Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cleveland versus Connecticut

Cleveland wins. My writing friends know I'm trying to edit a final pass on my MS before it goes to Super Agent X. I need to give him the version that makes him get on one knee, whip out a rock and say "Marry me, Kimberly and we'll honeymoon on the NYT best seller's list."

So why the Cleveland Connection? (That's a nod to Les Roberts, mystery writer from Cleveland, whose "Milan Javovich series is a favorite of mine.) Because Clevelanders are not snow 'fraidy cats! They trudge to school in blizzards and love it. We had 4 inches of snow yesterday in the Nutmeg State and no school. Today? No snow that I can see, maybe slick roads? 90 minute delay. That's 90 minutes I am not editing. After last week's winter break - give me a break!!

I lived in Cleveland twice. Four years there. Off to Bucks County for four years. Then back to Cleveland for six years. The got snowballs there. God love 'em.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stupid, stupid school nurse. OK, maybe just unthinking.

Remember the school nurse? The nice lady who held onto the Bandaids and wiped scrapes from when you fell underneath the old open centered merry go round on the playground? Oh, you managed to hang on? I fell off. Anyway, today's school nurse is a far cry from the old days. Today she has to lock up dozens on high powered prescription drugs for her young students. And manage intense behaviors. Often she helps with toileting issues too. She's a busy lady with a serious job. Sometimes she's a complete putz too. Or too busy to think about what she's doing.

Got an email on a Yahoo group I run. Do not wish you were a member. Trust me. It's a lovely group. You don't WANT to be a member of this particular club. Sorry, I'm rambling. Long week plus a snowday. I good man on this list has a young son on the autism spectrum. He gets a note from school today. "Albert (not the boy's name) did not pass his vision test. Call your pediatrician immediately." And Dad, who is a great guy. Funny. Devoted. Energetic. Handsome (I've seen his photo.) Loving husband. And Dad extraordinaire emails the group, VERY WORRIED.

Like rifle shots - many of us old timers fired back responses. Here's one of the little ironies of autism. The child probably has perfect eyesight. However, since he CAN NOT SAY "The E is turned to the left. That row has a star, a duck, a moo cow and a pig." HE FLUNKED the test. The vision test requires verbal skills. Like most IQ tests. So the child who can not speak or speaks very little "flunks."

My Miss M flunked her eye test too. As I told Worried Dad, Miss M can spot the anus on the duck from two miles away. She just can't say "I see the duck's anus and the duck has worms, four of them." So Miss M FAILS. I also had pediatrician tell me "I can't test her hearing. She can't speak." You see, the child has to indicate when she hears the "beep" in the headphones. So we had so devote a DAY to going to a Children's Hospital to take a hearing exam in the chamber where the child just has to turn in one direction according to where she hears the sound. Probably cost thousands in insurance coverage.

That school nurse should have sent a personal note to Dad. Explaining why she couldn't test Albert. He deserved a lot better than "He didn't pass his eye test."
Careful or You'll End Up In My Novel T-shirt

Looking for that T-shirt Patricia Wood is wearing over at www.pkwood.blogspot.com? Click the Signals catalog link below and happy ordering.


Friday, February 23, 2007

IS THERE NO GOD? First winter break and now a Snow day!! Monday, February 26. And judging by the tombs found in Israel, purported to be the remains of Jesus and his family maybe my question isn't so crazy?


My kids had February break this week. And my husband a four day business trip - natch. He's no dummy. The kids and I have had some fun, played games, practiced school work, did errands, had a play date with a friend and a cousin and baked some goodies. A good week. However...


I got back my critique from Bev Katz Rosenbaum's wonderful service. And I'm ready to get editing. The ideas are splurbling away in my head, I've artfully recast a character, moved the "big guy" further up in the story, have plans for GrandMarie and NEED TO GET THEM OUT OF MY BRAIN INTO THE STORY!

Alas, I really really really really can not edit when the kids are around. I can blog. I can email. I can chit chat with my pal Maureen in Cleveland. But I just can't edit. Nor can I stay up and focused past 10:00pm. So, if Miss Peanut goes to bed by 8:30pm I tidy up the downstairs, shower, put on my jammies and say "I'm too fried to edit."

Monday can't come fast enough! Got to run, there's my doorbell. The "mother of the year" folks are on my front step. Must be looking for directions to the real winner's house.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

We interrupt this blog for breaking news!!!!!

The judge is going to award Anna Nicole Smith's decomposing body to one party or the other a day early! Who will it be? Her estranged Mom? Howard K. Stern? The pool boy?????

I'm not sure the white puff of smoke in Rome two years ago got this much coverage. Revolting.

For God's sake, let the poor woman rest in peace.
Oprah and Ellen

Can anyone tell me why it's big news that Oprah is appearing on the Ellen show today? Why is it a headline on my Boston news website? I don't watch either show - daytime is writing time, cleaning time and post 3:00pm kid time. So what's the big deal? And no, I don't think for a minute Oprah is using the Ellen show to come out of the closet. I neither know nor care if she even IS in the closet.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?! (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)

Today is Ash Wednesday for Christians, the start of Lent. Lent is the period leading up to Easter. It's a time of reflection, penance, prayer, thinking about yourself and world you live in. Today I'd rather not think about the world my girls with autism will grow up in. Here's why in an excerpt and the link from Barbara Fischkin's post on Huffington.

"A 13-year-old boy with autism died after police say two care workers for the disabled drove him around for 90 minutes - errands, buying beverages and shopping - when he stopped breathing in their van."


I am going to get to Church today for Ashes. My husband is traveling and it's a hassle to go with the three kids by myself. I'll manage. I need to go to pray for Jonathan Carey a slender, 13 year old boy whose family is asking God today and every day for the rest of their lives, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani" for their son. A boy who didn't deserve to die in a van after a trip to the mall.

You can visit Barbara's website at www.barbarafischkin.com. She's a fiction writer who can entertain the heck out of you too, not just make you burst into tears.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Writing Update

I think I can see the summit... Well at least the next peak in the series of mountains you have to climb to become a published author. I've edited my MS (manuscript) with Super Agent X's input. I really liked the result. Then I had the eagle editing eye of author and former Harlequin editor Bev Katz Rosenbaum go through the MS. I hired Bev. I don't know her personally except through a large writer's list I'm on. She is the author two fun YA books called "I Was a Teenage Popsicle" and it's sequel "Beyond Cool." You can see her site (and learn about her professional critique service at www.bevkatzrosenbaum.com.)

I just got Bev's 14 page report today. She and Super Agent X must have been separated at birth. And here's why I'm just starting to allow myself to hope that this book is actually going to hit the shelves. Her edits mirror Super Agent's X's - taking them a step further. Their edits make the MS structurally sound (read sellable to an editor) but don't change my intent for the story, the voice or the characters as the author. That's why I've agreed so readily to the edit advice. Not because I'm a sycophant, but that I can SEE with my two myopic eyes how their comments make the book BETTER.

Now it's winter break here in New England so my girls are home for the week. That means limited editing time. Or unlimited ignoring them. No, no - I won't.

I'll let you know what Super Agent X thinks when I get the MS back to him. I hope we're "go" but I assume nothing. NADA. Bupkus, Zilch..... But maybe...........

Friday, February 16, 2007

I wrote a piece that is on Huffington today. I ask a simple question. For all the talk of the ever increasing rates of autism, why so few people willing to ask "why?" Simple question. Complex answer? I'm exhausted.



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Example of an Autism Misunderstanding

This morning my Miss M experienced a classic autism misunderstanding. It hurt her. It made her angry. It frustrated her. Oh, and it was MY fault.

Many traditional (read most) autism "specialists" including most doctors think of autism as a behavioral disorder. That's why it has a 299.0 behavioral insurance code and gets NO insurance coverage. Anyway, docs and teachers and specialists tend to want to use conditioning (negative or positive reinforcement) to work with our kids. Sometimes that's absolutely the right thing to do. When the "behavior" is really behavioral. Sometimes,with kids who can't speak, the behavior is nothing of the sort. It's a child saying "I am in pain!" Example?

This morning, in 20 degree icy weather, Miss M kept trying to kick off her snow boots. Not cool if you'll pardon the pun. Did I yell at her? Well, uh, actually I did. "Keep your boots on!" She kept trying to kick them off. So I sat her down and pulled of the boot. There, at the toe, was the huge wad of paper stuffing. I had forgotten to pull it out. So she was in PAIN and uncomfortable and she told me the only way she knew how. By taking off the boot. This is so damn common in our kids. Even the ones who can speak. Miss M can speak in short sentences. But it didn't occur to her to say to me "Help please. Boo boo." How terrible did that make both of us feel?

Kids on the spectrum often experience pain that the old fashioned, not up to speed autism treatment protocol assumes is just bad behavior. They suggest high powered drugs to calm (sedate) the kids. There's a perk eh? They use negative/aversive therapy. They are idiots. Can you imagine telling a cancer patient who is in stomach pain "Sit up straight and I'll give you a Skittle!" That is just how preposterous many autism schools and professionals think.

By the way, Miss M. said to me after I pulled out the wad of paper: "All better." If only I could make it so.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Making Sunday Gravy On Wednesday?

Yes I am. I have a giant pot of gravy boiling away on the stove. Not gravy for biscuits or roast beef, spaghetti sauce. And now, on Sirius Dean Martin's "That's Amore" is playing. Joy. I spoke with a friend in Cleveland this morning (she's drowning in snow) and she said "You're making Sunday gravy on Wednesday?" She didn't grow up in Boston - anyone remember the old Prince Spaghetti ads "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day" as Mama hung out the window calling "Anthonyyyyyyyyyy!" and he sprinted home for dinner. Or supper as my Mom called it.

I went through a phase where I didn't like being Italian American. I went to a preppy preppy prep school and always felt sort of excluded. No one made me felt that way - it was an adolescent wanting to fit it thing. My friends were Cabots and Putnams and Pratts and Episcopalians and white bread. My my folks picked me up at my dorm in a '76 black Cadillac Coupe DeVille we had named TONY. I knew what Bracciole was. The shame.

Now, as a full fledged grown up I adore my Italian heritage. And my Irish. And my bit of Venezuelan. I cook. I drink. AND I have a temper. What a gal!

So yes, I'm cooking away on this snow day. Listening to Dean and Frank, remembering my grandmother, my father in law (whose recipe for gravy I use) and my old great aunts who plied me with food as a kid. I always think of Auntie Angie when I eat a non-pareil. Weird what you remember.

And my childhood and memories help my writing. Add flavor I guess.

It's good to be comfortable in your own skin. Olive or not.
Blogged Down

I can't figure out how to get my OLD profile into my new beta blogger version. My old showed I started the blog in 9/06 and had over 1000 views. My new used my ancient screen name from 5/06 and shows 6 profile views. Anyone know how I can fix that so I go back to my old profile. I goofed in that my blogger usernames were really close.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Recovered. Sort of.

So yesterday I was in the edit zone. Tippy tippy typey! I added a few doses of GCD (goal, conflict, disaster) and amused myself greatly with tormenting my protag. Then smash, bam alakazaam! I lost my MS. Suddenly I was working in "recovery mode." WTFFFFFFFFF!

I didn't panic (unless you count a heart rate the speed of a hummingbird's as panic) and I saved the doc. Added a lot more edits. Saved again. Logged off the computer.

Today I went back into the doc and NONE OF MY FABULOUS EDITS WERE THERE! OK, I panicked. Sure I could recreate them. But I didn't want to and I knew they wouldn't have that fresh "Eureka" kick of yesterday. I edited further on the current doc.

Feeling stupid (my natural state as a new writer) but determined, I looked at ALL my Word docs. And there was one with just my first sentence.... "At the crack of dawn my nine year old niece decided to forego the toilet and poop in her pants." Well, helllooooooooo! There was my doc with all the edits from yesterday. I merged today's edits with yesterday's and now have one finished MS! HOORAY!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

OK, six weird things about me:

1) I often think in Ubbi Dubbi, Dubboo Yuboo?
2) I taught aerobics for 15+ years wearing leg warmers, skinny belts and yes, a thong leotard.
3) I went to a New England boarding school where I wore hot pink wide wale cords (yack!)
4) I grew up a mile away from a now defunct heavy metals plant that is an EPA superfund site and is also under the auspices of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (weird or tragic?)
5) I listen to Howard Stern all morning and then the Singers and Standards (075) channel with Frank Sinatra and Rosie Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald all afternoon on Sirius Satellite radio.
6) I chose a CURE song for my wedding dance. "Love Cat" because my husband had nicknamed me Toonces after the car crashing cat on SNL.
7) For good measure. I had three labors and deliveries without so much as a Tylenol for pain. I didn't want to put any chemicals into my babies and potentially harm them. Guess the laugh is on me.

I am tagging Full-Soul-Ahead at www.michelleoneilwrites.blogspot.com and Matt Man at www.bagwine.blogspot.com.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

36 vaccines by age six in 2007 versus 10 by age 4 in 1983....

Want to raise a ruckus? Utter the words "Autism and Vaccines" in the same sentence at your pediatrician's office. Want to raise your blood pressure? Read EVIDENCE OF HARM by David Kirby.

OK, I'll let you think about this. Below is the recommended vaccination schedule for babies born in 2007 versus babies born in 1983. Each vaccine is tested individually for safety. The vaccines are not tested as a sum introduction to developing immune systems over a period of mere months. Too much water will screw up your system. You'd never take a Tylenol with a Motrin and an aspirin, although on their own, each pill works well.

How about too many vaccines? Autism rates are now at 1 in 150 from 1 in 10,000 a few decades ago. And don't forget peanut allergies, asthma, ADHD, severe mental illness like 5 year olds with bi-polar have risen dramatically too.

Is the sum of the whole more dangerous than the parts? I don't claim to know. I just know we have to ask. Even if the pediatrician turns white and passes out on his floor.

This is the vaccine name followed by the age (in months) by which it is recommended. Here's a link to CDC for 2007 vaccines - which now includes HPV, but that's not until age nine. You know, when your daughter starts having unsafe sex....


USA 2007: 36 vaccines before age 6

Influenza (prenatal)
Hep B (birth)
Hep B (1)
DTaP (2)
Hib (2)
IPV (2)
PCV (2)
Rotavirus (2)
Hep B (4)
DTaP (4)
Hib (4)
IPV (4)
PCV (4)
Rotavirus (4)
Hep B (6)
DTaP (6)
Hib (6)
IPV (6)
PCV (6)
Influenza (6)
Rotavirus (6)
Hib (12)
MMR (12)
Varicella (12)
PCV (12)
Hep A (12)
DTaP (15)
Hep A (18)
Influenza (18)
Influenza (30)
Influenza (42)
MMR (48)
DTaP (48)
IPV (48)
Influenza (54)
Influenza (66)

USA 1983: 10 vaccines by age 4

DTP (2)
OPV (2)
DTP (4)
OPV (4)
DTP (6)
MMR (15)
DTP (18)
OPV (18)
DTP (48)
OPV (48)

Friday, February 09, 2007


Good evening. May I suggest a visit to Pat Wood's Blog? Read about her amazing new novel called "Lottery." You'll want to preorder this one on Amazon. And mark 8/2, the release date, on your calendar. Lottery will be a best seller. I wouldn't be surprised if it's made into a movie. Someone will win an Oscar for portraying Perry L. Crandall.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Has Died!
Oh, and the CDC reports that autism rates are now 1 in 150 kids, a change from 1 in 166 kids previously quoted. And a bit of a departure from the 1 in 10,000 a mere two decades ago. But really,it's just better diagnosis. Didn't your Mom have a dozen friends with kids who couldn't speak? Kids who need an aide in to sit in a regular classroom? Kids who were brilliant but struggled to fit into the social structure? Well? She must have if this is just a matter of better diagnosis. Who knew pediatricians were so stupid 30 years ago?
A coldy but goodie.

What a lovely morning, temperature notwithstanding. Hey, SV Orion, it's fifteen degrees here in New England! No complaining about hitting the high 60's in Hawaii.

Miss Peanut can now feed herself and entire bowl of cold cereal for breakfast! And most of the Perky O's get into her mouth. A combination of getting into a school district with real ABA and intense biomedical treatments at home are really moving her along. We added feeding to her IEP only 3 months ago and she has mastered the goal! I love that "M" on an IEP!

Miss M said a very appropriate "good morning" to me today. She used several words at breakfast. And last night she was playing a game on the computer at warp speed, very with-it and sharp.

Jiggy G has been a joy. "It's time for school. Time to learn to read and write and have some fun."
And now all three are on the bus or at school. And the coffee is hot. Aaaaahhhhhh.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I'm as busy as a bee editing my MS per the direction of Super Agent X. Still enjoying every minute. I love that his suggestions are like a road map of tricks. Tricks that make my writing better, get rid of some of the pathetic newbie errors that littered the MS. I must be on the right track, but darn if I didn't take WAY too many side trips. Kristin Nelson talked about heading off on tangent in your MS - how loving a clever passage (or chapter...) can get in the way of the story. I get it! I get it! I am woefully red faced over some of my writerly wrongs. I can hear his exasperated sighs in some of his edit comments and I blurt out "I'm sorry! I see your point!" as I hit delete and rework a passage. But I'm a quick study if nothing else. I can make the edits the MS needs. I just needed someone to point the way. I still keep looking up and asking the Good Lord why this agent has scooped me unofficially into his fold.

How much fun is it to watch your work get better? To inch toward that magic sentence from an agent? "I can sell this."

A lot of fun.

Monday, February 05, 2007


It's 8:35am on a Monday morning and I've already had a visit from the police. Had I known they'd be stopping by I'd have popped into the ubiquitous Dunkin Donuts, there's one every 1/4 mile in New England. So why did my town's finest stop by?

BECAUSE AN IDIOT BLEW PAST MY KIDS' SCHOOL BUS AGAIN! And I got his plate number. So, to you, Mr. CT blue Explorer (or something like it) with the 3%9O*U plate, (I figure I shouldn't give out his tag number) your phone is about to ring.

I've blogged a couple of times about our near misses with the school bus. I repeat. My girls have autism. They ride the short bus to school. It's easier for them. I live on a very busy street. The bus can not pull into the driveway by law. So I take a moment to put Miss Peanut's seatbelt on each day. Then Miss G has to get settled next to her. She can't sit until I'm done with Peanut. I rush, believe me. I know there are cars stacking up behind us like a Girls Gone Wild gang bang queue. I jump off the darn bus as fast as I can, wave to everyone thanks. Hell, I'd hand out coffee if they'd be patient.

So today, Mr. Blue Explorer Jerk can't wait another second. And he pulls from behind the bus, AROUND the bus into the on-coming traffic lane. I'm sure he checked that there was no traffic coming - but still the potential for an accident, where the bus gets walloped is pretty high.

So I called the police and filed a report. The second police report related to this address and the school bus. In October a car came up behind the bus too fast, slammed on his breaks, slid into my yard and narrowly avoided rear ending the CRUISER that just happened to be behind the bus. Sometimes the Good Lord is looking out for you. I hope he is always looking out for my kids.

7:30pm: The police called me this afternoon. I had the plate and make right. They couldn't find a phone number for the SUV owner. So they SENT A POLICE OFFICER TO HER HOUSE. The SUV owner's fiance dropped her off at work at the assisted living center across the street and HE was driving her car when he pulled around the bus. Could be one cancelled wedding soon. "You what? You pulled around a short bus? What kind of man ARE you?"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mentor versus Tormentor

What makes a person want to become a mentor? This question popped into my mind today as I was breading cutlets for dinner. An online friend got a big fat smackdown from someone who is in a position to be a mentor - or at least a human to her. Didn't happen. The person chose to be a TORmentor. Why? And by mentor I don't mean the people who climb up on mount holier than thou and make proclamations about the right and wrong way to do things, as if God had spoken to them late one night. Tell it to a burning bush pal.

I'm dwelling in two worlds primarily these days. The first is the autism world where I am pretty darn knowledgeable, having logged over 300,000 heart and hands-on autism hours with my own kids. My second sphere is the writer's world where I am a painfully green newbie. I try to mentor parents in the autism world. And I crave and revere the advice I've been given by several wonderful mentoring writers.

So, I ask you. What makes a person a mentor versus a tormentor?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

This piggy Is NOT in her blanket.

Why am I blogging at 9:45pm when I should be reading my Ray Bradbury book, all snug in my bed, complete with my fantastique Garnet Hill Paris Percale down quilt cover pulled up to my chin? I'll tell you why. Because I am waiting for an emergency batch of gluten free, chemical free, casein free, soy free, dye free, nitrite free PIGS IN A GD BLANKET to bake.

Miss G's communication log today announced "Tomorrow we're having a superbowl party and we're making pigs in a blanket in social skills cooking class! Can G eat them?" NO SHE CAN'T!

I read that at 4:45pm. We had special ed CCD at 6:30pm. Dinner was ready at 5:00pm. So we scarfed down dinner. And then headed to Porricellis where I purchased a bag of Bob's Red Mill "GFCFSF what the hell is actually in the bag for $7.00?" wheat free/gluten free bread mix. And a pack of Applegate Farms natural hot dogs. Then we went to special ed CCD (Catechism for Catholic kids) where seven kids with autism learned about (insert eye roll here) SIN! Yes, that's right. The lovely, sweet woman who teaches the class taught them about sin. And then (insert teeth grinding here) after settling into class, she announced "We're going over to the church to look at the confessionals!" We Moms look at each other aghast. SHIT! We just got the kids settled! OK, coats on! It's not like they just jump into their coats. I got my kids coats on and dragged Peanut down the hall to toward the door as Miss M was clomping her way to the parking lot. STOP! I got her.

We trudged into the dark, scary huge church to look at the darker, scarier, tiny room with the sliding screened/fabric covered window where the priest takes confession. One bright little guy shouts "I'm scared!" Well, sure you are. And you know what little man, this confessional always scared the bejesus out of me too.

You can't just spring things on kids with autism. We parents need to prepare our kids. That might mean talking to them or drawing pictures or using prepared images called PECS in a social story. We survived. Although the Moms surely committed some sin under our breath while standing in the narthex. I think that's a churchy/architecture word. Narthex. Cool.

So we badalabooped BACK into the school to finish class. Sheesh. We got home at 7:40 and I set out a snack and start proofing yeast. Got Miss M showered, G put on her PJ's. Put the bread in the oven. Got Miss Peanut to bed. Fielded a call from a dear, dear friend whose son with autism broke out in hives tonight. Tried to send her a lifeline (have a cocktail) felt crappy that I didn't have much to offer. And here I am.

Wonderful Bedfellows

Autism has introduced me to some of the most powerful, smartest, dedicated people in the world. Need something accomplished? Ask an Autism Mom or an Autism Dad.

Please pop over to this post on Huffington written by a friend of mine (met her through autism) about her 19 year old son with a severe form of autism. 19 turns 20, then 21 and on and on. He's a grown man. And he's going to have a LOT of company in a few short years.


Today I'm thinking about a kid named Dan. Truly one in a million....... or is that millions?