What is your passion, mamas?

As I write this post, my nose is dripping in goo. My son is upstairs reading the fourth book of the Harry Potter series. My daughter is selling “cootie catchers” (these paper crafts that tell the future) on the corner with her friend Miss L.

Regarding my nose, it is awful to be sick and working full-time. But hey, the bright side is that Pip made me a pot of coffee before bounding out the house and Stink brought me water. My husband brought me two biscottsi and this laptop. My living room is clean and the birds are chirping! Plus two days a week I work from home. I am pretty darn lucky.

Regarding my son and his books, I’m thrilled he likes them so much. Library day is still one of his favorite exursions. I was going to write you that when he reads he doesn’t tic, but he just let out a loudish kind of exhale. I am not a fan, but he’s happy, so I must be, too. (It’s not crazy relentless unless he’s playing videos. Will I not let him play videos? No. Two hours/day on weekends is fine.)

I’m not going to fix those noises today, so I’m going to fix my mind toward gratitude. (Go ahead, slap me. I’m annoying as hell sometimes with my PollyAnna diatribe. But you should try moving toward this if you’re in a funk. If you don’t like being grateful, you can always restore yourself back to your misery.)

Regarding my daughter selling cootie catchers on street corners, Miss L’s mom is with them. And seriously, that kid makes cash — about 10 bucks each time drags the cart out and sets up shop. “Mommy, being a kid is great!” she says. “People give us stuff just because they think we are cute!”

There’s a fine line between cute 9-year-old and curvy pre-tween, so let’s just say her cootie catcher street corner days will be over soon. But guess who else isn’t going to be young forever? Yup, none other than my Stink. He’ll be 12 in January. I might not miss the tics when they finally go into remission in his late teens, but I’ll sure miss his spirit. He is pure joy and outrageous fun.

I write this because my job right now is not easy. I’m doing all this tech stuff I’m not a fan of. I commute a LONG way. I’m tired. But the deal is, it’s where I need to be right now while my husband grows his business. It’s teaching me that no one has died from a difficult employment gig. And, well, I don’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhoods because I was so caught up in what wasn’t working: tics, job stress, life changes at home.

Summer is coming. What will I be doing? Beach Fridays with the kids when I get out of work at 2. Long days at the local public pool. A camping excursion with the hubby and babies where we’ll over eat, over hike, get filthy dirty and enjoy some laughs.

Oh, and I’m going to write. Yup, I’m getting my portfolio up online and going to get back freelance writing again. If my book sells, great. If it doesn’t, I can still do the writing. Why? Because when I don’t, I feel cranky and tired and suddenly the tics are SO MUCH BIGGER than they need to be. My husband is SO MUCH MORE ANNOYING and my daughter is WAAAAY TOO DEMANDING. Writing gives me hope, and hope trumps crap every single time.

What about you? What do you do for a living? Do you work raising babies or work in an office? What is your passion? And the bigger question, are you pursuing it? I want to know. Leave a comment and let me know how I can encourage you.

Time for a blog hop

I bring this long fast to an end to talk about something dear to my heart. No, not tics! Writing!

Not only did I just finish a second rewrite of my book where it’s actually being considered by some pretty decent agencies (Squeeeeeel!) but a lovely writer named Lorraine Devon Wilke asked me to participate in her Blog Hop.

What is this Blog Hop, you ask?

A Blog Hop is where a writer refers her followers back to other fabulous voices in the online community. I’m a big fan of supporting other writers, especially women, so I said ‘Yes’ to the opportunity to play.

To start with, let me give some love back to Lorraine!

Lorraine Devon Wilke is a creative hyphenate currently enjoying her three-ring circus of writing, photography, and music. She’s a longtime HuffingtonPost contributor, a successful screenwriter, and a widely published essayist; she curates her fine art photography site, as well as her personal blog at Rock+Paper+Music, and her original CD, Somewhere On the Way, can be found at CDBaby.com and ITunes. But her latest “big adventure” is the launch of her first novel, After the Sucker Punchat Amazon … stop in for a copy! Check www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for links and information, www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com for updates and links for her book, and stop by her blog at www.rockpapermusic.com for her own answers to these questions!

Secondly, here are a few questions I was asked to answer. I will ask the same of two other writers I bring into this:

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Instructional tools from Social Thinking: A Teacher’s Review

Ken Shyminskya former vice president of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, draws upon his personal experiences as an teacher and student with Tourette Syndrome to help children with TS and related disorders. He also has Tourette himself and is the founder of the website Neurologically Gifted.

Social skills and social thinking are not easy for children who have neurological disorder.  Careful and intense instruction can help a child learn these skills which will improve their capacity to learn in all areas.

Before I give my support to these instructional tools, I’d like to state that I have no financial interests in this resource and receive nothing from the author or publisher.  I’ve merely used the resource and found it to be an effective tool for teaching children with behavior challenges to make positive changes in their lives.  In fact, I was so impressed with the resources, that I purchased a set for my stepson’s (self-contained behavior) classroom teacher. Using the resources together, we were able to establish common language and understanding to support my stepson’s profound behavior challenges at school and at home.

Profoundly challenged by TS, OCD and ADHD, my stepson had absolutely no self-regulation skills.  He lived his entire 10 years (at that time) “in the moment” that he was experiencing.  He’d hyper-focus on himself only, and gave absolutely no thought to future or past events or to others in any given situation.

Even if he was given candy, it would be forgotten (forever more) as soon as it was out of his sight.  He did not connect responses of other people to past events or behaviours.  Without any ability to control himself, he was unaware of “cause and effect“.  He didn’t even see “the effect”. He’d wonder why he was in trouble, react with violence, be consequenced, then move on (without learning anything to prevent recurrences).

As a special education teacher with more than 20 years of teaching experience, I can confidently state that these resources were tremendously helpful.  When challenging behaviors arose, my family members were able to identify the behavior (“You’re seem to have a bit of a Glassman acting in you” or “I’m sorry, that was a total Topic Twistermeister”).

Although there are a number of resources listed on the website, my spouse and I selected two story booklets and a teacher’s resource.  The first booklet is titled, “”You are a Social Detective”, the second is titled, Superflex”, and the teacher resource is titled, “Superflex… A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum.”

Instructional Thinking Superflex Curriculum: Neurologically Gifted Social Thinking

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Hey! You have other kids, you know!

As many of you readers know, I have a little girl I refer to as Pip. She’s a year behind Stink in school. She pretty much worships the ground her brother walks on. This includes not wanting to give up sharing a room with him, laughing until her eyes pop out of her sockets at him, and giving a speech at school about why “Stink is My Hero.”

None of her adoration comes from feeling sorry for his tics. Quite the contrary, she just finds him hysterical because, well, he is.

I write this because I’ve had this huge shift lately in how I talk about my son. While yes, he does tic (and with that comes some special accommodations like diet and the whole “he has TS” speeches for new play dates and school years) he is not really what I’d consider special needs. There’s not a darn thing wrong with his academic or social life.

You know who does have special needs more and more? My daughter.

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There’s more to life than just TS

In his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller chronicles his journey from apathy to outrageous purpose and joy. Per the website link above:

After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty and meaning.

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story, to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. Through heart-wrenching honesty and hilarious self-inspection, Donald Miller takes readers through the life that emerges when it turns from boring reality into meaningful narrative.

Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a nonprofit with a passionate cause. Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” is a rare celebration of the beauty of life.

In reflecting yet again on this book, I am convicted in the truth our own life stories must be full of heroes, journeys and daring adventures. Unlike the movies, however, we don’t get to sit back from the comfort of our chairs and watch the hero. We get to be the hero, and that’s something entirely different, isn’t it?

Watching the hero you get to say, “Oh, wow, that action scene was epic! The special effects were awesome, and hair stayed perfectly coiffed, even during the knife fight!”

When you are the hero, suddenly the action is much more intense. You can’t rely on a trail guide. You have to bring your blade, cut down branches, forge new paths, cross scary rivers, and go face-to-face with giants. That’s not thrilling and inspiring. It’s not inspiring. It’s downright terrifying.

But mamas, isn’t this what makes you a hero in your child’s life? Continue reading