A Typical Down Day in Autism


It is 3:45 am according to my ancient clock radio. My youngest daughter drags my right hand to pull me out of bed. She leads me to the gate at the top of the stairs indicating she wants to go downstairs. I slide on my eyeglasses to see as we try to sneak downstairs to not wake the other members of our family. In the dimly lit living room I struggle to keep my eyes open, to keep her safe and hopefully wear her out to go back to sleep. Without an eye on the time, eventually she stretches out on the couch. I try to get comfortable in the chair near her. Just as soon as I rest my eyes I hear my husband moving upstairs in our room. I check the clock, with a heavy sigh I realize he is up for work. The day begins with me in slow motion.

Shortly after he comes down the stairs, our oldest bounds down wide awake. After he leaves, my youngest is still awake. I realize that I need to do something desperate for her to sleep before our morning activities. Despite my exhausted self, I pack up my girls in the car in hopes a long drive will help make her nap. In three hours we are expected at a medal ceremony at the local library for the Summer Reading Club. My oldest has been looking forward to this all year. There is no way I am going to miss that for her. If I wasn’t so tired I would be angry at the situation. In a ‘regular world’ there would be a grandma on call to do this so I could cat nap. Autism robs my brain and energy again.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for: healthy family albeit autism, my sister lives close and I have a writing career I love. The ‘experts’ keep going on and on about the importance of sleep. Well, that is great and all, but what happens if it is beyond your control.

Within minutes of our drive, my oldest girl tells me her sister is asleep. I tuck the car into a drive-thru line-up. In the rear-view mirror I see my five-year-old’s eyes light up. I order our food and park under the shade of a tree. I leave music on and begin to have a breakfast car picnic with my first baby. She states that this is the best fun ever. With those precious words I slip out of my self-pity baggage. I did what I could do and ended up making a special summer memory for the two of us.

CIBC Run for the Cure Works!

In 1998 I got the call that stopped my world, my young sister has cancer. After all the losses we have had in our family, this one ripped my heart out. Ever since our mom died when we were kids the word CANCER loomed above our shoulders. As the oldest sibling I was convinced it would be me next. Biology had another idea.

After a year of sleepless nights, chemo and many, many appointments she was clear! The relief was impalpable. So in 1999 I became more aware of my own health. I also wanted to find a way to give back to the universe. To have my best girlfriend alive and well filled my days with gratitude.

One day I was in the CIBC bank for work. I spied a brochure for the CIBC Run for The Cure. Immediately I knew what I had to do. I registered and began fundraising. I traveled alone on the sky train full of emotion, when I saw the other women and kids wearing the Run shirt and clearly going to the same stop as I was. When I got to the Start line the tears fell fast. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was not alone. Cancer has affected a lot of people.

I dared myself to do the 5K. It took me a long time between walking and running. I saw the finish line and sprinted to it. As I crossed there were cheers. I thought that was odd. I did not know anyone here. This community of Cancer Warriors is warm and accepting. We are all here for a reason.

Years passed and my husband, sister and her husband joined me. I was honored and proud of the money we raised to help more families like ours. The motivation is that what if the next dollar raised helps to cure the evil disease. The answer is no one knows. We do need to find a cure so families can stop losing loved ones.

When I became a mom the desire for my girls to not have the same fate of losing a mom too soon made me bring them along to the runs. With the stroller we can walk/run, and this year we have joined a team. Please consider giving up one coffee and donate. You never know if the next dollar can save your family.

Thank you.

This year I have the pleasure joining the wonderful Yummy Mummy Club team with my family on September 30th, 2012 . #TeamYMC.  Please donate here. Thank you.

Walmart Shows that Moms Count and More #MOTY

 Walmart is about to pick a finalist of their inaugural Mom of the Year Award. A total of 16,909 moms were nominated! They had a hard job I am sure to narrow it down to eight finalists. The eight finalists will each receive $10,000 for personal use and $10,000 to their charity that they have chosen.  Later this month there will be a gala to celebrate the finalists, and the Mom of the Year will be announced. That Mom will receive $100,000 for her charity!

Meet a few of these amazing women and learn more about them all at www.momoftheyear.ca , it might inspire you like it did me to give more.

A couple that jumped out of me are the selfless women who took in foster kids. Let it be known, I was a foster kid in my later  teens. While I was fortunate to have a great foster mom, I saw a lot of kids who could have benefited from these amazing moms. It takes a strong heart and soul to take in children that do not have anywhere to go. I was lucky, like the kids that found love and security with these moms.

Tammy MacKinnon was nominated by her husband! Her charity is I W K Health Center Foundation which has helped many kids and women on the road to health. Find out more here. http://iwkfoundation.org

“Tammy has opened her home and heart to more than 30 foster children over the years. She has adopted 2 children from China and is raising 2 biological children as well. She’s relentless in the pursuit of a meaningful life for her children and any children she comes in contact with. Her home and yard is never closed to the neighborhood children. She started an adoption coalition, an adoption website, an organization that helped raise money for playgrounds in Chinese orphanages, is the treasurer for a Canadian group helping poor children get an education and healthy meal every day.” For her full story read it here.

Another amazing mom is Eileen Thiessen who was nominated by her proud daughter. Eileen’s charity is Special Olympics Manitoba. Find out more here: http://www.specialolympics.mb.ca

“I would like to nominate my mom Eileen Thiessen. My parents have been foster parents for 46 years. I have 3 sisters and 3 brothers, as well as 2 foster sisters. 5 of us are adopted. There are also 5 grandchildren. With the exception of one brother and I, the kids are all mentally handicapped. The kids are all adults now but that didn’t stop my mom from being a mom. She and my dad bought a house a block down from the family home, and the kids stayed in the family home with full time staff.” Read her full story here.

I do not envy the judges now. After meeting these amazing women through this campaign I am thrilled to share that Walmart will be doing it again next year!! Be sure to visit www.momoftheyear.ca and like them on Facebook ( facebook.com/walmartcanada) to learn more about the wonderful nominees and when next years will be open.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Walmart program by Mom Central. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own. Mom of the Year Award: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY Internet access and valid email account required. Nominations open May 10, 2012 to July 8, 2012 for legal residents of Canada over the age of majority. Entrants cannot nominate themselves. One (1) grand prize available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $100,000 donation by Wal-mart Canada Corp. to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Seven (7) runner-up prizes available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $10,000 donation to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Charity/cause subject to verification and final approval by Wal-mart Canada Corp., at its sole discretion. Odds of winning depend on how the judging panel evaluates each entry according to the criteria. For Official Contest Rules and to nominate an entrant, visit [www.momoftheyear.ca].

My Motherless Addiction


I open my closet in the master bedroom and I am hit with so many sweet smells. I drink in the sight of my many, many boxes of purses with a whimsical smile. The smell takes me back to when I was a young girl and would play dress-up in my mom’s closet. I would flip on one of her shirts and pick out a matching purse. She would smile and laugh as I pretended to be an actress of a rich person who has an office meeting to go to. There were no limits to what I could come up with.

To my left, I see her small brown leather clutch. I trace the worn material and wonder what stories she would have told me on where she took that purse if she were here. I look at my huge collection. To a stranger it must look like such a vain hoarding.  I was lucky to work at her favorite purse store for many years before I got pregnant. I took advantage of my staff discount every chance I got. Each purse tells a story.  I have a few of hers before dad boxed up her stuff.  I have sold a few of mine over the years but it is hard. My constant changing of my mind propels me to keep them. I do not have much to remember about her, so I live our connections with these arm candies.

As a legacy to her grandchildren, I tell them about their grandma through these bags. It is quite possible that they inherited the fashion gene as when they were younger I would pull out a box for them to explore while I showered. It was great entertainment for them to unzip and play like I once did. One day, they will have my collection. After all, it is a wise investment. Trends come and go but legacies last generations.

My name is Danielle and I have a purse addiction.



Why I Can’t Make Friends


I am staring at an angry email in disbelief from someone I thought was a friend. There was a misunderstanding from both parts. This person last replied with such vile and in a bully way, I am stunned.  I look at my world today. It is not a secret to me that I have a hard time making friends. A psychologist would have a field day with all that has happened in my life. It is no wonder why I have a handful of people I can trust to have my back as I have theirs.

Up until I was ten-years-old I was very social. I had a lot of friends through school, the neighborhood and skating. Then Mom died. My world stopped. Two weeks later my best-friend shot herself after finding her dad’s gun. She did not leave a note but it was well-known how sad she was.  When I returned to school there were whispers as I walked down the hall. No one knew how to ‘treat’ me. Only my best-friend knew, and then she was gone. I felt like a circus freak.

When my dad’s anger over my mother turned to abuse, I withdrew more into myself. I mistakenly put presumptions when a school mate would extend an invitation. I was swimming in the world alone without an anchor or a compass to show me where to go. After being abandoned physically and emotionally to those I loved, I craved acceptance. When I was sixteen, I entered the foster care system. My anchor became my foster mom. She is the reason why I did not turn to drugs or achcohol. I did dabble with people but never dove into to numb my grief. I turned to the stage and food.

As I grew older and becoming a mom, things for me have shifted for the most part. I make sure my girls have every possible tool and love they need. I have more friends I trust. When life has hit me hard in the heart I falter and go back to the old ways of giving others high expectations.  It is this lesson that being raw and authentic online and off makes me realize that this person who wrote did not get. Mistakes happen and we move on. And that is what I will do too.

An Angry Letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,

I am so sad, mad and upset at you.

After years of being scared to have kids, in fear of them inheriting genetic baggage, my deepest fear has come true. Since my youngest daughter was born, her delays have been obvious. Then the diagnosis of Autism arrived. All this time I have been riddled with the guilt that I am at fault for her delays and diagnosis.  I have second guessed everything that happened from the morning sickness to having to be put out for her birth.

Then earlier this year my sister, your youngest, was found to have a rare chromosome that was linked to her cancers. Because of that, my baby and I have been tested due to that connection.  Today I got the call that we tested positive with links to my health problems, and my sweet baby who has autism and a big head. All this time I blamed myself that it was my fault for her social and development delays.

All her and I did was be born. It does not ease my pain that it might not be my fault. She inherited from me, and I from you. We were born. End of story. I know that if you were here today we would find out if you had the same mutation of the gene. Statistically it had to be from you. But who did you get it from? I have a million questions for you. Life has thrown my small family too many curveballs. Why are we the ones with the genetic baggage, and not the rest of the family?

It is so not fair. Cancer is a bitch.  I can never imagine life without both my babies. Autism has had its hard days. It has given us moments that remind us with what is really important.


I wish you were here.

Love, Me

The First Time for the Second Time

My dear daughters,

Once again it is the night before school. I do not know why the summer went by so fast, but it did. I had so much fun hanging out with you both on our adventures.

Your bags are packed, filled with all you need for school. I just want to say that I am proud of both of you so much.

My dear older girl, your reading and writing skills have sharpened so much over summer. You are such a fun kid. I know you will have many new friends in Grade One.

My sweet young one, you are going to preschool again to see if you are ready. Last year, I failed you by not giving you the right skills. Since your diagnosis you have thrived in therapy. You surprise me daily on your accomplishments. You will rock preschool.

As sad as I am to say good-bye to summer, I can’t wait to pick you up from school to hear all about your new adventures.

I love you both so much.