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Number 2

Jerod's looking for the magical crack dealer our kids have hiding in the couch cushions -- a pipe pedaling leprechaun with stains on his teeth and rancid fingernails.

The youngsters are restless tonight.

Lily faked throwing up to avoid doing homework, and -- forgetting how close to death she was -- did a gymnastics routine on the kitchen counter. Ashlyn punched her in the stomach and laughed as I chased her all over the house demanding she go in time out -- "Go sit on the stairs. NOW."

Jerod's voice is booming through the walls and floorboards, "Stop ... get down from there ... what the heck ... stupid dogs ... you're supposed to be sick ... Ashlyn Dever ... No ... that's it ... Ashlyn, go sit on the stairs."

It's the kind of night when mothers and fathers look at one another with sad, defeated eyes and ask, "Why did we do this to ourselves?"

The blanket that covers the hole in back of the couch is blessed with Ashlyn's art work as are the walls and the dogs and the carpet. Lily is practicing cartwheels off the banister.

I'm shut in the bathroom pretending to poop. It's the perfect excuse when your children are making you contemplate horrible things. No one wants to verify that you are in fact doing it, so they take your word for it, and you're safe from the monsters as long as you're sitting on the toilet.

"Lex, can you change Ashlyn's diaper?"

"Can't, I'm pooping."

"Lex, Bud (our cat) just puked on the floor. Can you clean it up?

"Can't, I'm pooping."




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