10.31.2007

Sneaky Little Shit

Sneaky Little Shit

Leelo has been doing so beautifully with the spontaneous and independent full-scale potty going. Clever boy! After a nice morning together getting coffee and going to the grocery store, I was in an optimistic mood. When we got home, I figured he could manage a trip down the hall to the bathroom while I sat at the other end, getting some work done. What I did not realize is that he decided I must accompany him to all potty sessions today, or else.

After about three minutes, he started yelling. Crap. I followed the sound. First I came across a neat pile of Leelo's clothes, nicely put to the side, and perfectly clean. Then I turned into the bathroom and saw -- shit everywhere. In the bathtub. On the floor. Smeared all over the toilet. Smeared all over Leelo. Gaaaah!

I must say, though, that if I got to choose a room for doing hazmat cleanup, it would be that bathroom. Nothing but smooth surfaces, a full bathtub, and two sources of running water. I was able to get the whole place sanitized in fifteen minutes, and we made it to the barber in time to get my boy's beautiful mop of curls shorn into something a little less Sandy Duncan-like. I spend the entire time looking into his face, helping him keep his head still so that the barber didn't accidentally give him a bald spot. He really is the most handsome boy in town.

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Gimme!

Gimme!

Just in case you're sitting around wondering what kinds of gifts women with the pseudonym Squid would like, here are two: Squid Soap (Thanks, TKH!) and Lea Hernandez's SQUID! BLOG! TEMPLATE!

10.30.2007

'Snot Halloween Without Mucus and Boils!

'Snot Halloween Without Mucus and Boils!

One of my favoritist bloggers in the multiverse, SJ of I, Asshole, is the force behind today's Can I Sit With You Story. Lucky us!

Even though today is the last day of October (the day by which we said we needed everyone's submissions), Jennyalice and I have decided to go on publishing stories. We'll probably move to a once- or twice-weekly format. So if you were thinking about sending something in but didn't, do.

Had a rather surreal day today. Bulleted version:
  • Mali went to school in a pale pepto-pink frosty glittery velvet tracksuit. She has never had anything like that on her body before in her life ever. All I can say is that it was deeply on sale, and that in my browser it appeared to be darker pink terry cloth.
  • Talked to Ep about her attempts to teach Picasso-style art projects to gradeschoolers, without a net.
  • Met with private bankers. Still not sure why we get to meet with private bankers. But they make instant bill paying happen through verbal requests. Welcome yet weird.
  • Got called to get Leelo early from school. Apparently if your kids is reported as having diarrhea (which only manifested in the classroom; at home his BMs have had cohesion) they have to stay home for a minimum of 24 hours. Imagine!
  • Went to grocery store to buy Sangiovese as directed by Signora Blog.
  • Stopped by Jennyalice's with both smaller kids, got to see Jake too and really enjoy the beautiful view from her living room. Realized that I am very bad at interacting with other peoples' kids. Maybe this is why I scored as "Likely Aspie" due to my elevated social blindness tally on the Aspie Quiz?
  • Watched with jaw on ground as new dining room set ordered as gift by Seymour's incredibly generous parents arrived and was placed in its very own room. At this point, if you look in certain parts of our house, you might suspect that real grown ups live here and are hiding in one of the closets, waiting for you to leave so that they can discuss window treatments (retching noises) in peace.
  • Fretted about my brother Chet, who is currently off doing official things in Islamabad.
  • Watched Iz and Violet read, giggle, and gasp over Can I Sit With You stories. So far Iz likes Khaki best.
  • Drove Violet home; Mali fell asleep on way and was effectively down for the night at 7 PM. SCORE!
  • Cooked dinner featuring ragu sauce made by Signora Blog ("Italians do NOT eat meatballs!") and accompanied by the aforementioned wine, as specifically directed by her precise written ragu directions.
  • Rocked through a 5.6 earthquake that shook all our windows and rattled all our glasses. Iz's face lit up; it was the first earthquake she'd ever felt. Thankfully it was minor. Took us a few beats for us to remember to run for the doorways, and collect all the kids in doing so.
  • The entire family joined Leelo in his favorite sing-and-imitate game, in which he scatted and those of us who were awake had to imitate. Really fun. He had us going for almost ten minutes.
  • Watched Leelo do several spontaneous, successful, and independent BM potty runs.
  • Pinned fake leaves all over a headband and a green shirt so that Iz can be a "Cat up a Tree" for Halloween.
  • Helped Iz print out summary/description for her California Desert diorama. Obviously I am biased, but I am so pleased by how well and fluidly she writes. And that she uses perfect punctuation plus words like "wondrous."
  • Felt like chewing off my fingers, one by one, as Leelo remained active and awake until almost 11 PM (mostly on Seymour's watch, but entirely within earshot as I was trying to work).
I am so, so, so tired right now. Tomorrow is Halloween. Leelo will likely be home all day with me. The following day I'm taking him and his sisters and Iz's friend Emma to the Aquarium, seeing as the girls have the day off and I never ever do anything fun with my kids. Friday the girls have off too, but it's Leelo's long school day so he gets to be educated while I take the girls to the zoo and/or lunch with their dad. The next day is Leelo's birthday party. Need to get a rest in there some time, trying to figure out how to make it happen. This having children thing, it is problematic for a grouchy introvert who needs lots of social-withdrawal time for recharging.

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10.29.2007

A Story About Having A Special Needs Sibling

A Story About Having A Special Needs Sibling

Today's Can I Sit With You story, The Real Meaning of Might, is our first to deal with the social implications of having a special needs sibling.

It's also our second story in a row in which injustice gets squashed by righteousness. Not that we're not loving all the angst...

Very busy weekend. Very busy.

Very busy weekend. Very busy.

Seymour's parents stayed with us this weekend. We all had a lovely time. Amazing what a difference having a larger house makes in terms of guests feeling comfortable while being able to both track and keep a safe distance from the cute, snuggly, unpredictable boy who lives here. (They did make special efforts to interact and play with Leelo, too.) Seymour's dad even watched all three kids for a while; his mom was very brave with Leelo (he has pushed her before) and spent a lot of time playing Ring Around the Rosie with Mali.

They were here to watch Iz on stage as a fairy in The Tempest (her school's production). Iz was cute and iridescent and even hit her marks occasionally. I spent the first half of the play freaking, thinking that my hearing was officially going, but at intermission everyone remarked on how they couldn't understand a damn thing. *Whew* Though I did forget to take my own advice of having a stiff drink before the lights went down (Elementary school + Shakespeare? Yikes).

Seymour's folks were a bit concerned over how "empty" our house is with respect to furniture. Although I know it appears somewhat spare, I don't mind because I have no sense of composition, plus to me big + empty = not cluttered + soothing. But because they are kind and generous and actually understand decorating, they gave us a lot of good advice on creating a more homey and less monastic environment. They also provided truly wonderful wines, all of which were dispatched. I can get along with almost anyone after a glass or two of wine, but am so happy that we were all able to relax enough to enjoy each other's company. Again, an honestly lovely time was had.

With my in-laws. My children were another matter. Leelo was the best boy ever yesterday; he tolerated breakfast with the other six of us, and then complied nicely and with no acting out while we went through three different furniture stores. (I don't think I would have been so well behaved at that age.) Too bad it made him so stressed that he had not one but two shit storms during the night. It's turned-back-around jammies for the indefinite future for our boy. I so love the "sanitary" cycle on our washer! And of course Mali refused to sleep until almost midnight, whereas tonight it was Iz who couldn't go to bed before 10:30 PM.

Had better go to bed. Tomorrow is Mali's Day (her turn for the Leelo's Day-style photo shoot from four years ago) and I'm not really ready at all. Perhaps I should have done something about my inch-long dark roots, or made certain clean clothes will be available, etc. Then again, it might be nice to get our real reality documented.

Keep nodding off as I write. To bed.

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10.28.2007

Inspiring

Inspiring

Today's Can I Sit With You story, Fish Face, is a truly inspirational tale from elswhere. Spread the news! And links! And comments!

I am still so amazed by and grateful for the instant support and considerable effort everyone has put into Can I Sit With You. We have more than met our goal of recruiting daily stories for the month of October, and even have a healthy backlog. We definitely have enough stories for the book. All of this in less than a month. I am truly in love with everyone today.

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10.25.2007

Mali: Look, She's Cute!

Mali: Look, She's Cute!

We Have Pigtails

I love puffy pom-pom pigtails on a tiny girl, don't you? Unless she's still up at 10 PM, which happens with alarming frequency even though she is simultaneously losing her afternoon nap:



In my office somewhere is a scribbled piece of paper listing all the amazing wonderful things Mali's been doing lately. But I can't find it. Here are some excerpts that I can actually remember:
I don't smell like poo-poo! I smell like Strawberries! (Said while sitting atop obvious and malodorous funk.)

Look! It's Daddy and Mali's bed! (Said upon entering the room containing her parents' bed, from which she has only recently been bounced.)
She makes me laugh and gawk and wonder where she came from, mostly because she intuitively knows how things work in ways that this intuition-challenged parent never quite figured out. At Godmother Stacy's girls' birthday party, she picked up a birthday hat and put it on herself, with no fumbling. Then she took the paper off of a cupcake, methodically and cleanly, before eating it. I still can't do that without making a mess.

She says Thank You and You're Welcome appropriately and spontaneously. This I truly appreciate.

More gawking in wonderment: She and Iz are actually starting to bicker. Sibling bickering! Of the "Mommy! Izzy took my blanket and it's MY turn!" variety. Love it.

---

Seymour's parents are coming to stay with us tomorrow. I just realized that, due to Iz's being on stage tomorrow night while Seymour works back stage, said in laws will be trapped in our house with just me, Mali, and Leelo for a few hours. And my mother-in-law is really really nervous around Leelo, whereas he is unpredictable around guests. I have been calling around for a babysitter, but no luck. Ah well. It's not a situation that can't be helped by little bit of my mother-in-law's beloved Chardonnay.

---

And, hey! Though I slept with a barf bowl next to my bed last night, and despite my pipes gurgling ominously and loudly (according to Seymour) all night long, I did not succumb to this dual-ended splatterhose illness. I'm either very strong and healthy or extraordinarily fortunate.

10.24.2007

Barf, Sigh, Booty

Barf, Sigh, Booty

I doubt my fastidious handwashing will keep me immune from this GI bug that has been plaguing my family for the past nine days, seeing as Mali barfed all over my face in the middle of the night. Sigh.

As least Leelo's going to school today. Yeah! First time in five days. The jubilation is not just getting him out of my hair for a couple of hours (have you ever had to watch an autistic kid? Leelo is sweet and fun, but having him home means unrelenting surveillance and nothing else getting done in a house with triple the usual amount of laundry) but because he really, truly loves his school and is thriving there.

Also, Veggie Booty is back on the shelves! Praise the gods of spinach and kale and vegetable matter that my son will never ingest any other way!

10.23.2007

Zyax

Zyax

Our very own Badger wrote today's Can I Sit With You story, The Sex Change of Zyax II. Yet another fantastic read. Don't forget to comment!

Are any of you reading these stories to your kids, or letting your kids read them? Iz reads the site every day, and adores it.

She is at school today. So is Mali, although I'm not entirely sure she's 100% better. Still, she's been symptom-free for 24 hours (her school's yardstick), and she was insistent on going this morning: "My tummy does NOT hurt. I am not going to barf today. I barfed on the stairs already."

Leelo is home, still, because he barfed again last night. It's not clear to me if that was due to eating too quickly or to lingering ick, but I'm not risking putting him on a bus for thirty minutes until he's really, really better. Which will be tomorrow.

I am taking him to the doctor this morning to check for ear infections seeing as we have this rare free morning together. Although last night when he was pounding on his head and pointing at a very specific spot on his noggin, and I told him, "Don't worry, Leelo, I"ll take you to the doctor tomorrow," he said, "No see Dr. M_____!" Good language, worrisome lead up to this morning's appointment.

Seymour is still pretty much dead to the world. Or at least dead to the other people in this house, as his laptop is missing from the kitchen table, which means he is most likely and feebly attempting to work.

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10.22.2007

Coolest Cephalopod T-Shirt Ever

Coolest Cephalopod T-Shirt Ever

Coolest Cephalopod Shirt Ever

A gift from the skeptical but generous heart of Badger.

10.21.2007

Another One Down

Another One Down

Now Mali is sick, too. Barfs and squirts. Google says it's viral gastroenteritis, which means that I apologize to any of the five thousand people I socialized with this weekend if they come down with said barfs and squirts, and that I may just have to keep the six dozen chocolate chip cookies that Iz and her friend Olive baked as snacks for the rest of the cast in their schools production of The Tempest (the girls are dancing, singing fairies).

Probably the best part of this entire barf/poo week happened this afternoon, when Leelo projectile vomited all over our kitten Shia. Poor thing, all she was doing was waiting expectantly next to Leelo's bar stool, hoping for some crumbs from his PB&J sandwich.

Please do go read today's Can I Sit With You story; it is particularly compelling.

Okay, FINE.

Okay, FINE.

Jennyalice said I had to post a Can I Sit With You story. Yes, I am a total sucker for peer pressure.

10.20.2007

Scat!

Scat!

Oh, man, we've had a pooful week.

Seymour's been away most of the week mountain biking and work-retreating, with my blessings. I don't really mind being at home with my trio, but had to admit that my brain blew a few circuits on the 17th, when Leelo had his first bedtime shitstorm in years (complete with Rothko-esque treatment of the textured walls I already thought were nasty), Mali stayed up until midnight, I worked until 1 AM, and then poor Iz had the involuntary squirts from 2 to 4 AM.

But still, when I woke up, I was able to laugh at it all. Especially after Seymour got home at 6:30 and Jennyalice took me out and got me so drunk that I had to leave my car downtown (Sage drove us home; DoubleTrouble and Licia kept us company but didn't drink nearly so much. Note to self: pitchers are bad if you need to track your alcohol consumption).

Then yesterday, Mali went into the living room, sat down on the newly-shampooed, still damp rug (Seymour's folks are coming to see our "new house" on Friday), put her hand down the back of her pants, and pulled out a wad to smear all over the ground. WTF?

Now Leelo's got a bug. He was up all night barfing and pooing (Seymour got that shift, poor guy) and may do so again tonight.

I am sick of poo! I declare a poo moratorium, and will be distributing corks shortly. Let me know if you need any.

10.19.2007

Acorns, Revisited

Acorns, Revisited

Remember how we made acorn pancakes on October 7th? So does Godfather M. Unlike me, he was thoughtful enough to include a recipe. He also accidentally used "leeching" for "leaching" several times, which means he's in serious trouble: I threatened to shoot him the next time he posted without letting me proof read first. Though it is possible that one needs to be wary around acorns, lest they come over and refuse to leave until they've drunk all your beer without offering to replace it.

10.17.2007

Can I *Sniff* Sit With You?

Can I *Sniff* Sit With You?

Apparently there are people who find our Can I Sit With You? project distressing and full of unbearable pathos. Let me reassure you that our goal is not to rip off old scabs, or to start your day with a dose of despair. No no no.

We're providing real-world examples from the perplexing social world of the school yard, so that kids who are dealing with these issues can be inspired to try something new, horrified that someone else had it so much worse off, or comforted by solidarity. Those of you who have been keeping up know that the angst is peppered with humor and grace.

And it's only going to get better as some of our most powerful stories debut over the next two weeks. We'll cover racism, sexual orientation, religious prejudice, idiopathic dickheadedness, and pernicious cluelessness. Stop by weekdaily, and please do spread the word.

I Love Raising a Unitarian Child in the Bay Area

I Love Raising a Unitarian Child in the Bay Area

We were hanging out in our church lobby, awaiting our turn to attempt a family portrait for the church's new directory.
Iz: "Mommy, that lady's voice is really deep. Why do you think that is?"

Me: "That's Thomasina. He's exploring cross-dressing."

Iz, knowingly: "Ooooh. Okay."

Speaking of cross-dressing, Mali is garbed almost exclusively in Leelo's hand-me-downs these days, because as Iz is almost six years older, and Mali was unexpected, Leelo gear is what we've got. But after a visit from her cute little girly-girl cousins, I realize that I am frittering away my last opportunity to dress a baby girl in froth! To the store!

10.15.2007

Can I Just Say

Can I Just Say

That my in-laws came back, swept up Mali and Kylie, and took off for the afternoon. Who wouldn't want relatives like that? They even make their beds! They buy us beer! They cook and clean (including kids) without even being asked! (Can't remember the last time I made my bed.)

Poor Iz is still barfing ("Mommy, I wish I was still barfing up food. It tastes a lot better than barfing up bile.") but happy to be lying on the couch with a full afternoon's worth of the usually forbidden Disney Channel ahead of her. Leelo won't be home for another hour. I just got thirty minutes of work under my belt and feel ever so much better. It really doesn't take much for me to recharge.

Forgot to write that I got Leelo an oversized tricycle yesterday, so that he could race around the back deck just like his big sister does on her bike, and which he so obviously wanted to do, too. I honestly have never seen him smile and giggle with such honest delight as when he hopped on that tricycle and realized it was for him! I need to adjust the handle bars and seat to the perfect positions for him, but, wow. Can't wait to take him and Iz to the mile-long circle track at Holbr00k-Pa1mer park.

Oh Happy Monday...

Oh Happy Monday...

...in which Leelo goes back to school. And the girls, too, sort of.

My in-laws, who are staying with us for the weekend, are off in The City at an appointment. Iz is sleeping off a early-school-morning barf on the couch, my niece Kylie is chirpily keeping her company. I am hiding in my office sneaking my first break since Friday's lovely birthday lunch with Jenijen, trying to process the 72 hours between now and that meal. What was the best part?

Was it the rain shutting down the car wash on my birthday, so that I couldn't get my nasty scummy car detailed as a present to myself, with the side benefit of being mortified when my fastidious in-laws arrived?

Was it the restaurant calling three hours before my birthday dinner to say that no, they couldn't increase the size of our party because it was raining and so their patio was not usable, and I would have to cancel my reservation? For ten?

Was it the babysitters arriving thirty minutes late to release me for said dinner, giving me--the first person of five to receive taxi service from our magnificent, SWAT-hat bedecked designated driver Sage--such an intense case of anxious stomach that I arrived at the dinner without an appetite?

Was it realizing that MB was waiting for us at the other restaurant because her email address was at odds with the Evite and so in my panic I forgot to mentally add her to the dinner relocation list?

Was it Seymour's not having enough time to make our destroyed kitchen birthday-present clean while I was that dinner (before he left on a three-day mountain biking trip), due to the babysitters' assuming that his coming home from work meant they could leave rather than asking him if he still needed them?

Was it waking up the next morning after getting to sleep in until 7:30 and seeing that the kitchen still wasn't clean, that Seymour needed to pack and leave, even though Seymour's brother's family were coming to stay with us later in the day?

Was it getting the house almost ready for our guests, and then finding at 9 PM that one of the cats had peed on the center of the aerobed Iz is still sleeping on, and which she was to share with her cousins? Effectively destroying said bed?

Was it Leelo deciding that this was the weekend he for seeing how quickly and frequently he can hit Mali and make her cry?

Was it my brother-in-law secretly and so kindly taking my car in for a detail job after hearing me moan about the closed car wash, and having the car wash people manually wrest open and so break the automatic, remote-controlled car doors that make my life that much easier when Leelo and Mali are screaming and Leelo is hitting and I just need to get them into the car now now now? (This one made me cry, BTW. The car doors are really difficult to open manually, and I'm worried that they'll be an expensive fix.)

Was it Leelo getting up at 6 AM while Mali still refuses to sleep until I do (1 AM Sat. night, midnight last night) and having no down time for even ten minutes to read or do anything that wasn't work and even then only 20 minutes, begged from my in-laws? (Whom I adore and who are more pleasant and helpful than you would believe, but still, guests mean work).

Was it Leelo being so overwhelmed by the chaos of the weekend that he had two poo accidents?

Was it forgetting that I said I'd take Kylie for the day today, meaning that I still wouldn't get any alone time at all? To get work done? Or perhaps watch ten minutes of stupid Smallville? I need down time, people! Some of you don't, but for me no breaks from people or responsibilities is as debilitating as not eating for two days or drinking continuously for that same period.

Was it getting a call while dropping Mali off at school this morning to come pick up Iz after she barfed all over her locker? Meaning that my coffee window of opportunity between dropping off Mali and getting Leelo home to meet his bus was slammed shut?

Was it having said girl step into the car and then barf yesterday's dim sum and seaweed salad all an interior that had been detailed only twelve hours before?

I don't know which part was the best. But I do know that I felt a huge and guilt-ridden surge of relief when I put Leelo on the bus this morning, and realized that, whatever else had happened this weekend, the biggest stressor was having to tend Leelo while he was being himself (i.e., mostly sweet but occasionally violent and certainly needing most of my attention), with all the extra crap listed above, but without Seymour and yet with house guests. I will be very grateful when Seymour is back tonight. Even though he'll be leaving for a retreat tomorrow morning.

Anyhow. I feel better now. Thanks, Blogosphere!

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10.14.2007

Happy IEP to Me

Happy IEP to Me

Really, what better birthday present for a special needs mom like me than an IEP which lasts less than an hour, in which the appropriateness of my child's placement is not only confirmed but emphasized, in which all OT and speech services are approved without incident, and in which everyone at the meeting is pleasant?

(You don't need to answer that question, because I can answer it for you: an even better present was having nine of my friends agree to go out and get pleasantly sauced with me.)

The IEP was formal evidence of what Supervisor M and I already know: that Leelo's school is the right place for him to be. His staff is highly trained and experienced. Everyone in his classroom loves him. They understand him. He loves being there.

It only took them about a week to "get" Leelo his quirks and behaviors and needs, and help him feel comfortable enough that he could use the classroom as a learning environment. He never really reached that "learning" point in any of his previous educational settings; everyone always seemed to be at battle stations rather than at desks or in chairs.

Here is he is with Iz on his first day of school. Maybe he could tell that his year was going to start out well.

Leelo's First Day of School!

Everything is not totally golden; while his classroom staff is amazing, the class does not have a permanent teacher. We're even on our second short-term sub, as that position is legally limited to twenty days or fewer. It is unlikely that his class will have a permanent teacher or long-term sub before December or January.

But both subs have been talented, have been veterans who grokked Leelo almost on sight. (The first one even greeted him with a box of straws on his second day of school.) That first sub thinks Leelo will most likely be able to transition to an integrated campus, because he is so genuinely social and really is capable of learning in the proper environment. Nice to hear, as right now in this most severe of schools, he is one of only two children in his class requiring a full 1:1 aide (this is due to the intensity and structure of his program in order to meet/track his IEP goals, to manage his behavior plan, and to help him learn to occupy himself without full-time supervision for more than a couple of minutes). But I think it will happen. Happy happy indeed.


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10.11.2007

Fair Trade

Fair Trade

Our Can I Sit With You? project is just so damn cool. And attracting such damn cool writers! Not so many comments, though, even though people keep approaching me to tell me how kicky the stories are.

So, I'm asking for your help. If you plug CISWY on your blog and/or leave a comment, I will go plug/comment on the blog of your choice. And this is big, because I don't comment much at all except within in a very small circle of blogs by writers I personally know. Come on, the kids are depending on you!

Thanks,

10.09.2007

Dewy Eyed

Dewy Eyed

Yesterday I experienced one of those truly precious, total connection Leelo moments. Though rare, these interludes seem to be on the increase.

Leelo was siting at the kitchen counter, looking like he needed something to do. I handed him a toy and said, "Leelo, this is Dewy."

Leelo grabbed Dewy, gave Dewy a huge smile, gave me another huge smile, looked me right in the eye, and said -- totally naturalistically and like any other happy little boy -- "I *like* Dewy!"

(Does this mean it was a good thing for Mali to ransack the local gaming store so quickly and thoroughly that the owner gave her Dewy in a desperate attempt to distract her?)

Leelo is starting to do a lot of pretend play. I keep seeing him making his Catbus *be* a Catbus, and keep catching him pushing Mali's stroller around the back yard. Maybe we should get him one of those pretend shopping carts? His seventh birthday is exactly one month away, and we already have a pretend store full of pretend food...

Seymour and I are both so pleased and amazed by Leelo's potty training progress, especially since I never let myself believe that a potty trained boy was a guarantee. When Leelo started to poop in the toilet, I thought we would be sitting in the bathroom with him, reading books and trawling YouTube, indefinitely; he hasn't needed that kind of encouragement for weeks. (Supervisor M is really proud of our boy, too; she said this phase of potty training often takes a lot longer with ASD kids.)

Now we tell Leelo when it's time to go to the potty, and he goes. Sometimes I have to sing and skip across the living room and down the hall with him, sometimes he gets mad and hits me first, but sometimes he runs up the stairs on his own and does the deed from start to finish -- including wiping -- himself. Amazing.

Since we still spend a lot of time in the bathroom with him, I must write that it's both amusing and convenient to watch him bend double and crane his neck to watch the poo come out.

Our next goal is to get him to stop with the compulsive flushing. (This is a really bad habit for a boy who lives in dry, dry California.) He has abused the flush handle so thoroughly that the flapper is all tweaked and doesn't always seal the tank, and then we keep losing even more water. (I try not to think of Dune at times like this.) But I think the flush-o-rama will be manageable, eventually.

I am in a good mood. Even though Leelo got excited and peed on a freshly-made bed this afternoon (he was playing "Leelo's hiding" with Therapist L and got over excited), even though one of the kids managed to clog the downstairs toilet and completely flood the bathroom while I was the only adult in a house containing five children, even though my handy-dandy pee-finder light revealed not only the current source of living room stench but an entire spiral galaxy of cat pee spots, even though I am having a really hard time trying to figure out how to get enough sleep, my boy is doing well. That makes me happy.

Before I sign off, two things:

1) Check out this boy who is not Leelo! In looks, they are separated at birth! TRIP!

2) Notes from Leelo's daily record; check out especially the observations on his language emailed to me by friends.

POTTY TRAINING

Said "No cleaning, no cleaning" when we were in the car. We asked him what he wanted to clean, he said, "your bottom." Turned out he needed to poop and wasn't happy about having to hold it--but he did! He made it! Two poops in his pants at school, but I think they misunderstood how his BMs go. Lots of wiping his own bottom, too--not perfectly, but very ably.

LANGUAGE/BEHAVIOR

(From Ep) During party tapped Seymour on the shoulder and said, "Dad! I want juice!"

When I was singing a good night song to him, he got mad and hit me; but then he said, "I want you to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!" (out of NOWHERE; we haven't sung that song since Xmas '06). Then he was happy. Also was asking me about another song; if I could have understood what song he was trying to sing it would have been a real conversation. His usual nonsense call-and-response words were real words tonight, all perhaps things he heard on the playground?: "Whoa" "Watch out" "Look out, AH!" "It's okay"

(From Signora Blog) I heard him make appropriate requests about juice, straws and whatever he wanted. He went to Black Dog and asked for more straws ("please") looking him right in the eyes, and then he asked for juice, Black Dog was unsure if it was ok to give him juice (Seymour had mentioned that Leelo already had 4) so he told Leelo that they needed to go and ask "dad." Leelo patiently complied, no hitting, no frustration and went with Black Dog to talk to Seymour).

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10.08.2007

I Am Not Jenny McCarthy

I Am Not Jenny McCarthy

(I've received lots of queries on this topic, as all you other autism parents can imagine.)

I am not Jenny McCarthy. For one thing, my boobs are bigger.

Not to discount her hard work in any way, but Ms. McCarthy won the Autism Lottery. She, like Catherine Maurice, Christina Adams, Karyn Seroussi, and Amy Lansky, happened to have a child who quickly responded to treatment and/or ABA Therapy. I am truly happy for Ms. McCarthy and her son, but her experience is not the experience of most autism families.

We pursued the same diet and supplement therapies she did, with the same ferocity, as did (and do) many parents I know. And I would do it all over again, as no one yet knows how to predict which children will respond to what, so trial-and-error is really all we autism parents have. But since Leelo's results haven't been so spectacular, we don't have the kind of story the Instant Fix-loving American public craves. My son's progress has been remarkable, cherished, and celebrated, but it has also been incremental and gradual. I have no miracles to shill. I bitch and blog instead.

To those of you who haven't had Ms. McCarthy's "recovery" luck (about which well-meaning friends and relatives are probably calling daily), I once again recommend Susan Senator's beautiful book Making Peace with Autism. I also send you love, hope, and bottomless empathy.

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10.07.2007

Acorn

Acorn

We had acorn pancakes this morning. With valley oak acorns from our yard. The acorns were collected, boiled, leached, and ground by Iz and Seymour. Cooked by Godfather M. Eaten with sweet butter and local deep dark mountain honey. They were absolutely, unbelievably delicious; like chestnut pancakes but sweeter and earthier.

Success with found, free food always helps ease my secret survivalist fears.

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Can You Hear Me Squee!?

Can You Hear Me Squee!?

One of my favoritist people -- professional comix artist, rabblerouser, and fellow spectrum mom Lea Hernandez -- is not only going to contribute to Can I Sit With You, but she's going to donate the book cover, too! This kind of generosity and ass-kicking in the name of special needs kids who aren't even hers makes me all sniffly with glee.

We have more CISWY writings promised from some of your favorite bloggers, but since they've not publically announced their intentions, I can't yet crow about them. Yet. But keep your eyes peeled.

10.06.2007

Three Wishes

Three Wishes

Yesterday I fulfilled a parenting fantasy I'd had since I was eleven years old: Watching Raider of the Lost Ark with my daughter. And Iz loved it! She didn't even mind that I covered her eyes during any mummy/impalement/melting & exploding heads scenes. I am now suffused with the glow of long-held wish fructification.

Raiders was one of my favorite movies, ever. (Which means that I've probably written about it before in this space. I'm not sure; I used to be a very chatty chatty blogger back when this journal held a bigger therapeutic role and I only had two children, so the archives slogging and purging is slow going.) Anyhow. It played at our local theater, the Cineramadome, for 52 weeks. I probably saw it ten times in the theater, two consecutive viewings at a time. All those years later, it still holds up nicely although a bit simplisticallly and nonsensically.

Tomorrow we are going to make another wish come true by going to see Annie Get Your Gun, live, on stage. I only wish my dad was here to go, too; I got my love of musicals from him, and we saw several a year. But we are going with the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic Godfather M (who is newly returned from Greece, where he for some reason did not attempt to photo-recreate any scenes from Asterix at the Olympic Games).

In January a third parenting wish will come true when Iz and I use the power of our passports to travel to a location outside of North America. Can you guess where we're going? All I will say is that the country is in another hemisphere entirely, and that it's a reinstated kingdom. EEEEEEP!

10.04.2007

Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade

FDOS #2

Here are our wonderful girls on the first day of school/last Monday of August. Mali is in preschool. Iz is now in fourth grade. And she has let me know that her new status should entitle her to two very important things: a locker shelf, and a training bra. Huh?

Two of her best friends recently went shopping for training bras. They did not invite Iz to go with them, and she is both hurt and jealous. I told her not to worry, that training bras serve no purpose, that the undergarment industry created them as a way to make to make wads of cash off tween girls' desperate fascination with all things pubescent, and that if she is anything like her mom, she won't need a bra for at least five years anyhow. Though she gets the anti-marketing/uselessness argument, she is not impervious to peer pressure, and so is wistful.

Next best thing: I got her a copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which she read four times over the weekend and has since loaned to one of the bra girls. I also got her a copy of It's Perfectly Normal as I approve of its frank, mellow discussion and of puberty, and the friendly drawings that accompany the text (my favorite is the pelvic "X-ray" showing the differing locations of in-use tampons and pads). However, it discusses sex and having sex as well, so Seymour suggested that we read it with her instead of merely handing it to her.

I was hoping all this puberty talk wouldn't happen until later on in the school year-- not because I'm bothered by it, but because it means that Iz is gravitating away from little girlhood. But now that it's starting to come up, it's important that she has access to information and feels comfortable asking questions.

Iz has spent a lot of the first month of fourth grade being grumpy for some other reasons, too, and I don't blame her. Both of her best friends are spending a lot of time with other best friends, not for any malicious reasons but because that's just what happens sometimes. Iz is spending a lot of time by herself during class breaks.

Not that she gets to spend all that much time at lunch or recess, because she keeps forgetting to bring in her homework and so her teacher frequently has her spend both recess and lunch inside. Even though she does need a lot of encouragement to keep herself organized, I think this is draconian. Seymour thinks it is fitting.

Iz also made a political bid: she and her friend Violet ran for School Activities commissioners. They ran their campaign almost completely without parental assistance (I am letting my daughter rely on her own initiative whenever possible), and made all their own posters.

They didn't win, but this didn't stop Iz from getting on student council; she noticed that no one ran for the Green Community position, and so talked her way into being appointed. I hope they don't expect too much of her; she's much more fond of titles and positions than she is of actual responsibilities. I say that lovingly; she is brilliant, but very very scattered. Although not as scattered and out-of-touch as her mom was at the same age. But that's a story for another day.

10.03.2007

Squee! And, Ew.

Squee! And, Ew.

(I can never write Squee! without thinking of Lea Hernandez.)

Our Can I Sit With You? project is starting to lure in some fantastic, heart-wrenching submissions. But this also means that you'll want to get your stories in ASAP so that they don't get lost in the submissions shuffle.

Speaking of heart-wrenching, have you see Dove's latest Self Esteem Fund campaign video? I'll be sitting Iz down for this one tonight. (Via Broadsheet.)

10.02.2007

Thump Thump Thump

Thump Thump Thump

I don't think I'll ever get used to Leelo thumping on me. I am amazed by how frequently his blows really hurt, compared to how infrequently they leave marks. Particularly painful are the open-handed whacks to the nose, and the repeated skull-rams to the lower spine. This knowledge makes me wonder how many imperceptibly abused people I encounter every day. Not a cheery thought.

Sometimes, though, Leelo grabs my arms and either gives them a nice long gouge, or a twist/pinch which leaves tiny scabs and scars around the insides of my elbow. The latter technique makes me look like a really inept junkie who doesn't know where her veins are, or like I've gotten used to living in with a really bad flea infestation. Lovely, eh?

Leelo had actually been really mellow for several weeks until yesterday, when he flew at me while we doing our usual waiting in line at the local coffee shop. He took me out with such force and surprise that I burst into tears, grabbed his hand, and fled the place *without my coffee*. Thankfully my dear darling partner showed up at the shop afterwards, heard from the owner that I had left without my drink, picked his jaw up off the ground, and came all the way home to bring me a double latte so that I could face the day properly caffeinated.

Today there was a lot of me yelling that "Hitting Mommy is all done!," but there was also some really concrete evidence that Leelo is getting a cold and probably has a lot of sinus pain. That explains everything. Poor boy. Poor mommy, poor anyone else who lets down their guard around him until he gets better.

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I forgot to mention that Leelo had his first-ever poop in a school potty yesterday. I forgot to mention that Seymour got Mali to sleep in her own damn bed (even if it is in our room) last night. In fact, I haven't even gotten around to the "new school year routine" entries for this year. Will try to write them out this week.

One final, pleasing thought for the night: Iz has resumed individual sessions with Maestra L, the Spanish tutor who helped her catch up when she entered Esperanza dual immersion school in first grade rather than in kinder like all the other kids. Maestra L says our girl's still got it; that she's retained almost all of her Spanish, and acquires more at light speed. Nice to hear.

But even more pleasing were Maestra L's comments on Leelo. She hadn't seen him for two-and-a-half years; she says the difference in him, in his attentiveness, lack of hyperactivity, and language, is absolutely remarkable. She says he's not even the same boy. What a wonderful way to shake off my recent fears about his progress! And the fact that she could say that on a crappy behavioral day like today. Guess I'll have to go find something else to be depressed about, damn it all.

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Smooshy

Smooshy

If you're from Seattle, the first part of this post will be met with a big "Well, DUH," so feel free to skip ahead.

For the rest of you -- especially those of you parent or care for children susceptible to the toxic syrup-and-air musical stylings of Hannah M0ntana and her ilk -- may I suggest to you what Seymour suggested to me, which is to introduce the group Smoosh to your household.

The youngest Smoosh sister was barely older than Iz when they released their first album; two years later the oldest sister is still too young for her learner's permit. Very inspiring to Iz, and thankfully it's the kind of music her parents like, too. Iz particularly likes "Rad" from the first album, She Like Electric.

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I am going through this blog's archives just to make sure I never said anything nasty about my family, just in case they find this site via the links in the CISWY blogroll (and so far, I totally didn't say one mean thing! I swear!).

One of the things I've found, besides somewhat distressing possible evidence that Leelo did in fact make a lot of progress on the GFCF diet and/or that his language hasn't changed a ton in four years, is this still true rant on why I get fed up with food/body issues here in the United States. The ranty rant part is at the post's end.

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10.01.2007

Can I Sit With You: Launch Time!

Can I Sit With You: Launch Time!

We published our first Can I Sit With You essay today. It's called Bitch, and is a prime example of the WTF schoolyard social scene. Go! Now! And tell all your friends!

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