Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh, THAT'll be interesting.

Ever since Peter introduced me to Apocalyptica awhile back, I've been hooked.  There are some days that only the ironic marriage of hard rock and a quartet of cellos will soothe.

Weird, isn't it?

I never said I was normal.

I downloaded mp3s for my player, and then burned a CD for those rare times when I'm driving and feel the need to listen to their stuff.  I deliberately chose to put only the instrumental stuff on the CD, in case the kids were in the van with me.  A group that started out as a Metallica cover band...well, I don't need little kids exposed to harsh lyrics.

Heck, I don't need to be exposed to harsh lyrics.

But I do love their music.

Today, in the van on the way to Lowe's, I had my Apocalyptica mix in the CD player.  It was cued up to the song that got me hooked in the first place.

As the song finished, and the final strains faded, Large Fry asked, "Mommy, can we listen to that again?  I like that song!"

Well, sure!  Like I'm gonna object to listening to one of my favorite songs again.

"We should play this in church!" Large gushed enthusiastically.  "Let's do that!  We'll bring it in to church!"

"Hmmmm," I murmured, trying to be noncommittal.

"Mommy, we should sing this in church!"

I tried not to laugh, but it was hard.

"You'll have to ask Daddy after he gets back," I finally said.

"This is a great song!  We should really sing it in church!"

What song?

I'm so glad you asked.

I never looked up the lyrics because I didn't want to ruin my own enjoyment of the song.  (Don't burst my bubble now.)

This is what was playing:

APOCALYPTICA from giorgoskappa on Vimeo.

TSME, Day Two

Misadventures of the day (so far; it's not bedtime yet):

  • Explained to Small Fry that I didn't care if she didn't like her non-Dora panties.  She still had to wear them.
  • Held a very hectic Skype call with Hubby as I cajoled (with great volume and gusto) the girls to actually eat breakfast.
  • Walked a happy, bopping, perfectly fine Large Fry across the street to school.
  • Drove the twins to preschool, despite major meltdowns from both, who were angry at me and  wanted Daddy to come save them from Meanie Mommy.  Especially when I shouted at Small Fry to get out of the driver's seat of the van and into her carseat so that I could drive them, not her.  I am so evil, I know.  (I'd told her to get in and get buckled, which she the driver's seat...and locked the door so I couldn't get in and make her move.)
  • Came home and had breakfast myself, then crashed, making a mental note to vacuum when I got up (again).
  • Mom called.  Large Fry's school had called her after not being able to reach me, telling her that Large Fry was in the nurse's office, had been for the past hour, and was complaining that her belly hurt.  With no fever.  And obligatory whimpering and poor-me moaning.
  • Called the nurse back.  Explained that Daddy is away and this is probably what's causing half of Large's issues.  The rest of it...well, some applesauce will probably fix it.  We determined I would come get her anyway, and I figured that I would just force Large Fry to sit and do nothing when I knew she felt fine.
  • Walked back to get Large Fry and updated my cell number with the school office.
  • Picked up papers and stuff on the floor and started a load of whites.  Ran vacuum on the kitchen level.  Determined fast that a Bissell upright is not designed to be used on stairs, and replacing the now-dead Shark we had (which would have worked great) is now a priority.
  • Vacuumed foyer on entry level, and wondered about suction problems and dust cup issues.  Discover major fur buildup, and spend a good five minutes pulling it out.
  • Called to Large Fry, asking her to bring up the dustbuster from the kitchen.  Commence pitiful whining and moaning about how much her belly hurts.  (I make her do it anyway.)
  • Finish vacuuming house.  Marvel at how much better vacuum works now that it doesn't have two kittens' worth of fur stuck way up inside.
  • Write brief grocery list.  Pack Large Fry into van and off to Lowe's.
  • Find portable, stair-easy vac...but of course the only model they have is the display, and the powerhead attachment that I need isn't there.  (This is what online shopping is for.)
  • Next stop, Walmart.  Groceries.  Happy Large Fry, who is thrilled at the idea of pizza muffins for dinner tonight.
  • Upon seeing the time, decide to stop at preschool/daycare and pick up twin Fries.  Due to overcast skies and impending storms, Large Fry gets carsick on the seven-minute drive between Walmart and preschool.  (Thankfully, she had her plastic 32-oz cup to use...which we keep in the van--times three--for just these reasons.)
  • Pry twin Fries away from their buddies at preschool, and defuse fight between twins over how Medium's picture, done at the library today on a field trip, somehow got wet because of Small's.  Small Fry says she had an accident today, so her nap stuff needs to be washed.  Yay.  Herded them out to the van.
  • Started van.  Large let out a little cry and said, "My throw up!"  She'd been holding the cup between her knees--I didn't want to dump it on the preschool's parking lot--and knocked it over.  Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.  (I have a really strong gag reflex, so this is not something I handle well.)  Shut off van, cleaned up mess as best as possible, gagged a lot, nearly puked myself, and got back behind the wheel.  Home, James.
  • Unloaded kids, groceries, and assorted kid detritus.  Took wet washcloth out to scrub floor carpeting.  Put groceries away.  Approved bike-riding for twins, provided they stayed in our yard (unlike yesterday).  Had Large Fry change her clothes.  She opted for jammies; I opted not to fight the idea.  Started another load of laundry.  Attempted to, anyway.
  • Small Fry rings doorbell to get me to come open the screen door.  Sigh.  Medium does the same, at a different door.  (Mental note: get different bells for front and back doors.)  While in the laundry room, Medium comes in to inform me, panicked, that Small is in the street with her bike.  And apparently can't get out of the street.  I'm seeing my youngest, crashed in the middle of the road, scrapes, blood, impending doom with incoming cars, in my mind's eye.  Nope, just at the end of the driveway, where the sidewalk curb drops to street level.  And without a helmet.  Yay.  Everybody back into the back yard; no, you may not ride on the sidewalk along the house.
  • Laundry again...I'm still trying to get that load going.  Medium rings the bell and finally figures out the door isn't locked and she can open it and comes downstairs to the laundry room, saying that Small fell over the edge.  (With my sanity, perhaps?)  Assuming correctly that Medium meant the edge of the old greenhouse platform by the driveway, which has about an 18-inch drop down to the graveled parking area, I went running.  "And she has blood!"  Sure enough, Small had ripped a very small gash in her palm.  Antibiotic ointment and a bandaid...and a call to Daddy.
  • Mostly emptied dishwasher, and started a movie for the twin Fries (and Large, who I kept poking to wake her up).  While I listened to the owl rasp out to Ernie and tell him to "Put down the duckie," I started working on dinner.  Small came out and put silverware away; Large and Medium helped assemble pizza muffins.
  • Oreos for dessert (the pizza muffins were, thankfully, a huge hit), with a homework chaser for Large Fry.  I sent the twins to get ready for bed while I supervised homework, and then had them put away the clothes in their bins.
  • I still have laundry to do, and the dishwasher to run, kitties to feed, boxes to scoop, and trash to get out.  I'm going to die before bed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Single-Mommy Experiment, Day One

We all loaded up in the van this morning at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. (I prefer to only acknowledge one 5:30 per day, and that's not it), to take Hubby down to KSC in our old town, where he met up with the other youth pastors who were piling into KSC's big white van and driving down to Daytona Beach.

Sufferin' for da Lawd, they are.

I have no sympathy.

Innyhoo...there were tears and wails as we left Daddy behind.  Even the Hug Bears were of little comfort on the ride home.

It's worth pointing out here that the Hug Bears--which Hubby had hugged for each Fry, to "give" a hug from Daddy when they missed him this week--are all actually mine, and none of them are what you'd call small.  These are bears half the size of the Fries.

We got back to the house, and since the Fries were all still in jammies, and since the second service at church didn't start until 11a, and since it wasn't even 6:30a yet, I said we could all go pile in my bed.

As long as they were quiet, and went back to sleep.

And didn't horse around.

And didn't wrestle.

And were still.

So, there we were: one adult, one almost-seven-year-old, and five-and-a-half-year-old twins, in a queen-sized bed.  With three large teddy bears and two full-size Pillow Pets.

Crowded is an understatement.

I managed to sleep.

Sort of.

I don't think they did.

When we got up, the twins apparently attacked the box of mini powdered-sugar donuts that we'd picked up at Sheetz when Hubby stopped there for coffee before meeting up with the guys at KSC.  I was upstairs in the master bath, doing my hair, when Medium came up to tattle.

Tattling is an Olympic sport in our house, and all three of my kids are medalists.

Medium Fry: Mommy, Small Fwy frew donut cwumbs at me!

I called the other two usual suspects upstairs, and we had a brief discussion over who is in charge, and whether or not Large Fry gets to let Medium Fry countermand my orders (I had said not to touch the donuts until I got downstairs).  All of this, mind you, is while I'm still holding--and using--a very hot curling iron.

As much as I'm able to, I skewer Small Fry with a look.

Me: Small, did you throw donut crumbs at Medium?

Small Fry: Yes.

Me: Why did you throw donut crumbs at her?

Small: Becawse I fot she was a wreal donut!

Yeah.  It's a miracle I didn't burn myself.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It starts.

Hubby leaves tomorrow for a "business" trip.  I use the term loosely, because I know where he's going and what he's doing: heading to Florida with a bunch of other youth pastors for our denomination's annual youth workers' summit.

His life is so hard.

Even his bemoaning the need for nose plugs for the van ride home (with half a dozen smelly youth pastors, after a week near the beach, where I know full well they will have access to showers), I do not feel much sympathy for him.

The Fries are not real thrilled with the fact that Daddy is going to be gone for six days.

I really hope it doesn't storm.  Only Daddy is brave enough and strong enough to protect against thunderstorms.


We both tucked in the kids tonight, which is the way we used to do it when the Fries first invaded our lives, and then we had to stop, because I couldn't do the stairs more than absolutely necessary during my post-auto-wreck recovery, and there were days that my ankle just throbbed so badly that Hubby had to while I kept my foot propped up and wrapped in a hot rice bag.

But I digress.

We've started tucking the kids in together again, when we're able to.

After I left the twins' room, Hubby was reminding (and encouraging) both of them to be good for Mommy this week while he was away....

Hubby: And if you're really good, I'll bring you back something from Florida.

[Right.  He'll do that anyway.  He's a softie.]

Medium Fry: It bettewr be somefing cool.

Hubby gaped.

Medium: Like a fan.

Last-minute reprieve there for Hubby, I think.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I'll let you know when the tickets go on sale.

Small Fry:  Mommy?  Can you be Goldilocks?

Me: Not right now, honey.  Mommy needs to lay down for awhile.

Small Fry:  Okay.


Small Fry [loudly]: Daddy, can you be Goldilocks?

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Four-Hour Nap

And I'm still exhausted.

The last four days have been extremely hard on the emotions and on the body as a result.

I'm so tired, my heart aches, and I miss my kitty.

I might go to bed after I tuck the kids in.

Provided I can get Pa'ani off my foot, that is....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indulge me.

Medium, Duckie & Po

Yes, you're cute.

Medium & Po, 2008

Large Fry & Po, July 2007

Po has very discriminating taste.

Medium lavished love on Po, who took it.

Hubby and Po.  She always was a "hip" cat.

Under the Christmas tree, 2008

Po was not going to let a sick Large Fry take HER spot.


Small, Medium and Po, June 2009.  This was such huge progress.


Exploring the new house with Small Fry.


Approving the Christmas decorations.

Under the tree, December 2011
Po and me after tree trimming, December 2011

One of her very last pictures.

I miss my kitty.

Another Guest Post

Large Fry drew this picture of Popoki about ten days ago.  She asked me to post it.

All I did...

...was refill the water dishes.

That's it.

And the grief came rushing back.

For the first time in seven and a half years, Popoki wasn't there to meow incessantly at me as the pitcher filled and try to stick her head into the pitcher as I poured the water into the bowls.  She wasn't there lurking, hoping that me going into the downstairs half bath meant that I was going to give her more water.

I came up to get myself some lunch and saw her last vial of insulin in the fridge.

Oh, my heart hurts.

Guest Post by Large Fry

Large Fry loves & misses Popoki.

Day One

I am exhausted, which isn't surprising.  Even after Hubby and I went to bed last night, we stayed up talking, finally able to talk and express what we were each going through.

Hubby confessed that he was very concerned about something.  He didn't think Large Fry had cried at all since we broke the news to the kids that Popoki had died.  It worried him.  He wasn't sure what she felt, and the Worry Gremlins were out in force over what Large's lack of reaction could mean.

I figured she was just still processing things in her own mind, and the grief would come later.

I should give myself a gold star.

Since Large seemed to be handling the news well enough, the plan was for her to go to school today as usual.

As we left the house to walk across the street to the school, Large said, "I want to go see Popo."

"Okay," I said.

She skipped across the yard to the corner where we buried Po yesterday. She stood there quietly for about a minute, and I waited on the patio for her to come back.  Her return wasn't as cheery as her journey out, and I just knew.  Even her walk was somber.

I held out an arm as Large approached me.  "Are you okay?"

Large shook her head...and the grief seemed to hit like a freight train.  She sobbed.  I wrapped my arms around her and just held on.

After a minute, Large stepped back and took my hand, and we started walking to school.  She cried the whole way there.  I stopped on the steps by the side entrance to the school and sat down with her.  "Do you want to go to school today?"

Large shook her head.  I hugged her close, and said that it was okay; she didn't have to go to school.  The school counselor was standing out at the curb with another teacher, meeting the students getting off the buses, and I walked over to her.  I explained that I was taking Large Fry home, that she had finally processed yesterday's events enough that the grief had finally made an appearance.  She nodded in understanding and said she would tell Large Fry's teacher.

We walked home, and I put her lunch in the fridge while she hung up her coat and backpack and took off her shoes.

Then I ushered her upstairs to Hubby.

He sat up in bed as we walked in, Large Fry still sobbing.  "What's wrong?"

"Guess whose grief hit today."

Hubby reached for Large, bringing her up on the bed and holding her close.

She whimpered Po's name and cried some more.  Hubby just hugged her more.

And the words finally tumbled out.  "I loved her so much!"

I thought my heart would break into smithereens.

The twins soon joined us, wanting to know what was wrong with their big sister.  They clambered up on the bed with us.

As Large Fry's tears subsided under Hubby's loving attention, he started to talk about some of our favorite memories of Po... when she used to play fetch with crumpled up paper balls as a kitten. being scared of Keiki, when we first brought a very tiny Ke home. the time we took a trip to Hubby's parents' home, and brought Po with us, and she yowled in the carrier until we let her out (such bad cat parents, I know), and she wasn't content to rest on a pillow on my lap; she had to settle in on Hubby's shoulder, while he drove with his arm out straight and hand on top of the wheel, where she proceeded to take a 45-minute nap.

Medium talked about how much she loved Po, petting her and hugging her and kissing her.

Large tearfully recalled how much she loved it when Po would get decorated...with tiaras, with beads, with Duckie.

There have been tears this morning.  There have been smiles.  We've talked about how it hurts, and it's okay to be sad.

I went through my picture files and copied all the ones of Po into a special folder, so I can make a collage to have framed.  Large wanted to see certain pictures of herself with Po as I worked.

Then we went through the pictures I took yesterday afternoon.  She cried quietly as we looked at them.  "Are you sure you want to see these?" I asked her.  She nodded.  We looked through them, and then, as I prepared to write this post, she wanted to know if she could draw a picture in the white field.

I said no; I couldn't make it draw pictures there.  But she could draw a picture, and I would take a photo of it, and post it for her.  She liked that idea.

I miss my kitty.

I hurt, for myself and for my kids.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wait. What?

I'm tucking the twins in to bed tonight.  Medium Fry is having an especially hard time, wanting to have Popoki with her again.  She was in tears, telling me that she can't sleep without Po.

Small, Medium & Po (June 2009)
It was awful.

She was so upset.

I wanted so badly to make it better, and I can't.

I did the only thing I could.  I held her, we cried, and I prayed.  I firmly believe that, since God has promised that heaven will hold all that we need, Popoki will be there.

And so we talked to Jesus.  I told him how much we hurt, how much we miss Po, and how we wish we could hug and pet her again.  I asked him to watch over her for us, and to pet her head, scritch behind her ears and under her chin, and tell her how much we love and miss her.  And I desperately prayed that my sobbing little girl would be comforted.

I found Medium's stuffed kitty that she got for Christmas, Cobbler, and and told her to snuggle with him.

"I want my kitty with the white tummy, that's my Popo."


"I think it might be undewr my bed."

That's where I found it, and I handed it to her.  I managed to get her to lay down in bed and pulled the covers up.

I turned to Small Fry, who had hidden under her covers.

I heaved out a mock sigh.  "Well, I guess I don't have to tuck a Small Fry in after all," I said with great exaggeration.  She giggled and whipped the covers back.

"Popo will come back in fwree days?"

For a moment, my mind boggled.  Easter.  Oy.  Um, Po was certainly not the Christ.  "No, honey. She's not coming back in three days.  She's in heaven now, and she's going to stay there."

Small Fry's face turned impish.  "Fouwr days?"

"No.  She's not coming back."


I shook my head again.  She's bargaining with me?  Really?

"Ten?  Twelve?  Fouwrteen?  Fifteen?"

"No, honey.  Po isn't coming back.  She's in heaven with Jesus."

"How many days 'til she comes back?"

"She's not coming back."  I pulled up the covers.  "She has to stay in heaven now."

I moved to the door.  "Goodnight."  I didn't want to have this debate now.


 I looked at Medium.

"You fowrgot to say 'Now I Lay Me.'"

I recited the rote prayer with them.



Medium looked at me with great concern.  "You fowrgot to pway that I'd have good dweams."

"No, I didn't.  I prayed for that for both of you when we talked to God about Po."

"You hafta do Medium fuwrst," Small intoned seriously.  "Den me.  Dat's how you'wre supposed to do it.  Sep'wrate."

I smothered a chuckle, marveling at the resilience of children and their insistence on crazy routines. "Goodnight."

Not Enough French Fries in the World

"So it's a mouth problem?" Dr. Peter asked.

I was trying to hold the tears at bay, sniffling, and failing.  "I found a mass in her mouth."

You could see the light dawn.

He took Popoki out to weigh her.  I was surprised to learn that she'd only lost about a pound; it seemed to be so much more.

I explained how I'd found the mass yesterday afternoon.  He peered into her ears, and inspected her gums before opening her mouth.

And he delivered the verdict I knew was coming: cancer.

"Mouth cancers are especially nasty and aggressive," he said.  "It's on both sides of her mouth right now, and the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck are enlarged, so they're already involved.  It's probably spreading down her neck."  The tumor was on both sides of her gums, literally wrapped around a tooth.

He went on to tell us that there were treatment options, but it would mean major surgery, removing part of her mandible to be sure we got it all, and chemo, which would only make her feel worse.  And it might buy her another six months.

"It would extend her life, but she would be enduring chemo and surgery."

"No, she won't," Hubby said quietly.

Dr. Peter said that, despite Po's stoic manner, she was probably experiencing pain already.  Clearly the cancer had impacted her ability to eat; the weight loss demonstrated that.

"I don't want her to suffer," I said through my tears.

"I think you're making the right choice," Dr. Peter said, his eyes full of empathy.  "If this was my kitty, it's what I'd do."

Dr. Peter asked if we wanted to take her home for a few more days, say our last goodbyes.

Tears streamed down my face.  "There's not going to ever be a good time to do this."

He nodded in sympathy, and went to collect the necessary paperwork and supplies, and gave us a few minutes alone with Popoki.

I held her and cried.  She purred.  I apologized, feeling a horrible guilt that it had come to this.  I cried some more.  I whispered how much I loved her.  Hubby wrapped his arms around us both and we cried some more.

Dr. Peter and the tech came back in, and offered to give us a few more minutes.  A glance at the clock told me we didn't have that kind of time.  We had another 35-40 minutes before we had to pick up Large Fry from school and get her to her counseling appointment.

Hubby signed the paperwork, agreeing that we had asked for this final procedure.

I stroked Po's head and scratched behind her ears, letting the tears fall as Dr. Peter carefully shaved back a small area of fur on Po's hind leg.  I was thankful for the good vein he found.  I continued to cry as I watched the barbiturate overdose take over.  Po's eyes glazed and she went limp.

I think she was gone before Dr. Peter even finished giving the injection.

I cried harder; I knew she was gone.

Dr. Peter pressed his stethoscope against Po's chest and belly.  He confirmed what I knew in my heart with a sad nod.  "No heartbeat.  It usually happens by the time I finish my injection."

I was glad it was mercifully brief.

Dr. Peter and the tech helped us tuck Po's body into a box so that we could bring her home.  When we got home, I took Large to her counseling appointment and then picked up the twins afterward.

Hubby had taken the time to wrap Po up in one of his old shirts.

And we broke the news to the twins (Hubby had told Large while I got the twins), who bawled.

"I didn't want her to get sick and die!" Medium wailed, heartbroken.

I started crying again for what felt like the zillionth time today.  "I didn't, either, honey," I whispered.

Hubby had already dug a hole in the ground in the corner of the yard.

The kids all wanted to see her to say goodbye.  Hubby opened up the cardboard box and pulled back his shirt to show Po, curled up in the box that was just barely big enough for her.  I couldn't help but think of all the times that she decided to curl up in a box that was too small for her to really fit in.

All three kids stroked Po's head and shoulders one last time.  There were lots of sniffles and tears.  They all wrote with a Sharpie on the flat stone Hubby had found and dried in the oven briefly.

And doing our own take on a Mennonite custom, we all took turns shoveling dirt, burying our beloved friend.

It was, by far, the worst thing I've chronicled.  Was it morbid that I took pictures?  I don't know.  But I did know that, even through the awful grief we're all feeling right now, the kids would need to know they helped.  They'd need to see that proof.

They picked dandelions to lay on the grave after Medium had tearfully placed the stone marker over the grave.  Hubby picked some yellow tulips for us girls to put there, too.

My heart has a gaping hole in it.

The sharpness of the grief has faded (unless Medium starts wailing again as she processes through her own grief); it's more like a heavy blanket over my soul.  The grief of my children is hard to bear, because, in so many ways, it feels like it's my fault they're grieving, and I can't fix it or make it better, and that's almost worse than my own grief.

Our friend Jester suggested an ice cream party to celebrate Po's life.

I might have to take him up on that.  In a few days.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I am dreading tomorrow's appointment at the vet's.

I've been noticing some weird stuff with Popoki in the last month or so, beyond her startling weight loss.

Cats don't drool like Hooch.

Cats don't get runny noses.

Healthy ones don't, anyway.

Today, while Po was demanding affection, I again noticed some of the odd symptoms.  Why on earth does she have blood around her mouth?

I pinched her jaw to force her mouth open.  Unsure of what I saw, and with Po fighting me (she did not enjoy this insult to her feline sensibilities), I grabbed her in a different hold, pinched her jaw open again, and felt my heart break.

I looked over at Hubby, tears already filling my eyes.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I think she has a tumor in her mouth."

"WHAT?"  Hubby immediately shifted position on the couch to let me bring Po over and sit so I could show him.

I forced her mouth open again.

Yep, I wasn't seeing things.

"Oh, my," Hubby breathed.

I released Po to go soothe her own ruffled feathers (so to speak) and couldn't stop the tears as I emailed my best friend.  I wanted to kick myself, because I'd noticed the odd symptoms in the last month or so, and hadn't done anything about it.

I'm smart enough to realize that a month, maybe two, wouldn't really change the outcome.

Po is fourteen.

She doesn't need or deserve to have surgery to remove the tumor, cauterize the vessels feeding it, only to wait for it to grow back.

It's just a matter now of when.

I managed to put the waterworks on hold and called the vet, scheduling an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

"Do you need me to go with you?" Hubby asked quietly.

I nodded, sobbing.

I heard him talking to Large Fry, who had witnessed my breakdown, and urging her to draw a picture.

"Hey," Hubby said, grabbing my attention.  "If anything happens, we bring her home."

I looked at him in confusion.

"We bring her home," he insisted, his tone gentle.  "We have a yard now."

I swallowed hard and managed a nod.

How are we supposed to explain to the kids what's happening?

How do we not let them say goodbye, especially Medium Fry?

How do I tell Medium Fry that her best fwiend is mortally ill?

Popoki and me, Christmas 2011
Fourteen is a good long life.  Not as long as my friend Mille's kitties, who both hit 24, but it's a good long life...especially when the kitty in question has been diabetic for nearly half her life.

I don't deny that I want it to be longer.

But I also can't deny that I've noticed the changes in my beloved friend.  The way she is suddenly more social, more willing to and actually wanting to come spend time with us, just sitting on the couch.  The way that she's started to run from her insulin injections, when she used to tolerate them just fine.

The end is near.  I've known that for awhile.

Clearly, Po knows it too.

It's just that near is suddenly a lot closer than I want it to be.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Medium Fry: Lawrge Fwy, will you listen to me?

Large Fry: No, I need to focuntrate!


"When I take a bite, my toof huwrts."  Medium pauses in eating her PB&J sandwich to tell me this.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"I fink it was fwom when we were at our old house."

"I don't think so."

Medium begins to tell a rambling tale about her hurting tooth and how she fell at our old house and how that happened and how this is why her tooth hurts now.

And then she tries to take another bite.

And screams.

I call her over.

She's crying.  "It bwoke!  My toof bwoke!"

"Let me see."

She opened her mouth and I peered inside.


What do you know?

Medium has her first loose tooth, the same one that Large lost first.  And peeking in behind it, just barely having breached the gums, is her permanent tooth.

"It didn't break, honey.  You have your first loose tooth!"

Her eyes widened and a grin split her face.  "YAAAAAAAY!"

She was so excited it took me a few minutes to get her calmed down enough to remind her that she still needed to eat her sandwich.

"How?  Do I eat on da side?"

"Yes, honey."

As I finished making my own dinner (I was not in a PB&J mood), Medium bopped into the kitchen.  "I wanna call Gwramma.  Can we call Gwramma?"

"Of course."  We have to call Gramma.  She has a tooth tin to make!

And I apparently need to go to the post office tomorrow and get some dollar coins.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Letter to my Friend Airman

I have avoided saying anything up 'til this point, because I know it will fall on deaf ears...and possibly hostile ones.

I do not want to cause you more trouble, and nor do I want to do something that will fry the last tenuous connection in our friendship, but I promised you I would speak out.  I promised I would remind you.  I promised.  And I promised because you asked me to.  Don't let me forget, you said.  Promise me.  Remind me why I left.

My gut-level reaction is to not even bother.  After all, our friendship has drifted so far from where it was.  I'm no longer one of your five-finger friends.  Your husband does not value my opinions--indeed, he values none but his own--and I'm sure he would do or say whatever he needed to in order to convince you that I'm wrong.  Not only wrong, but stupid.  Why should I waste my breath when you'll ignore me?

But I promised.  Even my husband reminded me of that.  He cares about you, too.  He knows I don't take a promise lightly, even though he understood my hesitation.  You promised, he reminded me.  You need to consider that.

I promised I would remind you of why you left him.

I should have said something long before now.

I should have said something when you obviously were spending more time with him, more than just "because I like his company, when I can have it on my terms."

I should have said something on your third anniversary, a few weeks ago, when you said on Facebook about how much you love him and how much you realized you wanted to be married to him, and your other friends' collective reaction was, "Awwww, how sweet."

They were not the ones you called, in tears, to tell me the latest insults your "loving" husband had heaped on you.  They were not the ones you wrote to, via snail mail, to keep him from reading your private communications...because he was monitoring your cell's texts, your Facebook private messages, your Facebook wall, your email accounts.  They were not the ones who you begged to remind you of why you left.

They can think it's sweet.

Because they didn't provide a shoulder for your tears, advice, sympathy, empathy, righteous indignation on your behalf over his treatment of you.

That was me.

I'm not egotistical enough to believe I'm the only one you vented to.  I know I wasn't.  I also know I'm not the only one concerned over your announcement on Facebook that you're moving back in with your emotionally- and mentally-abusive husband.  But I took calls, I cried with you, I cried for you, I chatted with you on Skype.  I did my best, despite the 300+ miles between us, to be there for you.

I also know that these friends who commented about how sweet it was that you still want to be married to your abusive husband are likely more his friends than truly yours.  And, true to form, they wouldn't think for a minute that the man who calls you "kitten" has also called you terrible names; told you you're worthless and can't do anything right; told you that you're such a horrible mother that your son will be a criminal, your oldest daughter will become a hooker, and your middle daughter will run away by age 15; that you're so inept your dreams will never amount to anything; and that you are a complete and utter failure.  This is the same man who's told you that it only took you a year to learn how to wake him up the right way.  This is the man who tells you that you can't even do laundry right, and calls you by your daughter's name to emphasize his point that you're too stupid to be a functional adult.  This is the man who wants to determine who can be your friends, and doesn't trust you enough to have any friends that he doesn't rubber-stamp.  Especially friends who are men.  I'm pretty sure I am also on his list of unapproved friends.

This is the man who will spew out vitriol on anyone who dares to disagree with him.  This is the man who can't handle anyone who disagrees with him, so he belittles them and makes fun of them and calls them names and insults them.  And he does this to people he actually calls his friends!  Those who disagree with him, especially in areas of religion, are branded as stupid and mindless at best, child abusers at worst (yes, I have not forgotten his Facebook post, claiming that those who raise their children in the church are committing child abuse).  I have not come across another person yet who has been so angry, all of the time, at so many people, like he is.  He has bashed your heritage--a heritage that, while I disagree with its tenets, is still your heritage and I respect that--so much and so well that you have now turned your back on your faith.  He's alienated you from your family, and, I think, deliberately so.

He forced you to write apologies to friends for "lies" that you told them.  I got one of those.  You weren't confessing anything I didn't already know; there was no "wrong" between us in that respect.  But he told you that you were such a horrible person and had lied to so many people for so long that you needed to apologize to five friends a day for an entire week, in writing, for your "lies."  He monitored your Facebook messages and email accounts to make sure you apologized to enough people each day.  If you didn't show the messages to him to prove you did it, he was going to leave you, take you to court, and do everything in his power to hurt you.

He scares your three oldest kids.  They don't like him.  I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like anyone you married that isn't their dad, but I know they don't like him.  Little kids are pretty good judges of character, and while your middle daughter is older than all three of my kids, she's still young enough that she's not fooled by your husband.

He blames you for everything that went wrong in your relationship.  Oh, I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around.  There always is in a marriage.  But that doesn't excuse his abuse.  It doesn't excuse him congratulating you for taking "only a year" to learn something he thinks you should have mastered long before.  It doesn't excuse his micro-managing of your friends and his isolation of you from your family.  It doesn't excuse his constant belittling.  It doesn't excuse his controlling behavior.  It doesn't excuse his emotional abuse that's so severe that you wish he would just hit you, because the physical pain and the bruise would at least give you proof of what he's doing.  It doesn't excuse his threats to emotionally rape you in court, filing for sole custody of your daughter because you're such a terrible mother and person...and then emotionally rape you some more.

A man who truly loves you would not say such things.  A man who truly loves his daughter wouldn't use her as a threat.

In the last three and a half to four years, I have watched the abuse cycle move through your relationship half a dozen times.  You've left him several times, and each time, you've gone back.  Because he's promised it's different now.  He's promised he's changed.  He's promised to go to counseling with you.  He's promised he loves you and he would never, ever hurt you again.

I wonder how many times he will promise this stuff before you realize that he's lying.

He's lying this time, too.

Unfortunately, you're swallowing it whole.

I wish you wouldn't.

I wish you would realize that you're so much better off without him.  His approval is nothing.  His word is worthless; he's proved that.  You should not be basing your life around this man.  I know, because you share a daughter with him, that you cannot ever eradicate him fully from your life.  But you shouldn't think so little of yourself that you should believe his lies, believe that your marriage to him is the sole source of your security and self-worth, believe that this man is all you deserve.

You are worth so much more.  So. Much. More.

I wish you could see that.

I wish you could believe that.

And I wrote this to remind you, like I promised, like you asked me to, of why you left the last that you could remember why you weren't going to go back.

Please don't go back.

You're worth so much more.