Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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

Walking on Beach by Neil Kramer

Blah, blah, blah... "What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs"...  blah, blah, blah... July edition of my Monthly Round-up... blah, blah, blah... what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet... you know the drill by now!

Also my pick of July's crop of photos by my friend and favorite intstagram photographer (AND fellow BlogHer 12 Voice of The Year keynote speaker!) Neil Kramer, who also blogs at Citizen of the Month.

Bridge by Neil Kramer
So, without further ado, some cool stuff for your reading and viewing pleasure:

A MishMash of Thoughts on Doing it All, Special Needs and Summertime by Holly of The Culture Mom

Picking Through Pocket Lint Looking For My Lucky Penny by Elan/Schmutzie of Schmutzie

Casino Ceiling by Neil Kramer
How to BE with an Autistic Child, Not Fix Him by Brenda of Mama Be Good

All the Aftermath from Mary (the Barnmaven) of Clean Shavings

let's talk about race, baby from Karen of Chookooloonks

Casino Ceiling II by Neil Kramer

Bipolar and Marriage: What Now? {Scenes From A Marriage} by Maggie May of Flux Capacitor  

If you don’t like it, don’t read it by Sarah Tuttle-Singer of The Crazy Babymama at The Times of Israel blog

"I wish he was normal" from Jillsmo of Yeah. Good Times.

Cat by Neil Kramer

For New Autism Parents: On Gratitude by Shannon of Squidalicious

The Boss from Emily of Emily Rosenbaum

Go where the love is... by Amanda of Last Mom on Earth

Woman in Chair by Neil Kramer
Hot day with no AC by Neil Kramer
No Shade by Neil Kramer

Have I mentioned how much I love curating? That's all for now, come back for more at the end of August! (Wait - I mean next month for my next round up, you should also come back tomorrow and read MY words!)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Counting up to TEN!

Double digits?

Yep, we got 'em!

Ten years ago today at exactly this time, 10:12 in the morning, you came into this world, my sons.

(Jake I know your birth certificate says 10:13 but that's just a formality because your head was out and you were screaming your lungs out in protest while it was still 10:12. Believe me, even drugged up on the c-section happy juice, I remember that.)

I have already told the story here (twice!) of how amazing that day was: last year when you turned nine, and the year before that when you became eight. So no need to rehash.

Let me just say, I am so excited as you stand here, on the cusp of your official "tweendom," headed soon into teenagehood and so much more beyond that.

Being an older mom (and feeling more and more ancient each day) can be very useful, sometimes. It means I have friends with much older (even adult) children, helps me to have some perspective on this whole growing-up-process thingie.

I know that the transformations to come will surprise and astound all of us. I look ahead three short years and see you already have a Bar Mitzvah date (October 10, 2015 if you're into long range planning).

Ethan, this is your last year of elementary school, and middle school awaits (and getting you into a good one, the bane of NYC public school existence, is my nearly full time job for the next few months). There is so much you have been looking forward to about this, your "senior" year, most of all when you will dominate the basketball court as a 5th grader.

Jacob, you have finished your two years as a "Level Two" student at your wonderful school, and are moving up to "Level Three" with new teachers in a new building. I hope the transition goes smoothly for you, and that this year's teachers will love you as much as your last. I'm thinking with how lovable you are, they certainly will, and promise I will be by your side to make sure you feel safe secure and happy as you negotiate the changes.

And, as much as I am looking forwards, birthdays always make me look backwards, too. So here it is, counting up to ten:

ZERO (1 day old)
TEN! (and impossible to get them in one photo together)

Happy Birthday again, my wonderful sons, the adventure continues...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Last Day of Nine

Today was the boys' last day of being nine.

(Happy and sad, all at the same time, tumbling away inside of me: missing their little-boy-ness gone away forever now; excited about their growing, unfolding, becoming the big boys and young men they will be)

We had their birthday party today, a jam-packed affair: movie, pizza (burger for Jake) and then a hands-on tour of our local Rita's where the manager, Sandie, has become a friend. The boys made watermelon ice and got to taste a sample of their handiwork, yum!

Ethan and friends at lunch
Making ices at Rita's

And, oh, the cakes! Once again I was up nearly all night making the cakes. (Probably my last year for this too.)

Jake 2012 cake: Batman again!
Ethan 2012 cake: KNICKS!

That's it for today, folks, just a few pictures to share.

Ethan is FINALLY asleep (his plan to stay awake until midnight so as to usher in the first moment of 10 has failed).

Now to prepare for tomorrow, their ACTUAL birthday. We'll celebrate with a trip to Long Island to see their Grandma (my mom) and then back into the city for dinner at...  Clyde Frasier's Wine and Dine. And yes, there is a basketball court INSIDE the restaurant.

(Do I know what makes my boys happy or what?)

Friday, July 27, 2012

My 3rd Annual Obligatory Pre-BlogHer Post or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Con

Well, I figured if I made the title long enough I wouldn't actually have to write much of a post. Doesn't work that way does it? No? I thought not.

Can't I just distract and dazzle you with photos of BlogHers past? 

Me & Jenny at BlogHer10
Can't I just recycle one of my pre-BlogHer posts from the past two years? My funny, irreverent one from last year -  NOT a BlogHer primer - or - Don't take advice from ME! that sort of was a primer?

Or how about the one from 2010 - Look, Ma, I'm going to BlogHer - wherein I told tales out of Sundance and other conferences from my old life?


OK, so here it is:

BlogHer 2012, the biggest, baddest women's blogging conference in the world, coming back to my home town (NYC) and staring in less than two weeks. And I'm... really not thinking about it much. Too much else on my plate, right now. 

Which is completely ridiculous as this year IS a big deal, or rather it's the biggest deal I'm ever likely to experience at a BlogHer conference as I'm one of the 15 Voice of the Year readers.

VOTY Reader

That means getting up on the stage and reading in front of 4,000 or so fellow bloggers. (Well, the ones who aren't off at fancy private parties, or glued to their bar stools in the Hilton lounge downstairs, or still stuffing swag into their bags in the Expo Hall, that is.)

And have I bought new clothes, lost twenty pounds, had my front teeth fixed, had my hair professionally dyed and well cut? Um, that would be no. People are going to have to take me as I am, the imperfect semi-disheveled mom of my day-to-day life.

Have I filled out a planning spreadsheet, gotten myself invited to a thousand glittery private parties, set up all my meals with people I need to see? No again. There is just going to have to be a lot of serendipity involved this year.

I have bigger fish to fry.

(My Mother.)

I may even have to miss a part of the conference, as I can't spend five straight days without going to see and take care of my mother, wherever she may be at that point. (Her latest tentative release date from rehab is July 30th, and yet she can't go back to living on her own as she is, and I have no idea how this is going to work out.)

The one thing I am doing is praying hard for no major crisis in any part of my life on August 3rd. I really want to read.

So the shakeout of all this, is that I have neither the time nor inclination to be anxious about BlogHer this year. Not that I was much in other years either (see aforementioned posts, I really don't get the per-conference jitters) but it's possible the whole reading in front of 4000 other (mostly) women thing might have gotten me a little spooked.

But no, I'm just going to show up and... whatever whatever. Because the hamster running on the wheel in my brain is so completely burnt out right now, I have very little capacity for planning anything beyond my next moment. Other than, you know, making sure the kids are properly awakened/fed/medicated/lunch-made/backpack-packed/sunscreened/dropped-off/picked-up/dinner-fed/entertained/medicated/bathed/bedded.

And making sure that this will all still go on smoothly while I'm busy at BlogHer. Because even though I will be sleeping at home? I have warned the family that it is going to be LIKE I am away, so expect me to be completely MIA. But, ha!

Guaranteed I will be called back to duty for some minor emergency or other. (Yes, honey, I still remember that 6am YOUR time, but 3am MY time phone call last year to ask where Jake's lunch box might be kept.)

When I stop to think about it for a minute (pause, OK) I am actually very excited about meeting up with dear friends, old and new, distant and near. I can't wait to see my roommates from last year (The Empress) Alexandra and (Dusty Earth Mom) Shari.

Me with BH11 roomies Alexandra & Shari - the 3 Bloggeteers!
Last year Alexandra was a Voice of the Year reader, and this year, Shari and I BOTH are. We think maybe The Empress was our lucky charm. So if you want to be a reader next year, maybe you should go rub her belly for luck. (My dear Alexandra, if a bunch of women accost you next week, forgive me!)

I am also so excited about meeting up with my autism and other special needs parenting cohort at the Thursday Health Minders Day track for us, about taking care of ourselves as we take care of others. Hmmmm... needed much? (YES! YES! YES!) There are too many names to name here, but you know who you are, my peeps, and I can't WAIT to squeeee with you.

And then there's my Listen to Your Mother clan - both the New York performers & production team and my producing/directing counterparts from around the country. I can't wait to see them all, and especially our fearless leader, Ann Imig.

And if you're going to be at BlogHer, YOU should be sure to come to the Listen to Your Mother Open Mike Salon. It was a highlight of last year's BlogHer and promises to be even better this year!!!

I am also doing a stint hosting the Serenity Suite - come visit me there on Saturday from 12-1 and again from 4-5.

OK, looks like I'm actually getting scheduled up, going to be pretty busy there, after all. (Note to self: remember to make up Jake's thrice daily vitamin & medicine packs to last through next Sunday, TODAY!)

And? If you're at BlogHer and you're my friend?

Please come to the Friday afternoon keynote address and sit front and center, so I can see some familiar faces in that sea of humanity when I'm reading, just in case the nerves DO creep up on me. Okay? Thanks.

Have a happy BlogHer everyone!

p.s. If you get the homage reference in the title of this post: congratulations, you are either of my generation or a film buff.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Lazy-Ass Thursdays Post

No there is no such meme thing but I missed Wordless Wednesday, so thought I'd make up some excuse for a pictures-mostly post because I seriously have no time for anything but.

So here's some pictures from the past week (she says, tossing them randomly at her blog, hoping they'll stick):

The boys played basketball together Sunday AND Wednesday. Win!

On Tuesday I went to see my mother. She loves to pick things - flowers and greenery - wherever she goes. Used to embarrass the hell out of me as a kid. Now it just seems sweet, and a sign that she is feeling more "herself" finally.

And yes some of this crunch is of my own making. I REALLY didn't have the time to take time off and go to the Listen to Your Mother reunion lunch hosted by Kathy at her beautiful home by the Husdon River.

But how could I stay away? More pictures coming later, but here's a taste, a tease:

Kathy in her kitchen
On Kathy's front porch

And... I'm outa here... I got a double birthday party to prep for, yo.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Listicles: 10 Wonderful Things about BIRTHDAYS

I haven't done Stasha’s Monday Listicles in a dog's age. But today's topic is "BIRTHDAYS" and as the boys turn 10 at the end of this week and my (Ahem!) significantly-more-than-that birthday (52nd) is not far behind, I though I'd better participate.

And I want to be fun and light today, as my life so is NOT at this moment... so (conjuring frothy, frothy thoughts from the far recesses of my brain) here is my list of:


1.  People have to be really nice to you. OR you can make them feel really guilty if they're not. Either way, it's a win. (Wait, did I just say that out loud?)

2.  Birthday cakes. And have I ever told you I make kick-ass ones for my boys? No? See here:


3.  Childhood memories - mine. I could tell you about pretty much all the birthdays of my childhood: beach picnics and backyard barbecues, pointy pink party hats and unwrapping beloved barbie dolls. For a few years we found ourselves in Maine with my cousins' family in mid-August, and as Annette's birthday is a scant four days after mine, we would make these marvelous co-celebratory lobster dinners.

Another thing that occurs regularly in mid-August is the Pleiades meteor shower. One night in  Maine, smack in the middle of our birthdays, I remember the grown-ups waking all the kids up and hustling us outdoors in our PJs at midnight, wrapped in quilts and blankets to lie on the ground and look up at the heavens.  I saw the sky above us exploding in light as a seeming million stars streaked across, some appearing to travel all the way down to the cliffs we lay atop, to douse themselves into the ocean that lay just beyond.

4.  Childhood memories - creating them for the kids. Since we live in the city and don't have a yard, backyard barbecues are definitely out. We do, however, live right near a great city park - Riverside Park. And thus for the first seven years of their lives, the boys had wonderful, huge, blowout parties in the park.

This meant we could invite everyone we wanted to, whole families always welcome. And we got incredibly lucky, because summer afternoons in NYC? Often means thunderstorms. But for seven years (7!) in a row, we had good weather on their birthday party days. And then finally for their 8th birthday I had the feeling our luck had run its course, plus the boys were getting big for just running amok or being entertained by a very patient clown.

Boys Birthday Party 2006
So we're now doing events. This year: a movie (Ice Age: Continental Drift) followed by pizza, followed by a behind the scenes tour at our local Rita's Ices (where we have become friends with the manager) and actually getting to help make a batch of Italian ice. And then eating it, of course.

5.  Having a nice quiet dinner alone with my husband. (Stop laughing, we may have actually pulled this off once or twice.)

6.  Having a cousin who paves the way for me. You may have heard me mention this before, but my other cousin, Jessie, the sister to Annette, is nearly exactly my age, having been born four months ahead of me, in April. We were incredibly close as children, and still are in ways I can't begin to describe, even if a month can go by, these currently busy days, without a phone call.

And thus I have always had four months to adjust to whatever age I am about to turn. Having the certain knowledge in the pit of my being that Jess and I are "the same age" as soon as she flips over to the next digit, I feel a part of me doing so in lock-step up as well.

So unlike folks who cling to their previous age until the day before their birthday, fighting the inevitable tooth and claw, I will find myself claiming to be my next age, quite unconsciously, from mid April on. Therefore all the possible trauma about aging has been removed from my actual birthday, and it's just a good excuse to eat and drink well, with people I love. Win-win.

7.  Being a tourist in my own city. For years I had a tradition of celebrating my birthday by doing the kind of fun, touristy things we tend to do only when we have out of town visitors, but doing them instead with a close friend or two, a mate, or by myself if necessary. I've been up to the top of the Empire State Building, out to see the Statue of Liberty, and circled my city on a tour boat.

What stands out the most is my birthday spent up at the top of the World Trade Towers, observing the city and surrounds from the observation deck, followed by lunch at Windows on the World. I had imagined taking my (as yet unconceived) kids there someday. Gone. Gone. Gone.

8.  Recalling, vividly, every year of my kids lives. As birthday time rolls around I always start to marvel again at how big they've grown in just a year, how far they have come in their development, albeit at different paces.  It sends me to the photo album - OK, technically to the virtual one that is the iPhoto program on my computer - to look up birthdays and years past, loving simultaneously the little boys they were and the big boys they have become.

9.  Recalling, vividly, every moment of the day my boys were born. Ethan and Jacob came into this world a scant twelve days shy of my own (42nd) birthday, and therefore I have claimed them as my best birthday present EVER.

At our birthday time, and especially ON their actual birthday I find myself reliving that whole special day; from the incredible anticipation of leaving our home as two, knowing that we would be returning as four, to the first time I laid eyes on my darling boys and my heart instantly tripled in size, to my first sleepless night with their little burrito-bundled bodies in my arms.

(Unless it's also the day of their party that year, when I would find myself running around like an exhausted headless chicken, getting everything and everybody ready for the ensuing fun and mayhem.)

10.   Cake. I know I listed it twice. Because it IS. JUST. THAT. GOOD. Especially homemade. Especially when topped with ice cream.

And there you have it folks. Not a single word about death or autism. For today, at least. Tune in tomorrow...

Friday, July 20, 2012

I am Aiming Low today!

Bet you didn't know I could be funny did you?

(I know, based on recent evidence you're looking at me doubtfully.)

But I am really a very funny person in my life, and when I'm not being so squashed I even bring some of that here to my blog from time to time (albeit it's often a gallows humor).

That said, I wrote a pure humor post a little while back, and when I read it over I thought: Wow, this feels like an "Aiming Low" type of post.

Apparently, they thought so too, as the wonderful and wonderfully funny folks over there accepted it as a guest post and published it!

So click on the link (or button below) and go on over to read my post: "It’s Not Cat Pee; It’s Me!"

(And please leave me a comment there so they think I'm popular, m'kay?)

And if you're newly visiting me from over there...

Hi, nice to meet you.

Welcome to my blog, which, at the moment is a wee bit focused on the old people in my life deteriorating, interspersed with a lot of chatter about autism and special needs parenting. Not the funniest stuff you've ever encountered, I know.

But, like I said, I do occasionally lighten up, and if you want to read some of my fluffier fare, here's a short tour of my best "humor" posts:

Out of the mouths of my kids:
The Conversationalist 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Poopyhead  
Nice try, kid! 

Funny lists? Yeah I got 'em:
Monday Listicles: 10 Things I Have Done to Make a Living
Monday Listicles: 10 Things I Said I'd Never Do
Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Make Top Ten Lists

Random funny:
A Member of the (not so) Secret Grammar Police
Search Me

Remember I mentioned gallows humor? This:
13 Things to Do in the ER for 30 Hours

Thanks again to the folks at Aiming Low for giving me a space to get me funny on. Gonna try to do it again here, too (as soon as life lightens up a bit).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More from Jacob's Batman files

As you may well imagine, Jacob is nearly beside himself with anticipation over this weekend's opening of the Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises. Batman has been an on-and-off obsession of his for years.

Two-Face, one of Jacob's favorite Batman villains

As far as autistic obsessions go, I find Jacob's fascinations with superheros (& their counterparts, super villains) to be, well, fascinating. He is particularly intrigued with the notion of the double / secret identity.

He is always talking (in his way, which means asking closed-loop questions) about this.

"Who is Bruce Wayne, Mom?" (Only acceptable answer = "Batman")

"Who is Batman?" (Answer: "Bruce Wayne")

Occasionally he will get deeper into the matter of the transformation itself and ask "What happens when Batman puts on his cape, Mom?" (Answer: "He becomes Batman.")

That it's an obsession with people - albeit fictional people - makes me happier than if it were, say, train schedules for (an overused) example. Especially since he also likes to talk about what they are thinking and feeling.

According to Jake this is "Bane" the main bad guy of the new movie
We are going to a 9 AM screening on Saturday (remember, Dan is in "the business" and the producer is a friend of his) and Jake can't stop asking "What are we doing on Saturday, Mom?" even though he knows full well the answer.

I am very glad Jake has an activity to keep him happily occupied on these dreadful heat-wave weekend days. He will go though a half ream of paper over the course of a week.

And have you noticed how his style is evolving?  He is drawing fewer giant heads and starting to include more bodies, slowly figuring out how to do that (whereas before, his bodies were mostly vaguely rectangular shaped lumps).

His faces are becoming a little less interesting in the process, but I'm sure the details will come back once he gets this body stuff figured out.

And the rest of these guys aren't necessarily Batman related, but just some of the recent crop that I found particularly intiguing or endearing.


I think of this one as "Introspective Superman" - less chiseled, more thoughtful

(For more Jacob art posts, click HERE.)