Life With A Side Of Autism


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

London Diary Day 2: The Royal Observatory Was A Royal Pain

Day 2 in London began with such promise! We didn't get up quite as early as I'd like - Anna was having a serious issue with jet lag and she's never great with morning to begin with, but eventually we made our way to St. Pancras Station for a hearty breakfast at a great little Italian place called Barzetti. They were one of the few places you could get a real, sit-down breakfast (vs a pastry) and Anna wanted eggs. It turns out it was a terrific decision. I had the Uova al Forno Con Pancetta, which was Two eggs baked in a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella, parmesan, vine tomatoes and topped with pancetta. It was served with crusty brown bread and it was amaaaaazing. Take a look!

Monday, April 24, 2017

My London Diary, Day One: High Tea On The Thames

Our first day in London began with an hour and I forget how many minutes long queue for customs and passport control that I would like to never repeat again in my lifetime. We had filled out our landing cards on the plane, but that did nothing to expedite the process. This is the world we live in, I suppose.

The cool thing about the endless queue (and yes, there was one) was that it was truly a melting pot unlike anything I'd ever seen in my melting pot of a country. I think every nation on earth was represented in that queue and the writer in me was fascinated watching them all speak and interact and gripe about the queue. I wanted to know all their stories. But mostly, I wanted out of that line.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Time For "Today In The News"

It's Friday and I'm ready to rock it. But first, let's check in with the local news to see what's on tap. We'll start here.

Australia. Of course.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Saturday, I March For Science - And Here's Why

I had planned to start my London Diary today, but I'm holding off to next week because I think this is too important. On Saturday, I join thousands of others all around the world who will be marching for science.

Those of you who follow me know I'm a theatre girl. And a writer. I'm as far from a scientist/engineer/mathematician as you can get. I was raised by a fundamentalist evangelical mother and an engine mechanic father in a small town in the southwest, surrounded by a lot of camouflage wearing, gun-toting people.

And while I am a meat-eating, kale-despising girl who really has no use for homemade granola or Birkenstock sandals, I can see that we're on a planet in crisis, one that's at a turning point. Legislation has paved the way to reversing the damage we did to the ozone layer, many of our wild and free places have been sheltered, our water and soil has been tested and in some places, purified - but not at the levels we need to have any sort of legacy to pass on to our kids. The current administration has already peeled back many of those protections and is targeting more.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: In The Place Of The Silent Stones

Five thousand years is a long time
Some say, they're just rocks after all
But you can't help but feel the history
The majesty and awe
The wonder that repeats through generations
The commonality that unites us
The feeling of the sacred
No matter who or what you worship
Ancient things carry great power
And we are all a part of it
I stood among the giants
In the silence
Breathing it in
Just content to be

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Flight Got Bumped By A Day - And I Am Incredibly Grateful

We were supposed to have gotten in from London yesterday afternoon, but things did not go as planned. Instead, we were deplaned, sat in an airport for hours, then shuttled to a hotel, given food and room vouchers, and stuck in London for another night. It was quite the frazzling experience, and I am sincerely tired of airports. I don't need to see one again anytime soon, thanks.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm Not Looking To Cure My Son's Autism, Thanks

A few years ago, I sent out a Facebook blast to my family and friends to let them know I was taking part in an autism fundraiser - one that I participate in every year. This particular event raises money for autism research, which I think is a very worthwhile cause. Every bit we learn about autism gets us valuable therapies and innovations that help people live their lives to their fullest potential, and I'm all for that.

One of my family members shared the post and added this tidbit:

Please support Ellie and help us find a cure! Autism is a terrible curse and we need to help these children!

I didn't lash out at my family member, even though I really wanted to. There is so much wrong with that sentence.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 17 Recap: Plot Points, Pixie Petals & Placeholder People

We open tonight's episode with Hook and Blackbeard fleeing the Lost Boys in Neverland. It seems they are determined to make him pay for unseating Pan. Suddenly, a tranquilizer dart takes down a Lost Boy and it's Tiger Lilly to the rescue! Except she's not rescuing at all - she defies proper Hook-concussing protocols and smacks Killian with a tranquilizing dart before she drags him off. Blackbeard is - well, he's just gone after that. Poof.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, it turns out Henry's glassy-eyed scribblings refer somehow to "The Final Battle" - which Rumple foretold back in season one. David thought that phrase referenced the curse (as did we) but apparently it was a breadcrumb trail the writer's seeded for when we get to this point. Or so they would have us believe.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: London, Here We Come!

Today's the day
Our first official Mother-Daughter birthday trip
And I hope, the first of many
For a long, long string of years
Seeing the world 
Through my eyes, and through hers
Touching hands to stones that were laid centuries ago
Walking streets that have known
Millenia of blood and triumph and tears
Laughing and eating and shopping
And remembering
Always remembering our time
With just us

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Orchids Are Fascinating - And Wait Till You Hear Why

I love words. I love all the various languages that feed into the words we use here in America, and all the origins and offshoots that go with those words. One of the things I've done with both of my kids when teaching them how to read is to look at the root word of something with a prefix or a suffix and see how many ways you can use it - this can help you determine a word's meaning or the general gist of it if you're unfamiliar. Like aquatic and aqueduct both deal with water, so an aquanaut is someone who explores the water.

I'm always fascinated by the origin of words and my trivia-loving brain is always on the lookout for little word tidbits. This weekend, I came across a couple of live ones.

Take orchids, for example.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Check Out This Great Point-Of-View Video About Autism

The National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom has a load of great YouTube videos that you should watch. I wanted to shout out one of their videos today because I think it really gives a great perspective into the world that people with autism have to navigate every day:

In addition to their Youtube channel, their website is full of great resources and support. Check them out and give the videos a view - and don't forget to pass them along!

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 16 Recap: One Book To Rule Them All

We open tonight on the Black Fairy, gleefully flying Gideon to her dark cavernous lair, where the children she's stolen mine her dark fairy dust in eternal, miserable servitude.

She find the copy of Her Handsome Hero that Belle tucked in with the baby and tosses it aside after ascertaining his name from the inscription.

A decade or so later, we see young Gideon reading Her Handsome Hero in his cell to an excited boy named Roderick who shares the neighboring cell. The Black Fairy shows up and finds the book he'd stolen back. Gideon tells her that he thinks his real mother gave the book to him so he'll remember to be a hero.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fun On A Friday - Help Yourself To A Big Ol' Serving Of NOPE

Welcome to Friday and another fun-filled edition of the world of NOPE. Let's get right to it, shall we? We'll start with a bit of advice: Never irritate a Huntsman spider:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Are Your "Small Pleasures?"

It rained last weekend, and I also happened to be kid-free. I woke up Saturday morning, heard the rain coming down, and I burrowed down under my comforter as the cat snuggled in next to me. Oh, it was just cozy. So nice.

Then I went downstairs, made a mug of good Irish tea, lit a spiced-apple candle, opened up a book and read for awhile, with the rain pattering softly in the background.

It's the simple stuff that just fills you up, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: There's Always Time For Belly Scratches

Yes, I'm supposed to be
But you see, there's this kitty
That needs a belly scratch
And that takes priority
If I value the flesh on my hand
So you'll excuse me
As I pay court
And give the kitty his due
Until he bites me
To tell me we're done with this
For now

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sex Education - Or Lack Thereof

When I was in eighth grade, we were going to get sex education in our PE class for eight weeks. The school sent a paper home with the details, including the detailing of the course, which contained discussion about teen pregnancy, STD's and birth control.

My mother was not happy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Just A Reminder About A Great Autism Resource: Sesame Street!

Saturday was World Autism Awareness Day (as my Facebook and Twitter accounts screamed all day) and April is Autism Support Month. I'm going to be using Mondays throughout the month to try to highlight some terrific resources, and I'm going to kick it off with the grandaddy of all educational resources - Sesame Street!

Did you know that in addition to their autistic character, Julia, they also have an entire website filled with resources for parents and children alike, teaching inclusiveness, acceptance, and diversity. In addition, they have these amazing Daily Routine Cards for parents of children on the spectrum, since the use of "storyboarding" is such a helpful tool for children with autism.

Here's a sample of one of the many terrific videos you can find there:

There's a lot to see and do and learn on the site - give it a look!

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 15 Recap: Give Snow Another Beer, Please

We begin tonight with a fuming David, who has apparently just learned that Hook killed his father. Emma (the tattletale) is bummed that Hook left, and Daddy David is there to hug her heartache away.

And now we splash into the Natilus as it's being sucked into a portal. Oh, look, there's Liam! You know, there's not much of a resemblance on these Jones brothers, but they do have the same prominent forehead veins. So there's that.

Killian demands that they turn the ship around but their portal-jumping device is damaged and they need Kraken's blood to recharge it. Killian is, of course, now determined to find a Kraken.

List of things that make a portal:
  1. Magic Beans
  2. Mad Hatter's Hat
  3. Wishing Star
  4. Black Fairy's Wand
  5. Ruby Slippers
  6. Genie's Wish
  7. Kraken Blood
And of all those things, Rumplestiltskin couldn't get his hands on one? 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Signs Point To Fun On A Friday!

It's Friday and a big weekend for me. First of all, I'll be signing copies of my YA Fantasty novel, TRAVELER at the Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA on Saturday at 1pm. If you're in the Philly burbs and want an autographed copy, stop by!

So that's Saturday, and then on Sunday, Anna is turning sixteen! I can hardly believe it. And don't forget, Sunday is also World Autism Awareness Day! Lots of activities going on all over the country - take part if you can!

So that's my rocking weekend - and to ease us all into the weekend groove, here's a collection of signage to point the way.

Do they have to spell it out for you?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Retirement Is Just Not In The Cards For A Lot Of Us

As I've gotten older, more and more of my high school and college friends are posting about being that much closer to retirement. Some of them have planned well and are even close enough to have a countdown clock going.


Well, I've had to make peace with the fact that I am most likely never going to be able to retire.

I mean, never. Never ever.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: The Belle Of The Ball

His first birthday party invitation since the 4th grade
A real party, with a DJ and everything
He was so excited
And I was so grateful
When he arrived they shouted his name
All these friends of his
And the last I saw of him
He was enveloped in a hugging bunch of girls
Waving over his shoulder to me as they left
Not even bothering to look back
I thanked the girl and her parents
For remembering my son
And eyes were wet and hugs were tight
Because they have a son like mine
And they know, oh they know
Just how much that invitation meant
To all of us


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And Now For The Big Announcement: We're Going To London!

Back in December, something wonderful happened, but I had to wait until spring to tell you what it was. Now I can officially spill the beans. 

I won the big raffle prize at the office Christmas party: a $1000 gift certificate to our travel agent. So with that in hand and a generous tax return, I decided to give my daughter a 16th birthday to remember.

Dudes. We're going to London! In 15 days!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Special Needs Parenting Is A Life Changing Thing

I want to give a big shoutout to The Mighty, for putting together this outstanding video featuring snippets of wisdom from real, live special needs parents. All of this is just spot-on. Give it a watch.

Tonight we begin with a flashback to the Enchanted Forest, where the Evil Queen is searching unsuccessfully for Snow White. Daddy Henry warns her once again that revenge on Snow isn't getting her any points with the villagers, and in strolls Tinkerbell.

It's great to see her, even though I have no idea how the hell that fits in continuity-wise since she's supposed to be in Neverland, but whatever. Tink reminds Regina she threw her chance at love away and then begs her to go find the guy with the Lion tattoo and take a chance on love. The Queen is hacked off, but she spares Tink's life so we can meet her later in Neverland, I guess.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Happy Fun Friday! It's Time For "What Did I Just Watch?"

Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth the last couple of days, but I was fighting a bug that left me feeling wrung out and pathetic. I'm only slightly less pathetic today, but that's enough to be able to share this list of horrors and funky stuff to ease you into your weekend. So welcome to another edition of "What the hell did I just watch?"

This is eyelid weightlifting. Yes, you read that right.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Today Is National Single Parent Day! Show Some Love!

Today is National Single Parent Day, and while that's a lovely commemoration, I highly doubt I'll be marching in a parade, or find a restaurant that offers a single parent special on the menu.

You may think there's not much to celebrate about being a single parent, and while it's not ideal (and not what I'd planned, certainly), it's not all bad.

It's been seven years since my ex walked out the door. We've found our own groove, my kids and me. It's been seven years of weekend sleepovers in the living room, campouts in the back yard, movie nights and popcorn catching contests, new traditions and spontaneous hikes and picnics - mainly because that's just about all the social activity I can afford most days.

It's been a lot of good memories, but yeah, it's not always easy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's The First Day Of Spring (I Think . . .)

That, my friends, is one of the many daffodils planted around the office complex where I work. The poor things never stood a chance against a foot of snow, and freezing temperatures that are just now seeing it start to melt.

This has officially been the weirdest winter I have ever experienced. It's been freakishly warm and our only real "snow event" hit us a good month after most of the snow is usually over around here. It is decidedly unsettling.

I've also noticed a serious increase in the amount of wind in the last year. I've always lived in a somewhat breezy area, but this year? Nuts! Wind nearly every day and frequently gale-force stuff. 

It all makes me wonder what kind of summer we're in for. Yeeesh.

Well anyway, Happy First Day of Spring, which is coincidentally International Happiness Day (and the birthday of Mr. Rogers)! Here, have some bunnies!

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 13 Recap: Potions, Proposals, & A Whole Lot Of The F Word

We begin our tale this evening smack in the middle of the first Ogres war, where a nervous young soldier is bolstered by the one and only Beowulf, who possesses the magical sword Hrunting, which is infused with light magic. He leads the attack with sword held high, and the poor nervous soldier gets squished between an ogres toes.

Beowulf takes on the most badass ogre of them all and nearly loses the sword when Rumplestiltskin suddenly appears, killing all the ogres at once with the power of the dagger of The Dark One, thereby ending the war.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Top O' The Mornin'! And A Happy St. Paddy's Day Friday!

It's time again for the wearing of the green and the usurping of another nationality all in the name of frivolity!

As someone with a good deal of Irish blood, and someone who has finally stood on the auld sod, I wish you the happiest of St. Patrick's Days. Let's have a laugh!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Few Suggestions For Responding To A D*ck Pic

That's right. Somebody sent me a d*ck pic today, via my Twitter messages. Friended me a while back but I don't know him or interact with him. Completely unsolicited. He thought I was "cute" and he hoped I enjoyed it. I did not, in particular.

Not that I didn't appreciate someone reaching out to me, but just not with that particular appendage. I prefer to meet those in person, and after a thorough vetting process that doesn't involve Russia or big money donors.

Anyway, here's a slew of random pictures and gifs that you can save and send to anyone who graces you with an unsolicited d*ck pic. Enjoy!

Middle school is over, fellas

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Just To Be Near You

I sit down with my laptop
And she sits down next to me
Curled up on the pillow
Wanting to be near
Just in case I need her
Or she needs an ear scratch
Mostly, though
She just wants just to be near
It gives me a warm sort of happy
Fuzzy feline love
Is good love

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hey! I Lived Through My Divorce!

I got a Facebook message a few days ago that absolutely made my day. A reader from my long-ago days as the Divorce Blogger for Woman's Day reached out to me to say she found my blog when she was going through her own divorce, and she thanked me for making her feel like she wasn't going through it alone.

I honestly felt like I'd been hugged by an old friend. So much of that time is honestly just a blur to me now. Everything was so focused on working, writing blogs (both of which made money that was desperately needed), paying bills and figuring out the new normal. I didn't have a lot of time for much else, and maybe that's a good thing. Losing the life you'd planned and the guy you'd always thought was your soulmate on the heels of your child's autism diagnosis is not something you skip right over on your way to happily ever after.

But here I am.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Special Books By Special Kids Is A Youtube Channel You Need To Watch

Today, I'd like to call your attention to a YouTube channel that deserves a lot of love. Special Books by Special Kids is the love child of teacher , who started the series as a way to show the world an insider glimpse of the daily lives of the children he teaches.

The program expanded when other special needs kids saw his videos and asked to be included in the series, branching it out to include children with rare diseases as well as disabilities.

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Friday! Sign Me Up For FUN!

It's Friday, and after a week of wearing flip-flops and short-sleeved shirts, it's snowing here in PA. Nature is seriously unhinged this year. But I won't let that get me down - not when there's a world of silly signage to take my mind off the cold.

Like this one - how many people do you think have tried?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring Cleaning Time Is Here - Can't I Just Sell The House?

Yes, it's that time of year again. A time when we pick up our caddy, add in our eco-friendly cleaning products, artfully drape our gloves over the side, stack up our sponges and say:


Oh, wait, I mean, "LET'S GET TO WORK!"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's International Woman's Day - Meet Ursula Franklin

Ursula Franklin was a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a renowned physicist and women’s advocate. Born in Germany in 1921 to a Jewish mother, Ursula Franklin was forced by the Nazis to discontinue her chemistry and physics studies at Berlin University during WWII. She was shipped off to a forced labor camp, while her parents were sent to concentration camps. Thankfully, all three survived and were reunited after the war, and Ursula was able to complete an experimental physics PhD program at the Technical University of Berlin. 

Ursula soon moved to Canada, where she became a professor at the University of Toronto and was first female professor to receive the school’s highest honor. She helped develop the field of archaeometry, in which materials science techniques are used to analyze archeological artifacts. She also used similar techniques to investigate levels of radioactivity in children’s teeth, leading to restrictions on nuclear weapons testing. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dudes. This Author Stuff Is HARD.

So my book finally launched, and I'm in final edits for book 2 of that series. I'm getting good reviews, I'm getting good press, and life is clipping right along. 

But it's hard. I mean, it is seriously hard.

The problem seems to be that I need to be rich in order to write and be a writer the way I want to be. 

Don't get me wrong - I can write. I can write just about anywhere and under any circumstances (thank you, autism parenting for that skill) but you really do that better when you don't have a day job that suddenly kicked into high gear, and you don't have primary custody of your kids (never thought I'd be grateful for being divorced, but if the kids didn't go to their Dad's every other weekend, I'd get even less done) and you'd definitely do it better if you had a couple of people to handle your social media stuff.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Once Upon A Time – Season 6, Episode 11 Recap: A Swan By Any Other Name

Hallelujah, the hiatus ends at last! And with the fate of our dear series hanging in the balance, we take on this second half not knowing where the hell we're going, which is pretty much how this show has felt since about season three, so I'm game.

We begin this evening in Minneapolis where grade-school Emma is living under a bridge and burning pages from a book to stay warm. A mysterious boy-band wannabe begs her not to burn her book - especially the story about the Ugly Duckling. "The best fairytales are about transformation," he tells her. "The duck was always a swan, but didn't know it," Emma disagrees. He reminds her that the duckling had to believe strong enough in order to become a swan.

Later we see her turning herself in to the child welfare office that her new friend brought her to. Young Emma gives herself the new last name of Swan.