2.28.2008

Transition

Transition

Today was Therapist L's last day. She has been working with Leelo since August 2003, one month after I started this blog. I am in deep deep denial. So, instead of contemplations or ruminations, you get More Cambodia. Enjoy.

The Liar's Diary

A MotherTalk Review

I intentionally do not read others' reviews before writing my own, but I doubt my experience with The Liar's Diary is unique: there is bloody little of this book I can talk about without revealing, or at least alluding to, spoilers. This is not a bad thing. It means Patry Francis's novel is so carefully put together, so painstakingly plotted, that it will satisfy those purists for whom reading means active sleuthing. Or passive readers like me who just like to be entertained. Or perhaps even those who wish Sue Grafton would get serious and write a murder mystery contemplating suburban women's relationships.

Jeanne Cross, a superficially perfect but dull mother and wife, forms an intense, unlikely friendship with Ali Mather, the beautiful, vibrant, scandalous high school music teacher. Despite her initial misgivings over Ali's many and open extra-marital affairs -- and her husband's disapproval -- Jeanne soon succumbs to Ali's magnetic personality. Wine-soaked book chats and walks by the lake ensue. Doesn't it sound dreamy? Don't we all wish that a really interesting person would suddenly take a special interest in us, and write about us in a diary like Ali's?

Unfortunately, the dream evaporates into stark, harsh reality when Ali is murdered in her own home, her diary goes missing, and the main suspect turns out to be Jeanne's teenage son, Jamie. After this point, nasty revelations begin to erupt, and -- trite but true -- I doubt anyone will be able to put the book down until the mystery is cleared. You've been warned.

I wish I could write more about the plot, but, again, I cannot. Though I can let you know how much I enjoyed Ali's consistent portrayal as gorgeous and luminous and in her late 40's, not despite her age. I also appreciated how much empathy Ms. Francis demonstrated towards her characters, including Jamie with his teenage bravado and bewilderment, and Ali's beleaguered but faithful husband George.

If you enjoy a good gossip purely because you crave insights into others' minds, hearts, and actions, you will enjoy the twists, turns, people, and surprises in The Liar's Diary.

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2.27.2008

Don't Be Ignorant

Don't Be Ignorant

Iz's favorite book for several months has been The Book of General Ignorance, by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson. In deference to The Simpsons*, I tend to call it "The Big Book of Ignorance."

Giving Iz this book is like giving one of my brothers the keys to a beer store. Good distraction, then potential total social disaster. Iz is already a know-it-all stickler with no qualms about correcting strangers on the street. Let's just hope most people won't mind being informed that America was named after Welshman Richard Ameryk rather than Amerigo Vespucci. And it should make her teen years interesting, telling the other sci-fi geeks that the asteroid chase in The Empire Strikes Back makes no sense because asteroids usually have about 1.25 million miles between them, and her rocker buddies that the number of the Beast is actually 616, not 666.

Regardless, this book deserves a place near every toilet in the land.

---

*Mali recently interrupted lunch to tell me, Ep, and Jo a rather complicated story. After a beat or two, we realized she was retelling us the King Homer segment from Treehouse of Horror III. Go third child!

2.25.2008

Imitation of Mali

Imitation of Mali

Seven-year-old Leelo is really starting to imitate his three-year-old sister. I find this amusing.

When offering them lunch yesterday, I said, "Who wants PB&J sandwiches?"

Mali, instantly: "I do!"
Leelo, after two more beats: "I do!" (He has never said that before, in his life.)

Tonight while doing the evening sit-both-younger-kids-on-their-toilets-and-hope-to-God-one-of-them-at-least-produces laptop online video routine (oh, bless you, videos.sesamestreet.org), I asked them what they wanted to watch:

Leelo: "Want to watch Elmo!"
Mali: "I want to watch Cookie Monster"
Leelo: "Want to watch Cookie Monster!"

This is more than mere echolalia. He is actively observing his little sister to see what he should say in given situations. Iz has always talked far too much for him to use her as his model.

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2.24.2008

Kids Don't Need TV To Entertain Themselves

Kids Don't Need TV To Entertain Themselves

Not when they have each other...

Iz and Mali, Enhanced

2.23.2008

Middle East Map Game

Middle East Map Game

Courtesy of Floyd. Play it just to humor me, your favorite Geographer. Please.

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/just_fun/games/mapgame.html

2.20.2008

Modern Maturity

Modern Maturity

I have written a little piece over on Can I Sit With You? clarifying my stance on whether or not middle- and elementary-school aged children should read said blog and book.

If you think that such children shouldn't even know how to spell S-E-X, then don't even fucking bother.

2.19.2008

Migraine?

Migraine?

Last night Leelo appeared to have had a migraine; he was screaming with pain for about ninety minutes, trying to get me to push on the left side of his head and then hitting and scratching me when I did, screaming in even more agony at lights or noise.

Ideally, this wouldn't happen on the first night of his dad's four-day conference trip, nor would it happen on a night when his baby sister decides to tantrum herself to sleep while his migraine peaks. Oh well. I only wish he would let me give him motrin or tylenol. I also wish he could tell me how he feels, rather than demonstrating his extreme discomfort through screaming, hitting, scratching, and attacking.

My poor, poor boy. I felt totally helpless.

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Mali vs. Dental Sedation

Mali vs. Dental Sedation

Mali just spent three hours under dental sedation. Now that she's out, I am finally exhaling.

Whereas we know Mali as the cute though strong-willed child who nevertheless lets us brush her teeth thoroughly, to her dentist she is a screaming, non-compliant, rotten-toothed little monkey. (I suppose I should be grateful that the porous Rosenberg enamel my youngest has inherited did not show up in her older siblings' mouths.)

They knocked her out with an initial shot to the thigh; then they took her back for IV sedation and intubation. She had her teeth cleaned, polished, x-rayed, filled, fluoride-varnished, and sealed in one shot, while her mom sat fretting in the lobby. She was mad as hell when she woke up but otherwise seems fine.

Many thanks to Jo Spanglemonkey for coming to stay with Leelo during his lunch break. Otherwise I'm not sure how I could have made Mali's appointment happen -- Seymour is off to a conference for the next four days, and Leelo is out of school on *cough* ski week.

2.13.2008

She Like Electric

She Like Electric

Bonus points if you know the reference without leaning on the Internet.

She Like Electric

This pretty much sums up Mali's personality, don't you think, MB? You just had "lunch" with me and my youngest, because Mali's non-compliance at this morning's visit to her dentist meant that an appointment I'd set aside an hour for actually only took five minutes, which was enough time to determine that her tooth enamel is really porous and that she has a few cavities and that the dentist will never ever be able to fill them without sedating her, so I had to go drop off a pre-sedation health evaluation at Mali's pediatrician, whose office is in your town, and meant I had a bonus social time slot. There was much wonderful conversation but very little sitting still during that "lunch." Although Mali did not have an accident during a morning spent entirely in underwear and which took her through several hours' worth of errands.

She still prefers to answer to Charles the Dog, BTW.

Do you have lovely plans for Valentine's Day? The morning after I made our dinner reservations, the restaurant I'd selected was on the front page of the local paper for giving sixty people food poisoning. For some reason Seymour insisted on canceling the reservation, even though I said that the restaurant was very very very likely to have cleaned up its act and then some by the time V-day arrived. So we are doing random Italian. But I'd be happy doing random IHOP with my man, as long as the kids have been stowed elsewhere.

2.11.2008

No We McCain't

No We McCain't

Far too much going on here at Casa Rosenberg, so I continue with the external links:



(I just don't deal well with this kind of straight-faced earnestness and sincerity.)

2.10.2008

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

Bugs: it's what's for dinner! But you shouldn't eat anything yourself before reading through this page, if your stomach is even slightly delicate.

2.06.2008

Third Grade and Existentialism

Third Grade and Existentialism

That's one of the topics of today's rather eerie Can I Sit With You? story.

Don't forget to leave a comment! Don't forget to send us *your* story for Can I Sit With You, Too?.

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2.05.2008

Leelo Rosenberg’s Program Update 2/05/08

Leelo Rosenberg’s Program Update 2/05/08

By Supervisor M
Data inclusive from 9/15/07-12/31/07.

This quarter Leelo achieved many important learning milestones. Most significantly, Leelo learned to check a visual schedule to transition between activities. He also learned to play independently for over 10 minutes, switching to news toy when he was finished with the previous ones. Leelo became familiar with using headphones to listen to music. Leelo now enjoys hearing up to 10 minutes of his favorite music on CD using headsets (I-pod, here we come…). Leelo also learned to tap people when he wants to get their attention. All of these new skills are either aggression replacement behaviors or coping skills, and are critical to reducing Leelo’s aggressive behavior.

With this reduction in aggressive behavior, Leelo was able to master other new skills at home, and continue to make progress on other skills. Leelo mastered about 20 discrete skills in ABA therapy, including social questions, sorting, and introductory phonics. He has also made wonderful progress on more complex involved skills. He began the Edmark Reading Program, a sight reading program, to complement phonics instruction, and he has successfully completed the first, pre-reading section at home and at school. He also learned to set the table, and to sort his laundry and put it into drawers. Once he can fold it- he will be ready to teach his sisters. Despite an increase in accidents during the holidays, Leelo also continues to make progress on toileting, and is now in underwear all day long and using the toilet at home, school, and other environments for urine and bowel movements.

Importantly, so far Leelo has not had a marked increase in aggressive behavior this winter, as he has had for the past 3 winters. Leelo’s team suspects the Claritin, as well as his newly learned replacement behaviors, are responsible.

Bittersweet news: Therapist L, who has been Leelo’s home therapist since he was just shy of 3 years old, will be moving on from Leelo’s team at the end of February. Therapist L has been the bedrock of Leelo’s home ABA program, responsible for everything from teaching Leelo, to data collection and graphing, to material preparation, to running ABA sessions from a swimming pool in Kauai, and even massaging his feet with lotion. I think I can speak for us all when I say she has brought such expertise and good spirit to Leelo’s team. We are so grateful for all that she has shared with us over these years, and I’m sure she will shine at whatever she choses to do next.

The team has agreed that this is a good opportunity for Leelo’s school to take on more ABA-based instruction of new skills, and for Leelo to attend school for a full day. The past 2 months have been spent developing and implementing a transition plan to prepare everyone.

Program Data Summary: Based on research in skill mastery, for all programs, mastery criteria is 90% correct on 2 consecutive sessions, unless otherwise indicated. Previously, a criteria of 80% for 3/5 sessions was used. It is felt that the current criteria is more stringent, and will result in better learning.

GREETINGS: No change. Leelo continues to be fluent at independently saying goodbye, in response to other’s saying bye in a variety of ways, e.g. “I have to go now”, “see you later”, “bye”. For “Hi/hello”, Leelo consistently says “hi” in response to greetings/waves with a 2 – 4 second time delay. If the greeter waits, Leelo will greet back. Instructional strategies: It is essential that everyone in Leelo’s life wait for 2 to 4 seconds after greeting him, before prompting him. Please DO NOT prompt Leelo by saying “what do you say” or “say Hi to X”, as he is relying on these cues. The greeter can prompt Leelo by getting close to him, securing eye contact, and waving along with the greeting, and if necessary- limiting distractions and straw access.

MULTIPLE STEP IMITATIONS: SONGS AND HAND-CLAP GAMES: This quarter Leelo began learning to imitate sequences of actions from preschool songs, and hand clap games which are popular with his age mates; while he has historically had difficulty with finger plays since preschool, he is highly motivated by the music. He has mastered (5)Ram Sam Sam, Twinkle Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head Shoulders, and Down Town Baby (hand clap game); he is currently working on the Hokey Pokey. Next Steps: continue with age-appropriate songs and simple actions. Generalization: practice at school and with family and friends at home.

2-STEP IMITATIONS WITH OBJECTS/PLAY SEQUENCES: Current prompt level: verbal instruction paired with 2-step imitation during preferred play activities (e.g. trains, teletubbies); Generalization: practice with wider range of materials, at school, with siblings.

LAUNDRY: This task evolved from sorting and putting clothes into correct drawers, which are mastered. (2)Leelo is now learning to fold shorts, and put them into a drawer. Next step: fold pants, shirt, match and roll socks; multiple step- fold and put away.

SETTING TABLE: Mastered setting cup, plate, napkin, fork, spoon, and knife using placemat jig at small work table (1). Currently doing as independent work station task, and in school with modified table setting for up to 6 place settings (cup, plate, napkin). Next steps and generalization: practice at home at dining table. Practice prior to dinner, for functionality. Set 4 places. Fade out placemat jig.

COUNTING/ONE TO ONE CORRESPONDENCE: Instructional strategy currently modified as follows: point and label 5 stickers/ pictures on strip, coordinating pointing with label. Next steps: Once mastered, replace stickers with numerals; eventually return to count objects.

FUNCTION OF OBJECTS: answering the questions “what do you do with a X?” and “what’s a X for ?”. Mastered (6): toothbrush, cup, book, scissors, crayons, chair. Currently working on piano. Next steps: continue learning the functions of objects; later work on the senses in the same way (e.g. what is a nose for- smelling). Generalization: practice at school, with family;

RECIPROCATE INFORMATION/COMMENTING: ON HOLD, due to lack of live models; will consider introducing at school instead; Generalization: practice observing and commenting on what people are doing around the house, at school,

ASKING SOCIAL QUESTIONS: Mastered (5) answering “how old are you?” ( 7), and “when is your birthday”. Mastered answering AND asking back “what’s your name”, “how old are you?”, and “how are you” (although Leelo confuses these 2, so they are never asked sequentially). Next steps: continue learning to ask more questions following giving a response to a question. Instructional strategies: if necessary, use visual cue with 2 squares, to indicate when Leelo should answer question, and then ask question. Use video model to support skill once he is using it with about 50 % proficiency. Generalization: practice mastered skill with family, on play dates, at school with staff, peers.

FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS/TRAVEL AND TRANSFER INFORMATION: No change, due to lack of practice opportunities during therapy. Discontinue during therapy, and emphasize instruction at school and with family. When given a direction to do so, Leelo is working on traveling to a person who is out of sight, to tell them something/make a request. Generalization: Practice traveling and transfer of info directions with family, peers, at school.

WAIT: (1)In therapy, Leelo can now wait at least 45 seconds for something he wants, when shown a red “WAIT” card. Practice occurs in real life contexts. Leelo also responds with appropriate waiting behavior when shown card in non-therapy contexts. Next steps: continue to increase wait time in dtt setting, up to about 45 seconds. Begin to practice in response to a request- when Leelo really wants something. Generalization: wait cards should be available to all people who spend time with Leelo, and should be used to cue him to wait appropriately. Leelo should be reinforced with tangibles/ whatever he has requested for waiting appropriately in all settings.

PHONICS/BEGINNING READING: Currently working on Jj. Leelo has mastered the sounds for Aa Bb Cc Gg Hh Ii Ll Mm Pp Qq Ss Tt Ww Yy Next steps: continue introducing single letter sounds. Begin consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) blending, introducing very DIFFERENT words (e.g. sat and mom). Similar rhyming words which are traditionally introduced together (e.g. cat, hat, rat) previously confusing for him

EDMARK READING: Begun at home and at school; initial pre-reading section completed and skills mastered; currently working on discrimination test; Generalization: practice sight words by labeling around home and school environments, and creating sight word matching and labeling activities (e.g. folder tasks).

FINE MOTOR SCISSOR SKILLS: Cutting thick square shapes (turning paper while cutting); Leelo attending to lines, and self-corrects when he veers far from the line; Instructional strategies: while wrist weight was discontinued, staff felt Leelo’s skills NOT as good; continue with wrist weight;

FINE MOTOR WRITING: Leelo currently working on Letter L; Instructional strategies; OT recommends tracing shaded lines, rather than dotted lines; emphasize diagonal lines;

COMPUTER LEARNING: Teach town (numeral identification) and PBS games; current goal to click, and to drag interspersed as separate skills; Generalization: Leelo also working on computer use at school, and with family

TOILETING: Currently dry when reminded to use toilet every 1.25 to 1.5 hours; generally compliant to go to bathroom at home and at school; bowel accidents reduced to about 1 per week prior to holidays, with increase in accidents during the holidays Next steps: Increase Leelo’s spontaneous initiations to use the toilet by reducing verbal prompt, using visual cues when necessary. Instructional Strategies: Use photo prompts for Leelo to state need to use toilet, and to initiate going to the bathroom, continue to reinforce with straw or other preferred, but no need for chocolate/most preferred; stay out of Leelo’s visual field while he is using the toilet.

BEHAVIOR: REPLACEMENT and COPING SKILLS: Most importantly, in contrast with the past 3 years, Leelo is not having a marked increase in behavior problems this December or January; during the holidays, his family reported an increase in aggression in general, and especially towards his younger sister during the holidays, which has currently been reduced again; At school, Leelo is observed to hit himself or others between 0 and 8 times per hour, with an average of about 3 times per hour. Most observed aggression functions to escape from demands, with some aggression occurring to access straws. When he is sick with a cold, aggression increases across all functions. Leelo has a tendency toward compulsive repetition of behaviors, such as flushing the toilet, leaning his head back to look up and side to side while seated, and repeatedly dropping and picking up straws. This is currently being managed by blocking the behavior and generally redirecting him to prevent or delay him from repeating the behavior. The following are Leelo’s progress on replacement skills that help Leelo to better meet his own needs, or on coping skills that help him to tolerate the demands of everyday life.

INDEPENDENT WORK TIME (Leelo time) Leelo has increased his attention span while working alone, and is now able to attend to 4 activities for about 10 minutes. He is able to do open-ended activities (e.g. playing with an instrument, rolling in the body sock) and to transition independently to the next activity when he feels finished with the open-ended one. When Leelo is completely finished, he approaches his therapist to tell her that he is all done, or that he cleaned up. Next steps: continue to increase variety of tasks and length of time and number of tasks Generalization: Leelo is currently doing independent work at school using closed-ended tasks; Leelo should do independent work with family at home at least twice daily.

REQUESTING AND TAKING BREAKS: After introducing a pre-recorded break button, Leelo now independently presses the button to request a break, often echoing the request “Can I have a break?”. He is directed to sit on the carpet, and chose between two enjoyable activities. When he is done, he is beginning to independently put the toy away, and tell Therapist L that he cleaned up. He continues to have behavior problems when he feels finished but has not been directed to clean up. Next steps: increase frequency of practice; when pressing button independent in all situations, then fade button to increase verbal request or break card exchange. Generalization: Begin practice taking breaks at home and at school, using break button

TAPPING AND CALLING PEOPLE BY NAME: Tapping people is mastered at home and at school. Continue working on calling people by name. Generalization: continue practice with various people in all environments.

PICTURE AND TEXT SCHEDULE/PROMPT CARDS; Mastered in ABA therapy and at school. Leelo also requests “check schedule please” if he finishes an activity at school, and is not handed a name card. He is beginning to use his picture schedule occasionally when with a babysitter. Next step: Fade use of name cards, so that Leelo is completely independent of adults in knowing to check his schedule whenever he has finished something and is not sure what to do next. Begin using schedule with family. Generalization: Leelo should use visual cues in all environments.

WEARING HEADPHONES: This quarter, Leelo has progress from 5 seconds to up to 10 minutes of listening to preferred music CDs at home. Instructional strategies: continue to increase time and vary music and/or stories on CD; begin practice at school; NEXT STEPS: teach Leelo to operate CD player; offer as break choice, or independent work station choice;

MANAGING STRAWS: During ABA therapy, Leelo receives a straw as a reinforcer for good work for a brief (5 sec to 30 sec) interval as a keeping straw use brief (10 seconds to 1 minute); Generalization: At school, staff are working on using straws as reinforcers for good work, and on limiting straw access to brief intervals of less than 3 minutes. having Leelo earn straws as a reinforcer for good work;

CALMING/RELAXATION ACTIVITIES: Leelo’s need for calming activities has been reduced, as his aggressive behaviors are at lower frequency and intensity, and he is healthy. In general, the following calming activities are used as needed: massage with lotion, obstacle course, ambient background music, pressure on his forehead and cheeks (sinus area).

NLP, SPONTANEOUS LANGUAGE, REQUESTS: (S=spontaneous, P=prompted/modeled) Exciting new language includes use of newly learned words to describe emotions and feelings, eg: Leelo has recently been dancing around saying “I’m happy” with a huge grin on his face. Leelo continues to use vocabulary which he has learned from the natural environment (e.g. “I’m thirsty”). His negating of things he actually does want is recently not as pronounced. He continues to tag please on to most of his utterances. Next steps: increase spontaneous language opportunities in the classroom
S- I’m happy (thirsty, sleepy)
S- Want to go downstairs and see mommy please
S-Help me please
S- I cleaned up
S- I want to play body sock
S- No french fries (example of negating when he really DOES want something)
S- Its on your head, please.
S- Take off the bracelet, please.
S- Sunny (the cat) is coming
S- Here comes Annie (during play with trains)

MEDICATION and HEALTH: No change: Leelo has generally been in good health this autumn and winter. He has taken Claritin daily, as recommended by his pediatrician for sinus congestion, and his team suspects this may be contributing significantly to his maintaining appropriate behavior throughout the winter season. He continues to take a daily dose of cod liver oil. His food preferences remain restricted, generally including bananas, pancakes, croissants, pretzels, and peanut butter sandwiches.

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B.O. For Me

B.O. For Me

All my research is pointing towards Bar@ck Ob@ma rather than Hi11ary as the person who gets my vote in today's primary. Even though I held out for Hillary until recently (my line was that real-world experience trumps charisma). However, on the issues that matter -- such as the Iraq war being a bad idea from the start, especially in how it gave fuel to Al Qaida and other non-representational, negative elements of the Arab world -- it is the man with whom I agree on almost every point.

I am pissed and sad, because I really did want to vote for a woman for president. Today I am a traitor to my sex.

(Only have two minutes to choose a candidate? Try votechooser.org.)

2.04.2008

I Hate Everybody, Except Maybe Your Special Needs Child

I Hate Everybody, Except Maybe Your Special Needs Child

Not really, but after three months packed with so many activities and trips and functions and tasks and so little sleep that at times it felt like free falling, I have finally hit the ground. And I'm grumpy.

The main thing I am irritable about is unhelpful, unkind people. People who don't help not because they can't, but because they're either too ignorant to notice when people need help, or too afraid to ask *how* to help. People like the parents who asked an acquaintance and her kids to leave a social circle because she objected to how her special needs child was being teased and bullied by some typical kids within the circle. My ever-so-typically measured response:

Cut those b!tches and their little tro11s loose and find some friends who get you and your kids.

But make sure you write [them] a letter letting them know how disappointed you are in them and their behavior. Make it diplomatic yet truthful. Go through several drafts, sit on it a few times until the anger you are rightfully feeling leaches out if it, otherwise they won't listen. The parents will be defensive, but -- unless they are completely sociopathic -- your message will sink in and it may make a difference in how they behave the next time they encounter a family who is "different."

Hook up with local SN families. See if anyone near you wants to play. We are each other's lifeboats, in my opinion.
Another friend, who has actual rather than theoretical diplomacy skills, suggested that perhaps the conflict resolution fiasco stemmed from communications being handled via the murky, warped vessel that is email. And that is possible. But I am past caring:

People who don't give special needs kids extra accommodations or make extra efforts [to help them] in social settings can fuck right off, as far as I'm concerned. She needs to find safe social spaces for herself and her kids. They can get all the "typical" socializing they can stand at their school.
This is not to say I am the greatest at helping other families out, either. Iz goes over to her friends' houses about fifteen times more often than her friends get dropped off here. But I do try. And believe it or not, just because I have a special needs child doesn't mean that I automatically grok his peers -- they are as different from each other as any other children. And I am always afraid that I will make errors or say stupid things in trying to get to know my friends' SN kids. But, again, in my own anxious, hesitant way I do try. And you know what? I am almost always rewarded. Almost always.

There should be some kind of pat wrap-up here but I have to go run three simultaneous errands. Just try to do right, try to stand up the next time you're in a position to help special needs kids or their families in a time of need. And if you can't work through any selfishness or cowardice roadblocks, then please wait another week before you tell me about it.

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2.02.2008

Knocked Over by Three Very Large Feathers

Knocked Over by Three Very Large Feathers

I had a very large argument with Iz during which she rationalized and made excuses and interrupted so badly that I sentenced her to silence for the remainder of the car ride home (if you know Iz, you know she'd prefer bamboo splinters under her nails). The next morning she came up to me and said, "Mommy, I understand now what you were saying to me last night. You were right. I apologize for losing my temper." !!?!??!

Three nights ago Mali noticed me cooking dinner. She then went to the cupboard, got out dishes (kept at kid-level so the little monsters can help set the table) and set out plates for everyone in their usual dining spots. Without a comment, without being asked. Who is this kid? (Less amazing but more amusing: yesterday I asked her what was inside her head. She said, "Um, nuffing. Just batteries.")

Tonight Leelo came up behind me, wrapped his arms around my neck, put his cheek next to mine, and said, "I want to play with Mommy." (He got his wish, but had to wait until Mommy stopped sniffling). While he has always been a loving boy, many of his "affectionate" actions are rooted in sensory seeking ("Want a kiss, please" really means he wants pressure on his sinuses, never on his mouth or cheek). But tonight he was being genuinely social and sweet. *Swoon*

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2.01.2008

Shit Shit Shit and a Shot

Shit Shit Shit and a Shot

Leelo has been having a lot of accidents lately, and I have been particularly busy lately, so the regular (i.e., not shit-covered) laundry has been stacking up. One of Iz's friends invited her over for a playdate after school today, which meant I didn't have to pick her up and so could stay home and do laundry and possibly not wear ten-year-old hospital gimme socks tomorrow (the ones with the tread on the bottom, though I have to admit they do provide an all-day sensory experience). Except Mali's bottom exploded all over herself and me the moment we got home from picking her up from school/ lunch with Sage & Jennyalice; the moment we were both cleaned up, Seymour called to let me know that Leelo's school couldn't get hold of me for reasons that I still cannot fathom and that Leelo had had several accidents and they were leery of putting him on the bus and could I please come get him right now? (Which meant that there would have been no way to pick up Iz without being very very late anyhow.)

When I arrived at Leelo's school, they gently let me know that I had sent him to school with a backpack full of shitty clothes (from an accident yesterday when we were at the dentist; Seymour kindly made the kids' lunches and put Leelo's in his backpack this morning, so I forgot to do my usual "are there clean clothes in the backpack" check). I am feeling very frazzled and useless and stinky at the moment.

Leelo did not have an accident on the way home, BTW.

And now, I feel the need to record my yesterday so that in the future, when Leelo and Mali are fully potty-trained and everything is sunbeams and roses, I can laugh at my pathetic overwhelmed former self. Please forgive fluctuating verb tenses as I'm not even sure what tense I'm in at the moment.

  • 6:30 Wake up, wake up & scoot Leelo to the potty before his AM poop, dress him, put out the girls' clothes, hand Leelo over to Seymour
  • 7:00 Daily taking advantage of Seymour's good nature with a too-long bath while he feeds the kids and makes their lunches
  • 7:30 Check land line voice mail from yesterday, realize that Leelo has a 1:30 dentist appointment that somehow never made it onto my calendar. Panic, finish off the kids' toilettes
  • 8:00 Load up car, drive down hill, call Therapist L to cancel Leelo's afternoon session conflicting with dentist
  • 8:15 Drop off Iz at school, wonder how I will retrieve her from school at 2:00 when Leelo's dentist appointment ends at 2:00 one city north.
  • 8:30 Drop off Mali at school, decide that Leelo's dental appointments usually last no more than ten minutes and that I should be fine to pick up Iz.
  • 8:50 Return home, take Leelo to potty
  • 9:00 Start waiting for bus; I clean garage/trash area (demolished since Xmas) while Leelo rides his tricycle around and around my car
  • 9:30 Bus arrives; Leelo is off to school, I am off to dentist
  • 9:45 Get crown put on hind, root-canaled molar
  • 10:30 Bad Moms' coffee! JP, Jennyalice, Ep, Jo, and Liz Ditz looking unbelievably cute with her kicky new haircut. Rowr. I feebly try to explain to formidably pro-vaccinations duo of Jennyalice and Liz D why the fact that autism's causes are still unknown makes me so nervous about putting Leelo back on the vaccinations track. Even though I really do think his autism is genetic, that Leelo has an as-yet-undiagnosed syndrome, an opinion bolstered by an encounter with yet another autistic kid who looks just like my son (though the kid is Filipino) and has a similar symptoms set. Jennyalice said we should start a foundation to document these kids. She and Liz urged me to consider that Leelo getting chicken pox or whooping cough (which is now endemic to this area) could be a hell of a lot worse than any reaction he might have to the shot. I wish I didn't even have to think about any of this, as even the light-years-removed chance that a vaccination could affect Leelo negatively makes me reach for a barf bag.
  • 11:15 Leave to pick up Mali from preschool, chat with Seymour en route about vaccinations for Leelo and my fears, he thinks we should put Leelo on similar or even slower track than Mali: one shot at a time, big gaps b/t to evaluate any adverse immunological responses. More waves of nausea for me.
  • 11:30 Pick Mali up from Preschool
  • 11:35 Leave for Leelo's school. Spend most of drive trying to sell my photographer friend JM on a Great! New! Idea! I have for his business. He thinks it might have merit.
  • 12:30 Pick Leelo up from his school 20 miles from Mali's school.
  • 12:50 Hit Burger King drive thru so that Leelo and Mali will have some kind of food in their stomach during the dentist visit, seeing as I forgot to pack snacks.
  • 1:00 Leelo declares today's fries mysteriously unacceptable and spits a big mouthful of semi-chewed fried potato starch bits all over the car interior.
  • 1:10 Fuel light goes on.
  • 1:15 Screech into gas station, duck into attached mini-mart on Goldfish crackers quest. No suerte; the only thing they carry that might possibly be enticing enough to distract Leelo during his dental visit is M&Ms. Crap.
  • 1:25 Arrive at dentist's 5 minutes early! Take Leelo to potty, he takes a big poop in the potty!
  • 1:40 Dentist still hasn't arrived.
  • 1:45 Dentist appears in office at a run, fresh from a dental emergency at a hospital. I leave Leelo with her and the dental assistant and walk to the lobby to see if my boy will have a calmer experience without me present. Call Jo to ask her to tell Iz that I'll be late for school pick up and that Iz should just wait in the school office.
  • 1:50 No audible yelling or protests from dental exam room (from Leelo or the staff)
  • 2:00 Dentist emerges, with Leelo. The visit was a success! Leelo allowed her to clean, polish, and *de-scale* his teeth. She did a visual inspection and saw no decay. Could an x-ray be in his future?
  • She said that he is on the late side of normal to have not lost any teeth; but she also says some kids don't start shedding baby teeth until they're eight, and that this can be a good thing as it gives their jaws more time to grow and accommodate those huge adult chompers. She was so impressed by Leelo in general, and asked how things were going with him. Just as I said, "Great! He hasn't worn pullups during the day for months!" Leelo took a big shit in his pants.
  • 2:05 Because I have not yet reorganized my various backpacks, post-Cambodia, I had Leelo's school backpack with a change of clothes on hand, but no wipes. Spent a good ten minutes using much-less-effective toilet paper to clean up Leelo; fortunately Dr. A had Clorox wipes in her bathroom so I could superficially clean her bathroom afterwards, as well.
  • 2:15 Threw Mali and Leelo into the van, screeeeeched away from the curb to go get Iz
  • 2:23 Picked up a rather despondent-looking Iz.
  • 2:30 Took the kids for donuts to cheer up my wilty older daughter (mother of the year!)
  • 2:45 Took Iz to her piano lesson across town.
  • 2:55 Took Mali and Leelo to the local grocery store for a Leelo potty break, free Starbucks straws (also for Leelo), diaper wipes, and goldfish crackers.
  • 3:15 Picked Iz up from her piano lesson, headed out to Leelo's annual pediatric checkup.
  • 3:30 Noticed that Mali had crashed out in her car seat just as I was starting to nod off at the wheel. Pulled over to curb to semi-doze/not be driving for a few minutes. Leelo stayed in his car seat (!); Iz read.
  • 3:50 Went to Starbucks and got myself a double-shot latte. Took Leelo to potty.
  • 4:10 Arrived at doctor's five minutes early! They took us in immediately.
  • 4:15 Holy shit, Leelo weighs 72 lbs. And he is only 47.5 inches tall. Doctor not too concerned about his weight at the moment; a lot of boys tend to expand and contract as growth spurts wax and wane. If super-chub becomes a consistent pattern, however, we might need to take serious measures. (Like not using donuts as palliatives for overly-scheduled days, perhaps?) She says that even though he seems to be bolting a lot of water, it might be another sensory thing and that she's not worried about diabetes. She palpated his huge belly and said that it was all Leelo and not withheld poop. She says that we can experiment with Claritin holidays for Leelo during the summer, but there should be no long-term effects from him taking it daily, indefinitely. She says that his anal itching (bonus!) may or may not be another attack of pinworms and that the condition is easier to treat than diagnose. His rashy red arm bumps are keratosis pilaris, and it can be treated with hard-core moisturizing. I told her that we had seen our pediatric neurologist a few weeks beforehand and that she (the neurologist) thought that Leelo's constant squinting and head-pressure-seeking might be an eyesight issue, that we have accordingly scheduled a full eye exam in six weeks, and that if he doesn't have any vision issues that we can then consider an MRI or other procedure to look at his sinus and the rest of his noggin.
  • All during this exam, Leelo was being the best Leelo ever. He let them measure and weigh him; he let them look in his eyes and ears, and opened his mouth wide when asked to do so. He tolerated the stethoscope; he tolerated the supra-lingual thermometer; he did not tolerate having his blood pressure taken, but that is understandable and he fidgeted out of the procedure rather than screaming and flailing. All very good. He is finally starting to trust medical professionals.
  • Which is why it was so hard to then give him a shot. I chatted with Dr. M, and we decided to have Leelo's first vaccine in five years be for the disease he'd be most likely to encounter, Hepatitis A. The nurse was fast and skilled and it was over instantly, but Leelo was outraged and betrayed. As if I didn't feel bad enough. He got over the incident fairly quickly, but who knows what our next doctor's appointment will be like. Crap, yet again.
  • 5:30 Arrived home with 30 minutes before babysitters' shift. Found last remaining bag of sandwich bread on floor; kitten had chewed a stripe down the side of the entire loaf. Cursed kitten, improvised kids' dinner, got jammies, bath, etc. ready for babysitters.
  • 6:10 Babysitters! Hurrah. Use time to clean kitchen and post special ed PTA minutes from previous evening's board meeting, seeing as if I don't do so within 24 hours I forget to do so entirely.
  • 7:30 Seymour arrives for our hot date.
  • 8:00 Wonderful dinner at fabulous gourmet Mexican restaurant downtown. Find out proprietor is a former neighbor of ours. Get condensed version of last six years' neighborhood gossip.
  • 9:30 Cap off hot date with trip to grocery story to replace kitten-masticated sandwich loaf, as our household cannot survive a breadless breakfast.
  • 10:00 Arrive home, I plead for TV break as first five minutes to myself since morning bath.
  • 10:05 Promptly fall asleep on couch.

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