10.26.2005

BTW

Miss Mali is eleven months old today. Sweet baby!



Vomit Score

Iz is winning. She vomited every 15 minutes from 9:00 to 3:00. Seymour, again, kindly tended to her by making her a little puking nest on the floor next to his side of the bed, complete with a barf bowl that she cradled all night long.

Mali, though only having puked three times, makes up for lack of iterations with volume. That baby can heave with the pros. Thankfully her tummy makes strange, loud plumbing noises beforehand so there's plenty of time to run her to and hold her over the sink. Nothing but net!

Sick babies sleep a lot, and I bribed Iz with Akik0 #4, so I have time to be merrily packing away. We ARE leaving tonight.

Leelo is having a great morning. I am keeping him home from school, but Therapist L said she was willing to work with him if I put out hand sanitizer. Our boy spontaneously, and from out of thin air told Therapist L "triangle has 3 sides!" and then put a puzzle piece 3 on top of said triangle. None of this had been practiced, prepped, or prompted. Go Leelo!

10.25.2005

Griping, Now With Vomit

I hadn't yet descended from the stress balloon of the past two weeks when Leelo started vomiting yesterday morning. If my mom hadn't been here to watch him I'd have had to cancel my Iron Gate shift, without trade or makeup options, ensuring the enmity of those otherwise tolerant parents. Bless my mom!

As it is I probably peppered the Iron Gate kiddlings to whom I served snack yesterday with vomit viruses, as both Mali and Iz started hurling this evening. My girls let loose after I'd tearily shuttled my mom to the airport, after their evening baths, and just as I was starting to think how lovely an evening of relatively unstructured puttering would be.

This makes me worry about tomorrow evening's trip to Atlanta to visit Dee and Giddy. We've been planning this trip, in which all our girls get to meet each other for the first time (well, third time for Iz and E, first for the other three), for six months. Goddammit. And it's a free trip, too: air miles tickets, D's cars and beds. Do you think the people in first class will be relaxed enough to overlook fountains of barf? Maybe they'll sleep through it as it is a red eye flight. Which reminds me that I've yet to practice tethering Mali to my side with the sling so we can both sleep en route.

Please. Cross. Fingers. For. Us. If I have to miss this trip my sorrow will be insurmountable.

Ooh, Iz just sat up and barfed again! Seymour took that one, bless him. And he's completely stressed out from his own crappy work crap, and really should be sitting back on a soft couch getting his, erm, feet massaged and watching endless Tour de France videos.

Short kid notes:

Iz finished HP6. You can all now talk with her freely about any theories you choose. She is also compulsively reading and re-reading the Franny K. Steiin books recommended by Badger. She recently confessed to Seymour that she is interested in 1000+ page books not just for the show-off value but also because they last longer and she doesn't want them to end. That's my girl. I have slipped her Swa11ows and Amazons, as the series exceeds her required page count.

Leelo is not at his best when he's sick, but still his various therapists can see his progress through the scattered behaviors. Usually he reverts to non-verbal fussing and withdrawing during these times, this time he is telling us exactly why he's upset, why he's not complying. Plus, Supervisor M had this to say about him today (she left before he started barfing again and I had to pluck him from class):
Leelo seemed so centered and relaxed at IG today. Teacher P thought he had the best small group ever (me too)- it was number recognition and counting, and he really was able to participate at his learning level in the whole activity. Plus, he just seemed calm and content within his body. So nice to see :)
Mali is the funniest, cutest, sweetest, smartest, and smiliest baby ever. She does the Rosenberg W sit already, and she plays a mean game of peekaboo with any fabric piece she can find. She still won't take a lovey; why should she when mommy sports the two best ones imaginable? Wonderful baby.

Those past two weeks are not even properly documented. I've five or seven half-finished relevant posts in the Draft pile. Things are so looped that the office is trashed yet again, I've not even met Godmother Stacy's new little bairns, and we've yet to give Tia Isabel our condolences over her son Rick's passing last week. Somehow we must curtail activities to make life more manageable during the upcoming holidaze.

10.24.2005

Nano!

What was the first song I purchased and downloaded onto my new device?

Voice of Yu1 Brynner: You Guess!

Opinions Sought

Has Anyone Read:

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harris0n

S0mething fr0m the Night.side - Sim0n Green

If so please let me know what you thought of them.

The glorious insanity of the last few days (well, weeks) is not to be believed!

10.21.2005

Scroogey Grinch

I am sitting here surrounded by piles of crap, realizing that I am starting to stress over all the piles of crap I routinely begin to purchase, organize, wrap, and mail each year at this time (fun though this is), and the piles of thoughtful crap we receive each year that, truly, we appreciate but don't need.

So, after Seymour reads this entry and we discuss it because that is how we do most of our communicating these crazy days, I am going to send out an email to all friends and family--grandparents excepted--letting them know that we've greatly reduced interest in sending or receiving Xmas presents this year. We will make donations in their name, in the amounts we would have spent, instead, and we would be grateful if they would redirect any Rosenberg-dedicated gift funds in the same manner.

Unless they or we find something Just Perfect. That is different.

But, truly, my stress level is soap-bubble precarious at the moment. The normal joyfulness of receiving a package--any package--gets completely overshadowed by the stress of having to find the time to open it, decide what to do with the box, divvy up its contents, put paper in the recyclable bin, wrapping paper in wrapping paper storage, peanuts and puffy bits to a big bag in the corner of the office, plastic bags and parts and even more interior boxes to be broken down and put in the trash/recycled/stored, (and God help you if you send my kids any toy in a molded plastic case to which it is attached by 500 twisty ties and cardboard anchors) and then consider the present itself which more than likely is something we adore but don't have space for in our overstuffed home. The process drains me. Completely.

If can get most people to abandon this tradition then I will also feel less guilt about the thank you notes I stopped writing once Mali arrived.

And just in case you are reading this and sniffing at me: yes, I know I am beyond overprivileged. It doesn't mean my life isn't difficult, and that little things don't push me over the edge.

My Baby Is So F***ing Cute That...

She pierced the armor of the sullen goth drug store cashier, who couldn't help but beam a big, sincere smile right back at super-friendly Miss Mali.

Goth girl self-corrected immediately upon realizing that she'd outed herself, mumbling and sulking during her entire exchange with me. But, heh heh heh.

10.20.2005

Looong day

Seymour leetin gme sleep in on cal train day
Found evidence that leelo had poured himself some rice milk for first time
sitting there putting together two puzzles at once
such fantastic rhythm and pitch, singing songs cements his eye contact
gas station for gas, no cash wtf do they bohter?
Leelo with therapist F, frantic bath with Mali on floor
Ran off to Irish builders, she kicked ass:
-Woman run, so I won't be treated like an idiot unless I deserve it
-Experience building in Saint Matthew's county
-Reputation for being on time on budget
-Mid-size company, not so big we'll get lost, but if someone drops out they've got a "whole team of quarterbacks"
-totally green, the largest green-building trained construction co in the bay area
-Excited about our project and architects
-down with the NSB house idea (spend on comfort, design, and details, not square footage)
-though I must say it is odd that both the architect and builders we are talking to are sniffing at our budget a bit, saying that we'll be cutting it close. I thought our budget would build us a monster if that was our choice.

Able to make part of Bad Moms coffee, Scarlett showed up for the first time in a while, JP told us of her own intense post-partum depression episode following the birth of her second child. I had heard that she had had a bad time, but hadn't known how bad things were. Since my mom's family (which she married into) tend towards manic overachieving, they didn't quite get what to do with or about her. Though I know that during that time my auntie F (her mother-in-law) spent every Tuesday with her and the kids.

I asked Scarlett and JP if they had ever reached their limit at Iron Gate, if they had ever just wanted to walk away from the constant work and time demands (Jo: "I'm sick of it and my kids never even went there!"). Scarlett and JP laughed. I said I was f***ing sick of working in the class. Which I had to do in 90 minutes.

Ran home to Leelo, fed him and Mali lunch and packed their bags for my Iron Gate work day.

Off to Iron Gate. Where Leelo seemed extra-loopy as he has for a while. It wasn't as bad as I'd been anticipating, as I was working in the Back Room where the children not only get to be self-directed in their play, but in which they have to clean up after themselves.

Halfway through, Teacher P asked me to read a book about a boy with autism and his sister, to see if it would be a good book to read to the class in an upcoming circle time focus on differences in general and specific Leelo differences (the kids are really starting to notice that he is not One of Them). I burst into tears while reading the book, as it was about a big sister being left in charge of her ASD brother and so much like the Iz/Leelo dynamic or what I imagine it will be in the future. Teacher P looked mortified and let me go weep in the corner for a while.

0------------

There was more but this draft is almost a month old so I'm publishing the fucker anyhow.

Diversion

Mali has suddenly sprouted four more teeth, two sets of bookends for her existing set of four. (Two top, two bottom.)

We have decided that her nickname is "Trouble." For instance, she will no longer sit down in her bath or in her high chair. She stands in both and so far can escape all variations of the latter.

The best way to prevent her from crawling up the stairs is to put a dress on her. She is extra cute when she's girly yet pissed off.

Tonight she she playfully lunged for my (fully covered) bosom with an open mouth and a growl, which made me laugh. Which then made her laugh, so she did it again. And again. And again. Purposeful, interactive play! Love it.

10.19.2005

Talk Is Good, Tact Is Even Better (More About Kat)

Last night I talked with Celia for a bit about Kat's suicide. Celia is really traumatized, she saw Kat every day and feels as though she's lost a sister. She feels so badly for Kat's husband and baby girl Sadie; she is trying to present a brave happy front as she babysits Sadie, trying to keep things normal for her.

But Celia is downhearted herself and finds it easier to muster her best cheer outside of Kat's house, away from Kat's photos, away from her things, away from the house where they spent so much time together.

I invited Celia to bring Sadie over for a play date with Mali this afternoon, while Leelo was at school. I opened the door to see Sadie standing there, with her lavender terry jump suit, big Mali-style cheeks, blonde hair, and dark serious eyes. It took all my will power to not snatch her up and squeeze into her all the love and attention I'd have given her mom in an instant, had I known how she needed it. We all would have. I still gave Sadie as much attention as I possibly could, carting her around and describing her environment to her, Badger-style, giving her lots of hugs.

Oh that sweet baby. I still cannot make the logical connection between her tiny little purposeful self and the permanent absence of her mother. Neither can Celia, even as she tells Sadie--as kindly and tenderly as possible--that her mommy won't be coming back. Sadie spent a lot of time not wanting to let go of Celia's skirt.

Mali eventually woke up and eyed Sadie warily, then enthusiastically poked her visitor in the eye and nostril. Since neither of the two has been socialized or spent much time with other babies, Celia and I are going get them together again on Friday, and perhaps weekly on Wednesday mornings. If Celia is kept on as Sadie's nanny.

Celia just needed to talk, that is how she processes. Mostly she is wondering what else she could have done. Kat was open about the fact that she was having a rough time, but she also told Celia that she was seeking proper treatment. Celia said she was concerned, but she really didn't see any significant change in Kat's behavior. Even so, she is going to beat herself up about this indefinitely, as she is too sensitive to operate any other way.

We are all full of what ifs, shock, and confusion. Ep saw Kat more than any of the rest of us, as she would occasionally drop by for daytime visits with Celia, and Kat would often be there. She is especially shocked that Kat did something so irrational, as she considered her to be one of the most logical and rational people she knew. Positively Spock-like, she said.

Celia said that Kat didn't really have any local friends to talk to, that she knew of. Celia tried to get Kat to go to our weekly bad moms coffee, several times, but Kat just couldn't do it. I felt like I'd been stabbed when she told me this. What would it have taken to encorage Kat to come? A mere one-line email? A phone call? Would feeling as though she had a place in our group been enough? Did our close-knittedness feel exclusionary? Another opportunity for endless-loop fretting.

Another thing Celia said is that Kat's husband doesn't want the facts of her death hushed up, in fact he wants it discussed in case that will help another severe depressive seek help. Specifics will probably be mentioned during the service tomorrow. We bad moms will be arriving together, armed with kleenex.

I had never been to a Deadwood funeral before this month, now Ep and I will have gone to two in little more than two weeks.

I can't stop thinking about Kat, and am dealing by keeping as busy as possible. Meals to four families, two tonight and two Friday. Seymour is being patient as I make like a dervish.

On the way home from delivering the meals and picking Seymour up from the CalTrain station, my cel phone rang and displayed Seymour's parents' number. I had a bad feeling and asked Seymour to take the call.

Turns out Seymour's cousin Rick had passed away. He had been sick for a long time, and in fact had been in a coma while we celebrated his niece's wedding this past weekend. So while it was not a surprise, it was still a blow. He was a sweet, loving man and we will all miss him

I was so very glad that Iz isn't here during all this, because she really got on well with Rick. Plus she finds the deaths of people she knows so disturbing that she pleads with us to not mention their names ever again. I figured I could break it to her slowly and gently.

I hadn't counted on my mom's underestimation of Iz's eavesdropping skills. I called my mother to tell her about Rick, and ended up telling her about Kat as well, how she was not able to overcome her post-partum depression, how she ended up jumping off the GG Bridge. My mom then handed the phone to Iz, who had apparently been in the room with my mom the whole time.

Iz: "Mommy, what is this sad thing that happened?"

Me: "Well, sweetie, cousin Rick died yesterday. He was very sick and he didn't get better. Are you okay?"

Iz: **whimper** (She loved Rick.) Then,
"Mommy, Grandma said something else, about someone jumping off the GG Bridge. Who was that?"

***FUCK!***
Me: "Well, Iz, you know the lady Celia nannies for? She was very, very sad. She had a problem with the chemicals in her brain, and they wouldn't let her be happy. She tried to get help, but she thought she couldn't make herself better, and so she jumped off the bridge. I promise I will never, ever do that, because my brain isn't like that. I promise. Do you understand? Do you understand how much I love you and that my brain is okay and so I couldn't ever do that?"

Iz, distressed: "Mommy, we met Kat at the park, with Celia and Sadie. I met her!"

Me: "I didn't know that, Iz. Are you going to be okay?"

Iz, still distressed: "Mommy, I don't want to talk about this anymore, okay? Please?"

Me: "No problem, but let me know if you change your mind. I love you very much."

Nice one, Grandma! FUCK. FUCK.

Leelo's Yearly Program Evaluation: Quick Notes

Today Supervisor Andil and Supervisor M joined Seymour and me to discuss Leelo's status. I am going to write quick notes only because Mali will probably wake up soon and realize I am not in bed yet and start the howling that only a boob stuffed in her mouth can quiet.

All in all we are all pleased. Yay. Seymour and I said that we are only interested in the best place for Leelo, in the education that will help him gain skills in an enriching setting. We don't give a shit about putting him in a regular classroom if that's not what he needs.

We also mentioned that we are both feeling optimistic and hopeful about Leelo's future and potential. (Seymour told me this spontaneously over the weekend; I was pleased because I'd been feeling the same way.) Leelo may never be a typical boy, but we don't care as long as he's happy. This is a big change from last year when we were both fairly morose about Leelo's outlook.

Andil and M say:

Leelo is seeing people as a reinforcers, he enjoys them, his social skills are good and will get better. This can't be taught, really. Excellent news.

His actions such as asking and going looking for a towel when he spills something, and then wiping up the mess himself, shows that he is developing problem-solving skills. Also good, hard to teach.

An all-autism class is not a great place in which to develop Leelo's budding social skills; if we were to consider such a class for Leelo next year then we would have to be judicious in setting up facilitated playgroups outside of class.

Iron Gate has minimal structure which is hard for Leelo. Supervisor M thinks it is a wondeful environment for Leelo, though. I mentioned that it really sucked for me to work in the classroom and go to the classes as I am constantly barraged with Typical Four-Year-Oldness, but that if she thinks it is helping Leelo then I will do whatever it takes. At any rate Kindergarten will be much more structured and he might find it easier.

However Leelo's activity level and vocal stimming may interfere with classroom inclusion, even in a special day class. We should investigate (not choose, investigate) medication options. We should ask the Stafnord clinic folks, the MD at the UCCSF clinic.

Inclusion means that his base is in a typical classroom (with or without aide) and that he will be pulled out for therapeutic activities such as OT, etc.

Mainstreaming means that his base is in a special day class and that he will be pulled into the typical classroom for certain periods of the day.

M showed us a list of skills children need to have for classroom inclusion. The list was long, and Leelo has mastered few items on it (being able to wait in line, raise hand to ask questions, sustain short conversations, etc.). Kindergarten is a year away, though, and we all agreed that a lot can happen in a year.

And so much more. Basically we are pleased with Leelo's program, they are pleased with the progress he's made over the last year especially given that the major disruptions of a new baby sister and his senior therapist (F) leaving.

I hope Supervisor M will have written up a superior, detailed summary.

Here is my to-do list as assigned over the meeting's course:
  • Ask JM about Dr. Go1dberg. Andil thinks JM might know about him, also he was cited specifically by Christina Adams (A Rea1 Boy) as being a pivotal part of her son's recovery.
  • Visit Wings school in San Mate0, find out about their inclusion components.
  • Visit Day Classes in Deadwood public schools. Find out if they do inclusion or mainstreaming.
  • Talk to parents who've had kids in classes around the school district, who is good, who is not.
  • Set up Leelo's first IEP/intake with Deadwood school district. How? Perhaps Sage will know?
  • Call Stafnord and set up Leelo's follow-up evaluation (initial evaluation was March 2003, they asked us to bring him back in two years). Part of eval will be to ask about meds.
  • Call G1enn E11iott, MD at UCCSF and expert in fine-tuning meds for autistic kids. Get on potentially six-month-long wait list, anyhow. If Stafnord answers meds questions can always cancel E11iott appointment.

Fuck You, Part II

I think I forgot to mention that the twit about whom I wrote this post is at Iron Gate this year. She hasn't changed.

During tonight's Iron Gate meeting, Teacher P was discussing sensory integration and how some children who seek deep pressure find it soothing to wear heavy, weighted vests. The Twit then brayed, "Maybe they should just chain them to the floor!"

Can you fucking believe it? Can you believe the insensitivity, knowing that at least three parents in the class have kids with sensory needs?

I hope everyone in class saw the instant looks of horror on my and Sage's faces, and the disgusted looks we gave each other from across the room for the next few minutes.

Otherwise, tonight was actually a useful and interesting Iron Gate night class, in which Teacher P described her weekly in-class sensory integration program (something Leelo will get quite a lot out of if we can get him to participate). And the parents' comments almost got good and raunchy when Teacher P started discussing the role of vibrators in the program. (Apparently we can't let the kids use them near their private parts, and we can't write them off for tax purposes if we buy them at G00d Vibrations.)

I even got to amuse myself and Laurie my seatmate:

Teacher P: "...some people think that caesarian-born children or children who didn't go through at least four hours of labor have proprioreception problems because of insufficient pressure sustained during the birthing process."

Me, under my breath: "Yeah, tell that to my BUTT."

10.17.2005

OMFG For Real

Badger and Jo, apologies for relaying information this way. I can't talk any more tonight.

Our Thursday night babysitter, Celia, just called to say that she couldn't come this week. As I am a small person who spent the day whining about both Therapist L and Therapist Y having to cancel their sessions, my reaction was stunned silence, followed by, "Oh, okay." Then she said,

"I can't come because Kat (the lady she nannies for) died this weekend."

...

...

...

Once I was able to talk again, I asked her what had happened. She said that there was an accident, that Kat had become depressed and had taken her own life. This is the same super-chipper Kat who came to Bad Moms coffee regularly a year ago, right before and after her baby girl was born. That baby who just turned one, that baby Celia and I always chat about and compare to 10-weeks-younger Mali.

Kat hadn't come to coffee in months but I didn't think anything of it because she worked full time. Celia said Kat had become quiet and withdrawn during the past couple of months, but that she didn't want to talk about what was bothering her because she was ashamed of her feelings. I so very much wished she had talked to us.

I told Celia to let Kat's husband know that we and the local mothers club can help out with meals and babysitting indefinitely, that they only need to let us know. If they want to.

Celia said that this has been one of the worst weeks of her life. I did not press her for details, I do not know if Celia was in the house at the same time, or what actions Kat took.

All I can think of is how irrepressibly bouncy Kat always seemed, how she was drawn to our group after Jo identified herself as a pinko commie feminist mom on the local moms club email board.

If you are feeling depressed, for fuck's sake please do not feel ashamed to talk to anyone. Talk to me, even. Please.

OMFG

Leelo just took a full header down the stairs. All the way from the top to the bottom.

It's been an hour, and he's seemed fine from the very first after the initial howling, but I think his days of playing on the top few stairs are officially over.

Iz is with her grandparents for the week. I thought this would signal a week of (relative) ease for me, but no. Therapist L had a medical emergency today, and she works both Monday shifts. Not only will Leelo need to miss Iron Gate this afternoon, but that I have to find a substitute for my Iron Gate shift since Leelo can't attend without an aide even if I am there.

Fuck. This is coming off a real zinger of a fucked up wedding/travel weekend. Fuck!

10.16.2005

She's Only Six, for F**k's Sake

Seymour, Leelo, Mali, and I just returned from the wedding weekend from hell (more on that later). Iz is not with us because we handed her off to Aunt Bree, who is taking her down to La J0lla to hang with my folks for a few days. I miss that little shit already.

We had to leave the wedding reception early because it was stressing Leelo out. Bree and James (Seymour's brother) graciously agreed to let Iz ride out the reception with them because she was having so much fun with her cousins, their daughters Mira (5) and Kylie (2.5).

Three hours later a nonplussed looking Iz was dropped at our hotel room door by an equally nonplussed looking Uncle James. Turns out Iz and Mira had made one of Iz's signature potions out

Seymour coffee, and he was a good kid. Need to have perfect kids, why?

Iz' teacher worried about this more than actual incidents, worried about long-term peer scenarios. Also thinks she's odd because she told the middle school teacher that she wouldn't be attending 5th grade at Esperanza since she was already down for H0gwarts. Used to worry that she didn't pretend! Also called another kid at the wedding a mudblood, worst insult ever.

----------I found this draft in the woodpile and am publishing it as is------------

How to Irritate a Geographer

Recently I've seen two Spanish educators--Iz's teacher, and the brilliant writer Denise Minor--assert that Español is not spoken in Africa. We'll just have to erase Equatorial Guinea from them map, then, eh?

Don't ask me about rivers or mountains or capitals, though. I'm shite at all that.

10.13.2005

Light at the Bottom of the Honey Bucket

Today at the pumpkin patch, Leelo peed in a porta-potty for the very first time.

After we came home, I caught him assuming his favored downloading position (he puts the pad from his toy bench on the floor, lies tummy down, and raises his bottom ever so slightly). So I whisked him off to the potty. Where he did a partial download himself, with fewer protests than usual. Progress.

When Seymour came home tonight, Leelo did not greet him at the door as he usually does. Seymour went looking, and found Leelo on the downstairs potty, atop a gloriously golden bowl. Our boy went pee in the pot all by himself! First time ever.

I am ready to set up an altar dedicated to Pu11ups, which--in addition to the intensive efforts from his team--I think are at the root of all these potty pleasures. They have magic micro-velcro sides, making them a true diaper/underwear hybrid. Leelo can pull them down and up like real drawers, I can get them on and off him without removing his pants, yet they still absorb five fluid gallons before springing a leak. We switched to them full time a few days ago. Leelo is not going back to diapers, not ever.

All in all I am feeling cheery. Although I will in the future remind my depleted self that blood donation days and pumpkin patch days should be separate days.

Here are some pumpkin pictures:


Iz launching herself from the hay bale pyramid.


Merlin airborne.


Sophie aloft.


Leelo pumpkining. Unfortunately I can't upload the related video, which shows him skipping through the squashes.


A final first: Leelo pays affectionate attention to Mali!

No, wait. Another final first: Leelo imitated me smiling today, upon being prompted. It was with a rictus grin, but it was also the first time he's acknowledged that there are such things as smiles. Oooh happy day.

10.12.2005

Thank You for Reinforcing My Child's Budding Prevarication Skills

All the inner calm gathered from Jo's and Badger's watching Mali while I ate lunch BY MYSELF (oh, thank you!) dissipated instantly upon my arrival at Iz's classroom, when I was dragged into an excellent lesson in picking and sticking with lies.

Iz and her classmate Billy were both at the teacher's desk. The teacher brought me over and told me in front of the two children that apparently someone drew something bad on Billy's eraser and he says it was Iz and she says it was him.

The teacher chose to say that it was Iz (which may very well be true, but she had no evidence and Iz denies wrongdoing). She then spent more than 10 minutes cajoling Iz to admit and apologize. The teacher did not back off or modify her attack when Billy admitted that he didn't see Iz do it, that he was told she did it by someone else. Who was not present. The teacher didn't relent even after Billy said that he wasn't all that concerned, anyhow.

I did not tell the teacher to back the fuck off because I do not consider it in any way helpful to challenge her authority in front of her charges. However, my actual opinion is that she's out of her fucking gourd, and that she has no sense of how children's minds operate.

***I interrupt this rant to let you know that Mali has just crawled into my office with a pair of my underwear strung ever so jauntily around her neck.***

Firstly, where does the teacher get off on deciding, without any tangible evidence, that it was my child who was in the wrong? I'm not denying that Iz may be lying--I'm debating her decision to condemn Iz based on conflicting hearsay.

My choice in a "she did it--no, he did it!" scenario would be to punish ALL the children, because those kids certainly know who did it. The wrongly maligned pack members will then make sure justice kicks the ass of the right person.

Another, more kindly choice would be for the teacher to scale back and tell the children involved that she was very disappointed in the wrongdoer, but, without evidence, she was going to have to let the matter go.

Secondly, few directly confronted children will then come out and admit that, yes, it was them--because why would they want additional punishment on top of the interrogation they're already being subjected to? On what planet would this scenario motivate a conflicted, guilty child to tell the truth? Best to deny, deny, lie, and deny to prevent further humiliation.

For the record, Iz never once wavered from her story, except to add additional details. Usually when she's in denial mode she will spin the story in a different direction each time. I believe she is telling me the truth.

The teacher's final directive was for Iz to go home and write a letter of apology to the other child. I guarantee that Iz will be bringing in a letter, however it will be from me rather than my daughter.

In the mean time I will make sure Iz knows that, while bad behavior is most undesirable, she will never be punished for telling me the truth. A new era of honesty! Freedom!

---------

Later...

I am done with taking the kids to nice restaurants. Even with both Seymour and Babysitter A attending and at the ready, the meal was a hellish stress fest. No More.

But Seymour got me a Nan0! Yeah!

The past few days have been unusually stressful and draining. I would like a stiff drink at some point tomorrow night.

10.11.2005

Tomorrow the New Era Begins

Another Iron Gate meeting. Sigh. More nattering on about developmental and parenting topics that have no relevance to Leelo's life. This time about unconditiona1 parenting, which in my opinion can be boiled down to "take time to be thoughtful when you speak to your kids" and a bunch of other crap about how empty praise is on the same continuum as punishment, how kids should feel you love them all the time, not just when they're doing something praiseworthy.

I really do think most parenting books need to go straight back to their papermill of origin.

I am also thinking increasingly about why our boy is spending four afternoons a week at Iron Gate when instead he could be at home doing more intensive therapy with the occasional playgroup. Especially when shitty little girls refuse to respond to his overtures or greetings, turning away from him like he's not actually there, not actually a child like they are, and telling the adult attempting to facilitate that "I'm just so tired today."

I used to feel bad about cornering a pediatrician Iron Gate parent and asking about Leelo's various ailments--however tonight I saw her cornering Sage with speech therapy questions. No more guilt for me! I will ask Sage if she has a signal I should watch out for if she ever needs to be extracted from such scenarios. Although admittedly I spent very little of the evening being social. Not like Miss Mali, the unabashed life (and soundtrack) of the party.

Leelo himself is right back in loopyland, with expressive language and eye contact at about 15% of what they were during his lovely September/August. He's just not a good performing monkey right now. I blame sugar, I blame two weeks without B12 shots (we ran out), I blame our nutso schedule, I blame the stars in the sky.

Not that he's lost language, or even stopped gaining it. He's been telling everyone whenever Seymour or I heed nature's call: "Daddy's/Mommy's in the potty." Using generalized language like, "I want food," or, "Let's take this with us," the latter about bringing a favorite ball upstairs.

He's been showing more evidence of his keen memory and powers of observation and hearing, in telling us, "I want to go to the pool," when we visit an estate he's only been to once, months ago, and which he entered from the opposite gate. In saying "I want to go see Sage" after overhearing me talking on the phone about how his next appointment is with her.

He is still, as always, snuggly, darling, and a delightful boy.

Iz finished HP5 after a break when HP's godfather passed, because she was angry about his character dying and didn't want to keep reading the series if more important characters were going to be killed. She has also decided that her next reading series is going to be Quicksi1ver, The C0nfusion, and The System 0f the Wor1d, "because HP5 was over 800 pages and those books are over 1000 pages and I'm ready for 1000 page books now." I suggested my one-volume edition of L0TR instead.

I will admit that her focusing on page count rather than content or story is teeth-gnashingly worrisome to me. Reading for show rather than fulfillment and all that. Forcing herself onto books she's not ready for and being put off them for life. Badger and Jo, prop me up and tell me not to fret.

Also let me know if you'd like a copy of Iz's school picture, which just came back. In it she arranged her braids like her favorite picture of G0ldberry. Also her slight exotropia is evident because they took off her glasses, the turds. Still a very cute photo.

Mali continues to be hard-core extrovert baby. Wants everyone's attention, all the time. Destroys everything she touches (latest: reaching up and snapping off my necklace). Very, very, very cute with her wispy curls and goofy smile and constant waving to/greeting of every person she encounters. Very adept cruising. Had a good session with Jane the Iron Gate nursery aide--only a few minutes of screaming this week. Whew. Still wants me all the time, snuggles right into my side like the cuddly parasite she is all night long.

So, if you're wondering if I want anything for my birthday tomorrow, the answer is YES. I want you to come play with this fucking baby for an hour so I can have some time to myself.

10.06.2005

No More Raspberries. I Mean It.

Leelo's trots woke him up at 3 A.M. He never went back to bed. He did, however, wake Mali with his yelling, so I got to crawl back into bed to nurse her to sleep while Seymour played Zombie Dad with Leelo until the rest of the household awoke. I am getting tired of my role as the bearer of soporific udders, but in this case was blatantly grateful for the out. And grateful to my partner for not calling me on it.

Leelo was pretty much physically present but mentally removed all day. Still some good language, but hard to get it out of him. Hopefully a good night's sleep will make all well.

Iz seems to have forgotten that adoption, like reproduction and politics, is an ask-permission-first topic. On our way out of Iron Gate, I introduced our oldest girl to Jane the nursery aide (she for whom Mali screams like a demon each Monday). Iz proceeded to tell Jane how she was the oldest child in our family but not her Mommy's oldest child because her mommy had had a baby a long time ago and had given it up for adoption. This just as two more Iron Gate parents were walking by. Jane took it in stride, I laughed awkwardly and mumbled something about information overload.

Mali really is terrifically clever and wonderful. I can say this with oomph because I do not know any other babies to compare her to, nor have I been reading anything about babies' development. So I can declare it amazing that today she vocalized, "Hi, Jo!", chased Merlin around the living room while growling at him, and properly draped herself with a beaded necklace three times in a row. Because no other babies have ever done anything so tremendous, not in the entire history of babies.

I am fretting about her less. I am relishing her seemingly typical babyness.

Went to a school board candidate's salon tonight. Very edifying. Brilliant people, almost all women. Included Ep, who had dragged me there.

To bed.

Bits About Three Bits

Iz tried to pull the "I barfed" thing at school again today. Neither the school nurse nor I bought it, though--she was told that she'll need to present physical evidence next time.

Yesterday she told me that she'd changed her mind about her nemesis Sanchez, and that she really did want to invite him to her birthday party. She asked me if we could have a sorting hat at the party. I said okay. She then asked me to make sure the sorting hat put Sanchez in S1ytherin (her idea of the worst punishment possible). Did I mention that I recently had her look up "cunning" in the dictionary?

Leelo is still loopy. He's been chewing on eveything again, and ignoring our requests even when we get in his face. But the language is still there, the evidence of increased comprehension is still there. His therapists are pleased. Saying things like "I'm looking for Ada," about a train he hasn't played with or even mentioned for a year. He is also sneaky enough to know that if he doesn't want to do something, he can say, "I need to go potty" and I will instantly drop the challenge to shuttle him off to the happy land of penis access.

He's got the trots, though. Possibly because I let him have some dried raspberries yesterday. Poor boy, I really do need to make an appointment with a nutritionist. He might also have a runny nose.

Now that teething is all done, Mali is back to being the most social baby I've ever encountered. And the most systematically destructive. And the cleverest. (Just as all your babies are the friendliest, most energetic, and smartest, to be sure.) Today she spent a good long time turned around in her high chair, pointing to the individual letters in the chair's logo and (I swear!) trying to say, "What's that?"

She also took every single item out of the lowest drawer of her dresser and spread them all over the office floor. Upstairs she did the same thing with Leelo's trains, the stuffed animals, and two shelves of books. Thankfully Murphy came and rehung the doors on the art cabinet, so those supplies at least are off limits until she grows tall enough to reach the door handles.

Late late late. Good night.

Couldn't Have Scripted This One

Today started with a funeral and ended with a birth.

Ep and I spent the morning at the funeral of Iz's and Merlin's former preschool teacher. G was a kind, sweet woman who was obviously meant to work with children. The really brutal part, aside from the suddenness of her passing, was that she and her husband had adopted their only daughter less than two years ago.

Neither Ep nor I could get ourselves to approach the open casket. What we saw of the Buddhist ceremony was lovely and touching--but we couldn't stay because Mali was too busy blasting all my fears into outer space by being the most extremely social and vocal baby one might ever wish for--if one wasn't in service at a memorial chapel.

I spent the rest of day in a bit of a funk, fuming at The Fates. Then Seymour bounded up the stairs with the following news:

Godmother Stacy had two healthy girls earlier this evening, approximately 90 minutes apart. I do not have additional details because Seymour, not I, was the one who took the phone call and he doesn't quite have the hang of pumping people for birth details. But healthy, happy, two girls. Who will be gifted all of Mali's lovingly stored wee girly infant clothes.

10.05.2005

Blasphemy

I'm not a big Firef1y fan. Buffy-speak is the provenance of teens and young adults, and it is jarring to hear it from the mouths of grown up space rebels. I am angry that Mr. Whed0n let the seventh and fifth seasons of two greater shows out to pasture, tangibly, while he played space cowboy. I wish he'd waited one more year to saddle up.

I'll watch Firef1y if nothing else is on, but give me Batt1estar Ga1actica any day.

Who's Smarter: Me, or Me?

I am sick of outwitting myself.

I spent the better part of the week looking for Iz's glasses (the magic lenses ones, not the backups she's been wearing lately). I cleaned and organized the entire upstairs, plus the kids' room, in looking for them amidst the usual drifting piles of crap. I went through all the recyclables, and ***BARF*** two big fetid bags of trash.

They were in her backpack, where I had put them so they wouldn't get lost.

10.02.2005

Fretting on Three Levels

I can't help it. I parent, therefore I fret.

I fret about Mali because I want more eye contact than she's been wanting to give. Most likely she's avoiding looking at my eyes because I'm always two inches from her nose, and because she is tired and grumpy from busting out her second upper tooth this morning and therefore not napping properly for days. If I bring out a really exciting toy like Leelo's roaring lion flashlight, she squeals with delight and gawks right at me in amazed gratitude. I know I'm being a moron.

But, again, I can't help it. I vividly remember reading a newspaper article about the autism epidemic when Leelo was Mali's age and Iz was two, and thinking how lucky we were that our kids didn't show any of the described traits. What a relief!

Yeah.

Just yesterday I received a MYND Institute update on the infant siblings study. So far, less than 25% of the infants with autistic siblings have developed worrisome behaviors. Good news! But none of them had any symptoms at 6 months, when Mali had her first evaluation. When symptoms did appear, it was between 9 and 18 months. Mali is only 10 months old. Gaaah.

Also she is doing the funky asymmetrical right-leg-leading crawling that Leelo used to do and that Iz never did. I know typical kids do this too. But she also tends to keep her right hand clenched even when her left hand is relaxed, awake or asleep.

She has also definitely lost interest in eating items that are not fruits or starches. Initially she gobbled down almost everything, now I'm realizing she won't even touch former favorites like scrambled egg or avocado. She isn't eating much non-nursing food at all, and has visibly narrowed (though she is still meaty). Leelo did the same thing--his growth chart marks dropped dramatically between 6 and 12 months.

More worrisome is that she seems to have fallen off the Hyper-Social Baby pedestal. She used to seek out and greet people; now she lets them hold her but doesn't seem to be interacting as much. Possibly long-term grumpy teething baby effects? She needs to get some real daytime sleep. Poor tiny girl.

This week's autism research unearthed something I'd not read before, that autistic children and their family members usually have short index fingers compared to ring fingers, and that this is related to high levels in-utero testosterone/androgens exposure. My mom always commented on my stubby index finger, which Leelo has inherited. Mali seems to have it, too. Iz's index finger is nice and long. (I snuck into her room scanned it with her reading flashlight.)

The original study also suggests that women with bigger hips and smaller waists (indicating high estrogen and low testosterone) are more likely to have children without that bad, bad, stubby pointer finger. I may be stacked to the rafters, but I've got the hips and waist of a boy. (A well-fed boy.) If "hips" can also be said to include "ass," (which I also don't have), then perhaps my girls are safe after all, not only now but when and if they decide to breed. They've both got butt to spare. Leelo, sadly, has absolutely nothing back there--except a dark line of hair down his neck, which always did make me wonder about skewed hormones.

--------------

Leelo himself is still not at top form, but he continues to gain new language and skills. Today he was able to correctly follow the request "Leelo, pick up Mali's clothes and bring them to me," when asked only once, with no visual prompts or physical cuing, and while there was a good deal of other crap on the floor. Astounding, given his inability to consistently follow even one-step, highly prompted and aided directions only last year.

He's also demonstrating increasing social fluidity. This afternoon, while visiting Godmother Stacy's lovely palace of a home so we could stare at her almost-term twin-bearing-belly, we asked Leelo to say, "Thank you, Arnold," to Stacy's ever helpful spouse. Instead of staring straight ahead while rotely repeating the prompting statement, Leelo first looked around to see where Arnold was, and made eye contact (briefly, but hey).

Seymour and I agree that Leelo has integration issues, and is most likely a candidate for audio integration therapy, and that we should investigate it more. I am going to chat about it with Therapist M, his occupational therapist, tomorrow, to see if she has any leads on formal testing facilities.

I guess none of these Leelo items are fretting, exactly. We are happy with where Leelo is, and feel good about where he's going to be. Post-preschool, we don't feel that that place needs to be a regular, mainstream kindergarten unless Leelo is ready for it. We want him to be in the best environment for his needs, and if that is the special autism class that Ep recently found out about at Merlin's school, so be it.

----------------

I guess I'm fretting more about how having a special needs brother is affecting Iz. She is increasingly treating Leelo badly or ignoring his overtures to her while in public, which lights my britches on fire but is understandable. No child would choose to be the one with the odd little brother. I still kick her ass over it, though.

This issue makes me wonder if Big Noggin (the local 3-8 gifted public magnet school) would be better for Iz, next year. Wouldn't you think that the geeks would be more accepting of loopy siblings than the regular kids? Or maybe, since they're being culled and isolated before being properly socially cast out themselves, the geeks would use their mental powers to carry out greater cruelties. I tend to think not, though. I like to imagine Big Noggin as a happy cocoon of warm nerd love.

Seymour and I have lots of opinions to process regarding whether Iz should stay at Esperanza or jump ship to Big Noggin next year (assuming she gets in). Iz herself wants to jump so she can take more science, and have all her classes in English.

I don't think Iz is having the most pleasant social experience at Esperanza. She is still sad about being isolated from last year's friends, and about her social status in general. With the exception of Violet, no one from school has ever asked her on a play date.

I think she gets grief about being younger and shorter and smarter, I think the older kids in her grade take advantage of her naivete and temper to get her in more trouble than she would already encounter. These issues would deflate at Big Noggin.

However I don't know if Big Noggin will be able to support her Spanish skills. She is finally comfortable enough to use her Spanish in the real world, and I'd hate to see her lose it.

Badger opines that nerds thrive best together, with their own kind. I agree. Violet's mom, who used to be pro-Big Noggin, now thinks that it would be a shame for Violet to lose her Spanish, and wants her daughter to stay at Esperanza. I agree with her, too. Jo, whose Eliz is in her second Big Noggin year, would club me on the head if it would guarantee a Big Noggin choice for Iz, and I understand. Two other parents whose super-bright kids chose to stay at Esperanza think that now is the time to work on language skills, and that the kids can start Big Noggin in later grades if need be. I see their points. Sigh.

If I were to choose right now, Iz would be Big Noggin bound. She's going to be a fretter like her mom, and she would blend more and stress less at Big Noggin.

BTW, Iz had a milestone today: she said "fuck" in my hearing for the first time. It was part of a query, and was an accident (she says). I told her that it was just a word, but that she needed to be careful where she said it or she could get in really big trouble. Should be interesting to see how that experiment pans out.

10.01.2005

Don't Tell Iz You Heard This Story

Iz (banging on the door): Mommy! I need to use the potty!
Me (bathing and reading, blessedly alone): Iz, go upstairs. I'm taking a bath.
Iz: Pleeease! I really need to go!
Me (grumbling): Oh, fine, go ahead. I'll slide the bath door closed so I don't suffocate.
Iz: Thank you!!!

She flouces in and does her business, then hops up to take a look at the results.

Iz: Mommy! It looks like a rosette and a serpent! I bet this signifies that I'll be going to H0gwarts when I'm eleven!
Me: (Grateful that I'm already lying down, really trying not to laugh): Mmmm. And that you'll be in S1ytherin, heh heh.

Later on I told the story to Seymour.

Seymour: A serpent, eh? Iz, does that mean you're a Parselbum?
Iz: (Can't help laughing, but also mortified): Daddy!

Lately she has been fascinated by compound words. Even more so since I told her that compound words make very popular, creative, and satisfying insults, using beloved examples "fartknocker" and "cakesniffer."

She's still got a few gaps in her comprehension of the concept, though, as she tried to convince me that "compound" was itself a compound word. When I told her that "com" was not a word in this case so much as a prefix, she said, "But, mommy, what about dot com?"

She and Seymour are off daddy/daughter camping for the weekend. I wish them luck and only a light bit of the forecasted rain (I didn't read the weather report and I guess neither did the weekend's eight participating families).

I remain home with the two little menaces. I kept Mali awake until Babysitter A arrived to play with Leelo, with the intention of nursing the baby asleep and having a glorious hour or so to myself for the first daylight time since Monday. However Miss Mali only felt like sleeping for 10 minutes. I then conscripted Eliz for an impromptu inaugural gig as a mother's helper. Except Mali was only a happy playful baby for the first 30 minutes. Now Eliz is upstairs reading and Mali is sleeping on my lap, having been nursed asleep yet again, successfully. Sigh.

Leelo has been noticeably loopy yesterday and today, with more vocalizing and stim behaviors than we've seen in a long time. But--the language is still there. Yesterday he looked at the mind-trippy B00hbahs we'd Tiv0'd and correctly observed, "They're dancing!" Today he wanted me to come away from the computer and so told me, "Time to get off the chair, Mommy."

I also like the fact that he tries to wiggle away from his Therapists, Babysitter A, and Seymour by announcing, "I want to go see Mommy!" Little brownnoser. (hey another example!)

BTW, I've finally updated the about file, seeing as I'm no longer pregnant.

Off to dinner with Jo and sprogs. Manny is out of town, too. It'll be a stripped down version of our usual chaos fest.

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