Mommy’s Little Helper Monday: Back to School Edition

The first day of school at our house this morning.

The first day of school at our house this morning.

It’s Christmas for mommies!!!! Yes! All over the country moms woke up with a little extra pep in their step. I even dare to say that smiles actually crossed thousands of faces BEFORE they had their coffee. Looking at the three stuffed backpacks and lunches hanging on their hooks in my kitchen this morning  was better than stockings stuffed with diamonds and chocolate. If I could sing without making the dog pee herself from fear, I would be belting out a mash-up of “Get the Party Started” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” I mean, what better way to start a celebration than throwing Pink and Prince together?

Yeah, I parent through embarrassment.

Yeah, I parent through embarrassment.

I decided the only way to truly celebrate is with champagne, so…

The LIbation:

Champagne makes everything better. I believe we should all have adorable leather holsters to wear that are designed specifically to carry a split of bubbly. Louis Vuitton could make a killing producing those (hint hint). Until then we’ll just have to hide them in our purses and bras (if you have big, oddly shaped boobs). I love champagne and even had a pink champagne themed birthday this year. There’s no recipe for it to share, so I thought I’d just post some pics.

Just looking at that makes me feel more girly.

Just looking at that makes me feel more girly.

What every woman should have in her home.

What every woman should have in her home.

What should greet us in the kitchen every morning.

What should greet us in the kitchen every morning.

If looking at these lovely photos don’t make you want to sit back with a glass of nose-tickling bubbles, there is something seriously wrong with you. I’m having trouble concentrating on work now that I’m staring at these. If you want to see more pretty photos and find links to their sources, go to my PInterest board Pink Champagne Party. Look around and enjoy all the sparkly, girly goodness.

Now would be the time for me to pass on some type of useful tip, but I’m all out of time and energy. So I’m going to turn to someone famous to pass on some wisdom that sticks with our bubbly theme.

The Duh-I-Already-Knew-That-Helpful-Tip:

champagne quoteAnd one more quote from one of my literary heroes who obviously knows what he’s talking about.

F. Scott Champagne quote


Confessions of a Crazy Cake Mom (and some other news)

One of the many things that makes my “crazy” show is a birthday. I love planning birthday parties and especially cakes. The fact that my two oldest sons are having birthdays within the next two weeks made me decide to write a quick bit about my sickness surrounding birthday cakes.

My birthday cake made by Leslie's Cakes for my...uhh *cough* 29th birthday. Yeah, 29th. That's the ticket.

My birthday cake made by Leslie’s Cakes for my…uhh *cough* 29th birthday. Yeah, 29th. That’s the ticket.

My mom was great about either making me special cakes or ordering exactly what I wanted. I carried that tradition on with my own kids but am far less likely to hire a professional because, well, because I’m crazy. Now I’m not saying I’m über talented and should open my own little cake business (that would be a nightmare waiting to happen). I just like doing it for my kids.  But I thought I would share with you some of my attempts at birthday cakes and cupcakes over the last few years. You can certainly tell which ones I started on the night before the party and which ones I was icing as the party guests were walking through the door and I was still in a bathrobe. (Now, if you want a great looking/tasting cake by a true pro and live in the North Texas area, you should totally check out Leslie’s Cakes. They are amazing!)

Let’s start with some simple cupcakes I made for my two oldest when they decided to have a beach themed waterpark party (one of the few perks of having summer birthdays).

Beachy fun!

Beachy keen!

The decorations were simple: canned icing with blue coloring topped with little fondant shark fins and starfish. The hardest part of these cupcakes are hidden under the icing. They’re rainbow cakes which meant splitting the batter into several containers, dying them different colors, and spooning them into the cups in layers. It was a little time-consuming but had a nice little “wow” factor when the kids bit into them. (Note: we usually try to avoid dyes because of our ADHD/Autism diet but I throw all that out the window for birthdays. You have to just let kids be kids sometimes.)

Simple decorations on a complicated icing recipe (but so worth the effort).

Simple decorations on a complicated icing recipe (but so worth the effort).

Now these are also very simple cupcakes I made for my youngest son’s first birthday. His nursery was an owl theme and of course that was a year before everyone went owl crazy and you could buy it everywhere. I stuck with the theme for his birthday, using the colors in his room and simple fondant owls I cut out with an x-acto (is that right?) knife. The star of this was the icing. It’s a homemade batch of browned butter frosting that’s recipe I got from Martha Stewart. It is freakin’ awesome!! First birthdays are more about the adults anyway so I used this icing recipe knowing it wouldn’t be a favorite with the little one. He did his obligatory duty as a one-year-old and smeared it in his hair and everywhere else before crying over our singing.

Now, here are some cakes I did that are certainly half-ass. I call them “cheat sheets” because I go buy a plain sheet cake from our local Market Street and then decorate them myself. This method insures that I have a nice smooth surface for the base, allows me to spend my time doing the fun part, and keeps me from shanking folks.

Fondant Angry Birds I made myself ont top of a bought sheet cake.

Fondant Angry Birds I made myself ont top of a bought sheet cake.

A last minute monster cake built on top of a bought sheet cake.

A last minute monster cake built on top of a bought sheet cake.

I made smaller cakes at home using what I call a "boob pan" and just iced the crud out of them.

I made smaller cakes at home using what I call a “boob pan” and just iced the crud out of them.

I made candy clay with Candy Melts and corn syrup (so much easier than fondant) for the belt to celebrate my son's first rank up in karate.

I made candy clay with Candy Melts and corn syrup (so much easier than fondant) for the belt to celebrate my son’s first rank up in karate.

And now for my masterpiece. This is hands-down the best looking cake I’ve ever made and I imagine it has something to do with the fact that I actually made it the night before the party. We hired a local wildlife educator name Critterman to come to our home with lots of creepy crawlies. It was a fantastic party. The kids got to learn about a lot of animals and even touch them. My oldest son LOVED chameleons so I went with it and this is what he got…

Chameleon and spider cake complete with a Zinger branch.

Chameleon and spider cake complete with a Zinger branch.

I’m darn proud of the cake even if it’s technically a “cheat sheet.” I baked a round cake that I cut up to make the body of the chameleon and some more of the “boob” cakes to make the spider and leaves. Zingers made the perfect branch and I had to cheat and use pipe cleaners for the spider legs. Obviously it was mixing all of the different colors and doing thousands of little stars that took up the most time, but it paid off.

Isn't he pretty?!?

Isn’t he pretty?!?

And that was a peek into my craziness when it comes to birthday cakes. I’ve had requests for Minecraft, Legos and Adventure Time for these upcoming parties. I’ll past what I end up doing. Now…ON WITH AN IMPORTANT NEWS BULLETIN!!!!

First, I’ve already bragged and gloated on my primary blog that my parody, Fifty Shades of Puddin’

received an unexpected but amazing review on Villara Noir. It got me pumped, so I posted two excerpts from the prequel The Hunger Camp. Go check them out of you want a laugh. Amazon (Kindle) has decided to mark my book down to a buck for some reason (they reserve the right to change your price at their discretion), so go buy a copy and I’ll take that $0.35 royalty and go on a crazy spending spree!! Anyway, my loss but your gain, right?

Second, I’m taking a break from blogging for about 2 weeks. With two birthdays, travel, the end of school, and looming deadlines on real writing projects, I have to take a step back. I’ll be back the first of June with lots of summer-saving tips drink recipes.

Mommy’s Little Helper Monday: Mother’s Day Edition

Me and my third little boy. I'm smiling so the drugs were still working.

Me and my third little boy. I’m smiling so the drugs were still working.

Did all of you survive Mother’s Day? Was it filled with grocery store flowers and handprint art thrown in your lap as payment for wiping countless asses and noses? My holiday was actually fantastic. Why? Because I spent 75% of it pretending I didn’t have children. Does this make me sound like a horrible mommy? I really don’t give a flying crap if it does or not. I needed it SOOOOO bad, and I think other moms do, too. After eating a breakfast (I never eat breakfast) that my sweet hubby made, I took a shower (I rarely get to do that either), put on makeup and a low-cut dress, and took off for a day of pretending.

The boys all meeting for the first time. The drugs are still working.

The boys all meeting for the first time. The drugs are still working.

I had the top down (the vehicle’s– not mine), the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and every uncensored Prince, Eminem, Beastie Boys, JayZ, etc… song I have on my phone blaring through the speakers. I set off to use a gift certificate for a pedicure my sweet neighbor had given me for my birthday. I read the address in my usual half-ass/ADD manner and took off to the Shops at Legacy to get my gimpy toe and its equally ugly brothers polished into submission. The Shops of Legacy is a hoity-toity outdoor shopping center in north Plano. The sidewalks were packed with people all waiting for a spot in one of the restaurants, and they all got to hear “99 Problems” in all of its glory as I slowly drove back and forth looking for the nail place. I just smiled and let them all stare with envy at the girl who obviously didn’t have children.

The drugs have obviously stopped working and I've realized that I have 3 freakin' kids!

The drugs have obviously stopped working and I’ve realized that I have 3 freakin’ kids!

And it was all good until I got the bright idea to pull over and read the nail salon address again. It was then that I realized that the shop was on Legacy alright, but it was miles away– much closer to my house. Stupid! So I decided to play it off and went to the mall. I shopped! I shopped for sassy dresses. I’ve gained weight recently so I took dresses a size bigger than what I usually wear into the dressing room with me. They were too big! It was a magical miracle! I’m usually left crying in a fetal position while the flourescent lights highlight every single bump of cellulite I have. I usually run from the dressing room like I’m being attacked by velociraptors. And I keep running all the way to the food court where I stuff a cookie and a Diet Coke down my throat because I’ve decided that’s the way to make me feel less fat. But not this day. This day I actually bought a dress–with gift certificates I found in my wallet. More magic!!!

I then got 2 free pairs of panties at Victoria Secrets. Magical magicness!! Then I found the nail place and had my toes painted Cajun Shrimp while I drank wine. Wine!!! With no kids!!! There was so much magic it was like the entire senior class at Hogwarts had thrown up on me. I felt so good that I decided to go cruise through Target. I got there and discovered Starbucks had their frappacinos half off for Mother’s Day!! Holy coffee beans!! I got a caramel ribbon something–venti!! I sucked that 1000 calories down while I browsed through crap I didn’t need and talked to the BFF on the phone. It was then that I realized I was starting to shake. It was then that I started feeling a little queasy. It was then that I realized wine + massive amounts of sugar and caffeine – food + hypoglycemia = NOT SMART. Not magic.

Screw my blood sugar!! Make it a venti, bitch!

Screw my blood sugar!! Make it a venti, bitch!

I went and sat in my car shivering like a chihuahua. It was ugly there for a bit, but I muscled through. My day of pretending that I didn’t have children couldn’t be over! I drove my ass to the tanning place that I haven’t been to in months. I marched in and used my free Mother’s Day upgrade offer and climbed into this space ship looking bed NAKED! Yep. I decided to tan away those stretch marks so I could really pretend that I didn’t have kids. I was committed to my role. I finished roasting myself with one of those stupid little heart stickers (hey, better than a Playboy bunny) on my hip and drove home. I arrived to a lovingly prepared meal of surf and turf cooked by my sweet, ex-chef hubby, and three little boys lounging in front of the TV in their underwear. I tried to pretend they were just hired help but the undies made that thought a little creepy.

After dinner I lounged in bed, drinking wine and watching Game of Thrones. It was then that I began to slip into a state of deep relaxation…and itch. What the hell? Why am I itching in places that I shouldn’t? I go to the bathroom, drop my jammie bottoms and lift my top…OH, my god!!! I’m sunburned. I’m sunburned in places you NEVER want to be sunburned! And I want to pretend that me having a buzz and being sunburned is just like in my twenties when I’d drink on a boat all day and end up looking like a lobster, but I can’t. I was drunk most of the time in my twenties but I was never stupid enough to tan naked…Wait a minute…STUPID! That’s it! I really did live my day just like before I had kids. I did stupid things. I taunted my hypoglycemia and I burned my crotch. I was in a fairly constant state of stupid before I had kids, so I did it! I did stupid!

The Libation:

I know that you were fearful that after that long-winded story you were going to get duped on the drink, and you are!! Well, sorta. I tried to come up with a Mother’s Day themed drink, but in my opinion anything with a proof label was created for mothers. So, I had to dig deep to come up with something and then it popped in my head. My BFF and I created a drink when we were teenagers and my parents had gone on a vacation. We had to use what we could find and that came down to a packet of Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid and vodka. We called them Purple Mother F*ckers! (Do I really have to add some little symbol to these naughty words? It’s not like you don’t say it in your head when you read it. I think that’s the last half-ass attempt at censorship you’ll see from me.) And they weren’t bad. The Kool-aid is a mix of lemonade and grape, and to teenagers it tasted pretty damn good. The sad part is that you can’t buy Purplesaurus Rex anymore. If one of you do find some, let me know.


The Duh–I Already-Knew-That-Helpful-Tip:

Take a Thelma and Louise day for yourself...

Take a Thelma and Louise day for yourself…

If you are a mom pick a day to pretend you’re not. After you make sure your kids are safe with a spouse, sitter, relative, or firestation, take a day to just pretend you’re a person without all of the responsibilities you deal with every day. Go be with yourself. If you’re an introvert like me, go by yourself. If you’re an extrovert, gather some friends. Go do stupid shit that won’t land you in jail or maim you (wear bottoms in the tanning bed), and just have fun. Enjoy a taste of freedom. Turn off your cell phone for heaven’s sake. Don’t schedule anything! Make every decision on the fly. We forget what that’s like sometimes when we’re buried under schedules. Hell, we almost have to pencil in our potty breaks. Just go live without worrying about fixing meals or taking kids to violin lessons. Drive down a street you’ve never taken before. Just go! Trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you come home.

...but watch out for canyons.

…but watch out for canyons.

The Funny:

If the thought of me walking around with a burnt crotch doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will. But, if you’re expecting more, go to my other blog Wckedwords. For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a redneck parody of Fifty Shades of Grey called Fifty Shades of Puddin’. It developed quite a little following so I decided to play around with a prequel. Go check out The Hunger Camp for a post Mommy Day laugh.


Confessions (of my inner White-trash)

I have enough embarrassing photos of my children to keep my life with boys series going for a decade, but I get bored pretty easily (You did catch that whole ADD thing about me, right?). So I’m going to mix it up and embarrass myself, too. While rummaging around on the internet for healthy recipes to cook for my family (I can hear my husband laughing all the way from his office), I came across this little thing called a Challenge Meme. Essentially it challenges a blogger or anyone with an internet account that gives them the ability to annoy others from great distances (Facebook, Twitter, and the particularly horrifying Twilight fan fiction sites–we must never forgive them for birthing 50 Shades of Grey), a prompt to write about everyday.

There are lots of them out there ranging from the mundane to the insanely specific. We’re talking everything from writing and drawing challenges, to crazy shit like organizing and green smoothie challenges, to the little bit pathetic ones like Justin Bieber and Spongebob. I’m not sure I really want to know what’s involved in a 30 day Justin Bieber challenge and I’m pretty sure that 30 days of green smoothies would also be classified as a 30 days on the toilet challenge. But back to my point, this idea appeals to me. My ADD loves it some lists. It wants to be organized and a list with specific, attainable goals, tickles the shit out of it. It gets all giddy like when it used to take tests in school. There was no way my ADD could make it through hours of mind and butt-numbing homework, but it thrived on tests. They were short and required hyperconcentration. If my ADD hadn’t rocked it out on the ACT I would have never gotten a scholarship, which means I probably would have never gone to college, which means I could have very well ended up a stay-at-home mom with a blog…Uh…hmmm….Just give me a sec to run down to the liquor cabinet and numb that pesky part of my brain that likes to do things like make realizations….

Trailer 3

…Ok, all better. Back to this challenge idea. I’ve decided to do a 30 post challenge about confessions. I’m not sure why that’s what popped up, maybe it’s the new Pope; but I think it could be fun. I can embarrass myself and my family, and you get to laugh and be thankful that I’m not responsible for your care. So let’s get down to business with my first installment.

Confessions of my Inner White-trash

I was born in Tennessee and raised in Arkansas. I’ve never lived in a trailer or a shack. We were poor but we weren’t poor white trash. I had shoes I just chose not to wear them as often as I should have, and we certainly ate beans and cornbread on occasion. People assume that all Arkansans are hillbillies and rednecks, but I’m going to give you a quick lesson on the classification system of Southern crackers (white folks, not saltines).

Country: People known as “country folks” are good people who’ve come from a long line of people who made their living off the land or doing manual labor. They may not be educated but they’re smart, often wise. They love God and their family above all else. They typically aren’t very worldly but they don’t see a need to be. They enjoy simple things but they are not above leaving cars, old washers, or even school buses out on the back of their property to rust away. My extended family would be classified as this (including the school bus).

Rednecks: These are country people who like the finer things in life, which mostly means things with big wheels that you can drive through the mud. They are louder and more brass than country folks. I even dare to say that many lack some of the manners of the country folks. They are more apt to be in your face, sometimes with a gun. What they lack in refinement they make up for with ingenuity.

Trailer Trash (AKA: poor white-trash): These folks are pretty much the dumb cousins that the country folks and rednecks couldn’t stand to be around. They don’t have the wisdom of the country folks or the drive of the rednecks. They don’t need no school or nothin’! They like their life of government cheese, brawls with gas station hookers who stole their money, and visiting the jail more than once a year. Not all people who live in trailers meet the qualifications to be trailer-trash. It takes a special brand of stupid to make this cut. (side note: there are way more trailers in Florida than Arkansas.)

Hillbillies: Take the poor white-trash, move their trailer to a mountain and replace their Pearl beer with some moonshine. Give them a possum coat for good measure.

Now, I don’t think I fit into any of these categories but you can’t grow up in this rainbow of diversity and not have it rub off on you. So, here is the proof that somewhere down deep inside there is a Country-Redneck-White-Trash hybrid that occasionally gets my ADD drunk on some canned Coors and influences its creativity. And here is the proof that will probably provoke my husband to go into hiding:

When your inner white trash gets a hold of your ADD it will tell you that a perfectly good substitution for having to drag your kids, a caravan of shit, and your bloated self down to the pool is to create your own waterpark in the back yard…

Come on down to Wild Bucket Country! Free pork rinds with every admission.

Come on down to Wild Bucket Country! Free pork rinds with every admission.

When you actually get snow in Dallas (which never freakin’ happens), your inner White-trash will help you engineer a snowsuit from hand-me-downs and recycled crap from the garage…

"Mama, I'm goin' back to the igloo-trailer for my possum blanket and a hot beer."

“Mama, I’m goin’ back to the igloo-trailer for my possum blanket and a hot beer.”

(Yes, those are latex gloves from the garage over his mittens secured with masking tape. Target bags over his double-socked feet with more tape. Ain’t no snow gonna keep my boy from havin’ fun with his cousin-brothers.)

When Christmas comes around and you have a toddler who wants to pull the Christmas tree down over and over again, your inner white-trash will help you rig that sucker up to withstand a F1 twister with nothing more than a Lego table, an empty crate, and some twine. Your children will then dress for the theme…

"Mama, can we make more of those fancy ornaments out of fishin' lures and beer cans?"

“Mama, can we make more of those fancy ornaments out of fishin’ lures and beer cans?”

Well, there you go. You can take the girl out of Arkansas but you can’t take Arkansas out of the girl. If you want to witness the depths of my inner white-trash please go buy a copy of Fifty Shades of Puddin’. Who doesn’t want their erotic love stories to take place in a trailer park? (Yes, another shameless plug so I can support myself when my husband divorces me.)


Life With Boys– part deux

Maybe I should title that “Number 2”, as in the secret bathroom code developed by our ancestors before they were even walking without the aid of their knuckles. Yep, nothing that has even the slightest link to poop will escape a boy. Crap and crapping is considered highbrow art in the world of the male child. They set up miniature think-tanks under the monkey bars at school to hold summits about how many ways they can talk about it . If you want to get the attention of a boy under the age of 15 simply work in the word poop, crap, pooh, poo-poo, dookie (how they hell do you even spell that), or whatever else they call it into a conversation.

Let’s say you’re lecturing telling demanding begging them to clean their room. All they hear is blah…blah…BLAH…BLAH…sound of muffled sobs…blah…blah… sound of wine bottle being opened…blah blah. But if you slip “pile of stinky poop” in right before you get to the important stuff, you’ll have their attention.

I’m not sure why I’ve started this off with a discussion on poop. I guarantee that my ADD is involved since it saw “part deux” and chased it down a shiny bunny trail, but it could also have to do with the fact that our house that normally contains 3 functioning bathrooms is currently down to one–mine. There was apparently a leak going on under my boys’ upstairs toilet (a bathroom that’s odor reminds you of a primate house on a scorching summer day) for some time. We didn’t realize it until we found a puddle in the bathroom below it and the paint peeling in there and the living room. Anyway, the floors are torn out and that leaves 4–FOUR people with male genitalia using my bathroom. Insurance doesn’t understand that some people’s safety could greatly depend on how fast they get that check cut.

Just how upset would our HOA be if I built this in the yard?

Just how upset would our HOA be if I built this in the yard?

But enough about poop and bathrooms, let’s get to some more photographic evidence of what living with boys looks like.

When you’re a mom of boys your son will decide…

Who can resist a sparkly wedge that gives your calves some extra lift?

Who can resist a sparkly wedge that gives your calves some extra lift?

…. that your sequined flip-flops are ideal for a leisurely spin on his bike.

When you’re a mom of boys you’ll discover that a little thing like a nosebleed…

"This tastes a little salty."

“This tastes a little salty.”

…will not keep them from enjoying a fine PBJ.

When you’re a mom of boys one of them will eventually beg to make pancakes by himself, and because your drinking (3 boys, remember?), you’ll agree. If it’s your artistic child he’ll make a doughy replica of a minature weenie dog…

IMG_0499…but he’ll also make something else in the “weenie” family…


He’ll then try to convince you it’s an elephant, but you will not be fooled because you’ve never seen him think an elephant was so freaking funny.

Happy Friday!!


Cowardly Lions

Usually this blog is the place I put my funny spin on being an ADD mom raising ADHD boys. I created this blog separate  from my primary blog, Wckedwords, so I wouldn’t bore the folks looking for heavier material with my ridiculous attempts to raise my children without a mental institution getting involved. Today’s post is on the serious side. April is Autism Awareness Month and my oldest son has autism. Life has been hard for him and a couple of years ago I wrote a piece about that struggle. I’m proud of it because outside of my Fifty Shades of Puddin’ series, it gained the most attention of all my posts. It was even read in churches and portions placed in newsletters. It felt good to help shed some light on what it can be like to raise a child with special needs, especially one who is being bullied. The first post I wrote on this blog was actually another serious one about the same subject– A Tale of Three Amaryllis. I hope that you’ll take the time to read them and possibly share  with others who may benefit from reading them. I promise to go back to making you laugh on Friday.

Thank you for your support– Ash

courtesy of wikimedia commons

courtesy of wikimedia commons

April has once again come and gone. It shouldn’t seem different to me than the passing of any other month, but it does. You see, at some point April was designated as Autism Awareness month. During this time store chains ask people to donate money at check-out and tape paper cutouts of puzzle pieces on their walls. More than once I’ve stood there with my credit card in hand, staring blankly at the cashier as she waits for me to answer if I want to add a donation to go towards Autism Awareness. My son is Autistic, but she doesn’t know that. Do I give a dollar so my name can be scribbled on that puzzle piece and taped on the wall when I’ve already spent thousands of dollars fighting for my son? Do I laugh like I want to and say, “Trust me, I’m more aware of Autism than you’ll ever think of being”? Those are thoughts that run through my brain as I slowly nod and pay the extra dollar.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a bad Autism mom because I don’t fight on a public platform. I don’t organize fun runs and social gatherings. I don’t wear a blue puzzle pin on my lapel. I don’t even have an Autism ribbon magnet on my car. Quite frankly, it sucks most of my energy just trying to research and implement what I need to be doing just for my own child; so fighting for the thousands of others seems daunting– even crippling. But saying that I don’t fight publicly is not saying I don’t speak about Autism. I do every day, and I have literally bibles full of materials and everything ever sent home concerning my son’s “special needs.” I’m open with people about what he has to the point that I’m having to stop myself. I tell him he can’t let Autism hold him back, yet I find myself using it as an excuse so that others won’t just think he’s weird, impolite, or just unintelligent. Most people look at me now and say something like “Oh, I didn’t have a clue,” and then I realize that I just labeled him—handicapped him– in the eyes of others. I say I want him to be treated normally, yet I’m making sure he isn’t.

My son’s Autism has made him an easy target for predators. Just like in the animal kingdom, predators are able to pick the easy target out of the crowd. They sense their weaknesses, and once their prey is in their sights– they go in for the kill. My son has more than once been on the receiving end of targeted abuse. At school he has been physically attacked more than once on the playground by the same child who waited for him to wander away from the others as he often does to play by himself. Another child thought it would be funny to try to shove his head in a toilet, but we were lucky that some other kids went for help. At a summer skate camp my son figured out quickly that he didn’t have the same physical skills as the other kids so he resorted to riding his board by sitting down. This annoyed another boy to the point that he hit my son with his skateboard and then stole his shoes and equipment and threw them over a fence where he couldn’t reach them. Each of these encounters has left my son with bruises that run much deeper than his flesh. He always puts on a tuff façade and holds his tears at bay until he finally breaks; and I hold and rock him as he weeps in my arms, and I do my best to hide my own tears as his pain rips at my soul. As his mother I want to be the soft place for him to land, but also the solid, unmoving support that holds him up when he’s feeling weak; so I don’t cry in front of him. I march on like he does until my own wall crumbles and I find myself shut in the laundry room where the sounds of the machines will drown out my crying as I sob into a dirty towel.

These are the times I become consumed with my anger, fears, and sadness while forgetting the blessings of my son and the opportunities he gives me and others to grow as humans. So here it is May, and Autism awareness month has come and gone again without me officially recognizing it. I think it’s because I knew it would be so difficult for me to do and I wasn’t sure what message I wanted to give. I don’t want people to read this and only have pity for him and the others like him. I don’t want the bullies and predators to be the ones whose actions are remembered; so I decided to post below the speech I’ve formed in my head more than once when I’ve been crying in the laundry room. This is the monologue I rehearse in my head, that if given the chance, I would deliver to the bully who’s harassed my son. This is the message about Autism I want to share.

Dear Bully-

Today you made the decision to hurt my son in one way or another. Something inside you whispered in your ear that by making my son feel less, you would feel greater. You chose to put aside kindness and inflict hurt. You and you alone chose to do this. I know that you had reason for doing this. You hurt inside. Someone in your life has made you feel like you made my son feel. For once you wanted to feel like you had the power, and so you chose to make my son feel even weaker than he already does.

I imagine it was easy for you to do. He’s small and doesn’t have many friends around him to help keep him safe. He probably didn’t even fight back at first because he didn’t quite understand what was happening. But you accomplished what you set out to do: you made him feel even more different, more of an outcast, more of a loser. As a mother I can say that I truly ache for you and whatever makes you hurt inside. You did not ask for whatever unfairness has found you, but neither did my son. He did not ask for the doctors to make mistakes at his birth. He did not ask to be born not breathing and have to be revived. He did not ask for countless illnesses and a first year of life that was physically excruciating. He did not ask for a condition that made his clothes feel like razorblades against his skin. He did not ask for sounds and smells and lights to be amplified by his senses to the point of being painful. He did not ask to feel like he isn’t even connected to his own body. He did not ask for Autism. He did not ask for you to remind him that he will never have the “normal” life you do.

You probably would never want to admit that you and my son are similar, but you are. You both feel less about yourself because of someone or something else. But that is where the similarity stops. You see, my son has every right to be just as angry as you. He has every reason to want to go make someone feel as bad as he does—but he doesn’t. Everyday my son chooses to take a different path than you did. He chooses to stand back up and walk back into the groups that make him feel different and bad about himself. He chooses to smile and try one more time to make a friend. He has done this everyday of his life. You knock him down and he gets back up. He chooses not to bully to make himself feel better, and that is why he’s my hero. He is the bravest person I know. His courage runs deep and the saddest thing is that you will never know those things about him because you only saw the outside. You saw a coward where I see a lion.

Maybe if you had taken a different path you could have been friends. Maybe you would have found someone that would have understood your pain and stood by your side, but you chose differently. You physically overcame my son, but know that you did not win. You’ll never win until you learn to choose differently, and my son and I pray that one day you will.

“What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?” -The Cowardly Lion The Wizard of Oz


M.L.H. Monday III

You know it's true.

You know it’s true.

Well, congratulations! You obviously survived the holiday weekend if you’re reading this. I don’t know about you, but this is how the Easter holiday typically plays out for me–

Good Friday. Desperate shopping Saturday. Easter Sunday. Half price Reese’s eggs Monday. Regretful Tuesday. Celery sticks and water Wednesday.

Sound familiar to you, too?

Actually, holidays and I have a love-hate relationship. The artsy perfectionist part of me loves the opportunity to use my creativity and skills to make everything sparkly and fun. My ADHD and tendency to run in circles does wonders at throwing wrenches in my Martha Stewart approved plans. I dream of baskets hand-woven from the grass I grew and reaped myself. Organic eggs from my organic fancy chickens that are dyed in organic dyes from beets that I juiced with my feet while dancing with my perfectly dressed children under a maypole laced with violets and pansies. But once my ADHD sticks its dirty little hands in the mix and sucks away my time, the kids are more likely to get a shoebox filled with a Lunchable and a half-eaten Snicker bar that smells oddly like Merlot.

Speaking of Merlot, let’s get on to the first part of Mommy’s Little Helper Monday– The Libation:

I decided to stick with the Easter theme and came up with a cocktail that I’ve christened “The Bunny Tail.”

photoNow, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not nearly as complicated as it looks. Just follow these detailed instructions and you too can be sipping on a Bunny Tail before you’re kids get home from school. First: Get out a wine glass. Second: Clean the glass (sparkling clean from hand washing with your organic soap and organic cotton dishrag, or glittering from chemicals, or smudged from a spit-n-shine–you choose). Third: Open a bottle of wine by any means necessary (pick out the glass if you had to break it open). Fourth: Pour wine into glass. Fifth: Place holiday-themed Pez dispenser into glass. Ta-da!!! If it doesn’t come out quite right on your first attempt, don’t give up. Everything gets easier with practice and you’ll be making them like a pro in no time.

Now, on to the useful tip that I usually call the Duh–I Already Knew That Helpful Tip, but in keeping with the Easter theme I’ve decided to provide you with a craft idea. I literally have two armoires overflowing with craft supplies, so who better to pass on a little project? This will be my Half-ass Martha project, also known as a “Seriously? It’s Another @!#$&*%  Holiday? Craft.” A little twist to this lesson is that I know not everyone has access to all of the supplies I do, so I’ve dumbed it down to something everyone can do. So, without further ado, meet Corky!

Corky, a special Easter friend.

Corky, a special Easter friend.

I know that I’m really pushing this Monday with the complicated drink and now this intricate craft, but I have faith in you; and besides, you can’t grow if you don’t push yourself. First: find a cork. If you don’t have one there’s something wrong with you go buy a bottle of champagne, drink it, and use the cork. Easy. Second: grab a cotton ball and a cotton swab. Third: cut the swab in half. Pierce two holes on top of the cork and shove those babies in there. Fourth: Glue the cotton ball on the Franken-bunny’s ass. Fifth: draw a cute little face with a Sharpie, markers,  make-up or whatever you got. Done!! Now display your masterpiece right in the middle of your Waterford eggs or whatever priceless treasures you possess like the ones above.

Wow!! You’ve made it through another M.L.H. post. I’m sure you learned more than your “Monday brain” can handle but I have faith in you and the wine aisle at Trader Joe’s. So, happy Monday, folks!! Oh, and ….

Happy April Fools’ to you and Happy Birthday to my mom (you have no idea how appropriate that is for her).


Life With Boys

I have 3 boys. They are currently ages 12, 9, and 4. Two have ADHD. One has Aspergers. One has dyslexia. And one was obviously just put here to torture his siblings and drive me insane. That pretty much says it all. My life is a complex mix of soccer, bug catching, mud wallowing, Lego booby traps, nut-shots, and all things relating to the release of bodily gases. Every day I teeter on the fine line between refereeing another fight over somebody stealing somebody elses shit in Minecraft and packing up my Rosetta stone and fleeing. I post occasional photos of my boys and their antics on my Facebook account, but I decided to share them here, too. This will be the first in a series that will hopefully give other moms the chance to either say, “My kids do that too,” or “Damn, I’ve got it easier than I thought.” Either way, hopefully you’ll have a laugh and hide your Learn Dutch in Two Hours tapes away for another day.

When you’re a mom of boys your youngest son will decide…

128…that your push-up bra serves much better as an ass cushion for long coloring sessions.

As a mom of boys you will discover that if you leave that same child alone with paint because, God forbid, you have to pee…


… he will turn himself into a Na’vi in 2 minutes flat.

You will also find as a mom of boys that the same child who draws this masterpiece with sidewalk chalk…


…will wait until a total stranger is coming to inspect your house and draw this…

March 2013 279(On the upside, this son is severely dyslexic and I was told he spelled it all by himself…you have to find the little victories).

And there’s a brief glance into the everyday antics I endure. Trust me, I have more and I will share.

Do you have boy? Well, here’s a place to share. Tell us what crazy crap they’ve done and how you keep from dropping them off at the fire station (besides that stupid abandonment law written by people with less than 3 kids).


Mommy’s Little Helper Monday

I totally planned on having this written yesterday and posted early this morning, but guess what– that was crazy talk. I got lured in by a warm fireplace and an idea for another Ambrosia Wood book (the gal from Fifty Shades of Puddin’ for y’all who don’t know). Anyway, this just didn’t get done last night but I knew all three kids would be at school today and I could crank this out in a New York minute (make that a Texas minute–I don’t do any thing New York-fast except run away from scorpions or towards a Nordstrom shoe sale). But the Universe laughed at that little plan and made sure one of the kids was sick and needing extra attention.

But it’s 6 minutes until noon and I’m finally in front of the computer ready to hit you with some Mommy Helping fa-shizzle. Let’s not waste our precious time, the day is slipping away and my blood alcohol level is dangerously low.

The Libation:

All you need to make a pitcher of Sarasotas.

All you need to make a pitcher of Sarasotas.

I saw a drink posted a couple of times on Pinterest called a Sarasota. This immediately caught my attention because I used to live there. In fact, this is the city where I met my husband and gave birth to my oldest son. It’s a magical city that I fell in love with the first time I went to visit my BFF. When I got fired from my job in Little Rock and broke up with Mr. I-tried-to-make-him-right-but-he-so-wasn’t #36, I packed what I could fit into my little mustang convertible, gave the rest to my family, and moved to the city of white sand and blue water. I decided that a drink named after that city must be a liquid angel straight from heaven.

The recipes on Pinterest called for Moscato or reisling, raspberry lemonade concentrate, Sprite, and fresh raspberries; but I can’t leave well enough alone. I decided that the Sprite was just for bubbles and would water-down my child-saving-sanity-juice, so I revised the recipe. I figured a bottle of cheap sparkling moscato could work double-time and it cut one thing off the shopping list. Dump the raspberry lemonade concentrate in a pitcher, pour the bottle of sparkly goodness in, stir it up, thrown in some raspberries and bottoms up!

Now on to the Duh–I Already Knew That Helpful Tip:

I am not a perfect parent. Never have been and never will be. I often forget meetings or to check homework. I never volunteer for serious roles in the PTA (insurance just can’t cover that type of catastrophe) and I’m certainly not good at giving the kids an example of living a tidy, organized life. But– I am a creative parent. I am and artist, writer, and god help them, an actress. I am the mom who will commit to the role of Popeye just to get a spoonful of spinach down their throats. I will cook and serve our spaghetti as a neurotic Italian man with a fear of utensils. I start wars with pool noodles (best lightsabers EVER) just to break up a real fight. I am the mom who realizes at 7am that her child is supposed to be in a costume for school, and will somehow make an exact replica of freakin’ Gandolf using only some fishing line, a pillowcase, cotton balls, and pipe cleaners. I am McGyver in that department. Don’t even try me or you’ll find a car bomb in your minivan made out of toilet paper rolls and some hair gel.

So within the hurricane of creativity I live in, here is my little trick I’ve created to help manage the butt-loads of toys and belongings my children like to drag downstairs and forget about after a few minutes. After many times of stepping on Legos, finding Batman in my bathtub and a T-rex in my panty drawer, this is what I came up with…

The Bucket of Despair--Mercy on the lost souls left to perish in this dark and dastardly place.

The Bucket of Despair–Mercy on the lost souls left to perish in this dark and dastardly place.

The Bucket of Despair. It lives on the landing of our stairwell. All toys and belongings left downstairs by the kids are sent here. If they are not put back where they belong by the end of the week they find new homes. I came up with the idea back when we were up to our arm pits in Harry Potter and started it out as a simple basket. Once I discovered this bucket at Target during Halloween, I knew where it’s forever-home would be. And it works pretty well. So far only a few stray toys have found themselves in the donation box. I’m just waiting for the day to be tested on a large, expensive item. I’m hoping I can keep up my strength when I’m tested. God have mercy on me when I am 🙂

And now that I’ve dazzled you with cocktails and my parenting knowledge, it’s time to laugh (which I’m sure you’re still doing over the fact that I offered parenting advice). Anywho…I was recently shocked to discover some x-rated activity taking place in the alley behind our home. I was innocently out and about spying on neighbors taking a walk when I discovered the seedy underbelly of our little suburb. It appeared that R rated fungi were growing amongst the St. Augustine and Zoysia. The yard gnomes were there like little pimps, charging other perverted lawn dwellers for the show. And here’s the proof…

Shake those shittakes, baby!!

Shake those shittakes, baby!!

Hey, if you haven’t figured out that I have the sense of humor of a 15-year-old boy by now, you’re slow. Happy Monday!!!!


Hush Little Babies

Photo courtesy of

I was scanning through random stories this morning and after a series of one link leading to another, I found a post on CafeMom  titled “11-Year-Old Girl Who Gave Birth is Not Normal” by Jeanne Sager. The author tells us from the beginning that the article is her response to the shock/repulsion that this has happened. She is flabbergasted at what the world has come to and that reaction is more than understandable. She openly states that the purpose of her post is to “talk herself off the ledge” and make herself and the reader feel better about the situation by reciting the facts/stats that proclaim this is not the norm in the good ol’ U.S of A. (the little girl lives in Columbia). But I think there was a missed opportunity to “enlighten” the reading public in a different way; a more uncomfortable but, in my humble opinion, more important way.

Before I get into the guts of this I want to make very clear that this is not meant as a criticism of this author or her article. I read her bio and she’s a funny, talented, multi-tasking mom who I would probably get on with quite well. I even encourage my readers (especially moms) to check her out. And as far as the content of the article goes, she told us straight-up it was meant to help us feel better about the tragedy of a child having a child; but my reaction and response to the news story is a little different, so I’m going to just simply take this in another direction without any intention of belittling the work of Jeanne.

Now, down to the ugly business of this. My reaction to the headline was minimal; a simple sigh of sadness but not surprise or shock. This will probably sound cynical or uncaring to those who don’t know my background, so I’m going to explain. My first “real” job after graduating with my psychology degree was working as a behaviorist/weekend supervisor for a residential facility for pregnant teens. This was in the southern United States, not a foreign country. I won’t get any more specific than that as I want to maintain as much privacy as possible for the girls that lived there and, unfortunately, keep distance between myself and some of the people I had to deal with.

This facility had been in operation for over 100 years and originated as a home where unwed girls and women could be hidden away for 9 months until their babies were born and adopted. By the time I went to work for the organization its purpose had changed drastically. It essentially had become a place to house pregnant minors (not just teens) that were wards of the state. This meant that the girls had been temporarily or permanently removed from the care of their parents and placed in the foster care system. Our facility provided an on-staff nurse, therapists, a school, parenting classes, guaranteed meals, and (for the most part) a safe place to live.

I’m not going to dribble on about the details of how the facility ran (or didn’t run) or even the slow process of emotional numbing I went through during my time there; I’m just going to cut to the barebones ugliness of what the reality is here in our country. I’m going to shine a light on it because I don’t want to sweep this under the rug with pretty statistics that make it easy for us to ignore. I don’t want us to talk ourselves off the ledge. I want more people to stand on the ledge and scream at the top of their lungs, “There are children that need us! Take off your blinders!”

While I was there (only one year due to the extreme depression the job caused), I watched 3 twelve-year-olds give birth. I remember one girl who’s IQ probably hovered in the 80’s squeal with glee on her thirteenth birthday just simply because she would be a teenager when she gave birth. I was told by fellow staff that the youngest girl they’d ever had was 10 but luckily she’d miscarried. I watched countless 14, 15 and 16-year-old girls give birth. I was even the birth coach for three different girls who had nobody else they trusted. I watched the women from the catholic organizations come in and talk to blank faces about the beauty of giving their babies up for adoption. During my employment we had only one girl (a smart, gifted athlete) enter the home with the intentions of adoption (she had family but Medicaid would pay for girls to attend the facility even if they weren’t in the foster system). She was bullied severely by the other girls. These 14-year-olds told her she wasn’t a “real woman” if she didn’t keep her baby. Despite our best efforts, she left the facility with her new baby girl.

I met another girl who had lived with her mother in a home that had no electricity or running water. She didn’t even know how to use deodorant or shave when she arrived. Her mother had literally pimped-out her 14-year-old daughter to men in their town. If she needed her car fixed and couldn’t afford it, she’d just tell the mechanic, “You should meet my daughter.” The girl was pregnant by a 40-year-old man but 14 is the age of consent in that state. A judge was at least smart enough to place the girl with us but that didn’t keep mom from visiting. This girl had severe anger issues and was huge. I had to step between fights with her and other residents more than once. She worked out a system with her mom that she would fake labor once a week, late at night when the nurse wasn’t on shift at the home. One of the staff would have to drive her to the hospital where her mom would be waiting along with the new 40-something man she had chosen as a husband for her daughter. This guaranteed hours of time together as they knew the hospital would be slow and the state would pick up the tab. After the girl had the baby I distinctly remember her erupting into one of her ferocious tantrums, the entire time her newborn son barely dangling from the crook of her arm. We could only stand and try to calm her because we couldn’t risk a physical take-down. A few weeks later a judge decided that the girl could go back to her mother who promptly took her back to the courthouse the next day and signed-off permission for the 14-year-old to marry the new boyfriend so she could not only “raise” her new son but also the 4 children of the new husband.

Are you getting sick yet? I hope so. You, the public, need to know that this is all around us. I’m not even including all of the stories. There’s the 24-year-old grandmother I met (you do the math). There was the girl who came in on an emergency transfer one night who was 14, pregnant from a rape by her uncle, and had the mental and emotional capacity of a 6-year-old. She was terrified and didn’t know why they’d taken her from her grandmother. I prevented her from killing herself that night. There was the girl with scars all over her body from the beatings endured by her father, who the court kept returning her to. I could go on and on with heartbreaking stories but the purpose isn’t to make you so sick that you just turn your head, it’s to make you aware and quite honestly, angry. Our system is broken and will continue to be as long as we keep putting rose-colored glasses on every time we see something ugly.

We have to find ways to improve sex education. It’s obvious those moms aren’t reading these parenting blogs or sitting down and having heart-to-hearts with their kids. We need to stop banning the promotion of contraception in our schools and only embracing the promotion of abstinence (seriously, how many of you were virgins on your wedding night?). We have to boycott shows like Teen Mom!! The girls I worked with often defended themselves by saying, “My mom was only (insert age) when she had me and she’s fine!” It is a system of generational ignorance, a horrible cycle that needs to be broken. We need to support organizations that try to educate these kids. We need to do more to fix the very broken foster system. We need to stop feeling so good about statistics because they’re only numbers. We need to care about the people: the babies having babies. I don’t have the answers, but it has to start with at least acknowledging that it does exist and not just in other countries.

So read the articles that show us the statistics of what is going well, but then let’s figure out how to make it even better. Continue to educate yourself and your children, but pay attention to the ugly side too and try to find a way to extend the love you have for your own kids to some that aren’t so lucky in the parent department.