Saturday, January 30, 2010


I like him best when he is sleeping.

We took him out to our friend's farm and let him play with his litter sisters. He sure was pooped afterwards.

They have a rockin' cool chicken coop for their flock o' fifteen (or so)

And I'm totally jealous of their chicken yard. After seeing this I became inspired to rescue my own hens out of their holocaust existence in the muddy, stinky side yard and create a more free-range experience for them. I wanted to put up a fence like this (much smaller of course) and give them about a 1/3 of our back yard to free range.

We used to have them free range over all the back yard and it worked great (except for the occasionally too many piles of chicken poop on the patio -- and once or twice on the bbq, which Paul had a coniption over), until we brought home Humphrey, who promptly began trying to eat the chickens. Thus the quarantine to the side yard.

Paul doesn't like the idea of losing half of his yard to chickens he is trying to pretend we don't have. So I've decided to gussy up the side yard and plant lots of ground cover and bushes that they can play in and forage around. And I'll really make the fence/gate impenetrable to Humphrey getting in. I'll even put a chair out there so that we can sit out there and read and hang out with the chickens so they won't be lonely.

Fences are a good thing with Humphrey around.

We checked out Fluffball while we were there, too. He is loving his life bossing around the hens and crowing to his heart's content.

Humphrey loves knowing what's going on at all times; he looks out this window and barks at all the passing people, cars and strong winds.

Our poor Kiya is five years old and still doesn't quite know what to make of seven month old Humphrey. Sometimes she plays with him, but lots of times she ignores him and pretends to be sleeping while he bites her head.

He gets into everything. I had to throw away this blanket because I discovered a huge -- almost Robert sized -- hole in the middle of it. Courtesy of Humphrey tugging on it, I assume.

Of course the children encourage him and continue to play tug games with inappropriate objects. By the way, I am not taking this picture, thereby consenting to this behavior.

Humphrey's such a punk. That's all there is to it.

He follows Kiya around like an annoying little brother.

We try to give Kiya some extra lovin' to make up for this horrible intrusion in her life ...

but he's not all bad. He is pretty charming when he's horizontal and not bounding up four feet in the air because you are bringing his food to the back door.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Braces

When Robert first went in to get his braces put on, his lateral incisors weren't in yet. That's the tooth in between the front tooth and the canine tooth.

There was a big enough gap between his front two teeth that there just wasn't space for them to come down. (His upper jaw was also too narrow, making things a bit tighter in there.) So after a "spreader" of sorts in the roof of his mouth for a month or so -- pulling apart the suture there -- his upper jaw now aligns with the bottom. They also had a spring put in to force the space between the front and canine teeth open allowing room for those lateral incisors.

Eventually the space opened up and the wee teeth popped out. So now, more brackets needed to be put on.

Here's Robert getting prepped. The teeth have to be uber-dry for the adhesive to stick onto the teeth, so they spread the lips away and suction off their surfaces.

Voila! Two more brackets were glued on.

Then they have to cure the glue and harden it up so the brackets don't move around when they attach the new wire.

So, no more springs are necessary! Yeah! They were inconvenient at first when Robert was getting used to the whole braces thing. If anything went wrong and we had to call the doctor after hours, it was always because a spring disconnected and his wire was hanging loose and poking him.

So now he's just a regular dude with braces and no extra appliances attached.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stuck in Hypocrisy

This is going to be raw and broken and weird and not very coherent. I'm going to use this space to free-write and journal today.

I'm feeling melancholy and slow and pensive. I'm feeling trapped and stuck and I can't breathe.

I feel like I'm at an impasse, a stalemate, a conundrum of days and ways of life. And the puppy just ate one of my shoes.

I think I haven't taken my vitamin D in a long while. Maybe it's time for a "happy light" purchase. But that just makes me sound mentally ill. And I don't feel mentally ill; I just feel ... stuck. And overwhelmed a little.

I feel like I'm grieving. That's what it is. Grieving for what, you ask? Sigh. I don't want to tell you. I don't want to spell it out loud here on the page. I don't want it to exist. But then I do want it to exist. I want to act on it; and then I don't want to act on it. I want to live a different life, but then I want and cherish the very one I have. I want less chaos in my life because of the pull on my time and energy; and then I want to add more for the excitement and promise. I want to live authentically, with my true self showing at all times, but then I'm too afraid.

Puppies, chickens, husbands, boyfriends, children, IEPs, homeschooling, gardens, special needs, doctors, therapy, traveling, writing, agents, editors, proposals, desires and un-met needs.

I struggle with extremes. Paul told me once that my dreams were diametrically opposed to each other. Yes. True. Like: the fierce dream to travel around the world and wade in multiple cultures and breathe in their essences and write about them -- AND, to live with minimal footprint, on a mountain farm and ranch with a creek and tons of trees, living totally off the grid and completely self-sustaining. I can't do both. Who would take care of my animals while we traveled? Who would tend the gardens? How could I knit and sew all our clothes and household items and still have time to write the books that are milling around inside me like lost travelers? How could I live my dream of using little to no fossil fuels and still fly around the world? I would be (and am) the biggest hypocrite of all.

And so I sit in my office -- with the compact fluorescent light beaming on me, and the dogs play-growling down the hall, and the kids yelling "Don't bark!" and my son locking the puppy in with me so they can hear their television show, and the dog scratching at the door so that I have to get up and let him out so he doesn't tear the paper blinds -- and feel stuck.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Latest Adventure

I got up this morning after lying in bed with Paul, snuggling and talking in the dark. (I love doing this and it never seems to happen.) I impetuously and good-heartedly made homemade, gluten-free biscuits and humanely treated sausage gravy (*snort* that sounded funny ... free range sausage) and a yummy pot of coffee.

No one liked the food. Sigh. This is why I don't try sometimes.

I gave the gravy to the dogs and the biscuits to the chickens. I ate the rest.

The animals at least appreciated it. The chickens! Oh my godd. They made the most interesting noises of excitement over the biscuits, I didn't mind "wasting" them.


I'm not making breakfast tomorrow. Let them eat dry cereal out of the bag while watching cartoons on t.v. They're happier anyway.

Not that I'm bitter. :) 'Cuz the chickens love me, ya know?

In other news, we had a wild adventure yesterday. (I love my crazy life.)

The kids were in daycare so I could attend a counseling appointment. Afterwards I picked them up and then picked up my friend, Jesse. We all went grocery shopping and then, in the checkout line, discovered that I'd locked my keys in the van. Sigh.

We opted to walk home with the four grocery bags and twelve pack of toilet paper in arms ... in the dark ... in the rain. Yes. It was raining, too. :) We decided to do this as opposed to waiting forty-five minutes in the rain, past dinner hour, when Robert was already doing his spiraly/spinning like a top thing from lack of food. (Even after we got home and the exercise that provided, he found it difficult to keep still and quiet and to stop talking non-stop during dinner.)

After dinner and the kids were upstairs preparing for bed, Paul called to say he was on his way home from his meeting. Surprisingly enough I had forgotten about our mishap by this time and just said we'd wait the movie for him. He walked in and said, "Where's the van?"

Me and Jesse just laughed.

After my glorious soak in the tub this morning and the kids' Saturday morning cartoons ritual, we'll all (the kids and I because Paul is at work) walk down there and wait for roadside assistance to unlock the van for us.

And then yardwork.


If it doesn't rain.


Or I could write.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

That's Just the Way It Is

The last hour is an hour full of tweenager angst. Aubrey has been in a delightful, snuggly, happy, outgoing mood all morning. When requested to get dressed for her art class she put on her old, almost outgrown, grossly stained tae-kwon-do uniform. I informed her she couldn't wear that in public and she needed to change.

Raised voices, tears, angst, and slamming doors followed. All from her. Though I feel that I contributed to the drama by not articulating my viewpoint very well. This is good though. I'm being called out of my automatic responses and really trying to know why I'm saying some things.

Why is it so important that my children wear unstained clothes and clean clothes and that they themselves are clean? Aubrey really wants to know. And "because it's gross" isn't cutting it for her.

And the irritating thing is I just can't seem to find an answer to satisfy her. Or myself really. I'm unsure how to put it into words. It has something to do with self-confidence and self-respect; I know that. And how you are judged by others. Unfortunately that is in there, too.

I think it is that particular point that set off the escalating trauma for Aubrey today. That I mentioned what others would think of her. Then there was something about her not caring about that (so I said I would have to then) and something about life lessons and learning to mind my own business and another slammed door. I didn't follow what she was saying because see was doing the melodramatic voice warble thing at the time. I don't think she was telling me to mind my own business, but maybe she was.

After the door slammed, Robert came out of his room and quietly called from the top of the stairs, "I think you should leave her alone now, Mom." Very wise. I wanted to keep talking -- trying to convince her of my point (whatever it was), but Robert was right. I needed to stop talking now and let her feel, process and decide on her own whatever was going to do.

She's changed into other clothes and is now politely and compassionately playing with Robert (which is rare these days). Even throughout the "fight" if you want to call it that, she emerged from her room two or three times to calmly try to articulate her thoughts and feelings. I was impressed. I hope that all our disagreements are handled this way, with open communication despite distressed feelings and snarky side comments. (By her, of course.) *snort*

I think some upcoming sewing projects will be some cool, loose-fitting clothes for both the kids. And they can pick out their own fabric.

I don't mind the color, style or type of clothing they wear (as long as it is weather-appropriate); nor do I mind what hairstyle, hair color or body piercings or tatoos they want or get. I believe it is important to express whatever you are feeling this way, or express who you are this way. But you've gotta be clean, dude. And I don't know why. That's just the way it is.

You know, I personally know two homeless people (that I know of) that I see on a regular basis and hang out with them. They are funny and intelligent and artistic. And clean. One's kinda kick back in his clothing style (more of what I might wear while lounging about on a Sunday, or to clean the garage, say) and has wild Afro-curly hair with a full beard; and one's got about one outfit. I've seen him wear a couple different shirts, but always the same pants, boots and coat. But neither of them smell, look dirty or have dirty looking or smelling clothes. They take more pride in their appearance than my children.

And that's what bothers me. But I don't know why. That's just the way it is.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Because of my last posting, some of you may be wondering what hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is.


* A painless procedure in which patient is exposed to increased pressure, allowing greater absorption of oxygen throughout body tissues, resulting in many healing and therapeutic effects.
* Oxygen floods areas that are oxygen-starved, stimulating cell growth and regeneration.
* US FDA approved treatment for 13 indications and is now widely used in the USA, UK and China in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Cerebral Palsy, ADD/ADHD, Autism, Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, immune dysfunction, spinal cord injury, anoxic brain injury, near drowning and other off-label indications.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), is a non-invasive method that uses 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure in a controlled total body chamber. It started as a medical treatment to speed up and enhance the body's natural ability to heal. Today, it is an approved modality that is most often used as an adjunct or enhancement therapy for a wide variety of medical conditions.

How does HBOT work?

Normally, the red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. With HBOT, oxygen can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked since it is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids including the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the bone. Moreover, extra oxygen are able to nourish the damaged tissues making the body capable of its own healing process. The increased oxygen also greatly improves the body’s infection control as it enhances the function of the white blood cells and promotes formation of new blood vessels in the affected areas.

Inactive or damaged neurons receive just enough oxygen to survive but not enough to function or fire electrically. With HBOT, the neurons become reactivated and are facilitated for function once again. The reactivation of these cells leads to plasticity such that the brain is able to learn or relearn the skills that are necessary for proper function of both the body and the brain makes new connections for recovery of trunk, limb and muscle movement and the brain, as it relates to cognitive function.

What is plasticity or neuroplasticity?

Plasticity or neuroplasticity is one of the most widely celebrated discoveries in the 21st century. It is a mechanism that proves brain repair is possible. It involves the redirection and reeducation of neurons to create new pathways to learn and improve both cognitive and motor skills. Plasticity follows any brain insult when the brain and body compensate and attempt to overcome and rewire their connections to learn to take over the tasks of the damaged neurons.

SUMMARY of Benefits:

* Provides the extra oxygen (with minimal side effects) naturally required to reach the damaged area where the body’s natural healing ability is unable to function properly
* Improves the quality of life of the patient in many areas when standard medicine is not sufficient
* Ensures the best recovery possible when used in conjunction with other therapies


HBOT can be used to treat patients who suffer from various diseases or injuries associated with hypoxia, or lack of oxygen on a cellular level. It can also be used for its antibiotic properties as it enhances infection control. Some conditions that were found elicit good response to HBOT include:

* Stroke
* Cerebral Palsy
* Traumatic Brain Injury and other head injuries
* Chronic Fatigue
* Autism
* Lyme Disease
* Migraine
* Multiple Sclerosis
* Near Drowning
* Recovery from Plastic Surgery
* Sports Injuries
* Air or Gas Embolism
* Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
* Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury/Other Traumatic Ischemias
* Decompression Sickness (Bends)
* Diabetic and Selected Wounds
* Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)
* Gas Gangrene
* Intracranial Abscess
* Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
* Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage
* Osteomyelitis (Refractory)
* Skin Grafts and (Compromised) Flaps
* Thermal Burns

US FDA approved indications

* Carbon monoxide poisoning
* Gas gangrene
* Crush injury/acute trauma
* Diabetic foot ulcers
* Decompression sickness
* Selected problem wounds
* Necrotizing soft tissue
* Osteomyelitis (refractory)
* Radiation tissue damage
* Severe anemia
* Skin grafts and flaps
* Thermal burns
* Air or gas embolism

Some off-label indications

* Alzheimer’s
* Anoxic Brain Injury
* Autism
* Bell’s Palsy
* Cancer Cerebral Palsy
* Chronic fatigue
* Diabetes
* Lyme Disease
* Multiple Sclerosis
* Meniere’s Disease
* Immune Dysfunction
* Stroke
* Spinal Cord Injury
* Traumatic Brain Injury
* Vascular Disease
* Crohn’s Disease
* Fibromyalgia
* Heart Disease
* Infections
* Macula Degeneration
* Migraines
* Mitochondrial Disorders
* Near Drowning
* Peripheral Neuropathy
* Post Electrocution
* Raynaud’s Phenomenon
* Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
* RetinitisPigmentosa
* Rheumatoid Arthritis
* Severed Limbs
* Sickle Cell Crisis
* Sports Injuries

Side Effects

Although HBOT is extremely safe, some patients may complain of:

* Barotrauma to the ears and sinuses due to changes in pressure
* Temporary and minor changes in vision
* Oxygen toxicity due to overexposure

Treatment guidelines are to be strictly followed to prevent or minimize the side effects.


* Neubauer, V. I. .Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
*and Intensive Pediatric Exercise
* Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Testimonials & Resources
* New Developments in Child Neurology
* Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics : Research References
* HBO Treatment: Autism and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
* Wikipedia: Types of Oxygen Toxicity

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Myriads of Topics

So, I've been cleaning. And this is my beautiful, slightly more organized garage.

Despite this, the mice are back. Eeew. Paul and I saw one last night while we were watching a movie, so we set some more traps. Bummer. It's been months since we've had any. I thought they were all gone. For good. But no.

I got two of the bastards in traps this morning. Then Humphrey (our six month old puppy) set off the other trap, so I had to move them under the sink where he couldn't sniff out the peanut butter. I'll put them back before I go to bed tonight.

This picture represents the accumulation of stuff that litters the bottom of my van at any given time. Paul cleaned out the van earlier this month and this was the result. (He's always giving me shit for how dirty my van is.)

But THIS, dear reader, is the stuff from HIS car. (heeheehee)

No more shit from Paul. Or if he does hand it to me, I can give it right back. (*insert cheesy smile*)

I'm already thinking garden. If I'm going to be planting sugar snap peas and spinach and broccoli in March, I best start thinking of ordering the seeds and preparing the ground next month. !!! It still feels like the dead of winter over here. It doesn't seem feasible to start working the ground in a few short weeks.

I'm still knitting scarves for (fill in the blank's) sake! I'm working on a yummy cream and mocha striped one right now, and learning about right side and wrong side of project.

We had a Manga/Knitting Homeschool Group here yesterday. Yes, the two don't seem to go together, but my daughter was wanting some manga buddies and I wanted some crafting/sewing/knitting time -- so we combined it. It worked fairly well actually. The kids drew some manga for about 45 minutes, then I tried teaching some Japanese language with the flashcards I'd picked up, but one of the kids already knew what I had prepared! All of it! Turns out he's been taking Japanese lessons through Human. His mom said it was better than Rosetta Stone and much cheaper ($25). I'll have to check it out for Aubrey.

Then the kids took turns playing You Tube videos of their favorite Japanese musicians and listened to some Japanese music. And we finished off the "club," as Aubrey calls it, with an episode of CardCaptor Sakura in Japanese with English subtitles.

The moms present knitted instead.


We'll be doing it next Friday, as well.

This is my very first scarf, knitted for myself, in August/September of 2009. It's super long and wide, the way I like scarves.

This one I finished for a friend at Christmas.

And this will be my next sewing project. Robert picked out this rockin' fabric for me to make him a cloak from.

Despite the kids really loving their new classes at HomeSource this term, Paul and I have talked it through and we've decided to put the kids back in school and end this lovely home/unschooling experiment. Sigh.

(kids in gymnastics class)

Strangely enough, (and I'm really so relieved) I am able to accept this change without feeling like a failure. And I don't feel like I am dumping them back into the hands of unfeeling, underpaid district employees. (Well, maybe a teeny bit.)

I started this homeschooling path because Robert wasn't getting his needs met in public school and the private school I attempted to put him in turned him down -- and everywhere else (lottery alternative schools) had waiting lists. So I stayed home with him and it was brilliant. His behavior changed, we got closer in our relationship, he became more relaxed. In fact, I had so much fun that I talked Aubrey and Paul into having Aubrey come home with us, too. And that was fun, too, for about six months. And then she got really bored.

We tried curriculum with her, but I didn't like doing it. And with Robert being unschooled, it didn't really work to do curriculum with her at the same time. Also, their ages and interests were just enough off that whatever Robert wanted to do, Aubrey didn't and whatever Aubrey wanted to do, Robert didn't. So someone was always being neglected during large chunks of the day. And that wasn't working.

Our cohesiveness started failing, the kids started hating each other and I've started falling back into, "What are we going to do today?" with my eyes wide like I'm trapped in front of an oncoming semi.

I've also needed considerable more "alone" time this past six months than I did all of last year. I've got personal challenges that I'm struggling with and a book that I'm trying to finish. So, it just feels like time to move the kids back into school outside of home. I'm both sad and excited.

Sad because an unschooling/homeschooling lifestyle still has beautiful, nurturing connotations that I want for our family. And there are so many "pros" for our family. Namely that the kids' interests are addressed more than they would at a more traditional school (even an alternative one.) For instance, between the two of them, the kids are taking Chess, Swimming, Ballet, Gymnastics and Drawing Anime. There is no way that they will get that in school, no matter which one I put them in. And if we go with a private school (which is a fairly probable possibility), we won't have the money after paying the school's tuition, for them to take more than maybe one of these "extra-curricular" activities.

And that's another thing. I hate that art and movement and dance and chess are extra. They should be the norm! They should be in every child's week (if they want them.) And I'm sad that Paul and I are effectively taking those opportunities away from our children. :(

The other really big plus for homeschooling Robert is his "extra" needs. If we opt for a private school, we may have to advocate harder for those needs, than we would if we did public school with an IEP for him. So we are not sold on which place would be best for him. We're still researching.

As it stands now, all of the lottery schools in our city have waiting lists and the lottery for next year is not until March. Not too far away, but IF they get chosen, then school wouldn't start for another nine months. But frankly I'm not holding my breath for that. I've had Aubrey in the Village School's lottery at least three times and on the waiting list once. She's never got in. I had Robert in the lottery for Ridgeline Montessori (as a sibling because Aubrey was already in Ridgeline at the time -- which meant he got priority over any slots available) and he still didn't get in. He was on the sibling waiting list. (As opposed to the regular waiting list.) Sigh.

There is a private school (Eugene Waldorf School) that has openings for both the kids right now. Barring Robert's application gets approved. So we wouldn't have much wait and could get them in this month probably.

Other options are: wait until the lottery and see if the kids get into any of the other alternative schools (tuition free) -- which is uber-nice because Paul's worried about his job stability just now. And then put them into Waldorf in March or April if the lottery schools don't work.

I have a tendency to want to hurry through to the next step when a decision is finally made.

So ... Paul and I have decided it's best for everyone involved (collectively anyway) that the kids go back to school. So, now I want to just make that happen and be on to the next part of the journey. But hurrying may be detrimental for Robert especially. When something new is offered to him, or when he's told "This is what's happening now," he digs his heels in and yells for all he's worth. :) Cheeky Monkey.

If I try to push him into a school setting when he's not ready, the first grade nightmare will happen all over again. And I don't want any more trauma for my baby.

We've got some diagnosis' in our back pocket if we want them (Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder) -- we laugh at that last one -- but more importantly we have some avenues to walk down to help him get re-integrated into a classroom. If we try to force him in next month before we start OT (Occupational Therapy) or continue HBot (if we decide to do that) or get him any counseling (which I'm skeptical of at his age), we risk it taking even longer for him to get into school without fighting at home or with the teachers and kids.

(Robert in the hyperbaric chamber -- HBOT.)

(I go in with him. The sessions last about an hour.)

(We do a lot of reading in there.)

I don't know. Robert's such an interesting little kid and he's so full of life. He really wants to make friends and maybe putting him into school would be excellent for him and he'll love it.

I feel like I need to help him with this transition though. How do I do that? Make home more like school? Talk about the things that would happen at school? Pump up the friends aspect? Take him to open houses and let him play on school playgrounds when school isn't in session?

Aubrey has SpiralScouts in a couple of hours (we're working on the Drumming Badge) and I want to soak in the tub with a book for a bit before that happens, so I'll close here. I hope this didn't fel too much like a rant. Just wanting to connect to whoever's listening ...