Friday, December 30, 2011

DoucheFest 2011: The Year's Top Ten Douches

In a joint production of Mom-In-A-Million and stark. raving. mad. mommy., we bring you the Top Ten Douches of 2011.  (Cue jazz hands.)

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for:

Doug Hutchinson and his "teen" bride, Courtney Stodden.
#10. Doug Hutchinson
This is the skeevy actor who at age 51, married 16-year-old Courtney Stodden. There is something very, very wrong with this whole situation. First of all, we suspect that Courtney Stodden is actually 45 years old.  It seems impossible that any teenager could look quite so, um ... unwholesome as Courtney Stodden.  She's got the damaged hair and weathered skin of a much older woman.  However, she's got the frosted eyeshadow of a 12-year-old, so who's to say?  No matter what her age is, Hutchinson consistently looks like her douchebag creeper grandfather.  And even if their love is real? Their Christmas card photo, with Stodden in a bikini and Hutchinson dressed as Santa, put them over the edge into holiday douchedom extraordinaire. -SRMM

Rick Perry attacks a corn dog in Iowa. image: politicalkudzu
 #9. Rick Perry
 I would like to take a moment to remember the late great Molly Ivins who used to refer to Governor Perry as the Coiffure or Governor Goodhair. I would also like to steal those labels. Governor Goodhair is trying to become Coiffure in Chief for all of us. His dedication to his campaign is admirable. His dedication to his state? Not so much. Texas experienced tragic wildfires this year and the Coiffure debated as Austin burned. I don’t know who was managing the crisis at home while the governor was appearing on tv in GOP debates, but it wasn’t the man elected to do that job. Add in the fact that his budget cuts led to firefighters having to pay for their own equipment and I think they should have given the Governor a squeeze in the direction of those fires and used his essence of douche to extinguish them. -MIAM

For shame. Image: USA Today.
#8. More Than One Douchebag at Dover Air Force Base
We're naming the chain of command that allowed hundreds of military personnel's remains to be disrespectfully dumped into a landfill at Dover Air Force Base as our Douchebag Number 8.  These people deserve the middle-finger salute for dishonoring those who have died in service to our country, and for making their families' heartbreak even worse. -SRMM

#7. Everyone Running for Office in 2012
Politicians win this spot for spending obscene amounts of money on annoying television ads when our schools can't afford textbooks, copier paper, and teacher salaries. Granted, Herman Cain appears to have spent approximately 87 cents making what was arguably the worst political ad of all time, featuring his campaign manager Mark Block taking a long drag off a cigarette.  (On the other hand, Mark Block is so creepy that it really reinforced to kids that they should never, ever smoke.)  

How about we agree to vote for the first one who dumps his or her warchest o' dough into the public school system? -SRMM (Special addendum from MIAM: Also, it's totally whack that the campaign for the 2012 election has been going on for a year already.)

Yes, Ashton. It's a ring. Used to mean something.  Image: Access Hollywood.
#6. Lying, Cheating Spouses
 I’ve been cheated on. It sucks monkey balls. After I found out, I asked the boyfriend in question why he didn’t just break up with me before diddling around. He had no good answer and I’m betting infideli-douches Kobe Bryant, Ashton Kutcher, and Arnold Schwartzenegger don’t either. These guys has kick-ass wives at home but that still couldn’t keep their zippers aloft long enough to file for divorce before acting like creepy horndogs. Their wives, however, are all taking the Elin Nordergern high road. Every one of them is a class act in the face of epic douchery. Brava, ladies, brava. -MIAM

Words with Friends Douches: Alec Baldwin. Image:  Hollywood Reporter.
#5. Alec Baldwin
Oh Alec. You can narrate Thomas the Train, you can frolic with Tina Fey on 30 Rock, you can do hilarious web videos supporting marriage equality in New York. You can do all that and still, the memory of the horrible phone messages you left your daughter linger in our memory. Which is why no one was surprised about the details of your temper tantrum on an airplane when asked to comply with FAA regulations and power down your phone mid-Words With Friends game once the door was closed . Insulting the flight attendant on Twitter after she removed you and your phone from the plane wasn’t too smooth either. And then you shut down your Twitter account, which is tantamount of a confession. Oh Alec, you’re a douche in cool guy clothing but a douche all the same. -MIAM

Nothing says "You can be anything you want to be!" to your daughter like this shirt from JC Penney.
#4. Children's clothing designers who think being stupid and/or trashy = adorable. 
You know what? We expect this crap from Forever 21.  We didn't expect it (until this year) from JC Penney and Gymboree.  This year, Gymboree sold bodysuits for baby boys with "smart like daddy."  For girls, there was only "pretty like Mommy."  Thanks, Gymboree, for setting the stage for our kids to value only looks in girls, and smarts only in boys.  At the top of this dungpile is JC Penney, which may have had the single douchiest clothing item of the year: a shirt for girls with "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me" emblazoned on it.  

It was also a banner year for douchetastic designers of really, really inappropriate children's shoes.  Here's a tip for children's shoe designers: if a little girl can't manage an actual buckle and must resort to Velcro, she does not need platform heels on her sandals.  Mmkay? -SRMM

Giggity. Image source:
#3. Anthony Weiner
Speaking of Twitter (see: Alec Baldwin), Anthony Weiner was responsible for the Tweet heard round the world.  The Honorable Representative from New York engaged in some non-legislative activity with a woman on the West Coast that included a junk shot sent to the whole Twitterverse, instead of as a DM to the intended recipient. Did I mention that the intended recipient was not Anthony’s wife? Who was pregnant at the time? Weiner tried to defend against the snowballing scandal as word of the, ahem, eponymous pictures circulated but alas. The Weiner was cooked. He admitted to the tweet and resigned from Congress.  But not to worry, despite one Weiner shrinking away, there are plenty of other douches on Capitol Hill. -MIAM

Do you get the feeling the groom was kind of an afterthought?  Image: Celebuzz.
#2. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (tie)
So, what’s worse? Selecting a potential spouse as if he were a handbag and treating him with the same regard as an accessory? Or marrying a woman you went out with, not out of a genuine interest in dating her, but because the producers of her reality show asked you to be a prop date her? The Humphries/Kardashian nuptials were a multi-million dollar charade, apparently, and they culminated in a divorce filing only 72 days later. Cries of hoax reverberated around the Internet and Kim and Kris were accused of faking the whole thing. My theory? Left to their own devices they would have broken up when they discovered that they have nothing in common but a film crew. But the reality TV world accelerated their courtship into a sprint down the aisle and a scramble to un-do the I do. Also? I betcha something in the pre-nup kicked in at 90 days and Kim bolted before that happened. Regardless, Kim and Kris and the reality TV machinery, in their douchery, maltreated the institution of marriage in a way the gay community never would. Just sayin’.  -MIAM

Drumroll please ...

Chaffins (left), and Wilt (right).
Graphic by stark. raving. mad. mommy. Original image: ABC News.

#1. Ohio Special Education Teacher Christie Wilt, and Aide Kelly Chaffins
These two were found guilty this year of bullying a 14-year-old girl with special needs in their classroom.  The girl's parents' concerns were initially dismissed by the Miami Trace Local School District.  The district's superintendent said that the parents' accusations "bordered on slander and harrassment."  The girl's parents then made the decision to have their daughter wired, and recorded the teacher and aide bullying the girl for four days.  The teacher and aide were recorded as saying things like, "are you that damn dumb?" and "no wonder no one likes you." 

Faced with that evidence, the school district has settled a lawsuit with the family.  The district also requested, and received, Chaffins' resignation.  The district did not, however, terminate or suspend Wilt, the teacher in charge of the classroom.  She has been required to complete eight hours of classes which will teacher how to stop bullying and spot child abuse. 

Sadly, we don't believe those classes will be capable of teaching her not to be a douche. -SRMM

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Book of Doucheronomy

We asked for your nominations for the biggest douches of 2011, and boy did you come through.  If you can't remember who the biggest douches of 2010 were, here's our list.

I have to say, things were a little more straightforward in 2010, and it was easier to pick the douches. Sadly, there was a lot more pure evil in 2011.  Therefore, we've had to create some additional categories for this year.  

Here are our new categories.  Tomorrow we'll run the Top Ten Douches of 2011!

Satan's Minions: Too Evil to Be Douchey
Douche is far too good a word for these evil bastards.

Image: Celebitchy
Casey Anthony
If we had deemed her merely douche, she would be the kind of douche made from a bracing combination of battery acid and 150 proof moonshine. Instead she transcends feminine hygiene and falls into the Pure Evil category. While a jury of her peers found insufficient evidence to convict her of the murder of her child, the rest of us looked into her face and saw a cold black heart. I don’t know what happened to that poor sweet girl of hers but I do know that Casey doesn’t seem to care nearly as much as the rest of us do. -MIAM

Everyone Involved in the Penn State - Jerry Sandusky Scandal
Mike McQueary (inset), and
Jerry Sandusky.
Image: radaronline.
This is a story that just gets more and more disturbing.  Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football coach, has (at last count) been charged with 52 counts of molesting boys. Mike McQueary, the grown-ass man who allegedly witnessed Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy, did nothing to stop the assault, choosing instead to run home and tell his daddy, a Penn State professor. Please note that McQueary's father didn't, at that point, shake his son and scream "what the hell is wrong with you?" and then call the cops himself.

Head coach Joe Paterno delayed reporting McQueary's report to authorities because he didn't want to interfere in anybody's weekend.  The man Paterno told about the abuse, Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley, didn't think it was a crime, so he didn't call police. What the f**k is wrong with these people?  Exactly what would have to happen before they would think it was a crime?  And Paterno didn't want to ruin anyone's weekend?  Are you freaking kidding me?

I know it's Pennsylvania, where all things Penn State and all things JoePa have been revered for decades.  But there are just too many people who failed to man up and do the right thing. -SRMM

The Coveted Lifetime Achievement Award in Douchiness
Kate Gosselin
There’s probably something disingenuous about me writing about Kate Gosselin because I never watched any iteration of her reality shows. I don’t care whether she let her kids use markers or if her ex-husband wore Ed Hardy or all of that garbage. What I cared about was that these parents were parading their children around for all the world to see every week. I’m no shrink (though my grandfather was so that makes me, like, a shrink twice removed or something, right?) but I’m pretty sure that nothing good can come from being forced into the public eye before the age on consent without even a script between you and millions of judgy snitches gawping at you for the price of a cable subscription. 

And don’t get me started on the lack of union protections for reality tv kids: a child actor on SAG overseen scripted show would have an individual contract, their salary put into trust until they’re 18, tutors on set, and limits to their working hours and set conditions. Not so for the Gosselin kids. They’re part of the product unit Kate and her erstwhile husband concocted and they’re not treated as individual professionals despite their parents essentially making them into mini-ATMs. But we all know already why putting kids on television is a bad idea (Dana Plato, ring any bells?). What Kate is proving guilty of is making her kids think that being on television is preferable to not being on television. 

Kate went on some talk show and maligned her ex-husband for his stated desire to get cameras out of his (and presumably the kids’) life by sneering if he wants a mediocre life, that’s fine but she wants better and TV is a good way to get it. Better, like those hair extensions, plastic surgery, and private security for the kids whose safety you compromised by putting them on TV, Miss Kitty? Sure. That sounds awesome. Oh and thanks for calling my extension-less, unaltered, private and secure non-televised life mediocre. I’m sure all your fans wanted to hear that.  

The final heartbreaking straw that let the douche flood loose was when I saw the clips of her kids saying good-bye at the close of their series. One of her girls thanked the audience for making them what they are instead of some boring family sitting on the couch at home.  So, these kids think that their value plummeted when the camera crew went home? They feel reduced to being boring and unspecial by virtue of not being on TV? Kate apparently tied her kids self-worth to being part of a pop-culture phenomenon that ruined their parents marriage, compromised their privacy and safety, and ultimately was going to come to an end. How do those kids feel about themselves today? Thankfully, we don’t know. Hopefully their douche mom is teaching them the value of a more ordinary life. – MIAM

Dishonorable Mentions
Special Education Staff at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg, KY
The mother of a nine-year-old special needs student with autism and ADHD, after being called to come pick up her son for his "unruly" behavior, arrived at the school to find him stuffed into a duffel bag in the hallway.  Wait ... what?  Yes.  She found her son in a bag in the hallway.  Frankly, this incident would have found its way onto the Satan's Minions list, except everything is still being investigated.

Special Education Staff at Exley Elementary School in Katy, TX
Apparently, staff at this school thinks it's okay to shove vinegar-soaked cotton balls into the mouths of special needs students as "aversive therapy."  Because that's not a choking hazard at all.  There's a pretty obvious connection between vinegar-soaked cotton balls and this school is being run by douchebags.  We have some ideas on where those teachers and aides can shove those vinegar-soaked cotton balls.

Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for the Official Top Ten Douches of 2011 List!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I'm busy wrapping every damn thing at the last minute.  Because I am an idiot.

If you're in need of some funny, check out my friend Pregnant Chicken's awesome round-up of creepy Santa photos.

If you're in need of some funny but totally sick of all things holly-jolly, check out Chase McFadden's hilarious S**t Moms Say video on NickMom.

If, on the other hand, you have a desperate need to watch Darth Vader conduct a flash mob singing "Carol of the Bells," you can do that right here.

Hope everyone has a meltdown-free holiday!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Too Many of These Stories

No apple for these teachers.
The mother of a fourth-grade autistic boy, after being called to come pick up her child for misbehavior, entered her child's school to find him IN A DUFFEL BAG IN THE HALLWAY.

Let me wait for that to sink in.

The Harrodsburg, KY school called it a "therapy bag."  In the ten years that my four children have been getting sensory therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, I have never heard of a duffel bag being used as for "therapy."  My kids have had to crawl through stretchy fabric tunnels (sometimes called socks).  I think there's a stretchy fabric thing that can be closed with Velcro that some therapists use in sensory therapy.  But it's not something that closes with a drawstring, as this mom describes.  The original news report is here, and it's covered in more detail here.

I am weeping as I type this. No child should be treated this way. No parent should live in fear that her child is unsafe in school.  U.S. laws say that all of our children are entitled to a free and appropriate education.  At no point is it appropriate to put a child in a damn "to-go" bag after calling a parent to pick him up.

This comes the heels of a September, 2011 story of special education staff at Ohio's Miami Trace School District being audiotaped bullying a special needs student.  In November, news broke about special education staff in Katy, TX, shoving vinegar-soaked cotton balls into the mouths of autistic children as "aversive therapy."

As a stay-at-home mom of an autistic five-year-old, believe me, I get that working with special needs children can be frustrating and difficult.  I'm sure that many schools are understaffed in all areas, including special education.  I know it's a hard job. I know.

But you know what?  I'm with Little Dude 21 hours a day, and never once has it occurred to me to put him in a f**king bag. I have never thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I should shove a vinegar-soaked cotton ball in Little Dude's mouth when he misbehaves."

I really don't even know what the hell kind of mind dreams up these punishments. I do know that it's people who should not be working with children, ever.

It's painfully clear that there is something immensely lacking in the standards and training for special education staff in this country.  And I have to wonder, in all these cases, why other teachers and staff at those schools didn't step up to the plate and say, "hey, that's not right."  Did no school staff see this child in a duffel bag in the hallway?

The most terrifying part of this story is that I don't believe this would ever happen in my son's school.  And I bet this boy's parents wouldn't have believed it either, until it happened.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Hanukkah from SRMM

There are so many reasons I'm enjoying this meme.
So probably I should have wished you a Happy Hanukkah a couple days ago, when it was the first day of Hanukkah, but whatevs.  I figure if you're a mom slogging through eight freaking days of gift-giving, you could probably use the boost right about now.

We're not Jewish, but we feel that it's really important to raise our children to be appreciative of other cultures.  Especially when jelly doughnuts are involved.  

Besides chowing down on latkes, chocolate coins, and jelly doughnuts, this year I've decided to teach my kids one Yiddish word a night for eight nights.  I was born in Brooklyn, so I grew up hearing a lot of Yiddish.  Unfortunately, some of my favorite Yiddish words (schmuck, putz) are not appropriate to teach to the kids.  But there are still plenty of family-friendly ones. So far they've learned schlub and gelt.  (If you'd like to learn some handy Yiddish, here's a good link.)

Last year I posted a whole bunch of my favorite Hanukkah videos.  It has all the classics: Elmo's Hanukkah with Veronica Monica, the Neil Diamond version of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, the Maccabeats, and more.

Here's the latest from the Maccabeats.  It's actually a cover of the Matisyahu song "Miracle" that I posted last year.

Note: Wait -- was that Blossom?  Why, yes. Yes it was.  Mayim Bialik and the Maccabeats are involved in a project called Miracle Match, raising money for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.  A donation of $18 gets you a free MP3 download of the song, and the chance to win some other cool prizes.

Happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ten Facts About My Super Glamorous Life

Pretty much, my life is full of sparkles and unicorns.  Sometimes I can't even believe how incredibly freaking glamorous my life truly is. To give you just a little glimpse, I present to you, Ten Facts About My Super Glamorous Life.

1. I have chronic nosebleeds. It's nothing serious, and yes my doctor knows about it.  It's just wicked annoying. And disgusting. And happens pretty much all winter long.

2. The only long-term solution is to have a vein inside my nose cauterized. WITH FIRE. Or something. Cigarette lighter from a 1978 Honda Civic?  I don't know what they use.

I'm totally glamorous like this.  Except for the part
about the seaweed-infused nose tampon.
3. Generally, I try to avoid putting fire inside my head.  Granted, I don't have a lot of experience with this, but it sounds bad.  I know that when I finally had my horrible Swine Flu diagnosed, the test involved a nurse jamming a Q-Tip of Fire up into my nose and swabbing my brain with it.  That sucked hard enough that I'm not looking for any kind of repeat.

4. To try to prevent the nosebleeds, I snort saline spray up my nose many times a day.  I'm like a cross between someone who's a little too into yoga and a cokehead.

5. At a certain point, the saline nasal spray system fails me, and then I suddenly go from "slightly irritated" to "multiple nosebleeds a day that look like something out of a really cheap horror flick."  That magical point was yesterday.

6. There is no good time for a nosebleed to start.  Particularly bad times include while trying to get the kids ready for school and while changing someone's Pull-Up.

7. There are two ways to deal with my nosebleeds: lie on the couch for 40 minutes; or jam what is essentially a very special nose tampon into my head.  I do not have 40 minutes to lie on the couch.

8. The nose tampons are coated with some kind of seaweed extract.  Also, they smell funny.

9. I used my last very special nose tampon yesterday. I went to four damn stores to find more of the stuff, but it's apparently is a rare commodity in Pennsylvania.  They sold it everywhere in Texas, so props to you Texas.  Cannot freaking find it here.

10. I just had to order my very special nose tampons online.  The nose tampon company doesn't offer any kind of expedited shipping.  So I'm just screwed for however long it takes for the things to get here.

I bet you feel just a little bit better about your life right now. You're welcome.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Broke-Ass Holiday Fun

We weep for you, Kobe.
Um, not really.
I saw in the news (okay, fine, on TMZ) that Kobe Bryant, the poor guy, isn't worth nearly as much money as we all thought.  Instead of being worth $400 million, he's only worth about $150 million.

I know. Here's a tissue.  I'll wait so you can gain your composure.

Of course, Kobe's wife Vanessa has hired one of the most prominent celeb divorce lawyers, and there was no pre-nup, so I have a feeling Kobe's cheating ass is about to be worth a lot less than $150 million.

Still, I doubt he's shopping for stocking stuffers at the Dollar Store like I am.

Today I'm over at NickMom with my post, Top 9 Reasons My Broke-Ass Holiday is Kinda Awesome. If you're also trying to find ways to convince your family that Ramen noodles are totally festive, you might enjoy  commiserating.  

Check it out and leave a comment or share it if you like it!  

Speaking of broke-ass holiday fun, last week I was on Redbook's The Motherboard sharing my ideas for cheap (but totally hot) holiday presents couples can exchange.  If seeing your husband do the dishes is like porn for you, you might like that post as well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Aspergerism: "Access Mode"

A quick little story for you: the other day on the playground after school, a little girl from Little Dude's class wouldn't give him the time of day.  Little Dude kept trying to follow her around, to see if he could play with her, but she was busy with other (neurotypical) friends.

Finally, Little Dude came back to me.  He wasn't sad, just confused.

"She talks to me in class," he said. "Why won't she talk to me now?"

"Well, maybe she's excited to see friends that she doesn't get to see during the school day, so she's busy," I offered.

"Nah," he said.  "She's just not in access mode."

"Access mode?" I've never heard him use that expression before.  It's definitely not something we say around the house. I have no idea where he picked it up. (Star Wars? Is R2D2 ever in "access mode"?)

"Yeah.  When people are in access mode, you can talk to them.  When they're not in access mode, you can't."

He shrugged it off and ran to play on the slide by himself.

May he always be this immune to social hurt.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program (updated with video)

I normally avoid all things political on this blog.  Autism doesn't care what color your skin is, what your income is, if you vote liberal or conservative, or whether you vote at all.  Frankly, I'm so up to my eyeballs in the reality of my day-to-day life, that I don't have time to give a crap.

Oh, except for that time Sharron Angle, a Senate candidate from Nevada, railed against insurance for both maternity care and autism,  putting "air quotes" around autism in a speech, as if we're making this stuff up.  That pissed me off.  Happily, the good people of Nevada remembered her douchiness when she was looking for "votes."
Rachel Kenyon and her 5-year-old daughter,
who has PDD-NOS and 4q-Deletion Syndrome.
So. Much. Cuteness.

So, yeah, I like to keep politics out of this blog.  But I'm making an exception after being contacted by Army wife Rachel Kenyon (of the blog Stim City) and asked to support Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA) - H.R. 2288.

Pretty much if you can use the words military, kids, and autism in the same sentence, I'm going to be on board. I served in the U.S. Army.  In my experience, no matter what your symptoms were, the Army's approach to medical care was to issue two prescription-strength ibuprofen and orders to get back to work.  The process of getting the two ibuprofen tablets usually involved a minimum of 18 military acronyms.  I can't imagine what it takes to access autism services for your child in that setting.

Rachel wasn't asking for me to support her efforts with CMKAA financially.  That's a good thing because our money situation is always wicked tight.  I can't give to every charity I would like to give to.  But I can send an email to support a really good cause.  Emails are free.  (Unlike autism services.)  All Rachel was asking me to do was send one email, with one click.

I sent the email, but I'm going to do one better, and ask you to consider supporting CMKAA, too.  I read up on it, and here's what I learned:
  • There are 22,000 children of military families affected by autism.  
  • Less than 10 percent of those children are getting the services they need.  
  • CMKAA would streamline the acronym-filled process for military families to access services for their autistic children through TRICARE, the military's healthcare system.
  • It would also remove the extremely stringent cap on services that can be received.  
  • H.R. 2288 was introduced last June by Reps. John Larson (D) of Connecticut and Walter Jones (R) of North Carolina. See? It's delightfully bi-partisan.
The bill was initially referred to the House Committee on Armed Services, and then was referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel on July 19.

And there it sits.

Rachel's husband, a U.S. Army Sergeant Major,
came home on leave a day after their daughter was born.
He returned to Afghanistan 14 days later.
And sits.  While 22,000 children of military personnel are affected with autism, and struggling to get the services they need.  Children of men and women who have literally volunteered to die for us if necessary.

Dude. Being a military parent (spouse or servicemember) is really hard.  Being the parent of an autistic child is really hard.  Put those two things together and you have a recipe for an olive drab suckfest that will stretch your marriage and your bank accounts to the freaking brink.

If you've ever seen the Schoolhouse Rock episode "I'm Just a Bill," you know what happens to bills that sit in committee: they die.  You know what keeps them alive?  Nagging your elected representative.  Come on -- you're a mom.  You probably nag people in your sleep.  How hard can it be?

I've already emailed my Congressman, and let him know that as a veteran of the United States Army, as a mother, and as a voter in his district, I support Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA) - H.R. 2288.

The Sergeant Major and his
little girl.
If you'd like to lend your support, you can click here to let your Congressperson know that you'd like them to support H.R. 2288, too.  Rachel has made it incredibly easy to do it -- in one click.  You don't even have to know who your Congressperson is.  You put in your ZIP Code and the website will tell you!  Rachel has helpfully provided a template letter, so you can just fill in your name and the Congressperson's name.

It's so easy.

Unlike being a serviceperson struggling to help his or her autistic child.

One click.

All photos used with permission, courtesy of Rachel Kenyon and You can read more about Rachel, her family, and their military life here.

If you a military family with an autistic child, or just want to follow the news on CMKAA, you can follow American Military Families Autism Support online, on Facebook, and on Twitter

* * * * * * *

What's that? You didn't click yet?  Here's a little video of a 5-year old, high-functioning autistic boy seeing his dad for the first time in eight months, after his dad returned home from Iraq.

Normally when you see these videos on the news, the dad (or mom) surprises their child in the middle of class, or in the middle of the gym at an assembly, or whatever.  Crowds like that don't usually work for autistic kids.  This reunion is all the more awesome for its simplicity.

::hands you tissue::

So, um, yeah, that was shameless of me to add this on.  But still ... could you click now?  Thanks.  You're awesome.

Thank you to Amy at Pregnant Chicken for sending me the video; and especially to Nikki, the mom in Virginia whose son and husband are in the video. xoxo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Who Are The Top 10 Douches of 2011?

It's the most wonderful time of the year! My friend Mom-In-A-Million and I are taking nominations for the Top Ten Douches of 2011.

Last year we crowned Jennifer Petkov, the woman who had cyber-bullied a dying little girl, as the year's Biggest Douche.  It was a tough choice, because there were just so many douches to choose from.   Kody Brown in particular seemed like a good spokesmodel for an Ed Hardy-Massengil product tie-in.  (See "Douchetopia: The Top Ten Douches of 2010" for the full list.)

2011 was not short on douches, either.  Last year we had a whole complicated voting process and frankly I don't think I can manage that this year, so Mom-In-A-Million and I are taking your nominations, and then we'll go through and come up with the top ten in a few weeks.

Remember, douches can be male or female.  Don't limit yourself to the obvious celebrity choices, like Charlie Sheen or the various members of the Kardashian family. There are some pretty clear choice in sports, politics (both left-wing and right-wing), and international intrigue.  Also, Mother Nature was pretty douchetastic this year, providing us with more natural disasters in one year than I can ever remember.

It'll be a tough job weeding through the biggest douches, but Mom-In-A-Million and I are ready to wrangle with such tough questions as: Is Jerry Sandusky a douchebag, or is that simply too good a word for someone who is (allegedly) evil incarnate?  What about the 27-year-old guy who saw something happening in the Penn State locker room shower, and instead of intervening/beating the crap out of Sandusky, he ran to tell his father?  Is cowardly the same as douchey?

So many questions, so many douches.

But the most important question is: who do you think were this year's biggest douchebags?  Leave your nominations in the comments!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm Going to Go Ahead and Be Petty

I hate to be petty.  I love all my children so much it takes my breath away.  And you know how I'm all about how awesome Little Dude's Asperger quirks are.  But let's face it.  Sometimes those quirks are really freaking annoying.

I know.  We're totally not supposed to say that.  Saying that some aspect of your special needs child's behavior is annoying is pretty much like saying, "Hi there! I totally suck as a mom. You should probably get Child Protection Services over here, because who knows what I might be capable of."

Also? I feel like if a mom comments that her typically-developing child is being annoying, it's totally okay.  So we special needs moms kind of get ripped off.

But it's true.

I'm not talking about the human beatbox thing, the flapping, the jumping, the spinning, or the obsession that has led to me knowing more about Star Wars than I ever wanted to know. I'm not talking about the fact that I've been banging my head against the brick wall of potty-training for over three years now.  I'm not even talking about the meltdowns.

It's the black-and-white thinking.  The total inability to deal with change. It's the fact that I can never, ever skip any component of his bedtime routine or serve cereal for dinner.

Mostly, what's annoying is that slacking is not an option in many areas of my life.  And that just sucks.  I really like slacking.  I am an excellent slacker when it comes to cleaning, laundry, lawn work, and generally getting crap done.  Slacking is awesome.  Calgon-take-me-away awesome.

Hell to the No
On Friday I did not want to make dinner.  Not that I ever want to make dinner.  I'm pretty much always opposed to it, but there's the whole issue of how cranky the kids would be if I didn't feed them. And I can't throw that job to my husband because he often doesn't get home until about 7:30, and we are not one of those cool families that can eat fashionably late.  I have a twenty-minute window of flexibility when it comes to feeding my kids dinner.  If it gets past 5:30, severe crankiness sets in.  If I waited until the Absent-Minded Professor came home, the kids would be doing that Exorcist spider walk on the damn ceiling.

The other thing is that we're being really tight-fisted careful with money right now, so ordering pizza was just not in the budget.  My attempt at slacking was trying to convince the kids that it was  "Make Your Own Peanut Butter Sandwich Night!" (The exclamation point makes it totally fun, right?  I even did the jazz hands to make it seem  more awesome.)

The girls were totally fine with it.  Little Dude's reaction was Hell to the No.  Except that information was not presented in a format as enjoyable as the Glee song.

I should have known.  Back when Little Dude was still allergic to everything, I used to make "breakfast for dinner" some nights for the rest of the family.  Once Little Dude was eating actual food, we stopped with the eggs at dinner time; because it was all wrong.

Little Dude has certain rules in his head, and messing with them is not worth the agony.  You just can't mess with categories.  Certain things can be eaten at certain times.

We do our best to work in little deviations from his routines.  He prefers for his sandwiches (at lunchtime, duh) to be cut into four pieces.  To help him work on being more flexible, I started cutting them into only two pieces.  Gasp.

Initially, I only tried it when he was in a good mood.  At first, even if he was having a good day, he would outright reject the sandwiches, refusing to pick them up, and spiraling into a full-on meltdown.  Eventually he came to accept the two-piece sandwiches.  Then I started giving them to him when he was already cranky, or on edge.  Eventually, he came to accept them at those times too.

Now he will eat sandwiches that are cut in two pieces or four pieces.  He will eat them if the pieces are cut into triangles, squares, or rectangles.

Know how long that took?  Eighteen freaking months.  I am so not kidding.  It took 18 months to get him to accept sandwiches cut differently.  It's still the same bread, the same peanut butter, the same honey. The only difference is the shape.

No more wire hangers sandwiches for dinner!
It's like that with bedtime, too.  Trying to take shortcuts on an autistic child's bedtime routine will only take you on a shortcut right to Hell.

It does not matter how late I've let Little Dude stay up, or how desperately I want the day to end.  I cannot deviate from The Routine.  The result of said deviation is that there will be a major meltdown, after which we will have to start over, and do it right.  He's like a tiny Joan Crawford.

Except Little Dude would never walk around with that much moisturizer on his face. So chalk one up for Sensory Processing Disorder.

On the plus side, The Routine is so effective, that I can move bedtime up an hour and he'll still fall asleep.

One part of the bedtime routine is that I lie down next to him for a little bit, until he falls asleep.  When we lived in Texas, I had been able to stop.  I sat in a chair right next to his bed.  Every night, I moved the chair about a quarter of an inch farther away from his bed.  I had almost made it out the door, when we moved.  And the whole new bed, new room, new house situation brought on some regression.  I should probably start that process up again, but right now we're working hard on potty-training and dealing with school, so bedtime changes will have to wait.  We pick and choose.

When it comes to Little Dude, there is no slacking.  There is planned spontaneity and microscopic change and tiny bits of progress, and that is all the complete opposite of slacking. It's exhausting.

And at the end of the day, at the end of the week, it's just annoying.
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