Friday, December 29, 2006

Writing Resolutions

What are your writing resolutions for 2007? Mine? Match up with an agent who believes in my ability as a writer, is captivated by Kat Cavicchio's strong voice and who feels the love for my story. Then sell my book to a publishing house. I don't expect an agent to carry my water. I'm eager to work to sell my book. I'm also working on my second book, three chapters in to date.

I have fallen in the love with the entire process of writing, querying (I know, I'm odd) and can't wait to graduate to the next steps. I love learning about the industry. Having kids with such major issues has made me thick skinned when it comes to life's daily rejections and roadblocks. Once you've seen your six year old with two broken bones and no speech to be able to tell you she is in agony there isn't a rejection letter in the world that can really bother you.

Here's my attitude. I gave birth to my children. I did not give birth to my MS. Sure, I wrote it. But I am willing and able to edit it into its best form. That doesn't mean I'll fiddle with my core meaning or change a character away from what I think he or she needs to be. But embellishments? Clarifications? Tweaks? When I get that input from an agent I want to kiss him. It's like having Julia Child whisper in your ear "A pinch of salt and how about adding a touch of sherry?" I won't revise to the degree of "change your stock from chicken to beef" though.

Good luck to all the writers I've met in 2006. Whether you're established or debuting your first book or even just finishing your MS. Enjoy and happy writing.

"See you on the bookshelves!"


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dorkasaurus Rex

I know, I know. I'm a complete dork. My husband got one of these from the President of his company and I just roared. Couldn't resist. It may be the only photo of me you see, until my book comes out.

Have a laugh on me......

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

To The Generous Ho Ho Hunk At Starbucks

Ah, the Christmas spirit! I was at Starbucks on The Cape on 12/24 when the handsome, impeccably dressed man in front of me and I picked up a pack of Starbucks coffee cup tree ornaments at the same time. We looked at each other and I said "Is it just wrong to put coffee cups on my tree?" He laughed and said "I'll buy them if you buy them." We made a deal. Then I remembered that I had my husband's Starbuck's card, not cash. So I put the $13 ornaments down, not sure how much cash was loaded into the card and explained my situation. Well dressed hunk picked up the second package and said, "Well, I can put one on my tree in Boston and one on my tree on the Cape." We each paid for our coffee and then he handed me a pack of the ornaments. "Merry Christmas" he said with a smile. I thanked him and left Starbucks with a skinny Gingerbread no whip latte, two lovely ornaments and a dose of Christmas cheer.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Eat your heart out Betty Crocker

I am pretty darn proud of myself. How about a batch of gluten free, casein free (no wheat, no dairy) sugar cookies shaped like MANATEES? Oh yeah! I found a Manatee cookie cutter last summer. My middle daughter adores all things aquatic. I'm furiously baking and cooking their foods so that I have treats for their holiday parties and goodies to take to GrandMa and Grandpa's and Nana's over the holiday. My kids are on the "autism diet" which means no wheat, oats, rye or dairy of any sort. Like most parents whose kids are on the diet, I make most of their meals from scratch. Including baked goods. Although today I used a mix from Cherrybrook Farms. Pretty good! I plan to make brownie trees for school. I made a batch of brownies in a round pan. Then you cut "slices" and add a rectangle cookie glued to the bottom for a trunk. I don't decorate since we use no artificial colors. Red and yellow dyes can make kids NUTS -- cause major behavior issues. Our trees will look like they just came out of a forest fire, being brownie and all. But the girls will gobble them up anyway.

Happy baking to all of you! If you have any ideas do share!
12/22/06: CONVICTED


Cry for these children. Shake your head. Shake your fists at the sky. I can name twenty people off the top of my head who could have taken these 11 kids and tackled their behavior problems from top to bottom without resorting to CAGING THEM!

Here is the article below and the link:

Jurors must decide if some of 11 special needs children were forced to sleep in cages for their own protection or because their adoptive parents were cruel.

Jurors in the trial of the parents, Sharen and Michael Gravelle, started day two of deliberations Wednesday morning. They got the case late Tuesday afternoon.
The Gravelles each face eight misdemeanor counts of child abuse, eight felony counts of child endangering and eight misdemeanor counts of child endangering.
A verdict is expected today and will bring you the verdict live, so be sure to check back often.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours Tuesday before going home for the night.

"Who are you going to believe?" defense attorney Ken Myers asked jurors during closing statements. He said the size of the cages and the number of children who slept in them were exaggerated by authorities investigating the Gravelles.

"They want to paint them like they're the worst parents in the history of the world," he said.
Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said the cages amounted to cruel treatment.

"They are living like animals in these cages," Leffler told the jurors in his final statement.
Attorney Richard Drucker, representing Michael Gravelle, told the jury there had been no evidence of physical harm to any of the 11 children and only general allegations of abusive treatment during the three-week trial.

"I submit to you that these so-called cages were bunk beds that were enclosed," Drucker said.
The Gravelles tried to create a loving home environment, he said. "They loved their children," Drucker said.

Leffler said although the youngsters were difficult, "it doesn't mean you put children in cages or boxes."

The endangering charges against the Gravelles accuse the couple of putting some of their children at a substantial risk of harming their mental health.
The Gravelles face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each felony count if convicted.

The children, who suffered from problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items, ranged in age from 1 to 14 when authorities removed them in September 2005 from the Gravelle home in rural Wakeman, about 60 miles west of Cleveland. The youngsters were placed in foster care last fall and the couple lost custody in March.
The case began when a county social worker visited the home after a complaint and likened the red and blue cages to kennels. In the trial, that social worker testified that the cages reminded her of slave quarters.

In his closing argument, Leffler said the Gravelles were bad parents and should be convicted.
"They were cruel to children," he said. "The Gravelles aren't good parents. They never have been."
Myers, who represents Sharen Gravelle, told jurors the couple had worked under difficult circumstances to provide a loving family. The enclosures were used because of the children's intolerable behavior, he said.

"They were urinating and defecating all over the house," he said. The children's nighttime wandering and other bad behavior improved after the enclosed beds were used, Myers said.
Myers challenged the credibility of prosecution witnesses, including some of the children.
One child, Myers said, "was just angry at the world." And another claimed without supporting evidence from anyone else that he had been banished to sleep in a bathtub for much of a 2 1/2-year period.

Some children testified about their sadness over missing the only family they ever knew, at points moving jurors to tears. The Gravelles also cried when an adopted daughter testified that she missed her parents and still loved them.
Myers asked the jury to acquit the Gravelles and "send a message it is time for this charade to end."

Judge Earl R. McGimpsey told jurors they must not take into account that the Gravelles did not testify at their trial.
Holiday Gifts for Teachers

I read an article yesterday that a district is setting a limit of $50 for the entire year for a family's gifts to a teacher. Do you give gifts to your kids teachers? How many gifts does that entail? Some years a savior of a class mom will send home a note asking for a donation toward a class gift. Sign me up for that. When did extensive gift giving start? Holiday gifts, end of year gifts. How many apple shaped Christmas ornaments can one teacher stand?

My kids have a SPED teacher and an aide, regular ed teacher and that classroom aide plus multiple therapists. The list gets long! Some years I've been able to do something for 15, 20 people. Other years? Finances mean I have to get creative.

I'd love to give everyone who works with my girls a million bucks. (That's what several quiet hours in an empty house is worth.) Everyone on the girls' teams is dedicated, devoted, well trained and highly capable. We're very fortunate to be in our district in CT where autism programming is strong.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

SCRUMMY CHOCOLATE TINSEL! Does that make me a "Scrummy Mummy?"

That's the name generated for me on this silly holiday link. Type in your name and it gives you a holiday name.

Go ahead, click it and find out your own holiday name. Mine is perfect. I got into a scrum on an autism list last night, I live on chocolate and who doesn't love tinsel? So run your name and let me know what it is!

(PS) I just ran my husband's name: "Chocolate Cracker" it's a Brit site - so do you suppose they mean the lovely Christmas crackers that you pull open to reveal a toy or the American racist term for White Man??? Mark IS a white man. And I can pull certain parts to reveal a toy. Tres interesant. My girls are A) Chocolate Cracker (must be the M in the first name), B) Fuzzy Chocolate Bum -- TOO appropriate as she never ever wipes well, and C) Fuzzy Chocolate Pixie for my sweet 6 year old who has the face of a beautiful pixie. HA!
"Blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch, who watches over you?" This is a line from a nifty little song by They Might Be Giants.

Last night I had a rough time after reading two articles about autism that just destroyed me for a while. I was still a little loopy from it all today.

And now Sirius (God, I love satellite radio) is playing this song. Mark and I used to sing this to each other when we were dating in that dorky "Oh why not sing a silly song, we're young in love" kind of way back in 1990. Mark is my Blue Canary in the outlet. (Get your mind out of the gutter please.) He watches over me. And his girls. We watch over him. And now, just hearing the song makes me feel cheery and much better.

"Not to put too fine a point on it. Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet. Make a little birdhouse in your soul."


Monday, December 11, 2006

Does "OKU" mean good in Japanese?*

I gotta ask. Got a catalog in the mail today. I shop online and get a lot of catalogs, since dragging my kids to the mall often leads to escalating blood pressure for all concerned. Along with my two rejections, I got a catalog today called "Catalog Favorites."

A hodge podge of items from various catalogs, thus the catchy name. Average looking stuff, a lot of junk. I'm turning pages loaded acrylic toilet seats with embedded sea shells (in case you want to shit the oyster bed), T-shirts decorated with bon mots such as "Nobody listens to me until I fart" and a delightful soap and bath towel set where half is white and says "FACE" and the other half is brown and says "BUTT." The perfect gift for your buttfaced brother in law, yes?

None of this concerns me in the least. And then I turned to page 25. And there, on the lower right hand corner is a vibrator. Yes, a vibrator. Oh sure they call it a "massager" but we've all seen the Sex and the City episode where Samantha returns her "neck massager" to Sharper Image. It's a vibrator people. Called "The Fabulous Fukuoku." Which I read as "fuk-u-oku" leading me to my question, "Does Oku mean good in Japanese? It's a Johnson shaped tip that sits on your finger. Well, actually its three of them, with varying stimulation tips. If only men were so versatile! "This go anywhere massager arrives in its own zippered carrying pouch." Handy! But will it get past security at the airport?

I plunged deeper into the catalog. Plage 46? Another vibrator! Called "The Liberte!" Well, Merci Beaucoup! A whole new way to get doinked by the French! Copy reads: "Designed by women, for women." 'Cause our necks are shaped different from men? And then on page 47? A KEGEL exerciser with a photograph that shows enough skin to terrify me.

From that point on, all the Kokopelli necklaces in the world couldn't make me feel safe opening that catalog again. I couldn't even enjoy the sparkly red, sequined baseball cap or the Bibleopoly game.That's it. I'm calling them to get off their mailing list. Hmmm, now where's my credit card?*

*reposted upon request

OH DEAR GOD. I, ahem, did some research on the Fukuoku to learn its provenance and found this horror: It's the Fukuoku glove! I am a writer and research is important, especially as romantica grows as a category. I don't write romantica or erotica, but can't hurt to have the info, right? And don't you know it's at a store in Cleveland that used to advertise like crazy with the owner, a lovely woman, doing all the ads. It looks like a Freddy Krueger prop in a porn flick. Thick black plastic fingers! MUST WASH EYES OUT!!! I can't even type this in full size. Ewwwww!

"This truly revolutionary glove will change the way you experience massage. (Major creepy alert!) Each fingertip has a vibrating panel that emits 9,000 vibrations per minute at full speed. (Note to user, call dentist to repair your mouthful of chipped teeth on Monday morning.)

The entire glove is waterproof and completely immersible! (in case you want to drown yourself while using the glove??) The battery compartment is located in a pouch at the base of the glove. Hand-washable with soap and water, the Fukuoku Glove can be used with your favorite massage oil or gel. Please choose left or right hand. (What, no ambidextrous for the ambi-tious?) Requires 3 AAA batteries, which are included! (Well, can't say they are stingy.)
This Deirdre Imus' Letter To The Editor of Newsweek. It's a follow up to the article Newsweek ran two weeks ago about the freight train bearing down on many of us -- called "my children are getting older." On behalf of my three beautiful daughters with autism, all I can say is "thank you" to Deirdre Imus for keeping my story, my kids story and the story of 1 in 166 children born today, and diagnosed with autism by age 3.

Another Take on Autism

The glimpse into a world far too many people will be forced to acceptas they struggle with life as autistic adults. I commend NEWSWEEK for recognizing the human tidal wave of a maturing autistic population that will soon overwhelm not only emotional and financial resourcesof families, but Medicaid and state social-services budgets. While you illustrate some of the heartbreaking challenges parents facewhile caring for autistic children transitioning to adulthood, youoverlook what is at the heart of the autism debate. What has causedautism rates to grow so much in less than 20 years?

The idea that it's just better diagnosis is, to parents and supporters of theautistic community, like fingernails on the chalkboard. This epidemic is real and recent and cannot be explained by saying the diagnostic skills of doctors suddenly improved in the late 1990s or that amystery gene miraculously became active in hundreds of thousands ofchildren. A logical suggestion is that something changed in the1990s.

Perhaps the number of mercury-containing vaccines given tochildren tripled in the '90s and resulted in a toxic tipping point,causing these children to regress into a disorder we call autism.Your article was correct on one key observation, that it is families who are leading the way and becoming real experts on this disorder.They are still searching for answers that the medical community,government and media have failed to address with the urgency thisdisorder deserves.

The Combating Autism Act may provide some answers,but autistic children can't wait for the special-interest-laden windsof Congress to blow their way. Together, we can combat autism and perhaps save the next generation of our nation's most preciousresource: our children. Hard questions need to be asked about adisorder that is affecting so many and came on so suddenly.

The failure to honestly expose possible contributing causes warrantsserious examination and begs for further review by parents,professionals and journalists alike.

Deirdre ImusDeirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology atHackensack University Medical CenterHackensack, N.J.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

"C is for cookie"

Is there no limit to the ways to depress a writer who is trying to get her book published? I subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace, a site for the publishing community. It lists current deals, jobs, reviews, pages for agents, editors, writers. And agents can offer books to editors. It's an amazing place for a newbie like moi to troll about, dreaming of the day my name is there along with the words "A very nice deal."

But today there's an offering that made me do more of a "wha-hut?" than the announcement of the OJ book a few weeks ago. Some lovely person/famous chef has written a book about how to run multiple "cookie swaps" throughout the year. Yes, a book devoted to the cookie swap that isn't being sold by The Junior League or The Lutheran Women of St. John's in St. Cloud. A book touting a cookie swap EVERY MONTH! A cookie swap for all seasons. Can you imagine, in your worst nightmare, being invited to a bridal shower cookie swap? A month after you attended a Mother's Day cookie swap. Preceded by the Easter cookie swap. With a follow up July 4th cookie swap?

I don't mean to sound like I have a (chocolate) chip on my shoulder. I love to bake. But for Pete's sake. The whole idea makes me want to snickerdoodle in my pants.
Here's a link to my recent post on Huffington Post. It isn't political, or even related to autism (not directly anyway.) It's my complaint about the overwhelming amount of advertising by the pharmaceutical companies. I was watching a NICK channel with my kids and the ad for Happy Feet, the movie, was sponsored by "Know your Flu Facts." I think we should leave kids OUT of the advertising of pharmaceuticals. Just one woman's opinion.
I've been tagged: Top 5 holiday songs

My top five holiday songs:

1) Holly Jolly Christmas: Because my girls loves it and sing it a lot
2) Silent Night: The Stevie Nicks version. It makes me think of Mary and how she must have felt giving birth in the cold, dark night.
3) Baby It's Cold Outside: Reminds me of my father in law, whom I adored and still miss
4) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: Bruce's version. Because he's Bruce.
5) Joy to The World: Because we need more of it.

I tag Manic Mom, Trish's Dishes, This Is What I Do and Welcome To The Confessional.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Uh oh! Gianna has the hiccups!

For those of you who swing by who have kids with autism, you'll appreciate this. My 10 year old (Miss G) is walking around the kitchen saying "Uh oh! Gianna has the hiccups! Got to get some ice cold water!" And then she gets the water, drinks it and forces herself to have hiccups. Imitates hiccups! Very cool.

Miss G sounds like Bob Dole when she speaks. Always in the third person reflexive. She is a funny kid. My most verbal. The one who is sneaking up on typical fastest. Lord, I adore my Jiggy G. I love the other two -- don't get me wrong. But Miss G gives me those snapshots of typical I crave. The "This is how other parents live" moments that make me shake my head and say "Jiminy Cricket, that's so cool."

Thanks Jiggy G!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Very Viagra Christmas?

I've noticed an alarming holiday problem. Actually, two problems. The first is that many people now think that hideous (and now ubiquitous)inflatable decorations are the new bent over garden lady with the fat ass. I can spit from my house to an inflatable Tigger, several Santas and of course, the lowliest of travel souvenirs pumped up to startling proportions; the giant snowglobe.

The second problem is that most people turn off the air supply to these monstrosities during daylight. And this means their festivity goes all flaccid. Droopy decorations sit on every other lawn like grandpa's weenie after a hit of insulin and his statin drugs. It ain't pretty.

I actually miss the old retro plastic Santa pulling the sleigh with four reindeer (they never could fit all eight plus Rudy, could they?) Why? Hell, at least Santa stayed UP all day and night.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tuesday: I just learned about the death of a two year old boy who was killed in an horrific car accident while his Dad was driving the car. Dad and a one year old brother survived. This is someone in the publishing industry. Puts life in perspective fast, doesn't it? Say a prayer for a boy named Sam and his family, won't you?

On being a Mom -- extreme style.

All moms piss and moan about how difficult it is to raise kids. And yes, it is work for certain. Even if you have typical kids, there are ups and downs and days you want to run screaming onto the highway (or so I hear from the Moms of typical kids.)

There's a Mom that we see in Church to whom I'd like to tip my hat today. She has an adult son with cerebral palsy. He is in a wheelchair and appears to be completely dependent on her for physical assistance. I saw her getting him out of their custom van today - the sort with the elevator for the wheel chair. It appears to me that he is mentally 100%. He follows the Mass, takes Communion and his eyes take in everything around him. Never assume a disability means "stupid" or "unable to learn."

I kvetch on a regular basis about our trying days in the world of autism. Today, I looked at my three daughters in the pew and thanked God for them. And I said a prayer that the Mom a few pews over finds the strength she needs every day to care for her precious son.

Gifts and blessings come in all shapes and sizes, don't they?

Saturday, December 02, 2006


It happened again.... And I fear I am now homophonic. I was blogging merrily yesterday. All cheery and confident. Left two comments using the past tense of the verb to throw. Which would be? Threw. Easy. So why did I type "through" on both blogs like a poorly educated dingbat? I'm declining Latin nouns one minute and can barely spit out English the next.

By four now.