Bucket List, Check!

My number one bucket list item is officially checked off: I attended my first Europe concert this past weekend. It only took twenty-five years and nearly a thousand miles of driving, but people have always told me I’m patient.

Photo by my husband.

Photo by my husband.

Yes, Europe is in America, at least for a few more days. My family and I made a road trip to the in-laws in Illinois (post about that soon) and after a few days of visiting, my husband and I left the kids with the grandparents and drove two and a half hours over to Indianapolis to catch Europe’s show at The Vogue. The venue’s neighborhood is an awesome mix of restaurants, local shops, and good vibes along the river—a great place to walk around and people watch.
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We got there early and I had fun talking (well, mostly listening) to the other diehard fans that were lined up. Listening to the stories of the blue collar Mid-west rock fans was great, and there was even a guy from down under in the group. The experience reminded me that I need to get out of my usual circle of book nerds, homeschooling moms, and church friends and expose myself to a wider variety of people more often. It’s good for the soul.
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And so was the music!
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Being third in line landed me a center stage spot when the doors opened. Before hand, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be stage right, near John Norum and his guitar skills, or stage left, next to the bass (John Levén) and keys (Mic Michaeli), but since the stage was small, I opted for center. That put me first row, in front of Ian Haugland’s drum kit and Joey Tempest’s microphone, when he wasn’t moving around with it.
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Plus, I was in the middle of the vertically challenged. But when you wait twenty-five years to see your favorite band in concert, you don’t feel bad about blocking people’s view. The show was fabulous! I’ve never gotten front row before, so that was a bonus, but I also got my first guitar pick—the leader singer/guitarist pressed into right into my hand. Thanks, Joey!
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Great sound.
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Seventeen song set list.
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Awesome band!

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show--too busy enjoying the moment.)

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show–too busy enjoying the moment.)

Movies and Me

This past month has been theater going, as promised. I’ve been to four movies in as many weeks, which is twice as many as I usually attend in a full year.

First up was Ender’s Game. Since I’d recently read the novel—as well as Ender’s Shadow—the storyline was a bit disappointing. Chop and hack galore. But the actors were great and it was visually impressive, as well as moving. My eyes were moist once, maybe twice. I think I hid it well.

Thor: The Dark World was epic! I’d waited almost two decades for Thor on the big screen, and all the movies featuring him have been awesome, but this one was fabulous. I cried once, and my husband didn’t tease me about it until afterwards.thor dark world

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was amazing. I went to this one alone and used my hoodie sleeve to wipe the tears running down my face more times than I can count.

Frozen was our Tuesday bargain today. I took two out of the three kidlets and we had the theater to ourselves, which is always good. My teen with autism isn’t the most quiet movie watcher and the little princess switched seats often. I was moved to tears during the “Let it Go” musical scene, even while the youngest was climbing around my lap.

Notice the pattern?

I’m sure I’ll shed more tears when I make it to The Book Thief, and probably for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. That should hold me over through New Year’s.

Have you enjoyed any of the new releases? Do you cry during movies? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Diva of the Day

As noted in the previous post, my family attended a wedding in June. We drove 800 miles to central Illinois to see my sister-in-law’s union to her boyfriend of several years. Hooray for them!
A family road trip with three kids is one thing.
Having your four-year-old diva surpass half a dozen meltdowns in one day is another!
I warned them, truly I did.
But I’m not sure they believed the level of Drama Queen perfection my child can reach. Then the wedding day struck. I sent her ahead of me with her cousin so she could keep her hair appointment with the other girls in the wedding party.100_3102
A few hours later there was a phone call during the worst—not the first—fit asking for me to try calming her down while in the back ground I heard “someone needs to get her to breath so she doesn’t start hyperventilating.” Needless to say, I arrived soon after.100_3121
I will say that she did well during the ceremony, it was just those meltdowns before—and one or two after—that brought out many “candid photo ops” as the professional photographer called them.
The wedding wouldn’t have been complete without the cake and flowers. My in-laws are fabulously talented.100_3148
One of the good memories of road life is the down time on the way there and back. In closing, here’s a photo of the oldest (autism spectrum son) doing what he loves best at bedtime.100_3226

Autism Conference

Yesterday I attended my first autism conference. I’ve gone to workshops and support group meetings, but never a large event. It was three days, but I could only make it to one. I chose the final day because John Elder Robison was a presenter. Yes, that means I missed the iconic Temple Grandin, but I was not disappointed. Not in Mr. Robison anyway. He redeemed the emotions and interest that the first speaker lacked/lost.
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Back to the beginning… I started off early and drove to The University of West Florida, just me and my iPod with the “Wonder Rock” playlist on shuffle. (Translation: lots of Europe, Boston, and Mitch Malloy with a sprinkling of other assorted rockers prominently from the 1970s-1990s.) The campus—sprawling with space between buildings and acres of natural landscape left in tack—was lovely and the fact that their logo has a nautilus was, in my mind, a nod of serendipity to my adventure.

Mr. Robison was hilarious and thought provoking. His passion for sharing his stories (Hello, three books!) shined as well as his social quirks—like pacing around the stage when his family was doing their Q&A. And his family was great, too! Lots of insight and they answered a question for me: What’s the value of getting an Asperger’s diagnosis as an adult? (Which now, with the new DSM-V manual, would be “autism” since the Asperger’s label was removed and it doesn’t differentiate between the levels on the spectrum.)
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I’m leaning toward Mr. Robison’ practical response, though greater peer acceptance and an official credential would be nice. The liability/cost of medical/life insurance when you are diagnosed is greater. Let’s hear it for logical thinkers!

One tool that Mr. Robison recommended was an Autism-Spectrum Quotient test that was posted by Wired magazine many years back. I took it and tested forty-two. No surprise to me. My husband scored seventeen—we’re a case study in opposites attract.

The conference was educational/life affirming. Lots of Aspies to hear from and several things were reinforced to me about what I can do to encourage my ASD son in his growth. What, you ask? Never give up because learning and development continues into adulthood and let him follow his passions/obsessions. Plus, I got two books autographed but I was too shy to ask for a photo.

I’ll diffidently go to another event where any of the Robisons are featured speakers. The day was well spent but I’m curious to see how my friends score on the AQ test. Leave your number in the comments if you’re feeling brave.

Alphabet Blog

I’ve taken this from writer buddy Stephanie, who took it from another friend, etc but I changed a few alphabet words to mix it up a bit.

A. Age: I’m a bicentennial baby. You do the math.
B. Birth Order: 3rd out of 4. Third is the nerd.
C. Chore that you hate: Cleaning tubs/showers. And bathing kids is my least favorite “mommy chore.” So glad they are getting older…
D. Dogs: They’re nice, but I don’t want to personally own one at this point in my life.
E. Essential start to your day: Alarm clock or kidlets.
F. Favorite color: Purple, with turquoise a close second.
G. Gold or Silver: Silver—or white gold.
H. Height: 5’12” baby!
I. Inspirations: Crisp, autumn-like weather with a nice breeze and music.
J. Job title: Which one? Wife, Mother, Writer, Daughter, Sister, Aunt…
K. Kids: Three kidlets.
L. Live: Mobile, Alabama… or is that live—I love live music! Concerts are the best!
 
M. Marriage Status: Married, with children.
N. Nicknames: Care Bear is the most common, from multiple sources.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Five times, three from childbirth.
P. Pet peeves: Dishonesty: lie, cheat, or hold back the truth and I will not trust you.
Q. Quote from a movie: “As you wish.” I swoon for Westley.
R. Right or left handed: Right, though I always wished I was a lefty.
S. Secrets: I’ll never tell.
T. Time you wake up: Whenever I’m needed.
U. UFOs: Possibly, but not necessarily with little green men…
V. Vegetable you hate: Canned red beets. GAG.
W. What makes you run late: Kidlets—1, 2, 3, or all.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Neck, back, and that lousy right ankle—I’ve sprained it three times.
Y. Yummy food that you make: Cookies! Nothing fancy, just the basics: chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, peanut butter, etc.
Z. Zoos or Aquariums: I love a good aquarium. It feels like I’m in a time warp, in another world, and then the sun is SOOO bright when I step back outside—WHAM! Welcome back to Earth.
 

A List of all Things NEVER

A List of all Things NEVER

Whenever I say never I usually break my own rule or find an exception to the rule but the following are pretty much set as absolutes for me now.
1.NEVER trust people who name “Lucy” as their favorite Peanuts character.
2.NEVER judge a parent because his/her child is screaming/etc in a public place. If you feel the need to judge, check how the parent is REACTING to the child.
3.NEVER leave pens unattended—even for a few seconds—while a toddler is in the room.
4.NEVER rely on your memory once you hit twenty-five—write everything down.
5.NEVER allow your checking account to get below $10.
6.NEVER leave a bag of bird seed outside over-night.
7.NEVER walk for a prolonged period on cement in the summer while barefoot.
8.NEVER assume your husband will feed the children while he’s babysitting.
9.NEVER forget that the habits you despise in other people are usually those you have, too.
10. NEVER go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Okay, so I borrowed the last one. I just love that movie… if you don’t know what it is you’re missing something!
Tell me your experiences regarding these topics and add your own, too. Be sure to let me know if you want me to expand on any of these on future blogs.

Week After Christmas

Writing Exercise, edited for privacy:
The Week after Christmas Adapted from the classic poem written by Clement Moore
‘Twas the week after Christmas and all through the room the natives were restless, awaiting the moon.
Stockings, once hung on the fish tank with care, caused the oscar to wonder why they’re still there. Toys and messes were strewn across the floor, trains, markers, and papers galore.
A and N were hustled to bed, while visions of presents danced in their heads. On the sofa was J, sprawled out like a pet, flipping through channels and surfing the net.
With a sigh of relief I settled into my seat got comfy and cozy and propped up my feet. And S in her jammies, looking so sweet, had just settled in for a long bite to eat.
The hustle and bustle was starting to slow and the birth of a new year will soon be a glow. From our family to yours we wish a good night and the light of the gospel to light up your life.