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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: The Sentinel

For countless years, it's stood
Looking out over the rocky Irish sea
Sometimes a guidepost
Sometimes a place of worship
Constant and always looking to the horizon
Waiting for a traveler
Like me
To tell its story to

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Dublin Diary - Day 2: Back In Time At Malahide Castle

On day two of the great Dublin adventure, I sprung a modest twenty euro (I got a 5 euro discount because I also booked a Freedom pass for the hop-on-hop-off bus in Dublin) and booked a five hour tour that took me to Malahide Castle and then to the coastal village of Howth, with a tour back along the coastline.

I couldn't have asked for nicer weather in November, honestly. It was 49 degrees and sunny, not a raindrop fell on me the whole time I was there. I woke refreshed in the morning, had my cup or two of good Irish tea and headed off to the bus tour headquarters on upper O'Connell Street. Along the way, I grabbed breakfast at the highly recommended Rolling Donut. Oh, dear God, these donuts. So good. I had the Bailey's Cream donut and it was everything I never knew I needed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Dublin Diary - Day 1: Waiting And Wandering

It took three trains and 5 hours to get to Newark International Airport (due to wait times between trains and my commute to the train station), and once I got there, I breezed right in. I was expecting a huge wait in security lines, but most people traveling on the day before Thanksgiving are doing so domestically, so the International terminal didn't have much going on.

They also didn't have much in the way of food once you got past the security checkpoint. There was one bar/restaurant with about ten things on the menu, and the cheapest meal was a hamburger that rang in at $24.50. And the fries were extra!

Yeesh. So I ordered an $8.50 side of fries and reasoned that would hold me over as a meal until I got on the plane.

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 9 Recap: One Dark Mother Of A Backstory

I apologize for the tardiness of this blog. I was on my way back from Ireland last night! I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Dublin, where I had a rollicking good time. Even checked out the Gaiety Theatre (Colin's alma mater) and listened to Trad (traditional music) at one of the best pubs for it in Dublin. How could I resist?


Anyway, on with the show. We begin tonight with Rumple running down a fairy who warns him that he won't get away with whatever it is he's doing.

The Evil Queen shows up and Rumple reminds her that she's still got some sister-killing to do if he wants to get a piece of of his dark dagger of love. He throws some gold dust on the fairy, turning her old, knowing that this will send a message to Belle letting her know that he's going to use the magic on her. Once he ages the baby out of her, he can use the shears of destiny to cut the boy from his fate and take him from Belle.

Flashback now to Rumple's castle in the Enchanted Forest, where he drops a baby unceremoniously on the table in front of Belle.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Fun On A Friday - The Terrific T-Rex Compilation

Ah, the majestic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Such a fierce predator - that is, until you put him in the modern-day world. This is just a collection of really silly guys in a really silly T-Rex costume doing really silly things. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Stepping Back In Time

There's a saying that goes:

To a European, a hundred miles is a very long way
To an American, a hundred years is a very long time

So here's me, boarding a plane and taking a long journey
Back in time to the land where some of my ancestors lived and breathed and loved and died

An unexpected, but thoroughly welcome adventure

tóg go bog é

Take it softly, they say
And I will, wrapped in the warmth of hundreds of years

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

That Time I Almost Died - From A Watermelon

When I was five, my family had a fourth of July barbeque, with all the typical fourth of July sort of foods: BBQ chicken, burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad - and watermelon.

I was eating it all with gusto, especially the watermelon. It took me a while to eat each piece, however, because I had to carefully, meticulously pick out each and every seed.

You see, I had older brothers. And older brothers delight in torturing their younger siblings. Not long before that day, I had been informed by one (and affirmed by the other) that the swallowing of an apple seed would cause an apple tree to take root in my stomach, growing until it burst through my skin. This I believed like God himself had engraved it on a stone tablet for me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shine Ireland Develops App To Teach Children On The Spectrum Social Skills

A friend pointed me toward this article about Shine Ireland, an organization out of Cork, Ireland that works with local families to secure assessments, therapies, services and appropriate education for their children who are on the spectrum.

In addition to that they've developed a couple of terrific game apps that helps children on the spectrum practice their social skills. The apps have had over 40,000 downloads worldwide.

Both apps teach valuable skills in a really fun way (I downloaded and David really loved playing!). The design team behind both apps recently won the National Net Visionary Award from Dot IE, Ireland's domain registry service and represents the best of Ireland online.

The apps can both can be found by searching Shine Ireland in the app store and selecting Social Skills for Autism, or the latest game, Kloog 2: Return to Zugopolis.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fun On A Friday: All Signs Point To Laughter

It's that time again - Friday!! And not just any Friday for me - I'm off all work all next week (gotta clean my house since I'm going away) and Wednesday, I step on a plane, cross and ocean and wake up in the land of my ancestors. How amazing is that?

So here's a collection of brilliant signage to ease you into your weekend with a good belly laugh. We'll start with this poor, lonely soul:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

When The Universe Tells You To Go, You Go

So I called Aer Lingus to cancel my flight (and mini-vacation) to Dublin and see about getting a credit voucher, since it's a non-refundable fare. They are more than willing to give me one, under three conditions:
  1. I pay a $150 change fee each way on the new ticket. So $300 extra bucks out of my pocket whenever I take the trip.
  2. I have to complete my travel using this voucher within one year of the original date of purchase. That was June 12. My kids won't even be out of school by then.
  3. I have to book the new flight no later than next Wednesday morning.
This is not even a remote possibility. Booking a flight for spring/early summer ups the fare by another $400-$500 and I have to pay $300 on top of it? By Wednesday??

Well, guys - I guess I'm going to Ireland.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

If You're Brain-Numb And You Know It Flail Your Hands

Have you ever felt like your life has totally gotten out of hand? I think I'm there. 

I've been so hung up on writing deadlines, that my house looks like a bomb went off in it. I finally got the yard under control with the help of a very kind neighbor, but the indoors is nowhere I could entertain company right now, so I need to get on top of that.

I have bags of stuff that needs to go to the Goodwill donation center, but of course, I haven't taken it yet because I still have more to add to it. Don't even mention my basement or garage. I think they both need to be nuked from space. It's the only way.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 8 Recap: Sleeveless Charming, Hidden Dragon

Tonight we begin in the loft apartment, and Emma and Regina are chewing the scenery looking for a way to defeat the Evil Queen. Snow writes Charming a note and prepares to wake him, but first she gets a feeling crawling up her spine that says the queen is watching. She smashes the mirror by the bed, furious at this new intrusion into their lives.

Next we watch a love story, one that takes place in the moments between dark and dawn, as Snow and David swap shifts with their baby. They leave each other notes and videos to watch, trying desperately to keep their bond with each other. Oh, the feels in this segment - it's like watching them fall in love all over again. This was beautifully done in split screen with the song "Colours" by Donovan underscoring. Nice touch.

And oh, am I glad to see Sleeveless Charming. Second only to Dark Charming on the hotmeter. Damn. Can't the dude sleep in just boxers? Is it too much to ask?

He's A Pinball Wizard, There Has To Be A Twist

Today, I want to share a recent feature story from ESPN about Robert Gagno. Robert is from Vancouver, BC, Canada and he's a person with autism. He's also a total dynamo in the world of pinball.

ESPN focused on Robert and his rise to fame in their feature story, The Charmer.

It's a bit of a long read, but a really, really good one.

Here's a clip from a Canadian news station that gives you a little more insight into Robert's story:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tomorrow, He's A Teenager

Today is his last day of twelve. Tomorrow I have a teenager.

In all the months I carried him, dreamed of him, planned for him, I could never have imagined what he ended up to be. This is true of both of my children - being so much more and so overwhelmingly a part of the very fabric of my soul - you can't imagine that until they're sleeping in your arms, or taking that first step, or reading that first word.

All of those milestones came later, and harder for him. But they came. And some of that was me, and some of that was his teachers and therapists and his older sister showing him the way. But most of that was him. His perseverance, his sheer determination, his unfailing sunshine smile after a storm of frustrated tears. 

I no longer have a child with autism. I have a son, who is a young man, and he has autism.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Sad

I am sad - and that seems like such a hollow word. It's not deep enough. Not unsure enough.

I am afraid for my children. 

I am afraid for my daughter, who shouted with joy as love won the day, and who may now see that overturned. She may never get to marry the person she loves if this man and his policies win out. She will meet men like Donald Trump, who think they are entitled to do or say or act out their wishes without respect for her or her personal boundaries - men who will feel even more entitled to that now, gazing up at their newly-minted role model. I look at neighbors who have Trump signs in their yards and I wonder if I need to caution her to be wary of them. But I don't. She already is.

I am worried for my son, who will be an adult in five short years. An adult with a disability, in a country that just elected a man who openly mocks the disabled. In a country that elected a man who bankrupts without apology, who will be funding the causes he feels like funding and lobbing curse words at anyone who disagrees with him. Disability support, particularly for adults with learning disabilities, has always been an afterthought in this country, funded only after all the other programs get what they need. In this new regime, my son won't be an afterthought. He won't be thought about at all.

We are all now players in the largest reality-TV show the world has ever seen, and the rest of the world sits dumbfounded before their screens, shaking their heads and silently sending their prayers.

Oh, my America. What have we become?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Great Mom Dilemma: How Selfish Is Too Selfish?

"A mother is someone who - when faced with the prospect of four slices of cake for five people - suddenly remembers that she never much cared for cake."
                                                   ~ a proverb

I have a dilemma, and it's one of a selfish nature.

Back when I made the book deal and got my book advance, a large portion of that money went toward bills. I was behind on everything, including my mortgage, and still have some accumulated hospital bills from David's broken leg, Anna's concussion, and a breast biopsy that was done on me that I've been paying off very slowly.

I didn't get to pay off everything, but I paid some and got even on some things that I was behind on, and that's progress. I also set aside a small amount for Christmas, another amount for our trip to New Mexico, and with what was left over, I was hoping to check something off my lifelong bucket list and go to Ireland last summer for a week.

And then the ex changed his week for taking the kids, I totalled the car, and I had to kiss that dream goodbye. Or did I?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 7 Recap: First Meetings, Faith & Axe-Swinging Fairies

Tonight we begin with Snow and David sleeping peacefully in bed, only to have Snow suddenly awaken in the forest as the guest of the Evil Queen.

"Sleeping Snow is my favorite Snow," Queenie coos. She wants Snow and David's hearts, but Snow lets her know Regina has put a protection spell on them. The Evil Queen then hands Snow a bottle with a potion in it, telling her that Snow and David have 12 hours to figure out what it is and voluntarily surrender their hearts or the whole town will suffer the consequences.

Over to Zelena's house now, where Regina makes a forced show of nicety and gloats over her latest evil plan. She also coins my new favorite alternate moniker: "Prince Farming."


Zelena's asking all the plot progressing questions: "Is The Dark One helping you? What did you give and what did he take?" There's some definite veiled tension here, and maybe a little bit more. Hmmmm.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fun on a Friday: Welcome to "What the Hell Did I Just Watch?"

I see a lot of weird stuff on the internet. I mean a whole lot. I have many, many friends who are apparently very disturbed and I also frequent Reddit, which is a treasure trove of all sorts of internet frivolity.

During my travels through cyberspace, I've found more than a few odd things that make me scratch my head and go, "What the hell did I just watch?" Today, I'm going to share a few of this very long list with you.

We'll start with this one.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sometimes, Mom Needs To Get Away - And Sometimes She Doesn't

I was groaning a bit last night as I was adjusting the heating pad on my lower back (still working off the soreness from Tuesday's tumble down the stairs),  and David told me, "Mom, you need a week in bed."

Oh, does that sound good.

And then I sat there perusing Facebook and one of my friends was having a wonderful, self-indulgent day of indolent lazing about while her young kids were off with their Dad on a trip.

Some of her friends remarked that she should go out shopping or spend the evening out with her girlfriends, but she declined, stating that she was perfectly happy to be doing nothing for a change.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: I Spent My Morning Drive In Love With You

Dear Daughter:

It was an ordinary morning, and my ordinary morning drive, until I remembered the weekend. A neighbor had stopped me at the grocery store, and asked me about you. I spoke of you in glowing terms, pride bursting out of every word, and as my mind replayed that conversation, I remembered so much more.

I spent forty-five minutes remembering so much of you, the crazy times we made scrambled eggs at 1am, the adventures and the arguments that ended in hugs and laughter, the binge-watching of Netflix and the camp-outs out in the living room on weekends for movie nights, putting you on the bus that took you to the plane that took you to the first stamp on your passport, and welcoming you back in my arms safe and sound and glowing from the experience. I remembered it all, and I cried off all my makeup before I got to work and had to reapply.

It was worth it.

Love (completely and for always always),


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Today Is A "Just Good Enough" Day

Today has been a day, and it's not even noon yet.

It started on the overnight - I slept miserably for some reason, waking every half hour or so, alternating between burning up and freezing cold. Ah, periomenopause, what a wonderful thing you are.

Then I started my morning by falling down the stairs. Loudly. Which means Anna got to start her morning by hearing her mom nearly die. Loudly. David sleeps through anything, so he wasn't traumatized, but Anna was certainly freaked out.

No broken bones, but I fear my back is wrecked and I feel like I've been beaten with a sock full of nickels.