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I called Kari from Denver the other day. The conversation went something like this:

Kari: "Hello?" Sounded like she could really use a cup of coffee. Kids crying in the background.

Mark: "Hi. How's things?"

Kari: (Sigh) the sound of kids screaming creeps into the microphone a little more.

Mark: "What's going on?"

Kari: "Madison took her diaper off..." We have gotten in the habit of putting pants on the twins when we put them to bed ever since they got in the habit of taking off their diapers during nap time. It can be quite messy.

Mark: "Did you have pants on her?" I was assuming that she had gotten lazy and put them to bed without anything but a diaper on. In which case I had a little more room to giggle.

Kari: "Yes! She had her pants down to her ankles and took her diaper off! She smeared poop everywhere."

Mark: "Is it on the walls?" Maybe Madison has some artistic talent. Finger painting can be fun.

Kari: "No, just on the crib, the sheets, the stuffed animals, the mobile, and all over herself. On her legs, on her face, on her hands, its everywhere. Eeewww!" Kari isn't usually squeamish about poop, it must be bad.

Mark: "Thats nice."

Kari: "I broke a veneer." I was thinking cabinets, glue, Home depot...

Mark: "What?" I had not been awake that long since we got in late. Still a little foggy.

Kari: "I was making pasta for the kids and I ate a piece of raw pasta and broke of one of my veneers. I have been really good. I never do that, I don't even chew ice anymore, I just couldn't help myself."

Mark: "I know you have. Which one, its not one of the front ones is it?" Wondering if my wife looked like a pro hockey player.

Kari: "One behind my eye teeth."

Mark: Still in a bit of a fog. Eye tooth? What is an eye tooth? Is that the vampire teeth? "So not one of the front ones?"

Kari: "No." Kids still screaming in the background.

Mark: "Well... better call on Monday and make an appointment to have that put back on. You still have it, don't you?"

Kari: "Yes I have it and I will." Great one more thing. How much is that going to cost?

Mark: "I would put it in a plastic bag so it doesn't get lost."

Kari: "I already did."

Mark: "Well, it shouldn't be to hard to have that put back on. We'll just... (interrupted)" Kids screaming louder.

Kari: "I gotta go. I have screaming kids and poop all over."

Mark: "I love you, I will talk to you later."

Kari: Sigh "I love you too, bye."

When I called later I have to admit that I was expecting the worst, but she was sounding pretty upbeat. I think I might have still been a little grumpy. She is a strong woman.

I can't say that this has been the best couple of weeks that we have had in the last year, but we have had worse. I sent my Dad an email telling him what was going on and he called to tell me that I need to play the lottery, because that much of a bad luck streak can't last. At the risk of sounding like a whiner I will list our latest woes:

It has been confirmed that Kari has an abdominal hernia, as we suspected, for the last several weeks. It seemed to be getting worse and so she went to the doctor and he has her set to do a CT scan tomorrow. That will let us know how serious it is and what type of surgery will be needed to correct the problem. Kari is less than excited about the prospect of surgery and we are not sure what to do with work and kids during the recovery.

Car trouble. Very disturbing after the amount of money spent on the Suburban on the refuge trip to Florida. Both trucks are having issues, but at least Kari's is still running. So Kari has been dealing with the logistical nightmare of dropping me off and picking me up from work. Getting all the kids in the car by yourself is a challenge.

The Suburban wouldn't start, which has happened before and only cost $127. It turns out that this time it needs a new starter for the low, low, low price of $875 plus tax. Outrageous, right? I did call around and get some other quotes and the price of a starter for a 1996, diesel, Suburban is $600. It also turns out that the "professionals" at NTB sold me batteries that are too small for my truck. Not very happy about that. I plan on giving them an ear full.
The Yukon has been hard too start and has the check engine light on. It is, however, still running which makes me scared to find out what is actually wrong with it.

Renters... "Sigh..." We are still having trouble getting them to pay anywhere near on time. They did pay half the rent last month. So... there. Renters... It has added to our stress a bit. Last I heard she was going to come over tonight to give us money. It is now 11:43 p.m. and she has not shown up. That is about par for the course. Sigh.

Not sure how we are going to afford Christmas, but we always have before and I am sure that it will all work out.

We are keeping pretty upbeat, I think. We have both been a little stressed lately, but over all things are pretty good.

It has been fun and frustrating at times with these four girls. My only real regret is that I don't feel like I have enough time to devote to each one of them individualy. They all need a little one on one Dad time. It is very difficult to give individual attention unless you leave the house with that child. If I sit on the floor I am swarmed by all of them which, without exception, leads to some sort of scuffle.

I do have to say that we probably baby the twins more than we should, at least compared to the other two girls. But, can you blame us? We are still very much affected by our trials getting them here and healthy. I really don't think anyone who has not been through it could possibly understand. The emotions caused by seeing you children barely clinging to life are deep seated and for a long time linger just below the surface. I don't think that I will ever be the same. So yes we baby the babies even though they are approaching toddler stage.

Reagan and the twins, especially Madi, have a tumultuous relationship. Reagan doesn't understand yet that she can fend off the twins without pushing and shoving. It is a difficult situation disciplining Reagan for only trying to protect herself. Madison can be brutal. If a sibling has something that she wants she will literally tackle her, pull hair, and gouge eyes. And she does it all with no expresion on her face. Its kind of scary, she is a brute. If Madison has a goal she just goes and goes until she gets it. At least when it comes to her sisters. If she is not getting her way with Mom and Dad she resorts to laying face down on the floor and screaming, the "sack of potatos" technique. Reagan needs to have her space and when the twins invade that space she either shoves them down, which we discourage, or she stands there and screams, which we discourage. I almost prefer the shoving the twins down technique. When Reagan just stands there and screams it seems to encourage the twins to try to touch her more. They look like little Frankenstiens loping at her on unsteady legs with arms out stretched. And God forbid that the twins pick up one of her plush toys, "Lovies" as Kari has doubed them. Even if the twins pick them up to give them to Reagan the sight of one of them holding her prized possesions sends her into a near blind rage. She will rush forward and snatch the lovies from their grasp with tears streaming down her face and rush to the safety of another room. There is no explaining to her that the twins were trying to help.

On the other hand Reagan can be very sweet to the twins. On occation she will bring them toys, tickle them, and sometimes feed them. It is very touching to watch. Most times, however, we are just trying to keep the peace.

Rylee is very good with the twins. She is much more tollerant than Reagan. She doesn't throw a fit if they climb up on the same couch she is on, she actually encourages the twins to join her. She will put up with them climbing on her and doesn't totally lose her cool when they pull her hair. She doesn't like it mind you, but unlike Reagan she can deal with it most times.

Rylee is growing up so fast. I know that every parent says that sort of thing, but it is true. They grow up really fast. I am affaid that I am going to miss something. Her latest thing is pointing out all the things that she wants. Wether it is a catalog or a tv commercial she will point at nearly everything and pronounce "I want that!"
"Well...Christmas is coming. Maybe you will get that. But you know we don't always get everything we want, right?" in my usual reply. I think that only encourages her.

Kari and I are starting to get a little concerend about Reagan's speech. I have no doubt that she will be speaking clearly before she goes to college, but we feel that she should be speaking more clearly at this stage. Again, I wonder if maybe we have not been spending enough one on one time with her. We can understand many of her words and she obviously understands much of what we are saying to her, but I don't think anyone else would get much of what she says. She seems to have trouble with many of the major sounds, especially S, P, T, and R. The word more comes out as "moy", for example. This was cute for a little while, but we are starting to get concerend. I guess if there is a problem I would like to address it as soon as possible.

Not much else new to report. My last trip was totally uneventful. Except that the captain I was flying with felt the need to play the role of "flight instrutor" the entire trip. I will be the first to admit that I still have things to learn, but I have been flying for over 16 years and am a pretty competent pilot. Being micromanaged for a whole trip can be tedious. I am glad to be home.

Lets see, whats new...

I just got yesterday from a fairly uneventful trip. Take offs equaled landings. Although, there was one landing in SAN that was "interesting". The Captain was making the landing. The approach was normal till the last two hundred feet.

The approach to runway 27 takes you right over the city and right over some fairly good sized buildings right off the end of the runway, so many pilots tend to stay a little high. At that airport I usually just "thump" it on the runway and try for a smooth landing next time, but the captain got my attention by trying to make this one smooth when we were all ready high and fast.
When we past mid field and still had not touched down I started to worry a bit.

Being a first officer can be a difficult position, when is exactly the right time to speak up to avert a dangerous situation. Speak up too soon and you may have overreacted and offended your "boss", the guy you have to fly with for the next several days. Speak up too late and you could end up in a twisted ball of flaming metal at the end of the runway. If there is a screw up the captain is not the only guy to go down with the ship. Even if there is no accident, if the FAA gets involved and violates you for an infraction the crew goes down together. So I always tend to speak up right away if I don't agree with what is going on. However, there is very small window to speak up from the time you cross the threshold of the runway to the time you touch down. The words "Get us on the ground!" where just about to escape my lips when we touched down. He used full reverse thrust and was standing on the brakes pretty good. Normally, ever since oil prices went through the roof, we minimal revers thrust, so I know he was somewhat concerned too. It turns out that we had some runway left and it wasn't quite as serious as I thought at first. Never the less, at this stage in my career, my hands should not be sweaty after landing an airplane.

That aside, the trip was pretty uneventful. Which is just how they should be.

Crisis and drama always seem to hit right when I am due to leave for a trip. Every time Kari went into premature labor it was the night before I was supposed to leave for four days. My last trip Kari went to bed the night before with an eye irritation. I was sympathetic, but not overly concerned. I was up very early, showered shaved, dressed. Kari wandered in to use the bathroom and stopped dead in her tracks when she opened the door. Her hands flew to her face and I thought that she might actually topple over. I quickly switched the lights off and she relaxed a little.
"Are you okay?" I asked her.
"My eye...It really hurts... I can't stand the light."
I was a little more concerned now, but what was I supposed to do? I was getting ready to walk out the door for four days. I figured "She will be alright." But she wasn't. I went out the the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and Kari came out after a few minutes. I had all of the lights off, but even the glow of the laptop on the counter was causing her sever pain.
"I need to go to the emergency room." she said.
"Okay." I said okay, but I was thinking this is not okay, I have to go to work. It is frowned upon to call in at the last minute and delay a flight. Who is going to watch the kids? It is 5:45 a.m. who can I call? I decided to call Mary Ellen, our former nanny. There was no answer. Great. I called our neighbor from across the street and got an answering machine again. Greeeeaaat. I was getting ready to call work and tell them I wasn't going to be there when Mary Ellen called back and said that she was on her way over. That was a relief. However, we really needed to be walking out the door if we were going make it to the hospital and then to the airport before my report time. So we waited. I tend to pace in situations like this.

Mary Ellen showed up in about 15 or 20 minutes, but it seemed like an hour. I drove Kari to the ER. We looked at eachother, I looked at my watch. I couldn't just toss her out and say "Good luck with that!"
"Do you want me to go in with you?" I asked. Knowing that I was going to anyway.
"Would you?" she said in a pittiful voice.
"Of course."
Fortunatley it wasn't busy and we got started with the check in process. I looked at my watch again. "I really have to go." I said "Are you going to be okay?"
"Yes." She said. It didn't sound convincing.
I gave her a kiss on the head and sprinted to the truck, feeling like a total shmuck. What kind of husband would just dump his wife in the ER and then just run off. Well, I didn't like it, but I did it. It turns out that she had a scratched cornea. Apparently, that hurts like nobody's businenss. She told me later that she would rather go through labor again before having a scratch on her eye. Now I have never felt that, thank God, but I have seen a woman in labor and it doesn't look like fun.
I made my flight on time, but it was close. I just kept telling myself "Well...They can't leave without you."

Then on this last trip I went out to the truck, all dressed up in my monkey suit, and the damn thing wouldn't start. For most people that wouldn't be a big deal, but considering the logistics of loading and travelling with four kids in car seats it seemed very inconvienient at the time. I made it on time again.

When Kari came to pick me at the end of my trip we decided to eat out. Another logistical nightmare that we are slowly getting the hang of. She asked me to decide on a place to eat. I thought that pizza would be easy and the kids seem to like it. Finding anything that they will eat now is a challenge in itself. "Chuck E. Cheese's, I usued to like that when I was a kid, I bet the girls will love it." And so off we went, with Kari clearly regreting asking me to choose the spot.
"Do they server anything except pizza?" She asked.
"I don't know, Do you want to go someplace else?"
"Oh... I don't care."
"Alright then."

Now I don't know if I never noticed it before or if our perspective has changed since we moved to a nicer section of town, but the east side of town seems more...what is the word?... Low rent and dirty. Chuck E. Cheese's was packed and the clientel had a distinctly "working class" feel to them. Not that I have any problem with that, but the whole place just seemed a little unclean. After 16 months of sterilizing everything and obsesive washing and protecting the twins from any chance of infection this was a bit of a shock for us. We ordered the aptly named fun feast and with babies in our arms we towed high chairs and toddlers through the throngs of unwashed people to a semi clean booth. I brushed of the table with a napkin and got the girls situated. Kari and I sat and looked at eachother for a moment, just taking a breather now that everyone was corralled.
"I really feel like washing my hands..." I said.
"Me too, this place just feels dirty, doesn't it?"
But we were there so we sucked it up and ate some pizza. The fun feast includes fifty tokens for the games so we were compeled to wade again throught the throng with squirming babies and curious toddlers to find the games that dispense tickets, which can be turned in for cheap, colorful, plastic, junk.

It was quite an adventure.

Anyone know what the incubation period is for Ecoli?

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