Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

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Pulling and Pushing for Peace

Not that it is anything new, but today was really bad with the girls’ sibling rivalry. They could not be anywhere near each other without meltdowns, or UFC style fighting. When they are in this kind of a mood, it is like a war-zone in our house, and I find myself constantly praying for peace, while trying to keep Henry calm.

Since I have been doing Home Therapy with my fun tools, we have discovered that the girls like to do my exercises too. My newest Home Therapy Tool is a measuring tape, which I use with the bar for their swing to simulate a pulley. I took one to work the pulley, and Henry took the other to work the resistance band. When they got too worried about what sister was doing, we switched. Although there were still some tears and yelling, it was a sensational way for them to work off some pent-up energy and aggression.

Once the pulling fun lost its peaceful effect, we took them shopping at Costco. Both girls love heavy-lifting and helping. So putting items in the cart at Costco makes them extremely happy. Anne is content to sit in the cart the entire time and watch the chaos that surrounds her. Beth on the other hand, wants to push the cart, but she settles for helping take stuff off the shelves; until after we check out, because it is not safe for her to be walking around there. Once we have the cart packed, then she gets to help push it out to the car; it is her favorite part of the trip, and she is always in a phenomenal mood afterwards.

When we got home there were still moments filled with sisterly angst, but the choo-choo-box-train quelled most of the unrest. They gave their animals rides in the train; they pushed each other, and even got rides from Daddy. It was a wonderful, mostly peaceful, way to end the day. They even enjoyed a bubble bath together, with no fighting, which is a rarity.

A picture of our day, creatively Pulling and Pushing for Peace:

Image

On a side note… Beth was so excited about the watermelons she helped Daddy pick out, carry and cut up; that she actually ate some and said it was delicious. This is HUGE, because she has always refused to taste it in the past. I am trying not to get too excited, but can’t help hoping this is a sign of good things to come, and perhaps her eating more healthy foods.

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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2013 Firkins

First of all, I really like the word Firkin, and never miss an opportunity to use it. It is one of those words my family has used, well, ever since I can remember. It is also one of those words, which my husband refers to as my family’s own made-up secret language.  Aaahhh, but I digress. I have 2 firkins for 2013 that my beautiful daughters decorated for me. The one panel, I directed which stickers I wanted, but all the others, were their unique designs. As you can see, the rainbows were Beth’s favorite sticker.

jars2

Over the years I have accepted the fact that I stink at New Year’s Resolutions. They are fresh in my mind at the beginning of the year, but as time goes by they start to fade and after a few months, they are no longer a priority. I decided this year I would not make any resolutions, because I tend to use my failure to follow-through on them as a way to abuse myself.  Since I am learning to be nicer to myself, this year I was looking for a new approach. As fate would have it, the two areas I really want to concentrate on, came to me on FaceBook. There are always signposts on our journey, and I am going to make it my goal to follow these 2 guides right through to the end of 2013.

The first area I want to focus on is spiritual. I want to consciously practice being thankful for the abundance of blessings in our life. Even the tough times can be a blessing, if they help you grow and learn something new. Part of my “sickness” is to always revert to the role of martyr. I tend to only focus on the negatives in situations, and often see myself as the victim of some cosmic plot. Once I board the darkside train, it is really hard to escape, and I end up stressed, depressed and cranky. This past year, in working my program, I have made great progress in this area; however, it is a constant struggle between the Angels and Devils in my mind. So when I saw the Blessing Jar photo on Just Feelin’ Good’s page, it was like a neon sign beckoning to me. Thus Firkin #1 is my Blessing Jar, and I look forward to New Year’s Eve, so I can review my year of spiritual treasures. I bought rainbow colored paper to write my notes on, and am making an effort to write one note per day. I write my note before bed, so that I may go to bed with a thankful heart. So far, I have 10 notes of thanks in my jar, I hope to have 365 when it comes time to open and reflect, so I can start 2014 on a cloud of gratitude, pride and joy.

The second area I want, and honestly need, to focus on is better planning and discipline in financial matters. We went through a bankruptcy 3 years ago. It was not our proudest moment, but it was truly our only option. Upon completing the process, we swore we would be better in the future, and not repeat our mistakes. Although we have improved in some areas, we have a long way to go in others. Currently we live paycheck-to-paycheck, have no savings, and carry considerably more debt than I am comfortable with. We get by well enough, and our kids never want for the basics, but there are not a whole lot of extras either. Every year, we say we have to get our act together and find a better way. Sometimes we make progress, and sometimes we stumble backward. As I try to plan my budgeting tools more effectively, I also really need for us to start saving money. I think we all need a nest egg to provide some peace of mind. Usually when we set a goal, we use the go-big-or-go-home motto, but this time again the fates showed me a more realistic approach. I was scrolling through my feed when I saw the 52 Week Money Challenge, which a friend had shared from another friend. I am not sure of its origin, but what a great idea for those of us who need to baby-step our way to a savings account.  Thus Firkin #2 is my Money Saving Jar. You start with $1 the first week, and increase your “deposit” by $1 every week, until the last week of the year, when you add $52. Currently, I have $3 in my jar, and I am optimistic for my ability to complete the challenge, and pray the Angels will keep me on track. I already know, being me, that around week 25 I will start to get squeamish, because things are usually pretty tight; However, God always provides, and I am putting this in His hands, with all my faith and gratitude for His blessings.

Here are my jars as of today, I look forward to seeing them both full of Hope, Faith and Accomplishment on December 31st.

jars6

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Angel

Something AMAZING happened to me tonight, I met an Angel in the parking lot at Walmart.

We have had a rough few weeks, with Beth being sick and life in general not going as planned. As hard as I have been trying to work my program, I find myself still struggling lately, and I  had a horrible case of the blahs today. Although I had finished my Christmas shopping early, I had not stocked up on the household essentials and had to go shopping to get much needed supplies for the girls. So off I went with my sad self, short on patience and cranky because I had to go out in the madness that is holiday shopping 3 days before Christmas. Traffic was horrible, but I put in my ‘Mercy Me’ cd and let the music take me over, soon I was feeling better. Perhaps it was just being out of the house without any sick, whiny children. I love my children but after 2 weeks of being in quarantine with Beth, I am kind of losing my mind.  Plus Anne has hit the terrible two’s just a wee bit early, and sometimes I feel like I am living with two teenagers instead of two kids under age 4.

I finally arrived at my first destination, Fashion bug, which is having a going-out-of-business sale. My wonderful mother-in-law, who knows me all to well, told me I was getting money for Christmas, but I HAD to use it to buy myself clothes, and that I could get more bang for my buck since everything was at least 60% off. Well I spent 1.5hours shopping for me and actually spent all the money on ME, which is not easy considering there is ALWAYS something I can buy for the kids or a bill to pay. Normally I would feel guilty but I was actually happy and excited about my purchase, and had to call momma right away to thank her for making me take care of myself.

Feeling MUCH better at this point, I headed over to Walmart to do the important shopping. I was also there for over an hour, but it was not that enjoyable. Somehow the holiday season manages to bring the worst out in people when they are shopping. I just kept being as polite as could be, and smiling at crabby people, just so I could get through the trip without losing my happy feeling. I finished shopping and my cart was overflowing with diapers, wipes, kid supplies and house supplies. I made my way out to the parking lot, and loaded everything in the van. All the while looking over my shoulder, because I am VERY cautious in parking lots, especially at night, because I am afraid of the dark. Then I went to return my cart to the corral, and that is when it happened…

When I turned around there was a woman standing next to me, I still am not quite sure where she came from, but there she was.

She said: “Excuse me miss, this is for you, Merry Christmas.”
Without evening looking at what she had, I said: “Oh, no thank you.”
She replied: Oh no, please take this. It is from my heart and for you for Christmas.”
I took the little envelope from her hand and said: “Thank you so much.”
She smiled at me and said: “Your welcome, Merry Christmas and God Bless.”

She walked past me, and I quickly went back to the van, got in and locked the doors. I honestly did not know what to think about what just happened, and feared it may be some kind of scam. I sat for a moment listening to the music, which was one of my favorite songs, Beautiful by Mercy Me, then I looked at/in the envelope and there it was:ImageThe woman, who had disappeared as quickly as she had appeared, had given me a $25 gift card for Walmart. The outside said: “For Someone Special” and the inside, as shown above, said: “You Are Loved.” I looked for her in the parking lot, but she was gone; so I just sat there all tingly (the good, did that really happen, chills), crying and saying Thank You to the night sky.

I have NEVER had anything like this ever happen to me, and hours later, still cannot believe that it really happened. On a day when I really needed something to snap me out my funk, God sent me an Angel to remind me of all the miracles and blessings in the world. I am grateful for the financial help, but I am even more thankful for the spiritual help. A simple act of kindness and generosity from a stranger, has given me the BEST Christmas gift of all, for the lady with the red hair and leather jacket reminded me what life is really about, and how it truly is better to give than receive.  Thank You beautiful Angel! I received the message loud and clear, there is still so much good in the world, that I cannot be deterred by the struggles.  I will be eternally grateful for your loving kindness and promise to pay it forward, as best I can.  May we all grow this holiday season through Hope, Love and Faith.  God Bless!

 

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Happy Holidays, Maybe…

We all know the Andy Williams song:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap- happiest season of all”

The song paints a beautiful picture of holiday celebrations with loved ones, and all the joy they should hold. However, as I grow older, I can’t help but wonder, is it all just fairytale or perhaps an illusion? Personally, as a parent, the holidays are extremely stressful because there is always the desire to see and do it all, that must be balanced with what our children can actually tolerate. When you have a child with special needs, the holiday season becomes even more difficult to navigate, because of the chaos that comes with changed routines and sensory overload.

For most families, I think the song goes a little more like this:
“It’s the most stressful time of the year
With the kids crying and struggling,
And everyone telling them “Be a good kid”
It’s the most stressful time of the year
It’s the har-hardest season of all
With those holiday gatherings and loud crazy meetings
When people don’t understand at all
It’s the har-hardest season of all”

I used to love the holidays and look forward to the hustle and bustle, with all the gatherings and celebrations; honestly, the louder the party the more successful and fun it was for me. I waited with anticipation to visit with family and friends until the wee hours of the morning, just enjoying each other and the holiday. However now I have my children to think about, and my idea of the perfect holiday causes at least one of them distress and pain. If as their mother I am struggling to reach a compromise and grieve our old way of life, I can only imagine how hard it is for everyone else in our life.

We are blessed with so many people that love us and want to spend the holidays with us. Our family and friends look forward to seeing our children and enjoying all their craziness. Most of Beth’s sensory issues usually make for an au-some day of rough-housing, filled with delightful screams and giggles, with Anne right there alongside her big sister, ready for the fun. However, when there are too many of the people she loves in one place, and the noise level is much more than normal, her sensory system goes into overload and she becomes a confused, sad mess. If we work really hard, we can minimize the meltdowns and behaviors, and to most it appears she is simply being a bratty child. I suppose we concentrate so hard on keeping her regulated that most people have no idea how bad these excitable, loud gatherings truly affect Beth. Although, sometimes I wish they could see the real picture, I also cannot let her suffer in an effort to educate people. Thankfully, there are brave, wonderful people who have already showed the world what it is like, and I can share their wisdom and examples.

I have found 3 amazing clips, created by people with ASD or SPD, on YouTube that simulate sensory overload. Every person who loves an autistic child, a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, or other special needs that affect the nervous system NEED to watch these, and read their descriptions:

 The Autism Experience

Sensory Overload Simulation

 Aspie Blog – Sensory Overload Through My Eyes

Please remember the basic meaning of the holiday season is to enjoy our loved ones and celebrate the blessings in our life. We all must compromise during the holidays to create a loving gathering filled with happiness and joy. For us the most important part of any celebration is our children, for they are our greatest blessings. Perhaps the adults will not get everything they feel they want in the beginning. However, if the children are happy, their joy will fill the house with such wonder, perhaps everyone will be surprised at how the different (not less) approach brought about a new tradition that left everyone filled with hope, love and joy.  I pray you all find you own, unique way of celebrating this holiday season, which will fill your children and families with beautiful, lasting memories.

If you are struggling, as we are, to create a sensory friendly holiday season for your family, please read these two fabulous blog posts. Although I am still not sure what our plan is, these extraordinary people helped me see things in a more positive and hopeful light.

Sensory Friendly Christmas by Lost and Tired

A Secret to Help Your ASD Child Minimize Meltdowns During the Holidays by Connie at Parent Coaching for Autism

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Next Step Part One

My first writing project, ABC’s Autism Style, is only 6 blog entries away from being completed. My goal is to have it done by Thanksgiving. Although, you just never know what life has in plan for me, but I know that I will finish it when I am meant to finish it, and not a day sooner.

I am already thinking about the next project, which will begin in 2013, but have not quite decided on the exact format yet. The one thing I know is that I want it to be about more than just Our journey,  I want to take more of a community approach to this next project. In order to do my vision justice, this project will need research, and input from all of you.

With that being, I am posting my first of four surveys. I am hoping to collect responses to each survey over a three week period, and then post the next survey within a week. My goal is to have all four surveys completed by the end of the year. If you would be willing to take the survey and help a girl out with her dream, please click on the link below. If you have any questions, or would like to share something outside of the survey with me, please email me at Jest_Tu_Positive@yahoo.com. Thank you in advance for helping me make this next venture in Hope, Love, and Faith even more Sensational and Au-Some.

This first survey is about YOU, because you are special, unique and have so much to offer the world. I want to learn about you as a person, before we move onto family, children and community. If you can spare a few minutes, please take the time to complete this 10 question survey, with as much or as little detail as you choose. I look forward to reading all the responses. Have a blessed day.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HJXKSMQ

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Round-Up Day

Today was what our school district calls “Bus Round-Up Day.” Since we started school in the middle of the year last year, we missed all the fun beginning of school activities. I was pretty excited to see what it was all about. So I went to school with Beth, for 1.5hours today; I even got to ride on the bus and everything.

Beth was tired and grumpy this morning but as soon as Daddy told her she was going to school, she perked right up and was running around saying: “Where’s the pack?” She was so excited when she saw the bus coming, and was all smiles for her bus driver. We got on the bus and Beth seemed less than thrilled that I was in “her” place. After a few minutes she warmed up to the idea and was telling me about things she saw out the window. When we got to school she followed Ms. M’s directions briefly, and then ran past everyone to her classroom. At this point I pretty much ceased to exist. She said a brief Hi (of sorts) to her teacher as she hung up her backpack, then raced into the classroom to explore. There was only one other student that came today, but that was okay with her, since they were visiting the “Blended” class on/off throughout the morning.

I was able to speak to her teacher and the classroom aide about current issues Beth is experiencing. Fortunately they were her staff during ESY, so they were familiar with her and aware of some of the current struggles. I went over what we feel are Our strengths, and Our areas that need improvement. The new Speech Pathologist came in to introduce herself and chat a bit. She even asked about our private therapists and how to contact them, I was impressed. The teacher then shared with us some changes in the ECE program this year; basically they are attempting to restructure this class into more of a transition class for children, so they can move to “Blended” classrooms with as much ease as possible. They are also coordinating more with the Kindergarten teachers to make sure they are properly preparing the kids to be successful in that environment, when the time comes.

Since we had declined placement in the “Blended” classroom for this school year, Ms. B was apprehensive that we would not be happy with the changes to the curriculum. I must admit that I am a bit leery, because I suspect some the kids from the “Blended” program that were in Beth’s ESY class were not being nice to her. I am not sure if it was bullying or just kids being kids, but there was a drastic change in her demeanor and we are still working on some major aggression issues. As scary as change can be in Our world, I also think that it necessary to progress; so we will keep an open mind and also keep a close eye on behavior issues as the school year goes forward. This new structure has the potential to be a growth experience for Beth and will help her deal with a larger classroom. We feel that it will also help us to achieve our goal of her being in a General Education classroom for Kindergarten in the 2014-2015 school year.

The majority of the week, Beth will be in her classroom with her other 3 – 4 peers, teacher, aide, and various therapists (they do their supportive services in the classroom). Then twice a week they will spend half of their morning with the “Blended” class, so they can adjust to the larger (16-20 kids) class size and interact on a consistent basis with more of their “typical” peers. The students will also be journaling on a daily basis, where they will draw a picture of their day, and staff will write in a description for them. Since many of the students, including Beth,  cannot tell their parents how their day was, they hope this will help open more lines of communication between school and home and encourage the kids to “talk” more about their day at school with their caregivers.

In pure Casablanca style, I must say: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” We will provide Ms. B with a list of items we are working on at home, and they will attempt to work them into her day at school to assist in strengthening her skills in those areas. In turn, they will keep us informed regarding what they are working on in school, so we can also concentrate on those areas at home. I am very excited and hopeful for the coming school year. I feel that if we build the proper working relationship and maintain consistent, honest communication it will be an Au-Some year for everyone. Wishing every family and their amazing children a successful 2012-2013 school year, may Our children all shine like the unique, bright stars they are!

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Happy Father’s Day

Many times it appears that the “Dads” of the world do not receive the proper recognition they deserve for all that they do for their families. To celebrate all the wonderful and amazing “Dads” in the world, a poem of thanks for all the MEN who shape a child’s life. Father, Step-Father, Guardian, Grandfather, God-Father, Uncle, Brother, Cousin, Friend, etc… As we go through life we may hold many titles, but the children who we have touched do not care what we are called; they only know that they are loved by us, and they are our sunshine! Happy Father’s Day to all the Angels in the world who love and guide us!!!

Unfortunately, I am not very good at poetry; however, I did find a poem that encompasses the sentiment, which I feel Father’s Day is all about. I could not possibly say it any better, so I am sharing a poem by Helen Steiner Rice, which I found at: http://www.fathersdaycelebration.com/fathers-day-poems.html#fathers-are-wonderful

Fathers are Wonderful People
by Helen Steiner Rice

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…

And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…

But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…

But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…

And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE.

 

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