Can't see me! I have camo.
This past Sunday, we decided to get up and go to the freak show.  Most people refer to it as the Flea Market.  But, when admission is free and you actually can see a dog-faced boy, or two, it's a freak show.  While the people weren't as exciting as they have been in the past, we did see an odd thing or two.  My personal favorite was the  bright orange hummer in the parking lot, complete with camo.  What we didn't find were lamps, or anything else that is on my family room wish list.
Also on today's list of things to do: prime the walls in the family room.  We decided on the Kilz brand clean start with no VOC.  One coat was enough to cover the drywall and barely smelled at all.  The only bad part was that it was thicker than regular primer.  Well, that and the King decided to 'help' with the painting.  He did well relieving me when I needed a break.  Then, as I was using a brush to get into the stubborn corners etc, he decided to help some more, and clean up.  I really should have known that I should have given him explicit instructions when he said he was going to start the clean up.  Instead I went blissfully into a corner and back to painting.  When I finally finished up, I was taking my supplies to the kitchen and passed by the guest bath and there was the King, elbows deep in paint and paint stick pieces in the bathroom sink.  The very shallow, very black marble, scalloped edge sink.   I wasn't sure if I should have laughed or cried when I asked, 'what the hells are you doing?!'  He looks at me with this satisfied smile and claims to be 'cleaning up'.
There is now more paint than I've ever seen anywhere splashed all over the bathroom, and a pool of it on the family room floor (thankfully we plastic covered it) from the roller he forgot about.  I explain to him how to actually clean this up, and send him to the kitchen with the roller as I start to clean the other pieces of the paint stick, and the sink, mirror, walls...etc.  When I was nearly finished cleaning up the disaster that became the guest bathroom, the King stuck his head back in, smiled at me and said, 'To be fair, you know paint hates me', as though this would stop me from daydreaming about painful ways to kill him as I scoured a little more paint off the bathroom.
Later, as I'm making dinner he wanders back in the kitchen with this silly grin on his face and proclaims, 'I have paint on my hands, my arms, my legs and my shoes.  The best part about that?  I wasn't even wearing shoes!'
*Not to scale
I can only imagine trying to explain to the nice police officers, as they are loading me into the squad car why it's perfectly fine to have strangled the husband, Homer Simpson style.  But officers, we live in a republic, we have no monarch, so it's was completely fine to kill the King.
I think in the future, I'll refrain from letting him 'help' me paint.  I just have to convince him that the paint stick is not the royal scepter and all will be well.
Have you ever had just one of those days?  Maybe a bad week where things just weren't going well for you?  The world just seems like it turned against you suddenly for no real reason?  Yeah, I had that experience, and the cherry that topped off this particularly bad, three scoop of poo sundae disaster?  Walmart, on a Saturday.
The story begins by me getting sick.  Not the oh noes!  I have the sniffles variety.  No, I'm not that easy.  I'm talking the been to every doctor on the planet, no one has any clue what's making me sick kind of thing.  I have some minor surgery, home the same day kind of thing to rule out fun things like ovarian cancer, etc and I realize I'm really itchy the next day.  No biggie, anesthesia does that to me sometimes.  So, I do what any normal person would do and let it go a few days.
A few days later...
Shingles - right on the bra line
Now there's a rash too!  OMG is that...no, I've had those already, a few times.  Why does the rash burn?  And now it itches again.  Back to my GP I go to get this looked at.  She takes one glance at it, smiles and tells me I have a really nice case of shingles.  (Shingles are great for roofs, really, really awful on people.  That vaccine they have - GET IT!  Get it now!)  She gets out her prescription pad, writes one for the shingles, an anti-biotic for something else I managed to get, and because of my track record thus far, diflucan in case the anti-biotic caused a yeast infection, we'd just stop that before it got started.  My GP, she's just that perky!
Awesome.  I get my itchy, painful, burning carcass over to the pharmacy at Walmart (I needed milk and we didn't have a Target yet, don't judge me!) and hand over the three prescriptions.  I hadn't really thought about them, or looked at them, I really was just misery on feet at this point.  But, the look on the face of the pharmacy tech, and the fact that his eyebrow was starting to climb alarmed me.  He goes over to the pharmacist to 'check to see if they had everything in stock' while nodding to the pharmacist in my direction with this odd smile.
It was about this time that my brain started to connect the dots.  Valtrex, Amoxicillin and Diflucan - OMG they think I have STDs!  Fantastic, I've just become one of the people of walmart.
Today, as I'm writing this story, I go to peopleofwalmart.com (mostly to check that I'm still not there), and you just can't make this suff up people, this is what I find:
From Peopleofwalmart.com

                                                              Pure kismet.
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This is probably my last post about autism during April.  I doubt it will be my last post about autism though.  There is plenty about it to rant about every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.  But, I only have just so much time in the day.
For those of you just tuning in, Minion #1 has autism.  It took forever to be diagnosed, no one wanted to talk about it when he was very young.  It was like toddler VD, if the docs just don't talk about it, it would go away.  So, thank you medical community!  In your infinite wisdom and expensive training you cost us a few years of interventional therapies.
Until the pediatricians, school personel, and psychologists put on their big girl panties and started facing up to reality, we treated the minion as though he was a regular kid (we still do).  A small, lagging behind, regular kid, with a pacemaker.  Ok, so he's not normal but he's mine, so he fits in just right around here.
Now, to the people that mean well.  I think at this point I've heard about everything to there is hear about having a child who's 'different'.  When the well meaning people of the world start down their well worn path of BS in 'helping to make me feel better about 'my situation'' I actually say in my head (or at least I think it's in my head, a few times it probably wasn't. My give a damn is frequently on holiday) "Do you really think I need to hear your opinion?"  And as they go on, "Oh, hell, you really do, fine, lay it on me, this ought to be good".

  • God only gives kids like this to people that can handle them.  Trust me, this is not the case, sadly.  There are so many good special needs parents out there and just as many bad ones.
  • You must have offended God with your behavior, this is your punishment.  God, if you're listening, fix the minion, hit me with a lightening bolt if you're that pissed.
  • Why can't you just let the professionals decide what's best for him, and stop making waves?  Um, because he's my minion and it's wouldn't be the first time the 'professionals' were dead wrong?
  • He would probably be better in an institution when he grows up.  Why?  Because he's smarter than you and you feel threatened?
  • He doesn't look retarded.  Yes, because all of a sudden I know what that looks like, here's a mirror so you do too.
On the flip side of this, I recently heard a snippet from my Dad via my brother that was just awesome.  After seeing the minion with his classmates, who also have autism at a recent party, dad decided maybe we weren't being so hard on the minion and he's better off for it.  Dad's always been one of the well meaning people who thought we should just feed him what he would eat and not introduce new foods, allow him to just do the things he was interested in and not press him to explore his world more, and punishing a special needs child for not following basic social and family rules was awful.  Dad's light-bulb came on this month, and it was blue!

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We started off creating a basic wardrobe with dresses, an easy all in one outfit if you want them to be.  Next up we're going to concentrate on skirts.  What should you have as the basics to create an all season wardrobe and not be wearing the same outfits over and over?
If you've been reading my blog, you'll know what the answer to this is going to be, things you love and things that fit you really well.
Do they have to be certain colors, no.  Do they have to be certain styles, no.  Do they have to fit and look good on you, YES!  If you don't love it, don't buy it.  If it's already in your closet, and you don't love it, get rid of it.  I bet you're not wearing it anyway.
I have a number of styles of things in my closet.  I was blessed/cursed with an hourglass figure so I have a few different styles that flatter my body type.  You probably will too, unless you're a guy.  Not that wearing skirts is bad if you're a guy, I don't judge, but I digress.
Anyway, on to things you should have in your closet:  A classic black skirt (bonus points if it's part of a suit) a classic white or light neutral skirt.  A wool skirt for fall/winter.  If you decide to go with a plaid one, find one that's bias cut (cut diagonally to hug your curves better, looks better with plaids too).  A jean or cargo skirt for casual functions, or just to look better than the other moms at PTA meetings.  A cocktail skirt for the glamorous parties we all throw in our spare time and one or more in a summery cotton for hot days.

There are a number of different styles of skirts and they do tend to work better with certain body types.
A-line - Cut like the letter A, they work well with all body types.
Straight - Cut like a rectangle, they work best on those with a rectangle body shape and some inverted triangles.
Pencil - Fitted from waist to knee to show your curves and flaws too.  Best on hourglass shapes.
Mini - Cut well above the knee, these work best for those with well toned gams.  I'm not a fan of these in the over 30 crowd, but to each their own.
Wrap - Forgiving for all body types, especially if the material isn't stiff.
Asymmetrical - These are good for most body types and great for those that like a roomy hemline, or want to balance out a triangle shape.
Circle - Suitable for any body type
Pleated - The smaller the pleat, the more volume it adds to the body.  Gives shape to rectangles.

Skirts come in all shapes and sizes just like we do.  Just because there are general guidelines for what works, it doesn't mean that your shape won't work with it.  Try it on if you like it.  The worst that happens is that you get a good laugh.
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I don't know about the rest of you, but this time of year I'm always plagued by what to wear.  It's not really warm enough to wear short sleeves, and not cold enough for long sleeves all day.  I end up laying cardigans and or trench coats to stay comfortable while still looking chic.
work to dinnerI belong to a great womens group, we meet up for coffee or dinner once a month.  Some of us are working professionals, some are SAHM's who just need their own brand of time out.  After a long day at work, it will be nice to get out and see them all again, have some adult conversation that doesn't involve nerdery, gaming, or IT at all.  I also like to dress up a bit and feel like a girl instead of the computer person that fixes stuff.  So, to that end, here is what I'll be wearing to work, or a very close approximation.  Polyvore doesn't mirror my closet exactly for some reason.
Oh, and dinner is at Piazza Sorrento this time.  A fabulous gluten free restaurant in Hershey, PA!
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Eat Seasonally!
I read an article a few days ago, What's Wrong With the American Diet, and I got to wondering how much our way of shopping in the US influences that.  Many of us are in the rut of we go to the grocery store, and pick up everything we need there.  Sometimes we make a list, sometimes we don't, but how much thought do you put into reading labels, or getting what's seasonal?  Do you think about how far that strawberry had to travel before you tossed it carelessly into your cereal this morning?

Yeah, I didn't used to either.  I didn't used to do a lot of things.  I used to go to the local store, and buy everything I needed for the week.  Roughly 40% of what I was buying can in a box, required little cooking from scratch, and even less thought to eat it.  It was put into a plastic bag to be carted home then stuffed into the pantry or fridge where sometimes it went bad before we got around to even eating it.

I cringe thinking about all that now.  We grow though.  We evolve.  We learn to use tools and we do bigger and better things.

I no longer shop at the big chain grocery store.  I shop at a farm market for all my veggies and any fruit we can get local and fresh.  Sometimes, I also venture over to Farmers on the Square and get some additional veg, meats and treats of dairy.  I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to talk to the people who are raising your food.  If it's veg, you can ask exactly what chemicals were used, or not, if it's certified organic, or they just use organic practices, and you can decide who to buy from with an educated decision.  Same with the meats.  If it matters to you how the animal you're eating was raised, what it ate, if it spent its life in a space too small to move, buy local from people you can talk to.

I found myself cringing again today as I was at the farm market buying my veggies.  I was putting a few veg into a plastic bag and then into my tote.  Why?  I have no idea.  Are we so ingrained that no food should touch another even in the shopping bag?  It's nice to keep things from rolling around, but more plastic isn't my answer.  I'll be making some mesh bags in the near future to correct my recent plastique faux pas.

In the mean time, and in honor of earth day, shop locally, eat seasonally, and keep on evolving!
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Lao-tzu.

Lao is a smart man.  Some days I think he also had an autistic child and had miles to go each day before he slept.  Yes, different poet, but it does feel that way some days.  I might have also had a mango mojito (which accounts for the poet mixture) to recover from the pre-op testing the minion went through today.  He's having an Oreo yogurt, and for newly minted 14 yr olds, that's about the same thing.
Today we arrived at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to start the process of having the minions pacer replaced.  He has total heart block ( no natural heartbeat of his own) so he relies on the pacer day in and out.  We are averaging 7 years on each pacer now.  Now that he's older they are moving the pacer to the shoulder and replacing the leads.  The new leads will run into the heart and reside in both the atria and the ventricle instead of being outside the heart and only being attached to the ventricle. The husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how well the day went.  The minion was cool, calm and collected, minus a tear or two for a blood draw.
Because of being around him day in and day out, it's often difficult to gauge growth.  Today we saw that growth and maturity in spades.  I can only hope that tomorrow goes as well. Tomorrow he is faced with liquid versed to get him relaxed, then a mask with some gas to knock him out while they IV, and finish prepping him.  If that doesn't work, they have to IV him while awake, fighting it and generally making anyone in shouting distance regret being awake at that time of the day.
Are you a bad parent if you're willing to bribe your child with anything at your disposal to have scenario 1 happen?  I'm trying to figure out how many DS games or iTunes money for more Adele it may take.  Feel free to start the betting pool.

P.S. Check out the instagram widget for photos from today.
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I've been promising myself for quite some time I was going to create a basic wardrobe for myself, clean out my closet and only augment it from time to time with only fabulous pieces from the thrift shop.  This is the start of that.  The below dresses are things I either own, or are very close to it.  Minion #1 goes for heart surgery tomorrow, so I'll include actual photos of my things I'm keeping in the dresses category when I get home.

For me, the absolute basics for dresses in my wardrobe are a shirt dress, a graphic print dress, a t-shirt dress, and a cocktail dress.  For things I know I'm going to be wearing for a number of years and through a few seasons, I tend toward neutrals and better designers.  Trendy styles and colors I'm not as worried about and spend very little on.  As you're looking through your closet at what you have, ask yourself a few questions.  Do you love it?  Does it fit you perfectly?  How long has it been since you've worn it last.  If you have things that don't fit, and you don't love, chances are you aren't wearing them either and you should pull them from your closet to be donated.
The LBD in your closetThe LBD, every woman's friend and foe all wrapped up into one garment. I've included a number of styles in here, but the only important thing is that it fits you, you love it and you'll wear it for years to come.  For fun I've also included a few pairs of must have shoes.  Heels or low heel you should have a pair of dressy sling backs, and pumps in a basic black along with flats in both dressy and casual styles.  For jewelry, the basics are a set of pearls, a solitare necklace in either diamond or CZ with earrings to match.  You can't go wrong with a smaller pair of neutral hoops either.

Get your link on!  Show me what you have for dresses in your closet.

This years birthday cake creation for Minion #1 was Sonic the Hedgehog for the Wii themed birthday party.  I like birthdays so I tend to put some extra effort into the cake, party, etc.  It's the one day you get that's all yours, so we might go a little overboard.  But only a little.

Sonic is actually pretty easy to do.  Make your cake.  I used (2) 8" cake pans.  One box of cake mix for you gluten devouring people, or two boxes for those of us who are gluten free.  I made strawberry cake (tossed a handful of strawberries in the food processor and splash of strawberry flavor).

Cut your cakes into some semblance of these shapes:
I used a Tupperware cupcake carrier for the base
Next you'll want to mix up your icing.  I used a butter cream recipe  (1 cup butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2-4 tablespoons milk.) and a lot of royal blue gel coloring.  When I was ready to start frosting the cake, with a toothpick I drew in the outline of the face, eyes, nose, etc. so I would know where to frost.  Then, attach the hair and ear to the round cake with a little frosting 'glue'.

Hair all 'glued' in place and frosted.
I didn't use a bag to frost the blue, just a small bent frosting knife.
Don't eat till you see the whites of his eyes!
The white icing I piped in with standard round #3 tip and smoothed it with a finger dipped in cold water.
Finally starting to look like a ...something
Using the same technique with piping and wet finger I whipped up some football brown into white icing for the face.
Sonic, in all his gooey glory
Finally, I used some store bought black gel to do the final touches.  If you keep your cake chilled or frozen before you decorate it, you don't typically get the little crumbs mixing into the icing as you go.  I also use gel colorant and not the liquid, it tends to make better colors and doesn't get the frosting as liquidy.


This post can be seen here as well!

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I read a great blog post last week about good moms, and how we are different. It was well written and made me think a bit about how judgmental we all can be as parents.  The main point was this: what works well in one family in their situation, may not be the best thing for another family.  I didnt realize just how extremely important that point was until someone wrote about it, and I read it.
This weekend I had to put this into practice.  In a HUGE way.
Minion #1's birthday party was held this weekend, and we invited his classmates.  For those of you just tuning in, the minion has autism, PDD-NOS for those of you who like things to be technical and full of acronyms.  His classmates also have autism in varying forms.  One parent called to say their child couldn't come because they didn't think he could do a birthday party, but two of the other classmates did come.  One came with his parents, another with his TSS and his dad.  This is the start of where being non judgmental comes into play.  It's easy to slip into the role of judge and jury when you think another parent isn't acting with the needs of their child in mind.
When you have a child with special needs, no matter what those needs are, your job as a parent doesn't really change, yes you have added responsibilities and things to deal with, but at the end of the day it's still your job to prepare your child as best as you can for the world around them.  So, I was a little shocked when one set of parents wanted to know if they needed to stay with their child when they've not met us before and their child's language skills were that of roughly a two year old.  The good news is, he was a fan of wii bowling and cake.
At the end of the day, the minion had a great birthday filled with family and friends he was happy to see, gifts he was truly excited about and I learned a few lessons:
  • We are extremely lucky with the version of autism the minion has.
  • Parents of special needs kids come in different varieties.
  • Some are authoritative, some are permissive
  • Some have additional help in the form of a TSS, some don't
  • Some parent their children the way they do, because it's what's best for the rest of their family, and some parent each child in a way that's best for them.
  • No matter your feelings on the matter, if the child is happy and healthy the parents are doing their best.  Not your best, and that's ok too.
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Birthday party ensemble
Ouftfit #1
Nothing to see here, not really.  It's just another post about clothes for the weekend.  Though, this could easily work at the office too.  But, wear different shoes than flip flops.  Some people just hate the sound they make.  At home, or out and about, who cares?  Not me, or your friendly neighborhood honeybadger.
Outfit #2
This weekend will no doubt be packed to the gills with fun stuff.  We have a birthday for minion #1 on Saturday (see outfit #1) and there was talk of geocaching on Sunday (outfit #2), barring rain.  I know you may not believe I'm going to brave the outdoors.  But I do on occasion.  They aren't often, but it does in fact happen.  Just last weekend I went hiking, in dress shoes, to waterfalls.  True Story.  I think I can manage bumbling about in hiking shoes, looking for some treasure like a land-locked pirate for an afternoon.  As long as I have my bug spray, a thermos of mojitos and can still see civilization from wherever the GPS says we should go.  With any luck I'll have Shandy along for moral support, and with her being preggo...I keep the mojitos all to myself!

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I think everyone has a list of things they really don't want to live without.  I have a short list of them for the kitchen, and thought I'd share.  I can't guarantee they will make your food taste better, or even look better.  The only thing I can guarantee is that they work very well for me, a few of them for more years than I want to admit to. 
There are a few of my favorite things!
  1. Cuisinart coffee maker
  2. DeLonghi espresso/cappuccino maker
  3. Kitchen Aid stand mixer
  4. Silpat non stick baking mat
  5. Pyrex baking dishes
  6. Pyrex measuring cups in both one and two cup sizes.
  7. Muffin and cake pans.  Wilton and NordicWare, make some of the nicest pans out there.  
  8. Pizza Stone from Pampered Chef  
  9. Misto 
  10. Pampered Chef's quick stir pitcher
  11. Nesting bowls and a batter bowl.  
  12. Wine stoppers.  
  13. Hot Air PopCorn Popper 
  14. Skullcandy Pipe.  
The coffee maker has gotten used nearly everyday for the last 7 years.  Pretty amazing for a coffee maker, and it's fast to brew.
I know...who needs two coffee makers?  Me!  I do!  I really love my coffee and espresso and... anyway.  It's a really nice machine, simple to use and the frother is amazing.
The Kitchen Aid I've had for about 15 years.  If I were homeless I'd drag that thing with me, I'm that attached to it.
The Silpat.  Great for things like breads, english muffins and jelly rolls.
The baking dishes.  Also something I've had in the 15-20 year range.  They're nearly indestructible and incredibly functional, just not overly pretty.  Make your food look good and that issue is solved.
The measuring cups take both heat and cold.  Great when you're baking, candy making, or just need to heat something in the microwave.
The cake and muffin pans you use have to do a few things.  Heat evenly and release your food.  These two manufacturers do this with near 100% accuracy.
The pizza stone was a great investment.  We use it nearly every week, especially since I had to go gluten free.  You almost have to make your own pizza to have it taste good, and these make a great crust.
Misto oil sprayers.  This is one of those genius ideas. Add oil to the bottle, pump to pressurize and spray.  You know exactly what's being added to your pans and food this way.
The quick stir pitcher is another genius idea.  Great for anything you have to make like lemonade or iced tea.  Sangria also goes well in these.
Nesting bowls and batter bowls are great for the stuff you don't really need to get the mixer out for.  If you do invest in nesting bowls, get some good crockery ones.  Maybe even antique ones.  If you're making pie crust in them, you can keep them cooler.
Wine Stoppers are great if you're wanting to keep your wine closed, or not drinking it all at one sitting.  The one in my amazon store is a glass flamingo, because I knew my friend Becky would love it, but we have blown glass fish.
The Popcorn Popper.  My boys can't live without this anymore.  If you've never had air popped corn at home, get one of these.  It's so much better than the microwave stuff.
Skullcandy Pipe.  You might be wondering why the last one is in the kitchen list. It's not exactly kitcheny.  I like to listen to music as I work, so it tends to go where I do.  The sound quality is great, and for the space it takes, IMO it's a great investment.

What did I miss?  What are a few of your favorite things for the kitchen?
Okay, there really weren't explosions, but there were Good Guys, and Bad Guys today.  This afternoon we had our IEP team meeting to try and resolve the speech therapy issues.  If you're just tuning in, you can read all about 'The Fiasco' starting here.  Long story made really short, we have the main thing we asked for, a different speech therapist to re-evaluate the minion and put together an actual section of the IEP that makes sense for the him, not the school district.
The meeting started out with us explaining our position, events up to this point, conversations the people at the meeting weren't privy to, or informed of with the director of special education, etc, and what our goals were. We would be the Good Guys in this scenario,  advocates for a child whose needs were not being met under the IEP, or by the district at large.  (Try and understand I had to let the husband talk because as I stared at the Bad Guys through my red-tinged glare all I could think is I hate you, I hate you, I hate you all, why is this so hard, and why can't you sheeple be more like lemmings and just jump off cliffs?  Grrr.)  While that mantra repeated in my head, the husband calmly and logically laid out our position to said Bad Guys.  It went something something like this, 'I'mma let you finish, but first I'm gonna tell you how you're wrong'.  
We laid out a clear picture of the therapist making sure the district and only the districts interests were in mind when deciding on therapy, and trapped her into verbally proving it.
The minion's regular classroom teacher was there as well, and nearly laughing at the sheer silliness of most of it.  The poor man had to catch himself from snorting in laughter as the speech therapist waffled through her explanations and I had to tell her to make up her mind.
In the end, the only thing that really matters is that the minion is getting the services he needs, re-evaluated by someone who we hope is less of an idiot, and his interests are being looked after by people who are always on his side.  Now, I'm going to see if I can find me a white hat to ride off into this weekend's sunset with.

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Birthdays are the one day a year that are uniquely yours. It's your day to do what you want, with who you want, where you want. You get to choose what you eat, the flavor of the cake that's supporting the bonfire that has become the candles for your ever increasing age. And, if you are really lucky, you even get to pick what flavor ice cream you're going to chase the cake with. For the husbands big 4-0, he's managed to get himself a weekend away, in the middle of no where at a B&B. His biggest issue this week was figuring out what he needed to pack.  That lasted for about 30 seconds, then I hopped on Polyvore.
Being the great wife that I am, I decided it would be much easier to put together some spring outfits for him now so I wasn't doing this the night before we have to leave. I dug through his closet to see what I could find in lighter colors and materials, mixing and matching in some warmer pieces. The colors I picked will look good on just about anyone, and really good on you pasty people who look as though you're sporting that beautiful computer room tan. Which reminds me, I should pack some sunscreen too.

For me, I mixed some of my summery pieces in with warmer winter layers.  I'm sure to stay comfortable that way, and not turn into a shivery, teeth chattering popsicle.  Remember, if you want things to be a little more casual push or roll the sleeves up, guys.  You can easily change the feel of an entire outfit based on the accessories you put with it.  I'm also sticking with the classics this year.  Fewer trendy pieces.  
Look for a closet slim down post in the coming weeks!
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He is not mentally retarded!  I don't know how many times I said that in the seven years it took to get an autism diagnosis, or how many times I added on that whoever was evaluating him was mentally challenged.
I knew Connor was smart.  He was reading at about 18 months, when he taught himself.  He could easily follow multi-step instructions before he should have been able to.  But, and there is always a but, he had a few really crazy quirks.  As a baby, he had to be in motion.  All The Time. We bought a battery powered baby swing and a few sets of rechargeable batteries, just to withstand the first year.  He wanted some sort of stimulation, all the time.  It was exhausting.
Most kids follow this nice pattern of learning.  Connor didn't, he was all over the place.  He could do puzzles before he was a year old, but was nearly two before I heard him say mama.  He mastered sign language before he could use a spoon.  Potty training?  Forget it.  It wasn't on his radar until he was 4.  He wouldn't tolerate certain noises, hates fluorescent lights, some food would make him gag or vomit, lightening storms are still cause for alarm.  No matter who I took him to, I got one of two answers.  He's fine, he'll grow out of that or you will probably have to institutionalize him when he's older, he's just mentally retarded.
Show your support and understanding
Wear blue, or head to Home Depot and pick up
some blue light bulbs or a lantern
It's no wonder it took me 7 years,  3 pediatric practices, 2 Psychologists and having him get thrown out of 1 school (because he refused to go near a guy with a weed whacker - don't ask) to actually have someone say - 'Yup, that's autism'.  
Having a child with autism is not like having a child with diabetes.  There is no guide book, no, do this, stick to it and 99% of the time everything is well managed.  Autism is more like fishing your kid out of the dreaded ball pit at Chuck E Cheese.  You don't know what's on or under any of those balls, and you really, really don't want to, and every time you go there, it's something different.  The autism your kid gets is different from the autism another kid gets.  It's some twisted version of neural development roulette.  We got speech delays, lack of eye contact, sensitivity to light and noise, need for stimulation (via hand flapping, mostly), compulsive behavior, ritualistic behavior, social impairment...blah, blah, blah.  What does all that mean?
It means, he learns differently, we teach and talk differently.  He needs a schedule to live and function day to day in, so we make one.  Just like all other nearly 14 year olds, he has chores, homework, responsibilities and isn't fond of showers, but they're on the schedule and there are repercussions for not following the schedule, so he does it.  I carry ear plugs in my purse if we go somewhere that might have loud noises, and sunglasses and hats are a must.  We practice social behavior, we remind him to use his words, look at people when he talks to them, sit on your hands if feel the need to wave them around.  We phrase things differently and have to ask questions a number of ways sometimes until they can be understood and or answered.  Each day brings some new challenge, and sometimes a victory or two as well.  
If you've gotten this far, and don't have an autistic child, all I can say is thank you for caring enough to learn a bit more.  Most people don't care unless a subject affects them directly.  The truth is, it probably does, they just don't know it.  In the U.S. alone, 1 in 88 children has autism.  1 in 54 are the stats for boys.  The people who have autism aren't mentally deficient, they just interact with the world differently.  
I hope you take the time this month, to see the world a bit differently.  Let yourself imagine what it would be like if you could only interact with your loved ones through 20 different phrases, or had to relate everything you learn to pokemon characters, because that's what you're fixated on right now.  The next time you're at the grocery store imagine how hard it would be to comparison shop because the lights are too bright (think hangover bright, and pulsing), four other people's conversations are disrupting your concentration and the store has changed which aisle and shelf the only chips you eat are kept.  You can't move on to the next item on the list because you must do the list in order and if you can't, you have to start over.
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