Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Conversations. Redux. Or something like that.

Small Fry: Dewre's a monster in dewre! (pointing to toy room)

Me: Oh yeah?

Small Fry: Dewre's a monster in dewre! Yew gotta come wif me!

Me: What's the monster's name? (suspecting it might be her twin, actually)

Small Fry: [pause] Fwree! (holding up three fingers)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Popoki Deserves a Gold Medal

One of the things I was immensely grateful for, when the girls first came to live with us, was that I had no worries about my cats physically hurting any of the children.

Po had sat stoically on the windowsill in our apartment while a three-year-old boy happily yanked her tail, and the most she did was twitch said tail, put her ears way back, and growl menacingly. Darn it, this was HER house, and no three-year-old upstart was going to try to take over, no matter how much he grabbed at her tail. And that was the same night that half our known world invaded for the Red, White and Boom party...so, lots of folks, lots of loud, and fireworks on top of all that.

The other cats had the good sense to go hide under the bed. Po was determined to protect her house.

And that's pretty much the way it went. The "hefty" cats--Po, Koa, Keiki and, later, Pa'ani--would face any threat head-on. The wimpies--Mika, Minou and, for awhile, Niele--would go hide under the bed.

Not a single child was ever attacked. Oh, there were more than a few menacing growls and laid-back ears, and the occasional swipe of a paw with sheathed claws. Enough to scare, but never hurt.

It was reassuring to bring the girls into our home and know that they would be safe from the cats.

We spent a week apologizing to the cats before the girls came home with us.

Because, you see, we knew that the girls would be safe around the cats, but we weren't quite sure the cats would be safe from the girls.

For Large Fry and Medium Fry, it was an instant love affair.

For Small Fry, not so much. She was scared of them. And it's a testament to how much she's grown, and the patience and general gentleness of Popoki, resident feline queen, that she now wants to pet Popoki goodnight before naptime and bedtime.

Large Fry will happily tell anyone that Pa'ani is her best friend. Which is not as exciting as it sounds; Pa'ani is everyone's best friend. He's that kind of cat.

Medium Fry and Po
Medium Fry will tell you that Po is her best friend.

I'm not so sure Po feels that's quite the honor that Medium thinks it is.

I went out this afternoon after Hubby got home, to get some more embroidery floss and spend Gramma B's money on the girls for Christmas. When I got home, Hubby told me that Medium Fry had been petting Popoki as she lay on the end of the couch where I usually sit.

Here I must point out that Medium Fry weighs about half a pound less than Large Fry, given that she has a different bone structure than either of her sisters, but is several inches shorter.

In other words, she's a 35-pound-chunk.

Po is old, almost 12. She's diabetic. And she recently lost three pounds, bringing her down to a frail (for her) 14 pounds.

Hubby is paying more attention to other goings-on than what Medium Fry is doing. She'd moved back over to snuggle next to him.

And then she went back to Po.

And SAT on her.

Yes, SAT.

On her back.

And probably sat for several minutes before cheerily announcing, "I'm sitting on the kitty!!"

Hubby looked over.

Sure enough, Medium Fry was perched on Po's back.

Po, with Medium's ducks
And Po was taking it! Her ears weren't even back or anything.

I believe he got Medium Fry off of the cat in a hurry, and issued a suitable command to not sit on the kitty again.

But to be that old (for a cat), and that sick, and to still put up with the more than a little effusive affections of a three-year-old...

That's impressive.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tugging on heartstrings

It's Thursday night. That means Uncle D (normally) has his weekly night out with the guys--he goes to sing with his Christian rock band, Prodigal. And even though it's been one of those days, and the twins have a cold that's making them (and me) miserable, I don't have the heart to tell him that I need him to stay home. He hasn't been in several weeks, due to a couple of cancellations and giving me last Thursday night off.

After grumbling about the fact that he's missing the airing of "Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation," he packs up his stuff to head out.

Medium Fry cheerfully announces, "I don't want a kiss and a hug!"

Hubby says, "Okay," and heads out the door.

And the wailing commences.

"Unca Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  Hubby's one-syllable name gets stretched into at least two.  "I want a kiss and a hug!" This gets wailed at the door. "Please!"

Hubby keeps going towards the van, and Medium Fry relocates to the toy room couch, staring forlornly out the window. "Unca Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!"

She could give Inigo Montoya a run for his money. ("Fezzik! He's getting away from me! Pleeeeeease!")

"Pleeeeease! *sob* Pleeeeeeeeeeease! *sob* Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!"

It's breaking my heart to try to supervise the other two, who are finishing supper, and eat my own meal, while Medium is half-collapsed on the couch, crying and sobbing for Uncle D to pleeeeeeeeeeease come back.

Just as I'm about to abandon the idea of a hot dinner and go get her myself, I hear the front door open and I almost cry in relief. Hubby walks in, shoots me a look that says he's not sure how he's going to explain this one to the guys, and he turns to face Medium Fry and crouches down, holding out his arms.

I can't see the action unfold, but I'm pretty sure Medium ran pell-mell into his arms. Sobs mostly muffled against Hubby's chest are still coming out. He speaks gently to her, and I hear the smack of a kiss as my heart feels like it's about to melt and explode all at the same time.

"Do you want to go sit with Auntie J?" She must have nodded. "Okay." He straightens up and says, "Can you give Auntie J a kiss for me?"

Medium's bunny-tail (it's not quite a ponytail) bobs as she nods.

Hubby heads off to practice.

I'll have to be sure to tell him, though, that murmured cries for Uncle D continued after he left.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Conversations!

Large Fry: It's MY bibbidi bobbidi boo!

Hubby: Medium Fry, give it back to Large Fry.

Medium Fry: I don't wanna gibb it back!


Hubby: (sternly) Too bad!

Medium Fry: (cheerfully) Too bad!
Medium Fry: (indignantly) Auntie J, they're onna bahs!

Hubby: They're on the bus?

Medium Fry: They're onna box!

Hubby: Well, you were on the box, too.


Medium Fry: (cheerfully) Never mind!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Night Out with Uncle D

It's been one of those days for me. It's a holiday payroll week, which means I'm cramming 2.5 days' worth of work into 1.5 days. Which, of course, means the kids are extra needy. And I got an email from my boss at 9:15 this morning, reminding me that it's a short week for payroll. I didn't so much mind the reminder, although I hadn't forgotten. His wondering where I stood on payroll was a little annoying, though.

About lunchtime, as I've barely managed to down a bowl of Cheerios for my own breakfast, I ask Hubby when he'll be home. I explain what's going on with payroll, and he says he'll be home hopefully around the end of naptime, and he'll even take the kids out to dinner so I can keep working.

After the kids wake up and Skype with Mommy (my least favorite part of ANY day), Hubby takes them out for dinner. Small Fry solemnly tells me that I'm not coming. I breathe a small sigh of relief, and continue plowing through payroll stuff.

When they get back, Hubby tells me that Large Fry has started to recognize that big yellow M. He relates the following conversation, which took place at the light at Black Gap Road at the end of the I-81 offramp:

Large Fry: I think we should go there!

Hubby: Where?

Large Fry: I think we should go there! Where the french fries are!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Medium Fry: Duckie is sad.

Hubby: Why is Duckie sad?

Medium Fry: He's sad.

Hubby: Why is Duckie sad?

Medium Fry: Because he bonked his head.

Hubby: He bonked his head like you did?

Medium Fry: I need to hold him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Yesterday afternoon, Hubby came home from work and dropped into the blue armchair. He dozed off and on while I watched tv, did laundry, and the girls napped.

In short order the girls woke up, and when I came downstairs from getting something, Small Fry was in Hubby's lap, snuggled up against him.

"Watch this," he whispered.

He moved his hands.

Small Fry sat up, gave him a look, and laid back down on his chest.

He chuckled and put his arms around her, kissing her on top of her head.

He explained that she'd come downstairs and marched right up to him. His eyes were closed, and she just tapped him. As soon as he opened his eyes, she demanded to get up in his lap.

I chuckled.

A few minutes later, Small Fry was sitting up on Hubby's lap. I was getting ready to go for a walk, and I was strapping on my AirCast for extra support while I walked.  Hubby's hands were clasped together in front of Small Fry .

She shoved one aside. Hubby grinned at her and moved it back when she shoved the other one aside.

Indignant, Small Fry demanded, "Move yew hands!"

"Why?" Hubby asked, moving his hands aside.

Small Fry didn't say a word. She just dropped down against his chest and grinned in triumph as her favorite uncle wrapped his arms around her again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Conversations. Again.

Hubby: Medium Fry, don't hit.

Medium Fry: Smawll Fwy hit me!

Me: Small Fry did not hit you. I was sitting right here.

Medium: You're making me scared!

Me: Why am I making you scared?

Medium: Well, you are!

Guess she told me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Conversations, part Two Zillion

Hubby: Medium Fry, you've got your coat on upside down.

Medium Fry: No, I don't.

Hubby: Yes, you do. Your hat's down by your rear.

Medium: No, I don't!

Hubby: Yes, you do.

Medium: I am not going to kiss you!

Hubby: I didn't ask you to kiss me.

Medium: You're not a nice boy!

Hubby: I am a nice boy. I let you live with me. I take care of you.

Medium didn't really have an argument for that one.

Great. How do I explain THIS one?

The kids have all been sick this week.

With two different bugs: one a cold, the other high fever and early (and short-lived) stomach icks.

Yay me.

Dan has been sick, too. This is the first day he's made it into the office all week.

Did I mention I've been sick too?

All of that aside...

I'm trying to manage three kids, Charity now with the high fever sick and the twins not-so-sick (they just have the cold now and a low-grade fever). Once the ibuprofen gets in Charity, in a few hours she feels "all better." The twins are hard to stop.

I feel like I've been running a marathon all day between catching up on laundry, keeping diapers changed, feeding them, feeding me, feeding cats, giving the old cat her shot on time (I managed that today! I'm so proud of me), doing more laundry with small helpers who are not helping but rather squeezing around me, finally getting around to doing hair, and then lunch.

I had maybe a total of five minutes to myself so far today. All of those were trips to the bathroom. And one was interrupted.

I'm trying to breathe (figuring maybe that fake TV-Lamaze will get me through this without my blood pressure going through the roof) when Faith pops her head through the doorway. (Truly, there is no sense in closing the door.)

"Yes, honey?" I'm feeling somewhat resigned.

"JoyJoy is pushing!"

"Pushing what?"

"JoyJoy is pushing buttons on youwr phone!"

"JoyJoy!" I shout. "Leave my phone alone!"

By the time I have finished up and gotten back out to the living room where I left my phone (silly me), my BlackBerry is blinking at me.

One missed call. One new voicemail.

I recognize the number as that of one of my favorite caregivers--he's always a delight to talk to--whom I'd spoken with much earlier in the day.

I don't know what he wants, but I do know I don't want to deal with it now.

I change diapers. Start laundry. Open a bunch of new CDs that just arrived from Amazon.com that make the kids squeal as they recognize their favorite Veggies all over the covers. Start playing one of the CDs. Keep youngest child from jumping into the washer. Half-kill myself tripping over the hobby horse laying on the floor, not once but twice. (Ankle protests sharply.) Make lunch. Answer the phone. Finally I get thirty seconds when no one is screaming or crying or shouting or demanding juice or talking or whining that "she's touching me!" or anything like that, and I dial my voicemail.

I listen to Daniel's message. In thickly accented English, he tells me that he saw that I just called him, so he was returning my call. I should call him back when I get this.


I check the history on my BlackBerry for his number. Sure enough, two minutes before his last call, there was an outgoing one to his number.

I look at JoyJoy, who was eating lunch. "You called Daniel!"

She gives me a goobery happy grin.

I sigh, and note the voicemail on the BlackBerry's notepad app, as well as my next call...to Daniel, to explain that I really didn't need anything.

Then I call Daniel. When he answers, I explain that I didn't call him. My three-year-old had.

He's really amused.

Then I text Dan to find out when he's coming home. And I tell him what our youngest did.

He also finds it amusing.

I can't wait until it gets back to the office that my three-year-old namesake is trying to take over my job....

Monday, November 9, 2009

What makes a parent?

Is it the fact that you contributed biologically to the creation of a new life?

Is it that you were there when your child(ren) were born?

Is it that you are the one who originally instructed your child(ren) that your appropriate term of address was "Mommy" or "Daddy"?


Is it when you took in three small girls when they needed someone, reprioritizing your life forever?

Is it that you cried yourself on a daily basis for weeks, because your little nieces were scared, you knew it, you were scared too, and you couldn't fix it and hated that?

Is it when your fridge became less full of "adult" food and more full of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese leftovers, and enough jelly and bread to shake a stick at because the children like PB&J and so that's what you fix?

Is it when you set your alarm for 2 a.m. because your youngest has been so sick, and the fever's been spiking when the ibuprofen wears off, and 2 a.m. is when the last dose is set to wear off? Is it when you check the others' temps too, just to be sure they're okay?

Is it when you set your computer aside because your middlest cheerfully announced, "I want to cuwl youw haiwr, Auntie J!"?

Is it when you spend the morning failing miserably at the job you're paid to do, because your poor sick little girl wants nothing more than to snuggle in your arms?

Is it when you shed both happy and sad tears as you watch your oldest happily get on the bus for her first day of Pre-K?

Is it when you read the same story for bedtime, every night, and you don't even need to look at the pages because you have it memorized, because it's the girls' favorite?

Is it when you console your youngest when the small dachshund she saw thirty feet away absolutely petrified her?

Is it when you scour the Internet, looking for duplicates of your middlest's duckie, that she just can't live without but manages to keep losing? And you buy (ultimately) eight of them?

Is it when you "let" them have lunch with you in the bathroom simply because YOU required the use of that room?

Is it when they're scared in the middle of the night and you let them sleep in your bed?

Is it when your heart breaks as the youngest cries for more juice, but you have to say no because she just threw up?

Is it when you're sick as a dog yourself, but they're sick too and so you care for them anyway?

Is it when you let them kiss you on the lips when they're sick, because they love you, even though you know it'll get you sick, too?

Is it when you take pictures of your oldest after she colored herself blue with your highlighter before you wash her off?

Is it when you fight back tears after watching your youngest--terrified for so long of big, curvy slides--go down the biggest, curviest slide at the park, all by herself, with zero prompting or encouragement on your part?

Is it when you have scowling "wars" with your middlest, just to get her to smile?

Is it when you rejoice outwardly that your youngest doesn't need to cling to you like a leech in the pool anymore because she's no longer scared of the water and yet inside you're crying a little because she doesn't need you for that one little thing anymore?

Is it when you check on them at night, and smile because the oldest is comfortable, the middlest has turned herself around in bed, and the youngest has kicked off her covers...and you right things for everyone before you go to bed?

Is it when you listen intently in the middle of the night because you thought you heard someone whimper?

Is it when you fight like crazy to protect them, even from those who aren't supposed to put them in danger, and you feel your heart break in the process yet you know in your heart it's the right thing? Simply because little girls should never have to wonder where their next meal is or if they're loved?

Is it when you praise your children's successes, give them "special bandaids" for their imaginary boo-boos, hold them when they cry, care for them when they're sick, comfort them after bad dreams, make their favorite lunches, encourage them after a setback, and love them like crazy?

Or is it all biology?

Somehow, I can't believe that it is.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hair-brushing time is one of the most trying here in my house. There's fine hair, thick hair, coarse hair...and all of it curly! Small Fry seems to think that the brush is an instrument of torture. Large Fry will sit relatively still and let me brush and comb out her hair.

And then there's Medium Fry. All those tight curls wind themselves into often tight tangles, so even liberal application of detangling spray solution doesn't always make it easy.

It's not unusual for her to scream and cry when I'm trying to brush out her hair.

Today was no different. She screamed. Cried. Pulled away (which only makes things worse). Hollered at the top of her lungs. Demanded her Uncle D.

I'm working on a small section of particularly stubborn tangles when she wails, "I want my kitty cat!"

I lean around to kinda look at her face. She often says this when she wants the diaper that has Periwinkle the kitten on it. "What kitty?" I ask.

"I want my Popoki!" she demands.

I decided that telling her that "her" Popoki wouldn't want to be around all that screaming wasn't a good idea.

I also decided that telling Po she's been annexed by Medium isn't a good idea either.

Although...I suspect Po already knows, given the number of full-body hugs she's endured.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things you never thought you'd do as an adult...

...until you became a mother...

...and even then, you're surprised.

~De-lotion your couch. Not once, but twice.

~Have your four-year-old throw a tantrum because she doesn't WANT to use the big potty. With the Disney Princess toddler seat that she picked out herself.

~Sacrifice two of your plastic Christmas cookie bins because the Fun Foam one broke spectacularly, and nothing else you have is big enough to store all the Fun Foam.

~Have your 2-year-old refuse your help with her pants, only to turn to her twin, and then they both get in a fight over how to fix the pants, and you have to do it anyway.

~Your other 2-year-old hates her pants because they "tickle." And thusly, they're "scawwy." Same with tall grass in the yard. And fallen leaves in the autumn.

~You answer semi-panicked "Owie!" screams from that same two-year-old, forty-five minutes after putting her to bed, only to find that *nothing* hurts, there is no blood, and nothing is wrong...except a fuzzie in her hair.

~Most days, figure that motherhood beats out the Peace Corps for being the toughest job you'll ever love. Until all three of your kids have screaming fits at once. And then you'll want to sell them to the first Gypsy caravan that comes through town. And you'll feel guilty that you don't feel all that bad for thinking that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bedtime Music

When the girls first came to live with us, they had a very difficult time settling down to sleep at night. As they cried that first night, scared and not understanding why their lives had so suddenly changed, my dad made a suggestion: music. Perhaps that would calm them. Help them sleep. Soothe their fears, even if temporarily.

We found a clock radio, and located the classical station out of the Maryland/D.C. area. I figured it would be the station most likely to lull them to sleep. All classical station DJs that I've heard have soothing, cultured voices that lessened the shock between music and voice. Not to mention that classical pieces are generally longer than the 3.5-minute songs on contemporary radio. And some studies have shown that classical music is brain food. (Or my astronomy professor is wrong about the effects of "Eine Kleine Nacht Muzik" on astronomy exams.)

Innyhoo, what started that first night is a pattern that continues today. Both rooms have clock radios in them, tuned to the same station. The sleep function lets the music play long enough for the girls to fall asleep.

I told you all that to tell you this story.

The kids have gotten hooked on the Playhouse Disney morning programs. I can handle these, so we watch them.

In particular, they really, really love Little Einsteins. I love it for several reasons. One, they're learning about the music. Two, they're seeing classic art. Three, they're learning different problem-solving skills without really knowing it. Large Fry will actually sit and watch an entire episode without running off to play with something more interesting.

Today's episode was a Halloween special, where they're going trick-or-treating and singing along with "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Opus 46, to get enough candy for their party. To find the candy, they listen for the melody line from "Morning Mood," the first movement of the piece. The "ghosts" that seem to be following them are also signaled by the haunting melody line from "In the Hall of the Mountain King." As it turns out, the "ghosts" are merely their instrument friends. They have a marvelous party. Large Fry sang along with the trick-or-treat song after hearing it once or twice.

And I told you that story to tell you this one.

We're tucking the girls into bed tonight, and Large Fry started crying as soon as she got sent to her room after prayers. I told her I'd be in to hug and kiss her in just a minute, and hugged and kissed the twins good night. They did their usual stall tactic and wanted another round of hugs and kisses (it's such a hard thing, really), and Hubby went in to tuck Large Fry in while I finished up with the twins. As I closed their door and headed for Large Fry's room, I hear Hubby saying, "Auntie J will be right here and you can ask her then."

"Ask me what?" I say as I walk into her room.

"She wants you to lay with her for a little bit," Hubby tells me.

I smile down at Large Fry. "I think I can do that."

So I lay down with Large Fry for a bit, thinking that happiness is your four-year-old big girl wanting you to stay with her a bit in her big-girl bed and throwing her little arm across your shoulders because you have your arm wrapped around her.

The DJ comes on, speaking in a smooth and mellow voice, telling us about the piece we'd just listened to and a quick weather report before she announces the next piece. She says the name Edvard Grieg, and I perk up a bit. I wonder if the piece name she's just mentioned is the one from this morning's Little Einsteins show. I think it's the same, but they only mention the piece name once in the show, and I'm not sure it's the same.

The sweet, happy notes of "Morning Mood" begin. Large Fry picks up her head off the pillow, eyes wide as she stares at me. That she knows this music is all over her face. "You know this music, huh?"

Her grin widens as she nods.

"Do you remember where you heard it?"

She thinks, and I say, "Little Einsteins."

She nods again.

The music changes after a few minutes to the second movement. "No more Little 'steins?"

"I think it's still the same piece. We just haven't heard this part."

We lay there quietly and listen. She asks the same question as the third movement begins, and I give her the same answer.

As "In the Hall of the Mountain King," the fourth movement, begins, the same look of wonder appears on her face and she whispers, "Little 'steins," in an awed tone.

We listen through the rest of the piece, and then I give her a kiss and a hug and come downstairs.

I wouldn't have missed that for the world.

Conversations. Again. Really.

Large Fry: Pee-hani, I'm going to go ask Auntie J.

[footsteps as Large Fry walks from kitchen to living room]

Large Fry: Auntie J, Pee-hani didn't listen to me.

Me: That's okay, he doesn't listen to me, either.

[footsteps back to kitchen; Pa'ani meows]

Large Fry: I'm gonna go ask Auntie J, 'cause I'm in trouble.


Large Fry: Auntie J, I'm in trouble because Pee-hani didn't listen to me.

[footsteps back to Pa'ani; clearly a response from me is not needed]

Large Fry: Pee-hani, come here! Come here!

Honestly, I think she has about as much chance of getting Pa'ani to "come here" as I do getting her to do the same....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Conversations, Part the Millionth

Hubby: Did you go poopy in your diaper?

Medium Fry: No!

Hubby: Did you go pee-pee in your diaper?

Medium Fry: No!

Hubby: Are you sure?

Medium Fry: No!

Hubby: I think we should check.

Medium Fry: No!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Old Songs

Music was a huge part of my upbringing, and continues to be a huge part of my life. It's rare that I don't have some sort of "soundtrack" going on.

Given that music seems to be embedded in my genes, and my siblings', it's no surprise that the girls love music, too. And here at Grandma and Boppa's, we've been singing old Sunday School songs at night (supposedly to settle them down, but if you've ever heard them belt out the "Appleseed" song, you'd have your doubts on that score). And during the day. And when the girls are supposed to be napping. Current favorites are "This Little Light of Mine," "The Rainbow is a Promise," "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock," and "We are Happy People." (If you don't know any of them, the girls will happily sing them for you.)

In a totally different vein, I've got a rather wide range of musical likes. Pretty much everything from, say, 60s doo-wop to STOMP. (I do tend to avoid country, hip-hop, and gangsta rap, though.) To the great dismay of my oldest nephew, I have this deep and abiding love of 80s music. I have had to remind him (love you, K) that he wouldn't have the musical styles of today without the 80s music he loathes. It didn't work; I think he still thinks less of me for liking it. I can't help it. This is the music I grew up with.

I'm telling you all this so that I can tell you this story.

Mom and I wanted to take advantage of Saturday's early-bird special at Kohl's, which ended at 1p. Mom had wanted to talk to my sister when she called on Skype sometime between 10a-12p, so we hung out at the house until it was nearly noon and boogied over to Kohl's. I needed new jeans to replace the nearly-new ones I lost in the accident. I had no desire to wear shorts to church on Sunday, either. And perhaps a new shirt. Could always use a new shirt.

We left, leaving poor Dad to finish the Velveeta shells & cheese and supervise lunch. I found my jeans, Mom found jeans for Dad and a couple fall shirts for Charity, and we hustled into line just before 1p so we could get our extra 15% off. As we left Kohl's, Mom suggested Penney's to see if they had any shirts I might like, since they were having a sale and Kohl's had been a wash as far as that was concerned.

Now, I'm walking around well enough with the cane, but I still have one speed and one speed only: SLOW. So I get out first at Penney's while Mom finds a parking spot, since all of the gimp-accessible spots were full. I mosey into the store, and I grab Mom's attention as she all but barrels past me down the center aisle. She leads the way to the women's department, and I get stopped in an archway because my phone chirps. Incoming text message.

I handle the cane just fine, but I am not talented enough to walk with the cane, pull out my phone from my right jeans pocket with my braced wrist, and check the message.

It's from Dad. "Clementine till Jesus comes..." he'd written.

And I hear the music in my head, chuckle, and text back, asking which of the twins--since it had to be one of them--had spouted off with this little line.

Medium Fry, Dad's next text tells me. And it was totally spontaneous.

I show Mom the text, because I'm still chuckling when I catch up to her, and we find a couple shirts that I really like. Mom goes to look for some stuff for the girls while I try on the shirts and head for the checkout lines. Fifteen minutes later, I'm checked out and Mom is in line when my phone chirps again.

Dad again. "Mme. Tussaud."

And that's it.

It takes me a minute.

Allrighty then. "One of the kids is having a meltdown," I tell Mom. (Turns out, there were not enough clementines to get us to the Second Coming for Medium Fry, who snuck one of Large Fry's wedges when Dad's back was turned, and she got disciplined for it.)

And I've been stuck in old songs ever since!

I love it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Dinner Conversations

From last night...

Medium Fry is not wanting to eat.

Me: Take a bite, Medium Fry.

Medium Fry carefully lifts about six grains of rice on her fork and dutifully pops them into her mouth, shooting me a triumphant grin.

Me: That's not a bite, Medium. That's a nibble.

Small Fry: That's a nipple.

Needless to say, every adult at the table had a hand trying to block the guffaws on that one. We didn't do so well.

From tonight...

We've been trying to teach the girls that certain behavior is not appropriate at the table. Like jabbing your fork's tines into Grandma's tablecloth. Or throwing your food happily on the floor (which results in you picking things up, one item at a time, and taking them to the trash...we pretty well stopped that when Medium Fry had to pick up over two dozen kernels of corn). Or playing with other people's plates and silverware. Or just plain playing at the table, with flailing arms and lack of attention, which results in things ending up on the floor.

Large Fry decided she was not going to finish her dinner, and when I announced at dessert (for the adults) that all three girls were done, she started playing. Bouncing back and forth in her booster chair. Flinging her arms around. Grinning.

I'd taken off my wrist brace for dinner, and it was sitting to the right of my dessert plate (peach ice cream on fresh peach pie...good golly). Large Fry swung her arms around, and then her left arm cleared the table of anything within its span...thankfully, just my wrist brace.

Now, I have a hard time bending, so picking it up was going to be problematic.

"Large Fry!" I said in a scolding tone. "Was that yours?" (We've also been trying to teach them that they can't touch things that do not belong to them.)

Large Fry slowly shakes her head.

Mom asked what she touched, and I quickly explain. "No, Large Fry swung her arm across the table and knocked my brace on the floor."


I try to push back my chair (a tough task when your ankle doesn't want to bend), and Mom says I should stay put and Large Fry should have to pick it up.

Mom has Large Fry get down from her chair, pick up the brace, put it back on the table, and get back in her chair...and then Mom throws the brace down on the floor so that Large Fry can repeat the entire process all over again.

We're on the third repetition of this little lesson when Dad says, "I think she should have to tell Auntie J she's sorry every time, too."

Mom nudges Large Fry. "Tell Auntie J that you're sorry."

"I'm sorry, Auntie J."

"Say, 'Will you forgive me?'"

"'Give me?"

"No. 'Will you forgive me?'"

"You will 'give me."

She said this so seriously, yet I can see the laughter brimming in Dad's eyes. Mom's trying to hold it back. I'm failing miserably at keeping a straight face.

"Will you forgive her, Auntie J?" Mom managed to get out.

I choke out a "yes" and thankfully rein in the laughter that was threatening to burst out after that one single word.

Large Fry climbed back in her seat, Mom put the brace on the floor again, Large Fry got back down, picked it up, and put it on the table.

Mom prompted her again. "Say, 'Will you forgive me?'"

"You will 'give me," Large Fry dutifully intoned.

"I forgive you, honey," I said, this time not looking at Dad.

Mom has Large Fry go through the process a third time, but when it comes time for her to ask for forgiveness, Mom made sure to carefully enunciate each word.

Large Fry got the words in the right order this time, but "forgive" still came out as "give."

I hope our general inability to keep a straight face didn't get in the way of what Large Fry was supposed to be learning....

Friday, September 11, 2009

It Takes a Grandma

Everyone has gotten up from naptime, and Dad shuttles the two oldest girls to the potty chairs.

They're finishing up and Large Fry complains that she needs new undies. Well, hers aren't wet, so Dad informs her that these are just fine. She continues to whine, so I step in. Her undies are fine. She just needs to pull them up right, not up so high she gives herself her own nuclear wedgie, which had been the previous issue. Or so we thought.

Grandma arrives home from all of her tests and the girls go bonkers. However, it doesn't take long before Large Fry starts whimpering again. "Gramma, I have a problem," she says.

Mom checks. It takes about two seconds for her to deduce the problem. "You do have a problem!" she agrees. "Come over here. Auntie J would agree that you have a problem."

She sits in the other recliner and drapes Large Fry over her knee before stripping off both her pants and undies. "They were on sideways," Mom says.

I agree that this is a problem.

Dad comes back into the kitchen and asks what the problem was. Mom holds up the undies as Large Fry was wearing them, sideways.

Dad's eyes widen. "Oh, Large Fry, I am so sorry. She's been complaining about that all day, and no wonder. And I was wondering why she had this double layer of material on her side," he says to Mom. He looks back at Large Fry. "You really did have your undies in a knot! I guess it takes a grandma."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dinner Conversations

First, because it still makes me giggle, the following exchange from dinner last night withHubby and Dad at T.G.I. Friday's:

Waitress: So, did you save room for dessert?

Dad: Oops.

Then there was tonight.

Medium Fry is being potty-trained. Mom asked her tonight, after dinner but before dessert, if she needed to use the potty before she had her ice cream. "Is your Pull-Up dry?"

Medium vigorously nods her head, and Mom goes to dish up her ice cream.

Meanwhile, Dad croons, "When you walk through a storm..."

Having sung the infernal song in high school chorus, I knew the next line, and I also knew Dad was going to modify it to "...keep your Pull-Up high..."

I started pounding my forehead with the heel of my hand, visualizing Medium hauling her Pull-Up nearly up to her armpits, and unable to stave off the giggles. "I'm not nearly as visual a thinker as my husband," I gasp between what's now full-blown guffaws, "but still, all I can see is her yanking her Pull-Up up to here!" I indicate Steve-Urkel-waist height.

This gets both Mom and Dad going, and I realize that the past three nights of insomnia mean that I am dangerously close to laughing until I start crying, at which point I'll bawl simply because I can't laugh anymore. Tears are already leaking out because I'm laughing so hard, and the girls are asking if I'm crying. I bring myself under control, assure the girls that I'm just laughing because Boppa said something funny, and turn my attention to my own ice cream.

But I'll tell you, just thinking about it makes me want to giggle all over again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conversations. Yet again.

Boppa: What do you have?

Small Fry: Stickews!

: Stickers! And a sticker book?

Small Fry: Need more stickews!

Boppa: You'll have to ask the Queen about that. Do you know who the Queen is?

[dead silence]

Boppa: Do you know who the Queen is?

Medium Fry: [crows confidently] Esthewr!

(They'd watched the Veggie Tales "Esther: The Girl Who Would Be Queen" several times over the last week, including once already today.)

Boppa: [chuckles] That's exactly right!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How I Became An Honorary Octogenarian

I was in a bad car wreck on July 17.

For those who want the gory details, here you go.

It was a rainy afternoon, and I was driving home to C-burg from my dentist's office in W-boro. (I'd gotten my permanent crown put in place, in a last-minute appointment because of the discomfort I was experiencing with the temporary crown.) Hubby was back at the house, and Mom and Dad had picked up the kids before I'd left the house for my appointment, taking them back to their place because of Bro's visitation time the next day.

Despite the weather, I opted to take SR 997 north as part of my route home, since it would take me right to US 30. I needed to stop at Walmart on the way home, and going that particular route would take me right by the store. SR 997 does kind of wind through the countryside, but it's not as bad as some of the curves on the roads we take to church, so I didn't think too much of it.

I'd driven about a mile up SR 997 N when the speed limit changed from 35 mph to 45 mph. About a third of a mile later, I slowed to the recommended speed of 35 for an approaching left curve, due to the weather. As I came around the bend, I had two realizations: 1) There was a maroon car coming at me sideways. 2) There was NO way I was going to avoid the impending crash.

So I did the only thing that seemed sensible at the time. I closed my eyes and screamed like the girl I am.

The right rear quadrant of the maroon car slammed into the left front quadrant of my car and then the passenger side hit my hood. The impact was intense and jarring. I slowly opened my eyes and looked around. The airbags had both deployed. My sunglasses had flown off my head (yes, I really did notice that), and I know in retrospect it was a good thing it was just bright enough that I felt the need to wear them. My windshield had spiderwebbed, but remained intact. Not so much the windows in the driver's side doors...they shattered inward. I was covered in glass. Steam hissed outside.

As I was taking a slow and careful inventory to make sure everything was still attached, a young woman in the other car was screaming at me, "Are you okay?"

"I don't know," I called back.

In panic, she repeated her question and I repeated my answer. All body parts were accounted for, but the pain was beginning to make itself known. My left shoulder and hip were the most intense, along with the spot on my sternum where the shoulderbelt crossed over it.

"Are you okay?" she screamed again.

"I think so," I said. I then unbuckled my seat belt while I was still able to think about doing that.

A young man, who I surmised to have been in the maroon car, walked around the front of the maroon car and then towards me. "We hydroplaned," he informed me.

"Oh, my God, my leg!" another young woman screamed. I looked over. Yep, she had a compound fracture of her leg. No doubt about it, even though the bone didn't protrude. Her leg looked like rubber, as if there were no bone in there. (I heard later that she passed out after seeing her leg.)

An older man appeared in my window. "You're going to be okay," he reassured me. "I've called for help and they're on their way."

Pic from local paper.  Black car is mine.
I nodded my thanks, and carefully leaned over to retrieve my purse, which was now on the floor. (Thankfully, my cell phone was in there and not my pocket...small favors.) I tugged off my wedding rings, just in case, and stashed them in a zippered pocket in my purse. My right wrist hurt, and my left didn't, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. I didn't want them to be cut off, and I didn't yet know the extent of my injuries. My right ankle also started throbbing.

I got in a quick call to Hubby, only having enough time to tell him I'd been in an accident before EMS arrived. I hung up so I could answer the questions the paramedics started asking. What was my name? Date of birth? What did I think had happened? (She slid into me sideways.) Did I lose consciousness? (No.) What hurts? (What doesn't?) A firefighter--I could tell from the heavy gloves on his hands--climbed into the car behind me and braced my neck with his hands until they could get a collar on me. Gentle hands checked for other injuries. When the paramedic shifted me forward to run his hands down my back, I felt pieces of glass fall down my back and into my underwear. (I said this had the gory details.) Yay, I thought, knowing there was no way that glass could be gotten out until after I'd gotten to the hospital, the x-rays were done and there was no damage to my neck, blah, blah, blah. I made another, too-brief call to Hubby to tell him I was going to be taken to a hospital and I thought I was okay but my ankle and wrist hurt, along with my shoulder and hip. Then the paramedic asked me to hang up so they could get me on the backboard.

Getting me onto the backboard was...interesting. My door wouldn't open; the maroon car kinda prevented that, and besides, it was crunched in. Short as I am, I was close enough to the wheel that turning wasn't exactly easy--and I was even an arm's length from the wheel! What they ended up doing was leaning both front seats back as far as they could, got the collar around my neck, and had me shift my backside onto the backboard and lean back. Then they hauled me up, strapped me down, and six burly guys carried me from the car, through a cornfield, to a waiting gurney. One looked down at me and apologized for the fact that I was getting wet (it was still raining). I was amused by both that and my little ride through the corn. And I figured that a little rain wasn't the worst thing that had happened to me. I was alive. The car and anything in it that was ruined--those could all be replaced. I had the most important thing: my life.

They got me onto the gurney and into the ambulance. Another series of similar questions. Name, date of birth, known drug allergies, what hurts. I winced a little at the loss of my nearly-new jeans as the paramedic cut the right leg nearly up to the knee so he could splint my ankle. My wrist was also splinted. The driver rescued both my purse and Hubby's C-burg Hospital clergy ID, which led to a discussion of why I was such a nice patient (they said they didn't know how to deal with a patient who wasn't cursing at them) and where Hubby works. I was informed they'd be transporting me to W-boro Hospital...ironically, right across the street from my dentist's office. My Christmas socks with the Christmas trees, snowmen and gingerbread men on them greatly amused the paramedic.

In the ER, one of the trauma guys leaned over me to ask me the same litany of questions. Name? Date of birth? (When I told him the year, he winced and said that was the year he'd graduated high school. I didn't know what else to say but a mildy sarcastic, "I'm very sorry.") He informed me that my husband had called and he was on his way; they'd send him back as soon as he arrived.

The doctor came in momentarily. She did a quick mental orientation check (thank you, all those episodes of ER), asking if I knew my name, what day of the week it was, and who the President is. Then she ordered x-rays of my c-spine, chest, left hip/pelvis, right wrist and right ankle. What hurt most? Well, I'd have to say my left hip. (I knew I had all sorts of fun stuff in my pocket, including a little plastic army man that Hubby had given me before he'd gone on the youth group's Ohio mission trip the last week of June. He said the army guy would protect me, and I should keep him in my pocket.)

Shortly, a state trooper came in to get my statement. I explained that the other car had already been sliding as I came around the corner, and then it slammed into me. I estimated I'd been going about 35. There wasn't a thing I could do to avoid the accident. He said there had been a witness--the driver of the car behind mine--who had seen the whole thing, and his story backed mine up, and so did the accident scene. He said he'd mail me a copy of the accident write-up. The witness must have been the older man who'd called for help. Thankfully, his car wasn't involved in the accident at all.

Hubby arrived just as the radiology tech came to scoot me over to x-ray. She explained that they'd do all but the chest and pelvic films right now, so that we could get my c-spine cleared a.s.a.p. Besides, she said, they couldn't get good pictures through the backboard. I couldn't hold my shoulders down low enough to get all seven cervical vertebrae in the x-rays, so one tech had to pull down on my arms (ouch) while the other shot the pictures. By the time we finished with the ankle and wrist films, I was ready to cry. The tech told me they had to email the films to a radiologist up at C-burg Hospital to be read.

I did cry when Hubby got back to my curtain area. "I killed the car," I sobbed. He brushed a hand across my forehead, getting rid of auto glass so that he had a clean spot to kiss my head. "It wasn't your fault," he said gently. "And we needed a new car anyway."

The nurse bustled back in. "Your left hip hurts the most, right?"

Hah. "No, my ankle and wrist hurt more now." After the different shots for the x-rays, I figured I'd lost my perfect record for no broken bones.

She assured me that, as soon as the radiologist's report came in, she'd be able to get me something for the pain. I nodded, expecting that. She came back a few minutes later, asking if I was sure there wasn't anything she could do (I think). She said she could get me some ice packs. I said that would be good; I really did hurt. "Well, you've got some broken bones," she said. "The doctor is looking at the report now, and she'll be in soon to talk to you." Hubby asked about my neck, and she said that she was pretty sure those x-rays had come back clear.

A few moments later, the doctor came in. "Well, I've got some bad news," she said. She went on to relate that I had two, possibly three, broken bones in my right wrist, and two, possibly three, broken bones in my right ankle. The possible break there, she said, was one of the major ankle support bones, and if that was broken, it would require surgery. Well, yay. If I'm gonna trash my perfect record of no broken bones, might as well go all-out.

Hubby nervously asked about my neck and back. "Oh, yeah, those are fine. We can get her out of that collar and off the board now." Whew.

The nurse came back in and they asked how attached I was to my jeans. I no longer really cared. I said I was kinda attached to the shirt and would like to not have that cut off, but when I realized there was already a gaping hole in it, I decided I didn't care about that, either. Nearly everything was cut off me; only a couple articles of clothing escaped. I had massive bruises and scrapes all over my left hip, and more bruising along the line of the shoulderbelt. The doctor and nurse could not believe how much auto glass I was hiding on and around my person, and were shocked that I'd been laying on glass pieces for four hours now without any real cuts or complaints. They rolled me to the left to get the backboard out, and then replaced the sheet under me with a clean one, after removing as much glass as they could see. Then the nurse hooked up an IV and started the saline drip and pushed the first dose of morphine. Nausea hit first, and then the flush of heat--both normal responses to morphine.

Hubby went out to call my dad and I went back for the chest and hip pelvic x-rays. Making me sit up and moving too fast ratcheted up the nausea I was feeling, and I nearly got sick. The orthopedic surgeon who would be working on my foot came in and helped move me onto the table for the pelvic pictures. He was able to read them right there and said those were fine; the pain I'd been feeling was due to the severe bruising from the seatbelt yanking tight against me.

He joined me again a few minutes later in my curtain area in the ER to explain what had happened. I suspected the wrist breaks were due to the airbag deployment. The wrist, he said, would just need a cast. However, it was a notoriously slow-healing break, and would take 8-12 weeks to heal as opposed to 6. He hoped that he could have me in a sling about halfway through, but I still wouldn't be able to do much with it. My ankle--well, that was a different story. He said I had chipped pieces off of the two bones that stick out on either side of the ankle, and those would have to be screwed back into place. Surgery was scheduled for about noon the next day. He gave me his business card to give to Hubby.

After the surgeon left, another aide came in and said I had visitors. Hubby, Dad, and my brother-in-law C came back. (Dad and C had driven out to leave a vehicle for Dan to borrow.) They stayed until a nurse came in to announce that she had to put in a catheter in preparation for surgery the next day.

It took forever for Hubby to come back. When he did, he explained that the mother of the other car's driver--whom I'd estimated at mid-20s but was in reality just 17--had been calling the hospital in something of a panic, trying to get information about my condition, only to have HIPAA laws preventing her from getting anything out of the nurses. One of the nurses had had pity on her, and went to see if Hubby was still around and if he would be willing to talk to her. Hubby obliged, and was able to reassure the woman that, while I had some broken bones and a possible need for surgery, I was in stable condition and going to be fine. My ankle and wrist were both splinted.

Because of some things that had shown up in the ankle x-rays that were a little perplexing to the surgeon, I got sent for a CAT scan of my foot. I looked at the people assembled to once again move me from bed to table, and said we had to stop meeting like this. It was the third time in as many hours that I'd seen them.

I got taken up to my room, where we had the lovely predicament of getting my weight. It was needed for surgery and anesthesia the next day. I couldn't put weight on my foot. Couldn't hold myself up with my hands. A bed-scale was the best bet...but I had to be rolled to each side to get the dumb thing under me. Ick. The room spun whichever way I'd been rolled. Once they got the weight (cranked up in a sling--yuck, I got so sick to my stomach) and got the thing out from under me, they hauled me up on the bed. "Son of a motherless goat!" I muttered, closing my eyes until the room stopped spinning.

Surgery was ultimately at about 1:30 Saturday afternoon. After my March surgery, I figured I could handle the pain of a small ankle operation. Hah! Soft tissue and muscle pain from surgery is FAR different from bone pain. The doctor explained that he had put in the screws as he'd described, but I did have four breaks in my ankle. One of the other breaks was in the front bone, and it had sort of split. It didn't need to be screwed into place since it was already in the right spot, but I could not put any weight on the foot/ankle because it might knock that bone out of place, and because the tiny screws holding in my chipped bones could bend...and then we'd be back at square one. I have no desire to do that, especially after how horrible of a night I had on Saturday night.

Hubby did discover on Saturday that the accident had made the local newspaper--the front page, no less, and above the fold!

On Sunday morning I cried all over two physical therapists as it took me ten minutes to hobble four feet in a platform walker. They decided that was enough exercise for the day, and got me settled in a reclining chair. I slept better there over the next few hours than I had the entire night before.

The teenage driver of the other car and her mom came to visit me in the hospital that afternoon. The girl had written a lovely card with a huge apology and had brought me homemade chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon swirl bread. She was relieved that I was okay. Hubby asked if she'd learned anything from this experience. She said she'd learned a lot.

On Monday afternoon, I was transferred to Chambersburg Hospital's rehab wing. I was there for the next four days, with a snarky attending physician (who had a wardrobe stuck in the 70s), a sarcastic occupational therapist, several nice physical therapists, and a bunch of great nurses. I got to learn how to do a bunch of stuff left-handed, as well as getting further instructions on how to use the platform walker and maneuver through daily activities while having a bum leg and arm. I also practiced getting up and down two stairs (all I had to worry about, since I would be recuperating at Mom and Dad's), getting in and out of bed, getting up off of couches and arm chairs, getting in and out of kitchen chairs, and getting in and out of a car.

To use the platform walker, I strap my right forearm to this cushioned platform and grip the handle, and put my left hand on the grip on the walker itself. I bear all my weight on my right elbow and left hand, push down, and swing myself forward until I can put my left foot down. Complicated, yes. A bruised left knee makes it even more fun!

I got discharged from rehab on 7/24, and I'm happy to report that I'm on the mend. I've been living with Mom and Dad ever since, and so have the girls. I've had one PT appointment, and I saw the surgeon on Friday to have my staples removed and I got my "moon boot." I still can't put any weight on my right foot; the doc says in another month, he'll do x-rays to see how I'm healing and then maybe I can start learning to walk again. I go back in two weeks to get my wrist re-cast, since the current cast is loose. And I can finally shower again, once Hubby gets here with my plastic chair to put into the shower! Hubby comes down on Sundays after church and stays until Monday night, occasionally Tuesday morning. The cats are living it up without the kids, but I understand that Mika is confused by my absence.

So, the upshot is, I'm healing. I'm very tired, even more so after I go out of the house for doctor's appointments or PT appointments. I sleep a lot. Mom and Dad have been wonderful to let us all stay here and take care of me and the girls. I use my walker to get around their main floor, and it even has a walker bag. That's when I knew I was an honorary oldie. Especially when my octogenarian aunt came to babysit me last Sunday while the rest of the family went to church.

It's good to be home-ish.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Auntie J's Big Little Helper

One of the things we've learned in the last week since I've been home from the hospital is that I am always much more tired the day after I exert myself more than the usual getting around and PT exercises.

Another thing we've learned is to let the kids help me in what ways they can, so they can perhaps better understand Auntie J's limitations because of her big boo-boos. This usually means getting small things for me or picking up toys so I don't have any trip hazards as I hobble around.

Yesterday was one of those extra-exertion days, as I went to see the surgeon for my 2-week checkup, to get my staples out and fitted for a lovely moon boot brace.

Today I'm pooped.

I could hardly stay awake until lunch, and once the kids had gone down for naps, I decided to take one myself. I slept solidly for nearly three hours.

When I got up from my nap, tired but feeling a little more rested, I slowly hobbled my way out to the recliner. Large Fry will sometimes "help" me as I walk, standing really close to make sure I'm okay, which makes the hobbling even more challenging. I made it to my recliner without such "help" and without having any toys to trip me up, since all of the girls were either on the couch or in the kitchen pestering Gramma as she worked on dinner.

I collapsed into the recliner with an oof, and Medium Fry and Large Fry came over to me.

"I'll get yewr book!" Medium said cheerfully, reaching her hands into my walker bag and pulling out the paperback novel I've been reading. She handed it to me. "I'll get yewr phone!"

Before she can dive fist-first into the walker bag and pull out other stuff like the pumper for my aircast moon boot, I say, "My phone is already out. It's plugged into my computer."

Large Fry then said, "I'll get your phone!" I had to explain again that it wasn't in the bag, picking it up to show her.

Large Fry became disinterested, and wandered away. Medium Fry went to sit on the loveseat and look at a book, and began crying when both Mom and I scolded her for trying to rip off the clear tape that had mended a previous rip in the page. Mom sat down and talked with her, and Medium wailed, "I want to sit with Auntie J!"

Much as I hated to say no, I was seeing a bathroom trip in my immediate future, and it's hard enough to get out of the recliner because of how low it is. I couldn't do that and maneuver around a small one.

Next thing I know, as I'm psyching myself up to stand up and hobble to the bathroom, Medium comes almost tumbling back into the living room.

She's toting my pillows that I use to prop up my leg and arm when I'm in the recliner. She'd apparently gone to my room and gotten them off the bed.

She'd also gotten the right pillows, which is something of a feat, since I have a half dozen pillows on my bed.

They were nearly as big as her, and it's a wonder she didn't fall trying to carry them both.

"I got yewr piwwows!" she announced proudly.

What a big girl!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Conversations. Again.

So I'm talking to my dad on the phone and trying to not give anything away to the nearly four-year-old sprite in the room, since it's her upcoming birthday we're talking about.

At the same time, I'm trying to figure out when I might actually expect my parents at my house (they are apparently stuck until my sister, brother-in-law and cousin return) and get the kids dressed. Large Fry is dressed, but I had to send her to the potty because of the pee-pee dance she was doing, so I switched to getting Medium Fry dressed rather than doing Large Fry's hair.

As I'm trying to talk to Dad, I get Medium's diaper changed and shorts on. Before I can get her shirt on, she taps her chest on the left. "A freckle!"

I look. "No, honey, that's not a freckle."

"A freckle?"

"No, that's not a freckle."

"A freckle." She sounds determined now.

"No, Medium Fry. That's not a freckle."

She points to her twin, who is still in her nightie. "Small Fry's freckle?"

"No, Small Fry doesn't have a freckle there either."

"Large Fry's freckle?"

"No, Large Fry doesn't have a freckle there either."

By now, Dad is chuckling, just from hearing my side of the conversation. (Although, my BlackBerry carries sound really well, and Medium was close enough, so he probably caught most of it.) "Well, what IS it, Auntie J? Why don't you tell them?"

I tell Medium Fry once again that it's NOT a freckle. Neither is the matching spot on the other side of her chest.

"Because," I say to Dad, " I don't want them to know that word just yet!"

"Oh," he says, with a chuckle. He takes about two more seconds to think, and as it sinks in, he says, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!" before breaking out into a full laugh.

Yeah. That "freckle," Dad.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yeah, it took this long to think about putting this to pixel.

It's been a over a year now since the Fries moved in with Hubby and me. With my sister-in-law's assignment to South Korea, we expected to be caring for the girls until she rotated back to the States in early January 2010. At least.

That all changed on June 10, when my brother's annoyance with our refusal to allow him to invite himself into our Memorial Day plans--when he couldn't be bothered to come see his kids on any of his scheduled days since the beginning of May, and only let us know ONCE that he wasn't coming--boiled over. He and my sister-in-law, for the first time in their marriage, agreed we were jerks, and deliberately avoiding their phone calls (I say it's hard to avoid calls that DON'T come), and we "wanted [our] lives back," and they both legally revoked the powers of attorney we held for guardianship of the girls.

Then they transferred guardianship to my sister-in-law's mother, in part because it was time for SIL's family to "step up to the plate" and help care for the girls, in part because "[we] obviously needed [our] lives back," and in part because we had no parenting experience whatsoever whereas SIL's mother had five children.

Let me explain a little about SIL's mother.

Multiple DUI convictions, and two DUI charges within the last year. (And, most recently, a charge for simple assault and harassment other than physical contact, but she wasn't formally charged with that until last week.) Five children, yes, but all of them have different fathers. One has been in juvenile detention for at least the last four years. She's lost all of them to social services more than once, including losing the two minor sons in her custody to social services for a number of months when she was jailed for a parole violation four years ago. She's unemployed. At the time, last we knew, her live-in boyfriend was also unemployed. NONE of what SIL has usually had to say about her own mother is good. Oh, and with two kids who've had past asthmatic-type issues (due to parental stupidity) and have nebulizers, it's a great idea to have them live with their maternal grandmother whose live-in boyfriend smokes like a chimney, and does so in the house.

Mother of the year, no doubt.

And this is who they wanted to take custody of their kids.


Because they'd reached a custody agreement that would aid in speeding up their uncontested divorce (every other weekend and summers for Bro, and everything else for SIL). And SIL was going to be back in the States in early July under a compassionate reassignment. So the kids would only be with her mother for a few weeks.

We had "almost" a week to "prepare" the Fries for the move (to someone they've seen five times in the last year, who they don't really know from a hole in the wall) and say our goodbyes, according to my brother's letter. They were giving us that week out of their "deep gratitude" for all we've done over the last year.

How generous of them. SIL, who didn't support her children financially until Bro filed an IG complaint. Bro, who's given less than $100 over the last year towards the support of his children, and initially refused to even buy them Christmas presents because he "couldn't afford it," until my mother had a conniption and pointed out that he worked at Target, had a 40% discount, and he could go to the Dollar Spot.

And we have no parenting experience? What did they think we've been doing? We threw the birthday parties. We bought the Christmas presents that made their Christmas good, and more than just a pair of Cinderella socks and some little containers of generic Play-Doh and clothes that were already bordering on too small. Someone had to parent these kids! Since they lived with us, that fell to us. We've loved and disciplined and raised them over the last thirteen months. What were we? Babysitters? If that's the case, they owe us a truckload of money--at least $90 grand, and that's just for ME.

Hubby was so distressed that he actually tore his shirt.

So. We met with our attorney that afternoon. I sat in her conference room, shaking and crying. And by the close of business Friday, we'd filed a petition for special relief to keep the kids with us and a suit for full custody.

Not something we wanted to do. We'd hoped the Fries' parents would have the good sense to realize neither of them were equipped to be parents, and the kids had a stable home, and leaving them right where they are is probably in the best interests of the children.

My brother had come to that conclusion back in January. We knew it wouldn't last, especially with the way my SIL responded. (Her objections to the idea were solely that SHE would look bad for giving up her children, and, and she couldn't have any more since she'd had her tubes tied when the twins were born by C-section. Um, tubal ligations aren't goof-proof, and they ARE reversible. But not a single word was said about how the kids being yanked out of our home would be good for THEM.) And, of course, with her telling him how we're constantly and deliberately avoiding her calls (again, hard to avoid something that doesn't happen; she called all of ONCE between May 4 and June 10) and his skewed perception of the events of Memorial Day weekend, all of a sudden we were the enemy.

And for the first time in their four-year marriage, they not only believe each other 100%, but they also support each other 100%.

But then, they have a common enemy: us.

I could detail the horror stories that were part of our petition for custody. Suffice to say, SIL's response to the petition made all kinds of fun allegations, denying the things we knew to be true, and alleging all sorts of stuff that we could prove false (like the fact that the girls were never developmentally behind or underweight).

The judge signed the protection order on June 16th. We had custody of the kids until the custody presentation.

We went before the judge on June 25, for a custody presentation. SIL had managed to wrangle about two weeks' leave and was there for the hearing. She showed up in full dress greens. Our attorney and hers spent half an hour wrestling over a visitation schedule for the remaining ten days that SIL would be in town. (Mind you, she gave me four hours' warning that she was in town and wanted to see the kids daily. Visitation was supposed to be supervised, and at my folks', and they were out of town. SIL didn't tell anyone but her own mother that she was coming back to the States.) The judge had said the previous day, in a conference call with both attorneys, that he saw no reason for SIL's visits to be supervised, since we weren't alleging abuse.

Abuse? No. Neglect? Oh, yes. Not to mention that we were terribly concerned that she wouldn't abide by the visitation agreement and actually bring the kids back. She clearly had no qualms about lying to the court through her attorney! The judge scheduled a phone conference with our respective attorneys at 8a on 7/2 to discuss the final custody agreement.

I threw up after court.

Hubby then left for nine days on 6/26. My folks were still in Boston. I got to handle this by myself, and came unglued. I'd already planned to pack up the Fries and go stay with Mom and Dad while Hubby was gone, so I didn't have to be a single mommy pro tem for the entire time Hubby was away. Now I had to deal with SIL, who would want to be a huggy and lovey and act like nothing was wrong, like she did with Hubby when he dropped off the kids with her on 6/25.

Interesting, that visit. She was so adamant about having the kids THAT DAY, and yet, she was woefully unprepared. Her vehicle had only two rear seat belts, and a front passenger airbag. There was no way she could legally transport the kids anywhere.

Mom and Dad recruited my uncle and their neighbors to help me with the custody exchanges until they returned from Boston. To say that those ten days with my sister-in-law confused and upset the kids is an understatement. SIL gave them very little other than soda to drink (which we rarely gave them), even after being told how much the Fries love milk. She gave Large Fry a pacifier on her last day of visitation, most likely because Large Fry got upset and started crying and wouldn't stop. Large Fry turns four next Monday, and hasn't used a pacifier at all in nearly a year. (Which, I should point out, SIL knew.) She lost one of Medium Fry's duckies when she took the girls into Lancaster, because despite her "very close" relationship with her children (according to her court documents), she didn't know how EXTREMELY important that little yellow duckie is to her middle child, and didn't even know it was gone until I asked where it was when Mom & I picked up the kids that afternoon.

Small Fry, who is easily the most emotionally sensitive of the three, was so confused and upset that I had to rock her to sleep 90% of the time because she wouldn't settle down unless I did. Medium Fry threw increased numbers of frustration tantrums. Large Fry got an upset stomach from the increase in carbonated drinks and her own stress.

SIL's attorney submitted an eleven-page document with their requested stipulations, the most annoying of which would've required us to spend even MORE money than what we were already spending to care for the girls (SIL's allotment isn't enough to completely cover the added expense of raising three little girls, and then she dropped it to just over what her court papers say is what the Army requires). Hubby was still in the wilds of Ohio with minimal cell phone availability. Mom, Dad and I got frustrated real fast.

It took the Fries nearly a week to acclimate to being back at home. Large Fry was so upset that she got physically sick the first night home.

Once they got settled, I fell apart.

The judge's order came down on Monday last week. We have shared legal custody of the Fries. SIL has primary physical custody, provided she entrusts the Fries to our care while she is in Korea. Bro's visitation continues. There's a nasty visitation schedule established for SIL should she come back to the States for less than a month. Oh well. For the moment, the Fries are safe.

Next up is a hearing in early October. Our attorney was adamant that the girls could not be returned to their mother's custody without a hearing. Hubby and I will likely testify. Mom will testify. Dad's relieved he doesn't have to, and admits it makes sense for Mom to be the one, since she's more detail-oriented. Of course, the October hearing date is based upon SIL's assertion that she will get her compassionate reassignment--at this point, she has only applied for one--and be back at either Fort Meade (MD) or Fort Dix (NJ) by mid-September. Our research indicates that she likely does not meet the criteria for a compassionate reassignment, but of course, that's only if she tells the truth in her application, and she's shown she's not too bound by the idea of the truth.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Medium Fry: Unca D, I wanna watch "SpongeBob."

Hubby: You'll have to ask Auntie J.

Medium Fry: Auntie J, I wanna watch "SpongeBob."

Me: Auntie J is the one who convinced Uncle D no more "SpongeBob."

Medium Fry (looking impish): I yuv yew bewwy mush!

Me: I love you very much, too, but no "SpongeBob."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Morning Conversations

Large Fry climbed up on our bed this morning, like she usually does. I went down the hall for my morning constitutional, and when I got back to retrieve clothes to dress for the day, Hubby related this conversation:

Large Fry had snuggled up against him.

Hubby: I love you.

Laarge Fry: I love you too.

Hubby: I'll love you forever.

Large Fry: Uh-huh.

Hubby: I'll love you forever and ever.

Large Fry: Uh-huh.

Hubby: Forever and ever.

Large Fry slaps her hand over his mouth.

Hubby: What's the matter? Don't you like that?

Large Fry: Mickey Mouse is on!

Hubby: You can't hear Mickey when I'm talking?

Large Fry: No!

I went back down the hall to the bathroom to get dressed (it's just easier), and then overheard this:

Hubby: Give me back my sock!

Large Fry: *giggles* It's MY sock!

Hubby: Give me back my sock!

Large Fry: No, it's my sock!

Hubby: Uncle D has to go to work. I need my sock.

Large Fry: It's MY sock! *more giggles*

I think Hubby had to finally wrestle it away from her. He'd set his socks down on the bed, picked up one, and sat down on the edge of the bed to put it on. When he went to grab the next, Large Fry had her arms hugged close to her chest and her knees tucked up and a guilty, silly grin on her face...so it was obvious who his sock thief was.

It's okay, Peehani!

The kids rather dislike our dustbuster. It's loud and it's scary, especially to the twins. Our way of alleviating fears has been to tell them, "It's okay. It's just noise."

And then there's Pa'ani (pronounced by the kids as "Pee-hani"), who isn't necessarily afraid of the dustbuster, but will happily tell anyone he comes across, including the kids, how hard his life is. I think, like Keiki, Pa'ani likes to hear himself talk.

The other day, Medium Fry was in the kitchen, trying to convince Pa'ani of her undying love.

Hubby pulls out the dustbuster and starts running it.

Medium heavily pats Pa'ani, who is still meowing. "Iss okay, Pee-hani! Iss just noise!"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another of those things...

...that you never expect to say:

"No, don't wash your tongue. Wash your lips!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dinner Conversations

Large Fry let out a nice big belch, and announced, "That was a big burp!"

"Yes, it was," I said. "What do you say?"

She didn't say anything, and so Hubby said, "What do you say when you burp?"

Medium Fry crowed, "Tweet tweet!"

I suppose "burp" and "bird" sound similar enough....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Going Quackers

Duckies are, as you might have guessed, one of the more important things in my house right now. I recently bought three backup duckies for Medium Fry, because we were constantly losing the primary duckie, which is really starting to show how well-loved it really is.

Medium, however, is now starting to notice the difference between her first duckie and the three new backups. She's been rather adamant that the new ones aren't hers. So, I decided to hide the first, well-loved duckie and let her use nothing but the backups until they look a little less new.

And so today, we started out with her having two of those three duckies. She would bring one over to me, say it was mine, and go sit on the couch with the other. And in a few minutes, she'd come over and trade duckies with me.

After lunch, however, I couldn't find either of them. The twins desperately needed to go down for a nap and I didn't want to waste time looking for them, so I grabbed the last duck for Medium to nap with.

I planned to keep my eye on it once she got up and make sure I knew where it was when bedtime came.

I love it when a plan doesn't come together.

Of course, I didn't see it anywhere after dinner.

I got all the girls changed into their nighties (they feel so grown-up wearing them) and realized I needed to find a duck.

Hmmm. Not under the couch. Not under the couch cushions. Not in any of the other hidey-holes Medium favors when stashing her duckie somewhere.

As I was picking up blankets and boas and pillows that had been strewn on the floor throughout the day, seeing if there was a duckie underneath, I notice that one of the couch throw pillows has a funny lump under the cover.

A duckie-shaped lump.

I unzip the pillow cover, and sure enough, there are the two missing duckies from before naptime!

One of them went upstairs with Medium and the other was safely stashed.

I found the third a little while ago, abandoned in the middle of the toy room floor.

I did not, however, find the clicker for the DVD player that I was looking for.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things you don't want to hear Large Fry say

"Auntie J, I have an apple up my nose. Get it."

Now, I knew this wasn't possible...we don't have any apples in the house.

I also knew that Large Fry had been downstairs for all of two minutes by herself while I tried to get the twin Fries to cooperate and come down the stairs for breakfast as well.

Large Fry was sitting nicely at the table, and I didn't think anything of it until she started digging at her nose again, and telling me a second time that she had an "apple" up there.

I tipped her head back and peered up her left nostril. Okay, something looked out of place there. I grabbed the flashlight that was (thankfully) nearby on the counter and looked again.

Not an apple, although I could see how she might think that.

It was a popcorn kernel.

Hubby and I had had an in-house date night on Saturday, watching a movie and having some popcorn. Apparently, a mostly-unpopped kernel had escaped notice. And Large Fry thought it would be a grand idea to stick it up her nose.

I call up the stairs to Hubby that we've got a problem. He brings down a bulb syringe, which is about as ineffective as I figured it would be. My next call is to the pediatrician.

I explain our little situation to the receptionist, who puts me on hold. She comes back and tells me that the docs will TRY to get it out, but they don't necessarily have the specialized equipment that, say, the ER would have. And when she tells me the soonest she can get me in is 3:10 this afternoon...I get Large Fry dressed, and since Hubby is more dressed than I am, he calls his boss and explains we've got to take Large Fry in to see someone, and they head off to the ER. I fix breakfast for the twins.

After half an hour or so, Hubby calls. "They can't get it. They're calling in an ear, nose and throat guy." Okay then.

Another half hour or so goes by, and Hubby calls again. "Good news and bad news," he says. "Good news: we're coming home now. Bad news: it's not out."

"It's not out?"

"It's not out. And more good news: they got her an appointment with an ENT, who's probably seen this a million times, this afternoon. Bad news: they don't take her insurance. So it's going to cost us $75 just to be seen, and they'll bill us for the rest."

Hubby and Large Fry get home, and he tells me one last important fact. "We need to be sure we tell Dr. Chang that they did put cocaine in her nose."

Wait, what? "So my little girl is high?"

"They said she's too young to feel the effects," he says. "But because it constricts the nose...they put a couple liquid drops of cocaine in there to try to help get it out."

Learn something new every day.

The ER doc decided, apparently, that since he'd gotten Large Fry in to see the ENT today, and he couldn't work a miracle with his magic paper clip, he wasn't going to try to mess around with the popcorn kernel any more. It's still in her nose, but one wrong move could shove it into her sinus cavity, so he'd rather let the specialist handle it.

It's going to be a fun day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I am never going on vacation again.

Let's sum up, shall we? I'm in sort of a codeine/prednisone-induced fog, so we'll see how well this goes....

I got strep two weeks before we were to leave on vacation. I wish I'd griped when my doctor handed me a prescription for a z-pack. Azithromycin is good stuff. And because it was strep, I didn't quibble. But I was also starting to cough, which is not normally a symptom of strep, so I was afraid I was going to be back in the doctor's office at the end of the next week, announcing the strep had triggered my sinus infection out of dormancy.

We drop the Fries off with my parents two Sundays later, with Small Fry having what the on-call nurse at the pediatrician's office says is the toddler flu bug that's going around. (I was still coughing, but hoped the salty air and the probable amounts of salt water I'd come in contact with would clear out my sinuses.)

Then Mom has to take Small Fry to the clinic on Monday and Wednesday, for bilateral ear infection the first visit and teeth into her tongue the second.

I got back to Mom and Dad's on the fifth, and had a harrowing re-entry into motherhood. I called the pediatrician soon after arriving to arrange a visit for Small Fry's tongue (which now had a nifty little flap sticking up and she wasn't wanting to eat anything that wasn't soft) the next afternoon. Then I got to tell the Fries' father that he couldn't come over to Mom and Dad's to wash clothes in their machines because I was doing MY laundry. He didn't even ask about his kids. I still had my cough, though, which I wasn't too thrilled about.

So, on Wednesday, Mom and I took Small Fry back to Chambersburg to see our pediatrician. Apparently this will take a bit longer than a week to heal completely, and will have to heal from the bottom up. We were advised to keep giving her soft foods and supplement with Pediasure if we were concerned she wasn't getting enough nutrition. And, of course, call if there's anything that concerns us about it again and monitor her tongue for possible infection.

Thursday found me driving back into Chambersburg for my final post-op appointment. I ended up having an hour-long conference call with my office and a caregiver who couldn't get it through her head that, yes, we really did pay her right. (Part of the problem was she had submitted a timesheet with two days on it that weren't even in the pay period, and so she was sure we'd shorted her.) That hour cut into the time I was going to use to go grocery shopping, since the state of our pantry was pathetic, having been pared back to nearly nothing in prep for being gone for nearly two weeks. I barely had time for a mad dash to pick up enough stuff to get me through until Saturday afternoon when I could do a more thorough job after Hubby got home. (I am healing very well, by the way, and beyond the point where doing something stupid could cause me harm. Pain, perhaps, but not harm.)

I managed to avoid getting too sunburned in Florida, but made up for that sitting outside Friday morning with the kids as they played; I didn't plan for us to leave until after lunch. I knew there'd be some separation anxiety, and figured it'd be easier all around if they could nap on the ride home. As it turned out, Large Fry screamed and cried so much for Gramma and Boppa that we had to sit in the driveway for ten minutes while some major-league consoling went on, with Gramma saying she would come see them the next day (which was true; Mom was coming out for the Mother's Day Tea at my church). We finally left, and Large Fry cried and cried and snuffled and I heard the first snore before we got to Rossville, barely six miles from my folks'.

There was much rejoicing when the kids saw Gramma the next day. I put them all in their Easter dresses for the event, so that Gramma could see how cute they are:

But, of course, cuteness is not enough. Mom gave me a framed copy of a picture of all three girls as my Mother's Day gift, and had even enlisted the girls' help in making their card for me. Priceless.

I could have done without the adventure that Medium Fry instigated, though. I had poured a cup of VERY hot water out of the carafe and was trying to get my tea bag loose from the paper wrapping, and I thought the styrofoam cup was far enough away that Medium couldn't reach it, despite being on my lap. Wrong! She went into stealth-toddler, got her little fist around the lip of the cup, and yanked. Towards us, of course. Hot water rushed towards us and Medium screamed as it hit her dress and soaked through to her skin. I had the presence of mind to pull the skirt away from her body and was starting to unbutton it when one of the other ladies dashed over. She's an ER nurse, and she helped me get Medium's dress off and then ran to the kitchen for some dish towels soaked in cool water. We wrapped one around her tummy and draped the other over her legs. I held her as she sniffled and cried and occasionally looked at me with BIG eyes and said, "Hot tea!" Then we went to go find Unca D (who was working in his office during the tea) to get some consoling. (I admit, I needed it too.) Medium Fry turned out to be none the worse for wear, not even a mark by the time we left, and I was glad I'd had the presence of mind to tuck her duckie into the diaper bag before we left the house. I gave that to her when she was done inhaling Ande's mints, and she was out like a light in about two minutes. (Although, hefting around nearly thirty pounds of sleeping Medium Fry is a lot harder than it sounds.)

I made everyone lay down for a nap once we got home, because I needed one too. I slept a lot longer than I thought, and so did the kids, since it was nearly six by the time we all woke up. I was coughing even worse, and then Small Fry felt like a furnace when Hubby brought her in to snuggle with me.

We opted against the Saturday night baths, and I quickly decided that between my hacking cough and elevated temperature and Small Fry's now-confirmed 100+ fever, us girls were not going to church in the morning. Small Fry wouldn't eat or drink, not even her Pediasure, which she loved, by Sunday afternoon. And both Sunday and Monday nights, Hubby had to cradle Small Fry against his chest for several hours until she was out deeply enough to sleep in her crib.

Of course, given that Murphy's Law especially finds its way into life with kids, on Monday I'm coughing so hard I'm shaking the bed, I'm running a fever, my throat's raw, I've got a kid who will hardly eat or drink, and payroll week. So on Monday I went to the walk-in clinic at my doctor's office (helpfully, my friend Jay said it was just a hairball and I should hack it up), only to have them confirm Jay's diagnosis and tell me I'm just broncho-spastic and not in need of an antibiotic. Which, of course, does not explain my fever or the stuff getting hacked out of my chest along with my lungs trying to work their way out, too. But whatever. Cough syrup with codeine (I was advised to use it for nighttime), tessalon pearls, and a tapering course of prednisone to settle down, relax and open up my poor, overworked and overwrought bronchioles.

Tuesday, I'm calling the pediatrician for Small Fry. Again. We get a morning appointment, and surprise, surprise. Small's got strep! No wonder she wouldn't eat or drink. Her throat hurts too much. Back to Target for more drugs. I get everyone down for naps and spend an hour and a half trying to fix my printer, getting it all back together and then realizing I'm going to have to go up and cuddle Small Fry so she'll actually get a little of a nap. Her crying has awakened Medium Fry now, who sits there and jabbers at me while I get Small to doze for about thirty minutes. Better than nothing. And then Medium makes a weird, out-of-the-blue comment. "My neck hurts," she says, and points to the side, near as I can tell, when I ask where. She doesn't say anything else, and so I dismiss it, but I know how contagious strep is, and I make a mental note to check later.

"Later" comes about 6:45 that night, after Hubby has gone off to rehearsal. My throat is burning like it's on fire every time I cough, which is often, I'm living on cough drops, Small Fry is clingy and feverish and we've watched Cinderella six times so far in the last two days. And Medium Fry says it again. "My neck hurts." Okay, she's not one to volunteer odd information, her random quotes of "Daniel prayed to God" notwithstanding, so I carefully watch her and ask where. She immediately taps her throat.


I fetch the flashlight. Sure enough, red at the back of her throat, white patchy tongue, really mild fever. And I remember, she didn't eat her lunch. At all. She ate dinner, but then, pizza apparently has it all over PB&J. I call the pediatrician's answering service, who put me in touch with the on-call nurse, who in turn calls the on-call doctor, and then the nurse calls me back to say they've called in a script for Medium Fry.

Goody. Just ONE problem.

I am housebound. Hubby's got the car.

Hmmm. Call Friend 1. She's not home. Call Friend 2, S. The one who's done so many zillion favors for me since the surgery that I didn't call her first because I hated to ask for one MORE thing. I explain my situation; I need either her or her hubby, T, to go to Target and pick up Medium's script. Thankfully, the military health insurance the kids are under means that the script will cost less than $5. She agrees to send T over, and there's no small amount of confusion when he asks for Medium's script by our last name as opposed to the girls'. But he's able to get it, and swings it right by the house, and I promptly go shoot the first dose into Medium's mouth. After all, Boppa is coming to visit in the morning (Gramma is too sick to come) to help me out because it's payroll week and I'm on the verge of coming unglued. I tell T I'd invite him in, but I haven't fumigated yet, and he laughs. I thank him profusely and say I'll get their three bucks to them soon enough. I have such wonderful friends.

I got about four and a half hours of sleep after I finished work for the night before Small Fry woke, screaming, and Medium Fry (who sleeps through darn near anything) woke up screaming right afterwards.

Dad is pulling into the driveway yesterday morning as I'm on the phone with Mom, confirming that what I saw in the sink that morning (after discourteously shoving Large Fry out of the way because I was coughing too hard to say any words) is definitely a good reason to call the doctor back and explain I've got two kids down with strep, my throat is STILL killing me, I'm living on cough drops and cold drinks (they feel good on my poor throat), and now I've got definitive proof there's some kind of infection lurking somewhere. Would they be good enough to call in an antibiotic for me so that I don't have to go back in and be seen? The PA I saw on Monday, of course, does not come in until noon. The nurse calls me back and says he's approved a z-pack script for me.


I kindly explain to the nurse that I would much prefer something else, and something for ten days. She kindly explains back, in that I-can't-believe-you're-questioning-this tone, that azithromycin stays in the system for ten days after you're done. I know that, I say. But not only did I just have a z-pack for strep a scant month ago, but I know my sinus icks, and they do not respond well to z-packs. The nurse counters that this is the favored antibiotic for both strep and sinus infections. I point out that the last time I took a z-pack for a sinus infection, I was back in the office two weeks later with a nasty ear infection, and I want to be sure this combo platter I've got cooking is going to be GONE. She says she'll check with him and call me back. I have learned well to be proactive about my health from my mother, I guess, because when the nurse calls back a few minutes later, she says I've got a ten-day course of Avelox waiting for me. I thank her profusely, and finish payroll while Boppa, wearing a mask and toting his Purell, makes PB&J sandwiches (I figured he could handle that) and supervises lunch. Medium is begging to go to sleep by the time I'm done, so I just take her right up to bed. She whimpers that she wants her twin upstairs next, and I say that's what we're doing. By the time I get the kids in bed and see Dad off (Mom was giving him step-by-step instructions for how to de-germ himself before leaving the house, and so I offered to spray Lysol ahead of him the whole way out, which got us a good laugh), I figure I now need a nap.

However, it was not to be. Stupid prednisone. Mom's taken enough of that; she warned me that it would give me trouble sleeping. Even with the drowsiness from the codeine in the cough syrup, I can't nod off. I hear Hubby get home and mosey down the stairs about twenty minutes later to go back to Target yet again.

As I walk up to the counter to pick up my meds, the tech says, "I'll be right with you." I wearily looked at her. "I'm getting really tired of seeing you guys," I say. The pharmacist on duty chuckles; she's not the one who's been there the last two days, but she is the one who was on duty the Sunday before we left for vacation and I came in and picked up four prescriptions. "You're never going to go on vacation again," she comments. "No kidding." I sign for and pay for my drugs. "I'll probably be back in a few days; I think my three-year-old is next." The ladies commiserate, and I quickly swing through the grocery section to pick up some stuff for dinner, hoping lasagna will entice Small Fry to actually eat. I forget to get more cough drops, which I'm running woefully low on. The kids nap for quite a long time, and they end up going to bed late, and I'm so frazzled that I called and snapped at Hubby that he'd better be on his way home soon and that tomorrow he can't go to rehearsal with the guys because (a) we've got two sick kids, and (b) I need a day to spend in bed trying to recuperate. And then I hang up. I do billing and drag myself up to bed, only to not be able to sleep. At 1:15a, I'm in the car, driving to Giant, hoping they're open 24 hours, not caring how I look, and buying cough drops.

I didn't realize until this morning that I bought the ice blue ones rather than the straight menthol that I normally prefer. I do not care.

Hubby chastises me when I try to get out of bed; I explain I've still got to write the employee newsletter. I take my laptop back to bed with me and I've spent the whole day here. Mostly here, anyway. I could tell first thing this morning that I'd done the right thing in calling the doctor and getting meds for me; I felt better this morning than I had in days. Still coughing, but not as often, not as hard, and it doesn't feel like liquid fire in my throat like it used to. Strep and a sinus infection. Am I good or what?

So, I've spent the day writing the newsletter, answering a few calls, trying to nap and feeling drowsy enough to do so but apparently too loaded on prednisone to actually heed the call of the codeine, playing horribly at Bejeweled Blitz!, and reading all of maybe six pages in the mystery paperback that I bought last week. I just can't get into it, even though the story is good so far. Mika periodically comes in to check on me and snuggle, but he seems to know I'm not as bad off as I was yesterday, when I thought for sure he'd walk off me in a huff after shaking him so badly as I coughed. Today he's not so tolerant of my coughing earthquake messing up his cuddle time.

Thankfully, today is the first step-down day on the tapering of the prednisone, so I don't have to take anything close to bedtime like I did last night (probably part of my problem). And it's time for more cough syrup. (It's really weird having to squirt that stuff into my throat with a syringe like I do for the kids.)

So...you can see...vacation is apparently a bad idea. Or at least, a two-week one is. I'm going to heed the call of the codeine and try to get some sleep. Thankfully, I know that laying in bed and resting is almost as good as sleep when you're sick, and I'm immensely grateful that Hubby munchkin-wrangled by himself for the whole day.