Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Hi everyone! Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, so when I push "Publish" I will have officially completed the challenge! 

We didn't do much at all today. I worked some more on all my craft projects that I have happening. We also got to talk to Sunny and Squeak on Skype. It made me miss him a lot, and that made me sad, because being on Skype is not the same as really being there. But it is fun to watch him play and laugh and stuff! He is getting really big! He will be just about bursting out of the snowsuits we got him!

Also we decorated the house for Christmas. My job is usually to put up the manger... this is the one thing I am trusted with, because my mom, of course, likes everything to be "just so." She started letting my brother and I do the manger when we were little because we wanted to do something to help. We also used to have our own little Christmas tree upstairs by our room. 

My mom's manger was passed down in her family for several generations, and started out in Italy with her relatives. We don't have all the original pieces, because a lot have broken over the years. We've also added a lot of random pieces that don't really belong. 

Sometimes when I do the manger, I like to make it a little goofy and see if anyone notices. I know, I crack myself up, don't I? Here is a picture of our manger. Can you spot anything a little "off" about this scene?
Was this what the original event looked like?

Tomorrow is December 1 and I will be making a fun announcement, so stay tuned.

For now, I am going to go see what I can find for dinner! I already ate the rest of the baked macaroni and cheese, but word on the street is there are some mashed potatoes hidden somewhere in the fridge. 

Goodbye, Nablopomo! See you next year! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Black Friday?

i wish life was more like the FUN kind of rollercoaster!
Hi everyone! I hope you all had great Thanksgiving celebrations! Mine was okay. My family is a little odd because all of the ages of my cousins and I are spread out... there is me and my brother, and then two cousins who are in their 20's, and then the other cousins are ages 11, 9, 8, and 4. I am in an awkward place in my family because I am the only cousin over the age of 18 who still lives in the state of Illinois, let alone stays in their childhood home with their two parents. So a lot of the time at family gatherings, I get grouped as one of the children... not like I am a small child, but more like as if I were a teenaged cousin. I'm always kind of expected to stay down in the basement and supervise all the children while they play. 

I totally don't mind spending some time with them. In fact, I usually organize some sort of craft or activity for them when the family gathering is at my house. They are all very sweet little kids. But I don't get to spend any time at all with any of the adults in my family, unless some of them come down to check on us. 

I kind of want to stand up for myself and say that I will do a craft or activity with the kids but then I am going to go be with the adults. But then I would look like a total asshole for not wanting to hang out with my cousins. And I do want to hang out with them... but not exclusively, not as if my place in the family always has to be as a babysitter for the little kid!

Except of course for Squeak. When Squeak is here I will want to watch him all day long! 

Maybe I'm just moody, anyway. I've been a rollercoaster. Simple things make me happy or sad. I get so happy about little things like baked macaroni and cheese, blog comments, and learning Spanish. I was happy this morning because I was texting Auntie M, but then I got sad and homesick when I started thinking about how I wont see her or Uncle J for a really long time still. Happy... then sad... then happy... then sad... I annoy my own self! 

Anyways... so today my mom and I got up early and did the Black Friday thing. My mom wanted to look for more things for Squeak She keeps looking for a snowsuit for him. We already have two different snowsuits for him but she keeps wanting a different kind or a different size or something. While she was lamenting about the snowsuits at Carsons, I wandered into the toy section, where I found a huge sale! It took me about five minutes flat to find the perfect gifts for all four of my little cousins and Squeak! I even wrapped them already! I am totally on top of things.

I spent the rest of the day doing arts and crafts because I am making a lot of gifts. I got store-bought things for the little kids because it is harder to make toys and stuff that kids would like... but I am making stuff for a lot of the grown ups. But not my mom. She wants ear buds.

I really wish I could show you all the stuff I have been making! When it works out well, I get so excited and start jumping up and down and spinning like crazy, which you would probably think is weird if you saw me, but in my house nobody even notices anymore! I was jumping up and down for like twenty minutes today when I finished one of the presents for my brother! I even start thinking, maybe I should start an Etsy shop and make some money... but then when I look on Etsy, I see everything there is made so carefully and professionally. My arts and crafts projects are like me... quirky, colorful, and not perfect! 

I wish I could show you everything I made so far. I can't show you, because certain people (like Sunny) peruse this blog sometimes, and they'd see what they're getting. But I am taking pictures, and after Christmas I will post the things I made... and maybe even write up some tutorials so people can make their own. 

Also... I already mentioned this on Facebook I think, but the children's book I wrote goes into print tomorrow, and you can actually already order it today from the website! I don't want to link to it here because it is published under my secret identity... but because I trust my readers, if you are interested, message me or comment here and I will personally send you the link to my top-secret website. 

OK I am going to end this blog entry now and go back to my arts and crafts making!

By the way, tomorrow is the last day of NaBloPoMo. And I successfully completed every single day! What do I get? A million dollars? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Obligatory Thanskgiving Post

The REAL first Thanksgiving?
 I know that on Thanksgiving, by law of the Blogosphere and society and all that is good, I am supposed to write a list of all the things I am thankful for. 

Since I generally hate doing what I'm told to do, I was going to write a lovely rant about why Thanksgiving kind of sucks because we're celebrating our first meal with some people who we later completely screwed over. But we all know that, right? Turkeys and Native Americans are not thankful to us. Just as long as we're clear on that. 

Anways. If we put the past behind us and think about Thanksgiving as it is today, we can say it is a day that we stop and be thankful for everything we have... a day to take a deep breath and reflect, before we completely dive into the commercialism of Christmas. 

And I am thankful. For a whole bunch of the usual stuff. I am thankful I managed to find some sort of job. I am very thankful for the new connection with my Aunt M and Uncle J that I got to have... it is awesome to feel like part of a bigger family! I am thankful for my bro having Sunny in his life and for our little Squeak. I am thankful for my doggies. I am thankful that my little car continues to run well and has never failed me yet... it has lasted longer than any other car I've ever had! (It's a 1997, by the way.) I am thankful for food and a warm bed and luxuries like the Internet. 

And you know what I am really, really thankful for? You guys! You are my friends. This blog is the only safe place in my world, where I can just go and totally be myself and be as cranky as I want to be, and someone will always reply with, "Yeah, sometimes I feel like that too," or "thank you for your honesty." I know there are people from my real life, who I don't even get to see that often (or at all) who take the time to come read my blog, and it is awesome to feel like someone out there is listening. Reading your comments is often the best part of my day. 

It is also a place where I can read other people's blogs, and never feel completely alone, because, hey, look, this person loves animals as much as I do, and this person hates when people talk with their mouth full, and this person has difficulty in social situations.

I am also thankful when I read about all of you parents out there who are raising kids with ADHD, autism, and other special needs. I read about the thought you put into parenting, how you try to find ways to balance bringing your child closer to the rest of the world and trying to get the rest of the world to meet them halfway. I didn't have that. When I read your blogs, I sometimes want to cry for the child I was... but I am thankful that these new children won't have to go through what I went through. They have their families behind them, no matter what. You parents are just such good people, such nice moms and dads, and it restores my faith in the world. 

So, thank you, all of you, who are reading this right now. You know who you are. You are awesome. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Don't Want To Eat My Friends!

He is not really happy. 
 I like to say I am an aspiring vegetarian. I really hate the idea of eating meat.

The reason is because I love all animals, and I think of all animals as my friends! I can't stand the thought of any animal being killed or even hurt.

I cried my eyes out once when I saw a dead coyote by the side of the road. I cried when I read a story about a horse that drowned in a flood. I cried when my mom told me about a bobcat eating a rabbit when she was in Arizona. I cried when my parents bought a mousetrap. (I don't think they have managed to put it in the attic yet, because I will have a conniption fit if they do!) I cry every time I read those traumatizing stories on Facebook about the mean things people do to animals.

So does it make a lot of sense that I would eat dead animals? 

I do though, somehow. I've tried to be a vegetarian on and off. It is harder right now though because I live with my parents and my mom sometimes makes dinner for everyone. So if she makes something it is kind of awkward to just not eat it, or eat something else. Or, like, my dad really enjoys meat, so if I go out to eat with him he will usually choose a hamburger or hotdog place. Which would mean my only option would be to eat a side salad. And I don't really like salad all that much,. Unless it is a really good salad from Portillo's or someplace. So if we go out to eat, I might choose meat. But i have to try not to think about it. Probably, about 75% of the time, I don't eat meat. I subsist on things like avocado sandwiches, noodles, rice, etc. 

The reason I am posting this today is because, everywhere I look, there are jokes and things about turkeys not wanting to get eaten. There are even children's books about turkeys trying to figure out ways of evading getting eaten by people. It is bad enough to eat meat when you think of it as an animal that was once alive. But to think of an animal that is actively trying to avoid being killed, and then eat it? After it just worked so hard at not dying? HOW IS THAT FUNnY?

I don't think I am going to eat the turkey tomorrow. Even though I know it will smell good. I don't even like the taste of meat that much... I mostly just like what you put on it! For instance, if I ate a turkey sandwich, with mayo, I would probably be just as happy to eat bread and tofu with mayo. Or just bread with mayo. And there is also a lot of other food at the feast that is way more delicious. Like baked macaroni and cheese! 

Besides, if the turkey is supposed to be part of the "traditional" feast eaten at the first Thanksgiving (which didn't really happen anyways, but let me not get started on that...) we should probably also be eating eagles and seals. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Got A Liebster Award! (No, not a LOBSTER Award...)

Hi everyone! Well, I am barely making it through the end of NaBloPoMo! Thinking of something interesting and worthwhile to write about every day is tough! 

I'm excited to tell you that I got my very second blogging award! This is also going to constitute my creating a whole new page for all my awards. Now that I am a two-time award winning blogger and all. 

Carrie, from Little Bird Blogs, nominated me for the Liebster Award!  

Blogging awards are a little different from normal awards, because being "nominated" for one actually means you have one, and nothing more ever comes of it. Also, each person who gets nominated has to go on to nominate some more bloggers. The Liebster Award is particularly for bloggers with less than 200 followers. Officially, I have 3 followers on Google, although I know that there are a handful of other people who do "follow" through Facebook, Bloglovin, etc. I'm fairly certain it is way less than 200 though! 

Okay. Here are the rules. When you get the award, you have to...
1. Link the person who nominated you.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 10 Liebster questions given by the person who nominated you.
4. Pick 10 bloggers with under 200 followers to be nominated for the award.
* I assume that's under 200 on Bloglovin but I can't be certain. 
5. Come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
6. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs. 
Nominees: PLEASE comment on this post with the link to your post. 

I already linked to Little Bird  Blogs. It is a funny blog. Go read it immediately. 

11 random facts about me? Is there anything you still don't know about me? Let's find out.
  1.      I have only broken three bones in my life. The first was my ring finger, which snapped while I was playing softball in 8th grade gym class. The fact that the ball came near enough to me to break my finger was somewhat of a miracle, considering I mostly tuned out in gym! The second time, I broke my toe because I was jumping off the bed and I jumped off and landed funny. And the third time, I broke my toe again a few years later, by jumping off the front stoop and landing funny! I should stop jumping off of things. 
  2.      I like to sleep with a night light. I don't like opening my eyes to total darkness! 
  3.      I put a little bowl of water on a bookshelf near my bed at night, so that my Small Dog can get a drink if she's thirsty. My mom hates that I do this, and once threatened to kick me out of the house because of it!
  4.     I am a good whistler! I can't whistle with my fingers though. But I can whistle a song! Its actually a habit.
  5.      Another habit I have is singing! I am always singing at home! I am not a good singer or anything... it just comes spilling out of me. Sometimes I make up new words to already existing songs... like "Get up, get up Little Puppy, get up, get up, Little Puppy," to the tune of :"10 Little Indians." (I think it is against the law to sing that song to children these days!) 
  6.      I didn't learn to drive until I was 21. People kept trying to teach me, but I had such a hard time with it! I finally forced myself to learn because I was moving to a small town in Colorado with no public transportation. My dad practiced with me so that I could pass the driving test in Illinois... and I basically taught myself to drive the rest of the way, on the wide open mountain roads of Mesa County! 
  7.     I can almost speak Spanish! Periodically I try to teach myself Spanish, and when I hear people speaking it I can almost understand it! If people spoke really slow all the time, I could probably understand. Especially if they stuck to conversations like, "The man eats an apple," and "The red shirt is mine!" 
  8.     When I was a kid I had a parakeet. He was an awesome parakeet who flew freely around the house and was best friends with the dog we had at the time. He met an untimely death when I was 9.
  9.      I have two cousins who I have only met once in my whole life! Actually, that isn't exactly true, because they did come to my house a few times when I was very little, but I don't remember it well. They are 7 and 9 years older than me. We are friends on Facebook.though. 
  10.      I can say the alphabet backwards! I originally learned this skill in junior high, and I used to use it to amuse drunk people. I think the idea came from someone telling me that they were told to say the alphabet backwards in a field sobriety test, and they couldn't do it, even though they were sober! 
  11.      I suck at following politics. I have no idea what is going on in the world most of the time. We could be getting attacked by zombies, and I wouldn't find out about it until they were outside my door. I do try to read news stories and stuff, but I just can't pay attention! I just assume most of it is bad news.
So that is my eleven things. Good, good. Moving on...  I now have to answer the questions that Carrie posted on her blog for the award nominees. 

1. What is your favorite thing about the city you're in? Uh... nothing? I am not really in a city, but a pretty run-down little suburb with nothing too exciting in it. I mean, there is nothing to get excited about here. My favorite thing about Chicago is that there is a lot to do... you could go to the beach, or Navy Pier, or any of the museums, or the zoos or the parks or just wander around and sightsee.
2. What is the most obvious common denominator in your group of friends? I don't really have a group of friends. I mean, there are a few disconnected people I could call my friends, but they don't know each other or anything... but probably the biggest common denominator would be loving animals. . 
3. What is the most obvious difference between you and them? See the answer to number 2. 
4. What is one silly/irrational belief you had as a child? I read this book where a girl was swimming in the ocean and got stung by a man-o-war. So I thought man-o-wars were in any body of water, including Lake Michigan, the swimming pool, and my bathtub. 
5. What is your worst habit? Sometimes, interrupting. I barely talk in groups, but when I am excited about a topic, I tend to just blurt things out! 
6. Name one random act of kindness someone has done for you. One time when I was homeless, it was Christmas, and I was sitting on a chair in the train depot.It was really crowded and people were bustling back and forth. Someone walked by and dropped an empty cigarette pack in my lap. I was like, "Hmm, weird," and I opened it up (I didn't smoke, but would have enjoyed having something to share with others) and there were ten single dollar bills rolled up inside! I have always remembered that, and I will never forget it. 
7. Name one super exciting moment in your life. Finding out that I was going to be an aunt! I was so excited! I still am! It still doesn't seem real. I feel like at any moment I am going to wake up and realize it was just a dream. 
8. What is one word you'd use to describe yourself? Quirky. 
9. What milestone year (5,13,16,21,25,30) stands out the most?  21 was the best! It was actually a really great year for me! I had a job I loved, I actually had some really close friends, and I was starting to have some normal 21-year-old experiences. Also that was the year I moved to Colorado. 
10. What character on tv or in a movie do you most relate to? Oh I don't know, I have difficulty relating to people on TV. I still identify with Punky Brewster, though. I really wish she had been real. I bet if she was, and she grew up, she and I would totally hang out! 

Okay. Whew, Is anyone exhausted yet? Let's keep going! 
I now have to nominate ten people for this award. I am really going to try not to nominate the same people I nominated for my last award. I'll try to mix it up a little. This is also going to be hard because Bloglovin doesn't really show the public how many followers a blog has, except for your own blog. But I'll come up with my own algorithm I guess. Okay. Ten blogs. Let's see! 

 If you've already gotten it before, I totally won't be mad if you skip it this time around! 

OK. If you do choose to participate, here are your ten questions...

1. What is your very first memory of childhood?
2. Do you have any pets?
3. Would you rather live in the city, country, or suburbs? And where do you live now?
4. What book do you think I should read?
5. If someone gave you a million dollars BUT said you don't get to keep it for yourself... you have to use it to make positive changes in the world... what would you do with it?
6. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
7. What band do you think I should check out?
8. What is your favorite holiday?
9. What do you want for Christmas?
10. Who would win in a fight... Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?

That's it. I'm done. ::Passes out::

Monday, November 25, 2013

Those Bastards! They Killed Brian!

I've got something to admit. One of my favorite shows is "Family Guy." I know it is a crude show that makes fun of everything... I mean, everything. And that makes a lot of people hate it, or at least claim to hate it. But it makes me crack up laughing every time I watch it. I could probably write a whole post explaining why I like the politically-incorrect humor of this show. Maybe some day I will. (Short version... a lot of times when they make fun of something or appear to have a point of view about something, they actually are just ridiculing that point of view. But anyways...)

So this morning I got onto the computer to check my email, and I saw a news article that said a character from Family Guy had been killed off. I didn't watch Family Guy last night. I usually watch it with my Dad, but we generally DVR the episodes or see them On Demand. So I had no idea who died. 

I clicked, and found out that the show killed off my favorite character! 
NOOOOOOO! Not Brian!!!

There are a lot of reasons why Brian is my favorite character. The least not of which is that he is a dog. And I love all dogs... even cartoon dogs who drink martinis!

The funniest thing about Brian is that he usually acts like a person, and sometimes acts like a dog. He walks on his hind legs, talks, has been to college, and even drives the car. But sometimes his doggie instincts take over... like when he's happy his tail starts wagging, and when he eats table scraps off the floor, and when he barks at people he doesn't like. In one episode he started having peeing accidents on the floor. In another episode, Peter is lost at sea, so Lois marries Brian, but they never consummated the marriage. When Peter comes back, Lois starts dating him again. Brian gets suspicious, so Lois distracts him by showing him a tennis ball! 

Brian is also a good person, or, um, dog. He usually does the right thing. He always takes care of Stewie and the two of them are best friends, even though they sometimes play tricks on each other. And there is one episode when he takes Meg (the character nobody likes) to the prom, because she doesn't have a date. 

When I heard the news, I texted my dad (the only other Family Guy fan in my household) and we had the following text conversation.

So when my dad got home tonight, we found the episode on our DVR and watched it. It was SAAAAAAAAD! Brian got hit by a car, and they took him to the vet but he died. Later they adopted a new dog named Vinnie, whose voice is the guy who played Pussy on Sopranos. 

I think they're going to bring Brian back. Some people actually started a petition on, pressuring the writers to bring Brian back! (Somehow I don't think that is what the creators of had in mind when they created their site, but... ) To me the whole thing seems like some sort of ploy to get more people to watch the show. The show just wouldn't be the same without Brian! 

Brian and Stewie having adventures together.

I guess I'll have to wait until next week to see. Does anyone else watch Family Guy? Or do you think I'm a total dork now? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Stealing: Thanksgiving Edition!

 If there was ever a day that I would fall out of NaBloPoMo, today would be it... ironically, a weekend day during my vacation, instead of a regular day! I spent most of the day again shopping with my mom and looking for things for Squeak to use while he's here. We got him some snowsuits and a few toys and stuff. It was really cold out and the stores were so crowded, I got really overwhelmed and just wanted to go home and take a nap. So I wasn't in a big hurry to blog... but Sunday Stealing is saving the day by giving me an easy post! It's a little late, but better late than never, right? This week, the questions are all about Thanksgiving. 
1. What do you have for breakfast on Thanksgiving? I have whatever I would usually have on an ordinary day... usually yogurt and cereal or something like that. 

2. Do you go to a Thanksgiving parade or watch one on TV?  Last year we went to the Lights Festival 
Parade in Chicago (usually the weekend before Thanksgiving) with my little cousins, but there were so many people, we could barely get a glimpse of the parade! When I was little we would sometimes watch the parade on TV, but not lately. 

3. Do you serve appetizers, lunch, or snacks during the day?  We usually have appetizers, and lunch is our big meal for the day. Dinner later is leftovers. 
4. What are the traditional favorites?  I don't think there are any, but I am not a big eater. It is a potluck so my mom makes turkey and all the other people bring side dishes. I like mashed potatoes and this year my mom said she'd make baked macaroni and cheese!

5. What new recipes will you try this year? Uh... baked macaroni and cheese?

6. What part of the meal do you never compromise?  Mashed potatoes! And dessert!

7. Who gets to carve the turkey? My mom, I guess, since she makes it. 
8. Family style around the table or buffet style and everyone sits wherever there’s room? Buffet style and everyone sits wherever there's room. There's not a table big enough for all of us! There are people at the kitchen table, and there are usually card tables in the living room and in the basement. I stick to the basement because its quieter. 

9. How many will be at your table this year? Between 16 and 18, depending on who comes! We're down a few people this year because two of my cousins are going to their significant others' family's houses for Thanksgiving. 

10. Once you're at the table, do you say grace or a toast or does everyone go around and say what they're thankful for? It depends whose house we're at! At my one aunt's, they always say the nondenominational "I'm having a personal conversation with God right now so please shut up" kind of Grace. When it is at my grandparents', they say the Catholic traditional meal blessing. At my mom's house, where Thanksgiving has been for the past few years, we just dig in! 

11. Cranberry sauce… yay or nay? Nah. 

12. What time do you eat Thanksgiving Dinner?  Around noon. 

13. Three best pies for Thanksgiving dessert?  I'm not really much for pumpkin pie. I love apple pie, which we're having this year. I don't think there will be any other flavors. We also have birthday cake for my grandpa's birthday. 

14. Do you have dessert right after the main meal or later on?  A little bit later on

So, that's it for my Sunday Stealing! I'm not feeling too great... I think I will lie down for a while. If you're here visiting from the Sunday Stealing link up, I'll get around to checking out all the other posts tomorrow! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meet My New Hooty Friend!

Hi everyone! I am having a good day today and I've been in a happy mood all day! I don't know why. Maybe it is because I am on THANKSGIVING VACATION all week! When I was a kid we did not have Thanksgiving vacation. We had Thanksgiving off, and the day after. But now a lot of schools get the whole week. I've been told it is because a lot of families go out of town anyway that week, so attendance is very low. In order to adjust it so they can get the most funding (which is somehow affected by daily attendance rates) they just give the kids the whole week off and call it Teacher Institute days. Its all the same, really... no work for me!

So today I slept in for a while, and then I did some laundry, and then I went out to lunch with my parents. When you leave the house with my mom for any reason, you may never return. Going out to lunch turned into a day long shopping trip! We went to two different Marshalls stores, and to JCPenneys. We were looking for a snowsuit for Squeak, who is going to be coming to visit in a few weeks. He is going to be shocked and dismayed by how cold it is here, so he needs a really warm snowsuit! Except my mom says he can't actually play in the snow in his snowsuit, because the feet parts are sewn on, or something like that. 


At Marshalls, I found this really cool thing that I wanted to get for Squeak, which is a stuffed animal that can be microwaved to make it warm, and it has a calming scent in it. Only then I remembered that Bro and Sunny don't have a microwave! I thought maybe they could put it in the oven instead, but my mom said it would probably catch on fire that way, so I decided to forgo getting one for Squeak for the time being. But the stuffed animals were so adorable! And you know I have a soft place in my heart for stuffed animals. I also have a soft place in my heart for things that smell good. I am a very sensory-seeking person. So I ended up getting one for myself! Meet my new Heatable Hooty! 
Bringing Hooty home

Hooty warming up

I popped Hooty in the microwave for 90 seconds, as directed by the box. When I took him out, he was all warm and smelled pleasantly of lavender! It is really cold in my house, and even though I am wearing wool pants under my jeans and also a fleece sweatshirt, I was still really cold, so I was glad to have Hooty to warm me up! I am planning to heat him up again right before I go to bed, so I can put him on my pillow and he can help me fall asleep. I was thinking to myself that he'd probably also come in really handy whenever I have an earache, or a headache, because I can just lay right on him and let him relax my muscles.
Hooty comforts me and keeps me warm!

This is not a sponsored review... obviously, seeing as how I just told you I bought Hooty at Marshalls with my own money a few hours ago... but I thought I would post about him anyways because I like him, and some people might appreciate interesting ideas for holiday or birthday presents for kids. 

When I was looking at some of the Amazon reviews, a few people worried that this would be a really dangerous toy to give a kid. So I just wanted to point out, Hooty is not necessarily meant to be a toy. He's more of a comfort item. He'd make a nice stuffed animal even if you didn't heat him up. But definitely, if he's going to be heated, an adult should do the heating. If Hooty gets too hot, and your child cuddles him, obviously there is a burning risk. So make sure to follow the directions for microwaving, and don't put him in there for too long. I put him in for a minute and a half, and he was nice and toasty. If you're microwaving him for a child, make sure to test him to make sure he's not too hot. His stomach seems to get the hottest, so pay special attention to that area. I also shook him around a little to mix up the material inside so there wouldn't be any super "hot spots." 

Okay, now you can mock me for being like a little kid and getting a stuffed heatable animal! You know you would enjoy one too. He smells so nice, even now that he's cooled off, and he's so soft and squishy!

Another thing I just thought of... I like the smell of lavender, but not everyone does. I think the company chose lavender as the scent because it is a naturally calming aroma. A lot of baby lotions made with natural ingredients use lavender, especially those meant to help the baby fall asleep or be comforted. But if a child hates the smell, or is really sensitive to it and gets headaches or something, it won't work! So you might want to check before you get this as a gift for a child you don't know well. If anyone knows of similar products that come with different scents, or even unscented, let me know! 

Okay. Right now I am still happy... I am listening to Vampire Weekend and catching up on my blog reading. I wish every day was like this one! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

100th Post! Your Questions Answered!

Glitter Graphics Comments Pictures

Hi everyone! Finally, my real 100th post! I said I would answer any questions you may have. I didn't get a whole lot... this makes sense, since I'm pretty open here with everything about myself and what I think. But let me answer the questions I did get!

1. "The blog is do I make such a beautiful looking blog?"

Wow, thanks! I am guessing you mean because of my background, which I like to change for the holidays. I actually made a page describing this, so that I can help other bloggers. Check out "How To Design A Blog Like This!"

2. How old were you when you were diagnosed with Asperger's? 
I was not diagnosed until I was an adult. When I was in high school and was going through a turbulent time, with everyone trying to figure out what was "wrong" with me, my grandmother suggested that I might have autism. Her main reason for suspecting this was because she remembered I had a lot of sensory issues, especially with my hearing, when I was little. But the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time was insistent that I had a psychotic disorder. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. 

3. Is there advice you'd give your parents about what made you feel crappy as a kid? I read your autism posts and saw that you mention that it's important to teach our kids that we love them exactly as they are but are there other things?

The thing that made me feel bad when I was a kid, and continues even to this day, is when my parents would act embarrassed of me and tell me to act "normal." My dad didn't usually notice that much, but my mom was always telling me to stop talking, stop wiggling, act my age, knock this off, knock that off. She would tell me I looked :retarded" because I was flapping my arms. She would say things like, "No wonder you don't have friends!" She even got my younger brother to do it. So I always had that feeling of shame and ugliness. Eye rolling and saying "Chill, Angel," had a similar effect. As did getting irritated with me when I was overly anxious. I had serious sensory overloads when I was a kid and would just start screaming, and my mom made it worse by yelling at me, or referring me to others, including my similarly-aged brother, as a brat. 
Also try not to argue with your spouse about your kid. I would often hear my parents arguing about me, about what they should be doing with me and what was wrong with me. It made me feel horrible... I wanted to be swallowed up by the walls. If possible, do not speak about your child while your child is in the same house as you. Not even while your child is supposedly asleep. We have sensitive ears that bend around the walls, and if we don't hear what you are saying about us, our nosy siblings will repeat it to us with glee. Take a walk outside, go sit in the car, or even text or email each other. (Emailing may be the best way to have an argument about your child, by the way, because instead of yelling and shouting, you have time to think about what you want to say, and you also have time to read what the other person has to say.)

Another thing that is important as kids get older, and that I am still struggling a lot with to this day? Your kids may always need help with some things. But a lot of parents think it is an all or nothing situation. I had trouble with things like learning to drive, and being in certain social situations, and I needed a lot of help and guidance. But then my mom wanted to, and still tries to, help me with everything, including picking out my clothes and choosing a job and telling me how to handle everyday conversations. If she could dress me up in an outfit of her choosing each day and hand me a script of everything to say and do for the day, she probably would, even now... but if I didn't want to accept her help with everything, she would try to back out of helping me with anything
Although I am sure it is super, super hard, let your older kids and young adults be the guides of what they still need. If they feel strongly about wanting to do something independently, and it is relatively safe, let them. Examples of safe risks would be applying for a job you think they'd have a hard time doing, wearing an outfit you think people will make fun of them for, or trying to befriend someone you think isn't right for them. Let them try. They might surprise you with how successful they are. If not, remember that making mistakes is a normal part of growing up and being independent, and they deserve to have these experiences in their lives just as their typically developing siblings do. 
On the other hand, if they seem to want more help in guidance in some areas, try to be there for them. This could mean helping them write a script for what they should say when they order pizza over the phone (I hate doing that) or going with them to set up a bank account. A lot of times when I have to do something with a lot of talking involved, I get nervous and I want someone along with me to "translate." 

4. "What are some things NOT to say to someone with ADHD, autism etc, or things not to say to their parents?"

That's a good question! 
One time not long ago, a Facebook acquaintance of mine published on his wall something along the lines of, "I think ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety and other mental conditions are just excuses made by weak and lazy people who do not want to work as hard as the rest of us." While it is true that he has the right to put whatever he wants on his Facebook wall, and I guess it is ballsy of him to publicly announce such a strong opinion about a controversial topic... and while I really don't value that person's opinion enough for it to hurt my feelings much... it could go to the top of my list of things NOT to say to me! People with any of these, and many other, conditions, are anything but weak. If anything, they are sre super-strong, from having to fight an ongoing battle every day just to get normal stuff accomplished. The same goes for parents of children with these conditions. Don't accuse them of being bad, lazy or permissive parents, because most have to put a lot of extra work into parenting. 
Another thing... the decision on whether to take medication is a very personal one. When it comes to taking medication that effects the way our brains work, many people get a little nervous! We're afraid it will change who we, or our children, are, or how we think. Each individual or family needs to decide for themselves whether medication is an option. One person may decide that medication is the best thing for them. Another may try to manage their condition by taking supplements, getting behavioral therapy, doing exercise and yoga, trying alternative treatments, or something else. People may go back and forth throughout their lives, deciding to go off medicine for a while and try something else, and then getting back on it. I get upset when I hear about people pressuring someone to take, or not take, medicine. Or one parent accusing another parent of child abuse because they medicate, or don't medicate, their child. 
To me, asking questions is always okay, if they come from curiosity and not accusation. There is a difference between, "I haven't heard of that type of treatment before... how does it work?" and "Don't you think that's sort of new-agey? Why would you fall for that?" 
5. "I really don't know what to ask you..I just enjoy reading your blog."
Thanks! I enjoy having you as a reader!

That's it for today! It's been a great 100 posts, and I'm looking forward to hundreds more! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To Med, Or Not To Med?

These pills look sort of suspicious. 
 Hi everyone! Just a reminder that you have until tomorrow at 3:30 Central to ask me any questions you want answered in my 100th blog post! I only have a couple so far, but they're pretty good questions. I could always use a few more! Email me, comment on this blog, or ask anonymously at ask anonymously at my Ask.Fm page!

Anyway... Lately, one of the things I've been thinking about is whether to get back on my medication. I stopped taking it after I got back from my Oregon/Washington/California trip, after I ran out. The reason, at the time, was that I just didn't have the energy or money to deal with going to the psychiatrist... it costs $150 for a fifteen minute appointment, just to get her to renew my prescription for another six months. I was going to wait until I got a job and got insurance, but as it turned out the insurance at my job is so crappy that it is not worth paying for. So I am now uninsured and unmedicated. I could pay out of pocket for doctor appointments and medication. It is a lot, but won't break my bank. I just have to consider whether I want to or not. (Here I'm really just talking about depression meds. I've never really gotten ADHD meds. My last doctor gave me Wellbutrin, which is really meant to be a supplement to depression meds but can also be used for ADHD. I didn't feel like it worked much for my ADHD, although it did help with my depression!)

Here are some of the reasons I don't want to. 

  • Every time I have to go off the meds for one reason another, I go through painful physical withdrawal symptoms. 
  • I cannot just take my meds in times when I am doing badly. I have to take them all the time, every day, day in and day out, in anticipation of at some point having an episode of depression. 
  • I've been on my main depression medication for 13 years, on and off. Every few years they up the dose a little, as my system becomes more resistant. What happens when I'm taking the highest possible dose? And what is all this medication doing to my kidneys? 
  • I still go through bouts of depression, even while I'm on my meds... but instead of feeling sad and anxious, I just feel nothing. It is like the meds dull down the pain of depression, but I don't have any positive emotions occurring, so I'm just there, existing and not living. I can tell when I'm going through depression, when I don't feel like doing anything at all that I usually love doing... yet I am not really feeling any sadness. Just numbness. It is weird. 
  • Technically you are not supposed to take most types of cold medicine, allergy medicine, etc, while taking my meds. I do anyways, but I probably shouldn't. I usually avoid Benadryl because it makes me extremely drowsy.... but when it, I need it! Otherwise I'm up all night sneezing my nose off, and when I try to go to work the next morning I look like I am Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Who Also Came Down With A Nasty Case Of Pink-Eye Or Maybe Just Smoked Some Crack. 

Here are some of the reasons why I am considering going back on my meds...
When I do go through depression, it is fierce. One of the reasons my life is where it is right now is because, when I first decided to study to be a special education teacher, I was going to go off to a four-year-university about eight hours away from here. I had gotten full financial aid for it, because of my age and income level, and was going to have my own apartment and everything. But at the time I had been off my meds for about a year. And I got really homesick, but it spiraled into terrible depression, and I had to drop out of school and move home. I'd spent a year preparing for college, had gotten all this cool stuff for my apartment, and everything, and I had to chuck my whole plan in the garbage. I still feel sad when I think about it. If I'd been on my meds at the time, I probably could have gotten through it. I don't want that to happen again when I move to the northwest next year.  I mean, I know it will be a little different, because I will have Aunt M and Uncle J and my cousin and Sunny and Bro and Squeak near by, whereas at that college I had nobody. Not even my cat, because the only apartment complex I'd been able to find that wasn't completely ghetto... and I mean robberies, stabbings, people setting Dumpsters on fire, etc... was Adult Student Housing on campus, and they didn't allow pets. And this time I will definitely be bringing Lily (my Small Dog, who was not even born when all this happened, and I guess indirectly everything that happened was for the best because I never would have had her or Trixie if I'd stayed down there in college.) But still. 

Uh... that's pretty much my only reason. I don't want my stupid depression to flare up and ruin everything again. Also, it does take the edge off. Sometimes I feel really irritable and noises bother my when people talk with their mouths full or noisily suck on rock hard Twizzler candies while I'm trying to do my homework... and my meds keep me from diving under a table and rocking when faced with situations I can't sensorarily handle. (I think I just invented a new word!)

I've been considering other types of treatment. I think it would be smart to learn how to try to manage my depression and anxiety on my own, through strategies or exercise or whatever... because I'd always have that with me, wherever I went.

I suck at "talk therapy." I used to like it when I was a kid because I felt like it was cool to have someone listen to me. But now I have this blog and you guys listen to me and it's better. In therapy, its like they say, "What do you want to work on?" and then they stare at you, and you can't think of anything, and you just sit there, and they think you're quietly contemplating your life, but really you're thinking, "My leg itches, I'm thirsty, don't let me forget to stop for gas on the way home, that's a cool painting on the wall, I feel like this couch is totally trying to swallow my butt, it smells kind of weird in here, Bishop Allen is the coolest band ever but Vampire Weekend also rocks, I wonder if my dogs miss me right now?" 

I'e been looking into other types of therapy. Equine Therapy sounds so cool, and you get to learn to ride a horse in the process, but I don't know if anyplace offers that for adults. Art therapy would be cool, but I don't know anyplace that offers that for people who aren't already in a hospital somewhere. Biofeedback sounds interesting... you get to play video games using your brain as a controller, and it teaches you how hae better control over your own mind. There's probably other stuff, too, right?

Maybe we should take a vote. Internet, what do you think? To med, or not to med? That is the question! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Something To Think About...

Today was one of the days that I was in charge of Phoebe, Noddy and Finch. Phoebe was absent, so I just had to worry about Noddy and Finch. One thing about Finch is that he is always hungry, but he only likes to eat certain things. Apples are his favorite food. He also loves chicken nuggets in the school lunch. I was talking about this with another one of the aides, who worked at the school last year as well. The school lunch today was chicken nuggets, tater tots, and apples, and I mentioned that Finch was going to be really happy about that... sure enough, he ate his whole apple, all of his chicken, and most of Grebe's chicken. He was trying to wrap up his last piece of chicken in a napkin to put in his pocket, and I stopped him because keeping chicken in your pocket for the remainder of the school day doesn't seem like that great of an idea. Plus it is against the rules to remove cafeteria food from the cafeteria. But I did notice that the aides took any extra apples from the kids' lunches and smuggled them back to the classroom.

The aide I was talking with mentioned that, last year, Finch was a new student. His mother had left the family, so Finch and his older siblings were living with their dad, and then they somehow got evicted from where they were living, so the dad and children were living in their car. The aide told me Finch would come to school hungry every day. He did qualify for free school lunch and snacks, so he wasn't going to starve, but because he is such a picky eater (related to his autism... sensory issues and all) they couldn't always get him to eat what was provided. So Finch would often be hungry and weepy and listless. That is why the teacher and aides started smuggling leftover apples from the cafeteria whenever possible... to feed them to Finch. 

Later on, during Free Time, Finch was playing with those little blocks that have letters and numbers on them. Finch loves letters, particularly the letter I for some reason. I was watching him stack up the blocks to make a tower as tall as he could get it. When the tower would fall, he'd calmly start building it again. I asked him, "Do you have blocks at home, Finch?" Finch just shrugged, but the teacher replied, "I don't think he has much of anything at home." 

When it was time to clean up, Finch tried to put some of the alphabet blocks in his pocket, and then in his backpack. I told him they had to stay at school, and he started to cry.

The school where I work is in a somewhat poor area... seven out of the eleven kids in my class are on free lunches. But it doesn't really matter. At every school where I've worked or student taught, there was at least one child who was, or had been, homeless.

When I was an aide at a special education school, there was a second grader named Victor, who joined our class in the middle of the school year and won all of our hearts because he was so sweet. A few months after he came, he suddenly disappeared. We heard from the social worker that Victor's mother had called her to ask for help because of a domestic violence situation, and she had helped the family get into a shelter, but it was in a different county so they'd had to move. Besides, it would have been dangerous for Victor to continue going to our school, since the abuser (his stepdad I think) would know where to find him.

The next school year, a second grader named Timmy joined our class. He was an adorable kid with shaggy blond hair and giant blue eyes, who had autism and was nonverbal. We never knew much about him at all. At the time, I had recently been homeless myself, and sometimes still hung out at the day shelter, where I used to participate in an arts and crafts group. One day when I was there, I saw Timmy there with his mother! It turned out that they were homeless too. Then a few weeks later, Timmy's mother came to get him from school early, and said that he wouldn't be back... they'd gotten into a transitional housing program in another town and had to leave right away. 

During my first part of student teaching, which was more of an internship thing, I was in a preschool class for at-risk children. One brother and sister, 3 and 4 years old, had to be taken to the nurse any time they had any sort of bruise when they came to school, because their father was physically abusive and DCFS was monitoring the household. (The dad wasn't supposed to be living with them, which was why they weren't in foster care, but if we reported any suspicious injuries, DCFS would have assumed the dad was back in their lives.) Another kid, a surly 3-year-old boy who barely ever talked, and who actually growled like a wild animal, was known to be severely neglected by his parents. And then there were the two brothers, 5 and 3 years old, who were homeless and living in a motel room with their parents and two infant sisters. 

During my actual student teaching, I was in a fourth and fifth grade special education class, and one girl started telling us that the following Friday would be her last day of school. She wasn't always the most truthful kid on earth, so the teacher called her mother to find out what was going on. It turned out they were being evicted that Friday and were going to be living in a shelter. The social worker helped the mother arrange it so that the girl and her four siblings could get transportation from the shelter to the school, so they could keep attending. 

And last school year, when I was an aide, the little boy I worked with had been raised, for the first six years of his life, by a mother who was addicted to crack... although he did spend a year living with his father, who was also addicted to crack. When I met him, he had just been taken by DCFS and was living with foster parents, and was undergoing intensive, in-home therapy because of the things he had been through, including witnessing a lot of domestic violence. 

It seems to me that, in just about any school, there is probably at least one child in every grade level who is or has been homeless or lives in a similar type of crisis situation. If you have children, your kids probably know kids who are going through this. 

I don't really know what the point of this blog post is. I mean, unless your child is close friends with a child who is homeless, and the child actually tells you what is going on, there is not much you can do about it. But it is sad, isn't it? That there are so many homeless children, that they can be sitting right next to your child in school, and you wouldn't even know it? I wish there was more we could do. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Happens When A Blogger With ADHD Tries To Count?

She miscalculates her 100th post!
What happened was, I looked at my Blogger dashboard, and it said I had (at the time) 96 posts.  What I failed to realize was that it was including four unpublished drafts, which are really just empty posts that I started and never finished and then went back and wrote again. Or something. I don't know. The point is, this is my 97th post. My official 100th post will be Friday! That means, you have an extra three and a half days to send me any question you want to ask. I will answer questions about myself and my life, ADHD or autism, advice, or anything in the whole world that you want to ask! If you'd prefer to ask anonymously, you can just go to my page and post a question.
I already have one a few questions waiting, but I definitely welcome more. So, ask away!

In the mean time, today is Tuesday, so how about a Twisted Mix Tape post?

This week's theme is a real challenge. The theme is "cheating." I think this topic turns up more in country western songs than in rock'n'roll songs, and rock is what I enjoy most.  But I scratched my head and came up with some good ones!

This first one, I also used for the Halloween Twisted Mix Tape post. "Long Black Veil" is a haunting song about cheating. The narrator, who is apparently singing from beyond the grave, explains that one night there was some sort of fight in town. One guy was killed, and the other guy ran off. The few witnesses believed the person they saw run off was the narrator, and so he was arrested and brought to trial. The catch? At the time of the murder, the narrator was with his best friend's wife. The wife, therefore, being the one cheating on her husband. If the narrator admitted to the judge that he was with this woman, he would go free. But because he wanted to protect her, he stayed silent. And the woman he was with just lets him get hanged for a crime he didn't commit.
Makes me shiver every time I hear it. Have a listen!

Next, a song by my favorite band, The Beatles! In "No Reply," the sad narrator seems to be stalking his girlfriend. He goes to her house, and they tell him that she isn't home... but he sees her peer through her window, and later sees her walking hand and hand with another man in his place.

In a very similar story, but with a happier ending, the Rays doo-wopped about another hapless young man who was stalking his girlfriend. He is walking past his girlfriend's house (nothing suspicious here!) and trying to peer in through her windows. All her shades are pulled down tight, but the stalker boyfriend can see the silhouettes of his girlfriend and some other guy kissing. He storms up to the house, bangs on the door, and threatens violence... only to discover that he's at the wrong house! Oops! He isn't even on the right block! Feeling sheepish, he runs all the way to the real house of his girlfriend, who greets him with "Go home, dude, you're drunk!" hugs and kisses. Although the Rays sang the original version, Herman's Hermits version is the one I grew up with, so that is the one I'm posting for. It's a little more catchy, I think!

For a song that makes you just feel kind of slimy, listen to Uncle Kracker's "Follow Me." This is a twist on the usual "girl cheats on guy" song, because the singer is the guy with whom the girl is cheating on someone with. He beckons to her, basically telling her that he is irresistible and he knows she can't help herself. He doesn't want a relationship with her, or even to get to know each other... basically he just thinks they should sleep together, and he's not worried about the fact that she is wearing a ring, nor does he take any responsibility for his part in the affair... he's just in it for a good time. Good old Uncle Kracker!

How about finishing up with a song about cheating that you can really dance to? In what may be the most upbeat song about heartbreak in all of history, "Cecilia" is a woman not to be trusted. One minute she is making love with the singer of the song. He gets out of bed to wash his face, and when he returns to his bed, Cecilia has already taken another lover! The singer is so in love with his beautiful Cecilia that, when she returns to him, he falls on the floor laughing. Some people have pointed out that Cecilia is the name of the goddess of music, and when Paul Simon wrote this song he was really writing about being inspired, and then having writer's block. What do you think?

That's it for my Twisted Mix Tape. By the way, I missed last week because I was super busy trying to catch up with evil school work, and I just ended up posting a draft I had been saving for a rainy day. I sure love my Twisted Mix Tape Tuesdays! I can't wait to read what you guys post!