it's my mommyversary!

Oh, and Melody's birthday as well. We've been quite the team for seven years now! I can't believe my little squishball baby can read and write and think and all that good stuff that seven year olds can do.

She can even aim into a cup when she's carsick!

I know. Great story to use, right? But you'll love it.

Last week, we learned that my cousin, who just moved to the town we left last August, has cancer. (This is the part of the story that is not to love. The part that is incredibly unfair and makes me want to scream and throw things. But also the part of the story I'm hoping you'll say a prayer about before going on to the rest of the cute funny kid story.)

Dowlan and I went back to our old house to clear it out after the renter (who had not left yet and is being evicted. I know . . . this story just has all kinds of happy twists) and then spend the weekend with my cousin, her family and her mom/my aunt. Because my children aren't exactly of an age to be helpful in crisis situations, we left them with my parents to enjoy their weekend of spoilage while Dowlan and I headed off to do the dirty work.

We were seven miles from mom's when Melody announces "I feel rather unwell in my tummy," which, as we know, is how all children speak a few days before their seventh birthday (or at least the ones on British cartoons). I grab an empty 32 oz styrofoam cup and quote that sage-of-our-times, Wayne Campbell: If you're going to spew, spew in this.

She holds it for a minute or two as the urge passes, then returns it. Dowlan (inexplicably) tries to offer her a beverage, only to learn that her only option is old, flat Diet Coke. Charlie pounces on the old, flat Diet Coke offer and downs a watery ounce or two before it is retrieved. This proffering is in a cup identical to the empty cup and I don't think Charlie realizes that there are two cups.

A minute or two later, Melody has an urgent request for the returning of the cup. As I am now a mere three miles from my mother's house, I keep driving. Her aim is accurate; stopping will do no good.

When she is finished, there is an odd pause before Charlie says, "We're going to need some more Diet Coke."

He thinks about it a moment longer.

"And a new cup."


Gecko Love

Dixie: That's it! No more gecko love!
Melody: Mo-om! Dixie said, 'No more gecko love!'
Gretchen: Uh . . . what's gecko love?
Melody: when we look at each other and stick our tongues out. And in. And out. And in. And out and in and out and in and out and in and out and in.
Gretchen: Ah, get her mad enough and the tongue will come right back out.
Dixie: Mo-om! Melody's being mean to me and I can't stick my tongue out at her because it will only make her happy!


Tonight, Melody came along while I got supplies to start birthday party preparations. In the store, she told me that it bothered her that only the girls in her class were being invited to her party. She said, "The boys are my friends, too. We play crazy games at recess while the girls are busy talking about . . . I don't know what."

Ah, what's another dozen hand-made invitations?

We went for some pizza at Cici's and chatted a bit. Sometimes it's nice to carb-load when Mr. Gluten Free isn't around. While there, I mentioned that Miss Mindy knows of a place here that's like the one Kris-Kreen worked at. If we wanted to start helping people again, we know where to help now.

Her eyes lit up.

Then we headed up to my school to make a few more invitations. While I was cutting things out, she found some loose change in my desk and started asking what we could use for a bank at the new house.

She's just so big. So seven-year-old-ish. And awesome!


Something I Always Meant to Tell You About

I have this friend named Christine. When the girls were little, they called her Kris-Kreen, so she still gets called that a lot. Kris-Kreen works at a domestic violence shelter and is always in the mood for donations of any type. So now, when I go through junk to clear it out, I offer it to her before taking it to the Salvation Army. In fact, I used to have a laundry basket that I kept in my closet and would throw stuff in there as I came across it. We had a standing date every week and I'd give her the basket one week and get it back the next.

At least a year ago, I went through the toy cabinets and got rid of a lot of things the girls had stopped playing with as they got older. One of the things I passed on to Kris-Kreen was a toy that Grandma had gotten Melody for Christmas two years prior.

At least four months had passed and no one had missed it. It was a 4-year-old toy and I had six-year-old girls, afterall, but I had not been diligent enough in collecting all the pieces. One day, we're cleaning up their room and Melody finds a piece that was behind their dresser and she ran to put it with the rest of the toy. Unable to find it in it's usual spot, she starts frantically searching for it. When I tell her that I gave it away, she becomes hysterical, then despondent. I try to tell her, 'If you haven't missed it in four months, it can't have been all that important,' but this does not help matters.

Once she has had time to calm down, I explain to her, 'Kris-Kreen works with boys and girls who do not have good daddies. Their mommies take them to a new home to be safe, but they have to leave quickly to go there. They often don't have anything besides the clothes they're wearing when they get there. They may have a stuffed animal that is precious like Dixie's Baby Elephant, but they certainly don't have nice toys like that one to play with once they get to their safe new home. Christine helps those boys and girls and their mommies. One of the ways she helps them, is that she gives them clothes, books and toys. That is why I take her the things that we don't need anymore.'

She pauses in her sniffles and looks up, wide-eyed. "Well, that means we need to find more things to give her!" The girls finished cleaning their rooms and also filled up a large sack of things. We talked about how they don't want broken junk; they need things they can actually used. So they tested the toys and made sure they rounded up parts and sets and such.

Then, Melody comes to me with her purse, asking if they can use money. I tell her that she always needs money to help with diapers and things. She opens it up and has a ten dollar bill and a one dollar bill inside. I think that most kids would give the one dollar bill, but Melody, with only the slightest hesitation, hands me the larger bill.

Then Dixie started a money jar. Any coins found around the house were always thrown in it, and then given to Kris-Kreen every week. They would earn money to put in it if they felt they weren't finding enough spare change. In fact, we were at Walgreens one day and Melody found some pennies and a dime on the ground outside. She immediately picked them up and said, "Oooh, we can take this and give it to the babies at the shelter who need diapers!" A woman walking by paused, and then gave Melody her change to add to it.

From about April until we moved in August, every cent found, even some tooth fairy money, was given for this purpose. Toys we came across were given as well as clothes as they were grown out. It was such a heart-swelling thing as a mom, to have such eager and compassionate children.

More reasons I miss home!


Charlie the yogi

With colder weather, comes extra time spent on the Wii. Normally Charlie prefers 'ford fighting' (swordfighting) or 'punching da guys' (boxing). In fact, he will pretend to play the boxing game in his carseat on roadtrips, even singing the little victory song at the end of a round.

A few weeks ago, we had this conversation:

Charlie: Mama, next time I need to punch a guy, you take off my shirt?
Gretchen: Why do you need your shirt off to punch a guy?
C: Dey like it when I punch da guy. But dey don't like my shirt. Dey dest like it when I got da gween pants on.
G: Well, take off your own shirt.
C: I tan't do dat. But you can do dat for me. Deal?
G: No deal. You have to learn to prepare for your own battles in life.

I try to only purchase Wii games that involve movement and activity. I' m not generally a fan of video games for the 4-7 crowd, but I like the indoor exercise that it encourages. We have the Fit Plus with the balance board, the Sports Resort, the Fitness Coach and I just ordered the Active Life Explorer, which promises to be Indiana Jones-like in its games.

Today, we get home from school, do a little homework and eat a little popcorn. Charlie gets first crack at the Wii and chooses to do a 15 minute yoga routine. Watching his little awkward body try to bend and twist lithely from pose to pose with his boo-tah-day in the air and oversized head aimed at the screen provided great entertainment. Melody came in to do it with him and attempted to coach him along. I told her she'd be better off just doing it next to him, so a slightly-larger little awkward body went from forward bend to downward dog to crocodile and back.

Today, Charlie is wearing a little stripey gymboree one piece romper with a  puppy face in the front and a puppy tail appliqued on the heiny. So each time he did downward dog, his little tail was in the air. And each time the fitness coach said 'downward dog' he and Melody both let out a tiny, strained, 'bark!'


Charlie has started his new school, but I have no idea how it is going, as he won't tell me about anything other than the bus ride.

Since I was out sick on Wednesday, I got to see him board the bus on his first day to ride it. He looked so tiny going up those huge steps with his backpack on.

(It also put a weird lump in my throat to see my kid get on a short bus.)

At the end of the first day, I asked, "Did you like Garcia's class?" and only got a, "Yeah."

At the end of the second day, I got to hear that, "The bus is bumpy."

At the end of the third day, "The bus is bigger than your PennyVann."

By the fourth day, we were back to, "The bus is bumpy."

Dixie is having a better week in school. She finally got enough good days saved up to hit the treasure box and is so excited! Her teacher was out, and the sub said she had to wait until Monday, but she's fine with that.

And Melody is reading her first chapter book.


Poor Skeletons

This morning, I woke up in my own bed, flanked by girls in matching pink flannel cat jammies. Dixie was wearing the smaller pair with her ankles and wrists showing; Melody was swamped by the larger pair. I get up to head for coffee and a sleepy head emerges from the couch.

Me: Good morning, Tawie!
Charlie: When you want to say my name, you dest say, 'Chaw-Chaw-Chawie!'
Me: Good morning, ChaChaCharlie.
Charlie:  Dis mornin', when you're at work, can we watch Scooby-Dooby-Doo? Simon [the cat] wants to watch it to. He can watch it because he has eyes. People have eyes too. Except skeletons. Dey cannot watch Scooby-Dooby-Doo.