I scream, you scream…

We all scream for ice cream! Ice Cream for Breakfast Day was again a big hit.

It was a yummy morning for the Gleesons. Sadly I have no photographic record as both of my hands were in use holding Gloria (who prefers her ice cream un-iced and straight from the tap) and scarfing up my own eponymous meal.

In other news nothing much is happening beyond tending to the six. My friend Melissa came over on Thursday and swept my dining room and living room for me, which was WONDERFUL. I am able to keep up with the diapers and the other basic hygiene of the out-of-diapers crowd and well, that’s it. Housework is not even on the freaking stove, let alone the back burner. So it was so amazing to be able to walk around (for a few hours at least) on a crumb-free floor with all the laundry tamed too.

Gilbert is driving me up the wall with whiiiiiiiiiining. Everything he says is whined. Argh. Please pray for us. So far I have not said “Shut the f*** up do you hear me? You are melting my brain! STOOOOP IIIIIT!!!!” and I think I should get major points for that. Three year olds. I tell you. It will get better, it will get better, it will get better.

Oh, Faith and Abby want me to share their current favorite Internet activity: making Zimmer Twins movies.It’s pretty fun!

growth spurt!

Gloria has apparently been reading up on newborn development as she is right on track for the first 7-10 day old growth spurt. Her latch and my nipple sensitivity have improved markedly in the last 48 hours – she still clicks but about half as much. Last night I put a premium prefold on her because she flooded the infant size the night before. I think I can safely say she is getting plenty to eat!

Oh she’s rolled over twice from back to stomach. Crazy!

tongue tie update

So I kept notes on the clickity girl. She needed relatching less and less over the last few days for pain, but still had the same amount of clicking. The air swallowing is getting a little better, but not consistently.

 At this time, I’m not going to consult a doctor. I found out without a referral we would pay out of pocket, and we have our first appointment with the family practice assigned to us by the state (we have state insurance) on Feb. 13th. Can’t get them to see us any sooner, but it’s okay. I’ll ask for a referral then, unless it gets awful between then and now.

My major concern is of course how much Gloria is eating. As long as she’s growing, sleeping well, and going through lots of wet and messy diapers (she is) my fears are assuaged. I also worry about her latch affecting my milk supply and/or damaging my nipples – if I can’t feed her because of this that’s obviously a big problem. So far we are only dealing with minor pain on my part, no actual injury. I’m used to pain.

So, as it stands we will continue to do what we’re doin’.

She sleeps well at night, which makes everything easier. Wakes up about 3-4 times, nurses for a bit, gets burped, and we go back to sleep. I have had much more trying newborns than her, sleep-wise.

All is going as well as it can, which is pretty good, you know?

update on the tongue tie

I spoke to a midwife-recommended lactation consultant this morning about Gloria’s tongue tie. She had a number of suggestions and they seem to be helping. She thinks that Gloria’s tie will resolve over time, and with careful management it doesn’t need clipping. So that was good to hear. I’ll talk to her again in the morning after a day of note-taking on the number of relatches neccessary per nursing session to avoid the click and airswallow.

I also have the number for a local doctor who knows how to clip the frenulum. I’m going to call him on Monday and schedule an exam. Thanks to CBE Hyphen for finding the info for me. edit: another doctor now, too! yay!

The pain isn’t horrible because I’m able to get her in different positions to avoid the gum rub on the same spot each time, and also because her tongue just reaches over her gum line, it just is uncomfy for her so she retracts as soon as she gets tired, or has to coordinate suck-swallow-breathe. It’s a significant discomfort but manageable at this point.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of clipping it myself. For instance, I only trim fingernails when the child in question is sound asleep because I nicked Faith once and, well, that was enough. So, yeah, no surgical procedures, no matter how minor, performed by me on squiggly little newborns and infants.

She’s waking! No time to proofread, off to lather-rinse-repeat.

the last link

Gloria’s bellybutton made its appearance this evening. I think this is the earliest we’ve ever had that happen, and it’s also the first time I did nothing more than keep the umbilical cord clean and dry, no alcohol or any other substances applied.

I had read that you don’t need to use alcohol, that the use of alcohol was not evidence based, and in fact had been shown in a reputable 1998 study to cause the cord stump to stay on on average two days longer than if nothing was applied.

But it gets all gloopy. And, honestly, stinky. So I always caved in, before, and used alcohol.

But this time, I held firm, weathered the smelly day (it’s only bad for a day, really, and not that horrible) and lo and behold – a perfect little belly button has emerged after only five days.

First bath tomorrow. I love newborn baths.

an angry morning

I’m really ticked off. I was treated poorly this morning by people who should have wanted to help me and my daughter. It hurt my feelings and made me feel angry and helpless.

First, a brief anatomy lesson.

Gloria has a very “clicky” latch. She also swallows air, audibly. Her latch hurts a bit when she first attaches (normal) and then progresses to a different sort of discomfort as she retracts her tongue and starts clicking and swallowing air. It doesn’t have anything to do with my milk ejection reflex as it happens before it lets down, after, during… it’s independent of that.

I suspect posterior occult tongue tie, or tight frenulum. It’s treated by applying a topical anesthetic to the underside of the tongue (that banana stuff they use before the shot at the dentist) and then the tissue holding the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is cut, and when it heals it’s not as tight. It’s almost painless (even without anesthesia) and it provides immediate resolution of the problem.

The trouble is most doctors have never heard of posterior tongue tie because it doesn’t affect bottlefeeding much. They think tongue tie is largely related to the position of the frenulum, not the length. So you have to really look around to find a pediatrician experienced enough in breastfeeding difficulties and, more importantly, solutions, to diagnose and treat it.

OK, OK Fee, you are thinking. Cut to the chase, as it were.

This is the most breastfeeding friendly pediatrician in Oklahoma City. I’ve met him. He’s really nice, down to earth, and intelligent. (Also, I happen to know he knits. Which, you know, would irrationally predjudice me in his favor.) We went to him about eight years ago when Faith was tiny, I think twice, then moved to Wichita, Kansas. When we moved back to Oklahoma four years ago we didn’t use him as a ped because our insurance had changed.

OK, fast forward to this morning. I called to see if I could schedule a visit today for Gloria. We’d have to pay out of pocket, I knew, but I figured one visit and one procedure would be doable. I was hopeful that we could be seen today, even, since feeding difficulties are very important to catch.

They won’t see us, ever.

Apparently we owed them some money from 8 years ago, like $30 that insurance didn’t pick up, and since we never paid, they very snippily told me “your family is not welcome at our practice and has been discharged.” I asked if we could pay the past due amount this morning and was told no. I said “but my daughter really needs to see Dr. Moore! He’s the only pediatrician I know of with enough breastfeeding experience to diagnose her! Please, let us pay you this miniscule bill we knew NOTHING ABOUT!”

“No.” said the office manager haughtily from her high horse. “You are no-good, no-count people who shouldn’t have children anyway, and they deserve to suffer for your irresponsibility.”

Well, okay, she didn’t say that last part, but she implied it.

So now I have a clicky latch air swallowing kid, an angry feeling in the pit of my stomach, and no other ideas. I guess I get to hope it resolves, which it can, but it’s not fun while you’re waiting for the frenulum to stretch. It takes months.

Those rotten bastards.

ETA: Have mustered some other troops – CBEs, LLL Leaders, and local midwives. Maybe someone has a recommendation.

Artificial color and high carbs = gah

So we’ve been trying to avoid artificial colors and keep a decent amount of protein in the kids’ diets. It’s been working very well – I learned just how well today.

Faith had artificially colored cereal for breakfast, and not much milk, so lots of carbs… and this afternoon has been awful. Gilbert too.

Abby, Trixie and Bede are unaffected.

So now we know!

my little hacker

So. Bede continues to amaze.

We have several computers in this house. OK, more than several. We have five. One is exclusively Bede’s, one is for Faith and Abby, one is mine and two are Sean’s (the old Mac and the new Mac.) Bede has been using the computer since he was two years old and taught himself to read and it is a necessary item for him. He will likely favor typed and written communication over spoken for the rest of his life. He loves the computer. LOVES.

He generally confines himself to his machine, leaving the girls’ computer alone (all the family computers are in the livingroom.)  But sometimes he wanders over and fools with theirs. I’ve never worried because I had passwords on the accounts, so what could he do, right? He wouldn’t hurt their stuff, but he might rearrange favorites, or rename files on their desktop, or in some other way be pesky and little brother like on their account. ANd mine needed to be secure because it’s administrator level and he could really screw something up.

He hacked the passwords.

From a combination of watching us type them and sheer luck, he figured out what they were and was delightedly clicking about on the girls’ account. As I said to a friend, HE IS FOUR YEARS OLD. FOUR, people!

I think we’re in real trouble here. Let’s hope he uses his powers for good instead of evil.

overheard in my house

Gilbert went over to Bede on the computer and poked a key or turned off the speakers just to get a reaction from Bede, because Gilbert is a pesky little brother. Bede reacted by saying “noooo! awk!” and pushed Gil into the sofa where he sat on his back. I remove Bede, Gil gets up and shoves Bede. I scold Gil, keep Bede from re-retaliating, and tell Gil not to bother Bede’s computer while he’s playing on it. Gil says “I didn’t bozzer it!” I roll my eyes and say “Don’t touch it, Gil. Be nice. Don’t bug Bede!” Gil says “But I want to bug Bede!”


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!

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:

  • Starfall.com – 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.