It's been a horrible year around here for eggs. Chickens in our neck of the woods seem to have forgotten that they have a purpose besides lawn ornament. The going theory around here is they're all off-kilter from last winter. Whatever the cause, mine have finally remembered their calling in life - they're finally giving me big, beautiful eggs again.
I love my girls, I love having an abundance of eggs, and I love the rainbow in my egg carton. So pretty... It's easy to pick out the eggs that were laid by my young hens. They're the ones that don't quite fill their spot!
As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm a bit of a tomboy. I don't usually take time for things like manicures - and things like Jamberry nail wraps are completely foreign to me.
Since I'm co-hosting a fundraiser this weekend for the Liberty for Anna fundraiser, I decided I've give the nail wraps a try.
Here's what my nails looked like to start with. Mind you, I had to cut them completely off in January for goat kidding season, so they're really short.
I watched the official Jamberry application video and rounded up my supplies. Since I'm barely a girl, I didn't have most of them, so I improvised.
I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. I mean really easy. It took about fifteen minutes, and that's only because I didn't know what I was doing. I did this because of the fundraiser, but I seriously think I'll start keeping nail wraps around for my one girly indulgence. They're an easy way to do something special just for me. (And when I order from Rachel Frost, I know I'm also fighting human trafficking.) The added and unexpected bonus is that I told my guys I can't do dishes today since I'm not supposed to submerge my nails for a few hours after application. Darn. And I smile every time I look down at my nails. They're kinda happy today.
Today's guest is women's fiction author Marshanne Mishoe, whose debut novel - The Mind of a Child - highlights the changes in our society's knowledge of and attitude towards children with special needs. It's an awesome debut novel; I enjoyed it and learned so much from it. So please welcome Marshanne as she talks about how her own experience in a Special Education classroom. ~Heather
When I started my three-year stint as a paraprofessional (assistant teacher) in a Special Education classroom I came to the job with absolutely no experience. I don’t just mean I didn’t have classroom experience, I mean I actually had no life experience with a person with special needs. No relatives, no children, no neighbors no nobody. I just had not encountered a person with special needs in any meaningful way.
This made for a fun, funny learning curve that took me down the alleys of autism, cerebral palsy, undiagnosed disorders and more. But 7 out of the 10 children I regularly worked with had Down Syndrome. This disorder is genetic and irreversible. The kids are generally cheerful, happy fellas (Down Syndrome, as with most learning and mental disorders, inexplicably affects many more boys than girls) so they are easy to love. But they each have their own personalities and bents. The one thing they have in common is a tendency to be stubborn.
So, combine my inexperience and the children’s penchant for mischief and there was bound to be some, shall we say, “episodes.” For instance, we had a child with Downs who also had some autistic tendencies. We will call him “Caleb.” For some reason, no one could figure out why, this kid was afraid of trees and bark and leaves… all things trees. His parent had taken him on a camping trip in hopes of desensitizing him to his irrational fear, but they ended up coming back in the middle of the night after he sobbed the word, “trees” for several hours.
Anyway, on nice days at school, we liked to go through the lunch line and take our boys (and two girls) out to the courtyard for lunch. Caleb, was a big eater, and one of his educational goals was to get him to slow down and eat with manners. You can imagine how much this boy enjoyed his food. But when we ate in the courtyard, we had to bring him outdoors kicking and screaming! He would just have a meltdown if a leaf skittered across the pavement! So, my wonderful lead teacher would instruct me to slowly bring leaves and bark and such over to Caleb and gently let them touch him on the leg or arm.
Needless to say, he screamed and cried and screamed some more. I was at the point of wondering what I was doing there and all of a sudden, he stops his fuss. I wouldn’t say he was cured, and he never loved eating in the courtyard, but he learned that he would not be harmed by the trees there!
During my time in Special Ed, I learned to get over being easily embarrassed. I had children run away from me, sneeze on me, climb up my body in fear and so on. I learned to have no embarrassment or fear when entering the boys bathroom. I also learned to laugh when our guys made me look foolish. Like the times I had to bend down, trying not to touch the bathroom floors but still assisting a child that had managed to get stuck in a stall. When I inevitably fell over on the floor, with boy and all, I would screech in disgust and run to the sink to wash my hands up to the shoulders with soap. I guess I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Not a good mix when working with young children!
I also learned to give credit where credit is due. In other words, if one of my students could say his ABC’s up to the letter M, then that was a big deal for that particular kid. We learned the importance of our students learning to say their phone numbers when one of our kids had a scary episode at home.
He was with his father before school one day getting ready, and it came time for the father to go to work. The mother was busy with two younger children, so our student tagged along, following his beloved daddy out to the garage. The father didn’t know he was there. He managed to back out of the driveway and lower the garage door without seeing that his son was following him! This was a February morning and the boy was still wearing the tee shirt and underwear he’d worn to sleep in the night before. A neighbor finally noticed the barefoot and shivering child a full 20-minutes later! He’d wandered way up the street. The neighbor managed to get the boy into his warm car and notified police. They in turned called the mother, who had yet to notice her oldest son was missing. Our student repeatedly tried to say his phone number, but the authorities had a hard time understanding him. I never got exasperated over teaching the phone number lesson for the 100th time again!
There are so many stories and times I could tell you about and in fact, I have used some of my favorite stories in my new book, The Mind of a Child, currently available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other favorite online retailers. One of the dual story lines in the book is loosely based on my years as a parapro. The other story line takes us back in time to the 1940’s and shows us how a person with Down Syndrome was treated back then.
Thanks so much for letting me join you guys here at Heather’s site. I appreciate her generosity so much!
About the author:
The Mind of a Child is Marshanne Mishoe’s first novel. She started her writing career back in the mid 1980’s as a television news reporter and anchor. She worked at WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina for the better part of a decade, and before that she had a two-year stint as a writer and producer for SC-ETV’s satellite branch in Beaufort, SC.
Marshanne now makes her home just north of Atlanta. She lives with her husband, Steve, and their three kids, Jake, Spencer and Marishay. Their dog Millie would be highly incensed if she were left out, so she lives there too.
Visit Marshanne online at www.marshannemishoe.com.
Connect with Marshanne online
Don't get me wrong, there are moments when I enjoy being a girly-girl, but they are few. I'm the kind of girl who loves sinking her fingers in the soil and doesn't mind sitting in a goat pen to let the babies use me as a jungle gym. Most days, my hair is in a ponytail and I'm lucky to keep my fingernails clean and filed. (And I have been known to rectify the aforementioned with my pocketknife if I get to town and realize they have dirt under them.)
So, it was with a certain amount of amusement I agreed to co-host a Jamberry nail wrap party to raise money for Project Liberty and our current fundraiser, Liberty for Anna. (We're at 34% of our goal so far!)
How did this Jamberry party come to be? The incomparable Galit Breen (who is now a Bootkrope author!) messaged me and her friend Rachel Frost saying "You're both women of faith and you both fight human trafficking... I feel with every fiber of my being that maybe something great can happen from threading the two of you together. So. Here we are! Discuss."
That eventually led to a collaboration and this weekend's fundraiser. So, I'm going to take these nails:
... and I'll turn them into something pretty. Something, I daresay, feminine, for a good cause. I'll document my progress as I go. That's the plan, anyway!
How can you help? I'm glad you asked!
And be sure to check in throughout the weekend for chances to win more books!
In my post yesterday, I mentioned that there were a lot of good things going on right now and promised to announce it this week.
And it is a pretty big one, in my world anyway. So here goes...
Booktrope (my publisher) has named me Managing Director of their fledgling Christian imprint, Vox Dei. (Rhymes with "fox day" - it's Latin for God's voice.) It's one of several new imprints and/or changes to existing imprints. You can read their announcement here.
I feel like that simple sentence doesn't fully carry the weight of how over-the-moon excited I am. In every single way, this is the job I was born for. Beyond that, I'm honored that the Booktrope founders have trusted me with this undertaking. I have nothing but respect for them and believe in what they're trying to build. Over the years, Booktrope has grown to be more than a publisher. They're family and I truly love so many of the people there. (Actually, since my husband now works there and we both kind of live and breathe the place, my kids feel like they're part of the Booktrope world too. Our children know way more about publishing books than the average person, but I digress.)
Our tagline at Vox Dei is "Christian books for a messy world." As an author, I struggled to find a niche in the secular market because my books were a paradox of light and dark. They didn't fit neatly into any specific niche, so "the big five" were hesitant to take them on. God led me to Booktrope, the perfect home for my books and for me. I hope to create that same perfect niche for Christian writers in Vox Dei. Please swing by the website to check it out - and if you are a Christian writer struggling to find that perfect fit, or you know a good indie author, please tell them to submit to Vox Dei. We're actively seeking good writers, especially in Christian fiction!
Be sure to find and follow us on Facebook (VoxDeiPublishing) and Twitter (@voxdeipub).
If you're wondering what that means for my books and writing schedule, I still have big plans for 2015 releases. While I might direct a title or two over to Vox Dei from my upcoming releases, my other publication plans haven't changed. In fact, I am bubbling with excitement about sharing Vance's novel soon.
Today shouldn't have happened. At least not the way it did, anyway.
Ever since I got the call on Tuesday, I've muddled through the week in a haze. I have so many good things going on right now, so much that demands my attention, that I found myself putting one foot in front of the other to get through. I didn't have time to process. So I put my happy face on and went about my week, careful not to let my mind wander too close to reality.
Because reality is that one of my son's friends took his own life this week. Reality is that I'm incredibly, terribly sad. My heart is breaking for this boy's pain, for the boy's mother, for my own son. I see his smile in my mind. I remember him using that smile to con me in to buying him a hot chocolate from the concession stand, or to get himself out of trouble because he'd nearly set my house on fire. He was an imp. An oversized one, all big and lumbery and sweaty, but an imp nonetheless.
Last night, a few of us moms sat around the visitation, reminiscing about the misadventures he got into with our boys. Today, I nearly lost it at the funeral when those misadventures made it into the eulogy. I was only a sports mom for our first year and a half or so of being in our little town before I went back to homeschooling my kids. But in that time, I fed those boys before games, I cheered them on, I became invested in them and their lives. I grew to love them. And the boys themselves became closer than friends. They were brothers.
As a mom, one of the top two hardest moments was watching my son carry the casket of his friend. There was one point when I was standing with two of the other moms, two I'd spend many hours with feeding boys before games. We just looked at each other, numb. What do you say? I wanted to crawl out of my skin, to be anywhere but there. I wanted to rewind a year, to see that goofy lopsided grin as he thanked me for letting him swipe an extra piece of French bread even as I waggled the spatula at him and told him to scoot.
And I knew that however great my pain, it was nothing compared to that of the mother standing at the casket to say one last goodbye to her son. I felt so incredibly helpless in the face of that kind of pain.
Tomorrow, I'll share my happy news. Tomorrow, I'll get back to the business of living. Tonight, I'm sad.
If you haven't read Roses in Ecuador yet, now's your chance! One of the characters from this one is about to make a reappearance, so you want to be ready... stay tuned for details.