Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Coupla Narcissistic Bloggers Sitting Around Talking About Empathy

Yesterday was another episode of the BlogTalkRadio show that I host along with Big Daddy.  The topic was empathy or the seeming lack thereof in our kids.

As the show progressed it became more and more obvious that we were perhaps the two least equipped people on the face of the earth to have such a discussion.

For those of you who missed out on the show live, you can listen to the recording just by clicking on the blue BlogTalkRadio player in my sidebar over there on the right ==> and below all the BlogHer junk.

Here are just some of the questions that you will be able to answer after you listen in on the show...or if you've already listened, think of it as a pop quiz to see how much you actually absorbed while you were eating lunch/making dinner/watching something else on TV/cleaning up poop/ignoring your kids/all of the above:

  • What is Big Daddy's actual first name?  Or at least the first syllable of it?  Cuz he pretty much spills it about 8 seconds into the show.
  • Under what circumstances, if any, is it appropriate to refer to another person as "it"? 
  • Is Big Daddy at all interested in anything that goes on in the lives of others ever?  *Hint/Spoiler Alert*  No.
  • Are baby gators being eaten alive tragic or hysterically funny?
  • How many pounds would a 270 lb man lose if he vomited for 3 days straight?
  • Which lower body appendage does Big Daddy rarely see, as pointed out by his cardiologist?  Extra Credit:  Does Big Daddy qualify as morbidly obese or just plain old obese?
  • Which awesome bloggers/Tweeps did we name drop and tell their hilarious empathy stories?  You will have to listen to find out!
Choking people that cough, wishing their dogs dead so that they can get a smaller one, wanting Mommy to get better so that she can get back to waiting on them hand and foot...got any other awesome stories about your kid's power of empathy?  Let's hear 'em!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Autism WTF Today!



Today's topic will be empathy.  We'll be discussing the power of empathy (or lack thereof) and how our kids generally deal with their own emotions and the emotions of others... including just why it is that the misfortunes of others is so. damned. funny.

Click HERE at 12:00pm EST / 11:00am CST / 9:00am PST and turn your speakers up!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I Did On My Spring Vacation, By Audrey

Day 1
Spent the night last night at Noni's house.  This morning, watched the same 3 DVD's that I've watched for the past 4 years.
Went to Target.  Cried when I couldn't stop in the Easter candy aisle.
Went to the park that I broke my arm at a year and half ago.  :: intense flashback::
Went home.  Got in trouble for disrupting Dad's work conference call by blasting The Sound of Music soundtrack.  Who uses a speaker phone when I'm around?

Day 2
Accompanied mom to the hospital for Aunt Debbie's epidural nerve block.  Took a little longer than expected.  After Mom's iPhone battery ran out, watched elevator doors open and close for 3 hours.

Getting my hand
stuck in the anti-
bacterial dispenser.
For the 2nd time.
Losing the will to live.
Contemplating
 heaving myself down
the elevator shaft.

Day 3
2 hours of ABA therapy.
Piano lesson.
Looked at Disney World photo album.  Sobbed.

Day 4
2 hours of ABA therapy.
Staged a sit-in when Mom suggested we go see great-grandma in the nursing home.
1 hour of occupational therapy.
Went to CVS.  Cried when I couldn't stop in the Easter candy aisle.

Day 5
Went to Noni's house.  Watched the same 3 DVD's that I've watched for the past 4 years.
Went to Costco.  Mom yelled at me and told me not to dance in the cart corral.
Free samples = Hummus +  fiber bar + energy drink = stomach cramps.
Mom took me to the bathroom.  She said, "By all means, be sure to touch every square inch of the toilet seat and lick the door knob on the way out too, why don't you?"  She said it kind of mad, so I did it.

I never thought that going back to school today would look so good.  T.G.I.M. everybody!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parents Magazine and Autism: We Will Not Hide in Our Bed Tents!

The fabulous and fierce warrior momma J* of Teaching the Boy (don't even try to guess her name...you will never ever get it...OK, it's Jehoshaphina) brought to my attention a discussion thread on the Facebook page of Parents magazine.

Seems that the April issue is out and there is nary a mention of Autism Awareness Month or autism at all.  From what I could gather, it also seems that this is a pattern and a similar discussion ensued this time last year.

What are you bitching about?  They're
giving you 21 discipline tips.  21!
To their credit, there were only about 3 comments in the discussion thread before a representative from Parents chimed in.  To their discredit, that comment included the following:
 "Our April issue does have an item in the Kids Health section about a bed tent for kids with autism..."
I swear, I almost *almost* felt sorry for her.  A bed tent?  Really?  I had to read the comments that followed while squinting and half-covering my eyes.  Yeah, she got her ass handed to her.

I took a particularly personal interest in this topic, because I had pitched an article to Parents last June and they replied that they had just recently published an autism-related article.

I assume that there is some lead time in magazine publishing, so to me the response implied that they didn't publish autism articles very frequently and that, in effect, their "quota" had been met for the century.  Of course, there is the outside chance that they thought I sucked and were just backing away from me slowly.  Nah.

But after the ass-handing, there was this:


We would like to say again how grateful we are for your feedback and for the reminders in the last 48 hours that autism is not just 1 in 110—it’s about real people and real families. We feel that one of the best ways we can educate our readers and raise awareness for autism is through real-life stories. This is why we want to give you the opportunity to share your story with us and our audience as part of a blog series in addition to our planned articles. If you are interested in participating, please email FacebookSupport@meredith.com with the following information:

• Your Name
• Child’s Name
• Living with Autism: Your Family Story (Please keep stories to 500 words so we can include more voices in the blog.)
• Photo of your child/your family (*Optional. We will include one photo if you'd like.)
• Link to your personal blog/website (*Optional.) 

We are very sorry for making you and your families feel dismissed or unappreciated. It was not our intention. Autism is an issue worthy of Parents magazine's attention and we hope we can move forward together to raise awareness throughout April.



So in my best Howard Beale from Network...
I want you to get up now.  I want all of you to get up and crawl out from under those bed tents.  I want you to get up right now and go to your computers and tell them "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore going to tell you my story!"  


Or if you prefer Bluto Blutarsky from Animal House...LET'S DO IT!!!!!!!!!  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wood Chips In My Shoes? It Must Be Spring!

Visit to the ER
waiting to happen.
 
Check out my latest Patch article in which I outline my criteria for which parks I will grace with Audrey's presence.

HINT ==> We avoid scorching, unshaded inducers of heat prostration, havens for water fowl and their droppings, those that are adjacent to any type of sporting field/court, and playground equipment that is too arcane or difficult (see photo) for my little gross-motor challenged honey.

Read all about it HERE!



Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 Ways That Spring Break Doesn't Mean What It Used To

Audrey's Spring Break begins today.

Shit.

I've not been looking forward to it, and it made me realize that the two words "spring" and "break" put together do not have quite the same allure that they used to.

So here are the top 10 ways that Spring Break just isn't what it used to be:

10)  "Wet t-shirt contest" now refers to the game in which I guess the precise combination of bodily fluids, chocolate sauce, and bubble juice that is smeared down the front of me.

9)  Unless you're name is Dani G, you probably aren't rockin' a bikini like you used to.

8)  The stuff that makes my butt itchy is not sand in my swimsuit bottoms.

7)  Instead of hoagie-barin', I'm checking show times for Yogi Bear.  OK, that one sucked.

6)  Now if I hook-slide through a pool of puke, it's entirely inadvertent.

5)  When I was in college, I somehow did not think of it as a completely unnecessary interruption to the school year and a needless disruption of routine.

4)  If I wake up with a strange appendage poking me in the back, it's just Audrey's chin.

3)  I think Jell-O wrestling is a waste of perfectly good Jell-O.

2)  "Belly shots" now refer to jokes made at the expense of Big Daddy's ginormous gut.

And the #1 way in which Spring Break just isn't what it used to be...

1)  No one wants to see my tits.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Never-Can-Say-Goodbye Girl

Audrey does not fit the stereotype of someone with autism who is unable to form emotional attachments to people.  She is very warm and affectionate, and has never had a problem falling in love with all manner of teachers, therapists, family members, and even some kids.

But having said that, when it comes time to bid goodbye to someone, it is seemingly impossible to make her understand that she might not be seeing them for a very long time, or even ever again. 

My father died back in August, and while he wasn't really a fun-loving, hands-on type of grandpa, he was always there in his La-Z-Boy whenever we visited.  We go over to my parents' house every Sunday for dinner, and in the seven months since he passed away she has never once asked where he is.  Back in August, I pondered how to explain his death to Audrey.  I ended up doing nothing because she made it so easy for me to do so, and I figured why belabor it when she just doesn't seem to grasp the concept.

Kitty kisses Audrey goodbye as she wriggles away.
She's the same way with the living.  We relocated from California to Illinois just as Audrey was transitioning out of Early Intervention, so we had to move on in more ways than one from our beloved EI therapist.  Kitty (hi Kitty!) was there for me during the worst time of my life, through all of the anxiety over Audrey's missed milestones as well as her diagnosis.  Audrey and I could not have loved her more.

When it came time to say goodbye, it was for reals.  We were moving far away and wouldn't be able to be a part of each others' lives as we'd had.  It was one of those horrible ugly-cry farewells, but the whole scene went right over Audrey's head. 

Unlike with my Dad, I find myself trying to shake the requisite emotions out of her for the benefit of the person that we're saying goodbye to: 
"THIS IS A VERY SAD THING.  YOU SHOULD BE CRYING.  WE ARE NEVER GOING TO SEE THIS PERSON AGAIN.  REALLY.  NEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVER!!!"

That does seem to get her crying, but probably not for the right reasons.

It must be so hard on teachers to make their goodbyes to children that they've grown attached to and not get any acknowledgment in return.  But I suppose that they're used to it.

Audrey will likely be transitioning out of the school that she's been in for the past couple of years, and when she goes, we'll have to make our goodbyes to teachers, aids, and therapists that she's grown so close to. 

And on her last day of school, she'll will walk out the door just like any other day, and move on along to the next set of teachers and aids that she'll (hopefully) charm the pants off of.  The little heart breaker.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too Bad Hate's Not a 3-Letter Word

There are lots of really cool 3-letter words
in the English language. Like "bug" and "pen".
Anybody else have the game What's Gnu?  The object of the game is to build as many 3-letter words as possible.  It comes with a bunch of cards that each have one of the three letters already filled in.  Then there's this little dispenser that shells out two letter tiles at a time, and you have to find the card that will make a 3-letter word with those tiles.

I know that was a little complicated, and I don't expect Big Daddy to get it, but hopefully the rest of you are following.

So one of our lovely therapists, Raven, was playing the game with Audrey and brought to my attention Audrey's winning array of 3-letter words...


I thought that this was rather..shall we say...interesting, especially in light of that whole hating bliss thing.  Am I raising a little Mistress of the Dark or what?  Cuz that would be super cool. 

It only takes one little 2-letter word to make "Rot in sin, bad ass!!" or "Sin my ass, bad rot!" or best of all "Rot in ass, Sinbad!!"  I'm totally gonna start yelling that out my car window like yesterday. 

On another note, as I was searching for "What's Gnu?" images, I came across this photo of a kid playing the game...

TOU?  PEB?  HA!  Typical kids are D-U-M.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Feelings My Audrey

Audrey has been working on identifying her feelings both at school and within our home ABA program.  Pretty much every feeling that she identifies is provoked by not getting cookies or chocolate.  Which is appropriate relative to "irritated", "mad", "sad", and even "disgusted", but "embarrassed"? 

She came home from school with a "Feelings Book" which I've excerpted below.  I'll save you the math:  fully 7 of the 11 entries are food related.




Really?  Worried?



I feel disgusted when Tim puts ketchup in his peanut butter

Finally off of the topic of food.

I feel sad when I gotta stay here with all the people.  
I feel sad when I gotta stay here with Grace Anne crying.

I miss my mom.  Probably because I'm the one with the chocolate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Hate Bliss

Audrey caught me off guard a few weeks back when I heard her use the word "hate" for the first time.

"I hate bliss", she said.

Wow.  I have really screwed this kid up.  Has she picked up on the fact that I am completely unable to experience happiness of any kind in even seemingly the best of times?

Turns out that she was talking about the inferiority of the Bliss brand of Hershey's chocolate as compared to Dove.  So go on ahead and ignore all of that other stuff up there in the previous paragraph.

I should have known better than to think that she was talking passionately about anything other than sweets.  But it did really throw me to hear that word coming out of her mouth.  So I started taking stock of how often and under what circumstances I use the word.

Shockingly, I use it a lot.  And in regards to really stupid bullshit.  Here's a sampling of stuff that followed the words "I hate..."
  • Wal-Mart
  • Fruity teas
  • The keyboard on this computer
  • Daylight Savings Time
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • This intersection.  (Why the hell is there no turn on red?)
  • Red cabbage
  • Jay Leno
  • These jeans
  • Notre Dame
  • Our newspaper delivery "boy".  (Who happens to be a 50 year old woman who never gets here before 9:00am.)
  • Black appliances
What the fuck is wrong with me?  Where is my perspective?  Is it really necessary to use such a strong word for such trivialities?

So then I tried to scrub the word out of my vocabulary and found myself saying "can't stand" instead, which I'm not sure is much better.  Anyway, I think that might just be missing the larger point of why I let stupid little things get to me so much.

I should try to think of this as a teachable moment, an opportunity to really own my spirit and speak my truth.

Except I really hate that shit.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Gems: Airing My Archives!


It's that time once again.  Time for me to participate in the lovely Jen's Blog Gems Blog Hop.  This edition's theme is creativity, and my gem of a post details Audrey's creative gifts to her teachers during last year's Staff Appreciation Week.

I realize upon re-reading it that Staff Appreciation Week is approaching once again, and, as this post muses about what I should do "next year" for her teachers, I guess I'd better start planning now.

This gem was such a gem that it got big goose-egg comments at the time...thanks to Jen for hopefully remedying this!  You can read it here or click on that shiny rock above and find me at #27.

A Photo Finish: The Last Disney Post (Maybe)

My computer has to "go away" for a while.  It's done some "bad things", and has to go "think about what it's done".  Why I do persist in using "quotation marks"?  "I don't know".    

I just bought the pig at Thanksgiving and it's already effed.  So I thought I'd do a little photo essay since once it's gone I won't have access to my pics for a while.  I wonder if I should back them up?  Nah.  What more could go wrong?

Grace Anne and Audrey acting way too cute and
normal at Guest Relations. We had to break this up in
order not to jeopardize qualifying for the fast pass.

Oh running water, you give so much and ask so little in return.


10:00am...time for
ice cream!
Looking like the cat
who ate the mouse

Audrey refuses to take off her shades
and hides from the paparazzi...


...until it's time to get in someone else's shot.

Grace Anne grows weary of
Audrey's hamilessness
This is how you pose!


Trying to protect the children from the sight of bro-less moobs.


Audrey did not want her vacation to end.
Here she stages a protest at the Orlando Airport
and handcuffs herself to Snow White.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is My ASD Daughter More Computer Than Human?

Did anyone else catch The Daily Show on Tuesday night?  Normally I'm nodding off by the time the guest comes on, and Tuesday was no exception.  I was even noddier than usual because the guest was author Brian Christian whose book "The Most Human Human" is about a contest where computers and people compete to be the most "human".  Yeah, I don't get it either.

I've embedded the video below.  It's over 5 minutes long, but I perked up out of my stupor at about the 3-minute mark when they started talking about how the seemingly simplest of human traits are the ones that are most difficult for computers to imitate.  Of course, they only seem simple to us because we are human.

I really woke up when the author said that, while it's relatively easy to program a computer to answer Jeopardy questions, the hard part is getting it to walk on stage and greet Alex Trebek.  Holy crap, that sounds just like my kid.  He gave other examples of everyday things that are nearly impossible to get a computer to do:  step around puddles (can you say motor planning?) and have simple conversations (don't even get me started).

At the 4:20 mark, he got into theory of mind and I actually un-reclined my La-Z-Boy with a jolt and sat at attention.  You mean people really talk about this stuff outside of the realm of autism?  He talked about how the human mind is uniquely able to see things from not only their own perspective but hold in their minds the perspective of many others.  ToM, as we say in the biz, is one of the very things that researchers believe to be lacking in those with autism.

Could it be that my ASD daughter has more in common with computers than just being obsessed with watching cooking videos on them?  Is her brain more like a computer than a human's?  Should I be worried about someone downloading her and training her to lead a superior race of androids that will travel back in time to annihilate the woman who is carrying the child that will lead the resistance against them?  I may have watched The Terminator on Scyfy that night too.

I was going to do a Top 10 list of other ways that Audrey is like a computer but I couldn't get past both melting down when they get water poured on them.  Also, old people can't figure out how to interact with either of them.  Neither functions well in Acrobat mode?  A computer is done for when it has a fried motherboard; Audrey is done for when her bored mother gets fried?  Yeah, I got nothing.

Obviously, the comparison is not complete.  For one thing, the author said that computers are way too polite and that it's hard to program them to have moods or to be crabby and irritable.  I'll stop worrying about that whole android thing now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm Blogging at SPD Blogger Network Today!


Check me out today at the SPD Blogger Network.  Long-time readers will recognize part of the post, which includes the "My Favorite Things" parody that I've mercilessly flogged ever since I first wrote it.  Just think of me as the greenest (as in recycling-est) blogger you know.

Now quit your bitching, do your part for the environment, and go read it already.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Autism Army Mom Is Perfect in Every Way. And Some Other Junk About Audrey.

Today I am letting my travel companion on our wonderful vacation have her say.  She is saying nice things about me, so pay attention.  No phoning it in people.  Take it away Aimee!

I wish I could give you some more dirt on Lynn.  Really, that would be fun since her “I told you so dance” is far more flamboyant than our flight attendant’s comedy routine.  But I didn’t even actually witness Lynn’s encounter with the Disney Police.  Damn! The ONE thing I said I wanted to see at Disney this time!  But I will say that when I returned from watching the parade -- from within the designated guest area on the correct side of the rope -- Lynn’s expression was the same one that my dog gets after she’s puked on the Oriental rug.  And that is all that I know about that topic.
So you may or may not be surprised to know that Lynn is very easy to travel with.  No….dare I say, delightful to travel with.  What?  It’s true.
And Audrey?  Well Audrey and I bonded during this vacation. Yes, maybe the bond was originally based on the idea that I tell Grace Anne what to do and that is Audrey’s favorite kind of humor, but it has become so much more.  So Audrey loves me and I adore her and, as you may have guessed, we were cracking each other up the entire trip.  But one conversation she had with my mom cracked me up and stunned me at the same time.
My folks have 9 grandkids that they are away from for all of the winter months.  So my mom (the grandkids call her Me Maw) realized that she only had about 4 days (most of which we were at the parks) to soak in Grace Anne and get in good with Grace Anne’s BFF, Audrey.  Mom actually knows a lot about autism, but in her haste to beat the clock and win Audrey over before we had to leave she thought it would be a good idea to ask Audrey two open ended questions…....????? IN A ROW?!
My Mom: “How was your day at Magic Kingdom Sweetie?  What was your favorite part?”
Audrey: (pauses--looks at Lynn) “I can handle it when the lady asks questions.  I will try not to get mad.”
Then something strange happened.  My mom completely understood Audrey’s “subtle” cues and backed off.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  That is all it takes to avoid my mom’s questions?!  40 years of bobbing and weaving and flat out lying, but Audrey’s in the clear just by scripting “I CAN HANDLE THE LADY???” Unbelievable. These kids really do teach us something new every day. The next day their conversation was even better….
My Mom: “Good morning Audrey.”
Audrey: “Hi Me Maw. I like Aimee better.”
I love Audrey J

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life in the Pass Lane


Check out my latest article on the Patch about the awesome Disney Guest Assistance Card and how it spoils you for life on the outside.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Autism WTF Tomorrow! Tuesday, March 8 at 1:00pm EST



CLICK HERE to tune in at 1:00pm EST / 12:00pm CST / 10:00am PST tomorrow for another episode of Autism WTF!

This show will have it all:  security thugs on stilts, the Macarena, moobs, parmesan cheese allergies, disturbingly small toe-nails, little people dressed up as playing cards, shriveled up wieners...oh, and bad hot dogs too.

We might even take a stab at letting some callers through.  The call-in number is (818) 572-8056.  It's right on the screen too.  We've pretty much given up on the swearing thing, so feel free to let Big Daddy have it!

The One Where 4 Adults, 3 Auties, and One Normie Go to the Magic Kingdom

I knew that we were in for a long day when we could not make it past square one.  We were 5 minutes into meeting up with the Big Daddy clan and Audrey had to go to the bathroom, Lil Sis was waiting on line for an autograph from the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, Griffin was ready for lunch, Grace Anne wanted to wait to see if Alice was going to show up, and Big Daddy was looking for a place where he could rent a mechanized wheelchair for the day.

Suffice to say that I did a lot of texting from a lot of very strange places.  Here is a random sampling of my texts from that day:

"Meet us at the tea cups"
"On carousel then dumbo then done w Fantasyland"
"We r at the spray thing"
"On dumbo"
"I want on Aladdin!"
"I know right?  I thought he'd at least b ambulatory.  Sorry I got u into this."

Griffin is all smiles as he enjoys his shirt, while
Audrey plays with my iPhone.  There could not
be a more representative shot of these two.
Griffin, Audrey, and I ditched everyone else at one point and went on "It's a Small World".  We got in the express lane with the help of our awesome guest pass (more on that tomorrow), and hung it with our special needs peeps.  It was on this ride, while we were cruising in our boat through an extra-echo-y tunnel that I was introduced to The Laugh.  The much-blogged-about but impossible to imitate Griffin Laugh.  BWAHAHAHAHAHA.  AH AH AH AH AH AH.  AH.  Everyone in our boat and the boat in front of us craned around to see from whence the sound came.  And these were people who were already in "special" boats.  Hey, you in the wheelchair, take a picture it'll last longer.  Sheesh.

Getting anywhere at Disney is next to impossible.  From the moment that you decide that you want to eat something or that it's time to leave, it's a minimum of 2 hours before you will actually be doing said activity.  I'm not sure why that is, but it is no exaggeration.

Grace Anne rubs Big Daddy's head for....whatever
it is that a handful of scalp mung gives you. 
Mrs. Big Daddy and I waited in line for about an hour for "Chicago-style" hot dogs.  When it comes to "Chicago-style", I'm not really that into defending our honor as far as hot dogs.  Pizza and beef sandwiches, yes.  Hot dogs, no.  But having said that, these were the worst excuse for hot dogs that I've ever had the displeasure of paying $20 apiece for.

Not only were they expensive, but I risked life and limb to get them.  And this is where the Disney po-po story comes in.  While we were waiting in line for hot dogs, a parade started down Main Street...which was between the hot dog stand and where the kids were sitting as they waited for their food.  When we finally got our lousy food, I was desperate to make it back to our party.  I mean, I had left Audrey sans mother and in the company of Big Daddy...nuff said.

The AAM's and the BD's
I was determined to get to where they were and ran right through the parade route.  Apparently this is verboten in the Happiest Place on Earth.  I got no points for making sure that I ran between a bunch of "cast members" on stilts rather than in front of a giant pumpkin coach.  I was immediately accosted by a thug who came out of nowhere and lectured me about how I'd screwed up the parade and could have been killed by the 2-ton float that was nowhere near me.  WTF?  I do it all the time to get the good candy during our local American Legion Post 80 Memorial Day parade.  I pointed at Big Daddy and said "Butbutbutbutbutbutbut...I left my kid with that guy".  He gave me a horrified look, then a sympathetic nod, and skulked back to where he came from.

The day got exponentially better from there.  You can read Big Daddy's account of the day, if you prefer the insane rantings of a delusional sociopath.

He mentions Grace Anne's "Walk Like An Egyptian-Macarena-Booty Shake-Sub-Saharan Tribal Dance" which I actually have video of...with Audrey trying unsuccessfully to keep up.





Our 17-hour day ended like this...


...which reminded us for all the world of this...


I know I for one was ready for the sound of silence.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

But First We Had to Get There: We're Going to Disney World!

Audrey and Grace Anne hold hands on takeoff
OK, so Big Daddy very annoyingly forced me to jump way ahead in my Florida vacation story.  We had actually been there for a few days before our auspicious meet up, and I know that everyone wants me to start from the start.

So it all started around Thanksgiving time when Aimee and I first spoke about taking a trip....

Just kidding.  But I do plan to get about 98 posts out of this, so get settled in.

Our flight down was blissfully uneventful.  We flew Southwest, and Aimee and I scammed early boarding due to our special kids.  Our seating game plan was for Aimee and Grace Anne to sit in the very last row with Audrey and I in front of them.  We put the girls in the window seats and situated ourselves on the aisle, and the proceeded to look as annoying as possible so that no one would dare want to sit in our row.  This is not difficult for me.  But surprisingly enough, the plan never worked on any leg of our flights.

On our outbound flight, we had one of those stand-up comedian slash flight attendants that Southwest is so famous for.  He was also extremely flamingly gay and said things like "Buckle your seat belt low and tight across your hips, like that Speedo you're about to try to squeeze into."  After a loooong monologue that included allusions to hating children and Broadway musicals, he ended with this, "Just call me Big Daddy."

This was going to be a great trip.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Bloggy Meet-Up: Big Daddy Autism

Our trip to Orlando included a meet-up with Florida-based daddy blogger and my Autism WTF radio partner, Big Daddy.  This would be the second time that I had an in-person meeting with a bloggy friend, the first being Dani G.  Based on Big Daddy's cartoons of himself on his blog, I assumed that he would not be as smoking hot and bikini-ready as Dani G.  So I was rather looking forward to meeting him and being photographed next to someone that would not make me look like I had gigantism in comparison.

I was working under the iron-clad assumption that nowhere in Florida is more than 45 minutes away from Disney World, so I felt it wouldn't be too much of a hardship for the BD clan to come to us.  Audrey and I were traveling with her BFF Grace Anne and her mother Aimee, and we were staying with Aimee's parents in their timeshare.  Aimee had no idea who Big Daddy was, and I had to beg her to come along with us to our initial dinner meeting. 

We decided on a pizza place.  BD has this annoying, stalker-y habit of googling pizza places by my house and sending me links to them.  He is fairly pining for a taste of the supremacy that is Chicago pizza after decades of gorging himself on inferior NY and FL product.  Poor thing.  But since it is the only food that he will eat, we didn't have much choice in the matter.

Give Big Daddy a hug,
sweet thing.
We chose the restaurant based on its proximity to the place where Aimee's parents were having dinner so that they could drop us off.  As we approached the restaurant, I began to suspect that this one, like so many others in Orlando, had a theme.  Apparently the theme was Star Wars because greeting us in the doorway was the guy pictured at right.

I breezed past him looking lithe, beautiful, and centered, trailing the scent of a thousand jasmine blossoms, when the thing grabbed me and pulled me in for a hug.  Big Daddy?  Whoa.  No way.  He is so much fatter than I imagined, I thought to myself but definitely did not say out loud.

I scanned the room for the rest of his clan, but could not find anyone even close to resembling the crude cartoon depictions on his blog.  I had to assume that the woman with the two kids that were frantically waving at me were the BD's.  Mrs. Big Daddy was gorgeous and looked to be about 16.  I thought to myself, "What in God's name is she doing with him?" but definitely did not say it out loud.  Until later in the evening when I definitely asked her what she was doing with him.  She got a little teary, batted her eyes at him, and told me that she loved him.  I knocked back the bilious vomit in my mouth with a swish of the bilious vomit that is Florida water, and calmed myself by rationalizing that those likely weren't tears of joy...and I'm pretty sure that the eye-batting was actually her blinking out "HELP ME" in Morse code.

Aimee limped along behind me on two bloody stumps that were formerly known as feet.  She had refused to take my advice and chose fashion over comfort the day before when we went to Epcot.  It being her first time traveling with me, she had yet to realize that I'm always right about everything.  Rookie mistake.  She paid for it dearly when Big Daddy cornered her like a wounded gazelle in the Serengeti and laid a sweaty hug on her.

Audrey was beyond ready to eat and positioned herself at the table right across from BD's son Griffin who opened the conversation with "Whatschooldoyougotowhatgradeareyouinhowoldareyou?"  Audrey turned her head and whispered the name of her school into her shoulder.  Yeah, it was a regular autism-style Algonquin Round Table.

Griffin and his little sister were so adorable that it was impossible to believe that they were the fruit of Big Daddy's loins.  Lil Sis and Grace Anne bonded over the fact that they had the same Nintendo DSi.  This reminded me of the old Seinfeld joke, "You like Coke?  I like Coke too...you're my friend!  You like Cherry Coke?  You're my best friend!" 

With the group's bonding officially complete, we made plans to meet the next day at the Magic Kingdom.  To be continued...