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Here are a couple of things that I thought I should write down before I forgot them:

While I was away on my last trip the big girls got up very early one morning. Normally Kari will get them some milk, turn on the cartoons for them, and go back to bed for a little while longer. However, on this day they let the twins out of their room. It isn't such a good idea to sleep while the twins are loose to roam the house at will. Madison immediately came in to the bed room and indicated that she wished to have her diaper changed. Kari groaned and said "Give me five more minutes." To witch Madison replied in a sweet little voice "Okaaaay." and she left the room presumably to watch TV with her sisters.

Kari rolled out of bed about 10 minutes later, stumbled out of the bedroom, and picked up Madison to change her. She took her to the changing table and found her diaper to be completely dry. So she put her down and picked up Jordan and was about to take her to the changing table when Rylee spoke up.
"Mom, I changed their diapers already."
"You did?" Kari asked. Rylee nodded her head.
"Did I do good?" She asked.
"Yes, you did very good." Kari replied. Kari was pretty impressed. I am pretty impressed. Aside from Jordan's diaper being slightly askew she did a perfect job. I wonder if she washed her hands.
_____________

This evening I made steak, peas, and pesto pasta for dinner. Reagan and Madison woofed it right down. Rylee was eating, but taking her time and Jordan hadn't really touched a thing. It is really hit or miss when trying to get them to eat healthy. So I have been rewarding them with desert when they eat all their "good food." I am no doubt saddling them with some sort of eating disorder that will plague them for the rest of their lives, but it seems to work for me.

So as Reagan shoveled the last of her peas in her mouth I broke out the Oreos.
"Reagan, you ate very well. Would you like a cookie?" I asked
"Ummm Hmmm!" she said, her face lighting up with a big grin.
Rylee, seeing that there was a prize for cleaning her plate, began to shovel peas into her mouth a high rate of speed. The twins squealed with delight "cookies!" they both chirped and bolted for their chairs. Everyone knows by now that Dad means it when he says that you don't get cookies if you don't eat your dinner. No amount of tears will sway me here. In fact they have found that crying about it is just a good way to get a time out.
Now I don't know if it was intentional, but I think it may have been. Jordan, who had eaten almost none of her food, climbed up in Madison's chair. Right in front of the plate that Madison had nearly licked clean. So Madison, since her chair was taken, took the empty seat where Jordan's full plate of food sat. I ceremoniously placed two Oreos in front of Reagan and two in front of Jordan, who I mistook for Madison. I don't mix them up very often anymore, but they ARE identical twins and if you are not watching closely one can be mistake for the other. Madison, who I thought was Jordan, reached out across the table with her right hand. She was making a grabbing motion, bunching up her hand into a fist and then splaying out her fingers, over and over and saying "Cookies!" She knew that she had eaten all her food and was going to get goodies.
"NO." I said, looking very serious. "You have to eat your dinner to get a cookie." I held up Reagan's plate, "See all gone." I held up Madison's plate "See all gone." I pointed to Jordan's plate. "You need to eat your dinner and THEN you can have a cookie."
Jordan, clearly happy with having cookies in front of her began bouncing up and down and reaching for the Oreos. Across the table, Madison teared up, her face becoming a little bit red "Cookies, cookies, cooooookies!" she wailed.
"No, no cookies." I said, giving her the furrowed eye brows. I always feel like this look should intimidate them, but it doesn't seem to work.
I was about to launch into a new lecture on nutrition when I looked a little more closely at her. "Wait a second." I thought. I looked back down to my right at who I thought was Madison and realized what had happened. "Wait a second." I said out loud this time. I scooped Jordan out of the chair and relieved her of her unearned cookies and put Madison back in her own chair. "I'm sorry, I though you were Jordan. You ate very good. You DO get to have cookies." I said. Madison switched from crying to giggling. I am still amazed how fast they can do that. Jordan on the other hand really started to give me an earful.
I picked Jordan back up and repeated my speech about the requirements that must be met before the keeper of the Oreos would relinquish them to her. I did finally get her to eat enough "good food" to receive a cookie.

In other news:
Reagan's appointment with the cleft pallet team at Texas Children's was on Monday. Since I was flying, Kari had Mary Ellen come over to watch the girls. She got to St. Luke's, where we have been taking her for speech therapy and was shocked to find out that there was no eight floor. She had been told to take her to the eight floor. "Maybe it was suite 800." she thought with a sinking feeling. She went to the third floor, where we normally go and they confirmed her fears that this was the wrong place. The cleft pallet team is at the Texas Children's down town. So after waiting three months to get her in to see them, we are having to wait another two months for the next opening. We are a little bummed. However, I took Reagan to her other speech therapist at the elementary school today and she tells me that Reagan is improving.
I am still holding out hope that surgery will not be necessary, but I may be kidding myself.

Kari seems to be doing better and she has had a lot more energy. Her GI problems have improved, but her legs are still slightly swollen and her pinkie and ring finger on her right hand are numb. She thinks that might be a pinched nerve. And of course we have not done anything about her hernia while she was having all these other issues. Over all I would say things are looking up.

It was a long day today, even though Kari let me sleep in. For some reason the twins, check that, the twins and Reagan all seemed to be more whiny than usual. For three hours I started to time how long the silence lasted between crying fits. Guess how long. Don't know? Don't care? Can't say that I blame you. Eight minutes. Eight minutes is about all the time you have to do anything uninterrupted. It can be very frustrating.

I didn't actually say it, but I was thinking "I don't care what you do or how dirty you get, as long as you can do it without crying."

The day wasn't completely horrible. The kids seem to be able to mix enough smiles, giggles and general cuteness in there to make it all worth it.

Here is a rambling list of things and moments that I would like to remember:

Reagan has really become Mother Hen to the twins. Kari found her pushing them on the swings the day before yesterday. When one of the twins was having trouble climbing up the slide Reagan took her by the hand and led her around to the ladder saying "Come on sweetie. There ya go."
Rea plays with and entertains them all the time. Or maybe she just tolerates them being around better than Rylee does. Rylee is always coming up asking "Daaaad?" It always starts with "Daaaad?" even when I am looking right at her and she can see that she has my full attention. I have tried to explain that she doesn't need to say "Daaaad?" when I am obviously already paying attention, but it hasn't made a difference. "Daaaad?"
"Yes, Rylee?"
"Daaaad?"
"Yes, Rylee. What is it? I am listening to you."
"Dad, can you get the babies out of my room, so I can, so I can, um, so I can play?"
"Why don't you let the babies play too?"
"Um Daaaad?"
"Yes, Rylee?"
"Dad, I want to play by myself."

And I can understand that. Two year olds are pests. But it is nice that at least one of the older girls is including them. Or at least not excluding them.

It seems like every time someone gets hurt and Kari or I walk in and ask "What happened?" the first thing anyone says is "I didn't do it."

Parent: "What happened?"
Oldest child: "I didn't do it."
Parent: "That isn't what I asked."
Oldest child: Silence, with a guilty look on her face. Bottom lip stuck out, eyes downcast, hands clasped in front of her, weight shifting from one foot to the other and back again. Younger hurt child continues to scream.
Parent: "Is she hurt?"
Oldest child: "She bonked her head, but I didn't do it."
Parent: "Well you should give her a kiss. You are sisters, you need to take care of each other. And you should come tell me if one of your sisters gets hurt."
Oldest child: "Okaaaaaay."

That is all I feel like typing at the moment. More later.

It is still hard to believe what a medical mystery my wife has been lately. The doctors have not been much help till now.

Kari's right leg began to swell up two days ago, while I was at work. I was very concerned when she told me about it and encouraged her to call someone to watch the kids and have it checked out, but she thought it was improving and decided to wait until I got home. She thought it might have been caused by eating too much bacon, I thought that was crazy talk (but I didn't tell her that). The salt causing her to retain water or something. Anyway, when I got home yesterday we decided that she should go to the ER and see what they had to say. It turns out that her electrolytes were low from weeks of having GI trouble and the bacon WAS probably a big part of the problem. Kari is a picky eater and seems to pick a favorite food and eat it almost exclusively for a week or two before becoming tired of it and switching to a new obsession. And so she had eaten A LOT of bacon.

It also turns out that she was having a migraine when she went to the hospital. She didn't know it was a migraine, but she had a bad headache and tingling sensations in her hand and arm. Her symptoms prompted them to give her a CT scan to make sure that it was not a stroke. She must hold some sort of record for the most CT scans in the shortest amount of time. She has four this year. Three in the last couple of months.

Not too excited to find out that my wife is now prone to migraines and has been advised to go on a low sodium diet, but I was very relieved to hear that we are not dealing with strokes and or blood clots.

All the girls are doing well. I am thankful for that.

I really hope that Kari starts to feel better soon. She is on her fifth week of feeling really miserable. I won't go into details, but she is up all night running to the bathroom. So much so that the dogs have started sleeping on my side of the bed to avoid being trampled in the middle of the night. She has lost over 14 pounds and has very little energy. So little energy, in fact, that all she could do the other day was get up, take a shower, and go right back to bed.

I had been under the weather too, but not nearly as bad and I am feeling almost tip top now. I was down right productive today. Made French toast for the girls, got the dishes done, started some laundry, got all the toys down stairs picked up. (While playing drill instructor Dad and forcing the girls to help which makes it more work.)

Rylee was actually great about picking up the toys. I promised a trip to the park after the toys were picked up and boy did she go to work. I didn't even have to give her any instruction, she just got to it. Reagan, on the other hand, was threatened with staying at home if she didn't get it in gear. She never really did, but I couldn't make her stay home from the park. I guess I shouldn't threaten anything that I am not 100 percent willing to follow through on, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

As we were heading out the door Kari put her hands together and bowed to me.
"Is that a thank you or are you praying for me?" I asked.
"Both." She replied with a tired smile.
The trip to the park went smoother than I thought it would. The girls all listened pretty well and there were no major meltdowns. Meltdowns are almost inevitable with four kids four and under. Someone is almost always going to be unhappy. But today we beat the odds. I must say that it is a little stressful taking four kids to the park. Even though it was not real crowded I felt like I always needed to be aware of where each kid was and what they were doing. When a group of ten to twelve year old's came over and informed me, in a British accent that a "quite violent game of tag is about to take place up here...quite violent indeed." the pressure went up a little. With all those small people running about it is difficult to watch everything. Picture a lone secret service agent escorting Obama through a Main Street parade in a small southern Mississippi town when the President is insisting on kissing all the babies and shaking all the hands. You just can't watch everyone every second.

Rylee, too interested in playing to notice the steadily growing pressure in her bladder, had an accident. I loaded the twins in the wagon (very glad that I brought it) and took the girls to the bathroom to clean up. After we had taken care of business and I was washing Reagan's hands Rylee ran out of the washroom. I didn't like her being out of sight and hollered for her to come back inside and wait until I was done. At the risk of destroying her innocence and carefree ways I gave her a small lecture.
"Rylee, when we are out you need to stay were I can see you. There are some bad people in the world who would take you away...and I would never get to see you again. You need to stay where I can see you so that I can protect you. Okay?" I said.
"Okay." She said. She didn't seem to think too much about it, other than "that sure is inconvenient."
So we left the restrooms and continued on the path that leads around a small lake. Rylee wanted to look for fish and other "creatures." Rylee and Reagan ran out ahead of me while Madison sat perched on my shoulders and Jordan sauntered a few paces behind the wagon waiting for me not to pay attention so she could pick some berrys that I told her not to touch. I was wondering if my lecture had had any impact on Rylee and whether I should have told her that at all as we approached a man standing on the bank of the lake, fishing. Rylee dropped back to me, with a glance over her shoulder at the fisherman and then back to me. Then in a very loud voice, that the kids use mostly in grocery stores to embarrass you with discussions about the size of their last bowl movement or their knowledge of anatomy, she asked "Dad...Do you think that man will take me away?"
"No, honey. I don't think that man will take you away." I answered.
There it was. That first big crack in that glass wall that is her, soon to be totally shattered, youthful innocence. Damn.

We played a little more on the play ground and the girls didn't even put up a fight when I told them that it was time to go home. I did, however, get to listen to Rylee prattle on about not having anything to drink in the car and not being able to watch a movie.

When we got home the garage door would not open. My first though was that it might have been Halloween vandals, naw that couldn't be. Maybe someone had fiddled with the lock. I shrugged and lead the girls around to the front door. Reagan insists on ringing the door bell, which I don't encourage as it gets the dogs all riled up. The door bell didn't ring and all the lights were off. It was becoming clear why the garage door didn't work. It also explains why many of my neighbors where standing out in their driveways looking bewildered. Why is it that when your power goes out that you have an almost uncontrollable urge to stand in your driveway looking up and down the street, scratching your head, with a stupid expression on your face? I know that is what I tend to do first and it has never once helped get the power back on. Hmm.

It was a good thing that I was planning on cooking fajitas on the grill since we wouldn't be cooking anything in the oven. Kari had been motivated and vacuumed the house while we were gone. I was thinking that maybe she was on the mend, but that task had pretty much sapped her strength and she went to lay down. I thought the kids would be pretty tired too, but they were quite a handful while I was trying to cook dinner. They started playing Frisbee with the paper plates, digging their grubby paws in the cheese, fighting over chairs, letting the dogs out, peeing their pants, hitting each other with the fly swatter, wanting to be held, and generally making my job of cooking dinner more difficult. I did, however, get dinner served and they all ate well for a change.

After dinner I let the girls have a little more Halloween candy. As I was watching them munch contentedly on chocolates it occurred to me that the power had been off for quite some time and it could be awhile for it to come back on if had taken this long already. Ice cream. The ice cream was melting. That is the only good thing that a power outage is good for. You have to eat the ice cream before it melts. It just would not due (or is it do) to have the ice cream melt. Would it? No, it certainly would not be acceptable.

"Do you girls want ice cream?" I said. I am sure that I felt a twinkle in my eye.
"Ice Cream!" Rylee said. I was considering how much sugar they could consume before slipping into a coma. Maybe I shouldn't have offered ice cream. But it might melt!
As I took one step toward the freezer with my mind 99 percent made up, the lights came back on.
"Ahhh...Umm...Maybe we shouldn't eat the ice cream." I said
"I want ice cream." Rylee chirped.
"Well, I was going to get it out because the power was off and it was going to melt, but now the power is back on. So with all the candy that you have had maybe we should wait till tomorrow. Okay?" I said.
"Okay." She said. I couldn't believe it. She bought it. She wouldn't have had to fight very hard for me to give her a small bowl since I had already said that I would. But she let it go. They all let it go. Sometimes, well...most times it seems, kids will surprise you.

So if your power goes out don't go stand in your driveway, like an idiot, go straight to the freezer and eat your ice cream before your excuse is gone.

Despite a complete and utter lack of planning we have provided our spawn with a reasonably amusing Halloween experience. Kari had at least been thinking about it and got some decorations and I give my self a little credit for purchasing and carving the pumpkins. However, we dropped the ball in the costume department. With whatever cold/flu we have been fighting off just keeping the kids fed and the laundry somewhat under control seemed like a tall order.

I dug out some costumes from a couple of years ago and with a butcher knife and a sewing machine I set to work making them fit. Sewing isn't my forte and despite breaking the needle on the sewing machine I managed to complete the alterations in sufficient time to take the kids out to terrify the neighborhood. Kari, who was feeling particularly awful, managed to get up and get the girls hair and make up done before we left.

Ever the considerate big sisters, Rylee and Reagan took the prized seats in the wagon before the twins could get there. Jordan didn't seem to mind and enjoyed running in aimless directions while I sprinted after her calling her name, carrying Madison, camera flailing about, and dragging the wagon behind. "Jordan, this way...Jo...JORDAN. Over here. Jo! Sigh."
Reagan had the only injury, a skinned knee, and the handle on Jo's bucket kept coming loose. Actually the handle falling off was kind of a plus because it would give me a chance to catch her and regroup the troops. Over all I would have to call the expedition a success. The girls had quite a pile of candy to sort through when we got home. And we did get plenty of coments.
"Oh they are so adorable!"
"Thanks. Do you want them?" I would say.
"I..uh...well...Are they all yours?" they would say, changing the subject.
"Yep!"
"You have your hands full."
"Yep." I would say. I guess the market for little kids around here is a little soft. You can't even give them away.
One guy after looking at their overflowing buckets remarked "I hope you have a good dentist."
"Ah, they will get more teeth." I said with a wave of dismissal.
"Your right." he laughed "Let them enjoy it."

I thought it would be proper to extend the bed time since they wouldn't be sleeping anyway with the door bell ringing every five minutes. And so the girls opened shop on the coffee table and set about sampling all of the goodies. It was quite a mess. I have learned that half eaten lollypops will stick to your socks and Nerds are a pain to get out of the carpet. Reagan will spit out the peanut M&Ms and Jordan will not consume an entire piece of candy before opening the next one.

Jordan would gently place an unidentifiable, wet, gooey, partially masticated lump on the table and come running to me for help opening the next candy. Normally I would give her a short lecture on how leaving unidentifiable, wet, gooey, partially masticated lumps on the table is bad manners, but on Halloween I had to just let it go.

It didn't take more than a few hours for everyone to become tired of eating candy. I myself was pretty well over devouring Reese's and we got everyone off to bed after a little extra tooth scrubbing.

Adrenaline is better than coffee to really get the blood moving in the morning.

All six of us have been a little under the weather. I don't think it is the flu, but it has not been much fun. Kari and I have not been getting much sleep. I was up most of the night coughing and shivering and when I wasn't shivering I was sweating.

Rylee climbed in bed with us around 4 a.m. and around 6 a.m. I got up to give Rylee and Reagan some milk and turn on the child pacification device. So with Dora off on another adventure I went back to bed. At 8 a.m. I was back up. The twins were up and starting to fuss. I sent Reagan upstairs to open their door and I headed for the kitchen to start coffee and get breakfast going. On the kitchen floor I found an empty jar of Vitamin C. The cap was missing and the bottle was empty. I felt a cold stab of fear shoot through my body. I knew it was Reagan. And I figured that she ate them all by herself.
I scooped the bottle up and confronted Reagan, who was halfway down the stairs with an arm load of stuffed animals. "How many of these did you eat?" I asked her.
"Nuffing." she replied. Her eyes got big and she paled a little, knowing that she was caught.
"I need to know how many of these you ate." I said.
"Nuffing." she said, sticking to her story.
"HOW MANY OF THESE DID YOU EAT, REAGAN!" I yelled, losing my composure a little.
"I didn't eat." she said.
"THESE COULD MAKE YOU SICK, REAGAN. I NEED TO KNOW HOW MANY YOU ATE!"
I guess that I wouldn't make a very good interrogator. I had obviously intimidated her to the point that she was not going to give up anything. I was very angry and more than a little scared. This was the third day in a row that she has gotten into something that she wasn't supposed to. The first two times it had been chocolate bars and Ho Ho's. She had gotten off with a warning and promised not to do it again, but this was another matter.

I picked her up, carried her to the kitchen and sat her on the counter. I scanned the area for evidence that she may have gotten into anything else. I knew that the kids vitamins with iron could be bad if she ate all of those. I didn't find anything else.
I said "As soon as we are sure that you are okay you are going to get a spanking."
She frowned a little more. Kari was up by this point, roused by my hollering. She got on Google to look up Vitamin C while I dialed poison control. I was fairly certain that you could not overdose on Vitamin C, but Reagan had eaten almost a whole bottle and I was a little worried. I grabbed the magnet off of the refridgerator with the poison control number on it and I dialed. I got a fax machine tone. I hung up and dialed again. "This is the Texas poison control center. Press one to continue in English." I heard a recorded voice say. So I pressed one.
"Poison control." Came a male voice.
"I have a three year old female who just consumed a whole bottle of Vitamin C. I don't know how many pills she took, but I think the bottle was pretty full. They are 100mg tablets." I said, noticing that my voice was quavering a little. I still wasn't sure how bad that might be. There was no reply. "Hello?" I said. Nothing. I may have said a naughty word here, but I don't remember.
I dialed again. I got the fax machine sound again. I hung up and dialed again.
"This is the Texas poison control center. Press one to continue in English." I heard a recorded voice say again. So I pressed one.
"Poison Contr...Click!" I heard and the line was dead again. (I know I said a bad word there.) I was beginning to get a little frustrated.
Then I recalled that we had problems the last time that we needed to call poison control. At one point when the twins were still infants and on what must have been a dozen different medications we double dosed one of them by mistake. It makes me wonder if there would be trouble calling 911 with our IP based home phone.

So I got my cell phone and dialed again. I pressed one to speak in English.
"Poison Control." Came a deep voice with a southern drawl. He sounded bored.
"I have a three year old female that has consumed a large number of 100 mg Vitamin C tablets." I said.
"What hospital are you with?" he drawled.
"I uh, I'm not..." I stuttered.
"Oh, you at home?" He asked. He still sounded bored.
"Yes." I replied.
"What is your name?" He asked. I told him.
"And what is her name?" He asked.
"Reagan...Spencer. Reagan Spencer."
"Do you have the brand name of what she took?" He asked. I told him the name and repeated the dosage.
"I don't have that particular one on my list. Let me look at the general list."
"Okay." I said.
"There is no limit for Vitamin C." He drawled.
"Okay, good." I said with a steadier voice. I had been pretty sure that would be the case, but a nagging doubt had been lingering in the back of my mind.
"It may irritate her bowls a little and it could cause her stool to be an unusual color." He continued.
"Okay, thank you." I said.

I gave Reagan a long lecture and a spanking. Then I gave Rylee a lecture.
"But I didn't eat any." She said, just a little indignant.
"I know you didn't, but I want to be sure that you understand. And you need to come tell me or Mom if any of your sisters gets into anything like that. It could make them very sick or even kill them. Do you understand?" I said.
"Okay." She said. I put her down and she skipped back to the couch where Reagan was sulking.

I reflected for a moment on how bad that could have been and shuttered.

Kari's CT scan didn't show anything. The doctor is out of ideas other than exploratory surgery. At least he believes her which is better than the last doctor. We are thinking that she must have a spigelian hernia which is difficult to see on a CT scan. When Kari asked the doctor if there were anything else that would cause her abdomen to pop out like that he said that he couldn't think of anything other than a hernia. So we are back to square one. Here are some facts about spigelian hernias.


Sometimes known as a lateral ventral hernia, a spigelian hernia is a type of hernia that develops through the spigelian fascia. Unlike many hernias that thrive just below layers of fat, a spigelian hernia occurs in between the muscles found in the abdominal wall. Because of the nature of this type of hernia, there is often little outward evidence of swelling, making it possible for the health issue to go undetected for longer periods of time.

Often beginning somewhere along the linea simularis, a line of tissue situated on each side the rectus abdominis, the causes for a spigelian hernia are similar to the health issues that lead to most other types of hernias. The condition may develop due to a weakening of the abdominal wall later in life, injury, or prolonged periods of physical stress. Men and women tend to exhibit an equal opportunity to experience a health condition of the nature. Unlike other hernias, a spigelian hernia can often be mistaken for some other type of abdominal problem.

There are a few symptoms that may indicate the presence of a spigelian hernia. Recurring pain in the immediate area (She has that), following by a period of constant dull pain (She has that) is a common indicator. A sudden decrease in the proper function of the bowels (She has had that for almost a month), especially one that lasts for more than a day or two, is also a strong sign. While the protrusion may be very small, it may be visible in people with relatively little fat in the abdominal area and will tend to be soft to the touch.(Hers is visible when it pops out.)

The most common treatment for a spigelian hernia is to undergo surgery to repair the damage caused. Depending on the severity of the damage, the surgeon may utilize some type of mesh to reinforce the weakened abdominal wall and thus decrease the opportunity for a recurrence.

It is important to note that a hernia of this type can cause a great deal of damage if left untreated. The spigelian hernia may develop in a location where the bowels are in effect strangulated, or cause some type of obstruction in the colon. Both these situations can lead to the deterioration of both organs and eventually cause complete failure (That would be BAD)

Fortunately, a spigelian hernia is a relatively rare occurrence. In most instances, the condition does not develop before the age of 40 and is more likely to occur after the age of 50. The hernia is also more likely to develop on the right side of the abdomen rather than the left.

Every time that I come home from a trip Kari has a slew of amusing stories. Mostly about the kids and they are funny mostly because I can relate to the frustration. I am trying to be better about writing them down, because my memory is really slipping in this whirlwind that we call life and there is no telling how many stories have been lost.

Kari was asleep. (Most of the really good stories start this way.) Rylee had come down stairs to inform her that "The sun wake up." It didn't take her long to notice the quiet. That quiet that sets off alarm bells in parent's heads. She climbed to the top of the stairs and looked. All the doors were closed and all was quiet. Very suspicious. She moved to the big girl's door and tilted her head a little to listen. There was movement, but it was very quiet. She opened the door slowly and stepped into the room.

Reagan had let the twins out of their room. We don't forbid this, but we certainly don't encourage the big girls to release the little girls, especially when we are still asleep. Reagan has become a bit of a mother hen to the twins. And this morning she obviously thought that they looked hungry. It is also obvious that she knows that animal crackers require pre-approval before consumption. She is very good about eating contraband in discreet locations and behind closed doors.

Reagan, Madison, and Jordan were all perched on the foot of Reagan's bed. They were using the footboard (I guess that is what you call it. The opposite end from the headboard.) as an impromptu table. Reagan had divided the animal crackers evenly between the three of them and they were munching away happily. Reagan looked very surprised when Kari barged in on breakfast. She still had the animal cracker box set next to her personal pile of cookies. Her eyes went wide and she snatched the box and stuck it down behind the footboard, out of sight. Jordan on the other hand stood up with a big smile, held up a big handful of soggy, partially masticated, cookies so that Kari could get a good look at them. Madison only glanced up with a half smile and with her elbows still resting on the end of the bed, casually popped another animal cracker in her mouth.

Reagan, seeing that she was completely busted, resorted to her go-to defense. She smiled as big as she could. It is huge smile that is usually accompanied by a giggle. It makes her cheeks bunch up and look extra pinchable and causes her eyes to squint. The smile says "I am so glad to see you, you have just made my day" and is mixed with just a hint of sheepishness. It is a knowing smile, yet still innocent. She has the look mastered and it is nearly impossible to be cross with her while she is wearing that smile.

"Reagan...You know you are supposed to ask permission before you eat those. Right?" Kari scolded while trying not to smile.
"I sawweeeeeeee." She said. The smile fading for just a moment and then reappearing as she was becoming more certain that she had gotten away with it.
"And you know that there is no food allowed upstairs." Kari continued.
"OOOOOOkay." Reagan said, switching her smile from "melt" to "incapacitate."
Kari unable to endure anymore cuteness said "Okay, lets all go down stairs."


Another anecdote that I found endearing: We live right on the finale approach to Hook's Airport and the girls always enjoy watching the airplanes fly over. Kari had all the girls outside playing in the yard. It was near dusk and an airplane began its approach with his landing light on. "What is that?" Asked on of the girls.
"Thats an airplane." Replied Kari.
"Its DADDY!" They cried. "Its Daddy coming home!" (I guess they thought I could just land there in the yard.)
They continued to watch the airplane approach with growing anticipation. I can just see Rylee bouncing up and down on her toes, like she does when she gets excited.
And then the airplane passed overhead with a roar and was gone from sight. There was silence for a moment and then Reagan piped up, "THATS not Daddyyyyyyy!" And they all giggled.

Cabin Log

At some point after purchasing their cabin in Allenspark, CO. My Mother's parents started a journal. More of a notebook that anyone who visited the cabin could jot down their thoughts. It has been fun to go back and read what we all were doing while we were up there years ago.

These are my cabin log entries for our recent vacation. If you are not family you will likely be bored to tears, my apologies.

Also tonight I am finding proof reading to be tedious and proper grammar to be a bore. So all you school teachers go easy on me.

9/20/09 Mark

We arrived on the 18th at about 17:30 after a 24 hour drive from Houston. The trip went smoothly for the most part. Rylee, now 4, and Reagan, 3, were excellent. Madison and Jordan were much less patient. In fact both twins, mostly Jordan, were inconsolable for the last six hours of the ride. It made the last leg of the trip a little tense. However, I have found that I can still enjoy the beautiful drive up CO 7 from Lyons even with screaming kids.

This is the first time that all my kids have been to the cabin and I am enjoying reliving my youth through them. We explored the loft (I loved sleeping up there). Walked to the "big rock" and dug the orange dump truck out from under the cabin. All this is left to do is see the "Hidden Room" and drink out of the in Allenspark. Those were always the highlights for me. I actually kind of miss having to stop at the spring to fill up the Jerry cans because there was no running water. I kind of wish the girls had a chance to experience going down the hill in the middle of the night with a flashlight. (But not really because I would be the one having to escort them.)

*The cabin now has a flush toilet. Until recently having to "go" required a walk down the hill to the out house. There was also a time when there was no running water and no shower.*

This is also the first time that I have been here since Grandmom past away and it makes the trip a little bitter sweet. I do wish she could have met the twins. I know that she would have loved to watch them playing up here. The girls have been having a really good time. They have been going non-stop since we arrived.

We still have not figured out the best sleeping arrangements yet. Rylee and Reagan have been sleeping up stairs with no problems. The first we put the twins in the bedroom downstairs, while Kari and I slept on the futon. I thought it would be convenient if we put all the kids upstairs so I put a gate at the top of the ladder and put an air mattress up there for the twins. It really seemed like a good idea... I don't know if it was too warm or if they were having trouble with the altitude, but the twins were not happy. They screamed for hours. Rylee and Reagan kept getting up to tell me the obvious.

"Dad? Dad the babies are being too loud." Rylee said. I tried water, I opened the window, I patted their backs and nothing seemed to help. Reagan spent most of this time with her hands over her ears whimpering "Babies too loud." I finally resorted to raising my voice and threats, which worked for about five minutes before the crying started again. So around midnight we gave up and put the twins back in the downstairs bedroom where their screams were a little more muffled. After another half hour of crying Kari went in and switched the twins to the other sind of the bed. Now Madison was on the left and Jordan on the right, closer to the door. That worked for about ten minutes. I am not sure if Madi fell or climbed out of bed, but when I went back in she was between the wall and the bed and she and Jordan were giving eachother an earful. Maybe Jordan pushed her out of bed. At any rate they finally went to sleep.

The dogs have been having the time of their lives. I brought heavy cable tie downs to beep them confined to the property, buth have not had to use them. Surprisingly, they have not wandered very far and have been content with chasing tennis balls and lounging in the front yard.

Phyl (*My Mother's sister) came up yesterday and we all went to the Allenspark Art Festival where the girls got to do an art project and each got a balloon.

Today we are planning on driving over Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road ing the world I am told by the Walmart cashier.

It has been nice sitting on the deck writing and enjoying a cup of coffee. I may be finally starting to relax.

9/20/09 20:50 Mark

I didn't think we were going to make it up to the Trail Ridge Road. The weather was looking down right threatening as we drove to Estes. We were pretty much conitted to just stopping at Safeway, but the kids fell asleep in the car so we kept driving. When we got to the entrance to the park we decided to give it a try since the $20 pass is good for seven days and we could always come back later.

It seemed like a really good idea at the time... Before we reached the top, three of the four girls were crying and Reagan had vomited. We weren't at the very top, but very near. And so I pulled over at one of the overview spots and we walked a short distance to look down into a valley. The wind was really howling and it was quite chilly. Kari reminded me, quite pointedly, of the converstation that we had before we left the cabin. "Do they need their heavy coats?" she asked. "Naw, they will be fine. It won't be that cold." I had replied. Odd that I would have siad that since my only memory of going up there was that it was REALLY cold and raining. I recall getting to the top. At least Dad said it was the top. We couldn't see more than about 15 feet. Then we climbed from "the top" to a pile of rocks that I was assured was as high as you could go, where I huddled between two big rocks to keep warm until I was told that it was time to go down. I am slightly amused that Rylee will have a fairly similar memory. I guess that what having kids is all about. Making sure they experience the good memorie4s that your have.

Madison, not one to be outdone, vomited on the way down and we had to stop at a tourist trap and buy her a new shirt.

the girls were ready to get home and the dogs were very glad to see us. We had planned to make lasagna this evening bit it was so late when we got home that we decided on pancakes and yogurt. No one seemed to mind.

We found out tonight that Rylee has an imaginary fried. I even made her a pancake. Her name is Liza and has another friend who is a reindeer, named Louie. I find her imagination absolutely fascinating.

Tomorrow we plan on doing laundry don in Ferncliff. Other than that we have no plans... and I like that.

One other thing... I never really thought much about temperature control up here. That was never my job. I am finding it challenging to keep the place a comfortable temperature. It gets pretty cool at night, so I make a fire, then the temperature skyrockets. Right now it is 80 degrees in here. I guess this takes some practice. Maybe you don't need to throw three huge logs on the fire for starters.

Enough writing for tonight. Kari has challenged me to Scrabble.

9/20/09 22:28 Mark

Just a note. I feel after looking back a few pages that anyone "logging" in this book should leave their name at least since I am having a hard time telling who is "posting." I would also like a translation of the hieroglyphics that Phylis is prone to add to her thoughts. *She did send me a translation. LOL*

9/21/09 11:53 Mark

Snow! I just went sledding. The girls were very excited about playing in the snow. Reagan was having a especially good time. She was making snow balls under the deck, so with my toe I shoveled some snow between the decking onto her head. She looked up with a big grin, yelled "HAAA!" and charged up the steps with a snow ball in hand. she has a good arm. She hit me square in the chest from about 8 feet away. That started a big snow ball fight between me and all the girls. Even the twins got involved.

I got the sleds out from under the cabin and pulled the girls aroudn the parking lot. Rylee was a little timid about sliding down the road, but seemed to enjoy watching me. We need a few more inches to really have a good run. I got about 40 or 50 feet before I hit a thin spot.

We kind of hope that it lasts. It quit snowing and started melting, but now it is snowing just a little.

We were not really prepared for snow and so we are toying with the idea of running to Walmart for mittens.

Drove down to Ferncliff to do laundry. the laundromat is open, but the change machine is out of order. I guess laundry will have to wait.

9/22/09 23:25 Mark

I was thinking how odd it is that we find others misfortune amusing. It seems kind of wrong. Or maybe it is because we can relate.

We bought Bunker an "indestructible" frisbee before we came up here. It was chewed to bits in less than two days. However, while it was still in one piece we were playing with it and he picked it up by the hole in the middle. With his nose protruding through the center his vision was obscured. Like most Labs he was completely undaunted by his lack of sight and continued to run back to us at nearly full speed. That is until he collided with a good sized pine tree. Tom and I about fell over from laughing so hard. Not that we didn't feel bad. The poor guy gave himself a bloody nose. I didn't even know that dogs could get a bloody nose.

I took Rylee and Reagan for a walk this afternoon, along with the two dogs. I was amazed by their stamina. The girl's, that is. They ran most of the way. However, Reagan got a little out of control on one of the down hill portions. I was calling after her to slow down and be careful, but like most three year olds, she ignored my advice. I watched it happen in slow motion. Her center of gravity began to creep father forward. Her little legs started pumping faster and faster, but couldn't quite keep up with her shifting mass. For a moment she looked like a sprinter going for the gold, arms outstretched like she was breaking the tape at the finish line. And then all powerful gravity took over and she came crashing down. And while her torso slowed her legs continued with such momentum that the soles of her shoes nearly smacked her in the back of the head.

I didn't find it very funny at the time, but when I was telling Kari about it I couldn't help but giggle. I laugh only because It has happened to me. That and the fact that I warned her and she didn't listen.

We had a very pleasant evening with Phyllis. She did arts and crafts with the kids while I split some logs for the stove. She made a very tasty quiche that all the adults enjoyed, but didn't' go over very well with the younger crowd. Maybe one day our kids will develop some tact. As of today they have none. "I don't like this. I'm not eating it!"

Our renters called yesterday to tell us the AC quit working. Only $1800.00 to fix it. Just when I felt I was really starting to relax. I intend not to dwell on it.

It has been snowing off and on today, but not cold enough for it to last any length of time. Probably a good thing that we saved the receipts for all the cold weather clothing we bought for the girls yesterday.

9/23/09 23:51 Mark

I was actually looking forward to having no cell phone and internet service before we came up here. However, since the internet is such a large factor in our lives I have found it a little inconvenient. We did tap into someone's wireless up here at the cabin, but the signal is weak and intermittent. Just enough to be really frustrating.

We loaded up the girls and drove to Estes Park so we could use the WiFi at Starbuck's. I was in charge of occupying the kids while Kari did our banking. I purchased two donuts, four small milks, a peppermint mocha, and a toffynut latte for a small fortune.

Fortunately the girls were all in good humor. Rylee is suffering from a case of the sniffles, but has not let that slow her down. I asked for four plates and divied up the donuts. I cut some straws in half with my pocket knife after Jordan dribbled a good amount of milk do9wn the front of her jacket. The straws seemed to help everyone but Jordan. She insisted on tipping her cup up, even thou that doesn't help while using a straw. I tried to explain the physics of it to her, but I think my lecture may have been lost on her.

I did learn today that half a glazed cake donut will make each of my kids very hyper. At least they were happy and hyper. Things were going fairly smooth until Rylee noticed that there are board games there for the use of the quests. When she asked to play with them I didn't think it would ge much of a problem.

I got the Connect Four game out and assembled it on the small table. I tired to explain the object of the game, but she wasn't interested in that and was content to just pu the checkers in the top and make patterns. That was okay until all three of her sisters wanted to play too. Once they began to interfere Rylee wanted a different game. So I got her a Dora the Explorer card game and this time set it up on a different table.

Meanwhile Reagan, Madison, and Jordan were standing on their chairs oblivious to everything but how fast they could grab checkers and insert them in the slots. The didn't notice that they had just knocked a nearly full cup of milk off the table. I put Reagan and Madi on the floor, which caused a small fit, while I ran for napkins. By the time I had that small crysis under control kari was finishing up.

One of the ladies behind the counter inquired about their ages and commented on their good looks. I apologized for taking over their cafe. She said that it was okay, they were very well behaved and that I was "Super Dad." I didn't argue.

I was going to run down to Ferncliff to do laundry, but Kari was not feeling well and I let her take a nap. She did tell me that next time it would be okay if I woke her up to make lazagna, because mine was admittedly awful.

We finished the night up with a few games of Yahtzee. I think we are tied. I plan on getting the laundry done tomorrow. Can't wait for the rest of the family to show up on Saturday. It doesn't look like we will be getting any more snow to speak of.

9/24/09 21:00 Mark

Just gave all the girls a bath in the sink. They don't do so well in the shower. None of them like getting water on their faces.

Finally got the laundry done. Five loads and spent all of my quarters.That means we will have to go to Estes to get change since the change machine still isn't working. If I owned the laundromat I would make it a priority to get that thing fixed.

I tried to go for a wold twice. Both times it started raining on us before we got past the end of the driveway. We would go inside and 30 minutes later it would clear up.

I cooked chicken on the portable charcoal grill, despite my Mother's concerns. But Phylis is closest, I consider her the on scene commander and she said that it would be okay if we were careful. * It had been very dry and the danger of starting a forest fire had them concerned.

By the time I got the charcoal lit, however, everyone had given up and eaten something else. I wonder if charcoal goes bad? I used the stuff that was under the cabin and it took me more than an hour just to get it lit. I finally had to start a wood fire under it to get it going.

Kari discovered Grandmom's genealogy/photo album and we spent much of the evening reading it.

9/25/09 23:15 Mark

As much as we have tried to child proof the cabin there have been a couple of incidents today.

I strapped a gate across the ladder leading up to the loft to keep the twins from climbing up there. The big girls have been using a folding chair to get over the gate and that had been working well. However, this morning while Rylee was coming down she slipped. She was trying to step over the gate onto the chair an ended up sliding down the last three steps and gate on her back. She made quite a racket and has a couple of good bruises on her back. So we have decided to remove the lower gate as soon as the twins were in bed. I guess I would still rather one of the older girls fell down three steps rather than one of the twins fall from the top.

Reagan, always the accident prone one, fell off the bench at the dinning table. She tipped over backwards and landed on the bucket of fireplace tools. She too has left some marks on herself.

We have told the twins over and over and over not to touch the stove. (*A cast iron wood burning stove) I kept joking that they would only do it once. Well, Jordan had to test it herself. She was not burned badly, but her hand was a little red and she cried a lot. I wonder now if that lesson will stick.

With two dogs and four kids you can never really let your guard down. At least we can relax a little when they go to bed. I wish they would sleep a little longer sometimes. They ae all worth it thought. I am having a grand time watching them grow.

Kari found Grandmom's binoculars and Rylee was fascinated with them. Just like I was at that age. Just like I still am I guess. So when we went into Estes for food today we got Rylee and Reagan some inexpensive binoculars. Rylee was thrilled. "YOU CAN SEE EVERYTHING WITH THESE NOCULARS!!" she exclaimed. She spent the rest of the day observing everything up close and personal. Reagan was pretty excited about them too, but I don't recall Rylee ever being more excited about anything. It was fun to watch.

After dinner I took Ry and Rea, along with Bunker and Bogie, down the road into the national forest.
we parked down by the river and threw some rocks into the water. We were running out of light so I promised to take them back tomorrow after breakfast.

Boy can you see a lot of stars out here away from the city lights. As I was star gazing this evening I saw the International Space Station fly by. I was thrilled and called everyone out to see it. I had heard that you could see it and that it would be the brightest thing in the night sky. It is. At first I thought it was a shooting star, but it wasn't moving fast enough and didn't go out. Then I figured it must be an airplane, but it was moving too fast. From the time I noticed it overhead till the time it disappeared had to have been less than 90 seconds. It disappeared from view at 19:55. Maybe we will catch it again tomorrow.

Can't wait for the rest of the family to show up tomorrow. We are expecting them between 15:00 and 16:00. Phyllis showed up today around noon. It was a pleasant surprise, but a bit of a shock for her. She was expecting the rest of the Spencer crew to arrive today. I guess some mixed messages were sent somewhere.

9/29/09 9:44 Mark

Been having a very good time with the whole family here. There is never a dull moment. Six children seem to create a perpetual state of chaos.

The rest of the Spencer clan arrived fairly late on the 26th. Tom and I had been working on getting the charcoal lit. Phyl had brought up a bag of Match-lite charcoal that isn't supposed to need any lighter fluid. However, that bag must have been sitting around for several years. It was difficult to get it lit. Reagan helped by pouring a big cup of water into the grill. So I emptied out all the charcoal, salvaged the dry pieces and put them on top of a wood fire. Even that took a long time to get burning. Tome looked like he was having fun playing pyro. We just kept adding twigs and branches until the fire was hot enough to burn the charcoal.

Phyl brought enough steak to feed an army. It took us tow days to eat it all.

One of our first excursions with all the kids was to the Hidden Room. Most everyone walked from the cabin while I drove the support vehicle down to the entrance of Highlands Camp. Papa and Chad were the first ones to go through followed by Cannon. Kari and Meesh went through with Rylee and Reagan while I was keeping an eye on the twins. I finally got a turn and Jordan insisted on following me. That was not the best idea, but we got through without hurting anyone somehow.

Canon was having a good time exploring the loft and finding all the light switches. he was quite flustered when the "disco" light, as he calls it (the one hanging from the top of the cabin over the front of the loft) kept turning on all by itself. "Click" he would turn the light off. "Click" the light would turn back on.

"Dad, the disco light keeps turning on by itself." He called down. Kari, Chad and I were down stairs on the couch so we couldn't see him, but I could picture the look of confusion on his face. "Click" on "Click" off.
"Dad?" He called "It won't stay off."

Then we notice Reagan, with a mischievous smile, standing on a folding chair at the bottom of the ladder. "Click" she turned the light back on. "Click" he turned it back off. Reagan looked over at us, her smile got a little bigger. "Click" lights on.
"Dad?" Cannon called.
This went on for several minutes and we all had a pretty good laugh.

9/29/09 15:09 Mark

Yesterday we took the whole crew to Estes Park. We planned to take the tram to the top of the mountain, but it was closed for the season. So we settled for lunch at a small Italian place. It was very entertaining to watch Reagan eat noodles. She would tip her head back and dangle a handful of spaghetti over her mouth and then tip her head down to slurp up all the ends that missed the mouth.

After lunch we parked the camper and truck at the visitors center and walked along the river back into town. The kids spent about thirty minutes on a playground and burned off some energy. We made a stop at a toy store. It is like herding cats, trying to control six little kids in a toy store. They must touch everything.

Most of the kids needed to be carried the rest of the way back to the cars. We decided that dinner for the kids at McDonald's was in order. If we had waited much longer we would have had a meltdown. The adults picked up steaks for grilling. They were fantastic. * Fresh charcoal lights much easier.

Today we stayed around the cabin. The boys have been playing with axes and saws, clearing dead wood from around the cabin. The ladies have been preparing for Login's Birthday party. It is pirate themed with treasure maps for all the kids and a skull and crossed bones on the cake.

9/30/09 23:24 Mark

It is snowing again. I love the sound and feel of fresh snow crunching under my feet. We may have to get the sleds out again.

Papa and Grandmom, Chad, Meesh, and the boys left today. Back to sunny Sarasota. We sure did have a good time. I only wish it would have lasted a little longer.

Kari and I started cleaning up today. Fourteen people hanging around the cabin tends to create a bit of a mess. I spent about three hours doing laundry and have been working on getting things back where they belong. We plan on mopping the floors tomorrow, walking from the front door to the kitchen will turn a fresh pair of socks completely brown on the bottom.

I got in touch with my Aunt Sue today and are to meet them for dinner on Friday. That should be fun. They have yet to meet any of the kids and i am sure they would especially like to meet the twins who they have prayed for so often.

I'm feeling a bit of an itch to get home. The renters called again and now the garage door is broken. This has not been a good month to be a landlord.

Kari has really taken a liking to hiking. i took her, along with Chad, cannon, Reagan, and the dogs back into the Roosevelt National Forest. we parked by the creek and hiked up the hill a ways. The kids wanted to keep climbing, but poor uncle Chad having just come from sea level was feeling a little tuckered out.

Bogie, being a proper Labrador, came down the hill and just lay down in the creek. I decided that we should hang out for a little bit to let him dry before getting back in the truck.

Kari and I were both hoping to get back down to that spot to hike before everyone left for home, but it didn't happen. Maybe next trip.

Yesterday Tom brought up his chainsaw to help us cut up some of the dead wood aroudn the cabin. When he set it down on a stump to start it he stirred up a nest of Yellow Jackets that had taken up residence there. He got stung at least five times and ended up missing Logan's Birthday party. What is that thing they say about good deeds?

The party went well. Meesh and Kari put in a lot of effort to make it fun for all the kids with treasure maps and hidden toys for all of them.

One other thing that should be noted. We have been having a running Risk tournament every night after the kids are in bed. We are a competitive bunch and some of the games got a little heated, especially between Chad and Meesh. If they hadn't already been sleeping in separate beds they would have been. Despite all the conquering we are all still friends and I am looking forward to a rematch.






They call it the terrible twos for a reason. However, I don't recall Rylee and Reagan being so obnoxious. Madison and Jordan have found that "louder" gets results. Their tantrums even start bothering their siblings, who up to this point, I was sure were immune. Rylee will put her hands over her ears and inform them that they are being too loud. I was thinking tonight that it would be great if they came with a mute feature. I might be somewhere close to sane, if that were the case.

Some new words have emerged in the twins vocabulary. I don't know what they mean. That is probably part of the problem. "Tee!" is the one that comes to mind. Sometimes it means tea, as in iced tea. Other times it is used at full volume while pointing at any number of objects, shoes, doors, and light switches, among others. Kari and I think that it may be an attempt at the word "please." They sure do say it loudly though.

I have been trying to decide lately if we are lucky or unlucky. Standing back and looking at my life, I would have to say lucky. However, the last several years have been...trying, for lack of a better word. I look at all we went through with our twins. We ended up in a car accident on the way to the hospital to save their little lives, we were told that, most likely, neither of them would live, but they did. We were told that if they did live they would have serious health/development issues, but they haven't. On that count I would have to say lucky. I guess on most issues, as long as everyone is still alive, you could say "Well, it could have been worse." At any rate I feel like Murphy's law applies to us more often than not.

Most recently I took my truck in to be serviced because the check engine light was on. It turns out that it needed a new fuel injector pump, a $1200 part, among other things. The same pump that I spent thousands of dollars on just two years ago (I won't bore you with the details). So after $3400 I am driving home and the check engine light comes back on.

I am not even surprised at this point, I almost expect it. Kari just got over surgery to correct an abdominal hernia. And in the equivalent of a check engine light, her hernia has started to pop back out again. But that isn't the worst of it. On top of her stressing about having to have surgery again and another month of recovery, while trying to look after four kids under five years old, her doctor is telling her to just live with it.

She went in and told him that she was having the same sensation of "something popping out" except it was worse now. He felt around her stomach for 30 seconds and told her that he didn't think she had a hernia. She was incredulous and told him so. He told her that if she could make it pop out, then maybe he could tell what it was. He said "If it is a hernia, it will get worse, if it pops out and you can come show it to me. I think I would have seen it on the MRI if it was a hernia so I am not going to order another one." And he sent her home in tears. I was so livid that I could have choked the guy. He could at least work on his bedside manner. So we are looking for a new doctor.

This has all been very distressing. But again I am wondering "lucky" or "unlucky." I know, it could ALWAYS be worse. She doesn't have anything terribly life threatening, unless it become strangulated, in which case it would be very life threatening. But it isn't like they have told her to get her affairs in order, so it could be worse.

At any rate, health issues weigh on me heavily, with me being gone for days at a time. Even if there were not kids involved, I worry about my wife. She has low blood sugar, which on occasion has been incapacitating. She recently has had a migraine (that the doctor assures us was not a migraine, but doesn't know what it was) that was incapacitating and slurred her speech. She has a hernia (that the doctor says isn't a hernia and doesn't know what it is, even thought she just had hernia surgery for the same symptoms) which could be incapacitating and life threatening. I find it all quite alot to worry about. Not to mention the fairly bleak financial situation. So there...when is this going to be better?

Thanks for listening to me vent.

The latest difficulty has been Rylee's mastery of passive aggression. Example:

All four girls are seated at the kitchen table. I use the term seated very loosely. Rylee sits with her feet up on the chair in a cannonball position. Reagan leans on the table with her elbows supporting most of her weight, and her favorite plush toys snuggled under her chin. Madison is standing, while Jordan kneels. Both are pounding on the table with the palms of their hands and shrieking at the top of their lungs.

Dinner has just been served and there is a moment of quiet while I am dishing up a plate for myself. Rylee pipes up "Water! I want my water right there by Mommy's computer." She is referring to a sippy cup perched on the counter.
"Okay, go get it." I said. I had felt like the proverbial chicken with no head while fixing dinner and minding our loud, whiny spawn. And I was glad that she wanted something that was within her ability to get for herself.
"No. I not going to get it." She said, looking somewhere between hurt and defiant.
"Okay, don't get it." I said, feeling annoyed.
"I want water." She continued.
"I want you to get down and get it. I am not your personal servant." I replied.
She stared at me, not moving. I was really starting to lose my patients.
"Get down... and get your water." I said, a little more forcefully. She complied. She got the cup down and then sat on the floor, moping.
"Now, go get in your chair and eat your dinner, please." I said. She, very slowly, climbed back into her chair, set her cup down, and stuck out her bottom lip.
"Eat your dinner." I siad.
"I'm sad." She said.
I bent down next to her. "I am losing my patients, Rylee. Please don't give me attitude. Okay?" I said. She just looked at me.
After about five more minutes of her sulking I laid down the ultimatum.
"Rylee, if you don't eat your dinner and lose the attitude you are going straight to bed. Do you understand?" I said.
Needless to say, within ten minutes she was in bed screaming her head off.

So I am wondering if we are born with the passive aggressive gene or is this a learned thing? She sure is good at it, which makes me think that it is an innate behavior. But, maybe some of it is learned too. Maybe we have caused it, as parents. She should probably give seminars to soldiers on how to resist when in captivity. I will suggest that to her when she gets a little older.

Im back

Sorry to anyone who might still be following this blog. I have been in a funk. I couldn't think of anything to write that was interesting and not sound like I was whining. However, this has kind of been my journal and I realize that if I don't write some of this down it will be lost forever. So...here are a few more things that I didn't want to forget.

Kari has a lot on her plate, to say the least. I was gone on this last trip for four complete days. I try to bid for trips that start late and get done before the kids go to bed, but that is not always a reality.

After a long day of crying, needy kids Kari was nearly at the end of her rope. Jordan was grasping her diaper and chanting "Poo poo, poo poo, poo poo, POO POO!"
"I just changer you... do you have pee pee?" Kari asked.
Jordan grasped the sides of her diaper and tried to pull them off again saying "Poooo poo."
"Ok, common I will change you." Kari said.

This has become an issue lately. Both Jordan and Madison insist on being changed all the time. Sometimes even when they are completely clean and dry. To appease them I sometimes will take off the dry diaper, open the drawer (like I am getting a new one) and put the same one back on the them. Those things are EXPENSIVE. They have not caught on yet but it won't be long. But that is not the point of this story.

As Kari, with Jordan in her arms and Madison starting to chant "Poo poo, poo poo.", walked to the changing table Rylee piped in.
"Mom, I want to ask you a question. (Pause)Mooooooom. I want to ask you a question."
"Rylee, I am changing Jordan's diaper. You will have to come in here if you want to talk to me. I can't hear what you are saying."
Kari finished with Jordan and started on Madison. Rylee appeared.
"Mom...I didn't hear your answer." she said.
"I said that I was changing diapers and if you wanted to talk to me, you should come in here."
"Oh."
"Soooo...What was your question?" Kari asked.
"Uhm, (a long pause) I don't know."

Bill Cosby may have been on to something when he said that all kids are brain damaged.

The other thing that Kari and I were talking about was the twins lack of patience. we where trying decide why they would continue to scream at us when we where working as fast as we could to accommodate them.

For instance when they want a cup of milk they will go to the fridge, stretch their arms up and say "Moi" which is about the same word they use for "more". Even as we are opening the fridge and pulling out the milk they are starting to go into a full on fit. Just barely getting their finger tips hooked over the top of the counter, they try to pull themselves up, launching into a screaming fit.
"I am getting it for you right now, be patient." I will say to them.
"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" is generally the reply while they stamp their feet. It looks like they are doing the running man, but not quite as fluid.

When I asked Kari why she thought they were acting that way Kari said to me "Either they don't get it, they don't listen, or they don't care."

So much has happened since I posted last that I won't even try to conical it here. It has been a busy, stressful couple of months, but I resolve to post on here a little more just so I don't forget those little moments that make it all worthwhile.

I haven't posted much lately because I have been just a little to overwhelmed. I figured that once the twins habit of not breathing on occasion was behind us the stress level would go down. But it hasn't. All these girls that I live with are keeping me on my toes. Here is the latest.

Rylee, who has been having fevers up to 105 degrees for almost two months, has been to see a infectious disease specialist. He isn't sure what it is either. She just finished her second round of antibiotics and has been well for about a week and a half. The only thing that the doctor said that seems to make sense is a cyclical fever or "periodic fever syndrome." If this is the case we should expect her next fever to start about July 3rd. If that is the case, they can help her by giving her steroids. I hope that whatever it is that we would just be done with it. There is no more helpless feeling than holding your first born child while her shivering is bordering on convulsions and listening to her moan.

Reagan is still waiting for her appointment with the speech pathologist. Meanwhile her potty training, which I had considered nearly complete, has totally derailed. I don't know if she is frustrated with not being understood, or looking for more attention, or what... But I have given thought to putting her back in diapers.

Except for the teeth cutting, which seems to be lasting forever, the twins are doing great. They are talking much more and that is exciting to watch. I can't speak for Kari, but I still can't imagine them growing up. We still have not gotten over the whole emotional roller coaster that brought them into this world and I'm not sure that we ever will.

Kari gave us a scare the other day. I had just gotten home from a trip, called Kari to see if I needed to pick anything up on the way home. She told me that she had a bad headache. Those kids will do that to you, but I didn't think it was going to be that bad. She was pretty much incapacitated.

When I got home it was almost 8 p.m. and Rylee and Rea met me at the door with the dogs right behind them. We did the hugs and kisses and then I went to find my wife. I found her laying on the couch, covering her eyes. We didn't have much of a conversation. She was obviously in serious pain and she went to lay down in bed.

After I got the big girls fed and put to bed I went to check on Kari again. She was still covering her head, very sensitive to light and noise, and speaking seemed to be excruciating. I debated at that point whether to take her to the hospital. I had never seen her like this, but it sounded just like a migraine. I asked her if she wanted to go to the ER and I think she replied that she didn't care. I figured that some peace and quite and a good night sleep would have her cured by morning. So I kissed her on the head, closed the door, and hoped that she would be able to get to sleep soon.

The scary part was the next morning. I got up with the kids and was fixing them breakfast when Kari got up about 20 minutes later. I got her a cup of coffee and TRIED to talk to her. She couldn't get more than a word or two out at a time. Like she was trying to remember how to pronounce a really large word. We settled on broken English and hand signals, just like a trip to Europe, Right?

We got Kari to the Doctor that day. She was back to normal by the time we got to his office. He ordered up an MRI to check for strokes or an aneurysm. It didn't show anything, thank God. I am very relieved, however, the doctor did let us sweat all weekend before giving us the results, which really stunk.

So we don't know what was wrong with her.

On a more positive note, her hernia surgery went well. She had been putting it off and putting it off. I think once she is back on her feet she will be really glad that she had it done, but right now she is pretty miserable.

I did learn one very important lesson. If you are taking the kids upstairs to make sure that your wife has a quiet, peaceful environment to recover in, you should arrange some way for her to contact you if, for example, she was unable to get out of bed and had to urgently go to the bathroom.





Kid update

Rylee has had a fever on an off for the last three weeks. Sometimes getting over 105 degrees. We are hoping that she just has a virus, but it seems odd for a couple of reasons:
1. She had a fever for a week, was better for almost two weeks, got the fever again for several days, went almost 48 hours with no fever, and now she has a fever again (104.6 degrees this morning.)
2. She has been out in public only once in all that time. So where did she get it?
3. None of the other kids have been sick.
4. She has no other symptoms. She is much less active when her fever spikes, but other than that she seems fine.
5. We are having to alternate between Motrin and Tylenol every three hours to keep the temp below 102.

I don't think of myself as a worry wart, but we are taking her back to the doctor tomorrow. It just seems strange. The only thing that we have found on the internet that matches those symptoms (other than a virus) is a urinary infection or Periodic Fever Syndrome (or something like that.) We aren't freaking out, but are becoming concerned.

Reagan -

I think she has become very frustrated with her speech issues. We have noticed that she talks much less now than she did just a month ago.

I don't know if it is related, but she has become much more rebellious and uncooperative. One moment she will be all smiles and the next she is down right hostile. Folding her arms, chin tucked down, no eye contact, refusing to even try to speak, running away and hiding. Is this normal? Kari says that she is a Gemini with a split personality.

Also she is having a MAJOR set back in the potty training. She was doing great and having almost no accidents. Now she often doesn't even try to get to the bathroom. I am wondering if she is using that to seek attention. I think we went through 10 pairs of panties the other day. It is very frustrating.

The twins are still cutting teeth and are pretty grouchy a majority of the day. Other than that they are doing really well.

Binki Wars

Those of you with siblings can probably relate. Didn't it always seem that whatever it was that your brother or sister had, or was playing with, at any given moment was better than whatever you had? Apparently this is the way the twins feel.

I wasn't home so this is story has been reconstructed from interviews with the actual parties involved. I tried to interview the twins, but they just kept saying "That (they mean that, but it sounds like dat), daddy, kitty cat, good girl, and uh ooooh." So it is only based on interviews with Kari.

It had been a long day and Kari had finally gotten all the kids in bed. She poured herself a glass of wine and plopped down on the couch. She picked up the remote and scrolled through a list of recorded TV shows. After searching through all 104 recorded programs, that she has not had time to watch, she selected "House."

Before too long she heard noises from upstairs. She was thinking that it was Reagan. Reagan always comes downstairs, to go to the bathroom, about 30 minutes after we put her to bed. Kari sat there awhile expecting to see Reagan sneaking down the stairs at any moment. After several minutes and not seeing Rea's head bobbing down the stairs, but still hearing noises, she decided to investigate. She tip toed to the top of the stairs and paused. All the doors where closed, she waited for the next sound. She heard a bump from the twins room. She crept to the door and cracked it open. Madison was out of bed. Kari watched from the doorway, waiting to see what she was going to do. Madison walked over to Jordan's bed, lean over her sleeping sister, and yanked the binki out of Jordan's mouth. Jordan, shocked awake, began to cry. Madison removed the purple binki from herown mouth and attempted to ram it into Jordan's mouth, she then stuck the pink binki into her mouth, turned and with out another thought set off back across the room. Jordan, meanwhile, kept the new binki in her mouth and continued to cry. Madison crawled back into bed, turned her head toward the wall, drew her knees up under her, stuck her butt up in the air and suckled her pink binki contentedly.

Kari was more interested in quiet than justice and decided to console Jordan as opposed to upsetting Madison by taking away her ill gotten gains.


Insanity

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Apparently I am a little thick headed or partially insane, because it seemed like a good idea to take the kids to the park by myself...again.

I got home at 6:30 this morning, after a red eye flight from Portland. I wasn't feeling too bad, so when Reagan crept out of her room I decided that I would just stay up with her. We sat on the couch and read stories for almost an hour before Rylee came down stairs and it was time to start breakfast. The twins were nice enough to snooze while Rylee helped me whip up some French toast. It was a pretty pleasant morning.

It didn't last, however. I tried to sneak off for a nap when the twins went down for theirs, but it didn't seem to last very long. I woke up to the twins screaming and they continued to be grouchy until I decided that we should all get out for a bit. Kari helped me get everyone dressed and I loaded the twins in the double stroller. Everything went well on the walk to the park. The twins were quite, sitting back and taking in the sights. Reagan pointed out every flower that lines our quite, suburban, street and Rylee tagged along engaging me in discussions ranging from BIG trees to little bugs.

When the park came into view the big girls sprinted the last hundred yards to the swings. I recall wishing that I had their energy. I unloaded the twins. Madison immediately began to cry and wrapped her arms around my knees. Jordan, on the other hand, headed straight for the swings. The swings turned out to be too hot to sit on, so I spent several minutes sitting on the swings to cool them off. It must have been funny to watch. Some man holding his kids back while he sits on each one of the swings.

After about six minutes of swinging contentedly (them swinging, not me) and sweating because the temperature was really starting to soar, Rylee got a wood chip in her shoe. Doesn't sound like a major dilemma, but it was a total catastrophe to her.
"Take your shoe off." I said, slowly. She shook her hands up and down and cried, making no attempt to remove her shoe.
"Just a minute. I will help you." I said. Trying not to sigh to loud.
I put the twins on the ground. They can't be trusted to hold on very long while unsupervised. This did not go over very well with them and they both began to cry. Madison, like a heavy weight boxer tying up his opponent, wrapped her arms around my legs again. It is a very effective move when you are seeking attention and Madison has it perfected. You have to untangle the youngster from your legs and step back quickly to avoid being snared again. Maybe I should get her into wrestling or maybe Jujitsu. Anyway, I left the twins squawking by the swing and moved over to Rylee, who was squawking by the jungle gym.
"Now, take your shoe off." I said again. This time she complied.
"Now, brush off your foot." I instructed. She did, but she brushed off her foot on the mulch, which cause more wood chips to stick to her foot. She burst into tears again.
"I can't do it." she wailed. So I brushed off her foot and replaced her shoe. She smiled, took one step, got more wood chips in her shoe and burst into tears again.
"Do you want to just take your shoes off?" I asked. Hoping.
"Noooo." She replied.
"Sigh." I brushed off the feet and put on her shoes again. Now it was all better.

I put the twins back on the swings and for another 6o seconds everyone was happy. Then Rylee came over, looked up at me and said. "I want a drink."
"Honey, there isn't anything to drink here."
"But, but, but, cause ... I'm firsty."
"Rylee, we will get you a drink when we go back to the house."
"I'm thirsty." she says with tears this time.
"Sigh...We will go home soon."
Then Madison began to cry, so I took her out of the swing, she cried even louder.
"Alright, that was quick...we are going home." I announced. I expected some form of protest from Reagan, who had been playing happily, but she bounced over and smiled.
I put Madison, still screaming, into the stroller and belted her in. Then had to sprint after Jordan who was running off at top speed. I wonder if she had a destination in mind, probably not. She submitted to being strapped in the stroller and we set off for home with Rylee and Madi on the verge of a mutual meltdown. It was at this point that I was really regretting walking with all four to the park instead of putting them in the car.

We had traveled about a block before Jordan joined the chorus of wailing. Reagan was still being a trooper, however, she insisted on either walking right in front of the stroller and stopping unexpectedly or lagging so far behind that we would have to stop and let her catch up.

"You are going too fast." Rylee informed me.
"Don't you want to get home and have a drink?" I asked.
"Too fast." She repeated. I slowed for about half a block and then picked up the pace again.
"Too fast, Dad."
"Come on Rylee, lets get home."
She just stopped and cried.
"Carry." She said.
"What?"
"Carry me."
"Sigh." She is getting pretty big to be carried very far and we still had a ways to go. I picked her up and we made it another block before Reagan started crying and wanted to be carried too. So I put Rylee down and picked up Reagan. Reagan stopped crying and Rylee started again.
It was a beautiful, cloudless, day and many people were outdoors. I noticed most were looking at us. Most were sympathetic, but amused, looks. On the last block I put Reagan down, while she is lighter than Rylee, she gets pretty heavy before too long. So we dragged down the home stretch with all four kids in tears. I had about had enough.

I wonder how long it will be before that seems like a good idea again.

The speech therapist that has been working with Reagan has been encouraging us to take her to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. So we finally did. I had imagined that they would find nothing unusual and we would work with her more on pronouncing those tricky B and P sounds.

I was a little shocked to find that she does have a physical problem. A Bifid Uvula and Velopharyngeal insufficiency. "How do you pronounce that?" I may need a speech therapist for that one.

What this means to lay people like myself is that her uvula, that little thing hanging down in the back of you mouth, is split in two. If it had been worse it would have been a cleft pallet. Because of this her soft pallet doesn't close off her nasal cavity completely when she swallows, that is the Velopharyngeal insufficiency.

I was a little distraught at first learning this, but now I am more in the "deal with it" mode. The doctor says that surgery is rarely needed and there are few doctors who perform that sort of procedure. It could even make it worse. Apparently more speech therapy is the best/only option. The speech therapist that we have been working with is due to come over on Friday and she will discuss options with us. She suspected that there was some sort of physical problem with her speech because of the particular words that Reagan was having trouble pronouncing.

Rylee Madison and Jordan are all still a little under the weather. Madison is on the last day of steroids for croup. Jordan just has a bit of a cold, but is coughing pretty badly. Rylee still has a fever and is eating and drinking very little, but we have been able to keep her fever under 101 degrees for more than 24 hours. I think she is on the mend.

I am posting right now because I don't know what else to do with myself. Kari has taken Rylee to the ER with a 105 degree fever and I am holding down the fort. Just waiting and not being able to do anything else is kind of tough for me. So once again I am just typing in my own form of self therapy.

I know that 105 is pretty high and I am concerned, but I really have no idea how bad that is and wonder if I am under or over concerned. I mean, is 105 life threatening? Does the brain cook itself at 106? Or is that just a high fever and it will go away and not much to really worry about? At any rate I think we made the right decision to take her in. I say "we" but it was Kari telling me "Rylee has a 105 fever and I am taking her to the ER." I didn't argue.

We had decided just 15 minutes before that we would take Rylee and Madison in to the doctor tomorrow. Every one has been sick, but Madi and Ry are the worst. All four girls have had fevers over the last several days, but never over 103.5. And they have all responded well to Tylenol and Motrin, till now.

I thought that they were all on the mend until today. Rylee has been a wreck all day. And Madison sounds like a baby harp seal. Nothing sounds more pitiful than your baby crying when she has lost her voice. The sobs only being interrupted by coughing fits. No fun at all. Rylee spent the day shivering and napping on the couch. I suspect that they have some form of the flu, but I am not exactly sure. Madison had a 103 fever this morning and was dry heaving so hard that I thought she would spit up the Motrin that I just got down her throat. Reagan and Jordan seem to be weathering this the best. They slow down and get quite, which is a big red flag that something isn't right, we take their temps, give them some Tylenol and 20 minutes later they are back to normal.

Today wasn't all bad. Reagan and the twins played outside for a good long time. That is always fun to watch. The twins have spent so much of their lives indoors that they just have a field day any time they are released. And now that it is getting warmer they really enjoy playing with the water table and the hose.

Reagan especially likes to play with water. It is great that you can turn the hose on and she will amuse her self for an hour or more, but there are some draw backs to that.

First, she insists on removing every stitch of clothing. That isn't so bad except that she will come in, dry off, put on more clothes, then decide to go back out, dump the fresh clothes on the wet ground, play for a few, come in, dry off, get new clothes, go back out, repeat again and again and again.

Second, you have to kind of keep an eye on where she is spraying the hose. I don't really have the time to sit out back and watch one kid for hours at a time. So today I trusted her alone with the hose while I went in to do some laundry. I had taken the dry cloths out of the dryer and was starting to put the wet cloths in when I heard the rush of running water. I heard it clearly, as if it was in the same room. It seemed like my mind took minutes to deduct the source of that sound, but it was probably only seconds.
"Reagan? Reagan has the hose! She shoved the hose in the dryer vent!" The though jumped into my head. I dropped the laundry, whirled about, sprinted through the kitchen, flung open the back door, slipped on the wet pavement, possibly pulled something in my groin area, shoved a patio chair out of my way, and moved quickly to where Reagan was happily filling the dogs water bowl.
"Hmmm, maybe I was wrong." I thought to myself. So I peered in the dryer vent. It was hard to tell. So I stuck my hand in the vent. Yep, there was A LOT of water in there.
"Reagan!" I snapped. She looked up. She was still smiling, but not as big as when I burst out the door and slipped.
"Reagan, do not EVER put water in here. That is a NO NO!" Now her smile was gone. At least now I had her attention. She frowned a little more and then with an impish little smile, turned the hose on the back of the house and into the weep holes in the brick. She glanced back up at me for approval.
"No. In fact I don't want you to spray water on the house at all. You are getting water in the house!" I said, just a little exasperated.
"Sawee Daddeeeee." She said, the frown returning. She is really too cute for her own good. She is going to get away with many many things that she shouldn't in this life with just that look and just that smile.
"Ok, no more water on the house, right?"
"OoooooKaaaay." She replied. The smile was back and all was right with the world.


Note the hole in the wall for the dryer vent. The cover for the vent mysteriously became dislodged at some point.

Personalities

I honestly can't recall if I have written a blog about this before. It may be another symptom of the child induced insanity from which I suffer. And I am too lazy to go back and read all my posts to see if I have. So I apologize if I am repeating myself, but I had to be certain that this was included in my journal.

I had always heard that identical twins have a special connection to each other. Some sort of mental bond. Thinking the same thing at the same time, that sort of thing. I never thought too much about it and really was a bit skeptical. But maybe there is something to it.

A couple of weeks ago Kari was in the kitchen looking out toward the living room. Jordan was playing happily in front of the TV. She was climbing up on an overturned laundry basket to reach the coffee table. Madison was two rooms away, in the dining room, admiring the fish tank. She was also content.
Jordan took a misstep and rocked forward, bashing her little noggin on the coffee table. At the same moment Madison let out an ear piercing shriek. Parents will know the one that I am talking about. The kind that says "I am really hurt, this time." Kari had seen Jordan bump her head and and rushed to pick her up. Jo had not even started to cry before Kari was moving toward her. She was, however, shrieking pretty loud by the time Kari reached her. As Kari was cradling Jordan and kissing her head, Madison came running in from the other room holding the exact same spot on her head and screaming just as loud.

What do you make of that?

I used to think that observing that kind of connection between the twins would be really neat, but I now seems just a little creepy. Kari tells me that the whole episode gave her the goose bumps.

It has been interesting to watch the different personalities emerge with the twins. What the doctors said about Jordan being more active, still holds true. She rarely sits still for more than a few moments. While Madison insists on being held, almost all of the time, Jordan is pretty happy playing with Reagan or just doing her own thing. However, every 10 minutes or so Jordan will come over grab you finger and try to lead you somewhere. If you don't comply fast enough there are tears. I am not certain that she even knows where she wants to take you most times. It was very cute at first, but often she comes up and latches onto your fingers right when you are in the middle of tending to another child. There is nothing better than changing a nasty diaper while listening to a tantrum.

Kari and I are realizing that we have still been babying the twins. It is difficult to switch from catering to their every need to forcing them into behaving. We have started to give them time outs and generally are not putting up with the whining so much. Madison was quite put out by this change at first, but seems like maybe she is coming around. When she starts really throwing a fit, I will take her into another room, set her on the floor, and tell her that she can come back when she gets done crying. She used to carry on for a long time, but now she gets over it much more quickly.

Purple Nurples

Reagan was sitting on the couch the other night, just watching a little TV. Madison was amusing herself by by vaulting over the arm of the couch, landing on her face, and then swinging her feet back to the ground to do it again. I am not sure if Reagan got kicked, but something rubbed her the wrong way. She caught Madison at the top of the armrest on her next circuit and with an angry look on her face gripped Madison's nipple and twisted.

Now where did she learn to give titty twisters? I have never seen Boots give Dora a "purple nurple." I can assure you that Kari and I didn't teach her that. I can only assume that it is an instinctual behavior. Do you think it developed in the caveman stage? It must be some sort of survival skill.

I am still amazed by how sweet our kids can be to each other and by how mean they can be, not five minutes later. A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the couch and Reagan came over carrying an arm full of toy dolphins. Madison and Jordan started fussing and so Reagan gave them each a dolphin to sooth them. A couple of minutes later she was trying to shove them off the couch with her feet.

The girls have changed dramatically in the last several months. The twins are really trying to speak more often. I remember being very pleased with Rylee and Reagan when they began speaking, but it seems like a bigger deal with the twins. I guess everything they do seems like a huge triumph after what they have been through. Reagan's speech seems to be improving a little at a time, but there is still much room for improvement.

Sorry to family and friends that have been relying on this blog for the latest updates. I guess I have been on sabbatical. I was taking a little time to wallow in self pity and was not wanting to whine too much about it on here. Everyone was sick, the cars needed work, the oven quit working (just to name a few) and we were unable to do much about any of it at the time. It was just a bit overwhelming. I was just a little too busy counting my problems instead of my blessings.

"Its okay" is our new mantra. Just keep repeating that and it seems to get a little better.

When I wake up these days I find that I am having to immediately play detective. Super sleuth, gum shoe, P.I., a dick. All I need is a trench coat and well worn Fedora. I go in search of clues, evidence of crime. Sometimes they are glaringly obvious and sometimes they are subtle. I also get to be judge, jury and executioner (well punishment dispenser, anyway) when I inevitably find evidence of wrong doing. This morning it was a trail of ripped up cardboard leading to a pile of discarded plastic, crumbs and mutilated lunch meat. All of which had previously been a prepacked lunch time meal that my wife had gotten just for herself. That was one of the more obvious. Yesterday I was feeling like a CSI as I examined evidence of a raided refrigerator. I had found partially consumed yogurt packages on the counter. Not the cups of yogurt, mind you, but the plastic straw-like containers that allow one to consume the yogurt like a partially melted popsicle by sucking the contents out of the tube. The ends of the tubes are perforated to facilitate tearing them off, however, it is still a difficult task for a two and a half and a four year old. Hence they will resort to tools. There in lies the real crime. Yogurt theft is only a misdemeanor. Scissor use, however, is a felony in this household.

I examined the evidence and confronted the suspects. I had enough evidence for a conviction, but I was expecting to get a confession. Much of the evidence had been removed in an effort to cover their tracks. The chairs that had been used to reach the counter had been repositioned. A check of the waste bin indicated that paper towels had been used in an effort to clean up the evidence.

"See these smooth lacerations on the epidermal layer of the yogurt container?" the suspects remained stone faced. I continued "These markings are indicative of some sort of cutting implement. How did you open these?"
"Uhmmm." was the reply.
"You used the scissors, didn't you?"
"Uhmmm, uhm, uhm...uhmmmm." Rylee replied.
"I know that you used the scissors and I am very disappointed, but I want you to tell me the truth. Did you use the scissors to open these?" I continued.
"Uhmm...yeah." a long pause "Are you going to spank us?"
"Yes, I don't want to, but we have talked about this many times. First you don't get into the fridge without asking, you come get Mom or Dad. And second, we have told you not to touch the scissors many, many times. Those could hurt you." Not to mention that I don't want you to cut you hair again, I didn't add.
"Ohhhhhh!" They both said, not looking forward to a swat on the rump.
"Why did you do that? We talked about that before you went to bed." I asked again forgetting that all kids are brain damaged, at least according to Bill Cosby.
I wonder if I really expect an answer to that question. "Why?" I must, since I keep asking it.

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