Monday, May 19, 2014

I Just Finished Reading: Dads of Disability

Dads of Disability is a collection of essays, poems and stories by and about Dads and how they cope with being a father to a disabled child. These stories were collected and edited by Gary Dietz, also a father to a disabled child.

Author's Synopsis-

This is not a 'how-to' book or a book of '5-ways to do this' or '10-ways to do that.' Rather, this collection uses a storytelling approach to illuminate the emotional lives of these fathers. Dads of Disability will begin or extend the conversation between and amongst fathers, mothers, extended families, care circles, and individuals with disabilities themselves. This book is for fathers and mothers. For friends and support circles. For care professionals. For teachers. For friends trying to understand their neighbor's challenges. For anyone interested in the variety of the emotional lives of fathers whose children experience a disability. "

Each essay or poem gives an in depth look inside the mind and heart of a dad at various crucial and defining moments in his parenthood journey. These are not just feel good Hallmark stories.  These aren't stories of saints in suits swooping in like Superman saving the day without breaking a sweat. No, these are real dads dealing with real life struggles of parenting a disabled child. And while they do sometimes save the day, the men in these stories don't want to be seen as heroes. They just want to be seen as dads.

Every story is brutally honest, such as the story of the man who admits that he considered running away in a time of weakness and despair, but after contemplating the benefits of own childhood with a present, dependable and steadfast father in his life, has no choice but to reconsider.

One father talks about how reluctant he was to consider his wife's observations that "something was wrong". His struggle to overcome denial and walk into acceptance is a journey any parent of a child with disability can appreciate.

Another dad talks about learning, accepting and respecting his son's limits. He learns the hard way that there's a thin line between encouraging and pushing too hard.

Still another dad talks about the anticipation he felt when learning he was of having a son. He reminisces on how he planned to bond and to share father and son activities with his child. His child's severe disabilities changed all of those well-laid plans. This dad had to learn to adjust, accept and appreciate the kind of relationship he can have with son.

The are also stories by women about the dads of these children. One of my personal favorites was by a wife writing with such admiration for the fix-it dad armed only with his tool kit who manages to make all kinds of adaptations for his physically disabled son so that he can enjoy the same experience as other kids his age, even when it may scare his mom to death!

As the father of a severely disabled teenager, Gary Dietz didn't just collect and edit these essays, he has added his own voice to the stories in this book. His passion about the changing roles of fathers, especially of disabled children inspired this crowd sourced and crowd funded labor of love. Visit Gary's blog here.

There are many sites, blogs, support groups for mothers of special needs children. As a mom of one of those children, I can assure you these are definitely needed. Before reading "Dads of Disability" I never realized that Dad's have their own unique feelings and experiences about parenting special needs children. Their voice also deserves to be heard. Reading these stories prompted me to have conversations in my own house about how our journeys and experiences can differ greatly while parenting the same child. The desire for a deeper dialogue is the greatest gift a book like this can give.*

Want to Read "Dads of Disability"? Go here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Can your marriage be saved?

This is a question that has been asked by many a couple in trouble. I've been asked personally and have even asked the question about my own marriage from time to time. Every marriage goes through tough times. Mundane disagreements aren't a reason to consider divorce. Sow how do you know if your marriage or relationship is entering the danger zone? While there are huge red flags like abuse, addiction, and serial cheating that warrant an intervention, a lawyer, a doctor, or a priest (maybe all three), there are some times when the situation is a bit more subtle. Here are some telltale signs that you should watch for.

  1. You don't talk anymore. I don't just mean you're giving the silent treatment. after an argument. I mean are you talking about your day, your job, friends your feeling. Are you talking about your marriage? Are you sharing your dreams and your fears? Or are you just talking about who forgot to take out the trash and who's turn it is to carpool? A lack of personal intimate exchanges with your spouse could mean big trouble.
  2. You've already "un-coupled" if you have you stopped even trying to spend time together. Do you only come together for the kids and lead separate lives otherwise? Are you making weekend plans without even considering your spouse? Do either of you spend all your free time online or with friends to avoid being with each other. If it feels like a relief to be away from your mate. You have already disengaged from the marriage.
  3. You start keeping a scorecard. You used to give and take freely in your relationship, but now you are playing tit for tat. If you start actively keeping mental notes comparing how much you are contributing and how much your partner isn't, something is amiss.
  4. He can do no right. Are you constantly criticizing him? Or maybe you feel like your every move is being watched and nitpicked? Sometimes its easier to funnel larger issues into negative criticisms of day to day tasks than to address what's really bothering us.
  5. One or both of you is cheating or dancing dangerously close to it. This one is a no-brainer.If you are sleeping with someone else, your marriage is in trouble. Maybe you're having an emotional affair or engaging in an online relationship. All of these these mean trouble for your marriage. I believe you can have a happy marriage after an infidelity but it takes an awesome amount of work on both parts.
  6.  Maybe you're not having sex outside or inside your relationship. When couples lose their physical connection, often times the emotional connection soon follows.
If you find that you are experiencing one or more of these situations in your marriage it's time to take step back and re-evaluate your relationship. While these can be serious relationship quandaries, you aren't beyond help. You can definitely seek out professional help or maybe your pastor, priest or rabbi. However, maybe one (or both) of you aren't comfortable with the idea of a third party in your relationship. This doesn't mean you can't save your own marriage. I did.  And in this upcoming blog series, I'm going to show you how I did it in the hopes that maybe I can help someone else.

Stay tuned for the 1st episode in the Save Your Marriage Series : Reevaluate Your Relationship.....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Top Five Insane Moments from Being Mary Jane Episode 1

So confession, I didn't actually watch Being Mary Jane when it came on last year. I meant to, so I DVR'd it, and I meant to get around to it, but I never did. The one of my kids mistakenly erased while making room for Teen Wolf and Pretty Little Liars and Magic City (okay maybe that was me,.) But I caught up with the two hour special and first episode last night and I gotta tell you. I was pleasantly surprised. I might be a fan. So here's the top five moments from season premiere of Being Mary Jane.

1. The opening scene starts with Mary Jane ( Gabrielle Union) running to the rescue of Lisa. Lisa seems to have attempted suicide, she's had some wine and a lot of pills. Lisa also hasn't done this dishes in weeks. The mess in her kitchen could have driven anyone to drink. Mary Jane breaks the window, to get through the door. She finds her passed out friend and saves the day. She even cleans up that gross kitchen. What makes this insane you ask? Who the hell is Lisa? She wasn't in the two hour movie, she wasn't mentioned again. There was no explanation of who she was and why she was trying to kill herself, besides that she's "lonely". So I'm sorry, but what? I have a suspicion that maybe this scene was just so we can see what kind of friend MJ is. Selfless loyal and all that. However, it was a bit cray cray .

2. I thought it was sweet that David waited at her house all night while she took care of friend. It was all good until Andre shows up at her gate and David goes down to see who the he is. I just about died! I was covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers. Homeboy tried to play it of with the whole,"Oh I was lost" play, but as we see later on David wasn't buying it. Mary Jane peeking through the window watching new Boo and old Boo size each other up was fantastic. That was so real. I mean I'm just saying I've heard some people say that it's happened to them. Ahem, moving on.

3. So I know I'm not the only one died when Avery came to the office under the guise of a fan. Seriously what was she thinking? She wanted all the details of the affair, I mean like all the nitty gritty. I don't know who I was more uncomfortable for.

4. So what about that intense Hurricane Kenny scene? I felt for MJ as she was trying to stand up for her principles and against her friend. We saw it on the previous episode with the the story she was forced to cover the rapey women over the "Are Black Women ugly" story. Doing what's right for her over whats right for ratings is probably going to be running theme in this show. And Kara ditching her kid's recital for work..hmm. She's already said she lost her husband over her work. I guess she didn't learn her lesson.

5. Craziest, Most Insane moment? After Mary Jane has had a day from hell, between her mom calling constantly (Side Note Shug Avery still looks amazing!) her insanity at work and her newly ex-boyfriend's wife showing up to discuss her sex life she's had enough. And as she trying to sweat that out on the treadmill, who shows up but said newly ex-boyfriend who's MARRIED. At this moment we say how vulnerable MJ is. She's angry at him sure, but she's also been deeply hurt by someone who said they loved her. And I was feeling for her, especially when she went on his phone and saw his kids. She compliments his family nd she cries and theh.. THEY KISS??? WTF?  I was yelling No! No! No! at the screen. They get all steamy up in shower. And me being my neurotic self, although I was all "OMG he's married MJ no don't do it". I was also like eww those are the gyms showers there are so many germs, eww, yuck, stop. But I digress.

So the first episode was intense and very well done ( except for that random friend). I will be putting this on the DVR list. Right next to Teen Wolf. So tell me did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Five Ways to Teach Your Children to Give at Christmas

The holiday season can be wonderful fun for children. However, the amount of consumerism targeting children at this time of year can foster a "gimme" mentality in your children. To avoid your family missing out on the beauty and charity of the season, here are five ways to teach them to give instead of get at Christmas.

  1.  Create a family Charity Jar. Have your whole family donate to the jar. Try skipping that morning latte once a week, or gather up the spare change in your car to throw a few coins or dollars a week into your family jar. Encourage your kids to donate a portion of their allowance or birthday money to the jar. Once your jar is full, use the internet to research charities that support causes that interest your children. For instance if your children are animal lovers perhaps you can use the money to donate toys or food to the local animal shelter. The most important part is to let them be a part of the process.
  2. Let your children help shop for gifts for another family members, friends or a neighbor. If you want your children to understand the joy of giving, let them give. Take your children to an inexpensive thrift store or a dollar store, sometimes local churches have a holiday sale where kids can go buy items for a dollar or two. You can also bake cookies to give to neighbors and family members.
  3. It's not all about money. Have your family give the gift of time and companionship. Family out of time, have your children put together a holiday video message for the family that can't be there. Visit and elderly neighbor and see if they need any help with household chores. Walk the dog of a sick friend. 
  4. Serve the needy. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens need all the help they can get during the holidays. Sign your family up for a shift serving a holiday dinner. Donate canned goods to a food drive. Let your kids help decorate and deliver the baskets to a needy .
  5. When Christmas morning finally arrives take turns opening gifts. Let each family member open one gift and wait until everyone else has opened a gift before taking another turn.. This allows everyone to see what the other person received, slows down that frenzy of ripping open gifts and moving on. This helps the children appreciate each gift and teaches patience and respect.

With a little planning and ingenuity you and your family can have loads of fun giving and getting this holiday season.