Friday, December 4, 2015
With my folks so close, and Hubby's previous job obligations requiring us to stay home over Christmas, we have always alternated years regarding where we spend Thanksgiving. We were at his family's last year, as well, so that we could be back on a schedule of being with my family when more relatives attend the annual Thanksgiving brouhaha.
Now, since we live in rural PA, Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal. Well, not so much Thanksgiving itself, but deer season. So, our Thanksgiving break runs nearly a full week.
The kids were all excited about going to see Gramma Bevvie and the assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Middle informed me on Monday morning last week that Oldest had imperiously informed them that they had a two-hour delay for school on Wednesday, which she knows because she's Oldest, of course.
"No," I corrected. "You do not have a two-hour delay on Wednesday."
"But Oldest said we do."
"Oldest is wrong. It's silly to have a two-hour delay the day before Thanksgiving."
And I thought the matter was settled.
That afternoon, an email pinged in from the school district, and I immediately understood the confusion. This Wednesday, the schools dismiss two hours early because of the holiday break. Then, school is closed through Tuesday of the next week (deer season, people), and on next Wednesday, there is indeed a two-hour delay because of Act 80 teacher inservice training.
"We have a two-hour delay on Wednesday."
"No. You have a two-hour early dismissal on Wednesday."
"We have a two-hour delay tomorrow."
"No. You have a two-hour early dismissal tomorrow."
"We have a two-hour delay tomorrow!"
"No! You have a two-hour early dismissal tomorrow!"
"Do we need to set our alarms? We have a two-hour delay tomorrow."
It was a migraine salute moment. I performed said maneuver, pinching the bridge of my nose and closing my eyes. "NO. You have a two. Hour. Early. Dismissal. Tomorrow."
"Don't we have a two-hour delay this morning?"
It's a wonder I didn't screech in reply.
Lather, rinse, foam at the mouth, repeat.
Thanksgiving went well enough. We had a good time with my in-laws; the turkey was delicious, and lots of food was consumed. Middle and Youngest turned nine and were showered with presents. We made it a true family vacation after my mother-in-law took us out for Chinese on Saturday night, and Special Edition had an allergic reaction to (apparently) some crab legs she ate. There's a history of shellfish allergies in her family, so that's likely what she reacted to, but all the same, she had a bad reaction to something, which necessitated an ER visit that night, and another on our way home on Monday. Good times. (She's still itchy, poor thing.)
Tuesday morning rolled around, and...
"We have a two-hour early dismissal tomorrow."
Give me strength.
"No. You have a two-hour delay tomorrow."
Did it end there? Oh, heck, no. Hubby had to take Special Edition back to the ER Tuesday night because her hives had returned and nothing was easing them, so I tucked the kids into bed. That's when I noticed that Oldest's alarm was set.
"Why is your alarm set?"
"Your alarm. Why is it set? You have a two-hour delay tomorrow." I don't know about you, but I have no desire to be awakened by my pop-tart child at 6:45 a.m. when I don't have to be. When I know there's a two-hour delay, nobody sets their alarms.
"Oh! Right!" She jumped up to turn it off.
Next up, twins. Same thing. They had their alarm on too. I turned it off and our conversation repeated verbatim.
I know we had the same conversations more times than I've detailed here. I couldn't tell you how many times, though. I honestly lost count.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Hubby apparently paused for a moment, recalling the episode of the "s-word". Perhaps this was another such event...
"Do you even know what a 'sack' is?"
"Yes! Boy parts!"
I think Hubby had to swallow his shock. "Okay." Hubby pointed at Middle. "The only time you're ever allowed to punch a boy in the sack is if he's touching you and making you uncomfortable by touching you, and he will not stop. Do you understand?"
If any of our girls were ever to punch a guy like that, I'm pretty sure it would be Middle.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
It never fails. If I am busy or otherwise occupied, my name gets bellowed.
"I'm down here!"
Middle pounds down the steps to the basement level of our house, but stays out of my sight. "You want to see something funny?"
"Okay, get ready to really laugh! This is really funny!"
I chuckled quietly. "I'm ready."
Middle popped around the corner and into view. "Look! I'm a mommy, too!"
|"Just like you!"|
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
This is Special Edition, and she is just that: special. She hails from far away, and came to us because of some pretty intolerable circumstances after she and Hubby met online during one of Hubby's roving, insomnia-driven youth-pastor-in-chat-room moments over a year and a half ago. (Long story.)
|Isn't she cute?|
Our other new family member is of the four-legged variety. Yes, because we're nuts. But there's something about the sudden loss of a loved one, like Dad, that makes you crave the presence of young life. And, honestly, I needed something.
Enter the Little Dude.
|Five weeks old and oh so tiny.|
|Special Edition and Makaha, fiercely cute.|
The reactions of the other felines were predictable: Koa didn't like him (still doesn't), Minou is sort of afraid of him (what else), Mika was tolerant (even when Makaha tried to nurse on him). Kimo was quite put out for the first 36 hours, having to give up the coveted place as the baby feline in the house. That lasted until Kimo discovered she could play with Makaha, and I had to watch the two of them carefully at the beginning, because Kimo was SO much bigger and hadn't clued in to the fact that Makaha was still a baby. Now that Makaha doesn't look like a fat fuzzy ball of buff-orange fluff, trying to bend his chubby belly in half to arch his back and puff out his fur to look bigger, and can tolerate horsing around, I don't worry so much. Makaha has already shown his name suits him!
Middle walks in. "Mommy?"
Oh dear. I know that tone. "Yes?"
"I think I have a shell—you know, one of those really little ones?—stuck in my ear." Middle shook her head, looking for all the world like she was trying to knock water out of her ear.
Or a tiny shell.
Hubby's sister and brother-in-law had given the girls some necklaces made with teeny tiny shells several years ago. At least one of them had broken, so occasionally we find itty bitty shells kicking around the house.
"You stuck a shell in your ear," I said carefully.
"I don't know. I think so. I had it on my finger, and had to scratch my ear—"
Migraine salute, you're on deck. This one's gonna be a doozy.
"You didn't take it off first?" I guessed.
"I thought I did, but then I scratched my ear, and now it feels like there's something in there."
"Oookay." I heaved myself up off the couch. "Let's go check."
Several years ago, I found a "Doctor Mom" otoscope at Walmart and decided it was well worth the $25 or so I spent for it. With kids prone to ear infections, it seemed wise to have something that could help me rule out ear infections before having to go to the urgent care. It's turned into a very useful purchase.
So I strode into the kitchen and pulled out my otoscope. I clicked on the light, flipped the scope, and went to peer into her ear...
I didn't really need the scope.
That tiny shell was stuck right there, fairly obviously, and thankfully not so far in that this would require an ER trip.
I fetched a box of toothpicks from the pantry and fished one out. Maybe...just maybe...I could pop that thing out without requiring medical intervention. (I hadn't been so lucky with the popcorn kernel, but had been with the silly band.)
"Okay, hold still."
"A toothpick?" Middle said skeptically.
"Yes, I'm going to try to get the shell out without having to take you to the doctor." I carefully angled the toothpick between her ear and the shell.
"Sorry." I angled Middle's head and held it firmly, preparing for my next attempt.
The shell had pushed a little further into the ear, but I tamped down the panic. I could actually see a good spot to wedge the toothpick between shell and ear...and hopefully...
"Got it!" I announced as the tiny seed shell popped out of Middle's ear canal and stopped in her earlobe. From there, I was able to flick it into my hand.
"Please don't stick any more shells in your ears, okay?"
Middle nodded and picked up the shell.
I went back to the den, FRIENDS, and work, shaking my head.
You know, I thought we were past this stage of sticking foreign objects into body orifices.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
It's not the first time I've been asked to do so. I'm sure it won't be the last.
However, two things struck me as odd when Middle came in and asked me that a few minutes ago.
One, this is the duck that was missing last night and had her in tears as a result.
Two, it's 15 minutes until bedtime.
"Um, isn't he going to sleep with you? I mean, of course I'll babysit him, but..."
Middle, already trusting that my answer would be yes, was now at the bedroom door. "Yes, he's going to sleep with me. But he wanted to spend some time with you."
That was all I could come up with, but I guess my dopey smile made up for that, because Middle smiled sweetly in return and walked away.
And Duckie and I are cuddling.
I'll take it.
I've been trusted with the most important thing in Middle's life.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
**Note: This was my personal tribute, which was read at Dad's memorial service on Monday this week.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
|Best. Dad. Ever.|
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Despite my last-minute invite and my mom still recovering from foot surgery, she was able to come. (Dad and Hubby went to brunch together and then out to whack some golf balls.)
The ladies in charge of today's event did a great job, and Middle was surprised to see men there, because Daddy had told her that men weren't allowed, and that's why he and Poppa weren't going.
I explained that the men in question had done all of the cooking for us ladies. "Men cook?" Middle asked, agog.
That's really hilarious, especially when you consider the fact that Hubby cooks just as many meals as I do here. It's not like they don't see him cook.
Three different door prizes had been donated by ladies affiliated with the church who also run their own direct-sales businesses. Everybody got three tickets to put in the drawings, and you could choose which drawings you wanted to enter.
I was busily scrawling names on our tickets for myself and the girls, and one of my favorite first-service ladies came up and gave me a hug, saying, "Happy first Mother's Day Brunch, Mom!" (I did an inner cartwheel.)
At the same time, Youngest was very perplexed on the other side of the table as she watched my mom write her name.
"No," she said to my mom, "you have to write Daddy's Last Name."
"But this is my last name," Mom said.
"We got adopted, though!"
"Yes, you got adopted. But I didn't. So my name is still the same."
I don't think Youngest was very convinced, from what Mom said later.
It was awful cute, though, that she thought Gramma and Poppa should now also have Daddy's Last Name.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Then I was awakened by a call from Hubby.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Everything is the same, and yet...everything is different.
We tried to take Thursday as easily as possible, but we still ended up rushing around right before we left. My husband was sure my parents weren't going to leave their house on time, and in an effort to assure me that they really were on their way and getting closer—while I was frantically trying to finish Small's special hairdo, still not dressed myself, with Hubby hollering about his missing white dress shirt, and holding a hot curling iron—Dad sent repeated texts with local landmarks they were passing.
JJ had been sending me hourly countdown texts all morning, which was great fun, but since I was holding a hot curling iron near a small-ish child, I couldn't just look at my phone, so I wasn't sure if it was her again (her last one said, "90 minutes! I think we can safely count by minutes now") or if it was Dad. When my phone bleated with what seemed like the twentieth text in as many seconds, I shouted, "Stop texting me!"
Had no idea who I was yelling at, really.
Turned out it was my dad. (He was amused when I told him.)
We were supposed to meet Ms. Sciuto on the second floor of the courthouse at 1:45. Dad and Hubby dropped off all of us outside the courthouse before parking the cars, in deference to my mother's tenuous and still-recovering health, my bad ankle, and my mother-in-law's fused ankle. We herded the kids inside the building and then tried to explain why they had to go through a metal detector. Ms. Sciuto had arrived ahead of us, and warned the deputies that we would be coming through with cameras, so we had no problems there once they went through the x-ray.
Dad and Hubby soon joined us on the second floor. The previous hearing in Courtroom 4 had concluded, and so we were able to get in and show the Fries what the courtroom looked like. Ms. Sciuto indicated the judge's bench and the witness stand and got enough chairs for all five of us to sit by her. Proud grandparents along with Jester and Mitzy got relegated to the gallery.
The bailiff announced the judge's entrance, and we all stood. Before she sat, she chose to administer the oath for those of us giving testimony, and asked us to raise our right hands. Hubby and I both knew we would be testifying, and that the judge might ask the kids some questions, but it was comical when all three of them raised their hands, too. (Large got it right, but the twins mirrored the judge's stance, and so we had to get them to raise the correct hands.) We all said, "I do," when prompted by the judge after she finished the oath to tell the truth.
Ms. Sciuto called me to the stand first, since Hubby had had such trouble with dates in our hearing last year. I was asked first to provide my name, address, age, and date of birth, then my husband's name, date of birth, and the date of our marriage. He's usually the one who has issues remembering dates, especially our wedding, but I blanked for about ten seconds on our anniversary. There was a chuckle as it was obvious that I'd had a momentary brain-blank...but, let me tell you, that showed the tone of the whole proceeding.
Ms. Sciuto walked me through her questions. I described our home and our neighborhood. Yes, the statements and facts in the petition were true and correct, to the best of my knowledge. Yes, I did file three petitions to adopt the three children present. Yes, I felt I had developed a parent/child bond with Large. And Medium. And Small. (I managed to hold it together through that without losing it. Barely.) Yes, I understood that the granting of the adoption petition would make these children as though they were my natural children, that they were entitled to inherit as any natural child, that I would be responsible for them in all ways (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially) until at least the age of 18 or possibly beyond. Yes, the disclosure of fees was correct (OUCH, but correct). Yes, these are the decrees, the correct current names, and the correct (and correctly spelled) proposed new names. Yes, we did discuss these with the children. Then Ms. Sciuto announced that she had no more questions.
Judge K turned to me. "How did you come up with these names? I am just really curious."
Yeah, wasn't quite expecting that one.
"Small and I share the same first name, and as Hubby and I were discussing the new names, we realized that having two of us in the same house with essentially the same name, the only difference being the middle name, was going to be a bad idea. We'd seen records get confused before, both with my late father-in-law and my husband's brother, and with other friends. We didn't want that," I said. "So we opted to make Small's first name her middle name, so that she could still be called that, but change her first name. The one we chose was in honor of my dad, since it's the feminine form of his name."
|Watching and waiting while I testify.|
"Large was a different story. At first, we were just going to drop the hyphenated part of her middle name. Then Hubby wanted to change her middle name to the feminine form of his dad's name, to honor him, which we liked, and so did Large...for a couple of months. Then she came to us and proposed a different name, because she said her friends didn't like the new one we had talked about. We thought it would be a passing phase, but she continued to talk about it. For a year. We discussed it several times, and the last time, she was able to tell us that she wanted a name that held good memories for her." It was hard to explain how we'd extrapolated from Large's explanation—that she associated her birth first name with "houses" and it gave her bad memories, and the new first name she wanted was associated with "good houses" and people she loved—that she was clearly trying to separate herself from the name given to her by the parents who had walked away from her, and take a name that was hers, one tied to the people she loves. And with all of the Fries there in court, I certainly didn't want to say that out loud. Judge K is a smart lady, and with the way I spoke, I was sure she could put two and two together.
"So, after that conversation, we agreed to the change that Large wanted," I finished.
Ms. Sciuto called Hubby to the stand. He went through the same litany of questions that I did, although Ms. Sciuto skipped the descriptive questions I had and simply asked if he substantially agreed to my testimony. When asked if he understood that he would be responsible for raising and disciplining and loving these children, Hubby smiled. "Yep, just keep doing what we're doing." More chuckles from the gallery (peanut and otherwise).
Ms. Sciuto addressed Judge K, and introduced all three girls. Judge K noted which girl was wearing what color, complimenting each of the girls' dresses as she did so. Then Ms. Sciuto said, "Your Honor, the girls have all said they would like to try sitting in the witness box."
Judge K nodded, and Ms. Sciuto called Large Fry up. "Who are these two people next to me?"
|Large talks with Judge K.|
"Do you know why we're here today?"
"Yes, 'cause it's adoption day."
"Is this what you want, for them to be your real mom and dad?"
Ms. Sciuto smiled encouragingly, and said she had no more questions.
Judge K scooted her chair down closer to the witness stand so she could more easily talk to Large. I wasn't sure what kinds of questions she would ask, but Judge K didn't disappoint. Her questions were very well oriented to the age of her young witnesses.
"Do you know what 'adoption' means?" Judge K asked first.
Large shook her head, and the court reporter turned so she could see and read body language and lips to get answers.
Judge K took some time to explain what adoption meant, avoiding the legalese and saying it meant that our family was going to be official now. Then she asked what grade Large was in, and what her favorite subject was.
And what kind of rules we have.
Large was intimidated enough by the events that she couldn't think of any, but nodded when the judge offered suggestions like keeping her room clean and doing her homework. Oh, I thought, I hope she doesn't ask Small Fry that, because Small has had one of those weeks where she's been on the wrong end of the rules quite a bit.
Judge K then asked if Large wanted us to be her real mom and dad. There was no hesitation. "Yes!"
|Medium in the box.|
"What's your favorite thing to do with your mom?"
"I just like to be with her."
"What's your favorite thing to do with your dad?"
"I like to be next to him. And another word for it is snuggle."
That brought grins and chuckles from more than a few of us, because, well, Hubby and I knew that's the word she'd use, and it was so quintessentially Medium that we couldn't help but laugh.
"And do you want them to be your real, official mom and dad?"
Small climbed up into the witness box next, and the bailiff helped her get close and adjusted the microphone, just as he had for her sisters. Ms. Sciuto repeated the same questions again for Small before nodding to the judge.
Judge K's questions for Small followed in the same vein as those she'd asked Large and Medium, ending with, "Do you want them to be your real mom and dad?"
Small's grin lit up her face as she nodded, and then said, "Yes!"
Small skipped back to her seat as the judge moved her chair back to the center of the bench.
Judge K shuffled papers across the desk, sorting out the ones she needed. "I have absolutely no doubt," she said, looking directly at Hubby and me, "that you will continue to care for these children and provide for all of their needs, emotionally, physically, and—" here her voice caught—"spiritually. This has been a long road for all of you, and now the end is in sight. I have no worries about the future of these children; they are in excellent hands. I have been through this journey with you, and I am convinced that these girls could not be loved more than they already are. Therefore, it is my great pleasure to sign these decrees and make you an official family, confirming what you've been for so long already." She looked over at the kids and smiled. "Judges don't often get to do fun things. Judges have to do sad things and hard things and scary things a lot of the time. This is the best sort of thing that I get to do." Judge K looked over at Ms. Sciuto. "So, I will sign these, just as you've prepared them, Ms. Sciuto."
|Making it official.|
She slid that sheet over, and picked up Medium's. "Oh, Ms. Sciuto. There's an error on here. Um, see me afterward and we'll get this sorted out." She signed the decree anyway, and spoke to Medium. "I've signed this decree, and it says your name will now be Middle. And no one will ever say your middle name the wrong way again."
Then she took Small's decree and signed it before turning to Small. "I've signed this decree, and your name will now be Youngest."
|Judge K, Middle, and Flat Stanley|
Judge K's smile beamed through the room. "It gives me such delight to declare you an official family. Happy Adoption Day!"
There was lots of blinking back tears.
|Judge K, Youngest, and Flat Stanley|
Judge K laughed. "Flat Stanley has been all over Courtroom 1."
The judge was kind enough to pose for a whole mess of pictures, although she confessed to getting flustered over where to look. She posed with each twin and their respective Flat Stanleys, then with all three girls, and then with all five of us.
|Judge K loved Mom's book.|
We moved out of the courtroom amid hugs from everyone, including Jester and Mitzy. "You held it together so well up there!" Mitzy exclaimed.
Jester concurred. "I wasn't sure you were going to make it," he teased.
"Yeah, well, I wasn't sure I was going to make it, either."
We got some pictures with Ms. Sciuto, and then decided that, since the majority of us adults had skipped lunch (I don't know that you could count my Little Debbie Nutty Bars as lunch), we would go out for an early celebratory dinner. Since this hearing qualified as a religious experience, really, we decided that TGI Friday's was the best choice.
|Jester, Mitzy, & girls.|
"Besides, I have to get my keys back from the guards downstairs," Dad said.
"What?" I asked.
"They wouldn't let me take my keys up because of the pocketknife on my keychain."
I chuckled. "Those things are lethal, you know."
However, when we got to Friday's and I couldn't get the cross-hatches on Oldest's slushie lid to open up for her straw, Dad volunteered the services of his knife.
"See?" he said. "I told you it could come in handy."
Then he showed me this picture he'd taken on the way into the restaurant.
"Forever Family. It's everywhere!"
Thursday, April 9, 2015
The hearing went great, and the adoption was happily signed off on by the judge.
Here we are, with my mother-in-law, in TGI Friday's, celebrating after court:
|First family selfie!|
We're officially a family!
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
We're not counting days anymore, people. We're counting hours.
|Hand-picked animal charm necklaces.|
I had very strange dreams involving Billy Ray Cyrus, a decidedly not-Miley Cyrus daughter, a Disney-fied version of the adoption hearing (complete with lines), and a 13-year-old or so Spencer Breslin as my makeup artist because, I was told, the hearing (despite it being closed) was going to be filmed and televised and I needed stage makeup as a result.
We bought new dresses for the girls, just for the occasion.
We bought them new necklaces.
We bought them really nice new necklaces.
|Living Locket necklaces.|
Jester and Mitzy took tomorrow off work as soon as I found out it was the date of the hearing, just to make sure they could be there.
And last night, my mother-in-law showed up unannounced, so that she could be here for the hearing, too. We were delighted that she decided to come. (I genuinely love having her come to visit, so I don't care that I didn't know she was coming.)
And in less than a day, we will be a legally-acknowledged family, for real. We've been a real family all along. This is, really, merely a formality to what we've been for nearly seven years now.
My heart is so full that I don't know what to do with myself.
And we stayed several hours. Long enough for me to barely hold my personal title of "Amazing Wii Archer" for three rounds, and finally losing to my dad (I'm practicing, Dad).
Finally we rounded up the Fries and headed for home.
Since we retired the minivan for a Nissan Altima, the kids don't have quite the backseat view that they did before. Large Fry sits in the middle, with a twin on either side. Medium, who was behind me, was leaning over and apparently squishing Large, to Large's great consternation, and so there was a discussion about why Medium was encroaching on Large's personal space.
Medium explained that she can't see the dash and wanted to see what time it was.
She didn't enunciate "can't" well enough for her older sister...
In the front, I smothered a chuckle.
Despite not giving birth to this child, and only having a smattering of shared genetics, she did exactly what I would have done.
I am in SO much trouble.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
|Wee ones in the window.|
I took this on June 2, 2008, four days into The Parenthood Experiment.
I had no idea on that day that they would still be here with us, seven years later.
Nor that, a week from now, this moment, their adoption will be official and we will be an official, legal family.
You'll note I didn't say we'd finally be a real family...but that's because we've been that for nearly seven years as it is. But now, when I say these precious Fries are my daughters, I'm not talking in theoreticals. I'll be talking in realities.
They'll be issued new birth certificates, with me (who's never even been pregnant) listed as their mother, Hubby as their father.
That just gets me every time. (It also entertains me to no end, but we all know I'm really weird.)
We're in the process of planning our big bash to celebrate, and I'm sorting through my rather extensive pictures over the last seven years. How in the world will I ever narrow down my choices? I have too many great ones!
|Princess jammies! (August-ish, 2008)|
|Visiting Daddy's family for the first time, Sept. 2008|
|And we put the angel on top of the tree... (11/08)|
|Basket buddies, December 2008.|
|Enthroned Fries, Ice Fest 2009 (Feb).|
|Yes, that sucker is hand carved.|
|Park playtime, spring 2009.|
|Tire swings are fun! (Hubby took this one; spring 2009.)|
|Our first Easter together: 2009. I loved those dresses!|
|Spring fun at Gramma's, May 2009.|
|Straw horse at the farm where we got pumpkins in 2009!|
|First soft-serve ice cream! (November 2009, I think.)|
|Sledding for the first time! (January/February 2010)|
|Easter 2010, in Gramma & Boppa's backyard.|
|Four princesses! Downtown Disney, Orlando, FL (5/10)|
|"We love the Buckeyes!" (Fall 2010.)|
|Easter 2011: blowing kisses!|
|Easter 2012: first one at our new house!|
|Christmas 2012: all tied up!|
|Four princesses, round two: July 2014.|
|Christmas morning with Kimo, 2014!|
How am I supposed to choose?
I suppose this is a good problem to have, after all...