9.30.2006

I Am Easily Amused: The iPad

I Am Easily Amused: The iPad

I just sent this to Badger, but what the hell: you enjoy it, too. Google Video and my blog don't like each other, so follow the link below instead. And make sure you're not drinking anything hot so as to protect your nasal passages.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1010049615274470573&q=iPad

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Letting Classmates and Parents Know That Your Kid Is "Different"

Letting Classmates and Parents Know That Your Kid Is "Different"

Leelo's classmate M spends part of his week in a typical kindergarten, and will eventually transition there full-time. His mom, Signora Blog, asked our local eBoard how much the classmates and teachers need to know, and how to spread the information in the first place. One of the most striking answers came from L. Poland, who gave me permission to republish it here:
" ... I would have the teacher be the first line of defense. Kids will go home and talk about all of their new friends, and you probably don't want your son to appear too different if at all possible. He should just be one of the gang.

"That said, I have been in classrooms around the peninsula from preschool up through high school (professionally, not as a parent) and have seen the impact the teacher has on the way the students treat each other. If, on the first day, she explains that everyone learns differently etc, and we are a classroom of friends and everyone is special so let's be nice no matter what ... those classrooms have the best social outcomes across the board. I can even walk in at the middle or the end of the year and all the kids are nice to each other. I must say I'm surprised at how few teachers actually do this, but the impact is astounding. The special needs kids are included in groups, but even the more typical kids are really nice to each other."
Feel free to forward this to the educator of your choice.

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9.29.2006

I Smell Stinky Sexist Robot Scientists

I Smell Stinky Sexist Robot Scientists


Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

CAN YOU EVEN FUCKING BELIEVE THIS?

"Maid Without Tears," my ass! In the future we won't even need women. We can replace them with robots, which don't make a fuss when you ask them iron your shirt or why dinner was cold or to bring you a drink after your hard day at work.

GRRARGH. MAIM, KILL KILL KILL.

The only thing I liked about this book was that it is an excellent example of archaic and sexist attitudes, which allowed Seymour and me to have a good discussion with Iz about how silly this picture is, the reasons why, and the idiocy of creating a female MaidBot but not a male one.

Iz found this stinky old book about robots in the bin at the cafe. I think we'll need to disappear it.

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Kerali is a Friend of Leelo's

Kerali is a Friend of Leelo's


Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

This is Mali's almost-birthday-mate Kerali, daughter of the relentlessly intelligent and witty commenter Giddy--who also happens to be one of my best friends as and a former college roommate. Thanks, Giddy and Kerali! Ten more clams are going towards autism research and awareness.

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9.28.2006

New Career, New Identity

New Career, New Identity

Great news! Seymour got hired by one of our local NPR affiliates. A kewl job in The City. He made no concessions, the pay is good, the benefits are better, and he will be in a productive and educational environment for the first time in years. Very exciting. He starts in two weeks.

We are off shortly, to celebrate the excellent turn of fortune by plowing through the artfully artery-clogging charcuterie selection at The Town Tavern. This is one of those nights where it's a damn good thing I had my tubes tied--me, alcohol, and birth control are a problematic mixture. I am also grateful for such cheer amidst a week where four of my good friends lost or are about to lose family members. We will toast them while we are still able to hold our glasses upright.

---

I have changed my personal email address. After almost eight years of emailing like it was 1999--when it was not only novel for my kid to have her own domain but also for me to piggyback on it--I got my own damn domain. You can still use squid@izzy.com, but I will be using squidmund@squidmundrosenberg.com. It is longer in length but shorter in lameness.

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No Designer Jeans, No Cinch Belts

No Designer Jeans, No Cinch Belts

Things thisaways have been heavy and beyond busy. I am too tired to write a decent post (though I would call your attention to the fact that, after three years, I have enabled permalinking), so I will ask you a question instead:

Can you wear uncomfortable clothes? I can't. I never could. I can't wear anything even slightly tight or binding for more than thirty minutes without getting horrible headaches and nausea. Am I a freak, is this one of the roots of Leelo's sensory issues, or is this how it is for most people?

9.26.2006

Mali at Twenty-Two Months

Mali at Twenty-Two Months

It is official: Mali is not Leelo, and Leelo is not Mali. There won't be any more "Mali says this and Leelo doesn't yet" examples recorded here. Leelo is doing his own thing, Mali is doing her own thing.

Which right now is talking up a storm. Some of what she says is context-appropriate parroting: "Don't touch the bees!" Other times it is her own constructions: "I'm still hungry! More croissant, please," or, when I try to put her in the too-toasty car, appropriate complaints: "It's hot!"

I love how she squeals with joy when a favorite person arrives. I love how all of Iz's friends at school, including Eliz, like Mali so much that it often takes me 10 minutes to terminate their game of Pass the Baby.

I am ready to shave her head to see if real hair will replace her current fun-house hair.

I am ready for her to be out of our bed so as to facilitate access to my husband.

I am ready for her to go to nursery school. So is she. But we have to wait two more months.

If Mali was Iz, Leelo would be one week old.

I am still shocked that Mali is even here.

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9.25.2006

Autism + Potty Training = The Seventh Circle of Hell

Autism + Potty Training = The Seventh Circle of Hell

We are still not having much luck potty training Mr. Leelo. Now the excitement centers around his stool witholding sessions. He is not constipated (the end product is still soft), but he will sometimes withhold for up to 24 hours, and is having increasingly dramatic tantrums in refusing to leave the toilet when a BM is coming. For some reason he cannot produce while on the toilet, even though the whole time he is howling and crying, "I want to go poo-poo in the potty, Mommy."

I forgot to communicate to Babysitter A that we have a three-minute limit for these tantrums, so she sat with him for an hour on Saturday (we were out of the house, or I would have advised her differently). I think this session made matters worse--she said it was as though he was trying to "pull it out of his body." The 24 hour withholding session followed.

Supervisor M has suggested that we let Leelo sit on the potty in a pullup on, but our boy flat-out refuses. The only thing that is working right now is to give him space to go sit in the corner and do his business in his pullup. If you even look at him sideways during such an episode, he will yell, "No potty!"

I have heard many stories from parents whose typical children ended up with encopresis or other constipation issues. The parents all seem to think that they unwittingly caused the conditions by forcing their children to train their bowels before the kids were ready. I don't know if I entirely agree with this, but I do think that if Leelo is overall more like a 2 1/2 year old, then he may be going through a stage that we can let him deal with in his own way, to get comfortable with the fact that he has to take a shit at some point and that it's much nicer if he can control and anticipate it.

But then again, we are trying to schedule train him since he never goes to the toilet on his own initiative, even to pee (although he is very good at holding his bladder for 90 minutes and lately has been in a good pattern of coming up dry in the mornings). So, bleh.

At this point for me the most important thing is to avoid a pattern of withholding. Any advice is welcome.

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Two Approaches: Let the Whining Commence

Two Approaches: Let the Whining Commence

Mali is experimenting with whining. This previously jolly and even-tempered child is starting to figure out that crying and other unpleasant, prolonged noises get her lots of attention from people who are not her mom. I am not amused, with the exception of last week during Tuesday Night Sushi with Jo Spanglemonkey and Family. I asked Mali why she was making such a fuss, and she replied, "I am a sad baby!"

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9.22.2006

Why Don't You Just Ask Him Yourself?

Why Don't You Just Ask Him Yourself?

Iz has been bugging me to let her watch the documentary When the Levees Broke by Spike Lee. She wants to know more about Hurricane Katrina, more about how this kind of disaster could have happened in a city which lies within the same national boundaries as her home town. She cannot wrap her head around how the people in charge let this happen, and she wants details.

I told her that she might be able to watch the film, but that I'd have to review it first. Which I plan to do, but things have been especially nutty lately and I haven't gotten past the first twenty minutes. Iz was getting impatient.

Fortunately, my dad--who has decided that limo driving is the best job there is for a retiree with Aspergers-like tendencies--offhandedly mentioned to me that he'd be picking up Mr. Lee at the airport yesterday. I asked him to make an inquiry for his granddaughter. And then yesterday I got to have the following conversation with Iz:
"Iz, you know how you wanted to watch When the Levees Broke? Well, I'm afraid it's not possible."

"Why not?"

"Well, your grandfather talked to Spike Lee and asked him if it would be okay for you to watch his film. He said definitely not, but that he really appreciated your interest."

"Oh, man!"
Anyone who has pointers to suitable Katrina information for 3rd graders, please let me know.

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9.20.2006

We Are All Fine Here

Hey, there, MotherTalkers! Welcome to one of today's stops on the blog book tour for Mary Guterson's We Are All Fine Here.

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I love a writer who’s got snark on tap. Mary Guterson, therefore, is an object of my unrequited affection. Her book We Are All Fine Here reined me in with its short sharp one-paragraph summary of all parenting books everywhere. I was further seduced by main character Julia's sly running commentary on all the not-exactly-winners in her life. But then the snarkery came interspersed with insights so apt and true they had me yelling at the book in public. This was not a dull read.



The gist of the book is as such: Julia lives an undistinguished life in the undistinguished suburbs. Her day-to-day doings have become almost tangential to those of her teenaged son and husband. Her job is dull despite convivial coworkers. The only part of her life that hasn't dwindled to habitual passivity is sporadic contact--sometimes full-body--with Ray, the charming but flaky college boyfriend she can't bring herself to cut completely out of her life. When her latest Ray encounter is followed by an unplanned pregnancy, and she doesn't know if the baby is his or her husband's, Julia realizes she is going to have to make some sort of life-changing decision. Though she may not make it right this minute.

No doubt this sounds like a delicious read to many of you. But to me, it sounds like Purgatory. I live the dull suburban parenting grind, and, while I am not unhappy, I also have no patience with novels about trying periods in an unremarkable middle-class suburban woman's life. Reading is my escape pod, and if it doesn't transport me to an alien realm--be it outer space, alternative Renaissance Europe, or post-Revolution Iran--then I'm usually not interested.

Good thing, then, that We Are All Fine Here supports one of my stock book discussion mini-rants: subject doesn't matter if the writing is good. And Ms. Guterson is a talented writer, with a knack for the sort of clear, fluid prose and dialogue that makes the page between reader and story almost transparent. She had me snickering and sniffling despite my skepticism. (She also snuck in enough Star Trek references to prevent a boycott by my inner geek.)

Still, I do have a complaint about We Are All Fine Here, and--lest Ms. Guterson feel unfairly maligned--it is the same complaint I make about many modern American novels: Ms. Guterson's characters seem to have been drained dry. There is little joy or vivacity in this book, and those, to me, are major flaws. Sarcasm, tragedy, and epiphanies are not enough to carry a novel--I require broader representation from the more lively side of the experiential spectrum. I am not saying novelists should be force-fed Sullivan's Travels, but rather that my life is often boring and sometimes depressing and I do not want to read about other bored, depressed people! I get that at home, for free!

I suspected that the author's real voice was more alive. I could occasionally see it poking through the prose, in passages such as, "Here I've let Ray into my vagina without so much as a backward glance, and yet I'm in a sweat over letting him into my living room." My suspicion was confirmed by visiting Ms. Guterson's delightfully neurotic blog. This disconnect between her writing styles makes me wonder if she or an overzealous editor tamped down that considerable, gleeful, nervous energy, to fashion a book that fits neatly on the shelf beside such big hit dirge-a-thons as I Know This Much Is True or The Hours.

(Admittedly, I am biased. When I read about day-to-day living, I do so via the wonderfully unrestrained and immediate world of blogs. The sites I visit regularly are select, because I only make time for people who write like Janis Joplin sang: passionately, and damn well.)

Complaints aside, I have nothing but praise for the last section of the book. (And if you avoid spoilers then please jump to the last paragraph.) After weeks of indecision and paralysis, and just as Julia starts to become excited about her second turn at motherhood, she loses her baby. She loses her baby. Her world is shocked into a different orbit, and, as anyone who has ever lost a pregnancy knows, it never really goes back.

This section was written so well and so truthfully that I wanted to reach out and give Julia the support I would have given a real-life friend. When she remarked, "Afterwards, the world is suddenly full of pregnant women," I wrote in the margins, "Yes, Sweetie, it is." I am grateful to Ms. Guterson for writing about this painful and far from uncommon experience with such bravery and grace.

We Are All Fine Here is top-shelf writing by a gifted author. Reader, if you are not as grumpy as me, you will enjoy it immensely.

-----

Buy the Book, Already!

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9.19.2006

Snapshots

Snapshots

Today Leelo's school had class pictures. I hope hope hope it went well. Leelo being who he is (in this case, a boy who detests posing) leaves me feeling not entirely optimistic. But I would love to have a school photo of him! The last time he encountered a photographer wily enough to get a decent posed shot was two years ago.

Leelo's classroom aide Rosie has agreed to come over here to observe some of Therapist L's sessions, with Therapist L's blessings. Now we're down to scheduling--Friday, perhaps. This should be incredibly helpful for Leelo, and for his classroom in general.

Mali has taken to removing her clothes and then tossing them in the trash. She's not picky, really--she'll throw our clothes in as well. Usually while no one is looking. She seems to favor socks. This proclivity, combined with an already overenthusiastic sock-stealing monster such as lurks in every laundry room and my disinclination to move clean socks from the laundry basket to their drawers means that our sock supply is now in serious peril.

Iz has decided to run for 3rd Grade Student Rep. The thought of helping her run a campaign and write a speech has already given me hives, so Seymour will be her Chief of Staff. I think it will be a good experience for her whether she wins or loses. I wouldn't mind a loss, even, since God forbid our kids learn what it feels like to not win. Plus she'd be down one responsibility--yay for that.

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9.18.2006

While I'm Procrastinating: Soft Core Star Trek

While I'm Procrastinating: Soft Core Star Trek

Oh, my, thank you, SJ! It's like sexual tension Christmas!



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Your Opinion Needed on How to Take Twee to Another Level

Your Opinion Needed on How to Take Twee to Another Level

Here's a mockup of the Conflict Resolution poster for Mali's preschool. The drawings are not cleaned up, plus I'll be putting in another kid and making sure that only one little fartknocker is blonde (blonde hair is faster to draw). Anyone who knows anything about design at all please feel free to comment on simply ways to make this suck less. Click on the image to enlarge. Thanks.




P.S. Many thanks to Lea H.'s book Manga Secrets for helping me suss out proportioning the little leg-grabbers.

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9.17.2006

D'oh in Triplicate

D'oh in Triplicate

Why do I try to ambush myself out of my writing and illustrating mental blocks by signing up for real projects with real deadlines? Why why why do I do this? I am sick of being paralyzed, but also need to remember that the last time I tried to publish a real public article on a deadline, my freaking out shocked my body into premature labor and then three months of bedrest. Plus I haven't been able to illustrate anything in over two years. Now I have both a book review and an art project (illustrated poem about preschool conflict resolution for Iron Gate) due by mid-week. People are depending on me. I ... can ... do ... this ...

I have been unable to sign up for the BlogHer ad network because the password and ID I created, and which those good folks confirmed, don't like me and won't let me in. All I need to know is the number to which I should fax the applications. Anyone?

On 9/13 I went down to the county Board of Supervisors' monthly meeting for what I thought was the resolution and approval of our extended (i.e., since February) property easement relocation process and plan. Nope, this was merely the Planning dept.'s approval--we still don't have the Board's approval, and will need to supply more and better documentation to prove that what we're doing won't cleave the earth in two and summon forth hordes of voracious bureaucrat-devouring demons from the darkest pits of hell. This should take a couple of months. I was disappointed, but figured that at this point in our family's income status, a delay is not necessarily a bad thing. What really pissed me off, though, was the county building security guards' confiscating and refusing to hold or return my beloved Leatherman. Bastards.

Anyhow. I am at the library and have fewer than three child-free hours in which to Make Progress. Eep. To work.

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9.16.2006

Leelo: School and Skills

Leelo: School and Skills

We had yet another IEP for Leelo yesterday. This one was specific to setting classroom, speech, and OT (occupational therapy) goals. We didn't quite finish and will have to do so at another meeting, time TBD. Cue eye roll.

Our other IEPs have been relatively pleasant; this was the first one that seemed like interminable slogging. I had a hard time keeping up with a lot of the goal parsing due to jargon and accompanying phrasings, and so was very grateful to both Sage and Supervisor M for keeping right on top of every last detail and for pleasantly though firmly refusing to concede to goals that did not meet their standards. I'm not quite sure how Seymour and I could have handled this particular meeting on our own. Short version: Unless you are Sage's friend DoubleTrouble, do NOT go to an IEP without an experienced advocate.

Leelo's teacher was also a disappointment. I have been giving her the very big benefit of a very large doubt since school started four weeks ago, but her blanket defensiveness is starting to grate, and more importantly seems to be preventing her from learning anything about the kids she's responsible for. She thinks she knows what she is doing, but since she has had almost no autism training and doesn't seem to think she needs any, I don't see how she can meet the needs of an autism kindergarten class. I do not think her students should be tracing worksheets with words like "Thursday," and I sure as fucking hell do not think that any of Leelo's classmates will respond to punitive discipline language such as, "When you start behaving, then you can have X back." The class is definitely getting better in terms of appropriate structure, and more visual cues, but overall it is not meeting the "free and appropriate education" standard that Sage reminded me is Leelo's legal right.

I cornered the district Special Ed Dept. rep after the meeting and told him of these specific concerns, and asked him when the class staff was going to be getting autism training. I told him that Supervisor M was ready to do so with a week's notice. He said they're working on it, trying to get some other people in, blahbitty blahbitty stall stall stall. I do think that he is trying to do the right thing, but I'm not going to trust him to get it done in a timely manner. From this point on he'll be hearing from me frequently until things change for the better.

I didn't have time to grill him on the disconnect re: their contracting with Supervisor M about Leelo's home program, but will follow up with that, as well, personally and with vigor.

Leelo's aide, Rosie, was at the IEP. I like her. She has fantastic potential. She is unflappable, brushed off any worries about Leelo occasionally decking her, and said that sending him in underwear (so far it's been pullups) was no problem for her--even with the looming threat of stinky accidents. She is sweet and lovely, and has the intuition that no training can provide. But since she has had zero training, she mostly ends up following Leelo around rather than prompting him or guiding him. Supervisor M can't train her outside of class because if the district does end up contracting with her (Supervisor M), it will be a conflict of interest. I am not sure what to do in the interim. Perhaps I will get her her own Behavioral Intervention manual. I wonder if it would be okay for her to observe Therapist L during one of Leelo's home sessions.

**Sigh**

Leelo himself has been very sweet and wonderful and chatty lately. He's been asking for kisses and hugs, with me and with his sisters too.

Plus he's taken a couple of voluntary shits in the toilet, and that's always worth a disco move or two as he hasn't done so for many months and actually has been withholding his stools during the day, which sometimes means night shits (but for a different reasons than those in the past--those were due to lack of control, these are due to too much). Maybe he's finally rounding the corner from terrified bowel awareness to resigned bowel acceptance. Last week he even said, "I want to go poo-poo, Mommy," and squeezed out a pellet, which is significant.

I am trying to be more consistent about my part in his bedtime routine, in the hopes that a dependable routine will help him settle down before 10 PM. Right now we read a chapter of a book (right now it's James and the Giant Peach) to all three kids, then Leelo and Mali get read Goodnight Moon and Time for Bed. Leelo really seems to enjoy knowing what to expect, even though he's still not going down at a reasonable or reliable hour.

I took him and his sisters to the zoo* a couple of weeks ago. Leelo participated in the visit more than he ever has before, recognizing and pointing to the zebras and giraffes. He also shocked me by not only eating but asking to eat Iz's kettle corn. The texture normally makes him gag, but he was a hungry boy and so was willing to chew through the unpleasantness for the sweet salty reward. The only real minus to the trip was that I didn't feel capable of taking all three kids on the miniature train by myself, which was a big disappointment for the entire, very vocal, trio.

More Leelo notes, abridged:

He has renewed his love affair with the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear because he knows the ends of every line and anticipates each page, and I praise him highly each time he prompts me.

He can sing Jimmy Crack Corn in its entirety. Thanks, Disney! He has also busted out singing at he top of his lungs: "I can do the Can Can! If I can then you can, we can can can yes we can can can..." I was very surprised because he's usually a whispery boy, post-Adderupp.

When I spilled some milk on the counter, he said, "You need to clean the towel, Mommy." Not quite the phrase he needed, but I understood what he meant and that was great spontaneous and non- "I want..." language.

He has also been asking me, "What are you doing, Mommy?" The first time he said it I think I really did fall over. He has done it twice since. It was totally spontaneous. He did it in front of Therapist L, too.

Earlier this week while we were walking out of Sewerage with Babysitter A, Leelo suddenly declared, "It's Beautiful!!" Well, it was a really nice day and they do have a lovely little flower garden. But, again, everybody almost fainted from the shock.

A few nights ago we were all playing that we were sad. Leelo participated, too, and got a big kick out of it.

Not so cheerily, he has been experimenting with slugging and scratching. He seems to save it for Babysitter A, and for us. I think we need to work on tempering our reactions, as we did the last time this behavior emerged. He loooves big reactions, negative or otherwise.

Even though I'm recording a lot of good language here, when I reviewed the last two years' posts for Mali's milestones I noticed that Leelo's language seems to have stagnated in many ways. (I also noted that his language seemed better whenever he was on B12 shots, which we haven't done for about a year, and which his dietician thinks are a good idea for limited diet vegetarian boys.) He had some really great verbal leaps last year (especially towards the end of last September). Then he had his typical shitty winter, and there's not been much progress since. It seems like he's had an overall decrease in spontaneous, complex, and differentiated language. He uses "I want..." for almost everything, he has started speaking under his breath, and he gets a frustrated "deg- deg- deg-" stutter that did not exist before Adderupp XR and which he will not do for Sage during his speech appointments.

Mali is starting to overtake him, verbally. She is 21 months old.

His functional levels don't really seemed to have changed since he was 3 years old. He was tested by autism clinic at Stanffford at that point, by the MYND Institute at age 4 1/2, and then by YouCSF this past January at age 5. Not much changed between those three visits--he rated at between Mali's age and 2 1/2 for most things, all three times. I don't understand how he could achieve those levels and then plateau for so long. I am also concerned that he doesn't retain skills already achieved if he doesn't practice them, for instance losing his once-dependable, "I'm fine, thank you" response. Sometimes all this makes me worry that his condition is a very gradual case of neurologic degeneration. Now you know one of my deepest darkest fears.

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*Side notes about the zoo:

I don't really like zoos. I go to prove to my kids that the animals in their books are real. Plus zoos are usually good places for Leelo. Personally, I think they are animal prisons. I usually work through my discomfort by telling Iz a little bit about the history of zoos, how they used to hold even the largest animals in very small cages, how the animals would go stir crazy, and how most modern zoos are making an effort to give the animals better and more appropriate spaces. I ask her what she thinks of the animals' lodgings.

During this last visit, I almost soiled myself laughing when a huge silverback gorilla intentionally scared the shit out of a bunch of visitors. I watched from the opposite side of the enclosure as he hid at the side where the other people couldn't see him, waiting for them to get right up to that area's clear acrylic viewing barrier. The he sprang up in front of them, and pounded on the barrier a few inches from their noses. It was really loud! They all screamed and scrambled. Excellent!

Iz and I managed to convince some boys her age that the zoo was having a problem with kangaroos escaping by climbing and then jumping out of the trees overhanging our viewing area. Then we started talking, loudly enough so they could overhear us, about how big male kangaroos are very dangerous because they can disembowel humans with their powerful clawed hind legs (this is true). Then we started teasing each other about the rare tree-dwelling great white sharks, at which point I think the boys started to realize that we were not entirely dependable information sources. Perhaps you have realized something similar.

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9.15.2006

Leelo Rocks the Trail

Leelo Rocks the Trail


Originally uploaded by
Squid Rosenberg.

Little Butano Creek Trail, in Butano State Park, is an ideal hike for kids with autism or adhd, and toddlers. It is a 1.5 mile (3 miles return), easily followed trail with plenty for kids to look at (banana slugs, caves, shallow creeks, bridges, boardwalks). It is mostly flat, shady, and surrounded by my favorite kind of Redwood splendor. Leelo and Iz didn't complain or dally at all, and even 21-month old Mali did most of the hike.

We hiked Butano on Labor Day. It was the first totally free, and successful, family time we'd had in just about forever, as Leelo's schedule fractures every single one of our regular days. I am not complaining, because we so very appreciate his team's support--but we used to be spontaneous people, and it was nice to feel like a regular family. We had a fantastic time, kids included.

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Did I Mention That My Husband Got Laid Off Two Weeks Ago?

Did I Mention That My Husband Got Laid Off Two Weeks Ago?

Oh, that's right, I didn't.

Don't take it personally. It was a secret until he got that plump little severance check tucked into our anxious little checking account.

It had been a long time since he'd enjoyed his position as one of the head Widgeteers at the Widget Museum. He was doubly troubled when a new Grand High Widgeteer came in with a different vision for the place Seymour had loved and for which he'd labored these past twelve years. My partner was not taken entirely by surprise to discover that the new plans excluded him and many of his co-workers.

And now he is free to pursue more fulfilling positions. I think he would make a good llama herder, but sadly the pay is just not competitive when you consider the cost of living in the Bay Area. If you know anyone who needs a kick-arse IT Director/Web Producer to enliven your well-funded and staffed not-for-profit entity, then by all means drop me a line.

He has been cleaning the house a lot as a preemptive measure against me going bezerk and gnawing off his toes as punishment for being in the same house as me during most waking hours. Good technique, honey, it's working.

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Mali Prefers a Less Formal Relationship. And Being Awake.

Mali Prefers a Less Formal Relationship. And Being Awake.

Lately Mali has been walking up to me and declaring, "Hi, Squid!"

She also continues to be the incredible sleepless toddler. Today she was up at 8:00 after going to sleep at midnight the night before. She took an hour long nap before 2:00. At 9:00 I tried to nurse her down to sleep. No luck. Fed her a sandwich. Gave her some water. Changed a superfund-worthy diaper. Tried to nurse her down again at 10:00. No luck. Passed her off to Seymour, who is now driving her around in the hopes that the soothing sounds and feel of the car will tempt our darling little hellion off to the Land of Nod. Good luck, you two.

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Iz's Version of Fitting in

Iz's Version of Fitting in

Today is class picture day at Iz's school. She is dressed in a powder pink Juicy sweatsuit ensemble, which was a "gift from Santa" last Christmas, and which, because I was able to intervene somewhat, actually fits her rather than being skin-tight as it would have been had it been purchased in that company's version of her clothing size.

What keeps me from barfing at the sight of her outift is the fact that she chose to top it off with newly re-pigmented bright turquoise ponytails.

Just imagine how awesome she looks. That is how her third grade classmates will remember her for all eternity.

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9.14.2006

Stay Away, Go Back to Your Pond

Stay Away, Go Back to Your Pond

I have had it with narcissists. Just got off the phone after a fifteen minute conversation that my head ached too much to really hold, with someone whose only response to any statement or response by me was to turn it back around to this person's own life and how similar situations play out for him or her. This is how all conversations with this person go.

I have written about this before, and am frequently guilty of this irritating conversational mirroring myself, but for fuck's sake--right now I am really trying hard to be a better listener and wish that some people would consider listening as well. Is it competitiveness? Sometimes I think so, other times when I am in a more charitable mood (not today) I think it's an attempt to be empathetic. But mostly it is just really fucking annoying, especially when it is obvious that a person desires my presence only so they can talk at rather than with me. Get yourself a bobblehead doll, and leave me alone.

Plus I am very overwhelmed and sleep deprived, and feeling helpless about the world in general.

But, yay, Signora Blog came over this afternoon with her kids, which was busy but appreciated, and then Sage called to ask me out to coffee. Plus Bad Mom coffee was this morning, and even though I was the one who (as usual) talked too much, and even though Godmother Stacy was not there, Seymour was and he watched Mali most of the time so I could talk with my lovely friends.

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9.13.2006

Proud

Proud

When Iz got dressed for school this morning, guess what she chose to wear? Her Leelo shirt*. Knock me over with a chewy tube.

As much as my oldest drives me crazy, I do so love and admire that she has always been on Leelo's side, and had never tried to downplay or avoid him or his autism, even with her peers, even in a new school where she's still getting to know everyone.

"He is my brother, after all. Of course I'm his friend!"

*Sniff* I hope she always feels this way about Leelo, and continues to be a model of sibling patience--with special dispensation for losing her temper when he destroys her reading contest gift certificates.

*FYI, those "fitted womens" shirts are just all fucked up, from a sizing perspective. XL really means medium, and S really means GIRLS 7 - 8. Iz's shirt was Babysitter A's, until she washed it. And I noticed that Supervisor M's daughter Quintana came over the other day wearing what appeared to be her mom's Leelo shirt. That was Quintana's own choice, as well. Such lovely girls.

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9.11.2006

Funny, and Not

Funny, and Not

Mali likes to sit in the corner and recite to herself, "A rectangle says, 'Woof woof!' A square says, 'Meow!"

The Deadwood school district is apparently reneging on their offer to contract with Supervisor M for Leelo's home program. *Sigh.* I knew I shouldn't have asked for that pony on top of everything else.

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Here Are My Memories of 9/11

Here Are My Memories of 9/11

We spent the previous two days at Disneyland. How better to kiss off the fake technicolor cocoon we'd been living in. (No one who lives atop the faults slashing the strata beneath Los Angeles and The Bay Area--the two areas I've lived the longest--ever truly feels safe. But the roots of natural disasters are impersonal.)

Seymour, Iz (2.5 years), Leelo (10 months), and I were visiting Seymour's Tia Izobel near Fresno, on our way back from SoCal. I was grateful that we had to leave right after breakfast, and so had to spend most of the day driving. That way we didn't have to sit with spellbound and distraught relatives who couldn't help but watch the buildings explode over and over again. I didn't want Iz exposed to any of that, as she was already a sponge, and even so by the time we left was already concerned about "those buildings that fell down."

My mom and dad spent the day moving from their house of 27 years. They didn't even know what had happened until the evening.

My younger brother's sales job put him on flight 93 at least once per month. Not that day, thankfully. But we didn't know that for a few hours.

My middle brother the pilot was thankfully not flying that day. Although the aftermath of 9/11 has been that his career, like those of so many other pilots, needed a long time to recover from the airline industry aftershocks.

My oldest brother was working at The Pentagon. Not that part, thankfully. Which, again, it took a few hours to learn. (And you know that recent car bomb in Afghanistan? Three years ago he was driving down that street every single day.)

My cousin and his family got stuck trying to get back into the United States from Canada. Their car had been broken into, all their identification had been stolen, and all the backups had been on his company's server--in one of the Twin Towers.

We are lucky. We don't know anyone who was directly affected. We don't even know any families who lost love ones. Many people on the West Coast were in the same situation, and so 9/11 became an acceptable subject for small talk. But I remember sitting next to a woman who got asked "Where were you?" after eight weeks had passed, during a manicure. Her face crumpled, and she quietly answered that she'd been getting ready for her father to come visit her infant son, whom he'd not yet met. Her father had been on that Flight 93.

Iz Cracking Up

Iz Cracking Up

Oh my, it is easy to amuse a seven-year-old. Just point her to The Llama Song. You need provide no entertainment for the rest of the day. If your computer fails, you can just sing the song for her, since after even a single listen the tune will be stuck inside your head forever.

We can thank Floyd for that particular gift. The two girls and I were visiting him and TLF for new little Talia's baptism (I am her Godmother, which made this 100 % Secular Humanist, 93% Unitarian Universalist* very squirmy during the vows portion of the Catholic ceremony). After dinner, and while I was all distracted by the sweet cute snuggly infant in my arms, Floyd took Izzy upstairs and showed her the goofier side of the Internet. I believe evil strawberries and guinea pigs were viewed. Those two even snuck out on an Oreeos and french fry run.

TLF is one of those completely competent, confident, and beatific new moms. Lovely to see. I am so happy for her, and possibly for Floyd, too.

----

Iz and I have already had a talk about how her schedule is too full, and that it is bumming her out. Four busy afternoons on top of five school days is too much. Iz is willing to consider dropping aikido, but not piano. This insanity is one of the reasons I fought with the other Esperanza-to-Big Noggin parents about the kids' after school Spanish class taking up one day per week instead of two, but no one else would hear of it. I haven't met the teacher yet, but really do hope to find a way for Iz to cut her attendance in half. Maybe if one of the other students' heads explodes all over the whiteboard mid-verb conjugation, they'll start to listen to my concerns about over-scheduling. In the mean time I'd really like to get her down to only two busy afternoons per week.

I do love her school, though, and so does she. She declares as much, frequently. They're teaching them proofreading marks, for the love of The Chicago Manual of Style. I told Iz that if she memorizes those marks and learns how to use them properly, she can start her own proofreading business and make $50 per hour, right off the bat. I know college graduates who have no idea how to properly proofread and mark up a paragraph.

I'm not as excited about many of the parents. They are quick to frame concerns as proof that the questioning parent's child is inferior to theirs, or even that the parent is having difficulty understanding what they have so helpfully butted in to clarify. Except it often turns out that they weren't listening to the original query in the first place. Not everyone is like this, but many certainly deserve a good wedgie.

Iz is really trying to be a good student, even though she is so distractible that it is hard for her to buckle down and get the homework done without twenty interruptions and breaks. For the first time since she's had homework, she is excited by it, even if she's not as thrilled by the required effort and time commitment.

I haven't talked with all that many of the other kids, but on the surface they still don't strike me as being all that much like Iz. I guess it's because the ones I've met still talk like children. They don't use words like "destination," "embedded," or "dendrites" in their casual conversations, without emphasis. Even so, Iz is happy there, and feels like she is among friends. She didn't feel that way at Esperanza. That is all that matters.

More Izisms of the last two weeks:

She gets mad because I won't ever give her absolutes. But she always asks context-dependent questions!

"I'm worried that I'll adopt Valley Girl speak as a teenager."

"Mommy, do you think that learning about congruence made more dendrites in my brain connect?"

"No, we had to figure out which spelling words were homophones using context clues."

She schooled us about sharks, first of all that they don't get cancer and are the great white hope for a cure, secondly that they do not go into feeding frenzies. Seymour and I were arguing that yes indeed, sharks do do the frenzy when Iz pulled out a quote from her book about how "...sharks are actually very careful to avoid injuring themselves and others while feeding, and do not go into an indiscriminate frenzy as was once thought." Cue red faces for both of her parents.

*Yes, Thank you, SJ.

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Simply Busy

Simply Busy

That is all. Will try to post tonight. At this point, anyone who tries to sniff at my position as a "stay at home parent" will get my foot shoved so completely up their bottom that I'll be painting my toenails from between their teeth.

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9.08.2006

Tolerance

Tolerance

As mentioned below, I recently reviewed my last 21 months' worth of blog posts so as to compile a list of Mali's Milestones for the MYND Institute.

After the first sixty days' worth of reading, I started falling asleep and drooling all over the keyboard. Can you say, "recycled moaning"? I could post the same three or four parenting gripes every week, and few would notice. I also confused even myself with all the out-of-date cryptic allusions.

So, to anyone who is not a first-time visitor, thank you for your patience and tolerance. I'll try to make things less dull and more straightforward from now on.

9.06.2006

Help Now Please: Autism Family's House Burns Down

Help Now Please: Autism Family's House Burns Down

Lea Hernandez's house burned down last night. All the humans are safe, but many pets were lost and half of the house was destroyed.

Those of you who read Lea's blog know how cracklingly intelligent and searingly hilarious she is, and what a fierce mother bear she is for her two kids, including her wonderful "PDD-NOShit" Boy. We all know how hard it can be to manage the most humdrum days with our spectrum kids. Imagine her and her husband trying to juggle their regular stressors during one of the worst family crises imaginable.

Lea is a kick-ass author and artist who works from a home studio. The fire destroyed her means of livelihood. She needs to replace her supplies so that she can work so that she can support her family.

She has been very honest in asking for straight-ahead donations in lieu of shippable items. You can donate via PayPal using her email address: divalea@gmail.com.

Thank you.

----

P.S. Lea is in Texas. She is not local.


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9.05.2006

Mali at 21 Months: Well Documented

Mali at 21 Months: Well Documented




Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

I love her, but this is a funny-looking kid.

Our 21-month old girl is darling during the day, and maddening after 9 PM. If she has any kind of nap during the day, then she stays up until midnight. Skipping the nap works, and makes her go right to sleep at 8:30 PM, but that also means she can't be in the car after 11 AM, because she will drop off and even 10 minutes of napping will flip her reset switch, and then everyone's going to be attending a Mali Party until the wee hours.

Thankfully, she is still a delight. Her language has hit an explosion period not done justice by my haphazard recording skills. Here's a selection:
  • Thank You, Mama!
  • Good Morning, Marianne. (Or whomever. She remembers everyone).
  • Mali eat! Mali up! Mali All done!
  • Nurse more? Nurse again? Nursing all done! (Yes, I agree. Need to figure out a transition strategy.)
  • Mali want!
  • Want to watch Maisy, Mama.
  • Where's Izzy? There's Izzy!
  • Kiss? Kiss goodnight! Kiss goodnight, Izzy. Kiss goodnight, Leelo.
She also snuggles up into the hollow of my neck and then declares, "I love you, Mama!"

She enjoys declaring to the air around her that "M-A-L-I spells Mali!" Especially if she sees her name.

I've overheard a number of very long conversations with herself that I'm sure would be fascinating if I could interpret them.

We are also having lots of gleeful chases with much joyful squealing and squawking (on her part).

Last Monday I took all three kids to the zoo as Therapist L does Leelo's afternoons and she was on vacation for a month. Mali was totally gobsmacked upon finding out that giraffes and zebras are real. The entire afternoon was peppered with variations on "Hi Giraffe! Hi Zebra! How's it going?"

A very fun kid. But she doesn't need much sleep and we need to strategize how to prevent her energy from totally depleting ours.

Interesting to consider that she is two weeks younger than Izzy was when Leelo was born. I remember having so much fun with Iz, and also desperately wishing she would go to sleep early and on her own, at this stage.

---

If nothing else, this blog has proved useful for the MYND Institute folks. They asked me to list Mali's milestones for their Infant Siblings of Autistics study, and by going through my archives (yawn) I was able to pinpoint most of her deeds. As far as I can tell, she is Totally Normal. But I'm sure they'll let me know if I'm deluding myself:

1) Smiled - 5 weeks
2) Laughed - 3 months*
3) Said Da Da - 7 months*
4) Said Ma Ma - 6 months
5) Waved bye-bye - 8 months
6) Said her first word - 6 months
7) Grasped objects - 11 weeks
8) Rolled over - 5 months
9) Sat by self - 5 months
10) Crawled - 9 months
11) Pulled self up - 8 months
12) Stood by self - 9 months
13) Took a step - 13 months
14) Walked by self - 14 months
15) Held own bottle - n/a
16) Held own cup - 7 months*
17) Drank from cup - 5 months
18) Fed self - 5 months
19) Slept through the night - Birth!!!
20) 1st tooth - 6 months
21) Points - 9 months
22) Claps - 7 months (playing patty cake)
23) responds to name - 7.5 months, possibly earlier (at 7.5 months she stopped what she was doing and looked around when her name was called.)
24) Understands "no" - Did not record. Said "no" at 13 months.

*Don't remember, didn't record, had to ask Seymour


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9.03.2006

Post Party Poetry

Post Party Poetry

Seymour's birthday party of two weeks ago turned out wonderfully. The band was crazy-good, the food was spectacular, none of the two hundred (roughly) kids in attendance bit off each other's ears, the adults were also well behaved, and the only gifts given were libations. Oh, and Seymour seemed to have a good time, too!

I also discovered that if one decimates one's garage-adjacent mint forest to set up a self-serve mojito and mint julep bar, then one's friends are going to go nuts and drink themselves into sweet minty oblivion. More than six cans of club soda would be appropriate; a case might do the trick.

Many thanks to Ambah, Jenijen, and the latter's partner for staying to clean up; also to Ep and Clyde for providing cupcakes.

Here are the verses well-wishers composed for my man. I tried to get people to take the first verse and add on, but enthusiasm overcame continuity, and people came up with their own inimitable, self-contained selections.

**erm, Seymour made me take it down. Too embarrassing, he said.

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9.01.2006

No Lover of Loose Lips

No Lover of Loose Lips

What is your take on "Please don't ever tell anyone about this?"

I view such requests with a Klingon-style respect for honor: they are iron-clad verbal contracts. You ask me not to tell, I don't tell. Not anyone. Not even Seymour. Not unless I've asked your permission. And here is a good example why:

A good, nay, great friend recently miscarried. It was her "last chance" pregnancy as she and her partner are both a few clicks past 40, so she was a few clicks beyond devastated. I'm guessing.

I don't actually know, because I was never supposed to know about the miscarriage in the first place. The friend hadn't told me about the pregnancy, because (and here I guess again) she was still within the 12-week window where only the brave or ignorant publicize their gestational successes.

However, she did share her pain with another associate. Who felt she couldn't bear the news on her own and so had to confide in me. And now every time I talk to or correspond with our friend, all I can think of is her misfortune. I can't listen or read without wanting to reach out and offer comfort and empathy. Which I can't do. And which, if I may guess a third time, is most likely the mindset the friend wanted to avoid generating in the first place.

So, people, if someone tells you a secret, please file it away and then shut your fucking trap.

****

Tapping this in from Buck's, which to no one's surprise has free wireless.

****

Update: I don't give a shit about my own feelings in this case, only my friend's. I wish I could offer her comfort, is all.

It is as okay to ask for support after losing an undisclosed pregnancy as after any other personal tragedy; again, it's about a friend being in pain and needing support, not the confidante's right to know.

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Yes, BlogDay

Yes, BlogDay

At Badger's. Here are the sites I've been cruising so far:
And that's that. Too much life getting in the way of blogging right now. Hope to update later, perhaps this weekend.

*My assumption.

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