Anyone Want to Loan Us a Catcher's Mitt?

Just lost a huge post. Gack.

Gist: Talked with our doula, she is of course fine with a hospital birth. But she's not sure we're going to make it to the hospital, or even to the car, and so wants to talk back up plans in the next two months.

She doesn't want us to end up like one of her previous clients, who tried to make the hospital dash and ended up having the baby on the porch, in the rain. The dad caught the baby and was so flustered that he tried to run inside to get a blanket--forgetting that the cord hadn't yet been cut. I don't want that to be us, either.

She assured me that no one can give our baby a vaccination without our specific permission, and that I can leave the hospital as soon as I want to.

And, yes. Hospital birth. I respect my partner and his concerns too much to pressure him on this.


Help Help Help!

Neither I nor my brother can remember the name or author of the crazy irreverent Illustrated History of Science book we had as kids.
The author's name may have contained Arnold.

This book learned me lots of my basic science facts. (Much like how most of my European history knowledge comes from Asterix.) It was written in comic book, black/white pen and ink style.

One of my favorite sections was van Leeuwenhoek looking through a microscope at a bacteria, followed by a picture of the bacteria looking back at v.H., and giving him a raspberry.

Oh please, doesn't anyone know this book? I must have it again! My kids must run around like we did, yelling "Mitosis are stuck together!"



Iz's birthday is in January. Leelo's is in November. This new one's due in December.

I just realized, that, if all goes well, I get to be a nun for Halloween again!


Sienna Update

If you've been reading for a while, you know that we may end up adopting my wee eight-year-old cousin Sienna. I don't write about her too much because I don't want to leave a trail, but here's what I hope is a non-Googleable update. Things seem stable for now, if not ideal.

I am one of those fucking annoying people who, if you tell me your troubles, tends to come up with stories from my own life to illustrate my empathy, when in fact you were most likely just looking for an ear to bend. People, next time just smack me. I can take it.

We do have a friend who is more annoying in this way than I. Jo refers to her as Sheryl (Kara-TAY!). She is a good hearted person, but doesn't have a clue about compassionate social interactions.

I have many, many examples under my belt, but feel the latest one is the most egregious.

Here is the message I posted on the local mothers club board, requesting therapist recommendations:

You folks prove to be an invaluable resource time and again, and I very much appreciate it. I'd like to ask for advice on an issue I've not seen posted about here.

Because I'm not exactly a type-A personality, I am feeling overextended by the demands of parenting both a gifted child and autistic child. Now we are unexpectedly expecting our third, and I need to talk to someone who can help me develop better coping strategies before this new one arrives in the Fall.

If anyone can give me a lead on appropriate counselors or therapists, I'd be grateful.

I will summarize as permitted.



Her response:

Wow. Well, congratulations!?!?! I've sort of heard
> this message before when my brother was expecting
> his fourth girl in 6 yeaars [sic]!

Now, she did go on to say that they are always around if we need help, etc., which is very generous, BUT. Too many kids is not the problem, entirely. It's the nature of the kids I already have. Sigh. I am too prickly these days.

But this is my blog and I can be a petty little weasel if I so choose.


Busy and Happy

Yesterday was a good day.

I slapped on my favorite Classic Highlife CD to drive around to. So good to be reminded of my exchange student days, when my biggest worry was whether or not I'd picked all the goat meat sinews out of my stew.

Leelo's language was good. His behavior was good. Potty training was less good, but he's making progress. He asked for me a lot during therapy, has been greeting me consistently, and has been very liberal with the hugs and kisses.

I finally bought some maternity clothes. Not many, since the category as a whole is full of suckage, but I did find the one pair of capri jeans I'll be wearing four out of five days for the next few months, and a good utilitarian bathing suit.

I made sample copies of Iz's school work, independent writing, and the covers of books she reads on her own to submit to the Principal at Esperanza. I got permission from her current teacher to have the Principal call her to verify that she (the teacher) is going to certify Iz as having finished kindergarten this year. Wrote a polite yet assertive cover letter, put the whole package together.

Spent three hours watching the kids have a really good time at the park in the afternoon. Despite the lack of shade and incipient sunstroke. Water baby Leelo only occasionally tried to drink the dirty sandy water. Iz got to play with her long-lost friend Audrina. Almost everyone we know showed up, too.

Around dinner time, Ambah appeared, to our surprise and delight (she lives in the North Bay). We three had heady conversations about lampreys being anadromous like salmon, which led to the gender-reversal of seahorse breeding, which led to the evolution of marsupials, which of course then led to continental drift...I was happily bio-geeking, full force. Iz was into the lamprey and seahorses, but drifted off to dress up as Super Girl.

Ambah and I then traipsed around in my yard, taking deep draughts from the perfumes of the various salvias blanketing the ground. We found a volunteer chocolate cosmos seedling poking up from among the sorrel and coreopsis. We communed over the overabundant beauty of deer- and drought- tolerant landscaping. It was twilight. It was magic. I made her gifts of bronze fennel and chocolate mint seedlings (don't worry, Ep, there are still some left for you).

We then got tortas at the restaurant that laces its food with crack. I am not kidding. You try it and see if you don't get addicted, or have fever dreams about the Hurache el Regular. We had fully, happy bellies.

Spurred on by the aforementioned chemicals, I summoned the cajones to post a request for counseling recommendations on the local mothers club board (if I am battling with depression, I want it handled before #3 arrives). I received many excellent responses.

And, most importantly, I had an epiphany about Leelo while driving home. We've been getting so down about his crazy behavior that I've been taking his latest, completely retained, strides for granted.

If I ask the boy if he wants to see his beloved Occupational Therapist, he responds with a hearty "Yes!" If I ask him if he wants carrots, he says "No no no!" I would have gladly cut off several of my toes to hear such responses to non-concrete questions, even six weeks ago.

I need to remember to be grateful like this, all the time.



Thanks to everyone who responded to the Home Birth/Pro Choice post below. You are kind to share your stories. It is reassuring to hear from so many brainy, passionate women, and always a treat to hear from manly, erudite, tuneful Rook.

I set those queries out because I've been pondering both subjects lately. A lot.

I am interested in gathering more information about home births because I am an ideal candidate. I have had three easy, uncomplicated births. Our doula is totally hooked up with the homebirthing network.

A home birth makes practical sense to me. My labor times have decreased logarithmically with each baby, which in Leelo's case means I barely made it to the hospital. If the progression continues I will have this baby while sitting on the toilet, mistaking labor for gas pains.

Iz's hospital birth was mellow and breezy. However, I did not have a very pleasant time at the hospital with Leelo. The nurses were abrupt and did not demonstrate a lot of competence. Sure, it was 4 A.M., but babies arrive in the wee hours every fucking day of the year--it's not as though my labor was some sort of anomaly, or outside of their normal scope of duties, or there was a glut of screaming wailing laboring women onsite. Feh.

Once Leelo was born, all I wanted to do was go home. I stayed for 24 hours at the nurses' requests, but was jumpy and stir-crazy the whole time. My parents, Seymour, and Iz were having a party at my house, and I wasn't there! Instead I sat in the over-bright hospital room and was bored to tears. Leelo was a good nurser, and cute as a beetle, but--like most newborns--he slept all the time.

Another worry about being in the hospital is having someone slip the new baby a vaccine without asking me...

Seymour says he's up for a home birth, as long as my pilot brother brings some random person we've never met before to experience labor or greet the newborn. He did this to me twice, and also did it to my sister-in-law.


Pro-choice. That is where I am. It sounds as though that is where most of you are, too. If you personally would never have an abortion, but also would never block someone else from making that decision for themself, then you are pro-choice. Bless you in the names of all the women who have found themselves in unspeakable circumstances, and have been given the opportunity to do something about it.

I have always been pro-choice. Even when my choice was not to have an abortion, and give the baby up for adoption instead. Even though some people thought this meant I was a pro-life poster child, and tried to drag me to rallies at my parents' Catholic church..

Even so, I can sympathize with the pro-life stance somewhat. I saw this little noodle in my belly jump and dance at 10 weeks, via ultrasound. I've never needed to have an abortion. So, from my coddled, privileged, and pampered position, it is easy enough to wonder how anyone could do such a thing. I am not intending to put words in the mouths of pro-lifers; this is how I personally feel.

I also realize that my cozy emotional, family, and financial circumstances are not universal. People have abortions for reasons, in situations, and while going through terrors that I can't even imagine. And, as several of you noted, they will terminate whether it's legal or not. I do not think I will ever change my mind about supporting their legal right to do so.

Once again, my personal thanks to every one of you who responded.



Your thoughts, if you'd be so kind:

Home births: yes, no, why?

Pro-choice or otherwise: why?

Please don't start chewing on each other's asses. I am courting opinions, not arguments. I really want to know what folks have to say.

Iz to Tricia, who speaks only Spanish: Hola!
Leelo to Tricia, imitating his sister TOTALLY SPONTANEOUSLY: Hola!

Tricia and me to each other: Gape-mouthed shocked silence

Happy feet! I've got those hap-hap-happy feet!

More, please!
This Is Day Number 91

You're 13 weeks pregnant
Your baby's age since conception is 77 days / 11 weeks
There are 189 days until your due date! (67.5% to go)

via www.epreggnancy.com
Bad Dream

If it didn't involve effort, I would be very much interesting in working towards lucid dreaming. Then I wouldn't have spent hours of dream time sobbing after my OB showed me an ultrasound of my dead baby. I wouldn't have been left spread eagled on a hospital bed, surrounded by technicians who thought they were cheering me up by looping anime fetal extractions on the overhead monitors. I wouldn't have been observed by a group of doctors who muttered about how my situation was commonplace, and that I needed to stop being such a big suck.

But, oh hurrah for waking up at 3 A.M. and realizing that things are fine, and that I am in my own cozy bed with a gently snoring partner and a cuddly warm midnight interloper boy. Lucky, lucky me.

I guess I am still fretting about viability.

Also bad: stupid fucking HypePad has banned me from leaving comments because I have a dynamic IP address. So, Badger and Jo, I guess it'll be email from now on unless HypePad allows you to unblock me. My IP stays static for months on end, so it wouldn't involve much updating on your part.


An Ill Whine Blows

Haven't written much these past few days because I've needed all my energy just to get on with basic daily matters. Since last Tuesday, everyone except me has been sick--babysitters, therapists, everyone. I have been on caretaker overdrive. Plus my partner and mutual relief-giver then went out of town for three days, taking--and giving me a break from--Iz, but leaving me in sole charge of one extremely energetic little boy. The result is a me who is whinier than usual and very, very tired.

Leelo has been completely wacko since he got sick--even though he only had a 36 hour bug. Hyperactive doesn't come close to describing my pint-sized hurricane. Verbal stimming, crazy jumping, hitting himself when frustrated, not minding me at all unless I get in his face, running running running, heart pounding, totally nuts. He was useless at the one appointment he got to keep, speech therapy. I spent four days mostly alone with him while he was like this, and it was excruciating.

Except that he'd have moments of clarity where he'd ask me for ten Dr. Seuss books in a row, by name (and Oh the Thinks You Can Think is a very long name). Except his eye contact is better than ever. Except my friends have been remarking on how well his language is coming along. Except his therapists tell me that today's afternoon playgroup was his best one in weeks. Aiigh.

At team meeting this morning, Supervisor M took pains to remind me that he always regresses when he is sick and/or misses therapy. And he was sick last week, then missed two whole days of therapy. She told me to hang in there, to wait and see if he doesn't settle down after a few more days back in the therapy groove.

Also Ep pointed out (not for the first time) that kids often go crazy right before a big developmental leap. Oh, I hope, I hope! It seems to be true in Iz's case, at least. She was an emotional powderkeg all last week, but then on Friday ended up demonstrating some amazing acrobatic feats on the monkey bars ("Mommy, I managed to do it myself!"). These are feats that only the week before had been half-heartedly attempted, abandoned, and then whined about. Plus she has her first loose tooth. Our Ep may be on to something.


Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?

My Mom: "But they want to charge me ONE MILLION DOLLARS to paint the inside of my condo. Doesn't that seem like a lot of money to you?"

Me: "Well, Mom, people know that you live in La Jello, so they expect you to just bend over and take it."


Me: "I did not just say that."

My Mom: Mirthful cackling


Engines on Impulse

Had to go to the mall to get some brassieres that actually fit my newly inflated friends without cleaving them in half, and found this tshirt for Leelo along the way. I cannot be blamed for this particular impulse purchase, methinks.


On a Jet Plane

Seymour and Iz's plane leaves for Seattle in 15 minutes. I will be holding my breath until their return flight touches down on Monday.



As I had to confess this morning, I cannot read Hop on Pop to my kids without thinking of Robert Mapplethorpe.

"Pat, bat. Pat sat on bat. No, Pat, no, don't sit on that!"

It got me and Badger and Ep all asnort this morning, anyhow. Now, why do we call ourselves the Bad Moms again?

Seymour, Iz, and Leelo were all home sick yesterday. Our poor boy was so wiped that he put himself to bed last night, skipping the usual thirty-to-sixty minute wrestling session. Today the sickos are just Seymour and Leelo. All I can say is that I am grateful to own one of these, and to have an onsite laundry facility.

Iz and I had a nice mellow hike through the preserve behind our house yesterday. We had a lovely time together; it was the perfect antidote to the frustration that had me wailing about her in the Shut Up! entry below.

We caught the tail end of the famous wildflower displays, and she got to practice skibbling down the trail. We mostly discussed how poisonous attributes help plants survive as a species, and how "success" in a plant community depends upon your perspective (e.g., poison oak is an unqualified local success story--if you happen to be poison oak).

Last night was the series finale of Angel here in the States. While I think that the show deserved another two seasons, I also think they did a decent job of wrapping it up. I will be suffering severe Buffyverse withdrawals, but better this than having the series go stale and listless like the X-Files, or rolling out an uninspired co-universe series like the deplorable Voyager, or unwatchable Enterprise.

Leelo is napping in the middle of the day, just in case all the barfing didn't convince us that he is truly ill. I am going to take advantage of this lull and lie down for a bit. I hit the second trimester on Tuesday, but someone forgot to tell my body to throw a switch because I'm still Ms. Nausea and Exhaustion.


Got Blues?

Fuck all those chirpy quizzes. Here's one that's actually somewhat useful.
Shut Up!

Iz was home today, due to a lovely non-specific ailment characterized by massive boogerage from both her eyes and nose. No way any teacher was going to deal with that kind of ooze.

So, I had me a sidekick. A sidekick who, for the life of her, has lost all sense of the appropriate way in which to enter a conversation. She simply cannot stem the tide of thoughts that surge from within her brain all day--she has to tell you what she's thinking right now right now right now! Regardless of what you are doing or who you are already talking to! Even if you just asked her a completely non-related direct question--she has to tell you what's on her mind now now now!

I think it was Manny who pointed out that our girl most likely lacks an internal monologue. And usually, I don't mind--she goes to school for a good chunk of every weekday, and her fellow extrovert Seymour is here to siphon off some of her verbal energy on the weekends. Since she's my kid, I find her chatter charming--as long as she's not being rude to or interrupting anyone. "Ha ha, if most adverbs end in -ly then my name is an adverb!" (Thank you, Schooolhouse Rock.)

However, as you may guess, my current state of constant nausea and exhaustion means I have little patience for "Mommy I've been looking through your Sunset Garden Book and finding all the warning diamonds that tell us about dangerous plants and look this is lobelia and it contains poisonous alkaloids what are alkaloids but you have lobelia in the front planter with the nasturtium and we eat the nasturtium flowers and Leelo might eat the lobelia accidentally and and and..."

Since I've lost my already-thin patience reserves, I had to work extra-hard not to be a bitch with her today. I did not always succeed. Especially when she let loose with the nagging.

Seymour and I are on a hardcore campaign of "No means no; no does not mean keep asking me or please rephrase the question fifteen times." I tell her that, when she nags me, I feel like she is Sam I Am, and I am his nameless victim--except that I have a spine and will never, ever change my mind. As of today, this has sunk in only partially.

Her rude behavior is not limited to our home. Apparently she's been booted from circle time at school a few times recently, because she just can't shut the fuck up when asked to do so. We've been instructed to crack down on her, but I don't see how we can do more than we already are, punitively, without getting truly harsh.

Instead, I am trying to think up creative ways to encourage her to respect others' conversational space. It may be time to write her another book. Other suggestions are welcome.

I am also shipping her off to fucking Seattle for the weekend (with Seymour as chaperone). I am looking forward to a quiet, mellow three days with her much less chatty brother.


Special Diets and Autism

Leelo has been back on gluten (wheat and related grains) for five days now. His behavior hasn't taken any noticeable nose dives, no sir. Quite the opposite. On Friday he went up to MB, and announced "Dat's MB!" Everyone in the room was shocked and pleased. That same day his speech therapist told me he'd had his best session in weeks.

And (apologies, gentle readers) his bowel movements haven't been liquified, either. Those little logs are still rolling along. I am hopeful, oh so hopeful, that we can eventually phase in dairy, chocolate, citrus, peanuts, and sugar.

Now, does all this mean that the past nine months of special diets and vitamin supplements and dietary enzymes have been for naught? Hell no.

I firmly believe that autism arises from multiple causes: hard-wired genes, the environment (including lead poisoning), vaccines, and/or diet. But, as of today, there is no way to quickly pinpoint how a child became autistic. One of the only things a parent can do, can control, is dietary trial and error.

Hence the elimination diet. It was and remains complicated, but it is in no way harmful to him. Not a bit. As in, there was no harm in trying it, and now we may get to be fairly certain that diet is not a factor in Leelo's case.

In addition, his GI tract had been seriously fucked up by round after round after round after round of antibiotics--the poor boy had non-stop squirts. Putting him on a bland diet has given his little innards the resting period they needed to rebuild themselves. They seem to be able to do their job just fine these days, although they are still getting a little assistance from probiotics (heartily endorsed by his mainstream pediatrician, BTW).

Many autism professionals, particularly those in the ABA field, are skeptical when it comes to elimination diets. Some are outright hostile, and will make concerted efforts to dissuade parents from trying dietary approaches. Fuck them. They're not the parents. They don't have to live with the child; they won't be there in ten years.

Again, there is no harm in trying an elimination diet, other than inconvenience on the parents' part (note that inconvenience does not equal impossibility). For some children, this diet makes an incredible difference. For others, not a whit. But wouldn't you rather know?

Ways to get started

Read Karyn Seroussi's Unraveling the Mystery of Autism...
Novelized account of her son's recovery due to a special diet; a bit shrill, but compelling nonetheless.

Read Lisa Lewis's Special Diets for Special Kids
Causation, theories, recipes.

Find Yourself a Good DAN Doctor
Ask for recommendations from current and former patients. Some of these practitioners should be canonized, but I have heard of others who are costly bumblers.


Fecundity Timeline

If you haven't read the "Whine Whine Whine" post below, here's the gist of it: despite what I thought were acceptable precautions, I managed to get myself knocked up again. I am 11.5 weeks along. I'm not exactly ecstatic, given the one-in-twenty sibling autism risks, but I am guardedly optimistic.

Please don't think I take my overactive fertility for granted. I would characterize my outlook as more like that of Stuffy Pete; I am aware that I've been given far more than I could ever want or need, while others go without.

I wish there was a way to redistribute fertility fairly. Like Rachel, I would gladly spread it around if I could. However, given that the causes of autism are still elusive, I suspect my takers would be few.

Anyhow. Here is my history, which hopefully illustrates why I will never be one of those dildos who asks other women why they haven't hopped on the baby train yet. Apologies to longtime readers for whom this is all a retread.

Broken condom. Baby boy given up for adoption. (A baby boy who is not autistic, by the way.)

This was an almost-closed adoption, with pictures and letters trickling my way sporadically. Then his mother died in 1998 and their door slammed all the way shut. I've not heard a word since.

1990 - 1996
I radiate hate waves at every self-satisfied mommy and mothering celebration I come across, for my non-qualifying, unacknowledged maternal status.

February 1996
Surprise pregnancy. I am ecstatic, because, dammit, I really want a baby of my own.

Well, too bad. Turns out it's ectopic. Surgical intervention can't save the affected fallopian tube.

My doctor warns me that many women with ectopic pregnancies turn into repeat offenders, unable to conceive viable pregnancies. She thinks I should prepare myself for this possibility.

1996 - 1998
More hate wave radiating. Some, conflictedly, directed at dear friends. During baby showers I lock my emotional trainwreck self in bathrooms and hope no one notices.

April 1998
I beg my doctor for a hysterosalpingogram, to see if my remaining fallopian tube is useful in any way. Bonus: it's clear!

May 1998
I am pregnant! Apparently this is a common occurrence after hysterosalpingograms--like Drano for your tubes, they rout out sperm-deflecting debris and clear the way for fertilization.

This means that I can't go on June's Arctic adventure--the adventure I arranged--but I am willing to make the trade-off. Especially as it results in happy, beautiful, perfect little baby Iz.

March 2000
Holy shit, I am pregnant again. We were just starting to think about it. That's okay, we get happy, cute, perfect little baby Leelo.

March 2003
Except he's not perfect, say the people who hand us the autism diagnosis.

May 2004
And here we are.


And there you have it--the very last post on past caprices of my reproductive system. Scout's honor.
The Saddest Thing I Have Ever Saw*

Iz thinking sadly of her friend Audrina, whom she hasn't seen in 12 months. Guess I'll have to call A's mom.

*As always, points to those who get the modified quote.


Foul Mood, and Why...

I have vertigo again. Not quite at Sunday's emesis level, but intense enough that everything looks jittery and green and I want to lie down until tomorrow morning.

But Leelo is currently wearing the very last diaper in the house. So, off to the store. By the time I return it'll be time to release Therapist L, put Leelo in the car, and go pick up Iz from school. Today may have to include a movie marathon afternoon.

Also, our little fucker boy has yet to pee in the potty, despite four days of trying. He just loves peeing in those training pants (mmm, warm fluid all over my bottom!). So we switched him to briefs, which I guess doesn't really change the sensation all that much. As Supervisor M is still feeling optimistic about his toileting endeavors, I'll let her be the cheerleader for now.

The lack-of-potty-pee woud be disheartening enough if Leelo wasn't also a complete nutcase today. Up at 5 A.M., cackling and jumping and squealing and running and all those things no adult is ready for at that time of day. We dealt with it in shifts.

Is it because we let him have saltine crackers and puffins cereal last night--the dreaded gluten reintroduction? Or because he had a long nap yesterday afternoon on the way home from one of his various appointments? We'll wait a few days and see if he settles down before making any other dietary changes. He was a bit wacky after we reintroduced soy, too, but mellowed in four or five days.

Then there's Iz, who, despite my having put a good 20 minutes into giving her the requested "stegosaurus hairdo," yelled and bitched at me all the way to school today. I basically told her that she could bite me, in my calmest, kindest, and most loving mom voice. No one gets to talk to me that way. She gets to talk to no one that way. Subject closed.

And then there's the ending of The Ersatz Elevator, which I found honestly depressing. What is wrong with me? Not even listening to My Baby Portable Player Sound (as chirpy as a song gets) snapped me out of it.

Maybe a fresh new package of diapers will be the ticket.


Carnivorous Under Pressure

This afternoon the director at Iz's school pulled me aside, and told me that she's been thinking about our girl a lot, and that she really believes our girl needs to go to a school that can not only accommodate her, but challenge her. The schools she mentioned are all private ones.

Aiiiigh! Just when I was getting semi-complacent about Esperanza--IMHO a great school that knows how to challenge its students. And, anyhow, it's late in the game...aren't all the private schools full up for 2004/05? And don't they cost something on the order of $20K per year?

I don't have the bandwidth to think about this right now, not after I just found out about some seriously shitty crap going down in my wee cousin Sienna's family. I can't write details, but it's bad. It doesn't affect Sienna yet, but it may in as few as two months.

Forgive me, Ep, but the stress is making me desperate for a steak. Or duck. Or venison. Something meaty and roasted with a red center. Ideally accompanied by a berry/wine reduction, with pureed starches and wilted greens on the side.

Since I am a horrible, horrible snob about meat (so much so that I tell people I'm vegetarian), I will only eat it at establishments providing fine cuts indeed. So we are going to the local place. We are friends with the manager (by chance--she is buddies with Godfather M) so it will be cozy and friendly and soothing.

I'll resume freaking tomorrow, when I can spill the beans for the Bad Moms during Coffee. They'll fix everything for me. Yeah, that's it.
Dazed and Amazed

Leelo's potty training started yesterday. He thought it was great--unlimited access to his joystick? Wow! He even devised some of his own discrete trial phrases for the occasion: "It's a penis! Touch penis!"

He also used "I" correctly in phrases other than "I want...," announcing "I open door!" and "I in swing." As always, we'll take any progress. It's good. It's amazing.

No peeing in the potty yet. But it's only day two.

Iz continues to amaze me, too. It's a good thing I greet her proclamations with enthusiasm even if I'm doubting her internally, because she's usually right on the money.

Yesterday, while we were waiting in the lobby during Leelo's OT appointment, she jumped up and down and said "Mommy! I've made an optical illusion!"

Me, internally: "yeah, yeah."
Me, to Iz: "Excellent! Let's see it, sweetie."

Iz then showed me how she'd stacked a hollow yellow block on top of a hollow red block, and how, when you looked through them, it seemed as though there was an orange block between them. A textbook example of an optical illusion, except she figured it out on her own.

As if I should doubt the girl who was assuring plant shoppers at the RWC Nursery that it was "okay to buy Pride of Madeira because only its cousin, Echium Vulgare, is poisonous. But don't buy Foxglove if you have small children! If you want a safe plant that looks like Foxglove you should try Bells of Ireland..." and so on.

Now if they just didn't wear me out so much. I fell asleep on the couch last night at 9:30. Whew.


Misplaced Loyalty

Turns out that, in taking on Dragon Lady S last week, I was championing some equally thoughtless people. But, that's what I get for being so smugly proud of myself--a nice drop kick to the groin. And, yes, I'll find a new subject soon.

Anyhow, I finally got to tell B, one of the moms who witnessed S's Fenry Horde bashing--and whose child is a Fenry Horde student--about my telling S what was what. B laughed.

I then told her the part that really pissed me off--how S was indignant about F.H.'s integrating special ed students into regular classrooms. I told B that this hit particularly close to home, since Leelo is autistic.

B then said, "Yeah, that integration program is great. But you have to be really bad to qualify for that program. I mean, my friend's kid is dyslexic and she's nowhere near bad enough to qualify."

We have another winner in the tact contest! She got the blank, "I can't believe you are able to coordinate your lips well enough to form sounds," look from me, and then I turned away and ignored her for the rest of the birthday party. WTF.

Although I'm not sure she was any worse that the new pediatrician at our practice, who, upon my introducing Leelo to her and telling her about his autism, put on her lugubrious mask and droned, "That's one of the hardest things that can happen to a parent..."

First of all, how the fuck is a statement like that supposed to be helpful or comforting in any way?

Second, I can think of many, many worse things that could have happened to us as parents. Our delightful, funny boy could have been stillborn. He could have an incurable, debilitating, fatal illness. The list is endless.

Stupid bitches. Keep 'em all away from me, please.


My Kids Are Never Boring to Me, Apologies to the Rest of You

Leelo will start potty training this week. Thankfully for this lazy mom, the initial training will take place only during therapy hours. Whew! We have many pairs of those cute Bummmi training pants that are all cotton fleecy softness on the inside, and military-strength impermeable plastic barrier on the outside.

Leelo's been great lately. Crazy-great. Using "yes" or "no" with people who aren't me, Seymour, or his therapists. Giving hugs and kisses to other kids, and trying awkwardly to interact with them. Just being incredibly farking cute.

Makes me leery of changing his diet or supplements in any way, as he's doing so well now. But he's still self limiting to so few food items that we really want to reintroduce the dairy and gluten. Probably we'll take on dairy first, next week. Gluten a couple of weeks later.

Iz learned to tie her shoes last week (none of my doing. Did I mention how much I love her school?). She has been a one-woman shoe tying show ever since. Please don't ask her about it unless you have the time for a full two-footed demonstration.

Iz, wistfully, to JM, "I wish everyone was comfortable talking about reproduction." JM: "Me too, Izzy. Me too."

I called up Esperanza, Iz's school for next year, to ask about setting up an appointment with the principal. It sounded as though they may have been waiting for me to call. Ulp.

Seymour is running around with Ninja Warrior face paint on, courtesy of Iz. I am feeling like yesterday's illness happened to someone else. We're good, today.



What a delightful Mother's Day we had planned. First church, where we get to bask in the warm glow of freaky liberal spirituality while our kiddlings go to Sunday School, and then off to the coast for tidepooling and a gourmet early dinner. Sounds great, no?

No. Because I woke up with vertigo unlike any I've ever experienced. So bad that I couldn't bend over or turn my head without the whole world becoming a tilt-a-whirl. So intense that I barfed all the way to church. So sudden that I thanked heaven for Leelo's still be-diapered behind, and the resulting diaper disposal/barf bags I stock in my backpack.

At church, I tried to will myself into wellness, with mixed results. I remained seated during the singing so as not to fall over. I smiled woozily as we celebrated mothers, and knowingly as we celebrated women for whom this day is painful (this was me for eight years). I remained oblivious to Leelo rocketing past me out of the nursery afterwards, but thankfully Seymour noticed and retrieved him. I met the two-mom family who joined the church today, found out the excellent news that they are neighbors, and managed to call them "you guys" not once but twice. But, despite all the evidence of impairment, I somehow I figured I would be magically better upon viewing the ocean.

Not bloody likely. We arrived in HMB and I promptly started barfing again. Then I begged Seymour to take us back home. Where I slept or lay prostrate on the couch, and brooded about being sick on a day I already had off.

It is nearing midnight, and, thanks to Seymour's running herd all day, bringing me mu-shu veggies for dinner, and gifting me with a Totoro keychain and drawing techniques book, I am feeling somewhat better. Plus Iz was very sweet and Leelo had a great day. Fingers crossed for a much better tomorrow, 'cause I've got shit to do.

Hope your day was grand.


When the Enemy Has Your Mother

This is long, apologies. I don't believe Blogspot does that whole truncation/link to rest of blabbering thing.

My friends, partner, and I all know that our city by the Bay is part of a happy Liberal bubble. While it's nice to have everyone around you agree with your political views as ever so self-evident and justified, it also becomes perplexing (for me at least) to deal with aliens, er, conservatives like my mother.

My mother is an intelligent woman. I can't understand why she falls for the current administration's shiny pretty distractions and highly-waxed spin, every damn time. She loves to talk about how great these charlatans are. She insists on forwarding me every last drippy, faux-patriotic screed that comes through her inbox. She does this even though she knows I disagree with her, and that hearing her talk about politics drives me mad. Perhaps she carries on because, like me, she thinks that the other side has to see the light eventually.

Usually, when she starts going off, I tell her that the kids are about to jump out the window and that I really have to go. This worked earlier in the week, when she started going off about how badly and disrespectfully Rumsfield was being treated during his interrogations, and how the only one who had anything nice to say was Elizabeth Dole, who brought up how many hospitals and schools we've fixed, etc. etc. To which I couldn't help but point out that infrastructure repair is critical, but TOTALLY FUCKING IRRELEVANT to the inquest...whoops, sorry, Mom, Iz is tottering on the windowsill! Gotta go!

Then there are the days when I can't help but respond. I try to be even-handed, and to provoke her into thinking for herself. I suspect I just piss her off. But I'm trying to reach out, I really am. As I did two days ago when she sent me this:

> It is amazing how the facts are unimportant to so
> many, and how soon they forget! (Read through to the
> bottom!)
> "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq
> the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction
> and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom
> line." - President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
> "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our
> purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the
> threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
> program." - President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
> Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there
> matters a great deal here. For the risks that the
> leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or
> biological weapons against us or our allies is the
> greatest security threat we face." - Madeline
> Albright, Feb 18, 1998
> "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again,
> as he has ten time since 1983." - Sandy Berger,
> Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb 18,1998
> "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and
> consistent with the US Constitution and laws, to take
> necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and
> missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
> effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to
> end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -
> Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl
> Levin (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), John Kerry (D - MA),
> and others Oct. 9,1998
> "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of
> weapons of mass destruction technology which is a
> threat to countries in the region and he has made a
> mockery of the weapons inspection process." - Rep.
> Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998
> "Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building
> weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his
> cronies." >- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of
> State, Nov. 10, 1999
> "There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has
> invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate
> that biological, chemical and nuclear programs
> continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status.
> In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery
> systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit
> missile program to develop longer-range missiles that
> will threaten the United States and our allies." -
> Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham
> (D, FL,) and others, December 5, 2001
> "We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein
> is a tyrant and threat to the peace and stability of
> the region. He has ignored the mandated of the United
> Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction
> and the means of delivering them." - Sen. Carl Levin
> (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002
> "We know that he has stored secret supplies of
> biological and chemical weapons throughout his
> country." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
> "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has
> proven impossible to deter and we should assume that
> it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -
> Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
> "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is
> seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -
> Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002
> "The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October
> of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains
> some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons,
> and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
> build up his chemical and biological warfare
> capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is
> seeking nuclear weapons..." - Sen. Robert Byrd (D,
> WV), Oct. 3, 2002
> "I will be voting to give the President of the United
> States the authority to use force-- if necessary-- to
> disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly
> arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is
> a real and grave threat to our security." - Sen. John
> F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9,2002
> "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is
> working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and
> will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five
> years .. We also should remember we have always
> underestimated the progress Saddam has made in
> development of weapons of mass destruction."- Sen. Jay
> Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002
> "He has systematically violated, over the course of
> the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution
> that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his
> chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear
> capacity. This he has refused to do" - Rep. Henry
> Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002
> "In the four years since the inspectors left,
> intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has
> worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons
> stock, his missile delivery capability, and his
> nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and
> sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members..
> It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam
> Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage
> biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying
> to develop nuclear weapons." - Sen. Hillary Clinton
> (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002
> "We are in possession of what I think to be compelling
> evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a
> number of years, a developing capacity for the
> production and storage of weapons of mass
> destruction." - Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8,
> 2002
> "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein.
> He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an
> oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly
> grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to
> miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating
> America's response to his continued deceit and his
> consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ..
> So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass
> destruction is real" - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA),
> Jan. 23. 2003

I stewed for a while. Why does she send this shit to me?

But eventually, I became pleased. Because she sent it to a big group of friends and relatives, and doesn't know how to bcc:. Because she gave me an opportunity to reach some complacent conservatives, and maybe lodge an uncomfortably nagging tickle in the back of their brains:

Hi Mom and friends,

This is indeed interesting.

While I admire the research this person did in compiling these quotes, I would have appreciated an equal amount of effort going into finding the instances in which the quotees were perceived as contradicting themselves.

The reason is that I doubt any of these people are going to deny that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that something needed to be done.

What Mr. Bush's critics are saying, and rightfully so, is that the specific tactics and information he used to take our country to war were badly timed, misleading, and fraudulent. Not that we shouldn't have done anything. Not that we should have kept our noses out of it.

I urge each and every one of you to research this matter yourselves. It is too easy to get swept up in a calculatedly divisive wave of emotion based on skewed information, or a quick email forward.

With much affection,




Iz's drama class is going to be putting on play next month: The Cat in the Hat. Today they chose roles. You'll never guess who our girl is. No, really. Or rather, of course: she's The Fish.
"Dear Friend,

The images of abuse in a U.S. run Iraqi prison couldn't be more disturbing. Disturbing too is that Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense knew about this and didn't take immediate action and didn't even inform the leaders in Congress. John Kerry is calling for Donald Rumsfeld to resign because he's lost control of Iraq -- and John Kerry is also asking us to show support for his decision by endorsing his statement here:


I did -- and you should too."

via moveon.org

Or, rather, I did, and I hope you will, too. Not only because these abuses are inhuman and abhorrent, but also because anything we can do to knock out Bush's puppetmasters is a step towards justice, sanity, and democracy.


Where Does the Pollen Go?*

Sometimes, when your kid tells you that she understands what you mean when you tell her the topic of reproduction is not necessarily appropriate for preschool, she is lying. Or just so excited that she can't contain herself.

For instance, I arrived at school just in time to hear her tell her music teacher and class that "my mommy only has one fallopian tube because a pregnancy got stuck in the other one and now it's all scarred and closed down, but it's okay because she still had me and my brother."

The teacher was too stunned to say anything, so I told the class that what Iz said was true, and that I'm not embarrassed about it, but that most people consider these matters private. The teacher and students seemed okay with my explanation.

I hope so, because one of the things I am trying to convey to Iz is that it's okay to talk about pregnancy loss. I don't want to turn her into a pregnancy pessimist, but I also don't want her growing up thinking that pregnancy loss is a taboo subject, or that it's something rare that only happens to other people. It's happened to almost everyone I know. The resulting grief can be unbearable. No one should have to put a lid on that kind of sorrow just because it isn't polite conversation.

Anyhow, on the way home, we came up with a method for ascertaining whether or not it is okay to talk about sex, etc. with someone. We practiced it a lot this afternoon. I hope it sticks:

--Iz to potential information overload victim: "Are you comfortable talking about reproduction?"

--If the victim says yes, then tally ho!

--However, if the victim says "No," then Iz is to say "Okay. I'm glad I asked."

Later on as lovely Seymour was bringing plates of pizza to us two lounging couch girls, Iz announced "So, Daddy has a circumcised penis?"

I laughed, and said, "Yes, he does."

But poor Seymour, he turned both red and around, and had to go collect himself in the kitchen for a moment before he could finish delivering our dinner.

Then Iz and I once again practiced how to ask someone if they're comfortable talking about reproduction.

*If you get this quote, then you either must have horrible taste in movie musicals, or were forced to watch the film in question Clockwork Orange-style.
Off to Coffee

With the Bad Moms. Except I gave up drinking coffee at the end of March (which explains a lot of the recent grouchfulness herein).

So, off to steamed soy milk. If you laugh at this drink as more evidence of my being a wanker from California, then you've obviously never bothered to drink of this nectar, and your life is that much the more pleasure-impoverished. Poor you and your prejudices. And no, I'm not being defensive, so fuck off.

I am supposed to be writing the newsletter for Iz's school, and delivering it by noon. I should have written it yesterday. But I am disorganized, and chose to bake chocolate chip cookies with the kids instead. Then Therapist L got stuck in traffic and was almost an hour late this morning. But I'm not going to fret or stay home--I am going to have not-coffee with my nasty little friends, and turn the newsletter in this afternoon. Sue me.



I am restarting flute lessons. For the first time in 20 years. I am certain my teacher will privately invent new synonyms for "ineptitude" and "tuneless." I am also certain that I will have a great time.


Delivery Mechanisms

Iz, loudly and while sitting in a crowded lobby waiting for Leelo to finish his occupational therapy session: "I really love the part of the book about testicles, and how they're the heart of the whole sperm machine!" Once again I draw strength from not knowing a single person in the room.

We've decided to take Leelo off his separate dose of magnesium glycinate, since he was taking a magnesium megadose specifically to complement his B6 megadose. His remaining multivitamin supplement contains sufficient magnesium to balance its B6/P5P.

I am so very excited about his super-simplified new dosing schedule that I am posting it for all to enjoy.

For contrast, here is his old dosing schedule.
Kiddie Dispatches

What's going on with Leelo:

We've got him off of vitamin B6 now, since, according to Seymour's research, the P5P in his multivitamin is equivalent. This vitamin and supplement regimen is scaling down to a non-gripe-worthy simplicity.

His diet is becoming much simpler, too, even though he's still off gluten, dairy, meat, peanuts, and sugary items. The addition of soy makes a world of difference. I'm sure the people near me in the grocery store last night were wondering what the hell all those yelps and yippees! were about, but I couldn't help giving a whoop each time I discovered something else he could eat (margarine! ready-made gluten-free waffles! soy milk!).

We also added in bananas at the end of last week. Just a few bites at a time, so as to not push the sugar envelope. He loooooves them. I am going to make him some banana bread this week (I tried making it with rice milk, and while it tasted good, the rice milk wasn't rich enough and it came out all crumbly).

None of these dietary changes are affecting his behavior or bowel movements adversely (sorry, queasy-tummied readers, but that is how we track his progress or regression).

He is doing well with the yesses and no's, generally. Although he's started to do his standard overgeneralizing in the wake of a major breakthrough, and gets the two confused on occasion.

His sleep patterns, on the other hand, just suck. I think we're still dealing with the aftermath of Daylight Saving Time. He won't go to bed. Sometimes for up to two hours. I think we'll just have to start waking him up earlier in the morning.


What's Going on With Iz:

I got her a wonderful book about reproduction, families, and sexuality of all types. I figured we'd read it together this weekend. So imagine my surprise when I came back in the house after an early morning gardening sanity break, and found Iz not only awake, but most of the way through the book already. I guess I didn't put it up high enough.

She was not at all grossed out or worried...quite the opposite. She is thrilled that she already has eggs in her ovaries, and, as soon as she hits puberty and starts releasing the little buggers, she wants to have quintuplets.

One more reason why it's fun for American kids to read lots and lots of classic English children's literature; then they start talking to you like this: "Mommy, would you kindly make me a doll's dress, just as I have described?" That is verbatim, I shit you not. Good thing she was in the back seat of the car, so she couldn't see Seymour and me turning red in our attempts to NOT LAUGH.


African Dispatches

The Fates were watching over us last night. We hadn't decided on a specific Ethiopian restaurant, but then Ms. Jane spied one on our left, and an open parking spot (miracle!) on our right. We ceased thinking and surrendered ourselves.

The signs from on high continued. Not only did this place serve my favorite vegetarian combination (red lentils, yellow lentils, collard greens), but they made their own T'ej. I was thereby transported to heaven, leaving Jo and Ms. Jane bewildered as to where I'd gone.

After I descended back to earth and drove home, I finished off P. Therrroux's latest Africa travelogue. The man may be a grouchy cuss, but he's got a flinty-sharp mind, and knows exactly who to goad. His slow, exacting eviscerations of the do-gooders he meets along the way, and his analyses of how these closed-minded ninnies usually compound the problems they seek to remedy, are a pleasure to read. My hands are now itching to bludgeon each and every one of the misguided with a copy of Patrick Marnham's Fantastic Invasion.

It's been a while since I read a travelogue. I used to adore them, but after a couple of years I realized that few strayed beyond the wacky natives/goofy traveler/was-THAT-the-wrong translation formula. The locations ceased to matter, and the books started to make me angry. So much so that I now believe Bill Bryssson and Stuart Stevvens should be tossed off a tuna boat, bound together and smeared with fish guts.

I can still tolerate a few travel writers, including Mr. Therrroux. He, Barrry Lopez, V. S. Napalm, and Pico Iyeer--when focused--are able to weave history and their own meditations through their narratives. The books become more than just comically illustrated passports. A reader actually learns something. That's all I ever ask, really.


Going East

By mySELF this afternoon, in search of a little quiet, and a good Ethiopian meal in Oaktown/Bezerkeley. Might even meet up with Jo and Ms. Jane. Rah!