Additional Pet Request

Charlie would like a pet bumblebee, so he could swordfight with it. But not if it's going to bite him or give him a kiss.

I think I'm going to say no on this one.

All else is well. Going as smoothly as things could go having one parent home with three children and having to catch buses by the dawn's early light.


Halloween Costume Requests

Melody would like to be Princess Leia in her white robe and sticky bun hair.

Dixie would like to be Princess Leia in her slave getup that Jabba the Hut makes her wear.

Charlie would also like one of Dixie's costume, but with a slight twist. "I want to be Pwincess Leia in her funky underwear but for a man."



Nocturnal Nomads

I have often said that, if my house were ever to burn down, all the children would have to fend for themselves because no one could find them.

I swear that I put them to sleep in the same place in their own beds each night, but they can't seem to stay there.

While it has improved since the small piece of velcro days in that their midnight meanderings no longer involve them adhering to my person, I still wish that they would simply stay put.

Saturday morning, Charlie stumbles into my room at about four o'clock. I wake up enough to realize that I'm not making it til dawn without a trip to the bathroom, so I let him know that I'm going to the potty, but will be right back to snuggle.

"I can come wif you to da bafroom. Dat wey I can watch you, if you leave da lights off. I do not like da nighttime wif da lights on, but if you leave da lights off, I can come wif you to da bafroom. If da lights are off, I can come wif you and dat wey you are not alone in dere. But do not leave da lights on because den I don't like dat when da lights are on in da nighttime."

With the sprawling, tunnel-like layout of our house, all that can be said (with great pauses) in the time it takes two people to go from bedroom to playroom, through office through living room through kitchen, into hallway and into the bathroom. It's not even that large of a house--it's just very maze-like.

I always imagined that having children would mean never being alone. Apparently, it also means never peeing alone.

So I go pee in the dark with Charlie holding my hand. After a brief discussion on hand-washing technique, I begin to head back to my room. Charlie stops me and says, "Let's go sweep in my woom. My bed is by da window. Dat way da moon can see me frew da window. Da moon likes to watch me while I'm sleepin'."

After adjusting the body pillow, throw pillows, pillow and pillow pets, I climb into bed with Charlie, who, having the opposite sort of problem from Harold and the Purple Crayon, cannot find the moon outside his window.

I tell him every thing I can think of to possibly get him to lay down and go back to sleep. I think what finally worked was, "It may have gone looking for you. Lay right here so that, when it comes back to find you, you're there."

I may have slept almost forty minutes before the girl nomads began their pre-dawn treks. At one point, with three females and a feline taking up his mattress, Charlie got up and went to the couch.

Smart man.


Why Trees Are Dangerous

(according to Melody)

1. If it is a coconut tree, a coconut could just fall off at any minute and BOP you on the head and that would really hurt.

2. Even if it's not a coconut tree, say you were playing ball earlier and the ball was stuck in the tree and you forgot about it, but later you're playing under the tree and the wind blows and the branches move and BOP! there goes your head again!

3. If you're touching a tree and it starts to rain, lightning could get you.

She then moved to the perils of dirt.


I forgot to mention

When I took Dixie and Charlie to the pediatrician for their annual checkups, I was impressed at how much time she took with us. She was thorough and seemed to listen.

All is well with Dixie. She had lost some weight when we changed her meds earlier in the year, but she's gained some of it back. She's gotten taller as well.

Charlie is not growing quite so well. In the last year, he only gained four ounces and grown less than an inch. At 34 lbs, he weighs what an average two-and-a-half year old weighs. He wears 2T clothing, except for pants. I buy him 3T to be long enough, but sew darts in to keep them up.

He's always been small, as has Melody, but he's always grown before. Melody grew on her own slower curve, but she grew every year except for during the waiting-for-a-tonsillectomy fiasco.

So his new diagnosis is Failure to Thrive. I've never known someone diagnosed FTT who was this old, so I really don't know what to think and have successfully avoided Dr. Google.

Mid-September, we get to go visit a pediatric gastroenterologist who, thankfully, comes to our small town two days a month for appointments.

His speech therapist is going to do some tests for sensitivities and mouth problems. I'll give him 2 cans of Pediasure a day. Depending on what the new specialist says, he may end up in eating therapy once a week at the same place he does speech and occupational therapy.

I'll keep you posted.


The Church Balcony

is sometimes not isolated enough.

During the opening hymn, Charlie attempted to drown out all that boring Jesus stuff with his well-choreographed and sound-effect-enhanced rendition of Everybody Was Kung Fu Fightin.

I know we are, during publicly led prayers, encouraged to add our own thoughts and pleas towards the Heavenly Father. God is now completely up-to-date on Charlie's deep and abiding thankfulness for chocolate, Hot Wheels, stickers and an entire host of specific candy varieties.

Then it was time to sing (and dance) to the Y.M.C.A. This, naturally, sparked Melody's long-standing diatribe on why it is still called the YMCA when both men and women now use it.

At least no one was punched, like in the first song.

Then Charlie begins what I like to refer to as Chocolate Bieber:
"Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, O!" instead of "Baby, baby, baby Oh!"
It's still an improvement over Baby Bieber, which goes something like "Diaper, diaper, diaper BUTT!"

Especially given the location.

At this point, I leave the girls sitting side-by-side on the pew, sharing a hymnal and working through the next few songs. I take Charlie to the aisle where i rock, squeeze, say, rub and, essentially, sensory-input the devil out of him.

He'd calmed back down just in time for the sermon, perfectly-timed, about Jesus calming the storm a and about what a hard day that had been for him. Finding out John the Baptist had been beheaded, trying to have some time alone only to be followed by 5000 men + women and children, preaching to them all and then feeding them fishes and loaves. Walking on water, then letting Peter take it out for a spin.

The whole time, Charlie sat perfectly upright and still next to me. The only motion was opening his mouth for the pinched-off bit of pink Starburst candy that was delivered approximately every two minutes. Two squares of candy lasted through all but the last two sermon points and a sheet of race car stickers covered the rest.

But then it was time to sing again. And, apparently, kung-fu fight some more. If only the calming would last. Jesus and I would have both had better days.


Next project

is Dixie's quilt. I bought her fabric for her birthday and got this far today:


It's going to be quite cute.

Here are some better windowseat pics:

My mom hosts a family reunion at the end of every June. People bring all sorts of interesting things to share like crafts and pics. This year, my Great-Uncle Gene had moved into a smaller house and brought several quilt tops and quilts of his mother's. He spread them out on the lawn for people to choose.

I got this fantastic queen-sized top, intending to finish it and use it in Charlie's room. It's 2" squares, completely hand pieced and then did a vibrant red stitching pattern between the pieces. All of the fabrics are double-knits, that I'm assuming were clothes from the 60s and 70s.


Even the heavy green fringe was made by hand.


When I started looking it over, I realized it was so heavy that, by the time I added batting and backing, it would be too warm to ever be used in west Texas. The top itself weight at least twenty pounds. I hated to think that it would sit in a linen closet, unused because it never got cold enough.

The project of cushions for the windowseat had been in the back of my mind since buying the house. After pricing out foams and not being able to agree on fabrics, we decided that this would be the perfect use for the quilt top. After all, Great-Great-Aunt Leona did not pour her time into this for it to sit in a closet, never used. This is a space the entire family uses, and on a daily basis.

And perhaps it's the old-fashioned girl in me, but this just looks a lot more home-like and cozy than it would with prissy decorator fabrics.



I finished something!

Don't seem so surprised.

Before I show off my work, I'd like to reminisce that it was one year ago today that I first showed up for work in our new town, 209 miles from home. When I am frustrated with myself that I am not further along in organizing the house, I remind myself of how crazy those days were. Get hired, show up 8 days later, find a house in five days and sign papers, bring the family to start school, stay in one room of a friend's for seven weeks, travel every weekend to pack and say goodbye, start a new job, get the new house in October, and come down with mono in November while hosting Thanksgiving.

I'm still tired from that mono, but even more tired thinking about it all.

About four months ago, the girls decided they wanted birds. We went through several ideas before settling on two parakeets. Charlie could choose the green one and the girls could choose the other one together. They would get a cage from their Oma.

They've done dishes, put away laundry, swept things, fetched things, cleaned up the yard, picked up sticks before mowing, even saved their spending money from camp. Dixie's birthday swag put them over the $45 goal by $14. A good thing, since we spent $57 and change today on food, gravel, water dish, food bowl and a cuttle bone.

Oh, and these guys.


Dot is female and blue and Perry is male and green. We think.

While the kids spent their afternoon sticking fingers in the cage, I sewed.


Because of the window in the background, I'm going to have to wait til dark for better pics.


In our house is this fabulous window seat, flanked by built-in bookshelves and overlooking the play area of the backyard. Underneath is Dowlan's technology storage chasm that I don't attempt to explore. Now on top are three cushions that I sewed using a quilt top I got this summer, two pillows I got cheap at Wal*Mart and two girls.


When it's dark outside and I can get a better picture, I'll tell you more about the quilt top.



Dixie is 8.

I'm not sure how that happened, exactly.

Charlie is 5.

Melody got her half. She is 7.5.

In two weeks, I will have three full-time school-aged kids. The girls are in 2nd grade. Charlie's in PPCD.

Every day, Melody empties the dishwasher and Dixie sweeps a porch. We have three porches, so she rotates through. Melody brings me the paper each morning and Dixie brings me the mail each afternoon.

All three of them are old enough to independently tidy a bed and clean a room.

Yesterday, the girls went to see the musical Hairspray with me and behaved. They understood enough to have philosophical discussion about it's central themes of racism and acceptance afterwards. There was that dicey moment where Mel, in the middle of an all-black dance number, burst out with, "She's right! They DO dance better than the white people!" Other than that, they made for good dates to the theatre.

Both girls are old enough to read chapter books in a waiting room or on a car trip. I frequently lose them in the house only to find them holed up somewhere with a library book.

It's just crazy.

Four years ago this month, when I started this blog, I had

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and a

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What I've been doing

It started yesterday when I got all of Dixie's clothes out to go through them and get rid of what is too stained, too out or too short for school, pass a few things on to Melody and reorganize things. Halfway through, Melody got a nosebleed that lasted a good ten minutes and part of that clean-up was starting a load of laundry.

I finished Dixie's clothes and had just gotten Melody's all brought into the living room when I realized it was time to make lunch. Not wanting to be overly interrupted by cooking, I went to the deep freeze for what should have been frozen fish sticks.


The deep freeze has needed defrosting for about a month and I was waiting for Dowlan to come home so that he could do the grunting and pushing part. Despite having knocked off some chunks of ice and giving the door a good shove, the ice had pushed the door open.

Fishsticks in oven, I lay down a towel, grab a laundry basket, fill it with all teh food, cram the ice cream into the other freezer and remove all the pet and laundry supplies from off the top of the freezer. I then realize that the last time Dowlan had to get to the hot water heater, he failed to move the stacked washer/dryer completely back into place.

(I tried to find a picture of the space, but this is the best I came up with)

new house

Apparently, I can shove two appliances eight inches if I really have to.

Washer/Dryer aside, I began to pull the upright deep freeze forward, only to realize the cord is preventing removal. I shimmy Melody back there, almost burning her on the coils, just to learn that she cannot pull the heavy-duty appliance plug out of the outlet. She can, however, gett it off the thing it's stuck on so that I can get back there.

Unplugged, I wiggle it outside while she turns on the hose. Once sprayed out, she turns off the water, then runs in for a towel. I leave it on the back porch to dry for a moment while I go in to clean the wet, gross floor and hey! There's my ironing board!

Three weeks ago I'd given up on ever finding it again and bought one. Silly me, I didn't think to look for it behind the washer/dryer.

There, I am faced with a Jedi, compelling me to 'choose your weapon.'

I try to grab the pistol, but he really wants that one, so I opt for the green light sabre and start mopping. He won't let me set it down and I have no pocket, so it goes in my bra. This adds an extra element of fun that most housekeepers just don't get to have. Periodically, I pull it out, fend off an attack, then return to the floor.

I get it all cleaned up, dried off, back in place, food back in, stuff back on top, back to clothes, but first I have to knock the coffee filter out of the top of the trashcan, sprinkling wet grounds everywhere.

Bless you, Melody, for your willingness to vacuum things. Then back to laundry.

I learn that the state is asking residences to turn off all unneeded electrical draws from 3-7 to keep the grid from having blackouts. I stop running more laundry, turn off the computer and lights, then get a few more of Melody's things squared away before leaving to pick up Dixie, take the kids to Burger King and the library to use their air-conditioning and coming home to get them to bed and do more laundry.

I'd stayed up late to get things squared away and in decent shape. The last load was washed at about midnight. Sure enough, Dixie dropped her entire cereal bowl on me this morning, splashing it's milky way down all our clothing and onto the rug. I remember thinking 'and just when I ran out of things to wash with it' and took her to gymnastics camp.

I regret thinking that, as it is likely what triggered Charlie to wet the bed. My bed. Two loads of laundry later, I am 31 minutes from having every stitch of clothing and bedding in the house clean.

If only it would last.


Daddy's Brilliance

Last May, Charlie got to pick out his very own book at the school's Book Fair. It was a big deal to get to pick and an even bigger deal because he found the perfect book.

1. It is about Hot Wheels.
2. They race inside a volcano.
3. The green car wins.
4. The green car in the book is a car that he has.

Could it get any better?

Inside the front cover is a preprinted bookplate area that reads, "This book belongs to:"

Dowlan filled it out with his complete name, address and phone number. I teased him about this being excessive--I know it seems like the end of the world if he loses the book, but I doubt anyone will return it.

He said, "That's not why I wrote it. I wrote it because he makes me read this book to him ten times a day. Every single word. And if I read his full name, address and phone number to him often enough, he will learn them."


Months later, this book is still read at least two or three times a day and Charlie now reads along with the name and address. He's still not too sure about the phone number, but it's progress!


Good Newses

There are two of them, so I had to make News plural, of course. And both of them happened last Thursday.

Charlie's therapies (speech and OT) happen each week and the cost for each half-hour session is $90, of which our co-pay is $32.74.

It really adds up. Each month can cost us nearly $300 and he's been attending since January. When you add up all the other copays for dental, medical, prescriptions and counseling, we can easily spend half my monthly paycheck just keeping us all healthy and sane.

I was willing to do whatever it took to pay it, as the center is absolutely fantastic. His therapists keep up with advances and have an amazing way with children. It also happens to be a non-profit and we applied several months ago for some assistance and then promptly stopped paying our bills while we awaited a decision.

When we took him in last Thursday, I finally got there early enough to ask if they knew anything. Four people later, an irked-with-her-coworker administrative assistant came out to tell me that we were still missing a step.

Great. Having had Medicaid experiences with Melody, I was already prepared for another long haul.

Turns out the step was simple--I signed my name on a piece of paper. She started to walk away and I asked what percentage would be covered, thinking that a third or half of that would make my day.



Earlier that morning, I'd finally gotten organized enough to make a phone call. Since Dowlan left to work in another city, I'd been anxious about school transportation. Charlie is bussed to his school, but I was going to have to figure out how to be there to meet his buses, get the girls to their school (now 4 miles away instead of 2 blocks like their old one) and get to me at school by 7:20.

I could drop the girls off as early as 7, but the wild card was Charlie's bus schedule. If his pick up window was 6:40-7, this could perhaps work. If it was 7-7:20 it could not possibly work. If 7:20-7:40, I could take the girls, then have his bus get him from my campus. (Last year, they picked him up at our house and dropped him off, at the end of the day, by my classroom. They're a bit flexible with SpEd kids.)

If his bus were early or late, this would not work. The weeks I have 7 a.m. morning duty it would certainly not work.

Then there is the matter of afterschool care for the girls. No offense to anyone who works in one or whose children are in one, but I am not a fan of the ones I have seen. The environment is loud and chaotic, the children not well supervised.

But while having lunch with some coworkers on Monday, the counselor pointed out that the girls can be bussed, because they are at the magnet school.

I called The Bus Guy. He told me that the girls CAN be bussed, but that GT busing will not pick up at the home like SpEd busing. They will have to be picked up at their home campus and returned there.

I asked if it made a difference which campus--I mean, they are already picking a few kids up from the school I teach at, so it wouldn't add to their trip. He agreed that that would be fine.

So all I have to do now is get us all dressed and to my school in the morning (I say like it is so easy, right?) They can catch their buses outside my door, as my room is on the back edge of campus by where the buses go anyways. In the afternoons, they will be delivered to my door.



Mildy Embarassing Internet Fondness

I love woot.com and so do my imaginary friends.

See, I have a motherboard I belong to of other Sanctimommies and Lazymommies (and Everymommy in between). Many years ago, someone introduced us to Woot and got us all hooked.

Their business model is simple: sell one item a day. When it is gone, go home. You may order 1, 2, or 3 of that item and pay the same flat rate shipping of $5. A ball point pen or a washer and dryer set have the same shipping, as do three ball point pens or three washer dryer sets. In the last 4 years, I've bought 1,2, or 3 of 76 items. Some of them are vitally useful like bacon salt or flying screaming monkeys, some completely ridiculous like robot vacuum cleaners or Mp3 players.

Over the years they have expanded to include kids.woot, shirt.woot, sellout.woot and wine.woot. The shirts are geekishly fabulous and all the other stuff, like all wootables, is refurbs, overstock and things you didn't know you needed til you saw it there. (Like the universal remote with ten buttons to pre-program your favorite channels into with little labels to stick next to those buttons. Perfect for those of us with 100 channels, four of which we actually watch.)

When they get a miscellaneous pileup of junk, they have a woot-off. It is recognizable by its flashing yellow lights and volume bar. Once all of that item has sold, the next appears. These go for up to three days. During that time, we'd start a thread on our mommy message board and hang out on the thread, hitting F5 in anticipation of the next item.

A group of about of us bonded over these threads and splintered off. Fourteen of us still remain and meet up once a year. Through these women, I have gotten to go to places like California and Chicago, gotten really good parenting advice and, occasionally, been talked off the ledge.

I've developed deep and lasting friendships, but what I'm really after is crap. Random Bag of Crap, at $8.33 including tax and shipping, could be anything from a Roomba or a Wii to a bag of Genuine Texas Air.

Seven times have I gotten Crap and seven times has it pretty much been crap.

Well, while meeting up in the D-FW Metroplex this weekend, we went on a tour of the holy land.


Where This Woot Guy gave us a 45-minute tour.


He looked EXACTLY like I'd pictured A Woot Guy to look, except he wasn't wearing birkenstocks, citing 'hobbit feet' as his reason not to ever wear sandals anywhere. The printing press and shipping areas fascinated me, as well as the Woot Off room--where they pretty much camp out until they're out of stuff.

Eight of us were on the tour and he was not quite sure how to handle eight suburban mommy superfans of a site that essentially sells video cards to seventeen year olds buying them with mom's lifted credit card.

But he did give us free monkeys and misprint shirts. My monkey clung to the sign as it said goodbye.


We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, as he (rightfully) assumed they were going straight to the internet. I did sneak one picture in their bathroom where crap is apparently just as elusive as it is on their website.


See? The Genuine Woot HQ Toilet contains no crap.

At the end of the tour, we got monkey autographs from a famous Lemon


before eating In-and-Out.


While I'd half expected two guys in a garage who had trained kittens to apply duct tape to the server, it was everything I'd dreamed of.