• anxiety,  autism,  family,  travel

    New York Trip Part 1: If we can make it there, we’ll make it anywhere

    I feel like Sinatra’s words couldn’t be more appropriate for today’s blog post—in the most literal sense. When we started our Spring(ish) Break: New York Tour we knew there’d be some hurdles to navigate. Steve chose New York as our spring break destination months ago and we knew that despite the hurdles, there were things working in our favour. Steve’s sister Heather lives in New Jersey, just an hour’s train ride into the city. Steve and I both have been to New York before and we figured we’d be able to pick out some things our kids would enjoy seeing. But still we anticipated a few hiccups and knew with…

  • autism,  family,  mental health


    Give me a bag of donuts like the one little W is holding and I might make it a few more weeks in this weather. I’ve been trying really hard–really really hard–not to complain about these last few weeks of winter. One of my pet peeves is when people complain about cold weather. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me but I find it slightly offensive when people say, “I hate winter. I could never live in a cold place.” One of my biggest pet peeves is when we’re visiting friends or family outside of North Dakota and people find out we’re from Fargo and the first thing they say is,…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  mental health,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Golden Students

    Two weeks ago, W and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking through her AP Human Geography Packet answers. She’s been struggling to keep her grades up in that class, so Steve and I have been doing a little more intervention. We’ve been monitoring her homework in that class. We never, ever monitor her homework. But this is a “college” class, and will count for “college credit” if she passes the AP exam. It will also permanently affect her transcript when she applies for college, so we decided we better see what’s going on. Our first strategy? having her read her homework responses to us and talking through them…

  • autism,  Education,  family,  IEP,  learning strategies

    The Autism Influence

    It’s sometimes hard for me to separate the autism influence from our lives outside of autism. It always takes some shape or form in my writing. I write about autism on a weekly basis on this blog. Even though my current novel takes place in World War II and has nothing to do with autism, there’s still a character in there who struggles with mental health difficulties and I’m constantly reflecting on our own experiences to help me understand my character’s motivations better. That autism influence is always in the back of my mind. Steve has his own version of the autism influence too, and for him it started with…

  • autism,  family,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    The Right One

    This post was supposed to be about Monday night’s trip up to Crookston, Minnesota to watch Temple Grandin speak but that will have to be next week’s post because something else has hijacked our week. We brought a dog home. Everyone in this family has been wanting a dog ever since we had to put Fred down (you can read about that here). Everyone, that is, except for Steve. For a year and a half, the kids and I have been begging Steve for a new dog. Finally, in December, Steve agreed to one and we surprised the kids with this card on Christmas letting them know we could start…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  siblings and autism

    All hands on deck

    This week was “all hands on deck” and by Tuesday night we very quickly realized that we were in desperate need of more hands. This was W’s first experience with finals, and to get her through the week took as much mental muster for me as it did when I worked with J (although in very different ways). W, on her own, got up at 6 am every morning to study for the finals scheduled for that particular day and didn’t go to bed until 10 pm each night. She was very stressed out (I think partly because she didn’t know what to expect and partly because “everything from now…

  • autism,  family

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! We are so grateful for friends and family and hope you all have a splendid holiday. J sang this song for church a few Sundays ago, and we recorded it again yesterday so you can enjoy J’s song of praise 🙂 After J’s church performance, a friend came up to me and said she bawled through the whole thing. “He’s not an opera singer, but he sure was brave and sang with his heart.” My sentiments exactly 🙂 Please follow and like us:

  • family,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Let’s talk “neurotypical” stress

    This time of year is a stressful time of year. And right now I’m not talking about autism stress. Steve and I have been talking about the next few weeks and the things that are stressing us out. It’s funny. As “neurotypicals” I find that we talk about stress in a very different way than when we talk about J’s stress. We talk about it in the abstract. It’s something to dance around or endure. We use vague words like “busy” or “responsibilities”  or “I’m just stressed out.”  And as a writer, I feel like I should know better. I should be using my words better, because when I describe…

  • autism,  family,  high school,  teen years

    Scattered Brain, Scattered Thoughts

    I’m not really sure what to write about for this week’s post. I’m really feeling so many things as my kids gear up for a new school year. I’m ready and I’m not ready, and right now I’m just trying to make it to the finish line (end of summer) or starting line (a new school year, however you choose to look at it). I know I’m not running at full mental capacity–I’m forgetting texts, am working off of two different calendars (one with my general responsibilities, the other with orthodontic appointments, XC meets, XC practice times that switch from one week to the next). My brain is on lock-down…

  • autism,  family,  travel

    Ohana means family

    Every two years, Steve’s family has been trying to do a “destination family reunion” where Steve’s four other siblings, their families, and my mother-in-law all meet up somewhere and share part of the summer holiday as a family. This time everyone wanted to hold the reunion in Hawaii and it was an exhausting, exhilarating, and lovely time. It was kind of a big deal too. Big meaning the travel out to Hawaii was quite the adventure. Our family got out the door by 8:17 am July 12, drove up to Winnipeg, caught a 2:30 flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver, and then flew out of Vancouver at 6:10 and arrived at 10:30…