Sunday, December 28, 2008

bad couple of days

I've been a mess these past few days. Yesterday, I was just overly emotional and really sick. I was supposed to go out with Ryan and some friends and family, but instead the day ended with me lying in bed, puffy eyed and coughing and sad. I eventually gave into my illness and emotional exhaustion by taking off my jeans and putting on some flannel pajama pants at about 6pm. Once you put on the pajama pants, there is no return. I fell asleep around 8:30pm after watching I Am Legend on HBO.

Today, I am resolved to get back on track. I will organize the toys. I will finally order photos. I will exercise. I will not cuss at anyone. I will be someone other people want to be around.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

thank you, nbc

I have a passion for really horrible reality television, and now that my semester is wrapping up and I'm almost done with my grading, I'm looking forward to a little show called Momma's Boys, produced by Ryan Seacrest, and my expectations are deliciously low. Here's the trailer:

I watched the first episode last night, and it was all that I dreamed it would be. (Racist mom + minorities dating her son = excellent reality television). I even made Ryan miss the Lakers game (a game they won by 1 point), and he admitted that it was worth it. It was definitely worth it.

Next up? That show Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher are making.

This is what I call celebrating the holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

all i wanted was glasses

I went in to get my eye exam this morning and was told that I have an allergic reaction in one of my eyes as well as "abnormalities" in my other eyes due to my contacts. So I needed to pony up (pony up?) and buy a new pair of glasses, one that I would actually wear. Luckily, I had an eye exam and glasses benefit I didn't know about through Kaiser that covered everything. So I got an awesome pair of glasses and was getting them fitted, when the optician asked me what I did for a living. I explained that I taught English at a community college, and he said, "Tell me the truth. Do they want to learn how to speak English?" I assume he was talking about Mexicans, but I told him that most of my students really work hard and show interest once they gain confidence in themselves. He proceeded to tell me that he didn't like how we were teaching kids about evolution because it clearly is a lie, and also how no on Prop. 8 people should stop whining about having lost. "If we had lost," he told me, "we'd just accept it. We'd move out of California," he continued, chuckling, "but we'd accept it." At this point, I just wanted to fuck with him, and I mentioned how much I had loved living in San Francisco and New York. He told me, I swear, that Oklahoma is the place to be, and that he was getting out of Redlands because it lacked diversity. "They're taking over, if you know what I mean," he said. I think I do know what he means, unfortunately, and I'll be very happy for him when he moves away from me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

sippy cup genius

Ryan hates the word sip but I'm guessing he hates the word sippy a hundred times worse, even more than he hates the word McFlurry. In any case, Elliott finally, FINALLY drank more than a couple of drops from a sippy cup today, and it wasn't milk. This is one step closer to getting him off of the bottle, which his doctors are pressuring us about. Ben didn't care what form his milk came to him (or even what type of milk it was); he just wanted it. Quickly. But Elliott, he cares about the brand of milk, the type of bottle, the position he is in, and so forth, so this is a huge accomplishment. I finally feel as though I got this kid's attention long enough to actually teach him something.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

feel like killing yourself?

I didn't either, until I watched the documentary Dear Zachary last night. Not only did Ryan and I cry hysterically, we ended up sleeping in Ben's room last night. Watching this film is like repeatedly getting punched directly in your heart with brass knuckles.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

on a lighter note

Gun control, anyone?
wait...there's more...

the other side

Early on, I suspected something was wrong with Ben because while he showed an interest in reading, in building, in walking, in coloring, in learning in general, he didn't show an interest in communicating. He didn't wave goodbye like most other toddlers. He didn't look us in the eye. He learned to say his letters but he wouldn't say mom or dad. In fact, he would lay awake at night, in the dark, repeating his letters until he fell asleep. He used to melt into tears and collapse into the ground and scream when the tiniest part of his routine was changed. This worried me tremendously. He seemed to be in this fog, this dreamy little letter-filled world of his own, that he couldn't or didn't want to escape and I couldn't penetrate.

We are on the other side of that tunnel now, and Benjamin tells jokes and tells me that he loves me, and looks me in the eye. Best of all, I know what his voice sounds like now and he wants to tell me what he did today and what he thinks is funny. He wants to tell me when he is mad at me and why. I waited so many months to hear him talk to me like this, and he does now. Sure, he's anxious and obsessive sometimes, but he has friends, he does well in school. He has caught up and I am not so worried.

Now we are entering another tunnel with Elliott. He is almost two, and he doesn't say anything at all. We had him evaluated yesterday and they told us that, aside from his physical skills, he is developmentally at the level of a 9-12 month old. They want him to see a psychologist and a geneticist. A therapist will begin coming to our house to work with him twice a week. I know it could be worse, that he could be missing legs or have a terrible illness or something like that. I know it is stupid to think that I did something wrong, or that I have some weird gene that causes my kids to not be able to communicate. The worse part is, I don't know what is on the other side of this tunnel with Elliott. We all just have to work through it together and hope for the best.

Monday, December 01, 2008

the crazy one and the worried one

Elliott will not let me hold his hand as he crosses the very unstable bridge at the park. My biggest fear was that he would fall through the side and land headfirst on the wood chips, which are a considerable amount of feet below. This fear was realized yesterday--he fell and slipped right through the side of the bridge head first, landing on his face. I tried to catch him, but my arms moved too slowly. I scooped him up to comfort him, aware of the eyes of the entire playground on me, the mother who couldn't catch her baby, or at least get him to hold her hand. But Elliott didn't want me. He pushed away from me, stopped crying, and climbed right back up. He continued to not allow me to hold my hand, screaming at me every time I tried. Elliott doesn't care about consequences. He will walk into to something, fall down, get up, and walk into it again. Why does this worry me? OH YEAH. All of the dangers that lay ahead of him in life.

Ben is on the other extreme. While his little brother is diving off the bridge, he is cautiously crossing the little toadstool things at the park, slowly moving from one to the other, clutching onto Ryan the whole time. Last night, he asked me why his aunt and uncle couldn't live with us. I told him we didn't have any room. He asked me why I couldn't buy a room. I said it didn't work like that. I told him that all his aunts and uncles and his grandma and grandpa have their own houses. "When you get bigger, you'll have your own house too," I said. He likes to tell me that he will have a job (teaching writing with Ryan) and a car of his own one day, but he didn't like to hear about this house he would have. "I don't want my own house," he said. "I want to live with you, Mom." Just about made me cry.

This will not be cute when he is 25, but it is extremely cute right now. I hate that one day he won't always want me to scratch his back or hold his hand or read him Care Bear books (thanks, Bridge!).
One of these photos is of Ben and the gingerbread house we made. The other depicts Ben's rendition of our family. Don't see Elliott? He's the tiny one, down in the corner. Ben says when Elliott gets older and he can talk, then he will be friends with him, but not right now. Ben has this imaginary world called Blueland, and he says that Elliott is not allowed to go there either because he isn't big enough. So while they don't hate each other (yet), they aren't quite BFFs either. Hopefully that will improve with time...

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photos, finally.

It took me long enough.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

social skills

This morning, I dropped Ben off at school. He was excited because now that his best friend's mom works at the school, Cody is there early. Ben burst into the classroom and very loudly said hello to Cody. Cody looked uncomfortable. Ben immediately ran up to Cody to hug him, and Cody took a step away. Ben didn't understand. He took a step closer. Cody took another step away. Pretty soon, Ben was chasing after Cody, trying to get him to give him a hug. The teacher thought they were playing tag, but really Cody was trying to get away from Ben. Cody finally came up to me and said, "Can you tell [Benjamin] to stop following me?"

This was hard to watch. In fact, watching this made me feel like my chest was being crushed. I tried to tell Cody that Ben just wanted to play with him, but Cody said he didn't want to play with Ben.

This is Ben's best friend. He's trying to tell Ben that he needs some space. And Ben doesn't get it.

And then there is Elliott. He is a loner at daycare. There are two girls his own age who already talk really well. One of these girls had a mother who did hardcore drugs when she was pregnant, and she still talks better than Elliott. When Elliott wants something, rather than try to ask for it, he collapses into the floor and screams and cries and rolls around and sometimes kisses the carpet. Needless, to say, he doesn't have a lot of friends. Yesterday, he got a tub of cookies out of the pantry and came careening towards me screaming. I said, "Say cookie," and instead of trying to talk, he threw the tub at me, ran away, and fell into the floor screaming, his face turning red and tears springing from his eyes.

I had no social skills when I was a kid, but I figured that was because my parents made no effort to raise me even somewhat normally. They didn't teach me boundaries or etiquette. But I'm trying to teach my kids that, and it's clearly not working. Maybe poor social skills are just genetic. Hopefully not.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'm pretty sure this is the longest I have gone without posting. This is simply because things have been so crazy. We have already been dealing with children who scream in frustration because they cannot draw their ABCs perfectly at the age of 4 (Ben), and who hit themselves in the face with ceramic piggy banks before plunging off the couch head first (Elliott). On top of this, Ryan's car just stopped working last week while at the very same moment, Ben projectile vomited all over the inside of it. We had to buy a car we cannot afford to replace this one and we all contracted that lovely stomach virus, spending the weekend expelling liquid from all directions of our bodies. This doesn't take into account the fact that we have jobs we have to work at and other life obligations. We are worn down. Piles of laundry and mail and paper and cereal are all over our house. Oprah has told me that I need to clean my house and make my house a haven for organization, etc., and I say to that: Oprah, you are rich and have a housekeeper. Only rich people get to have havens. The main question on my mind has been, why do Ryan and I produce such intense, strange children? The answer to that, of course, is that we are intense and strange. A part of me loves having this intense, strange family because a lot of the time it is crazy in a fun way. But sometimes it is crazy in a really stressful way, and you add work and financial worry into the mix and you become quite exhausted. Oh well...Winter break is on its way...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

oh my god

I'm so happy I have no eloquence to express it. I don't think I could've lived with a McCain presidency, and in my head that was really never an option. I am elated today. When I see images of people of EVERY background crying, jumping, laughing, shouting with joy, it makes me so happy. We did it. We will make this country so much better. We will work hard and we will be inspired. We witnessed history last night and this is just the beginning.

One major disappointment last night was that Prop. 8 went through, a law which eliminates rights that already exist for homosexuals. This was largely funded and organized by "Christians." Because that's what Jesus would do. Eliminate rights for people. The Yes on 8 people were some of the most hateful people I have ever seen. They bashed their ideas into people's heads. They threatened and blackmailed and assaulted and stole. You know, the way Jesus used to. The worst part was that they claimed they were fighting for free speech and freedom of religion while really they were fighting to take those rights away from other people. Way to go. You all should be very proud.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

on punching a kid in the face

There is a boy at Ben's school; I will call him Evan. Yesterday, when Ryan went to pick Ben up, he observed this Evan boy making fun of the way Ben speaks, mocking him as he rode on his tricycle. A little blonde boy who was hanging out with this boy Evan was laughing at Ben too. Ben reacted by looking very sad and, when trying to get off of his tricycle to get away, falling down. Evan and this other little boy laughed at him some more.

When I heard this story from Ryan, I wanted to find this Evan boy and punch him in his face, hopefully permanently scarring him so that he would remember the lesson that my fist had taught him for the rest of his life, becoming a humbler, kinder person. Ryan reminded me that this boy is only four years old, but I do not remember four year olds making fun of each other so meanly when I was a kid. Who is this joke of a kid? Who are his parents? Why is he so mean, so ruined, so early in his life? I was teased so mercilessly throughout school that the ramifications carried well into my adult life. Seeing my child go through this brings back those memories but to a heightened degree. It doesn't help that Ben is so sensitive and kind and that he internalizes all of his anxieties. I want to protect him from this, but I know that I can't and that it is only the beginning. I knew this was coming but I didn't know it would start this early. Do I still want to punch that Evan kid in the face. As Sarah Palin would say, you betcha. Will I? No. But I will actively imagine a variety of horrible futures for Evan and his little buddy. I guess that's all I can do.

Friday, October 31, 2008

welcome to kansas, ca

Today I wore my Obama shirt to the gym. As I was walking in, an old Asian man hobbled towards me and said, "Obama? No!" I said, "Actually, yes. That's who I'm voting for." He said, "You should vote for a Christian," and walked away from me. "Do your research!" I yelled after him. First of all, who cares if he's a Christian or not? Secondly, he is a goddamn Christian.

Last night, as I was putting Benjamin to bed, my Obama and No on Prop. 8 signs were stolen for the THIRD time. This time, I had stapled them high up on the palm trees outside of my house. It didn't matter. Very angry, I ran outside with my back-up Obama sign and strapped it to the palm tree with duct tape. As Ryan and I were doing so, a creepy guy up the street that lives in what we call The Gilbert Grape house muttered out his screen door something about that's what you get and something about homosexuals. I swear this is true. Ryan heard it as well. So Ryan politely asked the man to come outside and say something to his face and I yelled something about trespassing on my property. Oh, and I called him a douchebag. No response.

Using my hot glue gun, I affixed bulletin board tacks along the top of my homemade back-up No on 8 sign and planted it in my yard.

I know I'm going a little crazy now. The thing is, I can't stand looking at all of the McCain and Yes on 8 signs anymore. And I can't stand the thought of a fat-ass redneck ripping signs out of my front yard.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

how to help your child communicate

From the flier they gave us at the speech pathologist's office:

Instead of saying:
"Crying againg? Give me a break! Here! Is this what you want?"

Try saying:
"Here's your juice! Yummy, yummy juice! You like juice!" I'm not supposed to yell at Elliott and shove juice in his face? I'm supposed to repeat key terms and be positive when I communicate with him? I guess I'll have to change my whole parenting philosophy around!

I know they are trying to be helpful, but they must have some very stupid people come into their office.

Still, I can't help feeling as though Ryan and I are doing something wrong to have two children who have severe speech delays. Elliott really does try to communicate but he is so far behind. We read with him, talk to him, sing with him, play with him and...he's in the 3rd percentile for communication. I try not to worry too much, but it is hard not to.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

our little reverse racist

Sometimes things at home are funny and then you go out in public and realize they are embarrassing. Ben likes to call people cracker head and chocolate face when they are eating crackers or have chocolate on their faces, respectively. There are lots of other terms he uses as well. He also calls them this when he is trying to be silly and he has made lots of friends at school because other kids think he is full of hilarious jokes. So we were at the park the other day and he met two new friends and they were playing hide and seek. When I told him we had to leave, they said, "Bye, Ben-ten-igan." They were trying to be silly, referencing a popular cartoon. Ben normally would have gotten angry and said, "I'm just Ben" but with his new silly phase, he tried to throw it back at them. "Bye, Cracker Heads," he yelled across the park. Sometimes it's difficult to understand what Ben is saying. In this case, it wasn't. Everyone turned to look at us. I quickly told Ben there would be no more Cracker Head references, that sometimes people thought cracker was a bad word. "But crackers are what you eat," he told me. "Yes they are," I replied. "Only talk about them when you are eating." Later, Ryan told me that the chocolate face reference should probably go too, that it could be misinterpreted. I hadn't ever thought of it that way, and I burst out laughing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

october preview

Yo, you know you're jealous of our nose-picking, robot-making, cute-smile-generating, pumpkin lite-brighting, medal-winning, thumbs-up giving, classy black-and-white-pumpkin-guts-taking skills. So check yourself.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

the great communicator...some day soon

I was so afraid for them to put Elliott under to insert tubes into his ear drums. The only horrible part was when they made him not drink any milk and tried to put a plastic hospital bracelet, and blood pressure and oxygen monitors on him, all of which promptly ripped off, all the while kicking the nurse and turning red and screaming horribly. The surgery itself went well because he was unconscious.

They did it over a week ago, and he has become a new man. He doesn't scream at random intervals (okay, he does, but usually only when he is hungry). And he is trying to talk more. Still, when went to his 18 month check-up, we discovered that, like Ben, he is behind in his speech. Very behind. But I'm not worried about him. He wants to communicate. He looks into our eyes. He babbles. He thinks that that Macho Man Randy Savage is hilarious. (Ryan has been showing him YouTube videos.) So I know that when we begin speech therapy with him next week, he will be okay because he can hear better now and he really wants us to understand him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008