Kick to the Chest

I am a fan of Brain, Chi1d magazine, and have been ever since Jo turned me onto it three or so years ago. It's still too polished for my tastes; articles on even the most wrenching subjects are still written with poise and unmistakable clarity, rather than the gut-churning immediacy I crave. I learn a lot, but the articles rarely reverberate; they never make me choke or cry. Regardless, it's the best parenting mag out there.

The latest issue features a piece called Stopppage, about a woman's decision to stop having children after her first was diagnosed with autism. "Hmm, fascinating!" I thought, and plowed through. Diagnosis, heartbreak. Yep, gotcha. Various therapies, confusion. Oooh baby, isn't it true. And then, a quick kick to my chest: "And it all worked."

What? WTF? Who sucked all the oxygen out of the room?

Now, I realize that every writer's experience is her own, and that she is not beholden to anyone, not required to soft-pedal her own experience so as to spare tender-hearted readers. She is not writing to me. But my gut reaction is what it is: I want to throttle her.

How dare she drop that bomb without qualifying it, without mentioning that her son's case is far from typical, and that, having seen what her son's life could have been like, that she realizes she is the most fortunate mother she has ever met, and she gets down and kisses the ground every morning?

I might spread some slack her way if she didn't know any other autistic children or their parents, and so had no conception of how glorious her miracle is. But she also wrote that her neighborhood has more than 15 autistic children in it. My fucking God! (And what the hell is in the water there?) She should know, should KNOW that most kids, while capable of great improvements, don't get to drop their diagnosis in a year and a half like hers did.

Maybe she is trying to give hope, to let others know that what happened to her child is possible for our children, too. But there are too many of us out here who hitched our wagon to the recovery stories of C. Maurice and K. Seroussi, only to discover that their kids aren't our kids. Our kids are doing well, but more than two years into our "journey," no one is ever going to mistake my child for a typical child.

Again, she is not beholden to me, nor to anyone else. But I think that anyone who writes about autism needs to consider the desperation and fragility of the parents involved. These are the parents who track down every autism-related article available, and so are the most likely to be reading Brain, Child for the first time because of this article. As one of these parents, let me tell you that her unqualified, one-liner take on her son's recovery felt like a smack in the face.

I'm going to end it there because Leelo's morning therapy just ended, Mali is hungry, and I need to pick up Iz from the airport.


Lovely to Look at

What is it with ABA therapists? Therapist C, who is taking over for Therapist F when she moves back to her home country-that-is-a-continent next week, is here for her first day of training. She is, of course, drop-dead gorgeous and sweet as candied orange peel.

I thought perhaps the trend towards traffic-stopping looks was limited to our immediate experience (Therapist L is, and Therapist T was, in the same category), but Supervisor M confirms that the ABA conferences she attends are full of women who are too good-hearted to sign those supermodel contracts. And, for some reason, schlumpy guys.

Meanwhile, the Iron Gate moms report that their partners are all very, very sad to see Therapist F go. Not nearly as sad as we are, but then their needs with regards to her are somewhat different than ours.

I am still working on the Long Story. Which isn't really all that long, but it's longer than two minutes of jot-time allows for.

Poor Mali. I thought she had a blocked tear duct like Leelo, but by yesterday evening her eyes were rivers of goo. Off to the pediatrician this A.M. Again. We still haven't quite settled the vaccine issues with them, so it is going to be a cagey environment until things are finalized.

Another third child story: I still have her in size one diapers, because my brother and his partner gave us a gross of the things, and my policy is that if we haven't run out of them, then they still fit her. While we were up in Seatttle I used a size three on her (Seymour's parents have five grandchildren under six; they stock such things) and it fit beautifully. No leaking or pinching. Imagine!

She continues to be very alert, very into observing all that goes on around her. Happy to see us from across the room. So intrigued by the water I was drinking last night that she tried it herself a few times (it all dribbled down her chest, but then I was using a cup, not a bottle). Thrilled that her hands work so well, and that she can bring them together to grab and manipulate items and shove them in her mouth. A darling, cheerful baby.

My last trimester is almost officially over. I'm shedding, leaving that lush pregnancy hair wherever I go. Still have the talons, though. I'll have to post a picture before I cut them off--which I will have to do because my hygiene is not up to the task. Stinky stuff gets stuck under long nails.

Leelo had a sadness party in his room from 1:30 to 4:00 last night. Seymour and I took it in shifts, but we're both still dragging. I wonder if he misses Iz?


Before the Long Story

Leelo has not, so far, had any reaction to going off Amphotericyn/hard core antifungals, that I can discern anyhow. It has been eight days. His behavior and language have remained wonderful, which is surprising since travel is usually stressful for him.

He did have more BMs than usual this past weekend (two during our flight home, praise the Goddesses of Lactation who put Mali on the tap both times; praise my patient husband for tackling both with good humor), but I suspect this is because I was too damn lazy to bring his refrigerated probiotics on our trip. Though the manufacturers say it's no big deal to miss a couple of doses.

We were going to try another supplement in two days, but today Leelo asked for Veggie B00ty for the first time in two months. We really, really want to do only one change at a time, so I guess VB is our Leelo factor for the next ten days.
Long Story

I know I said that I wouldn't post any more Mali pix, but this is really the last one. She is wearing the cutest outfit ever, but that's not the point. She is driving past a Seatttle storefront that residents of that town may or may not be able to identify. Not the point either. The point is her riding in a big girl car seat. Leelo's car seat, to be specific (it can be positioned to face backwards). And the reason she's in it is part of a very long story, which I will relate later on when I have the time and hands to do so.

Hope you all had a great weekend.


My Nice Twin Writes for Iron Gate
I don’t know about you folks, but these days my reading is mostly limited to cereal boxes, bills, and 'inspirational' email that no amount of protest can prevent my mother from forwarding.

Thankfully, Teacher K knows how to cut through that haze. Our latest reading assignment is the excellent 'Rec1aiming Chi1dhood: Letting Chi1dren Be Chi1dren in 0ur Achievement-0riented Society,' and it is a pleasure. I won't bore you with a rehash since by now you’ve already read it; instead, I’ll tell you what I walked away with: a renewed appreciation for patience.

You are probably thinking, "I've got patience coming out of my ears! Am I not a parent? Do I not work in a co-op?" And yes, dearies, you’re right. You are and you do. But the patience this book advocates is not the kind that keeps you from flushing certain types of electronic toys down the toilet, or from locking your child in a sound proof room after a particularly trying day.

This book describes the kind of patience needed to afford your child the opportunities to create their own learning experiences, without adult interference or prodding. I know this is an Iron Gate credo, but it is still--for me at least--not always easy to remember while in the trenches. I too often find myself wanting to shape the kids' experiences instead of letting them be.

When I can remember to maintain patience, to watch rather than interject, the rewards are multiple. The child I think might be angry at another instead shrugs and offers to help the other out. Dumping a bin of blocks turns out to be a deliberate exercise in taming chaos. And, most deliciously, when not forcing myself on the children, I often later get invited to join in the fun.
Want to Make Five Bucks...the Hard Way?

My Iron Gate newsletter article is due tomorrow. I don't really feel like writing it, so how about if one of you write it instead? Three or four middling paragraphs about kids aged three to four and their parents doing the co-op experience is the frame. Fill it in however you like. We leave for Seatttle tomorrow afternoon, so have your entries in by noon PST. I'll post them, yes indeedy I will.



First: Yay, Jo got her house!

No blogging much of late as Iz has been home sick since last Thursday (barfing/farting flu turned into conjunctivitis turned into faucet-nose), and Therapist F is still honeymooning. Amazing how many errands a person can run with three kids in tow if one really has to. And if one begs suckers friends like Ep to please just come sit in the car with the squallers while one runs into a restaurant to pick up dinner.

Today was conference day at Iz's school. In the last three months our girl has turned into a model student, and the teacher couldn't be happier. Only problem areas is intransigence re: facts, even when multiple sources confirm the opposing position. Example: she read somewhere that Lincoln was the 17th president, and no amount of subsequent class outrage/presentation of posters or homework sheets would convince her he was 16th. Gotta admire her gumption, but still.

When I got home I told Iz about fact checking, and how, if you can find three published references to a fact then it's probably good even though your previous reference was different (although this is admittedly a method from pre-online days). She was skeptical. I later told her a bedtime story about Tyler, a new little girl in her class who kept tricking Iz into believing erroneous things about Star Warz episodes Iz has not seen, until Iz used some critical thinking techniques to maintain their friendship without having it turn into a daily battlezone. And the little girls' speeches at the end got very dry and silly and in the story Iz eventually asked Tyler why she sounded so much like me instead of like a six-year-old girl. Then Iz and I busted up and I promised to tell her a better story tomorrow. And perhaps we'll look up "didactic," together, too.

Leelo is still doing beautifully, despite a runny nose and what appears to be a bladder infection (pink pee today; one benefit of potty-training is the wee potties' collection devices for ready specimen inspection). I am worried that an infection will mean antibiotics, which would be really a bad idea as he just went off the anti-fungal Amfoteracyn as of two days ago (the anti-fungal was combating the yeast overgrowths that resulted from all the previous antibiotics' killing off the good gut bacteria with the bad). Although Dr. G does think it might be viral.

Today and yesterday he did a solid half hour of stilted yet entirely Leelo-led engaged play with me and his farmyard animal quartet--entirely verbally from my end, as I was in the nursing chair. He would present each of the four animals to me and announce what they were. Repeat several times. Then he'd say "Cow says..." and I'd have to fill in the blank. Or I could start and he'd fill in. After five minutes of this with the same four animals I then said "Leelo, kiss the [f***ing] cow!" Then it was another 10 minutes of "Leelo's kissing the XXX! I kiss the XXX!" I told him to have Iz kiss the cow and he immediately did so: "Izzy kissed the cow!"

Another great thing is his mastery of the generalization of "no." This is one of the first words kids tend to learn, and he had it for a bit before he lost his language. His use of it now is so natural that it took me a while to realize it was new. He's using it in reaction to our asking him to give us a stim toy, his Btwelve shots in the butt, trying to get him to put on his coat, etc. Basically where you'd expect a kid to do so.

Mali had her 4 month check up yesterday. The doctor said our girl's been reading the textbooks, as she's right at the 50th percentile for everything. 13lbs 5oz, 24 inches. The only developmental thing the Dr. asked about that she wasn't yet doing was pushing herself up on her arms while on her tummy, but then of course she did it when we got home.

And can I just write how much fun it was to bring all three kids to that appointment. Even the extremely patient homyopathic pediatrician was glad to see us leave after Iz polluted her bathroom and then "forgot" to flush (WTF is up with her still having to be reminded to wipe, flush, and wash), Leelo then responded with a diaper bomb of his own (which Dr. S asked me to change out in the car) and spent the rest of his time trying to destroy her office. If I'm ever in this situation again I'll cancel the appointment instead.

Dr. S asked me if we'd tried homyopathy with Leelo. I told her we've been working through various approaches and haven't gotten there yet. She told me to read Aimee Laynky's Impossibly Cured, about an autistic child's recovery using those techniques. Turns out Ms. Laynsky's giving a talk in these parts next month, so perhaps I'll go to the talk instead. No harm in hearing what she has to say.

Dr. S also asked about our take on vaccines. I said that at this point I was only really considering the HIB, as I haven't found anything troubling about it during my research. She said that HIB meningitis is extremely rare, and that in her opinion it is kind of silly to pick one of the many kinds of meningitis out of the air and mess with a body's immune system for a single factor. Hmmm.

Therapist F returns in two days, and possibly will only be working two more days before leaving for good. We have not had much luck in finding a replacement. One candidate who seems to have the aptitude has no actual ABA experience, and the other candidate with experience has not yet confirmed our interview for tomorrow.

I miss my friends. I miss having any semi-time to my semi-self. Iz, go back to school! New therapist, materialize now! Mali, you can stay if you take some decent naps.

Anyhow. To bed!


Blessed Arrival

Congratulations to the wonderful folks over at Peter's Cross Station. This is the blog no longer known as Waiting for Nat--Nat has arrived!

This is not new news, but since I now inhabit the slow-as-molasses universe, it's news to me.

I have also found what may be an ideal present for a Christian co-mom: A Noah's Ark playset, flying the Pride flag. Say the word, dearies, and it's yours. And then you can tell those lame-assed people at Fysher Pryce that Noah's wife's name is Naamah.
Because I've Got to Know...

How does a person dispose of yellow credit card slips once they're no longer needed? One is not supposed to put them in the trash because they contain the last few numbers of one's credit card and a copy of one's signature--but what are the alternatives? I used to burn them in the fireplace, but that is now inconvenient, what with three curious graspy-fingered children about. Meanwhile I've several years' worth in boxes in the closet.


By Comparison

Who is this Mali baby? She looks nothing like her siblings at the same age:

Guess which babies are which?

This is the last set of baby pix I'll be posting, as Mali is beginning to look like a real, unique, rather than random, baby.

Ways in which Mali is similar to her siblings:

Like Leelo, she has given up the binky, at just about the same age. Like him also, she loves sucking on her hands. Though with Leelo we couldn't get the mitts out of his mouth by this age.

Like Izzy, she is a very social, chatty baby who likes to sleep with her hands next to her ears.

Unlike either of them, she has stick-straight hair. No one in either of our families has straight hair. Alien baby!

She is grasping and kicking at things with her feet. Putting everything within reach into her mouth. And doing a bundle of other things that I'll remember in the middle of the night or when changing a diaper or when trapped in the rocker with a heavy sleepy please-don't-wake-her baby in my lap and can't get to a pen or a keyboard.
One for the "Well, DUH" File

A recent article in the LA Times describes how the Texan school districts with the highest rates of environmental mercury just happen to also have the highest rates of children with autism.

Gotta love this excerpt:
"The study does not prove that mercury causes autism, cautioned the lead author, Raymond F. Palmer of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, but it provides a "provocative" clue that should be further investigated."

Also love the part where they mentioned how an outlier county with high autism rates lacked correspondingly high levels of tracked mercury emissions--then mentioned that those folks lived next to the region's biggest mercury mine.

All this makes me ponder the chelation issue once again, even though I just had a conversation with Dr. P, our good biomed/DAN! doctor, telling him that we weren't pursuing that option.

He had called in response to a fax I'd sent him asking about the next steps for Leelo's biomedical program. And here they are:

-Take Leelo off of Amphotericyn (anti-fungal)
-Start TMGEE
-Start Folycal
-Start Glootamine

He wants us to introduce those first, before reintroducing NewThera, Calcium, and Cod Liver Oil, and introducing CoCuTen. He said we should wait 72 hours between introductions/changes, but I think we're going to wait 7 days just to be absolutely sure.
Bouncy Bouncy

We are considering getting a trampoline. One of those big round ones surrounded by a net. Since I have no impulse control, were it up to me it would have been installed already. However, Seymour is worried about it being an attractive nuisance. Anyone out there have a story to tell or opinion to share on the subject?

BTW, Iz is on day two of a nasty flu bug. Barfing, sleeping, headache (but not stiff neck), sore throat, and tons of flatulence. Not to mention grouchy. Oh yes, she is the ideal companion with whom to be trapped in the house in the rain all day long.

Seymour stayed home with us yesterday as we'd already had the day slotted to play hooky and go to the aquarium, but today he's putting the (other) yoke back on. Anyone who wants to drive by and toss care packages on our deck is welcome to do so.



Today, Leelo discovered the cats. Poor dears.

He has been chasing them around all day, demanding "Pat says 'MEOW!'" and "Scabby says 'MEOW!'"

Then he will run after them chanting "Pat is a cat! Scabby is a cat!" while they flee in terror.

He is also trying to pet them, and grab them for bear hugs. Cats dig that kind of love, oh yeah.

Then he gets sick of the whole deal, and pushes them both off the top of the couch.

Any kind of interaction is good, right?

Her Reaction

Took Iz to ice cream today, and casually mentioned that one of Leelo's classmates' families just adopted a baby. She asked why one would do something like that, and I gave the standard answer about sometimes women get pregnant accidentally, and are then not in a position to care for the child. Followed by a discussion of the people we know who are adopted. She was moderately interested.
I then told her that I had given up a baby boy when I was 20, for the previously described reasons.

Her reaction: "How old were you when you had me?"
Me: "Twenty-nine. A lot can happen in nine years."
Iz: (looking pensive)
Me: "What's on your mind?"
Iz: "I'm adding 6 + 9. So he's fifteen?"
Me: "Around there."
Iz: "How did you get pregnant?"
Me: "Uh, the usual way."
Iz: "I mean WHY did you get pregnant?"
Me: "My birth control didn't work" (ed. note: see Mali)
Iz: "You should have used Saisonelle!"

I'm sure she's going to have lots of questions, but for now she seems to be remarkably unimpressed.


Things You Never Want to Hear a Six-Year-Old Say

"Mommy! Come and see what I've done with the toilet paper!"


Seymour has a new email account! Write him and give him some love. seymour D0T rosenberg AT gmail D0T com. (Do not substitute any names.)

Leelo now thinks it's funny to reply to requests with a big laughing "NO!" and a roll away. Charming when we're late getting Iz to school and I'm trying to get his shoes on. So guess who walked to the car and back shoeless this morning? It's not worth the effort, folks.

Frantically typing as I've five thousand things to do (oh, God, this pig sty of a house is stressing me out) and one never knows when the sleeping baby will awake. A ten minute nap? A one hour nap? Who knows!


Start of a Loverly Weekend

Leelo has been having so many great things going on; it's wonderful. I hope it lasts but am happy even if it doesn't.

He is definitely generalizing "I want to (go) play." He uses it in a variety of situations (at home, at playgrounds, at Iz's school with the big play structure right outside her classroom). It's a fairly abstract concept, don't you think?

Lots and lots of interactive singing, and requesting for us to sing. Loves singing and doing the actions for "Criss cross applesauce."

Lots of initiated interaction, coming up to people and saying "Hi, X" spontaneously in a way that means "pay attention to me, I want something."

Unique new phrases/commands he's using on us: "Come here, get off the bed!" "Follow me" "Get out of the chair" "Stand up" "sing, Mommy!" All but the last are spontaneous; I'm still coaching him on asking me to sing rather than starting the music and looking at me expectantly.

Getting a kick out of playing chase. He'll come up to me and say "I'm going to get you!" meaning that I need to repeat the phrase and then go after him. He'll prompt me through the whole circuit: "Here I come!" "I got you!" This results in several loops around the living room and peals of laughter.

Very very affectionate and snuggly, more so than usual--"I want a hug," snuggling his head right into the hollow of my neck, wanting kisses. Just so much more present.

Fascinated by the fruits and vegetables that Therapist L has been using to help him practice saying "no." During breaks or during non-therapy hours, he now asks for these items and spends a good like while examining them (limes, ginger, garlic, etc.). Okay...

Physically things are getting better too, in terms of coordination and gross motor skills. He can now balance on one foot while taking off a sock, without having to steady himself with the other hand.

There's more going on but it's all happening so fast that my sieve-brain can't track it all.

And then there's the why why why all this progress? Of course, just our luck that four things are (again) overlapping here--Babysitter A and no days without intense interaction, B12 shots, no soy/veggie booty, and a reduction in gluten (again, we tried the GF bread to see if he still liked it--and he's pretty much refused to eat anything else since).

I don't think it's the dietary changes, but his need for a carefully monitored diet is certainly gaining more credence, at least to me. I let him have some Pyrate Booty at the park two days ago (note: first ever park experience with my sprog trio*), and yesterday let him have some naan bread/simple starch. Starting yesterday his diapers have been foul smelling and voluminous, and he's had a rash. The rash might be due to the last two days' heat wave.


Iz is not here. Her friend Blue invited her over to their ranch in Saint Gregory for the night. After it was all arranged I then realized that this will be our girl's first sleepover. She's had kids sleep here and has spent oodles of time at my folks' place, but hasn't been on an overnight play date before. I hope she doesn't explode as she's been very tired and hitting the wall a lot this past week. And I hope she has a fantastic time--apparently there is a stream that they can muck about in, and the neighbors have horses.


Mali is even cuter today than she was yesterday. Geeky all day, happy happy happy and so very interactive, so keen on checking out everything and everybody around her. She is suddenly into lying on her tummy, and will happily stay there, propped upon her elbows or pushing up on her hands, looking around, for several minutes.

I front-packed her for a walk with Leelo and Babysitter A this afternoon. I forgot that she isn't really old enough to be turned around frontward and so positioned her facing out. She did just fine, didn't bobblehead much at all.

The MYND Institute called again today with details about their infant study program. Mali is to be evaluated at 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, and 42 months. Each visit will be 2 - 2.5 hours. She will be monitored closely. If the doctors have any concerns, they will tell us right away. If we have any questions or concerns between visits, we are welcome to call. And they're even going to give us $20 per visit. Maybe there will be a pony waiting for us when we get there, too.

*Ep and I got a kick out of the not-even-thinly-veiled horror on the faces of all the first-time toddler moms at the park who were watching Merlin and Iz rampage through the water/sand pit (Iz naked except her underwear), while Leelo ran around in circles and occasionally knocked food out of my bag onto the ground (where he then ate it before I could unlatch the baby), while we mostly sat beatifically on a nearby bench, observing.



Check out chatty Miss Mali on the attached video. Now with drool!


Laundry Listing Yet Again

We just planned a whirlwind Seatttle trip for Easter weekend. One of these days we're going to see something of that lovely town besides Seymour's folks' place and the local Tennis Club. Not that I'm complaining; I just feel several decades underage and a stone or two over standard whenever we're brunching with that particular racquet set.

(Aside: Can't help but snicker at a certain upmarket catalog's carrying chocolate Easter bunnies marked "Kosher.")

The real incentive behind the trip is depositing Iz with Seymour's folks for the remainder of that week. Oh my, it should be interesting. But they asked for her...

Tonight Iz started telling me about how one of the mobiles in her room looks black and white at night because when the lights go out she's mostly using the rods in her eyes, not the cones. I asked where she got this very cool information and she informed me that it was in her new Magic Skool Bus book. Intriguing, as that book is written entirely in Spanish.

She is now writing complete paragraphs en Español, according to her weekly Spanish tutor. Makes me wonder if our girl is going to need her tutor for much longer. Guess we'll find out during next week's parent-teacher conference.

Leelo had more good things going on today, though he was also loopy for lots of it. At school he came up to me as if he was in need. I asked him what he wanted, and he said "I want to play!" and ran off to do so.

He took a crap in the potty. Yeah! He looked rather shocked, truth be told. And he made a huge mess. But I am still pleased.

He has been doing a lot of interactive reciting of his books: he says a line from one of his favorites and then we have to say the next line; or where he says a line and we repeat it and then he says the next line. Two days ago we did Brown Byear, Brown Byear in its entirety (no book present), today it was Dr. Seuxss's ABC. He gets the biggest kick imaginable out of this--it is almost as exciting to him as having someone jump out and scare him.

Mali continues to be the cutest snuggliest happiest most wonderful baby ever. Lots of big happy extended super-smiley sessions. Vocalizing a lot. Last night she and Seymour had a twenty minute conversation. Today she had a lot to say to Jo and Ep, leading Jo to remark "another one!" If Mali does indeed talk as much as her sister, I'm going to need an isolation tank.


My Little Lab Rats

Just got off the phone with a coordinator from the MYND Institute. Not only are they eagerly accepting new subjects for their infant siblings of autistic children studies, but they asked to enroll Leelo in several other studies as well. Plus Leelo gets additional free evaluations as part of Mali's program. And Mali will be closely monitored up until age four.

This means I can rely on trained specialists instead of the Internet to feed my fears about Mali's development. Very exciting!


Hey Little Boy, Want to See a Fire Truck?

As you may know, I really do go all out for my kids.

Today, I managed to conjure up an oil fire in the oven to give my wee ones an opportunity to see real live fire fighters and police officers, in their very own home! Then the kids got to go outside and play in the fire truck while the fire fighters used their giant fan to blow all the acrid black smoke (but not its smell) out of the house. Mali slept through the whole thing, on my shoulder.

I felt like a complete fucking moron, but the very kind fire fighters assured me that seeing big flames + minding three small kids solo = call 911.

The oven just needs to be cleaned really well (volunteers?), and, since olive oil was the source of the blaze, the pizza that had survived the fire inside the stove had a lovely wood-fired oven taste to it. So said Seymour, who had been at a work function and so arrived home post-brouhaha.

That'll teach me to make dinner.
Kids Kids Kids Blah Blah Blah

Did I ever write about anything besides the kids' daily doings? Blech.

Leelo has started doing his occupational therapy 1 hour session on Mondays at 8 A.M. instead of that same day at 4:10 P.M. His OT, M, says she can really tell the difference in his attention span. I can certainly tell the difference in my lack-of-awakeness in having to be in The Shores by 8 A.M., let me tell you. On the way back, he kept requesting his in-flight breakfast with a very distinct, connected, and articulated "yes" as opposed to the trained parrot version we usually get. Nice. Not nice is his deliberately locking me and Mali out on the back porch this afternoon.

Mali has learned to deliberately remove her socks via her opposing feet. She is also firmly rejecting her 60 seconds of daily tummy time by defiantly flipping over to her back. I looked up what 3 month old babies are supposed to be doing (since I have no idea--as far as I remember they suddenly become semi-sentient non-newborns at 6 months) and found that they are supposed to be grasping rattles and shaking them. We haven't really been giving her opportunities to do anything other than sit in her car seat or bouncy chair, so I gave her this crinkly flower thingie that I believe is the top of a stacking toy from the Gidster. Instant graspy fascination. Starting to put her in 3-6 mo gear. More options for dress up, which is always fun.

Iz is back from school and still grouchy. I think she needs more sleep. I know I do.


Extreme Nursing!

That's what Jo declared it to be when, after 3/4 mile of screaming baby hiking, I stuck Mali on the tap and continued down the trail. Didn't know what else to do; she wasn't going to stop crying any other way even though being put in the Bj0rn normally knocks her out, and I'd promised Sophie, Iz, and Leelo (and Jo, Seymour, and good-natured Babysitter A) that we were on our way back home. So now I have another line item for my resume.

What a glorious, glorious, almost-spring day. Didn't get to the gardening, but spending a mellow, convivial, burrito-and-GS cookie-fueled afternoon with Jo and Sophie was more than worth it. Ah, friends!

The Leelo leaps continue: "Put window UP!" (he knows directions? Since when?) "Want to play in the rice!" and, most sweetly, offering one of his new pacifier/chewies to Mali when she cried. We've never told him to do that or even shown him that we do that--this is learning by observation (not an autism strong point), and possibly a display of empathy. Wow.

Iz is still ill-mannered but seems to be coming out of it a bit. But she did have a high point this week in that she's decided to eat some vegetables now (after years of a mostly meat diet). I asked her to consider that, since she was getting older, some of her taste buds might have died off and her tastes might have changed and she might want to try the (extra sweet teriyaki stir fry) broccoli we'd made for dinner. So she did. And she liked it!
Lovely Leelo List

Yesterday he asked to "color with crayon," and did so spontaneously for the first time in his entire life. I am going to hermetically seal that piece of scribbly art in helium/glass and treasure it forever!

He also gave the haircutters no problem yesterday. This in direct contrast to his usual screaming, crying, and flailing. Wow. Perhaps I can resume taking him instead of making it a Seymour duty.

He made it through an entire grocery trip run without a fuss, and without even kicking off his shoes once.

He's also back on "reading" books, and having them read to him.

There items are huge. Huge! Excitement! Plus it was a gorgeous warm sunny day for the first time in weeks.

Iz and I are going to spend today doing some gardening. Dahlias, hydrangea, freesias, primulas, hear me now...you will all do our bidding.

In the midst of last week's stressfest, I found particular albums are almost equivalent to the long hot baths that are my usual release valve. So here's to Bl0ssom Dearie's 0nce Upon a Summertime, and E1vis Coste11o's G3t Happy.

And of course last week's Kumars, which featured Patrick St3wart--the funniest show on the tube, sprinkled with TNG jokes? Heaven!! You must all come over and watch it. Plus BSG had--and I am not kidding here--actual moments of levity amidst the somber faces and life or death decisions. TV is good again. Well, cable TV anyhow.


Random Stuff About My Kids Because I Don't Have Another Journal So If You Want to Read Something Titillating Go Here

Iz's Spanish in in high gear now. She's starting to forget which language she's talking in, and will prattle on en Espanol endlessly. Just like she does in English.

My mom (former piano teacher) spent a bit of Iz's visit teaching her grandchild some introductory songs on the piano. Apparently Iz memorized four pieces instantly and is well on her way to becoming the next prodigy and we should put her in lessons now! That is the recommendation of her overly proud grandmother, anyhow. I don't see any harm in starting lessons and all I really care about is that Iz enjoys herself. But then we'd have to find somewhere to shoehorn in a keyboard...

Poor Iz should probably have been spending part of that time doing the homework I'd asked my mom to ensure got done. Except it didn't--I probably should have told Iz to make sure it got done, instead. We then had a week's worth of work crammed into a three-day screamfest, during which she took a moment to look truly pathetic and plea, "You shouldn't yell at me!" Aaigh! Little manipulator.

She's still amazing me with the things she's interested in. Yesterday, she was asking me whether or not I thought the Vin1and Map was real, and why (thank you, N0va). She apparently spent much of this morning quizzing Seymour on the properties of various lever types (thank you, The Way Things W0rk), and that must have been right after she was telling me about the interrelation of bony growth plates and cartilage and how their connectivity varies with age (thank you, book from Badger). Note that none of this learning is coming from me...good thing she's self-directed.

Her manners still leave much to be desired, though. I think she isn't emotionally mature enough to comprehend the social significance of courtesy. Not that she's awful; she just doesn't remember her pleases and thank yous in many social situations.

Leelo has been having a very very good last few days. He even had a good speech therapy session yesterday, the first in weeks (possibly months). Great language, even better receptive language, engaging us in asking for books and puzzles and wanting to look through the photos of his classmates, taking verbal cues from his environment.

So then we have to wonder: is it the B12 shots? His refusal to eat Veggie B00ty since the barfing flu episode of three weeks back, and the subsequent removal of soy from his diet? Our changing to a different probiotic in the last five days since his other one (Ther-Bi0tic det0x support) ran out and is difficult to locate? The engaging play of Babysitter A (whose hours aren't going to be cut back so dramatically after all, whew)? Seymour thinks it's the latter.

As always, who knows. I'm grateful.

Just now the little guy took time out to pet Pat the cat. He's never done that before--petting rather than thwacking. Pat seemed to enjoy it. I told him to give Pat a bite of his dinner, and he did that too, though he took it back before Pat could even sniff it properly. Amazing.

Mali seems quite healthy despite the ear infection. She is at that stage where, when she sees me or Seymour, her whole face lights up and she smiles as large and gapingly as she can, and wriggles her whole body with delight. So much fun.

She has been sleeping spectacularly well lately. No caffeine or milk for me, plus putting her in her extra-cozy Baby J3di sleeper outfit seems to do the trick. She's been putting in solid sleep from 10:00 to 6:30 A.M., sometimes longer. And she's resumed being pleasant and sleeping a lot during the day. Yesterday she started getting really fussy at around 9:30 and I was wondering why for--then I realized that she was tired and wanted to go to bed...poor little thirdling; no one bothers to put you on any sort of schedule whatsoever.

She is extra-alert and cute these days. I don't remember the other two being quite so alert and aware and strong at this point, but that's probably just my crappy memory. Last night we were lying in bed next to each other and she wanted to get closer to me. She spent a good five minutes focusing on trying to roll over onto her tummy to do so--she got onto her side and almost all the way over, but the many layers of the J3di sleeper were her undoing. Still, she never cried until the end, but kept trying over and over and over. She might be another tenacious one. Gak.

While she can be very smiley, she is mostly focusing on looking at things. My mother says that she is going to be a "processor" like Iz was as a baby (Leelo was very smiley). The ceiling fans at the restaurant last night were a revelation--but then again they never do cease to blow babies' minds.

I am too tired to write anything else, plus BSG is on. Time to sign off. If you got this far, go get yourself a cookie. You've earned it.


Awww, Baby's First Ear Infection

Brought Mali to Dr. G because she still hasn't shaken lingering nasal congestion from that cold of 3+ weeks back. He says she's fine, but that she has an infection in her left ear. Since it is red but not bulging or oozing pus, he was amenable to calling in an antibiotic prescription, on the understanding that she doesn't need it now, but that I am to go get it if she becomes noticeably fussy or spikes a fever.

*Sigh* I am having nightmarish flashback visions of Leelo and those 20+ ear infections before he was two. And I don't remember him getting sick until he was 6 months old. Anyone have ideas about natural ways to stop ear infections from progressing? Or things I can eat/do to help Mali's immune system go into overdrive?



That is me being JUST FUCKING ANGRY!!!

Babysitter C is here for the first time in three weeks. Lest you get all our childcare providers mixed up, she is the only one who watches children other than Leelo, giving me a desperately needed break once each week.

I am supposed to be on my way to dinner with Seymour at our favorite 1ndian restaurant. Instead I am sitting here waiting for Seymour to call me back. Why? So he can tell me whether or not his credit card is in his wallet. Why? Because then I can call back the credit card company and tell them what our status is. Why? Because I just reviewed our credit card activity online and found some funky charges from San Dieggy. Why did I check the activity? Because I reviewed my online booking to Hawa-ii just before going out the door, and found that it hadn't actually been booked, and I need to be able to call them back so they can book it before the fare expires.

GAAAAAH! I just want a few fucking minutes! That is ALL! For ME! In a world where my SMTP server isn't on the fritz and I can send email not just receive it, and my dishwasher works so I can put dishes in there and rinse them so the ants don't attack them hourly, where the phones don't have a weird buzzing sound that makes any phone call torture (like the three listed above), where I can eat dairy and drink caffeine and where every surface in the fucking house isn't covered with crap and where every single one of our five clothes hampers isn't overflowing even though I just did five loads of laundry and for fuck's sake I know this blog has degenerated into a whine-fest but I have just about had it.

Five minutes. That is ALL. For FUCK's SAKE!


Post-dinner update: After all that, I tripped going down the stairs (in the rain, in the dark, carrying Mali in her car seat, natch) and took out my knee and ankle! Yeah! Bring it on! Not-really-important-inconveniencing stuff, anyhow. All this shit can keep coming as long as me and mine are healthy and well.


Ha! Ha! Ha!

Babysitter A just arrived, with the news that she has had some bad luck in her personal life and will need to cut back her Leelo hours dramatically so she can take on more lucrative tutoring work instead.

I am feeling strangely stoic. I felt guilty about having so much help, anyhow. And the whole situation is actually kind of funny, coming as it does on the heels of Therapist F's bomb.


Quick, Lee!

Leelo asked me for one of his stim toys today (a "tinkertoy"). I had it in my pocket and asked him what color it was, and he replied "the tinkertoy is orange" without seeing it. I believe he used to do this long ago with his Th0mas trains, but it's still nice to see that he remembers colors without the visual prompt.

Therapist F is leaving because her fiancee took a job in her country of birth with the thought that it would make F happy. Normally it would, but coming two weeks before the wedding/honeymoon it just makes her a stress puppy. Not to mention all the months of work they put in getting her U.S. visa.

Therapist L has promised that she has no plans to leave us any time soon.

Supervisor M, staying here.

My mom is leaving tomorrow. She got here Sat. night. She pretty much spent the entire visit in bed with the flu, poor dear.

Iz has being particularly grouchy all week. I am not liking it at all.
Why Iron Gate Does Not Suck

Below is an article I wrote for the Iron Gate newsletter. I volunteered to be the class reporter because I have so much free time.
"The gate only swings one way: in"

At least, I think that’s what Teacher P said. We were having a meeting, Teacher P and I, along with Teacher K and my son Leelo'’s therapists, Supervisor M and Therapist F. We were discussing my concerns over the 4Day class’'s appropriateness for Leelo next year.

I was worried that Leelo’'s autism would isolate him, that he wouldn’'t be able to participate as fully as the other children, —and that our family would be abusing the goodwill of the participating parents in the more intense 4Day environment.

Teacher P’'s reply emphasized why I feel so lucky to have Leelo at Iron Gate. She told me that Leelo is already a part of this community. The children know him, the parents know him, and his aide Therapist F should be able to take care of any extra needs as she already does.

Teacher P reminded me that Leelo already learns at a different level than the other children, and that we shouldn’'t be judging his September needs by his March abilities. She even mentioned how important she thinks it is for children with different abilities to attend Iron Gate, so that the other children can realize how varied their community is.

I couldn’'t be more grateful for that community. We really appreciate it every time a parent or child takes the extra time to say “Hi” to Leelo, and waits for him to reply, or asks him for a “High Five.” And it’s been phenomenal to see Leelo progress so much during the past few months. He is greeting, observing, and occasionally even trying to interact with the other children in the class. These are huge steps for an autistic child, and ones he couldn'’t have made without his class’'s support.

So, a big thank you to Teacher P, Teacher K, and all the other 3Day families who have made it possible for our sweet, energetic, challenging boy to have such an excellent preschool experience.

Dripping with treacle? Maybe. Phrased in Iron Gate-speak? Certainly. But I am absolutely sincere.

Another example of why I love the school: Therapist F is leaving on Friday to get married and go on her honeymoon. She will miss seven consecutive classes at Iron Gate. Another parent in the class, Jude--who is a practicing speech therapist and who herself has a child on the autistic spectrum--said she would take over for Therapist F during those sessions. And then Teacher P said that Jude could count those hours as school maintenance hours, since in Teacher P's mind this was a service to the school.

I don't know how much it would normally cost us for Jude's services but I suspect it is pricey. I also don't know of many other schools that would allow/arrange for such things. Scoff at the school's required drudgery if you must, but know that I am quite happy to be a member of this particular cult.