Last week while Curtis was at a work party, after the kids were quiet I picked up a book I'd ordered from the library and read it – all of it – in one sitting. That's the first time I've done that in nine years, and the first time I've read a non-instructional book at all in a long time. I've had a lot of trouble reading books since I hit adulthood and I was never quite sure why, it's like the words just flitter out of my head as soon as I read them on a page. Regardless of how much I want to read, it just doesn't work somehow. I've had very few exceptions over the years, and as time went on I just started to avoid reading in general so I could get around the embarrassment of living in a household of avid readers and being unable to join in. So I'm feeling pretty proud of myself.
The book I finished was called "A Stolen Life"; a memoir of [ Jaycee Dugard ], the girl who was kidnapped and held in a shed in the backyard of convicted (and on parole) sex offender Phillip Garrido for 18 years, bearing two of children through his repeated sexual abuse. She was only found a few years ago, I think. The memoir was written by her, though I suppose with some help, and it reads like a story from a grade six English assignment. She's severely emotionally stunted and psychologically destroyed due to her experience, and it shows in how she writes. It's… devastating.
Some months back I happened to catch a clip of an interview with her where she talked about writing the book, and was intrigued to know more about her story. The way she spoke when questioned sounded strange to me. Here's this full grown woman, a mother of two, a survivor of terrible cruelty, speaking so openly about it that she's nearly deadpan and using phrases like, "It's the most horrible experience you can imagine. Except times ten!".

In the book she doesn't shy away from some of the more graphic details of her abuse, including the first time she was raped. It makes it hard to read as a fellow survivor; it gave me that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach like I needed to physically run away from the words, but my curiosity became too high and I couldn't stop reading.
Horrible stuff aside, a really interesting part of the book were her details about equine therapy and how it worked for her. I'd of course heard about equine therapy but never knew the details until now… and I have to admit it sounds both fascinating and wonderful. I'm impressed by how insightful and helpful it seemed for her. It makes me regret that Tempest never got coverage for our attempt to get her into it. Some years ago when we were exploring every therapeutic option available to us we put her on the waiting list for equine therapy; they had a program specifically for autism and mental health in youth and teens. It took over 18 months for her to reach the top, and we were sure that was more than enough time to get her status (and therefore funding for programs like this)… then when all the rules in the province health system changed they stopped giving autism spectrum diagnoses at all, so we had to tell the center "no" when we finally received the call. We can't afford the therapy otherwise, as it's hundreds of dollars an hour as well as being significantly out of the way, and only done during school hours for some reason.
At least her school counsellor and teachers are working hard for her. We have another IEP appointment next week to set up for this year's goals and troubles.

We've had some success in the last week with correcting Tempest's horrible downcycle of behavior. I found this site called [ High Score House ] that helps organize chores and motivate kids and signed up for it. I actually signed up months ago but it wasn't working until recently… it seems to be working quite well and the kids are motivated to actually be helpful for the first time in a long time. I'm really enjoying it, and the kids are legitimately behaving better and excited to get up in the morning and do chores. It also helps us stay more on top of how often we give positive reinforcement, and encourages us to keep promises and organize our reward/punishment system better. So far so good, I'd recommend it to anyone with younger kids. Once they're 12 or 13 it probably loses its appeal, but the 5-10 age group is perfect for it.

Z is still improving. She's been able to take a wide-necked bottle once every other day now, so long as it has a cross-cut teat on it. She still can't get the hang of the BreastFlow bottles, or the Gerber small ones… but the Tommee Tippee she's doing rather well with. We had the pediatrician follow-up, missed a feeding clinic due to my insomnia, and got the results of that via phone call today. The pediatrician and the speech pathologist have taken it upon themselves to contact experts in the field and have learned a significant amount about posterior tie since we started. They both agree that she has it… but the funny thing is her improvement is so dramatic that it can't possibly be tongue tie. Plus, she doesn't have the standard 'speed bump' symptom. So, either it's a posterior tie that can be corrected via therapy, or it's another problem that presents functionally as a posterior tie. Regardless, it's a PTT for all intents and purposes and we're continuing to monitor it. The pediatrician wants to continue seeing her, and has offered to try and find someone who will do a laser release locally should we need to revisit that route in the future. She's been one of two doctors in this whole process that have been wonderful to us, and thank god for that.
The speech pathologist had another home visit with her and said that not only is she developing normally, but she's hitting her verbal milestones about a month ahead of time, which is great news because it means it's extremely unlikely she'll have speech problems later in life. We're supposed to continue her oral OT throughout the day and change up the textures as she gets older.
Her nursing habits have also improved a little more, and she's down to two bottles a day instead of three.

The team wants me to start her on solids as there's evidence to show she'll be a better "Eater" than a "drinker", but I'm adamantly against early introduction of solids: I care about her health, and I'm not about to set her up for a lifetime of increased risks for cancer, disease and ill health because it might save me an hour of work every day. That doesn't even make sense. I shot that one down immediately and said I'd be introducing solids when she's biologically ready, somewhere in the second half of her first year. No scare tactics so far, but they've been unrelenting in their quest to convince me my milk isn't good enough for her.
They also pushed iron supplements, because "breastmilk doesn't have the iron baby needs". I just… yeah. Not even going to bother getting into that. I tried to explain the faulty logic behind that, and where the myth comes from, and suggested that if my baby showed signs of anemia I'd be happy to supplement her.
"Oh we're not talking about anemia! We're talking about supplements!". But… you… and… ARGH.

Anyway. She's healthy and beautiful and FIVE MONTHS OLD CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT SHIT?!

LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL BABY.

I can't believe she's five months.

At the same time I realized this, I burst into wracking sobs of guilt over the fact that I have taken so few photographs of her in the last few months. And even less of Xan and Tempest. Things have been so mad lately that I haven't had the time, or made the time, or even thought about it… and I feel so much guilt over that. There are so many more photos of Xan at this age.
I want to fix that, but now it's winterish and it's absolutely pissing miserable outside and will continue to be for the next six months. So much for outdoor family shoots.

I took a few shots of her playing with Curtis the other night (Warning: man nipples).

And playing on her mat. She's been the only baby I've ever had that enjoys tummy time… or can even have it at all. Tempest couldn't be set down, and Xan would throw up everywhere. She seems to legitimately enjoy it, and rolls all over the place when I put her down to play. If the cat is up on the bed (something she frequently does when baby is laying there playing with her feet) Z will roll around the bed going after her until she manages to get ahold of her tail or feet. She's been scratched more than once now, but they love each other… really.

This image was from a test run for some cherry jigglers I was going to make for Xan's-party-that-never-happened, made with Knox gelatine layered with two flavours (in my case I used iced tea and five alive as that's what we had and it was just an experiment; it didn't matter if it was good or not). I got the recipe from the Jello Shot Test Kitchen, and I really want to do tons and tons more. The flavour sucked on these, so I won't do that combo again, but after three tries I finally figured out why they kept failing miserably: I was misreading the instructions and not putting enough gelatine in there by a long shot.
Where it said: "1 1/4 teaspoon" I thought that meant one quarter teaspoon, not one and one quarter teaspoon. I'm terrible at cooking.
Anyway, once I figured it out the shape and form was perfect and they set incredibly fast. I will definitely be doing these again with better flavours and more care.

Also, these are the previews of the kids' school photos. It was a 'daddy' morning where I was allowed to sleep in and not get the kids ready to go… guess how I can tell.


Ugh, Tempest's hair looks terrible. Retakes had no announcements or fliers, so I missed the retake chance for her. UGGHHHH. Oh well, she doesn't mind that much so I suppose I shouldn't either. Still. I will forever be harboring a smidgen of resentment toward Curtis for this.

A few randoms from my iPhone. These range anywhere from last week to 1.5 months old:
Xan waits to get my coffee for me at Starbucks.

Xan tries to get Curtis to wear his shirt at the last sunny afternoon spent in the park.

He eventually gives up and wears Curtis' shirt instead.

And some images from our Hallowe'en. I also tried to do a DITL but it was kind of a failure so I'm not sure if I'll put it up, or just put part of it up here instead…

Lighting test.

Tempest was dying to be Ruby Gloom, and I spent days getting her costume together as well as designing my own to go with hers (I went as, "Misery" from the same show). At the last minute Tempest decided the wig was too itchy, and went without it… which sort of defeated the whole purpose. I was so disappointed, but tried not to show it.
When we got home they posed for pictures, but only after I took their make-up off, so these are without the hour-long-make-up-process. Or 'with it' because I drew it in…

Sometimes I don't see it, and other times I'm editing photos and one like this comes up and makes me go, "Holy shit, this is a photo of ME".

Xan was a "skeleton witch".
I asked Xan to be scary and he held out his hand and said in a very gravely voice, "Give me all your treats or you'll die!"

The scariest part, according to Xan: teeth!

Follow this kid, he knows the way.

After their posing was done, I got in for a few so I could have an image of my "Misery" costume.

PS. I swear to god I'm not as fat as I look. I had to bind my breasts to make them fit in this costume, and I'm wearing three layers to keep warm.

Baby was going to be Doomkitty, I even had the red bow and everything, but she was too fussy to do anything but sleep on Curtis' back for half the night (and scream the rest of it). She got hysterical at a random moment about an hour into our evening, and I had to rush home with her. I'd never heard her cry like that before. However, the moment we got home she stopped. Just… stopped. I've never seen anything like it, and I still have no idea what her problem was. My mom said she must have just missed home. I guess so?…

Curtis was even going to go as Skullboy but time constraints limited his costume to simply "zombie like thing in a trenchcoat" instead. There, unfortunately, are no images of that monstrosity.

Comments

comments

40 Comments

  • birthingway says:

    We’re not talking about anemia, we’re talking about supplements!

    I honestly wonder how some of these people made it through school. Good for you for not losing your cool on them.

    Your children continue to be beautiful, but there is more than just their aesthetic loveliness in your photos–I can see their bright spirits sparkling through, particularly in their eyes.

  • ha, we are now addicted to Ruby Gloom, thanks!

  • briannablade says:

    Okay I absolutely fucking LOVE your Ruby Gloom costumes. Absolutely <3

  • Anonymous says:

    Your assertions about early solids introduction have me nervous. Do you know where I can go to investigate those issues further? Both my kids have shown signs of biological readiness before 6 months, and I managed to hold them off until the 5th month. I did do a lot of research on the topic this last time and didn’t find anything at all like what you speak of. In fact the reasons for waiting until 6 months, as opposed to 4 – 6 months, didn’t seem too compelling to me. I am not in any way questioning your choice to delay solids, I think you are absolutely right to wait for her to show the signs of readiness. I realize my babies are outliers and for most babies the second half of the first year is best. You just have me a bit nervous now thinking I missed some critical info.

    Also, have you ever read about giftedness, or seen the term “twice exceptional”? I know it’s a topic that invites the trolls, but you might want to do some reading on the issue if you haven’t already. For a child who is as academically advanced as you describe Tempest as being, it can be really hard for them to deal with an environment where everyone else is performing years below their level. With twice exceptional kids (who have both special needs and are gifted) the situation can be even more challenging because often they are years behind their peers socially and years ahead academically. This means the child has to use a lot of energy trying to fit in, and it’s almost an impossible task. I don’t know if this might contribute to Tempest’s evening issues, but it might be worth looking into and at least ruling out because it can really have a dramatic impact on certain kids.

    • admin says:

      At this point no major health organization recommends solids prior to 6 months due to the health risks and readiness (sitting up unassisted, pincher NOT palmer grasp, zero tongue thrust, etc – most people mistake simply “grabbing for food” or “mouthing” as readiness signs when they’re just natural exploration).
      Kellymom.com and LLL have more on their websites.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, but I was just looking for info backing the specific assertions you made, which to my knowledge are not located in those places. I already looked at all the info from the major organizations and looked at the research that caused them to recommend what they do and didn’t agree that it was that compelling. Kellymom and LLL are not scientific sources, but I don’t even recall them saying anything about an increased risk of cancer or disease. And, yeah, everyone thinks my instincts suddenly failed me and I had no idea what my babies were telling me around that time, but for the record they did sit unassisted, my son at 5 months, my daughter at 4 months. They both did have a true pincer grasp. They were both well beyond having a tongue thrust. They both fed themselves with a spoon at their first feedings. At 4 months my daughter grabbed the arm I was putting a spoonful of yogurt into my mouth with and she pulled my arm towards her mouth and started drooling and shaking. I still managed to hold her off until 5 months after that, but, I just don’t believe that her body would be giving her such a strong signal that was totally wrong. I wasn’t asking to argue the point, because I’m very comfortable with my choices and I totally respect your choices and think you are doing the right thing for Zephyra. I was just wondering where the dire assertions came from because I have not seen that info anywhere.

        • admin says:

          While those sites themselves aren’t scientific, they cite their sources and keep up to date on current research and postings. For instance, as a league member/applicant/leader-like-person I am sent all the newest research and health bulletins, including the ones that said that no major organization recommends solids before 6 months anymore due to the increased risk of health problems and allergic conditions.
          The cancer one was something I read recently, maybe 6-8 months ago? As I said in another comment: if it’s true it makes sense to me, but I haven’t heard much about it since.

          I don’t have time to do the research for you right now, but when I come across it again I will put it in my LOTD, which I’ve done previously as well.

          http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/delay-solids.html
          Has many, many sources and articles to read through.

          FTR, Zephyra can “sit unassisted” at 4 months too… if I stick her like that. Sitting unassisted qualifies as being able to lift themselves to that position and sit there for an extended time, and according to the doctors I was just speaking to the likelihood of that happening at 4 months is… zilch. IF your kids were sitting up unassisted and using a pincer grasp at 4 months, that’s WAY ahead of the curve… by months and months. I’d be concerned about hyertonia.

          • Anonymous says:

            What I meant by saying they were not scientific sources is that they have an agenda so they tend to highlight studies that agree with that and not include studies that don’t. This is fairly typical of these kinds of organizations, and I think they are good and useful organizations, but not where I go to get the latest scientific research available. For example, the whole thing about allergies has recently been discounted when new studies showed that early solids actually prevent allergies. There are also the original studies that show that delaying solids prevent allergies. So currently they have deemed the studies inconclusive and no one recommends delayed solids based on that anymore. The WHO even states this in their recommendation to wait for six months. Their reasoning is an increased risk of intestinal infections, and they say there is not enough evidence to recommend delaying solids based on allergies. They do not say what that increased risk is, or what it is in countries that have clean water and regulations over food preparation. And from what some of my mom friends are telling me who go to more well baby visits then I do, they even recently took all restrictions off of babies diets and pediatricians are now telling moms they don’t have to wait until a certain age to introduce things like nuts, berries, or eggs. This is because the allergy research didn’t pan out, yet kellymom still has that up on their site as if it is the current understanding. So I really take what they say with a grain of salt.

            My kids do not have hypertonia. I am aware of the different stages of learning to sit (I can envision the pictures right now in the Dr. Sears Baby Book). My son started sitting unassisted for small periods of time at 5 months. By 5 and a half months he was sitting unassisted for long periods of time with his arms off the floor and his back straight and he could pick up small pieces of things on the floor between his index finger and his thumb. He started solids at 5 months 3 weeks. He ate them right up and did not have a tongue thrust present. My daughter started sitting at 4 months old. She was sitting unassisted for long periods of time by 5 months with her arms off the floor and her back straight and was picking up small things using a pincer grasp. I remember testing it out with pebbles to make sure she was doing it, and she picked them up one by one using a pincer grasp. She started solids at 5 months 1 week. She did not have a tongue thrust present. I closely watched my daughter (my son was only a week shy of 6 months) for any signs of stomach upset, crankiness, etc. She had no problems with them as far as I could tell. We went very slowly with solids for her though and some nights she only had a couple bites. Most of her food ended up all over her and the floor for months. It’s not like we were giving her three meals a day and shoveling it in. She was offered dinner with the family, sometimes she ate it, sometimes she didn’t. I do know of other babies who could sit by 4 months, including my sister. I understand that it is at the far end of the curve, but it is not impossible.

            I’m not sure how this turned around to me feeling I need to explain myself, but there is my explanation. I have no reason to lie. I’ve been reading your blog for years and have commented every now and then too. All I wanted to know was where the bit about cancer and disease came from, but it seems you don’t have that readily available. Maybe I’ll do some digging around for it, and if you come across it please do post it (though I’m not sure what LOTD is, I don’t generally use LJ).

            • admin says:

              LOTD = link of the day

              I didn’t ask you to explain yourself, I just thought it was odd to have a baby sitting unassisted at 4 months (which I see now was a misunderstanding). I’m not sure why you felt the need to explain yourself either, nor did I think you were lying. O_o

              • Anonymous says:

                You seemed to indicate that you didn’t believe the information I had given could possibly be accurate. Like when you said the odds of that happening were “zilch”, and how you capitalized “IF” as if I was not providing accurate information about sitting and the pincer grasp, and how you created a pause when talking about Zephyra sitting if you set her that way, and how you suggested that my children might have hypertonia if what I was saying was true. I didn’t mean to say that you had asked me to explain myself, I was just saying that your statements made me feel like I needed to or I would not be believed. Perhaps I misinterpreted, but it sure seemed to read that way to me. And yes, I can see we have a different definition of sitting unassisted. I count consistent short periods of time using core muscles and not leaning on her own arms or being held by our arms (as the baby books I have indicate), but it seems you would only count long periods of time doing that. So I would say she sat at 4 and a half months and you might say 5. Fare enough. Either way she didn’t have solids until after she sat unassisted.

                • admin says:

                  If was capitalized by accident. I type very fast, and sometimes don’t let up on the shift key fast enough. πŸ˜›
                  Tone arguments on the internet are useless for exactly this reason.

                  ANYWAY, the bottom line is I kind of don’t care when or why you started solids… I only inquired because I didn’t believe a four month old could sit by the definition I had. That isn’t to say I thought you were lying, on the contrary: I thought either you were mistaken, or we were missing each other on a definition.
                  I rarely challenge people on their parenting if they didn’t ask/invite it, don’t worry.

  • gen_here says:

    I’ve been wanting to read her book, too… just haven’t made it over to the library to get on the wait list.

    I had other stuff written up, but I’ll email instead.

  • singhappy02 says:

    I wish there were more places across the country (and Canada) that had programs like my old barn had. Our instructor was a certified therapeutic riding instructor and taught bi-weekly lessons for any kids who needed it (be it a physical handicap, a mental handicap, a developmental disorder, whatever) for $5 a pop. She made nothing off the lessons and didn’t care. We also did a two week long day camp for those kids as well for a ridiculously low cost. Since my best friend and I were her junior instructors we had to get certified to assist in the lessons as well – I regret that I let mine lapse as it’s a lot harder to get certified if you’re over 18.

    The growth and improvement we saw with those kids was mind boggling. The whole concept seems so simple but does so much. Have you investigated independent places that might do sessions? They tend to be cheaper than the government sanctioned ones, and she’s for sure not too old to do it – we had an age range of five to eighteen.

  • thehobbit says:

    Oh my God Ruby Gloom. I have never heard of this show but I grabbed my laptop and ran across the room to show my partner. He also squealed and I think we have to find it now.

    Because I’m a total creeper my kids will be 5 months in 6 days. They’re not rolling so, oh yay!, physical therapy. But time is flying. Nut bags ma’am. Totally nuts.

  • If it makes you feel better, when I was Tempest’s age, my school picture made me look like I’d been severely neglected or something. I was a scrawny, very pale child and I have kind of intense cheekbones, but somehow in that picture it was all multiplied by 10 and I looked downright skeletal, ghostly-pale with huge purple shadows under my eyes that make them look sunken in, with my cheek bones jutting out…I looked as though I hadn’t eaten or slept in weeks. My family tried to gently encourage me to get retakes without actually saying how terrible I looked in the pictures, but I refused. πŸ˜›

    Tempest’s picture is cute. I like how she appears to only have one earring…?

  • altarflame says:

    I LOVE the color shot of Z on her belly naked <3

  • lalicopa says:

    Well, Z is clearly malnourished. She’s downright bony. Sunken cheeks. No meat on her at all. And her color? Couldn’t be less rosy/peaches and cream. Rrrriiiigggghhhhttttt.

    Forget the iron supplements, I think you need to go straight to hamburgers. From McDonald’s. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    All of your kids are so gorgeous and unique, just like their parents.

  • I love the Tempest is only wearing one earring. πŸ™‚

  • Oh lordy, the over the shoulder look is adorable. I must now go snorgle my newest. Hope he understands…

    And picture day. I swear my kids get the weirdest smiles for them. Like Alex’s ‘not really smiling but you can see my molars’ grimace to Cassie’s pre-K ‘Ima ’bout to cut a bitch’ smirk. I refused to give out the school pics due to them. My Mom finally saw them months later and gave a small shocked ‘Oh. I understand.’ I grilled them this year for Picture Day. Thankfully they look better, I was afraid what they would turn into if they were worse.

  • I like the school photos! I let Sev pick his own outfit and do his hair how he wanted. He was *thisclose* to wearing his ninja costume! I totally would have let him. Xan is a scream in his and Tempest looks like she was just hanging upside down on the monkey bars and paused for a snapshot. CUTE KIDS, YO!

  • bluealoe says:

    I’ve had trouble reading books in the last few years, too. My attention span is total crap. It’s pathetic; I used to read ALL the time, and it takes me months to finish one book. So yeah, I’m proud of you for reading again!

    I’ve heard wonderful things about animal therapy. It sucks that you couldn’t get coverage for Tempest. Maybe someday?

    Yay for Z’s improvement! I’m so glad the speech pathologist and pediatrician are being supportive.

    I didn’t realize that early introduction of solids increases the risk for cancer. Good for you for not giving into the doctors’ demands for supplements. Sheesh.

    Zephyra is utterly beautiful, and NO WAY CAN SHE BE THAT OLD ALREADY! No. Just no.

    I think the kid’s school photos are cute. Not as good as the photos you’ve taken of them, of course, but still. I actually like it when kids don’t look 100% groomed in photos, they look more like themselves that way.

    I have no idea who Ruby Gloom is, but the costume is *adorable*! All three of you look amazing.

    • admin says:

      I read a few things some time ago that said there was a risk of gastro problems including cancers of the stomach (lining?)… and if it’s true it doesn’t surprise me. A baby’s gut is open and not prepared to take in food and break it down, so giving solids to an open gut is going to do some damage (plus, it takes forever to break it down and some babies go into a deep – and dangerous – sleep to do so. This, in turn, increases their risk of apnea and SIDS). It’s been a long time since I’ve been up on all the linkage though.

      Ruby Gloom is a KICKASS children’s show! You’d love it. This is the opening:

  • babe6576 says:

    I also read that book in one sitting.

    I used to work one town over from where Jaycee was kept hostage. It’s unreal!!! Very sad book.

    Love your costume too!

  • great costumes. Did you make the brooms?

  • jenrose1 says:

    So glad she’s improving so much.

  • i love the photos of z. her eyes are intriguing.

    also wanted to let you know, this is what your blog looks like on bigger monitors: http://i44.tinypic.com/2czom54.png
    those lines continue all the way down.

  • Anonymous says:

    I LOVE these costumes!! πŸ™‚

  • wolfteaparty says:

    I read that book in only a couple of nights too, and normally I’m a terribly slow reader. It was just sad, even though I couldn’t put it down. Even though she realizes the effect that her captors’ control had over her and she’s been getting a lot of help, you could just see that in a way, she’s still 11.

    • admin says:

      πŸ™

      It’s really, really devastating… Reading that I felt so sad for what she’d lost. I know that she’s safe and getting a lot of help now, and I hope that she continues to recover. I hope one day she finds love – not that I think she “needs” it, but because she talked about wishing for a real love during her captivity, and she deserves to know what it’s like to have someone truly be in love with her.

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