Monday, July 31, 2006


A quick update on Q...

The splints did not fit a week and a half ago, the tech hadn't gotten to them last week, so they probably won't fit this next time (Friday) either. Perhaps by the time we get them, Q won't need them!? That would be just lovely. Truly.

The boy seems to be suffering from increasingly bad GERD. I have a Zantac Rx, which he hates. And who can blame him? It's violently minty and he can smell it coming. He chokes and gasps his way through, trying not to swallow it. Poor baby. He doesn't usually do that with meds. Hopefully, it will at least afford him some relief as I try to figure out what else I could do instead. Maybe an upper GI study? Sigh...

Therapy continues apace. I've tucked his arm up and under mine to nurse, which is the more natural position for babies. He has tried to keep his little wings tight to his sides, which make them tighter still, of course, besides making an uncomfortable dent in my ribs. Since I started doing that, I've noticed that he sleeps with his arms out to the sides more, fingers unfurled. This seems to be translating to his having an easier time balancing his arms while on his belly and grasping at objects, which is fairly new. Yay!

We do "This little piggy" while I'm "milking" his fingers and working that thenar emminence. We do patty-cake while I make his hands or feet go--he loves it. He orients his arms differently when I start the rhyme, and his tone changes. Based on his ability to react to finger/hand play, I decided to start doing a little sign language with him. I take his hand and sign, "eat, please," "thank you, mommy." It's little steps, but I hear those are the ones that carry climbers up Everest.

We've had the greatest time laughing lately. He likes to coo and gurgle as sonar--waiting for someone to respond in kind. When the response is giggles (especially from the sisters) he just chortles back. It's awesome. And it does a mama good to join in--baby laughs are so infectious.

I'll be back with more later. I've got to get my head on the pillow before the dreaded GERD thing rears it's ugly head in the wee hours.

Peace, blessings, laughter to you and yours.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wish List

After much consideration, I've decided to post a wish list. It will be revised from time to time and no, I adamantly do not expect you to rush out and address this. The reason I'm writing this down is that I tend to forget stuff that I like (betcha can't guess why) and then, when people ask what do I need/want, I stand there like the sleep-deprived mama I am, scratching my head, thinking to myself, "Huh. I know there's stuff I like. There has to be stuff I need. What could it be?"

The last time I wrote down a very specific wish list, "we" ended up remodeling a house which, by gum, ended up meeting each of the items on my list (and more), though certainly not in the precise fashion I'd envisioned. When these things happen, it's Providence. I do like His work.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite things (think Oprah here)...

Gift certificates to The Children's Place. I am astonished every time I hit their clearance sales at how much decent clothing I can get for four (now five) children with only $100-$150. Five bags last time, if I recall correctly. It's amazing.

The same for Target. Cheap shampoo, hair things, wipes, clearance clothes, shoes, puzzles, toys, presents, sunblock, school supplies, bandaids, furniture, yaddayadda.

The same for Amazon. The kids can always use more nifty books and music. I was looking at Baroque CDs there earlier this evening. Love it.

Amy's soap. My skin is softer since I started using the Dragon's Blood bar (and it was a prize, so it makes me feel extra special). Who doesn't like softer skin? And it smells veddy, veddy nice.

Philosophy lip gloss. Also, the marshmallow cream lotion (slurp). And all the stuff I got for my birthday last year--thank you, thank you, you know who you are. XOXOXO.

Origins Ginger Souffle lotion. Ahhhh...

Bookcases. IKEA has some lovely ones. I could almost always use more shelf space.

A twelve passenger van. The only thing is, the standard models, even the newer ones, don't appear to have headrests. Hybrid would be nice (ha). I would also want side-curtain airbags. Call me paranoid, I don't care. The events of the last year engender that in a person. Besides, one only needs tangle with one deer and subsequently be hit by a pickup/camper pulling a full horse trailer in order to know that never again does one want to contemplate the median grass looming large in the windshield, much less the oncoming traffic, much less what might have happened were the family not traveling in a full-size van at the time. So I could use a bigger vehicle with safety features. My kids are going to be tall and they have stuff to haul. Also, we would sometimes find it convenient to be able to travel with other people we like in the same vehicle, instead of always having to take at least two cars/vans. Twelve passenger vans are very expensive, and I am very broke with no immediate prospects, but I'm putting it out there and praying over it. One never knows. His eye is on the sparrow, right? Why not my five little ducks? Or rather, His five little ducks.

And, whilst putting in my order with the universe at large... I could use more patience, good chocolate, sleep, good reading material, and energy. A personal assistant would be nice.

Lastly, most importantly, I want my family intact. I realize that there are many possible manifestations for grace in this. I cannot presuppose anything in this regard; free will being what it is. There are other folks who hold opinions on this matter and they will continue to make their choices, whatever they may be. I just would give truly anything to have my little flock whole. I do know that God is all about healing and restoration. I toss this up to Him over and over again, daily, hourly, moment by moment. I fail all. the. time. But tomorrow begins anew as the Father awaits the prodigal in each of us, so on we go. On I go.

That's it so far.

Peace be unto you, unto your sweet punkins and your beloved. Rest well.

Addendum: I'm thinking about collapsible jogger strollers. Q is a big kid and I would like to be more mobile with my whole group. Such equipment enables that. Also, thinking about a bike trailer and a baby backpack--special issues to be addressed there as he does not sit yet.

I am having a fascination with piano sheet music these days. I play while holding Q (he sits propped on my lap) and he seems to benefit from both the audio and visual aspects of the experience. I would like piano music for Largo from Xerxes (Handel) and Adagio in G minor (Albinoni).

Thursday, July 27, 2006


The other morning we were on our way to Q's well baby check. G, E, Q and I were riding merrily along through the lovely trees, enjoying the (cooler) summer morn, when we rounded a corner and behold, the trees were gone. Gone. Acres of them. Enormous stumps, roots in the air, miscellaneous brush and ferns scattered and stirred like so much dirty salad. The place was crawling with ravenous machinery, busily devouring the carcasses of huge green firs. Acres and acres and acres.

As we sat at the light adjacent to the properties undergoing "development" and fought nausea, Albinoni's Adagio in G came on the radio. It was a fitting requiem for the forest. I may be part dryad, because I could have sworn I could hear the trees screaming. Maybe it was just the rush of horror in my own ears. That night I dreamt the scene in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" in which the trees are wailing, wandering.

There will be nearly 4000 new houses built there. Not one of them worthy of the space they consume, all of them built so close together that they'll require their inhabitants to seek help for claustrophobia. This is the same space in which, just weeks ago, we watched a bald eagle wheel and cry. The forest has been pushed back farther and no one seems to fathom the far-reaching destruction, even as it unfolds before their eyes.

Progress. Bah.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I've found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness as they are mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent.
--Paul Graham

If this is true (and I suspect it is), I am a genius. Don't question me. My logic is flawless. After all, I am a genius. (See how this works? You too can play this fun game.)

Okay, I give up. It was funny, but then it's very late, and you may not see the humor in it...

G'night! :o)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Shhh--we're sweating

What's quieter than a van full of children, baby asleep (wiped out from therapy and splint fittings), with errands being run immediately following a trip to the library?


I could actually hear myself think. Then I got scared. Apparently, my brain could use a little WD-40. Or something. It's just too durned LOUD where I live for me to notice the squeaking in my cranium most of the time.

Ahhhh. It lasted the rest of the afternoon. The quiet, that is. Who knew it could be that easy?

Have I mentioned how much I love the library? Part of that reason is that they have air conditioning for when it's 95 or hotter and home does not. Trader Joe's also has AC, plus they have nice juices and today, gelato samples. They are lacking books, however.

But the library? They have books, AC, and a padded rocking chair in the kids section. They are also in possession of a very patient children's librarian who didn't say anything at all when I continued to read aloud the Pippi Longstocking book E had propped on her lap opposite me through a poopy (nursed baby) diaper change--which took place on my lap in said rocking chair. The girls were rapt (story). So was Q (diaper). So were the other very young children (Q's diaper) in the vicinity and so, though trying hard not to appear so, was their pregnant mama. I know what she was thinking as she observed our little tableau. She was wondering if she has time to grow a third arm before her next one arrives.

I bet she was there for the air conditioning too. The books are a real bonus, don't get me wrong. Ordinarily, we'd go there just for the books, you understand. But today it was really all about not frying any of my wee people. Or their poor mother's squeaking brain. Which she would never have known she had were it not for the lovely books. Tra la!

I think the heat is getting to me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Quote of the day

Courtesy of my bestest friend in the whole world...

"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed woman."

Yes, I'm cackling.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Self titled

Tell me this isn't the sweetest picture you ever saw. C'mon. Can't do it, can you?

The monkey was a gift from his daddy. It hung over the isolette in NICU and is that super soft plush fabric. Earlier, Q had been sucking on the cloth banana the monkey is holding in it's tail--good variable textural stimuli.

Yes, that really does say "angel" on his crib bumper. Actually, it says "angel baby," (thanks to the luverly friend who sent the whole crib set) but his chubby self is hiding that second part. His hands were in fists (not usual when he's sleeping, intermittent when awake, something we're working on in therapy) because I'd been messing with him, so he wasn't all puddingy and relaxed. The pillow is for reflux issues--he doesn't use it all the time. It has gingham stars appliqued on it and says "angel baby" too.

Couldn't you just eat him up? With a spoon? And nibble those cheeks? You should just see his little smile. Or hear him crow and laugh when he gets excited to see or hear one of his favorite people. Aren't they the most precious when they're like this? Sighing with awe...

I won't be posting pictures of my kids' faces, for a wide variety of reasons, but this one was too good to keep. When one figures out how to do such lofty things as post pictures to one's blog, how better to celebrate than with the sweetest picture you ever did see? I'm so excited that I can do this--I want to be just like Ree (wink) over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, but I have a feeling that first I have to learn some code. That will really stretch my brain.

This is great--this is the kind of thing that prevents Alzheimer's, you know! Off I go to learn some more stuff. Perhaps this time it will be how to put links in the text? No, too lofty for the lateness of the hour. How about the sidebar thingy for showing other blogs, etc.? Okay, then, here I go skipping away. Wheeeeeee!!!!! :o)

Saturday, July 15, 2006


So I've learned some things in the last 364 days. Here are a few of those things...

Panic attacks don't last forever. Having experienced even one, one's ability to empathize with folks of any disadvantage grows as does one's sense of place in the universe. We are each of us teeny specks, practically insignificant in many ways, completely essential in others. A panic attack (or several) serves as nothing else to reduce one's hopes and expectations and to knock one back a few steps.

The light of Grace is everywhere. In the darkest moments, in the sweetest. In the beginnings and endings in life and life itself. It is hard sometimes to recognize while wading (or drowning) in a sea of indescribable pain, but when one dries one's feet after the wading, it is there in the soft, warm sand and salty water, ebbingandflowing, ebbingandflowing. It is there in the cheering section who have shown up on the beach to make sure you don't imminently need the life guard. It is there in the towel, warmed by the sun, warding off the chilling breeze. It is there in the temporary castles, the crabs, the kelp, even the sharks.

It is possible, even required, to pray for one's "enemies." Sometimes this means growing one's humility quotient, sometimes it means asking God to hold oneself back from behaving in truly violent ways, even if those ways would be appropriate under the circumstances and encouraged under Old Testament law. Sometimes it means raging to God and asking that fire (or pestilence, plagues, famine) be rained down upon certain heads, even while one recognizes that God, thankfully, is still God, and no one else gets to make those kinds of decisions.

I can carry a 19+ pound baby in his car seat on one arm and a sleepy 40 pound girl on the other, with diaper bag and purse looped over my shoulders, up twelve steps and sidewalk into the house. Then, with lightning speed, bed down said girl, encourage bigger ones into bed, hugs and kisses all around, grab my own jammies, brush teeth, dole out vitamins, tuck in all and do prayers. Only then, when the rest are down for the night, will the punkin begin to fuss. But it's okay now, because I've taken care of everyone else, including myself (surprise), and can turn my attention to the baby. (And thanks, mom, for getting up to change him so I could finish collecting paperwork for the next day's adventures.) This sort of scenario occurs at least once a week in varying forms, though I did astonish myself with the carrying of two kids and stuff besides. And if you're a mama, you know that's how you have to do it, because if you don't, someone will begin to fuss and then everyone will be fussing because they're too tired not to, and then it's all over and several hours later you're still mopping tears and blood off the floor and just grateful that no one's dead, yourself included.

I can write about things I can't talk about. I can write a lot. You should see the notebooks. It took me months to get my brain to move fast enough to be able to think as fast as I could type, so there's pages and pages of longhand, then this blog, plus reams of things for other specific purposes. Somehow, once it's written, it's easier to speak of. Easier to organize in my head, to process and file away or dismiss altogether (though there's not much of that going on these days, sadly).

I am tougher than I had ever dreamed, and I knew before last July that I was no fragile flower (though I have since kind of wished I was). The title of the blog came to me in the days following the initial revelations. I've always been fascinated with brain function--I think of myself as a brain function junkie. I don't get it, really, but I can't get enough information about it. When I was in massage school, I became sort of fixated on the dura mater (tough mother), the membrane which encases and protects the brain. So a year ago, after the confessions, when I was thinking about how I wanted to be after the inevitable coming chaos dissipated (inevitably), it hit me that I would need to brace myself securely and for the long term on behalf of the kids. It is easier in a two-parent home to use the interplay between parents to do much in the way of non-verbal or non-specific modeling and explaining life to one's children, especially if that home is functional and mostly happy. That's how it's supposed to work and it's a good thing. When doing this parenting thing alone, every little event and detail (never mind the big ones) takes on new, exhausting importance. At the time I was learning of my new reality, I had only the vaguest of notions about it. While I'm sure I still have no practical clue as to the scope of need to "get it right" over the lifetimes of the kids, I'm beginning to. My role is to be tough mother to my crew, to lay a filter over their hearts and minds, to protect them, to allow and encourage their spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual and mental growth and development, no matter other difficulties. Add in Q's special needs, and Dura Mater suddenly takes on ironic meaning, given particularly his neurological issues. I love irony. But I don't much like living it.

Disgust and moral certainty by themselves get you nowhere. Being right is of very little practical use. This does not make me happy. I would prefer that being right carried as benefits a generous stipend and use of a lovely home on the Mediterranean.

It is possible to do this, to live this, and ever so much more heinous things and still be a happy person. It is possible to view people as basically nice, the world as a basically safe place, not extra scary, just because of betrayal, humiliation and drama. It is possible to separate out personal pain from the needs of the children and act on behalf of those childrens' best interests, long or short term, even while one's heart and head are cracking in half. It is possible to hope and work for good things and revel in what is, while mourning tragic, needless loss. It is possible to be a whole person always, even while feeling the wee-est bit truncated. All things are possible, yes they are.

These are some of the things I've learned since July 15, 2005. I wonder what this next year brings?

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I'm back. The girls were having a surprise party for me out at their picnic table. I received a glass candleholder and two (slightly used, now outmoded) happy meal toys and a lovely letter of appreciation. Sweet little ladies. They even blew up balloons--halfway--and tied them up themselves. It took me a few minutes to bust through all the tape into the snowflake tissue paper they used to wrap everything. I nursed the baby and oohed and ahhed over their thoughtfulness and choice in gifts while they ate lunch. We opted for the angel food cake with strawberries, later had dinner with friends here at home, recovered from a serious error in judgement by the young males in the group, went for a nice two mile walk and had fruit tart when we returned. I'm rolling in happiness here...

So Q had therapy this morning. I asked his therapist about toe-walking, which G does and has since he first began to walk, but not in shoes, just barefoot. It turns out that some kids (absent any structural issues) do this in order to better organize their brains as they are learning or gleaning information. This would explain the learning of the times tables whilst marching up and down the stairs on his toes and memorizing the Gettysburg address whilst walking circles around a chair in the family room--on his toes. Most of these kids have sensory integration issues and exhibit this type of behavior, as well as many other troublesome (for the classroom) characteristics. This often results in taking away privileges, such as recess, which is the worst thing one can do to a kid like this. Bingbingbing!!! The bells are going off.

I feel like the lenses suddenly focused and things are making more sense. Q's therapist (I just love her) gave me a pamphlet on Sensory Integration (SI) for G and told me she thought it would be useful for me to read up on it now, as Q will likely be facing a number of issues related to this. Vestibular and proprioceptive function are two of the biggies listed in the pamphlet. So now I need to get back to the paperwork for G's ADHD evaluation and see where that leads. I think we're in a pretty good position here as far as resources go. The pediatrician is willing to do whatever the individual child needs (within reason, of course) and will work toward that end with other medical professionals.

Wouldn't it be something to have a plan? The therapist said that often OTs (they work more with SI than PTs) write out a "sensory diet" for kids who need things to be consistent in terms of input and the kid does much better when all the bases are being covered in an organized fashion. Wow. Just... Wow. I know G isn't "classic" if SI is in fact an issue for him, in part because he's not terribly bothered by textures and other tactile stimuli, but all that is only part of the story. Wow.

To be able to define this stuff in any way is just enormous. Here's to getting some useful information that will make G consistently happier and easier to work with. (I love the boy, but some days he plain ol' wears me out.) Woohoo. And the fact that it could all help my understanding of Q and his issues and get us more quickly to what he needs? It's gravy.

(The spinning is going well, by the way. Can't wait to get back to the optometrist for the next appointment and see what else there is to learn/do.)

Sweet dreams and peace to you and yours. Happy dancing off to bed.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Hurrying... the baby can only remain ecstatic on his boppy pillow for so long.

It was with great glee that I noted yesterday enroute to piano lessons, passing by a cemetery, the stands of scarlet crocosmia at the entrance. The variety...wait for it..."Lucifer."

It's a good thing no one else resides in my head. I'm pretty sure that I'd be locked up by now for my odd take on the most ordinary of things. Or perhaps I'm just saying out loud what the rest of the population is afraid to admit? Let's go with that, shall we? It'll make me feel less conspicuous. What would make a person plant any plant, gorgeous though it may be, called "Lucifer" outside a cemetery?

I've just piled cherries and caesar salad and mustard potato salad onto the kids' table out in the shade. They have sophisticated tastes for a bunch of kneebiters. Time for lunch. I've just finished mine, because the mama eats while she runs. It was multigrain toast with mushroom brie. Ahhh... I love cheese. We'll have juice and cookies for dessert, chocolate chip of course. And S will pick the chocolate out and leave the cookie. That girl knows what she wants and doesn't settle for anything less. Maybe we'll have berries and angel food cake instead. Hmmm. Depends on how many cherries the kids eat.

Q had therapy this morning and... I'll be back. I'm being paged to the great outdoors.

What a gorgeous day.

Monday, July 03, 2006


What a day.

My mother-in-law, her friend, my five punkins, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and niece drove north to a fantastic private beach. It's a marine station which holds many memories for my family, from the time I was a kid (mice in the cabins), through dating the father of my babies when he was taking classes there, to my brother's and sister-in-law's wedding almost two years ago (new cabins, no mice).

As we pulled in, the fog was burning off, pulling back from the beaches so quickly it appeared to have been waiting for us to arrive before exiting demurely. We spent the afternoon looking down from cliffs on tremendous, noodley kelp beds, perusing teaming tidal pools, holding all sizes and colors of crabs (courtesy of G, resident crab catcher), playing with the multi-colored pebbles on the beach. The thrushes were in rare form as we walked the paths--G said, "Those bird songs make our human instruments sound terrible." There were wild roses everywhere, smelling lemonyrosey and blushing wildly. The ocean spray bushes were heavy with their tiny creamy blossoms, showering us with flowers and pollen when we tried to pass gently by.

The girls waded in, then swam (bravely) in the little cove, shivering but wanting more, even when their lips were leaning toward a charming shade of blueberry. The little cousin waded in, and later tried to fill her sopping diaper with the tiny, wave-rounded stones which are the beach. She also tasted the rocks. They are apparently good, but no substitute for the perennial favorites of cheese or "cockit." We picnicked with gusto, appetites honed by the sea air. Doesn't everything taste better when eaten outdoors? There were only four forks (that we knew of, I should have looked harder--my mother had stocked the cooler pockets) so we made our berry salad into lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce leaves sprinkled with raspberries and blueberries, candied pecans, low-fat feta. We never got around to the huckleberry vinaigrette. We were too enamoured with our tasty (drooling now), fork-free invention. Leftover from yesterday's mountain picnic, we also had black-bottom cupcakes, sandwich stuff, cherries, and of course, excellent company.

My children are awesome. They've been troopers all weekend--being dragged about, driving for hours, hiking, playing in snow and salt water and dealing nicely with a variety of personalities. They are grace on feet. Most of the time, anyway. They are still children. S melted down this evening when her blood sugar hit the floor, but rebounded nicely when I stuffed a little filled lettuce leaf into her mouth. Sweet girl.

We didn't get home until ten minutes to midnight. Wiped out. But in the best way. It's a contented tired. Sighs of sleepy happiness. I love, love, love this part of my life.

Salt-water dreams to you. And good food, great company, much laughter and your own version of deep contentment. May you have these and more. Off to sleep now, before the teething baby awakens.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Something to do

Vision therapy is going to be awesome.

Q saw the world's nicest optometrist on Tuesday. The man is very observant, giving voice to things I'd had that gritchy mama gut over but couldn't quite articulate.

So. Q is exhibiting some "autistic-like" avoidance behaviors. He shuts his eyes and ducks his head down, chin to chest, when he gets overwhelmed by noise or light. He is needing more horizontal stimulation and some help to stop seeing with double vision (maybe we'll work on that next time). In the category of something to do: I hold him with his back to my chest, my hand over his eyes, and spin him around several times every hour, twice each direction, repeating 2-5 times, depending on what he can take. This is supposed to help his vestibular function and vestibulo-ocular reflex, I believe. If I'm getting this right, in the best case scenario there are three neurons involved in this balance/vision thing (three!) and he needs all three of them firing on schedule.

After the doctor had me spin with Q on my lap the first time, Q sat up straight and looked him in the eye, focused, maintained, and smiled. It was like flipping a switch. His therapist said today that he seems more alert, organized in his brain, less easily overwhelmed. Apparently, if we make this part of his system work more, it will want to work more and eventually, the hope is that his brain will "get" that this is how it should be working always, without spinning around all the time, and it will just sort of kick in.

We'll be going back to see the ophthalmologist again soon, but after this, with advice from the optometrist, I think we'll be delaying the eye surgery until he's about a year old. Who knows, maybe he'll get to skip it altogether. We'll see.

See? I told you vision therapy is going to be awesome. All this in the first visit. What a miraculous time and place to live.

My mother-in-law is in town with a friend for this year's CE. We're casting about for something fun to do--mountains or water, we'll see. In any case, there aren't many mothers-in-law who would be such a rock in these kinds of hairy circumstances, but she is, and I'm really enjoying her, as are the kids.

If I don't make it back here before, have a lovely holiday. Revel in your personal freedoms and do something to increase someone else's chances at freedom and personal choice to honor the day. I wish you peace, blessings, and the arms of your beloved.

Sleep well.