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…

christmas, oh, christmas…

So Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.

I’m going to list some kid gift ideas here. It’s tougher this year because no China, thanks.

  • Unit blocks. Melissa and Doug make a nice set.
  • Playmobil will be making the bulk of our little figure play toys. They don’t guarantee China-free, but less than 2% of their toys are made there, and they own the manufacturing facilities.
  • Faith wants a bead kit. Not Aqua Dots, thanks. Hmm. Ah! These are made in the US. I think we have a winner.

I’ll be updating this one throughout the day.

lovely Thanksgiving day

Well, our Thanksgiving was wonderful. Our dear friend Kenny came down from Wichita and along with my parents were our guests for our first Gleeson House Thanksgiving.

We decided that it would be too stressful for everyone to go to my parents’ house, which is what we’ve always done in the past. First of all, there are seven Gleesons (at last count) and only two Harrises; simple math shows that it’s easier for them to get here than for us to get there (although “there” is only a 20 minute drive.) Secondly, one of the seven Gleesons is autistic, and two others are aged three and one, which are factors that make a sit-down semiformal meal in a non-childproofed house very daunting. Add in the fact that the autistic boy prefers nudity at all times and you have a recipe for a possibly resentful, tiring and unfun time.

All taken with all, it was much better for them to come here. So they did, with pleasure. Chef Sean made roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes, giblet gravy, Kenny brought chocolate cake, Fat Tire beer and wine, I managed cheese, veggies, fruit, green bean casserole, my mother brought pies and deviled eggs… probably more that I am forgetting. Everything was delicious and the company was superb.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

baby, it’s cold outside

We just got a cold snap. Yesterday it was in the 70s. Today it was in the 40s, lows in the 20s. That’s 5 degrees either side of zero Centigrade for those who prefer to think in that scale, by the way. It will continue to be that cold for the next week, at least, maybe colder, maybe longer.

Guess whose furnace broke?

Guess what part would not be available til Monday?


(It’s fixed now. Thanks to our heroic furnace repair guys and our noble landlord. Hear, hear!)

Autism and “low functioning”

Last night, Anderson Cooper had a segment about autism. I didn’t get to see it, but it featured two autists who could possibly be described as “low-functioning,” “retarded,” “slow,” “feeble-minded,” etc… but for one thing. One wonderful, beautiful thing.

They know how to type, and knowing that, know how to communicate.

Now, before there was such a thing as typing, (or, frankly, before these people learned to type), they would have been written off (no pun intended.)  But they were just as smart before they typed – the basic intelligence was there whether or not they could figure out a way to share it with anyone.

It brings it all down to this: presume competence. Presume understanding. Autistic people are not empty shells, or “normal” people trapped inside autistic walls – they’re quite simply autistic people. When offered the right tools and help they can navigate the world. After all, we all need help and tools. It’s just that the tools autistic people may need are different.

I’m told Anderson Cooper will have another segment on Friday, on CNN.

Random bits

You can download entire episodes of Super Why! from iTunes, for free. Search Super Why.

Gilbert is asleep on my foot, like a puppy. Aww.

I’m 31 weeks! Wow!

I’m off merino unless I know exactly where it came from – no NZ or Oz wool for me please. Mulesing is just too brutal the way it’s commonly done. I’ll leave you to google.

Hmm. Had some other stuff, but Trixie is crying. Ta!