Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I am constantly on the lookout for children's books in Spanish. I find them in Costa Rica, on Amazon, on my online book-swapping site (I've had surprisingly good luck there), at library sales, at thrift stores and once, incredibly, at a yard sale. I often--though not always--use money from my own budget in order to avoid financial ruin. We have quite a library built up, and I love seeing the boys get all excited when I come home and announce I've brought them a libro nuevo.

I found the Latin Baby Book Club last year and was thrilled to finally find a place that had useful, thoughtful recommendations for children's books in Spanish. I'll be writing monthly reviews there, and my first one is up here. The book is called Poemas con sol y son, and it's one of our favorite books of poetry to read together.

Just FYI, in case anyone is interested!


Thanks you all--both my IRL friends and my friends in the computer--for your comments on my last post. (I left that support group meeting thinking, "Damn, I wish I could go have coffee with Kal and Christine.") I think people who blog regularly know this, but I hadn't quite realized just how much better I would feel once I posted about that meeting. Kal's comment provided some food for thought, too. This is Secondo's teacher's very first year teaching, so she's very enthusiastic and caring, and she is just so good with him. I don't even want to think about him moving up a class next year.

The flip side of the meeting was that it led to a discussion of IEPs that I found incredibly useful, especially since we will be redoing Secondo's next month. I need to walk into this one prepared.

My brain is mush right now, but I just wanted to say thanks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I occasionally attend a support group for parents of children with special needs. I was excited to find out about it, and even though it’s held on weekday mornings, my schedule sometimes allows it. I’ve met some very nice people, including the coordinator, a gentle soul I was drawn to the minute I met her, a woman who gives out her cell phone number so you can call her in the middle of the night about an IEP if you need to. They are a wealth of information and experience. Their kids are all older than mine. Many of their children have multiple disabilities and are autistic on top of that, a fact that humbles me. They treat me, the newcomer, with kid gloves. Your son was just diagnosed, they tell me. You’ll never be as vulnerable as you are right now. It will never be this hard again. It will still be hard, but it will be different.

And every time I go, I question whether or not I should go back.

The group is different every time, so we start with introductions. My son, Secondo, is three, I tell the group at the most recent meeting. He’s autistic, and he’s in the special-ed preschool class. His teacher is wonderful, and he’s made a lot of progress. She just told us we need to rewrite his IEP, because he’s mastered most of the goals in his current IEP.

I tell the group this, and it’s not like I’m expecting a fucking cookie, as my roommate used to say. But I am definitely not expecting the response I get, which is this:

Laughter. Followed by: “Well, enjoy it now, because that’s never going to happen again.” A couple of snorts. Taken aback, I look at the coordinator, who says, “You do know that this won’t happen again.” I don’t know if it’s a statement or a question. Her tone is gentle, her expression is compassionate, but she is speaking as if she needs to disabuse me, the Pollyanna in their midst, of the notion that my son’s progress in preschool means that life will be nothing but rainbows and fairy dust from now on.

“Oh, sure,” I laugh, because now I am on the spot, and I have to laugh it off. But I am hurt, really hurt. We move on to the next introduction.

The thing is, I know. No one has to tell me. I know things get hard, really hard. I know that parents hire advocates because they feel the system is failing their children and have knock-down, drag-out fights at IEP meetings. I think about junior high and about kids being cruel to my boy, and it terrifies me. I know Secondo will be autistic for the rest of his life, and I don't know what his future holds. I know that Secondo’s special-ed preschool class is a special little bubble, one in which in many ways, I don’t have to face reality. In this bubble I can concentrate on the good, and only on the good, if I so desire. I know. I know one of the reasons he’s mastered his goals is because they were so basic to begin with, and that things will become much more challenging. But I’d rather just be happy that he’s mastered these goals. Because if I really think hard about the fact that one of the original goals was to get him to respond to his name, it makes me want to cry.

But you know what? No matter how basic those goals were, I normally do find it easy to feel optimistic about things. Because the fact of the matter is, Secondo wasn’t responding to his name a few months ago. (Before he was evaluated, but after we’d shared our concerns with P’s parents, they came to visit and my father-in-law spent a great deal the visit yelling, “Secondo!!” and clapping his hands in Secondo’s face to get him to respond. I can’t even describe how stressed out I was, or the despair I felt right then.)

But he’s come a long, long way since then, and I’m prouder of him than I can say.

So, let me try my introduction again, here, on my blog. My son is three, his name is Secondo, and he’s autistic. He’s in a special-ed preschool class, and he’s doing great. His teacher suggested we rewrite his IEP soon, because he’s mastered most of his goals. They were basic goals, but they were things I couldn’t even imagine him doing only a few months ago.

Isn’t that awesome?

[And hey, if you want to leave a comment, at least you know what not to say.]

Friday, March 6, 2009

The iMix

Here it is. Some of it is music I think would get anyone's toes tapping. Some of it I like solely due to the fact that I was raised in a Latin American country in the eighties. (Hey, I could apologize for the early Luis Miguel or Franco de Vita ballads, but I included those songs because I know EVERY SINGLE WORD and I can really belt them out, while my children either watch me, wide-eyed, or dissolve into giggles.)

Enjoy, whether it brings back memories, or whether you're just looking for a few catchy songs with a Latin beat!

Copying and pasting code now...wish me luck.

[Edited to add: Have no idea what any of these songs are? Definitely skip my sentimental favorites, but you might want to check out the more contemporary stuff: Mi primer millón, Cha cha, Te mando flores, Mi bombón, La flaca, and the songs by Juanes. Juanes and Jarabe de Palo are just good bets, period.]

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Gigs

Given my, shall we say, lack of rigor when it comes to posting on my own blog, you might be surprised to hear I will be contributing to two new blogs. What can I say--I work well when I need to meet a deadline set by someone else. Also, they're Latina-oriented blogs, and I like them very much.

You can find my most recent post at Mi Cielito Lindo here, if you're interested. It's a short list of the catchy Latino music I listen to with my kids when I just can't take another minute of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "Los pollitos dicen." It's inspired me to create an iMix, which I'll post later if I can figure out how to do it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


We made it home, and everyone is healthy, happy, and sleeping through the night.

Our plane was delayed a couple of hours, so we missed our connection. Secondo and I were seated behind a nasty couple who complained to the flight attendant when Secondo had a dirty diaper right before takeoff (exact quote: "Gawd, don't you have an extra diaper? 'Cause your kid smells like CRAP."), and then again when Secondo kicked the seat in front of him a few times before I stopped him by putting up his tray table. I don't think I would have been so upset by the whole thing if it hadn't been for the fact that my kids were being SO GOOD. It was a long flight. Sigh.

We made it home at 2 a.m. I checked my messages to find out where I was supposed to be working that morning and found out it was a murder trial. I stopped by the cafeteria on my way upstairs, and one sip of the harsh, institutional coffee jolted me back to reality. I drank it anyway, to get rid of the throbbing headache, and at least it worked.

I expected to find the results of Primo's evaluation waiting for me when I got back. Instead, there was a ten-day-old message from the speech therapist on the answering machine asking me to call her so she could ask me a few more questions.

I put a huge dent in the driver's side of the car when I scraped past a barrier at a gas station on my way back from a birthday party on Saturday, which was both frustrating and really embarrassing because I was in the middle of telling my passenger all about how my driving KICKS ASS. P, to his credit, reacted by telling me in mock exasperation, "Don't you know all dents are supposed to be on the passenger's side?!" That side is, indeed, seriously dented. The most frustrating thing is that now guys in parking lots all over the DC metro area will probably not stop trying to get me to pay them to punch out the dents in my car.

Slowly getting back into the swing of things. More to come.