Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Morning Conversations

Halloween morning, 6:45 a.m.

"Middle, you need to go get your glasses." I adjusted mine as I gave her the reminder.

"Right. I don't want to forget them all day like I did the other day."

Right. "It should be one of the first things you do."

"Momma, here's my list of things I need you or Dad to get for my costume." Youngest handed me a slip of paper.

The girls had finally settled on costume ideas last night--we are so last-minute people here--so I'd warned them they had to be quick-to-make and cheap--and I took the list. I immediately mentally crossed off two items and added two more. I looked at the time...and Middle's face. Still empty. "Middle! You need to go get your glasses now!"

"Youngest, will you come with me?" Middle wheedled.

"No." I nixed that. Youngest needed to put on socks and shoes. "Go get your glasses."

Middle crouched on the stairs. "But I can't be alone."

"It's your house!" I said, flabbergasted.

"I can't be alone," Middle protested.

"God will go with you."

"It's not the same."

I pointed to the stairs. "Go."

Middle careened up the stairs, stomping the whole way. I sighed, and turned to see that both Oldest and Youngest were wearing heavy coats. I pulled up my weather app. Yes, 44 degrees now, but going to be a high of 69. "Girls, you don't need your heavy coats." Middle stomped back into the kitchen. "A light coat will be sufficient. You don't want to be walking home wearing a heavy winter jacket when it's 69 degrees."

Oldest agreed and went to change her coat.

Middle pulled a maroon sweatshirt over her shirt, which sported dark rose pink and mauve-purple horizontal stripes. "Momma, can pink kill you?"

She would be the one to ask that. "No, it can't."

"I think it can."

"No, it can't."

"It's not worth the risk!"

I chuckled. This kid. "Come on, guys. Out the door."

*     *     *

You'd think that's all to the story, but it's not.

I ran out later in the morning to pick up the last few items we needed for costumes and stuff.

When I came back, Hubby and Special Edition were deep in discussion about something (I'm still not clear entirely on what), and then Hubby proceeded to involve math in the plans he'd left for the creation of the hat Youngest needs for her costume (Special Edition and I were both horrified).

And then I remembered.

I was going to write this post.

I smacked my hand to my forehead. "'Can pink kill you?'"

Hubby laughed. "Middle?"

"Who else?"

And then I explained Middle's refusal to go up and fetch her glasses alone.

"Because it's creepy, right? I keep telling you this house is haunted, and no one believes me!" Special Edition sputtered.

I grinned at her. The house settles, has water that moves through pipes to heat it, and it was built in 1959. I'm pretty sure it's not haunted. "I told her God would go with her."

Special Edition crossed her arms and frowned. "But that's not enough to save you from the hellspawn."

"Actually," I pointed out, "it is. Kinda one of the perks of being God."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Lord Speaketh

Tonight, dinner here at Casa Fries was my take on ham and scalloped potatoes. However, I cheat when cooking whenever possible (sorry, my organic friends and family; just gasp, shudder, and look the other way--this is more about the conversation than the food anyway), so I don't do the whole white-sauce-from-scratch thing, slice real potatoes, slice real onions paper thin, and chop up leftover ham.

No, I cut major corners. Two boxes of au gratin potato mix. Onions, previously chopped and frozen. And one boneless, pre-sliced ham, set in lukewarm water in the sink to thaw after being removed from the deep freeze.

After letting the ham thaw for a couple of hours when I got home from work, I went downstairs when I had about two hours left until dinnertime, figuring two hours in the crock pot would work for this meal. (I figured wrong. More on that later.) Youngest wandered in and wanted to help. So we layered potatoes from the boxed mixes, cut up ham, chopped semi-frozen onions (left to thaw on the counter while the ham thawed in the sink), and the seasoning packets from the au gratin potato mixes. I threw in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, topped the whole mess with four tablespoons of butter, and added in the liquids as prescribed on the box mixes. 

When pulling the freezer ingredients, I had a brief flirtation with the idea of topping the whole shebang with tater tots, but decided the flavors wouldn't work. The tots stayed put.

When we reached the two-hour mark and the potato slices at the top were still not quite done, Youngest and I poured everything into my largest Corningware crock and I threw it into the microwave for five minutes while we put green beans into a two-quart glass dish and started setting the table.

So the five of us sat down to eat--Special Edition is visiting this week--and Youngest asked everyone if they liked dinner.

I was still serving myself and Oldest, but I pointed out that Special Edition and Middle were both inhaling their food, so that was promising.

"I didn't take all that much," Special Edition protested.

Middle, down to the last three bites or so, breathed heavily around a mouthful of food.

I shot her a glance. "If you wouldn't inhale so fast, then your food wouldn't be so hot when you're trying to eat it."

Middle just grinned impishly.

I reached for Youngest's plate to serve her some of the casserole. "I considered putting tater tots on top of this."

Special Edition stared at me in shock. "Why didn't you?"

I shrugged. "I don't know."

"When you get ideas to put tater tots on things, listen to them. That is the Lord speaking to you!" Special Edition insisted.

Conversation moved on to what each of the girls is going to be for Halloween tomorrow (you'll have to wait for tomorrow's post, but Middle's is especially brilliant). Since Hubby has to work, Special Edition is going to walk the girls around the neighborhood so I and my crankle don't have to.

This led to Special Edition attempting to wheedle her two favorite entrees, her favorite potato dish, and her favorite Christmas treat as compensation for doing the actual trick-or-treating. "Lemon chicken. And chicken and stuffing. And those potatoes sliced with the cheese. And the peanut butter balls."

Now, there's no way I can make all of that this week, let alone in a day.

"Of course I'll share it with you all, but most of the lemon chicken should come my way." Special Edition smirked.

"Hey, I already made you both of those dishes for your birthday this year."

"She should have them!" Youngest piped up.

"Stop helping!"

Special Edition laughed.

Oldest admitted her agreement.

"She doesn't need your help, either!"

Special Edition explained, "This is really Poppa's fault. Poppa's and yours."

I gave her an incredulous look. "How is this my fault?"

"Poppa was the one who told me last week in the car that he had to work on Halloween and that you would have to take the girls--" she heaped "poor Momma" emphasis on the words.

"So, I wasn't even there, and this is my fault?"

"Yes. It's affirmative action." She looked supremely proud of herself.

Okay then.

Thankfully, Special Edition chuckled and said she was happy to go trick-or-treating with the girls.

So I think I'm off the hook.


Friday, October 26, 2018

We Interrupt Your Dinner to Report a Hilarity

I was feeling lazy tonight, and so I decided to make a fan-favorite here that I call Baked Potato Toppers. It sounds far fancier than it is, as it's just baked potatoes topped with whatever we feel like: ham, cheese, what have you.

When I went downstairs at 6:30 to scrub potatoes and put them in the oven, I suspected the kids might still want this for dinner even though it meant eating at 7:30 instead of scrapping that and letting them scrounge a more immediate dinner right away.

Enthusiasm for my original (and simple) dinner plans confirmed, Oldest asked a question about her homework, which happened to be studying the list of Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Her paper, rather than list the text of the Amendments themselves, rather showed what they were about. She was confused about a couple of them, and we had a lively twenty-minute discussion about what the very important Bill of Rights was, especially as it related to a fictional account of me stealing a couple of TVs from Walmart and hiding them in our bomb shelter, my guilt or innocence depending on a couple of scenarios, and why the 19th Amendment was so important to us personally as women. We also discussed why the 24th Amendment was important to her and her sisters, as girls of color. (Look them up, people.)

Then I realized the time and went to scrub potatoes.

When we finally sat down to our very late dinner, Middle entertained us with a story about how she dislikes one of her (male) classmates. Intensely dislikes. Whatever word she used, she had to elaborate on it to her friend. "I loathe him," I think she said. Her friend asked for clarification at this point. "I hate him, I despise him, I can't stand him," Middle opined.

Here the friend showed she does not have Middle's vocabulary (not many sixth-graders do). "What does despise mean?"

Middle all but pounded the table as I carried my Winnie-the-Pooh tumbler into the room. "Context clues, woman!"

I almost dropped my cup.

And I immediately messaged the line to Waffle, so I wouldn't forget.

As dinner wrapped up, Middle was clearly not winding down. She had mischief in her eyes, and I'd already asked her to sit properly at the table. She sat on the floor like a dog instead. When I asked her to sit in her chair, she assumed a similar position, and would have barked if I'd not guessed that was coming next.

So I simply asked the kids to clear the table and put away the food. I contemplated the blackberry ginger ale I'd found at work--quite tasty, if you ask me--and prepared to get up and take my dishes to the kitchen.

That's when Middle moved from behind me over to the kitchen doorway with a maniacal shriek of laughter...that wouldn't stop. She bopped into the other room.

I considered things for a moment. "I think you'd better come back in here and tell me what you did."

Middle careened back in, shaking her head, curls flying riotously, laughing deliriously.

Okay then. I looked to her twin.

Youngest held up two slightly arched fingers. "She did this to you."

Bunny ears.

Middle shrieked again, giggles bouncing off the walls, much like she herself nearly was. "The difference is," she gasped, "when I did this to Dad, I was laughing at him!"

"As opposed to?" I said mildly, smiling.

The giggles burbled out. "I'm laughing at myself and what I did!"

I nodded and smirked. "I suppose you know, this means war."

 "I can't stop laughing!" She threw her head back and dodged, while I remained in my seat.

"You won't know when, or how..." I tried to say, and she whooped before the laughter overtook her.

I stood to bring my dishes to the kitchen, and she shrieked and dodged again, nearly falling over a chair, trying to escape. I left the kids to clean up, and then heard them come upstairs to get ready for bed, because it was now after 9.

Deciding it was really a shame that I hadn't gotten a photo of Middle's face in the midst of her laughter during the meal, I moseyed down the hall from my room and found her filling the tank for the humidifier in the hall bath.

"Momma, I made a mess, but I'll clean it up," she assured me.

Uh-huh. (But she did. We'll give her credit.)

"I need a picture of your hilarious face," I told her.

"I'm not in the mood now. You have to surprise me."


I stepped out of the bathroom and into the hall for about ten seconds...

You're welcome.

Regular Maintenance

Here at Casa Fries, we have what's called radiant heat. This means we have water pipes running through our floors, carrying hot water around the house, thus warming the floors, our toes, and the air around us. Generally pretty efficient, toasty for the tootsies, makes the cats happy, and requires some management when we first turn on the heat for the winter.

Which I did about two weeks earlier than I planned, thanks to the first overnight frost happening last week.

But I digress.

This means Hubby and I have to often bleed air from the lines to make sure there's nothing but water flowing through, or the house doesn't heat evenly, which it isn't right now. My bedroom is warm; the upstairs hallway is significantly cooler; the girls' bedroom is chilly. The stairwells are rather obviously not piped and rely on that whole heat-rises thing.

One of the air bleed locations in the basement has gunk on it that will not allow me to loosen the cap. That's one for Hubby to deal with, as I discovered when I went to bleed those lines the other day (usually my responsibility, because I'm smaller and can get back there behind the boiler). The upstairs lines (there are five of them) are all lined up in my closet and require a screwdriver to open.

While I waited for the potatoes to bake for tonight's dinner, I figured I would bleed the lines again, both upstairs and downstairs. I searched for a wrench to tackle the crusty one downstairs, and then for a screwdriver for upstairs.

As I shoved things aside in the kitchen closet toolbox, I shouted, "I need a regular rock! Where did all the regular rocks go? This is a Phillips rock. I need a regular rock!"

Middle, who has been down this road before with one of us, apparently, wasn't fazed.

Youngest, however, wanting to be helpful, offered, "Do you want me to go outside and get one, Mom?"

I snorted. Middle chuckled a little. "No, honey. I don't need that kind of a rock."

I strongly suspect Middle has been shown this Far Side cartoon. It's the only way she would know I'm talking about a screwdriver.

I found a regular rock in the downstairs tool cupboards, by the way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Precise Definition

"Hey, Momma." Middle dropped into the rocker in the living room. "Guess what!"

I aimed the Roku remote (one of our wiser fiscal choices, that; wish we'd switched years ago) around Youngest and paused the show I'd put on for background noise while I tried to get some editing work done. Hopefully this was an update after yesterday's conversation about friendship. "What?"

"You-know-who and I are back together."

"I'm so glad," I told her, genuinely happy. Middle-school friendships are so often fraught with drama, and I was relieved this episode was short-lived.

"And I called one of my friends flamboyant today, but they didn't know what I meant, and so I had to explain that it means flashy and crazy and overly dramatic, and she didn't understand why I have to be so sesquipedalian, and..."

My brain screeched to a halt. I knew the word, but the definition escaped me. Fortunately, I had open in a browser tab, and a quick flick switched it to the dictionary side.

"Did you say sesquipedalian?"

Her eyes widened. "Maybe."

"Did they say that about you? Or did you say that about yourself?"

"What? No. I didn't say that."

I pinned Middle with a look. "I know you said it. I heard it."

She grinned. "I said it about me."

"Okay. I was just checking." I cocked my head and studied her. "Where did you hear it?"

"I don't know." She skipped out of the room.

I watched her go. Middle's my wordie. She likes to try to stump me. I at least knew how to spell the word, and Google doesn't recognize it here as correct. (Neither does spellcheck anywhere else I've mentioned it so far.)

Middle is the definition of sesquipedalian, given to using long words.

And she very nearly stumped me today.

I've got to up my game.