Reader Highlight: Katrina

Katrina, who has commented here, is a blogging buddy of mine in our 31 Days Blog Challenge.  I’ve been following her for a little while, and she writes really well about being a special needs mom.  Her post, “The Truth About Being the Perfect Special Needs Parent” is one of her best.

In this post, she writes about the constant feeling of failure, like she isn’t being everything she can be for her kids.

I know this feeling.

Twice this summer, The Boy has had such magnificent, long-lasting meltdowns, that I was the one who ended up pacing the floors, unsure of what to do, unable to pull anything from my bag of tricks because it was completely empty.  I was the one moved to tears because I was tired, emotionally spent, and couldn’t take it for one more second.  I was the one who felt like such an astounding failure.

Katrina ends her post by writing about how important it is to lean on others, accept support, and let others be strong for us, even when it is the last thing we want to do.

I am lucky to have The Man, mind-reader that he is, who (during the second meltdown, as I was pacing, and probably looking like a kicked puppy) said, “You have done all you can do.  There is nothing left.  You are not a failure.”

I urge you to go read Kat’s blog,  She gives a beautifully written voice to us special needs parents.

Hey Autism Community: Enough Already!

I am always saddened by the divisive nature of the autism community.  It seems that we parents need to pick sides on plenty of issues, or be ridiculed, or even better “educated” by those who hold differing viewpoints.   For or against vaccines?    Autism Speaks?  Medication?  Jenny McCarthy?  Chelation?  We are even supposed to pick sides on whether the “Trip to Holland” allegory is touching or insulting.

Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When The Boy was first diagnosed (at age 5), I was handed a brochure, and told to contact the Autism Society of America.  And that was it.  I obviously needed more support than that, and looked to the Internet to join a group in which I could participate to the extent that I wanted to on any given day.  I joined a yahoo group of autism parents, and thought, “This will surely help.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I was confused by all of the differing opinions on things I had never even heard about, and saw actual arguments unfold, in this group of adults whose supposed sole reason for existing was support.  I did not remain a member long.

I think we do our children a great disservice by not recognizing that just like autism is a spectrum disorder, the treatments, causes, documentation, and people attempting to assist us are all a part of a larger spectrum, as well.  There is no one treatment, no one cause, and no one group that can satisfy all of our needs.  If you think that, you are shutting the door to so many other possibilities for your child.

We must trust ourselves to do what is right by our children, as no one knows them as well as we do.  But we must not abuse each other in the process, as no one knows what we go through each day better than another parent of a child with autism.  We must agree to disagree so that we can move forward, creating better treatments, finding causes, and building better organizations for our community.  The divisive nature we have shown thus far is quite possibly holding our cause back, and it will continue to do so, unless we make a change now in how we treat each other.

Lunch and the Picky Eater


lunch-2007-04-03a (Photo credit: flakyredhead)

Hi, my name is Annie and I’ve been phoning it in.  I’ve been giving my kid lunchables and poptarts for far too long with the excuse that he is a picky eater and that is all he’ll eat.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that this year.  I’m tired of the guilt, the lack of nutrition in my son’s diet, and the money spent.  We’re going to switch it up.

I’ve talked about going “back to bento” for myself, and I am excited.  I’ve also talked to The Boy about making our own “lunchables”, where we can choose what lunchmeats/crackers/pizza toppings go in the lunch, rather than taking what good ol’ Kraft decides to give us.  Realistically, he would eat pizza everyday for every meal if I let him, and I can give him less processed and pre-packaged options for pizza easily.  His other choices are based on the candy or treat that comes with the lunchable, so I’m sure he wouldn’t say no to a homemade cookie or two instead.

This means that I will be menu planning every week, for dinners and lunches.  If you’d like me to share my weekly menu plan, let me know in the comments.

Here are a couple of final thoughts:

  • I’m not above using a gimmick to get my kid to eat.  I will be ordering the Funbites Cube It! because I think it will be fun, and I might use it, even if he doesn’t.
  • Occupational Therapists will tell you to introduce new foods very gradually to the picky eater, and I will be employing this method, starting with… pizza! – can you imagine all of the possibilities of introducing new foods via pizza?
  • A few posts got me started on this idea: this one from, and this one from  I like the idea of listing all of the things he will eat, and starting from there, because I have a feeling it’s a longer list than I give him credit for.

Wish me luck!

Time Saver: Dashlane

If you are an internet hound like me, and you do a fair amount of shopping via the web, also like me, you may want to check out Dashlane.  This is one of those password saver applications that not only saves your passwords extremely securely, it also fills out forms for you online.  Creating a new account for some website?  Dashlane will fill that out for you!  Not sure if you have an account on this site?  Dashlane remembers.  I was skeptical at first, but after it was reviewed and recommended by, I gave it a shot (it was still in beta at the time), and I love it.
Want to save some time?  Try Dashlane.

(And no, I get nothing for recommending it!)

Get on the Phone to Save Some Money

Comcast bill

Comcast bill (Photo credit: pmsyyz)

Today I called the cable company who decided to up my bill by $20 a month.  I spoke with two people, who both were very nice, but also professionals.  “Let’s see what’s going on with your account…”  They both knew exactly what had happened – The promotional term had ended, and no one had informed me that there was a promotional term.  They know that because they get hundreds of calls a day from people just like me, complaining about the very same rate hike, yet they pretend to commiserate and try to “figure out” what could possibly be happening with my bill.  They ask if there are any other problems with the service, they ask if maybe I have more services than I need.  This is the tactic they use to try to get people to back down and agree that the services provided really are worth the extra money.

They don’t fool me.  I have my own techniques.  I stayed calm, and kept repeating that I would have to go to their competitor to see if they could offer a better deal — this was how I got the first person to switch me to the “loyalty department”.  The second person tried to get me to see what a deal I was still experiencing, as I was still $15 under “retail” by asking if I had any issues with buffering or picture quality.  I finally told him, “I don’t have any problem with the service, I have a problem with the price.”  At this point he offered to “split the difference with me”.  I took his offer, but in the meantime, got all the pertinent facts about how much Internet and basic cable were costing (each), when the cost would go up again, and the mbps speed, so that I can go to their competitor and see if I need to make a change.

Before I became a single mom, I never would have picked up the phone to make this call.  I still do not like talking to people (businesses) on the phone, but now I can play the game and save myself some money when I have to.

What tips do you have for saving money on bills?

Me-Time: Free Hour

English: A Glass of Tea. Français : Une tasse ...

English: A Glass of Tea. Français : Une tasse de thé en verre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent post, I lamented that I had not pre-planned how I should spend my time when The Boy was camping with Fantastic Babysitter.  So I’ve been thinking about some ways I could spend a free hour…

  • Take a 15 minute bike ride (weather permitting)
  • Go shopping (or browsing) for girly underwear
  • Take a nap
  • Crank the music up and dance around the house
  • Sort through some toys to donate
  • Go to the bookstore
  • Go to a café, get a drink or a snack, and read
  • Take my camera somewhere and take some pictures

What would you do if you had a free hour to yourself?

The Ex and Empty Promises

Red phone

Red phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ex and I divorced 4 years ago, and in that time, The Boy has been on the receiving end of many empty and broken promises.  These range from “I’ll call you on Thursday,” (empty) to “I’m not going to be picking him up for his week with me,” (broken).  As you can imagine, this would devastate any kid, but to a kid with autism, who is reliant on schedules, timers, and routine, it can be catastrophic.

This was actually a common theme before the divorce, so I am used to it, but The Boy was 6 when we divorced, and has learned only by experiencing it so often over the past four years.  He still enjoys talking to his dad, and still enjoys visits to his dad’s when they occur, but the empty promises wreak much less havoc now.  There are still tears, and “Why isn’t he coming to pick me up?” but he now knows his dad has a tendency to break promises, and he’s starting to understand that it’s something we can’t do anything about.

The only thing I can do is to make sure I don’t break my promises to The Boy.  It’s very important to me that he knows he can rely on me, and he does because I’m consistent.  There are times I know he thinks I’m the meanest mom in the world, but he knows I love him, I will never leave him, and he can always count on me.

Pomo What? How the Pomodoro Technique is like Behavioral Therapy

As we head back into the sPomodoro techniquechool season which is hectic for most parents, and extremely hectic for the special needs parent (can anyone say, “Transition”??), I have to admit that I sometimes need motivation to get done all of the things that need to get done.  In other words, I need something to get my butt in gear when it comes to chores at home, because in my whole scheme of things, they are often the last priority.

If you aren’t familiar with, it is a site that offers lots of techie tips, but also its fair share of life techniques that can help you simplify processes and save time.  A few months ago, I read about The Pomodoro Technique on lifehacker, and have been using it with considerable success in my own life.  There are even free apps for using this technique, which makes it even better.

The gist is that you set your timer for 25 minutes, and work straight through at your task until the timer goes off.  You then reward yourself with 5 minutes to do whatever you’d like.  You can also modify those numbers, if you want to work for shorter or longer, or reward yourself for shorter or longer.  Only you know what will work for you.

Those of us familiar with visual schedules and behavioral therapy recognize this basic principle of “work-then-reward”, and the truth of human nature lies within – it’s hard to be intrinsically motivated when doing things you hate to do.  The best part is that I am not too overwhelmed to get started on my chores when I break them down into 25 minute chunks, and I can walk away in the middle if I need to attend to something else.

Check out the lifehacker article here, and the official website here.

What tricks do you use to get everything done?