Bill Nye the Friendly Guy: Scientist makes a dream come true for Superfan with Autism

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Consider the following: Michael de Groot is a middle school student who wants to be a scientist and talks constantly about his idol, Bill Nye. He never thought that one day he would be able to actually meet Bill in person. Michael thinks Bill is smart and funny, and he regularly uses phrases from the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” show in conversation. Michael is so enthusiastic about science that his parents often have to remind him that his bedroom is not the best place to conduct experiments.

One spring day Michael’s sister Kelly, a student at Villanova University, noticed a classmate had posted a picture of herself posing with Bill Nye. She found out the student had an internship on the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and that was how she met the scientist. Kelly casually commented how much her brother loved Bill Nye, and they struck up a conversation. The kind student offered to contact someone related to the committee to see if they could possibly set up a meeting between Michael and Bill. Kelly was grateful for the offer, but wasn’t sure that it would actually come to be and didn’t want to get Michael’s hopes up.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Nazi extermination of the disabled, and the day I met a survivor of Auschwitz

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January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz. On this day I stop to remember, and ponder, and listen. I reflect upon the atrocities committed by a group of people driven by greed and a lust for power, blinded by prejudice. I pause to hear the voices that cried out, yet were silenced too soon. I will not forget them.

Many do not realize the extensiveness of the list of groups targeted by the Nazis. It included not only Jews, but also “Gypsies, Poles and other Slavs, and people with physical or mental disabilities.” During their quest for racial purity the Nazis strove to eliminate the “unfit” as well as any who would oppose their quest for domination.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum“The Nazi persecution of persons with disabilities in Germany was one component of radical public health policies aimed at excluding hereditarily “unfit” Germans from the national community. These strategies began with forced sterilization and escalated toward mass murder.”

“On July 14, 1933, the German government instituted the “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.” This law called for the sterilization of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary, including mental illness, learning disabilities, physical deformity, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, and severe alcoholism. With the law’s passage the Third Reich also stepped up its propaganda against the disabled, regularly labeling them “life unworthy of life” or “useless eaters” and highlighting their burden upon society.”

“Burden upon society.” Lives deemed as less than precious. Of no value. I grieve all the lives lost during the Nazi’s cleansing campaign, but as the mother of a child with special needs this knowledge especially brings me great sorrow. As I gaze into my son’s sweet face I wonder~ would his life had been one that was deemed as dispensable?

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The Last Lights Shining

Every year it seems that my house is last one on our street with Christmas lights still shining. I like to leave them up until around Epiphany/ Three Kings Day. To me it feels too hurried to spend a month of frenzied preparation, only to have it culminate abruptly in two days of even more frenzied celebration (depending on your family situation). The very next day we all seem far too ready to simply move on with our regular lives, because “Christmas is over.”

I need more than that. I need time to simply sit, and revel, and bask, and it seems that it is only in the stillness of the days following all the activity of celebration that I finally find Christmas. Once I find it I also wish to keep it for as long as possible. I totally understand that some people want a fresh, orderly start in time for the New Year, and that’s what works for them. But in my experience no celebration of a New Year feels complete without also bringing along the last of the light of Christmas. It serves as a beacon of love, and joy, and hope; illuminating our path for the new days ahead.

I gaze upon those lights of ours, rending the darkness one last night, and I try to draw their brightness deep into my heart. Their warmth reminds me of this truth:

Christmas has come, Christmas is here, and Christmas will remain.

I can cling to that, even if I find myself in the dark.

May the light of Christmas continue to shine for each of you this New Year.

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!