Category Archives: Personal

The Blessing of 93 Years

This week we lost the matriarch of my husband’s family, his Mammaw. We’re all sad, but we also feel some relief that she’s at peace. This weekend we’ll travel to Virginia to honor and celebrate her life. It was only a few years ago that we all gathered for a party on Mammaw’s ninetieth birthday. She allowed me to interview her for that occassion and I wrote a post for this blog. I ‘d like to share it again for all of you, to honor Mammaw. I feel blessed to have known her.

Ninety Years Country Strong


The year 1923 was not short on exciting events.  The first transcontinental airmail service had begun.  Time magazine published its first issue.  Firestone first put inflatable tires into production.  The US Attorney General actually stated that it was legal for woman to wear trousers – anywhere (yes you read that right).  Yankee Stadium first opened (although Fenway had it beat by eleven years).  The first ever country music hit was recorded.  Vice President Calvin Coolidge became president, after the death of President Harding.  The first nonstop transcontinental US air flight was successfully completed.  Lou Gehrig hit his first Major League home run.  Disney Cartoon Studios was formed.  Ethyl gasoline was first marketed to the public.  The traffic light was invented.  Radio waves were transmitted for the first time, which lead to the first presidential address made by radio.  It was also the year that brought the world Bob Barker, Peter Lawford, Charlton Heston, Estelle Getty, Ann Miller, Ted Knight, Aaron Spelling, Allan Sheppard, Rocky Marciano, Roy Lichtenstein, Hank Williams, Jean Stapleton, Ed McMahon and Margaret Elizabeth McConnell Garrett. Continue reading The Blessing of 93 Years

Currently & Have I Lost My Writing Mojo?

It’s no secret that I haven’t produced much original material on my blog lately. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to – I often have essays and ideas swirling around in my head. They just never seem to make it to my fingertips. I fear that I’ve seriously lost my writing mojo. The first week of summer break, I attempted to write over at Road Warrior Momma, but my heart just wasn’t in it. For one thing, the kids were pretty well behaved on our trip, so I didn’t have any funny stories to tell. Also, the mini-road trip was more like a family/class reunion. With the exception of Mystic, Connecticut, all places we stopped were cities that we’d been to many times before and I didn’t know how to spin it for my readers. I don’t know why, but I’ve not feel compelled – at all – to share my words. Continue reading Currently & Have I Lost My Writing Mojo?

Autism Angel: Mary Hendricks

Once upon a time, I was a very stressed-out and scared mom. That was last week – no, I’m just kidding. I’m talking about my own personal annus horribilis. The year was 2003. We’d just received our autism diagnosis. My husband was working on a long-term assignment out of state (Kentucky). He was only able to come home every other weekend. We sold our first home and moved out of state to Maryland. I had knee surgery. And my father died. All this happened in a period of five months – I kid you not. I was a mess.

As only someone who’s had a child diagnosed with autism may know, after the shock wears off and the anti-depressants kick in, you go into search and destroy mode. I spent months doing research on the internet, calling parents and experts, going to evaluation and therapy appointments, and purging our house of casein and gluten. I was determined to do any and everything to help my son.

I found a program for Barrett that I loved at Emory University, but couldn’t afford the tuition (or the two hour round trip drive, twice a day). Then I discovered a public school system with the very same program – in Howard County Maryland, where my husband grew. When the universe sends you a message like that, you listen.

My first contact in Maryland was Mary Hendricks, who at the time was a resource teacher for early intervention services. She changed my life. We spoke on the phone many times and I cried so much that if I’d been her, I would have stopped taking my calls. I’d been looking at programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia. I didn’t know what to do, and confessed as much. I’ll never forget what Mary said to me: “Come on up, I know we can help you and your son.” And you know what? She was right.

Mary is kind, loving, and brilliant. She has a gift and it’s evident every time she interacts with a special needs child. She’s a ray of sunshine and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a smile on her face. She has had helped hundreds (maybe thousands?) of families in her thirty plus years teaching. Her enormous capacity for empathy helped me when I was in a very dark place. I was so stricken with grief during my very first IEP meeting that I cried through half of it. Rich was still in Kentucky at the time and I was all alone in a new place. She walked me out to my car and gave me a hug – a really good one. It’s a memory that has never gone away.

Mary is full of innovative ideas and a fantastic resource for anything related to special education. Her son Sean was in high school when I met and hired him to hang out with the boys and help them interact with each other. I was in no condition to engage in floor time, and then came baby Audrey, so I really needed his help! Sean is now married and a speech therapist in Baltimore. Oh time!

And I will forever be grateful to Mary. I’m honored to introduce you to this Autism Angel (although her expertise with special needs goes beyond autism!):

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On one of our road trips, Mary drove down to Annapolis to meet us for lunch, so she could see the kids! Continue reading Autism Angel: Mary Hendricks

Dear Holiday Allie: Chill-lax!

A few nights ago, the husband hesitantly asked me when I was going to find my Christmas spirit. I didn’t even get mad at him – because he’s right. I don’t have the spirit. I’ve been having a really tough time this holiday season. I don’t know why. I keep blaming it on my holiday to-do list, but I certainly don’t have any more to do than other moms. And I don’t work full-time, so I should be somewhat ahead of the game. I ordered my Christmas cards in OCTOBER – and yet I was up late last night writing out the last bunch. Such poor time management. I bought all the ingredients for baking cookies, and then lost interest and turned the reigns over to Audie (although I still got stuck with clean-up duty). It took me four days to decorate the tree, even though the kids really helped this year. I’m done Christmas shopping, but only because I have no desire to buy more presents. They’ll get what they get and they’ll like it! Of course I haven’t wrapped one present for my family yet – and I LOVE wrapping presents. R just came into my office and shook his head at the pile of bags and boxes commenting, “You’re going to be all stressed out on Christmas Eve, aren’t you?” Oh, I hope not. I need to shake to Grinch off. Continue reading Dear Holiday Allie: Chill-lax!