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Friday, October 30, 2015

Fun On A Friday: Check Out These Great Halloween Costumes!

Yes, that's my boy a few years back, dressed as Harry Potter in Quidditch robes, complete with broom. Why his teacher made him pose with the broom handle in that position, I will never know. But it made for a memorable picture!

And in the spirit of this festive holiday - here are some fantastic and fun Halloween costumes!

Look! It's an amena- anemenema - it's Nemo!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sometimes Your Past Sneaks Back In - And That's Not Necessarily A Bad Thing

Many of you may remember that I was brought up Evangelical Southern Baptist. I was in church 5-6 times a week, and twice on Sundays.

Once I left home to go to college, I moved away from that. It wasn't an instant rending, more like a slow weaning away, and I haven't re-assumed that lifestyle at any point in all the years since. And if I'm being totally honest and truthful...I haven't wanted to or felt like I needed to.

Please know that I'm not disrespecting any of you with a deep and abiding faith in whatever religion fuels your soul. I admire your convictions, I respect your right to worship in whatever way you choose, and I think it's wonderful if that faith leads you to do and be a force for good in this world.

I firmly believe in all of that, and I work toward that myself, just without the "church six times a week" part.

Anyway....I was very active in  my church choir, and a frequent soloist in my church's music program (as well as performing at other christian venues during church camps. etc.) and singing was a big and vital part of my spiritual life for many, many years.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: The One And Only Time She Was A Fairy Princess

She was three
And I talked her into it
She was adorable
Everything a fairy princess should be
Except the crown was scratchy
And the wings didn't really work to make her fly
And the dress was too pink and sparkly
Not deep red or vivid purple or black like night
And she didn't get to have a sword
Or a bow or a dagger or a lightsaber
"I can't do anything in this," she told me
"Sure you can," I answered, "you can be a princess"
She heaved a sigh, and gave me a smile
And let me take the picture
Then she lost the crown and the wings
And she's never looked back

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Like Mother, Like Daughter, They Say

My daughter recently posted something on one of her social media pages that (with her permission) I am going to share, because it's just so beautifully said:

I'm scrolling through my feed on Instagram, there a couple of posts that I see, you know, those accounts that post sad poems and quotes that make you think bad things about yourself. And I'm just sitting here thinking, why? Why do these people post things like this? Why do humans in general rarely accept when you have self love, or confidence. Everyone is forced to be sad, or insecure about something. Why? People need to realize that it's not conceited to finally have some confidence, or happiness in their lives. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Resource Monday: "Interacting With Autism" Is A Wonderful Video Tool

Today's resource is an amazing website: Interacting With Autism.

The site is divided into three separate sections: Understanding, Treating, and Living With - all designed to help you (and your child) navigate the frequently confusing world of the autism spectrum.

Understanding takes us on a journey covering causes, diagnosis, parental perspectives and perspectives of people on the spectrum to help us get a good, rounded picture of where this is coming from and how we've slowly been accumulating knowledge to aid us in identifying therapies that work.

Once Upon A Time Season 5, Episode 5 Recap - Friendzoned: The Darkest Magic Of All


We begin in Camelot (say it with me now) "Many years ago..."

Merlin is seeking the Dark One, whom he commands with the dagger. The Dark One appears (wearing a mask for some nefarious, yet-to-be-revealed reason) and Merlin screams "You destroyed her - the only woman I ever loved!" He raises the dagger, but drops it before completing his action and striking a killing blow. The Dark One is quick to pick it up. He takes one of Merlin's tears, imbuing the dagger with it before he turns Merlin into a tree.


Emma, it turns out, is seeing this through a dreamcatcher while she stands in front of Merlin's tree.

Forward now to pre-curse Camelot and Regina is questioning Snow and David, who are still looped out on magic fixy dust. David tells Regina to turn over the dagger because he trusts Arthur "implicitly," prompting Regina to retort:

"Did you learn those big words at shepherd school?"

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fun On A Friday - Time For Another Edition Of "Today In The News!"

Wow - they're really cracking down!

It's Friday, folks, and time for another edition of "Today in the News." You won't believe what's making headlines this week! We'll start with this well-intentioned letter to the editor.

Why didn't we think of this sooner?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's Okay, Mom...He's Going To Be Fine

Last night was our local Halloween parade, and the kids and I grabbed their empty goody bags and a few folding chairs and began trudging from our parking spot a good mile away from the action. As we wound along the sidewalks, dodging people who were already set up and all the kids running by, David was keeping up a running diatribe.

He gets like this sometimes. You change the routine and it makes him crazy. We weren't able to park where we've parked the last two years and had to walk a little further than usual. David couldn't carry his chair that far (or so he told us over and over until I took it and carried it), and he didn't want to walk back that far (not much I could do about that) and he was hung up on it and repeating his objections over and over, until Anna was snapping at him and I was getting edgy riding herd between the two of them.

Then disaster hit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Stop For Just A Moment

I am not what you'd call a morning person
I'm only awake before noon because I have to be
And when your kid catches a seven a.m. bus you have to be
So I nagged and I located shoes
I reminded her about her coat
And helped her search for lost lip balm
In the middle of the morning chaos
I looked out the window
And so did she
And we both said
And we walked out on the deck
Standing and breathing and enjoying a sunrise
One brief moment before the chaos kicked in again
Just me and her and the sky

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So I Watch 'Kill Bill' Every Mother's Day - It's Festive!

I was going through our massive DVD collection over the weekend, trying to organize (and return things to their cases because the kids always leave a pile of discs laying around....grrr!) and got to thinking about how we identify certain movies with certain holidays.

For instance - this month, on the weekends I have the kids, we'll be watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus and Disney's cheesy epic: Halloweentown. It's tradition around here.

Next month, it's a re-watch of my DVD set of Band of Brothers for Veteran's Day, and then we'll gather together the Saturday before Thanksgiving and pop popcorn, eat jelly beans, toast and pretzels, and watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Resource Monday: Meet Milo - A New Frontier In Autism Therapy

Meet Milo R25, the next generation in autism therapy! He might look a little creepy to us, but to a kid with autism who has trouble with facial and verbal cues, it's a big help to study his exaggerated features and work through his various modules on social interaction. 

Milo has twenty-one separate motors, as well as a camera and microphone, to pinpoint the exact location of the student’s voice, turn, respond and answer questions while facing the student.

A typical work session involves Milo going through a lesson, explaining a concept and then showing a short video clip on a tablet about the correct and incorrect way to interact socially. After the video, the student will push a button on the touch screen about the shown interaction, answering questions about what was right and wrong.

There is a small computer screen on Milo’s chest that reinforces the important concepts discussed during the lesson.

Check out the video below for more info, or head over to the Robokind site for more information!

Special thanks to reader Steph for sharing this with me!


Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one.
Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Once Upon A Time - Season 5, Episode 4 Recap: Let's Play "When The Hell Are We?"

We begin in Camelot "many years ago" (which is writerspeak for "don't try to pin us down because we may screw with this timeline later). Young stable boy Arthur is already using his moves on young Guinevere, taking her to the tree where Merlin is trapped. Merlin apparently told Arthur his destiny, whispering from inside the tree. A group of young village bullies show up to taunt Arthur about his dreams for restoring the kingdom to its glory, but Guinevere believes in him.

Forward to Arthur trying to pull the sword and finding it incomplete. They rush back to Camelot where Arthur shows the people a carefully sheathed Excalibur. Don't worry, Arthur, size doesn't really matter. Guinevere is there to celebrate but she senses something's wrong. Arthur shows her the incomplete sword and tells her that his quest has just begun.

Ahead years later to the time of the Storybrooke invasion. Arthur tells David about the dagger being part of Excalibur, and recommends that they bypass Merlin and try to re-forge Excalibur themselves, chasing the darkness away forever.

Emma, meanwhile, is building dreamcatchers (great callout to season two) and hearing voices whispering in her head, calling her to the dagger. Dark Rumple leads her to the dagger in Regina's room, but Regina's put a protection spell on it, making it impossible for Emma to take it. She gets fed up with Dark Rumple and blasts him but nearly hits Killian, and she confesses to him that she's never alone - someone's always in her head.


She's clearly not doing too well and Regina suggests that she rest. Henry knows just the place, and Killian won't leave her side (of course), so off they go.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fun: Get A Load Of These Adorable (And Smooth!) Guys!

It's a beautiful fall Friday here in the mid-Atlantic, and I plan to bake a load of pumpkin bread and drink a lot of apple cider this weekend. Oh, and write. 'Cause I do that now, a lot more than usual.

Can I tell you how surreal it still is to get paid for something I'd cheerfully do for free?

(Don't tell my editor that...)

Anyway, this weekend I've been invited to a backyard hangout complete with firepit and hard cider and (as I've been informed) nice guy my age who is also single and friends want me to meet.


So I guess I'd better practice that flirty thing and brush up on how to recognize that flirty thing (because I'm crap at it, quite honestly) and we'll go from there. If I don't talk myself out of going for that very reason, that is.

And in the spirit of flirting, I give you these adorable men and their incredibly smooth moves.

Check out the mall Casanova:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

There's No Use In Fighting It....I'm A Creature Of The Night

I started with the best intentions.

It was Monday afternoon, and my kids were out of school (it's Columbus Day here in the states) so I was home for the day. One kid was off with a buddy, and the other was engrossed in a DVD. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, just warm enough and with the slightest breeze to ruffle the multicolored leaves on the trees in my backyard. 

I took my laptop out to the screen porch, sat down in my rocker with my beanbag-bottomed lapdesk and a glass of iced tea, and told myself I was going to write. And write. And write.

Okay, make that "snooze." 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Bring On The Fall!

My favorite time of year
The air is cool
The colors are sharp
Nights are spent snuggled under comforters
Days are warm and sunny without humidity
Everything's orange-red and yellow
And the kids are already talking about Christmas
I love the beach and the sun and the surf
But nothing beats a fire on a crisp October night
And friends sharing pumpkin and apple-flavored everything
Give me autumn
The most romantic season of the year

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Being A Mom Means Knowing When To Butt The Hell Out

My daughter is in a relationship.

And while she certainly doesn't tell me every little thing that goes on between the two of them, snippets leak out here and there, or I observe them together, and it's all I can do to keep my tongue behind my teeth.

It's nothing horrendous, mind you - just normal teen drama and young love angst. Neither one of them think the other loves as much as they do, neither one think they're worthy of the other's love, despite all protestations to the contrary.

Such is love.

And as a Mom who's lived and loved, the words come easily to my lips.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Resource Monday: Conversation Skills Resources For Children With Autism

Today I want to share some great resources for practicing social skills with your child. As a child on the autism spectrum, socialization is tough for my kid. He's incredibly friendly but not always appropriate and he often struggles with basic conversation. Here are some tools I've used that have helped:

A conversation menu

14 conversation skills kits for people with autism

12 activities to help your kid with social skills

 A flowchart to help your child identify friendly vs. unfriendly teasing

And finally, I'm going to give a big shout-out to the Watch Me Learn series of DVD's. A former teacher suggested these to me when my son was in pre-school and they became such a terrific tool. They involve a lot of behavior modeling and even have some catchy songs to teach things like tooth brushing and tying shoes, but the social skills repetitive practice was outstanding. My son learned about proper greetings, taking turns, showing empathy, conversing in groups, and so much more. The production quality isn't half bad for a shoestring budget, and if your kid is like mine and doesn't take to them right away, put them on in the background and just let them run. Eventually, they start soaking in and you'll notice a difference.

Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one.
Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Once Upon A Time - Season 5, Episode 3 Recap: Arthur Is A Toadstool-Sucking Douchebag

We begin this evening in the mines with the dwarves, who get a surprise visit from Emma. She's decided to take Happy's pickaxe, and when he protests, she shares this bit of advice:

"When your name is on something, hold onto it."

And I call that a serious clue. I'm calling it for sure now, though I've had an inkling from the beginning. I don't think Emma is controlling her dagger, despite having it in her hands last episode. Someone else is calling the shots here. Remember when Hook begged her to tell him what happened last week? Her answer was "I wish I could tell you." Not "no" or "Eff you" or "I'm not going to tell you," but "I wish I could tell you." That's another little clue, I think.

Flashback now to Camelot where Regina's trying to whip up a potion to free Merlin from the tree. Snow suggests that they talk directly to Merlin via a magic toadstool she located in a book called "The Crimson Crown" which grows only in the Forest of Eternal Night. (I'm sure the forest is strictly forbidden to all students at Camelot castle, too). David pawns baby Neal off on Snow and goes with Arthur, who addresses him as 'Your Majesty'.

Helloooo? Continuity? Last week, I remarked that they introduced Snow at the royal ball as "Lady Mary Margaret" instead of Princess (or Queen) Snow White and the only explanation anyone had for that bit of inconsistency was that maybe the royals were trying to stay undercover. Obviously, that isn't the case. Anyway, enough bitching about continuity.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fun On A Friday: Let's Take A Trip - Through Time!

Someone alerted me recently to an awesome short film about time travel that was so much fun to watch. I present: One Minute Time Machine! (note: slight NSFW language/subject matter)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Happy Virgiversary - You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Yesterday was the anniversary of me losing my virginity.

I'm not going to say how many years, exactly, but I will tell you I was in college, and it was October 7th. I don't remember the date because it was so life-changing, or anything. I just have a weird mind that remembers obscure dates for everything. 

I can tell you I graduated high school on May 24th and college on May 12th. I can tell you an ex-boyfriend's birthday was January 2nd, and one of my tenth grade boyfriends and I celebrated our anniversary on June 6th. I don't know why this stuff sticks in just does.

So anyway. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: This Should Not Have Happened

Her name was Carrie.
She was younger than me
She was a wonderful person 
A genuinely kind and decent human being
She had a good job
She had a husband and children who loved her
She had friends, many friends
And she also had breast cancer
Last Wednesday was her last day on earth
But not the last day I'll think about her
Not the last day she'll be missed
F**k cancer

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Have You Ever Tried To Drive Someone Crazy? Or Had It Done To You?

Years ago I worked for a woman I'll call Mary. 

I hated Mary. And so did a lot of other people. She was nuts. I mean, quite literally, she was nuts. The problem was, Mary - while horribly unpleasant to work with and work for - was really, really good at her job.

Not so good that they couldn't replace her with a decent human being of normal temperament, though. Preferably that didn't scream at people like a vicious harpy and didn't demand that you do tasks in bizarre, anal-retentive fashion that created four times as much work for everyone. But for some reason, the higher-ups (who didn't have to interact with this woman on a daily basis) were blissfully unaware that she was a walking nightmare to her underlings (despite the intervention of HR on several occasions and them sending her to special "constructive communication" classes...)

Anyway, we loathed Mary. We really did. And since we all hated her so, we decided to have a little fun with her. 

It was just little stuff, and nothing she could really prove. But we decided to gaslight the girl, and oh, was it effective. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Once Upon A Time - Season 5, Episode 2 Recap: True Love's Near Miss

When last we left our heroes, they were face down on a diner floor wearing strange clothes with no memory of how they got there - or in other words, any Saturday night in college. Well, for me, at least.

Anyway, we're back now and ready to start figuring out (again) how they lost their memories (again) and I'm sure there's a surprising explanation (again) and it'll all wrap up neatly by the mid-season hiatus (again).

So we open with Leroy and the dwarves in a van (Sneezy statue is strapped to the roof) rolling along to the town line. Leroy wants a volunteer to step over, and like a total a-hole, he sends Dopey because he's the handicapped dude. Regina, David and Snow show up just as Dopey steps across the line and turns into a tree.

Resource Monday: Helping Your Child Manage Stress

I came across a great article in Psychology Today about a useful acronym that helps your child deal with stress. The acronym is ACCEPTS. Have your child seek out these avenues to help diffuse stress:

Pushing Away

Head over to  the article for clarification on all of those items and how you can teach your child to apply them - it's great advice!

My son has always had a problem with impulse control and getting overloaded when he's upset. When he was younger, we played a game based on one of his favorite TV shows, Disney's "Special Agent Oso." Oso was a cute secret agent bear who had to help a child with a task in every episode (brushing teeth, tying shoes, etc.) and he always had "three special steps" to complete. They included a jaunty song about those three special steps, so I hijacked it and taught David to self-regulate to a degree by remembering his "three special steps:"

Friday, October 2, 2015

Laughter Is Always The Best Medicine

I'm feeling a little under the weather today (and on top of that, we're getting splattered by a hurricane), so it's a pretty crummy day all around. And what's the best thing to do on a crummy day?

Let's laugh it off!

We'll start with this poor guy - he shouldn't have slugged back a soda before going live on the air:

And then there's this poor bride:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Started To Post This On Tuesday. Really.

I'd like to tell you all about how organized and goal-oriented I am. I really would.

I spent yesterday in New York, meeting with my editor and agent, digging right into my first round of edits and rewrites.

It was invigorating. It was amazing.

I wrote at the train station. I wrote on the train. I talked out loud to myself endlessly on the drive home from the station, hashing through things, and then I got home and I wrote some more. 

And you probably think I'm so damn amazing, but I'm here to tell you, folks...don't hold your breath. I am the world's biggest procrastinator.