Nianya's Search Engine

Custom Search

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day
Anything is Possible if you Dare to Dream

April 3, 2018

Reflections on World Autism Awareness Day - We Need Understanding Not Just Awareness

Autism is Not just a Day for Awareness . . . It's a Lifelong Journey

Each year as World Autism Awareness Day approaches I get numerous messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter posts and other reminders that I need to LIGHT IT UP BLUE on April 2.

I'm asked to go to Home Depot and buy blue lights for my porch and make sure that I wear my Autism Awareness or Light it Up Blue shirt. To me, it seems like the day has turned into another annual right of passage on social media - just like posting the first day of school photos, Halloween Trick or Treating Photos, Prom Photos, Homecoming you name it.

In other words, it has become another social media craze.

Don't get me wrong, awareness is great, and I bought my blue porch lights for the first light it up blue day. We light it up blue everyday and thanks, Home Depot, they still work.

Awareness means that more families living with autism have more programs and options available. Nevertheless, many families still do not, and they still face daily obstacles that are difficult, if not impossible to overcome.

And that is why I feel the need to emphasize that:


1. We need other parents to understand when we cannot or chose not to attend birthday parties, movies, dances, dining out and other special occasions. Please don't exclude us or stop asking. Just understand if we can't go or if we show up for only a few minutes.

2. We need relatives to understand that we cannot always attend family gatherings, weddings, holiday dinners and family vacations.

3. We need schools and other parents to understand that our children may be on special diets and CANNOT eat food that we did not prepare.

4. We need the whole world to understand why, most of the time, it is easier to just avoid all of these events and live in the world we created for our autistic children. Our house, our family trips and our lives are like a moving plastic bubble in which we control the elements as much as we can.

5. We need the world to understand that we love our autistic children so much that we will do anything we can to help them and that we will continue to do so forever. Our children are special and so incredibly wonderful in their own ways.

I started this blog about Special Needs Parents & Autism Awareness nearly 15 years ago and I confess that I do not blog often enough.

I only blog when the muse hits me, or rather when I have the time to sort out my thoughts. Blogging is not my day job. I cannot afford to be a stay at home mom, but I have worked my career around my autistic children.

It is not easy raising an autistic child, much less two or more. Moreover, we did not receive that diagnosis until my oldest child was 9 and my youngest was 3. We had very few services available back then, but we had already learned that we could only survive as a family if we limited our world to those who understand.

We found schools that could and would accommodate our children's needs. We found a few close friends that did not judge us for participating in activities when we are able. We started taking family vacations and stay-cations with just the four of us. That's how we roll!

We are founding, contributing and/or annual members of all of the local attractions - Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Zoo, Fernbank Museum and Wild Adventures, The Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Callaway Gardens to name a few. If we have a free day or weekend we can go for just an hour or two.

We regularly visit Georgia's State Parks, either for the day or overnight. Exercise and mother nature are great for the soul and for those on the autism spectrum.

We are very blessed. Our children have come leaps and bounds from where they started, but their journey and ours will never end. Autism is a lifelong journey and we need the world around us to understand!


April 5, 2015

Autism and Spider Crabs at the World's Largest Aquarium

We had a typical autistic day yesterday at the Georgia Aquarium. We planned the trip in advance so that Taz's friend could join us. Naturally we forgot that it would be packed due to Spring Break visitors.

When we got there, the lines to get in were over an hour long. TG for membership. We walked right in through the pass line.

Of course it was just as crowded inside. In some ways that helped us keep up with the boys.

When we go to an exhibit with Taz, he usually breezes through, with a quick look here and there and maybe a quick pose for a picture. The crowds slowed him down a good bit. We were actually there for more than an hour which is probably a record for Taz.

In the world's largest aquarium, most people want to spend their time watching the Whale Sharks, Beluga Whales and Dolphins. Not Taz!

For Taz and his friend, watching the giant spider crabs getting fed was the highlight of their visit. The boys wormed their way through the crowds right up to the window and stayed there for a good 15 minutes. After that the boys informed us that we were done. It was time to go.

Again, I  emphasize the value of having a membership. We will go several times this year, including an adult evening or two, just for us.

We have memberships to most all the main attractions in Atlanta. It gives us flexibility, which is a must in parenting an autistic child.

Besides, I have to admit that the spider crabs were pretty fascinating. That's how we roll.


April 2, 2015

A Challenge to Corporate America on World Autism Day

A very wise mother of an autistic teen posted today that "The Cure for Autism is Education, Awareness and Acceptance." I heartily agree.

I  would add a caveat to that wise statement - OPPORTUNITY!

Give an autistic child/teen/adult a chance to show you their unique skills and they will give you a mile.

When my daughter was diagnosed, she could barely speak and was years behind in language arts. So many people refused to give her the time of day. . .teachers, soccer coaches, youth programs. . .

There were a few select people, however, who saw past her difficulty in communicating and gave her an opportunity to show what she was capable of and more. An awesome school, a few great soccer coaches, a trainer at the gym. . .

Fast forward to age 19 and the child who could not speak, not only graduated as Valedictorian, but also got the state's highest scholarship and is playing soccer at a fantastic college.

And still she is faced with people who won't give her an opportunity.

I'm speaking specifically about the job market.

This is a girl who is capable of performing most any entry level position with the right training. She's dependable, stronger than most guys her age and willing to take whatever job is offered.

Problem is. . .no one's offered, even though she's applied to quite a few companies. #Chick-Fil-A, #AcademySports, #HomeDepot, #Lowes.

I challenge each any every one of you to give her an opportunity.

Step up to the plate and give autism a chance. If you don't, who will?


March 22, 2015

Just because I like to play with coconuts doesn't mean I'll eat one. . .

Having a child with #foodallergies and major #sensoryissues is always a challenge. We've been trying for years to get Taz to expand his food repertoire and have gotten nowhere.

When discussing fruits and vegetables with friends and colleagues who like to brag about all the healthy foods their kiddos eat, I always joke that:

Taz hasn't eaten a vegetable is his life, unless you count potato chips and french fries!

Problem is, I'm not joking.

Like all "good parents" we introduced Taz to vegetables first. Only organic baby food would do for our precious second child, whom we waited so long for.

We learned our lesson quickly. The fancy fruits and vegetables either came back up or caused hives and an asthma attack. Our precious boy had severe reflux and was apparently allergic to everything on the planet.

Long story short, all the jars of #EarthsBest went to waste, and by the time Taz could eat solid food and we had sorted out his allergies, he was on a very limited diet. #GFCF with multiple fruit and vegetable allergies added on.

Over the years we tried several times to reintroduce foods that Taz was no longer allergic to. We had only limited success and we struck out on vegetables entirely.

Fast forward to age almost 13 and here are a few discussions I have recently had with Taz about his diet.

- Seriously Taz, french fries are made from potatoes, whole ones are better for you. No way they're gross mom.

- Dude, you eat peaches in strawberry jello, why won't you eat peaches in peach jello? Duh, Mom, because the jello is orange (colored) and I hate orange jello.

- Why do I have to buy precooked hamburgers for you Taz? I can buy the frozen patties for much less and cook them in a pan. Ew gross Mom. I'm not eating something cooked from raw meat.

- Why didn't you eat your apple Taz? Uh duh, that's a red apple Mom. I only eat #goldendelicious apples.

Are you seeing a pattern here? If not, welcome to the world of the Tazmanian Devil.

Which brings me back to the title.

The other night DH and I were at the #DeKalbFarmersMarket stocking up on my #cancerfighting #antioxidant fruits and veggies, as well as our other favorite treats.

So I sent DH to get Taz's golden delicious apples and he also comes back with a bag of fresh shredded coconut. I looked at him and said "What are we buying that for? His response: Taz likes coconuts. My reply: There's no way he's going to eat that, he only likes ones in the shell that he can play will or use for art.

Needless to say, I  won that argument. We got home and Taz took one look at the bag of coconut and said "That's coconut milk." "I hate coconut and I'm alleric to milk."

I really had to laugh at that one. I also had to give Taz's points for creativity. After all, he IS allergic to Milk. Cow's milk anyway.

Welcome to our world!


March 16, 2015

Balancing Frustration With Joy

This past weekend I was sooo excited to put winter behind me and start my annual spring planting and trimming. We got our lakefront cleared, got bales and bales of pine straw and bought another dozen #knockout roses. I already have about four dozen in my yard and add on each year.

So while DH and Jessie planted the roses, I got out the big hedge clippers and started to cut back my massive hydrangeas. Less than five minutes later I quit in frustration and pain. I'm still recovering from major surgery and can't do most of the things I've done for years. Now I can add planting and pruning to my can't do list. It's getting quite long.

So I sat down on a bench in frustration and tried to convince myself that it's okay. It's part of my new norm. I told myself to remember that while I have a long way to go, I've already gone a great distance down this road.

As I pondered that thought, I looked at all the beauty and blessings around me. The Heron who showed up in my stream yesterday morning. Taz, who has finally recovered from a winter full of asthma and croup and who was happily paddling his raft around the lake while we worked on the yard. Having a husband and daughter who don't balk at spending every other spring weekend going to nurseries with me and then planting everything I bring home.

Lesson Learned!

Nianya's version of Newton's Law - For every frustration, there is an equal joy. I just have to take the time to look for it.


March 14, 2015

It's okay to drop the ball!

Today while looking in Taz's closet for dress clothes to wear to his friend's birthday party,  I realized just how much time I've lost while dealing with cancer, working a full time job and raising two special needs kids. I couldn't find a single sweater that would fit him and he grows very slowly. Majorly dropped the ball on that one.

I always manage to buy school uniforms but apparently I have skipped the necessary dress clothes for the past couple of years. Worse, we've gone through the whole winter, which was a really cold one, and I  haven't been shopping once. At least not at stores that sell preteen boys clothes.

Of course I practically live at Sam's Club and frequently go to BJ'S, but neither of these stores sell clothes in his size. Here's a shout out to both of these stores to start carrying a line of clothes for kids in between, i.e., not babies and toddlers, and not adult sizes.

Of course the real point is that I have no energy to shop at any store other than ones like Sam's Club were I have to go anyway to get bulk foods, prescriptions and household items.

The days of hitting the Outlet Malls are long gone and I only go to the mall if I absolutely have to.

Here's a perfect example. I recently needed some makeup that I could only get at a department store. So I go to Macy's and the requisite counter and the person there who was "filling in" could not find what I needed. She asked me to come back that afternoon when the regular person would be in. I guess she's used to people who go to the mall for hours on Saturday.

I wanted to say "Hello, I'm only here for one thing, I  haven't stepped inside the Mall for ages, I'm recovering from cancer, I have a sick #SNK child at home and I am Not coming back later!" That would have taken more energy than I had, so I bought a couple of other items and left without the one I came for.

It's hard enough being a mother to special needs children, but when you face your own illness and multiple surgeries too, it's beyond overwhelming.

Today was a perfect example of how I roll these days. I pulled out a pair of jeans, a school Polo and a school jacket and gave them to Taz. Then I made a mental note to buy him some nice sweaters between now and next winter. It's on the list along with so many other tasks that probably won't get done.

I'm trying to plan a special 13th birthday party for Taz in the next couple of weeks. The race is on and I can't even keep up with the tortoise. Anyone got a hare I can borrow?

My kudos and praise go out to any mom who can do more than the bare minimum while dealing with her own illness and raising special needs kids. Some days even the bare minimum is just too much.

On the bright side, I did manage to photograph the winter ball for Taz's school this week. It's something I do every year and really enjoy, and TG Taz's only suit still fits. I was exhausted afterwards but really enjoyed it. It's nice to know that a few of my favorite things are part of my new norm. And I learned a longtime ago that the world isn't going to fall apart just because I drop the ball.


November 16, 2014

Nianya's Law & The Holidays . . .

I have blogged about this in the past My own version of Murphy's Law.

Nianya's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible moment!

My solution?

1. Always be flexible and have a back up plan.

This often means upsetting the plans of relatives or friends. If your special needs kids have sensory issues or food allergies, holidays can be trying at best. Make it clear that any plans are subject to change. Maybe that just means arriving late and leaving early and bringing your own food.

2. Know when to hold them and when to fold them.

Don't over book and be prepared to cancel or change plans at the last minute. Sometimes you or your special needs child simple are not up to going out. Holiday plans are not school. They aren't mandatory not matter what anyone else says.

3. Ask your special needs child to help you when you need it.

Never underestimate your child's ability to help you at least when they reach an age at which they can do so. If you prepare them in advance and ask for their help, you may just find that they can help you solve any contingencies.

You can always negotiate with them. Keep a list of items, food or outings they want and offer a trade. Help me now and you can have x later.

4. Stock up on fun surprises for those unexpected times when you are homebound.

There are always times during the year when you will be stuck at home, whether it's due to illness, snow or other bad weather. Break out the old videos, a new or old game, or simple crafts. If they miss their friends, there is always Skype.

This year, facing several weeks of recovery from my upcoming surgery, I'm having to constantly rethink our holiday plans. We had them all set way in advance, but luckily nothing was set in stone. Now I'm busy brainstorming new ideas for things we can do here with just the four of us.

After more than 18 years as a special needs mom, I have learned to ride out the waves when life throws them at us, and I know that doing so only makes our family stronger.


November 11, 2014


Happy Veteran's Day and a special thanks to all, including friends and family, who have served or are still serving in our armed forces.

It's anything can happen, day, week, month and apparently year. When talking about special needs kids, I always emphasize that it's vital to never underestimate their abilities.

The "Great Scot" (above) has had a phenomenal first semester in college. She's ASD and ADHD but she has worked harder than most people I know to get where she is and stay there.

Sometimes it isn't easy. Especially, when fate intervenes at your conference tournament, right after you win an award. (ASC Soccer).  The link says it all, so I won't go in to detail, expect to say that she was one of the players who fell ill at the Conference tournament.

And then, there's the Tazmanian Sheldon (left). One minute, he's lecturing you on the characteristics of wormholes (What is a Wormhole?). The next minute he's freaking out because he can't find a red, white and blue shirt to wear to school for his Veteran's Day program. Yes, he did find one after a 15-minute frantic search. It's underneath his jacket, which he wears everywhere. It's okay though, because he knew he was wearing the right shirt, even if no one else did!

Never underestimate the genius inside a kid with ASD and ADHD, especially when you give him a computer and access to the internet. Just make sure you have a really good Net Nanny!

And then there's me. It's hard enough to raise special needs kids on any given day, but my hat is absolutely off to parents who are going through cancer while trying to keep tabs on their amazingly special kids. It's overwhelming, even for a parent who has been dealing with overwhelming for years while standing on her head.

Our lives now are defined by a bright line - BC & AD (Before Cancer & After Diagnosis). We are all on a new path and our family will only grow stronger because of this.


October 12, 2014

For now this post from another site says it all:

PRAYERS NEEDED: I have never been "Pretty in Pink." Nevertheless, the month of October has taken on a whole new meaning for me and our family. We have a long road ahead of us beginning with our first meeting with a surgeon on Weds. We are praying that this is a very early diagnosis!
In the meantime, I will continue to wear my eclectic black & gray and maybe a special pink pin or a bracelet. I am also going to take this opportunity to reinvent my blog for Parents with Special needs Children. I hope that as we get farther down this new road that I will be able to help other special needs parents who are dealing with this.


August 27, 2013

Never Underestimate Their Abilities

This is just a quick note since I haven't had time to blog lately. I have been on twitter so stay in touch with me there.

For all the parents out there who are just getting a special needs diagnosis or who are completely overwhelmed, I have one line of advice that will get you through the tough times.


That applies to us as special needs parents and everyone we come in contact with. Be it schools, relatives, or the public in general.

I have a high school senior who could not speak at age six and barely spoke when she was 10. Now she's speaking to college soccer coaches AND impressing them enough on the field to get potential offers for college.

I also have a 6th grader who nearly failed the 5th grade. This year he's going around bragging about how he tested out of 6th grade math. If you ask him what grade he's in, he'll say I'm in 6th this year, BUT I'M in 7th GRADE MATH!

Nuf Said!


April 2, 2013

World Autism Day


This day takes on new meaning each year in our house. Last night I thought this site had been hacked because it was forwarding to a political ad site. Turns out there was malicious script that was somehow connected to an Autism article I wrote about or link to.

Never a dull moment for us.

Taz a/k/a The Tazmanian Devil went to school with welts. He says they are from playing with insulation. . . more like playing with poison ivy. Of course the school called a short while later to say that he can't keep his cortisone cream with him. We'll see how that goes today.

On the upside, Jessie had her big Wax Museum project today at school and I was blessed with a day off to go and photograph the kids. For a girl who could not speak until she was 6 years old and barely spoke in public until a couple of years ago, it was an absolute joy to watch her dress up and give a speak about MIA HAMM, who as Jessie said, is largely considered to be the greatest female soccer play in history.

Jessie's report was aptly titled: MIA HAMM - FROM ADVERSITY TO THE WORLD CUP. Mia Hamm, who was born with a partially clubbed foot, is definitely an inspiration for a girl who was always very awkward and could not speak. At 17, Jessie has been playing competition soccer for years and is looking forward to playing in college, hopefully on a soccer scholarship.

Which brings me back to Taz. He has struggled this year in 5th grade, but he excels when given a project that draws on his creativity. He created a diorama last night of the Tabernacle from ancient history for his bible class. He did the work all by himself and it's really quite impressive. Although he struggles greatly with reading and writing he can express himself beautifully through his art.

Our whole family struggles with adversity but we can accomplish anything if we dare to dream!

September 5, 2012

Special Needs Advice from a Seasoned Traveler in Negotiating Educational Storms

No matter how old your special needs child is, eventually he or she will attend school and issues with teachers/administrators will arise.

Depending on the school your child attends, you may face issues throughout the year or just transitional issues with each new class/teacher. If your child is in public school you'll likely go through the IEP process.

Having a written plan is great, but you still have to make sure it's implemented.

If your child is in private school, you'll need to work with the administration and teachers to set up an educational plan.

Georgians also have the option of using the SB10 special needs scholarship to help fund private school tuition; however, once you elect the scholarship you give up your rights to the written IEP.

That said, you can still find a school that will work with your child within the guidelines written in your IEP.

Regardless of your situation, as a parent, you are your child's best advocate. That means:

  1. Always Be Prepared: Keep written notes and documents at close hand.
  2. Be Proactive: Set up private meetings with teachers at the beginning of each year.
  3. Communicate Constantly: with teachers, preferably via email so you have all the info in writing.
  4. Know Your Child's Best Needs: What works best for your child before you go into meetings, such flexibility in schedules, modification of work, asking for a particular teacher, extra tutoring etc...
  5. Have an Alternate Plan: If your current educational plan isn't working then figure out what changes your child needs to succeed.
  6. Never Panic: Work through the crisis in your head and on paper before you go into meetings.
As the parent of two SNKs, I've been through dozens of these meetings in more types of schools than I care to imagine: Montessori, Public, Charter & Private. Every year, both of my kids face crises that always have to be dealt with immediately.

I learned a long time ago to keep written records of everything, and I learned what works best for each of my children. You never know when you'll have to face a SUDDEN STORM: change in doctors or medication which effects your child's school performance, a sudden change in teachers that just doesn't work, an illness that throws a complete wrench in your child's routine or an annual transition to a new classroom/school that just doesn't work out.

This year our son, moved to middle school at his private school. He went from 1 teacher/1 classroom to 3 teachers/3 classrooms. Can you spell HURRICANE? And we saw it coming, but still weren't prepared.

One month later it was fast turning into a Category 5.

Today I went into a teacher meeting with a worse case scenario--the possibility of having to move the child back to his teacher/classroom from last year who would continue teaching him his current curriculum without changing classes.

I thought that was going to be the end result and was prepared for it. Instead I found that the teachers were all willing to work with our child through a series of modifications.

In other words, we modified his plan, rather than scraping it and going with a new one. We're going to ride out this storm head on, but we're battening down all the hatches!

At the same time we let the teachers know that we are 100% on board with enforcing the new plan on our end. If they send home written homework assignments we will see that they are finished correctly, and turn back in. We will work on our child's organization skills (zero) with his teachers' help.

Long story short, no education plan will work unless every player--teachers, administrators, students and parents--is completely on board and willing to work together to ride out the rough seas.

We are all in the Educational Boat together!


July 4, 2012

Chuck E Cheese goes Electric. . .but until they change their policy on food allergies I won't bite. . .

It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ap new chuck e cheese ll 120704 vblog Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar
CEC Entertainment Inc/AP Photo
The parent company of the kid-friendly pizza chain has just given the pink slip to its long-time rodent mascot, trading in the baseball hat and glove-wearing older version for a younger, hipper electric-guitar-playing mouse.
Texas-based CEC Entertainment plans to formally introduce the new mascot in a national ad campaign set to launch Thursday, but teased what’s to come on the chain’sFacebook page with a shadowed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock Like This Before.”It’s advertised as the place where a kid, no matter what their age, can be a kid, but nobody told the bosses at Chuck E. Cheese that age is just a number.
ed mouse holding a guitar next to the text, “You’ve Never Seen Chuck Rock 

Chuck E. Cheese Ditches Retro Rodent for Rockstar - ABC News

Regular blog followers may remember Taz's 5th birthday when we went to the local Chuck E. Cheese for his party and were informed that he could not eat his special #GFCF food there. . .the manager made him eat his dinner in the car during his own birthday party.

We even contacted corporate afterwards to complain because they have no problem with folks bringing in Cakes and Cupcakes. We were informed that the restaurants do not allow any outside food except Cakes and Cupcakes. Until they change this policy we won't be back no matter how well "Chuck Rocks."

June 26, 2012

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?

This article is a perfect example of why American Parents are generally failing when it comes to raising their children. The same can be said about our special needs children. Any child can be taught to regularly do chores, set the table, take out the garbage, pick up their clothes etc...

Just make it part of their routine. My special needs kids have chores. Do yours?

June 25, 2012

Starting ADHD Medication at younger age May Improve Test Scores

Both my kids started before 4th Grade and Taz actually started in pre-K. He was one of the rare recommendations for starting at such an early age because of behavior and complete inability to stay still for even a few minutes.

Just remember that your kids need to be evaluated regularly for correct dosage as they grow and advance in school and it's a good idea to discuss newer options each year with your doctor, since medications change and no one size fits all.

Starting ADHD Medication By Fourth Grade May Improve Test Scores, Study Finds - ABC News

Photo: "You say jump, I say how high" ©nianya-photography

June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Mystic and all Special Needs Dads

In our house Father's Day means the first day this year that we will have full respite. . .Taz is at the beach for the summer with Camp Auntie and cousin and Jessie's off to soccer camp for 4 days. We've come a long way since the days of not even being able to sit in a restaurant with our children.

I was very pleased to see a great article on Dads struggling with autism in our local paper today.

Dads struggle with child's autism, embrace parenting  |

April 4, 2012

The Tazmanian Chronicles

Are you wondering what these pictures have in common?

3 words . . .

The Tazmanian Devil

and in honor of World Autism Awareness Day this week as well as Autism Awareness Month, I'm adding another chapter to my on again/off again Taz Tales. . .

Taz started my week by getting bitten by a dog who he was warned not to pet. The next day he sliced his finger at Art Camp while collecting old cans at the park to make a robot. Today, two days later he successfully went turtle fishing in our lake, captured a a fat snapping turtle and I'll just let you guess the outcome of that encounter.

And this evening, of course, he insisted on immediately spending his $10 in birthday money from Grandma. . .problem is he wanted a 1-man raft (blow-up style, no oars and no pump), which he can't take on our lake and would probably have gotten a hole in it on the first trip out even if he could have.

It took me 10 minutes in the store to convince him that he had to buy something else. . .there was no way I was putting up with the inevitable 5-alarm meltdown that would have occurred as soon as he got the thing home and finally digested the fact that he couldn't pump the thing up, much less take it out on the lake.

So he settled for a set of giant Boxing Gloves. . .hmmmm will have to see if that was a good idea.

Taz may be autistic, but he's incredibly artistic and he's ALL BOY. . .how many boys go through life without being bitten by a dog and a turtle or slicing their finger on an old can.

And I'm sure there will be a post script to this edition of the chronicles because the week is after all only half over.


December 22, 2011

How the Special Needs Mommy Rolls. . .

It has been one he** of a week. . .one thing after another. . .Taz sick again, his surgeon trying to bill another $1K from August surgery, me sick now and major transmission problems with my car while driving out of town yesterday to drop the 9yo #ASD Tazmanian Devil with his cousin, aunt and grandma for Christmas respite care.

In other words, just an average week in our house where we live according to Nianya's Law:

If anything can go wrong, it will, at the worst possible moment.

So Taz has been bugging me for an Annoying Orange for Christmas and it isn't called the "Annoying" orange for nothing. . .see for yourself

Needless to say, I don't want one in the house. I've already got a Tazmanian Devil, I don't need an annoying orange.

Yes, yes, I know, he's special needs and we special needs mommies will do anything for our kids. . .we'll almost anything.

A couple of weeks ago, just to assuage my mommy guilt, I looked for one on Amazon. Nada, nothing available for prime shipping and I refuse to pay shipping to a non-Amazon seller. Then, Dh got Daddy guilt and actually walked into a Toys R Us (OMG taboo in our house) and looked for it there. Nothing nada.

So when Taz asked about it a couple of days ago, I told him Santa could not find any. He said "get real Mom, they have them at Toys R Us, they said so on TV." I said "no they don't we checked."

In the meantime, Taz had another bad asthma attack, got a sinus infection and another bout of recurring eczema that makes all the skin peal off his fingers. . .need I go on.

On the way out of town yesterday, I decided to search Amazon one more time. Again, just to get past my mommy guilt.

Low and behold they had one available for free 2-day ship if I ordered it before 5pm. But can't have it shipped to aunt's address from my cell phone, so had to wait until we got back home to order it.

Needless to say, after the car broke down on the freeway, we had it towed 60 miles, left it out of town and got a rental, we did not get home till very late. So no annoying orange. . .

Or so I thought, mommy guilt kicked back in this morning and I got back on Amazon, found the last annoying orange that was available for shipping before Christmas and paid the $3.99 overnight charge to have it sent to Taz's aunt with instructions to wrap the da** thing and mark it from Santa.

This is how we roll. . .special needs mommy guilt assuaged!


P.S. Off to the Dollar Store today to stock up on Tylenol. I'm going to need it for my headaches when that orange comes back home after Christmas.

P.P.S. Taz got his Annoying Orange in his Christmas stocking. Now he knows there really is a Santa Claus.

December 15, 2011

Amateur treasure hunter finds Viking king's silver. . .

Fascinating story. Nothing like buried treasure with old history attached.

Amplify’d from
Viking Treasure Found With Metal Detector

Darren Webster, a metal detector enthusiast, stopped by a field near Canforth, northern England, to practice his hobby and uncovered a hoard of silver Viking treasure buried three feet (0.9 meters) below the earth, The (London) Times reported Thursday.

The 201 silver objects -- including 27 coins, 10 arm-rings, six brooch fragments, two finger rings, a fine wire braid and 14 ingots -- were put on display at the British Museum.

When the exact value of the silver hoard is calculated next year, Webster will be allowed to keep half of its value under the UK's Treasure Act, with the owner of the field, who wished to remain anonymous, taking the other half.


The Autism Question

What is Autism?

You can Google that phrase and find thousands of instant answers, all except the one you'll need when your teen is sitting with a group at school, who don't know she's autistic, and they ask that question.

In a perfect world her response should be "Ask me, not the group. I'm the expert, because I'm the one who's autistic." But this isn't a perfect world and she's not ready for that yet.

So instead, I find myself Googling "How to talk to school kids about autism". . .and needless to say, that search was useless. All I get are expert opinions on How to Talk to an Autistic Child. . .ummm figured that out long ago.

So I try searching "How to talk to Normal school kids about autism". . .and I get nothing but "advice" about autistic children attending Normal schools.

And let's face it, we autistic parents hate the word Normal because our kids are not Abnormal or Different, they are just autistic.

I could keep searching for days and not find any useful information on how my teen should handle this situation, so I'm crying uncle after only two useless searches.

I've always been a firm believer that you can Google anything. Now, I'm amending that opinion to: you can Google anything but useful information on how to deal with questions like these from your autistic child.

That said, I just went with my gut instinct. I told my teen that the next time her classmates start discussing autism and asking questions, she should just tell them to "Ask my mother" she's autistic and so is my little brother.

Almost 16yo Jessie's response to that suggestion was "Won't they figure out that I'm autistic too?" and I replied, "probably, but would that be so bad?"

That's what we are working toward in our house. "Coming out from under the safety blanket of autism." I'm sick and tired of hiding under that blanket and hoping that no one, outside of teachers and therapists, equates the word "Autistic" with our family.

There is such a thing as being too safe, living in too much of a bubble and not facing the world and its realities.

The safety blanket was necessary when my autistic children were very young, because I like all parents want to protect my children from as much as possible.

The safety blanket, however, no longer works for my high school student and it isn't going to help in college and beyond.

I want my teen to embrace who she is and be as comfortable as possible in her own skin.

It isn't easy being autistic but Jessie has some amazing talents that normal kids can only dream of, so why should she hide under a blanket and pretend autism doesn't exist.


P.S. For those with young autistic children, there really are autism blankets which are weighted to help meet children's sensory needs and provide a cozy, calm, safe feeling. Just Google Autism Blanket and you'll get tons of options.

December 14, 2011 Add Santa to your home photos

Very nice idea, though if my kids were still young enough, I could just photoshop Santa into my own pic for free. Good price for those who don't have photoshop.

Amplify’d from

$11 for 4 Custom Images and a Video of Santa in your Home! ($25 value, save 55%)


Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.

In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via email, Facebook and Twitter. Last-minute shoppers can send this to friends and loved ones with children, making a great gift idea even if you don't have kids yourself.


November 29, 2011

Codecademy - Learn to program for free

Love this idea!

Amplify’d from

Codecademy says it can turn anyone into a Web programmer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's a tough economy out there, but there's at least one skill in high demand: programming.

Industry veterans insist that almost anyone can master the basics of software coding. Now, a pair of entrepreneurs have teamed up to test that idea with a company called Codecademy, which aims to make learning to program simple and fun.

"Coding is going to be the literacy of the 21st Century, and we think we have the easiest way to do it," says co-founder Zach Sims.

"It's totally different from books that are one-way learning experiences," he says. "We think it should be more interactive, more fun than something in a book, where you read for half an hour and then you go code."

Right now, everything on Codecademy is free. Users receive badges and points for completing lessons. The site currently has four multi-part courses available -- a "coding 101" class and three JavaScript trainers -- but it hopes to ramp up quickly. Launched in June, the New York-based site has already attracted $2.5 million in a funding round led by Union Square Ventures and is a graduate of Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley's most closely watched incubators.


November 28, 2011

Items in '12 Days of Christmas' now top $100K

Think maybe it's time to get back to the true meaning of Christmas?

Amplify’d from

Items in '12 Days of Christmas' now top $100K

PITTSBURGH — The price of partridges, pear trees and turtle doves has spiked, pushing the cost of every item mentioned in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" above $100,000 for the first time.

Holding mostly steady this year: maids-a-milking, ladies dancing, lords-a-leaping and gold rings.

The 364 items repeated across all the song's verses would cost $101,119, an increase of 4.4 percent over last year, according to the annual Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The broader government Consumer Price Index increased by 3.9 percent over the same period.

"The story in general is wages are still a very sluggish part of this economy," said Dunigan, who noted that the price of eight maids-a-milking at minimum wage was $58 — the same as in 2009.

But last-minute shoppers who turn to the Internet may be in for some surprises. The core list that costs about $24,000 in stores will come to $39,860 online — a whopping 16.1 percent increase over Internet prices last year. Dunigan said the high cost of shipping live birds explains some of the difference.


November 27, 2011

Frosty arrested - End of the World as we know it!

Amplify’d from

'Frosty the Snowman' arrested at Maryland parade

CHESTERTOWN, Md. — Who says "Frosty the Snowman" has to be jolly?

A man in a "Frosty the Snowman" costume was arrested Saturday during the annual Christmas parade in Chestertown, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He's accused of scuffling with police and kicking at a police dog.

Walsh told The Associated Press that he has dressed as Frosty in the parade for at least 10 years. He says he was wrongfully arrested. He says an officer hassled him after he remarked about the police dog's presence. He says he became agitated only after getting arrested.


November 26, 2011

Jobs by Horoscope. . .

Better than waiting in long lines to apply I suppose. . .

Amplify’d from

Scorpios and Virgos Need Not Apply

gty astrological clock ll 111125 wblog Scorpios and Virgos Need Not Apply

Experience and skills are secondary when it comes to hiring by one Chinese firm. What matters most is your celestial sign.

“We don’t want Scorpios or Virgos, and Capricorns, Pisces and Libras will be prioritized,” reads ad posted at a university in the city of Wuhuan, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported.

According to the Telegraph, the company,  which does English-language training, believes that Scorpios are moody and have overpowering personalities, while Virgos are overly critical and constantly changing jobs.


November 25, 2011

How to save you credit score on Black Friday. . .

Two Words: DON'T SHOP!

It's not rocket science. It's just good sense.

Amplify’d from

7 Ways to Save Your Credit Score on Black Friday

Overspending on gifts around the holidays isn’t something uncommon. In fact, with high lines of credit available to consumers, credit card companies are doing everything they can to ensure that we overspend.

In a society that oftentimes requires individuals to borrow, one’s credit score is increasingly an important number. Companies use algorithms to calculate how much credit an individual can obtain. With recent dips in the economy and foreclosures on the rise, many people are wondering if there are a few easy ways to improve their credit scores? Here are my seven top tips:

1. Pay bills on time
2. Don’t go crazy over the holidays
3. Keep yourself under 50% of available credit
4. Credit card deals aren’t really "deals"
5. Get help if you are having trouble
6. Get on a budget
7. Get a copy of your credit report

November 20, 2011

Camping Out for Black Friday

Case in point: Some of us have to work the two weeks before the Big Event and no doubt will easily earn more money than we could save on anything by camping out in front of a store for two weeks before Black Friday. Just saying.

Amplify’d from

Black Friday Hours Create Employee Revolt

PHOTO: Getting Ready For Black Friday

Case in point: Tito Hernandez, who has been camping in a tent outside of a St. Petersburg, Fla., Best Buy store since last Monday. You read that right, last Monday, nearly two weeks before the big day.

"Definitely having fun here," Hernandez said with a smile. "Looking to save some money and get some good deals."

And are those bargains really worth all the crowds and chaos? Turns out, you may actually be better off waiting. According to Consumer Reports, last year more than a quarter of the most popular electronics were marked down in the two weeks after Black Friday.


November 18, 2011

Surviving Thanksgiving #ASD, #ADHD

This is why we leave town for a just the 4 of us get away each Thanksgiving; no relatives, a hotel with maid service and breakfast and no meals to cook or clean. Also fun stuff out to do besides the wasted Black Friday shopping. I'm a bigger fan of Cyber Monday.

With special needs kids, it's the only way to go!

Amplify’d from

Surviving the Relatives This Thanksgiving


Honestly, I don’t know how we all do it over the holidays — with a smile no less — even when the guests are oh-so-annoying, the visiting toddler grinds cracker crumbs into the carpet, the tween refuses to eat anything she’s served and the uncle falls asleep on the couch, snoring loudly. 

There will be squabbling cousins, know-it-all brothers-in-law, aunts who can’t resist criticizing your cooking and bored teens who make it clear they would rather be anywhere else. Let’s not forget the vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters who make every meal a challenge. Never mind what we think gatherings should be like. The reality is young kids are discombobulated by travel, unfamiliar surroundings and too much sugar; grown-ups are discombobulated by travel, overeating and over-drinking. 


November 17, 2011

Economy Down Heels Up. . .

I wonder if the reason isn't more that higher heels make women feel taller and feel like they have more of a "leg up" in down times. . .they come across as stronger in a weak economy.

Amplify’d from

High Heels for a Down Economy?

gty high heels nt 111117 wblog High Heels for a Down Economy?

A look back at decades of shoe fashion research reveals that high heels soared during the worst recessions. “Usually in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” says Dr. Trevor Davis, a consumer products expert with IBM Global Services.

The average heel height today is six inches, more than double what it was the 1970s.


November 10, 2011

No more Gmail app for Blackberry

Shame on Google. . .normally I support them whole-heartedly, since I used Gmail, Picasa, Blogger, Google+, Google Calendar, you name it.

Luckily I have a Droid not, but my husband still uses a Blackberry as do many we know and he uses Gmail exclusively.

Very Bad Move Google!

Amplify’d from

Gmail to Stop Providing Email App for BlackBerry

gty google mobile email thg 111110 wblog Gmail to Stop Providing Email App for BlackBerry

Google has offered a free app that BlackBerry users can download to read their Gmail on the go, but it has now announced that as of Nov. 22, it will stop. No more downloads, no more technical support if you already have the app. The app will still work if you have it (go to on your handheld if you still want to get it), but Google says it would prefer you just use the browser on your handheld instead. (Just go to It’s slow but it works.)