The School Conference That Made Me Cry


I recently attended a conference at my 3rd grader’s school and it totally made me cry. This time, however, it was a GOOD cry… almost an ugly cry. All because my youngest son has incredible teachers, and he has some amazing, supportive classmates. But let me rewind…

Parents of children with special needs are used to crying in conferences and IEP meetings. We walk into the room bracing ourselves because we feel raw, vulnerable and are afraid of what we might hear. (We brace ourselves every time the phone rings during the school day, too!) In some school settings our children do not always get the support and services that they need. Resources are limited, teachers are exhausted, and classmates can be cruel. I feel blessed to say that has NOT been our experience at my son’s school. From the beginning Team Ninja has been full of exceptional, patient, caring teachers who have found creative ways to help my son THRIVE.  Continue reading

Best. Costumes. EVER!

This morning was the annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in my hometown, and a good time was had by all. My kids participated again in the 1-mile Kids Fun Run and crushed it. I was so proud of them, especially because it was so cold. Here’s a post I wrote last year about why their running in the race was such a BIG deal. At the time they were more Lego and Minecraft kind of guys (okay, they still are), and had some anxiety related to team sports. We were struggling to find physical activities for them to participate in, and running was a good fit. Since then they have also started taking martial arts and have worked their way up to green belt. Super proud of them!

“Stuck? STUUUUCK!”

As we were walking away from the Kids Run I heard a deranged Easter Bunny and a flag pole shouting my name. It took me a moment to realize that it was an incognito version of my friends Phil & Sandy Lawson.

Then I realized that the costumey goodness didn’t stop there. I saw that they were accompanied by two friends. BEST. Team costumes. EVER. I wonder how it feels to run in fishnets?

“Fra-geee-lay”… must be Italian!

When you got them all together it was GOLD. Totally NOT BORING, and I knew I had to post pictures so that you could view them and agree.

“You’ll shoot your eye out!”
“I triple-dog dare you!”

LOVE the detail in their costumes, right down to the Red Ryder BB gun and tuft of blonde hair sticking out of the bunny costume. They did the WHOLE 10k like that. I hope they drank their Ovaltine.

Here is a link to see more of this year’s costumes. There was even a Lego Batman!  One year there was a TARDIS. Aw YEAH.

Soooo… they are entered in a costume contest and could use YOUR help to win a Major Award! (See what I did there?) Click here to place your vote… just make sure it is for “The Christmas Story.”

Great job, guys! And good luck. Hope you get your Major Award. :)

Relay For Life: Join Virginia Tech in their fight against cancer


I am proud to share a very important guest post from Emily McCloud, Senior at Virginia Tech and Director of this year’s Relay for Life. The event supports the American Cancer Society, and for the past SIX years it has been the largest Collegiate Relay For Life event in the world. It is inspiring to see the younger generation invest their time and energy in a cause that they believe in, and I am proud of the Hokie community for their involvement. I am even more proud of Emily for her philanthropy and leadership. She has served on the Executive Committee for three of the four years she has participated in the Relay, including this past year as Director. I am also blessed to be able to call this “Not Boring” young lady my cousin. (Well, technically she is my stepmother’s niece, but ain’t nobody got time for all that “step” mess. So we just say “Cousin Emily”, because family is family.) Keep reading to find out more about Relay, as well as Emily’s story and how a devastating personal loss compelled her to be involved with such a worthy cause.


A message from Emily:

Relay For Life is not a race. Even though there is a track at Relay For Life, you are not required to race, run, or even walk on the track.

But, Relay is a race in another way: a race to find a cure for cancer.

My name is Emily McCloud and I’m the Director of Virginia Tech’s Relay For Life. As Hokies, we are proud of everything we do, but especially our Relay. We have had the largest Collegiate Relay For Life event in the world for 6 years, raising over $500,000 and recruiting over 5,000 student participants each of those years. Even better, we’ve raised over $4.5 million for cancer research since we started at Tech in 2000-2001. To date, we’ve raised over $166,000 this year, which has funded nearly 2 research grants or 1,660 nights for cancer patients and loved ones to stay in a Hope Lodge for free while the patient undergoes treatment.

We’ve done so much, but there still isn’t a cure.

I’m passionate about Relay because 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, I’ve known too many people who represent these numbers. This disease takes too many lives and shakes families and friends forever. This terrible disease shook my own family by taking my father from us when I was just 12 years old. Just before my father passed, breast cancer took my Aunt. Then just about three years ago cancer took my Grandfather as well. Cancer has changed my life and upset my loved ones for as long as I can remember.

However, I am determined to make it stop.


My Story:

Being a Daddy’s girl, it was life altering losing him. Not only did it affect how my family functioned, but I didn’t feel like his little girl anymore. Continue reading

So Close Your Eyes on Hushabye Mountain…

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Ever have one of those parenting moments that hit you right in the soul? And then you get all emotional, and even though you’re fully aware of the fact you’re being totally ridiculous there’s nothing you can do stop it? That happened to me tonight while I was tucking my 10-year-old son into bed, and it left me gasping for breath. I shouldn’t have been so surprised after what had happened earlier in the evening. My husband left the room while I was flipping channels, and when he returned a mere three minutes later I was watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and weeping. Mamma’s got a lot of emotion tonight, and apparently seeing a very young Dick Van Dyke sing the haunting lullaby “Hushabye Mountain” was more than I could handle. It brought a flood of emotions and memories from growing up, as well as an unexpected wave of longing for the fast-waning childhood of my own two boys. I generally try not to be a clingy parent, but am also increasingly and painfully aware that my moments with them are slipping by far too quickly. Sometimes I see them growing up right before my eyes and I just can’t stand it. I had also spent a large part of the day today trying not to dwell on some regrets about things I wish I had done differently in their younger years. Regret is a funny thing- it makes us forget all the good while we focus on the bad. Regret is also a place in which I try not to dwell, but for some reason tonight it was harder to fight.

I managed to pull myself together and went to tuck my eldest son into bed. I lay down beside him in the dark and held him as I began to sing a lullaby. I didn’t get many words out before the tears started streaming down my cheeks. I stopped singing and held him as tightly as I could, already mourning the time when he would no longer want Mommy to tuck him in at night. He is right at the cusp of turning into a tween, but I can still picture him as an infant like it was yesterday. As proud as I am of the amazing young man he is becoming, sometimes I miss that chubby-cheeked little baby so much that it hurts. What I wouldn’t give to feel that tiny little body resting against mine just one more time.


So tonight I held fast to my big boy, wishing that I could somehow freeze time and remember forever how it feels: to be Mommy, to be needed, and to be loved unconditionally (before all that teen angst and aloofness sets in).

My son noticed that I had stopped singing and instead had begun shaking a little bit. He asked, “Um, what are you doing?”

“Just crying,” I replied.


“I was just thinking how proud I am of you, how much I love you, and how you’re growing up so fast *sob*. I am just feeling a lot of feelings and am a little bit overwhelmed.”

(Teasingly)~ “You’re weird.”

Then we laughed, and I kissed my son goodnight and closed the door. Knowing that in the morning he will be one day older, one day closer to sailing far away from me. I just hope that our moments together and the lessons I have tried to teach him will be enough. Enough to help him be brave and strong out there in the world. And enough to always help him find his way back home.

*So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain
Wave goodbye, to cares of the day
And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain
Sail far away from Lullaby Bay

(*Lyrics from “Hushabye Mountain” in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The image at the top of this post is from one of my favorite Fairy Tale books. A book that I regret never reading to my children, but plan on changing that regret tomorrow…)

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Embrace What Makes You Unique: Why we need more people like Draven Rodriguez & Graham Moore

Draven-Rodriguez-01_t300_b1-black                           stay weird

From Seriously Not Boring: “Embrace What Makes You Unique~ Why we need more people like Draven Rodriguez & Graham Moore” by Jennifer Roberts Bittner 

Embrace what makes you unique! I have long held tight to that sentiment. That is the heart of this website’s title, “Seriously Not Boring.” I LOVE people who are “different.” People who offer diverse and interesting experiences, personalities, and skills. People who live passionately, love deeply, and create freely. Who see things in this world that the rest of us miss. Who refuse to conform to the rigid standards imposed upon them by the expectations of society. People who realize that beauty and strength can be found in the midst of struggle and loss. People whose different abilities give them a unique perspective of the world around them. It makes the world such an interesting place!

I think that was why I liked Draven Rodriguez SO much, although I never told him. His glorious creation for his High School yearbook was inspiring. To me it was the epitome of “Be Yourself, Be Different.” For those of you who don’t know the story, he posed with his cat on a laser background in an effort to create an UNFORGETTABLE yearbook photo. He succeeded, and the internet went wild. Sadly, not everyone was kind. Some mocked his photo and wrote rude, cruel things about him. Others praised Draven and his bravery. The school ultimately declined to allow the photo in the student section, but the Principal offered a compromise. She and her chihuahua held a special photo shoot with Draven and his cat to help raise awareness for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the image was featured on her page.

I thought his whole experience was incredible, and was inspired by Draven’s tenacity and creativity. His picture not only created a stir, it also made a difference. Draven was also involved in anti-bullying campaigns. What we know of him shows an interesting, caring young man. He seemed like someone I would have liked to meet, someone I would have been friends with in high school. I was proud of him and didn’t even know him. I saw it as a victory for our people: the different ones. Draven knew that he had become an internet meme, but I wonder if he knew how many people, like me, he had truly inspired with his picture.

Months later the world learned the sad news that Draven had died of suicide. And I wept. A LOT. Several times. I wept for a boy I never knew but felt like I knew. I wept for the world because we had lost yet another unique, sensitive soul. And I wept with Draven for the pain that he faced. I wept for myself for the times that I felt alone and different. And I wept for my son, who has Asperger’s, for the moments he feels the same way. I wept out of fear that he will face the same cruelty as Draven, simply because he is different. My son is proud of his unique brain, as am I, but insensitive, intolerant treatment by others can turn pride into shame.

Aside from being mocked on the internet I don’t know what specific struggles Draven faced. I don’t know if his troubles came from without or from within. But I do know that the world is not always kind to those who are different. I also know that quite often those who are the most creative can feel the most conflicted inside. Whatever his struggles, I grieve for what he suffered, and I grieve for our loss. The world is less interesting without him in it. Please let me be clear: I do not celebrate how he died, but I celebrate how he lived prior to that.

After I learned of his death I spent the rest of the weekend with my heart hurting, thinking about all the children who feel mocked and isolated. Thinking about how cruel the world can be. Thinking about all those people who are afraid to show their true inner sleeves for fear of how others would react.

And THEN… Graham Moore. Oh my heavens what amazing timing. Just a day after we learned of the suicide of a boy who was “different”, this man stands on a stage to accept an ACADEMY AWARD and tells the world just what it needed to hear: “I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” he said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” And I started crying again. Oh Draven, his words were for you!

Continue reading

Celebrating Milestones: When the little things are actually BIG things

Parents of children with special needs have learned to celebrate accomplishments. What may seem insignificant or commonplace to the parents of Neurotypical children can feel MONUMENTAL to the parent of a child who has had to fight to reach every milestone.

I remember attending a party at my son’s preschool many years ago and suddenly bursting into tears while talking to his Exceptional Education teacher. It taught her completely by surprise, so she looked to see what caught my attention. Across the room my 3-year-old son was bringing a forkful of cake to his lips. You see, he had not TOUCHED cake since his 1st birthday, and even then he barely ate it. My son is an incredibly picky eater due to his sensory issues and anxiety, and it normally takes a lot of therapy for him to try a new food (and it usually involves some kind of gagging). But there he was, happily eating cake, and I was overwhelmed. I didn’t care if it was CAKE, he was EATING it. So I stood there, speechless, hand across my mouth, and I did the ugly cry right there in the preschool classroom. His teacher laughed and gave me a sideways hug.

My friend Jessica recently posted this picture following her son’s 7th birthday celebration, and the contents are cause for celebration all on their own:


She wrote: “Celebrated my little baby tonight who is now a 7 year old warrior. When we got home, he rushed in the door to put his trucks to sleep, complete with play-doh sleep masks. Lol, but SAID “goodnight” to each truck as he “tucked” them in. Pretend play for the win!!! Surprising us everyday!!”

LOVE this! The trucks are lovingly lined up (maybe because Autism, or maybe simply because it is a parking lot) and the “sleep masks” are genius. Children with Autism often have to work to develop the skills to engage in “pretend play,” so this is a BIG DEAL. Jessica knows it, and couldn’t be more proud of her creative, growing son.

Great job, little man, and Happy Birthday! I think this celebration calls for some cake! I’m sure my son would agree. :)

What milestones or achievements have you celebrated recently with your child? We would love to hear all about it in the comments so we can celebrate with you! 


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Random Acts of Kindness Week


HUNDREDS of cards and letters. That was the response of former students when they learned that a beloved, retired teacher was very ill. And their response was just in time. Click here to read the whole story of how the community rallied around a great man in the days before his death. They sent “Letters to Mr. Goss,” and it all began in honor of Random Acts of Kindness week.

This year Random Acts of Kindness week is February 9-15. Let’s get started today! If you need some help getting inspired here are some suggestions on how to get the kindness flowing. The world is in desperate need of more kindness. What can YOU do to help make the world a better place? Do something unexpected for a stranger? Make amends for a past wrongdoing? Seek out someone who made a difference in your life and finally tell them THANK YOU? It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, it just has to be kind. Whatever it is, go DO IT! And then come back and tell us about it! Go out there and spread some kindness!

Like this post? Don’t forget to “Follow” Seriously Not Boring or subscribe to email updates (in the right sidebar on desktop, on a mobile device scroll below post). And you can check out our Facebook page and give us a “Like” there too. Thanks for stopping by!