BlogHer10 Saturday: One of the Best Days of My Life

Like Leelo, it takes me a while to process information and experiences. So I suspect it would have taken me this long to process BlogHer 10's Saturday, even if the weeks that followed the conference weren't unrelentingly full of activities and Seymour travel and weddings and road trips and excursions and weekdaily Thinking Person's Guide to Autism essays and BlogHer articles and Leo SF Weekly stories and Chinese-"interesting" social developments. Now I know what the brown sugar feels like when I pack it into that measuring cup, sweet though it may be.

BlogHer10 Saturday, with Jen and so many other friends, was one of the best days of my life. I only wish Seymour could have been there, too. And I wish Leo knew the role he played, in gifting me so many friendships with people I might otherwise never have met. You are cherished, every last one of you.


Jen and I hit the ground running again on Saturday but without panicking -- I didn't turn off our alarm this time. I'd spent much of the previous night nuzzling my keyboard in confusion, thinking it was a pillow as I sleepily tried to finish my work shift. Jen eventually came to my rescue work-wise after she finished making friends at the hotel bar around 4 AM. (Where she gets all that energy, I'll never know. Me = friends with ZzzZzz.)

We opened our day with BlogHer's International Activist Blogger Scholarship Recipients Keynote. "Inspiring" is an insufficient word for the experience. If I was a hacker, I would turn the liveblog into a Trojan horse email, one that would freeze the screen of every middle school through college student in this country until they read what these women had to say about how they continue to blog/speak out, and why. I especially appreciated Esra'a Al Shafei's wry humor. I hope she and MidEastYouth.com end up ruling the world. (Benevolently.)

The four scholarship recipients:
Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai, Sri Lanka, publisher of Humanity Ashore
Esra'a Al Shafei, Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com
Freshta Basij-Rasikh, Afghanistan, writer for the Afghan Women's Writing Project
Marie Trigona, Argentina, publisher of Latin American Activist
Some tweets from the panel, from me and from other frozen-with-awe audience members:
  • @Sassymonkey, she of the Maritimes cred, noted: Reminder: no photography in the International Keynote. It's life or death for these amazing, brave women. #blogher10 
  • @Mamacita Speakers like these remind me of how very fortunate we are to be able to write about anything we want, without fear.
  • @jennyalice: Esra'a al Shafei "If you're going to piss a lot of people off you better do it very well ."
  • MideastYouth.com: "It's giving the LGBT community a platform. It's giving the Kurdish minority a voice too."
  • RT @whymommy: International activists at #blogher10: 400 young writers at www.mideastyouth.com -- STUNNING. Go see. 
  • "The initial goal for Mideast Youth was to piss off as many dictators as possible"
  • RT @ElisaC: RT @dtanton: RT @sassymonkey: Read more about the women on this keynote here: http://bit.ly/bq9ESn #blogher10
  • "How to bring bright lights to my eyes: Education is the way" #afghanwomenswritingproject 
  • An honor, a privilege: Listening to a writer from the Afghan Women's Writing Project talk about her country, its history, people.
During the panel, we sat with Elizabeth, who writes Just a Girl in the World, recently got the job of her dreams, and makes Memphis sound like a dreamy place to live. Later in the Smores lounge we met Natalie from The Bobby Pin, a sometime trapeze enthusiast and MBA student, who advised us on Yoga classes in San Diego. Both were attending BlogHer as livebloggers. I have followed Natalie and Elizabeth for a while and so have a long-standing opinion of them as the cutest things ever, but they were even more so in person. (In case that sounds patronizing, they are also really damn smart. But so cute!)

Then it was time for Kyra's book signing for Gravity Pulls You In:

This is her serious author face, for Jordan. The women behind her don't seem to be having as much fun.

How Kyra really appeared for most of the signing, with equally pleased Jen. The women behind them are discussing how much fun Kyra is having and wondering why the people lined up for their book signings aren't making them laugh in quite the same way.

Other signing attendees included IAmPixieMama, who was there God damn it and no she does not want to be left out, the effervescent NiksMom, and a lovely woman who floats anonymously through the Internet world and is no less loved for that practice.

I took a lot of armslength "dork" pictures. This is me and Stimey, and I am the dork. This is also shortly after I forced her to borrow Paul Collins' Not Even Wrong - very awesome book, worthy of her (and your) attention.

You know who else showed up at Kyra's signing even though she wasn't attending BlogHer or even in NYC but very kindly took the train from CT to come have an IRL meetup even though she was stressing over her class reunion that night which was understandable though unnecessary because she looked fantastic especially since you couldn't see her mountain bike road rash under her beautiful tiered skirt? Susan. Fun! Another dork picture.


Since it was too glorious a day to stay inside and since we could see Central Park from the conference hotel, we trotted parkward for lunch (which for me was a NY-style slice of heaven, a.k.a. pizza).

Jordan and Kristen came with us and we passed a lovely lunch sitting and snarking on a bench in Central Park, gazing out at the lake while watching clouds that looked like they were commissioned by Pixar and being rebuffed by disinterested New Yorkers who refused to take our photo. So we asked a tourist instead.

 It's a good thing we shook off the lure of outdoors after Susan had to rush off to her CT reunion (sob, but thanks again for making the trip!), because when we got back to the hotel Jen checked her tweetstream and found out she'd won a free laptop!

Then we found Carol and made our way to the Closing Keynote: Use Your Voice, Your Platform, and Your Power (Full liveblog and video coming soon), featuring:
"Need to Know PBS anchor Alison Stewart moderates a powerhouse panel: Marie Wilson, Founder and President of The White House Project (and creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day!), author and activist Gloria Feldt from Heartfeldt Politics and P. Simran Sethi, Emmy Award-winning journalist, blogger and environmentalist."
It was amazing. Sigh. I soaked up as much as I could about how to kick ass from women who've been doing it for a long time under much less women-friendly circumstances. Two main takeaways: 
  • 'Power you don't use is useless.' 
  • 'A critical mass of women will move Supreme Court focus from gender to agenda.

And then it was time to hop on the subway and head to Soho for our My Baby Rides the Short Bus reading at Bluestockings bookstore.

Look, my friend Luis! We went to grad school at Syracuse together. He is a longtime NYC resident, guerilla gardener and yoga instructor. We lost touch for a few years which was so wrong, but thanks to the Facebook fairies, we are reunited. And it does feel so good. He was also our photographer for the reading.

I am not sure why this photo is warped, but I love Jen's expression: "Why yes, this is my East Coast literary debut!"

Here is Jen Silverman. She is one of three co-editors on the book. She totally kicks butt. Seriously, don't get in her way. She radiates uncompromising awesomeness.

Here is Sharis Ingram. She is reading her story What I Said, and What I Didn't Say. Which is mandatory reading for anyone with a child on the mainstreamed or fully included end of the autism spectrum. And she went to the same college as Joss Whedon and Leo's godmother Hayley! Later on she and the other three of us argued over who had the world's greatest husband. Sharis won, but only because she brought hers along as proof.

Here is Jen, reading her story about trying to find a babysitter for her son Jake on Craigslist. She had the audience weeping as they laughed -- quite a trick.

And here is me, not crying during a reading for once. Go me!

Here is part of our wonderful audience (that's Carol talking into the mic) many of whom came all the way form the BlogHer conference in midtown. Thank you all! The house was packed, and it made for good energy.

 We had dinner at a vegan cafe with Jen Silverman and Luis and some friends, bid adieu to Luis and his bike, and shot back to the hotel in time to catch the last hour of CheeseBurgHer. Nom free cheeseburgers! The party was also full of my favorite Jens. Here are two who didn't room with me.

And here we are, right before crashing and Jen needing to leave in the wee hours and did we really pack all that into one day? We really did. Phew.

Attendees, how was your BlogHer Saturday?



Talking iPads and Autism on Seattle's 97.3 KIRO

I was on Seattle's News Talk 97.3 KIRO yesterday, talking with Luke Burbank about Autism and iPads, along with SF Weekly reporter Ashley Harrell. Ashley went first, my interview is during the second half of the show. As neither Ashley nor I have listened to the interview as it makes us queasy (I still can't listen to March's KQED Forum interview re: My Baby Rides the Short Bus, though a couple of weeks ago I did make it to the point where I start speaking) please let me know how it went!

Also, sincere thanks to everyone who showed such kindness, ire, and solidarity on our family's behalf regarding the rigid and/or nasty comments on Leelo's SF Weekly article, on the newspaper's site and elsewhere. I promise that any time a reader criticizes you by fixating on keywords instead of narrative, and taking your statements out of context, I'll have your back, too.


BlogHer10 Friday: Autism Panel and Beyond!

BlogHer10 wasn't quite the same without several members of our tribe: Gwendomama, Vicki, Christa, TC, and Mir, who sighed when tickets went on sale; Lindsey, who only started blogging weeks ago; Liz, Emily, Elise, and Sandy, who bought tickets but had to reverse course; and Susan and Sharon, who were thwarted by the Fates at the very last moment. You were spoken of, with regret and fondness, throughout the weekend. Sarah Dopp and SJ too -- I've never been to a BlogHer without SJ, damn it all.


BAM! There's nothing quite like sleeping through one's alarm on a really important day -- especially when you're the one responsible for the alarm. Jennyalice and I woke in instant panic far too close to the start of the BlogHer autism panel -- which I was moderating. Since we have superpowers, we made it with time to spare -- but the pace of the day or indeed the weekend never slowed, not for moment, once our feet untangled from our (respective) sheets and hit the ground. It was fabulous! Here's my take on Friday/Day One, with lots and lots of pictures.


The Autism panel [liveblog here, podcast coming in about two weeks] was a thrill, an honor, a celebration of our testimonials, togetherness, and truths. And my co-panelist Jean Winegardner/Stimey already wrote it up! Twice! Here's my favorite quote:
"Of course I think the words that we spoke and the comments from the audience were important—very much so. Even more important, however, was the powerful experience of sitting in a supportive room with a group of people who care about people with autism and want the best for them. When you're in a room like that, you don't have to explain, you don't have to justify, you don't have to be defensive. You just have to be. And you can be because the other people in the room get it, they really, really get it."
She's so right. As Molly wrote, "I knew I was in the right place at BlogHer when [yours truly] shared that Leo took a bite of cheese pizza and the entire room applauded."

Our co-panelist Pamela Meritt/Shark Fu of Angry Black Bitch (she is the co-guardian of her brother, who is an adult with autism and aphasia) blogged the panel as well:
"...Because of the work of parent’s and advocates like my mother, finding resources and educational opportunities for folks with autism isn’t as hard as it used to be ... we’ve got a long way to go, but we have come a long way already.  I’ll admit that my image of parenting a child with autism is greatly influenced by the challenges that I witnessed growing up.  That image is changing now that I’ve met parents like those who attended the panel and learned that parenting experiences and options are as diverse as the lives of people with autism."
So here we are, the three panelists: Pamela, me, and Jean. Where was Sharon DaVanport, from Autism Women's Network and our fourth panelist, you ask? Unfortunately, she had a medical emergency the night before BlogHer, and had to drop out -- we were all so worried for her (she's going to be fine), and sad for our panel's missing piece. Sharon and I tried to arrange for Carol Greenburg, a local autism advocate and parent who herself has an Asperger's diagnosis, to take her place -- but my Friday was spend mostly offline exploring several circles of travel hell, and the early Friday morning internet connection was recalcitrant -- so I arrived at the panel thinking that we'd remain a trio.

Silly me, for not placing complete faith in BlogHer's Jes (red shirt): speaker wrangler, conference programming manager, and, apparently a sorceress. She made Carol apparate, moments before the panel was to start.

And then we were four. (Carol was an ideal speaker, and, really, should have her own stand-up act; it was a privilege and so much fun to hang out with her during the rest of the weekend.) 

And then more magic happened: Positivity and community were made manifest. We did shatter several autism myths, we did hear and recognize others' challenges and pain and victories and voices, we did learn from each other, we were lifted -- as I commented to Stimey, I considered it an emotional Lourdes. Amalah contributed to the catharsis onsite, and, afterwards, online:
"There is joy and happiness and laughter in our homes, just like in yours. We have dreams and so does he. We go out for pizza and play on playgrounds and drag our children on boring errands for back-to-school clothes. We bribe and scold and lose our temper and make mistakes and start over the next morning. My son is "lucky" because his father buys him eleventy hundred Star Wars toys every month, and because sometimes I make a pan of chocolate brownies before dinner, and because we live in an area with well-funded, progressive early intervention and special needs programs ... not because the stars aligned and blessed him with two perfect, sainted parents who are uniquely suited to drive him to occupational therapy."
We could definitely continued the conversation for another hour or two (look at Julie, and me, post-panel-chatting; no suprise that she is intense and wonderful, as those seemed to be attendee requirements), but BlogHer had a schedule to keep. I think we covered much of what we wanted to cover, but if we missed anything big, say so in the comments -- we can continue the discussion there.

Being bounced from the panel venue didn't mean we had to part ways. Ellen from Love That Max set up a Birds of a Feather lunch for the extended special needs community directly after the panel -- and it quickly became the hottest and best-attended table in the BoF room. Witness!

Also witness a very happy moment: Jen and me with the inimitable and instantly likable Ellen.

We were surrounded by so many other real live women from inside the computer -- I was so thrilled to spend time with ass-kickers like  Jorja, Carmen, Juliette, Varda, Janis, Julia, KAL, and  Melissa ... the latter is a bookworm extraordinaire who floored me by bringing copies of both Can I Sit With You? books for Jen and me to sign! That she had bought at the onsite BlogHer bookstore (thank you Melissa)!

See? Our books! Plus My Baby Rides the Short Bus in the upper left corner.

We went to Liz Henry's fun Geek Lab presentation on not getting hacked. Where we sat behind Skye as she ever so charmingly alternated between muttering corrections to herself and raising her hand -- she was with her people, and we were happy to be counted among them (she is one of our teammates at work), Where Liz told everyone how Iz had shoulder surfed my iTunes password. And that I then changed it to "fu_isob3l." THANK YOU LIZ. But seriously, people, change your password every six months!

Then we hung out with one of my kids' heroes: Ashley from The Jimmies! Who does about 5,000 things -- she's the voice of Nickelodeon, makes Twitter handle jewelry at Survival of the Hippest, has her own band, and personifies awesomeness -- as you'll see in my BlogHer interview with her later this week.
Between Ashley and the evening there was some questionable behavior, for instance going to the swag pavilions and nomming on breakfast "corndogs" that were actually breakfast links wrapped in pancake batter. Soooo bad, sooo good. 

And then it was time for dinner at a tiny, scumptiousness-filled restaurant in the West Village with people who rock so much that even I, superlative abuser, can't properly capsulize the awesome -- though I can bow down to Kristen and Jen for making the dinner happen. (I'm not featuring/mentioning a couple of folks as they may not want to be publicly associated with us.)
Joooordan (Wondermama)! and Jen!
Niksmom! And me!
Kristen! And Niksmom again! While Jen holds ALL the cash.
With Kyra/ThisMom. Who is such good raucous fun that I can't show you all the pix we took - NSFW.
With Carol. Who is an immersed Star Trek enthusiast with serious cred, turns out.
We all parted ways after dinner, some of us to consult psychics (which I didn't need to do, having consulted one merely a week before). So I dragged Jen to my favorite East Village bar, Burp Castle. She likes Belgian ale, I figured, she'll like Burp Castle. And she did. She even listened while I got a bit weepy over never having been there without Seymour, not ever. Jen is so rad. And gorgeous. And tall. And blonde.

Last shot of the evening, before we took a cab home and I collapsed over my laptop in the middle of a work shift -- shocker. This is a Burp Castle bathroom self-portrait. I have to fish out my 1994 shot of the same.

BlogHer: Saturday, which was equally eventful, documented soon. But can you understand why we were tired, all weekend long? I'm still tired, really. *yawn*


We Live So Fast

I called my mom last night to see how she and Iz are faring at my brother's condo in Palm Springs, since Iz has never before experienced a desert in the summer. While we chatted, my brother yelled from the background "Ask her how New York was!"

New York? Dude, that was last week. I swear I'll get to it, but it already feels like the tucked-away past, given how many events have tumbled down around us between then and now. During Seymour's and Jennyalice's and Ep's absences, specifically (though I was grateful for Twin Liz power: Henry & Ditz). Let me tell you about some of last week's goodness.

Leelo, Mali, and I spent Friday afternoon cruising San Francisco for Leo's stunning SF Weekly cover. One of the benefits of being a rather unobservant person is that it is really easy to please me by pointing out that which is obvious to most everyone else. For instance, that SF Weekly covers are displayed in kiosks all over the city! Do you know how weird it is to see pictures of your kid all over town?

Here is Leo, with himself and a bunch of stickers, in Hayes Valley.

We also saw him on Union street!

And Union Square!

Hayes Valley is so very much one of our SF comfort zones. If all fails, we can always hit Frjtz or Blue Bottle. Leelo and Mali love the Octavia street playground, and I -- selfishly -- love that there aren't too many little kids around. Leo can relax and explore.

Mali can make friends with all the local dogs.

And then we can go lounge at Isotope Comics. Which is actually what customers are encouraged to do -- there are big orange squooshy couches. But we've never been able to hang out before, not with Leo along; comic book stores aren't his thing. But now, with his iPad at the ready? We sat. We read. We chatted. He played. He was happy. He was content. Another near-miracle, I'm telling you. 

But I wasn't so far gone into the happy trance as to go on a comics spree -- I bought only two: Evil and Malice Save the World (recommended by Ben, a fellow lounging customer), and Buffy 8 Volume 4. Even though the very knowledgeable and charming owner made several recommendations. I took a picture instead! Feel free to get my kids any of these books, heh:

And then we hustled home and then there was a babysitter miscommunication so they didn't show but then Seymour returned from Philly so it was okay but I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on top of my computer and didn't stir until 4 AM. If anyone got a late-Friday tweet or email from me consisting of ZZZZZZZZZZZZ without end, that's why.

I'm so glad Seymour is home. As are Leelo and Mali. Now we just need to go down to San Diego and retrieve Iz. Between her camps and her parents' travels, I don't believe the five of us have inhabited the same space for more than 24 hours since mid-July. Here's a rare sighting of our girl (Mali's ongoing wall art experiment in background, this time in Wiki Stix).

I miss her. And Jennyalice. And Ep. And I just wish everything wasn't so damn hard for so many people that we love. 

Like my friends Susan and Godfather Michael, my companions on yesterday's frantic bridesmaid dress quest (the wedding? In one week). They'd had challenging weeks themselves, and so were along to help this shopaphobe locate and dispatch the ideal frock as quickly as possible, so we could then reward ourselves with conversation and stiff drinks at The Rotunda. (We were successful, thanks to Susan's laser-beam style instincts.) I really appreciated the downtime and company afterward, not to mention the excellent popovers, basil gimlet, and lobster rolls that were Susan's treat, at her insistence (thank you!).

Seymour and I had babysitting success later last night, and bolted for a local coupon-friendly restaurant. I haven't sat down for a conversation with my partner for just about ever. It was delightful, he is delightful, I am starkly aware of my good fortune. Our evening ended with me in peals of laughter once again thanks to my lack of guile -- after telling Seymour how impressed I was with the The Rotunda bartender's liberal hand, he chuckled and informed me that, as The Rotunda is nestled on the top floor of a department store, getting customers soused is likely policy, in the fashion of free casino floor drinks in Las Vegas. Well, duh.

Off to pack for San Diego. Though I should probably unpack from Santa Barbara and New York first. 

Anyone else living in a vortex? Good or bad, or -- like me -- an intense combo?


Not Blogging BlogHer Yet. Srsly. Sorry.

Reader, you're probably sick of excuses re: not blogging BlogHer. Trust me, I've got a good one. Except it's not my own business, so it's not something I can or would choose to share. But it was my first priority. And it's taken all my non-work, non-child wrangling time.

So, until tomorrow when I absolutely will regale you with BlogHer10 links pix and tales galore, enjoy this picture of Jennyalice winning her brand new Gateway laptop in the Microsoft suite at BlogHer, and catch up with her and her amazing family during their somewhat bumpy motorhome roadtrip across the country at Has Autism Will Travel.

Oh, and check out the portfolio of Kelly Nicolaisen, the photographer who took the pix of Leo for the SF Weekly iPad article: www.kellynicolaisen.com.

Also, any tips for staging an intervention with a five-year-old Zombie Farm addict would be appreciated.


There Will Be BlogHer. But Not Today.

Sharis Ingram, Jen Silverman, Me, Jen Myers
I said that there would be a BlogHer post. But that was before today turned into Today (multiple unbloggable zeniths, not a day I'll ever forget, watch me compartmentalize like crazy). So here's a pic of us four My Baby Rides the Short Bus ass-kickers from last Saturday's reading at Bluestockings bookstore and activist center in Manhattan. We rocked. Check out the world's greatest little black dress -- now with pockets for chronic fidgeters!

Someone else -- I think A Girl and a Boy -- tweeted their fantasy about having someone else organize their BlogHer10 pix on Flickr. Honey, I hear you.

iHelp for Autism: Leelo the Cover Model

Can't help but crow: my cute boy and his iPad are on the front page of three newspapers today!

SF Weekly
Seattle Weekly
St. Louis Riverfront Times
Leo looks so damn cute! And the reporter said my house was "tidy" so I can die happy. I wish they'd placed a bit more emphasis on our "complicated but happy" family attitude, but hey.  Overall it was nicely done, don't you think?

More Than, Hoping For BlogHer10 Autism Panel Documentation

We were very cute. Even Pamela with that microphone in front of her face.

Have to say, folks -- autism and parenting are in the forefront at the moment, given that Leo is out of school and Seymour is in Philadelphia trying to figure out what the hell a Tastycake is. All this is getting in the way of BlogHer10 recordkeeping. If nothing else I'll slap up a big photo series tomorrow. Sheesh, this life we live!

Leo is back to stomping and twirling stims again -- but he is also in one of the calmest periods I've yet seen. He ate regular meals in restaurants two days in a row. PB&J and french fries may not seem like a victory to some, but until yesterday Leo only liked homemade PB&J, and Burger King french fries. So wooo! He also accepted my not buying him a mini-baguette at the grocery store with calm resignation rather than a banshee tantrum. First time ever. Round up the cannons for a proper salute!

Leo is also the cover boy for the SF Weekly today, for a story about him and his iPad -- really about autism and iPads in general. (This is the secret project I mentioned a few times recently.) Supposedly the story is in the LA Weekly and the Seattle Weekly, as well as the St. Louis equivalent -- can anyone confirm?

I miss Jennyalice, out on her intrepid cross-country trip.

Miss Seymour. Though he probably forgot about me as soon as he had his first bite of cheesesteak.


BlogHer10 Weekend Post Coming

We did so much, hung out with so many (so many!) amazing people, saw so much, reveled so much, gave thanks so much -- our wonderful weekend might take as long to document as it did to experience. I'll try over the course of this week.

But for now, here's my favorite photo from the weekend: my two favorite Jens -- Jen Scharpen Monroe, who has successfully lured me deep into the BlogHer fold despite my initial 2006 skepticism and whose support I both relish and never take for granted; and Jen Myers (Jennyalice), whom I never actually gave a choice about being my friend, and without whom I might have spent the entire conference overwhelmed and hiding in my room, trying to break back into the minibar. Both of these women are social lightning rods, attracting all the energy in the room and then illuminating everyone they encounter. I am content to bask in their considerable glow.

And, of course, sincere thanks to the BlogHer team who magicked together our alternate reality weekend of awesomeness: Elisa, Lisa, Jory, Lori, Jes, Denise, and so many other wonderful women.


BlogHer10 Autism Panel Liveblog Is UP

The BlogHer10 Autism panel was amazing ... can't really articulate how phenomenal it was to be in a room with that many people who not only "got it" but were open to, wanted to, push and share the boundaries of what they knew about autism.

Unfortunately, Sharon DaVanport had a medical emergency and was not able to speak -- but the amazing (and incredibly funny) Carol Greenburg stepped in for Sharon and added the adult with autism voice we so valued and needed.

The LiveBlog is here: http://www.blogher.com/official-blogher-10-liveblog-personal-blogging-autism-shattering-myths-opening-eyes-and-finding-your. Whether you were at the conference or panel or not, if you consider yourself a member of this community, please add your name and URL to the BlogHer post (not here! though adding it here *too* is fine) so we can find you!


BlogHer10 NOW!

It took one canceled flight plus a delayed + mid-flight landing + refueling-in-Allentown flight to get here 14 hours later than intented and missing my Ghanaian food/dear friend Luis fix plus the BlogHer speaker training PLUS the BlogHer CE dinner - but I'm here in New York City! And it is awesome. What amazingness. I've yet to talk with a person who doesn't make me fall deeper in love with the electric current-like power of blogging and the smart, strong women who'll be running around in celebration of the medium during this conference weekend.

Finally got to do IRL meetups with the ass-kicking Skye & Grace of Heroine Content.net, and then Niksmom, IamPixieMama, Stimey, & Varda (SquashedMom), which was lovely lovely lovely. If I left tonight the trip would be worth it! But then I'd miss TODAY's (AM) BlogHer10 autism panel and Saturday's My Baby Rides the Short Bus story at Bluestockings in Manhattan, and that would just be AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT UNIVERSE THAT I COULDN'T BEAR TO LIVE IN.

People are doing awesome thing with their personal swag. You should see Stimey's adorable mice! I am not that together -- in fact I was quite smug about remembering to make business cards -- but I did put together about a few mix CDs with personalized squiddy stickers on 'em. Catch me, remind me, I'll hand you one. Here's the melange:

Jardin of Luxembourg  *  The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
L'Ascenseur  *  Olive Et Moi
You're My Lover Now  *  Pieta Brown
Alouette  *  Tallest Trees
Directo  *  Alex Cuba
Anonymous   * Yoav
Never So Big  *  David Byrne & Fatboy Slim
Kelele  *  Angelique Kidjo
Good Morning  *  Rogue Wave
As Long As We're Together  *  Andrew Morgan
Não Tente Compreender  *  Dadi
Little House  *  Annie Stela
Winter Vacation  * The Subjects
I Know  *  Meaghan Smith
The Medicine Show  *  The Mostar Diving Club
Silence Is Golden  *  Forro in the Dark
Dilruba  *  Kailash Kher and Kailasa
Two Doves  *  Dirty Projectors
Don't Go to Klaksvik   *    Leif Vollebekk
The Kirwan Song    *    The Amazing
Light of Love    *    Music Go Music
Take Me With U    *    Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

P.S. Leo dealt very well with dropping me off at SFO for a red-eye flight, then waking up and finding me back in the house, and taking me to SFO once again in the early AM.

P.P.S. Happy 15th anniversary to the man I love more than anything else in this entire world.


Johnny Depp Gossip: One of Many Cherries Atop a Bountifully Busy Week

Here are six things I learned during this past weekend's bachelorette road trip/retreat for Leelo's godmother Hayley:
  1. Hayley is not just a wonder herself, but a magnet for incredibly multi-talented creative women. Spending the weekend with them was a privilege, and one we're all hoping to repeat.
  2. Parking in front of the gates at Fort Roberts to take a really important cell phone call is a bad idea. However, the MPs at Fort Roberts? Cute, friendly, waved us down the highway with a smile.
  3. I need to add some color to my house, according to the psychic who did our readings. I was hoping for a "...and you will win the lottery so you can fulfill your dream of taking your family around the world while accommodating Leo" pronouncement. I already know that my house is full of empty white walls.
  4. Johnny Depp is a really good guy. I can't go into more detail than that. First hand testimonial.
  5. You should buy all your coffee at GoCoffeeGo.com because my road trip buddy is the founder and owner. Also she is the one who pointed out how tasty the Fort Roberts MP was, I personally would never have noticed. Ahem.
  6. I can spend the weekend in close quarters with twelve women I don't know with very few attention span breaks and not only survive but thrive. Good test run for BlogHer, methinks.
The week before the bachelorette fete was packed. Some visuals:

Golden Gate Bridgin' it. The girls had a contest to see how many "San Francisco" sweatshirts they could spot, given that tourists don't expect cold and foggy summers.

Hiking in Armstrong Redwoods outside Guerneville. Leo loves running along theses trails almost as much as he loves his big sister. Iz is wearing her backpack to prep for her current excursion: a week-long high Sierras trails camp. We brought along Leelo's iPad and used the visual schedule to assure him that we would indeed go have ice cream right after the hike.

 Which we did! (After this we barreled back to San Francisco for the final meeting of our big secret project which I should be able to tell you about in a week or so.)

Leo let his dentist fully examine and clean his teeth! First time ever! And oh yes, this image will be part of his "Going to the Dentist" social story on his iPad.

He figured out how to draw bodies! Another first. I especially like the one on the right; you can see that he started to draw arms coming out of the head, then corrected  himself and drew the arms attached to the torso. This is one of those milestones that evaluators look for, by the way, so this is concrete evidence of Leo continuing to develop and learn. (Notice also the carefully drawn fingers.)

Leo spent two days visiting his new school. He loved it and didn't want to leave. This is during music class.

And, he went to camp again. With his friend Jake and many of his other local buddies. The staff was diligent about sending pictures home via Facebook, so we got to see just how much fun Leo was having, all weekend long (while Iz was backpacking, I was bacheloretting, and Seymour and Mali had a delightful daddy-daughter weekend).

One item I didn't get a picture of but that blew me off my feet and into the clouds: Leo is now eating cheese pizza. This from a boy who has almost every Problem Eater characteristic the inimitable Judy McCrary Koeppen listed in her recent Thinking Person's Guide to Autism post on Autism, Feeding Issues, and Picky Eaters. That voluntary cheese pizza consumption is also proof that Judy knows what the hell she's talking about -- she is Leo's SLP, and has been working with him on feeding for years. It's because of her that we've been gradually, practically in millimeter increments, increasing the amount of cheese/sauce area (yucky) attached to the pizza crust (yum, it's bread, what's not to like) that he will eat. Hope! Springing!

Freaking a bit about leaving for BlogHer tonight but I'll not dwell and instead will leave you with some link self-love (recent posts I've written for sites other than this one):
¡Vamanos al Manzana Grande!