Oct 052017

Bruce wore tiger-striped reading glasses today. Some I picked up from the dollar store. He has no fashion sense and doesn’t care, so it’s amusing when he is accidentally in style.

He needed a bandage because he just had something on his face treated by the dermatologist. So I heard him yell, “Don’t tell me this is all we have for bandaids?”

I responded, “What? You don’t like bright purple ones? Lime green? How about the ones with hearts? Oh, and we have some with Minions on them!”

Tiger stripes framed the resignation in his eyes. He must have sensed what was not fashionable right then. Imagine that. 🙂

Bruce has always had my back. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did with Lilly without him. Working with a traumatized child is an uphill climb, and you have to have some help along the way. Maybe the “Bruce” in your life is a close friend, a brother, or a group of parents supporting each other. Don’t try to go for any length of time by yourself.

Where can you find some support? Try your local foster agency, either county or private. They will know about support groups. Ask around if you belong to a church. Here are organizations that are helpful:

BEYOND Trauma and Attachment (BETA)  A Facebook open support group . They offer humor, information, and retreats.

Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN)   Great international resource with a crisis hotline: 888-656-9806.

The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children is on Face Book. TLC 

Institute for Attachment and Child Development IACD

See my RESOURCE tab on the home page for more help. <3 Nealie

*(Minions is a trademark of Universal City Studios LLC)


Mar 102017

                                                                                                        Chasing Lilly

Chasing Lilly is meant to be a teaching tool for students in Psychiatry, Psychology, Counseling, and Intervention Specialties. That’s why there is a companion Discussion Workbook. Profs can use this true story as a case study. Students decide whether to confirm or disagree with Lilly’s diagnosis, talk over what could (or should) have been done in certain situations, medications, etc.

If you know a Professor or University Chair in any of these studies, please pass this on to them as they plan for the coming year. The books are available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble online.

Love my readers! Nealie

Dec 192016

fire safety

I was baking with my granddaughter, Ari, and had a candle with three wicks burning on the counter. Watching the flames made me think that  it would be a great time to give a little kitchen-fire safety talk.

I went over the basics:  if oil or grease is involved, never put water on it; put a lid on a pan that has caught fire; if there is no extinguisher; dump flour or sugar on the flames; stop, drop, and roll, etc.

Not more than two minutes after I finished, a napkin near the candle caught fire! I snatched it up to get it to the sink, but it burst into a fire-ball halfway there, and landed on the floor.

Ari yelled, “Dump flour on it!”

I did.

Do you have any idea how big of a mess that made? 😀

I still can’t get over how weird that all was, but please, go over fire safety with the kids, especially during this season when so many candles are burning.

Merry Christmas to you all!

🙂 Nealie


15 Awesome Alternatives to Screen Time

 Children, General Information  Comments Off on 15 Awesome Alternatives to Screen Time
Nov 112016

too much screen timeTime is short for raising our kids to be productive and happy adults. I think there are four groups of parents when it comes to kids and screen time:

-One uses gadgets for a babysitter and to free up their own time.

-The other group begrudgingly allows screen time, because that’s what all kids want to do, and they don’t want their child left out.

-The third group is a combination of the the other two: a little babysitter and a little of wanting their kids to have what’s popular.

-The fourth group opts out in favor of other activities. Steve Jobs was a surprising example.

The kids want TV and electronics because they are entertaining. At what cost? And eye contact, what is that?

Awesome Alternatives:

Give your child have a blank page on the computer to write a story. Their story-telling creativity might surprise you. Or they could write a letter. You could teach them how to scan, email, and print – all practical skills a video game can’t teach.

Indoor or outdoor challenges, like how many times can you bounce a ball without losing control of it? Then try to break the record! We have done an indoor balloon game where a balloon gets tossed in the air between two people, back and forth while you count how many times it was batted before it eventually lands on the floor. If the hits total 50, then next time try to get past fifty and break the record.

Reading. I used to have the kids read and then be prepared for questions when they were done with the book. Read a book together if your reader is young, by alternating pages between you.

Legos and Lincoln Logs increase manual dexterity and require creative thinking. There are many building-type products out there.

Scouts (They do all kinds of things!)

Life skills. Do your kids know how to wash windows, set the table for dinner, do a load of clothes, change a vacuum bag or empty the vac receptacle? Are you preparing them to be on their own someday?

Exercising. Most homes have the possibility for somehow doing laps in the house if the weather is bad. Right now, one grandson is up to 54 laps indoors. He runs through the kitchen and does a loop through the living room, down the hall and back to the kitchen. On the way, he scoops up a small weight and carries it a lap before bending down to put the weight back on the floor for the next lap, and alternating.

Play Doh sculpting.

Teach how to make a homemade birthday card or a thank you note.

Service to others makes a person feel good and teaches empathy. Ask, “What could you do to help so-and-so?”

Cards and board games teach winning and losing gracefully, and not quitting.

Scrabble. An awesome game that allows breaks between plays if they are needed.

Classic Battleship. If you’ve never played it, you have no idea what fun it is out-maneuvering your opponent.

Simple kitchen tasks that help with meal preparation will go a long way toward the goal of independence one day. Meals don’t magically appear!

Take a walk, ride bikes….fight couch potato syndrome and childhood obesity.

Love my readers, Nealie






Aug 062016

Chasing LillyThe beef and broccoli was fantastic, and when I cracked open the fortune cookie, it said, “Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort.”

Boy, isn’t that the truth?

I was definitely wrapped a little tighter when Lilly first came to us. It didn’t take long for her bizarre antics to force an expansion of my comfort zone. Before I knew it, I was wresting in public with a tiny girl, chasing her down, and once even jumped  fully dressed into a pool to grab her.

I can’t say that I ever got comfortable with all of that, but there was enough of it to loosen me up a bit!

My end goal for Chasing Lilly and the discussion workbook is for colleges and universities to use it to equip students in Intervention Specialties, Counseling, and Psychiatry. When you read the book, you will feel my discomfort, (as well as laugh your head off), and you will understand better how to respond when children with similar issues come your way.

And they will.

The Curriculum and Discussion Workbook offers some lively and engaging classroom discussion, and this two book set will prepare you for the Lilly’s that will be in your classroom or office someday, like nothing else can.

Love my readers, Nealie

Jun 202016

A friend of mine was about a year out from a stroke and doing very well. She babysat for a few hours and afterwards had a good deal of difficulty walking. Concerned, she chalked it up to residual after-effects of the stroke, and hobbled along.

When she got home and took off her shoes, a tiny plastic hippo fell out of one shoe. During the babysitting stint, she had removed her shoes, and the baby hippo had somehow been dropped into one of them.

We had a good laugh after that story, and her relief was physical as well as mental.

I couldn’t help thinking that we all hobble along so many times when there is no need to suffer, worry, or be sick. The problem is actually something that can be corrected. I’m talking to myself here, too.

Is there something that you’re putting up with that you don’t have to? Have you become accustomed to it? Did it sneak into your life or drop in when you weren’t looking? Sometimes things build, and we don’t realize that things need to change until we have that breakdown, that stroke, or that relationship problem.

Time for a well-check.

Take care of yourself. -Nealie


Apr 242016

For a long time every morning I would pass a sign that said, “Miss a Day, Miss a Deal.”

I hated that sign. I don’t even shop there. But that slogan … it made me slightly anxious, because it implied that I was missing something.

Stupid, I know. It goes in the same category as comments such as, “Why did you do that?” Why did I do what?

I remember being at my sister’s house when she was dying. She ordered me to pack her things in boxes, and to use packing tape to seal them. I haven’t been able to hear that rip of packing tape without sadness since that day.

Think of something that causes a little anxiety for you. If little things like these can get us going sometimes, imagine what might trigger a traumatized child.

The color of a room may bring back bad memories.

A certain noise may be a trigger. Maybe it preceded abuse.

Seasons, holidays, people with dark hair/light hair -who knows? We need to be sensitive to the things that may seem to be triggers, and not just chalk-up behavior to disobedience or defiance.

If there are problem behaviors that defy reasoning, then maybe something like this is at work. Pay attention to repeated reactions to certain people or things. Trauma kids often don’t even know why they get upset, so we need to help them by paying attention. Say a child has a memory of dropping their ice cream cone and getting beaten for the mess it made. It would be easy to assume that ice cream could be a trigger. Who would think that something that is good and fun to you, could be a negative for a child?

Keep a log of episodes and what went on those days. What season was it? Where were you? Any sounds in the background? Any different foods served?

A therapist with trauma training and knowledge can be valuable.

Listening to other trauma-parents can also be helpful.

Love my readers, Nealie


Apr 122016

Lilly is in her twenties and wants to smoke. She’s told me that she has the right to smoke cigarettes, and she is correct.

The only thing that I could come up with (to deter her), was to say that I also have a right. I have a right to stop bringing sweets when I visit her, if she starts smoking cigarettes.

Today she asked me again about getting a hooka pipe. That was probably the 20th time she has asked. Picturing Lilly with a big hooka pipe makes me giggle. Can’t help it. I think that she means an electronic cigarette.

So, do my readers have any input here, other than getting religious on me? (I don’t think that smoking will keep you out of heaven, but you will get there faster if you smoke.) What about an electronic cigarette? What are the potential dangers to Lilly and those around her, and what are the costs?

Do you think that she should smoke an electronic cigarette? Do you think she should get a hooka pipe?

Can you think of other ways to talk her out of it?

Developmentally disabled people can and do drink, smoke, and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. I added a new resource that will help families of DD people navigate when this happens.

Love my readers, Nealie

Apr 102016

Author's FairI spent part of yesterday at the Stark County District Library main branch at an Author’s Fair. What was exciting about it for me, was that I actually had a few proof books with me. That means that Chasing Lilly is almost ready to be purchased in hard copy form, for those of you who have been waiting for that. The Chasing Lilly Curriculum and Discussion Workbook will follow soon after! Amazon sells the electronic versions if you prefer those.

I shared a spot with Artist BZTAT, and wanted to tell you that she has the coolest coloring books featuring cats, and she does very affordable digital pet portraits that require only a photo of your favorite pet. Check out her work!

Help for Caregivers Who Can See No Way Out

 Chasing Lilly, General Information, Life's Difficulties, RAD parenting  Comments Off on Help for Caregivers Who Can See No Way Out
Mar 132016

I almost didn’t see the tiny insert in the newspaper, but my eyes immediately stopped on the heading, “Ohio Woman Kills Daughter, Self.” Something told me why, and as I read further, it was confirmed.

“Authorities say two people are dead in southwestern Ohio after a woman shot and killed her adult daughter and then killed herself… the bodies of the 54-year-old mother and her 24-year-old developmentally disabled daughter were found . . . Police said the mother left a note saying life was too difficult . . .” (The Canton Repository, 3/12/16, bold is mine.)

Of particular interest to me is the despair and hopelessness that results when a caregiver is overwhelmed. I have had that feeling more than once. It can happen with postpartum depression, raising a DD child, or with elder-care. It is vital that you share with someone how you are feeling!

My focus is naturally more on the despair brought about by being over-worked, overly-tired, and under-supported when caring for a developmentally disabled child, because of Lilly, and my work with her. (Chasing Lilly, on Amazon)

If you are in this situation,

  1. You have to tell someone how you are feeling! If they don’t take you seriously, tell someone else.
  2. If you have nobody to talk to, call  a crisis hotline. They are trained to offer advice and resource options. Call as often as you need. There’s nothing worse than finding out that something that could have helped you was in place, but you never knew it. Look that number up today and post it nearby.
  3. Start by contacting your county DD board. Contact your SSA worker. (SSA =Service & Support Administration) Go to the county web site and get names and numbers that might help. Make the calls.
  4. Contact your state Department of Developmental Services, (or similar title). This agency has a Deputy Director, and the websites will give contact information. You may qualify for help that you didn’t know was there. These people know how to help, if all else fails at the local level.
  5. Be frank. Don’t skirt the issues because you are embarrassed about your inability to cope. Many people suffer in silence, and then we read an news article like the one above.
  6. Leave a paper trail. Document your calls for help, any emails sent, etc. Use these when you are contacting people so they will see the seriousness of your situation, and the potential liability that might result should you send out call after call for help with no action resulting.
  7. Find a support group. Even if you cannot leave the house for now, find a support group and ask for phone contact with some members who are willing to reach out to you until something is in place where you can go to a meeting. (If you parent RAD kids, I highly recommend BETA: Beyond Trauma and Attachment, because they have a Facebook family that offers encouragement, as well as retreats.)
  8. Take care of yourself. Easier said than done, you say, and you are right. This can look like a shower, a salad, or a call to that crisis hotline. Do something to counter the downward spiral. Hang in there -Nealie <3