Wiser words


I’ve noticed a lot of internet advice on what NOT to say to a parent of an autistic child lately.


And, while helpful, it seems a bit snarky. It’s as though the authors want you to know how to behave but also want the world to know that you, at first, behaved badly.

I don’t really like it and, for my part, want everyone to know that I understand and I’m not offended. Autism doesn’t fit in a box and humans aren’t wired to respond to unquantified information. At best we stare. At worse we open our mouths and sing a song of ignorance.

Neither situation is ideal.  

But, it’s not compassion that’s lacking it’s training. People just need to be told what to say. What is acceptable?  

Never fear, I am here. I have assembled for the world today an arsenal of suitable responses for that moment when a parent tells you their child is autistic.

Level one. The beginner.

It’s your first time. It’s OK. Breath. You can get through this. Just remember DO NOT look sad.

Too much to ask for? Can’t control your gloom? Don’t worry, there’s a fix. Turn that pathetic attitude on you! Pity yourself for not being a member of the spectrum club and moan:

Wow. I just met you and your life already sounds way more interesting than mine.

First timers that are natural optimists might try:

You know what I love about autism? The jumping! It’s mesmerizing. The focus and power… it seriously should be an Olympic sport.

Level two. Intermediate:

Step up your game and learn the difference between Neurodiverse and Neurotypical. Then, use your words. How about:

It’s so exciting to live in this era of neurodiversity. I can’t wait to see where it takes us because I’m positive it’s going to be amazing.

Or (because self-pity can go a long way) say:

My house is full of boring neurotypicals (pout face). I hope you can carry this conversation because I got nothing to offer.

Level three. The enlightened:

You’ve been around the block. Your way isn’t the highway and you are totally OK with that. You know that the craziest thing you ever saw couldn’t have been by the simple fact that you are still alive.

Go for a smile with: 

OMG. (dramatic face) THANK you for talking to me. Everyone else at this party is lame!


Of course you have a child on the spectrum. Autism is common in families of unusually high intelligence. Everybody knows that.

See? Easy. You are welcome. Not convinced? Still afraid you are going to trip over your tongue? No worries. I’ve got just the phrase for you. The moment a parent tells you their child is autistic, look them earnestly in the face and say:

I am paying for all your drinks this evening.

I guarantee this will go over well but if you are doubtful, call me. We can practice all night.




Dream life


I spent the last weekend with my family, taking things slow.


We wandered through a beautiful park in the middle of a lovely city watching birds and stopping to smell the flowers (literally). After a simple picnic the boys ran in the grass while Mowgli and I contemplated which of the buildings edging that particular park we would be most happy in.

The one with the balcony…Yes and there, see? A barbecue that’s the one for sure.

Never mind that living in the middle of a city surrounded by people (no matter how wonderful the park) is the farthest we could get from the life that we both know is really us – at the moment if felt like home.

We’re not complicated or fickle. Our desires are really quite basic. We want a simple life in a modest home. We aren’t asking for much more.

Except maybe to live next to water. Would be nice. Maybe the beach!

Yes, a beach house…

On 50 wooded acres full of wild animals. Not the dangerous kind, of course. Just deer and some beaver. And with a river running through it. A wide river teeming with fish and fed by a lake of clean and clear water that miraculously has no fish and is the perfect temperature for swimming.

Yes, a secluded cabin, that’s what we want…

It would have to be accessible though. A paved road ending in a circular driveway wide enough for his car, my car, guests and a skate park for the kids. We’ll line it with fruit trees and near by we’ll grow vegetables and herbs and have all sorts of berry bushes.

Oh yes, farming. We’d love to be farmers, that would make us happy…

The back yard, however, would be a Spanish style courtyard flanked by flowering bushes and vines. There will be terracotta pots statues of naked people and a fountain. A little path from the terrace will lead to the vineyard where we grown grapes for the award-winning wine our invisible employees make…

Of course we want live at a winery with elves…

Oh but I’ve forgotten the snow. We must live in place that gets snow. Lots of snow. Like 8 or 10 feet of it. How could we survive without a white Christmas? And skiing. Why else do you think we have all that land? For cross country skiing! This means we must have a sauna and hot tub. And a view. A view from everywhere. Mountains, ocean, green fields maybe a towering city in the far distance that we gaze at while sipping wine on a bear skin rug beside the roaring fire in our massive two sided river rock fire place… more champagne! where are those darned elves? 

What? How else is one expected to relax? We aren’t savages for crying out loud…

Who are these people and what are they doing in my garden? Someone must have left the gate open.
Who are these people and what are they doing in my garden? Someone must have left the gate open.


Keeping the love alive


A good marriage doesn’t just happen, it takes effort. If you want to keep the spark alive and the journey joyful, you must be creative and at that, my husband is a pro. He has thought up dozens of tricks and schemes designed to keep our marriage fun filled and adventurous.

There is one particularly adorable game he invented that I’d like to share with you today. Every once in a while, when life gets stressful, my husband pretends that we don’t speak the same language. Maybe a more accurate description would be that he pretends the English I speak is a dialect foreign to his ear. He understands the individual words, but is completely befuddled by the order I string them.

Isn’t that cute?

Yeah, it’s totally hilarious.

Except those times when it’s not.

Which is pretty much every time.     

Here’s an example:

Friday last week was a travel day for our family meaning we were up early, wouldn’t get to bed until late and were highly likely to experience tension throughout the day. To make matters worse, I was sleep deprived. I hadn’t had a solid night of rest in days. By Friday I was a wreck. I actually started breakfast that morning with a warning to my sons.

“I am on extreme edge,” I told them. “If you want to live to adulthood, tread lightly today.”

And this is how my husband interpreted that warning:

“Goody! She wants to play the language game!”

He starts small. I’ll ask for ‘my top’ and he’ll hand me the lid to the crock pot, things like that. But since that is only mildly annoying he generally escalate rapidly.     

That Friday things hit critical mass on our way to the airport.

While giving Mowgli directions I used the term “U-turn” but Mowgli (because he’s such an amusing guy) decided what I really said was “YOU Turn”.

So this happened:

He asked “which way?”

I replied “U turn!”

(Because when you are struggling to communicate with your spouse the obvious solution is to not change what you said at all but just add exclamation points.)

This continued for a few more rounds until finally I said:

“I don’t care, Just U-turn!”

And then this happened:

Mowgli barked: “Left, right? What is wrong with you?” 

And I returned with: “Me? What is wrong with YOU? I said U-TURN.”

(FYI if you are not reading the growing tension in that dialog then you are either single or drunk)

This is when the cursing started.

Mowgli: “WHICH (Expletive) WAY?”

Me: “I don’t (expletive!) care!” 

You know it’s a good game when everyone starts swearing. We were having SO much fun.

Sadly I had to ruin the party. We actually did need to get to the airport. So, I organized a set of words that even a monkey could understand and shared them with my love:

“Turn whatever (expletive!) way you need to make this (expletive!)  car go in the opposite (expletive!) direction!” 

And he did exactly that.

And we spent the rest of the day a boring married couple.

Sigh. Good times.

Oh well. I’m sure we’ll play again soon.  






Guess Cryogenics is not just for dead billionaires anymore. That’s right scientist now believe that a stint in a Cryogenic chamber enhances the body’s ability to heal.

Amazing. What will they think of next?    

Well, if anyone’s looking for ideas, I’ve got one… how about cryogenics as a treatment for puberty?

Wait, hear me out.

While adolescence is a necessary stage in development it is also painful, tremulous, frustrating, embarrassing, and sometime dangerous. What if, instead of forcing our young adults to endure it, we simply let them sleep it off in a Cryo-chamber?

This wouldn’t be just a long nap, mind you. The subjects would be connected to a virtual world. As they snoozed the cerebral cortex would be engaged in a continuous stream of realities designed for optimum experience and growth.

Think about it, all the angst, error, words that should have never been spoken, actions that should never have take place that are integral to maturing, minus any long term damage because it’s all make believe.

Consider it: sleep and video games molded into one painless coming of age process. What could be more perfect?

Yes, I know what you are thinking – I am a genius.

But I can’t take all the credit for this dream. I live with free roaming adolescents and necessity is the mother of invention.

Yes I am a parent of teens and it’s become quite clear that I am really bad at it.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of the horrible things I did in this week alone:


I did not inform a certain someone that it was Thursday, and it had been Thursday ALL day already.

Someone (not me but that’s no excuse) ate all the eggs.

One adolescent put his socks on faster than another while I stood by and did NOTHING.

(This is actually my fault through a myriad of dressing scenarios – shirts, jackets, shoes… At first I found it confusing but since have seen the errors of my ways and completely accept responsibility)

I had the audacity to propose a trip to the beach.

Then later (clearly having NOT learned my lesson) I wildly suggested we go out for dinner.

And finally, (I’m a little embarrassed to admit this terribly low point in my parenting journey, but here it is all the same…)

I looked my son square in the face and said:

 “It is time to make pizza”.

 (Oh. The. Humanity.)


I need a super puberty busting cryogenic chamber STAT.

My kids need it.

Society needs it.

There must be a cryogenic scientist out there living with teens who understand and would look into this.


I’ll be waiting.




My Take on all this spying


Have you seen the video of the Alexa home assistant being asked if she’s connected to the CIA? Because it’s awesome.

Alexa doesn’t say no.

Alexa doesn’t send the owner to a wiki page outlining the legality of the US government spying on its citizen either.

Alexa just shuts down.


I’ve watched it a dozen times and still find it hysterical.

It’s not that I condone the government’s pervasive spying. I don’t, it’s wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong….and also…not surprising. Probably I’ve read too many spy novels, but I’ve lived most my adult life assuming this was status quo. We are constantly told about “leaked” conversations. Where did everyone think those were coming from?

Anyway, for my part, I’m not sure there’s another way to handle these times we live in. I don’t like how the TSA operates either but I want to fly sans explosives so, for the time being anyway, I’ll be this girl at the airport…

“Want me to take my shoes off? No? Are you sure? I can take them off. Really. They’re boots you know, I should take them off…”

But, given what we now know about big brother, there’s a few points I’d like clarified…

With all these high techy means of finding out everything about me apparently running 24/7 on all my devices… WHY are the ads in my internet news feed always for something I already bought?

I have those boots. They know I have those boots. Even if I hadn’t bought them online I used a credit card, had them shipped via US post and then posted pictures of me wearing said boots on FB, twitter….

Show me a dress my new boots will pair nicely with, maybe some leggings, a nice scarf?

If you’re going to spy on me at least make it worth my while.

(Dear CIA. I’m particularly fond of the label White House Black Market…)

And what about…

Taxes. Import duties, excise tax, sales tax, surcharges…when all is said and done, how much money have I given to the US government to make possible that shiny new phone in my hand that they are using to access my personal moments? Sounds a little backwards to me. In fact I think I might subtract a bit from my tax bill next year as a kind of electronic rent. That would be fair.

(Just kidding IRS. I’m not going to do that ever. Please don’t audit me.)

And lastly…

Does the CIA draw the line anywhere? When Lee Harvey Oswald lived in Russia and the KGB was recording every word spoken in his house, the agents would turn the tapes off if it sounded like Mr. and Mrs. Oswald were getting ‘a little cozy’. Can we get the same assurances from our men in black? Honestly, does this country need a sex tape scandal of those proportions? Of course it would be one giant distraction from real news. 

(By the way, next time you feel like trash talking the KGB remember this. They stopped listening. That’s some classy spy shite there. Not that I think our spies are not classy. Nope. You folks are awesome. Really. You don’t need to focus any special attention on me. Or any ordinary attention for that matter. Nothing but a broke blogger here making bad jokes. Nothing to record…)


News from the lab


Life is so much more interesting with breaking news from the scientific community.

In no other arena is it more clearly demonstrated that the more we know, the more we don’t know.

Each new discovery is greeted with a barrage of new questions and, in this house anyway, we love to play along.

So here are this week’s announcements…

And the questions they inspired…



Scientist claim to be about 2 years away from creating a Wooly Mammoth embryo.

What we want to know:

Disregarding the obvious questions of: Is this a good idea? What are their plans for said embryo? And, how many lawyers and politicians will get involved? We are wondering:

1.What is the real reason Wooly Mammoths went extinct? Was it because they were slow? Or because they were delicious?

2. How many humans could be sheltered and clothed by one Mammoth hide?

And, bearing the above in mind:

3. Is it possible that the phrase “it takes a village” originated 10000 years ago as “it takes a Wooly Mammoth”?



The discovery of a star system with 3 planets in the potentially life sustaining Goldilocks zone.

What we want to know:  

First, if you haven’t already moved past the question of “is there life?” then you do not watch enough sci-fi. Of course there is. What kind of fun would it be if there wasn’t? Questions from the serious geek are:

1.Who is the advanced species? Us discovering them or them apparently choosing to ignore us?

2.Is anyone truly comfortable with either possibility?

3.What are the probabilities that any of the planets are sustaining Wooly Mammoths?



The Large Hadron Collider has proven there are no such things as ghosts.

What we want to know:


2.How is it scientists can confidently say and do these things but they still don’t know how gravity works or what makes an airplane fly?

And finally:

3.What does the LHC have to say about Wooly Mammoth populations in the Trappist-1 star system?


Inquiring minds are waiting. 




4 non fairytale reasons to be married


Once I heard my mother telling Mowgli something my grandmother believed. She thought that the thing a woman ate most while pregnant would be the thing her child liked least throughout life.

To which Mowgli replied:

“Huh. Maybe that’s why I never liked cocaine.”

Perhaps romance is in the eye of the beholder but that afternoon I was certain once more I had chosen the right husband.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day a feast not celebrated in our house for the simple reason that you can’t screw up a holiday you do not observe. So in honor of our commitment to un-mushy love, here are 4 completely un fairytale reasons to be married.  


  1. To have one person in your life who may, in a court of law, refuse to rat you out.

(Whether your spouse actually chooses to keep your secrets, however, falls under a much longer blog titled “reasons to be happily married”)


2. For a lifelong fall guy.

“I would go to your… (unbearable social event)… but my wife is having hangnail surgery that same day.”

“Sorry about… (the expensive, now broken, item you loaned me)… my husband is a terrible klutz.” 

Spouses are also available for blame when the remote is missing, the car is out of fuel, the dog messes in the house and countless other annoyances.

(Mowgli would like to point out this is actually a great reason to have kids as well…)


3. Because nothing teaches diplomacy more so than a long marriage.

Mowgli and I have argued over US Israeli relations for 25 years.

Twenty Five Years, without ever contemplating divorce.    

…Terrorism, sanctions and assassination sure, but never divorce.


4. For counsel. You don’t have to make difficult judgments on your own anymore.

As a matter of fact, now that you have a partner to disagree with you, few decisions if any are likely to be made ever again…




Mowgli, as you read this, know that I love you.

And thank you for still loving me.




The world as a restaurant


Here’s a headline we can all get behind:



Several years ago I went to dinner in Korea with a group of co-workers.

If you know me you know that I believe there is nothing more fun and delicious than Korean barbecue so that dinner, in Korea with people I enjoyed, should have been awesome.

But it wasn’t. That dinner was a KBBQ exception. When the waitress brought out the platter of meat that day, it was drama for dinner.

The coworker to my right (Muslim) couldn’t eat pork but the restaurant (mad cow cautious) wasn’t keen to serve beef. The ensuing discussion prompted the coworker on my left to warn that if cow was procured it better (for the sake of their respective immortal souls) be cooked on a separate grate. Meanwhile across the table three American southerners used the confusion to steal the flustered waitress’ cooking tongs because they’d eaten enough KBBQ to know that no self-respecting Korean would ever let the meat char to the delicious carcinogenic levels said men desired.  

Now if you have ever convinced a Korea restaurant to alter their menu for you for any reason you…

  1. are my hero and,
  2. fully understand what a nightmare that meal was.  

(Actually grown guys playing tong keep-away was pretty amusing so maybe “nightmare” is a bit strong)

Anyway, I’d forgotten all about that dinner until last week when I read these two articles:

From the Irish Independent:

Burnt food may cause cancer

And (I kid you not, less than 24 hours later) from the NY Times

Charring is the new it cuisine 

So if I want to live long I absolutely mustn’t blacken my meals but if I want to live happy I absolutely must. Where does that leave me?

Hungry, that’s where. And maybe that’s been the problem all along. Maybe we’re all just hungry.

The world we live in (like that dinner and those articles) is fraught with people of differing ideas, preferences, beliefs, goals, sports loyalty, beverage addiction… Demand that it all mold into one unified path towards the future and you risk ending up (like me at that dinner and after reading those articles) – hungry.

(or on a diet of boiled chicken and I ask you, when has boiled chicken ever make anyone truly happy??)

What is the answer? I don’t know and I’m not suggesting we stop looking. I just think in the mean time, maybe we should all have a sandwich.

Yeah peace and sandwiches*… maybe some of that wine…it couldn’t hurt. 

I’ll set the table.


*lest my blatantly western sandwich offer offend, feel free to eat instead a panini, gyro, banh mi, kebab, arepa, bacadillo, taco, piroshki, vada pav, chivito…just stay away from the blood of your enemies. That would probably not be productive. 





When my kids were little HALT (the “are you Hungry Angry Lonely Tired?” behavior tool) was all the rage in progressive parenting. An effective method for identifying when an unmet core need is triggering undesirable conduct, HALT (funny enough) was originally designed to keep addicts from relapsing. (Which probably isn’t funny at all and should definitely tell you something about what it is like living with toddlers)

Anyway, it was so effective for the tremulous 2s and 3s that lately I’ve begun to wonder if it might be useful for life’s other arduous growing period; adolescence.

Specifically, (because this is my circus at the moment) with adolescent boys.   

After a few months of careful research, here’s what I’ve discovered:


Well, tired really isn’t an issue any more because they sleep. They sleep, and sleep and sleep and sleep…They sleep so much I check for signs of life, A LOT. In adolescence it seems the only time tired leads to unsavory behavior is when something disrupts the teens sleep autonomy. Things like school, family functions, emergencies, Christmas (true story there), events that happen on a schedule that your average day sleeper isn’t likely to conform to. And honestly, outside of emergencies perhaps, these things are avoidable.

Stand-napping master 2016.


Yep lonely is still a thing and now that we (parents) are often the enemy tackling this problem is tricky (especially if your teen can’t be bothered to wake up and attend functions involving other similarly minded individuals) But all is not lost for there is the internet.

God save us if that fails.

Hungry and Angry (Together here because hungry and angry have fused).

Yes the once independent disturbances now simultaneously fuel each other in a state commonly referred to as “hangry”.

Remember the adage about the way to a man’s heart? Well it’s true. It’s through his stomach. Coincidentally this is also the way to his reason, sanity and composure. Forget about scorned women, hell hath no fury like a man unfed. And there is no time when that is more clear than in adolescence.

Don’t believe me? Find a teen boy, pick a fight with him then a second before it blows into world war 3, hand him a pizza.

*poof* crisis averted. 

With a house full of mini men in ever expanding bodies, Mowgli and I now fight a daily battle against the hangry. Everything has changed. Even the way we greet them.

Before adolescence:

Hello! How are you?


Hi! Here’s a sandwich!

He-llo, we learned the hard way, left them without the promise of food one syllable too long. It won’t surprise me if next month we cull further to:


What?  Doesn’t seem a reasonable salutation to you? Then I ask you to imaging a land where in lieu of polite verbosity passersby simply yell Wine! and thrust a glass in your hand.  

I would quite like that I think. 


Well its back to the trenches for me, but before I go, here’s something I spotted in a questionable (possibly nonexistent) dictionary recently:

 Armageddon (n) the state of affairs when the internet fails before lunch is consumed.    

Hope all is well.






The fall guy


Saying goodbye with tiny chocolate cups

You can relax now, it’s over. As the world breathes a collective sigh of relief 2016 exits the stage forever with a sticky note slapped to its back:

2016: Worst year ever

Worst, really? Worse than 1347 (bubonic plague), 1918 (war, influenza epidemic), 1943 (war, holocaust)?

2016 may have been challenging but come on. It wasn’t that bad. In fact on a lot of fronts 2016 was a pretty likable year.

How likable you ask?

Well let me fill my glass half full and count you the ways…

In 2016:

Pandas, manatees, humpback whales and green sea turtles were all taken off the endangered species list.

Tiger numbers rose for the first time in forever.

The Colombian government and FARC signed a peace agreement.

Scientists (doing the best Harry Potter impersonation EVER) turned CO2 into STONE.

And don’t forget, Elon Musk exists.

But that’s not all…

Child mortality rates fell again.

We now have treatments for and are closer than ever to finding cures to HIV, Alzheimer’s, and Ebola.

And Coffee, now shown to effectively fight cancer and suicide, was finally awarded a place in the “Good Foods Wronged” club.

(On the red carpet that night: Red wine with her charming date Steak followed by the Egg, looking fabulous in a flowing gown of polyunsaturated fat).

Wait, it gets better…

The Cleveland Browns WON a game!

Nimo found Dory who found her parents and they all lived happily ever after!

(oops. Spoiler alert)

Leicester city won the EPL!

Leo Decaprio won an Oscar!

(Yeah I googled those last too. Just wanted to sound well rounded)


Still not happy? Then clearly last year you missed…

EVERY SINGLE JOE BIDEN MEME. (Not kidding. I don’t care who you are, those are funny) 


Maybe it’s the simple things. Maybe you didn’t catch your son washing his feet in the bidet and ergo missed the privileged of experiencing this conversation…

Me: You know that’s not actually for feet… (explains..)

Son: Huh. A butt washer? That’s weird.

Me: Actually we don’t call it that. We use the French word, bidet. It doesn’t sound as gross as “butt washer”

Son: (unconvinced): Yeah right. Unless you’re French.

Now if that didn’t bring a smile to your face, remember this:

2017 is going to be AWESOME.

For a while anyway.

Happy New Year!


Eventually, everything is funny