The best part about two new carseats for the recently taller girl?

Two very large boxes have now entered our living room. We could get rid of all the toys and they wouldn't notice for a week.


I can now say with fair certainty that stupidity is a disease

While I haven't thrown up in 40 hours, I am far from hearty, hale and healthy. Far.

My head and my stomach and my eyes and my face and my teeth and my back and my neck and my arms and my muscles in my chest and even my bowl full of jelly--they all hurt. I am mentally operating (ha!) in super slow-mo. That's right, kids--my brain is one big long scene from The Matrix.

I just took a hot bath. Bubble baths are one of the sustaining gifts of life, in my (somewhat) humble opinion. As it came time to get out, I started to wash my hair. I pick up the first bottle: conditioner. The second: conditioner. Number three? Bubble bath. Conditioner. Bubble bath. Shower gel.

No shampoo to be found within arm's reach.

I start looking at the bottles, my mind racing at it's rapid turtle's pace. I think, "Shower gel is soap. Shampoo is soap. Therefore, Shower gel = Shampoo."

I open up the bottle and the scented stench overwhelms me. Gagging, I snap it shut. I sink back into the water for another ten minutes.

I remember having put bubble bath in the water. So that must mean that it has some surfactant qualities to it, right? If I swish my head under the water long enough, something will come out of it. Enough to condition my hair and end this mental torture that my bath has become.

So I swish. Swish. But the movement is getting to me. So I give up and decide to just condition my hair. I'm only going to get back in my jammies and relocate to my couch, right? Does the condition of my hair really matter?

So I apply some conditioner, only it won't spread through my nasty swished hair. Like any rational person, I decide to just add more. I rinse. The sensation of water moving over my head is overwhelming.

I stand in the tub, grab a towel, lean down and wrap it over my hair. Then I flip my head up. HUGE mistake.

I stand there, trying to figure out how to get out of the tub. I feel unbalanced. I take two steps, then notice the shampoo sitting on the bathroom counter, realizing that it had not once occurred to me to expand my search area to include the Greater Bathroom Regions.


Anatomy Class

Dixie: Where is the bone in your belly?
Melody: There isn't one.
Dixie: But there has to be a belly bone.
Melody: You have bones up here (pointing to ribs) and bones back here (pointing to spine) but there is no room in your belly for a bone. If you had a bone here (patting belly), you wouldn't have room for your bowl full of jelly.



From the all-night yak-fest:

Charlie: 2
Dixie: 3
Dowlan: 2
Melody: 8

I'm still holding at zero. This is not a contest I intend to win.

Update! Melody is at 14. No other changes to report, other than I feel doom impending within me.


If you have a minute . . .

I know this isnt the kind of thing i normally do, but if you would click on this link and place two votes, one for Kathi Fischbach and the other for Chelsie Butts, I'd appreciate it



I'm gunna kill him

I come home tonight at 7:25--a bit later than I've been getting home lately because I had an extra hour. I'd left chicken defrosting for him to make dinner with, but no explicit instructions. What does he decide to do with it? Wake fried chicken tenders for dinner. With the kids. I come home to Dixie cutting the chicken into small pieces with a large knife and dropping it into the raw egg and Melody flouring everything. Of course they're wearing new velvet dresses with no aprons and standing on upholstered chairs. Charlie is screaming at Dowlan's feet while he mans the stove.

So I come in, take over, get the kids decontaminated and Charlie calmed. I see that Dowlan has microwaved some frozen broccoli and think 'Ooh, he remembered a vegetable. Points for Dowlan.'

Then Dowlan drops the broccoli in the left over hot oil from the chicken and fries it up a bit, then covers it in a sauce. Yes, you read that right: the man fried the broccoli.

We sit down to dinner and the kids tell me about their project. Melody drew up some plans to make stilts, so they went outside and made them. Hmmmm--small, clumsy children with power tools making stilts out of metal and splintery wood.

Could someone please find this man a job so that I can go back to caring for the children?

I would love to spend a day inside Melody's head

She just comes up with the strangest stuff and, if I think long enough, I sometimes figure out what in the world she is talking about.

On the way home from picking Dixie up from school today, she was talking about how Grandma Jane died once, but came back to life in Jesus so she's not really dead. On and on about it, she went, upsetting Dixie quite deeply and instigating a shouting match that woke the sleeping boy between them.

I try to settle matters by calling Gma and having her tell the girls herself that she's not dead yet. Not trying to make any direct equestrian comparisons to the fine woman, let's just say I was letting her get it from the horse's mouth.

It didn't work.

Gma tried to explain that she was not dead, has never been dead and will hopefully have a few good days, weeks and years before she is finally done in, but Melody would not have it. She began to remind her of 'the time a few days ago when were were on the playground in A---- and you said you were dead.'

Melody, sweetheart: the dead rarely live to proclaim their status.


Don't look at me.

Melody: Hey, you know what rhymes? Spinster and lover.


Melody has a PBS obsession

Before we get started: last night, we were shopping at a thrift store. Dixie is standing behind me and I hear her exclaim, "Oh, Jesus! My Lord!" and I turn to get onto her for saying that when I see that she is indeed referring to Jesus, her Lord. He is very large and displayed on black velvet.

On with the tale . . .

Now that the kids are waking up routinely before 6 a.m, my standards of "No TV before school" can just bite me. I tell them to get dressed and I will throw some food in their general direction as they absorb the nourishment that is public television. In the last day or two, we've switched our morning breakfast station from Disney to PBS because Melody has discovered that she can watch TV and Learn. Melody loves nothing more than To Learn. She even says it to where you can hear the capital letters.

So this morning we turn on the TV and have the following conversation:

Mommy: Oh, no! Mister Rogers Neighborhood is ending. I loved that show when I was a kid.
Dixie: He is such a bad man. I don't want to watch his show.
Melody: Oh, no. We cannot watch a show about a Roger. And a whole neighborhood of Rogers? *shudder*
Dixie: It is a good thing we don't allow Rogers in Texas.
Mommy: Robbers are bad people. Rogers are just overly friendly guys with a fondness for sweater vests.
Dixie: Oh.
Melody: Oh.


So now Curious George is on. Not exactly sharpening the mind, but I did catch this fantastic quote: George tried to show Hundley how his bones were healing, but dogs don't read x-rays.


Random bits

Dixie would like to know, "What happens if I sneeze out my soul?"

Melody would like to know, "What happens if a seed from a daddy elephant walks into your tummy and you have a baby elephant grow in your tummy?"

We have subsequently banned the phrase 'What happens if?" from PennyVann. Gotta quash those young minds and stop them from thinking so dang much.

On the Charlie front? His new favorite thing is to follow me into the bathroom so that he can use my legs as racetracks for his cars while I'm otherwise occupied. In fact, the only way I'm getting the free time to write this is because Tow Mater is doing doughnuts around my ankle.


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

On the arm of my couch. In red Sharpie. And now she's going for the last name, too.

Also, you know those ribbon dancers in the olympics? Melody was trying that this morning, only with her panties.

Charlie's grubby fist clutches a ball at all times. It makes it rather hard to dress him.


list of things i need to do today, but probably wont:

  1. empty dishwasher
  2. fill dishwasher
  3. run dishwasher
  4. re-empty
  5. re-fill
  6. re-run
  7. re-peat
  8. (yeah, it's that bad)
  9. Fold laundry. Lots of it. For hours. Then put it away. OR leave it out so i can fold it again tomorrow.
  10. pick up all the damn toys. This could take weeks.
  11. Throw some attention in the direction of my children. And some food.
  12. Clean the floors. sweep, mop, vacuum, de-tox, cleanse, whatever
  13. wash my nasty hair. only, it's too cold. so wait for it to warm up, then wash my nasty hair.
  14. locate the pile that my desk is located under, then begin the archeological dig needed to find said desk. Catalog each item discovered, as it is apparently a rare treasure, which is why we've allowed it to pile for so long.
  15. put clothes on. well, maybe not clothes. at least a bra.
  16. cut charlie's hair. it's getting a little too shaggy. between the long hair, the princess jammies and the painted toenails it is getting easy to make the wrong assumptions about that kid


. . . . Rocket Boy!



In his ghostie jammies, shielding the paparrazi from recording the fact that he is using the same hand to both hold his sucker and pick his nose. And they say men can't multitask:


Papa loves his girls:

And the best part about the zoo? the giraffe bridge:

From that bridge you can feed the giraffes crackers and their long, slimy, grey tongues come out and lick up the crackers and you can touch their tongues and muzzles. It's incredibly cool.

Mein Kopf

My head--it hurts. hurts. I can't sleep because it hurts to close my eyes. i cant keep my eyes open because light hurts. The chiropractor did magical things this morning that took it all away for a bit. i need more magic


I want to know who invented Daylight Savings Time

so that I can punch them for the havoc they wreak on my children and my body. Then we finally get adjusted and it is time to mess it up again. We live in a 24-hour society--we aren't saving a thing.

Instead of waking up at 6:30, the kids are now up at 5:30. By 10:00 this morning, I had cleaned the house, unpacked from our trip, fed them breakfast and a snack, loaded the fourth load of laundry and was ready for bed.


Her eyes are playing tricks on her

Melody, waking up from a nap: My eyes were sleepy, but I wasn't sleepy, but they made me go to sleep anyway. My eyes tricked me.


A terrible anniversary

All day I keep thinking about where we were November 1st last year. We came to my hometown because my father-in-law's best friend of more than fifty years died and his funeral was on this date. Even though my in-laws live five hundred miles north of here, their best friends just happened to live less than three miles from my parents.

We came on Halloween so that my kids would have a chance to go to Dixie's Grandma's church's Trunk-or-Treat, bug my aunt a bit and then go trick-or-treat in the neighborhood I grew up in. My mom was leaving town, but I would be at her house and my in-laws would stay there. Dowlan was grieving the man he'd known his entire life.

We woke up the next morning and Charlie was gasping for every breath. I called the pediatrician I'd seen as a child and the receptionist kept trying to put me off, saying, "We're not taking new patients right now." I kept trying to explain that I didn't want to be a new patient. I wanted one appointment. Ever. Finally, I told her, "You go tell Dr. M-- my maiden name and that my 15-month-old is retracting with every breath and see what he says."

She came back within moments, asking how fast I could get there.

I expected an albuterol treatment. We'd been down that road before. Instead we got this:







He was in the hospital for five days with croup and reactive airway disease. Meanwhile, Dowlan goes to the funeral and spends time with his family. My mom is out out town and my aunt, father and Dixie's grandma are trading off the girls. I have no idea where they are or what they are doing for most of the time. In the hospital with Charlie, time stands still as I try to keep my newly-walking boy entertained in his oxygen tent. We've packed for a weekend, we're here for a week. I try to shop for a few more things at Wal*Mart and find myself staring at packages of toddler girl panties, trying to figure out what size which girl wears and how many pairs she'll need and which character she prefers and the cost per pair and I almost start crying because I am overwhelmed.

About the time that Charlie is getting better, when I've stopped watching every breath, he gets rotavirus. A friend of mine calls to say that a group of cyber bullies have hacked into my photo account and are posting pictures of my family on the internet and saying horrible things about me in a public forum that I've been a part of for awhile. I have no strength to care--I just give her my passwords to change them and go back to the florescent world of the hospital room. Nothing matters but breathing in and out.

I do get out to go eat dinner with Dowlan one night while my dad spells us at the hospital. We go to the steakhouse I worked at in high school and it is a time machine. The menu board, the carpet, the salad bar, the paint are the same. The owner remembers me. He is the same. The smell is the same.

Charlie has one more night in the hospital and Dowlan is going to spend it up there with me. Until this fifth day, it has been just me and Charlie most of the time while other people care for the grieving family and the nomadic girls. Grandma calls the hospital: Melody has thrown up and is crying for Daddy. Daddy goes to the rescue and ends up sick as well before the night is over.

Charlie is discharged and we depart and I can't remember how to do anything. I go to the pharmacy for medicine and am befuddled by the credit card machine and the options it gives. The fog of the hospital still hangs over me. We load up the children and drive home, praying that the vomiting and diarrhea are over. The nebulizer treatments are ongoing, every four hours, so the four hour trip home has to be perfectly timed.

I hadn't realized how haunted by this I still was until, a year later, I found myself once again heading home on Halloween.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street

Yesterday, I had the unique privilege of driving 220 miles in PennyVann with three children. I thought I'd timed things well--I took the younger two to a Halloween party and wore them out, picked Dixie up from school and headed out of town at 1:30, a.k.a. Nap Time. Added bonus? Dixie's school is a half-mile off of the tollway to get out of town. A glorious plan, all in all.

We've almost made it a quarter mile when Dixie's pressing need to pee is proclaimed from the back seat. Problem? Charlie's already asleep. Gah. I promise a potty in a few minutes. I start thinking of the route we're taking and if I know ANYBODY who lives along the way, who I could call on my cell phone and ask to drop by and shove a little girl through their cat door in search of a potty. No one comes to mind.

The problem of traveling alone with three children is always the potty problem. Inevitably, someone will have a pressing need every forty-five minutes and someone else will have *just* gotten to sleep. I make it to the first town out and stop at the tiniest gas station I can find. I park in front, make sure I can see the bathroom door from the parking lot, then send Dixie in so that I can stay in the parking lot with a sleeping boy. Dixie comes out, Melody decides she needs to go, but doesn't want to go alone. I send Dixie in with her.

Oh, did I mention I was already in costume? After dressing as a distressed fairy, I decided I resembled more closely a depressed fairy. My hair was unwashed and unbrushed, my eyeliner smeared, my glitter globbed. I kept my scraggly tutu in the hopes that people would at least know that I intentionally looked as I did, though I did leave my mangled wings and battered wand in PennyVann.

I just about decided to grab Charlie and run in when they come out. Apparently, they'd knocked the soap dispenser off it's pedestal on the wall and were fixing it. Deciding I didn't want to know the details, we left. Melody decides that Charlie needs to be big like she is and go potty. Ignoring my many protests, she tries to get him out of his car seat. Charlie wakes up because the girls are squabbling over whose turn it is to sing.

We're about fifteen miles down the road when I remember the box. My sister-in-law had sent a Halloween package to the kids, but we hadn't gotten it until that day due to a series of amusing events that I'll skip over to save time. I pull over, open the box and it is like the heavens opened up their glory and presented the most perfect gifts before us.

They buy us enough time to get the girls lulled to sleep. Sweet. Only Charlie is NOT asleep, and very insulted to find himself flanked by sleeping sisters. He decides to liven things up by alternately pinching them to see who wakes up first.

Then I start seeing the most bizarre things along the way. The first is a prosthetic arm in the middle of the highway. I really, really hope that it was a mannequin or a halloween prop and not someone's medical device they paid a few grand for and were going to show up at their destination only to find themselves, well, one-handed.

Further down the road I see a hermaphrodite bovine. I kid you not. I look over and see what is clearly a bull, only he (she?) has a sagging 'cutter' (as Melody calls them) that is almost dragging the ground. My curiosity almost gets the best of me, but I decide to travel onward.

Girls wake up. The need to pee is once again pressing upon us. We are almost to Brownwood and I promise the girls a potty in the near future. This promise is delayed by a traffic jam.

Those of you who have never been to Brownwood, TX probably read that sentence without falling out your chair in hysterical laughter. It's a shame, really, that you cannot possibly understand the irony of that. It takes me twenty minutes to go three miles. In Brownwood. Apparently, the 3:50 Friday rush is a complete bear during construction. I can only surmise that High School Fut-bol must have something to do with this. It is, after all, a Friday night in October in small-town Texas.

We go into The Wal*Mart. Remember my costume? I find myself hoping that I am not the ONLY one in costume. Many of the men I see have clearly been working on that particular facial growth pattern for weeks in anticipation of 'The Big Day'--and I really hope that is the case. Judging from the amount of camo in sight, I remember that The Wal*Mart is doubly packed--not only is Friday Halloween, but Saturday is a far more sacred day--the opening of Deer Season.


We travel onward, only to come to a complete stop in the middle of the highway for a good five minutes while a one-year-old scraggly black kitten meanders its way across the five lanes. I sit there with my flashers on. I briefly consider hopping out to rescue this creature, only to decide that I really don't need another passenger.

Then I come across the largest single piece of road kill I've ever seen. I swear it had to be a bear. Laying on it's wooly black side it rose at least three feet high. Large black bears are not indigenous to west Texas.

We did finally make it to my parents' house but it was the strangest assortment of roadside entertainment I'd ever encountered. Dr. Suess couldn't have found anything stranger, not even on Mulberry Street.