Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Lexical Legacy

On my refrigerator, there is a magnetic pad of paper, a Christmas gift from one of my children, full of green pages with a cheery little reindeer at the bottom of each.

And on that pad is a list.

I don’t remember what caused me to be scrolling through a map of the state of Indiana, but I’d grabbed that pad as I perused the state at close detail, because I needed to note the hilarious city names I’d found.

Muddy. Correct. Advance. Herod. Tunnel Hill. Galatia. Buncombe. Oolitic. Popcorn. Bippus. Lost Hill. Lively Grove. Loogootee. Santa Claus. Tunnelton. Alto Pass. Wynoose. French Lick!

I kid you not; they all exist.

As do Coosawhatchie (FL), Hunker (PA), Frostburg (MD), Loyalsock (PA), Short Pump (VA), Ypsilanti (MI), and Barker Ten Mile (NC).

What do all those have to do with Dad? I’m so glad you asked.

When it comes to my relationship with Dad, there was so much that we shared that it’s hard to pick something. Everything reminds me of him, but if I had to choose just one thing, it would be this: we were both obsessed with words.

We collected and shared city names that tickled our fancies. In part, that’s where the list above came from.

We’d started with vanity plates. His favorite, to this day, was the snooty, uppercrust, expensive car with a tag that read: TIS JAMES. The more we could challenge each other to figure a plate out without writing it down first, the better. Dad would often give me only two letters or characters at a time, deliberately pausing when there was no break, just to throw me off.

I think it was in 2002 when the hunting of wordplay took off, though. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan had just started, and I watched a fair amount of news with the patient I was sitting with. Dad sent me an email with only this question: “What do you think is the most fun city name currently in the news?”

For the girl who had once giggled constantly over the word purple, this was fun. My reply was one word only. Jalalabad! Which, of course, having known me all my life, was exactly what Dad knew I would say.

Our collection expanded to cities. Then streams and rivers (Hellbranch Run, Difficult Run Creek, North Anna River…and South Anna River, too)…and street names (Mutton Hollow Road, Pre-Emption Road, Temporary Lane, and Puckertoot Road, to name a few)…and businesses (Lost Sock Laundry, Curl up and Dye beauty shop, and Hickdaddy’s BBQ).

When he started working for ACS (now Xerox, which is a fun word in and of itself), he would occasionally consult me on matters of grammar or phrasing. Or he would call to tell me the latest crazy commentary one of his coworkers had left for him.
Then I got laid off from my job, and decided to launch my own business. Dad was thrilled. We could now compare notes on the horrible sins of bad writing (and not just Mom’s penchant for dropped words)!

And now there was a new layer to the word game: I started texting him with the last names of sources for all of the scholarly journal articles I was editing. I’m not sure which of us laughed more at the potential pronunciation of some of those.

We didn’t stop there, either. We enjoyed many of the same TV shows, and we would text each other our favorite lines from whatever we were watching, whether it was The Mentalist, NCIS, or Top Gear (hands down, a favorite). Even better was trying to figure out what the other had just quoted from…because we often didn’t say who was speaking, just for the fun of guessing. We loved the art of wordplay and turns of phrase (this included song lyrics, too).

With the advent of memes mashing words together to create new ones, and Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day notifications, we had even more to share with each other. Most recently, I told him that I had to find a way to work the verb “absquatulate” into my regular conversation. (He naturally responded, using it in his reply.)

Words tied us inextricably together. Whether they were vanity plate shortforms, names of people, places or things, blog posts about the kids that made him nearly shoot soda out his nose (I did that more than once, and giggled every time he told me that), or commentary on whatever prose he or I were currently dissecting, always there were words. Perhaps it’s fanciful of me, but I always thought Dad and I understood each other on a level that we didn’t really share with anyone else.

There are so many, many things that made Dad all that he was to me, and not nearly enough words to explain them all. I have lost my daddy, my mentor, my friend, my partner in crime, my anchor…and I cannot even begin to describe everything that Dad was. There simply are no words.

No words for the amount of love, no words for the laughter, no words for the heartache.

The hope I cling to is that, someday, the Word made Flesh returns, and wipes away every tear…and Dad and I will be able to play with words together, again.

I love you so much, Dad, and I miss you. See you soon.


**Note: This was my personal tribute, which was read at Dad's memorial service on Monday this week.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

No Words

I have been blog-absent for several reasons. Life got very insane here about a month ago, and I didn't have a whole lot of time to catch up.

Then school let out.

Then we left for vacation—a week in sunny Florida with my parents—two days after that.

We had a wonderful time. We stayed at my folks' place about an hour outside of Tampa, squeezing all of us into their cozy little mobile home in a Wesleyan retirement community. We went to the beach. We went to Downtown Disney. We rode the monorail all the way around the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. We monopolized the pool in my folks' community. We celebrated Dad's birthday (his 71st). We celebrated Father's Day three days early, on Thursday.

And on Friday, June 19th, we got up ugly early to drive home.

With four kids, two adults, and a thousand-mile trip ahead of us, we hugged and said our goodbyes. Mom and Dad were staying another five days or so to close up their place and have it renter-ready for the folks who had just arranged to rent it for this coming November and December.

We got home late Friday night, after 1 a.m. I suppose that makes it technically Saturday, but I'm always of the mind that it's not the next day until I get a night's sleep in between.

Saturday afternoon, we returned the minivan we'd rented for our trip, and then Hubby and I stopped at Walmart on our way home to get some essential groceries to last us until, well, I got up the oomph to get to a grocery store. I had awakened with a headache and wanted nothing more than to go back to bed as soon as we got home. By the time we got back and I headed upstairs to my jammies and my bed, it was quarter to 4.

I don't think I was up there much more than half an hour when Hubby came up. I could tell by his face that something was wrong.

"Mom just called," he said, in that kind of hushed, I-can't-believe-this tone. "She said we left too soon. Dad's heart stopped. She called the squad. They're working on him and taking him to the hospital."

My entire world rocked. "Is he gone?"

Hubby looked uncertain. "I don't know."

A few minutes later, he called Mom back. She was at the hospital. Dad was hooked up to machines, she reported, but he was unresponsive.

I have read far too many of Ambulance Driver's blog posts to ignore what that meant...but I ignored it for awhile longer anyway. I didn't want to recognize the most likely reality until I absolutely had to. I know that the writers of ER have always gotten it wrong, because to recover a patient from complete asystole is very unlikely (less than 2% success rate).

While I desperately wanted to be alone while I waited for further news, Hubby stayed with me. The absolute horror of what could be happening in Florida hovered heavily over the bedroom. I begged God to save my daddy. I wasn't ready to lose him. Wasn't ready to navigate life without him. I needed him. Please, God, intervene. Heal Dad.

Hubby logged into Skype on his phone to see if he had Sis and BIL's contact information on his account, since I couldn't remember my password for Skype. He called my sister to let her know what was going on, what little we knew. They determined it would be best if she got in touch with Bro to let him know what was going on.

Thirty (give or take) of the longest minutes of my life later, the Top Gear theme blasted from Hubby's phone. He answered immediately. "Hello... Yes... Okay... Thank you for letting us know."

I couldn't tell from his side of the conversation what the news was.

"Bye."

And as I watched, Hubby's head dropped.

So did my heart.

He turned to look at me...and shook his head.

Grief flooded me. "My daddy's gone?"

"Yes." He could only whisper the word.

And I fell apart.

I screamed and cried and screamed and cried, and then I screamed and cried some more.
I begged Hubby to tell me it wasn't true.

It probably took me at least half an hour to pull myself together enough. I had posted on Facebook, requesting prayer, and now I had to start telling my friends that Dad was beyond prayers.

And we had to tell the kids their beloved Poppa was gone.

It was horribly unfair.

It was horrible. Period.

We sat down with the kids, turning the TV off, breaking the news as gently as we could. They took it hard.

With not knowing where Bro was even living, and Sis being overseas, someone needed to be with Mom.

Hubby started working the family network and found out that two of my cousins were flying down that night. Their daughter was willing to drive me down the next day.

I had not even been home 24 hours before I left again, meeting up with my cousin at my aunt and uncle's (her grandparents) about an hour away.

Hubby said, as we piled in the car for the drive to my aunt and uncle's, that their son was asking how I was doing.

I had a fit.

"My dad is dead! His 88-year-old father is still alive and kicking, but my 71-year-old dad isn't! How does he think I'm doing?!"

As it turned out, we all ended up driving down on Father's Day, because Former Hurricane Bill was having a rainy field day and flights were canceled.

We spent the next few days helping Mom deal with details regarding Dad and what he wanted and what that would mean, and getting everything she didn't want to leave in Florida packed and loaded into my cousins' minivan. Mom didn't want to have to come back, in case she later decided to sell. The extent of my help was just being there; I was too overwhelmed to be much practical good. And it was very hard to be back in the house, where Dad had been so vibrantly alive just a few days ago.

Dad wanted to be cremated, so Mom honored his wishes. I did get to see him one last time; he sure looked like he was asleep (or faking it), waiting for his grandies to come in and wake him up with a zillion kisses. But he felt so wrong. Dad was full of life, warm and caring, soft and squishy (sorry, Dad; you know it's true). This looked like Dad, but it was painfully obvious that Dad was no longer there. The Crystal Bald should not feel like an ice pack, and yet it did. There was no give when I touched his chest. Hard and stiff...this was just a house.

I am still struggling to understand a world without Dad. I miss him so much. Both Oldest and I hit big birthdays next month, and the thought of Dad not being there is heart-wrenching.

Sis, BIL, and their kids are wrapping up their work overseas in Romania, preparing to come home to the States for at least the next year. They arrive back in the States on Tuesday.

Because of the complexities of overseas travel and wanting Sis and her family to not have to jump from jetlag to a memorial service, Dad's service won't be until July 6. That's going to be a very tough day, for more reasons that just that it will be chock-full of remembering Dad and lots and lots and lots of tears. However, I can say this: Mom is planning the kind of service I know Dad would have wanted. It won't be short, but it will be a fitting tribute to the best man I've ever know.

Best. Dad. Ever.
1944-2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I can't make this stuff up!

"Mommy, there's something wrong with my nose."

I looked up at Oldest. "What do you mean?"

"There's something weird happening when I blow my nose." She paused for a moment, and then announced with certainty, "I think it's a curse or something."

Oh boy.

"What's happening?"

"When I blow my nose, it...there's... A bubble comes out when I try to blow my nose."

"That's called a snot bubble. It happens. It's not a curse."

"Oh. Okay." With that, Oldest skipped out of the room.

Where do they come up with this stuff?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mother's Day Brunch

Due to our church's schedule of other events, the annual Mother's Day Brunch was held this morning.

Despite my last-minute invite and my mom still recovering from foot surgery, she was able to come. (Dad and Hubby went to brunch together and then out to whack some golf balls.)

The ladies in charge of today's event did a great job, and Middle was surprised to see men there, because Daddy had told her that men weren't allowed, and that's why he and Poppa weren't going.

I explained that the men in question had done all of the cooking for us ladies. "Men cook?" Middle asked, agog.

That's really hilarious, especially when you consider the fact that Hubby cooks just as many meals as I do here. It's not like they don't see him cook.

Three different door prizes had been donated by ladies affiliated with the church who also run their own direct-sales businesses. Everybody got three tickets to put in the drawings, and you could choose which drawings you wanted to enter.

I was busily scrawling names on our tickets for myself and the girls, and one of my favorite first-service ladies came up and gave me a hug, saying, "Happy first Mother's Day Brunch, Mom!" (I did an inner cartwheel.)

At the same time, Youngest was very perplexed on the other side of the table as she watched my mom write her name.

"No," she said to my mom, "you have to write Daddy's Last Name."

"But this is my last name," Mom said.

"We got adopted, though!"

"Yes, you got adopted. But I didn't. So my name is still the same."

I don't think Youngest was very convinced, from what Mom said later.

It was awful cute, though, that she thought Gramma and Poppa should now also have Daddy's Last Name.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Misadventures of the Really Big Kid

I had a pretty nasty headache Sunday night, so I got up this morning long enough to get Oldest off to school, then woke Hubby and said, "Tag." He got the twins off to school before heading into the office, and I crashed.

Then I was awakened by a call from Hubby.

PeeJay was on his way to get me, he said.

Why?

Because Hubby was suffering (medically mild) convulsions at work. 

His doctor had put him on a new medication a little over a week ago, and he was having issues with it waking him up early, but didn't consider that to be more than an irritating inconvenience.

He'd gone into work and was fine, although he'd been awake for a long time this morning. But then he started to quiver and shake. He researched side effects of his new med. Convulsions were rare, but...wait, what are convulsions? The part of the medical definition fit what he was experiencing: uncontrollable limb movement.

It kept getting worse.

So he did something he's never done in the past nearly-four years he's been at PSC. He called PeeJay to his office.

PeeJay gave him a funny look as he walked into the office. Hubby acknowledged that this was weird. He then explained what had been going on, sitting there quivering the whole time.

PeeJay did really good at not reacting as Hubby talked.

Hubby wrapped up his explanation, saying deadpan, "I'm having a little trouble concentrating."

PeeJay chuckled. "I would imagine so!"

By the time PeeJay got me to the church office, Hubby had safely navigated downstairs and was chatting with their ministry assistant. Honestly, he looked like a blob of jello. (PeeJay said the same thing.) Hubby showed both of us how he could force the jitters to stop on one arm, but it would send the other into faster spasms.

He had a call in to the doc, but we haven't heard back yet.

I had to take his coffee when we got in the car, because he couldn't hold it without spilling and get into the car at the same time. "It's hard to balance on one foot when that foot's shaking!" he said.

We got home and he nuked his coffee. Then he tried to drink it.

His hand wouldn't hold still.

I almost told him to make sure his head quivered at the same rate as his hand so that he could synchronize and drink.

He tried three more times.

No soap.

"Will you get me a straw?"

I got him a bendy straw from the pantry.

He had to bend over and sip his coffee that way.

He decided the bed was the safest place for him (I said the couch; less distance to the floor should he rattle himself off).

"You may have to answer my phone when the doc calls back. I'm not sure I can," he commented.

He'd gone upstairs and I was contemplating lunch options when my phone chimed an incoming text.

It was Hubby.

"Well hey you should come up here. We wouldn't even need to put a quarter in the bed."

I laughed so loudly that he heard me.

I'm not sorry at all.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

OH-FIH-SHULL!

I've waited a couple of days to let the emotional dust settle before really writing about Thursday's hearing (best. hearing. EVAR!), but I'm finding it's still really hard to wrap my head around that day's events.

Everything is the same, and yet...everything is different.

We tried to take Thursday as easily as possible, but we still ended up rushing around right before we left. My husband was sure my parents weren't going to leave their house on time, and in an effort to assure me that they really were on their way and getting closer—while I was frantically trying to finish Small's special hairdo, still not dressed myself, with Hubby hollering about his missing white dress shirt, and holding a hot curling iron—Dad sent repeated texts with local landmarks they were passing.

JJ had been sending me hourly countdown texts all morning, which was great fun, but since I was holding a hot curling iron near a small-ish child, I couldn't just look at my phone, so I wasn't sure if it was her again (her last one said, "90 minutes! I think we can safely count by minutes now") or if it was Dad. When my phone bleated with what seemed like the twentieth text in as many seconds, I shouted, "Stop texting me!"

Had no idea who I was yelling at, really.

Turned out it was my dad. (He was amused when I told him.)

We were supposed to meet Ms. Sciuto on the second floor of the courthouse at 1:45. Dad and Hubby dropped off all of us outside the courthouse before parking the cars, in deference to my mother's tenuous and still-recovering health, my bad ankle, and my mother-in-law's fused ankle. We herded the kids inside the building and then tried to explain why they had to go through a metal detector. Ms. Sciuto had arrived ahead of us, and warned the deputies that we would be coming through with cameras, so we had no problems there once they went through the x-ray.

Dad and Hubby soon joined us on the second floor. The previous hearing in Courtroom 4 had concluded, and so we were able to get in and show the Fries what the courtroom looked like. Ms. Sciuto indicated the judge's bench and the witness stand and got enough chairs for all five of us to sit by her. Proud grandparents along with Jester and Mitzy got relegated to the gallery.

The bailiff announced the judge's entrance, and we all stood. Before she sat, she chose to administer the oath for those of us giving testimony, and asked us to raise our right hands. Hubby and I both knew we would be testifying, and that the judge might ask the kids some questions, but it was comical when all three of them raised their hands, too. (Large got it right, but the twins mirrored the judge's stance, and so we had to get them to raise the correct hands.) We all said, "I do," when prompted by the judge after she finished the oath to tell the truth.

Ms. Sciuto called me to the stand first, since Hubby had had such trouble with dates in our hearing last year. I was asked first to provide my name, address, age, and date of birth, then my husband's name, date of birth, and the date of our marriage. He's usually the one who has issues remembering dates, especially our wedding, but I blanked for about ten seconds on our anniversary. There was a chuckle as it was obvious that I'd had a momentary brain-blank...but, let me tell you, that showed the tone of the whole proceeding.
Moi.

Ms. Sciuto walked me through her questions. I described our home and our neighborhood. Yes, the statements and facts in the petition were true and correct, to the best of my knowledge. Yes, I did file three petitions to adopt the three children present. Yes, I felt I had developed a parent/child bond with Large. And Medium. And Small. (I managed to hold it together through that without losing it. Barely.) Yes, I understood that the granting of the adoption petition would make these children as though they were my natural children, that they were entitled to inherit as any natural child, that I would be responsible for them in all ways (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially) until at least the age of 18 or possibly beyond. Yes, the disclosure of fees was correct (OUCH, but correct). Yes, these are the decrees, the correct current names, and the correct (and correctly spelled) proposed new names. Yes, we did discuss these with the children. Then Ms. Sciuto announced that she had no more questions.

Judge K turned to me. "How did you come up with these names? I am just really curious."

Yeah, wasn't quite expecting that one.

"Small and I share the same first name, and as Hubby and I were discussing the new names, we realized that having two of us in the same house with essentially the same name, the only difference being the middle name, was going to be a bad idea. We'd seen records get confused before, both with my late father-in-law and my husband's brother, and with other friends. We didn't want that," I said. "So we opted to make Small's first name her middle name, so that she could still be called that, but change her first name. The one we chose was in honor of my dad, since it's the feminine form of his name."

Watching and waiting while I testify.
I smiled at Small and then went on. "Small loved the new name, and so we then asked Medium what she would like, what changes she might want to have. She said she wanted more letters." At this, Medium vehemently shook her head, and chuckles came from the court gallery and the bench. "Yes, you did. I remember that discussion at bedtime." Medium continued shake her head. "We gave her the additional letters she wanted, keeping the same phonetics but changing the spelling.

"Large was a different story. At first, we were just going to drop the hyphenated part of her middle name. Then Hubby wanted to change her middle name to the feminine form of his dad's name, to honor him, which we liked, and so did Large...for a couple of months. Then she came to us and proposed a different name, because she said her friends didn't like the new one we had talked about. We thought it would be a passing phase, but she continued to talk about it. For a year. We discussed it several times, and the last time, she was able to tell us that she wanted a name that held good memories for her." It was hard to explain how we'd extrapolated from Large's explanation—that she associated her birth first name with "houses" and it gave her bad memories, and the new first name she wanted was associated with "good houses" and people she loved—that she was clearly trying to separate herself from the name given to her by the parents who had walked away from her, and take a name that was hers, one tied to the people she loves. And with all of the Fries there in court, I certainly didn't want to say that out loud. Judge K is a smart lady, and with the way I spoke, I was sure she could put two and two together.

"So, after that conversation, we agreed to the change that Large wanted," I finished.

Hubby's turn.
Judge K then dismissed me from the stand. "Thank you. That was the only question I really had."

Ms. Sciuto called Hubby to the stand. He went through the same litany of questions that I did, although Ms. Sciuto skipped the descriptive questions I had and simply asked if he substantially agreed to my testimony. When asked if he understood that he would be responsible for raising and disciplining and loving these children, Hubby smiled. "Yep, just keep doing what we're doing." More chuckles from the gallery (peanut and otherwise).

Ms. Sciuto addressed Judge K, and introduced all three girls. Judge K noted which girl was wearing what color, complimenting each of the girls' dresses as she did so. Then Ms. Sciuto said, "Your Honor, the girls have all said they would like to try sitting in the witness box."

Judge K nodded, and Ms. Sciuto called Large Fry up. "Who are these two people next to me?"

Large talks with Judge K.
"My mom and dad," Large Fry said quietly.

"Do you know why we're here today?"

"Yes, 'cause it's adoption day."

"Is this what you want, for them to be your real mom and dad?"

"Uh-huh."

Ms. Sciuto smiled encouragingly, and said she had no more questions.

Judge K scooted her chair down closer to the witness stand so she could more easily talk to Large. I wasn't sure what kinds of questions she would ask, but Judge K didn't disappoint. Her questions were very well oriented to the age of her young witnesses.

"Do you know what 'adoption' means?" Judge K asked first.

Large shook her head, and the court reporter turned so she could see and read body language and lips to get answers.

Judge K took some time to explain what adoption meant, avoiding the legalese and saying it meant that our family was going to be official now. Then she asked what grade Large was in, and what her favorite subject was.

And what kind of rules we have.

Large was intimidated enough by the events that she couldn't think of any, but nodded when the judge offered suggestions like keeping her room clean and doing her homework. Oh, I thought, I hope she doesn't ask Small Fry that, because Small has had one of those weeks where she's been on the wrong end of the rules quite a bit.

Judge K then asked if Large wanted us to be her real mom and dad. There was no hesitation. "Yes!"

Medium in the box.
Then it was Medium's turn. Ms. Sciuto asked the same general questions of her that she'd asked of Large, and turned it over to the judge.

"What's your favorite thing to do with your mom?"

"I just like to be with her."

"What's your favorite thing to do with your dad?"

"I like to be next to him. And another word for it is snuggle."

That brought grins and chuckles from more than a few of us, because, well, Hubby and I knew that's the word she'd use, and it was so quintessentially Medium that we couldn't help but laugh.

"And do you want them to be your real, official mom and dad?"

"Oh, yes!"

Small climbed up into the witness box next, and the bailiff helped her get close and adjusted the microphone, just as he had for her sisters. Ms. Sciuto repeated the same questions again for Small before nodding to the judge.

Judge K's questions for Small followed in the same vein as those she'd asked Large and Medium, ending with, "Do you want them to be your real mom and dad?"

Small's grin lit up her face as she nodded, and then said, "Yes!"

Small skipped back to her seat as the judge moved her chair back to the center of the bench.

Judge K shuffled papers across the desk, sorting out the ones she needed. "I have absolutely no doubt," she said, looking directly at Hubby and me, "that you will continue to care for these children and provide for all of their needs, emotionally, physically, and—" here her voice caught—"spiritually. This has been a long road for all of you, and now the end is in sight. I have no worries about the future of these children; they are in excellent hands. I have been through this journey with you, and I am convinced that these girls could not be loved more than they already are. Therefore, it is my great pleasure to sign these decrees and make you an official family, confirming what you've been for so long already." She looked over at the kids and smiled. "Judges don't often get to do fun things. Judges have to do sad things and hard things and scary things a lot of the time. This is the best sort of thing that I get to do." Judge K looked over at Ms. Sciuto. "So, I will sign these, just as you've prepared them, Ms. Sciuto."

Making it official.
She picked up her pen and began to sign her name. She addressed Large by name and said, "I've signed this decree, and it says your name will now be Oldest."

She slid that sheet over, and picked up Medium's. "Oh, Ms. Sciuto. There's an error on here. Um, see me afterward and we'll get this sorted out." She signed the decree anyway, and spoke to Medium. "I've signed this decree, and it says your name will now be Middle. And no one will ever say your middle name the wrong way again."

Then she took Small's decree and signed it before turning to Small. "I've signed this decree, and your name will now be Youngest."
Judge K, Middle, and Flat Stanley

Judge K's smile beamed through the room. "It gives me such delight to declare you an official family. Happy Adoption Day!"

There was lots of blinking back tears.

Judge K, Youngest, and Flat Stanley
Ms. Sciuto stood. "Your Honor, they would like to get some pictures with you, if that's okay. Especially the two youngest girls—they have Flat Stanleys."

Judge K laughed. "Flat Stanley has been all over Courtroom 1."

The judge was kind enough to pose for a whole mess of pictures, although she confessed to getting flustered over where to look. She posed with each twin and their respective Flat Stanleys, then with all three girls, and then with all five of us.

Officially official!
As Hubby and the girls drifted away and my mom came forward to show the judge the scrapbook she'd made to tell our adoption story, the judge's eyes met mine. Hers shimmered with happy tears. "I am so happy for you all," she told me. "I am so glad that you were finally able to do this. I really have no doubt that they're in great hands."
Judge K loved Mom's book.

We moved out of the courtroom amid hugs from everyone, including Jester and Mitzy. "You held it together so well up there!" Mitzy exclaimed.

Jester concurred. "I wasn't sure you were going to make it," he teased.

"Yeah, well, I wasn't sure I was going to make it, either."

We got some pictures with Ms. Sciuto, and then decided that, since the majority of us adults had skipped lunch (I don't know that you could count my Little Debbie Nutty Bars as lunch), we would go out for an early celebratory dinner. Since this hearing qualified as a religious experience, really, we decided that TGI Friday's was the best choice.
Jester, Mitzy, & girls.

"Besides, I have to get my keys back from the guards downstairs," Dad said.

"What?" I asked.

"They wouldn't let me take my keys up because of the pocketknife on my keychain."

I chuckled. "Those things are lethal, you know."

However, when we got to Friday's and I couldn't get the cross-hatches on Oldest's slushie lid to open up for her straw, Dad volunteered the services of his knife.

"See?" he said. "I told you it could come in handy."

Then he showed me this picture he'd taken on the way into the restaurant.



"Forever Family. It's everywhere!"


Thursday, April 9, 2015

More later...

...but I wanted to at least put up a quick post about today.

The hearing went great, and the adoption was happily signed off on by the judge.

Here we are, with my mother-in-law, in TGI Friday's, celebrating after court:

First family selfie!


We're officially a family!