It's better than Voting for Pedro

Mommy can make all your dreams come true. Just ask Melody.

We went to Abilene over the weekend to see family and retrieve the girls from their grandmothers' houses. Melody had missed her mama, apparently, because she wouldn't let me out of her sight, even at bedtime. So I woke up Sunday morning with a little girl attached to me, saying, "Mommy! I had a dream that you were at the store and saw a Tumbles on sale and brought it home for Dixie so that she could have her very own Tumbles and be happy, too."

Tumbles is the FurReal Friend dog that Melody got for her fifth birthday. Dixie has been very mature about it, but very jealous of Tumbles. Dixie adores dogs and Tumbles is the closest thing to a real dog that will ever grace the doorway of our home.

We went along with our day and I thought nothing more of the dream until Dowlan and I went out shopping a bit. One of the first things I see is a Tumbles on the clearance rack for less than half price. I figure that it is fate, and add the puppy to the cart.

The girls were so excited when I brought Tumbles into Oma's house, and this time it was Melody's turn to feel jealous. After all, her Tumbles was hundreds of miles away. She did a good job of trying to be very grownup about it all as well.

I loved that Melody's wish was that her sister would have what she wanted. It was just so incredibly sweet, that I had to buy that silly puppy.

When we got home, the girls got their Tumbleses together and were so happy that Charlie got jealous. The girls resolved that the new Tumbles is now Charlie's Tumbles and that the old one is the Sharing Girls' Tumbles.

Sometimes, my kids really get it right. And it makes me so proud.


Charlie and I are total bums

It is just past noon. He is in a clutch-a-pillow-while-rolling-on-the-floor-watching-Dumbo kinda mood and I'm in an eat-old-waffles-while-playing-online-tetris mood. He tried to rally some effort into protesting both the potty and the diaper this morning, but his inherent laziness won out.

It was 106 outside Wednesday and 107 yesterday. I don't have to work today, so our plan is to do absolutely nothing for as long as possible.


Road Trips with Little Girls are quite the trip

I took the girls up to Dallas this weekend to meet Grandma Jane and go see the live production of The Wizard of Oz. I get home from work, pack and load everything, and tell the girls repeatedly to go potty. Dowlan runs around making sure they're fed and dressed, then shoos them towards the potty as well.

Less than one mile from the road, not even on the highway yet, Dixie announces the inevitable: I have to go potty.

Normally I'm a firm believer in Annie's Treatise on Scatological Urgency (when you gotta go, you gotta go) but I was not pulling over for this pee-pee until we were at least an hour in the trip. At that point, I also needed gas, so I find a convenience store and Dixie has conveniently forgotten that she needed so urgently to go.

We keep heading on and Melody announces: I'm Hungary.

Assuming she's wanting food and not declaring herself a sovereign European nation, I find another convenience store. She decides she only wants to eat Healthy Foods. In a convenience store? You gotta be kidding me.

I point her to popcorn and the "fresh" fruit. (Yes. I just used air quotes.) She decides on a bag of popcorn, a banana, and (for good measure) a bag of cotton candy. Purple cotton candy. Dixie also needs popcorn. Back in PennyVann, Dixie announces: You know what this van needs? A refrigerator and a television. If we had a refrigerator and a television, we'd be able to go forever.

We're on our way, once again. I take the wrong exit and end up moving over to the other road about twenty miles too early, so I'm averaging 50 miles an hour instead of "70" miles an hour. (Again with the air quotes? Sheesh.)

The two-hour trip is made in just under three hours, which I am declaring to be darn good time, given my chosen companions. We swim in the hotel and each girl bravely demonstrates how she can swim with no floaties for several feet. Dixie can go about twice as far as Melody, has better form and can also do a somersault underwater if you hold her hands as she does it. She doesn't even kick you every single time.

Grandma's white hair turns green from the chlorine, but we promise her that no one will notice and we head to eat dinner at Chili's. Dixie announces to the hostess: my Gramma's hair is green! Melody eats more in one sitting than in the last five years and we head back to fall asleep while watching High School Musical II on the Disney channel on a tv with colors so imbalanced that Zac Effron looks like he's an over-wholesome alien being.

Grandma has offered to take the girls home with her the next day, so we wake up in the morning, eat breakfast and go to Target since I'd packed light for the weekend. A couple sets of clothes and a still-in-the-back-of-the-van Father's Day gift later, we head to eat, then change clothes, grab the ten-year-old girl we were borrowing and go to see the show.

The show was amazing. The tornado scared me to death and the singing and dancing were wonderful. The Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man were cast so absolutely perfectly. And it was neat to see the parts left out of the movie. They even costumed it so that the black and white portions of the film were done in sepia tones.

The girls did extremely well through the show and were so excited. We ate at the McDonald's across the street before parting ways. I returned the spare ten-year-old girl and began the extremely quiet and quick drive home with no one to demand a potty or healthy snack.


Thanks for all the supportive words about Charlie. He has another evaluation Wednesday morning at 9. After that, we should know if his delays are something on the autism spectrum or if they are more in line with a sensory processing or integration disorder. Once we have some answers, I will let everyone know more about what is going on.

As still and odd as the house seems without the two little girls, I know it will be so much easier to both be able to go to the appointment without their "help".


To the man I have loved for ten years . . .

Watching you become a father has meant more love than I ever knew possible. You have always been so amazing with children and, long before you knew, I knew that I wanted you to be the father of my children. I knew you were the man I wanted with me as I walked through life.

I never meant for us to become parents so quickly, but sharing that first pregnancy with you was sweet and amazing. That first delivery was the most terrifying experience of my life. The night I was in labor all night and you held me propped up in the bathtub with your knees and body so that I could sleep between contractions--such a tender memory. As I thought I was going to die before this 52-hour labor ended, you encouraged me and I will never forget the sight of your face when you first saw her head. Your eyebrows said it all.

That night as we held our first baby in our arms . . . I had loved you for almost four years. But I loved you in so many new ways.

When Charlie was born, it was less terrifying but no less amazing.

But the most fantastic part was the night you crawled under the table playing with Melody in my mother's kitchen as I talked to Billy about adopting Dixie and I knew I didn't even have to ask you if you thought this was a good idea. You just reached up and squeezed my hand, said 'yes' and continued to play. No other man would respond that way.

I know none of this was in your plans for life. I know I never imagined we'd have three kids by our fourth anniversary or that you'd be unemployed for so damn long. This isn't the life we imagined at all. But you have been so strong and willing through all of it.

I love watching you be a daddy. I love watching our children love each other. It makes it all worth it. It makes it all possible.

As we start this next journey of testing and finding a diagnosis, I am already starting exhausted. But you start everything with the same energy and love. And I love you for it. When I screamed angrily at the universe, you held me. When I am mad at God and myself for what is going on, you hold me tighter.

You always clean up my messes. And I always get pissed off at you. And you always love me still.

We can do this. For Charlie, for Dixie, for Melody and for Ourselves. I never imagined parenthood would take us on this impossible journey, but I am so glad that you are the man walking beside me through it all.



The Early Childhood Initiative people are going to be here at 11 to screen Charlie for developmental delays. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.


Basically, she saw red flags that things are going on with Charlie that would necessitate services, but he is only six weeks from his birthday and their services end at age three. She gave me some ideas of what to do and names of people to get referrals to from our pedi as well as who to get a hold of in the school district. She was very kind and helpful and I have a doctor's appointment for Charlie for Friday.


Hear that?


No, it's not the sound of one hand clapping. It's the sound of my three children. Asleep. At 8:03 a.m.

Oh, how I have dreamt of this day.

Melody, for YEARS when through life with the philosophy, 'If I am awake, so are you!' and would go around the house tugging on blankets and shouting, "Awake! Awake! It's early in the morning!" Charlie has witnessed this (or suffered through it, depending on the day) enough times that he now does it too.

When I was the first one up at 7:14 this morning, I was overjoyed. I'm normally happy if the sun beats at least one of us up. I have sat here with my coffee listening to their little nose-breathing rhythms for almost an hour now.

About twenty minutes ago, I heard footsteps and froze. Melody stumbled to the couch, demanded a blanket, and is now sleeping open mouthed with one eye slit just a bit. When she was a baby, she would sleep with her eyes open and it always freaked me out. I just *knew* she had to be dead. Once I got used to it, it still felt creepy.

When she went back to sleep this morning, I shouted very quietly on the inside.

8:07 and Dixie just padded her bare feet from her room to ours. I'm guessing she's snuggling up to the very warm Daddy. She's always been more than willing to sleep in, but in her 2.5 years here has rarely gotten the chance. No one sleeps when Melody is awake.

I had a friend in from out of town last weekend. Her plane got in at nearly midnight and she was up until two. As I left for work at 6:30, I warned the kids to let her sleep in. At a bit after eight, she reports waking up to three little faces staring straight at her and a stuffed puppy placed next to her head.

it's 8:10 and Charlie just woke up coughing. I opened the door to his room and bleary blue eyes barely looked up with me as he clutched his red foam football and dragged himself into bed with Dixie and Daddy, barely lifting his feet enough to step along the way. I can hear his sweet voice, you know what it's saying?

"It's early in the morning . . . Awake!"


Well, isn't that sweet of them!

At my temp job today, someone comes by with a clipboard. Looks at my nametag, looks at the list and then tells me to go into the conference room. Other people slowly trickle in.

They start handing out exit interview surveys and the HR lady comes in and starts talking about paychecks. Someone asks what date she should put on the survey as 'final work date' and the lady gives today's date.


She babbles on and my friend Scott raises his hand to ask, "Does that mean we're not working after today?"

The HR lady says, "I'm not really the person who answers that question." She continues her babble.

We're looking around at each other, confused. Did we all get let go and they didn't even have the decency to tell us? Yep, that's exactly what happened. As an act of goodwill, they let us round up our time to the next hour.

I've never been fired from a job before, and this is the closest I have ever been. I hated every minute of this job in the last two weeks and was looking forward to it ending later this week, but I was also looking forward to getting paid for the next few days.


Three reasons to party (okay, maybe only two)

On Wednesday, I turned thirty-and-a-half.

On Friday, Dowlan was officially unemployed one year.

Today is one year since Dixie's adoption was official.

When my thirtieth birthday party got preempted, I figured I'd wait and celebrate at thirty-and-a-half, but that got preempted by friends coming in from out of town and me working insane hours. I'd always intended to have an adoption party for Dixie, but we just got too busy, and for the same reasons as why I'm not having a party either.

But I woke up this morning in a clean house feeling good and have decided that it's time to party.

So if you live anywhere near me and know me enough to know where I live (or know how to figure it out) show up tonight around five or six and we'll eat pizza and let the kids play.


Dear Charlie

While your desire to be just like your big sister Melody in every possible way is admirable, did you have to choose large, swollen, red tonsils to emulate next?

That's my girl!

Melody: You know what the tastiest of all the animals is? The Pig! You know why? Because it makes so many yummy things. Like bacon!


Dixie has decided

that I don't care about her.

I know what you're thinking, right? You're thinking "awww! Poor adopted baby! She must be so confused right now."

You'd be thinking that, but you'd be wrong. (I sound evil, don't I?)

Example one: "Dixie, finish your turn on the computer and go to bed. Melody, your turn is after Dixie's, then you go to bed."

This seems reasonable, right? Dixie gets to go first, Melody is up three minutes longer simply because of logistics.

Dixie goes to her room, flops on her bed and cries out, "Why do you only care about my sister? Why do you never care about me?"

To which I respond, "I'll care about you in the morning. Now go to sleep."

(Yeah, I'm not looking so good at that one, either.)

Thing is, for the past two years I have been extremely frustrated because I cannot compliment Melody or Charlie without Dixie having a completely hysterical reaction. I can tell Melody, "Oh, nice picture! I like the way you colored _____" and Dixie runs to her room, slams the door and flops on her bed, screaming. I never even got the chance to look at Dixie's picture. Heck, she doesn't even have to HAVE a picture to consider this an egregious inequality.

So I try the tactic of always complimenting Dixie first. It diffuses her, Melody is generally clueless and Charlie is completely oblivious. This should work, right? But if I talk to Dixie first and Melody second, then she gets upset if my wording or level of compliment isn't identical.

I have tried (multiple times) to explain to Dixie that I love all of my children. All of them. And I will not feel hostage to her emotional fragility. I have spent two and a half years daily building her up with love, support and encouragement. We've read the book, "You Are All My Favorites" and talked about how mommy and daddy love everyone just as much as the others, even if we love them in different ways and for different reasons. I have gone on special excursions with just the two of us. I make sure to get in plenty of snuggle time with each one. I make sure the girls have lives independent of each other and are not treated as a unit.

Maybe she can't and won't see it now and maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe what matters is that we live it out each and every day until she gets old enough to see that she is loved beyond measure.


Er, about that.

I just spent five glorious hours in the airport and no hours on actual airplanes, so I will not be going to New Mexico for my grandfather's funeral.

After the third flight left full, I was told that the fourth would have a few spots and that the fifth looked nice and clear. Only the fourth plane arrived broken and was going to need a two-hour delay. So they moved as many people with connecting flights as they could to the fifth flight. I might have been able to get on the delayed plane, but I would miss my connecting flight and wouldn't get on another one until after 10 p.m.

So I declared the game of Stand-By Roulette a loss and came home.

Instead, I think I will sleep a whole, whole lot, snuggle and tickle my kids and enjoy seeing the actual sun.
Off to another funeral.


Trust her. She knows what she's doing.

Melody: I want to play the pianto.
Gretchen: It isn't a toy.
M: I know. I am not going to play it like you play a toy, but like a grownup would play it. Trust me, I know what I'm doing.
G: Oh, you do?
M: I know how to read the music and play the pianto.
G: I am not so sure about that. I mean, can you even say 'piano' without the T in it?
M: I could, bot eye yam speeking zee french. Clar-te? (pause) Do you know what Clar-te? means?
G: No.
M: Well, neither do I. But I know what I'm doing with the PEE-ANN-KNOW.


My grandfather died this morning.