Green Mason Jars & Father’s Day

Several years ago I was having a really bad day…woke up with a migraine, was tired, grumpy and stressed. Mark suggested I go and get a massage. I happily agreed. I find massage is a real help for my migraines…Mark drove me to the massage therapist and dropped me off. While I was getting a massage he decided to go run some errands. An hour later, he picked me up, after he asked me how I felt, he handed me a box. I opened it and to my delightful surprise was a set of green mason jars. To most this doesn’t seem like that awesome of a gift, but to me it was. I love mason jars and had told him how pretty I thought the green mason jars were. I was so excited he bought me them. You see it was the fact he listens, and no matter how small the gesture, he makes my world better. His ability to make me smile and laugh is awesome. They say to truly enjoy life, you need to truly enjoy the little things. I believe this and have really come to realize this even more since becoming the parent of an autistic teen. Mark has a lot of patience, and is a very calm person. This is very helpful having 4 kids, with one being autistic, I am used to a lot swirling around me.

Mark brings calmness, happiness and love to me and my kids. He is beyond an awesome stepdad. It’s so touching to me how much all 4 of my kids love him. I look at his relationship with Peyton and I can’t express how thankful I am he is in his life. He teaches Peyton not only with his words, but with his actions. He explains things to Peyton in a manner that Peyton not only understands, but he also teaches Peyton. I tell Mark almost daily one of the things I love best about him is how much he makes me laugh. The truth is though, it’s not only how much he makes me laugh, but how much he makes my kids laugh, especially Peyton. Mark likes to tease and banter,but he does it in a sweet and caring way. Peyton enjoys his funny quips and it really warms my heart to see Peyton laugh. Mark is an awesome cook as well and one of his specialities is pizza, which just also happens to be Peyton’s favorite food! I love seeing Peyton light up when he sees Mark is going to be making Pizza. I also enjoy sending pictures of his kolaches, pizza, brisket, cinnamon rolls etc… To my older kids as they too can’t get enough of his cooking! 

Tonight Mark made calzones and pizza, both were awesome! I used my green mason jar as my water glass, as I often do. I couldn’t help but think as I watched Peyton light up that Mark was making his favorite food, and I was using my green jar…..just how lucky we are to have such an awesome man in our lives. So if it truly is the little things in life that make you happiest, I am ecstatic . Mark’s  everyday acts of kindness and love don’t go unnoticed. So as I write this and drink my water from my green jar, I hope Mark knows just how much we all love him, and how saying Happy Father’s Day may just be a small thing..but it’s filled with lots of love and just like my green jars..it may be a small gesture,but it means the world to be able to say “Happy FATHER’s Day” to him.

 

 

Summer Fun and Educational at the Same Time!

(With special thanks to Education.com)

Getting Stressed trying to figure out how to keep your kids occupied this summer? I will be putting out a few blogs over the summer with some awesome ideas. Yes, there are ways to have fun and learn all at the same time!

I have been a fan of education.com for years, I love their worksheets and have used it in my homeschooling. This website is great for homeschoolers, as well as a supplement for schoolwork. Here is an example of the type of items on their website. While this is for 4-6 year olds it can also be used for special-needs children of all ages. I love the versatility of these types of activities. Doing educational projects with Peyton is fun and lowers his stress level, all while he is learning. I really love this project as it incorporates math and art. Teaching creative ways to learn math, works very well with Peyton. This is a great example of helping turn autism into Awesomism!

Note: Some great worksheets for the following exercise can be found at https://www.education.com/resources/geometry/

 

Shape Art: Mix Art with Geometry!
Does the idea of taking your child to a museum sound daunting? Is the local art mecca too far away, or not too keen on pint-sized patrons? Create your own museum! Not only will your child get a chance to look at some pretty amazing art, you can teach some important concepts about shapes in the bargain.

If you’ve got a kindergartener, it’s likely that he can already recognize the basic shapes. But can he identify them by their attributes? Does he know that a triangle has three sides, or that a square is a square (not a rectangle) because it has four sides that are all the same length? Getting comfortable with the shapes and their attributes is a founding concept for understanding more abstract geometry later on. Here’s a fun way to sneak in some geometry, in an artistic way.

What You Need:

A computer
Paper
Water colors
Black permanent marker
What You Do:

Prepare Ahead of Time. You’ll need to do a little research before you invite your child to the “museum”. Take a trip to the library, or look up a few artists online. Whichever method you choose, print out some color copies of their work, or purchase a few posters or art postcards. Unsure which artists to choose? Kandinsky, Miro, and Calder all exhibit excellent use of shapes in their art. Once you have your pictures, find a blank wall and hang them up exhibit style, (at a kindergartener appropriate height!) Then issue an invitation to visit the museum.
Celebrate Museum Day. Tour your child through your museum. As you look at the pictures, ask questions like, “What shapes do you notice in the art?” Let her use her finger to outline circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, maybe even a hexagon or two. Talk about what makes a triangle a triangle, and what makes a square a square, as opposed to a rectangle. Point out some shapes that she may be unfamiliar with, like ovals, or octagons, being sure to give her some visual clues to make memory easier, like the fact that eggs are the shape of ovals, and stop signs are the shape of octagons. You can hop online for some more information about the artists, or more examples of their work.
Make Your Child the Artist. After your field trip, give your child the chance to make some art of her own. First, have her describe the attributes of a shape. As she describes it, draw it for her on construction paper, using a thick black permanent marker. Create at least three shapes. Then give your child a set of watercolors and set her to work. The thin paint will look beautiful against the contrast of the bold black shapes. The end result? A beautiful piece of art for your refrigerator and a deeper understanding of geometric shapes.

New Book Available on Amazon Now!

Happy Mothers Day! Besides my special Mothers Day blog below…I am very excited and proud to announce our new book is available on Amazon today! Only $9.99 plus s&h.

Our First Book Is now available on Amazon

A Proud Profession

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a Mom…I remember when I was younger I wanted to have 6 kids, I came close, I had 4. I love the saying “Mothering is a proud profession”.  I love being a Mom, my kids have taught me so much and continue to do so. I remember when my oldest was born, thinking that I couldn’t love anyone more than I loved him. As each child was born, I felt exactly the same way, my love and devotion was there with each child. When Peyton, my youngest was born, my emotions were even stronger, including feeling a strong sense of protection as well. I could also tell that something was different. I couldn’t place my finger on what was different, but I felt it instinctually. His birth was a hard one, but so were my other kids. Peyton seemed to struggle with things that my other three kids did naturally. He never seemed to react to my smiles and one-on-one time, as my other kids had done. He never wanted to sleep in his crib, rather, he only wanted to sit in a swing and sleep. I noticed other differences with him too, but wasn’t sure exactly what they meant. When Peyton was diagnosed with Autism, all the pieces fell into place. My “momma bear” personality kicked into overdrive as well. Everyone who knows me, knows how deeply and unconditionally I love all my kids.  

I have watched Peyton struggle and at times my heart has hurt for him beyond words. He is such a sweet young man and his sweetness is what everyone notices when they first meet him. When other kids his age were talking, he wasn’t, and I would see the hurt and struggle in his eyes. He would get frustrated when he did speak as he couldn’t convey what he wanted to say. I remember when he would say his prayers every night and always end his prayer with “please help me talk better”. No matter how many times I heard him say it, I always teared up. Being a Mom I wanted to wave a magic wand and help him, of course I knew that wasn’t reality. Instead, myself and my three older kids spent countless hours helping Peyton, we bonded together and knew our common goal was, and is to be his support system. Peyton’s struggles became our struggles, we took on each one and united to help him overcome each bump in the road. Peyton showed strength taking on everyday issues that each of us so often take for granted. I tried to balance my wanting to fix everything for him, versus knowing he needed to learn on his own. While the struggles were real, so too were the successes. They may have come at a different timeline and effort level than my other kids, they were no less awesome. As his mom, I swelled up with pride as he accomplished each and every hurdle life has thrown at him.

Peyton is 17, soon to be 18, and I know he has many struggles still to come in his life. I also know this… he is an awesome young man and he wants to succeed in life. His idea of success may not be that of what others define as success, but that’s just fine with me. I have seen my older three kids show Peyton, patience, understanding and most of all, unconditional love. I have seen them defend him and others with Autism, without hesitation. My daughter worked at a law firm in which one of the attorneys was autistic. She not only befriended him, but helped others understand him better. This led to friendships and a better work environment for all. She has also defended autistic adults at other places she worked, when they were bullied. My third child works at an animal shelter and has experiences where he has helped volunteers who are autistic. This has helped with lowering the stress level for all involved. I could see how most employers could benefit from having some type of autism advocate in their workplace. As the mother of an autistic child, their future happiness and security is what concerns me most. Seeing my older children take their empathy for Peyton and show it to others with Autism, these actions makes the “momma bear” so proud. I love my kids and am proud of each of them no matter what they do in their lives, because at the end of the day they have each learned the most important lesson….how to love others unconditionally and without boundaries. I often worried that having me being so focused on Peyton would make them feel left out, or angry that we couldn’t do some of the things other kids were doing. I was a single mom for many years and my older kids had to “step up” and take on responsibilities that many their age didn’t. I now see that those worries were unfounded. They have each grown into caring and responsible adults, Being their mom certainly merits the saying “Mothering is a proud profession”

Light a candle

“Rather light a candle than complain about darkness”  Chinese Proverb

 

Mark won a gift card to Barnes and Noble and we weren’t really sure what we wanted to  buy with it, so we decided to just go relax and look. After getting a cup of coffee, we decided to walk the whole store and see what we could find. We found an awesome adult color by number book for Peyton. He is really into doing stop motion videos, and wants to learn how to use color better etc….plus coloring is calming for him. Mark suggested I get a journal. I am a journal fanatic, I love to write down everything in journals. It helps me not only remember things, and be more organized, but it has a calming effect for me as well. I ended up finding an awesome journal that promotes inspiration. I love being creative and recently have started doing inspirational pictures. This journal is the perfect item for me to get inspired on those days I just don’t feel like doing anything, as well as write down thoughts, ideas etc….  

Peyton shows a lot of interest in trying creative projects…I love this. We encourage him to be creative… I firmly believe it is helping him find himself, be more confident and relaxes him. He seems to have a good eye for color and now we are working on other aspects, such as depth, shadows, how to add music etc….he has taken some awesome classes on LinkedIn…yes he is even on LinkedIn! We are really trying to encourage him to find things he loves doing as well as is good at. It’s easy to find someone’s “weaknesses”, and too many dwell on what their autistic kids can’t do….we are trying to find Peyton’s strengths and encourage him to direct his energy to them. He loves making stop motion videos and we encourage him to. Anything we can do to help him excel at something, we do. Peyton is almost 18 and a new set of challenges are approaching for him. I truly stress about we will be facing as he becomes an adult. I also know that I can only help prepare him just so much. Peyton is aware that there are many changes coming , as he becomes an adult. He and I have discussed some of the types of “changes” he will be facing . He also has the advantage and disadvantage of having older siblings and he has seen them grow up. He does realize that some of the changes they experienced, he may not. Such as moving out, having a career etc… It hurts my heart that he won’t be able to do many of the things his older siblings do. He is such a sweet kid and I know he wants to “have a life” when he gets older. For now I know we have to take each day at a time and focus on the positives, not the negatives. We will have “dark days” ahead but as long as we continue to focus on the brightness of the day, not the darkness, we will be fine.