Friday, November 30, 2018

Let Them Eat Cake

We have leftover cake tonight.

As Middle finished dinner, she asked, "Mom, can I have that piece of cake?"

Well, no. She can't have that piece of cake. That piece of cake was a full quarter of the cake, which I'd cut last night but hadn't divided into smaller pieces. Half of the cake was leftover, but had been cut into the two remaining quarters. No way was I giving her an entire quarter of a chocolate cake.

She giggled when she realized it wasn't a single slice.

"You can have cake once I slice it." I cut the quarters into six relatively even slices, and Middle immediately picked out the biggest one. "That's mine!"

Sometimes, it pays to be the parent. She didn't argue. I put a slice on her plate and she dug in, with gusto.

Being that it was a fend-for-yourself night around these parts, I collected the rest of my dinner and then came out to get my cake, not trusting that my chosen piece would remain until I was done eating everything else.

Middle scraped at the frosting caught in the fluted edges of her plate, pressing in the tines of her plastic fork. "That's right," I encouraged her. "Get it all."

I stepped back into the kitchen for something and returned to the dining room...where Middle was licking the plate. I smacked the top of her head.

 She lowered the plate and gave me a look that was both sheepish and completely unrepentant. "I'm just getting every last morsel, as you advised."

I really didn't know how to argue with that.

Adventures of Pua

Yesterday, these goobers turned twelve. Hard to believe, I know, because the day before that they were just five.

One of the things Youngest had specifically requested as either a birthday or Christmas gift was a stuffed version of the pet pig from Moana. Middle loves ducks, as any longtime reader of this blog knows, but Youngest has a love for piggies that is nearly as big as Middle's love of duckies. (In fact, Youngest is beginning to have a hard time eating bacon and ham if she thinks about it too much. But I digress.)

I had, to her great delight, found the pig in question, whose name is Pua. Not only that, I'd found a good-sized one, and managed to have it delivered in time.

Because we can't have a birthday for my girls without a pig and a duck for their respective persons. (Hubby agreed, despite his groaning about why are we bringing in more stuffies when we're trying to get rid of the over abundance we have.)

Innyhoo.

This morning, while I huddled in my jammies under a fleecy blanket and monitored the time, Youngest had taken several minutes to carefully swaddle Pua in several blankets downstairs on the (ugly) green hide-a-bed couch in the den before she left for school.

I went to work without knowing about this.

I came home and lugged groceries inside, and was met by a goofily grinning Hubby.

"Youngest left Pua wrapped up in blankets in the den this morning," he said. "And Pua was bad."

I followed him to the den.

The blankets that had once surrounded Pua had been recklessly undone. A pair of Hubby's reading glasses perched on Pua's nose. A sleeve of crackers was tucked in next to the pig, with (of all things) a foam football behind them. On the other side of the pig, a bowl of what appeared to have been mashed potatoes was left with the spoon in it. (Eating in the den is verboten.) Pua's front feet clutched the remote for the TV, while the Roku remote sat carelessly nearby.

Having masterminded a series of Duckie escapades in the past, I chuckled.

And then I got on board.

I finished almost all of my diet Dr Pepper that I'd taken to work with me and tucked it in next to Pua, the sneaky thief who stole one of Momma's sodas too, in addition to all the other "crimes."

And after Hubby left for work and I changed my clothes, I turned on the TV, tuned into Netflix, went back a number of episodes, and set Pua up to be watching The Flash when the kids came home.

It was great.

I sat up in the living room, watching M*A*S*H and having a snack, when the girls got home about 3:15, grinning like a fool to myself. It didn't take long before the twins popped into the living room.


"Mom! Did you see what Dad did to Pua?" Youngest grinned from ear to ear.

I smiled. "I helped."

I can't wait to tell Hubby how well it played out.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

In Which Mother is a Sucker

Not that this was an extra-special night or anything (that's tomorrow), but perhaps we were celebrating the twins' last day of being 11. Maybe I'll just go with that. I gave in, anyway, when the girls begged for McFlurries after dinner at McDonald's tonight.

The franchise location we were at in Cburg uses kiosks for ordering (yay for removal of people, which would have immediately solved one of the problems in our order in a lot less time, but I digress on my rant against cutting labor costs by using machines over personnel), so we marched to the kiosk for the second time, this time for treats.

I let Youngest choose first. She wanted an M&M McFlurry, and asked for hot fudge topping and regular whipped cream for customized toppings.

I will say this for the kiosks. They let you customize your ice cream treats, whereas the counter staff don't always give you these options.

Middle was next. She selected an Oreo McFlurry, with M&M topping and hot fudge, and regular whipped cream.

I should point out here that the whipped cream comes in three levels: light, regular, and extra. Light and regular runs you an additional 40 cents. Extra costs you a whopping 80 cents more.

I turned to Oldest for her order.

"And now to make you regret the day I was born." She giggled as I tapped the screen to customize her McFlurry (she wanted the Reese's Peanut Butter cup one, which I'd already selected). She grinned at me. "Everything."

I raised a brow. "Everything?"

"Everything."

The twins stood in surprise as I tapped each topping in turn. Caramel. Hot Fudge. Oreo. M&M. Whipped cream...extra.

Hers was the most expensive McFlurry of the lot.

I ordered mine last, a Reese's Peanut Butter cup McFlurry without anything fancy. Then we took our table tent tag back and sat down to wait.

We hadn't been seated long when a couple came over and asked if the girls would like to pet the teeny Chihuahua-Mini Pinscher mix emotional support dog the woman carried. Oldest and Middle enthusiastically agreed, cooing over the little guy, and I came over to say hello too, while Youngest stayed parked on her chair. We spent a few minutes chatting (and marveling over teeny Axl Rose's almost preternatural calm), and then they went on their way.

It was several minutes more before the girls noticed that our ice cream treats were being made, and then the manager came over to inform us she had no peanut butter cups with which to make Oldest's and mine. We both settled on Oreo and we waited some more. Another employee then quickly delivered the twins', followed by mine and Oldest's.

The employee looked hard at Oldest as she handed over the McFlurry, which filled up the entire clear cap with the toppings. "No missing school tomorrow because of an upset stomach, young lady," she said with mock sternness.

"Oh, I won't." Oldest's eyes gleamed like dark chocolate.

I'll say this. For being the one of my kids with the queasiest gyro, high-potency sweets have never seemed to rattle hers.

She's still fine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sequencing

Youngest had counseling this afternoon, and since I saw no purpose in driving all the way down to Cburg with just Youngest for her session, then all the way home after, only to pack everyone up to drive all the way back to Cburg yet again in half an hour's time for church, I decided we were all going to Youngest's session. The rest of us would bring stuff and wait in the waiting room.

So we did.

Even if we were a little late because I totally lost track of time and it's a Wednesday and next week I have got to plan better.

I decided I would, since we had a little extra money, simply take all of us out for dinner after the session. (This news was greeted with rave reviews. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Youngest's counselor has been out on maternity leave and only just returned this week. So I spent a bit of time getting her caught up on Youngest's life, then joined the other two in the waiting room.

Middle had scribbled a series of numbers in her notebook, and was about to hand them off to Oldest. "Mom! Mom! Since you're here, I'm gonna show you the impossible!"

She gave me the book instead.

"You can do the math here." She gestured below the number string. "Figure it out...if you can."

I studied the numbers for a moment. It wasn't hard to figure out what she'd done, so I skipped to the end. I found I was tired enough still (I was sick over the weekend, and I'm not 100% yet) that I couldn't do the math in my head, so I scribbled the problem at the bottom, did most of the math there, and then wrote the answer underneath at the end.

"Here." I slung the notebook back at her. It hadn't taken me more than a couple of minutes.

"What?! You're done? Let me see!" Middle grabbed it from my hands and stared first at my answer and then at where I'd done my figuring. "That is the answer!"

She looked so put out I almost laughed. "You didn't think I knew about Fibonacci sequences?"

"No! I thought only my teachers knew!"

Sorry 'bout yer luck, kid. I watched way too much Square One Television. MathNet for the win.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Breaking Dad

Two Saturdays ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed after the girls had gone to bed. I had, some time ago, become Facebook friends with Miss Easel, the twins' fifth grade teacher, now that the girls were out of her class, and I noticed a cluster of pictures in which she'd been tagged.

Well, awwww. Miss Easel and her boyfriend, Mr. Clocktower, had gotten engaged, apparently right smack in the middle of one of the local Christmas parades. Since this was a just-happened-this-minute posting, it must have been the parade in Cburg, just south of where we live. (In an interesting turn of whimsy, Mr. Clocktower's parents are in our Sunday school class. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.)

I mentioned the engagement to Hubby when he got home. He'd seen the news on Facebook himself.

The fact that we were both aware of this news is important.

The next morning, as we drove to church, Hubby asked if I'd told the girls yet. To be honest, no. I hadn't. Sunday mornings are often hectic as we try to get out of the house at something of a frenetic pace, and then we stop for donuts, which we'd done by the time Hubby posed his inquiry.

Hubby flicked his eyes to the rearview mirror. "Girls, Miss Easel got engaged last night."

Middle asked, "To Mr. Clocktower?"

"Yes."

I peered over my shoulder at the backseat.

"They're getting married?" This came from Youngest.

Hubby chuckled. "That's what engagement means."

"How long were you engaged?"

"Sixteen months," I said, at the same time as Hubby said, "Too long." (We were both right.)

"It might've been different," I pointed out, "if we'd lived in the same zip code." We'd spent most of our 16-month engagement a good twelve hours and 600 miles apart.

Middle piped up again. "How long have Special Edition and Mr. Nurse been engaged?"

This sparked something of a debate between Hubby and myself, as I said almost three years and he said almost two. (I'm right, for the record.) We explained to the girls that Special Edition and Mr. Nurse are choosing to continue to be engaged because that's what suits them at this time. Middle and Youngest kind of thought it was ridiculous to be engaged so long and still not be married.

About then, Oldest mused, "When I get engaged, I only want to be engaged for 7 months. Or maybe 9 months. I don't want to be stuck with my man for that long like Special Edition."

I sat and quietly snickered over the thought that marriage leaves you stuck with your man a lot longer when Hubby elbowed me. I shifted to look at him as unobtrusively as possible. He appeared both shell-shocked and shattered, and his eyes had nearly popped out of their sockets.

Poor man.

I felt for him. Really, I did.

But a couple nights earlier, I had been sitting downstairs in the basement, sorting old clothes with the girls, stuff that needs to be sold or donated and gotten out of the house. Makaha hadn't liked the fact that it had been stored in plastic bags, and so he'd peed on some of it. As we'd sorted into piles that were stuff to be washed and the rest by sizes, the girls had freely talked about what they would name their future children. (So far, I will have at least five grandsons named Kemper, all by one daughter, identified numerically.) That was a mildly harrowing experience.

From the back seat now: "What?"

Hubby sat in silence.

"I just don't want a long engagement. I don't think that's a good idea," Oldest went on.

I'm pretty sure Hubby paled. My baby is talking about engagement. She's only 13. I could see it written all over his face. No, not yet! NOT YET!

"You weren't there the other night for their discussion on what they want to name their children," I told him.

"No, no. I don't need to know!"

I chuckled.

We got to the church and parked, and Hubby still hadn't quite returned to normal.

"Is Dad okay?" Middle asked.

"No, he's not okay," I told her.

"I broke Dad!" Oldest crowed from where she'd skipped ahead. "I broke Dad!"


To bring the story full circle for you, I saw Mr. Clocktower's parents in Sunday school, and his mother gushed over how delighted they all were (they love Miss Easel), and she happily showed me the video of the proposal. Everyone there, including Miss Easel's parents and a number of their friends, knew Mr. Clocktower was going to propose...except Miss Easel, who was delightfully surprised. And also delightfully amused when I told her all about the morning's episode of Breaking Dad.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Let It Snow. And Snow Some More. And Some More After That.

If you're anywhere in the northeast of the U.S., or watching the news thereof, you know we're getting socked with a lot of wintry mix today, part of which has dumped anywhere from 5"-9" of snow before switching to rain tonight, and then we got blessed with the possibility of a couple more inches of snow later this evening on top of it all.

They cancelled school for today last night.

We already have a two-hour delay for tomorrow.

Snug as bugs in rugs.
I am explaining all of this to you for a reason.

So, first, let me state that I am currently home. Under a blankie. D'Artagan, Trooper, and Kimo are keeping close watch. We're enjoying Father Brown, although Kimo is sleeping through episodes and doesn't know whodunit and probably doesn't care. We are cozy. See? I am fine.

This is important. I am fine.

However.

Tonight was our scheduled fourth-quarter board meeting for the home owners association where I serve as secretary to said board. And there were...reasons...for keeping the meeting scheduled. And it isn't really my call to cancel a meeting. And I grew up in upstate New York; I know how to drive in the White Death. So, as of noon, when I hadn't heard from the board president that we were cancelling the meeting, I decided it would be smart to just pack up like I was going to spent the night at my mother's (this is her HOA) and drive out. That way, if it took me longer than normal (which it most definitely would; the drive usually takes about an hour), I had plenty of time.

I went out to clear off the car, and we had all three of yesterday's predicted 1"-3" of snow, plus incoming reinforcements.

In retrospect, I should have stopped there and just gone back into the house right then. But I soldiered on and started the drive after promising Hubby that I would turn around and come right back home if I ever reached a point in time where I said, "This is ridiculous and not worth the job."

To amuse myself (and because D'Artagnan and Trooper, while fine travel companions, are not exactly verbose), I kept track: two semis pulled over to the side of the interstate, just off to the side. Two semis pulled over, hoods up, engines cooling. Two semis completely jackknifed, one in the median, and the other off to the right shoulder, with three heavy wreckers blocking the travel lane as they got ready to winch it out. (Ever see the TV show Highway Thru Hell? I almost saw it in real life.) One dump truck, facing backwards in the median. One passenger car, same condition and location.

It took me almost an hour to go less than ten miles.

I told myself I would stop at Pickletown, normally about 40 minutes into the trip, and get lunch at the Wendy's there. It took me two hours to reach the restaurant. I knocked the ice off my wipers and went inside and spent half an hour thawing out, then texted my mom and my husband that I was leaving there and continuing on.

I didn't make it out of Pickletown. It sits on several steep hills, which I found I couldn't navigate. I got nearly got myself horribly stuck, so I made a three-point-turn on the side of a hill and let gravity fix my problem. Then I hollered, "Okay, Google," at my phone and ordered the assistant to call my boss. I was canceling the meeting whether my boss wanted to or not at this point.

"Are you still in Cburg?" he asked. No, he did not say hello.

"I'm in Pickletown. But I'm going home."

"Good. Cancel the meeting."

I drove back to Wendy's and sent out the requisite notices. I was relieved the drive home only took me an hour and a half instead of two hours, but then, I had no jackknifed semis to contend with on that leg of the trip.

I spent four hours on the road.

Ridiculous? Yes. Insane? Probably. Should never have happened? Also likely. It is what it is. Like I said, I'm home. I'm safe. Nothing happened to either me or the car (although I did have a harrowing moment or two).

So my ankle is barking at me. It doesn't like these conditions under the best of circumstances, which is blankie-covered on the couch and not leaving, and possibly with a hot rice bag tucked against the joint. Thus, when I got home, I parked it on the couch, with buddies and blankies and books and Father Brown.

I did not even move for dinner, which Youngest made (spaghetti and meatballs). I was served too much, so I hobbled over to the top of the stairs a little bit ago and called for another person in the house (Hubby and the girls are watching The Flash series reboot together).

Oldest came out of the den to see what I needed.

I held out my plate. "I need you to cover my plate in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Then I need some blackberry ginger ale--" Oh, my gosh, have you had this stuff? Canada Dry makes it--"and I would like two brownies, please."

Oldest eyed me skeptically. "They're pretty big brownies. Are you sure you want two?"

Child, please. "I really think I can handle two brownies. Please."

There is not a brownie that I've found yet that I can't eat two of. Bring me my ginger ale and brownies, kid.

And that is why I told you this story.

By the way, the brownies are not as big as advertised. I will have a third later.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cuisine Middle

I've been down with a migraine today.

So at 6:30 this evening, I asked the kids to find things for dinner for themselves.

"Hey, Mama, I'm gonna have homemade mac and cheese!"

I glanced skeptically at Middle. We did not have any box mac and cheese in the house. This much I knew.

She smunched a package of ramen noodles against the counter. "This worked this afternoon."

I didn't even want to know. Just...Rule #2 and move on.

She pulled the off-brand Velveeta cheese out of the refrigerator and grabbed a paring knife from the drawer. "No, I did it this afternoon. It worked great." (Apparently not so great, because she had to scrape the remains into the trash at bedtime, but I digress.)

The child made "homemade mac and cheese" with pulverized unseasoned ramen noodles, water, and extremely generic processed American cheese food.

I have no words.

At least I didn't have to eat it.