Sunday, June 22, 2008

Even Though I Admitted to Frequent Whining and Complaining

I'm feeling ill today and I'm not sure I'm currently qualified to to post anything coherent, but I wanted to let you all know:


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

I am not sure how such superiority is possible, given I walk around the house in stocking feet, I have been known to eat onions, radishes, or garlic before a date or going to bed, I've dared more than once to correct my husband's speech or actions before others, and I fail to write my husband's relatives regularly.

But maybe I make up for my deficiencies by reacting with delight to marital congress.

A Technical Note

I have recently gone and retagged a bunch of posts with the tag "Sensory Disorder." This includes some posts about Isaac that I wrote before I knew he had a sensory disorder. I've done this to make it easier for other parents whose kids are facing sensory issues to read a record of my family's journey, from the beginning.

So, if you've come here because you are interested in reading about one family's experience with Sensory Integration/Sensory Processing Disorder (BTW, would someone settle on a name, already? It would help with the doctors and schools and such, kthxbye), click on the Sensory Disorder tag.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Checking Out The Beacon

Last night I went to a little fundraising party at The Royale for The St. Louis Beacon, a new, locally owned and operated, non-profit news publication.

If you visit the site, you'll find that The Beacon follows the typical format of a traditional newspaper website. Only, without the newspaper. The Beacon is entirely online; there is no dead tree version. But many of the Beacon staff writers and editors are traditional journalists with a long history writing for various print publications.

It's an interesting old-meets-new sort of project: Traditional journalists, frustrated by what they see as a general deterioration in quality of a traditional print media struggling in the face of an ever-more-challenging, financially strapped market, turning to the internet in an attempt to provide their audience with the kind of in-depth, locally focused news coverage of a sort that they feel is no longer being offered by the traditional outlets that used to publish their work.

Ever since it launched, I've been curious about how The Beacon plans to interact with local bloggers and social media. I asked a few questions at the party, and I was pleased with the responses I got from Beacon staff.

I had an engaging chat with The Beacon's Presentation Editor, Brent Jones, who mentioned that he makes a point of manually inputting Beacon headlines into the Beacon Twitter account instead of using a program to update automatically, because he wants followers to know there's a real person behind the account.

We talked about the how the old media tradition of broadcasting information is giving way to a much more interactive news model, and we discussed the often conflicted relations between bloggers and traditional journalists, and the intellecual property dust-ups and territorial fights that have caused resentment on both sides.

Overall, The Beacon's staff seemed receptive to the idea of working with area bloggers to form a postive, mutually respectful relationship, which I think is very good news.

I hope The Beacon's effort to create a viable news publication succeeds. Most St. Louisans I know agree that decades without any serious competition has left our one major newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, far less than the vigorous source of thoughtful, investigative journalism it once was. St. Louis could certainly use a second major source of printed news. Even if it's only printed on a screen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shower Scene

So, I'm in the shower this morning, late, after my husband has already left for work, because I've spent my early morning furiously formatting an interview for MOMocrats, and in quite a hurry, because I've got got a busy day ahead. An old friend is coming over this afternoon who needs my help with publicity for a new project, I've got one or two posts to get up for the St. Louis Bloggers' Guild, I've got a house that looks pretty unkempt after a weekend spend staying out all day at various meetings end errands on Saturday and staying out all day celebrating Father's Day.

And in all this, I still need to get my kid fed, entertained, etc., for the day.

So I'm pretty stressed, actually, over all the things I have to do today, and this moment in the shower is my brief time to collect my thoughts, probably the only non-working moment I'll have to myself for the next several hours. I'm trying to enjoy it.

And suddenly, through the rush of water, I hear my son screaming, "MOMMY! MOOOOOMMMMMY!" loudly from the other room, not quite like he's hurt but like there's something really important happening in the living room that needs my immediate attention. Like maybe some stranger is knocking on the door. Or maybe the kid has spilled milk all over the couch. Or maybe the house is on fire.

So I leap out of the shower, still covered with soap, my hair slathered up in conditioner, toss a towel around myself, and dash out of the bathroom, dripping water on the hardwood in the hall, and say, "Isaac! Isaac! What is it? What's wrong?" He's sitting on the couch, with a book on his lap. PBS is on the TV. I can't see any obvious disaster.

"I need your help, Mommy!" His voice is serious, urgent.

"Yes? Yes? What do you need?"

"Mommy, I was reading this book, and I couldn't remember-- what does 'miniature' mean again?"

Clearly I need to work more with him to clarify the difference between an INTELLECTUAL emergency, and an ACTUAL emergency.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sometimes It's Worth It to Answer the Door

So, I'm cooking the family dinner-- ricotta-stuffed penne pasta in tomato-basil sauce with added fresh oregano, a side of roasted potatoes in olive oil and mixed Italian herbs, and garlic bread, if you must know-- when there comes a knock on the front door. John is busy playing a game with Isaac in Isaac's room, so I decide to go answer it.

I see a twenty-something white guy, about five feet four inches tall, musclebound, buzz-cut and tattooed in the way of short scrappy men who feel they have something to prove, wearing a white wifebeater (which can sort of be forgiven being it's 86 degrees outside) and a pair of cheap, torn jeans (for which there can be really no excuse).

Behind him is a much taller black man, looking much more respectable and friendlier in a pair of khaki pants and a smart fitted tee.

They have brochures and a spray bottle of some kind of cleaner. It's immediately clear they're selling something. I have a handwritten NO SOLICITORS sign clearly visible in the window right next to my front door.

And it's clear they've seen it, because the first thing scrappy white dude says when I crack open the door is, "I'm a fairy godmother!"

Which was pretty amusing, given the source.

So giggle a little, but I say, "Hey, I'm cooking dinner. I don't have time for any demonstrations."

To which Scrappy says, "That's what the people next door said, too," as he hands me a brochure.

But before I can reply, Well, perhaps that is because you are soliciting door-to-door during the dinner hour, dyathink? Scrappy pulls out a black permanent marker and starts scribbling furiously all over a white washcloth he's got with him. "You know how Michael Jackson turned himself white?" he asks.

Almost involuntarily I look straight at Sophisticated Black Man, who looks right back at me, shakes his head silently, and rolls his eyes to indicate that he does indeed find his companion's remark ridiculous.

And now my new friend in the wifebeater is spraying the cleaner he's carrying on the washcloth, and the permanent marker really is disappearing; in fact, the area he sprayed, within seconds, turns snow white, cleaner than the rest of the cloth. It's pretty amazing, actually.

I can hear my pasta starting to boil over in the kitchen.

"That works well," I say, "But I need to finish dinner."

"But wait!" exclaims Scrappy. "I can show you how it cleans this mildew off of your siding!" And he starts spraying my house with this miracle shit, without asking. I'm pretty ticked. I have vinyl siding, anyway. It doesn't mildew. He was spraying at a spot of sidewalk chalk leftover from some overzealous decorations gifted to me a few days ago by some of my son's friends in the neighborhood.

"Dude, I gotta go. My pasta is boiling over," I say. By which I really, of course, mean, Stop spraying unknown substances on my house, and step the hell off my property. And I send Scrappy a look that implies it.

At this point Scrappy steps back a bit and, for the first time, notices the Obama sign that is also in my window.

"You're gonna vote for Obama?" he says. "Why on earth would you do that?"

"Because it's the right choice." The Well-Dressed Black Man, speaking for the first time, asserts this calmly and confidently.

I wonder what the hell he's doing selling spray cleaner door-to-door. He clearly doesn't seem to be enjoying it.

"Shoot, naw. It's McCain all the way," says Scrappy, annoyed now. "Come on, let's go." He starts to walk off, but then turns and says, abruptly, "I need my brochure back."

What Does Gifted Plus Delayed Mean Again, Folks? Say It with Me Now:

Took Isaac for another school district assessment today, to see if he would qualify for occupational therapy and physical therapy services through the school district to help with his sensory disorder.

Motor skills score? 24th percentile. Totally qualifies him for services.

Verbal skills score? 98th percentile. Almost certainly totally DISqualifies him for services.


Because, you see, they average the scores.

And one very high score plus one very low score equals one incredibly non-descriptive average score.


Genius obscures disorder obscures genius.

While he was there he was sitting across from a poster that had different cartoon faces on it that were supposed to represent different emotions. And he asked the woman giving him his test, "Why does that poster say 'Guilty'?"

She looked at me, utterly stunned, and said, "He can read?" And then when I said yes, she gave me a sympathetic look that very clearly meant I'm really sorry, but you guys are totally screwed. What she actually said out loud was, "Looks like he may be another one of those kids who just falls through the cracks."

I say we need to seal these #@&$* #@% cracks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

As I Watch Everyone Freak Out About Tomatoes

I kind of wish I had planted mine a little sooner this year. I had to plant practically everything later than I wanted to, because all that crazy rain we had in May interfered with expanding my garden plot and building a new fence in a timely fashion (and also temporarily turned my garden soil to sludge, and also encouraged fungal growth and insect infestation on the few plants I did plant on time).

But, at the same time, I do feel a certain sense of satisfaction that while most Americans will be eyeing their store-bought tomatoes warily all summer even after this recall is over with, in a month or so, I'll be happily munching organically-grown, salmonella-free tomatoes out of my backyard garden without a second thought.

And if last year's tomato harvest is any indication of the success this year will bring, so will several neighbors up and down the street.

(You're welcome.)

And to all those currently suffering from tomato phobia who do not yet have a backup plan: do note that tomato plants, stakes and cages are still on sale at hardware stores and garden centers. All a tomato plant needs is a patch of dirt, lots of sun, lots of water, and something to lean on. For about $5 and a few hours of your time over the next month or two, you can have two or three plants providing you with fresh produce, oxygen, a reduced carbon footprint, and a sense of accomplishment.

Plus peace of mind.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

If We All Tried a Little Harder

Could we make this happen?

Little Things

Yesterday, we took Isaac to a playground, and I watched as kids half his age blew past him on the equipment, giggling and running and leaping and climbing and swinging one-armed from bars and falling down and getting right back up again, all while my own son shuffled hesitantly up stairs and over bridges, clinging to railings, edging along walls, getting pushed aside as he failed repeatedly to move quickly enough to get out of someone else's way. Obviously overwhelmed by the heights, by the strange textures under his feet, by the bright colors and the rushing bodies and the noise. Afraid to climb the ladders there, afraid to go down the slide.

He was so determined to stay there, among the other children, despite his obvious fear and discomfort, despite his not fitting in. But finally after several minutes of halting exploration, he broke down and cried for me to come get him off a high ledge, because he was too scared to go back down the stairs he had climbed up to get there. I went up to the ledge, but I wouldn't carry him down. I made him walk down the stairs, holding my hand. He cried the whole way down, convinced he would fall.

I was feeling pretty beaten by Sensory Integration Disorder, yesterday.

But today, Isaac rode a pony for the first time. We've tried a number of times before now to get him to go on a pony ride, but he's always been absolutely terrified at the prospect.

Today I could tell he was scared, but he did it anyway. Under beating, bright sunlight, in a brisk, hot wind, surrounded by buzzing bugs and chattering children, he let a strange person put a strange, heavy helmet on his head.

"I won't fall, right, Mommy?" he asked.

"Of course not," I answered.

And he sat straight up in a saddle, and rode a wobbly little Shetland around a yard. Without a single complaint.

I was so proud of him.

Maybe we'll try the slide again on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hey, Sorry I Haven't Been Around Much, Folks

But I've had a busy couple of weeks. Aside from my involvement in an epic arms race against fuzzy, adorable, rapacious baby rabbits with a taste for rosemary, sage, oregano, dead nettle, (poisonous!) tansy, and, hey, apparently, ANYTHING THAT GROWS, I've been working on a series of interviews with political candidates.

If you'd like to see what I've been up to, go read the first half of my MOMocrats interview with Nebraska Senate hopeful Scott Kleeb, a cattle rancher, duck hunter, and genuine cowboy who also happens to have a Master's in International Relations and a PhD in History.

I promise to be back here soon with the final post in my Victory Gardens series, as well as a meditation on the question of whether or not to have a second child.