The Warrior Ranger: Be brave and be yourself

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The brave Pink Warrior Ranger

Happy Halloween! I wanted to share with you this awesome picture of a brave, unique young man and real-life superhero. He has enjoyed the Power Rangers since he was very little, and his favorites happened to be the Pink and Yellow Rangers. It didn’t bother him that they were girls, he just knew that they were awesome. He also greatly respects and admires his mother, and her favorite color is pink. To top it all off, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So this cool dude came up with a plan to wear this Pink Ranger costume to his elementary school.

At this point I think the best description would be the words written by his proud mother:

So proud of this child who, true to himself, wore this costume to school. When the teasing peaked, the critics were silenced when he told them he wore it for Breast Cancer Awareness. His critics became his defenders as his teacher is battling this disease. 

That’s right. The other reason that this brave little individual wore pink to school was to support his beloved teacher who was fighting breast cancer. By the way, he is only in SECOND grade. So young, but already such a leader. He has also overcome many obstacles in his own life. I can’t give you details, but believe me when I say that he is a fighter! This little guy has a big heart and and even bigger strength of character. He courageously stood up for someone he cared about AND was true to himself. He didn’t care that what he wore was unusual, he just knew that it made him happy and it was something he wanted to do. Even if it was “different.” Even if he might get teased. THAT is strength. That is beauty. That is uniqueness. And that is SERIOUSLY not boring.

Rock on, young Ranger! Way to be a Warrior!

The Awesome Older Brother

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My little pumpkin on his first Halloween

My firstborn son is AWESOME. Here is a picture of him on his first Halloween… isn’t he ADORABLE? Sometimes I miss that sweet baby and those fat cheeks, but I am massively proud of the young man that he is becoming (almost 10!). He is smart, kind, creative, responsible, caring, funny, and even occasionally snarky (but in a good way). He has a strong sense of right and wrong and hates to see other people in uncomfortable situations (which has the unfortunate side effect of limiting our movie choices at times). He feels things very deeply and doesn’t always talk about it, but shows it it other ways. He also still loves to hug his mamma, and will reach out to hold my hand when we walk down the street. There is still a hint of little boy left in him and I am trying to cherish every moment. Sometimes when he thinks no one is looking I hear him singing to himself. Every time I find myself getting annoyed at the noise I remember that all too soon he will be grown-up and the singing will stop, so I smile and enjoy the music.

My oldest son is also an incredible companion and occasional caretaker for his younger brother, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Siblings of children with special needs are quite often the unsung heroes of the family. They can be amazing advocates for their siblings, and learn about patience and compassion and diversity as the result of their upbringing. Continue reading

The Spider-Finger Incident

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Amazing that something so small could cause so much trouble. Our family attended a Fall Festival at the boys’ school last weekend and there was fun and games and PRIZES. My youngest son earned this small plastic spider ring and proceeded to jam it on his finger… this very small, non-adjustable ring, on the fattest of his fingers. The next discovery was that he couldn’t get said ring OFF of his finger! He walked up to me with huge, pitiful eyes that were starting to well up with tears, bottom lip quivering, and showed me the offending spider-finger.

After some unsuccessful attempts at removal the tears were flowing down his sweet little cheeks. I enlisted the aid of two dad friends of mine and borrowed some keys to try to pry the ring off or break the plastic. Unfortunately I didn’t think that through and the leverage caused the key to dig into his poor little finger. My son started sobbing. Then one of the dads tried to simply muscle the ring off of his finger, thinking that if he just yanked quickly and hard enough it will pop right off. Instead the plastic dug into his skin and my son started crying even harder and shrieked at my friend, “OWWW! What are you doing?!?” His tone implied that what he really wanted to say was, “What are you thinking YOU CRAZY OLD MAN!?! You’re yanking off my finger!” While trying not to laugh I thanked my friend for his help and apologized that my son yelled at him. Luckily he “gets it” and wasn’t offended. Later I reminded my son about respectful behavior, but at that moment we had more pressing matters to tend to~ like the fact that my son’s finger was turning the color of the purple spider ring.

The situation was getting tense, and my son was growing increasingly anxious. I was trying to calm him down while also attempting to figure out a solution. He wailed, “It’s going to be on there forever!” And he was totally being serious. My 8-year-old totally thought he was doomed to having a spider-finger for the rest of his life. That’s Autism. He didn’t even think about what might happen before he forced that tiny little thing on his finger, and then was horrified at the result. Not boring. In fact, the “not boring” factor is the reason that this is only the second year we have even attempted going to this event. In the past it was too hard. Believe it or not, this year went better than last year. If the spider-ring incident is the worst thing that happened we are doing pretty good!

By the way, I finally found help from someone who had access to the teachers lounge. We cut the ring off with scissors. Simple as that, and a lifetime of arachnid enslavement was averted. And circulation was restored, that is also pretty important. Crisis solved. No more spider-finger.

To Blog or Not to Blog

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I have no less than five new blog posts swirling in my head at all times. Actually, some have been swirling for so long that they would no longer be considered “new”. The problem is that I have this self-imposed pressure to write every post like it is my doctoral dissertation. I also tend to disappear into the writing and it is ALL I want to do. For DAYS. (At this point I am tempted to make some joke about forgetting to clean the house or feed the kids but then someone would judge me and think I am a bad mom. So never mind). I am trying to be more informal and will start letting myself simply post short anecdotes sometimes. Better for everyone in my household. Hopefully that won’t change the overall tone of the blog too much.

Speaking of blogging, I am thrilled to announce that Seriously Not Boring was added to the “Top Mommy Blogs” directory last month! It will hopefully help this little page reach a wider audience. In order to STAY in that directory I need your help, though. Please click on the “Top Mommy Blogs” widget in the sidebar (there is an example of the picture at the top of this post as a visual aid). That’s IT. Could you pleasepleasepleaseprettyplease take a moment and do that clicky thang? That simple little motion counts as your vote that Seriously Not Boring is awesome and stuff, and we move up in the rankings.  Thank you so much for the support!

“I’m sorry, Ken, but that is incorrect”: My response to Ken Jennings

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Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings made the following tweet yesterday: “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” The Twitterverse almost immediately exploded. Some people laughed, most were outraged. Jennings has not yet responded to inquiries and comments about the tweet. Part of me wanted to resist giving this ableist nonsense any more exposure, nor give that person any more free press, but I just have to say: I’m sorry, Ken, but that is incorrect.

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Jellyfish in the Baby Pool: Protecting my child with special needs

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All parents want to protect their children. We are constantly on guard, looking for potential threats. Parenting a child with special needs often requires an extra measure of caution, because problems can hide in the most innocent of places. Where some parents see fun and merriment, we may only see danger, potential meltdowns, or sensory overload.

An experience we had many years ago on a family vacation comes to mind as an analogy. My husband and I took our two small sons to the beach and it was a lot more work than we expected, partly because our toddler and preschooler had distinctly different sensory needs at that stage. My oldest child spent most of his time avoiding the sand and crying “Dirty, dirty…” under his breath. My youngest, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of the sand. He would sit and eat it by the handfuls.

sticky fingers                      sand feast

After a while I was exhausted and decided it was time for “easy.” We headed to what I thought would be a safe haven: the baby pool at the beach club. After a few minutes of play I stepped on something squishy at the bottom of the pool. I picked it up, and to my horror realized I was holding a jellyfish. A JELLYFISH. In the BABY POOL! A man saw my reaction and said nonchalantly, “Oh yeah. my kid was playing with that. It doesn’t have any tentacles!” I was appalled. Why would anyone take a risk like that with the safety of small children? Not to mention the fact that a baby pool doesn’t need any extra organic material, if you know what I’m saying. Not wanting to take that man’s word for it that no one could get stung, I disposed of the jellyfish. It was a wake-up call to me that there was something potentially dangerous in an environment that should be protected.

As my children got older, and my youngest son was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I realized that the world is full of “jellyfish in the baby pool,” so to speak. Other parents of children with special needs know what I am talking about. Experiences that may be perfectly safe or enjoyable for typical children can be dangerous or overwhelming for a child who is physically or neurologically different.

Dinner out as a family? Lots of ways you could get stung by jellyfish. Taking your kids with you grocery shopping? Jellyfish. Public school? Jellyfish. Amusement parks? Jellyfish. Trick or Treating? Jellyfish. Dentist appointments? Jellyfish. Enjoying the latest Disney movie at the theater? Jellyfish. Haircuts? Jellyfish. Playing outside with other children? Jellyfish. Easter egg hunts? Have mercy. (If your child can get through the waiting for the start of the hunt then you sure as heck better have some emergency eggs stashed in your pockets just in case the hunt itself doesn’t go well.)  Chuck E. Cheese? Actually, never mind that last one. I’m pretty sure all parents feel the same way about that place.

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Wizard World Comic Con

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Check that one off the bucket list~  I finally attended my very 1st comic con! For some reason Wizard World decided to come to my little ole’ town, and as a a lifelong geeky fangirl of sci-fi, superheroes and the like I was SO there. It was the first year for this event here, and it was a smaller con. Smaller can also mean less crowds and less waiting in line, especially since a lot of people had not heard about the event (I saw a lot of “wish I had known about this!” comments after it was over). But it was still well-attended , and it was if I had finally found my people. I was positively giddy, and all day long I felt like my son at 1:06 in this video, “This is the best thing of my life!” The video (our own little brush with media and pop culture when my son’s enthusiastic response to playing with a sea lion briefly became one of those “viral videos”) even came up a couple times in conversations about using media opportunities to help bring about more than entertainment, but also a greater good.

When we arrived downtown it was right at starting time, but there was a loooong backup to get into the parking deck. I tried not to go into fits, thinking about the fact that I was wasting time in the car. Must. See. COMIC-CON! Finally I asked my husband if he could pleeeease park the car without me, and I jumped out with oldest child and scampered to the convention center. I then proceeded to break rule #1 of comic cons: make sure you know what line you are waiting in. Luckily, I didn’t waste more than a minute, ha.

Commence the joy.

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Kids get in free with a paid adult so we had our two boys with us for the first two hours, then my parents kindly picked them up. The boys enjoyed seeing all the superhero, comic and sci-fi merchandise. My youngest son wore a shirt with the Autism Ninja, our very own family superhero.

The NinjAlex, our Autism Ninja superhero, created by my son and drawn by my brother.

The NinjAlex, our very own Autism Ninja superhero. Copyright Jennifer Bittner and Brian Roberts.

My oldest was wearing a Minecraft shirt, and the highlight of his day was when someone dressed as Steve gave him a thumbs up. There were a lot of cosplayers, and we were impressed by how elaborate and creative some of the costumes were.

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I have no idea what that third set of people are supposed to be, except that they are now IN MY NIGHTMARES! And look at that intricate cardboard Groot! But baby Rocky, however adorable, was just NOT having it.
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