Tag Archives: writing

Goodbye WEGO Health Challenge, Hello Blogathon

1 May

In April I participated in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I published a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

I am now participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

When I first started Running For Autism a little over two years ago, my blogging was an airy-fairy kind of affair. My original intent was for this to primarily be a running blog, but it morphed very quickly into far more than that. Running is such an important part of who I am, and it is frequently difficult to squeeze it in with all of the other responsibilities I have, and I found impossible to write about it without adding the context of my life. For example, how could I write about running to raise funds for autism without trying to raise some awareness about the impact of autism on my life?

And so my subject matter started expanding to include posts about parenting and autism. As my wedding day approached and I started feeling the typical angst of a bride-to-be, my blog became a place for me to vent about my stress and toss around ideas for how to plan a wedding that both of my children could be fully involved in. At some point I started to try my hand at fiction in the Indie Ink writing challenges. A little while after that, I felt a little glimmer of bravery that allowed me to tentatively start discussing my struggles with depression.

Even as I cast my net of topics wider and grew my audience, I found it difficult to prioritize my blogging. I have a lot on my plate. I am a wife and mother. I have a child with autism. I have a full-time job outside of the home that involves two hours of commuting each day. I help my husband with his business and take care of making sure bills are paid and taxes are filed. I run. I have a commitment to write three articles a week for an ezine.

Inevitably, blogging took a back seat to all of this, and I was posting once or twice a week if I was lucky.

When WEGO Health sent me an email inviting me to participate in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see it through to completion. I mean, we were talking about a blog post every day for a month. In the end I signed up, spurred on by the fact that the challenge coincided with Autism Awareness Month. This seemed like a great opportunity not only to give my writing a boost, but to spread the word about autism and offer some hope and encouragement to parents feeling overwhelmed by a newly acquired diagnosis.

We have now reached the end of what turned out to be a very successful challenge. The prompts that were provided offered new ways for me to think about the health focuses that matter most to me – autism, mental health and running. I had to really dig deep and be honest with myself and with the world – or at least, the corner of the world that reads my blog. I had some moments of soul-searching, and I found myself addressing questions that I’ve never had the courage to ask before.

There were two days on which the prompts just couldn’t work for me. Try as I might, I could not get past the writer’s block. The challenge rules allowed two “get out of post free” days, but I was loathe to use them. Instead, I turned to the list of bonus prompts that were provided just for occasions like that. As a result, I published a post every day in April.

Through this challenge, I gained some new readers, and some great new blogs to follow. I read some incredible stories of courage and perseverance. So many aspects of health were covered in this challenge: diabetes, cancer, mental illness, special needs parenting, and so many others.

When you read so many stories of people fighting to survive, going to the ends of the earth for their children, and using their own painful experiences to help their fellow man, it really gives you renewed faith in the awesomeness of humankind.

Thank you to WEGO Health for putting this challenge out there. Thank you to my fellow bloggers for taking me on journeys that I could never have otherwise imagined. And thank you to everyone who reads my blog, who leaves comments or clicks the “like” button, or who shares my posts on Facebook or Twitter. It means a lot to me to know that my voice is being heard.

I am compiling a list of fellow bloggers who took the challenge, and when my new website is launched, they will be on the blogroll.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariareyesmcdavis/2890706354/. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

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The Good And The Bad

26 Apr

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 27 – 5 challenges, 5 small victories: Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Autism can be a very complicated thing to live with. Its manifestations change from day to day. One day, my son will be able to tolerate loud noises but a small change in routine will send him into meltdown. The next, we’ll be able to turn his entire routine upside down but anything louder  than a whisper will set him off. Different strategies work for different kids on different days, and everyone you might see guidance from is convinced that their opinion is the right one.

The things I find most challenging about being an autism mom don’t really have to do with the autism itself. Whatever might be going on with my child on any particular day, I just deal with it. Sometimes it’s hard, but I always know that I’m doing my best, my son is doing his best, and at the end of the day we’ll all survive.

My challenges tend to come from sources other than my son and his autism. I list them in no particular order.

  1. The judgmental critics. It’s a moment every autism parent has lived through at least once. You and your child are in a grocery store, which let’s face it, is a mecca for sensory overload, and your child is getting more agitated by the second. You throw things into your cart at quickly as you can, but just as you get to the checkout, your child reaches his breaking point and explodes. As you are trying to calm him down, some snarky stranger loudly proclaims, “What that child needs is a good hiding.” I once heard someone say (referring to me), “If that mother was doing her job properly, this wouldn’t be happening.” Like I’m not already carrying around enough angst with me. With my social anxiety, I’m not great at the quick comeback, although I’m definitely better than I used to be.
  2. The third-person talker. These are the people who will talk about someone who is present as if that person were not in the room. The chances of this happening increase exponentially if the subject of conversation happens to have autism. I get it all the time. “Would George like a hamburger?” they will ask. My answer always seems to throw them a little: “Ask him,” I say. Yes, it is true that George is not the world’s greatest talker, and may not respond to everything that is said to him. But, you know. At least give the kid a chance to try. If he struggles to answer, I will help him.
  3. Guilt. I was educated at a girls-only Catholic school run by nuns, and I am married to an Irish Catholic man. I can therefore say with some authority that the Catholics turn guilt into an art form. And some of the guilt that I feel as a special needs parent (hell, forget special needs – just as a plain old parent) almost makes me think I should just convert. I feel guilty about everything. Did the Taco Bell I ate during pregnancy cause George’s autism? Did I give him enough affection as a baby? Am I paying enough attention to my other son? Did I get too mad at George when he tipped over the laundry basket?  The list goes on and on, and my guilt makes me constantly second-guess myself when I should just be following my parental instincts.
  4. Time. Time very often seems to be my enemy, so much so that I sometimes regard it as a person. Time with a capital T. No matter how much I try, Time seems to run away from me. At the end of each day, there is always something that remains undone. Parenting is my absolute number 1 priority, so my kids’ needs are always taken care of. But I tend to let other areas of my life slip occasionally, and that is detrimental to my physical and mental health.
  5. The Internet. When George was diagnosed with autism five years ago, the first thing I did when I got home was Google autism. I obsessively read web page after web page. Every link that I clicked on seemed to have some information that flatly contradicted something I’d read somewhere else, and in the end my brain was hurting from information overload. I was overwhelmed by not knowing what information to trust. Since then, I am wiser in my use of the Internet and I have learned, for the most part, how to tell the good information from the noise. But the Internet, with all of its gazillion theories about the causes of autism, can still hinder more than it helps a lot of the time.

In my house, there is no such thing as a “small victory”. Every single accomplishment, all of the positive things in our lives – are massive, big things. That’s the way it often is in special needs families. We tend to place extra stock in things that other families take for granted. And as hard as it can be to live with autism, there are many things that I am grateful for, that enable me to keep chugging along even at times when I just want to cry.

  1. Love. Love really does make the world go around. Out of all the challenges my son has, lack of affection is definitely not one of them. Both of my sons give the best hugs that I can carry around with me all day. My favourite moments are when my boys somehow manage to squeeze onto my lap together to give me a hug. I sit there, with my arms full of squirmy, giggling kid, and never want the moment to end.
  2. Running. Yes, running keeps me sane, and when something stops me from doing it – like illness or injury – depression starts to creep in. The fact that it keeps me in good physical health is almost a by-product of running. My prime reason for doing it, along with raising funds for autism, is to keep my mental health on an even keel. I struggle with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and there’s no better way to combat my darker moments than a good long run. I am stubbornly resistant to using medication to deal with my issues, and running acts as a decent substitute for chemicals most of the time.
  3. Therapy. It has been said that running is cheaper than therapy, and while that is certainly true, I actually do need both. The therapist/client relationship is a very strange one. It involves the client placing complete trust in someone they actually know nothing about. I have been going to my therapist for a little over a year now, and it has taken me almost all of this time to build up my trust to a level where I can really open up during my sessions. Sometimes the sessions are very hard and they make me feel all weirded out for a while, but the truth is that once a week, I get the opportunity to talk without reservation in the sanctuary of my therapist’s office. I can say whatever I like and there will be no judgment or anger.
  4. Writing. I am somewhat inept as a verbal communicator, and I experience high levels of anxiety in social situations. When I am talking to other people, I hold back a lot, not only because of my natural shyness, but because my brain actually doesn’t work well during conversation. I can formulate a completely coherent thought in my mind, and even mentally phrase how I want to say it, but when it comes time for me to speak, my words get lost somewhere between my brain and my mouth. With writing, that doesn’t happen. I truly have a voice, and I treasure the opportunities to speak my mind on things that are important to me.
  5. The Internet. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. Despite the evils described in my “bad” list, the Internet is a haven of sorts. I belong to two Internet support groups – one for moms who have suffered pregnancy or infant loss, and one for parents of children with autism. Both of these groups are places where I can vent my concerns, ask for advice, or celebrate good news. Some of my best friends are people who I have known online for a long time, but have never met in person. Here’s the wonderful thing about the Internet: no matter what I am going through on any particular day, I will always be able to find someone who knows, at least to some extent, how I feel.

Getting It Write

15 Apr

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 15 – Writing with style: What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?

The fact that my older son’s childhood development is almost a carbon copy of my own leads me to believe that I am somewhere on the autism spectrum. I had the same speech delays, the same geekiness with numbers, and the same tendency to play by myself in spite of being in a room full of other kids.

To this day, I experience social anxiety, although I have learned how to mask it well enough for other people not to notice. I am not fond of social gatherings where I do not know at least one person very well. During times of stress or conflict I struggle to coherently express my thoughts verbally. Let’s not even get started on the telephone. I am downright terrified of the telephone.

My ineptitude and discomfort with the spoken word is what led me to the written word. Writing is marvelous. It gives me a voice. It provides an outlet for the creativity that I have, to my complete surprise, discovered within me, and it eliminates the problem I have with conversation, where my words frequently get lost between my brain and my mouth.

When I was in high school, I used to get somewhat disillusioned when my creative writing projects were marked down “for lack of structure”. We had it drummed into us that our stories had to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We were supposed to rigidly plan our essays and then stick to the plan. If the ending did not clearly tie in to the beginning, that was the mark of a Bad Essay.

The problem was that this whole beginning-middle-ending thing didn’t work for me. I understood the theory, but I couldn’t make my mind work in such a linear pattern. As long as the stuff I wrote made an impact, and as long as my readers were engaged throughout, did it really matter? Whenever I tried to write in the prescribed way , the finished product came across as stilted and awkward, and just not me.

When I started this blog just over two years ago, I promised myself that I would remain true to my natural style. I try to make sure my writing flows, and that it’s easy on the eye. I have a goal to leave my audience with some kind of message, whether it’s an idea, a call to action, or an emotion. How I accomplish that depends on my subject matter and what my state of mind is like as I’m writing. Sometimes my posts do follow a traditional structure, and when that happens, it’s just because the topic lent itself to that.

Many times, I will change direction midway through a post. I will allow my train of thought to drive my writing. In that sense, my blog posts are often a true reflection of how I think. They are a glimpse into the part of my soul that’s open for public viewing. I may struggle from time to time to come up with the first sentence, but usually, once I achieve that, I’m off and running. I don’t always go to where I had intended. My destination can be a surprise even to me.

The journey is always a lot of fun too.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kharlamovaa/6016780468/. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)

Blog Beginnings: A Funny Guy Made Me Do It

17 Mar

Tim "Red Barren" Carter, who gave me the idea for my blog

Two years ago today, my blog was born. When I wrote my first post, I didn’t really give much thought to where it would all lead me. I wouldn’t have even started the blog if I hadn’t been pushed into it.

Here’s what happened:

Over a decade ago, a super-cool dude by the name of Bruce started a super-cool ezine called Really Good Quotes, and I was one of the original subscribers. In the early days of the ezine, Bruce did everything himself: the research, the writing, the sourcing of quotes, and the compilation of the issues. Five days a week he did this.

After a while, Bruce realized that it would be nice to have a life, so he cut back from five days a week to three, and he started enlisting help. He recruited a couple of writers and asked me to be the editor. And so it became my responsibility to collect everyone’s submissions and format them into something resembling a respectable ezine. When I’d been doing this for about a year, Bruce offered me my own column. I handed off the editing responsibilities to a guy named Cliff, who does it far better than I did (and writes an awesome column to boot), and I started focusing my attention on writing.

Through this whole process, I became friends with the other writers on the ezine. We were a close-knit little group from the start and our friendships started to extend beyond the bounds of Really Good Quotes. One of my fellow writers – a guy who, sadly, is no longer with us – was called Tim. Tim had a heart the size of Texas and he was an amazingly funny guy. He was also a technogeek, so in addition to being a friend, he became my unofficial tech support person.

It was Tim who got me into writing outside of Really Good Quotes. My older son’s autism diagnosis came when I was in the midst of post-partum depression, and I felt myself buckling under the weight of everything. Tim contacted me during this dreadful time and told me that perhaps I needed an additional forum for my writing.  He offered me a space on his website where I could write whenever I wanted. There was no requirement to post, there was no pressure and no expectation. I simply had a place to go when I needed to vent.

One day more than a year later, Tim told me I needed to spread my wings. He wasn’t booting me off his site, and in fact he wanted me to stay and continue posting, but he felt that my writing was good enough to warrant a wider audience. He encouraged me to sign up with one of the well-known blogging platforms that came complete with a large community of bloggers. At first I was resistant to the idea. It sounded like more hard work than I was in the mood for.

Tim’s idea would turn out to be a bug that, once planted in my mind, kept nagging at me. After a couple of months, I thought, What the hell? I signed up, and here I am, celebrating my blog’s second birthday.

Many things have happened since then, both in my blog and in the broader context of my life. I have seen all kinds of growth in my kids, I have watched my son beat out all of the doctor’s predictions, and I have done some growing up myself. I have run all kinds of races and beat my own personal best times. I have voted for the first time as a Canadian citizen, I have tied the knot with my long-time partner and I have taken on extra responsibilities at work.

As far as my writing goes, I still write for Really Good Quotes. I am also a writer and scheduling editor for World Moms Blog and I participate regularly in the Indie Ink writing challenges. I have been invited to participate in the Health Activists Writers Month Challenge which runs in April. I have been voted as one of the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs. And very soon, my website will be going through an overhaul. I am excited at the prospect of launching a new look to showcase my writing.

I feel like I am entering a whole new phase and I cannot wait to see where it brings me.

Happy 2nd birthday, blog!

(Photo used with the kind permission of Kristen Carter)

January Goals: Laying The Foundation

9 Jan

launchpadSo, now that I have started 2012 off with a week of inspiration from guest bloggers, it is time for me to solidify my own goals for this year. In short, this year is going to be about me. That does not mean that I will ignore my children, refuse to cook dinner for my family, and let everyone go around in dirty clothes. It simply means that I will do a better job of taking care of myself.

Since becoming a mother, I have put the needs of my family first. Which is fine – the truth is that ultimately, everything I do is for my kids. The problem is that I have been taking care of everyone else at the expense of myself. This has led to me being overwhelmed, exhausted, and in many instances, frustrated and unhappy. In a way, I have allowed the essence of me to get lost, to be buried underneath all of the layers of responsibility that I have imposed upon myself.

And so, this year, I am going to find some balance. I am going to pursue some dreams that have been in the horizon of my mind for some time. I believe that being more balanced, less tired, and more in tune with myself will benefit everyone around me.

In 2012, I am aiming to make great strides in my running. With the help of my friend and coach Phaedra Kennedy, I am going to break 2:10:00 in my Run for Autism in October. I am going to make inroads in the world of writing. And come hell or high water, I am going to develop a positive relationship with food that allows me to build good nutritional habits. The old pattern of alternating binge eating with starving myself is going to come to an end. Sometimes I’m thin, sometimes I’m fat, sometimes I’m in between. I’m tired of the yo-yo, and it makes clothes shopping impossible.

My focus in January will be to lay the groundwork for success. This is my plan:

  • I will realign my sleeping habits to go to bed earlier, so I can wake up early in the mornings to run without feeling like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. When I start my training program on January 30th, I will be used to getting up at five in the morning. My body will have already made that adjustment.
  • I will learn how to do the strength training exercises that Phaedra gave me, so I can incorporate them in my training program right off the bat.
  • I have ordered my Precision Nutrition kit (thanks, Phaedra, for the tip). When it arrives, I will not just dive into it like an overexcited puppy. I will take the time to look over it properly, learn how to use it, and plan appropriately.
  • I will contact a web designer about revamping my site to incorporate both my blog and a general writing component. That will make it easier for me to market myself as a freelance writer.
  • Since I already have a day job, I will start to use my commutes for writing. That’s exactly why Santa brought me this nifty little ’puter that I am writing this post on.

By the end of this month, I will have built myself a launch pad, and I will be able to spend the rest of the year in pursuit of my goals.

Hop on, it’s going to be a wild ride!

From Humble Beginnings: Guest Post by Jennifer Burden

5 Jan

A little more than a year ago, I was wandering around on the WordPress site during a quiet lunch hour, and I stumbled across a blog called World Moms Blog, a group blog that had a handful of writers from three or four countries. I was just starting to take blogging seriously at the time, and I was hungry for opportunities to write. I emailed the founder of World Moms Blog, Jennifer Burden, and kind of wriggled my way onto the list of writers.

A year on, World Moms Blog is more than just a blog. It’s become a social project. There are more than 50 writers from all corners of the world. Women from all walks of life tell their stories, share their dilemmas, and take readers on their journeys through the parenting jungle. Jennifer has started looking at ways in which to use the blog to make the world a better place, and she has even formed some relationships with representatives of the United Nations. Through World Moms Blog, she has promoted awareness of some important issues, like infant pneumonia, and vaccinations for children in impoverished nations. It is my pleasure to give Jennifer an opportunity to talk about her visions for World Moms Blog.

It’s been over a year since World Moms Blog was founded. At the beginning, I thought it would be easy to find international moms to write, but it was an uphill struggle at first!

Today, we write from 17 countries and have over 50 bloggers.

And I have been creating relationships with international foundations, such as the United Nations Foundation and the GAVI Alliance to find ways in 2012 for our global mothers to help raise maternal and children’s health awareness around the world.

We have added both, a Human Rights and Social Good column, in addition to our daily posts, Saturday Sidebar question and Sunday’s Travel Itinerary (written by Kirsten @runningforautism!)

The international writers have been stellar.  Their thought-provoking and well-written posts have attracted and persuaded more amazing mothers to join our mission.

And speaking of missions, this year the World Moms Blog writers helped create our mission statement, as follows:

*Connecting mothers around the world through their stories.

*Promoting understanding and tolerance of other cultures, religions and nationalities.

*Encouraging discussion of important motherhood/parenting/cultural topics.

*Creating a support system for mothers via the blog.

*Helping to promote our writers.

*To strive to create opportunities for social good to help mothers and children around the planet.

We couldn’t have accomplished what we’ve accomplished so far without all the pieces of the puzzle.  It would be impossible to do all the editing, scheduling, writing, welcoming, new writer selection and social media myself.

The synergy and enthusiasm of this global group of women, all mothers, is contagious!

Keep us on your radar.

Help us promote diversity and understanding.

Help us save the lives of children.

You can do this by sharing this post with a friend.

We hope you’ll be glad you did.

Jennifer Burden
Founder/Editor
World Moms Blog

www.worldmomsblog.com

Twitter: @WorldMomsBlog & @JenniferBurden

Thank you, Kirsten, for inviting me to guest post today on your blog.  I want to recognize your volunteerism and writing contributions to the scheduling and writing of World Moms Blog and send you a big THANK YOU!  You are an important piece of our puzzle, and it’s been so great working with you. Here’s to more fun in 2012!

(Photo credit: Jennifer Burden)

The Versatile Blogger

17 Aug

We all know how the Internet knows everything, right? So if I read on the Internet that I am a Versatile Blogger, who am I to argue? It’s true! I have been given a Versatile Blogger Award, and I am now going to bestow this same award on fifteen of my favourite blogs.

This isn’t like winning an Oscar, where you hold a bizarre figurine and thank everyone from God to your mother to the guy who lived four doors down from your uncle when you were two. No, this award is all about bloggers giving each other well-deserved recognition.

There is a certain protocol to be followed when accepting this award, which involves writing a post on your blog. In that post, you first thank the person who gave you the award and include a link back to their blog. Then you tell the world seven things about yourself. Finally, you pass the award on to fifteen blogs that you feel are noteworthy.

So here goes…

A big thank you goes to Deanne, who is an autism mom like myself. Deanne’s blog, Small But Kinda Mighty, is a fantastic resource for autism parents looking for information, support, and hope. Whether you are directly involved with autism or not, I highly recommend that you hop on over and take a look at what Deanne has to say.

Now, seven things about myself that I bet you didn’t know:

1)      I am afraid of spiders. I’m not talking about a vague grossed-out feeling that many people get. I’m talking full-on, panic-inducing arachnophobia. Other creepy-crawlies I can handle. Spiders are pure evil.

2)      I think I have shared this one in a previous long-ago post, but it’s too good not to include here. When I was trekking around in the Sinai Desert in the early 90’s, I purchased dried tea-leaves from a Bedouin Arab. I didn’t know what to do with dried tea-leaves in the middle of a desert (heck, I wouldn’t know what to do with dried tea-leaves anywhere), so me and my friends attempted to smoke them. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

3)      I have shaken hands with Nelson Mandela. Truly one of the greatest moments of my life.

4)      I’m too much of a sissy to get a tattoo, but I did get a belly button ring years ago. The guy I was dating at the time, who happened to be a couple of years younger than me, told me that I was too old to do anything adventurous. I went out and got the belly ring to prove him wrong.

5)      I have a recurring dream in which I am chased into a forest by a giant teapot. Seriously. Even I cannot make this stuff up.

6)      When we were kids, my brother and I climbed onto the roof and dropped a soccer ball down the chimney, believing that it would fall into the fireplace below. We got into a L-O-T of trouble.

7)      I met my husband in a park ten years ago, and we went home together that night because neither of us wanted the date to end. It really was love at first sight.

And now – drumroll, please – I am really excited to share fifteen of my favourite blogs. All of these bloggers have touched my life in some way, and made me a better person, a better mom, a better something. I thank all of them for the impact they have had on my life, and I urge you to visit their blogs and see what they’re all about. Here they are, in no particular order.

–          Autism Dad – This man devotes the better part of his life to caring for the ones he loves. He lives with his elderly father, and is a single dad to two stunningly gorgeous kids, one with autism. When you read his blog, his devotion to his dad and his love for his children jumps right out of the page at you.

–          Asperger Mom – This stay-at-home mom to three children writes about the general challenges of life and parenting, and the more specific challenges of raising a child with Aspergers Syndrome. 

–          These Little Waves – Galit has three children, one husband, and one dog. She also has a good heart, a big smile, some well-earned wisdom, and a great sense of humour. Her blog has something for everyone.

–          Farewell Stranger – Robin is a mom who writes about her journey through the hell of post-partum depression with bravery and honesty. She strives to raise awareness of PPD so that women who suffer from it can get the help that they need.

–          Stuart Duncan – This dad of two boys, one with autism, is truly an advocate for autism awareness. He offers intelligent, informed opinions about the latest in autism news and research, and he’s not afraid to take a stance that may be unpopular. This blog is on my must-read list.

–          Transplanted Thoughts – Bravery takes many forms. It can be a soldier going to fight for his country, or a fireman risking his life to save others from a burning building. Or it can be Amy, who sat by her son’s bedside for five months and then cradled him in her arms as he died. This is an amazing blog by an amazing mom, and you really should give it a read. But first, get out the tissues.

–          Behindhersmile – Michelle, mom of two, is an advocate for liver disease awareness. She brings to light a medical issue that is frequently brushed off by doctors, and she gives pointers on how we can lead healthier lives and keep our livers happy.

–          S Club 4 – S Club Mama has several things in common with me: she is a mom of two, one of her kids has autism, and she is a runner. A girl after my own heart! Her posts cover a variety of topics, both informative and entertaining.

–          The Alchemist – I love reading stories of this mom’s life on the other side of the world. She used to be some kind of engineering guru, then she became a mom, and now she’s finding her way as a writer. She’s awesome. Go on over and read her blog. You know you want to.

–          Mama Wants This – Alison (just one “L”, please!)  is mom to a cute little boy named – um – Monkey, although he apparently has a “normal” name as well. She has a fondness for online quizzes and her toes are funny. If this information doesn’t entice you to visit her wonderful blog, I don’t know what will.

–          Quintessentially Burrows – Asta lives in Norway with her English husband and their “wee lad”. Her blog is wonderfully diverse. She talks about parenting, shopping, paternity leave, and even the weather.

–          Gingerheaddad – Jim’s blog is one of my favourite favourites. He is Dad to three, two of whom are on the autism spectrum.  He is caring, he’s a good dad, and he’s funny. And he has red hair.

–          New Day New Lesson – Susie lives in Israel, a place I spent time in many years ago and that I will always have a special fondness for. Here’s the thing about Susie. She’s into positive thinking, learning stuff from the nonsense life throws at you, and kindness. How could I not promote this blog?

–          Julie Anne – This is a woman I can relate to. She loves to write. She loves to read. She’s a bit obsessed with social media. She has a true appreciation for the value of coffee. I started reading her blog relatively recently and it’s already on my “Blogs I Must Check Daily” list.

–          DC Blogmama – Born in Pakistan and raised in New Jersey, this mom of one is now a lawyer living in DC. Her blog offers a wondeful glimpse into her life as a parent, and I really enjoy reading it.