Looking Forward to a Brand New Year

It's been almost exactly one year since Leelo's pre-school teacher told me something was amiss with the boy, so 2003 will be remembered as the year our lives started spinning on a different axis. With the exception of our dreamy trip to Japan in April, this is a year we will happily leave behind.

We will celebrate the year's demise with cheese, of course. I have Epoisses, some orgasmic cheeses from Bingham Hi11 (courtesy of Jo's sister), and Iz finally found herself some Limburger (don't know if you've ever had it, but it is not the foul stuff of cartoon legend--it is strong but creamy and sweet). We will bring these cheeses to my cousin's house tonight, where we will hang out, drink wine, and not rouse ourselves too much.

Since this blog is all about me, me, me!, I am allowed to report my pleasure and surprise in completing a major project (major to me), even if it was tardy. Everyone who was supposed to get one of those top-secret gifties has received it by now, so I can reveal: it was an illustrated story about Iz's adventures with some enterprising trolls. Writing it was agony (I've never written a story before--no one has! Stop laughing!), but strangely satisfying. And people whose opinons I respect have told me that they like it, so there. I am not completely useless. I can make people happy, even if it is only for 15 minutes.

Most importantly, Iz adores it. So much so that she was absolutely desperate to get a picture with a real troll. Here is our girl practically floating with happiness:

A happy new year to you all.


Hard, Justifiably Angry Brilliance

Many thanks to Chasmyn for pointing out the Wampum blog. These are the kinds of parents I wish I was, on fire, on the attack, brain not only still fully functional but being used to fight for truth, justice, and...well, you know. A fucking awesome site.

Today's entry (Dec. 30), about Sen. Maj. Leader Frist's sneaking a big-pharma protection rider onto an amendment of the Homeland Security Bill, is another one of those difficult reads. You know, the ones that end up with me sobbing (again, yes) in disbelief. Excerpt: "The amendment to the Homeland Security Bill would supercede the courts, making the mercury in the vaccine preservative [thimerasol] an "ingredient", and thus not subject to liability."

So, if the Thimerasol/Autism link is ever confirmed, I won't be able to sue Frist's buddies in Big Pharma.

It is a long article but I do wish you would read it. And then, treat yourself to their Dec. 26 entry as a reward.

(BTW, I could not get their trackback code to work here. Is it the exclusive domain of TypePad/Moveable Type users?)
Why I Am Lucky

Okay now. That was a bitchload of bitching. I suspect my hormones are working against me--I don't know how other people experience PMS, but I switch into harpy/maudlin/self-loathing/severe depression mode. Normally I am a chirpy little bird (right?) or at least know that my life is peaches and cream compared to many.

What I mean is that, for the most part, I am grateful for the kids I've got. Why? The list below details what happened to people I personally know when they attempted to reproduce. If you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant, you should probably stop reading now:

Infertility (4)
Ectopic pregnancy at 6 weeks resulting in permanent fallopian tube blockage (2)
Miscarriage at 8 weeks (3, probably more)
Miscarriage at 12 weeks (2)
Late-term miscarriage at 5 1/2 months (1)
Late-term abortion at 6 months due to irreparable birth defects (1)
Stillbirth (2)
Severe c1eft lip and palate (2)
Down's Syndrome (1)
Achondrop1astic dwarfism (1)
Several rounds of expensive IVF treatments, baby severely retarded from birth (1)
SIDS at 3 months (1)
Several rounds of expensive IVF treatments, SIDS at 5 months (1)
Type 1 Spina1 Musc1e Atrophy (1)
Fragi1e X Syndrome (1)

So, I'm cool. Good to go. Happy to have two healthy, loving kids. Got some perspective.

Off to the movies (by myself, I should not socialize right now). Big F*sh. Looking forward to it. Then dinner (again, by myself).

I have changed the title of the blog. The "soon-to-be-not-autistic" part is out, because the more research I do and the older Leelo gets, the more it seems to me that I'll be allowed to pound my chest and yodel about recovery when and if it happens. Not before.

I'm not being a pessimist. He is acquiring more pronounced symptoms (e.g., spinning non-spinny items now, a classic affect) even as he learns new skills. If you talked with supervisor M or his therapists, they'd say I was nuts--he's doing so well in his therapy, consistent 80% success rates and mastery--but he is not able to generalize very well unless prompted, and even so is drifting away more and responding to us less.

It takes incredible energy and focus and energy to sustain interactions with him, I just can't do it all day long. I am not Catherine Maurice--I don't have the capacity to stay in his face, narrating his life and blocking all retreats. It is so much easier to let him trot off and amuse himself sometimes, but this is exactly what we're not supposed to do. Sigh. Seymour, on account of being the out-of-home wage earner, spends less time with the boy and gets frustrated with his behaviors even more easily than I do. After that Xmas week of no therapist or babysitter respite, we are both exhausted and feeling more down than ever.

And then there's Iz, sitting on the sidelines and watching her brother get oodles of attention while constantly being told "I can't do that right now, I'm busy with Leelo." No, she's not going to be bitter at all. Part of why I created those Xmas gifts for her, to show her that even though I'm busy a lot, I do think about her and love her and want to spend time with her, and know she's a wonderful little girl.

She's off school this week, and Leelo had two sessions with Therapist L, so I was able to spend some one-on-one time with her both yesterday and today. This morning we had breakfast with Moomin and Badger, who lent our delighted girl many splendiferous books. I am going to keep them on the shelf for a bit though--Iz has decided that she wants to have a Superhero birthday (fuck yeah! No more Care Bears or Princess crap, and I didn't even nudge her into it), and has been describing all these very funky characters and story lines--I want to make sure I get all the information recorded before she adds Akiko-influenced plot twists.

Oop, Leelo's therapy session is over. Time to go upstairs and see if he'll let me read him a book (probably not). Then I'll try to get him to play with me. He'll spent much of that time running away, pulling my hair, or trying to grab my elbow. We will engage in horseplay, which will make him laugh. Then I'll try to elicit some language from him, and he will either ignore me or protest or get frustrated and start slapping his face. The cycle will repeat until I get fed up, plop him in front of a video, and go mope in the corner with a cup of tea and some chocolate.


All Snestled in Bed

Or at least back in my own cozy little home. So happy to be here that I will ramble on for a good bit.

Yesterday was our first day back. We arrived home well past midnight, were completely wiped, all slept in, and as a result weren't able to rally ourselves to leave the house in search of food until well after noon. We decided to chance Suraj's spectacular lunch buffet on the chance that Leelo might have forgotten how much he likes naan bread (we haven't taken him there since August) and it went well. He's so used to being denied that he only made a couple of half-hearted requests before tucking into the pancakes we brought for him.

Then Seymour took off for the mountain on his bike, and the kids and I went to the park to meet up with Ep, JP, Clyde, and all their kids. Should have brought flak jackets for the two women who were forced to listen to hurricane-force tales of Seattle woe.

So here is what I think the problem was: personality and lifestyle conflicts. Please again understand that I truly adore all of my in-laws. It is not their fault that I am a hermit and require long stretches of solo time in my cave, or at least the opportunity to let my kids run amuck in an environment that does not require every shred of my attention span. Add on top of this several days with four or fewer hours of sleep, a week's worth of being on-call socially (no one's fault, just the way holidays are), being teased for not being a Republican, a super-high-energy boy who couldn't be left alone for two seconds, standard holiday stress, Iz incessantly battling with her cousin Leigh (I wanted the princess cup! No, it's my turn!), and zero down time, and you have one grouchy squid who takes pleasure in nothing and feels martyred by everything.

Also, I kept fucking up in front of my mother-in-law, who is an amazing, wonderful, generous woman and the antithesis of mother-in-law stereotypes (she is more deferential and considerate than anyone I know). She is probably wondering how her poor sweet son got saddled with such a lazy, unkempt shrew. And my screw-ups weren't just little things like shutting the dishwasher wrong (so all the crystal clatters and shakes) or sniping at my partner in public. No:
--I miscommunicated to her about babysitting for the Nutcracker, forcing her to find an additional babysitter at the last minute for my infant niece Kylie (who is darling but mobile and really only wants her mommy, and is not a compatible baby-sitting companion for dervish Leelo, at least not in that house).
--She came up as my sister-in-law and I were discussing the Sienna situation and how I am having trouble getting our lawyer to call me back with his promised Family Law lawyer recommendation, and asked us what we were discussing so urgently--turns out that somehow she was never informed about our plans. Nice thing to drop on the lady on Xmas Eve, don't you think?
--I was so proud of myself for getting Iz and Leigh to sit down and do art projects in the kitchen! It didn't occur to me that they were using markers next to pristine and difficult-to-clean white walls--I was so pleased to have them busy yet not zoning out in front of the TV that my powers of observation shut down.
--No matter how much I watched the kids (and I watched three of them--Iz, Leelo, and Leigh--a lot--we all did), somehow my mother-in-law always left right before and returned right after my shifts, making it look like Seymour did all kid-watching for the entire trip.
--I was generally not very helpful due to the aforementioned exhaustion (my fault, poor time management) and extra Leelo-watching needs.
--Plus, as mentioned in a previous post, I'm just not any good at figuring out how to step in and help. It is flummoxing. My mom gets it. My sister-in-law, again, totally gets it. To me it is like a foreign language.
--And finally, since I am again a complete asshole, I used her computer to complain about her house (the house of the woman who paid for our plane tickets and has spent the last few weeks doing everything she could to make our Xmas wonderful). And I think that I may have forgotten to clear the history.

I am a jerk. A complete jerk.

However this does not mean that I deserved to be subjected to Fox News all week long.

This is getting long. I will finish tomorrow. Here's Iz feeding the reindeer that came to visit us at her grandparents' house:

Demon Spawn

I don't care how fucking cute you think your toddler is. If he is running around a restaurant yelling and screaming, and coming over to my table and shouting "Hi!" in my ear before I've even been served coffee, then you should thank your lucky charms marshmallow stars that I didn't stand up and drop-kick the little farthead halfway across the restaurant. The fact that I am sitting with a small child does not mean I am complicit. And you sure as fuck do not get to ask your little horror if he is "Having fun, Sweetie?"

You are going to hell. When you get there, my children will be the ones yelling in your ear. And you will never get the cup of coffee that makes it all a smidge more bearable.

As the heavens above are my witness, I truly despise kids. Except mine and yours, of course.


I Rule the Land of Bobbed Hairdos and Psychotropic Mushroom Addicts!

Dude! Google "shroomhead," then click I'm Feeling Lucky.


To Port1and and Back

Port1and is a long, long way from Se@ttle if you have two young kids in the car and are making a return trip that same day. A long, long way.

Didn't realize how much being in Seatt1e stresses my partner. Poor guy. Let's just say that he has no interest in claiming his right of primogeniture with respect to this house.

Sienna loves her grandmother and seems to be a happy, friendly, shy little almost-8 year old girl. (Although she worships Hillary Duff--yeesh!) Her mom was nowhere to be seen, I am somewhat glad about that. This was just a meet and greet, no other groundwork was laid. Great to see her grandmother, my Auntie Diamond, who is sweetness incarnate.

Seymour and I came home to an empty house, so I must go back and take advantage of hanging with my kids.

Tomorrow we are going to see the family's new boat/floating luxury condo. Should be interesting; they've spent three-plus years building it. Afterwards we will go to R@y's Boathouse (slobber), where I will be sincerely grateful for the fabulous free lunch.

Then home! Yeah/Sigh!


I Love My Father-in-Law

Did I ever mention that this man is from Portugal? And pours his ports with a free hand? Result: I am beyond spoiled when it comes to fortified wines. None of that tawny crap for this cephalopod. Vintage ports, and nothing after 1985, thank you very much.

Last night I got to listen to him spin long, wild tales about his childhood in the Azor3s, and the happenstances of being the son of the owner of the largest whaling factory on the island. This is a man who can wield the word 'flense.' Delightful.

Merry Xmas

Xmas is and continues to be crazy, but the kids are loving it, and Iz liked the gift I made for her so much that she stopped opening her presents to groove on it, and refused to continue until threatened by people who are not me.

Way too much stuff for the kids. Most of it will be disappeared and they'll never even notice. There was a good proportion of gifts that people spent time, thought, and energy creating, which is preferable to the standard all-out assault on The Mall.

Everything for Leelo is truck- or train-related. Except for the My Little Pony which his grandmother (Seymour's mom, bless her) had no qualms about giving him even though it comes in a pink box.

My sister and brother-in-law got me a cheese subscription, which almost made me cry. Seymour got me a couple of Sandman books and the Animatrix DVD and no more, which means that he is being a very good listener. Bless him, too.

Hope you're all having a happy happy day. Tomorrow we are driving to meet Sienna for the first time, and scope the situation. Wish us luck.

(BTW, I have and will continue to purge a lot of blog material related to her, for confidentiality reasons. If you want details feel free to email me via the questions link to the left.)



There will be no more blogging for the next week, from this corner anyhow. We'll be Christmassing in Seattle.

(Then again, if I can't find the tennis racquet they got for Iz before we leave, I may find myself staying elsewhere.) Iz's grandmother loves her tennis and especially loves watching her grandkids (try to) play.

Happy times to you and yours.


She Fails

I am just a fuckwad. How did I get into this mess? My fabulous gifts got gutterballed. They are in a format unprecedented for this procrastinator, and I just didn't get how hard it was going to be. Plus, duh, I have a much more insane life this year than in years past.

Regardless, I won't get to sleep (again) tonight or make my plane tomorrow if I even look at them sideways (but I can blog, it's my sanity break). They are about five hours away from being done. Perhaps I can churn them out up north. Does Seatt1e have 24hr Kinko's?

Managed to get out presents to all the adults, but their kids will hate me this year. They'll get nothing and like it! Well, maybe I can air mail some coal to the little darlings after I get to Seymour's folks' place.

Seymour's mom has planned such an amazing event for the grandkids that I can't even believe it. Santa, his reindeer, and elves are coming to their house to meet the kids and do a little show. Plus their friend who commutes from Snoqua1mie has been bringing a truckload of snow to them every day for a week. It'll be a white Xmas at the Rosenberg compound, no matter what. Seymour and I both think this is slightly insane, but agree that his mom deserves to have whatever kind of Xmas she damn well pleases.

P.S. Apologies to anyone who got grumped at today. You know I love and feel comfortable with you if I'm able to let loose with bitch mode right in your face.
Well, Maybe I Won't Stay Up All Night

Until 5 A.M. is good enough, neh?

Earlier on I drafted Seymour to help out with some of the more mind-numbing Xmas tasks, for the fist time ever. Very funny watching him spend hours and hours addressing 150 cards, writing the treacly newsletter, putting photos in frames, etc. He was a very good sport. Tomorrow he has agreed to face the Saturday morning post office Xmas rush crowd with a tower of packages and his imp of a daughter, while I take Leelo to Bioset. If he survives that I might even let him help pack for the trip to Seattle.

I spent my evening madly banging away on my holiday various projects, one of which involved making a CD for Jo. I sort of lost it about 80% of the way through. You'll see--the theme changes rather abruptly. In a good, necessary way.

Off to bed.


Ba-Boom! There Goes My Head!

Aaaaigh! No sleep for the next two days! I hope that Kinko's isn't swamped at 3 A.M. this morning when I will probably be there, madly copying away. And somehow I have to figure out how to retrieve my car from the mechanic in San Mateo before 5:00. Yes, that is a bald plea for assistance, locals.

The funny thing is that this project of mine is something the kids won't even give a crap about, compared to the piles of molded plastic product tie-ins they've been brainwashed into craving. I remember quite clearly what an ungrateful little shit I was about homemade vs. bought presents, and so will not be offended.

Leelo seems to be a different boy lately. Many people have commented on it--he's observing and looking at and scrutinizing people, even if they look back at him. Overall he seems to be much more with us. I hope the trauma of travel doesn't upset him so much that he retreats back into remoteness mode while we're staying with the grandparents who are funding most of his therapy and are hoping to see results.

Iz and Merlin have apparently come up with a game called "Army Kids," where the kids all run around with knives and shoot guns. Seymour is not amused, but I told him that the kids are starting to get to that age where this is standard playground discussion fare. It's not our job to just say "no, you can't play or draw guns because they're bad and that's that." We have to go into active parenting mode, where we advise and discuss and try to inform and get battered with left-field questions we'd never considered.

So, long discussion with Iz in the car this morning about how real guns and knives are not for play, they are weapons. Weapons are for hurting or killing, so unless you are an an adult and a highly trained soldier, pirate, hunter, or police officer, weapons are not really appropriate. Her response: "Well, the Army Kids are teenagers and they are soldiers, so they are almost adults and they can use weapons." Goddammit. I am very interested in how other people approach this topic.

Here is Iz's rendition of Cindy, the head Army Kid. Note the firing gun and knife, and the USA on her skirt:

Fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck! I am freaking out. Someone should probably come protect my poor husband from the screaming, puffing harpy wife who will greet him at the train station this evening.


Shaking Head


Why can't the American Family Association just put their ample conservative energies into helping families in need? Why are they meddling with the business of committed people who want the legal ability to protect each other?

I have had very little sleep so this is probably incoherent. LOTR was 98% rocking, good enough for me. Some eye-rolling moments, but I can live with that.

Thanks Minnie for the link.



So this one time, a friend of mine in Vancouver was working at a tattoo studio and he told me he'd tattoo the Klingon Symbol on my ass for free!

Yes, I'm loopy tired. Really. Why? Bad time management skills. Still, I would arise from a coma to go see the last installment of LOTR, which means that's what I'm doing tonight. Coffee, don't fail me now!
You Wouldn't Believe Me Anyhow

What a fun day! Somehow amidst the eye appointments (Iz, fifteen miles north), therapy sessions, dental appointments (Leelo, 25 miles south) and car breaking down in the middle of bumfuck with two kids and their carseats in the back and being assured that the tow truck driver could accommodate them and then having him arrive and tell me there was a miscommunication and no he couldn't fit us all in his truck and sobbing to saintly Ep to please come save us (which she did, altruistic soul that she is), those Nanaimo bars got made. My assistant Iz was so thorough in her dispensing of powdered sugar clouds during the step between therapy and the eye appointment that, by the time Ep deposited us on our porch two hours later, the entire kitchen was carpeted with ants. All I can say is that Jainism is not for me, because each and every one of those little fuckers died a horrible death at my hands (thank you, Orange Guard).

Was greatly amused at Iz's eye doctor's office. Iz still has a little pinhead-sized rust ring in her eye from that metal splinter a few weeks back. Her eye has otherwise healed perfectly, and the doctor isn't worried about it. I told Iz that she could think about it as an "eye tattoo," at which point the doctor told Iz that she certainly wouldn't want to be getting any tattoos, would she, as tattoos are just wrong. Huh? To Iz's credit, she didn't bring me into the discussion.

Leelo's visit to the dentist was amusing in a different way. I went in there telling everyone at every step that Leelo is autistic and bloody well unlikely to be compliant. "Oh, well let's just see if he'll tolerate the lead apron while he's holding this x-ray film in his teeth just so with the x-ray camera one centimeter from his nose." Seymour afterwards: "Was all that screaming Leelo?" At the end of the visit they suggested maybe we should try knocking him out for the processes. Well, duh.

Should probably mention that Seymour took off half his day to chauffeur us around to the dentist and Iz's holiday potluck. La la la, wee kids singing and dancing. Leelo couldn't take the caterwauling of thirty pre-schoolers, so he and I hung out in the back room and Seymour watched the show. Moomin and Badger joined us later, and the two boys played animal puzzles for a nice bit, Leelo even seeming to copy Moomin's animal parade.

Best part of the potluck was the look on Ep's face as she failed to get that last Nanaimo bar (they are the food of her people as well). Fortunately I had hoarded an extra one, and gladly handed it over in recognition of services rendered.

I am trying very hard to finish my secret project. It may implode, as the last part hinges somewhat on my ability to conjure up a good verse--not a challenge I usually take on. Lord. Next week will be mellower.


A Goodish Day

Leelo, despite his nuttiness and perpetually low-hanging drawers (the boy has no butt; thanks to my dad's genes he looks like he's wearing my dad's jeans, snarf snarf) had a wonderful, fabulous, incredible day during his two therapy sessions and one facilitated playgroup. His therapists and Supervisor M were amazed and surprised, and kept re-checking their data to ensure that no mistakes had been made. No, sorry, he just kicked ass!

Then he went to Ep's playgroup and used his cobra-like reflexes to snag a sip of juice and a bite of cookie. God fucking damn it. We'll see if there are repercussions. He is so damn quick, it is flabbergasting. Several wary and watchful parents, myself included, were standing around both times, yet none of us were fast enough to intercept him.

Tomorrow is a potluck at Iz's school. We are supposed to bring the food of our people. I don't really feel like making bacalau, the food of Seymour's people, and so will spend part of the evening making Nanaimo bars, the food of my parents' people. The other part will be spent making my new top-secret holiday gifties even though they require focus and a nimbleness of mind that I've never yet achieved. Send good, creative, sustaining thoughts my way, please!


What the Fuck? And, Hurray!

Leelo has been on a hyper-driven crazies bender since last Thursday. It is driving us completely fucking nuts. Seymour can't take it, sometimes he just has to leave the room. The weird thing is, despite this, when Leelo concentrates we're getting some of his best behavior and responses ever.

For instance, when Seymour walked in the front door after running outside to check on the mold level in the hot tub, Leelo said "Hi, Daddy!" totally spontaneously. He has never in his life greeted either one of us spontaneously, without prompting of some sort. He's also reciting much longer passages than usual from his books, with much clearer enunciation. Demonstrating increased understanding of what we say to him, e.g., "I want book" "which book?" I want My World," and interacting correctly with TV programs that ask viewers to yell responses at the screen. But then he starts gibbering and laughing like a lunatic and there is no reaching him. Seymour is upstairs fretting about it as I write; neither of us have ever seen anything like this before.

Those fabulous poos we so adore have gone haywire, too. Now we're getting seven or eight of them a day. We're not used to that kind of production, and his little butt is getting raw. We thought it was because of the lemon and lime oil in the cold liver oil (citrus has always shredded his poor little bottom), so we stopped it after Thursday night but the rash and numbers still haven't abated.

The two differences in his routine are 1) he's not sick and 2) B12 shots. So, why the crazies and diaper onslaught? Well, when it comes to so much of this autism shit, the answer to far too many questions is simply "I'm sorry, we just don't know." I must state that groping in the dark with a variety of tools and hoping we find gold is starting to wear on us both.

But, yay, my cousin DD and his wife JP had a little boy. DD came dancing in the door to pick up his adored girls and announced "I have an heir!" Later on he confided that this was the happiest day of his life. Now, before you start muttering disapprovingly about "Men" (which is what my mom did), fuck off and let him have his day.
Baby Coming!

Ack! JP's water broke this A.M., so her daughters Danielle and Elise are here with us for an indefinite period of time. Poor Danielle's birthday party got pre-empted by the labor festivities, so we're trying to think of how best to make it up to her. I say Ice Cream, and lots of it.

New babies are so fun when they're somebody else's, aren't they?



Godfather M on why humans like truffles so much: They smell like sex.


The three of us on French vs. American cheese snobberies: Fuck the French!

Godfather M: I've fucked the French!
Squid: Hmm, I don't think I have. Does half-German count? Maybe he was half Alsatian...
Seymour: I haven't either, but I'll wear a beret later if it'll help.

It's 10:30 and the kids are still up. Which means we all get to sleep in in the morning. Ah, weekends.

Squishy Brain

I am so fricking tired my brain is bulging out of my ears. Don't know why. It is unbelievably annoying since, as always, I've got shit to do!

Crafty items did not arrive today. No presents for anyone, sorry. I will give you coupons for big sloppy kisses instead, unless I use my superpower and pull something out of my ass! (Appropriately enough, Iz, after a two-day Tick marathon, has been badgering me to come up with a better Battle Cry than "Don't Pick Your Nose!")

I am hiding in the office after a long day of errands and fun that took us from Los Altos to San Francisco and back home again. One stop was the salon. Another was (slurp, dribble) Ti Couz. The latter place has a full-length mirror in their bathroom, which I didn't realize until I turned around and almost screamed. That was the color Iz picked out for my hair? Cool, but it looks like I painted my head with mercurochrome. And, no denying it now, all the black clothes in the world are not going to change my official status as dumpy. Crap. Oh well, if it was truly an issue I'd do something about it.

We also picked up Iz's Godfather M on the way, and brought him home to stay the night (I am "cleaning the guest room" right now). He is preparing dinner for us. He is a professionally trained chef. I hope I stay awake long enough to enjoy his meal.


For Dedicated Fans Only

Today was a good day for both kids. Even though Leelo's been sick and having severe separation anxiety for the last month, he's still making steady progress. We are pleased.

Example: Last night he perfectly followed every direction to remove each item of clothing and put them in the laundry hamper. He then asked for help with his diaper, and he himself put it in the trash. Most parents of three-year-olds would probably say "big fucking deal," but keep in mind that we are describing a boy who, as little as six months ago, responded to exactly one direction: hold my hand.

And there was more diaper excitement today! Maybe he is ready to toilet train. I emerged from my personal pit stop to find his personal pit stop lying on the ground thankfully contained within a diaper, and arranged next to his pants. He was galloping around the living room, swinging free, with that energizer bunny power he exudes so frequently.

Not so great things for Leelo today: I'd forgotten how good he is at spitting out undesirable foodstuffs until I found myself sprayed with lemon-lime Cod Liver Oil this afternoon. He's stopped grinding his teeth, but has replaced that behavior with hand-biting. AIIIGH! Also, he had many bouts of the uncontrollable laughing fit crazies this afternoon. They drive me nuts, as he's almost impossible to reach when he goes into this mode.

These crazies are one of the reasons we're trying to get him seen by the good folks at Stanford. Though he's been seen and evaluated by many people who deal with subsets of his autistic symptoms (speech therapists, ABA therapists, occupational therapists, DAN! doctors), he's never had a thorough clinical, psychological evaluation by autism experts. The GGRC evaluation was brief and by-the-books. It lit a fire under our butts and got us working, and qualified him to have his small-group language classes funded, but it didn't give us a comprehensive picture of where Leelo is compared to where he should be, and what symptoms he might be exhibiting that we aren't noticing. Couldn't hurt, anyhow.

My conference with Iz's teacher went well, surprisingly. She's still a little shit, but less of one than in times past. She is paying attention more, and while she still needs encouragement re: follow-through of tasks she dislikes, it's not the wrestling match it used to be. Mostly we need to work on not torturing vulnerable children like poor Merlin. She had some interesting things to say about local schools, and suggested that I may want to visit some local K-2 classes before jumping straight into the Spanish immersion school. More work, great. Big sigh.

Sorry this is so dull but I'm just blogging away on this one as a record of where we are today.

And one for the shameless bragging file: Iz's teacher says that our girl reads "like an adult" (i.e., fluid sight reading plus enunciation and in-character voices), that she's one of the best readers she's ever had, and that putting her in kindergarten next year would be a complete waste of time. Which means even more research work for this lazy mom. Dammit.
Oh, the Excitement!

Yeah, baby! Our Leelo had a real formed poo last night, and again this morning. This is a major achievement for a boy whose GI tract has been on the fritz for two years, and who has never produced anything but slurry and slop (apologies if you're eating).

He's finally, finally all better (wish I could say the same was true of all our friends). So we added Cod Liver Oil to his regimen last night. It comes in lemon/lime flavor now, did you know? Want some? He only has to take 1/2 tsp. per day, so we're putting it into a dropper and squirting into the back of his mouth. It makes him retch, but he's just going to have to get used to it. Poor little bit. His ABA sessions are going really well.

Today is Iz's parent/teacher conference. I have learned to fear these. Her teacher tends to dwell less on what she's doing right ("you know she's doing well, we don't need to talk about that") and more on how skillfully our girl has learned to skirt rules and torture other children. In a happy, gleeful, but still not Montessori-sanctioned way.

The materials for making my secret non-lame but still crafty holiday gifts have not arrived. Shite. No one is going to get anthing this year if they don't arrive tomorrow or Saturday.

Still, I am in a somewhat less fearsomely bitchy mood today. Possibly because Ep took Iz for most of yesterday afternoon (bless you) and I had a nap. Also because Rook loaned me his personally recorded videotapes of The Tick. Spoon!


Angered Anew

Fucked up shoddy research techniques and conflicted loyalties are deplorable in any publishing scenario, but when you're talking about frying kids' brains, I would think journalists and researchers would be honor-bound to do the job right. Guess not. Looks like someone's been stirring the waters in that murky pool of mercury, Thimerasol, and autism.

Here's the link if mine doesn't work: http://www.insightmag.com/news/573542.html

And you know what, fuck it. Here's a paragraph from the article, and if this doesn't at least make you eye-poppingly pissed off, I hope it will make you cry. That's what I'm doing right now.

This veteran member of Congress puts it plainly: "We're not going to get answers to these questions until Congress or some outside group starts poring through this information. But it's very coincidental that they added the hepatitis vaccine, the HiB vaccine and the chicken-pox vaccine - they added all these additional childhood vaccines around the time when the autism rate started to skyrocket. Then when you actually sit down and do the calculations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], they were giving these kids very toxic levels of mercury. I mean as a 150- to 200-pound adult the EPA says you're not supposed to take in more than one microgram per day. They were taking little seven- and 10-pound babies and pumping 50 and 75 micrograms of mercury into them in one shot. That's like giving an adult 1,000 micrograms. And, on top of that, the World Health Organization says mercury is 10 times more toxic in children than it is in adults. It's horrifying."

CDC Study Raises Level of Suspicion
Posted Dec. 8, 2003
By Kelly Patricia O Meara
Insight Magazine
When to Avoid Eye Contact

*Am I wearing metallic greenish-grey slightly fancy cargo pants with a clashing chocolate-brown cashmere turtleneck? Then I am too depressed to do the washing, and am tapping the dry-clean-only reserve tank. Avoid!

*Am I wearing the same shirt as when you saw me the day before? Even though I spilled something on it? Then I had a morning so phantasmagorically fucked-up that I can't process grooming basics. Avoid!

*Did you greet me pleasantly, only to have me respond with a growl and then completely ignore you? No explanation needed. Avoid!

*Does is look as though I slept in my clothes? I probably did. This means, that, on top of being grouchy and depressed, I probably smell. Avoid!


Blessed Sleep

Leelo has finally decided to sleep. This is good. He whined and fumbled with the doorknob for an hour, but things never escalated to intervention levels. I just checked and he is even in his bed, as opposed to in a heap by his door (and bite me if you think that's heartless, his room is carpeted).

What a pleasant capper to a fucked up week of tantrums and not going to sleep unless he had daddy no mommy wait mommy and daddy lying on the bed with him. Not the kind of crap we'd usually give in to, but again, the boy's been sick.

He's been more entertaining awake. Yesterday I took him with me to visit Dr. K the world's funniest OB/Gyn, and ended up sitting him on my chest during the exam. I couldn't put him down because each time I did he would go grab my pants (at which point my thankfully tolerably clean underwear would fall on the floor) and plead "pants back ON!" He just doesn't like nakedness in general these days. As soon as he gets out of his bath he starts sobbing "shirt, shirt!" and will go pull his soiled one out of the hamper if we're not quick on the draw with the clean one.

Aside: Many thanks to Badger for pointing out the brilliant writings at Chez Miscarriage.
For A Good Time Call...

Someone sent us six bottles of wine. I think it was me. Seymour doesn't want to stack them on the counter; he thinks that anything over that which fits in our teeny wine rack should be banished to the garage. I am wiser, and know that it would be much more effective, not to mention salubrious, to simply drink all the excess wine. That's going to be some playgroup on Monday.
Void Redux

Figured out an idea for that holiday card. It is lame--which is far worse than nothing, but nothing is unacceptable for all the friends of my and Seymour's parents who are just waiting for something "soooooo creative!" from us. Was telling fellow soldier MB about how tempting it is for me to play the "we're too overwhelmed with Leelo crap" card this year, but, y'know, since I've got "nothing to do" while Leelo is in therapy all those hours, the people in question wouldn't buy it anyhow and they'd dish out the crap, overtly or subtly, and then I'd be doubly depressed.

At least Photoshop is fun. I could play with filters for hours.


A Mighty Void

Cannot come up with an idea for this year's holiday card. Fark.

Here is the card I would like to do:
Side-by-side images of Christina Aguilera, Ann Coulter, and Britney Spears.
Underneath each , it says "Ho."

So, "Ho, Ho, Ho!" Ha ha hahahahahaha.

Well, I think it's funny. But I am too lazy to print them all out myself, and sites like Ofoto.com have copyrighted material policies. Ah well.
My Husband the Fairy

Awoke this morning to a perfectly clean living room and kitchen. The truly eye-popping portion of the deal is that Seymour, our resident good fairy, was not a contributor to either mess. Perhaps he has started keeping track of my, erm, personal schedule and knows that the next week needs to be extra sugar coated if he is to survive it.

He has also started telling Iz that another name for boogers is "nose poop," in the hope that she'll stop with the excavating.

Leelo seems to be doing better this A.M. Good speech therapy session this morning with his beloved Teacher A. Still no call back from Dr. G, though. Someone must have lost the message, methinks. Now that it is morning and my house is clean I am feeling less condemnatory and know that they would never knowingly overlook a call back to a sick child.


There's A Party In My Pants

Leelo took a different bad turn this afternoon. (If you are eating lentil soup or have a touchy stomach, stop reading now.) The worst case of the trots, ever. We're talking eight diapers in one afternoon. Pure liquid with no pretensions of cohesion. The weird thing was that it smelled exactly like breast-fed baby diapers, which is a bit loopy, don't you think?

It stuck me as odd enough to call Dr. G's office (traditional pediatricians) to see if they thought it was an issue of concern. They told me the nurse or doctor would call me back. Strangely, neither did. I suspect that they've blackballed me, or think I'm a deranged Munchausen-by-Proxy mom. WTF.

All good parents know that you're supposed to give your kids PediaLyte in this situation so they don't get dehydrated--unless your kid's on some kind of crazy restrictive diet that doesn't allow artificial colorings or sugar. So as the clock hit 4:55 and I still hadn't heard from Dr. G, I put in a desperate phone call to Dr. P, our DAN! doctor. His receptionist took my name and number, and told me that the doctor was out and would be back in the morning. Sighing, I told her that I'd figure out something.

But lo and behold, 20 minutes later Dr. P himself called with a long, detailed ration of advice after he'd asked me many, many questions:

-Take the boy off all supplements and meds
-Get him to drink lots of water
-Give him Lactobaccilus (pro-biotic) 3x/day to thicken up his output and help his gut heal
-Feed him clear vegetable or chicken broth to replace his electrolytes
-If he can keep it down, feed him overcooked rice or overcooked steamed vegetables

This to continue for about 48 hours, until he shows signs of significant recovery. Not so sure how this will work for Leelo, as he won't eat rice or steamed veggies, and that first sip of vegetable broth made him gag and retch and cry.

But I am certainly grateful to Dr. P. This is the second time he's called me back within an hour after his staff told me that he wasn't available. He also said that he'd fit us in tomorrow if we needed to see him, even though he's already overbooked. He is my new hero.
Two Kinds of Bad

Bad morning for Leelo. He did not want to wake up. Barfing all day Tuesday and not ingesting anything except his special pancakes and water yesterday means a weak, grumpy boy who did not want to wake up this morning, and who protested so vehemently upon Therapist F's arrival that I had to whip up another batch of miracle pancakes in order to gain egress from the house. Second or third time this week that Iz has been late to school because of her brother's hijinks.

Oh, blessed Thursday morning bad moms coffee group. It is comforting just to be in the presence of Ep and JP and Badger (industriously working on her paper in the corner, but extending invisible tentacles of solidarity nonetheless). Jo, alas, was home nursemaiding poor dear sick Eliz. We talked about holiday and mothering twaddle, but who cares! It was conversation with other adults. Or rather, adults were forced to listen to me all hopped up on coffee and having a conversation with myself.


In Which I Am A Naked, Cheese-Loving Cheapskate

I hereby pronounce this Christmas to be the one in which gifts from us will be modest and/or home made but not lame. This means I will probably be desperately scrounging around Bharat Bazaar for last-minute gifts on Dec. 19 or 20. (We leave for Seattle Dec. 21.)

I have already informed my sister-in-law. If she, with characteristic generosity, chooses to drop half of Toys-R-Us on my kids again this year, that is her decision but I do not feel obligated to reciprocate.

Since I can think of nothing else to write, here is my list of current favorite cheeses. Yes, I heart cheese in a big way. Any one is guaranteed to make you swoon, unless of course you're lactose or sulfite intolerant. I am not going to bother with the various true softness/hardness grades.

Reblochon (soft)
Epoisses (soft)
Emmi Cave-Aged Gruyere (hard)

Laura Chenel Cabecou (soft)
Redwood Hill Farm Crottin (Hmm. Soft in the middle?)
Cypress Grove Midnight Moon (hard)

Truffled Pecorino (hard)
Romao Queso al Romero (hard)
Petit Basque (hard)

Roquefort (Papillon or Societe? I can't make up my mind!)
Fourme D'Ambert

Oh wait, now: Seymour just waved a funny picture at me. It is a polaroid of me, nekkid, in front of a piece of lovely batik cloth that I am holding up. I am in our tiny room at a brothel/hotel in Mopti, Mali, and am standing in front of an iron bed/frame that was bent down in the middle to make it fit in the room. I think the rate was $6 per night. Not sure what the hourly rate was. Damn, check me out! I don't think I used to love cheese so much back then.


Your Next Reading Assignment

Read the comments from Rambling Rhodes' entry Why Shouldn't Consumers Consume? and you will know why I worship and fear Josh Norton.
More Barf!

Now Leelo's got the barf bug. Twice in the kitchen (easy to clean), once right between the cushions and into the mattress of our fold-out couch (a hellaciously nasty bitch to clean).

That last sprayer doused the autism book I was re-reading, Treating Autism: Parent Stories of Hope and Success. Which was good, because the parents' stories list so many different treatments and approaches and options we haven't even considered that my head was starting to disengage from my neck. Totally overwhelming. And everyone is traveling all over the county for all these treatments. Why haven't we tried Transfer Factor? Using milk from a breast milk donor center? Relationship therapy? At least ten assuredly critical supplements that I haven't even heard of? Easier to just throw up one's hands, then blog.

Andil the loverly QA lady was here today, and had nice things to say about Leelo's progress despite all the November vacations and illnesses. Specifically, he is ready to us the pronoun "me" when pointing to photos of himself, rather than "Leelo." We don't want him to talk like Elmo the muppet, is the idea. She also questioned my hesitation about joining Parents Helping Parents, but I was honest with her: Lady, I don't have the time right now, and if the parents are anything like the ones in that book, they'll make me feel like a major fuck-up. No thank you.
I Want to Have Sex With Margaret Cho's Brain

Fiendishly smart, belligerent, and unapologetic. Oooh, baby, you know what I need. Read this. Then read today's entry.
If It's Not Victorian or Edwardian, It's CRAP!

I've been working on this for three days. It's not going to get better, so I'm just going to cut it loose. I've got shit to do.

My mom was one of those Canadians who figured that, since the Queen's image was on her money, she was practically a resident of England. This is probably why I was handed so many British (mostly Victorian or Edwardian) books during my formative years.

I blame all those British authors for my inability to write a non-convoluted sentence. Well, them and the AP system, which--if you bluff/score high enough on their exam--exempts you from university writing courses.

I was a lazy, sloppy writer by the time I got to grad school, and a trial to my patient advisor. Strong, spare writing was a particularly favored topic of his, and every few weeks he would beg me to read Joseph Williams' Style: Towards Clarity and Grace. I did read it, and I did try, but I just couldn't shake those adverbs and run-on sentences. It's not in me to work that hard, or avoid readings from that era even though they reinforce my bad habits.

And the bad habits continue. I continue to circle back to books from or about England even when making a conscious effort not to do so. Right now I'm slogging through three such books.

Ep has successfully derailed me with another story about people who hack up other people, and the people who try to catch them. This one is Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed. Unbelievable that a mere 120 years ago, murder investigations discounted physical evidence in favor of witness accounts, the little physical evidence that was gathered was not subjected to microscopy even though it had been available for 200 years, and few knew that germs were the cause of infections despite Pasteur's discovery 20 years earlier. Here is the image that will be stuck in my head the longest: proud surgeons displaying their superiority and dedication through the stiff foulness of their constantly blood-soaked and never-washed surgical garb. Won't even go into the fucked-upedness of just being a woman during this time.

What I am supposed to be reading (besides all the generously loaned books from Jo) is The Code of the Woosters, a book I've meant to take on for just about ever. I put off many a famous series for as long as possible, knowing how delicious they will when I eventually cave in (e.g., I read LOTR for the first time this year). Wodehouse's language is so lovely and comforting and familiar, like relaxing into a giant feather bed after a long hot bath. I am just waiting for the opportunity to address someone as "my gay young tapeworm."

The third book I am reading to Iz, and is of course A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a long-standing favorite of mine, and so beautifully melodramatic. I am hoping that Iz finds much to admire in the kind, sympathetic, polite, intelligent, fiercely loyal, imaginative, and book-loving Sara. She is certainly taken by the idea of dolls having secret lives, keeps asking me what her dolls do when she is at school, and loves pretending that she is my walking/talking Emily doll.

The language and images from these three books are intermingling in my head, superimposed with my worries about what sorts of fanciness we'll be engaged in during our Christmas vacation at Seymour's folks' house. (They are lovely, wonderful, and kind, but favor strangely formal group outings that don't always allow for the exuberance of small children.) That is probably why the following lines popped into my head and won't leave:

If you subject me to a luncheon,
I may have to bring my truncheon.


Well Now

Apparently, Leelo has decided that since I left him with not one but two therapists today despite howling tantrums, I am a heartless bitch and inferior to kind sweet Daddy. He asked for "Daddy" all day today, and when said person arrived home, Leelo turned to me and said "Bye, Bye, Mommy." I've been dismissed. Ungrateful little poophead.
Leelo Today

It is official. I am Leelo's "lovey." He's in a phase where he won't go to sleep unless he's in my bed, and I am there with him. Last night I spent an hour slingshotting him back into his own bed, finally gave up, let him dash into my bed, and then was forcibly extracted from the office by a little boy sobbing and tugging on my hand while wailing "Mommy in the bed! Get in the bed!" I was so tired that I fell asleep with him, with my bra still on. Those of you who favor underwire know how unpleasant it can be to wake up with those twin C's of agony boring into your rib cage.

He had also started a new stereotypic behavior that is driving us nuts: grinding his teeth. There is not much to do about this, according to Seymour's dad the ex-dentist. The only aid is a mouth guard, and Leelo sure as bejesus isn't going to tolerate one of those. If we catch him at it, we grab his jaw firmly and say "No grind!" but who knows if it's registering. He seems to grind more after I let him grab and squeeze my elbow (his primary stereotypic behavior), so I'm trying to only let him do the elbow thing when he's falling asleep, and remove my arm instantly if he grinds his teeth (also, he has to say "I want Mommy's elbow" very clearly to get the elbow in the first place).

We added Selenium to his supplement regimen on Saturday night. He seems okay with it, no reactions so far. We are now officially a month past when we were to begin heavy metals chelation, and so are going to start adding supplements every five instead of every seven days. The remaining additions: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Cod Liver Oil (yum), Glutathione Cream, DMG, and Nutribiotic (anti-yeast).

Speaking of yeast, I recently read the Autism Research Institute's pamphlet on Candida/Yeast-derived autism. As with everything one reads about autism (I find), it immediately struck me that this may be what's primarily wrong with our boy. It is a much-documented scenario: constant ear infections necessitating multiple and continuous barrages of antibiotics that decimate the natural biota of the intestine, leaving it open to colonization by yeasties. The yeast then converts any and all sugars to fermented byproducts, resulting in a little boy who acts like he's drunk all of the time. And just how much do you think you would learn if you were constantly inebriated? Not bloody much.

We are doing most of the things recommended in an anti-yeast diet, but the hard-core, listed-as-truly-effective regimen eliminates almost all sugar and carbohydrates and that would mean disaster for us. We wouldn't be able to give him any of his supplements as they are either in sweetened suspensions or need to be mixed with rice milk, and Leelo would never eat only the recommended meat and non-starchy vegetables--we tried giving him some roasted turkey breast meat at Thanksgiving and he didn't just not eat it, he picked it off his tray and threw it across the room. (Iz says he must have been reincarnated from a vegetarian.)

I need to do more research and talk to more experts, like most things re: Leelo. Sigh sigh sigh and sigh again.

He had a major fuss this morning when I left on my aborted mission to take Iz to school, but after a session in the Magic Swing of Calmness, Therapist L was able to get him to put in a good three hours. Then after his session he did some great imitative play: Iz took two open packing boxes, sat in one, and put the other on top of herself and declared that she was a package that needed to be opened. Leelo then took the one box, put it on top of his head, and sat in the other box patiently. When we "opened" his package and said "There's Leelo!", he was delighted. He initiated this completely on his own, after watching his sister. That is some heartening behavior.
Please No More Creeping Ick

Dreams of finally--after weeks and weeks of scheduling irregularities--having a morning to myself were extinguished with vomit today.

Poor Iz. She's such an odd combination of stoicism/drama queen that it's hard to know when she's really not well. I hope that it was just orange juice on an empty stomach that triggered her defilement of the schoolroom, and that she'll be good to go for this afternoon's playgroup (where we will celebrate December 1st by watching Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer).

I've been feeling barfy for a good few days (probably the aftermath of Thanksgiving overindulgence) and hope that this latest bug will realize that it wouldn't be fair to attack--we were already a sick house for more than a month and need to lie fallow for now.