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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Autism Madlibs



I originally wrote this for Childswork last year, but wanted to share it again over here since it's not time-sensitive or anything and, MADLIBS!
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As a parent of an autistic child, some time after diagnosis, but before you actually know ANYTHING about autism, you will undergo a slow realization period, wherein you will become inundated with facts and figures, theories, stories and various and sundry apocrypha. During that immersive discovery period, various autism parenting cliches will surface and you will briefly (or maybe even not so briefly) latch onto them as they, at that moment seem to nail your experience. You’ll find yourself nodding your head in solidarity with these sentiments like a jilted lover listening to a country music station.

These cliches are important at first, if for no other reason than to help you frame your child’s experience through someone else’s words, someone who seems more travel-worn and more autism-worldly than perhaps you feel. They make you feel like “someone gets me!” and that’s great, especially at first. But ultimately, as you start your unique journey parenting an autistic child, you find that each cliche eventually collapses under the accumulated weight of the arguments against it; whatever its merits, it also has its deficits, and although it helped frame your world for a time, it framed it incompletely. Except the cliches don’t. go. away. Some are tender and touching and more or less true. Some are broad and general and definitive and somewhat apply, but none of them are particularly ‘helpful’ in any practical sense, and at some point you’ve got to stop reading so many blogs and go raise your kids or go live your life. (But don’t stop reading this blog. Always read this blog.)

Every day someone is asking you if you’ve read the marvelous essay that compares your journey, or your son or daughter’s journey to an unplanned trip to some tulip filled flood plain. Or whether you’ve seen Rain Man. Or if your child can calculate pi to the 100th decimal. Or whether you’ve tried sporn flushing to cure his ‘awful affliction’. And so you trot out the cliches. And the more you trot them out, the more they make you cringe, but perhaps you cringe less than you might if you had to explain it all in your own freshly-minted words every time. Unless…

Try Autism Madlibs. You fill in a noun, adjective or verb, as requested, then plug them into some old, tried and true autism cliches to spring on your friends and family. It’s fun for you, and …AND instructive. It’s useful brain calisthenics to attempt to draw a parallel between your experience and a bunch of random parts of speech. It will amuse you, instruct you, and bamboozle your friends. Win. Win. Win.

Let’s get started. First you need to print out the mad lib sheet. Click the picture below, print it out, and fill in the blanks. Once this is complete you can insert them into some common autism cliches that I’ll supply at the end of the post. If you print the whole post out it won’t really work, because you’ll see the expressions and that’s cheating.

autism mad lib
the list…print it out and fill in the blanks
Did you get them all filled in? If you haven’t done a mad lib, now you read the blanks with the parts of speech you supplied in the sentences previded below out loud. Hilarity ensues.

blank autism madlib
Insert the parts into this here handy blank sheet and VOILA! Pithy new cliches everyone can easily understand!  I’ve taken the liberty of filling out a couple of the cliches myself, so that you can see how this is supposed to work.  I randomly picked numbers 3 and 4…

Autism is a pretzel.

Autism is like a purple giraffe to Cairo.

The benefit to you is a straight-faced delivery of either of these AND as much thought as you can put into the explanation. Remember…this is mental weight lifting for you. Entertainment, Betterment. Win, win.

3. Why yes, Ted, that’s exactly what I said, parenting a child with autism is a pretzel. You see…the twists and turns of the discovery process of diagnosis and all the visits to specialist had us tied in knots. I can’t MENTION the sort of salty language that I used during those trying times, it left me…crunchy, hardened from the experience. Autism is a pretzel. A hard crunchy salt covered pretzel twist.

And if Ted says, “But what about warm soft pretzels?”
Then you give Ted a long-suffering stare and say, “Ted, you don’t know anything about autism, do you? Autism is nothing like warm, soft pretzels.”

Autism is like a purple giraffe to Cairo
4. Well, Aunt Margaret, what’s the absolute last thing you’d take to Cairo? A giraffe, right? And that’s how unexpected this all was. And it’s a war zone, make no mistake. Much like Cairo, there are constant battles to be fought and treaties to be negotiated with the school, and with day care, and the bruises as we worked through Billy’s biting/slapping issues…well that’s the purple you see on the giraffe. See? It’s right there.

And if Aunt Margaret replies, “Well what about Northern Ireland? That’s sort of a war zone too?”

Well then you look at Aunt Margaret with all the scorn you can muster and say, “They speak English in Northern Ireland…Billy is non-verbal…we have to learn to communicate with him in different ways. Haven’t you been listening?? Northern Ireland is nothing like parenting an autistic child.”

Under the frivolity is a simple truth (and ironically, another cliche): your journey parenting your autistic child is unique and cliche-defying. And the result of the simple, frivolous brain exercise of forcing yourself to frame your own experience in random terms such that they make sense to you is something that no two people will duplicate. There is no “right answer”. There is no cliche powerful enough to encompass all our complexities and challenges.

Nevertheless, have fun, and mad lib responsibly…make sure you leave your favorite (along with your explanation) in the comments!

If you’re unfamiliar with the cliches from which I derived the mad lib, see below. They all have something to offer, outright blunt obvious truth…one person’s philosophy…or deep thoughts on the meaning of it all.

1. If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.
2. Real autism isn’t like Rain Man.
3. Autism is a puzzle
4. Autism is like an unplanned trip to Holland
5. There is no cure for Autism. There is only acceptance.
6. Autism is different, not less.
7. Autism doesn’t define my child.
8. Your autism is not like my child’s autism.
9. Having autism is like living on the wrong planet
10. Autism is a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In the Gutter

The day after we had our wine party we bowled in fundraiser benefiting Hemophilia.  What inspired us to schedule in that fashion?  Oh yeah...that was the Lord's doing.  The prior week a snow storm postponed the charity bowling event to the following week.  It probably occurred to Leslie that we would have to attend after the tasting, but it didn't occur to me.

I posted to facebook:



And it did.  But a couple Tylenols and I was good as new.  Leslie, however?  Well, I won't speak for Leslie in this matter.  But she didn't eat food that day.  Mostly.

We went to the bowling alley.  I kept calling it Treasure Island, but I think the actual name was Paradise Island.  Lily, who thought I was referencing the movie, "Chipwrecked" kept asking me where Zoe was. 

"She's on the island, Lil." (times a thousand)

We had fun.  Hangovers notwithstanding, we had a good time and raised money for bleeding disorders.  But I was tired.  Emma probably had the most fun.  They had a black light on so that colors looked glowy and vibrant and bumpers automagically popped up when it was her turn to bowl.  The alley was newer and clean.  And they served wings and pizza and fries.

Lily was not in love with the Alley.  The music was too loud.  There were too many people.  She was visibly anxious, holding on to things to keep her balance and find her place in the noise and bustle,  anchoring herself physically.  Papa took her outside to wander, but she lost interest and came back inside.

I felt really bad about it.  I mean, that much...muchness...it was too much for her.  But it's the debate we always have with ourselves as parents.  Do we push her limits to experience new things or do we exclude her from activities with the rest of the family knowing she'll struggle.  And it felt wrong not to include her.

Leslie and I initially flanked her so she wouldn't wander off.  She would hold our hands, or the ball rack.  I offered her a fry.

"NO!" she yelled at me, pushing my hand away, then grabbing the fry and eating it.  She was just very discombobulated.  Eventually she got accustomed to ambience.  She settled down, even sitting with us as we bowled.  I offered her a chance to roll the ball, but she didn't take me up on it, content to watch us instead, asking for her Aunt or Emma, someone...ANYONE who was not Leslie or me.  And once she started to settle down we did too.  She constantly asked to go to the bathroom, which was quiet and away from the noise, and I think she recognizes that whenever she asks we will automatically take her.  That was our experience when she was afraid at The Nutcracker.

The bowling itself was not spectacular.  I bowl maybe once every couple years, but I was particularly bad on Sunday.  For the first 5 frames I had at least one gutterball or complete miss each time.  I'm no pro, but that's pretty bad by my standards.  I was looking at maybe rolling a 70 or something by the time the 6th and 7th frames came up and I got two strikes in a row, followed by a 9.  I sort of breathed a sigh of relief.  Emma was going to beat me up until that point.  After that I was much more myself, still sucktacular, but not THAT sucktacular.

At one point they must have had 80's hour because every music video (they had flat panel monitors in the lanes that doubled as TV screens when the lanes weren't in use) was from the 80s, and we found ourselves getting Rick-rolled at the bowling alley.  I danced the dance.


By midway through the second round, I noticed my thumb was developing a blister.  Midway through the third, my hand and ass ached.  Who knew bowling was so physically demanding?

Today I'm sore.  From bowling.  Cause I'm fit.

My sister and her son ended up taking home a trophy for biggest team, which was cool, because we were on it so we felt like winners too.  And we also ended up with our own trophy...

Yeah.


Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Taste of California - Oscar/Wine Pairing Party

This year's participants.  The last wine is the label-less Que Ser√° Syrah that Jimmy and I made.  Because 8 was NOT enough.
So every year for the past six years we've had a wine tasting party.  They started out very casual and slapdash and evolved into something with a little more structure.  You can read more about the evolution of it "here" if you wish.

About six months ago or so Leslie and I decided the theme for this year's party would be the Academy Awards.  She and I figured it would dovetail nicely with the region (California).  We fine-tuned how it would all work and then kept the theme secret until we sent the official invitations out (about four or five weeks before the event).  Prior to that she'd done some ground work with determining schedules, so it's not like we just said, "Hey, you're invited," and hoped everyone could make it.  But it was "formalized" a few weeks in advance.



The general guidelines for the party are as follows:
1)  Wines are assigned randomly to the participants.
2)  Participants research their wines and create some sort of presentation, educational/entertaining.
3)  Participants research a dish that pairs well with their wine.
4)  Leslie sets up the menu once all the wines and dishes are announced.
5)  Commence to partyin'.
She puts one of these at each place setting, sort of like a program.

This year, with the theme being the Academy Awards, Leslie's invitation read "Black tie optional".  I donned my black suit and purchased a bow tie, for example.  More on that painful process "here."

We rolled out a red carpet, festooned the walls with stars, cordoned off the front door with a velvet rope, got swag bags for the visiting VIPs, purchased "trophies", and decked a couple of the participants daughters in fancy evening gowns to act as presenters.





The idea was the girls would read an envelope of nominees and then award, for example, the best Cabernet Sauvignon, to a participant.  The participant(s) would then rise to the acknowledging cheers of his peers and the presentation would essentially be the acceptance speech.
The other girls aren't pixelated in real life.  That's just a camera effect.

It was great.  And classy.  But drunken.  Too drunken.  Probably we'll have to make some changes moving forward.  People lose track of the fact that there are eight wines to get through, and the pours get a little 'too full' to make it to the end safely.  By the third course I was more than tipsy.  By the 7th, you couldn't hear the presentations over the sound of drunken heckling.  By the 9th*, well...no arrests were made.  But it was a close thing.

*Officially there were 8 courses, but we cracked open a bottle of the wine we made in November.  That was the fabled one-too-many.
so classy

Leslie and I were randomly assigned Cabernet Sauvignon.  We paired it with filet mignon sliders done two ways...one with a chimichurri sauce and stone ground mustard on artisan bread, and the other a Gorgonzola and Porcini cream sauce on artisan bread.  We then cut the sliders in half so that each person got half of each recipe...or one whole slider.  But seriously, with eight courses nobody leaves hungry.

Here was our presentation for this year's party...



2011 Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon


Dreaming Tree is owned by Dave Matthews and some wine guy.  Yes, that Dave Matthews.  Dreaming Tree’s website assured us that the wine guy’s credentials were beyond reproach, and that Dave Matthews also knew some stuff.  Liking wine, for example, was listed on his resume.

Dreaming Tree itself is named after a Dave Matthews Band song…”Dreaming Tree”.  But “What Would You Say” if we were to stand here in “The Space Between” “You & Me” and start interjecting Dave Matthews Band puns throughout our presentation?  Doubtless you’d lose patience and “Crash into Me” in your haste to “Say Goodbye” and, like “Ants Marching” we’d lose the lot of you and be left crying, “Where Are you Going?” we have “So Much to Say!” 


But we’re not clich√© like that. 

Dreaming Tree’s website is selling a story about their wine.  More so than the wine itself it seems, because while I’m not positive what the wine itself is supposed to be like from their website, I do know, for example, that Tino is an old local guy who doesn’t want to retire, and that Dale is a local fisherman who offered Dave a beer once.  And so on.  Charming stories about the people and places around the vineyard, and of course, back story about why Dave Matthews is a wine expert all litter their webpage along with charming photographs of Dave drinking wine with people, or staring into the middle distance, a visionary wine…liker…guy.  In the background are hand drawn sketches of fish and people and houses and things.  But still no ideas what Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon is supposed to taste like. 


After much digging I came up with this:  The wine “shows abundant fruit with notes of cherry, blackberry, anise and vanilla. It's soft and with a lush texture that makes it great match for everyday foods.”


I’m not sure that we agree about “everyday foods” But…it is soft, definitely softer than your typical high tannin Cabernet.  It makes it smooth and drinkable and easier to pair with food than the first wine we considered…more about that in a moment.


We also know is that it’s from California.  We know that because Dreaming Tree was as I mentioned, our number two selection for reasons.  For starters, number one did not pair particularly well with the first dish we tried, was a only a little better with the second, but not great with the third (a pumpkin cheesecake recipe that Leslie insisted we start at 10:30 at night and I was still waiting to cool at 1:00 a.m.).   Upon failing this last test, and with mounting panic, Leslie said, “Why don’t you see what their website says pairs well with it.”  So I went.  It turned out that our first selection was a wine from Oregon.  Drunk, we turned instead to a wine that we were relatively sure was not from Oregon, and quite possibly was from California.    


Yes!!  Dreaming Tree is from California!


From our general research on wine pairings with Cabernet we have some nice bullet-point memorizables:

  • 1.      Cabernet’s high tannin content lends itself to grilled meats…steaks, chops, and other red meat.  The char on the meat mirrors the bitterness of the tannin.
  • 2.      Black pepper counters the bitterness
  • 3.      Bitter foods…mustard greens, endive, eggplant
  • 4.      Cabernet counters fatty, buttery foods nicely.
  • 5.      Earthy herby flavors, dark mushrooms, fresh herbs.

Taking all of the above into consideration we tried five recipes (including those we sampled with the Oregon wine) and were left with two that we felt really paired well.  Instead of settling on one, we have prepared for you…


Petite filet sliders done two ways:  filet with chimichurri sauce and stone ground mustard, and filet with Gorgonzola and Porcini mushroom sauce both served on lightly toasted artisan bread.  


We each felt that one of the preparations paired better than the other.  We’re curious what you’ll find.  Do the herbs and pepper of the chimichurri pair better than the fatty Gorgonzola and earthy Porcini flavors of the cream sauce?

Bon Apetit!

We took an Ellen Degeneres-style Oscar selfie, but without the consent of the other participants I'm reluctant to share it here.  That said, here's a teaser...


Leslie said, "Did we do a selfie?" the following day.  She didn't remember anything after the 6th course. 

I seem more serious than I really was.  My lopsided grin is away from the camera so it's hidden.  I was happy.  Sooooooo happy.
Lily dressed up but was designated driver.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gordian Knot

I bought a bow tie for the wine tasting we're hosting this weekend.  I don't really know how to tie a bow tie, but they give you instructions on how to tie them in the box with the bow tie.  They look more or less like this:


I pulled that off someone's blog, but essentially, they're the identical instructions that came on a card in the box into which my new bow tie was elegantly stuffed.

I won't ask you to read through the steps, but, well, no, go ahead and read through as much as you can.  I think somewhere around instruction 2 or possibly 3 is where the words started sliding over each other.  I can't think of a better way to describe it, but the instructions should be easy enough to follow, and for some reason I just couldn't wrap my head around them.  I got all swimmy and confuzzled.  I found myself reading the instructions aloud and very slowly performing the actions as I read.  Emma, curious, watched from behind me.

"Can I try?" she asked.

"In a minute, Em," I mumbled, "I need to figure this out for myself."

She waited in what was her version of 'patiently'.

The bow tie was a wad of fabric vaguely globe-shaped as I completed the instructions.  It fell to rest against my shirt shapelessly.  I extracted its component parts from the weave into which I'd contorted it and gave the tie to Emma, busying myself making lunches and grumbling to myself.

Leslie called from the family room.  "Emma, you need to study for your tests."  Emma dejectedly set aside her work with the tie and collected her papers to study, the tie just as unvanquished by her youth and enthusiasm as it had been by my aged experience. 

"I almost had the shape right," she muttered.

Later we both revisited the project, this time with a few Youtube videos.  I searched for "How to tie a bow tie."  There were many.  One tutorial was ten minutes long.  Ten.  I watched it.  I made it perhaps through six minutes before I was overwhelmed and set the project aside once more.  Emma picked up where I left off, fresh from having correctly answered all the questions I had asked her from her study guides, and therefore fulfilling her commitment to "study for her tests."

We both eventually went to our respective beds that night unsuccessful.

This morning I again revisited the project.  I watched a shorter, but much less technical version of "how to tie a bow tie".  Although the video was shorter, and the person in the video hadn't paid enough attention to allowing his pupils a clear view of the tie he was tying as he was tying it, I had some success following his directions, which were simpler.

I practiced while waiting for Lily's bus to come pick her up.  Lily was swinging the cat by its tail, or hitting baseballs through the TV or playing in the street or something, it's not terribly clear to me, so consuming was my need to overcome this hurdle.  At last...


...so, a passable bow.  I don't mind the folded knot.  I don't mind the asymmetry of the two sides.  In my head it sort of gives the bow tie character.  It shows it off as "hand tied" vs. "clip on".  I'm not saying I'm standing pat with that effort.  I still have some work to do, but it's a bow, and it's tied correctly.  Or...is it?

So this thing occurs when you tie the tie as I tied it.  The right side is a loop.  The left side is the tail of the loop.  In my head I thought that couldn't be right.  In my head a properly tied bow tie has a bow and a bow...loop and loop in front, tail and tail in back:  bow/tail on the left, bow/tail tail on the right.  I asked around.  There was general agreement among the equally uninformed.  I tried googling this:  "Top view of a bow tie".  It was really hard to find.  Nonexistent even.

WHY ARE THERE NO TOP VIEW SCHEMATICS OF BOW TIES???  This was the thought that entered my head.  Caps required.  I was passionate about this lack of important information.  The question in my head amounted essentially to this:

And this is a big deal.  The people who go to these parties, they're friends.  And if you're my friend, it might be assumed that my friends are somewhat similar to me.  And if it can be assumed that they are somewhat similar to me it should logically follow that by showing up with my bow tie improperly tied I would be subjecting myself to loss of face and public shaming in perpetuity.  I'm not saying my friends are assholes.  I'm just saying that the friendships of men are like feudal Japan, exhausting and filled with hidden rules and codes and etiquette and I'm not throwing myself on that sword willingly.  One friend allegedly* caught the table on fire three years ago and is still subjected to "keep the candles on this end of the table"-style jokes to this day.  Last year Leslie put a fire extinguisher next to his fork.

*He denies it to this day using the "it wasn't me" defense.
 
I did a lot of digging.  A loooooooooooot of digging.  Almost every picture of a bow tie is from the front.  It's impossible to tell if I had my tie correctly tied.  I revisited the how-tos.  I watched videos, combed pictures, asked my boss.  It wasn't clear.  But everyone with whom I spoke on the matter agreed...two bows in front, two tails in back.

Despite this, I soldiered on until I came across this diagram:

If you look closely, really closely, the tie appears to be bow in front, with tail behind on the right, then tail in front with bow behind on the left.


Then I came across this diagram:

Both diagrams show bow/tail/tail/bow, and I was psyched in a way that was so illogically relieving that I struggle to describe it.  It's such a stupid little "problem" to have that the relief from finding its solution seems similarly stupid.  It definitely merits a place among other worthy First World Problems:  "Can't tell whether my black tie should be tied with both bows in front".  But I felt like the color picture definitely showed the pink side of the tie completely in front; both bows couldn't be in front in that case.

Had I possessed the above diagram yesterday none of this would have been an issue.  Or maybe it would have been a different issue, because without words I challenge any reader who is still hanging in there despite the subject matter to tie a bow tie using the above diagram and no explanation. 

I informed my boss of my findings, but he remained unconvinced.

"Google Bill Nye," he suggested.

I did so.  Nestled among the thousands of pictures of "The Science Guy" and his signature bow tie were clearly visible examples that when Bill Nye ties his bow tie, like the old cliche says:  he does it just like the rest of us, bow/tail/tail/bow.  Case closed.



Do other men know this?  Other men who don't wear bow ties, I mean?

In my Google travels, I came across a how-to video from Howdini.  The caption of the how-to was, "Knowing how to tie a bow tie is one of those skills a woman should know, so she can help her man when the need arises."  And I thought, "Why is my wife so useless in bow tie matters?" and resolved to punish her with icy stares and stony silences while she fetches my slippers and pipe when we finish the home-cooked meal she prepares me after she's done working full time today.

Today at work, Emma texted me a picture of herself wearing my bow tie, neatly tied.  "Look daddy, I did it."  I'm almost positive she suffered no qualms regarding the relative locations of the bows and their tails in relation to one another.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Housekeeping

(Wikipe-tan, cleaning up)
A few housekeeping updates...

Apparently today is "Spread the Word to End the Word Day" and it completely escaped my attention (not that I'd have written about it anyway).  But it didn't escape a lot of other people's attentions.  Here are some of the ones I'm aware of:

Jillsmo's version
Jessi's version
Mama Fry's version
John Franklin Stephen's version
Jordan's version

Pick your favorite!  Vote online and qualify for fabulous prizes*

*subject to availability

So that's the first thing.  It's weird, because I have acquaintances who still use the term.  Even friends.  And up until maybe...5 years ago, I was using it too.  Well, I've changed my viewpoint.  I don't like it anymore.  You don't have to stop saying it.  Just...you know...if you say it, I don't like it.  So you can decide to say stuff I don't like or not and that's really up to you.  But you're kind of a douche if you do.

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Next...leave this website immediately!  Wait...wait...before you go, after you leave, type "justalilblog" in your browser window where you normally would have typed "blogginglily.blogspot.com".  Okay, I'll wait here.  If you're not back yet it's because you typed the fucking quotation marks.  DON'T TYPE THE QUOTATION MARKS.  Okay.  Waiting again.

WELCOME BACK!  Yeah, I bought the domain name (Surprise, Leslie!  You can't get your nails done this week.  It's no longer in the budget) so that when people are looking for the blog now all they have to remember is the name of the blog, not that arcane blahblah.blahblah.blah nonsense. 

The idea is that at some point I'll self host...meaning no longer on blogger.  But I'm not really sure what my time table is for that.  In the meantime, all me having my own domain name means is that when you type "justalilblog" it redirects you to "blogginglily.blogspot.com" so that you don't have to remember the address, just the name.

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What else...the wine tasting is this weekend.  I'll post my presentation along with some pics of the event.  I'll talk about the theme and the food and the wine next week some time, but last night Leslie and I finalized our pairing.  And it is BOMB, yo!  There were some snafus along the way that created some stress in our lives related to fucking up the wine or the food or the wine AND the food along the way.  But as of last night we're feeling pretty bullet proof.  And that's not just the wine talking.  Or maybe it is.

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For those of you on Facebook, I reposted a couple pieces from here on my Huffpo profile.  It tends to get more traffic than my little blog here does, but if you're not on Facebook, you're not missing anything.  I just took two posts... 

  1. http://blogginglily.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-letter-to-my-autistic-daughter-to-be.html
  2. http://blogginglily.blogspot.com/2014/01/love-for-nt-parents.html
...removed the eff bombs and other swearing, edited out a lot of the personal information and sidebar garbage, and posted the guts of the posts.  Huffpo brings in a lot of traffic.  For example, the letter to Lily got retweeted on Twitter by Holly Robinson Peete.  If you don't know what that means, then don't worry about it.  Essentially, it just means someone with a GIANT audience of followers posted my article on her twitter feed so that they could all see it.

To put that into social media perspective:
When I tweet (@blogginglily):  2,008 followers can see my post.
When Huffpo tweets (@huffpostparents):  168,000 followers can see my post.
When Holly Robinson Peete tweets (@hollyrpeete):  475,500 followers can see my post.

That's why RT's are important to twitter users.  When I post, the only people on twitter who see that post are my followers.  When Huffpo or Holly repost or post my stuff, I'm instantly seen by 80 to 290 times as many people.

It's similar to sharing on Facebook, but unlike twitter, it's really hard to tell how many people actually saw the posts.  The NT parent one got shared a lot.  The Letter didn't get as much play.

This goes to show that I really have no idea what stories will really strike a chord with people and what they will enjoy but not share.  It's like the time I told Leslie that "Dancing with the Stars" would be canceled during the first season.  

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That's all for now.  I'm going to try to make a point of posting more frequently.  That may mean that the stories I post are less touching or poignant or autism-driven or whatever...maybe it'll be a story about how I went to the grocery store and they were out of butter lettuce so I had to use bibb instead...I don't know.  I'm just going to make my posts more frequent so they seem more current and timely and anchored "in the now".