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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?"
"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.
"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.

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