Life With A Side Of Autism

LIFE WITH A SIDE OF AUTISM

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Ghost Of Christmas Past

It's New Year's Eve, and while everyone else is looking forward, I'm looking back. You see, I lost my Mom ten years ago this Christmas night, and on New Year's eve, I watched as they put her in the ground. Ten long years that seem not so long right now.

Ten years that watched her toddler grandaughter turn into a willowy, beautiful pre-teen wearing stylish clothes on a body I didn't have until high school. Ten years that heralded in the birth of a grandson she would never have the joy of meeting, let alone the time to listen to me babble about the both of them. More than anything, I'm sorry she missed them both. Sorry for her, sorry for me, and sorry for them.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spangler Candy Company Is Made Of Pure Awesome

Of all the candy available on the market, my sons loves Dum-Dums to distraction. He doesn't care much for chocolate. Or peanutbutter. Or any combination of the two. He loves Skittles and Smarties and Ring Pops and Tootsie Pops. None of them can hold a candle to a sack of Dum-Dums, though.

So when I heard about the Spangler Candy company (makers of Dum-Dums) going above and beyond customer service for the mother of a boy with autism, it just made my day.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't Point Your Fingers In My Son's Direction - Regarding Autism And The Shootings In Connecticut

Like the rest of the nation, I spent Friday and the rest of the weekend heartbroken, sick, screaming from my soul for the lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut. I find it impossible to wrap my head around the scope of it. And as the reports ran ad nauseam and the faces marked by tragedy filled up the television screen, one news item had my full attention: they believe that the shooter had autism.

I heard the reporter on CNN bringing it up again and again, as though it might have been a contributing factor. "They mentioned he had no facial expression as he fired the gun," she said. "And we know autism is often characterized by a lack of empathy..."

I would tell you that I startled my daughter by shouting at the TV, but she was right next to me and shouting even louder than I was.

SHUT UP. Just shut the hell up.

What do you know? What do you really know about autism?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Love This Book So Very Much

If you've never read "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, you really, really should.


Monday, December 10, 2012

I Need To Get A Life...Just As Soon As I Figure Out What That Means

I was kid-free this weekend, since the kids were with their Dad. As usual, I did a huge amount of laundry and cleaning, and finally, I settled on the couch and loaded "The Avengers" into my Blu-Ray player. Up popped a message that read "This movie has been viewed previously. Resume play?"

I suppose I should be grateful that it didn't say:

This movie has been viewed entirely too many times and you need to get a life and/or a boyfriend. Stat.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Here We Go Again, And Again, And Again...

I've always said that I don't look at autism as a curse. That is true, and has become more so as David has grown and I have grown on this journey. To imagine David anything other than autistic is just impossible. His autism is a part of him, like his eye color or his hysterical sense of humor. It's intrinsically part of the essential David. I love him for it and through it.

And sometimes, I love him in spite of it.

Autism - and my learning of it - has opened doors that I couldn't even have imagined. It's changed the nature of how I communicate not just with my son, but with everyone. It's made me more patient. More kind. More open-minded. More fierce and determined.

And it's made me tired.

There's no denying that living with autism is a challenge some times. Maybe even a lot of the time. One of the hardest, most challenging aspects for me has been dealing with David's repetetive behaviors.

Take farting, for instance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Can One Small Animal Wreak Such Havoc With Her Nose?

You would never know it to look at my cat, but she has a superpower.

My cat has SNOT OF STEEL.


She sneezes, on average, about ninety-eight times a day, in groupings of eight to ten sneezes at a time. This is due to a virus she somehow got infected with, and according to the veterinarian is a lifelong chronic condition. There is a medicine that can be prescribed for it, but it will greatly diminish the quality of her life, reducing her to a foggy-brained, fat lump of cat. Or so he told me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When You're A Special-Needs Mom, Sometimes Love Is A Battlefield

I took my son to war over the weekend.

The battlefield was rife with tribulation. It was loud - blaringly so. Discordant sounds hit us from every direction, lights were flashing in our eyes and everywhere we could see. We were pushed and shoved and pummeled and by the end of the day we ached from our exertions. It was misery at times, but we made it through.

I made it through taking my autistic son to a holiday fair.




Friday, November 30, 2012

Stuff Autism Says (And Writes!)

David had to write an informational theme paper. Check out his subject!!


That boy would eat his weight in bacon every single day if I let him. It's no wonder it weighs heavily upon his mind through the school day. That's my boy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Dream Of The Day When It's OK To Wear Our Clothing More Than Once

In the news today (and yes, it must be a slow news day), Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge was seen parading about in (gasp!) the same dress that she wore a year ago.

My God.

The horror.

What is the monarchy coming to when royalty can parade about in such a fashion? And we're no better than that across the pond, here. Michelle Obama can frequently be seen wearing not only repeated fashions, but clothing bought at discount retailers. It's an outrage! It's a scandal! It's...it's....

It's refreshing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Know Of A Wondrous Land

I have a special place I go that feeds my soul like no place else.

While I'm there I can be anything, I can do anything - I am all things I know that I can be.

I dream amazing things there, too. Inventions, recipes, parenting strategies, professional advances. I see it all so clearly, all the things I can and should do. I'm brilliant there. I believe in myself. My future is now when I am there.

And nothing can stop me.

Nothing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2 Episode 9 Recap: Playin' With The Queen Of Hearts



We begin with a flashback to the Enchanted Forest of old, and a hooded figure is bringing food to a prisoner in a tower. Said figure turns out to be my favorite pirate captain, who breaks into the world's most elegantly decorated cell to rescue Belle.

Only he's lying - trying to get information from her about Rumplestiltskin's dagger. She has no idea what he's talking about so Hook promptly drops the facade and smacks her across the chops, Then he bares that hook and prepares to disembowel her, only to be thwarted by Regina.

Two notes I have to make here:

First....this is the only scene in the whole series so far featuring Hook that I seriously have a problem with. Watching Hook strike a helpless woman, much less try to outright murder one - it just feels...wrong. I realize Belle is a means to an end, but this scene has just never set right with me. Killian Jones, for all his pirating ways, has a code of honor so deeply ingrained it should be etched in his bones. Murdering a helpless girl - even if she's Rumpletstiltskin's girl - just doesn't mesh with Killian as we've come to know him.

My second note is another behind-the-scenes bit. This was the first scene Lana Parilla and Colin O'Donoghue filmed together, and they are both just spot on. What chemistry! So perfectly evil in two different ways and the way they dance around each other...it almost makes me want to ship them. Almost.



Anyway, back to the scene. Regina looks amazing in that sapphire blue gown, and she offers Hook a deal: if he goes to Wonderland and rips her mother's heart out, bringing the body back to her, she'll take him to Storybrooke with the curse. In a land without magic, he can kill Rumplestiltskin with ease.


Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 8 Recap: Hunka Hunka Burnin' Hook



We begin tonight with a wet and steamy Captain Hook, and I must say, I'd be okay with beginning every single episode this way. DAYum.




He and Cora have a wonderful scene, in which she castigates him for letting Emma get away with the compass, reminding him that "he chose her." I remember the first time I saw this episode. I knew that line was prophetic. Or maybe I just really wanted it to be prophetic. Anyway, Cora gives him hell and leaves him, quite literally in the dirt for his betrayal, determined to go on without him.

Cora returns to her vault, where we see her pull out a heart that somehow activates a bunch of other hearts around it, and she utters a command: rise.

We watch an army of zombies (the bodies of the village she slaughtered) rise up, presumably to go after Emma, Snow and the girls.


Monday, November 19, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 19: It Was Only A Dream, But I Carry It Still

Prompt: If you had to get locked in someplace overnight alone, where would you choose to be locked in?


Oh, the things that spring to mind with this topic!

Ryan Reynolds' shower stall? The best, biggest suite on a cruise ship? The candy department at Harrod's?

The list I could draw up boggles the mind. Each would be fun or interesting or em-fattening (yes, that's a word because I said it is) in it's own right. I think, though, I'd like to return to someplace I've already been.

My son's mind.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaBloPoMo # 18: Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Searing Pain, I Learned From A Lego

I went to the doctor once, when I badly sprained my wrist. As she carefully examined me, she asked "What's your pain level like?" I mused on that a moment and she added, "You know....on a scale of 'I'm drinking a glass of wine on the beach' to 'I just knelt on a Lego'".

Any parent reading this just instantly cringed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Hard To Be Merry In A Mall: 6 Things Everyone Working Retail Wishes You'd Remember

The holiday season is upon us once again, and as I watch the commercials on TV, wade through the decorations at the Mall, and watch store owners prepping to open earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day, I think the same thing I do every year:

Thank God I'm not in retail anymore.

I spent entirely too many years after college (thanks to that ever-employable Theatre degree) doing time in retail. I worked in clothing, shoes, lingerie, books and jewelry. I worked as a part-timer, seasonal help, full-timer, assistant manager, manager, and did five years as a district manager over a dozen stores in three different states. Throughout all that varied retail experience, I found one thing that just about all retail workers have in common:

They hate this time of year.

They love it when the commission check comes in (if they qualify for commission, that is - a lot of them don't), but during this holiday season when the milk of human kindness should be flowing and the holiday cheer should abound, you'll find very few gentlemen resting merry in the mall and the Christmas spirit is more like a shrieking poltergeist in the form of an angry woman denied a discount for lack of a coupon.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Smoke Gets In My Eyes (Or Maybe Just My Overactive Imagination)



A haunted house can chill the blood or bring a smirk to the face of any cynic. Me, I just take it all in stride. Oh, I don't have a haunted house. I'm just haunted all by myself.


It began nearly ten years ago, and at first, I thought I must be encountering it naturally. I'd be driving in my car, or walking in a shopping mall or cooking dinner in my house and there it would be: the smell of cigarettes.

I don't smoke. Never have. Neither does anyone in my house.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Stuff Of Nightmares

Do you want to know what kinds of things Autism Moms have nightmares about?

This kind of stuff.

One of the hellish things about being a parent to an especially vulnerable child is the fact that he won't always be able to communicate to me that he's been abused.

I feel sick to my stomach and I hope these guys get the strongest penalties allowed under law. I also hope they're never in a position to have someone they love be in an abusive situation that they cannot escape.

NaBloPoMo #15 Geddy, The Rockin'est Cat I Knew

Prompt: Tell us about your favorite pet.

I grew up a "dog" girl. My family only ever had dogs. My first memory is of a childhood chihauhua, then a lovable mutt that we had to give away when we moved back from England, then a daschund I adored, and finally the lovable, droopy, drooling half bloodhound/half basset hound that passed away when I was in college.

Then suddenly, three years into my collegiate career, a tiny little siamese kitty showed up on my boyfriend's doorstep one fall day. He was pressed against the brick near the door, probably seeking some warmth as it had just started getting chilly outside. We brought him in the apartment, fed him a piece of bologna, let  him walk around a bit and then shooed him outside.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving As A Single Mom Calls For Charlie Brown

It was 2010, and Thanksgiving was fast approaching. For the first time in all my life, I was going to be spending Thanksgiving alone.

Thanksgiving, once I became a married woman, was always about my husband's family. We didn't live anywhere near mine, so we always traveled on the holiday, catching up with his side of the family. I never did mind that - I adored my in-laws and still do.

When my husband left and we began the long, arduous process of going from "we" to "me", we agreed to split the holidays in an equitable fashion, but I insisted he keep Thanksgiving all to himself. The kids always loved to visit their aunts, uncles and cousins, and I wasn't going to take that away from them, particularly when it was only going to be the three of us and neither of my kids cared for turkey.

So I signed up with a temp service in town to work over black Friday weekend - it made some badly needed extra money for Christmas and it kept me from sitting around feeling sorry for myself. The holiday was looming, and the last thing I wanted to do was make my kids feel terrible that Mom was going to be all alone. Even if Mom did feel terrible. And believe me, I did.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaBloPoMo #13 Thanks, Mom And Dad

Prompt: What was the bravest thing you've ever done?

My parents were the original helicopter parents.

Not in the way that those parents are now, mind you. They weren't on the phone constantly to my teachers, they didn't make me participate in sports and then complain over every team roster and personal foul. They were what we used to call "sheltering" or "overprotective".

Those terms sound really ludicrous to me as a parent now. Part of me wants to scream that you can never, not ever, protect your children too much. But the girl who grew up with those parents knows that my job as a parent is to equip my children as much as possible to be able to live - and thrive - in a world without me in it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaBloPoMo#12 Why Yes, I Blog In My Car. Doesn't Everybody?

Prompt: Where is your favorite place to blog?

I'm blogging in my car
Turn on the radio
I pull a thought closer
It just says no
I say that I don't like it
But I know I'm a liar
'Cause when I drive
Ooooh-oooh fi-re...

You heard me. I blog in the car.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaBloPoMo #11: Unplanned



He was as planned as planned could be. As a child of assisted fertility, every phase of his conception was watched closely, scheduled down to the minute. When he divided into eight cells, I got to see him under an electron microscope, my eyes wide with wonder as I realized I could tell him about this someday.


Since he was going to be a second c-section for me, I got to plan the date of his birth. We chose Veteran's Day, because it was a holiday for my husband and he wouldn't have to use vacation time. That morning, we headed to the hospital, reading magazines and whiling away the time. They ended up getting backed up by an emergency, and it was noon before they took me in to the operating room. Soon I heard an angry wail, and a warm little bundle was laying on my chest. I stared into his deep, brown eyes and marveled at his ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. He popped into the world just as planned, where he'd be welcomed by his adorable big sister, just as planned. He'd have a wonderful life where he'd be a football star or a doctor or a teacher or world class snowboarder, just as planned.

That's what you get for trying to plan something like life, I guess.


Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 7 Recap: Hungry Like The Wolf



We begin in the mines with the magnificent seven where Grumpy has just busted through a wall with sheer grump-power and found a vein of magical diamonds that can be ground into fairy dust, putting David one step closer to getting to Snow and Emma via Jefferson's battered hat.

They all decide to celebrate over beers down at Granny's, and we see a really sweet interaction between Ruby and Billy (a.k.a. "Gus," a nod to my favorite mouse from Cinderella, "Gus Gus"). Billy asks Ruby out but she has to decline. Tonight is the first full moon since the curse broke and she can't be out and about. Granny has welded her a cage in the deep freezer, and despite David's protestation that she's harmless and he knows it, she locks herself inside.

David heads back out to finish his beer and into his booth slides King George - who is now the town DA, and he lets David know in ringing tones that he's challenging his authority. David isn't even sweating, giving as good as he gets. Which only pisses George off more, the steely-eyed bastard. Ooooh, what a good, shivering feeling.




Saturday, November 10, 2012

When You're Taking A Picture Of Cat Poo, You Know You've Gone Too Far



Ah, the weekend. I can sleep somewhat later (why is it my kids can't wake up on weekdays, but the slightest touch of sunlight to their eyelids on a weekend, and they're ready to bounce off the walls?) and everything's a bit more relaxed. I headed downstairs this morning only to be greeted halfway down the stairwell by a tell-tale stench.


Friday, November 9, 2012

NaBloPoMo#9: How In The World Do You Pick Just One?

Prompt: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

One thing. Just one. I need to pick one thing to change out of the entire novel-length ledger book of stuff I long to change:
I'm in the middle of a divorce that's been dragging it's heels entirely too long. I want it to be over. Just over.
I have a special needs child and a daughter hitting puberty. Either/or can make my life chaotic as hell most days. I love my kids fiercely, but it's hard dealing with this alone.
There's that word again. Alone. I'm lonely. I don't want to be lonely anymore.

KarmaCornDog Is Back Up (Albeit A Bit Revised)

 See the info post here!!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaBloPoMo #8: Art And Architecture Can't Hold A Candle To The People That Created Them

Prompt: If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

I missed my calling. I may have studied Theatre, worked jobs in all walks of consumer and corporate America, fancy myself a writer and blog my heart out, but what I really am deep down inside is a cultural anthropologist. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaBloPoMo #7: The Empirical Use Of The Word "Were"

God Bless Facebook. It opened up all kinds of doors into my past, reuniting me with friends from high school and college and all my past jobs. It helps me keep tabs on family that lives far away and gives me a place to post all kinds of goofy pictures of my kids and my cats.

Unfortunately, there's a flip side to all that fun. People keep digging up old memories, or worse, old pictures and sharing them. Not that I have a problem with most of the old ones - I was younger and thinner then. It's just odd seeing myself back in my physical prime and realize how far away that seems (and feels!) from here in middle age.

I was paging through some old photos that an old castmate from a show I performed in had kindly posted, when my daughter came up behind me.

"Oh my God, Mom. Is that - is that...you?" She said, in pure astonishment.


NaBloPoMo #6:If you were President of the United States, what would be your first act in office?

My mind immediately jumped to the obvious things on this writing prompt. I would abolish the electoral college! I would institute a flat tax rate for everyone! I would push harder for a working system of universal healthcare! I would subsidize colleges and universities! I would legalize gay marriage across the board! I would double the pay of our soldiers while performing combat duties and expand services to our veterans! I'd do it all and a million other great things.

Except, that's not how government works.

Yes! Exactly!!

Election Ads

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaBloPoMo #5: Across The The Great Divide

My Facebook news feed has become all but unreadable these days, and I find myself grateful that this is almost over. Somebody, new or seasoned, will be voted into office tomorrow (oh, please God, let them be voted into office tomorrow without a voter turned away or a chad hanging anywhere). It'll take a week or so for the furor to die down after, of course, and then I can go back to seeing pictures of my friends' kids and animals and hearing about the great place they went for dinner.

Till then, I navigate the narrow gorge between my old life and my current life.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 6 Recap: "You Never Forget Your First"



We get a teaser of an opening tonight, reminding us of not only what happened last week, but a conversation held long ago between Regina and Emma.

"Your longest stint anywhere was two years. What did you enjoy so much about Tallhassee?" Regina asks.

And if you're seeing that line on a second (or seventy-eighth) viewing, it hits you right in the feels because you know what Emma was hanging around for.

Damn. Got a lump in my throat.

So....on to the episode. And I'm going to begin by telling you that this very episode marks the beginning of my obsession with this show. I hadn't ever watched it before, and happened upon it one bored evening, saw this episode, and it was all over for me.

Not only did they have a man who made my ovaries pop like popcorn, the premise was intriguing as hell, the dialogue was snappy and heartfelt, and I had to have more. More. MOAR!!!



And now I'm four seasons in, knee-deep in fanfics and recaps and holy cow, I still love this damn show. It might frustrate occasionally, but I still love it. Now back to our recap.

NaBloPoMo #4: What's So Bad About Being A "Career Politician"?

Oh, how I hate election time. I wish they'd limit campaigning to six weeks of duration, because that's about all I can stomach. And by this stage of the game, it's all degenerated into mudslinging, finger pointing and middle-school era name calling. I hate it all.

I was flipping around the radio dial looking for a traffic report on the way home from work yesterday, and heard no less than three commercials from politicians who claimed: "I'm not a 'career politician', like the other guy..."

Huh?


Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaBloPoMo #3: There's No Easy Way To Write About Something So Ugly

Before I begin this post, let me share with you the video that got my head (and stomach) churning. This is Jai Cunningham, a morning news anchor at station KHON2 in Hawaii. He shared with his viewers a very personal story on October 31st, and made them a promise:

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaBloPoMo #2: If You Could Live Anywhere, Where Would You Live?

I should have been born on a ship at sea. Or maybe in a hammock on the sand. Not that I'd wish that kind of birth on my mother, mind you. I've just always felt I was destined for the island life. I tell my kids I'm going to take them to an island someday, just the three of us. We'll swim with dolphins and wear flowers in our hair and drink coconut milk and eat crazy, unpronounceable fruit.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaBloPoMo #1: My Favorite Quotation

It's so hard to find just one perfect quote, isn't it? It all really depends on where you are in your life at that moment, don't you think? I could easily tell you that pretty much anything George Carlin had to say sums up my point of view. Add to that list a lot of Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain, Erma Bombeck and Seth McFarlane and I could just take a bow and call myself done.

See? Easy.

I do have one quotation that's carried me through for awhile now, and I'm sure it will continue to do so. It comes from an amazing source - my son. My beautiful son, who happens to have autism.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Five Things I HATE About The Stand (the movie, not the book)

I was lucky enough to have power during Frankenstormicane Sandy (other than a couple of blips), but it was raining a monsoon with 50mph winds so I was housebound for quite a stretch there. I decided to re-watch "The Stand" on Netflix, since I'm re-reading it for about the bazillionth time (I got the extended edition on my Kindle - if you haven't read it, you really should).

I realize this was originally a mini-series, which puts it in an entirely different realm than a major motion picture, but overall, I like it. I just wish they'd go back and re-make it, changing a few things. Before I get to those, let me tell you what I wouldn't change:


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Great Post-Sandy Update

Just a quick shout out to let all of you know that we came through the storm just fine. The power blipped a couple of times but stayed on, the rain is spotty now (my backyard is a lake, though!) and it's still pretty windy. We're snug and warm after our family room campout last night.

Hope all of you in Sandy's path are safe as well!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 5 - A Last And First Meeting



Tonight we rejoin Mulan and company only to find their previous camp in shambles with dead bodies everywhere - all of whom have had their hearts ripped out, courtesy of Cora.

Emma finds someone under a pile of rubble, and we see that ungodly handsome face again...hellooooo Captain Hook! Even filthy and bedraggled, he's eye-candy. And look at him, all cowardly and pathetic and cute. Awwww.

How blue can one man's eyes be? Honestly?

Meanwhile, in Storybrook, Dr. Whale tells David they need to talk and David responds by popping him in the face for sleeping with his wife. Whale wants to know if the rumors are true - portals can possibly be opened and the other realms may still exist. David confirms and Whale answers with "All the lands?"

Hmmmm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Need A Disposable House

I have finally figured out how I'm going to make my millions. I am going to invent a disposable house. Maybe not the structure, mind you - just most of the stuff in it.

I want carpets I can peel up and throw away after they get riddled with dropped yogurt, spilled juice, magic marker and cat barf.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Mom. I'm Not Allowed To Be Sad

I've been having a rough week. There's been a big convergence of stuff going on, mostly financial, and mostly really serious. On top of that, I'm battling a minor health issue that's dragging me down, and I'm feeling more than a bit overwhelmed by it all. I desperately need to crawl into bed and have a really good cry.

I can't, though.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just A Little Info About My Other Blog

For those of you who follow my weight loss blog, KarmaCorndog.com, you've probably noticed that it's down right now.

There was a bit of a snafu with an old credit card number when it came time to re-register the domain, and when I went in to correct, I got locked out somehow. I'm working with Google and my domain registrant on the problem and should have it back up and running again shortly.

Sorry for the drama. I promise, I'll stay fat till I can blog about how fat I am again.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Name Is Ellie, And I Have A Problem

There comes a time in your life when you have to face the truth about yourself. This weekend, I had to do just that.

I am a mail-hoarder.

You heard me. A mail hoarder (which is quite different from a Male Hoarder, which doesn't sound like a bad deal at all).

I was deep-cleaning my house, purging rooms of unwanted stuffage, when I realized I have bags and bags (literally!) of mail. It was frightening in it's proportions, believe me.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 4: Pirates Ahoy! (Oh Mercy, Mercy Me...)



We open this episode with Rumple giving Belle a beautiful necklace. She thanks him for changing for her. Then Leroy comes into the store demanding his axe and questions how Belle could be with such a monster. Rumple goes nuts and chokes the hell out of Leroy and we discover it's all just a movie clich̩ dream РBelle's to be specific.

She sneaks down to Rumple's basement lair and finds him with his Star Wars action figurines spinning gold and using it for a magic potion.

Flashback to old Rumple back in the Enchanted Forest before he turned scaly, and he's home to find Baelfire all alone. He heads to the local tavern and discovers Milah with an ungodly handsome man who puts every other man at the table to shame. She's laughing and gambling and obviously having the time of her life, and when Rumple pitifully asks her to come home, she mercilessly mocks him for being the village coward. I hate her instantly. When she sees Bae hanging on his father's coat, she leaves, and yup...I hate her more. Poor kid.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Day I Was Dreading Is A Very Good Day Indeed

We had David's IEP meeting today. For those of you with neurotypical kids, an IEP is an education program that spells out exactly what David will be getting in school in the way of supportive services. This year, he'll still receive speech therapy, occupational therapy, and daily time with a learning support specialist, just like all his previous school years. There was one big difference to the plan this year, though.

They recommended that David's personal aide be "phased out".

When I read the first draft of the IEP, I have to admit I hyperventilated a bit. Taking his aide away! They can't do that! He only has her half a day as it is, and she's there to redirect him and keep him on task, because like most children on the autism spectrum, David's attention isn't always where it should be.

Taking his aide away. Taking. His aide. Away.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Double Cheezits: Just One Of The Many Unforgiveable Mom Sins That Can Be Laid At My Feet

I was in a bit of a rush this morning. For whatever reason, the alarm didn't go off like it should (or maybe it did and my hand hit the snooze independently of my brain, I'm not sure) and we were running late. Add to that the stress of a semi-annual dental appointment for the kids and me forgetting it was trash day and the trucks could show up any minute, and we were in a bit of a whirl.

I was getting ready to pack my son's lunch, reaching automatically for the small, plastic snack container he keeps in his backpack so I could stock that, too, while I was at it.

That's when it happened. That's when I completely lost my mind.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stuff Autism Says: In The Shower

The scene:  David is taking his evening shower. He calls out for me, and I open the sliding door to find him - staring straight down.

Me: What do you need, sweetie?

David: Mom, I don't want to be tiny down there.

(I am completely taken aback. What. The. Heck.)

Me: Uh, what did you say?

David: I don't want to be tiny down there. Don't make me be tiny!

(I somehow resist the urge to make a snarky remark about genetics and my ex-husband, and instead opt for the best way to get to the source of this.)

Me: Why are you saying that, sweetie?

David: Because you might shoot me with the shrink-ray and make me tiny and I will go down the drain. Like in that movie.

As usual, I got tossed from the raft into the rapids of David's stream-of-consciousness!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Welcome To Autism, It's Not Always Fair

When my husband left and I realized I had to go it alone in this parenting thing, I made a vow that my kids and I would have fun together, as much as possible. We'd go on outings, we'd take hikes, have movie nights, I'd ignore the dishes and step over the laundry and just go enjoy my kids' childhood as much as possible.

Those are nice dreams, aren't they? And for the most part, we do that. Being a single Mom is hard on the finances, so many of our planned-for outings have been scaled back a bit. We've had to learn to substitute creativity for cash, but it comes out pretty good. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2, Episode 3: BadAssery All Around

Ooooooh! Leviathan.

This evening, we begin with what looks like a war council, and Snow, Charming and Red are trying to decide what to do about King George. He has a new general who seems to be nigh unstoppable and goes by the shiver-enducing moniker of Leviathan. Oooooh.

They get attacked by George's army, and Charming sends Snow to safety at his mother's house (or so he thinks) only to have her run smack into....you guessed it! Leviathan. She whispers his name in awe and he yanks off his helmet, thoroughly irritated.

"Leviathan?" he says. "That's what they're calling me? It's Lancelot!"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Waiting For The Work Around - And The Day That Autism Is 'No Big Deal'

I came across this story today about David Finch, a man who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 31. The diagnosis came at a pivotal time in David's marriage, and may very well have saved the relationship.

Asberger Syndrome, as you may know, is considered to be an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like many of the other autism-related behaviors on the spectrum, people with Asperger Syndrome have difficulty reading social cues, peer empathy and communicating in a social setting. They often have repetitive behaviors and tend to hyper-focus on things that interest them. The thing that sets an Asperger's diagnosis apart from the rest of the spectrum is their linguistic ability, which is often more advanced than their peers.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dreamworks Studios Helping To Fund Movie Industry's Vocational School For Students With Autism

Exceptional Minds is a school and working studio within the movie industry for young adults on the autism spectrum. This week, Dreamworks Studios made a significant donation to the program.

“We were incredibly impressed with the passion and work of the students at Exceptional Minds and continue to be inspired by the work they are doing," comments Dina Strada, the Manager of Events and Communications for DreamWorks.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Welcome To Blogville, Population: Blah

It's time for me to blog again, so here I go.

Bloggity, bloggity, blog, blog, blog.

Bleh.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Once Upon A Time - Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: Dual Identities, Dual Worlds



We begin tonight's episode at the town line with the dwarves, who spray paint the border to test out whether or not they can cross the line without anything bad happening. They draw straws and poor Sneezy loses. He steps over the town line and promptly forgets everything but his cursed memories.

Meanwhile, the center of town looks like a war zone. When the curse broke, it apparently came through like a tornado, overturning cars and creating all kinds of chaos. We pan through town and see they've set up a disaster center of sorts, trying to reunite families.


On the other side of town, David shows up at Regina's house, and he wants information about Jefferson's hat. He lets her know that he knows that her magic is iffy, so she'd better work with him because she's only alive because Henry wants her that way. He also expresses his misgivings about her as a mother and Regina sasses back:

"Forgive me if I won't listen to a childcare lecture from a man who put his daughter in a box and shipped her to Maine."

God, I love sassy Regina. She lets David know that he's treading on thin ice.

"I don't have magic and I don't have my son. When I get one, I get the other," she warns.
"If you have to use magic to get him, you don't really have him," David retorts.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The No-Good, Very Bad, Terrible, Awful Day

I was having a bad day last week, and it showed. I was wandering around the house after work, morose and uncommunicative as I put dinner together for the kids. Anna headed off to cheerleading practice and David and I settled in to work on his homework.

"Mom, are you happy with me?" He asked, as I spread the papers out on the table.

I was taken aback. Was my bad mood that apparent? How awful.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

After An Unthinkable Tragedy: Learning About Grace and Forgiveness From My Amish Neighbors



On October 2, 2006, we experienced a local tragedy that was just monstrous in its proportions. The West Nickel Mines tragedy rocked not just a tiny Amish community, but the nation as well.

On that morning, a man walked into an Amish schoolhouse in West Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, PA, taking ten young girls hostage. He shot them all execution-style, killing five and seriously wounding the others before he turned the gun on himself and ended his own life.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Once Upon A Time Season - 2 Episode 1 Recap: Morning Breath Does Not Stand In The Face Of True Love's Kiss



We open our new season with a song that quickly wormed it's way into my brain and took root and now will be forever associated with this show: "Charlie's Girl" by Lou Reed. I'll even confess that I have it as a ringtone. And my alarm. But I always have put cinnamon in my cocoa. Cut me and I bleed fairy dust, I swear. Anyway, as the song plays, we see an as-yet unknown guy who, this being Once Upon A Time, is far from hard on the eyes.

This poor schmuck gets caught in a rainstorm, then drops his iPod out a window that won't close. The only clue we have as to who he may be is a sign on the wall advertising a hatter. And since we've already met the Mad Hatter, we're left to wonder if he isn't an associate from Wonderland or something. (And I must say that's a carefully placed Red Herring, writers. Well done!)

The man stares thoughtfully out the window, and as the song winds down he's visited by a pigeon bearing a postcard from Storybrooke. It carries one word:




Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smart Moms Know That Asking Why Leads To Adventure

Yesterday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and headed downstairs to prep breakfast, pack lunch, and sign off on homework papers before heading back up to wake the kids for the day. As I was carrying my son's backpack to the kitchen table in order to rummage through it, something caught my eye.

There was a plate under the table.

On the plate was a semi-melted pat of butter. With a Lego in it. It looked like the cat had taken a few licks, but otherwise it was intact.

Why????

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ladies, Can We PLEASE Stop Feeding The Drama Llamas?

I am in the middle of a swirling pool of drama. And I hate it. Hate. It. I can barely see to type this for all the hate burning out of my eyes. You have no idea.

And this is the worst kind of drama of all - unnecessary drama, created by someone other than me but it's landed on me now and I have to "fix" what I didn't ask for or perpetuate or even remotely instigate.

The why's and wherefore's aren't much, really. Just a misconstrued comment made to one friend that got passed on to another friend, who decided it was about her and now we're all upset.

It's all so very middle school.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Love And Loss And All That Lies Between

I had a bad moment last week.

They don't happen as often anymore, now that he's been gone awhile. It's been over two years since he last walked out the door, climbed up into his fully-packed pickup truck with the kids (who were going for their first Daddy overnight) and backed out of the driveway.

I stood in the doorway, waving hard with a big smile on my face for the kids.

See kids! It's OK! It's all going to be OK!

But it wasn't OK. And as I walked through my house with the big empty spot where the couch in the family room used to be and the weird marks on the rug where the end tables used to stand, I knew it would be a long time before it was OK again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Believe It Or Not, I'm Occasionally Grateful For My Son's Autism

When I get home from work every day, I make a point to ask my kids about their day. Anna rattles on about her friends and the goofy boys on the bus, but David's a little bit harder to get information from. He usually answers with a monosyllabic word or a shrug, so I try to engage him by asking specific questions. I'll ask if they read a book in class, and if so, what book it was. I'll ask what the "special" for the day was (they rotate things like gym, music and art), or I'll ask him who he played with at recess.

That last one is important to me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Know You Think I'm Terribly Smart, But Really, There's Nothing Useful In My Head

My brain is a vault of useless knowledge.

I blame many things for this. First, I was born with an unbelievable amount of curiousity and an overwhelming love for the dramatic. Not a good combination, as it leads you to discover everything you can about things people don't bother with, and then treat each morsel of information like it's a burning news bulletin that must be shared with the world.

Did you know that Ernest Hemingway kept cats that were polydactyl? Or that it's illegal to own eagle feathers unless you're a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe? No? But isn't it terribly exciting???

OK, maybe not so much.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Got The Homework Blues

It's Friday, and you can't know how glad I am about that. Not only is the workweek ending, but as of yet, neither of my kids get homework over the weekends.

Thank God.

This school year has been a real challenge, and we're not even a month into it here. David is in 3rd grade now, and here they follow the "Everyday Mathematics" program. In 3rd grade, they begin a new "spiral" of learning - that means they're out basics and skill drills and into putting it all together in more complex manners.

Ohhhhhhhhhh no.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Australian Scientists Have Developed A Genetic Test For Autism

News broke yesterday of a new genetic test that can identify potential risk for autism. Researchers managed to identify 237 genetic markers in 146 genes that either contribute to or protect an individual from developing autism.

The risk markers increase the score on the genetic test, while the protective markers decrease the score. The higher the overall score, the higher the individual risk for autism.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'm Not A Tiger Mom, But I Firmly Believe In Teaching My Kids To PRRRR

There's a wonderful old saying: "Looking after kids is like trying to herd cats."

As a cat owner and parent, I cannot help but agree.

Raising kids is an adventure. It's enriching and amazing and rewarding and a thousand other empowering adjectives. It's also frequently exhausting, occasionally irritating, and overwhelmingly under-appreciated. We all know that. What we all don't seem to know is the "right" way to do it.

We've got free-range Moms and feminist Moms and conservative Moms and Tiger Moms and lesbian Moms and Dads who are Moms. We've got single Moms, married Moms, divorced Moms and other people who've taken on the role when someone else didn't step up to the plate. And all of us, every single one of us, is worried that we're not doing it right.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

I think that song, more than any other, captures the feeling of that day. The fear, the anger, the tears - the strangers reaching across to take someone's hand.

It was my first day at a new corporate job, and we were all gathered, transfixed around a small TV that had been wheeled into a conference room. With every blast of fire, every body hitting the ground, every piece of building crashing to the ground, hands reached out, arms went around shoulders, and we all moved closer, united in our grief and our helpless rage. No one questioned when we all left work early to be with our families. No one talked about sales quotas or meetings or work that had to be done. We all did what we had to do and left to go home and hold the ones we loved.

Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11 And The Field Of Dreams




We lay cuddling in my bed, our nightly ritual after bathing, putting on jammies, reading and discussing the school day. I’d put her brother to bed a few minutes before her, then we snuggled in under the big comforter and she picked a subject for us to discuss – another ritual. The sky is the limit, and the only caveat is time: ten minutes to be exact. Then I put her into bed with a kiss and an ‘I love you’ and a promise to meet up with her in my dreams that night.

The night before we’d decided to meet in Egypt, to see the pyramids together. I hadn’t yet received the dream destination for the evening, but I knew she’d get around to picking someplace.

"So what’s the subject, Boo?" I asked, brightly, as I pulled her close.

"Holidays,” she said. “Like Labor Day or Thanksgiving. Why don’t we have the day off to celebrate 9/11?"

I stared at her, at a loss for a moment. Once again, I have to wrap my head around something enormous and make it understood in a way she'd understand. You’d think it gets easier as she gets older, but it doesn’t really. She understands more now, and it’s a fine line between giving her the answers she’s looking for and information overload.

"Sweetie, we don’t celebrate 9/11. It’s not really a 'celebration' kind of day."

"Oh, I meant the other word. You know…starts with a “C” and it means remember," she said.

"Commemorate?"

"Yeah, commemorate. A girl in my class is going with her parents to some field to commemorate. She’s missing school that day. We should all be off that day."

"Oh," I said, with realization dawning, "she’s going to Shanksville."

We live about 3 hours from the crash sight of United Flight 93, a lonely field outside of Shanksville, PA.

“So what was important about a field?" she asked me.  "Didn’t 9-11 happen in New York? And to Stephanie at the Pentagon?”

Stephanie is her cousin, and she was working at the Pentagon on 9-11. She survived, physically unharmed but mentally trying to make sense of what she lived through, as we all are. So I explain the story of United flight 93, how brave the passengers were in the face of a nearly certain death, how they fought with everything they had, how many countless lives they saved by forcing an airplane into the dirt instead of into a building. How proud their families and we as a nation are of them, and of everyone who showed bravery in overwhelming adversity that day.

She asked for more stories, so I told her about her Aunt, an EMT in nearby Virginia, and the work her unit did to help after the Pentagon attack. We talk about how the firefighters and policemen ran into the burning buildings in New York, when everyone else was running out. I told her about the two men who carried the wheelchair-bound woman down 80 flights of stairs to safety. She asked again for more stories, and I told her there were probably hundreds. We decided to look them up online, and read some more.

Then she smiled and said "You know what would be cool, Mom? If someone on Flight 93 had found a four-leaf clover, and all of the sudden a bunch of parachutes appeared for them!"

I hugged her and said "Yeah, that would have been great. It didn’t happen that way, though."

Finally, she snuggled in with her back to me and I stroked her hair. I got ready to tell her something wonderful about her – something I always do before bed – praising her abilities or her good heart or her smarts. I want her to end her day with something good, always. I opened my mouth, and the words just poured out.

"Oh, Boo…it was an awful, awful day. So many people died, there was so much chaos….and the news – the news kept playing all night. There weren’t any other programs on TV, just pictures and video of people dying over and over and over again. I just kept holding you tight and hoping…praying….and thinking of your Aunt Sue. I kept praying Please God, don’t let it be her child. 

"And I knew that day that all over America, thousands of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, daughters and sons and siblings and friends were praying that same prayer and they wouldn’t get the answer they wanted.

"Most of all I wondered what kind of a world my child would grow up in – a world where people could do something like this. I know, people do horrible things to other people all over the world every day, but we all felt it would never happen to us, and it did. It did, and everything changed and all I could do was hold you and hold you and promise that I’ll put myself between you and danger any way I can, for as long as you need me to. I promise, Boo. Always."

She rolled over in my arms, hugging me tightly. "When bad stuff happens, you just have to be one of the brave ones. That’s what I’d do."

 In that moment, I realized why I clung to her so tightly that day. It wasn’t just that she was my only child at the time, and a baby, at that. It wasn’t fear for my life, her life, or the lives of my loved ones. It was what she represented in those hours.

Hope.

And as the years go by and we take the lessons of that day and teach them over and over again, we raise a generation of children who will do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, because they will be the brave ones, just as many were before them.

I laid her in her bed, kissing her again, and she said sleepily, "Mom, I think we should go to that field tonight, in our dreams. Maybe we can tell them all thank you."

"I’ll see you there," I said, as I pulled the covers up.

"Mom?"

"Yes?"

"Bring flowers."

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Catastrophe Of Almost School Picture Day

Last night, I was reminded by my darling daughter that school pictures would be taken today and she had (gasp!) nothing to wear.

Nothing. To. Wear.

OhmyGodMom!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nights With Frog And Toad...And David!

My David is reading a chapter book. We're going to do one chapter a night. And I have to type it again because it's still so hard to believe:

My David is reading a chapter book.
Reading.
A chapter book.

The world is made of awesome.

It's this one, by the way.

He's still not totally digging on the reading thing, but he's so proud of himself when we're all done. Like he can't believe himself that he did it.

Well, of course he did it. He's David, and he frequently does what we all think is too tough for him to do.

I look forward to more evenings with my old pals, Frog and Toad, and high-fives with the boy who brings them to life.

The boy who brings me to life, as well.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yes, Absolutely - I Always Answer My Pre-Teen Daughter's Sex Questions

I was at a neighborhood cookout over the weekend, and ended up in the kitchen with a bunch of Moms. We all had kids in the pre-teen and under range, and as Moms are wont to do, we were swapping stories and laughing at our kids and ourselves.

Sooner or later, the talk turned to how quickly they all grow up. One of the mothers, who I know to be fairly liberal and open-minded, told us how shocked she was when her twelve year old daughter asked her about a certain sex act. "Oh my God!" One of the other mothers said, "What did you tell her?" My friend the open-minded Mom replied "I told her she shouldn't be asking about that stuff."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stuff Autism Says

David: Mom, I want to go to eat at Chinese.

Me: Chinese food? At the Chinese restaurant by Wal-Mart?

David: Yes.

Me: But you don't like Chinese food. What would you eat?

David: I would eat chinese. Like Mulan.

Me: Mulan eats chicken. And vegetables.

David: And pizza.

Me: No, Mulan doesn't eat pizza. They didn't have pizza then.

David: We will buy her some pizza and she can share.

Me: Oh, so Mulan is coming with us now?

David: No. [exaggerated head shake]  Mulan is a cartoooon.

Silly Mommy. Whatever are you talking about?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Making A Conscious Effort Not To Put My Daughter Second

I have always said that as hard as it is being an Autism Mom, it's got to be harder being an autism sibling. Anna bears this all with a lot of grace, and I do my best to carve out time for just the two of us wherever I can and recognize her accomplishments (which are numerous, believe me) wherever and whenever I can.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Your Kid Pretends To Be Smoking, I Think It Should Bother You A Little. Or A Lot.

As a single Mom, I don't get a lot of time for television. I will confess to a serious obsession with Lifetime's Dance Moms, which has become a bonding experience with me and my pre-teen daughter. We both have our favorites and root for them wildly (go Nia!).

My daughter has a favorite show on TLC that I just can't share her excitement for, though. She loves "Toddler & Tiaras". I'll catch a snippet every so often as I'm cleaning up or walking by with a load of laundry, but I can't laugh so much at the antics of these kids and their mothers (oh, especially their mothers) the way that she can. I think pageants can probably be fun, if they're done for fun. The problem with these moms is, most of them aren't there for fun. They want to win - through their daughters, of course - and they'll do whatever it takes, whether that's feeding them pixie sticks and Mountain Dew, dressing them like a streetwalker, or letting them pretend to smoke a cigarette on stage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Writing A Want Ad For What I Really Need

Monday, August 27, 2012

All My Hopes Are Riding On A Big Yellow Bus

They got aboard the school bus this morning.

With a new backpack for him, and a zippered binder for her because middle school kids wouldn't be caught dead with a backpack, or so I'm told.

Once, I laid her clothes out with care, picking just the right outfit for today. Now she does this, and it takes several hours and changes of clothes to get it just right. When she climbed aboard the bus to kindergarten all those years ago, I dressed her in an adorable matching pink top and skirt with darker pink hearts in a harlequin pattern. She would be utterly humiliated by the wearing of something like that now.

And once, I sat in a room with a table full of therapists who all told me that it might be possible for my son to mainstream into kindergarten with the rest of his friends from the neighborhood. I was elated, but terrified. He'd been insulated in his own special learning bubble at the Intermediate Unit. Public school with kids who don't think like he does or respond like he does seemed like a recipe for disaster somehow.

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Video Made Me Happy, Until It Made Me Sad

This is an awesome video about an amazing guy with autism and his equally terrific aide. Meet Anthony, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear Teacher: Please Don't Fall In Love With My Kid (But Of Course, I Want You To Fall In Love With My Kid)

Tonight was "Back To School" night at the elementary school, where David will be very shortly starting third grade. His teacher is sort-of new, having served as a long-term substitute for years there covering various maternity leaves before being hired on permanently. She was everything I like in a teacher: warm, funny, enthusiastic. She was lovely.

And she's already crazy in love with my son.


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dreaded "Someday" Conversation I Finally Had With My Daughter

It was our last day of vacation, and the kids and I were walking back from an excellent pancake breakfast at a diner down the road from the beach house we were staying at. David was walking a bit ahead, and doing one of his favorite things: looking in the windows of parked cars. It mortifies Anna, and I've tried to discourage it myself because it's only going to get him in trouble someday.

The problem is that he has a serious fascination with gearshifts. Floor mounted, steering wheel mounted, he doesn't care. He loves them all and talks about them endlessly. I joked to Anna, as we walked along, that if I could just get him a job testing gearshifts someday, he'd be set for life.

"What do you think he'll be doing, when he's older? Really?" She asked.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Balancing Act: When Do The Scales Tilt To Preferential Treatment?

Today was our last day of beach vacation, and everything was going great. I had packed everything up, cleaned up our rented house, and we were moments away from heading back to the water for a final day in the sun and the waves.

David was especially excited. Just yesterday, he finally - finally! - pushed past the breakers by the shore, out to the deeper and somewhat calmer water and swam and swam and swam, riding the swells and diving under the occasional larger waves when they came. He was so proud of himself, and I was, too. We were high-fiving and he was jumping and diving like a fish. It was wonderful. He loves to swim, but he's always been to afraid of the waves to do much more than splash by the shore. It was a real milestone moment.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sometimes, Single Motherhood Is Just A Giant Pain In The Arse

Most of the time, I'm handling the single mother thing OK. Honestly, it's been easier in some ways. The kids and I have found our own groove about things like free time and recreational activities, and the fact that they're with their Dad every other weekend gives me plenty of free time to do stuff that they would normally get in the way of - cleaning, writing, seeing a movie I want to see - stuff like that.

Yesterday, though, I was missing my husband. A LOT.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Evening With The Autism Mom's Brain

OK, so here we are at the boardwalk. Get out of the car, David.

David! No! Don't throw the door open so wide! Crap. Did he hit that other car? He hit it, I know he did.

Whew. It's OK.

David, remember I told you we open carefully? Care-ful-ly. Carefully, David, OK? OK. Now let's walk you guys!


Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Not Quite Toes In The Sand, But It'll Do

I have a vacation tradition that began the year my husband walked out the door. We didn't have much money that year, but we did have a relative who lived half an hour from the beach who offered us a king-sized bed to crash in for a long weekend.

It was an emotional weekend to be sure - the first "vacation" without Daddy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Son Will NOT Be "One Of Those Kids"



I was driving to work today, thinking about how fast this summer has flown by. Today is the kids' last day of summer camp, and we leave for vacation tomorrow. After a week with me and a week with their Dad, they're back to school. Where the heck did the summer go?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Life Can Get A Little Frustrating When They Can't Tell You Why

I  got back from the BlogHer 2012 conference late Saturday night, loaded down with two huge bags of swag given out by the wonderful BlogHer sponsors. Each bag weighed more than my children, who, coincidentally got most of the stuff.

Anna got press on fingernails and all kinds of lotions and body wash products. David's bag was a bit different since (a) he's a boy and  (b) he's David. You'd be amazed how exciting personal fans and shower caps can be to a kid, especially one with autism. The fan was especially cool, since it had a flashlight on it. He didn't care that it said "Poise" on the side and was used to advertise incontinence pads. It was a space age gun that he flew into battle with as a superhero, a special tool that opened locked doors, a healing ray that would cure you if the bad guys got you. I watched him play and play and play with it for a good long while.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birds Of A Feather Know What The Flock We're Talking About

I walked into the big meeting room for breakfast, just looking for an open seat to set my why-is-this-so-heavy bag down before I grabbed a bagel. I noticed the placards on the tables right away.

This was the BlogHer '12 Birds of a Feather breakfast. There were lots of pre-printed placard cards announcing tables for mid-life bloggers, mommy bloggers, atheist bloggers, military wife bloggers, and dozens of others. I looked around for my niche and didn't exactly see it. I'm a mid-life Mom blogger definitely, but neither table was really what I wanted to find.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm A Blogger. It's What I Do.

I'm composing this as I'm on my way to BlogHer ' 12. Can I tell you what a great feeling this is?

For years I journaled and wrote and essayed and memoired. In the early days it was pen and paper and just for me and the occasional select few I allowed to read my meanderings. Then one day, I discovered this thing called an internet and from there I began an online journal. That branched into a blog, which lead to another blog, which led to a real, bona-fide paid blogging job, which led to me finally, FINALLY thinking of myself as a writer.

Sort of.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gearing Up For BlogHer '12: Let's Do This And Let's OWN This!

What happens when you get four thousand women together - and not just any women, mind you, women with opinions! Women with opinions that want their voices heard! You get chaos! You get mayhem! You get fun! You get educated and interested and invigorated!

And most of all, you get to be you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Can't Believe I Used To Eat That!

When I was about a year into my marriage, I decided to try out my new-found love of cooking by baking a real treat for my husband: my mother's world-famous brownies.

I called her up, got the recipe, and made a great, big batch. They were good, but surprisingly, they weren't perfect. Something was just not the same about mine. This went on for a few years, with me making a batch every so often, and while my husband was appreciative, he just didn't understand. These weren't Mom's brownies. What was different? The water? The quality of flour on the east coast versus the southwest? What??

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Daughter: Let's Talk About (GULP!) Sex

Dear Daughter,

(Or should I say "Dear blonde-haired, blue-eyed, beyond gorgeous eleven year-old girl with a quick wit and an adventurous attitude who will no doubt be the object of many a teen boy's fantasy way before I'm ready for her to be...")

Let's talk sex. Maybe not right this minute, but soon. According to your father, the only word you need to know about sex is NO. N.O. Capital letters, please, and in bold font. You may substitute the word "never", but it should also be capitalized. Beneath the word, you may add your signature. In triplicate. There, all done.

Except, not quite.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh Fabio, I Guess We Just Weren't Meant To Be


Yes, that's me in the picture above, age mid-twentysomething, and that's Fabio. Did I forget to mention our torrid liason? The yearning? The passion? The colossal wave of surging desire? 




Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Former Boss Was A Case Study In First World Problems

 few years ago, while working as an executive assistant for a pharmaceutical company, I had to plan a trip for my boss to Rwanda.

Rwanda. Holy cow! Can you even get a plane to Rwanda??


Monday, July 9, 2012

When Did I Get So Snobby??

I  was grocery shopping last night at a major retailer who shall not be named (because they're also a major retailer who likes to litigate the heck out of anyone posting anything deragatory in association with their name), and as I was checking out I realized that the clerk behind the counter was being awfully nice.

This is where I confess my first piece of snobbishness - I rarely look at clerks and waiters.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brouhaha

It wasn't much of an evening. I was baking cupcakes for my daughter's class party, and he was watching hockey. I didn't mean for it to escalate the way it did, but then, these things always do come out of nowhere.

It began with a fight on the ice. The gloves came off, the players were circling, grabbing and punching, and the announcer called out with great glee:

"Looks like a real donnybrook there on the ice!"

"What???" The man said. "What the hell is he saying?"

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Daughter Seceded From The Union, So I Became A Mommy Diplomat



When my daughter was seven years old, she decided to secede from the family union.
It all began with ham. I was getting ready to make dinner and she wandered into the kitchen.

"Mom, what's for dinner for me?"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Congratulations! You Have A Kitten! Now Here's A List Of What You Really Need!

So you got yourself a kitten, did you? We got ours courtesy of a barn cat on a local horse farm who had a litter of little purring delights. He came with the name Niko, and when he was old enough to leave his mother, we took him to our veterinarian for his first once-over. The vet had a barrage of questions as she checked him out.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh Yeah, I've Got MAD Meltdown Skills

I took my kids camping for the first time this season, and for the first time, we brought along a friend for my daughter. Usually, it's just the kids and me, but as Anna grows older and David grows not nearly as quickly, it's getting harder for her to amuse herself with her brother for more than short bursts of time. A friend would give her someone to hang with, while I kept David engaged. She's also old enough now to roam a bit, especially since we were in a secured campground-resort with an entry gate. I packed the bicycles, and she and her buddy were loving it. We all were.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Great, Big Single Mom Perk: I Get To See The Avengers - Without My Kids Watching Me Drool

One of the few plusses to being a newly single Mom is that I now have something I never had before while married: kid-free days and nights. My time is my own on those occasions - what a heady thought! It wasn't easy in the beginning - on my kids' first night with their father, I lay sobbing in my daughter's bed, clutching my son's forgotten favorite stuffed kitty and wondering what I was missing in their lives during these moments. What happened to my daughter at school that day? Did my son wonder why Mom wasn't there to kiss him goodnight? It was rough.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All I Ever Really Needed To Know About Writing, I Learned From Ray Bradbury



I grew up in a world of marvelous science fiction. I watched endless monster movies on Saturday afternoons with the younger of my two older brothers, and my eldest brother was an avid reader of Heinlein, Asimov and Bradbury. He had a Doc Savage book collection that is probably worth a fortune today.

As a pre-teen, I often stole books off his bookshelf, reading them in my bed at night under the covers with a flashlight until my Mom shut me down or my brother came in, wanting to know if I was stealing his books again.

One such night, he caught me reaching for something just as he entered the room - I was caught! I turned to sheepishly make my exit, wondering if I could sneak back later, maybe when he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth or something.

"Hey," he said. "You should try this one." He handed me a book with an orange cover that I'd been eyeing for awhile but hadn't taken yet.

"You like all those monster movies and space movies, right?" He went on. "This is all about Mars, except it's cool because the monsters turn out to be us."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Whatever Happened To Good Old-Fashioned SHAME?


Take a moment (before I begin my manifesto) and watch the following video:

Now take a few more minutes, and do some yoga or deep breathing exercises until your blood pressure returns to normal. If you're like me, that'll take awhile.

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Father Carried A Wound From The War That I Will Never Forget



 My father is a Viet Nam vet, but unless you were part of our family, you probably don't know that. He doesn't talk about it. Ever. If you bring it up, he'll acknowledge it, but he's never in all my living memory talked about it openly and without invitation. He was wounded there, and for his wounds he received the Purple Heart, which he keeps in a dusty box on the back of his dresser. I saw it once, when I was young and snooping around as kids do. My Mom yelled at me to leave it alone as it was Daddy's medal and very important. I remember asking my Dad what was so important about it, and he wouldn't answer me. 


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What A Great Movie - And I Never Want To See It Again

I am a cat owner. I did, however grow up with a family dog. I don't really have a preference for one over the other - it's just a matter of logistics. I work full-time and I don't think it's fair to lock a dog in a house all day while I do so. Cat's don't really care much if you leave them alone all day. In fact, cats don't really care much about anything as long as you feed them.

Still, on one lazy Saturday afternoon while the kids were at their father's house, I came across the movie "Marley & Me" on TV. I knew the basic premise - Man meets dog, dog becomes part of the family - but had never seen it before. I decided to give it a view.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Single Working Moms Don't Get To Enjoy Summer Like Everyone Else

Summer is right around the corner. If you were at my  house last weekend, you would have sworn from the weather it was already here. The kids are a couple of weeks (they'll tell you in days) from summer vacation, and everything should be laid back and wonderful.

Unfortunately, when you're a single working Mom, summer isn't much about relaxing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Wish Upon My Daughter A Daughter Just Like Her



I walked into the house the other day after work to find my daughter simultaneously (a) microwaving a pile of dimes and (b) painting several empty plastic containers - with nail polish - on my kitchen countertop (and no newspaper beneath them, of course).

Can blood pressure be measured on the Richter Scale? Because I think mine might have registered as far away as Chile.