What is it like raising a child with Special Needs? We hear from Linda Atwell.

Linda is the author of Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs. I thought it would be interesting to find out about her life with a special needs child.  Here are her words.


A fellow passenger on a cruise ship recently called me a “helicopter mom”—you know, the kind of parent who hovers over her child. In that moment, I was equally amused and irritated by his tag. I believe this gentleman came to his conclusion during dinner. I had leaned over, and in a low voice, asked my thirty-seven-year-old daughter if she would like help cutting her chicken breast into smaller pieces. Lindsey quietly answered, “Yes, please.” Then I asked if I could adjust her water and soda goblets within easy reach. Again, her response: “Yes, please.”

In most cases, asking an adult child these questions would raise eyebrows. But my daughter has essential tremors. When she uses her fine motor skills—in circumstances such as cutting poultry—her exaggerated movements will shake a table. Had there not been full water and/or wine glasses at each of the six place settings, I would have encouraged my daughter to attempt this task. In this instance, I understood if Lindsey tried to cut the meat herself, her tremors would cause the stemware to tremble as if a strong earthquake had suddenly struck the area. And, I also recognized she might be embarrassed—especially if one of the glasses tumbled over and spilled its contents across the tablecloth and onto the laps of the other guests.

In addition to essential tremors, my daughter has also been diagnosed with developmental disabilities. Years ago, in 1986, Oregon Health Science University doctors explained that Lindsey has a short in her neurological system and will never process information the same as her peers. In many social situations, our daughter is high functioning. For instance, if the subject being discussed is of interest to her, she can carry on a pretty darn good conversation. If it isn’t, well, she will likely block out the goings-on around her, and without an ounce of self-consciousness, will pick at her cuticles, play with a blemish, or tug at the string hanging from her skirt.

Still, my daughter has achieved many life goals—the same objectives as many of her “typical” contemporaries. Currently, Lindsey lives in her own apartment. For the last ten years, she has worked a part-time job filing paperwork in the back room of a local insurance agent’s office. She tells anyone who asks, “I work full-time, two hours a day.” She has adopted two kittens, Sally and Cuddles, which she feeds, waters, and regularly cleans out their litter box—all on her own. Lindsey has also sponsored three little girls from the Philippines. Ever since she was sixteen, on the first day of every month, my daughter walks to the Safeway store in our small town, buys a twelve-dollar money order, and mails it to Children International. In exchange for her money, Lindsey receives pictures and notecards from her sponsor kids. “My beautiful daughters,” she states proudly, showing me their photographs.

I doubt the majority of my family members and good friends would ever call me a helicopter parent, yet if you go by Merriam-Webster’s definition: A parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child—I might actually be one.

On the other hand, if you checked out’s definition of a helicopter parent, I doubt I’d qualify: A style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother or father discourages a child’s independence by being too involved in the child’s life.

Not only do my husband and I encourage our daughter’s independence, we applaud every single accomplishment she makes in that direction—and so does Lindsey. We want her to live on her own, but we feel fortunate, because she truly wants that for herself, too.

Considering Lindsey’s disabilities, we should probably hover more. We expect, in areas she is able, for her to complete whatever tasks she can to the best of her ability. Besides keeping her body and apartment clean, washing her clothes, getting herself to work on time, and taking her numerous prescribed medications (all things she is capable of doing), I also expect her to be responsible with money.

For instance, she receives Social Security Disability benefits, and as her representative payee, at the beginning of every month, I write out all the checks she will need during the next thirty or so days. Lindsey is then accountable for mailing or hand delivering the payments on time. So far, she has done this duty without any problems. Some of the checks I write are to be cashed weekly or bi-monthly. Those are to be spent for fun outings, personal expenses, or on groceries. She uses the envelope method, putting the cash in three #10 envelopes (labeled accordingly) for safekeeping. When the envelope is empty, she doesn’t have any more funds till the next check is scheduled to be cashed. When my daughter overspends, instead of giving her more funds, she generally goes without.

So, are these tactics considered tough love parenting? Or, as that fellow cruiser suggested, am I a helicopter mom? After all, I have set up fairly strict systems so Lindsey can achieve success.

In reality, I think we strive for “responsible parenting.” We’ve taught our daughter that she is capable of making decisions and that she is accountable for her choices. We believe those are skills she needs to continue living an independent lifestyle.

Self-sufficiency isn’t a gift. It is hard work—at least it is in our daughter’s case.

Wow. What great insight into Lindsey’s life. Sounds to me like the goober who said Linda was a helicopter parent should mind his own dang business (which he should have been doing anyway)! I believe Lindsey’s parents have set their daughter up for success in a way that’s good for everyone. Mom and dad get to see Lindsey succeed, knowing they are helping some but not all and Lindsey is empowered by the choices she makes within the parameters her parents have set for her.

Ignore the haters, Linda; I’m Team LINDSEY!  Are you a special needs parent? What are your feelings about being called a helicopter parent?

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Children Diversity

The Little Tree by Muon Van

In the shadows of an old forest stood a little tree. She was so small, she was the smallest tree of all.

Opening lines are EVERYTHING to me.

Doesn’t that opening line just KILL?

It sets up the scene, starts the emotions rolling and lets you know you’re in for a great story. I’m almost near tears already!

The Little Tree by Muon Van

As the little tree sends her little seed out into the world, she wonders what will become of it.  One day she finds out. And when she does, OMG will you cry! There are so many different ways to love this book! The author of the book is of Vietnamese descent and discusses the families emigration from Vietnam to Hong Kong and then to the U.S. These feelings are depicted in the illustrations as well. Parents will appreciate the story because that’s exactly how it feels to send a small child out into the world: magical and frightening at the same time. Children will love the story because of the gentle way the tale unfolds, the soft drawings and the feeling of magic and wonder. So much diversity and multiculturalism without saying a word about it. LOVE!

The Little Tree is sure to be a favorite! Add this to your Diversity Reading Challenge.

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

I am Jazz. A Book for Transgendered Children.

Here’s a book I love about a young girl and her family who figured out early on that she was different.

I am Jazz.

A gentle understanding of kids who are born into the wrong bodies.  I can’t express enough how important this is. All kids need acceptance.
Also? This book is OBVIOUSLY a qualifier for the Diversity Challenge!

Banned Books

Banned Books Week-And Tango Makes Three.

Here’s a book for the littles:

3. And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Here’s my review.

I’m pretty sure it’s obvious why this book was challenged; it “promotes the homosexual agenda”. This book is
so adorable it hurts.

Check it out!

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Children

Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown? by Maria Leonard Olsen

If you’re white, you probably don’t get asked too many questions about your heritage. To be sure, you probably identify as Irish, Italian, Polish, or whatever. But have you ever gotten asked why your skin is pink or white or whatever color it is? Probably not. Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown? Is a question one mother was asked by her children. Kids are naturally curious and there probably isn’t any judgement in the question, they just want to know why your skin looks one way while their skin looks another. 17915819 The author answers the child’s questions with a candor that a child can understand: we are different colors because you are a mix of both Mommy’s color and Daddy’s color. People are all different shades of colors. The author and I share a similar problem:  I’ve been the recipient of these kinds of questions all my life and so have my children.  The mother in the story handles it beautifully. I do not think I’ve always handled these difficult questions as tactfully or as gently as this mother does.  There is a lesson in this book for everyone.  This title would make a great addition to any family’s (or school’s) library. My takeaway? Stop asking questions. Just let people BE the color they are! This book qualifies for the Diversity Challenge. Why are YOU the color you are?


Zen the Zebra My #FridayReads by SwordPen Publishing


Let’s celebrate making it through another week by sharing our #FridayReads. Here’s two I’m reading today:

Zen the Zebra by William Tellem



Zen the Zebra is a delightful morality tale of a zesty zebra named Zen (see what I did there?) who feels great about himself, regardless of what others say.  I don’t want to spoil it for you but let’s just say he has to prove himself and in the end everyone wins! Isn’t this the kind of uplifting tale kids of any age need? No matter what you look like, we’re all still the same at heart? Whatever your bottom line is for the moral of this tale, it’s a great one.

And now, I want a zebra too (I’m channeling that girl from Willy Wonka who stomped her feet cuz she wanted a goose that laid golden eggs)!

I don’t know where I’d put it and I don’t think my beloved pooch would care for it, but whatever, he’s so cute!

And speaking of Bailey, remember all those times your little one asked you if you loved them? It wasn’t too long ago when my littles asked me the same question!  Here’s a book that describes a similar conversation with a father and his young son.

Of Course I Love You! by Zev Lewinson



To be sure, the only little in my house right now is Bailey, and maybe in dog years he’s 56 but he’s still my baby! Anyway, he and I read Of Course I Love You! together.  As the father tells his son, “I’d wrestle an alligator for you…”

What’s your #FridayReads?

Books [email protected]

Garden Parties are the Perfect time to discuss #diarrhea #Blogust

I recently had the chance to share my love of books and tea parties with a lovely group of littles in an outdoor garden party!

gardenteaparty Collage


Aren’t these little partygoers adorable??? Many thanks to my friend Darla at HeartWork Organizing for opening her home and sharing her littles and their friends with me. We raised money for [email protected] which I’m proud to say will help protect children by providing necessary vaccines so they can have a shot at life.

Wouldn’t it be FABULOUS if I could travel the world and have tea parties for kids all over the globe?

Give a kid a [email protected] Parties by donating.

Thanks, from the bottom of my teacup!


Adult Fiction Books Young Adult

I Love Having Friends Who Read! Week 2

I Love Having Friends Who Read!

Friends Who Read.jpg

Last week I started sharing my friends who read with you. Isn’t it great when you love a book and your friends love it too? Dontcha love chatting with friends about that one page when that character did that one thing? It’s awesome isn’t it?

Here’s more:

Brandi, of Mama Knows It All, stays up on all her parenting tips by reading  Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp


Colleen is ALWAYS cooking over at Souffle Bombay. You can imagine my surprise when she told me she wasn’t reading a cookbook, but rather

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, which is part of the Outlander Series.


I’ve heard so much about this series I hope to try it before the summer ends.

Steph, of Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom, is like the kid sister I never wanted. Just kidding. Steph’s boundless enthusiasm for everything is contagious. I wasn’t surprised when she announced she’d just finished

Hunger Games

I love that Steph and I share a love of YA!

Real: The Kitchen and Beyond, is home to my Heather. I love Heather and her kiddos.  Hard. She’s like the good little sister who never wanted me as an older and sinister sister but tolerates me because I’m good to her kids. haha. Her #1 son and I share a special love of middle grade books.  We bonded over Chronicles of Narnia. She’s reading


A Carol for Kent by Hallee Bridgeman, classified as Christian fiction.

That’s all for this week. See ya next week!

Books Children

For the Graduate: They Grow Up So Fast!

It’s graduation season! Many of you are planning, partying, or crying over the fact that your little one is graduating (or will graduate) SOON.  Many of your little ones are graduating from

  • preschool
  • kindergarten
  • elementary school
  • middle school
  • high school
  • college

It’s all very exciting and emotional at the same time.  I, too, have a little one graduating. My first born, the one I made all my mistakes on, has graduated from college! Who knew they let toddlers graduate from college?

It’s true, little ones grow up so fast; but have no fear, I have a book for practically every graduation group.


To be sure, this list is not exhaustive; but just a few that caught my eye;

  • The Very Fairy Princess; Graduation Girl
  • The Berenstain Bears’ Graduation Day
  • I Just Graduated: Now What?
  • 10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said
  • Lean In for Graduates

So no matter the age of your graduate, hug em tight, and tell them you love them!

Here’s one of me and my little graduate:







Adult Fiction Books

Bridget Jones Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

I’m so excited to have finished the latest Bridget Jones book! I’m one of many Helen Fielding fans who breathlessly waited for the release of her latest book. In fact, I waited on line for 30 minutes at Book Expo America to secure what I thought was a signed copy of the latest book.  It wasn’t. I did get to meet the author though, and embarrass myself thoroughly.  Second time that week I got escorted out…Just kidding.