Friday, March 16, 2012

beginning again

To my seven readers:

This is mostly a letter to myself. Please be patient.

I realize that my blog is on the cusp of being defunct. And that is not what I want. This blog started, in earnest, with Benjamin’s birth. When I had Benjamin, it was like someone smashed me in the back of the neck with some bricks. Ben, I am sorry, but that is what it was like. I love you so much I can feel it in my skin; the feeling is something physical that I carry with me. But you were an exhausting, relentlessly screaming infant. And I struggled to find a way to be a mother in my own way, never having really had one myself, and not identifying with those mothers I saw around me, and that was hard. And I wasn’t writing anymore—I was barely combing my hair—so I started this blog as an outlet. Yes, it serves the purpose of updating people and posting photos, but mostly, it is an outlet. When my little Elliott was born, Benjamin was in the midst of many developmental delays, and we were worried. And then as Ben started getting better, Elliott started getting worse, until, finally, he was diagnosed with autism. I have been through many experiences in my life, but that time navigating Ben’s remaining delays and learning to accept Elliott’s emerging ones…that time was a thick fog. It was hard. I gained weight, I got depressed, I viewed things very narrowly. I felt lonely and venomous and uncertain of myself during that time. Some of that is reflected here on this blog. The worst moments were not articulated.

Things are still hard sometimes, and I still worry, but I have come to terms with a lot of things, especially in regard to Elliott. He is starting a general education kindergarten in the fall, which I am nervous about, but, for once, I also see the possibility of him doing okay—which I can’t exactly define—of him having friends (he already has his first one) and being happy. Benjamin is his own little man, the top reader in his class, learning to play piano, a Cub Scout. He has his quirks, and his anxieties. He is unusual, like his mommy and his daddy, but that is to be expected. I feel so fortunate to have these boys who surprise me daily. I know that things can be worse, always, and I am finally beginning to exhale. My friend Michelle says that giving birth splits our bodies open, literally and figuratively, changing us fundamentally. I am beginning to look back at myself and see what I am left with. One thing I am realizing is that I care deeply about writing, and I miss it. This has been thrumming in the background for a while now, and I have been ignoring it.

I have decided to begin writing regularly again, and to start small. I will write at least one entry per week here. It might be about parenting, or it might be about something entirely different. Music, politics, books. Maybe I will post something more creative, something I am working out. In addition to this, a friend has given me some weekly time to write at the PermaDirty artists’ co-op in Claremont. It’s only two hours a week, and this is the third week I’ve been working here. Each week, I walk in exhausted, distracted, resistant. There’s a very small Swedish guy who is always there at the same time I am, mixing music on his laptop. He seems more “artisty” than I will ever be, but I sit down anyway and I type. Two hours later, I exit elated, even last week when most of my writing felt forced and clunky. No internet, no phone. Just writing. I’m working on old projects and new ones, picking my way through the words, slowly.

I was cutting Benjamin’s fingernails yesterday, which I have been doing at least weekly since the day he was born, so it has been seven years. (!) So much of life seems to be upkeep—laundry folding, gas pumping, tooth brushing—and that can be incredibly depressing. But it can also be incredibly reassuring, reaffirming even. Everything is happening outside, but here I am, sitting on the kitchen linoleum, cutting this kid’s fingernails while he chats about Mario and Yoshi and picks the cracker out of his braces with his free hand, the same thing that has happened again and again and again and again. His straw blonde hair is sticking straight up on his head and when I am done, he kisses me with his constantly wet lips and he tells me he loves me. He sits on my legs and relaxes into my body. His head smells like sweat. We begin again next week.

My new blog will be at

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

what it is like

This post captures exactly what it is like to raise a child with special needs. Amazing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

my amazing boys

Just a quick post.

Ben has read so many books that his teacher is tapped out and we need to start buying more books to supplement him for the rest of the year. Ben's becoming more and more of his own person. Gentle, occasionally sulky, bighearted, and eccentric. He impresses me with his intelligence every day.

Elliott can now cut with scissors and write with a dynamic grasp and trace his name. Six months ago, he could not hold a pencil properly and could not even draw a circle. He could make more than one snip independently with a pair of scissors.

His teacher at "new school" as he calls it, the one I moved him to after fighting with our own school district for years, told me she sees no reason he won't be in a regular kindergarten classroom in the fall. Two years ago, this boy could not look me in the eyes. He said no words. Now he's going to regular motherfucking kindergarten. Incredible.

Before class today, he started a game with another little boy. He was having so much fun, that he started hugging the other boy, over and over again. The boy politely asked Elliott to stop, but Elliott only laid his head on the other boy's shoulder. I had to tell Elliott to stop, but it was really sweet the way he was connecting with this other kid and wanted to express it.

Ben's got braces now, and Elliott is going to be 5. It's happening so quickly.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

how awful.

I have not written anything on here or anywhere else for a very long time. I have been preoccupied with other things, namely keeping up at work and Occupying Redlands, and now (possibly) grant writing for an autism summer camp. I have projects, real creative projects I need to return to. I wish there were more of me. Maybe I should eat more frosting and then I could employ my fat rolls to research distance education best practices while I revise the screenplay I need to revise.

In any case, I am back here because I would like to say that I am very sad for my father-in-law Jim right now whose mother is very sick. Our parents are always our parents no matter what and no matter the circumstances, something shakes you to your foundation when confronted with losing them. I barely knew my mother and, as much as I tried to deny it when I was younger, losing her has shaped who I am. It is always there. I wish I could do something to make everything better, to make it all go away, for Jim, who is one of the kindest people I know, and for Wanda, his mother, who is scared.

In the meantime, Jim, I will make you all of the cake that you want and bring Ben and Elliott to your house to put on Muppet shows.

Love you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

weight loss is boring

I lost 7 pounds in a month and have flatlined because I don't care anymore. And I like beer. But I'm still not eating grains or sugar (except for maybe once or twice a week), and I'm keeping my weight off. So, no dramatic before and after photos. Not for a while anyhow.

What this post is about is not weight loss, but about Elliott. Today, I watched some video of him from exactly a year ago. I could not understand anything he was saying. Everything began with a "k" sound and ended with a "k" sound. It was like he could not get his muscles in his mouth to work. He was trying to talk, you could tell he knew what he was saying, but I just couldn't understand it. And I'm his mom. Imagine what other people heard.

Yesterday, we went to a coffee shop, and Elliott told the cashier, "I have a backpack." She said, "You do? What kind?" He said, "Scooby Dooby Doo." She said, "Cool."

This may not sound like an amazing exchange, but my heart nearly exploded. He had a conversation, with a stranger and SHE UNDERSTOOD HIM. On top of that, he looked into her eyes when he talked to her. Holy shit. This was HUGE.

Not only that, but before we left school, he asked a boy what his name was and then he and the boy went off to play for a few minutes. Another mundane (HUGE for him) event!

On the way home, he told me what he had for lunch and a song they sang at school, another big deal.

It was just one thing after another, back to back, and I realize it sounds so small when I describe it, but it was amazing for us. I turned to Elliott in the back seat on the way home from the coffee shop and said, "I'm so proud of you." He just looked at me and asked me to play his Sesame Street CD again. I know he doesn't understand what I mean. But I also know that he will someday, soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

week 2, a week that will live in infamy

Confession: I had 3 beers and fish and chips and a whole wheat tortilla and cheese and rice noodles this week. The rest of the time, I ate Paleo. I just couldn't control myself.
So here are my new stats.

Beginning of last week: 178
Today: 177

I lost only 1 pound. I mostly blame the beer and the fish and chips, and the worst part about the fish and chips is that they weren't even very good. Since I hadn't had anything fried in a very long time, I think a deep fried sock would've tasted good to me.

On top of this, Ryan was sick this week and I had no time to exercise--I only did some strength training and yoga.

I have decided that I cannot eat the amount of meat required in Paleo, so I'll be doing a modified version that is actually not Paleo at all. I am going to allow myself minimal amounts of dairy, legumes, and soy but still no refined sugar or grains. I'm also going to make sure that I exercise at least 5 times this week (after all, my triathlon date is rapidly approaching). I'll report back next Sunday!

On a side note, Ben started the Cub Scouts last night. I invited a bunch of kids and their parents into our house. We had a pretty successful meeting, I thought, and Ben wore his uniform. I'm co-leading the pack and while I don't agree with some of the larger Boy Scouts policies on gay people and religion, etc., I'm making my own rules. Gay people? Totally welcome. Atheists? Your leader is one. Kids will not be pressured in this den. The cub scout motto, after all, is "Do Your Best," not "Be a Christian Republican."

Friday, September 23, 2011

school photos

It's a bad year for school photos in this family. We got Elliott's school photos back from his current school. In the close-up of his face, he looks as though someone was pinching him in the back of the arm while he was simultaneously looking at the sun. In the class photo, he is looking directly at the ground. We tried to return the proofs today, but the teachers said, "Go ahead and keep them." Lucky us.

We got the photos back from Ben's school as well. I didn't know it was photo day, so he was wearing an odd shirt that he had stained with his breakfast, and his straw-like hair was standing straight up in the back. I had tried to comb it down that morning, but it is resilient and stubborn. So, while his face looks okay, his hair and shirt are pretty shameful.

I guess there will be no framed hallway school photos this year. We'll just pretend like none of this ever happened.