinner table.

I hope it's this much fun still in another ten years.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tender Vignettes of a Particular Thursday

6:30 a.m.

Oldest's alarm blaring down the hallway woke me up, because I'd forgotten last night to set my odd-week Thursday alarm that means Oldest has to get up in time for school, not for counseling. (She has an afternoon appointment this week.) Oops.

To be honest, I don't know why Oldest sets both of her alarms. She gets up with the 6 a.m. one daily now that (as I knock on all available pieces of wood) spring seems to be here. I grumble half-awake, and five minutes later she knocked on the door to tell me she was leaving for school. She normally catches a ride with the neighbor kids down the street but they haven't been getting to the school early enough for Oldest. (I know!) Whatever. She's going to school; I'm going back to bed. For another 35 minutes, anyway.

7:25 a.m.

Waffle called to tell me how her morning has already started, so I walked out to the car while chatting with her and we talked the entire ride from my house to Hubby's work. Our topics ranged from The Kitten (hers), and his endless not-smartness (he doesn't know how to cat) that's tempered with cuteness to keep him alive, my inability last night to make Microsoft Word sit up and bark like I needed it to (something it's still refusing to do), traffic (she was commuting), and how I can't understand both halves of a conversation I'm right in the middle of when one half is talking in my ear and the other half is my husband, sitting right there in the car.

Hubby counted the day off to a good start because his daily commute takes him by a field where a gorgeous male ring-necked pheasant and his two hens live, and he saw the male and one of the hens this morning.

Waffle and Hubby both went into work, and I drove home, taking Middle into school once I got there. She's still having issues with the bus ride. It's longer in the morning, has more stops (squeaky brakes), there's a lot of kids, a cranked radio, and generally a lot of direct noise to scramble her headache right before the school day starts. She's also still tolerating only about a half day. Today, she toted in her baritone, because one of the valves was sticking. I confirmed with her that I'd see her before lunch.

Right. On with the rest of my morning.

9:05 a.m.

All hail Diet Dr Pepper, righter of worlds. I stuffed about a hundred envelopes for the newsletter I needed to send out, and then got started trying to untangle the problem between Word, Excel, and the Mail Merge That Would Not Happen last night. Perhaps the source Excel file (which was old) had a corruption that wasn't causing enough of an issue to bork Excel when I opened the file, but enough to cause issues when I tried to do something complicated like print labels from a data set. Solution? Create new file from scratch.

11:10 a.m.

I arrived at Middle's school and went in to sign her out. As I did, Middle told me the principal wanted to talk to me.

Oh, rapturous delight.

We've been hitting snags with getting Middle the help she needs while not having her stay in school during the day longer than she can handle without it giving her a huge headache. The PA we saw at the concussion clinic (who I was never exceptionally fond of, but for the fact that he did give us a great post-concussion care plan, despite his meager attempts to assist us in managing it) had said, at Middle's last appointment, that it sounded like she would benefit from independent instruction. If we wanted to do that, we needed to let him know. This was about three weeks ago. In subsequent discussions with Middle and then the principal, we decided to go this route. The principal didn't tell us (astonishingly enough) that there was a form we needed to have the PA fill out. So, we told the principal (rather enthusiastically) that we'd call the PA and he would fax something over.

Silly us for thinking it would be that simple.

I called, and within two days they called us back to say that the school needed to send them the form. They wouldn't do anything. They needed the form. When we finally reconnected with the principal about it (thinking she would have mentioned the form in the first place during all of the discussions prior), she says, "Yes, there's a form. Would you like me to email it to you?" PLEASE. She sent it to me on a Thursday. I had it faxed to the PA's office the next day. (This was the end of last week.)

So I'm already dreading this conversation. Middle's well-child checkup had been Monday, and I'd forgotten to a) get an excuse for that, and b) have the doctor give us an excuse for the rest of the time Middle had been out because she was throwing-up sick, which we had discussed at the appointment. The doctor had refused anything but the excuse for the day of the excuse produced by the principal, which was for the wrong day. OY. I explained that they screwed it up. The principal said I'd have to have them fax a new one. Then the issue of homebound instruction came up, and I said I'd sent the forms to the other doctor last week. I promised to call and to discuss ways that Middle could get further instruction time under her belt, while explaining that we still have to get Middle to see the neurologist again (tomorrow's appointment) and that she needs to see the eye doctor too.

Home again, jiggity.

11:35 a.m.

Middle and I have a heart-to-heart about some stuff because I was worried about the conversation we'd had in the car on the way home from school. I ended up pulling her into my lap, explaining that I would raise holy heck at the PA's office and we'd get her an eye doctor appointment and we'd see the neurologist and it was all going to work out.

"Why do you do all this for me?" she whispered.

I hugged her close. "Because you're my daughter and I love you."

"I love hearing you say those words."

Cue the heart going squoosh and the gooshy feelings.

2:10 p.m.

Oldest was tucked away in her counseling session, so I stepped outside to make the call to the PA's office. I explained my need, and they looked up Middle's chart.

"Yes, ma'am, we faxed that over to them today. It's all set."

Well. That was easy. Too easy...?

I went back inside the building and sat down, and my phone rang. It was my mother. I stepped outside again. She wanted to know what size shirts the twins wore, because she had $20 in Kohl's Cash and was going shopping for them.

I was back inside the building a bit longer this time and had gotten about ten pages further in my book and the waiting room had cleared out to just little ol' me when my phone rang again. Middle's school. What now?

It was the school counselor. She'd gotten the form from the PA's office, she said, but they'd refused to fill it out.

All of the bad words. All of them. "They what?"

"The only signature on the form is yours."

I muffled a scream only because I was in public. "They said they'd do this for us if we got them the form!"

The counselor was apologetic. She had called the PA's office herself. The receptionist informed her that she'd just done what the office manager said to do.

EGAD. I am SO done with these people and their incompetence.

"They want her neurologist to do it."

Handy. She sees the neurologist tomorrow. The counselor got very excited about that, and offered to send home new forms with Youngest. Square deal, thanks. I vented my frustration through messages to Hubby and Waffle.

Mom called again at 2:45, and I was beginning to feel like the most popular person in the world. She wanted to know if a dress she found at a yard sale was something Oldest would like. I said I wouldn't know until Oldest came out of session in another fifteen minutes or so. (She did, so I called Mom back then with the good news.)

3:10 p.m.

I stopped and got ice cream cones for both Oldest and me at McDonald's on our way over to Hubby's work.

Because sometimes you just need a cone.

Or twelve.

6:35 p.m.

Everyone headed out the door for Oldest's Choir concert at school. The choir director does a really good job with his students, and Oldest loves being in choir. Tonight's concert would feature the 6th Grade Chorus, the Accidentals (a select-voice jazz ensemble), and the 7th & 8th Grade Choir, with a finale musical montage featuring all three groups. Oldest ran off to join the ruckus of choir kids gathering at the front, and we found seats.

Hubby and I are sort of musical geeks; we met in our college's semi-professional a cappella choir. We know good music when we hear it. (We also know bad music when we hear it.) These kids have never failed to impress us. The Accidentals did a fantastic job; these kids audition to be in the group, and there's only about 15 or so of them. They did a Gershwin piece a cappella, a stretch for them, and we were both very impressed with how skillfully they pulled that off. (Gershwin is not easy.) The teacher hardly had to direct at all when they sang "Route 66."

That's her, on the end.
Oldest turned out to be in the front row, so it was a treat to watch her enjoy herself singing the music we've heard her humming around the house.

The finale that brought everyone onstage was a selection of five songs from Disney's Moana. One young lady could've easily handled all the solo pieces that were Moana's. I really liked her voice.

Then the one boy soloist came forward to sing. He tackled Maui's more prominent parts in "You're Welcome," and had us all laughing. I felt he could've used just a bit more sass when he hollered, "And thank you!" at the end of the song, but otherwise he did great.

Hubby leaned around Middle, who was between us, and whispered. "I like him. Oldest should pick him." Say what? "She can marry him. I like him already. He sings! He can come around any time."

Lemme tell you, the admiration only grew after the kid tackled the Hawaiian in the closing song. Hubby spent three of his growing-up years there, and he loves the language. Hubby flipped through the bi-folded program. "Look!" he whispered again. "His last name is only two letters off from ours. She wouldn't have to change it much. It's meant to be!"

Poor kid. He's won a son-in-law sweepstakes he hasn't known he's entered.

Hubby even started in on the idea with Oldest when she joined us...and promptly turned down Hubby's match-making ideas.

"Why, Dad?" she asked with the kind of aggravated petulance that only soon-to-be 13-year-olds can pull off.

"He sings!"

I grinned and joined in. "He can work on his pitch control."

Hubby just stared at me. "He's a teenage boy. There's no such thing as pitch control."

I suppose there are days when it's a good thing that having a contralto voice and being a girl means I didn't have much in the way of voice-altering vocal woes during puberty. This would be one of them.

He's so cute when he sleeps.

It's just about bedtime for me. At least, what I should call bedtime.

But I need to make a list of the concerns we have that we need to bring to the neurologist for tomorrow's appointment.

Makaha is snoring on the back of the couch next to me. Perhaps the list should wait until morning, when I'll remember it better anyway. Because I honestly think Makaha has the better idea...

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Full Rich Day

Here at the 4077th Casa Auntie J, it's been what we like to affectionately call "a full rich day."

In other words, I've run me off my own feet.

Since 6:10 a.m., I have done the following:

  • Woke up and checked on Oldest, who had gotten sick in the middle of the night. Still sick. Texted her ride to say she wasn't going in.
  • Got up again with the twins. Middle informed me that she didn't think she could do a full day of school today (it was supposed to be her first). Okay, half day.
  • Drove Middle to school. Forgot phone.
  • Came home and copied new crock-pot recipes from web browser to Word.
  • Called Middle's school nurse back to confirm that I had, in fact, not given Middle any Tylenol for her persistent concussion-related headache yet this morning, because I am already frazzled.
  • Composed grocery list and checked grocery budget.
  • Got dressed in real clothes.
  • Got out of the house ten minutes late. Nearly forgot phone.
  • Aldi run. I have half an hour to shop.
  • Picked up Middle from school at the halfway point, but 15 minutes late. Darn having to pack my own grocery bags, but I saved a good $17 on my own estimate of my total.
  • Hijacked Middle and went on the second half of the grocery run at Walmart (including the big kid's birthday presents). Spent some time on the trip explaining why I shop on a budget and how I compare prices. (It all started because she speculated about having lots of money, enough to fund her own phone for 15 years.)
  • Didn't even leave the store when I realized we'd forgotten the sunglasses I'd promised we'd get Middle (they have a bunch for $2.50). Ran back in.
  • Got home in time to unload the car (yay, muscles!) and start putting stuff away before Dan had to leave for work.
  • Put dinner (new recipe) in the crock pot. (Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken, if you're interested.)
  • Sliced my thumb open while trying to cut a whole garlic bulb in half. (Nothing a bandaid didn't fix. I'm fine. Honest. I did NOT pull a startling impression of my sainted mother. This was actually for tonight's dinner.
  • Prepped 15+ pounds of chicken for both fridge (tomorrow's birthday dinner) and freezer.
  • Prepped scallions for the freezer with Middle's help.
  • Realized I totally forgot to eat lunch.
  • Had a snack.
  • Wrote this post.
  • Realized Middle probably forgot to have lunch, too. (Mother of the Year award, here I come!)
And I still have to put in the potatoes to bake for dinner and make tomorrow's cake for Special Edition's 21st birthday (I will not have time tomorrow, that's for sure). AND I have writers' group tonight.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hard Hat and Bubble Wrap, Stat

At Middle's follow-up with her doctor on Monday, she was referred to what's called the "concussion clinic," a part of the health group's practice that specializes a little more in concussions and their treatment.

We went there today. I had to hold her elbow again today as we walked into the building, much like I had on Monday when we walked into the doctor's office. She's still having trouble walking in a straight line.

I helped Middle fill out the demographic information on the computer screen, then concentrated on my own paperwork to fill out while she completed an assessment test designed to determine how impaired her cognition is, as well as gauging her symptoms. I was sternly instructed not to help with this part, so I didn't...with the exception of defining a few words that Middle had trouble with.

I couldn't help but think she might've been able to figure them out on her own, had her poor head not been in a jumble. She's such a smart cookie.

We went through the spiel again with both the nurse and the PA about Saturday's accident. When he asked me what I meant by "nonresponsive for 75 minutes," I told him she didn't talk or respond or say anything during that time, no matter how we tried to get her to talk to us. Basically unconscious, sir, with the exception of being able to see into her eyes a tiny bit.

Middle still couldn't perform the horizontal nystagmus (that's put-your-finger-on-your-nose, for you folks not up on your big words) today, just like Monday. She still had trouble tracking where a finger was located if asked to touch it.

The upshot of today's visit? Her concussion is severe. Recovery will likely be slow and take time. (These were not the words my notoriously impatient, let's-do-it-now child wanted to hear.)

We have a referral to a pediatric neurologist, just in case. We're starting that now, because it takes about two months to get in to see one. If we don't need it, we can always cancel the referral. But we don't want to be a month behind if we discover in a month that we do need that referral.

Middle is also being referred to physical therapy to help with her balance and dizziness issues.

The PA at the concussion clinic drew up a pretty comprehensive plan for Middle's return to school, based on her assessment today. She's out for the rest of the week, and goes back for half-days on Monday. I'm glad she doesn't have to go back yet, based on her continued balance issues and sensitivity to light and sound.

We go back to the concussion clinic for a follow-up in two weeks to see where we are.

In the meantime, I think I'm investing in a hard hat and bubble wrap for my kid, whose head is apparently not as hard as I thought.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Survey Says

I took Middle in this morning to see her doctor because she was still not feeling quite well and her head was still in a significant amount of pain. Middle had actually approached me last night, worried about going to school today. Well, I was worried about sending her. So when I called the doctor's office and was offered an appointment for Tuesday, I asked for something today.

When we arrived, I learned that the cardiologist from the hospital's affiliated group had already been in contact with our doctor and had confirmed Middle's diagnosis of the rare Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome.

Apparently, the way it appears on the EKG is very distinct, and her EKG displayed the classic hallmarks.

Middle had a tough time performing some standardized tests, showing that she was still having difficulty with her balance. Her vision was still a bit blurry.

The doctor agreed that Middle needed to be off school today, and tomorrow, and referred us to both the concussion clinic as well as a pediatric cardiologist.

With her Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome confirmed, our next step is going to be meeting with the cardiologist and seeing what treatment options he suggests.