Friday, May 29, 2009

Model Me Kids Training Videos: Building Self-Esteem & Bully Prevention

I received this newsletter from Model Me Kids and thought I would share...

Coming July 2009: New Video Modeling DVD! Model Me Confidence™Building Self-Esteem & Bully Prevention Techniques

A social skills training DVD based on peer modeling for children and teenagers with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

See Previews Here

Topics Include:1. Self-Advocacy 2. Peer Pressure 3. Choosing Friends 4. Building Strengths 5. Visualization 6. Positive Self-Talk 7. Scripting 8. Stay With Others 9. Telling Isn't Tattling 10. Walk Tall11. Group DiscussionVisit Model Me Kids®

Bonus DVD! The DVD is supplemented by a special video geared towards parents, therapists, teachers, and schools with suggestions for supporting bullying prevention. It features Nick Dubin, an adult with Asperger Syndrome and Autism advocate, and School Psychologist Dr. Erica Edelman.

Btw: have you used these types of training videos? If so, please let us know what you think in the comments..

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stone Zoo Event Tomorrow for kids

Want to do something unsual this weekend?

Pajama Party at the Zoo!

What if you could come to Stone Zoo – in your pajamas!? This family-friendly program promises to be loads of fun! Registrants will receive special late entry to the Zoo, a night-time snack, special story-time, a craft project, and up-close encounters with our hyacinth macaw and prehensile-tailed skink!

This very special evening will be held May 29 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Stone Zoo Animal Discovery Center. The cost is $8 per participant, $4 for each additional participant. Advance registration is required. For more information, please call 617-989-3742 or send an e-mail to To learn more about Stone Zoo, visit

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A track star, not a social butterfly

I was pulling into the parking lot of the high school (which is next to the middle school and where the track is located) to pick up Nick promptly at 4:30 from track. The significant element to this story is promptly at the time that I was supposed to be there—and not one minute earlier. I have been in the habit of getting to the track at 4:00 to watch him run and compete with his classmates, but I had decided: not today.
It was a bit selfish on my part, but I needed a break from watching him not be like his other classmates. And I know that sounds harsh, but let me explain...

When I watch him it is so clear that he doesn’t socialize with the other kids, and he so easily seems to get lost in the pack. He sort of just hangs out and waits for a kid (selected by the coach) to help him out. A burden to the team? I really don’t know, and I don’t care, beecause he can be there if he wants to be.  And the kids and coaches do support him and seem to like him very much, so if he’s happy, then I’m happy. So as long as he occasionally runs and does not get ignored—because he could so easily be ignored, and break my heart—then all is good enough. Right?

So yesterday I’d decided that I would not watch him and just show up with the parade of other moms or dads driving in to pick up their own track-star teenager (hey, we can dream), while the kids were all waiting with their selected groups of friend, and Nick standing just slightly off to the side in his group of one, but looked just fine, happy enough, and waiting like everyone else: Like a typical 8th grader…and the reason why I came on time!

Ignorance is bliss is what I said to myself as we pulled out of the school and Nick was showing me his track wound (apparently, a little scrape from falling while jumping hurdles), which required a large bandage patch on his elbow. I played with fire and asked him if he had friends at track and he quite candidly said: No.


But it wasn’t a No in a sad or an embarrassed way, as I would have been if asked that question by my mother and said No… which I wouldn’t have said even if it were true. I would have told her that I did, and would have been upset that she even had to ask.

But I’m not autistic. And Nick is. And his autism doesn’t allow his lack of friends to bother him; actually, he seems to prefer it and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. He just doesn’t care about making friends and seems to run away from the prospects of a kid coming near him  to chat.

I think it is a combination of shyness and the lack of verbal ability. As a late talker and burdened with the inability to make conversation other than to simply answer one word questions (or nod his head)… he doesn’t like to be placed in a situation to chitchat, no matter where he is. (And yes, he’s had years of social skills classes, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on in the real world—at least not yet.)

When I think of this issue, I think of his very first school psychologist. It was in a different town than we currently live, and he was helping me with Nick in kindergarten to just starting the 1st grade. On the eve of our move and Nick’s last day at that school, we were chatting and I fought back tears while telling him that I was worried that he would never have friends and would be alone in life. And he told me, and I still remember the exact expression and smile on his face, “Oh, not a kid like Nick!” (Meaning that he would be surrounded by friends because he’s such a great boy.)

I wonder if that’s still true.

As it stands today, his friends consist of his 41 year old uncle (my brother, who has ADHD and likes the same shows as he does and can easily be just as silly), and the neighbor's kids, who are 5 and 6, who he finds entertaining to watch and will approach them when they are at our house.

I do have a couple of friends who have kids with ADHD and autism, but even when we get them together, it’s like they’re playing apart. It doesn’t work. They don’t mesh. But it doesn’t seem to bother Nick; instead, it seems to amuse him that they don’t socialize with him—like Nick would prefer not to have to socialize with them—a kind of relief, perhaps, but he seems perfectly content to just watch the kids and be among his own group of one: memberships not allowed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The air of Gemini is among us...

Ugh! I feel guilty this morning because I sent Meghan off to school with black feet and dirty hair.


In my defense (ahh, we all have one of these, now don’t we??), I had to work unexpectedly and wasn't home to give her a shower before she went back to school yesterday afternoon. When I saw her last (and left her) she was playing outside on the swings and, yes, sporting bare feet with sandy-dirt underfoot, dirty-ishhh hair and ohhhh, there was no time to get her into a shower, nor would she budge if I had the time. And since her father could not help her in this department, then …

I sat at work fully aware that I had sent her to school looking like a wild, homeless child...

Good grief! Minus 1000000 points for me!

You might be wondering why my 14 year old girl couldn’t just jump into a shower and scrub, scrub, scrub on her very own??


Allow me to explain. Unless I am there to physically enforce and force her to get into the shower (could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours….really), while hovering near and about to make sure that there’s actually some scrubbing going on behind closed curtain … like washing her hair with actual shampoo and not just wetting it down and dumping all that (cheap) yummy fruity goo down the drain, while laughing hysterically… , then she will not do it!

yup, my little angel!!!

I just don’t understand it, though. I had once deemed her my little water girl, she loved…loved…LOVED (stolen from Pride and Prejudice) the water, and showering was her favorite pastime of all. I will show you the watermarks on the family room ceiling below the bathroom if you don’t believe me. In fact, she loved showering so much that we installed an outdoor shower (brilliant idea, btw) and we even contemplated putting in a drain in the middle of her bathroom floor—radical idea and it would have worked, but I thought that Meghan needed to learn to keep water inside the tub… there may not be drains in the middle of bathroom floors in her future.

That’s how much she loved water... and no, it wasn’t because she had dreams of becoming a mermaid or that Aquarius is her astrological sign... she’s actually a Gemini. You know, the yin and yang twins... “The air of Gemini is always changing direction.”... and so true it is...

Once upon a time she loved water because it offered her the sensory stimulation (deep pressure) that she was seeking. I knew this because always after a shower or a dip in our local pond, she would be calmer and happier, as if somebody stripped away an undesirable element from her body.

But as of the last couple of years, she has lost that loving feeling with water and I'm not sure why, other than the yin and yang theory...

It’s either hot or cold with her…in excess or nothing…black or white…good or bad…

There’s no just-a-little-lukewarm-grey-is-okay in her book!!

Find out more about you and your sign here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A time once remembered under lock and key

One day my neighbor came over for a glass of wine, and cried when she saw the inside of my house. Literally. She was a “newer” neighbor and new to the neighborhood (we, ourselves, were new to the area by a little more than a year) and it was one of the first times that I had her over for a glass of wine. She was crying because she finally realized how much harder I had it with my two kids than she did with her one toddler. No comparison! And a no-brainer! But this was the first time she effectively got to see the inside of my house—and noted the alarms on the doors and chains on the two sliding glass doors—as if we had to “lockdown” the house and “wire up” the alarms before we could even go to sleep at night. And she was right.

What was even more interesting was that I had already told her, via a long phone conversation, about Meghan and autism and what our days were kind of like. But seeing is believing, I guess.

She was crying because it had finally sunk in, and it all seemed so alarming to her to “see” that we had to use chains with locks attached to our doors and steel locks on our fenced-in yard gates, that could only be unfastened by a key. She told me something that I had remembered, and would never forget: “Look at how you have to live! You know, no one appreciates what you have to do for your kids and I’m in awe to you, really! I think that you are an exceptional mother and I feel for you, I really do!” And she was fighting back tears while saying this to me.

This form of affection and attention certainly caught me off guard. I was not used to anyone understanding what our life was like living with two autistic kids—let alone, telling me. (And actually, Meghan was the only reason why we had to use chains and alarms on all of our doors and gates because she was prone to bolting away (and bolt being the best word to describe how quick she could escape) and we had nine ponds in our development to worry about, as well.)

It was one of those moments—like an ah-ha moment—where I, too, noticed how we actually lived from an outsider’s point of view. Like, Oh yeah, I do have chains on my doors…isn’t that’s normal? I immediately felt like I wanted to rip off the chains because they suddenly looked so offensive to me, like we were freaks or something. And no wonder why the other neighbors stayed away. Ahhhh-haaaa!!

I’m sure it took a lot for her to say that to me—hence the tears. And she also told me that she would help me whenever I needed it—like a good friend and a neighbor would do for another...

Let me just say that I was not used to hearing that from anyone. And I, too, had to hold back the tears. And previous to that day, my only friends were those who had special needs children of their own, and who not only knew how I lived, but were also the only ones who could relate to my day-to-day life—and who I also equally respect and admire! ;)

I was reminded of this story because Meghan is home for the long weekend (happy Memorial Day!), and on her first night home, we had a cookout (celebrating her birthday) and an outdoor fire, which she enjoyed. But getting her to stay inside during these last two nights was like wishing we still had those chains and locks on the doors.

Progress, or regression?

Though I trusted she would not venture far from the balcony or deck, it still worried me that she was so easily going outside of her own free will. We finally had to say “enough” after 11:00 pm, and send her off to her room—because vigilance is exhausting!! And yes, it was also long past her bedtime (all of our bedtimes, actually), but she still had some pent-up energy to burn, so we allowed her the extra time.

I know that Meghan has come a long way from that fleeing 2,3,4,...7,8,9…12 year old little girl that she once was; and now that she’s 14, she has matured (progressed) in many ways:

She will sit and attend to activities longer than she had before (yes, we’re proud);

she will no longer try to bolt away as she has done twice before (oh, especially proud), and I don’t really have to hold her hand like superglue every time we go out somewhere—but I kind of do anyway, because she has gotten used to this behavior, and now clutches her arm in mine without my asking.

She still does, however, have those “excitable” moments where she will be a bit more hyperactive and move about the house in a rougher way; hence, a once mentioned broken bed…or two.

But, still, a huge improvement from the “lockdown” way of life that we once had lived…. And that I must try to remember this every time she’s home, because you can so easily forget these once remembered moments in time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming home for Surprises….

Meghan will be coming home this weekend for her usual biweekly home visit. This visit will be so much more meaningful for all of us because it’s her birthday weekend: Number 14. Do you remember being 14? I do, I was a freshman in high school and small and scrawny. Meghan is not small or scrawny; in fact, she got her…(um, men don’t wince…) menstrual cycle at 10, so she has been a woman for four whole years now. Incredible! I remember the exact moment that her teacher called to tell me that she had gotten her period; I was driving in my car and almost drove off the road, quite honestly! I was stunned. I wasn’t even a woman at 14, let alone 10. It is said that girls are getting their (okay men, once again) “cycle” earlier than ever before. Some suggest that it is due to diet (overeating) and hormones in food.

Interesting research, here, not sure if it's true or not?

What will also (hopefully) be another treat for her is that we have repainted her room and I bought her a new, fun quilt for the spring and summer (white with pink, green, and blue polka dots—very clean, refreshing, and cute!!). Her room is a huge improvement from what it was before: bright yellow and pink.

Now I have been told that these are the worst colors that one can choose for kids, especially kids with sensory issues since these colors overstimulate the senses and can cause feelings of anger. Pink also increases blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, and pulse rate. Great!! I’ve been unwittingly working to overstimulate my hyperactive girl for all these years…

So we will soon get to see how she will react to Christopher Robin’s Swing green, since that is the new color of her room. Warm, serene and relaxing. Right there alongside her overstimulating television set!


And this is the perfect prelude to the sweet story about her bed. Actually, it’s 1/2 sweet and 1/2 disturbing…

My sister and I grew up sharing the same bedroom (ahh, so sweet? Up until I was about 17 and wanted to kill her, but that’s another story…and now I can blame the pink walls!!) and we had a matching (white) bedroom set to share. And over the years, I've inherited the two twin beds, something that I thought Meghan would want. Anyhow, since her room was too small for two single beds (bad house design), I gave away the second bed (to another little girl who needed it and appreciates it, dearly…. at least that is what I am told!), and I gave Meghan my bed (or my sister’s bed, or my bed, or....oh, who can tell, they’re identical!). So that is the sweet and endearing part of the story; that a second generation is enjoying a nostalgic-inducing twin bed. Mother and daughter sharing one childhood bed…Ohhh!!

And No, that doesn’t make it an antique!!

Now wipe away those tears, because the happy story now takes a disturbing turn—well, sort of. You see, as I’ve told you before, Meghan is a little rough and heavy on people, places and things... including the aforementioned not-an-antique bed, and has not only bent the metal bed frame (quite surprisingly—I thought only Superman or Hulk could do that!!), but has also done a number on the box-spring, too. I would show you a picture, but I’m afraid you might freak… so just take my word for it that we had to gut the entire insides of the box-spring (box-spring without springs… why is that, anyway?) and fix it to make it stable, or simply go without it altogether.

Now you might be thinking, Hey, why not just buy her a new box- spring, crazy people!!? Well, it’s simple, because she will break that one too. And then the next one, and the next…, most likely. So we are going on the concept that we will be repairing it with heavy-duty wood pieces and a good prayer that she will be more gentle with her new and improved not-an-antique bed, since she will no longer be overstimulated by the bright-as-a-stop-sign yellow and angry pink!!

One can only hope.

And, of course, she will also be getting yummy, over-stimulating chocolate cake…

And she can eat it too!!

More, here, about how to handle girls and puberty, autistic and typical girls alike.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Travel to Boston on a Private Jet

Ohhh, as someone with a heavy entrepreneurial spirit (in fact, my juices are flowing right now for a new business .... stay tuned for more on that at some point later in the year), I just love hearing about new entrepreneurs and their new enterprises, like this one.

One of my closest friends, Judy, sent me this link to share with you and others who may be interested. It's a new business called Autism Escapes, and it is the brainchild of a New Jersey couple who have a 10 year old autistic son. Here's the deal: As we all know, it is sometimes very difficult to travel with our autistic kids--I know this from firsthand experience--and so do the people at Autism Escapes. They get corporate jet owners and pilots to donate services so families can get a free private flight into Hanscom Air Force base in Lexington, and transportation to Mass General's renowned LADDERS program for autistic kids. Parents get to utilize the autism programs, doctors and therapists in Boston without the worries of getting here.

Read more here...

Friday, May 15, 2009

A loving moment, not for the weak at stomach

Meghan was home this past weekend, and at one time, she came over to me, while I was sitting and relaxing on a chair, and started stroking my hair.

Ohhh, so sweet. She was actually stoking my head ever so softly and sweetly. It was the most loving and impressive moment that I’ve ever had with (by) Meghan. In fact, her mannerisms are usually those of rough, heavy, severe, that one would usually liken her to a bull in a china shop, because soft and easy isn’t her thing..

But here she was stoking my head with a nice, soft, and easy hand that I said: "ahhh, Meghan, that’s so nice; so sweet! I love you, too! "

As she continued, I reclined and enjoyed the loving moment that I knew would only last for a few more seconds … until my eyes popped open and I said to myself….

Is that the smell of poop on her hands?

Ohhh. Myyyyyy. GOD!!

I mean, it is an undeniable stench!

And what does a mom say/do at a moment like that; a moment that has never before been experienced by her autistic girl. And here, here it was, the sweetest moment of Meghan’s life--finally exhibiting love and care for another human being, and …

the heavy odor of poop still lingered from her hands…

Maybe she was wiping her hands on my head?

So I quickly--but nonchalantly--inspected her hands, and to my relief, no signs of … well, you know.

So I continued to let her caress my head without making a face that said: ugh, gross, yuck, I wanna throw up…

And noted that as soon as the loving moment has past, she would--once again--scrub her hands with soap and water-- ironically, a favorite pastime of hers--soap, water, ahhh, the fresh, clean smell of lavender..

And I would need a shower…

Ohhh, the things we do for love!!!!

And btw, this moment will be remembered minus the poop smell!! ;)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Merriam-Webster defines consequence as:

1. A conclusion derived through logic: inference
2. Something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions
3. Importance with respect to power to produce an effect

As like a lot of autistic kids, Meghan has a very hard time understanding the consequence of her actions. Sending her to her room wasn’t enough of a consequence (or punishment) for her to stop the undesirable activity or behavior; and as a consequence, I had no way of properly mothering her and keeping her safe, other than constantly racing after her and hovering over her.

Many years ago, one of her teachers (the one I really hated) told me, and the rest of the team, that Meghan could successfully be disciplined by keeping her locked in her room and installing a peephole in her door. Yeah, right. Instead of “services,” I should get a lock and a peephole; instead of a bus monitor, I should get her a leotard (a long, frustrating story). Let me just add, holding her in her room has never worked. She doesn’t mind being in her room, and the one time that she did mind, she threw a toy at the window and broke the window. I got to her just in time before she could play with the shards of glass—which she found most intriguing!!

The bottom line: Meghan didn’t care about being sent to her room or not getting dessert (which she would just find unfair) or not going to the playground; she didn’t understand how not getting these things were in relation to what she did wrong, even if the consequence followed the negative behavior.

I’ve even tried rewarding her for her positive behavior. For instance, she would never sit in her seat belt in the car, so in order for me to drive anywhere, I would give her a piece of her favorite candy (like an M&M) every few minutes for rewarding her for sitting in her seat belt. Unfortunately, doing this just proved to be a desperate attempt to keep her busy while she sat in her seat belt. Either she didn’t understand that she was being rewarded for the “appropriate behavior” or she simply didn’t care, because, when she got full or bored, she would be out of her seat belt like a hyperactive child on a sugar high (hmmm)--and I would be screwed!

One Christmas when Meghan was around 5, my sister bought her a preschool toy that taught cause and effect. The toy was big, bulky, and required the youngster to push a small plastic ball through the top to watch it come out through a door at the bottom: a consequence to the action, place the ball in the top, get it back at the bottom. I thought it was insulting.

Today, I want it back, because Meghan still doesn’t get the consequence of her actions theory. And no matter how much I try and trust that she does, it is always thrown back in my face.

Take, for instance, her ipod. She first borrowed Nick’s even though he told me he didn’t want her to use it because she would bite its shiny glass surface. I told him that I would supervise, and did, until I trusted her with it, and then she broke it.

So we go out and buy them new ipods (a consequence to my misguided actions and a second chance for Meghan) and all is forgiven and good again, until she decides to chew on the plastic earphone cord, and now the earphones no longer work.

And no more ipod for her until she learns that biting the cord will get her “no ipod.”
And how do we exercise that experiment? By eventually giving her new earphones and trying again.

And again…
And again…

Do you see the vicious cycle here? This is not parenting 101 (like it was/is with Nick); this is super parenting for the parents who are destined to go insane!!

And I know in some way she can’t help it; she has sensory integration issues and when she is in the presence of a soft, pliable piece of plastic, she can’t help but chew, chew, chew to her hearts content. And, yes, I have tons of chewing tubes for her to use for this very need, but, apparently, these, too, get boring.

As for the ipod, Meghan is still none the wiser, for she cannot understand the concept: that due to her actions, she can no longer listen to her ipod; just as much a mechanical consequence as it is a behavioral one.

So she bites her hand and kicks me. And still no ipod. And I walk away.

Hmm, there’s always next time, I guess.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day!

I’ve been hearing those three words for 15 years now...

and it doesn’t get old.

But they are!!!

Have a Great Day all of you Fearless Moms!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I watched Nick at track practice the other day. I had to go early to pick him up for a doctor’s appointment (a psychiatrist appointment for more meds… sigh. A boy of 15 (12 when he started) has a shrink…sigh, sigh, sigh.). So, I got a chance to watch him at track. Now let me tell you that I have done this before, and will continue to watch him at track because I’m so proud of him for even participating in an extracurricular sports program while he is suffering from acute anxiety at school—hence, the need for meds—and for a second year of track, too.

Yay for Nick!!

So, what’s it like to watch him with the other kids—typical kids? Well, my feelings are a bit twofold, as one can only imagine… On one fold, I love watching him, and sometimes I get to see how he fits right in with the other kids... I mean, running is a solitary sport, right? Up until it’s not. Right? Now you must be thinking: what the heck is she talking about; what’s she sniffin’ over there in Plymouth??

Nick is not really a smiling kind of kid. He’s happy, but he doesn’t always show it on his face. So when he’s at track, one can’t tell what he’s thinking… I know he likes track, otherwise he wouldn’t want to go, and I certainly wouldn’t make him. So I have to believe that he is happy in track and enjoys himself—as he has told me that he does, the many times that I’ve asked. The other side of this fold, is that when I do watch him at track, I feel like I’m chewing on my heart, for reason I’m going to tell you now.

On this particular day, it was raining outside and practice was held in the gym, running and playing racing games, etc….

And I had to witness him play a group racing game (team game), and did.

How’d it go? Well I got that ache in the pit of my stomach that said: shit, fuck and damn, why do I have to be here. Why couldn’t I just fantasize that he is doing great in a group activity and smile obliviously and be happy.

Huh? Why? Why did I have to witness this…?

Kids were broken up in two teams: one team on one side of the gym, and the other on the opposite. They were competing with each other for the team that could run the fastest, while touching various lines. The team opposite Nick’s ran first: the clock stopped at 20 seconds…

When his team was next, I held my breath and watched: the time stopped at 25 seconds. And any clueless spectator would have been able to deduct that it would have been a much better time if Nick hadn’t slowed them down.

Shit, crap, damn…was that a moan I heard from a few of his teammates?? And were they all watching me because they knew who I was?

Now I am not picking on my son; I love him dearly—obviously—but he didn’t even seem to try. The buzzer sounded and the kids ran, and Nick was about 10 seconds behind them and he wasn’t working hard to catch up… even slowing at some points.

The heaviness I felt was not that he was slower than the other kids… even on the field, he is slow at the races, as if he thinks that racing is about going as fast as he wants to: like there’s no team spirit, no rules. I don’t care if he comes in last, but I do care if the other kids are wishing and hoping that he isn’t on their team.

Remember picking teams in high school? Someone was always picked last, and that meant that they didn’t want that person on their team.

And I can’t help to think that that’s my son, too.

It’s like chewing on your heart to watch…it really is.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Stone Zoo's got some green and wild things cooking!!

Recycle computers and electronics at Stone Zoo!
Free recycling day on Sunday, May 17

In honor of Endangered Species Day, Stone Zoo is inviting people to help the environment by responsibly recycling their old electronic and computer equipment. Items may be dropped off in the Stone Zoo parking lot from 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 17. CRT Recycling, which has a zero landfill policy, will recycle the items. CRT Recycling ensures that computer hard drives, which may contain personal info, are shredded if they are removed from the machine. For more information on CRT Recycling, visit

The company recycles the following items for FREE from schools and non-profit organizations: computer monitors, laptops, CPUs, servers, CD Rom/DVD drives, speakers, mice, keyboards, plugs, wires and parts/accessories of computers, copy/fax/scanner/printers, phones of any kind and phone systems, UPS (computer battery back -up systems), camera/video/audio equipment, DVD players, stereos, VCRs, Walkmans, iPods and accessories, microwaves, air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, hot water tanks and heaters, washing machines, dryers, stoves and dishwashers. Please note that televisions will not be accepted.

For more information, please visit Stone Zoo is located at 149 Pond Street, Stoneham.

Celebrate Endangered Species Day!May 16 and 17 at Stone Zoo

Did you know that Endangered Species Day is May 15? Did you know that Stone Zoo is home to several endangered species including jaguars, hyacinth macaws and snow leopards? On Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 visit the Animal Discovery Center at Stone Zoo to learn about endangered species, including our very own special residents – the Panamanian golden frogs!

Pick up an Endangered Species scavenger hunt, and participate in activities and animal encounters to learn what you can do to help endangered species and raise awareness.

Meet our Zoo staff and learn about animals and conservation!
2:00 p.m.—Jaguar, at exhibit in Treasures of the Sierra Madre

About Endangered Species Day: Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation’s wildlife and wild places. Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is the third Friday of May.

ALSO: A Wild Affair!

Everyone’s Wild for Stone Zoo’s 2009
Fifth Annual Tasting Event to Benefit Zoo’s Education and Conservation Programs
WHAT: A Wild Affair is a “tasting” event that will feature stations hosted by local restaurants and caterers - as well as live entertainment, a silent auction and an opportunity to stroll among the animals. Last year’s sold-out event attracted more than 600 guests and this year promises to be even better with the opening of Stone Zoo’s new gibbon exhibit. Endangered animals native to Southeast Asia, gibbons are arboreal (tree dwellers) and the exhibit will be 20 feet tall to allow them to climb and swing from trees, mimicking their natural environment. Proceeds from A Wild Affair support the operation and continued growth of Stone Zoo, including its education programs and conservation initiatives.
WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 2009
TIME: 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stone Zoo, 149 Pond Street, Stoneham, MA 02180
TICKETS: Tickets are $40.00 in advance and $50.00 at the gate. To order tickets call 617-989-3760 or or visit FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 781-438-5100 or visit

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two kids, two lives

It may appear that I have only one child; at least it feels that way. I catch myself thinking that sometimes while I’m doing basic things: taking a shower, cleaning the house, picking up groceries. I think to myself: is this just a phase in life that everyone goes through, that it happened to me earlier than expected? It’s not like a death where she is gone from me for good, but it’s more like a moving on to a different life earlier than expected… a childhood cut short, an innocence fading--in a way, at least from my perspective. It’s boarding school, really, kids go to boarding schools or else they wouldn’t exist (...ah, boarding schools, that is, not kids). She is there at school enjoying her life of school programs, activities, girlfriends, and even dances--for which I have to buy her a new dress, but will not be there to see her in it, but she is happy from what I hear, very happy.

But it does seem like there is only one now, a boy, to take care of, to love, to dote on and offer him pie. Blueberry pie, this time, and it was good from the look in his eye and the smile on his face…good pie after his hard day at school, how simple is that: a boy’s life, his innocence, a childhood still intact.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Teens, Sex and Television (Ugh!)

My son seems to be making transformations of his own lately…. That is, he is only watching television shows that display, talk about, and refer to the act of sex. And he’s learning about this stuff from, um, television’s very high quality programming (extreme sarcasm here): Two and a Half Men, for example, yeah, nothing like learning about womanizing and inappropriate sexual comments, and, unfortunately, it’s his personal fave… I always hear him cracking up a laugh or two over its stupid and perverted jokes…. Jokes that he doesn’t get…at least I think he doesn’t. but I think he likes the kissing scenes and the half naked women leaning over the bed, kinda thing. Ohhh, geez!!!!!!

And there’s another show called Family Guy. I’ve never actually watched this one but after overhearing it on the TV, I quickly realized it has sexual references. So I ran down to the family room to hover (not to criticize, just observe nonchalantly) and Nick quickly changed it to CNN. Yeah, right! That’s the equivalent of the time that I had just gotten my drivers license (at 17) and told my mother that I was meeting a friend at the "library." Yeah, right! Let me also back that statement with the well know fact that I’ve only actually been to our public library maybe twice in my youth…

So no, Nick, I don’t believe you were watching CNN.

I do believe, however, that you were watching something with sex themes (please tell me that they are not graphic.), but here I must stop myself because I realize that you are 15 now—as hard as that is for me to believe, but when did sex become an interest??? Dirty jokes, Madd magazine, do you even get the comedy? But that’s not up for me to argue or deny, because you are a growing boy just trying to feel your way to adulthood… I get it. I was your age, too. However, my dad bought me, um, higher quality magazines, like Redbook and Young Miss, the real and healthy way to get all the answers—and I did, quite surprisingly—and genius on his part. I also relished some of the young teen fiction books located at my school’s library (when one is forced to go to the library, then one is in search of sexually interesting books…). Yes, in fact, that is where I learned that "sex is like an itch that you need to scratch." (Hmm, not sure if that’s any better?) Anyway, it’s my turn to teach and I am failing miserably. So if anyone knows todays equivalent of Young Miss magazine, but for young men, then please let me know what you would recommend---and if superheroes are the theme, then it’s a done deal!! And I am not talking about what’s happening to my body books, he’s got those, I just need to feed his peaked interest of the nature and, perhaps, the mechanics of sex in a more positive way—if possible.

OMG I can’t believe I had to blog about this….