cookie conquerors

We baked chocolate chip cookies today with MY NEW COOKIE SCOOP WOOT and they are fan dan tastic. Gilbert helped me put them on the sheet and in true Little Red Hen fashion everyone helped eat them.

I know I keep promising pictures of mittens. I promise I’ll post some. Soon. In the meantime here is Faith holding Gloria who fell asleep in her lap with bonus Christmas tree.



food dye: why, again?

We’ve had a rough day. It may be confirmation bias showing to say what I think is the reason why: food coloring. Today, for the first time is a long time, the kids had copious amounts of your friends and mine: FDC Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5 and 6. And Gilbert and Bede were, ah, difficult to parent today.

So there’s that. Or they could be coming down with something. Or maybe they’re just Little Boys 5 and 6.

Ah, Gloria wants to nurse. Perhaps I’ll write more later. Project: Mittens 2009 is coming along nicely, for those playing along at home. I’ll get pictures tomorrow when the light is nicer.

full day

Whew, long day. Visited by another plumber, Sophia and Josh and their friend Jess. Planned visit from other niece and her kids on Thursday. Fixed turkey enchiladas for dinner, kissed Sean goodbye as he ran out the door to his night class, fed the children who didn’t care for the enchiladas (pbjs). Knit on Abby’s mittens, take 2, as the mitten I completed last night does not fit an actual human (maybe the Librarian) (ook.) Teach me to knit without measuring the recipient.

Jess was just delightful. She listened to Faith and Abby talk about their drawings, played with Gilbert, and admired all the other wee Glees. We hope to see her again, soon!

Now nursing the G-Lo, and this one-handed typing is for the birds. Over and out.

winter preparations

I made bread today too. It’s challah, from Tabitha’s recipe, and it’s pretty much the best bread ever.

I found the boots I thought I accidentally gave to charity! Yay! They were in the War Drobe in the Spare Oom. So we had a boot-trying-on day. Faith, Gilbert, Trixie: all set. Bede: all set, good thing he doesn’t care that they’re pink. Abby: good now because my mother found her a pair for $7. Gloria is the only one left and needs her some size 8 or 9 toddler boots. I think that’s a pretty good boot day.

In other wintry prep they tried on mittens. Again, only Abby and G-Lo can’t wear last year’s model. I’m pleased to have only two pairs to knit.

But I need to knit, like, 7 hats. And it needs to SNOW, PLEASE. REAL SNOW.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We put up our tree. My favorite thing about artificial trees is being able to put them up so early. We got a new tree this year, easily three times the size of our old tabletop tree. The kids are super excited and festooning it with various “ornaments” (mostly Fisher Price Little People.) Later on we’re going to make some more traditional ones.

I hear, right now, Abby, Gil, Trixie and Gloria singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in “Oo oo oo” a la Charlie Brown credits. Aww.

Then Faith, saying in true oldest sister fashion, “You guys sound like dogs howling.”

I snorted (good thing I’m in the other room) and then chided “No they don’t! They sound just lovely.”

Happy Advent, at any rate.

hey, i’m back

Took a break over the weekend. I forgot to post on Saturday and only remembered to post on Sunday at about 11:52. So.

I have finished Trixie’s grey sweater. It has secret purple armscyes! She likes it very much. I realize how useless this is without pics.

Today I made three loaves of bread and a bunch of fried chicken. MMM FRIED CHICKEN. One of the loaves is raisin cinammon brown sugar bread, made like a giant cinnamon roll. It will be consumed for breakfast tomorrow in the blink of an eye, I’m sure.

I am feeling nibbled to death by ducks in terms of feeding my children. I feel like I am constantly fixing food or drink for them. I am damn sick and tired of it and rather than continue to be resentful and angry at all of them for, God forbid, asking their MOTHER for FOOD, THE NERVE, I am going to have clear kitchen open and kitchen closed times, with water always available of course. We’ll see how that works. I expect Gilbert will flip out because he is very into Inflexibly Controlling All Situations right now. I hope the transition period is as smooth as possible. Wish me luck!


I’m doing Christmas pre-shopping, deciding what I want to get for each child. It’s so difficult! Trixie will be getting a new toy barn, Gloria a very paticular toy cat with a handknitted sweater (by both myself and Faith), Abby a series of books called Dear Dumb Diary aaaaand… that’s it so far. This is one of the most fun and most agonizing times of year to have six children!

So dear reader, what are you giving to the children in your life for Decemberween?

know your market

Some LDS missionary boys came to visit today. They’re so cute. It kills me that they’re “Elder” when I’m twice their age. One was Elder Bill and the other was Elder L-something-Venezuelan. They were pleased with my large brood and the fact that we homeschool, and no doubt disappointed that we’re staunchly RC.

Bede was very interested in them because they offered him a book and some prayer cards but mostly because they had nametags. “ELDER BILL ON YOUR BLACK PIN!!!!” he noted, and then in a delighted undertone, “Helvetica. Mmmhnnmm!”

That’s my boy.


Just a dull litany for tonight. I baked bread today and made a huge pot o chili. I slept very poorly due to 1. Trixie, who woke about every hour for unknown reasons; 2. Gilbert awakening once and needing my assistance; and 3. Gloria waking twice. I don’t think I got an uninterrupted hour of sleep all night, so I was very spacey today.

See you tomorrow (yawn.)

ETA: And Bede, Bede woke me up too. Frack.

a good day

Today was so nice. Our dear friends came for a visit and seeing the smiles on their faces as they ran up our sidewalk was fantastic. The kids all played and talked and Renee and I got to talk. Renee is one of those friends who really hears what you are saying. When I talk to her I feel like I have all of her attention, that she is listening to me and extrapolating meaning from my words. Not one of those people who is just waiting to talk! Tabitha you’re like that too 🙂

Then we all had lunch, turned the kids (all eight of them!) to the backyard and Renee and I made challah. Which is baking now. Mmm.

Bede was attentive and fairly calm today. It was a relief for all!

go with the flow in more ways than one

The plumbing issue continues to plague us; we have misaligned pipes. With a little lip of pipe for things to catch upon it’s no wonder we keep having trouble. I think we’re going to see about buying our own power auger.

Sean had a second interview today at the same joint he was at earlier. The intervening days have given me time to get used to the idea and I’m now 90% excited and 10% anxious, and officially hoping he gets the job. I reckon we’ll find out next week. He said the interview went well.

Tonight we had a simple potato soup and homemade bread. One of those delightful plain meals that get overlooked for more sophisticated fare. Potatoes, onions, milk, butter, salt. Honestly, what’s not to love? I made enough to feed our army with a bit left over and then some – I had planned to feed my niece and her boyfriend as well as the Gleesons, and he was unable to make it. So there’s enough for lunch tomorrow as well! Yum. It’s especially good with grated cheddar in it.

Bede had another rough day. He seems to be ‘stuck’ more than he has been in the recent past, and gets more and more agitated as the perseveration goes on. I find that it’s very difficult to break him out of it once he gets started, and even if I do he’ll return to it later with renewed insistence and frustration. Whenever possible we have been trying to avoid situations where we have to bluntly say “no” and instead we are smoothing the way beforehand – keeping things he will become agitated about out of sight, attempting to compromise in the early stages of a ‘moment’ and so forth.

I am not unconditionally saying okaysure! i getchoo whatever it is you want! because I don’t like the precedent it sets in his mind: if I am insistent enough, loud enough, physical enough, I will get what I want. Sometimes there are just “no” moments: you cannot sit on your siblings or assault their persons; you cannot eat food, chew it to a pulp and spit it on the stairs; you cannot do many things. And so on. So when they occur I try to Just Be with him, consistent and kind and empathetic.

The hardest part about these times, beyond the episodes themselves, is the uncertainty of the peace when everything is calm. Knowing that the calm can be shattered any moment by an upset seventy pound autistic boy is more than a little nervewracking. I am on edge and jumpy, which makes things even more tense, and Bede more likely to react in kind.

All the more reason to keep the peaceful, easy feelings in the fore…

no time

This post-every-day-for-a-month thing has made certain that I don’t have time to blog. Just typing that sentence I heard Trixie and Gloria scream at each other and had to go sort it out. Twice.

I have to choose each night between solitude and sleep. Even if I do choose solitude I’m in no shape to blog; I write things like “Home day kids played me go sleep now” and even more incoherency.

Not that I’m better than that now, either.

The toilet was faking and was actually still broken. It was fixed, briefly, this afternoon but is broken again now. It’s usable but really slow, and the guys who temporarily fixed it today are coming back to try to fix it better tomorrow.

Bede has been having a really tough time lately, for reasons unknown to me. He’s been sensory seeking and very easily upset. In the past, these times have presaged periods of intense developmental growth for him so I think that might be what is happening now. In any event it’s difficult for all of us but especially Bede. I hope it passes.

Faith is really enjoying the Warriors books. They’re full of war and angst and love – with cats. Like Watership Down. Abby spends most of her time drawing and making things out of cut paper. Gilbert is growing up but still has many little boy traits. He wants to play sports. Trixie and Gloria are delightfully themselves.

That’s all now.

Do they dare?

Today I rediscovered (as in, found it behind a bookcase) one of my favorite books as a child, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. I loved it as a kid and remembered lingering over the illustrations. My kids love it just as much as I did, and Gloria is quite put out that I’m not reading it to her for the ninth time.

Amazon is currently running a sale on Dr. Seuss books – buy two get one free. Some other Extreme Favorites here at the Gleeson abode are Go, Dog. Go!, Big Dog…Little Dog, and Fox in Socks. I love these books!

Where is Club Penguin?

My children adore Club Penguin. Our home is festooned with drawings therefrom, and one of Gloria’s first words was “puffle.”

Today we deduced where Club Penguin was likely to be. It has trees and other plants, so it can’t be part of Antarctica proper. According to Wikipedia, the southern tree line maxes out around 55 degrees latitude, so we decided that Club Penguin must therefore be one of the thousands of islands located north of Cape Horn, which is around 55ish. Can’t be too far north though, because it has a standing iceberg and year-round glacial ice.

Faith is currently working on her drawing of a predator for the island, a cat or catlike creature that is as yet unnamed. We’ve decided puffles are like neon-colored lemmings, with tiny near-invisible legs and paws.



There Are Cats In This Book

That’s the name of Bede’s favorite book. Have I discussed this before? I don’t think I have. It’s a REALLY GREAT BOOK. Did you like The Monster at the End of This Book? Then you’ll love this book. Bede acts it out constantly, redraws it with other beasts and beings (There Are PIXAR Lamps In This Book, etc) and it has given us a whole new world of bridging scripts upon which to drape deeper meaning. Abby has drawn several semi-sequels and derivative works. Faith still chuckles at it, at age nine. Trixie and Gilbert love it too.

Go buy it immediately. If you hurry, you can get it hardcover at bargain book price – $6.80. Go on, go!

Vaccination plans

No, not pig flu. Very unlikely to get that one. The other lot.

We selectively vaccinate on a very delayed schedule. We don’t start til seven at the earliest, for one thing, and we don’t get any that the kids could just as easily decide to get for themselves later. That gives us DTaP, inactivated polio, MMR, and varicella. I’m really hesitant to get the MMR vaccine (specifically the rubella component) and the varicella vaccine because both are human fetal cell vaccines, so I’ll keep waiting on those, but I need to get the other two for the >7 Glees.

Finding a doctor in the Oklahoma City metro who

a.) takes our poor people insurance and
b.) is accepting new patients and
c.) won’t harrass me for our vaccine choices

is turnng out to be damn near impossible. We have been going to the family practice we were defaulted to when our old doc closed shop a few years ago and we have never seen the same doctor twice. It’s the training clinic for the Resident-O-Matic of Saint Anthony’s Hospital here and the physicians are uniformly young, pleasant, and, well, inexperienced, I guess is a nice way to put it. And I don’t mind that, honestly, but between that and never getting to establish a history with the same doctor I’m tired of it and I want to go somewhere else. Which is turning out to be difficult, QED.

More phone calls tomorrow, I expect.

representing my day

Gloria gives it her all.


Bede threw scores of leaves and called them flying birds.


Gilbert steps up on the logs. Best play structures ever.


Gloria hopes for a pull. She sat there optimistically for a good five minutes…


…and Faith obliged her.


Abby and Faith also looked for a dirt fairy, in the style of Five Children and It.


Trixie was delighted by everything.


Gilbert was too. He saw a rainbow!


Sometimes it’s all so beautiful I have to close my eyes.


I’m Phoebe Gleeson, and this is my perfect life.


Bede’s speech: October edition

Y’all liked these last time, so, here’s a few more.

Upon seeing one plate of regular and one of silver dollar:
Uppercase pancakes and lowercase pancakes!

Watching me wind yarn with a ball winder:
It’s zoetrope on your yarn!

Climbing a wrought-iron spiral staircase:
Bede! Climbing on your DNA!

After writing his name in the style and colors of Google:
BedeGleeson! Advanced Search! Language TOOOOOLS!

Faith’s First Raglan

Yarn percentages notes. Faith wants a sweater with a pink body and purple sleeves. I’ve thought it out, and it would work to knit pink in the round to the armsceye, then separate front/back, knit it flat up through the raglan decreases, bind off, then pick up the sleeves in purple and knit them down, then pick up the neck in purple and knit it up.

So, we need sleeve yarn and body yarn. I’m thinking of using Knit Picks Comfy.Also, in theory this will be Faith knitting her own sweater. She made her own hat last year. I think there will be knitting fairies who come while she sleeps however.

Sleeves 40% of total
Body 60% of total

locked up

We have many more locks and gates in this house than most houses do. We’ve taken some down recently, but in the last year this would have been the house you’d see when you visited.

On our front door we have two locks. One is a sliding deadbolt set six feet up. That one is locked all the time, no exceptions. Underneath that we have a combination padlock. That one is locked whenever I leave the first floor of the house.

Moving on into the dining room you pass the stairs, where there’s a gate at the bottom. (All our gates are fully custom Gleeson jobs and are solid boards that slide in and out of place. There are rails for a gate in the doorway to the dining room, but we don’t keep that one up all the time.) So, now, in the dining room. We have rails installed behind the chairs so that babies can’t slide them out and use them to climb over the aforementioned gates. To get a chair out, you lift it up two inches over the rail bolted to the floor. Babies are highly intelligent but they tend to be a.) inexperienced and b.) weak. This thwarts them most excellently.

You’ll see the door to the kitchen there to the right. It’s also secured by two locks, the always-locked deadbolt and the unattended combination lock. In the kitchen is a door that leads to the backyard, which is also double locked, and a door to the basement, which is combination locked.

Other locks include the six foot lock to the coat closet and the lock bolting the TV to the wall. Our old CRT TV was bolted to the TV stand which was screwed into the floor, but we got one a them fancy flat screens now. Other things bolted to things include all furniture large enough to fall and crush someone, so all the bookcases are, you guessed it, bolted to the wall.

And that’s just the downstairs! I’ll cover the upstairs in a later post.

We came, we saw, we left without incident

What’s the Latin for that one?

Bede was pumped about the movie. Before we left, I wrote our telephone number on his back in Sharpie, just in case we got separated. You never know, and he can’t communicate well enough to convey that sort of information.

We pulled into the mall lot and he was vibrating with excitement. He saw the poster as we approached the theater and I let him break loose and go jump up and down in front of it and hum as he chanted the character names and peered through his fingers.

We were getting some looks by this point but so what. He was so happy. Most of the looks were for his unusual, ah, behaviour, but some of them were no doubt due to his clothes: a big red tee shirt, men’s trousers cinched in at the waist and rolled up, blue Crocs, all topped off with an enormous brown hat with a tan brim – his “Scrat acorn hat” he requested I knit for him.

An older woman approached us and said “Is he autistic?”

I resisted my momentary contrarian impulse to say “No” (hee hee) and smiled instead. “Yes, he’s autistic. He loves the Ice Age movies, and this is the first time he’s ever been to a theater, too.”

She said “Oh! I thought he was. I’m a substitute teacher and I just love working with autistic children.”

I smiled and started to guide Bede toward the ticket booth. She said, to Bede, “You are the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen!” and we parted ways. When we got to the line, a nice man offered to let us cut, and we bought our tickets and headed back to the theater.

The auditorium was dark and the previews were playing VERY LOUDLY when we came in. Bede was a bit taken aback by the darkness and the noise, but came in and we sat fairly close to the front. “You want some turn it down?” he asked me. I said it was loud, but it might get quieter (it did.)

He was rapt throughout, humming and bouncing a few times, but mostly quiet and still. He hid behind the seat in front of us when it was scary, or peeked through his hat. As the movie was wrapping up he said “Ice Age is The End” and smiled.

Then, we left.

Whew! Yay Bede!


Scene: Gleeson home, dining room.

Me: Hey Bede!
Bede: (skipping by) Hmmhnnnhmm!
Me: Tomorrow, you wanna see Ice Age 3?
(Bede stops short)
Me: In the movie theater?
(Bede smiles widely)
Me: With Manny?
Bede: And Ellie?
Me: Uh-huh.
Bede: And Crashandeddie?
Me: Yep.
Bede: And (hops in place) SCRAT!!
Me: Yeah!

Soooo tomorrow Bede and I are going to see…

Which is finally at the dollar cinema. It will be his first time ever in a theater. Wish us well!

PBS shirts

Bede draws the PBS logo a lot. He changes it around and makes a whole family of P-heads. He gives the P-head a different look, like a PIXAR lamp P-head, or a Scrat P-head.

I think he would really, really like this shirt. They don’t come in kid sizes, but he’s a pretty big kid, and he likes his clothes loose. An adult small will be too big but not unwearably so. And all he’s doing is growing… This is going on his Christmas list for sure.

cleanup and age differences

Faith and Abby are old enough now that saying “Everything that’s still on the floor in there in 15 minutes is going in the trash” no longer seems cruel. Before, like last year, saying that elicited much stress and made me feel like the biggest jerk in the world. Now, it gets me a slightly panicked look, a cry of “ABBY! COME HELP ME!” and a hell of a lot less stuff to pick up – and no pain and anguish when I pitch it.