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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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

My London Diary, Day 4: Marbled Baths, Cobblestones And Big Neolithic Rocks

Our one big extravagance on this trip was the tour I booked for our final full day (which really wasn't our final full day, thanks to a flight reschedule - but that's another story). On Easter Sunday, we got up bright and early (for Anna, anyway) and boarded a bus for a cruise through the English countryside. Even through the tinted bus window, the landscape looked like a big, lush quilt of green.