After reading the news story of the woman living in a closet for over a year


I thought, "Hey, Charlie did that!"

Here is the closet charlie lived in for almost two years:

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it's hard to take a picture of a small space.

Note to self:

If you can't remember what year you bought the sunscreen, don't use it.


At this moment

Dixie is cleaning up all six hundred Polly Pocket bits.

Charlie is playing puppy dog. He has the cutest little pant I've ever heard. Oh, oops. He is now licking the cheese sauce from the floor beneath his booster chair. I guess we'll consider that his 'second chance' meal.

Melody is sound asleep on my bed. She has been whiny since eight o'clock this morning. After waking up at seven fifty-nine.

Dowlan has applied for 8 jobs so far. Only one of them are much of a match, but we'll see who bites.

Oh, Charlie has just discovered that the problem with climbing back and forth over the back of the couch to the bench behind it is those occasions when you land between the two.

And Dixie, having had all lip gloss and chapstick taken away, has discovered red marker. Oh, well. At least she got it only on her lips. And it doesn't say D-I-X-I-E.


Fifteen minutes later:
Dixie: Mommy, Charlie had an accident and now he's playing in his peepee.

Which begs the question--where was Charlie's diaper? Daddy changed him last.

Oh, the nice thing about having a blog . . .

Is that you can tell everyone in your universe bad news all at once, and not have to deal with their reactions and explain everything over and over and over again.

I admit, at first it took a bit of getting used to. I'd be talking to someone, go to tell them my funny kid story and they'd stop me to say, "Oh, I know. I read about it on your blog."


But at least for the last entry, it was pretty nice.

You know what is really angering me about this whole thing? His job loss on June 12 overshadows the immense joy of June 13th. We have been anxiously, prayerfully, eagerly awaiting that day for 18 months now, and now it is nigh and we are not getting to enjoy it.

So maybe I should think of it this way--June 12th is 100% guaranteed to suck. But by the next day, everything will be getting soooo much better.

And if you're local, or maybe not local, but at least know where we live--you're invited to a party to celebrate our Dixie's Forever Family on Tuesday, June 10th. We'll throw hot dogs and sausages on the grill around 5:30 and have some chips and drinks. BYOD--I don't really do desserts. Oh, and late is better than never at all.


It's official

Dowlan's last day of work is June 12th.
Dixie's adoption hearing is June 13th.

A few random things that I found amusing

I was driving down the street the other day and saw a banana peel in the road, so I swerved to avoid it. Then I laughed at myself--did I really think the entire van was going to slip, go flying into the air and land on it's bumper?

In other ironies, I was in Kohl's yesterday. I saw a lady wearing a shirt that said, "I'd rather be shoe shopping." She was wearing this while in the shoe department. I guess the subliminal message got to her.

Also, I was driving along recently and saw a very large man riding a bicycle. You could tell he was struggling but I thought, "Oh, good for him! He's trying to improve his health!" That is, until I realized that the reason he was having so much trouble was because he was trying to smoke a cigarette while riding a bicycle.


After nearly five years of parenting, you'd think I would have learned

That the following things should never occur together
  • Wal*Mart
  • meandering husband
  • 3 children
  • 9:00 p.m.
Why, oh, why do I never learn these things?


A few from the Archives, from before the blog


So my Melody keeps playing Baby and Dixie keeps playing Daddy. We were on the Chick-Fil-A playground with a former coworker and her son and Daddy is changing Baby's diaper. The only problem is that Melody doesn't wear diapers, so she was bare-bootied, spread-eagle on the playground in all her glory.


Melody and Dixie are in a very silly stage.
Whenever they sing songs, they like to sing Polly Put the Cantaloupe (in lieu of Polly Put The Kettle On) or, on London Bridge, 'build it up with granola bars.'I guess they don't know what iron is.

They're talking about apples and calling each other apples. so Dixie busts out with, 'Yeah, well your mama is an apple!" As soon as I cleaned up what I snorted out, I corrected her to 'yo mama.'Ahhh, her first yo mama joke. Enough to make a mama proud!

I call my mom everyday with a quote from one or both of my girls. They're both three. Here are today's 'pearls:'

Melody: If I fart out of my bottom, why do I say 'excuse me' out of my mouth?"
(Same reason that if you sass outta your mouth, you get spanked on your bottom.)

Dixie: My finger is big. It fits in my nose, but not in Charlie's."
(You know why monkeys have big nostrils? Because they have big fingers.)


Charlie's bald fuzzy kissin' head

is now slightly less fuzzy. He was playing in the sink, so I grabbed the scissors and evened up his wild mane. I snipped and snipped for ten minutes, to have only the tiniest pile of hair to show for it. Ordinary people have more hair on a single eyebrow than I cut off his head tonight.

But he looks just a little more grown up. And a little less unruly.


Amazing feats of gestation

The girls are in love with their birth stories. When we're riding in PennyVann, all they want to hear about is when they were in mommy's tummy, how tiny they were, how big they grew, how much they kicked, the day they were born, how tiny they were then, how much milk they drank, how they got their names.

When Daddy's along for the ride, the stories get silly. This weekend, he told the story of when their was a kitty baby in Mommy's tummy, then two babies, then One Hundred Babies.

Since Dixie is adopted, she especially loves it, as she gets to make up all the details and I cannot contradict them, because, "Mommy, you weren't there."

Kids love nothing more than knowing something grown-ups do not. And Dixie somehow remembers every single detail of her gestation.

Yesterday, it became Dixie's turn to tell the story again. She even included the part where, "Mommy E----- accidentally swallowed a rock and when I was kicking my little baby feet in her tummy, I stubbed my toe!"


Feeling neglected, oh faithful reader?

My Week, In Review:

Sunday: Public Humiliation Day--Dixie's dedication to the Lord and all that entailed.

Monday: Edit Day--Copy editing a 28 page proposal until 2 a.m.

Tuesday: Carnage Day: Mommy wakes up at 4:30 with a nasty crick in her neck. Cannot sleep again for more than about fifteen minutes. Waking up and copy editing some more. Phone call: Dowlan's wreck (mild, he's fine, only cost $770), more copy editing, missing the one fun thing I was looking forward to in order to copy edit, Melody's nose bleeds again, Mommy thinks she's on the verge, but has no idea the fun left in store for the week. Mommy falls asleep at the table as the kids play in the McDonald's playground. Less than 4 hours of sleep was not enough.

Wednesday: Tornado Day: One of those moments where you just don't enjoy living in a double-wide. Dixie also has diarrhea at church, from all the many, many apples she ate as mommy was too tired to properly supervise. Charlie is up past midnight, running wild in our friend Tracy's adult apartment. We abandon the sleepover and go home. Mommy has almost five hours of sleep.

Thursday: Save me from the Dragons Day: I miss my best friend that moved away and no longer comes to save me from my children. Dowlan comes home with great news: if the company does not get the government contract from the proposal we were editing like mad, the company is giving up the ghost, closing up the tent, biting the dust. Dowlan has been there over twelve years. I tell him that he is not allowed to become unemployed until June 13th because he MUST be gainfully employed when we stand before that judge and swear that we are capable, competent people who will care for, love and provide a life for the child we're adopting on that day. My parents come into town for the express purpose of using our toilet.

Friday: Running in Circles Day: I take Dixie to school, my parents to the Endoscopy Center to get hosed, go to playgroup, have a good time, acquire a spare child, pick up Dixie, relinquish spare child, pick up parents, come home and make a huge feast of beef and shrimp fajitas, then clean. Oh, have I mentioned that lately, I'm nesting as though I were nine months pregnant? The drawers and cabinets and shelves in my kitchen are clean and tidy. 60 square feet of Goodwill donations are dropped off. Yeah, I'm tired and a bit insane. Dowlan and I go on a date, which consists of getting him a haircut, browsing in The Container Store for an hour, then going to Olive Garden to try to get out using only my $10 gift card. We pretty well succeed--we only paid out 77¢ on the bill, plus a generous tip to our very kind waiter who made our wine 'sample' very large. Over dinner, we stare blankly at each other and try to figure out what to do with three small children and no employment.

Saturday: Birthday Madness: Melody pitches a fit because she thinks the gift I have isn't special enough. So we add some specialness. I go 9 miles out of my way on the way there, because I didnt make the exit. The girls are opening the presents on behalf of the birthday girl. So I take them into the other room to do a craft. Dixie goes into the bathroom, locks herself in, and breaks off the doorknob.

So see, it isn't that I am neglecting you. I try to keep this a happy, lighthearted and funny place. I'm all out of happy, lighthearted and funny right now.


Charlie Did it!

After, er, how many months of sitting him on it daily, Charlie has peed in the potty. Woo hoo!

After he did it, i stood him on the counter so he could lean over and wash his hands. Of course, he is buck naked as he does this, so while he's soaping up his hands, he reaches down and soaps his penis, then tries to get it under the running water.

Today Charlie also finally hit 12-18 month sized clothing. He's only, what 21 months old?

Well, that pretty much says it all

Dixie's new word?

Toot-scuse me.


Okay, here's the full story

Bright and early this morning, I wake up to Charlie tugging on me. I asked Dowlan why in the world Charlie was roaming the house. Apparently, Dowlan's attempt to co-sleep when Charlie awoke in the wee hours had failed. Back to the crib.

Then I wake up to Melody telling me, "Mommy, it's morning! It's time to open your present and share!" She pulls back the curtain to show me the dawn's early light. So I open up my chocolates, share, have Dowlan put the rest up high, and send everyone back to bed.

Forty-five minutes later, I wake up to Charlie shoving toffee in my mouth. See, he'd been able to reach the box of chocolates and had been steadily working on it when he sucked this one down to the toffee and didn't have strong enough of a bite to break it. So he thought he'd share.

About 30 minutes after sharing my toffee with Charlie, I woke up a third time to realize that it was 8:55 and we needed to leave for church at, well, 8:55.

Did I mention waking up with a nasty headache and my feet throbbing? Yeah, that.

We get ready, we go out the door. At church, it was New Baby Dedication day. I've kinda been grumpy about the whole thing for a few weeks because no one ever thought to have a dedication for Dixie, but I just pushed it aside. Well, I walk into the new mother's brunch, my dear friend Judy looks at me, sees the look on my face, and asks me if I'm okay. I lose it. I explain everything.

Judy, being Mrs. Awesome and all, talks to the guy in charge and adds us to the list. Brunch goes well.

Then it is time to collect children and go to the sanctuary. Well, in theory, it is a sanctuary, but today it was a pit of torture. Because today, for the dedication, the whole family needs to be there. Charlie has never sat through church and it was only last week that we began to have the girls in church through the entire service. On the front row. With all the other small children. Yee-haw.

As an added bonus, the air conditioner in the church is not working. I estimated it to be about 85º.

I'm thinking, 'We'll be fine. We'll make it to the dedication, then we'll take Charlie back to the nursery and maybe just take the girls to the side foyer to listen to the rest.'

Wrong again.

The dedication is not at the beginning, nor at the end (when we could wait until after the sermon to go fetch Mister. It is part of the sermon, smack in the middle. We are the last family to go, as ours is slightly different from the rest.

I won't torture you with the details of the hour spent trying to entertain and quiet children as we sweated. The one highlight was when the song leader stood up to welcome everyone and said, "Good Morning!" and Melody answered, "Good Morning!" right back at him.

So our time finally comes. Melody doesn't want to leave her food, Dixie doesn't want to wear her shoes, and Charlie is getting hungrier, thirstier, sleepier, sweatier and crankier by the second. We stand up, walk up, turn to face the few hundred people gathered there and Charlie goes insane. Screaming, thrashing, kicking. Dowlan's holding him, trying to figure it out. Dixie is climbing up his leg, wanting to be held. Melody is hiding behind Daddy, then she sits on the step, leans back, and flashes her panties to the congregation. I feel so helpless, and all I can do is laugh.

Thank God these people know us. Because everyone is laughing and smiling with us. I see my friend Brian and his fianceé, and they both have their heads tossed back, enjoying a good hearty laugh. The grandmothers are all shaking their heads with that knowing look that says, "Oh, thank God mine are grown!" and the pregnant women are rubbing their bellies thinking, "Wow, I'm going to have one of THOSE." Several people told me later that they were praying for us.

It really was hysterical. After awhile, Charlie takes off running. Dowlan starts to go after him, but the day is saved by Mr. Awesome--Darren, husband of Judy. He takes Charlie to the back, where Charlie is not being stared at, and is no longer freaked out.

The girls take turns being held, standing, clinging, switching parents. Kevin, the children's minister, asks us, "Will you raise this child in a house that is a, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord' house?"

Our answer is supposed to be: Yes, with the help of the Lord.

I'm laughing so hard that I have tears as I answer, "Yes, with MUCH help from the Lord."

Then he asks the congregation if they will help us raise this child in a house that is a, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord' house and they laugh as they answer as I did.

I guess the fact that no one said, "Hell to the NO" was encouraging. But I think that, if you asked any of the pregnant or childless couples in the audience today what they might have learned from church it was most likely this important, no, VITAL lesson: Space your children out as far as possible.

Oh, Dear God.

Today was the day to honor new babies at church. As our 'new baby,' Dixie was recognized.

It was horrible. Miserable. The church was 85 degrees, it was Charlie's first time to sit through church, and we were the very last family to stand up. Charlie decided to stand up screaming. Melody flashed panties. Dixie kept hiding.

I'll have to give you the full details later, after I've had time to recover.

Happy Mother's Day.


A Google Game

Google your name, followed by needs. See what you get.

"Gretchen Needs"

Gretchen needs to go to a Sex Rehab center ...
Gretchen needs to take a lot of responsibility for her actions
Gretchen needs sleep.
Gretchen Needs to Stop Picking on Me
Gretchen needs your prayers
Gretchen needs to set up a no-kill shelter for Katrina pets (can I do that ...
Gretchen needs a tech career at Microsoft (don’t tell Mike) ...
Gretchen needs legal advice
With the whole team at the table, everyone involved can see just how complex Gretchen's needs and solutions may be. The team looks at how Gretchen functions ...
gretchen needs this. more than you know:..
It's so under appreciated! Gretchen needs some love too...she's so cute, one of my favorite
Gretchen needs to be replaced ...


We took Dixie to school this morning. I just looked up and you know what is on the counter? Yeah, her lunch. It's okay--she never actually eats it. I could pack an empty box and I don't think she would notice. Almost everything I pack either comes back or ends up in the trash and the first thing she wants to do when she gets home is eat.

Also, we got our Bush Bucks. I feel that my personal economy has been stimulated. It took me almost two minutes to spend all the money. Can we do this every month?


Charlie's turn!
















Look! Some cuteness spread amongst the goofiness










and now for the goofiness:

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and her personal best:



I AM a good mother.

We made it through the first week of having the girls in church for the entire 70-90 minutes without incident. Well, maybe that is a stretch. I about shrieked with laughter when Melody had a naked Barbie doing an interpretive dance along the pew back during 'Holy, Holy, Holy.'

In the last three days, I have gotten fabulous professional portraits of all three of my children made. It took nine hours and cost almost a hundred bucks. Soon I will get the pics emailed to me and will share them with you. Dixie is gorgeous. Oh, my goodness, that girl is incredibly perfect. And Charlie, Charlie is so stinking cute. Melody, on the other hand, is just stinking. We have some very silly pictures of Melody. Many, many, very, very, very silly pictures. And one lovely one. But Dixie? Man, that kid is stunning.

I made books for the girls today. One is called Hop, Hop and the other is called Star. They each contain only words the girls are capable of reading. I made them after the girls went to bed and in the morning, they will awaken and be thrilled with their incredimommy.

Yeah. That's me.


Melody Says:

Can someone come wipe my bottom? I have one hundred poops and now the potty can never flush ever again.

You wanna know why she is worried about the toilet flushing?

We have blackberry bushes (stay with me here) and I had specifically told the girls that they could pick and eat the black ones ONLY, that the red ones are pretty, but would taste alllllllll yucky.

So Dixie heads out with a pail and picks about three dozen red berries. She brings them in, tastes one and, guess what? Yucks-ville. Then Dixie disappears. Ruh-Roh-to-the-Raggy.

I find her trying to flush the bucket full of berries down the poop-filled toilet. It is poop-filled because no amount of plunging could undo what had been done to it and Mommy was out of ideas.

Mommy: STOP! Only pee and poop and toilet paper go in the potty. Other things do NOT go in the potty.
Dixie: But they were yucky.
Mommy: Did I not tell you that they would be yucky?
D: But they're pretty.
M: Dixie, do you think that the potty might not be working because something else got flushed down there?
D: Nope.
M: Did you flush wipes down there again? Or other things?
D: Nope. I didn't flush anything except for Pee and Poop and Toilet Paper.
M: Huh. Because the toilet hasn't been working lately and I'm wondering if maybe some little girl flushed something that isn't supposed to be flushed and maybe that is what happened to the toilet.
D: You mean like the apple?
M: Apple? You flushed an APPLE down the toilet?
D: Yes, except it was a lot of days ago. Like one hundred. Years.
M: Yesterday?
D: Yes. Then.

I came to write about the fart-stealing spree in our house

and then I saw Emily's comment and had to respond.

"No, you absolutely may not buy/build/acquire a police box. If you do, I am going to have to listen to my husband constantly complaining “Why can’t I have a police box for my study? Gretchen has a police box, but I don’t have one.” I will be forced to come to your house and arm your children and mine with sledgehammers (along with protective clothing and safety goggles) while you are out on a date night. I really mean it."

See, Emily's husband and I go WAAAAY back. Pre-dating infancy, really. My parents were friends with his parents before they even knew each other.

I am now, more motivated than ever to have a TARDIS for one reason and one reason only: Brendan does NOT have one. Bwahahahahahaha!

It isn't that I want to make Emily (more) nuts, but that my entire childhood was spent wishing we had cool gadgets and toys like Brendan did. Every year we'd go five hundred miles to see them, have an incredible time, then spend the entire five hundred mile drive home begging our parents for every cool new thing they had acquired in the previous 12 months.

This is my chance to beat them.

That, and if you bring sledge hammers (and protective clothing and safety goggles) for our date night that means that, well, we got a date night. How cool would that be? Where's the threat in that?


Back to fart-stealing.

On Thursday morning, Charlie kept grabbing my hand and taking me to take him to the potty. Every time, I'd take off his diaper, and he'd back towards the little potty seat and proudly sit down.

Then we'd sit. He'd smile. He'd clap. He'd giggle. But you know what he wouldn't do? Yeah, that's right: potty.

The third time he did it, he let out about three rapid-fire farts. His face was filled with delight and he jumped up to see his masterpiece, only to be broken-hearted at the sight of the empty bucket. He looked at me in bewilderment, then looked at the potty and pointed, grunting his UHHH? with a sad little face. Then he looked back at me with pleading eyes that said, "Mommy, where did it go? Where is it mommy?" Then again with the chubby finger pointing and the UHHH?

About the third time he UHHH?ed at me, he began pointing that finger at me, and began throwing accusations around with his ferocious UHHH!

Charlie, you are a boy. You were supposed to be born with an inherent knowledge of farts. I'm not going to explain it to you.