Off to the wilds of Northern BC. In two hours. Herding two and 1/2 kids by myself, as Seymour's in the vacation hours hole and can't join us for a couple of days. I am brave and strong and have done this many times! But, Aiiigh! There are still errands to be run and much packing to be done. FUCK.

I believe this may have to be a coffee day. Sorry, little nugget. We are at 18 weeks, you and I; I'm guessing you're strong enough to take one or two caffeine jolts.

My crew and I return on the 11th. I will be offline during the interim. But before we go, I'd like to profess my undying love for Jo the airport chauffeur, Badger the genealogy wizard and bringer of bleach, and Ep the house, cat, plant, and fish tender. My friends rock the Casbah.

Goodbye/Au Revoir! (got to get ready to be in Canada).


Blogging Through a Block, for Leelo

Something that may come as a surprise to those who slog through these pages on a regular basis or know that I previously made my living through the craft: I hate writing. I really do. It hurts! Ouch. Like pulling fingernails. I don't get how Jo and Badger can sit down and shoot out those beautiful, streamlined, crystalline, seemingly effortless paragraphs, because I will remain forever trapped in thickets of unnecessary articles and adverbs.

But being given free license to ramble on--now, that is something altogether different. That's why I don't consider my blogging Writing. If I did, I'd be paralyzed. I'd have to ask Ep to edit me before posting--but since she would get apoplectic about my abuses of grammar, verb tense, and punctuation (specifically parentheses), no entry would ever get published.

Having this blog outlet can be helpful when I find myself up against a deadline. For example, I am supposed submit an explanatory paragraph or two for an upcoming Leelo's Day photo exhibit. I was supposed to get these paragraphs to photographer JM several yesterdays ago, since he will be installing the show next week while I am frolicking on Lake Warshington.

And I tried to start the paragraphs several times, over several days. I really did. But I never got past staring at a blank page. Then it occurred to me that if I wrote them here, I might actually produce something.

So, here goes. I'll let JM chop them into suitable shape for the show. And I won't tell him that I blogged them first, because he dismisses blogging as equivalent to scrapbooking. The twit.


Leelo is a three year old autistic boy. These photos are glimpses from a typical day in his life.

Leelo has marked deficiencies in his speaking, listening, and social skills. These are common characteristics in autistic children, and occur because they lack their peers' innate ability to learn through observation.

To help him better learn how to communicate--to be in our world as well as his--Leelo spends several hours a day working one-on-one with specially trained therapists.

Some people think this type of therapy is too intense for such young children. I wish these naysayers could come observe Leelo, and see the obvious delight he gets out of being taught how to learn, out of his guided playgroups, and out of life in general.
Where Did This Girl Come From?

A big entry on Miss Iz; turn away now if you've a sensitive stomach. Those who see me in daily life have heard much of this already since I am a one-note player piano.

Saturday afternoon was spent celebrating the marriage of our friends Lewis and Darling. They irked everyone by eloping six months ago, so this party was meant to placate the masses, and provide a general excuse for a hootenanny. (They eloped because they're both in their 70s, and have so many friends and (in Darling's case) relatives that they didn't see how they could have an uncomplicated wedding.)

It was great to see and chat with friends we don't get to see all that often. Lewis's perplexing son Spot and lovely daughter-in-law Roon were there, as was, in a surprise visit from Oahu, our friend Twister. All boisterous, gleeful 6'4" of him.

I assumed Twister was here for Pride weekend, but that was a happy coincidence--his official mission was coaching a student at a Stanfford diving competition. He says he comes this way often with his students, so I'm hoping we'll get to see more of him in the future.

One of the hootenanny highlights was an honest-to-gosh group of folkies--these boys used to play with the Smothers Brothers, etc. Sure, go ahead and mutter A Mighty Wind under your breath; you're not the one who experienced their sublime rendition of Scotch and Soda.

They wrapped up with a crowd pleaser, "This Land Is Your Land." Iz loves this song, and sang along at the top of her lungs. The crowd was mostly sixty-somethings, so her voice stood out. The band, tickled to see such a wee girl grooving to their old time tunes, pointed to her, and said "take it away, honey!" And she did! In front of fifty strangers, she stood up and sang a whole solo verse--clearly, in tune, and totally unabashed.

I'm telling you, I don't know where this girl came from. At her age, I would have picked death first. Seymour, outgoing as he is, also lacks that particular nerve.

Afterwards, the band came up to Seymour and Iz, and demanded that we put our girl in some sort of music lesson posthaste. They also complimented her on her big blues, and asked her where she got them since Seymour and I don't have them. "Well," she said, "My parents are blue-eyed carriers." Guffaws all 'round.

It is incidents like these that make me worry less about shoving her up with the slightly older kids next year. That, and, having gone to the bookstore looking for bribe material for tomorrow's trip, and finding the loathsome Summer Learning series. I looked over the huge, thick, boring book bridging the summer between first and second grades, and found perhaps two items Iz would need help with: upper level addition, and upper level telling time. The rest of it was, for her, basic.

Of course, this is the same girl, who, when presented with a book and told that it explains the difference between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, gets so excited that you'd think we'd offered her a pony.

Her book hunger edges into karmic retribution territory (I was infamous as a child for playing with visiting friends for five minutes but then retreating to my room to read). Last week I made the mistake of taking her to a mommy/daughter lunch directly after she'd picked up a big stack of books from the library, and so had a quiet lunch by myself while Iz pored over Fabulous Poisonous Animals and occasionally treated me to tidbits such as how black widow spiders like to spin their webs over outhouse seats. (As if worrying about Flukie lurking in the outhouse wasn't enough.)

I've decided to see if we can use her book-love to help her learn other skills as well. Outgoing five year old girls like Iz are, in my experience, generally quite rude. Mostly because they're so excited about what they're excited about, and can't wait for their turn to speak or to summon up the polite way to make a request. So, I've come up with a politeness scheme to help her become less of a verbal battering ram.

Every time she makes a polite spontaneous, non-premeditated request, she gets a point. If she interrupts or is otherwise blatantly rude (we are not being draconian), she gets a point taken away. When she gets a set number of points, she gets a book. The number of points increases each time. We are not using a chart; I'm having her do all the addition, subtraction, and tracking in her head.

So far, this is working beautifully! With us. She's having a rough time remembering to be polite in more general social situations, but it's only been a few days.

There are only two downsides. One is that she finishes her books instantly (so much for my break). She does retain the information, though ("Okay, so what city was Teddy Roosevelt police commissioner of?" "New York City." "Who were the White House Gang?" "His Kids.")

The second is that she's been turned onto, and is constantly requesting, these horrible, horrible, horrible Junnie Bee Jones books, in which the kids are smarmy, smart alecky, and have no concept of proper English. As Ep said, this is the literary equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. GAAAAAH!

Still, she's enjoying having goals during this otherwise formless part of the summer. And we're enjoying the torrent of questions that comes out when she's not reading, even though, again, we sometimes wonder where this girl came from that she can even conceive of such things.

A few evenings ago, she and Seymour were having some daddy/daughter time. Out of the blue, she initiated the following conversation:

"Daddy, is Leelo always going to be autistic?"

"Well, he's going to get a lot better, but yes, probably."

"What causes autism? How did he get it?"

"Well, sweetie, we don't know yet, but we're pretty sure it's genetic."

"So is the new baby going to be autistic then?" (?!?!)

"It's possible, but chances are that it won't. It's really unlikely."

And there you go. Recording for my journal, and wondering what the upcoming years with this girl, and her brother, are going to be like. Maybe this new baby will be easy? I will cross my fingers.

Off to panic and pack for tomorrow's trip.



I don't know about you, but I love Jackie Chan. Sure, he's made some unpardonably silly movies, but he remains cheeky! I recently read an interview with him in which he summed up my general approach to life:

Interviewer: In a fight between you and Ahnuld, who would win?
Jackie: Well, he is stronger, but I am tricky and can run away very fast.

There you go.

In other news, I started feeling those first little kicks and head-butts this weekend. So I guess this really is real. Perhaps I should start investigating things like, erm, cribs. And I will. After we get back from Canada/Seattle, in two weeks.



Three hours after I sent a thoroughly pissed off, bitchy letter to a fellow Esperanza parent--asking what the hell to do about La Principal never ever ever responding to my calls or email--La Principal herself calls to tell me that they've created a space for Iz in first grade.



Autism and Mercury, Yet Again

One of those days. Craziness! Instead of my ramblings, I'll treat you to a thought-provoking article on why we can't yet discount the autism/mercury connection, from the wonderful Wampum folks.

El Suspiro de la Monja

A few weeks ago I recycled box upon box upon box of old papers. I sifted through them first, and found some fairly amusing drawings from my school days. Maybe if I took another lecture-heavy class, I'd be inspired to draw more?

This one was my favorite. Now you know what nuns think about when they're praying: Klingons, ¡por supuesto!

Back in the Office

I got booted off the computer for two days. My brother the pilot, his girlfriend, and 14-week-old baby Picard (cute!) arrived for a surprise, whirlwind visit, and replaced our computer chair with a porta-crib (our quarters are teeny). Seymour had the laptop at work, so I was an analog girl until the guests left this A.M.

Still battling bronchitis. GO AWAY! says I. This sucks, especially the part with the spasmodic cough that leaves me gasping and hitching. I don't want to go to the Dr. because she will most likely throw drugs at me, and I've not taken so much as a Tylenol since getting knocked up. Badger, veteran of many an interminable bronchitis bout, had much good advice about steam and garlic, etc.

Meanwhile I feel oozy and lightheaded, my chest hurts, I'm very tired, and I am wondering if I can beg yet another night off from beleaguered Seymour. I am also thinking that people who get sick more frequently than I do are probably not so whiny and wimpy about it. I just want to sleep!

Leelo is sick too, with a lingering cold. For him, being ill means crap crap crappy ABA sessions. He seems a bit better, and he still did have some good progress such as multiple pees in the potty, but before today he was all vocalizations, jumping, and poor eye contact. The eye contact got so evasive that Therapist L had to resort to basic holding-cheesy-puff-at-eye-level tactics to gain compliance. The therapists haven't needed to to do that for months.

Now of course I am fretting about whether or not the illness and behavior are stemming from the dairy reintroduction we implemented twelve days ago. Aiigh! Why do these things always happen simultaneously? I am forcing myself to be rational, and acknowledge that if he is still "off" after the cold goes away, then we will have reason to worry.

Seymour has asked that we ban P33-W33 Herman for the time being. "He's Leelo's favorite!" I whine. "Yes," says Seymour, "but P33-Wee constantly demonstrates random vocalizations, hand-flapping, and the sort of spazzy behavior we're trying to help Leelo contain."

Oh. Fuck. He's right.

I've pawned Iz off on neighbor Tea and her babysitter. Let's see how the boy likes DS9 repeats. (In case you think I'm an unsalvageable dork, please let it be known that I'm not the one who named my daughter Ezri. That was one of my fellow churchgoers.)


Autism Notes From Field and...Pool

On Sunday we went to young Xander's 5th birthday party. At a gym, with trampolines and big pits of block sponges and balance beams and climbing areas--pure heaven for both my children. It is no coincidence that this ideal party was hosted by dear MB, also mother to Leo's autistic peer Sophie (a/o to Jo's Sophie).

I noticed that one little boy, Drew, was sporting a floral headband. Yay for his parents in letting him wear whatever the hell he wants, I figured.

It turns out that Drew, all 5 and 1/2 years of him, was autistic. I would never, ever have known that something was up had MB not specifically mentioned it, and introduced me to his rightfully pleased mother.

MB said that Drew has been in an ABA program for two years, and that he was not speaking at all when he began. That blew the top right off of my head, because I had assumed he was neurotypical (NT) based on language skills and eye contact that were indistinguishable from those of his peers.

Once I'd been clued in, I spent a lot of time observing him (easy to do, since he was in Iz's group). I noticed that he asked more questions than the other kids, and also needed occasional reminders to stay in line, etc., but nothing outside the bounds of NT kids--many of them are like that, too. Amazing.

I also noticed how quickly he obeyed any direct request or command. An ABA child, for sure. He also happily joined in when Iz was commanding Leelo to pretend to laugh. "Pretend to laugh!" Drew repeated, in perfect form. (Leelo, flummoxed at being given instructions from two people at once, got overwhelmed and ran back over to the balance beam.)

Now I want MB to write me a list of Drew's exact symptoms prior to ABA so we can tell ourselves that our children will end up just like him!


Yesterday afternoon was Iz's first swimming lesson of the summer. I wasn't looking forward to it, because I needed to bring Leelo along, and had no idea what to do with him during that half hour.

Turns out I needn't have worried--this place has a Leelo's-thigh high toddler pool, and our boy was happy to frolic there indefinitely.

The frolicking was convenient, because it gave me a chance to talk with another mom who happened to be there. Diana has a six-year-old with Asperger's, a preschooler who seems fine, and an vaccine-free toddler. (Diana's refusal to vaccinate her toddler got her bounced from the pediatric practice of our wonderful Dr. G. Fark.)

It was interesting to hear about her Aspie son Matt, a child on such a different part of the spectrum. Matt's issues are purely social, e.g., he doesn't understand that it's not okay to punch another kid in the face for knocking down a block tower. He will follow instructions to apologize afterwards, but doesn't really get why he's saying "sorry."

She has been through hell for sure, since other parents (I've heard them), the teachers at the two schools Matt got kicked out of, and even psychologists have tried to pin his problems on shitty parenting. Thankfully she found an organization that, through over twenty hours of testing, was able to pinpoint her son's condition and get him into an appropriate school.

Which makes me wonder if being able to pass as NT, as Matt does, is such a great thing for kids like Leelo and Sophie and Drew. Both Diana and Matt get constant grief about his behavior from snippy strangers, who of course can't understand why such a big, obviously intelligent boy would act like that.

Matt is lucky to have such an intrepid mom--she refuses to keep him shuttered up at home, even though going out means intensive surveillance on her part. I hope to continue to observe and converse with her, as she seems an excellent role model.


Excellence, Followed by a Glimpse Into My Mean, Petty Little Heart

Lovely moment this morning: Iz and Sophie on the swings, discussing how they will be able marry each other easily, since they're not sisters. Yes, little girls, by the time you're of age, I hope and suspect this will be true.

I cajoled them into choosing Hawaii as the wedding site. "The Big Island!" says Iz. They want to have the ceremony on the side of a volcano "But not too close!" says Sophie "We don't want the volcano to explode on our heads!"


Yesterday's sermon, our minister's last for six weeks (what?!), had some excellent points. About how we must strive to gain more knowledge about the positions of those whose viewpoints we oppose. Not merely to snoop for the next argument's ammunition, but rather to grok.

(I will try harder. But it is difficult to imagine how I will keep my temper under wraps and my mind open during an upcoming vacation with a brother who works in the DOD, and refers to Rummy as "...a very rational man. Perhaps too rational.")

She also said that if we tried to understand people more, we'd have fewer conflicts on personal and international scales. Modified quote: "We can't go to war against the Malians! I know those people!"

Then she said that she'd fielded a lot of questions about the homeless ministry from a few weeks back, and wanted to let us know what their mission is. Which is...to bear witness. To listen to people, provide eye contact, give voices to the voiceless. But most assuredly not to "fix" homelessness.

(Right. Because there are enough people working to fix homelessness already.)

I am so going to whatever passes for hell in UU land. None of her pleas for compassion and empathy can pierce this spiteful, callous breast. I am too busy focusing hate rays at our neighbors, who told us that they couldn't afford to go in on fixing our jointly-owned, falling down fence. At the time, they had just started driving a brand new Swedish SUV. Perhaps that tapped them out, I figured.

Two weeks ago, they installed a huge new redwood playset. We've got a similar though smaller one, purchased with the last of the loot from my Silicon Valley carpetbagger days. I know how much those fuckers cost. About as much as a really nice fence, even if you install the playset yourself.

This weekend, they started installing a new pergola. Not a cheap little $1400 jobbie, no sir. This is a massive structure, with at least twelve timbers that Ep's Clyde and I estimated to be 20' long. I don't know what you know about wood, but that is edging into astronomically farking expensive territory. Clear heart, or salvaged only. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of non-fence dollars.

(Assholes, snarls the hellbound petty little asshole next door.)

The sweetness and light will resume pouring forth tomorrow.
Less Poking

Leelo is off accupressure as of Saturday's nightmare session. He will no longer sit still, and I no longer have the strength or stamina to wrestle him into compliance. Whew! I am happy to axe that hour of driving from our schedule.

I think we've gotten all he needed from the sessions, anyhow--Leelo seems fully clear of the food allergies that brought us there in the first place.

One of the funnies about this practice is that the woman who owns it is married to our DAN doctor. She is not the only accupressurist he recommends; our choosing her was chance. But their never-discussed partnership brings about the occasional weird event chains, such as my getting a call from her receptionist this morning, recommending that I go see the DAN doctor. Apparently he wants to put me on a homeopathic treatment regimen to counteract the food allergies he suspects I am passing along to my kiddies in utero--including this new one.

The ookiness, to me, is that I haven't spoken to him personally since I got knocked up. And Iz isn't allergic to anything except clean up time.

Whoops--Iz just smushed silly putty into Sophie's hair. Shit. I can't imagine an outcome that does not involve scissors. Thankfully Sophie oozes style and confidence, and can carry off any hairdo.


Hard Data on How Leelo Is Doing

Now that my parents are gone, I've been dragged back from West Marin, and my lungs are being somewhat cooperative, here is Leelo's latest program update. (All reports and updates come from the amazingly talented and productive Supervisor M.) Oh yes, he's kicking butt, as is his incredibly dedicated therapy team.

Two weeks ago, Seymour and I sat down with Supervisors M and Andil for an overall program review. The results were cheering, even though we know our boy continues to be dramatically, and increasingly, different from his peers.

Overall, we are pleased that Leelo mastered 133 tasks between 9/03 and 4/04. Supervisor Andil told us that a baseline for success, for determining whether or not ABA is an appropriate therapy for a child, is a mastery of 22 tasks within one calendar year. Our data has spoken: we are doing the right thing.

Our boy has some good generalization skills. He is imitating four word phrases during NLP (where others model phrases for him in a natural play setting). Supervisor Andil says this verges on unusual, and that three word phrases are a huge accomplishment for these kids at this age.

Not so good: Still lots of banging his head on couches and beds, and smacking himself when he gets frustrated. We're going to work on giving him words to use instead, and take data on these behaviors to see if there's anything underlying them besides pissiness at being denied. Again, Supervisor Andil piped in with words of encouragement, letting us know that one out of five young children use head banging as a form of self-calming. (That means that twenty percent of your kids are freaks, too. Ha!)

During the summer his team is going to conduct a series of standardized tests to determine if we're overlooking any specific areas of needed skills development. What the hell, at least they'll be doing the testing at our house.

Conclusion: He's still a loopy boy, but, with the herculean assistance of his team, he is starting to figure out how to coexist in both his and our worlds. No small task, that.


Iz coda of two quotes, since I record such things nowhere else and her formality made me laugh outright.

"Well, Mommy, as I told you yesterday..."
"I drank a fair amount already, thank you..."
Butthead Lives!

While in Point Reyes, I made a pilgrimage to the Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop and got a souvenir logo t-shirt.

Now, most foodies--even foodie-wannabees like me--know that those Cowgirls make the finest cheeses this here West Coast ever curdled.

But to everyone else, including my inner Beavis, my t-shirt gets a double take. "Huh huh, you said creamery, huh huh." (Fire! Fire! Fire!)

In other news, and as I just wrote Badger, I am perky and ambulatory today, though still sporting an excellent deep phlegmy cough. It is perfect for elicting the "how dare you come near my precious offspring" look from nearby mothers of small children.


Rambling Wuss

I made it until around 2:00.

Before then, The kiddlings had a video-rama afternoon, highlighted by Potty Time with Bear (please take interest, Leelo, please), Pee-Wee, and Totoro.

Like a good webhound, I used part of the video interlude to diagnose myself with textbook acute bronchitis. Treatment: rest, fluids, dullness.

Then I begged Badger to come get Iz and ferry her off. Sweet, kind Badger. And praises to beneficent Jo for hosting whatever took place after they left my doorstep.

Made it until about 4:00 with just me and Leelo. Then I pulled that white flag out and called Seymour home early from work. Sweet, patient Seymour.

Laid in bed for a good long while, dozing in and out, staring at the ceiling, unable to read because holding a magazine or book aloft required too much effort. Then I remembered that sitting semi-upright seems to minimize the phlegm production a bit, and keeps the coughing down.

So here I am. And here's what's on my mind. (Mostly the kids, since I inhabit a pedia-centric universe.)

Should I be so proud about Iz's drawing a pair of star-shaped sunglasses, and declaring that they belonged to Bootsy Collins? I believe I should. Better this than she see such eyewear as being given provenance by Elton John (I respect the man, but he can't hold any sort of funky candle to Bootsy).

I am touched and hopeful that our brash, mercurial little girl drew me a happy flower tableau on her magnadoodle, with a big "Get Well Soon!" in the center.

I have no problem being proud about two unprecedented things Leelo said today:

Upon being asked what he had in his hands (usual response: specific name of object only), he said "I have letters." Not "N and M." Progress! More gears clicking into place!

Also, he looked me in the eye while I was serving him his snack, and said "Mommy, I want more banana." WTF? F! He has never used my name as anything other than a wail, and certainly has never addressed me. Damn damn damn.

He may very well abandon both phrases, but for now let's give our boy a hand!

Realizing how disinterested I am in belonging to any sort of mother or parent community. Most books or articles about parenting make me sneer in disbelief (Suckers! Your perfect world is going to get fucked, just like mine! Wait and see!). Even the normally dependable Brain, Child contained much to annoy me this month. I would rather read less cuddly and more visceral material.

Hoping that, once this illness wanes (tomorrow? please?) I can start thinking clearly again, or at least like myself again. Resume being pleasant, or at least cheerily joustful, to my dear partner. And friends. Start drawing again (I couldn't while I was away, I tried). Start aligning verb tenses properly. Start operating at more than 50% of capacity.

If you made it this far, go get yourself a cookie. You earned it. I am done.

I have a gross lung/respiratory/super-phlegm thing going on, so, briefly:

-We put Leelo back on dairy five days ago. No pure milk yet, just things with dairy in them, like Cheerios, naan bread, croissants. He is in heaven, and I've never seen food disappear that fast without prestidigitation.

-I had an OB checkup six days ago. Got to hear the wee heart go thump thump thump--excellent. Everything seems fine. My doctor isn't worried about my not making it to the hospital in time; she says I should get in the car and go the moment I start having real contractions. Oh, and I had my blood drawn for the AFP blood test yesterday (screening for neural tube defects, etc.). Results in a week, they say.

-Seymour and I cornered the Esperanza principal after the orientation on Friday. I will have to write more about that later, since I feel like crapola. Short version: She doesn't really seem to want to deal with us, but said she'd call us by the end of this week. Not terribly reassuring.



There: 60 degrees F
Here: a fucking furnace

There: Fireplace, hot tub, room service, perfect silence under lacy oak trees
Here: Um, we have oaks

There: No chidren. Apparently children under 14 are not allowed within 20 miles of Point Reyes National Seashore
Here: Many loud children (and one sweet quiet Moomin)

There: Perfect hale hearty health
Here: Instant head cold and faucet for a nose

But I am happy to be back. Forty-eight hours is usually all I require; then I start pining for those other three parts of my soul.


Sweetness in Triplicate

1) Seymour over date night dinner last night, talking about what a great kid Iz is, and how we can't ship her off to Shannon because he has far too much fun with her and would miss her too much. (Curses! says I.)

2) Seymour and my mom gazing at the heavens together, and staying up chatting until the wee hours every night. (Those poor extroverted souls couldn't beat a conversation out of my dad or mini-dad me if they tried.)

3) Me: off to Tomales Bay for two solo days of reading, drawing, and mollusk observation. See you Wednesday!


Gloves Off

I don't truly dislike all that many people. I will rationalize bad behavior on almost anyone except my neighbors' part, indefinitely. Getting all lathered up about some sub-human is just not worth my time.

Unless that person is a recidivist (say it together: "repeat offender!"). Unless that person continues to piss me off over an extended period of time. Unless that person is truly and utterly a dick.

Take, for instance, a woman whose children attended the same co-op preschool as Leelo last year. Co-op in this case means we parents worked alongside each other in the classroom. It means I spent far too much time with this woman, silently repeating to myself, "We don't hit or bite other people. Hitting hurts. Biting hurts."

I have never met a more pompous, opinionated, unsympathetic person in my life. We all know people like her: competent, well-organized, humorless, and honestly, vocally flabbergasted by people with different approaches to life. Dicks.

She went on my list within five minutes of my meeting her, when Leelo was barely two years old and had no interest in drinking from an open cup. She took one look at him, and, with slightly lowered eyelids, let me know that her kids have always drunk from open cups, because sippy cups just prolong an awkward stage of development. Bitch!

Her remarks were always delivered in the most righteous tone imaginable. She knew that Iz was at a Montessori, but even so took over a parent meeting with a tirade against so-called "academic" preschools, going into great detail about how she would never put her children in such a soul-draining environment, and how parents who did that to their children were just...so...wrong!

I always derived a certain amount of satisfaction from the fact that she looks like a skinny little frog. A frog whose head you've just stepped on, really hard.

But even telling myself she was the ugliest fucking thing I'd ever seen couldn't get me over the things she'd say. She'd say them in cases when even her fellow dickheads would have known better, such as right after Leelo had been diagnosed, and I'd let the class know what was up with him. Then she still had snide things to say about his difficulties in sitting still during snack time.

I was sad to have to leave the school so that we could concentrate on Leelo's ABA program. But I was ecstatic at the thought of never having to see her again.


She was sitting in the audience during the Esperanza school orientation this afternoon.

(cue Theme From Psycho violins...)


Am I the only one who gets redirected to a Polish error message page upon trying to access the Plain Layne link to the left?

Leelo went pee in the potty today! After three weeks of trying, and refusing to go when on the pot unless wearing undies! There is hope!

I do not think it is any sort of coincidence that this happened during Therapist F's first real working shift. I am so, so happy that she's back!


Obnoxiousness Personified Sports Red Hair Ribbons

I invest a good deal of energy in teaching my kids to be polite and respectful.

Apparently I might just as well have spent all that time doing macrame, based on how well my children have internalized these teachings.

Today was the year-end performance for Iz's music class at school. During the introduction to one of the songs, the teacher pulled out a ukelele, and mentioned that the teeny guitars are from Hawaii.

Iz, loudly, and with neither a raised hand nor an "excuse me": "Actually, ukeleles aren't originally from Hawaii. They were brought there by the Portuguese."

Now, I am pleased that our girl knows something about her grandfather's culture. But it is too bad that my dad was changing the video tape when this happened, or he'd have had a nice shot of mortified me sinking through the floor.

Is This What It's Like?

One of those days. I am trapped inside my mind, like Luke and Leia in the Death Star's trash compactor.

Some of it has to do with the fucking unfairness of the world. If you tell me that you can read any of these links without crying (even if you're a crying on the inside kind of clown), then you're a damn liar.

Some of it has to do with just being me at this point in my life. With trying to pretend that I'm happy to be pregnant, when in fact I'm terrified. Fear about this baby being autistic has me paralyzed. I can't sleep properly, speak properly, or read anything more than three paragraphs long. I'm not writing or drawing. I will drone on about three subjects: My kids, my stupid neighbors, and...oh, wait, that's only two.

So, if I seemed disinterested or detached lately, don't take it personally. It's not you. Unless you really are boring.


Naked Butts Are Funny!

Iz, as she climbs into bed: "Can I put jammies on Bunny?"
Exhausted Grouchy Mom: "Nope, sorry. Bunny's going commando tonight."
Iz: Snort, giggle.
Green Thumb, Unlike Mum

Iz with the dinnerplate Dahlias she planted herself. Five dollars says that if I had planted them, they'd never have bloomed.
My Parents Are Here

For a week. And they are helping out tons with the kids, so I can do things like fart around on the computer when I should be the one preparing pesto/sun dried tomato appetizer thingies for Iz's recital tonight (culinarily, my personal timeline stops at 1994. Maybe I should add some roasted garlic?).

I get to take naps. It get to run away to Point Reyes for two nights, by myself, next week. I am grateful.

But did they have to bring the entire contents of their fridge with them? "Honey, it was all going to go bad!" Ewwwww!


Here's Some Action

(I hope that title won't get me targeted by p0rn spammers...)

Salon magazine is doing a "four-part series celebrating those who have fought to advance civil rights."

Today's installment, the first, is about the Haven Coalition, a group of folks in New York who provide lodgings and companionship to women forced to travel there for second-trimester abortions (legal in New York, ever-so-not-legal in places like PA and ME).

Haven is grassroots, volunteer-run, and has no overhead. They direct donations straight to women in need.

This is the kind of action I like to learn about.

You may need to be a Salon member to read the article. If you can't access it, email me and I will email it to you.
Happy Birthday Badger!

I am off to ring in another year of mustelid merriment and mayhem!
Two Happies

Beloved Therapist F came back from Australia after a four-month absence! (Leelo greeted her as though she'd never been away, with a nonchalant "Hi, F.") She will start working with him again, tomorrow!

Beloved Therapist L is going to come to Seattle with us so that Leelo won't have such a big break in services and go completely off his rocker by the end of our vacation!


Compassion vs. Action

Today's sermon was given by a woman from a homeless ministry in the dodgiest part of The City. She was passionate, she was eloquent. She was a gifted storyteller.

She was singularly uninspiring.

As she told us how she spent four days "learning to be homeless," living on the streets, I became increasingly upset. Although she told of real need, of desperation, of ingenuity, of hardship, and of grace, all I could think was "How dare you, you fucking tourist? Whose shelter bed were you sleeping in, whose free soup were you eating?"

She became filthy, stinky, hungry, and cold. She experienced pity and rejection from outright strangers due to her appearance. She learned how exhausting the life was, walking miles every day from shelter to soup kitchen to shelter. How little dignity was left. How sleeping in the daytime was safer.

But it was all about her, not the people she was with. And, as she could have gone home at any time, I am not interested in her experience. I am not interested in how she learned to be more compassionate.

She was at a fucking UU church. We worship at the altar of social action. The compassion thing, that was a given. We have overstock, we don't need any more.

I wanted to know the stories of the people she talked to, and learned from. I wanted to know what they need, what they want. I wanted to know what her ministry does to assist these people in tangible ways. I wanted to know what we should be doing to help.

She never once mentioned what we should or could do to help.

Seymour listened to my rant above, and assured me that her ministry probably does all the things I was railing on (and on) about.

So what. I now know what it felt like for her to be homeless. I still don't have any useful information. And I think she did her ministry a disservice today, however wonderful she and they might be.

To me, the sermon was an example of the worst kind of liberalism. Waving a bleeding heart around like a totem, without demonstrating any useful tools, maps, or directions. All talk, no action. What is the fucking point?

I am in the same place I was before she showed up, except now I'm pissed at her for squandering the opportunity to do some real good.

And, yes, I was grouchy before she showed up.


Does This Administration Scare the Fucking Pants Off You?

If not, then I don't know what sort of rock you're hiding under, or used to hit yourself on the head. Another person who writes/quotes it better than I, Ms. D., elaborates.
Help Kick Some Political Ass for Autism

Mary Beth Williams of Wampum is trying to win a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in this Tuesday's election. There are many reasons why she, and not the members of the good old boy network she's battling against, deserves that seat.

A critical reason is that she is a tireless autism advocate, and we need more people like her in the government, at all levels. She is also brilliant, and is the kind of Democrat I dream about. Dwight Meredith, another Wampum author, has spelled out the rest of the reasons more eloquently than I can.

Again, the election is on Tuesday. She needs your help--her campaign isn't funded as well as those of her adversaries. Even if you can only donate $5, I suspect it will help. You can donate from links on both the main Wampum page, and on her campaign page.

Mary Beth, we are rooting for you, and only wish we could vote for you, too.


What a Brag

As warned, I hereby exercise my right to spout off about my kids. They are amazingly fucking awesome. Cute and snuggly. And, like this blog, they are mine mine mine.

Had an interesting time watching Iz play with her United States puzzle. Iz's handling of this toy (which I bought for Seymour out of horror when he and I first started dating and I realized he didn't know his States) was one of the first indicators that our girl had other things going on upstairs. It has a big stamp on it: "ages 5 and up."

Iz could put the whole thing together, by herself, at 27 months. She knew the states by shape, and had all their names memorized. She could tell you something funny or unique about each. "Mississippi?" "That's where Elvis was born!" "Iowa?" "That's where Captain Kirk is from!"

We haven't played with the puzzle in eons, so I pulled it today to see how much she remembers. And she remembers a lot--but because she can read, she can now also fudge. Because the puzzle frame, otherwise blank, has the states' capital cities printed on it, in the correct locations. So instead of wholly remembering what each state looks like, where it goes, and how it fits in, she looks for the matching word on the puzzle piece, and plops the piece in place. Sigh. At least she now knows more capital cities than she used to.

She wrote a good-bye letter to JM's daughter R. On it were several crossed-out drawings that our perfectionist girl considered sub-par. I guess Iz thought they might be distracting, so she put a note on the bottom: "Mistakes happen, to my recollecshun [sic]."

She keeps coming up and kissing my belly, "kissing the baby." She really is a sweet girl.

Leelo's been doing lots of good cool things. Remembering that this funny shape is called a parallelogram, and that that funny shape is called a quarter circle. Finally, for the first time every, successfully pulling his pants up over his big diapered bottom. Putting any requested object in the trash can--in the next room over. He might be doing that "get mommy a beer" run sooner than we thought! Though it'll be a ginger beer for the next while.

I felt very excited for both Seymour and Leelo tonight. Seymour gets the pointy short end of the stick where the boy is concerned, as Leelo's optimal interaction time falls during those hours when his dad is at work. Seymour usually comes home to a little boy who's been a performing A.B.A. monkey all day long and had no interest in talking to or complying with anyone. My dear partner rarely sees evidence of the "fabulous progress" the rest of us always crow about.

Tonight was different. Tonight, Leelo threw a steady stream of requests at Seymour, many of which we'd never heard before.

"I want to go outside! I want to go on the swing! Open the door!"

"I want to go on a walk!" (!?!?)

"I want to go in the kitchen!" (He knows the word kitchen? Since when?)

"I want to read a book! I want Max's Breakfast!" (He knows "read a book?" Since when?)

Obviously, we'd like him to get beyond "I want" proclamations. And it'd be nice if he could communicate by nodding, shaking his head, or waving. But Seymour felt good about this. I feel good that Seymour gets a feel-good moment.


Annoyed semi-non-sequitur: Why the fark can't I find a James Brown video clip on the Internet? Granted, I only looked for twenty minutes, but damn. You'd think there'd be something classic right on top. Guess it's time to see what the public library has to offer.
The Hypochondriac Cha-Cha-Cha

Turns out that cramping at 14 weeks is totally normal (although it's never happened to me before). My OB says, patiently and without letting on how annoying my hypochondria is to her, that as long as it doesn't hurt when I pee, I'm not bleeding, and I don't have lower back pain, I am fine. She thinks that it's probably brought on by my low fluid intake (yes, Kim, you were right), since I don't like to drink anything when I'm nauseous.

I said "So, can I work it, then? Should I be taking it easy?" She said "Sure. But you should be taking it easy anyhow while you're pregnant." Oh, yeah.

Yesterday we bid a tearful farewell for real to JM and her girls. Iz sobbed all the way home from the park. She wants to get on a plane right now and go visit.

My cousin JP gifted me a huge box o' maternity duds. Many are very cool. Today I am sporting a slinky black dress, bangles, and makeup, just because I can. And because I should take of advantage of this lull before my pregnancy potato nose appears. Hopefully no one will look at my prickly unshaven legs.

I am trying to lure Therapist L up to Seattle for our visit there next month. Leelo does so much better when his therapy breaks are shortened, and she would get to have a faboo vacation--in the afternoons. I am definitely working the fabulouness of Seymour's folks' place angle "...and you can walk right out the door to the dock and get on a SeaDoo and ride all over the lake and it's only 7 minutes from downtown and there are hiking trails everywhere and they cook gourmet meals every night and and and..." A very lovely alternate reality that I hope appeals to her sufficiently.

She's going to let us know on Monday. Fingers crossed.


Live at Madison Square Garden!

It's 2:00. I am supposed to be at Leelo's accupressure appointment. Although in order to arrange that I had to beg a pick-up favor from Ep, since Iz's school also gets out at 2:00.

But I'm not wrassling with Leelo in order to get his howling, flailing little body to comply with the accupressure treatment, nor am I running after him on the lawn of Iz's school, hoping that I'm still fast enough to intercept him before he makes it to the parking lot.

Instead, I am taking a breather while Leelo watches a video, and watching my conscience get pinned to the mat by my common sense.

Why? Well, my 14-weeks along belly has been feeling twingey lately. Twingey in a way that could be stretching pains, or could be contractions. It's most likely the former.

But I have to remind myself that, the last time I didn't listen to my common sense and worked my arse off and stressed myself out (during Iz's pregnancy), I got my butt slapped on bedrest for two entire months.

I can't take that risk again. There is no way I can go on bedrest during this pregnancy.

So, I am going to relax as much as I can for the next 45 minutes. Ep, I'll be by to get Iz in an hour. Thanks for understanding.


Loosey Goosey

Random rounded up bits:

Today, June 1, 2004, was a big, big day for Miss Isobel Rosenberg. She not only lost her first tooth, she swallowed it! And even though she assured me that I could don latex gloves so as to search for the missing item in tomorrow's output, I declined, we made a fake Sculpey tooth, and we put that under her pillow tonight.

Here are three local members of the New Tooth Brigade:

Iz, sans tooth.

Merlin, doing the shark thing with his new teeth (totally normal, according to the dentist).

Iz's cousin Danielle, a few steps ahead of the rest.

Anyhow. I don't know what books the other preschoolers brought to share today, but I suspect that Iz was the only one toting One Hundred Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden.

Good Leelo things. First, language. He's added "Bye-bye!" to his repertoire, for when he's done with someone or something. So, "Bye-bye, Mommy!" would be followed by a shove.

He's figured out "Where is?" and will use it when motivated. Example from 4 A.M. last night, using perfect enunciation: "I want some water. Where is the water?"

His incessant jargoning is increasingly including intelligible words and phrases, much like toddler practice babble--perhaps this tic has a function after all. It is fun to eavesdrop and pick out meaningful phrases.

He seems to be making the connection between the potty and his bodily functions. Twice over the weekend he ran and sat on the potty, saying "Pee pee in the potty?". In both cases he did so only after he'd pooped in his diaper, but it's another teeny step in the right direction.

Food continues to be a battle. He's a pain in the ass about reintroductions--he was apparently fine with his little routine of five bland foods, and sees no reason to change anything. Strangely, he sometimes gets really excited about a reintroduced food the first time he has it (e.g., scramble eggs, pineapple tofu cutlets) but afterwards will reject it completely.

I'm not so worried about some of the rejections--he gets soy in his Vegggie Booty, and I can hide eggs in his pancakes--but I got really worried when he started rejecting wheat bread. So I put on a tiny, teeny dab of raspberry jam. Minute. And now he announces all mealtimes by yelling "Peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I want a sandwich!" (They're made with almond butter, but...)

So I guess we're experimenting with high-sugar foods. Also, we ran out of rice bread today, so he had three meals with wheat bread in them (up to this point we'd only been letting him have gluten for one meal per day).

Maybe the sugar and wheat overload contributed to his loop-de-loop behavior today--or maybe he was punchy like me from his 3-to-6 A.M. party session. Regardless, Therapist L was able to get him to focus well for his therapy and playgroup sessions.

As long as I'm rambling...

Sadness and fun mixed it up yesterday as we Bad Moms and partners bid adieu, BBQ-style, to Good Mom JM and her family. They move to New Jersey on Thursday. JM, a dear friend and veteran ABA therapist, was instrumental in hooking Leelo's program up. I don't know what we would have done without her. I still don't know what we're going to do without her.


Bright spot: My friend Emsie, who I rarely get to see because, well, we don't work together any more and are both very busy, came by for a wonderful visit on Sunday, and gifted me with a Sondre Lerche CD. It is fine indeed, and I am grateful.

Speaking of music, Iz got to wear her new James Brown t-shirt today, but only after she proved that she could say to anyone who inquired that he is "The hardest working man in show business and the Godfather of Soul."

Enough rambling. Good night.
I Heart Marsupials Who Can Code

Wombat--one of the funniest and most talent-overloaded people to ever help me pillage an expense account (have you ever bought good sushi in London?)--finally has a blog. Only three entries so far, but maybe we can make him write more? Go! Goad him now!