Yesterday I gave formal notice at Iron Gate. I also sent an informal notice to the class about half an hour before school started, and a few people had already read it by the time we arrived for my shift. They were all very sweet and understanding, but no one was exactly shocked.

It was a field trip day, and we spent the shift herding kids through the Deadwood Fire Department. The tour culminated in one of the comelier firefighters demonstrating exactly how, piece by piece, he puts on his gear. I leaned over to one of the other parents and whispered, "Don't we usually have to pay money for this kind of show?" I made sure our guide mentioned Deadwood's female firefighters even though they weren't around that day.

This morning I got to spend a good 90 minutes down at the Saint Matthew's County Planning and Public Works department with the architects.

We have one sewer easement that needs to be "redescribed," meaning that the area that is mapped as set aside for access to the sewer line doesn't actually fall on top of the sewer line, and we would like it to be reconciled so that in the future the public works department doesn't have to knock down our carport to get to the sewer line. The process should take about two weeks.

We also need to get approval to build the carport over but not actually on top of said sewer easement. Another two weeks, not a guaranteed outcome on this one.

Then there's the other easement exchange, which will take two months minimum. The stultifying details that Giddy requested are basically that there is an access path that runs across our property so that people can get from our street to the street above us. No one ever uses it but legally it stays, and we can't build closer than ten feet to it (that would be the setback). Previously we'd been told there were no setbacks and so designed the house adjacent to the path. By doing an easment exchange, we will be rerouting the easement so that street access is retained, but via a different route, and we can keep our current house design.

I also need to put in a petition to live and build in the same lot, get a "will serve" letter from the Deadwood water department stating that their nearby hydrant has sufficient flow to douse our house in case of fire, talk to our neighbors about getting their buy-in of our design before the formal design review, and contact a title insurance company to ensure the easement exchange...sigh.

It is so tempting to scream FUCK IT and just move, as the house we'd contemplating moving to a month ago is still sitting there waiting. But then I walk out into clouds of quails, watch the red tail hawks circling, immerse myself in the absolute silence punctuated only by birdsong, revel in the lack of visible neighbors and subsequent privacy, drink in the heavenly views...and then trot down the driveway so Iz can play with the neighborhood kids and I can get fresh-roasted coffee from a cafe less than five minutes away. We can visit our friends in the city in 25 minutes or less. We can't leave. There's nothing like this, anywhere.

Spent the other parts of the past two days getting together Iz's Big Noggin application (child and parent essays--gack--all sorts of documentation), filling out assessments for Leelo for the Deadwood school district's special ed department, then a whole separate sheaf of forms for the regular school district because he's technically supposed to be in the system even if he's not going to be going to his home school, and also filling out the five thousand application forms for his new preschool. Then there were the five billion phone calls to arrange his school schedule/rearrange five therapists' schedules. Which I also summed up in an email:

Leelo will be switching preschools in two weeks. We have thought long and hard
about what is right for him, and Iron Gate is no longer feels "best"--the
play and interactions have all become too "talky" and abstract for our
concrete boy.

His last day at Iron Gate will be Monday, March 13, and his first day at his
new preschool at ALSO will be Wednesday, March 15.

Initially, Leelo will be attending ALSO's preschool 8:30 - 11:30 Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesdays only (Supervisor M, this is different than we discussed
but was per the school's request and still covers all our goals--including
two OT sessions), ideally transitioning to MTWThF after a month. He will no
longer receive separate speech or OT services from Therapsits A or M at ALSO,
though he will probably see them in class.

Therapists, your schedules shouldn't change except by a smidge, as we would
like Leelo to continue attending school with an aide. What will change
significantly is who works where, when. Below is the ideal new weekday
schedule. Please let me know if you are okay with the changes (esp.
Therapist C), if I've omitted anything, or if you have any questions.



8:30 - 11:30 ALSO Preschool (Therapist L)
1:00 - 4:00 Home Therapy (Therapist L)

8:30 - 11:30 ALSO Preschool (Therapist Y)
12:00 - 12:45 Speech Therapy (Sage)
1:00 - 4:00 Home Therapy (Therapist Y)
4:15 - 6:15 Engaged Play (Therapist Y)

8:30 - 11:30 ALSO Preschool (Therapist L)
1:00 - 4:00 Home Therapy (Therapist Y)
5:00 - 7:00 Engaged Play (Babysitter A)

8:30 - 12:00 Home Therapy (Therapist L)
1:00 - 4:00 Home Therapy (Therapist C)

8:30 - 12:00 Home Therapy (Therapist L)
1:00 - 1:45 Facilitated Playgroup (Therapist L)
1:45 - 3:30 Home Therapy (Therapist L)
5:00 - 7:00 Engaged Play (Babysitter A)

Jo Spanglemonkey is home. I am so happy for my friend. I have not been writing about it all that much because it hurts and because I've been directing any energy into other related things. But goddamn am I glad she's back.

Leelo and I gave notice at Iron Gate Preschool yesterday. He starts his new preschool on 3/15, in two weeks. My last Iron Gate day will be 3/13.


Attention Bottom-of-the-Bay Feminists

This just arrived via a contact at The Te.ch Museum in San J0se:

Dear Friend,

Please join me for a unique film screening event to be held on Sunday afternoon, March 12, at the Te.ch Museum of In.novation. The acclaimed HBO film Iron-Jawed Angels documents the radical, determined heroines of the women's suffrage movement, who fought hard for the voting rights that we so often take for granted.

This event is a chance for us to come together in celebration of Women's History Month and to witness compelling portrayals of suffragists Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others on the difficult road to passage of the 19th amendment. Featuring stellar performances by Hilary Swank and Frances O'Connor, Iron-Jawed Angels premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and earned Anjelica Huston a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of activist Carrie Chapman Catt.

AT*T is generously co-sponsoring this film event. Thanks to AT*T, second Sundays are free at the Te.ch -- so come early and enjoy the museum, too!

Please pass on this message to anyone who might be interested. There is no charge for admission. The movie is appropriate for viewers twelve years old and older.

I hope to see you there!

--Assemblywoman Lieber

HBO showed the movie many times last year, and it is a must-see-- especially for those who think the suffragettes were all like the mother in Mary Poppins.



I promised Jo I would post some photos tonight, but my folks are asleep upstairs next to the camera and I don't want to wake them. Sorry, sweetie! Tomorrow. When you can see them on your OWN computer. Joy!

Leelo's latest perseveration is repeatedly turning the TV on and off, even during favorite, requested videos. He is also having difficulties sitting still during that time--he jumps off the couch and runs around gibbering. Which is a disappointment to me, as what the fuck are videos for if not to plug your kids in and give yourself a scant few moments to get work done? This inability to sit still for even the most powerful of treats is, to me, another symptom that points to a possible need for psychopharmacological intervention. A kid who can't zone in front of the TV for his favorite videos of all time most likely has something screwy going on with his wiring or voltage.

Which reminds me that Supervisor M really does think that Leelo is dual diagnosis: Autism/ADHD. Which makes sense.

Seymour and Iz are finally home. Oh Thank God. Leelo decided to have a party last night from 1 to 3:30 A.M., and I was stressed about being the only hand on deck--what if Mali woke up, too? Thankfully the baby slept through the night (!).

Iz spazzed over my new 'do: "You look like a totally different Mommy!" I don't think she likes it. Too bad! The new style requires minimal maintenance, so to me it's a winner no matter what it actually looks like.

My Mom and Dad are absolutely taken with Mali, and are looking forward to spending this week with her. Who wouldn't be? Our baby is beyond charming.

I would like to use this final paragraph to praise Ep and Clyde. They have been so incredibly sweet and helpful to me during Seymour's absence. It would embarrass them to detail why, so I will simply state that everyone should have such friends in their lives.



Nosy People Pay Attention

That pregnant lady I've been hinting about? She will be 14 weeks tomorrow and has given me permission to tell the world: It's TLF! I am soooo happy for them, as their fertility journey was not an easy one. Yeah! Yay! Rah! TLF will be the best mom ever, and--though it pains me to write anything complimentary about the man--Floyd will be a fantastic dad.

Dee and Godmother Stacy, contact me if you're still interested in passing on maternity clothes.
Leelo Sea Changes

Long discussion with Supervisor M this morning, about where Leelo is as opposed to where he needs to be. It would have been a shorter discussion if Mali wasn't such a busy, effective little tornado. Here are the main points:
  • She finally agreed with me that Iron Gate is no longer the place for Leelo (Therapist L later agreed, too). There is too much discussion- and interaction-based play, and the environment now overstimulates him. We will probably leave in the next two to three weeks. I am sad about leaving the community, but not terribly sad. Leelo will get to be in a more appropriate environment (ideally the therapeutic preschool we observed a few weeks ago) and I will get to bail on newsletter writing, fundraising, maintenance hours, working on Monday afternoons, twice/thrice monthly evening meetings, and Mali's weekly dip in the petri dish/nursery.
  • I need to contact the therapeutic preschool and ask if they devote any time to learning play skills. We didn't observe play skills time during our visit, but we were only there for part of the class.
  • If we are going to switch preschools, then Leelo's entire schedule is going to be shot to hell. He currently attends school in the afternoon, and will need to switch to mornings. We can keep his schedule mostly intact at first, as he will initially attend with an aide, but the goal is to have him attend without one. That will cut down on therapist hours considerably. I spoke with Therapist L about this already and she said not to worry, that we'd make it work at that we are her first priority when it comes to scheduling (she is so sweet!).
  • Supervisor M really wants us to start putting Leelo in underwear full-time rather than just when he's with a therapist. I balked--not merely because I am overwhelmed and so can't even contemplate daily clean up of a shit-ridden little boy and his clothing. My logical rather than lazy rationale is that Leelo's not yet had the epiphany regarding self-control of #2 that he had a few months ago with #1. Also, he could care less about sitting on a big steamer until it starts to irritate his skin, so putting him in underwear is not going to motivate him to stay clean or dry, at least not yet. I think he'll get there; I think his body is just not ready yet. It will happen.
  • I mentioned that he still has occasional night shits. Supervisor M wants us to track them, as if he really is having them frequently, then that is another atypical developmental issue and we should consult with a developmental pediatrician. She wants us to see one, anyhow.
  • We discussed many other things, such as the YouCSF report and its not quite getting Leelo or the complexity and appropriateness of his program, a second psychopharmacology consult, Leelo's recent difficulty with previously-learned sequences (independent, unprompted pre-bath time disrobing, washing hands), and the possibility of the school district setting up an autism kindergarten that Leelo can attend. All good.
Tired, both kids actually went to bed easily for the first time this week but Mali will probably wake up soon.

Got to talk to Iz briefly this afternoon, she could talk of nothing but Fl0am. Miss her and her handsome dad anyhow.

Soooo fucking tired. Not going to bore me or you with the why for.


She Did, However, Neglect to Mention Her Interest in Politics

After much cajoling, two dull drafts, and absolutely no editorial input from either of her parents, Iz finally decided she was ready to sit down and write her Big Noggin student statement. It makes me all warm and tingly just to read such heartfelt, burgeoning geekitude. If they don't accept her, then what kind of 2nd grader would they accept?

She and Seymour are still down in HellLay. Seymour is advising on a top-secret Education and Science panel, and Iz is hanging out with her fiance Stan--who apparently has a limitless supply of the Fl0am Iz has been coveting for months. Iz is methodically covering every object in Stan's mom Hayley's house with the stuff.

Oooh, I miss Iz and Seymour both. It sucks being the only adult in the house when Mali and Leelo both decide they prefer a 10 PM bed time.
Two Kinds of Intake

This morning Leelo went to his Deadwood School District intake evaluation. It was mostly good; Therapist L came along as it was during her session anyhow, and coaxed Leelo into demonstrating his strengths, and how much he knows and can do as opposed to how much he will demonstrate on cue.

All of the intakers--the psychologist, speech therapist, the super-bubbly occupational therapist, and the intake coordinator--were all lovely people, all gifted at what must be their calling. I am guessing, then, that there are different, evil people whom we will encounter at the death match IEP?

I spent an hour doing the new Vine1and assessment (parent interview) with the psychologist as Mali tore up everything around us. I was also given two rather lengthy additional assessments to fill out: behavioral and sensory. No big deal, though I'm not exactly looking for extra responsibilities just now.

Leelo was okay for the remainder of his evaluation, but on the way home and for the rest of the day, his behavior spiraled into nutty uncontrollable not-quite-giggles land. This is my fault; I had been letting him have bits of cookies and donuts over the past few days as we'd run out of all our Leelo foods and I'd had no opportunity to go to the store. When we really hit rock bottom on the foodstuffs, I then made him a smoothie out of all the fruits left in the house. It was delicious, but truly sent him around the bend. No. Sugar. For. Leelo! When will I learn?

Although it was cheery to hear him start muttering "fuck" all day long. It's not entirely intelligible (in fact Therapist L had to point it out to me), so I don't think he's going to offend anyone . . . but it's about time, don't you think?

My complexion is, for some reason (hormones? stress? dairy?) the worst it's ever been. I have tried different facial cleansers and moisturizers, to no avail. So, I took the Sha0lin Soccer approach, and have cut off all my hair to see if that will help. Crossing fingers...
WoolfCamp: I Got Schooled

I have to admit that I was a bit leery of WoolfCamp. Badger and Mary and Grace assured met that it would be divine, but most group-type things I've attended have been full of insecure whiners, and I don't like all that competition.

Imagine my shock in arriving at Grace's groovalicious pad to find it chock-full of high test, beyond-cool blogganeers. (I probably still don't get how cool they all were, and are.) Imagine my relief at being the token gripey introvert! Yeah!

My daughter Iz (7) got dragged to camp with me so that her extroversion could be my shield. Turned out I didn't need it and she sure as hell didn't need me; she entertained herself effortlessly while Badger and Grace made certain that I got to finally meet cool people like Jen (whose existence I'd enjoyed reading about but had never physically verified).

Then I got to hang out with my blog acquaintances Mary, Minnie, and Grace, all of whom are tantalizingly not-quite-local to me because they don't live within my city limits. I was also introduced to asskicker after asskicker: Chris, Kristie, Amber, Debbie, Elithea (E), Sarah, Peter, Elke, Emily, Lisa, Debra, and Gwen. Wow.

Rook (Hero! Diaper changer without even being asked!) watched Mali and Iz so I could attend Debbie's session on feminist businesses, ethics, and blogging. Though I didn't really get what the session was going to be about before stumbling into the room with (because of?) a glass of port in my hand. Debbie, I apologize for all my tangent diving. Mostly I was blinky-eyed and confused about being in a room full of quite serious Writers, many of whom see their blogs as publication launching pads.

Whereas I am all about the love and community, baby. Plus I am a fortunate: I don't need writerly income, though it would be nice. I never set my sights on publication; in fact I believe that blogs are superior to books for special interests, like, erm, autism parenting.

See, parents of autistic kids frequently feel as though they can't find enough information, especially because the condition has no known cause or cure. No matter how many books a person buys on the subject, and because publishers won't give the authors more than 300 pages to tell their stories, the resulting "guidelines" are by necessity swiss-cheesed. Parents truly desperate for every scrap of information are left to figure out the backstories and connect the dots, themselves.

Blogs like mine comprehensively document years of the day-to-day reality of living with autism in a way I would have killed to access in 2002, after my son's initial diagnosis. Admittedly, readers have to do some wading (it's been 2.5 years, and I don't focus solely on my son and his autism), but I think my blog is still useful. At least I hope it is.

Anyhow, and despite my digressions, Debbie and the rest of the crew (Mary, Jen, Emily, Gwen, Badger, Sarah, Grace...did I forget anyone?) managed to get across good points about blog ads/blog revenue being cool if you're into it, about any publicity being good publicity, about how giving content away for free can increase both readership in general as well as real book sales. And I salute them all, even as I felt like a squid out of water (see cartoon below).

My favorite camp moment may have been 14-month-old Mali banging on the back porch's French doors, pissed off that she couldn't get inside and dance to Prince with everyone else.

My favorite person was, of course, un-hostess Grace. Where does your energy come from? Bottle it and send me some. Please! And thanks muchly and sincerely to you and Badger for bringing everyone together. I so very much hope to stay the whole time, and really talk to people, at the next local WoolfCamp.

P.S. I missed Jo Spanglemonkey, but was glad she called mid-camp.


Fuckity Fuck Fuck Shit and Poop

Lea thinks I'm not nearly as potty-mouthed as advertised. I've got a bucketful of expletives that says otherwise. Especially as Iz and Seymour are out of town until Sunday. Four days and four nights of just me and the two kids who still shit on the bathroom floor if you leave their little butts uncovered at inopportune pre-bath times. (It was Mali's turn this evening.)

As longs as I'm writing about feces, may I just state that I finally figured out why Mali's offerings smell so strange: it's because our tabbouleh-loving baby eats so much parsley that her diapers smell like cow- or horse puckeys. We should ask her pediatrician to find out how many stomachs she has.

In the meantime, locals, I wouldn't mind company on Friday or Saturday night. We can order pizza or Thai food and I will mix you drinks so that you have to stay until you sober up, or we all end up playing Twister. You can bring your kids! Giddy, Dee, any chance you could fly in?
House Complications

As I've written before, we are encountering some snafus regarding easements that cross our property. Specifically, one easement that we'd been told had no setbacks, and against which we'd subsequently designed the house, actually has a twenty foot setback. Even though our current garage is sitting right the fuck on top of that easement. Whatever.

I went downtown yesterday to submit paperwork to reroute the easement. I got babysitting for Mali so that she wouldn't disrupt the work of everyone in the building. They don't make appointments for document submissions, so I waited. And waited. And eventually had to leave before my name was called.

I sniffled to myself as I walked out the building, pissed off at the wasted hour and being generally close to sniffling anyhow. Which is contrary to what I barked at Badger the other day, that I am not fragile. But I am human, and my current emotional overload means the tears are closer to the surface than usual.

At any rate, I showed up again this morning. At 7:30, when the department opens. With all three howling kids. I was seen immediately, and the documentation was submitted smoothly.

Then the easement exchange got bopped through three departments between 7:30 and
9:00 this morning (I got calls from them all). But I think we now have all the information we need.

The main contact for the easement exchange is not in the Planning or Development Review department, but in the County Property Division. He is both friendly and
helpful. He will contact me soon to offer a fee estimate.

The easement exchange is actually two separate, ideally simultaneous, processes. There is precedent for them both. However, it will most likely take a few months.

The first process is private. I need to contact a title insurance company to see if they will insure against the easement exchange. Then we don't have to chase after the original easement owners.

The second process is public, in that we need a hearing in front of the county Board of Supervisors.

First, my Property Division friend will confirm with Public Works that they have no
conflicts with re-routing the easement.

Then, if there are no utility disruptions, it will go to the County Council to make sure the county has no legal issues with the re-routing.

Finally, after weeks and possibly months, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing that will ideally include a formal action to authorize the exchange, will ensure that the exchange doesn't conflict with any of the county's rights, and will relocate any rights the county may hold.

I am wondering if, and have e-queried the architects whether, it makes sense to put our design work on hold until the exchange is settled. Everyone I talked to seemed fairly positive that this was a long rather than a risky process. However the interim design fees would be significant and I'm not much of a gambler.
Leelo Lately

Leelo has been really affectionate with us lately, lots of hugs and kisses. Less thumping on people in general--excepting his sisters when they are crying, because crying makes him really upset and he wants it to stop. Immediately.

I have been reading Susan Senator's book Making Peace With Autism and a recent passage stood out for me regarding Leelo and his hitting (which has decreased, but has not evaporated as we'd like):
...We began to realize that Nat [her autistic son] was drawn to intense emotions, particularly those that were predictable. We wondered if Nat preferred the drama of strong emotions because they were easier for him to notice and understand. For Nat, angering people was a predictable and easy way to interact. From his perspective, making someone happy was more complicated and not always satisfying, especially when you compare a smile's impact to that of a sharp cry.
I realize that this is probably not all that is going on with Leelo, but I have been making an effort to be really animated and excited when I give him positive reinforcement, and he loooooves it. He beams big smiles that demonstrate real pleasure. And since he is so incredibly handsome (I am not exaggerating, anyone who has met him will tell you the same), seeing his face light up with a genuine smile then turns my insides to happy mushy goo. Such a sweet boy. It is a privilege hang out with him when he's in a good mood.

Yesterday Therapist A (speech) wanted me to consider that her once-weekly sessions with Leelo have, for the past few months, been mostly spent doing OT (occupational therapy) rather than speech. He won't work in her office, and instead runs for the adjacent OT gym. She suggested that dedicating that time to OT, or getting him more OT in general, would be a good thing. She said that because he's getting speech with Sage, she knows his speech needs are covered, and I might want to redirect funds currently being spent on his time with her. I said that I understood, but that there have been so many Monday holidays and subsequent missed OT sessions in the last three months that perhaps we could see if the next three weeks of regular routine get him back on track. Though I am also totally willing to see if Therapist Y would like to extend his Tuesday morning session to 11:30, concentrating more on OT work. That would cut 40 minutes of resentful driving time out of my Tuesday.

Leelo is still trying to drop and bolt when walking/holding hands with an adult. If he has some kind of stim or interest object in the non-held hand, then he does just fine. Usually. He actually does really well and really enjoys walking under his own supervision (we recently tried this on the local hiking trail), and I suspect that this is why he protests the rest of the time--but we can't trust him not to bolt.

Our boy has been having some cheering potty training signs. Last night he did #2 in the toilet (4th or 5th time ever) after I caught him "stinkbugging" in the corner and whisked him off to the potty. He has also been waking up dry more than 50% of the time over the past three weeks. These to me are signs that his bodily functions as getting mature enough for potty training to be a more realistic goal.

Which leads me to something I was discussing with Ambah last week: that whatever the fallout from Leelo's YouCSF evaluation (which, goddamn it all, I will write up soon), the straight-out declaration and discussion of Leelo's delays eventually put me in more peaceful place. I am not focusing as much on what he can't do; instead I am grateful for how much he can do now. I'm not going to endlessly fret about issues like conversation or potty-training, because he'll get there eventually. He is delayed, that's all. If we are patient, he will let us know when he is ready. I am cool with that.

Tomorrow is his first school district intake. Should be interesting.


Feeling Complacent?

Then don't go see Good Night and Go0d Luck after spending your one partially free evening of the week reading accounts of how the lives and rights of Iranian women changed ever-so-subtly in the late 1970's.

I am now thinking that we need to set up some mini-zines apeing the American Gir1s books. Not snarky stories meant for adults, but carefully crafted yet engrossing tales that give our children a fucking jolt, that help them develop compassion and appreciate their good fortune. Darfur Girl. Iranian Revolution Girl. Involuntary Circumcision Girl. Obviously these are working titles, and any suggestions would be welcome.
Last Week

Reduced to outstanding events only. Rated by least to most emotionally involving.

-Somehow managed to schedule events during every single block of time in which both Leelo and Iz were occupied. Idiotic and draining. Won't do it again, and not just because it left the entire household scrambling for clean socks and drawers due to the resulting laundry blackout.

-Took Leelo to the nutritionist as I've only been meaning to do so for two years. Good news: he is getting all the nutrition he needs despite his limited diet, thanks to his vitamins and supplements. It would be nice if he would eat more protein and any vegetables, but mostly he is covered. The only worry is anemia due to low iron intake but, 1) He is far from listless, and listlessness is a symptom, and 2) It is a simple finger stick test rather than a blood draw. No worries.

-Had a meeting with our architects and the county folks that left me leaning against the wall trying to suppress the urge to vomit. Apparently a good deal of the information that our project director had painstakingly gathered via multiple, intentionally redundant interviews with county planners was nevertheless wrong. The multiple easements running through our yard have all sorts of unforeseen complications. Complications that in the worst case scenario will derail the project entirely, and in the best case scenario have me petitioning to reroute one of the easements--a process that could take more than a year, is a gamble (they could say no) and without which we cannot get design approval. My outlook was not improved by the lead architect declaring our parcel to be the most complicated she'd ever worked on, or the project lead's declaring the information discrepancies the most dramatic she'd ever encountered.

-My friend went on her involuntarily voluntary vacation. I have by necessity bifurcated my mind into caretaking and emotional suppression halves. I repeat to myself all day long that she is in the best place, she will come home to us. And I do not let myself go any further than that because we all need to stay here for her, and she needs us to be strong when she comes back. Because she will be coming back, riding a sleigh drawn by twin timberwolves, with fire in her eyes and a renewed, reinforced spirit. She's already hijacked a computer, which gives me hope.


WoolfCamp 2006

WoolfCamp 2006

Here's the tail end of the Sunday group, paying homage to out-due-to-illness NakedJen. Thanks for a great day, all.

Very Tired

And obviously this has been going on for days, since I just now realized that I'd used "subconscious" rather than "subliminal" in a previous post. The real flashing light for me, though, is the celebratory puffy eyelid infection I get when I'm really tired and stressed. The better to celebrate WoolfCamp!

Don't know if I'll ever get to documenting the whirlwind of last week. But here was yesterday:

Took care of Ep's cats. I am surprised that she is placing so much faith in me, as one of her cats needs insulin injections, and my track record with my own cats is not great--I have in fact given the wrong cat the stick in the past. Each morning as I leave to go to Ep's, Seymour whispers, "It's the stripey cat."

Went to the christening of Godmother Stacy's twins. In SF. In the big cathedral. Mali showed proper respect by producing a big stinky load mid-ceremony, which almost caused the attendees to faint. I found a nice quiet corner in front of "The Angel Removes the Lance What Pierced Christ's Heart" and took care of business.

Excellent lunch afterwards with all the attendees, including Godfather M. Who is apparently now blogging. And whom I will 'roll as soon as permission is given.

Grocery shopping with Leelo and Mali. Always interesting. Mali now stands erect in the bin of the cart and salutes/engages everyone we meet.

Went and visited my vacationing friend. She was not able to enjoy her vacation initially, but now is thinking time away in the proper environment and with the right people is a good, helpful thing. She is irritated that it conflicts with Woolfcamp, but ah well.

That doesn't sound like much but I went to bed as soon as physically possible. And now, Mali and I are off to Woolfcamp, which Mary promises will be a vortex of re-energization.


Rock On Izzy

Iz has once again gone on a Sch00lhouse Rock bender. It's been a couple of years, and this time she's paying more attention to the civics side of things than the parts of speech. Specifically, she really wants me to phone our congress person and start a bill. What kind? Why, a bill for making gay marriage legal, of course! I don't really have the heart to tell her that there might be a few existing road bumps.

Also, she gets truly indignant every time I tell her about a country that has or has had a female president or leader. "Why can't we do that here, Mommy? What is wrong with us?"

Anyhow, it's been a very long day and a very long week. 10:30 P.M. and I finally got all the kids to sleep. Then up in the early A.M. for another fully scheduled day. But perhaps a nap and some real blogging in the afternoon, so I can go to W00lfCamp in the right frame of mind. Though mostly I am going to show up, plant my butt in a corner, and blink warily at people.
Am I Ashamed?

Not really. I am proud of my brother, even though he currently works for The Dark Side. He is one of those rare moderates who can actually think, and can mediate between the far right and left.

Anyhow, Guess which one of Rummy's gofers is my sibling.


No Updates Tonight

Sophie and Iz are taking over the office for a Leelo-free impromptu slumber party, and I am leaving the premises to go watch a movie about a fictious non-human primate. By my f'n self.
Fully Loaded, at Light Speed

The past six days have been busier than a bottle of bees. And all the busy bits have been intense or important, not innocuous and inane. I will blog as much as I can remember--the parts that don't infringe on others' privacy, anyhow--when I have a moment in which Miss Mali isn't mauling me for my mammaries.


Mali goes Subcontinental

The Most Excellent Baby Ever

We are having the best time ever with Mali right now as she teeters on that knife edge between babyhood and personhood. The gusto with which 14-month-olds exist in those twin states makes this (in my limited experience) one of the most unabashedly joyous periods of parenting.

Unless, of course, like Leelo she stalls in the next six weeks or so, which I am trying not to contemplate. Even though in hindsight Leelo slipped further and further behind rather than regressing, I cannot discount all the parents who've testified that their perfectly normal toddlers retreated into autism at or around Mali's age.

I find it difficult to believe, however, that this amazing little girl, this personality explosion, could possibly follow her brother down the rabbit hole. She is so intensely social that she fights me with every bit of strength in her tiny body if I dare to change her diaper while she "plays" with her big sister and friends. If she manages to wiggle away from me, she will make a desperate combat crawl for her mates.

The big kids don't have to be in the play area for her to have a good time. She will happily set her self in all the ride-in cars and start tootling around, will climb up the SIX FOOT ladder of the kids' playset and then put herself down the slide, will be the first one to start jumping on the mini-trampoline. She is one of those wee tykes who may never understand that her abilities are supposed to be several years behind those of her siblings.

She has finally taken up walking as a valid means of locomotion, rather than the applause-generating parlor trick of the past two months. I was both thrilled and saddened when she walked across the driveway while holding onto only one of my hands. Another chunk of babyhood gone forever.

Her talking and chatting go on non-stop. She doesn't articulate all that many words clearly (preferring to stick to her basics: dog, Pat, Mama, ball, yogurt, juice, Up!, hi, bye-bye, yayaya, and NO!), but if you listen closely you will hear phrases that she's picked up from us. Used correctly, if not clearly.

She and her brother are starting to get along much better, as long as she is not crying. Look!

Sweet! I am so excited that they are starting to interact without howling or walloping. (He is about to give her a kiss.)

One of our friends thought we'd named her "Pakistan," and so sent her this outfit from that country.

I found Mali in this position while she was watching B00hbah with her brother and I was desperately trying to sort and fold five week's worth of five peoples' clean socks (Purgatory defined). This picture is proof positive that B00hbah puts children into an altered state of consciousness. Or has some sort of subliminal yoga message.


House Model Feb 2006

Our Model Home

House Model Feb 2006
Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Check out the solar panels on the roof, the corrugated metal of the roof itself, and the fact that it's all made out of Taz0 boxes.

This is why we're not moving.

*Update: More photos added on Flickr.

Model (c) 2006 A r k i n - T i l t Architects.


Balls. Rolling.

The Deadwood City school district just called to schedule Leelo's intake evaluation. It will take place in two weeks, during Bad Moms Coffee (but of course), at the school where Supervisor M and I were unimpressed by the behavioral management taking place in the K-2 special ed class. Once the evaluation is complete and they have all the materials they need (which will probably come from doing observations at Iron Gate as well as talking to Leelo's team members), then we will schedule his IEP.

They've asked us to have Therapist L (who works Thursday mornings) come along to the intake keep things "regular" for Leelo, but otherwise I do not believe anyone other than Leelo or I needs to be present as they'll be having their staff evaluate him. Again, they will contact members of Leelo's team for additional information as needed.

Two other items of interest:

The woman I talked to said that they are restructuring the special ed classes for next year. They will probably break up the K-2 class mentioned above to create either a separate K, or K-1 class--which the teacher above will not be leading. I must note that other parents think that this teacher is wonderful, though I've not had a discussion opportunity with any of them.

Also the intake woman saw Leelo's article in the paper two years ago, and kept it because he was a Deadwood kid and she figured she'd be seeing him come through the system at some point. So that's in his file, too.

Getting going! Perhaps they will fund the therapeutic preschool and kindergarten I saw and loved so much last week, and which I have not written about much.


International Aiiiigh

It is 4 AM. I am sitting at my desk frustrated by attempts to call back a friend in Mali. (For real. No psedonymity here.) He has called me twice in five minutes--shocking me awake with the instant thought that someone we love must be dead--and asked me to call him back. However the number he gave me appears to be incorrect. Also I think he doesn't realize that noon in Bamako is eight hours earlier here. Plus he mostly speaks French and I mostly don't.

That latter part is fortunate for him because I cannot possibly convey how pissed off I am at being woken up at this hour, in French, especially after my own Mali didn't let me fall asleep until almost 3:00 (I climbed into bed at 1:30).

I have emailed him twice to let him know that I cannot reach him with the number he gave me. Aiiigh. I want to go back to sleep.


Update: I finally got through. I believe that what he is saying is that his wife just had a baby girl lsat night and is going to name her after me! If that is true then what an honor. A little Squidlet Maiji running around Bamako. Cool.


Call Me "Madge" If You Must

One thing that has always bugged me about Mad0nna is how she latches onto trends well after the wave has crested, but still manages to spin them to the lemmings massing on the cliffs above the shore as Her Very Own Next Big Thing.

Probably this bugs me because I do the same thing, only without the star-struck lemmings. Most recently, I am Molly Come Lately to F1ickr. My friends have all been F1ickring for months. I am only now dipping in my toe--and finding it nice and warm. I can see why my friends talk about it with slightly glassy eyes.

So, if you are one of the three other people who've not taken the dive, trust me--the water's fine! Come on in!

Leelo's got his groove on

Leelo's got his groove on

Leelo's got his groove on
Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.
We are teaching him to say "Bootsy."

Mali the Destructinator

Mali the Destructinator

Mali the Destructinator
Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.
Here is how to amuse a 14-month old baby indefinitely: use your OCD laundry skills to place precisely folded dishtowels in the drawer. Then watch the baby take them out. Then watch the baby get in the drawer herself. Then watch her lean out and pull all the now-destroyed towels back in with her. Then watch her get out. Then watch it all happen again.



Today was Sophie de Spanglemonkey's 6th birthday party.

Because I cannot keep track of my own ringpiece these days, I had forgotten that Babysitter A was off for the weekend. I inwardly debated tag-teaming with Seymour so that Leelo could stay at home, but in the end we took the entire family. Leelo's been much less aggressive and unpredictable in the past three days, plus I cannot deny my sweet boy a romp in a bouncy house.

Turned out to be a loverly afternoon. Leelo confined his interpersonal overenthusiasm to his sisters (with the exception of one incident involving Badger's Moomin, apologies), and both Seymour and I were able to engage in rather pleasant though sporadic mingling with our dear friends.

I am now filled with dewy, sparkly hope at the thought that we may be able to put the horrors of January behind us. I would like nothing better than to resume living with the stress-o-meter set at a comfortable 7 or 8, instead of that red-hot-poker 11.


When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Blog Outline-Style

(Note: I outlined this on the posted date, but made it partially readable on 2/5)

Since the last post, things have been moderately crappy. There hasn't been anything particularly horrible--in fact there have been some wonderful moments--but by and large we have not managed to get all three kids down before 10 P.M. for many days, and that is a very bad situation for a solitude-dependent person to be in. It makes me really fucking grouchy, especially as the evening wears on.

Reminder to self of what happened in the last seven days:

-Dragged Seymour to see the house that would solve all our problems were we to simply cut and move. A second viewing made me moon over all the built ins, and how nicely we'd slip into all the round holes and solve our space problems/sleep problems. The drawbacks--living in W00dside (far), being on a road, losing our seclusion and gorgeous views and walking access to the local open space preserve, seemed tradeable to me. However I figured Seymour would need to mull and so I let him.

Two nights later we talked and realized that the logistics of moving (and showing the house, if we needed to) had saddled us both with constant nausea. We shelved the topic until after our architect design meeting.

In the meantime I spent the week mulling over how to rearrange our house for livability, so Leelo can have own space. We've decided to give him our office, wholly. For therapy and sleeping. That way we can live in our house and Iz can get more sleep, as her really loud and not very sleepy at all brother will be in a separate room. The office will relocate to a corner of our living room, and will be screened off.

Then we had a fantastic design meeting Friday, with the architects. They made a tiny model of our new home out of Taz0 boxes! I have pictures somewhere. The house is going to be unbelievable--any worries we had about size or livability were taken care of. Oh my Lord will that house be amazing if it truly does manifest in our yard. (Ms. Jane, back me up here!)

-Iz took the Big Noggin brain blaster test. I waited out in the parents' lounge with Sandia, as her son Jorge's teacher had encouraged him to apply. I also sat next to a mom whose autistic younger son was in Leelo's class this past summer school, whose older son was taking the test, and around whom I always manage to expose myself as the world's biggest asshole. Don't know why.

-Sage had me and a bunch of unbelievably cool Mama friends over to her house for homemade dinner and hanging out without the kiddlings (well, except Mali--but she was mostly charming). Lots of jokes about services, our kids not fitting in, etc. How lovely that we all fit in with each other--what a gracious, amazing group of parents. I am grateful to Sage for bringing us all together.

Also I found a bottle of cognac in our cabinet and that--coupled with Badger's donating home-grown lemons to my cause--spurred me to learn how to make sidecars for everyone. Slurp! And thanks to DoubleTrouble for actually doing the mixing when Mali made with the separation anxiety.

-Finally slapped my butt on the BlogHer Mommy and Family blogroll. Still musing about attending.

-Signed up for Grace Davis's Woolfcamp. Definitely attending (again, with Miss Mali).

-Finally joined F1ickr.

-Sacrificed half of Leelo's Monday critical morning OT session to go to awards ceremony at Iz's school (thank you Ep for helping with Leelo), and was glad that I did so as Iz got her class's academic achievement award! Her first award! She was so excited. Later that week she finally won the "Respect" award she's been desperate to get for so many months. I would be more excited myself if she was doling out more of that respect on the home side.

-Laid down new law with Iz. There will be no more disrespect, whining, or dissociating oneself from one's deeds. She is spoiled rotten and it is our fault and now we will fix it before the putridity becomes permanent. She can be a very good kid (and is so sweet and patient with Leelo), but we still need to perform an exorcism on her evil twin--that little bitch is not living in my house, not one day longer.

-Realized Iz's teacher just doesn't get how to do celebrations and in-class festivities, so I arranged with her to do Valentine's day projects before and on the day (she suggested we lump all February celebrations into one day, maybe the 21st...).

-Either Seymour or I had an event every single evening of the week. By Friday it was evident that such an arrangement is untenable, and not just because it makes me too tired to blog episodically. Marroqui helped with the Mali and Iz almost every night, because she is saintly.

-Monday evening's fest was an Iron Gate meeting about building your kids' character, etc., durrrh. Some good points, but mostly review for any thinking parent. However I picked up Anya and Carys on way there, and they reinforced our resolve and love for the neighborhood. Also, they too went through an epic horror of a house build and testified that It Will Be Worth It.

-Hooked up cool Iron Gate friends with possible gig at the Cafe and also Seymour is going to redo the husband's really crappy web site (Dude, it has frames and contains no meta tags, and it is his business site). I will link back when it gets set up, so y'all can hear what an amazing jazz pianist this friend is.

-My Dad had surgery on Tuesday. They had to removed a quarter-sized divot from his nose, and do a skin graft. My mom is pissssssed as she'd been railing at the dermatologist to biopsy the site for over a year. She also had formal portraits done of the two of them the previous week, just in case the surgeon really did have to carve my Dad's nose up.

-Wednesday saw possible preschool for Leelo. I went in thinking "Pshaw, therapeutic preschool, does he really need that?" I came out thinking that our boy would be the lowest-functioning child in the class, were he to join. Not a good feeling. Also it sucked to recognize a student who was in Leelo's infant-toddler language class two years ago and who was at the time much lower functioning than our boy, and who now not only has conversational language skills but can ride bikes like a wild man. *Sigh* We will sign Leelo up for their summer school at the very least.

-Wednesday afternoon Leelo's new therapist, Therapist C, came over for a training session with Supervisor M. Have a good feeling about her. Later that day Therapist Y asked if he could switch his Thurs. shift to Wednesday and I almost killed him. Later I explained that I had just hired Therapist C the day before, and any time before then would have been a good time to let me know he wanted to work Wednesdays. However Therapist C was cool with the switch. Whew.

-That same day I also forced myself to draw a single frame cartoon. Even though it sucked. I will really really try to do this once each week even if they all suck. I have to get my drawing brain back, somehow.

-Invested* in new nursing bras, as Mali's not going on the wagon any time soon. I am sick of wearing bras held together with safety pins and frayed threads, and that could give my mother the ex-ER nurse a stroke (one must never wear undergarments that one wouldn't want the ER staff to see after you get in an accident).
*The truly stacked can never merely purchase bras. We sell stocks and plunder money market accounts in order to fund our foundations.

-Thursday Mary Tsa0 of Mom Writes came to Bad Moms' coffee. Boy did I ever yammer! I am simply incapable of meeting new people without nervously overchattering or hiding in a corner.

-Friday Tia Izobel called, she is having surgery on her back on Monday. If it goes well, she will be out of considerable pain. If it goes badly she may not walk again. Please think good thoughts.

-That same day I completely spaced on picking up Sophie from school, even though I do so every single Friday. I didn't even realize I'd bonked until the next morning, when I checked my calendar as I do every morning because my memory is so bad, and which I had done on Friday morning. Note to anyone depending on me for anything: Call to Confirm! And deepest apologies to Jo. FUCK.

No more overscheduled weeks. No more. That is it.
I Think I Would Like More Sleep

It occurs to me that if I ever got a full night's sleep then perhaps I would be less grouchy and better able to handle the minor setbacks of each day without a flamethrower-style reaction. I might also be able to focus and stop driving to the places I'm thinking about rather than the places I'm supposed to be at.

I suspect I may need to check into some sort of baby-weaning-rehab with Mali for a few days, a place where she and I can spend the nights wrassling without disturbing anyone else's sleep, and she will get NO FEEDINGS between being put to bed and then awakening to a new morning.

She can soothe herself back to sleep, but not if I'm next to her. So we need an intervention. I think Costan0a may have such a program. Must check it out.