Katrina Help for ASD Families

From a local ASD e-list:

In view of the tremendous needs of families with children on the autism spectrum in the Gulf area hit by the hurricane, Unlocking Autism has set up our website to accept donations for these specific needs.

Shelley Reynolds, UA President, lives in Baton Rouge as well as several other UA volunteers. We also have a UA State Rep who lives just outside of New Orleans. These contacts will enable us to find needs and distribute funds to those with children with autism.

If you would like to specifically help these families you may do so by going to www.UnlockingAutism.Org and click on Gulf Disaster Relief. Unlocking Autism is a non profit (501 c 3) organization.

Thank you for your help in this disaster situation. Please remember to pray for all those affected and the safety and health of all residents and those serving in rescue and relief.

Unlocking Autism Staff
Cloak of Invisibility

Wish I had one. Too much going on. So much so that yesterday I fell asleep while nursing Mali to sleep--at 8:00 P.M. I didn't wake up until this morning.

Disjointedly, as always:

Mali and Leelo are both very fussy and needy, physically. Both want me to hold them all the time, neither likes being in a stroller, both are delighting in impromptu wrestling matches. That means sucking it up for perpetual receiver of the stick's short end Mali, as I can only do a piledriver on one of them at a time. Our youngest will henceforth be known as Stroller Girl. This is based on my experience yesterday in trying to cajole/drag a sobbing Leelo (he wanted his daddy) from the car into his 2nd floor speech therapy appointment with Therapist A while holding Mali on my hip. I am hoping that my back makes it through this period.

Plus Leelo now loves loves loves sliding/slamming the closet doors in our bedroom. I can't keep the bedroom door closed as that will make Scabby the cat (who hides there all day long) think that we're trapping her, and she'll pee on the bed within minutes. Also this is the room where Mali naps, but that is no longer safe what with the prospect of her brother steamrolling her at any moment, or her rolling off the bed herself. I must figure out other arrangements.

I think I need to learn to say no, as I am now both the English-speaking class mom for Iz's homeroom, as well as the Friday morning take-home reading parent/monitor. The latest Iron Gate newsletter did not have me listed as class reporter (I bowed out, but then felt guilty and told the new president I'd do it if no one else would) so maybe I can still worm out of that one.

Yesterday was a music class fest. I signed Mali up for a baby songs class that I anticipate will fill her with delight and me with despair, as she will rock out to any tune but I am several years past done with infant-themed anything. (In fact overhearing baby- or toddler-speak coming from adult mouths is a good quick way for me to test how well I rein in my homicidal impulses.) I also finally signed Iz up for the piano lessons she'd been yammering about since last year. This means she'll have yoga and music weekly. I will monitor her closely for signs of overload.

Our weekly daytime fall schedule will be quite the festival of coordination. If we keep Leelo's OT session on Monday mornings, giving him a short (9:30 - 12:00) ABA session on those days, then that session will be my longest weekly stretch of uninterrupted, non-class, non-shuttling time. Hmmm.


Meanwhile in related news, Iz finished HP 1 yesterday. She was musing that it took her a long time to read--a whole week--but then perked up when I reminded her that she'd read 15 or 20 Cap'n Underpants, Joonie (crap crap crap), Marvin Redp0st, Spanish books, and magazines during that same week. Plus she finished her homework several days early.

That girl needs to find more some crazy free-thinking friends at Esperanza, friends who are interested in science and HP and chindogu and all that crap. Friends who think integers are funny.

Merlin and Moomin and Sophie and Eliz are all wonderful in the ways she needs, but none of them go to school with her. She comes home each day talking about what football team she "goes" for, and such crap. No peer intellectual stimulation. I will not leave here there next year if she doesn't find soulmates, and soon.
Poor Mali

This morning she woke herself up by rolling out and falling off of our bed. A two foot drop onto nice soft carpet, but still not how she imagined waking up. Usually we hear babbling beforehand, usually the pillow fortress around her is a barrier. Much sobbing.

On Sunday one of the other kids in the church nursery bit her on the forehead. Hard. No skin breaking (so she won't be a werewolf, I assured Iz), but still also not how she envisioned happy church nursery time.

Yesterday Leelo kneed her in the forehead as he ran by. An accident, but more crying nonetheless.

All this, coupled with her tendency to bonk her own noggin while trying to stand or crawl means that she is officially, as Seymour likes to say, in the stage where it looks as though we beat our children.



I thought Iz had gone off L0TR. But then yesterday she announced to me that she wanted to be a berry sprite, "...like G0ldberry is a water sprite."

WTF? G0ldberry isn't in the movie trilogy (not that she's seen it) or The Hobbit (a much beloved DVD), so I asked her how she knew about her.

Turns out Iz's pocket guide to L0TR--an excellent little [2" x 1.5"] guide to that story's pre-cinematic characters and art--is one of her reserve car books, on hand for whenever she forgets to bring other reading materials.

I highly recommend the pocket guide for interested kiddlings not quite ready for the big books, and whose parents think they're too tender to watch the Balr0g and Shel0b on screen. However, I've not been able to find the book online, and I found ours two years ago at a party supply store.

In the meantime, I have been charged with making sure Iz sports G0ldberry-style braids.


Back from picking up Iz, and checking the car: it's the Hi1debrandt L0rd of the Rings
pocket companion, and you can get it on yBay.


Um, Not Sure About This One

But thanks anyhow, Frog.

Outcast Genius
52 % Nerd, 60% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their
friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being
outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 31% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 93% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid


9 Months

That's Miss Mali as of today. She's been out of the cooker just as long as she was in it. I know I said I was going to stop posting her pix, but I lied. I want everyone else to be paralyzed by her cuteness, too.

This is also the point by which, according to witty-but-incapable-of-transcending- L.A.-superficiality author Vicki I0vine, you can have your pre-baby body back--provided you both worked out and starved yourself with equal measures of vigor. To which I say, feh (translation: fuck you and the type A personality you rode in on).

But back to Mali. She is certainly crawling for real. She has also perfected that pincer grip, meaning feeding herself is old hat. So is finding minute mouthable/chokable floor objects.

She is a curious baby (personality, not merely looks). I am not used to having an inquisitive baby. Iz and Leelo you could sit on the rug with a few toys, indefinitely. Iz would explore without feeling compelled to investigate, Leelo would hang out and goof off with the toys he'd been given.

Not so Mali. Turn your back for a few seconds, and hear a big "k-thunk"? That would be Mali pulling the power strip plug out of its outlet. That "scrinch scrinch scrinch" is Mali having emptied the office trashcan to play with its cracklier elements. A cascade of clitter-clatter? Mali found Iz's cup of crayons and dumped them out, too.

At the moment she is also a grumpy baby. Lots of fussing, all day long. I suspect it is due to her being a light sleeper and therefore getting insufficient rest. She falls asleep in the car easily, but will not stay sleeping for more than 30 minutes upon extraction. She does take good naps in her/our bed, but those are rare given her siblings' constantly full, constantly shifting schedules.

To complicate matters, she is continuously frustrated. She doesn't like baby food, doesn't like a lot of adult food, can't communicate her needs the way she'd like to, is frequently blocked from things she wants to destroy, can't locomote or pull up as quickly as she'd like, and the cats won't let her pull on their ears. Poor bit.

Right now she and Leelo like a lot of the same foodstuffs (bananas, veggie b00ty, rice bread, whole wheat croissants, naan bread). Instead of preparing three meals (baby, Leelo, the rest of us) I can now sometimes get away with only two.

Her eyes are still blue, still almond-shaped with almost no visible whites. Very different from Iz and Leelo's big old lamps. They are capped by light ginger/no color brows. The rest of her hair is coming in fast, brown, and curly. There's enough of it now for some excellent morning bedhead moments.

The octopus stage is upon us. Want to nurse her, change her diaper, put on her clothes? Good luck. She still has four paws rather than feet and hands, and uses her lower limbs to push and prod and make sure I'm still there while nursing or sleeping. Nothing colorful can be in her line of sight while she's nursing, or she'll grab and twist for it without detaching from the tap (ow ow ow).

Her social skills remain reassuring, though her receptive eye contact (when others request her gaze) is not great. She checks in with me, she responds well to her name, she plays offense in terms of initiating social contact with strangers.

She is a cheerful rather than a giggly, laughing baby in her non-grumpus moments. Squishy and warm, she is starting to put her head on our shoulders or chests when she's feeling loving.

Time to put her down. Hopefully she'll let me continue reading while nursing her to sleep, otherwise I'm going to be really bummed.



Today's Esperanza guest instructor was Pr0fessor Lupin, teaching Defen5e Against the Dark Arts. I asked Iz to tell me they got to do, but she said that it was "too complicated to explain to a mugg1e."

And--oh, bestill my heart--she also asked if we could start drawing comic books together. "You mean REstart?!?" I said, "Remember Super Ji11!"

SJ is a superhero whose story Iz made up a couple of years ago. Her entire 5th birthday party was SJ/Superhero-themed. Though I shoved the leftover books (they were the party favors) at every parent we've ever met, there are still a few on the shelf should anyone want one.

Regardless, Cap'n Underpant5, I salute you. What a great influence!


Penguins and Potions

I never thought Iz was much for pretend play, but lately she is having quite the life of make-believe.

My mom took our girl to see March of the Penguins while we were away this past weekend. Apparently Iz spent the next 24 hours intensively practicing good penguin mothering techniques with Leelo's stuffed penguin chick puppet.

By the time we returned, though, she had tired of the caretaking. (Don't we all.) The last I saw of the penguin chick was when she allowed Merlin to strap it into a play baby car seat on a toddler ride-on car--and shoot it off the upper deck of the backyard fort, six feet into the air. Nice precedent for their future children (Iz and Merlin have recently entered into a verbal agreement to wed).

Also apparently, Professor Snape gave a class in potion making at her school today. They only did pretend potions because they aren't Hogwarts age yet, plus they don't have cauldrons. Everyone's favorite potions master was "nicer than you would think."
En inglés

Iz's first ever English reading/writing assignment came back today. It appears the maestra is having them write out sentences with the words of their choice at the end. Here is what Iz wrote:

I am at school
. (I can just see her rolling her eyes)
I am feeling very jealous. (Someone else got a gold star that day)
I know how to read. (And she is doing it whenever the teacher isn't looking)

The second page featured two women, one princess-like, and one witch-like, having a conversation. The kids were supposed to write what they were saying to each other, as in "How are you?" and "I am fine."

Iz's princess said, "I would like some free time please," and her witch said, "Okay, on the double."

Iz said her English teacher was surprised but pleased about her reading HP. I am surprised but annoyed that so many teachers act like each gifted reader is the first one they've ever encountered in their career. But then again I am relying on hearsay from a six-year-old. I will eventually go see the teacher and ask what her game plan is, though I do know that they were evaluating all the students' English abilities and grouping them accordingly.

Iz's main teacher is wonderful and beautiful and defintely the best 2nd grade teacher at the school, let me tell you.

Whoops, I am late to go pick up the girl in question.
Obviously, it Could Have Been Worse

And I'm aware of that. But I was still shell shocked for a good 72 hours after Mali's crappy stroller hit a bump in the sidewalk and catapulted her--still strapped into her infant car seat--face down onto the concrete sidewalk one block from Iz's school.

Mali was mostly protected by her car seat's various struts and shades. She got a big bump on her head and cried a river, but the wailing wasn't excessive and she had no other immediately visible injuries.

I went into immediate shock, and completely forgot about unstrollered Leelo standing next to both me and the street. Thankfully the hubbub kept his attention until I re-registered his presence. Thankfully nearby parents kindly picked up my wallet and keys from the ground, and placed them under the stroller. I wouldn't have noticed they were missing.

Somehow I made my way to Iz's classroom while holding Mali with one arm, Leelo with the other hand, and still pushing that fucking stroller. I was able to smile and nod while Iz's teacher told me about my daughter's latest impertinent romp. Upon request the office ladies gave me an ice pack.

After about ten minutes, I remembered to call Mali's pediatrician. She asked me to bring the baby in immediately.

I got the standard head injury talk (watch her for 48 hours, wake her up to alertness every few hours, check her pupils, bring her back if she barfs more than thrice). Dr. M is a parent herself and probably deals with idiots like me daily, and so was very kind. Mali shortened the limb injury portion of the examination by doing her quadrupod thing and sticking her bottom in the good doctor's face.

My mind stayed in outer space for the remainder of the afternoon, and well into the evening. Thankfully my parents returned from Napa around 3:00, and were able to help watch the kids. I snapped out of it when Seymour showed up, though--instant hysterical crying.

I have no one to blame but myself. I have been too tired and flitty, I have been trying to do too much, and now my attention span has gone away. I should have seen that sidewalk bump. I should have clicked the car seat down into the stroller (although I partially--not in a litigious way--blame the losers at Prig Prigego for making the most cumbersome and inconvenient stroller safety measures ever encountered). I should have driven to the curb and picked Iz up there.

Thankfully, Mali is fine. Undeservedly and finally, I am now also fine. It is time to scale back on our too-busy schedule, and focus on what my fucking job is all about: the kids and their well being.

It may also be time to get a different fucking stroller. My mom and my sister-in-law, the generous stroller donators, will certainly understand.
I'll Tell You What You Can Do With That Cup

Recently an author friend forwarded me a query from one of her friends, who is arranging a Cup of C0mf0rt anthology for parents of autistic children. My friend--whom I've not told about this blog--thought I might be interested in submitting an essay. I wrote back and said Thanks but Hell No.

Given the almost-daily dribble that occurs in this space, my refusal to write about being Leelo's mom might seem silly. But I don't blog to comfort anyone. I do so to record, and to share information. And vent. And curse.



CoC is a wonderful idea but I doubt I'd have anything to contribute. While things are great right now (Leelo is in a fantastic phase), I doubt I'd be able to summon up an entire essay's worth of cheer. We love Leelo and he is a wonderful, delightful boy, but his condition is still mostly a source of depression and anxiety for me.

Also, autistic kids are so different from each other. I'd be hesitant to share my warm fuzzy moments as they might make another parent feel worse. Kind of like a H0dgkins Lymph0ma patient giving advice to a person with advanced pancreatic cancer. Same conditions on the surface, vastly different experiences.

I've no doubt your friend will find plenty of strong parents who can pull happy nuggets of wisdom out of their butts to cheer up people like me.

Thanks and Take Care,



Funny Girl

I dare you to try and rip Iz's copy of HP and the S0rcerer's St0ne out of her hands.

The thing that really brings a wry twisty grin to my lips is the fact that she refused to read my copy. Mine (Canadian edition) was unnacceptable because of the "Phil0sopher's" title, she didn't like the typesetting, and she prefers the American editions' illustrations.

Her approach to the series so far has been to watch the currently available first three movies, scan HP III for inconsistencies re: that movie (but not actually read it), start HP IV but get irritated because we have the hardcover version and it's "too heavy," and then go back to the first book. But not mine. Her own.

I figure I'm willing to buy another copy of the first one if that's what it takes to get her into it. She can read my copy for #2, though.


Mali Pulls Up!

Just a smidge before 9 months. I suppose she did this as a way of channeling her "I can't fucking figure out how to crawl!" frustration. I suspect real crawling (as opposed to combat maneuvers; or getting up on all fours with her butt high in the air, moving her feet to the side, then plopping her bottom down and sitting back up) is around the corner.


Off, Yet Again

Had to upload this Iz picture in celebration of the sheer joyousness of dolphin-kissing.

Seymour, Mali, and I are off to Roint Peyes for the weekend. Anyone who's sticking around, please take pity, call my folks at my house, and let your kids come play with Iz. Otherwise her social jonesing is going to drive my parents to several different crazy towns. That girl needs her playdate fixes.

Iz wanted me to ask the Powers That Be: If a (HP) basilisk was born blind, would its gaze still kill you? I tend to think not, as the intention would be absent. But I said I'd ask.

More cheering: This morning Leelo asked Seymour to "Put down the telephone, Daddy." Also Mali is saying "Hi!" and waving.

Yesterday was one of the very worst days of my life. No exaggeration. Still can't write about it. Everyone is hale and happy, so don't worry. I, however, am still in short-term PTSD land. Hopefully a good 11 mile hike to T0males Point will take care of the jitters, and allow my brain to reintegrate itself.

Have a great weekend, all.


Amusing, Cheering

Iz, tattling on Grandma: "...and she wouldn't let me read The G0blet of Fire in bed with my flashlight!" Whoops, forgot to tell my mom that bedtime flashlight reading has been approved as long as it doesn't keep Leelo up. My mom told me afterwards that Iz had responded to almost every request by saying, "Well, that's not how we do things in THIS family."

Iz's maestra, pulling me aside: "Did you know that Isobel gave an entire lecture about her Caterpillar turning into a butterfly, in Spanish? She even used all the correct scientific terms. We are going to have to keep an eye on her, and make sure we take time to do these kinds of things with her more often!" I am so glad Iz got the new teacher!

Leelo, watching Panda G0 Panda for the upteenth time: When Mimiko did her happy Y-shaped handstand, Leelo tried to do it too!

This morning when I asked him "How are you?" he said, "I'm fine, Mommy," in a totally natural voice. Very different from the rote "ImFineThankYou" response we normally get.

Also this morning he came to get Seymour, obviously wanting help with something. He haltingly worked out the sentence, "I need help...to...close." When Seymour went over to where Leelo indicated, he saw that our boy was having trouble getting a toy bin back on the shelf. Go Leelo's brain cogs!

Mali is not the same baby as her siblings. She gets into everything. Yesterday I put her down for a minute, turned around, and found that she'd gotten herself over to my sock drawer somehow and was busily emptying it. Yesterday at the park concert she did the same with a whole bowl of raspberries. Her siblings never got into anything. Shee-it.

She is such a smiley, happy, flirty baby. I Love Her So Much! ***Starts crying hysterically***
Finally, an Article About Infant Development That Doesn't Give Me the Crazies

Mali's already hit all the 10 month milestones, at not-quite-nine months. Whew.

The accompanying article insists that these emotional and social milestones, rather than the physical ones everyone with my genes sucks at anyhow, are the ones that matter as predictors of developmental delays.


Happy Happy Happy

Today is Seymour's official 36th. We will celebrate by going to the last park concert of the year, and hoping the local set can join us.

Yesterday's trip to Sac'to was tolerable. Mali slept the whole way, and there was no traffic, which made me realize that--sans diaper changes or nursing breaks--the drive can reasonably be made in two hours. Plus there are many drive-through coffee establishments along the way.

The session consisted of a developmental psychologist interviewing me about Leelo's development since infancy, and then during this past year. I had reviewed all of my Leelo journals (pre-blog, you must understand, not quite the same elephant-load of material) and so had all the answers verfied and on the ready. Plus I put all those journals on my Pa1m so I was able to consult them as needed. We will be sent a summary of the interview/survey results.

Mali played nicely on the floor most of the time. The psychologist was very kind and kept making comforting, reassuring comments such as, "Did you see that, she noticed the cart rolling by outside," or, "she has really good control of her hands." Not all evaluators who work with autistic kids' families are this sensitive and thoughtful (shocking but true, though I must say all the MYND Institute people have been incredibly pleasant).

Stopped at Ambah's on the way back for lunch and a hike around her parents' 20 acre oaken woodland. She talked to me about the visions she has for her own house (which her folks are cool with), the four or five potential building sites that balance her her need for privacy with views, and the desire to have a partially subterranean design. Also how much she's enjoying the way her current law practice gives her afternoons free to "tend" her absentee neigbor's horses (i.e., ride bareback for hours like a fantasy novel heroine).

Ambah's folks minded Mali during the hike. They've got to scratch that wanna-be-grandparent itch somehow. Though Ambah is working on it, suspects things might be real with new beau Tracy.

Got home to a nice home-cooked meal courtesy of my mom. Not a bad day at all.
Camp Casey

That's where Gale has been. She's supplied your required reading for the day. Go get yourself a tissue first, though.


Five Things

My parents are here at the same time as Jo's. We should have arranged a playdate!

I am off to Sac'to tomorrow for the very last MYND Institute trip until November. Though this is for a Leelo study, Leelo doesn't have to come (Mali still comes everywhere with me). They'll be interviewing me, instead, for two-three hours. Of course my printer barfed, and barred me from printing out the Leelo Infant Journals I'd spent all evening purging of cursewords, and was counting on referencing during the interview. I've transferred them to my Palm, but that's not nearly as convenient as paper.

Reviewing the journals, as always, has me freaked about Mali. She isn't using "mama" any more, instead has gone back to the single-syllable "deh" for everything. Her physical milestones are much more Leelo-like than Iz-like, for instance she hasn't bothered figuring out how to pull herself up on anything yet. Not that we've anything appropriate for her to do it on, crib-free girl that she is. Also I think her eyes are starting to change color. TLF thinks they'll be green.

Leelo continues with the great words and usage today. The stand out for me was:
S: "Leelo, what color is your shirt?"
L: (looks down at shirt) "The shirt is yellow."
S: "and....?"
L: (looks down at shirt again) "blue!"
The observation upon request and the identifying something as having more than one color (correctly) are both things that haven't clicked before. At all.

Forgot to mention how cute Iz was this weekend, insisting on wearing full H0gwarts gear to accompany TLF and me on Saturday's pre-party errands. (She sported my old black high school grad gown, a white shirt, a Seymour tie that TLF thankfully knew how to knot, and a magic wand which according to her contained unicorn hair although the wand was broken and some of the hair was sticking out.) She spent almost all her car time muttering "Wingardium Leviosa!" and other charms, worrying about whether or not she was a mugg1e, and being assured by us that many legitimate wizards had no idea of their magical abilities until well past age six.


Back in the Saddle, Lost the Reins

I tried writing this right after we got back from Hawaii one month ago, but life has been quicksilver slick since then. Here's the draft version.

Our trip to Hawaii was great. But, as I've been telling my friends, I wouldn't classify it as a vacation. There were spurts of vacation time here and there, but mostly there was too much coordination (my parents, Seymour's, Leelo's therapy) and almost zero time for lollygagging. I wrestled away exactly one hour to myself doing something other than showering or sleeping (an hour with which I chose to suck down mai tais at a poolside bar while muttering over the latest copy of Brainy, Chi1d). So, while it was great fun and I think the kids will recall it with sparkly eyes, it was a trip--not a vacation--for their parents.

There are even two versions of the trip.

There is the Happy! version, in which Seymour and I got to have two excellent dinners out by ourselves, I drank mai tais every night (you guess whether or not they were spaced so as to spare Mali a hangover), we took Iz soaring over lava-burping volcanoes in a helicopter, Mali learned to eat salt-and-pepper sand, Leelo taught himself to swim, Iz kissed a dolphin and fed an eagle ray, the sunrises were almost as glorious as the ice cream and the malassadas, and I floated over schools of funky iridescent fish and forgot which way to turn to find the sky.

Also in that version I got to eat lots of spam and rice and eggs, and discovered that the ridgeline of the Koha1a peninsula is where H. Miyazaki gets all the glorious blue sky, white fluffy clouds, and gently waving green grass backgrounds for all of his movies.

In that version, the rental car people took one look at the kid-and-luggage packed-full minivan we were returning, and offered to drive us straight to the airport so we wouldn't have to deal with an extra loading-and-unloading. The park rangers were slightly bored, and friendly, and had time for a nice long chat about the meaning of my tattoo, and the Hawaiian trend towards tattoos that speak of family histories.

The other version is less chirpy. In this one we discovered only after we'd already boarded the five-hour outbound flight that Unyted had stopped serving in-flight meals, even though they asked us about our dietary preferences during check in. If we'd not had cash on hand, then Iz and Seymour would have had to go begging for food.

In the chirp-free trip, it took us a good half-hour to get onto the teeny rental car shuttle with all our kids and strollers and luggage and gear. Everyone else in line got that glazed, brain stem-generated, traveler's FUCK YOU, IT'S ALL ABOUT ME look, and refused to give eye contact while jumping in front of us--or acknowledge that we were in no way giving up our places in line just because it took us a longer time than them to mobilize. You would think that, in Hawaii, where people can live off the land and sleep on the beach, people could rein in their survival instincts.

In that one I realize that there is no such thing as relaxing while traveling with Leelo. Both plane trips were marathons, more so for Seymour as he did most of the Leelo-tending. Until Mali acquires more common sense than mobility, which probably won't happen for at least three more years, we're sort of fucked. Iz even more so, as the one-on-one ratio required for minding both Leelo and Mali effectively excludes her. Poor bit.

Also Leelo never adjusted to the time change. Which meant that either Seymour or I was up at 5ish-6ish. Though this did mean we got to see glorious Hawaiian sunrises.

In conclusion: there is nothing bad about traveling to Hawaii. It's fucking Hawaii! However traveling with three kids, especially when the middle one is an autistic bundle of energy with no common sense, is trying. I suspect we'll wait a year before doing anything like that again.


*Although in this version, the dick who stepped in front of me in the rental car line--while I was hip-loading an infant and trying to cheer a wilting Iz--with his "well, are YOU a Gold Club member?" declaration was certainly then not told by me that the Gold Club fuckers who were paying attention merely had to walk over to the board with their names and waiting keys. Nope. He got to listen to my kids scream in the broiling, packed, air-con-free office for a good thirty minutes before he figured the Gold Club scheme out on his own.


And I Muse About How to Be More Like Him All the Time!

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

I even did my best to answer the questions honestly, for once. Yeah! I think this is my legitimate MB type as well. (Thanks to Jo Spanglemonkey for the quiz.)

Pant Pant Pant. Seymour's super-secret birthday party is over. It was a blast that took the roof off the house. People actually ate all the food Ep and Clyde kindly fetched--the leftovers fit in a pint container instead of taking several fridge shelves. That has never happened before.

The music was transcendent; were I to suddenly acquire an encyclopedic knowledge of classical Indian music I could not have planned a better set than the one the musicians came up with on their own. The veena player had a gorgeous, natural-sounding alto, rather than the nasal Bollywood-style pipes I'd rather experience via background music. I've never sat so close to someone singing in microtones. Her vocal control had me transfixed, but sadly the musicians were only available to play for an hour. I was left wanting more more more! However their timing was good as we hadn't yet sung Seymour Happy Birthday, and we had a room full of hungry cake sniffers eaters making grumbly sounds about the chocolate/chocolate/chocolate delight they'd been led to expect.

The crowd was a great mix. Badger, Jo, and Manny did a drive by to fete Seymour even though it meant they had to run like hell to make another event aftewards. Guests in addition to those mentioned above included Ambah and new beau Tracy, Murphy, My parents (expected), my hermanito and his family (surprise to me as well as Seymour), Anya and Carys, Wyoming, neighbors Kan and Dim, cafe and Seymour cycling friends Diki and Tan, JP and Dean, Babysitter A, Godmother Stacy (arranger of musicians) and partner, and all associated children. Wish I'd had more time to chat with them all.

Not one bit of the party would have happened without TLF's and Babysitter A's and my cousin Dean's help in watching Mali/Iz, Leelo, and Seymour, respectively. Dean lured Seymour out for five hours of cycling while I frantically prepped the house.

Abrupt ending because I am wonky-tired.


Perseids, Pool

Iz and Seymour were both crazy enough to get up at 2 A.M. for their own little Perseids party. As TLF and I gruntingly declined to join the festivities, we later got to hear her blow-by-blow (a recounting that apparently failed to intrigue Iz's classmates): "And there were meteors going up and down and horizontally but those were different because the Perseids themselves were actually all going this way and we saw a red giant and Mars again...".

As if that wasn't enough mind blowing for one 24-hour stretch, she spent her late afternoon watching her mom doing flips off the diving board at Satan's pool. TLF said Iz was goggle-eyed, most likely because my daughter has rarely seen me do anything more exciting than chase her brother down the driveway. The sight of her mom hurtling through the air must have impressed Iz somewhat, because she then jumped off the board herself several times--something she'd until then fussed and whined about.

My few pool moments of flipping, diving, and dolphining (while wonderful TLF held Mali) exceeded the bliss quotient of the randy dreams I've been having since Mali started solids, I started nursing less, and my hormones started reasserting themselves. A welcome treat for my otherwise too-exhausted-to-pursue-bliss waking self. For a moment, I even missed my native land and its countless backyard pools.


My God does Leelo love the pool--possibly even more than I do. What a great little swimmer. Thank heavens for Babysitter A and her infinite patience with Leelo wanting to swim back and forth between the two of us for 20 minutes straight.


Mali officially perfected getting herself into a seated position today. She did so at every possible opportunity, and punctuated each event by clapping her hands while staring at us intently. This was our key to clap and cheer and tell her what an amazing baby she was. She would then break out her smiles and special supremely pleased, butt wiggling, arm circling, rhythmic squealing happy dance.

Mali is neither pleased nor displeased by the pool. Perhaps I will leave her in the nursery next time, so I can spend more time hogging the diving board.


Leelo Unbound

I can't remember a better zoo day. TLF and Ambah were not only there but helping with the kiddlings (Iz's pal Violet came along); I discovered and took advantage of the zoo cafe's beer selection; and the older girls were entranced by the volunteer-saturated nature walk in the kids zoo, in which they got to interact with all the baby alligators, hedgehogs, chinchillas, newts, great horned owls, turtles, western toads, ferrets, and CA king snakes they liked. All good.

But not the best part of the day. The best part was hanging out with Leelo, watching him awaken to his surroundings and interact with all of us. His language and interaction were incredible! I really should print and post this entry to remind me that Leelo does make progress, that we're not driving ourselves and his therapy team crazy without reason.

He asked to go on the carousel the moment we arrived at the zoo. TLF helped him get on a horse while I monitored the three girls. (Ambah's delicate constitution meant she got off after one rotation.) Leelo quickly realized that he'd accidentally gotten on a stationary horse, spent a while looking around at all the pogoing horses, then turned and asked to "go up and down?" He got a moving horse on the very next ride. When it was time to get off the horse, he threw a fit. I thought he didn't want to get off the horse, but it turned out that he was merely refusing assistance--he was capable of getting his own chubby little butt off that saddle, thanks very much.

Later on he got sick of sitting in the double stroller, and said "Take off the buckle, mommy," which I did. He then said, "Come here, Mommy," grabbed my hand, and pulled me towards him. This was followed by, "Sit down, Mommy," and when I did as he asked, he sat down in my lap and pulled my arms around him in a big hug.

Later on he asked to "go up and down the stairs with Mommy" on a short staircase, which, because of TLF and Ambah's help with the other kids, I was able to do with him as many times as he wanted. You've no idea what a relief and a joy it is to be able to say "Yes, Leelo! You can do that and I will come with you!" Leelo is far more used to hearing No, or being told what to do. He was so happy he squealed the entire time.

Just before we left to go home, he asked to "Give Mommy kisses on the mouth," and did so several times in a row. Sweetie!

He correctly identified flamingoes and penguins (prompted), and ducks (spontaneously). He really wanted to play with the ducks, in their pond. Another time.

When TLF helped him take off his jacket after a long car ride from the frigid outer city to sweltering deadwood, he spontaneously told her "Thank you, thank you!"

What an excellent day. What a sweet, wonderful boy.


TLF took me out for dinner tonight as we had babysitting for all three (!) kids. (This would be my third evening out sans Mali, ever.) On the way home she sang Ave Maria (Schubert) in her angelic mezzo, and had me in tears.


Fluttering By

So many visitors this week! And all amazing people. Truly. I do not befriend bores, soporific though I myself may be.

The Little Flower is here through Sunday. Iz is ecstatic, because "TLF is my very best friend who is an adult." This means that TLF, bless her, gives Iz great big gobs of undivided attention, and lets our girl get away with murder. Iz got permission to crawl into TLF's bed tonight, and is sleeping with her as I type--a copy of El Capitan Calzoncillos tucked snugly under her arm.

Twister was a wonder as usual. I feel bad about dragging him and TLF through my dull yet overly busy morning, but they were good sports. I am grateful that Ep, Jo, and Badger took time out of their mornings to come meet my favorite diving coach/teacher of deaf children/tower of personality.

TLF is very excited about getting to eat at the cafe three times this week, and is planning a gastronomic hit parade of all her favorite dishes. I will do my best to keep up. Very exciting to hear about her and Floyd's impending move to San Diego, and the new business that she'll be starting. I will not reveal her current place of employ, but suffice it to say that they are stupid fucks for letting her slip away, because they'll never find a more creative or multitalented employee. Never.

Tomorrow I am yanking Iz out of school early and canceling Leelo's one afternoon appointment, and taking all the kids plus TLF and in-town-for-the-day Ambah to the zoo. I will not forget sweaters. Ambah is a Dr. Doolittle type with animals, I can't imagine what kind of afternoon awaits.

We fudged with Iz's school schedule this morning as well, as the pupa that she and Seymour have been tending ever since its caterpillar was rice-grain-sized burst open just as Iz was supposed to go off to school. We kept her home until the butterfly's wings were completely unfurled, because what school lesson could possibly compare? She then proudly marched in her pupa-shell-on-a-stick to show to her classmates.

Mali update quickly: She is frustrated as hell about not crawling yet, even though by a combination of lurch-and-drop, rolling, and combat crawling she manages to get wherever she wants, speedily. Often she strands herself completely upright on her hands and feet, in quadruped position. That is followed by more yelling. Occasionally she will work herself into a sitting position from the ground.

She is cute and very observant and social social social. Also easily bored. She will pore over just about any object you give her, for extended periods. She is a destructinator, and has a sixth sense for locating small fragile or paper items in her vicinity. She prefers real food to baby gloop, but is over avocados. We still don't know who she looks like.
Our Own Little Sine Wave

That is how I refer to our boy these days. Leelo is doing a vascillatory shuffle. Language, communication all on fast-forward for short bursts, then he'll retreat into nutty boy mode.

Mostly, however, things have been good lately, and I'm feeling optimistic. A bit less so since we let him switch back to jammie separates four weeks ago and then he had another shitstorm last night, and then he barfed all over Therapist L this afternoon, but cheery regardless. Possibly this is because it only took one hour for him to go to bed tonight after 10 solid days of two-hour bedtime marathons (now there's a phrase to pluck out of context).

Both The Little Flower and Twister had not seen Leelo for several months until yesterday and today, respectively. Both of them remarked on how much his communication skills have improved, both were surprised and pleased to see the leaps he'd made (and Twister works at a school with several deaf autistic children, so he has some sense of how things can be).

Our boy is using many people's names in context these days, both prompted and spontaneously. Yesterday I took him to lunch with Ep, and, when I wasn't fast enough fetching him his naan, he turned to her and demanded "I want naan bread, Ep!"

Yesterday morning he woke up, sat up in bed, looked at his sister, and said, "Hi, Izzy!" He has never done that spontaneously in his life.

He has also been making real efforts to put phrases together and communicate. You can tell his little brain is working hard but he just doesn't have the language yet. It will come, Leelo!

He has been using No spontaneously with us, though he still more frequently says "bye bye, X" instead. Even more frequently, he'll say "Noooooooo!" when you try to get him to do something he doesn't want to do.

His eye contact has been really, really good lately. He has been requesting lots and lots of one-on-one time with Seymour especially but with me too. All said he's in a good spot right now.

What are the whys behind his behavior? Who, really, could even tell. We did start him back on the multivitamin NuThera this week after several months off of it; We've been fairly good about keeping him away from sugar, but nowadays I think of his diet and supplements more as regulators than triggers. I suspect that having a week without a trip to Sacrament0 didn't hurt.

Therapist S told me yesterday that she would like to scale back to two days a week starting the week of August 24th. Farts. An ad for another therapist has been posted on Kraigzlist.


Iz's Day

Got to spend a bit of time with Iz this afternoon (Mali tagging along too, of course). A treat for me.

Our girl has declared herself a tomboy. As in "Mommy, I'm only wearing this dress because you asked me to. I don't usually wear dresses, because I'm a tomboy."

I don't think she's entirely clear on the concept, but her new persona is cool with me on many levels--especially as it allows me to buy clothes that she and now same-sized Leelo can share.

She also got a Dar#h Vad3r lunchbox. I'll be fucked if she's going to be limited to Leia crap like I was. And she will get to take the middle school woodshop that I was barred from, too, if that is her choice!

It was amusing to watch her go nutty in the library today. Every time we go she is on some different kind of rampage (right now it's Capt. Underpants, thanks to Badger and Moomin) and is always shocked to discover that the library once again has ALL THE BOOKS SHE IS LOOKING FOR AND SHE CAN TAKE THEM ALL HOME. She was also excited to find a Hardee Boyz comic illustrated by her very favorite Manga artist.

Another mom friend seems perturbed that her daughter (Iz's classmate), is also currently in thrall to the good Captain. Which amuses yet worries me. As though because the girl has read books like The Chr0nicles of Nurnia, she can never go back and read anything less challenging--it might cause brain rot! I wish this girl's mom would cut her some slack and let her read whatever makes her happy. As long as it's not utter crap like Joonie B. Jonz.

Today was day three of second grade for Iz. Seymour asked her how it was. She told us that it was fine, but that it would be mostly "inexplicable" to us. Um, okay. Tomorrow is back-to-school night; perhaps some explication will take place then.

Reading some cautionary material about gifted kids, which asserts that they lose a potential year of academic progress for every year they're stuck in a non-enriched (e.g., standard) classroom. Sigh. As I am currently mostly useless to Iz as a source of extracurricular enrichment (though today we had great success with the yeast/balloon experiment she'd been wanting to try for two weeks), I am thinking about finding a "science buddy" to come hang with her once a week. Someone who will be there specifically to answer all her questions as they arise, rather than "Plasma? Well, uh...No Leelo! Aaah, Leelo, come back!" *60 seconds pass* "Well, I'm pretty sure it's halfway between a gas and a liquid, but...Okay Mali, please stop wailing, you can chew on Leelo's rice bread if you really want to...plasma is cool stuff and do you want to look it up at the library? Iz? Where did you go?"


Leelo is still a late-night nutter, and his behavior is still odd during the day, but his language is good. Lots of "come here!" and "Sit on the ___, Mommy."

I am so unused to children younger than Iz having typical reactions to toys that it took me a beat to realize that Mali was getting a kick out of the polar bear puppet I was demonstrating for Seymour this evening. I turned the puppet's focus entirely on Mali and had her squealing and giggling for several minutes. Poor thirdling.

Thought I was going to have to replace our cheap CD boombox, but Seymour figured out that it still works if you put something heavy on top of it. He scoffed at my praise for his creative solution, saying, "I am the IT director at a technological not for profit. I know from workarounds!"


Godmother Stacy's shower went so smoothly that I was able to fade into the woodwork once initial greetings and announcements were taken care of--perfection. Badger was adorable in her lacy cocktail dress, matching shoes, and jaunty beret. Lipstick, even! So glad she and Ep and Jo and JP were all there. No more party hosting for me any time soon--I am wonked. And I will not miss another karaoke session like the one that rocked Jo's surprise party after I left to go prep for the shower.


Nothing Makes an Anniversary Special Like Fresh Cat Urine

Seymour and I returned from a really great night of mellow togetherness (Aiplewood pizza, book gluttony at Kaplers across the street, and then the very silly but diverting Episode III) to find that Scabby the cat had somehow been locked in our room for longer than five minutes and so of course had peed all over and through our comforter, right down to the mattress. It was past midnight by the time we discovered the scenario. Big fat sigh.

Also Leelo has been refusing to go to bed before 10:30 P.M. for the last week. You want some irony? This spell began the very evening after I took our boy to the Stanffford sleep clinic, where after hearing some of the doctor's horror stories I was thinking how lucky we were to have a boy who was a tolerably good sleeper, and who was usually down by 9:00. I suspect it has something to do with our taking him off the antifungal Amph0tericin after last week's barf fest. He wasn't keeping it down anyhow and the two-month course was pretty much run through.

Tomorrow is godmother Stacy's shower. I hope it isn't too dull; I've not done much for it, and am specifically having it at a restaurant to minimize prep and cleanup. Godfather M is coming early (on BRAT, which conveniently deposits him in Mi11brae, thereby giving us access to heavenly dim sum) and I'm hoping he can help me pull some last minute shower thrills out of my butt.

Speaking of men who can dance: Twister is crossing the Pacific to visit on Wednesday morning. Local friends, you must attend a 9:30ish breakfast at the cafe to bask and chat and experience this towheaded towering supercharged delight.

Also The Little Flower is coming on Tuesday, to stay with us for six days! Yay!



That is the noise inside my head. White noise only. Part of why I have been droopy and down lately--I can't form coherent thoughts, and so have difficulty communicating my intentions without being misinterpreted. Thankfully friends like Jo think for me. Her take on privilege and age-related perspectives intersects cleanly with several of my internal monologue's favorite themes.

Forgot to mention how Seymour wants celebrate today's occasion: Go see Episode III, prefaced by eating pizza. Rock on, exhausted nerd parents with lowered expectations!

Diez Años

Seymour and I have been hitched for 10 years. This does not seem possible. The least believable part is that such a sweet, creative, handsome (in a weak knees way), kind, intelligent, sympathetic guy has held on this long to a soul-destroying emotional black hole. Maybe it's the rack? More likely it's because I can still make him laugh, or that he gets off on the adrenaline jolts dished out daily. I don't deserve him but I do absolutely adore him.

Wedding attendees: no of course this is not our actual wedding picture. Though the official event set the standard for Catholic church, white dress, and hotel reception style events, this picture--in which we are renewing vows on our first anniversary--is truer to what we'd have liked, had we not two very enthusiastic mothers on wedding rampages.


La Maestra Nueva

Iz's new teacher is a cool lady, from Spain, I think. But I am not sure because I appeared to be the only non-Spanish speaking parent in her class today (bilingual folks, mostly), and my reporting of the maestra's country of origin is based on another parent's assessment of her accent.

Dropping Iz at school made me realize that I am more worried about myself than my daughter. She will be fine no matter what--she makes friends easily, she already speaks Spanish. I'm the social inept, I'm the one dreading having to navigate a whole new sea of parents, I'm the one who was looking longingly across the courtyard as my friends whose kids ended up in the same class chatted and laughed with each other. Iz skipped happily into her classroom and didn't look back.


"It" revealed


Squid asked me to interject, as I remembered what "it" was and she is now officially too tired to type.

Big breakthough in potty training! Two days ago Leelo was fidgeting about in bed, grabbing at his diaper and looking generally unconfortable. I asked him if he was going poo-poo and he said "want to go poo-poo." I checked his diaper and it appeared to be a false alarm. Yawn. Tucked him in and a couple minutes later he was at it again, saying "want to go poo-poo Daddy." It then dawned on me he was *actually asking to go sit on the toilet* instead of dropping one in his diaper. Sounded too good to be true, but ever the optimist off I went with the boy, and I'll be danged if he didn't produce #1 and #2 on command. Back to your regularly scheduled program....

-- Seymour

Damn Wackiness

Things are beyond crazy. Mostly in a good way, but a person can drown in nectar. Much Rosenberg-initiated/hosted partying will be going down this next week, including our 10th anniversary of wedded bliss.

When is our life going to slow down enough that we can enjoy being part of it? Probably when the kids move out, I'm guessing. Which, I just realized with one of those crisp mental *ping*s, will be four years later than I'd envisioned owing to the appearance of Mali. (And assuming many things about Leelo.)

The class lists for Esperanza were posted yesterday, but we were out of town so I checked them out this morning. Surprisingly, Iz's class contains not a single one of her friends, and only three former classmates (out of twenty).

It appears that her class is the one with the new teacher, the one in which they placed all the children whose parents did not agitate for the other two, known quantity teachers. There is exactly one child with a non-Iberian last name in her class (and no, that is not Iz), whereas the non-Iberian surname level runs about 30% to 40% in other classes. Lots to mull about re: cultural attitudes towards pushiness in education.

The optimist in me suspects that they grouped all the best Spanish speakers together. I am hoping the new maestra is a stealth ass-kicking phenomenon and that all the other parents will wish they had her. We'll see how things go.

Anyhow, things are nuts as hell. Two days ago: took all three kids to Leelo's 8 A.M. offsite OT session only to be told that our appointment had been cancelled. Took off for Leelo's 9:30 intake appointment with the Stanffford sleep clinic only to glance at the paperwork and realize it was a three hour rather than 45 minute appointment. Thankfully Badger was open to taking our girl for the duration so I wouldn't have to wrangle three screaming kids (Leelo loooooves those hospital environments, oh yes). And then something else happened but I can't remember what it was.

Yesterday we all five went to the MYND Institute in Sac'to for Leelo's final appointment with the Imitation/Regression study folks. While we were there I contacted the Infant Siblings folks because I had remembered them wanting to do measurements of some kind on all Leelo's family members and--hey--we were all there. I thought they wanted to get head circumferences, but it turns out that they wanted our blood. Not good news for phleboto-phobic Seymour, but he did it anyhow. As did Iz, who thought the whole process was pretty cool.

On the way back we stopped at Ambah's family's ranchito outside of Napa, where we frolicked in streams and ponds and with horses and dragonflies and goldeneyes and frogs. I cannot convey the distilled honey magic of the extended afternoon because Leelo has been screaming/avoiding bedtime/waking up his baby sister for the last two hours.

And there's more but as usual I am mentally in bed already.

Amusing: After dinner, Iz wanted Seymour to pull her around in the wagon. Seymour said no, he was tired, but maybe he would if she let him spank her 20 times. Iz said, "fine!" I guess we failed to estimate the lure of the little red ride-in wagon.

Iz and Leelo have both had enormous growth spurts. Huge! Both are usually slow growers that stay in one size for 12-18 months, but almost none of Iz's school clothes from last year fit her. This I discovered when trying to pick out an outfit for tomorrow's first day of school, so I guess I'll be cruising Elder Indigo in the morning.