Where have you been, Gretchen?

2 loads of dishes
5 loads of laundry
cooking dinner
baking cookies
packing boxes for a church project
cleaning the bathrooms
mopping the floors
cleaning out the cabinet i opened yesterday and had to duck from the ensuing avalanche
unearthing my counters from the piles of whatever that is
waiting for my husband to come home

and packing so that tomorrow i can experience the joys of three kids with diarrhea on a 250 mile road trip . . . . and Dixie just started throwing up.

The kids have had 'squishy poop' for days now. In fact, Melody was already pooping when Dixie ran in to go and couldn't make it to the other bathroom so she pooped, get this, in the trash can. I would have chalked it up to ingenuity and quick thinking and declared that it was proof positive of Annie's Treatise on Scatalogical Urgency ("When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.") if she hadn't enjoyed how completely horrified and traumatized that her sister was by this act.


I sleep with a small piece of velcro in my bed

I swear it is not there when I get in at night. But inevitably, at some point, I awaken and there it is. Clinging to me. I am never sure where it will pop up--at my head, my feet, between my knees, under my back. It wraps it's little talon-like things around me, digs in and attaches. Every time I move, it comes even closer. Many nights I can hardly sleep because I wake up every time it moves between my body and that of my husbands. Some nights it brings a sister velcro along.

Each night, before bed, I swear I read it a story, give it a hug and kiss and tuck it into its own bed. This doesn't seem to matter, though, as it is not content to stay there. Some invisible noise or silent vision startles it awake, signaling mommy-seeking behavior. Yet it hunts me down.

It would not be so bad were it content to just stay close to me. But every time I wiggle, it wriggles in closer and if I get on my knees and hands a bit to try to change positions or move to a different spots, the suction power of its tentacles pulls it underneath me and then I really am stuck with no place to sleep. Especially on nights when the velcro, her sister, myself, my husband and a variety of household pets are all sharing the same full-sized bed. I am just glad that the smallest piece cannot yet climb out of its crib or open the door.

And now that winter-ish weather has presented itself, those little clingers are COLD and shock me awake with their warmth-seeking behavior.

So I retreat. I retreat to the couch before I am found. One time, I even went to the guest room/dump and cleared a spot. I have briefly considered discovering if I can sleep in a Velcro-sized bed because I am confident that that would be the one place it didn't try to find me.


things to tell you about tomorrow:

Eecky, Becky, Shrecky and Trekkie
I sleep with a small piece of velcro in my bed.
Where Dixie pooped last

sorry for the cliff hangers. but it is 12:10 a.m.


Things I overheard in the car today

Dixie: Melody, do you know why Daddy is going to be Scarecrow for Halloween?
Melody: Why?
Dixie: Because he doesn't have a brain!

(On our way to a party, in costume, with James in the car)
Melody: James, Mommy is Ursula. She is a witch. That i why she has to have a nipple on her face.
James: Aunt Gretchen, why do witches have nipples on their faces?
Gretchen: It is a mole.
Dixie: No it iiiiisssssssn't. It's a Niiiippppllleeeee.
James: But why do you have one on your face?
Gretchen: To be ugly enough to scare small children. Is it working?


We went to three Halloween parties today. We went to one yesterday and have one tomorrow.

Disaster struck between parties one and two today. I left Dowlan with two sleeping children and one groggy child. I went to Hobby Lobby to get raffia for his costume. Dixie, my particularly creative and destructive child gave herself her third haircut today. On the first two, she didn't have time to do much damage because Mommy is well aware of the fact that Quiet + Dixie = Trouble, or Q+D=T. Daddy is not as suave to this. In the ten minutes I had to spare while attempting to dress us all and finish Dowlan's scarecrow get-up, I did my best to even up her haircut. It is very cute, very boyish, and makes me want to cry every time I see it.

It was particularly fun at our church party because I had at least ten Ariels to chase after and shriek with laughter as I mocked them and claimed to have stolen their voice. One little girl in particular had fun screeching every single time she saw me.

I can tell that we have finally gotten cozy here because I actually knew enough people to have a good time seeing their kids dressed up and playing with my kids.


Dixie: Mommy, my eyes are crying and watering just a little bit and I don't know why.
Melody: Is it because mommy is so ugly she scared you just a little bit?
Dixie: Yes, that must be it.
Daddy: Is it Mommy that is scary-ugly or Ursula that scares you because she's so ugly.
Dixie: Mommy-Ursula.

The first time I put on my costume and put the seashell necklace around my neck, the girls started ripping at my tentacles to steal back 'Ariel's Voice.'

Speaking of tentacles:

Melody: Mommy, why do you need so many tendigls?
Dixie: Oh, Mommy! Silly Melody is little and can't talk. She called your Tegnackles tendigls! Melody, can you say Teg-nack-les?



The Ariel's Married Dress is complete.

Dixie's Dorothy only needs sleeves.

Charlie's Sebastian the crab arrived in the mail.

Mommy's Ursula costume . . . at least I've purchased the components.

And Daddy's Scarecrow costume can stuff it.


Ms. Melody

Something the kids were doing this morning reminded me of this one.

Melody had never cared that the TV was on or off until she was 22 months old and had strep so badly that she couldn't do anything but sit up on the couch and watch cartoons. Fortunately, we'd just gotten a DVR (think TIVO) and had a few episodes of JoJo's Circus and Charlie and Lola captured.

For those of you who have not yet seen JoJo's Circus, it is about a young clown girl named JoJo who is in a clown family and attends clown school. The show is done in claymation and is stinkin' adorable. She learns a lesson every day and everything has a circus twist. For instance, in their garden they grow squirting flowers and her kite is a giggle kite that needs not wind but laughter in order to soar.

So spending about 48 straight hours watching television hooks her for life and it is months before we can convince her that this is not the normal way that she should live. Even though the access is far more limited than it was that weekend, JoJo and Charlie and Lola remain her favorite programs to this day.

So last summer, Melody wanted to play Teacher. But she doesn't read a book or point out things on a board and ask questions. Nope, she stands up and says, "Boys and Girls! Boys and Girls! Put your bunny ears on and hop! Hop! Hop!" Which is exactly How Mrs. Kersplatski does it on Jojo. Except it takes us weeks to figure this out.

Don't you wish your teachers had only expected that from you?


A Name Change.

I was up most of the night with Diarrhea Boy, as he has now been officially renamed. We're just awaiting the new birth certificate, really. Diarrhea Boy likes being held in a certain upright position these days. And nights.

So I was the lucky girl who got to hold him upright over my left shoulder and pat him on the back with my right hand from 3:00 a.m. to around 7:00. My neck and shoulders are in absolute agony.

To help matters, fall arrived with our first cold snap night before last. Cold=Pain. And everyone is grumpy. At one point this afternoon, Melody was crying loudly because she didn't want to be up from her nap and was equally not a fan of the prospect of going to sleep. Dixie was squalling because she was upset that Melody didn't want to play. And Charlie was crying . . . I dunno. Sympathy? Fear? Surprise at his crying sisters? Because he just realized that he'd been renamed Diarrhea Boy? There are so many possibilities.

Charlie, I mean Diarrhea Boy, did learn his first phrase today. He was helping me pat Melody on the back and say "There, There." This is Dowlan's official solution to all uncontrolled female emotions. And that DB is so smart that he even translated it into German before repeating it: Da, da!

Whoever said I only adopted Dixie for the Blog material she provides

may have been on to something.

I was parked on the street last night, so the first thing I did on the way to school this morning was made a U-turn at the wide spot about half a block down the street. Dixie shouts out: "That was a safety violation!"

Kid, I love you. And you're brilliant. But if you have to cube your age before you're old enough to drive, I am NOT taking advice from you.

It reminds me of Melody at about 2 years old. She would point from the backseat and demand to go 'tat way!' The fact that I had no idea which way she was pointing was immaterial--I was not letting someone under three feet tall navigate. She would get so incredibly upset if I did not comply. I would try to explain to her that we aren't going that way because it wouldn't get us where we wanted to be, but this did no good.

It did amaze me though. Within about 2 months of starting this, she got very good at telling me the right way to go to church, Daddy's work and Shelly's (Shelley was the baby-sitter at the time. And did you catch the way in which I cleverly spelled her name with one E the first time and one E the second time so that, if she happens upon this, it isn't completely evident that I still don't know how to spell her name despite having known her a decade because I can point to one of the spellings and say "See, I knew it. I just had a typo.")

Back to Driving Miss Dixie . . .

In the van each morning, we talk about what day it is, what the next day will be, what yesterday was, what the season and month are and what the plans entail for that day. Today's conversation went something like this:
Mommy: What day is today?
Girls: Uhhh . . . . Friday? Yes! Friday!
M: It isn't Friday, it's Tuesday.
Angry Dixie: Nuh-uh! It can't be Tuesday because we had one of those last week!
M: Yes, we had one last week. And we have one today and we'll have next week. We have a Tuesday every week.
Angry Dixie: Harumph.

Oh wait! There's more!

Dixie: Mommy, you make me crazy! You are one crazy girl! (Turning to Daddy) Daddy, your wife makes me craaaaaa-zeeee!
Mommy: No, Dixie. I didn't put jelly on your sandwich this time, either.
Dixie: You didn't??? Oh. Well, you're still crazy.


Oh, Dixie. Dixie, Dixie, Dixie . . .

Mommy: What do you want to eat?
Dixie: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Mommy: Okay.
D: But I just want the peanut butter. No jelly.
M: So you want a peanut butter sandwich?
D: No, I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but just peanut butter. No jelly.



Dixie, in the car on the way to church yesterday:
I wish I could just reach into the TV and pick up Piglet and take him out and squeeze him and play with him because he's so little and would be so much fun.


Mommy: Dixie, hurry, hurry! Come get in the van!
Dixie, plodding along at a snail's pace: I am hurrying! I am just hurrying a little slower than you're hurrying! My legs are so little and short and can't go fast at all!
(Yeah. Except when you're in trouble and running away.)


Dixie is also obsessed with the idea of spankings. I really can't remember the last spanking that was issued around here and I promise that it isn't because they are so common place that they happen hourly and don't stand out in memory.

A few days ago my hand was sore from cutting out fabric for the Halloween costumes. Dixie asks, "Is your hand sore from giving soooo many spankings?"

And then yesterday, she had broken a toy and hidden it in the trash because she was mad about being told to put it away. I made her dig it out and tell me the truth, and then asked what she felt like her punishment should be. "Yucky hard spankings. One hundred of them. And then you should send me to my room and lock me in in time out and make me stay there for one hundred years until I die."

This girl has some imagination, no?


If You Ever Hear Me Say

"Hey, let's just have this birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese"

then, please, shoot me. I am only happy to report right now that we have lived through the day.

There should never be that many children wandering around losing tickets and shoving coins into games they don't know how to play while being harassed by a giant rat. Charlie's face had a disturbing glazed-over look from all the visual stimulation and there was a never ending serious of whining, screaming kids being dragged through the door.


I think it was last summer during my 2 months of bedrest that Dowlan first introduced the concept of Hide-N-Seek to Melody. She was a great hider, and being a tiny twenty-one pounds really helped. She could squeeze into tiny spots and, after the first few games, got pretty good at not always hiding in the same spot. However, she thought the game so exciting that her entire body would shiver in anticipation of being found and if Daddy took too long she couldn't stand it. It went something like this:

Daddy: Where's Melody? Is she in the couch cushions?
Melody, not realizing that this did not contribute to the spirit of the game, in this tiny little voice, answers: No.
D: Is she under Mommy's foot?
M: No.
D: Is she under Mommy's other foot?
M: No! I'm right here!

And Melody would hop out and Daddy would chase her down. Often, Melody would hide with me and would tremble as she said, "Ooh! Scawy, scawy!"

What was even more hysterical to witness was Daddy's turn to hide. Melody, being quite small, could only count to 2. So she would put her hands over her eyes without warning, rapidly say, "OneTwoOneTwo" and take off. Dowlan would leap and bound into a hiding spot. The entire house would shake. Melody never had trouble finding him, as she would just follow the noise. I would be laughing so hard that it is a wonder that Charlie wasn't born sooner.

Hide-N-Seek has actually regressed in quality since Dixie came around. She always hides in the same spot:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And, although I don't have any pictures of this, Melody's hiding has gone downhill as well. It isn't helped by the fact that often Melody will hide and then Dixie will come stand next to her and talk to her.

We may have some redemption in our family game: Charlie has learned to play. Dowlan will sit cross-legged on the floor and say, "Hide, Charlie! Hide!" and the little guy will crawl off and round a corner and sit, waiting to be found


And Melody Saves the Day

I have something to post!

I am making dinner and Melody is playing with the all-time standard favorite toy of little girls world-wide: the pirate ship. The gist of her imaginary play is this--the baby calf (a true pirate standard) is eating the pirates. At first I thought it was the other way around, but I was corrected promptly by Melody. The Carnivorous Calf is eating the perishing pirates because his Mommy and Daddy went on a date and aren't there to stop him.

Better yet, his Oma has been left in charge, but won't tell him to stop that because she thinks it is soooo cute to see baby calf eat the mean old pirates.

The pressure in my sinuses

has caused them to expand into my brain. They are crushing the funny parts. So I have nothing for you. Sorry, sportsfans.


Sometimes I just don't know how to answer . . .

I am making dinner. I find a bag of grapes in the bottom of the crisper. They are not, shall we say, a recent purchase. However, they look as if they might have some redeeming qualities.

Dixie: Mommy, are those grapes?
Mommy: Yes they are.
D: What are you doing with them?
M: Oh, I'm just going through them to see which ones are good and which ones need to be thrown away.
D: Like grown-ups do with children sometimes?

I already know that I am going to regret teaching them this.

My only hope is that the policeman who comes to our door as a direct result has small children and is an understanding soul.

I recently heard tale of a three-year-old whose mommy was experiencing a seizure, stroke, aneurysm, something. This child knew to call 911 and tell the operator that Mommy's sick. Help was on it's way and all ended well.

So in the van on the way home from gymnastics, we learned about the emergency number. Each girl said it around fourteen times. I also made sure that they remembered our address and city. It was all good.

Until we delved into a specific definition of emergency. I told them that a good time to call would be if something were on fire, or if Mommy or Daddy were very sick and so sick that we couldn't talk to them or be woken up. I then asked for examples of an emergency and got the following:

* When you reallllllllly have to pee-pee.
* When your dog explodes on fire. (We don't have a dog.)
* When your sister is hurt really badly from doing a dangerous thing.

By the third one, I felt like they might have possibly caught on. Until the girls are going up the steps to the house and melody gets an idea. She hops down the stairs on one foot saying, 'Look, I'm doing a dangerous thing!' to which Dixie responds 'Mommy, where's the phone?'

My Dearest Melody,

You are now 3.5 years old. You have been going to sleep at least twice a day for that entire time. In a very short lifetime, you have fallen asleep thousands of times.

Do you think that, with all this practice, you might could possibly learn how to do it without screaming, begging, sobbing and drama every single time? Or is it still a surprise each day and each night that sleep is expected of you?


More advice from Dixie

"Mommy, do not drive into the gym. You will hurt the van and the gym and then people won't be able to go there to exercise and they will all be so sad."

This reminds me of the day this summer that the kids and I were at the pool for playgroup. A sudden storm blows in. The temp drops, the wind is strong and it starts to rain. Everyone jumps out and is getting dressed. It naturally takes us forever to get dried, dressed, a bottle for Charlie, and to the car.

The girls are taking their sweet time getting into their car seats and their straps around them. I tell them to hurry, because I am still getting rained on. Dixie tells me, "Mommy, hurry, hurry, don't get wet because then you'll melt and die and I will have to drive us all home and I am not a very good driver and I will hit the other cars with our car and everyone will be so sad."

This is the most logical sequence of events to come out me getting rained on, right?

So I am telling this story to my good friend Brendan (Hi, Brendan!) who wants to know where she got the idea of me melting. I assumed that it came from the Wizard of Oz, because she loves that movie.

Brendan looks at me and says, "So, does that make you the Wicked Witch? What exactly was Dixie trying to say about you there?"


Dixie Just Announced

that she wants to be Lucifer.

I was quite concerned, until I remembered that Lucifer is the cat in Cinderella.



Melody tells it how it is

I love the stage the girls are in now. They're trying to understand all the 'rules' of society and how things work. Melody just told me, "You have to share with people, or people don't want to share with you. People don't like people who don't share. And if someone else doesn't share with me, I won't share with them, except maybe if I share with them they will learn to be nice and will want to share with me so I WILL share with them."

See what I mean? She's trying to figure out the way things work.

A couple of months ago, she got on the subject of pottying. After a lengthy explanation of big potties and little potties and which people should use which potties, she then delved wholeheartedly into the subject of urine itself with this little gem:

"Grown ups pee-pee. Little girls potty. I am a Princess. I tinkle, which is like pee-pee, only magic."



For those of you considering having large numbers of small children:

I did eight loads of laundry today and mopped the kitchen floor 3 times that I can remember. This is only slightly above average.


I had to come back and add to this post, because it got me thinking about the 'How many kids are you guys going to have' question. See, I get this question a lot. I don't know if it is that everyone of child-bearing age is constantly peppered with it, or just that we have managed to acquire so many children in such a short time that people wonder if we will ever actually stop.

I used to answer that I can't have anymore kids because my car is full. Then I had a dream the night before I bought Penny Mackineroni Girl that the very act of purchasing a seven-seat minivan caused me to become spontaneously and instantaneously pregnant with twins.

So now I stick to a safer answer: we already have three fish, three cats, three children and two grown-ups. If we're adding anything to this household, it will be another grown-up.

As it is, the pressure of keeping 11 creatures alive, healthy, fed, clothed, maintained, cleaned-up-after and at the right place in the right time can be fairly exhausting. When you add to that job list the fact that I am not only responsible for their physical bodies, but also feeding, nourishing and guiding their souls, it can be daunting.

Not as daunting, however as the reality that somehow the job title of Mommy includes the need to know the exact location of every possession of all eleven members of the household at any given time, as well as said object's status of clean, dirty, broken, fixed or irreparably harmed. Add to that mix the insane quantity of nearly-identical items that are accrued by two girls so very close in age and it is amazing that I have room left in my head at all.

For instance, laundry. I know, by sight, which shirt, pants, shorts, socks and panties belong to which girl. I know which drawer they belong in, what they match with, and I can often still recite to you either where I bought them and how much they cost or the name of the giver and the gifting occasion. While I find this to be rather spectacular a feat, no one ever seems impressed.

I know that the blue puppy is Dixie's while the pink is Melody's, that they were purchased at Walgreen's at Easter time by Granny, but that there were so many other gifts that they were sent home in a silver gift bag to be distributed later. They sat on my sewing machine table for three months, and were gifted by the Sleep Fairy to the girls. They are both named Tumble-bumble, Roly-Poly, Pell-Mell To The Bottom Of The Hill and Dixie's is missing it's blue ribbon with the white polka-dots because she was upset at nap time one day in September and tore it off in her dramatic upset. I also know that the ribbon is in a pink basket behind the printer, where it has been for several weeks, because I keep forgetting to put it back until Dixie has gone to bed, at which time RPTBPMTTBOTH is safely tucked under her arm for the duration of the slumber.

See, only the fellow mothers are impressed with this. Am I right?

So it all boils down to the real reason that I can't have any more kids: my brain is full.

*sniff* What a big boy

So you may have noticed that Charlie does not get mentioned all that much around here. That is mainly because he, well, doesn't really say much. Mamma, Boof and Da are all cute, yes, but lack some of the witty flair that my readers have grown accustomed to.

I spent a good deal of this evening packing away his clothing that he is rapidly outgrowing and getting out the next bigger size. Yes, it is rather laughable to think that I just put away the 6-9 month clothes and dug around for the 9-12s when you think about Charlie being 14.5 months old. But it still makes mommy a little teary and sentimental.

Especially because it seems like I am putting away baby clothes and getting out big boy clothes. These clothes don't have little embroidered and appliqu├ęd puppies and bears. They do not have snaps running from neck to toe. They are not soft and fuzzy. These are the things I put away and have replaced with khakis, Hawaiian shirts and shirts that are either striped, solid or printed with bugs.

It was also a little funny to be getting out hoodies and blanket sleepers in my house with the a/c running and still not stopping the sweat from dripping. I don't know if other people feel this way, but when I am wearing shorts and a tank top, I find it hard to imagine that winter will ever actually come again.

As for Charlie, he decided today to put his foot in firmly with the walking people camp. He has been able to take steps since August, but hasn't really seemed all that impressed with what walking can do for him. Today, however, he has walked across the room several times and actually made some attempts to play games with his sisters while on his feet.

He walks like he's had way too much to drink, but I figure I should cut the boy some slack. He does have only six teeth, after all.

There is also this notion in parenting that babies should be off the bottle with no looking back by the magical age of 1. This is all well and good for those whose babies were actually capable of drinking in any other fashion at that point. Charlie at 12 months, despite having worked on the sippy concept and having made attempts with every known type of cup on the market for six solid months, has just recently been able to get the fluid from inside the cup to inside his body. Well, today he started taking more than just juice from the sippy and was down to just the night time bottle.

I guess my Little Boofers is growing up.


Oma Swears that this Is NOT True

Melody: Mommy, why do you stop at red lights?
Mommy: Because that's what you're supposed to do.
Melody: But Oma doesn't. She speeds up and goes faster, faster, faster!


When Dixie came to live with us last January, the first month was like a honeymoon. The girls played together happily, endlessly, perfectly. After the novelty wore off and Dixie realized that she was in for the long haul, she with through a rough patch that I like to refer to as the "Can I be bad enough that you let me go back home to grandma" stage.

Melody also had her moments where she found this to be officially Not a Good Idea. They occurred about as frequently as, say, breathing in or out. During the midst of this time, we had the following conversation.

Melody: Mommy, why is Dixie so mean?
Mommy: She's having a hard time. Can you imagine how hard it would be if I went away and you never got to see me again?
Melody: But you can't go away! If you go away, who is going to drive us places?

I guess it is important to know your role, eh?


Someone should start watching these kids

This morning was officially Not Pretty around here.

I work one morning a week at our church. I watch the kids while the mommies have Ladies' Bible Class. I do get paid for this gig, which is cool considering that I supply a considerable number of the children that I am paid to watch. However, being a family of five, it takes us substantially longer to go through a round of illness than it did when there were only three of us. As a result, I have missed the last two Wednesdays with some various combination of sick people at home.

So this morning I awaken, determined to go. As I am making lunches, I feed the cat and fail to place the can on the other side of the baby gate. Charlie's Trouble Sensor instantaneously alerts him to this fact, and off he goes. I see this, but I am in the middle of something else and, being the third child, I am just glad it is the cat's food dish and not the litter box for once.

Evidently canned cat food is not as delightful as dry, because Charlie proceeds to vomit all over himself. Great.

I clean him up, clean up the floor, and go back to making lunch. I pause periodically to toss churnks of food at the breakfast-seeking children. I get Charlie strapped into his high chair, his bib is on, his tray is snapped into place and food is set out. Silly me--I think this is sufficient. I go into my room to change.

Just as I am stark-naked and grabbing my pants off their hanger I hear THUNK. pause. wail. Charlie Houdini has escaped and landed face-first on the floor. I scoop up my baby, retreat to the couch, and hold his sobbing baby body.

Dixie: Mommy, why are you naked?
Melody: Why is Charlie crying?
D: Grown ups are not supposed to be naked.
M: Can you put this dress on Belle?
D: Does Charlie know that you are naked?
M: But mommy! I can't put the dress on my self. I. Need. Your. Help.
D: Charlie is too loud mommy.
M: Mommy, why won't you help me?

I set down the screaming helpless wounded boy long enough to throw clothes on, grab lunch boxes, turn off lights, and scoop him up to head out the door. I get him buckled into the carseat and am (probably not all that kindly and gently at this point) telling the girls to get into their carseats. Melody does. Dixie is in the back row of the van and pops up behind Melody's head with an old cup of juice and asks her if she wants it.

I tell her that it is old, that she doesn't want it and to get in her seat now. So Dixie drops the juice. Unfortunately, Melody's head happens to be right underneath where Dixie happens to be holding it when she happens to let go of it. Stinking apple juice splashes and cascades down Melody's fluffy dress, the carseat, the bench of the van, and finds its way onto Charlie. Charlie has been wearing these clothes for almost eighteen minutes.

I am already late to a job I haven't been to in two weeks. So I grab some cloth diapers, shove them onto the most drenched spots, and take off. In all the pandemonium, I forget to check out my boy's skull status. He falls asleep in the car, I move him in in the infant carrier, put him in the dark quiet corner of the room and get on with watching the myriad of other children present. This grouping includes one child 6 weeks younger than Charlie who screamed, I kid you not, for 3 hours with no more than a 2 minute pause at a stretch. Quiet was restored only because his mother finally took him away. For all I know, he is still screaming.

At some point in the morning, Charlie awakens. I finally check out his face and discover a very large egg on one corner of his forehead, a bruise on his eye socket and another on his cheek bone, all resulting from the high-chair face-plant. Poor Charlie.

***Halloween Update***

I went to Wal*Mart today and spent $40 on fabric and notions for a Dorothy pinafore, hair ribbons and sash for Dixie and an Ariel's Married Dress for Melody. I cannot believe I just bought 6 yards of fabric to swathe my 25 lb. child in. It should be a complete bear to sew that slippery, shiny stuff.

But when I brought it home and saw Melody's eyes sparkle at the thought of being wrapped and frocked in this 'Fluff and Stuff' it was not as insane an idea after all, to make a wedding dress for a child who is not yet four.

I even ordered an Ariel wig from Disney.com today and threw in a Sebastian the Crab costume for Charlie while I was there. If I get the girls' costumes done in time, I am contemplating making myself an Ursula the Sea Witch get-up.



As part of the Divine Right of being a Stay-at-home-Mommy

I get to make the Halloween costumes. I love to sew, am very creative, but hardly ever get a good chance to anymore, so I am thrilled.

Dixie wants to be Dorothy. Blue plaid pinafore over a white shirt, braids, basket, socks and ruby slippers. I can do that.

To complement her, we will have Charlie the Cowardly Lion, Daddy the Scarecrow (no brain jokes, please!), Melody/Glenda the Good Witch and Mommy, the Wicked Witch of the West. (Please don't ask me why I'm not dressing up this year.)

I figure Melody will enjoy the Glenda gig. She gets to wear the biggest, fanciest, fluffiest dress of her lifetime, shiny shoes, a tiara and carry a magic wand.

No. I figure wrong. Melody wants to be Ariel. But not Mermaid Ariel. No, that would be too easy. She wants to be 'Married Dress Ariel.' That's right--she wants me to sew her a full wedding dress. I offered to make her a seashell bra and a green fin, but this will not do. I offered to make her a red flowing yarn wig. She said something along the lines that that will go really nicely with Ariel's Married Dress, and that she would expect no less.

I have some really impressive sewing skills, and a good bit of time on my hands, but sewing an extensively fluffy wedding dress with a fitted bodice and puff sleeves is beyond how far I am willing to go with this holiday.

Especially since I run full risk of her deciding at 8 minutes till dusk on Oct 31st that she really wants to be Glenda instead.


Sometimes they just know too much

Sundays in October, Dowlan and I are assisting the teacher in 2s and 3s worship, so Dixie, even though she is four, comes along. Otherwise, she would be in church all by herself, which is clearly NOT a good idea.

So we're talking baby Moses. Cool. They hear a story. They play a game. Then they get a little naked baby doll and a little blanket and pretend that this is their baby. They talk about what babies need. They wrap the baby up, the hug the baby, they kiss the baby, they rock it to sleep. Then it is time to feed the baby.

Teacher: Let's give baby a bottle. What do babies drink in their bottle?
Melody: Oil. (Inexplicably, Mel has always referred to formula as oil.)
Teacher: Do babies like to drink their bottles?
Dixie: Oh yes, but they also like to drink chi-chi milk from their mommies' (pointing) these.

Great, kids. Just great. I'm just glad Dixie couldn't get the dress up fast enough to really show her where the milk came from.


And at the zoo today?

Melody: Mommy! That monkey is a boy! It has a penis! Can you see the moneky's penis? Why is that monkey trying to touch the other monkey with his penis?

Sometimes, there is just no good answer.


I had to come back this morning to add that Melody once told me, "I am a girl. I have a chinny-chin-chin. I do not have a penis, or a beard."


Princess Baby Monkey Girl

Melody once had it perfect. She had a Blanklet. She had a Silly Sucky Thing. She had the convenience of diapers 24/7. She had all-day access to Daddy. Mommy, the overbearing rule-maker and authoritarian dictator went to work for 8 hours a day. It was great.

Then, one day, her horrible Mommy decided to play host to a second parasite. 'Decided' actually might not be all that accurate. More like 'experienced further proof that birth control pills lie to you.' The exact details matter not to Melody. The important thing is that she was being replaced as Baby.

Mommy did horrible things to her. Like make her use the potty. Give up the bottle. Take away the Silly Sucky Thing. Restrict the use of Blanklet to only the bed. Oh, and I forgot to describe the horrors of being expected to sleep through the night in an actual bed. Alone. In the Dark.

It only gets worse. Instead of being carried, she walked. Instead of using the tall people as pack mules, she was expected to carry her own things. She was expected to use things like forks and words like 'please' and 'thank you.'

And then, as the Interloper within Mommy's tummy grew, Mommy became confined to the couch for two months. Mommy became distinctly Not Fun and insisted on watching countless hours of Law and Order. This part, however, had some benefits. There was a lot more 'chicken and a playground' (a.k.a. Chick-Fil-A) and a lot fewer vegetables. The whole bedtime thing became a total joke and Melody did as she pleased.

Then it happened. She was shuffled off to James' house for three whole days and only allowed to see Mommy at the hospital. And there was this pink squirmy mewling thing that she insisted upon holding endlessly. See the following photographic evidence:
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To make matters worse, the thing came home and commandeered the lap of mommy. At bedtime one night, Melody claimed that Mommy couldn't read her a book because, "Mommy's lap is full."

Then Daddy went back to work--a phenomena never before known in the life of Melody. She not only had to share mommy, but to relinquish daddy was a horror beyond all horrors. She screamed each day as she left, for an hour each day. She was inconsolable. Sure, Mommy pretended to be fun. Mommy pretended to love her. But if mommy truly loved her, then why did she insist upon dragging that thing everywhere they went?

Fine, Melody said. If you insist on bringing along the baby born from your tummy, then I must have mine too. And Sabrina the Cat came along everywhere (until she was lost in the parking lot between Target and Chick-Fil-A, that is.) Like Charlie, Sabrina was also breastfed.
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To deal with all this, Melody pronounced herself Big Sister. And she really was fine.

But a few months later (five, to be exact) Mommy and Daddy had another Great Idea.
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A big sister. To be fun. To play with. To share with.

Suddenly, Melody wasn't the biggest. She tried being the baby,
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but that job was already filled. What role was left? There was no princess!

So Melody became Princess Baby Monkey Girl. She wears fluffy, fancy dresses every day. She wears tiaras to the grocery store.
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Little Gymnasts

These are from the end of August. Apparently, I had my camera set to 'extra fuzzy.'

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looks far more graceful than
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and Charlie really wants a turn
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The girls, in their ever-present quest for knowledge, have been fascinated by numbers as of late. Every time a number is mentioned, they have to count to that number to see how many it is. They are also making efforts to count to 100, the ultimate number in little girl counting.

So I hear a lot of things like this:

How many minutes am I in time out? One, Two, Three, Four, Five mintues?

How many spankings does my sister get? One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve spankings?

How many months until I get that toy back? One, Two, Three, Four months?

Um. Wait. Those weren't the quotes I was supposed to share. More like things about how many fish fingers, blocks and days until we go to the zoo. Not to mention efforts to count to 100 that only skip about 82 numbers in the middle and end with "One hundred! Mommy, did I count to 100, or did I miss a few in the middle?"

This morning I awoke to Dixie, running into the room for the third or fourth time that day, this time announcing, "Mommy! I counted-ed to Eleventeen!"


Melody will someday have trouble with race relations

Melody is not white. She is yellow. Actually, to hear it from her, she is Lello.

Her hands were covered in blue ink. She washes them, then comes to show me, "Look, mommy! My Lello hands are Lello again!"

Her hair is not blonde, it is Lello. One day, she gets out of the bathtub, looks into the mirror, and breaks down in sobs. "Mommy, why isn't my Lello hair Lello anymore? Where did my Lello go?"

Now, I can answer a lot of questions. For instance, when I get asked "Mommy, why is it dark?"
I can succinctly answer "Because the Earth rotates as it revolves around the sun and requires 24 hours for each rotation. The part of the Earth that we happen to be on happens to be pointing away from the sun right now." If I am asked "Mommy, why is it hot?" I know to blame it on the fact that the earth is at a slight tilt on its rotational axis, which allows for seasons. Since our hemisphere is currently tilted towards the sun, we are experiencing summer.

See? I am prepared for most things. But I had no idea how to tell her where her Lello went and the reassurance that it would return once the hair dried was NOT going over well.

Who can come to the rescue? Who is better at minutae and useless trivia than even Mommy? That's right kids--Oma, who is just a phone call away.

Melody: Oma, where did my Lello go?
Oma: Things change color when they get wet. What color is your shirt?
M: Pink.
O: Get it wet. What color is it now?
M: Pink.
O: But is it darker pink?
M: Yes.
O: See, your hair got darker when it got wet, too.


Now this all occurred over a year ago now. But she still thinks that she is Lello. And some day, some punk kid is going to come along and ruin it for her, and teach her all about how stupid people can be and that makes me sad. Still, I hope that some day she will be filling out college applications and check the box for Other so that she can write in Lello.


Dixie and Titles

One of the funniest things about Dixie is that she doesn't get the concept of a title. Examples:

Mommy, I want to watch "Cinderelly, Cinderelly, Night and Day It's Cinderelly"

Can you please sing "What a lovely little bride you'll make I'm sure you'll look divine things are working out according to my ultimate design soon I'll have that little mermaid and the ocean will be mine ha ha ha ha ha" ? Without even the slightest pause, intonation or implied punctuation.

I want to read "brownbearbrownbearwhatdoyousee-iseearedbirdlookingatme-redbirdredbirdwhatdoyousee . . ."She will recite the entire book, pausing only for breath occasionally, which she hitches quickly and dramatically. When she is finished, I can ask, "Oh, you want to read Brown Bear?" and she will reply, "Yes I want to read 'brownbearbrownbearwhatdoyousee-iseearedbirdlookingatme-redbirdredbirdwhatdoyousee . . .' "


Thanks, Ariel

The Little Mermaid has created a bra-fascination amongst the demographic of girls ages 3-4 in this house. It is just what we needed to continue this obsession with mommy's body once Charlie was weaned. Take this conversation:

Dixie: Are you getting dressed?
Mommy: What do you think? Does it look like I'm getting dressed?*
*by the way--this wasn't sarcastic (shocking, i know!) My means of combatting incessant questions about the obvious is to ask the asker what she thinks about the question and what the answer is.
Dixie: Yes. Mommy, are your bras to hold your chi-chis up or down?
Mommy: Um. Up.
Dixie: Why did Charlie drink all the milk in them?
M: Oh, I guess he was very thirsty.
D: Does your bra keep your chi-chi-s from bothering you?
M: Uhm. Something like that.
Melody: Why do you wear a shirt over your bra?
M: To prevent sudden blindness and traffic accidents.
D: But Ariel NEVER wears a shirt over her bras.
M: Yes, she does when she's a human.
D: Do you wear a shirt over your bras when you're a human?
M: What do you think Dixie?
Dixie skips the question entirely and goes on a 15 minute tirade about bras and mermaids that I was laughing too hard to catch most of.


Apparently my illness is stirring up the ranks

Dixie: Mommy, how old are you going to be when you die?
Mommy: Very old. Probably 100.
Dixie, bringing me a calendar: On which day are you going to die? This one?
Mommy: Yes. January 10th.

***days later***

Melody: Mommy, when you die, do I get a new mommy?
Mommy: Yes, maybe. But she'll be a stepmother, and probably wicked.
Melody: But then I can be Cinderella?
Mommy: Yes. Lots of cleaning and misery. And I feel that I should warn you that there is a severe shortage of fairy godmothers in the Central Texas Region. They aren't finding all that many handsome princes or glass slippers, either.
Melody: But why?
Mommy: It is like most of the other jobs--NAFTA moved them all south of the border. Between that and the unionization of sewing mice, well, I just wouldn't count on it working out for you like it did for her.