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June 2008
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August 2008

A Beginning? Keep your fingers crossed!

(Not to distract from the topic at hand, but this is my 500th post!)

I’ve been in my cave this week, so to speak, but I’m ready to poke my nose out and growl.  (Nice growling, though. Growling to start conversations, not end them).  For those of you who have read my blog for a while you know that we were having issues with Chance (you can read about them here, here and here, and even some here).  Well, we’ve had some developments recently.

Right before I went to BlogHer, we made the decision to pull Chance out of preschool for the rest of the summer session.  Basically, he was still biting; not all the time but it was still enough that we decided a break was needed.  A break would give me more time to get assessments done and/or work with him on specific issues, and a break for him from the place where he kept getting in trouble (although he did NOT want to leave school).  He continues to be more physically rough, more active, less focused than the kids around him.  (We also have a vacation planned so it just made sense to pull him out.)  

This has been a long road to get assessments done.  I’ve been working on this process since February.  I was getting a lot of feedpushback and random advice, the two most frustrating being “just wait until he’s older,” and “read this parenting book.”  (This from professionals, some of them who hadn’t even seen Chance.)  It’s not as if I wasn’t open to trying different methods – I read the books, I implemented some of that advice – but a lot of it just didn’t feel right.  For example, people advised that I give Chance something to do every single day to “burn off energy”, when my instinct (and experience) was that he would get increasingly wound up if he didn’t have “downtime” days.  When I talked about how Chance always wanted to be on top of people, the advice I got was “just don’t ever let him climb on you and he’ll learn,” when my instinct was telling me that he somehow needed that physical touch.  Although it was suggested that I do hearing and/or speech screenings, when I asked about other sensory processing issues I got pushback.  Frankly, I needed some help (now, not six months from now) and my gut said some form of physical therapy.

A couple of weeks ago I said fuck it and I found a place that would do both speech and occupational (physical) screenings.  It was private and out of pocket, but waiting for referrals or help from the school district was getting ridiculous.

Chance had his assessments yesterday.  The therapists immediately could see, and point out, behaviors leading to the issues we’ve been having with him.  Suddenly, things we didn’t understand made a lot more sense.  Chance is showing symptoms of apraxia and dyspraxia, which are problems with motor-planning.  Essentially, when a person wants to move their body: 1) you get the idea of moving, 2) you plan the movement, and 3) you do the movement.  People who are dyspraxic get stuck at the planning movement stage and need a little extra time for the thought process.  Apraxia is similar but has to do with verbal motor planning, trying to get the words out.  Chance also seems to be hyper-aware of sound and it’s distracting the hell out of him.  The confusion of trying to process everything can cause a lot emotional buildup, anxiety or lashing out. 

Finally feedback that felt right.  Or at least a lot closer to what could work than anything before.  There have been a lot of communication disconnects between what I hear people say about Chance and what I observe.  For example, his school would tell me he can’t do such and such, when I would see him do such and such all the time at home.  The apraxia accounts for when he doesn’t respond to questions or instructions or when he sometimes avoids eye contact when you’re talking to him; he understands everything but he needs the extra time to process.  He could learn something at school and not do it there at all, but come home and do it perfectly.  Chance has problems with “on demand” instructions or requests, both physically and verbally.  This can also mean difficulty with group play.  

As for his activity level and rough playing, the occupational therapist pointed out that kids with these issues sometimes run around "wild" because running around is either easier than the processing or gives them time to process.  Chance seeks out a lot of physical contact because it helps him "ground" himself, releasing physical and emotional energy.  The biting was/is an unfortunate component of that. (Everyone who has ever observed him has said that his aggressive behavior never seemed vindictive, but like "he couldn't help himself".)

The apraxia/dyspraxia is not a definitive “diagnosis” by any means, but I feel like these are elements that we can specifically address that may help get our arms around his behavior.  We will be doing speech and occupational therapy and I have high hopes.

So that’s where we’re at.  Having a plan in place, hearing specific targeted techniques…this feels so much better than reading another book*.  

-         the weirdgirl

P.S. I went to the Parents of Children with Special Needs panel at BlogHer ’08 and I felt a lot of love and support from that community, especially being a “newbie” to this process.  I’ve also spoken to and asked advice from other blogging parents out there.  Your stories and encouragement mean a lot.  Thank you.

*Though, yes, I will be reading Out of Sync Child.


Continuity

Playing cars with my son.  The cars are at preschool (The King is the teacher!) when Chance decides that it's also a theme day.

Chance:  "OK, evewybody, it's 'jama day!"

Me (always a little slower to catch on):  "What?  Oh, it's Pajama Day?  OK.  Is everybody in their pajamas?"

Chance:  "No!  Evewybody put on!"  (starts "changing" each individual car)  "Put on jama shirt... put on jama pants... put on jama wheels..."


Domestic Greenery (in more ways than one)

(I’ve been meaning to write for days. Do you ever get in that groove where you have so many things you want to talk about it you can’t start?  Yeah, that’s where I’ve been.)

So… I don’t know if any of you have noticed… but did you know that gas prices have gotten really high?  No, really!  That and groceries.  Creep creep creep.  To the extent that we, like many families, are muttering, “Crap, we gotta watch what we’re spending.”  

We’re doing the usual… cutting shopping trips and eating out, avoiding unnecessary driving, etc.  BUT me being the child of hippies who both were into “back to nature” activities (i.e. growing food, raising chickens, preparing everything from scratch,) and were always preparing for nuclear annihilation (storing EVERYTHING) my survivalist tendencies also start kicking in.

Hey!  If we’re gonna save money, I’m gonna save us money!  (Maybe that’s a tad wee bit of the type A thing kicking in, too, I don’t know.)

I find myself going back to the techniques my parents used.  I’ve always been a gardener but usually I buy my few tomato plants every year and then I load up on flowers.  (Because flowers are pretty!)  This year, especially with having a new backyard to play with, I’m attempting to put in an edible garden.  I’ve been planting a lot more herbs, edible flowers, and veggies.  I’ve been stock piling seeds (especially cool heirlooms veggies or hard-to-find greens).  The non-edible flowers I’ve put in have been either ones that bring in pollinators or ones like Echinacea and chamomile that can serve double-duty. (For, you know, if I ever need to process my own tea.  (I never said these tendencies were rational.))  I’ve been looking for ways to start composting and putting in water buckets.  There’s been a big movement towards locally-grown food around here and I’m happy to try my hand at it.  I’m getting all green up in this joint! 

AND for the first time since I was a kid, I made my own jam! 

No biggie, right?  This is the kind of thing my parents did all the time.  Canned all their veggies, made jam, ground up wheat for fucking flour, made their own tofutti, and on and on.  Lots of people do it (well, maybe not the tofutti part).  But you gotta understand, I don’t consider myself to be the most domesticated woman around.  Because… uh, let’s see… I don’t cook, I have a cleaning service, I’m crafty but I suck at sewing, and I have NO family photo albums organized.  I don’t even own a cute apron (which even I am a little appalled at… ‘cause have you seen those ones at Anthropologie?!).  I’m pretty sure that means I fail the basic domestic diva exam. 

And the truth is, I don’t really like a lot of traditional domestic crap.  I hate cooking.  I don’t want to scrapbook.  Cleaning bathrooms suck.  Things need to be done so I do them, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.  I do like to bake (because eating baked goods rocks), and I like painting rooms or digging in the dirt or building stuff.  But those bigger, physical activities are a far cry from, say, getting my jollies off polishing the silver.

Despite all that I am feeling proud about the jam.  I made apricot-plum and white nectarine-plum jam.  They taste awesome!!  (I’m kind of blown away.)  Basically, I spent about $30 in supplies ($20 of that a one time cost for the jars) and I made 18 jars of jam.  (Do you know how much it would cost to buy 18 jars of jam at the grocery store?)      

I’m already thinking about trying to can some tomatoes if I get enough.  Maybe freeze some bush beans. 

This type of domesticity is kind of a (scary) shift for me.  But, if prices keep going up, I predict we’re going to see a lot more people going farm-esque DIY.  

All I need now are a couple of chickens.  (not)    

               - the weirdgirl

P.S. It's salt to my chafing domesticity that G.W. Bush would approve of me taking on a more traditional family role, when it's his economy that is forcing me to take on a more traditional role.  If he had any brains I'd think that was his whole plan from the beginning. "We'll just devalue the American dollar until all the women stay home in the kitchen like God meant them to."  Bastard.

But I still love my jam.


Everyone I Met

This is my THIRD attempt to write this post.  Yesterday Word flipped out on me and by the time I found time to write again I... ahem... I fell asleep.  A second attempt was met with another Word barf!  (Bite me, Norton SystemsWorks.)

Anyway, more BlogHer '08 stuff.  I just thought it was a really nice gesture from the people last year (and this year) who took the time to list who they met and I wanted to do the same.  It makes you feel good about the world when you meet such great people (an antidote to watching the news every night).

Forgive me for not printing everyone's real name.  Really, I know your names.  However, my readers, some of which did not get to go to BlogHer, may not but I betcha they'll know your blogs.  Plus, my fingers were getting tired typing.  In no particular order...

Spinning Yellow - I spent more time with Lori (because she's awesome!) than any other person at the conference and I can't believe it took me a whole week to realize I left her off this list!  I'm such a dork.  Sorry, Lori!

Katin Miller
Squid Rosenberg
Send Chocolate
Liz Henry!  (I always think of Liz Henry with an exclamation point. I don't know why.)
Ms. Adventures in Italy 
A Mommy Story
Mom Without A Map 
The Lemonade Stand, also at roseslife.blogspot.com
Amalah
Jenny on the Spot 
Living in the Tension 
Rockin Mama
Friday Playdate 
Aviva, Be Yourself. On Purpose 
Lesbian Dad
Shannon Sez So 
Geek Mommy 
Califmom 
Sarah and the Goon Squad 
Oh, The Joys 
Love Babz, also at The Pussy Chats
i am bossy 
WhyMommy, also at Mothers With Cancer
Zip 'n' Tizzy
The Mummy Chronicles, also at Flaming Tulle
Stimeyland 
The Karianna Spectrum 
Mom O Matic 
Of... the Princess and the Pea 
Marie Millard 
Forging Ahead 
Preteens, Toddlers and Newborns, Oh My!
Jenny Lauck, Three Kid Circus 
Not Just a Working Mom 
Mother Proof
A Boomer's Life After 50 
Queen of Spain
Nested 
Mom-101
Motherhood Uncensored
Mommy Needs a Cocktail
Her Bad Mother
The Hot Mommas Project
and finally... Eve - (I don't have your blog, my dear, just your twitter!)

If I missed anyone please yell at me in the comments and I will add you.  I confess I was not (drunk) always (drunk) myself (drunk).  I also met a whole bunch of people from very interesting companies, of which I am still visiting.

I actually have more to share from BlogHer (because of course, I have opinions!) but right now I must attend to the care of my child.  Update later.  I promise not to be too wordy.

Are you all BlogHer'd out yet?         - the weirdgirl


BlogHer ’08 and the Twitter Pushers

Here I am cruising confidently into the BlogHer conference thinking, “I was a BlogHer freshman last year, but I’m an old pro at this now.  I know what it’s ALL about!”  Pat pat knowing smirk pat.  (Check for lipstick on the teeth, smooth hair.)

Well, it turns out I didn’t know what it was all about, little naïve me, because everywhere I turned I encountered…

“Do you twitter?  Are you tweeting?  You better twitter that.”

My steps faltered.  “Um… no, I’m not… uh.”

And then, “WHY aren’t you on twitter?!”

I admit, it caught me completely off guard.  Sort of like I had walked into a church youth group meeting to find everyone smoking out.  Sure twitter was the new thing… mysterious, popular, a little edgy… but also a bit decadent.  Maybe even illicit… in a will-be-eventually-banned sort of way.  (And let’s face it, the term “tweets” just sounds dirty.)  Here I was at BlogHer, wandering the halls in search of a fresh cup of tea between sessions on open source and mommy blogging, being pushed into iniquitous web 2.0 services.

“You NEED to get on twitter!  Trust me, you’ll try it and love it.” 

I heard it so many times I started mumbling, “No thanks, I don’t use,” as I nervously scanned the rooms for the sudden appearance of someone’s dad, come to break up the party. 

And then I heard, somewhere along the way, “You can just use the weirdgirl. Well, you know, if your name isn’t already taken…”

Wait, was my name already taken?  I had to go look.  Just a quick look.  Whenever I ran across anyone else using “weirdgirl” on the web, it was usually a preteen in another country or a “naughty” site.  I just wanted to check.  You know, for my reputation.  It’s only one time.

And next thing I know I’m on twitter.   (BlogHer is such a bad influence.  I hear there’s an afterschool special coming out about them soon.)

So… do you twitter?          - wg


So guess where I am right now?

On my couch.  And it feels soooooooo good!  Yeah, most of the gals (and some guys) are still partying it up over at BlogHer; maybe doing an after-reception party or dinner, or just trying to recuperate in their hotel room.  But me?  I am cushing in my sweet old butt groove.  (Yeah, I just made up the word "cushing".)

There's a point where you want to meet EVERYONE at BlogHer and "make the most of" the experience and do everything that you can.  But there is also a point where you are just done for the day.  (Love you all still!   Smooches!)  And regardless that last year it was great for me to get away on that first alone trip to do my own thing... this year, it felt great to just get in my car and go home!

Oh, the loving embrace of my couch!  How tenderly the remote snuggles in my palm!

I know you BlogHers are all secretly jealous.

Anyway, I'm back.  Lots to process, interesting sessions, cool people, blah blah blah.  More on that later.  Right now I'm busy being comfy.            - wg


I should probably be blogging about BlogHer…

…but I saw The Police in concert last night and you know what?!  It was SWEET!!  With Elvis Costello opening no less.  Yep, him and Sting sang “Allison” together.  Swww-eeeeet!  Oh, and apparently I’ve turned into one of those band geeks who stares at the drummer for the entire show (or whatever the 37-year-old equivalent of that would be).  Stewart Copelanddude!  

Aren’t I incredibly eloquent?

Flogging Molly and Ludo are also playing a free local show this week.  One of those music in the park deals.  The show is early enough that I’m planning on taking Chance, along with my good friend.   I love taking Chance to rock shows.  He loves music and I always get a kick out of his reaction.  It’s just a matter of keeping up with him on foot.  (He’s always trying to rush the stage.)

Anyway, that show is Thursday night so even though I’m excited about BlogHer, there’s a lot of cool stuff this week. 

Speaking of chick stuff, I must be walking around barefoot or in open-backed shoes a little too much lately ‘cause, I’m not sure why, but the shoes I put on to attend The Police concert totally ripped open blisters on the back of my feet.  I was all bloody!  Didn’t notice anything except for a twinge (now that’s a mark of a woman who’s gone through labor, eh?) but I looked down and there were my feet bleeding.  (Still totally danced and hiked the miles-long parking lot, though.)   So, contrary to the button at your right, this might mean that I may not be rocking BlogHer in cute shoes!  (Gasp!  Horror!)  If I do wear cute shoes I’ll probably be sporting some Cars bandaids, as well.  Stylish.

I might need to do some creative color-coordinating for that one.

           - wg


Another impromptu (yet unpaid) review

(Why am I not yet raking in the big dough, or at least some free product, with my personal consumer experiences?  Damnit!)

I’m trying out Earthboxes this year for my garden. Every year I grow a few batches of heirloom tomatoes, and this year I’m also doing some peppers and carrots.  My dad always had an organic garden (which back in the day just meant he didn’t spray for bugs and I had to shovel manure) and if you grow up used to the taste of home-grown tomatoes it is awfully hard to switch to store-bought.  (Except, of course, for all those places that are now selling heirlooms… but who wants to pay those prices?!  I’m talking to you Whole Foods with your “on-the-vine” “organic” pricing!  Psshhaw!  I mean, a pack of seeds costs, like, $1.50.)

(Since the economy is still sucking I find I’m having my usual knee-jerk, survivalist reaction, including watching pennies and feeling like I should get in the habit of growing my own food.  Maybe start my own oil refinery, too.)

Anyway, my big dollars went to the Earthboxes this year, thinking if they work out they’ll be a good “investment”.  I bought three of them.  I have two tomato plants each (per the instructions) in two of them, and two pepper plants in another.  In general, the Earthboxes are supposed to increase your yield while saving a ton of water (which appeals to my environmental side, despite the oil refinery comment) and general fuss.   I’ve already bitched about the no fuss once. 

First observation, I am filling the boxes up with water every day, twice a day when it gets really hot (above 90°).  Not the “once every other day” the instructions say.  Second, I figured out right quick these things are not meant to hold two heirloom tomato plants.  Heirloom tomatoes are not generally those neat and tidy plants that you saw for years in gardens everywhere; the Big Boys and the Early Girls, your general Romas.  Heirlooms can be monster plants (which might also be why I’m going through more water).  Observe.

 (NOOO! Don't eat my son!)DSC03085

That being said, the plants DO look beautiful!  They’re huge, and there are a ton of flowers and green tomatoes on them.  Shortly after I took this picture the whole thing fell over (note – next year skip the casters.  Those casters were a little rickety anyway).  I am now holding up this particular planter with a rock.  The other two planters are doing fine so far because the plants are smaller, but I expect to have similar problems with the other tomato plants soon. 

 

DSC03091 with text

For next year, I think I’ll just put in one heirloom plant per Earthbox.  They’re doing a decent job but just don’t seem to have the capacity for the non run-of-the-mill plant varieties.  Be warned. 

             - the weirdgirl

P.S.  I’m growing (just in case you were wondering) one of each of Sun Sugar, Black Cherry, Magnum, Sweet 100, and one I think is a Black Plum.  I had three volunteer tomato plants come up from my garden last year, which I scrambled to put them into other pots I had.  Even the one mature volunteer is a monster.

 

DSC03089 copy

Two of the volunteer tomatoes are too small to even tentatively identify yet.  I don’t remember what the peppers are – they’re for Keen (I don’t eat peppers).  Plus, I have a little garden for Chance with a mix of carrots and flowers. 


And I went down to chicano city park and washed the blues away

Back to that wholesome family-oriented post.

Some of you may be wondering why I suddenly asked you all about the improv posts.  Well, I had a number of things gel for me during our vacation that spurred the question.  The gelling wasn’t focused on blogging, per se, but this blog has ended up being, by the usual cascading effect of life, one of the symptoms of my (healthy or diseased) world. 

If anyone is thinking I’m going to change the direction of this blog, I’m not.  It’s more that I noticed the blog has changed direction on it’s own over time, which should be expected and completely natural.  However, I’ve noticed changes especially in the last year.  Even though I scatter my posts with general goofiness, my writing still tends to reflect my overall mood of what’s going on in life.  Honestly, the last six months + have been really stressful for me and at times depressing.  When I feel stressed and depressed it is very hard for me to write (besides venting), and I felt myself struggling with the blog. 

Because, frankly I was struggling with things in life.

In late June we finally got an initial professional assessment completed for Chance, and after some visits and finishing all the forms, the response back was, “Well, I’m not going to say he has ADHD… but I’m not going to say he doesn’t have ADHD.  Come back in six months.”  Even though we got quite a few helpful recommendations, including one to do counseling that would focus parenting techniques for Chance, I felt like I was in same place I had been six months ago.  Oh, and I got another suggested book to read.

So I took a break.  I was tired of thinking and worrying about it all.  Of planning contingencies all the time.  Of trying to get pregnant (though I’m making my peace with that).  Of feeling guilty because I wasn’t getting more done because I felt too stressed/tired to get anything done.  Our at home vacation was already planned and I just let everything else drop.  Usually when Keen takes time off just to be at home, I’m still working, but we didn’t do that this time.

Keen took the week of July 4th off and I cleared my schedule completely. We had no day-to-day inconveniences to take care of, such as sudden plumbing problems.   Instead we did family outings or lazily watched movies.  I did some gardening (because I find it relaxing).  We played in the sprinklers.  The heat and wildfire smoke cleared out briefly so we had some beautiful days.  On July 4th our neighborhood organized a parade and festival, bringing back a historic tradition for this area.  It was lots of fun. A true old-fashioned parade, with classic cars and kids riding their bikes, a bunch of local organizations and businesses with floats, the high school marching band, everyone waving flags.  And at the festival there was lots of socializing, lots of eating.  Then in the evening we sat on our front porch and watched the only-partially-obstructed view of the city show, and the completely unobstructed view of our neighbors shooting off illegal fireworks in the street.  (I love our neighborhood.)

That week became, truly, a vacation.  I felt much more relaxed than I have in a long time.  We did a lot of activities and, except for a few minor irritations (a.k.a. unnamed older relatives), we enjoyed ourselves as a family.

Over our vacation, I was also reading back through some early posts and I just liked the tone of what I was writing better back then.  Those posts felt happier, more carefree.  Sometimes a bit off the wall, but I like that.  More productively creative, because I do a lot of writing outside of this blog (which I haven’t done lately!). 

I want to get back to that state of mind.  For this blog, for my mental health.  I want the sense of vacation to have a bigger part of my life, even while I’m working.  And one of the ways for me to do that is to write those improv posts.  It’s kind of a reversed creative exercise… usually in writing workshops, when you get stuck they say, “draw from life!” - but instead of always drawing from life, sometimes you can write silly, carefree pieces that have nothing to do with anything, and those in turn help you deal a little better with actual life.  It’s not as if the problems are going to go away, but it’s a small way to detox and unstick the problems.  (We all have our methods.)

Maybe I should start first but not using so many mixed metaphors, eh?

          - the weirdgirl


Questions for my Readers!

Like one of those annoying telephone surveys that obviously is just political propaganda disguised.  But I promise, no politics!  I just have some questions/requests/etc. 

(I’ll get around to that wholesome family-oriented post sometime.  We did have a cool neighborhood parade going on for the 4th.  Pictures!)

Question/Request #1

I’ve been thinking about doing more of the posts I do when I’m stuck, the word improv ones like this and this.  People throw out a few words and I make something up.  Except I might just throw out random fiction every once in a while.  Or make it a regular feature, I don’t know.  What do you all think about that?  Because here’s the thing… I enjoy doing them, it gives me a creative and emotional boost, but I can’t always tell how they’re received.  Are they actually entertaining, or just confusing?

(Of course, I also don’t want a scandal from anyone tweeting that I’m copying other creative individuals who are already writing creative pieces and who are infinitely more popular than I am (I mean, isn’t everybody?).  You know how those popular people are.  Though, for the record, me blog you long time.)  (If you missed that whole scandal… nay, if you don’t even care about that scandal, beyond rolling your eyes… welcome to my world.)

What was I saying?  Oh yeah, so if you could give me a vote in the comments of “YES – I want more creativity!”, or “NO – prop 77 sucks,” or even “You are a weirdo,” that would be super duper cool, thanks. 

Question/Request #2

I would also like to ask for some delurking.  I’m getting a bunch of hits but I don’t know from whom.  Can you stop and say hi?   Curiosity is killing me.  And since we’re getting more warnings of record heat and unhealthy air coming from the wildfires, I should have plenty of time while locked indoors to visit you all back.     

Question/Request #3

Oh, and anyone going to BlogHer?!

          - the weird (desperate) girl