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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ellie's Netflix Picks : Under An Arctic Sky

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I spent entirely too much time lolling around on the couch and watching Netflix. I got sucked into The Office for a good span, saw a mediocre movie with an all-star cast (Swept From the Sea, if you were wondering) and happened to catch a Netflix documentary that had me simultaneously gasping in wonder and scratching my head at the absolute insanity of its subjects.

Monday, November 26, 2018

In Order To Secure My Son's Future, I Have To Take Away Something He Loves

I have a dilemma.

Part of my job as a parent - and especially as an autism parent - is to make absolutely sure that my son will be able to live as independent a life as possible when he reaches adulthood.

David needs to learn a skill. His sister has been making college visits and college is a topic of conversation in the house on a nearly daily basis right now. David is caught up in the excitement and of course he thinks this is going to be him in a few years. I've had to have some gentle but firm conversations reminding him that college isn't for everybody and some people just like to go to work. So in keeping with that I've been looking at the local vocational school that works with our school district and they happen to have an excellent culinary program.

David is currently in a cooking class and loves it to death. David's father is also quite an accomplished cook and comes from a family full of chefs and kitchen managers. David and Anna have grown up cooking with both me and their father, and David has expressed some interest in going into hospitality work. There's just one problem.

In order for David to begin culinary classes at the vocational school next year (his sophomore year) the curriculum calls for him to drop all electives. He will have his core educational classes in one half of the day and Vo-Tech in the second half of the day. That means David will no longer be allowed to take chorus.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ellie's Netfix Picks: The Tigers of Scotland

Last weekend, the weather turned colder, and I snuggled under a fuzzy throw on the couch and lost myself in the Scottish highlands with a group of beautiful cats.

The Tigers of Scotland is a documentary about the breeding and conservation of the endangered Scottish wildcat. Narrated by actor Ian Glenn (that's Jorah Mormont for you Game of Thrones fans) in his native Scottish accent, it's a feast for the eyes along with a real education as to what it takes to save a dying species.

The cats are majestic and beautiful, the subject is compelling, and the cinematography is breathtaking. At just under an hour, it's more than worth your time.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Fifteen Years Ago, I Became An Autism Parent

Fifteen years ago, I became an autism parent.

I had no idea at the time, of course. It would take another three years before I got the label anf he (and I) got the help we needed to navigate this strange, new world.

It hasn't always been easy. Any autism parent will tell you that. They'll tell you of the frustrations and fears. Of the challenges and big triumphs over tiny things. So no, it hasn't always been easy.

But sometimes, it has.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

5 Things I Learned From Being The Child Of A Soldier

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I grew up a military child. My father is a Purple Heart Veteran of the United States Air Force and spent most of his adult life as a military man. My brothers were USAF as well. I grew up moving from place to place for a lot of my childhood, and my mother, God rest her soul, was a wonderful military wife.

And in the spirit of the Memorial Day weekend upon us, I'd like to share these things that I learned, being the child of a soldier:

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sometimes You Just Have To Ask For Help

Remember me?
Long time no see. I'd love to tell you that my life is just so deliciously busy that the blogging has been very hard to fit into it - but it just isn't so.

The truth of the matter is my life sucks a lot right now. I mean a whole lot. I mean more than I can handle. And if you've been following this blog and following my blog before that it Woman's Day, you know I can handle a lot.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Children With A Sibling On The Autism Spectrum Often Display Social And Emotional Difficulties, Study Says

I've often written about the inherent difficulties and sacrifices (and unseen rewards) that go with being the sibling of a child on the autism spectrum, and now we see hard evidence that kids with an autistic sibling have a lot more to work against than kids with neurotypical siblings.

This study compiled data from 69 separate studies that involved 6,679 children with an autistic sibling and 21,263 controls (or kids with neurotypical siblings).

The study found the following:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I Sweat Cinnamon And See Neon Words In The Sky (But I Can Explain, Really . . .)

Okay that sounds bizarre and that's only because it is. Ever since I came back from the hospital life has changed in a multitude of ways.

It begins every morning with pure frustration as I try to dress mostly one-handed. Ever try to pull up pants with only one hand? Give it a whirl sometime, I guarantee you'll be breaking out all sorts of curse words. Then try curling or straightening your hair with a scalding hot curling or straightening iron - but again only one hand! I think by the time I head out the door to go to work I've cursed enough to fill most people's yearly quota.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Time For Some More Bathroom Humor!

Yes, it's time to play the game of porcelain thrones! It amazes me that I've found enough material to do several of these posts already. What can I say, I hang in some odd places on the internet. Let's start with art!

(Don't ask me why 'cause I don't know)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don't Kid Yourself - Verbal Abuse Is Abuse

At the gas station last night, pumping gas. Car at the pump next to me has a guy and girl sitting in it. He just finished pumping gas and their windows are down. I barely gave them a passing glance until he started yelling. He was angry. I mean very, very angry. Arms waving, screaming at her over and over again that she was stupid. Really, really "f**king stupid." She was doing her best to make herself as small as possible. And to stifle her tears because he screamed at her for those, too.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Another Autism Worry - What About The Airport?

I'm sharing this story today, because it's so perfectly illustrates one of the many scenarios that we as autism parents - and also that our children as people with autism - have to navigate in daily life.

I've flown with David a handful of times now. When he was younger, a simple "My child has autism" was explanation enough for airport security personnel. They let me repeat their instructions to him if necessary, and while they weren't always patient, they didn't make any problems for us either. On a few occasions they would allow David to step out of the line and they'd run a wand over him and send us on our way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: She Survived And Thrived

She stood ahead of me in the customer service line
Her little girl caught my eye immediately
Adorable in the extreme
Cute as a button
And Mom, unashamedly and enthusiastically playing with her
Uncaring of who was watching
Laughing and giggling and booping her nose
Waving arms in the air
Turning in circles as they did a little dance  
It took me a few moments to notice her scars
Standing out vividly on her back
Some were tangled, knotted, ugly
Some were straight, surgical, precise
Whatever it was that did this to her
Whatever it was that she had to go through to recover from it
She did it
And she is clearly reveling in every moment of her life
I wanted to high-five her
And say "Look at us!
We made it!"
I gave them a smile and a nod
Then I drove home and danced with my son

Just because

Monday, August 27, 2018

If You Won The Lottery - Where Would Your Money Go?

When I was a kid, my mom and I used to watch a lot of old movie musicals. There was one we used to watch at Christmas-time titled The Lemon Drop Kid. In one of his musical numbers, the male and female lead sing a song called "It Doesn't Cost A Dime To Dream", wherein they fantasize about how they would spend all their money if they ever someday became rich.

The lyrics still stick in my head even though it's been decades since I've seen this movie. They go something like this:

We'll have a maid
Who has a maid
Who has a maid to serve the two maids lemonade

We will spend our dough
Just like H2O
'Cause it doesn't cost a dime to dream

I'm sure we've all played this game. Every time Powerball gets huge we we put an office pool together and buy tickets. I sometimes even buy one for myself - never more than one,though. I know that buying $300 worth of lottery tickets when 46 million other people are playing doesn't really better your odds.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Don't Worry, Mom

Nine years ago, he left the Intermediate unit to mainstream into kindergarten with his peers. I was terrified. I kept dropping my pen from my shaking hand all through the transitional meeting. But his teacher reached over and squeezed my hand and said, "Hey, he's gonna be just fine. He's got this." 

She was right. 

He starts high school on Monday, and as always, he's got this.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Time For Another Edition Of "What The Hell Am I Looking At?"

We made it through another week, folks, and now it's time to ask the age-old question:  what in hell am I looking at? I guarantee these pics will leave you with an odd look frozen on your face.

Japan. Of course.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Netflix Picks: The Tragic Beauty Of Our Vanishing Coral Reefs

This week, we're taking a trip underwater to a magical world most people have only glimpsed in a Pixar animated film. Our coral reefs are a place of wonder - and now, thanks to very real climate issues, they're becoming a watery graveyard.

This is a short film that will take your breath away and fill you with equal portions of awe and grief.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Impulse Control And Autism Can Be A Frustrating (And Scary) Combination

One of the perks of my day job is that I occasionally get invited by local hotels to tour their meeting and conference space. The tour almost always ends with a small gift - usually a mug or a pen or a bag of candy or fresh baked cookies, but sometimes if they're really trying to land my business I get a gift certificate for a complimentary night at the hotel. I was awarded two of these at two different hotels last fall and held onto them since they're good for an entire year. Both of these hotels have pools that are outdoor only and Lord knows David loves to swim.

Going to a hotel is a real treat for us because it's not something we get to do often. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to cash one in and away we went for a day of fun and sun and splashing coupled with walking around the local mall and plans to see a movie after we checked out the next day.

Friday, August 3, 2018

And Today In The News . . . Check Out These Hilarious Headlines

I know, I know . . . I've been a negligent blogger. I started back to work at the day job, and physically, it's been a challenge. Exhaustion is my new best friend, and trying to fit stuff in around it (or despite it) has not been easy. I'm getting back into the groove now, and I promise, more blogs from this point on.

In the meantime, it's Friday and I'm ready to have a laugh and go home.Let's kick the weekend off with this collection of newsworthy items.

That's some pig!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Survived San Diego Comic-Con! Go Me!

Yep, that's me in the middle - sitting on an author panel at San Diego Comic-Con International last Saturday. It was amazing. It was outrageous fun. 

Okay, it was exhausting. But worth it. So very, very worth it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Netflix Picks: Fall In Love With Our National Parks

Originally an IMAX feature at Smithsonian, National Parks Adventure was a breathtaking bit of joy to be found on Netflix. Narrated by the great Robert Redford, this short film takes you from Yellowstone to Chaco Canyon, from Hawaii to Niagara, on a breathtaking tour of some of America's most picturesque national parks.

From the opening aerial shots set to the strains of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, this film will hold you spellbound and leave you planning a road trip around the wonders of our nation's protected lands.

Check it out - you'll be awed and amazed.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Netflix Picks: A Journey To Healing Through A Photographer's Eye

One of the things I did during my long recuperation is watch a lot of Netflix. I was looking for yoga programs because my physical therapist had recommended yoga to combat my muscle spasticity issues and hopefully to give me further insight into pain management.

What I found was the story of a man recovering from a devastating injury through yoga, and a fascinating journey through the lens of his camera that taught me far more about humanity than yoga. This was one beautiful trip.

Monday, July 9, 2018

I Am Working Woman, Hear Me Roar (In Pain)

Well, I did it. I survived my first week back at the day job.

All in all, it went pretty well. I chose an easy week - most of the office was away for the holiday, and with July 4th falling on Wednesday, I got a bonus day off in the middle of the week. It turns out that was insanely helpful.

Monday went by quickly, and was mostly spent visiting with coworkers and catching up, weeding through 4 months of emails ( they numbered in the thousands), and just trying to re-acclimate. I did a lot of walking around our office complex, and even made myself take the stairs a few times just because I felt like I could. I got home Monday night, sat down on the couch, and the tired hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized I may have overdone it a little, and dragged myself upstairs to bed at eight o’clock.

Tuesday I was a little more tired, but still managing well. I got home from work, sat down on the couch and couldn't get up again. I slept through my evening medications, and woke up at 2 a.m. wracked with pain. I dragged myself up to bed, very grateful that I had the day off on Wednesday.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Big Day For Me - I'm Back To Work!

That's right! Today I'll be dialing back the muscle relaxers and sliding into a cubicle - just another forward step to getting my life back. Do I feel 100% ready? Hell no, but it's time. It's not going to be easy, but my employer and my coworkers are all terrific and working to support me through the transition back to working life. 

I'm excited. I'm scared. But I'm back.

Baby steps.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fun On A Friday - Check Out The Array Of Bar Signs

It's Friday! Not that it means much to me sitting on my couch every day, but this particular Friday is my last couch potato Friday since I return to my day job on Monday. I'm nervous, but it's time. I need the rest of my life back.

So let's have some Friday fun and check out this assortment of bar signs, shall we?

Good Question.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Thank You, Paul McCartney, You Were Just What I Needed

I simply adore James Corden and his Carpool Karaoke series. The musical theatre girl in me just eats that stuff up. And it's not just because of the great music or getting to see some of my favorite artists in a more casual setting. A lot of the joy in that series comes from watching how much fun James Corden has doing it.

And that brings me to his latest installation: Paul McCartney. To say this is epic would be an understatement I'm sure that James Corden will be remembering this all the way to his death bed. It hit me pretty hard as well, but for my own reasons.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Great Big (Terrifying) Bucket List Thing

For those of you who don't follow my author blog or Instagram account, I had a major announcement today. Major for me, anyway, and on more than one level.

Yep, that's yours truly, sitting on an author panel at San Diego Comic-Con next month. Attending Comic-Con has been a bucket list item for me for ages. Just the attending. Never in my wildest dreams would I have pictured myself on an author panel there when I first started writing. Hell, I was just hoping to get published someday. 

So yea, big, big deal for me.Me, the recovering stroke patient.

I spoke with my physical therapist and my doctor before I ever agreed to take this on, and they both think I can do it, as long as I pace myself. My physical therapist has me training like I'm in a marathon. This is going to be a challenge, but a great one, I think.

No guts, no glory, right?

This is big. And I am ready for big, which is, well, big.

See you in San Diego!

Friday, June 15, 2018

These Guys Really Do The Dad Thing With Flair!

Ahhh, fathers. They're strong and supportive and find innovative ways of parenting that keep moms shaking their heads in the background. We love their dorky clothes and corny dad jokes. Father's Day is almost upon us, so lets check out some guys who've really got the Dad thang goin' on.

First, they begin at Dad Training Camp . . .

Friday, June 1, 2018

Time For An Edition Of "What The Hell Am I Looking At?"

I'm still home and off work for a while, so I've got time (and plenty of crazy friends who share odd stuff) so you get to sift through this collection of wildly wrong stuff. Let's begin!

Lookin' sexy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Forgetting Your Child In A Car: Don't Think It Can't Happen To You

Over the weekend, someone in a Facebook group I belong to posted a link to an article with helpful tips to keep you from accidentally leaving your baby in a hot car. It suggested putting your laptop bag, purse, or cellphone in the backseat so that you're forced to open the back door and look in the back seat.

Unfortunately, the poster added this comment: "What kind of idiot leaves their kid in the car?"

"A drug addict, probably," added another commenter.

"If you have to put your cellphone in the backseat to keep from forgetting your child, you've got major problems," another chimed in.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Some Days, You Just Can't

It's been a rough week.

My pain level went from about an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10 to somewhere around 12 and decided to hang out there.

Paperwork and red tape and circuitous logic from the insurance companies I'm dealing with is making my head swim, and believe me my head is swimming enough with some of the medication they've got me on.

All of this with the book deadline approaching, and a return to the day job looming on the not so far away horizon.

Thee honest truth? I need to be on a beach somewhere. Like, for the rest of my life. But I don't get that life I get this one, and once I'm over this hump I'll make the most of it. It's just slow going right now.

Thanks for listening to me whine. I promise, we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

5 Great Sites For History Lovers

One of the big perks of being a writer is I get to indulge my addiction to history and cultures. I've always sworn that if I hadn't studied the arts, I would have been a cultural anthropologist. History is about stories, after all - of people, of places, of the things that were cherished, or left behind, or passed down. Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, during my research travels across the web, I'm come across some great collections and archive sites. You can fall down a rabbit hole into each one of these and not connect with reality for several hours.

Friday, May 11, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Kick The Weekend Off With A Whole Bunch Of NOPE

It took you a minute to feel the full horror of that pic, didn't it?  Now you probably want to go wash your hand, but there's no time for that - we've got a great big wonderful world of NOPE to explore!

I'm sure you'll want to look your best before our journey - better get a haircut:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Being An Introvert Makes For Difficulty - Married Or Single

One of the many things that affected our relationship back in my married days was the fact that I was an introvert and married a social butterfly. While my idea of a great evening was being cuddled up on the couch next to him eating food that had preferably been delivered or picked up on the way home from work, his idea of a great night was being out somewhere - a restaurant, a movie, or a bar (not that he was some sort of drunk or anything he just like the festive atmosphere of being at a bar with his friends). 

Happy hours were his forté, while to me they were a form of personal torture. First of all, I don't drink much - mainly because I'm a lightweight and I don't especially like the feeling of being drunk. So there I am at a happy hour nursing one drink over the course of however long I'm stuck there, making small, talk standing around because there's almost never anywhere to sit. I don't play pool either - so unless there's a wicked trivia contest going there's really not much to interest me at a bar for more than about half an hour.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Time For A Little More Bathroom Humor!

This is the third bathroom humor post I've done now, and it boggles my mind that there's enough bathroom fodder to keep on going with this. I am flush with bathroom fodder! Flush, I tell you! And on that note, away we go . . .

This apartment was billed as a "one bed efficiency."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Settling Into The New Normal

It's amazing how resilient a human being can be. Friday will be two months since I had my stroke, and now I'm settling in to what I call The New Normal.

The New Normal means it's going to take me twice as long and sometimes three times, to do anything. Cooking dinner? Twice as long to chop the vegetables, twice as long to get the packaging open on any kind of meat or side item, twice as long to pack the leftovers away to container, all because it all has to be done one-handed.

Going to the movies? Or the Mall? I'll need my cane - its a visual signal in a busy place that I'm going to be moving slowly, so give me some room, please. I wear my arm sling, too even without the cane because my awkward arm frequently unbalances me with the way it swings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Healthy Eating Is Now Part Of My Glamorous Lifestyle

Ever since I got out of the hospital, I have been reveling in a world of decent edible food. After three weeks on a hospital diet ,my palate has altered dramatically - and that's a good thing. To say I used to be a salt-aholic would be an understatement. I'm telling you, I would salt my mother before I kissed her. Eating something is simple as fried chicken involved peeling the skin off (because chicken skin is gross) and then salting the meat underneath. In addition to that, I poured an extra pile of salt on my plate to dip the chicken into. I'm not kidding about any of that. When I was a kid, if we had ham at Easter or Christmas, I would salt my ham. So, yeah, the salt thing was a bit extreme.

Now that I know my stroke was partially caused by undiagnosed high blood pressure, I look at salt with very different eyes. It's impossible to eliminate it entirely from your diet, but whoa Nelly, have I cut back. When we go to the movies I allow myself one small fistful of popcorn and that's it. Mexican food? Three tortilla chips with salsa and that's it. And as far as the salt shaker goes at home, I get one shake on whatever it is I'm eating, and the list of things I give salt to has been easily cut by two-thirds.

I am also adding more fruits and vegetables into my diet. The problem is, all of this requires a lot of prep time, cutting and chopping vegetables, figuring out how I want to combine them and season them with the grilled chicken or lean meat on cooking them with or with the quinoa I'm serving them over. And that my friends, is work - and a lot of it. My fatigue level is still pretty high, and I'm also still on a strong dose of muscle relaxesr that isn't necessarily conducive to holding a large, sharp kitchen knife.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Autism Research Study Recruitment Request - With Gift Card Incentive!

I saw this posted on Reddit in their autism community and thought I would pass it along. A doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Binghamton University (SUNY) is conducting dissertation research investigating how parents of children with autism make decisions regarding their child's treatment.

Here are all the specifics:

Looking for parents of children with ASD to take an online survey about how they view themselves, how they make decisions, and about their experience with specific treatments. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and participants will have the option to be entered in a drawing where five people will be selected to each receive a $50 gift card.

Click here to the link to the survey.

If you have further questions you can email the author of the survey at with any questions.

Friday, April 27, 2018

All Signs Point To Friday! Check Out This Hilarious Collection!

 Hooray! Friday! (Not that I'm punching a clock right now, but I still feel the vibe). Let's get right to the fun stuff.

That's quite the apology.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Young Adult Autism:Let The Talks Begin

David is now fourteen, and he's taller than me. He’s a good sized kid and built like a bull moose. As he's aged into puberty he hasn't lost a bit of his exuberance. Somehow David utterly disproves the myth that kids with autism are introverted and withdrawn. He is, as always unfailingly cheerful and friendly. To him, a stranger is just a friend he hasn't met yet.

And while that's a wonderful sunshiney way of looking at life, it creates a series of problems - particularly when you have a kid who doesn't easily read or understand social cues. Facial expressions are generally lost on him unless they are extreme. Gentle or subtle hints sail right over his head.

So I've had to previously address this on occasion, and those occasions are getting more and more frequent as David's height climbs higher, his voice drops lower, and he's looking less and less like a young teen and more like a grown man.

For instance last night we were in Target. David has been on a Disney kick lately, and he was singing from one of his favorite Disney movies. He was off in the movie section while I was shopping elsewhere in the store and as I headed back to his section I could hear him down the aisle as he was singing. I've spoken with him before about singing loudly in public and I have to keep reminding him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Apologies, Folks . . .

Sorry the blogs have been so sporadic lately, but I've been having a lot of muscle tone issues in my arm and leg as my brain reroutes itself to the muscle groups. This results in a whole lot of aches and pains and tightness that we have to work through extra hard in physical therapy. And that, of course means I have to take my muscle relaxers afterwards,and on top of the fatigue I'm already feeling - which is unreal, by the way - means I'm spending the rest of my day sleeping.

That is, until the muscle relaxers wear off and the pain sets in again. So there's this endless cycle of working my muscles, getting pain from my muscles, and medicating my muscles. Work, sleep, work, sleep. And somewhere in there, I'm supposed to be writing my next book! And blogging! And keeping up with all the social media I need to keep up with, particularly since my second book just came out last week. It's more than a little overwhelming.