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!


And then I vlogged about our Advent Calendar…

Made an Activities-Based #AdventCalendar

I didn’t have an Advent Calendar growing up. I only learned about them a couple of years ago and thought it was brilliant…get a little chocolate every day in December, just because. Last year, I ate one of the chocolates on a weekend the kids were at their dad’s (don’t tell them!) and couldn’t believe how cheap and gross it was. Ugh. I needed something else.

A couple months ago, we had a speaker at a local mom’s group, and she showed us the Advent Calendar she had made for her family…brilliant! Searched on Pinterest, found some great examples. Time went by and I realized it was suddenly November…and between exams and assignments, I didn’t really know when I would find the time to make one. Then one of the moms groups decided to hold an Advent Calendar/Christmas Card making event. Bingo!

A girlfriend of mine and member of the moms group led the event as she’s a Stampin’ Up consultant. She set up tons of stuff and honestly, I got a bit overwhelmed…too many options. So, she took about half of it away and I started stamping all the numbers. Some worked, some didn’t so I had to repeat those, hence the duplicates.


Then I started working on making the envelopes all “purdy”:


As I continued, I got more comfortable, and my girlfriend started introducing me to more tools I could use to make them even more “purdy”. A couple hours later, I had made all of the envelopes:


We discussed that it was missing “something”. My girlfriend offered to pick up some Christmas fabric and we could use that as a background. Unfortunately, glass had broken all over the fabric the morning we were getting together to finish it off and show to all the ladies in the moms group, so we didn’t get to do that. So we got together a couple of days later to paint the background instead. Took a bit of time to figure out but I decided upon green:

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Included a Christmas tree border around the outside:


After it was dried, I glued some snowflakes and all the envelopes on it.


Added the tags for inside each of the envelopes…and voila! Now proudly displayed on our living room wall.


We love it!

Generosity from Complete Strangers

When I was breaking down the cardboard boxes from Hallowe’en candy, I noticed there were coupons printed on the inside of one of the boxes. I price-match as often as I can, and coupon when I can so I checked them out…and was excited to see a coupon for Delissio pizza for $2. That’s my son’s favourite pizza, and one of the only things he’ll eat on a consistent basis (and by “consistent” I mean daily in his lunches for school and IBI). Figured I would ask my neighbours if I can have their coupons and perhaps a couple of friends. Then, on a whim, I posted the following message in one of the moms groups I belong to on Facebook:

A bit of a strange request….one of the only foods my Autistic son will eat is pizza (3-4 nights per week, and one slice for his lunches at therapy and school). Surprisingly, when I broke down the below Halloween candies box, I found a coupon for the brand of pizza he prefers. Would anyone be willing to give up the box instead of putting it in recycling? Pretty please…

And I included a picture of the box and the coupons:

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People were very kind and left coupons in their mailboxes for me to pick up. One mom went above and beyond. Apparently her fiance is a recycling pick up guy and he offered to grab them from his route. This was ONE day’s route:



And so the purchasing of pizza began…they happened to be on sale last week for $3.50 (normally between $5-7, depending on where you go) so each of these cost me only $1.50!

1385730_654212137951885_456843158_nAt the end of the week, I picked up all the boxes he had gathered from his route:


Now, to keep on cutting…it’s surprising how long it’s taking to cut everything, especially with my wrist buggered up the way it is. But I’ll get through it all. I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity in helping us out!



#HappyBirthday to Me!

Last Thursday was my birthday. In the evening, I had to use a calculator to figure out my age because for some reason, I was thinking I was a year older than I now am. Weird.


I started the day with the kids jumping into bed with me, covering me in happy birthday kisses, including my son actually “happy birthday!”. Perfect way to wake up!


I went to mom’s group after dropping the kids at school and IBI, and then proceeded to get in “trouble” via my personal Facebook from moms who didn’t realize it was my birthday until after they got home and saw it on Facebook. I also stopped by at my local Starbucks for my free birthday treat because my card is registered. They even drew a little party hat on the “Starbucks siren” for me.


 My man spoilt me with a bacon “sammich” for lunch and with it being a weekday so life (and kids) got in the way, my birthday extended to Friday.

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On Friday, my stepdaughter came to visit as she had a PA Day. After dropping my kids off at their dad’s, she wanted to come with my man and I. He wanted to take me clothing shopping, and she wanted to go to the mall we were planning on going to, as she hadn’t gone there in years. While shopping, she threatened to “disown” me because she LOVES shopping and I HATE clothing shopping. 😉

We went grocery shopping after clothing shopping as it was Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada last weekend. While grocery shopping, my man was able to sneak off and order some beautiful roses for me.


So spoilt for my birthday!

#MomsGroup Walk Turned into Something Else

The nicer weather has FINALLY arrived, so I try to schedule a walk with one of the local moms groups at least once a week to get some exercise and grown-up time at the same time. Usually a couple other moms and their babies join me, and we go for a walk around the waterfront. Yesterday, no one else made it out. I had the thought that I would just go home and get some things done around the house before the kids came home but then I realized there was no reason why I couldn’t go for a quick walk myself.


Although I didn’t have the companionship, I was able to go off-path (because no strollers were with me) and enjoy some solitude, get some exercise, breathe in some fresh air, while taking some beautiful pictures. I really love the waterfront!

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Met some companions along the way:

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And some lovely fragrances:

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It turned out to be a lovely soul-enriching hour.

Thankful Thursday – 05/10

This week has been a tough week with my son and I being sick but there are still many things to be thankful for:

  • my son and daughter
  • the fun-filled weekend we had with wonderful friends
  • getting together with childhood friends, one of whom I haven’t seen in at least 15 years
  • being part of a moms group
  • my son and I being on the mend with our colds

What are you thankful for?


#Moms Groups Rock!

It’s taken me a while to find moms groups that don’t kick us out suggest that another group might be “more appropriate for our needs” (welcome to what we sometime face because we have Autism in our family).  I’m still a member of the Facebook groups for the two groups we were part of in Big City, Ontario, and am a member of the one here in Small Town, Ontario.  Each group has a different chemistry, and I love all three of them.

Something happened last week within my local Small Town, Ontario moms group.  We have an amazing chemistry online through our Facebook group, and by the time we all meet in person, it’s as if we’ve known eachother forever. We already know about eachother’s ups and downs, our kids, our relationships, etc.

Last week, one of the babies of the group was admitted to hospital. Next thing I knew, we were all banding together, trying to figure out what we could do for this fellow mom, who was at the hospital for a total of a week and a half. Someone suggested a care-package of sorts to help her through this hard time, and give her something to do other than nurse her baby and worry. Within a day and a half, we had all bought/pulled together items for the care-package, one of the moms picked everything up from people’s homes, packaged it all together and dropped it off at the hospital in the nearby city: 

 Everything happened so quickly that, being offline for only one morning meant that I missed the pick up so I took my own contributions directly to the hospital the following day: 

I have never been so proud to be part of a community, especially an online community. The majority of us (myself included) had never met this mom, but we all felt “responsible” for helping her in whatever way we could. Moms groups rock!


Crazy busy weekend ahead, filled with #fun and #fundraising

This weekend is one of those weekends where there are so many things to do in town and not enough time to do it all, that I’ve had to be very selective with what the kids and I can actually attend. At first, it started out with two events: a mom’s group get together where we have all decided that we will use the excuse of Mother’s Day to get together and exchange cookies; and a birthday party. 

After talking it over with the kids this morning, we have decided to also go a book sale that will be raising money for a local arts organization (my daughter is hoping there will be comic books there for sale), and taking some old electronics to the local computer store for recycling (and the proceeds will be going to the local foodbank).

Childhood friends of mine are also in town, so they will be stopping by this weekend too (one of whom I haven’t seen since high school!).  We’re also hoping to go to the park at some point since the weather is beautiful, and perhaps the library.

The best thing about this weekend is that, besides the gas, ingredients to make the cookies and whatever we might buy at the book sale, it’s relatively inexpensive.  Who says fun needs to be expensive?  It’ll be filled with tons of fun and social time for the kids and I, and we’ll be helping our local community.

What are your plans for the weekend?