Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Bad Case of Swamp Ass

No kidding, my ass smells like ass.
You know those writer's memes that give you a topic, question, or device as a prompt to get your creative juices flowing?  They always seem to be things like "tell me about a fond childhood memory" or "a time that you made your parents proud" or "write a letter to your 10 year old self telling her how much you love her".  I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm always somehow unable to come up with anything. *choking sob*

Anyway, the title of this post came to me in a dream, and I'm going to treat it just like one of those prompts and write a post around it.  Feel free to join in with me if you have a blog.  Or even if you don't.  Cuz who doesn't have a good swamp ass story?

Hmmmm...I could go with that double-header that I sat through on a 100 degree day with my Aunt Flo.  Or that 12-hour bus ride that I took from Izmir to Istanbul, Turkey when suffering from traveler's GI distress and not one of the "rest rooms" we stopped at had toilet paper.  Or really anything that I would call a toilet for that matter.

I would write about those, but this blog really isn't about me, is it?  Audrey's posterior is far cuter, teensier, dimplier, but no less swampy.  To put it bluntly, she does not know how to wipe her butt for #2.  There, I said it.

It's a skill that I have not really pushed her on because her fine motor skills aren't the best, and I'm afraid that she'll just get it all over her hands and then realize how freaking AWESOME that is.

So I'm still actually monitoring her in the bathroom to see if she's going #2, then laying her down on the floor like a newborn when she goes, and busting out baby wipes like I've been doing every day for the past 7 1/2 years.  Is that weird?  Don't answer that.

She does go on her own, like at school for instance.  And that is where the title of this post comes in.  Sometimes it's so bad I can smell it on her when she gets in the car.  Crap.

*Snort* Europeans are dum.
This phenomena, together with our mutual hatred of bath time, makes for a potentially lethal combination.  But I've come up with the perfect solution, the ultimate cure for swamp ass.  And it's name is "bidet".  You know, that butt-wash thing that Americans love to make fun of/store their beer in when they're vacationing in Europe...and take the requisite picture like the one at right.

Think about it...it's the perfect invention for autistic kids.  They love running water, especially fountains.  They don't need the motor skills to wipe, and they don't have to get their hands near the stinky stuff.  OK, they may need some quad strength to squat.  But even if they fall in, it just gets their butt cleaner right?

Another problem solved.  Alls you have to do is find a place in the U.S. that carries and installs bidets, tear apart your bathroom to fit it in, teach your kid to use it, and watch your water bills skyrocket when they become obsessed with it.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Book of Revelations

Psst.  Guess what? I've got a book out. Well, I shouldn't say "I", as "I" only wrote approximately 1.1% of it.

You see, my friend Big Daddy and I gathered together 48 of our closest bloggy friends, and put together a compilation of never-before-published essays.

I will let the Amazon description speak for itself..."These parents cover the gamut of experiences -- from initially receiving the diagnosis for their child and reconsidering their expectations for the future to learning how to let go of children as young adults – as well as an emotional spectrum from sadness and loss, to the frustrations of assimilating not-so-typical children into the typical world, to the joy of living amongst their often hilarious quirks and obsessions."

Man, that is one awesome description. Seriously, who wrote that?

I really want to list all of the contributors and link you to all of their awesome blogs, but I realize that a list of 48 blogs can get unwieldy. I will try to break it up by revealing some fun facts about the process of putting this compilation together.

And if you don't see one of your favorite bloggers listed here, it doesn't mean that they weren't invited to participate. Some people were just way too lame busy to participate. Really, I could go on about those people but I really shouldn't embarrass them any further.

You  really learn a lot about people with a project like this. Who doesn't know that that little squiggly red line under a word is trying to tell them something. Who can't copy html code onto their blog.  Who are the overachievers who give you 10 different things to choose from, and who always needs just a few more days to finish.

Here's our first dirty dozen bloggers. Remember in school how you would do all of your reading assignments and write all of your term papers during the first week of the semester as soon as you got the syllabus? Me neither. But one of these bloggers is that person, and was the first to turn in her essay on the very same day that the invitation to participate was sent out:
And So It Goes...
Four Plus an Angel
Yeah. Good Times.
The A-Word
Pancakes Gone Awry

Try Defying Gravity
Apples and Autobots
Living Life, With a Side of Autism

Many Hats Mommy
Floortime Lite Mama
Anybody Want a Peanut?
Stinker Babies

One of these hilarious bloggers did not know that anyone actually used the email address posted on her blog, or that there was such a thing as direct messaging on Twitter, or that you should probably check your email more than once a quarter:
Special Happens
One Autism Mom's Notes
Living and Learning on the Spectrum
Life as the Mother of 4
Fickle Feline
The Crack and the Light
Life with a Severely Disabled Child
Life Is a Spectrum
Hanabi Boy
Karacteristic
That'sRightISaidIt.Dot.Mom
Spectrummy Mummy

Two of these bloggers broke the no-profanity clause of our contract, and stop looking for Jillsmo because she is somehow not on this list:
Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles
Butler Way
Unplanned Trip to Holland
A Sugar and Spice Life
Our Life With Diego
a moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Jazzygal
Autism Rocks
Solodialogue
Seven Yuckmouths and Autism
Both Sides of the Coin
Butterfly Moments

Some people suffer from a little-known malady that causes complete paralysis above the neck and excruciating brain flatulence when it comes to providing a title for their work. At least two of these bloggers are in the grips of this horrifying disease:
Four Sea Stars
This Side of Typical
Little Bit Quirky
Confessions From HouseholdSix
Teen Autism
Going Insane, Wanna Come?
Autism From the Lighter Side
Not a Real Princess (Except to my Boys)
The Story of C...
Raising Butterfly
Living With Logan
Mommy to Two Boys

There were bound to be a few typos that went uncaught. I do need to mention one unfortunate one that I just noticed. My friend Meredith from And So It Goes... has a rather lengthy url for her blog that includes a dash -- http://andsoitgoes-louisandhenry.blogspot.com/ In the book, the dash appears as an underscore and will therefore not take you to her blog if you type it in as it appears. So just use these links here and give her a big hi-dee-ho!

Finally and most importantly, click HERE and go buy the dang book already! And if you find anymore typos, keep it to yourself.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Breaking Board

My friend Jen recently had this awesome post featured on BlogHer in which she wrestles with whether to go with "typical" or "special needs" dance classes for her daughter.

My rule of thumb has been to go with typical settings as much as possible when it comes to camps or more social extracurricular activities.  But when it comes to anything athletically-oriented, it's very difficult for Audrey to keep up.

Back in January, we tried a regular martial arts class but it just moved along way too fast, and Audrey needed a lot of one-on-one support that they weren't really equipped to give her.  Then I discovered that the local Easter Seals where Audrey was doing OT offered a martial arts class, so we gave that a try and it's been so much better for her.

Even at Easter Seals, well I don't want to use the word "worst", but let's just say that she's the most challenged kid in class.  But she gets tremendous support, and the class is just right for her.  She has kids with some pretty kick-ass motor skills to model, and even though it's all pretty difficult for her she tries really hard and seems to love it.

At the end of the summer session, they had the parents come in to watch them break boards.  Since the force behind Audrey's movements is akin to a light breeze, I had no faith that she would be able to do it.

First, here is how it's supposed to be done...



And here is Audrey...




OK, that board must have been made out of saltines for it to have broken.  This is a perfect example of the motor planning stuff that she finds so hard.  She just couldn't get that choombee and eye-yah together with her kumbaya and her foie gras.  Or whatever the hell.

But she did it!  So what have we learned?  That I should have more faith in my child's abilities?  That you don't have to be great at something to still enjoy it and get something out of it?  Yes, all of that...and also that when I think I'm not at all giggling when I take videos like this, somehow I actually am.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Snark Goes a Long Way


Today in my latest Patch article, I discuss the Culture of Snark and how the internet, blogosphere, and social media contribute to it.  

Not that I would know anything about this.  I clearly do not approve of such base forms of humor.  *Sniff*

Click here to check it out!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Other Side of the Parent 'Hood

Since buying out all of the issues of Parents magazine within a 50-mile radius, I've actually made my way off of page 161and our 15 minutes of fame and flipped through some other stories.  And while I'm happy for the autism coverage, I'm reminded how difficult it is for special needs parents to relate to the rest of the magazine.

Recipes for foods that our kids won't/can't eat, ideas for crafts that they won't/can't make, advice that is so inapplicable as to be laughable -- right there on the cover is "The 1-Week Fix For Your Child's Worst Behavior".  Easy peasy mac and cheesy!

I'm not really that bothered by it anymore.  Sometimes I even read parenting advice columns as a gauge for where typical kids are at.  I never tire of hearing about what giant pains in the ass typical kids can be and the gnarly problems that drive their parents around the bend.

Once in a blue moon there is even some advice that I can use.  Even that "1-Week Fix" article contains some advice (don't react, be consistent) that isn't totally scoff-at-able.  But the "1-Week" and "stay positive" stuff they can suck on.

In my local paper, there's a weekly column called The Parent 'Hood where a problem is posed and a panel of parents weigh in, followed by an "expert" that tells you what you are really supposed to do.  Sometimes the headline will catch my eye because it's something Audrey does like a recent one about coping with "copycat syndrome" where a kid is becoming a clone of their BFF.

Who wore it best?
Audrey is obsessed with copying her BFF Grace Anne, and Grace Anne is obsessed with being irritated that Audrey is copying her.  But it's not the usual wanting to dress exactly like her...unless you count the fact that Audrey now refuses to wear turtlenecks because Grace Anne won't wear them for sensory reasons.

Mostly Audrey just likes to draw exact replicas of whatever Grace Anne is drawing, and play the same DSi games that she's playing.  To which Grace Anne will agitatedly say "Audrey, be your own person!", to which Audrey will agitatedly reply "OH NO, I'VE GOT TO BE MY OWN PERSON!!!" and so on and so forth.

Here's an excerpt of some of the advice in the article:
"Your child may soon find the BFF's really annoying phrases or clothing as annoying as you do."
Who said that the BFF was annoying?  Certainly not a person who writes a blog that the mother of her BFF reads.

"Whispering in the ear of a sleeping child has been proven to cure all quirks."
What the what?

"Ask them to tell you about so-and-so, what they like about her, and what makes her fun to be with."
Here is a transcript of the actual conversation that I had with Audrey....
"Audrey, why do you copy Grace Anne?"
"Because it's fun!"
"Why is it fun?"
"Mom, fist me!"

See, it's just that easy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Angel Is a Centerfold

If you happen to subscribe to Parents magazine and have received your October issue in the mail, please go get it right now.  I'll wait.

*whistling*
*scratching*
*wishing for donut*

You're back!  Now turn to page 161.  Hi-hi!  Check it out...it's me and Audrey!

Within a larger article about autism, is our little story, which I had submitted to their blog back in April for a series during Autism Awareness Month.

I don't subscribe to Parents and had a helluva time finding someplace that carried it.  The only store I found that carries it around here is Barnes and Noble, and even they only get 3 copies a month.

On the off chance that you feel it's really not worth your while to chase down a hard copy -- which BTW puts you in the company of my mother, siblings, and, well, everyone else that I know -- here is a link to the story on their website.

Or you could just wait and read a dog-eared, coffee-stained, puked-on copy at your pediatrician's office 8 months from now.  Which is about the only circumstance under which I've ever flipped through a Parents magazine prior to this.

Don't worry...success and fame have not gone to Audrey's head yet.  When I showed her the article, she said "Epcot!" because that's where the photo was taken.

She's become quite enamored of the issue, but not because we are in it.  She's taken to fanning out the multiple copies that I purchased on the couch and staring at them.  Then she'll obsessively flip through them, but the page with our photo and article does appear to be even in her top 10 favorite pages.

We seem to be running far behind pages picturing cotton candy (pages 3 and 147), birthday cake (pages 21 and 212), ice cream cones (page 128), and various ads for Milky Way, Nestle's Tollhouse, frozen pizza, Dove chocolate, and Reddi-Wip.

Hopefully this will lead to bigger and better thing for us...like, you know...the cover of Cupcake magazine!

Monday, September 12, 2011

You Don't Know Jack

Audrey has a new obsession and his name is Jack.  We are only two weeks into the year at her new school, but she pretty much decided from T minus 1 (the open house on the day before school started) that Jack was her new reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

I would normally try to temper such fanaticism before it got out of hand, but anything that makes her excited to go to school everyday is fine by me.

It is now all Jack all the time at our house.  Out of nowhere, she'll periodically burst into a big smile, start laughing hysterically, and exclaim "Jack!"  I would say that this is her first crush, but she's been known to invoke similar glee over her markers ("Electric Lime!")

She has acquired a disturbing Smurf-like tendency of peppering everything she says with Jack references.

"These cost Jack dollars."
"Jack hamburger steak!"
"What's for dinner?  We're having rice, chicken, Jack, salad, and mashed potatoes."
"We need more Jack-bell!"
Wishes he was as
cool as Jack Gallo.

Since discovering that our cupcake-maker iPhone app includes a letter decoration option, I now have about 2.87g of my 3g phone taken up with creations like the one to the left.

We have two books on our shelves that have the word "Jack" on the spine.  One is by Jack Welch, the other is a biography of Jack Kerouac.  Because we are just that eclectic.  Or one of them was a freebee from a work conference and the other was a gift and neither have been read.

So now about eleventy trillion times a day, Audrey asks me "What does the red book say?" or "What does the black book say?" just to hear me say "Jack".

I was going to close with some Smurf-like Jack-speak, but unfortunately Jack-talk comes slightly less cute and a lot more profane.  So I will just leave it untranslated when I say that I'm going to Smurf her upside the head if she doesn't stop Smurfing me off with all of the Smurfety Smurf Smurf Smurf-shit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Teaching 9/11: Of Twinkies and Terrorists

"See you in your nightmares, kid!"
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming up this weekend, I've been reading a lot about how it's being commemorated, as well as what our kids are learning in school about it and what's appropriate to be discussed at what age.

My friend Cheryl posed the question on Facebook, and then I read an article in the Chicago Tribune on the topic.  That article basically says that it's all kumbaya -- talking about the meaning of peace and why some people are mean to others -- until middle school when they start getting into discussions about terrorism.

Except that Audrey came home from school with a very long and involved social story called "A Sad Anniversary", complete with a Boardmaker symbol for "terrorist" which I've lovingly rendered above.

Also included was a recipe for "Twinkie Towers"...
"The raspberries and blueberries represent
all the people that were killed that day :(
Now eat up!"


And a joke page...
Because 9/11 was fucking high-larious!

Then there was a quiz to see if you were paying attention...

1) Who flew into the World Trade Center?
A) Pilgrims
B) Knights
C) Terrorists
Audrey went with B.  I blame all that princess crap for warping her sense of history.  

2) Who drew the plans so workers could begin to rebuild?
A) Forest rangers
B) Architects
C) Chefs
She went with C, but in her defense the quiz came right after the recipe for Twinkie Towers.

3) What will the museum have in it?
A) Auditorium
B) Roller coasters
C) Bakery
See #2.

I don't think that Audrey got very much out of this exercise, which is perhaps for the best.  But it may have forever ruined Twinkies for me, and that I cannot forgive.

What about you?  Have your kids brought home any 9/11 lessons?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Old Mother Hubbardoba


I was over forty when I had Audrey.  I know, right?  OLD.  
Click HERE to read my take on the 
pros and cons of north-of-forty motherhood.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Name That Tune! Win a Prize!

Audrey's piano teacher tells me that she has perfect pitch, meaning that she can identify notes just by hearing them. This gives her the ability to play songs by ear, which is awesome, and hopefully a talent that we can leverage down the road.

For now it's a fun parlor game to keep me entertained and up on all of the latest hits. "Audrey!  Go play me that new Katy Gaga song!" One time she balked at one of my requests and I was all "Fine, I'll play it myself." Yeah, it's a little bit harder than it looks when you have no musical ability whatsoever.

"C'mon just tell me the first note! Doooooooo. What is that???"
(yells from the other room) "Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

How does she do that?

Anyway, I took a few movies of her playing snippets of some songs. The first person to correctly identify all three songs wins a shiny prize! Actually it's just Big Daddy's book, Tales From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid With Autism.  

Or in case you already have that one, I'll send you a copy of our forthcoming blog compilation Wit and Wisdom From the Parents of Special Needs Kids, coming out in just a few weeks!

SONG # 1:



SONG #2:



SONG #3:



I have absolutely no perspective on how easy or hard this is. Knowing what the songs are, of course they seem so obvious to me. If nobody wins, this will be my first and last giveaway...and My Household's Got Talent will be cancelled after it's first episode :(