Uplifting things going around FB yesterday.




“As we are holding our brothers and sisters in prayer who were either maimed or killed in this latest act of violence, let us remember two things. One, lets allow this event to be a catalyst for the activation of compassion in our hearts & souls & learn to live in the questions of “how can I serve? & “how can I help eliminate suffering”? And two, always remember that the All-good always wins and regardless of pin pricks of violence that are experienced by many on this planet the GOOD far exceeds the appearance of evil. Life always wins! Stay prayerful! Stay Grateful! -Peace.”

– Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Agape International Spiritual Center



Posted in appreciation, Love. | 8 Comments

Amazing Self Advocacy at the Dentist!

The kids had dental cleanings scheduled for after school today. Last time, Riley really wanted me to go back with her. This time, as I’ve done every time, I asked if she wanted me to join her? Or was she okay going by herself?

“I think I’m okay going back by myself,” she said.

I played it cool.

“Okay Riley. And if you want me for any reason, you just say, “Excuse me, but I’d like you to get my mom.”

She looked up from her People Magazine,

Okay? Okay. We’re good.

The hygienist came out and took her back. No prob.

I sat in the waiting room with Seth, basking.

When she was finished, she came out as if she’d always gone back to get her teeth cleaned without me. Totally nonchalant.

Can you take it?

Next it was Seth’s turn. He did want me to go back with him, so I went. On the way down the hall, the hygenist (who had never worked with Riley before) told me that on the way back to the room, Riley had advocated for herself saying, “I have autism, and I’m really sensitive so I’m going to ask you to be gentle.”

I am so glad she told me Riley said that. I felt giddy over it. She’s asked the assistants at the orthodontist’s to be gentle before, but never explained the whole thing. Never without her mom.

I thanked her and then told the hygienist about Seth’s tics, made sure she knew he can’t help it, yada, yada.

All was well and then, she tried to give him mint mouth wash. Little man don’t do mint. He hates it, says it burns his mouth. He stopped her and asked for another flavor and she said, sure. Evidently, Seth advocates for himself too.

It was awesome telling HT. He had the exact same proud, thrilled, oh-my-God-how-far-we’ve-come reaction. We love us some Riley. And Seth is the coolest as well.

It has been an extremely stressful time lately, getting the house ready to sell. I’ve been out of my mind with the pressure of getting it all done. But this, has made my day.

I can’t stop smiling.

*Sometime soon I’ll tell you about my talk at the dental school last Friday, a result of the post linked to above. The short story is they were nice and it went well.

Posted in appreciation, autism, PANDAS, PANS, special needs parenting, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Business of Baby

The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line, by Jennifer Margulis.

I will give this book to every newly pregnant woman I meet for the rest of my life. I believe in it so much I will champion it to anyone who will listen. I will go into book stores and I will move it to a prominent place of display, (in front of What to Expect), every chance I get. If you have children, no matter what the age, buy this book. Tell everyone you know. This is a VERY IMPORTANT book. 

I wish this book had been out when I was a new mommy. Oh…how much easier I would have breathed about so many things. If I’d read this book, maybe I would have trusted my own judgement more about my babies, rather than handing over my power. I would have enjoyed them more and worried less. I wouldn’t have felt so scared and alone when facing off with physicians I didn’t agree with.

You know that old parable about the roast with the ends cut off? And it goes on that way for generations until one day a woman asks her great grandmother, why do we cut off the ends off the roast? She thinks there is some important culinary reason behind it. The great grandmother says her mother didn’t have a pan big enough to fit it in.

So much of what we do as parents is just following along, not questioning. Doing what has always been done. In this book Margulis uses her critical thinking skills, her undercover investigational skills, and tons of scientific research to question things we commonly subject our babies to without even thinking about it. But unlike corporate America whose job it is to scare us into buying more products, this book is empowering. So empowering! You will worry less after reading it. You will trust yourself more. You will be a better parent. A thinking parent.

The Business of Baby is full of information. And a book with so much info could be dry, but not this book. It reads like a novel. Or a conversation with a friend. It is so interesting and engaging. It is full of personal stories. Margulis tackles the subjects of breast feeding, diapering practices, circumcision, vaccines, the corporate grip on our physicians, our ridiculously high infant death rate in the U.S., the overuse of ultrasounds, and overall fear mongering that gets us to buy products and agree to practices that are not in the best interest of our children.

She talks to physicians about what it’s really like to run a pediatric practice business. She talks to an outspoken vaccine proponent, who privately tells her he admires Jenny McCarthy and those who are questioning the over-vaccination of children in our country.

This book needed to be written. Margulis, a devoted mother of four and a beautiful writer stepped up to the plate and did a very thorough job. I am so happy for the generations of children that will benefit from it.

Jennifer Margulis dedicates The Business of Baby to her mother, the late Lynn Margulis. Lynn Margulis was a prominent scientist whose work “helped transform the study of evolution.” She bravely challenged the ideas of many other prominent scientists and since then, her theories have become “accepted evolutionary doctrine” according to The New York Times.

Jennifer Margulis is the perfect combination of someone who truly values science, having been steeped in it, and who is also entirely devoted to mothering. Like her mom, she is “sticking her neck out,” challenging ideas that have been widely and unquestioningly accepted. The Business of Baby will be an important part of the evolution of parenting as we currently know it, as reader by reader we begin to think, begin to question, begin to wake up.

Her mom would be so proud.

BUY THIS BOOK! Read this book. Give it as a baby shower gift. Tell your friends. Be part of the change.


* For more on author Jennifer Margulis, click here.

* Like the Facebook page for The Business of Baby here. 

Posted in appreciation, Parenting, Uncategorized, vaccines | 6 Comments


There is a writing workshop I really, really want to go to coming up later this month. There are two people presenting I really, really want to meet in person. I admire their work and have received good support from them, and I would like to support them back,  and I just would love to immerse myself in their positive ju-ju for a day or two.

Plus there is another HUGE writer I would love to hear speak. Plus, there is another smaller panel and one of the writers on it I would just be thrilled to meet in person. I love her work and what she is about and she could be a very influential contact for my next book, a spiritual book on parenting children with special needs.


It is over eight hours away. And I am bone tired. We traveled six hours by car two weekends ago because Todd’s mom is sick and I’ve barely got my footing since getting back. And we will likely be doing it again soon.


We are getting our house ready to sell. It is a TON of work. Clearing out. Painting. Hiring various contractors to do work we can’t do. Getting inspections taken care of. Meeting with realtors. Selling our stuff on Craigslist. Trying to get it “show” ready.


Todd has been working like a demon. He’s been doing tons of shifts that start at 6AM, and he is tired too. We’ve barely had a moment together in weeks, and I miss him.


I meet with some of my women writer friends here the weekend of the workshop, and this group is very important to me and I won’t be here in Cleveland much longer and I don’t want to miss it/them.


I’d miss chorus. And I won’t be here in Cleveland much longer and I don’t want to miss it/them.


I just have to cry uncle. I have to believe there is always another workshop. Always another ship coming in. Always Divine timing.

I could go to the workshop. But it would likely wipe me out. Writing workshops are great, but they are not relaxing. They are not retreats. They are often stressful, and emotionally draining, especially if you are doing real work. And why go if you’re not going to do the real work?

It’s all okay.

I can do everything I want in this life, just not all at the same time.

Damn it.

Posted in appreciation, Love., Uncategorized, writing | 5 Comments

Let the Dogs Speak!

I first met Marianne McKiernan when she contacted me to do a story for the news organization she works for in Denver. She is a service dog puppy raiser as well as a reporter and her dog-in-training, Rocket, had a mad crush on Jingle. In addition to training dogs for Canine Companions for Independence, Marianne is an animal intuitive and she has offered her services a couple of times when our pets have been out of sorts.

In her new book, Let the Dogs Speak! Puppies in Training Tell the Story of Canine Companions for Independence, Marianne tells the story of four dogs she’s raised and she does it…in the dogs’ voices…thus the title.  Their names are Hudson, Parker, Ross and Mars. I started to read the book, and then Seth hi-jacked it and I didn’t see it again for three weeks. He took it to school for his reading time there, and he read it every night before bed. He really enjoyed learning about each dog’s story and also the personality and idiosyncracies of the many dogs discussed in the book. For instance, one dog is phobic of butter. When his person takes a stick out of the fridge, he gets really scared. We all have our issues, right? One dog liked to use his bone as a skateboard. One dog’s hobbies included rolling in dead snake.

I enjoyed learning more about what goes into the process of raising a service dog. I had an idea, probably a better idea than most, but I didn’t really know the extent of it.  In addition to the extensive work puppy raisers like Marianne and her husband John put in, the dogs at Canine Companions go through a rigorous program with prison inmates as well (Jingle also did this in her program with 4 Paws for Ability). As one of the dogs in the book states, “It takes a village to raise a service dog!”

Let the Dogs Speak! would be a perfect book for anyone who is considering obtaining a service dog. It would be especially soothing and wonderful and exciting to read for anyone who is actively waiting on a service dog. It would also be great reading for anyone who is considering being a puppy raiser for a service dog program. But truly, anyone who loves dogs is sure to get a kick out of it. Every question you ever had about service dogs and their role in society is covered.

You just can’t imagine the dedication and commitment on the part of puppy raisers like Marianne. They take puppy after puppy, love them, work with them, and then let them go, time after time. It takes a special kind of person to make that kind of committment and sacrifice.

On behalf of our family and those like us, we thank you Marianne, and we’re so appreciative for your willingness to do the beautiful work you do.

We are glad you Let the Dogs Speak! and we are so blessed to call you friend.

Marianne is busy raising Jeb, puppy #9, almost 8 months old.  Rocket, #8, is at Advanced Training and he’s a hopeful for a May graduation. Even after all the hard work and love put in, not every dog makes it through the program. It is nerve wracking for Marianne right up until the day of graduation.

Jeb is continuing Marianne’s DogBlog at The Denver

She says she gets more out of CCI than she puts into it, and feels it is a pleasure and a privilege to raise these dogs.

Posted in appreciation, Dog Page, dogs, Love., Service dogs, special needs, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Be Kind for Autism Awareness

Parent teacher conferences at Seth’s preschool. We are new to town. I don’t have a local emergency contact person. We’ve only been here a couple of months and it’s all I can do to tend to my two children. One with autism. I don’t get to “do coffee” or hang out with the other preschool moms, chit chatting away, making friends and emergency contacts. I’m busy with doctor appointments, and therapies, and making every morsel my family eats from scratch in order to follow The Specific Carb Diet to a T. I don’t know it yet, but my health is about to take a dive. Adrenal fatigue. Thyroid.

I don’t have anyone to leave my kids with for this 20 minute conference. But the conference is essential. Mandatory. I noted previously the secretary’s office has a train table, a basket of toys and books. I’m sure it will be alright. I’ll be just down the hall. They play nice together. Nothing should set Riley off here.

The secretary says, “Yes, yes of course! They are darling! Look at them!” I let out my breath. I never ask for help. I hate asking for help. But she’s so gracious. I get a lump in my throat.

Seth’s teachers love him. They say he’s a doll. In and out. No dilly-dallying. I’m on my way.

Back in the office, the director is there. She takes me aside and in no uncertain terms tells me this is not a daycare. I can’t be leaving my kids with the secretary. She has work to do. If she lets me do this, then everyone will do this, and no work will get done.

I feel punched in the stomach. I have just moved here. I don’t know anyone. No emergency contact. I moved here for my older child who has autism. I am trying so hard. I am buckling with the strain of the last few years.

I asked for help, one time. For twenty minutes.

Tears welled in my eyes and I willed myself not to cry. I didn’t cry. I wouldn’t look at her. I took each child by the hand and walked briskly down the hall.

She approached me the next day. She felt terrible. Wanted me to assuage her guilt. I couldn’t get on her bad side. For Seth. He deserved some normalcy in his life. I was polite.

This is autism.

Posted in appreciation, autism, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Tallest Woman in the World With a Tail

I facilitate a book group for kids age 10-12, and Friday we discussed Betti on the High Wire. I loved the book so much. It is about a girl in a war torn country who gets adopted by American parents. She is a smart, brave, orphan girl. She is a survivor. She is also a story teller.

Betti is one of many “leftover” kids who lives in an abandoned circus camp. One of the stories she often tells is of her parents, The Tallest Woman in the World With a Tail, and her father…the Alligator Man. She longs for the day they come find her.  

I won’t spoil the book for you, but wanted to share something interesting. Out of the five kids (with me making six) all of us had a different picture in our heads of what kind of tail Betti’s mom had.

I envisioned an alligator tail. One child pictured a fox’s tail. One child thought it was a monkey tail. One child envisioned a cat’s tail. Another a lion. Another, a dog’s tail.

Isn’t that something? All of us read the exact same sentences. Each of us envisioned something completely different.

The same could be said for Betti. The author deliberately doesn’t tell you what country she is from and only gives certain physical characteristics. One child thought Betti was blond with a French accent. Some thought she was likely Asian. Of course none of us knew for sure.

Perception is an individual thing.

This book group for 10-12 year olds stays on task better than any adult book group I’ve been part of. Maybe it’s because there is no wine? Such thoughtful discussions we have. 

Two more meetings before our move. Two more books.

We’re really going to miss these wonderful reader/friends. Each with a perspective as unique as Betti’s mother’s imagined tail.

Posted in appreciation, Love., Uncategorized | 6 Comments


Yesterday I was so flat out exhausted. Todd knew it and offered to take over morning routine today so I could sleep. We’re good that way. I think it is one of the reasons our marriage is strong. We intuit when the other one needs help, validation, sleep. We do our best to give it to the other one. Whoever needs it most.

So I was attempting to sleep in, when my eyes popped open. Easter. It’s the Thursday before Easter, last day before break and my daughter goes to Catholic school. It’s her first year there.

Being a very sensitive child myself, I remember being traumatized by the story of the crucifixion. Why would God allow that to happen to His son? And, why would God give a crap about me if He didn’t bother to help Jesus? Riley is even more sensitive and certainly more literal than I was. We needed to talk. I hopped out of bed, rubbed my eyes and went into her very pink bedroom and shimmied under her covers. She stood there in her uniform, brushing her long hair in front of the full length mirror.

“Riley, they are going to be talking about Easter today, and they are going to be talking about the crucifixion and I want to offer you something to think about when you are hearing all of this.” She knows the crucifixion story, of course, but it hasn’t been hammered into her skull all her life. It’s been on the periphery. “God loves you” is mostly what she’s been told. It’s served her little sensitive Aspergian heart well over the last 12 years.

She stopped brushing and looked at me.

“The real story of Easter, the message of Jesus, is the resurrection. Beaten, tortured, Jesus said, Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

She gives me a beautiful, soft smile.

I continue, “On the cross, Jesus had every reason to hate, but he didn’t. He saw only love. He saw only love in everyone, even those who ridiculed him. Even those who were actively killing him. He was so tapped into God, he knew so adamantly Who He Was that nothing could make him stop loving. And he said he wasn’t special. He said we all have this power inside us.”

My throat tightens. I am not into religion, but Jesus moves me. He does. The love.

“The real story of Easter is that love cannot be killed. That’s why we’re still talking about Jesus today. The real story is the resurrection.”

Riley tipped her head to the side and thought about this for a moment.

“Thank you for telling me that, Mom,” she said.

In the kitchen while eating breakfast she reiterated our conversation to Todd.

“Nothing can kill love.”


Now, I can rest.

Posted in appreciation, Love., Parenting, spirituality, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I have met brave women who are exploring the outer edge of human possibility, with no history to guide them, and with a courage to make themselves vulnerable that I find moving beyond words. – Gloria Steinem

*Happy Birthday week Gloria Steinem.


Posted in appreciation, feminism, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Cheryl Strayed on Dancing With the Stars?

The new season of Dancing With the Stars started this week. If you are new here, you might not know how much it means to us, so yes…I’m going to link to this post. I’ve linked to it a million times before and I don’t care who knows it. I love my Hot Toddy.

Anyway…our whole family loves DWTS. Ask us anything about the Rumba, the Cha-Cha, the Waltz, and now Contemporary. We’re experts, in our own minds. We’ll be walking through Target, and Riley will say of the music playing overhead, “This would be a good song for the Quick Step.” I’ll tilt my head, listen and nod. She’s right. She’s always right.

So at the dinner table last night we were talking about this first week of the new season. We all agreed the judges were too hard on Andy Dick. We all thought his dance was charming and entertaining. It was unexpected for me because I didn’t intend on liking him. I always unexpectedly like someone. Happens every season.

We discussed the other stars and the pros. No eye candy Maxim Chmerkovskiy this season. That’s okay, because his brother Val is there and he is not only dreamy…but sensitive. #iloveval

We discussed who we would want to see on the show in the future, and I said I would like to see a literary star. Wouldn’t that do great things for books? For literacy? Why are only athletes and actors and reality show people stars?

“Cheryl Strayed would be perfect,” I said.

And the kids wanted to know who Cheryl Strayed was. And so we had a nice discussion about Wild, and about The Pacific Crest Trail as we ate our tacos.

I don’t know Cheryl, but I have friends who know her. I’m wondering if she would be at all interested?

“I should start a Facebook page to campaign for Cheryl Strayed to be on Dancing With the Stars next year!” I say. “I want a writer to be a freaking star, and who’s hotter than Cheryl Strayed right now?”

Todd looks up from his plate, and says, “Of course, that might be borderline stalking.”

He can’t possibly get it.

He’s not that into books.

Posted in appreciation, dancing, Dancing With the Stars, marriage, Uncategorized, writing | 9 Comments

Healing Service with Dr. Nemeh

Last Sunday we attended a healing service with Dr. Issam Nemeh. They let the people with children go first and thank God. As we sat listening to his opening talk, Riley became very  agitated. She started to fidget in her seat and kind of stomp in her chair. I asked her to trade seats with Seth so she could be next to me and did what I could to calm her. I stroked her hair. I rubbed her arm. Two of the tools in my bag of tricks. Teary, she whispered, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m so tired.” She was up late the night before and daylight savings time had happened on top of that. Todd was working nights last week so he was very tired too.

I assured her, she was okay. Everything was okay. She calmed down, head on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry Mom.”

“You’re okay.”

When we got up in the prayer line, Riley was first. Dr. Nemeh put his hands on her and asked me if she’d been in an accident. He said there was a problem with her spine. I told him no. No accident. He prayed over her and rearranged her shoulders and felt her spine and asked me again, “Are you sure she’s not had an injury?” I said, “Perhaps a birth injury?” And he nodded confirmation. That could be it. Riley tried to get out for 26 hours, ramming her head into my pelvis the whole time, before a c-section was performed. I told him she has anxiety and he said it is from her spine being out place. He prayed and prayed and he smiled and he told me what Todd has always known and what I have tried to know, he said, this girl is going to be fine.

Next, he prayed over me. I had all these things I wanted to tell him but I let it go and just accepted the prayer, let the love wash over me, Thy will be done. Help me be what I came here to be. I felt blank, and felt total peace and quickly it was done.

Seth was next. He put his hands on Seth’s shoulders and suddenly smiled a huge grin, feeling Seth’s energy.  Seth tipped his head back and closed his eyes with a gentle smile of total surrender on his face. I meant to take off his hat, but I forgot, so there he was with his hat on.  Totally loose. With his hands on Seth’s shoulders, Dr. Nemeh looked at Todd and said, “This is a very good boy.” He got who he was, instantly. It is hugely validating when someone sees, truly sees your child. There is something beautiful and gentle in Seth, and when other people are beautiful and gentle, they recognize it. Seth just stood there, eyes closed, face up, smiling….accepting the prayer. Hit me doctor, I’m all yours.

Then it was Todd’s turn. Dr. Nemeh prayed over him. Riley and Seth and I prayed for Todd too. God bless this good man. Help him be what he came here to be.

And then it was over. We were free to leave and though I would have loved to hang out in that sacred vibe all day, Todd had not slept yet. We needed to get him home and to bed.

It feels good to be prayed for.

It felt familiar, like a very old memory. The priest at the Episcopal church I attended as a child used to bless all the children individually when they accompanied their parents to the altar for communion. He took his time, and was very reverent and you felt he really cared.

It felt like that.

One week later, Seth still has tics, but they are not acute right now. Riley has not had much anxiety. In fact writing this, I can’t think of a moment in the last week where she had a hard time. Todd is content and sweet as ever. It would be lying to say I have not had a big energetic shift over the last week. I hadn’t thought about it ’til now, hadn’t made any connection to being prayed for, but there it is. I have recommitted to my book and did the thing I’ve been so scared to do my entire life. I asked for help. If that’s not a miracle I don’t know what is.

And the people I asked said, “Yes. We will help you. We’d be happy to. Of course.”


* If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Nemeh read Miracles Every Day by Maura Poston Zagrans. I did a short review on my BILK page. Book # 6 on the list.


Posted in appreciation, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing | 6 Comments

Thinking About Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar

A brilliant writer/Ph.D/published author/professional editor called me yesterday. One I deeply respect. She told me she’d just read Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, and wanted to know why I was not promoting it. She loved it (to put it mildly, it’s almost embarrassing the gushing things she said about it). She thinks I should be getting it out there, trying to sell it more. She said she hated the back cover, it’s all caps and looks unprofessional, and she said there are five typos, but she loved it anyway. She’s the type of super detailed, super editor and writerly writer I feel most intimidated by. I’m still absorbing the things she said and am flabbergasted she took time out of her busy day to call me.

I don’t know what to do with this information. I’d kind of given up on my book. I was convinced it was amateur, and that maybe I wasn’t a real writer.

Initial reactions to the book from many people in my life were curious. Some were plain afraid to read it and didn’t. Some of the people closest to me read it and then didn’t mention it. So of course I took that to mean it sucked. Others who did read it said things like, “Oh it was so difficult to read,” or “Oh it was so painful to read,” or “I don’t usually read that kind of book,” and it filled me with shame. I felt guilty to have burdened them with my story.

The woman I spoke with yesterday said just because something might be difficult to read, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t read it. She said she wants everyone to read it. She thinks it has the potential to help a lot of people, particularly kids growing up in alcoholic homes. She freaking compared it to Angela’s Ashes. And then I fainted.

In Janurary 2012 I wrote a guest post for Lisa Romeo’s blog (which I regretted one second after submitting to her…because it was whiney and cowardly and passive aggressive). In it I discussed how disappointed I was that many writers I know didn’t take up the cause for my book.  I wondered if it was a bias against self-publishing.

My gramma used to say, “When you point your finger at someone else you have three pointing back at yourself.”

The true thing is I didn’t take up the cause for my book. IT WAS ME. I was fearful of asking for help. I was afraid of being rejected.

And I as much as I said the book was about releasing shame, I had a long way to go, because I was still ashamed, still scared of burdening people with my story.

We talked for an hour. She gave me so much to think about.

What a generous gift.

Posted in adult children of alcoholics, appreciation, Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, memoir, Uncategorized, writing | 29 Comments

Before the Healing Service

On Sunday we went to a healing service with Dr. Issam Nemeh. I recently read the book Miracles Every Day and wanted to experience his prayer for our family in person.

Earlier that morning, as we were getting ready, Seth asked, “Will he help with my PANDAS?”

“I don’t know, Seth. It’s kind of a Thy will be done thing. We don’t know spiritually what your PANDAS is here for. Are you to be cured? To be a testament of cure being possible? Are you to be a teacher with it? Will you serve many others because you have these tics, or are you to be done with them? What did your soul come here to do? I can’t say. All I can say is be open.”

Riley says, “Mom, he isn’t going to just cure anything instantly.”

I said, “Actually he’s done plenty of that. There is documentation of physical changes, before and after x-rays. Tumors gone. Diseases healed. Lab tests to prove it.”

“I’m sorry to be skeptical,” she says, raising her eyebrows.

“It is okay if you are skeptical. I just ask that you join us, and that you be respectful.”

She nods, okay.

I add, “I’m never going to tell you what to think.”

Riley replies sincerely,

“Thank you.”

Posted in appreciation, Love., Parenting, Uncategorized | 5 Comments


My mom had twins in 1983 when I was 15. We used cloth diapers for a while. It was disgusting. It was the old rectangle of a diaper, safety pins, with rubber pants on top. They leaked. They stunk. You had to rinse them in the toilet, and then stick them in a pail of soapy/shitty water reeking in the bathroom until laundering them. She was attempting to breast feed twins (which brought us to five kids). She had a husband that never changed a diaper once or ever did a load of laundry in his life. Cloth diapers were a herculean effort. The relief I felt when God-knows-who donated disposable diapers to us! My 15 year old “second-mother” self rejoiced.

When HT and I started our own family, I knew there was a “movement” toward cloth diapers, vaguely, peripherally. I knew it was better for the environment, obviously. But I had a really hard baby. The thought of adding more work to my life was heart sinking. And I thought about all the toxins being pumped into our environment from corporate America with no consequences. I felt the teeny bit I might help the environment by diapering my baby in cloth was a joke. And I resented the guilt trip being put on women to use cloth diapers. I saw it as another way to keep women so busy they wouldn’t have time to truly look at disparities in the world, like unequal pay for equal work, etc. I’d read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. This was just the next chapter. Cloth diapers = voluntary oppression. That’s what I thought.

The idea of toxins actually in the diapers, seeping into my baby’s skin? Now, that didn’t occur to me. The idea that they actually make cloth diapers these days that are functional….I did not know that. The fact that “child centered” (aka delayed) toileting promoted by a very famous and beloved pediatrician sounded so crunchy granola, but was really a well thought out campaign to sell more diapers for more years? Nope. It wouldn’t have occurred to me. (Not that it would have mattered because potty training for kids on the spectrum is just a whole other ball game).

I’m reading an advanced release copy of The Business of Baby by Jennifer Margulis. Oh how I wish this book had been out when I was a new mommy. Oh…the heartache it will save so many new parents in the future! She covers many topics of great concern to me, and others I had not put much thought into. Like diapers. I’ll be doing a real blog post/review/interview something or other on this book next month, but I just wanted to write this little bit about the diapers while it is fresh (hee-hee)because it illustrates that we are always learning and always growing. I mean, we can be, if we’re open.

Sometimes I feel sad about my lack of professional achievements over the last decade. But when I think about where I was when I started this parenting journey and how my consciousness has evolved, I can’t honestly feel unaccomplished. I’ve studied more as a mother than I ever did as a student (and not to brag, but I graduated college with high honors). The stakes are higher. I know so much more now.

Full-soul parenting.

And I’m not the only one. So many of us are waking up, and learning to trust our own Inner Guidance. Books like this are making it into the mainstream publishing world. I love it. I want to see The Business of Baby outsell “What to Expect.” I really do.

Knowledge is power.

New parents are getting smarter. They’re getting more power.

Can you feel it? I do.

And it makes my heart sing.

Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

When I was growing something wild and unruly….

I miss the Dixie Chicks. The kids and I have been listening to their CD’s in the car lately and my heart just soars with every song.

I read somewhere recently that Natalie Maines said she doesn’t think the Dixie Chicks will get back together. She kind of gave up, saying their last tour wasn’t a success because they lost their huge country music fan base in the whole calling out G.W. on his shit moment, and she’d rather go out on a high note than sputter.

What about the true fans that weren’t necessarily country music fans to begin with, but were Dixie Chick fans through and through? Don’t we matter? Aren’t we enough?


The Dixie Chicks to me represent a time in my life when I was falling in love. Big love. It was the first time I let someone truly care for me. Cowboy Take Me Away (pharmacist, take me away…it works). I had gone back to school for nursing. I was leaving behind a lifetime of pain and starting to fly. I searched that summer for a pair of cowboy boots, and after weeks of looking, I found them. Black. Had to drive an hour to find the right ones.

The Dixie Chicks are the soundtrack of that time in my life.

Todd convinced me to stop going at a crazy pace (I was on track to become a nurse in one year through an accelerated bacclaeurate program) and enjoy our first year of being married. It wouldn’t matter down the road if I completed it in one year or two. Don’t miss our first year. I dropped back to regular time and felt totally sinful for not being stressed to the hilt. Contentment? A concept so foreign to me. I made him dinners. We spoiled our puppy. For the first time in my life, I felt relaxed, and beautiful.

Oh those early years! I loved Natalie Maines and her feisty “let it rip” in your face, attitude. I could relate to that. I loved the soulful ballads and I loved the balls to the wall songs. Hole in my Head. Sin Wagon! Their humor, Good-bye Earl. Emily with her banjo was OMG before OMG. Martie commanding emotions with her fiddle more than words ever could. Natalie’s comment a few years later on the verge of the Iraq war didn’t surprise me. I didn’t see why it was such a big deal. It just got turned into this huge propaganda moment by the war machine and the un-thinkers in the country music world. Part of me is like, So what Natalie? Where’s your fight? Why do you care? Screw them.

And part of me knows that people like Natalie, such big big personalities are often very sensitive on the inside. The toll the whole thing took on her, had to be immeasurable.

She’s given us enough already, even if she never sings another note. She owes no one anything.

But I miss them. I miss their unparalleled synergy and talent.

I took it for granted at the time.

I’ll forever be appreciative to The Dixie Chicks for accompanying that sweet blip of time in my life when my only responsibilty was to study a bit, make a nice dinner for my man, and let him love me.


Posted in Love., marriage, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

What’s Been Cookin’

So the big news is…. we are moving. We are doing this so Riley can attend a very specific kind of school. It’s not the first time we have moved for a school, and it is less scary this time around. We know if it doesn’t work out, there are always other options.

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind, researching the school, taking a trip south with Riley to have her assessed. Checking out schools for Seth. Getting Todd’s resume out. Studying for my nursing boards (tuition for two private schools in our near future). Preparing to sell our house. Breaking the news to beloved friends, and to the current schools. And the everyday business of life on top of that.

We are hoping all the vitamin D from the sunshine will help boost Seth’s immune system.

We will miss so many people in Cleveland. Truly.

We will not miss the snow. Having grown up in NY, and having spent most of our adult years in snow states, we are more than happy to go somewhere warm. Yippee will be thrilled.

So many details still unsettled, but we’re going. We put a non-refundable deposit down for Riley’s school. In our estimation, this school could mean the difference for an independent life for Riley, or not. We have always, and continue to believe in our girl. We love the places she’s taken us and look forward to this newest adventure.

We leave at the end of the school year, and will get settled over the summer. I don’t think I’ll be blogging once we get there. When we move it seems like the logical time to stop. For one, I’ll surely be very busy. For two, it just keeps getting more clear that I can’t write about the kids so much anymore, now that they are getting older. When I started blogging they were teeny. Blogging was pretty new. My writing teacher said, “write what you know,” and truly my family was my life. They were what I was up to. They were what I knew. And they still are. But it is different now.

Maybe I’ll eventually start a new blog. An anonymous one? Or one just about Hot Toddy? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind at all. Or a blog about returning to nursing after a ten year hiatus? Or maybe I’ll actually finish that inspirational book I’ve been working on. I don’t know. I’m not done here yet at Full-Soul-Ahead, but the writing, as they say, is on the wall.

I stopped this blog once before, and then regretted it. I wasn’t ready. In some ways I was running away from a few things back then. My book, for one. And a couple of other things I won’t mention now. This time it feels like I’m going toward.

I don’t see myself writing a grand finale like I did last time(I’ve felt totally sheepish about that since I started again in 2011). It will be a much quieter exit.

It feels like the right thing to do.

But not just yet.

Posted in appreciation, Uncategorized | 16 Comments


I’ve not been blogging much because my head is spinning and I can’t keep up with all that is going on. We are fine. All is well. Big changes underway. Will write when I come up for air. Sorry to be so cryptic.

All love.


Posted in appreciation, Love., Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Lego Therapy

Our dining room table is perpetually covered in Lego. There is also a table in Seth’s room, and they often overflow the table and creep across his floor. There are several storage bins but the Lego can’t seem to stay in them. It is the only present he wants for Christmas, birthday, etc. Any gift card he receives, or money from his grandparents goes toward buying more Lego.

Several months back, he was having a really hard time sleeping at night. We think it is part of PANS/PANDAS because he’d never had a problem before, and it was tied to great anxiety. We had compassion for him. But we wanted him to go to sleep. Both because his tics are so much worse when he is tired, and also because at the end of a long day….Todd and I need to relax. We need to reconnect. We might need to have a gluten free pizza. Or popcorn. We need non-kid time. No offense to any kids of mine who might be reading this, but it’s true. Couples need couple time.

The only thing worse than having a kid you’ve already tucked in come out several times, is sending him to bed fed up with him. Especially when he is afraid and can’t help it.

So we came up with a plan.

“Seth we know this fear isn’t really you, it’s PANDAS playing tricks with you, but we want to trick it back. We want to see how powerful your mind is. So when you think fearful thoughts, we want you to think of a Lego mini-figure. See if you can harness your thoughts by thinking of something you love. And if you do this for a whole week, you will get a real mini-figure.”

He is always welcome to come out if he truly needs to, and we promise we will not be upset with him. We agree to come check on him every 16 minutes, until he is asleep, and usually he’s asleep by the second check.

The boy has not come out once after being tucked in, since August. On Wednesdays, he goes to what is now “the mini-figure drawer” in the kitchen, and takes out what’s due him. Some look at it as a bribe, but I don’t. I think he’s learned he can get through a fear. And yes, he’s milking it. He could totally do it without the mini-figure at this point, but what’s it hurting? Call it what you want but for three bucks a week, it is worth it to us. The kid is an angel and never asks for a thing. I can live with giving him a weekly mini-figure.

We’ve had to move to bigger measures for his fear of fire drills and lock down drills at school. Using the same concept, we are now keeping a ten dollar Lego on hand (it sits in the china cabinet, where he can see it through the glass). He knows if there is a drill at school, when he gets home that day….the coveted Lego in the cabinet will be all his.  Whereas before he was completely terrified, he now has a positive association with the drills. He hears the drill, his body reacts in fear, but a second later, he’s thinking about the Lego. It’s working. I am even able to joke with him on the way to school saying, “I sure hope there is a drill today!” And he grins, knowing the Lego is home awaiting him.

I spoke with the therapist we took him to about all of this, to make sure we weren’t inadvertently screwing him up, and she said no. It is classic conditioning. She thought it was good. One day he will not need a Lego. One day he will connect the dots and know it is not the Lego helping him, but his thoughts about the Lego. But for now, it’s getting him through. One set of fears at a time. 

Posted in PANDAS, PANS, Parenting, Uncategorized | 12 Comments


At breakfast this morning Riley said, “I don’t think there’s ever been anyone who didn’t like Jingle.”

Seth paused while eating his peanut butter toast and said, “I don’t think there’s ever been anyone Jingle didn’t like.”

Posted in dogs, dogs and kids, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Between Sleep and Waking

Standing beside his bed, in the dim of his nightlight, I think.

Do I wake him? His sister has a snow day, but his school has not called it off. I watch him sleep. His body peaceful. Calm. Slow breathing. His skin fair. His dark eyebrows contrasting against his blond hair. Bending over I squint to watch his lids, to determine if he is dreaming. I think he is.

What are you dreaming about little man?

If I send him to school he won’t be thinking about the cats all day. He’s allergic. We need to find new homes for them. Two nights now he’s cried, brokenhearted. I run my fingers through his hair and he rouses. Just a bit.

Slowly he rises up from layers of sleep, until the tipping point is reached, more awake than asleep.

At precisely this moment, comes the first vocal tic of the day.


*Seth, age four, with his beloved cat Sam.

Posted in PANDAS, PANS, Uncategorized | 8 Comments