Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review - Making Lemonade by Candee Fick

Candee Fick uses the metaphor of making lemonade to help parents of special needs children to understand what life will be like. While I believe she wrote it primarily with new parents in mind, it is helpful to those of us who have been parents to special needs children for years. Every now and again, I need to be reminded that I'm not on this journey alone and there are others out there who understand what daily life is like for me.

Using the metaphor, some of her chapters include: Juicing Lemons (the hard times we go through), Adding Sugar (hope), Adding Other Fruit (healthy children in the home), Pitcher of Support, Sipping Lemonade (joy).

Throughout the book, she follows the lives of several families with special needs kids. The needs range from cancer to autism, to asthma, to Cornelia de Lange syndrome. Such personal stories made the book come alive.

For me personally, God has taken what we first thought to be a very terrible situation and turned it into something beautiful. That's what the author is trying to say with her metaphor. There are so many good things she points out. One of the best was mentioning that the grief process all parents of special needs children experience is not linear but cyclical. Something will happen or there will be a new diagnosis, and the grief begins all over again. Many "outsiders" don't understand that. In this way, I think this would also be a good book for other family members and friends.

I also liked the section where the author lists pages of helpful Scripture verses. What a wonderful resource to have when you're afraid or angry or grieving.

The last section of the book recounts the progress of the children followed in the book. That was an encouragement and the main thing I took away from the book - we all will come to a place, wherever we are now in our journey as parents of special needs kids, when God will make everything beautiful. Even if we may not understand it all on this earth.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

100 Things about Me: 41-50

41. I'm not that interesting of a person.

42. I'm self-taught on the computer. Everything I do in my job as a church secretary - newsletter, bulletin inserts, the nifty CD labels I made today - I taught myself. Today I also figured out how I can print wirelessly from my laptop to the church copier :)

43. I don't sleep well when my husband isn't beside me in bed.

44. I wish I could have been on the gymnastics team or the swim team in high school.

45. I hated high school. College was better.

46. I like to sing to music on my ipod. Drives my son crazy. All the better reason to do it!

47. I can't wait to remodel the bathrooms.

48. I print most of the time instead of using cursive. I pretty much only use cursive to sign my name.

49. I don't like thunderstorms. I drove home yesterday in one and it made me nervous. Someday I'll tell the story of why I don't like to drive in thunderstorms. But really, I don't like them period.

50. My critique partners have challenged me to break out of my pink and red nail polish rut and go for blue. I'm going to do it. I hope it doesn't look ridiculous on me. Watch for the pictures (yes, they need proof that I really did it!).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a2z 4 u & me - letter J

Today's post is brought to you by the letter J and...
Anyone who has been following my blog for a while knows all about my sweet Jonalyn. For those of you new here, I'll give a quick recap before sharing a funny story about her. My youngest daughter, who turns 9 in a few weeks, spent the first 5 years in an orphanage in the Philippines. After we brought her home, we discovered that along with the minor physical challenges we had been expecting, she has moderate to severe cognitive delays. She will be our "lifer". Attachment took a long time and it was a hard road, but we are now settled as a family and in love with our daughter. She is the happiest child you'll ever meet with a sweet disposition, even if she can be a little stubborn at times.

O.K., now for the funny Jonalyn story. In the quest to make her as independent as possible, we are teaching her to lock and unlock bathroom stall doors. So far, so good. Before church on Sunday, we stopped in the restroom and she locked herself in the stall.
"Good job, Jonalyn". I heard her go and then silence. "Are you done?"
"No. I pooping."
Not what I really wanted to hear from her in a public restroom. "O.K. Finish up."
Pause. "I done."
"Now you have to get off the toilet and open the door so I can help you wipe."
I watched through the crack. She didn't get up. "Come on, get up and open the door."
No movement.
"Jonalyn, you have to get up."
At last she did and she fiddled with the lock but didn't open it.
"Slide it the other way."
Other ladies came and went. Strange, but I got no sympathy. Or offers of help.
"The other way. You have to open the lock for me. Please." Someone was in the next stall, so I was nice. By the time she left and we were alone, my patience was running low.
"Jonalyn. You have to listen. Turn it the other way. Not that way. The other way. Do it. Now."
"I can't."
Fabulous. Just fabulous. Mind you, I had on a dress and heels. I looked around. The bathroom was empty except for a girl with her panties around her knees locked in the bathroom stall and her dressed-to-the-nines middle-aged mother.
I did it. I had to do it. I hiked up my ruffled hem and crawled under the stall door. On my hands and knees. It's a small stall. Very small. I had a hard time getting off the floor and turning myself around. Said child with the pulled down panties didn't help me or get out of the way. With relief, I managed to maneuver enough to stand. Success. Thank the Lord, no one else came in the bathroom during my ordeal.
The kicker?
I looked in the toilet and the kid didn't poop!!

Just a little glimpse into what life is like with a special needs child in general and Jonalyn in specific.

To read more a2z posts, hop on over to Patty's blog.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And the Winner Is...

...cjajsmommy is the winner of the $10 gift card. Congratulations to her and thanks to all of you for participating. It was so much fun to read all of your funny stories. Thanks again to Laura Hilton for the gift card. Now I hope all of you go out and buy her book! You won't be disappointed. I loved it :)
Laura shares one of her funny dating stories:
"When Steve asked me out the first time, he asked me out for strawberry pie. I took him literally and had dinner eaten before he picked me up. He meant he wanted to take me out for dinner--not just pie. He was so embarrassed to order a meal in front of me..."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quick Update

Sorry, no 100 Things post today. I've been busy with Jonalyn today. She now has casts on both legs as a follow-up to the botox shots in both calves. She is having trouble balancing and walking and is also experiencing some stomach upset - Brian & I both have it, too, so that's unrelated to her casts. I'll post pictures later when I get a chance.

The news: Tomorrow we will draw for the winner of the $10 McDonald's gift card. I've had so much fun reading all the entries. Thanks to Laura! So watch for that announcement tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - My Fisherwoman

My daughter, the fisherwoman. She's been gone camping and then to her cousins' house. Do I every miss her!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a2z 4 u & me - letter I

Today's post is brought to you by the letter I and...

I know Patty asked that we introduce ourselves for the letter I. You can go back to the past few Thursdays (and come back a few more Thursdays) and read my 100 Things about Me posts, but quickly, I'm Liz Tolsma, I write historical fiction, my first novella is releasing in a few weeks (!!!), I have three kids - all adopted internationally, one with special needs - a black lab, a cat, and I live in the semi-country in Wisconsin. Whew. You'll learn lots more about me on Thursdays, so I invite you to return and learn a little more about me then.

In the meantime, I thought you might just like to see some more of the pictures my very talented hubby took on our trip to Wyoming last year. It was, well, incredible.

To see more a2z posts, please visit Patty's blog and have some fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fiction Friday - Interview with Author Laura Hilton

For the inaugural installment of my new feature "Fiction Friday", I'm pleased to have author Laura Hilton with me today. Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools her children. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book “Patchwork Dreams” in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House will be released in April 2011, the second book, “A Harvest of Hearts” in September 2011, and the third in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

  1. Why did you start writing? I always loved to read - and even as a third grader I had characters living in my head. Writing just came naturally. If you asked anyone what I wanted to be when I grew up I'd tell them a writer and a stay-at-home mom.
  2. Why did you choose to write Amish fiction? My agent suggested it. I'd never considered it because well, there's Beverly Lewis and I'm not Beverly Lewis. But I do have Amish in my background and I love to read Amish things - it always fascinated me when I drove through Seymour and saw them in the buggies.
  3. What intrigues you most about the Amish? Their ability to keep to the old ways despite all the modern conveniences. I'm not sure I'd be so dedicated. I like air conditioning. :) Though, the southern-most Amish are allowed electric for air conditioning because it's just so hot in states like Florida.
  4. How can a novel about the Amish impact us “Englishers”? They are real people with real struggles just like us. They face many of the same temptations, struggles and desires as we do.
  5. I know you’re a busy homeschooling mom of many. How do you find time to write? I have five children - but my two older ones are graduated from home school and in college though they still live at home. My fifteen year old daughter is pretty self-educating, I just am there to explain things if she needs it. Besides, for highschool I use ABeka Academy, so there are real teachers teaching her (via DVD or internet streaming). The two younger ones work fast and are done with their work in half a day. I usually have mini chocolate bars on hand that the kids know are only for "If mommy gets her word count." If they want candy, they let me write. :)
  6. What do you like most about writing? Writing. I love seeing the story come alive. I don't plot or plan, I just write and it is so fun to see where it goes.
  7. What do you like least about writing? Sigh. Marketing. Especially interviews. Why would anyone want to talk to me? And I hate talking on the phone. Seriously. I won't call anyone. They can either call me or I'll go in and talk to them in person.
  8. Tell us a little about “Patchwork Dreams”. Becky Troyer has committed the ultimate sin, and finds herself on the edge of her Amish community. Jacob Miller believes he was sent to the Old Order Community in Missouri to help out a distant cousin. Instead, he discovers he was part of an arranged swap--sending men from his Pennsylvania district to the Missouri district to bring new blood into the Amish community. Becky dreams of marriage, but doesn't dare hope that anyone would choose her--not with her history. Can God use the lies that have affected Becky and Jacob to bring them together? Or will Jacob rebel and head home to his first love?
  9. Do you ever base any of your characters on real people? Um, not knowingly, but I try to make them as realistic as possible. I suppose in some ways Becky is a lot like me. I'm a book-worm, I'm shy and quiet, and I struggled with some of the same issues of acceptance that she struggled with.
  10. Tell us one fun thing about yourself none of your readers might know. I have a garden and we have a Siberian Husky. Nanook seems to think the garden is just an addition to his diet and he's eaten two whole rows of onions, and he tries to beat me to the tomatoes when they're ripe. He's also afraid of thunderstorms and he seems to think I'm the only person alive who can protect him from storms. Even though he's a big dog, he literally tries to crawl on my lap. When I won't let him, he settles for laying on my feet or following me around.

    Laura’s heroine in Patchwork Dreams loves McDonald’s cappuccinos. Leave a comment with your funniest dating story. She’ll pick her favorite and award the winner with a $10 McDonald’s gift card.

    Thanks so much for joining us today, Laura, and for the chance to win the gift card. We’re looking forward to your new release!