5.28.2005

Oh Yeah, This Is Why I Switched to Decaf

It is almost 11 P.M. Mali is still up. Not sad, fussy awake--no. Loud, alert, playful awake. All smiles and happiness unless I put her down.

For the record, Iz is still awake, as well. She had a hard time going to sleep, so I told her she could go in my bed and read by my reading lamp. I figured she'd be asleep within 15 minutes. That was two hours and two books ago.

This Is Not My Beautiful House

There is a house on my street for sale. For $2,149,000. Pick yourself up off of the floor and read that last sentence. It is not a typo.

For the record, such a price is atypical of our otherwise overlooked, grubby street. (Struggling do-gooders like Jerk Hinkey live here, for heaven's sake.) The marketed home is monstrous (5 bed /4 bath) and has a wine cellar, true. But, like every other house on our street except our own, it has 1) NO parking and 2) is on an extremely steep slope. Who would pay so much money for such an inconvenient house? I guess we'll find out.

Nosy people, email me and I'll send you the slide show.

On another street note, that slender stand of bamboo on that other improbably steep slope at the blind intersection of our one-lane street and the incredibly busy Miralago is actually...a "buildable" lot. Which has been cleared and I'm guessing will be built on, imminently. I am once again amazed by the beaver-like ingenuity of people in my neighborhood when it comes to figuring out how to shoehorn in and prop up yet another house.

Fretting About Mali

Mali has her MYND Institute appointment on Tuesday.

For the most part, I feel good about her. She is a different baby these past two weeks, vocalizing with consonants when she's upset and increasingly when she just feels like it; sitting up unsupported in my lap for a good few seconds before falling over; really exploring the five or six hundred bells and manipulatives on her overstimulator, er, exersaucer; keeping most of her food in her mouth when she eats; sipping and actually swallowing water from my an open cup without spilling; checking out everything in the whole world with interest. And her eyes, sadly, look like they're about to change. Instead of bright blue, they appear to be the slate blue that Leelo's turned at this same age, right before they went hazel.

Even with all the amazingness she's demonstrating, I can't help but worry about her. She's starting to make jerky movements with her arms. It could be that this is the first step towards total control of said limbs, or it could be the beginning of the type of spastic movements I noticed in Leelo when he was an infant but was told to not worry about. She appears to be very social, but is so only from non-confrontational distances. She doesn't like to look me in the eyes if I have her in my lap. Unless it's her choice. She keeps her left hand clenched tight an awful lot. She is sitting up without assuming the tripod position first--a stiff baby sign that is also a pre-autism sign?

It is a damn good thing that I have her signed up for those MYND evaluations. Otherwise I'd fret myself into a corner.

Further information on infant siblings of autistic children:

Autism Treatment Could Begin Earlier


Five Early Signs of Autism

Autism: Recognising the Signs in Young Children

Legal Bipolarity

I haven't allowed myself caffeine in a while. Months and months. Then, last Saturday, Seymour took my request for a coffee literally, instead of reading my mind and getting me a decaf.

I was talking to Jo when the caffeine hit my bloodstream, and all of the sudden I was yammering away at 120 MPH about the hypocrisy of Jesus-co-opting Christians who lead the least Christ-like, least humanitarian lives possible; about coming to terms with the disconnect between our communist hearts and our privileged lives; about whether or not Iz should watch a non-coddling NOVA documentary about population trends and how it sucks to be a woman in so much of the world; about whether we can introduce our children to reality without breaking their hearts and yanking the rug of their childhoods out from under them; about how Leelo is doing and what we think is working and how autism is more than likely several different conditions with similar symptoms manifestations, about this that and five thousand other things.

It was only later that I realized what must have happened, called Seymour, and verified my suspicions. It wasn't me, it was the caffeine.

Which is a bummer, and, along with the Leelo-management, Iz-wrestling, and Mali-care, explains a bit of why I've done fuck-all with my life lately. I've been mania-free. Which means I've also not had the corresponding depression troughs like those that hit so hard right around the time I got knocked up with Mali and haven't experienced since. And that's a good thing, right?

I had another coffee this morning, and then a double this afternoon. I felt like I had to as we're having a BBQ at our place tomorrow and--even though it's Memorial Day weekend and I thought a lot of people would be out of town--almost everyone we invited is coming. Which is good albeit overwhelming when one's home is as messy as mine. Forty-five very welcome people, including kids. I had to have that double-dose of rocket fuel to prep and clean, right? I suspect this is how many addictions are justified. And how I'm typing so fast.

Six Months

That was the milestone Mali hit two days ago. How possible? Who knows. We're still not entirely sure how she got here.

We celebrated with a family trip to the Aquarium. Where Leelo was a complete fucking nutter and made Seymour, already very stressed out from a shitty times three situation at work, somewhat forlorn about the future of family outings with the boy. I think Leelo was just having an off day. Though I was sad that he didn't respond to the fish like he used to, and instead preferred to run as far and fast as he could.

Iz had a fantastic time, poking everything she was allowed to poke, soaking up info, seeing real anchovies, having Daddy/daughter science geek fun, accosting everyone she heard speaking Spanish and butting into their conversations. Seymour says her showboating tendencies are genetically hardwired and come straight from him.

Mali thought all the pretty fish were gawk-worthy.

I was inspired by the visit to resume Leelo's cod liver oil supplements as of this morning. I'm not going to tell any of his therapists, and see if they tell us of any noticeable improvements in eye contact.

5.25.2005

Reason 1,327 Not to Work at a Co-op Preschool

You will not be obligated to clean up the vomit of children who are not yours.

5.24.2005

Good Thing Mali Has Enough Clothes for Four Babies

I have always been amazed when people keep getting pregnant and having babies after my own arrive. The world outside my navelsphere is a strange, unpredictable place.

Regardless, I am pleased as rum punch that Iz's godmother Stacy is 17 weeks along with TWINS, and that a reader who will remain nameless unless she outs herself but who used to sit next to me in 9th grade geometry is 13 weeks along!

(No worries, Chasmyn, your box of baby goods and Pooh books has long been earmarked for your little guy, and will be coming within the next couple of weeks.)

The rest of you had better try to roll two X's. I don't want to have to scatter Mali's glam girly wardrobe bits to babies who won't send back pictures.

5.23.2005

You Say Potato

However you pronounce my favorite tuber, there is no doubt that Mali digs it. Today, her official second day featuring solid foods, she ate almost half of a (teeny) jar of sweet potato goo in one sitting.

I had forgotten that this food's appearance remains unaltered after six hours traveling through an infant digestive tract. Baby care details such as this were wiped from my brain after Leelo was done with them--I thought I'd never need to reference them again. I also forgot that one is supposed to use a soft rubbery-tipped baby spoon for the first few months. Thankfully someone, probably JP, had left one at our house.

Leelo himself is doing well, though he spent a good portion of the day trying to eat playdoh. I think the issue is that he keeps trying to make a "birthday cake" with it, and is playing the scene out to its logical conclusion. Can't wait to see what his next diaper looks like.

I am anticipating a fun but trying week with Leelo, as Therapist L will be off for one week starting the day after tomorrow, and Therapist S is taking off Friday. Since I work at Iron Gate on Wednesdays, this means that almost all of my upcoming "free time" will be spent with both Leelo and Mali. (Thursday we are playing hooky as a family and going to the Aquarium.) Babysitter A is on reduced hours this week, too. Fun! And I have my last Iron Gate meeting tomorrow night, and Iz's Open House Thursday, grouch grouch grouch.

Seymour came up with the excellent idea of giving Iz an alter ego, Zizi. Excellent in that this approach works for us and her, and if she ends up with a split personality, we'll know why. Using Zizi as a scapegoat gives her an important out, as she will do just about anything to avoid taking blame. Now that Zizi's on the scene, and we ask her how a certain mess might possibly have happened, she doesn't mind telling us that Zizi did it. She also doesn't (usually) mind cleaning up after her evil twin. Without Zizi, we would be running into a screaming brick wall of denial.

She is still having a rough time going to bed at night. She says it's not her fault, that it's just her personality. If she didn't share a room with Leelo, then I would get her a reading lamp so she could read herself to bed as I have done almost every night of my life.

I am enjoying watching her go at origami. She has been inspired by her idol Eliz. Much to my amazement, Iz has been doing so completely independently, by following what are to me impenetrable book instructions. The more complex figures are frustrating to her, though, so Eliz has agreed to an origami playdate in two days (bless Jo's girl).

To bed. Tomorrow is going to be my only day with (relative) free time until Saturday, so I'd best get some rest, otherwise I will be too tired to get all that work done.

5.22.2005

Solids!

Today was Mali's first formal solids feeding. She was enthusiastic at first, but--most likely because of already having had a few morsels of delicious sweet potato--was ultimately unimpressed by bland rice cereal. Iz had fun feeding her, though.

Iz's own first feeding was funny. She was much younger, under five months, and was so excited that she kept grabbing the spoon and trying to shove it into her mouth. Leelo's was at around five months. He didn't like the rice cereal, continued to be unimpressed by most baby foods, and is still leery of all but five or so edible items.

Mali is starting to look at us for reassurance, to check in with us when something happens near her. I've read that this is something many children later diagnosed as autistic do not do during their first birthday party, but can't remember whether it was behavior they'd lost or never developed. I need to review Leelo's videos some more and see if he ever did this between ages 6 and 12 months.

To bed. I've been roped into an Esperanza silent auction planning meeting by Iz's friend Violet's very organized and enthusiast mother (more on how very much I am intimidated by her later), and so must get my brain function sleep.

If We Had to Do It All Over Again

I recently received a query from a person who asked me how we would approach Leelo's treatment if we had to do it all over again. I am a lazy typist, so no harm in recycling my answer, I hope:

-----------

Hi,


My opinion has always been that there's no harm in trying the GFCF diet. It is a pain in the ass for parents, and transitioning to the more limited diet can be very much not-fun. I really do think that some kids are helped by this diet, and until we have a test that can tell us which kids those are, it's worth a shot. If you have any history of dairy or wheat allergies in your family, consider a trial run (Keryn Serouzi's Unrave1ing the Mystery of Auti5m book is a good, though bombastic, read on the subject).

Leelo is one of the kids who had far too many antibiotics as an infant/toddler. I think they really did put his gut biota out of whack. In his case, a limited sugar, whole grains diet helps a lot and makes sense. I think that the antifungals (temporary), probiotics, and digestive enzymes (ongoing) have also made a difference in his behavior and digestive health. If your child gets the "crazies," then I would see if limiting sugar intake makes any difference.

I really do think the B12 shots have made a difference for Leelo, most likely because it is so important for brain function and he doesn't get it throught his diet (he is practically a vegan, and absolutely won't touch meat).

As far as the other supplements go, in our case they are mostly not helpful. We are going to transition back to only those that plug the nutrition holes in his diet (multivitamins, calcium, cod liver oil, B12, probiotics, digestive enzymes). This doesn't mean that the DAN supplements are not helpful for other kids. But they don't help Leelo.

So, if I had to do it all over again, I would probably:

1) Set up an ABA program
2) Arrange for Speech and Occupational therapy
3) Review his diet for any deficiencies related to brain function (B12, cod liver oil)
4) Get on an email board of parents in similar circumstances
5) Try the GFCF diet

If, after all this, I saw no progress, then I would thoroughly screen and then arrange to see a DAN doctor who could guide us through the supplement circus.

Good luck to you,

=Squid

5.21.2005

Tossing Out a Grenade

Seymour has recently declared himself "done" with all the biomed/DAN! gobbledygook. He is not alone.

I'm of a wavering position, personally; I think that there is merit in the yeast eradication treatmens, the B12, and I'm certain that the biomed approach is even more useful for kids other than Leelo.

Anyhow. Read the link above and let's discuss!

5.20.2005

One of Each

Mali: grabbed a sweet potato fry out of my hand and gummed it to bits. Big smile afterwards. Formal solids (video camera, high chair) tomorrow or Sunday for that girl. When I took the fry away, she started making proto-word protests (her lips helped form the sounds, as opposed to her usual small-shaved-Wookie vocalizations).

Leelo: For some reason the appearance of Jo means Leelo makes us all do the hokey pokey. Why is this, exactly? Also, in greeting Teacher K this morning, she remarked on how she and Leelo both were wearing sweatshirts with the school mascot on them. "We match!" agreed Leelo. Very cool.

Iz, in talking with Doyenne on the way home from school: "My mom's car can go 160 miles an hour! It says so on the speedometer! We can't go over the speed limit normally, but we could go up to 160 if there was an emergency, like an earthquake, or a tornado, or a volcano, or, um, hail."

Again...

As I was just writing to Iris:

Well-meaning sorts keep gifting me The Curi0us Incident of the D0g in the Night-Time, and I keep giving it away. I hated that f***ing book.

If they'd given the matter any sort of thought, just how comforting or interesting did they think it would be for the parent of an autistic child to read about how difficult and unpredictable our lives will continue to be? Keyword searches do not always an appropriate gift make.

Poop Poop a Doop

Stupid antibiotics. Well, not really as they brought Mali through her nasty pneumonia, but still. Ever since she had IV antibiotics followed by 10 oral days of the same, she's changed from a 1x/week diaper-soiler to a crap-happy 5x/day poop enthusiast.

I am probably cursing our sweet little baby by writing this, but, unlike the once-monthly illness of her first four months, it's been five weeks since she last took sick with a horrible cold or the flu.

She is now attacking and grabbing and mouthing any food or drink that comes within her reach. I think we may need to start solids this weekend. She'll be 6 months in six days; close enough.

Off to get Iz and her rather cheeky schoolmate Doyenne. I think will slap their little butts in front of the truly fantastic C1one Wars episodes 1 - 25, now that it has been broadcast and TeeVo'd in one delicious chunk.

5.17.2005

Yes!

Yes! The architects said yes! We will start designing in September, and building in about a year. Woo hoo hoo hoo!

Now I just need to get two temperature gauges for tracking microvariations at our house versus our shed (two potential building sites). Need to go to b'gOSH anyhow. Where I will NOT BUY ANY PLANTS.

It's just me and Leelo and Mali all day long, as Therapist F is out. Bored people, come. You are welcome. I will make you tea and feed you lunch.

What? I Haven't Written About the Kids Today?

Mali Mali Mali oh, is she cute. Mellow, sweet, smiley baby. She adores her sister and brother, is desperate for them to give her attention. (Leelo yanking her out of my arms does not count.) Iz has devised all sorts of nonsense chants to mesmerize her little sister.

That baby wants to eat solids, and will lunge for any food or drink that goes towards my mouth. Two more weeks, little girl, and all the rice cereal in the world will be yours! In the mean time she is happily taking sips of water from my cup and then looking startled as it all runs back out of her open mouth and down her chest. Not that it changes her appearance; her tops are always soaked with teething drool.

Want to have fun with a five-month-old baby? Give her a handful of cooked spaghetti and watch her trip out.

She has discovered scooting. Put her on her back on the ratty old leather couch and watch her use her feet to beetle across the cushions. Maybe I should hook up with some similar-aged babies and a bookie.

She has also realized that that awful contraption I put her when it's time to cook or fold clothes is full of things you can bite, spin, and rattle. I agree with Godfather M in that it is a hard-wired ADD stimulator, but JP plunked it on my deck and it works and Mali won't tolerate her other holding pens for more than two minutes.

Leelo is still loopy, though less so than yesterday. He had a great Iron Gate Park Day this morning, according to Therapist S and Supervisor M. But that's been his only focused stimulus for four days; Babysitter A took the weekend off, Jude took this afternoon off to write a final, and then Therapist L is taking tomorrow's two shifts off. Poor rudderless boy.

I keep trying to give him tasks, as he is such a good helpful little guy. This morning we took grocery shopping slow, so that he could help me take items off the shelf and put them in the basket under Mali's stroller. He also helped me push the stroller around the store.

Even so, he spent most of the day trying to grab lego blocks and stim with them in front of the sliding glass doors, or watching his (excellent for autistic kids) new Richard Skeery video. I hate deliberately pasturing him like that, but I don't know what else to do as Leelo is not a boy who can be engaged peripherally. If you don't force him to give you his full attention, which then of course requires your full attention, then you might as well be on the moon. When Mali is awake or Iz is home it is difficult to give him that focus. Thankfully Iz I can chat with while I'm preparing everyone's food, and even Mali is content to gurgle at me while I do laundry.

This afternoon I gave him some window crayons and he surprised me by drawing loops rather than back-and-forth scribbles. Deliberate loops. He still doesn't really know how to hold the crayon, and "ambidextrous" would be a generous way to describe his lack of handedness, but loops are a conceptual increment, they are an accepted next level, and I am excited about them.

He of course also had me draw him a house and a car. But he soon lost interest because, unlike the MegnaDoodle, he couldn't continuously erase the window drawings. Which makes me think that Seymour is right; in having us draw him car after car and house after house, he is having us do discrete trials. Fair enough as his therapists make him do them all day long.

Supervisor M has let us know that she thinks we need to start increasing Leelo's potty training hours. I still question the utility of potty training a boy who has no problem sitting on a shitty diaper, and who occasionally has BMs in his sleep. It may be time to query one of the Special Needs/Autism eGroup boards I've recently joined.

Final Leelo item: he is having a big growth spurt. He is still short for his age, but not as dramatically as he used to be. He is also expanding horizontally, so it may be time to back off on the veggie chips and whole wheat croissants he so craves. He is shorter than Iz, but I think his waist is bigger, and they are definitely able to share clothing now. With his new short summer haircut, his face is decidedly pudgy.

Iz continues to crack me up, even as I fret about her being a little shit.

She loves excuses and shortcuts even more than I did at her age. Example: The first grade curriculum at Esperanza includes weekly English sequences even though the kids won't be taught English reading until next year. This week's assignment is to write a story based on F1at Stan1ey. Or, rather, to make up the story and have parents write it out for non-English literate students. No matter that Iz could write the story up herself--if the other kids don't have to write it out, she sure as hell isn't doing it. Here is her story, as long as I'm typing it out:
Isobel and Flat Stella really like to go ice skating together. Flat Stella is a better ice skater than Isobel because she is flat and that makes her more stable. They go ice skating in Seatt1e when it is snowing.

One time Flat Stella fell through a crack in the ice. But her friends had had her laminated before they went skating so she was okay.

All her friends had bathing suits under their skating clothes. There was an ice cream truck near by so they decided that the first person who rescued Stella would get a yummy ice cream shake. Isobel swam under the ice and got to Stella first, so she rescued her and got the ice cream shake.

This is what she rattled off in less than a minute; she would not sit still to expand on it or think of a different, longer story. Yet another demonstration of her tendency to sprint/cram just like her mother. No interest in thoughtful work, none at all. Even her art projects have devolved. She now draws like she did when she was two because that's how all the other kids are drawing. I am doing a muddy job of pointing out my worries here, but in general I think she is trying to be mediocre like everyone else because it's easy and she doesn't stick out.

I finished the 9th Seriously Unfortunate book this morning so as to stay ahead of her in the series. Except she grabbed it and now is now mostly done herself. I have had some luck in distracting her with TinTin, which I am hoping is a direct conduit to Asterix.

Yesterday's sermon was a very earnest guest youth group led affair, and included a pulpit talk from a "superhero" named Professor Blather. He gathered all the children on the altar, and asked them about their favorite superheroes. I guess he was expecting declarations of "Superman!" or "Batman!," not Iz's detailed description of Akiko, which he eventually had to interrupt to resume his talk.

She will not let me fast forward through the more dreary musical sequences in Funnny Face, which I find astounding (I love musicals for their stories and soundtracks only). I will have to see what she thinks of the braying Higgins "songs" in My Fair Lady.

She is really trying hard to be a more polite, thoughtful girl, but still has little interest in listening to or accommodating non-Alpha children. I am sorely tempted to write her another pedantic book on being a good listener, but since I am the queen of the flakes these days I doubt it will happen. I will continue to talk with her about fairness and The Golden Rule, and hope that some of my natterings will eventually percolate through her skull.

Enough listing. Off to bed.

5.16.2005

Big Sigh

Leelo had a roughish day today. Still fifty times better than his rough days during the holidays/around Mali's birth, but still. Lots of verbal stimming, hard to get through to him. Though the language was there if you asked him directly enough.

Seymour and I spent the weekend diagnosing the causes of Leelo's recent vocalizations and soupy diapers. After two days off TMG and then a normal log this afternoon, I think we know what was causing the diaper distress. But the verbal nuttiness, who knows. I've been lax about avoiding simple starches lately, and even let him have a couple of madelines. Seymour thinks it's the boy's runny nose. Maybe it's because I've been having a hard time remembering the b12 injections. Or Babysitter A's taking the weekend off. Realistically, he probably just has cycles.

While cleaning up my desktop this evening, I came across the following photos of Leelo at 11 months.



How is it possible that this happy boy became autistic? How can we prevent our happy baby girl from following his path? She spent most of yesterday avoiding my frantic eye contact attempts, but today was engaged completely. I am going to be a complete madwoman until we have some definite signs one way or the other.

In other news, Iz drew a picture in her sunday school class called "My Baby Sister Was Geting All the Atention [sic]." Charming.

5.14.2005

Bully for You

Here's what I can't stand (and neither can Jo): People who have to trot out their credentials to prove that they're right. As if they couldn't rely on facts or the persuasiveness of their arguments to make their points. Oh no. We must believe them because they shove their laurels up our noses.

Upon receiving emails containing such pomposity, I usually scoff and press delete. I couldn't do so in the latest case, though, because the author bashed Ep of all people! Ep who is so moderate and thoughtful (via public email, at least).

This woman took offense to Ep's declaring--amidst other thoughts on why a restrictive email posting policy would be contrary to the spirit of our local parenting eBoard--that she had joined the group to meet intelligent women in similar circumstances. This woman skewered Ep's carefully worded, non-incendiary statements several times before stating that, by the way, she considers herself an intelligent woman by virtue of her advanced degrees.

Because I have met far too many people who achieved their degrees via hard work (commendable) and hard-headedness (not) rather than scintillating intellect, I had to respond:
I trust Bootsy and the rest of the board when they say
that they have listened to _everyone_, and have set
the new(est) email policy accordingly.

BTW, an advanced degree is no guarantee that a person
can think intelligently. Example: I have one myself.

Far too many people work their way through the university system the same way a rat works through a maze. I have met many of these people, and my jaw hits the ground each time I find out how "educated" they are in relation to how stupid they seem. I know many others who didn't have the time or inclination for the institutionalized BS of a degree, with whom I'd love to do a brain exchange.

And finally, I don't give a shit what kind of qualifications you have. I want to see what you do with those qualifications. Other than taking narrow-eyed, small-brained swipes at fair-minded liberals.

5.13.2005

Your Fortune Says:

Mali took an hour-long nap on Tuesday. In bed.

This is the first time in months that she's take a nap of more than 10 minutes, unless I was holding her. Nice precedent. I don't think it's coincidence that it happened on the one morning of the week in which I wasn't frantically running errands with her in tow.

She is really figuring out those hands. I love it when she uses them to grab my chin--I know she's probably not really "making" me look at her, but it seems that way. I also love that she becomes instantly ecstatic when she's waiting for me to look at her, and I do so.

She still doesn't really have eyebrows. They are transparent and gingery. The other two had eyebrows by now.

I am already feeling sad about the milestones she's just about to hit. Purposeful locomotion instead of happenstance rocking/rolling. Solid foods.

Part of the sadness is projected nostalgia, but part of it is practical. If she starts moving, then we can't leave her in our bed in the morning while we do our toilettes; she could scoot to the side and fall out. If she's eating solid foods, that means I'll have to start making them. And taking them with us.

There are still days when I fret about her eye contact. But I think that five month old babies really don't like the kind of fully-sustained eye contact I keep trying to get from her unless they're in the right mood.

MYND Institute appointment coming up soon.

5.10.2005

A Social Boy

Oh, I'm just all pensive this week...

Lately Leelo had really started to want to be with other children. He will tell us "I want to go play with the kids!" and then take off to the play area--where he stops, instead of running out to the parking lot or street. If we (or Babysitter A) try to join him, he will push us away and say "sit in the chair!" In other words, he needs to be with his own people, and we are not they.

This is great news, especially as Supervisor M says it is atypical of kids like Leo. She says that autistic children usually find other kids complicated and bewildering, and so are interested in them as specimens at best.

It is unfortunate that, just as his social soul is blooming, the kids in his class are starting to edge away. (Not all of them, but enough for me to notice.) They stare at him openly and with furrowed brows when he starts vocalizing, or when he just can't sit still. Some of the girls decline to sit next to him during circle or snack time. They find him complicated and bewildering, too.

As do their parents. As inclusive and wonderful as they all have been, I still feel tangential to rather than part of the classroom community. Leelo has never been invited on a play date to another child's house, and I am the only driver for tomorrow's field trip who hasn't had any classmates sign up to ride with us. I am not angry, I don't think anyone is being exclusionary, and I expected all this, but it still stings.

Supervisor M said that the way in which other children react to Leelo will probably get more intense over time. I think that's just the way kids are--part of the wolf pack. Many of us were wolves, once.

In a way, Leelo and Iz's being pushed so far apart, grade-wise, and Mali's being so much younger than him may be a good thing. It will allow both girls to have more of their own social lives, ones that intersect with his less. From what I've been told, a special needs brother can use more than the usual allotment of his siblings' air, especially if they are at the same school and close in age. I would hope that our girls would not be embarrassed by Leelo, but part of me is relieved that their opportunities to have to explain or defend him will be limited. The girls will be able to love him for who he is, not despite how their schoolmates treat him.

For now, Leelo is oblivious to how the other kids are starting to view him, which is a blessing in its own way. But if he develops the ability to take the next steps on the social stairway, he may start to realize that he is different. And while I will be grateful if he develops any social radar at all, I wish there was a way to simultaneously swaddle his heart, to protect his generous, sweet little spirit.

Baby Really Does Got Back

JM said I could post his images as long as they have his (c) on them.

Check out that butt!

5.08.2005

My Adoption Shpiel

You have to imagine me reading the entry below in a very shaky voice, because--as I told Ep--talking about gardening in public makes me cry.

Other people whose lives have been touched by adoption spoke as well. It was a very powerful service. I am grateful that Seymour, Ep, Jo's mom, and JP were all there to lend support.

During my youngest daughter's pregnancy, people would regard the two children already by my side and ask, "Is this your third?"

"Yes," I would say, "It's our third."

Because she was our third. But she was my fourth.

I became a birth mother as a twenty-year-old college student, when I realized that, to me, being pro-choice meant carrying an unexpected pregnancy to term.

To be completely honest, the whole experience was and remains surreal. I was not mature enough to appreciate how profoundly my choices affected the lives of everyone involved. When I think about being a birth mother, it is with a certain detachment*, because I feel my choices were completely logical. I realize that the child shares my genes, but I never once thought of him as mine.

I maintain this attitude for emotional self-protection, and because his parents wanted a closed adoption. His mother was willing to send me pictures, but his father wanted to pretend I didn't exist. I don't know if he will ever be told about me.

When he was eight years old, his mother died of cancer. I found this out while my husband and I were trying without success to have children of our own. In my anger, I cursed the universe that allowed my birth son to be a motherless child, while eight years later I remained a childless mother. I simmered down after the joy of our first child's birth, but still wonder how that boy will feel if he ever finds out that he could have had contact with another mother during all those lonely years.

Being a birth mother is not something I bring up in casual conversation, but it is also not a topic I avoid. This is not to say that I lack strong feelings about that child, or that phase of my life. I find it painfully ironic that the son I got to keep is autistic, whereas the son I gave away is not. But my strongest emotions are not about me.

Mostly, I wonder how my mother was affected. She was the one who convinced me to consider adoption. Good thing, too, as I hadn't a clue about the costs and realities of parenting. Before she intervened, I just figured that my boyfriend and I would keep the baby, and I could have fun dressing it in cute clothes. How big a deal could it be? Maybe I'd take a quarter or two off from school.

Knowing what I now do about child rearing and my own capabilities, I can only think about that life-that-could-have-been with panic and relief. Every time I look at the husband and children I so desperately love, I silently thank my mother for guiding me towards them.

My mother has six grandchildren now, but at that time she had none, and it would be five more years before a real one arrived. She was the one who arranged for the child to be adopted by an office acquaintance. How did she bear it, seeing her only grandchild grow up in the picture frames on her co-worker's desk?

I suppose I could ask her.

*I wanted to write "...with almost Vulcan detachment," but Seymour said that a Star Trek reference would be jarring and inappropriate.

Do Not Panic

I'll be speaking at the Mothers Day service at our church in less than two hours. Not panicking. Not panicking. Not panicking.

I will post the text of my reading after the service, so that Jo and guest attendee Ep don't become jaded.

5.07.2005

Narcissist

Badger and family joined us for breakfast at the cafe this morning. She had her newly-transformed hair brushed off her forehead, while sporting both a raglan shirt and worn-in jeans. Yeow. I couldn't get over how great she looked.

It took me several hours to realize that I most likely felt this way because she looked very much the way I think of myself as looking during my brief pseudo-butch phase 11 *cough* years ago. Though my hair was brown rather than purple.

Damn, she was hot! Heh heh.

5.06.2005

Why I Will Not Jab the Baby

The MYND Institute folks have found more evidence to support the theory that autistic children are genetically immunocompromised, but that children may not become autistic unless they encounter an environmental trigger. Seymour sent me the article, from today's LA Times.

This bolsters my unwillingness to immunize Mali until we know whether or not she is at risk.

I have emailed this article to Dr. G's wife, who, more than he, is open to hearing about such things. I am interested to read her response.

Always Learning

Unfortunately, what Leelo learned today was how to undo the deadbolt on the front door. When Therapist L arrived this afternoon, Leelo unbolted the front door for her as easily as if he'd been doing it for weeks.

The locksmith is on the way, to install a new, higher, lock. There can be no sleeping in a house in which our little escape artist is not fully contained.

Parallel Treadmills

Here is what I was trying to explain to Murphy as he and I were hanging out on the porch, waiting for Seymour to arrive for their Hot Chess Date:

I told Murphy that I was glad he and Seymour were going to go have fun, that I was worried about Seymour's exhaustion level, and that my poor partner hadn't allowed anything for himself in the past few weeks except maybe two or three bike rides.

Murphy said, "But what about you? Aren't you exhausted too?"

That's not the point, I told him. We were talking about Seymour, not me. My partner and I might be tired for the same set of reasons, but we're not in a competition, we shouldn't be compared to each other. Thinking that way leads straight to Hell, or at least a good long pit stop in Purgatory. New or anticipatory parents, beware.

We share the parenting work. We watch each other's backs. We trade sleeping in on weekend mornings. We grouch at each other about menial tasks and who needs to do the least pleasant of them. But, I think and hope, we listen to each other without bringing out the scales each time.

Except during the morning before-school panic hour. Then all bets are off.

5.05.2005

Izzy Gossip

Which attendees of this morning's bad moms coffee already heard, but...

Iz's Spanish tutor talks with Iz's teacher quite frequently. One of the latest things she's relayed to me that I'm not entirely certain I'm meant to know is that Maestra M (the teacher) thinks that Izzy needs to be in a gifted school. I told Maestra L (tutor) that we'd already accommodated that by placing her in the higher grade once she finished K early. I guess Maestra L didn't know this.

Maestra L says that Iz reads Spanish better than many of her third grade students. I myself am already annoyed by her catching up to me in the Seriously Unfortunate Events books (in English, but still).

I suspect that she may be headed for N0rthStar school in third grade, after all, rather than sticking with Esperanza through eighth. Sigh. Badger says that N0rthstar does have a decent Spanish program; guess I'll have to go check it out.

Grrr. Figured I was done fretting about Iz's educational needs for at least a year, what with getting her placed in the non-remedial grade while immersed in a totally new language.

Welcome to Deadwood

Where my neighbor the old Libertarian fart is cackling over his victory against a measure that would have prevented next year's loss of more than 50 teachers in an already resources-imperiled district. After I TP his house, we'll be attending the CTA rally next Wednesday, downtown.

Where the local moms club has banned all email that does not pertain to finding an emergency nanny, slagging the schools mentioned above, or getting kiddie haircuts. Which pisses me off. Which means I mouthed off to the whole group:
I have just read the email policy, and I think it is a shame to ban all but specific political topics. Unlike the also-banned religion, politics infiltrate
everyone's lives and families, whether we choose to actively participate or not.

I have learned much from the passionate members of this group, even when I disagreed with their political positions. Where else would I get this opportunity? All the other groups I belong to are composed of like-thinkers.

I also suspect that many of us feel shackled enough by the make-nice limits of our parenting roles and day-to-day lives. Can't we take off our those masks when we step up to the keyboard, and just be ourselves? We are adults. Telling us not to flame each other and informing us of the three-strikes rule is sufficient.

Off to bad moms coffee hour. Good timing.

5.04.2005

From the Archives of a Flake

I am one of those people who will be led to Hell by my nose, stumbling over all my good intentions along the way. I mean well, but my follow through is close to non-existent.

But I'm working on it. Here are some images from important events I forgot to blog about or even talk about much this year:

Two images from Iz's faboo 6th birthday party (January), in which a magician made his wallet catch on fire and the utility of jumpy houses was reinforced one more time:



Guess who the flannel-shirted jumpy house participant is and win an ice cream cone!



The view from Mali's welcoming ceremony in San Dieggy. Gouda's mom the UU minister performed the ceremony as she did for Leelo and Iz, and harnessed many tangible, benevolent spirits yet again. That's Elise in the red dress.

Eat, Sleep, Fret

Leelo's language continues to improve. Seymour swears that yesterday, when he asked "Leelo, what are you talking about?," Leelo said "I'm talking about **** (something indecipherable)." Leelo said this not once, but twice.

In The Hole yesterday Leelo looked up at one of the big signs and said, "That's an N!" Good good good.

This morning our boy woke up with a dry diaper. This has never before happened on my watch. Hmmm. Freak occurrence, or the start of a beautiful potty scenario?

For the past five days, Leelo has resumed waking at god-awful hours. 6:30. 6:00. 5:30. Doesn't matter how late we put him down. Is it because of the TMG? Because he asked for and got (and then barfed up) Vegggie Booty last Friday? Or maybe my increasing laxness re: letting him eat non-whole grain breads?

I would like to think that it's his brain going into overdrive in anticipation of more developmental leaps. But I did find out this morning that if I sprint into his bed when he's making noises but has yet to get out of bed, and lie down with him, he'll go back to sleep until the proper morning panic waking hour arrives.

5.03.2005

Wading Through

Mali is on the tap, so it's one-handedness today.

I got in almost 30 minutes of good hard tidying this A.M for the first time in weeks. I can think of no more appropriate yardstick for the fractured timescape of my current life.

Today:

-Walk in Msr. V ballots; think positive thoughts for victory
-Post-4:00 play date for Iz (Sophie?)
-Whither dinner? Needs to be out of the house; I vote Lebanese so Iz can get a meat fix
-Go to Lilofi gift shop for Mthrs day gifts for my mom & Seymour's
-Iz & Leelo make M. day cards for same
-Mail above
-Write adoption/birth mom 2 page essay for church on Sun.; practice NOT CHOKING while reading it
-Gentle nudge to Seymour to arrange post-church brunch/lunch to prevent shattering disappointment on M. day
-Tidy entire house/laundry
-Go to The Hole to replace the Leelo croissants that were covered in blue mold

Okay, M is asleep. Will attempt transfer to bed so more of above can be attempted.

5.02.2005

Architects

Made it through an insane Friday in which I somehow towed all three kids through four in-and-out of the the car errands in one hour so as to be home on time to meet Seymour so we could drive to meet the architects in Bezerkeley a scant hour after that. Of couse there were two accidents blocking the freeway on the way there, so all that hurrying made no difference.

The architects were cooler than cool and their work is beyond ideal, but they might not have space for us in the time frame we're considering (I'd like to be in the new house within two years if possible). Sigh.

I reorganized and reprioritized our shooting-for-the-moon wish list as they requested, and faxed it to them that same night. I hope hope hope they can fit us in. We'll know in a week.

Action!

JM came over for Mali's 5 month old baby photo shoot today. I am amazed at how he was able to transform our living room into a photo studio, and even more impressed by the gorgeous pictures he took (he has instant laptop display for the digital images).

Mali surprised us by doing her first ever back-to-front roll in the middle of the shoot. A nice, well documented milestone. Leelo didn't roll over in either direction until he was a couple of weeks older than she is now--and then he did it back-to-front several times before I actually caught him in the act.

We made certain to get a photo of Mali looking backwards at us from over her plush little bottom.

Seymour and JM discovered that, if you want to get a really great shot of three otherwise inattentive children in perfectly aligned three-quarter face, put a favorite DVD on a laptop just to the side of the photographer.

Iz spent most of the session consulting her cookbook and planning our post-shoot dinner. She shopped for it with Seymour, and even helped with part of one recipe before her attention wandered back to her books.

JM stayed for a subtle but satisfying roast chicken and vegetables, prefaced by leek and potato soup. Iz took a couple of bites of the soup but was really only interested in eating every last scrap of flesh off the drumsticks.

5.01.2005

Leelo Update

We started Leelo on the supplement TMG yesterday. I hadn't meant to do so until the boy's cold was completely gone, but Seymour's hearing is still off and he didn't hear the last part of "We need to start TMG next, but should wait until Leelo's all better."

He had a really great yesterday. His eye contact seemed to be all back to normal, even before the TMG dose. Spent the entire day asking anyone within reach--including Iz, and by name--to please draw him a house or a car on the MagnaD00dle. The bulk of this task fell to Seymour; I'm guessing he drew over a hundred items yesterday.

His requests are getting even better. Yesterday as we sat in our favorite sushi restaurant, he spied one of the decorations, and declared "I want to play with the boat!"

He is cute and sweet and I wish I had more time to devote to him and him alone. As I wish I could with Seymour and Iz, too. Mali the wee parasite I'm not so worried about--she gets held by one person or another all day long. Going to learn to use that sling, yes I am.

I love that he enjoys giving hugs so much, even though he doesn't do it all the time and they're more like half-nelsons.

He had two inappropriate giggling attacks today, but I suspect they're because he did his patented Cobra Strike on some "M and M candies" that got spilled on the floor.

Therapist S starts tomorrow. Hurrah! She will be Leelo's school aide only, for now. I'm getting my Monday and Friday mornings back, and my peace of mind during Wednesday workdays, too.

Updating

Mali is just the cutest sweetest baby ever. Big googly happy smiles for everyone. Lets us know that she's awake by chirping and squealing. She has stopped doing her "tiger chuff" cough when she wants something. Now she just yells.

She is not easily placated, however. If she is mad, she will stay mad until you make things better. No hoping she'll fall asleep in the car even though she's hungry. No. She will yell until you pull off the freeway and meet her needs.

Eyes are still blue. Light blue. Her hair is indeterminate--Seymour has declared it calico as it can look blonde, brown, or bright red. Her eyebrows still look gingery.

She is a substantial baby. Each buttock is more than a handful.

She loves to stick her legs straight up in the air when placed on her back. Grabs our arms and looks us straight in the eye as if to say, "Now that I've got your attention, let's talk." If she's hungry, she grabs my hair and one ear, pulls my head in hard, and starts slurping on my cheek.

Photographer JM is coming over today to document her five-month-old cuteness as we did with both of her siblings.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub

Seymour has been teaching Leelo how to wash his body, based on body parts. Leelo has been joining in quite enthusiastically, declaring every body part as he washes it:

"Wash face!"

"Wash tummy!"

"Wash penis!"

"Wash arms!"

"Wash penis!"

"Wash legs!"

"Wash penis!"

"Wash penis!"

"Wash penis!"

I Pulled Your Finger, So What?

Ever since Mali was born, my sense of smell has been on the fritz. I can be hanging out with Leelo and a full diaper obliviously, whereas when Seymour enters the same room his eyes will start watering and he will ask me how in the world I could tolerate the stench. My answer: I couldn't smell it. Not at all.

The sense is not totally gone, but the smells have to be strong and inches from my nose to register.

Googling the subject is not advised, as the first entry states that I'm on the road to severe psychosis. If it doesn't clear up in the next month or so I'll ask my doctor about it.

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