I Hate School

I Hate School

Because I have not yet transitioned to School Year Mentality, and because Therapist L has the week off and so Leelo has his afternoons free, my kids and I spent Monday at the Zoo, and yesterday running errands and then meeting Seymour for dinner down by his work. I'd not been monitoring Iz's take home work much because it is Wednesday of the second week of school, and surely nothing noteworthy could have been mine or my child's responsibility by now, yes?

Oh, no. Oh, no no no.

Apparently today is an early release day so that parents will have time to whip their child into finishing the evening's one hour of mandatory homework before we attend the mandatory Open House. I found this out when Armada called me back regarding letting Violet come over to play this afternoon.

Iz has certainly not been doing an hour's worth of homework every night. She's been doing the 20 minutes of reading and some of the math homework, but apparently there's a whole 'nother "personal timeline" section that I haven't even seen, plus some sort of "10, 000 steps" program that she's supposed to track for 1/4 of her P.E. grade.

I remember Eliz's first year at Big Noggin and the shock of the accelerated homework schedule, but for some reason I didn't think that it ramped up this quickly. Also I want Iz be responsible for her own work and schedule, but perhaps since she is so distractible, she could use some initial organizing advice.

I miss summer already.

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Leelo's Got Two New Friends: Liam and SJ

Leelo's Got Two New Friends: Liam and SJ

Those Flickr fuckers don't want to let me post through their site, so here's some hand-tooled Leelo love, chiseled out of Blogger stone:

Look! It's like the opening credits of Star Wars, except with an autism research fundraising logo. Boobful ladies, SJ and I agree that the fine folks who make the non-baggy Leelo shirts couldn't begin to comprehend the awesome force of our bosoms. Sigh. The mugs are nice, so are the bumper stickers. Or you could slap a shirt on your kid, or your cat.

Try some today!

According to Liam's mom, Leelo mugs are great as on-the-fly mac & cheese repositories. Don't forget to requisition your own Leelo gear!

Thanks to all the friends, again. I just ploinked 60 clams in the naar.org jar, and it's all because of *you.* Sniff!

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Advice for Breastfeeding Mothers

Advice for Breastfeeding Mothers

If you give your nipple a squeeze to see whether or not your mammaries are still functional after 48 hours without nursing, don't be looking down the barrel of said nipple at the the time. I'm just saying.

My 43 hours of glorious solitude made me realize that my goal was not to wean Mali, but rather to give my body a break. And the udders still work, seeing as Mali nursed herself to sleep happily (and quickly) tonight. Now I know that Seymour can handle getting her to sleep without me, if need be. It's not pleasant, but it can be done. This means I can go away for breaks before I reach last week's breaking point. That knowledge alone should keep me going for weeks.

For the record, my partner had no problem with or complaints about spending the weekend with his three children. He couldn't be bothered with the silly incompetent dad shtick that so forms the backbone of discussions in play groups I will never attend. He took the kids to restaurants and went grocery shopping, he even had their friends over. I returned to a house that was cleaner than when I left it. Maybe I should be the one to go back to paying work.

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The Cat is a Friend of Leelo's!

The Cat is a Friend of Leelo's!

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Look, it's Karianna's own Cat! Giving Leelo a run for King of the Handsomeness Spectrum.

That's four friends of Leelo so far. $40 I will donate to naar.org. One more person and I get to cut a check for $50. So, who will it be?

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Holed Up Holed Up

Holed Up

I am hiding in a hotel for the weekend, the better to reset my brain after 21 months of never getting a full night's sleep. Also I owe some people some writing, which requires buckling down and getting shit done. Or at least organized to a point where I can jump in spontaneously and make real progress without worrying about fucking up entire plot lines that exist only on the back of envelopes and which have not yet been integrated.

Much to my sadness, my hotel does not have room service. This interferes with my plans to not leave my room for the entire weekend, but they do have free wireless and that is much more important.

Seymour is riding herd for 48 hours, so keep him in your thoughts. Also Mali, who had stopped using me as a soporific, and so is getting her own special weekend of weaning. Those should be a couple of screamy nights, getting her to sleep without me or a ride in the car. I am very grateful to be elsewhere during her transition.

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New Baby Alert!

New Baby Alert!

TLF and Floyd had their little girl Talia last night! She is 7lbs 6oz, healthy, only slightly coneheaded, and to TLF's relief has her mommy's nose, not her daddy's (it looks handsome on her daddy, but...).

I am so thrilled for them that my belly is in danger of bursting open and spewing entrails of joy on unsuspecting passersby. Hurrah!

Contact me if you want to know how to contact them. They'll be in the hospital today and tomorrow.

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IEP: Q'apla!

IEP: Q'apla!

Leelo's IEP went well. Very well. It is astounding to me that we are having such good luck, with so many helpful and talented people working for our boy. Here's the blog-safe transcript of yesterday's meeting, which took place in Leelo's classroom.

But, basically, the school district will provide Leelo with a behavioral kindergarten, a 1:1 aide in the classroom, occupational therapy services, speech therapy services, and possible adaptive P.E. services. They are also going to contract with Supervisor M and Therapist L to provide Leelo's home ABA program, which will be afternoons only for fourteen hours per week (plus Supervisor M's on-site consulting and program management). It may be that we will need to supplement both Supervisor M and Therapist L if the district is not able to pay their current rates; I will find that out over the next few weeks.

We need to have another IEP on Sept. 15 to hammer out specific goals once the class and OT and speech has gotten a chance to know him, but his services are set. Phew!

Also his teacher is figuring things out in the classroom very quickly. Babysitter A and Supervisor M still see a lot of room for improvement, as do I, but I am cheered that the classroom staff is responding to both suggestions and the kids' needs with such alarcrity.

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The IEP That Matters

The IEP That Matters

Leelo's IEP to determine his goals, services, and home ABA program support for the year is this afternoon. At 1:00. Almost everyone who currently works with Leelo, as well as half of the Deadwood Special Ed staff, will be there. Yeep.

We shall see whether we made the right choice in moving from private to mostly public support. The private programs have so far been of the highest quality, but having to ask Seymour's folks to pay for most of them is increasingly humiliating. Sigh. Will report back.

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Turquoise Iz Loves Big Noggin. And the Guinness Book of World Records.

Turquoise Iz Loves Big Noggin. And the Guinness Book of World Records.

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Iz loves Big Noggin! She came home the first day chattering non-stop about schemes for the class egg drop and how she will keep her egg from cracking upon impact. My worries about her home room teacher dissipated upon meeting said person, getting an instant firm competency vibe, and seeing the vivid purple stripes in her hair. Our girl is relieved to be among Her People. Rah!

More stories from her week on her grandparents' boat keep trickling out. Here's the best one yet:

"Mommy, have you ever watched America's Got Talent? We watched that a lot on the boat. There was a girl on the show who could yodel and she was really good. I like that show a lot! And David Hasselhoff was one of the judges!"

(**splutter splutter**) "Iz, how the hell do you know who David Hasselhoff is?"

"He's in the Guinness Book of World Records! Did you know that Baywatch is the most watched TV show in the world?"


BTW, you may have noticed that I have largely abandoned L33T. I can't be bothered, in most cases.

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Ep on Behavioralists

Ep on Behavioralists

The fourth leg of the Deadwood Hive Mind,
, doesn't record the details of her life as obsessively as the blogosphere dictates--but when she does post it's worth the wait.

Those of us whose kids are forging alternate neurological paths will appreciate her take on the data-driven optimism of behavioralists.

The rest of you can play a drinking game based on the number of times I've written "appreciate" during the last week.

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Leelo Flash!

Leelo Flash!

Three notable Leeloisms for today:

1) He has entered another compulsive eating phase. He can't stop eating until his belly is sticking-out-taut full. If we deny him, he has fits and sneaks around grabbing food from other peoples' plates or from what we thought were secure hiding places. It is a sensory issue, not a hunger issue. Leelo is several inches shorter than Iz yet weighs the same.

2) We have a new stimmy vocalization! This one is a real keeper--he sounds like a humpback whale getting strangled during a Tuvan throat-singing lesson. It's been an all-day thing. Given its throaty and vibratory nature, it has to be a sensory issue as well.

3) Leelo had some good, in context responses to questions today. Even though his overall language and responses are off. His phrasing is still not entirely correct, but I don't think anyone would have had problem understanding the following two exchanges:

"Leelo, who has your bread?"
"Mommy has you bread." (Is "you" closer to "my" than the usual "your"?)

"Leelo, where is your stick?" (green plastic swizzle, current favorite fidget)
"The stick fell down." (i.e.,"Even though that stick is at this moment my favorite object in the entire world, I purposefully dropped it off the side of the deck or down the stairs so as to create drama.")

Actual conversations like these, rather than echolalic exchanges, have been rare lately, and so were appreciated. Also his receptive language was very very good today; he listened a lot and did as asked--most of the time.

More good news: Supervisor M has been granted her NPA, which means that she is now an official non-public-agency, and can do the public school contracting dance! Even if we have to supplement her and by extension Therapist L, we may be able to not only keep our own after-school ABA program in place, but have it partially paid for. We will try to hammer all this out during Leelo's programming and goals IEP on 8/23.

Bad news: Leelo's kindergarten is not the ideal class I'd anticipated. It is nothing like the wonderful district preschool class I'd observed last year, and from which it was supposed to take root. It has too few aides, no visuals, no structure, and the teacher does not have any behavioral experience with this age group. According to Babysitter A, today was complete chaos. I keep telling myself and anyone who'll listen that the entire Special Ed dept. is in chaos, that this class is currently experiencing the miasma state, and that like the universe it will take on its shape shortly.

When Babysitter A first started telling me how inappropriate and underprepared the classroom environment was for my boy, my first reaction was to cry, and my second was to grab my phone to call ALSO (his former therapeutic preschool) and ask if there was still room in their kindergarten. I didn't make the call, though. I figure that there are going to be a bunch of really smart, really informed parents (including me) who will fight for the resources to make this a great class for all the kids, and to set a standard for the future. Someone get me a hanky...

While Leelo and Iz and all the other Deadwood district kids were at school, Sage's lovely friend B hosted a mimosa morning for local special needs moms. I hooked up with some people I hadn't seen in a while, and had a pleasant though brief visit with some of my other favorite people.

I mimosa'd for a while with an acquaintance, D, about how some people don't get that special needs parenting puts extra demands on a person's life. We don't require a passing around of the sympathy tip jar, and we certainly don't think of ourselves as heroic*, but we also do not like other parents giving us shit when we set boundaries on school volunteering and community involvement. (D actually had a parent tell her--while she was at a PTA meeting, which is about five steps farther than I'm willing to go--that "everybody is busy," implying that D should be willing to put in time beyond that required by her role as PTA fundraising chair.)

Anyhow. No matter how crappy Leelo's class is right now, it can only get better. Regardless, he still has a fantastic afternoon program at our house. And he's still making strides, even if for a long time they've been modest ones. And our lives are total and complete cake complete with icing and three shiny cherries. Yes, I know that.

*I frequently suspect that Karen Montague-Reyes of the comic strip Clear Blue Water has my family under surveillance.

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Leelo's First Day of Kindergarten

Leelo's First Day of Kindergarten

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

New backpack, even! Izzy is very proud of him. She got a new backpack, too.

The entire family walked Leelo to his new classroom. He was met by the lead teacher, her assistant teacher, the Deadwood School District head of special education, and Babysitter A, who because she walked into Leelo's life via a rainbow sent straight from the clouds, agreed to come train Leelo's new aide for the first few days. Which is a good thing because the aide is the one person who didn't get there on time.

This is the first time since Leelo was two that his support staff won't be on our payroll, and therefore officially aligned with and sympathetic towards us. We are going to be relying on a new teacher and a new aide. It is worrisome to me, even though I realize that most kids don't even get the one-on-one aide, even though I know that the families of most kids in Leelo's situation would sacrifice digits for a top-quality public behavioral kindergarten. I'm fretting anyhow. At least I've got Babysitter A to spy for me for the first week.

Today is also Iz's first day at Big Noggin. She is very excited to be with her peers, and about going to school with Eliz. She has been telling me more stories about how mean the kids in her class at Esperanza were to her last year, because she was smarter and younger than them, and not as into fashion. One of the more popular girls, went so far as to tell Iz, "I really want to be your friend...PSYCH!" I really hope the kids at Big Noggin will be on her wavelength.

Iz doesn't have the Spanish-speaking science geek teacher of our dreams, but oh well. I did make a request this year. And introduced Iz to the teacher. And apparently even Jo Spanglemonkey talked to her. Sigh. Perhaps the teacher got irritated and thought that we could all bloody well fuck off.

Whatever. Iz is at Big Noggin. She'll be fine. She has our neighbors Marin and Marys in her class, which should make the transition easier.

Leelo's class only lasts until 11:15, so off I go.

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Leelo Tricycling

Leelo Tricycling

He and Therapist Y are doing a figure eight path around the toys on the back deck. Leelo couldn't even ride or steer a tricycle in February, now look at him go!

Therapist Y's last day was yesterday. Sigh. He has left for the kind of greener pastures that grow medical insurance alongside salaries, and I can't really say I blame him. He may return in a fortnight to work with Leelo one afternoon a week, and I certainly hope he does, as he and Leelo have a magical connection.

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Ice Princess = Brain Freeze

Ice Princess = Brain Freeze

I TiVo'd the movie Ice Princess for Iz, because it is about ice skating and it has the word princess in it (two Boing!s for my kid), and it's about a girl (Casey) who is really good at physics and uses her brain to improve her figure skating (go smart girl role models go).

What I did not know is that Casey becomes so passionate about figure skating that she bails during her Harvard admissions interview to pursue her !Dream!

(**Squid brain explosion noises**)

Now, some of you might say that the movie was being realistic. If Casey really did want to pursue full-time competitive figure skating, then she would have to give up everything else. I say that since Disney fucks realism in the ear every chance they get, why do they then pull out the Real World card for the first girl-candy movie in recent memory with a super-smart lead? Why couldn't their hero pull a Natalie Portman, and do both?

Iz's reaction: She wants to take ice skating lessons. Because Casey's love of physics was ridiculed by most of the other kids in the movie and ultimately discarded, it didn't register with Iz as cool or noteworthy, though I'm sure many of the people behind the movie worked the Cute Teen Chick Physicist angle to get it made.

I also hated that Joan Cusack (the mother) was written as such a shrewish and unlikable academic puppeteer. She gave a heartfelt speech about "the shelf life of a figure skater as opposed to the shelf life of your amazing brain" that to me was completely valid, though the movie framed it as balls-out manipulation.

I would really love to know the story behind this completely squandered opportunity. I could rant about toxic media messages for several paragraphs, but I think you get the point.

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Today is Seymour's annual not-surprise-this-year birthday party. We've invited everyone in the neighborhood, because my partner wants to meet more micro-locals, and they won't need parking. Plus I set up an excellent poetry wiki via the easiest wiki platform on the planet, pbWiki, and Seymour's friends and family have put up some truly hilarious verse. Which I may post if it's pseudonymizable.

Today will be party prep madness. And tomorrow will be post-party crashing. But tonight will be the most fun we've ever attempted to squeeze into our house and yard. I've even made mint simple syrup, and have washed and prepped five bushels of mint from our yard, so that we can be either The Mint Julep Palace or Mojitoland, depending upon our guests' preferences.

Anyone who wants to come rub my feet tomorrow morning will be welcomed with vague hungover whimpers of gratitude.


Many Milestones

Many Milestones

On Monday the 21st both Iz and Leelo start school. WTF is this, summer already being over? Tomorrow we'll go check on Iz's class assignment (Spanish-speaking astronomy and science geek teacher, oh please please please). Some time this weekend we'll try to find her ideal first day of school outfit: denim jacket and skort with white t-shirt. Badger has gleefully agreed to dye the tips of Iz's hair all rainbowy (a la Ariel).

Leelo's school entry should be interesting, too. Today we not only have an IEP (an introductory session in which I will meet my son's new teacher, and his classroom aide, and to which Sage and Babysitter A have graciously agreed to come), but also an evaluation by the ABA service provider who will most likely be supplying said aide. I so hope these people are good at handling kids who don't like transitions. Next week we will have another IEP in which we will determine Leelo's speech, occupational therapy, adaptive PE, and ABA goals and services for the year.

Today is also the school-wide Kindergarten social. Leelo and I will be crashing it, and so will two of his classmates and their moms. I don't know if I mentioned that this school is Cloy Roud, which has the general reputation of being the Best School in the District because of its test scores--a reputation which drives local thinking parents nuts because the major difference between Cloy Roud and a school like Gohn Jill is not the quality of the education but rather the proportion of English-language learners. What this boils down to is that parents can be snotty as hell about having their kid at C.R. and I want to see how welcoming those sorts will be to Leelo and his buddies. I'm not sure why the district placed their behavioral kindergarten there, but I have been amusing myself by bragging that Leelo "got into Cloy Roud!"

Today is Seymour's birthday. I decided not to throw a huge surprise party this year as has been the tradition. Instead I am throwing a huge birthday party of which he is aware, on the 19th. Hot live salsa music, awesome Lebanese food, lots of people and kids milling around all over like an ant colony exposed to sunlight--only more festive and with better beer. If you were not invited it is because this is our one yearly event about Seymour's friends rather than my friends.

Because we are having a party in two days, today I also have three separate people coming over to clean up the yard, fix the back deck, and front deck steps. The needs of a tidied (rather than tidy) yard has provided me with therapeutic gardening and rock-hauling opportunities, which I appreciate. Probably I should find some extra chairs to place around the yard.

Somehow I will fit in Bad Mom's coffee. And pick up Iz and Seymour from the airport. And do laundry so that I don't have to wear a sweater and corduroy pants in August. And take Seymour's work shirts to the cleaner--the man must have thirty of them, and they've all been worn. I should also make and distribute flyers inviting all our neighbors to the party so that they don't report us to the police. Ack, and I have to retrieve Leelo's Adderupp prescription and turn in all of Mali's preschool forms--which means I have to retrieve her physician's evaluation from Deadwood Shores. And my doctor hasn't called me back yet about my TB test, which is also required for Mali's school. Shit.

On a very sad note, the Frantic Fish finally expired. My guess is that what we thought was post-tank-cleaning frolicking was actually prolonged death throes. It is selfish of me, but I am glad that she decided to bow out while Iz is away. And also that Babysitter A volunteered to do the actual scooping and flushing. I don't like to look at dead things, me.

Anyhow, the next four days should be interesting indeed.

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Small Children Sleeping, Pooping, and Talking

Small Children Sleeping, Pooping, and Talking

Our week without Iz and Seymour has been an interesting one. Even though Leelo ran out of extended release Adderupp two days ago and has been getting dosed from the short-acting emergency stock, even though I am being lenient with sugar and have been letting him have sweets such as madeleines and PB&J's, our boy has been going to sleep at night with relative ease--voluntarily, and without his usual hour of jack-in-the-boxing every 30 seconds. A miracle!

Less miraculous is his potty training, which has entered a doldrums phase. He hasn't woken up dry in at least two weeks, though he still has lots of pee on his waking visit to the toilet. He is good about holding it for at least 90 minutes during waking hours, but even so we are somehow going through three or four pullups a day. Those fuckers are expensive, and Leelo's 4T-5T size is not sold in bulk at C0stco like its more popular smaller cousins.

Our profligate pullup usage results from Leelo's lack of interest in civilizing his bowels. Seymour is not here to be completely appalled, so I have been demonstrating successful colon-to-toilet bowl transfers whenever possible. Leelo does not seem impressed, though he does appreciate the extra opportunities for a good flush.

Since Leelo absolutely will not poop in the toilet, Supervisor M suggested to instead place him on the pot in his pullup and let him see if he can produce in that position instead of the Britney Birthing stance he prefers. I would follow her advice if I could catch Leelo in time, but he is too wily--and so has been having accidents almost every day in terms of breaching the rear dam and compromising his outfit. It is all very frustrating because he does have some awareness of his BM's--the one evening this week he didn't go to sleep immediately was when he had a late-night load coming.

Mali seems to sense that our usual nightly drama quotient is not being met, and is staying up until midnight most evenings. Oh, it is a happy happy mother who thinks she is nursing her child to sleep only to have said child end the session by announcing, "Nursing all done!" and by implication declaring a iFiesta! for the next two hours.

I can't put her in a mesh bag and hang her outside my window because she is just too goddamned cute. Especially since she decided that full sentences were cool, about two weeks ago . She makes her own constructions, e.g., "Here comes the boat!" "I see a mirror" etc. She also uses a lot of echolalia--not only as my personal parrot, but also for storing phrases for later contextual usage, e.g., coming up to me and declaring, "What are we going to do?" if she'd like me to play with her.

Apologies to those of you who are saccharine-intolerant, but I can't describe this language phase as anything other than darling. Even at my most sleep-deprived, I melt at a wee little thing spontaneously putting her head on my shoulder, giving me a squeeze, and then declaring, "I love you!" Or saying, "Bless you, Mama" when I sneeze.

She is singing along with a lot of songs, some with movements even (e.g., Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes). She knows what colors are, even though they're all yellow. She loves to recite numbers in sequence (no, it is not counting), will steal pens, pencils, or crayons from anyone and draw on anything. She is observant--unlike her siblings and her mom--finding and labeling tiny objects in pictures and in her environment, always recognizing when we're at a train crossing or station even if the location is novel.

I wish I wasn't so tired, and that I could appreciate both Leelo's and Mali's current phases more--or at least do a better job of documenting them so that I could appreciate them in hindsight.

Seymour and Iz are coming home late tonight. They should be well rested after their boating week, so perhaps they can do some intensive appreciating of the two smallest members of our family--while I sleep.

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First Mary privately mentioned Ecto as a way to facilitate tagging, then Badger blogged about Ecto, too. Since I am gradually crawling out from under the rock that is 2003-era blogging, I decided to investigate.

Moving from Blogger to Ecto is like switching from a PC to a Mac. OMG. Everything is shiny and pretty and automated. On-the-fly spell checking! That recognizes the words "blog" and "blogging!" URLs appear in the link window without being pasted--having copied them is sufficient! Simultaneous opening of multiple posts! Previews in a separate window! And, of course, a tag window. That stores previously used tags.

Oh, farts. Ecto currently doesn't support image uploading for Blogger users. Though it does allow Mac users to internally browse iPhoto.

Pointedly added using Blogger

Well, hopefully that'll be fixed soon. I am otherwise as swoony over Ecto as I've ever been over a piece of software that does not list me as one of its producers.

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Do Not Buy My Kids Another Barbie, Please!

Do Not Buy My Kids Another Barbie, Please!

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Iz has a doll drawer that she only opens when she is gifted another doll and needs a place to put it. Leelo broke the drawer by using it as a step stool, so I had to empty it. Here are all its innards. If they disappeared Iz would never realize it.

This display is sick and wrong to me on so many levels. Not even getting into body image mental contortions or the kind of labor involved in making such complicated micro-garments on a doll that sells for $5.

This is a good example of why I ask people not to bring obligatory presents to our birthday parties. We prefer company to gifts, though sincere and thoughtful generosity is always appreciated.

Anyone who wants a Barbie, let me know.


Boating vs. Baby Wrangling

Boating vs. Baby Wrangling

Seymour called a couple of days ago to let me know how things are going with him and Iz as they explore the various inlets and coves of the San Juan Islands on Seymour's folks' boat:
  • Yesterday they were visited by a pod of orcas. The baby orca was darling and the mother orca had a salmon so large they could see it dangling out of both sides of her mouth.
  • They are living in "The Knot Channel." The captain and deckhand are amused by Iz's interest in knots, and have given her a length of line and a how-to book to mess around with. A new line (snarf) of perseveration! But around seafaring folk such things are encouraged--with many patient demonstrations--and Iz is doing so well that they are even letting her tie up the smaller launches.
  • When Iz is not tying knots, she is watching the Worst Witch DVD's I sent with her on the parlor's giant plasma screen. Or reading. Rough.
  • They are eating shrimp that they caught themselves.
  • Iz's dad took her kayaking yesterday, and hiking "exploring" today.
  • Iz is surrounded by six doting adults who think that everything she does is noteworthy and remarkable.
  • Seymour said that it took a couple of days of really relaxing and sleeping deeply, but now he's feeling like himself.

I spent the day wiping butts and cleaning the house. And cruising sites for Trinidad and Tofino vacations. One day, people, I am going to disappear! I may even reappear. Once I sort of feel like myself. Whoever that is...

I Have Found The URL for Heaven

I Have Found The URL for Heaven

How is it that no one told me about the site for all things Squid?

Air Travel With Leelo and Mali

Air Travel With Leelo and Mali

Leelo at SeaTac
Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

I used to do a lot of traveling as the sole shepherd of Iz and Leelo. Many cross-country trips, international trips, and hops to San Diego or Seattle. I lived in fear of one or both of the kids falling asleep in the double stroller before we got through Security. I still get the jitters thinking about Leelo barfing all over the BWI departure lounge as we were boarding a five-hour flight to SFO (he wore jacket and diaper only for the remainder of that trip). I can't really imagine how I got from the curb to check-in while five months pregnant with Mali, with Leelo in a stroller, Iz on my hand, and hauling backpacks, two car seats, and luggage. But never in any of those incidences did I ever doubt my ability to muddle through.

Now I do. I cannot get through an airport with Leelo and Mali, by myself, at the moment. Leelo is too big and strong and unpredictable and bolty. Mali is too needy and squirmy and active; also she thinks that being yelled at for running away is the best game ever. I suppose that if I absolutely had to, I could strap Mali into a car seat and let her howl for the flight's duration, but I doubt I could survive that episode without alcoholic lubrication that would then make disembarking problematic. Also I would have to buy a round for everyone on board, and I am cheap.

Even with a partner, traveling with our two smallests is a challenge. Here are some forehead-smackers that I figured out for this trip, and which made our day bearable. Keep in mind that we parked our own van in the long-term lot. I still have not figured out how to keep the shuttle loading and unloading from totally sucking.
  • Get medical alert bracelets for kids like Leelo. He didn't get away from us this time, but what if he did? The bracelet has his name, says that he is autistic and will not talk to strangers, and has both of his parents' cell phone numbers on it. Oneida Medical Jewelry can get you a custom bracelet within a week and for a very reasonable rate.
  • Pack the spare car seats. How lovely to arrive at our car in the long-term lot and drop the kids in their car seats immediately, rather than have one of us pin them both down on the asphalt as the seats get installed.
  • Curb check your bags. If this is an option. You can do this even if the curb check folks say you can't with a lap child like Mali--but you may have to go inside to offically note your little parasite. We had time for the extra step and I'd certainly rather do that then haul all our bags and kids from the curb through the super-long check-in lines.
  • Bring your laptop and your child's favorite DVD's. If you have a laptop. Leelo hates being confined to his seat and gets extremely agitated while flying. His favorite movies were able to calm him down and keep him from yelling and kicking the seat in front of him. Everyone won.
Even with all of this newfound wisdom, it will probably be a while before I take them on another plane. Any additional tips on traveling with multiple noncompliant children are welcome.


What Is It About "BlogHER" That You Don't Understand, Sir?

What Is It About "BlogHER" That You Don't Understand, Sir?

I am a dutiful citizen and so have filled out my BlogHer post-conference survey. As I don't believe I ever wrote down my opinion on the BlogHer male attendees, I'll do so now using my response to the "Any additional comment on the overall conference experience?" query:

I am not usually strident about all-female anythings, but I found myself resenting the presence of the male attendees and wondering why the fuck they were there. I didn't want to see them any more than Malcolm X would have wanted to see my white butt at one of his conferences.

BlogHer was about us, and I didn't want to see one man there who wasn't in a service position--not even Guy Kawasaki. Not even if he was lending his support with the most open-hearted of intentions. It's still support, and therefore a form of permission, that was not fucking needed.

Voyage to Seattle: Unscathed

Voyage to Seattle: Unscathed

Two days and three nights is just about my current Leelo and Mali traveling limit. I know it's going to get easier in time (well, maybe not with Leelo, but likely with Mali). I didn't embarrass myself too badly or injure anyone. I didn't have any stress-induced tantrums, because by the time I hit that "I have not had a break for three days except to shower" wall, I was already back home.

Where I am a bit sad. I don't write about this much, but one of my dearest friends is still struggling so hard with her own sadness, and there's nothing any of us can do except be there when and if she needs us. Which I wasn't, this weekend. In fact most of my friends are going through unbloggably sad times for which there are no quick or uncomplicated solutions. It's hard to stay chipper when things are so difficult for people who deserve nothing but fields of poppies and top-shelf cocktails.

And I sent Seymour and Iz off on a boat yesterday. They'll be San Juaning it until the 17th. And they will have the Best Time Ever. But they're not here, and they're the two biggest lights in this household. The rest of us will have to make do with murk until they return.

Because I have both Strange Brew and Star Wars committed to memory, I will keep myself amused by looping this.


Fucktard Nation

Fucktard Nation

I despise Ann Coulter for many reasons, but the primary reason I wouldn't mind seeing her held down as "LIAR" is tattooed on her forehead is that she has championed righteous and petulant ignorance as a viable American mindset.

We've recently had another such self-righteous incident on the Deadwood Moms' Club elist, regarding slanderous forwarded misinformation about Senate Bill 1437, which proposes to include GLBT family examples as part of standard school textbooks. Here is the bill's summary:

This bill would revise the statutes prohibiting textbooks
and other instructional material from containing material
adverse to persons based on race, color, creed, national
origin, ancestry, sex, or handicap, and add sexual
orientation to this list of characteristics. These changes
would make the statutes consistent with other statutes
prohibiting discrimination based on specified personal
characteristics, such as the Fair Employment and Housing
Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The bill also would direct the school governing boards to
include only instructional material that accurately portray
the cultural, racial, gender and sexual diversity of our
society, and, in instructional material for the social
sciences, include the contributions of people who are
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the economic,
political, and social development of California and the
United States of America.

Ep, Liz, and Badger have written specifics on the elist brouhaha. Here is my take, as ripped from Badger's comments:

"I'm still seething over this. I get rabid when people lob hate grenades--even in ignorance and stupidity, as [the original poster] so lengthily confessed--and then reframe themselves as victims the moment someone dares to call them on their actions.

"I wish I'd been as diplomatic as [Badger]. No one listens to the humorless gibberers at the poles. I believe that helpful, friendly, and informative responses like [Badger] wrote really do influence people who've not given their positions much thought.

"As for the original poster, she is a registered vindictive ignoramus who sends Ep personal hate mail all the time. She deserves no one's sympathy

And, according to the rest of the world, neither do most Americans.

You Wish You Were Me

You Wish You Were Me

Because I'm going to Seattle today. Therapist L has graciously agreed to come along so that Leelo's routine won't be too interrupted, which means that Seymour and I will not have to spend the entirety of our visit in Standard Vacation Siege mode. (Meanwhile I entreat the Powers That Be to lull both Leelo and Mali to sleep during reasonable hours and with minimal fuss.)

My generous in-laws have, as usual, opened up their home to not only us and our entourage but to my friends, so Seymour is going to finally meet Teams SJ and Elswhere. I can't wait to see all our kids splashing around in the yard that my SIL has apparently turned into a water theme park.

And I can't wait to see my little ballerina Iz so I can gauge the extent of the tutu damage (or lack thereof), and do triage if necessary. Or I could simply chill and enjoy her honest and innocent delight in going to camp with her cousin.

Normally I approach these trips with considerable trepidation, especially when my SIL is there as she is everything glossy parenting mags tell mothers to be: Smart, beautiful, thin, competent, kind, and loving. Kind of like my MIL. Usually I would be grumbly about being in an environment in which mainstream beauty stereotypes are not only celebrated but fulfilled by everyone except me.

But today I'm not worrying about anyone's expectations but my own. I was thinking of bringing a pocket Stuart Smalley, but fuck him--he's annoying. I don't need excuses today, I don't need to list preemptive complaints. I don't need to worry about anything except having fun with a family who loves me and whom I adore right back even though we're each other's lifestyle aliens.


In Which I Torture Small Defenseless Animals

In Which I Torture Small Defenseless Animals

The Frantic Fish has been looking rather peaked lately. She's been spending almost all her time lying on the bottom of the tank. The Google Fairies said that she might be suffering from either a bum swim bladder or ... oxygen deprivation.

We have had her for 3.5 years now with minimal tank cleanings and no problems. Except that this time I didn't realize the filter system was on the fritz. I fixed the filtration and gave her new fresh water, and in five minutes she was a whole new fish. Which means that for the past few weeks she has been suffering needlessly.

I am going to the special hell for people who neglect their pets. I wonder if they'll put me in with the people who forget to feed their bunnies and find them with their paws gnawed off, or with the people who move without taking their cats along.

Maybe I'll go to the hell for people who don't realize their kids have taken a shit until they strip and paint the living room with their feces. Oh, wait, I'm already there!

Oh yes, it was a lovely day today. Leelo shredded the crap out of my arm and I've got the gashes to prove it. He didn't break any major pieces of furniture like he did yesterday, so that is a bonus. As was Ep and Jo's coming by to play with Mali and chat, and Jo's coming to dinner with me and Mali and Leelo.

Mali just woke up and is telling her dad that she wants to nurse. I think you're SOL until I arrive, little girl.


It Got Even Better!

It Got Even Better!

I sent off that last post shortly before taking Leelo and Mali to the airport to pick up Seymour.

Both kids fell asleep on the way home, but only Leelo made a succesful car-to-bed transfer. Mali's 10 PM nap tripped her reset button and she was up until 2:00 AM. She spent most of four hours nursing me dry. (Seymour took her for a bit so I could have the day's first break.) At 1:30 when I couldn't bear her latching or exhausted crying for one more moment without crying myself, I tossed her in the car and drove around until she nodded off.

Then Leelo got up at 6 AM. Since Seymour is saintly he took that one and I got to sleep in until 7:30.

Leelo seemed like himself this morning, so I felt okay about taking off for a very relaxing breakfast and forest stroll with Mary and her cuter-than-advertised kids. Leelo was again himself when I returned home--he even played well (for him) with Emily and Thomas.

As long as I can get a decent night's sleep tonight, I should be myself again in time to fly to Seattle Wednesday evening. I will say, however, that I will give a million billion dollars to anyone who wants to come help with Mali for an hour or two tomorrow morning so I can do trip-prepping.

Here is a picture of Leelo taken during a lull yesterday. I thought it was particularly important to have a record of how wonderful he can be even on his worst days:

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Thanks for all the words of support. It is embarrassing to expose myself as such a wreck, but if this is to be an accurate representation of life with our lovely Leelo, then such entries are necessary.


A Really Horrible Day with Leelo

A Really Horrible Day with Leelo

Leelo had three tantrums of unprecedented intensity today. He pulled out my hair, scratched me, and pinched me so hard that my arms are covered with bruises. He was absolutely hysterical. I've never seen him like this.

What did I do to earn such treatment? I tried to get him to use the bathroom, as I do and have done several times a day for over a year.

All I can think of is that his routine is all fucked up. Babysitter A has been on vacation, Seymour is gone, and Izzy is gone. My parents left this morning, so it's just been boring mommy and Mali, all day long.

He was so unpredictably violent that I cancelled going to the pool and having dinner with Ep and Clyde. I couldn't face the idea of him going ballistic in front of all the bathing Satanites or at someone else's house. Thankfully he did not lash out at Mali.

I spent the day in tears. I couldn't even talk on the phone without choking.

Off to the airport to pick up Seymour. I really hope Leelo is happy to see him, and will behave for Therapists L and Y tomorrow. Please cross your fingers for us.

People I Met at BlogHer

People I Met at BlogHer

(Sorry, I am a shit and never finished this post but it is 9/16 so I am posting as is.)

Suzanne of Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) and Other Rants.

Susie Bright (Well, okay--I stammered on up to her and asked for two of her Clits Up! buttons--one for me and one for a shy[er] friend).

Sara Ford, who was on the Community Assistance panel with our own dear Grace Davis. Sara took one of the best photos from BlogHer: SJ tossing Badger in the pool.

Jess of Drowning in Kids. If I'da known she was not only from the land of my forebears but also from my favorite island in addition to being shyly charming and witty, I would have cornered her and grilled her for hours until she agreed to be BFF.

Krisco from Crib Ceiling. Jenijen introduced us and if I'd had half a brain (and the Hyatt had had half the connectivity they'd promised) I'd have looked up her site right then so I could be awed in a timely rather than tardy manner.

Laurie Toby Edison and Debbie Notkin from Body Impolitic. Actually, I took their card. I'd had the pleasure of squealing at Debbie during the first Woolfcamp, and was stalking Laurie because I so love everything about her appearance and attitude. They are both fantastic role models.

Pam from Beancounters. She and my homie Jo already knew each other, and were kind enough not only to go out to dinner with me on Day One, but to trust me when I told them that the not entirely open-looking Vietnamese Karaoke bar in the barren office complex down the street would have scrumptious Pho. Which it did. Which is good, because I was gambling with my instincts at that point.

Leelo and his Mom on a Shitty Day

Leelo and his Mom on a Shitty Day

**I just found this one in the draft pile and am publishing it so that the bits won't get lost.**

I haven't been writing much about Leelo lately.

Sad about IEP. Need to call in AM.

But good:

Asking, "What's your name?"
Me: "My name is Mommy. What's your name?"
Leelo: "My name is Leelo."


Also being good at the dentist--not great, but incrementally better. He allowed the dentist to take brief looks in his mouth, and kept trying. She didn't really get to touch his teeth, but she was able to observe happy plaque colonies and give us advice on how to deal with them since he's apparently not letting us brush his teeth as thoroughly as is needed: put a small glob of fluoridated toohpaste on the tip of your finger, then run in all over the surfaces of his teeth. The latest research shows that this low level of fluoride will create a decent enough bond with the teeth's enamel to block out most cavity-forming bacteria.

Dr. A also said that she has faith that Leelo will improve and will eventually comply voluntarily. She has older patients like Leo who have gone through the same behavioral arc.

Eating beef! Well, Buffalo. Seymour minced it and mixed it up with his almond butter and he ate it! He has never ever ever ever ever ever ever eaten meat before!

Overall being very sweet. Asking for us, gentle hugs, kisses, head on shoulder while sitting on couch. Feeling happy with our boy.

So it is sad to hear that Supervisor M is skeptical of our upcoming IEP, and thinks things are being handled shoddily by the school district. I am such a dolt, I thought we were getting everything we wanted and that there was nothing else to discuss--that we would merely be confirming the items previously discussed. But she is an expert and has actually attended many IEPs whereas I have been to a grand total of two, each of which was more of a tea party than a serious meeting. She thinks we should bring an advocate. She thinks we need to spend more than just 60 minutes hashing out Leelo's support for the year. She gently reminded me that they SD needs to provide a concrete agenda, and concrete learning goals.

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Funnier Than Shit

Funnier Than Shit

You know what made The Aristocrats even more painfully, gut-bustingly funny than its own disgusting self? The fact that as I watched it, I knew that my dad had made my mom sit through the entire film because dammit, he had free tickets.

As long as we're being scatalogical, my thanks to SJ for telling me about the Flickr tag firsttubgirl. Asshole-san, I learn so much from you.

And as long as your senses are being assaulted, why don't you watch the Marimba Ponies as my mom made me do while she was here this weekend.

Thomas Is a Friend of Leelo's

Thomas Is a Friend of Leelo's

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Big sister Emily is a friend, too. Merely a more camera-shy friend.

Want your kids to be the coolest ones on the playground? Get them their own Leelo shirts! I will donate $10 for every photo posted to this set.

My thanks to Thomas's mom Mary Tsao for being so hep and generous.


Whole Lotta Transitions

Whole Lotta Transitions

Today is Leelo's last day of preschool. It is also the last day I'll do the daily drive to Deadwood Shores, because Leelo will be attending the local public Behavioral kindergarten in 17 days. Yes!!! I am relieved to have that extra forty minutes of round-tripping bumped out of our schedule. And I know my commute was a bunny hop compared to most of the parents there--some drive in from as far as SF.

Today is Iz's last day of camp. Local camp. Tomorrow she goes to Seattle for two weeks, including one week of *cough, hack, hurl* ballet camp with her cousin Leigh. Thankfully this is the last year she can go to this camp without having to do a qualifying dance.

Say what you will about the beauty and discipline of ballet--I think it is a life-long boot camp for body image mindfucking, and I do not want my daughter to be a part of it. She might be strong-minded enough to deflect the ongoing insults to her appearance, but I'm not willing to gamble her considerable self-esteem and confidence so that she can look pretty in a tutu.

Last night Seymour and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary with a dinner so delicious that my writing cannot do it justice: We had tripe and lobster knuckles and shoat and huckleberries, and were you there you would have cried over every bite.

Seymour defied my standing order against jewelry and presented me with the World's Most Beautiful Necklace. I presented him with some homemade coupons (I will leave you to imagine what he can redeem them for, but two contained the image of Will Riker) and ass-rattling music in the language of his bloodstream.

We looked out at the ocean and talked. I came away greatly reassured about life in general and this upcoming year in particular. He is so swoony and dreamy and wonderful.

And he's going to be away for most of the next two weeks.


Bad Moms Muthafuckas Coffee

Once again I have heard or read of people saying that they didn't feel comfortable asking to come to our weekly coffee gathering because 1) They are strangers and 2) They aren't parents.

Well, hell. If you read our blogs then you know more about us than most of our non-blogging IRL friends. And besides me yelling at Mali to not run into the parking lot, there was precious little parenting talk going on this morning. Besides, I didn't know Liz Ditz or Mary Tsao before they came to coffee; now I look forward to seeing them every week.

I think we should shorten the title to BM Coffee, for the snickering when we say it if nothing else.

A Sexier Blogroll

A Sexier Blogroll

Another overheard at BlogHer: Melissa Gira from Sacred Whore mentioned how frequently people tell her that they read her blog religiously, but "can't put her on their blogroll."

Well, there's not a damn reason I can't. Melissa is smart as hell and I look forward to visiting her site every day.



It has been a moody week. Our remodel hit another major roadblock ($ & time), and Leelo's IEP and school entry process suddenly turned from smooth to convoluted. The phone calls informing me of these two developments came within an hour of each other, on Monday morning while I was grumping about being at home with non-conversationalists Mali and Leelo (Therapist Y was vacationing), still moping about missing Badger's WoolfCamp, and trying to figure out why BlogHer spun my tail around so badly. Five bad moods for the price of one!

But there are few things as soporific as someone else's depression, unless they're a great writer or you're a great listener. So instead I'll relate a story about why scenarios like BlogHer freak me to the bone:

When a good friend of Seymour's got married eleven years ago, he asked my husband to be in the wedding party. I love Seymour and I liked his friends, so I was excited to go to another one of their gatherings.

However, upon arriving at the ceremony I realized that the groom didn't invite anyone I knew besides my partner, who would be sitting with the wedding party. I started to panic, but was able to keep my freaking under control by reassuring myself that the reception would of course have assigned seating.


I arrived at the reception (bustling, lovely, lively) to discover that seating was a free-for-all. My stomach started to roil, but I swallowed a few times, looked around, and spied a gentleman to whom I'd been introduced a couple of times. I didn't really like him, because he was a cocky dickface who liked to boast about living with a cage-free Burmese python. But he was my one Known in the room, so I summoned all my courage and asked him if I could sit at his table.

He said No. And not kindly, either.

I am not sure what happened after that, but I know I bolted. Somehow I ended up sobbing in the car by myself. Eventually Seymour came looking for me (fucking up his groomsman duties) and took me home.

The wedding could have gone differently. I could have asked Seymour to help me pair up with a friend of his before the reception. Or at the reception!

BlogHer had some whiffs of that wedding. Large groups of people, some structure, but mostly reliant on one's own networking abilities. Of which I have few. I spent the entire time either being the personal remora to accommodating friends, or being too paralyzed to approach anyone who might tell me "No."

BlogHer could have gone differently, too. I could have done some research beforehand as to what panels I really wanted to attend. I could have reached out beforehand or during to other bloggers I admire and asked to meet up with them so as to not have to worry about what table to sit at during unstructured intervals. I could have followed my instincts and gone to panels like Identity and Obligation (which apparently rocked) instead of MommyBlogging (legitimate, but WTF made me go? Most Mommies are squirmily uncomfortable about Leelo, and I am straightforwardly disinterested in typical or mainstream parenting).

Anyhow. I am tailspinning a bit, as previously mentioned. I intend to work it off tonight by celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary with my wonderful, patient spouse at a shmancy restaurant on the coast. Where we have reservations and I know exactly where and with whom I'll be sitting.


On BlogHer and Beauty

On BlogHer and Beauty

As I was skulking around the edges of BlogHer, hiding behind my book and iPod, I did a lot of observing. And mooning over all the women who were knock-me-on-my ass beautiful. But they weren't necessarily fashion mag or comic book stereotypes; in fact most of them weren't, because 99.5% of us aren't. What was their intangible, then? What was it that made me ache to be one of those compelling women?

A couple of days later, I figured it out. Every person I wanted to stalk had shitloads of genuine confidence--or had at least leased some for the conference. Yeow, baby. Must find out where I can buy some for myself.

I think this explains why I dislike obvious and abusively elective plastic surgery, because to me it represents either a lack or an erosion of confidence. But I don't think that chosen nips and tucks are necessarily evil, either. Two friends from high school had nose jobs done either before or shortly after their senior years--I am guessing because their generous noses were the first and sometimes the only thing people noticed about them. The surgery transformed more than their faces--both had huge surges in confidence afterwards. It was beautiful. They were beautiful.

The women at BlogHer were beautiful.

Grace Is a Friend of Leelo's

Grace Is a Friend of Leelo's

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Rock on, Grace! Thank you so much for helping our family support autism awareness and research.


Mali Milestone: Now Smarter Than a Dog. Almost.

Mali Milestone: Now Smarter Than a Dog. Almost.

Leelo's diet has never been well-rounded, and it has been a long time since we've tried to force the issue with anything other than dietary supplements sprinkled into his morning rice milk. He eats six items; grocery shopping for him is simple. I occasionally mix shredded carrots or dried blueberries into his pancakes, but for the most part trying to modify his diet is not worth the proportional effort.

We try harder for healthy feeding with the girls. Their dinner tonight was a ten-parenting-points combo of buckwheat noodles (complex carbs), seaweed salad (hardcore veggies with trace minerals), and edamame (protein). Those of you who are now fretting about their osteoporotic future will be both pleased and dismayed to know that this healthy feast was prefaced by ice cream (calcium).

Still, there are days in which Iz and Mali eat only toast, bananas, and cheerios, so I try to supplement their diet, too. Vitamins, specifically SuperNatural Bursty Rhino Vita-Gummies, have been a big hit. Apparently the word "Gummies," with all its attendant sugary promises, negates the stigma of its companion "Vita." Iz takes them willingly--she even asks for them.

I've had less luck with strawberry-flavored cod liver oil capsules, to my surprise--I observed how much Jenijen's kids like them, and so thought they might go over well with my girls.

Big mistake. Iz can read--both bottle labels and stories about awful English nannies forcing nasty cod liver oil on sad little English poppets--so she flat-out rejected the capsules.

I thought Mali might be more amenable. After all, she is illiterate, and the capsules look and smell like candy! I even told Mali that candy is what they were. But my lie was for naught--she put one in her mouth, made a face, spat it out, fixed me with one of her "whammy" looks, and hissed, "medicine!"

So, yeah, she's smart, and yeah again, I shouldn't try to deceive my kids. But in case you're thinking that Mali's such a smart damn cookie, I'll have you know that I just found her pilfering kibble from the cat's dish.

As Long As I'm Writing About Whacking Off

As Long As I'm Writing About Whacking Off

Susan Senator's reassuring book Making Peace with Autism covers autism, puberty, and masturbation in a straightforward and helpful manner. I recommend the book for many reasons, but diddling is the most topical one of late.