Saturday, January 29, 2011

Punishment by Fun

We're spending the weekend with Gramma and Boppa.

They have about ten inches of snow, and a better hill for sledding than we have.  (And we've only got about seven inches of snow.)

Unca D went out and bought new sleds today, so that little girls can go sledding.  And have fun.  And giggle.  And we get great pictures.

Gramma made quesadillas for lunch.  Something new for the Fries...who were not sure at all about this.  They were told they had to eat three little quesadilla triangles in order to be considered "done" with lunch, and thus be able to play outside.

By the time Unca D got back from the store with the sleds, no one was "qualified" to go out and play in the snow.

And we decided that we could not just let them off the hook or make something different to get them to eat and thus be able to go play in the snow, because then that would tell them it's okay to refuse to eat, it's okay to insist on something different rather than what's made for a meal, and that either of those things will be rewarded by play.

Hubby looked at my dad, and said, "Thing is, if none of them get to go out, that means I still have to go out and play."

Dad grinned.  "Gee, darn."

(Small Fry ended up being the only one who got to go out and play.  Boppa went out to take pictures, since I forgot my camera and my ankle has been giving me fits over the last 48 hours.  Plus...I forgot my boots.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear Lord...

Please grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change...

Courage to change the things I can...

And the wisdom to not string my children up by their toes, since I know I cannot change the fact that they were all awake in the middle of the night, the twin Fries from before 1a until nearly 4a, and Large Fry from about 3a to nearly 4a, when I sent them all packing back to their beds.

And pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, Lord, let them all go to bed cooperatively tonight.  I still don't feel good (and it's all Eve's fault).

Or one of us may be seeing you sooner than expected.  And it will probably be me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Furniture Ruminations

The twin Fries are sitting on the couch with Unca D, and Large Fry is generally being a pest while "helping" Medium Fry, who's been sick today.

Small Fry has decided that sitting on Unca D is far more fun than just sitting on the couch.

Hubby looks over at me.  "I'm nothing more than a piece of furniture, am I?" he asks.

I just looked back at him.  "You've been just a piece of furniture since we first got a cat!"

He sort of nodded his head.  "You're right."

Of course I'm right.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good news! Good news!

My friends' teeny little preemie, Zach, is now a whopping nine days old, and he continues to improve daily!

In the last week, his feedings have increased from 1ml every three hours, to 3ml, to 5ml, to 7ml and today, he's up to 9ml every three hours!  His mom has been able to pump milk, and once it's been frozen for a number of hours, they can use it for Zach, which is wonderful.  Both of his parents have now been able to hold him, and his big brother has met him.

They can still use continued prayer, since they're having to adapt to a "new normal" for the time that Zach will remain in the NICU.  It's an exhausting schedule, especially when you take jobs and life with an active four-year-old into consideration.

We're all just so thrilled at the way our prayers have been answered so far.  Thanks for praying!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yet More Dinner Conversations

We eat dinner as a family each night (or, as many nights as are possible), and sometimes it brings about the strangest conversations....

Medium Fry [with a napkin shoved up in her right nostril]: I'm making a boogie!

Hubby: I'm wonderful.  You're an overachiever.

Large Fry: I'm not a cheater!

Medium Fry: I'm a cheater!  ...  Unca D, I have to frow my napkin away.

Hubby:  Just put it on the table.

Medium Fry:  But then the boogie will get on da tablecloff!

Hubby took the proffered napkin, inspected the miniscule boogie, then folded it up so that the "boogie" wouldn't touch the table.  He handed it back to Medium Fry.

Medium Fry:  Thank you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From the memory vault....

I have a huge collection of fun socks.  If you know me well, you're already aware of this.  I have been known to amuse people by my choice in footwear.  Most notably, I cracked up paramedics treating my cracked-up self following my July 2009 car wreck, because I was wearing socks festooned with gingerbread men and Christmas trees.  (What can I say?  The black background matched my shirt.)  I have Valentine ones.  Halloween ones.  A lone pair of "fall" socks, which have scattered, color-changed leaves embroidered on them.  Winnie-the-Pooh.  Mickey Mouse.  Kitties.  Snowflakes.  Polka dots.  Thick, fluffy and warm.  Christmas (obviously).  Patriotic!  They have their own under-the-bed drawer because my collection is so vast.

Now, I'm telling you all of this to tell you this story:

Moons ago, somewhere between 1996 and 2000, I was relatively poor (as most young marrieds are), shopping for Christmas gifts, and trying to find good bargains that would also qualify as good presents.  I think, the year before, I had found this great tie for my dad.  (Although, it might have been the same year.  Not sure.)  It was very background, and shades of silver and white shapes decorating it in various sizes.  Of course, those shapes were the famous head outline of Mickey Mouse, in varying sizes.  Dad loved it...because he could wear it to work, and unless you were looking carefully, never know it had Mickey all over it.  Subtle, classy, and fun.  (He liked to wear it on days that he had bureaucratic meetings.) the course of my shopping, I found these socks.  They were beige.  They looked like standard dress socks...all the way up to about two inches above the ankle, where they had a woven-in reindeer head with the caption "Will Work for Doe."

Did I mention they were also musical?

Now, Dad's not one to shake his presents.  At least, not in the three and a half decades I've known him.

Allow me to rephrase.  Dad's not normally one to shake his presents.

That year, I'd managed to get my shopping and wrapping done in enough time to ship the gifts to my folks--who lived over 600 miles away--in time for them to arrive before Christmas, and thus, were able to actually be opened on Christmas.  Dad picked up the wrapped socks and gave it a little shake, causing enough pressure on the music chip sensor that it began to play.

He loved the socks.

He wore them to a big meeting one day.

He shouldn't have crossed his ankle just so over his other knee.

Sort of like this poor MP.

Except without the apology in the charming British accent.

Random Ramblings

I was working on dinner and getting through some stuff for work.  Hubby was watching something on his computer and had his headphones in.  The twin Fries were napping.

And Large Fry was playing by herself in the middle of the living room floor, making up a song as she went along.

I didn't pay it much mind, until I realized she mentioned my late father-in-law (whom I still miss).

"Poppa Clair lives with Jesus!  Poppa Clair lives with Jesus?  Why?  I miss him!"

Me, too, Large Fry.  Me, too.  And you didn't even get a chance to know him.

Dad, I sure hope heaven's got video monitoring, and you saw and heard that.  That's love...when you love without ever meeting someone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Boom

My friends' tiny preemie son, Zach, has shown improvement daily since this weekend.  He'll soon actually be getting his mother's milk as his feedings, which is a very good thing.

His big brother even got to meet him yesterday!

So, Zach is holding his own for now.  Continued prayers would certainly be appreciated.

Here's our tiny friend:

Yep, those are his parents' hands, for size comparison.  His daddy's wedding ring can easily fit over his hands and feet.

But isn't he just the cutest thing?!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh, Baby!

Teeny tiny little Zach was born at 5:59 p.m.

He weighs a whopping 1 lb 7 oz and is 12.5 inches long.

He's in the NICU now, and is reportedly adorable. Wendy and Ron are doing fine.  They're waiting for some meds for Wendy before going down to the NICU.

Please continue to keep Zach, Wendy and Ron in your prayers, along with Zach's big brother Trip, who's 4.

An Urgent Prayer Request

I don't know how many people read this blog.

I don't know your religious beliefs...or if you even have any.

But if you do believe in the same God I do, I beg of you: please pray for my friends Wendy and Ron.  Wendy is 24 weeks pregnant with their second baby (also their second boy), and she went into pre-term labor on Monday.  Doctors have been able to hold off on delivering the baby up until now.

Wendy is on her way to L&D right now; the baby will be born today.

This little guy has a HUGE battle ahead of him, as do his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone else who loves him already.

The doctors have, of course, been giving Wendy medicine to help accelerate his lung development.

We want it to be enough, and we want him to have a fighting chance.

Thanks for praying...Ron and Wendy will appreciate it far more than you know.

What on earth?!

As I'm sitting here, sipping my tea and catching up on Facebook, when I hear sounds like one of the cats attempting to hack up a hairball...except they're coming from Medium Fry.

"Medium, what are you doing?"  I asked.

"I'm bein' a tiger," she said.

Silly me.  She was wearing the tiger hat.  How could I not know?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How dare you!

Hubby has been very conscious of the pressures little girls who grow into big girls will face in the future.  A lot of that has been seeing the young teen girls in our last youth group, all of whom were convinced that they were one of the following: ugly, too fat, too short, too tall, too out-of-fashion, too something that wasn't quite right.  And no matter how much he assured them that they were beautiful girls, and not fat (this, from girls who might weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet), or how much I said the same things, the girls just didn't believe us.

Society and fashion's dictates on what is the perfect body are unattainable...and the scary truth is, some girls die trying.

And many of these girls come from broken homes, with absent or uninvolved fathers.  But not all.


Now, I told you all that to explain this to you: Hubby is determined that our girls NEVER doubt their beauty in his eyes.  He doesn't EVER want them to have to look to their peers to find approval of their looks.  And since the "I'm not beautiful" line has cropped up here, he's determined to stop it now, while he can, while his words and his smile and his hugs and overt love have an stronger impact than they would in, say, another ten years.

Every time he brushes their hair, or dresses them up for church, or gets them dressed on a normal day, he looks at them when he's done.  He smiles broadly.  He touches the precious little face in front of him.  "You are beautiful!" he declares.

So, today, as I was heading upstairs to get a shower, Hubby and I finished up our conversation while he finished brushing Small Fry's hair.

And he finished up while talking to me.

Small Fry was indignant.  "Say, 'You'wre bootiful!'"

Hubby grinned and gave her a hug, I imagine.  "You're beautiful!" he exclaimed.

I'm glad she knows the pattern enough to demand her proper praise.


One of the worst things about our situation is that it's so divisive to the family.  And, while I can reason once in awhile that this truly isn't my fault, I can't help but think that it somehow is.

Hubby says I am unnecessarily heaping guilt on myself.

But I can't help but think...if only we hadn't agreed to take in the girls.  If only we hadn't filed suit.  If only we hadn't objected to so many things, despite how objectionable those things were.  If only we'd had kids of our own.  If only....

If only...then my brother wouldn't be so mad.  He wouldn't be spewing out vitriolic emails.  He wouldn't be blaming me for the rift in the family.  His estranged wife wouldn't be blaming us for that, either, or for starting "all this drama."

Oh, I know.  If we hadn't made the choices we did, brought on by the choices both Bro and SIL made, the lives of the girls would be vastly different from the loving security they have here with us.

The Worry Gremlins and the Guilt Gremlins are not bound by reality.

This weekend, those Gremlins were busy.  My brother spouted off a raging email to my mother, blaming her for everything under the sun and for decisions that we had made that she'd had no part in making, other than to tell us that she agreed with our choices.  He berated her for not acting in love towards him.  As I read his email, I goodness, my mother is nearly as powerful as Egypt claims the Mossad is!

My mom sent a brief response, basically saying she'd gotten his email, and wanted to think about it for awhile.

His response was five succinct words, and we wondered...if words don't count, how many more actions does he need to have proof that he is loved?

Her response to that was that she was mailing him a letter, and that she has not made these choices he's so angry about.  And yes, she loves him.

How did he react?  Sadly, his reply was predictable.  Except that his venom was loosed on us all--Mom, Dad, Hubby and me--rather than just Mom.  And he un-invited us to his wedding, before he's even engaged to his girlfriend to whom he plans to propose.

Okay then.

It's heartbreaking for all of us.

Mom has been pragmatic, but I know his words have stung deeply.

This morning, I found this email from Dad in my inbox.  I know he's been hurt by all of Bro's antics, too.  His email mentioned an old "promise box" that he keeps in his car, for moments when he needs inspiration or encouragement.  You know, the ones that are sometimes shaped like little loaves of bread and hold a stack of Bible verses on card stock.  On his way home from his choir rehearsal on Monday night, he pulled one of those out.  I think he was grateful to have found it still in his car, and not in their other vehicle.  These were the verses found on the card he pulled out: 

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
   and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
   and the parched ground into springs. Isa 41:18

God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.  Psa 46:1

I was glad Dad chose to share those with us.  The promises in there were an important reminder of who's really in control of this flying umbrella we call "life."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tonight's Award-Winning Conversation

Medium Fry has excused herself to the potty in the middle of dinner.

Hubby:  Hurry up, Small Fry.

Medium:  I'm Medium Fry!

Hubby:  When people get old, they get confused.  Unca D is very confused.

Medium:  Why are you confused?

Hubby:  Because I'm very old.

Medium:  Then you should've DIED!

Last-minute change of thought

There's been a rash of tattling tonight.  Medium Fry has been in three times in the last five minutes, all to tattle that Large Fry has been licking toys.

Small Fry just came into the room.  And it's kinda suspicious, because Medium's last tattle was on Large Fry licking Small Fry's teapot.  And it's not uncommon for either of the Twin Fries to re-tattle after the other one has, just to be absolutely sure we got the message.

Small Fry:  Unca D?

Hubby: Are you going to tattle?

Small Fry [indecisively]:

Hubby:  Good, because if you were going to tattle, you would get punished, 'cause I'm tired of tattling.

Small Fry [momentarily panicking]:  I have to tell you somefing.

Hubby:  What do you have to tell me?

Small Fry:  Um... [you can almost see the light dawn]  I love yew!

Hubby:  I love you, too.  You can tell me that any time.

Small Fry:  I love yew!  I love yew!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Will you help, too?

Adoption has always been something close to my heart.  And while we haven't adopted the Fries, I love them as much as I would my own children.  I can understand the heart-wrenching wait to be matched with your adopted's got to be much like the heartache and frustration we experienced as our court case slowly wound through the court system.

My friends over at The Dean Machine are in the process of adopting two boys from Ethiopia, and they're in the hard part: the waiting for a referral.

Lauren writes much more eloquently than I could about their friends, the Umlaufs, who finally are able to finalize the adoption of a little boy...but are just burdened by the financial constraints.

Scoot on over to Jamie & Lauren's place.

See what Lauren has to say.  And maybe, just maybe, you can help out, too.


Are those jevvies?

Today, in usual Murphy's fashion, Hubby found the little plastic Veggies that go in our Veggie Tales Manger Scene that we bought for the kids to play with, so they'll leave my ceramic one alone.

They're sitting in a ziploc bag on my desk right now, just waiting to be reunited with their stable and put away.

Small Fry walks over.  "What awre dose?" she asks, pointing at the little Veggies.

"Those are Veggies."

She nods and accepts the answer, and wanders off.  A few minutes later, she's back.

"Are dose jevvies?"

"No, they're VeGGies," I answered, stressing the consonant sound.

"Jevvies," Small Fry says.

"VeGGies," I corrected.

"Veggie Tales," Medium Fry intones from her spot on the couch next to Hubby, where she's playing with Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella knockoff Barbies.

"Jevvies.  Jevvie Talews," Small Fry said importantly.

Oh, well.  I guess we'll keep working on that.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tonight's Dinner Experiment

In my unending search for easy-to-fix but yummy meals, I stumbled across Hamburger Helper's Double Cheesy Quesadilla mix.

Now, before you have a conniption about it being Hamburger Helper and therefore weird, let me tell you: it's good.  Not only that, but they give you this nifty little tip at the bottom of the box's back about how to add a little to make it more than just, well, straight Hamburger Helper.

Their suggestion is to add a cup of corn when there's five minutes left on the simmer time.

The last time I made it, I not only added a cup of frozen corn, but also a half-cup of chopped onions and a half-cup of chopped green peppers.

Oops.  That diluted the seasonings quite a bit, and made it rather bland.

But I liked the idea of more veggies being added.

Tonight, I cooked the hamburger with the chopped onions.  Then I (sort of) followed the directions on the back of the box.  However, I added an extra packet of taco seasoning to make up for the extra fluid from the frozen veggies I was going to add.  When it was about five minutes from the end of the simmering timeframe, I added a little more than a cup of frozen corn, about 2/3 cup of diced green peppers, and a drained can of mild Rotel.


I'm good.

Large Fry loved it.  The twins found it to be too spicy, and kept complaining that their tongues were too hot.

Next time, what I think I'll do is mix a can of the mild Rotel with an equal-sized can of finely diced tomatoes, and dump half of the mixture in, and freeze the rest for next time.

Top it with grated sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips.  Good stuff.

I'll bet you didn't know this!

Today being Thursday, Large Fry has Good News Club during her lunchtime at school.  (At least, I think it's during lunchtime.  But I know she has GNC on Thursdays.)

Tonight, at dinner, she spits out this question, without warning:  "Why did da man kill da lamb and put da lamb in the fire?"

It took some creative questioning and the combined Biblical knowledge of both Hubby and myself to ascertain that she was talking about Abel.  Clearly, today's Good News Club lesson was about Cain and Abel and their sacrifices, and the unfortunate results.

Hubby tried then to explain that Abel killed the lamb as a sacrifice, to show God how much he loved him.

Large Fry was persistent.  She wanted to know why the poor lamb had to die.

"Well," Hubby started to explain, "when we you know what sin is?"

Large Fry nodded.

Small Fry piped up, "A bug!"

Betcha didn't know insects were evil....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What now?

A friend posted this quote by Oswald Chambers as his status earlier tonight:
Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you go out in surrender to Him until you are not surprised an atom at anything He does?
While I'm somewhat sure he didn't mean to stir up a mental hornet's nest for me, he did anyway.  I commented that this was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear...and exactly what I didn't want to hear.

I'm not renowned for my patience.  I can handle some kinds of change easily enough, have learned to roll with the smaller punches...but the bigger stuff?  At the very least, I want a map.  Preferably, I'd like a plan.  Details, if you please.  I could get lost in a paper bag if you closed up the end.  (I'm also directionally challenged.)  The more I know, the more comfortable I will feel.

This aspect of my personality does not mesh well with the "walk by faith, not by sight" principle of my faith.  While on the one hand I know that too much knowledge of the future would be a very bad thing (I'd surely be scared spitless), that reality wars with my need to understand where my life is going and how we're going to get there.

When Hubby first told me that God had been talking to him about returning to full-time ministry (it only took him four months to tell me), it was easy to see, even then, how God had been arranging the dominoes of our lives so that I would be ready for the idea.  And I was.  And now that we knew we were going somewhere (it was pretty clear we wouldn't be remaining in Columbus), I was ready to know the next step of the plan.

I spent a lot of time arguing with God.  Well, I argued.  He listened.  And probably laughed at me, too.  But I figure, he made me this way.  He can put up with my griping.  I just wanted to know what was next, and I was impatient for the mystery to be solved.

Now, I love a good mystery.  When it's in a book.  I love Agatha Christie.  I've only ever figured her out once, and even at that, I was only half right.  But in a book, the mystery wraps up.  It's finite.  I know it will be solved.

Life, however, is a never-ending mystery, especially when the one writing the story is the God of the universe.  And just when you get settled in one chapter of life, he starts dropping hints on the next one.

Case in point?  Our move here, to begin with.  Yeah, Hubby had a call to a church here.  We don't dispute that.  However, there was a deeper calling attached to our move: three little girls who would desperately need us.  When the church job disintegrated, we were still left with three little girls.

For a time, I questioned the call to the church here, because it had ended so badly, and, in many ways, we both felt that it shouldn't have unfolded like that.  Hubby, however, was absolutely sure.  The call here was real.  It was just for a higher purpose than a job...the job was the vehicle to get us here, where we could ultimately step into the bigger calling of raising our nieces.

Hubby has been out of work for nine months now.  I'm starting to get scared.  There just don't seem to be many options for Hubby's chosen field that don't involve huge moves.  Or changing church denominations.  (Not that we're against the idea; we did that when we came here.  But there are some denominations that just don't line up well enough with what we believe.)  And we have little girls counting on us.

I'm ready for the reveal, man.  I want to know!

Mario Murillo once said, "God is never late...but he's missed several golden opportunities to be early!"

And yet, as Chambers pointed out, God is not going to reveal his plan just because I ask, demand, scream, shout, cry, and beg.  I know in my heart and soul that there is a plan.  I just have to wait for it.  And God's timing will be spot-on, like always.  And yet...

I hate waiting.

We were discussing a couple of possibilities today, an open position Hubby has applied for, some rumblings, and the idea of moving back into the secular workforce.  Each has its appeal.  Each has its drawbacks.  Hubby flat-out asked me which job, should things fall in such a way, I would like him to take.

My answer was different this time than it would have been four years ago, when I wanted so desperately to just get on with things: I want what's best for our family.

And, what's best for our family will be, without a doubt, what God has in mind and is orchestrating behind the scenes, where we can't see it yet.

This time, though, I'm not asking God to give me the details of his plan.

I just want to know which dream to turn my heart toward.  I can wait on the rest.  But urging my heart in one direction or the other would be so helpful.  I know myself.  I don't want to be disappointed in God's plan.

That's growth, I suppose.

If you don't mind, I'm going to go sit over there and not stew about this.

Okay, so I probably will, and I'll throw another gripe or six at God while I'm at it.

I'm sure he's expecting it by now. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Honesty of (Small) Children

Hubby [in frustration]: You are being so disobedient today!  Why?

Medium [in tears]:  Becawse I want to!