Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wonderful Story of Books, Friendship, Human Kindness

I miss older adults. There was a real comfort in having grandparents, older aunts and uncles (my Dad married late in life and didn't have me until he was 40, so his brothers and sisters always seemed "old" to me.) I've just met a wonderful couple in town who are in their 80's. They've written a series of books, which I'll tell you about later. They fill a void for me. They are vibrant, intelligent, engaged, interesting and I haven't heard word one from them about aches, pains, fake body parts or doctors' advice.

Read this, I hope you'll feel good too:

From the NYT today: Stephanie Sandleben, a yoga instructor with tattoos on each shoulder, just finished Chapter 19 of Tina Brown’s biography of Princess Diana. Sara Nolan, a 28-year-old graduate student, is 30 pages into a Rumer Godden novel. Mark Kalinowsky, 48 and a real estate broker, has long since stopped reading; he just comes to chat.

These three disparate characters are part of a ragtag crew that cycles through the worn one-bedroom Murray Hill walk-up where Elizabeth Goodyear, who recently celebrated her 101st birthday, is confined, after two knee operations. A lifelong lover of books, Ms. Goodyear lost her sight about four years ago, but in its place has acquired something far more precious: a roster of readers who stop by regularly, bringing with them dogs, gifts from their international travels and offerings of dark chocolate, the elixir she has savored daily since she was 3.

Read the full story HERE.
Can my Creativity in the Kitchen Match Food Prices?

Dang, food is getting awfully expensive! And since we eat a lot of GFCF and organic foods, we're especially atuned to already crazy pricey foods getting ridiculously marked in the stores.

On Sunday I made eggplant parmagiana. Yum. One batch for Mark and me, one for the kids, GFCF. That means no parmagiana for them. So sad! It's an easy recipe, I just substituted crushed Rice Chex and seasonings with a shake of GFCF flour for Italian breadcrumbs. The kids gobbled it up. I'll have to make large batches and freeze them for quick meals.

Today I bought 3 Raw Food chocolate/coconut bars. They cost $1.99 each. That's crazy. I can't spend $6.00 on a snack for the kids. I got the bars home and checked out out the ingredients, most of which I have in the house. I whipped up a batch in my blender (note, do NOT add the agave syrup before the nuts are crushed!) and then transferred it to my stand mixer. They are chilling in the fridge at about a quarter of the cost. Here's the recipe, using my typically "exact" measurements. That means Helen Keller is as likely to make a fine batch of this treat as you or I.....

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw walnuts

1 cup raw unsweetened coconut NO SULFITES!

1/4 cup flax seed

Place in food processor or blender. Crush to near death.

Put into stand mixer bowl

Squirt in agave syrup to make the nutty mix stick together (not a lot!)

Add a ton of cocoa. A real ton.

Mix mix mix mix until it's a dark brown clump (appetizing, yes?)

Layout waxed paper. I LOVE waxed paper. I feel very June Cleaver when I use it. Parchment runs a close second. I hate Saran wrap - chemical dreck. Aluminum foil? Only for my hats.

Place blob of brown on waxed paper

Cover with another piece

Roll out to 1/2" thick with rolling pin

I use a technique called, "stomach trapping" to hold the paper in place. Lay the edge of the waxed paper over the counter, leaaaann into it with your gut to hold it in place while you roll the roller back and forth. Fantasize for a brief moment about who you would like to brain with the roller.




Use your savings to buy your favorite libation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Well I love that dirty water....

Oh, Boston you're my home! Click the video to listen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Harold Pollack on HuffPo:

"Two MS patients, one English, one American: Which One was Driven to Cut up his Pills, Lost his Home, and Went Bankrupt?"

Please click HERE to read a HuffPo post by Harold Pollack on the state of healthcare in America versus the civilized world...

Most of us are one catastrophic diagnosis away from ruin. Autism has already taken the Staglianos out - our financial goose is cooked. You want to join us? I hope you never do.

I'm working on a post myself, about a dear family friend who has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease) and is watching his world spiral away from him. I can't think straight when I sit down to write it yet. I want to cry. And scream. Another close friend's wife has breast cancer. Hundreds out of pocket a month for the meds. And come January? The deductibles kick in again.

Harold (with whom I have disagreed on autism topics, by the way) wrote a great piece. Read it, forward it, comment on it.


Americans deserve BETTER.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Surf Pal Postponed

The Surf Pal event has been postponed until tomorrow due to horrendous riptides off the coast of LI and elsewhere here in the NorthEast. (Three people are dead, three missing.) Shame - because we were really looking forward to the event.

The saddest part? No photos of me in the Cha Cha DeGregorio suit. But fear not! I am a creative woman. I was able to recreate how I would have looked at the event, taking into account my husband's comment that the suit made me look like a Tootsie Roll. (No, he will never live this down, I'm already ordering his tombstone to read "Mark Stagliano, who told his wife she looked like a Tootsie Roll in her swimsuit on July 25th 2008.") And the creep is right. We all have our "problem" areas in our figure. Mine is the two inches below my belly button and above never-you-mind. Those damn Steven's Bakery Whoopie Pies that I've taken to like a whale covets krill are taking their toll. I begged off them a month ago. I'm running. Hell, I've even taken two Jazzercise classes in an effort to look more like, hmmm, a Pixie Stick.

Anyway, here's a set of photos for you. Feel free to tell me just how ugly this suit really is. I'm giving it to Mia. My 13 year old. She'll wear it far better than I.

Here is the offending garment. Note Bella's look of pure disgust. "Mom, I mean really? What were you thinking?"

Here's the Cha Cha bottom. Note the pillow pouf over the edges, in a realistic rendition of my pasty white body spilling over the top.

This will give you an appreciation for what a closeout fabric looks like, as purchased by a low end bathing suit manufacturer.

Again, the pillow does not lie. This is pillow's fine, dead on accurate portrayal of how the top would have looked on me. Perhaps heavy on a feather or two. But damn close.

Ah! The only potential bright spot in my outfit. I had planned to wear my "John Elder Robison Free Range Aspergian" baseball cap. Alas, I fear the cap could never have competed with Cha Cha.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Mock"olate Mousse

My girls are on the GFCF diet - no wheat, no dairy. I make all of their meals, and I pack their snacks and lunches for school. Every day. Five days a week. Three kids. The math eludes me.

I'm always on the lookout for something new and improved. I worry about their fat intake, since their diets are so healthy and naturally low in fat. (They do get fish oil supplements from NordicNaturals.)

Yesterday I created "mock"olate mousse. It's quite yummy. The kids are struggling with the consistency - they are not creamy food kids. But I managed to get a serving into Mia and Gianna. Bella practiced her P's with it.....

When I cook, I follow my Grandma Yoli's lead. Toss it in, measure nothing, taste often, put it on a dish, eat it. Here's the basic recipe:

1 large can unsweetened pumpkin

1/3 bottle of agave syrup (this is a low glycemic, natural sweetener that tastes like sugar, pours like honey and doesn't add a particular "taste", just sweetening.)

1/4 container of unsweetened cocoa. (Check often to make sure the cocoa has hidden the pumpkin flavor. You'll need a lot.)

1 can of full fat coconut milk (make sure to buy a brand without sulfites. Thai Gourmet, the black and red can is excellent.)

pinch of salt

4 eggs

I add the eggs LAST so I can taste as I go, judging the sweetness and chocolateyness. I can't stand the thought of eating raw, slimy eggs....

Mix ingredients until smooth. Pour into 9 x 12 Pyrex dish. Place dish into a larger pan of water, so water comes halfway up the side of the dish. Place into preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until butter knife comes out clean from the center. Chill.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barbara_fisckinBarbara Fischkin on Michael Savage

From my friend Barbara Fischkin, on Huffington Post. Barbara's husband Jim Mulvaney runs Surf Pal. Their son Dan is 20 year old, handsome as the day is long and has autism. Please pop over to HuffPo to read the full, moving post and to comment: HERE.

If only it was true that the kids are mere brats and all we need is a visit from The Nanny. If you were right, then life would be monumentally easier for most of us.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Bought The World's Ugliest Bathing Suit and will wear it in public.

I'm a Sandy. Before the latex catsuit. Yesterday, I bought two bathing suits. Our new house has a pool in the backyard, so I needed a new suit or two. The real reason I bought the suits was so that I would have something relatively decent looking to wear to Surf Pal on Sunday. We're taking the kids surfing with this fabulous organization run by my friends, journalists and Huffington Post bloggers Barbara Fischkin and her husband Jim Mulvaney.

I bought two Tankinis. Not quite a one piece (which will ride up my butt on the beach) and not a bikini, which will ratchet up my paranoia meter to deadly proportions.
Tankini #1: Fiasco. Pretty on the hanger. Black and white tropical pattern. Decent in the dressing room for the 18 seconds I actually stood in front of the mirror under the fluorescent "you may view the body" lights. I wore it into the pool yesterday. First problem: it has an underwire bra. I think they are steel cables ripped off the Brooklyn Bridge. The bottom reads, "size M." It fits fine. The top (unbeknownst to me until I looked at it last night) reads "B/C." The only thing "BC" about me is my diploma from Boston College. I was an A student and that letter has stuck, if you get my drift.
Once in the pool, I discovered that the bottom is not well lined. I have one word for you. ITALIAN. Got it? And the wires are digging into my sternum. Then Mark says, "Um, that bathing suit isn't, um, um," (you can hear his internal dialogue, "Do I tell her it makes her look like a short stack from IHOP and incur her wrath or not?") I got the point, the four points of those damn wires. Wires but no padding? I don't think so. My bathing suits need to resemble pillows at the Ritz, thank you very much.
Tankini #2: Looks like I'm stuck wearing this bathing suit on Sunday. It's so freaking ugly I can't believe I was desperate enough to buy it. First off, it's brown with neon colored paisley all over it. It looks like what you'd see on the floor if you ate a bag of bright M&M's and then puked. The bottom has a ruffled skirty thing, a la Cha Cha DeGregorio from Grease. The top is OK - it's kind of an 80's straight across the top puckery thing (hides the invisible) with two straps that go behind your neck.
I'm sure I'll have photos from Surf Pals. I'll share them. Or burn them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do not yankelovich the autism community.

ABC News Go Tackles Savage Story

No, not the cannibal kind of Savage. The talk radio version. Michael "Savage" Weiner, conservative radio blatherer. Hey, this is America. He has a right to say whatever he wants. Often times, the worst speech starts a conversation that can lead to change. And that's a good thing.

He was on Larry King last night. Dug himself an even deeper hole, when he compared autism to asthma and the "inner city kids whose parents use asthma to get more welfare money." Doesn't that just give you whiplash?Say WHAT? African American kids have an epidemic of asthma, and Savage claims it's a way to de-fraud welfare? It's kind of hard to fake wheezing and shortness of breath for more than a few seconds. Even for a Benjamin or two....

Savage called autistic kids "frauds" and claimed we parents covet the label so we can get government checks. Yeah, that's right. Excuse me while I go check my mailbox and my bank account. (insert footstep sound here.) I'm back. Here's what they look like:

The strange thing is, Savage should be a friend to the autism community. He's knowledgable about the pharmaceutical industry's "pill'ing" (I made up that word) of America. He's against the government telling us what to do. He's into holistic medicine. One visit with my gorgeous girls and I think he'd see we are not frauds. Unfortunately, he has so bitterly bashed the gay community in the past , that I can't find a way to reach out to him. No way, no how.

I'm quoted in THIS ABC News piece on the controversy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

BACKSPACE, The Writers Conference

Are you going to Backspace next month? If you're a writer, serious about your career and able to get into New York City for a couple of days, you should consider going. It also helps if you don't have three autistic children at home.... I'm not sure I can get away for the event. DANG!

I love Backspace. I met my agent at the author/agent mini-conference in the Fall of 2006. My very first HuffPo post had just been published and I had a copy in my sweaty little hands to show all the agents. "Look! I'm published!" LOL! I got these really cool banners from the Backspace board. I couldn't resist using all of them. They're fine, aren't they?

Girls! Girls! Girls!

We had a ball at Miss G's birthday party on Friday evening. You know your kids are getting older when the party starts at 5pm! Gianna has the most wonderful group of friends. These are all typical peers. Girls going into sixth grade. The pool is a great equalizer. If you can swim and splash and laugh, you're just one of the girls. What a great party. Miss G. was thrilled. I was even thrilled'er. Truly.


Autism Speaks' Mealy Mouthed Response to Michael Savage.

Sigh.... Short version since many of you aren't in the autism trenches: Talk Show host Michael Savage last week called children with autism, "idiots" and claimed autism is a fraud. Yup, all our kids are frauds. And Autism Speaks put a letter on their website where they say we should, "pity" Savage for his thoughts. Pity him? I think not. Anne Dachel wrote the piece below. She's our media editor at Age of Autism. I won't link you to the AS site. I'm not driving up their traffic.

Note: At 2:00pm this afternoon there will be a press conference at 111 Broadway, NYC, outside the offices of WOR 710, held by Autism United.

By Anne Dachel *

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage claimed that autism is "[a] fraud, a racket. ... I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' " Click HERE.

I can't express my anger at these words. The outrage is shared by many groups like NAA and others who truly advocate for our kids ... except Autism Speaks. This is what they had to say about Savage's comments:

"One important goal of increasing awareness about autism is to foster a greater level of acceptance and understanding of the very real and significant challenges it poses to individuals with the disorder and their families. The good news is that we see more and more expressions of this compassion every day and everywhere, from classrooms and playgrounds to ballparks and supermarkets. Unfortunately, there are those who are apparently incapable of feeling compassion. They deserve our pity, not our scorn."

No Autism Speaks, you are wrong. Michael Savage doesn't deserve our pity. He's dangerous. The world has to learn what has happened to a generation of children. News stories tell about affected kids being kicked off planes, banned from churches, voted out of kindergarten classes, and asked to leave restaurants.

Where is the outrage over such inhumane treatment of the disabled?

In a few short years, all the children with autism will be adults dependent on the taxpayers for their support and care. The bill will be tremendous and many will be unwilling to pay it.
Will our kids be seen as burdens or as victims?

Autism Speaks, you do not speak for our children. If you really cared about about affected kids, you'd express the same outrage felt by parents struggling each day with their disabled sons and daughters.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.

* Pab·lum

1. Trademark. a brand of soft, bland cereal for infants.

2. (lowercase) trite, naive, or simplistic ideas or writings; intellectual pap.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They're in the poooool!

Tomorrow we're having Gianna's birthday party. Our new house has a lovely (safely fenced) pool in the backyard. So, we're having a pool party. I sent about 15 invitations. I think I've gotten 5 RSVP's. I hear that's normal today. RSVP means, "please tell me if your child is coming so I can have enough food for everyone and not so much that it goes to waste." But PTMIYCICSICHEFFEBNSMTIGTW is a tad long.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mike_mcconnell_2Meet Mike McConnell of 700WLW radio in Cincinnati.

I've reprinted this from Age of Autism about a talk show host who suggests we take our autistic kids out of restaurants. And his listeners suggest we take them out of school and basically the world. What a putz. Tom Lewis, wrote this post, not I.

On his July 14 program, Cincinnati radio talk show host Mike McConnell (of AM powerhouse WLW) addressed the topic of autistic kids. Among other things, McConnell opines that parents with autistic children should immediately remove misbehaving children from restaurants so the remaining patrons can enjoy their meal. ("Misbehavior" apparently means anything from mild crying on up.)

As McConnell put it: "it boils down to one word: 'manners'."

Find the podcast for Mike McConnell's 7/14 broadcast HERE and listen to the end of hour 2 and throughout hour 3. About 10 minutes into hour 3, this clearly ignorant host begins to pontificate about how we should not have our kids mainstreamed into public schools. Also, many callers have disturbing insights. One even claims to have friends with an autistic child but chooses not to go out with them because the child’s behavior upsets him.

Every single day, there's a story somewhere about one of our kids being tossed out of a business, or a school, or a church. It's like being punk-slapped over and over and over again. Well, I think we need to start making it clear that we're not going away, and that we have rights too. And we have long memories. We won't forget those who have treated our children well, or those who have hurt them or turned them away.

Please tell this dolt how you feel about his comments. E-mail him at

McConnell's boss at WLW is Program Director Darryl Parks. Tell him what you think at

Finally, WLW is owned by Clear Channel. The head of Communications/Media Relations is Lisa Dollinger, who can be reached at

Tom Lewis is a Cincinnati, OH editor and writer with three children,
one of whom is on the spectrum.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I'm guest blogging at the writers grog (group blog) called The Debutante Ball today! Do come visit, won't you? Don't forget your white gloves!

Friday, July 11, 2008

What does a literary agent do?

I'm in the final leg of my novel's journey. Call it, "the pushing stage" for those of you who've had babies. Shortly, my agent will put it out on submission. If you'd have asked me three years ago, "what does a literary agent do?" I'd have answered, "He represents authors to sell their books to publishers." That would have been correct, but far too simplified.

My agent has ELEVATED my writing. The book I queried him with is not the book he is going to cast upon the publishing waters. It's so much better. Tighter. Funnier. Softer. Grabs you faster. Fits more snugly into a genre. And all of this, I hope and pray and beg and beseech the publishing gods, will make it sellable.

Eric has toiled with me on this manuscript. I've been wholly embarrassed at how much work he has put into it on my behalf. I'm new at this. I've thought, "Oh my God, am I SO horrible a writer that I need this much help?" And then I talk to my writer friends who assure me, "We all suck." LOL!

A good agent is a partner in your career and knows both publishing AND writing. If you think an agent is supposed to be your biggest cheerleader, I say, think again. Some of Eric's comment balloons have horrified me in their direct criticism. I can see the smoke coming out of his ears as he types, "WHAT were you thinking here? FIX IT!" If I were a crybaby, I'd have lost it once or twice during the process. Except-- he is always dead on right in his comments. And every change he has suggested has pushed me to become a better writer, so I can give YOU (my readers one day, I hope!) a fabulous book you won't want to put down.

I have a mother who can tell me I'm all that and a bag of chips. I have a husband who has vowed before God to tell me I am wonderful and beautiful and perfect just the way I am. My agent's job is to help me get my MS into shape so that he can do his job, which is to sell the book.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

(Ugh! Today is Friday. Sesame Street is about the letter "p!" Someone get me my umbrella ppppplease!)

My Angry Camel! Help an Autism Mom???

Ms. Davis has asked for a photo of Bella. There she is. Bella has a new trick. You see, she learned how to make the sound of the letter "p." When you and I make the sound of the letter "p" a gentle popping sound wafts from our mouths. "Puh!" When Bella makes the letter "p" sound she becomes an angry camel, and spits. So now she is practicing. Every waking moment. (Pardon me while I wipe my screen again.) And she realizes that I become the angry mother of an angry camel when she spits - so now she's doing it to get attention.

On the flipside, she has also started putting her cheek to mine for a kiss. Truly darling. Except then she turns and spits in my face and I want to launch her to Neptune.

Oh, she's into "p" (Oops, wiping again) words too. Her latest is "pinch." So she pinches AND spits. I'm afraid the ladies at the Stop & Shop will think I'm a heroin addict when they look at my arms, with tiny dotted scabs. Bella's quite the little charmer. Good thing she's so cute.

Any ideas on how to stop these behaviors??? Please? My arms can't take the scratches and I'm running out of tissues.


If you're into politics, check out Smarty Jones' blog HERE. She gives Jesse Jackson a proper ass-whupping for his "off mike" (but from the heart?) comments about Obama.
First Holy Communion

Sorry these took so long to post. In true Stagliano fashion, Bella dropped my camera on Communion day - and the lense twisted just enough that I couldn't consistently get the damn thing to open. However, we got a few photos, then I had to pull out the card - I couldn't download from the camera. I have new camera - and here are the two girls. Mia is taller, Gianna has the lighter, shorter hair.
Tomorrow, Miss G. turns 12!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Perez Hilton has a terrific post about NAA HERE!


Please go over to his site and leave a comment thanking him for recognizing The National Autism Association! Thank you again, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey for putting autism in the national spotlight. (Someone get Dr. Jenkins from AAP, whose recent hissy fit against parents is backfiring mightily, a Bromo, won't you?)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Why I write. Or, "Janet Evanovich is a Goddess."

I write fiction - no, really, I do. You just haven't SEEN any of it because.... Well, because writing fiction, a book that an agent really thinks he can sell, in a preposterously difficult market (women's fiction, debut) is about a million times more challenging than I realized, when I typed my first sentence back in Spring of 2005. The first draft took me three months. The version I am about to email to my agent is vvveeeerrrryyyy different. And far better. Amazing what a professional (that would be the agent) can do for a newbie who is greener than Kermit's behind.

My writing mentor (not that she'd know me from a hole in Stephanie Plum's spandex shorts) is Janet Evanovich. She's the author of the fourteen "Stephanie Plum" books, thirteen of which I have devoured, savored, re-read and looked forward to, for many years. Number fourteen is on order from Amazon.

If you haven't read the Plum books, start with, "One for the Money" and work your way up to "Fearless Fourteen."

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Pool Boys R Us has made an error. A biiiig error. Story of my life.

Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make a young life last now. Doo doo doo, feeling scared...

Caution prevails. At last. I think/hope pediatricians are starting to realize that vaccines are not infallable, purely beneficial gifts from God that can be dosed in any number to every child. They are serious, immune system-changing medicines, that can come with side effects, like any drug. Do they save lives? Indeed they do. Are they important? Yes. And yet.... Are our children more susceptible to all sorts of health problems today? Let's see, asthma, food allergies, neurological diagnoses.... Um, yes, I'd say American (Western?) kids are chronically sicker than ever. Is it the plethora of vaccines? Are drug companies pushing new vaccinations through the system too fast, without enough regulation and/or oversight? (Like so many other drugs.) Is the fact that the CDC is responsible for promoting vaccines and policing them a potential conflict of interest? Questions, questions, questions. And one more dead child. I'm scared shitless. You?

Just got this from Judicial Watch, who used FOIA (Freedom of Info Act) to learn about hidden Gardasil deaths and reactions. HERE. My stomach is sick. But my girls will NOT be. Not from Gardasil.
OK, Now I Just Need a Cocktail.....



Click HERE to see the reports on FIFTEEN deaths from Gardasil in females age 11 to 26. Are you kidding me? Fifteen deaths since 2007? Did YOU hear about the 12 year old who died in April of 2008? No, but you heard about the killer tomatoes, right?????

This reports is from The National Vaccine Information Center, and pulls data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting system, which docs use to track vaccine injuries. Even a fainting spell or rash should be reported. These reports are like rapes - GROSSLY underrerported, as often docs do not relate the "event" to the vaccine, which may have been administered days, or weeks prior to the event.

FIFTEEN DEAD GIRLS AND WOMEN!!! This is serious shit. This isn't, "The Mercury Militia and Crazy Anti-Vaccine People" talking out of our arses. How about a dead 11 year old? For what? The hope of MAYBE not getting a tiny portion of the HPV (in five years when she has sex, that is IF the vaccine lasts that long?) that can lead to cervical cancer? When 95% of HPV resolves itself ON ITS OWN in a woman's body?

And get ready, parents of boys. They're gunning to give Gardasil to your son next, so he won't pass the virus onto his partners. A laudable cause - of course. No one wants their kid to get a venereal disease, certainly not one that can lead to cancer. That's a "duh", right?

Teach your kids to use condoms. Have I said that often enough? Or keep it zipped. That's an option too. Although it ain't much fun, and goes against raging hormonse.
UGH! Just moved on Monday. Will be back ASAP with a lovely, funny, informative blog post. Or a picture of my pool boy. Sit tight!