30 September 2009


Thank you to Snick and Ches for their comments. Yes, there are many steps forward, a few back have to be expected and taken for what they are -- just steps back in Julia's dance of healing and growing.

Julia's class went on a field trip to the Farmer's Market in the center of town today. They rode the city bus to get there, even transferred buses which the kids really liked. I heard one boy say that, "You can go anywhere on a city bus" Such a community minded soul. There may come a time when thinking like that will be necessary, and this generation might live that time.

Julia chose respberries as her treat at the Farmer's Market. I was very grateful -- lots of kids chose cookies and none of those were permissible on her diet. She even shared her berries with her friends, and I watched her interact so much more in such an appropriate way with the other kids. They are understanding and forgiving with her, granted, but she is getting closer to knowing what to do with peers.

But I saw her in school before the field trip as well, and she could not do her math work in the classroom. She had a small meltdown and Ginny took her into the room next door to the classroom that is set up as a sensory room. Julia jumped on the tamp for awhile and then was albe to do her work. Of course, this makes me wonder about home schooling. It makes me wonder about meds. It makes me wonder . . .

There is such a division inside of me -- part of me wants to do whatever I can to make Julia as NT as possible and get her caught up with her peers so that she can be like everybody else. And then, there is a part that knows for sure that Julia must travel on her own path and that my job is to make her as much of herself as she can be. That catching up with some vision of normalacy is not useful to her; that learning the way that other kids learn is just not for her. Where that will take us, I have no idea. And there is the rub -- the not knowing, the groping in the dark, the wondering why I cannot find that perfect, correct path. Oh, I have to get over myself!

A friend (Hi, Sherri!) started a new blog with the following:

I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time . . . Namely, that if you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. And the life that you ought to be living, is the one you ARE living. --Joseph Cambell

How did I not take a course from that man when we were both at SLC?? But I have believed him for a long time in my head, and these days it has all become a reality. Like Julia, and my vision of Julia, I don't know where I am going. I am traveling, and sometimes traveling fast. Even then, the wait for a sighting of the destination . . . . Oh, the journey, that journey, how do I love the journey?

How often can I sa the same things?

29 September 2009


I was without the internet for most of the day and got way too much done. So, the writing is on the wall? Lots of sorting and straightening of my once again mess of a desk.

Julia had a rough day at school, and considering that she has had a number of rough days at home and at church on Sunday, I was not surprised. I was reading that there can be a withdrawal from gluten and casin and we are about midway through the 3-month time that it takes gluten to clear from the body, this could be a reason for the behavior.

Julia has also had such an increase in adult stimulation in the last few weeks that she might be responding to that in an unfavorable way. Today, for example, she is in school from 7:30 to 2:30, and then therapy from 3:30 to 7:30. Twelve hours of education or interaction with an hour break for some mama cuddling.

David is hoping the I find a shrink who will be willing to start some sort of drug therapy. I am looking for a DAN doctor who will adjust her diet, give her supplements, and then consider some drugs. And right now, the DAN doc would not be covered by insurance.

Everyone has been so excited about Julia's good behavior -- so have I! -- and the resurfacing of bad behavior -- refusal to do what she is told, throwing things, hitting and kicking, refusing to take a time out in school -- is difficult to see again. We all want her to get better, be healed, be closer to a NT kid. We want her to fit in somehow, somewhere.

But here it is again.

She is also talking a mile a minute. A bigger vocabulary and longer sentences, and all the time. And right now, after 12 hours of her day, she is still talking and has not slowed down one bit. No mellowing at all.

Gosh, if I could only see where she can get to and how to get to that place, I'd do it all. Instead, sometimes it feels like such a crap shoot and who knows what is working. Then again, the step back has to come every so often.

28 September 2009

Umm, I don't understand what is happening.

I did a whole lot of cooking today. David has been wanting to make chana masala -- an Indian chick pea dish -- and has been looking at recipes. I decided to make it today along with a chicken dish. The amount of work involved was more than I usually do for a weekday super but the dishes were great. I was going to post one of them here because I have a few friends who have asked what I am doing with GFCF cooking, but it seems I cannot copy from word processing.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Julia had a good morning at school, but a tough time with most of her therapy today. She could not stay focused on anything that Annie wanted to do during OT, and at home, she was really testing Morgan. I had to hold her for awhile and sit her on the stair for a time out. She just didn't want to do anything that she did not want to do.

Julia also seems to be more sensitive to sounds -- loud, but also metal rubbing against eachother, sirens, trains and thunder. This weekend she started pulling up her shirts to cover her nose -- an old habit that she dropped months ago.

This may be the step back after a few weeks of moving forward. She may be way over stimulated without enough down time. Today, for instance, she went to school from 7:30 to 12.30, then came an hour of OT, then we came home to therapy from 3:30 until 7:30.

And the weather is changing. Today, little kids needed stones in their pockets to keep from flying away. It was dark and stormy, very dramatic. Is it just too much change? Could be, I feel tht way at times.


It is dreary and very windy today. Lots of wind and rain last night and lots of leaves, as well as our table umbrella down this morning. The city is trimming our trees today, or at least our smallest tree. I wonder what they intend to do with the two very large trees. It is tough to be the guardian of trees when I have no power to advice or request. I requested the trimming and there was where the power ended. I hope the cutters do not butcher those trees.

I wrote an Estate Letter to my family yesterday after one of my sisters inquired about how things were going. I had not updated them on the finding of the contamination and I really was not going to because it is just more of the same and no end in sight. I am assuming that everyone is okay with the progress because no one questions me. I have no time to guess at satisfaction.

Desk work today and hopefully some research time. And looking for a good chana masala recipe.

Julia wanted to be angry this morning. She worked herself up as she got dressed. I am in a quandry as to why she does that now and then. Not always, and handling it in the most nonplused way is the best way through it. But why? Is angry so comfortable? She was able to tell me that she was angry with me because I made her go to school. When she says she does not want to go to school, I say that I want her to get dressed now and talk about school later. Usually, by the time we get to schoo, she is calm. Today, she brought in a dinosaur skelton that she made this weekend with her therapists. I hope she is able to handle putting it away during school. We talked about putting it away during school time in front of on of her aides. Hopefully that will help.

27 September 2009

Where I am today

I want to get back into some habits that I have lost. Habits of a short time and in some cases habits that I found in spite of myself. Meditation, recognition of synchronicity, art, physical exercise, spiritual and practical growth -- of course, never all at the same time. As I work hard to help Julia learn independence, I want to also find that for myself - joyous work and growth.

My efforts these days, this year continual to revolve around Julia. Even to the extent that I work with PTO and writing about my own thoughts and feelings, it usually spirals into thoughts and actions to make Julia's life richer. Considering that my motto last year was to give myself away, I am a success. But this success does not erase that I am still in a period of transformation and transition. I am used to doing work that makes my living and long to do work that is right livelihood, engaging, and personally rewarding. And that makes enough money to pull my weight in our family.

I am inpatient with the transition. I have come to a hard realization that there is no answer to be derived on a date certain and will lead without fail to a one inch add in a local newspaper, an interview, and a desk by a small window. Instead, whatever comes next, I will have to make it happen, cobble it together, and launch it into the world. This has been the challenge that has hung over my head all of my life. And I just better take it to my breast and hug it hard. I am not getting away from it, and believe me, I have tried very hard.

I started this entry a few hours ago, feeling inpatient and confused but after writing and thinking some, I know it is just a progress report from the field. I have not hit pay dirt, I have no answers, but I jog along, not unhappy at all. Maybe I am beginning to understand that it is all the journey. I would have never believed the scenery when I was in my 20's.

25 September 2009

Julia Friday and Saturday

Julia had 5 hours of therapy on Friday and was pretty cranky during all of it. She was fidgety while Jeff was reading to her, and ornery during all her transitions. I think she is tired. In fact, we are all pretty tired for no good reason. I wonder if this has something to do with our diet and our bodies' withdrawal from wheat.

Julia brought home a mess of papers in her Friday folder. Wow! Just like the other kids. There were some word work sheets and some writing and her first MATH FACTS SHEET. It is addition using the numbers 1-5 and all but one of the 20 or so problems were done! Many were even correct! I know that she does math work one-on-one with Ginny, but it is amazing to see that she did it! I could write with all exclamations because I wondered if we would ever get this far.

Our friend and Cheshire's best friend since 3rd grade is in town for the weekend. I was sooo nice to have dinner with her and stay up late and watch an old movie. No, Linde is not Cheshire, but we have shared so much of her growing up and Linde's priorities and personality just melt into our family. It was so nice to have a young person with depth and feeling to talk to.

Julia had morning therapy (and was in a much more cooperative mood) on Saturday and after lunch we went out walking to feed some ducks and gueese and sea gulls -- where do the gulls come from? It took awhile to get the interest of the birds but once we did they clustered around us quacking, hissing, and squawking. The birds was hungry and interested but not scary agressive so it was fun. When we ran out of bread, the birds changed their sounds and very quickly dispursed. I am sure we were not the first or the last feeder of the day.

Tonight, David and I have a sitter, one of our line therapists, and we are going for dinner and a movie. Oh, how grown up.
Feeling rather discouraged, still energized, but wondering exactly where to put that energy.

I have the Bloomfield house that is a constant engine demanding a bit of work all the time. The investigator hired by the home owner's insurance company found oil contamination which looks like it leaked on the neighbor's land. So, they send the report saying that to the insurance company and ask the insurance company if they will cover the clean up and if they, the investigators, can test on the neighbor's land. If insurance says, yes, then the investigator gets in touch with the neighbors (who are Polish and do not speak a lot of English. Oy!), gets permission to go on their land, and starts testing on their land and delineate the contamination. The do more borings and then send it to the lab. My investigator says that it usually takes a few times doing borings to get the delineation done. Each round (boring and testing) takes from two weeks to a month. When they finish, they send findings to insurance and insurance approves (or not) the project. Then there are city and state permits and at some point we start digging.

I was thinking about the why of all this cleaning on oil contaminated land in surburban Jersey, and as David mentioned it to me today, I need to wonder about some of it. I am following the law and I intend to do what we must. But why? Why are we cleaning oil contamination from under a driveway, a lawn, and some sidewalk. What does oil in the soil do? If it increases some disease to those who are living around , waiting until the land changes hands is not the most effective way to decrease the contamination.

I wasn't going to find out about anything about oil contaminated ground but I've written myself into the question. Now, I have to some research to do to find out.

24 September 2009

David's Birthday

David's birthday today. And I am the suzy homemaker. A big pot of tomato sauce with meatballs and sausage simmers on the stove. I made my first GFCF bread which is supposed to be french break although it is made in a 9x5 baking pan. The taste is not bad and if everyone likes it, I'll get some baguette pans to use for the next time. A chocolate cake is in the oven and taking forever to be finished and the marshmallow icing is in the fridge. Presents are wrapped and the table is set.

A very home made birthday.

Julia has had some very good days in school. She now care what she gets on her behavior charts. Although she received them almost all of last year, it did not really matter to her if there were smiley faces on the chart or frowns. Now, she knows the difference between the smiling face, the sad face, and the neutral face. And Ginny tells me that Julia wants smiles. She has not gotten more than one sad face a day for at least a week. And some of the neutral faces are for not getting on line when asked, not hitting someone.

The last two gym times have been devoted to square dancing and Julia has enjoyed doing it. Incredible! Square dancing is all about following directions. I can't wait to get into the classroom and see Julia in action.

On Tuesday, Rowan came over again after school, and Jeff was the line therapist of the afternoon. It was a riotous time. Lots of noise which might be attributed to the weather being sooo rainy during the school day and so indoor kindergarten. The girls played dress up and they gave Jeff a mask to put on. He started chasing them -- I'm not sure but I would not be surprised if that was Julia's idea -- and they went shrieking around the house. It was much too loud but wonderful. I have never seen Julia so free and easy -- she seemed to be trusting the world.

This afternoon, I picked Julia up to go to Marilyn's at one. Julia was talking as we left the building and talked nonstop until she picked up some clay at Marilyn's. This is not terribly unusual for Julia, she uses her speech to control as much as her world as she can. Once she feels safe and loved, will she be a quiet child? I wonder.

22 September 2009

The chicken

Here is a queen chicken who is cooking something in a big pot while looking at her cookbook that is over her shoulder.

From the weekend

My computer is back and I have a few pictues to post.

Rain, rain, stay awhile

The rain is coming down, hard and fast. We need it. We've have no rain for a long time. Weeks? We had some yesterday and it is predicted to rain through the weekend. The daytime temperature is holding at about 70. Maybe my backyard grass still has a chance. I planted 2-3 weeks ago and I've been pretty religious watering to keep the ground wet, and yet I get a few sparse, teasing blades here and there. The thick rich green I foresee coming in has not materialized.

I have also been neglecting my gardens. Funny, when I was much younger I would stop taking care of my hair when I was over stressed. It was long; I could pin it up. It was always clean, but I could go days without a comb. I have no idea what people thought. Now, it is my garden. An astute observer would know that this has been a rather tough time.

I love a good fall rainy day like this one. The house is dark, twilight all day. I need a light to read or even to see the keyboard. I am free until 2:30. I need to shop -- socks, a few new tee shirts for myself as my favorites are no longer black from too many washings. I can pick up my laptop today -- bad connections replaced. No where near too much money which might give me a chance to ditch my current laptop for an Mac notebook. I don't really mind.

Julia's behavior charts have been coming home pretty good, but I notice that there is a morning time called Calendar Time that she has consistently had a problem with. Hitting the aide and throwing things yesterday. I asked the aide this morning in the playground -- one of the perks of hanging around the school all the time is relationships with lots of people -- and she thinks that Julia is bored. She has no interest in counting days forwards or backwards, figuring out addition and subtraction problems of how many kids are eating school or home lunch, and what the date is. I am sure most of it goes over her head right now. Julia cannot sit bored for 10 minutes without getting into trouble. Now to think about a strategy to change that behavior.

I just turned around and saw a scorpion on the floor, and for less than a moment caught my breadth. Oh that kid, and her plastic bugs! Yes, just another toy. Do all girls play with plastic insects when they can't play with the real ones?

21 September 2009

A new day, a new challenge

Trusting my gut on this one - that Julia is effected by the food that she eats, I want to get help. Medical help. Perhaps a DAN (Defeat Autism Now!) doc, but I'd like someone who could cover all the bases including giving Julia drugs like Ritalin if it is appropriate. So I call my family doc, who recommends that I check out an integrated medicine practice. I call them and the medical technitian explains that I can see "anyone," no one is exclusively for kids or for kids with autism. I ask if I can consult with someone before I bring Julia in and the answer is no. I ask what tests are done and they say they don't test. I say thank you and hang up.

I wrote to two DAN docs on a list and both emails came back as undeliverable. I found another practice to write to or call. I am hoping to find someone who I can just talk to before we commit. Wisconsin has a new insurance requirement that says that autism treatment must be covered. I am not sure what kind of medical treatment will be covered, but I don't want to just experiment on Julia. I don't want to just try a treatment and see what happens. That is what I've done with the diet and I wish I had someone to monitor it.

20 September 2009


A tough day. This was the beginning of the church school year. Julia has a new class with new teachers but with the same aide as she had last year -- a lovely college girl who is smart and resourceful and very loving. We planned to meet Erin, our aide, before church began and we went to the classroom. As soon as we arrived at the classroom, Julia's behavior started to decline. She wriggled away from our grasp, she sat on the floor, she whined, she investigated things that she was told not to touch. She did not want to meet the teachers or the kids that were coming in. She did not want to greet Erin and said that she hated church and did not want to go to class. David took her outside to sit on a step and take a time out. I talked to the teachers and then joined Julia and David. I sat with Julia, helped her to calm down, telling her that she was safe, that we would pick her up after class, that even if Daddy was angry (something that she said) that Daddy loved her and could pick her up after class. She did agree to go with Erin, and they went outside. Later, they were joined by the rest of the new class and Julia did go into class with Erin when the class went back inside. I don't think she necessarily did anything in the class but we peeked into class at the end of the service and she was talking to Erin while the other kids were listening to one of the main teachers.

Yesterday, we went to a christening. After almost a month on GFCF eating, Julia ate wheat noodles and a few brownies. Do I blame the circumstances or the food? Could it really have been the food? How long does it take for food to cause a reaction? And how long does it take for that food to get out of her body?

Oh, I feel like such a amateur! Constantly.

Julia's behavior knocked me for a loop, and I was in a funk all day. If it was not the food, we have not come as far as I thought.

19 September 2009

Julia is in the kitchen cooking with Dad, so I will steal a few minutes. OY! not to have my laptop leaves me at her mercies since she would rather be on the computer.

Tonight duing reading time, Julia finished reading More Spaghetti, I Say! In the Scholastic Reader series, this is level 2 and so there is more than one sentence on each page. She still needs help with many of the words but it will not be long before we are starting on a new book.


Julia is standing behind me holding my in a soft hug. She tells me to write that Julia is happy. I know that she is hoping that I will finish with the computer and let her on to play. She has discovered PSDKIDS.org and all the games there. She loves the new show Dinosaur Train. It is on at a bad time for her as she is already at school, but we have managed to catch it once this week around dinner time. And there are games and explanations of dinosaurs at the website.

Each time I slow down typing, Julia says, "are you done?" Ummmmm

We had two dental appointments this week, both on Thursday in fact. Ugh! Julia has an extra tooth in the gum above her front teeth. It has to come out because it is very close to her front teeth. And, a bottom eye tooth that is coming in is very week. It has chipped a little bit and it is a grey color. That has to be drilled, filled, and caped. We are going to try the drilling next month using nitrous oxide. If it is too much for her, which it might be we may have to go to the hospital and have both things done at the same time. The oral surgeon had suggested that they put her in a papus board, tying her arms and hands down. I nixed that right away. No more trauma is my cry! I know I cannot prevent all bad things from happening, but I can minimize what I see coming, and this is a definite place I can do that.

Julia is saying "No more words" and so I stop.

18 September 2009

Julia counted by 5's up to 65 yesterday and wrote the numbers on a white board. Yes, she had support, but she stayed focused and on task for the whole exercise. If this is our diet, I will give up cheese forever! What is a fine piece of gouda compared to math!?

17 September 2009

Harumph! I am growchy. My laptop is dead -- or will not start at all. I don't like this new blog design and I can't fix it because everything I use is on the laptop.

But . . .

Julia and I are going to pick up David in a few minutes from his Kentucky travels, and we have had a really good time together. Julia is more mellow than she has ever been, and she is able to listen and understand (I think) what is going on. Marilyn was saying today that Julia and I have been traveling a lot over the last few months and maybe that has something to do with her understanding. That may be true. Maybe she is more comfortable with the idea of going away and coming back.

But it is also her clarity. Julia asks more questions about the here and now, and also about what is coming. She has been trying very hard to say Kentucky -- it has too many consonent and messes her up every time. she surprises people with questions -- Is you car okay? she asked one of her therapists after the therapist called in the day before because of car trouble. She is remembering and then using language to show people that she cares. Right out of one of our social story books.

16 September 2009

Just like you

Days are busy and the balls I am juggling hit the ground at times. I am lucky that I am not juggling eggs as my balls appear to be resilient, bouncing back up into my waiting hands. And then something small happens, and time is still:

I am proud that Julia and I have been managing well this week, especially in the mornings. And we are so busy that she falls asleep easily at night. Then again, so do I.

This morning, as I was getting ready to comb her hair for school, I asked how she wanted it done. I always ask questions, sometimes give options, in the hope that she will answer me. Sometimes she does, more often now she does, but not always. Today, I asked and she told me she wanted her hair done like mine, in a pony tail. I asked if she wanted a ribbon and she always does, and she said, no, she wanted it just like mine.

Now there are enough down sides to her wanting to be like me, but wow! how wonderful is that?? Julia wants to be like her mom.

12 September 2009

For the next few days, David will be away in Kentucky as a Toll Fellow and Julia and I will be at home. We took David to the airport at 5 this morning. Julia woke up so very cheerfully. She is always up for an early morning -- still night, she says -- adventure. She was bright as a shiny penny by the time she climbed in the car with her cosy clothes (a sweat suit that I dread her outgrowing because it has pants!) and was filled with so many observations. As she waked outside, she exclaimed that the stars were beautiful and the moon was still up and the crickets were singing but very softly. Were they tired, mommy? And I marvel at the joys this child can find in the beginning of the day.

On our way to the airport, she observed the blinking red lights that we went through, the empty road, her school yard empty, the sun coming up on the eastern horizon. Is this child who celebrates the morning stars and the softness of a cricket's song, the soul of my child? It is so exciting to see her so clear and bright.

Of course, in case a reader has a golden vision of a joyous sprite, right now, Julia is arguing with her therapist about going outside. Oh, she can be so stubborn and closed off to any suggestion that does not come from her.

Julia has been talking about happy cars and sad cars, and now she is talking about colors the same way == connecting colors with feelings. I had done research about synsethesia for a story and wonder if Julia has a touch of this gift/burden, or whether it is her very active imagination.

On the food front, we are all doing pretty well on the GFCF diet. I made my old pasta and vegie dish last night with elbows made of rice. the taste was a bit bland but satisfying. Spices carry the day. The noodles were very fragile, however, and my rigorous mixing of the pasta and noodles in the big frying pan was a mistake. Next time, I'll mix them in a bowl and be much more gentle. Probably, not cooking the noodles as long is in order as well even though I timed the pasta according to the box.

This morning, after Julia and I woke up the second time (because we did go back to bed after taking David to the airport -- or at least I did, Julia watched a movie and played), I made bacon (turkey) and eggs with toast. For the first time, I used the soy spread and the rice bread that Julia has been eating for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gosh, it was awful! A yellow foul tasting stain on cardboard. The rice bread looks more like bread that other kids bring to school but I think we'll go back to those dense, nutty loafs.

We did bake our first batch of GFCF chocolate chip cookies, and Julia loved them. I am no great cookie chef and I have to work on this a bit. I bought the ingredients for carrot muffins and I expect to have more immediate luck with those.

I found today that some of what I bought before this is not as GFCF as I thought. It is a learning experience to check every bit of fine print. Who knew GF flour mixes contained butter milk or hot dogs milk by products. So we are not completely GFCF, but was are getting closer.


When do you start a memoir? Certainly, a writer cannot wait to see how the story, the life, turns out. But is there a certain point, a day, a moment when there is a path that can be seen forwards and backwards stretching in both directions? Is that the day?

Is this the day?

Of course, this came to me in the shower -- where else? Sitting in front of a blank screen, I can dawdle away the hours with little to show but the bare facts written in the most mundane style for a blog entry, but in the shower or on the treadmill (when I use the treadmill, and I can see Cheshire laughing), I become eloquent and could spin out enlightened and enlightening thoughts with three dollar words and mature musings.

In medias res. Well, that is certainly now.

11 September 2009

Julia had a rockier week as school this week, but even so, her behavior report showed big parts of each day when her behavior was good. Added to that, she brought home papers with some math work that she did -- it is the beginning of addition. From what Ginny reports, Julia has spent 15 minutes working with Ginny on addition for the last two days.

Julia also worked with another child to do reading. I have not heard what she is reading or if she is remembering any words that we have worked with at home. I hope to hear about that next week. I have heard that she is listening to stories and I wonder how long it will be before she is answering questions.

Questions can still be hard. When Julia is angry, I try to ask her why. She will tell me that she is sorry, or what she did because she was angry, but she can never tell me the reason she is angry. I don't know whether she does not understand the question or cannot go back that far or something else.

10 September 2009

First tantrum of the year.

Very short b/c I've got to clean up the desk and write thank you notes!

But . . .

Two hot dogs buns this weekend; loose poop on Tuesday. No therapy on Tuesday; first in school tantrum on Thursday.


Circumstances do not make this scientifically controlled (no wonder no one can can say what the GFCF diet does!). Julia's teachers were out of the classroom doing assessments with other students. They were replaced with two staff members who do not do classroom teaching and who, an aide told me, had no idea what to do with the class. It was chaos according to this aide. It sounds like Julia tried to keep it together but finally failed just before lunch.

I was working lunch room duty yesterday and Julia was very strange when she came down to lunch. She had been in a time out after her tantrum and did not see or greet me like she had last week in the lunch room. It was as if she was drugged or with heavy blinders on. I had to get very close to her to get a response from her, and then that response was minimal. It shocked me to see her like this but the truth is that she was like that -- dull and unresponsive -- so often in the last three years. I have no idea if it was worse after tantrums and melt downs but maybe. She is so attentive now, and so much clearer -- she has a defined sharpness. I wonder what tantrums do to her. Do they release some chemical into her body that dulls her senses?

Another piece -- I don't quite know what to make of it, but another piece.

09 September 2009

Juggling in the closet

Okay, another day! How did the house get so messy and my desk get to be so much of heap? I was pretty much together last Friday, and now . . . .

I find that concentrating on one thing exclusively is detrimental to the rest of life. If I was working outside the home, I'd say I need a wife, but as a SAHM, what can I need? An assistant! Someone to keep the balls in the air while I dive into one area. I know that the key is moderation, but boy, is that tough. One, two, even three balls, I can keep up, but . . . . In college where I studied theater and dance (Gosh, I do have to say that now that life has changed so much), I learned to juggle. The teacher said that he learned to do it in a closet. After all, when you drop balls, the don't have far to roll. There is a metaphor somewhere in there, but I can't really draw it out.

Hey, thanks for recent comments! I am terribly behind on email and communication in general, so I can't really expect that I am going to catch up enough to reply to comments, but I love the support and the ideas. I read and consider. Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to think about what I write and respond to it with pieces of your own life. It makes this experience of blogging so much more interesting for me.

I have to get back to juggling this morning, but first . . .

Julia had two hot dog buns this past weekend -- the first off-diet food in more than 2 weeks. Yesterday, we had some loose poop. Okay, ucky to talk about. Skip this paragraph if you want, but this is the first indication that there may be some result coming out of our change of diet. I was going to jump on it as a reaction to gluten but I am sure the bun also contained some milk product. My friend, Kay, who is alergic to gluten, told me that when she quit gluten she felt a sense of a veil being lifted -- her attention was much better, she felt clear and quick. And so, I wonder if this is the dramatic change we are hearing about from school.

Back to those balls

08 September 2009


Just exhausted, but my first PTO meeting is over! I did an adequate job of keeping our engines going and plowing through most of the agenda and fnished the meeting on time. I spent way too much time getting ready for tonight, but I was able to do what I set out to do. Unfortunately, after the meeting, I spoke with someone who has done a lot of work for the PTO and very thoughtlessly, hurt her feelings. And so, as happy as I am for staying afloat tonight, I feel awful about what I did after it.


The child continues to amaze!

Yesterday, at the Milwaukee County Zoo, we went to the farm animal "barnyard" and bought our quarter's worth of goat food and proceeded into the goat pen. It was very large, the goats was not incredibly agressive due to the number of kids happily feeding each Baa-a-a. Julia was so excited to see goats up close and was braver than she has been at our little zoo in Madison because the goats were mellow. She is so very interested in animals but apart from bugs, she is usually so scared of them that she cannot touch them. She has made some strides this summer petting my sister's cat and then picking up Jaden's kittens -- some truly unthreatening animals -- but offered the goat food which she loved getting from the gum-like machine. Then we coaxed and coaxed until finally she put her hand out and fed a very gentle goat. I was ready to take that goat home -- no, only kidding. It was wonderful. We had to coax her again and again to do it over and over and I suspect that we will have to do the same a few times before she is ready to feed them on her own, but she was brave and she did it.

I am so proud of her and proud that mama captured it on film, even though I will have to upload later as I am having some trouble doing it now.

Another step, small but significant because it was about her fears!

06 September 2009

This weekend is the last days that our community pool will be open. Julia and I have spent lots of time at the pool and the adjoining big sand pit this summer. Yesterday, I saw this interaction:

Julia went over to two boys about her age who were working on a canal-like structure (we have lots of water available to sand/water play). Julia squatted down next to one of the boys, probably the older of the two.

Julia: Can I play with you?

Boy (looks up for an instant): No.

Julia: Can I watch what you are doing?

Boy (looks up for a longer instant, frowns, and resumes digging): Sure.

Julia then examines, very carefully, what the boys have done. She asks questions about a tunnel they they are working on and then asks if she can begin a hole close to their canal. Watching just her and ignoring the reaction of the boys, I could rejoice in this utterly appropriate behavior.

But for some reason, she is not connecting with them. Is it that she is a girl? That she asked so politely, and in some way so inappropriately? Is it that they are boys and just not interested in interacting with her? Okay, her asking to dig next to their canal was a bit weird – she should have just done it without a question. And she may have been too interested in what they were doing, her questions too probing for the boys.

I rethink the interaction. On the very positive side: Julia used her words. She was polite. She did not get angry when the boy didn't want her to play. Her control was remarkable. She found an alternative that worked for both her and that boy. On the negative side: The boys did not take to Julia. Looking at them, it was very clear that they thought she was weird. I know she is an 8 year old girl approaching an 8 (or so) year old boy. Is that it? I would like another explanation apart from her challenges. And I know that I cannot have one. Julia is still Julia. A bit too over the top; a bit Aspergers, if that makes sense. Too intense? Too interestd? But we can deal with that.

05 September 2009


This morning, I made pancakes (gfcf pancakes! which tasted very good) and Julia helped me. She has always been interested in cooking and I've always attributed it to her chores at the orphanage. But she usually has not had the patience to follow my directions. Today, I asked her to take out two eggs, she did. Break the eggs into my batter, she did. Mix, she did, very carefully. And then she hung around and watched me cook. Is this normal for an 8 year old? It feels like it.

Of course, Julia being Julia was much too excited when David came down to join us and grabbed his arm when he was holding his coffee. It spilled all over. No, not perfect, but then she is 8, and her quick apology made me smile.

Casin (part of animal milk) works out of the body pretty quickly and Julia has been Casin free for at least 2 weeks -- probably more like 3.5. Is this new behavior due to a change in food? It is just so stark a change, so dramatic and in so many areas.

04 September 2009

High Point Insurance -- A great company -- Not!

Just gotta' vent a little. Selling the house. The Buyers are gone, the oil tank was removed, holes were found, we are now in state controlled remediation, I made a third party liability claim under the home owners insurance, the insurance company says not to do any digging until they get out to the house to take borings on our property and now . . . . the insurance company is considering whether to cancel our insurance because the owner does not live there. When the insurance woman said this after I had explained the whole situation including that I thought we were going to close on the house today, I said in a dead pan voice as I could manage. "The owner is dead." She was very sorry for my loss but . . . . Anyone staying there, even a family member who is staying to keep someone in the house, is considered a renter, and insurance would want to start a new policy -- renter's insurance.

Insurance would feel better if the house was under contract, but now that our buyers have walked, it would need to be a new contract, and how can we write a new contract when we cannot say when closing will be because we cannot say when the remediation will take place because insurance has not given us the go ahead to get the work done until their people are out there.

I did almost lose it on the phone and then back tracked and apologized and explained the circumstances.

Ah, is this the free market economy that conservatives cry for? Is it all business? Clearly, this woman called me to find some way to cancel the house insurance that my mother and father have paid for since 1992 (when they changed to High Point Insurance) so that they will not have to cover a litigimate claim for oil tank clean up. Nothing personal, just an insurance company trying to save money for its investors. The insurance has been paid for and whatever it was happened on their watch -- There is no way the insured has any leverage at all. The lack of compassion is appalling, but I wonder if that is just my liberal heart crying and a fiscal conservative would just nod his head and say, 'of course.'

Just a comment to a quote

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus

My daughter came home at 5.5 years old. The first time she rode on a merry-go-round, she laughed and cheered. That first summer, I stood by her horse, holding on to her because I was afraid she might fall off.

The next year, she rode on her own. I stood on the side and like all the goofy parents waved like a crazy woman each time my daughter's horse came by. She didn't wave. She didn't even look at me. She was intent on riding, looking forward or all around, or at the ceiling that was painted blue with gold stars.

I felt the by-then familiar thump in the depth of my stomach -- she had no idea that she was supposed to wave, or even look for me. It was not that she couldn't wave but that no one had ever put her on a merry-go-round, or a little boat, or a pony and then stood on the side cheering her on. The process of learning to be a family takes a long time.

Now, her third summer in our family, my daughter knows how to look for me in a crowd, how to yell, "Mommy!", and wave as passionately as any other kid who rides the merry-go-round. Another year, another lesson.

03 September 2009


I don't know how long it will take for me to get bored with saying that Julia had a good morning. Maybe the entire school year? Well, she did. She is still voicing her "I don't want to go to school" at some point during the morning, but it lacks a certain conviction, and she is not screaming when she says it. Today, she did not want to get dressed upstairs before going down to turn on the TV. I let her, sending down clothes for her to put on while watching tv. Last year, even last spring, the clothes would have remained untouched until I came down to dress her, but by the time I was done with my shower and dressing, she was finished dressing. She also did not argue when I asked her to come upstairs to comb her hair.

Is this new clarity on her part? And the followup has to be, is it intensive therapy, is it the GFCF diet, it is Julia growing? I wish I could put an answer on this one. An answer for any of my millions of whys would be nice, but . . . yeah, I know.

This morning, we drove to school, I walked Julia to the playground, and helped her find her line to deposit her backpack, and then she told me I could leave. I asked for a kiss, got one, made sure that someone would corral Julia when the bell rang and left.

Wow. I was wondering if that would ever happen. Julia is feeling much more secure. I believe that her fear level is lower than its ever been with us.

I worked lunch the past two days at school and I also had my first PTO executive committee meeting yesterday. Lunch is handled in two shifts between 11 and noon. The first shift of kids comes to eat first and goes out for lunch recess after wards; the second shift does the opposite. There are two staff people to work lunch -- the principal and an aide. There is no way that two of them can handle lunch alone. Especially during the first day with kindergartners with deer in the headlight stares are completely lost. I worked inside, helping with set up, distribution of hot lunch, cleaning up, and getting ready for the next shift. No, I don't intend to do this all school year but I can't leave without knowing that there are sufficient helpers.

The executive meeting was interesting. I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants, which I was. The six people who were there praised my "energy" and ideas but I know that there will be some backlash as I ask for changes. Right now, my goal is to push for changes but to also listen. When I am nervous, which I am doing this leading stuff, I get very nervous and miss things. This is where I must work the hardest. There is always an opposing view and I must hear it.

02 September 2009


Julia's second day was better than her first! Her teachers and aides are all commenting on her good behavior. She was able to write a story and draw pictures with it, and then she wanted to share it (At the appropriate time) with her classmates. She read her story (yes, it is very simple. One very simple sentence on each of 4 pages.) to the class and then when she went to sit down, she told Ginny (one of her teachers) that "the kids like me." Oh, this touches my heart. She so wants friends but in the past her behavior could be pretty strange to some of the kids. Maybe putting her in a class with so many different kids will work very well and Julia will find some friends.

I was asked to find an article which can explain autism to the parents. Her teacher wants to send something home, and wants the discussion to be out in the open. This is a wonderful idea. I know of nothing off hand, but I am going to start looking.

We are adjusting to people in the house, the therapists, after school sometimes up to 7:30. There is a letting down and opening up. The chi, life force in our house, is changing. I don't mean to be all mystical but I feel a shifting

01 September 2009

More first day pictures

Julia did not perfectly line up, but she stayed with her class in the vacinity of the group. This is a huge improvement over last year at th beginning of school.
Julia was very cooperative walking into class. Considering that a week ago, she had a melt down before we visited school, today was a success! I cannot vouch for what went on inside school, but I worked in the lunch room today and Julia was pleased to see me when she came in for lunch but she did not break from line or shout out. She was appropriately happy. How nice was that!?
When Julia came out, she did not bound out of the building like she used to do. She was subdued and in control. She saw me and gave me a hug and kiss, but did not act as if she was desperate to see me.
This was success. Now, I can't wait to see what she can learn.

First day of Second Grade

Look at that smile! Look at the masterful stance! My girl made it through reentry into school with narry a wimper or a sigh. Actually, it all went very smoothly. She still needs an aide to help her stay in line, but apart from a tinsy bit of wandering, she was perfect. Oh, now I hope that she did as well INSIDE the classroom. She is in with a lot of kids she does not know but that may have some huge benefits to her.

Can't wait to pick her up and see what she says!