Friday, July 8, 2016

Music Hath Charms...

Charles Emerson Winchester III found music to be a refuge from the ravages of wartime service in the 4077th M*A*S*H unit. Upon leaving at the end of the war (the show's run), he realized that music itself was now a permanent reminder of the war.

In many respects, music is equally a refuge for me, but at the same time, it's an ever-present reminder of my dad, and some music still hurts far too much to listen to.

Shortly before Christmas, I came across a new musical addiction that I've fallen completely in love with, and I desperately wish I could have shared this group with my dad. I think he would have loved them, too. But in the lack of sharing there's something of a blessing...I can listen to Home Free Vocal Band without the angst of grief over shared love.

All of this is to explain the following conversation that was had in the car last week, on a day when Oldest forgot to take her ADHD medication in the morning (she said she was "absolutely sure" she did) and I didn't find out until much later in the afternoon.

Home Free Vocal Band, on a recent video shoot.
I had plugged my phone into the aux port on the stereo system in my car and we were listening to Home Free via Spotify as I drove.

Oldest: Mommy, if you could marry any of the guys from Home Free, who would it be?

Oh, brother. 

Me: Well, honey, I'm married, and Adam and Rob are both married.

Oldest: What if they weren't? And you weren't? Who would you marry?

Middle: I'd marry Adam, and make sure he's not a robot. And then I'd make him teach me how to do that.

Middle is convinced that Home Free's beatboxer, Adam Rupp, must be a robot in order to make all the sounds he does.

Oldest: Mommy, which one is the one who sings so high?

Me: Austin?

Oldest: No, not him. The other one. [mimics singing] The one who does that. You know, on that song.

Me: I don't know which song you're talking about.

Oldest: I don't want to marry Tim, though. Mommy, it's the other one. The one who sings like this. On this song. [mimics again].

Light dawns.

Me: That's Rob.

Oldest: I'd marry Rob.

Middle: Why? He'd take up too much of the bed, and I'd smack him in the face!

Rob, Home Free's tenor, is a big guy like Hubby.

Meanwhile, Youngest is staying silent on the subject, and apparently shaking her head through this whole exchange.

Me: Rob and his wife are going to have a baby girl any day now.

(Trivia: she was born last week. Congratulations, Rob and Kelsey!)

Oldest: They should name her Emerald!

Me: That's a pretty name.

Middle (disgusted): It's a rock.

Me: It's a gemstone, yes. But it's also a name. However, I don't think that you get a say in their baby's name.

Oldest: Why not? They should name her Diamond!

Middle: No!

Oldest: They should name her Roxie, like my friend. It's short for Rock Star!

Me: Roxie is usually short for Roxanne or Roxanna.

Oldest: It's short for Rock Star. That's why I call her Roxie. (pause) They should call her Gold!

Me: They aren't going to take naming ideas from you.

Oldest: They should!

Middle: No, they shouldn't!

Middle, you are too right. Thank goodness they didn't.

Mid-Summer Update

I'm just gonna warn you now: get cozy. There's two more similar posts coming, and they're going to be longer than this one. Life here has not been dull.

Lest you think that we don't love Special Edition or Oldest very much because I'm lumping them into one update together, well, that's not true. They just haven't wreaked as much havoc this summer. This is partly due to the fact that Special Edition now lives with her fiance about two hours away from us, and that Oldest has mostly, well, kept her nose clean and only not forgotten to take her ADHD meds a couple of days, which has resulted in some insanity for me.

Special Edition, graduate!
Special Edition did, however, have one great moment that we definitely need to acknowledge and celebrate: she graduated from high school at the end of May.

We are so very proud of her.

So proud we could plotz.

So proud I almost did.

Oh my goodness, there's no way to describe how much we love this girl.

She came out and spent a few days with us so that she could go to the required rehearsals in order to walk in the ceremony, and we were so thrilled to have her home for that short time.

The last two Sundays, we have met up with her and Mr. Nurse, her fiance, at a lake that's relatively near us, and had a marvelous time. It was great fun to be able to just hang out and enjoy each other's company. Oldest's birthday is next week, so we're trying to arrange another lake party for that.

Speaking of Oldest, she is also doing well. She's nervous about the fact that she starts middle school in the fall, but otherwise is a spunky kid. Thanks to a camp scholarship, she spent a week at summer camp in mid-June and came back less tanned this year than she has in years past. She didn't pick swimming as one of her activities this year. Otherwise, she would have come back nearly as chocolate-colored as a Hershey's Special Dark bar. I need SPF Bulletproof. She barely needs sunscreen to protect from sunburns (we still have her use it for obvious reasons). She doesn't burn. She just gets darker. Me, I can burn on a cloudy day.

Oldest also made a big step into the world of growing up this summer, too. (She was so excited about this that I don't feel bad about sharing it.) She now has training bras, and is very excited. She even made me text Gramma about it right away. Lessons in bra-wearing etiquette have been ongoing.

And, that particular story is important for when you read Youngest's forthcoming update.

Last week, while the twins were at swim camp, I had Oldest with me when I went to go pick up Hubby from work. Oldest had, that particular day, forgotten to take her focus pill in the morning and I hadn't discovered it (because she told me she was "absolutely sure" she had) until about 3 in the afternoon, and one of the things that happens with ADHD is that, well, in Oldest's case, she can't stop talking. And I'd had enough. She'd been running her mouth nonstop for eight hours. And the whole drive down to Hubby's store.  And while we waited for him to finish.
Oldest. She's all legs, isn't she?

And so I snapped at her when we all got in the car.

"Why are we yelling at her?" Hubby asked.

"Because she didn't take her pill this morning like she said she did, and she hasn't shut up all day, and I just told her to be quiet a few minutes ago. She's driving. me. NUTS!"

Hubby just laughed at me. He has ADHD too. He knows how next-to-impossible it is for her to actually stop talking when she doesn't have the help of the medication to slow her brain down so that it works more efficiently. So do I, but I had no more nerves left.

Thankfully, we've managed to make sure she takes her pills regularly and missed doses are few.

Stay tuned. Updates for Middle and Youngest are coming...and they're doozies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


This was the day that all fifth-graders dread: the day that the boys and the girls are split in health class and get to watch horrifying instructional videos about themselves and their bodies.

Oldest came home in something of a panic.

There were, shall we say, "party favors" passed out with the video lesson.

She was terrified. And mortified. And probably several other -ifieds that she hasn't figured out yet.

We sat and talked for an hour.

I had to shoo her siblings out of the room several times, because she desperately didn't want to discuss any of this around them.

"Mommy," she asked tentatively, "do we have to talk about this every day? Can it just be every other day?"

"Honey, we can talk about it whenever you have questions, but we don't have to talk about it every day."

After dinner, the subject apparently came up again, this time with Hubby. There was a brief conversation with all three girls regarding some things, and then Youngest had a question: "What's pyooterberry?"

As Hubby related this to me while the girls were getting ready for bed, I tried not to laugh too much, but pyooterberry was too good to not write down.

Hubby also explained why a simple misstep in the kitchen had Oldest blubbering uncontrollably earlier. She was petrified of all that had been discussed today.

She slunk back into the room while we were talking and settled on the couch next to Hubby, snuggling close to his side.

We reiterated that she can always come to us with questions, that this is something that every girl goes through, and that it's going to be okay.

Then Oldest wanted to know why it was that she didn't have any bras yet, because "almost every" girl in her school wears them. I explained that she didn't need them yet. Of course, this led to wanting to know when she would, and Hubby and I both explained that it's different for each girl. She peeked down her pajama top to look at her chest, and sighed. Then she announced that it bothered her that her one nipple was flat, and the other wasn't.

Hubby looked like he'd swallowed a live eel. He awkwardly patted her arm. "It's okay, honey. They' better."

I thought  his eyes were going to either explode or pop out of his head, and tried really hard to not laugh at him.

Middle had popped into the room during that conversation and was smothering Kimo with affection. Now she turned and looked at Hubby. "Are there fake boobs?"

I slapped my hand over my mouth and watched the expressions chase themselves over Hubby's face.

He hesitated for a moment. "Yes."

"How do I get those?" Medium immediately asked.

Oh, I am so glad she's asking him these questions, not me!

"Well," Hubby said, "most junior high girls get them by stuffing tissues in their bra. Or there are special doctors you can go to and get what are called implants put into you."

This then led to a discussion about breast sizes, and how there is no one-size-fits-all policy there; it just depends on your genes, and that some are small, and some are big.

Enter Youngest, who has finally finished getting ready for bed, and has only heard "...some are small, and some are big."

"Like Abraham Lincoln!" Youngest chimed in, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.

I very nearly fell off the couch, hooting with laughter.

"What?" Youngest said indignantly. "He's big!"

True enough, Hubby agreed, but not remotely close to the topic of conversation at hand.

Meanwhile, Middle is running over to see what I'm typing (I'm messaging with Waffle), as I'm still gasping and hooting, and demanding to know what's so funny.

It was pretty much left to Hubby to explain why Youngest's comment caused hilarity. Lucky him.

Then he asked her to tell me what they'd been talking about downstairs, after dinner. Mostly so I could hear it, I'm sure.

"Pyooterberry," Youngest said with a giggle.

"And how is it really pronounced?"

"Pyooterberry." More giggles.


We still have some work to do before pyooterberry hits.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Our street lost power this morning at about eight minutes to five. Yes, I know the exact time. Apparently I was in a point in my sleep cycle that the sudden stop of my bedside fan jolted me immediately awake.

Hubby took a quick stroll down the street and determined it wasn't just our house; it was everyone. I squinted blearily at my cell phone and punched in the information to report the outage, which the electric company hadn't registered yet.

Thank goodness for my pay-as-you-go plan's 3G.

The power came back on about ten after six, and this whole thing is, believe it or not, an important part of the story.

It has been rainy and threatening rain here for the last several weeks, the temps have still been doing a marvelous yo-yo impression (albeit without previous extremes), and I have been miserable as my crankle (as my friend Marti (previously mentioned here as Anne; Marti is more fun, she thinks) and I have taken to calling my cranky ankle) has protested the bipolar weather. Today was no exception, and after ferrying Oldest to school at 7a this morning for an all-day field trip, then Hubby to work because I would need to pick up Oldest before he was off work for the day, then picking Oldest up (which took a ridiculous amount of time because the rest of the world was picking up their fifth-graders too), then picking up Hubby, and then finally driving home, my foot cried foul. I grabbed my heating pad and parked myself on the loveseat in the living room.

As the kids were getting ready for bed, my phone beeped a couple of incoming texts. The pharmacy, I noted, saying my prescriptions had been refilled. Hooray...but there was no way I could go get them. The lesser of two evils was definitely tucking the kids in...and resetting their alarm clocks. I dispatched Hubby to Rite Aid and hobbled up the stairs.

I reset the twins' clock first, making sure the alarm had maintained the proper time (it had). Then I kissed everyone goodnight (Middle, Youngest, and Kimo, who had joined Middle in bed), and gimped down the hall to Oldest's room. Using the light from my phone, I reset her clock...and noticed the paper box she'd appropriated from somewhere that was filled with barbie dolls and ponies.

And...what the heck?

I bent and picked it up. Yup, exactly what I thought it was.

Holding it between two fingers, I looked over at Oldest, who was watching me, and lifted it up so she could see. "Where did you get this?"

"From the recycle bin."

With my hands both occupied, I couldn't perform the migraine salute I felt coming on. "Why do you have it?"

"I wanted it."

"For what?" Really, Auntie J, you know better. Rule #2, woman.

"I wanted it for my dollies."

"This isn't for dollies." I paused as I looked at it again, then back at Oldest. "Do you know what this is for?"


Okay then. "Did it have anything inside it when you found it?"


"It was clean when you found it?"


Whew. "This is not for dollies."

I got downstairs and texted a picture of my find to both Marti and Hubby. Since I was chatting with Marti Waffle* on Facebook anyway, it was easy to relate the whole story. Hubby sent me a voice message in reply, dread dripping from each syllable: "Is that what I think it is?"

Yes. Yes it is.

I've yet to tell him the whole story, but I had the horribly inappropriate thought that a) the dollies would hate having to use something this big, if b) they had the need to use it anyway.

*Postscript: Marti now wishes to be called Waffle, because she told me she liked the idea of having "an alter eggo," and I asked if she was now a waffle. So there we go. Anne = Marti = Waffle. I hope I can remember this.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hernia Mesh Warning, Class V

I've got my earbuds in, working on aligning and syncing the captions I've typed out for a video (I do some interesting work, I tell you), and I've just finished unsnarling a particularly hairy spot where the speaker is talking rapidly enough that I have to adjust the caption groups so that the words on screen aren't flying by at too fast of a rate.

That's when Middle bounces into the room, where Hubby is sitting on the couch, watching a silly video on Facebook involving pants.

Middle: Daddy, are these bad words? S-E-X and S-E-X-Y?

Hubby: Do you know what they mean?

Middle: Well, I think the second one is kind of like Hannah Montana. She got too sexy.

Hubby: Do you know what sex is?

Middle: I think it's when you're sort of bad-ish.

I slapped a hand over my mouth, trying desperately not to laugh out loud, keeping the video on pause.

Hubby: Noooo...

Middle: Why don't you use your phone?

I turned my face into my elbow and hoped that would muffle my laughter.

Hubby: I don't need to use my phone. I know what it is. ... Are you hearing these words at school?

Middle: I'm seeing them in word searches and stuff.

Hubby: Oh, you are?

Middle: Yeah, kid word searches. Sex and sexy are right there, at the bottom.

Hubby: Okay, well, they aren't bad words, but they're grown-up words. "Sexy" is when you think someone is really good looking, when you look at them and you think "Hubba hubba!" I think Mom is sexy. You'd have to ask her if she thinks I'm sexy.

Middle: Hey, Momma!

Me: Oh, no. I'm not getting into this conversation!

Middle: You can hear us?!

Me: Yup. Not getting into this.

Middle: Why not? You're the smartest one in this house!

Hubby (laughing): I'm not disputing it. There are some things I know more about than Mom , but not much. So I'm not disputing.

Middle: Some of the kids in class said there were bad words. Mr. S [her teacher] said they weren't bad words, they just weren't for kids.

Hubby: Can you pick up this couch?

Middle: No.

Hubby: Because it's too heavy for you, right? Just like you can't pick up the couch because it's too heavy for you, these words are too heavy for you, too. When you're older, we'll talk more about them. Okay?

Middle (nods): Hey, Dad, I'm gonna give you a word scramble. What's E-T-T-S?

This kid. She's going to be the death of us. If not from her brains, from her rapid-fire subject changes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

So Put That in Your Blog and Smoke It

Hubby went and picked up Oldest and Middle from church tonight, and—after tucking the kids into bed—told me about what they'd talked about on the short trip home:

Hubby: What did you learn about tonight?

Oldest or Middle: The little boy king.

Hubby: The little boy king?

O/M: Yeah.

Hubby: Oh, you mean the rich young ruler.

O/M: Yeah!

Hubby: What happened?

O/M: He came and asked Jesus what he had to do to get into heaven.

Hubby: And what did Jesus say?

O/M: That he needed to obey all the commandments.

Hubby: What did the rich young ruler say to that?

O/M: That he'd kept all of those since he was a kid.

Hubby: Then what did Jesus say?

O/M: That he had to get rid of all his stuff, and he was sad.

Middle: And then they didn't finish the story!

Hubby: What?

Middle: He was sad, and then they didn't finish the story! He just walked away!

Only Middle, my storyteller, would ask that.

Hubby: Well, the reason he was sad is because he was rich, and he had lots of stuff, and he didn't want to give it away. That's why he walked away sad. He didn't want to give it all up.

I'm pretty sure at this point that Middle still thinks the story didn't end right, because we don't know what actually happened to the rich young ruler.

Hubby: So, what did Jesus say about being rich and getting into heaven, then?

Oldest: Something about a donkey.

Hubby: Noooo... A camel.

Oldest: Oh, right. Something about sticking a needle in a camel's eye.

Hubby chuckled here in his retelling, and I could see him trying to drive and have this conversation.

Hubby: No, Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. What do you think that means?

Here Hubby, former youth pastor, with four years of religion education, stopped and looked at me. "So I'm really enjoying this. I'm having a deep, meaningful, spiritual conversation with my kids. I'm loving it. And that's when..."

Middle: I don't know, but I think we should ask Mom. She's the expert.

Hubby: You ungrateful little curs get in the house and get ready for bed!

"You did not say that to them!" I said.

"Yes, I said exactly that! 'Mom's the expert.' So put that in your blog and smoke it."

Tentacles: A Photo Essay

Grief is, as I've said before, an odd beast, that travels in drunken, staggering lines and weaves its tentacles into odd places in life, popping up at the most unexpected moments. For reasons I have not been able to determine, this week it has hovered dangerously close to the surface, leaving me teetering on the edge of tears on a near-constant basis.

I miss my dad.

A lot.

No amount of chocolate or french fries can fix it.

I miss my dad.

So, indulge me for a few minutes while I share some of my favorite memories.

Dad's 70th, making s'mores in his birthday firepit.

Mom & Dad with all the grandies (at that time)

That's Dad there on the right (thanks to DM, to his left, for this pic).
Dad loved to sing with the choir.

Middle, peering into The Crystal Bald.

Dad with his 2E buddies (from the choir's select group).
Handsome guys, right? (I love that tie.) Another one from DM.

Dad as a boy. Isn't he cute?
No, I don't remember back this far.

Dad would often lay in bed and pretend to be asleep,
just so the girls would come wake him up with a zillion smooches.

Dad and me, on my wedding day.

Dad as a young man. Handsome dude, he was.

Middle discovers Boppa's sweater has buttons.

Middle learns the art of combing Boppa's hair.

"Take a picture of me and my girls. Now make sure you send that to me!"

2010, when we all went to Florida together.

With Youngest.

Another from Dad's 70th. That was my gift to him that year.
Of course he went and put it on right away.

Dressed up as The Evil Queen. (You had to be there.)

Boppa was given Duckie for safekeeping.

Taking selfies with Boppa!

Dad really was such a good sport.

Yes, he's wearing a (clean) Pull-up for a hat.
I got in so much trouble for taking this.

Gotta love a guy who will let his granddaughters dress him up in pom-poms.

And boas.

Boppa makes a good slide!


That flip-out LCD on Boppa's camera is so cool.

What we do while we're waiting for the twins' birthday party to start...

I just love the abject glee on both their faces here.


Also during our 2010 trip. Youngest got fed up with the splash park.

A bald Poppa is a good foundation.

Come on, Boppa!

Story time.

Mom specifically requested that the Play-Doh pictures be in the slideshow for Dad's memorial service.

I think Youngest wouldn't go to the water's edge without Dad.

Another of the Play-Doh pictures. Anything is a blank slate to an artist...


I think this is when he realized I was "documenting."

Her grandpa is not only rockin', as her shirt says.
He's also pretty silly. She comes by it honestly.

Boppa, help!

Reading a favorite.

Of course, he had to get a picture with the twins wearing these shirts.

The hat lights up, folks. It lights up.

Hat heads.

Middle needed a moment at a splash park. Boppa was good for those times.

Dr. Oldest gives Boppa a checkup.

We gave Dad this blanket for Christmas one year. I have it now.

The hat lights up. Along the letters, yes. I have the hat, too.

I forget what year this was, but it was shortly after Christmas one year,
and we were out at Mom & Dad's. Dad fell asleep on the couch,
and one of the girls covered him with the blanket
and then tucked LarryBoy in next to him so he wouldn't be alone.

These two. So silly together.

This was Dad's birthday, and right before Middle and Oldest helped him
by blowing out the candle before he could.

Oldest, showing off my sandals. I don't know why.

Waiting to ride the Easter train.

Looking at train stuff.

I am not sure why Middle grabbed Dad's ear with her toes, other than that she could.

Dad was pretending to "cut" her toes with that toy straightener,
and Middle was squealing with delight. What a night.

Wearing a Duplo block. Left there by a granddaughter, no doubt.



Storytime again.

The kids gave him this book for Christmas one year.

One of few normal-ish pictures of Dad and Middle.

Dad and Youngest.

Dad and Oldest. He looks like he's keeping a secret. She looks like she's gone off the deep end.

Bedtime story.

Boppa makes funny noises!

And funny faces!

Oldest sharing some of her strawberry shortcake with Dad (it was his birthday).

Dad loved the BBC's "Top Gear," so we made him this shirt one year
for his birthday. The girls' shirts all say "STIGLET." He loved it.

Bedtime snuggles.

Back when the girls first came to live with us,
and Youngest still was so unsure of things.

At the Smithsonian National Zoo, and Youngest was a little cranky. Until Boppa got her.

"I'm following The Toucher."

Oldest's birthday. Already high on sugar, and hadn't even had cake yet.

I love this purple-lips picture. (Her Tangled cake had purple icing on it...)

Another one I'm pretty sure I got in trouble for. But if he's gonna wear 'em...

Christmas in February. These two.


Dad and the girls at our vacation rental home in Ocean City, MD, a few years back.

Dad and the girls, on Easter Sunday, several years ago.

The girls decided to bury Hubby in the sand. Dad decided to help.

♫ Ring around the roooooosie... ♪

Mom and Dad treated us to Sweet Frog right before they went to FL
in January 2015. This bit of magic happened.

And then this, which became Dad's final Facebook profile picture.
It's now my cover photo.