Activities-Based #AdventCalendar (#Autism)

Last year, I switched to an activities-based Advent Calendar. In 2012, I realized how silly the chocolate-filled, store-bought Advent calendar was for three reasons:

  1. the chocolate is cheap and tastes awful
  2. my kids are at their dad’s every other weekend so that means I just throw out the chocolate from those days (why can’t Lindor make an advent calendar?!!)
  3. (and more importantly) my son doesn’t eat chocolate so he didn’t participate

This meant that every morning, my daughter would eat a yucky piece of chocolate while my son ignored the whole lead up to Christmas.

When the opportunity to make an Advent Calendar came up last year through a local mom’s group, I jumped at the chance. We all know that I’m not a crafty person so, when the mom leading the workshop put the canvas and all the materials down in front of me and told me to “just start”, I looked at her with a blank expression and asked her “how?”. Thankfully, because I’ve known her for years, I wasn’t offended when she looked at me as if I had three heads. 😉

After getting over my initial fear, and her showing me how to do some things, I jumped in. Three hours later, our new Advent Calendar was created and ready for use!

Advent Calendar

My daughter was hesitant last year, because she thought she would miss the chocolate but, a few days into the Advent Calendar, she was hooked. This year, she kept telling me how excited she was about the Advent Calendar this year. She even squealed with glee on the weekend about it starting today…and then she didn’t even notice it when she got up this morning. She asked me about it so I looked above her head, then she jumped up and squealed again. Tonight’s activity is to make a snowflake craft. I’ll post pictures on social media throughout the month of the activities we’ll be doing.

Also, people have asked for it so, here’s an “Autism-approved” list of activities that my family can manage for the Advent Calendar:

2014 Activities-Based Advent Calendar

Like me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to follow our Advent Calendar activities this month!

ADDITION MADE ON DECEMBER 2, 2014:

And then I vlogged about our Advent Calendar…

Meal Planning & #SpecialNeeds…?! (#Autism)

I had an “aha!” moment yesterday at mom’s group. The speaker was talking about meal planning and, honestly, whenever this is the topic, I never want to attend. When I was married, I was very regimented abut meal planning. Every Saturday morning, I sat down with the flyers and my recipe books, see what was on sale for the week, make a meal plan for the week then take the kids to the market and library. I would buy staples during the week (pasta, rice, meat, etc), and buy fruits and veggies (and a couple of cookies as a treat for the kids while we were out) for the meal plan.

The rest of the weekend, my slow cooker and oven were going, cooking all the meals for the week so I didn’t have to do anything other than remember to thaw that night’s meal, warm it up and serve throughout the week.

After my marriage ended and my kids’ sensory issues became more prominent, I stopped menu planning. They are very restrictive with their foods, based on blandness (is that a word?!) or spice or shapes. I basically have been eating whatever I felt like of the two dinners I make them each night, or just do up a Mr Noodles for myself. I didn’t see the “point” of meal planning anymore.

My “aha!” moment today was that yes, I can still menu plan…I just need to tweak it a bit, same as what I do for pretty much everything else in our lives. So, I created a Menu Planning Template that I wanted to share…which includes space to write what the kids are eating and what the adults are eating. Nothing fancy:

Meal planning template

Please feel free to print off as many as you wish…and offer feedback below in the Comments section.

I’m also hoping (fingers crossed!) to vlog about my journey with getting back into menu planning so be sure to Subscribe to my Youtbe Channel to check in (or remind me to do it!).

Seriously though, I hope this template is helpful for you…and me! 😉

Why I Haven’t Been Writing (#YouTube)

Not only have I been crazy busy with school assignments, exams, and well, just life in general but I also started something new…my own Youtube channel! Here’s my Channel Introduction:

The entire playlist of the videos I’ve recorded so far:

 

The videos include:

  • Mommy Scenario Tag Video
  • 8 Things Never To Say To A SAHM
  • My First Poppy of the Year…Centered Around My Height…? – Apparently the “other gentleman” was hitting on me, or so one of my Likers on FB informed me. Clearly, I’m “out of the game” as I didn’t see it. Sigh.
  • Calling All Introverts to Support Network – A vlog based on reflections after yesterday’s “coffee time” with parents with kids with Autism, who are interested in the workshop series a girlfriend of mine and I have created.
  • First Dollar Store Video – I see these all over Youtube so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and do my own. 😉

So, be sure to Subscribe to my channel to see videos as soon as they are published. Comment down below if you have a Youtube channel, with a link to it as I would love to subscribe to yours too. Thanks to a few friends in real life and some online followers/Likers for supporting/pushing me to do this.

What My Son is Thankful For (#Autism)

Canadian Thanksgiving was a couple of weekends ago and I was sssooooo happy to receive this turkey made by my son:

IMG_00007062

My son’s teacher wrote down words that all the kids in his class may choose to be thankful for. My son chose the following words:

  • puzzles
  • computer
  • iPad
  • family
  • park
  • Snoezlen

Made my day! Will be going in the tote for future Thanksgivings, to decorate the house.

 

#BlissDomCA Nuggets of Life Wisdom

Blissdom

Yes, it was a bloggers’ conference. Yes, it was a social media conference. Yes, it was an “online influencers” conference…and it was also so much more! I went to Blissdom Canada ’14 this year…my first time! I’m still working my way through the TONS of information I received during 3-day conference but I felt so many of the quotes I tweeted throughout the conference were also great messages for us as parents of kiddos with special needs, that I thought I would share:

“Value your own voice first” ~ @unmarketing

“Speak of anything in the affirmative…and it will be. Don’t let fear stop you.” @KarenCumming

“Your voice is your biggest product.”  @UnAlison

“Don’t ever fear making mistakes. Guard against not learning from them.” @PercyVites

“Keep going until someone says no, and there’s nowhere else to go, but there’s always another way.” @PercyVites

“No need to freak out. Assess problem at hand. Figure out the solution. Move ahead.” @PercyVites

“How do I stay sane? I laugh at the insanity.” @CaroleStaveley

 

Please share your favourite inspirational quotes/thoughts below in the Comments section.

I’ll share photos and other experiences from Blissdom in a future post.

Confession & New #Workshops (#Autism, #AutismSupport, #FamilySupport)

Confession: I LOVE public speaking! I know, I know, it’s one of, if not the top fear that most people have, but I love it. Role playing however…that’s a different story for me. And I have to role play counselling scenarios every week in one of the courses I’m taking right now…but I digress.

A number of years ago, I met a lovely woman named Melissa. We Facebooked and saw eachother every so often. Then earlier this year, she said that she was meeting a number of parents with children with Autism/Asperger’s through her career and asked if we could meet up. She wanted to understand more about what these families were facing (how awesome is she?!!). One coffee date later, and we decided to start holding workshops together, which where later called “Autism – Family & Financial Workshops“. She would be able to talk about the financial aspect of things (budgeting, RDSPs, etc) and I could talk about whatever was timely dependent upon the time of year.

Yesterday, we held another workshop, with me talking about IEPs since it’s that time of year, and how to work with the school. She spoke of budgeting, couponing and price matching. We also had an expert in RDSPs (Registered Disability Savings Plan…available in Canada) come share with us as well.

The chemistry in the room was awesome. I’m so glad that people felt comfortable enough to ask questions throughout my schpiel! If you’ve ever been to a presentation I make, I encourage questions. When people were leaving, they said they felt supported and asked when the next one is being held (January 28th at 10am, for anyone in Hamilton, ON Canada). We put it out there that maybe we should do a “coffee hour”…and people loved the idea. So, we’ve now scheduled an information get together over coffee (November 6th at 10am).

Something amusing happened during our workshop yesterday though that I also wanted to share. We asked for people to complete feedback forms, and when they gave them back, the form was put into a draw for a door prize (it was a beautiful Sherpa throw rug…so soft!). Can you guess which feedback form was completed by an adult who was newly (as in, this week!) diagnosed with Autism, just based on how the paper is folded? 😉

Feedback forms

Yup, that would be the “accordion style” one in the middle. She has a son with Asperger’s, a daughter being assessed for Autism, and she herself has now been diagnosed with Autism…and she’s proud of it…proud of knowing why she always thought of things in a different way; why she always did things just a little bit differently than others around her. Her son is NOT happy though…he liked being the only one in the family with an ASD diagnosis. Poor little guy. 😉

Anyway, if you are in the Hamilton, ON Canada area, please join the Facebook group to learn more about upcoming workshops and coffee times.

If you are outside the Hamilton, ON Canada area, but would like myself and/or Melissa to come to your area whether to offer a workshop series, or even a one-time presentation, please comment below or email me: imamomtoo.meghan@gmail.com.