Celebrate Often: The Heroes We Know Collection

This month’s Celebrate Often post is about Author Kira Parris-Moore and her The Heroes We Know Collection. In addition to her first book, Trey, the Chef, which was published in 2019, Kira Parris-Moore’s second book, Suzy, the Dressmaker, is available now!

Mental illness or developmental disabilities are nothing that ANYONE should be ashamed of and anyone who has these challenges and still manages to make it through their day to day should be celebrated!

Author Kira Parris-Moore

Inspiration Behind The Collection

So what is the inspiration behind the Heroes We Know Collection? The author has three very clear goals to fulfill with her collection:

  • present mental health and developmental awareness in a way children could understand
  • increase cultural diversity by having each character be a different race
  • provide inspiration by showing children that they can succeed and accomplish their goals no matter what developmental/mental health barriers they face

Meet The Heroes We Know

The main character of the first Heroes We Know book is inspired by Kira Parris-Moore’s oldest son. Trey is Autistic and in Trey, the Chef, he uses is passion for cooking to speak beyond words. Visit our previous post to read more about Trey, the Chef.

Anxiety is the focus in Suzy, the Dressmaker. Anxiety is a common issue faced by people of all ages. What is great about Suzy, the Dressmaker is that it introduces anxiety in simple way. A young child might not know the word anxiety, but the books allows them to relate to the “feeling” of anxiety. Therefore, giving children a better way to talk about what they are going through.

Similarly to Trey, the Chef, Suzy is full of passion and creativity! Although we see Suzy worry, we also see Suzy practice techniques to help her calm down. Above all, these techniques can help readers work through their worries, too!

In addition to the story, each Heroes We Know book includes an interactive activity that makes each book a touch more special!

To purchase either book or learn more about the author, visit books2inspire.com. Every person that purchases Trey, the Chef gets a 15% discount off the purchase of Avaz AAC, an augmented alternative communication app that allows nonverbal children/adults to communicate with the outside world through technology. Trey, the Chef will also be featured in the Just Like Me Box for Autism Awareness Month in April.

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Do you know a hero that should be celebrated? I do! My seven year old Autistic son! He is non-verbal and has global developmental delays. I cannot imagine his daily frustrations of wanting to communicate his needs, wants, and discomforts. There are times when his behavior reflects that he is going through something unpleasant. However, you are more likely to find him happily laughing and smile. Even when I know he is uncomfortable, he finds many beautiful smiles to share with his family and community! Leave a comment about the heroes you know!

Sometimes, we go through difficulties! Some people decide to give up amidst struggles. Some believe that their success is limited by what other people say or expect. However, at Not Mad. Motivated., we believe that our biggest barriers and obstacles can fuel our success. My Autistic son’s global developmental delays inspires me to say “I’m Not Mad. I’m Motivated.”

Let life’s obstacles inspire you and help remind others to choose motivation and not anger by supporting Not Mad. Motivated. with the purchase of a shirt and/or a tote. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog!

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Celebrate Often and Be Peppered with Possibilities!

Many parents experience difficulties with children having ‘picky’ eating habits. This challenge is often magnified for Autistic children because of the increased probability of sensory processing complications. Whether the food overstimulates or underwhelms the senses, it can be a quick and easy refusal of food on sight or smell alone!

Of course there are Autistic children who enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits. However, many parents – including myself – find it difficult to persuade our Autistic child to voluntarily and consistently consume the most healthiest of foods.

One minor solution to help increase vegetables/fruit intake is to hide these items among food that your child already enjoys. For example, try adding a purée of carrots to spaghetti sauce if your picky eater loves spaghetti. One may conclude that ‘hiding’ fruits and vegetables is a good start. However, the ultimate goal is finding the right healthy foods that your child will be eager to eat!

For more ideas about boosting meals with purées, check out this book.

The Right Super Food Made it to the Table

I admit that I have not been the best at preparing and eating vegetables. I recognized that changing my eating habits could directly influence the habits of my son. This thought, along with some unexpected weight gain, helped guide my decision to participate in a Reset and Rebalance Program. The “Reset” included a week of all the vegetables that I could stand. So when it was time to dice all those vegetables to make some easy and filling soup, I had my seven year old son sitting at the table with me. To my surprise, he picked up a piece of a bell pepper and took several bites!

I must admit that when he first tried bell peppers, he only chewed then (which got messy). But my “Celebrate Often” excitement of knowing that he chose to opened his mouth and try peppers overruled my concerns over the mess. Now, whenever I chop and dice vegetables, I try to have my youngest son sitting with me, leaving every type of vegetable within his reach.

Small Change, Great Reward

You might think that adding bell peppers to a diet is not much to celebrate, but you would be wrong. There are many amazing benefits of bell peppers. They are high in vitamin A, supporting eye health. They are a great source of vitamin C, which supports tissue health and immunity. The folate in peppers supports the functioning of red blood cells. The lycopene, in red bell peppers fight free radicals that are acquired from natural exposure to environmental toxins. Are you celebrating yet? All these benefits are great, but there are a couple more benefits, or possible benefits, that really causes me to celebrate!

The high sources of potassium and the good source of fiber helps keep fluids and minerals balanced and can help regulate digestion. Since my son regularly suffers from constipation, these combined benefits are greatly reflective of his nutritional needs. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, consumption of bell peppers may help lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Although my son is only a young seven, his Autism is thought to be a symptom for a rare disease, PTEN Hamartomous Tumor Syndrome (PHTS), which can increase the risk of cancers such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Amazing, right?!

The Not Mad. Motivated. Mindset

When it comes to a picky eater, just like in life, it is important to create new paths and possibilities to success. We all come across difficult situations, some more difficult and more traumatic than others. These situations are ours to overcome! Whether we have the support of a community, or we are in our “corner” alone, it is ultimately our decision to use all the strength within and around us to survive and seek success.

Not Mad. Motivated. was created to be a reminder to use current and past difficulties and challenges as motivation for forward movement toward positive change. Help us spread the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset by purchasing your Not Mad. Motivated. shirt today!

Not Mad. Motivated. short sleeved t-shirt in Royal Blue with white print.

Coming this week: New Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise!

Hind’s Hands: A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Book Sharing

My collection of children’s books about Autism continues to grow! I am happy to share my latest addition, Hind’s Hands: A Story About Autism.

Hind's Hands: A Story About Autism by Umm Juwayriyah and Juwayriyah Ayed

When I saw that Author Umm Juwayriyah was planning to visit my hometown with “books in tow”, I could not pass up the opportunity to meet – and purchase a book directly from – an author that I follow on social media. I performed an online search to explore Umm Juwayriyah’s catalog of work and to get a better idea of which book I wanted to buy. To my great satisfaction, I found that she, along with her daughter, Juwayriyah, wrote a book about Autism!

Meet the Author

I have loved reading for fun since I was a child, and once aspired to have my own bookstore. Even now, I look forward to owning a home with a dedicated library room.

Of all the years of me enjoying books, I have only met a handful of the authors who are responsible for providing me with their unique gifts of reading. Umm Juwayriyah is the latest of authors that I had the pleasure of meeting!

We arranged to meet at a local Masjid on a bright Saturday afternoon. As a parent of three school-aged children, and as someone who works full-time from home, having a face-to-face conversation with another adult was a welcomed departure from my typical day. We spent a good amount of time chatting before the North Carolina heat became sweltering. Despite the heat, it was great to meet a sister in both Faith and in parenting an Autistic child.

Faith Helps Sibling Practice Patience

Hind’s Hands: A Story About Autism is a lovely book from the perspective of nine year old Juwayriyah. Juwayriyah is the big sister of Hind, who is Autistic.

She’s kinda rough on the outside, but once you get to know her and her ways, then you’ll see how sweet she is.

Hind’s Hands: A Story About Autism

Having an Autistic sibling can be challenging. But Juwayriyah learns that patience is an important characteristic of any big sister (or brother). When Juwayriyah was younger, she would sometimes yell at Hind, allowing her frustrations to get the best of her. This would result in both her and Hind crying. Their Ummi (Mommy) used these difficult situations to teach Juwayriyah to help Hind learn by showing her good examples.

After receiving Ummi’s words of advice, Juwayriyah tries hard to be a better big sister and she asks Allah (God) for more patience. Now, Juwayriyah reacts differently when Hind messes up a clean room or has an outburst. Instead of yelling, Juwayriyah says Bismillah (In the name of Allah) and softly rub Hind’s hands together for her. Juwayriyah knows that Hind’s hands are special and important. She uses this knowledge to help Hind feel calm. She even shows Hind some hand games!

A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Point of View

I love that this book is full of lessons and teachable moments! This Story About Autism is a true reflection of what “Not Mad. Motivated.” means – using moments of difficulty and growing from them! As the mother of three boys, the youngest being Autistic, I have witnessed many incidences leading to great frustrations. From messing up rooms, to taking food and drinks, to being loud all night, my oldest two sons can truly relate to Juwayriyah’s difficulties. However, reading Hind’s Hands is a reminder to them to practice patience and to seek Help from their Creator. It also reminds them of how important they are to the family and to their younger siblings.

This book is special to me because it depicts a Black Muslim family who loves and grows with someone with Autism. This is the first occasion that I have personally witness this depicted in a children’s book. I am happy to share it with my family because it reflect us in so many ways. I am happy to share it with others because it may also reflect them in many ways. Whether you are Muslim or not, and no matter your race, many of us are connected through our relationship with Autism. We are connected through our need for support and understanding. We are connected through our dreams, our hopes, our pain, our strengths, and our struggles.

Speaking of dreams. . .

Bonus Book Sharing: YASEEN’S BIG DREAM

Author Umm Juwayriyah has a book that came out earlier this year! Yaseen’s Big Dream is an exciting children’s book about a very ambitious young boy. This book is not specifically about Autism. But a story about dreaming big is really a story about most of us.

Yaseen's BIG Dream by Umm Juwayriyah

What I appreciate most about this book, is that Yaseen’s dream are never selfish. He is not dreaming to be rich or famous. He is dreaming to be helpful to others! Even though he is an important person in his biggest dream, he doing things like feeding the homeless (and feeding them well, may I add) and teaching communities how to start their own gardens. Yaseen is a true leader in his desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

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Trey, the Chef: A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Book Sharing

Trey, the Chef
Written by Kira Parris-Moore
Illustrations by Federica Fabbian
Newman Springs Publishing 2019

For over a year, I have been collecting children’s books about Autism. Some books have been added to our family library. Other books were donated to my son’s classroom. All of them have been wonderfully unique – similar to the Autistic children that each book represents. I am incredibly excited to share with you all one of the latest books added to our home collection. One of author Kira Parris-Moore’s inspiration for writing Trey, the Chef? Her son’s passion for cooking.

As the Creator of Books2Inspire, LLC., Kira Parris-Moore aims to “increase awareness of various developmental disabilities and mental health disorders” by showcasing children’s books “that recognize resiliency in children and their ability to overcome life’s challenges”. And indeed, Trey, the Chef, the first book featured on Books2Inspire.com, will help inspire many to widen their views about Autism.

Trey, the Chef is a fictional story that depicts the real possibilities for all children who have proper support and motivation. Kira Parris-Moore imagines her son as a renowned chef who uses his creativity and attention to details to communicate to the world. When the story introduces common tasks that are difficult for Trey, Kira Parris-Moore announces that Trey has AUTISM with a visual style that depicts a true celebration for EVERYTHING that he is! Although the story makes mention of them, Trey, the Chef is definitely not defined by his challenges. Kira Parris-Moore sends a clear message about allowing our children to pave their own beautiful path to success while utilizing their strengths versus dwelling on adversity.

Cooking Like Chef Trey

A bonus to owning this book are the included recipes. Both recipes, salmon croquettes and elephant ears, are easy to follow and delicious. We enjoyed the versatility of the salmon croquettes; each of us having them our our own way. I do not eat much fish but I was happy to have these, and look forward to my sons making them regularly! I think our croquettes (pictured below) turned out pretty good for our first try!

Our tasty salmon croquettes!

We had our elephant ears with cinnamon-sugar, and the first few moments of eating were composed of many satisfying mmms. Needless to say, I have some new food items to add to the “keep in-stock” list!

Our delicious elephant ears!

Trey, the Chef is a delightful book that has a place in all children’s lives. It can help inspire Autistic children to express themselves in what ever language works for them. It can also teach other children that being different should be celebrated, and that everyone has special gifts. The benefits of this book goes beyond its cover by connecting people through better understanding and good food.

You can buy your copy of Trey, the Chef on Amazon.com or at Books2Inspire.com.

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Thank you for visiting Not Mad. Motivated. We appreciate your support! If you believe that difficulties are best utilized as opportunities of motivation, consider purchasing a Not Mad. Motivated. shirt or tote from our online shop. And, subscribe to our Blog and/or Newsletter to have content delivered directly to you email.

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Visiting Falls Lake (NC) Brings New Awareness – A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Point of View

Last week, my family and I took an impromptu visit to a local lake. We first grabbed some lunch and then headed to the water. There are many lake access points and our adventure led us to one that we have visited many times in the past. We walked through some trees, with cups from lunch in hand, to have some family fun.

My oldest son followed their father’s lead and removed his shoes. After a short delay, I removed the shoes and socks of our youngest [and Autistic] son. My middle son was not immediately sold on getting into the water and instead requested to take a walk. So off him and I went.

We did not go very far before stopping to observe the environment – the smell, the tall grass growing in the water, the butterflies. When I looked over at the rest of the family, I panicked at the sight of my youngest son about knee deep in the lake. He started moving back toward the bank, likely in reaction to my outburst.

I realized that I was probably overreacting. I didn’t want to rob my middle son of his time, so I began to refocus on my interaction with him. But instead, he cut the walk short since I was, as he stated, ‘scared’. As we were walking to rejoin the others, I noticed our youngest son was now about chest deep in the lake. My panic returned and multiplied. Although his dad was calling for him to return, we could slowly see more and more of him disappearing into the water as he ignored the calls.

I did not want to rush toward him and risk him moving faster into deeper water, as he seemed to be moving in slow motion. He is usually very good at following instructions to ‘come here’. However, on this occasion and for reasons unknown, he was not interested in following directions.

I do not imagine that he understood how his act of defiance was actually placing his life in danger. His dad moved in to get him after a short time, although it felt like several minutes! He was safely returned to the bank of the lake with his clothes wet up to his shoulders and cup still in hand.

A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Point of View

It truly is a Blessing that we left the lake with all three of our sons being alive and well. Even though I had my eyes on him, the thought of him moving into deeper water and losing his ability to stand before someone got to him was frightening. In one moment, he was walking behind his dad. In the next moment, he forged his own path into deeper waters.

Ironically, an incident that I worried could have ended tragically actually now has revealed itself as a symbolism of life. Our children follow us to learn by our actions and our words. Eventually most of them will pave their own paths in this world. Some of them with stay on ‘bank’. Some of them will ‘get their feet wet’. While others will ‘dive right in’. What we must do as parents, caregivers, and supportive communities, is prepare them to the best of our ability, and keep our eyes open for them in case they need help.

There are many bumps in the road for someone that is responsible for the well being of a child. Try not to focus on the bumps. Instead, focus on letting every child know that they are worth the journey. And teach them skills that just might smooth out their road in the future. Time for swim lessons!

Support “Not Mad. Motivated.”

Thank you for visiting Not Mad. Motivated. We appreciate your support! If you believe that difficulties are best utilized as opportunities of motivation, consider purchasing a Not Mad. Motivated. tee shirt from our online shop.

If you are not a current subscriber, please subscribe to have future blog posts delivered directly to you!

Do you have thoughts to share about this blog? Your comments are welcomed!