Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He's a Cheap Date

My first giveaway.  Could you use a $25 Visa gift card? Just leave a comment to this post and  I will announce a winner next week. No strings attached.

This giveaway is sponsored by the They have several autism awareness designs available and wanted you to know about them.  Yours, should you win, will come with the $25 gift and you can reload it then as needed.

One of Reid's current IEP goals has to do with spending money in the community.  Or as some call it: shopping.  He can go pretty far on $25.  I keep his debit card pre-loaded with that safe amount and it lasts for weeks.  As he ventures out with his classmates to the shopping center near the high school, he might spend $4.51 at Rubios or $1 on a Sprite or maybe more if I give him my short grocery list.

Reid is a cheap date. He isn't addicted to Starbucks. He doesn't shop for the latest fashions. He prefers a VHS tape for 50 cents to a DVD. He doesn't go for pizza and a luxury theater with friends on weekends; he's content with YouTube.  

So when he asks for a box of 12 Ticonderoga pencils at Staples or a bear claw at Panera it is easy to say yes. Likewise, at Disneyland last week when he asked for this oversized lollipop, I said yes.  I had already stipulated we would not buy a DVD souvenir this time.  Not one for extraneous spending myself, I can go a whole day without so much as a water bottle. Saving myself for a better deal outside the park, I try to pass along my frugality without starving or dehydrating the poor kid.  He did well searching for water fountains, "just browsing" at the gift shops, and skipping the sub-par Mexican options.

He gets more mileage out of a $5 lollipop than any kid I know.  It was so worth it. Thanks to "beautiful Molly" for capturing 23 seconds of our gleeful day on tape!

How would you spend your $25?  Tell me in a comment. Thanks for entering the giveaway;)

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. John 16:23-25

My son, eat honey, for it is good, Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; 
Proverbs 24:12-14

Friday, June 21, 2013


Five Minute Friday: want to play?


I love the snapping.  I love the dynamics. I love the hum. I love the rhythm. He keeps time, sets the tempo, grabs the crowd.  But woe to those who snap along past the first introduction.  Rules are rules.

He told me in the car on the way...Frank will play two introductions but I only snap on the first introduction.

What I notice is how the rocking, twisting, and alternate "standing like a tree" are his effective way of keeping the rhythm.  Like a jazz player tapping his foot to keep the beat, he's just got the whole body keeping time as a foundation for the lyrics. It's the physicality that makes Dick Van Dyke funny. We just need to add choreography.

Watching this video of Reid's recital performance last night gives me as much joy a watching Gene Kelly in "An American in Paris" singing the "Igot...." song with those French youngsters and their aeroplane arms in charade imitation acting out his language lesson.  I got rhythm. They got rhythm. Reid got rhythm. Who could ask for anything more...???

See for yourself:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Favorite Movie All Time?

Reid has an effective conversation starter.  Whether in the hot tub at our neighborhood pool, on the church patio, or a line at the bank, it works like a charm to engage friends, strangers and countrymen.

"What is your favorite movie of all time?" he inquires with characteristic enthusiasm.

Some struggle with the superlative, but everyone seems able to spout off at least a multiple choice of three or so.  Then there is common ground.  Reid walks away with something new to search for at the thrift store, his horizons stretched.  His conversational counterpart pleased by the meaningful exchange.

Embracing the movie obsession as I write my book, The Poppins Revelation, I've compiled a Top 10 Movies of All Time list for each member of our family.  It can be telling.  What are yours?  Can you accurately name those of your spouse?  Of your kids?  Endless dinner conversation ensues...(and fodder for future Friday movie nights)


1.  Lost in America, Albert Brooks
2.  Julie & Julia, Amy Adams
3.  Kate & Leopold
4.  Hans Christian Anderson, Danny Kaye
5.  Singin' in the Rain, Gene Kelly
6.  The Soloist
7.  You've Got Mail
8.  The Nativity
9.  Down with Love
10. Mary Poppins


1.  Brazil
2.  The Seedling
3.  Sprout
4.  Bourne
5.  Ip Man 2
6.  Ran
7.  Annie Hall
8.  2001 Space Odyssey
9.  Adam's Rib
10. Endless Summer


1.  Mary Poppins
2.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
3.  Swiss Family Robinson
4.  Singin' in the Rain
5.  Melody Time
6.  Peter Pan
7.  Old Yeller
8.  Mulan
9.  American in Paris
10. The Jungle Book


1. National Velvet
2. Count of Monte Cristo
3. Swiss Family Robinson
4. Bourne Supremacy
5. Shawshank Redemption
6. The Notebook
7. Gladiator
8. A Walk to Remember
9. Sleepless in Seattle
10. Inception

Monday, June 17, 2013

Musical Influences

What draws you back to the same restaurant over and over?  Food might be the obvious answer. But ambiance and service weigh in heavily.

A couple of years ago, we happened upon The King's Highway within the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs.

Better than a sports bar with umpteen sets hanging from the ceiling, King's Highway has Linda.  She is the entertainment.  She rings her bell and like a female Dean Martin croons her way tableside with such confident panache that all are mesmerized.  Our first time we could only observe.

The next time for Allie and Reid's 16th birthday, she sang directly to them. Allie wished she could've crawled under a carpet at the time, but I think she enjoys the memory of it.

What song, you ask?  Her go-to birthday serenade began, "It had to be you........Allie and Reid...It had to be you......"  Linda is a versatile vocalist and personable too.

The whole place just works for us.  There's a pool, mixed ages, gourmet food, hip design, something for everyone --just like the movies Singin' in the Rain or Swiss Family Robinson offer romance, action, and song.

So last January break, Allie suggested we take a couple nights and go there.  It was wonderful.  Nothing like a roadtrip to rekindle sibling bonding.  We hiked Joshua Tree one day then enjoyed all the amenities of the Ace. Jim takes pictures profusely. Who knew how much "thrifting" Palm Springs offered--the new activity of choice for Reid whereby we rid the universe of old VHS technology by buying them up at a quarter a piece, viewing and dismantling the tape inside, rendering them finally and totally defunct.

But Saturday night ohhh Sturday night, we arrived early for dinner hoping Linda was on.  And she was. Whether she remembered us was unclear.  But give us a show she did nonetheless.  In rapt conversation with Reid, she asked if she could try a new one on us, "Rockabye my Dixie Baby...would that be okay?"

"Sure, that's the one!" said Reid rubbing his hands together in frenetic glee.

We ordered.  Took a sip of our drinks. Then a bell rang vigorously cueing the soundtrack to pause.  Linda slinked over to our table.  The woman is bold....and my smooth, supremely stealth husband got it discretely on film.

So to the musical influences on Reid's Cdbaby site--Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, and Scotty McCreery--we add Fabulous Linda!  She may not be on 94.1's radio rotation. She won't be in next season's Idol competition. Yet, she's an unmistakable household word at our table.

Linda Gerard is an influential lady. She sings it like she means it. She has confidence. She is relational.  She has pipes! Reid's even taken to wearing shades like hers.

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without  a following.  Proverbs 14:27-29 

Friends, let me give you an example from everyday affairs of the free life I am talking about. Galatians 3:14-16 

I scrub my hands with purest soap, then join hands with the others in the great circle, dancing around your altar, God, Singing God-songs at the top of my lungs, telling God-stories. Psalm 26:5-7

Everything Here is Broken

The Kingsmen band Reid was in had a lot of gigs.  About 30 in the course of 5 years.  Some were on large stages; once was at the Belly Up. Others were rather funky spaces.  Maybe that's true of all bands.  My music industry experience is still more limited than my imagination.

Once we found ourselves at the Park Avenue Gallery on El Cajon Blvd. These North county suburban families and our naive, clean cut boys were slightly unaccustomed to the urban environment.  In daylight, it may have felt different.  Arriving at night, I could feel the malaise form the other moms. Where are we? Is this safe? Next tothe clogged entry, a back alley lurked with mystery.

I had booked the gig so came the weight of responsibility.  It was an art gallery operated by a church.  Surely, we'd be fine. As the night wore on, we all settled into the vintage vibe of the veneer wood wall panels, low ceiling and the interplay of bare bulbs and twinkling Christmas lights.  As Angela and the boys set up their equipment, we introduced ourselves to the sound guy and manager, quickly realizing he was one in the same.

Joey (name changed) is perhaps the most persnickety of the bandmates.  As polite and mannerly as a character on Barney's television set, he shook the man's hand. Then observed him digging miscellaneous amps and equipment out of the dark backstage. Joey is as honest as he is polite.  Asking for a power cord he commented, "That cord's broken."

"The floor's dirty. I'm not sure that will work. We don't want anyone to trip," he continued noticing.

His tone and posture might flag anxiety to a shrink.  To us, it was just Joey being Joey pre-show worrying that the muzak would be turned off in time and that no cables present a fire hazard. He's a persistent perfectionist. As the patient manager produced more and more equipment to meet our needs, he continued.  The stand was wobbly.  The keyboard stand missing a leg cap.

"That's broken," he offered again for emphasis.

Finally with kindness and a deeper understanding, the gracious soundguy-manager said, "Joey, everything here is broken."

True that. Present company included. No problem. Let's make music anyway and enjoy it.

God created a perfect world. Sin entered. It's a fallen world now. We are all broken. But there's a plan of carry on...eyes forward...let's sing.

Warm and gracious, with that simple truth, he set the tone and instantly we were safe.  Seeing his eyes, I knew nothing could go wrong. Anything the boys might do or not do, would be fine.  He's cool! They're cool. We're all good. That was Jesus in him.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Psalm 34:17-19 

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:17-19 

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!  Psalm 51:6-8 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dreams become Reality

My friend, Joel Anderson (no relation) has had a dream since he was a little boy: to go to China.  This summer it comes true..and in so doing the prayers of many others may be answered as well.

A team of 10 professionals, parents, autism specialists (Joel included) will visit China to teach caregivers in an orphanage the autism interventions that Joel grew up with and have resulted in his proficiency today.  Teaching methods that are common here in the States but not necessarily in China where cultural perceptions are quite different.

In preparation for the trip Joel has painted Noah's Ark banners for the children's rooms. He also produced this mini-documentary to show Chinese officials and leaders ways children on the autism spectrum can become contributing members of society.

Although I can barely imagine the flight with my Reid, I am continually encouraged by watching what Joel accomplishes in consistent, manageable steps. Who's behind his success? His mom, Sandi, is a paragon of encouragement and creativity.  As much as any paid therapist we've hired, she injects the right shot of adrenaline or creativity or optimism every time I call her in a quandry.

I hope you have a friend like Sandi to remind you all things are possible.  I hope you have a role model like Joel to show you dreams become reality.

Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 2 Samuel 22:49-51 

“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”  Mark 4:19-21

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Believing what you Hear

I've always had a certain fondness for SAP. They moved us back to California with a generous relocation package, back in the day, when that was the norm. They recognized greatness in Jim.  

They continue to set trends by employing hundreds of people with autism as software testers and programmers. This article explains it further.

  • “Many people say that if a company like SAP said it makes sense ... it's very good for us,” said (Auticon's) chief Dirk Mueller-Remus. “That means it's something serious, solid."

  • 'Its goal is that by 2020, people with autism will make up 1 percent of its worldwide workforce of 65,000."  

Apparently when SAP acts, other people take notice.  Their goal which I believe they will accomplish,  will make a dent in employing the growing and maturing population of 1 in 54 boys on the spectrum who have serious skills and will need jobs. Thank you SAP and Auticon for stepping out in front.

A credible reference, a testimonial, a vote of confidence.  It makes all the difference to one's success.  For example:  getting an agent convinces me I can write a book.  That first donation for a mission trip makes possible to raise the rest of the funds. It is so empowering to have someone believe in you and say so. Words of affirmation have power over our behavior.

That's why this list of true statements God makes about you could be life changing. Read them outloud and see what I mean.  Read them over your kids at bedtime and see what I mean. Hearing--and believing--what God thinks of you makes all the difference to your success.

You are a spirit beingalive to God. I Thessalonians 5:23

You are a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind. II Corinthians 4:4

You are a doer of the Word and blessed in your actions. James 1:22

 Then the Lord said....I am watching over My word to perform it.”  Jeremiah 1:12