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Fiction Friday: Joe and Annie’s Marital Spat

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here’s a new excerpt from Slippery Slope.  The main characters are having a marital spat…due to her, uh…indiscretion, but no one knows just how slippery the slope can be.  A work of original fiction. 

         “Joe is in the master bedroom unpacking his suitcase from New York.  He hangs his garment bag over the closet door.  The tension is thick as I open and close drawers to our dresser, putting laundry away.    

       “She called me, you know,” he said abruptly. 

       I shook my head–confused, distracted, “Who called you?” 

       “The other day…Madi’s principal.” 

       My whole body grows cold, like ice.  My head feels dizzy, my mouth dry. 

      “Where were you?  Why were you late?” 

       I shove some socks into a drawer, turned to close it with my hips, “I….uh…was just running late,” I offered. 

       I fiddled with the laundry basket–that funny little piece that had broken off, flapping like a broken appendage—thinking of an excuse on the fly—or look distracted so I could concoct a better answer.  I was having lunch with my ex-boyfriend from before I knew you. 

       Joe sucked in a deep breath and asked, “Running late…doing what?” The man was tenacious. 

      Breezily, I respond, “Oh, you know…running around taking care household errands…and…one of those market research studies I do from time to time for extra cash.  Traffic got bad.” 

      As if that explained it all, Joe nodded and said, “Well, I was worried.  I mean, it’s not good for Madi to be last in line for pick-up.  Not that I could have done anything about it myself, but well…”  That’s your job, you big bozo of a mother. 

      “So, I could have died in a car crash and that is why I was late to preschool, and you are worried about Madi being the last kid for pick-up?” 

        “No, no.  That’s not what I said, Annie.”  He cleared his voice, “I just was worried—first, if there was a problem with you, and second how Madi was feeling.  I hated being the last kid for pick-up from school, sports, whatever…and I don’t want our daughters to feel that way, either.” 

     “That’s not what you said.  Your first concern was Madi.” 

     “Well, can you blame me?!  She is only three after all.  You are the mature, responsible adult here, her mother.” 

     My shoulders slumped, my eyes narrowed, “Don’t you go around making me out to be some irresponsible, soap-opera-watching, bon-bon-eating mother who forgets about her own children!  I know very well what my role is and I take it seriously.  It’s a lot of work running after these kids and keeping the house tidy.  If you don’t believe me, why don’t you give it try?  I will go off and do some work in some other city for awhile and eat fancy food, stay in a fancy hotel and call you on my cell phone for a change.”  

       “Fine!  Okay—let’s trade places, Annie.  You can go to work every day and deal with bosses and deadlines and make presentations and try to get your work published in research journals, maybe submit some things for a conference.  You can be away from your family for days on end and have to make small talk with people you barely know.  Bet you don’t even know how to manage a team of individuals, do you?  You can worry about whether or not you’ll get a promotion or a bonus…or fired, even!” 

     I felt the backs of my eyes prick, tears threatening to let loose, though I didn’t understand why.  Was it because I was being made out to be a dumb housewife, or was it because Joe was raising his voice at me, something he rarely did?

Fiction Friday: Progress Makes You Insane

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By Leslie Lindsay

Fiction Friday:  Work-in-Progress from "Slippery Slope"

I am feeling a bit nutty these days as my novel is nearing a turning point: the end.  My female protagonist may be losing a little bit as well.  Remember, this is original work from a novel-in-progress…please do not take as your own. 

And here we go… some old stuff I dusted off for Slippery Slope: 

“I breathed in the crisp fall air.  The leaves falling gently in golden hues as the sun sparkled in dainty brightness.  I parked the van, got out, and slammed the door with a thump.  Stupid minivan.  When could I get a real car again?  I walked into the waiting room.  The space smelled like paper and vanilla, the Muzak pumped out classical tunes from the sound system.   A white noise machine sat tucked in the corner, camouflaged by a plant.  I slid the glass divider window, revealing a pinched-faced receptionist.

        “Insurance card.”  It’s not a question, but a demand.  Her bony hand reaches forward and snaps the card from my grip.  She turns to make a copy and flips open a Day planner.  “Have a seat.”  She nods towards the blue seats lined up against the wall.  Blue, it figures; the most calming color in the world. 

         Jackie calls my name, standing in front of the barely opened self-locking door, “for privacy,” she’s told me before.  I didn’t buy it then, I still don’t.  More like: to keep the crazies out; people like you. 

         She ushers me into her office.  I plop down on the worn, overstuffed sofa and cross my legs.  

        “What’s going on?  How’ve you been?” 

        One question at a time for my delicate brain, Jackie.  ‘What’s going on?’ is a completely different inquiry than ‘how are you?’       

        And so I begin.

        “Well, Madi and Kenna were growing and learning by the day—the hour—and I am generating decorating jobs left and right.” 

         She nods, taking this all down in her electronic tablet.  “And what grade are the girls in now?” 

        “Well, Kenna is in full-day kindergarten and doing fairly well there, with the exception of a few ‘mean girl’ instances, which I can’t really understand.  It’s kindergarten for cryin’ out loud!”  I pause, re-crossing my legs.  “Turns out there’s a lot to be ‘mean’ about these days—iPods and cell phones are slowly making their presence in the under-ten market, something I am completely against.  There are clothes and shoes and Pottery Barn backpacks,” I rattle off.    

         Jackie nods. 

         I continue.  “And the usual—‘you’re picture isn’t as pretty as mine,’ arguments, along with lunch room and recess etiquette.” 

         Jackie inhales and leans to the other arm rest on her chair, the captain’s seat of therapy.  “And how do you feel about all of this?” 

          “Fine.  Good.  I took her shopping over the summer and loaded her up with school supplies and cute shoes and clothes, proud to send my “baby” to kindergarten.” 

         “So you are proud?”  She tucks her hair behind her ear, a sleek brown bob. 

       “Well, yeah.” 

       “And your other daughter?” 

       I swallow, “Madi is loving her preschool program.  She had grown into quite the precocious three-year old, already “reading,” books by memorization and being extremely in tune to other’s feelings and emotions.  Including mine.”

       “Oh?” she knits her eyebrows, leans in, “What do you mean?” 

       “Well, one day Madi says, ‘Mommy, you seem sad’,” I furrowed my brows and gotten down to her level, ‘What do you mean, Madi Moo?’ I asked.” 

         She touched my hand, ‘You know, momma.  Sad.’ 

        I bit the inside of my cheek, ‘Well, I am not sad.  I am just busy.  There’s a difference.’

         She shook her head, ‘No, you’re sad.’ 

        ‘Punkin, I promise you, I am not sad.’ It went on like this for awhile.  Madi trying to tell me I was sad, me telling her I was just busy with work and a little preoccupied, all while trying to tell her that I wasn’t sad about her, heaven forbid. 

       “So are you sad, Annie?” 

       “No.  I am not sad.  But to a 3-year old, I could see how she might think I was sad.  I’ve been working awfully hard at getting my decorating business up and going.  I am still trying to be the perfect wife, mother, and homemaker, and there are days I am just tired.  Worn out.  Deflated.” 

        Jackie nods her head, “I can appreciate that.”  She scribbles something on her electronic doo-dad. 

       I continue, “Joe is working non-stop.  His company recently merged with a larger, more prestigious company—the stakes are higher, the projects and clients more important.  I feel alone most of the time, often joking that we we’re two ships passing in the night; feeling like a single parent even though we’ve been married almost seven years now.” 

        “Perhaps Madi’s assessment isn’t so far ‘off,’ then?”  A smirk crawls across her face, pleased. 

        “No.  I don’t know—maybe.  But she’s three.” 

        Jackie shifts in her captain’s chair, throws her left leg over her right, brown suede boots.  I can’t help but like them.  Fuck-me boots.  “Sometimes kids can be very preceptive.”

The Teacher is Talking: The Whole-Brain Child Continues

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By Leslie Lindsay

Product Details (image retrieved from Amazon.com on 9.4.12) 

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (Sep 11, 2012)

We have been discussing the book, THE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.  The premise:  if you “speak” to both sides of your child’s brain (right=emiotion-driven and left=logic-driven) through 12 strategies, then you may have a better chance at picking your battles, helping your child, or problem-solve.  And who wouldn’t like to get better at those things?  Last week, we focused on strategies 1-6, today we’ll tackle the final 7-12 strategies.  Here goes:

  • Strategy #7:  Remember to Remember–Making Recollection a Part of Your Family’s Daily Life.  For some, remembering things is well…a no brainer.  For others, it’s a little more challenging.  It’s an exercise, if you will–the more you work it, the better your memory.  Give your children practice with remembering things.  Telling and retelling a story works, so does remembering a list of letters or numbers (+/- 5 items).  This all helps create memory for experiences; important for later problem-solving skills and developing friendships/relationships.  Try it at home:  Instead of saying, “How was your day?”  Ask something more active, “What was the best part of your day?”  Or, “Who did you eat lunch with?”

 

  • Strategy #8:  Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By–Teaching that Feelings Come and Go.  Important, yes that kids learn to identify their feelings, but just as important is that kids learn that feelings are fleeting.  That’s right–they come and go.   On average, an emotion comes and goes in 90-seconds.  Try it at home: Instead of labeling oneself forever, try this, “I’m not dumb, I just feel dumb right now.” 

 

  • Strategy #9:  SIFT–Paying Attention to What’s Going on Inside.  Kids need to be aware of what they are actually feeling inside.  Yep–all of those emotions, desires, ideas whirling around need to be acknowledged.  Enter SIFT:  Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts.  Try it at home:  if your child is feeling out-of-sorts about something, help her identify it by talking about SIFT.  “It must be scary having pictures of that monster in your head.  You know what you can do?  You can change the picture!”  And then talk about how the monster may not be scary after all…maybe even funny?  (see earlier post on Marlow and the Monster

 

  • Strategy #10:  Exercise Mindsight–Getting Back to the Hub.  Sometimes kids can get fixated on one set of problems–their “points of awareness.”  Help them re-set.  This doesn’t come naturally to children, but they can be taught to develop coping skills and strategies to get “back to the hub.”  Try it at home:  When my daughter, Kelly was anxious about kindergarten (see previous post), I tried to ease her anxiety by  talking with her at bedtime.  She was tucked in, comfy and cozy.  The lights were dim.  Her special bedtime music was playing.  I spoke to her in a soothing voice, assuring her that she is a “sunshine girl who can do anything.”  Next, I had her relax every part of her body starting with her head and working all the way down to her toes.  Add something silly like “relax your earlobes,” and you’re sure to get a  giggle. 

 

  • Strategy #11:  Increase the Family Fun Factor–Making a Point to Enjoy Eachother.  Most of us feel as if we just cart kids around or discipline them…but what about just having fun?!  It’s easy to forget how to have fun as a family.  But it’s an important part to learning to connect with others.  Take interest in your kids’ interests, play games, tell jokes…Try it at home:  we recently had a “fun” weekend.  Sure, we still did laundry and grocery shopping, but we also went to a giant trampoline place, took a hike, and went Go-Karting.  Can you tie in some fun, too?
  • Strategy #12: Connection Through Conflict–Teach Kids to Argue with a “We” in Mind. Each new arguement is just a way for us to survive. Belive it or not, there’s almost always a lesson there. But, you’ve had it with mediating those diagreements. Teach your child to see through the other person’s eyes (recognize other points of view) and how to read boyd language. It’s tough to do in the middle of a heated arguement. Try it at home: Have your child watch the other one recreate the tower of Legos or the art project he just smashed. How do you think your sibling feels having to do all of that work again?

This concludes our series in “The Teacher is Talking.”  If you liked what you learned here, consider reading the whole book (sorry, couldn’t resist)!  I merely high-lighted some snippets here, but there is soo much more in the book itself, including some really clever comic-strip-like diagrams.  At just 168 pages, it’s not a big, overwhelming book, either. 

This is a personal book that belongs to our family.  No form of compensation was given for writing about THE WHOLE BRAIN CHILD (Delacorte Press, 2011).

The Teacher is Talking:

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By Leslie Lindsay

I have been off-track today.  I am blaming it on this cold I have been sporting since–oh, I don’t know.–the trees bloomed back in March!  I think it started as allergies then morphed to a cold and then cleared up and is now back.  Lucky me.

I should have been working on some articles today for various publications, but I am not.  I stopped at Trader Joe’s and then to Two Bostons Pet Boutique (nothing fancy for this hound, unless you count the Greenies to freshen her breath and the rice/pototo-free food to tame her toots).  And then home where I really thought I was going to get some good “work” done.  Alas, I started a load of laundry, folded another and futzed around too much on Facebook.  You know how it goes.

So do the authors of “The Winner’s Brain,” Drs. Brown and Feske.  In fact, they aim to say that focus is actually “Win Factor #3.”  That is having it [focus!] is what really factors into the equation to get people to become winners.

Product Details (Image rerieved from Amazon 5.15.12)
GET A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK TODAY!!! JUST COMMENT ON HOW YOU LOST FOCUS AND HOW YOU GOT BACK ON TRACK!  FIRST COMMENT OF THE DAY WINS!

The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown, Mark Fenske and Liz Neporent (Mar 22, 2011)

The brain is faced with a “zoo” of distractions that compete for our attention on a near constant basis.  In fact, most folks are distracted at least every 3 minutes into a task.  Emails!  Phone calls!  Im’s!  Kids!  Hounds!  They’re everywhere!  But a person who is really driven (okay, I’ll say it…a “winner”) has the ability to focus on tasks and activities in the moment, especially when that moment in full of distractions and stressors.  They are able to deliberately calibrate their level of FOCUS under a wide array of circumstances and can call on the best type of focus for the task at hand.  Humm….who knew we had different types of focus?!

Here are Five Different Steps to Reinvest Your Focus (from the book):

1.  Admit to yourself that you are off-task

2.  Remind yourself of the original task and why it is important

3. If possible, eliminate the factors that derailed your attention; turn off the cell phone, close email, grab a sandwich, finish a conversation.

4.  Choose a starting poin, cue yourself with a word like “go” and get back on-task.  Notice the rich details of what you are doing.  If you are reading something that you are trying to stay focused on, put a checkmark at the bottom of every pays or every so often, jot a word down in the margin.

5.  Pay attention to the small details you may not ordinarily notice to give you a new perspective on the same ol’ task. 

Class Dismissed!!

Apraxia Monday: Whew–it’s wearing me out!

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By Leslie Lindsay

It’s been a long time coming.  This apraxia thing is wearing me out.  Here’s the deal:  when my daughter wasn’t talking like every other Carson, Chloe, and Caden I was beside myself.  When I was told by the first SLP who saw her that she had “a delay,” I was scratching my head…well of course, she does, but what do we do about it?  When I was told by the second SLP that she had childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), I wanted to know what the heck is that?!  And then I wanted a book about apraxia–a real book that I could hold in my hands and reference when I felt like I needed it.  I didn’t want to sift through everything on the Internet (now isn’t that ironic?!)

And now that my daughter has come a long way from when she was first diagnosed, I am still eating, thinking, and breathing apraxia.  I get emails about it, I send emails about it, I get connected to others all around the globe (via listservs), and I teach classes about in the evenings.  And yes, I am writing a book about it, too.

I’m excited; it has been something I have always wanted to do: write.  So I am writing a book about the very disorder that my daugter has.  I hope it brings some peace to families out there struggling with the unknowns that I was once dealing with.  And trust me, even though I am soon to have “author” under my belt, I sure don’t feel like an expert.  You see, there is so much about CAS that is still being understood.  It’s a complex diagnosis with no real clear answers.  Even the experts seem to disagree at times.  There are multiple viewpoints, treatments, theories, and well…I could go on and on….

So, in essence I have taken a risk.  A risk to learn and educate others who care about a child with apraxia.  I have stuck my neck out and I might get it wrong (I sure hope not!) but most of all, I did it to help my daughter and myself deal with the complexities we call childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).

Coming in “Apraxia World”

  • Chicgaoland Apraxia Walk: When you register to walk by September 26th you will receive an official 2011 Walk for Children with Apraxia t-shirt in your size and you also receive your very own Personal Walk webpage to help you raise awareness and donations! Below are the details of the Walk:

Date:Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time: On-site Check-in and Registration begins at 9:00 AM
Walk begins at 10:00 AM

Location: Ty Warner Park, Blackhawk Drive & Plaza Drive, Westmont, IL 60559

Visit the 3rd Annual Chicagoland Walk for Children with Apraxia Webpage to register– help unlock their voices and open up the future for children with apraxia!

  • INTEGRATED TREATMENT OF FEEDING, SPEECH,
    AND MOUTH FUNCTION IN PEDIATRICS

    www.agesandstages.net  An early intervention course for OT’s, SLP’s, educators, nurses, and others

    Instructor: Diane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLP, CIMI
    Specializing in Mouth Function

Addison, Chicago

September 30th and October 1st. 

 

 

Write on, Wednesday! Writing (and editing) a Book

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By Leslie Lindsay

“Hey, I’m busy over here–I’m writing a book, ya know?!”  Here’s the thing with writing a book:  It’s a BIG job.  Most folks don’t realize how big it is till they really get into it.  And the bottom line is most people don’t get into it.

In fact, I read somewhere that out of 100 people who want to write, only 10 actually do.  Of that 10, 9 will get rejected or give up.  One person is left with a manuscript and a contract and a finally a book.  One out of 100 want-to-be-writers actually end up with a book in hand?  Yikes.  Why bother?  Well…it has to be something you are completely 100% passionate about.  One has to have drive, ambition, good skills (and I’m not just talking writing skills here…but also negotiating skills, creativity skills, professionalism, etc.), persistence (but politely so), the desire to continue learning, the innate ability to obeserve the world (and the people in it), and to have a thick skin.  There’s probably more, too but this is all I can think of off-the-cuff.

In any case, I have written a book.  It’s about childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), something I am passionate about since my oldest daughter was diagnosed with it when she was 2.5 years old.  So, when I couldn’t find that book when she was diagnosed, I started my own little research project which turned into a book.

But you don’t really care about all of that, do you?  You want to know what it is like to edit the sucker.

First, my publisher didn’t even offer a contract to me until I verbally agreed to to recruit an advisory panel.  I got 6 qualifed folks to review portions of my tex…SLPs, early education specialists, and a mother of a child with CAS.  I douled out copies of my work for them to review, make notes, and otherwise criticize   advise.  They did a fantastic job; but it was still stressful.  Afterall, I had already written the darn thing based on lots of research and experience, but well…they were the experts.

After I did all of that, the publisher was ready to offer a contract! 

I submitted  a complete manuscript–which I thought was pretty polished. 

It wasn’t.  Enter “the editor.”  She’s been great.  She knows her stuff.  She has worked with this company since 1986.  She double-checks things like web addresses to see if they are still current (some aren’t).  She tells me when something is “too wordy” or “redundant.”  She moves sections so they flow better.  Then she sends it all back to me for my review.

I review and usually like her changes.  If I don’t, I don’t change them (that rarely happens).  Sometimes she wants more clarification on something, “What exactly does a music therapist do for kid with CAS?”  I go back to the expert source by sending an email  and get an answer.  I pop into the manuscript.  Sometimes she says, “Exactly how do you play Zingo?”  Then I suggest to my kids, “Hey, let’s play Zingo!”  so I can write about it.  Other times, she wants a better citation…or sometimes I leave something out like the author’s name.  Duh!

Sometimes, I just say, “Huh?!  What was I thinking when I wrote that?”  I delete. 

And yet other times, I just run across something that will fit so nicely in chapter ___ and think, “Oh, I have got to summarize that article about brain mapping so I can pop that into the chapter on where-does-speech-come-from in-the-first-place!”  That’s when I create extra work for myself…but you know, I sort of kind of like in my own nerdy way.

The process will take us up to about Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, the art department will contact me and ask for my ideas on cover art and typeset.  They are only ideas, mind you…the publisher makes the final call.

Then the book goes into what is called galleys: actual how-the-book-and-pages-will-look.  I will get a chance to review that sometime in December, I am guessing.  By then, I think I will have a more definitive idea as to when it will hit the shelves (the pub date).  Much anticipated…I’ll start planning a launch party and invite all I know to attend.

The winter catalog will come out around that time, too with my book featured among many others.  People will rush to place their orders (I hope).

Yay–the book is out!  Let’s help some kids and parents struggling with CAS.