Monday, March 3, 2014

It Is Time To Move On {Atypical Familia}

Note: This will be my very last blog post here. I will now be blogging at


Three years ago, I started AutismWonderland as a class assignment. Before I knew blogging was a real thing. I didn't know about SEO, HTML or Hashtags. I thought Twitter was pointless. And it was way before my first Pin or Instagram.

I started AutismWonderland on a whim. I thought it would be the thing to get me an easy A. And it did. But when the class was over, I realized I wanted to keep going. 

And my life has changed because of it.

When I started this blog in 2010. I had suffered a miscarriage. I was working full-time. I was in graduate school part-time. The Husband (Joseph) had retired from one job and starting a new career in law enforcement. And it was The Boy's (Norrin) last year of pre-school. We were in the midst of the Turning 5 process. I was touring and applying to schools and studying special education law in case I needed to file for an impartial hearing and sue the Department of Education. (Which I did. Twice. Without a lawyer.)  

I truly felt like Alice and I had fallen down this rabbit hole, desperately trying to claw my way out.

Last September I was interviewed for NY Metro Parents. And I was asked if I still felt like Alice. The question caught me off guard. It forced me to think about our life and my blog. And I've been contemplating them both ever since. 

Blogging has helped me cope with my depression and the loneliness I felt after Norrin's diagnosis. Writing about my miscarriage helped me heal. I've met people on line who have inspired me. I built an online community who guided me through the maze of special education. 

And I am extremely grateful for the love, strength and support blogging and this community  has given me.

But I don't feel like Alice anymore. I am quite comfortable in our world. And I don't consider it to be separate from anyone else's. Different, maybe. But not separate.  

It's the reason why I've had trouble writing or sharing here lately because I felt like it was forced.

As a family, we've settled into our lives. Norrin is in a good place. There's no longer a Dept of Ed threat. (Hope it stays that way.) He has made astounding progress. He's getting everything he needs. And that is the only thing that matters.

I was rereading Norrin's original evaluation report. And I saw something that bothered me when I first read it. A psychologist wrote:

Both parents are committed...The family strength is their concern and caring nature. Their weakness is that they do not, as yet, understand the nature of Norrin's developmental delays. 

At the time, I didn't understand what the psychologist meant. Nearly six years later, I do. (That's for a whole other post...look for it.)  

I won't lie. Autism is a big part of our life. But our lives go beyond autism. Does that make sense?

And is time to move on.

My new blog is called Atypical Familia. I hope you follow our family journey there.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Survey Says! {7 Question Survey}

I have a big announcement to make in the coming weeks! It's been a long time coming and I can't wait to share.

But before I do, I'd love to hear from you! I created this super quick survey - only 7 questions. Thank you so much! 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, February 14, 2014

#ValentinesDay Love Notes {in Pictures}

It's another Valentine's Day and it's a day of loved and mixed emotions. At least for me. It's a day to remember loved ones...especially the ones that are no longer with us

We don't really celebrate Valentine's - we remember our love in the day to day things. It's the little moments in our marriage that make us work. Marriage is hard and ours isn't easy. But after ten years of marriage we can still laugh... 

Now I think The Husband and I make a cute couple but Miss Piggy and Kermit? Their love is the kind of thing that movies are made of. Oh. Wait.... 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Club Penguin and Online Safety #ItStartsWithYou

Last week I was invited to the 1st ever Club Penguin Safety Summit. Club Penguin is the #1 Virtual World for Kids. Chris Heatherly, VP of Club Penguin, described the virtual world as "the largest playground for kids." With over 200 million penguins, in 90 countries and 6 languages, Club Penguin is the first "social media experience" for kids. 

Not only is Club Penguin a fun place for kids, it's dedicated to keeping them safe. Club Penguin goes through great lengths to keep the space bully free for kids. With over 200 moderators (in 4 locations and 6 languages) and specialized technology filters, Club Penguin has multiple layers of safety features.

At the Safety Summit, I learned how rude and inappropriate language is banned. And I was impressed by the complexity of the filters. For example, a player can say "I'm going to the beach" but cannot say "You're such a beach." Players can chat, however, they are unable to share personal information such as email or phone numbers. The moderators also know to look for signs of online predators within the space.     

As parents we worry about our kids. We want to keep them safe on the playground and online. In another effort to continue and promote online safety, Club Penguin has launched the "It Starts With You" campaign. 

"The question is no longer whether kids should be online, but how to prepare them for a social online world,’ said Heatherly. 'It Starts with You!' is about empowering kids and their parents with the information they need to play an active and educated role in online safety.”

The ‘It Starts with You!’ online safety campaign will include:
  • A branded campaign on Disney Channel and Disney’s online networks featuring a safety PSA starring G Hannelius from Disney Channel’s “Dog With A Blog,” the hit comedy series for kids and families.
  • An online safety resource center ( to help kids and parents learn the latest in online safety and empower them to be good digital citizens. The resource center will offer:
    • Multilingual safety tips for kids about how to protect their information online and be respectful to others
    • Multilingual online safety information and news for parents
    • Printable activity sheets to help kids be thoughtful digital citizens
    • Online safety PSA starring G Hannelius
    • Printable safety pledge for families to take together that encourages communication about online usage and rules.
  • Within the world of Club Penguin, an in-game quiz to test players’ knowledge about online safety. Players that successfully complete the quiz will earn an exclusive virtual item for their penguin avatar. 

Today is Safer Internet Day, the purpose is to "to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world."

Raising a child with autism, bullying is a matter that concerns me. Kids with autism are easy targets and more likely to be bullied. However in recent years, bullying is not only a school yard/playground threat, "cyberbullying has become one of the most prevalent types of bullying that occurs between teens. About 80 percent of all high school students have encountered being bullied in some fashion online." 

I've written about the benefits of video games and kids with special needs. I have seen how it's helped my son. And I'm all for using technology to teach social skills. One day, my son may want to engage in social media. I want him to have the freedom to do so but I want to make sure he is safe. And it's reassuring to know that within Club Penguin, he will be.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Club Penguin Safety Summit. No monetary compensation was received, all opinions are my own.

images via Disney Interactive    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Baked Apple Turnovers {made with Splenda} | #Moms4JNJConsumer #AD

Disclaimer: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.


Last month I was excited to kick off 2014 with a little box of goodies from The Motherhood and information on how you can save on Johnson & Johnson Healthy Essentials. And I'm happy to say that the savings on Healthy Essentials are continuing through February. Right in time for Valentine's Day!

This year Valentine's falls on a Friday. Being special needs parents, child care is limited and date nights are rare. We don't really go crazy celebrating. But I try to do a little something to sweeten the day. 

Since we both work on Friday and I don't typically make breakfast, I thought I'd treat The Husband with a heartwarming breakfast treat to enjoy with his coffee. When I found this recipe for Baked Apple Turnovers made with Splenda, I knew it would be perfect.
Splenda is a No Calorie Sweetener and can be used almost anywhere sugar is used, including cooking and baking. It measures cup-for-cup like sugar, but contains 678 calories less than sugar on a cup-for-cup basis. One teaspoon of Splenda contains the sweetness equivalency of one teaspoon of sugar with no calories or carbohydrates. 

Now I'm not much of a baker and my cooking skills are just okay. But I found this recipe easy and quick. And I had all the ingredients in my kitchen (with the exception of the refrigerated pie crust). Since it's Valentine's, I thought it would be fun to use heart shaped cookie cutters. 

Don't they look great? I'm feeling pretty proud of myself considering this was my first time making these.  

Baked Apple Turnovers not your thing, how about  delicious Raspberry Heart Cookies (made with Splenda) that taste as good as they look? You can check out the recipe HERE.


How You Can Save

You can get significant savings by visiting the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS website in February and signing up for extra-sweet HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® coupons and offers. As you prepare for a special Valentine’s Day, these HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products and tips can help you be healthy and happy for the ones you love.  
Get a printable coupon for $1 off any SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener product at at To sweeten the savings, you could get a free 30 minute nutrition consultation with a Registered Dietitian when you buy $10 of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products between now and February 17, 2014 – up to $75 value! More details on this special offer at


Disclaimer: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

#EverythingIsAwesome about The LEGO Movie

Disclaimer: I was provided with passes to The LEGO Movie screening. All opinions are my own. 

When we first saw the preview for The LEGO Movie, The Boy said "I want to see that in the movie theater." Which was a really big deal for because we really go to the movies, and The Boy rarely expresses what he wants to see in theaters.

Going to the movies used to be a huge challenge for us. Over this last year, The Boy has gotten better and we've learned how to prepare

So The LEGO Movie. 

We are HUGE LEGO fans. And it was so cool to see our favorite Lego characters (and new ones) and scenes come to life. Fun and action packed, The LEGO Movie is a perfect family film as it appeals to kids and adults. 

What The Husband Loved: The Husband is a fan of Ray Harry Hausen and Rankin and Bass, The LEGO Movie was nostalgic of the Stop Motion features he grew up watching.

What The Boy Loved: The Boy loved all the fast-paced, action sequences. Some of the talking went over his head and he didn't get all of the humor. But he liked watching it. He did get antsy at point and I knew to take him out and walk him around. (This also caused me to miss what The Husband called "The best part of the movie…" ***spoiler alert*** it involved Lando Calrissian.

What I Loved: The LEGO Movie goes beyond being a fun film, it's a movie with a message and for me that was the real appeal. It also surprised me. There was a twist toward the end that I never saw coming which just made the movie all the more special. 

Whether you're a lover of LEGO or not, The LEGO movie will dare you to live your life more creatively.  

The LEGO Movie opens in theaters on February 7th. 

On February 15 at 10 am, there will be a Sensory Friendly Viewing of The LEGO Movie - for more details visit: 

With The Boy waiting for The LEGO Movie to begin!

Disclaimer: I was provided with passes to The LEGO Movie screening. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

TGIF | Friday Fragments {Ugly Crying & Challenges}

I am a HUGE How I Met Your Mother Fan. If you've never seen an episode of How I Met Your Mother or if you used to watch but got bored waiting for Ted to meet the "Mother" - Monday night's 200th episode was one of THE BEST of the entire series and one you should watch. Truly worth the wait, because they nailed it. And by the time we got to the First Song, I was ugly crying. You may want to grab some tissues before watching.  

Earlier this week I tweeted a comedian who used "autistic" to make fun of someone's dancing. You will NEVER believe the response I got! You can read all about it, HERE.


I've been participating in the #365FeministSelfie Challenge created by Veronica of Viva La Feminista. I love seeing what other women are sharing across social media. Don't feel pressured to do it every day - I certainly don't.  Below is the Instagram picture that I shared on Monday morning while on my way to work. But my pictures throughout the week tell a different story and by #365FeministSelfie is looking a wee bit different.    


And speaking of challenges...It's about time I start challenging myself. I gained a lot of weight in 2013 and I really need to get it under control. I began 2014 tipping the scale at 175lbs. I need to get motivated. I need to get back in the gym and working out at home and eating better. So starting tomorrow February 1st (ending March 2nd) I'm doing the Athleta 30 Day Squat Challenge. Will you join me?  

TGIFriday Fragments! 

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Monday, January 27, 2014

Thank You Tyler Gildin {Comedian Apologies for using "Autistic" as a Joke}

This morning, I quickly scrolled through my FB feed and saw a link to The Most Awkward Dance Moments of The 2014 Grammy Awards. I didn't watch the Grammy's so I was interested in seeing some of the write ups. And Tyler Gildin's article was pretty hilarious. 

Then I saw the caption: Autistic Bear Bounce. And I stopped laughing. 

Because the singer's (I'm old and have no idea who the woman is) dance movements looked like The Boy's stim - eyes half closed, arms moving up and down stiffly. And it pained me. The Boy cannot help his stim. He does it when he's excited or frustrated or scared. 

And lately, The Boy's been interested in dancing. He's always talking about having a "dance party." His dancing, is usually just jumping up and down or moving stiffly from side to side. Dancing doesn't come naturally to him. It's only in the last year that he's acquired the motor planning to dress himself. 

I took the joke of "Autistic Bear Bounce"personally. I couldn't just let it go. So I left a comment. And then I sent Tyler Gildin a tweet.

And you know what happened? He not only changed the caption but he apologized. 

Tyler Gildin could have been a jerk (ahem, DL Hughley). Gildin could have easily turned against me on Twitter and made me a target of his ridicule. And he didn't have to change his article. But he did. And I appreciate it. 

Someone replied to my comment, saying I should "chill out." But I just can't chill when it comes to autism or any other special need being the punchline to a joke. It's not okay to make fun of autism. Ever. I have written about use of the 'r-word' and I worry that autism will soon replace it as a derogatory term. I don't want to be the word police. But people must be held accountable. People need to understand why their words matter. I hope Gildin understands the power and impact of his words. And I hope that he'll think before using autism as the punchline.   

When I think of how hard The Boy has worked to do all the things that come so easily for other kids like point his finger, wave, jump or speak. I am so proud and I cherish every one of those milestones (they are often the things that keep me going). It’s incredibly painful when people use autism as a term of ridicule. 

The Boy is growing up. One day, he may like a girl or want to play basketball with the neighborhood kids or apply for a job. I don't want to think about him being left out or made fun of because he's different. All I want is for him to be given a chance and to be understood.

I'm just one mom. I can't change the world. But today, I changed one person's mind.  And it's a small victory.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

TGIF | Friday Fragments

Last night I made the mistake of staying up late to watch a movie and went to bed after midnight. By 3am, I was woken up by The Boy. I heard the pitter patter of his flat feet hitting the parquet floors and a door slam. I jumped out of bed and into The Boy's room and saw his blanket was missing. I felt his sheet. It was wet. We started nighttime potty training.

"Where's your blanket?" I asked The Boy.

"I put it in the laundry," The Boy replied. 

He actually put the blanket in the dryer. And he never went back to sleep. Which meant, I never went back to sleep. 


I checked my bank account and saw $30 spent on Apple iTunes. The Boy figured out the passcode and ordered $30 in Apps. YAY! for typical age appropriate sneaky kid behavior. BOO! for $30 in Apps that he'll probably serve no purpose.  

The Boy turned eight years old last Sunday. Eight! That's two years away from ten. And five years from being a teen… Okay, I'll stop now. 

Like most moms, I reflect and wonder where the time went. I wish I could will time to stand still. And I think about his future. Thinking about his future usually keeps me up at night. The Boy's birthday is celebrated but it brings about such complex emotions.

And last Friday night I was given a makeover. I don't get gussied up often, but when I do I need a team to make it happen. More details on that next week. 

TGIFriday Fragments! 

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Sunday, January 19, 2014

AW Sunday Review | 7 Steps to Nighttime Dryness

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of  Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness  and a Dry-Me Enuresis Alarm for review purposes.  The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

The Boy will be eight years old tomorrow and he still wears a pull up at night. It took us a few years for him to be fully potty trained during the day. I've been holding off night time potty training.

When I was approached by Renee Mercer, MSN, CPNP, the author of Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness to review a copy of her book and to try the Dry Me Enuresis Alarm - I immediately said yes.

I just finished reading through the book and I think I'm really ready to start. Commitment and consistency are critical during daytime potty training and even more so for nighttime.

What I like about the Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness is that it helps explain bedwetting and possible factors (including constipation). The book also breaks down the different alarms so that you may pick the one that's best for your child. There's also a weekly progress chart to help keep track. 

While the "7 Steps" is written for "typical" kids, Mercer has a section that goes "Beyond Seven Steps" which addresses special cases including kids with special needs. Mercer assures that if a child has maintained dryness during the day that nighttime dryness is a strong possibility. She goes on to say that: If you have a child with special needs, it is important to understand your goal. And then proceeds to explain various options. 

My goal is to get The Boy to wake up to use the bathroom during the night. And the Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness has given me the tools and motivation to start the process. 

In the next few weeks, I'll share how we're preparing and our progress with the Dry-Me alarm. 

If you're considering daytime potty training your child, check out my Parents posts: 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of  7 Steps to Nighttime Dryness  and a Dry-Me Enuresis Alarm for review purposes.  The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You Would Have Been Three

The May I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I was happy. It was the right time. We were ready. The due date was January 20th - The Boy's birthday.

That August - in my 16th week - I had a missed miscarriage

This is an open letter to my baby in heaven: 

I don't even know if you were a boy or a girl. In my mind, I imagine you as a girl. A little girl with bobbed curls, dimpled cheeks and bright eyes. You are the little sister, Norrin asks for. I would have named you Leia. 

You would have been three years old. 

There is not a day that passes that I do not think of you. But the days in August and January are the ones that make my heart ache the most. August is when I lost you and I mourn for my loss. And January, I mourn for you and all the things you could have been. 

As I shop and prepare for Norrin's 8th birthday. I think of you. And I have to stop to catch my breath and blink my tears away. I think about how fun three can be. And what party theme you would have wanted. 

I think about how unfair my grief is to Norrin. It's hard to celebrate another year of life, when I am reminded of loss. When he sees me crying, he sits besides me and asks if I've been watching a sad movie. And I envy his innocence. He is unaware I am crying for you. 

On the 20th, I hold my tears in. It is Norrin's day and I celebrate him. When we light his candles, I think about all the progress he's made over the course of the year.  And when he blows out the candles, I make a wish for Norrin and say a prayer for you. 

While I was pregnant, people asked me if I was scared of having another child with autism. But this week as I think of you at three years old. I don't think of autism or special education or more therapists in our home. 

All I think about is how much joy you would have brought us. I think about how I would have loved tucking you in and reading you bedtime stories. I think about what an awesome big brother Norrin would have made. I think about how wonderful it would have been for Norrin to have a sibling, to have someone else in this world, someone he could depend on after I am gone. I think about all the memories and milestones we have been denied.

I think how much I would have loved to hold you, even if just once.


Life is Like a Bicycle | #WordlessWednesday

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stock Up On Healthy Essentials | #Moms4JNJConsumer #ad

DisclaimerThis post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.

I have this little ritual around New Year's. I go into major clean mode. I start organizing, sorting and throwing things away. I like going into the New Year feeling like I have a completely fresh start. One of the areas I spent a lot of time was my linen closet. 

My linen closet - by the way - has no linen. It's pretty much a storage space for towels,  toiletries, first aid necessities and other healthy essentials. I toss anything that's expired and if it doesn't have an expiration date - if I can't remember when I bought it, then it goes too. Then I take stock of what I have and what I need. 

Turned out, I needed quite a few things. Luckily I received this beautiful box of Healthy Essentials…

And it's great to know that there's a way to save on other healthy essentials not found in my box of goodies. Guess what? You can too. 

Get Significant Savings from Healthy Essentials this Month

To help families usher in a healthy New Year, HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® is offering amazing printable coupons, tips & tools and so much more. Here’s the deal: you can save over $45 by visiting in January and signing up for extra-special HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® coupons and offers.

Now is the perfect time for a fresh start to your healthcare routine and to create healthy resolutions. From pain & allergy relief to dietary & digestive health to products for kids & babies, there are significant savings on items for every member of the family! Visit to sign up!

I am excited to join Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies for a Twitter party to talk about HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® for the New Year, resolutions, family wellness and how to score great deals on health and hygiene products! Learn how HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® can help you reach health-related goals for 2014.

When: Tuesday, January 14, 1 p.m. ET

Hashtag: #Moms4JNJConsumer 

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann, @TheMotherhood25 

Prizes: We will randomly award 15 prizes throughout the party, from all eligible correct responses to trivia questions. Each prize includes an assortment of Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products with an estimated retail value of $50.

Prize Eligibility: No purchase necessary. Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States + D.C. 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited.

Want to go to 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™? Visit and see if your wish could come true. Plus, get tips and coupons to save on your favorite products for the New Year.

All you have to do is share a picture or story of a moment of caring in your life and you could scream “GOAL!” from Brazil.

Visit for more information on this amazing opportunity!

DisclaimerThis post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.