Monday, December 15, 2014

Enemies Domestic

Pajama pants? Evil!

Mousies? Evil!

Toes? Evil!

Bar stool legs? Evil!

Oh, look. More toes! Evil!

Ah! An evil dustbunny!

They must all be killed!

This is a land populated with benevolent pink giants and large hairy beasts. It is a good land, but it must be conquered, from the stray papers on the kitchen floor to the pajama pants of the food lady.

I may be wee, but I'm mighty!

Nap time.

I'd like to introduce you to our newest family member. This is Kimo, and he came home to live with us on Saturday. He's seven weeks old, wears a tuxedo like he's born to it, is a huge cuddler, and has a purr so loud that it's surprising his little body can generate that much noise. He also has a little black soul patch on his white chin.

When we had the horrible realization ten days ago that we were losing Pa'ani, Hubby reconsidered his new-kitten ban, especially in light of the upcoming holiday season. I wasn't sure I would be ready this soon, because I miss Pa'ani desperately. But when I saw the lone ad in last Friday's classifieds for free kittens, we decided to see what was available.

Actually, I made Hubby call on Saturday afternoon while I headed out to the grocery store. I was afraid of my reaction if I called and there were no boy kitties. (We really wanted a boy, to keep the balance of power relatively the same.) And we knew we didn't want an orange tabby. I'm not ready for another one yet.

Hubby called me before I'd even gotten five minutes away. He said he would text me if there were no boy kitties, but call me if there were...Kimo was the last boy left in the litter. His orange tabby brother had been adopted a few days earlier. I detoured from going to the store to go over and check out the wee guy.

I was instantly smitten, and sent Hubby a picture so he could approve too. He absolutely agreed, and Kimo and I made the drive home. (I'd been smart enough to bring our small kitty carrier, which was HUGE compared to little Kimo.) Kimo did not approve of the cat carrier, and kept climbing the cage gate, trying to escape.

I think Hubby was almost as excited as I was when I opened the carrier's gate. Hubby's eyes showed a melted heart, and he wanted to go introduce him to the Fries himself. Small was sick and still asleep on the couch in the den, so Hubby cuddled Kimo up to his shoulder and headed for the stairs. "We'll just see how long it takes them to notice," he whispered.

Hubby casually walked into the living room, where Large and Medium Fry were watching TV, and sat down on the loveseat.

It took Medium all of five seconds. "What is that?"

There was much rejoicing.

The existing feline contingent was not nearly as enamored.

Koa, predictably, is...well...verklempt.

Minou, also predictably, is afraid.

Mika is both unsure and slightly jealous, because this tiny interloper has stolen his mama's attention.

There is a tentative truce at the moment, but it's quite comical to watch Kimo arch his back and tail, and puff out every bit of fur he can, in an attempt to be big and scary in the presence of the older cats.

While I still miss Pa'ani so much, Kimo's arrival has been a good thing.

No matter what Koa tells you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Drunken, Staggering Lines

One of my favorite novelists once wrote in a book that grief is very much a funny beast, with tentacles all over the place, popping up where and when you least expect it.

That's very true. It's a description that has stuck with me for years.

Grief is a process. As such, it lingers. Its tentacles reach deep into places you didn't expect to find them.

If only it was a simple process.

Anyone who's ever grieved knows that there are stages, whether or not they've studied psychology and Kubler-Ross's five specific stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You'd think that you march through those in a straight line.

But you don't.

There's nothing straightforward about grief, except that it must be endured until you come out the other side, not necessarily "fixed" or "better," but with the bittersweet acceptance that your life has changed, you have a new normal, and that more time will make your memories less bitter and more sweet.

It's still not a five-steps-and-done deal, though. It has no set timetable. And, as I described it to my best friend JJ several years ago, it never walks a straight line. You bounce back and forth between the stages, depending on the day (or week...or month). It's more like drunken, staggering lines, weaving back and forth as you try to find your way through grief's fog.

The fog is pretty thick here in my house at the moment.

Last Thursday afternoon, about 4:40 p.m.

The last couple of days had been untenable. I wanted to scream and rail at my brother for his stupidity. (I still do.) I was tired. My muse had deserted me, and after Tuesday's startling email from Ms. Sciuto, I could not pull my brain together enough to write the Christmas short I was supposed to for writers' group that night. Heck, I had nothing for the devotional I was supposed to present, either!

So I sat in the oversized armchair in the living room, gazing at the Christmas tree, and trying to will my brain to cooperate.

That's when I heard it. A distinctly-Pa'ani yowl. No, wait. That was a howl. That was pain. What the heck?

Kitty-corner (yes, I can't help the stupid pun) across the room sat the old 1948 Crosley radio/turntable that Hubby had picked up at an auction not long after we moved into this house. (He paid a whole $5. Because he felt sorry for the poor auctioneer and bid on it. We needed a TV stand anyway.) The howl had come from that corner.

Medium had just stuck her head in to ask me a question, so she was in the doorway when Pa'ani yowled. "What was that?"

Pa'ani struggled out from behind the cabinet.

What did you do this time, buddy? I thought.

"Oh! Weeeeasel!" Medium cooed, and started to take off.

"No." I held out a hand and stopped her. "I think he's hurt. You need to leave him alone." If he was hurt, he could be mad, and definitely not in the mood for Medium's effusive affection.

Pa'ani limped over and curled up under the Christmas tree. Hubby came up a few minutes later, and I figured one of the kids had told him I thought the kitty was hurt. He laid down on the floor, on his stomach, peering under the tree. I joined him, kind of worried now because Pa'ani hadn't moved from that spot.

"Hey, bud. You okay?" Hubby asked quietly.

Pa'ani's trademark Edsel purr rumbled softly. "Mrow."

He didn't sound like he was screaming in pain anymore. This sounded kind of normal.

I explained to Hubby what had transpired: just a sudden howl of pain. It definitely wasn't normal.

"Maybe he zapped himself," Hubby commented. "There's some bare wires back there."

This much was true. The cabinet was old, and didn't really have a back to contain all of the wires coming out of it, and the radio was so old it ran on glass tubes. I reached over and unplugged it anyway.

"The tree skirt is wet."

I stared at Hubby. I had just put that thing under the tree a few hours before. I felt along the fleece near Pa'ani; Hubby was right. But it wasn't soaked. It was more like Pa'ani had drooled on it. Or foamed at the mouth and wiped his lips.

I was worried enough at this point that I almost didn't want to go to group, but my friend Anne had specifically asked if I was going, and I'd said yes. And I was responsible for devotions. And I'd made goodies that day specifically for our potluck. He'd probably given himself a shock and needed some time to settle all the gangling electrons in his cells.

So, I dropped off Hubby and the Fries at church for the kids' Christmas program rehearsal and then drove out to my party. I ate good food, listened to some great stories, ate more food, and finally sent Hubby a text near the end of the party, asking about Weasel.

"He's not walking right. Kind of like Po."

I knew what he meant; our late cat Popoki had suffered from diabetic neuropathy to such a degree that she walked while putting all of her back weight onto her rear legs' hock joints. That was what had led us to find out what was going on. But that had been a gradual onset, not sudden, like this.

I drove the forty minutes home with fear grabbing at my throat. Anne had hugged me as the tears threatened. But in the car, I was all alone, and it was difficult to keep the tears at bay, despite TPG's happy Christmas album providing my drive soundtrack.

Pa'ani still huddled on the floor in the living room, but near the ottoman, not under the tree. I tried to get him to move, and he limped. Horribly.

I found Hubby in our room. We speculated that it might still have been a strong shock, but it should definitely be wearing off by now. It'd been nearly five hours. And Weasel's left rear leg was kind of floppy. We decided to move Pa'ani downstairs, nearer to food, water, and litter boxes, and keep him comfortable overnight. If he was still having issues, I'd call the vet in the morning.
Pa'ani, 2007

Pa'ani, however, had different ideas. He settled on a big comforter near the fireplace...until I went upstairs. Then he painstakingly hobbled his way back up to the living room, which I discovered when I went back down to the lowest level to check on him.

He was under the tree again.

Okay. If that's where he's comfortable, I'll let him stay there. I checked on him again after another hour or so; he was still in the living room.

I knew I was calling the vet in the morning.

Friday morning

I wiggled my fingers through the cage door of the cat carrier, stroking under Pa'ani's chin. Just like a regular doctor's office, I mused. Our appointment was 20 minutes ago, and we're still in the waiting room. Pa'ani's constant cries had settled since we arrived; he'd been very vocal on the trip down.

The tech opened the door and directed us to room two.

Dr. Chaplin came in and I explained what had happened. No sound of any kind of trauma, but maybe he got his leg caught or zapped himself or something. I heard him howl, so I knew when it occurred.

Dr. C and the tech worked together to get a protesting Pa'ani out of his carrier. The tech held him while Dr. C palpated his left rear leg and hip.

"Well, his knee is definitely swollen, but he's also acting like his hip hurts. We need to get some x-rays. It could be that he's dislocated his hip. And we'll probably have to sedate him, given his reaction. You'll need to leave him here for awhile."

The tech came back a few minutes later with the estimate of how much this was going to cost, and I left Pa'ani there, going home with a heavy heart. The best possible outcome was a mild hip dislocation, where it could be easily popped back into joint without surgical intervention. The worst? Orthopedic surgery.

The vet called several hours later. "He's fractured his knee," Dr. Chaplin explained. "He's also got more arthritis in there than I would expect for a cat of his age. And it's more than his other leg. His hip looks great. Can you come in this afternoon at 2:40? I want to show you his x-rays, and I'll give you the names of some orthopedic surgeons."

Stunned at how badly this had turned, and meeting Hubby's equally shocked gaze, I agreed to the appointment time. This seriously can't be happening! Pa'ani is only 10!

I didn't wait long when I arrived at the veterinary hospital this time. Pa'ani was back in his carrier, still loopy from the sedation for the x-rays. Dr. Chaplin was already in the room, looking at the x-rays.

He showed me the break. Not in the knee itself, precisely, but in the upper long leg bone, at the malleolus of the bone at the knee. Similar to an avulsion fracture, it was broken along a curve from the side of the bone down to the base. Dr. C indicated the arthritis, which was much more prevalent in the left knee than in the right.

It was possible, he said, that the arthritis had weakened the bone to the point that it caused it to fracture without warning. But he also said that the orthopedic surgeon would do a biopsy if they got in there to fix it (much the same way that my own bimalleolar fracture of the ankle had been fixed, with screws), and the bone looked spongy. He'd prescribed some pain medicine to help Pa'ani get through the weekend.

I swallowed the lump of fear in my throat and asked. "How much do you think this surgery is going to run?" Hubby and I had talked before I'd left the house. I knew what our financial limits were.

"I'd guess $1500-$2000."

My heart plummeted through my stomach and was well on its way to my feet as I thanked Dr. Chaplin and hefted Pa'ani and his carrier and walked somberly out to the car.

The Fries were home from school by the time Pa'ani and I returned. Medium was in tears when we entered the house.

Hubby and I sat on the couch and talked. Well, he talked. I mostly cried and heaved sobs and sniffled. I took Hubby to our bathroom and showed him the x-rays. And then I called the closest of the two specialists. I explained to the receptionist what had happened.

"One of our vets is out on maternity leave right now, so our other vet's schedule is booked solid for the next two and a half weeks. But I could get you in on Monday on an emergency consult. Our normal consult fee is $145, and an emergency consult is $195. Depending on the severity of the break, and what the doctor needs to do, surgery will run anywhere from $2000 to $6000."

I thanked her kindly for her time and hung up.

And collapsed in tears. I had so hoped...

Pa'ani was the one who I expected to outlive the others. Koa and Minou are both 13, and Mika is 15. Hubby and I had both expected it to be one of them next. Not the youngest. Not the one who looks as strong as an ox.

I tried to calm myself down. "When are you wanting to do this?" I finally managed to ask.

Hubby's eyes were regretful. "Today if possible. Or tomorrow."

Tears fell. "I can't make the call."

Hubby smiled sadly. "I know."

He called to make the appointment, and I went looking for my kitty. My baby. The holy terror who'd
My Weasel. I love him so.
come home in a KFC bucket, three days after my birthday ten years ago, when we were two and a half years into infertility and every new month hurt. He'd gotten the nickname Weasel for good reason. Happy-go-lucky and never caring about the feline hierarchy of the house, he'd dragged my stuffed cats around when none of the real cats would play with him. I could count the number of times he'd purred with an actual rhythm on one hand. Otherwise, he sounded like a misfiring Edsel engine. My ginger boy had never met a stranger, just friends he'd yet to make acquaintance with. He tried to run off with the pizza guy more than once. He greeted everyone who came to the door, and regaled anyone who visited with his tales of woe: overworked, underloved, underfed (all 17.5 pounds of him). He managed to charm even my friends who weren't cat people.

Despite the pain medicine he'd been given already, Pa'ani was in no mood for affection. From anyone. My already-broken heart cracked some more. He hardly ever hissed or growled. Yet, that's what came out of him. How could I let him stay in pain and confusion? I couldn't.

Medium insisted on going with Hubby. She refused to say goodbye to Pa'ani, her favorite, her buddy, her baby, unless Hubby let her come along. Hubby finally caved and said she could come, but she had to hurry. It was time to go.

Tearfully, I opened the cage door of the carrier. Pa'ani meowed and tried to get out. I stroked his head and ears, sobbed that I loved him, and gently pushed him back so that I could close the cage again.

When Hubby and Medium returned some time later, Hubby gently pulled Pa'ani's body out of the carrier. My tears dropped on his fur as I bawled and apologized and said I loved him and apologized some more. Medium had been very brave during the trip to the vet's, probably too brave, and seeing my open grief helped her with hers.

Hubby had gotten yet another flagstone from the yard, and had dug a hole before he left, while there was still light out. With the rain and the dark, he performed the sad task of laying our beloved friend to rest by himself.

Hubby said later that the vet totally understood our decision, that he thought it was probably the right one. To have such a serious fracture with no inciting trauma...that couldn't possibly be good news. We could have opted for the surgery, yes (the specialist's office's estimate was higher than he'd expected), but could very well have been facing the exact same outcome if there was indeed bone cancer there.


The grief is smothering, like a wet heavy blanket but only moreso.

I don't know why today is worse than yesterday. It just is. Hubby is at work. The Fries are at school. It's just me...and the three.

It feels wrong.

I should have a purring Weasel, sprawled half on my lap, giving me a hot flash because he generates so much body heat.

My house feels empty. And wrong.

I stuffed Pa'ani's collar in my pocket this morning as I got dressed. I just want him with me again.

My prayer right now is the same as the one I prayed Friday night.

Jesus, take care of him for me until we can be together again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dear God...

...thank you that Jester an' Mitzy agreed to take care of us if anything ever happened to Mommy and Daddy, and that they'd just know. Thank you that we're gonna get adopted real soon. I can't wait. We have such a great family. Thanks for Mom and Dad. Amen.  ~Medium Fry

Oh, my heart.

I thought it was ripped in two last Friday, when Large Fry confessed that she was having nightmares that Bro would show up at the adoption hearing, steal them away, and stop the adoption from happening. She was so petrified she clung to me for two and a half days.

Hearing Medium's bedtime prayer tonight felt like it would rip me in two, not just my heart.

This afternoon, I got an email from our lawyer. It was one that I hadn't been expecting. I had intended to email her anyway, to ask if she knew yet when we might be able to schedule the adoption hearing. Two of our three background checks are back, so we're just waiting on the last one. That could come any day now. We're excited that the end is in sight. The end of the appeal timeframe is Friday, close of court. There's still a chance (albeit small) that we could all have Hubby's last name by Christmas.

And all of that crashed and burned two sentences into Ms. Sciuto's email.

Bro is appealing.


I called Hubby as soon as I finished skimming the email, anger warring with disbelief.

As it turns out, Bro's lawyer thought she wouldn't have to represent him beyond Superior Court. She checked and found out that she was required to continue on as his attorney, even to the point of a state Supreme Court appeal. She can't cite nonpayment or lack of communication to the court as reasons for being removed as counsel of record; the county is paying her and I'm sure Bro is plenty communicative. And because she was appointed by the court, she has to follow the court's directions. If her client wants to appeal again when he has virtually no chance of winning, then she files the appeal on his behalf.

The only good thing about any of this is that there's a finite timeline.

Bro's lawyer should have her paperwork in by Friday (she has to), and our lawyer will be served by Monday. We'll get copies then. Once that's done, because this is a fast-track appeal, we have ten days to file an answer to her appeal statement. Whether or not Ms. Sciuto will do that (it's not required, and sometimes unnecessary) will depend on what Bro's lawyer argues in her appeal. If Ms. Sciuto won't file an answer, she'll send a letter informing the Supreme Court that she will not be filing an answer.

And then the clock starts ticking. The Supreme Court has 45 days to decide what to do with the appeal. They can:

  • Do nothing. In which case, once the 45 days elapse with no action, it is assumed that the appeal is denied, and we will receive a court order to that effect.
  • Deny to review the case within the 45 days, thus having the same effect as doing nothing, but speeding up the process a little.
  • Allow the appeal to be reviewed, in which case, well, we go through yet another appeal.
Ms. Sciuto does not believe that that the Supreme Court will hear the case. There's nothing novel here. There's no court error. While Bro's attorney can make an argument (and arguing is what lawyers do, after all), there's no true appealable issue. So she doesn't think it will happen. 

But there is nothing we can do to stop him from appealing.

I am angry.

I am heartbroken.

I hate waiting.

I have kids who are so very excited about being adopted and I can't bear the idea of telling them we have to wait some more.

I've run out of words for exactly how this makes me feel.

But it's going to be a lot longer before the adoption is final.

I hate that.

Sixty more days.

I can do that, right?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Conversation

Medium Fry: Dad, can I have more apple pie?

Hubby: No.

Hubby's sister Lou: Well, that's because you didn't ask Auntie Lou!

Medium [marches into the kitchen]: Auntie Lou, can I have more pie?

Lou: Well, of course you can!

When Small Fry wanted more cake, she skipped asking Dad entirely.

Lou: What do you need?

Small: More cake!

Lou [cutting two pieces]: Now, which one do you want?

Small points.

Lou: Oh, the one on the end with more frosting! Excellent choice.

Of course, Small could only eat the frosting flowers, and then said she was full. So I finished it off.

From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Thought of the Day

It's a good day when you check your GoFundMe dashboard...

...and discover that your 2nd grade teacher apparently still remembers you, because she's just contributed to your fund.

This is so very cool

Monday, November 17, 2014

10.5 Hours

I am beyond gobsmacked (which is, by the way, a really great word).

It's been ten and a half hours since I posted my GoFundMe link here, and the campaign was live about half an hour before that.

As of the last time I refreshed my page, we were a scant $10 away from meeting our goal of $1200.

I'm overwhelmed. Our God is so gracious, merciful, and and generous.

And so are our friends. And even a couple of strangers.

If you're just now seeing my GoFundMe post or this one, and ...

Breaking news! We just made our goal! *cue confetti cannons*

As I was saying.

The link to our campaign is there in my sidebar, under the picture of my family from Christmas, 2012. If you're just now seeing this, and would still like to do something, the campaign is still live. We can still accept donations. Anything above and beyond the $1200 raised for our legal fees will be set aside for the huge party we plan to have next spring (we don't want winter weather to keep people from coming) to celebrate.

So, if you still want to help us out, please do not think that us having met our goal means that you're out of luck. We are incredibly grateful for everyone who's contributed.

A Personal Bleg

As you know, we've been in limbo for what feels like years regarding the termination of the Fries' biological parents' rights and thus the ability for the adoption of the Fries to proceed.

It's been nearly two weeks now since we heard from our lawyer that the Superior Court upheld the trial court's ruling to sever the bios' rights.

We received information last week on the background checks we need to have done to prove that we are stalwart, worthy folks who should be entrusted with these children (three of 'em, folks), and started to do that, and my black printer cartridge promptly went out of ink. Feh. I ordered ink through Amazon, and then turned my attention to the more pressing issue:

The $1000 retainer that our lawyer said she needed.


We hadn't been expecting that, although I suppose we should have.

So, in the process of filling out forms and remembering every address I've ever lived at for my whole freaking life, along with every person I've ever shared a dwelling with, and the same for Hubby, we also had to figure out how to come up with the $1200 for the retainer and the fees for running three different background checks.

We do not have the money. We have growing kids, a growing grocery budget, and Christmas next month. We have a shoestring budget, and back child support that's still owed (but not being paid) from during the appeal process. And our usual benefactors have said they unfortunately cannot help with this one.

They're our kids.

We will find a way to do this.

To that end, we have our own GoFundMe campaign now running. GoFundMe offers secure online donations. (I've also put up a link in the sidebar.)

I'm hopeful we can raise the money by the end of the week.

We need about 24 people who can kick in $50 each, or 60 people who can kick in $20 each. Every little bit helps.

We all want to have Hubby's last name by Christmas. Can you help us make that happen?

Saturday, November 8, 2014


My dad asked me earlier this week if I could scrounge some pictures of the kids or our family around Christmas time. The big choir he sings with (I forget what nom de blog I've used for it in the past) is gearing up for their Christmas concerts, which are always a big deal, and they're putting together a slideshow presentation of choir members' Christmas pics. I'm always taking pictures, and I knew that I also had a number of wintry-scene photos for filler, if he needed them.

I finally found the time to hunt through my (rather extensive) archives this afternoon.

It was a walk down memory lane.

Christmas Eve, 2008.
 Goodness. I can hardly believe how little they were!

We helped decorate! (2009)
We got a new artificial tree this year, and they were very proud that they got to help. They helped the year before, but this tree was bigger, so it was even cooler to hang ornaments on.

Christmas morning, 2009, at Gramma & Boppa's.

Daddy reads out of the Advent book Gramma bought. (2010)

Post-decorating, 2010

This was our 2010 Christmas card picture.
 Hubby's brilliance in those last two pictures.

Christmas morning, 2010
Taking pictures on the stairs before going down and seeing the the tree on Christmas morning is a tradition I grew up with. Up until this year, I wasn't sure that we'd have Christmases forever with these little goobers. But with the August court decision, we knew we would...and so I insisted on starting this tradition with the Fries.

Post-decorating, 2011, in our new house.

Christmas morning, 2011.
 Yeah, they're about as thrilled about the tradition as I was at that age.

Medium in front of the lit (but not yet decorated) tree, 2012.

Large in front of the tree, 2012.

Small in front of the tree, 2012.
 Yeah, if you were wondering, those last three were Hubby's idea, too.

Fries wrapped in lights! (2012)


Our "nice" family picture, 2012.

Let's get silly! (2012)
 Those were my idea. Yeah. Turned out really well. But when did the Fries get so big?

Medium Fry, 2013.

Large Fry, 2013.

Small Fry, 2013.

Twinsies! (2013)

Fries, 2013.

Christmas morning, 2013.
 My goodness. Just yesterday, they were how they looked in that first picture.

I look forward to this year's picture on the stairs. They've grown so much. Even since this picture back in May...

Family Day celebration, 2014.
But this year will be different, I hope.

The pictures will feature the same subjects, of course. That hasn't changed.

The stairs will be the same, too.

The jammies will be new. But then, they always are.

What's different this year?

This year, if the scheduling works out the way we want it to, we'll all have Hubby's last name by Christmas.

Yes, the Superior Court rendered their decision this week. They unanimously upheld the trial court's decision, determining that there was no judicial error or abuse of discretion and that there was sufficient evidence to grant our involuntary termination petition pursuant to adoption.

We still have to wait 30 days for the appeal timeframe, but it's unlikely that Bro will appeal to the state Supreme Court. (The county will no longer pay for his attorney, who has indicated that she will not appeal further anyway.) And, realistically, we would not be able to schedule the adoption hearing earlier than 30 days out as it is. We've asked our attorney to see if we can schedule the hearing before Christmas, for we'd all love to be Hubby's-Last-Name-ers by then.

It would truly be the best Christmas present we could all ask for.

**If you're wondering how many days it was, total, we got the court decision on Day 187, if you count from the date the appeal was file. It's 220 days from the day that the judge rendered her decision on our petition.

Dinner Conversations

Medium: Daddy, have you heard the saying, "the more, the merrier"? I think it means that it's more fun when there's lots of people there.

Hubby: That's right.

Medium: Is it always true?

Hubby: No, not always. Sometimes it's good to have lots of people around. Other times, like when I'm in the tub, I want to be alone, without any other people. I don't like people watching me while I'm in the tub.

Small: I don't like to take baths in front of boys. Only you, Daddy.

Friday, November 7, 2014

At the Table

Hubby: I said I was normal and boring. You said I wasn't. So what does that make you?

Medium Fry: Talented!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Word's Worth

Yesterday evening, after dinner, this happened...

Medium Fry: Mom, what does "frolicking" mean?

Me: Playing.

Medium: I just made that word up.

Me: You did not!

Medium: Yes, I did. I've never heard it before. I just made it up.

Me: That word was in existence long before you were born.

Medium (anticlimactically): Oh.

I realized too late that the perfect response would have been to ask her how I knew the definition of a word she'd "just made up."

She certainly keeps me on my toes...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Good gravy.

We're at the urgent care today, because Medium has the same illness that I have, Hubby has, my parents have, and one of my aunts has (the bunch of us were all together last weekend).

The PA listened as I explained Medium's symptoms, and then listened to Medium's lungs.

Then she peered into Medium's right ear.

"There's something pink in there!" she exclaimed. "It looks like an eraser!"

I looked. Sure did.

Medium said, "Well, I had an eraser on my finger once, and thought I got it off, and then I itched my ear."

The nurse came in to flush it out, and Medium said she'd had it in there since September!

So we not only got her medicine, we got her ear flushed out too.

I will say that eraser fragment looked a lot bigger in her ear canal than it did when it came out in the basin.

Never a dull moment around here.

176 Days

As of today, that's how many days our appeal has dragged on.

Before you get your Hanes in a half-hitch over how long that's been, I should point something out. A lot of appeals that aren't on the children's fast track haven't even made it to review by the Superior Court by this time. Normal appeals can take nearly a year to be reviewed, and then another 200ish days to the Superior court to file a decision.

That sort of makes the 102 days between the filing and the review by the Court darned fast.

Hubby did some checking, and found records of similar termination hearing appeals. Of the seven he looked at, the average time (and I use the term "average" rather loosely), he said that it took anywhere from 100-250 days between the appeal filing and the date of the filing of the Superior Court's decision.

Incidentally, all but one of those appeals upheld the trial court's ruling. (There were exigent circumstances in that one case that simply aren't present in ours.)

So it looks like we're in the home stretch, as far as the waiting is concerned. I still hold my breath every day as I check the mail, waiting for an envelope from our lawyer's office.

We expect that the Superior Court will side with our trial judge. We'll have another 30 days beyond the date of the Court's decision to wait before we can have the adoption hearing. We're hopeful this can be resolved before the end of the year.

But I don't mind telling you...the waiting is hard. The girls especially are having a tough time because they don't understand why this can't happen yet. "We can't yet" is a difficult concept for them.

Heck, it's difficult for me. I want to scream at the court clerks that our lives are hanging in the balance; what's taking them so long to type up the decision?

Waiting is rarely any fun.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Large Fry Does Portraiture

Large drew this tonight, while we were waiting for the twin Fries to get ready for bed. I didn't want to turn on the TV just for 15 minutes, and she decided to draw a picture. Of me.

So, that's me, walking down the sidewalk, probably some 20 years down the road. Behind me and across the street, there's a construction zone. That's my house being built, Large said. The small person across the street in front of me is Large Fry, holding her bible, because she just came from church. She's standing in front of her house. Off the page, out of the frame and on the other side of Large's house, are the two houses for Medium and Small Fries. I am walking on the sidewalk so that I can cross the street to say goodbye, since Hubby and I are going to leave on a trip. That's a lot of action packed into one drawing!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Things I've actually said in the last 4 hours

"Do not pour water on the [throw] rug to try to kill ants! All that does is make the rug wet!"

"You don't get to ask me why I told you to put on your shoes. Just put on your shoes!"

"I don't know what that is, because you haven't said anything but 'What's that?'!"

"Why is there flour all over the sugar container?"

"Whose socks are on the desk?"

"What do you mean, you're so glad you cook?"

Yes, all in response to children.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All That Glitters Is Not Just A Disco Ball

I am about to tell you a rather involved story. Much like the promise of the Grandfather at the beginning of The Princess Bride, this has something for everyone.


Good furniture!







Sorry, no fencing, fighting, torture, or revenge, although you might disagree with me on those by the time you finish reading this.

Our story starts with me calling the psychiatrist's office first thing in the morning, managing to wrangle a last-minute med-check appointment for Large Fry. We were completely OUT of her ADHD medicine after that morning's dose, and that's a bad thing all the way around. So, even though it really messed up the day, I grabbed the appointment and Hubby worked from home for the rest of the afternoon so that Large and I could drive to see her doctor for a whole ten minutes.

We got home just about 4:15, I think, and I got Large Fry started on her homework while I started picking up the living room. I had painted my toenails in there about a week before, and my little basket of nail polish and stuff was still in there, simply because I hadn't gotten around to putting it away yet.


Innyhoo, Hubby had youth staff meeting scheduled for being at our house in about two hours' time. This was the impetus for the living room cleanup, although that's typically the cleanest and most orderly room in the house. (Despite its name, we don't live there. That honor goes to the den.) As I'm stacking papers and the kids' workbooks from summer and papers they've managed to strew around. (I'm pretty sure they had help there. Feline help.) And that's when my oversized, recovery location from numerous surgeries, cozy chair-and-a-half caught my eye.

Which, I must admit, is something I didn't expect it to do. Not in the way it did, anyway.


Was that glitter?!

I looked closer.

It sure was.

Glitter nail polish, no less. I touched the seafoam green glitter streak that you can't really see all that well.

It was still wet.

I immediately hollered for children to represent. Specifically, the two youngest.

When they appeared, I pointed at the chair. "Who painted my chair with glitter nail polish?"

Wide, innocent eyes blinked back at me. Both twins vowed they hadn't done it.

I knew, since the one polish clump was still wet minutes before, Large Fry could not have been responsible. She had been with me, and had not gone into the living room since we'd gotten home. Still, better to ask rather than let the twins feel like I hadn't done due diligence in questioning. I called Large Fry up and asked her the same question.

She also said it wasn't her.

I dismissed her, and skewered the twins with a glare. "Which one of you painted the chair with glitter polish?"

Medium gave me a guileless gaze, and said, "Not me."

Small gave me a suspiciously hesitate shake of the head before saying, "Not me."

"It had to be one of you! It couldn't have been Large Fry; this was still wet, and she was with me when this was done. Who did this?"

Both still expressed their undying innocence. I gave them the hairy eyeball individually, trying to determine who was guilty.

By this time, Hubby arrived on the scene. I showed him the chair. "It could not have been Large," I stressed, "so one of them is not telling the truth."

"How do you know it wasn't Large?" he asked.

"Because it was still wet when I found it, and she was with me until we got  home and hasn't been in here."

Hubby nodded; it was hard to argue with that.

He started asking questions. I was more than happy to let him take over the inquisition.

The twins both continued to deny guilt. I was pretty sure I knew who the guilty party was.

He sent them up to their room to think.

About then, I had what would prove to be a brilliant brainstorm. "Wait!" The twins stopped at the foot of the stairs. "Take off your socks!"

Small Fry toed off her socks, and so did Medium. I bent over to check their toenails and the insides of their socks. Small's toes were clean, as were her socks. I sent her upstairs.

Medium tucked her left foot up on the step behind her before I looked at her feet. Her right toes were clean. Sadness swamped me. "Show me your left foot."

She wouldn't move it, so I tugged it free.

Her left toes were covered in a very thin coat of purple polish. I looked inside her socks, although I wasn't surprised there was no polish on the insides. The one she used is terribly thin and would have dried fast as a result. I handed her the socks and sent her upstairs, too.

Then I dropped into the loveseat in the living room, across from Hubby on the couch.

"So, who was it?"

I sighed. "Medium." I had been so sure it was Small. Both she and Large Fry have fairly obvious tells when they lie. It was extremely disheartening to discover that Medium could lie suavely, almost guilelessly, and make eye contact while doing so. "She had polish on her toes."

"Do you trust me to handle this?"

I flicked my gaze to Hubby's. "Sure." I hadn't gotten anywhere before by myself, and the kids will respond better to him during discipline because he's often calmer.

He went to the stairs and called for Small Fry. She came down and sat with him on the couch while I watched.

He gently went through his questions again. She reiterated her innocence, which I now knew to be the truth, despite her restlessness and refusal to meet his eyes.

"Thank you for telling me the truth," Hubby said seriously, making sure to connect with her gaze. Then he gave her a hug and told her she could go play.

He walked to the stairs. "Medium, come here please!" Nothing in his tone sounded different from when he had called for Small. Kudos to him.

Medium came down and sat on the couch with him, too. His questions were essentially the same.

She still insisted that she hadn't used the nail polish on the oversized chair.

Hubby didn't question her for long, and he did the same thing. He thanked her for her honesty.

That was when Medium teared up and started talking about how her friends at school say that she can't disagree with her dad, or she'll get in trouble. Or that she can't say her dad's wrong, because he'll get mad at her. Hubby reminded her that he isn't her friends' dads. Just because her friends say their fathers are like that doesn't mean that he is, and she knows he isn't like that. He asked her why this was making her cry. She said she was scared.

"I think," Hubby said gently, "that maybe you want to tell me the truth now. Maybe that's why you're sad."

Medium shook her head, and talked some more about what her friends at school were saying about how you're supposed to act around your dad.

It took another twenty minutes of gentle pushing before Medium finally collapsed into Hubby's chest and confessed that she was the one who had gotten into my nail polish basket and painted her toes and the chair.

Hubby sent her back upstairs after we'd both hugged her, so that we could discuss punishment. We determined she was going to lose several privileges, along with being able to have me paint her nails again any time soon. And if I could find a way to clean it off the chair, she would have to help me do that.

He called her back down again, and Medium came slowly into the living room, holding a stuffed Rex from Toy Story.

Odd. Usually she would have her duck.

We explained the consequences of her actions. She nodded. "Daddy?"


"Rexy is my new best friend."


"Yes. Duckie and I broke up. He's not my favorite anymore. Rexy is."

I managed to keep my eyes from bugging out. They broke up? Never thought I'd hear that description. My heart clenched; I know someday she'll outgrow Duckie, but she's only seven, and I don't want her rushing that decision. I held my tongue, though, and let Hubby handle it, even though it made me want to cry.

Hubby nodded sagely. "I'm sorry to hear that you and Duckie broke up. I know how much you love him."

"Duckie said I was too mean. He doesn't want to be my best friend anymore. So we broke up."

"I'm glad that you have a new best friend in Rexy, though."

Medium did not seem pleased by his responses. "I'm going to do everything with Rexy now, not Duckie."

Hubby nodded, and Medium frowned.

"You know what I think?" Hubby said.

Medium shook her head.

"I think you're hurt because Mommy and Daddy caught you in a lie and punished you, and now you're trying to make me feel bad because you don't want to have Duckie anymore."

"Nuh-uh! I just love Rexy more now. He's my new favorite!"

"Okay. Well, it's good that you and Rexy are best friends."

Shortly after that, Medium went back to her room to play, and I got up to go fix something for a very quick dinner. I had planned to have it ready by now, so that we could eat before the meeting, but it was now going to be very, very tight...and the kids would probably be eating while we met.

Hubby chuckled quietly. "I don't think she was thrilled that I wasn't more hurt by her break-up with Duckie."

Youth staff members began to arrive as I dished up the kids' plates. I got them settled in the den, eating and watching TV, then I fixed a plate for myself and joined in on the meeting.

After about 45 minutes, Medium appeared in the living room doorway. "Mommy?"

"What, honey?"

"Can you help Duckie and me get back together?"

I caught the smiles from Hubby, Mitzy, and Chicken Little (they were there for the meeting) as I excused myself to go mend a relationship. I dropped my plate and silverware in the kitchen and sat down in the dining room with Medium and Duckie.

I held Duckie in my left hand, and looked at Medium. "Duckie, Medium is sorry that she's been so mean and that she's only wanted things her own way. Will you forgive her?" I made his little head bob. "She wants you to be her best friend again. She loves you. Will you get back together with her?" My finger bobbed his head again.

I turned to look more at Medium, and made Duckie dive into her neck and snuggle. Her eyes shone with unshed tears and delight, and she hugged him close. "There you go," I whispered. "Better?"

"Yeah. Thanks for helping Duckie an' me get back together, Mommy." She hopped down from the chair and headed back into the den.

I went back to the meeting, which I have to tell you was very anticlimactic after helping my daughter and her best friend make up.

(Incidentally, I wrote this post to have a published date for when it happened, September 15th, but didn't write it until about six weeks after the fact. My chair still sparkles.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Will Remember

I wonder if the intensity of emotion surrounding this day will ever really go away.

Sometimes, I hope it does.

The rest of the time, I hope it never changes.

I drove around today, and the flags flying at half-mast yanked hard at my heart.

My children know nothing of this day's significance. They do not know what flags flying at half-mast mean. They don't know of a world that predates Homeland Security. They were born into a country forever changed by the events 13 years ago.

Hubby and I watched a Nova special on Netflix earlier this week, about the construction of the new One World Trade Center building, the 9/11 Memorial museum, and the actual Memorial itself. Fascinating stuff (available on Netflix), and I highly recommend watching it.

Some day, my children will see these places. In hushed tones, we will explain what happened in Somerset (not too far from us, actually), at the Pentagon, in New York City. We will tell the stories. We will trace the names engraved. We will tell of those who went in when everyone else walked out. We will say that heroes didn't just come on two feet; on this day, there were four-footed heroes as well. We will carefully discuss why evil men chose to take such horrible actions, how they hoped to wound our country so deeply that we would fall, how they did not succeed. We will counter that with the truth of the American spirit, how we banded together, how we fought back by fighting for survivors. We will speak of a love for fellow men so great that others gave their lives, willingly.

We will not forget.

We will teach them to not forget, even though this day doesn't have the same emotional impact for them that it does for us.

We will remember. We will honor the fallen. We will pray for those who still grieve.

We will remember.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grab your hankies. Medium brings The Feels.

After church this morning, the Fries requested to go to their favorite restaurant, GVD. I didn't really want to go, since I could feel trouble brewing in my joints (91% humidity and I don't get along), but neither did a Wendy's run appeal to me. I relented, and we drove to GVD.

The usual Sunday-afternoon bustle greeted us, and the teenage host went to find a table for us while we waited. And that's when it happened.

Medium leaned into me and looked up into my face. "When are you going to have a baby?"

Darn it, that question always pops up at unexpected times. I looked into my little girl's earnest face. This wasn't the time or place to discuss our infertility, or the reality of my hysterectomy a year and a half ago. I stroked my hand down her cheek, hoping I hid the huge lump of emotion I had to swallow, and gently held her chin. "I don't need to have a baby. I have you."

She beamed at me.

"You're my baby. You and your sisters." They weren't paying attention to the conversation, but still...

"When I grow up," Medium said thoughtfully, "I'm going to be a mommy just like you. I'm gonna find kids whose parents don't take good care of them, and I'll take care of them instead."

About then, the young host returned and led us to our table.

As we walked, Medium continued, "And I'm going to be the best mom ever, just like you."


Friday, August 22, 2014

There is wailing and gnashing of teeth. And stomping.

The last few days have been really busy.

Medium has been complaining in the last month or so that she "can't" read. Well, that's not true. She can. She's the best reader of all three Fries. It didn't take much questioning to realize that it's not that she is incapable of's that she can't see well enough to read.

We saw her pediatric ophthalmologist on Wednesday afternoon. It's an hour and a half drive.(Astonishingly, pediatric ophthalmologists are not everywhere, especially in towns of only about 5500.)

Medium has a condition called exotropia, which is especially prominent in her left eye (less so in her right), which worsens when she's tired or overwhelmed. Her rather sudden nearsightedness—from 20/20 in both eyes back in February or March, at her annual exam, to 20/50 and 20/60 now—has made the exotropia worse. She's having to expend way more energy to read and force her eyes to focus even more. So, her ocular muscles are getting tired a lot faster. The exotropia is why we sought out a pediatric ophthalmologist in the first place.

Her specialist explained that she's just barely nearsighted, but she's going to give her a slightly stronger glasses prescription to help force her eyes to align better. Gotcha.

So after running back to back to back on Wednesday for Medium's appointment, Large Fry's open house at the Sub-Middle School, and 2nd-grade orientations (the twins are in separate classes this year), yesterday we took the Fries for their before-school haircuts. (And one for Hubby, too.)

After lunch, we stopped off at my eye doctor's. We could fill Medium's glasses prescription there.

As I said, it's been busy...and we have my eye doctor's appointment today, plus shopping for new sneakers for the kids.

I know they're subconsciously worried about school.

But things have gotten out of hand lately, and I was determine to nip any unpleasantness in the bud this morning.

They all did their chores before I would let them watch tv or play on the computer or play outside. Medium got settled on the computer for her allotted time, and Large and Small decided to watch tv.

About forty minutes ago, I heard Small screeching at her sister: "Gimme the clicker!" She hollered that at least five times. Then I heard Large: "I'm not done yet!"

I shouted for both of them to come to me.

When I asked why they were screaming at each other, Large launched into an explanation, blaming Small, that would have made a politician proud of her verbal evasive maneuvers, had I not stopped her and reiterated my question. The truth came out: it was Small's turn to pick, but Large didn't want to give up control of the clicker, so she had started whatever program they'd been watching on Netflix a second time, so she could go through the credits and stop, so the next time they watch it, they wouldn't "have to watch them."

I told them to go turn off the tv.

By this time, Medium's computer time was up. She wanted to know if she could watch tv. Yes, I said. She could...but Small and Large could not.

"So it's Amish Summer?" Large asked.

"For you and Small, yes."

Large stormed upstairs, shut herself in her room, and wailed.

"Can I go play outside?" Small asked.

"Yes. But you have to stay in our yard, and you can't go next door." If she can't be nice to her sister, I'm not going to trust her to be nice to her friends.

About then, I heard stomping and thrashing coming from Large's room.

I called her to the stairs. "Why are you behaving like this?"

"Because it's Amish Summer for Small and me!" she wailed.

"Do you know why?"

She shook her head. I called Small to join us.

In short order, I explained why they had lost privileges: Large had deliberately kept the clicker from Small when it was Small's turn to choose, and then she'd screamed at Small. Small should have asked Large nicely for the clicker, rather than demanding it at the top of her lungs multiple times. Small should have listened when Large explained what she was doing...but Large, really, credits are not that long, and Large should not have set the show up to skip the credits just to keep clicker possession longer. The end.

Large went back to her room then, and Small went outside.

I think Large has stopped sniffling.

I am not looking forward to shoe shopping this afternoon, that's for sure. I hope lunch helps.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Countdown Has Begun

This morning, Hubby, the Fries, and I all journeyed over to the Sub-Middle School.

Large Fry starts fourth grade there in exactly a week, and she was very scared about having a new school. Fortunately for all of us, one of the ladies in our church, Ms. Vee, teaches at the SMS, and had agreed to give us an abbreviated tour ahead of time. Despite the unscheduled waxing of the lobby floors today, we were still able to get in and look around.

Ms. Vee led us straight to the Red hall, which is where Large's classrooms will be. Large will even get a locker this year. She'll switch between two classrooms, which are right next door to each other.

The school building itself is fairly new. The gymnasium is full-sized and HUGE. Ms. Vee showed us where the art room and computer lab were, as well as the playground area. She explained that, for the first couple of days, all the fourth graders are funneled into the cafeteria as they arrive, and the teachers will lead them back to their classrooms. The end-of-the-day procedures will remain the same all year: walkers and parent pick-up students are released first, then the first group of bus students, and then the last group of bus students. Any students riding buses will go to either the cafeteria or the gym, and find their bus number, and then they're dismissed by buses (this way nobody misses the bus). Large will be riding the bus this year for the first time since first grade.

Large seemed much more at ease after our tour, even though we couldn't see all of the school because of the floor maintenance.

I am feeling better about her new school, but still feeling weird about all this. I don't know that I'm ready for her to be in fourth grade. Hubby laughed at me when we first arrived, because I looked so glum and bereft as I got out of the van.

I'm not so sure I'm ready for the twins to be in second grade, either. They are in different classes this year...another first. Medium has Mrs. Greek, and Small has Large's second-grade teacher.

Heaven help me. They keep growing up.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Migraine Salute. But now with hilarity!

I wasn't feeling well this morning (a holdover from not feeling well Friday night and all day yesterday), so I skipped church this morning. Since PeeJay is on vacation this week, and Hubby has to preach, I knew it meant the entire female Fry & Co. contingent would be staying home.

I moseyed downstairs in search of something to eat that actually sounded good. I was finally sitting down to eat, and had the kids doing the chores they were supposed to do yesterday, when Large Fry popped into the room.

Wearing, I should point out, a pink shirt with little brown terriers scattered all over it, heavy cotton winter stockings, and a pink tutu with large, shiny sequins. Oh, and white socks with orange cuffs. She's being a ballerina today.

"Mommy, I found a whisker..." She held up a short, coal-black whisker. Koa's. (She's the only one with all-black whiskers.)

"Then throw it away," I instructed. Really, I thought. Do I need to be consulted for this?

"Oh." Large sounded a big dejected. "I thought we could use it for the eye things."

She left the room as I closed my eyes and tried to avoid a literal facepalm.

Large had wanted to use Koa's shed whisker as a false eyelash.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Just now...

Small Fry: I want to jump on Daddy, like a bounce house!

Hubby: Nooo!

Gee, it's a shame we didn't have boys. Hubby has no one to wrestle with...


Medium came in to our room in the wee hours of the morning, having had a bad dream and needing the security of sleeping with us. I told her to climb on up, and sleepily noted later that Hubby had wrapped his arm around her as they slept (awww).

This morning, Hubby got a call from the church secretary that the internet was out at the office (most likely due to a power outage during last night's storm). He promised he'd be right in. Medium quickly sprawled all over Hubby's side of the bed. He must have given her a look, because this conversation followed...

Medium: My bed!

Hubby: Your bed?

Medium (triumphantly): MY bed!

Hubby: You're crazy!

Medium: You got that right!

Hubby (chuckling): Put that in your blog and smoke it.

Me (sleepily): Oh, yes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tonight, on "Excuse Theater"...

...Small Fry collapses in a tearburst that's Oscar-worthy!

Scene: Den, where I am sitting in front of my laptop, when Small returns from the potty.

Small: Where's Medium Fry?

Me: Getting ready for bed, which is what you need to do.

Small: But I was going to sing another song!

Me: You told me you wanted to sing one song. You sang one song.

Small: I wanted to sing three songs!

Me [firmly]: You said you wanted to sing one song. You sang one song.

Small [lip quivering]: But that's not what I meant!

Me: I can't just know what you meant. I have to go by what you said. You said one song. You sang one song. And now it's after 8:00, so you have to go get ready for bed.

Small teared up and slunk out of the room and went whimpering up the stairs.

It's clear that she especially is suffering from lingering overtiredness after our vacation to Florida last week. I insisted on naps earlier today for the twins, but she's still crabby. I can hear her shouting at her sisters upstairs.

I should have imposed an earlier bedtime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I wish I had a picture...

...but I don't. Because I promised I wouldn't.

Hubby is out of town this week, on his annual summer mission trip with the teens. The Fries and I have thus spent the last several days out at my folks', and came home today. (Our kitty-sitters are also on the mission trip.) Sis and BIL and their kids are in the States right now, also staying with my folks, so it's been cousin insanity and 11 people (more than half of them kids) in my parents' home.

With a few nights away from home, no Hubby, not my own bed, and no Mika to come snuggle with me at night, I haven't slept well. The drive home was tiring, even if it was only an hour.

So I made a decision. I was lifting the Amish Summer tech ban for the afternoon. They've gone mostly without tech since Sunday evening anyway. I needed a nap. I fixed everybody lunch, and sent the kids up to the living room to watch TV while I dozed in the den.

When I woke a little while ago, I figured I still had some time before I needed to tell them to get ready to go so that we can go back to the VBS at a church near Gramma and Poppa's tonight (they've gone the last two nights with Roo and A-man). Large and Medium were watching TV. Small was not.

"Where's Small?" I asked.

"She's upstairs," Medium said.

I followed what I thought was the sound of water being turned on hard and rapidly turned off.

The girls' bathroom. Of course. Which they all know they're not supposed to play in.

I peered into the room and saw no one. "Small?" I asked.

"I'm hiding back here."

I walked to the back of the bathroom, and found her tucked between the toilet and the huge cupboards by the sink.

With her electric Dora toothbrush.

And there's the "water" sound.

She was also holding a black marker cap.

And her eyelids were black.

"Where's the marker?" I demanded. She leaned out and pointed over to the counter between the sinks. I took the cap and put it on the marker. "What's on your finger?"


I grabbed her toothbrush and studied it. "Is there lotion on your toothbrush?"

"Yes," she mumbled.


She shrugged her shoulders.

"Well, you've ruined your toothbrush. You know this is not a toy. Why did you put lotion on your toothbrush?"

Another shrug.

"No. That's not good enough. You show me what you were doing with the lotion and your toothbrush."

Small held the toothbrush up to her cheeks, as if she was applying makeup.

I frowned. "I'm very disappointed in your choices."

I walked down the hall to my own bathroom, struggling not to giggle. I sent a text to my best friend and called Small to my bathroom.

She saw my phone. "Don't take a picture," she begged.

"I won't." I ripped open an alcohol prep pad and wiped at her eyelid.

"Will we still get to go to bible school tonight?"

I'd said they had to behave. "Yes."

"What if my sisters see what's left on my eyes?"

I finished with the second prep pad on her other eyelid. "Well, that's the price you pay for drawing on your eyelids with marker."

Her lip quivered, and I tipped her chin up so she could see me. "Are you mad?"

"I'm disappointed," I said. "I love you. Please don't draw on yourself with marker, okay?"

She went back downstairs and watched TV from the stairs.

But, oh, a picture would have made this post perfect!

Monday, June 23, 2014

There's no weirder animal than a youth pastor...

...except maybe his wife.

It's VBS week at our church. (I'll bet you never would have guessed!) Hubby, as youth pastor, is sort of under the auspices of the Children and Youth Commission...and that group is responsible for putting on Vacation Bible School every year.

That means Hubby usually is pretty heavily involved. He helps emcee the start and end every night, and he teaches the 5th grade class. (Handy, that. The 5th graders will be the next ones to graduate up to youth group in the fall when they start 6th grade.)

This year, I sort of got...well...not quite "voluntold." It was more "volunbegged." Given my choices between tech crew and helping teach 5th graders...Auntie J, video tech, at your service. For the hour or so between the end of the Start-up Stampede and the beginning of the Tail End (I kid you not; that's what they're called), I am blessedly left to my own devices.

Namely, working on the crib cover for my one-year-old niece Noodle (previously mentioned here as Na).

However, I had a question for Hubby, so I scooted over to his class, which is up here on the second floor near my digs in the sanctuary balcony.

He introduced me to his class (four girls and one boy), and advised the boy, J, that I was not to be messed with.

"That's right," I said with mock severity. "I'll kiss you."

That is, I should point out, my favorite threat for keeping preteen and junior high boys in line. I just haven't had cause to use it in awhile. Hubby laughed. "It's been a long time since I've heard you say that."

I asked him for a minute of his time, and it was the girls who started timing me! I looked at Zym, who goes to our church and knows me well enough. "I'll kiss you too!"

That stinker kept counting. Must be her father's influence.

I got what I needed, and by then, J had joined in the countdown. There was only one thing to do.

I smooched him on the cheek. Loudly.

I haven't lost my touch. He was on the floor in seconds, trying to wipe it off his cheek, using the carpet.

I grinned and leaned over him. "I promise I got my cootie shot this week."

He was still saying, "Ewwww!" when I left the room.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Biology Lessons

Small Fry bounced into my room, where I've been resting most of the afternoon following the bear of a headache that I had last night.

"Mommy, guess what? Tomorrow, Ariel is going to have her babies!"

I smiled. "Really? How many babies?"

"A hundred!"

"That's a lot of babies!"

"Yeah. And guess what today is?"


"Ariel's birthday! Large Fry and I are gonna have a party."


"Ackshully, she's only going to have fihteen babies."


"No, Mommy. Fifteen."

"That's still a lot of babies."

"Yeah." Small nodded, wide eyed.

"Is she going to have them all at at once?" I asked as Small skipped for the door.

"No," she tossed over her shoulder. "She's gonna have them in a row."

Silly me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sometimes, it's hard to be an adult...

It's the last day of school. The kids were done at 11:15 this morning. And since the weekend holds both Father's Day and Poppa's birthday, the Fries and I have errands to run. So we took Daddy back yo work and headed out.

First stop, Rite Aid. Large needs a refill on her focus pill. I dropped off the script, and Medium announced that she'd found another lizard toy that she wanted, as a friend for her toy komodo dragon.

I said no.

This created a case of the grumps, which Medium excels at.

The grumps soon spread and I quickly changed my plan and headed for Wendy's. Lunch for everyone!

We sat down at a table and I asked the kids who would like to pray. Both Small and Medium raised their hands. In order to avoid further cranks, I gave Medium the nod.

"Dear God," she opined. "Thank you for the food. Amen." She paused. "And please help me to get over the thing I'm trying to get over."

I couldn't stop my chuckle...but at least I didn't laugh out loud.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Today, we finally got the judge's full opinion, written in response to Bro's Concise Statement of Matters Complained of on Appeal. (Yes, it's really called that. Welcome to Legalese 101.)

I say that we go the full opinion today, because we had half of it last week. The judge sends her opinions/rulings/whatevers printed back-to-back (I know from previous orders), and the secretary at our lawyer's office must not have realized that when she copied the opinion to mail to us. So, we only got the even-numbered pages.


We were so entertained.

It was both amusing and comically frustrating to read only every other page and have to muse about the pages we missed. We got all this last Saturday, so I emailed our lawyer right away to let her know. She replied right back (is it any wonder we love this lady?) and said she'd talk to the secretary on Tuesday, and explaining that the judge always did paperwork back-to-back. That was, of course, exactly what I figured had happened.

I anxiously awaited the mail this week, and when no fat white envelopes arrived from the lawyer's, I emailed her this morning. She kindly scanned in the odd-numbered pages and emailed them to me this afternoon.

So, I went to print them out, and...

Cannot print. Printer is in an error state.

Say what?

He's so cute when he's sleeping.
I went upstairs and checked. I was the last one to use the printer, after all. I'd printed out an invoice yesterday for my business records, and window had popped up for the printer, but didn't display an error message.

The printer was OFF.


There was only one explanation.


Darn cat. He likes to chase, catch, and/or play with the pages as the printer spits them out. Any time I print more than a page, I close my office door first, so he won't cause a printer jam. Dingbat cat.

He must have been in there when I printed the invoice (which printed again as soon as I turned the machine back on) yesterday, and pawed it off. Toad.

The machine continued with printing our previously-missing pages of the order, and I closed my office door. (I stupidly didn't check to make sure Pa'ani was not in my office, but that turned out okay; he was on the couch next to where I was sitting when I got back downstairs.)

When I collated the pages together so the order was finally complete, I sat down to read.

Oh, it was lovely. It warmed the cockroaches of my heart.

Have I mentioned before that I love our judge? 'Cause I love our judge.

It's pretty safe to say that she decimated my brother's arguments. I sent Hubby a text with a quote from one of the pages we didn't have before, and he replied back, "Ooooooo."

I've read the full opinion twice now, and Hubby has read it once.

We are once again thoroughly impressed with our judge, so glad we had her, and I'll tell you...her opinion gives me a huge rush of something I haven't felt in a long time about all this.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Earlier tonight...

The kids are playing "Hangman."

Large Fry: Pick a letter, Medium!

Medium Fry: [rattles off alphabet, from A to Z, with lightning speed]

Large [frustrated]: No, just pick one letter!

Me [since this is the third go-round of this conversation]: Medium, pick ONE letter.

Medium: Five.

Me [chuckling]: Five isn't a letter!