The Kindergarten Rodeo was great, but the Kindergarten Music Program really went to the dogs.


kindergarten graduation/music program

Forgive me for the cell phone pics--I forgot to copy over pics from dad's camera before Oma and Papa went home and Melody went back to the doghouse.


That dalmatian sensation had 12 lines of speaking part and was dubbed Dali Dalmatian for the evening. She also found her sister to be quite the chewy chihuahua.


After singing her duet, Dixie went from ears and tail to cap and gown.


I never could get a pic of Melody's half of the stage there. We then said goodbye to the sweet little school they've been at for three years now.





Kindergarten Rodeo

Last night, my dining room became a sweatshop for stickhorse manufacturing, complete with child labor.

kindergarten rodeo

Somehow, the child laborers didn't seem to mind.

kindergarten rodeo

kindergarten rodeo

After they went to bed, I stayed up a bit to make bows to match their horses' bridles. They sprung out of bed this morning, raring to go.

kindergarten rodeo

kindergarten rodeo

After taking an introductory lap each, the kids took their turns at barrel racing:

kindergarten rodeo

kindergarten rodeo

Then they had a bit of a break for craft time.

kindergarten rodeo

Charlie enjoyed the tug-of-war.

kindergarten rodeo

The kid in front of him really got into it.

kindergarten rodeo

Then, Charlie spied the gluten-in-a-bag and tried to get into it.

kindergarten rodeo

I want to be in Kindergarten.

kindergarten rodeo


I'm feeling a bit defeated.

We went another round with the school district today, work is overwhelming me and parenting doesn't get any easier with stress. Kindergarten graduation is Wednesday and there are all these little big things to prepare--dog costumes for their music programs, graduation robes to iron, stick horses for the rodeo, cowgirl outfits . . . all times two, of course. The kinds of things I love to do, minus the ironing, but that are nearly impossible to do when I work 9.5 hours at one job then drive fifteen minutes straight over to the other to work another 3.25. The nights I don't go to Sylvan, Dowlan immediately hands over the household reigns and goes out to do the census. Weekends are no better.

I can't sleep. Between the stress, head cold and the ($#&*#$(*@# who crank called us three times at 2:00 this morning, I haven't had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in days. I'm also coping with the recent death of my laptop power cord. Fortuntately, I had the good sense to use it's final draining battery power on ebay, buying a new cord.

The kids are all healthy again and Charlie's concussion seems to have had no lasting effects. He's been giving voluntary hugs and kisses lately, which is an improvement over claiming he was allergic to me.

And there's all that other whole heap of stuff I just don't want to tell you all about.

I'm tired. If you pray, say a little prayer for us.


Today, I learned . . .

There's a kids' show called JoJo's Circus about a preschool-aged clown girl who lives in Circus Town. At the end of the each episode, someone asks her what she learned today. A little snappy song starts and she finds herself whisked onto a stage and says something like, "Today I learned that if you blahablahblabhalbha . . . "

Well, today Charlie learned that if you stick your hand down your throat, you throw up. And Charlie finds throwing up really, really funny.

I needed more laundry to do.


He makes a good point

Yesterday, Dowlan noticed that Charlie would say, "That was a good cough," after each little coughing spell.

Dowlan, finding this odd, asked him, "Why is it a good cough?"

"Good cough, you take medicine. Bad cough, you go to the doctor." Charlie loves pink medicine and hates doctors.

I think his brain is finally in good working order.


Dixie's better, so it's Melody's turn to be sick. Fortunately, Dowlan's over it and I seem yet unscathed.

Charlie's acting much more like Charlie these days. I'd say he's up to 85%, cognitively speaking. Respiratory-wise, he's not doing so well. His little cold from the weekend is turning into some asthma fun.

Cute and funny stuff will return as soon as the cute and funny people are cute and funny again.


Ah, motherhood

Motherhood is cleaning your way through a never-ending sea of bodily fluids, and tonight was a crowning moment on what has been a long and awful week.

After a morning of cleaning, a few hours of work, a miserable boy at a birthday party, and dinner with a high school friend during which I counted it a good thing that the nearest patrons were clearly deaf, I was tired by the time jammie time hit tonight. At 7 o'clock, Dowlan was still out working the census, but the kids and I occupied one couch through two fantastic episodes of Doctor Who.

Charlie had crashed on the couch and I moved him to his bed. The girls brush their teeth and Melody heads to bed to listen to the next chapter of Farmer Boy. Dixie goes to the bathroom and begins howling.

Problem is, bedtime often invokes howling. It's hard to know when to take it seriously. She wanders into the living room, lies on the the trampoline with a pillow, and tries to sleep there. I prod her back into her room and she begins begging for food.

I get her an apple and start reading about Almanzo Wilder and his family preparing for the winter. I put the book away, go to turn on the air and return to find a rather sick girl. I'll spare you details.

When we moved the girls out of toddler beds, I saved the crib mattresses, thinking we might need them for a night when family is in town and we want to stick the girls on the floor. This is the second time this week I have been very happy to be able to place a plastic-covered mattress draped with towels in the middle of a wooden floor for the night.

While I was writing, I heard her stir and went in to check on her. She's a sweaty-headed little thing, but seems to not be feeling too badly.

(For those keeping up on other matters, Charlie had a good two-hour stretch in which he was acting very Charlie-like. His ARD has been rescheduled for the next week and my advocate told me not to worry--she's not surprised and we'll get an external evaluation. I also have an appointment June 24th with the geneticist to get the run-down on the missing chromosomal material that Charlie and I both have. I have another 7 work days at my full-time temp job and Dowlan is still working the census. Kindergarten graduation is coming up and I can't quite believe it.)

He's perking up

It's been room cleaning morning for the girls and I. Charlie grogged around a bit, had a little breakfast and has started playing with his Hot Wheels. He stops now and then long enough to fuss at the girls or tell them what to do.

It's been my first morning at home in so long and I'm enjoying it.



Three days after the head injury, Charlie's still not eating, still groggy, still off. He'll start talking, then pause with a little panicked look in his eyes because he can't find the word.

His occupational therapist ran him through a few things today and found nothing to be overly concerned about. His coordination hasn't worsened and he doesn't seem to have lost any intellectual capacity.

It's just those pesky words.

After that, Dowlan took him to the doctor. There are no signs of lasting damage or infection. He said he'll eat when he's ready to eat. Just make sure to keep him hydrated and keep it low-key.

Low-key is pretty easy to do right now. He perks up for 15-20 minute spurts, before lolling around again. He even behaved in Wal*Mart yesterday. If that won't rile him up, nothing will.

I just don't know.



Charlie spent the day sleeping it off. So did Dowlan. We canceled speech therapy, skipped gymnastics and tried to get some liquids into him. We were slightly more successful with liquids than solids, but neither were very impressive amounts. He perked up enough to play for a few 15 minute spurts. He threw up a bit more, and is still not talking right.

If things aren't better by morning, Dowlan's going to run him to the pediatrician.

The girls have started asking how many days of school left, over and over and over again. They still have kindergarten rodeo, end of year parties and a music program before graduation.

It's so hard to believe that we're ready for first grade!
Charlie was fine through the night. He stirred and responded when we woke him. No more throwing up. Dowlan will keep a close eye on him today.

I was getting dressed for work and Melody came in.

Melody: I had my first boy dream last night.
Gretchen: Really? (ack!) What was it about?
Melody: Transformers.



Another Hospital Holiday

Charlie has a great fondness for emergency rooms, especially for injuries involving his head. This afternoon, he fell off his bike and hit his head on the concrete curb.

We came in and laid him down on the couch with an ice pack. After about half an hour, he fell asleep. I thought about keeping him awake, but the boy had been playing hard and could use the nap. Because he'd been talking to me and his pupils looked okay, I let him snooze.

After awhile, I went shopping to buy myself something for mother's day (don't ask) and Dowlan called. Charlie had woken up and threw up.

I head home, he's in the tub when I get there. After I'm there to watch him, Dowlan goes to steam clean the couch. Charlie's playing and talking, so I think again that he's fine. Then he lays down in the tub. I'm not sure if he's swimming or trying to go to sleep.

Mommy: Charlie, don't lie down in the tub.
Charlie: What does 'lie down' mean?
M: Lying down is when you go flat. Like you do in your bed.
C: I go to bed in the nighttime?
M: Yes, when it is nighttime. But don't lie down in the bathtub.
C: What is lie down?
M: When you aren't standing or sitting. When your body is flat.
C: hm.
M: I can take you to the couch if you want to lie down. But not in the bathtub.
C: What is a bathtub?

Yeah. We'd had some odd conversations up til that moment, but it's really hard to tell when Charlie is out of it. He's often an odd companion. Not knowing what the bathtub he's sitting in is? Freak out time. Get him out of the tub (pause while he throws up again) and he can't really walk to me. Even while getting him dressed, he keeps trying to nod off.

Take the girls to a neighbor, go to the ER. He throws up on the way.

We didn't think to grab spare clothes, so we wrap him in Melody's spring green cardigan and a blanket. They get us back quickly after a blood pressure test and a rectal temperature in triage. (He wouldn't let it near his mouth.)

We get into a room, where he becomes fond of the little bowl they give him to throw up in.


Nurse comes in, doctor comes. He does the CAT scan and I'm pretty proud of him. We'd told him he was going to go visit a robot. He looked ready to freak out, and his eyes kept darting side to side. I could tell he was waiting to see what it was going to do to him. When it really didn't do anything except move him around a bit and buzz, he was okay.

While we're waiting for results, he throws up on Dowlan, so they both get gowns. Spend half an hour talking about Jonah and the Whale because of the whales on the gown. Then he falls asleep.


Doctor came in to tell us it was a mild concussion. Gave him some anti-nausea meds. Told us to watch him. Sends us home.

Charlie wakes up long enough to throw up one more time, then attach himself to the Jonah gown he saw us leaving on the bed. We steal it. Yeah. Turn us in for that one.

We got the girls from the neighbors and they're asleep. Dowlan and Charlie are set up in Charlie's room with some towels and a bucket, alarm set to wake him up every two hours all night.

It's going to be fun making it to work at 7 in the morning. Happy Mother's Day!


So I interpreted that wrong

The calling of an ARD was not to admit him into the program, but to dismiss him.

Although every other professional that works with him--his pediatrician, neurologist, occupational therapists, speech therapist--have done screenings, tests and evaluations that are in direct contrast to what their findings are, those are just documents in the file that mean nothing.

I know he has had drastic improvement over the last year due to therapies, dietary changes and the work that Dowlan and I put in every single day. But having been able to work through some of his limitations so that they now only present as mild weaknesses not significant deficiencies does not mean that there is no problem.

Just because Tylenol brings down your fever, doesn't mean you don't have one.


Good News/Strange News

I heard back from the school district yesterday. They have completed the reports for Charlie's evaluation and are going to have me come look at them in the next few days.

They have scheduled his ARD for May 18th. That stands for Admission, Review, Dismissal and is a meeting they have with parents and key players when making decisions about a student's IEP (Individualized Education Plan). It means, in short, that they have finally decided to offer special ed services/supports for him.

Our foot is in the door.

I have no idea what they're going to try to put into his IEP or if the services they offer will be appropriate for his needs, but they've essentially admitted that Charlie needs help.

Now on to the odd bit.

The neurologist's office called yesterday to say that the genetic screening for me came back. The results show that I have the same chromosomal deletion that Charlie presents. We're supposed to meet with a geneticist to learn what that means.

Learning that just felt odd. Weighty. The teeniest bit guilty, even if that is irrational.

One of my imaginary friends put it this way yesterday:

Well, I kinda look at it like this-you and Dowlan made Charlie and he is the guy he is supposed to be.

He has your love of asparagus and Dowlan's eye's-your hair color and Dowlan's temperament- the same quirkiness as you and the same predisposition to diabetes or heart disease or any other of a million things that happen to the human body during the process of Life that he inherited from his father.

It is what it is.

You cannot help the DNA that you pass to your children any more than your parents can for what they handed to you.


Lady at Church: Oooh, I like your green nail polish, Charlie.
Charlie: I like your butt head.


Charlie's new favorite word? Butthead. Followed by a close second: Mashed Potato. He told me today, "I punch you in the face til you mashpotato head, butthead.

Then, when I wouldn't let him punch me in the face, he punched himself in the face a few times. And then a few more. And a couple more.

Despite his current fun streak, there are times when he is absolutely adorable. Yesterday morning, neither Dowlan nor I was ready to get up when Charlie was ready for us to get up. So he said, "You get up now? Here. I show you how!" and demonstrated sliding off the side of the bed. He threw in a little gymnast 'ta-da' for good measure before turning to look expectantly at daddy.

This afternoon at the children's musical put on at our church, Charlie was so excited to see the whale. He liked the whale on the program, loved the whale that the little girl had behind him and kept asking for Jonah. Halfway through the show, the enormous blue whale came down the aisle and he started asking, "Charlie in the whale? I go in the whale?" I told him, "There's no story of Charlie and the Whale! It's Jonah and the Whale."

He thinks about it a few minutes before asking, "My name be Jonah?"

Good try, kid. Good try.
Last night, I dreamed that we were on vacation and staying at your average side-of-the-highway motel. We go down to the pool to let the kids swim and there are dolphins in it. The girls get their floaties on, grab a fin and hop on.

This week, Grandma Jane has been in town to pick the girls up from school and watch them in the afternoons while Dowlan and I are both at work. They've gone swimming every afternoon, but there were no dolphins.

How disappointing.