Saturday, January 27, 2007

Your Name Here Charter School

What's a good name for a charter school? Other than Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. I'd bet good money that charter schools named after those three comprise at least 50% of all charter schools nationwide.

Here are my candidates so far:
Condorcet Academy (he was a big advocate of public schools during the nicer part of the French Revolution, plus he invented a voting method)
Descartes School (I think, therefore I study)
Marie Curie Academy (Go Atomics! hehe)

I had a few more earlier this morning but I've since forgotten them.

If you want to show support for one of these, or if you have your own idea, put all that in the comments.

Now Maybe It's Soy

We had a chance to take Knuckles in to see an allergist. It is hard to find an allergist who comes to Tooele, and even harder to find one who will see an 11-month-old patient, so on Tuesday when I found one that did both and had a Wednesday appointment, I jumped at the chance. So now we are having an allergy test done on him.

Because he is so small, they had to do a blood test instead of a skin test, so they had to draw blood. I took him to the lab, but they couldn't draw his blood because there was only one phlebotomist there (she tried, and Knuckles was good, but she got about 1/2 cc of blood out before the needle came out). I had to take him to the hospital Thursday morning to get the blood drawn. He was so good and didn't even whimper.

We should know in two weeks exactly what he's allergic to. They are doing a standard food panel with all the major allergens (dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, etc.) plus a test for gluten. In the meantime I'm keeping him on a somewhat restricted diet. I'm not knocking myself out to remove all allergens from his diet, but I'm keeping it as gluten-free and dairy-free as I can. We found out that Rice Dream has minute quantities of gluten in it, so I bought some Silk soy milk to try him on. He drank about 2 ounces of the soy milk and his face turned red, and he was holding his lips in a strange way, so I took away the soy milk and gave him some water and rice instead. Now I'm wondering if he's allergic to soy. The soy milk will not go to waste, though-- Sonshine likes it. I've been trying to get him to cut back on dairy in hopes that it will help his asthma, so I took him off fluid milk (he was the only one of my kids to be able to drink it anyway), but he didn't like the Rice Dream which is FH's and Princess' milk-like beverage of choice, so I think he'll enjoy the soy milk. And of course I like a nice steamed soy milk with a shot of caramel.

As much as Knuckles loves rice, he does get sick of it (not to mention constipated) so I'm really looking forward to getting the test results back. I'm driving myself nuts trying to keep track of all the potential allergens in his food.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Purse Is Missing

Please excuse me from blogging while I spend the next several weeks doing nothing but making phone calls, collecting duplicate ID cards, and monitoring my credit report in what little spare time I might have had in between caring for my children.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sonshine Has Asthma

Sonshine went to the ER with an asthma attack, so last Thursday we took him to FH's asthma/allergy specialist. The appointment was in the late afternoon in Salt Lake City, so we made an afternoon trip of it and took the whole family. Sonshine was diagnosed with asthma and given a sample inhaler and meds.

Friday morning I took the sample inhaler to the school, along with the paperwork to allow his health care needs to be accommodated (I had brought the paperwork with me to the doctor). But they told me they would not give him the inhaler, because it didn't have a prescription sticker with his name on it. The school nurse called the doctor to get details of Ben's treatment plan, called me to discuss them, and set up a Tuesday morning meeting.

So on Saturday I went to the pharmacy and spent the $25 copay for the inhaler, and the $10 copay for the children's inhaler chamber. I put them in a little fabric bag clearly labeled with Sonshine's name. I wrote the directions on the chamber and also on a card. And on Monday I brought them to the school. They told me that they STILL wouldn't give him the inhaler, because we hadn't had the meeting for me to train the school staff how to administer it. This really chapped my hide because it's not like he's the first kid in school to use an albuterol inhaler, and it's not like they didn't already have the instructions from the doctor laying out when and how he was to take the meds.

This morning we had our meeting and I showed them all how to use the inhaler and chamber. They all liked the chamber and said it was easier to use than the other kids' chambers. And they complained that they needed a bigger cabinet to hold all the inhalers and chambers. I was nice and I bit my tongue about how stupid it was that they supposedly needed a meeting to teach them how to do something they're already doing for a large cabinetfull of students.

Now I'm going to take the rest of the day off to be at home without other people whom I will have the urge to strangle.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My "Little List"

People who need to be strangled:
  • reporters who whine that there's a "cover-up" of any information that isn't spoonfed to them
  • school office employees who refuse to administer life-saving medication to students without papers signed in triplicate (note: these are the same employees who refuse to wipe their own @$$es without a District @$$-Wiping Request Form and district-approved toilet paper
  • school district administrators who think it's a good idea to require District @$$-Wiping Request Forms to be filled out to document every #2 for "statistical" or "legal" purposes
  • sue-happy parents who enable the above situation
  • doctors who don't believe you when you tell them you're having the symptoms you're having, like you would spend good money on the office visit and a babysitter just so you could lie to them
Anyone else to add to the list? Put it in the comments.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

OK, Now My Hide Is Really Chapped

My neighbor, who is taking classes at the extension, came over for tutoring tonight. She was surprised to discover that I was unemployed. I knew that they had opened an extra section of remedial pre-algebra at the last minute, and her instructor was the one who was asked to teach it, but evidently he's been complaining that he didn't want to teach this class and it was rather foisted on him.

They foist an extra class on a guy who doesn't want it, when I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs wondering how I'm going to pay my bills.

I'm trying really hard not to be mad about this.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Knuckles Threw Up In Sonshine's Lego Bin

Just in case you were wondering, yes, small Legos can go down the tub drain.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gluten Free Bread #3, Gluten Free Pancakes

I tried the All-Purpose Bread and FH made the pancake recipe from that cookbook I got.

The All-Purpose Bread was definitely bread, but kind of weird to my taste. It had both yeast and baking powder in it, and you could definitely taste the baking powder. The texture was kinda crumbly, and even in a plastic bag it got stale the next day. Not gonna make that one again, I think. Next up to try is a white bread recipe I found on the internet that uses a rice/soy/potato flour mix.

FH's cornstarch/potato starch pancakes were a big hit with the kids, who proclaimed them identical to regular pancakes. Baby Knuckles had a field day. He got upset when we had to take away the wheat pancake somebody slipped him last Sunday (Sunday is Daddy Pancake Day at our house) so he was thrilled to be allowed a pancake this week.

Good Lord, Is There Anything That DOESN'T Contain Wheat?

Seasoning for hamburgers has wheat in it.

Soy sauce has wheat in it (this I knew) so anything that is made with soy sauce, like pretty much ALL Chinese food, contains wheat.

Cream of chicken soup has wheat in it.

Frickin' CORN flakes have wheat in them.

My baby is living on a diet of vegetables, fruits, rice krispies and rice chex plus whatever I can bake gluten-free for him in the limited time I have available. There are NO gluten-free foods available in Tooele, and we can't afford expensive stuff anyway. He can only eat soft foods because he has no teeth (although all indications are that this condition is about to change).

Any suggestions?

Thought Of The Day

Headaches are caused by having a head. If you are having a problem with headaches, one quick and easy solution would be to cut off your head. This will immediately relieve the headaches, although it does have a few side effects, including impotence, lethargy, and pain in your neck.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We have a diagnosis... sort of

Bagel had his appointment today to finish his testing and get a dx. The verdict is "borderline Asperger's". The psych didn't want to go all the way and say "Asperger's" because he did make eye contact (albeit kind of formal eye contact). They want to re-evaluate him in six months (he'll be 3 by then) to see which way he goes over the border.

In a way I feel vindicated, because it's now official that I'm not going out of my mind when I say there's something wrong, but in a way I also feel like I shot myself in the foot, because what made the difference were the things we did with him through Early Intervention. Looking back over the log I kept, there's been a real sea change in his behavior since we started treating it like it was Asperger's. He used to bite everything that didn't move fast enough, and now he only bites in certain circumstances. He used to scream and cry all day long, and now that we understand the problem better we have developed routines that help him. He's able to go to Nursery at church, if we take action on Saturday and Sunday to keep him running on an even keel and make sure he's got the emotional wherewithal to do church. It's been a lot of work and I feel kind of like I'm putting in all that work every day for nothing because now people think he's normal from all the work I did. If I ever stopped doing that work, they'd see real quick which side of the "borderline" he's on.

Gluten Free Bread #2

I bought a cookbook called The Gluten-Free Kitchen by Roben Ryberg. My sister found it at Wild Oats, and I thought it would be a good one because it took a "pantry" type approach, where you have your pantry stocked with a small finite number of foods and then you make a bunch of different things out of them. That fits my approach to cooking and food storage. I like to buy big honking tubs of everything I use on a regular basis.

The recipes are based around cornstarch and potato starch. Cornstarch, at least, is pretty cheap and easy to find (way cheaper and easier than some of the other gluten free flours, anyway) and it doesn't have that "beany" off-taste of garbanzo bean or soy flour.

I tried the pumpkin bread from this cookbook and it turned out pretty well. The batter was a bit "gloopier" than a normal batter, as you'd probably expect from any batter that uses that much cornstarch. But it tastes just like pumpkin bread and has the same texture! FH, ever the discriminating palate, gives it his stamp of approval.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I slipped and fell on the ice yesterday. I was chasing some dogs off our property. They've been just wandering the neighborhood all day for the last few days now, they sheltered in the snow igloo that FH built for the kids and they took a crap in our yard. Princess identified them as dogs that on a previous occasion had chased her when she rode her bike down the street and playfully bit her rear. Sonshine couldn't go outside because the dogs were trying to nose their way in the door whenever he opened it. So I went to chase them off, and got hit in the face by an icy driveway. As I'm laying there bleeding, calling for the kids to get FH, the damn dogs are just sitting there right out of my arm's reach with this look on their dumb doggy faces like "So, since you're not chasing us any more, does this mean we get to stay???"

My knees and face took the brunt of it, the knees worse than the face. Thankfully I didn't break my glasses, I just got a fat lip and some nasty looking scrapes on my cheek and chin. One knee is pretty bad looking from bruises, but other than the skin it doesn't hurt. The other knee doesn't look as bruised up, but it hurts bad enough that I'm limping and trying to keep weight off it.

Those dogs come in our yard again, I'm calling animal control. There's no call to be letting your dogs wander the neighborhood crapping in people's yards and trying to nose their way into people's houses and biting people's kids on the rear and not leaving property when chased off.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My First Gluten Free Bread

Having finally collected all the ingredients to try making gluten-free baked goods, I made my first attempt this evening.

I used the Bob's Red Mill GF bread mix, because I wanted to get some sort of idea what dealing with GF dough would be like before I went mixing some of my own. It's quite different from regular wheat dough. For one thing, it's a lot wetter. You can't handle it in a ball like regular dough, it's more like a very stiff batter. You mix it with a regular beater, not a dough hook. When you put it into the pan it's stiff enough that it won't level out, but you can smooth it out with a spatula.

The directions said to bake it for 60-65 minutes, but when I smelled it burning at 45 minutes I took it out. A full hour seemed like way too long to bake a loaf of bread at 375 degrees, but what do I know about gluten free bread? For all I know it takes longer to bake than wheat bread. So I just followed directions.

There are loads of different flour substitution formulas for GF baked goods. The Bob's Red Mill mix was heavy on the bean flours, including garbanzo and fava beans, and this gave the bread a bit of an off taste. In addition the bread was kind of rubbery. It was a tad chewy, and you could flop a slice around as if it were made of rubber. Still, though, it was definitely bread of some sort, and it had a bread texture and everything, and it pretty much tasted like bread.

Friday, January 05, 2007


The article is interesting enough in its own right, but there's a bunch of gay men having a catfight in the comments. I have to say it's way more interesting than when women have catfights. Women go right for the "below the belt" stuff.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Give Up

I can't get Knuckles to lay on his back long enough to change his diaper, so I just put his diaper on back to front. I could probably get him to lay on his back long enough to get a diaper on him if I used some duct tape, but even though duct tape is the Great American Adhesive, I don't know if that's legal. Also it would use up a lot of duct tape, and I think we're down to our last 2 or 3 rolls.

Make Yourself Think

How is it that there are such large swaths of the population that do not grasp the fact that you have control over what you think, say, and do? Especially considering that the vast majority of world religions are based on this very principle?

Is this just the Asperger's "separation of mind" thing going on in my own head that doesn't go on in everyone else's? Because I can't remember a time when I didn't control my thoughts. Emotions could get out-of-control overwhelming, yeah, but not words or thoughts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Miscellaneous Developments

The gate I bought on Amazon arrived today. I was going to try to get it at Target, but it occurred to me that I would probably never get to the store at all, and in the meantime I was getting tired from running up and down the stairs all the time to fetch Knuckles and Bagel, and also Bagel's developed a nasty habit of chucking stuff (particularly heavy stuff) down the stairs when Knuckles is down at the bottom. So I just ordered it, and it works great! I installed it at the bottom of the stairs and it was really easy. The reviews say it can stop cats, so if you have a cat that you want to keep out of a room, take note.

For our Family Home Evening (which we held today instead of yesterday, because FH got into an all-day after-hours support call yesterday) our lesson was about child safety. I put labels that say "Constant Vigilance!" on both sides of the gate and on several of the childproofing devices and explained to the older kids that this is to remind them that they always have to be vigilant about safety to protect their younger brothers. (The Harry Potter reference didn't hurt either, for our young wizarding fans!) They have to always close the gate, always relatch the cupboards, always put away the scissors, always put the Tot-Lok key up high instead of leaving it on the cupboard door (which effectively leaves the cupboard unlocked). If they forget once or get lazy once, Bad Things May Happen That Will Haunt Them For The Rest Of Their Lives. I also attempted to impress upon Sonshine the extreme need for him to not try experiments with the new gate like "How hard can I lean on it before it pops off?" or "How many stairs can I put my feet up while my hands are still on top of the gate?" and on Princess the need for her not to climb bookcases. We'll see how well that worked tomorrow, when I bet Sonshine will think, "She didn't say anything about not trying 'How many bodyslams does it take to dislodge the latch,' now did she?" Princess will probably go to the other extreme and avoid standing too near to bookcases for a week, for fear they will topple over on her.

FH got into an all-day after-hours support call yesterday at about 4 or 5 in the morning. Something really screwy had gone wrong and he couldn't figure out what had caused it, but he found a way to fix it which unfortunately took all day. Today the client called up and blamed him for starting the problem! As if he had nothing better to do in the wee hours of New Year's Day than to mess around with their server! They didn't even check their own logs to see if he had logged in before the problem started (he hadn't, of course, but that didn't stop them). So he and his boss got chewed out over it. So this is a "what-kind-of-idiot" paragraph, as in "What kind of idiot bites the hand that feeds them?" I don't usually blog about FH's work, but I was just so outraged that I couldn't resist.

Besides answering support calls for ingrates, FH was busy this weekend. He rearranged all the furniture in the boys' room in an attempt to keep them from destroying their windowshade again. It won't work, because not only do Bagel and Sonshine have a clear path to get to the windowshade, but Knuckles plays with the windowshade now that he can reach it from his crib; but I haven't the heart to tell him. I also haven't the heart to tell him that the way he's arranged the dressers next to Sonshine's bed means that they are now stair-steps for Bagel to climb up on top of. The previous arrangement of dressers made that impossible. I'm taking bets on how long it'll take Bagel to figure out he can climb up there, and how long it'll take Sonshine to start jumping off the top of his dresser. Bagel's already figured out he can climb up on the bed to reach things on top of one dresser, and he has a long history of climbing up on furniture to get something he wants, so the clock is definitely ticking. My bet is two weeks for Bagel and fifteen days for Sonshine.

UPDATE 1/3: Bets are no longer being accpeted; Bagel chased Sonshine up onto the dresser and Sonshine jumped off to escape him.


Monday, January 01, 2007


Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred on belief in the absence of evidence.

There are days that all believers struggle with belief, injustice and evil. ‘Oh Lord, why hast Thou abandoned me,’ is universally understood- and felt. Those days require faith, not lack of faith.

Non believers would argue that belief in God is a kind of crutch- and it is in that argument that we can see that they do not understand the meaning of ‘faith in God.’ In fact, real faith is assuming a burden, obligations that would otherwise be ignored. The Jewish notion is particularly illustrative- it is one of assuming ‘the yoke of Heaven.’

With real faith there is no respite from those obligations. In fact, the obligations and ‘ascent’ are unrelenting. There is a never ending field that must be plowed so that who follow the believer will find spiritual nourishment and meaning. There are no vacations from the obligations believers assume.

Those believers who struggle with those beliefs at one time or another, are the real people of faith. To struggle with faith is as much a part of faith as anything else.

The Anchoress on the crisis of faith in the face of adversity.

In one of those weird co-incidences that seem so providential, sometimes, a reader with whom I have never corresponded before wrote to me out of the blue, about the same themes that were going ’round in my head. The last thing he wrote was this:

Fr Nouwen reminds us of how the Eucharist defines our life.
First Christ takes us as we are.
He blesses us.
Then He breaks us.
And gives us to the world to bless.


In another part of [Rumer Godden’s novel In This House of Brede], a nun who has entered after a life of heavy secular responsibilities scorns an admonishment to be more willing, more open, to what is required of her. “I have done my stint,” she says.

“Your stint,” an older nun replies, “that sounds like a measure.”

“It is a measure,” the first nun says, “my full share.”

“I think you will find,” the older nun councils, “that God does not work in measures.”

Gagdad Bob on feeling at home in the world.
Now, one thing you must immediately bear in mind is that neither of these comments were intended to convey contempt. Far from it. Rather, they were expressions of a familiar kind of pain that apparently has no name, and which I myself had never adequately articulated until reading these passages. A decent person will not automatically blame the world for the fact that he doesn't fit into it. Rather, in the absence of some kind of emotional support from like-minded people, he will naturally blame himself: the world is right. There's just something wrong with me. I am a misfit. I need to change myself so that I can be like the others. But this is no solution. Rather, it will simply exchange one kind of existential pain for another. A lion can try to fit in with the other sheep by eating grass all day, but that is far from the ideal solution. But what can you do if you've never even met another lion?

The human world is an interpersonal world. It is a tapestry of humanness that comes at us from every possible angle, high and low. Each of us must find our place within this tapestry, but it is much easier for some than for others. An "average" person apparently feels "at home" in the world, for the simple reason that the world was made for him. But if you are far from average, the world is going to literally be an alien place. It is going to be much more painful -- even bizarre. To take a mundane example, the world was made for righthanded people. If you are lefthanded, you are going to have to deal with all kinds of trivial inconveniences for the simple reason that the world literally wasn't made for you. In the not too distant past, parents would even force lefthanded children to be righthanded, which would cause real damage, similar to "enlightened" parents who try to raise their children without a strong sexual identification.