Life With A Side Of Autism


Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Is Just Not Worth The Money To You?

That, my friends, is an expensive handbag. Like, $3500 expensive. Why?

I have friends with Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags that they shelled hundreds of dollars out for, wrapped carefully in tissue paper in sectioned areas of their closets, and all I can say is why?

A handbag is a utility. It carries your wallet, your keys, maybe a small umbrella or tissues or lipstick. If you're a mom, God only knows what it carries. But that's what it does.

If you have to go to a wedding, you get the fancy little clutch purse that goes with your dress and if you're smart you get one that will go with several dresses so you can re-use it, since weddings don't happen to your friends and family every day.

I buy my handbags at Target, or on occasion at a department store. I buy a new one when the old one breaks a strap or a zipper, or gets too worn and scuffed. And I use that purse every day, with every outfit. It's not about fashion for me. It's about utility. I cannot fathom spending more than $40 on one, either. And they wear just fine. Years. So it's not about fine workmanship, it's about status, and to me, a fancy handbag only tells me you're willing to part with your money too easy and also impressed by stuff like that.
You also won't find me shelling out money for:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Mr. Sneaky Strikes Again

His latest bit of deviltry
Involves the sneaking of a spoon from the drawer
Then pressing it to my bare back
Under my shirt
As I'm cooking dinner or putting away dishes
I shriek loudly
He laughs louder
Sometimes he even dances in his glee
And today, I found a spoon in the freezer
Oh, baby boy, baby boy
It is on
It is SO on

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10 Movies I've Never Seen (And I Own Them!)

I don't go out much.

Okay, at all. I hardly go out at all. And I missed a lot of good movies back when the kids were younger because . . . kids. And no sitter. Then they got older but I got divorced and money for movies is very tight and is usually spent on Disney and Pixar movies when I get it. 

So a lot of great movies go by, but thank goodness for Wal-Mart and Target. I'll see a movie I'd really wanted to see in the theaters on a shelf with a price tag of less than $10 (God bless the Wal-Mart $5 DVD bin!) and I snag it, if I've got the cash.

And then it sits. See, the problem is, I'm a writer. And I need my kid-free time to write. When the kids are around, they make it hard to watch and enjoy a movie (my son sings all the time and my daughter is always playing YouTube videos while we watch). Consequently, the movies don't get watched. They gather dust. Here are ten I want to watch, but am ashamed to say I haven't, despite owning the damn DVD.

That's right. I own the whole Dark Knight Trilogy. Never watched it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"And The Children Shall Lead" - A Beautiful Expose On What Makes Us Different

I wanted to share this with you today because I think it's just amazing. The BBC-1 show CBeebies (a children's show in the UK) put together this video full of interviews with children in pairs all asking the same question: "What makes you different?"

Their answers will humble and amaze you. It's not so much what they see, but what they don't see. Watch.

The phrase "And the children shall lead" is actually not the correct version of the origin of that quote, by the way. The quote comes from the Bible, from Isaiah 11:6, which reads:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

Even thousands of years ago, wise men knew that the kids had it right. Differences are as superficial or as deep as you choose to make them.

A lesson we can all take to heart, courtesy of our children.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Time For Some Fun On A Father's Day Friday!

Ah, Father's Day. That wonderful time of year when we celebrate all things Dad. He's our rock, he's our champion, he's always there with a terrible pun and an adventurous spirit that can occasionally make mom wince. Let's hear it for the man of the house - give it up for Dad!

This Dad knows what love really means. Sometimes, it means No.

These next few Dads mean well, but it just didn't work out as planned . . .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wife Is A Four Letter Word

When we were first married, my ex-husband had a very, very hard time saying the word wife. To be fair to him, we had been dating for over seven years, and engaged for nearly two by the time we tied the knot, so the word took a little breaking in.

Still, we'd been married nearly three months when we were at a barbeque hosted by one of his coworkers, and he kept introducing me as, "This is my...uh....this is Ellie" to everyone, over and over again, followed by me smiling and saying "I'm his wife. He's not used to the word yet."

This went on for entirely too many months. At the six month mark, I finally decided enough was enough.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Back When It Was Cool To Be A Kid

It's hard to believe they're teenagers now
Back then they'd willingly pose
And willingly be in a room together
Back then he looked cool and she looked like sunshine
Now it's the other way around
So much has changed
But the love is still the same
The love is a constant
You'll always be able to see it
Even through the tears

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Great Father's Day Ideas That Won't Break The Bank!

Father's Day is Sunday and I know you're probably rolling your eyes at the thought of another necktie or bottle of cologne. By the same token, we're also looking ahead at summer, and summer camp and holiday outings to be paid for. How do you show Dad you love him without taking a bite out of the vacation fund?

Here are five terrific ideas for making Dad feel special without overspending your budget:

Monday, June 12, 2017

I Want To Share A Story About David, An Awesome Human Being

No, he's not my David, but I'm so very glad we can all claim a world with this David in it. David is an employee of American Airlines, and when Autism activist and speaker Russell Lehmann (who is a person with autism) found his flight cancelled and the ensuing chaos pushing him into a meltdown, David showed genuine empathy and helped Russell through.

As Russell describes it:

"David calmly approached me, and with the utmost compassion, he asked me what was wrong. I was barely able to get any words out. I believe I mumbled the words 'I don’t know. I can’t think, I have autism.'"

How David handled it from there shows not just his knowledge of the best way to speak with someone on the spectrum, but a depth of compassion we can all use in our daily lives. Russell says it best:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Time For Some Friday Fun - How About A Big Bowl Of NOPE

Ah, the end of another workweek, and the start of a summer weekend full of yardwork, laundry, and self-loathing for not getting enough yardwork and laundry done. Can't wait.

In the meantime, let's see what's registering on the "Nope" meter, shall we? How about starting your day with a bracing cup of cheese tea?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

You Want Me To Blog About Your Product For Free? Of Course You Do!

I've mentioned before that I occasionally get offers from various publicists and marketing people to try out their products. Lots of times, it's stuff for older women (thanks for that - I don't have the AARP card just yet).

Sometimes, it's books - oh boy do I get people who want to send me their book or their client's book and have me crow about it. I don't mind those so much and I totally would review a book if I had time to read a random book but I'm a writer and I'm busy re-reading and editing my own books, thanks.

Sometimes I get offered campaigns because I'm an "influencer" (Do any of you feel influenced? Really?) but a lot of it is stuff for mommies with little kids and I'm not that mom anymore. Even when I was that mom, I doubt I would have blogged about all the cute widdle baby products that cost a fortune and can easily be replaced by normal stuff you'd have in your house.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: My Writing Partner

I've taken to working at the kitchen table
And she's taken to napping while I work
The paw reaches out
To remind me she's there
And ready for a head scratch
Anytime I feel like moving my fingers
Away from the keyboard
It's not so easy to write
But she's really easy to love

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

5 Musicians With Insane Amounts Of Talent

There's a lot of musical talent out there - we have TV shows dedicated to it, buskers on street corners, and giddy fan-followings galore. Sometimes, you come across a musician who isn't as well-known, but still deserves some spotlight.

Like Dario Rossi, casually drumming on the street in Germany:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Autism Parents - Your Help Is Needed For A Short Survey

A Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy student at California State University Dominguez Hills has asked for your help with some research. The University is conducting a study on parents' perceptions on music for their child.

You can find the survey here - it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Thanks for helping!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Happy Friday! Let's Have Some Fun Checking Out These Bar Signs!

It's Friday, folks, and that means weekend! And for some of you, that means a trip to a friendly pub for some refreshment. So pour yourself a tall one and belly up to the bar for a collection of whimsical signs!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Oh, The Weirdly Wacky And Wildly Wonderful Things You Can Buy Yourself

I'm assuming this toilet belongs in a Taco Bell or something, but you must admit, it has pzazz. Of course, if you want to make a real statement,  you could always go for a pair of high-heeled hooves with revolver heels.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Sunset In Amish Country

Sunset over the farmland
The clip-clop of the horses 
As they pull the buggies down the road
Simple folk who appreciate the simple things
Like a sky full of wonder
Brilliant and blazing 
The camera hardly does it justice
Technology can't take the place
Of living in the moment

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Siblings Of Special-Needs Kids Deserve Some Spotlight

It's not easy to be the brother or sister of a child with special needs.

As a parent, I see the struggle daily and feel it myself as well. My son and his autism take a large amount of focus and dedication and perseverance for both of us - it's all too easy to forget that my daughter has battles of her own that go unspoken, unremarked on, or worse – unnoticed.

She gets chided for not eating her green beans when he gets a happy dance and high five if he even deigns to even try one. Every outing comes with a disclaimer: as long as David's okay. As long as David's not having what we call a "bad autism day," we can go. As long as nothing triggers David or overstimulates him too badly while we're out we can stay. And as long as she understands this, she won't be too disappointed.

Except she is. Those occasions are much rarer as David has matured (thank goodness), and as Anna has matured, they now come with a quiet resignation. A recognition that this is just how it is. David, whether we all like it or not, comes first. He comes first a lot.

Friday, May 26, 2017

It's Friday - Time For Another Edition Of "Today In The News!"

Oh, the wild and wacky world of news reporting. Always a source of quality entertainment. Let's see what made the headlines this week, shall we?

"Mom, why does this taste so funny?"

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Looking For Great Family Fun? Host Your Own Backyard Campout!

It's the time of year when the weather is warm and the kids are out of school, you really want to make the most of your family time, and what better way than camping out…in your own backyard!

Camping doesn't have to be an enormous undertaking with tons of equipment and long drives to the middle of nowhere. Even if camping isn't your thing, it's easy and oh-so-fun for the kids when you're only a short stroll away from your own bathroom.

Most large retail stores carry inexpensive pop-up tents that can be assembled in minutes. Add an air mattress if sleeping on the ground is too rough for you, and you're ready to go. Here are some other ways to maximize the family fun:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ten Songs That Make Me Stupid Happy

I was in a little shop last weekend that was playing island-type music, reggae, calypso, etc. and I was lovin' the vibe. Reggae is my favorite background chillin' music and any song that puts me on an island mentally is like a three minute vacation for me.

Anyway, the music turned to Harry Belafonte, a lesser-known song of his based on African tribal myth that makes me happy every single time I hear it. It got me thinking that I should make a playlist of songs that make me stupid happy like that one does. Here's my playlist beginning:

Turn the World Around (Harry Belafonte) - He did a splendid version of this with The Muppets:

Just Haven't Met You Yet (Michael Buble) - I know I joke about dying a lonely, old cat lady, and I know I haven't had the nerts to sign up for online dating or have any sort of date for years, but I haven't given up hope on love. It just seems like I have. Anyway, Michael Buble makes me feel better about that.

Ray of Light (Madonna) - She wrote this song for her daughter, and I think of mine when I hear it, as well. Anna has such a frenetic, brilliant world swirling around her and she navigates it with a grounded sense that amazes me sometimes. This song is pure energy and dynamic force and it makes me think of Anna, conquering the world.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Week In Autism: Oh, The Little Oddities

Every once in a while, someone remarks on something odd that David says or does that just doesn't even register with me anymore. The little oddities and idiosyncrasies of autism are so much a part of his life - and mine now - that it feels weird to imagine things any other way.

Just last week:

  • I apologized because I cut his waffles wrong. I was in a hurry and my cut did not line up exactly with the lines on the waffle
  • I made tacos. On Tuesday. It's the only day we can have tacos now. Thank you, LEGO movie.
  • I tried to outline my next book project, all while the theme to "The Office" played on repeat. For nearly an hour. 
  • We had a long discussion about what we're having for Christmas dinner. Four times in one day. We even had to discuss the size of the pieces he'd cut his ham into.

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Shall Be A Sign Unto You - That It's FRIDAY!!

Friday! Yeah!! I'm feeling it - how about you?

And to celebrate the close of another week of working my life away, let's have a chuckle or two over some entertaining signage. We'll start with this:

Apparently, you can only park on odd-numbered Tuesdays 
provided your car is blue and you carry a stuffed squirrel.

Well, at least this guy is honest:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Parenting A Teen In The Information Age

From the moment my daughter was born, I was ready. Ready to impart all the life-lessons I've learned, ready to be a steady shoulder with a valuable and entertaining anecdote or parable that will solve any of her life dilemmas. In me, she would find an ever-bubbling font of wisdom at the ready, and she would drink deeply, shouting my name to the world as the wisest mother of all mothers.

Yeah, right.

She's a teenager now, so most of the time when I start to share, I get an eyeroll. Or a "Mom. Stop." Or I'll finish my anecdote and say "You see, honey? That's what I'm getting at here…" and she'll look up from her phone with a puzzled expression and say "Huh? Were you talking to me?"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today Is A Milestone Day - I Didn't Trim My Hedges

I was outside after work pulling weeds this evening, and eyeing my hedges out front, which badly need a trim. That thought led to a memory, and I started laughing.

You see, shortly after the ex moved out, I needed to trim the hedges. I'd never used the electric hedge clippers before, but really, how hard could it be? Unfortunately, before I could plug them in and get started, the ex texted me to argue about something. I don't even remember what, but it really pissed me off. I finished my conversation with him, grabbed those hedge clippers and tore through those bushes like I was giving him a haircut. A really angry haircut.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Portraying The Spectrum: Meet Mickey Rowe, An Actor With Autism

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a mystery novel by British Author Mark Haddon, and it's told from the perspective of its protagonist, fifteen year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a teenager with autism. It has since been adapted into a stage play to some acclaim, and now, for the first time in its run, the lead role is being played by a person on the autism spectrum.

Actor Mickey Rowe details his journey as both an actor and as the character of Christopher John Francis Boone in the May 14th edition of Playbill magazine, and oh, what an amazing read! Here, Mickey gives us his take on how his autism has enhanced his skills as an actor:

"I believe that in theatre, my “weakness” is one of my strengths . . . Autistics use scripts every day. We use scripting for daily situations that we can predict the outcome of, and stick to those scripts. My job as an autistic is to make you believe that I am coming up with words on the spot, that this is spontaneous, the first time the conversation has ever happened in my life; this is also my job onstage as an actor."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Autocorrect Can Really Duck You Over

Before I get started, I want to give full credit to the source material for this post. I found all these while I was perusing Reddit last night, and this thread about bad autocorrect had me laughing so hard I ended up in a coughing fit that surely tore the last residue of this chest cold from my body.

We're going to look at some great stories of autocorrect going horribly wrong. So go to the bathroom before you start reading, and I'll pull a few of the highlights out for you here. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Is Sunday - Here Are 5 Things You Can Do To Help A Single Mom

Being a single parent comes with all sorts of everyday struggles. You probably know at least one single parent who could really use some help, but you're not sure the best way to lend a hand. Here are a few suggestions that might make their lives a little – or a lot – easier:
  •  Just listen. Sometimes, we just plain need someone to vent to, and without a spouse around to commiserate, we need an outlet. We certainly can't vent much in front of the kids, and a sympathetic ear over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine can really be a godsend some days.
  • Find ways to help them get out. Another big challenge when you're a single parent is getting out of the house and having a life. Even if you're fortunate enough to have some kid-free time, you may not always have someplace to spend it. Offer to take a painting class with them, have them over for a Netflix night, or just go out and walk around the mall. It's nice just being out!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In The Time Of The Falling Pollen

After many fits and starts
Spring has finally sprung
The heater is off (I hope)
The lawn is new-mown
And the Claritan is our best friend
Pollen may about in Spring
But I'll take it over the wasps of summer any day
Coughing and rubbing my eyes
I'll try to appreciate the flowers while they bloom

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Sensory Room - A Great Idea For Students On The Spectrum

Years ago, when David first integrated in with his peers in kindergarten, they gave him a koosh ball to hold during story time. I thought that was odd at first, but the truth is, he needed it if he was going to have any hope at all of remaining quiet and listening to the lesson. His mind had to have that extra stimulation to act as "white noise" against all the other sensory stimulation he was being bombarded with.

He also spent time between lessons in the hallway riding a plasma scooter, or down in the learning support room bouncing on a mini trampoline. Sometimes in class, he'd sit on a large exercise ball instead of a chair - this not only helped him with his core muscles (an area the physical therapist works on with him) but it also provided just enough stimulation during class without being a major distraction to the other kids.

Monday, May 8, 2017

We Have A New Cat - And She Needs Some Extra Love

This is our new cat. She doesn't look very happy, and that's because she's not. Right now, I have her in David's room, where she promptly ran for the corner and that's mostly where she stayed.

She's had a rough time lately - her previous home was one where she was well-loved, but they got a couple of big dogs a while back and this little sweetie is terrified of them. She hasn't had a great quality of life since, so they had to re-home her.

I swore to myself that I'd never have more than two cats  - I really don't want to be some crazy cat lady, here - but you may notice, she looks a hell of a lot like Niko, our younger cat. That's because she's his sister. Annabelle came from the same litter, and when the kids and I saw that her owner was looking to re-home her, we took a vote and all agreed that she needed a family reunion.

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 20 Recap: The Song In Their Heart Sets A Fire In My Soul

Holy Damn. Damn. I just . . . Damn. Forgive me, but the words aren't coming so good. Perhaps I should sing! I do have a Theatre degree with a minor in music, you know, so my inner Theatre nerd was squirming and bouncing even before the damn episode began.

Then they all started singing and I found myself clapping, oohing, aahhing, and squirming for entirely naughty reasons (at both Killian and Regina). Was this the dream episode, or what?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cue The Friday Happy Dance - Followed By A Heaping Helping Of NOPE

That's right - it's finally Friday and I finally seem to be on the upside of this miserable chest cold, courtesy of some unknown sneezer on the way back from London. It's been a lousy couple of weeks but I spent my first night without NyQuil last night and didn't cough up a lung this morning, so I'm hoping I'm on the mend.

Now that I'm over that nonsense, it's time for a big ole plateful of NOPE. We'll begin with my knee-wobbling fear of heights:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

London Diary: Odds & Ends

That's right: Snickers Milk! And Mars Milk! And Maltesers Milk (Maltesers are like Whoppers - malted milk balls). You can buy this stuff and drink it! 

I opted to spend my money on cider instead. Maybe next time.

There were a few not so usual (for us) things on the trip - like the double flush button toilets, but I know all about them from my time in Ireland so they weren't a surprise. The biggest surprise we had in London was this:

That is a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry from McDonald's, and it is surely what the angels eat while lounging indolently on clouds. Holy cow, was it good. Soooooo good. I ordered it with a large Diet Coke (I know, I know, but it's what I'm used to drinking) and did a double-take when they gave me a 500ml Diet Coke, which is a little under 17 ounces. That's slightly larger than a small (16oz) here and nearly half the size of the large (32oz) I'd normally get. Cost as much, too. In fact, it was a little more, without even figuring in the exchange rate. Yeesh.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: A Quiet Place

So green a place
Just a slight breeze
Birds - but barely
As though they know
The souls that slumber here
Some for more than half a millenia
Shuffling off the woes of the world
And settling into the good earth
In this quiet place

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My London Diary: St. Pancras & King's Cross

That, my dears, is a nighttime pic of St. Pancras station from the outside. It sits across the street from King's Cross, they both have trains, and I'm not entirely sure why they're not just all one station since they're joined together underground. From what Wikipedia tells me, King's Cross has the rail lines for all the UK, and St. Pancras is the hub for the Eurostar trains that go to the rest of Europe. Together, they both have the Underground. Anyway, St. Pancras is just gorgeous inside and out.

Inside, there's a lot of shopping (at King's Cross, as well), and a couple of different pianos set out for people to play at their whim. Most of the time when we were walking through, someone was playing, and beautifully. It was really wonderful. One of the pianos was donated (and signed) by Sir Elton John.