LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

Today the SITS Girls Back2Blogging Challenge has asked us to write about why we write, to blog about why we blog, to discuss what blogging means to us.

spock

Last night, I started making a list, and it goes a little like this:

1. I get by with a little help from my tweeps.

Blogging has been a means of giving and receiving support, exchanging information, laughing with friends. Let's face it: I don't get out much.

Some people who I know in the “real” world tease me about my obsessive social networking, the way you would tease someone with an obsession with shoes or Halo or somebody who collected potato chips that look like the Virgin Mary. But I have very good friends online. They buck me up, make me laugh and actually help me solve problems. Never underestimate the power of a virtual hug. (I also have two Facebook friends who I'm convinced think I'm somebody else, but most of them know me.)

Sometimes, things just seem less scary when you can get them down in print and contain the whole event or issue or problem in a few paragraphs. You can stare at the whole thing all at once.

And then sometimes, as a mom, you're bursting with pride and want to share your joy with the whole wide world ... web. Thanks to blogging, I can brag to millions of complete strangers ... or at least the 12 people who are actually reading my blog.

Some people don't even realize they're lending support; I'm just lurking around, laughing at their jokes from the sidelines and admiring the pictures of their kids. Now that I think about it, that actually sounds super-creepy.

Just a few of the online friends who get me through the week: Maura at 36x37, Lynn at AutismArmyMom, @NotSoSilentMike, BigDaddyAutism, @SherriPizza and Stuart at AutismFather.

2. 1 Degree of Separation

Theoretically, everyone on the planet is only separated by six other people: You know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who can get a meeting with the President, for instance.

The Internet cuts that way down. You can email just about anybody. When we started this blog – and I say “we” because originally, Dave and I were both going to be blogging – we were interested in being able to start discussions about autism treatments and invite scientific debate. We wanted to talk to leaders in research and autism science and get their feedback on treatments and theories on causes.

We do some of that. But since Dave really hasn't had much time to blog about actual science, that part of the blog has been limited to my opinions of therapies like Floortime, Therapeutic Listening and Kindermusic; the great response from Science-based Parenting about how Vaccines Are Not Linked to Aborted Fetal Tissue; more and more about vaccines and rants against celebrities like this one and this one who shouldn't comment on science and a lot of conversation about what happens when I try to cook.

But a new goal that we're setting is devoting at least one post a month to new scientific research and discussion of it.

3. I'm lazy.

Rather than solve problems myself, I can read and learn from other people's solutions. When were playing the Pajama Game night after night with Billy, thankfully, I read about a similar problem my friends at Both Hands and a Flashlight had solved. And then, a commenter left a link to inescapable pajamas. If I hadn't had my tweeps, I'd still be up to my elbows in ... well, you get the idea.

I've benefited from input around the globe on issues from ABA therapy to zip-up pajamas and everything in between.

4. I always listen to Spock and JFK.

One of my first assignments after I moved to Los Angeles, as an editor/journalist at Sci-Fi Universe Magazine (still perhaps the best job I have ever had, barring motherhood), was to interview Leonard Nimoy. I was actually late to the interview, because I got lost, I was flustered and hot and nervous and star-struck, and he was just about the nicest man on the planet.

In order to calm me down, he started talking to me about why I had moved so far from home, what I wanted to do. Embarrassed, I confessed that I was yet another hopeful writer in a city where even hobos are writing screenplays.

Rather than laughing or even offering some meaningless trite comment, he got thoughtful. He said that when he was a young actor, still driving cabs because his career hadn't yet taken off, he picked up a young senator named John F. Kennedy from a Beverly Hills Hotel. When he told the future president that he was an aspiring actor -- probably feeling a lot of the same embarrassment that I felt about calling myself a writer -- JFK responded, “There's always room for one more good one.”

There you have it. Those are now my words to all of you: my tweeps, fellow bloggers, friends and writers in the “real” and virtual world. There's always room for one more good one. If you concentrate on being a "good one," then it doesn't matter what the odds are; you've already beat them.

I don't mean that in the sense that the world is just waiting for me to arrive and that I'm gonna shake it up JFK and Spock-style. But as many voices in the blogosphere as there are, there are never too many good writers.

There's always room for one more good one. Now go get 'em.

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I have had a blast during the Back2 Blogging Challenge this week. Big thanks to SITS Girls, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for sponsoring this opportunity. Whether I win Thelma and Louise or not, I feel like I've already won.

Reader Comments

Today's SITS Girls Back2Blogging Challenge asks us to write about a woman who inspires us. I'm overwhelmed by options to fill this slot: strong, smart, loving, creative women have been holding me up and helping me grow as a person, a professional and a mom all my life.

meandsis

But considering the SITS Girls are all about sisterhood in the broader sense of the word, I think it's appropriate that I tell you about my rock, my sister, Sami.

When I was six years old, and my sister was 2 1/2, we moved into a new house. In the midst of the hubub of moving, apparently Sami wandered away.

Actually, "wandered" is the wrong word. She marched determinedly from house to house demanding, "Do you have any kids who can play with me?"

I'm not sure how many houses she visited before some adult thought that maybe it was a good idea to find her parents. It was more than one, because she still hadn't located any new friends by the time she got back.

"NEVER leave our yard by yourself!" my parents scolded her when she was safely back in their arms.

"I wasn't by myself," she replied. "I was with Teenie Uglondis."

This anecdote sums up my sister perfectly, I think: She is fearless, precocious, creative, pro-actively social and you absolutely can't win an argument with her.

We had never heard of her imaginary friend, Teenie Uglondis, until that day. She may have made him up on the spot. But what an imagination. He sounded like a Sardinian mafioso. One could imagine him hulking silently and invisibly next to her, punching one fist into his other open palm like her own imaginary bodyguard. (I had an imaginary friend named Shannon who played golf. And I'm supposed to be the writer.)

As time went on, we did make friends in the neighborhood – and beyond – and they all came to know another fact about Sami: She is fiercely loyal, and if she counts you as one of hers, she will fight your corner to the bitter – or happy – end. In some ways, Teenie Uglondis is her other self, the bodyguard we all count on – her friends and family – when the going gets tough.

I was reminded of this fearless child recently when we hit a roadblock with Billy's school placement. Despite the fact that there is an excellent elementary school across the street from us – part of the reason we bought our house here – we were told we would have to drive 25 minutes to a different school. The reason: “Sorry, there was a clerical glitch. And now it's too late to change it.”

I was a basket case. Not because I minded driving 25 minutes to take Billy to school. But because we'd spent the whole summer walking him to his new school, getting him ready for the change, getting him used to the playground. We were excited that Billy would have classmates in his own neighborhood with whom he could have play dates and walk to school in the morning. And an administrative error was going to throw all that out the window.

“Not a chance,” my sister said, and I could just imagine Teenie Uglondis at her side, nodding his head, ready to bust some kneecaps.

Which turned out to be totally unnecessary. My sister has a network of about 800 of her closest friends, and they all love her almost as fiercely as we do. And when I say they are friends, I mean it – not in the vague “Do-I-actually-know-you?” Facebook way, but in the real “I got your back” kind of way. My sister can truly love and nurture hundreds of people; she would have made an awesome monarch.

Needless to say, after calls to the right people, a place was found for Billy at his new school. I would single out my new best friend at the Superintendent's office for special acclaim, except that I don't want to put him in the headlights of every parent with a problem with Leon County schools.

Sami is an amazing mother, truly devoted friend, loving wife, successful marketing VP, and the kind of caring, honest human being that I feel honored and inspired to call my sister. If I started naming all the causes she supports with her time, energy and financial resources, I'd be here all day. Pretty much every member of our family and most of our friends have felt themselves lucky enough to be one of those “causes” at one time or another. And somehow, she always make us feel like we're doing her a favor when she helps us.

She learned from the best, of course (not just me, but also our incredible mother :-) And she makes it all look so easy and joyful and fun.

I love you, Little Sis.

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Thanks to SITS Girls, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for sponsoring this Back2Blogging Challenge this week. I've made new friends, been re-inspired to write, and developed a fierce desire to win that washer and dryer :-)

Reader Comments

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Really Nice Post!

I'm sure you made your sister very happy today!

Sisters are awesone!

What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

So VERY True!!!!

I love you both. You will both always be my big sisters even if we don't see or talk often. I love you guys and am blessed to have been a part of your lives!

Looking up to my little sis

Your sister sounds great...does she happen to be a Capricorn? By your discription, that would be my guess...we are extremly loyal! Thanks for stopping by Organized Chaos!! It was great hearing from you!!
Blessings, Monica

My sis

Actually, Sami is a Gemini -- we both are! Even though we're completely different in so many ways. Really glad we connected blog-to-blog :-)

Liza, we miss you, and I wish you guys lived over here so that we could see more of you and your family. But I'm really glad you're there to help mom at church when Billy stays over at her house. I hear he had a great time, but as you know, it's all hands on deck with our Billywigs :-)

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and left comments this week. I've really felt the love. And if I win that washer and dryer, I will absolutely do a load of your laundry. And even if I don't, I hope we can all still stay in touch.

Stay tuned tomorrow when we all blog about what blogging means to us ...

Teeny

Wow, what a post!

Teeny Uglondis the Sardinian mafioso? I literally snorted over that one. And the "awesome monarch" line? Snorted again.

Sibling relationships are so interesting to me. I have friends who grew up hating their sisters and they never really got over it. And then, I hear about sisters like you and Sami who will fight for each other to the bitter end. My brother and I are that way, too. We grew up bickering and getting on each other's nerves, but we also always stood by each other fiercely and loyally and unshakably. So maybe that's the measure of sucess for sibling relationships: Both siblings have to reciprocate loyalty and kindess and caring or it all falls apart.

How great to have someone like Sami on your side. It's always nice to have someone at your back who can crack some skulls.

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Total 7 comments

Back2Blogging1

Today's the SITS Back2Blogging Challenge has asked us to re-publish a blog post with a title we really like. And then we can explain its significance.

I started to post "Life is a spectrum," because I liked that one so much I changed the whole blog to that title. But I posted that so recently that it might be as irritating as when they keep re-running the same episode of Seinfeld once a week. I swear I've seen that episode about the close talker 100 times.

So instead, I picked the post below. It happened this summer, so it hasn't been that long ago. But it was a milestone day. It was the first time I caught Billy making up a game of his own. Since that red letter day, we've had lots and lots of imaginative play. Some of it has been re-enactments of his favorite books or TV shows, but some of his games are recognizable -- and understandable -- only to him. There's one that involves Batman, Noah's ark and the planet Saturn, which I still haven't figured out. But it all started with the day ...

"So a pig, an astronaut and a tractor got into a race"

originally posted 07/06/2010 08:17 pm

 

toybarn_medium

Today Billy staged a race between a small plastic pig from his toy farm and a tractor. It went on for quite some time. During this race, which went around and around the dining room table, he hummed the "William Tell Overture" (the Lone Ranger song). The pig won -- which might have had something to do with the fact that the tractor was pulling a trailer carrying an astronaut and Linny from the Wonder Pets -- but that's not the point of the story.

Billy is really starting to explore his imagination. He's starting to make up his own games and tell stories with new endings -- in his own way.

Many of you have been on this journey with us since I started this blog -- and some before that. You know already that we're practicing Floortime therapy, which encourages us to follow the joy of our child. Imaginary play is highly encouraged by this philosophy of autism therapy, because it encourages not only communication, but also problem-solving and thinking more abstractly.

Billy is getting it. He's making progress.

He's still a pretty concrete thinker. He can memorize anything – and I mean anything – that has a name or a number or a specific concrete label. He's not yet four and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of road machinery.

So tell me how a kid who can identify a “steel wheel soil compacter” at 50 yards is incapable of knowing when he needs the bathroom. He's messing with me. I'm telling you that he could use the potty if he wanted to, if it didn't amuse him so much to see me unravel at the seams.

But I guess knowing when he needs to go to the potty – or telling you what color a carrot is, if there's not a carrot in front of him – is still hard. Telling you what he did earlier in the day or yesterday, understanding those vague concepts of time, is next to impossible ... for now.

It's like he lives absolutely in the moment, completely immersed in whatever or whoever he's with. He's not worried about what's going to happen tomorrow, and he's not bothered by what happened yesterday. He is totally with that pig as he crosses the finish line.

I could learn a lot from him.

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This week has been a wonderful walk down memory lane. Thanks to SITS Girls, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for sponsoring this opportunity to re-share some of my favorite memories.

Reader Comments

Love it!

Love the title, love the post. Isn't the back to blogging week fun? I'm doing it too.

My Daugher Was so Similar!

She didn't really potty-train until she was 4.5. Even now, at 6.5, she has more accidents than I think she should! I totally think it's her Asperger's that caused this. She gets so engrossed in whatever she's doing, that she totally forgets to listen to her body! It's pretty strange!

Billy

I love this story of imaginary play with Billy being 'in the moment.' I can think of 3 activities he does that keeps him engaged and in the moment -
riding his push scooter, playing ball, and being tickled. As for his imagination, I remember when he was two, he squeezed a magnetic oval
over the top of a ball and called it "Saturn." He is always a joy to be around.

Awesome Post

Thanks so much for your comment on my post on One Busy Moma. I really like your blog. Great post. Being a Mom is wonderful. I look forward to reading more on your blog. Oh and sprinkling toilet paper on his head, that's cool my kids did that too. When we first moved to TN it barely snowed the first year we were here so on Christmas day my daughter shredded up toilet paper and threw it on everyone!!
Have a great day

Imaginative Play is Huge

The close talker episode is a classic. I can watch it over and over again.
The imaginative play is such a huge step forward. At almost 13, my son still does almost none of it.
Love the title to the post; sounds like a joke I heard at a bachelor party years ago. Although there was a farmer's daughter thrown in there somewhere.

Awesome!

Hi! I love the title of your post. Really draws one in. I never knew of I think it was Floortime Therapy? Something like that. I will have to look into that for my 17 month old. I'm starting to get more creative with play with him.

Also, thank you so much for stopping by my blog (Sippy Cups and Cloth Bums http://the-chunkymonkey.blogspot.com)! You really gave me a new lookout. I love the comment : "With each step we leave behind with our kids, we step into something new and wonderful." I am putting that on the fridge. Thanks a bunch!

Beautiful Post! PERFECT title!

We could all learn a lot from the children in our lives! And I applaud you for pouring so much of yourself into your precious son!

Total 7 comments

louiselove2

I'm still after Thelma and Louise -- specifically, Louise (I think - she's the dryer, right?).

It's Day 2 of the SITS Girls Back2Blogging challenge and today we're supposed to post something we wish more people had read and explain why. I should probably have picked a subject deeper than my love of the crock pot, but it definitely qualifies in the category of "I don't think many people read it." Back when I started my blog, I didn't know how to work the Twitter machine and I still thought social media was some show on E! about celebrities dating.

Also, I want to show people that even though autism advocacy is super-important to me, I do write about other things. "Parent" is definitely my most important role right now, but there are other things that I ... am particularly not particularly good at.

So today feel free to make fun of ...

bad-cook

... My Cooking Skills
(originally posted 2/10/2010)

I cannot cook. My father always said that if you can read, you can cook, and it is true that I can follow directions, but that, to me, is not really cooking. Cooking skill is that magical sense -- at least it seems like magic to me -- that tells you to add a little more of this or that to make food taste better. If one ingredient is missing from a recipe, I am at a loss. I have no idea whether 1/2 teaspoon of paprika is essential or is one of those things you can leave out. I have no more idea what to substitute in its place than I would know how to change an oil filter (do oil filters get changed?).

Before I had children, it never occurred to me to want to learn to cook. When I lived on my own, it seemed like a whole lot of effort for very little reward. After all, if I cooked it, then I would end up eating it, and no one knew better than me how inedible my cooking was. Once when I lived in California, we had a minor earthquake, and some man -- I can't remember if he was with the gas company or the stove company (is there a stove company?) -- came to check that there was no leaking gas after the quake.

Horrified that I might be breathing invisible gas, I rushed him inside my apartment and in the direction of the kitchen. After a very brief inspection, he said, "OK, two things. First of all, your stove is electric, so I'm pretty sure you're OK. Secondly, it's still wrapped in the plastic it was delivered in ... so you haven't turned it on with that wrapped around it .... have you?" I had been in that apartment for 8 months at that point.

Once I got married, there was still no reason to develop an affinity or skill for cooking. I happen to marry an excellent cook who loved to spend time in the kitchen. I loved to hang out there with him, chopping things under his instruction, sipping a glass of wine and talking. David can cook anything with barely a glance to a recipe, but no matter what it is -- turkey sandwich or Christmas dinner -- it takes two hours. I'm not kidding. If he invests less than 120 minutes in the process, he doesn't feel like he's done it right. His culinary skills are truly awesome, but if you're really hungry, he's not your go-to guy.

Our schedules have gotten so busy with both kids, his full-time job, Billy's therapy appointments and life in general that we're usually not able to actually think about eating an adult meal until well after 8 p.m. On the Chef Dave clock, that means that if he's going to cook dinner, we're going to be eating after 10 o'clock.

Enter my new favorite kitchen device: the Crock Pot. Despite its hilarious (to me) name, it has been a lifesaver for our family. My mom bought me a cookbook of crockpot recipes, and I discovered that anyone -- ANYONE -- can cook with a Crock Pot. And it cooks on low all day and is ready for the adults to eat as soon as the little demons start snoring in the evening.

crockpots

I'm not saying I never heard of a Crock Pot. I'm a Southern woman; of course I know what a Crock Pot is. They were lined up across long tables at every church pot luck, family dinner or company picnic throughout my life. But I thought they were difficult to use, and I thought you could only cook delicious, fattening Southern food in them ... because the people I knew who had them were really good cooks who always cooked delicious, fattening Southern food.

To my surprise, I found that even I could operate a Crock Pot. The directions: Plug in. Turn to "low." Come back in seven hours. Awesome. It's like cooking with a curling iron.

And I found all kinds of recipes in my new cookbook and online. I've made Chinese Beef and Broccoli (from my cookbook - see above), Chicken Tikka Masala, and a healthy Butternut Squash Soup. A couple of my favorite sites are A-crock-cook.com and Slowandsimple.com (which describes more than my Crock Pot).

Dave was dubious about the Crock Pot at first; he's suspicious of simple cooking. I don't know whether it was the tastiness of the final results that won him over, or the fact that I shared with him that it took seven hours to cook. But he's a believer now.

I still don't know how to cook. But I can fool people. And at the next family get-together, I'll have a Crock Pot of my own to add to the line. Watch out!

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Thanks to SITS Girls, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for sponsoring this opportunity to make fun of my cooking!

Reader Comments

Your cooking post

I love this post with intensity! Unlike you, I adore cooking and trying to mix and match this with that. When it comes to the crock pot, which I also adore, my hubs goes weird on me. It's because of the smell. It does get incredibly strong, how to you deal with that? I don't mind it one bit. My house would constantly smell like onions, garlic and bacon for all I care but the hubs stocks up on the Febreze!

Great Crockpot Post!

I love to cook, but have a long daily commute, a plethora of activities, and roommates who always take over the kitchen. I rarely have the time or space to do much cooking. I own a crockpot (for small servings even!) but rarely use it. Thank you for the encouragement. I'm pulling it out today!

cooking

I could have TOTALLY written this post!! What hooked me was when you said cooking when you don't have family is a lot of effort for little reward. BINGO! My thoughts exactly. Great minds think alike! :)

I Love Crockpots!

I am a decent cook but I LOVE crock pots too! They are amazing! There isn't anything better than throwing some meat, vegetables, salt, pepper and a little water in a crockpt and coming back later to a delicious home cooked meal!!

Stopping by from SITS!

Crock Pot Love!

So glad to see so much crock pot love spread around :-) I'm actually getting ready to upgrade to a fancy, larger one with MORE THAN 2 SETTINGS! Stay tuned ...

By the way, I love getting to visit all your blogs. One thing I've discovered that mine needs is a way for you to leave your websites when you comment, so that I can add you to my blog stops! In the meantime, if you get a chance, would you mind sticking your URL just in the body of your posts? Thanks so much for stopping by; I want to return the love :-)

Damn You!

You HAD to pay my blog a visit, so I HAD to pay you a visit. DAMN YOU! I love this blog! It's great! Now I have yet another blog I have to read everyday!

I cannot keep up!

Seriously, thanks for finding me! Your blog rocks!

Cooking

This could have been written by me...except I'm so lame I still haven't figured out the crock pot. My husband does all the cooking and fancies himself quite the gourmand, so he looks down his nose at crock pots. But he travels alot and I've always meant to try it on my own. We do own one. I will check out slowandsimple because that sounds about right...

Total 7 comments

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