Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I know I will miss this, but please let me concentrate on not throwing up

I was so sick today throwing up. There is nothing worse than nausea, especially when it is nausea and vomiting for no good reason. 

The girls spent the day at the neighbor's house since we didn't have school because of the Great Chill. Susannah spent the whole day next to me, happily keeping up a running commentary. I literally typed this verbatim and it was rapid and WITHOUT ONE BREATH except as I opened the package and she took a deep delighted breath.

Me:  Mmm. Hmm.

Susannah: "Hey, Mom, pretend this is a chair and this is my bed. Why do I have to be in this bed? It is not so comfy? I have to use a flashlight to go to my bed? See that little light there? That is my flashlight? Isn't that such a good idea? It is cool. Uggggh. Now I can't sleep with my flash light. We are playing a game, pretend I said to my mom, I just can't play with my flashlight, and pretend I am your kid and you are my mom. And I said to my dad, Dad, no wait, this is a game where someone got my flashlight on and I said to my Dad, someone got my flashlight on. I think my mom did it. No like that. Don't lay on the side like that. I lay here. OOH! I saw the mailman run. There is a package! Ooh, Mom, what do you think it is? Oh, Mom, lets open it. It's a blanket! Look at your new blanket! I love it because it is cold! I love cold blankets! Oh, Mom, look at Gage. Gage, you are such a good cat. You are my cat forever and ever until you DIE! Oh, Mom, look at Gagie, he is thirsty. I will get him water. Watch me jump on this blanket. FLAPPYBOOM! Pretend you teached me that, Mom. Pretend you are a really good teacher. Hey, Mom, can I have some of that really good cereal that Dad buys at the grocery store that is different from the other cereal that he buys the other day? Mom. Mom. Stay awake, Mom. Hey, Mom, you let the DOGS OUT!"

Monday, January 6, 2014

E-mail from Frankie to her cousins over Christmas break

(my favorite is the P.S.. It is difficult to get proper spies when they can't read, I would think)

spies only club

Dear my special agent,

You are not listening when I call you so I am writing you a letter.
We need proof that moo-moo (my Oma) is in the shower.
My plan is I call you and I put my phone next to the door of the bathroom.
Then you stay on the phone to listen to see if it is really moo-moo.
After a while I will come to your office and you tell me what you heard.

Your best agent Frances

p.s. If you can not read let Oma read it

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Maudlin review

Susannah turned three on Sunday. It is official. I have no more babies. I wish I had another one. Everyone I say that to looks baffled. Three is enough. Be thankful for what you have. You can barely handle the three you have. You've got other things to worry about.

I know all that in my head. It's my heart that is hurting.

Life doesn't always turn out the way you hoped it would. You aren't always who you've hoped to be.

Sukie got to go to Chuckie Cheese with a friend on Saturday. Oma took her, a three-year-old, a five-year-old, a seven-year-old and an eight-year-old. By herself. Dean and I watched four hours of Call the Midwife in peace. It didn't do much to quell my baby longing, yet at the same time when I looked at all those new mothers, with squalling, grunting, squeaking babies, I know that those sleepless nights haunt me in a way that they don't haunt others. Sleeplessness was the beginning of my undoing.

On Sunday we celebrated with a cake and ice cream and some pot roast to boot. Sukie got Barbies and My Little Ponies that are all her own, since her big sister, Molly, hoards them and wants nothing more than to hide out in her room and play alone. I got a small feeling of schadenfreude watching her covet Sunset Shimmer and Princess Cadence. She has it coming.

Sukie is always delighted to get something of her own. She is always delighted to get a hand-me-down, too. Basically she's delighted with everything. One thing that she is not delighted with is when we read the illustrated version of the song On Top of Spaghetti. When the meatball turns to mush and the bush presumably eats the mush that is tasty as can be, she is indignant because a bush doesn't eat meatballs and I am forbidden to sing that part of the song. We have to choose another book then, perhaps an adventure of Frank-uh-Lin the turtle as she pronounces it, and we snuggle together and look at his cozy stone house and paradoxically delicious appearing fly pies. after we are done reading she begs me to sleep with her for two minutes, no five minutes, no all the minutes. She remains as thick and delectable as ever. I tell her every day "I like your little body" and she nods knowingly and then backs up so I can give her thick little thighs a squeeze and start kissing her neck until she snorts with laughter. I have to make her snort before I can stop.

She is a smart little things, memorizing her verses for Awana earnestly in her little blue Cubbies vest. "Mommy, did you know that God created the heavens and the earth?" I did, baby, I did.

Molly has finally started to adjust to kindergarten and has found a new friend whom she hugs multiple times at the end of the day since they won't see each other for a full evening. But she needs many kisses and hugs in the morning to be convinced to leave. The other major problem with kindergarten is that she refuses to wear anything but two outfits. One is a cute top with cream colored leggings that have to be washed quickly in the evening since they go under a long tie-dyed tank top maxi dress, blue and faded which she prefers to wear with high socks and pink tennis shoes. I've given up and let her look like a homeless child, hoping against hope that some child will ask her why she wears the same dress to school three days a week. So far, no luck. She also refuses to wear any clothing to bed except the same pair of aqua underpants every night. Since she also wants to wear them in the morning, you can imagine that washing them proves difficult. Don't judge me. She stretches out on a blue fleece blanket that has to be pulled taut and smoothed meticulously and then falls asleep in the chilly air perfectly stretched out like a corpse until we sneak in later and pull up her covers. She is just like her father; she can fall asleep in seconds, yet just like her mother in that she does not wake up bright-eyed like her big sister.

Frankie seems like such a grown-up girl. She swaggers around with her newly pierced ears and her newly acquired multiplication skills and knows how to get cereal for her little sisters and find my car keys. She is still tiny, her little chiseled face and olive skin so beautiful. She won't let me near her hand in public and resists any physical expression of affection until she is tucked in her bed with her stuffed puppy and dog blanket and then she lets me curve next to her and brush her hair back from her face. She is growing more mysterious to me, more other, while Sukie is still entangled with me in a way Frankie is not. I know this is how it is supposed to be, but if don't feel ready for it. I don't feel ready to be just me again.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Eulogy to the living

It's been one of those weeks that I just can't accomplish anything. I swear I have been working from sun-up to sun-down hauling kids to school, folding sheets, trying to get the diarrhea stains out of the carpet (Sukie), the poop out of a beloved flower girl dress (Gage), boiling pasta, covering sourdough with great swaths of peanut butter and folding underwear. Good heavens, the underwear. Where does all the underwear come from? I do NOT bathe my children this often. I folded at least thirty pairs this afternoon and they bathe no more than twice a week. And I do not remember to tell them to change their underwear between baths. I know it hasn't been fifteen weeks since I did laundry. I wish it had been fifteen weeks because then I would not have wasted so much of my life methodically spraying with Shout, soaking with OxiClean, rubbing with Fels-Naptha, daubing with bleach, and line drying. There is a character in the mediocre thrillers by Lee Child that is determined to travel through life so unencumbered that he throws away his clothing rather than launder it. He invariably restocks it at some army surplus store and must look for extra-large shirts because, of course, he is six foot five as any good hero should be. With the amount of overtime Dean works, I am considering taking up this practice. I realize it would be wiser to put it into retirement savings, but the temptation of just throwing away that striped shirt with the greasy feta stain fills me with optimism about life.

And I am low on optimism.

Molly started kindergarten three weeks ago.

She hates it. And I hate it. She just told me that she is trying really hard but she can't stop thinking about it.

Every day, she cries and tells me she doesn't want to go. I have to walk her into the classroom, with her clutching my hand and begging me not to go, and hand her off weeping while I beat a hasty exit at the recommendation of her teacher. Then I look back and see her little blond pony-tailed self, sitting quietly crying in her chair and want to scoop her up and run.

This does not seem right. If it's good for her then why does it make both of us weep? She already knows how to read. She makes friends. She speaks respectfully to adults. She colors in the lines, cuts a straight line, counts to a hundred then by 2s then by 5s, does addition and subtraction. She's done in my opinion. DONE.

Kindergarten is all day every day. She is five-years-old. It gets better most days, but I visited her for lunch one day and she sat and cried and clutched my arm and couldn't eat a bite because her stomach hurt. Her stomach was the one that was hurting but my stomach was the one on fire with a plan to escape.

She has made new friends now and that helps. When she comes flying out of school at the end of the day, she is dirty and stringy-haired and laughing and she just shoves her backpack at me and goes running away to keep playing with one of the many blue-eyed blond little girls that all look alike to me.

I always thought Frankie was the most like me, but Molly is following in the great tradition of psychosomatic symptoms of anxiety about going to school While my sister spent the first day at our elementary school meeting the adorable blond best friend she would keep through high school, I spent the first day of fifth grade at my new elementary school clinging and crying and waiting all day to get back to the safety of my home and a good book and a bowl of Cheerios. My dad always told me I was ninety percent Cheerios.

My dad hasn't said that in a long time.

I find myself saying things about my dad in the past tense.

Life has dealt our family a crappy hand these past few months. I know I'm supposed to look around at all the good things I have, and I see them. I see them all around. I just don't feel like focusing on them right now. I don't think being grateful and being sad are mutually exclusive. I've decided it's okay to delighted with something and feel wretched about another thing. Watching my dad descend into dementia and walking around looking like he's a hundred years old, wracked by pain, is gut-wrenching. I can count my blessings all day long, and I do, but every time he can't figure out the up and down motion of his lift chair I want to punch a hole in the wall.

The worst part is that I am getting used to him being gone.

Sometimes it hits me square in the face and I have to catch my breath that the man I used to turn to for the answers to all my questions is fading. When Dean and I first got married, we went to High Point, North Carolina, the furniture capital of the United States. I remember calling my dad and asking him if the bedroom set we were contemplating buying was a good deal. I waited with bated breath and trusted his advice, more than my new husband's, about solid wood construction before we went ahead and made and offer. A thousand dollars for a bed, two dressers and two nightstands. Every time I look at it I think about how tall and capable and knowledgeable he was and how I never looked at that furniture with regret.

If I needed help with a college paper, he was the person I asked to help make sense of Pragmatism. He was useless in chemistry, worse in physics. But we walked through Philosophy and Bioethics all semester long.

I got so lucky with my dad. Not many daughters can say that when their heart was broken by a college boyfriend that their dad curled up with them and let them cry. But mine did. He even helped me decide that marrying Dean was a good idea. Most dads would have cleared their throats and handed their phones over to their wives, but my dad knew that I would hear "for heaven's sakes, Saskia, I can't tell you whether to marry Dean any more than I can tell you if Hillary Clinton's favorite color is magenta." We were in D.C. at the time, Bill's clothes were under scrutiny. But my dad sat down and told me some things he thought were important for making a marriage last a long time and he didn't seem to think it was crazy that I, a white western educated woman in her twenties, would want to check in before I took the weight of that promise on my finger. Whether that story tells more about me or about him, I don't know. I just know that throughout my life, he's loved me and taken care of me. And it's becoming my turn to take care of him. It's a lot earlier than I though it would be. I thought my grandchildren would be here before I'd have to think about him being gone from Christmas photos.

Sometimes he makes it hard to be as gentle to him as you know he would be to you in the same circumstances. He is riddled with anxiety and asks the same questions over and over again which are never answered to his liking. The whole initial confusion about whether his most recent fracture was bad enough to warrant surgical intervention is still whirling in his mind, though since the fracture got worse, all the surgeons we have consulted have been on the same page: surgery at University of Michigan. My dad feels excluded from the decision and it is terrible to say that he is. Even getting a good history of where and how bad his pain is can be unreliable and my mom and I have to fight the temptation to stand behind him and make the coo-coo twirl near our ears.

It is a terrible thing to watch a mind change and diminish in front of your very eyes. I worked in a nursing home after college and the one thing everyone asked me was "Is it sad?" And it wasn't. It was the hardest physical labor I have ever done, it was relentless and required enormous reserves of kindness and patience, but it wasn't sad. It was funny. It was funny when the preacher's old wife snarled that we were all a bunch of "cabbage assholes." It was sweet when the old dancer from Spain did a little three step with one of the aides. It was funny when the old man with Parkinson's thought you were getting fresh with him when you were giving him a sponge bath. It was sweet when you lay next to an old woman, daughterless, and shared a chocolate together in her hospital bed.

It's only sad when you know who someone was before.

I'm working on finding the joy in who my dad is now. He is still the dad that greets me with "Well, hello, tiny farm. Aren't you looking pretty today." He is still the dad that likes to hear all the antics that the kids have been doing and whose face fills with incredible delight when he hears that the three reasons Susannah refused to sleep last night were 1) her nervousness (newuh-vuh-ness), 2) there was a "a little of chocolate" on her pillow and 3) the crown she made at BSF was a little ripp-ED. He likes when Frankie reads to him. He loves to have a good snack and a tall glass of ice water. He likes when my mom babies him, though he gives her a terrible time about everything. He likes to whisper to me that he worries about her, that it is hard to be taken care of when he is supposed to be taking care of her. He doesn't know that it has been years since he has been taking care of her, that she is a widow in nearly every way.

He is such a good and decent and wonderful man, a faithful husband, a loving father, possessed with a scholar's mind, teacher, preacher, poet, painter. He wrote letters to us in college from the viewpoint and under the nom de plume of the cat, called our babies "some nice kind of sacks of junks" and played the piano on our backs every time we practiced. That thumping on my shoulder blades helped me concentrate. I miss that. I miss that so much.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When Daddy works late

Episode One, 8:45 p.m.:

Me:  Susannah, it is is time to go to bed. Quit turning your light on.

Sukie:  But I like to thleep in the light. I alwayth thleep in the light. I do. I alwayth do.

Me:  You need to close your eyes now.

Sukie:  I can't. I can't clothe my eyeth. I need to thee. I need to thee, (sotto voce) if I am DEAD.


Sukie: (eyes darting, followed by a lengthy intake of breath): I AM ALIVE!

Episode Two, 9:15 p.m.:

Me:  You know that you can't go to preschool tomorrow if you don't get a good night's sleep.

Sukie:  Not at that prethchool.

Me:  Yes, at every preschool they require in the rules that you get a good night's sleep.

Sukie:  Nope. Not at BSF they don't.

Me:  Yes, you HAVE to sleep before you go.

Sukie (triumphantly):  But they have a bed there.

Me:  No, they don't have a bed there.

Sukie (raising eyebrows smugly):  Maaaaybe. Maaaaaaybe they do.

Episode three, 10:13 p.m.:

Sukie (settling in to the couch):  You wanna watch Pound Puppies or Kipper?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sad times

It's all Sukie, all the time, but lets face it, toddlers are the most hilarious family members.

Today we stopped at Rite Aid for a few things and I picked up a bag of cotton balls to take off my nail polish.

A few minutes after we got home, I found Susannah sitting on my bathroom floor with small white fluffs of cotton stuck to her tongue saying, "Mom, thith ith NOT cotton candy."

Poor sap.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beside the point

Me:  Sukie, you need to stop crying. It is time for bed and you need to be obedient.

Sukie:  No, I don't.

Me:  Susannah, the Bible says that you need to obey your mom and dad. That is what God wants you to do.

Sukie:  It doesn't say that.

Me:  Yes, it does say that in the Bible. It says your job is to be obedient.

Sukie:  No, it doesn't. It doesn't say that. It says that Jericho's wall fell down.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bedtime routine: Version A (note to executor, proceed quickly and carefully to avoid defaulting to Version D which invariably involves thoughts of self-injury)

Sukie (2):  I weally, actually, Mama, am not tiyewed.

Me:  I think you are.

Sukie:  No, weally, Mama, I am not TIYEWED.

Me:  Well, it is night time and everyone is sleeping.

Sukie:  Are the tuwkeys sthleeping? I thaw the tuwkeys cwossing the road. They were tho cute. There were three yittle tuwkeys and a big Mama tuwkey. They are not sthleeping, Mama. They are not.

Me: Yes, the turkeys are sleeping.

Dean (stepping in to the room):  Hey, Sukie? Mrs. Gobble, the turkey mom? She just called to ask if you would stop crying because the babies are having a hard time sleeping.

Sukie:  But it ith not night-time. The tuwkeys can still pway a yittle bit.

Dean:  No, Mrs. Gobble was very clear. She is in the backyard and she can hear you. She says that the turkeys will not be jumping on the trampoline with you tomorrow if you keep crying.

Sukie:  Dey will jump on the twampoline with me? No, you are being thilly Daddy.

Me:  OK, Dean, thanks so much for that. Sukie, the birds are going to sleep though, so you have to get in your nest.

Sukie:  Oh, yeah! You will be the momma biwd and you will go and get me sthome woawms to eat in the mowning? You will bring them in your beak and put them into my beak and go tweet tweet and be kithing me becauthe I am your little baby biwd?

Me:  Absolutely.

Sukie (grunting with pleasure):  OK, Mama biwd, tweet tweet!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A lament for the longest days of the year


Every August, like a dog returning to its vomit, I dredge up the homeschooling vs. public school debate with Dean. He is always kind. He sympathizes and wishes things were different, but, Sask? You remember when you homeschooled, Frankie, right? How when it was your turn to host art class, sometimes you did a project on pointillism and sometimes you frantically found tissue paper and had everybody glue it on a heart? And it wasn't Valentine's Day? And you also remember how you enthusiastically bought math curriculums and seventeen penmanship workbooks and you did about a half hour a day and then mooned around the house wondering how to fill the interminable hours?

Yes, I remember. But I also remember, and I mean no offense to teachers, I am sure it is mighty difficult to try to adapt a lesson on addition to twenty-seven children, how that hour a week in math put Frankie right smack where she needed to be for second grade. And to be honest, her penmanship still stinks.

It just seems like cheating to send your kids to school. It's like using a gift bag. We all know that a gift bag is cheating at the life game of wrapping presents. Ditto store-bought birthday cards, frozen stuffed shells and pillowcase dresses bought online. This is how my brain works. This is what all those straight A's have come to. I do not want to get a B in homemade cornbread.

Do I really get to stay home with just Susannah and drop Frankie and Molly off for eight hours each morning? Totally cheating. I am used to three tiny pairs of hands rubbing cherry lemonade into new shorts. I am used to concentrating on my BSF lesson while simultaneously filtering out the flying limbs and wild cheering of three girls practicing gymnastics landings from the coffee table. That is a skill. That is a skill I have finely honed.

It sounds lovely in theory to have naptime to myself, but I am dreading sending the girls back to school in two weeks. Two sad, pitiful little weeks. This summer has gone down in history as the one in which far too much time was spent sitting by a bedside in the ICU and not nearly enough time spent lathering myself in SPF 70 while the children eat handfuls of sandy grapes. I only had to dig two sand holes for Sukie to pee in. Nobody peed in bushes or beach grass. Hopefully, no one peed in the pool. We all  peed in the lake. There's no shame. That's what rip currents are for. To take our pee out to the middle of the sea.

We have spent one day, ONE DAY, at "the lake house", otherwise known as Carley's parents' house on Pickerel Lake. All year long, in the dead gray of February and March and April, I hear a non-stop refrain: "When can we go to the lake house? Tomorrow? When, mom? Call Miss Carley and ask her? WHY NOT, MOM? Here I will dial the phone! Here she is!". If the sum of the intensity of pleading plus the number of eighty degree days in Michigan summers minus the days when Carley's parents are sick of having six kids in the their home equals the number of days spent whiling away the hours lakeside, then this summer was a FAIL.

My children, of course, enjoyed every minute of their summer, regardless of how much their Opa suffered. The sicker he got, the more the fun was layered upon fun. I blame their father for this. Dean is incapable of allowing normal summertime benign parental neglect. When he is at work, I subscribe to the policy that the more time the kids spend playing in cardboard boxes on the neighbor's deck, the greater the number of neural pathways they will be laying down to make their little brains able to fire non-stop the rest of their lives. That's right, me ignoring them means that in their adult lives their brains will encounter new information and BANG! BANG! BANG! those neurons will shoot off like rockets. They will thank me on their knees for the times I didn't play pretend with them.

Dean refuses to buy into the motto of my parenting: "DO NOT ADD FUN TO FUN". If they are happy coloring rocks in the front yard, they are having fun. Do not add hot dogs. If they are busily working their way through reams of printer paper in the name of illustrating their own creative writing, do not offer to take them to the pool. Happy on the trampoline, no ice cream at Whippi Dip. Riding scooters in the driveway, no need for the drive-in. No, no and some more no to move-sized Skittles while we are making s'mores around the campfire.

There is such a thing as TOO MUCH FUN. And my children have had it. Maybe it's not cheating to have a little of it myself this year. Throw caution to the wind and buy a Lunchable or two.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yesterday the babysitter handed me five peed in underpants in a stack

I imagine you have surmised that the giant black X slashed across my husband's photo is not to make an announcement that he has been slashed out of our family. I do admit that I find it kind of funny so I haven't taken more than about two seconds to figure out why our header picture is doing that. Things that take time for me to find to learn. Irritate me. Just give me a page to read and I will be fine.

My dad is HOME from the hospital! Can I get a H? H! Can I get an I? I. I know it spells HI, I was intending to go to hallelujah but then I realized I have never been a cheerleader at heart, although if they offered cheerleading alone in a room, I might like it. Not shouting at the computer screen though. It loses something.

My dad is using a walker to get out of bed and go to the bathroom. He was wearing jeans which shows he is relaxed. The running joke in our household is that if Rich was going to "slip into something more comfortable" it would be stiff denim jeans and a nice thick leather belt. Nothing like double-enforced seams all over your pelvis and a nice metal buckle grinding into your belly button to say RELAX.
We are still not at the point where I can laugh about things he did and said. This makes me sad because I do so love to laugh.

Speaking of laughing, Sukie is keeping us laughing. She has decided suddenly after telling me in no uncertain terms that she had no interest in going on the potty, thank you very much, please hand me a diaper and I will put it on myself. While my nieces were here for ten days, they (Emily and Anne-Marie), were forced to play forts and trains and play kitchen food and house and school while I sat back and smiled evilly and winked sadistically. Child, I feel the pain of being Rainbow Dash again. I feel it but you must walk through it. Walk through the feeling.

Anyway, I was walking without my glasses to see who was playing the drums with such vigor (Jude) and I kept saying that it smelled like the cat pooped. Seriously, people, I smell poop. Can't find anything, look in the litter, look everywhere until, there, lying motionless like a deceptive Hostess roll among the fake plastic lettuce heads and tiny serrated chopping knives, was a turd about the size of thumb, casually leaning near the edge of the train table.

It wasn't Gage, our fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, we don't really know, cat, because his hallmark is coily poo with bloody streaks. Don't panic. He's had them for fourteen years. Still keeps on trucking. So I called Susannah down the stairs.

Me:  Sukie, what's this?

Sukie (casually turning to go back upstairs): Oh, yeah.

Me:  You mean you knew this was here?

Sukie: Yeah. Ith a turd.

Me:  But do we leave turds lying on the basement carpet?

Sukie (shrugging and climbing the stairs):  Well, ith fine. There wath a hole in my diaper. It fell out.

I mean, really, what are you going to do, you know. What do you do, but put the past solidly (no pun intended) behind you and move on to the next thing. We all know the past can stink.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You pour out your pearls before swine

Me:  Girls, I just really think it is selfish of Frankie to turn eight. Right, Frank, you with me on this? I mean who wants to be eight. What can you do at eight that you couldn't do at seven. Plus being seven again will be so much easier the second time around. Are you following me, people?

Frankie:  No, mom, I'm sorry but I want to be seventeen. I can stay seventeen but I want to be a teenager.

Me: Molly, you love me, will you stay five?

Molly: Mom, I will stay six. I will do that for you. Wait, no I think, um, eight. No, sixteen. I definitely want sixteen.

Me: Sukie, you want to stay 2 right?

Sukie: Nope.

Me: How old then?

Sukie: (a big fat smile) ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE!!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

I've decided to finish the story in this forum since really, I figured anyone who cared enough to read those lengthy Facebook epistles may care enough to add themselves to the follower list or just lurk in the darkness of the Internet and then suddenly spring out of my bushes and say "I will slice you" since you know the ins and outs of my life.

My dad is doing wonderfully as far as his delirium goes. In fact, he seems better than he has in a year. Well, except physically. He is as stooped as the letter C, too tired to cut up his turkey with gravy, in constant pain and his sleep is interrupted during the night by pills, shift changes, third shift garbage changers. He is making progress, walking 100 feet yesterday, practicing going up a step or two, wheeling about in his wheelchair and working as hard as he can at recovering. He tries to refuse pain medication but you can see him squirming and wincing after working for three hours straight on therapy during the day. He pays for it later. The doctor has said that for every day he was immobile it will take between three to seven days of being in rehabilitation. He's 25 pounds lighter than he should be. While he worries he never should have had back surgery (well, yeah- but we can't appear and disappear into our future lives like the guy in the Time Traveller's Wife- which I enjoyed a great deal, fellow book lovers), I don't care of he is whittled down to his pinkie finger since it will just make it easier for me to pretend I am boxing with him and come really close to his face like he's done to me all these years.

One thing I have learned about my dad through this whole ordeal is that he is not a complainer. He told me tonight he couldn't believe that was true. He feels like he asks questions constantly, can't get himself fresh ice water at will, and bothers the nurses for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 4 a.m. since he has always loved a good midnight snack. He must have been in so much pain before his back surgery and we were hounding him about not organizing the extension cords in the new garage. I'm surprised he didn't wheel around and strike all of us with one of the terra cotta pots.

The other thing I have confirmed through this ordeal is, again, I would not be an inspiring disabled person. I would complain non-stop, hit people and require constant massages and Hershey bars. Through my feeding tube if necessary.

The recovery has taken, as Hillary Clinton said, a village.

Dean stayed up with my dad all night while working 88 hours in a week and filtering through enough medical information for us to be granted our MDs without argument. Fluid balance (my brain was hurting trying to remember the causes of hypervolemic hyponatremia versus hypovolemic hyponatremia, versus hypovolemic hypernatremia, versus hypervolemic hypernatremia, versus just take a salt tablet and don't bother the nephrologist anymore), differentials of anemia, mental status changes, fever with myoclonic jerking and elevated CBC with left shift and hyperhidrosis, coagulapathies, arterial blood gas abnormalities, blah, blah, blah, why didn't I become a lawyer or a lawn mower.

My mom sat at my dad's bedside for hours, sits with him and when he said a nurse was unkind in rehab, she swelled up like a peacock and pecked. She also gave him a sip of Diet Coke when he was under strict orders not to ingest any fluids by mouth, but hey, at least he'd go out caffeinated.

Molly, or as she is known in this family Big Old and In Need of Replacement Molly, abandoned her life in Philadelphia and has helped juggle the five complaining and bored children who couldn't enter the ICU for three weeks.

Matt drove here, drove to Detroit to park the car at the airport, flew back to Philadelphia, worked, flew to London for a while, flew back to Detroit and drove back here again last night. He also took all five children fishing tonight, calmly walking to the pond by my parent's new house hand-in-hand with four little girls and the world's most adorable four-year--old boy.

Molly's mother-in-law, Suzi, flew from Texas to Philadelphia to care for Sylvie and Jude and then hopped in a car with them to Michigan to make meals, clean, and do art projects with children.

 My aunt Jackie used her vacation time, traded in her flannel pajamas since she works from home, and got on a plane from Florida. Actually, since she works in Florida and I suspect the oppressive heat like a big wet woolen blanket that we have today here in Michigan is worse there, I myself would have a full beard and mustache of sweat if I were wearing flannel pajamas. And I am being incredible literal about the sweating. I come by it honestly from my own Opa, who despite the relatively cool temperatures in the church when we married, has a bib of dark blue sweat on his light blue shirt in the pictures.

The following week my nieces, Emily and Anne-Marie, came from North Carolina for over a week and played with my kids, loaded the dishwasher, did lots of laundry (ahem) and even cleaned out my refrigerator.

 My dearest friend Carley made a meal while in the throes of back pain herself, while babysitting nine children (three of whom were mine) and saying as usual, "Oh, it's no big deal. I'll just make some mini donuts with them and I've set out supplies to paint ceramic figurines while they are making a tepee in the back yard."

I met Sarah at the park, who distracted me by giving in to my pet paranoia and boldly went up to ask a family if the creepy staring man with the sunglasses had a child with him. Mom, keep reading after you call me to tell me to stop reading The Daily Mail.

My friend Jaime, in the middle of moving, took my children within ten minutes of my calling to say I needed somewhere to drop the kids while I raced to meet the ambulance at the emergency room. She even wrestled two 2 1/2 year olds, Susannah and her friend/nemesis Antoine.

 My insane friend Tudor (which is fortunately spelled this way, but rather unfortunately heard verbally at first) kept calling to invite my kids over while she is nursing newborn twins and has two toddlers and a husband stricken with panic at the thought of four girls getting married someday.

Tudor's parents, who have met me possibly twice, invited all of our children, Matt and Dean and Suzi, to the Muskegon Country Club for July Fourth dinner, bounce house, candy scramble and fireworks (Frankie declared it the best night of her life- so much for Sea World and ninety-dollar-an-hour horse carriages on Mackinac Island).

Our childhood friend, Sarah, who cackled her way through our childhood practically since she and Molly were born on the same day in Hackley Hospital, arranged from California to bring the world's biggest bag of Panera which had to have sent her back to work full-time.

Another childhood friend, Heather, remembers my dad from the days when we dressed up in my aunt Jackie's old pageant dresses (and SHAWLS, my how times have changed) and packed up and sent as fast as she could a sticker book for the kids and homemade zucchini bread from Boston.

A circle of women from my church and BSF brought meals for the whole family every other day for three weeks straight. And when I say meals, I don't mean a bag of McDonalds, I mean homemade bread, oven roasted vegetables, made from scratch frosted angel food cake, roasts, pot pies, salads, bowls of fruit, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, eclair ice cream cake, veritable Thanksgiving dinners. I usually bring a 9 x 13 of spinach manicotti and feel exceedingly proud of myself. I had no idea people spent the whole day cooking and came bearing styrofoam coolers the size of coffins or for extended family picnics. The looked like the former to me in the first three weeks, the latter in the recent days.

My Aunt Jan came to the ICU repeatedly. She came bearing Subway sandwiches and chocolate shakes and left a note for us to save the infamous piece of chewing gum that heralded my dad's return.

 My cousin Kathi came with her whole family and encouraged my Dad, after her ICU ordeal earlier this year, that the thoughts that he was not in a hospital bed but trying to escape from prison and seeing white bowls in the air while he was raving were completely normal and reassured him he'd eventually sort it out.

Janice, who knows the depths of sorrow in a way she could never ever verbalize, stood silently in Oregon in solidarity.

College room-mates, keepers of secrets, people who've seen me through joys and sorrows sent texts, commented on posts, e-mailed, called, private messaged.

My brother in every way but blood, Nathan, sent flowers from California after his parents told him my dad was so sick. He sent me and Molly the most loving e-mail and we couldn't get over that this boy that we met in Sunday School, grew up at camp with and fought with in dorm rooms was old enough and mature enough to send flowers. This is the same boy that laughed until he almost peed in the front seat of my car when I said "poopy-poopy-POOPY" in a high child's voice over and over and over again during the entire four hour drive home from college. Also, in my defense about the fighting he did stab a precious childhood picture of me repeatedly with a push pin which I held against him the entire time we were at Wheaton together.

My aunt Judy and Uncle Jerry prayed over us, my Aunt Ginger texted frantically, my Uncle Lane was the one I called sobbing to tell him my dad might never be back. Friends of my dad sent flowers, sat in the intensive care waiting room, brought boxes filled with chocolates and tiny packets of Nutella which Molly Jo licked in the corner.

Molly's friends in Philadelphia staked tomatoes and arranged playdates.

Friends wrote cards to my mother, visited, hugged.

The CEO of Mercy Health Partners, where my dad spent all of his days raving, also a friend of my dad and mom's came by (I'm looking at you for any available cash rewards Char and the other ICU nurses, therapists and aides who treated my dad like they would treat their own. I'm also looking at you specifically the one and only of a hundred kind ones that made me cry on the one night I needed the most grace.

Neighbors brought cookies, got tears in their eyes, brought the cat back a block, turned off hoses, almost called 911 when I suddenly was stricken with vertigo so badly I fell and hit the edge of the bathroom door while the toilet overflowed; yellow let it mellow, but not when you can't sleep and use toilet paper about 28 times. I know my neighbor Gina knows me well, but there is a difference between knowing someone and KNOWING someone.

And people prayed. Elementary school friends, junior high school friends, high school friends, college friends, P.A. school friends, church friends, BSF friends, neighbor friends, relatives from across the Atlantic and beyond.

Oh, how I prayed. I prayed to God flat on my face in the ICU after the neurosurgeon stood and fidgeted and looked me in the eyes. I prayed the morning the neurologist mentioned compassionate care, locked-in, let's wait and see before final decisions. I prayed thinking nothing could change the hard facts of an MRI.

And then God moved. He moved in response to his people crying out to Him. He parted the seas of sadness and literally lifted our faces from the ground. Is anything too hard for the Lord?

I can't stop writing about Him. I want a hundred daughters so I can name them Mercy, Grace, Faith, Victory, Hallelujah. I want a son to name him Mighty. I want to shout His name or the rocks will cry out.

I am sure I have forgotten a million other people and moments of grace, but I know in my bones now that my dad is loved and because people love my mom, my sister and me, by extension they love whom we love.

 In junior high, at my thirteenth birthday party, we played the sleepover game called Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board. A gaggle of giggling teenaged girls put one finger under a girl stretched out on the floor, rigid and unable to move. Then they each lifted with that single finger and the friend who was lying prostrate, a victim of the immutable law of gravity, when she should have plunged to the floor, instead rose a foot off the ground held only by the tiny weight distributed onto the one finger of each girl crowding around her.  We took turns being Stiff As A Board and lifting Light As A Feather. And this is exactly what it felt like, feeling the tiny nudge of a thousand fingers lifting us up, higher and higher.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another blog put your childhoods, girls, in one sentence that stabbed me through the heart.

"Please don't go."

Please don't go, girls. I love and cherish each new incarnation of your personalities. I wouldn't trade you at seven for who you were at five, but please, please, leave me with each of them. I would keep a hundred versions of each of you. I would study a million spelling words, pull the wagon thousands of miles, cut pounds of strawberries and rock you for days.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The three stooges

Frankie can be such a wonderful helper to me. If she is in a sweet mood (which she is ninety nine percent of the time, but the one percent can be fireworks), she is just like a little mother. She takes such good care of Susannah and likes to play day care which involves completely blocking off the computer room with all the kitchen stools and requiring Susannah and Molly to sit at small desks and obey stringent coloring rules. She also loves to make meals. The other night my mom helped her make a frozen lasagna (aren't I a wonderful homemaker?) and a yogurt sauce to go on top of vanilla ice cream. She blended blueberries and banana and pomegranate kefir in the food processor and poured it proudly over our dishes of ice cream. Yogurt is frankly one thing I have to choke down. She loves when I give her permission to make a concoction in the kitchen. Sweet concoctions involve marshmallows and hot chocolate powder and cinnamon and other sundries. Savory concoctions are sometimes coleslaw with mayonnaise and hot sauce. She is torn between being a chef or a kindergarten teacher. I vote for the kindergarten teacher. There is no one who likes a better funny anecdote about a kid better than Frankie. Except, maybe, me. I only wish she'd been awake for Susannah's bedtime conversation. It went as follows:

Susannah: I read the book (wrestling it from my grasp). AUGH, I can't do it. Why I can't do it? I CAN'T READ! Hey, Mama, I got this yucky booger! Here! I gonna get this other booger out. AUGH! Snot is keeping it in my nose. I can't get it out. AUGH!

Me: (inwardly wondering how a master's degree got me to this point)

Susannah: We have BSF tomorrow?

Me:  No, it's done. Did you like it? What did you learn?

Susannah:  I learn NOTHING!

Me:  You did, too. You had a story and singing every week. You know all your hymns. What were your stories about?

Susannah: I never had a story. NEVER EVER. NEVER.

Me:  (both metaphorically and literally rolling my eyes) What did you learn about God?

Susannah:  He up in heaven, high, high, high, up there on the wall.

Me:  On the cross?

Susannah:  No, right there (pointing to a spot on her pink wall).

Me:  (inwardly wondering how faithfully bringing her to BSF each week has gotten us to this point)

Susannah:  He's dead.

Me:  Who?

Susannah:  God. He's dead.

Me:  No, He's alive and we'll be with Him someday in heaven.

Susannah:  NO, WE WILL NOT! HE'S DEAD! I gonna go tell Daddy I learn about Jesus and He up in heaven and He's dead.

This was an excruciatingly difficult conversation not to guffaw through. I patted myself on the back for being such an excellent mother and bringing the conversation around to faith truths no matter how many times she interrupted me to shout "HE'S DEAD!". Plus, the boogers. It's moments like these where you see all your hard work really pay off.

We also have obviously really succeeded in instilling the value of education, grit and self-reliance in our children. I overheard Molly have the following conversation with my mom:

Oma:  What do you want to be when you grow up, Molly?

Molly: Oh, I'm not going to have a job or go to college.

Oma:  You're not? How are you going to support yourself?

Molly:  Oh, I think I'll sell paintings out of my house.

Oma:  You will? Are you good at painting?

Molly:  Not very. Mom is better.

Such drive and ambition. Our parenting has clearly waned with each child. We seem to be raising, in order of age, a productive teacher/chef, a lay-about welfare recipient, and a serial killer.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Me:  Molly, look at the beautiful sunset out your window.

Molly (joining me):  Wow, it's pretty, Mama.

Me:  Maybe the Lord will come back tonight. Did you know Jesus is coming back to earth again someday?

Molly:  Yes, and then everything that's bad will be good again.

Me:  You're right. That will be wonderful, won't it?

Molly:  Uh-huh. And then those mean pig-hogs will love people and not bite them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Susannah is busy "napping," which consists of yelling "I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!" followed by singing "I'm happy, so very happy! I've got the love of Jesus in my heart" in a deep growling guttural voice punctuated by either long burps or roars. I can't really tell.

I was so hoping that she would sleep and Molly would go to Oma and Opa's house for a while. No such luck! Molly has been having separation anxiety like crazy, even when going to her grandparents house to play. It drives me crazy, since it's not as though I am handing her off to be tortured with sharpened butcher knives, she gets to play on the iPad and eat gummy bears. Speaking of butcher knives, Frankie managed to stab herself in the chest with one. I had a cutting board on the counter with a knife lying on it that I had used to cut apples. It was beneath the cabinet where we keep myriad treats and I had yelled downstairs that indeed she and Molly could have one, while I was putting Susannah down for a nap. They take every advantage when I just want them to be quiet while I read three books, sing My Little Sunshine and arrange four tiny dolls, two purses, four play phones, three stuffed animals and four "cozy blankets." Susannah arranges all of them while she is sitting up and then when she lays down and they all become crooked she yells "AW, YOU METHED ME UP!!!".  I digress. So while Frankie was standing on the counter, she somehow slipped off and landed on the butcher knife which stabbed her in the left side of her rib cage. We decided against stitches for two reasons. One, Frankie was screaming that she would rather have any sized scar than possibly go in for stitches and two, I thought perhaps they would call Child Protective Services since the story was too bizarre to be true. Yes, officer, that stab wound beneath her heart was caused by her falling and landing on a butcher knife BLADE SIDE UP.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


My husband , I realize gets short shrift on this blog. Clearly such wonderful children could not be, as Hillary would agree, raised without a village. And the headmaster of the village is Dean. He is the wind beneath the wings, the rememberer of AWANA patches, the loader and unloader of the dishwasher (kindness, yes, irritation at my stacking abilities, boy howdy), the one who finds extended RV trips genuinely fun, the one who keeps Tim Horton's in business, the tenderest of patient caregivers, the most outraged by customer service.
He has been at my side since he first started teasing me over fourteen years ago leaning over the fragrant remains of the cadaver we were assigned together. When the words "I'm a Christian" came out I was smitten. God brought him to me after a time of great sorrow dating people I thought were good matches. He took Dean and I, different as can be and saw that our hearts fit together to make a unit that has rolled through sickness and health, through more sickness and more and joy and sorrow and we are rolling forever, me and my Milwaukee boy.

He turned 45 this week and he doesn't act a day older as he piles three kids in a blanket and swings them around the house. He still smells good -all the time-no matter how many perennials I've made him dig up in the full sun. He can fix anything; my parents' favorite phrase when a car dies, a refrigerator light won't work, the gutters are askew, is "We'll have Dean take a look at that."

He collects cross-country skis to outfit armies. He picks up toys and picnic tables and bookshelves from the side of the road. He buries dead cats, soothes crying babies, makes lasagna, and loves all things having to do with spicy wings. He sleeps perfectly still on his back, like an sleeping angel and only stirs when someone calls "Daddy!."

Happy Birthday, Dean, I don't tell you enough that you are my dear, dear lover, my fiercest friend, my protector, the father of my precious girls, and my greatest earthly blessing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day: Love is Doing And Not

Dear girls,

Something I have been thinking about recently (in addition to how to get away with the perfect icicicle murder):

NEVER purposefully inflict pain on another person, especially someone you've said you love. This encompasses a lot of things, girls. First of all, no pinching. Second, no tripping. Third, no hitting, biting,  growling at one another, dirty looks, throwing things or taking another person's helping of strawberries. Life will give you lots and lots of pain all on its own. People you would give all your worldly possessions to heal will die, your cat will have to be buried in the backyard, your health will fail, your friends will move, you might never get to have children even when you desperately want them. Don't add to the misery. If you've vowed to love and cherish someone until death parts you, don't ever be the one who breaks their word. It's you and he against the world.  If God gives you a child to love and train, tell them what a privilege it is and mean it. If you have a sister, or are lucky enough to have two, don't speak ugly words that can't ever be erased. If God gives you a husband, make your compliments outweigh your criticisms. If you're a friend, hold hands and pray.

Girls, never ever be a highlighter to the ugly stuff in the world. Don't make it bigger and brighter by your behavior. Your job, when you love someone, is to make pain and hurt in the world fade. It's still there, but you are like a chalkboard eraser, smudging things up so that even though you can still read the words, it's a little bit harder to see them.

Be the first person in the corner for your sister, the first to tell her the world is crazy it's definitely not her, the first one to dismiss one act as not the whole story for the friend you know and love, forgive the unkind word because of thousands and thousands of good ones that your husband has spoken to you.

Cherish the love. Don't escalate the ugliness. God has blessed you abundantly with people who love you. Love them back. Don't make things harder for them. Life WILL do that, IS DOING THAT and will continue to do it and we don't know WHEN. So throw away these disputes, throw them back onto the ugly world they belong, and be the one who is smudging out the hurt.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Susannah, biting into a lemon blackberry muffin with some purple juice coming out:  "I don't yike this muffin; it's bloody. I don't yike the blood."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Frankie:    Frankie is a seven-year-old study in contrasts. On the one hand, she wants me desperately to walk her to the door at school and make sure we have an actual sight-line on her teacher before I leave but on the other hand she says such grown-up things and has such a sarcastic sense of humor that I sometimes forget how short she is. She is probably not growing much for either of two reasons 1) her paternal great-aunts area about 4'11", just shy of midget hood or 2) she comes home with one third of a bite of sandwich and one bite of apple at lunch. Then she hightails it back to her indoor recess. Now in my day, there was no such thing as indoor recess. If there were, I would never have had Scott Stone throw a football at my face and I would never have been able to form that Fart Club with my friends (Silent but Deadly, etc.). I was rather terrified of those large groups of children and would much have preferred reading inside or playing school. Frankie gets to do this twice a day. Somehow she and her girlfriends are allowed to stay in the classroom and putter around for both recess periods. This means she gets exactly thirty feet of walking in per day and maybe that's why one bite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is probably sufficient for her caloric expenditure/intake needs.
        Frankie is an excellent big sister to Susannah. She finds activities for her to do and plays with her in her nursery and guides her by the hand and tries to find snacks for her. She always refers to herself as "Frankie." "Frankie will find some crayons for you to draw with. Should we get beautiful crayons or ugly crayons? That's right, sweetheart, we will get beautiful crayons!"  Sadly, when it comes to her middle sister, there is a great deal of yelling and pushing and general irritating one one another. I have told them in no uncertain terms that they WILL be best friends and they better start acting like it. Molly really gets Frankie's nanny by suddenly being uncooperative or losing interest in a game they have started, like playing school. Frankie will be dutifully teaching sight words and suddenly Molly will say "Frankie, I'm not playing this anymore." When I hear that, I grab on to the nearest hard surface and hold on tightly because I know I am going to hear "MOLLY, YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR SIGHT WORDS, YOU CAN'T JUST STOP PLAYING THE GAME! MOLLLY! MOLLLLLLLLLYYYY!!!!" Meanwhile, Molly is placidly making her ponies run races and ignores the wailing and gnashing of teeth. As I recall, my little sister did the same thing. I would be at my wits end and ready to stab her with a kitchen knife just to get some reaction out of her, so I really feel for Frankie even as I am trying to explain that sometimes people want to play a different game and she can't control the universe.

Molly:  Molly is turning five next month. She wants to get started on all aspects of her birthday party including baking the chocolate cake. Every day I have to explain why we can't bake the chocolate cake. And every day she is bitterly disappointed. She is also bitterly disappointed with each day's activities. I will play bingo, do a puzzle, teach her some reading, read some books, play My Little Pony, and the next thing I hear is "We never DO anything." She wants a playdate every day and begs me to call my friends. Each hour I hear "Call Miss Carley, Mom. See if Claudia and Jake can come over." On the other hand, she also doesn't like to leave the house. If I announce we are going grocery shopping, she slumps over into a wailing heap. If I announce that she will be spending a few hours with Oma and Opa, suddenly I am the best mom in the whole world and she can't bear to be separated from me. Molly is also very proud of two wardrobe options: one is a sleeveless sundress that she got from her aunt and uncle for her third birthday. The bodice can barely be buttoned and I am quite certain she can't lift her arms above her head. But periodically she will disappear and reappear in that flower-splashed gown to have me tie the sash. I also told her she could buy a dress for her birthday. I made the mistake of saying that in Meijers when we were grocery shopping and we had to hightail it to the kids section post haste. She immediately gravitated to a purple and black rayon number with rhinestones, organza, giant silver hearts and various other hideosities. I hate when I allow my children a say in their wardrobe. Thankfully, she found another dress she liked better at Target, but when I told her it was rather delicate and I didn't want her to wear it around the house all the time, we had to compromise by letting her sleep in it every night. So each evening she is swathed in royal blue pleats and a yellow flower at the waistline. She has other sartorial quirks, including refusing to wear either pair of "Ugg" boots I bought her without wearing three pairs of socks. Do you know how irritating it is to be running late to school and have a child insist on having three pairs of socks put on JUST SO? The answer is highly irritating indeed.

Susannah:  Susannah is a constant yakker. If I get the privilege of grocery shopping alone with her, she keeps up a running commentary about what I am doing. "That is chocolate milk. I like chocolate milk! I put it in a big girl cup, Mommy? I no spill. I don't, Mommy. Daddy is at home, Mommy? No. No, he not at home. He at work, Mommy. Oooh, ice cream. I can have it, Mommy? Here, I get it. I can." She got her first haircut a week ago. I trimmed the fifteen hairs that comprised her mullet and she looks so much like Frankie with her teeny weeny bob. Except, much as I was worried about Frankie's lack of hair, I realize we are actually worse off with Susannah's. Like her sisters before her, it gets very fuzzy after naps and refuses to lie down with water and a comb. Maybe I can start flat-ironing it. She remains very cuddly and loves to be kissed and tickled and generally mauled. Except by her sisters. She and Molly yell "NO!" at each other all day long. There is no maternal relationship on Molly's part at all. Sukie is also very presumptous. She helps herself to to an candy she finds without batting an eyelash, she declines to follow orders, she stands on counters to rummage for sweets, she tries to apply mascara or put diaper cream on all her dolls. Then she looks at me square in the eye as though she has a perfect right to do each of these activities and would I please move on so she can proceed.
      Sukie also has the wonderful quality of being dissuaded easily. With Frankie, I would dread telling her that she couldn't ride in Dad's car she had to go in Mom's or we were going to skip a book at bedtime because it was so late. I would brace myself for the onslaught of screaming. With Susannah, she will usually object momentarily and then cheerfully say "OK." She has a soft Cabbage Patch doll that she got from her grandparents that she calls her pink baby and carries with her everywhere. When I went to put her to bed the other night, I realized I had left it at my parents' house. I inwardly braced myself to break the news and was convinced I'd shortly be making a phone call begging them to bring it over. I started with a story about how her pink baby was having a sleepover at Oma's and we'd see her in the morning! Brightly! Smilingly! Terrified! But she looked at my joyfully and said "My pink baby. She sleep at Oma's? OKAY!." In that moment, she was definitively my favorite child.