baby dropped!

Last night, I woke up at some late time (I don’t keep a clock in the bedroom) in the midst of a contraction. I dozed off after it was over, but woke up again a few minutes later. This continued for about an hour and a half, by my estimate, then I slept normally.

I woke up near dawn to use the bathroom and discovered the following: no heartburn (yay!) no huffing and puffing from a little bum shoved into my diaphragm (yay!) a bladder approximately the size of a teaspoon (boo!) and a little noggin shoved firmly into my pelvis like a cantaloupe!

Progress is my middle name.

Attention, hyperactivity, and mood shifts

[Previously private post]

Of late, Faith has been quite volatile. Now, she’s always been one to wear her feelings right there on her sleeve, but she’s really had a hard time of it lately. She’s one of those people who constantly messes with stuff. If there’s a rip she tears it more. If there’s a sticker she picks it off. If she’s sitting, she’s wiggling. She stammers when she talks because her mind moves too fast for her mouth. She’s in constant motion both mentally and physically. I’m sure many of you know kids who are similar.

It’s just part of who she is, but recently she’s had some problems with it. She’s currently computerless because she broke the laptop keyboard by mindlessly pulling keys off. It’s the second time she’s done it, and it was several keys. It was fixable, but next time it might not be, and since she has trouble controlling her behavior right now… no computer until we can get a more durable one for their use.

A few days ago she was sitting under the table in their bedroom and she pulled the DVD player and television off and they crashed to the floor. It was not accidentally caused by moving too quickly and being snagged in a cord. No one (and nothing) was harmed, but a 13-inch tv falling on someone’s head could have literally killed them. So now, the tv will be making an exit as well until we can bolt it securely.

I don’t like these solutions to this problem even though they are the best ones I have come up with for now. First of all, it deprives the other children, Abby and Gil in this case, of the items in question. If the tv is gone from upstairs then they can’t watch DVDs either (It doesn’t get broadcast programs; it’s DVD only.) Likewise they have been without their computer time for over a week now. This is hardly fair to them. Second, it just feels kinda wrong to me to be taking things away because she can’t help herself from doing it. I’m doing it anyway but I don’t like it. Sigh.

So we’ll be getting another computer sometime soonish, something cheap they can all use. It will live down here in the livingroom, not in their room. Also, the television will be bolted down. It should have been long before like the downstairs one, but honestly I didn’t think we had to.

And furthermore, we’re going to eliminate all artificial food coloring again and see what happens. This morning after a fine breakfast of chocolate milk and cherry Pop-Tarts (ahem, sue me), she was a screaming crying raging girl at her sister over something very trivial, like the placement of a teddy bear. I’ve noticed this before, but the severity has markedly increased in the last few weeks what with all the Christmas junk we’ve been consuming. She will also be drinking a small amount of caffeinated tea mid-day because she said that helped her think clearly. (I totally understand that one!) She said she can think and speak better when she’s fiddling with something and she made herself a bracelet which she twists and stretches when she’s talking. She also said it was her “deep breath” bracelet, as in “take a deep breath, calm down.” She’s a smart kid, you know?

So anyway, we’ll see what helps. It’s things like this that make me SO GLAD we homeschool.

my little pony coup!

Bede loves My Little Pony. We have some of the toys from a few years back when Faith and Abby really liked them, but most of them aren’t good for an autistic boy who has a very strong visual information gathering system. They have superstrong magnets in their hooves, see, and he figured out that magnets + CRT = television and computer monitor destructive fun! So, we got rid of the ponies, for the most part. We have some Ponyville figures from McDs that he likes.

What he really loves is the website and one particular video. The video is called “Dancing in the Clouds” and came with one of the ponies as a promo piece a few years ago. He’s watched our copy about 500 times in the last year, and as it’s VHS, it’s showing significant signs of wear. The colors are pastel and it fuzzes out periodically and has to have the tracking readjusted. I was not looking forward to the slow death of the tape and the accompanying inconsolable grief from my son, but the inevitable was going to happen in, by my estimate, the next six months or so. He likes CG animation a la Pixar, so I was going to get A Very Pony Place and try to transition him to it, but still it was going to be rough. Any kid losing a beloved object is hard, but for my autie it was going to be murder.

But today! Today I went to Borders Books because I had a $25 gift card and I was going to try to find something to give my dear husband for Christmas (struck out) and I found this!

Book cover to Dancing in the Clouds book and DVD set

It’s the book and DVD set of the video we have! For $3.99 on the bargain table! Yay! I bought it and gave it to him when I came home and he read the book immediately and we’ve been watching the DVD (the bright, vivid, non-muffled DVD) ever since!

Saccharine sweet, yes. But my delighted boy Bede’s even sweeter. Love!

birth and anticipation of pain

I’m not a fan of pain.

I mean, I know that’s a pretty common sentiment and should go without saying, but since I give birth at home* without the use of any drugs for pain relief I figured I should bring it up. I’m not a masochist nor am I one of those lucky women who have virtually pain-free labors. It hurts, a lot.

When I first found out I was pregnant again, after the initial heady rush of excitement had passed, I was overcome with a surge of adrenaline and nausea as I realized “I know exactly how bad this is going to hurt.” I tried to banish it from my mind, and tell myself things like “Sure it will hurt, but it’s not horrible,” and “It only hurts really bad at the end,” etc. but I wasn’t fooled. My fight-or-flight instinct knows better, and it remembers the truth, which is It Hurts Like Hell.

I spent the next 7 or so months trying not to think about it. I borrowed a friend’s Hypnobirthing book, and looked it over. My teeth were in terrible shape and I suffered through two excruciating days of unremitting pain until the problem teeth were yanked from my mouth, which helped put it in perspective, but I still had those twinges of fear. I avoided reading birth stories. I didn’t like to talk about it either.

Then, suddenly last week, it happened. I woke up and attempted to try on my anxieties… and they were gone! Not unlike the teeth, actually. I can feel a sort of gap in my mind where the fear of labor was. Where did it go? Who can say. Through the grace of God it’s happened every time I’ve given birth, and I’m very grateful. I know it’s gonna hurt, and That’s Okay.

So, come on baby! Can’t wait to meet you!

*once in the hospital, with Faith, but it was drug-free there too.

Unschooling and the Gleesons

We are unschoolers – that is, we have no formal curriculum or planned guidelines to what the children learn and when they learn it. I have some friends who have expressed interest in ‘how we do it,’ and while I don’t really have time today to write it all out, I can at least give you some sites to explore. Mostly we just live our lives and when we get interested in something we find out more about it.

Unschooling in general:

Learner-led academics highly kid-approved:

  • – Free. Complete learn to read lessons, from letter recognition to fluent reading.
  • BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr – Subscription. Short cartoons on almost any subject. We only subscribe to Jr now, but we’ll get the full version in a few years.
  • Cyberchase – Free. Companion to the PBS show and a great math ‘numeracy’ site.

Books we use frequently:

  • World Book Childcraft – we have a complete set of these that Sean and the girls read from daily. Ours are an older edition (1980, I think) and came from a thrift store (thanks Uncle Troy!) I recommend eBay if you don’t feel like dropping $350 on a new set.
  • John Holt books – these are for the grown-ups.

And finally, online and local support groups. To find one local to you, try searching on Yahoo! Groups for “unschooling YourStateName” (if that doesn’t get you any initial hits, try “homeschooling YourStateName”) and ask on those lists for other unschooling groups the members like.

  • FYI-OKC – our local Oklahoma City unschoolers group. Love.
  • Always Unschooled – national unschooling list. I don’t read this one anymore, but it’s a great place to start.

I’ve kept the computer long enough. I’ll try to flesh out this skeletal list later.

sucking my will to blog

Lately I’ve been using our laptop, or trying to. But every time I sit down with it I have Bede, Gilbert and Trixie all poking at it and pulling on the screen and I completely forget whatever the hell I was going to type.

It’s very frustrating.

So let’s try to sum up a bit, while I fend off Trixie who is trying to lick the USB ports to my left, and Bede who is poking ‘home’ and ‘pgup’ and Gil who is yanking the screen.

Oh forget it. I’m about to curse at them, it’s so not worth it. Maybe I’ll try again later.


I knit mittens! Many, many mittens!

Mittens 2007

It’s an easy made-up pattern, uses two strands of worsted weight together (or really bulky yarn – that’s the blue.) And here’s the thing – they WORK. If you use real wool and wash in a lanolizing wool wash (my personal favorite is Sudz n Dudz) they are actually waterproof enough to keep out the snow.

I love it, and will be making them again and again. Well, I’ve made ten so far, I guess that’s again and again already! The kids give them two thumbs up. Heh.

I’ll try to write out the pattern soon, it was really, really easy. Thanks Tabitha for giving me the lowdown on the afterthought thumb.

the bottom dollar

Sean and I were talking about “It’s A Wonderful Life” (that’s my favorite synopsis, by the way) and the subject of life insurance came up. I told Sean that he needed to get a large (term) policy on me, since my death would be, um, inconvenient, to say the least. I suggested a million dollars.

He said “Yeah, I could buy me a nice new wife with that. Who’d turn down a million bucks?”

To which I said:

“I tell you what I’d do, man. Two chicks, at the same time, man.”

You know you’re the mother of an autistic child when…

One of the boards I read has a thread going right now titled “You know you’re a special needs parent when…”

My contribution:

You decide fictional characters have conditions similar to your child. “Remy from Ratatouille is so on the spectrum. He’s not into the social aspect of his rat colony at all, he has extreme sensory sensitivities, he perseverates on gourmet food and cooking and he has vivid mental ‘conversations’ with Auguste Gusteau, the chef he is obsessed with.”

Gilbert explains it all

Gilbert was telling me about the new baby the other night.

He said the new baby is a boy. Then he told me something that made me puzzled.

“Da new baby wants a bottle.”

“He does? Won’t he want to nurse, too?”

“No. Because dat is my nurse (pointing to left side of my chest) and dat is Trixie’s nurse (pointing to the right.) Da new baby has a bottle.”

“What would you put in the bottle for the new baby, Gilbert?”

“Umm…chocolate milk! No, no. EGGNOG!”

“But the new baby needs nurse, Gil. Babies need to nurse from their mamas.”

“Oh-kay. Sigh. Oh! Da new baby can use Trixie’s nurse!”

(I think we’ve seen to the heart of the matter, no?)

the eyes have it

Gil’s eye is okay. We learned he’s farsighted, and his pupil reactivity is within the realm of physiologically typical. Yay!

He was also so good! The doctor was overbearing and too loud, but Gil stayed the course. It helped that the person who did his first exam (a nurse, I guess?) was gentle and quiet.

I’m VERY farsighted in my left eye, so much so that it’s legally blind. My right eye is mildly farsighted and getting worse as I age, alas. So we can blame me for that one. We were told to watch his eyes and if they start to cross when he’s focusing on near things then he’d need glasses, and he’ll probably need them sometime, we just don’t know when.

So there you go.

In other news, I’m knitting mittens for Faith. Nothing but excitement around here, I tell you! I had other things to say but for the last minute Trixie has been crying that “waAAAh! waaaAAAAh!” sort of klaxon sounding thought-destroying cry because I won’t stop typing and pick her up. If I remember what I had to say (doubtful) I’ll come back.

so tired, medical updates

I am so tired. Stupid tired. Yawn.

I slept really poorly last night because Trixie was restless or awake all itchy from her eczema from about 3 to 6AM. We all got up early, around 7ish because she had a doctor’s appointment at 8:30.

I know I sound like a weenie to be complaining about getting up at 7, oh the horror! but it was the lack of sleep that’s done me in.


She had an appointment to get her left leg X-rayed because it bows out significantly. The doctor said it needs watchful waiting and will likely self-correct as she grows, so that’s good. The bad news was the waaaiiiiiiting we did. We were there at 8:30 and finally seen at 10AM. Gah. State insurance means doctors book about ten people for the same appointment time. Sucks to be the last one they get to, especially when you have a 22 month old.

She was so. good. though. Really, she was like a model baby. Such a good girl. Sean came too and she’s always so happy with him around. My mom kept the other four at home.

Tomorrow we get to go for Gilbert, who has one pupil that stays dilated when he’s tired. Opthamologist in Edmond. I wonder how compliant he’ll be? Sean’s coming to this one too (he likes to go to doctor appointments when possible) and I bet he’ll be needed to cajole Gil, who can be, um, resistant. Especially with me. Sean can get the boy to be laughing and happy where I get “No! I don’t! No! NOOOOO!” Again, such a good daddy…

But Gilbert’s appointment isn’t til 1PM so I get to sleep. Thank goodness.

jump start book, chocolate pretzels

We are participating in the MDC Holiday Helper this year, and Bede is enjoying one of the anonymous gifts we received (because he saw me open it and glomped on it immediately, silly me!)

It’s a preK phonics workbook, and he looks so cute sitting at the table doing all the little activities. He’s gotten much better at following instructions lately, and if I demonstrate the first one, he grins and happily imitates, then looks at me as he finishes each one.

Thank you, Holiday Helper! One happy little hyperlexic boy here!

Today Faith and Abby made the easiest chocolate treats, as follows: one Hershey’s Kiss atop one pretzel. Bake at 350 for 3 minutes. Place m&m atop both, squish.

It might be even better with another pretzel instead of an m&m. And I just remembered that Faith used to call pretzels pencils. Ha!

birth prep

I need to gather together my birth supplies and otherwise prep. I’d homebirth anytime after 36 weeks, which is like 2 and a half weeks away! Before 36 weeks I’d birth in the hospital.

I’m gonna make a list to gather up:

  • Chux pads
  • Cord tie
  • 2 painter’s dropcloths – much sturdier than the tablecloths I used last time.
  • Bath towels from thrift store, can always use more
  • Oooh! Almost forgot! Big disposable heating pads, the kind for back pain
  • All my post-birth voodoo rememdies for afterpains: herb teas and tinctures, heating pad, and of course Tylenol.
  • Clean sheets
  • Blankets

And to do:

  • Wash newborn dipes, covers and clothes
  • Knit a wee hat for postbirth photo op 🙂
  • Find my cloth postpartum pads… where did I put those…
  • Give birth!

Gotta be more than that… hmm.

Asperger’s joke

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon, and he’s lost. He lowers himself over a field and calls to a guy “Can you tell me where I am and where I’m headed?”

“Sure. You’re at 41 degrees 2 minutes and 14 seconds North, 144 degrees 4 minute and 19 seconds East; you’re at an altitude of 762 meters above sea level, and right now you’re hovering, but you were on a vector of 234 degrees at 12 meters per second”

“Amazing! Thanks! By the way, do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”

“I do! How did you know that?”

“Because everything you said is true, it’s much more detail than I need, and you told me in a way that’s no use to me at all.”

“Huh. Are you a clinical psychologist?”

“I am, but how the heck did you know that??”

“You don’t know where you are. You don’t know where you’re going. You got where you are by blowing hot air. You put labels on people after asking a few questions, and you’re in exactly the same spot you were 5 minutes ago, but now, somehow, it’s my fault!”

Via Hard Won Wisdom

While I’m at it

I can’t remember how much of this I’ve already blogged (because my mind is a sieve) but Bede’s made some great developmental leaps lately. I knew the sensory seeking wildness would ebb eventually, and usually he has a surge in abilities when that happens too.  I tell you, remembering that when we were in week 4 of the “Bede hides, poops on floor, grabs poop, throws on ceiling. Repeat in 6 hours or less.” cycle was about the only thing keeping me from crawling into bed and staying for a month. Ladies and gents, it was bad.

But now he’s not doing that. (Knocking on wood.) Instead he’s building representational structures with blocks! (see below.) And, when I say things like “Bede, hand me that cup,” he’s, you know, handing me the cup! Also, he’s following 2 and 3 step written instructions in coloring/activity books! (he’s always been better with written vs. spoken language, of course.)

In other words, he’s forging those neural pathways in a huge way. Yay Bede! You rock!

(ha! rock! Get it? I slay me.)

Getting to know you, Christmas edition

Tagged via email by Melissa

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial, and as glitzy as possible as the girls are the ones to decorate it.

3. When do you put up the tree? After Thanksgiving, early December.

4. When do you take the tree down? After Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Commodore 64

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, but we don’t put it up. Later years.

8. Hardest person to buy for? I don’t have a real hard time with anyone.

9. Easiest person to buy for? See above.

10. Worst Christmas? Can’t think of a bad one.

11. Mail or email Holiday/Christmas cards? Mail, if I did.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s A Wonderful Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? After Thanksgiving.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I bet I have.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cocktail shrimp and queso on Christmas Eve.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

17. Favorite Christmas song? Probably God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, but I also like Good King Wenceslas.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Home! And my extended family will be coming here, for the first time.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Eve for extended family, morning for Gleesons.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Icy roads and knife-like winds.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Family!

Tagging everyone who’s feeling Christmas-y!

heavy work

Trixie is pushing the dining room chairs around the living room. She likes them to be resistant to her pushing, so she lines three of them up together and pushes them like a train. She also likes to lift the futon mattress. I got a couple bags of yarn from a friend who got them at an estate sale, and Trixie is also dragging them around.

Ladies and gents, we have another sensory sort of kid in the family.

Bede’s our prime example: dislikes clothing, loves water, craves muddy/slimy textures but hates dirty hands, runs in circles, likes jumping and rough and tumble play. All of those things to a great extreme not seen in a typical four-year-old. Mostly sensory seeking with some avoidance.

Then there’s my sweet Abby: mildly claustrophobic, hates tight clothing, closing her eyes, kisses and other light touch, hair washing. Likes being held, but not restrained. Mostly avoidant.

And now the Trix. Wonder what else will pop up? Ah, parenting…