Archives for July 2013

Monkey Wars!

monkey warslogo_v2



If you know anything about Make A Wish, you know it ranks up there with one of the most noble, worthy charitable organizations out there.  Who can say “No” to serving children with life-threatening medical issues and offering these children and their families the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories?

The answer is “nobody”, and our buddy Ryan knew it.  His Wish was to invent an app.  It’s a game called Monkey Wars, and it’s the only iPhone game I know of involving the throwing of monkey poo.

Ryan knew he would get his Wish “because he’s never of heard of the Make-A-Wish Foundation failing to make a dream come true.  Read and watch the story here.

Download Monkey Wars on iTunes here!  Way to go Ryan & Make A Wish!


Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at

Potato, Potahto: A Story of Me, a Fictional High School Football Player, and My Kids.

Last night I was in such a hurry to gobble down some delicious deli-purchased “loaded baked potato salad” that I grabbed a fork and began inhaling the goodness before my kid could come around the corner and accuse me of doing anything wrong.  Admittedly, my intention was to consume as much of it as possible because let’s face it–kids don’t appreciate pricey pre-made deli salads.  Plus there was still one last baggie of microwaveable Kirkland edemame in the freezer–my kids got their servings of vegetables after all, so pipe down you guys.

But with my head still inside the fridge I noticed that my frantic desperation to shove the creamy, bacon-laden, green onion-topped side dish into my face-hole caused me to grab a fork with the wrong hand and literally begin shoveling the food into my mouth.  I was eating with the wrong hand–have you tried this recently?  I was lucky to even get the fork near my mouth, much less finish half a pint in three minutes (ahem).  I did slow down though, just to behold the sight.  I gripped the fork in a most caveman-like way, then stabbed at the food, and then sort of stabbed the food into my mouth.  All I know is that there was lots of stabbing.  I was embarrassed.  I darted my eyes in either direction, making sure nobody witnessed all of my awkward stab-eating and then slowly capped the container.  I couldn’t get over how weird it felt–not the secret binging of potato salad deliciousness, but doing it with the wrong hand.

I am left handed.  But this time, I “ate” with my right hand.  There are American pig farmers who shovel slop into troughs more delicately than my right hand was able to place potato chunks into my mouth.   For a few moments there I was a neanderthal:  “FOOD.  GOOD.  PUT HERE. (unintelligible) MMMM.”  Honestly, I should check my hair to make sure some errant mayo residue isn’t still visible.  Imagine a husky, hungry, overworked young high school wannabe football player.  The kind of kid who drinks a gallon of milk a day.  After his two-a-day he sits down to dinner and doesn’t even care what’s on his plate or what it tastes like–he needs protein and carbs inside his belly and preferably before he passes out on his bed in a Gatorade-induced electrolyte coma and the dim glow of Angry Birds Star Wars Edition.  He’s a machine.  His thick, fork-grasping fingers are the vehicle which delivers food to his face.  He finds a way to get the job done and now here we are back in the glow of my fridge, me gripping this fork and stabbing potatoes into my mouth.

So anyway, this is a post about the twins and their handedness.  It’s something that’s been on my mind, but then last night I grabbed that fork in a weird way which made me write all that and I’m not even sure what that has to do with my kids.  It’s been fun to write so far, though.

True to their theme of “yin and yang”, Lauren is mostly left handed (unless she’s being evaluated by an occupational therapist, in which case she “just can’t decide!”) while Kyle is steadfastly a typer.  That’s right.  He types.  He’s right handed if you force him to hold a writing instrument, but his kindergarten team introduced him to a keyboard last year and he found he can express himself so much more with a typewriter.  And I love it!  A pencil requires hand strength, requires grip.   He can’t apply the pressure to write words with a pencil.  But with a keyboard he can express volumes. Still, he exhibits typical attributes of a left brainer–excels at math and problem solving but struggles to express his creative side, keyboard or not.

Lauren though, she’s my girl.  A fellow lefty.  I totally relate to her.  She starts the day left-handed (writing, eating), and as the day wears on and she fatigues, she tends to favor her right hand.  I like to think she’s training herself to be ambidextrous but I can see the telltale signs of a right brainer–she’s artistic, imaginative, expressive, and creative.  I don’t mean to suggest that her twin brother is none of these things, but…well, kind of.

The twins have just finished kindergarten, and I understand that handedness might still be waiting to establish itself with them.  As for me?  Well, I just hope that eating my next meal/late-night fridge snack is something so normal and not awkward that I don’t feel the need to blog about it.

And with that, send forth upon me some epic potato salad recipes–something I can’t buy from Safeway.  Pretty please?

potato salad







Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at

How To Use PicMonkey as a Social Media Community Manager

In case you didn’t know… I’ve been making a living as a Social Media Community Manager for the last 5 years. I’ve been blogging and using social media for almost 7 years. And Never. Ever. Have I found such a simple tool to make my work so beautiful and easy.

PicMonkey turns your desktop into a photo editing studio in a snap. And I’m the least talented graphic designer. Ever. PicMonkey makes my work look professional, modern and fun! And now.. .they’ve added a feature so FULL of WIN! You can create a photo collage and access the editing tools at the same time. YAY!


Was I paid to teach you my insider tips on Picmonkey? Nope. Just sharing! So let’s get started!

How do I use PicMonkey for work?

I write content for blogs, Facebook, Instagram etc… and it  needs to be super shareable across multiple platforms and ultimately on Pinterest.

What makes a photo shareable? Good question!

I’ve found that the two main drivers for photo sharing are:

  • Beauty
  • Information

Adding text, color and accents to a photo are just what you need to make you photos go from forgettable to FAB.

Let’s make a collage!

Step 1:

Click “Create a collage” on the start page. Choose your layout (I went with 4 equal squares) and then open your photos from your computer.


Step 2:

Once you drop your photos into place… you can adjust them by clicking the edit button on the photo.


Step 3:

If you don’t have enough photos to fill the collage spaces… you can fill them with ready made swatches or upload your own. PicMonkey also allows you to delete blank squares.


Step 4:

A brand new feature in PicMonkey now allows you to open the photo editor from your collage. Awesome!

open in editor

Step 5:

Add your text and a fancy overlay! There’s a fun variety of free and premium texts and overlays. So far… I’ve not even logged into PicMonkey. I’ve just been taking advantage of the super easy to use features that are available to guests who need a photo on the fly!

text overlay

Step 6:
Save your masterpiece and use it wherever you’re creating content to be shared!

and save

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this little how-to tutorial on PicMonkey! xo

Disneyland! Differently-Abled.

Our family recently enjoyed nearly a week at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA and boy was it an experience.

My oldest is a nine year old daughter and the twins are six.  Their ages are perfectly ripe for the magic of Disney–young enough to approach every minute in the theme parks with carefree jubilance, but still old enough to stay up late enough for fireworks.

Day One:  Boy twin and big sister head with Dad to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Girl twin spends all day in the Most Vomitous Place on Earth (my hotel bed).  Girl twin’s tummy trouble is a remnant from some intensive breathing treatments after a recent pneumonia episode.  Boy twin and big sister enjoyed some shows at the theme parks and some eleven dollar chicken fingers, but didn’t have enough hands on deck to experience any rides.

Day Two:   Girl twin tummy is feeling iffy, but good enough to roll both her and her brother downstairs to the swimming pools.  Their pools are spacious enough to find a corner where the twins can relax face-up in their neck floats, slowly acclimating to the zero gravity of water and remembering the joy of moving their limbs freely.  Their muscle disease (SMA) means that gravity is their enemy on a daily basis, so being in water is a liberating experience for them.  That is, until Lauren falls ill again and spends more time in the Most Vomitous Place on Earth (my hotel bed).

Day Three:  An off day–hung around the hotel.  Chilled.  Ventured to Downtown Disney.  Lauren begged for a Minnie Mouse teddy bear at Build A Bear and I said ‘yes’ because I was worried that if I didn’t agree she would throw up on me.  Again.

Day Four:   Finally, a day for the whole family to experience Disneyland.  And I must say the Disneyland website isn’t entirely accurate in terms of how wheelchair accessible some of their rides are.  Thanks to some initial medical issues, this was our only day as a whole family at Disneyland–but boy did we make the most of it.  Our oldest and her dad rode the Matterhorn twice.  She and I rode Space Mountain–where I faced my childhood demons (omg, that ride seriously messed with me when I was a kid).  The twins enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, It’s a Small World.  Sometimes we parked their electric wheelchairs and picked up their bodies to sit them gingerly next to us in order to experience the ride.  If my kid wants to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, then my kid rides Pirates of the  Caribbean.  Twice  And the remainder of the rides, well?  We had to tell them they couldn’t ride them.  Honestly, that was a super sucky part of our trip.  But such is life.  Kids in wheelchairs can’t do everything that other kids can do, no matter how much I advocate, complain, or stomp my feet.     Those were the only rides they could get on.

Living with neuromuscular disease means that one must forgo many opportunities when it comes to theme parks.   The theme parks are huge, geographically speaking.  There are so many miles for a six year old to drive in his/her electric wheelchair-in and out of Fantasy Land, towards the popcorn stand, focus on Small World, kid! and hey don’t run over all the toes of the people who are looking up, not down.  There are infinitely more obstacles for them to navigate through, crowds to focus on, lines to wait in.  When it comes to experiencing a Disney theme park in a wheelchair, there is nothing fast or fun about it. But try telling a six year old girl that she can’t meet Rapunzel because the line is too long, for in this heat her heart rate will increase and if we stay here much longer the oxygen saturation of her blood will decrease to the low 90’s.  And I don’t know where the nearest hospital is, but it’s not worth distressing her systems just to wait in a line–even if it IS for an amazing Disney experience.

However!  Thanks to some great planners and compassionate crowd-handlers at Disneyland, my children were regularly escorted to the front of the line to every amusement park ride.  We got to skip the lines.  We pre-planned our time in the park and we were already behind our schedule—everyone beats us to the best rides, to the Bibbidy  Bobbidy Boutique waiting list.  Everyone.  We are slower.  Our medical needs slow us down.  I do my best to plan and consider and accommodate, but occasionally there are unexpected delays–and this is how the Disney Guest Assistance Pass helps us.  It smooths the rough edges over what is already an arduous experience.  Disabled children pay the same admission price as any other kid, so I think it’s fair that they and their families are able to more freely access the rides, as long as they can get to them.













This is the same Guest Assistance Pass which recently made the news with those rumors that financially advantaged families are known to “rent” a local disabled person to join them at Disney theme parks so that the non-disabled family can nab a Guest Assistance Pass and therefore skip the lines.  Personally, I am not disabled and so I choose not to speak to this controversial subject or try to represent a demographic of which I am not part.  Indeed, there are two sides to this argument but I won’t engage with words on this faceless internet typing machine.  Suffice to say that if it weren’t for our Guest Assistance Pass, the children would have experienced just a fraction of the theme park experience and we are grateful for the Disney folks to afford them opportunities they would not have otherwise had.  And as a reminder to pretty much everybody: not all handicaps are visible to the naked eye.

In any case, a fantastic trip to Disney–after the vomiting stopped–and we can’t wait to go back!  Again!  Another trip to Disneyland!  Featuring: Less Vomiting!



Cassandra can be found on Twitter @aclevergirl.  Learn more about her family’s unique challenges and why they have hope for a cure for muscular dystrophy at