Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coming Soon, But Probably Not To A Bookstore Near You!

(The following information is totally copyrighted by ME and you cannot steal it! No, I am not talking to my regular readers, who are awesome. I am talking to any random anonymous one-time visitors who might decide to steal a story idea and pass it off as their own!) 

You guys are the first ones to know that I am nearly finished writing my second children's book. 

I wanted to tell you all about this new book, because it is about a topic that is very special to me! Think about some of the special interests you know I have, and then try to guess what this new book is about. 



Do you give up? Okay, I'll tell you! It is about dogs!

Well, not just dogs. It is about a little boy and his mother, who decide to start fostering a rescue dog. 

The rescue dog's name is Trixie Pixie! (This is in honor of my Trixie, whose nickname is Trixie Pixie. Pixie, like Trixie, is a sweet, scruffy dog. But unlike Trixie, Pixie is white... not brownish-yellow or whatever color you'd call Trixie!) 

The story tells of how Pixie came to the rescue. She was a homeless dog, who was then taken to an overcrowded animal shelter, and finally picked up by a rescue organization. The little boy and his mother meet Pixie as she comes off the transport (the way my mom and I first met Trixie!) and they take her home. The little boy becomes very attached to Pixie, although he knows that his family is only fostering her until she can find a forever home. 

Eventually the bittersweet day comes when a wonderful family falls in love with Pixie and decides to adopt her. Of course, the little boy doesn't want to give up his new best friend!

I won't tell you the end of the story because I don't want to spoil it. But I will tell you the ending is a lot different from how Trixie's story ended up! 

I am actually going to self-publish this story instead of working with the publisher I worked with on my last book. The reason being that I've realized I can do pretty much everything the publisher did for me, and keep all of the profits instead of sharing them with a third party. I know it wasn't a scam, because I didn't have to give up any money in order to get it published... everything was free to me, and the publisher would only get a commission when books were actually sold. But I do think the small, independent publisher is really, really, really small... like one person... and they bit off a little more than they could chew when they decided to start a publishing company. They haven't really done much at all to help get my book out there. I mean, I didn't lose anything in the deal... but still... might as well just do it myself if I can.

Also... I just said I am self-publishing it so I won't have to share profits with a third party. But I actually am going to share the profits... I will donate half of the proceeds of this book to the rescue organization that Trixie came from! 

What do you think of that idea?

I will even share with you the very first illustration for the book. You are the very, very first people to set eyeballs on this. I hope you like it!

Alright... I am going to go work on it some more now! Sorry I am a little bit behind on my blog reading. You know how it is for ADHD and Aspie people when we get our minds stuck on a project... it is super hard to take time away from it!

But I will be reading blogs later today or tomorrow, I promise. 

In the mean time, pip pip cheerio! Whatever that means!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Blast From My Past

I have mentioned before that I am not new to blogging, although this particular blog is new. The first blog I ever had was on a site called Tblog. It was called "The Girl In The Closet." (The title was a reference to the fact that I sometimes liked to hide out in closets. ) 

One of my blogging friends mentioned in her blog that she used the Internet Archives to find her old blog. I decided to try the same. I found my original blog and started reading through it. It was so interesting to see how much I have changed since then. but also how much I have stayed the same! There were even blog posts I wrote there, that were extremely similar to blog posts I've written here, almost ten years later! In fact, I found a blog post about my teddybear Chumbawamba, and it even had the same title, "About A Bear," as the post I wrote here! 

Anyways I got kind of hooked on reading my own blog, and found several posts I really liked. I thought that once in a while I might repost some of those here! 

This first post is one I wrote in July of 2004, after my first trip to a Peace Conspiracy Festival. (I don't think Peace Conspiracy exists anymore, but it was similar to Rainbow Family.) I thought this post is really relevant to my life now, and I would like to remember it. Maybe some of you will like it too! 

This is the blog post: 

"Once not long ago I was posting on a message board because I'd recently gone to a festival and met all these people for the first time, and I had been writing about how at first I'd felt out-of-place the way I generally always feel in new places, and I was explaining about Asperger's Syndrome to them. Someone wrote these words of wisdom back to me:

I gotta tell you...
l) Normal people are BORING... and seldom trust
worthy. (to y'all... if you think you are normal and we are friends? You
probably are not as "normal" as you think...)

2) People are seldom watching you and perceiving
you... and this is the non-specific, UNIVERSAL "you" I am using here... as much
as you think. And do you know why? Because they are sitting there FREAKING OUT
inside their own heads. "Do they think I am a dork? Was that a stupid thing to
say? What if someone asks me a question? Is my nose hair showing? Do they know
I forgot to wash my "__________" this morning?" When people are busy beating
themselves up inside they don't have a lot of time to wonder what kind of freak
or dork someone else is.... (I figured that out when I was "experimenting" with
hallucinogenics.... No one knows you are tripping if you don't tell them....
unless they are tripping too. It is an old tripper truism.) No. I am not an
OLD tripper.

3) Your spirit chose to be in this game in this
place at this time. You-- as an eternal soul-- paid the price of admission.
You are here until you are not here anymore so you might as well make the best
of it. Enjoy life. And remember--- if you aren't playing the game you are just
an obstacle on the course.

4) IF you are a freak, welcome home. WE are
FREAKS... I mean-- Geez... did you get a look at Reggie? AND WHO DOESN'T LOVE
REGGIE? (Point 'em out to me and I will kick their ego right in the tuckus....)

And remember, when you feel as though you can't
stay where you are one more minute just click your heels together three times
and say.....


By the Wizard Of Oz line, the writer was referring to the Peace Conspiracy events, implying that, even if I didn't feel like I fit in in the rest of the world, I would always be accepted by them. And it did seem true! When I was there, I could hang out by myself if I wanted, and nobody would think I was weird for being a loner. Or I could sit down with a group of others if I wanted, and nobody would think it was weird for a stranger to be invading their private conversation! The following year I ended up going back, bringing along three children between the ages of 6 and 10. (I had once taken them to a Chicago forest preserve for a hike, and they had so much fun climbing around on fallen trees and splashing in what was probably a highly polluted creek, that I'd decided they needed to experience REAL nature, with a clean and beautiful river where they could splash around all day, and jump off a fallen branch into the cool water. My little ones were accepted as easily as I was. In fact, the oldest one befriended another family and slept over in their campsite two nights in a row. It was one place in the world where I completely trusted that a kid would be safe with people I had only met once. Because that was the kind of place it was. But after that, I could never pull together the time off from work, dependable car, and money for gas and supplies, necessary to make the trip to Missouri, so I never went back. And now it seems to have disappeared. 

But the main message still seems true. I am who I am, for a reason. People who judge me or dislike me for who I am, are not worth my time or worries. There will always be others (like you readers!) who will appreciate my differences and see the positive things about me. This should hold true for everyone, whether they have special needs or not. I need to try to remember this, every day of my life. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Scruffy Mutt Mystery

Ever since we adopted my bigger dog, Trixie, in 2008, we've wondered what kind of dog she is. Looking at her, she appears to be a classic scruffy mutt.  

Some people have compared her to famous classic scruffy mutts such as this one

or this one...

or especially this one.

But I think she looks an awful lot like this one... only bigger!

Trixie and Lily are not genetically related. But I know Lily's specific mix... she's a maltese, poodle, chihuahua, rat terrier combo. I always wondered what other random combination of breeds could create a dog who looked so similar, but a different size!

Today I was looking for some pictures of dogs to help me draw a picture for the newest children's book I'm working on. And I came across this one! 


Camera One: 

Camera Two

The non-Trixie dog is Cassie, a Spinone mix. I have heard of most dog breeds, but I've never heard of a Spinone! I decided to look for some more pictures of Spinones and their mixes. Here are a few that I found!

This next one is a former shelter dog who was adopted. Her name is Guiseppe. She's part Spinone, and part Wheaten Terrier. 

Now look at Trixie again!

A purebred Italian Spinone would look more like this: 
or maybe this:

But I can totally see how she could be a Spinone mixed with some sort of terrier. 

What do you think? Could she pass for an Italian Spinone?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!

Hi everyone! Happy Easter, if you celebrate it! 

Last night I made some cool tie-dye Easter eggs. My mom wouldn't let me make them at first. That sounds ridiculous for a grown-up to say they can't dye eggs because their mother won't let them, but since it is her house she gets to put her iron fist down about stupid things like that. Finally I talked her into letting me dye just three eggs. (And then I dyed four, just to be a punk.)

I forgot to take pictures while I was doing it, but if you are interested in making tie-dye Easter eggs next year (or today, if you're bored) I can give you a quick tutorial for how I did this. 

Step one. Boil the eggs. Obviously. I will not tell you how to do this, because I am not even sure my way is the best way... some people boil them for longer or shorter times, or add stuff to the water. Just do whatever you do. 

Step two... Prepare your supplies. I lined a cookie sheet with tin foil. I filled a bowl with a mixture of vinegar and water. I got out some paper towels, and some plastic wrap. I found some food coloring. You should also use something like rubberbands to tie the plastic closed. (You'll see what I mean in a minute.) 

Step three...Soak one paper towel in the vinegar/water. Lay it out on the cookie sheet. Take your food colors and drop little drops of color all over the paper towel. Because it is wet, the drops will start to spread out like fireworks!

Step four... Dry off one egg. Put the egg in the center of the colorful paper towel. Wrap the egg up in the paper towel. 

Step five. Put the packaged egg in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the egg up in the plastic wrap. Secure the top with the rubberband or whatever else you used. (I used clothes pins, actually.) 

Step five... Let them sit like this for at least an hour.The longer you leave them, the better the colors will end up. (Uh... you should leave them in the fridge I think... unlike some people I used to know who would leave their eggs in a basket on the table for a week, and all week long pick out eggs from the basket, peel them, and eat them.)

Step six... When you've waited long enough, unwrap your eggs, and you'll see something like this!

I am always fascinated by the variety of people's holiday traditions. When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny would leave a trail of jelly beans leading from mine and my brother's rooms, out into the living room. We would find our empty Easter baskets on the coffee table, and we would start hunting around the house. The things that were hidden would be malt ball eggs, chocolate wrapped eggs, and jelly beans. Sometimes we would also get chocolate bunnies. Later we would go to my grandparents' house, where we would go on a similar Easter egg hunt for more malt ball eggs, chocolate eggs, and jelly beans. 

In elementary school I started learning that other kids had different Easter-morning traditions. For some kids, the bunny left an already-put-together Easter basket, filled with candy and toys, for the kids to find. Some bunnies hide the very same eggs that the children dyed the night before. Some kids have their Easter egg hunts outside, some indoors like my family did. 

If your family celebrated Easter when you were little, and/or celebrates it now, tell me about your traditions! 

In the mean time, here are some Easter beagles for you to look at.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Favorite Color Swap

I am back to swapping again with Chaotic Goddess Swaps! This will be my third swap with them. I did the Christmas one,  the book one, and the mug one, before. This latest swap will involve sending someone a package of items that are their favorite color! You can send anything in you want in the package (at least 5 items) as long as you think they are things your swap partner would enjoy, and they include the color your swap partner said was their favorite.

It isn't too late to join! You have until this Monday to sign up. If you do, you will be assigned a partner by April 23!

I have had some great partners in the past, and it has given me the chance to get to know some very cool bloggers. My favorite part is always finding out who my partner is, reading their blog, and the challenge of putting together a surprise package for them!

What is your favorite color? Can you guess mine?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blog The Change For Animals!

Blog the Change Hi again everyone! This is a triple-post kind of day! I had a sponsored post, plus the final Twisted Mixtape, but I certainly couldn't skip out on this particular one, a topic so special to me... animals!  On Blog The Change For Animals day, bloggers commit to writing a blog post about animal-related issues, and how to make the world better for our furry, feathery and/or scaley friends.

I volunteer with a pet rescue organization, which most of you already know because I blog about it frequently. We get our animals from various places. One way we often get them is when strays are picked up on the street. Another way is when an animal hoarder is forced to give up some of their pets, and gives them to us. We take in puppy mill dogs who are no longer wanted. We also go to high-kill shelters and bust out the pets who are on the list to be euthanized... we put them in foster homes and promise to find them a forever home, giving them a new lease on life. We also occasionally get owner give ups, where the owner chooses to surrender their pet directly to us instead of to an animal shelter.

Of all of the ways pets end up with us, many of them... the shelter dogs, the owner give ups, and the strays... started out as family pets, but lost their home when their owners didn't want to (or felt they couldn't) take care of them anymore.

So I decided to post some of the reasons that people give up their pets. It is easy to judge people who do this, but many are people who got a pet thinking it would be a simple and fun, and that every family needs a pet. They may not have thought about how complicated a pet can make things. When deciding to get a pet, it is a good idea to think about these reasons that other people have parted ways with their pets, and decide what you would do in this situation. If you have a plan, you will be better prepared to keep your pet forever, which is the future everyone really hopes for when it comes to any animals.

1. They're moving. (Can you commit to bringing your pet with you, if you ever move in the future? Even if you don't plan on moving now, you never know what will happen. If you rent, are you willing to search longer or pay extra for your pet to live with you in a new home?)

2. Their landlord doesn't allow pets. (Before you get a pet, have you checked your lease to make sure that pets are allowed? Even if you've seen other people in your complex or building with pets, you need to make 100% sure that your new pet will be allowed to be there. Some places only allow certain types of pets, or pets under a certain weight limit. Some actually limit the breeds of dogs you can own.)

3. Too many animals in the household already. (How many animals do you currently have? Who currently takes care of your animals? Do the animals all get along with each other, and are they generally relaxed around other animals? Does the idea of one more pet overwhelm you?)

4. Cost of pet maintenance. (Are you able to securely support yourself and your family members, and save up money? Or are you living paycheck to paycheck? Research the type and breed of pet you're getting. Remember that larger animals will need more food. Animals with certain kinds of fur will need regular grooming.  Some particular dogs will need more training and toys to keep them busy. All pets will need regular vet visits. If your pet gets sick or injured, can you afford to pay for his treatment?)

5. Owner having personal problems. (In many cases, a pet can be comforting when you're having personal problems... but is this the case for you? If you're getting a pet for your children, but the pet is just going to cause more stress for you if things get difficult, you might want to hold off on the decision to add an animal to your life.)

6. Inadequate facilities. (Some dogs need, need, need, a yard with a tall fence. If you are going to be leavin your dog outside alone for any amount of time, you'll want to make sure you have a secure fence that will keep the dog safe. If a dog sees something interesting happening on the other side of the fence, and he's able to jump over or crawl under, he can easily lose track of where he is and get lost, or run out in front of a car while he's chasing a squirrel. If you live in an apartment, can you take your dog for regular walks (multiple times per day) or to a dog park? An older or less-energetic dog may be fine just going for short walks to relieve themselves, and cats don't need to go outside at all, so these might be better choices for someone without a yard.)

7. No homes available for litter mates. (Please spay or neuter your pets! Please, please, pretty please? There are already so many homeless dogs and cats in the world for every single human being in the USA to have one or two. The best way to prevent puppies and kittens from dying in a kill shelter is to make sure your pets are spayed and neutered. Please do this! I beg of you!)

8. Not having enough time for a pet. (If you are not home much, it may not make sense to have a pet sitting around waiting for you all the time. Cats may be more independent than dogs, but they still like human company. Even smaller pets like guinea pigs need companionship! On a regular basis, your dog or cat shouldn't be home alone more than 8 hours, preferably less, partly because they can't really hold their pee much longer than that! Some people choose to leave their dog in doggy day care, or hire a dog walker. But your pet's first choice would be to have as much time as possible with you.)

9. Biting. (Pets can be trained not to bite. It is best to start this training as early as possible with a puppy or kitten. If you have a pet who bites, you should consult with a professional trainer who can work with you. If you are adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue, the people there will be able to tell you about the pet's temperament. Adults and teenagers may be willing to work with and train a pet who occasionally bites due to trauma in his past. But if you have children, or young relatives who visit often, you'll want to make sure you get a pet who isn't prone to biting. Also, remember that any animal can bite when they are frightened or in pain! This is their only defense! Even with the most gentle dog, teach your children to be respectful around animals. They should not corner a pet or force a pet to be picked up. Teach them that if a pet growls, that means the pet is saying, "Please stop that. Please leave me alone." Do not punish a pet for growling, because that is their warning signal!)

10. House soiling. (For dogs, this can be eliminated with a lot of training. Dogs who were from puppy mills or hoarding situations may have never been taught to go to the bathroom outside. In these scenarios, they are often left to pee and poop in their cages, which is very unnatural to an animal. Housetraining a dog will require a lot of patience. Are you up for it? For dogs that are particularly hard to housetrain, you can use belly bands, which are like cloth diapers that wrap around a dog's waist. This will stop them from peeing in the house, but it won't really stop them from pooping. For a cat, it may be a matter of finding the right litter box and litter. An already-trained pet who suddenly starts peeing in the house may have a physical illness. If you get a pet, are you willing to work through issues such as these?)

11. Incompatability with other pets. (Most rescue organizations will insist on doing an introduction between a household pet and a potential new pet, to make sure they are compatible. This is important. Remember, to the pets who were there first, the house is their territory, and they may not want to share it. Research the best way to introduce a new animal to the house. One safe way to do it can be to keep both animals in separate areas of the house, where they can get used to the smells and sounds of each other without actually encountering each other. Then you can begin slowly putting them together, in closely supervised situations. Even if you know your dog or cat is usually fine with new animals, it is still a good idea to do an introduction to make sure. Some rescue organizations will let you bring your dog to the rescue, to interact with multiple pets and see which one he seems to choose!)

12. Owner gets too old or gets ill. (Pets can be great for senior citizens or people with illnesses or disabilities! The relationship can be therapeutic and beneficial in so many ways! However, the best idea is for senior citizens or medically fragile people to arrange a backup person who will care for your pets if anything happens to you. Often rescues will ask you to find a person who will commit to this arrangement with their signature. When choosing a pet, make sure it is a pet you can physically handle. A large or extremely energetic dog may not be right for a person whose disability causes them a lot of pain, or a person who is frequently tired and cannot run around a lot. Seniors should make sure their family members know who they want to take care of their animals, should something happen to them. Also, many assisted living facilities and nursing homes will now let residents bring their pets along with them.)

13. Allergies. (This is something people should be aware of before they start looking for a pet. You may want to get allergy testing done for members of your family. If someone is allergic, would they, and you, be willing to try things such as taking allergy medications, doing extra vacuuming and dusting, and grooming the pet more frequently? Also, note that some people are allergic to certain types of dogs or cats and not others. Some dogs shed much less than others, and some dogs produce less dander than others. If allergies are an issue, do some research ahead of time to decide how you will handle adding a pet to your home.)

14. New spouse or significant other does not like the pet. (Uh... no offense, but, I would never get into a serious relationship with someone who didn't like my pet! IMHO, if someone truly loves another person, they will find a way to get along with the person's pet, just as they would find a way to get along with a person's children or other family members. If you are single and are looking for a relationship, consider where your pet will fall in your list of priorities. If you think you'd be willing to give up your pet for Mr. or Mrs. Right, you might want to hold off on getting a pet until you do find that special person. Then, the two of you can choose a pet together.)

15. Divorce or splitting up. (This is like the opposite of number 14. The two people who chose the pet together split up, and now neither person wants the pet! This is seriously something to think about before getting a pet. Even if you're in a happy marriage, just humor yourself with the "what if" game. IF you were to split up for some reason, would you be willing and able to keep your pet? Would you be emotionally able to care for a pet that reminded you of your ex-significant-other? If the answer is "no," you should reconsider getting a pet.)

Pets are awesome, and they are a lot of fun. But they are also a big responsibility. If you're thinking of getting a pet, please really think about it and decide whether or not you are ready. There is no shame in deciding that this isn't the right time in your life for a pet. There are other ways to spend time with animals, such as volunteering with a pet rescue like I do, or offering to babysit your friends' or neighbors' pets.

Thanks for reading, everyone! If this post keeps one pet from losing his family, I will be the happiest person in the world!

Frankie is a 3-year-old pitbull in the San Bernardino, CA City Animal Shelter. His caretakers report that he came in as a friendly, frisky, happy dog, but is now acting sad and dejected and refusing to eat. He needs love! Read more about him here, and spread the word!

Goodbye, Twisted Mixtape!

A few weeks ago, Jen, who created and runs the Twisted Mixtape Link Up, announced that she was going on hiatus for a while. The weekly link up is coming to an end... but with any luck, a new, less frequent and more manageable version will be returning this fall.

Seeing as how this is the end of the world Twisted Mixtape as we know it, I knew I had to show up for this one, so I started working on it on Monday evening to make sure I wouldn't flake. At first I had no idea what songs to post, but soon they started popping into my head.

Let's see. Where do I start? How about a kind of silly one? It's the end of the world as we know it... and I feel fine!

While we're on the topic of the end of the world, here is an older, sadder song with the same title. I love this one... it is kind of haunting, isn't it?

What about this next one! It is the classic graduation song because it seems to send the message that we're saying goodbye to great memories, and moving onto a great future. There're are actually several stories about why Billie Joe, of Green Day, wrote this song... from a breakup with his girlfriend, to an arguement with other band members, to suicidal feelings. One of the stories that seems to be the most accepted as truth is that it is a goodbye and "screw you" song to the bar in Berkley, CA, where the band started out playing live music when punk was not very popular yet. They had a small but loyal group of punk rock fans. When they got a contract with a record company and went mainstream, many of their old fans grew angry at them and turned their backs on them. This song, which sounds noticeably different from most of Green Day's other songs, was Billie Joe's way of expressing his anger and disappointment with his old fans and friends. The song is often known as "Time Of Your Life," but its real title is "Good Riddance." Just a little song trivia for you! Whatever the original meaning behind it, to me it is the perfect song for saying goodbye to good friends and good times, knowing we'll never forget them.

I had to work hard to find this next one, because I don't think it is actually a song anyone has ever performed... it is an old summer camp song! I never went to summer camp myself as a kid, but for a few years I volunteered at a summer camp for siblings who were living in separate foster homes. Because this week-long camp was the only time the kids there got to spend with their brothers and sisters in a normal setting (not in a visiting room at the social service office) the end of the week was always especially bittersweet. I picked this one because, even though the visual is a little blurry, these girls do a great job of singing it! It is also a little more upbeat than some of the other versions I found online.

Finally, because I know that Jen loves the Grateful Dead as much as I do, I had to include this one.

So that's it, everyone! I'm going to miss posting these... even though half the time, I completely forget to do it when Tuesday comes around! I think the monthly one will be easier for me to keep track of. I hope.

Bye, all you Twisted Mixtape fans! I hope you come back and visit my blog even without the music!

Sponsored Post: ListGIANT

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Here's A Picture Of Me And Brownie

I had equine therapy today, as I do most Sundays. Right before I left to go there, I was sort of in a tizzy because my mom kept yelling at me for things and it was like she was watching me closely and looking for something to snap at me for. I had made a sandwich and was wiping off the counter, and she was watching me so I was really careful to wipe everywhere and not knock any crumbs on the ground. I shook off the washrag and hung it on the faucet carefully so it wasn't folded up or crumpled anywhere. And she yelled at me for not rinsing out the washrag before I hung it back up. And stuff like that. I was feeling glum. My dad said she was just mad at him and taking it out on me. I deducted that it had something to do with my dad having been drinking the night before. 

So anyways as I was driving to equine therapy I was thinking about it, and when I got there I ended up talking about it with Julie. It sort of brought up a lot of my old memories of when I was a kid.

The whole time I was talking with Julie, I was petting Brownie, and she kept coming over and leaning her head down by me, like she was giving me a horse hug!

Brownie was looking out the window of her stable to see if the grain cart was coming. I had just started telling Julie about something particularly unfortunate. Just then, Brownie turned her head towards me and gave me a horse hug. Then she put her head right in front of my face and seemed to be looking into my eyes,. which is difficult for a horse to do since their eyes are on opposite sides of their head. And then guess what! She gave me a kiss! I never realized horses could kiss people! She put her lips on my forehead and tickled me with them lightly.

I really feel like she sensed I was feeling kind of bad, and she was trying to show me some love. 

Every time I think about it I start smiling and feeling happy! 

When I first got there and went in Brownie's stall, Julie took two pictures of me and Brownie. I wanted to post the alienized versions here so you can see me with my horse friend! 

I love animals so much. If I could be around animals every minute of my life, I'd be happy. Some people tell me I should have been a vet. But I actually don't think I would like that, because a lot of animals don't like going to the vet, and I would have to give them shots and even put some of them to sleep, and that would be really upsetting to me. But I wish I could live on a farm

Maybe next time I will take a picture of the burritos who live in the barn! If you have never petted a burrito's nose, you should definitely put that on your bucket list. 

Okay, I have to disappear now. POOF! ::cloud of smoke::

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Can An Alien Cook An Egg?

Remember how I've been doing a little cooking lately? One thing I've never been able to do is anything that involves flipping something in a pan... french toast, pancakes, grilled cheese, fried eggs, etc. Whatever I try to make gets all scrambled up and discombobulated. I just don't have the hand-eye coordination to do it! In fact when I used to care for my friend's kids full time, she bought nonstick pans just for me, saying, "If Angel is going to be cooking, we'll need nonstick pans!" But even those pans didn't help me to do a good job flipping things. So I usually tried to veer away from that type of cooking. 

However, recently the Ozeri company offered me a free 8 inch Green Earth frying pan to try out and review. I wondered if maybe this pan, that boasts a textured surface that provides superior nonstick performance, might be the solution for me. 

I was also interested in the Green Earth pan because, like its name suggests, it is earth friendly. It has a natural ceramic coating and 100% PTFE and PFOA. (I had to Google this to find out that PTFE stands for Polytetrafluoroethylene, a florine and carbon compound. When used to coat pots and pans, such as Teflon, it can put out dangerous fumes if it gets too hot. It may also be responsible for the deaths of pet birds. PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, which is used to make PTFE and is thought by the Environmental Protection Agency to be carcinogenic. So. We probably should try to avoid those things.) 

I thought it would be fun to not only tell you, but show you, me using the Green Earth frying pan to fry an egg. That way, if it didn't work, you'd get to see the honest results! Check out this short video and see for yourself. 

As you can see, I was finally able to fry an egg! It was easier than I could have imagined. I can't wait to start trying it with other things!

I hope you enjoyed this review. I really like trying out new things for this blog!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Hi everyone! It seems like it's been years since I've blogged, but it has actually only been a few days. I just thought of something interesting. I have both ADHD and Aspergers, and I just realized there is something in common that people who have just one of these issues have in common with each other. People with ADHD often call it hyperfocusing. People with autism (or at least people who work with people with autism... because I'm sure some people with autism actually find this word offensive) call it perseverating. (Maybe people with autism should also call it hyperfocusing. Because I think hyperfocusing makes it sound more like a positive thing, and possibly a superpower, while perseverating makes it sound like a bad habit that needs to be stopped. What would you like to call it?) You know what I'm talking about, right? The ability, or need, to think about one specific topic, even when other things are happening around you.

For me, it usually happens when I get involved in a project that really interests me. Like this blog, for instance. When I first started it, I was constantly thinking about it, and wasn't really interested in doing anything else with my free time. By now it has kind of blended into my regular routine. But when I am working on a post I feel strongly about, it is very hard for me to stop thinking about it! So lets say I am writing this post, and I'm really excited about it, and all day I've been thinking about what I would write in it. Then I come home and get started, and I'm working hard on it, and suddenly someone tells me it is time for dinner Which does happen, since I'm staying with my parents. It is hard for me to just stop what I'm doing, get up, and go eat dinner. I will often just ignore the person calling me, for the first few times, until eventually I can't avoid it anymore. (If I am by myself, this would happen in the form of my ignoring my hunger until I am too light-headed and shaky to type!) When I finally go up to get dinner, I'll still be thinking about my blog post, usually while spinning around or flapping or jumping, because when I am perseverating hyperfocusing I tend to get stimmy. I also talk about it a lot, to the point where other people just start ignoring me because they don't really care about my blog post. And then what I usually do is eat my dinner as quickly as possible, to get back to the interesting task that is holding onto my attention!

This can also come in the form of being obsessed with a certain topic. For a long time, my dad and I used to watch Gunsmoke every night. (Reruns on DVR.) Hey, let's watch some now!

For example, just now, I spent half an hour just searching for the right Gunsmoke clip to post here. There weren't many to choose from, so this isn't the best example, but you get the just of it,.  Anyway I really loved that show and I would think about it all the time, and even dream about it at night!

Anyways, as of late I've been hyperfocusing on a few things. One of them is getting ready for my summer job! I can't remember if I posted this before, but last summer I worked for five weeks as a teacher for a special education summer school program. I taught first, second and third graders, most of whom had Down syndrome. It was challenging but fun! I reapplied to teach there again this year, and I found out I was hired!!!!!

The bad news is, for this program they never get around to telling you what grade or ability level you'll be teaching, until about a week before it starts... and then you don't get the children's IEP's until a few days ahead of time! The IEP's make all the difference. See, last year I knew a week ahead of time that I'd be working with first through third graders. But I had no idea that, of my first through third graders, some would be working only a little below grade level, while others would still be working on learning the alphabet sounds! Until I got the IEP's, I couldn't even begin to make lesson plans. So the whole summer was really a fly by the seat of my pants experience, with me spending every morning teaching, and every afternoon and evening planning the lessons for the next day!

This year I think I've figured out a better way to go about it. I'm going to start planning general lessons way ahead of time (like, right now) and then I'll just adjust them according to the kids I'm working with.

Last year was also hard because, since the kids had so many different academic levels, I was planning out separate lesson plans for each group of kids. I had them divided by what goals they were working on and I'd give each group a different lesson plan or activity. This year I've decided to simplify it a little... I'm just going to make one basic lesson plan for each day, and then modify it for different kids. For instance, I might do a certain game with all of the kids during reading groups, but one group will play with alphabet sounds, another with kindergarten level sight words, and another with second grade level sight words. Does that make sense?

So this is what I've been perseverating on a lot lately! I've decided that we'll have a theme every week and do lessons around that. The program actually has a different theme every summer, so at least one week has to be dedicated to whatever that theme turns out to be. But the other four themes are going to be lemonade, the Fourth Of July, oceans and beaches, and pirates!

The lemonade theme is because, last year, I made fresh-squeezed lemonade with the kids. It was great because they had to practice reading the recipe, following directions, and measuring, and also using language to talk about the texture of the lemons and the taste of the lemonade! So this year I decided to dedicate a whole week (which will actually just be three days, since the week we're doing it, they have two days off) to lemonade, and include books about lemonade, lemon-scented playdough, etc. Planning it all has been keeping me really busy... I can't wait for it to start!

I wish, wish, wish I was planning for a real school year! Maybe next year I'll actually have a teaching job?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But You Can't Make HIm Drink

I've been going to equine therapy for several weeks now. I have learned some things about horses. For instance, here is an interesting fact. Whenever you get on a horse or lead a horse, you are supposed to be on the horse's left side. The reason is because back in the day when people carried swords, if you were right-handed your sword would be hanging on your left side so you cold reach over and draw it out when you wanted to battle. If they got on the horse from the right side, or led him from the right side, the sword would be against the horse and would get in the way. That is also why people in lots of countries drive on the left side of the road. In the middle ages, people would randomly get in sword fights at any given moment. If you were riding down the road, and someone else was approaching from the opposite direction, they might yank out their sword and stab you. You had to be ready for battle. By riding on the left side of the road, it kept your right hand closest to the other person, in a better position to chop the other person's head off if you had to When buggies and stage coaches and junk got invented, they kept up the left side of the road tradition. When the pilgrims invaded America, I guess they just wanted it to be opposite day so they changed the rules of the road. 

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle! 

Okay, moving on. Besides learning about horses, equine therapy has been more helpful to me than any other therapy I've been in so far! Before, when I was in regular counseling or psychotherapy, I would just sit there and talk with the person, and I always felt so uncomfortable and hyperactive. Because you're sitting on a couch, with a table and a box of Kleenex in front of you, and the therapist is sitting across from you, listening to you intently and taking notes. And I would spend the whole time rocking and stimming and not really getting much out of the experience. The counselor could tell me ways of handling my anxiety, and I would nod, but I wouldn't be able to use them in my real life.

In equine therapy it is totally different. I am standing up and moving around, interacting with a horse. I never feel rocky or stimmy or jumpy at all... I feel a sense of calm as soon as I enter the barn! 

One thing I am working on learning is being more confident and taking charge of my own life, and leadership skills that could help me at work and in the rest of my life. So today it was so nice out, and we were outside instead of in Brownie's stall. Julie (not her real name) asked me to try leading Brownie  with her rope thing. But Brownie was like, "I'm actually just going to stay here and eat hay off the ground, okay?" I pulled gently on the rope and coaxed Brownie to come, but she was gobbling up hay and paying no attention to me. I petted Brownie on her neck and asked her to please come with me, but she was still captivated by the hay. I tried this multiple times, giving the rope a gentle tug and giving the horse a gentle pat. But it didn't work! 

Eventually Julie showed me a better way. She just took the rope, which is around the horse's head, and pulled her head up! Brownie looked a little surprised, but not scared, hurt or mad. 

I was still cautious, but Julie told me it was okay to pull harder on the rope. So I gave the rope a pull with all my strength - which isn't much. And Brownie started following me! I didn't have to keep pulling the whole time as if I was tugging a boat to shore or something. I just gave her one strong pull, and then she walked right next to me. 

As it turned out, since Brownie is a giant horse and not a small dog, when I was giving her gentle tugs on her rope, she didn't really pay much attention to it... it was nothing more than a fly landing on her! When I petted her and talked kindly to her, I was just making her hay-eating time more enjoyable and relaxing. It wasn't until I gave the rope a strong tug, that Brownie even realized I was asking her to walk with me! Once she understood what I was asking her, she walked,.If she stopped, I just gave her another tug to remind her! We walked all around the fenced-in area, twice, together. The first time, I was a little nervous, which may be why Brownie kept stopping. The second time, I was calmer, and more confident that Brownie would follow me, and I guess she was more confident that I was a leader! 

The lesson I started learning was that I have to be stronger. Well, not exactly stronger. See, a lot of my life I've been so worried about saying or doing the wrong thing and causing the world to come crashing down, so I ended up not saying or doing anything. I'm often in the background of someone else's life, trying to do damage control for them, instead of moving forward in my own life. In a way, I am often invisible. I have to learn to start actually pushing and pulling and existing in the world. 

It could also be a lesson in working with kids. I've been told a lot that I'm not firm enough with the kids. And it is probably true that, in some of the places I've worked, people were more strict and harsh with the kids than necessary, but on the other hand I'm sometimes too quiet and gentle with them. What they need is just a firm tug and a confident leader. 

Okay. So I have to go play Odd Socks on Facebook do something really important. But until I write again, here, for no real reason, is a picture of a mama horse and a baby horse!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy Blogaversary To Me!

Today is my Blogaversary! As of today, I have been typing away in this little blog for one whole year.

I have been asking my readers to take a survey, and 20 of you did. Which is pretty cool, because it means I have at least twenty readers! I said I'd publish the results today. Keep reading to find out... are you a typical reader, or are you AN ALIEN!!!!!!!!!

Where do you live? I asked readers to identify the state they lived in, or if they didn't live in the USA, their country. It turned out that you guys are scattered all over the USA and even the world!

Online Graphing

Next, I wondered what gender my readers were. It turns out, most of you are female!
I wondered how old my readers were. It turns out that most of you are between the ages of 26 and 35, with another large group being between 50 and 69. I wonder how that compares with the ages of people in general who read blogs?
Online Graphing
Create a graph

I was curious about how often people actually read my blog. I was guessing that most people got around to it about once a week, because that is about how often I manage to get to other people's blogs. It turned out, I was almost right. Most people wander in less than once a month. But 35% of you are loyal readers who show up at least once a week... and some of you are here even more than that!

I'm always curious about how people find their ways to my blog in the first place. It turns out that most of you came here after I commented on your blogs! But the second largest category was "other." which leaves me wondering how the rest of you got here?

The fact that most of you came here after I commented on your blog makes sense. After all, a whopping 80% of you have your own blogs!

The next section was the hardest to make a chart for. I asked about my readers' experiences with special needs. It was hard to find a way to graph everyone's responses to all of the choices. But I did my best. This chart is a little hard to see for some reason, so you might have to zoom in on it!
The RED bar is the number of people who said they had the special need themselves. The pinkish-purple line is their spouses. The blue line is their children. The green line is another family member. And the final, pink line, is NOBODY. I was surprised to see that most people said that they, themelves, have ADHD,  but nobody said that their children have it.

Next came my favorite question, something I love hearing about... what type of pets you have! It was interesting to see that almost 80% of you have dogs, while only 10% of you have cats. Only one person had a pet monster, and I totally know who it is! His initials are R.J.!!!
For the people who chose "Other," I asked them to specify. One person has rabbits and guinea pigs (I really should have added a category for those guys), and another person has a hedgehog. One person takes care of the squirrels and birds in his yard, and feels that they know him now, so he considers them his pets!
 And one person claims to have a kangaroo. I'm guessing that is one of the two people from Australia!

Online Graphing

I wanted to find out what your favorite features of my blog are... not that I will change what I write in my blog, but I could focus on more of some things and less of others. Here's what you guys said! A lot of you enjoy reading about my personal experiences with ADHD, autism and other issues, or about everyday life and random stuff. Which is great, because those are the things I enjoy writing about most!
For those who chose "other," I asked them to specify. A few responded, and here's what they said.
"You! And, your personal experiences with mental health issues."
"Personal experiences AND everyday stuff."
"All of the above."

Finally comes the section that is probably going to give me an inflated ego! I asked you guys to tell me, with free response, what you would like to see more of in my blog. And here's what you wrote.
"I enjoy it all!!"
"Love it as is! Write about whatever matters to you! :)"
"I don't have any suggestions for improvement, I like things the way they are now. My faves though, are just ordinary stories of your teaching days and problems you face and how you resolve them. I like your style of writing and the freshness of your ideas. I'm also a fan because you are an animal advocate like me!"
"Just keep on doing what you do."
"I love reading about your experience with animals!"
"it's all good."
"You. Your thoughts and feelings about how you interact with the world while having ASD."
"I honestly like everything you write about. I know that you have difficulty sometimes speaking to people in person, but you express yourself very well in writing. :)"

Wow! Thanks, everyone! I think I will do this again, about a year from now on my 2nd blogaversary. It will be interesting to see how the answers change over time!

Anyways, I've said it before, and I'll say it again... I really appreciate every one of you who reads and/or comments on this blog. I feel like this blog gives me a place to really be myself, and it has been wonderful to find out that there are people out there who enjoy getting to know me, purely as me. Even if I don't reply to your comments (which is usually because a lot of you are no-reply bloggers so I can't answer via email, and I often just forget to come back to the comments section and reply there) I definitely do read, and love, every one of them.

Thanks for everything! Here's to another wonderful year!
Happy Birthday Comments Pictures

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Some of you may know that April is Autism Awareness Month. In fact, today, April 2, is Autism Awareness Day. You may have seen people wearing puzzle piece ribbons, or "lighting it up blue fpr autism" by wearing blue or turning their porch lights blue. 

What you may not know is that there are a lot of people with autism, and their friends and family members, who dislike or have mixed feelings about "autism awareness."

A lot of people feel that Autism Awareness, when promoted by certain autism-related organizations, focuses on autism being a really bad thing that everyone wants to get rid of as soon as possible. People participate in walk-a-thons and other fundraisers to raise money for research that will find the "cure" for autism. Autism is often presented as a disease that steals the lives of children and families... not that autism kills people, at least not directly, but that eliminates any chances of the children and their families have of living a "normal" life. 

I used to follow along with Autism Awareness and even participated in one of the walk-a-thons when I was younger. But the more I began to read books, articles and blogs about it, the more I began to understand why many autistic people and their loved ones are against this movement. 

Would I like to see autism eliminated? No. I would not like to see myself, my friends and fellow bloggers, and many of the children I've worked with over the years, eliminated. 

When I think about the future of autism, I hope for a world where children with autism spectrum disorders don't get bullied or left out by their peers because they are different. A world where people with autism can pursue their favorite interests, and have their talents and abilities appreciated. I would like to take away the idea that people with autism cannot hold jobs, drive, have children, or live on their own. I would like to see that every person with autism has a way to communicate with others... whether that is with their own voices, with augmented communication devices, with letter boards, with PECS pictures, with sign language, or with whatever methods can be discovered... and that these methods become as acceptable in society as voices are. I would like to see families that include kids with autism get all the services they need in order to thrive. I would like to see people with autism living life to the fullest! 

I was reading the blog Mind Retrofit, and she mentioned that some people have started "taking back" the month of April, including April 2, by celebrating Autism Acceptance Day/Month instead. She wrote about wanting to "turn it on 'rainbow' or light it up 'kaleidoscopic' for the month of April.” That made me think about drawing a new symbol that could represent autism in a positive way, not as something that needs to be cured, but as something that needs to be understood, accepted and appreciated. 

But then I also started thinking of other bloggers who have, or whose children have, things like Tourette Syndrome, learning disabilities, or Sensory Processing Disorder. I thought about my blog post from the other day about mental illness. And I decided I wanted to draw a picture that would represent neurodiversity, or the idea that all of our brains work in different ways. 

So this is what I drew:

What do you think? 

Let me know if you think anything else should be on it...I could work on it a little more if you have suggestions. If you like it as it is, feel free to use it as a blog badge, post it on Facebook, or whatever else you want to do with it. 

In the mean time, thanks to all the people who have taken my blog reader survey! If you haven't, you still have two and a half more days to take it! I will be publishing the results on April 5 for my Blogaversary. I am really grateful for everyone who has participated so far! 

OK. I am so bad at ending blog posts smoothly. So uh.. look over there! (::turns and runs away::)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Twisted Mixtape: Totally Random


Hi everyone! I've missed the last few Twisted Mixtapes because I was either really busy or just forgot... but since there are only a few left before the hiatus, I wanted to make sure I participated this week! The "theme" this week is actually no theme at all... it is a free choice week. I was trying and trying to come up with a great theme... but my brain is fried from trying to teach Everyday Math to fourth and fifth graders today. (Didn't go well.) Then I remembered an old blogging game people sometimes used to post, where you were supposed to set your iPod to shuffle, and the first ten songs that came up would answer certain questions about you. I thought this would be a fun one for today!

I searched the Internet and picked my five favorite questions from this game. And now I will put my iPod on Shuffle to find the answers! (This is better than a Ouija Board!)

1. How would you describe yourself?

2. What is your motto?

 3. What is your family like?

3. What does the future have in store for you?

4. What is your greatest wish?

Okay! Well, that turned out... weird! But it was fun, wasn't it?
Now, please, if you haven't already, could you take my survey? I am going to publish the results on April 5th for my Blogoversary. The more responses I get, the better the results will turn out! 
Thanks! Party on!