Playing Favorites


My oldest daughter ET (age 18) is going to school on the mainland.

We hadn’t seen her since summer, so of course we were all glad when she was coming for Christmas vacation.

Little Girl was particularly excited. “ET is my favorite sister!” she enthused.

“Really?” I said. “Why is she your favorite?”

“Probably because I don’t see her much,” Little Girl admitted.

Well, that’s pretty insightful for a six-year-old, I think!

Stirring up trouble

While I was driving one time, my husband texted me. I handed the phone to GG (age 14) and said, “Text Daddy that we’re on the way home.”

She took my phone and pressed buttons. Then she returned it to me.

A moment later, her own phone alerted her to an incoming text. “Look, Boo!” she said to her sister. “Mommy says I’m her favorite.”

Boo frowned at the screen, reading the text.

“She sent that herself!” I protested.

Boo shrugged. “I know,” she said. “It says ‘U R my fave.’ Obviously not from Mommy.”

You can’t fool Boo.

Sunday Morning Ain’t So Easy

Getting the kids to church on Sundays can be difficult.

Making all four kids get up, get dressed, maybe eat something, and get in the car is hard enough. But the fifteen-minute car ride to the church has begun to be the worst part.

The fighting has gotten so bad we have been taking two cars to church, just to allow the children a buffer zone away from each other.

Last week, however, there was a problem with the second car’s battery, forcing all six of us back into one car for the dreaded Sunday morning ride.

It started right away when we all got in. The twins began shoving each other and quarreling over a toy. GG insisted Boo was sitting in her seat and felt perfectly justified in sitting ON her sister and buckling the seat belt around herself while Boo screamed that she was being crushed.

I started hollering directions from the drivers’ seat: “GG! Get off your sister! Boo! Stop that noise! Little Boy! Give that back!” My husband knocked on the window. “Let me drive,” he said, in his I’m-the-reasonable-adult-voice.

I got out in a huff, annoyed that he was implying he was better able to drive calmly with all the chaos going around behind us. The kids finally settled in their separate seats but continued to quarrel and snipe at each other.

I sat angrily in the passenger seat and watched my husband placidly buckle his seat belt and start the car. He seemed to be humming a little tune to himself as he drove the van out of the garage and down the street.

Obviously he was out to prove he was the better parent, I thought. He was trying to show that I was the screaming-shrew mom and he was the calm-and-cool dad. I seethed.

Then I noticed something stuffed in his ear. I peered closer.

“Aha!” I said. “You’re wearing earplugs!”

He glanced over at me. “What?” he said.

I guess he wins.

The ABC’s of My Trip

I just flew across the ocean with my kids. Twice.

This is not the first time I’ve made this trip. Nor will it be the last, unfortunately. But this is the first time I’ve decided to make an illustrated alphabetical list about the trip.



Little Girl was highly suspicious of the apple juice on the airplane. “Why is it in a CAN?! It’s supposed to be in a box.”


One of the highlights of the trip was the display of (and discussion about) what Little Girl found in her her belly button.

  • LG: What is this?
  • Me: It’s just dirt.
  • LG: EW! Dirt?
  • Me: It’s no big deal. Everyone has dirt in their belly button.
  • LG: Everyone does?
  • Me: Yes, everyone.
  • LG: Even brand-new BABIES?!
  • Me: Okay. Maybe not everyone…


This picture speaks for itself, I think.


Diet Coke was about the only thing keeping me going on these marathon flights. Well, and M-n-M’s…


The problem with airline earbuds is that they are made for grown-up-sized ears. They simply refuse to stay in the ears of small children! I thought I had solved this problem this year by packing headbands to wrap around the twins’ heads and hold the earbuds in, but they still fell out. Over and over and over.

Perhaps I should have considered duct tape…


It still amazes me that they refuse to feed you ANYTHING while you are trapped on an airplane for ten hours. Unless you pay extra…


Boo (age 11) discovered there was a downside to having grown about a foot taller since our last overnight flight. She couldn’t get comfortable in her seat at all.

So she got enjoy my usual overnight flight pastime: Watching all the people who can sleep on airplanes snooze away… and HATING THEM ALL.


Truthfully I like it when the screens on the airplane show you how much longer you have to go until landing. 

But I like it less when I have to keep reading it out loud to little kids, and translating the time into the number of minutes.


This problem wasn’t helped much by all the apple juice consumed on the flight.


There’s a point in the middle of  a REALLY long flight when you think you’re not going to survive to see land again. EVER.

I have been there.




I just put in a little flashback here to last year’s trip to remind me that things could always be worse.

Because they can.


The twins were obsessed with the call-flight-attendant button once they’d discovered it, which was fortunately not until the last flight.

  • Me: Don’t press the man button.
  • Them: But what happens if we press it?
  • Me: Just DON’T.
  • Them: But what happens?
  • Me: Please. Just DON’T.
  • Them: Hey! I saw one in the bathroom too!
  • Me: Don’t press it.




So to take our minds off the torture of overseas air travel with children, let’s go back and visit the torture of navigating giant airports with children.


Yep. Little Girl had a full-on panic attack at the top of the escalator and refused to go down. Meanwhile the rest of us, and her travel pillow, sailed down the escalator alone.  

Good times.

Another thing taking my mind off travel was the quilt I’ve been working on. I’m hand-sewing a quilt made of several thousand identically-sized triangles.

As of the middle of the trip I’d finished a center panel consisting of 36 squares, each containing 36 triangles. That’s 1,298 triangles all together, if you didn’t realize. And that’s not even the whole quilt yet.


Yes, that would be be the aforementioned apple juice spilling on my needlework.








Unfortunately, no tranquilizers were available.

Despite the apple-juice mishap, I continued sewing as much as I could. Although it is a problem to keep up with things in those tiny airplane seats.


It is REALLY hard to reach things when they fall under there.

But like I said, remember it could always be worse.



Once that crisis was safely averted, we settled back into mid-flight boredom.






There was some trouble when Little Girl caught sight of the safety information card.



  • Her: Why does it show the airplane going in the water?
  • Me: No, it’s just telling you what to do in case it goes in the water.
  • Her: Why would it go in the water? It’s not a boat. It’s a plane.
  • Me: Well, it wouldn’t. You’re right. We’re flying OVER the ocean.
  • Her: So why does it show the people floating in the water?
  • Me: Well, you know, just in case.
  • Her: In case what?
  • Me: In case the plane…goes down…in the water….
  • Her: It might go down in the WATER?!
  • Me: It won’t.
  • Her: But what if it does?!
  • Me; It won’t.
  • Her: But the PICTURE?!
  • Me: Let’s just put that away, shall we?

And now we are coming to the end of the alphabet, finally. Just as we EVENTUALLY came to the end of the airplane trip.




That’s My Boy

photo (7)

Little Boy is six years old. 

It’s a tough life for him because he has –count them!– FOUR older sisters. Even his twin sister is three minutes older than he is. 

The bright side of this is that he really knows how to get along with girls.  And he’s used to taking orders from them too!

Good training for becoming a husband one day, right?

He even knows how to sweet talk already. Whenever his teenage sister gets upset with him, he quickly says, “You’re beautiful, GG!”

Now who could resist that? 

Yoda again


GG found a little plastic Yoda in a cereal box.

So she made it pretend to vomit into her sister’s cereal bowl and declare, “Sick I feel.”

This quickly deteriorated into a Yoda-insult contest. (“Stupid GG is.” “Stinky Boo smells.” Et Cetera.)

Ah, my kids. I feel a strange mixture of proud and appalled.

Sisters Reunited Part 2

I mentioned before that my teenage daughters have been expressing their affection for each other by fighting a lot. Here’s an example:

We went out to eat at a nice restaurant with the kids and their grandparents. We had to ride in a small elevator from the parking garage.

It was pretty crowded in the elevator car with all nine of us, but we moved aside as best we could to allow a nice older couple to get in as well.


As the elevator descended, I saw ET pinning GG in a headlock, while GG tried to defend herself by stretching her tongue around to lick ET’s arm.


I gave the pair of them the Mommy Death Stare and hissed, “Stop it!”

Unfortunately, the nice old lady was in my line of sight as I did that. She gave me a terrified look, wondering what she’d done to earn such an angry glare. Her lips parted as if to ask, “Stop what?” 


Behind her my daughters continued to wrestle silently.

Finally the elevator stopped. The old couple shuffled away from us as fast as they could.


I turned to ET and GG, who were giving me their most innocent looks. “We were just playing,” they both insisted.

Tell that to that poor old woman’s pacemaker, I thought.

The moral of the story is: If one day you see this family packed into an elevator car, please…


Sisters Reunited


My oldest daughter, ET, is  home for Christmas. (She has been going to school on the mainland.) Everyone is happy to see her, especially her closest sister, GG .

Unfortunately, these two manifest their affection for each other by “play” fighting all over the house.

It’s driving me crazy.

I’m calmly reading a book in my living room, and in my peripheral vision I see GG poke ET in the ribs and run away, giggling and shrieking as her sister chases her upstairs.

We’re sitting down having a nice family dinner, and the two of them are trying to see who can pinch the other sister the hardest under the table.

In the car, I hear them in the backseat elbowing each other and exclaiming, “Ow!” “Ouch!” “Stop it!”

Their means of expressing affection for each other is killing their mother’s nerves.

And that’s just at home! Just wait until you see what happens when we go out in public….

(stay tuned for the illustrated version)