I'm calling in sick today

and am hoping to be able to type tomorrow without snotting on the keyboard.


The inevitable doom has come to pass . . .

I put it off as long as I could, but I knew that, once the third child arrived, it would be inevitable.

Tonight I got an 03 Dodge Grand Caravan with 62k miles on it for 9k. That's right, kid's--I'm a Minivan Mama. Her name is Pennyvan, the way Mel says it, so she'll likely go by Penny. She's silver with grey interior, has the bench in the middle and seats three in the back. Great a/c and rear air.No gizmos--no automatic doors (sniff) no keyless entry (sigh) and no DVD player (thank the Lord Jesus). Just a good, solid van with low mileage and NO PAYMENTS!

So I feel like things are looking up. As of yesterday, we all have health insurance. I was particularly glad about this when I went to look in on the kids while chopping up veggies for fajitas only to find Dixie giving Charlie the last of the almost-new bottle of Triaminic. According to Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) the amount wasn't too much for his 19 lb. body to process and, as long as there was no fever, tremors or aggressive behavior, he was likely fine and didn't need to go to the ER. He was completely, thoroughly decongested to boot.

So other than the 3rd attempt this week on Charlie's young life, things are looking up. I have a new cell phone to replace the lost one, a van to replace the wrecked car, good health insurance for everyone, a really lovely raise for Dowlan, and I can once again breathe out of both nostrils. My a/c and washer/dryer are working.

And I made some incredibly good pork chops for dinner.

I'd like to register a complaint

Melody: Dixie hit me back harder
Dowlan: So you hit your sister?
M: Yes, but I just hurt her a little bit. She hit me back hard. And two times.


The problem with the toy of your dreams . . .

. . . is that it ceases to exist the moment you awaken.

Melody came into our room this morning, frantic. She could not find the "little bit bigger, not a lot bigger, just a little bit Mermaid, Cinderella and Jasmin" that she had just bought while at the store with Mommy.

Mommy: But when we were at the store yesterday, all we bought were Charlie diapers.
Melody: Not THAT store--the one we went to later.
Mommy: But we didn't go to a store later.
Melody: Yes we did. We went to the biggest store ever and it had only princesses and I got to pick whatever I wanted to pick and I picked an Ariel, Jasmin and Princess that were just a little bit bigger and bring them home with me.
Mommy: I don't remember this.
Melody: They weren't a whole lot bigger--just a little bit bigger. And the Cinderella could fly. And I didn't have enough money, so you gave me extra money, so that I could buy the Meraid, Cinderella and Jasmin that were just a little bit bigger, but not a whole lot bigger.
Mommy: Are you sure this was real, are you sure it wasn't a dream?

And Melody bursts into tears. She proceeds to spend the rest of the morning in mourning over princesses lost.


Sick Clavicle

Yesterday, Melody quit ballet in a spectacularly disastrous fashion. Apparently, Dixie decided that she liked the results and attention that Melody got, and decided to try out her methods at gymnastics today.

Given the current prevalence of disease in our household, Dowlan took a sick day and stayed home today. 'Not working' in this particular instance involves being on the phone and/or laptop all day long, dealing with work-related issues, naturally. This did, however, allow me to not drag all three children along to gymnastics.

Dixie, with her boundless energy, is dressed and ready for gymnastics in under three minutes. She is in the van before I have even located pants. She is a girl ready to go. Until we actually arrive at gymnastics, that is. She meanders her way across the 10 foot wide sidewalk between the van and the door. She lollygags as she weaves through the chairs in the parents' waiting room. She stalls at the door. She pouts. The amount of effort being put into this dramatic scene of abandonment is exhausting even to watch. As soon as she is safely within the gym, I head to the grocery store for 42 minutes of childless shopping bliss.

I return with 3 minutes of class remaining. Another Mommy to a Gymnast tells me that Dixie has done basically nothing all class and inquires as to her health. (Lying,) I assure her that Dixie is spreading no germs in the gym, nary a one. She exhales Lysol and instead of saliva she produces Purell. I explain how Melody was recently very successful in ending her brief stint as Reluctant Ballerina and that Dixie is exploring her options. She grins, and nods that knowing nod of a mommy to a fellow dramatic preschooler.

Dixie exits the gym and approaches.
Mommy: Dixie Cat! I hear you didn't do much today.
Dixie: Pause. Sigh. Head drooping and shoulders slumping. I was feeling quite completely a little bit sick.
M, who is avoiding the raised eyebrow of the Other Mommy: Oh, really? I am so sorry to hear that. Where exactly do you feel sick.
Dixie points. Mommy does the 'see, I know what I am doing here' smirk to the Other Mommy, who is now choking back laughter.
M: Oh, Dixie. I am so sorry to hear about this. It is very serious indeed when a little girl is sick in her clavicle. I have never once felt so poorly in my life, as the time my clavicle fell ill.
Other Mommy is now doing that full-body silent laugh that brings on many tears and causes the entire body to shake and chortle. Dixie makes sounds of a girl trying to convince her mommy of the depth and gravity of the situation in her collarbone.
M: I guess it is a shame. Girls With Ill Clavicles can never, ever go to the park with their daddy and sister. I guess we will not meet them there after all. No, I guess we must go straight home and to nap.
D: Oh, but I am feeling so much more better now Mommy!
M: Really? Well, in that case, Mommy has ever so many errands to run. I guess since you aren't about to fall over just yet, you can join me on my errands.
D: But what about the park?
M: Oh, no. we could never risk the park in such a condition. But maybe next week, when you have shown me that you are fully recovered by dong your gymnastics, we can see about going then.

Tell me, who is the greatest?


Prince 'N Charmin/Contest Update

Dixie: Mommy, did you marry Daddy or Prince 'N Charmin
Mommy: Both
D: You married two husbands?
M: No, just the one. Daddy is my Prince Charming.
D: Oh. So, he married you and Cinderella?
M: Something like that.

Contest Update:
Dixie's bottom is clearly in the lead.
Charlie's nose would put a fire hose to shame.
Melody's tears are on their seventh bucket and managed to end her brief career as a Reluctant Ballerina in a spectacular fashion today.
Dowlan's nose is holding steady.
Mommy is losing--migraines produce no fluid.

Signs that the Cough Medicine is Working Way Too Well

The numbers on the vcr as it rewinds are very mesmerizing.

I had two read the word 'pleased' 5 or 6 times to know that it was an actual word.

The girls come up with the plans for today: to watch Bambi, then Cinderella, then Little Mermaid, then Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea, then Winnie the Pooh, then start over with Bambi again . . . and it actually sounds like a really good idea.

Dowlan drags Charlie's high chair into the living room to watch TV while he eats breakfast and that also seems like a good idea.

When Bambi's mother gets shot I think, mmm . . . venison stew would feel really good on my throat right now.

Dixie brings me the pedometer to ask what time it is, and I tell her that it is 29,604 without blinking.

I prop my body up on the couch with an intricate series of pillows so that a) the girls will think that I am awake and b) the mucous only has one direction to move.


Question from Melody:

Mommy, if I fart with my bottom, why do I have to say excuse me with my mouth?
(This was Nov. of 06, but I had to record it for 'posteriority's' sake)

There's Spaghetti On My Walls

I thought I was doing okay as the master of my homestead. With three children ages 1, 2, and 4, there is a lot to keep me busy. Yes, my sinuses are warring against me making it impossible to bend over and pick things off the ground. But between my robot vacuum, three short minions to (somewhat) do my bidding and the kicking method of cleaning--you know, where you kick it all to the middle of the rom, si do seta noffe taornalau aket, oceedto c i upfro hed t iy so yout

see what happens when i type too fast? The program can't keep up with me. Drives me batty.

back to the kicking method--you kick it all to a central location, then sit down and put it all in a higher location like on a table or bed or into a basket that you can carry around. I perfected this art during my second pregnancy, when by back hurt so badly and the little girl had so much garbage lying around that I had to pick up but all the chiropractic visits in the world (or at least all the ones covered by my HMO) still did not afford me the ability to bend.

Think I'm rambling now--this is Daytime cold medicine. Wait til I'm on the nighttime stuff!

Okay. Cleaning.

Nevermind. Just know that I thought I was doing really well keeping up with three kids and a household despite my throbbing sinuses. Then I saw the spaghetti on my walls. And I don't even remember the last time I made spaghetti.


The Contest

Apparently, a contest is emerging among the members of the S---- household. Our bodies are currently competing to see who can, pound for pound, create the most fluid.

Pardon the doubly bad pun, but it appears that my sinuses and Charlie's bottom are giving each other a, ahem, run for their money. Dixie's hacking cough has just begun. Although Dowlan and Melody seem unscathed, Melody is competing in a category all her own: tears.

Two nights ago, she threw a 45 minute tantrum over being told to come to the table for dinner. Yesterday it was over Aunt Emily asking her to get out of an infant carseat. Today's drama was twofold: being told that shoes were necessary for going to church and for Mommy's not-so-positive response to being told, "Yes, well I can do whatever I want."

Hm. Dowlan just began barking at me. I guess this is his way of letting me know of his intentions to win? Where did I put that other case of Kleenex--I think I am going to need it.


Why Dixie Loses at Hide-N-Seek

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
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post-game snack:

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and Melody isn't so hot at it herself:
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What has 8 arms and 8 legs?

8 pirates, of course!


White boys can't dance (especially mine)

(Random factoid pertinent to this tale: Dowlan is about 6'2" and I am about 5'3")


I love to dance. All kinds of dancing. Well, by 'all kinds' I mean real dancing, not that stupid drug-induced body twitching that happens in clubs that my friend Amanda swears is fun but I am not willing to try because that would involved extensive and repeated exposure to 'club music' (which carries the same disclaimer as 'club dancing').

Er, where was I? Yes, dancing. I danced ballet for 14 years, I can polka my heart out, stay off your toes two-steppin' and can at least moderately fake my way in a ballroom or through latin dances. And I love to swing. (No, not THAT kind of swinging--remember that we're talking about dancing!)

So back in the early days of dating Dowlan, I thought that I would teach him to swing. Part of this was because I missed dancing, but there was also a healthy dose of wanting-to-do-anything-other-than-watch-Jackie-Chan-movies involved.

I'd forgotten some key factors in selecting a partner: Dowlan is a white boy. He is Church of Christ. He is from Oklahoma. His degrees are in Engineering Physics and Bible.
He was a teenager in the 80's. Do any of these things scream 'good dancer' to you? Didn't think so.

So Dowlan had this roommate named Richard. If anyone is reading this knows Richard, they're thinking, "Oh, Richard. Richard. This is going to get good." As much as I hate to disappoint, the only role Richard plays in this tale is brief: Richard and Dowlan used to go to the YMCA and work out fairly often. He had done this the day before I gave Dowlan his second (and final) swing lesson. Although this seems trivial, I guarantee you that it is not.

So I am teaching Dowlan to swing. And he gets brave, stupidly brave, and attempts to swing me under his leg as he kicks over my head. Sadly, the foot of difference in our heights makes no difference to his sore muscles. Or to my head as his foot makes contact with it.

That's right: Oklahoma WASP nerd boy just kicked me in the head and knocked me to the ground. I have minor whiplash. I have to go to the doctor and then to the ER (which are absolutely hysterical tales in themselves, but will have to wait). I miss college finals that I have to reschedule because the vicodin is interfering with my studies.

How does this tale of yore relate to the focus of this blog--my children and their stories, you ask? Well, other than confirming that it was a miracle that we stayed intact (both physically and metaphorically) long enough to have lots'o'bebbies, it is the girls' favorite story to hear from our pre-child days.

After asking about it (yet again) this evening, Melody chanted the following:
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
"No more Dowlan to kick you in the head!"


Random bits

Charlie took nine consecutive steps across the kitchen floor this evening while the entire family watched, cheered and clapped. The fact that he did his first long string of steps for all of us made it really special. If he had done this a few months ago, I would be tying his toes together and pushing him down to get him to stop, but I guess that 13.5 months is as long as I can reasonably delay my Little Boof from growing up.

Charlie also learned motions and some singing bits to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" today. It is incredibly cute. If I ever find batteries and my camera on the same day and they both happen to be working (all big ifs) then I will get a video of this extreme cuteness for you all to enjoy.

I hate car shopping. Anyone have a car they want to give me? Because this isn't working.

Dixie: Mommy, what shape is this?
Mommy: What shape is what?
D: This!
M: You mean your carseat?
D: Yes, what shape is my carseat?
M: It is an irregular polygon.
D: Oh.

So I went to an in-home wine tasting last night. I guess Mary Kay and Pampered Chef aren't cool enough anymore. I, uh, enjoyed myself. A lot. They may never invite me back, but I thought I made the party exciting.

Since becoming a SAHM, I have also become a Coupon Fiend. Today I had $37 in coupons which meant our groceries for the week were only $39. I realize that you may not be entirely impressed, but I am thrilled.

Dixie has a bright future ahead of her as a tattoo artist, apparently. Fortunately her many works this week all washed off of Melody and Charlie.

And Melody is a Reluctant Ballerina. Grr. She adored the first two weeks of class, tolerated the next 3 weeks of class and flat refused to do anything on Wednesday. I am at a loss.

As for Dowlan--yeah, he's pretty much the same.


Argh, Ye Mateys!

I be wishin' to you the happiest of all International Talk Like a Pirate Days

So hoist ye mainsail, swab the poop deck and enjoy yer grog. This mornin' I dressed me rapscallions up in their finest piratey things and too them to the church building in our galleon. We hid and hunted treasure, read piratey stories, shared our costumes, saved princesses, told tales of the slippery mermaids and colored pirates with the other rascally children there.

The two pirate ships dueled all day and attacked the other toys. But, alas--all the booty we find had only the poopy diapers. Arrgh.

Remember--to err is human, to arr is pirate.


They really are sisters!

First of all, sorry to abandon you for an entire weekend. I have been trying to fix all the broken things in my life, and had some success. For example, right now I am doing laundry!!!!!!!! Turns out it wasn't the lightning that got the washer/dryer but a little wire had become disconnected. $81 dollars later, we're good to go.

Now to the real story of the day:
If any of you don't know this, we are adopting Dixie. She has been living with us since January 1st and we are still awaiting the ending of all the fun this legal circus has to offer. Melody has had to go through a lot of adjustments in her little life--she went from only child to big sister in August of '06 and became the middle child just five months later.

The girls adore each other. They love each other. They can't stand to be apart from each other. They also can't stand to be near each other and drive each other insane. Typical siblings, right?

Dixie latched on to Melody right away, but Melody has been keeping her distance for awhile. If she were articulate enough, I am certain that Mel would point out to you that this was not her idea. She was quite happy as an only child at home with daddy all day. The switch from that cozy lifestyle to a world of siblings and mom-at-home is NOT her first choice. Or second, or third. But she is adjusting remarkably well and every now and then I see a glimmer of hope.

Melody has many, many skills. Sleeping through the night in her bed by herself is NOT one of them. Every night, at some point, she wakes up and seeks a warm body to curl up next to. Usually, she hops in our bed and one of us ends up abandoning reclaiming the space we've lost to her wriggly 25-lb body and goes to sleep on the couch. Sometimes we haven't even made it to bed yet, so she ends up on the couch. And some nights she migrates from bed to couch to floor to bed and back. It is no wonder that this kid needs a 3 hour nap every day--her bedtime is spent in transit instead of in REM.

A few weeks ago, I was still *gasp* at the computer, long after the children were asleep and I heard Melody get up. Depending on what Dowlan is doing, this is often my cue for laying down so that she'll have someone to snuggle with. But then I didn't hear her leave the room. After a few minutes, I went to check on her. She had curled up next to Dixie on her toddler bed.

I can't begin to describe how that felt to see them that way. To know that Melody felt safe and warm and secure enough to seek Dixie out confirmed to me that hat we are doing is right. It confirmed that Melody is just as much Dixie's sister as she is Charlie's.

As beautiful as it was, it must have been insanely uncomfortable, because within ten minutes Melody went back to her own bed, abandoning her search entirely.

Tale #2:
Conversation in the van yesterday:

Melody: Dixie, I love you.
Dixie: I like you, too.
M: No, Dixie, I LOVE you.
D: I love you, too.
M: You're pretty AND beautiful.
D: I think you're fun and silly.

How cool is that?


Melody, Melody, Melody

Me: Of all the blue-eyed girls in the whole entire world, you are my favorite and my best.
Melody: You are not my favorite OR my best.
Me: I'm not your favorite? Or your best?
Melody: No.
Me: Then who is?
Melody: Buggie.
Me: Who?
Melody: The buggies.
Me: You like bugs more than your own mother?
Melody: Yes. Yes, I do.

Attention Stalkers and Internet Creeps:

My mother is worried about you lifting pictures of my kids and claiming them as your own. Let me warn you not to do this. You know why? Because no one will believe that kids this cute belong to you. How do I know this? Because they are so cute that no one believes that they are mine, either.


Also, my Public Service Announcement du jour:
Go, right now. This very second. And sprinkle ant killer, the really strong deadly poisonous stuff, not that hippie organic earth-friendly crap, on your air-conditioning unit.

The Official Cause-of-Death for our a/c unit? You got it--fire ants. They got into a couple of key parts and fried it. Fried themselves, too, but that small vengeance didn't soothe my check-writing hand one bit.

Spread it around. All around. To the point that you no longer have grass visible and are concerned about standing down-wind from this particular point in your yard. Any miserable lung diseases or cancerous growths you might acquire from this will be offset by the fact that you will have a nice cool house to lie in while you languish and die.


This Morning's Kid One Liners

Melody, referring to the the lump of dough:
Mama, why is there a meatball in my ice cream?

There is some kind of factory near our house. I have told the girls that it is the Cloud Factory. Every time we drive by, we look at the sky to see if it has been working hard or not. Today, Dixie asked:
Mama, what is the Cloud Factory's middle name?

Me: Melody! Why are you crying?
Melody: Dixie scared my heart.
Me: How did she do that?
Melody: She roared. Rooooaaaaaarrrrrr!

Dixie: When do we get Jenny (our car) back?
Me: Honey, we aren't. She was so smashed up that she couldn't be fixed.
Dixie: So we are going to keep this van forever?
Me: No, we're just renting it. We'll get a different car pretty soon.
Dixie: and then that one will stop working, so you'll get a new one and drive it, then that one will die, and you'll get another new one and another new one and another new one?
Melody: Gee, mommy, how many new cars do you really need?


Overheard at Bennigan's

from the booth next to us:

Airhead: So I have decided that black nail polish is perfect because it matches with everything.
Friend of Airhead: It does not! Not with everything.
A: It so does! Black matches everything. And it is great because you don't look all Gothic.
FoA: It does, too.
A: Nuh-huh! Black nail polish is NOT Gothic.
FoA: Well, have you tried painting your nails black to see if it matches?
A: No, I didn't have any black nail polish because I'm not a Goth.

So as shocked and appalled as I was to discover myself driving around to day in a (rental) minivan while listening to NPR and worrying about the washing machine repair man, I can say this for myself: Thank God I am no longer a teenager.

Guess what Dixie said tonight?

"Daddy, you need to obey Mommy. She is the mommy."

I am winning, aren't I?


Propaganda on my behalf

Melody has been a "Daddy's Girl" since, oh, about 14 minutes after she was born. Even in the hospital she slept snuggled up on his chest. Sure she would tolerate me for the time needed to nurse, but as soon as that belly had a thimbleful of milk in it--BAM--off to bearded pastures. If she had had any idea, in utero, of what father figure was in store for her, she would have been premature in her rush into Daddy's arms.

Then there was the onslaught of Daddy's Little Girl sleepers, burp cloths and bibs. Not to mention all the infant hours passed in the sling, snuggled up to daddy, staring at the goatee as Dowlan worked from the house for the first years of her life.

I get it, I really do. In her quest to be held 'up high,' Daddy has a foot on me. In her desire for more jumps/spins/twirls, Daddy has more stamina. Daddy's bedtime stories have cooler pirates and are more likely to repeated ad infinitum than Mommy's will ever be.
Mommy has rules. Heck, mommy enforces the rules. Mommy makes you eat vegetables. Mommy makes you go to bed. Mommy *gasp* makes you wear clothes. Got it, got it got it. Everyone likes Dowlan more. Even I like Dowlan more.

But the second I found out I was expecting Charlie, I bared my teeth and announced, "This One's Mine." Charlie is with me so far. His first word was (and most frequent word is) Mama. Followed by Boof, Poop, Bye, but never, ever, not even once have his precious baby lips uttered The D Word.

Once Dixie entered the picture, the scales tipped again in his favor. It took *maybe* eight minutes to figure out who to side with. I still don't know that she really trusts me, but her Love for Daddy is pure, complete, whole and unending.

While it is fun to be a WONG (Wife Of Nice Guy) it does get a little old. Heck, I may have Charlie on my side now, but he is also a baby. Those babies are incredibly fickle creatures, you know, so I can't say that I can bank on this lasting.

This is why I have begun the campaign. The Onslaught of Mommy Propaganda (OMP) has begun. It began with matching shirts for the girls that say I (heart) MOM on them. This was a good start, but they soon clearly showed a preference for their Daddy-related gear. Charlie also has a whole series of "I love mommy" but, considering that he cannot read, pick his clothing, dress himself or even use the remote control properly, it isn't enough.

Phase II of OMP was the introduction of a phrase oft-heard in our home: Mommy Thinks of Everything. An example from this weekend's road trip:
D: Hey, did you remember to pack bibs for Charlie?
G: Yup.
D: Oops! I didn't grab my MP3 Player.
G: Oh, I got it. And do you know why?
D: Because Mommy thinks of everything?
G: You got it.
D: Hey, mommy-who-thinks-of-everything: Why is one of our carseats empty back there. Don't we have three kids now?
G: Refer to the codicil.

The codicil to the rule is that 'there is only one mommy.' Can I really be expected to remember everything, especially such insignificant details?

OMP, Phase III--I once told the girls:
Girls, I am tired of hearing you say 'thank you.' From now on, I want you to say, 'Mommy, you're the Greatest.'
This plan worked for a really long time, until they decided in their infinite post-toddler wisdom that I needed to share The Greatest. At first, when I only had to share with Santa Claus, I figured that was tolerable. After all, he really only comes around once a year, and who wouldn't share with Santa? Now that I am sharing The Greatest with Santa, Daddy, Grandma, Oma, Aunt Jackee and *ahem* God, I substantially less special.

So I am off to plot Phase IV. I *will* win.



We went on a trip to go see the Grandmothers and Papa this weekend, because Dixie needed to go see the dentist and pediatrician for general 4-year-old checkups. After learning of Dixie's 3 cavities on those pesky hard-to-brush back molars, we came home to find our house a charming 94 degrees. So I called around to my friends to see who had fans available for the borrowing.

On my way to Christine's, I came to the top of a hill to discover a car waiting to turn. He was stopped. I was not. Fill in the rest with your imagination.

My neck, shoulder, back and head are aching and sore. My knee also has a large, unsightly bruise from hitting the steering wheel. Fortunately, no children were in the car. Unfortunately, my Sweet Jenny (97 Dodge Intrepid) is in the vehicular version of the ICU and unlikely to muster a recovery.

I loved that car.

So if you don't see me around much lately, it is because I am on the phone trying to get the following household items fixed: washer, dryer, computer, DVR (think TIVO), TV, phone, air conditioner and, now, car. With three very small children in tow.


To tide you over in my (likely) absence is the following conversation held in the one-seater convenience store restroom in Goldthwaite, TX.

Mommy: Hurry up, Dixie. Mommy needs to pee-pee, too.
Dixie: But I have to check my bottom for poop to see if I need to poop.
Mommy: Okay, but hurry, I need to pee-pee.
Melody: Why do you need to pee-pee, mommy?
Mommy: Because my pee-pee is saying, "Hurry, quick! Let me out! I need to be free!"
Melody: You do know, mommy, that your pee-pee can't really talk, right?


Distance Blogging

We're visiting grandmas' for the weekend, but I had to hop on with this conversation:

Mommy: Okay, girls. That train has two engines. If it stops at the station and gets two more engines put on, how many engines will it have?
Melody: More.

While right in spirit, I don't think her future algebra teacher will appreciate that kind of answer.


Oh, and nothing says FUN like spending four hours in the car with three small, loud children. You end up having a lot of conversations like this:

Girl: I'm ready to be at Oma's house NOW.
Parent: Me, too! We just have 1 hour to go.
Girl: How long is that?
Parent: 60 minutes.
Girl: 1-2-3-4-5-6. There! We're at Oma's!
Parent: Yeah. Just do that about six thousand times and . . . no, wait. DON'T do that six thousand times. Hey look! Sweetie, do you see that cow?
Girl: Yes. What is it's name?
Parent: Bessie.
Girl: But you said the last cow was named Bessie!
Parent: They're all named Bessie. This one is Bessie, that one is Bessie. Even the boys are Bessie.
Girl: But Whhhhhhhhhh-yyyyy?
Parent: Cow mommies are notoriously un-creative when naming their baby cows.
Girl: It isn't a baby cow, mom, it's called a calf.
Parent: That's right. What is a baby goat called?
Girl: Bessie.


Ooh! Ooh! Look at me!

I have a story to tell, but before we get to that, you need to all see my new cute haircut before I go to bed, because it will never again look as good as how the stylist did it. I wish I could keep her in a drawer in my bathroom just so I could look this good every day.
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The official reviews from my family:
"That looks pretty and curly. It is too silly for a mommy to have pretty, curly hair." ~Dixie
"Look! See mommy's hair-new? She wouldn't let us pick up the pieces off the floor that the cutter lady dropped and glue them to charlies head so he wouldnt be bald because that might itch and and look silly." ~Melody
"Huh? Why are you shaking your head in my face?" ~Dowlan
"Boof." ~Charlie

I have nothing to report, except to brag

I have achieved the perfect home today. It is clean. Even the toilets, dishes and floors. The inside of the refrigerator is clean. The toys are put away. Even the girls' beds are made. And did I mention that the girls are now napping happily atop their covers?

Charlie's room is also clean, and he is also asleep.

The bills are all paid, the trash is taken out, I've been to the bank, I got a (cute) haircut today. I played silly games with Melody Anne while Dixie was at school. I wasn't even late getting Dixie to school. Everyone has eaten two nutritious, homemade, balanced meals today and a third is now cooking.

I think God puts moments like this in my life to remind me that I truly am a competent individual, and am capable of keeping order in the chaos of life at home with children ages 1, 3 and 4. I can think of no more peaceful feeling than sitting in my home right now.

However, in a minute, it will happen. Someone will wake up. The peace will not last. But while it is lovely when all is calm, well and quiet in the house, when the children wake up, it is like the sun begins to shine again.

Is it silly to miss them when they're only asleep a few feet away?


All the talk of 80s fashion and fire reminded me of a story from my childhood.

Remember 80's bangs? Remember the volume of Aqua~Net it took to get one's hair up to said, er, volume? And hairspray is exceedingly flammable, right?

So I will tell you this story as I confessed it to my mother: backwards.

I am sitting on my mom's bed with my hair still damp in a towel at the ripe old age of 10. Mom is ironing and I am trying to figure out how to confess to her my actions and get the most optimal result using my carefully balanced formula to increase the 'comic relief' side of the ratio and minimize the 'trouble' side. Telling a story backwards often has admirable results.

Gretchen: I stuck my head in the toilet.
Mom: (pause) Why?
G: Because my head was on fire.

See, in my parents house, which was built in the 1910s, there is no central heating, just floor furnaces, fire places, and open-flame heaters. It also still had the plumbing from that era, so you could turn on the water at full-force, go watch a 30 minute TV program, then return to about 6 inches of water in the tub--enough to almost wet your entire leg at the same time. Trust me, you'll need this information later.

As the water was running for me to take a bath, i squatted to light the heater. I lit the match and turned on the gas, but as I brought the match to the stove to light it, the flame went out and it took me a little while to fumble through the process of lighting a new match.

WHOOSH. Did I mention the flammability of Aqua~Net?

I was crouching there with my head aflame and started to head towards the bathtub, then I remembered that the water had only been running for 10 minutes and I didn't trust the four ounces pathetically puddled at the bottom to be sufficient after I'd headed across the room quickly and air had fueled the flames, enhanced the Aqua~Net. The sink had similar problems because it relied on the same plumbing. Where could I find a source of water, already pooled?

I was a mere 18 inches from the toilet. So I stuck my head inside of it. Gross, maybe, but I still had most of my hair to show for it. Have I mentioned what a stellar housekeeper my mother is?


A boy could want no sweeter sister.

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Some other sweet Charlie shots:

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Remember Dixie wanting to take a picture of the meal so we could eat it?
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Aren't my meals prettier than daddy's?
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My Husband, the Fashion . . . errrr . . . Queen

Way back in the day, when I found myself in the office of dear friend and campus minister Brian *r to discuss my burning desire to marry Dowlan (whom I was not even dating at this point) I was met with a very unexpected response. I didn't hear, "Yes, I think you would be wonderful together." Nor did I hear, "No! Wow. That would be a disastrous coupling."

I heard, instead, "Dowlan needs a wife--if for no other reason than to have someone tell him, 'No, honey, you can't possibly wear that in public.' "

With that promising start, my quest to become Mrs. Dowlan began.

As a new bride, I considered it part of my calling from God to weed through the clothing that arrived with the rest of his belongings and 'separate the sheep from the goats,' so to speak. For those of you wondering why the wool v. mohair was of such grave concern, please know that it is a Biblical reference that basically means to sort through the masses and get rid of the crap. And I did. With vigor.

Among things exorcised from our home were underwear you could read a paper through (but I just got them broken in!), t-shirts with collars, cuffs and hems so worn that they were now separate pieces of fabric held together at the seams instead of one piece rolled and tacked (but I like that shirt!), and a pair of coral-colored pants (they were salmon!) with a matching shirt so heinous that therapy was required for the PTSD that viewing it caused (see, it matches!).

I also did crazy things like not make room in our closet and dressers for all 200 pairs of socks and underwear whose compilation was a result of the desire to do laundry only semi-annually. I did crazy things like limit him to 14 pairs of underwear, 10 of light socks and 10 of dark, then throw the rest in the top of the closet to 'save for later.' I also developed this bizarre policy that laundry in our household was to be done on a weekly basis (which became daily once the third child arrived.)

Despite my heroic and valiant efforts I have miserably failed in this quest. I realized that when we had this conversation:

Dowlan: (kiss) I'm off to the hardware store, honey.
Gretchen: Honey, you forgot to put on pants. Are you that sleep deprived?
D: Those are my jams.
G: Jams? Jams? How the h*$% did I miss those?
D: Yeah, my jams. Do you remember jams?
G: Yes. I was wearing them the day the Challenger Exploded. When I was in the second grade. In 1986.
D: Yeah, those. He heads for the door.
G: Honey, you can't possibly wear that in public.

Brian *r was right.


Wow. Fire IS bad.

Last night, on a message board, I posed the question, "Would it be THAT bad to take the batteries out of my smoke alarm to put them in my bathroom scale? I am all out of 9-volts. How often does one really need smoke detected, anyhow?"

The answer came to me today in a blazing orange vision.

I was preparing dinner and talking to my friend Janis about what all I need to bring to the brunch for Ladies' Bible Class tomorrow when I looked over and wondered, 'Why is my refrigerator door flashing orange lights at me?' Trying to think of anything electronic that would provide such a glow, I walked over to discover our trashcan on fire.

"Oh, my God! My house is on fire! Bye!" I said as i dropped the phone. I picked up the trashcan and sat it in the middle of the kitchen. I tried to think of what i could collect water in to put it out that wouldn't be slower than the rate of the fire's growth. I realized that this would be better taken care of outside on the water-soaked lawn and carried the burning trashcan through the living room, out the door, down the steps, across the driveway, through the lawn to the garden hose and began spraying. As I felt a moment of relief, I then realized that my kitchen could be in flames as I stood there on the lawn, contemplating my garbage.

I ran inside and was thrilled to discover no orange glow in the rest of my kitchen. Which left me to wander around and wonder how this thing got started. The best I can figure out is that I must have picked up some piece of paper when I grabbed the can of mushrooms to dump into the skillet. It touched the burner, caught fire, then i turned around and dropped it all in the can.

I have never been more thankful for the contents of a garbage can. I am typically loathe to 'Do Dowlan's Job For Him' and take it out, and instead view the can as a sort of Jenga Expansion Pack. Fortunately, this day I had cleaned out the refrigerator, so the can contained empty green bean cans and a head of wilted lettuce, a sad apple and some baby carrots who had decided to turn to the dark side--nothing overly flammable.

I also called Janis back rather quickly, before the fire department arrived.

I was fortunate to not have just dumped the mushrooms in and then come to sit at the computer or go into the girls' room to put laundry away. The fact that I had lost in plain sight the can of soup that was my next ingredient was God's way of keeping me close to the kitchen and my eyes alert.

I was also quite grateful that my three precious children were all on a walk with daddy and not attached to me in various ways as they typically are when I am cooking.

I did come to the conclusion, however, that the smoke alarm is a very stupid thing. Not even a blip. So I guess it doesn't need its batteries after all.


So, the downside of the bento lunch obsession

Daddy made supper tonight. A very ordinary supper. Healthy, balanced, and just carelessly slopped onto plates before serving. When I tell Dixie that it is time to eat she tells me, 'but we have to take a picture of it first.'


I was just reminded of another Dixie story, one from a few months back.

Dixie is trouble in a bathroom. All those tubes and bottles of things, the thrill of privacy, the allure of the toilet and sink--you can't let her alone for a minute. She used to love to suck on tubes of toothpaste until the day I quietly replaced the toothpaste tube with a tube of diaper rash ointment and she was suddenly more careful about what she put in her mouth. For a girl who can whine for 4 hours about picking up 10 dollies and putting them in a box, she seems to have no problem with washing the lid of the toilet and the countertop with hand soap. Maybe her need for experiencing texture isn't being met?

So one day I realize that she has been in the bathroom without making any bathroom-related sounds for more than her allowed 45 seconds. I call to her, "Dixie, what are you doing in there?"

"Oh, mom," she comes out and tells me. "I was just looking at my gorgeous face in the mirror."

Car Talk

Melody: When we get home, I want to take a baff.
Mommy: You don't need a bath. When we get home, we're going to take a nap.
Melody: I'm allllllllll sweaty. I need a baff.
Mommy: You aren't sweaty. But if you really want a bath, you can take it after your little nap.
Melody: But I am sweaty. I am sweaty in my heart.