Tag Archives: Bloggers

Today, I Am 4

Dessert tray at Habitat, where I lunched with several Pittsburgh bloggers on Saturday.
Photo taken by me, August 11, 2012

Today, I am 4.

(Or, to be more specific, this blog is 4 years old. Today.)

Every year, without fail, I tell myself I’m going to “do something” for my blogiversary (one of those made-up Internet words that I admittedly cannot stand).

And every year, without fail, this day somehow sneaks up on me and I’m caught unprepared.

No giveaway, no poignant pre-written post, no survey, no State of the Blog, no lofty goals or vision for the future.

(In the last four years, I’ve seen where plans get me. It ain’t always pretty.)

So here we are, four years into this blogging thing, still winging it. Four years and 108,004 pageviews and 4,929 comments and 1,428 published posts and another 260 posts lingering in drafts later.

I have a tendency to sometimes not finish what I’ve started. Despite The Summer of My Unemployment, there are still many unpacked boxes from our move four months ago. There’s still an unfinished novel (although it is further along than it would have been without the summer of unemployment). My kids’ baby albums are not yet complete.

But that’s true of all of us, isn’t it, no matter where we are in our life stages and our journeys. Whether we are 4 or 44 or 104, we are all works-in-progress. I certainly am and it is no secret that I have been reflecting on and, yes, sometimes struggling with the direction of the blog.

When I wrote my first post 4 years ago (you can read it here), I wasn’t sure what this blog would become. It was intended to be simply a chronicle of the goings on of our life, particularly as it concerned Betty and Boo – the nicknames for my now-10 year old twins. It was a way to keep the long-distance grandparents connected on our everyday doings and especially, to give people a glimpse of our life with autism. (I can tell you that my earliest blogging influences and inspirations were MOM-NOS, who writes so poignantly about her son Bud, and author/blogger Susan Senator, who writes about her family, especially her son Nat.) So many have become inspirations and influences and friends since.

Recently, I’ve long felt a name change is needed – but to what, and how, and when? In a world that demands that we all (not just bloggers, but especially bloggers) have a personal brand, and that writers like me create a platform on which we can instantly catapult when our books are ready for you to read and to buy, where does that leave an everyday unniched blogger like me who writes about a hodgepodge of things like the books she likes, parenting a child with autism and the funny/poignant things that kid does, the recipes I want to remember, the incredible things I’m still discovering in Pittsburgh, the ways that this city reminds me so much of my beloved Philadelphia, the issues in the news that make me drag out my soapbox and yell “pay attention to this, dammit!”

For now, at age 4, it leaves me right here. Not going anywhere, feeling so incredibly grateful for all of you who take the time to read what I have to say. Whether you’re one of the 4,929 comments here or on Facebook, I hope you know that I am so thankful to you. There are so many people I could and want to send shout-outs to, but we’d be here all day, and besides, you probably know who you are. Don’t you?

And I have boxes to unpack and novels to write.

One more thing. Since you know how much I love lists, here’s the Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts (by pageviews) Since 2008.  (I’m especially proud that #5 and #9 made the list).

1. Announcing the Memorable Memoirs Challenge – Dec. 6, 2010
1,717 pageviews

2. Book Review: Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who are Rewriting the Rules, by Pamela Haag – Feb. 14, 2012
1,187 pageviews

3. Going Gaga for Greyson Chance – Nov. 9, 2010
771 pageviews (This was my all time highest post at one time. The photo has been stolen a lot, too. Still, I happen to be fond of this post.)

4. Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Oct. 21, 2011
748 pageviews

5. For Elaine – Nov. 15, 2010
639 pageviews

6. Introducing the Memorable Memoirs – Dec. 27, 2009
302 pageviews

7. Weekend Cooking: Broccoli Cheese Soup – Jan. 15, 2011
288 pageviews

8. Announcing The 2012 Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge – Dec. 11, 2011
264 pageviews

9. “Mommy, Why Does Baby G. Have to Go to Jail?” – May 25, 2011
190 pageviews

10. I’m Still Giving Away … 2 Books (GIVEAWAY CLOSED) – Feb. 8, 2011
164 pageviews

Thanks for reading. As some politicians say, here’s to four more years.

Maybe even with some changes.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Honoring Our Troops, in Twenty Seconds, on Memorial Day

Photo taken by me at the Flight 93 Memorial
in Shanksville, PA, October 2011

I could write this Memorial Day morning about what books I’ve read this week. I could post photos of the flowerbed project I so proudly completed yesterday. I could tell you about the elderly woman all alone eating a sundae at the next table at Eat’n Park yesterday as I enjoyed lunch with Boo and how she looked so damn sad, like she was missing someone this holiday weekend … and how I decided to pay her $12 bill for her, just because.

I will tell you about all of those things. But they can all wait.

Because today is about something a little more important than books and gardening. (It does tie in with the whole idea of paying it forward, though.)

A bit of background. This post that follows comes from A Diary of a Mom, which is written by my friend Jess, who has a friend named Rachel.  I don’t know Rachel very well, but I know her story … mainly because Jess has written about it extensively on her blog (and I follow Rachel’s blog, Welcome to Stim City.)

I also confess that I have not taken as much forceful action for this cause as I could have and, more importantly, should have. I’ve posted the links to my Facebook page. I’ve liked numerous other posts on the issue. I think I blogged about it once. I signed the Change.org petition.

I hope, after reading Jess’s words and those of Rachel’s as to why this is important, you will do so too.

From Diary of a Mom (because, as always, she says it better than I can):

Who kept the faith and fought the fight;
The glory theirs, the duty ours.
~Wallace Bruce

My friends,

If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve heard me talk (ad nauseam you might say) about the absolutely egregious lack of care for our nation’s military children with autism. You’ve also undoubtedly heard me talk about my friend, Rachel, who is leading the fight to fix it.

Yesterday, Rachel sent the following letter to every single chief of staff of every single member of the Armed Services Committee. When she shared it with me, I knew I had to share it with you. Because together, we can help to right this disastrous wrong. We can step up to the plate to care for the families of our nation’s heroes just as they step up to the plate every day for us. We can, in twenty seconds or less, do the right thing.

If you’re pressed for time, please feel free to simply click HERE and then be on your merry way. If not, then read the following to find out why this matters so damned much.

Thank you and God Bless.


Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Armed Services Committee Offices.

My name is Rachel Kenyon. I am a proud and battle-tested Army wife and mom of two beautiful babes, one with autism.

Currently, “TRICARE” military healthcare provides less than half the recommended treatments for autism, and only to children of active duty service members.

Service members who retire after more than twenty years and Wounded Warriors forced to medically retire are stripped of what little treatment TRICARE allows via the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).

On Thursday, May 17, 2012, Congressman John Larson took to the House floor armed with embarrassingly large photos of our little family and made the case for Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act to be included as an amendment to the FY2013 NDAA. It worked, because for Mr. Larson, this had become personal. It worked because Rep. Tom Rooney had the courage to walk up to Chairman Buck McKeon and tell him it was personal. Mr. Rooney has two nephews with autism. Mr. McKeon did the right thing, because now he understood, it was personal. The amendment passed as part of the NDAA in the House.

Senator Gillibrand attempted this past week to do the same in the Senate Armed Services Committee markup session. The amendment was rejected.

I contact you today because this fight is so very personal for so many of us serving our country each day. Not only do I want my husband to feel that his more than 25 years of service warrant the medical care our daughter with autism needs, but I want my daughter to have the security of being able to access the tools that can give her a richer, more meaningful life.

It’s personal because I now hold 23,000 other children in my heart, and more than that many parents who serve our country. I love them as I love my own. I want them to feel proud of their country’s service to them in return. I want them to sleep at night, knowing that though autism may have knocked on their door, they can live their lives to the fullest with the care they need and deserve. It’s personal.

I know once you read the attached comments from your constituents, both military and civilian, you all will choose to do the right thing. To take this fight personally. To share with your fellow staffers and your Senators and Representatives that our families are proud. That our children are worthy. That if just one military child was denied the cancer treatments he or she needed, we would not be wasting time with emails and petitions. A true American who hears that 23,000 military children are being denied the medical standard of care for autism takes that personally. Well, for real American patriots, it is so very personal.

I appreciate your time and I wish you all a fun, relaxing Memorial Weekend in remembrance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our little family will be spending another weekend living with autism in our house and struggling to understand why we have to fight this battle, too.


Mrs. Rachel E. Kenyon

Wife to Command Sergeant Major William W. Kenyon

Mother of two beautiful babes – one with autism.


Ed Note: As promised in the letter above, Rachel passed on scores of comments to the Armed Services Committee. You can read them all HERE. But of the comments, one stood out to me the most.

Jennifer Lockwood Stafford VA 22554 United States 5/26/12

“I am signing this because My husband has 25+ years AD Army Special Forces, and we have an 8 year-old son with Autism. My husband has deployed multiple times throughout the various wars, which our country has been involved in since the 90′s, risking his life each time. He recently returned from a yearlong combat deployment in Afghanistan and is scheduled to deploy again in August.

My son was diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old and began Applied Behavior Analysis therapy from the age of 4 years via the Extended Heath Care Option (ECHO) Program. Although the recommended amount of ABA therapy is 30 – 40 hours/week, my son only receives 10 hours/week, not near what is recommended, but better than nothing. Due in part because of these services, my son has gone from functioning as an 18 month old to functioning of a 6 year-old; And this would not have been so had these services not been available.

Although my husband has more than enough years to retire from military service, he cannot retire for fear of losing all autism therapies for our son, because retirees are not eligible for ECHO services. As stated earlier, my husband will soon be heading back to Afghanistan for another year-long deployment. What I think is important for you to know is that if my husband is injured while serving his country in Afghanistan, and forced to medically retire, my son will no longer be eligible to receive autism therapies. Additionally, if my husband is fatally wounded while serving his county in Afghanistan, my son will no longer be eligible for autism therapies.

My husband has made many sacrifices for this county and his family. I’m signing this petition because the medically necessary therapies that my son requires should not preclude him from having a father present in his life.”

From me: So, here it is again:   http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-make-recommended-autism-treatment-available-to-all-military-children 

Thanks.  And Happy Memorial Day.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Weekend Cooking: Asparagus Days

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

I’ve been reading a lot of gardening blogs lately to help hasten my horticulturally-challenged learning curve. Even though some of them are a bit advanced for my skill level, I’m learning a lot – and even as a brand new gardener I can often find something I can relate to. So when Margaret of A Way to Garden (one of my new favorite blogs) wrote the other day that she is “on the asparagus diet,” I had to laugh because that is so very true here in our house, too.

Just a few weeks ago when we moved into this house I was lamenting the fact that I couldn’t FIND the asparagus patch that the previous owners told us existed. Now we can’t keep up with its bounty. What we’ve discovered since I last posted about the asparagus patch is that it runs the entire length of our vegetable garden (on the right side of this photo) and appears to be about 6 feet in width.

That’s a LOT of asparagus for a family of four, one of whom (that would be The Husband) hates to look at the stuff and refuses to eat it. (He is also hoping that our sellers planted this patch 35 years ago, because the thought of this asparagus being with us until we die is causing him agita.) I’ve been trying to tell him how much this stuff would cost in the grocery store, but that hasn’t swayed him. “If you know I wouldn’t be eating it, you wouldn’t be buying it in the grocery store, so how is this saving us money?” Um … because me and the kids are devouring the stuff. (Yes, happily, Boo is a new convert to asparagus. Parmesan cheese does the trick every time.)

I’ve also been trying to see if there is a local food bank that might accept some fresh produce, but I’m not sure if that’s going to work out. In the meantime, here are just a few pictures of the amounts we’ve been harvesting.

April 22, 2012
April 27, 2012  (this is just after a few minutes of picking and only represents about half of what we picked that evening)
Another bunch of asparagus from April 27, 2012 
As for what I’ve been making with all of this asparagus? Plain old pasta with asparagus and drizzled with olive oil is in high rotation on our dinner table.  I’ll roast the asparagus in olive oil at 400 degrees, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. The kids will then douse their dishes with more Parmesan.  The Husband foregoes the asparagus altogether in favor of tomato sauce. Tonight was a slight variation: pasta, asparagus, chopped tomatoes, feta cheese … all drizzled with olive oil. 
Over on one of my favorite recipe sites, Simply Recipes, Elise has an amazing recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup, which I made on Thursday night.  It was divine.  (I didn’t take any photos, but that’s OK … Elise’s photos are much better.) Boo had TWO BOWLS of the Cream of Asparagus Soup and I had two bowls for lunch the next day. It was even better the next day.  This now rates as one of my favorite soups and I want to make this again before asparagus season ends. (If our wacky spring weather continues like this (we had a freeze warning last night and snow flurries this morning!) I’m pretty sure there are a few more bowls of Cream of Asparagus soup in our future.)
I’m planning to make that Easy Asparagus Parmesan Bake on A Way to Garden, the Spinach Pasta with Asparagus Pesto from the April 2012 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray, (although I’ll probably use cavatappi pasta instead) and an Asparagus Risotto. 
Do you have a favorite asparagus recipe I should try? (And if you have an asparagus patch, how long has it been producing?)

Updated 4/30/2012: I made the Easy Asparagus Parmesan Bake tonight. More than half of this was eaten by yours truly. The rest was eaten by Boo, along with chicken and macaroni and cheese.  Betty decided to take a break from asparagus this evening. (Can’t really say that I blame her.)

But this was delicious and has earned a spot in our asparagus rotation of recipes.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!

A Package (and Spirits) Picked Up

There, by the mailboxes, on a Friday afternoon that ended a very stressful week, was a package.

The way packages are left here in the apartment is subject to the mail or UPS person’s mood of the day.  Sometimes they’re left by our door.  Sometimes they’re by our mailboxes, raising hopes as you walk in the door after a long day that there is a present or a gift awaiting.

So with this decent-sized box by the mailbox on Friday, I took a peek at the address and saw it was for …ME!  Then, upon looking at the return address, realized it was from the wonderful Jen of Devourer of Books. (Which meant it could be only one thing.)

And I was wrong, because it was a total of THREE things.   (Which, if you know Jen’s latest news, makes sense. 🙂

Inside the package I discovered these, which I won a few months back from … um, something (the Thankfully Reading Weekend, maybe?), hand-selected for me by Jen, none of which I have read, all of which are on my wish list, and all of which could not (I am so serious) have come at a better time.

(It has been a hell of a week. That new house of ours that I mentioned in my Sunday Salon post? Yeah, not so much.  Fuhgettaboutit.  Home inspection revealed too many problems for our comfort level and bank account. Buh-bye.)

Anyway.  The package. This.  THESE:

The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in An American Kitchen, by Donia Bijan
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston 

It’s so very true that books and friends have the power to lift one’s spirit, just at the very moment when you need it most.

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much Jen!  You’re THE BEST and I cannot wait to read all of these!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!