Wednesday, December 31, 2008


So yesterday I'm sitting in the kitchen after breakfast, working on stuff for this payroll management system switch for work, thinking I should really get the Fries dressed before my folks arrive, and just listening to them chatter.

Large Fry is singing. (Sadly, I think she's picked up her father's vocal "style.") It doesn't take too careful of a listen to realize she's belting out one of the songs Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I wish I could remember now which one. (Had I blogged about it yesterday when it happened, I wouldn't have this problem.)

Five minutes later, after nearly nonstop Beauty and the Beast, I hear this:

"Simba, come back! Come back, Simba!"

The incongruity of pairing Beauty and the Beast with The Lion King just cracked me up.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I simply must share my diabolical brilliance with you all.

Although, it's not entirely MY diabolical brilliance. Hubby helped.

So about a week after Thanksgiving, my siblings and I (and assorted spouses) get an email from my dad. Here he waxes eloquent about how worn out Mom was after coordinating Thanksgiving dinner for 28 people. And he opines that Christmas is coming, which is going to be nearly as exhausting, and he exhorts us to do whatever we can to help.

Being the good oldest child, Type-A personality kid that I am, I volunteer to be cookie fairy. Cookies I figure I can do a lot better (and easier) than volunteering to, y'know, do the main cooking. Or even volunteer to supervise the pork roast. I am not the greatest culinary artist in the family, but I can bake, and bake well.

Hubby's a little less than thrilled with this, because he knows me. When it comes to Christmas goodies, I...well...I tend to go overboard. (See any previous LJ entry that was made post-Christmas-Bakefest with Janelle, if you need more proof.) I love baking and making goodies simply because I am so good at it. And Hubby knew that once I got started, I would then want to ship packages of Christmas yummies hither and yon, and I was seriously in danger of burning my end at both candles.


I had asked for requests when I volunteered my oven. Dad really likes the Peanut Butter Blossoms. You know, the peanut butter cookies that have a Hershey's kiss smooshed into them as soon as they come out of the oven. Knowing how short I was going to be on time (I still baked and created for twelve hours), I opted to just buy the mix that you add egg, water and oil to. I bought four bags...and made them all. I bought a big bag of Hershey's kisses.

As it turned out, I ran short on kisses.

What to do, what to do.

Just make peanut butter cookies, I suppose.

That's when Hubby's first brainstorm strikes. Why not put chocolate chips into the center of the peanut butter cookies? We can tell Dad that the chips shrunk when we washed them in hot water or something.

I realized that I still had some milk chocolate & peanut butter morsels from the brownies I'd made a week before. I dumped 'em out, picked out the milk chocolate ones and put the peanut butters back in the bag. We'll use these instead of semi-sweet chips, I announced.

As I'm getting ready to roll the dough into balls for our shrunken-chips cookies, Hubby looks at me, again with that look of evil brilliance in his eyes. He grabs a pinch of cookie dough and rolls it into a very small ball. "Better yet...make 'em THIS size!"

I smirk, set aside the three balls of dough I've already made, and start rolling smaller balls. I end up with two dozen by the end of the dough.

I watch them carefully, since I have no idea how long they'll take to bake. I pull them out about four minutes later, and carefully stick little milk chocolate morsels on top of each cookie.

Aren't they cute?

These are the normal-sized ones.

A size comparison.

I'm debating whether or not I should give them to Dad when he comes to visit tomorrow, or wait until Christmas.


I'm not dead yet....

December is just probably our busiest month out of the year, and that was before instant parenthood.

So I give you a smattering of our adventures in the last few weeks:

~Medium Fry got a spanking while Gramma and Boppa visited, because she climbed up on her Little Tikes table (which she knows she's not supposed to do), and started pulling cd cases off the stereo shelf, tossing them to the floor, and was probably aiming for the body of the stereo next. Small Fry came over as I was holding Medium, reminding her that I love her, and said, "Cwy?" I said, yes, she's crying because she got punished. Then she went back into the living room, looked at my dad, and said, "Bad." Dad's eyes nearly bugged out, trying not to laugh.

~Uncle Hubby got tired of "girlie" movies like Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella, so he popped in the VHS of The Lion King and it's been nearly a daily ritual since then.

~I waited too long to empty the lint screen on the dryer, because I do so much laundry that I forget to clean it with each load, and so when I went to clean it yesterday, most of it fell off the screen and back down into the dryer. I couldn't fish it out. So I ended up leaving a load of damp clothes in the dryer overnight, since I wasn't about to run it when it stopped drying efficiently and was getting really hot and just go to bed. So I started it this morning, peered outside at the vent, and determined quickly that I should go clean out the vent itself. On the freaking coldest morning of the year. I fished out a bunch of lint, got steam in my face for my trouble (thankfully not too hot; just hot air from the dryer hitting the frigid air outside), and nearly froze my toes off. (They are still chilly.)

~I spent most of Saturday baking. And I forgot to eat. Until Hubby ordered pizza, and I realized I'd had a Dr Pepper and assorted finger licks throughout the day as I baked. Yes, I know. Not smart.

~I realized I thought I was done with my Christmas shopping, but I'm really not, since I had the sudden reality-smack that, not only do I need to have presents for people from us, I need to have presents for people from the kids as well. Yay me. A little strategic mental reshuffling of presents already purchased fixed that problem, and I just have to find something for my three-month-old nephew now, from both us and the kids. I think.

I now need to go get munchkins dressed for the day, and get cracking on work as much as I's payroll week, and I'm sure the boss will want to do everything by tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things you don't want to find in your washer

~Screwdrivers (although, to be fair, I found it in the dryer)
~Cough drops, with the wrapper hermetically sealed to the drop
~Roller-ball pens
~Roller-ball pens without caps
~Plastic wrappers of any kind
~Industrial Sharpies!!!

It does not get any more exciting than this!

It's dinnertime here at Casa Fries, and I'm setting a bad example by posting on LJ while eating dinner with the girls.

Tonight's entree (for all four of us girls) is grilled cheese sandwiches, and...wait for it...letter-shaped tater tots.

Large Fry wasn't too enthused with actual tater tots when I tried those before. Now she's happily squooshing the leaked-out cheese from her sandwich into the holes of a Tater-B. Apparently this is a combo that works. Then again, she did think the alpha-tots were "cookies." If I could just get her to eat instead of play....

Medium and Small Fries are just as happily devouring.

Yes, I'm having grilled cheese and alphatatertots too. My sandwich has a bit more pizazz, though. I added garlic powder and leaf oregano. Yum.

Dessert will probably be more of those frosted sugar cookies that Hubby loves so much. I'll cut them in half for the Fries, which means I get the last half guilt-free. After all, I'm making sure half a cookie doesn't get left behind.

Why is it...

...that the phone always rings at the moment you are least inclined to answer it, or be able to answer it?

...that three perfectly happy and content children suddenly become little banshees the minute you're indisposed?

...that the children have no desire to play "huggie!" when they're clean, but only when they're covered in PB&J from their hair to their high chair trays?

...that motherhood is not allowed sick days?

...that I only have an appetite for cough drops and not real food?

...that I didn't complain yesterday when the P.A. prescribed doxycycline and I know how it affects me? (Oh, yeah, I forgot.)

...that the three-year-old has discovered she can blame the cat(s) for things?

...that I can't find another pair of little socks? (Not that it matters; Faith would whip them off anyway.)

...that I "lost" the classical radio station Wednesday afternoon at naptime, but found it again at bedtime that same night?

...that the three-year-old insists on smooshing her sandwich quarters together into "birthday cake"?

...that I wonder these questions when I shouldn't even be asking them?

Monday, October 27, 2008

It IS Thatcher 3.0!

Janelle called briefly from The Seeing Eye today to tell me she'd been matched to her new dog (this will be her third), and he apparently is Thatcher version 3.0, referencing her brother's email last week. (He'd asked if she was ready for Thatcher 3.0.  Thatcher was her first dog, a yellow Lab/Golden cross who was very sweet; he was retired in February of 2005.)

Her new dog is a male yellow Lab/Golden cross named Aussie. She says they call him "Awesome Aussie."

I hope he really is! After Adele's craziness, she needs a good, solid dog that she can depend on.

I get to see her and meet Aussie on Saturday. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Because she's PSYCHO!

Awhile back, I got an email from my best friend Janelle about how she was seriously considering retiring Adele, her Seeing Eye dog, whom she's had only three years. She was still conversing with people at The Seeing Eye about it, and hadn't made a final decision yet. I asked why she was thinking of retiring Adele so soon.

The email I got back was succinct. "Because she's psycho!" Janelle went on to explain that Adele's had some problems ever since another dog guide went bonkers and attacked her at a public event, has grown to loathe cats with a passion, barks at anything that walks by the front door, is still a little skittish about traffic at times, and develops irrational fears (like being afraid of Janelle's scanner for a week).

Several weeks later, I got another email from her, with the subject line, "Well, I did it." When she had nearly half a dozen people at The Seeing Eye concur that it was time to retire Adele, and a fast approval for her application for a new dog, she made decided to go ahead and retire her. She was just waiting to hear which class she'd be in, and turned her efforts to finding a home for Adele if she could, rather than return her to TSE and have her adopted out that way.

Janelle emailed on Monday that she'd found a home for Adele. Adele will work through today, and will go to work with Janelle's hubby tomorrow (he's a manager for PetCo), get a bath, and be picked up there by her new owners. Janelle flies out on Saturday to TSE for her training class with her new dog.

Her brother, who's also blind and got a new dog last summer, and knowing she'd be a bit nervous about going and would miss her young boys while gone, sent her an email this morning, part of which said: "Try not to stress out too much. This could be a really nice vacation for you. I mean, you get a full-size bed all to yourself, an out-of-tune piano, and blind people to poke fun of. What could be better?" Encouraging, isn't he?

The cool thing is that Morristown, NJ, where TSE is located, is only about 3 hours from here. They have visiting hours on weekends when you can come see the students in the current class, and since it's a short enough trip, we're going to make a day of it, pile everybody in the car, and go see her and her new doggie.

I can hardly wait!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Well, now we HAVE to rearrange the house.

I decided to call a good friend of mine after I finished lunch and while the Fries were still asleep, figuring I had a good forty minutes before anyone would be up. I knew we wouldn't talk that long, but at least it would be adult conversation instead of: "No! We don't take the cushions off the couch!" or "Do not pull your sister's hair!" or "No hitting!" or "You know you're not supposed to push the buttons on the TV!" or "Eat your lunch!" or "No no no no no! You do NOT 'drive the car' with the floor lamp!" (That's a new one.)

We'd been chatting for about fifteen minutes when I hear something I shouldn't be hearing.

"Auntie J!"

Two seconds later, Large Fry comes running pell-mell into the living room, proudly standing before me...

...when she's supposed to be sleeping...

...and still in her pack-n-play...

...and wearing her shirt.

ONLY her shirt.

No diaper. No pants.

Oh, and her toes appear to have turned green.

My eyes widened. "What are you doing up?" I hear my friend coughing on the other end of the line. His daughter was once this age (albeit a long time ago). "Oh, go ahead and laugh," I tell him. "All my other friends with kids laugh at me over stuff like this." He insists he's just coughing. Uh-huh. Riiiiiiight. "She's naked from the waist down, too."

"Auntie, where's my diaper?" Large Fry inquires with way too much innocence to be believed.

"I don't know where your diaper is." More coughing from my friend.

"Let's go find it!" Large Fry says with glee, and tears off up the stairs.

"Her toes are green," I tell him as I trail along after Large Fry. "At least, I think it's green."

"Not a good sign." I know him well enough to know he's stifling a chuckle.

"Especially since I think she got into my Sharpies for work."

"Here it is!" Large Fry shouts exultantly from the top of the stairs, holding up her diaper like a trophy.

"How did you get out of bed?" I ask, knowing I won't get an answer, just as I find her coloring treasure trove. Not green, but blue.

"Did you find the source of the green?" my friend asks.

"Blue, actually. She found my highlighter." He just laughs.

I herd my little nudist back towards the stairs, realizing we are in BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG trouble here. She won't stay in bed now that she knows she can get out, and we can't have her getting into my office stuff. Marvelous. I hear whimpers from the twin Fries, and peek in. Crud. They're both awake too, and Small Fry took about an hour to settle down and go to sleep.

I get Large Fry downstairs and put her in training pants. No sense in putting the diaper back on her. I hang up with my friend and call Hubby as I go back up to get the twin Fries. "Your niece is blue," I say when he answers. I explain that she got herself out of bed and "cotored" all over her feet.

And leg.

And hands.

"Did she get a spanking?"

Um, no, dear. I was trying too hard to not laugh. (I think I failed miserably.) And given that she had nothing on below the waist, spanking would've been a little harsh, and by the time I got her into clothing, she would not understand why she's getting spanked.

Of course, now we just have to figure out HOW we're going to rearrange.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quote of the Week

Said Tuesday:

"Don't smile. I don't like it when you smile when I'm touching you there." Hubby, to Small Fry, as he's changing her diaper.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The reason I've called you all here today is because I'm ready to name the murderer....

We've been on vacation this week, visiting Hubby's family and spending money at the local area fair. We drove up on Tuesday and invaded my mother-in-law's small one-bedroom apartment. My in-laws have all been just wonderful to the girls, and my MIL is tickled that all three of the Fries call her "Gramma."

The girls have been having a good time. Small Fry got scared by the sheep, begging Uncle Hubby to carry her. Medium Fry nearly pitched a fit when we made her leave the piggies. Medium Fry also tried feeding the goats, and got herself kissed for her kindness. Large Fry would talk about nothing but seeing the animals on the very short drive from MIL's to B/SIL's, which is really close to the fair (so we park there and walk down). Not that anything is all that far away in a town with a population of less than 1100....

We took all three of them on the local carousel last night, which happens to be the 3rd oldest in the country and has been beautifully restored. I sat with Large Fry, and Hubby stood between the twin Fries and took a couple of pictures of all of us on the carousel. Large Fry initially wanted her own horsie, but then got scared before we even started moving, and joined me on mine. Medium Fry wasn't all that thrilled during the ride, and wasn't quite sure about all this, but both Small and Large loved it, and Large Fry didn't want to get off.

Tomorrow we're going to take them over to where my MIL is dogsitting three Great Danes....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


People who freely spoonerize should not be allowed to be around small children.

Said today at lunch: "Large Fry, you need you use your foon and your spor...your spoon and your fork."


Monday, August 25, 2008

"What the?!?!?" moment of the day

Large Fry is potty training.

To that end, we now have little girly training pants (they were all white when I was a kid, as I recall).

I decided to tackle this piecemeal, in shorter blocks, slowly working up to all day in training pants, with diapers only at naptime and bedtime. (What do I know? I've never been a parent before.)

So, as I'm checking the tag on the recently-wet training pants to make sure there's nothing weird I need to be aware of (you just never know these days), I notice the label includes this handy bit of information:

"Cool iron if necessary."

What the heck?

WHAT parent in their RIGHT mind would think that ironing training pants is a necessity?

I'll be happy if she can hold it longer than five minutes!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I meant to do this yesterday when I had the time, but, well, I just didn't have the time.

J was located fairly early yesterday morning and informed of the news. That was a weight off everyone's shoulders.

Funeral plans are proceeding; exactly when is not known, but probably not earlier than Monday. First, J and his wife and daughter (who are flying in from Seoul) have to get to Texas to begin with. Secondly, Uncle D is a veteran, and burial will be at the National Cemetery in Houston. Unlike Arlington, Houston only does 3 services per day, so they have to work around Houston's openings to figure out when to have the funeral.

My aunt is having a very hard time. Uncle D pretty much took care of everything, and now she's more than a little lost. A is helping to plan the funeral, and Mom is taking care of logical stuff like sorting through Uncle D's files (such as they are) and finding insurance information and all that stuff.

I had Large Fry call Mom just before naptime yesterday, and Mom said that her brother had looked quite different that morning than he did the day before. It was now obvious he was gone, despite the machines. And seeing the coolers waiting for the transplant harvesting team made the final goodbyes especially rough.

I had asked Mom what they'd determined about cause of death. What the neurologist suspects is that something caused Uncle D to collapse and fall. Precisely what is unknown. When he fell and hit his head, it was with enough force to fracture his skull. That trauma, combined with his bloodthinners, caused a cranial bleed. Between the pressure of the cranial bleed itself and the undoubted swelling caused by the blow to the head and subsequent fracture, a small aneurysm then ruptured.

When I handed Large Fry the phone so she could talk to Mom, she said hello, and then asked, "Gramma sad?"

I had told her that the night before. It was kind of amazing she remembered.

Since Large Fry was practically on my lap, I could hear Mom's response. Yes, she is sad, but talking to Large Fry makes her happy.

I had all three of the Fries talk to Mom at bedtime (as much as the two smaller ones will, which is mostly breathing and giggling and shoving the phone away). I need to make sure I have them call her again tonight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Correction: My mother is the nitwit.

So I called my dad. "I thought I should tell're a nitwit."

"This is not exactly news to me," he says on a chuckle.

I proceed to explain that I called Mom after calling him, despite my feeble battery life, so that Large Fry could talk to her. And she had asked if he'd told me that they'd declared Uncle D gone.

This is now news to him.

"Ah, so my mother is the nitwit."

"Well, we do tend to flock to our own kind," he says.

We will give Mom the benefit of the doubt, though, because she has reason to be acting like a nitwit. She was up at an ungodly hour, flew to Texas, and has spent the better part of the last ten hours in a hospital. And will be back at the hospital at four tomorrow morning for some final goodbyes before the transplant team comes in at 6a.

Dad did say that she'd communicated Uncle D was braindead, but he didn't realize that he was officially declared. Hey, I'm just sayin' what Mom told me. Brain death, though, is medically considered to be irreversible, and it is death. (Though there are some weird groups that will argue the point.)

He also relayed that he talked to Mom a little after I'd called and had Large Fry talk to her. She told him that it was "the bright spot" in her day.

I can't do much from here, but I at least got that part right.

Is it bad form to call one's father a nitwit?

My uncle (my mother's oldest brother) collapsed and hit his head in Texas yesterday afternoon, with little to no explanation. He had the momentary presence of mind to instruct bystanders to call my aunt. By the time the news had wound its way through the family to my mother and then to me, he was at the hospital and no longer responsive. That was about 6ish last night. Mom had nothing more to report; they weren't sure if he fainted or if he just fell, or if something precipitated the collapse.

Dad sent out an email last night, stating that it didn't look promising and that my uncle was not expected to make it. (He'd had a rather harrowing brush with death a couple years ago following back surgery. Mom spent several weeks in Texas playing nurse while my aunt was abroad, visiting their son in Korea, not knowing that such horrible complications would set in after she left.) Further, Dad said, a CT scan done earlier in the evening showed zero brain activity. Not a good sign. Mom would be flying down to Texas in the morning.

At an awful hour in the morning, as it turned out. When I called Dad this morning, he'd just gotten off the phone with my sister, the CNP, and prior to that, my aunt (Mom's sister), the lab tech. Not much new to report; they suspected a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, and they had him on life support now, in an effort to keep him alive enough until the rest of the family could make it, and to help keep his organs viable until death could be declared.

And that's where the story takes an odd twist. A, my cousin, has already flown from her part of TX to her dad's part of TX to be at his side. J, her brother, well....

J lives in Seoul, South Korea, with his wife and daughter. He's the pastor of a Nazarene church there, and teaches at Korean Nazarene University. Naturally, getting ahold of him with the time difference is going to be just swell.

But wait! There's more!

J is not presently IN South Korea.

He's in Africa. Tanzania, to be precise. Leading a short-term missions trip. No cell phone can reach him.

A managed to get through to a friend in TX who was making contacts at the mission base J is currently working out of, and there was a group searching through the national parkland where he's been doing the bulk of the mission work, trying to find him.

Updates were pitifully thin throughout the day. Uncle D is in the ICU, so no cell phones allowed. A's page gave a brief update at 11:30a that his BP had tanked, and dopamine was ordered to stabilize it.

Dad called at 805p to pass along some information, completely forgetting it was bedtime for the Fries, who were all clamoring for me to read their favorite story. I actually had to middle-name Large Fry, because she kept standing up on the futon when I told her not to. If I'd had the ability to give her a swat and not lose my cell phone at the same time, I'd have done it. I asked if there was anything new with Uncle D, and he said no.

Medium Fry's "Pwease!" cries were getting louder, so I hung up with Dad and had Large Fry come stand next to me while I dialed Mom's cell.

I figured, when your brother is dying, talking to an awful cute 3-year-old grandchild who will say, "Okay, I love you! I love you, too!" with nary a break between the sentences is probably just the ticket.

I grabbed the phone back before Large Fry dropped it, and talked briefly with Mom again.

And herein comes the part of labeling my father a nitwit.

"Did your father tell you that they declared him dead about 11a today our time?" Nothing new to report, Dad? Golly.

She went on to explain that there was no brain function in last night's test, none in the test today, and that they'd sent tissue samples to the lab to get markers to see whom might benefit from his organs (he wanted to donate). Within six to seven hours, a transplant harvesting team would take what organs could be readily used. Mom said she, her other siblings, and his wife would all like a list of what organs were procured for transplant. J still has not been found; his wife and young daughter are flying back in from Seoul, however. The funeral will likely be Monday.

Mom says it's very hard to come to grips with the fact that her brother is gone, when he is still warm and "breathing" and all. I'm sure it will hit hard, and with great force, when the transplant team has finished their work, and all the machines are turned off.

My big concern is my cousin, who still does not know his dad is gone. But prayers for all would be appreciated.

Now I just have to tell my father he's a nitwit....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Romance v. Parenthood

It had been a tough week on more than one account. The Fries all have the sniffles, so they've been extra crabby, and Medium Fry (whose nose was running the worst) screamed and cried every time I wiped her nose. Adding to all that is that Large Fry is about on the cusp of no longer needing naps, or at least as long a nap as the twin Fries need, so naptime has been a battleground.

I was frazzled by the time Hubby got home last night, and supremely glad he'd canceled the overnight camp-out with our older kids (the youth group). Hubby sent me upstairs while he finished supervising dinner, and started dinner for us.

I took my laptop and my notes for work and retreated to the bedroom. I watched non-child-friendly TV for the next hour, when I came down the hall to help with bedtime. We moved Large Fry's bed permanently into the office, so that she wouldn't wake her sisters while she refused to fall asleep.

I was getting ready to read the requested bedtime story when Hubby asked if I could finish up by myself; he needed to check on dinner. I read the story, tucked them all in (much to Medium Fry's vocal dismay), grabbed my laptop, and headed down to the kitchen.

...And found the table set in the kitchen with nice goblets filled with sparkling punch, cloth napkins in napkin rings, dinner ready to go, and Hubby looking sheepish that he wasn't finished when I came into the room.

"Who's screaming?" he asked.

"Yours," I told him. Medium Fry is his buddy, and she's very much her uncle's girl.

"Then I'm not going to turn on the monitor."

I didn't blame him. Medium Fry has a healthy set of lungs on her, and can be LOUD.

"See?" he said, gesturing to the table where he'd now lit a jar candle. "Romance isn't impossible with kids. It's just hard."

But when the screaming didn't abate as we sat down and started to dish up food, I looked at him. "I think she needs a shot."

Hubby mimicked a punch.

"No, motrin. She's teething again, her bottom eye teeth. That's probably why she's screaming."

Hubby opted to go up and drug his girl, and I decided to keep eating so my food wouldn't get cold.

After five minutes had passed, I said to the kitchen, "I love this romantic dinner we're having."

By the time Hubby came back downstairs, nearly twenty minutes had passed, and I was nearly done, even with seconds on the veggies.

Medium Fry was still crying, but it was now a how-dare-you-leave-me scream, not an I'm-in-pain-fix-it scream.

I mentioned my thoughts about our romantic dinner. He chuckled and said he'd been having the same thoughts upstairs. "Medium Fry would've been more than happy to fall asleep on my shoulder," he commented.

"Do I need to go up and hold her?"

"No, she's fine. She's just mad I left."

"Did Small Fry sleep through that?"

"Oh, no. She was awake. I'd tell her to lay down and be quiet. She'd say, 'Duckie!'"

I chuckled. My mom had bought all three girls little Gund ducks, which are permanent bedtime fixtures.

"'Small Fry, shhhh.'" He paused. "'Duckie!' I'd tell her to lay down and be quiet again. 'Duckie?'"

I'm trying not to laugh at his description of Small Fry's one-word side of the conversation and at the look of consternation on his face.

"'Duckie. Duckie. Duckie.'"

Now I'm laughing, because I know how cute Small Fry can look when she's like that.


And the irony is, it's Medium Fry who is so attached to her duckie that she can't sleep without it.

By the time we finished dinner, Medium Fry had stopped crying and all was quiet upstairs.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should've looked at him when we went to bed, and said, "Duckie!"


Friday, August 15, 2008

Note to self:

Strip the twin Fries the next time you want to serve yogurt with lunch.

Cleanup will be so much easier, and result in less laundry.

Lunchtime Blues

Golly, but the Fries have been cranky most of the morning.

Large Fry got her hand spanked at breakfast and it just kinda went downhill from there.

I'm having to scold her now about taking her food off her plate and putting it on the table. (She likes to "paint" with it.) And because she's mad about me telling her to put her food back on her plate, now she's trying to bend her whale spoon until it breaks.

The two smaller Fries are at least eating, but then, they're also stuffing their little plastic forks and spoons down their shirts. Yay. I don't know how to discourage using that "pocket."

Oh, double yay. Medium Fry is eating her yogurt with her fingers!

Yep, it's that kind of day.

*     *     *

The "pocket" reference above doesn't tell the story of how shirts overall became so known.  No, it's not the reason you think.

When we knew the girls would be spending the summer with us, I bought a little 6'-wide, 12"-deep snap-set yard pool.  Small Fry turned out to be terrified by the water, and my presence was required in the pool.  She clung to me like a lifeline the first few times we used the pool.

Innyhoo, my bathing suit is one piece and perfectly respectable...unless you're a small child standing next to me, looking down at me, as I'm sitting in the pool.  Then I have this very cool "pocket" created by my cleavage....  Naturally, Large Fry decided to make use of that pocket, taking one of the pool toys (a plastic measuring cup) and dumping water down in the "pocket."  Then she was surprised that the water wouldn't stay IN the pocket...and so she'd pull out the neckline of my suit to see where the water went.

From that point on, whenever the girls wanted to put something in a safe place, they chose the same kind of "pocket"...and put things down their shirts.  I'm not sure if I'm sad that the practice of using that "pocket" was only in use for a few months....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quote of the Day:

"Large Fry, do not feed suds to your sister." ~Hubby, as he supervised bath time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


It's been one of those days when you just want to go back to bed and skip to tomorrow. My boss decided he wanted to do payroll at 11a today (I usually have things ready to go by noonish). The kids were crabby. Emails were flying between Hubby and Dad and me regarding some intense family situations. I couldn't even escape to the bathroom for five minutes without the Fries crying or quibbling or shrieking, or my phone ringing for work.

As I prepared a very late lunch for the Fries, opting to get payroll done and my boss off my back first, I called Hubby in tears. I begged to know when he'd come home. I was so tired of taking care of everyone else and having no one to take care of me.

I got off the phone, wiped my eyes so the Fries wouldn't get upset, and called them for lunch. I finally gave up on begging Large Fry to eat her peas, deciding I no longer cared if she ate them; I didn't have the energy to continue to bribe her with wedges of clementine. As I rubbed the bridge of my nose to try to help alleviate my growing headache, Large Fry piped up, "Auntie crying?"

I looked over at her and smiled gently. "No, honey. I'm not crying. My head hurts."

Large Fry gave me a huge grin. "I kiss it!" she said cheerfully.

I couldn't help but grin. My headache still hurt, but darned if I didn't feel better as I bent over next to her so she could kiss my temple.

Naturally, she of course had to have me kiss her head. "Kiss Medium Fry head," she demanded. So I went over and kissed Medium Fry on the head. "Kiss Small fry head," Large Fry instructed. I did the same to Small Fry.

Medium Fry piped up next. "Hug!" she shouted happily.

Ever tried to hug a small child stuck in a high chair? It's interesting.

Small Fry held out her arms for a hug after I hugged Medium Fry. Then Large Fry said, "Want a hug too!" So I went and gave her a hug.

This resulted in Medium Fry gleefully demanding, "Hug!" again, which became repeated alternating hugs between Medium and Small Frys until I finally had to call a halt so they could go nap.

Stuff like that just makes my day.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Lessons in Parenthood

1) Leaving small children unattended while you go to the bathroom, especially when you've accidentally left out both the wipes and the lotion, results in a wipes snowstorm and Large Fry "conditioning" her sisters' hair (one badly enough that she required a second bath to wash it out) and the couch.

2) Huggies wipes are tough stuff. Two of them survived running through the washer.

3) Telling Large Fry she needs to use a spoon instead of a fork to eat her corn will result in Large Fry getting a time out because she (a) threw her spoon on the floor, and (b) began to scream while sitting at the table. It's her second time out for the day, and for pretty much the same reasons as the one at breakfast.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Elmo is broken!

Today is Large Fry's 3rd birthday.  Once I got my mother, the overeager grandma, to calm down her party ideas, the celebration became manageable.  Mom and Dad had gone to my cousin's grandson's 2nd birthday party--he and I share a birthday--on the 13th, and so my cousins expressed a desire to come to Large Fry's.  Before I knew it, Mom was planning a party at her place without ever talking to me to see if it was feasible!  Fortunately, my father, sensible man that he is, backed me up when I told Mom that she'd started planning without consulting the parents pro tem, and my ideas for this momentous event were a simple family get-together with favorite foods, cake and presents.  She's three, not sixteen.  She does not need a huge, blow-out party like she's had the last two years.  She's not really going to remember it anyway.

Bro is now back in PA, and this was his first weekend spent with us and the girls. (It's been...well...interesting.) So it made sense to have the party, such as it was, here. He babysat while the Fries napped, and Hubby and I went to a picnic for his bandmates for a couple of hours. We made it home a few minutes before my parents arrived. We got the Fries up and let them play for about half an hour outside in the pool. Then it was hotdogs for dinner, and Mom had gotten my cousin-once-removed to make the same cake for Large Fry's birthday that she made for her son's.

Here's the cake:

Our birthday girl was quite excited, even though it took more tries than she is years old to blow out the candle. She even sang the happy birthday song to herself.

Grandma cut the cake (I missed a great shot of Hubby trying to play Highlander with a flat cake knife and pretending to lop off Elmo's head). Large Fry was okay with the cake...until Grandma sliced off part of the Elmo frosting-ed leg and placed it on her plate. This did not go over well....

She completely refused to eat the cake with the Elmo frosting, even when it was removed. As both Grandpa and Unckie Hubby had Elmo leg slices, Large Fry looked at my dad and announced, "Papa, Elmo broken!" Dad laughed and had to agree.

Mom said later that we might consider removing any areas of red frosting before trying to serve the cake to Large Fry again (the twin Fries didn't care that they were eating "Elmo").

After we cleaned up cake-encrusted kids, we moved to the living room to open presents. Unckie Hubby had gone to Target one night for a couple of things, and found a bunch of princess stuff in their $1 section. He bought a tutu, a wand, a tiara and barrettes, and some lift-the-flap books (you know, the educational gifts). Large Fry, who happily proclaims she's Cinderella any time I put her in a dress, was delighted to be transformed into a real princess, and ran around waving her wand and shouting a three-year-old garbled version of "Bibbidi, bobbidi, boo!"

Makes a great princess, doesn't she?

And not to be left out... 

...Popoki had to come in and check out the action.

All in all, it was a good day.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A New Game

It's almost 11 a.m. My thoughts are turning towards lunch. All the urchins have clean diapers. Small Fry required a wardrobe change, and so I chased her down in the playroom, sat on a small, yellow plastic chair that's nowhere near my size, and wrestled her (seriously!) into clean clothes.

Large Fry announces she wants a hug, and comes over to me. So, I effusively hug her, shrieking, "Hug a Large Fry!" I let her go, and she tears away...but only as far as the doorway.

"Again!" she shouts, and comes running towards me.

And the game is on.

For the next twenty minutes, she comes screaming and running pell-mell into my arms, so I can hug her and shriek, "Hug a Large Fry!" in various intonations, and start all over again.

Okay, so this is why this craziness is worth it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Observations of a Mother Pro-Tem

~It's terribly cute to watch your middle niece "mew" at the cats every time she sees one. It's not so cute when she won't eat breakfast because she's too busy looking for kitties and mewing.

~Teething is the bane of any sane adult's existence (any unsane adult, for that matter). Infant motrin becomes one's best friend.

~My twin nieces alternately love or are terrified of the cats. The "terrified" part usually comes when they're still kinda waking up at breakfast or are really tired and the kitty who was still suddenly moves, and it freaks them out.

~Mika, poor thing, should always be evacuated from any room prior to small children being introduced to the area.

~What works once to get a stubborn child to swallow a mouthful of food will not work a second time. There is no such thing as a consistent trick for dealing with a goober who will not swallow, not even an animal-cracker chaser. No matter what her uncle says.

~The one thing that Large Fry Niece will eat, and beg for more of, is pizza, which will make me go broke.

~At least half a dozen times a day, I am sure I never want children, am not cut out for motherhood in any way, shape or form, and I'm immensely glad that my four-footed children willingly eat what's in front of them, bathe themselves, are toilet-trained, and sleep when they feel the need.

~Perhaps someday I will once again eat three meals a day. Regularly. I don't think that's happened more than twice this week. On the plus side, I think I've lost weight.

~If I wasn't nuts before, I am now.


*     *     *

Tonight's Award-Winning Conversation

Dinner has finished. Large Fry niece ate more grapes than she did radiatore pasta with meat sauce, Medium Fry (oldest of the twins) threw more on the floor than she ate, and Small Fry dropped so many radiatore pasta pieces in her bib that it looked like she had a choo-choo in the fold of the bib.

I informed Uncle Hubby that I cooked. He just sorta looked at me and said, "Soooo...what does that mean?"

"You clean up," I told him. Okay, he figured he could handle that. He wipes the urchins' hands and faces and sends them into the corral (living room and playroom). I am quickly beset upon by Medium and Small, who both want to be in my lap so they can play with my laptop too. I recall with a sigh the two full cups of juice they both drank when they got up from their naps, and strip them down and change diapers.

Then Large Fry walks into the living room, pushing her toy stroller with her dolly in it. Medium Fry immediately decides she MUST have Large's toy. (Medium Fry is the highly independent, strong-willed child.) The rule in my house is that you cannot steal your sister's toy when she had it first. Obviously, applying this rule is easier when it comes to Large Fry, who has a greater understanding of the English language and will actually respond in LF-English. Medium Fry, of course, has no respect for this rule. Her hand gets spanked twice. She still insists on grabbing it from her sister. I try distracting her with another toy. No soap. I am ready to go into the kitchen and trade places with Hubby. I take the wet clothes and diapers out to Hubby so he can pitch the nasty things and throw the clothes on the laundry room floor. I get back into the living room, and...

...Small Fry is grabbing the stroller from Large Fry!

I pull her little hands away and collapse on the couch, only to have her look at me as she reaches for the stroller again. I sharply tell Small Fry that she cannot have Large Fry's toy.

Meanwhile, Medium Fry is standing on the end table (it's pretty sturdy 2x4 construction). She jabbers a fairly recognizable repetition of what I just said to her sister.

"Small Fry," I say again, "you can't have that toy!"

Medium Fry offers a garbled repetition.

I look at her. "And you!" She grins at me. "Hush!"

"No!" she shouts, with impish glee.

"Yes! I'm the adult!"

"No!" Again, the impish glee.

"You're not an adult!" I can't help but grin, which is probably my undoing. "You're not even two!"

"No!" Ornery thing.

From the kitchen, Hubby calls, "Are you trying to argue with a 19-month-old?"

I look at Medium Fry, and shout back in my most petulant voice, "No!"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Things You Learn About Your Cats When You Have Toddlers in the House

~They will quickly learn when mealtimes for the toddlers are, and will prowl under the table for dropped offerings. Only the bravest come out during mealtime.

~They will just as quickly learn when naptime and bedtime are. And at those points, the cats miraculously reappear out of the woodwork.

~Mika will eat corn.

~Mika will also eat alphabet-noodle mac and cheese.

~Popoki will not eat hot dogs. (Apparently she's a food snob.)

~Keiki WILL eat hot dogs. And meat balls.

~Keiki will also eat tater tots, as we discovered during dinner tonight.

~Popoki is the only one brave enough (stupid enough?) to venture into the bathroom for a sink drink when all three girls are in the tub.

~Keiki will still "talk" loudly to herself late at night, no matter how much shushing you do or begging her to come into the bedroom and talk to herself there, in order to not wake the blissfully sleeping munchkins.

~Popoki will lay defiantly in the middle of the playroom (formerly the dining room) floor during lunch, as if to say I'm NOT letting them take over MY house.

~Surprisingly, Minou (whom my father refers to as the "Apparition," because she's so rarely seen) will come out to eat her breakfast if the girls are eating theirs at the same time.

~And oddly enough, Pa'ani, who knows no strangers (for they are merely friends he hasn't met yet), will not come downstairs if the girls are on the loose.

~None of them, when confronted by squealing little girls who are alternately wanting to pet the nice kitty and being giggly-afraid of the nice kitty or wanting to grab the nice kitty's twitching tail (all attempts there have thus far been successfully thwarted), will do more than offer a scary hiss or a deep-chested growl. (Small Fry niece has taken to trying to hiss, which is a riot.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

How to drive yourself crazy in three easy steps

1) Have your nieces come for an extended visit.

2) Buy crayons and a coloring book.

3) Be relegated to sitting in a too-small-for-you yellow plastic chair, supervising the coloring, because the 18-month-old twins believe that crayons are teething toys.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our First Time Out

So the girls are now up from their naps. I offer them something to drink, because I'm sure they're thirsty.

Large Fry wants chocolate milk.

I give the twin Fries juice.

Large Fry throws her sippy cup down to the floor in full view of Unca D. He tells her to pick it up.

I come back into the playroom (formerly the dining room) and ask Large Fry to do what her uncle just told her to, and please go pick up her chocolate milk.

She just looks at me, a rather pitiful expression on her face. You can't possibly mean that, can you?

I tell her again to please pick up her cup, using her full first name, rather than her nickname.

Stoic silence.

I go into the living room to rescue my laptop before the twinnies notice it's in there and they can play with all the buttons, and look at Hubby. He gets up and goes out to the playroom. "Large Fry," he says sternly, "do what I said. Go pick up your cup."

One lower lip, out a city block.

He takes her by the hands and leads her from the playroom into the living room, has her bend over, and tells her again to pick up her cup. She's now in full crying mode, and not in any kind of mood to be cooperative. "Pick up your chocolate milk," Hubby says in his I Will Be Obeyed voice.

She won't.

She gets spanked. One swat, hard enough to make an impression but not hard enough to hurt through her diaper. Just enough to shock, and make it clear that refusal is not an option. (I'd apologize to those of you who disagree with corporal punishment, but I think it does have its place.)

More tears and screams.

Hubby goes out to get the little plastic table and chairs my parents brought with them when they visited earlier in the day. He puts the little yellow chair in the playroom, and has Large Fry, still screaming, sit in it. He heads back out for the table, and I watch to make sure she's staying put while trying to maintain nerves of steel.

Ignoring her is surely the worst form of punishment when she cries like that. How mean are YOU, Auntie, for not saving me from mean Unca D?

By the time Hubby comes back into the house, she's down to a whimper. He lets her get up when she says she's done crying.

It's now about an hour since that time out, and another one has begun. Large Fry decided that she wanted to take the other little yellow plastic chair that her sister was playing with. Unca D objected, especially when Large Fry decided to try to push and shove Medium Fry out of the way so she could take the chair back where SHE thought it should be. Rather than doing what Unca D said, she proceeded to throw a small fit and try to manhandle (toddlerhandle?) her sister even more. She screamed when he wouldn't let her take it, and continued to cry. Another time out! She was probably there for another five minutes before she was ready to stop crying.

Hubby looked over at me as I was typing, dispassionately trying to ignore the Time Out drama. "Am I doing the right thing?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah. She has to learn that she needs to share; she can't dominate who uses what toy all the time."

"Okay," he said, still looking a little unsure. He then turned to Large Fry. "Are you ready to stop crying?"

I guess she nodded, for he continued. "You need to share with your sisters, and let them play with things. You can't take things that they are playing with. You need to wait your turn."

Bedtime is in three hours. I wonder how many time outs we'll have between now and then....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How to fix crankiness....

Realize that, despite the air conditioners running upstairs, it's still very stuffy in the girls' room, and they just got up from their naps.

Put Andre Rieu: In Wonderland, burned especially for them by their beloved Boppa, in the DVD player.

Give them juice.

See happy smiles.

Feel your heart break anyway when the oldest one, still not quite up to snuff (because it's been a long day and we woke her up from her nap so she didn't sleep too late), starts crying for Mama.

Realize you want to boink their mama in the eyes, for she does not deserve their loyalty--they've been here a week, she knows they're here, and she hasn't bothered to call. For someone who supposedly wants custody of her children, it boggles my mind that she hasn't even tried contact them once.

But love those happy smiles all the more, and treasure every memory.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Thought

Is it bad when you buy Disney Princesses bandaids for your nieces, "just in case," and they are the only bandaids you have in the house, and YOU are the one who needs them first?

I'm just wondering.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Zero to Hero

May 30, 2008, approx. 8:15 p.m.

The day had started before 6 a.m.  Dad had driven out the night before in his minivan (I'd never been so glad that my parents lived a scant 75 minutes away), to crash at our house before we got up at oh-dark-stupid in order to be on the road by six, traveling south, towards Georgia.

We were on our way to meet up with my brother and his little girls.  His very little girls.  The oldest was about seven weeks shy of her third birthday.  The twins were just barely one and a half.  We would meet somewhere halfway-ish, have lunch, and basically transfer the contents of my brother's car to my dad's van...and my brother would head back to Augusta.  The girls, Dad, my husband and I would all head north, back to our home.

My brother had called a couple of weeks before, stating that his wife had (once again) decided that she wanted nothing more to do with him, or marriage, and specifically, marriage to him.  His and the girls' legal residency was still PA.  And, having determined that her threat of divorce was actually serious this time, he wanted to get the girls back to PA before his estranged wife could do something stupid and keep them all in GA.  However, he didn't have the money to move back yet.  They'd only moved to GA, to be with his wife during her training, at the end of March.

Was our offer, to take in the girls if they needed a place for awhile, still good?  We were, after all, their godparents.

My husband assured my brother that the offer was still open.  They hammered out a plan: my brother would work like crazy for six weeks (or so) to earn up enough money to move back, and then he'd have another six weeks (or so) to get a full-time job, a place to live and be ready to take back his girls.

So here we were.  Tired.  Weary.  Hungry.  Home.

My youngest niece was the first one into the house, still in her carseat.  At 22-ish pounds, she was still in a rear-facing seat.  And when 20-lb, 10-year-old Popoki, gentle giantess and understandably curious about this new "thing" in her house, poked her head over the edge of the carseat to sniff at my niece, she screamed in terror.  (To her credit, Po was pretty unruffled.)

I shooed Po away, and got my niece out of her carseat, lifting her into my arms and holding her, trying to comfort her.

By the time everyone got inside, fear and hunger were overpowering the girls.  All three were in tears.  I was in tears.  They were scared.  I was terrified.  My only "kids" were my cats.  And they slept when they wanted to, ate what I put in front of them, were healthy, and were potty trained.

Of course...the phone rang.

It was my sister, in Boston.  Five months pregnant with her first son, she wanted to know how we were doing.  What had I gotten myself into?

I'm quite sure she heard the wailing of the girls in the background.  And probably my sniffles as well, if the girls didn't drown me out.

"You've gone from zero to hero," my sister commented.

I'd never felt less heroic in my life.

We wrapped up our conversation and I told her to be sure to say hi to her hubby for us.

We tried to get the kids to eat.  They were hungry, but their fear kind of overwhelmed their stomachs.  We got them to eat enough that I figured they could get through the night without hunger waking them up, and we got them ready for bed.

Once upstairs, panic ensued again, and cats scattered.  The twins couldn't bear to be in separate pack-n-plays, even if they could see each other through the mesh sides.  So I put them together, in one.  We hugged them.  Kissed them.  Made sure the nightlights were on.  Wished them a  good night's sleep.

When Dad said that he'd decided to spend another night, I cried in relief.  I'd been married and on my own for almost twelve years, but I didn't want my daddy to go home yet.

Fifteen minutes later, the desperate crying of three scared little girls was still going on.

"Perhaps," Dad said, "you could play music in their room.  That might help them calm down."

I found a spare clock radio, tuned it to the classical station that we get out of Maryland, set it to a low volume, and plugged it in.  A push of the sleep button turned the music on for 59 minutes.  It took a fraction of that time for the girls to settle down and fall asleep.

We waited until we were sure that the girls were asleep.  Then I got Dad a sheet, pillow and blanket so he could bunk down on the couch, given that the futon he'd slept on the night before was in what was now the girls' bedroom.  And we all crashed.

I couldn't help but wonder.

How on earth was I going to do this for twelve weeks?