Just call Dixie 'Cinderella'

The problem I have with apologies, time outs and spankings is that, while they do curb behavior, they don't benefit me. As an avid practitioner of Lazy Parenting, I am all for whatever gets the point across AND makes my life easier.

So they clean.

Instead of, say, two minutes sitting on a bed thinking about how mean mommy is and unjust life is, cleaning up ten things really gets a point across. Complaining about it or trying to pull a fast one gets that number upped considerably. Lying results in a punishment of cleaning 100 things. (Thanks to the manufacturer of Polly Pockets, that number isn't as ridiculous as it seems.)

Cleaning's also a useful bartering chip in other ways. If a girl, for example, would like a piece of scotch tape to reinforce her roly-poly habitat, she knows that costs five things. If you want to go outside and play, that's great. Just as soon as you go clean up 20 things and get your shoes on. Or it's time to go to the park and we'll leave just as soon as the trains are all put up.

It has a lot of benefits, really. Their rooms are generally picked up, it gets done in short, easier bursts and they are becoming math whizzes when it comes to counting forwards to 100, backwards, by 5s and 10s, and subtracting to see how many things are left. It seems to have more impact than time out and the physical movement gives them a chance to really get into their grumbling. It takes just about the right amount of time to get their head cleared before they return to mommy to chat about it.

There have been a couple of times when the girls wanted to buy something and they were able to earn their money at the rate of one dime per five items cleaned. And when Dowlan got his traffic ticket last week, Dixie was thrilled to not be the only one in trouble. She told him, "Daddy, tell mommy The Truth About What Happened." When he was done, she told him that he was going to have to clean a LOT to get to Two Hundred Dollars.

The problem is that ,well, there are five members of this household, but only one lacking sufficient impulse control for her age. And the extreme disparity in punishments meted out has not gone unnoticed. Last week, it was time to go somewhere and I told Melody to go clean ten things. She got indignant and said, "Well, Mom. I'm not even Dixie and you want me to clean?!?!!"


I am officially too stupid to walk.

I went to get the mail today. It is less than a hundred paces from the front door to the mailbox across the street. Halfway there, I twisted my ankle and fell. Again.

This is the third time in the last two months that I have done this.

My back is currently so screwed up that I spend most of my day laying flat or standing because I save all my 'sitting time' for work. It just kills me to sit up. Dowlan has taken over the cleaning because all I can really do is empty the top rack of the dishwasher and wipe counters off.

I can't pick Charlie up.

And now, I have a scraped knee and elbow, a sore neck and shoulder and a stiff ankle to add to my list of woes.


The not-so-quiet game

On the way home from visiting grandparents, Dixie decided to play the quiet game.

Dixie: We're playing the quiet game the whole way home! 3-2-1 go!
Daddy: But we're not out of Abilene yet! How about we just play to the highway?
Dixie: You lose! You lose!
Daddy: But I wasn't playing yet!
Dixie: We're playing the quiet game. 3-2-1 go!
Melody: But only to the highway.
Dixie: You lose! You lose!
Melody: I didn't lose! I was just making the rules.
Dixie: Well, I already made the rules.

Four or five more games are begun in vain. Rules are argued over and added. The highway is coming into view when Dixie finally gets a game started.

Dixie: We're playing the quiet game until we get to the highway and only the big people count because Charlie can't be expected to understand the game so start in 3-2-1 go!

The entire van is quiet for seconds. Charlie, who has patiently awaited his turn to speak for years now, gets his chance.

Charlie: 3-2-1 go! Four! Five! Si-Seven! Eight! Nine! Ten! . . . Eleven! Ready, set, go! Airplane fly up! Down!
Dixie: Charlie loses!
Melody: But Charlie wasn't playing! You made that rule!
Dixie: Oh, yeah. We're playing the quiet game until we get to the highway and only the big people count because Charlie can't be expected to understand the game so start in 3-2-1 go!
Melody: How far is the highway?
Mommy: We just drove under it. When we go up this hill and join that road, we'll be on it.
Dixie: Melody loses! Mommy loses! Start again in 3-2-1 go!
Melody: We're on the highway!
Dixie: Oh, good. I was getting tired of that game already.


Over the river and through the woods

to grandmothers' houses we went.

It was a wild weekend. We saw three grandmothers, one grandfather, two aunts, two uncles, one circus, a zoo and a Chuck E. Cheese.

When asked about the circus, Charlie said, 'Elephants. Big BIG!'


In my dreams last night . . .

I was tickling Dixie and noticed a trail white outlining her hairline. When I looked closer, I realized that it was the velcro base showing. Apparently, my children's heads are covered in velcro and their hair is just an attachment. Dowlan and I were sadly not blessed with this feature.

They were beyond thrilled to discover this. The girls switched hair and played dress-up and turned their hair backwards and on and on and on. They looked so funny with the other one's hair.

Then poor Charlie woke up and it was his turn to have Melody's long blonde hair. Poor kid!

I only wish that, before I woke up, I had thought to put Charlie's hair on Dixie's head and say, "Look, kid. This is what is going to happen if you don't lay off the scissors."


More rejection from the fruit of my loins

Charlie, I love you!
~He bites me on the chin.
Charlie! Don't bite me! I love you!
~Bite it!
Charlie! I love you!
Charlie! I love you!
~Doughnut. I pick.
No doughnut!
~Apple juice?
I love you, Charlie.
~Cup. Juice.
But Charlie, I love you.
~Love juice.

Parenting Styles: Mom vs. Dad

Valentine's Fun When Mommy is in Charge:



Valentine's Fun When Daddy is in Charge:


A Kitchen Cleaned With Mommy's Supervision:

A Kitchen Cleaned With Daddy's Supervision:

Fun with Toys with Mommy's Supervision:

Fun with Toys with Daddy's Supervision:

Dixie is not supposed to ever have my camera. Daddy somehow doesn't realize this. Photos by Dixie:



Finally, here's what I emerged from the bedroom to find this morning:

Huh? Why are there napkins on the floor?

I know I don't have my glasses on, but those look really familiar. Oh, wait! I know where I've seen them before:

Please notice Daddy's proximity to this activity:

Charlie thinks this might be fun:

As I'm loading up the pictures, Charlie takes the tiles into his room. He thinks the place could use some sprucing. Then he comes to tug on us. "Mommy. Daddy. Floor!"

We follow in to admire his DIY project. Then he leads us to the entryway and points to the rest of the tiles and signs 'more'.


That's it! Charlie's out of the will.


Last week, I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that I got my Christmas card from my parents. I opened it up to find this lovely gilt-edged picture of a very classic Santa Claus chuckling from his sleigh. The reindeer are just beginning to pull him away from the roof of a cozy brick house on a crisp and starry night. I open it up to read whatever printed sentimental cheer the red ink provides and then read the personalized greeting on the other side. In that oversized diagonal scrawl people use to fill up the left-hand side of the card in as few words as possible, my mother has clearly written, "You're out of the will until you straighten things up."

Perplexed, I call my brother. I ask if he got a Christmas card and he answers with this odd voice, stammering, "Yeah. What did YOURS say?" His apparently had an identical message.

We are baffled. We cannot begin to figure out what we have done. After all, we have both grown up to be respectable adults with decent lives and solid marriages and families. We call mom and the only response is, "Well, if you don't know, I'm CERTAINLY not going to tell you."

Throughout the dream, we cannot figure it out. We never really worry about the lack of inheritance, rather the lack of understanding. We cannot figure out what we possibly could have done.

The next day, I call my mother to tell her about the dream. It is especially funny because, for the last few months, I keep thinking I need to call her and tell her she needs to fall on her knees and thank both of us every day for turning out so well. Every time I get an update on people I grew up with I wonder how I became the only responsible thirty-year-old in America. (Or at least to come out of my graduating class.) My mom and I are laughing and laughing and laughing.

On with the tale . . .

For a few weeks, I have been making a point of telling Charlie that I love him. Because he's not very verbal, I tend to kiss and snuggle, but not talk to him much. I get right in his sweet little face, pinch his little kissing lips and say, "Charlie! I. Love. You!"

That punk hasn't said one word back.

To make matters worse, we were going into the restaurant for lunch today and he just spontaneously busts out with, "I love you, Daddy."


Tonight, we had dinner with a group from church. "I love you, Daddy," he says. "I love you, Darren," he says. I tell him, "I love you, Charlie!" and he says, "Daddy." Daddy says, "Say, 'I love you, Mommy.' " and Charlie says, "Cookie."

Later on . . . "I love you, Charlie!"


Still, later . . . "I love you, Charlie!"

"No, no, no."

"I love you, Charlie!"


"Fine, Charlie. This is it. I am never giving birth to you again. You're out of the will until you straighten things up."


It has just been a really crummy week.

That is all.

I hope to be back with some un-crummy-ness quite soon.



I worked eight hours washing strawberries and putting them on sticks this morning. I came home to shower, pay bills, hug the kids and I'm off to tutor for 4 hours.

I am tired.


I know we've discussed this before, but

I am the best mother ever. Evidence?

For Melody's class

For Dixie's class


I have discovered that everything looks better when delivered in a basket:



Play-Doh was $10, 4 sheets of scrap paper were $2, and 3 packages of stickers were $5.

I already had the cricut machine, glue stick, red and green cardstock and two little helper girls.


A small collection of pictures

See why I don't fit in the bed anymore? I guess it is worth it, to see all the people I love all snuggly like that.


A few from the jammified-bouncin'-birthday-bash.



Dixie, with Uncle Brendan. He comes from a long line of champion ticklers. I am sure pictures exist of his father getting me in this same hold, at that same age.


All 25 kids (and Dowlan). I am hoping the faces are tiny enough as to not offend any guests by posting their children on the Interwebz.


Enjoying some of the birthday gifts


I present to you . . . Sticky!



Due to the Marryin' Dress, her nipples and navel are not visible. But I did zoom in on the face. Have you ever seen such bliss on Dixie's face?


Last night, the girls' room was pretty much clean when they went to bed. They played in their room an hour before school this morning. ONE HOUR. That was all it took to accomplish this.




(Please note that my camera is making pictures really dark, so i have to use the 'lighten' feature on iPhoto, which makes colors quite wonky.)

Random Funny

When I was student teaching, I was observing the music teacher. I sat in the circle between two kids and asked the little boy next to me his name. It was Noel. I told him, 'Oh, wow! That's my middle name!' and the kid on the other side of me said, 'Hey, it's my last name!'

So we had the first, second, and third Noels, sitting right there.



I keep staring at this box. I have stories, but they aren't forming. I'll update a bit instead:

• The water problem was a crack in the casing of the whole house water filter. We got a new one, but it was just different enough from the first to have to redo all the plumbing surrounding it. I was outliving my usefulness and went to bed about 10:00. When I awoke, the plumbing fairy had finished it all, taken out the trash, cleaned everything and had everything back in it's place.

• Charlie now knows all his shapes and recognizes letters as letters, even if he doesn't know their actual names. He calls everything O, C, or W-M. He spent most of today naked from the navel down. He sat on the potty for a bit before discovering that it was more fun to pee on the carpet. He felt the need to poop coming on, tried a bit on the potty, then asked for a diaper. I came home between work and bunko and he ran out to give my van a hug and kiss, but wouldn't come near me.

• Melody had her 'Kindergarten Readiness' test at school and was a + in everything except 'waiting her turn to speak'--just like her mommy! She got her beloved deer in the mail today, thanks to a fabulous fan, and the world is right again. She has also stopped dressing in Christmas and Easter dresses every day. We have discovered Gymboree leggings and she adores them. They are comfy, actually fit her scrawny body, and are colorful and bright. As much as I miss Mme Fluff N Stuff, it is nice to not have to buckle petticoats into car seats every day.

• The longer this school year goes, the more I am convinced that having Dixie wait a year to start Kindergarten was absolutely the right thing for her. Five days a week of five hour preschool is strenuous enough for her. I can't imagine having her gone two more hours a day and with a more rigorous curriculum. She is thriving where she is. She has also adopted Sticky, who is the Queen Over All Of Us. She found a fairly straight four-foot stick in the yard. She has a face, belly button and nipples drawn on and plays dress-up with the girls. We had a formal adoption ceremony for us and she sleeps in Dixie's bed, beside her. The girls love stringing beads to make her tiaras and necklaces. I have a pic here somewhere.

• The weight loss was not courtesy of stress. If I were the kind of person that lost weight due to stress, Sticky and I could share clothes. Thanks for all the congrats!

• We still know nothing about any jobs for Dowlan.



I have lost 20 lbs.


This is me, falling apart

warning: I copied/pasted this from another forum. it is not spell checked, punctuated or edited in any way.

i took the kids to church, by myself. dowlan was home working on contract work. we're starting to get charlie used to being in the sanctuary, so i had all three in there. I got to sing hymns with charlie's hand stuck in my mouth. I'm sure God got a laugh out of that one. When it was time for the sermon, i took charlie down to the nursery.

After church, we had this once a month thing called LIVE where they do, well, a live show after lunch. I hate that they make us wait until EVERYONE trickles slowly across the parking lot before we can eat. I ran myself ragged keeping Charlie out of the food. I pass him off for a minute to take the girls potty. Then I get the kids' food, sat it down, get mine and almost get my second bite in my mouth when Dixie spills lemonade. I can't even get it cleaned before she is whining for more lemonade. I clean it up, I get more lemonade.

My butt is four inches from the chair when I notice the puddle under Charlie's chair. Apparently his dinner roll has been bathing in his water cup. Up again, clean again, almost down again. The girls need more chicken. Up again, fetch again, almost down again. Charlie is done eating and ready to make a break for it.

He is so tired. I make the girls PROMISE to not leave their chairs while Charlie and I run to the parking lot with the pile of stuff to drop off and to grab the stroller. Every ten feet, he falls into a heap on the floor. I have so much stuff I can't carry him. We're almost into the garage. These overly charming strangers want to chat about when their son was that age. I get the stuff dumped, I get him in the stroller, I shut the van, I hoof it back to the girls.

Who are no where to be found.

Thankful that the boy child is immobilized by a five-point harness, I begin looking. I find them in the bathroom. It had, after all, been almost twenty minutes since the last time i took them potty. I am furious. They are required to sit at the table and not go play while we wait for LIVE to begin. I stroll Charlie back and forth until no blue eye is visible.

LIVE begins. Due to technical difficulties, there is no sound. SO the people on stage decide to get every one to scream really loud. Seven times. Fortunately, Charlie is unmoved by their howls. LIVE is a little too long and the girls are a little too wild, but we make it through. It is time to go home and I am glad.

We keep getting invited to Super Bowl parties. I keep inviting people to The Super Bowl of Laundry and they all decline. Melody and Dixie realize that it is a good friend's birthday and that we will see her tonight and can we please get her a present and make her a cake. We go into Walgreen's, glaring at the Girl Scouts with their sugary boxes of dietary failure. We buy a cake mix and go home.

Daddy takes the kids outside and Melody won't go. She wants to help me. I get the cake pans in the oven while Melody starts to empty the clean dishes. Every single knife she finds, she pulls out, thrusts into the air, and shouts, "I fight this battle in the name of God!"


I *almost* made it to the gym today. I got up, dressed, dressed three kids, fed them all, packed lunches, gym bag and backpacks, dropped the girls off. Charlie and I started to head towards the gym when I realized that I am beyond exhausted. I am coughing and sneezing WAY to much to go be in a pool for an hour. I come home and bum around. Dowlan works on his contract. Charlie plays, then naps.

everything was ho-hum until about 45 minutes before it was time to get the girls. we hear a thunk on the front porch and a weird noise from the laundry room (opposite end of the house) at about the same time. i run one way and he runs the other.

i have no idea what made the noise on the porch, but dowlan soon discovers the source of the laundry room noise. water is spraying out of the pipes.

fortunately, our hoses and pipes arent inside a wall.

water is behind the washer dryer and deep freeze in the laundry room and soaking into the floors on all four walls. it is under the inside part of the a/c unit. it is in the pantry and behind the fridge and soaking into those walls.

we have the water all up and the deep freeze out. im sitting for a minute while dowlan gets rid of the children, then it is time to deal with all the sogging stuff. then we get to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. then i go to work for three hours. then come home and help dowlan finish fixing it and get it all cleaned up.

we cant turn the water back on until it is fixed. this might get tricky.