Hidden Handwriting

imageThe words are small and jumbled. They rise on and off the lines at an alarming rate. All smooshed together with heavy black eraser marks, they are often mixed with fresh tears. So hard to hold, the pencil has become her enemy. I’m not sure where the breakdown is happening. Is it a motor disorder? Is it a processing disorder?  Is it the ADHD?

“Can you write it for me, mom?”, Grace asks.

“Yes, doll”, I say. “But only if you can tell me the answers.”

And off she goes….fluently reading the questions, doing the problems out loud and then happily looking up with her proud brown eyes. She’s got the answers. In fact, she has all the fine details.

“Okay, ready to write it?”, she asks.

“Never been more ready, Gracie”, I say.

And so it is….our nightly homework ritual. We are a team. Some days it’s Grace and I, some days it’s Tim and Grace. We work on perfecting the fine details of our system.  Life is just not easy when you have Dysgraphia. It’s just…well, here you go:


Someday we may understand why it’s happening to Grace. We’re still learning how to help her find the tools she needs to succeed in writing, and in school and in other areas of her life. Right now my thoughts feel small and jumbled. My feelings are smooshed together – fresh tears and mascara smudging like heavy black eraser marks on paper torn from two hours of frustration.

“It’s okay, doll”, I say. “We’ll get there. After all, it’s just words on paper.”

It’s inside Gracie’s mind that holds the beautiful answer.


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Do I look sick? Do I look pale?

Most kids have some issues with food.  In fact, I think its safe to say that many of them are downright picky eaters.  I know that my kids are.  Its a constant battle to get my children to try new foods and/or to have a rotating list of food that moves past peanut butter crackers. And most kids have a few quirky medical things about them, too.  Some more debilitating than others.

My Grace has always had issues with food.  It all started when she was just a baby and could not nurse.  She would become frantic and scream – so I decided that I would use my breast pump exclusively to get her milk.  I pumped for a year.  Later on – when she started solids, she became choosy about which ones she liked.  We realized that she was staying away from the ones that had a certain ‘texture’ to them, or were grainy, or had a strong taste.

As she grew, Grace became more set in her ways and only wanted certain foods.  I always carried food with me and I always had the same 4-5 choices.  I knew that if she did not eat, there would be a terrible tantrum right around the corner.  Little did I know how much worse it could get.

Somewhere around the time Grace was 5, we really started to notice a problem with her eating patterns.  She would get incredibly upset, or have a tantrum, act out with friends or cry for no reason.  We knew that if we did not get enough good nutrients into her every couple hours, she would become very pale and very sick within an hour.  Because we knew the cycle of this, I would often panic and try to get her to immediately eat, which then started a ritual of what we call, “Do I look sick -Do I look pale?”, where Grace would incessantly ask how she looked and was so distraught that she would not eat.  She would ask us this question as many as 20-30 times per hour.  As you can imagine, the ritual was difficult to break and what ensued was a painful daily battle of OCD and anxiety for Grace.  It was often a secret battle – one we did not fully discuss with friends and family.  We wanted desperately for our child to feel well and thrive like her friends.  Something was just not right.

Ultimately, we found solutions for Grace.  I researched the best practices and medicines to help with her anxiety and 4 years later, she has a team of doctors and therapists whom I highly value.  We were told to stop responding to the questions she would ask on looking sick and pale.  It was a hard, long journey but there are several resources I would like to share on what worked for us.

First and foremost, I always took my child to the pediatrician – from anything like pink eye and ear infections to deeper issues like food and anxiety.  From there, we were referred to a child psychiatrist for medication and a child psychologist for ‘talk and play’ therapy – both of which have been a Godsend for Grace. And because Grace is hypersensitive to changes in her body, her food, or her environment, we began to monitor her bloodsugar daily for couple months – to let her know that she was okay.  We began to see patterns of when her sugar would drop and we started working around that and sticking to a set schedule of meals. We try to give Grace lots of advance notice of things, too:  events, changes in schedule(s), food choices, doctors – basically anything and everything. We know she is anxious and we want her to be able to relax and enjoy life.  We also explain – that life is a mystery, so sometimes, she will just have to “roll with it.”  Ultimately, God is in control.

Eventually, Grace started to worry less frequently, she learned to listen to her body and started to ask us less and less “Do I look sick?  Do I look Pale?”  Its rare that we hear it now.  Its because Grace learned to talk back to her OCD and her anxiety and start to control the monster that was FEAR in her little life.  Our all-time favorite book – and one we could not have ever lived without is Scaredy Squirrel, and I highly recommend you head out today and get your anxious kid a copy.  Cutest darn book I ever read on OCD!

Its important that you always listen fully to your child.  Watch their little bodies for clues, talk to their educators, watch them at play and with friends and at rest. Trust your parental instincts and just plain trust your gut.  Then pull together a team of professionals who can help you and your kiddo.  Some of my favorite resources are listed below.  I hope they help you as much as they have helped us. 

University of Minnesota – Children’s Feeding Clinic – for Sensory/Feeding Issues

Kingdom Kids Nutrition – Healthy Eating for Healthy Kids with ADHD and other disorders

Just Enjoy Food – Website by a chiropractor on food allergies, healthy eating and lifestyle

Talking Back to OCD – Book on how to help break the debilitating cycle of OCD in children and adults.

What to do when you worry too much – Last but not least – one of Gracie’s favorite books which includes blank pages where your child can journal and draw pictures to help them work through anxiety and fears.

Feel free to contact me for further resources and books on how to help your child overcome daily anxiety, food issues, OCD and behavior difficulties.  And remember…..I am new to this blogging stuff.  So if my links are all broken – just know that eventually they will get fixed.  I could sit around and worry about all my typos, too.  But that would just be my OCD talking.

Matthew 6:25-34
[ Do Not Worry ] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  …







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The Noticing

If you have a kid with attention deficit, you have a DAYDREAMER.  These children tend to be the kinds of kids who stare out windows, are looking elsewhere, twirl their hair, bite their nails and/or generally are in their own little world.  If you are a teacher, please do yourself a favor, and put these kiddos right by your desk.  All year.  For the life of school – or your child – or BOTH.

Learning is a very important, critical part of your child’s early years. Reading, Writing, Math, Science and History are necessary subjects – so your kid will have to learn them just like the other kids.  But if you are a parent of a child with ADHD, let me tell you something.  While having a daydreamer for a kid can be frustrating, especially when school is in session and its homework time – it can also be one of the very best things that can ever happen to you.

You see, we have ‘The Noticers.’  Our kids see the average stuff – but then they go on to see SO MUCH MORE.  For instance, my daughter can be reading a lesson out loud while we do homework together – but then she will stop and stare out the window.  It is then that she will point out to me the most beautiful red cardinal I have ever seen in a tree quite far away.  And while this can sometimes be frustrating, I realize that I have never seen a cardinal that red, or in that tree before.

Sometimes, my child will be telling me something and she switches topics.  This happens often, so as a parent I back up the conversation, ask her to repeat the first thought and then we work to stay on the topic. This is a necessary life-skill that we need to teach our ADHD kids because we have all talked to people in the adult world who are all over the place in conversation.  We get lost, we get frustrated and/or we lose interest.  There are lots of methods to keep a kid on topic and I will post more on that later.

But in the switching of topics, The Noticers will often have moved on to discover something so amazing and wonderfully unique that we may have never discovered on our own.  My daughter always amazes me with the things she sees.  It can be anything from the shape of a cloud, to a billboard that is torn in one small corner, to an insect I’ve never seen, to a tombstone deep in a cemetery that “has a beautiful Jesus on it.”  She will notice your earrings, or your shoes, if you part your hair differently or if you wear a new lipstick.  She will NOTICE these things – and she will compliment you on them. Daily.

So maybe, my kid has trouble ‘noticing’ her homework sometimes – or ‘noticing’ what is being written on the whiteboard at school.  And I am not discounting that at all.  She does need to pay attention in school and in life the best she can.  However, what I have learned in this ADHD journey with Grace is that my child notices what really matters.  She notices the man holding the sign on the corner that says he is hungry and homeless.  She notices the children around the world who are hungry and poor.  She notices when other children at school are sad, or stressed, or need a friend.  And she notices these things enough to stop and to say something or to try and help and make a difference.

Its alright if your little one is staring out the window, or twirling, can’t sit still or can’t stay on topic. Just keep striving and learning and trying.  I bet you have a kid just like mine.  My kid cares.  Despite all her distractions….she is fully there –  caring, and loving, and noticing.

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It begins…

I have tried this blogging thing before.  I completely stunk at it.  But it was always to promote or sell something – and frankly – I am not good at selling products.  I have tried every home-based business there is.  Let’s just say, “EPIC FAIL.”  But there is something I am passionate about.  KIDS.  And when I think of them, and see them – I just naturally want to talk about them, or help them, or make them happy by giving them my full attention.  I love kids.  To me, children make the world-go-round.  And I have two children of my own who are the joy of my very existence.

So THIS blog is not going to be about what I am selling.  Its going to be about how I am feeling and living and parenting.  Its going to be about my children and for my children.  Its going to be happy and sad and silly and terrible – maybe all in the same paragraph.

Much of this blog will be about my daughter, Grace.  She has ADHD, among many other things, and her little learning adventure in life has been rough thus far.  This blog will not be pretty and sugarcoated.  But it will be real and loving and funny – filled with hope.  I have learned a lot from my daughter in her 9 young years of life.  To slow down, to try hard (to twirl uninhibited in my front yard as cars drive by).

But mostly, I have learned that this life is a gift.  Its not to be rushed or pushed through or not enjoyed.  My life is a true gift from God and blessed even more by a Jesus-loving, daydreaming hippie kid I call my own. (And a little brother who is along for the ride and funny as heck, too.)

It is now 6:00pm, and we are going to start homework.  Its THAT time of night – and one of the many reasons I need to start this blog.  If you have a kiddo with ADHD or special learning needs of any kind – you know what I mean.  And so I will sign off and say thank you for listening.  There is much more to come and this is just the beginning.  And as you start your homework journey with your own children tonight – just take your time, breathe deeply and pray. They are only little once, and I assure you – its all going to be okay. 

Take it all with the Pace of Grace.





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