Of Casseroles, Keys and Cousins

Golly what a day! And it’s only halftime.

I had an appointment this morning with both the psychiatrist and my counselor. I found out though that I would have to take both bambini with me, and as precious as the toddler is, she is too distracting to make a visit with the counselor worthwhile. I cancelled that appointment.

The psycho is in the same town as my sister, so I planned to stop by her house. I bustled around, cheerfully getting everyone ready to be gone half the day and make a casserole to take over to Leah’s for lunch. We got out the door in plenty of time, Aviana was a fantastic listener, and got her coat and boots on all by herself–Huge Help! We’re having a dandy time in the car, listening to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! on tape, when I got a call from an unfamiliar cell number. I couldn’t get to the phone in time, since I was driving and I never answer the phone while driving *crosses fingers behind her back*, not to mention it was on the passenger side floor in the diaper bag. I called back, didn’t recognize the name or the voice and hung up. Then I realized that Leah had mentioned she would be with a friend this morning, thought it might be Kate’s number so I called again and this time left a message. I still didn’t think much about it. Another ten minutes go by, when the same number calls back. It is Leah. I thought she would just be calling to tell me to pick up something, or to come later; something simple.

But no, she is calling because she, all the babies (3, 22 months, and 1 month), and her friend are locked out of her house and van, so they can’t even go anywhere. Thank GOD Kate was with her, so they could wait in the warmth of her car. Thank GOD her friend had a cell phone. Thank GOD that it was even halfway convenient to help them. It’s never fun to be locked out (speaking from experience), but especially not with three small children, a pregnant friend, a 15º day, and snow all around.

I turned right around and went to my brother-in-law’s work to pick up the house keys and take them over to her. Of course, it didn’t go all that smoothly, (I went to the wrong entrance at first, Tony was in another building altogether, Aviana needed a potty break while we were waiting), but I still thought I would manage to get to the psycho on time. I didn’t. I had called to let them know I would be coming, but tardy, to no avail, they wouldn’t let me have my appointment today because I was so late.

Leah still had an errand to run, and I wanted to wait for her to get back home. With my found time, I browsed a children’s store with Aviana while Brielle slept blissfully in her carrier (which, incidentally, I can hardly carry!).

We got to Leah’s at the same time they arrived home. It was heart-meltingly sweet to see Cora and Aviana take these giant steps carefully though the snow toward one another, rapturously join hands and tromp up the porch steps together. Aviana loves her cousins and they did an amazing job of sharing today. Cora and Ella love her too, but they really love Brielle. Kind of like the Abominable Snowman loves Bugs Bunny. To the smooshing point.

We had an amiable time chatting, playing, holding the babies, playing ring-around-the-baby (pictured above), eating the yummy casserole I made. We all had seconds and Kate and Leah both asked for the recipe, so I’ll share it with you too:
Bubble ‘Za
1 pound ground beef
1 can (15 ounces) Italian seasoned chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tubes (12 ounces each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
You can be as creative as you want with other pizza toppings.
In a skillet, brown the beef; drain. Stir in tomatoes and sauce. Quarter the biscuits; place in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Top with the beef mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings.

It’s a good thing our visit was so mellow and restorative, since the whole reason I had for driving over there in the first place got cancelled, and because the next part of the day definitely wasn’t.

Brielle hates to be restrained in her car seat. And when I say hates, I mean ab-so-lute-ly abhors it! Almost every time we put her in it, she arches her back, screams, fusses, flails, tries to roll over out of it, and generally carries on as if she’s being filleted alive. (Just so you know, we’ve had both her and the seat checked out by professionals, and the professional opinion is she hates it.) Usually, however, the tantrum is short lived and she calms down and is distracted by a toy.

Today was the exception to the rule. After driving for about 15 minutes, I thought maybe she was hungry. I didn’t want to sit in the car in some parking lot to nurse, had to return some books to the library anyway, we were close to one of the branches, so I decided to go there to feed her. I parked, only after narrowly escaping being hit by an inattentive Miata, fed the meter, got Aviana up onto the sidewalk, out of danger of the extremely busy street, then lugged the books, toted the diaper bag, hefted the baby and had the toddler in hand, had help from the total stranger when the blanket fell off Brielle (whose screaming bloody murder has not tapered off one iota), trekked across the street, through the doors, and the little turnstile thingies that stymied the toddler to the point of having to hold up the line while I talked her through how they worked, and all the way to the back of the library where the children’s room is.

My plan was two-fold. I would nurse Brielle to a contented stupor, and Aviana would serenely play in the little reading gazebo simultaneously feeding her brain with the plethora of books.

Ask me if that worked. Go ahead. Ask me.

As soon as I took Brielle out of the accursed car seat, it was as if I had corked her. Seriously. She obligingly nursed, but only for a few minutes.

And Aviana. Dear sweet Aviana.

She’s crossing the bridge into the reading hut, and I glanced over to see blue Grover-like puppet fur sticking up out of the gazebo. I brightly called out, in a light sing-song voice, “Watch out! It looks like there might be a monster in there!”

Poor little darlin’!

I could only watch as her eyes got big, her mouth opened slightly, her forehead puckered; her entire countenance changed from eager anticipation to fearful trepidation. She began to wail, and was so frightened, she was literally petrified. I had to pull Brielle off the boob and go over and rescue Aviana, all the while trying to explain it was just a puppet and there was nothing to be afraid of.

And let me tell you, it was no help at all when the librarian said to me, in a finger wagging tone, “Well, you told her there was a monster in there!”

Now it’s nap time. Halftime. Minus the marching band and dancing girls.

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