Category Archives: Journey

Why We Don’t Do Santa and How We DO Celebrate

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I’m joining in with the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. Here’s a little about the what and why of our holiday traditions. I would love to hear yours… Enjoy!

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We decided early on we weren’t doing Santa. It just doesn’t make sense. Pause for gasping and sputtering… it’s okay, everybody does. Don’t even get me started on that elf!

I did worry a lot about the boys missing out on the wonder and excitement, especially early on. I also worried they would feel like they were being left out. But, I also didn’t want them caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. The first few years we just didn’t mention the S. man. They were too little, no need to discuss it. We had our tree and did our gifts and moved on with our holiday. No Santa required. Then, Mr. Man’s fears began. He was seeing green faces coming out of walls. The idea of someone he didn’t know coming into our house at night was terrifying. Why on Earth would we perpetuate that? In fun? Absolutely not. He must have heard of Santa somewhere because he once pointed to a display and said, “HE isn’t coming to my house, right?!”

96264F7C-AA50-4C82-AD8C-6AB3685B7265Recently, Monky asked for something and I responded with the typical “Maybe for Christmas” response. To which he replied, “Oh, we’ll have to ask THAT man.” This made me chuckle.

Besides this, I really never understood the point. I felt like we lie to our kids then try to teach them not to lie. Not to mention the confusion between our spiritual beliefs about Christmas and Santa… I mean come on, Santa wins, hands down! No, it just made more sense to have the Jolly Old Elf pass by our house altogether. By the time Mr. Man was old enough to ask about Santa, he was past the age of belief anyway. Plus, he struggles so much between what is real and make-believe. We saw absolutely no reason to confuse him further.

I don’t feel the boys have ever felt left out or that Christmas was any less of a magical time, at least not that they have expressed to me so far. We’ll see…

So what DO we do to celebrate?

We’ve always focused on Christmas being Jesus’ birthday and a time to show others that we love them. We do decorate a tree, mostly because of sentimental reasons for Mama. Mr. Bean could do without that tradition.

4B8E8178-D50C-41B9-A47A-C272059A9ECEWe do a lot of baking, looking at lights, special movies, and hot cocoa- time together. We always pick one charitable activity to participate in. We do advent calendars, candlelight services, and special days with grandparents. Focusing on the true value of the season. I use to cook a Christmas dinner, but decided I didn’t enjoy spending the day in the kitchen and not WITH my boys. Now, Chinese take-out is our Christmas Day tradition and the boys LOVE it. I do make a special breakfast, which is mostly for the fun of a parent torturing their child while they are made to wait even longer for their presents.

I have to avoid social media on Christmas. While I do love to see the trees, decorations and family photos, I have noticed a trend that occurs every Christmas Eve. More and more posts appear in which parents try to show-off how much Santa left under the tree. For SO many reasons, this is a phenomenon that I need to avoid. The one upness is a behavior I just don’t have the patience for. I also don’t want the boys to see it. We are trying to teach them that Christmas is about more than how much stuff we get, and this perpetuates feelings of envy and discontentment.

Yes, as a parent I absolutely love giving my children gifts and watching their eyes light up with excitement. However, I don’t like having to fight off the little green-eyed monster that pops up when we overindulge them. The first few Christmas’s we overdid it…absolutely. To be honest, this Mama is constantly having to place herself in check in this area. But, we have definitely toned down the amount under the tree and the boys haven’t seemed to notice or care in the least. We aim to follow the Three-Gift Rule. Just as the Wise Men brought three gifts, the boys get three gifts. Usually, it’s something they want, a game and something creative, fun or educational.  If I struggle with keeping myself in check, I tend to throw some books in the mix.

71EF377F-1AF4-40E1-B4B8-51F93EC96846One other thing we find important is teaching each boy to think of his brother. We take each one out for a special one on one time and give him $20 to get a gift for his brother. This is still hard for them, but a great opportunity to learn to think about what someone else would like. This time is so special to me, and I hope its something they remember as they grow up.

What do you do during the holiday season that is special to your family? However you celebrate, enjoy those around you and remember the true meaning of Christmas!

“I love Christmas cookies!”~Mr. Man

“It cools down and snow!”~Monkey

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Celebrating Gratefulness

I’m joining in with Timberdoodle’s blog hop.

November is upon us and I thought I’d take a moment to focus on some things we are thankful for. To be honest, it’s been a rough year in our world and I’m trying to get my own mindset back in check. Working on being an example and practicing calming strategies to show Monkey how to handle our big emotions. Writing is calming for me… and I don’t do it enough. So what am I thankful for this year? Obviously, I need to do this exercise because making this list was far more difficult than it should be.

I am thankful for…

  • Mr. Man, who shows me daily how to love with your whole heart and is the world’s best cuddler.
  • Money, with all those traits that will make a successful adult one day but, at 5, is costing Mama FAR too much anxiety. Who I can’t even be upset with as we are called to the principal’s office and sent home (yes, that was our day! 1 day a week kiddo….1 day!) Who has the best smile, but thinks kisses are gross! (Keep it that way, sir! Those dimples are dangerous!)
  • My car, which I don’t fear will leave us on the side of the road in 120-degree weather. Last year, this was a real concern.
  • My job, which has opened up so many opportunities for me. It allows me to stay home and homeschool my boys. To focus on their needs and (attempt) to alleviate the stress of full-time work away from home AND balance the boys’ extra needs. It has given me the opportunity to work on finding myself after I had lost myself in those early years.
  • Friends, who are present and bring substance to your life. The ones you can count on to laugh with, vent with and cry with.
  • My church, a wonderful little group who cares for one another and aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions. Who will listen to your thoughts and respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you.
  • My little house (yes, even my old, falling apart- too many issues to count house), which keeps us dry- most of the time. Whose mortgage can’t be beat and keeps us so close we have no choice but to deal with our issues. My tiny house which, after more years than I want to admit of decluttering and minimizing, is starting to show signs of hope.
  • My husband, who knows how to push my buttons like no other. Who believes in me more than he probably should, who I’ve known more of my life than not, and who has been by my side for more than I’d ever imagined over the past 10 years. He puts up with my junk and challenges me to do better. He does the laundry…  we can stop there, right?!

I had the boys do a similar activity and I was so surprised at their responses. It made my heart happy to see that we must be doing something right!

 

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November 5, 2019 · 8:28 pm

The Bean Boys

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I am participating in the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. 71206647_2709305475757006_1934004123913420800_nI thought I would take a moment to introduce my boys to our new readers and update those who have been following our story.

This is Mr. Man… 60960982_10215965262458578_7231202579600900096_o

He is my sweet, loving, 7-year-old, Pokemon fanatic. He loves to sing and draw. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, along with a few other letters, on his 5th birthday. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about children, child development, and parenting. After a tumultuous start to his schooling, we made the decision to pull him from school and see how we did with homeschooling. A year and a half later, we haven’t looked back. I can’t imagine any other way. It just wouldn’t work for our family. Mr. Man is an ecstatic reader who’s voice amazed those who have the opportunity to listen. He struggles with math but tries very hard. He has walked through more than most children his age and is the bravest little man I know.

“My favorite part of doing school at home is that I can take a break.” ~Mr. Man

 

Meet Monkey…

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He lives life hard and loud. He has always been our firecracker and takes living up to the title seriously. At 5-years-old, Monkey is full of humor, wit and a smile that is going to get him into SO much trouble. He’s quick to let you know he’s in charge. He can be the happiest person I know or the angriest. His temper and outbursts of anger have kept us on our toes lately, and have risen to a level of concern. This is a roller coaster I was not prepared to hop back on, not with this child. Academically, he is constantly amazing us. He’s my math man and ridiculously clever. He keeps us laughing for sure (which is a needed balance to the crying). Monkey loves Mario, cooking, and board games. He’s definitely Daddy‘s little gamer.

“I like letters, numbers, reading, and dot-to-dot!” ~Monkey

 

48411421_10214850112740532_2319250552787042304_oThese two are my life, my reason and the fire behind my blog. They keep me busier than I ever imagined and have taught me more than I ever knew I could learn. They’ve tried me far beyond any patience I thought I had and have brought incomprehensible joy to my days. 

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Oh, To Be Organized…

Today, I’m joining in with Timberdoodle’s Home Organization Blog Hop. 69414178_2648680921819462_2915071200889667584_n

I am probably the last person who should write a post about organization! I have great intentions. I feel so much less stress when the clutter is gone and my home is organized. My Pinterest page has tons of pins to help me get my rear in gear and everything works out beautifully in my head. However, I can’t seem to get a handle on it in real life! My garage and children’s room is currently in a state of utter chaos in an ongoing attempt to get organized. My office is a disaster and the homeschool supplies are in a constant state of vagrancy. So instead of writing to tell you all the amazing organizational tips that I use, I am waving the white flag and letting you peek into our chaos. I will share what we are attempting to accomplish (I quite literally just disassembled a bed) and hope that if you have some amazing insights, you will share them! I hope you will not judge my mess… life is chaotic, to say the least! Plus, I feel that it’s important to show other moms that it’s not all Pinterest perfect. Far from!

Here are my before picture. Hopefully, by posting this I will be holding myself accountable to update this blog with finished organized projects (the boys’ beds are scheduled for delivery this week!)

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Before…

You wouldn’t know it looking at our home, but about a year ago we made a decision to work toward creating a more minimalistic home. You can’t tell, but we have gotten rid of a lot (sans books and legos….those were a deal-breaker! They are our joy.) While I am still anxiously awaiting the day when I feel like this goal has been met, I DO notice it when I am at the store. I find that more and more often I see things, get ideas, and then simply leave empty-handed. I may be slow in fixing the problem, but at least I am no longer feeding it! Below I discuss three areas of our life that could always stand to be more organized and what I am doing to accomplish that.

Boys room

Because I work from home and need a quiet space that can be locked to prevent interruptions while on video, it has become necessary for the boys to share a room. I had started by using a corner of the garage as an office, but in the Arizona summers, my classroom was literally melting (and so was I!) Eventually, we moved the boys together and created an office/homeschool room. The problem is, two boys in one small room means very little space to play and very little personal space. We are also finding that having toys in their room is not working out so well. So, in an attempt to create personal space and maintain sanity, the boys’ room will be getting a makeover, which I will proudly show off in an update when the beds arrive. The idea is to create their own spaces and move the toys into the garage, creating an area where they can access their toys that is not in their rooms. However, the garage redo is not happening for a few months as its still well over 100 degrees out there.

Homeschool

DSC_0152I am a planner. I love creating curriculum, planning our days… I just love it. Don’t ask me to create a bulletin board ever again! But, I will plan a unit study for you, no problem. I’m the mom who would spend July planning our entire year. Then get frustrated when those plans were ruined within the first week. I had to teach myself to start planning for a shorter amount of time. I’ve also tried just about every planner on the market (digital and physical). Yet, I always found myself frustrated. Look at all the things we didn’t get done! Then I started something new. Instead of writing down what I planned to do, I wrote down what we actually did each day. While this was a big confidence booster that we do indeed accomplish a lot, it still didn’t quite fill my need to plan. This is our current method and it’s actually working for me. My kids go to an enrichment program on Fridays, so this is my planning day. I use regular old lined paper and write down the lessons we plan to complete in the next four-day loop. Then, as we complete a lesson or activity, I highlight it. This shows me exactly what we accomplished, while still giving me a basic outlined plan to follow. On Friday, I simply move anything we didn’t get to into the first available spots for the next week and we move on with our lives! It is so ridiculously simple. Anyone else LOVE simple?!

Meals

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Tortellini Soup

I am not really sure if this falls under organization or not, but it feels like it should as it has made my life SO much easier. A friend recently introduced me to a meal prepping company called Citrus Pear. You pay for your meals, they shop, you go and spend 2 hours meal prepping and leave with enough freezer meals to last the month, they clean up. I am in love! The meals are reasonable and all I have to do is throw them in the instant pot. Mr. Man has cleaned his plate every night (big deal!!!) and my husband is excited to see a variety of meals (including meat) come across the table again. I love that the meals are prepared using (mostly) unprocessed items and I’ve lost 4 lbs since I started using them (which is a huge deal!… especially since I have changed nothing else). Dinner has never been easier. Check out their site to see if they have a location near you, I highly recommend it.

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The Simple Things

DSC_0060One of the things I love about homeschooling is how every activity becomes a springboard to learning. Whether it be a trip to the aquarium leading to an in-depth look at the creation of in-home aquatic habitats, which is still currently under discussion. No, we cannot keep jellyfish in our pool! Or, a simple family outing for ice cream sparking curiosity about how ice cream is made. There is an abundance of opportunities available, that don’t require a book.

DSC_0072After one such trip out for ice cream, the boys practiced reading a recipe, following measurements and listening to directions in order to make their very own blueberry ice cream.  They were intrigued at how the cream thickened from a liquid into ice cream, as they know it. However, they were not impressed by how much time and work the process took. While they enjoyed the experience and treat, they still prefer to get their ice cream from the store. Oh, well. Perhaps, next week I will show them how to make their own butter!

DSC_0100Whether an outing is the culmination of a learning experience or the start of one, don’t miss the simple opportunities available within your own communities. These real-world experiences are what make education real to our children. These will be the lessons they remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Melting Crayons in the Desert

It’s summer….it’s Arizona…..and this Mama doesn’t do the heat. This is one of the reasons we continue to school throughout the year. Not the most important reason, but one of them. Keeping our schedule as consistent as possible is extremely important in our world. But we make sure to occasionally incorporate fun learning activities that break up the monotony of hibernating in our AC. This summer, our local mall has opened the new Crayola Experience and I have heard many ask about it. So, I decided to take a moment and let everyone know what we thought about it.

In an attempt to avoid the crowds at a brand new indoor attraction, we decided to go check out the Crayola Experience to celebrate Monkey’s birthday on the 4th of July. I was delighted that our plan worked and we were not overwhelmed by large crowds. VERY important in our world.

What is there to do at the Crayola Experience?

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When you enter, you are given coins which you can use to get modeling doh or create a personalized label to put on a crayon. The boys enjoyed this activity and Mama found the process of putting the labels on the crayon oddly mesmerizing. The rest of the experience is broken into several stations that the children can move between creating various types of art.

  • Be a Star: At this station, you can take your photo and design your own personalized coloring pages. We really enjoyed this activity and brought home several pages for the kids to color later. My only complaint is that once you push the ‘take picture’ button, the camera is quite slow in responding. We all know kids don’t sit for that long! It took several attempts to get a good picture. Though, we did bring home some great outtakes, too.
  • Melt and Mold: DSC_0402 copyHere, the children were each given a crayon and chose a mold to design a ring or racecar crayon. Of course, the boys chose racecars. They would insert their crayon into the machine and watch the crayon melt and fill up the mold. Then, they watched as the crayon was cooled and rehardened. After the activity was complete, they were able to take their racecar with them. The children enjoyed watching the process and I was surprised that they were patient throughout the activity.
  • DSC_0397 copyDrip Art: Like Melt and Mold, the children are given crayons to put into the melting machine. At this station, the crayons are dripped onto spinning paper, similar to the old paint spinners I remember as a child. The outcome is a unique work of art. There is a lever that allows you to control the speed of the spinning and change the effect of the design.
  • Silly Selfies: This station is set up with several iPads and allow the children to create silly faces before taking a selfie to add their image to their creation. Monkey especially liked this station (of course he did!) and kept asking for Mama’s email, to send his pictures to me.
  • Colossal Caddy: This station consists of a giant carousel of crayons with plenty of coloring pages for the young artists to enjoy. A child who enjoys coloring (or one that can sit still) would definitely enjoy spending some time at this station.
  • Rockin’ Paper: At this station, the children got to color (in our case) a frog. The frog is then punched out and given metal clasps on the feet. The Crayola workers will then place your frog on a special stage, add music and watch your frog dance.
  • Meltdown: At this station, you can create artwork using melted crayons in special glue gun style pens. The idea at this station seems like a lot of fun, but we found the pens were often running low on crayons (replaced by workers) and the effect was disappointing.
  • Color Magic: DSC_0408 copyAt this station, you color a picture (dragon, unicorn, fairy, etc.) and then scan it into the computers. Your picture is turned into a digital design. You can choose a background for your creation and email it to yourself.
  • Rainbow Rain: This station was one of the biggest hits. The children stood (or in our case danced)DSC_0450 copy in front of a screen. Their picture was projected in front of them as a rainbow of paint poured down over their heads. The kids spent quite some time enjoying this station.
  • You Design: This station was another one of our favorites. Here you design a car or create clothing for a fashion model. After scanning your creation, you can see your designs come to life on the giant tv screens in front of you.
  • Scribble Square: At this station, the world is a chalkboard and your little ones can go graffiti crazy creating their own world. There is also a giant LiteBrite, next to Scribble Square, for the children to get creative with

DSC_0474 copyThere is also a snack and dessert shop available if you get hungry. We stopped here to enjoys some brownies (who needs birthday cake?) The last activity we enjoyed was a panning for gold type station. Although, this is an added cost activity. You purchase a bag of sand and pan for different types of rocks. Monkey loves rocks, so for his special day, we went ahead and got the kids some sand. This activity was much faster than expected, but they were happy with the treasures they were able to take home.

Is it educational?

There are definitely some educational aspects to the Crayola Experience. For us, any outing that involves interacting with others, waiting in line and following directions is educational! Obviously, this experience is filled with a great deal of art and creativity. I liked how the children had the opportunity to see how crayons are created at the Melt and Mold station. I also liked how the children had the opportunity to see the different ways they can use their creativity to create something bigger than a simple picture. My husband is currently looking for a graphic designer for a project he is working on, so I loved that my children had the opportunity to see how they can take what they create on paper and bring it to life on the screen in a unique way.

 

Is it worth the cost?

This is a question that I have been asked a lot! So, here is my honest opinion. For those with super young children, you can probably go through all the stations in about an hour. Older children and those who enjoy spending more time coloring and creating could definitely spend longer there. At $14.99 a person, this seems a bit steep for this Mama. However, since the location is so convenient for us, the annual pass (at $29.99) is quite reasonable. We can stop in for a little break whenever we are in the area. If Mama needs to do something at the mall, there is something the kids can easily look forward to, as well. Plus, with the annual pass, you get 20% off of food shops and the attached Crayola Store….which can easily be a dangerous place!

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Rainbow Rain

Take away – If you enjoy coloring and are looking for a cool activity to get out of the house this summer, you should definitely check out the Crayola Experience. Both Mr. Man and Monkey said they enjoyed it a lot and want to go again. I was also pleasantly surprised that Mr. Man handled the lights and sounds very well. We did not have a single issue/meltdown and I do not recall any whining…..success!

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Why Did I Think This Would Get Easier?

Why did I think this would get easier as they got older? When they were little and had no language, I remember thinking….When they get older it will be easier. When Mr. Man learns to talk the meltdowns will lessen and things will be easier. When Monkey isn’t a toddler, dealing with Mr. Man’s behaviors will be easier.60002327_10215851453573427_6452811242636574720_o

Well, the behaviors have changed, but is it easier? No. Sadly, no.

It’s been a rough few weeks in our world. We seem to have fallen into a pattern. We have periods when we see amazing growth and progress. Then, we hit a wall. Progress halts, behaviors increase and this Mama finds herself in a dark, low place. This is where I find myself now. Mr. Man has ‘hit a wall’ as we refer to it. He’s older, language is doing amazingly, meltdowns have lessened, but it isn’t easier. It’s just different. Meltdowns have been replaced with attitude, defiance, obsessions, and other exhausting and frustrating behaviors. His deficits are more obvious to those outside our world, and that brings a whole new set of issues to struggle with. Add to this, Monkey has been dealing with his own struggles about which Mama has had to open her eyes and deal with. I 45066103_10214433495645365_5884390132240351232_oknow we will walk through this and come out the other side. I know we will walk through more valleys along the way, too. But for now, I must wrestle, and come to terms, with the fact that it isn’t going to get easier.

Maintaining Mama’s sanity while dealing with mental and neurodevelopmental disorders is HARD. Rest in the valley’s Mamas. Don’t make camp, but rest. Climbing the mountains is hard, the views are worth it! 

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The Battle Before

So, here’s the thing about being a parent of a child with “High Functioning” Autism….

I wish people understood.

I wish they understood the battle. The daily fight that occurs before we arrive at any given place. Then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to understand why I am always on edge and perpetually exhausted. Maybe then they would have a better understanding of why I don’t care (unless it’s mid-summer) where my kids’ shoes are.45077208_10214439990247726_9160495227469824000_o

I get it. My kid can put on a show. We know this. Although, as he gets older it does seem to be more difficult for him to hide because the differences are becoming more apparent. I know when you meet him you see a kid who is quiet, well behaved and excited to be part of the group. I get that it takes getting to know him and spending time with him before you can glimpse into our world. “He’s fine,” you say, as you wonder why I seem overly concerned. “He’s SO good!” You say and wonder about a comment I made about our difficult day. But what most people don’t understand is that in order to get to the moment they see, we’ve already waged full-on battle at home. Let me share an example…

Going to church

His teachers love him. They always do. “He’s so sweet and good!” For this I am glad, I truly am. But usually, after I have battled him, I battle myself and wonder if I should have flown the white flag and stayed home. Was it worth it?

Getting dressed… Just because we’ve worn the shirt 50 times just fine does not mean it’s not going to be itchy, too big, too small or simply the wrong color today. There is no precedence to the crimes committed by clothing. Believe me, if there were rules…I could dance that dance. But there aren’t rules. Don’t even get me started on the evils of socks and shoes.

Then, there is the breakfast battle. It’s not what he eats, but how much. Usually, around third breakfast, he is banned from the kitchen (no joke, I have considered a locking fridge) it’s non-stop and it’s obsessive behavior. By now, we are usually in a ball crying because he has realized my intention is to take him outside of the house. “BUT I DON’T NEED TO BRUSH MY TEETH!” Sorry, $1500 in dental work states otherwise, kid. No deal, negotiations over, the line is drawn.

I am already tired. Not to mention, 4-year-old Monkey with his own temper and opinions has stripped and been reclothed at least four times by now. Throw in some brotherly squabbling, hitting and possibly some biting and we have a fairly typical morning.

Today’s outing (church) is a treat… Spring Festival. Which means today Mr. Man does not need to suffer through the torture that is Worship. He hates this and it would mean certain death if it wasn’t for our ever handy noise canceling headphones– which we managed to misplace the week before (THAT was a bad morning!) The kids get to enjoy bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals and popsicles.

However, this change in routine has confused him and he leaves his class no less than three times to come get me during service. The teachers (who are just outside the door and are still getting to know him) seem confused by my concern that he has interrupted service. It’s not the interruption that concerns me, but that he has left without telling anyone. Yes, he seems like all the other kids for the most part. But, please be aware, when confused he becomes a flight risk.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset with the teachers. Most 6-year-olds do not require this level of supervision. However, Mr. Man lacks an understanding of cause and effect. He is impulsive. He does and does not think. He appears to understand directions (but if you gave more than one, he doesn’t) and they are not yet in tune with him. You can see why I am always a bit on edge. Most people aren’t as tuned into him as I am. I think “High Functioning” often causes people to overestimate his understanding and underestimate the need for diligence.

I have now spent the service thinking about morning combat, his flight risk, and the effort it takes to pretend everything is “Great!”

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So yes, I did just go into life-saving action to spare balloon Spiderman from an untimely death by blade of grass.

Nope, I am still not concerned that his shoes are AWOL.

(BTW- I keep extras in the car.)

 

 

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Things We Love…

Okay, Autism Mama’s, let’s be real…. life is crazy! I wanted to take a few moments to share a few items we have found that have made our lives just a little bit easier. Because, anything that can make a struggle a little easier is GOLD!

Noise

Mr. Man struggles with loud noises. Public restrooms are torture. Movie theaters are too loud. A classroom of 30 talking   kids, overwhelming. A screaming younger brother- the worst! Someone suggested we try noise canceling headphones. We got these sport earmuffs and they have been a lifesaver! He now reminds us to bring them and knows to get them from his pack independently when he is getting overwhelmed. They helped him tune out the kids chatter and focus on his teacher’s voice. We can’t go to a movie without them. I have a different pair that folded smaller for portability, but the process to unfold was too complicated and took away his ability to be independent while using them. We love this set!

 

Water Bottles

Water bottles have been a constant struggle for us. We live in Arizona, he needs to bring a water bottle to all activities. However, motor delays make opening most water bottles an issue. If he CAN open the bottles there was always the issue of them breaking with one drop. We drop water bottles… a lot. I needed a more durable material. Water bottles are pricey and I was over them breaking the first time we used them. The other issue was that I had to be able to clean it. If i need to disassemble 20 pieces and use some type of Swiss Army cleaning tool…forget it! I don’t have that kind of time. I look for 4 things when buying water bottles.

  • Durability
  • Mr. Man’s ability to operate it independently
  • Price
  • Ease of cleaning

I came across Contigo Kids Trekker water bottles and love them! They meet all my criteria and both boys love them. My only complaint is that I wish they were a little larger.

 

Bento Style Lunch Boxes

When Mr. Man was in Preschool, I had a problem which I have heard many parents struggle with. I would pack a lunch with a variety of food and I find out teachers were deciding what was appropriate to eat first, last, etc. and would only open (because he wasn’t independent in this skill) certain items. This frustrated him and irritated me. I didn’t pack junk and anything I packed, I wanted him to be able to access. I needed to find a way to give him access and independence. After some searching, I came across the Yumbox. These boxes are great. With the flip of one latch he can access everything I pack. No more overly opinionated teachers dictating his lunch and he no longer depends on others to open all of his food. This became even better when he started Elementary school and he didn’t need to ask for help with his lunch. The boxes are fun and appealing, too. They are also truly leakproof. Yogurt and applesauce…no problem! The containers come apart into 2 pieces for easy cleaning. Note: The outer shell (with silicone for sealing) is NOT dishwasher safe- this will destroy the leakproof seal. I found it best to simply hand wash these with a soft cloth.

 

Pencils

Mr. Man struggles with handwriting. He has a strong grip and pushes hard. We prefer mechanical pencils because pencil sharpeners are either loud or difficult to use. However, his grip is so hard, using a regular mechanical pencil is pretty much impossible. They break more than he is able to write. Then, I found these Handwriting Pencils by PaperMate. The lead is 1.3mm, so it holds up to his intense grip without breaking. Its triangular shape has been wonderful in reminding him how he is to hold a pencil (also, amazing for Monkey who is just learning to write and his hold is awful!) I am so impressed by the improvement in their handwriting since we found these.

 

As you can see, we strive for independence. I can’t always be there to help him and we cannot expect the world to change for him. So, we strive to get him the tools that allow him to be successful and independent. Hopefully, some of the things we love will help make your day just a little bit smoother. Goodness knows, we could all use smoother days!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, I never recommend an item unless we use it and love it! Any items linked are items that I have been recommending to friends and family long before this blog!)

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1 Year (almost) Later….

Wow, I cannot believe it has been almost 1 year! We jumped into homeschooling out of desperation and haven’t looked back. It has been a huge journey/adventure! I was a classroom teacher for many years and started last Spring with on point of view- boy has that changed! Homeschooling is so different from classroom teaching. I have had to make a lot of adjustments to my style and approach. Mr. Man has surprised us all with his growth. When I learned to back off and take more of a Charlotte Mason/Unschooling approach with less pressure, he began to thrive! We also quickly realized that, for him, therapy days = school days and attempting both was NOT happening!

Benefits….

… Mr. Man was able to get 3x the therapy that he got in school. (I say was because we have now traded therapy for a private tutor 2x a week. This was the happy medium we all required to survive the overwhelming stress therapy brought into our lives. In the 45102785_10214439991767764_2496063601765253120_oend, the benefits of therapy did NOT outweigh the stress. Our tutor is amazing and is able to give him one-on-one attention, while giving Mama a break and the ability to give Monkey some much needed….uh, demanded…. attention.)

… We have amazing flexibility! (This alone….worth it!)

… Our house is 100% calmer. (Which is actually quite scary considering it is NOT calm!)

… We actually enjoy our time together. Now, we are the unit we were meant to be.

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