5 games to play while waiting

It’s summertime! Officially.

Many parents are spending more time with their kiddos now that school’s out, and a lot of it is spent waiting in public places like the dentist’s office or lines at an amusement park. file0001602761539

I found myself waiting in lines and waiting rooms more frequently with my children, too, and I thought I should share some of the non-electronic ways we spend our time waiting.

Here are 5 ways we play

  1. Questioning/I’m thinking games
    • For younger kids (toddlers, preschoolers, K-1):
      • I’m thinking of... an animal, a vehicle, a shape, a number between…, color, toy, songs, tv shows, family member, piece of furniture, plant, food, etc. There are many categories you can choose from.
      • 20 Questions: same concept as I’m thinking, but you limit the number of questions a kiddo can answer
    • For older kids (2-12 grade):
      1. 20 questions: same concept as I’m thinking.
      2. I’m thinking of... Use concepts your child has learned the past year in school. Example categories are: 3-D shapes, songs, planets, states, presidents, math facts (eg. a multiplication fact that equals 24), noun, verb, adjective, adverb (with these you could give a specific clue such as the letter it begins with); history facts, current event, geography facts, etc.
  2. Math Challenges:
    • For younger kids:
      • Find objects near you that are specific shapes, have a certain number of sides3d5e25e275bdb5c38c8f1d11bafa6575
      • Find numbers (number identification),
      • Find objects that are certain colors, etc.
      • For children beginning to add and subtract, find two numbers and perform either math operation
    • For older kids:
      • Answer multiplication, division, or fraction math problems (if you have your phone or a watch, you can add timing them to answer or recite math facts in a minute or less)
      • Locating objects of certain 3-d shapes, sides, etc.
      • If you are at a store, grab their weekly ad and practice money math
  3. Word/Language challenges:
    • Younger kids:
      • Find objects that begin with the letter…, What letter does a … begin/end with?
      • Find objects or think of objects that begin/end with the blend…(st, str, gr, –st, –sk, –sp, –nd, –nt, –nk, –mp, –rd, –ld, –lp, –rk, –lt, –lf, –pt, –ft, –ct.)
      • Name as many items for a category  (Use the categories listed above with the I spy/I’m thinking games. Such as animals that live in the ocean, shapes, etc.)
    • Older kids:
      • Think of or find around you an example of: homophones, antonyms, synonyms, alliteration, etc.
      • Have a classic spelling bee
      • Name three nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc. that begin with the letter…
      • Name as many items for a category (things you pack for vacation, book titles, MLB baseball teams, sports you play with …, etc.)
  4. Storytelling (This is my favorite. Our family will often do this at tuck-in time)
    • Younger kids:
      • Begin telling a well-known story, then the next person has to change the next part but continue using the same characters
      • Make up a story. Each person takes a turn adding a sentence. (Some examples of story starters: Once upon a time in a world in space; Joey was on his way to…when all of a sudden a …. appeared out of nowhere; When Sarah woke up, she wasn’t in her bed anymore she was… You get the idea)
    • Older  kids:
      • Each person picks one of the elements of a story (ie, setting, characters, conflict, etc.) Then each person takes turns adding a sentence.
      • Make up a story together where each person only says one word on his/her turn.
  • MadLibs **This is the one time I take liberty with the screen/electronic thing. As a parent, I hold the device downloaded with the MadLib App.** Or you can still buy the books on Amazon, the Scholastic website, school book fair (awesome way to support education, too), or the next time your kiddo brings home a Scholastic order form and keep them in your purse or diaper bag.
    1. Younger kids: For the younger kids, when they don’t know the meaning of noun, adjective, etc. I just tell them a person, place or thing and may need to provide an example.
    2. Older kids: It’s great practice to work on remembering what nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc. are. We also make it more challenging by saying every word we fill in for the story must begin or end with a certain letter (the only place this doesn’t work is when it asks for a verb ending in -ing).

The other important caveats of these waiting games are how to win and the prize. Kids love competition, so being the person who answers more correctly may be enough incentive. In our family, we also may put a cap on how many answers to win (first person to find 5 or answer 5 correctly). What does the winner receive besides bragging rights? Sometimes it’s a mint from mom’s purse or a sticker from the sheet of stickers in my wallet. Younger children may also like earning a penny or nickel. For older kids it could determine who gets to sit in the front on the way home, pick the music on the radio, or what you’re having for dinner/dessert. If you’re still waiting when the game ends, the winner can determine the next game to be played.

Do you have other ways you’ve entertained your kids in public and/or while waiting? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Dad Heart

Hi! Happy Father’s Day! I hope you’re enjoying it.

chrisaarondad

This is a picture of the three “men” in my life who make Father’s Day wonderful.

While it’s a day to celebrate my husband and my dad for their unconditional love, sacrifice, strength, and care, it’s a day for all to reflect on creation and the creator. We see His heart with His unrelenting love for us when as a parent He gave the ultimate sacrifice. He let His son go for a big purpose. If you are a parent, you know the anguish of letting go. Sometimes letting go is gradual. Sometimes its sudden.

Even if you still have young children, you’ve let go of them as they have learned to walk, started to dress themselves, gotten on the bus for the first time to go to school, etc. I am so grateful for a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God and for his letting go.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us….

(Ephesians 1:3-5)

Then, also, we are chosen as His children; heirs to all the blessing.

He models and expresses how we love as parents and and how parents ought to love.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!”

(1 John 3:1)

Whether you have a father here on earth to celebrate with or not, you can celebrate the Creator’s unusual, unrelenting, all-in love for us and His creation.

For your perusal, I’ve included something sappy, something creative and something fun for your Father’s Day enjoyment.

Something sappy: A poem I wrote to my husband:

Your Love Comes Just In Time

Your love comes just in time

Silently tears drop like heavy morning dew from petals.

Your love unconditions my sense, all logic

Erasing all thoughts, burdens, tasks

Your love was always there

Unfaltering like the sureness of the earth under my feet.

Your love always will be

Rushing and wrapping and cocooning me.

 

Something Creative: A word cloud. (This is fun app where you put in a bunch of words and it will mix them together into a shape.)

fathersdaywordcloud

Something fun: A video by Principal Gerry Brooks…I don’t think you have to be a teacher to appreciate it. There might be a dad out there who needs to know his gift of socks, underwear and ties isn’t the worst he could have gotten.

 

 

 

Autism and Non-family Socialization

Social awkwardness and me go hand in hand;  which has its share of cons and pros for my kid. It’s been 4 years since my kid has been invited to a birthday party outside of any  for family members. Four short years; they have been agonizingly lonely and sad for me and a bit for her.  I have prayed fervently for a best friend for her. For community for her. For fellowship with her peers. I fought the public realm a bit, but tried to make them accept and facilitate social skills and community.

It didn’t happen. It was not a situation or battle we felt we were meant to fight at the expense of progress, growth, and security for our child.

Prayer and Thanksgiving.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thess. 5:16-18

It. Changes. Everything.

I am learning about fellowship this year. I’ve fought it. Hated the word even, because if you’re around Christians for any sort of time, it’s been a buzzword for the last decade or so. It’s been commercialized and sold as the part that’s been missing. The part that’s going to make Christianity whole. Make it perfect. (News bulletin: as long as we are on this side of glory and Christ’s return, his church will not be perfect)  Second Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When my close friend posed hosting a small group of people for fellowship and even called it (the) Fellowship, my stomach tensed and cringed. I have always felt awkward and like I never quite knew what my role was and is supposed to be…I’m broken. I’ve had a very blessed life, don’t misunderstand (I am an only child. My parents love me unconditionally. My parents sacrificed a lot and still do for my happiness…My list of blessings stretches much farther than my hurts.) But I still had some deep cuts…

My list of cuts (I love lists and post it notes to put them on):

being obese most of my life; Poland’s Syndrome; endometriosis; having your relationship with your step children undermined and severed for several years; loss of fertility; dealing with grief of going back to work when you thought you’d finally made it to stay at home and homeschool; a chronically ill husband; fighting his denied disability; breaking my pelvis on the first day back to school for teachers; being out of work for 3 months; receiving a diagnosis of severe osteoporosis at 35 years old; being unable walk/clean and play with my kids; on crutches for 10 months with no end in sight; going into my last doctor’s appointment thinking I would get a report of some healing on the 4 stress fractures, but instead learned I have a fifth; making medical decisions for myself and my spouse who continues to get sicker and lose weight (while I gained).

It doesn’t do much for identity and self-esteem (another bad word in the traditional Christian community that needs a whole other blog to discuss).

So fellowshipping and feeling like I fit in any small group seemed impossible, and how was I supposed to naturally facilitate that for my child? But whatever, I thought, this is us. This was my close friend, a best friend. We’ve been friends for over 20 years. He pretty much knows me as well as anyone. So I felt safe; safe enough to try it on, anyway.

Yeah…God designs us each unique for a specific purpose at exactly the right time in history.

Then I have Allyson who has the gift of hospitality and this crag sized desire to be with people, make others happy, and make sure others know how amazing and joyful living is…but who has autism and sensory needs. Yeah…God designs us each unique for a specific purpose at exactly the right time in history. So the thoughts run in my head, what will she be able to do? Will she need extra supports? It’s a pool party. She’s a good swimmer. But the last time she went to a bday party (that wasn’t for family) she asked to sharpen pencils the whole time. The mom knew her well and knew how to and when to include her.

But today, I wondered, what should I do? Do I get a present for her to take? What does this child need or want? Do you still buy presents in our culture of instant gratification? What is the going rate for a birthday present? What’s the protocol for hanging out when you don’t know the family well these days?

So I did what anyone with social media would do. I stalked…I mean vetted out the guest list by asking my daughter about the kids she was hoping to see and comparing the two lists.

(Hopefully I’m not the only mom out there who’s done this to protect their child who has been bullied and has special needs.)

And then I’ve never been good at knowing the social rules of the upper middle class, so how do I teach her the rules?

In the end, not only was the birthday girl a nice, good friend, but the two children she played with the most at recess where there, too.

The social, unspoken rules didn’t matter.

I believe prayer mattered. It prepared her’s and my hearts.

My lesson:

But what you’ve taught me is following societal norms and/or rules are not true fellowship.

Love is and when you come with love and joy, the rest doesn’t matter.

 

Body image and shaming

I don’t think it’s coincidental, that while sitting in church last Sunday, I was inundated with ideas about how to build up women in my community, whether that be face to face or in my writing. Body image and body shaming have been a bit topic this week. If you don’t know about the controversies over Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, you can check out this article.

One of the things I felt the Lord urging me to do is post video of myself and my journey of just being a girl. This is as much for others as myself. I struggle with body image. I struggle with feeling adequate at work. I struggle with knowing I’m doing the best job raising my kids. I struggle with trusting others. 

We have become so accustomed to and approving of the photoshopped and edited world that people are commodities and objects, void of soul and spirit. We think that posting and talking about only what “perfection” is and that it is actually attainable is normal and healthy.  We are making ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritilually ill. 

Ladies, it’s time to take back the world and build rather than break.

Here’s the real deal on a Friday morning with no editing or photoshopping or filters.

Hoping my journey through being a lady, navigating the new world of technology helps others. #BodyLoving #gifted #TruthAboutWhoIAm
12 prayers for body image 

scriptures about body image

To my bff and person

We rarely get more than fifteen minutes to spend as friends…playing a game, watching TV, gardening, or playing music together. 

There has been an interruption or distraction of children or social media. But since Chris’s last hospitalization, our life has become more intentional on how we spend our time. 

Chris this is for you, and the changes you’ve made since being hospitalized after your surgery. 

Thanks for taking a chance on a movie (made from a book) I wanted to watch. 

Tonight was a rare treat for me.

Thank you for helping me transplant the house plants….again…

Thank you for understanding my craziness to try and complete the project outside before the storm blew through this morning. 

Me and my person. (Who happens to be my bff and husband). I’m lucky to have you, Chris!
***There is no big lesson, profound teaching. Just the simple thanks I needed to give publically to my husband. (and maybe you’ll see the ease of seizing the day. 

Living Resurrection Hope

There was little time for the weekly stand-around-and-chat session after church. It was Easter service and the children’s pastor had planned and epic Easter Egg hunt between services. Every child at service got a bag of candy, too. She picked out each piece carefully, so she knew she could eat it with her braces. She picked out others specific to what she knew her family liked to eat.  As soon as she saw her step-brother, she forgot about herself and gave him the whole bag.

And then time came for the hunt at Cornerstone…Pastor Joe counted down.

5 minutes

3 minutes

1 minute

20170416_103336_HDRShe’s there in pink, orange, blue, neon yellow dress, complete with pigtails and her Tinkerbell Easter basket.

The children lined up across the field. Their weight of anticipation bent the marking tape protecting the egg field. The children ages from just barely walking to 12-years-old waited, plotted and planned their attack routes. Allyson sought out the golden egg. She’d seen the prizes–one was the exact same bowling set her brother had looked at Saturday at Mardel’s and wanted for our family.

She had the determination to get the 20170416_103443_HDRgolden egg and win a prize.
And she did.

She got the egg; she picked the bowling set.

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10

The hunt was over, prize won, and we loaded up with their overflowing baskets of plastic orbs. We followed our scheduled activities: having a meal together, playing at the park, and feeding the ducks and the geese.

kids geese park

But something was upsetting her. It seemed we were always walking on egg shells, it was the attitude and arguing taking over our lives again.

Every single one of the 100 eggs she and her brother gathered had candy she couldn’t eat with her braces.  She keeps them in–her emotions and anxieties. The despair over having given up the only candy she could have is held inside by our 10-year-old. And watching her brothers eat a couple of pieces of the sticky stuff, built up. When we got home, it happened.  We had already expressed in many ways she could have candy when we arrived home. It would be hard for any kiddo. She had waited all afternoon, but she couldn’t wait any longer.

She sneaked an Easter egg from the hunt (filled with the candy she couldn’t have) into her room and got caught.  Then she lied about it.

Melting down ensued. Crying, screaming, huge tears. But she couldn’t articulate, she couldn’t pinpoint the emotion to express. She cannot pinpoint the way to react and ask for help. We’ve been working on not lying and what it means to deceive. But the biggest and most important hurdle is discovering the heart attitude motivating the behavior.

It took chipping away at the small things to get to the heart (excuse the pun) of what made her lie and deceive. What was making her believe she wasn’t lying and deceiving us? (This is incredibly difficult, time consuming, life consuming in the moment when you have a child who has language concerns.) It was worth it. It was worth every loud, sad, angry, frustrating, curious second to find out what was motivating her behavior and what had made her grouchy for much of our afternoon out.

In her sacrificial love for her older brother and family, she had given much for a 10-year-old and was disappointed to find that the candy she had kept from her Easter eggs was 100% off limits for a girl with braces. She felt anger, regret, sadness, conflict, because in her heart she knew what she did was kind, true and loving.

She modeled the love of our God who gave his ONLY son (mamas who have dealt with the loss of a child or fertility know the weightiness of the word, only). Sacrificial, true love. She displayed love that doesn’t see the flaws of a fallen world, but sees the object of its affection as whole, pure, and desirable. Just like God. Just like Jesus.

Thank you, Allyson for modeling sacrifice and resurrection today and every day. We love you.

“And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2

 

 

Autism Matters: Hear Me

*Disclaimer: This is an emotional post for me and many whose path it may cross. My intention is that it is authentic; let’s be real in our discourse, yet sensitive. Secondly, I am not writing and linking to the post from Today to invite a discussion or debate about genetics versus environmental causal debate.*WAAD

 

 
I love many individuals with autism and each person has helped me grow, find joy, and love without boundaries. The why or even the what doesn’t matter. People are special and have value for who they are. #lovewhatmatters

This particular day was rough. It seems as though I’ve been losing control of everything—being challenged to relinquish control of plans and ideas and perceptions and paradigm. I am overwhelmed at work; it’s the busy season of last minute meetings, teaching the final parts of your curriculum, testing prep, enrollment for classes for next school year, etc.

But this week was rough all over like one of those nubby, rubber bouncing balls that really doesn’t go with any sport, it’s  just a novelty.

So today…today I was reminded why I write.

My daughter has special needs. I could list all the diagnoses; they’re not her identity. But today I was overwhelmed everywhere, feeling like a boat taking on water. She needs me. She needs me. She needs me to make visuals, to be her voice when she cannot find her’s or when her behaviors are her voice (the normal and the quirky).

When I arrived to pick her up, I misunderstood her abnormal behavior that usually communicated she wasn’t ready to leave Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. I was in full on mom’s-gonna-need-a-cry time. We made it home and I hid in the bathroom (if you’re a mom, you understand.) And then this Today article written by Carrie Carriello was in my FB newsfeed. And what I’d been praying for—a friend who understands-really understand—was answered. Here is a mam

aLLYSON SOCCERa who could relate, sympathize, not just empathize, with my life and my inner thoughts.

“I am a much different mother than I expected to be,” she writes.

I cried. I was hit with the emotions of what it means when someone writes what you feel, what you know, but think no one else sees. Someone else deals with the tens of thousands of questions a day about the same thing. Someone else has the temptation to ask, “why”. Ours is not the story of genes and whose side it came from, but our why is: “After the heartache of infertility from painful endometriosis and the year-and-a-half fight to adopt our daughter, why autism, anxiety, ADHD, and sensory processing problems?”

When we write, when we are real it helps others. It was good today to have someone else tell me she does the same things with her child. She has the same thoughts as a mama struggling to do her best and demonstrate patience when answering the same questions day in and day out. Even though there’s routine, even though there are schedules written down and visuals for her routines, sometimes it’s not enough. And then there was this that opened the faucet of tears, again:

“Underneath it all — the tantrums about a missing pillow and the small orange vial with the little white pills and hundreds of questions about the schedule, I know he’s trying to tell me something else entirely.  Make room for me. I am here.” (Carrie Carriello, I Know Why He Has Autism)

I know my daughter’s telling me something when she can only speak with one word, when she throws her body into me or the seat of the car—See me.

 

 

 

My Blue Light Bulb

I’m gonna be honest. Okay, I usually am, but maybe the better word is transparent. Autism is messy. Autism is different every day, and many times it is different every minute of every day. Today after church, our youngest daughter couldn’t hold it together any longer. Whatever it was that she was feeling, whatever it was that sent her over the edge (ie the last straw), I’m not sure, and it doesn’t really matter. She’s processed, coped and moved on. Our community of faith got to see what a meltdown looks like for our 10-year-old daughter who happens to have autism, ADHD, and generalized anxiety disorder. The meltdowns are few compared to the number many parents of children on the spectrum face. But the irony was not lost on myself or my husband as today is Worldwide Autism Awareness Day. 

We typically settle into a quiet, creative afternoon on Sundays. We rest. We reconnect with each other after going to school, work, and doing chores the rest of the week. I’m sure, like many of you, I settled in to browse the many social media outlets programmed on my phone. I light it up blue (Autism Speaks awareness campaign). I don my puzzle pieces at home and at work. Our family is fully aware of the many controversies and debates surrounding autism, “treatments”,  its support groups, and the different causes.light it up blue 2017

But, I don’t really think twice about lighting it up blue, so some of the things in my social media feeds coming across today were shocking. I appreciate another’s perspective on things, but do we really need more causes/opinions to offend us and divide us, though?  Aren’t we missing the bigger picture? 

Our family has lived hidden in many ways. We have protected our daughters from the judgement, the eyes, and the need to conform to certain societal institutions. It’s affected our marriage. We’ve never had a consistent date night. A date night for us is maybe grabbing five or ten minutes early in the morning while the coffee pot percolates or hanging out by the washer and dryer as we do laundry. Finding a sitter is hard. Trusting the sitter is even harder. So for twelve years, we’ve lived hidden. We’ve lived shortened. You arrive on time to events, but leave early. When your daughter is 10, you’re still carrying a “diaper bag” with a weighted blanket, fidgets, snacks, essential oils, and lotions. And don’t forget your alternative method of communication, because even if your child speaks, there are always moments when they need another way to communicate. 

Yes I’ll wear blue (for autism and my KC Royals), because I support the autism community and want you to ask questions. Yes, I changed my light bulbs outside to blue and hope it ignites an open dialogue with my neighbors about the realities of autism, being a parent, and a special education teacher. 

So why #lightitupblue and have an #autismawareness day?

“…no matter how your molecules are knit together in the spectrum of quiet to loud, bold to subversive, and so on, you’re commissioned and permissioned to arrive at life as your own weird and wonderful self,” Erika Morrison, Bandersnatch.

Because it’s about 3 things. 

  1. Be aware. Not just for autism, but for the differences we all possess. 
  2. Educate yourself. After awareness, we can start to educate ourselves and our community
  3. Accept. We all want to be accepted by someone. Eventually, I hope, we accept each other for our differences and similarities, then we will be able to create a community of support and love. 

Because at the end of it all, I want to be known as someone who loved well. 

My youngest blue light. clone tag: 5922361547406362737