Monday, April 2, 2012

Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month 2012

I am asked at every interview, every book signing, each speaking engagement my thoughts on what causes autism.  I am very careful when answering this question.  People are looking for an answer that is theory not fact at this time where autism is concerned. People are desperate for something to grasp on to for guidance, this statement applies to people who are connected to autism and people wishing to start a family and have fears.  It is a slippery slope when you are given a platform to inform people. Great responsibility comes with this, I take it very serious. 

I have read so many findings and facts, spoke to Dr.'s, Scientist, the medical community.  You name it, I have focused on it to gain information and knowledge.

Here is my classic "go to" when this question on the cause of autism is presented to me.  Take it for what it is.  It is "our" story "watching autism" happen to our son.

I was 32 years old when Michael was born.  He was born 3.5 weeks early. He was healthy and weighed in at 6.9 pounds  Oddly, my first son, Ryan who was 12 when Michael was born arrived 3 weeks past his due date weighing in at 8.9 pounds.  Both pregnancy's that I have had were uneventful.  Both boys delivered via c-section.

Michael was a fussy baby, a bit of colic the Dr. said. 

Michael received all of his scheduled immunizations.  Ryan also did.  Michael like Ryan would receive his scheduled immunization and run a low grade temp, have the "hot bump" at the inoculation site, be a bit fussy for about 24 hours.  I would give them each baby Tylenol per instructions from the Dr.

This is the scheduled immunization list for each of my son's at "around" the same time.  The "age given" scheduled had changed some during the time between each of the boys birth. The vaccinations and the number given had also drastically changed in that 12 years.

At 6 months Ryan received a DTP vaccination- his next vaccination was at 15 months of age- a DTP and a MMR.

For Michael he received at 6 months a - DPaP, Hib, PVC
At 12 months, he received a HepB3, DTaPSS, Hib, PCV,  MMR

I remember Michael's 12 month immunizations like it was yesterday.  He was wearing a navy blue jogging suit, he was healthy and happy, it was like any other Dr. visit.  He had his scheduled vaccinations, and a check up, height and weight was taken and the usual Dr. look over.  All was well, until about 2 hours later.

Michael began to run a high fever, not the usual low grade temp as he had in the past. I got Tylenol in him, however the fever continued to climb.  He would not eat not drink. He screamed for several hours.  I called the Dr. and spoke to the nurse who said to just keep giving Tylenol, just keep him in his a diaper with no other clothes and hold him as little as possible as my body heat would transfer and make him even warmer.  After several hours, the Tylenol kicked in and Michael slept.  The next morning, he was lethargic, and ran a low grade temp with Tylenol. I called the Dr's. office to update them as they requested the last conversation we had the day before.  They seemed pleased that the high fever had ended and we were just dealing with a low grade temp at this point. They seemed unconcerned that I was mentioning Michael was still somewhat lethargic.  His nurse said that all of the crying, the fever were the cause of this.

Later in the day, Michael was hungry.  I placed him in his high chair, gave him his juice in his sippy cup as this was how he took fluids for sometime.  He stared at the sippy cup and had no coordination on how to pick it up and use it.  He did not babble and coo, as he always did. He looked at the cereal I had placed on his high chair tray and could not pick it up.  It was as if he did not know what to do with it.  He just sat in the chair, staring out into space.  Something was wrong.  He would not talk. He would not say "mama" "dadda" "bye, bye" --he would not say anything.  It was as if his voice stopped working.  I could see the change right before my eyes.   I called the Dr.'s office and said I was bringing him in and wanted the Dr. to see him ASAP. 

We went to clinic, the Dr. checked him over and said he was fine, he was behaving no different that many babies after a fever and a "long night" of upset and crying.  He said he was just tired and I should help him eat and drink and put him down for a nap.  I felt like I was politely being told to settle down, quit being so over protective.  I left the Dr.'s office feeling foolish and bad for wasting their time and messing up the other patients appointment time.

My husband, our now 13 year old son ( his age at that time )  and myself watched Michael leave us, over a 12-24 hour period. Michael has never been the same.  I did not hear him say "mama" for almost 4 years after that day.  After years of intense work, he was able to say it again.  Not everyone can understand what he is saying when his calls for his "mama" but his "mama" knows. 

**Also noted, Mike contracted the RSV virus ( most kids do ) and was in the hospital for about 24 hours for dehydration. Unbeknown to us, he was given a flu shot, with Thimerosal. I discovered this while researching his medical records several years ago. This shot was given after this 12 months shots. Mike was 17 months old at this time. We were told after this discovery that ALL patients were given the flu shot as the strain at that time was significant and it was the hospital policy for all patients and staff to have one. This was their reason for not consulting us, not getting approval from us when it was administered. We were not present in the room when it was given. We had NO knowledge of this shot, only after I discovered it in his medical records.

***After much research and discussion with Dr.'s Michael has had no further immunizations after the 12 month schedule but the flu shot we were unaware was given at 17 months of age. We weighed the pros and cons heavily. It was not easy for us to make this decision. We did however believe that the risk was one we would have to take. Mike had so little of himself left, IF it was in fact an issue with the vaccications, we would lose what little was left of him. We fully understand the risks. It is not easy to except that your child could become seriously ill or die from this decision. We think of that everyday.

I have more to add to this post but other duties call.  Michael is home on spring break from school.  He will be 11 years old  in June.  He and I have plans for the day.  We are going to draw, color, maybe go outside if the suns shines for us today.  Michael needs 24/7 supervision, he will never live independently, he is what I call "classic autistic", he relies on his "mama" for each step the day brings him. Michael will always be autistic.  He has worked so hard to gain the skills he has.  Fantastic people have contributed to his growth.  For that we are thankful. I always tell people that for each milestone that he achieves, he works 1,000 times harder then the average child to meet it. Some he will reach with hard work, and many he will never be able to meet due to his autism. 

The CDC has just announced their current data on autism numbers in America.  1 in 88 children are now diagnosed with autism.  There are no concrete answers on the cause of autism at this time. 




Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Should Have Done This Post Years Ago..........How to Get Published

The title of this blog entry will speak for itself.

Over the years I have received hundreds of emails, letters, ( for those investigative types who dug deep to locate me ) phone calls, ( again, those that did their research, one whom knew what county I lived in actually called local law enforcement in search of my phone number, that they did not give, however kindly took a phone number and gave it to me ) to handing me manuscripts, and business cards at book signing or lectures.  This blog is for you!

The question that I am so often asked by people is "how do I get published"?  Whether it be a story for an article, newspaper, magazine or book.   For some reason many believe if I can connect with someone who has accomplished these goals, they are one step closer to their goal.  Sadly, I will respond that is not the case.

What I can offer you is a bit of wisdom and advice...I am happy to support your goals and effort.

I feel that it is my responsibility to first give you a bit of my background in the publishing world.  My professional education is in the medical field.  I worked professionally for years in this field.  After my son Michael was born I did not go back to work immediately.  I had planned to go back always as I loved my job.  Michael's Autism dictates our lives and schedules.  Shift work, long hours and the stress of the job were to much for our family to survive.  We were struggling to live our lives when I was home full time.  My absence fifty plus hours a week would have been detrimental to our lives.  It took me a few years to except that all of my hard work to get to my goals professionally, would never return.

I wrote extensively when Michael was younger.  I read an article from a top magazine looking for stories on Autism.  I decided I would write from my heart and submit it.  About three months later, I received a call from an editor about my article.  We talked like old girlfriends on the phone.  She had an Autistic nephew.  What started out as a conversation about the article rapidly became a Q & A about Autism and families.  We ended our "chat" with her stating that the article was fantastic, but after our conversation she really felt there was a "book" here.  She was going to network a bit with a few editors she knew in the publishing industry and get back to me.  Within twenty four hours, I was conversing with a book editor in Chicago. She had two girlfriends with children recently diagnosed with Autism.  She wanted to see more of work, ASAP.  I was a smooth talker, and said I would think about it, get back to her.  After a frantic phone call to my mother, I brought her up to speed on what my last twenty four hours had been like.  I had told no one before this is what I had been doing, not even my husband.

To fast forward,  my first book was published six months later.  My third is currently in editing and should be on shelves this March or April.  I do some freelance work, it is minimal by choice.  For me it is to competitive of a market, to stringent of a timeline, and if your work is good, they want more at a fast speed.  Opportunities can blossom ( and did ) and all of a sudden I had people expecting work from me that I struggled to deliver.  I remind publishers, editors and agents all the time I live the life they want me to write about.  Read my work, it is self explanatory why I have days that I am productive and days I can get nothing done.

Back to some advice.  First and foremost WRITE! Write at least everyday, even if is just a paragraph.  Go by the golden rule of writing "Write What You Know"!!  At least it will be passionate and honest.  The players in this industry can spot a fake at twenty paces.  Even if you work needs tuning, it is what you know.

Be prepared for rejection.  This is not a profession for those with a thin skin.  For every one success, plan for a hundred plus rejection.  I have learned and was advised to not ever take any of this personally.  It takes a lot to make me fuss about this, I just do not have the time.  I also believe that things happen for a reason and what is meant to be, is.  I have a publicist, she hears the rejections, I do not. This may be the reason I do not let it bother me.  I never hear the rejection.

Start a blog!  It is easy to do, research online and find the one that fits you best.  Blog and do it often.  I will confess, I do not blog that often, I am working on changing that.  There are comment sections on blogs that you can have open to public to leave a response.  I do not have my comments section open for the public.  Not as I anticipate negative comments.  I anticipate people searching for information, asking me questions.  I have email linked to my website, people can contact me for those that way.

Start submitting articles to newspapers and magazines.  Don't hang by the phone waiting to hear, if  they contact you consider it a plus.  Research and see if they except unsolicited articles, some do, some do not.

Find yourself an agent.  A Literary Agent. I state this as if it is an easy task.  It is not, be prepared for many a rejection.   If you can, get an Editor ( private is fine for now ) and a Publicist if possible.  If you write saucy articles or books, get an Attorney.  I have one on retainer at all times.  I write about politics and call it like I see it.  All three of my books held a level of liability to the education system ( liability on their part, not mine ).  I have all of the above listed.  They are the main reason I am successful at what I do. 

Many cities and campus's have writing groups.  It is a great way to network and hone your craft.  Take a writing class if that interests you. 

As I got successful in this profession, I became caught up in the fact that I did not hold a degree in the writing field.  I considered going back to college to obtain a diploma.  After much reflection and discussion with my colleagues, I reconsidered.  I would be doing it for the framed diploma to hang in my den.  My days of pleasing people ended some time ago.  I know far to many people who attended Ivy League Universities and hold impressive degrees, that I am amazed can dress themselves each day. They are no more interesting in a conversation to me then another.  I am not against college, my oldest is in his third year.  It just is not something I am driving for to be successful.  If I had all the time to give, I would probably go back.  I have not the time to give in my life right now.

I have had the grand privilege to meet and subsequently well enough over the years to call my friends, several big names in the writing world.  They have been a wonderful source of support and guidance for me.  Did you know that Steven King never uses punctuation, capitalizes nothing, but the title of his manuscript?  He uses no paragraphs.  He never spell checks.  Why you ask?  It is not his job.  His job is to write and discuss.  His editor does all of this for him.  First, it is her job.  Second, how is he suppose to know all the "correct" parts of proper writing.  His job is to be creative and write.  He does his job and allows someone else to do theirs.

I have made many a mistake in my writings, I own them,  Each and everyone of them.  I have an editor who handles my writings that will go to a freelance project or for a manuscript for a book.  Outside of that, you take what I give.  It is mine you see. I am not a perfect writer.  I am cautious of anyone who believe anything they do is perfect and error free.  Let's face it, I am not trying to split the atom here.  I write what I know, I tell a story or have a conversation with someone, in writing form.

People so often think that writers are these fascinating people.  I know a few who I believe would fall into this category. People think our lives are so jet set and exciting.  I am here to tell you different.  Yes, I have days I am on a T.V.- in a studio rubbing elbows with high profile people, I meet Senators and people who are members of Congress.  I have been on major news networks.  I am on talk radio often ( by the way- is my favorite place for a discussion---I need my own show or as a co-host--someone help me make that happen ) and meet power players in the entertainment industry.  I have photo shots for my books, hair, make up and wardrobe. I have reporters calling me for quotes on our Governments health care debate, educational cuts, taxes, you name it. 

I must be honest and tell you, all of the above is the smallest percentage of my life.  When I am promoting a book or a cause I am passionate about then yes, that is my life.  Otherwise, I am a mother to two sons, one is twenty two years old away at college.  My other son, is ten years old and Autistic.  I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister-in-law, aunt and a dear friend to many.  That is my life.  I write to better the lives of all of those listed above.  Some where in all of that is me.  Once in a great while, I am allowed to be me.  When I can, I write.  I am forthright and very honest.  I find that because of these qualities, people are interested in what I have to say.

With the upcoming elections politics is back on the table for me.  I am starting a second blog in October.  A political blog.  I am excited!  I will report more as it is closer to going live.  It is currently in the design mode.  I know little more then that at this time.  I am not a solo projects.  I have great people that I work with, I let them do their job, I do mine. 

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.  Please let me know if I can provide more.   A quick shout out to Robbin from Ontario, Canada.  My best to you as you reach for your writing goals.  A big thank you for all of your work.  Robbin works as a Instructor Therapist. She provides services to families with children diagnosed with autism that include: ABA, verbal behaviour, DTT, DIRFloortime Play Therapy, NET and sensory diets. She also provides parent training to assist and train parents with behaviour management techniques.  She is leaping into the pool as a Freelance Writer to help people.  Feel free Robbin to send me something to read.  I would be glad to help a fellow writer.  Let me know if you get published.  I will be the first to purchase your work.  We help one another. 

My best to each of you.  I am off to roast a chicken for dinner, snuggle with my man and cheer the Vikings on! 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11-- 10 years later

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  We are surrounded by the media coverage of that tragic day. Future terrorists attacks remain ever present, heightened by the anniversary date. 

I always find a personal story very interesting.  I recall my grandmother, telling of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.  My mother's story, sitting in her classroom when the announcement that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I recall, in a elementary classroom, a teacher, crying as she entered our classroom to announce that President Reagan had been shot ( actually, she blurted out in her tears that he had been assassinated and was killed ).  I recall watching the Space shuttle Challenger explode, while standing in my high school commons area.  All of us remember a tragic event that has altered our lives ever remaining in our memory, never to leave. 

September 11, 2001 is no different.

It was a beautiful fall day here in Minnesota.  Ryan our oldest son was twelve, just starting the seventh grade.  Michael was eight weeks old.  Jim had left for work early that morning.  I had a window of time to drive to town, a twenty minute jaunt, get my shopping done and arrive home before Michael would need to be fed again.  My mother-in-law had offered to watch Michael while I shopped.  As I was driving, there was the announcement on the radio that there had been a plane crash in New York.  Little more was said at that time.  By the time I arrived at my mother-in-laws, images of Word Trade Tower One were on CNN.  At that time, the report was that it was a small single engine plane.  Keeping on schedule I left. I continued on my quest to shop and do my best to be back to take Michael home in two hours. 

Much happened while I shopped.  World Trade Tower Two was hit and had collapsed.  I arrived to pick Michael up, in my short time away, our country was under attack.  The Pentagon had been hit. As a public we were still unaware of the tragic ending of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.  I did not stay at my mother-in-laws house but for a few minutes.  I watched CNN standing in her living room and just wanted to go home.  Quickly, I loaded Michael up and tuned into the radio.  Once home, I got Michael into his crib and unloaded my shopping bags.  I put what needed to be refrigerated away, got Michael a bottle, changed him, poured a large cup of coffee and settled into a chair in the living room, Michael cradled in my arms.  Michael now fed, I watched in horror the images and reporting on CNN.

Jim called me from work.  He had no television coverage where he was at, he wanted me to describe to him what I was seeing.  It was indescribable, I told him.  I asked him if he was coming home?  He said no, he needed to stay at work, he would be home this evening.  I sat there, feeling all alone.  After some reflection, I realized thousands were not ever coming home.  It is interesting how we immediately take a situation, and make it about our self first.  I was thirty-two years old.  Older and a bit more wiser, I am much more focused on a life where in almost every situation, it is not about me.  I am a better person for that, I try to reflect that each and everyday, with each situation and person I meet.

I add this next thought, in reflection of something I have struggled to do.  I have a cousin ( many of them to be accurate) whom since 9/11 has married.  I have only met his wife a few times.  I have a wonderful picture of her taken in 2000, dancing at my wedding, with a smile that is contagious.  Her brother was one of the many heroes of Flight 93, that crashed in Shanksville, PA.  Names are not something I have any right to share .  I have not sent a letter of condolence, yet.  Unsure always of what I would say, if it was appropriate to say anything, or that to much time has passed to put pen to paper.  I have taken the cowards way out and done nothing at all.  I realize today, I shall find the words and pen that letter.  


Sunday, August 14, 2011

My View on Politics

August 14, 2011

I was recently asked a question on my viewpoints on candidates currently running for the office ( actually to clarify, my viewpoints on a recent televised debate ) of the President of the United States.

 For me, it is far to early in the process to make any solid stance at this time.  What I offer below are my standings "in" politics.

** Please note at the beginning, I have included a brief answer to the author of the question, my reason for a tardy response.

I apologize for my lack of a timely response. Evenings are hectic here getting Mike settled into his evening bedtime routine. I am a married mother of an autistic 10 year old who finds herself flying solo this summer as Jim is in SD working. I generally shut my PC off before I get my son settled for the evening.

Politics are a saucy subject that one hopes will lead to a charged, yet a respectful dialog. As individuals, each living very different lives we can expect nothing less then different view points and opinions.

My thoughts on the debate Thursday evening are; I was impressed with no one. On the positive note, it is early in the game.

I, like so many want one particular candidate to shine, have all the answers and a sense of self respect for themselves and we the people. I have been a registered Republican and a registered Democrat and voted along both of those party lines. I also have voted as an Independent in the past.

I believe people vote according to the issues most at hand for them and those they hold close.

For some, they are focused on taxes, others it is health care, the struggling economy, education, civil rights, and the list could go on...and on.

Each person generally takes the position of what a candidate can do for them and fails to see the big picture of unison.

I believe that lifting people up rather then suppressing them is a win-win situation for all. I believe in equal rights for all. If you are an American citizen and tax payer, you should be allowed the same civil rights each American has ( or is suppose to have ). I believe strongly in the separation of church and state. Religion in my opinion, has no place in politics.

I believe strongly in public service.

I am a avid history buff, our country has managed to overcome so many hardships and struggles. I do not believe one person alone can take the responsibilities for the issues our county faces nor solve all of our current struggles alone.

In my opinion currently, we are a bitter and angry people. Self service and greed seems to drive people in positions of power.

I do not believe we will see real issues resolved with this way of thinking.

I wish to hear from candidates what their opinions and goals are, not what the person standing next to them has done in the past. We know collectively that living in the past is no solid way to strive for a future.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Without Warning today Mike's behaviors came full circle.

If you have read my books on Autism and our family you are well aware that we have had some huge hurdles with behaviors.  We have had many a dark day with explosive behaviors from Mike.  This was a couple of years ago and after a Behaviorist who works primarily with Autistic children intervened we found our groove.  That groove first and foremost was Mike, then his dad and me, and his teaching staff. 

Mike really made tremendous turns in his behaviors and given the tools to manage them we were on a calmer path.  Calmer at home almost always, that I entered a far to comfortable position I realize today.

The end of the school year is fast approaching, only a couple of weeks left.  Mike is no different then other students, he is getting anxious for the school year to end.  He feels the change in the air and knows that summer is upon us.  I have noticed a bit of apprehension the past month or so each morning.  He is less then eager to get out of bed and get dressed.  He drags a bit more in the morning and is a bit agitated when I put his shoes on and we walk to bus in the morning.  Even with this, we did manage to go on with our day, he at school learning and I at home trying to get much needed work done.  Summer is soon here and my time to work gets very limited.  When summer school break is here, my job is Mike and Mike only.  I manage our home, Mike, two Labradors, 4 acres of property ( Jim does the mowing when he can, other wise, I hire someone), a large vegetable garden, swimming lessons, summer school, a older son off to college often still needs mom, and all the daily living that come with a special needs child.  I have no free time, I sleep very little.  I need to have all my ducks in a row when school break starts.  My time for writing is very limited.  Mike takes a set of eyes on him at all times.

I am rambling here off course of the premise of my blog here today. 

To cut to the chase here- this morning when I got Mike up or I should say attempted to get Mike up this morning our fate was already in motion.

Mike was having no part of going to school today.  He was angered and let me know it for an hour and a half strait.  He hissed at me, put his hand in the air many times as if to warn me that he might strike.  He refused to get dressed.  He yelled "no dressed" "no school" on and off for an hour and a half.  He was angry about everything.  From the breakfast I made ( the same as every day for 7 years ) to the movie I started for him in the dining room for him to eat and watch.  Nothing I did was right.  If I spoke soft and quiet as not to agitate, he was mad that I spoke soft.  When I spoke in a normal tone, he was mad.  If I raised my voice as his was so loud, he was just as mad as when I spoke soft. 

It was a battle that had no winners.  I walked away several times to cool off but he followed me to continue the fight.  I had to get him dressed first.  I tried all my old tricks, talking to him about it, helping him calmly -- this most often works.  Not today.  I allowed him time to get dressed on his own.  No go there.  I also knew this, he had to get dressed and go to school.  He was not ill, we had not been up all night so he was tired.  He was drawing a line in the sand with me and daring me to cross it.  The look in his eyes was "game on".  It is a look that I have not seen in a long time but recognized it when he showed it to me.  I got him dressed and he fought me every step of the way.

Mike is a fast learner and never, ever forgets anything.  If he does something once and has the outcome he wanted, consider it will be used the next time.  Breaking a habit or redirecting a behavior is a must at our house.  Often it gets worse before it gets better. 

After an hour and a half of a tough time I got Mike to the bus.  He still did not want to go and he began to cry.  His face was so sad and alligator tears were free flowing.  The look on the bus drivers face spoke of compassion to him.  She was so sad for him and tried as I did to console him.  He hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  I held it all in and wished him a good day and said I would take care of his toys while he was gone ( a job he gave me years ago & reminds me I have each and every day when he leaves for school ).  I shut the door to the bus, turned and walked away back to the house.  As tough as I had to be for him the moment I turned around I broke out in tears.  Each step closer to the house the more they flowed.  Two eager and happy Labs greeted me when I walked in the door.  They also have a routine that they need from me.  They get their breakfast when I return from putting Mike on the bus. 

I managed to stop my crying to call his teacher.  By this time Mike had arrived at school, still crying and they were also questioning what was the matter.  We spoke, I told her we had a really tough morning, one we have not had in a very long time.  I told her the easy way out was to keep him home and start another problem come Monday.  She agreed and said I had done the right thing as hard as it is.  I told her I would gladly come get him if they thought it was best.  I called later again a few hours later.  He had pulled it all together and was doing OK, not great, but OK.  He seemed to be having a downer day and just was sad. 

I walked into the sun room and just sat on the floor.  I cried and cried and the dogs tried their best to comfort me.  The sooner I pull it together the sooner they get fed.  I sat there almost crippled and weak.  I could hardly get up about a half an hour later.  I was exhausted.  I have not had this type of exhaustion for a long time.  A mental drain that can really take me down. 

I finally got myself up, attend to the dogs then ventured to Mike's room.  His room is always in need of my attention.  Mike loves things.  Toys, pictures, his drawing, his movies, his books and a zillion other things I seems.  He loves to have them where he can see them and touch them.  The theory of everything has it place and everything in it's place is not something Mike can do.  He wants everything around him and in his sight and within reach.  I have to organize it often and put some type of order to it.  It is not messy just unbelievably cluttered. 

I spent about a half and hour in his room.  I have to say he does have some really cool things for a kid.  He loves his laptop and had really been busy creating his room of organized kayos.  Maybe the issue was he just did not want t leave it today.  I know he would rather do what he freely is allowed to do on the weekends, his own thing.  He watches movies, is always busy on this computer, he draws, plays with his toys, creates these little pods of special things in a organized way I will never understand.  It is his way and we let him do his thing on the weekend.  Maybe he just needed the weekend to start this morning and not at the end of the school day.  I will never know.  I just know it was a horrible morning.  I am proud that he managed a good day at school with no further behaviors at school. 

He arrived home looking tired, we both were at the same "event" this morning.  I was wiped out, I am sure he was also.  I kept busy the rest of the day.  It is to hard on me when I get so upset to just sit and stew.  My mind gets the best of me, I ponder and most often come to the conclusion that I am a horrible mother and rotten wife.  Who needs that stuck in their head.  Had the morning gone a more positive way I would have thought I was fantastic.  I prefer fantastic over failure any day.

It's almost five o'clock in the evening.  When I am stressed I clean, my house looks fabulous for the weekend.  I also like to organize when I am stressed.  I cleaned my desk that was in great need of attention.  I cleaned the refrigerator and shopped to stock it.  I did laundry and swept the garage.  Something I never do, Jim does.  I thought of my Mike and had a few tears along the way.  Life can be tough, a type of tough if you do not have a Autistic child or a special needs child you will never understand.  It's OK, I never understood until I had my Mike.

We survived and will have a enjoyable weekend.  I will hope for the best for Monday morning, but will be more prepared should it turn again.  Getting to comfortable in any situation most often leads to a bite in the a**.  Let's just say, I am sitting on it right now, it is not as sore as it was this morning.

Mike is already in this pj's.  He put them on as soon as he got home from school.  It is his way of telling me that he has no plans to leave and wants to stay home.  He hugged me when he got home.  I said I was sorry for the hard morning.  He said he was sorry also.  He demanded his snack, and has "retired" to his room.  He is busy and wishes to be left alone.  I went in a bit ago, sat on his bed.  He got up, came to me and showed me some of his toys.  He then went  back to doing his thing and I have respectfully left him alone.  As he wishes.  He had earned it after the day he has also had. 

I love him so very much.............................


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Books - # 3 and # 4

Writing a book is not an easy task. I am currently juggling two books. One is on Autism the other is a novel that I either love or need to enter therapy once it is published. I started my novel a couple of years ago. My second book had just been published and I was looking for a creative outlet but desperately needed it to not be on Autism. What I found was I dove in head first in my novel, it was a book I had wished to write for a long time. I lacked the time and was very worried about taking on another project while following my writing motto- write what you know- stick to what applies to you and you will do well writing. I was ready to leave my comfort zone.

My novel- currently titled "The Sleeping Demons"  *TM*. I have no problem letting the title out as chances are it will be re-titled before publishing. It is a demon let me tell you! Twenty-two chapters already and I can not seem to let it go down the path of completion. I have no clue how it will end as of yet. There are several options and all in my opinion are great and satisfying. My type "A" personality can be a bugger to deal with at times.

To give a brief blurb is to say it is a thriller/mystery/who done -- it with politics involved. The best part of the novel is it is filled with the stories of the people I have met in my life, all intertwined into one story. I have the great pleasure to know some pretty fantastic people who live very interesting lives. FYI- I have changed all parties names- but you will find yourself if you are a character, as I have made it very easy. Names are different- first letters of names are the same.
I have allowed the first few chapters to be viewed and I was thrilled with the response from each person for more chapters. I am sorry to say I have yet to let those go at this time.

I still have much work to do and a few rewrites for my own comfort and then the dreaded editing process. I hope it will be on shelves by the end of this year. I am nervous to part with it. The art has not even started on it, however I can close my eyes and see the cover of the book. I love each aspect of the creative process and have great difficulty stepping back and letting others do for me, even when it is their job to do so.
I also am giving great thought to publishing it under a different name. I have a few that I write under. Thriller novels do better under a male name, I am sorry to report.
I will keep you posted as the process gets closer. Nevertheless, it is exciting. Nothing compares to the thrill then your book arriving from the publisher - the first one off the press.

My second book-
I believe the solid title will be " We Travel a Different Road-The Autism Super Highway"  *  I have already had it trademarked by the way * thus the *TM* on the above also.

I am excited as the process moves along step by step. The cover is proving a bit complicated. I want a road map, cartoon style, a car - cartoon style and Jim, Mike, and I with our real photo faces in the car. It takes a lot to rattle me in the complicated department. My life is complicated from the moment my eyes open in the morning and it does not end until I close them briefly each night. Frankly, my life can get real complicated while sleeping. You either roll with it, or succumb to it's madness- we be rolling here at our place.

I own all the rights to my books and other publishing. It comes with great pride however it makes for a little fish in a big ocean at times. I lack at times a real understanding of what I want and the reality of what can be done in the form of publishing. My art gal, editor, and marketing people I am sure would tell you I am a handful at times. It is a learning process and it changes all the time. Just about the time I get it, am a confident player in the field, the game changes. Such is the game of life. I be playing.

This book is a focus on Autism, Family and Life as one navigates its way to live it with so and many obstacles and worries. We get there, we just travel a different road, often without a map, a car, gas, a rest stop, or someone to rotate the tires, fix the engine, or provide an oil change. We still manage to get to the destination, often with one of us pushing the car, while the other steers, trying not to swerve into oncoming traffic, because of all the distractions. I just wanted to check in, give a bit of an update on what I am doing. I am excited and stressed by the process, I remind myself how dull and boring life would be otherwise and that just would never do.

All my best- Julie

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Love Winter-Awaiting Spring

I LOVE WINTER!  I have always lived in Minnesota and therefore embrace all the beauty that the winter season brings.

A few weeks ago we had a swift change in our temperatures.  The feelings of spring were felt with temps in the mid 50's.  We lost about one half of our snow over the week.  After fighting it for a few days, I gave in.  I began to look at plans for the yearly Shimek vegetable garden, plan a new patio and landscaping project, the designs for a outdoor adobe wood pizza oven, new solar lighting for the trees in the back yard.  I even began to plan for dinner parties that we would again host for our fabulous friends & family.  I love to plan dinner parties!  I love to look at new linens, tableware, the latest in gadgets, study menus and the new cocktail of the season. 

I took some time to browse at some new flower ideas and shrubs for a landscaping project that will be done this spring and summer.  I am never impulsive and must think every possible idea to death.  I am still trying to decide on paint for the walls and carpet in the master bedroom.  I looked at samples until I could no longer say my full name and had to hang it up for a later date.  The plan was to freshen the master bedroom, install closet systems and do the same in Mike's bedroom this winter.  My husband Jim did his part.  He got everything ready to go and volunteered to do the painting before the carpet guys installed the new carpeting.  My job was one paint color and carpet for two bedrooms.  My part could take awhile.  I will pick my usual, a tone of beige/brown for both.  What can I say.....there are hundreds of tones for beige and brown.  Give me three choices and I can manage, more then that and I see spots.  It took me three months last year to pick new appliances for the kitchen, we did stainless so color was not a decision.  There are at least twenty brands with hundreds of options.

I was excited to put the inside projects on the back burner and embrace the outside ideas.  Just when I wrapped my head around an early spring, we got 15 inches of snow.  Oh, no.....back to paint and carpet.  The people at Home Depot see me walk in the door and quickly huddle playing paper, rock and scissor to see who is stuck with me.  As I compose this, it is once again snowing.  I think another 5-10 inches over the next few days.

Back to the garden.  I am no fan of gardens I wish to say.  We have a garden because Mike is autistic.

Mike, like so many autistics has real food issues.  He takes being a fussy eater to an entire new level. He does have a few dishes that he loves and are staple parts of his food intake.  The main one is spaghetti pasta.  He would eat it for every meal if I allowed.  I do not, however he eats it several times a week.  After much research on autistic diets, the consensus was that organic is the only way to go.  I would hit the local farmers market during the summer and cook organic when I could get it.  After going organic, then going jar/can the rest of the year we could see and taste the difference.  I took the time to really research what was on the labels of the food I was feeding Mike.  That is all that it took.

We live on a beautiful piece of property.  Just shy of 4 acres of waterfront property.  We had ample space.  It was time to plan and plant a garden.  If you want the best, then grown the best. 

Jim was the real force behind the project.  I would gladly water the garden and deal with it when it was harvest time. Otherwise, Jim was in charge of the garden.  He was nervous when I got near it and heavens for bid, I stepped in it and touched something.

Jim did the planting.  Carrots, onions, green beans, cucumbers, many variates of lettuce, kale, spinach, peppers and tomatoes.  We had 24 tomato plants the first year, even more the second.  I would soon learn the art of making "sauce" for Mike and freezing it.

As we began to harvest the garden, I looked into the best way to preserve our vegetables.  Freezing was the best.  We had a large chest deep freezer.  There was no way that would hold all of the food.  Off to Home Depot to purchase a upright freezer    ( again... paper, rock , scissor ).  I managed to pick one and have it delivered to the house.  I thought it was maybe a bit of over kill.  I was wrong.  Even with all of this, I was still calling friends to come rescue me from all of these veggies.  We enjoyed the fruits of the garden, fresh all summer long.  I then took to preserving the bulk of the harvest.  On to sauce making.

Twenty four tomato plants sounded nuts to me when Jim started planting.  I can tell you I was up to my waist in tomatoes for several weeks.  All I did was make sauce each day for weeks.  I made a "special" sauce for my "special" guy.

It took fresh tomatoes, finely grated carrots, green peppers, onion, kale and spinach to made my sauce.  I went to a butcher and got fresh beef and had them grind it for me.  I made the sauce, about 5 gallons a day I could manage.  I let it cool, the packaged it in freezer bags marked for Mike. I lay them flat each night on a large tray in the upright freezer.  In the morning, I retrieved the tray, stacked the frozen bags and started another batch of sauce. 

Making this much sauce each day, day after day was exhausting and messy.  I had tomato sauce on the walls, the floor and the ceiling.  I cleaned and scrubbed, just to make a mess the following day. 

To Mike, this is just pasta sauce.  He has no clue all the hidden vegetables that are in the "sauce".  He would  never eat carrots, peppers, onion, kale and spinach.  Because we control what goes into his food he gets only the best.  We use no chemicals what so ever.  Good soil, sun and water.  I grow my own herbs to add flavor and this year, we are going to try growing garlic.  Unsure if it will leaves or bulbs. 

We use our sauce for pasta, chili, soups, casseroles.  You name it, we use it from our garden.

It is unbelievable to me how much work it entails.  I cooked my hind end off the past two years making sauce and freezing veggies.  Every minute of it was worth it. 

Twenty six tomato plants were done last year.  I am unsure what Jim plans for this year.  It keeps getting bigger and bigger with new veggies added to the planting list each year.  I am excited to see what he comes up with and how I will incorporate it into my sauce for Mike. 

I have managed to make sauce to last Mike the fall, winter and spring.  Not an easy task.  I have about 30 gallons left in the freezer.  It should be just enough to get him to the first pick of this summers season. 

I encourage parents of autistic children to try if possible to grow your own food for your child.  If someone would have told me a few years ago, that I would be cooking for almost a month strait making organic, home grown food for Mike, I would not have believed you.  But I do, and he loves it.

1 days picking - this went on for about a month (24 plants )
In closing we have also taken to purchasing organic farm chickens from a local farmer.  We get on average 12 at a time. There is a HUGE difference in the chicken.  First of all they are about 2x the size and no hormones or antibiotics in the bird.  They taste fabulous.  We are slowly moving away from what is offered to us and seeking out what we want to have.  This year, organic beef will be added. 

I think I need a 3rd freezer............

Until the next time, I offer you all my best.