Munchautism by Proxy or Cultivating an Identity for Myself

On August 4th, both boys started school.

For the weeks leading up to that golden day, I fought my own battle with munchautism by proxy whereby I fabricated autism challenges that did not exist so that I could have something to do with myself. For 9 years I’ve smother-mothered Brady (and Max for 6).

Boston news: Under an armed policeman’s gaze, the gorilla prowled along Seaver Street last night. It took at least four tranquilizer darts to subdue the ape.

Ever since Brady started school, I’ve been right by his side shoved somewhere in the building like an escaped zoo animal roaming the suburbs that they can’t find a powerful enough barbiturate to knock out. Clearly they must need me?

Things that I considered doing

Things that I actually did leading up to August 4th.

10. Bought an iPhone for Brady on the sly “in case he had a meltdown”. It sits in his bag untouched except on rare occasions when he pulls it out to text me or his grandparents something vital like AAAAAA akjdfld;ajdka;l or takes a picture of his open mouth 9,000 times. That’s a good use of our money. He’s mature enough for a phone.9. Drafted dozens of letters to Brady’s poor teacher who was setting up her classroom in a brand new building in sweltering heat. Sent a two or three or five or seven to her. Hi. Yes. I’m sorry.

8. Texted Brady’s teacher about modified days, skipping music class, skipping sibling care, getting picked up early and personally by me. Thought about sitting in the parking lot eating Dairy Queen and playing on my phone. Opted to ask my friend to drop her son off during the day to keep me out of school. That worked fine except on days he did not come, then I drove around listening to Kenny Rogers on repeat and ate Dairy Queen.


7. Blathered about homeschooling in a boring way to any adult that gave me a second chance. Told the boys I would probably keep them home from school half the week. Told them it would probably be “too much” and “better to be with me” Mr. Dreamy gave me the stink eye.

6. Overshared with Walgreen’s cashiers (I don’t drink or go to bars, so this is a my go-to social inappropriate outlet, the cosmetics counter at Walgreens or Fry’s checkout)

5. Ate 5 boxes of Captain crunch with Crunchberries. Dry.

4. bought about fifty new books and piled them all over the house, ostensibly for the boys who could not/would not read

3. because I let them play minecraft or surf the internet non stop while I ate captain crunch and stared at Facebook or piled books

2. Wore my pjs all day and put my hair in a pony tail.

1. And on the day before school, I went for a horseback ride and signed up for art lessons.

And I started the real work of finding out who I was and where I went after all this time.

Because it’s not about me. He’s already made it. I feel pretty amazing, now that I made room to let that idea sink in.

Joshua Chamberlain, Little Round Top, and the Memorial That Never Was


And that is three — could reblog these forever — instead remember to read / show the kids before we go back to Vincent’s Spur

Originally posted on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park:

A few months ago, prior to the arrival of the frigid weather we are now enjoying, I had the pleasure of bringing a group of visitors around Little Round Top. It was a fairly predictable tour. We visited the requisite sites as we made our way south along the crest of the hill, namely the Gouverneur Warren statue, Hazlett’s Battery and the 44th and 140th New York Monuments as we roughly followed the progress of the battle on July 2nd. It was a good forty-five minutes before we made our way into the trees and down a tail-like ridge known as “Vincent’s Spur” which runs across the southern face of Little Round Top. Our final stop of the program was at the 20th Maine Monument, which is situated on a shelf of rocks well below the summit and nearly on its reverse slope.

I usually stop here…

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Gettysburg 150th – July 4 Battlefield Experience Programs


Because this is one of our favorite places to visit. I want to know as much as I can.

Originally posted on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park:

    Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan and James F. Gibson were photographers. Gardner had managed the Washington, D.C. branch of Matthew Brady’s photographic gallery from 1860 to 1863, when he left to establish his own studio in the city. When news of the battle at Gettysburg reached them, Gardner and his team assembled their equipment and set out for the battlefield. They arrived on the battlefield on July 5. Of the sixty negatives the team would produce between July 5 and July 7, when they departed, twelve, or twenty per-cent, were created on the farm of George Rose. The Rose farm, which is about two miles south of Gettysburg, off the Emmitsburg Road, was the scene of very heavy fighting on July 2. Rose’s farm included the infamous “Wheatfield.” But much of the heaviest fighting occurred in Rose Woods, which bordered the Wheatfield to the east, south and west. By the…

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“The Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter” Revisited, Part 1

Originally posted on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park:

One of the most iconic images of Gettysburg is the photograph of a deceased young Confederate soldier lying behind a stone barricade at Devil’s Den. This graphic image was first published in 1866 in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War, a collection of wartime images taken by Alexander Gardner and his team of photographers. Entitled “The Home of A Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg”, Gardner describes the melancholy scene as he discovered it with the young sharpshooter lying prone behind a stone barricade, and wondered in his narrative if thoughts of home and loved ones filled the young soldier’s mind as he perished.

1-home of Rebel Sharpshooter

“The Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg” by Timothy O’Sullivan (Library of Congress)

There is more to this tale of course, but suffice it to say that we now understand the scene depicted in the photo was staged by the photographers and was not, as Gardner claimed in…

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Top Ten Novels in Verse by Katie Strawser

This post made my entire to-read list and introduced me to a new genre-novels in verse. One way I struggled to connect with my kids was through the generation…they are visual and real time and diverse. They move faster and can handle more but sit less. How can you make books relevant to today’s children? These novels seem to answer that question.

Katherine Applegate is featured here two times, we love her Animorph series, it is a super well done middle grade series. Kind of a dark horse, it’s out of print but you can get copies used or as e-books. This series has hooked many a wimpy kid fan on reading. Very well done and obviously she has talent to spare. Load up your library hold list or your e-reader.


Top Ten Novels in Verse by Katie Strawser.

10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give my Children Handheld Devices

I love this x 100. Also, sign up for Common Sense Media Emails if you want to learn more (they are free) and I will paste our instructions for installing Open DNS in the box below.

10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give my Children Handheld Devices.


Setting up Open DNS.
  Open DNS is a service designed to make the Internet safer.  It was created by men and women trying to secure the experience for people against viruses,
malware, spybots, and phishing – as well as inappropriate or unsafe content.  It uses the rules of the Internet to allow a family access to the Internet, but
be walled off to only the section (or sliver) the parents want to use.  OpenDNS works by being your home network’s Domain Name service (DNS), the part of the
Internet which translates an internet address from its person-friendly form ( into its machine-needed form (, today).  By doing it
at this level, it can block ads which lead to virus sites and malicious re-directs.  By attaching it to your home network, it performs this protection to
everything that uses your home network (computers, iPhones, xboxes).
Each household is unique, so OpenDNS gives you flexibility in blocking Internet content. They divide the Internet’s millions of websites neatly into 56
categories, like “adult,” “games,” “academic fraud” and “social media.” Parents can block entire categories of content, or just choose to block the individual
websites that you know are problematic or unsafe for your family.  Or, for easier setup, you can choose a filtering level: low, medium or high.  The low
filtering level blocks just adult content, where the high filtering level blocks adult content, social networking sites, video-sharing sites and more.
   Depending on the level of lock-down you want, there are 4 main parts to setting up OpenDNS.  Everything here is free.  OpenDNS does of course offer further
protection at a price.  Part 1:  Put OpenDNS addresses on your house wifi router.  Part 2:  Lock your router with a password.  Part 3:  Create a free OpenDNS
account and set your filter preferences.  Part 4:  Inventory your equipment.
PART 1:  Putting Open DNS on your router.   (5 minutes)
The main theme is to replace your router’s default DNS addresses, which are supplied by and controlled by your internet provider (Cox, QWest, Verizon,
etc.) with OpenDNS’s. This involves changing the DNS type to a “static DNS” and setting the values yourself.
Specifically For the QWest ActionTec Q1000 Router:
1. Go to   There are two large IP addresses on the first screen in blue.  They are and
2. Copy down those addresses.
3. From a computer that is on your network, browse to:  ( for linksys.  Other routers may vary.)
4. Go to “Advanced Setup”, then “WAN Settings”.
5. Scroll to #4 “Set the DNS type” and select “Static DNS.”.  Then enter the two OpenDNS IP addresses.
6. Save and you’re done!  Your router will reboot and that will take a minute.
Your home is now safe from the majority of phishing, malware, and virus sites.  Also, your ISP is no longer logging or tracking what sites you go to.
PART 2:  Set a password on your router.  (5 minutes)
Part 1 changes can be undone by anyone with a computer on your network.  If this is a concern, put a password on your router.
Specifically for the QWest ActionTec Q1000:  Advanced Setup. Security.  Administrator Password.
PART 3:  Set up an openDNS account. (30 minutes)
2. Choose “Open DNS Home”.
3. Sign up and select filters as you desire.
Your entire home is now filtered to your selections.  Of course test it by trying to go somewhere bad.
PART 4:  Inventory your devices.
Your home network is now the way you want it.  But if someone has an iPhone with a data plan, they can connect to AT&T 3G (or whatever) just as though they
are not in the home.  Make certain the only devices your family has are only that can only access the Internet via wifi, or have a system where family members
put their devices in a secure place for bed time, etc.
PART 5:  Sleep soundly.

My manifesto: Why I fight for children to play

I had children late in life (sort of) I was 35 when I had my first child and nearly 38 with my second. When I started working in a school I realized I was a generation older than many of the parents. Like most people, I parent based on how I was raised. I was raised in the 70’s. My parents worked. We had babysitters, community camps, we were latch key kids from time to time.

My mother lavished us with books.

My mother lavished us with books.

I had a paper route that I inherited from my big sister, so I started delivering papers and collecting money from strangers when I was 7, I was a very busy babysitter by the time I was 9 and stayed busy earning and spending my own money. We lived in the suburbs, across the street from a lower income apartment complex. I spent an enormous amount of time outside with gangs of kids or alone in creeks, dumpsters, alleys, graveyards other people’s backyards where I should not have been and storm culverts under city streets.  I was not athletic and did not have any sense, but my parents were busy, I had several sisters close to me in age and that was just how it was for us.

I know a little bit about not fitting in myself.

I know a little bit about not fitting in myself.

My house was full of books, I read whatever I wanted and sometimes was busted for reading things I shouldn’t (Flowers in the Attic) or never caught (Harold Robbins in 4th grade, oh my!!). I watched TV until my eyes popped out of my head with our babysitter Mrs. Murphy, who was a somewhat tragic figure that was very gentle and patient with us. I was terribly abusive to her, she smoked endlessly in our living room and watched all the game shows on channel 21 in the morning and then all the soaps on channel 21 in the afternoon. I watched Budd Dwyer kill himself on live TV when I was home on a snow day. I read and stared and inhaled smoke and watched soaps and played atari and rode my bike everywhere and fought with kids and collected coins and stray dogs and was a giant weirdo. It was the best childhood ever.

Fountains for wading

Fountains for wading

I learned so much. It made up for my Catholic grade school which was so dull I was ready to die. I was always reading a book under my desk and being told to stop, the only person that gave me free rein was the grumpy librarian Mrs. Schupp who was never grumpy with me and would let me have anything I wanted all the time. The two greatest weeks of my school career were 1.) when my appendix ruptured and I was in the hospital for a week and overheard a nurse say I COULD HAVE DIED (this thrilled me to no end and actually still thrills me now since I did not die, it was almost as good as witness to my own funeral a long time fantasy of mine that I loved in Tom Sawyer) and 2.) when TMI had a nuclear meltdown and we were evacuated to Allentown for a week to live in my aunt’s tiny townhouse and I played with her collection of Avon bottles and carousel horses and her awesome crocheted dolly toilet paper covers. Her house had all the good stuff that I longed for with my jealous covetous, too many sisters to compete with heart.


I was never ever ever ever ever going to get married or have children. Never. I was going to be a queen and have all my stuff and a million books and a dog and a convertible and go live in a big city and fill my shopping cart with candy every time I went to the store. And that is exactly what I did until one day when I was 29 I met Mr. Dreamy and realized he was the one person I wanted to have in my life forever and wondered how could I make that happen because I was not an easy person to be around, I was very selfish and ridiculous and chaotic, but I was thin and pretty and smart and had money so that sort of masked what a nut I was..and we fell in love and got married and for the first time in my life I started to work hard to learn how to be good and kind so Mr. Dreamy would be happy living with me.

Both boys are overjoyed to reunite with their dad. We had been on the East Coast for two weeks before he joined us. This picture was taken at the airport.

Both boys are overjoyed to reunite with their dad. We had been on the East Coast for two weeks before he joined us. This picture was taken at the airport.

We were married very quickly in fact…just four months after our engagement. I didn’t want him to change his mind. I asked my bridesmaids to wear whatever they wanted as all eyes would be on me, I arranged for them to picket my wedding at the state capital, Bloggess has nothing on me with her dead animals. I had picketing bridesmaids…as a  middle child I wanted to see if people would really really really do anything I wanted on my wedding day. And they really really did, and I loved it. A very special day for me.

Haters only hate the people they can't have or the people they can't be

Haters only hate the people they can’t have or the people they can’t be

Now we lived in DC and worked and were spendy (me) and happy (us) and life went on until everyone started to die, my grandmother, my stepfather, my beloved dog. And I thought. Wow. The only thing that seems to matter is children, perhaps we should have children? And like all normal people with normal mindsets, I reached out to a girl I did not know in real life who I knew from an online community was was super nice and had baby twins and a lot going on and asked if I could bring her meals and help once a week for  a year. And she said yes, and I ended up babysitting on Wednesdays for a year and at the end of the year, I thought yes, I can do this, I can have a child.

At two months, smiling at his dad.

Brady at two months, smiling at his dad.


Mr. Dreamy said, we can have two. I said SURE, we can have 12!

My favorite was watching Max build. But that's just because I'm his mom. I love when this look comes out.

My favorite was watching Max build. But that’s just because I’m his mom. I love when this look comes out.

Then I actually had one child inside me growing and I changed my mind back to one, but he talked me into two and now we have our two little freckle faced cuties. And it was definitely the right idea if I had only one child I would still be pureeing his organic food and having two lowered the bar on perfection and now we all just hang out. And I’m permissive. And I value play because I know the only way I learned anything was when I was interested and busy. And school was not interesting or busy. And being told what to do and ask to not touch things or explore makes me cringe for my kids. I assumed that kids would all play the same, no matter what year they are born but sadly this is not the case and if you are middle class and you want your child to play in a world where kids all have homework and tests and tons of private lessons and camps, you have to fight for it, you have to find your tribe and you have to work very very hard to let your kids play. Because it seems so many things are trying to make them sit still and stare.


This is why I fight for children to play, because it is wonderful and it is not as easy to find it as one would think. It is disappearing like our natural world and unless you look very hard, you will miss it. I don’t want people to get hurt but I don’t mind when people make mistakes or are embarrassed or wasteful if it makes a lightbulb come on. I’m still a work in progress myself and I might be wrong, I only have one go at it, but Mr. Dreamy is by my side and he mostly agrees with me so even if others in my life think I am a little over the top (and they are right) this is how I came to be how I am. I am a product of my time and circumstance. How did your childhood inform your parenting?