Tomorrow, I meet with Team Charlie. Sure, it has an official name, ARD Committee, but I like my name better. As I was prepping sub plans (movies, movies and more movies) for tomorrow, something hit me. For nearly 3 years, I've been having meetings with different school personnel about Charlie. This is the first one I'm going into unprepared.

I don't have the giant file folder of evaluations from the neurologist, geneticist, pediatrician, occupational therapist, speech therapist and physical therapist. I don't have pamphlets and notes on the education rights of children with special needs. There is no legal representative with me. I have not spent weeks stressing over it.

I'm just showing up, empty-handed. This has never happened.

After struggling and fighting for so long to get him help, he is being helped. He is getting the help he needs and, gee, it is helping. The environment he is in works for him. His teacher works hard to get the best out of him. The speech and occupational therapists he sees at school collaborate with the speech and occupational therapists he sees after school.

In fact, the rehab center called today to say that he's met or exceeded all his OT goals. They reevaluated him and don't see a need to continue services at this time. They'll call back in three months to evaluate and see if he needs to start up again. In the meantime, he'll still receive his OT at school.

He's reading about 50 sight words, can name his letters and is wicked with numbers. He can relate a story plot and asks good questions. He finally is engaged enough with the world around him to want to know how it works. He's finally curious enough about the people around him to want to be friends with them.

I know this doesn't sound like much to parents of regular ed kids, but when he comes home from school he talks about the kids in his class. He knows their names. This from the kid who didn't know his own sisters' names until about a year ago.

I'm not worried that they'll kick him out of the program or give me more parenting suggestions. I'm not worried that I'll sit in a meeting and wonder what child they're talking about because it sounds nothing like mine. I'm not worried that I'll argue and argue only be to patted on the head and sent away.

For once, I'm not worried about Charlie. What a new and amazing feeling that is.

Go Team Charlie!


The things that boy says

The other day, I'm puttering around the house while the kids play in the playroom. I hear Charlie singing, "Let's get it on! Let's get it on!" to some random tune. Concerned, I walk in to catch him in the act of placing one object atop another object. Literally, getting it on.


The kids, for some unfathomable reason, are obsessed with Princess Leia Slave. If you recall, that's what both Dixie and Charlie wanted to be for Halloween. Then Charlie decided it wasn't manly enough and begged to be Han Solo Slave. On Lego Star Wars for the Wii, he likes to custom make a Yoda Slave for use on levels. When any character wearing the Funky Underwear, as I once made the mistake of calling it, instead of smacking someone close by, they put their hands behind their head and shake it, belly dance style.

Thursday, Charlie was on the subject of Legos and Christmas.
You can take the bag wif Darf Vadew on it to da store, but you can only use it for Legos. If you put gwocerwies in it, dat will make me angwee. But you can fill it wif Legos and give dem to me fo Chwistmas, if you want to. You can fill it wif Legos and give dem to me, but don't fill them with any girl Legos. If you do dat, I will leave dem in da bag for a few days and will not play wif dem. But if you fill it wif udder Legos, I will play wif dem for all of da days. I will play wif dem for da rest of my life, but if dey are girl Legos, den I will just leave dem dere and I will not play wif dem and dey will stay dere for evah and evah.

"Charlie," I ask. "What if the Lego is a Princess Leia Slave Lego? Will you play with it then?"

He mulls it over before responding, "No, because she is a giwl. Because she is a giwl, I only want her for her body."

Fortunately for the other drivers on the road, he adds, "I can put a smiley face head on her dat is fo Hans Solo and we can have Hans Solo Slave and I can put keep her head in a bag fo all of da rest of da days of my life."

That's my boy. Only wants her for her body. Keeping her head in a bag. So proud.


The Wrath of Charlie (and more chicken stories)

When we bought the giant chicken, there were two of them. I had left the girls with the task of choosing the best one for Sandy, but we all felt a little guilty for the last rooster standing. When we went back to that grocery store a few weeks later, we had to swoop by the henhouse to check on his general welfare. We were surprised to find him anything but lonely.


Apparently, our roosters are proud fathers, as many hatched in our absence. We decided we should now feel guilty for leaving him a single father with his partner many hundreds of miles away.

In the grocery store, Charlie has this obnoxious way of amusing himself by turning around, grabbing some food item, pretending to gobble it up, then dropping it behind him, unconcerned with the squishability of it or anything it may land on. The only way to get him to stop is to let him out of the cart, which is far more hazardous.

This week, it was particularly dangerous.


I don't know how it got there. I swear it just jumped in and wasn't carefully selected and loaded with gentility and love. (I will add that it was substantially easier to load than it's father, but that is no admission of culpability.)

Unwilling to endure Round 28 of the Food Drop Game, I warned him, "Charlie, anything you pick up and drop will be immediately put back on the shelf."

He laughed, turned, picked up the most sacred item in the cart, pretended to eat it, then dropped it on the chick's face.

A short walk later, the variety pack of 12 Pop Tarts was back on the shelf.

Charlie's entire face turned red with rage. His veins popped on his forehead and neck. He cried, hiccuped, and cried some more. In an attempt to express the depths of his anger, the following monologue, or as much of it as I can remember, followed:

Dat is it. I will make you sad dat you did dat. I will make you vewwy sowwy. I will make you so sad dat you put dose poptawts back on da shelf. I will leave you house and not live in it anymow and you will be sad. I will not be you boy anymore and you will cwy. I will live somewhew else and dere will be no one to sweep in my bed owr eat my food owr play wif my toys and you will haf to pway wif dem all by yousewf and you will be so sad. You will cwy and you will be sowwy about dem poptawts.

You hawt will bweak when I am gone and you cannot pway Lego Stawwaws [StarWars] wif me because I am gone. And dere will be no one to be you wittle boy anymow.

I calmly go up and down the aisles, making eye contact with no one and filling the cart. After all, Dixie's gymnastics class only lasts so long. At some point, he forgets that he no longer lives in our house in this revenge scenario, because he shifts to the following rant:

And you will not get to eat da foods you love. You can only eat da fishfood. And it is yucky to you. You will not wuv it. You will eat da fish food and you will say, "blach" because fishfood is not a food you wuv. And da fish will not have dere food and dey will be sad and you will be sad because you food is yucky and you fish is sad. And you will get to eat catfood and it is yucky and Schwodingah [Schrodinger] will scwatch you because it is his food and he will be sad and you will be sad and you will say, "Dis is yucky" because you do not wuv it.

And you will get to eat only the catfood and da fishfood and da . . .

as we approach the dairy case, Charlie has run out of foods that I don't love, so Melody supplies him with some ideas. I think she started with liver. After a good thirty seconds dedicated to that, he paused while she supplied peanuts. Once that tirade was over, she offered up sticks of butter. Then raw meat. Rant. Then celery. Rant. Then pizza. Rant. Then ice cream. Rant. Then chocolate.

Pause. He looks up at our faces to see that we are both choking back laughter.

No! Chocowate is not a good one because she wuvs dat and it is not yucky fo hewr!

In the frozen food section, I pause to ask him if he remembers why he is mad. Nothing. I ask him what he did to be in trouble. Nothing. I remind him that he cannot throw the food in the cart because something will get broken. If he can stop playing that unsafe game while we finish up, we can swing back by for Pop Tarts. But only if he stops trying to make mommy feel sad.

Hug. Wipe away little Charlie tears.

We finish the $209 trip in peace before leaving, Pop Tarts in bag. (Bonus: in addition to fabulous entertainment and no more food thrown, the rant gave me the opportunity to sneak some Christmas gifts in the cart because he had lost all concept of where he was and what we were doing around him.)

Because Dixie's gymnastics is now 90 minutes, we had time to swing by the house so that Dixie would find a surprise waiting when we get home.


Mail! And a three foot chicken!


Which actually looks quite in place at our house.




The Friday before last, the back of my leg itched like a bug bite exacerbated by my pants rubbing on it as I walked.

Saturday and Sunday, I bummed around the house in yoga pants, as it was really irritating.

Monday, I went to work, feeling like I was being stabbed in the back of the leg with every step. Halfway through the day, I left to go to the doctor. The doctor drained it, swabbed it, gave me a tetanus shot in the arm, an antibiotic shot in the butt and two oral antibiotics to knock it out. I'd already had an allergy shot in the other arm and my extremities were feeling picked on.

When I took my antibiotics that evening, I got flushed, ran a slight fever and felt nauseated.

Tuesday I was feeling great--the spot on the leg had gone down, I had energy again and life was beautiful, until I took those silly meds. Then I was miserable for about two hours. Knowing they were pretty powerful stuff, I didn't think too much of it.

Wednesday was a beautiful morning until I took the meds. Then I had a horrible pain in my side that would not go away. I ate some yogurt laced with probiotics to no avail. Between classes I called into my doctor, who told me to go to the ER.

A few hours after getting the privilege of being some student nurse's first IV recipient, I call the church for a ride home. Driving on morphine = bad idea it seems. They can't really tell what's wrong without an abdominal sonogram and can't do that because I ate four ounces of yogurt that morning.

I call Dowlan to pick the kids up from Mindy's.

Thursday morning I wake up with a hangover from the morphine, which ended up causing far more pain than it ever took away. We get the kids to school then go in for the sonogram

I have lovely organs.

I get home to a message left on the machine. I call in for the results of the swab and it is the MRSA strain of staph. Lovely. 7 hours later I hear back from the ER doc. The antibiotic duo gave me an ulcer, but I can't just stop because, hey, it's MRSA. But I can stop taking one of them and he gave me a game plan for the other.

I was supposed to be directing a musical program that night, by the way. My principal and assistant principal stepped in. I'm curious to see what they thought of that adventure. My personal theory is that, by the end of my Christmas program, I will be a God to them.

So now I take a Nexxium with lots of fluids and foods. Then, thirty minutes later, I take the bactrim with a little more food on top. Then I'm only mildly miserable for the next hour instead of doubled over in misery.

There's a lot of bactrim left in the bottle. And Dowlan returned to the town where he lives and works. Fun week ahead!


Thus Ends The Saga . . .

The morning after the state fair, my brother and SIL came to have breakfast with us in the crummy motel. Afterwards, they helped us reload.


Then, we went to pick up Dixie's great-grandmother and take her to lunch. Fern had not seen Dixie since before we adopted her, which meant I had never met this woman and I was going to pick her up in my minivan that was full of children, luggage and had a six-foot metal chicken strapped to the roof. Concerned, I had this conversation with Dixie's grandmother along the way.

Me: Um, just how much dignity does Granny Fern have, exactly?
Gma Jane: None, none at all. She will find it hysterical.
Me: Whew.

Halfway through eating butterburgers and cheese curds at Culver's, I look out the window to see about ten people gathered around my van, animatedly discussing the contents of my cargo.

Jealous. They are laughing, staring and pointing from jealously and naught else.

After returning Granny Fern to her home (and hearing her tell her caregiver, "Dixie just has the nicest family. Such cute kids!" but leaving out the chicken aspect) we haul off to Sandy's swanky, suburban neighborhood.




Matt calls out, "Honey, it's for you!" as he retreats into his homestead.


After a great deal of laughing and wiping away tears, we hang out a few minutes before saying our goodbyes. Matt, ever the optimist, says, "Here, let me help you load your chicken."

Matt, you mean YOUR chicken. I have no desire for a chicken. (Who would, really?)

Sandy, in love with her chicken, keeps him busy 'discussing' their new family member while we make a clean getaway.

Britney, as is now the rooster's drag name, has, despite Matt's opposition, positively impacted their children's well being. S/he has become the inspiration for great artwork:


Britney helps to keep the bugs out of their backyard garden in his/her prominent roosting spot--just outside the living room window and visible from the master bedroom, of course.


And thus concludes the saga of the might chicken, or does it?? [cue: cliffhanger music]


My Excuses

Saturday, I went on an impromptu trip to Plainview, TX to my Great Uncle Joe's art exhibit.

This was followed by an impromptu sleepover at my mother's, where I got to sleep in my jeans on a lumpy mattress.

That was followed by a Sunday morning Kmart shopping spree, where I was quite disappointed to not find a replacement for the rug I'd recently (and accidentally) dyed pink.

Then a drive home.

Then cleaning. Lots of cleaning. Followed by lots of napping. Then a party. Because, as one might imagine, lots of housework and sleep were neglected in the time it took me to do all this:


(Better pictures of Melody are pending. And I didn't quite make it all--Charlie's Yoda hat was purchased and my bonnet was made by my grandmother many years ago. The rest is all me, baby. Oh, except for the sand timer that Charlie picked up at the party and decided to use as a lightsaber since I made him wait until actual Halloween to crack a glow in his.)

I was also thwarted by projects for Red Ribbon Week. See, when you have 4 people at 3 elementary schools who have drastically different themes for how to dress up for 5 consecutive days, it gives mommy 15 separate headaches that have to be solved through efforts such as this:


(What do breast cancer and illegal/illicit drug use have in common? October. But now an entire elementary school of children think that getting high causes breast cancer. Yeah.)

Kmarting/Traveling/Cleaning/Napping/Partying Sunday was followed by Puking Monday. I am greatly thankful that a) no one else got sick, and b) if I had to do that with no husband nearby, at least they had 8+ hours out of the house that day.

Today has been a day of work, homework, gymnastics and, I kid you not, 3 weeks' worth of laundry. Because Sewing always supercedes Laundry.

Unfortunately, Laundry had to supercede Chicken Story because I got a new principal today, we have administrator walking through our classrooms tomorrow, a cold front is coming through tonight and, for all these reasons and many more, I should not go to school in the morning buck naked.

Here are adorable pictures of my kids at the Texas State Fair to tide you over:







Did you know they made four-horned sheep?

(By 'they' I mean 'Almighty God' of course.)

Can't you just see this camel smoking a cigarette? I kind of see where the "Joe Camel" idea came into play. His lips just beg for it.

Oh, and kangaroo with joey was adorable.

Shortly after this photo, this Texas Longhorn attacked me with it's horn, trying to nudge me out of it's way.

Melody's response, "Maybe it thought you were an Aggie."