The Kids’ #Christmas Gifts for their #Teachers and EAs

Every year, the kids and I bake a loaf for each of their teachers and Educational Assistants as the gift before Christmas break. My daughter saw me looking through Pinterest one evening and saw cute decorated jars. When she asked what they were, I told her that they were hot chocolate mixes that people give out as gifts. She immediately asked if we could make them for the teachers and EAs for Christmas…and still bake something.

So, this year, we made individualized hot chocolate containers:

And still made pumpkin loaf too!

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Merry Christmas and thank you to my kids’ teachers and EAs!!

My Local #MP’s Office Helped Me Tremendously! (#CdnPoli, #DavidChristopherson)

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(This post is not sponsored…just a first-hand account of my experience with my MP’s office)

A few weeks ago, I received notice from Canada Revenue Agency that my Canada Child Tax Credit was being audited, hence non-payment for a few months. This is a large sum of money I receive monthly for the kids so it was VERY stressful to not receive this money. Upon receiving this notice, and despite finally having an answer of where the money went, I panicked…to the point of my own version of a meltdown. The notice included a list of documents (tax information, school registration and attendance, etc) that needed to be compiled and returned within 30 days to Canada Revenue Agency…do the math. That would be Christmas time, so of course, that would delay things further. I also immediately panicked about how long it would take in the mail (considering Canada Post is busier at this time of year), Canada Revenue Agency‘s own holiday schedule, and other places’ holiday schedules which would delay my ability to get the documentation Canada Revenue Agency required.

Panic set in. Thankfully, my man was the “calm in the storm” and suggested we go into our local MP’s office, see if they could help. After they reopened after lunch, we went in. I started telling them what was happening (I’m not too proud to admit that I was visibly on the verge of tears the whole time).  The lovely staff person listened, waited for me to finish, and calmly reassured me that we came to the right place; that they could help. She told me to compile all the documents they requested and that they have “a guy” they send all of this kind of stuff to, to fast-track it.

When I got home, I called my kids school, told the temporary office secretary what was needed, and then took the information in on the following Monday when the regular secretary returned for them to pull the information Canada Revenue Agency needed from them. With the kids home over the weekend, I couldn’t sort through all my files to find the appropriate documentation so I did that on Monday and Tuesday while the kids were at school, and while I was waiting for the school to get their documentation.

I went into my MP’s office Wednesday morning with all my documentation, sorted for my son, my daughter, both of the kids (which included documentation that mentioned both of the kids), and for me (to prove where we live) over a two year period. I sat down with the staff person, she said she was impressed with the documentation I was able to put together in such a short amount of time, told me everything would be ok, and I started crying again. The stress of the situation was horrible!

She looked through everything the following day, felt I had provided more than enough documentation, and called me to let me know that she was faxing it to their contact at Canada Revenue Agency. The following week, she called to let me know that they had received it, and was releasing December’s Canada Child Tax Credit amount for me, while they reviewed the documentation to (hopefully) release the arrears shortly thereafter. Medium sigh of relief.

Just got the call today that all the documentation I submitted was approved! We have missed the cheque cut-off date for December as this funding is released early in December because of Christmas, so the arrears will all be deposited in January. Huge sigh of relief!

So a HUGE THANK YOU to Trudy at the Honourable David Christopherson‘s office for all of her help! I’m so glad that my man convinced me to go in and talk to them about this situation!

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…

#AdventCalendar – Days 17 – 22

Our activities-based Advent Calendar this year seems to be a success. My daughter STILL hasn’t mentioned she misses the daily piece of chocolate – yay!

Dec 17 – we went to see Santa (again). One of the malls in town has TWO Santas set up. Weird, I know BUT one is in a storefront near the main food court. Costs about a billion dollars per child to have them take one picture per child. With my man being a professional photographer, we have issue with this. The other Santa is in a part of the mall that isn’t well used. To be honest, I have no idea how the stores there stay in business, but they all have been there for years! Very few people even know of this Santa so, in the 3 or 4 years we’ve been going, we have NEVER had a line up. Last year’s Santa there was a miserable one but this year’s was fantastic! It was his first time at this location, but had been at another mall for 17 years. His experience showed…he waited for my son to approach him, for him to answer questions and, when my son couldn’t answer, Santa switched to yes/no questions. His beard was fake but “child-proof”. We even took a picture…which I have already shared here but want to share again. A picture of Santa and I…with my son stimming in the background. Love it!

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Dec 18 – Lots of baking! The 19th was the last day of school before Christmas break so we had lots of baking to do for teachers and Educational Assistants. My daughter even asked me to bake for our neighbour’s EA too…”because she helps him so much”. Awww…

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Dec 19 – We FINALLY turned our fridge into a snowman! My daughter’s hesitation in doing this was because she was concerned about how to turn something that is rectangular into circles. When we started working on it, she declared it was like a snowman in Minecraft. 😉

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Dec 20 – Was a PA Day for my daughter but my son still had IBI. My daughter was invited to a cookie decorating party, and brought home this lovely box, filled with yummies!

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My son’s IBI had their Christmas party and this year, there were tons of activities! There was the usual singalong, but it was even better this year because each group at IBI had worked on “singing” a song. My son’s was Frosty the Snowman. He stood up with his therapist of the day and didn’t try running away…trying to jump out of the window without a screen behind him…well, that’s a different story. 😉 There was also a room set up with a “snowball fight” which he loved because he loves throwing things up to the ceiling. There was a cupcake-making room, which he had no interest in. He tried playing Christmas bingo. He liked the sensory room, where he got to sit in front of a decorated tree with his favourite movie (Monsters Inc) and just hang out.

B1513822_678609125512186_2028234477_nThere was also a cake. He doesn’t eat cake. My daughter would have loved it but she was busy at her own party. 🙂

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Dec 21 and 22 – the kids were at their dad’s. Of course, the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth was asking what was in the Advent Calendar for the weekend. I told her that it was “boring grownup stuff”. I didn’t tell her that I had two parties to attend Saturday night…but I did tell her that it was just for me to clean the house and prep to decorate, which we will be doing today. 🙂

 

#Christmas #Baking

My kids have amazing teachers and school support this year so we wanted to show our appreciation this holiday season. Four pumpkin loaves and four banana breads for three teachers, two Educational Assistants AND my daughter asked I make one for our neighbour’s son’s EA as well…”because she helps him so much”. Awww…. (The two others were for two wonderful ladies I had a meeting with in the afternoon)

So, after MANY hours, all eight loaves were baked the night before. Top four are pumpkin loaves; bottom four are caramel banana bread.

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And then they were wrapped:

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Since my son was in IBI yesterday, and it was the last day of school, I took the ones for his class just in time for their morning coffee break. 🙂