I think I might be ready for tomorrow.

I love Halloween. If you couldn't tell by the completely insane amount of work that goes into the costumes, let me make that clear now. We have been to four parties, had stuff at school, went in costumes to gymnastics and have one more party tomorrow morning before I drag the kids to visit my my mom and party, yet again. We are just party people.

I showed you pictures of the costumes after the first party. What I have neglected to tell you is about all the dang costume drama since. Last Friday night, I start getting things together for the parties the next day and Charlie's costume is nowhere to be found. Fine. I wasn't crazy about Charlie's Scary Monster costume anyways. So I go to work Saturday morning and volunteer to be the person cut early so that I can go buy fabric and come home and make another Charlie costume.

I am almost done making Rocket Boy (I'll have to get pics to you later) when Scary Monster is found. No problem, I'm almost done and I really love the costume and a spare might be good, as filthy as boy child can get. Considering we have back-to-back-to-back parties, we might just need that spare. Great. Okay, but where is Dixie's tutu? Ack!

So we go to Hobby Lobby on the way to the first party. Tulle is NOT on sale this week. So I spend $11 to buy stuff to replace a skirt that cost me $6 the first time and that I get to make in the car while Dowlan drives. Only, wait! Dowlan didn't get his wallet, so he has no license so he gets to make a skirt while I drive. Okay. All is good.

Get to the party, remember that Dixie's peacock had torn from the shirt last week and I'd forgotten to fix it. Fine. Hey, April, I know you're very pregnant, catered a huge party last night and are now in the midst of your son's party and all, but can I borrow a needle and thread?


Now that you're caught up . . . Dixie's class had Farm Day and they were encouraged to dress appropriately. So I made her a horse costume, and, of course, had to make Melody one, too. Fine, because they're apparently having Farm Day, too. Except that, wait! They're having it a different day, so I didn't need two after all. Oh, and Melody's is getting moved to Mondays, which are Chapel Days and the school uniform is required. Soooo, now they can bring an animal t-shirt to change into or just bring a stuffed farm animal to school.

NOT a chance. I made the horse costume, she's wearing it. So she goes to school with her school shirt on with 'khaki' pants that are dark brown and happen to have a tail. She is warmed by her hoodie, which happens to match the pants, mane and all.

So both Farm Days go well, only I don't get to go to either, so I have no pictures. I do have Pumpkin Patch pics, though. Just one teensy problem--my camera shutter didn't really open all the way, so there are black shadows in them that I couldn't always crop out.




Tomorrow is the big day. I have cakes ready:



We also made sugar cookies, but they're too boring to take pics of. I have everything packed and loaded and ready to go in the morning because I'm not sure if we'll come home before we leave town. Did I mention the *best* part? Dowlan isn't going. He's going to be holding down the fort and doing some contract work for his old boss. So I get to drive four hours with three children in PennyVann for four hours, staring at her glowing orange 'check transmission' light the whole lovely way.

It's a good thing, too, that tomorrow's parties are costumed affairs, because someone has GOT to talk to Charlie about his clothing choices. He loves jammie pants and has become rather attached to this pink bike helmet. Melody, however, prefers to wear nothing at all:


The pink helmet is worn quite often:


He has also developed a deep fondness for toenail polish:




The campaign propaganda is very effective

in the 'five and under' category.

Dixie: Mommy, who is Barack Obama?
Mommy: He's a man who wants to be president of our country.
Dixie: Why do they talk about him on the radio?
Mommy: Because picking the next president is a very important decision and you really need to think about it before you vote. The people on the radio are telling everyone what they think to try to get us to vote for the person they like. (Followed by basic explanation about voting.)
Dixie: So who else wants to be president?
Mommy: John McCain.
Dixie: But you're voting for Barack Obama, right? He's the best one.
Mommy: How did you decide that? Have you heard someone talk about him?
Dixie: No. I just heard him talk and I know in my heart that he wants to help people.

Yeah, I don't even know how to respond to that.


It shines like the top of the Chrystler Building

In the last forty-five minutes I have started a load of laundry, put up dishes, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned off counters, wiped down counters, swept three rooms, mopped those same rooms, tidied living room, moved the laundry to the dryer, and started the robot.

All while being mowed down by a stroller pushed by a persistent and strong two-year-old boy.


I just woke up

from my Sunday afternoon nap. My entire house is clean. Charlie is still asleep. The girls are playing nicely. Dowlan is off to the nursing home to take care of the little old ladies.

All is right in my world.


At church this morning, Melody heard the prayers and got this surprised look on her face. "People prayed for me when I was in the hospital?"

"Of course they did, Melody. People love you and want you healthy and safe," we responded.

"Then I am going to pray for other people in the hospital to make sure they are healthy and safe," she decided.

Man, I love that kid.


I think he's trying to tell me something

When I wash Charlie's face, he now screams, "Die! Die!"

I have no idea what he's really trying to say. But it sure makes a mommy feel good!


A brief Post-Op report

Melody is feeling great. When we were at the Halloween party on Saturday, I was watching her frolicking with merriment and sighed, thinking, "I have my Melody back." It was a great feeling.

The one downside? Her voice is sooooooooo high pitched and whiny. And loud. And my head is congested and her Sarah Palin voice echoes in my head and makes me want to scream.


I am filling out more Medicaid forms. Apparently, you have to do this every three months. Three months, apparently, begins from the date you started applying the first time and they conveniently ignore the fact that, although it was July when we began applying, we didn't actually have the ability make a doctor's appointment until October.

These forms ask for way more than the last round. They're confusing. They ask for pieces of paper that we don't have on hand. And they make me feel really stupid.

I hate this. I hate, hate, hate this.

On the plus side, Dowlan has a second interview on Thursday. After the interview Monday, it is clear that this is not his next major career move. But it will pay the bills in the interim.


I would like to report a strudel-napping

This morning, Charlie gets up and eats First Breakfast with the girls. Applesauce and something else, I don't really remember. He goes off to play.

After I take the girls to school, Charlie is back in the kitchen. Pointing at the refrigerator and saying, "Door. Open."

Dowlan opens the fridge. Charlie says, "No. Up." so Dowlan opens the freezer. It becomes clear that Charlie is after ice cream.

Daddy, being a sucker for a cute grin, gives him a tiny bowl. Second Breakfast

I do the dishes, get the toys picked up and realize that I am starving. So I make myself a Toaster Strudel.

Charlie's cat-like hearing detects the sound of the freezer opening. He insists on sitting on the counter, monitoring the toaster. He waves his hands over it, saying, "Hot!", turns the knob and pushes the button. "Button!" he announces.

He claps when I get it out. I am applying the icing and his finger keeps dipping in. I get him down and he runs to the table, pulls out a chair and climbs in. He points to the spot on the table where he wishes me to set the food.

I try to eat. "NO! Here!" he insists, so I get out a second plate and apportion four bites of my 1.9 ounce breakfast. He finishes his Mid-Morning Snack off quickly, then signs More! More!

There are no more. I show him the empty box. He makes a sad face, then tries to stick his head inside. He goes back to the table, sits at his chair and patiently awaits the food that he just knows will appear.

Inspired, I make a piece of white toast, smear jam on one half, fold it over and trickle the remaining strudel icing on top. He eats his Elevensies with an hour to spare.

Then he grabs my finger and points to the ground. I don't see anything. He drops to all fours and does his puppy impression. Then he hops up, grabs my finger and points to the ground. I begrudgingly drop to my knees and am suddenly reminded that my left knee is missing much of its skin. He gets down and crawls after his small plastic basketball. When I don't immediately follow, he turns around with this, "I'm waiting!" look. I follow.

He gets the ball in his mouth and then makes it clear that he would like me to bite it as well. Tug-of-war commences. He starts giggling so hard that he forgets to chomp and I claim a small victory. He decides that game is over and stands. I stand and he points me back to the ground. He picks up the ball and throws it, commanding me to "FETCH!" I comply.

My knee is killing me at this point, so I try to crawl on hands and feet. No dice. I try to slide and scoot. He's not having it. I turn on the Roomba in hopes that he will adopt it as an alternate pet. No way. (Have I mentioned the clear differences in his imitations of dogs and cats? It isn't just the noises--he has the demeanor of each down pat.)

I fetch. Then I fetch some more. Finally, he is distracted by The Disney Channel. God bless television.

At long last, Daddy comes home from his job interview. Charlie, inspired, grabs Dowlan's finger and leads him to the fridge, pointing. It is, after all, 11:15.


We have actual communication

This morning, Charlie tugged on my fingers and said, "Come here." He led me through the house, saying "Help!" and stopped at the bathroom door, where he pointed and said, "Bathtub."

I had to say, "No, Charlie. We can't take a bath right now. Daddy is in the shower." Charlie scrunched up his face, started to hit me with his Barbie phone, but had another idea. He led me through the house to the front door, "Walk!" He pointed.

"I'm sorry, Charlie, but I'm in my jammies. I can't go on a walk with you right now."

So he made a third attempt and dragged me to the kitchen, where he pointed at the box of Kix. I poured him a bowl of cereal and made me a cup of coffee. I then came here to write this and he brought me a princess cup, complaining, "All gone." I gave him seven drops of my coffee.

"Yum!" he exclaimed, slurping it up. Then he handed the princess cup back to me and brought me a castle, saying "Up." I sat it up on the desk and then he grabbed my finger and said, "Walk," again.

I guess he missed that I'm still in my jammies.


Just in case Joe The Plumber isn't the pic you were hoping to see . . .

Let me first explain something. I love my husband. But he is not skilled in photo composition. I have mad skillz. That is why the Joe The Plumber I made looks ten times better than any of the pics of our children.

I actually have two weeks' worth of pics to show. I will start with Miss Mel in the hospital.


Post-op, with the first of many popsicles:


Vaguely awake:

Telling Oma all about it:

Then there are the pics of our zoo trip. Unfortunately, there are very few that do not have pics of other people's children. Since I would like to remain friends with my friends, I will not be posting their children.

I will, however, have this random child in the upper-right-hand corner. His mother will never come after me, I am quite certain:

Some cool animal shots:


Dixie as SuperPrincess (for school):


We had our first Halloween party today. It was a blast. Our camera batteries, however, did not meet the challenge before them. I have some very crummy pics of the costumes. I promise better costume pics to come.

Charlie the Scary Monster:

I warned the pics were horrible, right? His costume is made out of a pillowcase from Target, btw. I got home from a friend's 40 birthday party last night and made it in the ten minutes it took Dowlan to bring the sleeping children in from the van and settle them down for the night:

Melody the Mermaid:

Mermaid Butt and Peacock Front:

She was biting into some kind of chocolate. I swear these are not her teeth:

And a couple of close-ups on the peacock fan that took 15 hours, 70 different fabric pieces and 4 spools of thread:




Dowlan has a job interview Monday!

Peacock Status


Now for those other children.


Basic Math

eating rice + coughing = rice up the back of the nose
= really freaking painful
= gross

In response to comments: I need a little more time to get the floor saga organized in my head. I have to write things mentally before I can write things here. Which is why, I think, the Charlie story escaped my brain entirely. I didn't have the mental reworking of words to keep it in there.

Peacock Status: 78%


Charlie did something

And it just popped into my mind to come blog about it. Then I sat down, opened up the browser, clicked 'Create Post' and whatever he did has now promptly left my mind.

I think I am tired. You know why? This was supposed to be today:

7:30 chiro--with all three kids--then run by the bank
7:45 Muffins With Mom at the girls' school
8:15 drop off girls
8:30-9:30 class at gym
9:30 shower
10:00 class at church
11:30 lunch
1:00 pick up charlie
1:30 pick up girls
2:00 sew like crazy
3-6 work
6:15 dinner
7:00 church
8:30 kids to bed and sew like crazy

If only it worked that way. Right now, it is 9:10 p.m. and the girls are sitting at the dining room table, eating breakfast. Charlie just got up, said, "I'm done" and is now walking in a circle in the kitchen. Sadly, this is probably the least off schedule I've been all day.

I realized last night that our first Halloween party is on Saturday. My progress bar on the peacock costume was at 14% when I made that realization. I think it is up to 47% by now and I am taking a break from the machine because my eyes kept involuntarily crossing. I am discovering that they aren't crossing any less, sitting at the computer.

Off to go make more feathers. And wonder what it is Charlie did that brought me here in the first place.


Miss Dixie

can do a handstand! Without a wall!


There are a lot of cool things about being a mom

but this one is definitely the coolest.

This morning, Melody and I skipped church because we'd seriously overdone it Friday and Saturday and baby girl was just hurting and worn out. I figured we'd snuggle up and have a quiet morning watching a movie and snoozing, but she clearly had other plans. She wanted 'to learn.'

See, on Friday, we went to Chick-Fil-aA with her favorite friend in the world James and his cousin Collin. James and Collin are 7 and they were reading their bags. Melody just stared at hers, looking sad. Collin said, "Can't you read?" and Melody looked distraught. She said, "I can kind of read, but the things I can't, I can get my mommy to teach me to read." I didn't think much of it at the time, just felt a little sad for my girl.

So this morning, she started begging for 'learning time' so we did some words on the magna-doodle. After getting into an argument about 'silent e' we had to watch the Leapfrog "Complex Words Complex" DVD again. Then play the letter game from "The Letter Factory" and then use the Word Whammer. That was NOT enough. We played six games of The Very Hungry Catterpillar card game and 2 of Cinderella's Glass Slipper game. Then she still was not satisfied. She wanted to LEARN. She wanted to do "Knick knack phonics" and I could not figure out wth that meant. Finally, it clicked. I got out Hooked On Phonics and she quickly read through the first four books. The second two slowed her down, but she got through them. Then she promptly rolled over and went to sleep.

It clicked later that she had finally found her motivation: wanting to be big like James and Collin. I'd known for weeks that she was on the verge of figuring it out, but didn't see the need to push her until she was ready.

It was just amazing, watching my child's brain work that way. Seeing her look at the page and understand what is on it. Thinking of all the things I have taught her and explained to her and worked with her on over the last four years and how learning to read is a huge life event. There's very little you can accomplish in the adult world without understanding that basic concept.

I was a little worried about how Dixie would take all this. After all, Dixie is five months older and, well, knows it. She takes it personally when Melody is better at her in anything, and I understand why. Hers is not the easiest position to be in. Dixie would be perfectly capable of learning to read any time she wants to--she just hasn't seemed to want to yet. Sitting still is simply not her style.

When Melody told Dixie, Dixie just got that beaming goofy Dixie grin on her face and said, "Great! Now you can read me my bedtime stories!" She ran and grabbed a book off the shelf and made Melody read it to her. Melody struggled through it, but did her best. It was a lot harder than the Hooked on Phonics books. When she was done, Dixie just laughed and said, "Cool! We don't need Daddy anymore!"

Charlie's finally decided it's time to say something

I should have known by now to never worry about Charlie. You know how there's a range of normal for every baby milestone? It seems like that, with every new baby skill, he puts it off until the very last possible moment. Clearly, Charlie is not in a hurry.

We had his 2 year checkup a few days back. It was two months late because of all the Medicaid drama. As of that day, Charlie said ten words, and that's only if you count 'uh-oh!' as a word. Sure, he'd mimic just about anything if the mood struck him right, but he only used ten words independently.

The doctor said not to worry, that sometimes it took a little past the second birthday to really pick up. He said a lot of mothers come in at the 24-month mark concerned and that, by the 26-month mark, they're wondering when the kid is ever going to stop talking. I pointed out that he was nearly 27 months old and the doctor decided to check his hearing.

Having his hearing checked was really creepy. First of all, the guy who was running the test reminded me of the weirdo detective on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. The guy played by Victor D'Onforljoisxjzo. He has me sit in a little booth with Charlie on my lap, trying to get him to pay attention to this bug-eyed turtle. Odd Guy goes out of the booth and stares at us through the booth with headphones on. He makes little white noise fuzzy sounds happen at speakers in the right and left corners. When Charlie looks at one, the guy pushes a button that makes a little stuffed animal play a drum set while a light blinks. It's really freaky.

Once Charlie looks and the bear plays it's beat, I'm supposed to get Charlie to look at the turtle again. Then the guy plays the noise on the other side and this time a different stuffed animal in a glass-enclosed box comes to life, playing a miniature drum set. After about five minutes of this, Charlie is pointing at the animals, commanding "DRUM!" and so the guy gets the puppy in the box in front of us to bark.

The only directions the guy had given me were, "Keep him focused on the turtle. Ignore the puppy. Do NOT draw his attention to the puppy."

I have read quite a bit of horror in my life. I usually avoid the movies because they're insanely cheesy, but there are few Stephen King books that I haven't read. Some of them I've worn to pieces. When the dog barked and Charlie looked at it, the man's warning started going through my head and I began feeling very paranoid because my back was to the door of this sound-proof room.

When no Psycho shower scene ensued, Charlie's focus went back to the googly-eyed turtle.

Then I began thinking back to my psychology class in college and how we had to volunteer to be a subject in 2-3 experiments a semester. I started wondering if there was a second person out there watching the guy watch us in the box. Or if they were really watching me to see how long I would sit on a stool with a two-year-old in my lap, getting excited over this damn turtle and trying to avoid the puppy and cheering every time the animatronic bear clanged its high-hat cymbal.

Then Charlie got REALLY distracted, so Odd Guy started whispering through the mic. "Char-leeee. Charl-ie. Look over here Charlie."

I just knew we were going to be eaten.

Within a few minutes, however, we were out of the box and I was told, as I suspected, that Charlie's hearing is Just Fine. The doctor said that he would refer us to ECI for speech testing if we wanted. I said it was best to go ahead and check it out, as he is getting very frustrated and angry with his lack of communication skills. Still, I figured it best that that we get through Melody's surgery first, then call them.

I'm glad we waited. In the past week, he has exploded with all the things he had to say. He's finally starting to put two words together and communicate his needs without tantrums. His favorite new phrase? No way. Endearing, isn't it? Being told "NO WAY" by a 23-lb child that you still-somewhat-recently gave birth to? Still, it's better than throwing everything in sight, and biting and hitting when you can't explain what you want.

It's amazing how you want them to walk and talk, then, as soon as they do, you just want them to sit down and shut up.


Zzzzz . . . .

Giving meds 'round the clock is about to do us all in. In fact, poor Mistress Fluff N Stuff fell asleep in the car yesterday and, when I went to get her out, she opened her eyes just long enough to say, "I don't want anything. Please don't make me take anything."

I have a hysterically funny saga about my floor that I will try to get up later. I am just too tired to organize my thoughts.


We're home!

Melody's home and safe and sound, although she is missing a few body parts. They cauterized her bleeding nose vessels and removed her tonsils, adenoids, earrings and all the bad words. This last part became necessary when, right before she went into surgery, she told me, "Mommy, this is the worst day of my whole damn life."

She was in a horrific mood when we got there because I made the mistake of waking her up at 3 a.m. to eat her last meal before surgery and she decided that she didn't really need to go back to bed. By the time we got to the surgical center at 11, she was one miserable bunny.

Everything went well, though. When the doctor came out gave us the rundown and then said, "Those were really big tonsils." Uh, yeah. That was kind of my point. She woke up a bit later, ate a popsicle and promptly passed out again.

The surgical center we were at is across the parking lot from the new children's hospital and you get to go through this huge underground tunnel from one place to the other. Along the way they have hidden fairies and dinosaurs to look for.

Staying overnight was a good call because it meant that other people got to do all the nasty stuff to her and clean up all the nasty stuff that came out of her. She was just about to be sent home when she threw up. I was thinking to myself how glad I was that this wasn't my carpet.

She was pretty good through it all, but then freaked out when it was time for the IV to come out. I think she'd just been messed with one too many times that day.


When I get back from the hospital tommorrow

I expect to see the comments FULL of notes to my girl!


The Reassuring Words of Melody

Daddy is very silly. But don't worry, Mommy--not all daddies are silly. Maybe you can find a better husband someday.


Well, that was rather surreal

Tonight, we went to a very swanky wedding. It was held at the church we attend, the place where we met and got married. The reception was at the new University hotel and conference center.

When we got married, there were approximately 275 people in attendance and it was the most full I'd ever seen that church for a wedding. Tonight's crowd topped Easter Sunday for pew-cramming. Guests from all over the place were in attendance and I'm sure that many of them make in an hour what I make in a month. There was a Senator there. Not shabby company, right?

We drop the kids off with Sheri, long-time friend and faithful reader. She and her husband are considering a second child, so I offered my brood up for rehearsal. Unfortunately, I think the evening went a bit too well, so I think it may have encouraged them to think that classic logical downfall that brings second children to the world: Hey, this isn't so bad. This logical thinking is responsible for siblings only slightly less often than the train of thought that starts with: hm. When was my last period, again?

If any of this stops making sense, please remember that there was an open bar. I stopped drinking only when I ran out of fingers to count drinks on. (I did limit myself to one hand, however. I'm not a total lush.)

So, I'm at the reception and there are hundreds of people there, quite a few of whom are people we go to church with and have known for a decade or the growing crowd that I have come to think of as "UA Expatriates." It's like a family reunion, only featuring people you (generally) like.

Here's where the weird part. I found myself having two repeated conversations. One, I fully expected. The answers included, "Melody's surgery is scheduled for Monday" and "The job hunt is, well, going. Not sure if I'd classify it as well." The other oft-repeated dialogue? Discovering covert blog fans, then having them introduce me to the people nearby with hearty blog recommendations.

This is happening more and more often, and it always unnerves me a bit. The first time it happened was with another good friend, Deanna. Deanna I have known for eleven years. She is the epitome of class and good taste. Think Martha Stewart with substantially better hair, facial expressions that involve parts of her face actually moving and no prison record (to date.) She is, among other things, our church event planner. She is the upper-middle-class suburban mommy dream.

Yet, she has a gloriously biting sense of humor. I think it helps her get along with the mere mortals surrounding her.

After Deanna confessed her deep fondness for this silly thing I have going here, I could not write a post for a week. I kept thinking, "Will Deanna find this funny? Will it meet her standards? Or will she erase her bookmark and never look back?" I developed a minor complex.

A few weeks later, the same thing happened at a different church we attend with someone I do not know all that well. I froze at the thought, and wondered what extremely inappropriate musings I had most recently put forth.

See, I got into this for one reason, and one reason only: I am lazy. Extremely lazy. I have brought it to an artform, really. Other people make parenting decisions based on What Is Best For My Child. I think about what gets the most return for the least effort and will encourage them to, well, just leave me alone. Part of this lifestyle I have chosen means that I will NOT be making hand-crafted scrapbooks with the precious memories of their magical and whimsical childhoods. (In fact, I have been oft-tempted, while blogging, tell them to, "Shut up so I can record the precious memories of your magical Goddamn childhood.)

I will have a cold and impersonal electronic record that has been read by everyone else on earth before they get a peek. If they are lucky, I will someday get it bound into a book and hope that my cheapness disease does not prevent me making them each a copy.

It also has the bonus effect of allowing the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and honorary relatives to have a glimpse into the life, development and general well-being of my children's lives with no real effort on my part. I just didn't expect it to expand so much.

I have one regular reader who is the wife of one of the elders at our church. After I learned this, I found that I was self-censoring. As I told stories, especially about the girls' inexplicable fascination with Charlie's penis, I would think, "Is this too shocking for Ann to read? What about the grandparents. If I tell too many Melody stories, what will Dixie's Grandma think? (especially if all the Dixie stories are centered around her exploits with sharpies and scissors)."

Recently, my mother introduced several of her friends to my antics here. These are people who have known me since I was a mere babe in arms. Some of their children were schoolmates of mine, so other high school friends have discovered me as a result. It is very strange. As evident by my "Girl Most Changed" award at last year's high school reunion, I live an entirely different life than I did back then. It is weird having all my worlds collide.

I always knew my imaginary friends from the world of mommy message boards would be here, but the persona here is much similar to there and, heck, they were the ones who encouraged me to start this silly thing in the first place.

Don't mistake me--I love having readers. I love to read comments and to check the stats and see how many hits I have. I love to go to the hit analysis and see the world map with little arrows sprinkling the continent and expanding the globe. It is just odd for real life and internet live to intersect.

So back to the wedding.

I had no fewer than five conversations about my blog. Having fans is a bit odd, but I secretly love that there really are people reading all this. I drank no fewer than five alcoholic beverages. Good night . . .

As per Jenn's request (plus way more information than she ever wanted)

Why Melody needs surgery:

She has always been very susceptible to strep and, the last time she had it, her tonsils never went back down. She tested negative for strep, though, so they tried different approaches and nothing worked. They even did a round of 'just in case' antibiotics and they went down by about half, then grew and flamed again. (I wasn't crazy about bonus antibiotics, but we had to try.)

In June, the pediatrician's opinion was that we'd been trying since April and nothing worked, so it was time to go see an ENT. The ENT heard the background and said it was time to yank. He asked how she slept, and I answered that she hadn't slept through the night since she was nine months old and that she has always snored. He said that was probably sleep apnea, so the adenoids needed to go as well. Meanwhile, she has averaged 4-5 nosebleeds a week, sometimes several in the same day, so he was going to cauterize her veins in her nose.

Unfortunately, Dowlan had just lost his job and we had four days of health insurance left. He offered to squeeze it in, but I was reticent to rack up at least $1500 in copays when I knew we'd be getting the kids on state insurance as soon as ours ran out. I figured it was better to wait a week or two and not have that money come out of our savings.

It was a good call and a bad one. Good because he has now been unemployed for four months and we would have been seriously hurting without that money in the bank or if we had one more medical bill to pay off. Bad because getting insurance through the government turned out to be a complete and utter nightmare.

First, we had to apply for CHIP. But I couldn't apply for CHIP until I had my first paystub from Sylvan. That took two weeks. Then I had to send in an enormous amount of paperwork that was complicated by the fact that Dixie was still on Medicaid from before the adoption was final. (We couldn't put her on our insurance until we adopted her. Dowlan's job ended June 12th and the adoption was June 13th.) Also, we didn't have formal paperwork with her name change on it. (Come to think of it, we still don't.)

So, in mid-July, shortly after charlie nearly bit through his tongue and got to get it sewn together, I send in this inch-thick envelope with paperwork. Three weeks later, on a Friday afternoon, I get a letter back saying that they need more information and that it must be received in ten days or we have to re-apply. We had sent in the only piece of paper the unemployment office ever sent us that showed what his weekly amount would be. This was not the correct piece of paper.

He spent, I kid you not, from Monday morning until Wednesday afternoon calling the Texas Workforce Commission every 15-20 minutes. About every 10th call would not be a busy signal and he would get one of those automated systems that would give 10 options. None of the options were what he needed. So he started systematically going through the options. Most of them resulted in a menu with more options that resulted in automated messages that gave information and then hung up. Going into the office did not work. If he did hit upon a combination that got him sent to a human being, it would ring a few times, then go to a busy signal or it would simply hang up.

Wednesday afternoon, he finally gets through to someone who sends him the paper. Of course, they can't send it til Thursday or Friday. Then we have to wait for it to come in the mail and then mail it and hope CHIP receives it in their magic time window. Fortunately, they do.

A few weeks later, I get a packet in the mail saying that we've been denied CHIP coverage, as we were below their income threshold, and our application is being forwarded to Children's Medicaid. I call to check on three things: 1. that I don't have to do anything else, 2. to make sure that Charlie's tongue ER visit will be covered, and 3. to make sure that they actually got the paperwork.

I talk to four different people. All of them are very courteous and professional and want to make sure that I get the correct answers, so they send me to other people with my questions, as they have no clue themselves. Turns out, had we got on CHIP, they would NOT have covered Charlie's tongue, but Medicaid will. As I'm talking to the last lady, she says that we are in queue to be processed, but that they are still working on the referrals from April and May. She knows my daughter needs surgery, so she decides to skip us ahead and process us over the phone.

I think, "Sweet! We're in the clear!"

Nope. I get to the surgeon's office and it turns out that he could have taken us on CHIP, but that he can't on Medicaid. He is so concerned that he offers to do the surgery for free. He calls to schedule it and the hospital will not allow it. I find out that I have to start over. Our pediatrician also does not take Medicaid.

At this point, both my parents and our church offer to pay for the surgery outright. That, apparently, is not allowed. I try to just pay for the pediatrician appointment and they won't let me. It is apparently considered fraud on their part to charge for services that insurance should cover.

Then I learn that there are three types of Medicaid and that we were automatically enrolled in Traditional. As I start calling pediatricians, it becomes clear that only clinics take Traditional. I call to get the kids put on Amerigroup, as that is what the practice I want to take her to will take. The lady processes our information right away, but then tells me that it takes 15-45 business days to go into effect.

I call clinics. Openings are not available for weeks, except for the clinic that takes only same-day appointments. Phones turn on at 8:00 a.m. every day and getting an appt is akin to winning the lotto. After several days' trying, she got one. I was very impressed with the quality of the care she got there, I must say. The pediatrician was a little odd, but good with kids and very thorough. She agrees that it's time for them to come out and says to call back in a few days for the referral.

I call back several times before I get an answer and the lady in referrals can't find her paperwork. She takes my name and says that she'll get one done, then we'll get something in the mail. After a week of nothing, I call back. Turns out, I was calling the wrong clinic. I was calling the City Name Health Clinic, not the City Name Community Health Clinic. I would also like to point out that their addresses are nearly identical--the same four numbers in a slightly different order and that they are on streets that are a block apart with nearly-identical sounding names.

I call the correct clinic. They tell me to call for an appointment at any ENT listed in the Medicaid book. There are five names, but four are in the same practice and only make an appointment if the pediatrician's office calls them. The other does not take Traditional Medicaid, but will take us when we are on Amerigroup.

I try to call the correct clinic, but they aren't answering the phones. So I go check the mail and find our Amerigroup stuff in the mail. So I call the other ENT and get a same-day appointment. I go to register and realize that the appointment is for September 29th and that our Amerigroup kicks in on October 1st. I call to switch the appointment and get in for Friday at 1:15 p.m.

While I'm at it, I schedule the well-child checks for Dixie and Charlie that were due in August and get Charlie's audiologist appointment in.

Once I finally got an ENT to look at her, the process was quick. We saw him yesterday, the surgery is day-after-tomorrow. But getting to this point has been an arduous process and, frankly, a completely ridiculous one.

In the time it has taken to get this all worked out, my child has suffered. She isn't sleeping well or eating well. She has always been at the very bottom of the weight charts and has lost several pounds that she didn't have to lose. She has been grumpy and unable to handle her emotions because she gets so overwhelmed. Had I intentionally allowed this to happen, I would be in jail, and deservedly so. It's neglect to have a 4.5 year old drop to 29 pounds and go months without needed medical care.

This system is so broken. But the thought of the government stepping in to 'fix' it terrifies me. After all, it is the government that came up with Medicaid.



Melody's surgery is scheduled for Monday. They plan to keep her overnight.

Also, Dixie and Charlie had their well-child checks. Dixie is perfect in every way, as the doctor pronounced between her screaming bouts. My ears are still ringing. I'm so glad she's done with her shots for a long time. Charlie is as defective as ever, but he passed his hearing screening and this cold managed to pass without turning into something nasty.

I'm really, really tired. Four appointments with three kids in two days.


Disease, Plague and Mayhem

Charlie and I are sick. This leaves Daddy and the girls in charge. I would share pics of what the girls' room looks like right now, except that someone would come take my children away.

Charlie is trying to see just how many body fluids a small child can manufacture in a 24-hour period. Ironically, he has his Well Child visit at the pediatrician tomorrow. Uh-huh. Between the sudden resurgence of cradle cap and all the snot, they may decide to take him away.

My throat hurts so badly that I can't turn my head or move my jaw or swallow or breathe cool air in through my mouth. The pressure in my sinuses is so great that I am contemplating removing my eyeballs and teeth. Or maybe sterilizing the drill and going for it.

I am sitting up right now to let all the mucous drain and settle a bit so I can breathe. Then I will resume horizontal status.

Thank God the girls are at school. I did go to work yesterday, but only so I didn't have to hear the shrillness of the girl-children for a little while. My plan did not work as well as I'd hoped--they sent me home early.

I am concerned that I will pass this nonsense along to Melody, who really doesn't need anything to aggravate her oral anatomy further. Or Charlie. I just got his medical bills taken care of from his last hospital trip. With his history of Reactive Airway Disease and love for the ER, I get very nervous when that boy baby sniffles. Or to Dixie. It isn't that she has any preexisting condition to exacerbate--just that she's so grumpy when she's sick and I don't feel up to comforting anyone right now.

Good news is that Melody has an ENT appointment on Friday. Hopefully, we'll have surgery booked very soon.