8.31.2004

Dork Alert

I've been known to wear an editor's hat from time to time (mostly during Silicon Valley boom times). That is why it gave me the warm fuzzies to hear my daughter squeak from the back seat: "Mommy! I found an em dash on page 23!"

8.30.2004

The Fun of Being Leelo

One of the good things about Leelo's morning therapist being on vacation is that we get plan all sorts of fun that we haven't time for otherwise. For instance:

On Monday, he visited a really talented pediatric dentist. One who was able to get his mouth open long enough--despite the screaming and flailing--to do a thorough visual exam. Our boy's got good teeth. No visible cavities. This is probably due to the mostly sugar-free diet he was on last year, and the fact that he still eats very few sugary foodstuffs.

Since the dentist didn't see anything amiss, she opted to postpone his first cleaning for 6 months. I prefer her approach to that of the previous pediatric dentist we consulted, who basically threw his hands up in the air and said that if we wanted our son to have a decent dental exam, we'd have to sedate him.

On Wednesday, Leelo got his right ear tube plucked out. It was hanging halfway out anyhow, according to his ENT specialist. (Not something one could see without an otoscope.) If the other tube doesn't come out by October, she's going to pluck it, too. Apparently if they're left in there too long, they can cause funky scarring.

On Friday, he got to visit the chiropractor with me. They chided me about not having visited for over a year. Surely these people understand that, for people like me whose insurance companies laugh at chiropractic claims, coming to see them is not something I do on a whim. One session with them is equivalent in cost to one of Leelo's speech therapy sessions, so guess what choice I normally make. However, I am getting worried about how this last trimester will affect my back, and am going to try to make regular visits. It'll all work out somehow.

Today, Ep, Leelo and I made a lazy trip up to, around, and down the coast from The City. We stumbled across/drove through the Feesherman's Wharf area, which I hadn't been to since I was 15. It looks no different. Leelo celebrated our journey with a big barf in the car. Hurrah! I think he might have swallowed too much pool water at the party yesterday.

Poor little guy. This is what his life as child #2 has always been like--Mr. tagalong. Very few of our destinations hold fun or excitement for him. Good thing our home has both of those things. And poor #3--it'll only get worse.

Wanted: Glow of Pregnancy

I sail through my pregnancies fairly easily, symptoms-wise. No swollen ankles, varicose veins, or hospitalizing morning sickness.

However, I look like shit. Not at all like the backlit woman on the Massengil box, which is how we active breeders are supposed to appear.

You think I jest? Not so. My very own partner burst into giggles when he saw the scribble below--not because it was wrong, but because it was so very right. He even named the points that were spot-on. Bastard. Someone needs to tell him that this is the point where he gets to say "no, honey, you don't really look like that." He is also not allowed to laugh when I do a lumbering elephant walk in a bathing suit.

The rest of you get to play I Spy. See if you can find all the following items in the picture:

-Glistening forehead from hormonally-induced sebaceous overdrive
-Spotty chin from same
-Blob-of-putty nose
-"I haven't dyed my hair since I got knocked up" roots
-Wee piggy eyes due to facial bloating
-"It's almost time to get to work" Knockers of Doom
-Scowl of denial

Good luck!

8.28.2004

Well, As Long As I'm Going Wacky With the Posts



Sure, why not.

From Jo.

But Before I Forget

Two Izisms that would have had me rolling on the floor if I wasn't driving at the time:

1) I gave Iz one of those "Real Live Baby in Utero" magazines that OB offices hand out. It contains photographs from the moment of conception on down. The last montage is four beaver shots of a vaginal birth. Iz's reaction upon seeing this: "What is that goo all over the baby? Ewwww!"

She was totally unpertubed by the baby's head sticking out of the grimacing lady's bum, and instead wanted to talk about the waterproofing role of vernix. I think that's fabulous, and lends support to the argument that if you introduce these subjects early on, they get catalogued in the child's interior "facts" file. The mystery is dispelled, or at least moderated, years before the schoolyard whispering and hooting begin.

2) "¡Atención!" says Iz.
-"Okay, what's up?" says I.
-She says, "That's a cognate of 'Attention'."
-I say somewhat archly, "Really? What's a cognate?"
-She says, "A word that sounds like, or means or is spelled the same as a word in another language."
-I say, "Oh."

A Nice, Friendly, Silly Link

Hopefully this will make up for that last "click and keel over" inclusion. But that one is still my brother's fault (the pilot brother).

This new one was sent by Seymour, and is quite representative of why I chose to live with someone of my partner's temperament rather than remaining with the brotherhood of hyenas.

Get your geek on!

Have been feeling quite shitty lately. Was mostly a lump at Jo's excellent end-of-summer playgroup yesterday. Came home, went to bed the moment Seymour walked in the door from work, and didn't wake up for 11 hours.

I have been self-diagnosed with a UTI. Even better, my doctor agrees. More conveniently, she agreed to phone in a prescription without seeing me, on a Saturday.

UTIs in pregnancy are bad, bad, bad. If they start creeping up to your kidneys, then your body (which knows nothing of the conveniently located downtown dialysis units) will decide that it needs those already-overworked kidneys more than it needs the baby, and will initiate uterine contractions with very little provocation.

I've already been on a two-month pregnancy bedrest (with Iz). I won't do it again. So I'm off to the pharmacy to pick up some antibiotics. This will be the first drug--besides three or four medicinal cups of coffee--that I've taken during this pregnancy. So far my research has uncovered that this drug causes occasional problems in pregnant rats given 68 times the regular human dosage, and very little effects otherwise. I think the trade off is worth it.

Seymour has been watching the kids all day. He has made no fewer than four solo outings with the little beasts--including both breakfast and dinner at restaurants. I am grateful and proud.

Going to get that prescription, and then lie down.

8.27.2004

Thinking Fast

With all the therapist vacationing and schedule conflicts going on lately, I've really had very little time to do anything. But it's probably good practice for what's coming.

I'm not just talking about the bambino, though that'll be interesting too. I'm talking about the schedules and school requirements for the two kids we've already got.

I did realize that Iz's school liked people to help, but I thought it was all voluntary. Like hell. We had to sign a contract stating that we would help the school by volunteering no fewer than two hours per month. Gaaaaar! I don't yet know if this is in addition to the individual teachers' volunteer requests.

Then there's the homework, and the book reading (discussed in La Escuela post below). Many extra hours. Dammit.

Leelo's school requires me to work in the classroom once per week, attend two three-hour evening meetings per month, and put in 12 hours of maintenance hours per year. I knew this coming in, as Leelo attended this same school two years ago. I figured it was manageable, because I didn't know how much parent input was required by Iz's school. Damn it all.

I am seriously missing Iz's "hand them your check and drop kick your child at the door" preschool. Sure, we'd get corralled for the occasional project, but nothing like the kind of needs either of the kids' present schools have.

Not to be outdone by myself, I've signed Iz up for both a Karate and a Ballet class. Normally I am a big one to scoff at people who sign their kids up for art and gymnastics and horseback riding and tutoring and soccer and piano and ballet and origami and acting all at the same time--but she has been bugging me about these classes for some time now, they are offered cheaply and for eight-week-only sessions by our local fabulous Parks and Rec dept., and I figure she might as well do it now--once the baby arrives she won't be doing anything except school and tutoring.

And of course there's Leelo's home ABA schedule, plus his once again rearranged speech and occupational therapy schedules...ooooh, my head hurts.

This probably reads like a big ranty complaint, but mostly it's an exercise in showing myself what exactly it is that I've signed up for for the next few weeks. Clarifying and reminding. Wish me luck.

Sorry, Dudes

Figured the title of the previous post would be enough to warn people that the link really, really sucked. Guess not.

You can always forward it on to someone you don't really like as a bcc: so they'll think it's a mass emailing to all your friends and not just targeted at them.

8.26.2004

The Degree to Which My Brothers Suck Cannot Be Properly Quantified

Because, for instance, they send me crap like this.

(Try to figure out the differences between the two pictures.)

La Escuela

Iz's school has the a color-coded card-based behavior tracking system. If you're good all day your card stays green, one warning and it's yellow, etc. Iz got a yellow card once last week for not listening, and was totally distraught.

She is figuring things out, though, and I think once the Spanish is more manageable she will be completely in her element. She comes home more pleased about what she's learned than angry about what she doesn't understand these days. A nice switch. Her tutor started yesterday, was totally impressed by her abilities and even called her teacher to let her know just what Iz's capabilities are (again, as far as Iz is concerned, her teacher speaks only Spanish). Things are rolling along.

The hardest part for me is the homework. I have zero patience with any kind of teaching. What is this shit? I don't have time for it! But it is leveled perfectly for her. If it was in English she would be wonky-bored, but in Spanish it's just challenging enough. And she's fast enough at it that if we skip a day she can make it up easily--especially since the homework is sent home on Friday and due the next Thursday.

Her pronunciation and sight-reading in Spanish are already really good. But she is aghast that almost no one in her class knows how to read in English. I had to explain to her about her school not teaching English reading until the end of grade 2, and that not only do many children not attend reading-friendly schools like her former preschool, many children don't attend preschool at all before going to Esperanza. And many of them come from Spanish-only households. There is no reason why any of her classmates should be reading in English.

We have to read at least one book a night to her in Spanish. Ay, mi cabeza.

This is flat and factual because I am again tired tired tired. More later.

8.25.2004

Think Pink!

Two Peeks Into Iz's Brain

Overheard by JP in our backyard yesterday:

Elise: Izzy, I like your backpack. What's in it?

Iz: Oh nothing, I just carry it to look cool. That's what all the cool kids do.

Okay...

As recommended by the RE (Religious Ed) folks at our church, we've given Iz a book called What Is God? She asked Seymour to read it to her in bed last night.

Seymour: ...People of the Jewish religion read a holy book called the Torah. Christians read the Bible, Muslims read the Koran, Buddhists read the Sutras, Hindus read the Vedas...

Iz: What do Unitarians read?

Seymour: Um, we read all of those books!

8.24.2004

I Am Tired, Iz Is Wired

Not posting much lately because Therapist F (mornings) is on vacation for two weeks and Therapist L (afternoons) had to cancel yesterday. That plus two dinner parties at our house in three days (much fun, not complaining), being one week away from my third trimester and entering the "oof, grunt" stage of pregnancy, and an icky attack of back pain/sciatica last night means I've been grumpy, tired, and uncommunicative. Especially since I forgot to ask Seymour to rearrange all the furniture so that our living room can revert to Therapy status (it is currently in Party mode). Maybe I can harness the cats.

Iz is on fire today, because she's going to go get her first ever manicure this afternoon. Now, clean that coffee spray off your monitor and let me explain why I am letting a five-year-old girl get her nails done: The allure of a manicure has gotten her to stop chewing her nails to bloody quicks, cold.

Once I explained that she couldn't wear nail polish if she bit her nails because it was poisonous if she chewed it off, that I couldn't put nail polish on her anyway because I am pregnant, and that she couldn't go have someone else do it until she had nails capable of being trimmed, she stopped. I didn't even have to remind her: she kept showing me how "long" her nails were getting. The local shop charges $10, so I figure that's equal to or cheaper than any other commercial solution.

Although this means she has redoubled her toenail chewing efforts. Ewwww.

8.22.2004

Leelo's Preschool Goals

Here is what we hope Leelo will be able to do at his preschool, as summarized by Supervisor M:

1) Greetings: When people greet Leelo hello and goodbye, he will respond with a greeting. He will also spontaneously greet people when he sees them.

2) Sharing materials/toys: Leelo will ask for a turn with a desired toy, and give a toy to a peer when they ask for it.

3) Attend/respond when called by name: Leelo will look up when someone calls him, and will respond with a "yes/no" or other appropriate response.

4) State his needs and desires in simple three to five word sentences.

5) Observe and imitate simple actions by teacher and peers.

6) Sit in a group activity for three minutes.

7) Begin to follow simple, repetitive daily routines.

8) Follow simple one and two step directions.

Preschool starts September 13...

8.21.2004

Oh, Poop

Seymour and I were having a quiet moment together before the house awoke. I heard, and Seymour saw, the pants- and diaper-free Leelo as he trotted past our door and up the stairs, but as we were disinclined to get out of bed we figured he'd be fine for two minutes.

Oh no. Seymour went up to get him after those two minutes had elapsed, and there was shit everywhere--on the couch and the carpet. Thankfully the floor was relatively clear of the usual piles of books and toys, so the mess could be handled with sponges and our much-abused steam cleaner.

Since we try very hard to be optimists, I am pleased that he's showing awareness of his bodily functions. I believe he took off his drawers because he needed to do his business, and didn't want it in his diaper where he'd have to sit on it. So, yay. But double yay when he figures out that it's best placed in the potty, not on the floor and his legs.

8.20.2004

Good Day

Leelo has been having a fantastic few days.

I took him to the kiddie pool to bounce around while Iz had her swimming lesson. Instead of his usual blissful solo splashing, he kept demanding that I join him and play with him in the pool. At first I thought it was because the pool was empty save him, but he came back to get me even after other kids arrived.

I was bittersweetly delighted, because, while any interaction is wonderful, I have been very tired lately and so had been looking forward to a relaxing half hour plopped on a chaise lounge, alternating between watching Leelo frolic and watching my belly dance (the thirdling is one active baby).

Cousins Danielle and Elise arrived when Iz's lesson was over, and I agreed to accompany them all to the big pool. I brought Leelo, too, as a test of his pool-friendliness. Our boy has had some of his biggest freakouts in pools where he couldn't touch the bottom, so I had to warn the girls that we might not be able to stay.

I needn't have worried--Leelo had the Best Time Ever, letting me swoosh him around in the water, playing on the pool steps, and even asking me to let him hang on the wall like a baby monkey. No freaking at all. Seymour couldn't believe it, when I told him about it.

Funny thing is that he's been having a crappy time with his therapists. But because I am selfish, I don't care. I'd rather he was actively soliciting my company as a playmate and talking with me, greeting his daddy verbally and enthusiastically, and yelling out identifications like "That's Tigger!" in the grocery store, than spending a single good moment in therapy.

We recently hung some Totoro and Pee Wee Herman mini posters right over his bed. They make him so happy! He keeps patting them as if not quite believing that two of his very favorite personalities will really be right there looking over him as he sleeps.

He has started to say "No thank you!" when he really doesn't want something, for instance his Teeva sandals placed on his feet. We didn't teach him this; he picked it up by observation. That's the kind of learning kids like him aren't supposed to be able to do...

Iz is having a better time at school, according to both her and the maestra. She keeps asking me "¿Cómo se dice..." about various words, and came home aspout and so proud of her new knowledge: "Hoy es viernes, ayer fue jueves, mañana será sábado." I think it's taking.

She has decided that she wants to be an inventor when she grows up. Latest idea: removable epoxy for strapless swim goggles. She's still a little unclear on the difference between epoxy and glue, even after Seymour filled her in on the dual roles of adhesive and hardener, etc.

I have figured out a way to get her to read fiction: use a book from which a beloved movie was adapted. Right now she is plowing through Kiki's Delivery Service. (Although I suspect she's still more interested in her "Secrets of Science" encyclopedia.)

And she's learning to do the breastroke in her swimming class, to this former competitive swimmer's surprise and delight. I thought she was still only learning to avoid doing the dog paddle.

Rah!

I Have the Rockingest Friends

From Ep:
I think getting Iz a tutor is a most excellent idea. Kids who get tossed into total immersion in a foreign language are typically getting immersed in the language that is dominant, eg. TV, bill boards, store signs, etc. Hispanic kids live in an Anglo world, except when they are at home. It's like Seymour's dad learning English - it's not like he wasn't totally surrounded by the English language once he got here. It's impossible for you to provide a Spanish world for Iz, unless you relocate to Forth Nair Oaks ... , so I think tutoring is a superb plan.

8.19.2004

Tizzy

I've been not posting much because things have been busy. As previously noted, crazy-busy. Don't know why, and can't recall the details. Too busy.

Poor Seymour came home from his bike trip with a horrible cold, and so spent his landmark 35th birthday in bed. I am a deplorable wife because I didn't do anything special to celebrate his birthday, or get him any presents--because, as he said, he just went on a big old biking trip, and got himself a new full-suspension ride. What could I possibly do after that?

Iz lost her second tooth on Sunday. This time she didn't swallow it, and
instead carried it around like a talisman all day until she put it under her
pillow at night (using the lovely French porcelain tooth box Aunt Hootie gave
her and which Leelo does everything in his power to steal whenever possible).
The Tooth Fairy brought her a whole dollar, which she delightedly spent on a
bottle of soda.

She is having an okay time at school. She loves her friends and recess time,
but is still mostly lost in class. She sees no point in paying attention to things she doesn't comprehend, and so amuses herself by sharpening her pencils all day instead of doing her classwork. I have resorted to bribing her--if the maestra tells me our girl was a good listener, she gets a book or a trip to the library.

I am spending a lot of time translating her school- and homework for her, but boy does my Spanish suck. I am leaning heavily on online translators, my Spanish/English dictionary, and Google image search for verification.

We are going to get a Spanish tutor for her one day per week until she figures everything out, as again she is the only student in her class without a working grasp of the language. I feel kind of silly about this, as students get tossed into other-language classrooms all the time without much in the way of support, but it can't hurt either.

I don't want her to get so angry that she shuts down and off about anything en Espanol. We expected this part to suck, and it does. It's not all bad, as she comes home with new phrases and vocabulario every day, and gets very excited about sharing them with us. Plus much of what they're doing is retread work for her--letters and numbers, etc. The fact that it's in Spanish makes no difference much of the time. I still think we are doing the right thing, and can't imagine what she would have done in kindergarten.

In the meantime we're to read to her in Spanish at least 20 minutes per day. If reading Green Eggs and Ham makes your head split or spin, try reading about Juan Ramon and his Huevos Verdes con Jamon. Just thinking about that book makes my forehead throb.

Iz's best proclamation of late: "I hate stupid gravity! I can almost fly, but gravity keeps pulling me down. I wish the earth was smaller so its gravity wasn't so strong." She has also been demanding that I tell her which fishes live at which depths in the ocean and why, and will not accept my word that epoxy is stronger than glue (although when Rook backed me up today she seemed more convinced). Because her maestra will not speak in or listen to English, I wonder if she'll ever know how Iz's brain really works.

Leelo is doing really well cognitively and socially. He just did a runaround, telling his dad "I want to play with the chess pieces!" because his evil mommy stuck them out of reach on the top shelf in our bedroom. He has been playing much more interactively, and been very actively seeking out people he enjoys. Good sign.

I took the kids to the park Monday afternoon to play with their friends. Ep had a big bag of cheesy puffs that Leelo was just desperate to chow on. So I told him that he had to go over and ask Ep for some. He did, perfectly! At first he only mumbled something about cheesy puffs, but when Ep withheld the booty and said "Leelo, what do you want?", he said clear as day, "Ep, I want cheesy puffs." Woo!

Physically and emotionally, things are a bit rougher. He is still sick. Still! It's been almost two weeks, but his pediatrician is unimpressed. It's just a cold. It doesn't affect his therapy all that much, except on days like today where something about his illness kept him (and Seymour, and me) up most of the night. We are all wrecked.

Which reminds me, if you ever need to know exactly what I'm thinking, all you have to do is deprive me of my beloved sleep. When I get really sketchy, I don't have time to react to what I'm saying until it's out of my mouth. And while some of you might be thinking "and that is different from your usual bluntness how?", trust me, it gets worse.

Linky-Dink

Please welcome FrumDad to the sidebar. I no longer have it in me to resist his charms. If you need additional convincing, check out his comments on the 8/12 GAAAH! post below.

8.18.2004

Article

Here is the latest Leelo Article. I am not all that excited about the pictures in the print copy--though the Leelo photo shows off the electric orange of our living room walls to great effect, I think they chose that image specifically because Leelo "looks" autistic.

The photo of me, well, I will be very pleased when this pregnancy is over and my nose no longer looks as though I had a protracted and not entirely successful boxing career. Though my hair looks good! Kudos to my stylist/doula for the excellent cut.

Newsworthy

Wow. So many different folks stopping by. I had no idea. Thanks for surfacing.

The last two days have been crazy-busy. And now I'm off again, as the Saint Matthew County Times afternoon edition contains another Leelo article. This time I will buy multiple copies for 50 cents each, instead of making 99 cent color copies (duh!).

Apparently the shots of Leelo are bug-cute, the one of Therapist F shows the back of her head, and the one including me demonstrates how well I can close my eyes.

Will link to online version in a bit.

8.16.2004

Big Picture

When people discuss what it's like to be autistic, they often say it's like viewing life from under water, or being trapped on an alien planet whose inhabitants have no context with which to understand your language, gestures, or needs. What they don't always mention is that it's like that for parents, too. Except we're the ones standing on the shore, screaming and waving and trying to get the mermaid's attention. We're the ones desperately trying to communicate with the resident alien.

You get used to--although never comfortable with--a certain helplessness. This feeling intensifies when your child's behaviors and responses fluctuate or regress--or sometimes even when they improve, because you never know why, or how to maintain whatever set of factors led to the breakthrough. Because no one knows a fucking thing about where autism comes from, and therefore no one can guarantee that pushing button A will give you effect B. There are no clear causes and effects. It's maddening.

What about ABA therapy? you ask. Well, yes, it is a proven aid. For a lot of kids, though not all. Our experience has been that, when it works, its effects are broad, cumulative, and often ephemeral rather than specific, immediate, and permanent. We've got reams of data testifying to all the things Leelo can now do, but if you kick him out into the real world, his skills set fizzles down to one or two abilities, and sometimes even those peter out. The process is a really slow, nerve-wracking bunny hop.

Why does this happen? Again, we don't know. Leelo's lapses and leaps, and his bad days and good days are increasingly unrelated to any treatment, intervention, or condition that we can identify.

The one dependable factor had been that when he is ill, everything goes to shit. Yet this past week, while he was horribly ill, he was initiating interaction like never before, coming up to me several times a day, grabbing my hand, and telling me exactly what he wanted to do. He demanded that the therapists "Play with me!" He formed sentences of unprecedented length, such as "I want to sit in my chair and eat cheesy puffs!"

What to make of this? Folks who follow the DAN protocol know that the doctors have parents obsessing over every possible cognitive or behavioral fluctuation as it relates to diet and supplements, and trying to modify the diet accordingly.

If I put myself in this mindset, then I have to consider that the biggest dietary side effect of being sick has been that he's been unwilling to eat much, and so has been off most of what supplement crap we're still doing. Plus we were out of Lactobaccillus during the weekend and he missed a couple of doses of cod liver oil. Are we overdosing him on something? Is he sensitized to the Lactobaccillus? Is that it? Is it? I'm fucked if I know.

As are a lot of parents. To paraphrase my dear friend MB, there are days when you know not a single thing has changed--not diet, schedule, or well-being--and your child still takes a sharp left turn into loopy-land.

The small, beleaguered rational part of my brain knows that these kids, like all kids, are unpredictable. They go through phases, they have bad days. Whereas someone else's three-year-old might be having a bout of tantrums, I've got a boy who spent the weekend hiding behind a screen of jolly but unintelligible chatter.

I've heard from parents a few years farther down this path that the ups and downs are usually unrelated to anything external, and that we should just hang in there. The progress will come. And I do cling to these thoughts, I do use them to keep me going. Because even though he has entire days of almost-unreachability, there are times when he lets the curtain drop and I get to see what he's really doing, what he's really capable of.

In addition to the verbal whoop-de-do mentioned above, he's started playing differently. He's exploring, figuring things out on his own, without being prompted. He's never done this before. The other night he had an epiphany about playing scales on his toy piano. The notes! They can be played in sequence! He also finally figured out this fucking farm toy that he's had for two years, that I've tried repeatedly to demonstrate, and that I was on the verge of jettisoning. And light switches! They have functions! And they're all over the house! All good.

We also see just how capable he is communicating when he's sick and has no patience. Instead of collapsing in a heap and crying with frustration because he doesn't feel well enough to spend four hours doing tricks, he will tell the therapists "Bye, bye!" by name, grab their arms, and start dragging them towards the door. If they don't get it, he will open the door and reiterate that they are no longer welcome.

Yet he still has weird omissions. Last week he forgot where his shoulders were, and was finding it difficult to do non-prop aided two-step instructions (e.g., turn around and clap your hands). The latter might be because he has hypotonic muscle tone (according to the Stanfford neurologist), but what of the former? Why does it take so long for things to stick without daily reinforcement?

Why why why? Why is he so unpredictable? Last week, when he was extra-fidgety and I thought he was going to have a horrible OT session, he had his best one ever--wearing his audio-therapy headphones for the entire session rather than five minutes, and talking to the therapist rather than having her prompt him. But then he had an extra-crappy speech session afterwards. And then this week, although he seemed more settled, his OT session was horrible.

I've just got to get used to being useless, to explaining that there is no explanation, to answering that there is no answer. I have to tell myself the same things I keep telling Seymour, because if he believes them then maybe I can too, and both of our hearts can stop breaking.

Big picture, I tell him. Don't get bogged down by the details. Look at the data, look at what he can do. Think about how different he is from last year's Leelo. There are kids who never even get to where he is. He's three. Three-year-olds are as changeable as weathercocks. He's about to go into preschool, and that's the point at which your co-worker's nephew completely blossomed. We're doing what we know works. He's doing great.

Even though we don't really know why.

The 500 Club

According to the new and steroid-powered Blogger interface, this is my 500th post. In just over a year. Damn. Lots of brain dumping.

Which makes me wonder who some of you people are. Show yourselves! I mostly mean that in a hey, please confirm that the Eastern Canadian who spent 148 minutes going through the archives last night is not my Auntie Irie, Auntie Marta, or Auntie Ava, thanks very much kind of way. Plus I am nosy and like to know who's being regularly nosy in return.

8.13.2004

Wherein Margaret Cho Capsulizes My Feelings on the CA Gay Marriage Fracas Perfectly

Bless her.

Just Like Pulling Taffy

Just got back from the monthly trip to the OB. All is well. Our feisty little bit even gave the good doctor a "piss off!" kick while she was trying to find its heartbeat.

This is apparently the "so, about birth control?" visit. I told my doctor that I'll be getting my tubes tied, since Seymour has a phobia about sharp things and his reproductive organs. She whipped out the paperwork, and I signed.

Then she described the procedure: while I am still in the hospital post-birth, she will make a small incision in my belly button. She'll just reach in, pull each tube out through the incision, and tie it off. Yummy. I wonder if she'll let me watch.

---

Seymour is away on a mountain biking trip and Leelo is having an inexplicably fucking loopy day. I have very much not gotten used to our new and improved Early Riser schedule (Iz has to be at school across town at 8:10). I am frustrated and sleepy. Have a good weekend.

8.12.2004

GAAAAAAH!!!

Thank you, fuckwads on the California Supreme Court:

"...Accordingly, for the reasons that follow, we agree with petitioners that local officials in San Francisco exceeded their authority by taking official action in violation of applicable statutory provisions. We therefore shall issue a writ of mandate directing the officials to enforce those provisions unless and until they are judicially determined to be unconstitutional and to take all necessary remedial steps to undo the continuing effects of the officials' past unauthorized actions, including making appropriate corrections to all relevant official records and notifying all affected same-sex couples that the same-sex marriages authorized by the officials are void and of no legal effect."

8.11.2004

Goddammit!

Until five minutes ago, I was on fire about a book idea I had for this year's el cheapo xeroxed kiddie holiday presents. Then I spent two minutes doing research and found no fewer than three almost identically-themed books. Grrrrrr.

I will tweak my theme slightly, and make my book far better than those globs of treacle could ever hope to be. So there.

Punchy

As I am loopy with fatigue, this one had me hooting like a drunken owl. Credit goes to FrogBlog:

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

“Make me one with everything.”

8.10.2004

Seer Badger

Somehow Badger knew that a fucked-up day was coming down the pipe.

Not enough that I am already so completely tapped out, mentally and physically, that I kept falling asleep during Leelo's team meeting.

Not enough that the cat peed all over the bed. (See below)

Not enough that Leelo is snorfly-sick and had a unprecedented complete meltdown this morning, necessitating much mommy-only soothing and cooing and watching of Dorka the Explorker before he'd agree to resume his sessions.

No, the powers that be decided that in order to make this day really special, I needed an unannounced, overnight visit from my parents' friends and their motorhome. My parents' fundamentalist, we-have-been-saved-and-there's-hope-for-you-too, dinner-expecting friends.

A bit of backstory: These are the same people who are irked with my pilot brother for knocking up and then cohabitating with yet not marrying their granddaughter. The same people who I guess have never heard of consensual sex.

I so want a stiff drink.

FREE CAT TO GOOD HOME

Well, not really. I am thinking more along the lines of putting Scabby in a box and leaving her on someone's doorstep.

Something is going on with that cat. I am not sure what, but after dispatching the futon she has taken it upon herself to now piss all over my bed, too. The door was in no way closed, and there haven't been any major upheavals in the household of late (kids over, furniture moved into a different place, etc.).

I don't have the time or energy to elaborate on why she is far more work than a cat should ever be. And this from me, who wants to drag home every cat I ever meet and has sat up with Scabby all night many a times trying to figure out what's behind the piteous meowing.

I love her but she is the most neurotic fucking cat I have ever met, and her cute, snuggly, tribble-like qualities do not in any way compensate for nine years of this crap.

And, no, I'm not really going to do anything with her. But I was already having a crapworthy day.

No Problema

Iz's first day was fine. She got to sit next to Blue, who then introduced her to other friends. Since she's a volatile girl, her reports on the silly new chants she learned at recess and learning los dias de la semana were punctuated with passionate recriminations about not allowing her to start in kindergarten. She is pissed off at not being able to understand what people are saying to her.

I explained to her that she would have the same experience in kindergarten, as it also is complete immersion. I then reminded her about her grandfather's experience being dropped in the middle of English-only 6th grade with no assistance whatsoever, and his quickly learning everything so well he became a doctor. Even he said the first weeks of immersion sucked.

She seemed comforted. But she still got ice cream, many reassurances about her resilience and bravery, and one of the pink hydrangea plants she's been coveting ever since she discovered that her traitorous mother chose to make our hydrangeas blue instead of pink.

And that Spanish video we got at the library, the one she watched only under protest until yesterday? She has sweetly requested that I go renew it right away.

8.09.2004

Adiós, Mija...

A new era has begun. Our Iz is at this very moment sitting at a real desk, in a real school. I wonder how great a surprise public first grade will be to her, coming from the monastic calm and individualized attention of her MonteCristo preschool.

We arrived on time, and she lined up with all the other kids. I was worried about her shortness, about her looking obviously out of place, but she blended in, height-wise. She shrank back a bit from all the noise and chaos rumbling around her, hanging on to my hand while looking shyly about for familiar faces. (Unfortunately the two children she knows were late, and didn't arrive until after she was inside.)

The teacher (maestra) arrived spot on time to herd the kids into the classroom. And there the real shock hit our girl square in the stomach and was evident on her face: class policy is to speak only en Español.

Iz didn't quite understand that knowing los colores, los números, mucho vocabulario, and having an opinion as to whether or not Ch and LL should have been deleted from the official alfabeto does not actually mean she can speak or understand Spanish. She finally realized that she is rudderless in the classroom, language-wise. The only benefit I can imagine for the first few weeks is that she won't be able to talk (back) so much, because she won't know how.

I hope she doesn't end up crying. She can be tough, but she's also only five years old. I hope the other students, including her friend Blue, will be kind enough to help her out. It's a six-hour day, with completely new routines and an assumption of independent functioning on the kids' parts. Difficult enough if you're the only new student in the class, but doubly taxing in a foreign language. She will definitely have earned some nice comforting ice cream or McFuckwad's, this afternoon.

I left her in the classroom (*sob*) and walked back out to the playground, where I found Blue's mom and a circle of her friends chatting. Blue's mom is a glamorous, gregarious Kiwi, and lost no time in telling all the other parents how Iz skipped a grade and in her opinion is totally brilliant and perfect and amazing. Shit. I had hoped to avoid Iz's being outed; while most people are cool, parents can be grimly competitive, and I like lying low.

I got four nods and smiles, and then they started chatting away about signing up volunteers for the book fair. Whew. I had no chance (or inclination, really) to tell them the real story, which is that our girl skipped nothing, and instead finished kindergarten early. Oh well.

Perhaps her age won't be an issue. But even the maestra, when we came to visit on Friday, commented that "ella es una poco joven." Perhaps, but I doubt that many of the other kindergardeners would want to listen to Iz's theories about bringing plants to Mars to convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to usable oxygen--in either language. This is the best schooling solution we have for her, for now.

Three more hours. I hope she's doing okay.

8.08.2004

Milestone

Tomorrow is Iz's first day of school. Real school. Public school. First grade school. I will write more about this after I drop her off in the morning and the complete and utter fucking shock of this milestone has thawed enough for me to ruminate about it.

8.06.2004

Back

Very tired. And in case you're looking for candidates for this year's Complete Fucking Idiot awards, I nominate myself for wearing brand new shoes during a whirlwind travel and event day. My feet look and feel like someone took a birch switch to them. Stupid! Stupid! One of the dangers of a shopping style that prohibits spending more than five minutes in any given store. "Yes, those look fine. Please ring them up. No, I don't need to try them on."

Yesterday was a big whirl. Seymour and I got an ironical kick out of getting to spend our ninth wedding anniversary together, sans kiddies. (After he reminded me that it was our anniversary, that is. I did write "whirl.") We also greatly enjoyed skipping from airport point to point like happy little child- and luggage-free butterflies.

The service was lovely, and just what Seymour's grandmother wanted. Everyone behaved themselves. We could almost feel her there, nodding and approving, telling people to adjust things just so. She will be missed.

After the service was a reception, also lovely. With tons of sushi, shellfish, salmon, caviar, and an open bar. I know it is a privilege to be pregnant, but I still drowned my bitterness in a series of Shirley Temples.

Then one of the attendees invited us to hang out on his boat. His 150-foot boat. Damn! All I will write here is that I am glad the boat makes its owners so deliriously happy. It was fun to hang out on the prow with my cocktail glass full of grenadine and soda, and field questions from looky-loos.

"Is that your boat?"
*snicker* "Yes."
"How much did it cost?"
"I would have to be a lot more drunk to ask that question."
etc.

While we were in the alternate universe of yachthood, My gorgeous, darling sister-in-law Bree cornered me and started asking about baby names. I forgot that I'd told her some of my favorites after Leelo was born, since, y'know, we weren't intending to use them.

She asked me point-blank about our girl's name, and told me that there were four little girls with that name in her daughter Leigh's class. I think I kept a straight face in telling her that I shy away from popular names, but I'm sure she read much into my non-answer. But as she also told me that the four girls were British, a quick SS name check for last year puts the name at 400+ in popularity, and I have dreamed about using this name since I was eight, I will hold true. Unless it's a boy.

Another whirly plane and then taxi ride, and we returned to a home with peacefully sleeping kiddies--and an office where Scabby the cat decided to protest our absence by peeing all over the futon. GAAAAAAAH. Does anyone know if this futon can be saved?

8.04.2004

Off

To Orange County. Just for the day. For a memorial service.

It will take place in the part of Orange County that lives up to the stereotypes codified by Reagan politics, and the eponymous movie and TV series.

It will not take place in the part of Orange County where I grew up, which is an ugly fucking grid, and is the birth place of agro/goof bands like Agent Orange, The Vandals, The Offspring, and The Aquabats.

The Northern O.C. spirit that I love so much, and which has not a farking thing to do with the carefully planned, conservative shopping mall that is Southern O.C., is summed up well in this most romantic of all songs, Skateboard! by The Aquabats:
I just wanted you to come over
Sit on the couch and hold me tight
But you went out with some dumb jock
And left me alone with my skateboard tonight

Nostalgic sigh.

Back some time in the wee hours.

8.03.2004

Baby. Healthy. Modest.

Ah, yes. The results of the level II ultrasound. Sorry, the Pat drama was distracting. Dear darling Clyde came over and got him out yesterday. I don't know where Ep found her partner, but he is a gem. And he was willing to work for Smarties (the Canadian M&M kind) and Seymour's hand-me-down first generation Treo.

Ultrasound. Try as they might (and they tried jiggling the baby quite a few times, to my great surprise), they could not get our modest little thirdling to uncross his or her legs. The only thing they would commit to is that they couldn't find a penis, but that doesn't mean it wasn't tucked down safely out of view.

The baby seems mightily healthy. The technicians and doctor spent a good 30 minutes ultrasounding, and didn't see anything off. I know this because they said they would tell me if there were any anomalies. I'm assuming they're litigation-savvy enough not to lie to patients.

Iz was fascinated by the baby's face, mouth, hands, feet, skull, ribs, spine, beating heart, etc. She said, "Is the baby head down yet?" and the technician assured her it was. No breech birth for me, whew! Another big whew: the placenta is nice and posterior, instead of previa (covering the cervix) like it was initially.

Because I will be 35 for all of 6 weeks by the baby's due date, they asked me if I wanted to see a genetic counselor. I declined. They kind of shit I'm worried about wouldn't show up, anyhow.

As for boyness and girlness, the rest of you will find out when I do.

Pat in a Tree! How Can That Be?

Pat the cat somehow got himself treed. He's been up there since yesterday afternoon. I've no idea how this happened. I figured he'd be down by now, and so was entirely uninvolved while Ep and Jo took turns trying to croon and coax him out of his nest. They are such suckers for his cuteness, whereas I have achieved partial immunity over the past ten years.

Pat's been treed once before, when a friend's 'friendly' dog decided chasing cats was more important than listening to his owner. Our blue-eyed rascal was up there for more than three days, until a friend loaned me his electrician's 30 ft. ladder, my very strong neighbor came over and helped set it up and held it while I climbed to the ladder's top, and I plucked poor dehydrated, stinky Pat from the last branch I could have possibly reached.

I can't do that this time, obviously. Plus, this is a different trees, with a deck on one side, and a ten-foot drop off to the yard on the other. Yikes.

We give Pat a lot of grief over being cute yet not-so-bright. I think the real problem is his eyesight--he has a wandering eye, and I'm guessing this means he has no depth perception. No wonder he's scared to climb down a nearly vertical, limbless tree. I'll give him another few hours, and will then start formulating plans.

And, no, the local fire fighters will not come get him, because of liability. Bad things would happen if they arrived at a fire too late, just because of someone's pussy.

8.02.2004

Ultrasounding

The level II ultrasound is this afternoon. My heart just skipped a beat on writing that. I am nervous yet giddy, as I've never seen one of these high-res dealies. Toes! Fingers! Let's hope!

Iz is going with me, as it'll be fascinating for her, and I think I can trust the doctor to keep a straight face and voice if there are any irregularities.

Until then, I am trying to catch up with my real life, and so will respond to the comments for which I am ever so grateful this evening.

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