In The Garden

A couple of years ago, I volunteered to be the chairperson the PTO Beautification Committee at my eldest son’s elementary school.  I am the poster child for biting off more than I can chew, especially in an area where I have literally NO expertise.  My skills lie in the organization, planning, and detailed checklists. Not in actually doing stuff like designing or creating spaces.  So, for me gardening is a whole new world I don’t feel like I really understand or belong in.

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About Autism…Just Shut Up

I hear a lot of stupid stuff come out of people’s mouths about autism.

Ignorance is common, but when it’s mingled with and effort to console, reassure, or commiserate…it often becomes unbearable!  Yes, you probably mean well, which is why I haven’t brought it up before.  You likely want to help support me and my family, which is great.  I just wish you knew how the things you say and post often make me cringe.

Here are the top kinds of statements that make me want to punch you in the face (and why):

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Small, Scary Worlds

“People don’t live in a big, scary world; they live in small scary worlds, one accident away from losing everything.”

— Henry Jackson, in “Raptor Ray” by B. Reilly

While I would not personally recommend this book, this particular quote in it really resonated with me.  So often, we look at life through our own fears and apprehensions.  In many ways our fears (and how we face them) define us.

My Issue with Black History Month

As the mother of a second-grader in the middle of February, I am noticing a few things I dislike about how Black History Month is addressed in schools.

This month, he brought home some worksheets about various different historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman and Jackie Robinson.  Together, we helped answer the questions together about them.  He felt a connection to Harriet Tubman because she is also from Maryland (to an 8-year-old that is relatable).  But there was something missing from his homework.

Context.

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Among Other Things: Happy Half-Hours

Among other things, the bulk of my days are spent on freelance writing/editing, household chores, and child-related activities. It’s these other things that seem to make or break my days.  They are often ME moments I spend relaxing or doing something that I enjoy.

It’s easy to say you should find your happy, but it’s MUCH harder in practice to find the time, energy, and motivation for these activities. Here are a couple of ways I find my happy, but you do whatever works for YOU!

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Olympic Facts for Your Friday

Here are some interesting Olympics facts for your final Friday of the 2018 Winter games.  Why? Because the Olympics are awesome!

Image Credit: The Olympic Rings in Sochi, 2014. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

The Music

The renowned American composer, John Williams, has been a composer for Olympic music since 1984.  His 1996 piece “Bugler’s Dream and Olympic Fan” can be heard on NBC during coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.  Williams  has composed music for four different Olympics (1984, 1988, 1996 and 2002).  He is also well-known for some of the most recognizable film scores, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park.

The Sports

The games this year feature 102 events in 15 different sports.  New events added in 2018 include:

  • Big Air Snowboarding
  • Mass-Start Speed Skating
  • Mixed Doubles Curling
  • Mixed Team Alpine Skiing

The Host “City”

The IOC typically selects a host city about 7 years prior to the games.   PyeongChang, South Korea (pronounced Pee-Yung-Chong NOT Pee-Yong-Chang) won the bid over cities in Germany and France.  The 2018 games represents the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics (they hosted the 1988 Summer games in Seoul).  PyeongChang actually refers to the county, rather than a city.  The majority of the games are actually being held in Daegwallyeong-myeon (mountain events) and Gangneung (ice events).

The Torch Relay

Although not a highlight of the games, one of the things I loved about the 2018 Winter Olympics is their very symbolic and unique torch relay.  According to wikipedia, “there were 7,500 torch bearers to represent the Korean population of 75 million people. There were also 2018 support runners to guard the torch and act as messengers.”  I love how they represented their nation in this unique way. I also loved the various different ways they used to transport the torch, including a zip wire, cable car, turtle ship, robots,  and steam train!

The Athletes

Pita Taufatofua – While most people recognize him as the shirtless flag-bearer from Tonga, I was impressed by his appearance for another reason.  Despite living in a tropical nation with no snow, Taufatofua (who competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) switched to cross-country skiing.  He managed to qualify for the 2018 Winter games on the final day of the qualification period.

Adam Rippon – Not only does this figure skater have his own signature move, dubbed the “Rippon Lutz”, he is also the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics (bronze in the 2018 team event).  He is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and against quiet starvation in athletics.

Askel Lund Svindal –  After a skiing accident in 2016, Svindal damaged his knee and underwent surgery on it in January 2017.  Despite these setbacks, Svindal became his Norway’s first downhill gold medallist at the 2018 games, and at the age of 35 he is the oldest man to win an alpine skiing gold. 

Vincent Zhou – At age 17, he’s the youngest American competing at the 2018 winter games.  During his short program, he landed a quad lutz. A quad lutz is the most difficult move currently recognized as achievable! Nobody before him has ever successfully landed one at the games before.

One Month Ago Today

A month ago today, I quit my job to stay-at-home.  It’s been both exactly what I expected and not what I expected at all.

So far, my schedule has been pretty erratic.  I’d like to think that’s just because I haven’t established a routine, but mostly I haven’t had a chance to start to form one.  The last four weeks have been a mixture of inconsistencies between the schedule for the family and my own work. 

I’d like to hope that a typical schedule will gradually develop, but I am starting to think that anything resembling an average week went out the window a month ago.

For now, it’s just playing it by ear and see how things go.

 

Intelligence

When I was a child, intelligence meant one thing: good grades.  If you didn’t get them, your parents likely had “words with you” about your performance as a student.  After my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with language impairments and borderline intellectual impairments, I started rethinking the world of IQ and Intelligence.

IQ (or Intelligence Quotient) is a standardized test mean to assess human intelligence.  It’s also used to determine if an individual has an intellectual disability.  Sounds simple, right?

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Chemistry and Autism 

The terms used to describe autism are often deceptive.  Disorder, Deficit, Impairments.  These words imply that the autistic brain is wired incorrectly, rather than wired differently.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as a neurological disorder.  ASD is identified by deficits (or non-typical levels) in social interaction, along with restrictive/repetitive behaviors.  ASD may or may not include language impairments, mental impairments, or genetic factors.

For some individuals with autism, these terms are important, because they help them to obtain much-needed services and support.  However, for many people, they become hurdles to social integration and acceptance in a world where they are already struggling with social communication.

Illustration by Kevin Ruelle

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