Great Days!

This is what Elias brings home to us from school each day, a daily report that his teacher fills out. The first half of the year was filled with “OK” days and comments about arguing and melting down halfway through the day, but lately his reports have been amazing. This is so super encouraging on one hand, because it means that Elias is better able to communicate with words when he’s feeling emotional. On the other hand, he’s in Pre-K so let’s not get too caught up in his ability, or not, to sit at a table and do academic work.

Ryan and I were talking the other day about how Kindergarten, when we were kids, was about learning your letters and how to write your name. Now, you are considered “delayed” in Pre-K if you don’t leave that classroom with those skills already honed. When did this happen? Not recently, because when Owen, who is now 11, was in Pre-K they majored in sand throwing and water table play. He entered Kindergarten without any mastery of letters or writing and is now extremely advanced in reading and creative writing. I think the fact that he has always been read to factors in more as a preparation for reading and writing than Pre-K ever could have done.

We love love love our teachers this year for Elias and will be sad to move on next year but relieved that Elias is ready to co-mingle with his age group in a classroom. I had planned to homeschool him since birth but Elias, given a choice, always chooses school. He loves his friends and teachers, he loves to get up and go. Until he seems to need a change of pace, we’re just going with what makes him happy. Incidentally, I always thought that was a sham. When parents said, “We tried homeschooling but my kid didn’t like it.” But I am proved wrong….AGAIN. Hilarious!

Just a little update to say that things are going GREAT and progressing just as we had always hoped for Elias.

Late-talker Accents


In the late-talker community, we often talk about our kids “accents.” Adults who were late-talkers often say that people ask them “Hey, where are you from?” after trying to pinpoint the origination of a soft “R” or something. A lot of them say, “People ask me if I’m from New England all the time!” I wonder if Elias’ accent will stick with him or fade away…

This is just a video I took in the car this morning (don’t judge) because I had to capture Elias singing the alphabet for some friends who also have kids who are late-talkers or have Apraxia. It gives a great sampling of all of his articulation issues, and successes! :)

Memory

elias, 2009. the day we moved into our first house.

Photos like the one above always make me feel sad. I am the type of person who constantly likes to keep moving, evolving, achieving, but I’m also a wreck for nostalgia. Moving is intensely emotional for me because even if I really despise the place I’m living and I am making a major upgrade to a new space, the knowledge that I will never again step foot inside the door of a space I once called home is deeply troubling and a sentimentalist nightmare. I hate the idea that once we move on we can’t go back, it’s the most profoundly depressing aspects of life.

My first memory. I was laying in a crib, and there is the general sense of yellow in the room. Maybe it’s my blanket, or sunlight, it comes from my right and up over the ceiling. I can hear someone to my left, outside the door, in the kitchen. I do not cry, but this person comes in and talks to me and lays me down in my crib. I stare up at the ceiling, a mobile, I look out the crib slats. I’m not tired, and I cry out again. That’s it.

My second memory. I’m in a playpen on the floor in the kitchen. My mom is scrubbing kitchen tile and a breeze is moving the curtains over the sink.

My third memory. Sitting in the front seat of my dad’s Volkswagon pickup truck, which smells like surfboard wax; citrus and vanilla and sunblock. The seats are cool, fake leather, tiny ventilation holes that I stare into and pick at with a tiny finger.

and so on.

My point is that my own kids are forming these same memories, and I’m kind or paranoid about that. My own life as an only child was so calm, there was so much time for family vacations and trips to the beach (daily!). My kids spend an awful lot of time going crazy in the house while we do laundry, is all I’m saying. My kids spend a lot of time with their brothers, too, which is a special kind of rewarding. I think.

I was just looking at photos of Elias from when he was Rainer’s age, and Owen when he was Eliases age, and it made me feel so sad. Before we blink our babies will be grown. Ryan and I will be so well-rested yet so desperate, I imagine, for those 3am requests for our presence. I feel so much heartache for how much I am inclined to complain about the chaos of my present, knowing that my future is just a split second away, and it does not include kids who want to sleep in my bed or be carried around the house.

Maybe this post is weird, but I was just all of a sudden really affected by all those older women in Hobby Lobby who tell me with regretful longing, “It goes by so fast. Hug them tight.”

Body Image, Being the Mom

Here I am; this is me on a pretty typical weekday. I don’t see myself very often these days, especially from the waist down, so this photo sent me into a pondering mode. Sometimes when I see photos of myself I feel that the image utterly defies the image I feel I am presenting to the world. In my head I am chronically dumpy, really sloth-like, and awkward. When I see a photo of myself, pleasantly, my reaction is usually “Hey, not as bad as I thought!” That’s kind of a relief, because I spent most of my life seeing photos of myself and thinking “What the hell? Am I seriously that awkward?” Thank you, maturity.

I had a post in my head but I was distracted by a really terrible blog about Lena Dunham’s Rolling Stone cover. When people don’t get GIRLS and Lena in general (that’s right, I call her Lena), it really makes me angry. She is a genius, a trailblazer, and a woman. Apparently, the world cannot fucking grasp that combination yet. I’m like her  one-woman blog army, putting haters in their place on STFU.gif at a time.

I know this is supposed to be a parenting blog. Sigh.

Let’s Talk About Jenny Mcarthy and Science

+++ Disclaimer+++ Our son Elias, who I write about here, did not have ANY vaccinations. While I am happy that I never have to ask myself in a desperate moment if a vaccine injured him, I have never stopped questioning our decisions regarding vaccination. He is too old now to benefit from most vaccines anyway, and our decision was in no way influenced by Autism debate.  Pharmaceutical debate perhaps, but not because we were concerned that they cause Autism.

So, Jenny Mcarthy. Are we ready to let this go yet? Jenny wrote a book about her son’s Autism, and how she feels she helped him to feel better. I write a blog here about my son’s speech disorder and how I feel we’ve helped him feel better.  The real difference here is that I do not have huge tatas and I never had a show on Mtv (unfortunate for me on both accounts). Critics of Jenny’s book and personal appearances promoting her book (as well as her Autism charity and resource for parents of children with Autism, http://www.generationrescue.org) say that she is at fault for creating a generation of parents, mostly the word is “moms,” who care too much about her opinion that vaccines can cause Autism. As a result, these parents are not vaccinating their babies, and they are questioning the ingredients contained within the vaccines.

According to the medical journal Pediatrics, 76% of parents trust their doctors and 2% of parents trust a celebrity for medical advice. Doctors, almost all, will suggest you get your child vaccinated. I will not use this space to debate their motivation in doing so, but let’s just put it out there that doctors make their money with patient turnover. They want to see you for as short a time as possible because they need to see as many people as possible, in a day. Vaccines are really good for generating turnover, you don’t even have to speak to the doctor usually, you can just check in and get the vaccine from a nurse. Another example of this in action that a friend recently brought up is that she took her newborn to the pediatrician with breastfeeding issues. The doctor looked at her briefly and said, “She’s got tongue tie or something, very common, the formula we recommend is XBRAND.” Never did he recommend a lactation consultant or watch the baby nurse to check for issues of tongue tie, or any other reasonable thing. Clearly, the motivation was “Yep, not much we can do here, but XBRAND pays us a lot of money to hand out these formula samples to desperate moms like you so HERE YA GO. Be gone!” The mom is smarter than that, and she did get help at LLL as well as a support system that allowed her to ask questions such as, “Shouldn’t a doctor be aware of the scientifically proven fact that breastfeeding my baby for two years protects us BOTH from disease???” Yes, yes he should. Okay, back on topic!

Parents were, because of Jenny Mcarthy, beginning to question the ingredients in vaccines. Duh? Shouldn’t they always question doctors? I know I do. Look, going to school does not make you a wizard, people. Question your doctor, question any medicine they recommend, and do your own research. Not saying it’s always a bad idea to listen to doctors and take your medicine but…be your own advocate. Be your child’s advocate. KNOW YOUR SHIT,  do not be afraid to question any doctor’s advice. Seek a second opinion, look into reading medical journals and articles through google scholar or your local university library. Read read read.

There is this ridiculous thing online called The Jenny Mcarthy Body Count, which is posted to every single comment segment of every shitty news story about chicken pox, or the measles. People are like, “Oh-the science about how many people die because someone didn’t get their kid vaccinated.” WRONG. This site, which serves it’s purpose in enabling idiots, states in its’ FAQ that the author cannot prove that the number of people dying were even unvaccinated. I am reminded of those cases of Pertusis where kids were dying, 2010 I think? They thought it was Pertusis and then “Whoops! It was just a cough that we thought was Pertusis.” It also happened in 2007, and a John Hopkins epidemiologist said that this misdiagnosis will be more and more common as the disease changes.  The author of this “Body Count” tool is also getting his information from the CDC itself, so do with that what you will. Just keep it real, k? The guy is also, apparently, super into UFOs… or proving there are no UFOs? What is his background in UFOs that we might trust him to accurately disseminate UFO information, that is the question, if I am correct?

We have a question, do vaccines cause Autism? NO ONE KNOWS. Jenny Mcarthy is a parent to a child who she was worried about. Alternative therapies changed their lives, you cannot possibly blame someone for wanting to share that with desperate parents! If you do, you are a huge asshole! As one of those parents with a child who is a mystery, who is not like other children, who has searched endlessly to find happiness for, please stop the ridicule. You are making yourself look like such a dick! Every time someone cracks a Jenny Mcarthy-Autism joke I consider it a revelation of not only their intelligence but also their compassion. YOU LOOK SO UGLY OVER THERE. If you haven’t had a child? Just stop. Right now, sit down, read your internet in peace and leave the desperate parents of special needs kids ALONE.

Okay, I’m getting so angry over here. Stepping back from my own feeeeeeeels a bit, let’s explore why this book that Jenny Mcarthy wrote is helpful. One, it brought tons of awareness to Autism. We are talking about it now, right? All of those talk shows letting her talk about why she wrote the book and about her son, all of those late night “comedians” (is there a single comedian among them, really?) cracking jokes at her expense, it was worthwhile. Sure, there are parents who question vaccines and their ingredients now, and we discussed the positive aspects of that as well. Informed Consumer. Vaccines are something we consume, yes. We try to buy our health, have it injected into us, and then we feel that we have done the right thing. We have taken our fear-based medicine…okay, not going there! (wash your hands)

Let’s think about where we were with Autism when Mcarthy’s book came out. Rolling Stone and Slate had recently published (since removed and ridiculed for misinformation) that scathing article on vaccines and Autism (no one blames them, magically, for anything), of course her book was big news! Of course she was invited to speak to people publicly, we are in an Autism epidemic and parents around the nation are doing their best at 2am with blurry minds, hearts, and eyes to google the fuck out of “AUTISM CURE.” Someone to relate to, someone to talk openly, someone to represent Autistic families. Someone to bring the worries of these parents to light. Someone to educate the masses that when a kid won’t speak to you at the park, you don’t assume he’s a jerk or hasn’t the desire or mental capacity to answer you. This is important, and it is GOOD.

While I have misgivings about any natural therapies, and I am a massive skeptic, I do believe that physicians are grossly uneducated with regard to nutritional deficiencies. After my 3rd son was born our sweet physician told me that if I “eat enough vegetables you’re getting enough b12.” General practitioners and pediatricians get meager introduction to nutrition, not nearly enough information. I am so freaked out that I went to specialists for two years with Elias before I realised I’d been a vegan mom nursing an infant and I wasn’t getting any b12. I mean, that is a HUGE problem! No one ever asked me about my diet… Not even when my child was having serious developmental delays, not even when I was having migraine headaches or anemia that iron wasn’t fixing. My point here is that while the idea that “chelation” is a real thing, that it works to remove heavy metals from your system and “cures” Autism is way outside my comfort zone, I do know that if you are missing certain nutrients, you might not break down toxins efficiently. So, that’s my totally inexpert opinion.

Something that occurs to me is that if I had tried out chelation on Elias around his 3rd birthday, right when I was getting super desperate for him to produce a single word, he would have started talking within a month. Not because of anything other than his time was upon us. It would be really hard for me to think that none of our hard work with chelation therapy had anything to do with his “recovery,” but that instead it was a completely spontaneous break though. Think about it. See? Stop being such a dick.

Whether the information in Mcarthy’s book is 100% science or not, let’s stop this nonsense and show some compassion. Let’s stop treating desperate parents like they have no right to question blanket medical recommendations, and instead empower them to gather knowledge and engage in open dialogue. It’s not always about what is available to us, sometimes it’s about what is not.

Being Present.

Matthew 18:3
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I’m not a religious person, but I read this quote a few weeks ago and it stuck  like glue. Meditating pretty hard on the wisdom here; be as a child and find peace. Be, as a child is. Perfect.

Not a Commercial, Swear!

ImagePlease do not judge this product based on my lowlight iphone photo!

So, every once in a while there is a product that I try and love and I start feeling really nervous that the company will cease to exist or stop making said amazing product so I just tell everyone in the world about it, hoping it will somehow keep my access open. This is definitely one of those products!

I found it by searching Birchbox, when I was trying to use my points to buy a new facewash. I read the reviews and ingredients list and felt really excited about it, so I poked around reviews on Makeupalley, Makeuptalk, and general beauty bloggers. Everyone seems to love this stuff unless they have extremely dry skin, many touted it as a “miracle” so I was everso eager to try it for myself.

For the last 5 years or so, I just wash my face with plain old Dr. Bronners and I have loved it. Skipping face cleansers with a million detergents and harsh chemicals really changed my skin, which used to be awful. My skin always looked red, even my eyes seemed bloodshot all the time, but as soon as I skipped out on facewash and started religiously using Bronners, my skin quickly turned…normal. I will never have that poreless porcelain skin that some of you are blessed with, it’s just not my genetic blessing, but this was a night and day improvement. It was such a huge improvement, that it caused me to stop using detergents on our clothes and bodies too. So, usually we just use Bronners for every-damn-thing from head to toe (yes, you can use it for laundry, too!) but this it not a Bronners write up! Or…is it? Ha!

I’m telling you all this so it makes sense to you when I say that I almost never recommend a “facewash” or other beauty product, I feel like they mostly cause more harm than anything. I do not believe in supporting the outrageous claims of those who market them, the nasty companies who produce them, or the ingredients that are supposedly “safe” but a quick check on EWG will tell me that they are actually very toxic.

First things first, Shea Terra Organics is a company that was started a decade ago by a woman who wanted to support African communities by assisting in their wildlife preservation efforts. Secondly, they are an organic company who uses unchanged botanical ingredients, their recipes are REAL ingredients, not chemicals to decipher. For example, the ingredients in the product I’m touting here;

Contains only: deionized water, Yoruban black soap (cocoa pod ash, plaintain peel ash, palm kernels, camwood bark), certified organic shea butter, certified organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide (electrocuted salts- what makes oil into soap), certified organic rose hips oil, rose hips fruit, aloe ferox, rooibos tea, kigellia africana, certified organic marshmallow root, licorice root

I haven’t tried their other products because like I said, Birchbox, but if you order through them directly, I’ve heard they will send samples with your order so you can try the bajillion other awesome sounding products. I’m eager to try their face masks and definitely the bath oils. rave reviews for those all over beauty blogs.

SO, about this particular facewash. It’s a bit weird at first; it doesn’t smell like perfume, in fact, it smells a little like dirt. It LOOKS a little like dirt too, very muddy and brown. The instructions say to put it straight on your face, no water, and sort of emulsify it, let it sit a while, and rinse. The first time I did it I thought I was not getting all the soap off my face because it was too silky feeling. NOPE, just my skin! The exfoliation is intense, very good. My skin felt clean and extremely soft after just one use!

Will I skip Bronners from now on? No. I will probably just use this soap two or three days a week when I feel like it’s getting congested and needs a good detox. Here’s what the pitch says;

 “This wash works like microdermabrasion to get rid of dead skin, even skin tone, firm skin and fight acne. Look younger in just minutes of use. South African Rose Hips Oil makes calms skin and works wonders on maturing skin.”

Claims are wild, and absurd, as always, BUT I have to say that my skin looked clean and glowy after just one use, definitely better than before I used it. Do I look younger? I can’t imagine any soap that can do that. Why do soaps insist on promising a fountain of youth? I don’t even want to look younger, I just want to look clean and…not tired. Ha!

If anyone has tried this line and can speak on behalf of any other products, please leave a comment. I’m making my list of things I’d like to try!

Alright, now back to our regularly scheduled programming…