It's still less work than the wedding dress

I made this no-sew tutu:


I googled directions. The whole in the middle? Imagine The Dixie standing there.

I got some foam to cover in green fabric with peacock feathers appliqued on it. I have a single feather made:



Throw in some solid leggings, a bright shirt, slap together a headpiece and paint her little 'beak' orange, and we have a bird.


Oh, thank God.

Dixie suddenly remembered that she wanted to be a peacock for Halloween. That is SO much easier to make than another freaking wedding dress.


Oh, no. Not again.


Did it have to come so quickly? I love the day, I love the candy, the parties, the proliferation of orange. But costumes?

Last year, if you recall, Dixie was Dorothy and Dowlan was the Scarecrow. I was Ursula the Sea Witch, Charlie was Sebastian the Crab and Melody was Ariel, but not Mermaid Ariel. She was Ariel In Her Marryin' Dress. I made Dixie's little frock with ease, my Ursula tentacles were a bit of a pain, but not too bad, Dowlan's was thrown together well and Charlie's was ordered from Disney.com. But sewing a wedding dress using seven-and-a-half yards of fabric for a (then) 27-pound three-and-a-half-year-old? Nightmare. And the fabric kept fraying and the whole dang think kept falling apart because the skirt was too heavy for the bodice and it was all too long and she kept stepping on the hem as she walked and pulling it apart and the outerlayment and pepulum did NOT wash well.

So guess what Dixie wants to be this year? You got it: Ariel In Her Marryin' Dress. Melody wants to be 'Ariel-when-she's-a-mermaid-with-a-fin-and-wears-purple-bras.' It's a good thing I have two red Ariel wigs. So I guess I can recycle my Ursula and Charlie's Sebastian. Dowlan's on his own--he doesn't have the pecs or white beard to be King Triton and I am NOT sewing him an Eric costume. He's simply not dashing enough.

You know what else?

I STILL have Dixie's skirt to make to even things up from making Melody a skirt to even things up because Dixie had a uniform skirt and Melody only had pants and shorts (and princesses do not wear pants and shorts, only skirts.)

This week is spirit week and Dixie is supposed to dress like a superhero on Thursday. I guess I'll make a cape. Little girls don't typically have superhero costumes in abundance, kwim?

And then, in two weeks, it is Farm Day. Dixie is supposed to dress like a farm animal. So I got stuff at Wal*Mart to add a brown hood with horse ears and a mane to a brown shirt and enough stuff for a tail. Only Melody is going to the party as well, and wants to be a horse, too. I don't have a brown shirt and pants for her. I do have a white one, so we will have one brown and one white horse.

Then there's my ginormous mending pile.

Oh, and all my Halloween bow orders.

My job.

I'm hostessing bunco.

Several large duties at church.

Kids. Yeah, them.




Melody's gems for today:

To the coach at her school:
I have a brother Charlie. He's two. Charlie used to be really cute, until he got a number.
Aren't most kids cute until they get a number? After you turn one, it's all downhill, baby.

She randomly tossed this one over her shoulder:
Tractors pull machines so that horses don't have to. I guess we don't really need horses much then, do we?
Hear that horses? You're fired.


I'm a derelict!

There is a woman that I have attended church with for 11 years now. She is in her seventies and, well, has opinions. They are not well concealed opinions. She also quilts, so we talk quilting a lot. We often share things we're working on.

Today, we were discussing sewing and fabrics and she mentioned the many projects that her quilter's guild has taken on and how she often takes scraps or random leftover fabrics for them to pick through for the 'grab table.' She mentioned that they like children's prints because, and I quote:

"We make blankets for the derelicts at the WIC program, for when they've passed their courses for prenatal and post-havin'-their-babies nutrition and such. They have to get their card punched ten times and they really want the quilts, so it gets them to come. You know WIC, the place where the women go who can't take care of their children and feed their babies and keep having them anyways?"

I simply nodded, although I was most tempted to say, "Yes, I know WIC. I have an appointment there tomorrow." just to see what her response would be.

Truth is, I do have an appointment there tomorrow. Three months ago, my husband lost his job and I knew that we would need all the help we could get to make it through a hard time with three children. If I have learned anything from adopting Dixie it is this: when help is available and you truly need it, take it. There is no shame in being helped when you need help. You can swallow your pride, but you can't eat it.

The more I thought about the conversation at church, the harder I was laughing. As soon as I got out of the church, I had to immediately call my mom and announce proudly, "I'm a derelict!" I know most people would be offended, insulted or feel that they'd been negligent towards their families, but I think it is absolutely hysterical and proves that you NEVER know who you're talking to or their experience in the matter being discussed.

The truly sad part? She has spent decades of her life helping others. She goes to the food pantry and hands out thousands of pounds of food. She has made quilts and blankets for the babies and families of children in need. Yet she STILL doesn't get. She never will. To spend so much of your life helping people and to not be able to see them as people? It breaks my heart for her.


To keep the children out of my new sewing room,

Dowlan installed a little lock at the top, even higher-up than they could reach on a chair, stool, or anything else they could drag over.

He considered one of those latches that automatically latches every time a door is shut. I asked him, "So how do I get back out when I'm done?" To which he replied, "Oh, yeah."

He installed it while the kids were sleeping. So the first time the girls try to open it, they get indignant. "Mommeeee! The door to the room that we aren't supposed to be in won't open!"

And you're telling me this because . . . ?

They conceded defeat in their epic struggle of knob vs girl and have moved on to destroying other portions of the house. Until they discovered the great flaw with the manual latch: that the man will never latch it when he's done in the room.


Charlie's new word:


Top that, sanctimommies!

We've gone a little Japanese

Lately, mopping my floor twice a day isn't enough. And it isn't the normal sticky kitchen grime, it's this oily black stuff that is impossible to get off. Then we shampooed the carpets last weekend and found that they had been extremely blackened.

I finally realized that it is the weather's fault. All summer, it was too hot for Dowlan and the kids to go on their long walks through the neighborhood, which has very few sidewalks. Since the hobby of walking in the middle of the street barefoot has re-commenced, the blackening of the homestead has gone right along with it.

So Mommy made new rules. No barefoot walks. Take off your shoes the INSTANT you walk indoors. Then we rearranged some furniture to accommodate the proclamation.



So far, kids and husband are going along with the new system, but it's been roughly 28 hours.


Accidental Decorating

I know I have spent way more time and energy and money decorating (and fretting over decorating) than any other double-wide dweller in human history, but I love having little places in the house where I can look and see beauty, take a deep breath, and feel calmer about my hectic life.

As I was looking at this little nook in my dining room and having a little sigh, I realized that nothing there was intended for that space.


The mirror was a birthday gift from my good friend (and faithful reader) April. I tried a couple of spots, but none of them really worked. So I stuck it on this wall and left it there. That was three birthdays ago.

The cabinet was purchased on clearance at Kmart for $16. I bought four cabinet pieces with no idea of what I wanted to do with them--only this vague idea that they could go in my closet when it became a craft room. Then I assembled them and found them to be quite lovely--too lovely for a closet. Two pieces got stacked and became a corner hutch. The other two pieces did not look good stacked, so one got put in the corner under the mirror because I didn't know what else to do with it. I looked at it one day and thought, "Hey, the mirror finally fits!

The fourth is about to become a shoe rack. I had the idea last night and I'll share pics when I get it figured out.

The fruit bowl was a wedding gift from one of my students. When we got married, it was a free-for-all. Everyone was invited, including my students and one of them actually came and gave me this lovely dish. I kept it on the counter for awhile, but had most recently used it on the dining room table, where it served a lovely purpose until the children discovered fruit juggling. I set it on the cabinet one day while cleaning the table off and liked having it there so much that I left it.

The vase is a wine cask. The flowers are from Melody. She insisted on buying me orange roses while her sister was in gymnastics Tuesday night and Dowlan went along with her plan. The apples, well, just haven't been eaten yet.

I just love the balance of the fruit and the flowers and the way the orangey-peachy colors are in both. And the way the two clear glass items flow together. And the white framed mirror with white cabinet with similar trim details.

So after the fruit bowl got moved from the table, it was bare. I bought a iron and stone decorating shelf that was supposed to have a centerpiece on top and condiments underneath, or a centerpiece underneath and food set on top or a two-tiered centerpiece or a million other ideas. But it was too tall. So now it holds all the bread in the kitchen in one tidy spot. (Pardon the terrible pics!)


It practically disappears in the kitchen:



I had this other piece that was bought to go on a piece in the living room that never quite fit there. I sat it on the table one day to move it and loved it there. And I love that I can redecorate it for different seasons.


For fall:

And I really love the fact that it all got there on accident.

There are somethings that you just shouldn't have to defend yourself from

Every mother and teacher has this running list in her head of "Things I NEVER Thought I'd Have to Say Before I Had Kids" and mine is getting long.

It includes such gems as
  • Stop talking about your brother's penis.
  • Do not lick the door.
  • That's my bottom and you're not allowed to touch it
Classic, eh?

So Charlie and I are out grocery shopping and the urgent need for a restroom comes over me. I stash the cart, grab the purse and kid, and head to the one-seater.

Charlie is sooooo much fun in a bathroom. He spends the entire time getting a piece of toilet paper, pushing my knees apart, and trying to help me with my, er, personal hygiene.

Good times, good times.

So this morning, I had to answer the cry for help, "Mommy! Charlie is taking my poop!"

I go in and Melody is practically shut in the toilet. She'd leaned forward and pulled the lid down behind her to act as a clam shell of protection. She was crammed so far in there, that I'm predicting mere centimeters between her heinie and the water below.

Charlie is standing next to her, emitting demanding shouts of "BALL! BALL!"

Those aren't balls, Charlie.


The view from our porch last night



Meanwhile inside the house--Redneck Laundry:





I am howling with laughter



The Hard Stuff

Yesterday, we got a new phone book.

Melody sees it in the driveway and gets incredibly excited. She grabs it and rushes up to me and says, "Mommy, it's a phonebook! We can use it to look up [Dixie's birthmother's] phone number and you can tell her where Dixie is and Dixie can see her and be so happy!"

A few months ago, I had to sit Dixie down and explain to her that the reason her birthmother was not around was not because I was making her stay away, but because she had made the choice that she does not want to be a mommy any more. You have never seen anguish like this child had on her face.

And I know it seems cruel and harsh, but she was building this entire fantasy world around her. She was like the little girls in Annie, who look out the window and make a whole story in their head about their perfect and wonderful birth parents who are rich and have a big house full of clothes and toys and are just waiting for the day when they can come back for their little girl.

The reality was that as long as Dixie had her heart and hope vested in her birthmother, she was never going to really be secure here. As heart-wrenching as that conversation, and the subsequent rehashing that was needed, it helped her jump on board to Team Mommy Gretchen.

So yesterday, it was Melody's turn. She was so excited, and wanted to help so badly. She just wanted her sister's heart desire manifested and I got to explain why what she wants is not what she needs and why talking about it hurts. She just didn't get it. Fortunately, Dixie was at school when this happened.


Good news: Melody has an appointment at 1:00 with a pediatrician so we can get a referral to a new ENT.


Dixie is feeling about like the kid

in this article.

However, I am loving the idea of all the days I will have this year with 1-2 kids gone for five hours. I am starting to get into the routine of chiro-school-gym-home-lunch-school-home-work-home-bed.

Today, Charlie and I went fabric shopping. He was too full of snot for me to drop in the gym childcare, so we went to Wal*Mart instead.

He had many opinions about the fabrics I was choosing, but he did not seem to understand the goals I had in mind, so we had to do a bit of negotiating. For instance, neither Melody's khaki school uniform skirt nor Christine's birthday gift required green and blue stripes. Or Belle fabric. When I chose the kitty fleece for a no-sew blanket, he hugged it mightily, said, "Cat!" and begin to pet the kitties.

While checking out the various browns they had, I threw a few bolts in the basket. One he angrily tossed to the floor. Another, he kissed. So if you're buying a bolt of fawn-colored poly/cotton at a Wal*Mart near me, I highly recommend pre-washing. (I did mention the snot, right? And of course it was on the end of the bolt, not the long sides, so I couldn't just buy the span that he'd boogered.)

I should back up.

The girls' school has chapel on Mondays and they are required to wear their navy school polo and khaki shorts, skirt or pants. Last year, a store near my mom's was having a great clearance sale, and I bought Dixie 2 pairs of shorts, one pair of pants and a skirt, and then a couple more items in larger sizes because everything was the magically affordable price of 49¢. I was planning ahead for when Melody would need uniform stuff and did not buy any items in miniature. One pair of shorts is a 4T, but everything else is in 5T and up.

So Monday, Melody spent the day hitching up the 4T shorts. When she came home, she reminded me that, "I do not like to wear shorts or pants. I am a girl, a princess girl, and I wear dresses and skirts as my favorites."

The skirt I'd bought was a 6. I could possibly take it up, but Dixie really likes it and I'm not going to take it from her to make Madame Fluff-N-Stuff happy. But then I discover that khaki for very small girls is just not in.

So I go shopping. I start out looking at plain khaki fabric, but know that I am in for it every Monday morning for the next 8.5 months if I make something that she does not love. And I have seen a w-i-d-e variety of articles for their uniforms--they are not picky. So I pick out fabric, an appliqué and some lace.

I get home, put snot-boy to nap, grab an existing skirt of Melody's and get to work, only to discover that I really don't have enough matching thread. I have two somewhat matching spools with very little left and no bobbin already made of either to help stretch out what I do have. I fill the bobbin with half of the first spool and get started. I get the sides made and the hem done when I discover that the hem is only 3/4 done because the end of my spool had come loose and knotted with the feeding end of the thread, so the thread broke. I re-thread, back up, and finish the hem. Almost. I am out of thread entirely with three inches to go. I still have a good bit left on the bobbin, so I load the other color and finish the hem. It is too different, so I go ahead and run around the whole thing, then slap the lace on top to cover the fact that I have more than one thread color going on. Then I'm putting the appliqué on when I run out of bobbin. I un-thread, fill my bobbin, then keep going.

My needle breaks.

I remove the needle, put in a new one, re-thread, and get the appliqué on. I start the waist, realize I only have enough elastic for the back, so I make do. I am inches from done when I run out of that thread, too. I see the end coming, and I am guiding with one hand while holding my thread tail with the other, desperately hoping that this will magically work out.


I grab a decently contrasting thread. Finish the top. Run a second line around the lace, about a 1/4 inch below the first one, hoping that it will keep it from rolling.

It is beautiful. It looks nothing like a school uniform skirt. But I know Melody will like it and her teacher will not say anything.

I start on the no-sew blanket for my friend. A different friend brings her vomitous child over to be guarded while she finishes a couple of meetings. Charlie awakens. I get girls.

Melody is DELIGHTED at the sight of her new skirt. Dixie has a fit. Duh. How did I think I could make one something and not the other? Promises are made.

Melody is slightly too large for her skirt.

I grab a scrap, hem it, run lace at the bottom, cut a line in the back, and add it as a panel. It looks great.

The skirt is slightly too large for Melody.

I take it back to the machine, run four small darts.

The Melody is again too large.

Seam remover. Two darts down.

The skirt is again slightly too large. But it can stay this way.

I am re-thinking that "I don't need a pattern" bit.

Photobucket Image Hosting

Photobucket Image Hosting

And, to top it off, I am late to work by ninety seconds. Normally, the kids are scraggling in, so I wouldn't be too far behind. Today, I get there and all three kids are at the table, ready to go, and my boss is at the table behind me to observe me teach.

Quiche update

It was incredible. Incredibly incredible. Incredible beyond all incredibility. I was incredulous.

I think I'm out of parts of speech there. Is incredulity a word? Huh. Spell check says so. Incredulation didn't pass muster, though.

Mine was one of 14 identical quiches at a luncheon for fifty ladies. We had a group of Sweet Adelines singing for us and everything was all fancied up. It was really fun.

Incredibility? Oh! It IS a word.


Quiche vent

I know--what in the world could possibly be offensive about quiche?

We're having our ladies' brunch at church today and I asked the lady coordinating if she needed anything. She asked if I could make a quiche. I mentally ran down the list of things in my house and said, 'Sure.' thinking that I had a pie crust, eggs, cheese, broccoli, bacon, spinach, corn, red bell peppers and Hatch green chiles and could make a heck of a quiche.

Until she digs out her recipe.

Get a load of this:
pie crust
4 slices of bacon fried, save the drippings
1 onion sliced into rings and cooked in the bacon fat
3/4 C of ham
8 slices of swiss cheese
An entire CUP of heavy cream
1/4 t dried mustard powder
3 eggs

Seriously? I have always considered quiche as a means to sneak vegetables onto the breakfast table. I have never made a quiche with fewer than a dozen eggs. And a CUP of cream?

I went to the store yesterday to get the cheese and ham, used bacon crumbles, eggs, crust and an onion I had on hand, and stole the bacon fat from a friend of mine. Yes--we are using secondhand illicit bacon grease for the church breakfast.

The quiche is baking as we speak. I may have to take some pamphlets on cholesterol with me, and possibly a defibrillator, but it smells divine.


The new place I have D-I-X-I-E written?


The fabric-covered wall of my new sewing room. In Sharpie, of course.

See, honey, the reason I keep all the Sharpies, scissors, pins, pens, paints, glues, beads, needles, ribbons, beads in there is that the children are NOT supposed to be in there. That's part of the beauty of HAVING a sewing room.


The girls wear their school uniforms only on Mondays, which are chapel days. They were so stinkin' cute that I had to (try) to get a picture.


See Melody's new bangs?


This is what happens when you let Charlie's slimy baby fingers touch the lens of the camera: Dixie gets a halo.


I give up.


(insert multiple profanities here)

The hospital won't allow the surgeon to perform the surgery for free. Unless he is Medicaid certified, they won't let him schedule a surgery that Medicaid is supposed to be billed for.



9:15 brunch with new minister and wife
10:30 church--Charlie was in the service for ten whole minutes (which is progress, I promise)
12:00 lunch at some friends' house--only we got there 20 minutes before they did, and then they came to tell us that they forgot they'd promised to take their son out for his birthday, so we went to his birthday lunc
12:30 lunch at Red Robin
3:00 go to their house, as there is no point in going home--while there, try to remove Melody's earring in a fit of screaming hysteria that lasts twenty minutes
4:00 Dowlan and kids go to a birthday party, I go to a baptism
5:20 back at the friends' house to fry bacon for them while they put in an appearance at a neighborhood barbecue
6:20 go to church small group--Dowlan and the kids arrive about thirty minutes later. We eat dinner and I fall asleep on the couch before we get to the Bible part
8:30 finally arrive home, having been gone almost twelve hours.

I am exhausted with a capital X.

Yesterday, we shampooed the carpets. The furniture is all back where it goes, but there is a bunch of stuff cluttering our dining room that is normally cluttering our kitchen. And I have to make lunches for school and make hairbows to match their uniforms that they insisted on as a condition for wearing their uniforms.

It's a good thing I napped on Robin's couch.


Clearly, my blog has been hacked by short people

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The conflicts between science and religion

Dixie: Mommy, is their light in your heart?
Mommy: No. It's dark in there because it is inside your skin and underneath your ribcage.
Dixie: See Melody? You're WRONG! Mommy said there's NO light in your heart.
Mommy: Melody, what do you mean by 'light in your heart'?
Melody: Mommy, there HAS to be light in your heart. Otherwise, God couldn't see to move around.
Mommy: So you're both right. Dixie is right because there is no physical light. Melody is right because there is metaphorical light.

Melody has been on a kick to understand everything. She spent twenty minutes on the subject of wrist composition and function. It included the premise that the wrist had, located between the skin and the bones, rubber bands. Other places in the body have different kinds of rubber bands, which is why different parts of your body can move in different ways.

Yesterday's car ride was spent explaining how the food goes in your mouth and, when you swallow, it goes through a tube into your heart and then your stomach. So I tried to explain that the tube runs next to the heart, to the stomach and then keeps going. The tube goes a long ways and breaks up the food into tinier and tinier pieces until it is so small that it can go in your blood and then your blood takes it to your heart and everywhere else. Melody mostly accepted this, on the basis that, when you bleed, you don't see bits of food in there, so it must be really tiny. But still said that it has to go through the heart first so that God can have a bite. Besides, she insists. If your food didn't go through the heart first, you wouldn't love it.


He is on the phone, right now.

He is locked in the closet in our locked bedroom, on the phone for his interview.

I want to throw up.

Not, for the reason you think, though. Melody decided it was time to take hair length issues into her own hands. She and Dixie now have matching bangs, except that Dixie's have had a month to grow out.

Dixie just told me, "Mommy, I hate you right now because you won't let me have hair like Melody's."


He's off the phone. It was very informal and the guy has closed the listing, but is still sifting through the applications he has. The fact that dowlan is one of the first contacted, to me, means he stood out. They are wanting someone to start in three weeks.


It's finger crossing time

Dowlan has a job interview at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. He would be working the midnight-8 shift at the university research lab as the overnight tech support guy. The salary is at the bottom of our range, but the benefits would be fabulous and the schedule really could work out well. He would be asleep in the daytime, so it would be a pain for the next few months. However, next fall, the girls start kindergarten, Charlie starts full-time pre-school and I start teaching again, so he'll have the house empty and to himself to get in a good 8 hours of sleep before we come home. I can also continue to work at Sylvan. It also means that the kids will have more time with Daddy--instead of waiting for him to come home in the evenings, we'll have all afternoon and evening to be together. And I'll still get him to myself for a few hours before he goes to work at night. This could work. It really could.

Mind you, Dowlan hasn't had a job interview in roughly fifteen years, and that was to work at Brake Check in college. So this may end up just a much-needed practice run. Really, it is just good to know that there are actually people looking at all those resumés and applications he sends out each week. It gets disheartening after awhile.

Even better news--we went to Melody's pre-op surgery appointment on Friday. To make a very long story very short, there is an issue with the state insurance and the surgeon's office not being an authorized provider for them. The surgeon said that he'd speak to the office manager to see if they could get anything pushed through. If not, they'd make sure they scheduled at a hospital that was an authorized provider so that the hospital got paid, and, if he couldn't get paid, to not worry about it. He referred to it as a mere 'twenty minutes out of my day' and said that the most important thing was that 'she gets to feeling better.'

I've dealt with a lot of doctors and insurance companies in my brief stint as an adult and am amazed. I have never once met one in either camp who was not worried about getting paid, let alone willing to do free surgery on a child he'd only met once.

The other thing I keep forgetting to tell you? Charlie's tongue finally healed flat. He no longer speaks with forked tongue. And he also learned a new word this week: penis.


Melody just spent the last twenty minutes

detailing why she is the only smart person in the house. She had some very valid points.


This place has gone to the dogs



I need to figure out how to take a picture of a cake without the flash reflecting. I also need to remember to measure how big my cake will be before making my transfer. The 'hday' of 'birthday' is wrapped onto the side, along with some of the fence.
Here is the birthday cake I made for my friend today:



OH, and the new 'place DIXIE is written'?

In pencil, on the underside of a pew at our church.

Three in a row, courtesy of Dixie

Dixie is in the throes of pencil sharpening. I swear, I could buy her a 100 pack of pencils, sit her down with the sharpener, and only have to look over every half hour or so to empty the tray.

Every time she runs in with a different pencil, she throws a new comment out.

-Mommy, I love the Fuzzy Bald Kissin' Head. It's so cute. But when the Fuzzy Bald Kissin' Head grows up, it won't be a Fuzzy Bald Kissin' Head anymore and I'll be so sad.

Then she runs back, and sticks her hand on the top of Melody's head.

-Look, Melody! Look at how tall my sister is!

Then she comes back to show me that she has found more pencils to sharpen.

-I tricked you! Ha, ha. I love to trick people. I think trickin' is my favoritest thing. Can I be a tricker when I grow up?

***About the Fuzzy Bald Kissin' Head: at some point last year, it became necessary to make a family rule that Charlie's head was only a Kissin' Head. It is not a squeezing, licking, setting-things-on, hitting, rubbing, grabbing, whacking, coloring or anything else head. Only a Kissin' Head. And I'm a little sad, too, at the thought that someday it will have hair and smell like boy and not be for kissin' anymore.