Willow actually DOES choose the winner of last week's caption contest, as you can see for yourself ...

And our definitive image of Thanksgiving this year is also brought to us by our dear daughter. Caption this one and Willow will choose the winner by next Monday -- who will receive a brand-new DVD of the movie "Elf" with Will Ferrell. You're really going to have to work hard to outdo your efforts of last week, but I know you can do it!


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"I've always been a 'glass half-full' kind of guy."

Hey, No Fair!

I saw mine go flying across the room! There was no way it could get selected!

LOL--that was pretty funny actually! Good job Willow!

Not enough coffee to be funny but that's never stopped me from trying...

"After half a glass, Jack decided to abandon his beanstalk pursuits and set up camp near the merlot."

PS, your clean house in the background all decorated for Christmas makes me want to grab a glass myself! I need a fire lit under me. Or I need to just step away from the computer. Or both. Anyway, yours looks great!

Total 3 comments


There are a few things I try to do every day: bathe, feed my children, and read Big Daddy's blog. BigDaddyAutism writes about life with the Big Daddy family, which includes himself, Mrs. Big Daddy, his son, Griffin -- who happens to be autistic -- and Griffin's Lil' Sis. Not only does each wonderful post highlight the ups and downs of parenting on the spectrum, but he makes me laugh coffee out of my nose at least five times a week. I've mentioned to BD before that his heartwarming and hilarious stories about Griffin, who's currently thriving in middle school, sometimes make me think (and hope) I'm getting a glimpse of my Billy's future.

Billy has only just started asking questions. Today's guest post from Big Daddy is a perfect example of what I can imagine in our future ...


When Amanda asked me to guest post on her blog, my first thought was that there must be some sort of mistake. She must've meant to e-mail Allie Brosh from "Hyperbole and a Half" with her 4 million visitors a month. Once I confirmed that it was actually Big Daddy, with my 6 semi-loyal (and completely deranged) readers that Amanda was looking for, I was honored. And horrified. And hungry. (I'm always hungry)

It's okay for me to spend 20 minutes banging out some moderately funny story about my 13 year old autistic son for my own blog. But I needed to present something a little more, how shall I put it, "good" for Amanda's blog. So I decided to pull out a post I am particularly proud of which went up on my blog on its second or third day in existence. It is a nice glimpse into how I think my son's mind works and, back then I actually put some time and effort into my posts. Besides, my mother-in-law was my only visitor in those days, so this post is like brand spanking new to everyone in the world except Big Nana and myself. So, please enjoy .....


This is a food item that deserves repeated conversation!

Mexican Pizza

Occasionally, Griffin, out of nowhere, will just blurt out selections from a school lunch menu he may have been studying weeks earlier. It is not unusual for us to be driving, having a conversation which does not involve him, and hear Griffin yell, “Mexican Pizza!” or "Chicken Sandwich!" from the backseat.

It’s not like he wanted Mexican Pizza or a Chicken Sandwich for lunch, nor was it remotely related to what we were talking about - he just felt the need to say it. Like a living, breathing pop-up ad, he does this frequently with all sorts of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. I bet Griffin’s spontaneity, brevity, and randomness would make him hugely successful on Twitter.

Mrs. Big Daddy and I often wonder what’s going on inside Griffin's head. She sometimes describes her theory using the analogy of an old style office Rolodex. The cards inside his mind are furiously spinning around and around. Occasionally the Rolodex stops for an instant and Griffin will blurt out whatever thought is on the selected card. Then the Rolodex starts to spin again.

I think of the bouncing balls the State Lottery uses to pick the Lotto numbers on Saturday nights. All the ping pong balls bounce around in the air chamber. One finally pops out and that’s Griffin’s thought for the moment.

Either way, it’s pretty hectic in there.

Tonight, on the way to dinner, Griffin got me to join in on this madness. Our conversation went like this.

Griffin: "Daddy, I ask you a question?"

Me: "Sure Griff."

Griffin: "Say 'Fake'."

Me: "Fake."

Griffin: "Why you say 'Fake', Daddy?"

Me: "Argh."

Griffin: "Why you say 'Argh', Daddy?"

I think this exchange sums up our life with Griffin pretty well.

Reader Comments

I like the rolodex and the lottery ball imagery...w my son I always say he has no internal dialogue--it's all verbal and right out there where we can all hear...and 9 times out of 10 it has nothing at all to do with anything going on at the moment...although he is really good an portraying dialogue, any dialogue, that he has heard in any form or another.

OOHHHHH! ok...

I'm such a dork! lol I just was really confused since I was out of the loop! :)


Really funny post! But the comments were even FUNNIER!


Thanks to Lynn, now every time someone searches Google for "Big Daddy Sucks Donkey Balls" they are going to wind up here. I'm gonna go give it try now. (With the Safe Search Settings on)

Actually, it's a parody

Lynn is riffing on a jerk who pooed in the comments thread of her guest post on Big Daddy's blog. No worries.

Sounds familiar

This is probably a pretty good analogy! =) My son pulls out a lot of randomness too! lol But he's getting a bit better about it too. Ok, so I don't get sarcasm really well, and I'm wondering if the comment from lynn was sarcasm? Because........ if not, then that comment offends me. =) Seriously, off crying in a corner? Really? Please tell me it's sarcasm? yes?


Okay, I have to know if Griffin starts tweeting. That will be enough to make me sign up! @Lynn, I thought you were Ann for a minute. =)

Big Daddy Sucks Donkey Balls

I am offended that you are using your son's disability as entertainment. Aren't you supposed to be off in a corner crying?

Total 15 comments


This masterpiece is available as a T-shirt, wall clock or hand puppet for a small fee.

It's weird the things that stick out in your memory. I can remember one Thanksgiving while I was still in elementary school when the teacher had given us the assignment to take each letter in the word “Thanksgiving” and come up with one thing for which we were thankful starting with that letter.

I was going like gangbusters till I got to “V.” I couldn't think of a single thing. “V?!” What is there to be thankful for that starts with a “V?” I didn't care anything about the violin, was completely ambivalent about the state of Virginia and verbs.

I was so proud of myself when I finally came up with “vision” that I turned to the girl next to me to show off. Her “V” word was “Very Happy.”

That didn't even make sense. How could you be thankful for “very happy?” I can remember trying to explain to her how that didn't make sense ...

And 30-plus years later it's still bothering me, because I am THAT much of a nerd. A nerd who LOVES the holidays. I love getting turkey crafts sent home in the kids backpacks and going to parties where the kids wear slightly racist Indian headdresses and we celebrate the fact that we left England for a better life! (That last bit is a little in-joke between me and the hubby. He calls Thanksgiving “That time of year when you Yanks celebrate giving smallpox to the natives, right?”)

I have so much to be thankful for this week, this year, and I'm going to do it (literally) old school-style:

T is for toilet-training! We're 90 percent there! I can't get any more specific without spoiling your Thanksgiving dinner.

H is for hair cuts. My beautiful little man finally got one from the nicest, most patient beautician at a Supercuts. Her name was Mary. Now that we've started reading Christmas stories, every time the Nativity comes up, Billy points out “Baby Jesus and Joseph and Mary ... Mary cuts your hair.”

A is for autism. It's always there; a part of every holiday, for better or worse.

N is for Nan, as her grandkids call my mom. She has a close relationship with all her grandchildren, and particularly with Billy. There are so many times that she can get through to him when no one else can. He's made so many breakthroughs in her company. It just goes to show that sometimes love is the best therapy.

K is for Kindermusik! I discovered both Billy and Willow's love and talent for music in this special class, and we'll miss it after this semester when our wonderful Ms. Jaci moves on to other musical opportunities. So, Jaci, next semester we're cool to just drop them off at your house on Saturday mornings, right?

S is for Sisters: Mine is hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year! Thank goodness, because my house currently looks like we keep a herd of goats in the living room. “S” is also for Willow's favorite new way of describing herself: “I saucy!” she tells us regularly.

G is for gymnastics. Billy rules the school on the balance beam. This from the kid who literally falls out of his chair at the dinner table 16 times before he can finish a cheese sandwich.

I is for “I,” a pronoun that Billy has started occasionally using. It's still a rare occurrence, and you're still likely to hear him scream, “You don't need a poo-poo!” at the top of his lungs, much to the alarm of passersby.

V is for vegetables, which thanks to ABA therapy, we are occasionally managing to get our son to swallow. With great effort. And bribery. Um, I mean reinforcers.

I is for Immodium and Immodium for Kids, without which our family wouldn't have made it through the last week. (Am I oversharing again?)

N is for neurotypical. I may write more about Billy, because this is an autism blog. But I thank God every day for both my kids and the fact that the second one has been so easy ... which probably means, of course, that on her 16th birthday she's going to get her eyelids pierced and elope with a motorcycle gang. Eh, it's still been worth it.

G is for gang. HA! Just kidding. Actually, I'll go with that – my gang. You know who you are. I'm related to some of you. Some of you I've adopted because you listen to me whine so regularly that you're entitled to be the beneficiary on something. Some of you I've never actually met, officially, face-to-face, but I talk about you to the rest of the gang so frequently that we've decided to give you a jacket and let you in on the secret handshake. To all of you: Thank you.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Reader Comments

T is for...

T is for Thank God it's over. I know that makes as much sense as very happy but I hope toucan forgive me. It's all I've got.

N is for Nougat

I tried to do this exercise based on a prompt from my friend Sherri's blog, but when I could only come up with "nougat" for the first N, I knew that I had to throw in the towel.

A VERY Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Just a quick comment between calories. I'm pretty sure I'm well on my way to 4,000 for the day, calories that is. Love you post, again. You'll have to write a cr@ppy one soon so I can say something mean... but not today, on Thanksgiving. You all have a lovely day. We flew to NY to celebrate with my wife's family. It's very Norman Rockwell here. Talk to you later.

--Michael (aka:

p.s. My daughter did Kindermusik since she was a tiny girl. Oh, and the eye piercing comment made me laugh... LOL as they say online.

"Eyelid-piercing"...ouch! Maybe she'll go for something less disturbing, like purple hair!

Fun list, Amanda...I hope you guys have an amazing Thanksgiving!


Big Daddy stole my comment.

But, it is good to know that somewhere out there, someone's representing my praenomen well. (Can you guess what my new word of the week is?)

LOL today my oldest, Corbin (8) , told me he was so thankful for the Pilgrims because without them we wouldn't have Thanksgiving- I quickly cut him to the core and asked shouldn't you be thankful for the Native Americans...his response, "You mean the Indians?"

Not So Bad

My baby sister got an eyelid piercing and eloped with a biker gang. It's not so bad. We see her every now and again on America's Most Wanted.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

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Ok, I'm taking care of pukey kids today, so I leave you with the photo below. Give me your best caption ideas, and the winner (chosen by Willow) will win a brand-new (I promise, it hasn't been watched even once by my kids) special edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon, not the one with Jim Carey) still in its shrink wrap.

This is a shot of me and Willow from Billy's Thanksgiving lunch at school. And yes, that is a giant trash can right next to our table.


Just post your caption ideas below, and Willow will choose the winner by Monday. (Disclaimer: Baby cannot read and may be assisted by mother.)

Reader Comments


Think she spotted the trashcan and had a vision of the days ahead? Your poor family. I hope you are all back to healthy and felt great for Thanksgiving!

"We already did the smiling shot - now's the silly face one. Right?"

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.


Willow the vampire, as she moves in on your neck.................

I need to driiiiiiiink!

Don't enter me in the comp, I couldn't view the DVD anyway as different regions so am just joining in for fun:) Jen

Remove this silly hat and nobody gets hurt.

Or -
"So .... hungry.... Must ... eat .... mommy's ... hand."
"You won't be smiling after I swallow your pinkie."
"Vertigo. All those colors in your blouse are giving me vertigo. Gonna hurl. Where's the trash can?"

(Sorry about that last one. It really is a pretty blouse. I swear.)

This One Has a Snowball's Chance in ......

Really, mommy! I DO NOT need the Heimlich maneuver!

Turkey? Where's the Beef?!


(prepare for a lion-from-Wizard-of-Oz reference:) "If I...were king...of the forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrest!"

Sorry your kids are illin'. It's tough to watch little ones fight the yuckies--especially when you're not feeling so great yourself. I hope you're all on the mend so you can enjoy a happy and turkey-filled Thanksgiving!

Total 10 comments

I got sick again on Friday. The same hurl-inating virus that I had exactly three weeks ago. No one else in my family got sick (knocking heavily on wood). Just me. Twice in a month.


Amanda, do you sleep in a sewer, you ask?

Do you allow 19th century ladies to dump chamber pots in your front yard?

Do you keep pet rats?

No, worse.

I bite my nails.

It's a horrible, disgusting habit that I've had all my life and I HAVE to stop.

At multiple other periods in my life, I've tried to stop because of vanity. I wanted beautiful nails like I saw on other women – like my mom and sister had, for instance – and all my friends.

Now I want to break this habit because I'm terrified of picking up some super-virus that's going to wipe out my neighborhood – or at least affect my whole family. The rest of the neighborhood is on their own.

If you're not a nail-biter, then you probably think, “Just stop it.” The rational side of my brain tells the compulsive side the same message (is the compulsion on a side? I don't know...)

But the nibbling isn't restricted to just the nervous habit of biting my nails. I also chew on my shirt collars, if I'm wearing one, without realizing it.

I was at lunch with my cousin one day and she saw me doing that and smiled. “I didn't know you did that,” she said. “Did you know our granddaddy used to do that?" My cousin said that our grandmother used to get aggravated with him because all his shirt collars were chewed.

That's kinda weird, I thought. Something that I believed was my own nervous habit could actually be genetic. I'm always intrigued by the nature/nurture question, particularly since I've been the mother to an autistic child.

After I got home, out of curiosity, I Googled “chewing shirt collars” and guess what the top search results were? At least the first five were related to autism.

Now I'm not claiming to be autistic. And I'm certainly not claiming that my grandfather was. But having had an autistic child has given me a new filter through which to view myself and the rest of the world, and I've become more convinced than ever that “normal” doesn't exist – or at the very least, it's a spectrum too.

We all have our quirks. Thank GOD. I don't want to live in a world where there's nothing surprising to discover about the people around me, where everyone thinks in exactly the same way. What would be the point?

But there's really no upside to nail-biting. This quirk does not make me more interesting or useful to society. It makes me sick.

Breaking the collar-chewing habit is as easy as not wearing shirts with collars. But nail-biting is proving more difficult...

Some things I've tried:

  • Negative reinforcement
    One website suggested I put a rubber band on my wrist and snap it every time I caught myself biting my nails. You might guess where this is heading: I chewed on the rubber band.
  • No Bite Polish
    Makes your nails smell like a corpse burning on a tire fire full of baby diapers covered in shrimp. Still didn't work.
  • Fake nails
    These drove me so crazy that I ended up biting them all off.
  • Having Dave tell me every time he caught me biting my nails.
    Made me hate Dave. Decided marriage was more important than nails.

OK, so I'm at a loss. I'm back to, “Just stop doing it.” Which will work for a few days. I will try to remind myself how horrible it is to spend my weekends hugging the toilet, and more importantly, how horrible it is to have sick kids.

And then on Friday, Billy's ABA therapist comes to the house, and I'm going to ask her opinion.

Any other ideas?

Reader Comments

Me Too!

I am a huge nail bitter. I have almost no nails on my thumbs. It has been the biggest habit of mine since I was 5. My big thing is that I learned it from my dad and am so worried my kids will learn it from me. I do not want them to have this horrible disgusting habit too! Let me know how you are doing so I can join you!

Now the kids have the bug!!

I've received some really interesting ideas since posting this ... some stuff I can really use.

@Brenda: Keeping my hands busy DOES work. Yesterday I spent the afternoon in gardening gloves -- and I even gardened *some* of that time :-) I'm thinking, though, of just wearing the gloves for a while ...

@Jeni: I have been carrying my hand sanitizer around with me -- thanks for the suggestion!

@Lynn: Yes, that does make me feel better. I'm fully prepared for someone to call me a child abuser now that my nail biting has brought stomach flu to my kids.

@LS: Thanks for the reminder about my flu shot! Willow has had one, but haven't taken Billy yet. After last year's flu season, though, I have every intention of doing so.

@BigDaddy: Hadn't considered the smack option. Not ruling it out ...

@Trish: LS is my sister, and she was reminding me about the flu shot, because she knows that I decided to get everyone inoculated this year. I have done my research -- a LOT of it -- and my family gets their vaccinations, though that is a very controversial subject and I respect everyone's right to make that decision for themselves. The sugar thing is an interesting idea ... I certainly consume enough of it!

@Maura: Sweet Ollie -- I was a nailbiter that young too. I hadn't considered acupuncture before -- though I've heard great things about it from people who used it for pain relief. I didn't even know that it was used to treat habitual things like smoking and nailbiting. My journeys to nail-biting relief may have to be a continuing blog segment as I test some of these options out ...

@Cheryl: I *LOVE* the phrase "kissed by the autism spectrum." If I really spilled all the beans about my obsessive counting of things and my weird little routines, you'd be convinced (as I am) that the spectrum gave me a big, wet, sloppy one. I may write more about that later, once I get some feedback from family members about whether some of these things count as too much "oversharing." Part of my spectrum-y-ness is that I don't always know :-)

@Michelle: AAaaahhh! You poor thing! Thanks for giving me the heads up that hand-chewing is probably not a preferable alternative.

@Jen: When I have gum, I chew the hell out of it. Like I go through the whole pack as fast as I humanly can, chewing three pieces at a time. I LOVE LVOE LOVE gum!! If I could just figure out how to keep a steady supply ...

@Arby: Add hypnosis to my list of options to blog about after I try them!

@Katie: Welcome! Glad you could laugh at my pain :-) Just kidding ... what use is mild daily annoyance if we can't laugh at it, right? I agree with you about compulsion -- it really does seem to take over the whole brain. Look forward to laughing about OCD on your blog -- heading over there now...

OMG, this post made me laugh out loud! (That's LOL for you younger kids.) I love the question, "is the compulsion on a side?" Too funny. No, I think compulsion takes over, kind of like the referee or umpire, and yet it has no sense of fairness whatsoever! And the idea of having your nails smell like... whatever you described (which was hilarious) reminds me of treatments that are out there that allegedly prevent cats from spraying or clawing. For me, something that tasted like cilantro would do the trick. I'd be off that nail in a nanosecond. I recently posted a Monday rerun entitled "Laughing at OCD." You might enjoy it! In the meantime, better believe it, I'll be back! Came here from the SITS comment string.


Have you tried hypnosis? It helped an uncle stop smoking.

Put on your behaviorist hat

Have you tried taking up smoking?

In all seriousness, my son is a serious chewer. My furniture has bite marks on it. All his books are chewed up. If he isn't wearing his chewy around his next, he is chewing on his shirt. Or his hands. I've spoken with our OT about this extensively, and there isn't really much you can do about the chewing itself. But, you can redirect to appropriate things - chewy foods, his chewie tubes. As he gets older, gum is an option. She points out that we all have our sensory needs.

So my point is, you might just need to find more appropriate things to chew on.

I tried kicking the nail biting habit years ago. I was successful at not biting my nails, but now I chew on my fingers. So now, my hands look worst than ever because I have calluses where I bite them. I also chew on my shirt collars and both my kids are nail biters too. Lord help us.

Nasty Habits

I do think that everyone has their bad habits. But, I personally believe I've been kissed by the autism spectrum just a bit. Maybe you have also? My daughter likes to chew on her hair (ew) and on the end of her sleeves. Sometimes she goes for her collar also.

I also think the stress of raising a child on the spectrum brings out our bad habits more too!


Ok, this may sound strange, but have you tried acupuncture? My 2-packs a day for 30 years aunt used it to quit smoking and she swears by it. Who knows?

If you DO find something that works, please let me know. I'm afraid my Ollie might start in his fingers once the nails are gone.

Total 15 comments

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