Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

My showboat resolution for 2008 is to not host six sizeable parties in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, directly after start-to-finish publishing a book in nine weeks, and right before a trip to Cambodia. (On the self-education side, I've found that if you come into an urgent clinic where the posted wait is three hours and tell them that you have chest pains and shortness of breath, they will see you immediately! Ideally you will then be like me and experiencing stress rather than a cardiac emergency, and will only have to sit through a brief doctor-lecture on reducing anxiety through medication and lifestyle modification.)

My serious resolution is stop molding my opinion in deference to stronger personalities, and what I think they think I should be thinking. Which also means toning down the grandstanding-blogging like the paragraph above.

The resolution I can't commit to is to stop using adrenaline as an antidepressant. Instead of overloading myself and my schedule, I should be spending more time taking care of me, my family, and my relationships.

Happy Happy to You.

Mali, at Home and at the MIND Institute

Mali, at Home and at the MIND Institute

(From 12/17. Still going through the post fragment pile.)

Superman II

Our Mali is a hoot. Definitely a little sister: the things that come out of her mouth, her facial expressions, and her gestures are frequently those of, say, another girl who is about to turn nine. This morning when Leelo, Iz, and I woke her up when we arrived back from early-morning errands. She stood at the top of the stairs and yelled, "Good morning, guys!" When I told her that I had a bagel for her, she said (in her very best Iz-speak), "Wow, that's cool!"

The fact that she thinks hitting people is funny and totally okay is more evocative of a little boy who recently turned seven.

She has definitely become a real person, a conversational person, an opinionated and forthright person. She can hold her own with Iz in an argument, through sheer force of will. I didn't ever think I'd feel sorry for Iz in any sort of intra-familial debate, but Mali just may kick her ass. Yesterday Mali and I were sitting on the couch watching The Princess Bride with Iz, when the girls got into an argument over who loved their Mommy more (be still, my heart). Since Mali is newly three, the argument devolved into whose mommy I was was. "My Mommy!" "No, MY Mommy!" Eventually Mali leaned over me, stuck her nose up to Iz's, and growled, "NOT YOURS!"

She is still sleeping with us because "I just don't want to sleep by myself!"

Mali is also a sweet, empathetic girl who spontaneously pats us, telling us how much she loves us and how beautiful we are. She bounces up to everyone, including strangers, with a big smile and a (leg) hug. If we are standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street, she will wave at people in cars (and they will usually smile and wave back).

Her MIND Institute evaluation on 12/3 was actually ... fun. She was at or above age level on every factor. And it was reassuring to see the positive reactions she elicited from the behavioral pediatrician who evaluated her: Mali helped put away most of the toys and puzzles, and said please, thank you, and other social pleasantries without being prompted, to the point where the evaluator looked at me, flabbergasted, and asked how I got our girl to behave so nicely. My flip answer was "Montessori preschool" but really, it's mostly Mali being Mali and having superpowers of observation and interpersonal perception. When the evaluator did an emotional mirroring test, looking inside a box and pretending to be scared of what was in the box, Mali leaned over and asked, "Are you okay?" The evaluator was shocked, and said no child had ever asked her that before.
She is one of the best things in my life right now.


Not a Good Time to Be Leelo's Little Sister

Not a Good Time to Be Leelo's Little Sister

When Mali woke up this morning, I asked her what she wanted to do today. Her reply:

"I want some breaktest [sic] and I want Leelo to not hit me."
He is targeting her every chance he gets. I tried to get groceries accompanied by Leelo and Mali last night, and am not going to be able to do that again until he changes his ways -- it is almost impossible to hold Leelo at arm's length, steer a shopping cart, and put groceries into it. If she's in a chair, he tries to push her. If she's in my arms, he tries to hit her. If she's on the ground, he tries to kick her. I think it's because he loves the big reaction from her. And he doesn't like having his routine changed. And school doesn't start for nine more days.

I think this is even more stressful than when Leelo used to randomly shove random people. I cannot even imagine how much this is fucking with Mali's mind and outlook.

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Can I Say To You?

Can I Say To You?

Originally from 12/2. Going through all the unpublished fragments in the Ecto pile.

Can I just say how pleased I am by how much Iz loves our book? When she tells me how things are going for her at school, about various social indignities and complications, in almost every case I have been able to remind her of what happened in such-and-such Can I Sit With You? story. She finds it very comforting. Mission accomplished! I am going to go sleep now.


Ho Ho Ha Ha

Ho Ho Ha Ha

Tally for Xmas dinner at our place tomorrow: 22 or 23. All helpful, fun, pleasant people though.

Iz, who still believes in Santa, is being a major pain in the ass. It is tempting, says Seymour, to place a lump of coal in the advent box whose tiny drawers I have been faithfully stocking for the past 24 days. She tried to call me a hypocrite today but it came out "hippogriff" instead. So if you hear her or Seymour call me "Buckbeak," now you know why. (My hypocrisy, btw, was in telling her not to say negative things about her wonderful self and her wonderful art, etc., efforts.)

House full of relatives means Leelo is all pissed off at the world and has had two pee accidents even though before today he hadn't had one in over a month. He is also pissed off at his little sister and is gunning for her every chance he gets. Now Leelo is riding in the minivan's way back instead of its middle row of seats. Even more isolating. But better than having a little sister whose first reaction to him is "He's going to hit me!" Bright spot: When he is amped and aggro, focused time with Mommy or Daddy calms him down, and he asks for lots of kisses and squishes in a very sweet way. Plus he is using a lot of good language: "Want to see the sun up in the sky!" and such. Haven't updated his home record in over a week. Bad mommy. I have arranged a lot of extra professional one-on-one Leelo time during the next two weeks, but I'm worried that it won't be enough.

Mali is learning a lot from both her siblings: arguing for arguing's sake from Iz, and having no qualms about decking those near you when you're upset from Leelo. Good thing she's still charming. She woke up this morning, saw the arm chair that had replaced her toddler bed in our room (her cousin Kylie is sleeping in the toddler bed in her parents' room/our guest room during their visit) and yelled, "MOMMY! My bed turned into a chair!" Then she declared, "I want to snuggle with you in our bed," and put her nose up to mine. She must have gotten a blast of my morning breath, though, because she then declared, "Mommy, I think you have gas."

I personally have hit the wall. Usually I can rally, but after a very busy year of working very hard (by my standards), I have realized that I am not getting it together for our holiday newsletter and the few non-email cards that I have sent each year without fail. But that's okay. I'd rather try to get it all done by Jan. 1, and thereby allow what by my standards constitutes some rest, so I can not only be up to but enjoy my mom, little brother, parents-in-law, oldest brother and family, brother-in-law and family, cousin D and family, and everyone else we'll be spending so much time with during the next seven days. Seriously.

Happy Ho Ho Ho.

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Leelo's IEP and Transition Plan

Leelo's IEP and Transition Plan

The IEP went well this AM.

Leelo will be getting a new classroom teacher in the new year, she is very experienced, and is coming from one of the Santa Clara county classrooms that is being shut down. She will start on Jan. 7th.

If all goes well with the new teacher, Leo will transition to full-time schooling, and I won't have to pick him up three days per week, beginning Feb. 16th.

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Who Doesn't Want to Help Cambodian Children?

Who Doesn't Want to Help Cambodian Children?

The thought of me asking people to open their digital wallets for a good cause is shocking, I know. However in this case it's actually my daughter who's on bended knee.

If you're looking for a good cause or gift donation for the holidays, please consider helping Iz raise money to donate towards two fine Cambodian children's organizations: the Nutrition Center of Phnom Penh (an orphanage for disabled children), and the Cambodian Youth Network for Change (YNC). She will be taking your largesse to Cambodia and donating it in person, next month.

TinyURL version of Iz's DropCash campaign page: http://tinyurl.com/2j8bdo

If we're fortunate enough to hit our ceiling, it is very much okay to donate more. DropCash will record it and PayPal will take it.

If you donate $35 or more, and if you include your mailing address during your PayPal checkout, Iz will hand-write you a thank you note.

You have our gratitude, everlastingly.

(Many thanks to Beth Kanter for hooking us up with Chak Sopheap of the YNC.)


New Story on Can I Sit With You?

New Story on Can I Sit With You?

This time the author's story is not quite as gripping as the time he fell ninety feet into a glacial crevasse, but it's still touching.

And in case we didn't make this clear: we are heading towards volume two of Can I Sit With You?, so send us your damn stories.

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Eeeepity Eep Eep Eeeeeep!

Eeeepity Eep Eep Eeeeeep!

Amazon, we has them. Or they has us. Or something. Is there a Lolcatz-speak antidote? I needz it.

Anyhow, Can I Sit With You? is available through Amazon.com! Only problem: we set our price low so that people would buy lots and lots of books, but if we only have dribbly sales at Amazon then we actually lose money on each sale. We can't raise the price without changing our ISBN#. Though we would start making cash if Amazon thought it was worth their while to buy, say, 100 copies from us. Hint hint hint.


Leelo Status

Leelo Status

Minutes: Leelo Team meeting Dec. 12, 2007 (Therapist L, Squid, Supervisor M)

Most important news- also in body of minutes:

Therapist L informed us that her final day with Leelo will be Feb. 15. She is looking to work closer to home, further develop her skills with a greater variety of students, possibly in a school or non-public school setting. [Cue Squid sobbing]

Leelo did independent work during the team meeting; he did 4 tasks for about 10 minutes, all independently; this is a first for him, and shows how hard he has worked and far he has come with this; he was more independent than some other 7 year olds when their parents are talking!! FANTASTIC.

Hardly any potty accidents, but still some pooing in pull-ups when in bed (hard to tell if he’s pooing at night, in sleep, or in the morning after he wakes); Leelo gets out of pyjamas when zipped up the front; consider wearing underpants at night- maybe start after the holidays; compulsive flushing still a problem; Therapist L tries “first pee, then flush”, and blocks flusher with her body

Leelo able to buckle his seatbelt now- HOORAY. [Only when sitting on right side of the car; left-hand seats and their buckles are still not acceptable.]

Re-introduced some foods he had not been eating lately- bagels, tortilla chips, potato chips; this is so important, and good progress in such a short time.

Aggression increased past few days- more frequent and intense both at home and at school; Squid wondering if sugar intake, or allergies; Supervisor M- could be seasonal cycle; hit stranger in coffee shop- goes to that place regularly; pummeling Iz when Squid told him he could not go outside;
Triggers: in lines, crowds, lots of talking, when someone tells him no/denied what he wants, when kids are crying/screaming, waiting, vacuum,
Setting events/ situations that increase likelihood of hitting that day: Sugar intake, forget allergy meds, sleep changes, illness,

All staff working with Leelo now (at least 5 different staff); this week he has been with Sylvie.
Next week- Lynda with Leelo; this is her first time working directly with Leelo;

Behaviors increased in intensity last few days- change in schedules- special holiday activities.

ABA programming
Newest tasks- folding, starting with shorts; Therapist L hiding toys inside shorts to help Leelo to understand the purpose of the task;
Edmark- Leelo almost finished with matching section of program, next will come beginning reading; ACTION: label things around the house to create word-rich environment

Chaining actions during songs- Leelo very interested in this, doing well; Leelo taught Squid a song Babysitter K used to sing with him (colors of rainbow); he also taught Therapist L different versions; starting hand- clap games, including downtown baby, Ms. Mary Mack, ACTION: let Therapist L know if Iz/Mali or friends are doing other hand-clap games.

Tapping to get attention- Leelo tapped Mali to get puzzle piece from her; also self- correcting- he begins to hit, and then stops and taps instead; continue working on calling name while tapping

Patterns- colors, shapes, letters; ACTION: next step, apply patterning to beading activity, gluing stripes in a pattern, gluing letters in pattern, point out patterns in real world; begin more complex patterns (e.g. abc, aab, abb, etc).

Functions of objects- mastered 6 cup, bed, book, scissors, chair, toothbrush, crayon; Next steps: soap- washing, plate- eating, piano- playing music, ball- throwing; after Leo has mastered about 10 objects, do senses (eyes- seeing, ears- hearing, fingers- touching, tongue- tasting, nose- smelling); use physical examples, books- eyes are for seeing; Dr. Seuss- eye book, ear book, etc.

Cutting- ACTION: move to full square; continue with stiff paper/cardstock;

Math- Check Montessori web site; match written to number of circles at bottom of page:

Scheduling changes, holidays, etc.:
Family in town from 22nd to 1st, mostly Squid's mom;
First day back to school Jan 7th;
Squid out of town from 12 to 20, traveling to Cambodia with Iz
Therapist L off Dec. 24, 25, Jan 2, 3, and 8.
Supervisor M off between Dec. 19 and Jan 3
Therapist L- planning to end her work with Leelo on Feb. 15; exploring work options with Spectrum or Inside Out;

T-Shirt Power, Activate! Also, Autism and Independent Work

T-Shirt Power, Activate! Also, Autism and Independent Work

I had Leelo wear this new t-shirt today:

Leelo's Shirt Today

And it worked! He had a wonderful, sweet, happy, interactive, calm, aggression-free, spontaneous-pottying morning. Oh yes, I believe in truth in advertisting.

Here is what he looked like on top:

Singing Together

(We are doing his favorite I-sing-you-repeat song cycle, all about looking at eyebrows, wanting to watch the Teletubbies, and wanting to go on the computer. I have to get a video of him singing this with his sisters joining in.)

Forgot to add amidst the grumping yesterday: Leelo is doing so well at school that Supervisor M is not as freaked out as she could have been about Therapist L leaving our home therapy program. Leelo is actually learning at school; school is doing what school is supposed to do, and his home program -- while important -- is no longer his only legitimate educational and skills-sharpening environment.

Yesterday Supervisor M showed me a remarkable video of Leelo at school, doing a two-minute-long routine of entering his classroom, taking off his jacket and backpack, putting them on the correct hooks, taking out his lunch box, putting it on the correct shelf, taking out the notebook the teachers and I use to communicate, putting it in the notebook bin, checking his picture schedule, and then going to the potty. His para/aide gave him a couple of prompts but they were actually not necessary as he was already en route.

Our boy, he is a capable, smart guy. He just needs guidelines and predictable structure. This includes play. This is a heavy component of his home program. Supervisor M and Therapist L have done an amazing job of training him to have structured "Leelo time," where he has activities (puzzles, cars, bead lacing, electric toy keyboard) on different trays and a picture schedule of the activities, and he spends up to fifteen independent minutes checking the schedule and working through the activities at his own pace. Should get a video of this too. It's a great skill set for autistic kids, and a portable one.

Here are some generalizations and specifics about Leelo's independent at-home work, taken from last week's training session with Therapist A and Therapist R (formerly Babysitter A and Rosie the aide), and posted with Supervisor M's permission:


Strategies for working at home:

Goals: give him functional life skills, independent skills.

Very important not to talk with child while doing an independent chore.

Putting his clothes away in the correct drawers. Good for kids w/autism b/c is matching and categorization, very visual task; doesn't require language.

Initially started w/sorting clothes.

If you give him a large pile, might become overstimulated, so reduce size of pile; put it in a laundry basked so he can pull it out.

Good task: have him sort and match his own socks.

Next step: roll, if too hard from a fine motor perspective, just fold in half over each other otherwise.

He enjoys this task.

Setting the table
Supervisor M shows video of Leelo setting the table at school. He sets all the places, for all seven children because the other children aren't able to do it yet.

He takes the placemats from the pile, and puts them in the proper places at each table. Then he gets a reinforcer (straw in this case).

Currently his aide stands nearby but does not engage him. Eventually she will move away and look busy during Leelo's tasks.

Independent Skills.
Has to be an activity that he can do all by himself.

Using a TEACHH system. Important to have "portable" system so that child can generalize the skills and not rely on specific place and setting.

Leelo can currently do independent work for fifteen minutes. Even some open-ended activities (teletubbies to play with, play-doh--rolling and patting, cutting "pancakes") whereas used to be only closed-ended activities (puzzles, stringing beads). Therapist stays nearby and watches for off-task activities.

At home, should keep a TEACHH list on the wall of activities that he might want to do.


Sometimes I wonder if these strategies couldn't be applied to Iz as well, as she never seems to know what to do with herself unless prompted. (Ep: Shut it.)

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Buy Sum Pritty Stuff

Buy Sum Pritty Stuff

I should be sending in an application for CISWY to start running ads, sending out a copy of the CISWY book for a potential book event in Marin, writing up a synopsis of CISWY for inclusion in Iz's school newsletter, writing to the woman in charge of the Phnom Penh orphanage to ask what sort of equipment or toys her severely disabled children might need, asking Jennyalice about CISWY book readings logistics, and making tiny iPhoto books for my various nieces and nephews as stocking stuffers. I am absolutely ignoring the kitchen that I dirtied making homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs for dinner. I am still thinking about how to record Mali's evaluation at the MIND Institute, how to not cry every time Leelo hits me because a reaction is what he wants and he will even script for me: "OW!", how to be more accommodating to Iz in realizing that she really does need more social time than the average bear, and what I will wear tomorrow to the BlogHer holiday fete. I am forgetting lots of other things. Whatever.

What I am actually doing is sighing and asking if anyone wants to buy some pretty silver jewelry:

Bracelet Detail

Go to the photo set for details. I need this shit gone!



Just a little bit.

I can't really remember everything that I have to do. It's too much and happening too quickly for a to-do list. And last night I fell asleep while reading Iz The Golden Compass, at 8:30 PM (she put a blanket over me, unprompted, and Seymour let me sleep, so double awwww), so I am even more behind with the Xmas letters and gifting, and organizing for my and Seymour's families to come celebrate/stay with us, and the Can I Sit With You? arrangements and promotions, and the organizing for Iz's birthday party, and trying to do a fundraiser/donation for a Phnom Pehn orphanage so that Iz and I can visit friends in Cambodia without feeling like assholes.

Anyhow. I'll get it all done. What is really concerning me right now is that Therapist L, who has been working with Leelo for 4 1/2 years, gave notice today. She's leaving Feb. 15th. I don't blame her; she's got a better opportunity that doesn't involve a bridge commute. Still.

I may just go hyperventilate for real.

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Can I Sit With You? News

Can I Sit With You? News

(Copied and pasted from the Can I Sit With You? site as I am wonky-tired.)

Can I Sit With You? is on a tear. At this moment we're the #813 seller on lulu.com (we started out at #22,000), we've sold almost 250 copies, and we've cleared almost $1300 in direct donations to SEPTAR. Thanks so much, everyone, and please tell even more people to buy our book!

In other, also very exciting news:

Beth Kanter featured Can I Sit With You? as one of her charitable holiday giving recommendations for the BlogHer holiday gifting guide. Thank you, Beth!

We have also been featured at Blooking Central, a blog all about [blogs+books=] blooks. There may even be a follow up Q&A on how we made CISWY happen, so stay tuned.

Our local library is very excited about Can I Sit With You? and wants to set up an author's event, since our book features so many local writers. Again, we'll post updates as we receive them.

Locals who would prefer to get their hands on a hard copy of CISWY right now can do so at Main Street Coffee Roasting Company or Canyon Coffee. Both places feature fantastic, roasted-on-site coffee.

And, finally, we will be hanging with our Blogosphere buds at the BlogHer Holiday Meetup on Thursday in San Francisco. If you ever wanted to see just how tall and striking Jennyalice is, or how short and fuchsia-haired Squid is, then come on by. Just don't forget to RSVP.




Seymour prodded me awake this morning, reminding me that it was my morning to get up with Leelo. Our early waking boy was already audibly stomping down the stairs by the time I scrambled out of bed; by the time I opened our door and spotted him, he was all the way into the kitchen, singing Ram Sam Sam at the top of his lungs. With hand movements! The whole song!

He was also buck naked.

I escorted him back to his room, where I discovered a completely poo-full pullup sitting on his floor, on top of his pajamas. But Leelo did not smell, and there were no smears or puddles on himself, his bed, his sheets, the floor, or his pajamas. Not even his bottom was befouled. All the actual solids were completely contained within the pullup, and bundled up tidily.

I took him into the bathroom to dispose of the stinky package and give him a scrub anyhow; he ran to the potty ahead of me, and emptied what appeared to be a full bladder.

So, somehow Leelo manaaged to extricate himself from a poopy pullup without getting himself or anything dirty except the pullup itself, while holding an overnight bladder for a full fifteen very active minutes after waking up.

This is a boy who is increasingly comfortable, skilled, and in touch with his body. Go Leelo go.


In other news, this afternoon I am having a party to sell off the five hundred or so pieces of Tuareg jewelry my Malian friend somehow thought I should peddle for him. At least it's an excellent excuse to invite all my friends over and feed them and get them drunk while playing Holiday Hostess.

I really don't know what I'm going to do with any leftover jewelry; I checked out prices on eBay and such, and Tuareg jewelry is undervalued, plus the effort of selling such trinkets on eBay is not worth my time. Sigh. At least I know what all my female friends and relatives are getting for Xmas.

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Hey Look Guyz!

Hey Look Guyz!

Itz me an Jennyalice at Milagros!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

An Godfathr Michael too:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Who by the way is making a special trip to visit us tomorrow, to help us trim our tree and thereby make his newly minted Xmas decorations junkie goddaughter a happy girl.

Milestones, Ineptitude, and Social Anxiety

Milestones, Ineptitude, and Social Anxiety

I have a one-hour break to get some critical to-do items done, so of course I am blogging instead.

Last night Seymour and I got to have a date! A short one, but, still. When we got home, the kids were all asleep (never a guarantee even at 10 PM), so we even got to watch Battlestar Galactica: Razor together -- until I fell asleep on the couch, anyhow. ROMANTIC.

One of the things we chatted about was our different approach to projects and life in general. I am very much a plodding to-do list person -- while I do get hopped up on My Great New Ideas, I also prefer coming up with concrete, finite, deadline-driven tasks and getting them done; he is the dreamy, productive, open-ended integrator who innovates, and thereby impresses all his co-workers with his creativity. This is why he has a stack of laurels sitting on the desk at his high-profile job, whereas I wipe our kids' asses. Sometimes I wish I was more like him.

Especially now that Can I Sit With You? has been published (but it now, please!). I am flailing a bit as to next steps for promoting and increasing sales. Jennyalice and I had coffee with the Bad Moms yesterday, and as all those amazing women threw wonderful ideas at our heads, I could see the ever-sharp Jennyalice soaking it all up while I just sat there feeling dazed and queasy. This is why I stopped being a software producer and became a writer/editor/content developer.

Anyone want to help out with PR? I'm not saying we aren't capable, but promotions are not one of my strengths, and though Jennyalice could sell oil to Hugo Chavez, her life is about five times more nuts than mine. And I'm not exactly feeling sorry for us as we've raised over $1000 in less than a week, thanks to all our wonderful supporters. But I also know we could do even better.

And I am trying, really. I've slapped this button everywhere I could think of:

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

I took several deep breaths and nominated us when Beth Kanter put out a call for social and charity projects that make excellent holiday gifts and causes.

I am going to the BlogHer Holiday Meetup in San Francisco. Not necessarily to promote CISWY; more to help work on the social anxiety that had me flipping out through the entire BlogHer '06 Conference. And also to see many of my cool friends.

Also I've arranged for some local coffee shops to sell our book, and have given copies to local school librarians to review, get back to me with their opinion, and put in circulation if deemed appropriate.

We will also be having Can I Sit With You? authors reading in San Francisco in late January. More details as it approaches.

Anyhow. It's still not enough, given this project's potential. We could use some help, or at least some promotional ideas.


I know that not everyone wants to buy a copy of CISWY, and that's okay. But if you're still on the lookout for charitable holiday gifting ideas and vectors, please consider supporting SEPTAR, the Special Ed PTA to which all of CISWY's proceeds go, through the following means:

If you use this search box right here to find and then buy Amazon goods, SEPTAR will get a percentage of your spent dollars:

Of course, if you'd prefer, you can always make a tax-deductible direct donation to SEPTAR, in someone's honor.

And finally, one of my favorite CISWY writers sent us another story that will rearrange your insides, in a good way.

Time to work.

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I think I may be simultaneously the best auntie and the worst sister-in-law around: I just bought my seven-year-old niece a Bedazzler for Xmas. I blame the "As Seen on TV" section at Long's. Her mom should be grateful that I didn't choose the Ginsu knives!

Meanwhile, we are waiting for Leelo's school bus. It is at least fifteen minutes -- usually twenty-five minutes -- late each day. Supervisor M told me that Leelo's class staff have almost never had him arrive less than fifteen minutes late, and that sometimes he's thirty minutes late. For a kid who only spends three hours in the classroom on three of his school days, this is not acceptable. Will have to call the bus people and make a fuss. I hate making fusses.

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Forgive My Braggings, You Will

Forgive My Braggings, You Will

Our third child is becoming a real person. With a conversational person's ability to skirt issues. After watching her thwack Shia the cat, I gave her The Look. She said, "Don't worry, Mommy! I would never do that to Shia. I am petting her gently. See?"

Mali has started to preface many of her statements with "actually." As in "Actually, I'll take the blue plate," or "Actually, I want my pizza to be cold." SHE ARE GIFTED! (Fourth bullet point from end of list.) I think I'll start getting her pre-tested for the local gifted kids' private K-8! (Just in case you don't know me, I am very much kidding. We intend to take advantage of our excellent local public schools, for the third time.) However I fully expect the MIND Institute folks to tell me that she is the cutest and most brilliant child they've yet encountered, when she goes to her 36 month Infant Siblings study evaluation tomorrow.

SMRT or not, she is very fun to talk to and play with. Especially when she gets surreal ("My jammies are turning orange!"), affectionate (throwing her arms around my neck for no reason and murmuring, "I love you, Mommy"), defiant ("I am not naked! I have a pullup on!"), creative (her many and varied spontaneous modern dance demonstrations), or just absurd (lying upside down against the couch back, pounding her feet alternately on the wall, yelling "Left foot right foot left foot right foot!").

Her sister is more existential; recently Iz and Violet spent the entire ride back from school discussing whether or not they actually existed, whether what they were experiencing as their day progressed was real. I told them they were too young to have existential crises, but immediately revised the statement: "Sorry, telling you that you're 'too young' is patronizing. What I meant was that I was surprised."

And then there's Leelo. He is doing the most amazing singing routines these days, and wants to engage us in all of them. I will try to video one of his song cycles. I always worry that he doesn't seem to be able to sing more than one or two line of a song he didn't make up, but then yesterday he taught me, line by line, the entire "rainbow" song that Babysitter K used to sing to him. Clever boy.

He had a lovely day today. Here are the excerpts from his home record spreadsheet. He is really fun to be around. I am so very proud of him.
Seems healthy. A bit of Las Vegas eczema still lingering.

Up at 6:30, to bed at 9:30

Overeating, all day long still issue. Cod liver oil, croissant, PB&J, veggie booty, banana. Stole some M&M's, refused goldfish. Is starting to try some new foods (corn chips, bagel).


Lots of singing "cycles" in which he is telling a story, or describing things on his mind. "Look at the teletubbies, look at the eyebrows, want to go on the computer" or "It's Mali. It's your sister Mali. Grandma & Grandpa, Grandma & Grandpa" Good asking for things he wants. "Want to go to Suraj. Want to go get some Naan bread." Also excellent identification of almost everything in his vicinity -- even in responding obscure, unprecedented questions like "What is on the ketchup label?" A: "Tomatoes!" Lots of demanding our attention verbally: "Put down the phone, Daddy!" Just a lot of language in general.
Lovely behavior. Couple of hitting incidents. Abundant independent play (going outside to ride on tricycle, etc.), sustained calm interaction with family. Giving lots of spontaneous hugs; also giving big smiles and hugs in reaction to praise, e.g., "You are so good at going to the potty!" Calm and social (for him) in general. Able to buckle himself into his car seat (and won't look at the buckle/clasp while doing so; doubly amazing) but cannot be adjacent to sisters in car; we have been having a lot of incidents of reaching over to hit them. Showing some task persistence with motivation: figure out how to work our rather tricky step stool in order to get at the veggie booty and straws cabinet.

No accidents. Followed body's cues to run for the potty, even when he woke up in the morning -- he stripped and went to the potty, *then* came to wake me up. His pullup was dry. Only downsides are compulsive flushing is still present and he is not remembering to wipe himself. But he is no longer compulsively hitting himself and the door as part of his routine.

Leo got new teacher on Monday 11/26 (third one this year as the class is still without a permanent teacher). However the paras are all so talented that I'm not too worried. He is learning so much at that school.
Other than that, please tell everyone to get a copy of Can I Sit With You? book. This really is the critical week for us. We are having a lot of success but could some more, so please do tell all your friends and family to buy the book!