Tag Archives: parenting

One Word Photo Challenge: Beaver


This week’s one word photo challenge is beaver, which is a shade of brown, similar to mocha, yet just a shade darker.

Last week it had snowed…again…but this time, it was a good snowfall, well, for us here in the centralized part of Arkansas it was. Sad thing about this round of white powder is that it was just that, powder, which isn’t snowman building type of snow. After several minutes of effortless trying to build one, she finally understood, yet still found a way to enjoy playing in it.

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I admire my daughter’s infinite love for snow. I’m sure the movie Frozen gave her a bit of a nudge in that direction, especially after hearing Anna’s famous line, ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’. And there’s also a song she sings about it too. After watching the movie a few dozen times, then hearing it play in the background of your home…on repeat…then tolerating the CD in the car, also on repeat, you would have a slight understanding as to why snow and the movie Frozen can start to really bug you.

Not to mention, the numerous pictures of Elsa circulating on Facebook, issuing a warrant out for arrest, blaming her for causing our lovely winter snowstorms, kind of a bit overdone.

The only time I like snow is when I get to play in it. I used to snowboard regularly when I lived in Colorado. I actually kept my board and gear, just in case I get the chance to snowboard again. Yet, when my daughter repeats Anna’s famous line, of course I’m all into building a snowman, I’m just not going to burst into song or anything like that. I’ll also refrain from mentioning anything to do with the movie.

Though the sky was kind of bleak and everything surrounding me was white, I did snap a few photos here and there. I kind of find my neighbors broken fence somewhat interesting. I call it his fence since he’s the one who put it up, he just fails to maintain it. Of course the wheelchair ramp tends to end up in my pictures. Plus, I had to take a picture of the tall pines that surround us in their version of a tiny forrest. I feel like an ant standing next to these massive giants. They were here before the house was built back in the 50’s, so that should give you a rough estimate on how old they are.

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Showing That Irish Pride Every March


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March is a month that I’ve always looked forward to every year. Parades, eating pot roast and potatoes, and donning the color green. I can remember one year, when I was in first or second grade, that I had gotten pinched for wearing too much green. I was covered in green from my shoes, socks, pants, and my tee. I never understood why a person would pinch someone for not wearing green or for wearing too much of it, but it was something that I can remember doing every year, supporting my Irish heritage.

It’s something I still do today, attend the local St. Pat’s parade, eat beef and potatoes, and wear as much green as I want without worrying about getting pinched.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day originated in America by the Irish who immigrated to the States over two centuries ago. It became a tradition in celebrating their culture, heritage, music, and of course their patron saint, Patrick every March, that it took off with popularity, continuing on with their descendants and is now celebrated in every major city in the US and almost every city in Ireland, bringing in attendees from every cultural background, including Irish.

According to Ireland of the Welcomes magazine, “the first St. Patrick’s Day parade every record, was in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts, hosted by the Irish Society of Boston.”

“Almost 25 percent of the population in Massachusetts is Irish, making it the most Irish state in the US. Boston is often called the capital of Irish America because of the thriving Irish community that dates back to colonial times.”

Here in Little Rock the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas hosts a parade every year on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a mile long and seems to grow in attendance every year. This year marks their 16th annual parade and will be this Saturday, March 14th at 1PM. The parade will start in front of Dugan’s Pub at Third and Rock, then will travel east on Third, the North on Sherman, towards President Clinton Ave, running in front of the river market, making a right turn on Main St, crossing over the river bridge, ending at Sixth and Main.

I find that the best areas for viewing is right in front of the river market on President Clinton Ave. Though if you have kiddos with sensitive hearing like my daughter, bring ear protection as the several motorcycles, handful of fire engines, and that one guy with the train, can create such a loud echoing noise in between those big city buildings, startling those wee ones.

Please click here for more information on the parade, as the Irish Cultural Society usually host an organization benefit. Last year, they collected canned food for the Rice Depot…There was a sponsored truck in the parade procession collecting canned food from the attendees, I proudly donated a few cans to them as they passed us.

Oh, if you decide to attend, and I hope you do, don’t forget to bring a bag so that the kiddos can collect candy and beads thrown to them from the parade procession.

Reblog: ‘Calming a Meltdown…’


Meltdowns are something Autism Parents are quite used to. They’re much different than a normal tantrum, though we autism parents would prefer a tantrum versus having to handle a meltdown, especially in the store. Honestly, I don’t mind a meltdown at home, as I can readily handle them. But I cannot handle one as easily in the store. What’s worse is all the stares and rude comments from all the those lurking around when my daughter has a meltdown.

Anything can start one and it’s mostly from her not being able to handle a situation.

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For instance, when her school first started practicing fire drills, any time my daughter would see a red fire alarm, anywhere, she would panic. It would lead to screaming and crying, fire, fire, get out, get out. I try to calm her by telling her that the fire alarms aren’t working, rarely does that help, but it’s worth trying. I try to hold her, hug her, use soothing words to try and calm her, all the while moving to another aisle so that the fire alarm is out of sight. Then, point out all the cool things around us, like a neat toy she may like. Distraction works best, most of the time.

Meanwhile, people begin to swarm in, pointing, talking amongst themselves, staring at us. The best way for strangers to handle this situation is to move on. It doesn’t help that parent at all to point and stare. It adds stress to the already embarrassing situation that parent is having to endure at that moment.

I was in the check out lane one day, when my daughter started to heave a meltdown. The checker didn’t hand her a toy fast enough, plus it was in a sack. The checker looked at me awkwardly as I said, “it’s okay, she’s just having a moment, it’s just something children with autism do.” Her reply made me frown, “I thought all kids do that.” Yes, and no. What’s worse, an older gentleman behind me began to giggle at my daughter’s outburst. I did my best to ignore him and held my tongue. When we got outside my daughter’s meltdown grew worse as she started to toss things out of the buggy. I can only pray that we get to the car without being hit by someone speeding through the parking lot….it does happen, even right outside the doors of the store.

At home, her kicking and screaming turns into her jumping up and landing on her knees, to banging her head on the floor or anything that she can hit her head on. Usually I let her kick and scream, but when she starts banging her head, I’ll scoop her up and rock her in the rocking chair. Her meltdown may last from a few minutes, to hours, but I’ve noticed that the rocking does help.

Here’s a blog post from ‘The Autism Site (dot) com’ on ‘Calming A Meltdown Can Be Frustratingly Difficult’

Reblog: Confessions of a Special Needs Parent


I found this blog post on a Facebook group for special needs parents. Though it’s an old post, you can tell that parents of special needs children continue to search for our sanity, as well as answers. Yet, we find friendship through those who are familiar with our day to day lives. We find strength. Sometimes, we may find humor. Also, a smile may be rendered in there somewhere.

Why else would someone re-post an old blog write up? To share that we are out there. To give us strength. To also show that some of our kiddos share similarities. To help spread the word that are children are just that, children, no matter how many awkward stares we get, no matter what society thinks of our children, no matter who’s whispering negative comments behind our backs.

Most of us realize that our sanity may be the first to go, but we replace it with knowledge. Knowledge of who our real friends are, knowledge of our level of patience, knowledge of what our family members truly think of us, knowledge that our kiddos are actually something truly amazing.

Another thing about a special needs parent, we never give up, on anything, and we become stronger every day. We also stick together, as we understand what it is we go through every day.

Our family members and close friends may leave us because they cannot understand our kiddos, yet we find friendships in others, bonds, proving to ourselves that we aren’t alone.

Hugs to all those special needs parents out there, continue to stay strong!

Reblog: Confessions of a Special Needs Parent

One Word Photo Challenge: Teal


This week’s One Word Photo Challenge is Teal; a beautiful shade found on the color spectrum of blue, can be found in the pictures posted below.

If you have never known the love of a therapy horse, or have seen the love expressed between horse and rider, then hopefully you can see that and more expressed in the photos.

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The ever so patient horse, encouraging the ever so gentle touch from a child with special needs is awe inspiring. Tears well up in my eyes with happiness, as I watch my daughter’s slow movements in her approach towards her therapy horse, Passion, who is moving in closer to my daughter for her to touch.

Horse/equine therapy, also known as Hippotherapy, has been very helpful with my daughter in teaching her to express herself more. Not only that, but it allows her to have a love for animals that she didn’t have before; she had expressed fear when any animal approached her, whether that animal was calm or not.

She expresses a giddy, “Hi, Passion.” before reaching up to brush her fingertips across Passion’s nose. Passion, a gentle therapy horse on Harmony In Hooves Farm, stands up to her name. Her gentle, calm nature would allowing anyone a chance to pet her. Horses can be very therapeutic and just being around her can be very calming.

You can check out my other blog post for more information on how horses can be therapeutic for special needs children.

The following photos is of some artwork pieces found in Bernice Gardens in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Rewards


 

What does ‘reward’ mean to you?

 

In the autism world, there are many challenges that are faced every single day. Yet some of those challenges can be very rewarding, for both child and parent. I can think of many challenges we’ve both faced, that in the end, we were equally rewarded – her reward was achieving something out of the ordinary, achieving a goal, breaking out of a habit. For me it was seeing her do something and knowing that she knew she did it without having a complete meltdown, or after the meltdown was over, she saw that what she did, was actually okay.

The first rewarding moment that I can remember, was the first time she sat in a barber chair without assistance or without me holding her down while she got her hair cut. Yes, you read that right. For most children with autism, getting a haircut is a HUGE challenge. I had to sit in the chair with her in my lap, hold her legs and arms as still as possible, all the while listening to her scream and cry as the stylist cut her hair. It’s just a part of that sensory/autism area…someone different combing my hair, that isn’t my hairbrush, etc. The stylist having to spray their hair with water isn’t a big hit either. Plus, the scissors aren’t a favorite thing – something sharp and pointed, coming towards me…

I take her to a place where the hair stylist is familiar with children with special needs; she has a special needs child of her own. Not only that, but the place is very welcoming to all children, especially those with special needs. They can play with all kinds of neat and cool toys. Plus, the stylist doesn’t even have to cut their hair while they’re sitting in a chair. I walked in one day and saw her sweeping up hair from around the train table – the child was preoccupied with the train set, that that was all they were going to do. My daughter was the same way, I couldn’t get her away from the train set, or coax her to sit in the chair to get her hair cut, so the stylist proceeded to cut her hair from where my daughter played. No problems, whatsoever!

Maybe there’s a fear of sitting in a barber chair, who knows!

The last time I took my daughter to get her hair cut, she sat in the chair without a fuss. Cartoons was playing on the TV The stylist was able to find a cartoon my daughter liked on the TV, which kept her preoccupied long enough for the stylist to go to work. It was only when the cartoon ended did she realize what was going on and started to squirm, though the stylist quickly finished, yet did an amazing job. The stylist then rewarded my daughter with a toy of her choosing, for her being so brave and not making a fuss.

This little barber shop also has an awesome store where I can buy sensory toys for my daughter. I even purchased a few puzzles and a few dry erase alphabet mats for my daughter to learn tracing her ABC’s on.

My daughter now calls the barber shop, the train place, because of the train set kids can play with while waiting to get their hair cut. There’s also a dollhouse and a few sensory toys around the store where kids can freely play.

Book Reviews on Amazon Actually Help


It’s a hard life/job being a small time published author, especially when you first start out. You continue to market yourself time and time again, in hopes of getting your work out there. My first year as a published author went really well. I had quite a few book signing events, which led to being invited to other events where I was able to set up a table for more book signings. I’ve sold quite a few books by myself alone; through social media, emails, word of mouth, leaving postcards here and there. But that’s just small marketing. it takes a lot more effort, time, and money to really get noticed.

Recently, I’ve been doing some research on how to boost sales, broaden my marketing area, and strengthen my marketing skills. A very good friend of mine can tell you straight away, that I’m not very good with computers, yet I try and I am a quick learner.

Social media alone is the largest self-marketing tool that I know of, but word of mouth from readers can be a much bigger step in having your work noticed.

According to Brooke Warner in her Huffington Post blog post, “book reviews on Amazon are what carries it’s weight in getting more attention with Amazon.”

“After you hit 50 (ratings), you get more visibility on Amazon.”

In this line of work, I believe reviews from readers are extremely important. It helps me, the author, know that my work is being purchased, that my work is being seen by others. It also lets me know what people actually think of what I have written. It also lets me know that my work is getting out there.

It takes a lot of time and and a lot effort to put a book together and get it out on the market, yet it takes little effort to write up a review.

If you read a book and truly love it, be sure to let the author know. There’s many webpages out there where their work is being sold. Be kind and leave a quick review. I’m a big Goodreads user and love to rate author’s books. I also click which ones I’ve read, want to read, and have purchased. I then write up a short review on what I thought of each book I’ve read. And if I loved a particular book, I let them know.

I’ve even written reviews on books and posted them here on my blog, tagging their name and a link to where you can purchase that book or see other works by that author. This all helps us authors in many ways. It gets our name out there. Word of mouth goes a long way, it is a small part of marketing, and it does help the author. You never know when someone is actually reading that review; it helps make that decision for them to purchase that book.

According to a blog entry by Mike Briggs, on author Patricia Briggs’ writing, “…that pure, dumb luck plays a major role in this phase of the game.”

He’s right. Just by posting on my blog here, I’ve been able to bring attention to my work and what I do. I’ve had guess blog spots where I talked about what I do and how I got started and why. Other author’s, whom I have reviewed and shared their work here on my blog, have seen my posts and have thanked me.

Small steps can lead to big adventures, yet you have to take those small steps.

With all that said, if you have purchased my book and would like to leave a review, click here and it will take you to Amazon. Also, feel free to purchase a copy if you haven’t already. If you would like a personal signed copy made out to someone, click here. To rate my book on Goodreads, click here.

I will be finishing up my last round of edits on my last chapter of my young adult novel and will be sending it to my editor very, very soon. After the last draft is finalized, I will be sending it off to the publisher. As always, I’ll keep everyone posted.

Cheers!

More Snow and Another Snowman


My daughter and I have only been to school one day within these past two weeks. It continues to snow, or we receive more freezing rain, or it melts then freezes, making the roads slick, to which all school close for the day. Either way, I’m getting further behind in my classes due to there not being any…classes. Plus, it’s hard to get any homework done with my daughter at home. I mostly get it finished when I’m at school, sitting in the library, where I can sit in a quiet spot and work.

It isn’t easy being a single mom and a college student at the same time, especially during the winter. There’s only so much whining to go outside and play in the snow that a mom can take before she gives in. I’m trying to be the model college student and work on my research papers and other homework assignments, yet my inner child is screaming at me to listen to my daughter and go build a snowman.

Of course I couldn’t say no to that! My inner child jumps for joy and my daughter does the same. She rushes around the house looking for her hat, gloves, and shoes with all the excitement of a five year old. I proceed to change out of my pj’s and into some jeans.

Of course it was still snowing when we walked outside. It was also mushy and melting, though relatively slowly. Guess it was too warm for it to actually snow, yet it was still coming down.

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I was surprised to find that this round of snowfall was easy to work with and it didn’t take much effort for us to build a snowman. I showed her how to roll a small snowball around in the snow, allowing it to grow bigger and bigger until we had the size we needed for the bottom half of the snowman. After we had the middle portion and then the head placed into it’s proper spots, she found a stick that was then used for arms and a mouth. I found a rotten pecan that I busted open, placing the two halves as eyes, and the pecan as a nose.

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We stood back and looked at it. It was almost as tall as she was.

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Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.

Finally, she built a snowman


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This week, the weather has been rather crappy. We rarely get a good snow fall here in the southern part of Arkansas, so when it does snow I get as excited as my daughter does and we head outside to play. What we usually get almost every winter, is sleet and freezing rain, which leads to icy covered roads. Which also leads to people driving around like crazy trying to buy up all the bread and milk in every store. Twice, I almost got ran into from people driving erratically and the storm had not even arrived yet.

I had prepared for being kept indoors by stocking up our cabinets and freezers. So, if we don’t leave the house for several weeks, we’re good. If the electric goes out, that’s fine too, as I have a small charcoal grill and plenty of batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.

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A few years ago, or was it last year, a horrible snow storm hit us, knocking out our power. Then our giant Magnolia tree in our front yard was weighed down from all the ice and snow that it split in two; one giant limb covered the drive way, thankfully missing my car, and the other giant limb fell onto the wheelchair ramp, which blocked any method of getting the cars out. Our wonderful neighbors showed up with chainsaws and a few friends brought their trucks over and we all took care of our poor tree.

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Tuesday, it had snowed a few inches, that Wednesday morning my daughter and I went outside to play. I helped her build a snowman, as she’s been aching to do. I watched her run around the backyard, then watch her as she tossed a few handfuls of snow at me. Then after thirty minutes had elapsed we went back inside and proceeded to watch everything melt from our picture window in the living room. It was a great day and most of the snow and ice has melted away. Just in time too, as we’re to get another round of freezing rain tonight and tomorrow. Fun!

For now, it’s catch up time on homework, research papers, and novel edits.

Stay warm all!