Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Art By Children

Art By Children, Installment #1.

And this begins my new weekly whenever I feel like it FEATURE of Art By Children. If you would like to join in the ABC posting, please link in the comments section.


This is a piece by Bubbles, age 2.
He calls it a sculpture.
This is from his morning impressionist phase.
Viewer Discretion Advised:

"Hippo gets friendly with Elephant who prefers Dinosaur"

What did your toddler do today?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Baby Sleeps With a Plunger (Guy)

Bubbles doesn't sleep with anything soft or fuzzy to which he is particularly or consistently attached. Unlike his sister, who still sleeps with her beloved 'bway' (fleece homemade blankie that was a baby gift for her), Bubbles' demands for bedtime companions are spontaneous. He will occasionally insist that his stuffed dinosaur accompany him to bed, or a special book that he likes.

That is, until Plunger Guy was discovered.

Plunger Guy was given to us by the septic/ rooter guy who became way too familiar with our personal shit waste material over the course of three visits in just two months. We live in the mountains, the system is ooooold. Let's leave it at that for now, shall we?

So on the third visit, Rooter Man was becoming friendly with Bubbles, who would enthusiastically go out to greet him based solely on the fact that he drove a large and noisy truck. Before he left, he handed Bubbles the funniest promotional gift-slash-'action figure'-slash-doll I have ever seen. And Bubbles fell in love with him.

Plunger Guy was quickly introduced to the cast of characters who would either become his best friends or his worst demise (dinosaurs are fickle that way, you know), and although at first he was attacked repeatedly by T-Rex and hippo, he ascended to alpha-toy at record speed.
Plunger Guy must go everywhere with us, a tricky and disastrous situation, as peril of losing him lurks within each outing. Plunger Guy has to go in the tub, eat dinner, and now must also sleep with Bubbles.
Which wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that Plunger Guy is a little bit creepy. Besides the fact that he is holding a plunger and grinning smugly, he is winking.

Yes, winking.





I present to you, Plunger Guy:




What? Too blurry? Well, I told you it was hard to get him away from Bubbles. Okay, let me go yank it out of his hand for a second. Plug your ears.


Better?


See? The winking? Disturbing, yes?


For the record, when PG first joined our family, I tried to call him Toilet Guy. But my husband has a problem with reality scatology and all things poop-related (such as, poop goes in there) and he first cringed and then, (when I didn't get the far too subtle message) he loudly protested about calling him Toilet Guy. So I sadly demoted the doll to Plunger Guy, rejecting Dh's (lame) suggestion of 'Rooter Man' (booooring).

I was describing both this argument and the doll to my curious and insightful brother, the one who thinks outside the box (you know who you are), and he (I suppose out of free-association more than anything else) suggested that I tell dh that we should call him 'Ass-r*pe Guy'. I said something like, "Ummm, no." But it was asstastically good for a laugh.

Especially the next morning, when the first *ping* I got in G-chat was asking me how Ass-r*pe Guy had slept that night.

(It was funny IRL.)


Also for the record, I do know how to spell 'Ass-r*pe' correctly. But I am not that much of a google whore.





Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Funniest Thing You Have Seen Today

Would love to detail my recent drinking adventures, but am still drunk have had to maintain bouts of parenting in-between.
(heh)
Am typing every chance I get. And I end up with precisely approximately one point three minutes at a time and a lot of dreck in the end.
But I have some great stories! I had high hopes for sharing them all this weekend.



While I work on that, here is the best one:








Care to caption that? Offers being taken.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PLUGGED IN!

I have been thinking about this a lot.

I read to my children far too much; it is time they learned to read their own damn books.
I clean my childrens' room far too much; this week they will be cleaning their own room every day.
I play with my children. They need to learn to use their imaginations!
I cook for my children. They are lazy little royalty who barely know how to scramble their own eggs. This week I will put fresh batteries in the smoke detector and hand them my breakfast menu request.
I drive them everywere. Birthday parties, lessons, the beach, the park, the store, school, etc. What a crock! They don't even help pay for the gas!
I wipe their butts. Don't get me started.
I hear endless hours of whining for doling out the wrong (gasp!) color bowl, the wrong flavor lollipop, the wrong texture of sandwich.
When the complaining begins, I remind them what a blog is for and why they should leave mama alone before she locks them in a box.

I spend so much time with my children, that I fear someday they will be all grown up and I will realize that I spent hardly any time at all on the computer, googling how to keep them alive and happy.

Also, my children want so much attention from me, that I have encouraged them to start their own blogs. Once they do this and are on their own computers blogging all of the time, they will realize that I give them way too much attention and they will beg me to leave them alone so they can blog.



We are not followers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

All non-sequiturs and not one mention of death!! (oops)



  • It's official: Bubbles is out of the crib. He is a big boy.

  • Also official: My Insanity, as I actually got teary when the crib was taken down,

  • and also got teary that I had not gotten a photo of the crib before it was taken down. (shuddup. baby factory is closed. doesn't mean I have to be thrilled about it. shuddup.)

  • Bubbles and Supergirl love sharing a room so far, (she cuddled him to sleep last night, ::sniff sniff::) and I can proudly say that our bed is now 40% more roomy for approximately 67% more of the entire night.

  • They both end up in our bed in the morning because apparently they have magnets embedded in their brains which are drawn to my bedframe (it seems that the magnets only work while dark; am thinking of moving to Alaska so I get better sleep during the 20 hours of daylight).

  • I confess that I am truly an FLDS voyeur and if anyone who lives in Canada can get me THIS before the US comes out with it in six (omfg) weeks...you will ROCK MY WORLD and be rewarded with something super fabulous (I'll think of something) (she did!).

  • I might just include this and this. The best pair of books I have read in a long time. If you're into leprosy Hansen's Disease of course. Don't be afraid.

  • This past week I made this cowboy sammich. It rocks. Mmmmm...butter and beef!

  • I also made this super easy incredibly delicious 'even my two year old who only likes beef ate it' peanut chicken. I am in awe of these mothers who homeschool their four and seven children and actually cook food. (where is their mountain of laundry hiding???) I also pay close attention to their recipes, because they are not about to create any extra work for anyone.

  • I have been amazing myself with domestic godessness. Lately, on the days when I am not teaching early, I have been using 30-45 minutes in the morning to prepare dinner so all that has to be done is the actual cooking. It seems like such a simple act, but this has changed our entire evenings! For one thing, eliminating the choice+preparation+cooking+whiny children equation for me = waaay better mama at that hour (and don't even pretend you don't know what I am talking about). Added bonus? Mama gets to sit in the late afternoon sun and have a beer play endless games of tag and jump on the trampoline and jumpjumpjump playplayplay before turning into the kitchen witch. (who am I kidding? beer thirty playdate between 4:30-5:30; my place.)

  • Tonight we are having honey lemon grilled chicken with a hearty spinach salad.

  • Who wants to come over for dessert? We have these. And we will have some of these.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Double Whammiversary

So, I have been living in a box lately (maybe it was the nap box; I feel slightly disoriented), and when I came out of it, I checked the calendar to see if I had missed anything important.
Apparently I had missed the fact that Mother's Day and May 11th are THE EXACT SAME DAY this year.

Should that matter?


On Mother's Day 2004, my son was sick.
Elijah had caught the bronchial infection that was 'run-of-the-mill' with Supergirl, but more of an orange alert with him.
I drove him down the mountain to meet with our pediatrician, who happened to be on call that weekend. On the way down the spectacular canyon drive, I ran into a site which was not unfamiliar: A 'safety' or 'trailer' car going about 19 mph to protect the rider in front of the car: a skateboarder or inline skater.
All the way down the mountain.
All the fucking way down the mountain. All of those eight miles to the coast. At less than twenty mph. With a sick baby.
And in this case, on this day, it was a rollerblader dressed in a lime green catsuit. And it took every shred of self-restraint to see this catsuited figure who did a fancy spin and tossed a super lame thumbs-up motion to all the many cars that had been crawling along behind him/her, and then not MOW THEM THE FUCK DOWN with my car. But I was worried about my baby, so I only grazed them did not.

The pediatrician met us at the office rather than the ER; she knew we were always afraid of him catching more germs, or more horrible germs than the ones he had.
She listened to his lungs, and announced that he had bronchitis.
I was relieved; after all, it wasn't pneumonia. I remember distinctly how I scooped him back into my arms and kissed him with relief. We talked about the 'pinch test' for a rudimentary oxygen test, and how we had been checking his color regularly. I discussed how we had taken him off of the growth hormone because neither the endocrinologist, nor the pharmaceutical company would return our calls about Elijah's adverse reactions to the HGH. She was on call, and got beeped repeatedly while we were there.
She prescribed an antibiotic for him and then mentioned that he may sound a bit worse the next day, as things started to break up in his chest. She said to call if he started to sound wheezy.
I asked her if she really thought he was okay to not be in a hospital. I reminded her that we lived 30 minutes away from the hospital. This is both memorable and remarkable, since dh and I had done more in Elijah's life to avoid hospital stays than most parents are forced to do, and inquiring about the need for him to be admitted was nothing short of deep fear. I wish I had listened to my deep fear, rather than my desperate desire for the relief of a lesser illness.
I really wanted to believe her. I wanted to believe that he was not that sick.
So I believed her.
I allowed myself one last gut-knocking (hello brain? this is your gut knocking...are you listening?) moment of doubt. On the way out of the exam room, I stopped.
That moment is frozen in time.
He was on my shoulder, my sweet tiny little sick boy; and the carseat was hanging off of my other arm. I asked her if she was concerned about the tracheomalacia. It seemed to me that the combination of the tracheomalacia and bronchitis might be dangerous.
Her answer was unforgettable.
"You two are way on top of it - you are such careful and vigilant parents - I have confidence that you will know if he starts to get worse. And happy mother's day!"

Just TRY living with that.

On the way home, I picked up his prescription. It was a longer day than it should have been for a sick little baby. Which is why the admission of this next part makes me ill. Elijah was fussing on the way home. He rarely cried, so you would think that the Mother of the Year award would be within reach, with such a good baby and so little to complain about.
You would be wrong.
I actually gave him my mommy admonishment, "Oh now now, stop that fussing. We'll be home soon."

And go on, try living with THAT.

And when I brought him home, did I sit down in the rocking chair and rock his little sick body to sleep? No I did not. He was already asleep. I had an almost three year old, I had things to do. And I had spent the entire day before mother's day face-down on the bathroom floor with (assumed) food poisoning, avoiding Elijah in case it was some horrid contagious bug.

The horrible mothers day morphed into the next day without much to distinguish itself other than the sunrise. Elijah continued to sleep a lot and not look well. I continued to catch up on laundry and emails and making food. We tried all day to feed Elijah, he would eat just a few bites before he would try and go back to sleep. This was heartwrenching.
The pediatrician was right; he did sound worse. And he was wheezing. So I called and left a message for the doctor. Her incompetent nurse called me back and said to go pick up a prescription for albuterol. Another two hours away from my baby - just to go to town.

Do you think I go over these details much?

Maybe it is better this way. These anniversaries are like getting sucker punched each time, so now it will be two rotten days rolled into one.
The whole killing birds, stone thing. Not that I would kill birds. I rarely even kill spiders. Unless they are this kind.

For now, my (spider-filled) box is calling me back into it, so you can just wait for the non-surprise ending or you can torture yourself with the brain damagingly memorable early hours of May 11th.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

THERE IS NO 'OUT OF THE WOODS' in PARENTING

Last night I was having one of my traditional re-cap the day phone calls with the BOS, and I came inside the house (our house is small and talking outside is best) to find dh looking slightly pale. He had just rescued Bubbles from near death, it seems.
He had been choking.



:::Blink. Blink. Blinzeln:::



On a coin, we assume.
He heard choking, he ran upstairs to find Bubbles throwing up his milk and dinner, and under the whole pile of puke, were two coins: one penny, and one quarter.
The quarter seems to be what put him into gag mode.


OMFG. (repeat as necessary) (for me this was x 857)


After I recovered from another near-death experience (which is as close as we can afford to get), I asked the little boy in my arms, "Did you eat money?"
To which he replied glibly, "I did it."
Dh and I looked at each other. It was so clear, we just didn't even believe it.
"Bubbles. Did you eat money?", I asked him again.
He looked back and forth at both of us before he grinned wildly and proudly answered, "I did it!"
I shook my head. I wanted to believe that he was over that. Seriously, the last time I saw him put a chokable non-food item in his mouth was at least six months ago.
Ah, but the key there is in the itallic..
So, here we are. Two slightly paranoid parents who consider themselves vigilant. What if both of us had been out of the house and not heard the choking?

What if the quarter that he somehow(?!) got hold of and (probably) ran around with in his mouth had become lodged in his throat the other way. Whichever way it would have created not a sound. Because, you know, that is what true choking sounds like.
Nothing.

So, ummm....phew?
And on to that sleeping room. My project for today. I just can't search a huge parent bedroom/playroom every night for the deathly choking items. I need this change for my sanity. That, and the fact that those damn kids have been sleeping with me all night long, and then one of them has been getting me up at SIX am!!!, which just PISSES ME OFF. But not as much as waking up to a DEAD TODDLER would piss me off.

And so, back to neurotic parenting for us.
I tried to give it up when Bubbles was nine months old, but absolutely nothing could stop me from checking his breathing every five minutes while he slept.
I tried to give it up when we had that consistent run of connect-the-bumps-and-bruises on the forehead, but then there was that concussion.
What's the point of letting go of the neuropathy if you are living with a child who will be constantly bringing you to the brinks of disaster; the edges of sanity?
Exactly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Teensy Bit O Wallowing

Somebody is becoming quite the quick learner!
The day after I wrote about this, using juice as the holy grail perfect example, and the day after we were practicing relentlessly consistent CTD (aahhhhh this is so HAAARD!), Bubbles came downstairs with me in the morning, walked into the kitchen behind me, and said,
"I want juice."
All. Three. Words.

Sure, it came out more like, "Ah wuh juuuuuz."
And I will take it. (for now)

And all day long after that little morning greeting?
I heard, "I need help!"
Instead of the usual seventybillionteen times a day we would just hear him cry out what he believed to be the key to the universe:
"HEEELLLLPPPP!"

FULL SENTENCES ARE ALL CAPS WORTHY!!!
CAN YA HEAR ME SO PROUD??

And guess what I am doing right now? With the success of these incredibly holistic newly found (but hardly new) parenting strategies?

Wallowing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Toddler Film Festival

How funny is this? Bubbles got so concerned as I was watching Tricia's post about her little lovely's owie, I had to grab my own camera.

video

His review of the film?

"There is an owie. Someone help that girl before I am overcome with
sadness for her plight. Good product placement.

It was a bit of a chick flick, but the surprise ending was pleasant
enough. The plotline and suspense are appropriate for a wide range of
target audiences, but toddlers will get most out of the take-home message."

~Bubbles

Friday, April 11, 2008

I respect my monkey

Although Bubbles knows that getting his own cup and leading me to the fridge is the fastest path to the juice, it is now the least likely thing to happen. We require more effort from him now, and this? This pisses him off.

We understood him last week! What is wrong with us? Don't we know that:
cup+hand tug+refrigerator=juice?

Of course we do. Maybe if he just screams at us and shows us how frustrated he is, then we will get off our asses and get him the juice. No? Maybe if he jumps up and down with the cup while whining (he is mulit-talented). No? Okay, then maybe if he throws the cup and rolls on the floor. Then we'll really feel bad and get him the juice. No? Okay, maybe he doesn't really want the damn juice anyway.
So he tries something else. How about some ovaltine? Get that and give it to Mama. Whine. Give her another cup. Whine more loudly. She still isn't getting up? OMG THIS IS SO FREAKING HARD!!!!!
Why won't I get up? Because he has not requested it with a(n approximation of a) word. We taught him signs a while back; but he didn't use them until now. Now he tries to recall and use these ancient signs, as his desperate last-ditch attempt at avoiding having to use words.

But in the world of speech therapy, we have goals. And one of them is to use spoken language instead of gestures. Bubbles can hear. Bubbles can make sounds. He can form words. Signing is, for him, using gestures to communicate. I pretend that I don't understand the sign for 'milk'.

Does it break my heart to see him try so hard and not be able to respond with instant gratification? Maybe bruises it a little bit, but I see the bigger picture now; I see the progress he has been able to make, the obstacles through which he has pushed himself and allowed himself to be pushed, I see the benefit of being able to form words which can be understood by more people than the three in his own little family, and I see the pride he has when he has successfully learned something.

When I am daunted by the process (OMG THIS IS SO FREAKING HARD), stumped by the hard or uncomfortable aspects of parenting, I remind myself of what I am really trying to teach here: Life Skills. Which is what we all do as parents. In our vastly different approaches, I think that most of us have similar goals.


Part of our current approach to getting Bubbles to use speech spontaneously, is to use a procedure I mentioned previously called Constant Time Delay (CTD). Initially, it had the efffect of making him dissolve into a heap of screams and flailing limbs. It was too much; we backed off and worked on other procedures which would lead up to success with CTD.
He will now parrot almost any word that we ask him to, merely by prompting him, "Say____"
And he will!
This is where the compliance in the three-step procedure (tell, show, do) is integral to the success of speech therapy. Even with a background in child development and early childhood education, even I had to wrap my brain around the concept of language as behavior. My husband also had a hard time at first; "I thought we were trying to teach him how to talk! What's up with all the 'do this, do that'?"
Have you ever tried to get a resistant two year old to say something just by asking or telling them to? I could ask my daughter to say almost anything at all and she would, but language was easy for her and therefore rewarding and fun. Did I do anything differently with Bubbles? Not consciously. In fact, Bubbles was probably exposed to more language than Supergirl, simply because of the greater number of people in the home talking to him. But Bubbles is not Supergirl, and I respect that this is a struggle for him. I feel it is my job to help him access language. Which is why I sought the help of experts who are willing to share their knowledge.
If you tell a two year old to say 'tree', and they don't say 'tree', or even 'tuh', then how are you going to do speech therapy? But if you can get a child to comply, because he realizes that this is what is expected of him, then there is a far better chance on working on the articulation of 'tree'.
This started with directed play (put the car with car puzzle, put the block on top the block, etc), moved into more specific directions (touch head, touch tummy, pat chair, etc), and then moved pretty quickly into "Say ______".
And he says it.
When we first started using this, he went nuts at the first sign of me saying the word 'Say'! I thought we were doomed. I understood the method behind it, but I still thought we were doomed. They don't know how stubborn he is, I thought.
Oh yes. They did.
Oh yes, I thought, this is why I called in the experts.
We made it through this battle of wills. And when he realized that he wouldn't get juice without saying some approximation of juice, guess what? He said "Juh." (Hope that didn't scar him forever.) And, in addition to him being able to respond to 'Say_____', we get the added benefit of good behavior and excellent listening.

So now that Bubbles has more or less mastered the skills of compliance and imitation, it is time to move on to new skills: Spontaneous use of language, making requests on his own. So, we are back to implemeting CTD. When he comes to ask for juice (or milk, or goldfish, or to go outside, to jump on the trampoline, to go to Hawaii right now, etc...), I will not respond to any non-verbal requests, except with CTD, with the goal of eliciting a verbal request from him.

At first, when Bubbles would want something, we used the traditional first step of

  1. getting in between him and the object of desire, looking questioningly at Bubbles, without saying the words 'what do you want', and raising our hands in a questioning gesture. But Bubbles has become such a good imitator, that he will just look at us questioningly, raise his hands, and copy our expression. So now we just look at him with a more subtle questioning look - but if I cock my head to one side, he will do the exact same thing. So a big part of the first step for us, is to not completely crack up.
  2. After ten (very long) seconds, I would hold up the juice and say, "Say juh", giving him a partial approximation of the word I am looking for, and wait ten more (very longer) seconds for him to offer the correct word.
  3. When he does not say more than 'juh' after ten seconds, I hold up the juice again, and ask him to, "Say juice."
  4. I wait ten seconds more for him to say juice, and if he does not say it,
  5. I prompt him with, "Bubbles, what do you want? SAY JUICE." and wait for ten seconds. If he says it, he gets the juice. If not, he does not get the juice, and we
  6. Start over.

Eventually (and I hope quickly; stay tuned), he will realize that just walking up to me and saying "JUICE" is really going to be far more efficient and satisfying, as well as the most direct route to getting the juice.
For anyone who is concerned that ABA does not show respect for a child, does not allow them input and choices and independence and worth, and essentially creates trained monkeys, you are sadly mistaken and uninformed. As we are newbies to this science, I am going to suggest that the concept is most eloquently explained by this anonymous commenter (to whom I wish I could give credit):

"Quality ABA is all about respect and teaching the child in a way that they are successful by breaking down skills and contriving siutations so they are better able to express themselves. By simply "showing respect" to children in need of this type of intervention, a child would be denied the right to learn..."

See? I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My Monkey Chatters

"I BOOK! I READ!! BYE BYE!"

Is what I woke up to the other day, when I realized that the gate that always keeps the early rising toddler upstairs and in our room, was wide open. I was fighting waking up, but the mama's third eye sensed an escape in progress and I bolted up and asked where he thought he was going. He popped up from the third step and shouted the above explanation - the longest so far - back to me. This? Is. Huge. Took me a moment to realize I was really awake and hearing that.

Progress.

A few nights ago, I wanted to keep Bubbles focused on his dinner for a few moments longer.
[For the record, not one of my children has ever been interested in food or ingesting it, unless it is infused or coated with sugar (okay, Elijah just opened up his mouth and swallowed, but not happily), and raising children who inherently dislike food will lead you to do extraordinary things to keep them at the table so their pediatricians will not report you for malnourishing them. My mother claims that this is adequate and expected payback for my many years of (I am very embarrassed to admit) being a verrrrry stubborn anorexic]


After he asked for some approximation of 'water' (oh no, nothing comes for free anymore in the land of ABA and speech therapy!), I gave Bubbles a ceramic mug with a ceramic frog inside of it. The frog is part of the mug. Bubbles took one look inside that mug and stopped mid-air as he was trying to vault himself over his high chair. He sat back down, looked in the mug and looked at me with a very serious and disturbed expression. (Not being a big talker has made him drama king of the expressions.)
I told him to have a drink of water from the mug. He looked at me like I had just handed him a live chicken and told him to bite the head off. (He is more of a beef-eater, so obviously, he would never, ever do that.)




"Go on, have a drink of water."
"OHNO!" he cried. His words were suddenly unleashed:
"OHNO! ISS IT? ISS IT? A FOGK!! ISISSTUCK!!! I DOHNNO! I DOH WANNIT! OHNO! A FOGK! I DOHNNO! ISISSTUCK! OHNO!"

I had two thoughts simultaneously:
A) Quick! Grab the camera!
and,
B) Dude, you are so busted.

In response to Thought A, I did. And I shot about 8 seconds of footage before he saw the camera and did his usual 'Is all done?' and reached for the camera to see the footage I had just shot. Kids today and their digital little impatient minds.
And in response to Thought B? Clearly, this little guy has been holding back.

video

I know that articulation is hard for him; he actually knows that too. Which is why he is so great at communicating non-verbally. He knows that helping himself to a cup, then grabbing my hand and leading me to the fridge so that he may point at the juice, is the fastest way to get juice.
Saying 'juice' is not easy for him. He may say 'juh', but even he knows that I could interpret that as a few different requests, such as 'jump' or ' I wanna go to Hawaii, let's go!'. He knows that even we cannot understand him well, and watching him put so much effort into being understood at once breaks my heart and warms it.


AKU AKU!! AKU AKU!!
For weeks. AKU! AKU! Okay dude, we have no idea what you are saying but erm, oKAY! Eating breakfast? AKU AKU! Bathtime? AKU! Go to the store? AKU AKU! AKU AKU! Finally, last week on our little retreat, at breakfast; AKU AKU!! But we? We are smart. Because this time he had a little tiny spiral bound notebook and a crayon in his hands. Dh got it first, "Oh wow - he has been really into that blue dog amateur detective show lately. A CLUE! A CLUE!!"
We finally got one.



He has made huge strides with the principle of following instructions. I have to say, as parents, we thought we had covered this. We even thought we were rather strict, or so others would tell us. But when we started ABA, people thought it was 'too harsh' or 'over the top' - because getting your children to follow instructions when you tell them to is just as awful as raising a trained monkey, you know. It started with the three step. Tell, show, do.


  1. Bubbles, put the toy in the basket. (wait 3-5 seconds before moving onto step 2 if necessary)

  2. Bubbles, put the toy in the basket like this. (show him exactly what I want him to do, and wait 3-5 seconds before moving onto step 3 if necessary)

  3. Bubbles, put the toy in the basket. (using his hand, guide him to put the toy in the basket.)

Repeat as necessary. This seemed extreme to onlookers, and tedious to us at first, but very quickly we saw results. Bubbles, like most children, does not like the third step. He does not like to be physically made to do something. However, because Bubbles' mama is still smarter and bigger than he is, she let him know right away that this was not optional.



Oh, the tantrums. We went from bad to worse. But that was such a short week, I can barely remember it. At least not once I saw him decide to 'put the toy in the basket' on the first step. Fine, lady, just don't friggin pick my hand up and make me do it. Happy? Suddenly he was putting away toys whenever asked. One or two reminders and then you can leave him to complete the task. And he will.

Threw a bowl of cereal on the floor? Out of the high chair, onto the floor for some three-step cleaning up. Would it have been faster to sweep? Hell yes! Did he clean every single piece of cereal up? Hell yes! Has he thrown his bowl of food since then? Hell no.

We were leaving a friend's house with many many trains. It was sad to hear it was time to go, especially when more than forty thomas and friends engines had been connected on the track. Bubbles cried, "No, no no! NO GO!" And I went over to him and opened the box for the trains and told him to put them away. He stopped his tantrum, and started to put the trains away, one by one, all the while crying about it, but never stopping until the trains were all put away. He amazed and was praised by everyone there. The other day at costcow, he wanted to walk instead of ride in the cart. At costcow, where you will get mowed down by a cart if you are shorter than 3 feet! I told him that he would have to hold my hand or the cart. "Do you understand that you have to hold on?"

"YESH!" (I love how he says that)

And the amazing part? HE DID. He did for the remainder of our shopping expedition, which included about 4 more aisles. He never once let go. He is two.

So yeah, now the tables have turned.

Whoa! He just came downstairs when you called him? I gotta get me some of that ABA! Does it work on teenagers? That boy is the best listener! What a sweetie!

We're working on the six year old; I still have hope for her because she is still malleable, and also still driven by incentives and deterred by consequences. Seriously she is awesome, but she could use a little three-step guidance in her clean-up skills.

And what I have to say to those families who think I am training a monkey, but from my perspective, are being railroaded and directed by their children while their 'progressive' parents sip tea and talk about respect and choices, and child-led parenting (oh yes, it is a term):

fuck off PPPPPPPLLLLLLLBBBBBBBBTTTTTTHHHH!!!!!!!!!

If my toddler runs out of the park and towards the calliope sounds of the ice cream truck and does not see the oncoming car? When he hears me bellow, "COME HERE RIGHT NOW!" , the odds are extremely in my favor, that he will.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

I am special got lucky

Why do I feel special right now?

Because I applied for, and received, a coveted BlogHership.

Dude, it's true. If you go to BlogHer conference in San Francisco this summer, you will have a very good chance of running into me. Looking more official than you. Because my extra speshool nametag will make me so. Somehow. I imagine. You know.
I'm all backstage.

Look babes*, I staffed Neil Young and Rolling Stone concerts.
I may be working the registration table. Don't think you will get in without a pass. I can be formidable.

I'm not sure what in my pleas application email scored me the job, but it may have had something to do with my proclamations of being way more than bossy enough to be a mic runner/time keeper. *snap*
Or maybe it was my demanding super nice tone that suggested that I am talkative, nosy friendly enough to be of indispensable help at the registration desk. *delivery of schwag*
Not sure what it was, but you can be sure that, if you are checking in at BlogHer and I am the one to register you, I will be extremely friendly and as helpful as I can be. (no matter what you may have read about me, I swear I can be.) (seriously) (first 50 get cupcakes!!)
You can also start forming your thoughts concisely and nicely. Because if I am a mic runner in your session, then I am FAST, and I am BOSSY and I will take that mic away from you if your time is up. Unless you are on some courageous mission. In which case you will get an extra ten seconds.

But one thing is for sure, I am going to BlogHer 'o8.


*oh yes, and you too, Guy Kawasaki. I will be totally looking for you. So I can deliver a two year old hug to you.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cheated

Today I feel crappy. I would love to write about Bubbles' progress and the work we have been doing with him. I really would. And also about my Big News that makes me feel just a little bit special.

But that will have to wait.
Because today I am having one of those 'it's not fair' days. And feeling ripped-off. And feeling damn angry at the pediatrician. Because, lets face it, she is the easiest one to blame. And truthfully, she does deserve some of it.
While we were agonizing over the decision to pursue a lawsuit or not, one of my friends (who happens to be an attorney) pointed out that I, myself, had expressed fear that Elijah would not live a long life.
It's true.
From the beginning, I hated it when nurses in the NICU called him an angel, an name that came out easily when they saw his true halo of platinum curls, his cherubic face, his startlingly mellow disposition. "He's such an angel!"
I would frown. No, not an angel. A real boy. Like Pinocchio.
Not an angel. My baby. My son. My boy.
Flesh and blood, see?
Not an angel.

I remember that Christmas with him so well (there was just that one). He was thrilled by all of the lights of the holiday; eyes twinkling, always gazing at the lights and singing to the fairies that danced around them.
I took him to the church (in which I had grown up) midnight service on Christmas Eve. It makes my mom so happy, and I love my mom, so yes - I go to church then. Plus, I love the music.
Elijah loved every bit of it; the smells of incense, the sounds of the pipe organ and choir, the gazing at the beautifully painted cathedral ceiling. When my mother and I sang the carols, he sang along. But when the entire congregation sang Silent Night, a capella, I was holding him in my hands, with his feet against my heart, facing me. His face just shone in the candlelight, his hair was indeed a halo, his eyes glittered with the knowing of a thousand bodhisattvas, and 'sleep in heavenly peace...' came out as a bit of a choked sniffle for me; I blinked once and the tears just started flowing. I looked over at my mother. She was also singing to Elijah, and she was also crying. I wondered how many Christmases we would have together. I knew in my heart there would not be many, if any, more. But who wants to listen to their heart say stupid shit like that?
Maybe a year later, I asked my mom if she remembered that, and asked her what she was thinking. I knew the answer.


Every specialist we saw at the Ivory Tower hospital would marvel over how different! and special! and tiny! and adorable! our little mystery boy was. They took every opportunity to point out his anomalies and how they just didn't add up to any syndrome for which they had a name. They talked at length about his delays and deficits; it got to be quite tiresome, so I would go in there saying, "I know what he is supposed to be doing, let's talk about what he is doing."
There were never any answers. (I realized later, that this was due largely in part to the fact that the doctors at Ivory Tower never actually communicate with each other or actually take any sort of academic interest in your child, even if they are a head-scratching mystery. Their approach is more along the lines of: 'If I can't diagnose it, then there is no need to discuss this further. I want diagnoses! Not the inability to give one!')
But to every single specialist, I would ask the same question.
"I understand that you don't have any diagnosis for my son, but do you have any reason to believe that Elijah will die at a young age?"
The answer was invariably the same.
"No, we have no reason to believe this."
Even when I told the Dr. Asshat neurologist that I was concerned about his lable of microcephaly, and wouldn't that alone be a reason to believe he would die at a young age, he dismissed it with,
"No, we have no reason to believe this."
Of course, almost all real information about microcephaly will tell you that the life expectancy for a person with this diagnosis is significantly shortened.
Also, two other doctors who saw Elijah after this dx (a geneticist, and an infant development specialist) disagreed with and recinded that lable, as his head was in proportion to his body. There was some space between his brain and skull that apparently should not have been there, but everything about him was proportional - for a two or three month old baby rather than an eight month old baby.

I kept asking. I asked his pediatrician about ten times while he was alive, and again after he died. She always said that there was no indication.
I begged her to share with me, after he died, if there was no indication, was there perhaps an intuition? I was desperate for her to say yes. It would have helped to explain the lack of interest by all those specialists, though it also would have made me wonder at the lack of urgency in getting him into each one of those specialty clinics (lost cause?). She said no.
Once, at an appointment with a geneticist, she asked me why I asked that question about his life expectancy. I actually teared up when I told her that I was afraid that he would die young. Her response?
"Maybe we should take another look at him in a year. Let's set up an appointment for next September."
Seriously. Every word, true.

In spite of all my fears, I never, ever thought that it would be only 13 months and 11 days.
So, when I was in turmoil over the lawsuit decision, and my friend reminded me that, if I chose to pursue this, I would be required to defend his (quality of) life in general, as he was a 'special needs' child, and that I had spoken about my fearful intuition openly, I responded thusly:

If your four year old daughter is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer,
and you had no idea how much longer she had to live, and on the way home from
the grocery store, your car is struck by a person who made a poor decision
and is driving drunk, and your daughter is killed, then is her life not worth
fighting for? Is your anger unfounded? Should you not feel like you
have been cheated out of time and handed the biggest rip-off in the history of
motherhood?



I feel cheated today.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Seven Lame Things, plus bonus features

How lucky can a girl get? I clicked over at Laura's blob and she has made a huge contribution to the world today. Asking us to name seven things that are lame.
I know, just seven, quit yer bitching.
As you know, listing lame things is a specialty of mine.



  1. Only 24 hours. Really? The best you can do? Cause, I don't know about you, but I am not getting shit done.
  2. Pooping with an audience. For reals.
  3. Dead babies. Oh come on. You knew I was going to put that one, right?
  4. Oil company profits.
  5. Non-working parents who do not help in the classroom, ever.
  6. Parents who do not enforce limits. (hello, future!)
  7. Too many to end at seven? ME TOO!!!!

If you are reading this, please consider yourself tagged.

You can consider this the best tag ever.

Leave a link in the comments.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Moms Gone To Bed Early Wild!

WTF was I thinking? Not ever having had the wimmens out overnight before? Really. Smack me if I go another year six months without doing that again.
Also? If I ever plan to do that awesome, lovely, fun, wild, gentle wimmens overnight out again right before a train wreck sort of day like Elijah's birthday? So that everyone actually leaves on the day before or of that suckass day? Smack me. Really fucking hard.
Harder. (not like that, you toad; scrape your mind out of the freaking pond scum)
Aside from that one little 'great in theory' , 'sucks ass in reality' planning glitch following the fabulous evening, the night itself was really was more giddy girl fun than I've had since childbirth (no seriously, those were some incredible drugs I got with the last one.).

As I was packing, dh asked why I needed to prepare so much food. Weren't we going out to eat?
(sigh) I am a patient woman. So I explained it like this:
Your people? You go out and hike around all afternoon in search of the perfect location in which to view the sunset. And then you trudge back through the darkness to scrounge for food because nothing is left or nothing is open.
My people? We are different. We may hike around a bit, but many of us have been chasing after children all day. Moving is not a priority, nor is moving particularly fast or 'covering ground'. We realize that the sunset is coming, we organize ourselves around this event, and we commence the sitting and the drinking and the talking. A little ways into this ritual, one of us mentions that we should probably eat, and we all agree! Then we eat the food.
See the difference?


So, on with the wimmens....

Per previous discussion of the ashes, if there was any question, I did not bring Elijah's ashes because:
A) I did not trust myself to not be inappropriately spontaneous, and
B) I think that 'you' are right. I am not ready yet. We can do this next week, month, year...but we can't get them back if we are not ready.


There was no 'ashes viewing', though there was a good amount of womanly hugging and jostling about for who would spoon with whom.


There was some showing off (while in some goddamn hot heeled boots, BTW) by blogging yogi friend, with whom all my other friends fell in love and demanded to know why they had not met her before. Now I fear they will steal her from me. Really, she is that nice.




There was some Ass Sitting by yours truly who is not a yoga goddess like her friends and not limber in any way, unless you count how well I can keep a toddler from running into a parking lot while also blocking an entire grocery cart of food from running into your car, in which case I am extremely flexible.

note my fabulous ensemble of earth tones+the red silk 'I'm so special' scarf'+ purple uggish boots.


There were 'no phones' (scoff! land lines!) but we had more than a reasonable number of laptops and iPhones.



There was a sunset dinner at a diner with a sunset view.





And yes, there was much debauchery and much unbloggable riotousness, most of it whilst sitting on our asses. There was talk of walking to the beach. There was serious discussion of a very short hike. But we all were apparently very Ass Sitting deficient, because this is what we chose to do.
Until, that is, someone who was in our group (who shall remain nameless to protect her job), closed down the hottub by kicking out all of the German tourists at 10:05 (hey, it says right on the brochure that it closes at 10!) so that we could all get in. Without any need for bathing suits.
Because, you know. It was closed.
(no, there are no pictures of the previous activity.)
And then we all went to sleep. By midnight.
Really.
(I know, lame lame. but sleep holds higher value for most mamas than post-midnight activities)




The next morning we had a fabulous breakfast (okay, the food was mediocre but the view was great!) and tons of coffee and more Ass Sitting. Only three of us remained by noon, and I was about to go get a massage at 1:30. Two of us took a walk while the BOS had her massage. It was an amazingly clear day. Freakishly windy, but that's what brings the clear. Looking out at the ocean beyond his beach, I started to feel very sad. That unmistakable bubble in the throat that threatens to rise up and create a flood if the wrong thing - or anything - is said. Or thought. Or touched. And my friend was about to leave, about to go home, and somehow she knew that she shouldn't go just yet. I didn't want to be alone just then in between the leaving and the coming in of people. But I am not one to say that out loud. And glad that I didn't need to.
She stayed a bit longer.


Then, I just started to stress about - get this! - getting the massage. I personally, am not a huge fan of paying a stranger to press and knead away at my flesh, but I do think it is a Good Idea, and at times it can feel good and be helpful. Or even be super awesome and addicting. Maybe I love the idea of getting a massage more than I like the massage? Maybe it is just that the last massage I got was when I was pregnant with Bubbles, and we could say that it was slightly traumatic. Or that it sucked. We could say that. I am not anti-massage. I just am anti-massage by strangers, I guess. After the last time, it seemed too much to risk. Which I didn't realize until a half an hour before the appointment.

But there was that lump, and the tears were just so very close to the surface. And if you dented into me, they may have spilled out. And not have stopped for some time. And I am not willing to go there with a stranger. That's not how I roll.
I can bare my soul here on the internets; but I can't cry in front of strangers. Not for more than a potential moment. And certainly not for possibly an entire hour.

So when my friend asked me if it was easier for me to hold it in or to release it, I blinked and then could not even hold back the smallest of floods. She graciously canceled the appointment for me, but I was horribly embarrassed, canceling an appointment less than 1/2 hour before I was to show. Eventually, she had to leave and I had to recover.
The BOS was finished with her massage and then we headed for the hot tub. We were the only ones there except for one other woman, whom the BOS introduced to me as the massage therapist (umm yes, that would be the very same one who I had stood up). (gulp)
She was very kind, not letting on at all that I had essentially stiffed her out of an hour's work.

After that, the BOS and I took a walk through a crazy field of poison oak (carved path)

over the dunes to this beach, just north of Elijah's beach, and it is HUGE and lovely and wide and long and very blustery.





There wasn't much time for wallowing after that, because someone found out that their key opened nearly all of the tent cabins, so of course we had to go exploring.

What key?







It didn't suck.