Category Archives: Awards

The Lowdown, Vol. 6

It’s sort of been good-days-and-bad-days around here lately. Good days, like what I wrote about in a recent post, and bad days, like what I don’t write about. I allude to Nigel’s “grumpiness,” which is blog-speak for blatant disrespectfulness; I say that he is doing well emotionally and behaviorally, and days later he is raging and crying about being irresponsible and worthless; I write about him being comfortable at his current school, yet his academic/executive functioning skills are still lacking (putting it mildly), and I have no strength to deal with it now, after years of dealing with it alone. I need a vacation. We need a vacation.

Fortunately, several months ago we started planning a vacation for the week of Thanksgiving. My father, whom I have written about before, is an avid world traveler and wanted to take his two older grandsons on an international trip as their high school graduation gift from him. Not sure what direction his cancer battle would take (he is currently undergoing his third round of treatment), earlier this year Dad suggested that we accompany him on his annual Thanksgiving-in-Thailand trip now rather than wait for their graduations. And so, I am very excited to announce that early Friday morning we leave for a week in Thailand!

The boys are ecstatic about their first international trip – they have read and enjoyed National Geographic since Kindergarten and can’t wait to get out and explore and experience (albeit briefly) another country. Grandpa has planned some amazing activities! And it will be so great to spend some time together. We can’t wait!

In other news, I was recently honored with the Versatile Blogger Award – twice! I’d like to thank both Stacey at The Four Cannons and Jazzy at Jazzygal for thinking of me! Jazzy noted that it would be perfect to post in my sidebar (the green!), and as soon as I have time to do some size tweaking, I certainly will:

Instructions for this award state that I should list seven interesting things about myself, but since I had done that for a previous award (and I can’t come up with seven more at the moment!), I’ve decided to do a variation – Seven of My Favorite Things:

  • Book: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • Movie: Best in Show
  • Color: green
  • Food: sushi
  • Animal: tiger
  • Country: Greece (so far!)    


I’m going to have to humbly bow out of tagging since I have a huge list of things to do to get ready for the trip, including packing! I’ll be back here with pictures in two weeks!

The Lowdown, Vol. 5

I’ve been getting a lot of “How are you?”s lately from friends and family. It’s sort of like when I was going through my separation twelve years ago – the same concern is there, the wishing they could help, the commiserating over things not going according to plan. I had hoped to share some of the school year custody with Nigel and Aidan’s dad by moving to where he lives, and that, as most of you know, didn’t happen. At this point, the bottom line is nothing new. I’ve been doing this (full-time single parenting) for nine years, and I guess I can just keep doing it. But I will tell you this – it doesn’t get easier. The boys don’t get up much during the night now of course, but the days. Oh, man, the too-full days just about kill me. The strain just builds and builds. By now I feel like I’ve got a piano on my back.

For most of this year (and some of last), I had been searching for a life coach, just wanting help in figuring out how to approach my life so that I would feel less overwhelmed. I’d read about various life coaches on friends’ blogs and would come across a few online, but none of them felt right for me. One day a few months ago, Eithne left a comment on one of my posts. She linked to her website, and as soon as I clicked over, I knew that she was the one.  Through her excellent coaching I am learning to prioritize my life according to what I value, and I definitely feel that I now have the tools to enable myself to feel less overwhelmed. To anyone looking for a life coach, I highly recommend her!

Last, but certainly not least, I recently received a lovely new (or new to me) blog award:

Isn’t it cool? I love the design. And I also love the cool blog from whence it came: Big Daddy Autism. Thanks, Big Daddy! If you haven’t checked him out yet, head on over there for some much-needed humor and some thought-provoking posts.

Apparently in accepting this award, I must reveal seven things about myself. So I’ll follow Big Daddy’s example and mention the following:

1) I have two tattoos, a tiger and a Celtic knot. The tiger has been on my arm for ten years, and it’s really beautiful. During the summer I receive many compliments on both of them.

2) I have written and published a novel, and I’m (slowly) working on my next one.

3) My eyes are green with gold flecks in them.  Sometimes they appear to be hazel.

4) I have driven the same car for over ten years, and it feels like an extension of myself. I love it like I would a horse.

5) My favorite hobby is winetasting. So much so that I wanted to put a bocce court in my backyard because it’s the only sport you can play and not have to put down your wine glass.

6) I have sustained three major injuries from one of my other hobbies – snowboarding. I can assure you that no wine was involved, although it certainly was afterward.

7) I drink green smoothies every morning for breakfast. A green smoothie in the morning and a glass of wine at night – it’s all about balance!

There you have it. I’d do the tagging thing, but I have a big IEP meeting tomorrow morning (more on that next week), and must use the rest of my evening to prepare. You know how it is.

Cheers, everyone!

The Lowdown, Vol. 4

Sometimes you’ve just got to get outta Dodge. And with the boys happily in L.A. for some time with their dad, that’s just what I did. I took a drive up to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, jogged over to Rainier National Park (well, not literally), and then visited some friends in Portland on my way there and back. It was a great trip – a little retreat for myself. But when you take a trip alone, you often end up with some pictures that look like this:

And if you’re used to going to National Parks with your kids, you’re going to really miss them when you drive around one all day, and then again that night when you’re in the motel room by yourself. And since you were really looking forward to some time to yourself, it takes you by surprise that you’d rather have them with you instead. But then when you stop to think about it, you’re not that surprised at all. And you’re wishing that they were in this picture, standing on the bridge:

The rainforests are beautiful – lots of moss and ferns and old trees with pretty creeks gurgling by. Lush greenery and gorgeous wildflowers line every road, even the highways. This is what the Pacific Northwest is known for.


Next I headed over to the coast. Not being a reader of the books, I unwittingly found myself in Twilight territory. There is a rather large store in Forks, Washington, called Dazzled by Twilight, which I happened to drive by. I glanced at the life-size cardboard cut-outs of the characters lining the sidewalk, smiling as I thought of my sons and their disinterest. (Well, Nigel has disinterest. Aidan has disdain.) Closer to the coast, I saw “Welcome, Twilight Fans!” signs posted on little motels I passed and another souvenir shop devoted to the series. In fact, the photo below was taken a few yards away from the official “Twilight Tours” bus, which a young couple was waiting to board.

The next day, I drove to Mt. Rainier National Park, and at first I had no idea how lucky I was that it was a clear day. I later learned that the majestic mountain is often cloaked in clouds. As I rounded nearly every bend in the road I had to pull over to take a photo, gasping at this fourteener‘s beauty. This picture really doesn’t do it justice.

After my cozy night’s stay at the lodge, I decided to stop at one last waterfall on my way out. Fortunately, there were others there at the same time, and I asked someone to take a photo:

But wait, there’s more for this Lowdown post! Months ago, my friend Jazzygal bestowed the Happy 101 award on me, and I’m finally listing the 10 Things that Make Me Happy. It’s something I always need to be reminded of, but I’m really needing it now, so thanks again, Jazzy!

  1. spending time with Nigel and Aidan – watching movies together at home, reading, playing games
  2. writing novels
  3. enjoying meals with friends
  4. reading an amazing novel
  5. sleeping in
  6. blogging
  7. winetasting
  8. traveling
  9. savoring a piece of chocolate
  10. being home when the boys are, but doing my own thing and just hearing their voices, happy doing their own things – Aidan on his X-Box Live and Nigel scripting the movie he’s watching – makes me so happy.

There you have it. I’m going to opt-out on the tagging this time, but if anyone feels like leaving a comment listing the things that make them happy, all the better! These days, with the boys gone and the stress of a big impending move hanging over me, I need all the happy I can get!

The Lowdown

From time to time I receive e-mails from readers asking how I’m doing, often about things that don’t necessarily pertain to this blog, which is totally fine. Here, I write mostly about my experiences raising my two boys, one of whom has autism. I don’t go into much personal stuff because I think of this blog as a resource for other parents. But then I realized that when I read other blogs, one of the things I truly enjoy is a post on a more personal level.  I feel like I get to know the blogger a little better, identify with him or her, and often learn something new. And since I usually enjoy reading the personal bits, I figured that some of my readers might like that too.

So, in that vein, I’ve decided to occasionally write some personal posts to address those “touching base” e-mails that I receive. For example, I am often asked how my writing is coming along, especially since I’ve been threatening to publish a book for over a year now. Well, as with everything else in my life that doesn’t have to do with work and raising kids, it’s coming along slowly. I’m close, though! Really close! I just have a few more things to iron out, and then it’s off to the printer! I had considered having another editor look at it, but I gave it some careful consideration and think that I just need to bite the bullet and get it out there. It’s time (almost).

Here’s another popular question – am I dating now? And the answer is no. I have not dated for a year. For a while now I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have time to date, which is mostly true. But I’m also not that impressed with the caliber of single men I’ve met lately. And here’s a little story to illustrate that point. Okay, so Saturday night I go out with a friend of mine, another full-time single mom. It’s been weeks since either one of us has gotten out of our homes other than for work, errands, or appointments. A band is playing at a local pub, so we sit down at the bar and have a drink. After a few minutes, the guy next to me starts chatting me up. He seems okay, apparently a recently (by my standards) single dad whose kids are the same ages as mine. He’s even from the LA area, as I am, so I think those are pretty cool things to have in common. We keep talking, and my friend joins in. The three of us talk about our six collective kids, we make jokes, we’re having a good time. And then – brace yourselves – the guy blurts out, “Yeah, I’m really over the whole kid thing.”    

Really? You’re hitting on a single mom of two kids, and you think a line like that is gonna get you anywhere?

I was so shocked that I couldn’t even say anything. My friend, however, had a few choice words to say, including, “How sad for your kids” as we turned on our heels and walked out. I mean, it’s not like I’m expecting to meet a great guy in a pub. I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that night, nor was I wanting to. I just wanted to go out and kick back with my friend. Instead, we meet a jerk who’s been a single dad for three years and thinks he’s going to impress me by complaining about it and insulting good parents everywhere. Next!

In other news, I recently received the Friendly Blogger award from my friend Nicki at Slow Down, Gym Shoe. Nicki was a recipient of the Lemonade award that I passed on to her for her positive outlook. Thanks for this cool award, Nicki!

One of the rules for accepting the Friendly Blogger award is to post the most recent photo of yourself, so again – brace yourselves:


And that’s the lowdown – not much success in the writing, dating, and portrait-taking departments. Tune in for the next episode of Personal Posts, in which I’ll discuss convalescing cats, workplace gossip, and file cabinet organization! (Kidding, but who knows?)

More Blog Love

Whoever came up with this Lemonade Award, I salute you. What a lovely idea to honor those who make a habit of making the best of things. And I am honored to receive it, even though I think that the person who gave it to me is far more deserving than I! Thank you, Alicia! Alicia writes Welcome to My Planet, a blog I love to read for her thought-provoking, emotion-filled posts as much as the humorous ones.

As all awards do, this one comes with a few rules:

– Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
– Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
– Link the nominees within your post.
– Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
– Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

But with this award, I’m going to bend the rules a little – ‘cause 10 is a lot of typin’ and linkin’ (although Alicia did a magnificent job with her list)! Frankly, in my opinion every single blog I read is worthy of this award. And so are all my friends who don’t have blogs. I learn so much from all of you, and you enrich my life immeasurably (I think I wrote about that recently). That said, I would like to nominate five blogs in particular that come to mind for this award.

First, to Tera at This Is My Reality. I’ve been reading her blog for quite some time, and she has such an enjoyable writing style that draws you in with her gracious words and insightful observations. She writes about her life in Belgium with her husband and two sons, one of whom is a teen with autism. Tera so eloquently and honestly shares her joys and fears, the ups and downs, and doing the best she can with all of it.

Also, to Nicki of Slow Down, Gym Shoe! Nicki is an exceptional writer (her fiction is incredible) and a caregiver for her nieces and nephew. She is currently doing an amazing Totschool program with the kids and is starting her own preschool. She also writes about special needs issues and inspires me with her positive outlook, no matter what’s going on in her life.

The next three are some blogs that I only recently started reading, but when awards like this go around, I usually like to highlight blogs that are new to me. I certainly look forward to reading more!

Here’s to lots more lemonade!

Feeling Lovely

Just last week I was thinking that lately I hadn’t seen any blog awards floating around out there. And then, the very next day, Maddy of Sandwiched Genes (and three other blogs! Did I get them all?!) was kind enough to bestow upon me this charming award:

Thank you, Maddy! I hope some of your industriousness will rub off on me! In the meantime, I am pleased to pass this award to the following:

Best wishes to all! Here are the rules, should you choose to follow them (I usually don’t, but I’m on good terms with the blog police):

‘Copy, save and add the blog photo to your blog, share the love with 7 of your favorite blogs and be sure to mention who gave it to you’

*Taking a Bow*

Yay – I’ve received another blog award, and it’s a pretty one! 

Proximidade award

Approximate translation from Portugese: “This blog invests and believes, the proximity!” Closeness, maybe? Anyway, big thanks to Hellokittiemama, my advocacy hero at The BonBon Gazette, who has kindly bestowed this lovely award upon me. I am honored to pass it on. First, a required description:

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

And now, my picks:

Hats off to all!

The Arte y Pico Award

Arte y Pico awardI am truly honored. Mama Mara at Mama on the Edge has bestowed upon me a most prestigious award: Arte y Pico! Thank you, Mama Mara! The title of this unique award (pictured here in all its glory) apparently does not translate well to English (pico de gallo, anyone?), but it’s the recognition that I appreciate, especially from a writer who can cover the difficult events as well as the laughable ones. Her balance “on the edge” is remarkable.

Now, more about the award! The marvelous thing about it is that you pass it on! Here are the rules, per the official Arte y Pico site:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

With that in mind, it is my pleasure to pass the torch (it sort of looks like one, don’t you think?) to the following:

Outta the Coop: where The Chick takes the ball-of-clay metaphor to new heights but also reminds us that there’s more to life than autism (and she’s got great taste in books).

Autism Family Adventures: where Bonnie wrote an informative and touching article on planning ahead. I appreciate her insight and ideas.

My Life with Autism: where Karla eloquently describes how the R word is like the N word. I also like how she posts tons of links to interesting articles on other sites.

The Quirk Factor: where Mommy Dearest has a category, called Jaysen-ish, of endearing/funny things her son says. Just like my Nigelisms!

Last, but not least, to Movies ‘n Stuff, where those of us who enjoy movies and TV shows can read great reviews about what’s worth seeing! I especially liked her review of Wall-E.

Best wishes to you all! Keep on doing what you do!