Suddenly I feel very barfy, and am hoping it's not that end-of-season flu that is cutting down so many of my friends (and currently my spouse).
Badger and I are going to drag the wee ones up to the magical giant redwood Heritage Grove near La Honda. Perfect spot to try to find fairies.
I proposed this cool, mellow (1/4 mile level hike with three bridges and a creek) activity because Leelo is also feeling low, for a different reason. He had no fewer than six vials of blood extracted this afternoon--more than I would think was safe for a 37 lb. boy.
Reason? Tests tests and more tests, some by request of the Stanfford Autism folks (genetic scan for Fragile X, etc.), some due diligence (celiac disease), some to make sure that this funky limited diet and supplement megadosing isn't fucking his little body up or causing malnourishment (anemia, electrolyte balance, etc.).
Shannon will probably be happy to hear that all the tests were covered by insurance, thanks to the extremely persistent woman who is our pediatrician's office manager. I am glad she's on our side.
TweetThe Compassionate Accountant
I am very proud of myself for only forgetting one crucial document for today's meeting with our tax accountant. But that is not the point of this entry.
Our accountant says that, as long as we have a developmental delay diagnosis for Leelo (and it doesn't have to be the specific autism diagnosis, he was fine with the Regional Center's initial report of "Social and Developmental Delays"), he will happily fight to deduct any non-insured expenses that we incur. This includes ABA therapists, speech therapists, OT therapists, evaluations, DAN medical meetings and supplements, and would even cover our own related therapy were we to
need get it.
I think we have to hit an expense threshold before we can start claiming, but I suspect that this will be noooo problem--we covered all of Leelo's expenses from April 2003 until Seymour's parents kindly lent us their golden chariot in September 2003 with respect to the ABA tab.
Leelo is doing faboolously, mastering many new skills, and also generalizing with the skills he's already got (this means he can use those skills elsewhere than in his specific therapy sessions, e.g., playing properly with trains on a display in a store).
Supervisor M is particularly excited about his using four-word phrases during NLP (natural language) training. Check out the full informal report.
TweetI Heart Diapers
Not the wiping of butts that goes with them, of course, but rather their usefulness in disposing of incendiary or compromising items. Got a receipt for a mountain bike part that you don't want your partner to see? Need to cut up your old credit cards but are unsure how to dispose of the bits? Diapers are your solution! Once you wrap a small item-to-be-disposed-of in the middle of a soiled diaper and put it in the trash, I guarantee that no one is ever going to find it.
I write this with more than a trace of sorrow, as we're going to start potty-training Leelo in three weeks.
TweetAre You Superstitious?
I surely am. But not in an overt or paralyzing way. More like Kit Moresby in The Sheltering Sky, seeing omens everywhere. Although I got out of West Africa with my brain in one piece.
I have my little talismans scattered around the house where no child should be able to reach them. My approach is fairly simple: if the talismans are intact, that which they represent will also remain intact.
I suspect that Seymour doesn't realize how precious they are to me, doesn't know what they represent. Not his fault, I keep my cards close. I don't think I've ever talked about it to anyone.
One of the most dear is the two-headed Indonesian mermaid/man that Seymour found for me when he was living in New York. In my cockeyed scheme, it represents our togetherness somewhat, although I can't tell you more or the charm will be affected.
Needless to say I was not happy to find Iz with its heads in one hand and tail in the other, valiantly trying to repair it all with gluestick and scotch tape.
Weekend of crazies and joy.
Firstly, yes I did that hike yesterday. Since I didn't bother to get proper maps (which made finding the expertly concealed trailhead signs extra-fun) we are not sure what the mileage was, but we think it was between eight and ten miles. Go me! Go Ambah!
I cannot properly describe the electrifying sensation of hiking from a distant mountain ridge (thank you, Seymour's Taxi Service) right into one's own back yard. I must do it again. Perhaps when I'm in better shape--now that the adrenaline has dissipated I feel as though someone spent the day vigorously clubbing my legs and buttocks. You know how kids walk when they've pooped their pants? I've been doing the unscented version of that gait all day long.
Ambah and I bellowed greetings at the redwoods. Chatted with salamanders. Reveled in the fantastic company. Took silly pictures of each other, critters, and the remarkably diverse assortment of flowering plants. She told me of her current attack plan, which is to take down one of the biggest players in committing the 85% of environmental offenses that go unprosecuted yearly in California. I told her about Seymour's mountain bike racing, Leelo's program and progress, and the Iz school dilemma (turns out Ambah was moved ahead a year, and has never regretted it). We hopped and skipped and shouted at the forest again.
As we crossed over into Edgewoood Park, and could finally see the hazy mountaintop from which we started, I became desperate to announce to someone--anyone--that we'd hiked from Skyline. Because I'm attention-seeking like that. The fates finally took pity on my pathetic person, positioned my neighbor Nora next to my driveway, and I was able to tell her. She made the proper Face of Awe, bless her generous soul.
We made it home in under four hours. But, alas, due to a late start, we missed Moomin's party. Sigh. Heard it was faboo.
However later that night I did successfully arrange for Ambah to have dinner with Murphy, Badger, and Rook--intensely passionate brilliant iconoclasts who, in my mind, simply had to meet each other. Although poor Badger was so wrecked from party hosting that she almost fell asleep face down in her sambar. They all seemed to get along well--no odd conversation lags. I am pleased.
Before Badger passed out, she told us that she'd never read Midnight's Children (one of my all-time favorites, and which Murphy was returning to me). After the shock of hearing Badger say "No, I haven't read that" about any work of literature had worn off, I started singing the book's praises as I so often overenthusiastically and off-puttingly do about anything I like. I said that the best way to describe this particular book is that it is what I though Tom Robbins was, when I was in college. Does that make sense? Whatever. If you haven't read MC, start now.
Seymour and I were both so wiped from our separate yet equally exhausting days that we went to sleep at 10:00.
Today I got to turn my attention back to the kids.
Iz, influenced by the excellent book The Good Little Girl, requested waffles for breakfast. No problem, I am all for anything that involves starch, melty butter, and high-sugar fruit suspensions (boysenberry syrup in this case). They were awesome.
The two of us also finished up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. She then engaged me in a day-long debate about the proper ordering of the series, and would not fucking let it go. Finally we agreed that there is no right or wrong ordering, there is only the old (L, W, & W first) or new (The Magician's Nephew first) ordering. She still keeps bringing it up, though, because she can tell that I think the new ordering is sacrilege.
Leelo was extremely remote and nutty all day, so much so that it took a reserve tank of self-control to prevent myself from shaking him until he stopped speaking in tongues, until he responded to my voice. He got better as the afternoon wore on. (Why? Why? Why? Maybe it's becuse he's back on raspberries after a week without, or it's the new supplement regime as of three days ago, or he's got a runny nose...GAAAAAAH!!!!)
But I can't be entirely depressed, because he's been showing additional developmental leaps, such as spontaneously taking out and making different faces with his Mr. Potato Head, throwing balls and other objects down the stairs just to see what happens, building "houses" by putting a triangular block on top of a square one, and scribbling--however briefly--within the lines rather than randomly.
These are all behaviors you might expect from a child of 18 months or younger, but we so don't care. We know his development is delayed, and so are grateful for any strides. Especially this quartet, which demonstrates increasing cognitive and conceptual development, as well as awareness of his surroundings.
Finally: the little shit took ten years off my life this afternoon. He did this by rocketing out of our "fort" and onto the top of the adjoining monkey bars--eight feet in the air! I was so scared that I almost passed out. His daredevilness combined with my obvious terror scared Iz so badly that she peed her pants, right there on the playset ladder. Poor little bit.
I am short, and he got out there so quickly, that the only thing I could do was cajole him back into the fort. I then pounced on his little ass and tossed it back inside the house. A handyman was out in less than an hour later to take measurements for placing wooden bars between the fort and the monkey bars.
TweetThe Streamlined Version
After a few missteps, we think we've gotten Leelo's new vitamin/mineral supplement schedule nailed down. No more pill crushing! All capsules! We can take five or six fewer bottles of pills with us whenever we travel! And he only gets juice one time a day! Rah!
TweetI Am a Bitch, With a Chip on My Shoulder
Because I have had it with our kids thinking that violence is funny, I have told Iz that the new rule for us is that, if she or one of her friends hits someone else, we are leaving. If she is the victim, she is to tell that friend that "I don't play with people who hit me" and then walk away.
So today after school, when a friend took a swipe at her, I immediately announced that "Hitting means play time is over." Both kids were instantly hysterical, but we left anyhow. Iz was cool with it all in about a minute. The other child probably hates me. Too bad. A new regime is in effect.
TweetLaundry Listing Again
What is up with Leelo? He's been repeatedly waking before 6 A.M. By waking I mean jumping into our bed in high-octane playful nutty boy mode. Aiigh! We never go to bed before midnight, so you can imagine our bleariness. Seymour and I have a tacit deal to man alternate mornings. One more example of why cuteness makes Darwinian sense, in Leelo's case.
We are seeing some more definite regular kid behaviors. Some of these are independent of his ABA learning, such as his jealously telling Iz to get the hell out of Seymour's lap by saying "Izzy all done!" Others are extrapolations from his play training, such as being able to go to any Brio-style train set up, connect all the magnetized trains, and have a great time pushing them all over the track. He never did either of these things before.
The boy still has plenty of nutty moments. Again, we've given up on trying to figure out why and concentrate on the fact that he's making steady progress. Although he has had a cold, we did reintroduce eggs and raspberries...
Also, we've been implementing a lot of changes in his supplement regimen lately, trying to decrease his doses of some minerals (the high doses were meant as chelation preparation and we're not doing that), as well as employing multivitamin combinations like Super NuThera to decrease the number of pills we have to crush and juice he needs to drink each day. Word to the wise: Super NuThera Wild Cherry syrup tastes like reaaaaally sweet kerosene.
And then there's the girl. Last night she wrote a six-page book about her zoo trip. I had to tell her how to spell about four words, and remind her to use periods at the end of her sentences. Otherwise the book was entirely her creation. Also she wrote it in ballpoint pen, not pencil. In fifteen minutes. She only made two mistakes (backwards S, and "adventchure").
Apparently, she is "in" Esperanza, or at least they are already talking about how to deal with her--according to my spy friend whose daughter is a second grade student there. We're supposed to get the official word this week. Once it arrives, and if she is indeed in, I think I'll see if I can corner the principal and ask her what exactly she expects from her incoming first graders. One thing I know for certain is that they're not required to know Spanish.
My ultra-cool friend Ambah is coming to hang out tomorrow. We met as exchange students at the University of Ghana. She gets her kicks out of putting on a ninety pound pack and striking out into the Sierras with a map and a rough months-long time table. When she's not tending her farm in Costa Rica, cycling across the country, or spearheading another of her firm's righteous environmental lawsuits.
She is the ideal person to accompany me on my dream hike from the top of Skyline into my own backyard via Hudddart and Edgewoood parks, and has agreed to do so. (Seymour, also, would be ideal, but someone has to watch the kids.) It'll be a mere stroll for her, but the giant redwood/oak forest/bay views scenery should compensate for any boredom. Plus I get to talk to her/find out what's going on in her life for at least three hours.
If we get back in time I will bring her to Moomin's birthday party.
Seymour is training hard for his first-ever mountain bike race, the Sea Ottter in Monterey. Were it my first race, I would have perhaps chosen a geared bike rather than a single-speed, but he's going to kick butt anyhow. And Iz is convinced that he's going to win. I don't really care, as long as whatever he's doing keeps him looking all fine like that. Yeow!
This is going to be dull for those who don't dote on my kids, and hard on those with touchy gag reflexes.
When your kid is in the thick of an intensive ABA therapy program, your time is fairly well scheduled for you. Since August, Leelo's been booked solid, every weekday. My previous daytime parenting lifestyle of "Hey, we've got a few free hours, let's go to the museum or maybe the tide pools!" has been replaced with "well, we've got an hour between Therapist L leaving and Daddy getting home, let's go grab some groceries!"
So when an afternoon appointment cancelled on us yesterday, I looked at the resulting five hour blank spot on the schedule, blinked a few times--then grabbed Leelo, ran over to Iz's school, yanked her out, and sprinted for the zoo.
It was a glorious, gleeful trip.
On the way there, we saw some hangliders! "No, mommy, that's a paraglider. Hangliders look like arrows..." (said with enthusiasm rather than scorn).
Leelo was a ball of happiness. The petting zoo was a revelation to him: real goats ("Hi goat!" pat pat pat), real ducks ("quack quack"), turkeys, etc., plus mini tractors to play on and lots of stuff to climb. He also couldn't get enough of the carousel, or the giant rope spiderweb. ("I want to go on the carousel! I want to go on the spiderweb!"). That place really motivated him to communicate. I think he'll be going back soon.
Here's the spiderweb. Check out Leelo's adorable five-day-old beige t-strap shoes (his only non-bargain bin pair)--he was having such a great time that at some point he kicked one off into the ether, or possibly the flamingo pool. Who knows. We never found it.
Iz used to see the zoo more as a play space than a place to learn about animals. This time, though, she was completely engaged with all the critters, plants, diets, habitats, was bugging the docents with questions ("Why is that owl awake when it's daytime?"), and was pointing things out for anyone who would listen. She was in heaven! She even saw an Anaconda! "Well, you know that the Green Anaconda is also known as the Common Anaconda, right Mommy?" She told me that of course I didn't see the salamanders at first, they were "perfectly camouflaged."
Her very favorite part was the insect zoo. We spent much time scrutinizing the honeybee hive, and were very excited to find a drone because then we got to quote Clan Apis ("Hello, it is I! Zambur! Your brother!"). She was thrilled to see the bees in action ("They're capping the cells!").
I couldn't get over how much fun she was having, and how exciting all the learning was for her. I couldn't get over Leelo acting like a typical over-excited three-year-old zoo-visiting boy. We must go on a weekend and drag Seymour with us.
TweetHolding Sides to Keep Zeem From Spleetting:
zee-a idfentoores ooff leelo und his potty-mooozeed mom.
Hey, my kid's uootistic--whet zee-a foock is yooor ixcoose-a? Bork Bork Bork!
I,Isshole-a! Bork Bork Bork!
Degrees ooff Deefinity
Thoonk yooo, Rook.
sqooeed - 10:41 PM
TweetThe Pandering Jackass Strikes Again
BUSH ALLOWS GAYS TO BE FIRED FOR BEING GAY
Despite President Bush's pledge that homosexuals "ought to have the same rights" (1) as all other people, his Administration this week ruled that homosexuals can now be fired from the federal workforce because of their sexual orientation.
According to the Federal Times, the president's appointee at the Office of Special Counsel ruled that federal employees will now "have no recourse if they are fired or demoted simply for being gay." (2)
While the Bush Administration says it is legally prohibited from firing a person for their conduct, they have the legal right to fire or demote someone based on their sexual orientation. To carry out the directive, the White House has begun removing information from government websites about sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. (3)
Not only does the new directive contradict the president's own promise to treat homosexuals as equals under the law, but it also contradicts what the Administration told Congress. As noted in a bipartisan letter from four Senators to the Administration, "During the confirmation process [of the president's appointee], you assured us that you were committed to
protecting federal employees against unlawful discrimination related to their sexual orientation." (4)
1. Debates, 10/11/2000.
2. "OSC to study whether bias law covers gays", Federal Times, 03/15/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1157154&l=23802.
3. "Gay Rights Information Taken Off Site", Washington Post, 02/18/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1157154&l=23803.
4. "Special Counsel Under Scrutiny", Washington Post, 02/23/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1157154&l=23804.
TweetJust Don't Come Play Over Here
Click elsewhere if you're not into suburban housewife malaise.
There will be no more Monday playgroups at our house, indefinitely.
*Sigh of relief*
We will continue with Leelo's facilitated playgroups, but I can no longer tolerate the stress of having so many shrieking children in my house. Spending time with my own mom friends is no longer an equitable trade-off. I am cracking. Everyone who depends on me is getting short-sheeted.
I've been hosting these groups for years, and they've always been wacky but dandy. However I did not used to have squads of therapists drifting in and out of my house all day every day. And I did not have a little boy who needed such constant and intense supervision. Nor was my daughter old enough to slyly incite riot-like behavior among her peers, knowing that her mom was too preoccupied to interfere.
Another indicator that it's time to pull the plug: I completely lost it today and shrieked at one of the kids (who, to be fair, had just thrown a plastic spade at a friend), and told him that if he ever threw another toy like that at my house, he would not be invited back. Ever. I then turned to all the wide-eyed, open-mouthed children who'd been struck silent by my ferocity, and told them that the same rule applied to them. Who knows if it registered.
You can think what you like about my cushy SAHM lifestyle. I acknowledge that most people with my kind of good luck aren't so fucking wimpy or whiny. But you should be aware that, had I lived in more intense housewifely times, I would have ended up like Mrs. Clutter of In Cold Blood: a bedridden shadow in her own home. I am trying to prevent that by eliminating the eliminatable stresses on my health and sanity. My family needs me. That's my choice. Sorry, kids.
I'll see you folks at Thursday coffee.
TweetDoodily Doodily 'Do
Got the lid revamped on Saturday. Told Badger I'd be doing so; she then sprinted over for a last minute braids session. Iz saw them and of course wanted some too. Here's me and Mini-me:
Here's the new me:
Note footwear that strikes fear into the heart of any child who's read Roald Dahl's The Witches. To paraphrase Lemony Snicket, "Terrorizing children is ignoble and wrong. Although fun."
TweetMemo to Self
It is a bad idea to assume that you know where a certain Mission District restaurant is located, park near that theoretical location, and then spend 20 minutes dragging two small strollerless children all over the area in search of said eatery. Better to verify the location beforehand. That way you won't have to put up with 20 minutes of "I want that pink scooter no I want that Dora doll no I want that magenta bicycle" as you pass overstuffed, spilling-out-onto-the-sidewalk shop after shop.
It was worth it, though, to celebrate Djinn's birthday. I was feeling good about my new 'do (even though Iz told me that my hair looked prettier longer) until the birthday girl walked in with her new look and made us all feel completely drab. Damn her.
Iz had a good time, she has a good time anywhere since she can talk to anyone. She managed some expert wheedling, but her victims seemed to be okay with it.
Leelo had a decent time, I made him stay in his highchair and he didn't mind. I could tell that some of the other revelers (also parents) were wondering why he didn't talk or go play with the other squallers, but whatever. He had his Thomas trains and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book, he was quite satisfied.
I knew no one except the guest of honor. Which was fine, everyone was affable. So I spent my time putting my foot in my mouth, as I usually do in these situations. I did a great job! I'm sure the mom of two tinies sitting across the table from me was wondering why Djinn would have such a rude, champagne-swilling friend. Ah, well. I will probably never meet her again. Sorry, Djinn.
This weekend somehow got booked solid with the social events. No breaks in between, except these twenty minutes I'm frittering away right now. Why do I do this? Especially when several of the events are in SF? Sigh. You can imagine how pleasant I am being to my partner. If you see him, pat him on the shoulder and tell him that it has to get better.
Time to change into ye olde hiking clothes. My cousins are coming over to hit the backyard hiking trails with us. I am not fucking cooking tonight.
TweetSnip Snip Snip
Leelo has taken to grabbing and pulling my hair all the time. Not because he's mean, but rather because it's at the back of my neck when he hugs me and what else is he supposed to do with his hands?
So the hair is coming off, tomorrow afternoon. It's a good thing. If brushed, my 'do makes me look like a cocker spaniel. If not, I look like Roseanna Roseannadanna. Now I just need to make a decision: I can either cave in and get a layery lame-assed mom 'do (with semi-curly, fine hair, there are few other options), or I can get yet another short bob and proudly resume flying my shroomhead flag.
TweetWe All Have Keyboards; We Can ALL Save The World
After a conversation with Jo, we've agreed that the burden of making the world safe for both the environment and democracy should not rest solely on her storytelling shoulders. We think an anthology would work, too.
If you're interested in writing a short story using the specs below (see I'm the Idea Guy entry), contact me and we'll be off and running. I know that many of you are writers, it says so on your About pages. I was a whoop-ass producer in my previous life and would have no problem riding your butt into the ground to make you hit deadlines. If you need me to.
Dined out and solo tonight, thanks to the world's greatest babysitter and my understanding partner. I was having the most excellent time eating my favorite meal, pondering book/illustration schemes, and laughing out loud at the silliness of Vile Bodies, when a large, chatty family was seated next to me.
Why is it that people who speak so that you can follow their entire conversation without trying always sound so profoundly idiotic? Next time I will just move. I bet Minnie would have moved.
TweetI'm the Idea Guy
I think Jo is so very much on the right path with her Democrat/Hilton porn. Suck the non-believers in, tantalize them, make it so they can't turn away, seed their brains with your real messages! Brilliant.
But I am not satisfied. I want to see her do more, specifically a chirpily accessible yet subversive novel that would fly off the supermarket racks and convert everyone to our path of righteous one world love.
We need her help because our current tactics are all wrong. Why do most people blow us off when we've got science on our side, when all we want is to protect the welfare and health of all living things?
Because we cling, stridently, to our facts, and brandish them pompously. Because we are earnest, and earnest = dull + dead in the water. Because everyone hated Cassandra. If the material lining the supermarket checkout aisles indicates what most people want to read, then most people are never going to listen to us.
So here's what Jo needs to do, because I cannot. Title her next book something along the lines of "The Shopaholic and The Prince." Punch it up with the lusty lust coupled with Pride and Prejudice-scale misunderstandings and separations. Have them chase each other all over the globe, suspensefully. And, along the way, have them witness environmental fuckups, such as the Shopaholic's chapeau blowing off and landing in a nearby pond--and immediately disintegrating in the toxic sludge. But make it funny! Make it seem light! Balance it so the environmental themes worm their way into the readers' minds without bopping them over their heads.
How should it end? Tricky...a full-scale conversion could work, if it's written charmingly enough, and gently satirizes famous tree huggers like Julia Butterfly Hill. But, again, it would have to be very, very funny. I would even accept the Shopaholic's epiphany resulting in her adopting a Real Simple-style lifestyle, and planting a tiny organic vegetable plot in her townhouse's yard. As long as she makes a point of tossing all her Lucky magazines.
So get on it already!
P.S. I want a playlist for that awesome CD you made me, please. I am unable to listen to it otherwise, because I am compulsive and anal about such things.
TweetMiz Iz and Monkey Boy
(Big baby! 8 lbs 10 oz. Happy. Squeaky. A name that goes well with D'Artagnan and would make a certain Enterprise 1701-D captain proud.)
Again, I no longer keep an offline journal, so you'll just have to put up with my frequent laundry listing for posterity.
My twice-yearly conference with Iz's teacher was yesterday. I dread these meetings, as they largely concern my daughter's discipline problems, and I find discussing her stubborn, occasionally malicious self-centeredness both mortifying and draining. Yes, she tortures Merlin. She's been doing it for years. Yes, we talk about it each and every time, asking how would she feel if he treated her like that. Yes, she admits that she would be a sad torturee, but then amnesia strikes and she gets him howling again, with a bulletproof argument for why it's not really her fault. Yes, we've also anticipated a future as a weasely litigator for our girl.
Yes, we know that she's reading well. She's the best reader in the school, better than the kindergarteners? Oh. Yes, we know that she can add and subtract. She does it out loud before you finish writing down the problems? Oh. Yes, we know that she can write, we saw the frog book that she wrote and illustrated. No one else did a frog book? We should encourage her to write and illustrate her own stories? Oh. Sigh.
I am grateful to have a bright girl. But managing her education is going to be a fuckload of work, and Leelo's got my reserves almost tapped out already. Allow me my peevishness.
Iz's teacher is obviously concerned that Esperanza will not provide the educational fiber our girl needs, and wants us to have Iz come by in the afternoons next year. More child care? Sure! Sounds great. Although I did tell her that Esperanza is completely straightforward about its students receiving minimal English instruction in the first 2.5 years, and that they advise all incoming families to commit to the school through 2nd grade.
The teacher also said that I should talk to the mom of a student who is now in kindergarten at Esperanza. I didn't mention that I chatted with this mom already. The mom gave me the standard ration of crap about RWC schools and how they have no money and how can this be when schools in Men1o Park and Pa1o A1to have foundations with millions of dollars, to which my internal reaction is always twofold: 1) If we're going to invoke stereotypes, then certainly anyone who lives in a house as nice as yours can seed a fucking foundation and 2) Move to godforsaken Men1o or Pa1o already! Jeez.
Seymour took Leelo to get his hair cut on Sunday. The boy was cute before, but now he's just scrumptious. If you don't notice his talony finger- and toenails (trimming them is an ordeal).
Leelo started climbing our biggest oak tree yesterday, out of the blue and apparently for no reason other than because it was there. He got up as high as I would expect a 3 year old boy to get. That is some normal behavior, woo for him!
He had the crazies today during ABA, but had a great OT session in the afternoon. His OT therapist thinks it was because she did some deep-pressure massage with lotion, I think it was because he had a cat nap on the way there. No matter. Great is great.
Food is still brutal territory. He's only voluntarily eating nut butter toast, potato chips, and raspberries. I tried to get him to eat some apple, and he took the fork-skewered piece and shoved it back at me, yelling "Mommy eat apple!" He wolfed down his re-introduced eggs last week, but has refused to touch them ever since. So I put them in his GFCF pancakes (creating a much more tender product that even Iz will eat) and he ate them all. Excellent.
Bedtime is wearing as well. He gets his stories read, songs sung, looks all catatonic, we turn out the lights...and he goes crazy. Bouncing all over his room, trying to sneak into our bed, presenting his escaped self to us for the pure joy of it. Seymour had to put him back in bed 19 times last night, I counted 15 times tonight. That boy is damn lucky he's so cute.
And that's that. Good night.
TweetFingers Crossed Tightly
My pilot brother and his girlfriend are getting their first baby birthed as I write! The little bugger is breech, so he's being delivered surgically. That stubborn breechedness makes sense--his dad is a butthead.
I am thinking good thoughts and happy thoughts for them. Good thoughts and happy thoughts. None of those crappy cynical thoughts about what me and so many of my friends know can go wrong. This is their first. They expect nothing less than a perfect little squiggler, and please oh please heavens above I hope that is what they get.
TweetI Summon Janus
Realization: Leelo's Stanfford evaluation took place exactly one year after the Regional Center evaluation that swept our asses into the world of autism. We've been doing this for a year. Inconthievable.
Thinking of myself from one year ago. That was a sucky, fucked up, flailing period. They told us he was autistic, but they didn't tell us what to do about it other than put him in small-group language classes for 3 hours/week. I became an insomniac, then a pneumoniac (which was a boon as it afforded me the reading time to discover ABA therapy). I spent a lot of time having random sobbing fits in grocery store aisles. Great way to clear any strangers in a fifty-foot radius, guaranteed. Seymour and I took off for a two-week trip to Japan to pretend we were normal people while my parents watched the kids. We returned home, I located Therapist F within hours of stepping off the plane at SFO, and we've been working hard ever since.
We are such pros now. Or at least have gotten used to readjusting our expectations. I'm really starting to think that we might end up with a functional although slightly odd boy. No problem, he will be safe within our extended circle of nerddom. He will be okay.
These tiny hopeful sparks come when we have great weekends like this past one. Leelo kept bowling us sideways, language-wise. He is starting to pull really long sentences out of...thin air. Examples include "I want to see Thomas and Sir Topham Hat and Bertie Bus," "I want to go inside the house," "I want to go in the yellow bed," and (Playing by and talking to himself in playhouse) "Is that an oven? Yes! You're right. That's an oven!" Obviously it would be nice to have a bit more variety and not start most sentences with "I want," but it's all progress. A lot of this is also included in Supervisor M's latest report.
Just now he yelled at kind, patient Therapist L: "I want to go on swing! Open door!" Supervisor M says we'll work on manners soon, too.
He's also now willing to use his yes/no conversational skills with other people, answering their questions if they're worded in Leelo speak. Asking "Is that a dog on your shirt" will get you a Yes or No, whereas "Who is on your shirt? Is it a doggie?" will get you a blank stare. That's alright, too. He'll figure it out eventually.
His language and compliance are good enough that we are starting to use his small playgroups to foster preschool skills, including circle time and all that crap. Important stuff if he ever wants to leave this house. I want him to go to preschool, damn it! I don't care if he's shadowed by an aide.
What is causing this language burst? We added DMG two weeks ago, we started giving him eggs last week. But I don't think either is a factor--Supervisor M's tracking has revealed steady progress regardless of diet or supplement changes. I do think that his little gut was reamed out by all those antibiotics he took for his chronic ear infections, I do think that placing him on a non-irritating diet has transformed him into an extremely healthy boy, and I do think that he has a yeast overgrowth problem. But I suspect and hope that many of the dietary and supplement approaches we've been trying will prove unnecessary in the future. For Leelo specifically, as I also believe that these programs can be critical for other children.
These strides have been accompanied by not-so-pleasant behavioral developments. He's been having lots and lots of tantrums and crying, especially over food. He still can't stand to see us eat, and if we won't let him get down from the table, he stays in his seat but turns around so he can't see us. He's starting to get really angry if things aren't as he thinks they should be, if I dare to wear a hat or if Seymour is wearing sunglasses. I am not pleased as these seem like stereotypical autism traits to me, but Seymour thinks that our boy is finally engaging with his surroundings. Not such a bad thing. I'll take it, if that's what comes along with the language. I'll take it all.
Sappiness alert. You've been warned.
Never, ever will I take where I live for granted. Every morning I wake up, look out the window at the oaken hills of the adjacent nature preserve and think "Holy shit! This is beautiful! I will never take this for granted!"
Yesterday Ep, Leelo, Merlin, Iz, and I hiked from my place to nearby Handlley Rock. It was warm yet breezy, and the kids were fine with the two-mile trek. The area surrounding the rock was almost unrecognizable, completely overgrown after the extended winter rains, but we quickly sussed out the trail and wound our way over to the caves. As the kids hopped about pretending to be bears, Ep and I looked out over the glowing late afternoon hills and I felt soothed and peaceful. All it needed for perfection was a hip flask. What I got instead was a truly horrific diaper from Leelo, but the view was still so gorgeous that I just didn't mind. We're going to be potty training the little bugger in April anyhow.
Other mellow, soul-nourishing Saturday events: Mucking around in the garden, planting white coral bells and mutant dahlia bulbs with Iz; relocating the smelly worm bin to a location non-adjacent to our front door; seeding California poppies, amaranth, and coreopsis willy-nilly all over the yard; a much-savored cheese break; preparing dinner (vegan Thai veggie stew) with Ep to keep me company. I can work in the kitchen indefinitely if someone's there to talk with me. All good.
The latest incident in what I fear will be a life-long pattern: Iz told me the other day that there were three types of amphibians: frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. I consider myself to be relatively well-versed in vertebrate morphology, but was at a loss here. "What is a caecilian?" I asked. "They look like worms!" she said. "Oh," I said, "are you sure you don't mean legless lizards?" She said that it might be possible, and flounced off. Then yesterday she asked me to read her Life Cycle of a Frog book with her, and guess what is says on the first page? "There are three types of amphibians: frogs, salamanders, and the worm-like caecilians."
How could I not have remembered these critters? Is my brain finally turning to stew? It is possible. I am not one of those people who retains everything--if it hasn't been accessed recently, my brain will delete it. I used to be able to read music and play the flute well, speak and write decent French, edit manuscripts, etc., etc. Now my skill set covers wiping small boy bottoms and associated tasks.
However I did not reveal any of this to Iz. I told her instead that I couldn't believe I didn't remember about caecilians, that I'm actually quite smart, and that I learn new things every day, just like her. I do not need contempt from a five-year-old. She admitted that I do indeed know many things, and that I had been right about only male and queen ants having wings, and then only for swarming. So no eye-rolling about her silly mom just yet.
Today we will have another happy day. We will go to church, the first time in months for me as I don't trust the nursery workers to watch Leelo (he's escaped before). I usually send Seymour and Iz as our girl adores Sunday school. Anyhow, Seymour volunteered to work in the nursery this morning so Leelo will be fine there. Later on Godfather M will visit us. I have secret plans to drag everyone out to gorgeous Franklin Point. We shall see.
TweetBully for Bollywood
I hate going to Fremont. I rarely allow the town its given name, preferring to spit out "Fucking Fremont" and then start sulking. This is the city that lured my workplace across the Bay, terminating my bike commuting days and forcing me to shell out toll money each time I escaped. I dislike the place.
Or I did. Until Iz's Godmother Stacy took us to the most fabulous Indian restaurant in the entire world, Bombay Garrdens of Newark (Fremont adjacent). Our local place just can't compete with variety of foods served in the buffet (including the elusive, scrumptious, egg curry), or the ten-foot-wide overhead screen and its continuous Bollywood videos. Heaven! It was packed at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon, so I guess the secret's out.
We had a loverly late lunch. Eventually the conversation turned towards the entertainment, as it tends to do with performance geeks--er--academics like Seymour and Stacy. And what we all wanted to know was this: Did Michael Jackson steal his moves and triangle dance formations from Bollywood? Or was it the other way around? Anyone?
Slightly related embarrassment: I can't stop watching the Toxic video by B. Spears. God and TiVo help me.
TweetThey Make 'Em Cute So You Don't Kill 'Em
Leelo spent the entirety of 4 A.M. to 6 A.M. writhing in our bed like a skinned eel, kicking Seymour in the kidneys, grabbing my hair to pull me in whatever position he deemed optimal for either kisses or rubbing my elbows, and laughing like a loony boy. It did not do much for my reserves of brain-wave-dampening unconditional mommy love.
I couldn't really do anything besides lie there, silently willing him to fall the fuck asleep, vowing to cut off all my hair, and freaking out wondering if I had caused this episode by giving him the eggs his DAN doctor said he could have for dinner. (One result from our series of meetings yesterday was the go-ahead for the methodical re-introduction of eggs and dairy.)
Finally, he started wailing "Pants off! Pants off!" I took his footie jammies off and realized that our otherwise infallible babysitter had put socks on underneath said jammies, and the socks had scrunched down and gotten all uncomfortable. Aiiigh! Why couldn't he have told me this first? Oh, right, we're working on that whole functional language thing.
Waking again after that session was brutal. I snapped out of my haze quickly, though, when I realized we had no more of the boy's rice bread in the house. (He eats very little else nowadays.) Then I relaxed, remembering that we had one loaf left, albeit the kind with forbidden raisins that I'd bought accidentally because it got shelved with the non-raisiny loaves. What the hey, I could just dig out all the raisins and it would be the same as any other loaf of rice bread, right?
Therapist L arrived right after breakfast to begin Leelo's morning session. I decided to take a survey of the yard I've been ignoring since summer, got distracted by a good weedy patch, sat down, and started pulling. Grubbing in the dirt with bird songs swirling about my head while the sun warmed my back proved to be an antidote for my post-AZ black mood. I had begun to truly bliss out, when the front door opened and Therapist L yelled, "Squid! Leelo's barfing! A lot!"
Both he and the carpet were drenched with liquid toast. Seems I didn't get all the raisins out after all and they'd upset his tummy. Poor bit. Bath time for him, me, and the carpet! Lateness for the sacred coffee hour at Main St. Coffee! Damn, damn, damn. He's been fine ever since, it seems. He even played me the Totoro opening song on his kazoo.
I know he's not at fault for any of this. I am just, again, very very tired.
TweetTwo Frank, Funny Females
My OB, upon using her top-secret ultrasound superpowers to discover the fibroid lounging in the top of my womb:
Dr. K: Well, it's just sitting there, sort of poking into your lining. Probably this is why you've been experiencing irregularities. It's not going to cause any problems, though. It won't keep you from getting pregnant. You're not thinking of getting pregnant, are you?
Me: Huh? No!
Dr. K: Because you're kind of old.
Me: What? Hey!
Dr. K: And you only have one working tube.
Me: Yes, I know.
Dr. K: And you already have two kids.
Me: Yes, I know. I am grateful for my blessings.
Dr. K: OK then.
Cut to: Me lounging in the bath this evening after a hell day of dashing all over the Peninsula for Leelo's various appointments. Iz comes barging in and starts up a conversation.
Me: Sweetie, I am taking a bath. This is my private time.
Iz: But Mommy, I missed you today! (Leans over and points at my naked self.) Ooh, I haven't seen that tattoo before. I like it!
Me: Thanks, sweetie.
Iz: And I like that you have hair on your bum-bum. Will I ever have hair like that?
Me: [Urp?] When you're older, and hit puberty. Probably around age 12.
Iz: You have a ring in your belly button. Why don't you have a ring in your eyebrow?
Me: Because I chose to have rings in other places.
Iz: Like where?
Me: Uh... (long explanation, also covering No Tattoos Until You're 18 and why one should not be impulsive about permanent body modifications.)
I will definitely be having a conversation with her before school tomorrow, to make sure that this discussion doesn't become part of show-and-tell.
(Apologies, I have been too wiped and emotional to write or talk about this until now. I still don't have the energy to choose a verb tense or write tidily.)
Leelo's Stanfford evaluation went well. Amazingly so, considering that he had a brown crusty infection in his left ear (go myringotomy! Otherwise he would have been in too much pain to function!)
On Thursday, I met with Dr. Simpson for a one-hour review of Leelo's history. Leelo happily played in the background, and shocked me by pretending some action figures were riding dinosaurs, right in front of the good doctor.
On Friday, Dr. Wilson came and spent three solid hours giving the boy cognitive and verbal tests in the form of simple puzzles and picture identifications. I must say that having an ABA-trained kid was a bonus, as when he got tired during the final hour, we were able to coax more responses out of him using raspberries as reinforcers.
There were lots of excellent surprises: watching him rip through some of the puzzles I thought he might not get, identification of items I thought he didn't know. Lots of frustrations as well, because the tests used specific language and some badly drawn images, and there were many questions he could have answered correctly. I guess this is kind of the point, though.
Part of the testing was an hour of structured farting around, during which Dr. Wilson gauged Leelo's play skills (Dr. Simpson came and observed for this portion, and Leelo wowed him with a "Hi, Dr. Simpson!" They boy's got a knack for faces). I bow before Leelo's ABA therapy team--because of them, Leelo not only knew how to have a pretend birthday party for a baby doll, but he spontaneously pretended to feed Dr. Wilson some playdoh "cake."
Thoughout the testing, Leelo was stimming frequently, both verbally and physically. This was additionally stressful, even though it didn't affect his performance. And anyhow, we wanted their professional opinion on those behaviors, and that would have been difficult had said behaviors not been present.
When the testing was finished, the good doctors released us for an hour. I decided, what the hey, I would go get myself a nice lunch at the cafe across the street, and maybe have a glass of wine to help counter the tautness of my every tendon.
It was not to be. The host seated me next to Seymour's aunt. I don't know her that well, so instead of de-stressing I got to spend the hour doing the kind of brittle socializing that gives me instant tension headaches.
Back to the clinic. Seymour joined us for a 90 minute discussion of the doctors' findings. Which were:
-They consider Leelo to be high-functioning. If you're going to have an autistic kid, this is as good as it gets.
-Leelo is definitely not retarded. This news made me cry, because in November our local regional center had given me a choice of diagnoses for Leelo: autistic or retarded. I truly had no idea how to gauge whether or not the retardation diagnosis was appropriate.
-His verbal skills are at 27 months, and his cognitive skills are at 33 months (he is 39 months old). Again, more sniffing. I was just hoping he'd hit 18 months. I'd no other yardstick other than the "what does your XX month old do" charts, and 18 months was the highest level he'd entirely mastered.
-They think a lot of his stimming happens because he lacks truly functional language. They anticipate that, as his language skills improve, the stimming will decrease. If not, we should at least be able to negotiate with him about appropriate settings for such behavior. Both doctors said it was highly unlikely that the behavior would persist to adulthood.
-They think he will acquire total language. (This is based on their observations coupled with his progress so far: they actually went through the inch-thick stack of medical and behavioral reports I'd prepared for them.)
-Our home program is exactly what they recommend: 25 to 30 therapeutic hours per week, mostly ABA.
-Leelo should have a neurology exam (already scheduled) and a high-level chromosome scan to rule out genetic causes such as Fragile X.
-We need to get our butts going on his IEP.
-No rest for Leelo. Push push push his little butt and keep on him, make him communicate, make him think. He's able to do a lot more than he lets on.
-Bring the boy back for a re-evaluation after he turns five.
I think that's it. Whew. They're going to send us a formal report in a few weeks. In the mean time I am getting Leelo lots of new puzzles.
TweetNod, Smile, Make Rude Gestures
A lot of the time when people natter on about Iz's reading, I just think to myself, "She's been in that preschool for almost three years. That's 50% more time than I spent getting my M.A. Of course she can read."
However one of the nice although slightly snobby and nosy other moms from Iz's school got in my face lately with that whole "You know your girl is a fabulous reader, right?" shpiel. (This mom is also one of those freaks who spends time reading with the kids in the classroom, whereas I deliberately choose offsite tasks such as newsletter and laundry.) Figuring she would be on my wavelength, I voiced my above thoughts on the matter.
She gave me an icy look, paused for a beat, and then said, "My older son also went to that school for three years. He's in first grade now, and is by far the best reader in the class [at snotty Rob Cumulonimbus]. Your daughter is a much better reader than he is [you stupid git]. What are you going to do about that?"
Besides tell you to fuck off about my business? Hmm. Let me think about that. Sell her to a research facility?
Sorry, I am grouchy. And as much as I love my girl, I am already feeling taxed by all the extra effort needed to manage Leelo's needs. I really don't know if I have the energy to manage two non-standard educations.
Also, I don't appreciate the implication that I'm doing jack. I spend a lot of time with her, reading along when she'll let me (so I can point out logic flaws such as Father Christmas telling Susan that her bow and arrow are not to be used in battle because "battles are messy when women get involved," when in fact battles are messy no matter who is involved and that was a silly thing to say to a good archer, etc.). I help her find books at her level for reading alone (not easy, she insists on their having pictures). For fuck's sake, I wrote her a damn book. We seek out challenging puzzles and games. We have interminable discussions about topics like mammalian characteristics and which of her friends are currently barred from holding the presidency due to their foreign births. Need I explain all this?
I don't understand why people freak out about this shit anyhow. Moreover, I don't understand why there aren't programs in place in K-2 for these kinds of kids. It's not as though she's unique. Moomin and Sophie are coming down the pipe, on the cusp of four years old and already reading quite well, thank you very much. Why does everyone react to these kids like they are little aliens? They are legion. They are everywhere. They are going to take over the world. Why is everyone so unprepared?
TweetYou Want Wha...?
I love to read about the really fricking warped google searches that lead web trawlers to folks like Jo and SJ. It is giggle-worthy reading because their hits are varied. "Gassy people" would be a welcome change!
See, I get the occasional ping from people looking for Leelo, squid, or shroomhead, but otherwise it is monotonous variations on incestuous perversion:
mom with fucking child
fuck mom friend
he fucked his mom
son fuck his mom
kid fucks his mom
mom sucks off her son
(I have only included searches for which I am in the top 30.)
So this I say: Sick fuckers, go home. Nothing to look at here, except a grouchy, floppy, exhausted woman with the speech patterns of a truck driver.
TweetTwo Cute Chick Movies:
My Wife is an Actress
Two Unpardonable Chick Movies That Make Me Want to Kick Innocent Bystanders in the Head:
Lovely and Amazing
Anywhere But Here
All courtesy of lame TiVo, which also fucked up on recording this week's Angel.
TweetI Hope You All Rot
I have had it with fuckerwad conservatives who accuse me of being a conspiracist just because I happen to know that there are fucked up things going on with the government, and am not afraid to talk about them. People, THIS is what a conspiracist looks like. I am not one.
I have had it with people who call me a tree-hugger and laugh at my passion for protecting the environment, who sneer and accuse me of valuing plants and animals more than people. I value it all, because it's all interconnected. And not in a dewy-eyed, frolicking with fawns kind of way, but in a scientific way. There aren't too many more links we can eliminate before the entire ecosystem collapses and drags us down with it.
I am practical. And I care. Neither of those things are crimes, unless you are a conservative with your head so far up your ass that you can chew on your own appendix. If this is you, then you can fuck off, and I hope all your descendants contract diseases directly related to environmental damage.
TweetMy Eyes! My Eyes!
If you folks think this new background really sucks, I will change it. I'm a cartographer, dammit, not a web designer!
I was thinking of making more comics about Iz's superhero girl, and posting them online. Only problem is that the domain is already taken...by a porn hosting service. Shit.
TweetHere Is My Plan
1) Steal a Transporter.
2) Steal Hermione's Time Turner.
3) Modify both devices to include remote "bugs" for placing on victims.
4) Use two devices to infiltrate White House and [make someone else] place bugs up GW Bush's rectum, where no one will ever think to look for anything other than his head, which no one values anyhow.
5) Use two devices to make GW Bush spend one dinner hour each day with the family of a soldier killed in Iraq.
TweetHere's to the Gorilla Girl, Gobs and Gobs of Love
One downside of our Phoenix visit--besides being in Phoenix--was that I had to shave my legs if I wanted to go swimming in the warm, citrus tree-circled pool next door.
I don't particularly care to hear about how I really needn't have done this. I went balls-out furry for a while, pits and all, as I am all for anything that simplifies the toilette process. But it just didn't work for me.
I caved in on my pits first, mostly because one of the legacies of the D'Artagnan gene set is high-test primal stench. With fur, the only way to counter my natural odor is hardcore antiperspirants. Which I avoid. That cool crystal jobbie? It works. But not over hair as thick as mine. Bare, slightly stinky pits will have to do, as I prefer to hug my children and friends without having them recoil.
A second D'Artagnan hand-me-down is serious body hair. (My poor, poor brothers and their thatchy, thatchy backs.) This plays out for me not in a unibrow, coarse, or all-over way, but rather in a soft brown pelt from knees down. They've been that way since I was a kid, and how much fun do you think it was to be the skinniest, shortest, and furriest? Really fucking fun, oh yeah. Unless you were me.
My mom forbade me to shave my legs, but by fifth grade I couldn't take the teasing anymore, stole one of her little pink Daisy razors, and grimly hacked away until I ended up with a bathtub full of fur (which I then neglected to rinse out). My mom's first thought on seeing the tub was not that I'd disobeyed her but rather that I'd tried to shave the cat. She laughed when she found out it was my fur, and gave me permission to keep on shaving. Every day. Oh, wait. Fuck.
The shins are as gorilla-like as ever. I don't shave them during the winter as it's not cosmetically necessary and I cherish the extra layer of warmth, but they will always be smooth and bare before I don my springtime capris. I remain eternally in fifth grade on this particular issue. I still hate the shaving, and only do it when absolutely necessary. For instance, if it's winter, I'm vacationing in a place where the air and pool are both 90 degrees, and I want to go swimming.
I did remember to rinse out my friends' tub, though.
I am so tired that I am hiding from kid-bathing Seymour so he doesn't see me crying. I almost started sobbing earlier today, when Leelo recognized by name a friend he only sees about once a month--but that was out of shock and amazement. Seymour probably just thinks I'm in standard early evening Leave Me the Hell Alone grumpyfuck mode.
I keep forgetting what a bad, bad idea whirlwind weekend trips are. They were bad enough before we had kids, and they are several degrees of worse now. Note to my brain: we need buffer time before and after our trips. The kids should never, ever travel during or after their regular bed time.
I need to tattoo all of this on my forehead, so that it's reinforced every time I (remember to) brush my teeth.
That Eating Disorders survey Badger just posted is foul, foul, foul!
Iz and I just had a long discussion over breakfast about "fatness." How if you use that word to describe someone to their face (e.g., Grandma), it can make them cry. How only your doctor can tell you if your weight is unhealthful, about metabolisms and how they change over time, about how fat is necessary for your brain to develop properly but too much of it can be unhealthy (but, again, your doctor is the person who will tell you this). Bleh.
I worry about this a lot, as Iz is her own person in many ways yet soooo susceptible to her friends' opinions. I wonder if this will be as much of an issue in a mostly Hispanic school (if she gets in)? I've never seen any studies about eating disorders in Latino communities. Anyone?