Our friend Sue the Tree Planter invited us over to a last-minute New Year's dealie. Since she and her spouse are among the coolest and kindest people around, we said yes. What parent of small children wouldn't, to a party whose stated goal was to bring appetizers only, celebrate New Year's at Newfoundland Time, and then kick everyone out the door by 9:00?

We figured we'd know at least a person or two, which would be a bonus. Imagine our surprise when the party ended up chock-full of some of the local people we love the very best, outside our usual posse: Anya and Carys, Diki and Tan, Kynn and Len...and then SAGE and her partner showed up! I was wiggling in my chair with glee.

So, All:

Happy New Year! (Said as Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, which is the only way that phrase ever sounds inside my head.)


If You Thought I Was Mopey Before...

Leelo woke up at 4 A.M. howling about his knee. By 7 A.M. he still refused to move it or himself, so Seymour helped me get him to the doctor. She poked and x-rayed the boy (Seymour took that one, bless him). The good doctor found nothing obviously wrong and pronounced it a sprain or bruise, then sent us home. It must be a pretty bad wrench to keep our quicksilver boy glued to his chair, and having to be carried everywhere (at 48 lbs he's quite a load).

We still can't figure out how he did it. He will gingerly pull himself to standing for a moment, but otherwise didn't get off the couch all day. I do have to admit it there was an unexpected bonus for this selfish mom, which was the relief of not to having to worry about where Leelo might be, or where he might be going, all day long.

Those of you who track such things will note that, owing to the conflict between the doctor's visit and Leelo's therapy session, and Therapist L having to cancel yesterday again due to continuing illness, our boy is 0 for 4 for morning therapy sessions this week. Not good for me, but even worse for our boy who really does need his sessions to ground him and give him a baseline from which to approach the rest of his life. Poor guy. And now, of course, we're on to a three-day weekend.

Next year will be better!

Though I will add that the last few weeks' entries make me sound grumpier than I am. Now that we're back home with very few events on the horizon, I'm actually feeling quite cheery. Especially with Iz home--we missed her ever so much, even though I punted her over to Merlin's house an hour after she got back.



Seattle, Outline Style:

Woke up morning of flight 90 minutes later than I wanted to. However, since I stayed up until 2:00 the night before in a frenzy of OCD-style packing, we really only missed out on showers and breakfast. And the latter was amply provided for at the airport, after Jo dropped us off (hero!).

Babysitter A flew up with us. I don't think she'd ever seen the logistics of travelling with three small children first hand. She was a very good sport.

Paid $25 because our main bag was overweight because one of Scabby's parting gifts was pissing all over our smaller alternate bag. I anticipated the charge and so wasn't too irritated--until that same bag failed to show up at our destination.

The bag still wasn't located after an hour of investigation, so we carried on to Seymour's folks home.

Dinner at Nishin0's in Madis0n Park. Mmmmm.

Back home, still no bag. I slept in my clothes.

Woke up next morning, still no bag. Babysitter A and I threw all three kids in the car, I borrowed her socks, went commando, bade Seymour a hearty farewell, and drove up to Vancouver.

Met my baby cousin Machete at my 96-year-old Auntie Diamond's apartment. Auntie D was not in the greatest of spirits, though she was happy to see us. In the 18 months since we saw her last, her eyesight has plonked (she couldn't read 18 pt. type), her hearing has gone fuzzy, her balance has fizzled (she now uses a walker) and her hands have gone too stiff to hold a pen or utensil. Leelo lasted about 90 minutes in her very small quarters before he started being uncontainable, and we had to leave. Felt horrible about the short visit, Auntie D was visibly disappointed.

Remembered that everything in Vancouver is always twice as far (distance and time) as I think it is. I thought we could fit in the visit to Auntie D (eastern Burnaby), Roots Outlet (eastern Vancouver), the Aquarium (north of Downtown), the Naam (Kitsilano, I think), and a visit to Machete's big sister Andie and her two-week-old baby Audrey II (Richmond) during a day trip to Canada. Ha! We lost the Roots and Naam legs and did just fine. Plus I managed to feel like a drug seeker in asking for literally over-the-counter codeine for an anonymous friend ("How many do you want?" "Uh, how many can I have?"). And Audrey II is a sweet little bug who already has the Anglo-Slavic family nose, in the cutest possible baby way.

Leelo and Babysitter continued held themselves together, trooper-like as we started home. However Mali, halfway through our drive back to Seattle, decided that she really didn't like her newly forward-facing car seat, and commenced screaming. She would only stop if we stopped and then I took her out of the chair and nursed.

...and there was a lot else that happened, mostly that Leelo was on the warpath and visibily unhappy to be there, even almost toppled his Grandmother in a fit of wanting to play with her but not knowing how to ask, and scared the shit out of her. So the inlaws (granparents as well as sister and brother-in-law) now have a clear sense of how difficult it is for us to travel with the boy, and what sort of effort it takes simply to be his parent.

But there were nice parts. Got to meet Elsewhere of Travels in Booland, and eat a lot of really good food. Everyone went all-out to help us despite the craziness of a Rosenberg Xmas (Seymour's brother and Dad basically staged Iron Chef Amerika in several nights--weren't we the lucky tasting audience). Everyone, especially my sister-in-law Bree, was so thoughtful about Leelo and our having hit and then left behind the bandwidth wall.

Short version: we won't be traveling with Leelo again any time soon, at least not to any place wihtout a pool. But we enjoyed the family parts.
Merry Miss Mali

Mali turned 13 months old on Monday the 26th.

God damn but if she isn't the cutest thing ever. Seriously. Who wouldn't be a sucker for a baby who, when she sees you, starts squealing and motoring towards you, grinning so hard it looks like her head is going to split at the hinges.

She imitates me brushing my hair. Will demand my brush and then do it herself.

She holds full-on conversations in her own private language. Especially when you're holding something she wants to eat. Then she nods nods nods at the food item while enthusiastically describing exactly what you are holding and exactly how much she'd like to eat it. I will try to record and post this as it is hilarious.

Loves to look at herself in the mirror, repeating her name.

Most often used words are "up," "apple" (meaning food in general), "yogurt" (meaning food in general), and "cracker" (meaning food in general).

There are only so many times you can ask yourself "Did she really just do that?" (for instance, hitting her head and saying "ow," thanks Leelo.)

I love watching her think, seeing her scan things and the variety of expressions on her face as she considers that which she's examining.

She has different waves, for hi, bye, even for come here. Sometimes she says "Hi, bye," as well.

The other day she placed all the toy pianos in a circle around her, so she could alternate between them without having to move.

It is easier to grocery shop with her and Leelo if he is in the cart seat and she is in the bin. Or it used to be until she started going into the fruit- or vegetable- bags and extracting anything she liked to eat (it never occurred to me that she would do this until I found her partway through an apple).

She is doing basic shape sorters. If she sees me take a piece out of her sorter she will watch where I put it, go get it, and then put it back in the right slot. (Her formal MYND Institute 12 month report arrived while we were gone, stating that she is above age level in visual problem-solving and at age level in all other things.) It may be that other babies do this at 6 months, but I am still quite impressed.

She is finally allowing us to read books to her instead of merely regarding them as fun objects to tear apart (finally!). She will even insist on reading them again, anticipating favorite parts and starting to laugh as they approach; She then goes through the books on her own and verbally approximates favorite passages.

Though she prefers to hold the books upside down. Oookay...

Baby food is all done. She gets whatever we're eating; she's fine with almost all of it (At Japanese restaurants, she eats: Miso soup including mushrooms, tofu, seaweed. Seaweed salad, including chili flakes. All tempura vegetables, including asparagus. Nori. Masago. Edamame. Inari.) She likes lamb, but likes chewing on lamb bones even more. Guess this one won't be a vegetarian. Eggs still get spit out, though. Iz and Merlin were also good eaters at this age, so I'm going to enjoy it while we can.

Loves to climb into any drawer. Likes to empty any drawer.

Overall she is a cheerful happy girl, too cute for words.

Hair is still wispy and see through in the front, but is getting fuller. Barrettes don't work really well yet as her hair is too thin and silky for them to stay stuck.

She is still not that into walking. She will do demonstrations for applause, but doesn't yet buy into it as a valid method of locomotion. Which is fine by me as our top-of-stairs gate is still in the garage.

She is still miserable to dress. Twisting and shouting the entire time, despite my singing, despite an arsenal of changing-table-side "distractors."

Still chokes and sputters a lot when drinking from anything that is not me. But is getting better.

Still nursing far too much for my tolerance. It is no longer all that enjoyable to me; I want my fucking body back, or at least for the rack to do its usual post-nursing three cup sizes deflation). I am trying to cut her off during the day but not having much luck. When she's overtired she does aerobics while nursing yet does not release me from her iron jaw clamp. Ow.

Bittersweetly, she's already ahead of Leelo with the pointing and waving, and comprehending how to take a bite of food.

Sweet girl.
(Autism) Knowledge Is Power

For those of us autism parents no longer hung up on recovery, and who are instead looking for tools to help us better parent our autistic children:

Tiny Tim Time

Susan Senator's book Making Peace With Autism

(I found both of these via www.autismdiva.org, also a worthy site though not a soothing one.)


One Smart Fucking Boy

Leelo just had a really fantastic conceptual breakthrough. I've never seen or heard him do anything like it before! Witness:

Leelo: "mumble mumble mumble animal..."

Seymour (going with it): "That's right, Leelo. A dog is an animal. A cat is an animal. A pig is an animal..."

Leelo: "A cow is an animal! A duck is an animal! A fish is an animal! A frog is an animal! An owl is an animal! A tiger is an animal!"

Seymour, in total shock, almost faints.

That is a fairly fantastic demonstration of comprehension and extrapolation for our boy.

This is so great coming on the heels of a therapist-free day in which I spent seeming hours trying to help Leo recognize that the counter has its own name, which is not "floor" (it still hasn't stuck); in which I realized that, even though no stranger has ever said anything to me, his behavior has deteriorated to the point now where no one is ever going to mistake him for a typical kid (constant verbal, oral, and or fidget stims, with occasional just plain odd behavioral outbursts, and...um...occasional please-god-let-it-be-a-passing-phase doglike leg humping); in which I continued working with him on saying/shaking his head for no, and saying/nodding yes, only to realize that while Leelo was having occasional success (he bobs his head like an obsequious Cockney), Mali was imitating me perfectly. Sigh.

So, yay Leelo. Thank you for reminding me how awesome you are.
Who Needs Plastic Surgery When You've Got Photoshop?

This site
is astounding. And fun to play with, too!

Here's the site's stated agenda:

"The media world is becoming increasingly fixated on appearances. And the number of tricks used to achieve the increasingly exaggerated ideals is growing. Many models have plastic surgery and even more are retouched so they appear to have bigger breasts, smaller stomachs or fuller lips.

"We wanted to show how easy it is to change someone’s appearance in this campaign.

Thank you, Sweden. First Volvos, then ABBA and Lingonberries, now this.

Via Sa1on Magazine's excellent Br0adsheet.

Therapist L just called in sick. I guess we'll go to the Cafe instead, where they will tolerate Leelo's shenanigans. Also, I will remind myself not to crow about my good fortune and the glorious alignment of The Fates until such things have already passed.


The Happiest Place in the World Is My Own Bed

Back! So fucking happy to be back! Will write details tomorrow! (Cha! Scoffs anyone who reads here regularly.)

Teaser detail: Do not teach your autistic son to use his grandparents' elevator. Otherwise, the moment your back is turned, he will dash into the elevator, slam the door shut, and set it in motion--and you will have no option but to pray like hell that he will choose to open the elevator door when he reaches the other floor. Which, thankfully he will do. No need to tell your spouse about this incident until your blood thaws enough for your heart to restart beating, which will take about 24 hours.

Tomorrow morning, Thursday morning, Friday morning, I have absolutely free! Leelo will be in session at home (my Gods is he happy to be home). No stupid fucking baby music classes, no reading with Iz's charming but monosyllabic classmates, NOTHING. Except hanging out with Mali, of course (Iz is still in Seattle with her gparents). I may even have tomorrow and Thursday afternoons free, with no Iz- or Leelo-picking up to suck all the air and energy out of me. Friday afternoon may be similarly boundless as well, though Iz will be back by then.

So many possibilities. One thing I know for damn sure, though, is that I am getting me an egg breakfast at Bucket's tomorrow. 9 A.M. Who's with me?
Oh! Oh! Oh!

We held a welcoming ceremony for Mali last February. At that point, three of my friends who had been trying to get pregnant for good long whiles, still weren't. All three of them were on my mind that day, as we celebrated our bonus baby.

As of today, all three of them have gotten lucky. Rah!



Seymour shaved off his moustache! Gaaaaah!

I haven't seen his upper lip in eleven years. I thought that perhaps his clean-shaveness was a drunken mis-remembering after Ms. Jane's rollicky party of last night (Seymour hung out with Godmother Stacy instead, upon her and my request), but no--he just stumbled all blinky out of our room to see if it was Leelo who was up at this early hour, and there it was--his naked face.

He did keep the bottom lip caterpillar. Which I feel is moot--might as well let it all go, and have total baby-butt face.

Iz is off to the Dickenz fest today with Anya and Carys and their daughter India. Rah! The better for me to go totally crazy with the packing and holiday prepping before we leave for Seattle in the A.M.

Thanks again to Ms. Jane for last night's party, and for Ep's Clyde's driving me home afterwards.
Ha Ha Holidays

I am currently pounding out our holiday newsletter. You may wonder why we bother, but I must say that I really enjoy reading other people's letters and hope that a small fraction of the folks we're avalanching with ours feel the same way. However as I have been a bit sour lately (going so far as to shriek righteous profanities at unsuspecting sexist Anglo pigs in local taquerias), my version was a bit pissy. Seymour has since cleaned it up.



I am now shutting the fuck up about my whiny busy overloadedness. Pooooooor me. Right! I wonder what this local gentleman would say if he read my blog. Because, unlike him, I am not a single, recently homeless parent on disability with seven children including two sets of twins under five (one of the four-year-olds being autistic).

Please click on the link and donate generously if you can.

(Thanks to Sage for the link.)


Leelo Pick-Me-Up

Leelo had me giggling this afternoon with an unexpected language burst (again, he's been a nutter lately, and interaction has not been great).

I said, "Hey, Leelo, how about some Cheeeri0s?"
Leelo said, "How about some croissant?"

In addition to being very funny if you know Leelo (he will do aaaaanything for a croissant), it shows great verbal integration and synthesis. Go Leelo!

We are having more naturalistic verbal exchanges lately, simple and brief though they are. For instance, if I ask, "Leelo, what do you want?", his ABA training would have him robot back: "I want the chewie." But now, he says "I want the chewie, Mommy," or simply answers: "The chewie." Excellent!
Off to the Great Catbox in the Sky

The vet thinks Scabby has spinal lymphoma. She and I agreed that, given Scabby's age (14), and her general decline in health over the last year, it's time to let her go. I will put Cat Heaven in my bag, pick up Iz from school, and we will give her a snuggle and say goodbye.

Here is our stinky neurotic but ever so sweet kitty, as photographed by Iz last year:


Head Sinking Onto the Keyboard As I Wait for the Vet to Call

The vet is supposed to call any minute now. To some it might sound harsh, but if they do not think Scabby will be capable of self-care for the rest of her life then I think we should deliver her from her misery. But I prefer not to think about it at all.

How do people function in medical school? Grinding continuously, not sleeping, yet expected to function not only normally, but at peak? How How How? This is the question I keep asking myself. Not that I would be capable of that type of performance, but it still sizzles my wizzles that I work so fucking hard all day, every day, but very little gets done, judging by the sizes of the piles of laundry, housework, and bills/correspondence I've yet to attend to. Plus there is filling out the paperwork for Leelo's admission to the Deadwood School District: Special Needs Edition, comments requested by tomorrow on the latest design for the new house (we staked out its footprint in the yard last Friday). A few holiday decorations are up but practically nothing, and every time I get something organized and put away Miss Mali comes around and undoes it:

Bonus points if you can guess which author she's about to desecrate.

That baby is fortunate to have such a winning disposition. It keeps me from leaving her on peoples' doorsteps after yet another night in which I am up working until 1 A.M., crawl into bed and read for 15 minutes, turn off the light and roll over with a luxurious sigh, only to hear "Ba ba ba? Itch gwAIII doh ma ma ma!"

The nursing will somehow knock my awake switch back to on, and I will stay up fretting about whether or not we can actually afford to build a new house, whether it is morally questionable to do so when that money would be best put towards Leelo's program so Seymour's parents don't have to foot 90% of the bill, whether we could be just as happy in a larger house down the hill, where it's cheaper. Away from this yard that feeds my soul. Sigh.

Basically I have been operating on three to six hours of sleep a night for several weeks now and I am so tired I can no longer smile.

Where the fuck is that vet? She said she'd call 77 minutes ago.

I am not a squeamish person, generally. I don't like to read about or see images of trepanning, but otherwise I usually remain calm when encountering things ooky or icky.

However, last night the neighbors got to hear me one-up that rat hollering significantly when I pulled what I thought was a twig off of my backpack, put it right up to my nose to see what kind of twig it was, and discovered instead that it was a mummified ensatina. I don't think I've ever screamed like that in my life. Everyone upstairs thought I'd accidentally chopped off a body part. I wish! Poor critter.

Speaking of poor critters, Iz, Mali, and I went to visit Scabby at the hospital yesterday. She still looked like absolute crap, still couldn't stand, was barely able to track us visually or move her head, and smelled like pee because I'm sure she's peeing on herself all the time because kitty bedpans don't work so great.

They don't know what's wrong with her. They've done all sorts of tests. She's not diabetic; she was dehydrated but her sodium was low, not high; her heart is racing even when she's asleep but they did a cardiac ultrasound and there's nothing visibly wrong there either. They think she might have eaten some toxic foliage, but we don't have house plants. I am going to go in and see the doctor this morning. I have to say that she looks as bad or worse than her companion Diamond did during her last days. Not feeling optimistic.


If You Absolutely Must Shop

Buy B1ue's Xmas 2005 List.

This morning as I was rotating our lovely organic compost bin, a RAT poked its head up mid-churn (through a hole in the cover that it had chewed for itself and I hadn't noticed). Being a big suck I yelled my head off not because I'm afraid of rats but because I might have shredded poor defenseless rat pups.

I suspect we will have to thoroughly clean the bin and then dispose of what was two years' worth of really great compost. Sigh. And rotate the new batch more frequently!
How It Could Be

Sometimes Leelo turns into a completely normal kid for a split second, just long enough for me to see the boy he might have been. Thank heavens for when this happens, because I have been feeling a bit down about him and his behavior--even though I know his tailspinning has to do with illness rather than a decline in abilities. My outlook is not helped when darling but neurotypical little boys in restaurants who look almost exactly like Leelo and are obviously the same age come up and ask to play with him.

Thankfully Leelo gave me a pick-me-up this morning. When I came up from behind him and said, "Good morning, Leelo," he turned around, gave me full eye contact, raised up his hand in a typical good morning salute, and said "Good morning, Mommy"--with perfect articulation! Therapist L and I went into squealling fits of praise and hugs. It was so cool. Especially since he's been sick for a month now and so things have been shitty indeed, behaviorally.

Of course, Mali can not only salute, but wave hi and bye spontaneously and upon only overhearing someone say "wave." Plus she has two distinct hand gestures for "pick me up" and "come here." Sigh.

Mali also has been sick, for more than five weeks now. I thought she was getting better last night, but this morning her eyes and nose are streaming lovely green mucus trails. I hope they both improve by the time we leave for Seattle/Vancouver on Monday.


Think Good Cat-Speak Thoughts for Scabby

Scabby is in the hospital as I write this. We awoke thie morning to find her laying in front of the bathroom door, not blinking, breathing harshly, and unable to stand up. Poor kitty!

I took her to the vet accompanied by Leelo and Mali, as Therapist Y twisted his ankle and had to cancel this A.M. I thought our kitty might have had a stroke, but they haven't yet found anything obviously or definitively wrong with her.

I know I complain about her bed shitting and scabbiness a lot, but she really is a sweetheart as well as the world's best purry pillow and lap warmer. So think good thoughts for her, please.


Girl Babies Everywhere

Dee had her wee baby girl Teli (a.k.a. C3PO) almost two weeks ago. Yet her family's Christmas cards--custom photo cards featuring new baby and big sister Artoo--are already arriving on peoples' doorsteps! It ain't fittin'... it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'... It ain't fittin'. I would say Dee's still high from the labor drugs, but she had a natural birth (ow!). Plus I suspect her spouse had a hand in all that dastardly timeliness.

Congratulations to the entire family, anyhoo. Hurrah! Two girls. Fun.

Seymour, Iz, Mali, and I finally got to meet Godmother Stacy's two-month-old twins Ella and Millie last week end (sick Leelo stayed with Babysitter A so as to keep his germs away from susceptible infants). The girls are a matched pair of buttons, too cute. And Stacy and partner are so calm, it floored me. Of course--as Stacy pointed out--they do have a lot of help, but so do I and my house still looks like some giant thought it was a snowglobe. Theirs is museum-perfect.

To me, anyhow. Apparently Stacy's mom found a crumb and a hair in one of Stacy's utensil drawers and got sniffy, saying some unkind things about Stacy's (immaculate!) housekeeping. (As if Stacy is the only adult in the house! I'm just going to keep sputtering.) The worst was that, after Stacy protested that she'd just had twins, her mom scoffed and said "Yeah, two months ago." I do love Stacy's mom, but had I been there I would have torn out her liver. Grrrr.

My cousin Guggs (Japan resident) and his Japanese girlfriend had a girl of their own in October. They named her Audrey. Guggs's sister Andie almost died from spontaneous combustion upon hearing her new niece's name, as she was expecting a girl herself before Christmas, and she and her husband had long been set on that same name, in honor of a family member. Guess they never told Guggs, though. And they truly were set, because Audrey II arrived last week. First cousins, same name, both girls, less than six weeks apart, one half Japanese, one half Filipino (my cousins are caucasoidal).

Too funny.



Finally got our Grinch letter sent out via email, so we could properly spit in the face of the kind people who usually send us gifts:

Hello Family and Friends,

Way back in the optimistic haze of November, Seymour and I started working on this year's original holiday letter, below. We really did think we'd be lobbing holiday love-bombs in a timely fashion. (Stop laughing!) Here goes:

The Holiday season is upon us. Seymour and I are thrilled at the thought of spending time with family and friends.

If you've already found the perfect gift for us, read no further. We love opening presents! [Seymour does, anyhow.]

But if you had planned on purchasing a gift for us and have not yet done so, this year we humbly ask you to direct your good will towards a charitable cause of your choosing. We are truly blessed and have more possessions than we could possibly ever need.

We'd also be honored if you chose to donate something in our name. We've set up a Giving Registry through an organization called GlobalGiving. They connect donors directly to social, economic development, and environmental projects around the world. The projects we selected are doing vital work in India, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan and the world's oceans.

Seymour has had the great privilege of meeting the leadership of all these projects through his work at The Wack Showcase of Widgetry. They all apply technology in innovative ways to address some of humanity's most difficult problems: hunger, illiteracy, sanitation, poverty, and sustainable fisheries.

To access this GlobalGiving registry, please visit: http://www.globalgiving.com/registry/ and type our last name in the search box.

Much love and best wishes for the holidays. We love you and hope to see you soon.

Squid, Seymour, Isobel, Leelo, and Mali
Black Hole of Aural Ecstasy

Oh geez Louise. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Via Karin, who professed innocence at the time. Right.
No No. 2

Iz, from the back seat:

"Mommy, why isn't food more efficient? Why aren't our bodies more efficient? I mean, if our small intestines could just absorb all the food, then we wouldn't need our large intestines at all! We wouldn't need to have anuses! That would be a lot more convenient."

Me (what's there to discuss?): "Yup, you're right. And I'm all for convenience."
Didn't Go

Last night was WWD up in San Francisco. I'd been looking forward to it for months, but then at the last minute opted to send Seymour without me. Which apparently worried some of my friends. So, know that simply:

1) I am tired.
2) I blew it with the babysitting arrival times last night, and that was my fault, not Seymour's, so I told him to go.
3) I realized upon the babysitters' arrival (not C. S., but rather her daughter and Marroqui) that they were not quite experienced enough to deal with putting all three kids to bed, and that I didn't feel comfortable leaving the city limits lest they should need me.
4) The social arrangements were getting complicated, the bar was going to be crowded, some of Badger's friends are snippy to me, all of which make for a three-pronged introvert nightmare.

So I opted out. Had a perfectly lovely dinner all by myself, with my book. Yeah!
Not Sleeping Well

"...by studying videos of children taken a year apart, observers blinded to a child's diagnosis and regression history found evidence that infants who were later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders with regression appeared to have similar interpersonal skills and advanced communication abilities compared with typical kids at 12 months of age, only to lose those abilities by 24 months."



Iz got her ears pierced last night. She asked Seymour and me about it the night before, we said sure she could, and so after a provisions run we then scoped the local tattoo/piercing/head/altwear shop to see if they could accommodate her.

Not only were they totally cool and nice and professional, but we were in and out in less than ten minutes. She was brave and steadfast.

She couldn't wait to get home so she could phone her grandparents with the news. Which she did thusly:

"Grandma! It's Izzy! Guess what I got pierced!"



You know what improves my mood? Music. Except I've no time to search out new stuff. Ideally a mix from Skip would magically appear in my mailbox, but until then perhaps y'all could recommend some downloadable mood lifters? Sal0n had a great one the other day but I couldn't figure out how to get it onto my Nan0.


Storm Clouds

Things have been far too stressful for far too long and I don't know what to do about it. Recent events with a friend and her partner have left me worried that I don't know how to get my partner a break so that he doesn't crack. One of us has to remain hinged. Yet we've less than two weeks in which to do all that needs to be done for the holidays--on top of taming our usual chaos--before we go to Seattle. Once we get there the stress-o-meter will stay at eleven for eight days straight.

How stressful are things? Stressful enough that I screamed at my six year old daughter last night, to shut up and stop whining. Result? She spent this afternoon on her best behavior, doing everything I asked in a timely fashion. Not because that is her natural inclination, but rather because I scared the shit out of her and now she's afraid of making me angry. That's some fine parenting, hooo dawgie. Give me a medal!

Every night as I go to sleep, I tell myself that at least the next day will be better. Who the fuck am I kidding? Here is my today, and it is not atypical:

  • -Therapist L calls to cancel for today (morning: therapy at home, afternoon: Iron Gate aide) as she had a medical emergency.
  • -Exit house at 7:30 to take Leelo to Occupational Therapy in Deadwood Shores
  • -Slip on ice-slick exterior wood stairs, fall flat on back and see former sleeping babe-in-arms hit cold hard stair. Thankfully she only rolled off my shoulder, but that is sure as hell not how she would choose to wake up.
  • -Go inside, check out baby, calm down baby
  • -Re-exit house, gingerly
  • -Walk by our only piece of nice luggage, which is airing in front of the garage as Scabby pissed on it.
  • -Call Pediatrician on way to OT as Mali has been sick for four weeks now, and things have become crusty (eyes and nose). Also cough is really chesty and looks like it hurts. Leave message.
  • -Arrive 7 minutes late for OT. Which costs $2/minute.
  • -Go to Satan's Coffee, congratulating myself for at least remembering to bring my own cup. Too bad I brought the wrong lid. Exit store bearing paper cup.
  • -Pick up Leelo, who had a tolerable session with some good coloring and scissor work. Yay Leelo!
  • -Run errands on way home. Advice nurse calls while I am in check out line. I try to move to the side so as to delay checking out but clerk pointedly starts scanning my items while I am on phone talking about my very sick baby while also Mali whines on my hip and Leelo tries to escape my hold on his wrist. Mali needs to come in and see a doctor.
  • -Dash home. Frantically prepare Leelo's and Mali's backpacks for Iron Gate. Spaz over preparing snack for Iron Gate kids and parents.
  • -Team meeting at home, with Supervisor M, Therapist S, and (yay!) Sage. Good but long discussion. Leelo has been having a shitty three weeks since we returned from Phoenix, and we are concentrating on removing stressors from his environment. However he is not losing any skills, not regressing. No point in adding anything new to program as we're traveling again, soon.
  • -Leelo drops glass cup on tile floor, mid-meeting. It shatters all around his feet and he cuts his finger, which I do not notice until Supervisor M points it out--Mother of the Year! Cut is small and stops bleeding quickly, which is good as Leelo will not tolerate band aids.
  • -Supervisor M brings a selection of books for kids about autism and suggests that most are insufficient and that I should write a better one. YEAH. Maybe in 2010.
  • -Run Leelo and Mali to Iron Gate. Saintly Supervisor M takes over first part of Therapist L's shift with Leelo.
  • -Arrive in Iron Gate kitchen. Realize that previous kitcheneer declined to put away clean dishes from dish rack and dishwasher. Nark on said person to Iron Gate president. Feel smaller blood vessels popping inside cranium, as working Kitchen/snack is stressful enough without even the slightest additional demands.
  • -Sage arrives to say hi and puts away all the dishes! Goddess!
  • -Realize after prepping snack and giving several people breaks that snack time has not been called and it is getting late.
  • -Leelo is handed to me by Supervisor M as she needs to leave to pick up her own kids (saint!). Hip-load Leelo as I finish up a teaching lesson. Leelo then helps me wheel the snack cart down to snack area.
  • -Children are snarling little demons, wrestling over banana muffins and deserving to have tiny horns branded on the sides of their foreheads. I resolve to never have children.
  • -Leelo, now free-range, dashes through my field of vision from time to time.
  • -Snack ends late late late. I sprint back to the kitchen to start cleaning up, as I'd intended to clean up early so as to be Leelo's bedrock during circle time (he cannot attend unaided).
  • -Saintly JL comes on Teacher P's orders to take over clean up so I can help Leelo.
  • -I help Leelo for five minutes (he does so well!) but then Mali starts howling from the nursery and I'm told to take her, too.
  • -The shift from hell finally ends
  • -As I am dropping of Sage's Ki (Leelo's carpooly classmate) at home I remember that I never retrieved the snack tray from the nursery (where Mali and all the micro-Gaters are penned while their parents toil). Go me!
  • -Retrieve Iz from Badger's popcorn-and-cranberry string fest. Am so implosive that I yell at Iz again--in front of everyone--this time for forgetting her coat at school. Make no eye contact with anyone (more on that later) and leave quickly.
  • -Come home to find ants invading entire home, specifically kitchen. Sweep them all outside and leave more deadly forms of warfare to Seymour.
  • -Seymour calls at time he usually arrives home to tell me that he's just leaving his office 30 minutes away.
  • -Realize that that same body of mine that took a pratfall on the stairs this A.M. is now very sore.
  • -Finally remember to call back Pediatrician to make appointment for Mali. However the office is closed for the day.
  • -Mali takes forever to go to sleep.
  • -And here I am.
I must say that I love my friends dearly, but that I simply cannot tolerate being around them right now. And yes these would be the same friends who picked up Iz from school this afternoon (Jo), hosted her all afternoon (Badger), and had her over to play all day on Saturday (Ep). I am having a hard time articulating why but it's mostly rooted in jealousy over their large slots of child-free time, so I'll just trust that you can understand and avoid me for now.

I am not always the very worst mom in the entire world. Granted, my baby hasn't had her nails trimmed in several weeks, I just realized that my son hasn't been taking his calcium supplements for oh, a YEAR now, and my husband had to pick up tooth fairy slack this past week when I spaced not only on Iz's first front tooth-losing and all related subterfuge and follow-up, but on the second as well (the second is more understandable as she swallowed it).

But I don't always entirely suck. Witness the below: a code with which to track down all the clues in her advent box. (A code which does suck as I whipped out in five minutes, but as she's six she doesn't care.) I wrote it out the evening of Dec. 1st after she started wondering why Santa hadn't put out her advent box yet. Said box has a wee giftie drawer for each of the twenty-four days leading up to Christmas. The next morning she found this key, a clue, and had herself a short hunt leading to her very own egg separator.

I think it would be very funny if people were to write her short letters in her code. It would lend weight to my line that Santa created it, not me, and that he's distributed it to certain types of parents (i.e., that slim cross section containing both cool cats and Santaphiles). Let me know if you need her snail mail address.


Two Teef

Iz has lost both front teeth. The timing is good--she was very excited to ask for them back on her letter to Santa (in whom she still believes, believe it or don't).

Our poor girl has a lot of big teeth in a small jaw. We have taken to calling her "Flukie" behind her back:


Traveling Blues

Two nights ago Seymour and I were watching the Tour de Faso (Burkina Faso, that is; we have been there) and I was getting depressed because it's been far too long since we've been to Africa, and it will be far too long again until we get to go anywhere that isn't special needs family friendly.

(Aside: I am only going to write this once more and then never bring it up again, though I might put it on the about page: Yes, only a privileged sort can whine about missing trips to Africa. I should and do count my blessings. That doesn't mean I can't complain about things in my life that are not going as expected. Fuck off.)

Last night I was chatting about my traveling blues with Armada, Violet's mom (who was just in Zamb1a for three weeks, sometimes I HATE HER but only out of pure green envy) because she of all people understands the need to see what other parts of the world are like. She mentioned that some of her friends were going to the Dog0n region of Mali in the near future. I mentioned that a friend of mine is a guide there. I contacted him to see how he's doing, and to ask if he could help her friends out, and...check it out! He's got his own web site. How cool is that.


Birthday Baby

White cake was really very effective in terms of making her face- and hand-wiping needs appear less imperative. Also I didn't feel like dealing with food coloring. Iz, Violet, and I made the cake and icing from scratch--because if I say "I'm going to teach you how to make a cake," then that cake is sure as fuck not coming from a box--but I couldn't summon up the energy to push additional decorative boundaries. Pink icing sugar over a cut out and then peeled off "1" was what happened. And it was fine.


Comic Interlude

I am so sad over my friend's sadness. How could this be her current reality?

To distract, an Iz conversation from two days ago:

Iz: "So, first you got your tubes tied, and then you and Daddy stopped having sexual intercourse to be totally sure you wouldn't have any more babies?"

Me: "Well, Iz, that is a private matter, so I am sorry but I am not going to answer your question."

She seemed to get it, I think. In the mean time, beware anyone to whom she puts her "Do you feel comfortable talking about reproduction?" query.


Also, she lost her first front tooth on Mali's birthday. The other one is hanging by a thread, and she looks entirely snaggletoothed.

Last night we saw HP4, and I would like to offer a rousing "FUCK OFF" to people who go to kids' movies and then look askance at the children in attendance who are so excited that they can't always remember to whisper. I cried when Harry brought his friend's body back to the stadium, Iz did not. Ep says Iz's empathy chip will click on in two months when she turns seven.

Mali's birthday was good fun. She mushed all sorts of cake in her face, though not so much in her hair. A mellow party with good friends. Badger brought an octopus-shaped massager (stop snickering, fans of naughty anime) and it was the hit of the party.

Today I took the wee bit to the MYND Institute for her 12 month checkup. They couldn't stop remarking on how cute she was, how analytical and methodical, how advanced she was in some ways, how friendly, how easy-going yet focused.

I am worried that the intense focusing tends to interfere with her responding properly to her name, but that is of course my extreme paranoia poking through.

Right as they were trying to get me to see if she could walk, she took five steps towards me, the most ever yet. The evaluator was thrilled to catch it on camera. Also she is over 20 lbs so I think it's time for a big girl car seat, facing forward.

Many thanks to Seymour, who played the part of Me all day today and who even worked my Iron Gate shift. Also Jo for picking up Iz. And kudos to the Iron Gate moms who loaned Seymour a car seat to get Sage's Kiki home from Iron Gate, because I fucked up and forgot to write that entry on his schedule. D'OH! That'll teach me to assume I've got my own schedule memorized. Repeat: Must Check Calendar Every Night.


Bye Bye Baby

This is Mali's official last day as a baby. Tomorrow she will be one. How the fuck is that possible?

She is celebrating by taking the first nap in our bed (her bed too) in recent memory. Consolidating naps, she is. Oh well, it's not as though she's ever napped in a manner that was in any way useful to me, so she might as well cut down.

Also last night she took her first step, or "stagger" as witness Ep would say.

After we got home from a very fun though completely draining Thxgiving at JP's house and were greeted by the cats, I said, "Hey, Mali, say 'meow' to the kitty."

"MEOW!!!!" yelled Mali. So she's sentient after all.

A lot of kids later diagnosed with autism are happy bright and chatty up until age 14 or 15 months, but I have to say I am feeling optimistic. She is a very different baby than Leelo was at the same age.


Short Bus!

Both MB and Sage told me something yesterday I'd not even considered. If your child qualifies for special ed district services through the city or county, then that district will send a bus to come get your child for their classes. Woo! How cool is that?

Short discussion with the sorely missed MB about how this was the year we thought we'd be prepping our kids for mainstreaming in kindergarten, and how...well, let's just say that we're considering all options. And that we're grateful for environments in which our kids aren't the outliers.

Also it was just good to hear from my friend. Although every time I talk to her I must admit that I'm forcibly reacquainted with the spectrum quality of our kids' identical diagnoses. She was telling me how her Sophie loves her Laepster. The only time Leelo has even noticed Iz's is to chew on its stylus. Different kids.

I was also telling her how Seymour and I are starting to wonder if Leelo doesn't have straight ahead autism, but rather a combo of severe ADHD, Tourette's, and slight OCD. But that is really me talking out of my ass. His social and communicative impairments are pronounced. He probably just has all that other shit, too.

Yesterday was one of the worst Leelo days ever. He was so off, so jitterbuggy, so lost that he couldn't even remember to pull his pants up after going potty. I watched him toodle around the house for a good five minutes with his pants around his ankles, even though I'd reminded him to pull them up. Normally he takes care of such things on his own, without prompting.

I am going to write and drop off Leelo's Deadwood school district intake letter today, damn it.
How Seriously Do You Take Feminism? How About If You're Male?

"Conservatives contend that the dropouts prove that feminism “failed” because it was too radical, because women didn’t want what feminism had to offer. In fact, if half or more of feminism’s heirs (85 percent of the women in my Times sample), are not working seriously, it’s because feminism wasn’t radical enough: It changed the workplace but it didn’t change men, and, more importantly, it didn’t fundamentally change how women related to men."

-Linda Hirshman

Want more? Via Br0adsheet.


Chattering Teeth

Starting to worry about our Xmas trip to Seatt1e. Sigh. We love Seymour's parents and his brother and wife and their kids, but they and their lifestyles and values are wacky-different from us and ours. Because I do not have a fully developed sense of self, I find these weeks soul-crushing. I do not like feeling like I am an ass just because I am left-leaning, pudgy (the other two women are wafery, though they do not verbally obsess about it), and fashion-challenged.

There aren't any arguments, or insults, or slights. These are kind people. My discomfort springs from unintentional slights or exclusions (which in turn stem from being non-extroverted as well as perceived as the least interesting person there), and from always being greeted with a declaration that I must have lost weight!

Not that I don't have fun. Who wouldn't, as Seymour's folks are beyond hospitable, and go to extra lengths for their grandkids. They are once again bringing San+a (private audience for the kids), reindeer, and snow to their yard. But all our Seatt1e friends are going to be gone, or are Jewish or Pagans, and most likely won't come join in.

My biggest worry is that Iz will start to internalize their values rather than ours. She has already started to tell people how her "abuelos son muy ricos," in a tone of wonderment though not yet pride. I have been taking pains to tell her that we are not them, that living in a very big house is actually a logistical nightmare for slacker-leaning types like her and me. But perhaps we can get her to bug them about getting a recycling program in place.

They do have a full wet bar, though. I suspect that while I am on duty, the kids will spend a lot of time locked in the racquetball court while I gaze on from up high, occasionally saluting them with my highball glass. There will be frequent outings to non-mall, non-restaurant places (suggestions?). Also we will spend a day up in Vanc0uver visiting my three 90+ year old aunties.

I am being a complete dick about this, as well as inarticulate. Come, regale me with tales of why you also dread spending big bolts of time with your nice in-laws.
Streaming From the Ears

Forgot other stuff, about kids mostly:

Iz realized today after diving back into It's So Amazing (called "That BOOK" by Anarchy her preschool teacher) that Seymour and I must have conceived her via "sexual intercourse."

Iz: "But what are the other natural ways to conceive a child?"
Me: "Natural? What do you mean?"
Iz: "I mean besides sexual intercourse!"
Me: "None that I can think of. None that we've used."
Iz: "You mean you did that for Leelo? And Mali too?"
Me: "Yup. What did you think we did?"
Iz: "I don't know, I thought maybe it happened up in the air..." (wanders off, looking pensive.)

Later on we had a nice conversation about whacking off (she used the term "masturbation," love that book) and how of course it feels good, that's how our bodies are designed, with clitorises that have a bajillion nerve endings, many more so than other places on the body. How despite this logic both her grandmothers would fall over in dead faints were she to use the word "masturbation" in front of them. She thought it was silly that the urethra connects to the bladder rather than the uterus, based on the way they're all pronounced.

Leelo has been off his rocker since we got back from Phx, mostly due to sugar and artifical colorings/flavorings, methinks. He's been ravenous, too. Hasn't been like this in months. His stomach got all distended and his output has been prolific. Might need to ask the biomed list about this reaction. He is hyper and hard to put down at night as well. He is also humping stuff a lot, still. Gaaah. Saying "no penis, no thank you" doesn't seem to register.

Mali is the cutest fucking baby in the world, as always. See?

She is really talking. Saying Hi There and waving, asking What's That, I swear saying "yes" in answer to questions, talking to the cats in their own language. etc. Plus she is absolutely cheerful, hilarious, hyper-social. Wonder what the MYND Inst. folks will make of her next week.

A friend's 23 month son is not really talking and listening much at all. After hemming for months as I don't want to be the messenger who gets killed, I wrote her a brief email listing my concerns, assuring her that my worries were purely language-related, and listing two community sources for evaluations and therapy. As Sage says, there is no harm in speech therapy, and, as Seymour pointed out, I'd love to be proven wrong.

After Ep and Clyde were brave enough to attempt taking our holiday family portrait (in which Iz wore her pirate hair and kerchief from yesterday's pirate party), we made our way over to Sage's son's party, which was a huge Leelo comfort zone as all the other families shared his space in some way. How totally relaxing not to have to explain or worry about any Leelo thing.

Can you tell how spaced I am? Spaaaaaace. I have had no interstitial space in which to tacke the small tasks that have piled up into monstrous towers of crap, in five weeks. All of which prevents me from living the real life, thinking the real thoughts. Coherently, at least.


Yet Another List

I realize that it must bore you folks to tears to see yet another fucking post detailing my overbooked careening about town in yet another responsible parent disguise, but it is my hope that one day I will be able to look back in amusement at the carnival-that-was-my-life. Because it will get more manageable, right?

we came home from Phoenix. Fridge was dead and full of stuff that smelled funny, and needed a full purge. Thankfully Al the fridge guy was in the neighborhood and came over to fix it post haste. I don't remember what happened for the rest of the day. Oh! We went for dinner at the sushi place and all three kids were so tired that they were relatively complacent and calm. We had a storybook family dinner as a result; very little screaming or foodstuffs thrown at our heads by irate co-diners.

A regular, crazy Tuesday. Except that this one was topped with an Iron Gate meeting. I didn't go, though. We were coming off a weekend so busy that both Seymour and I were afforded only bathroom breaks, plus four weeks of shitstorm-style scheduling. I got chills and woozies as the night wore on: symptoms of The Exhaustion Flu. Seymour escaped somehow, so he kindly did all the tidying and bedtime wrangling while I nursed Mali down in front of R0me. (That show is so violent and gory that one particular beheading made me scream like a girl and jump out of my chair. Seymour laughed at me, but fuck! Asterix this is not.) Hot bath and mega-vitamin C.

It worked! No flu in the A.M. Good thing because we had to go to Bezerkeley to meet with the architects. They gave us three potential designs and one is perfect. I call it The Yelling House because I can yodel and be heard from any interior location. Plus we can live in this house while building that.

Iz's conference. No new news. Our girl is sharp, grasps concepts in one shot, talented artist, yup. Now let's talk about her behavior.

Ran home to make UCZF psychopharmacology phone consult for Leelo (yes, we are thinking about drugs. We have tried everything else and it is just that time.) Leelo is such a stimmy boy, in that regard he seems to share much with the kids in a Tourette's documentary Seymour and I saw. They described their tics exactly as adult or highly verbal autistics describe their stims: trying not to stim/tic is like trying not to sneeze.

Sage arrived as consult was wrapping up and was able to stay for tea. So pleasant.

Armada (Violet's mom) wrote me that she'd read one of my stories and her girls loved it and I should publish it. Cockle-warming.

Spent the morning at a private school for autistic kids, to see if it would be right for Leelo in the fall. Answer: no. Leelo doesn't quite need such intense supervision and intervention, though the facilities and instructors/therapists were truly wonderful. Interesting in that two of the students looked so much like Leelo, more fodder for my theory that Leelo probably has a very specific genetic-based version of autism, as so many kids in those autism collages share his feature set.

Supervisor M went, too, and rightfully got her panties in a twist about the lead therapist's bashing ABA Therapy. She thinks people need to get a fucking clue about the difference between discrete trials (specific) and behavior modification (general).

Coffee with bad moms (late). Arrived in a huff over chi chis/ta tas billboards en route, wishing that there was some quick 8-line summary explaining the objectification of women for me to pass to Iz so that she wouldn't internalize all the unreasonable body imagery. Since I am the group bimbo and no one ever takes me seriously everyone decided to write patriarchy-bashing haikus instead.

Worked at Iron Gate because I missed my Monday shift due to travel. Realized that the drop-deadline for silent auction items was 15 minutes after class ended, and in a panic decided to offer a custom written and illustrated story in addition to the usual cheese-fest. Hopefully it will sell for lots of money but will never be redeemed.

Then to Iz's school dance concert in the evening. So cute! Dinner afterwards with Seymour and Iz.

That is going to have to be it. One of these days I will write a real post.


Magic and Disabilities, Wizard Genetics

I haven't found (though didn't look too long or hard) for bloggy opinions on the shape of autism in the Potterverse. Would wizard therapists use leglimancy in addition to ABA therapy, enabling recoveries or effecting communication breakthroughs in ways we muggle parents can only dream of? Or ameliorating symptoms at least, for those kids who find themselves in horrible pain due to gut injuries, etc., and who act out because they can't tell anyone about their agony?

What would it be like to be a blind wizard child? Deaf? Have cerebral palsy? It seems as though magic abilities would offer fantastic empowerments to disabled kids, and those who work with them.

One item I did run across was a discussion on wizard genetics. And a link to a lightning rod blog, that of the Autism Diva.



I think Iz has finally internalized the concept that, while Dizney versions of stories can be entertaining, they often bear very little resemblance to the much grittier and enjoyable originals.

This morning she awoke asking me all sorts of questions about A1addin, and how she'd had dreams about a live action A1addin movie that was truly frightening, and what was the real story like anyhow? I whipped the Burt0n translations off the shelf as that's the only version I have at the moment and read her the first paragraph of the tale in question.

It was of course all full of "hath" language, but even so you could see her eyes light up in hearing that the naughty boy was actually from China, that he wasn't just a scamp, but was an unrepentant little shit, etc. Then she asked me why the book was called 1001 Nights instead of A1addin and I gave her the short version of Sch'zade's plight and cunning, saving the feminist messages for later. Iz was completely fascinated! So, off to Kep1er's to find a hath-less version for her to devour. (Bus leaves at 10:30 if you want to come.)

I remember my same-age fascination with Sinb@d and how many times I re-read those tales. Ooooh, I hope she feels the same way!



Today Mali thumped me on the chest with her little paw, looked me in the eye, and said "Mama!"

I am less excited that she figured out how to open our "child proof" CD cabinet.



Wedding was good. My pilot brother looked shellshocked, Rita was efficient and direct and amusing. Iz was a gorgeous flower girl. I really enjoyed being suspended in a cloud of relatives for four straight days, but it all came and went so fast that it may never have actually happened. I didn't have time/remember to file my ragged fingernails, bring jewelry (Seymour's mom is very generous in gifting me sparklies for birthdays and holidays so I try to bring it when she's around, as she was), assemble or dry clean a suitable outfit (went with my Steviae Nicks gear), do the same for Leelo (he wore a long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers), or repair the ratty shoes I ended up wearing anyhow. I certainly never had time or opportunity to replenish Leelo's take-along foods like I thought I might. So, Leelo got to eat yogurt, froot loops, peanut buter and jelly, and cookies, and Seymour and I got Leelo through the wedding ceremony by plying him with M & Ms (he's not supposed to have chocolate, excess sugar, artificial anything, peanuts, dairy, or wheat).

Mostly I was too busy to be stressed, but on the way back I realized that things had gotten truly dire when I had to feed desperately hungry Mali macerated peanuts and ginger ale during our flight, because the Phoenix airport was so insanely busy that most people had boarded by the time we got to the gate and there was no time to purchase food.

Gauge of how things are going now that we're back: The entire counter is covered with dead fridge foodstuffs that need to be dealt with (emptied, mostly, so the containers can be cleaned or recycled); Leelo's birthday presents are still gathered in a corner, unopened, on top of a box marked "Halloween," which itself is supposed to be filled with all the pumpkin-themed decorations still bedecking our home.

I have not yet written or contacted Tia Izobel to tell her how sorry we are about her son Dick's passing last month. I have not sent presents to the two last weddings we attended. I've not yet mailed birthday presents to TLF or Hayley. I've yet to even purchase them for Dee's Artoo. Or Kerali, for that matter.

There is an Iron Gate meeting tonight. I told Sage I was going but I might just have to bail. I literally, literally have not had a break (except right now while Marroqui is watching Mali while I'm supposed to be cleaning the house) to even read a book for five minutes or be by myself for a very long long time. So, if you've not seen me yet it is because I might have to kill anyone who looks at me sideways. If you've got someone on your list, though, send them my way for easy dispatching.

What keeps me afloat is the horrible yet comical image of poor, dear, vegetarian Ep, who came to the rescue of our kids' three placentas in the melty freezer and--I'm guessing from the empty containers on the counter when we arrived back home--had to transfer the nasty things into some other receptacle. Eww. Even I wouldn't want to do that. I owe her, big.
Greetings, Packmates!

What Is Your Animal Personality?

brought to you by Quizilla

Would one of my beloved packmates like to hang out with Leelo at my home from 12:00 to 12:45 tomorow just in case I don't get back from an East Bay meeting in time?


Off Again, in a Few Ways

Off to Phoenix for a few days, for my pilot brother's wedding. It should be a lot of fun--even though they put it together in less than three months (they're knocked up with #2 and my soon-to-be-sis-in-law Rita said she would NOT have another baby without being married) every relative on the planet is coming and it is going to be a wonderful rather than a rushed and uncomfortable wedding. Well, for everyone but Seymour and me, as we'll have Leelo and Mali. Iz is going to be a flower girl with her adored older cousin Nicole.

Floyd and TLF aren't in Phoenix anymore, they moved to San Dieggy last month. Sigh.

Short bursts re: the kids:

Leelo blew out the candle on his birthday cake. That is a big fucking deal. He has also been doing a lot more downloading on the potty, which is also a big fucking deal. Still lots of #2 accidents (less so with #1), but the continuing progress is cheery. Iz's took a tortoise's age to be a fully certified toileteer, so I can be patient.

We let the boy have lots of sugary crap (smoothies, gfcf cake) for his birthday and the backsliding is notable. But he was so happy!

Don't ever laugh when a baby climbs stairs. Now Mali goes for the stairs every chance she gets, with a big "hey look at me!" grin the whole time. She is also standing up a lot without realizing it, for instance letting go with her anchor hand to grab something because the other hand is already occupied. A free-standing structure.

She is impossibly fucking cute right now. Chatting away in her own private language all day long. It may be related to English. She makes Seymour and me very smiley and happy unless she continues to shift a second nap to late afternoon and then stay up past 10 P.M.

Iz has this new electrical circuits kit (it was supposed to be an Xmas present, but she found it in the office) and can think of nothing else. Witness the glee:

I have been really down lately, too busy. There is good busy and there is gasket-blowing busy. Also I am worried about the neurotypicality of a few kids I know.

Plus our fridge and now our freezer are non-functional. And we're leaving for the airport in an hour. Most of the items within can rot, but we've Leelo's expensive B12 shots and also the kids' placentas. Fuck.

Back Mon. or Tues.


Happy 5th Birthday Leelo!

Yay for our boy and his getting to do exactly what he wanted for his birthday: run around his favorite all-equipped kiddie gym. You can tell how great he feels even through the photo tampering.


Still Set to 78 RPM

Saturday: Breakfast at the cafe, of course. We were joined by Moomin and Rook--rah! I must apologize for firehosing Rook with my half-baked rantings about the objectification and degradation of women in show like Ki11 Bi11 and Manchi1d (the former of which was especially repugnant containing as it did the protagonist's epiphany that Life Becomes Precious If You Get Knocked Up!), and that the scariest thing about Ro5emary's Baby was not her getting it on with Satan or ejecting his offspring but (as I also ranted to Ep) that everyone told Rosemary that she was simply being hysterical (as women are so prone to be), and that she should be a good wife and go back to her husband.

Then off to Leelo's 5th birthday party, which was the best Leelo party ever! We had it at the gym where Iz took yoga and where all he ever wanted to do was run around and play play play but was never previously allowed to do so. My god, look at this boy's smile as he FINALLY gets to cut loose in the ball pit of his dreams:

The party was a success, in my opinion. It also validated my suspicion that when kids are allowed a good space for free play, they need neither sugary treats nor goody bags, are satisfied with healthy though yummy snacke and juice, and need no more than a minimal amount of cake.

The V's came over afterwards for dinner. I experimented with an all-sheep cheese plate, and we were all bowled over. I heartily recommend R0ccchetta cow/sheep stinky cheese in particular--it is light and sweet and almost souffle-like.


There was more but I'm publishing this now as it's almost two weeks old.


Nursing It

I love to recycle, so I will regurgitate this post to a hippie-freak slow & no vaccinations e-list for your enjoyment. It is a response to a mom who wanted advice on weaning her 13 months old so that she could have some resentment-free personal space, and who was afraid of the attachment parenting boards' flaming swords:

Kudos to you for figuring out that you need to be happy and create your own space in order to be a good mother. I do not know if you have heard of Brain, Chi1d magazine, but the last issue had a good editorial on just how incendiary & political nursing can be.

A friend of mine recently lost her battle with post-partum depression. One of the factors her partner suspects is that she continued taking a lactation hormone known to exacerbate depression because of the societal pressure to continue nursing.

Anyone who can't consider the needs of both the child and the parent when making decisions about nursing deserves a swift kick in the ass, in my opinion.

In terms of advice, we eliminated one nursing at a time over the course of a few weeks. The last ones, the nap time/bed time ones were the worst (my son was nursing every two hours all night long). We had a guest bedroom at the time, so I took him into that room so the rest of the family wouldn't hear his hollering and cuddled but did not nurse him through two sleepless nights. It broke my heart, but like you I was growing resentful and I felt that was interfering with my ability to be the best mother I could be. From that point on he was weaned even though he continued to sleep with us for another year.

Get Your Asses to the Polls, Californicators

California conservatives, did you know that the Governator used his special powers to move the election to tomorrow? No worries, you can stay home today to futher ponder fucking over teachers and nurses, and endangering the lives of teenage girls.

Confused? Look here for ballot clarifications.


Squid Smoothie Recipe P. 2

Haven't been writing because I've hardly had time to wipe my kids' arses. Also Miss Mali has been playing barnacle to my gray whale, and hasn't let me or my boobs out of her graspy bedtime grasp until this very evening.

Atlanta, great food (Barbecue! Okra Fritto!), wonderful friends and kids. So excited to finally meet Dee's Artoo, age 3, owner of the world's cutest diction. The parents' nerves might have had it easier had we put Iz and Giddy's E in a soundproof room, locked the door and walked away. Ep calls this age 5-6 dynamic "The Bickersons." They are darling girls when apart.

Fun to watch Mali and Giddy's Kerali, who is one week younger. Kerali's remarkable presence and interactivity reminded me of when Iz was that age and much like the more staid Mali. Iz's co-babies, like Kerali, were more physically present and engaged, and I secretly wondered if Iz might be a bit on the slow side (the irony being that I wasn't so worried about sunny Mr. Leelo's social persona until late toddlerhood). Then again, Mali was still feeling so off that she nursed almost exclusively the entire time, to the extent that her radioactive swamp gas stomach virus diapers turned into bonafide breast-fed baby sweet curd sacks.

Realized several times that my verging-on-paranoid assertions about vaccines and their schedules, flu shots, etc. might not sound entirely sane to two medical writers, one of whom works for a big pharma co., and Dee's partner Dee2 the CDC employee. But they all voted against Bush, and that's all that really matters.

Rest of week:

Flight home from Atlanta. Pleasant enough. Iz inhaled "The Witche5" and now doesn't want to take baths, as that way the witches won't be able to smell her own Iz scent beneath the grime. I ordered a glass of wine from the O'Haire airport bar while hip-loading Mali. This got me some funny looks, and also eye locks of pure sisterhood.

Arrived home at midnight. Leelo stayed up most of the night crying and fussing. Seymour and I took turns. Rah!

Met with another builder Monday morning, then ran home to meet with our architects for more site surveying. The architects told me that the storm drain running under our house isn't on any county records, and that I should ask our neighbors about both that and the access easement that runs across our yard and which they own. Guess we'd have to inform the somewhat odd, contentious backside neighbors about our building plans at some point, but I was hoping not to do so until we'd already finished construction.

Remembered that Iz was still on break and yet I had to work at Iron Gate in the afternoon, called Ep in panic and she agreed to host Iz for my shift. Bless her.

Flailed at yet another Iron Gate shift.

Teacher P let me know that, during last week's Halloween parade and costume show-off--at which Leelo was a cowboy--he not only partipated in the parade but he got up during circle time when "cowboys and cowgirls" were called, and walked around the circle with the other cowfolk--with no prompting or guidance! She was almost in tears as she described the scene.

During clean up, one of the other moms, who has three kids four and under, came and offered to do my clean up as her daughter was home for the day and she knew I wanted to go to circle time with Leelo. They are good people, despite my snarkery about methodology and practice.

Leelo started getting feverish and increasingly irritable after we got home, so Iz/Hermi0ne went trick or treating with Seymour and her friends in Ep's neighborhood, and I stayed with the two tinies. Mali missed her first Halloween, but I doubt she minded. She got to be a cute leopard at a Halloween carnival in Atlanta, plus she'd also shown off her costume during Art Trai1s the weekend before (where people commented on her pungent cuteness so frequently that Jo and I started to tell them that we dressed her so as a disctraction while we picked peoples' pockets. Nervous laughs aplenty).

Tuesday Violet came and got Iz for the day. Rah! As Tuesdays are always so much fun. This one was notable for Leelo demonstrating his increased geographic awareness by asking for Knob and Mauna when we neared downtown (where their cafe is), and his awareness of routine by asking to go get Sage's daughter and his classmate Kiki after leaving Sage's speech therapy session, as picking her up is our next stop. Observation skills are not strong points for many autistic children.

Then we had a really wild Sushi dinner with Violet and family, and Jo too. Had parts of real conversations amidst the racket with Violet's mom, who needs a pseudonym.

Then off to an Iron Gate night class about managing TV and the media (mostly old hat to me--we watch videos and TiV0 but the kids are allowed absolutely no commercial-larded or live TV). Mali came too and spent the entire meeting playing performing puppy for an adoring crowd: crawling around, flirting, mugging, and posing. She was feeling much better than her Atlanta self. Sage and I agreed that this is not a socially impaired child. We will take her to the MYND 12 month evaluation at the end of this month anyhow.

Wednesday Mali and I went to her music class for the first time in weeks (no illness or emergencies to tend to). We left, and just as I was pushing Mali around The Hole, marveling at the 90 minutes I might have free once we arrived home, I got a call from Iz's principal. Iz was being sent home for the day, and I needed to come meet with the principal and then collect my child.

Apparently (and the story keeps evolving), a trio of boys had been teasing Iz about being a "midget" and other factors, and wouldn't leave her alone. So, Iz waited until the smallest boy of the three was alone, and then enlisted the biggest girl in her class to come along and help kick the boy's ass. They beat him hard enough to make him cry, hard enough to leave red marks all over his back.

While this displays a fine sense of battle strategy, it is simply unacceptable. Iz knew this, and was somewhat penitent. The principal and I talked Iz through various scenarios for dealing with the boys, most of which centered on the disengaging and walking away that Iz simply cannot do. Her school now wants her to attend social skills workshops onsite.

She did write the boy she beat (who has always seemed like a very sweet little boy to me) a very funny letter of apology, a huge long gushing splutter, telling him how sorry she was but that he still wasn't going to be invited to her birthday party and if he ever hurt his leg she would be happy to show his friends how to make him a "wrist chair" so they could carry him to safety. Both the principal and I busted up reading it. The principal also mentioned that Iz was "one of the smartest little girls she'd ever met" and that was a reason that Iz should have been able to figure out a better solution.

I think a combination of not having same-interest friends, being put in a classroom away from all of her existing friends, and Violet telling her that she can't play with anyone else anyhow is starting to frustrate our girl.

On our drive home Therapist S called to cancel her afternoon Leelo session at Iron Gate on account of her having come down with the dreaded barfing bug that's been making the rounds. Other things may have happened for the rest of the day but I don't remember what they were. Ah yes--Iz went to her piano lesson.

Thursday: Cancelled Leelo's overnight sleep clinic study scheduled for that evening as it was $4.5K and our insurance still hadn't agreed to pay for it. Therapist L stayed home from the morning session to be with her ill father. So off Mali, Leelo, and I went to coffee. Where Godmother Stacy showed up! Goddamn! So good to see her, so amazing that she had the balls to break out of the house, away from her twins and come do a social sanity check. We all saluted her.

On the way home I heard from MB, who told me that her Sophie--who is near Leelo's age and shares his label--actually figured out trick-or-treating logistics in only a couple of tries, and was then able to ask to go home when she'd had all the (over) stimulation she could take. Such progress. This is tearworthy stuff.

Then home for a Leelo team meeting. We are going to start fading verbal and visual prompting for potty training because Leelo tends to overly rely on it and sometimes can fixate on incorrect cues. We are going to silently and physically and from behind prompt/guide him, and gradually fade his cues. Should be interesting, but I am game. Supervisor M also mentioned that we can use Leelo's "potty" cue card to get him to go to the toilet even when he's not in session (he protests when we try to take him), as it removed all subjectivity from the process.

Went downstairs mid-meeting to find that Scabby had shat and pissed on our bed again, for no reason I could see--the door was open and her litter box was clean. Felt a few blood vessels burst inside my head and thought dark thoughts about putting her in a box on the dry cleaner's doorstep.

Took Leelo to Iron Gate, late. Drove around the neighborhood and looked at all the houses for sale and thought, what the hell--maybe it would be easier to just move! Talked to Seymour, who agreed about the possiblity of that line of thought. Called real estate agent, who arranged tours.

Videotaped Supervisor M's very sweet talk at Iron Gate about differences and Leelo's behavior. The kids seemed to get it, somewhat.

Took Leelo and Iz home (the latter from patient Ep's) and deposited everyone in front of the TV, but not until Iz had told me how she spent recess on the bench for getting in yet another playground spat (though this one did not turn violent). SIGH.

Leelo followed me downstairs, and made my cry by singing a song along with me for the first time ever ("Shoo Fly"). He was watching my mouth intently the whole time to make sure we were in synchronization. That boy needs a music class.

Ran screaming to the Indian restaurant the moment Babysitter Celia and her daughter arrived. Read book. Ate food. Emptied brain of all thoughts.

Today (Fri.):

Went to Iz's school to do reading. The class was missing; I found them in the library. All the children except Iz were sitting at tables doing word search puzzles; my daughter was sitting in bean bag in the corner, reading. I wasn't able to gather if she was being punished (because if so they could have made it even harsher by giving her a candy bar or soda) or they were allowing her to get out of a boring activity.

Went and looked at houses. Now I am totally confused and will have to write more on the matter when my brain is intact. Ep came along, which was ever so helpful.

Ran off to our estate lawyer to finally add Mali to our will. And set up a special needs trust for Leelo. Looked over the will and realized that our lawyer's wife, who disappeared a couple of years ago, was the witness when we drew up our will and signed every page. Eerie.

Quick impromptu coffee with Jo at our spankin' new Preets Coffee. Chat about my house/build worries and her plot twistings. Oh my am I jealous of the world inside her brain and her ability to tease it into the open for the rest of us to enjoy. So altruistic, though the process is not an easy one, it seems.

Picked up Sophie and Iz and hauled them to the toy store to get Leelo's birthday presents. This year I am being smart and bought him something he'll go ballistic over: the three Th0mas trains he's lost. Got the girls a puzzle.

Went home and the girls played so nicely, with role playing and cooperative puzzling. So pleasant. Then Jo brought us dinner! I snarfed mine and then ran off to the Hole to get party and dinner fixings for tomorrow's Leelo birthday party and dinner with the V's afterwards.

Mali went down without using me as a permanent snuggly/pacifier for the first time in over a week, so Seymour and I had some chat time while I made tomorrow's dinner. And then I got to come down her and spew. If you made it this far, give yourself a cookie!


Squid Smoothie Recipe P. 1

I'm going to laundry list the last while. No other way to do it. Settle on in, this'll be a long one.

Last you heard from the Rosenberg Clan, Iz had been up barfing all night, Mali had been barfing occasionally, Leelo had been barfing intermittently, and I had started barfing too, though not from my mouth. And we were supposed to be going to Atlanta in a few hours.

By mid-day, Iz insisted she was fine. So fine that she issued and won a BK kids' meal challenge. Mali declined to eat from anything that wasn't attached to my chest, and I decided that the best way to stop an overly productive output system was to cut off input. We made it to Atlanta just fine. Red Eye: no problem. Transfer at Dallas: no problem, and in fact my psychic Nano shuffled up some cheery Ly1e Lovett for me.

Atlanta was extra-groovy. If they could do away with their summer heat and humidity, I'd consider relocating. Dee's lovely home is within equally lovely walking distance of not one but two gelaterias, a spa (to which I was sent for the best massage and pedicure of my life, thanks chicas), Thai food, basically all those things we Gen Xers refuse to live without and about which we riducule those who do not understand that they are rights rather than privileges (I jest, but only slightly).

To be continued later. I need to go read at Iz's school, and afterwards look at houses with the rational Ep and my barracuda of a real estate agent, as Seymour and I have decided that it may be both easier and cheaper to move rather than build.


Too True

You're Ash, baby.
Gimme some sugar baby.

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

And no, I didn't tweak my answers on account of my Bruce Campbe11 hankerings.

Thanks to Lea.


And I Like Your Shirt, Too

I'm probably not the first to think of this, but it occurs to me that the old saying "You've got a face made for radio" works with blogging as well.

Real posts soon. I've been put in the blender again, on Liquefy.



Miss Mali is eleven months old today. Sweet baby!

Vomit Score

Iz is winning. She vomited every 15 minutes from 9:00 to 3:00. Seymour, again, kindly tended to her by making her a little puking nest on the floor next to his side of the bed, complete with a barf bowl that she cradled all night long.

Mali, though only having puked three times, makes up for lack of iterations with volume. That baby can heave with the pros. Thankfully her tummy makes strange, loud plumbing noises beforehand so there's plenty of time to run her to and hold her over the sink. Nothing but net!

Sick babies sleep a lot, and I bribed Iz with Akik0 #4, so I have time to be merrily packing away. We ARE leaving tonight.

Leelo is having a great morning. I am keeping him home from school, but Therapist L said she was willing to work with him if I put out hand sanitizer. Our boy spontaneously, and from out of thin air told Therapist L "triangle has 3 sides!" and then put a puzzle piece 3 on top of said triangle. None of this had been practiced, prepped, or prompted. Go Leelo!


Griping, Now With Vomit

I hadn't yet descended from the stress balloon of the past two weeks when Leelo started vomiting yesterday morning. If my mom hadn't been here to watch him I'd have had to cancel my Iron Gate shift, without trade or makeup options, ensuring the enmity of those otherwise tolerant parents. Bless my mom!

As it is I probably peppered the Iron Gate kiddlings to whom I served snack yesterday with vomit viruses, as both Mali and Iz started hurling this evening. My girls let loose after I'd tearily shuttled my mom to the airport, after their evening baths, and just as I was starting to think how lovely an evening of relatively unstructured puttering would be.

This makes me worry about tomorrow evening's trip to Atlanta to visit Dee and Giddy. We've been planning this trip, in which all our girls get to meet each other for the first time (well, third time for Iz and E, first for the other three), for six months. Goddammit. And it's a free trip, too: air miles tickets, D's cars and beds. Do you think the people in first class will be relaxed enough to overlook fountains of barf? Maybe they'll sleep through it as it is a red eye flight. Which reminds me that I've yet to practice tethering Mali to my side with the sling so we can both sleep en route.

Please. Cross. Fingers. For. Us. If I have to miss this trip my sorrow will be insurmountable.

Ooh, Iz just sat up and barfed again! Seymour took that one, bless him. And he's completely stressed out from his own crappy work crap, and really should be sitting back on a soft couch getting his, erm, feet massaged and watching endless Tour de France videos.

Short kid notes:

Iz finished HP6. You can all now talk with her freely about any theories you choose. She is also compulsively reading and re-reading the Franny K. Steiin books recommended by Badger. She recently confessed to Seymour that she is interested in 1000+ page books not just for the show-off value but also because they last longer and she doesn't want them to end. That's my girl. I have slipped her Swa11ows and Amazons, as the series exceeds her required page count.

Leelo is not at his best when he's sick, but still his various therapists can see his progress through the scattered behaviors. Usually he reverts to non-verbal fussing and withdrawing during these times, this time he is telling us exactly why he's upset, why he's not complying. Plus, Supervisor M had this to say about him today (she left before he started barfing again and I had to pluck him from class):
Leelo seemed so centered and relaxed at IG today. Teacher P thought he had the best small group ever (me too)- it was number recognition and counting, and he really was able to participate at his learning level in the whole activity. Plus, he just seemed calm and content within his body. So nice to see :)
Mali is the funniest, cutest, sweetest, smartest, and smiliest baby ever. She does the Rosenberg W sit already, and she plays a mean game of peekaboo with any fabric piece she can find. She still won't take a lovey; why should she when mommy sports the two best ones imaginable? Wonderful baby.

Those past two weeks are not even properly documented. I've five or seven half-finished relevant posts in the Draft pile. Things are so looped that the office is trashed yet again, I've not even met Godmother Stacy's new little bairns, and we've yet to give Tia Isabel our condolences over her son Rick's passing last week. Somehow we must curtail activities to make life more manageable during the upcoming holidaze.



What was the first song I purchased and downloaded onto my new device?

Voice of Yu1 Brynner: You Guess!
Opinions Sought

Has Anyone Read:

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harris0n

S0mething fr0m the Night.side - Sim0n Green

If so please let me know what you thought of them.

The glorious insanity of the last few days (well, weeks) is not to be believed!


Scroogey Grinch

I am sitting here surrounded by piles of crap, realizing that I am starting to stress over all the piles of crap I routinely begin to purchase, organize, wrap, and mail each year at this time (fun though this is), and the piles of thoughtful crap we receive each year that, truly, we appreciate but don't need.

So, after Seymour reads this entry and we discuss it because that is how we do most of our communicating these crazy days, I am going to send out an email to all friends and family--grandparents excepted--letting them know that we've greatly reduced interest in sending or receiving Xmas presents this year. We will make donations in their name, in the amounts we would have spent, instead, and we would be grateful if they would redirect any Rosenberg-dedicated gift funds in the same manner.

Unless they or we find something Just Perfect. That is different.

But, truly, my stress level is soap-bubble precarious at the moment. The normal joyfulness of receiving a package--any package--gets completely overshadowed by the stress of having to find the time to open it, decide what to do with the box, divvy up its contents, put paper in the recyclable bin, wrapping paper in wrapping paper storage, peanuts and puffy bits to a big bag in the corner of the office, plastic bags and parts and even more interior boxes to be broken down and put in the trash/recycled/stored, (and God help you if you send my kids any toy in a molded plastic case to which it is attached by 500 twisty ties and cardboard anchors) and then consider the present itself which more than likely is something we adore but don't have space for in our overstuffed home. The process drains me. Completely.

If can get most people to abandon this tradition then I will also feel less guilt about the thank you notes I stopped writing once Mali arrived.

And just in case you are reading this and sniffing at me: yes, I know I am beyond overprivileged. It doesn't mean my life isn't difficult, and that little things don't push me over the edge.