Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Post from the Road: Well now...

THAT's a bit disconcerting.

Post from the Road: Do I have to pay mileage?

We had just gotten back on the road after a potty break when Small Fry announced in a slightly terrified voice, "Uh-oh! My tooth is gonna fall out!"

No biggie. "We'll just keep an eye on it, and you'll eat carefully."

I hadn't even known this one was that wiggly, and I really hoped we had enough change in the van in case the tooth fairy needs to visit Fort Wayne.

"Uh-oh! It's bleeding!"

I passed a napkin back to Large Fry. "Give that to Small."

Large dutifully passed it on.

"My tooth fell out!!!"

I turned in my seat. Sure enough, there's a small hole in Small's smile. "Wrap it up in the napkin and hand it up here to me. We'll leave it for the tooth fairy tonight."

Guess I'd better check the pull-out cupholder for spare change...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Misadventures in Summer Vacation

This is the last day of our four-day break between trips.  We got home from our family vacation to Florida last Friday night, and tomorrow morning we leave for our denomination's National Conference, the every-other-year denominational business meetings.

Despite only being home a few days, the den is a mess again and so are the kids' rooms.

Before he left for work today, Hubby posted two chores for the kids: pick up their rooms, and clean up the den.

I really dislike it when chores get assigned by Hubby and I have to enforce them.  It doesn't go well.  It was worse when we first started insisting they had to do chores, so it's better now, to a certain extent.

Sort of.

It amazes me what kids will do in order to get out of doing their assigned chores.

They had the morning to do what they wanted, but after lunch I said it was time to do their chores.

"Go clean your rooms, and when you're done, pick up the den," I told them.

Meanwhile, I've done two loads of laundry, cleaned up three out-of-the-box cat messes, treated the floor in those locations so it doesn't get done again, scooped litterboxes (OUCH), remailed Mille's birthday card that got sent back to me, and cooked lunch.

And they're griping that they have nothing to do.  Oh, but you do!  (I'm so mean.)

Shortly thereafter, I walked into the kitchen, where I found Small and Medium "cleaning" things.

"Look at all this mail I found!" Medium crowed.

It's the mail from last week, when we were gone.  Which I had sorted into piles.  Now back in a huge single pile.

I closed my eyes and stifled the urge to scream.  "Medium, I had that all sorted!"


Yeah.  Oh.

"What are you guys doing in here?"

"Daddy said we could clean up the kitchen!"

"No.  You have to clean your rooms and the den first."

"But Daddy said..."

"You have to do your assigned chores first, before you do anything else!"

They grumbled and went upstairs.

I went upstairs half an hour ago to take my anti-inflammatory pain med (the MRI of my wrist was yesterday; fluid pocket noted, but diagnosis pending until my appointment on 7/5), and found them running around upstairs.  Large Fry was barking at Pa'ani and chasing him, poor kitty.  Then she ran into our bedroom and picked up Small's stuffed Toby, chirping, "Small wants him back!"

"What are you doing in my room?!" I shouted from the bathroom.  Large skipped towards the door without answering.  "What are you doing in my room?"

"Small wants this back!"

I hadn't heard her say that, and they were sure being loud enough.

"Bring it back!" I ordered.

She thankfully obeyed.  "I'm helping Medium with her room!"

"Is your room clean?"

Large's face drooped.  "No."

"Then go clean it!"

"But Medium helped with the mess!"

"I don't care.  You clean your room, and they'll clean their room."

Then I sent Hubby a text, asking when he might be home today.  He called me instead.

Meanwhile, upstairs, there was running and giggling and happy shrieks and general insanity.

I decided to wait for Hubby to get home and lay down the law.  He's the one with the I Will Be Obeyed voice.

Golly, I need caffeine.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Post from the Road: Local Color

Large Fry and I saw this handsome fella as we came out of Walmart today.

These guys never come to our Walmart at home.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Post from the Road: South Carolina

We're at the South Carolina welcome center, which is confoundedly in the middle of the state.

Here they have Liberty Garden, a 9/11 memorial, and one of the first in the country. Four quotations about liberty and American spirit ring a central fountain.

The girls wanted to toss in pennies and make a wish, so Hubby handed out coins.

He came over to me after the Fries made their wishes, and handed me a penny. "In case you wanted to make a wish," he said.

I took the penny.

Hubby went on, "Large Fry wished that our family would stay together forever and ever. Medium wished for our family to stay together forever. Small wished for a turtle."

I couldn't help but chuckle.

My wish?

I'm so glad you asked.

This was my wish:

"As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty, here and across the world." -George W. Bush

I wished that we would always be a beacon of hope and liberty.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

VBS results

So, VBS wrapped up tonight.

Of course, the kids were challenged to raise money again, with increasing rewards.

If they raised $200, they got a picnic.

If they raised $300, they got a picnic AND a bouncy castle.

If they raised $400, they'd get a picnic with a bouncy castle, AND a dunk tank with King D (this year's emcee) on the hot seat.

And if they raised $500 (all the proceeds go to a local charity)...they'd get the picnic, bouncy castle, dunk the king dunk tank, AND get to both pie Hubby in the face and green-slime him.

As of last night, their offering total was a paltry $176.

There's just no way, Hubby thought. No way.

The total tonight?


Five hundred ninety-six dollars!

Never let it be said that the kids at our church don't love their youth pastor...or love getting to cream him.

Five hundred ninety-six bucks.

By the way, Hubby gave each of the Fries $10 in support of the cause.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

So far today...

*I've gotten dressed one and a half times.

* I forgot to eat breakfast.

*I did summer "school" with the kids.  Oh, the agony.  Large Fry had each of her worksheets explained to her, and then didn't do two of them right anyway...mostly because she didn't remember what I said and didn't read the directions herself.  My mother assures me this will help the kids to not lose what we've spent nine months cramming into their ears.  I think it will assure me either a sainthood or a room with rubber wallpaper.

*The neighbors are having a new roof put on their house.  I've been listening to the hydraulic nail gun all day.

*Cleaned up where one of four feline suspects anointed the basement floor—one step out from the bottom of the stairs—with pee.  After stepping in it, of course, and getting the bottoms of my jeans wet.  (There's your .5 dressed thing, if you were wondering.)  Darn it, I put up the Feliway diffuser in the basement last night!

*I washed a load of clothes.

*I am not thinking about the four loads of clothes I now have to fold.

*Fixed lunch.  Making PBJ sandwiches is always a challenge when you can't really move your wrist.

*Made Large Fry redo the worksheet that she did totally wrong.

*Put wash in the dryer, and started another load.

*Mediated dispute over Small Fry pretending to cut down a tree in the yard with a "big stick" (*gasp* Stick? That's rebar!) and smacking Medium Fry in the head.  I took them outside to have them show me what on earth happened.  Small was taking the rebar to the tree and smacking the heck out of it to "cut" it down.  More rebar was on the ground, covered by the mower shield, and various other things the kids had kiped for playthings...all of which were NOT playthings...when they have plenty of toys...and all but one or two had been taken out of the shed.  Which Hubby explicitly told ALL of them, just the other day, that they were NOT to take things out of the shed and play with them.

*Ordered them to put all the stuff away, and reminded them of what Daddy had said.  And then I warned that consequences would be swift if I caught them doing it again when they all knew the shed was off-limits for turning its contents into playthings.  (Golly, we need a new shed that has better doors, but those things are freaking expensive!)

*I came back inside, only to have the kids follow.

*Ordered the kids outside to play because they were griping, only to have them all come back inside within five minutes, complaining of various ailments for why they couldn't go outside.

*Remembered I needed to start another load, find a printable chart for Large Fry, and try to see if I could make my old mp3 player work, because my current one died a spectacular death last night.  "One too many hits with the snake..."

*Got distracted due to mediation again.  Hubby called mid-mediation.

*Found an acceptable chart.  Printed two copies.

*Hooray!  The radiology office finally called to schedule my MRI!  Suck a duck...I can't get in until 6/24 because of our summer schedule.

*Started another load of laundry.  Mediated again.

*Forgot to go find my old Fuze.  I think I'll do that now.

*Nope, wait.  Going to shout at Large Fry for demanding she get a turn RIGHT NOW on Daddy's old tablet...which Medium has been using all of three minutes.

*NOW I'll go look for my old Fuze.

*sigh*  When does VBS start today?

School's out!

Yesterday was our last day of school here, all two and a half hours of it.

I was very surprised when Hubby came home around noon, since I know he's got a lot of work to do this week before we leave at week's end for vacation.  Plus, it's VBS week at church, and he's emceeing, teaching a class, and serving as motivation for the kids to raise $500 in offering (to go to a local charity): the kids will have a picnic, bounce house...and a dunk tank.

My understanding is that the kids immediately started chanting to dunk Hubby.  (You might remember last year's reward.)

Innyhoo...Hubby came home to see if we'd like to go out to lunch to celebrate the end of the school year.  I jumped all over that; my wrist is still in constant pain, and the thought of making sandwiches made me whimper.

So, out we went.  We could either go to our favorite local eatery, or go fast food, because they'd be about the same price, honestly.

We opted for our favorite place.  We're friendly with the owners, and the food is good.

They have this one waitress during the school year who looks remarkably like my cousin.  I was a little disappointed that she wasn't working yesterday.

And, it seemed, they'd hired someone new.

We've seen this guy there before, as a patron, or a friend just dropping by.

You really can't miss him.

He's got tattoos.  Lots of them.  On his arms.  On his neck.  On his face.  On his scalp, with his hair buzzed short on the sides of his head (giving him a long, flowing Mohawk) so that you can see the ink there.

And, the pièce de résistance, a spike through his septum that tapers at both ends.

There was a quiet conversation about not staring.

It was toward the end of our meal, with the kids doing a pretty decent job of not staring too much and Medium being a tad afraid of this guy, that Large Fry observed, "Maybe he has that 'cause his nose is running, and that thing makes it not run anymore."

Hubby had to muffle his chuckle.

Monday, June 10, 2013

8 P.M.

I am quite enjoying my night, I tell you.  It's cool enough outside that I don't have the a/c on, just the ceiling fan and the back door open.  Gentle but steady rain is falling.  I'm watching Criminal Minds.

I'm alone.

I'm an introvert, and solitude is essential.  With school ending tomorrow just before noon, it's going to be a very long time before I can find any kind of solitude outside of the crowded anonymity of the grocery store.

So I was cherishing it.

Small Fry's fever broke, and she's been slightly subdued, but not lethargic like she was yesterday.  She didn't go to school today, but she did go to VBS tonight.

And that's when the phone rang, just as a new episode of CM was starting.

It's Hubby.  "Where are you?"

"In the den, watching Criminal Minds."

"Oh, good.  I'm bringing home a sick kid."


"Which one?"

"Large Fry."

"What happened?"

"She's been lethargic.  And they said she threw up a couple times."

Double crap.

I love my kids, but I hate vomit, and being around anyone engaged in that particular activity tends to trigger my own overly-sensitive gag reflex.

And poor Large Fry...she inherited a queasy gizzard, and is the one who will throw up, er, ad nauseum, even when the other two don't, and they all have the same bug.  Her gyro is also pretty sensitive, so she's really sensitive to motion as well.  (Why, yes, we keep Dramamine or Bonine in the van at all times.)

Large kinda moped into the house, and I sent her upstairs to change into her jammies.  When she bent over the toilet, I realized this wasn't going to be done any time soon.  Change of plans.  Back to the den, rather than sending her to bed, so I'm not going up two floors and back down every time the icks attack.

So far, Medium says she feels fine.

I hope.

Either way, let's get it out of the way before the end of the week, when we leave on vacation.

I'm also hoping that Large's tummy has settled.  She woke up out of a sound sleep twice because her stomach heaved.

My poor girl.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Oh, of course.

The alarm rang at an ugly hour this morning.

It always does on Sundays.

When you only have one vehicle and your husband is the youth/worship pastor and has to be at church before 8a, everybody goes for both services.  Even if the church is only a mile away.  And especially when you are now completely gimped-out on your right side and can barely brush your own hair, let alone your kids'.


I didn't sleep well last night, so the alarm's announcement of a new day made me slap the snooze button several times.  Even then, I didn't want to get up.  I felt like someone had smacked me in the head with a heavy mallet, and my wrist ached.  However...must soldier on.  I'm not sick.  I can suck it up.  I'm a big girl.

Hubby went down the hall to wake the Fries while I did my morning constitutional and put in my contacts.

When he came back into our room, he said, "Small Fry seems really warm.  She gave me a hug when I woke her up, and her skin was hot.  Do we have a thermometer up here?"

Of course not.  That would make sense.  I went downstairs for the thermometer.

Small Fry was indeed toasty.  Too toasty.  The thermometer beeped at 99.5, which I knew was at least a degree off.  Our temporal thermometer has to hit just the right spot, so it's a trifle finicky, but it beats trying to make my kids hold a digital one under their tongues for a minute.  Small rolled over, and I checked the other side of her forehead.  100.5...allrightythen.  We're not going to church.  I wanted to sleep more, but not because for this reason!

There's two days of school left.

Vacation Bible School is this week.

We leave for vacation later this week.

Of course she's sick.

Hubby, Large, and Medium went to church.  Small and I went back to sleep, finally coming downstairs about 11.  Her fever was way down, thanks to the ibuprofen I'd given her when I took her temp, but she was obviously not feeling well.  She just collapsed on the couch.

When Hubby got home from church with lunch, she didn't eat much.  She drank her juice and that was it.

I still felt awful, and my head still hurt, so I went up to take a nap.  I didn't realize that Small had also gone upstairs to bed until Hubby woke me around 4:30 to say that he and the two older Fries were leaving early for Vacation Bible School.  She was still asleep, in fact.

My poor baby.

She came in to the bedroom with me, and proceeded to doze off and on for about an hour before we went back downstairs.

Her fever was up again, so more ibuprofen.  And we watched SeaWorld Shamu videos.  And Brave.  In fact, we didn't get all the way through that one.  Almost right at 8p, she asked me to stop the movie, turn off the overhead fan, cover her with a blanket, turn off the light, and turn the TV to the light classical music channel.

I really hope she feels better in the morning.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

An Actual Conversation

Last year, I made a summer-wear decision: one-piece bathing suits are no longer as easily wrestled with, and are enough to drive you crazy in too-small public bathroom stalls.  Further, they may well be tools of de Debbil, and as such should now be avoided.  At least, for beach- and vacation-wear.

Enter the tankini.

And earlier this week, in anticipation of our upcoming vacation, I ordered another top to go with the pieces I'd picked up last fall (two bottoms and a top).  That package arrived today.

Now, I told you that, so I could tell you this.*

Hubby [taps box]: What's that?

Me: Bathing suit top.

Hubby: You're going to wear a bikini?

Me [opening package]: No.

Hubby: Then what?

Me: A tankini.

Hubby: Really?

Me: I got tired of messing with one-piece suits.

I pulled out the suit top to show him...and Large Fry, who was snuggling next to him on the couch.

Large Fry [as I'm heading out the door]: Mommy, are you going to change down here?

Me: No, I'm going to go upstairs to my room.

Large: Good. No one wants to see your nipples.

[And that was the last thing I heard, until about ten minutes ago.]

Hubby [obviously not thinking]: Well, I do.

Large: Why do you want to see her nipples?

Hubby [mentally scrambling]: Well, men are strange that way.

Large: Why? Mommy's are big.

Hubby: Yes, I know. [pause] But do me a favor; let's not talk about nipples with other people.  It's okay to talk about nipples with Mommy and Daddy...but not other people.

Large [lifts shirt]: Wanna see my nipples?

Hubby: No, I don't wanna see yours.

Large: Mine aren't grown up yet.  Someday they'll be grown up.

Hubby [probably barely controlling his laughter]:'re right.

*Oh, hey, Dad?  This one probably should've had the hernia mesh warning and the TMI warning.  Sorry.

Medium's Milestone

Medium is the first of my girls to master this particular skill.

I am so proud.


Last night was emotionally rough.

Ke thinks snowpants are snuggly.
Next week is both my friend Mille's birthday and also the anniversary of when we lost Keiki.  The same day, in fact.  And I came across this article about 8 reasons why your cat licks you, which reminded me of Ke, who sometimes couldn't hold her licker...usually when she couldn't wake Hubby for him to give her love.  She had the raspiest little tongue.  And, of all things, she'd usually lick my eyebrows.  Crazy cat.


So I popped over to this article, which didn't tell me much more than I already knew, but it was cute.  And I saw cute links to other articles.  They were cute.

And my heart ached from missing Po.  It's not that I don't miss Keiki, because I do.  I miss hearing her talk to herself at night.  I miss hearing her stomp on any floor that's not carpeted.  I miss hearing her little kitten-feet runrunrunrunrunrunrunrun around the house.  I miss her crazy love of ice cream.

But Ke was Hubby's kitty.  Po was mine.  And she was my first cat.  She was the Queen, the gentle giantess, the one who first grimly tolerated and then eventually loved my children.  She let them dress her up, swaddle her in blankets, cover her in beads, shove tiaras on her head, endured effusive hugs from small people, and even let Medium SIT on her without a complaint.  Ever, with the exception of some mild growling.

She wasn't an overly affectionate booger like The Weasel.  When she wanted attention, she would come demand it.  When she was done, she got up and left.  She picked up a certain dignity like a cloak around the time she turned a year old, and kept it until the day she died...even when her dignity was covered in blankets and beads and towels and duckies and tiaras.  Sweetness in other people was a sign of weakness, and so she didn't put up with that nonsense.  She could dish it out as good as she could take it, and if you were nice to her for no apparent reason, she was instantly suspicious and would walk all over you (figuratively and literally).
Yep, Po took up a whole chair.

She was one of a kind.

And even though it's been over a year since we lost her, the Popoki-sized hole in my heart and my home remains.  By the time I was done and told myself to close the browser window before I scared the kids, my grief had surged like a tidal wave.

I went upstairs to use the master bath so I could close doors and have a good cry.  I ended up crashing on my bed, more tears coming when I thought I didn't have any more.

Mika came and curled up next to me, purring quietly.  He snuggled into the curve of my arm.  And he stayed for a good twenty minutes.

It was another ten minutes beyond that, beyond Small Fry coming up and saying Daddy was wondering where I went, before I felt like I could come downstairs.

When I finally succumbed to the exhaustion of my day and my grief purge, I went up to bed.

Large Fry woke up while I was still in the bathroom and stumbled down the hall.

"Mommy?  I want my cast," she mumbled.

"Your what?"  Nobody wants a cast.  I'd just gotten mine off that morning.  Those things are tools of de Debbil.  (I had a love/hate relationship with mine.)

"My cat.  My Popoki cat.  That you got for me off the computer."

Ahhhhh. "I think it's down in the living room.  I'll help you look."

By the time I was able to go help her, she'd already found her kitty and was going back to bed.  I smiled at her as she closed her bedroom door.  And I thought how interesting it was that she had been thinking about Po and wanted her stuffed kitty that she'd named after our real one.

Twenty minutes later, I'm back in the bathroom and Large's door opens.


"What's the matter, honey?  Why are you still up?"

"Can you tuck me in?"

I followed her into her room.  She already had her radio on, and there wasn't much else I saw that I could do.  "What do you need?"

"A hug and a kiss."

That's something I can always do.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Baccalaureate: n. stuffy religious service to honor graduates, rarely fun, too serious, and has boring homily.

Not here, baby!

After having to solo-run last year's Baccalaureate with the high school seniors, Hubby decided he wasn't going to get tossed under that bus again this he contacted the other three youth pastors in town (the ones who are actually employed as such, rather than volunteers), pitched the idea that they should plan this shindig together, which the guys loved, and they took off running.

The result? A Baccalaureate that the students seemed to really enjoy.

At least four youth groups came to support their seniors and their youth pastors.  Local businesses got involved and donated giveaways of stuff.  A local Christian rock band (fronted by one of the youth pastors, no less) agreed to play the worship set.

And Hubby and my cousin DP got to be silly.

It's truly a life skill.

How it all started last night:

You should have heard the cheers.


Oh, I'm not ruining it for you.  Watch.

Ladies and gents, Next2Nothing:

Why yes, we can make worship ROCK.

Serious?  Us?

Finally, what I think was the key clip of B's hilarious message:

I believe the guys have succeeded.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Question of the Night

We're in the van, running two quick errands between dropping Hubby off at the high school and going right back for Baccalaureate.  We're between Rite Aid and home, where I have to get the camera so I can take pictures and video.  And that's when this happens.

Medium Fry: When's God's birthday?



Couldn't wait until DADDY was around.  The one whose job is all about knowing about God.

Me: Um...God doesn't really have a birthday.  He's just always been around.

Best I could do on short notice, really...

Paternal Pride

So.  We're sitting in McDonald's tonight...

Let's just stop right there.

We are in McDonald's.  Runner-up ruler of the Fast Food World.

Yes, we are terrible parents who feed our kids that stuff.  It didn't kill us.


Tonight, we let loose the reins a bit and let the kids have soda.  Now, before you freak about caffeine and children and Mexican jumping beans and stuff, the Fries had their choice of Sprite, Orange Hi-C, or a Sprite-C cocktail.  (Medium tried to get away with Sprite and Barq's root beer, but that didn't fly.)

We're sitting at a trapezoid table, Hubby, Medium and Large on the one side, and Small and I on the other.

We're in something of a hurry.

Tonight is Baccalaureate at the high school, and seeing as Hubby is one of four youth pastors in our little town (we have more churches than bars), and seeing as it was his idea (after being snowballed into planning it alone last year) for all four of them to work together, and seeing as he was helping my cousin DP (youth pastor at the Nazarene church in town) emcee, he kinda had to be at the high school early.

Fast food + carbonated soft drinks + eating quickly = Hubby has a "secret" to tell one of the kids.

He motions Medium over.  "I've got something to tell you."

Medium kneels on the bench, and Hubby holds up his right hand, like he's hiding what he's about to say...and then he belches right into Medium's face.

"I'm gonna gitchoo back!" she vows.

Not five minutes later, she's on her feet, leaning into Hubby's face, and belching right on cue.

Unwilling to be outdone by her twin, Small jumps up from her seat next to me, runs to Hubby's other side, and lets out an incredibly fake burp...and giggles.

Medium has retreated now, and Hubby has caught the giggles.

He looks over at me and pretends to wipe his eyes.

He looks at Medium, and then back at me.

He sniffs.

He holds one hand dramatically to his chest.

"It''s just such a moment of parental pride!"

Hidden Benefits

**PSA: Squeamish Warning, Level 3; Hernia Mesh Warning, Level 5**  (Yes, Dad, I'm looking at you.)

While there are certainly quite a few things I do not like as a result of my hysterectomy back in January—I'll refrain from giving you a list—there have been hidden benefits.

No more money spent on "feminine needs."

No more figuring out how to explain to the Fries why "Mommy has blood" (so charming when that got announced to the person in the hall at church one Sunday; thank you, Small Fry).

No more cramps.  No more hunting futilely for ThermaCare's menstrual heat wraps.  No more utter exhaustion from long cycles.

Of course, I traded all of those things for the insanity that is surgical menopause.  I'm not entirely sure I came out 100% on the winning end there, if one discounts the whole cancer-prevention thing.

However, I do miss the creative ways of telling my children what certain supplies were.  Granted, I have girls, so it's not like I wouldn't have to educate them anyway.

But of all the euphemisms for tampons that I've ever seen, I've never heard them called THIS before.

I giggled uncontrollably, and then sent the link to my best friend, who has three boys (lucky her).

And I couldn't help but be reminded of this video, as well!

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Medium Fry: Oh, yes, I am the amazing and powerful Messiah!

I'm waiting for lightning to strike...