200k page loads of drivel

Watching my statcounter rollover is even more exciting than the time my high school boyfriend and I drove slowly down the residential street, camera in hand, watching the odometer roll over in his 25-year-old pickup.

Thanks for reading!

So Monday, as we were once again leaving for school in the dark, the girls argued over who got to hold Charlie's hand and safely escort him to PennyVann.

You know those signs they have in warehouses and other workspaces that read "This company has been accident-free for ____ days" and they fill-in-the-blank?

This household has been 911-call free for 5 days.

Part of this is because I've kept them busy with fun and riveting activities. Over the weekend we did absolutely nothing except play with Legos, play the Wii, go to the park, get new library books and order pizza. Now that Dixie's in advanced gymnastics, we get to spend even more time at the gym and that has occupied a good deal of our afterschool time this week.

But today they were getting restless, so I broke out the big guns. I packed a snack, loaded up PennyVann and headed off to the Shell station where we unbuckled everybody and piled in the front seat to enjoy our snack during the riveting entertainment of the automatic car wash.

At six bucks, it gets the pecan sap off and provides more suspense than most kid movies. So much cheaper, and no guilt about sneaking in popcorn.


Lost and Found Boy

Oh, what a day.

No one wanted to get up this morning. No one. Sometimes I think it's a gift that my first thought each morning is, "Man, I gotta pee." Otherwise, I'd never leave the sanctity of my Sleep Number bed and enter the cold, cruel world. (The only thing I have to look forward to, really, is hitting the ON switch of my already set-up coffeemaker on my way to the bathroom and having it mostly ready by the time I pass back by.)

Even Melody, whose habit of waking up cheerfully in the pre-dawn minutes has finally come in handy, is feeling it this Friday morning. Our usual routine where I get dressed, hand the girls clothes, put breakfast on the table, dress Charlie, leave them to eat while I put makeup on, then pour another cup of coffee and then hustle everyone out the door was stalled at a crucial step: the one where they all wake up.

If we aren't to my campus by the 7 o'clock bus pickup, we're in huge trouble.

The girls are finally dressed and moving, I skip the makeup step to carry Charlie to the window seat and dress him like a rag doll. I hand him a granola bar and put on his shoes, pausing only to hold the straw of his PediaSure to his lips.

I deposit him by the front door where the dressed, shod and backpacked Melody stands, then reenter the kitchen for the detoured Dixie. The impasse is the remaining six Frosted Mini-Wheats that grace her bowl.

Normally it's not a big deal for one or two to go get in PennyVann while I hustle out the dawdler, but this time Charlie was mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore. The source of injustice? There are no Legos at school, rendering it boring. And I didn't feed him nuffin (that he remembers, as he was apparently sleep-eating.) And school is so long dis year. And Daddy is not here.

Three or four minutes after depositing him in the doorway, Dixie and I depart. I set my things in the van and go to buckle Charlie's carseat, finding it empty. Melody, taking advantage of the reading light provided by the open van door, has no idea where he is. Dixie didn't see him. I go sweep through the house again, before returning to unbuckle the girls' carseat and booster, recruiting them for the hunt.

Every room. Every closet. Every bed. Surely, he just burrowed under covers and went back to sleep. Melody remembers his 'thinking rock' on the side of the house and we run out to find it empty. Trampoline. Playscape. Garden. Barn. Shed. Front yard. Back yard. Back back yard.


The sky is just beginning to lighten as I call 911. I call into work, letting them know of my delay. Look, look, look. I keep looking at the time, irate that the police surely taking their time, only to realize that time has frozen. Each time I certain that ten or fifteen more minutes have passed it's one or two. There's no where else to look, so I recheck the front yard. Both porches. Green cave. Side yard. Back of the van. Under the van. Along the fence line. Every shadowy corner.


They finally pull up and start with rechecking the house. Certain he cannot be there, two cars begin slowly cruising the neighborhood. Two men start sweeping neighboring backyards. Two more scour our enormous backyard and one stays in the house just in case.

Policeman number eight is asking questions. I am shocked to realize that I know the answers. For once, I can tell you exactly what he has on, how much he weighs and what his height is.

After a forty-five minute search, they start widening the area. A detective is on his way to collect information for the Amber Alert and the discussion of 'people you may have pissed off' begins.

A policeman walks up to the yard from a slightly different angle and sees one small leg in the beam of his headlights. The boy-in-a-ball is no longer concealed by the shadows of the tire, dumpster and crepe myrtle triangle.

Hugs. Real kisses. Protests of only loving imbisible kisses that are silenced by more hugs and real kisses.

At first, I assumed he'd found him in a neighbor's yard and brought him back, but this afternoon's re-enactment places him by PennyVann. The officer thought he may have been laying under the vehicle, but he wasn't dirty. I know I looked under that van. I know I looked along the side. I just don't know.

And at one point I almost asked the officer if I should leave to take the girls to school so that they'd be out of the way if this became a longer ordeal. Which would have rendered him either found or flattened as I left the driveway.

The thing that gets to me is that Charlie was perfectly still and silent for almost an hour. I would never have thought that possible. When we called his name, he did not say anything. He was too angry at the terrible mother who was taking him from a Lego Place to a non-Lego Place.

I tell you, it's been a week. This was the biggest of five big things Charlie did that were completely out of his character. Each time, his response was always 'I didn't know I wasn't supposed to' or 'but I didn't want to do' whatever it was he was supposed to be doing. He knew. He completely knew. And yet, he still did.

And all I could think was that I'd already been to one child's funeral this week. A friend from childhood lost her fourteen-year-old to juvenile diabetes. I kept looping through the thought that I can't go through what Marlo is going through. I just can't.

Because I just knew he'd rekindled his three-year-old fondness for standing in the middle of the street and that, in the black pre-dawn, this time they wouldn't stop.

Fortunately, later in the day, the car backing up in the Target parking lot heard my hawk-like screech and stopped as Melody jumped out of the way. And, even more fortunately, no attempt was made on Dixie's life.

Oh, what a day.


Megaphone of Mystical Milk

We went to Austin this weekend to see friends and hit up the Lego store. Our friend Aunt Jackee came along, bearing luggage, and I was taking 4 garbage bags of toys from the playroom to my friend who works at a women and children's shelter.

PennyVann was quite full. Still, Melody was adamant that she bring along her pillow pets.

For those not hip to the ways of modern stuffed animals, a pillow pet is a large stuffed pillow with a head, tail, hooves and a velcro attachment in the middle. Velcroed, it is a pet. Un-velcroed, it is a soft, fluffy pillow. There are large and small versions. The visual:


Each of my kids got a large one for Christmas from grandma and got a smaller one some time this summer in a moment of weakness at Walgreens. Charlie and Dixie have different animals for large and small, but both of Melody's are unicorns, like the one in the picture.

Back to the story.

Since the large pillow pet is the size of a sofa cushion, I told the kids they were limited to bringing their smaller companion. Melody was distraught at this news. Naturally, being of the same species, her pets are a mother and daughter pair. How dare we separate them, even for a day?

She worries for a moment about the injustice of this familial segregation before her eyes pop open and index finger points straight up in the air. She grabs the cheer leading mini-megaphone and runs into her room.

Now Charlie is very specific about when his needs to be a pillow and when it needs to be a pet. He interacts with it differently based on the Velcro status. I'd never noticed Melody being all that particular before this moment. Apparently, for Melody, undoing the tab not only changes their status from pet to pillow, it also interrupts their conscious awareness. Because, after confirming the length of our trip, she returned to explain her solution:

"I had her put enough milk in here to last until we get back and then made her a pillow so she wouldn't know her baby was gone and would not miss her or worry or be too sad."

So off we went to Austin with six people, four bags, three pillow pets and a cone full of mythical breastmilk. Whatever you did this weekend cannot possibly top that.


This Update

is 100% free of new information on Charlie's Failure To Thrive.

We saw the Pediatric Gastroenterologist yesterday. The problem with taking Charlie to a doctor's appointment is that you then have Charlie at that doctor's appointment. It's like holding a meeting in the center ring of a circus.

Factor in that I wasn't really sure what I was supposed to be saying to him and that my sinuses were killing me. I have no idea what was actually accomplished. He has a brief overview of Charlie, got to see him in action and ordered some tests. We will see him again in two or three months, sooner if anything comes back on the tests.

Because he's an intinerant internist, he doesn't have privileges at the hospital or clinics here to order the tests himself. I took Charlie back to school, ran Melody's project to her school and dropped off a prescription before getting the paperwork to his pediatrician's office. They called back, naturally, while I was teaching today. We'll get them done Monday, it seems.

This doctor's objective is to rule out any internal reason he's not growing. Make sure his enzymes, absorbtion and output are all up to par. The gut feeling of the specialist and pediatrician is that this is one more side effect of his autism. He's so particular about his food and spends so much time on the move that he simply doesn't have any extra calories to grow with.

I'm not completely convinced--In the last year, he has gained only 4 oz. In the 5 weeks since he last saw his pediatrician, he has consumed 8-16 oz. of Pediasure a day. Even with a few hundred extra calories each day, he has not gained an ounce. Still, having spent Sunday not eating and Sunday night "fwow-uppy" ground may have been gained and then lost.


Mornings with the Evil Overlord

So Darth Vader came to me this morning for help getting dressed. His expression remained unflinchingly stern as I took off his monkey-playing-basketball cotton jammies and lobster underwear and replaced it with Go, Diego, Go underwear, a green polo with an alligator on it and blue cotton shorts. He reluctantly accepted his mommy kiss before heading off to face his day of tyrannical rule.

Monday morning, he had been in the bathroom awhile so I asked him if he needed anything. "Yes," he said. "You need to make anudder bafroom in dis house. We need two places for dis. Go make us anudder bafroom, mama!"

Yes, Dark Lord. Right away, Dark Lord. Just as soon as I catch some sleep and get all the bedding washed that you were sick on the night before.

Except, to hear him tell, "I am not sick. My tummy hurts and I am frow-uppy a lot, but dat is not sick."

He goes on to his business of collecting Legos into his bag. "But I do not kallekt da wed ones. Wed is not a color dat I love, so doze can dest stay dere. I just lefted dem on da floor!"

Besides, him being frow-uppy is all my fault. After all, I'm the one that deigned to bring him some Pediasure in the night. "I dest wanted wadder. You brought me dat shake. I asked for wadder." His agitation increases as he goes on to explain, "Dat shake is wat made me all frow-uppy and you da one dat made me dwink it, mama! Why you want me dat way all da night time?"

Perhaps it was an attempt to overthrow the Empire and return control to the Republic?


Chum Bucket of Love

Dixie's birthday, as you can surmise from the cake, had a peace sign theme. For the party favors, I ordered peace sign mugs to put the kids' goodies in. They looked like this:


You must certainly be shocked when I tell you that Charlie claimed a gween one as his own. Not the contents ("Yuk. Dey is stuff fo giwls. I do not need dat stuff.") but the mug.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, he declared it his Chum Bucket and promptly filled it with Lego bits. He walks around the house, mug in fist, asking people, "Do you want to see what is inside my Chum Bucket?"

He clearly does not know what a chum bucket really is. Thank you, SquarePants.

This morning, after a rather long night of him being 'frow-uppy' all over both of us and both of our beds, we are home sick and tired. That's the theory, at least. He is walking around playing and yammering on relentlessly while I try to keep my eyes open and work out the sharp pains in my neck and shoulder muscles that are a courtesy of the long and laundry-filled night.

Unrelenting in his request for me to find his Chum Bucket, devastated by it's lack of proximity to his Lego-clutching grubby fingers, he finally accepted an alternate vessel.


It looks like the largest of these and, due to it's shape and coloring, has been named Chum Bucket of Love.

He's as romantic as his father.


Dixie's Birthday Cake!

Her birthday was in August, but we waited until school started to have a party. I knew she was apprehensive about starting a new school and I felt it would give her a chance to make friends with the girls in her class.

Four of the girls came, along with two neighbor girls and some family members. It was a peace-sign theme. That was fun to work with.

The cake was not fun. It kept crumbling. But eventually, I had something decent to show for my efforts.