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shut up about your perfect kid interview

Episode 7: The Imperfection Connection with Gina (Terrasi) Gallagher and Patricia Terrasi

In an Instagram-perfect social media culture, these two sisters and authors of the book Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid! have started a movement of imperfection. They made me laugh and then they made me cry during our conversation as we talked about celebrating kids’ resilience and success, about the inspiration and support we’ve found in the special needs community, and about the gifts and personal growth that have come from imperfectly parenting our amazing and special children.

RESOURCES WE MENTIONED IN THIS WEEK’S EPISODE:

Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid! A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children

The Movement of Imperfection website

Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid! Facebook community

Buddy Cruise

TALK TO ME!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

Leave a comment on the Mama Rising Facebook page
Chat with me via Instagram or Twitter using #MamaRising
Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

If you like what you’re hearing, please leave a review on iTunes. This helps new listeners find the show. Here’s how to do it.

INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS EPISODES

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Special Needs Boston Weekend Activities

Special Needs Boston Activities – Weekend Roundup

More than a few times over the years I’ve wished for a tightly curated list of sensory-friendly weekend activities for our family. Especially when my son was younger, when we couldn’t participate in the average Touch-A-Truck day or storytime at the library.

Some readers know that I spend a few hours each week as creative assistant to Christine Koh over at the award-winning blog Boston Mamas. Among other things, I pore through local event listings looking for cool, inexpensive things to do in the area for local families. And we almost alway include a couple of disability-friendly events.

But I wanted something more tightly curated for special needs families. My goal will be to include whatever sensory-friendly, deaf- and visually-impaired-friendly, and other disability-friendly events I come across each week. And I’d LOVE to hear from readers if you hear of cool, inclusive events in the area. You can let me know in the comments here on the blog, on my Facebook page, or via email.

So – here’s my first official Special Needs Boston Activities Roundup for the weekend. Enjoy! And please me know if it’s helpful to you!

1. Enjoy this sensory-friendly performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Boston)

2. Join more than 50 speakers, including Marlee Matlin, Joyce Banda, and Mandy Harvey, along with 1,000 attendees, at the 2017 Inclusion Summit to keep up the work of full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of life (Boston)

3. Bounce around during Sensory-Friendly Saturdays at Altitude Trampoline Park (Billerica)

4. Attend a free performance of Aladdin, Jr., especially for families of kids with special or sensory needs (Groton)

5. It’s stories, music, and movement during Special Needs Storytime (Lowell)

6. Adaptive Climbing Group-Massachusetts hosts a youth climbing clinic at Brooklyn Boulders (Somerville)

7. Eat, drink, and be thankful at this MAKSgiving Dinner Moms Night Out hosted by Moms of Amazing Kids at the beautiful and rustic Wayside Inn Restaurant (Sudbury)

8. A number of local malls (Burlington, Emerald Square, and North Shore) offer a free Caring Santa program, where kids with sensory and special needs get the chance to visit with Santa in a calm, subdued environment (Various Locations)

Mama Rising Kristin Chalmers

Episode 6: Identity, Creativity, and Marriage

How do we keep our own identity and creative outlets despite the intense demands of special needs parenting? And how the heck do we keep a marriage strong at the same time? Photographer Kristin Chalmers and I talk about how she pursues her own creativity and self-expression while parenting two sons with special needs. She shares the strategies she and her husband have used to create an amazing marriage. And she offers some excellent advice about how families of kids with special needs can capture images ourselves and our children that honor all of our unique needs and differences.

RESOURCES We MENTIONED IN THIS WEEK’S EPISODE:

Kristin Chalmers Photography

Marital Bliss – A Wedding Photographer’s View on Marriage by Kristin Chalmers

Camphill Schools

Date Night with Tina Fey

Spectrum Inspired – Lifestyle Photography for families of kids on the Autism Spectrum

Wolf + Friends – Modern Shopping + Lifestyle Platform to Support Your Child’s Unique Developmental Needs

My Brother Has Autism. This Is What It Feels Like to Be His Sister. by Lulu Mann, Age 9

15 + Classroom Friendly Fidget Toys, Tools + Jewelry Ideas

January Moon (chewable jewelery)

Episode 5: Synch Your Cycle to Your To Do List

TALK TO ME!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

Leave a comment on the Mama Rising Facebook page
Chat with me via Instagram or Twitter using #MamaRising
Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

If you like what you’re hearing, please leave a review on iTunes. This helps new listeners find the show. Here’s how to do it.

INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS EPISODES

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Mama Rising Episode 5

Episode 5: Synch Your Cycle To Your To Do List

Up, down, and all around. That’s how I used to feel as I navigated the tasks of motherhood, advocacy, and running a small business. Just as I’d start to get into a groove, my hormones would shift, and I’d feel derailed, frustrated, tired, and burned out. But over the years I’ve learned some special secrets from wise women about how to use the energy of each phase of my menstrual cycle to invite more ease, peace, and productivity into my life. This episode talks mothering and menstruation. Periods and parenting. I explore the ways we can use each part of our cycle to enhance our advocacy, self-care, and momming. Yes, even those two weeks before our period arrives have great value to offer if we know how to listen!

Resources I Mentioned in This Week’s Episode:

The Overwhelmed Mama’s Guide to More Help, Less Stress, and a Full Cup

The Sanctuary

Young Living Essential Oils

Progessence Plus

The Woman Code by Alissa Vitti

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup

TALK TO ME!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

Leave a comment on the Mama Rising Facebook page
Chat with me via Instagram or Twitter using #MamaRising
Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

If you like what you’re hearing, please leave a review on iTunes. This helps new listeners find the show. Here’s how to do it.

INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS EPISODES

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Mama Rising Episode 4: Dealing with Insensitive Comments

Episode 4: Dealing with Insensitive Comments

It’s a milestone that all special needs parents experience at some point. Repeatedly. Someone makes an insensitive comment and you have to decide how to respond. They’ve remarked about your child’s diagnosis or your parenting. They’ve implied that you’re doing it all wrong or declared you to be a superhero. And they’ve given you unsolicited advice that comes across exactly the wrong way. A listener’s question inspired this episode all about strategies for handling these super uncomfortable moments. I’m happy to share a few actionable tips and ideas for handling whatever nonsense might come your way from a well-meaning (or even a not-so-well-meaning) friend, family member, or stranger.


Resources I Mentioned in this Week’s Episode:

The Overwhelmed Mama’s Guide to More Help, Less Stress, and a Full Cup

Bodhisattva Mind: Teachings to Cultivate Courage and Awareness in the Midst of Suffering by Pema Chödrön

Essential Oils How To (my other online home)

Young Living Essential Oils

The Sanctuary

Episode 1: Triaging Self-Care

Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils by Carolyn Mein

The Feelings Kit (Young Living Essential Oils collection)

Vipassana/Insight Meditation

60+ Facebook Groups for Special Needs Families by Kathryn @ Singing Through the Rain

Find a Therapist

20 Alternatives to Saying “God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle” by Julia Roberts @ Support for Special Needs


TALK TO ME!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS EPISODES

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Mama Rising Episode 3: Bedtime Meditation for Kids

Episode 3: Bedtime Meditation for Kids

Today we have something simple to offer: a tried and true bedtime meditation for kids.

I started repeating this meditation aloud to my son every night at bedtime when he was just a year old. My daughter has been hearing it since birth! Eventually, I recorded it so that Dad could take over bedtime, which came in handy during some hospital stays my son went through. Several nurses actually requested a copy of the CD to keep on hand for other kids, and one asked me for a copy so she could listen to it herself at night! Enjoy!

RESOURCES MENTIONED:
TALK TO ME!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

CATCH UP ON PREVIOUS EPISODES

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Kids Meditations

Four Favorite Meditations for Kids (+ How To Actually Get Kids Meditating!)

As a former kids yoga and meditation teacher, I felt a special kind of woe when I couldn’t convince my son to practice with me. Come on, I wanted to shout! These are evidence-based resiliency and coping strategies! You need these!

So helpful for dealing with mood, stress, anxiety, and more, meditation and yoga have transformed me since I first met them in my early twenties. But with the exception of a bedtime meditation I created years ago that he has listened to every night since, I just couldn’t get the boy engaged.

How to Actually Make Meditations for Kids Work

Until I had a big lightbulb moment. Meditation needs to be an expectation in our home.

We already have a lot of structure and very clear expectations in our house. Each day, both of my kids are expected to complete certain jobs. They get themselves packed for school, take out the trash and recycling, must shower daily, and do a certain amount of reading. Every day also brings “Room Time,” when both kids independently occupy themselves in their own bedrooms, playing, reading, listening to music, or just relaxing (no audio stories or  screens).

So why couldn’t I just set the expectation that this is a daily self-care practice we do together? Why couldn’t I just increase their daily checklist to include 5 expectations instead of 4? Because for a nine-year-old boy with a mood disorder, and a six-year-old sibling of someone with mental illness – a daily meditation practice might arguably be as important a form of self-care as their daily shower is.

So just like that, meditation became a regular practice for both of my kids. And one that I enjoy with them. I invite you to try out our family’s four favorites, and see how it goes. We find these work better 1:1 with a parent – silliness tends to ensue when we try to do them with both kids at the same time!

1. Sleep Meditation for Kids

I used to say this meditation every night to help my son fall asleep. When he was very little, he had lots of anxiety at bedtime. And as he got older, hyper euphoria often took hold.. Long before he got support from medication, he was already getting support from meditation when it came sleep. Eventually, I recorded the meditation, and now both of my kids listen to it on repeat at bedtime independently.

The introduction of what we call “Star and Meditation” around here is borrowed and adapted from Maureen Garth’s book, Meditations for Childrenwhich I highly recommend. The rest is my own creation.

2. Metta (Loving-Kindness) Meditation for Kids

To practice Metta Meditation as an adult, I wish loving-kindness toward myself and my loved ones, my teachers, people I find difficult, and then, finally, toward all beings. A tip for parents of kids with special needs – sometimes in our own practice, spending extra time on wishing Metta toward ourselves can be incredibly powerful. Most of us need it desperately. To do my own Metta practice, I repeat the phrases below for myself and for the others I mentioned:

May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I live with ease

3. Breath Control Meditation

This one is my six-year-old daughter’s favorite. She likes the little monkey (even though we don’t watch it, we just listen to the audio). I like that it gives both of my kids the chance to practice calming breaths when they are already calm and centered. The more we use this meditation for our daily practice, the more I notice both of them using it when they are upset.

4. Concentration/Sound Meditation

Definitely our family favorite. Children and adults alike really love this one and I LOVE watching the focus kids bring to it. When I taught kids’ yoga, I used to bring a singing bowl to classes. At the end I would play it and ask the kids to close their eyes and listen until the sound disappeared, then open their eyes back up. GoZen has made a lovely animated version of that practice. In addition to playing it from my phone during our daily meditation practice, I often pull this one out during a playdate when things get too wild, or when my kids’ antics threaten to move from silly to unsafe. It’s pure magic and never fails to settle things down.

BONUS – Essential Oils for Meditation

My top five oils to support our meditation practice here at home:

  1. Any Citrus Oil – these are kid-friendly and very calming. Favorites in our home to diffuse include Tangerine Oil + Lemon Oil.
  2. Lavender Oil – well-known for it’s settling effect, we use this oil often in our house. And actually, it blends beautifully with Tangerine Oil in a diffuser!
  3. Stress Away Blend – the name speaks for itself!
  4. Frankincense Oil – blends well with Lavender and Citrus Oils, many call Frank the “attitude adjuster”!
  5. Peace + Calming Blend – fabulous for bedtime meditating!
mama rising how to advocate for special needs kids

Episode 2: Fierce Advocacy with a Gentle Heart


Let’s get real for a moment.

Of all the hats I wear on this extreme parenting journey, the toughest and most exhausting for me by far has been that of an advocate.

So in addition to this week’s podcast, today I also have some extra help for you:

 DOWNLOAD The 5 Advocacy Mistakes Parents Make (and What to Do Instead

Mountains of redundant paperwork. Repeating painful memories for new team members. Endless hours on the phone untangling insurance issues. Year-long waiting lists for services and evaluations my child needs right now. Feeling the eye prickle and throat lump that preface tears in the midst of a meeting. Providers or teachers who don’t seem to get it. The ones who totally do but leave or retire.

Maybe you can relate.

Actually, I know you can. Because I’ve received numerous emails, messages, and comments already asking for help with this:

“The advocacy part is so tricky. Because you want to advocate hard for your kid, BUT you want whatever providers you are advocating to, to see themselves as on your kid’s team not on an opposing team. So it’s always such a delicate line to balance.” – M

“Maybe you can also do a segment on how to appear calm when you’re seething because you repeated yourself and they don’t appear to hear you…” – K

“…When I am advocating for my little boy, knowing I am fighting so hard to get him what he needs and deserves, it is so emotional, and I cry….I try so hard not to cry, but it all just means so much. I’m working on thinking of it all as a cold, stark business meeting!” – J

How do we balance being a fierce mama warrior advocate with diplomacy and tact? Is there a way to keep fighting the good fight without becoming bitter, angry, and oppositional? Can we be kind and compassionate and still make sure our child’s needs will be met?

I think so. And in this episode, I share 13 actionable ways to be a fierce advocate with a gentle heart.

Pay attention right now, though, because I don’t want you getting overwhelmed when you’re listening to the podcast. There is a lot here. So start by picking just one strategy.

Choose the one that resonates most or that you believe will make the most difference for you. Or perhaps the one that inspires the strong resistance for you (sometimes the idea I need ends up being the one I most resist!).

And again, take a peek at the companion guide for this podcast:

  DOWNLOAD The 5 Advocacy Mistakes Parents Make (and What to Do Instead)

Some of the topics explored:
  • Handling tears or anger so you can be the best advocate for your kid.
  • Balancing force with finesse.
  • How to stop feeling powerless in your advocacy efforts.
  • Keeping a great working relationship with your child’s team while still asking questions, communicating about problems, and addressing concerns.
  • The one mindset shift that is critical to effective advocacy.
  • What to do when your advocacy efforts aren’t working.
Resources mentioned:

Ice Diving Tutorial
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
IEPs vs 504s
Wrightslaw From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide by Pamela and Peter Wright
The 5 Advocacy Mistakes Parents Make (and What to Do Instead)

Talk to me!

I love seeing your comments, questions, and thoughts. Here’s how you can reach me:

Interested in sponsorship?

I have a variety of juicy parenting, advocacy, wellness, and lifestyle and productivity topics scheduled for the coming weeks and months. Interested in sponsoring  an episode? Email me at lauren@laurenbellon.com.

Catch up on previous episodes

Here’s a complete listing of every episode.

Bonus

…Remember to get your copy of

  DOWNLOAD The 5 Advocacy Mistakes Parents Make (and What to Do Instead)

ice diving

How to Calm Big Emotions + Switch to Problem Solving – in 30 Seconds

I heard from several readers who wanted to know more after I talked about ice diving earlier this week in my post, 7 Simple Tweaks to Stay Calm (That Even Work During a Crisis).

Kai, always eager to share (and be on camera), helped me make this for you:

Ice Diving with Kai

So far, this week, Kai has used the technique to calm down a panic attack – much more quickly than ever before. And I got to take it for a test drive myself after unexpectedly learning that we will need to move later this year (shhhh – kids don’t know yet, so don’t mention it in front of them!). I only had 30 minutes or so to go from getting the news to greeting kids after school. No joke, I went from ugly crying to smiling + problem solving mode. Instantly.

Bodies are cool.