Samantha school progress

I am happy to report that Samantha’s morning teacher and I are communicating more often now (and I didn’t even have to contact the social worker).  Sam came home without her mittens, and she happened to still be at the school (and the mittens were still in Sam’s cubby), and we were able to get a nice chat in about everything (or as nice as could be, given how socially awkward I am when it comes to talking on the phone). She has a new communication notebook, and it’s helped a lot.

In other news, Samantha is wearing panties almost all of the time, so potty training may be close to complete.  We had a goal of her fifth birthday, so even with the autism, we are making progress.  On the bad side, she isn’t good about telling me when she needs to go, but I’ve given her free access to the potty, and she’s been really good about using it and staying dry.

Unfortunately, Samantha has used her newfound free access to all of the house to figure out how to open the exterior doors and open interior doors that she shouldn’t open, so we’ve had to retrieve the cats from the basement more than once and retrieve her from the great outdoors.  I thought doorknob covers were past us, but since she doesn’t seem to get the danger in messing with those doors, I’ve ordered some more.

Fortunately, thanks to Swagbucks giving me Amazon gift cards in exchange for the bucks  I’ve earned from using their search engine, I was able to get the covers I wanted for free.  If you would like to join Swagbucks, you can go to and it will tell them that I sent you.  🙂

I’m really proud of the progress that Samantha has made so far.  I don’t know if parents of neurotypical children Samantha’s age get this proud over simple things like writing things that resemble letters, staying dry, or even hearing their child say, “Mama,” but I’m not ashamed of my enthusiasm over the little things.


Well, it’s about time you got back here!

It’s been a ridiculously long time since my last blog.

So, what have I been doing?

I’ve had to adjust to a move back to Kirksville from Columbia. Interestingly enough, the landlord who manages this property also manages the first property I called home when I moved up to Kirksville back in 2002.  We haven’t got much in the way of furniture or shelving, so that makes keeping things tidy and organized a challenge, but we make do.

Unfortunately, we had a bad situation with our housemate, and the landlord had to intervene and move him to another property.  He evidently lied to my boyfriend about me and my daughter being welcome here, and when we arrived, he went out of his way to make us feel unwelcome.  He lives elsewhere now.

We also got a puppy for Samantha.  He was an adorable black lab mix named Buddha, and he was a very sweet, mellow pup.  Unfortunately, that pup had Parvo, and I had the horror of witnessing it taking his life, helpless to do anything to ease his suffering, other than soothing him as best I could.  We only had him for five days, but we loved him as much as we could in that short time.  I still love dogs, but every time I see a black dog, regardless of the age, I feel a little pang in my heart.  It’s going to take me a while to get past that.

Two days after Buddha died, a dear friend of mine, Hunter, lost his battle with end-stage lung cancer.  He left behind his children, who had lost their mother a few years prior to a different cancer.  His picture pops up on Facebook every once in a while, and when it does, I cry all over again.  He was only 46, and he had quit smoking, but it was too little, too late by the time he got his diagnosis.  He fought bravely and aggressively, but in the end, the cancer was just too strong.

On February 22, shortly after midnight, my Uncle Bill, who had overcome stage four throat cancer, died of organ failure.  Unfortunately, prior to that, my sister and I had a falling out with Aunt Pam, my mother’s sister and Bill’s wife, because of someone my sister and I had previously disowned over something pretty close to unforgivable.  She had forgiven him and still considered him family; we had forgiven him and forgotten him, disowning him and denying his existence as a blood relative–forgiveness is one thing, but being family is another.  (If you knew what he had done, you would understand why my sister and I disowned him.)  We’re both here for her, though, regardless of whether we’ll ever see eye-to-eye about things.

And yes, my computer is up and running again.  The problem was my hard drive.  Fortunately, we were able to back up the bulk of the files I wanted to keep before the hard drive decided to move on to its next life as a too-light paperweight.  For my next trick, I need to scrape together enough money to get a replacement keyboard for my laptop.  I’m relegated to using a USB keyboard at the moment, and it really cuts down on my ability to be mobile with full use of my laptop.  Alas, money is stupidly tight, so I may have to wait yet another month to get that done.

Should you feel the need to get some artwork and/or contribute to my ability to pay my bills, I have a CafePress store at

In other news, Samantha is going to school full-time Monday-Thursday and a half-day on Friday.  Her afternoon teacher has been good about staying in touch with me, but her morning teacher hasn’t been, and that bothers me.  Talking to the school social worker is on my to-do list, because I need everybody to be on the same page regarding Sam’s education and progress.

Speaking of school, I’ve been taking some free courses through

I’ve also been spending some of my time playing Wurm.  I fell in with a great community called the Serendipity Alliance, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to help shape the world.  If only real life was so easy!

I have several ideas that I would love to share, but putting them into words is just evading me.  Give me time, though, and I’ll show you what I’ve been dreaming up!



The Real Power of Positive Thinking, Law of Attraction, Etc.

I’m not sure how long this is going to be, and I may tweak it later, but I wanted to write this down to give some encouragement to folks who may be looking at positive thinking, the law of attraction, and all of those other concepts that try to get people to use faith and belief and optimism to move toward their goals.

None of the genuine programs want you to stop with just thinking.  Wishing really hard isn’t going to get you what you want.  Positive thinking isn’t going to make whatever you want land in your lap.

What it will do, however, is open your mind up to possibilities you may have never seriously considered, if you considered them at all.  When you think positively and expect good things to come into your life (and it’s not enough to say it–you have to genuinely believe that good things are coming), your subconscious will start keeping a lookout for those good things or paths to those good things.

And what happens when those ideas start to appear and those pathways start to open up?  You have to take action, of course.  It’s not enough to want and wish.  You have to seize the opportunities as they come, not wait for them to fall in your lap.  Sometimes they will, because life is full of surprises and sometimes you start out in a good position full of opportunities, but 99.9% of the time, you have to take action.


Unhappy Holidays–Tragedy Stalks Friends of Friends

This has been a rough holiday break for some friends of friends of mine.  While we were packing up for the big move and unwrapping Christmas presents, one of my boyfriend’s friends/coworkers lost his father on Christmas.  One of my sister Rachel’s coworkers lost her father on Christmas Eve.

And if that wasn’t enough, a friend of a friend lost her husband suddenly right after the new year started.  He lost his job on December 10, and they were struggling mightily financially.  They were both very, very worried about how to make ends meet and depressed as heck about their situation.

Here’s the link to the Go Fund Me for the lady who lost her husband, Rundes Nettes:

Please help if you can.  If you can donate, great!  If not, please share this with your friends.  If we can raise over $1 million for a bullied bus aide, surely we can raise $6k for a widow who can’t keep her home.


Delay, Delay, Delay

I haven’t written in a while, but there have been some big things happening in our lives.

1. I won NaNoWri Mo.  “Gray Street” is by no means finished, but I passed the 50000 word goal with a day to spare, and I find the story interesting enough to want to try and sell it.

2. My laptop died.  It will not start beyond the first screen.  I can access the bios and all, but I can’t get into Windows.  We are working on repairing it, and I am hoping and praying that we can access the data on its hard drive.  I have tons of work on there that I DO NOT want to lose and I’m not sure if I’ve backed up anywhere.

3. We moved.  We moved from Columbia, Missouri, to Kirksville, Missouri.  I miss Sam’s teachers and bus driver, and I miss my family, but I don’t miss being isolated, lacking space to work or play, or a lack of safe sidewalks between here and the grocery store or here and the town square.  There are lots of stores within walking distance, and there’s even a gym nearby!  I’m paying a bit more in rent and utilities overall, but it’s worth it for Sam to have the space to play, for us to have room for our books and other things without having a huge amount of clutter, and to be able to watch TV and play games without having to crawl over the bed to make it happen.

Best of all, my boyfriend is right here, and he is taking great delight in having Samantha and me close by.

I’m borrowing my boyfriend’s old laptop right now, but we should have my laptop back up and running soon (I hope!).  When that is done, I’m hoping to write more and show you more of the artwork I have been working on.  I haven’t done much, but I did send Martin Page a watercolor pencil doodle of a rose as a thank you for sending me an autographed picture, an autographed copy of “A Temper of Peace,” and a copy of the explanation of the symbolism in his Celtic Man icon.  (And yes, he liked it, per the kind note he sent me through Vanessa, his assistant.)

I have plans that are starting to come together, one moment at a time, but I have to be patient.

That being said, domestic duties await.  Onward!


NaNoWriMo and New Ideas

Whew!  I’ve finally broken 25000 on my novel in progress for NaNoWriMo.  I’m behind (we had two separate bouts of Sam getting sick and vomiting all over me two weeks in a row), but I’m slowly catching up to my peers.  Alas, I’m going to need to work on cleaning and packing, because my daughter and I are moving upstate after Christmas.

I’ve also had an inspired idea that combines my love of art and stories.  It may not morph into a real job, but at least it’s better than sitting around and wringing my hands in futility over not being able to find a job that meets the needs of my family and me.

And so, onward!



A Question of Competence: Prelude

Let’s define it:



1. the quality of being competent; adequacy; possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity: He hired her because of her competence as an accountant.
2. sufficiency; a sufficient quantity.

3. an income sufficient to furnish the necessities and modest comforts of life.

4. Law . (of a witness, a party to a contract, etc.) legal capacity or qualification based on the meeting of certain minimum requirements of age, soundness of mind, citizenship,or the like.

5. Embryology . the sum total of possible developmental responses of any group of blastemic cells under varied external conditions.

In entries here and there, I intend to address the question of competence in myself and others. We have defined it just now, but competence is more than its definition.


My attempt to earn the funds for a new keyboard

For the past couple of years, I have been earning Amazon gift cards through a program called “SwagBucks.”  Most of what I earn comes from using their search engine, but I also earn SwagBucks through referrals, watching videos, playing games, taking surveys, and using the coupons available at the website (which I haven’t been able to do since my printer gave up the ghost).

Now, in order to save myself the pain and frustration of working with a wonky keyboard, I am trying to earn more SwagBucks than ever so that I can get enough gift cards to pay for the keyboard I want.  If you want to help, that’s awesome–all you need to do is follow my referral link, sign up for SwagBucks, and search and earn SwagBucks towards any number of things that you might like to get that they offer in the SwagStore.

This company is legitimate–as I said, I’ve been earning SwagBucks and redeeming them for gift cards for years now, so you don’t have to worry that I’m not being honest.  You don’t always win SwagBucks with every search, and the process of earning can be something of a pain in the rear unless you are constantly searching or spending your day just earning SwagBucks.

If you want to try it out, here’s my URL:

Have fun, and thank you!

Edit: A very kind and generous friend gave me TWO usb keyboard and THREE usb mice, so I was able to use the giftcards I had earned to buy a cooling pad for my laptop (something that I desperately needed as well!).


Of Broken Keys

I would like to post daily, but my laptop keyboard has three dead keys, and I’m despairing over buying an external one.

Just the same, though, I’m tired of copying and pasting the letters from the dead keys.  It’s old.

And it’s just my luck that inspiration would come when it was most frustrating to express it.


Lady Cygnet: Origins

Sometimes, people ask me about the handle I’ve had for over a decade now.  I usually say it has to do with “The Ugly Duckling,” and leave it at that.

For people who are curious, here’s the story in fairy tale format:

Once upon a time, there was a shy, fat little girl.  She loved to run, jump, and play like other little kids, but unlike other little kids, she took way too long to learn how to ride a bike, whistle, tie her shoes, swing, or do any number of things…and she was still fat, and on top of that, she was different from everybody else, so people called her “weird.”  Her peers rejected her, and she was sad.

Fortunately, she had a cousin who was fat like she was, but this cousin had blossomed into a svelte beauty, and she wasn’t weird at all.  The little girl’s parents often voiced hope that she would lose her “baby fat” and blossom as her cousin did and change into someone universally loved…but it never happened.  The girl just kept on getting fatter and fatter, and while she had some friends, she was still strange, and a social outcast.  She wrote stories, sang, performed in plays, but she was still outside looking in.  She was still “other.”

The fat little girl became a fat woman, and she went to college, got a degree, got married, got a job, got divorced, moved to another state, had a baby, moved back, and lived with her family again.  Meanwhile, she had won awards for her writing, her art, and her photography, but all anyone ever seemed to see was the strange, fat little girl.

While she was in high school, the fat girl felt very unloved and unwelcome.  She came to identify with the Ugly Duckling, and she hoped that one day, she too would become a beautiful and beloved swan.  She took the name Cygnet, because cygnets become swans.  When she went to register it as her email address, though, “cygnet” was already taken, so she chose the name “LadyCygnet,” and it became a part of her, over time.

Now she is a woman almost middle-aged.  She is still fat and weird.  She has accomplished much, but it is hard for her to see it, because she never became thin, beautiful, and beloved. She does have a child, though, and her child is thin, beautiful, beloved…and just as weird as her mother.

But even if her little girl were fat, ugly, or both, the fat, weird woman would love her child just the same, because she doesn’t want her daughter growing up thinking that her worth depends on her weight or her ability to fit in with others.  She wants her daughter to know that she is more than her looks or her social standing.

They are both odd ducks…but they are also swans.

And they lived oddly, yet contently, ever after.