Trust me, He says

It was a day of Found Things.

This morning, I took the girls to school. Dixie has learned some new information about her birthmother that I felt it was time for her to know and she has decided she wants to share this with her teacher. I was nervous, but it went well. It was helped that, right before we left, Dowlan found Baby Elephant. Baby Elephant used to be a very plush pink elephant but is now a very pilled and flat greyish elephant due to being very much loved and just happens to be one of the few special things from her infancy in her first home. We hadn't seen him in months and his presence made telling just a little easier.

After dropping them off, it was time to run errands. The post office no longer has their stamp machine, so there go my plans to use a $10 bill to buy a single stamp for the golden Sacagawea dollar coins that the tooth fairy needs to have on hand for when the wobbler finally pops

I go to the bank to put money in and realize that the pouch in my purse containing a few hundred dollars in cash and gift cards is no where to be found and, come to think of it, hasn't been seen since, errrrrr, Tuesday? I pull the cash out of my other wallet to put in the bank and am missing the $100 bill. Also, the lobby of the bank is closed and I can't go in there for fancy fairy funding.

I put in the money I have, realize my balance is no where near enough to cover the bills that need paying, and hear God's voice telling me, "Trust me. Just trust me."

Fighting the urge to begin ransacking my house in panic, I ask Dowlan, who is preternaturally calm in all things, to look for it while I sit still for a minute and try to stop the spinning in my head. He says, "Let me finish this thing in the kitchen and I'll get right on it."

While putting up some random toy food in the kitchen, he opens a door to the girls' play kitchen and finds my little pouch. No idea how that got there, but I have three small culprits in mind.

Moving some things between that and my regular wallet, I find the $100 crumpled in the bottom, where I know I had looked several times.

Thing found, trust worked.

Dowlan called about a letter he'd gotten in the mail from the unemployment office and, while he was on hold, the person noticed that his next extension hadn't been activated. We thought he was out of extensions. Unexpected money should show up Wednesday.

I also made it through the grocery store alive, combining sales, coupons and gift cards to bring $112 down to $27 and got a new cell phone.

All that before lunch time.


Post-Holiday Humor Syndrome

In case you're wondering what that slightly-off cackling sound you hear in the general direction of Texas is, it's me. Yesterday, a single and childless relative told me, "Oh, really? I never thought doing laundry was all that bad. In fact, it seems a bit relaxing," and I still have not stopped howling. Nothing against her--I probably wouldn't mind doing her laundry, either.

The holiday went well. I made it through four days of cooking, cleaning and chatting relatively unscathed, save for a minor resurgence in back pain that at least had the added benefit of four hours at home alone this morning while Dowlan took the kids to church, lunch and a playground. Yeah, I owe him big-time.

On the Friday before the holiday, Melody and Dixie's school had a little program before their Thanksgiving Feast. The songs featured the Reluctant Turkey, who, among other things, claimed to be allergic to cranberry sauce and was making plans to break free before T-Day.

A few days later, on Wednesday, I picked her up from a lesson and took her to go grocery shopping with me. The baking was all done, the produce all bought and prepped, but I was saving buying the turkey until last because space in my fridge is always at a premium. When I told her we were buying a turkey, she was quite excited. "Can we buy a turkey that is still alive and have Daddy and Papa shoot it and then we can eat it?"

(See, when I married Dowlan, I was a bit concerned about marrying someone Not From Here. Not that I am opposed to mixed marriages for other people, I was concerned that marrying someone from Oklahoma might damage my native-born Texans in some form. Turns out he contributes just as much redneck DNA as I do.)

Disappointed that this was not my plan, she continued to devise ways to kill a turkey, my favorite of which was, "We could give it some cranberry sauce and tell the turkey it's corn and that way it will eat it and have an allergic reaction and die and then we can cook it up for supper."

I attempted to explain that your average Tom has no known anaphalactic reaction to berries and that this was meant to be funny. She didn't get the joke.

Still, she did not seem disappointed when her plate was filled with the deep-fried goodness that is turkey leg. Dinner went well, until I presented my father with the shocking news: our television had broken the night before. With every electronic store in range closed for the holiday, there was no venue for watching the Longhorns destroy those silly Aggies. Armed with beer, my uncle saved the day with his swanky hotel.

The next morning my father, still shocked by the announcement and nervous that this would become a recurring issue, knowing there were mere hours before LSU would take down the Piggies, he awoke in the donzer-lee-light (think Star Spangled Banner) and set off to find a new 32" LCD haven to meet his footballing needs.

When the children awoke to find an all-new television gracing their living room, there was much rejoicing. Dixie peeled herself away from it later that day to ask me, as I was scrubbing something down, "Mommy, why don't you clean when we don't have people here?"

Ah, you silly, silly girl. Would you like to do some laundry?


Chimneys aren't just blowing smoke

In preparation for the holiday season, the International Guild of Chimneys makes a simple request: lose the gut or find a new way in this year.

Sookie Smokehouse adds, "It isn't as though we're asking him to have the svelte figure of Dick Van Dyke when he played chimney sweep Bert in Marry Poppins. Twenty pounds before C-Day is not unreasonable."

As a gesture of goodwill, the IGC has prepared a gift to send St. Nick: Jenny Craig.

"We aren't trying to be Scrooges, here," Puff N Blowster said, "But the harsh reality is this: modern chimneys were simply not designed for such rotundity. Sure, it only happens twice a year, but our mortar is not immortal and simply cannot be expected to handle the strain."

Annual damage estimates from chimney strain are estimated to be $30-$50 million, not taking into account the cost of chimneys seeking help from mental-health professionals.

"The expectation that, in the twinkle of an eye and wiggle of a nose-like-a-cherry, a 350-pound man could make it through a brick or metal tube that is 18"x24" and upwards of 15 feet in length, " spoke a stack, on terms of anonymity. "Add in the expectation that pristine image limits his suit of red and white fur to being merely 'tarnished with ashes and soot' and you have an entire population of household features that has suffered in silence for generations."

The North Pole could not be reached for comment. A letter has been sent to request a press release on the matter, but is likely to be lost among the poorly-spelled letters requesting bicycles and Zhu Zhu pets from children declaring themselves to be 'good.'

"If I could send a letter to Santa, it would say one thing," Blowster said. "Slim down or open a window."


It is well past midnight-and-a-half

and I can't sleep. I don't want to.

Charlie is asleep. Dowlan is asleep. Melody and Dixie are asleep and are even asleep somewhere else.

The cat has finished his pouncing, the washer and dishwasher's gentle sloshes have ceased. The movie I was watching ended and the blue screen stares back at me.

It is so quiet that I can hear the hum of the refrigerator. The aquarium gurgles nearby. The smoke alarm just chirped . . . yeah, it isn't supposed to do that . . . and an airplane flew nearby yet far away.

It is interesting to be in a house quiet enough that I can hear the difference in key clicks between the fingers with long nails and the fingers with stubby, broken-off ones. A few blocks away, I hear the train's movements before I hear it's whistle.

The grandmother clock begins it's sequence, reminding me that this happy solitude is not without cost. Tomorrow there are dental appointments to be kept, floors to be swept and mopped, cornbread to be baked, laundry to be put away and children to . . . I have no idea what I'm actually supposed to be doing with the children, I admit.

When there was just a Melody girl, there were still silences and stillness throughout the day, but that is far behind us. Sometimes I miss how simple life was when we still not outnumbered the kids.

We're a good ways away from any road that might have traffic this time of night, but still I heard a motorcycle off in the distance just now.


Dixie has justified her existence

She found my engagement ring that I haven't seen in about a year! I had forgotten how beautiful it is!

We're getting ready to leave the house so we can flea bomb. It has not been a great day, so this cheered me up!


Today while I was at work

Dixie decided to buy a kitten. There were two problems with this: buy and kitten. When Dowlan told her no, she shook her sorrow-filled head and turned to the neighbor boy, handing him $1.10 in change and saying, "Well, I guess you better buy him, then."


As for this little piggy . . .

On the way home from Wal*Mart today, the girls and I were singing This Little Piggy, as modified by Joe Scruggs:

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy had roast beef,
and this little piggy, well, he had none.
And the last little piggy, our favorite little piggy, the one that we all know . . .
Said, "Hey, it's no biggie, but I don't play a piggy, I'm just a little baby toe!"

and the second and third verse only get better.

After a couple of rounds, Dixie said, "Hey, wait a minute. My piggy is talking to me." She takes off her shoe and listens to the bottom of her stockinged foot.

Remember, the girl is in a car seat with a five-point harness, so this takes talent.

"My foot says it's ready for a different song," she says, then pauses to listen, "It is ready for the ABC song."

"Okay," I say, and start to sing.

"WAIT!" she interjects. "My foot wasn't done talking . . . it wants me to sing by myself!"


I haven't forgotten about you

It's just been crazy. I've been working a lot of hours at a lot of jobs, since Dowlan's unemployment has run out and the economy still, well, sucks.

My temp project that was consuming most of my time ended yesterday and I have spent today recovering from those long days (and working the other two jobs, of course). Tomorrow I will start cleaning and baking for Thanksgiving, at least that's what I'm telling myself. Dowlan's really tried to keep up with the house and has done a decent job, but the deep cleaning things need doing.

We spent the weekend working on Charlie's room and it now looks like an actual little boy's room and not The Room of Doom. He's been so content to play in there for the last few days. It helps that we moved out everything he doesn't play with. Now that we're down to Little People, cars/airplanes/trains, Veggie Tales and balls, he isn't as overwhelmed in that room. (And if you're buying Charlie a Christmas present, please note the categories--it's all he will play with at this point.)

He's also started occupational therapy, finally. It will be interesting to see how it helps.

Dixie is getting in less trouble at school and just seems so content these days. Melody, just like her mommy, had a perfect report card except for that pesky area known as penmanship. That one always got me, too.


My latest kitchen concoction

I boiled down what was left of a rotisserie chicken for broth and chopped up the meat that was left (about 1 cup, white and dark, no skin). Stuck that in the fridge. Then:

1 butternut squash, peeled and chunked (and straight out of our garden!)
1 pie pumpkin (small), peeled and chunked
broth from the chicken
kernels from 2 ears of corn

boiled for an hour or so, until the squash was soft. Added in the chicken and pureed in my food processor. Added a tiny bit of nutmeg, salt and pepper.

It is sooooooo good. Really rich and smooth flavor that could benefit from being thinned out with milk, but Charlie can't have milk and he's my pumpkin-eater. From my rough calculations, the whole pot is only about 900 calories, so there's an added bonus.

Hm. I bet I could do this with leftover thanksgiving turkey!


It's been more than a little crazy

I'm skipping the morning at work because Charlie has a reevaluation for occupational therapy this morning and, even though it's not til ten, I'm tired and happy to have any excuse to not be at work right now.

I had a day off my tutoring job so after scoring tests and providing afterschool care and cooking dinner and cleaning and and and . . . my friend came over with ingredients for me to make and decorate six dozen cupcakes for a carnival this weekend at a school neither of us teach at anymore.

It was really, really fun, though.

I woke up this morning with Melody just snuggled into me, asleep. I snuck out of bed and, not wanting to leave it a mess, made it with her in it, just like I used to do to my mom's cats. She's so tiny that she made no lump under the covers and it looked like I had this porcelain face of contentment laying on a bed of wild hair on my pillow.

Dixie's tooth hasn't gone anywhere, btw.



Charlie talked to Dowlan today! He came and sat on the park bench and said "Let's talk." Dowlan started talking toy-to-toy and Charlie said, "No! Daddy talk to Tchawhie!" While the conversation was not reported to be all that impressive in content, the fact that it happened at all has me ecstatic!

Later today, Charlie had a glass of water and was running towards the cat saying, "The cat is on fire!" but Dowlan, to the relief of the cat, intercepted him. His imagination clearly works.


Now it's Dixie's turn to grow up a little bit

I came home for a few minutes between jobs today and she about knocked the door down trying to come tell me the coolest news from Kindergarten--she has a loose tooth!

She wobbled and wiggled it, asked for apples and crunchy foods and her tongue worked overtime all evening. When she grew wiggle-weary, she requested that I take a shift shifting her tooth.

It's still holding strong, but I'll make sure and get a pic once it is gone.


Gretchen: How was school today?
Dixie: Thumb's up!
Melody: Thumb's u--well, I had to write my name in the book in P.E. today.
G: What happened?
M: Eh, I don't want to talk about it right now.
G: Fair enough.

Later that day . . .
G: Are you ready to talk about what happened in P.E. today?
M: No. I really do not want to talk about it.
D: But you HAVE to talk about it. I HAVE to know what you did.
M: I just really don't want to.
G: Did you learn the lesson you were supposed to learn?
M: Yup.
G: Fair enough, then.

It is KILLING me to not know what happened in P.E, but I am resisting the urge to email the coach or call the teacher. Knowing Melody's personality, whatever happened will never happen again, she will give her actions and choices the weight of thought and consideration necessary. She already figured it out, the teacher handled it, why do I need to get involved?

It's strange having the girls in Kindergarten so many hours of so many days. It is odd seeing them do things and having them know things that I did not teach them. I think the hardest part is knowing that there are entire friendships I do not know about, feelings I am not privy to and thoughts that I do not know the origin of. They have experiences that I do not share in and it is so strange to me.

I am pretty sure I did the right thing, not pressing the issue. Not circumventing her decision to not tell me by asking the teacher, not nagging her or forcing the issue. She's such an autonomous creature, that girl.


Charlie's thinking this through

We were coming back from Target tonight and he gestured to the girls, saying, "Hey, Kids! It's time to come inside!" As I was turning off lights at bedtime, he insisted, "Don't need more dark. I need more light."

He says more and more these days, occasionally original in construct, but more often a direct quote or filling in the blank on a pre-fab sentence. I can completely hear Dowlan telling them the first quote and the second follows one of his common speech patterns, of "Don't need ____. Need _____." He also will exert "I'm ready to _____." or that "I do not like to ________."

It's amazing how well he communicates within these constraints, and we practice new phrases quite often.

Today, the girl we watch after school had changed into dress-up clothes when my girls did and I had sent her into their room to change back into her regular clothes. I could see Charlie looking at her, head cocked, thinking about how to put his thoughts together. He looked up with me, amazed, saying, "She has a button! She has a bee-button!"

It just seemed like it had never occurred to him that humans all have the same basic construct.

She thought it was silly that he seemed so impressed by her navel, answering, "Yeah, most people do."

I'm not around much right now, with all these crazy jobs, but I think the distance is giving me a different perspective on the boy chick.

Best part about it? I think he's starting to appreciate me in my absence. I have gotten two hugs this week, initiated by him.


Charlie's appointment

didn't go. Stupid insurance.


Charlie's Affinity for A's

So far, the boy has been diagnosed formally with Airway Disease, then Allergies, then Asthma. A diagnosis of Autism or Asperger's is in the works. You'd think he'd run out of ways to be defective that start with the letter A, but he's trying Amblyopia on for size.

His appointment is tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how it goes.