Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Round-Up: What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs

January half-moon through city trees

Well, I so enjoyed doing my 2011 year's end round-up that I decided to make an annual tradition of it.  Also I figured I would start collecting posts for it early in the year, so all I would have to do is hit the "publish" button come next December 30th.

But then I discovered something... By the middle of this first month, I had already collected so many of these wonderful posts I've found on OTHER people's blogs that there is no way they are all going to make it to the final cut at year's end.

But I have been so moved by these, I didn't want them to pass un-noted. So I thought: why not make it a monthly thing?

Can't think of a single damn reason not to, so... OK!

So here it is, the first monthly round-up of what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet; some dozen wonderful posts from January, 2012, presented for your edification and enjoyment...

As always this is an idiosyncratic, and very incomplete list. There is always more wonderful out there, but these are the particular ones I have chosen this month:

The fight goes on. from Jenny (the Bloggess) of The Bloggess

Why? from Jessica of Four plus an angel

i see myself from Jess of a diary of a mom

Help from Alysia of Try Defying Gravity

Nothing To Say from Neil of Citizen of the Month

Angst, ennui, desolation and other words I found in a thesaurus from Jillsmo of Yeah. Good Times.

Compelling. from Eden of edenland

Chickened out, grabbed a pen and paper, sat down and I wrote this song. from Elysha of Wet Clay on Jo Hilder's Blog

from Meredith (aka camerashymomma) of the spirit of the river

Realistic Optimism from Phoebe of Herding Cats

going on a bear hunt… (and it sucks) from Deborah of MaNNaHaTTaMaMMa

This Might Give A Lesser Man A Stroke from Alexandra (The Empress) of Good Day Regular People

Um, looking over these, I realize they are mostly on the heavy side. Sorry.

Guess that's my January seasonal depression talking. I'll try to find more funny ones next month. (But then again, you might have to wait until April for lightness and mirth - just warning you, winter and frothy are not mixing for me  these days.)

Ciao, babies, see ya next month (um, yeah, that's tomorrow).

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Composting in New York City

Nope, that's not a typo. I really meant composting, not composing.

Yes, in New York City... Manhattan, even!

And no, we don't have a townhouse or ground floor apartment, no backyard or roof deck or access to any outdoor space that is not public property.  And while we jokingly call Riverside Park "our backyard" I don't think the parks department people would take kindly to our appropriating a bit of it to create a family compost heap.

I had not thought it possible. But then the wonderful folks at Mom Central Consulting contacted me to participate in the Glad / New York Compost Blog Tour and giveaway...

And even though I already have so much (too much!) on my plate, I just couldn't say "no." For, you see, even though I am a thoroughly urbanized city-gal now, at times in my (distant) youth, I have lived in the country and been elbow deep in the fragrant, fertile earth of a garden, and the compost that facilitates that.

Also for a number of years running my family has gone to visit my cousin Jessie and her family in Burlington Vermont in the summertime. And they? Have a wonderful, abundant organic vegetable garden, a BIG healthy compost pile, and... chickens!

So for a week every summer I am mindfully sorting every scrap of garbage we create into their respective chicken, compost, trash and recycle containers. And then when we come home to New York City it has felt so odd and so thoroughly WASTEFUL to be throwing out all that wonderful compost material and chicken food.

So you can see how I jumped at the chance to do something about this in an easy and fun way, and in my very own (small galley) kitchen here in NYC. So this, my friends, is a double first - my first giveaway and my first sponsored post!* (And you are here to witness it!)

When the composting kit arrived and I unpacked it, I found:
  • Glad Compostable Bags. 
  • An "Easy Household Guide" to composting by Nicky Scott, called, well "COMPOSTING."
  • An appropriately sized, lidded, dark green compost bucket, labelled an "ODOUR FREE Compost Caddy." And yes, it IS made in England, how could you tell? ;-)
  • A sunflower growing kit (that I shall pass on to a Brooklyn friend with a back garden).

The compost bucket settled very comfortably on my kitchen counter. Due to an ingenious filter in the top of the lid and lined with a Glad Compostable Bag, it indeed lived up to its "ODOUR FREE" claim, in spite of the many apple peels and garlic pulps that have been dumped into it.

Also? As yet, no fruit flies (the bane of open compost buckets everywhere).

It was interesting to see how much fruit and vegetable scrap waste we generated in just a few days. Did I ever mention Ethan eats 2-3 apples a day and they must be sliced and peeled?

When it became clear that the bag would quickly fill, I emailed Adam at New York Compost and arrangements were made for an easy right-to-my-door pick-up. And of course, the vehicle for this is human powered by clean, green bicycle!

I hand my tidy, unsmelly, tied-up bag of luscious, gooey compostable stuff over to Adam and away it goes to ferment away in a community compost site, ultimately to enrich the soil for some lucky gardeners.

OK, I am feeling so environmentally virtuous and green now. I plan to keep doing this even after the official compost blog tour is over.

So, if crazy stressed - SQUASHED - me can do this, then you certainly can, too! You in? Good!

To learn more about the Glad environmental programs, go to their site Glad to Waste Less. I did, and was pleasantly surprised to see all that this plastic-bag-selling company is doing to help people go green. Who knew?

Something else cool and green and philanthropic that Glad is doing is supporting youth sports programs by providing 10, $2,000 "One Bag" grants (and counsel from sustainability experts) to help youth stadiums or sports leagues’ waste diversion efforts. Entrants will be asked to share a brief description of their need and plan to take their high school stadium, community fields or youth sports league “One Bag.”

Grant submissions will be accepted at their GladtoWasteLess.com site and the grant entry period runs from October 18, 2011 through February 29, 2012.

Also, if you are my neighbor here in NYC and want to know more about the wonderful New York Compost folks, visit their website: New York Compost! 

And here's a handy dandy little video of the venture, featuring the kind of cart that comes by to pick up our NYC compost.
And now, to give you a further nudge in the right direction (drumroll, please).... 


I have a Glad Composting Kit to send to one, randomly selected, lucky reader. It contains:
  • Your own handy green "Odour Free" composting bucket
  • A box of 20 Glad Compostable Bags for the bucket
  • A small, easy to read book on the ins & outs of composting
  • A sunflower growing kit
How to Enter:
First off, I'm easy.
(And don't tell me you've already heard that from my husband.)
#1. Just leave a comment here. That's it, you're entered once.

For additional chances, you can do any or all of the following (each one gets you an additional entry): 
#2. Follow me on Twitter @SquashedMom and tell me you did it - or that you already follow me - in another comment.

#3. Like my Facebook Fan Page and tell me you did it - or that you already like me, you really like me - in another comment.

#4. Go check out the New York Compost website - and tell me you did it in another comment. (On the honor system here.)

#5. Go check out the  Glad to Waste Less website - and tell me you did it in another comment. (Again, I trust you.)

Contest runs until NOON, NYC (Eastern Standard) Time on Sunday, February 5th, 2012. The winner (selected at random by their entry number) has 48 hours to respond after email notification of their awesome luckiness, or the package will go on to another randomly chosen entrant.

Did I forget anything here? I hope not, I'm new to this blog contest / giveaway game after all.

Good luck and happy composting y'all!

*In accordance with transparency and legality, I am letting you know that I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Glad and received a composting kit to facilitate my review, a sample to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  The opinions expressed herein, however, are uninfluenced by this compensation and are completely my own.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

SOC Sunday: January Blues

Sunday. Yawn. Sunday. Thank goodness for SOC Sunday because coherence and my brain are not converging tonight. And this? Gives my incoherent rambling legitimacy. Yay, me!
January... 2012... so far? Not off to a brilliant start. Feeling, truthfully, like crap most days. Last week I said we were finally all feeling better. And yet it's not quite true. 
I am no longer officially ill, but have been left exhausted. Feeling bone tired. I feel so weary, like my mitochondria have just said "Eh? I don't feel like pumping any energy into cells today." and gone off to do something else. Fishing?

I literally cannot keep my eyes open, cannot drag my ass off the sofa to do much. I rally for an hour here, an hour there. The kids are fed and shuttled about. But the weekends are killing me because there is no school to keep them occupied so it's all on me & we are not going out to do anything more than the minimum and I hate being THAT mom, the lazy-ass mom. Which i have been nearly all month.

And there is SO much to do this month. LTYM-NYC is heating up. Summer needs to be planned - camps & the like. I have my first sponsored post & giveaway (almost like a "real" mommy-blogger!) going up tomorrow or the next day. And to do that one? I am composting, folks. Yes, right here in New York City. And no my kitchen doesn't smell like rotting produce, thank goodness.

And amidst all the angst and feeling so low - How much is physical, how much is emotional/depression?  DAMNED if i know! - I have to keep reminding myself to count my blessings. And there are some.

Jake is really growing and changing again this month. It was a rough start. The first 2 weeks of the new year held nearly nightly crying jag / meltdowns. But he is talking and interacting more than ever.  He practices conversation with me, the cat and his stuffed bear. Hopefully soon there will be real friends.
Tonight when I sat with him in the bathroom while he took his bath, he wanted to talk and talk and talk. His usual topics: what did my ear look like, what are the shapes of my eyes and eyebrows and head. How he was once a baby and will grow to be a man, how his hair is yellow-blond but mine is red-brown.  But still, there was more expansive language. The eye contact was full on and awesome.

The light in his eyes was fully on, his delight in talking with me, in the back and forth of our conversation was clearly evident, infectious. 
It is so easy to despair, to see how far he has to go. The progress is so glacial, so frustratingly  incremental that i have to make myself stop and look at where he has come from... So far! I need to close my eyes and remember back to when I questioned if he would ever be able to carry on a conversation of any sort, when he seemed so lost in his own world.

And so when I am getting all judgey with myself, when i feel like I have just lost all my mojo, that I am merely getting through the days, I need to hold on to this: My kids are thriving. And maybe it's in spite of me right now, but still, I'll take what I can get.

Reasonably happy kids = not sucktastic at all. And hopefully I can join them there soon.


Sorry I'm still in the cave here, folks. Hopefully the grateful cancels out the whining.
New to SOCS?  It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump.  Want to try it?  Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the picture link and let's hear your 5 minutes of brilliance...

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Art, art, art, and a few words

Since I blew right past Wordless Wednesday this week, I might as well add more words into the story of these pictures that I had been planning to share with you.

The boys have both been busy making much art, and I have been having too much fun with my iPhone camera, always handy, always there.

This past week, parents were invited into Ethan's school to walk the halls and witness the results of the wonderful "Studio in a School" art program that has just completed a unit with the 4th grade, quite interestingly tied in with their history curriculum.

The kids providing docent service for the grown-ups, Ethan loved shepherding me through the show, helping me to find his own creations.

I know he wasn't consciously trying to mimic the expression on his "Crazy Warrior" - a  portrait of the self, imagined as a colonial era figure.  But, it shines through, no?

Ethan and his self-portrait as a colonial era Native American - "The Crazy Warrior"

Jacob has been drawing, drawing, drawing, as usual, and I thought I'd share some of the latest crop:
A guy
A Dragonball Z Kai dude. And if you have to ask, you don't want to know.

All TV show and cartoon characters this time. But, once again... WOW! Jake's ability to capture so much emotion, especially in the eyes, I find beyond astounding. Who says autistic kids don't perceive, understand and process emotion?

Dragonball dude again
Yes, it's everybody's favorite airbender: Ang the Avatar
I love these eyes.
Is it just me, or do you not want to meet this guy in a dark alley, too?

My favorite are the half-finished ones, with the simplest lines.

I love this drawing
 And because he's so damn cute, here's a picture of the artist, too: 
Jake out & about on our snowy Saturday last week
Me? It rained and rained and rained today. A biblical level downpour that lasted about 20 minutes. Excellently, of course, during the alternate side car-parking shuffle time. So what did I do? Document it, of course.

Rain on my windshield on Riverside Drive. 
I turn my wipers off at red lights and watch the rain overwhelm the windshield.

 Enjoy. And coming tomorrow - lots of words!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Listen To Your Mother-NYC's Call to Audition!

Y'all may recall my announcement this past fall, that I was going to be a key part of the team bringing LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER - the national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day - to New York City for the first local production here, right? OK, if your memory needs jogging, here it is: Listen To Your Mother!

Well, kids, things are now heating up big time...

We have a date and a space and a charitable cause, and now we need a cast. So that means... AUDITIONS! ... and that means YOU! Yes, you! No, don't look over your shoulder, I'm not talking to them (well, I may be talking to them too, but that's not the point here!) I am talking to YOU, my friend...

If you are a writer, and you write about mothers (being one, having one, or any mom-role person who has been in your life) then come audition to be in the show. While many of us are also bloggers, you don't have to be one to participate (but if you are it's a great way to promote your blog!)

Here's the skinny on auditions:

The show is on Sunday, May 6, 2012, at 2 in the afternoon, at the Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Family Auditorium at the JCC in Manhattan (on the Upper West Side).

Auditions will be held on the following dates by appointment only:

Sunday, February 26 th    11am - 2pm
Monday, February 27 th     6pm - 9pm
Tuesday, February 28th   10am - 1pm

To schedule an audition, email listentoyourmothernyc@gmail.com. Please include your name and your availability during the time slots listed above. Auditions are being held at a convenient midtown Manhattan (west side) studio. The exact location and other details will be sent with your confirmed appointment time.

Choose a piece you really love, and that takes about 3 to 5 minutes to read.  While you don’t have to be a mom (or even a woman) to participate, your piece MUST be primarily about motherhood in some way, and the words must be your own.

I really want to hear your stories of MOTHERHOOD, the good, the bad and the ugly; the funny and the sad; the profound and the profane. (Yes, you can curse, this isn't a kid's show, it's for US!)

That's it! Easy! (And if you want to see what sort of pieces have made it into the show before, you will want to watch the past Listen To Your Mother shows.)

The time commitment if you are chosen for the show? Not that much: two rehearsals TBD in March/April, a pre-performance run-through at the JCC, and the 2 p.m. performance itself on May 6th. Also, while it's not REQUIRED that you come out for a celebratory drink with us after the show, I'll be damn disappointed if you don't.

All that said, I am warning you in advance that there are going to be readers and works that I absolutely LOVE that will not make it into the show this year because:

a) it's not my decision, alone, to make; I am but one voice on a team, and

b) we need balance, to represent a wide spectrum of mothering voices and experiences, and sometimes the specific wonderful has to be tossed to serve the show as a whole.

Please don't let the possibility of rejection hold you back from auditioning. At the very minimum you'll get 10 minutes of my undivided attention and a hug at the end (if you want one). 

Also you should know that even *I* - the PRODUCER - am not guaranteed a spot on the final roster. Like everyone else (with the exception of our MC and Director, the amazing Amy Wilson), I am also going to be auditioning, and might not make the final cut. 

Finally, if you're feeling at all nervous or anxious about (gulp) standing up and reading your work in front of (horrors) live human beings? You should read a wonderfully encouraging essay by my friend Stacey Connor of the blog Is There Any Mommy Out There?  This year she's reprising her role as the Director/Producer of the Spokane, Washington LTYM show, and wrote this about the experience of being a writer, reading: A word on stage fright and storytelling.

Also, if you want to read the more formal (more informative, much less chatty) version of the call to auditions, come to our local Listen To Your Mother - NYC Website, and read the official post, here:
NYC Listen to Your Mother show CALL for AUDITIONS!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to begin this audition process, to be sitting in front of you, meeting you, and hearing all your stories. Bring it on!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Promises, Promises

I hate disappointing my kids.

Ethan is all aggression, calling me a liar when I have to backpedal on an agreement, undo a plan; telling me next time he's going to make me pinkie-swear and if I break THAT promise I then owe him a million trillion dollars. But it's Jake that breaks my heart again and again.

I had promised we'd go to the movies together, just he and I, this past weekend. Two weeks ago we had finally seen the Muppet Movie, and I have been walking around singing the very catchy "Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?" in my head ever since.

Jake loves movies, lives for movies. But Ethan and I both had been laid low sick on Friday and were recovering slowly over the weekend.

Dan, as nearly always, worked all day Sunday, and I just didn't have it in me. Didn't have what it takes to hustle up a playdate to fob Ethan off on, to get out the door with Jake and Ethan, dropping Ethan off, head down to the movies with Jake then pick Ethan up afterward and hope the timing wasn't off, and oh my god, feed the kids, too and get them to bed early enough for school the next morning.

But Jake, being Jake, just didn't understand, even though I explained and explained and explained. Even though I let him watch hours and hours more TV on Sunday than usual, come 4, 5, 6 pm, come bedtime, he just kept asking "Can we go to the movies, Mom? Are we going to the movies, now, Mom?" in this small plaintive voice.

He didn't have to say "But you'd PROMISED!" the way his blatant, brazen brother would have. The movies are his magic and I had dangled it in front of him then snatched it away.  And because it wasn't Ethan's own disappointment he was able to keep perspective. Too much in fact; was scornful of his brother in the guise of being helpful:

"Jacob, Mom is not feeling well, she can't take you to the movies, you'll go next week.  So stop bugging her. It's just the movies, no big deal. Star Wars 3D doesn't even open for 2 more weeks, anyway."

Ethan was happy as a clam to lounge around all day in PJs with the resident screen police too tired for any real rule enforcement.

But Jacob? My sweet Jacob? "Moovies Mommy, I want to go to the moooooovies."

"Next week, my love, next week, OK?"

Please, gods of autism and head colds, don't let me break my promise.

Just Write

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

SOC Sunday: Nearly Human

Yup, Sunday again. Technically. It still feels like Saturday to me because I haven't gone to sleep yet. Or rather I should say "haven't gone to bed yet." Because that hour spent semi-sitting up, slumped on the sofa with the TV playing to my closed eyelids was sleep. Sorta.


Well, I am happy to report that rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, and I am, in fact feeling much better. FINALLY. Feeling something like a human being again. SHOCKING.

Not quite human enough, unfortunately, to take the kids sledding, in spite of the inches of snow today. Human enough, however, to have fun tossing snowballs with Ethan on the way to the corner diner where we met his best friend for lunch today,. We scraped fresh snow off the parked cars on the two blocks of our walk and packed it down as best we could.

The snowballs were fluffy, disintegrating as they flew. Which was fine by me as Ethan still has the tendency to make up for accuracy deficits by standing WAY too close when he lobs them.

It was lovely to get out of the house, to snarf down a quick lunch and steal a few minutes of uninterrupted grown-up conversation with my friend, the mother of Ethan;s friend. Sacrificing my iphone to the boys greasy food fingers was so worth it.

And then, Saturday being Saturday, there was basketballl. This week was my turn with Jake, who did not want to leave the cozy confines of home/cat/TV, but I made come out anyway because the wide world must not be ignored.

He kept thinking that every snow-covered car we passed was OUR car, and it distressed him no end that we had not found our car yet, no matter how many times I explained to him that we were, in fact, parked one block away in the OPPOSITE direction of the school he plays basketball in, so would definitely NOT not be seeing our car on our walk there.

But Jake being Jake, he still had to ask about it. Every. parked. car. we. passed. And I also answered the question "What color is our car, Mom?" about 1,000 times on that 10 block walk, too. (It's still green.)

I was worn out by the time we arrived. Getting Jake out of his snowboots and into his sneakers left me wanting to collapse in a puddle. And taking his mittens off reminded him how he had left his other pair at school and nearly set off another crying jag like the one he'd had upon arriving home on Friday. But only nearly. (Thank goodness.)

But still my heart swelled with pride as I heard the coach setting up Jake's new helper this week by telling him: "You'll be paired up with Jacob today, he;s our best shooter." And even though Ethan's games are more exciting and coherent, actually recognizable as "games," there is something so sweet about the special needs division; our kids trying so hard, their one-on-one helpers so kind.

And then afterwards we met up on Broadway with Ethan and Daddy for a snack and slogging home through the snow together. And then, home, the boys even played together for a few minutes -- if you count sitting on each other with the sitee attempting to throw the sitter off to be playing. (And i do, i SO DO!)


OK, I cheated tonight! Clearly this was longer than 5 minutes - more like 10-15. But it felt to good to feel human enough to want to write, I just couldn't stop. I figure I will be forgiven. (Right, Fadra?)

And now? To bed!
New to SOCS?  It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump.  Want to try it?  Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the picture link and let's hear your 5 minutes of brilliance...

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday? Really?

(This photo has nothing to do with anything in this post.)

Today is Friday? Really?

How did that happen? It was just Monday, like, 10 minutes ago.

Wasn't it?


(Insert much cursing here, especially the word that is alliterative with the day of the week it actually is today.)

I have gotten nothing done. NOTHING.

I've been sick as a dog all week.

A few different things all converging.

Including - TMI WARNING: LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT GIRL-PART RELATED THINGS - my first period in 3 months that came on like gang-busters and has knocked me completely on my ass for 3 days. I know last year I told you all I thought maybe I was done with all this.

Not quite.

Instead I've been continuing on, regularly irregular, for the past year.

Fun. (Not.)

And today Ethan was home sick, too, with the same sore-throat-voice-stealing-nasty-cold I've got.

So I have had to scrape myself off the sofa to bring care and comfort to him all day. Because sick kids need their Mom. Right?

And while sometimes I find hard times inspirational? Not this week. This week I have had neither the energy nor motivation to write anything.

I feel lumpen.


And yet my blog is staring at me, glaring at me, with a Monday date on my last post. 

(Insert more cursing here.)

I got... nothing.

And not the wonderful nothing like my friend Neil's amazing post last week.

Serious nothing.

(Although I have stolen a page from him and included an instagram photo since I figure if I've given you nothing really to read I should at least give you something semi-interesting to look at.)

My mojo is missing.

My lyricism has left the building.

But I am feeling sad in the silence.

I miss you guys.

Even if I have nothing more to say than: Hello. I'm still here. I'll pull through this all, and hopefully be back sometime soon with words wiser and worth reading.

And until then?

(Insert more cursing here.)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Listicles: 10 Things I Said I'd Never Do

Another Monday, another Stasha’s Monday Listicles. And today's topic came from... Greta of Not Enough Patience and Never Enough Jewelry. 

She said: So, your topic (should you choose to accept it) is: "I'll Never...": The Top Ten Things You Said You Would NEVER Do And Have Caught Yourself Doing.

I don't know why she thinks parenthood would cause us to frequently eat our words. Oh, wait, I so do.  So here it is:

Ten Things I Said I Would NEVER Do (as a parent) And Have Caught Myself Doing:

#1.  Feed my kids junky "kid food." HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you will know that Ethan rarely eats anything but. He is going to turn INTO an organic hot dog someday, because he eats so many of them. And? He considers the color green in a food to be indicative of it being POISON. At least he eats. I've got a friend whose son hates just about everything, including pizza.

#2.  Make separate meals for everyone, be a short order cook in my own home. I even once said "I will make one family meal and if the kids don't like it they have a choice of a peanut butter sandwich as an alternative or nothing. And once they are old enough they can fix it themselves."  Wow, was that a lifetime ago! I thought things would run so orderly in my house. That was before autism and special diets and THESE particular children landed in my home (and heart). Because letting your (nonexistent) children go hungry in theory? Not at all the same as watching your already too skinny actual child eat nothing and be fine with that.

#3.  Lose my evening time to the kids, every night.  I have a very organized, disciplined friend who had kids long before me. I thought she did a great job with them, and asked for lots of advice, thought I could just copy her parenting tricks and all would go as smoothly in my house. She had told me: "9 PM is when kid-time is over in my house. They can stay up later if they want, but in their rooms and quietly. After 9 PM is grown-up time in the common spaces." What a lovely philosophy. And COMPLETELY impossible in our situation. The boys share a TINY room and Jake crashes at 7, while Ethan can not ever fall asleep before 10, often later.

#4.  Ask my kid the soul-killing question "What is WRONG with you?" OK, I am REALLY not proud that I crossed this line once. It was Ethan (of course) getting on my very last nerve, doing something completely ridiculous over and over and ignoring my request to stop. Something I thought he REALLY knows better, and aught not to do at all. Before we had identified ADD and poor impulse control were just a part of his makeup. Sigh.

#5.  Let my body go to hell. Yes, B.C. (before children) I had looked at a formerly skinny friend of mine who'd had a kid and thought: "Geez, it's been 3 years, shouldn't that gut be gone by now?" HA! It's been over NINE years now that I have been resembling a Weeble, with no end in sight.

#6.  Yell.  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! (Wiping the tears from my eyes and picking myself up off the floor from laughing so hard.)

#7.  Let my kids watch too much TV. This is a REALLY hard one. I HATE how much the TV is on, in our home. It goes against everything I believe in, how the kids should be doing REAL things, engaged in the world and with other people. However, with this particular set of kids? "Engaged" with each other? 99% of the time that means fighting. Yelling, screaming, hurting each other. It's the autism. And it sucks. But they will both sit peacefully together in the living room if the TV is on. And sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) I really, really need peaceful.

#8.  Completely lose touch with the culture that I love - movies, theater, art, music, avant-garde performance. When I was a young woman in New York City's Off-Off Broadway, Performance Art, and Independent Cinema world, I had older friends with kids who brought them along to all sorts of unusual and avant-garde events and I thought: "Yes, that's how I'm going to parent! No Disney dreck, "kid-culture" drivel for my offspring! I will open and expand their minds at a young age." HA HA HA! I wasn't counting on autism rendering one of my kids perpetually much less mature than his biological age. Nor his brother's insistence that all this culture stuff is BORING. Sigh. I haven't been to an art opening in 9 years.

#9.  Tell my kid: "I'm cold, you need to put on a sweater." Yup. Well, I did expand on that and add: "and it's really, really cold out and I know you don't feel cold yet, but you will soon, and I don't want you to catch a chill." And it WAS really, really cold out! But still...

#10.  Spit on a napkin and wipe my kid's face with it. Well, in my defense, his face was REALLY, really dirty! (Hangs head in shame.)

aaaand that's all folks! What's on YOUR list of backpedaling?

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

SOC Sunday: MIA via ASD

It's been a long time since I have hooked up with Fadra's SOC Sunday meme. I head over to catch today's link and what do I find? A beautiful new logo!

Thank goodness for SOC Sunday. Because that's about I can manage today. And barely that.


I feel hollow, scooped out; a brittle husk surrounding a great nothingness. And not the lovely nothing of Zen but the bleak nothing of having been shaved away until there is very little left, just a concave space surrounded by little curled up, crumbling bits of me.

I have been AWOL from my blog for 3 days now, the longest gap in a long time. Three days ago I started a post called "Another Day, Another (Autistic) Meltdown" trying to find the gallows humor in what I've been going through this week. But it just didn't come. I couldn't laugh. And I was tired of crying.

Jake has not been a very tantrummy kid. Until now. He's going through something. God knows what. Hyper-emotional. Is it the ugly middle stage of some forward progress, or his medication in need of tweaking? How can I know - they often look the same from here.

All I know is that for the last week, nearly EVERY evening (and some daytimes too) there is about an hour of crying and screaming. Because I have done something HORRIBLE like turned off the TV. And yes that's only one hour out of twenty four, but what it does is suck the life and energy out of the other 23 for me.

I;m really being unraveled by it. And i feel like a wimp, like a wussy because some families with autistic kids have been going thorough tihs for YEARS on end. And multiple hours / incidents per day, day in and day out. While I know (hope & pray, but mostly know because it has happened before) that this will pass here in our home, waiting it out is exhausting me.

Jacob WILL find his even keel, his usual sunny disposition will right himself once again. Because when he is not weeping he is still happy as a hundred proverbial clams, chatting away, demanding as usual I "Look Mommy!" at everything he is doing and listen to every thought that floats through his brain.

"Daddy is a man, Mommy"

"Why yes, yes he is, Jacob."

"He was a baby!"

"Yes, he was, Jacob. We were all babies once, that's how human beings - people - start out. Me, Daddy, you too. you and Ethan."

"I was a baby!"

"Yes, Jacob, a beautiful baby. And now you're my wonderful, big boy."


And so it goes.


Still here? You've a brave soul.  Thanks for making it through the cave with me. And there's a reward: Tomorrow's post is funny, funny I tell ya!
New to SOCS?  It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump.  Want to try it?  Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spell-checking. This is writing in the raw.
You can do it, too!  Click on the picture link and let's hear your 5 minutes of brilliance...

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Last Saturday, after the boys' basketball games...

Ethan & a friend enjoying a post-game ice cream
Jacob, still moody after the previous night's MASSIVE meltdown
And you thought I couldn't do it! (Hell, I thought I couldn't do it, either.)

And, as usual, I’m linking up to Wordless / Wordful Wednesdays... at Angry Julie Monday... at 5 Minutes for Mom... at live and love...out loud... at Dagmar*s momsense... at Parenting by Dummies.  

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hopeful Parents Day Again

Well, today is the 10th of the month, so I'm over at HP as usual. Today's post, however, is a rerun.

Jake was home sick today. Nothing major - just a sore throat and slight fever - but he was clearly feeling too punk to be put on the bus this morning, was low energy and very needy all day.  And this, my first day with Dan back home after nearly a week in Seattle, me holding down the fort on my own, I wasn't expecting to spend, essentially, as a human pillow.

So my plans to write a brand spanking new HP post during the day? Out the window.  Not wanting to miss my HP day, I am bringing a special post from December over there.

So if you haven't read it before, or if you want to see it again, come on over to Hopeful Parents and read my post: Progress, Step by Step

See you back here tomorrow!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Listicles: 10 Things I Have Done to Make a Living

Well, it's Monday, so it must be time for Stasha’s Monday Listicles again. And today's topic came from... ME!

And, it seems, I'm being late to my own party. (And not for the first time, I must admit.) You would think with my having known the topic for, oh, two weeks, I would have had this post written long ago and ready to pop up at one minute past midnight, be at the top of the link-up over at Stasha's.

Well, think again.

It's been a rough beginning to the new year is all I can say. And my ADD is acting up something fierce. So anyway, it's still Monday here (barely) and will be for a few more hours in at least some parts of the world, so let's proceed shall we?

Today's topic (as chosen by moi) is:

Top Ten Strange (odd/unusual/funny/interesting) Jobs you have held in your life.

#1.  Well, to start with, when I was a baby my father was an advertising photographer and sometimes he needed a baby for a shoot or for his portfolio. So, for a very short time, I was a baby model. He also was a fine art/documentary "street photographer" (with work in Life magazine, etc.) and took loads of pictures of me for that, too.  Wanna see?
Jim Steinhardt: "Girl with Balloon (ME!) at Central Park Zoo" 1963
#2. Then my Dad realized he hated advertising and got out of that business, bought an art gallery and frame shop on Long Island and it grew into an international and American crafts gallery of some renown. And I grew up in the family business, spending Saturdays and many of my summer days at the gallery.

I couldn't even tell you exactly when playing there became working there, but I distinctly remember setting up and helping to serve drinks at show openings from about the age of six on. And I know that from the time I was twelve I was selling in the store and working as a buyers assistant, accompanying my parents to big national craft fairs like Rhinebeck and the wholesale showrooms in the city.

Holiday time was always busy, and as a teenager I worked full long days every Saturday in November and December, and then when the "blue laws" were repealed (yes, I'm old enough to have lived when NO businesses outside of restaurants were open on Sundays) Sundays in December, too.

When I was 15, I ran the gift wrap "department" (me & a friend of mine) on the weekends for the holiday season. To this day I can eyeball any unusually sized or shaped object, instantly figure out what size box it will or won't fit in, and wrap it neatly with nice ribbon bows to boot.

My most memorable sales interaction with a customer? It was the day before Christmas, when the desperate men who hadn't a clue would arrive, and you could sell them practically anything. He was buying jewelry. Three nice pieces. One for his wife, and one each for his two "girlfriends." He wanted to spend about the same for each. Wrote lovey notes on gift cards to be included inside the boxes. Had us put a little code on the bottom of the wrapped boxes so he could know which was which.

How much did we want to "accidentally" mess up the code for him? The whole staff was abuzz with wicked plans to do this while his gifts were being wrapped. In the end of course, we didn't. A customer is a customer, and he was a good spender. (Times 3!) But we talked about him for years to come.

#3. Away at college, through friends I fell into a summer job as a founding member of the Sunflour Bakery Collective in Bar Harbor, Maine. Of course, first I had to learn how to bake bread, which I did in a hurry that spring.

This was not a typical "job." We all lived together, communally on the uppermost floor of the building which was not in any way set up or zoned for habitation, while the landlord conveniently looked the other way. We each made little nests for ourselves using odd materials found on the second floor of the building, in what had been a woodworking shop at one point. My "chair" was an ornate antique toilet stuffed with my sleeping bag to make a cushion.

We often took in like-minded (i.e. hippie) folks who were passing through town and let then "camp out" on the second floor and share meals with us for a few hours of work in the bakery.  It was all very whole grain and natural (naturally), and actually quite delicious. I think I ate better that summer that at any time in my life before or since.

#4. The following year, I spent my summer in Cambridge / Boston with a combination of 2 jobs to keep me afloat: showing up at 5 AM on the weekends to be the breakfast chef at the very vegan Golden Temple Emporium Cafe (yes, run by people with big white turbans on their heads). Can you say "scrambled tofu" anyone?

That was combined with my weekday job of slinging the greasiest of burgers and fries (while wearing hot pants!) to a lunch crowd of finance guys at The Saint, which happened to also be the local lesbian bar at night, which I frequented... frequently. And the irony of all this was not lost on me, I laughed about it constantly.

#5. Then I landed in California for a few years. You may have heard me mention this one before, but yes, in 1981 I actually WAS a Bean Sprout farmer in the wilds of Mendocino county.

We were a womens collective on 160 acres on a ridge with a number of odd buildings on the flat land at the top, and among them 3 geodesic domes. One of these was given over to the business of hydroponically growing bean sprouts that were sold to restaurants and in health food stores in Northern California.

My tasks included washing the sprouts daily, cutting them when they were the right length, bagging them, and assembling the "mixed sprout" salads. Also driving up & down the coast for delivery. And yes, we had to remember to put shirts on when driving off the property.

Looking back, I don't think we had a license and can't ever remember a health inspection. But those were different, looser, freer times. And I don't THINK we ever gave anyone salmonella poisoning.

#6. Also in California, now living more conventionally in Santa Cruz, I became the assistant manager of the Polar Bear ice cream shop in Capitola. And my right (scooping) arm became twice as strong as my left. I was living with a woman who had a 6 year old daughter who was THRILLED to be able to come in and order anything she wanted for free.

And no, I wasn't stealing. The owners wisely gave us a monthly allotment of free ice cream, which kept us all honest about what we ate or took home or gave away. And made us very popular with our friends.

#7. Back on the East coast and back in college, I found occasional work as an artists model. Yes, nude. And people this is HARD work. Holding a pose that seems just dandy at 2 minutes will feel like torture by minute 10 with your muscles screaming for release. And, totally exposed, if you twitch, they will see. And yell at you to keep steady.

#8. My main job while in college was at the local pottery gallery (using my family business talents at last) but on the summers, to not lose me during them, the gallery owners - who were 3 potters themselves - had me come out to their studio to do odd jobs for the seven potters who worked there and shared kilns.

I was not a potter, and it quickly became clear that my natural talents did not lie in this direction, but everyone found things for me to do to help out that did not require actual potting, including wedging clay (great anger release), packing orders for shipping (I still have nightmares about plastic peanuts), and, most terrifyingly, carrying precious fragile pieces to and from the gas kiln which was outdoors, out back, DOWN a little hill. No, I never dropped anything, but did have daily palpitations, thank you.

#9. 1988. Out of school and back in New York City, while working my way into jobs in the film and television industry and also directing and stage managing plays and performance art off-off Broadway, I landed a regular gig with the brand spanking new World Financial Center as an assistant stage manager for their arts and events program, including a month of opening galas.

As I was a bit more mature and put together than a lot of the kids they had working for them, I was usually assigned to babysit the talent, including escorting them to the "stage," which was always rigged in different places and often far, far from the holding areas.

This also meant that I would be seen in the "front of the house" and had to work evening events in formal wear and heels. On miles of marble floors. (Ouch!) Highlights included: a frantic search for one of the coconuts of Kid Creole & the Coconuts who had decided to go look for a friend in the audience, minutes before their call and watching Grace Jones go into makeup and be transformed into... Grace Jones.

Best of all was escorting Cab Calloway up onto the stage itself because he was rather elderly and unsteady on his feet and the steps didn't have a handrail.

This was also the first time I was given a newfangled "cell phone" thingy - about 8 pounds of equipment with a handset connected to a rectangular box that hung from a shoulder strap - this was 1988, people!

1988 Cell Phone. Really.
#10. Fast forward many, many years (see the calendar pages whirl by) and come to my current occupation: Autism Mom. I am an amateur neurobiologist, behaviorist, teacher, translator, pharmacologist, allergist, gluten & casein-free chef, and deep hug giver. In my 9th year of an ongoing experiment in radical sleep deprivation.

Definitely the strangest "job" I have ever had. But the most fulfilling. Worth every minute of it.

And, believe it or not, (believe!) I could go on and on. But I'll stop here at ten.

See y'all next week!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tough Night in Autismville

As any of you who tapped into my Twitter stream last night would know, Jacob had a really rough time of it at bedtime (as did I). I am still trying to figure out exactly what happened, to fill in the gaps, figure out the whys and wherefores, but how it manifested was this:

A one hour non-stop crying and screaming fest from 9 to 10 pm, followed by another hour of cycling through whimpering, tears, giggles, and more tears until about 11 when he finally fell asleep, exhausted. Poor guy.

And Ethan, of course, could not go to bed until Jake went down. He lay on the sofa, escaped - as much as he could in our small apartment - into his book.

Jake does not melt down often, is generally pretty damn happy. For a kid on the autism spectrum this is awesome, and I am grateful for it every day. 

But when he does?

Oh, my.

He is the unhappiest boy on the planet.

It starts slowly. His eyes well up, his lip trembles. I can see it coming, but an seemingly powerless to stop it.

Sometimes it's a brief shower, a quick downpour, and then it moves on.

But, more likely than not, he just has to go all the way through the maelstrom until the happy boy I know can emerge out the other side.

I am alone with the kids this weekend - Dan is still in Seattle - and so don't have the time or energy to write out the full long story of this and still get enough sleep, but I can copy and paste in my tweets from Friday night, so you can see a bit of what I was up against (in 140 character snippets):

And then, of course, today, Jacob woke up asking "What happened to me last night?" and "What happened on Friday, Mom?" and wanted to TALK all day long about his crying and screaming AND about swinging at school, when I just wanted to forget it and move on. Sigh.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Go (the F) to sleep, Ethan.

Ethan was talky, talky, talky tonight at bedtime.



The gems:

E: You know what, Mom?

Me: Ethan, it's very late, you're going to be tired and cranky in the morning. Go to sleep now.

E: Know what I love the most? Life! Being alive!

Me: That's great! I'm glad you feel that way.

E: Know what the best thing in the world is?

Me: Go to sleep, Ethan.

E: Getting to be alive.

Me: OK, Ethan that's a great feeling, now stop talking and go to sleep.

E: Want to hear a great tongue tickler word?

Me: No, I want...

E: Zucchini! Isn't that a great word? I love tongue ticklers.

Me: Ethan, talking is keeping you awake. Stop talking, lie still and you will fall asleep.

E: But what would happen if someone tried to REALLY tickle your tongue, like stick their hand in your mouth and...

Me: Tongues aren't actually ticklish, Ethan they're... STOP we are not having a discussion, you are going to sleep.

E: But what about...

Me: No but. Stop. Go to sleep.

E: So is Tigerclaw really all bad or is there still some good in him?

(Yes, he's just started reading the Warriors series. Months of confusing, similar sounding cat-character names lie in my future.)

Me: You'll find out yourself, as you read. You're not roping me into book talk. Shhh. Sleep.

E: But do you think...

Me: Shhhhh.

E: Mooooom, I was in the middle of saying something!

Me: Yes, and that's the problem. You cannot talk and sleep at the same time.

E: But I'm not sleepy, and I WANT to talk!

(lightbulb going on over the mother's head)

Me: You miss Dad, don't you? 

E: Yes, I do, I really do! (big sniffle) I just feel so sad that he's not here and it's going to be days and days before he comes back home. I wish we could just instantaneously transport ourselves to Seattle so he could kiss me goodnight.

Me: Me too, honey, me too. I keep thinking he's about to walk in the door at any minute, then I remember he's on a trip. We'll call him tomorrow, OK?

E: OK, Mom.

(forehead kiss)

Me: Sleep now, babe.

E: I love you, you're the best mom in the whole world. For me that is. I'm sure everyone else thinks their mom is the best, too.

Me: I love you, too, kid. Now, no more words, REALLY. Time. For. Sleep.

(2 minutes later, cue light snoring)

This post is part of the Weekend Rewind blog hop. Join in! Link up an old post for new comment love.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: What I did on my Winter Vacation

Actually, this would be more accurately: What WE did on OUR winter vacation.  Because I was never alone, not even for 5 minutes... and as I'm the family photographer, there are never any pictures of ME... so herewith are some highlights:

The day after Christmas, we drove up to our in-laws' house in the Berkshires for a few days, where we go every summer and some winters, too. There was absolutely NO snow - except on the slopes where they make it, of course.

Thanks to Ethan's Aunt (my sister-in-law) we got some free package passes to Butternut that include EVERYTHING: equipment rental, day lift ticket and a group lesson.  The helmet is extra, but I think my son's brains were worth $12 a day, so we sprang for that.

It was awesome, because Ethan really wanted to learn how to ski and neither Dan nor I do, ourselves.

First day, Ethan was in a group of 1, so he got a free private lesson - WIN!
By the 2nd day he was riding the lift
A friend of mine says, if you're not falling you're not learning. Ethan did a lot of learning.
What Jake did while Ethan skied.
Tuesday the 27th was the last night of Hanukkah.  We light the menorah for the last time this year.  You can tell this is at my in-laws' house and not our apartment because it is so nice and new and clutter-free.
Waiting for presents.
All 8 candles
"... and while we are playing, the candles are burning low..."
And, as ever, the views from their windswept hill were stunning, especially at sunset.
End of day sky in Great Barrington
Back in the city, Ethan had a playdate and I had fun shooting the pretty, late afternoon, wintery, city skies with my new favorite toy: instagram.

On January 2nd, the last day of break, we took a jaunt with friends over to the Liberty Science Center, just across the Hudson river, in New Jersey. It's a great hands-on, interactive science museum, and while Jake and I have been there recently, it's been a while for Ethan.

It is so interesting to see how much more the kids are getting into the actual science learning of the exhibits, now that they are older; how they can read the displays themselves, follow the directions, really do investigating and exploring.

Who doesn't love messages and hidden meanings?
Ethan and a friend coloring pixels
(doo doo deeeee doo) Science!
Spaceship or telecommunications teaching module?
Jake LOVED to play with & manipulate his own image.
Some of the signage in the communication exhibit made me sad.
And then it was home, early to bed, school the next morning, How was your vacation? 

And, as usual, I’m linking up to Wordless / Wordful Wednesdays... at Angry Julie Monday... at 5 Minutes for Mom... at live and love...out loud... at Dagmar*s momsense... at Parenting by Dummies. 

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