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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

These People Have Mad Skillz - And In Great Variety

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Ellie, it's a frog." Nope. That, my friends, is a carving of a frog - chiseled and shaped out of red agate, to be precise (click on the pic to see all the detail - it's amazing). The artist is Gerd Dreher, and you can see some of his other work here

I'm always astounded by anyone with that level of talent, and that doesn't just apply to art. Here's a smattering of people (and non-people) with some mad skills that I find particularly impressive.

This is a sand sculpture:

Monday, January 29, 2018

Many Museums - Including The Smithsonian - Offer Special Hours For Kids With Autism

In 2011, The Smithsonian complex of museums began opening its doors 90 minutes early for children on the autism spectrum and their families. Groups are kept small and structured (so that while the museum exhibits can change, the structure of the program remains the same - small group activities, demonstrations, etc.). Lights are slightly dimmed, and sound is turned off on many interactive exhibits that feature a noise component. With smaller groups, there are not bustling crowds to navigate and no uncomfortable waiting in lines. 

The program also provides a visual storyboard of the schedule, a tip sheet with parking, restroom maps and basic sensory information for parents. They also set up a break space on the concourse level filled with large mats, pillows and sensory toys like fidgets and stress balls.

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Presented Without Comment" - Pictures & Gifs That Leave You Scratching Your Head

Sometimes in my internet journeys, I come across a picture or a video that either defies explanation, or just plain doesn't need one but I'm transfixed by it anyway. I like to group these together and present them without comment - mainly because I'm a lazy blogger.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

With A Special-Needs Child, There's A Lot Of "If"

This morning, I started my day with my son's yearly IEP meeting. For those of you with not-special-needs kids, that stands for Individualized Education Plan. Once a year, David's father and I meet with his teachers and therapists to discuss his progress, his challenges, and the support services he will be receiving to help him succeed and meet defined progress goals.

We used to do this without David, but since he turned 13, he's now required to be a part of them, though it mostly seems to swirl around him in a jumble of words. He knows he's doing good, he knows he needs to work a little harder at some things. But this year, we added a new element: life after high school.

David starts high school this fall. Holy cow. David starts high school this fall.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: The Fragility Of Mobility

When she was a baby, she didn't walk
She went straight into a run
No hesitation
Just pulled herself up, pushed our hands away, and zoom
She was the toddler at the beach
Who ran into the waves
Always ready to go, this one
Now she's met the milestone
And the license is in her hand
The world is out there
As she pulls out of the driveway
I try hard not to think
That it won't be long before she's truly gone
Wind in her hair
Eyes firmly forward
As she goes
There ought to be a word
For a certain grieving joy

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

These Are My Favorite Addictions - What Are Yours?

Everybody has their things that they just can't get enough of. Sometimes it's harmless, and sometimes it's darker, but we all have our addictions. Today I want to talk about the (mostly) harmless ones. Here's a list of some of the things I can't stay away from:

Frosted Cherry Pop-Tarts. These are a staple in my house. Yes, they must be frosted. And they must be "Pop-Tarts" brand. Anything else is a waste of time.

Stargate: Atlantis. I like original Stargate as well, but Atlantis has more snark, more interesting villains and most importantly, Momoa. This is my go-to "I'll just put this on in the background while I do whatever important thing I won't end up doing because I'll be watching Jason Momoa kick a Wraith's ass." 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Lunaria Adds Another Superhero To Its Comic Book Lineup - And This One Has Autism

Liam Keegan Murray and Brandon Scott Jensen wanted a different sort of superhero - one you don't see often in the world of comic books. They wanted a hero on the autism spectrum, and BLACKOUT brought that dream to life. 

Produced by Jensen Entertainment, BLACKOUT is set in the universe of Lunaria, a new superhero serial starring Willa McCabe- a young news intern who is moonlighting as a costumed vigilante called "Lunaria." She's super-powered and she's ready to kick ass. But after the death of a great super-hero, she must be prepared do something she's never done before- team up with other vigilantes, in order to solve a greater mystery. 

You can order your own copy of BLACKOUT here, or visit the Lunaria Facebook page for more info about the series.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Time For Another Edition Of "What Did I Just See?"

You never know what you're going to find trawling the back alleys and musty corners of the internet. A whole lot of it is stuff you wish you hadn't seen, but once in a while you happen on something relatively tame viewing-wise that still leaves you scratching your head or recoiling in fear and confusion.

So here's my latest collection - enjoy!

Ain't nothin' like a belly of bees to announce your happy news:

For those truly special occasions:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

10 Kids Who Know How To Make Homework Fun

Ah, school days. Endless monotony broken up by bouts of fun and frequent moments of sheer frustration. Homework was never much part of the fun, was it? But these kids know how to rock an assignment. Check out the stuff their teachers had to keep a straight face through! (You can click on any of these to enlarge if you need to)

It pays to know your history:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Autism Barbers Assemble Gives Autism-Friendly Haircuts To Kids On The Spectrum

James Williams (known professionally as "Jim the Trim") is a barber from South Wales with an impressive resume (BBA British Barber of the Year for 2017) who is in high demand for his workshops on haircutting and coloring techniques. He's got a lot on his plate between travel, teaching and special appearances, but somehow he found time to use those skills for some solid good.

James is somewhat of an autism whisperer when it comes to haircuts. A haircut can be a difficult thing for children on the spectrum. They have to sit very still, cut hair can be very itchy (which is a sensory nightmare), the clippers may buzz too loudly near their ears, the smell of disinfecting solutions and hair care products can be overwhelming - in short, it's like navigating a minefield for a child with autism.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Having A Long Commute Is Kind Of Nice, Actually

I drive eighty-two miles each weekday. Forty-one miles up. Forty-one miles back. I have coworkers who find that insane, and I have coworkers who make a scoffing sound and then tell me about their hundred-plus mile commute. I guess it's all a matter of what you can tolerate, or have to tolerate.

It's a "have to" in my case, unfortunately. I live in a rather rural area beyond the western suburbs of a big city (I like to call it "Pennsyltucky") and I love where I live. My neighborhood and town and school district are pretty great. The only downside is the pay scale. When I was last scoping out the job market, I began my interviews as close to home as I could get. We have a moderately-sized city just up the road, and lots of industry around us, and my skill set can work in a large variety of corporate environments. I thought it'd be a cake walk finding something close to home.

I found it, all right--at $15-$20k less a year in salary than I'd had in my previous jobs. If I wanted those salary levels, I had to move into the suburbs closer to the big city. So I settled on a good company with outstanding benefits that was forty-five easy cruising minutes down a major highway that's relatively uncongested out my direction, and eight years later, I'm still making that commute.five days a week.

The truth is, I don't mind it much.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Time For Another Dose Of Bathroom Humor!

I suppose you're all wondering why I called you here today . . .

That's right! Time once again to visit the auspicious chamber that houses the porcelain throne. My travels through the internet have brought me to this place, and I'm taking you down with me as we circle the bowl. Check out these interesting venues!

For when you're expecting company:

If you need just a tiny bit more privacy:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ky's Story: Kids With Autism Grow Into Adults With Autism

Hugo Weaving is an actor known for his roles in The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings series, but did you know he has a family member on the autism spectrum? Hugo would very much like you to meet his nephew, Ky.

The point Hugo and Ky are trying to make is that kids with autism become adults with autism. They have lives, jobs, and challenges that are unique to them which make those lives and jobs more difficult to flesh out for themselves sometimes.

Let's use some understanding and some patience, and let everyone have a shot at a good and fulfilling life.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

This Is NOT How I Wanted To Start My Year

Yep. That's one shredded tire. And while it is an utterly lousy thing, at least it happened driving down the street I live on last night and not on the Pennsylvania Turnpike during my morning commute in 5 degree weather - and traveling 70+ mph.

So, there's that at least.

But shredding the hell out of a tire a week after Christmas? When I'm dead broke? When my daughter is scheduled to take her driver's license test in this vehicle in two days? And we scheduled 6 months ago and barely got a spot so if we reschedule it could be a looooong wait and let me tell you - she ain't happy.

I would joke and say "Things can only go up from here" but in the grand scheme of things, a shredded tire is far from being the worst thing that could happen to me. I've learned not to ever think I'm at the bottom, believe me.


Sorry for the rant. This is just really, really crappy timing. I had a post all played out in my head for today about my goals for the new year, but right now, all I can do is grumble and eat cinnamon rolls. AND I DESERVE THEM AND I'LL HIT YOU IN THE FACE IF YOU TELL ME ANY DIFFERENT.

Back to normal tomorrow, I promise. But for now? You can have my cinnamon roll when you pry it from my frozen, tire-scuffed fingers.