Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kicking off 30 Days of Random - Day 0

The Rulez for my 30 Days of Random Topic Blogging were in the Bloggy Doodle Dandy post a few days, ago, but they were:
  • Nothing X/R-rated
  • I'll only write a couple paragraphs
  • I won't use any resources to research the topic...it'll just be whatever I think or have heard or experienced regarding the topic.  (I think that'll make it funnier if I research it after the fact to see just how ignorant I was/am about a topic...maybe I'll post that as a post script on the following day's blog post (if I'm that motivated (I doubt I will be))).
  • I'll solicit feedback on facebook (and here) and post the topics in a Day 0 post.  
  • If I get more than 30, I'll pick the ones I like best.
  • One topic idea per person (I added that one later and then pretended it was there all along)
My crowd sourced inspiration has provided me with the following amazing topic ideas (in no particular order)

1) Matthew Modine October 19
2) Where my time is spent October 11
3) Oreos October 4

4) Cake October 21
5) Candy corn vs. candy pumpkins October 22
6) Halloween costumes October 15
7) A day in the life of a honey badger (with illustrations)October 1
8) Top 5 favorite bands/solo musicians October 10
9) Apples (all about 'em)October 2
10)  Thanksgiving dinner October 27
11)  Shakespearean sonnets or Bruce Springsteen October 17
12)  you can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can't pick your friend's nose October 9
13)  Fire: Is it a "good" thing or "bad" thing? October 18
14) things in my junk drawer October 16
15) The five things (not people) you'd want if you were stranded on an island with no way off. And why. October 8
16)  Yoga pants October 5
17)  Dealing with the depression that fits along with having a special needs childOctober 3
18)  the effects having a special needs kid has on a marriage October 29

19)  Lemmings and Bananagrams. October 12
20)  Special needs kids and confidence October 20
21)  Siblings of special needs kidsOctober 13
22)  How hard it is to have 2 daughters that are prettier and smarter than you. October 28
23)  Cats October 30
24)  Chia petsOctober 14

25)  Book Review (my choice) October 6
26)  Is it better to freeze to death or burn to death October 7
27)  Balancing siblings October 26
28)  Playlists October 24

29)  the parental autism wire; the intricate fascinating woven web of networking the autism parents enter into and create to find and absorb information when their child is diagnosed. October 23

30)  Blueberries October 25

Some people picked serious topics, autism/special needs stuff, some people picked...not as serious topics.  I'll confine the posts to something that doesn't get out of hand length-wise (since the whole point was to write more frequently, but to keep the post length down).  I can tell you that a couple of these topics I'm completely clueless about.

Lots of food related topics.  I considered doing them in groupings, but that's no fun, cause all the serious ones would be together.  Anyway...I broke my own rule and "researched" the first topic, because I decided it would be illustrated, and I didn't know how to draw a honey badger.  So in order to draw it completely life-like...I looked it up.

Apart from that, I kept myself just as ignorant on the subject matter as you've grown accustomed to over the past few years following my blog!  Please tune in tomorrow for "A Day in the Life of the Honey Badger."

Wiggly Slap Party

The Wiggles are coming to Pittsburgh.  Today.  We're going to see them tonight.  I have been watching the Wiggles with my kids for no less than eight years.  I'm...*cough* excited...

It's like a guilty sort of excitement.  I would be happy never to watch another Wiggles DVD again as long as I live...but these people (the various ones filling out the colorful "skivvies (yeah...I guess that's a long sleeve crew neck shirt in Australia) have been a steady part of my entertainment diet for as long as Lily's been alive.

So Lily is going to see Emma (new yellow wiggle) and her bow tonight.

Last week we were sitting at the breakfast table.  The Wiggles were in the background.  Lily was imploring Leslie to watch "'nother one!" and I was telling her that it was Emma's turn.  She slapped Leslie across the face. 


We were instantly mad.  She hasn't done that in a while, but she typically gets things her way television-wise, so I guess there hasn't been a reason for her.  She said sorry and we more or less let it slide, plus she doesn't slap super hard. 

"No Adventure Time," she said.  (That was Emma's pick)
"Yes, Lily, it's Emma's turn.  First Adventure Time, then Wiggles," I replied.

She slapped Leslie again. 

Like...what the fuck?  But at the same time, it inexplicably made me laugh.  I'm the one telling her no.  Leslie's taking my beating.

Okay, behavior aside I couldn't help but immediately envision a sort of comedic interrogation room scene where every time I said no, Lily would slap Leslie.  And it...(and I'm not proud of this)...made me want to say...

"We can play this game allllll day long!  No Wiggles!"
"Is that all you've got?  NO WIGGLES!"

Pan over to see Leslie looking at me incredulously.

It just made me laugh.  And Emma laugh.  And Leslie stare at us both in disgust.  And truthfully, laughing at Lily when she beats the shit out of her mother is probably NOT spectacular parenting.  I had a weak moment.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Curriculum Night

I went to Emma's school's "Curriculum Night" on Thursday.  It was a chance to see the "new" school and to meet her teachers and get a better handle on their expectations for her.  A couple impressions...

1)  the school is monstrous, and they have two minutes to get from class A to class B.  That's super simple if the class is across the hall, but Emma's classes alternate...Third Floor to First Floor...at opposite ends of the building.  If she gets even one note home from the school about "tardiness" I'll have a bird on the floor of the district's administration building.

2)  I introduced myself as "Jim Walter.  I'm Emma Walter's mom." There was a long (in my mind) pause followed by, "or...dad.  You know...whichever."  Laughter followed.  And blushing.  I don't know why the hell I introduced myself as her mom.  It's not like I'm fearful of speaking up and nervous jitters got the best of me...I just blurted out mom.  Anyway. 

3)  There's some really cool stuff going on there, not the least of which is the greater responsibility and more interesting material she's being exposed to. 

4)  I still can't believe I introduced myself as Emma's mom. 

Bloggy Doodle Dandy

So in the spirit of refocusing on writing more frequent (but perhaps a bit shorter) blog posts, I had an idea.  On the previous blog, Dixie Redmond wrote that she was participating (or had participated) in a 31 days of ________ blog idea.  Essentially you pick one topic and devote 31 days of writing different posts on that same idea. 

I'm not doing that.  It's not a stupid idea, it just doesn't appeal to me.  Besides, this blog has been more or less  1000 days of parenting or 1000 days of autism or whatever, so I want to go the other route. 

I want to do a reader submitted blog.  I'll do 30 days (October, I'm thinking) of Random.  On the one hand I feel like it's an exercise in creativity...but on the other hand it's like crowd-sourcing inspiration.  I mean, all I have to do is sit here and write whatever someone tells me they want to hear.

  • Nothing X/R-rated
  • I'll only write a couple paragraphs
  • I won't use any resources to research the topic...it'll just be whatever I think or have heard or experienced regarding the topic.  (I think that'll make it funnier if I research it after the fact to see just how ignorant I was/am about a topic...maybe I'll post that as a post script on the following day's blog post (if I'm that motivated (I doubt I will be))).
  • I'll solicit feedback on facebook (and here) and post the topics in a Day 0 post.  
  • If I get more than 30, I'll pick the ones I like best.
  • One topic per person
That's it...crowd-sourcing inspiration.  To be fair to me, I think it will exercise my creativity to take a topic (tapioca pudding, let's say) and try to make it interesting or creative or personal or whatever.  So while having others pick the topic for me might be the lazy man's road to inspiration, I also think it will serve its purpose. 

It reminds me a lot of a game we used to play in high school to pass the time while listening to a teacher lecture us on some boring-ass topic (say...trigonometry, for example).  I would have a friend draw a squiggle/doodle on a page, and I would have to turn it into a picture.
Doodle (this one actually was kind of a hard one. 
But I'm really out of practice)

Some would turn out sort of cool.  Some looked pretty ridiculous, but I enjoyed doing them, and my friends enjoyed trying to stump me.

Please don't try to stump me.  Do you watch "Chopped"?  Whenever they ask for the audience to vote on a basket they end up with RIDICULOUS basket ingredients.  Please don't ask me to make a palatable blog post with the topical equivalent of...american cheese, sour patch kids, chicken feet, and radishes in my mystery basket....
Man in sweatshirt returns soccer ball to baby in stroller

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blog Reboot

I used to write friends more emails.  I approached them wrong.  Social media has since replaced email and even texting as my preferred mode of communication, but I'm wondering if part of the issue with the infrequency of my blog writing of late is similar to where I went wrong with email. 

For the longest time, I wrote almost daily email exchanges with friends.  We'd ask and answer each other's questions as the day went by and the thread would grow until one or the other of us would start a new email chain.  What we did wrong was...we let the emails get bigger and bigger, answering more questions and telling more and more stories.  That sounds great, and it was, except...answering emails started turning into something I would dread.  I'd look at this giant email and think, "Okay, it's going to take me at least an hour to answer this."  I'd tell my story, ask my questions, and hit send.  When I got the next email back, it would be even longer.  Eventually I started doing the ol'..."I'll address it tomorrow" thing, and then I'd repeat that until guilt spurred me to make tomorrow today and write more. 

So I think that's what's been going on to an extent with the blog.  I have things to write, but it just seems like so much that I don't even want to start because it'll take forever to get to the end.

So I'm going to attempt to write more frequently, but just keep the length more reasonable.  If I can.  I'm...verbose.

Emma has signed up for a writing class with her English teacher for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month).  I told her that maybe I'd do the same thing for...Nanoblowmo...or whatever the fuck they call the blog writing month challenge thingy.  I didn't call it Nanoblowmo to Emma.  Nor did I drop the f-bomb on her.

Anyway, on that topic (writing, not f-bombs)...Emma read something out loud for Leslie and I that she wrote.  It was really good.  It was such a departure from the stuff she's written in the past.  So much more of it was "her voice".  So much less of it was...Topic Sentence/5 Supporting Sentences/Closing Sentence...that drives me batshit crazy.  And she was clearly proud of it, which was great.  Typically we don't get to see her work unless we force her to let us review/correct it.  And maybe that's why...too much criticism.  I don't know.

I made sure to heap praise on her because I'd love for her to take an interest in writing.  The kid is funny as hell, bright, and tells a good story (when she collects her thoughts first)...why wouldn't that translate to good writing?

Nablopomo.  I just looked it up.  National Blog Posting Month.  So I'll maybe do that.

So much for keeping it short so that I post more frequently.   I have a post appearing on Glade Run's website in the next week or so, and I'll link here and let you know when it posts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Lots of stuff has been going on, and so I'm going to pretty much ignore it all and just post this.  It's weird.  My last post was about me driving to work, and the post prior to that was two months ago.  So there's officially so much crap that's happened since then that I'm just going to sweep it off the table like it never happened so I can move on. 

Oh...funny(ish) sidebar...

In college a fraternity brother of mine and I went to a party where we all sat around a table and played quarters.  My personality immediately drew "rules"...Jim talks, Jim drinks...that kind of thing.  Similarly, my friend Todd.  Todd "the Wad".  So the Wad was sitting directly across the table from me, and everyone had gotten up to refill the pitcher or make potty stops or whatever, and Todd looks up at me blearily, as if to speak, and throws up on the table. 

I recoiled, scooting back as far from the table as I could, and the Wad...well...he just swept it off the table like it never happened.  They came back with more beer, and the Wad just kept on playing.  He was a trooper, the Wad. 

Anyway...when I said I had all that crap that went on over the past two months and I was just sweeping it off the table?  I immediately thought of Todd the Wad.

Back on track...

I've always been an avid reader.  We've always read to the kids and I've done my level best to encourage Emma to find joy in books as well.  The Harry Potter series seemed to hit home with her.  We read it to her until she was about 11, then she finished the series off herself.  But after Harry Potter, she sort of hit a dead spot.  She just doesn't get as much out of reading as I did.  And to be fair, she's probably more active than I am. 

She's starting 7th grade.  This past weekend she came home very stressed out because she had learned that in addition to the assigned reading (in Reading class), she also needed to read three novels per 9 weeks.  She just didn't see how that was going to be possible.

We talked it out, trying to make her feel better, explaining how when she has time to read, instead of playing Words with Friends, or chatting with friends, or whatever the app du jour is...if she reads, she'll have no trouble finishing.  She seemed skeptical, but somewhat less stressed. 

The 7th graders have a choice this year, "pick one of the following:  Hunger Games, or Divergent."  I told her to just pick whichever book she doesn't want as her assigned reading.  The way I saw it, some of the kids were going to pick the other book, and if she used that as an extra novel, she'd at least be able to talk to kids who were also reading it.  The next day she came home with her first "In addition to the assigned reading" novel, "Divergent."

Okay...on the books.

I read Hunger Games.  While I don't have a problem with the book, I just wouldn't ever have picked it for my 12 year old.  It just seems too...grown up.  We shelter her from so much.  When the news is on, we turn it off.  Is she ready for this kind of book?  I would have recommended "The Borrowers" or "Chronicles of Narnia" or something...but Hunger Games?  I made my peace with it.  I decided that I would read Divergent with her, so at least I could see what she was reading.  I enjoyed it.  But she...

Loved it.  It's more grown up than the other books she's read, was that what she needed to really love a book?  Have I, all this time, been doing her a disservice by recommending books (that ARE good) that are just too...childish for her? 

She just started dance at a new studio.  She'd promised herself she'd work on her flexibility more and was stretching every night.  I know this sounds like I'm changing the subject, but...

She told me that she could really SEE the characters and what they were doing in a way that she didn't think any other book apart from Harry Potter could do.  She was sooooo into it.  I loved it.  The first night she started reading it, I told her the story of how I'd once read a book all night and went to bed only when I realized the sun had come up and I hadn't slept yet.  That night I told her she was free to read a little past bedtime, but at 11:30 to find a good spot to stop, and then go to sleep. 

I kissed her goodnight and went downstairs to finish cleaning some stuff up and walk on the treadmill.  At 12:30 I walked up the stairs to see her light still on.  I walked in to see Emma, unapologetically very wide awake and still reading. 

"Em, honey, it's after midnight.  I told you to find a good spot to stop an hour ago!"

"There wasn't a good place to stop!"

Fair enough.  She marked her place in the book and went to sleep.  I wondered if she'd have trouble sleeping because she was so excited about it.  She slept fine.  Finished the book the following day. 

One day into her assignment to read three additional novels per nine weeks, she was done with her first novel.  I think she feels a little less stressed about her class requirements now...and I am hopeful that she's discovering, in more grown up story-lines, a love of reading.