4100 Pages

We just finished the Harry Potter series. We started five years ago and have tackled one every summer, and some during the winters in between. I have read each of those 4100 pages out loud to my kids. The first book starts with such innocence and it perfectly matched where Riley and Seth were at the time. As Harry grew and matured, so did they, right in step with him.

The last book gets very dark, and it is appropriate that they didn’t read that book ’til this year. They can handle it now. They couldn’t have before.

The first one we started on a porch swing at a house we were renting when we first moved to CLE. The kids were 8 and six. The rest have been read snuggled together on our king sized bed, or I’ve read to them while they’ve eaten dinner on evenings that Todd worked.

I have loved reading aloud to my children. I am almost ready to be done with it. I am tired. Seth might have one more series in his future, he wants me to read The Lord of the Rings to him. We’ll see.

I’ve already read him The Hobbit and also the Indiana Jones series and a bunch of other less meaty books. Mostly while waiting for his sister while she’s been at various therapies. He’s become quite the independent reader, but the fact that he still wants me to read to him, still wants that closeness, I might not be able to resist. It won’t be much longer, I’m afraid.

When we finished the last words of Harry Potter today, he was on my left, she on my right. Spontaneously, they both hugged me, and in doing so hugged each other and we stayed there like that, in a group hug on the big bed for a thoughtful while and then Seth broke the moment with, “What’s next?”

What’s next?

We are moving. They are growing up.

A chapter is closing.

When they think back on their childhoods, I hope they fondly remember Cleveland, and the boy with the lightening scar on his forehead, and the mom that loved them so much.

Reading at Mac’s Backs

Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar

This Saturday at Mac’s Backs, I have my first reading ever. I’m trying not to over-think it. I’m trying not to under-think it. I want to be prepared. I sort of feel like I’ve gotten on a roller coaster ride and it’s edging up the mountain and I’m all… on second thought….can we stop this thing? I’m not so sure about this. But it will all be okay.

It will be fine. Fine.

I know plenty of writers who do readings all the time and act like it’s no big deal, but they must have had a first time. And I bet they were at least a little scared. And my book is really personal.

I’ll be reading with another writer, Terre Maher. We spoke on the phone the other day and she seems lovely. That helps. We discovered in our conversation that we have much in common. Weird Stuff. No accidents stuff. I’ll tell you about it after the reading, unless you live in Cleveland and want to come. Then you’ll find out on Saturday.

Wish me luck. Wish that my lip or eye doesn’t start to twitch. Wish that I don’t read too fast. Wish that people show up. Wish that I wasn’t such a nervous Nelly.

You know, it’s strange. I used to work in radio. I had a White House press pass. I interviewed “important” people and my pieces were played on radio stations all over the country. Outwardly, I was intimidated by no one. I was once chastised by my boss for “not being awestruck enough” about covering the President’s State of the Union address. My reply to him was,

“These Congressional Reps and Senators sit down on the can like everyone else.”

One of my young colleagues almost did a spit-take over that one. The kahunas of my younger self astound me. But the bravado I used to carry around in my twenties has long since burned off. That’s a good thing. Bravado is just masked insecurity afterall.

Now it’s just me, being more real, which means sometimes being afraid.

Reading aloud from my memoir in public is a little scary but so what?

It will be fine. Fine.

It totally will.

Mac’s Backs
7PM Jan. 28th
1820 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Heights

Breathing Room

After a long, anxiety filled week (due to my book’s release on Amazon) it was nice to spend the evening watching the sunset over Lake Erie at my friend Kathy’s.

Gearing up to go over, gathering the kids I honestly felt just too darn tired to do it. But after about ten minutes by the water, the fatigue melted away. The sound of the waves. The air. And of course the good company, soon had me feeling renewed.

Kathy’s friend’s dog had fun retrieving sticks.

The kids had fun too.

I came home with more energy than I left with.

Nature never fails.

Thanks Kathy! Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!


She Even Bought Me Breakfast!

What does author, mother of three girls with autism, and autism advocate Kim Stagliano have in common with the guys in the Cleveland cover band Almost Famous? Besides fake Slash’s curly hair?

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Both were on Fox News this morning. It was bizarre. There was the band, singing Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy (BTW….Seth always thought the lyrics of that one were “Shave a horse, ride a cowboy”) and in the middle of the sexified raunchy song, they stopped immediately and cut to Kim. And then they showed a picture of poop.

Kim looked smashing in her plaid wool suit. Ultra poised and dignified, in stark contrast to the band,(not that there is anything wrong with dressing up like Slash, Elvis, Poison or AC/DC if it brings you joy).

We tweeted during the show and within an hour Kim and I were having breakfast at Tommy’s, a wonderful Cleveland establishment. Always a pleasure to see her and have time to talk. We packed family, books, autism triumphs, tragedies and puzzles, and lots of laughs into our conversation and enjoyed a kid free meal together. Then she was off to be keynote speaker at an autism conference held here today.

Tomorrow she has a book signing at The Learned Owl in Hudson at 1PM. If you are in the area, do attend. She never disappoints.

She’s superwoman.

Go, Kim Go!

Checking in…

Busy week here, so I’m just going to post some pics from the last several days….Lake Erie at sunset…

Mr. Seth swinging on a rope….

Gearing up for the July fourth bike parade.

July 4th Indian vs. Yankees game (nosebleed seats)

More when I come up for air.

All is well.


Karen Weaverisms

In honor of her birthday…I give you lessons from Karen Weaver, Director of Windsong, Cleveland’s feminist chorus…

1)Show up

2)Be on time

3)Asking forgiveness is easier than asking persmission

4)Encourage others

5)Stop talking!

6)Wait for your freaking cue

7)Observe rests

8)Work in pencil

9) Take responsibility for your own learning

10) Take risks

Bonus:  Never sing beyond the beauty of your own voice.

Would the teenage part of yourself be happy with who you are now?

Last night I had the good fortune of seeing Troubadours of Divine Bliss at Unity Center of the Heights. They are hard to explain. Kind of like The Indigo Girls but their songs mostly speak of Divine love, and with an accordion.

They were awesome! I have to say, I’ve been manifesting so many wonderful things as of late. I’d never heard of this band before, and suddenly there I was, blissing out listening to their inspiring music! Honoring the concept of Law of Attraction, whenever I am enjoying something lately, I’ve taken to appreciating myself for manifesting it. Go me! I figure I blame myself enough when things go wrong, it’s only fair to take credit when they go right!

During the set, they mentioned a question asked of them in a recent interview:

Would the teenage part of yourself be happy with who you are now?

Food for thought, no?

Not trying to sound conceited, but I believe my teen self would think I’m awesome. I have busted through so many barriers. Physically, mentally, educationally, financially, emotionally, spiritually. My teenage self didn’t think she was worth a damn. She had no idea Who She Was.

I’ve become the parent my teen self wished she’d had. I say that not with blame, or to inflict shame. My parents were 17 and 18 when they married. My father suffered horrible abuse as a child. My mother carried her own pain. They were unhealed kids, hoping the other would fix it, and neither had any tools.

Back to me….LOL. I’m so much more free now than when I was a teen, and I keep on growing in that area. Riley did that. Oh how I fought against it at first, but my daughter taught me how “different” can bring great freedom with it. She can’t be like everybody else. It’s not what she came here to do. Parenting her like “everyone else” was never going to work. Letting go has brought such richness to our experience.

My teenage self was dealing with so much. She acted tough, but she was always so afraid. I think she’d be happy to know I led her safely to 42. I think she’d love the kids. She always loved kids. I think she’d tell me to dress cooler and wear more jewelry. She’d appreciate HT’s integrity, and love who he is as a father. She’d insist I dance more.

I think she’d say, “You’re doing good.”

She knows proper grammar, but has never been a stickler for it. Kind of an “in your face” to a system that underestimated her.

She’d be glad I write.

She had a lot to say.

U23D in Cleveland

So we’ve been living here in Cleveland for over three years and had yet to make it to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yesterday was the day, and I’m so glad we waited.

Our impetus for going was the Michael Jackson exhibit, for Seth. And yes, he got to see Michael’s glove. His red jacket for Thriller. A couple more outfits. One of his Grammy awards.

The museum is expensive. It cost about sixty bucks for us to get in, and Seth was free. Plus, they don’t allow cameras! We took the above photos in the lobby, but they wanted you to check your camera at the entrance (hell to the no…I respect your rule but I ain’t givin’ you my camera. She spent her time in HT’s pocket). There was a lot to see, and if you are a Rock & Roll connoisseur, maybe it is worth it. I picture it being really meaningful if you work in a record store, or in the music industry. I liked seeing Stephen Tyler’s microphone stand with the scarves up close. I liked seeing the dresses Stevie Nicks had worn. Some of Mick Jaggar’s clothes. The Elvis stuff. I mean, it was interesting, but not all that.

Then we went to see the U23D movie.

And it was worth the cost of admission. It was phenomenal. This isn’t like any old 3D movie. The technology was unbelievable. I’ve seen U2 in concert and this was better. It was like being two feet away from the band. You could see the hairs on The Edge’s arm. Bono practically touched my face at one point. He was singing to me. He wanted to wipe my tears away. My tears. It was freaking amazing.

I’d been neglecting U2. Taking them for granted.

Never again.

Up this close,you could really witness the relationship between the band members. The four of them are soul mates. The love between them, palpable. No question Bono is the star of the band, but he relies on the others, he draws energy from them. He is so demonstrative, constantly touching them, leaning on them. There is great love and respect between them. They are a powerful presence and their message is so positive and good.

And the crowd! This concert took place in Argentina, and the crowd was one big organism.


Such love in that audience.

I’m not ashamed to admit I was ecstatic during this movie. Sitting there with my girl on one side, my boy on the other,HT on the other side of him. My girl at a U2 concert! Loving it! She was in it. Not overwhelmed at all. And I would know because she held my hand the whole time and if she’s scared she squeezes it. Seth sang along. Who knew he knew the words? How cool are we? The O’Neils at a U2 concert on a Friday afternoon.

Okay, yes it was a movie. But still!

If you get the chance to see U23D, do. You’ve never seen anything like it.

If you weren’t a U2 fan already, you will be.


This is Jan C. Snow, aka Jancy. She’s a writer, an artist, a musician, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. She is one of the MVP’s in Windsong, Cleveland’s Feminist chorus.

Jan knows all the fun, (and often free) things to do in Cleveland.

For instance, a couple of months back, we enjoyed a Wednesday lunchtime performance of the GroundWorks Dance Theater at Trinity Cathedral.

Last week she was with us at Orchid Mania at the Botanical Gardens, free if you have a season pass, which we do.

She recently went on vacation to Florida and Peurto Rico, and provided us her itinerary, so we could make a homeschool thing of it. We learned about the Burmese Python problem in the Florida Everglades, and the bio-luminescent waters of Puerto Rico, among other things.

She is well traveled and gave us a bunch of coins from all around the world to use as inspiration for our homeschool endeavors. The kids have especially enjoyed learning about the Maori people of New Zealand.

Jan is a very sensitive person herself and she really “gets” Riley. Jan also refuses to sit next to me at chorus if I have on scented lotion, if I’m chewing Juicy Fruit gum, or if there is too much cat hair on my clothes. She has perfect pitch and thinks nothing of leaning over to correct you if you are off your note. Prior to Riley, this might have offended me. Now, I love Jan all the more for it. Jan “gets” Riley. I “get” Jan. We’re all good. And really, I need to know when I’m not on my note.

Jan is the one who wrote the song I mentioned in this post, about giving yourself permission to set some things down when you are carrying more than you can handle.

She also wrote one of my very favorite songs Windsong performs, called Away Ye Merry Lassies. Give it a listen. It is so much fun to sing. And yes, that’s Jan, playing the dulcimer on that track.

She recently taught Riley how to knit. After her first lesson, as we were leaving, Riley stood on Jan’s front porch and said,

“Jan, you really inspire me.”

Yes, Riley. That about sums it up.

July 4th

This morning, the kids took part in the Fourth of July bike parade on our block.

Much care was taken to decorate the scooters in red white & blue streamers, USA signs, and patriotic elephants.

Riley had her outfit planned for weeks, down to the last detail.


From the parade we hopped on the train and went directly to the baseball game.

It was Hot Toddy’s Father’s Day present from the three of us. Sports make him happy.

Riley surprised us again, by being heartily into the game. “Go Tribe!” she shouted.   

While I’m not really into sports, I’ll be a sport and go to a game now and again. My brain can’t possibly follow it. It’s like I’m genetically against sports, but I do have fun. You’d be amazed at all the things I can do and think about to pass the time. Taking pictures for instance. 

 Riley brought Alvin along, of course.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jonathon Livingston Baseball.

A quiz is in order for the next one, because I don’t know the answer. Is the man in the following picture:

A. P. Diddy

B. Usher

C. Some other beer drinking pop star I’ve not heard of

Help me out here. I don’t get out much and only watch things we TIVO.  TIVO, you are dreamy, BTW. I love you with all my heart and soul. Because of you, I never have to watch a commercial again. Except subliminal ones.

Speaking of dreamy, hello little fella.

The Indians lost, but I think HT had fun (Psst. he’s a Yankee fan).

He had to work the past two years on July 4th. It is so nice he has today off! We’re home now taking a breather. Fireworks tonight. Happy Independence Day!