Friday, April 30, 2010

Meet my friend, Bradin

Today is the last day of April. And April is Autism Awareness Month. So, for my final blog of this month, with his mommy's permission, I am going to introduce you all to my very good friend Bradin.

I first met Bradin shortly after he was born. You see, I worked with his mommy and his aunt, at a social service agency, which coincidentally is the same place I started getting involved with Autism Awareness. This agency served many individuals with Autism in many different capacities, and it was my supreme honor to work as a case manager to many many fantastic families who worked very hard for their loved ones who had been given diagnoses on the Autism spectrum. So, at this agency, I met Lindsay. She quickly became one of my closest friends at the agency, and when I left there to work somewhere else, we stayed in touch, and I have had the privileged of getting to watch her beautiful family grow over the years.

This is a picture of Bradin. Isn't he handsome? Over the years, I have watched Bradin grown from a cute little baby, to an inquisitive toddler, and now an adorable little boy. And, he is a wonderful big brother to Alex, Lindsay's other son. Lindsay and her husband Al are wonderful parents, who love their little boys, and consider them gifts from God.

Recently, Lindsay and Al were informed that Bradin has been given a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. Rather than sit back and be sad, they have become warriors, champions for their child. They have already started fighting, tirelessly, to get the services and supports that Bradin will need to help him continue to be successful, and the bright, happy, loving child we all know him to be.

In addition, the family is getting involved with Autism Speaks, and has signed Bradin up for the 2010 Walk Now for Autism Speaks. This is where you have an opportunity to help, not just for Bradin, but for the thousands of kids diagnosed with Autism. You have an opportunity to make a tax deductible charitable contribution to the walk. If you go to this page you can donate to Bradin's team for the walk. Once you make your donation, you will be given a tax number to make it tax deductible.

If you can donate, please consider it. It can help make a huge difference in the lives of these children, I have seen it first hand. And not just these children, but the children to come that will be diagnosed.

If you can not donate, please consider doing something else to raise awareness for Autism. These are not just a collection of diagnoses, these are children, who want to run, and jump, and go to the movies, and play sports, and attend summer camp, and have sleep overs with their friends. How awesome is it that you have the opportunity to help make these things happen for them?

Thank you Lindsay, for being my friend, and letting me be a part of your family's life. And thank you for allowing me to tell the world about my friend, Bradin. I love you guys.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It Made My Day- Best Hubby Ever!

Ok, so we have established I am a book nerd, haven't we? Ok, good.

So, there is this odd book genre out there, that takes works of classic literature, and puts a quirky, horror novel spin on them. I happen to love this genre, as Hubby well knows. He has, in the past, gotten me two books from this genre.

Now, I still have a healthy respect for the original, classic versions of these books, but, come on, these are bloody brilliant, as the Brits would say.

So when, on Tuesday night, I was at my weekly Bible study/Glee night with my girlfriends, Hubby showed up with one of the other lady's husbands after a trip to the book store and announced he had a present for me, I was excited when he showed me this:

So, needless to say, I was stoked. Today, I finally posted a picture of it to my facebook page, and got into a discussion about other books from the genre, and learned about a book called Jane Bites Back, which I must add to my list.

Then, THEN.....Hubby comes home from work, and says, I got you something today. And he hands me this:
SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL, I never even knew this one existed!!!!!! I seriously have the best Hubby ever. He knows I am a nerd, and he loves me for it. In fact, I think he finds it sexy.

And it made my day.

P.S. If any of you know of any other books in this genre, please let me know, I am totally hooked!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cartoons by Hubby- Narcoleptic Danny Kaye

Narcoleptic Danny Kaye
"Dex! Wake up! You're on in five!"

Backstory: I told Hubby that Dex is fussy today. He asked what he was doing. I explained that he was doing this little tap dance deal in his crate like he wanted out, but as soon as I would get him out all he wanted to do was sleep. Hubby then called him a Narcoleptic Danny Kaye. The cartoon soon followed.

Explorations: Rural Valley

Occasionally, I like to go exploring outside of my small town, to other nearby small towns. Yesterday, I did just that. I had an errand that was taking me near Rural Valley, so I decided to explore. Imagine my disappointment to discover my camera battery was dead. Not to be deterred, I got new batteries and headed back out. I was that determined (you will soon learn why).

The drive out to Rural Valley from Kittanning is very pretty this time of year. The weather yesterday was near perfect, clear blue skies. The creek that runs along State Route 85 looked so lovely, my camera does not even do it justice.

Finally, I arrive at the actual town of Rural Valley, Pennsylvania, population approximately 900.

Because the town is so small, and an outsider would stick out like a sore thumb, I did not really get to go out and explore too terribly much, as it was the time of day that everyone was getting home from work, and I did not want to spook anyone. Instead, I tried as discretely as possibly to take pictures of things I thought interesting, lovely, and charming, along Main Street.

The school

Main Street Market

Rural Valley Methodist Church

Rural Valley Bakery

Shannock Hardware

Yatesboro Presbyterian Church
(There actually were quite a few more churches in town)

But by far, the thing I was most excited about finding and getting a picture of was this:

Now, you may be asking, what is so special about this house? Well, this house is the former Bishop's funeral home. Again, what is so special about a small town family run funeral home? WELL....this particular funeral home was used in the filming of the movie The Silence of the Lambs. If you recall the scene where Clarice Starling goes to the funeral home to help process the body of Frederika Bimmel, when they find the moth cocoon in her mouth....well this is where all of that, interior and exterior, was filmed!!!!!! This was a major find for me. It was a minor part of the film, but a major turning point in the plot, so I still consider it a major find.

Often this filming location is misattributed to McKeesport PA. I assure, this is not the case, it is in fact in Rural Valley. Watch this clip, and at 6:13 you will clearly see this house, on Main Street in Rural Valley PA.

Basically, this, along with my errand, is what led me to lovely Rural Valley yesterday. It was a lovely drive, and to any of the residents who saw me milling about, I apologize if I bothered any of you. I meant no disrespect, I was only there to admire your beautiful corner of Armstrong County.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Small town exotica

Living in a small town, miles away from both the west coast and NYC, in no real target market area, we never really see unusual products hit the stores in Kittanning. About the most exotic thing we have seen recently is the pretzel m&ms. So, when I stumbled upon this at the local Sheetz....

I knew I had to try it. Naked Coconut water. Made from Brazilian coconuts, with no preservatives, and no sugar added. I LOVE coconuts, so I thought, hey, I am game.

I had hubby help me document my journey.

Here I am displaying the awesome package of water....
It says "Like a coconut with an easy pull tab".

So I open it....

and I take a drink....
uh oh, that is not a good face....
Hubby asked what it tasted like. I said, it tastes like someone took a carton of spoiled milk, dumped the milk out, filled the carton with water, set the carton in the fridge for a week, then dumped the water into this sexy packaging.

So, there you have it. No more Naked Coconut water for me. I guess I should be content with my nice, boring, small town diet coke. Who needs all this excitement, right?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays

It's Monday, and it's raining. I have not been able to get out an explore my town for a few days because of nasty weather, and I have almost finished writing about our trip, so I was worried I would have nothing to write about. A trip to the Shop N Save proved me wrong!

Hubby once told me that he loved Wonka bars, and was surprised I had never had one. I have had other Wonka candies, like everlasting gobstoppers, and laffy taffy, but not the chocolate bars. So when I stumbled across this triple crown of awesomeness in the store, I knew I had to get it for him:

I know the picture is a little crappy, so I pulled some off the website to give you a better idea of the bliss he has coming....

First, we have the Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate bar. The big Wonka W is pressed into the candy, and it is scored (for sharing? no way) into squares. The luscious chocolate contains pieces of buttery toffee, peanuts, and cookies.

Next we have the Chocolate Waterfall bar. This contains swirled white chocolate and milk chocolate. It sure looks pretty!

Finally, we have the Domed Double Decker Chocolate bar, which to me sounds like the best of the three, dark chocolate squares topped with milk chocolate medallions.

Now, not only is he getting these candy bars, but each one contains a chance to find the golden ticket for an opportunity to travel the world (no joke). I saw these and just knew I had to get them for Hubby. He totally deserves them.

By the way, me feeling like Hubby earned a treat (and the fact that I bought a second set of the bars for myself) has absolutely nothing, I assure you, to do with the fact that I also purchased this:

I love you Hubby, sorry for being such a Crankosaurus these past few days!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out of Town: Swallow Falls and Deep Creek Lake Parks

When I told several of my friends we were going to be visiting the Deep Creek area, everyone told me that I had to visit Swallow Falls. Because I value my friends' advice, I decided to take them up on this, especially because Swallow Falls is a pet friendly park. We set off early in the morning, driving throughout the Deep Creek area, until we stumbled upon the Swallow Falls Park. I was a little disappointed to see there was an entrance fee, but we went ahead and paid it, because I knew it was going for a good cause.

When we got out of the car, and began venturing into the woods, I immediately wished I had paid better attention to which path my friend Roseanna had told me to take, because I knew she told me a specific one. On a leap of faith, we took the one that stated it led to Swallow Falls. It was a very easy trail, even Dexter was able to handle most of it, until we got to steps, and then we had to carry him. But it was well worth it. When we reached the steps we were at the upper falls. it was breathtaking, and because it was so dry, we were about to go right out onto the falls.

This trail was a piece of cake, so rather than turn around and go back the way we came, we continued on. And man on man, the things we saw. There were trees growing on rocks, boulders perched precariously on top of stacks of rocks, and of course the lower falls. It was breathtakingly beautiful and scary all at once.

The trail was really rough, we had to carry Dex the whole time, and stopped to give him water. Finally, after a couple of rests, we made it to the Muddy Falls, at the end of the trail, which is the highest free falling waterfall in the state of Maryland. Hubby even ventured out on the falls to get a downward shot, he is braver than me!

After we left, we took Dex back to the room to relax (he had a big morning!) because he unfortunately could not come with us to the Deep Creek Lake State Park due to a no pet policy for park lands (boooo). Once again we had to pay to get into the park (double boo) even though we were only going to be there for less than an hour.

Still, it was money well spent. It was simply gorgeous, although a bit chilly. I did however persuade Hubby to doff his socks and shoes with me, and wade into the icy lake water. I then surprised us both by climbing the rock pile triumphantly. We played a little more, and relaxed in the beauty that surrounded us.

One of the books I read recently talks about the Celtic concept of "thin places", areas where the physical space between heaven and earth is literally thinner, where we feel the presence of God a bit more fully. For me, these places often occur in nature. I feel certain that on this day, I walked through several thin places.