2007 is Going to RAWK!

2007 is Going to RAWK!

Dude, 2007 has to be better than 2006. Has to. Not for us, we've been cool. But for the world in general, the U.S. and panties-deficient celebrities specifically, and extra-specifically a bunch of my friends and my dad.

My resolution is to stop being such an asshole. In general; specifically to nice people who let me get away with it; and extra-specifically to my husband, kids, and family. Remember that you read my version of my life.

Wishing you the best for 2007, hoping that you've no reason to make resolutions. But if you are so inclined, I'd love to read about them because I really am the nosiest person in the blogosphere.

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I'll Never Need to Buy Wrapping Paper Again!

I'll Never Need to Buy Wrapping Paper Again!

I hate wrapping paper. While I appreciate the aesthetics of a beautifully wrapped gift, the paper itself is costly, ephemeral, and wasteful. I never buy it. If I do use it, it will be a salvaged piece from gifts past, and will be secured with ribbon rather than tape as taught by my good friend Ep.

I soured many a joyful Christmas present-opening by shrieking at people to please salvage their wrapping paper. This year I finally understood that most people just won't listen to a humorless ecohag at Christmastime. So I thought about the problem, and came up with a plan.

When Christmas morning arrived, I told all the cousins that I'd give them a quarter for every piece of wrapping paper they salvaged--theirs or anyone else's. Participation was totally voluntary. The good little capitalists launched a fierce competition and ended up making about five bucks each! I ended up with a box of wrapping paper worth much more than what I shelled out, and reduced our Xmas waste by 75%. We are keeping much more than we're throwing out. Yeah!

So we have a happy ending. No one hates me, and my green-leaning little heart is now satisfied--though after a week with my family and therefore no breaks for privacy whatsoever (hell for this introvert's batteries), it is still probably three sizes too small.

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Everybody Hurts

Everybody Hurts

Holidays suck for Leelo. We are trying to do our best to give him space and run him around, and everyone in my family is doing their best to help me mind him as Seymour is working the long hours, but Leelo is still getting very frustrated by having so many people around.

So far he has assaulted every single relative who has visited, with the exception of my brother Chet's four-year-old son Patrick (thank fucking god). He hit my niece Nicole so hard that she cried--and she is an eleven year old toughie. When I sat down with her to talk about it, she said that it was okay, that Leelo didn't know what he was doing. I told her that that's not entirely true, and it certainly isn't right for him to do it, or fair for her to suck it up. I said that he might not know that he is hurting her, but her certainly knows that he is getting a big reaction out of her--and loving it. We discussed techniques for avoiding him in general and for not making a fuss if possible if he does get her. But, dude, having to have that talk with her and her same-aged stepbrother Cole really sucks.

I am having a good time with my family but my heart hurts both for our guests and for Leelo. We are used to Leelo and his ways; I can't imagine what it's like to hang out with him if you're not used to him especially during his new aggressive phase. I am grateful that Leelo forgives us as soon as everyone leaves, and become his own mostly sweet self again, and I am grateful to everyone in my family yet again for being so understanding and helpful and tolerant--especially the kids. These are not the shitty self-centered asswipe pre-teens the media would have us shun.

Today we went to the Magic Mountain playground, which was wonderful fenced and probably the best playground I've ever been to and which wore him out for a while; tomorrow we are going to the jumpy place, which I've been told by a reliable source can wear kids like Leelo out in less than an hour. Fingers crossed.


Meanwhile I am trying to figure out what unforgivable deed I did to my SIL Bree to merit Mali's receiving this gift for Xmas.

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A Holiday Tune Just for Leelo

As requested by Patty, inspired by the special needs family Christmas carols currently percolating through the internet.

Let Me Stim, Let Me Stim, Let Me Stim

(To the tune of "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow")

Oh, the holidays are coming
And that means that I'll be bumming
Unless you can go out on a limb, and
Let me stim, let me stim, let me stim

It's my favorite way of coping
And it calms me so I'm hoping
You won't feel the need to look grim, just
Let me stim, let me stim, let me stim

When it's finally time for bed
Please don't make me give up my green straw
Or I might never go to sleep
And all of your nerves will be raw

I'm not hurting anybody
Though to you I might look nutty
Don't you folks have a tree to trim??
Let me stim, let me stim, let me stim!

-Squid Rosenberg

Merry Christmas from Leelo's house to yours.


Let it Stim, Let it Stim, Let it Stim

Let it Stim, Let it Stim, Let it Stim

These made me chuckle weakly, which is my current version of a gut-busting belly laugh:

Christmas Carols for Special Needs Kids

via About.com and several of my online eGroups.

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Holiday Generosity and Thanks

Holiday Generosity and Thanks

Leelo is sleeping in bed amidst a surfeit of straws, thanks to his friends Liz Ditz, Sage, Ep, and his godmother Hayley. He now gets new straws as quickly as he can ask for them, and couldn't be more content or pleased. I wonder if this had anything to do with his spontaneous and unaided use of the toilet yesterday. I hope that was a precedent!

Tonight we neither had to make the sumptuous dinner we ate nor clean up after it nor lift fingers in any way thanks to wonderful Ep's and Clyde's hosting not only us but my parents. Dude, Ep even made homemade pugliese bread. I would have wept in gratitude had I the energy--the combination of holiday overload, Seymour's new long hours, Mali and Leelo never sleeping before midnight, and all the kids' sicknesses have made me grumpy and tired and taxed. It was also very cool to watch Leelo and Merlin get really into playing chase with Merlin's dad Clyde.

Here is Leelo using the ramp that you interneteers bought for him and his buddies! Occupational Therapist K said most of her students love it as much as Leelo does. An additional, groveling-in-the-dust-on-my-belly thank you to everyone who helped out.

My friend Amy came over to babysit last night as she is still earning funds for her Sojourn Project trip. She is one of only 73 kids from Saint Matthew's County who will be participating--that is, if she can make good. Until yesterday she was too embarrassed to tell me that she still hasn't met her goal, though she has applied for financial aid to make up the difference. Crossed fingers and a sigh. She has until January 16th, so I am going to discreetly post one last small fundraiser to help her out, anything would be appreciated. Thanks. And apologies to Tamara O, Amy's generous donor who got left out of my last spazzy thank-you list.

This year I finally realized that I simply do not have the bandwidth or free time to do my usual 200+ holiday cards/newsletters/photos, and that it would not be a bad thing for my sanity or the environment to abandon such endeavors. Instead we've gone bloggy for the holidays, and were able to contact 80% of our holiday friends and family via email (or we will; I haven't finished emailing everyone and I refuse to do spam or impersonal form letters). I'm a much better--or at least more legible--correspondent via the keyboard than when wielding my mighty pen, anyhow. If anyone knows how you can track statistics in Vox, please let me know.

Warm Winter Wishes,


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Autism Families: Surviving the Holidays

Autism Families: Surviving the Holidays

Supervisor M put together this excellent set of guidelines for holiday sanity-retention, and gave me permission to share it:

Tips for Your Child:

Exercise: Arrange physical activity every day, multiple times each day for some children if possible. Get to the park, take hikes, go rock climbing, check local facilities for holiday schedules for swimming. This will help reduce anxiety and stress, lessen the intensity of ritualistic or stimulatory behaviors, and improve sleep.

Provide escape options: during large gatherings, other events that may be overstimulating, provide a quiet, less-stimulating place for your child to go to, to do some calming activities (stringing beads/popcorn, quiet music, etc). Your child may need to take breaks throughout the gathering- perhaps every ½ hour. Your child may need a familiar person to go with him/her to this place, and help him/her to participate in the calming activities.

Maintain routines: Try to find multiple times throughout the day when your child can participate in parts or all of familiar routines, regardless of the changes surrounding him/her. For example, your child may need to follow his/her usual morning routine (toileting, dressing, eating breakfast) prior to holiday events such as opening gifts. While it may be an inconvenience, maintaining regular routines will likely to help your child to participate more fully in the special activities of the day- probably outweighing the inconvenience.

Maintain diet: for children who have restricted food preferences or food allergies/sensitivities, have plenty of healthful preferred and routine foods; keep sweets to a reasonable limit, and restrict chocolate and other foods with caffeine.

Photos and stories of who and what to expect: Print out some photos of the people your child will see, and photos or icons of the activities that will occur, and the places you will go. There are different ways to use these: prior to the holidays, to talk about things in advance; on the day of the event as picture schedule cards- to let your child know what is happening now and later (e.g. “first…then”, or as a schedule with multiple pictures); as a social story, with text. You can put these together as a holiday book, or keep them on a ring, or Velcro them to a picture schedule board. Try taking more photos this year, to be used in the future, or in a memory book, to facilitate communication with you and others about the holidays.

Role play/video models in advance: practice some situations before the actual event: opening presents, trimming a tree, greetings and thank you’s, singing traditional songs, traveling by plane/train, staying in hotel, etc.


Tips for You:

Stay calm: Easier said than done. 20 seconds of deep breathing throughout the day is a good place to start. Alternatively, recite a poem:


I have always known
That at last I would
Take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that it would be today.

Japanese, Narihira

Or, more cynically:

I may live on until
I live for this time
In which I am so unhappy
And remember it fondly.

Japanese, Fujiwara No Kiyosuke

Get some exercise: This is as important for you as it is for your child. If nothing else, get out and take a short walk in the fresh air. Better yet, go for a swim, play racquetball, take a bike ride, try rock climbing (some places will let your child climb too…)

Get a babysitter: Be sure to go do something to remind yourself of the other wonderful parts of your identity- your relationship with your partner, your appreciation of the arts or fine cuisine, your athleticism, your passion for Bloomingdales… Do NOT spend this time on line checking autism links…

Lower your bar: temporarily lower your standards for non-essential tasks; ask yourself where there is room for mess, and let it go this week; let someone else load the dishwasher or fold the laundry.

Ask for support and help: It can be especially difficult to delegate responsibilities to others, especially if you are hosting, and if you are the parent of a child with very specific needs. Still, sharing responsibilities will reduce your own stress, and help you to be more effective in the jobs you are doing. Be clear and specific in your requests, and in your appreciation.

Don’t apologize: There are bound to be some negative comments about your child’s behavior; even your closest relatives may be surprised or overwhelmed to learn how children with autism may respond to such intense changes in routine as occur on the holidays. Try responding to a negative comment either by explaining your child’s experience of the event from his/her perspective. (See attached letter). Alternately, sometimes a deep breath is as good a response in a moment of tension.

You may want to try this approach, by drafting a letter with a similar approach to this one, specifically related to your own child. Or having your child draft their own.

The linked article appeared in the holiday 1999 issue of ASAP News! (Volume 3.5) The Autism Support and Advocacy Project, and Potential Unlimited Publishing.

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Jo Spanglemonkey vs The Hospital

Jo Spanglemonkey vs The Hospital

Ep and I went to see Jo today and brought her a big stack of comic books, which she said was about her current speed. Buffy, Finder: Talisman, Y: The Last Man, etc. She was nose-deep in Wonder Woman vs. Batman when we left.

Her dad had arrived from his blizzard-beating trek from Colorado moments before we got there. She seemed relieved to have him around. I was relieved to see him, he was giving her gentle grief and being very lively and cheery.

She is GRUMPY because she wants to eat and her doctor hasn't gotten back to her nurses with the go-ahead for anything non-popsickly, gelatinous, or brothy. She says she never wants to see any of those fucking food types again as long as she lives (which, thanks to the results from her surgery will be a LONG TIME). I am going to call her tomorrow morning and see if she's gotten the green light for solids, at which time we will sneak in some chilaquiles from The Cafe.

The hospital has wireless in the lobby but not in the patients' rooms. So, she doesn't see the point in having her computer and is staying in the pen-and-paper analog world for now.

She does seem good, vicodin'd up though she is. Lovely Jo.

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A Solar Home vs. the Fire Department

A Solar Home vs. the Fire Department

This is the model of the home we're hoping to build this year, once we've finished playing whack-a-mole with the fine folks down at the county. The video, created by our architects at A r k i n T i l t at the PGyE Heliodon, demonstrates what kind of sunlight we'll have in our yard over the course of a typical Spring equinox day. This helps them fine-tune our rooftop solar hot water and electricity arrays, as well as the passive lighting and heating/cooling inside the house.

We thought we were getting close to contsruction-land, or at least design-review-land. The latter is the public meeting at which some more fine folks from the county get together and tell us that they don't like our eco- and neighbor-friendly house design and that we need to revise it to incorporate stacked slate rock facing, wooden shingly exterior siding, and those fucking copper pyramid fence post toppers.

This morning I had what we imagined was my one last meeting with the local CDF (county fire) folks to get their sign-off on the project. But then, lo! Look what he had to say via my meeting notes, below! It may be months, yet again, before we get to go for design review. This would be more irritating if I wasn't so overwhelmed that I currently care about very little beyond Jo's health and whether or not my kids remember to wear shoes when they go to school each morning.

Hi, Architects who thought we were submitting our final docs for design review tomorrow! Here are some Notes From On-Site Meeting With CS, Fire Dept Guy!

The good news is that CS thinks our project should be a "slam dunk." He doesn't see any problems with it, provided we follow his suggested guidelines. He ran the project by his boss as well, who agrees that the project is very doable from their perspective.

The bad news is that we need to modify our plans to include an extension of the hydrant line, and a new hydrant within our property, as our house is more than 250 ft (~350 ft) from the nearest hydrant. We also need to widen the bottom half of the driveway to 12'. We can't go for design review until our plans have been both modified accordingly and then reviewed and approved by either CS or his boss, both of whom are quite backlogged with the retirement of the Sexist Bastard/FIre Marshall and the acquiring of another district to manage. Expect delays, he said.

Here are the specifics:

-We need to extend the hydrant line, as with the current distance and in the case of a fire only one truck will be able to assist us--and because of the distance limitations, it will be stuck in the driveway, blocking any other emergency vehicles. This is rather chilling news for those of us who actually live in this house.

-He recommended that we remove the pillars flanking the driveway halfway up and place a hydrant there. We'll need to contact CS or his boss for specific hydrant requirements/dimensions.

-If we extend the hydrant line, then there will be no problem having a 12' wide driveway instead of a 20' one. The 20' requirements are so that trucks can pass each other in the driveway. The hydrant extension will "mitigate the driveway width requirements."

-We need to widen the lower half of the driveway to 12'. Right now it is 10' 6" at the pillars. Shouldn't be an engineering problem on the northern neighbor's side, but we'll need to check the survey to determine exact property lines.

-Apparently the Will Serve letter I extracted from Deadwood City Water only guarantees meter service, not water service. Once we've planned for the hydrant extension, I'll need to get another letter from Deadwood City Water guaranteeing not only meter service but water delivery. However this means we won't need to arrange the separate meeting with CDF and Deadwood City Water to determine hydrant flow, so we'll save $171 there...

-Please make sure the parking spaces are removed from the fire truck turnaround.

-Fire resistant siding is highly recommended in this high-risk fire area, especially as our house's location is in the path of least resistance should a firestorm erupt in WoodEdge Preserve. If our planned siding is fire resistant then we should indicate that.

Please call or write if you have any additional questions.

Ho ho oh bloody hell,


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Chasing Leelo

Chasing Leelo

Yeah, those autistic kids--no eye contact, no interaction, no joy, no laughter. Pshaw! Look at what a great time we're having, and specifically how gleefully happy Leelo is. (Sorry about the low video quality.)

Here he is stopping briefly to flash me a dazzling smile with full eye contact. Handsome boy!

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

I just love figuring out what makes Leelo happy, especially when it's something we can participate in.

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Jo Spanglemonkey Out of Surgery, Nothing Malignant

Jo Spanglemonkey Out of Surgery, Nothing Malignant

Manny just called and said that all is well and that they found nothing worrisome. Thank fucking everything worth thanking.


Poop Croup a Doop

Poop Croup a Doop

Last night Leelo was up past 12:30AM, including a bath-caliber shitstorm. I'd had a long day and so spent the next hour decompressing via volume 5 of Y: The Last Man. Mali then woke up at 2:30 AM with croup so intense and breathing so labored that the on-call nurse had me take her to the ER immediately.

And you know what? We're all just fine. I have a partner with whom to share the child-rearing drudge work. Last night's exertions meant that Leelo went to sleep earlier tonight (10:30). We live five minutes from a pleasant suburban ER where Mali was the only patient, the staff was cheerful and kind, and the treatment was immediate and eventually effective. There were a couple of nasty hours at the ER when Mali's symptoms just wouldn't abate, but then at 5:30 AM she sat bolt upright up and babbled like a stand-up comic about her dad's possible locations, doing spot-on Noo-Noo imitations, and accusing the ER doctor of not being her pal Dr. M (true enough). We were discharged less than an hour later.

Tonight Jo and Badger came over for dinner and we had a mellow, pleasant evening. We talked about Jo's impending procedure, and I hope I was supportive even in my combined state of awareness and deep denial. During dinner my mother-in-law called to let me know that a state of emergency has been declared for her entire Island (that would be Mercer) due to the recent windstorm. They've had no phones or power for days. Another day, another shitbomb lobbed at people I love.

I've got context coming out of my bottom. Yup. I'm just fine.

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I am moving this post on top of the brain dump below for better visibility.

NAAR (the National Alliance for Autism Research), merged with Autism Speaks a while back. It was a disappointing move.

I approved of NAAR's research-heavy approach into determining the causes of autism and mapping the autistic brain. I am not a fan of Autism Speaks, or their campaign of negativity and fear and "getting back our stolen children," when in fact my son is snoring gently in the next room. While I do agree with their message that autism can be really fucking hard for both autistics and their families, I resent their message that people like my wonderfully silly and affectionate son are nothing but a burden or a puzzle. Also, they do not seem to have any awareness of crackly-smart, content autistics who aren't looking for a cure.

I am looking for a new autism organization to which I can donate the funds from the Friends of Leelo t-shirts and gear. My ideal agency, which I've not yet found, will combine a positive attitude with autism advocacy, support, education, research, and awareness. I would be grateful for any recommendations.

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Listing the Last Few Weeks

Listing the Last Few Weeks

Each and every sentence below deserves its own thoughtful entry. However I am slapped for time and memorable memories are sliding out of the back of my brain and it's just going to have to be shorthand. Welcome to the perfunctory side of my personal journal.

Iz spent today sleeping and then barfing, so I didn't get to go to today's Special Ed PTA-district Special Ed director meeting with Ep, Sage, and co.

Leelo and Iz have started playing together for real, with Iz giving her brother "rides" on her back. It is very cute. Mali trucks around after them like the neglected puppy that she is.

What is not so great is that Iz has entered a phase of really wanting everyone's approval, and it is manifesting in troublesome ways such as thinking that we don't want her to defend herself from Leelo's occasional attacks. I told her that she is absolutely not to let him think that hitting and scratching and hair pulling are okay, but that she has to tell him so in a regular firm voice and with language that he understands. Before she was shrieking and yowling, a reaction that Leelo loved. I am worried that she's taking on characteristics of a typical special needs sibling who tries to be too nice, and too good.

But she's still Iz. Witness the magenta hair below, which was selected after hours of perusing the Amphigory website on SJ's recommendation. Magenta! At least four of her friends and one cousin are begging to follow suit.

She is an awesome, awesome kid. Right now she is reading The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time. Her teachers find her both exhilarating and exasperating. They said that she is one of the most interesting kids they've ever had, and that they're never bored. She begged me to make her shirts that say, "I didn't do nothing," and when I pointed out the bad grammar, shot back that it was intentionally so because it was actually copping to any acts it appeared to deny. She won first place in a poetry slam at her school, and that was out of kids through 5th grade. She still believes in Santa. She wants me to further explain the Republican conspiracy that robbed Jimmy Carter of a second term in office. She is alternately clingy and hateful. She wants a stupid fucking digi-makeover thing for Xmas. She is far more sheltered than I was at age seven.

Leelo is in an odd space, yet again. He is snuggly and so fun, we are having a great time singing with arm movements, chasing each other around the house, doing a lot of truly engaged physical and verbal play. But he can still snap and change at any time and beat the bejesus out of the nearest person. Every time he nears Mali she flinches or ducks. I am considering setting up a pool as to when he is going to accidentally break my nose. He loves kisses and massages and asks for back scratches, a lot.

I think his medication might be on the wane, in terms of effectiveness. He is having a really hard time latching himself into his car seat, which he was doing with alarcrity just a few weeks ago. He is having a hard time focusing enough to put on his shoes. He has had two pee accidents at school during the last two weeks, after several weeks with no accidents whatsoever. Perhaps it's just our usual shitty Leelo winter behavior that cycles through every year.

I am going to try to mediate just how fucking crazy he will be during Xmas by scheduling our week tightly, and rearranging the house so that Leelo has a space of his own to retreat to. Did I mention that my entire family (minus one brother) is coming to my house for Xmas? It would be fine if our house was larger. I am worried that Leelo will be overstimulated and miserable, and will act out.

I haven't done much Xmas shopping or communications, yet. I've done some organizing. I have almost 200 good friends and families to connect with, so I guess I'd best get cooking.

Anyhow. More good Leelo stuff. We had a family day two weeks ago where we went to the ever-so-excellent Fungus Fair at the Oakland Museum (a worthy place to visit, especially when their annual, incredible, Dia de los Muertos exhibit is on). We took BART (the subway/train) and Leelo just absolutely loved it. The picture below doesn't do his excitement justice at all:

Also we just got the school district approval to pay for both Supervisor M and Therapist L. Those of you who've done the IEP circuit don't need to rub your eyes or smack the side of your heads, you read that correctly. The school district is paying for all of Leelo's home program. He also has a full-time aide at school. We are very fortunate. I still find it hard to believe our sweet Leelo is such a challenging kid that he gets all these services without question. But services are good, the people who are giving them are good, we got to keep our own program, good good good. I still find it more than odd to have regular meetings with between three and thirteen people to talk about my six-year-old son.

Mali Mali Mali. Well, she started at Iron Gate two weeks ago, which means I started, too. I'd forgotten what a privilege it is to wipe shit off other peoples' kids' bottoms. She is having some separation anxiety, but is seems to decrease geometrically each school day.

Mali had a great birthday party on 11/26. She blew out her own candle and was so pleased with the roars and applause afterwards. The party itself got rained on which meant everyone and their kids were inside our small home which made for a bit of close-quarters insanity, but overall I think it was fun. None of our three kids' fall/winter birthdays have every been rained out before, so we were due. (FYI, people from elsewhere, California's climate is one of cold-weather rain. We get no rain during the summer.)

Leelo had his own spectacular birthday that I still haven't written about until now. We had it at a gym whose multi-story and totally enclosed play structure couldn't have been better designed for autistic children. (With twenty young partygoers, though, it was overwhelming for some of Leelo's eight friends on or near the spectrum.) The best parts for me were hearing Leelo's normally shy friends whooping and giggling like any other kid at a party, watching how excited Leelo got when everyone sang him happy birthday--twice, and Ep's Dust Bunny cupcakes that she made to go with my Totoro cake.

That's about it for now. My brain has been downloaded and now I can focus on positioning Iz's barf bowl correctly, and whether or not I should make mix CDs as holiday gifts this year. Regardless, I am going to be Frantic Girl for the remainder of the weekend.

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The Last Straw

The Last Straw

All Leelo wants right now is a straw. And then another straw. And then he'll remember that straw he had yesterday and which he fidgeted with and twisted and chewed on all day and which somehow survived--thereby proving that it was THE BEST STRAW. And then he'll remember that THE BEST STRAW got subjected to the critical test for all things beloved by Leelo: object permanence. If he throws THE BEST STRAW behind the washer or under the deck, will it really be gone? Yes, it will! Please stand by for All Hell Breaking Loose.

People have asked what they should get Leelo for Xmas, and I have replied in all sincerity that he'd be happiest with a box of nice strong straws--and please don't bother with those flimsy crappy clear ones that don't give nearly enough sensory feedback. A box of straws would be a vicarious gift for me, too, as I wouldn't mind a reprieve from my current role as the local restaurants' Straw Beggar and Thief.

The straws at Tuesday Night Sushi are no longer sufficient for our boy. He spends most of our meal agitating for the "pink straw pink straw pink straw!" available at the Sushi-adjacent ice cream store, but I have taken advantage enough of that shop owner's good nature and won't go in unless we're buying something. The CalTrain that runs outside the restaurant window used to keep Leelo engaged, but no longer--his interests and sensory needs are changing. Sushi no longer has anything to offer Leelo--plus it is too loud and overwhelming for him--so Jo and I have decided to relocate our Tuesday night dinners to Sewerage (Indian). Changing locations also means I won't need to relive Leelo's bolting out of the restaurant and into oncoming traffic right each time I look out the window--Sewerage has no windows. Most importantly, Leelo likes Sewerage and he knows that he'll get bottomless baskets of naan there.

Of course, now that Jo is waiting to find out just how serious her condition is, Tuesdays will be on hold for a while anyhow. I just can't believe that Jo is sick on top of everything else in her life. So many dear people I know, including my Dad, are so very sick or in such fucked-up situations at the moment. I keep thinking each shitbomb will be the last straw, but apparently the Powers-that-Be shop at Costco and have a box of straws the likes of which Leelo can only dream.

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Think Good Thoughts for Jo or I'll Kick Your Ass

Think Good Thoughts for Jo or I'll Kick Your Ass

Our beloved Jo Spanglemonkey has had a world-class shitter of a year, and it just got worse. Please think good, strong, healthy thoughts for her.

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Come Here, Big Guy

Come Here, Big Guy

I'd like to dedicate this entry to one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Mr. Joshua Norton. I think someone needs a hug.


Two, Too

Two, Too

Everything in Mali's world is now "too." Don't announce anything you're doing, or she'll horn in on the proceedings:

"Mama, I'm hungry, too! I want goldfish too!"
"Mama, I want to get out of the car, too!"
"Mama, I want to go see Lata and Trinian*, too!" (*neighbors)

I think we can probably work this phase to our advantage, if we can remember to talk about cleaning toilet bowls or the litter box within her earshot.

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You May Find Mali in a Box on Your Doorstep

You May Find Mali in a Box on Your Doorstep

As cute as my little bugger is, she is five chunky, clunky, bouncy little steps away from being put in a basket and hung from the tallest tree in our yard. I can't take the no-sleepy for much longer, even with Seymour and me trading off nights coaxing Mali to sleep. Even though the last thing she says as she snuggles into my shoulder after 30+ minutes of flailing in the dark next to me is, "Mommy loves me." Even though she's this darling:

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

It has been six years since I've dealt with a typical two-year-old, and four years since Leelo turned two--but since Leelo is really only now showing features of this gleefully defiant, not quite articulate stage, I'm already very much over thinking tantrums are amusing. I will try to be chipper and avoid being too flinty with her, and will hope that she continues to entertain me. She'd better keep doing shit like this:

(Going on the Freeway, without being told where we're going, and being correct)
"Mama! We're going to see Dr. M, Mama!"

(As the Dr. appointment is ending, unprompted, and to Dr. M's delight)
"Bye bye, Dr. M! See you later"

(After being left out of too many sessions of Iz's hide-and-seek game, even though hyper-observant Mali is better at finding hiders than her non-observant sister)
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ... 15 ... I'm counting! Ready or not, here I come!"

And I've forgotten a bunch more but you get the picture. Today she even announced, "I'm tired, Mama," which hopefully means she's getting a greater sense of her sleep needs. Hopefully those needs will start meshing better with those of her loving but very tired parents.

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Too Grumpy for Iron Gate

Too Grumpy for Iron Gate

Tomorrow night is the annual Iron Gate silent auction, the primary fundraiser for Mali's co-op nursery school. All IG families are encouraged to donate something, so I'm offering up two items: a cheese platter with knives and wine delivered to the winner's door, and a custom-made coloring book like the one I made for Leelo's birthday (including 20 copies). Hopefully no one will bid on either of my items. I have priced them stratospherically, just to see if the auction fairies will grant my wish to FLAKE OUT.

I wouldn't mind flaking on tonight's three-hour setup session (mandatory), either. My life of late is exhausting me (grumpy, hitty Leelo who doesn't sleep, no-sleepy-as-well Mali) and I won't really be able to fake the enthusiasm required to decorate shit festively. I am thinking of reaching into the very bottom of my bag of tricks and pretending to be sick while I'm at the set up "party" and then making myself barf in the toilet. Like many a SoCal refugee, I have dabbled in eating disorders--and while I haven't used the vomit ticket in years, I'm sure it's like riding an ipecac-coated bicycle.

As you may be able to tell, I am desperate to get out of tonight and tomorrow nights' gigs. This will most assuredly be our family's last year at Iron Gate. Once I've experienced what one year at a co-op with a typical kid is like, I'll know all I need to know and will give notice. Mali can go to Teacher Anarchy's school next year, and I will redirect all that Iron Gate energy to working with my ass-kicking friends on setting up a local Special Ed PTA to help support our kids as well as other local SpEd families. We've already nominated Sage as president!

Addendum: Please note that I do not actually flake on commitments. What I need to do is sign up for fewer things in the first place. Perhaps I can carry a large hammer in my pack so as to threaten myself with pseudo-trepanation each time I think, "Surely I can squeeze in one more task set..."

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Two Ways to Redefine "Normal"

Two Ways to Redefine "Normal"

Of course, the one day I miss Angry Black Bitch, she writes a post on living with autism that anyone with any connection to the condition needs to read*. Redefine your normal. Yes indeed.

And I have to point out that Gwendomama also recently wrote on redefining reality. Go get a hankie first. I have been in a daze every since reading her beautifully written entry, thinking about her, and her all-consuming, all-powerful mother love.

*Tip of the hat to Badger, information aggregatrix supreme.

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The Purging of the Petty

Purging the Pettiness

The little things, they don't bug me like they used to. People who are late for non-critical meetups? Whatever, I always have a book or screaming child with which to amuse myself until they arrive. Misunderstandings? My episodes of sputtering rationalizations and excuses are fewer--I'm tired and would rather apologize and move on.

Forget to cite me? Fuck you; we're done. My discoveries are limited and precious, and when they are passed off as someone else's find--no matter the intention or the enthusiasm--it really stings. I wish I wasn't so petty, and that I craved no social currency other than my sparkling self. I'm working on it. For now I merely wish that people would remember to say where that cool link, or book, or doohickey that was dropped down the back of their drawers came from.

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Thursday Treacle

Thursday Treacle

Look, I can't ever really be sincere. If I ever even approach being so, then one of my brothers will find out about it and give me endless shit. Sincerity equals vulnerability, so self-expression both requires careful phrasing and mandates jovial self-deprecation.

This means today's post is skittering over some thin ice indeed. It is my attempt at some happy top-shelf Hallmark hooch--to remind myself that even though the last two weeks have been shockingly shitful, I have many reasons to be grateful:
  • Jenijen, Kris R., and Amy F. Your contributions to (the other) Amy's Sojourn Project fund helped me raise more than $900. And it was okay not to hit the mark as I got to contribute a small amount.
  • Having a kid like Iz, who writes signs like the one below and posts them on her door. Such a wonderful little geeklet. Today she demanded to know why she can't read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, because after all I did say that it was a great read. (Not to her, though. She was eavesdropping.)
  • Leelo's continued progress despite something seriously tweaked going on in his his brain or body. Today he looked at a burned-out bulb and declared, "The light is broken!" That is a new expression. That it was followed by five frantic minutes of, "Fix the light! Fix the light!" was also okay, as we happened to have replacement bulbs onsite, and the latter is also is a new expression.
  • Mali's suddenly and with great sass becoming truly conversational:
  • "Mama, what do you think?"
  • "I think you are very cute but that you should go to bed.
  • "NO."
  • Seymour of course. I want him to take some sort of break soon, though.
  • I only cried once today! That was after Leelo ran out in front of a moving car for the second time in less than 24 hours.
I don't even know why I'm posting this really, drier than ship's biscuit as it is. Perhaps I'm just even more tired than you are of all the beseeching posts of late that have little to do with me or my family. I want to get back to what this space is supposed to sport.

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Social Activist Fundraising: Almost There

Social Activist Fundraising: Last Day!

If you're going to help my friend Amy participate in the Sojourn Project, please do so today.

Dropcash campaign page. My gratitude, it is all yours.

Yay, recent contributors!:

Minnie, TLF, Gwendomama, Shara

We Encourage Diversity!

We Encourage Diversity!

I wonder if anyone at last night's Iron Gate parent ed meeting witnessed my face going completely WTF.

I had little enough patience for their "respect your child and get on your child's level" chat after a day in which my main parenting concern was preventing Leelo from seriously injuring his sisters and himself (aww, the boy's first drop-and-bolt into oncoming traffic!), but really lost control of any facade when another parent made a blatantly and most likely ignorantly hostile statement about another, new mom (A.), who wasn't present.

The issue is that A.'s son doesn't speak English yet, so A. has been staying with him in his brand new all-freeplay class and talking to him the entire time in both English and a language which is Not English (which language, it doesn't matter). I am guessing that, like so many other parents of first-born two-year-old children, A. is doing her best to help him transition to a new environment, and away from her.

I have always thought that what we say to our own children is our own business, even if other people are nearby. But apparently the ignorantly hostile mom doesn't agree, to the extent that she was comfortable telling a group of parents (including other families whose primary language is not English) that she "felt very uncomfortable around A. and thinks she should translate what she is saying to her son."

I told the ignorantly hostile mom that if she wanted to know what A. was saying, she could ask her. But the rest of the class didn't say anything, except G.--also a non-primarily-English-speaking mom--who apologized to the class for not speaking in English to her son around them! GAAAAAH!

If the offending mom had been two years old we would have told her that there was a nicer way to express her feelings. I am worried that the class is not being very welcoming to A.'s family. I have written to both G. (to tell her that her apology was not necessary) and to the teacher to express my concerns, do-gooder liberal fuckface muckracker that I am.

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"But You Always Seem So Upbeat!"

"But You Always Seem So Upbeat!"

Yesterday was a grueling, nasty, and brutal Leelo day. Today I'm both grateful and stressed that my son has gone off to school, am nursing a bit of PTSD after yesterday's non-stop cavalcade of punches and kicks, and am also worrying what will happen if Leelo continues to go through aggressive pushing and hitting phases as he gets bigger and stronger.

No, I'm not fucking upbeat* today.

*Thanks to mb for the article link.


Social Activist Fundraising: Almost There

Social Activist Fundraising: Almost There

If you were the kid whose parents forced you to go on educational trips whose value you only now recognize, or the kid who really wanted to go on those trips but whose parents couldn't afford it, then you get what a cool thing it will be if we can help my hard working teenage friend Amy participate in The Sojourn Project.

So far, both online and IRL the fund stands at $650, which is mind-boggling and incredible. It would be so lovely if we could raise another $250. If you can carve out any portion of your holiday gifting--no matter the amount--and redirect it her way, you will have done a very good deed indeed.

Here's the Dropcash campaign page. Go go go!

Grateful backflips to those who've contributed most recently:

Suzanne, Erin, Rebecca, Sara Z., Susan, Mark, Alexandra, and Kimberly N.

Bubbles Is a Friend of Leelo's!

Bubbles Is a Friend of Leelo's!

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

Yay Bubbles! Friends of Leelo's know how to have a good time. No surprise here, as Bubbles's mom is Gwendomama, one of the most delightful people around. (She is also a witty and compelling writer.)

Thanks Bubbles and Gwendomama! That's another $10 for autism research!

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What a Black Thong on a Pasty White Butt Looks Like

What a Black Thong on a Pasty White Butt Looks Like

I do not wear thong-style drawers because they I like the way they look. I wear them because they are comfortable, and because--once pants go on top--they avoid making my butt look like it got embossed with underwear.

I have yet to explain this to Mali, however. She was with me while I was changing into my sleepwear, spied my thong-adorned behind from, well, behind, and declared, "Mommy's got poo-poo!"


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Want to Help Groom the Next Generation of Social Activists? Part Deux

Want to Help Groom the Next Generation of Social Activists? Part Deux

Internetters, I love you so much! Almost $200 in less than twelve hours! Amy will be astounded.

Full disclosure: I told Amy that I would try to raise $1000 total for her Sojourn Project trip, but didn't want to be greedy on this blog since I recently asked for so much. I have had some very generous donations from my church, but not enough of them.

So what the hell. I'm trying for another $400 by December 6th. If we make it, fantastico. If not, Amy will be doing a few less backflips. As Badger mentioned in the comments, Amy has been working like an adult since she was thirteen and really deserves this trip.

New Dropcash Campaign Page Here.

And a truly big hunk of gratitude to those who have donated so far:

Badger, Maryellen, Rachel, Sara, M B, Julie M., Diana, and Bharathi.

Want to Help Groom the Next Generation of Social Activists?

Want to Help Groom the Next Generation of Social Activists?

I am trying to raise money again. Last time, I swear!

I am trying to raise $200 by December 6th for Amy, a sixteen-year-old friend of mine whose hard-working family isn't able to afford to underwrite her dream of participating in The Sojourn Project's ten-day journey retracing the American civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's.

Amy is an amazing young woman who will truly appreciate this opportunity. If you donate ten or more dollars and send me your address, I'll send you a Mix CD or a Leelo or Mali book or some stickers from Ghana or Japan...

This is the letter that went out to my local Unitarian congregation:
Like many of you, our family has decided to focus on the kind of holiday giving that makes a real difference. If you feel the same way, then consider the following opportunity:

My friend Amy Sandia is sixteen years old, and is a junior at Deadwood High School. She "has a dream," which is to go on a ten-day Sojourn Project journey (www.sojournproject.com) that will retrace the steps of the American civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's. I can only hope that my own children will show such a fierce interest in history and humanity when they reach her age.

Amy is a wonderful girl, from a wonderful family, but unfortunately her family cannot afford to pay for all of the trip's expenses. Amy has been doing quite a lot of fundraising, but has not yet reached her goal. The payment deadline of December 7th is looming.

If you are looking for a way to make a concrete difference in a local life--and to help groom the next generation of social activists--then please consider making a donation towards Amy's trip. It will make a lovely holiday gift in the name of your favorite historically savvy liberal.

Thank you,

Squid Rosenberg

I have set up a DropCash campaign page, yet again. Thanks everyone.


New DropCash campaign page! The first one filled up almost instantly. Fuckin' A, you people are cool.

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Help TLF, Seattleites, You're Her Only Hope

Help TLF, Seattleites, You're Her Only Hope

Turns out TLF and Floyd are relocating. To the general Seattle area, to be specific. To, erm, Auburn, to be even more specific, as that is where Floyd got coddled and cajoled into taking a new job. I am thinking that an urban-leaning couple like those two should consider living in town rather than in the 'burbs. Here are my reasons:

  • Auburn is the same distance from Seattle as Deadwood City is from San Francisco. Seymour does that commute every day. And Seattle to Auburn is a reverse commute.

  • Seattle is a much more livable city than overcrowded, no-parking SF. Excepting the downtown core, Seattleites often live in detached houses near walkable neighborhoods.

  • When we go to Seattle, we don't visit people who live far away. By "far away" I mean I haven't seen two very good friends since they moved to Sammamish and Newburg, respectively.

  • Mercer Island and Bellevue might be closer but they are dull. Last time we stayed with my in-laws on Mercer Island, the big deal in town was the opening of a Pho restaurant. They're still getting used to Thai food, those wacky Islanders.

  • Kirkland might be okay. I heard that there are lots of hippies there.

Anyhow, I would appreciate it if those in the know could chime in with reasons why my friends cannot live in fucking Auburn. And perhaps where might be a good place for a hip couple (well, TLF's hip, anyhow) with a new baby, hard core (bi)cycling needs, and a commute to Auburn to dwell.

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Autism and Supplements: When to Say, "Fuck it"

I am on a local autism biomedical/DAN email list because even though Leelo is mostly off those protocols, I still learn a lot from the other parents on the list. Many fierce and fabulous minds write in, frequently.

And then there's me! I recently sent this message out, in response to a parent who was getting overwhelmed by her child's supplement regimen. I hope they don't kick me off the list:

Any decision regarding supplements can be brutal, at least in my experience, because there are so many possible factors that can affect our children's behavior. As careful and methodical as my partner and I tried to be, we were rarely certain when changes in our son's behavior were due to changes in his supplement regimen.

Having written that, it has been 3.5 years since we started a biomed/DAN protocol and we have cut back quite a bit after several trials of what had noticeable effects and what did not. Our son now takes only an autism-specific mega vitamin, probiotics, calcium, and cod liver oil. Probably only the first one qualifies as biomed/DAN due to its high B6/magnesium content. Probiotics help him not get sick so much, calcium is because his limited diet is practically vegan, and cod liver oil is because he's dual diagnosis autism/ADHD. I would like to get glutathione cream and B12 shots back in rotation, but right now they get him too agitated.

We also stopped vaccinating him and maintain a mostly-organic home and diet. He is no longer GFCF either, but then he was never really a candidate according to our DAN doctor's tests. We tried the diet for a year anyhow because there's no harm in doing so.

Another thing that has been helpful is appreciating my son as he is now rather than who he could or might be. I will still fight like hell for him and will investigate every new theory about helping him develop better communication and social skills, but I no longer think that recovery is a realistic goal for him, and that's okay. He's a great kid. Everyone else, continue the fight!

Finally, it is important for you to take care of yourself, so that you can be/even though you are an autism parent. It takes enormous resources and it sounds like yours are being stretched thin. I hope that this list provides you with some of the support you need, but also hope that you are getting breaks in real life (i.e., respite).

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Two: The Age of Turn Your Back on Me at Your Peril

Two: The Age of "Turn Your Back on Me at Your Peril"

Mali earned her Warning: I Am Two t-shirt less than 24 hours after reaching the 24 month milestone. While I was helping Leelo with his toilette, she silently emptied half of her bathwater onto the bathroom floor. Iz and I filled Mali's bath back up and then looked away from our not-baby for a moment; when our heads swiveled back we found Mali proffering two huge turd sections to us, one in each hand. Aiiigh.

In other news, we are all sick. Me so much so and with such a sore throat that I didn't sleep the night before Mali's birthday party--every time I swallowed, the pain woke me up. Thank heavens for good friends like Ep, who came over with one hour's notice to help make all the party food since I didn't want to be Typhoid Mary, and for good husbands like Seymour, who did all the rest of the party prep and cleanup despite not feeling so well himself. I am also grateful to Babysitter A (whom Iz thinks we should rename CoffeeHawk) for looking after an ill and obstinate Leelo during the party even though she also felt like shit.

--And I am going to fucking VAPORISE Ecto if it doesn't start letting me post. I've been trying to post this entry since 10 this morning.

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Mali Will Be TWO Tomorrow (11.26.06)

Mali Will Be TWO Tomorrow (11.26.06)

Originally uploaded by Squid Rosenberg.

How that is even possible, no one will explain to me.


Two Ways to Make a Doctor's Jaw Drop

Two Ways to Make a Doctor's Jaw Drop

Wednesday was yearly checkup day for both Leelo and Mali. Their appointments were back-to-back because I figured a double dose of concentrated HELL was more tolerable than two round trips to that same inferno.

Leelo fretted and fussed, but was a good boy for Dr. M. He even opened his mouth for her ("lots of post-nasal drip") and allowed her to look in his ears. Both tasks were an impossibility even six months ago. Mali was slightly less compliant than her brother, but got poked and prodded to Dr. M's satisfaction even so. Results:

Leelo: 54 pounds (85th percentile) and 44 inches (30th percentile)

Mali: 25 pounds (40th percentile) and 32 inches (10th percentile)

Our children will be good candidates for soccer, speed skating, and surviving in Antarctica. Very compact and solid, low centers of gravity. Those Rosenberg genes are quite overbearing (not that I'm a willow myself).

At the end of the appointments, Dr. M asked me how Mali was doing cognitively and socially. I told the doctor that Mali's last MYND Institute developmental work up was a few days ago, and that they pronouced her a smart social cookie. The doctor asked me if Mali was starting to recognize any letters or shapes. I pointed at a poster and said, "Mali, what is that?"

Mali said, "That's a green 'S'."

Doctor jaw drop #1!

Meanwhile Leelo was still fairly agitated. He expressed his anxiety at being in The Place Where They Burn Off Plantar Warts by asking to go to the potty, several times. This is something he NEVER does, so his need to escape was pronounced. So much so that when we finally did exit the exam room, he bolted down the hall in search of said potty room. The only problem was he didn't remember which room contained the toilet, and so burst into someone else's exam--in progress.

Doctor jaw drop #2!

I offered profuse apologies to both doctor and patient, and skulked away. As skulkily as a backpack- and toddler-loaded woman dragging a flailing autistic six-year-old can, anyhow. And then we got Leelo some french fries, and he was happy. We gave some to Mali, and she was happy, too. And I was surprisingly okay. Three plus years of these hijinks have made me a more mellow person when it comes to public humiliation. I guess that's something I can be thankful for.

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Busy Being Busy

Busy Being Busy

Tuesday is our BUSY BUSY day. Seymour drives Leelo to school so that I can drive Iz and Marys to Big Noggin, which lies in the opposite direction.

Then I come home and put all the cram-energy I can summon into tidying the house, except this morning I had a meeting down at the district in which the SpEd department and I are still trying to figure out how to get Leelo's home program (i.e., Supervisor M and Therapist L) funded without a lawsuit. So the house isn't really clean yet and I had to take care of a number of Leelo meeting-related calls and email.

At 11:30 I pick up Leelo and he and Mali and I do our grocery shopping. Which today will consist of finding out how many russet potatoes we can cram into the grocery cart without burying Mali (she sits in the basket while Leo mans the seat).

12:30 is Speech Therapy with Sage.

1:00 is Leelo's home program with Therapist L.

1:45 is picking up Iz and Marys for early release day, with a possible donuts detour for poor Marys--she got the shit scared out of her this morning on our driveway as she walked over, when our neighbors' big friendly dog hopped the fence and wanted to play, not knowing that Marys has a large dog phobia. Her screams were what her announced her arrival, poor dear.

3:30 is when Therapist L leaves.

4:00 is Marroqui's arrival, at which time she will attempt to clean our home. The place will get put in order before then, somehow.

5:30 is Sushi Tuesday, with Jo and girls. Right? Seymour should be joining us at 6:30.

7:00 is an Iron Gate meeting. I think I might have worn out my laptop's welcome, and perhaps will palm a copy of Castle Waiting instead. Maybe I'll bring a flask, too.

10:00 All done!

P.S. I am hating Ecto right now (notice lack of tags). Almost every time I try to publish I get a "secure connection failed" error. Anyone else seen this happen?


Needed: Special Ed Lawyer To Kick Some Ass, Texas-Style

Needed: Special Ed Lawyer To Kick Some Ass, Texas-Style

Does anyone know a special ed lawyer who might be willing to take on a pro bono case in San Antonio, Texas?

My friend was already having a hell of a time with her school district and her two kids (one Asperger's, one PDD-NOS), and then her house burned down. They escaped with their lives but lost everything and are now living in a rental. Her kids are still in PTSD land, but for some reason the school officials are not cutting them any slack and are even being punitive towards them while also defying their IEPs. My friend is, understandably, beyond done with playing nicely--but she also can't afford to hire a legal advocate.

Please let me know if you know anyone who could possibly help: aba_help YAT yahoo DAWT com. Or contact her directly: divalea YAT gmail DAWT com.


An Autism Mom Who Should Have Known Better

An Autism Mom Who Should Have Known Better

That would be me.

I tried to take Leelo to Iz's Unitarian Rite of Passage ceremony today. I can't stand the thought of excluding my son from our family milestone events, plus I was feeling optimistic as our boy has been behaving so well lately. We have even been going to restaurants and parties with him again. I figured the importance of the event made it worth the gamble.

The ceremony was a lovely, slightly goofy Unitarian version of a first communion--minus the host and transubstantiation. The fifteen third and fourth-graders got to light candles and recite credos they had written themselves. Then we parents approached and placed a string of beads the kids had made around their necks--one bead for every of the seven UU principles (very rosary-like, though I doubt my Catholic mother would approve). Then the congregation congratulated the children on reaching their Age of Reason.

At least, that's what I heard happened. Leelo got increasingly agitated and vocal as the ceremony progressed, and--right before Iz's turn to recite--he hauled off and slugged me in the nose. Hard.

I scooped him up and ran down the hall to the bathroom, locked us in, and started sobbing. Not because of my throbbing nose, but because I was so angry with myself. It was selfish and stupid to put Leelo in that position. I should have asked Babysitter A to come with us to the ceremony, so that Leelo would have an out. I should have taken him out of the sanctuary as soon as he started getting upset. I should never had expected him to "calm down" just because we were at a special event.

Thankfully, Godfather M came down for the ceremony, and brought his brand new camera. Hopefully I'll get to see what it looked like when Seymour placed the beads around our daughter's neck, and the expression on her face as the entire congregation welcomed her.

While I wait for the photos to arrive, I will start fucking dealing with the fact that Leelo won't always be able to go everywhere with us. It's not his fault, nor is it mine. Nor is it fair.

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My Principles May Actually Cover My Ass

My Principles May Actually Cover My Ass

As promised, I tracked down my activist feminist Unitarian friend and asked her why she goes to Curves. She said:

  • The franchise owner is local and does not agree with the company founder's politics

  • The franchise owner pays a flat fee. The amount of money sent to the head office would not increase, were I to join.

  • The atmosphere is friendly and non-judgmental

Three good points. However DoubleTrouble gave me a free pass to her locally-owned woman-centric gym, and I might try it instead. I still don't feel right patronizing an establishment with ties--however convoluted--to the pro-life movement.

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Leelo Thanks the Blogsphere; in Particular Suzanne, Mary Beth, and Giddy

You did it! You tender-hearted and phenomenally generous denizens of the Blogosphere got Leelo and his local friends their scooter ramp, and you did it less than four days. I am so, so, so, so grateful for all your help, and will have no compunctions about shoving my Doc Martens-booted foot up the butt of the next person who makes a derogatory comment about bloggers.

But Oh My Goddess, thanks so much to everyone who helped with Leelo's Campaign, especially the last three people to donate over $20: Suzanne, Giddy, and Mary Beth. Leelo thanks you from the prompted bottom of his cuddly little heart:



The Wondrous Achievements of Izzy's Godparents

The Wondrous Achievements of Izzy's Godparents

Iz's own Godfather M is now an officially sanctioned (i.e., the bastard gets paid) food blogger! You can read his entries every Friday morning.

Iz's own Godmother Stacy birthed a 9 lb 2 oz baby boy last night. Parents and baby are doing fine. The little guy joins 13-month old big sisters Victoria and Elizabeth. Wow is not really a big enough word. Best wishes to them all.

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Leelo Rules Too, Just Like His Friends Do

Leelo Rules Too, Just Like His Friends Do

Leelo's been a busy man this week. Busy barfing (eating too fast; hasn't done that in months), hitting at school (fuck!) and having two potty accidents (still none at school, though. Whew.). He is occasionally hitting/pushing his four family members as well. He usually targets Mali since she is easy pickings, but he also slugged Seymour in the face--knuckles first, which is good form but really hurt.

Normally all this would have me freaking right off of my seat. But Leelo has had such a great week otherwise that everything is balancing towards the positive.

He has learned to independently buckle himself into his five-point harness car seat. THIS IS HUGE. Seymour and I have been working with him on buckling for months, and all of the sudden Leelo Got It. In fact I didn't even realize he'd made the leap until I trundled over to his side of the minivan after securing Mali, and found him all buckled up and ready to go. Again, this is huge; this means four or five fewer circuits around the car each day and even though it is not an enormous time investment, I am grateful for anything that simplifies my life.

He is also doing so well with getting dressed: shirt, underwear/pullup, pants, socks, shoes (slip-ons only, but hey) all go on without assistance, and quite quickly, too. He is so good at it and so proud of himself. I should take a video.

These self-care milestones fill me with the kind of joy that is usually reserved for a baby's first steps, because it was not clear to me that Leelo would ever reach them. Sure, I hoped and wished and suspected that he could, but--unlike typical kids--there is no standard trajectory for autistic children. You simply cannot predict what they will and will not be capable of.

What I really appreciate about Leelo's progress is the how it reminds me that we can only be hopeful and optimistic about our boy's future abilities. When we had our YouCSF consult with Dr. G. E., he mentioned that kids who don't potty train by age 6 usually don't ever really get it. But Leelo has been working on potty training for more than two years now, and his biggest leaps have come in the past few months. He has been working on self-dressing for even longer. I think Leelo's going to figure it out, I really do.

And despite his misbehavior--which I attribute to his being allowed to eat all the forbidden dairy and sugar he wanted over his birthday weekend--he has really been seeking us out for attention and hugs and kisses. He is with us, he is participating, he is taking care of himself, he is kicking ass. Once again, our battle cry: Go Leelo go!

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Leelo's Friends Approach the Summit!

Leelo's Friends Approach the Summit!

Leelo's campaign is at 81%! OMFG!

Who's going to push it towards that last 19%? Hmm? Last-push people donating $20 or more will get videos of Leelo thanking them personally, posted on this site.

To those who have already given: thank you thank you thank you yet again, this time to Erin M., Kristen M., Douglas K., plus an extra HOLY SHIT thank you to Julie M. of NoFancyName.

Those of you who have spread the word: my thanks to you as well.

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Leelo's Friends RULE!

Leelo's Friends RULE!

Our campaign to get Leelo's local friends a scooter board ramp has hit 62% in only three days. Beyond amazing, just like everyone who has helped out.

The latest (prompted) thank you from Leelo goes to Jenijen, Carol, Alsuin, and Jeremy!

And many, many thanks also to Blaize, Whump, Kari, Mary Tsao, Brianna, Lara, Minnie, Sage, Jill, Amy F., Lisa B., TLF, JP, Jo Spanglemonkey, Dee, and J-L K.

Signora Blog and Gwendomama have also promised funds, so really we're closer to 70%. Wow.

reH nay'meylIjyIn Dujablu'jaj!

(That is Klingon for "May your dishes always be served alive.")

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No More Shopping at Goodwill for Me

No More Shopping at Goodwill for Me

I have been a thrift store shopper since high school, since before Molly Ringwald went public (bitch!) and set off a flock of vintage vultures who carried the top pickings back to their pricey lairs. Even so, Dee and I spent many hours in the local Salvation Army, where we always found more than enough with which to outfit whatever ska or mod or boho personas we were sporting at the time.

I still really enjoy those Eureka! moments of finding great clothes for reasonable prices, such as last month when I found Mali two brand new Carter's footed fleece pajamas for $2.99 each. They were exactly what she needed, and I felt extra proud of myself for not feeding into the retail machine.

But should I feel proud? I no longer have to shop in thrift stores; should I even be there? Shouldn't Mali's jammies have gone to someone who could not otherwise afford them?

I think so. I think that my responsibility is to ensure that my family's clothing comes not only from responsible retailers, but is of good enough quality that it can either last us for a long time or be passed on. We also need to consume less, but that is another, longer post.

As usual, I am interested in reading other peoples' comments on the matter. In the mean time, here are some decent resources for fair trade/responsibly made clothing, as well as holiday shopping:



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Mali vs. The MYND Institute

Mali vs. The MYND Institute

Mali had a 24-month developmental checkup today at The MYND Institute, as she is an ongoing participant in their Infant Siblings of Autistic Children study. They said--as usual--that she is as typical and darling as can be, and is even ahead of the curve in many ways.

I was surprised that these declarations were made despite Mali's refusal to demonstrate her knack for turning any object into a jaunty chapeau, her mastery of the gerund, or her ability to count cheerios as she drops them into her beverage. In fact many of their trials were not representative of her actual skills set as she was playing too much, or focusing too much. Both of which were fine by me--her siblings aren't too adept at either concept.

Truly, though, these sessions are wonderfully reassuring for me. I recommend them to any autism family with a new baby living within 150 miles of Sacramento.

I especially recommend the MYND Institute research studies for families having a difficult time getting additional developmental evaluations for already-diagnosed autistic children. Many studies, such as the Imitation & Regressi0n study in which Leelo participated, contain the exact same evaluations (Vineland Social Maturity Scale, etc.) that were used in my guy's initial diagnosis at Staffnord. And unlike its impenetrable diagnosis clinic, The MYND Institute's research clinics are eager to bring families in. It is not as though you would be fleecing them--they want to evaluate your child. When you consider that you will also be helping with autism research and so helping the autism community in general, it really is win-win. They'll even give you a small stipend.

I am going to go sleep a little more soundly than usual. Have a good night.

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