Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Mercies

My teenager with ASD has so much going on inside her head. Sometimes, she gives me a glimpse inside. On a drive to an away baseball game earlier in the week, she began recalling a lot of times when her father or I had been very angry with her. When she spilled a 2 gal jug of milk all over the kitchen floor (and hives popped up every where the milk splashed on her legs).  She removed a dirty diaper and played in poop.  She was between two and three when she dropped the milk. And two or younger playing w poop.

She recounted quite a few memories. I told her that her father and I don't remember those moments any more and we don't hold them against her. I reminded her of the verse where God gives us new chances every morning. Once the event is past, we are done with it. And I explained the Bible tells us that is how God is. He doesn't keep a record of our wrongs. Once we ask for forgiveness and try to do better, He forgets.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 English Standard Version

A good reminder for me, too. Let go of the negative memories of times I messed up. My Heavenly Father lets them go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Glimmer Girls Review & Giveaway

You may recognize the name Natalie Grant from the world of music. Grant is also a wife, mom, and author.

My homeschooler and I got an opportunity to review two books in Natalie Grant's new book series aimed at girls age 9-12. Yes, my homeschooler is older than 12, and books written for younger children still appeal to her. If you have a child with academic delays, using reading materials developed for younger children can help build success and confidence in comprehension and literacy skills.

We are using the two chapter books as a read aloud. I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I learned something right off the bat in the first book, "London Art Chase". I thought Big Ben is a clock. Big Ben is the name for the bells in the tower. You are never to old to learn something new.

When Grant mentions Rachmanioff's Piano Concerto No. 3 or Pachelbel's Canon, we can find them on the internet to take a listen. I am thrilled with the amount of homeschooling mileage we are getting from our brief daily read alouds. My girl recognized Pachalbel's Canon. That makes me happy.

The books are small enough to hold easily, to slip into a tote bag for a baseball game or the a waiting room, and the print is good size. There are not too many words on a page for the reluctant reader who balks when the print is small and jammed onto the pages. The visual of the page is important in working with reluctant readers who judge a book's difficulty by how difficult and crowded the pages are. There are a few black and white illustrations in each book. They are paperback, approximately 200 pages, and retail for $8.99 each. They would make a great gift for an Easter basket!

Grant says:
 "Glimmer Girls is a fiction series that I have created with my daughters. The storyline is about three girls who go on tour with their singing mom. I have no idea where I came up with that plot! It’s fun for my little girls to help with the content because they actually live that life. Glimmer is the last name of the family, but it also has a special meaning. It is a light that is never extinguished. Sometimes it may glimmer a little bit brighter, sometimes it may glimmer a little bit dimmer, but it never goes out. I felt like that was such a perfect description for all of us. We all have a light on the inside and depending on the day, sometimes it’s bright and sometimes it’s dim. That is the message I wanted girls to get from this book. You don’t always have to be shining bright, some days are going to be more difficult than others, but Jesus has put a light in you that will never go out.”
 Grant uses word pictures that give my homeschooler and I opportunities to discuss. The very first image in the first book, "A clothes tornado" had me stopping my reader to discuss what that might be. One neat coincidence is that my homeschooler is a twin and there is a set of twins in the stories. My twins have an older sister; the twins in the story have a younger sister.

Author Grant does a really nice job at weaving facts into fiction. We can put the story down and look up Big Ben or Trafalgar Square. We are not too far into the first book (my homeschooler has been battling strep throat since we received the books about a week ago) but the story draws us in and peaks our curiosity about the facts in the book. The reference to clotted cream during tea reminded us of a SpongeBob episode. (silly, but true)

As I peek ahead in the story, I see a chapter that involves the girls knocking over an expensive cello in what was a challenging day. Her mom helps her pray about the situation. I hope that storyline is helpful to my girl. She is so hard on herself sometimes.

We are really enjoying the story and look forward to "A Dolphin Wish", too.

Sidebar: If Natalie Grant reads these reviews, Natalie, I have a teenage daughter on the autism spectrum with an amazing singing voice and a desire to be a voice actress one day and we live near where you live. If you ever animate a series and need a voice for a character, I have someone to recommend. :)

Giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Instagram: YouTube:

I have a set of books to giveaway. Comment for an entry. I'll pick a winner, Monday, March 21st.
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dear Brenda Chapman

Dear Brenda Chapman,

This is a letter from one mother to another.

One of my daughters is on the autism spectrum. Individuals on the autism spectrum are known for having intense special interests. This child (she would argue that she is not a child; she is a teenager!) is a movie and musical expert and can recite facts that would blow your mind. Watching the Oscars or Golden Globes with her is always interesting because she can tell you odd facts about the nominees and the winners. "He directed _______________ in 19__!" or "He voiced ______________ in the animated movie ______________ in 19__!" Her memory is incredible.

My teen who has an autism spectrum disorder was so frightened by one of the scenes in "Brave" that you wrote and directed that she continues to be upset about it. I wonder if and how we could reach out to you to ask if you'd talk to my kid about it. Sometimes, my girl expresses the desire to tell you exactly how deeply that scene frightened her. The scenes intrude and repeat when she is sick. It is sign of pain and or illness. (PANDAS sucks, btw.) I hate it for her. She hates it.

She wants to tell you, and I quote her directly,

"I wish you'd never made 'Brave' in the first place!!"

(Interestingly, she adores "Prince of Egypt". Thank you for that.)

My girl says she hates Emma Thompson, too, for voicing Elinor, but she hates you more for writing the scary scene. She'd like to talk to Emma Thompson, too, about why she chose to voice the character. My girl with autism thinks that writers and directors and actors and actresses are easy to reach on the phone or internet. I haven't been able to convince her otherwise.

Yes, I've talked about how 'brave' Elinor was to break the tradition for her daughter. Yes, I've talked about how the mother and daughter made up in the end. And about how 'brave' Merida was to stand up to her parents and to tradition. The story is about Elinor's journey as well as Merida's. And it was meant to make money, sell tickets, sell DVDs, not to scare viewers. We destroyed the DVD we owned. I have tried every angle I can think of. Yes, I have. Endlessly. Over-analyzed and over-explained the whole thing. Your writing and directing combined with the animation and voice are too real. Doesn't help that my friends say Elinor resembles an animated version of me. Strep and PANDAS and pain and illness still bring up the scene and the feelings with it, though, and no amount of rationalization has helped. She thinks talking to the author may help. *shrug* I don't know.

I continue to try. Keep reading:

My teenager, homeschooler, who has autism and a long list of developmental and academic delays and co-occurring conditions, the one who regressed and lost words and interaction, recently came up with the idea that something must have happened in Elinor's childhood. If you know anything about autism, this is a very big deal. Individuals with autism often have difficulty perspective taking. So for her to suggest that Elinor had an experience from her past that affected the way she behaved as a mother - well, that's a huge amount of perspective taking.

I suggested to my girl that she write a prequel to "Brave" that reveals why Elinor behaved the way she did. (I try to sneak in homeschooling wherever I can. *smile*) We've been discussing different possibilities of what might have happened when Elinor was a girl that made her so rigid and out of control in the ugly, frightening moment in "Brave". And today, Miss A wrote her first story line. Today is the first time that she put anything on paper. It doesn't seemed to have stopped the intrusive thoughts. But she is broadening her thinking process. And that is a positive. Brenda Chapman, do you have google alerts set for your name? That's the only way you'd ever see this. And if you see this and if you should ever write and direct a prequel to "Brave", I can connect you with a young lady with some good ideas to get you started. She'd be thrilled to collaborate. That same young lady sometimes thinks she'd like to be a voice actress, so she might be able to help you out in that capacity as well.
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