Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Best Crayons for Hot Summer Weather

On a family vacation to Valley Forge and Philadelphia, my parents, sister and I toured Betsy Ross’s house, saw the Liberty Bell and picnicked on the site of the Revolutionary War soldiers’ camp.

It was an exciting vacation, but the drive was well over three hours. To keep us entertained, we took crayons and a coloring book.

Unfortunately, it was so hot in the car that our crayons melted all over the rear window dash!

Don’t let that happen to you this summer! Take crayons that won’t melt inside a hot car.

crayon meltThe winning crayons (i.e. the brand that melts the slowest in hot temperatures) is Cra-Z-Art from Walmart. The loser is Scholastic.

It’s okay, though, if you don’t want to buy new crayons. Simply pack your crayons in a plastic bag and place them in thermal bag with an ice pack or frozen water bottle. They’ll stay nice and cool and will be ready to color when your kids need a playtime activity in the car on hot summer days.

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Disaster Falls: a review

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What a touching book about love and loss. I couldn’t put this book down! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I constantly felt ready to cry, hoping I never experience the same situation!

During a family vacation, the Gerson family loses their son Owen while white water rafting at Disaster Falls. Father Stephane spends the next months writing all hours of the day and night because he had “no words.” Meanwhile, Owen’s mother coped with the loss by moving constantly, expending the energy she would have put into parenting her son. Owen’s brother Julian sometimes made demeaning comments about Owen to preserve his authentic self instead of seeing him as a hero.

This book touched me as a mother. I cannot and do not want to imagine the pain of losing a child! But if I did, I would write about it, too.

Here are the most touching thoughts from the book.

When he was still alive, Owen thought his dad was a wuss because he was scared. Stephane wondered if an 8-year-old can understand the dangers of the world. “Can they grasp the burden of responsibility? Someone has to look after kids. Someone, I told myself, had to be scared a lot.””

Stephane questioned if he would have made a different decision on the rapids if he had learned as a child to trust his instinct, asset himself and say no when necessary. I question the same for myself and am doing the hard work of finding my voice so I can speak out when necessary.

 

he family vowed to stick together no matter what. Would we have strength to do the same? It’s too easy to blame, withdraw and handle grief alone rather than reaching out to your loved ones.

 

While listing likes and dislikes about Owen, Stephane sometimes learned toward strife because it is easier to mourn a difficult or tortured child than one who enjoyed all facets of life. I can totally understand this! We need to make sense of loss, even if we use irrational or false means.

 

The sadness kept surfacing without warning, but the sorrow evolved, the pain morphed and the body adapted. A grieving parent has the right to curl up and cry but cannot allow the grief to consume you. How would I do this?

While the last part of the book was a bit tedious with details of a lawsuit, I highly recommend this book and would definitely read it again.

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Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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When Your Child Hurts

My daughter loves our local community theater group. It’s designed for kids from grades four to 12, and everyone, no matter how well they sing and dance, gets a part.

For the past two years, my daughter played a part in the chorus. She sings, dances and in general has fun on stage. This year, she was hoping for a speaking part and even joined the school chorus so she could become a better singer.

Since November, she’s talked about rehearsing for the audition, which involves singing a short song and sharing a monologue. Unfortunately, auditions yesterday did not go well.

Today, she found out that she’s a villager once again.

As soon as she discovered her role, her face fell. I saw the disappointment on her face, and she quickly excused herself to go to bed.

Before she retreated to her room, I hugged her goodnight and told her she’ll make an amazing villager. I felt her body tense and heard her softly start to cry. My heart broke as I held her.

What could I say to ease her pain?

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I silently prayed and then told my precious child that I am proud of her for auditioning – it’s a big deal to stand in front of three adults in a small room and sing and talk! I also told her that I’m excited to watch her and hope she can find joy in her role. Since she’s a villager, she’ll be in at least half of the scenes, and some of her friends are also villagers.

I’m not sure my words did much to make my darling feel better, but I pray she remembers her value. It’s not determined by the role she wins in a play! And I pray she continues to put her all into rehearsals and enjoy this year’s theater season.

I also pray that she turns to God for comfort. I can hold and encourage her, but I can’t heal the pain she feels. Only God can do that.

What about you? How do you comfort your kids when they hurt?

Prayer: “Father, please hold my child tonight. She’s hurting, and I’m hurting for her. I ask you to hold her close and remind her of your incredible love for her. Also, may she remember her worth. Thank you for entrusting her to me and for being her Father, and thank you for giving me wisdom!”

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DIY Made Easy

One of the bloggers I follow wrote an interesting post today. She introduced Kathy Ceceri, a DIY professional. Check out the post and learn about some fun, creative projects you can do with your kids!

I Want You To Meet Kathy Ceceri

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Who Are Your “Necessary People”?

In my inbox today, I found an interesting idea. Karen Ehman and her family surprised one of their family’s “necessary people” with a celebration.

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Her story made me consider the necessary people in my life. I would certainly include my spouse and kids, family and friends, but the list doesn’t stop there. Grocery store clerks, mail carriers, bank tellers, medical professionals, school teachers – they all are important.

So who are your necessary people? How will do you celebrate these important people? Let’s share ideas as we spread kindness and show others that we value them!

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When Frustrations Become Blessings

My son has autism and other issues, which means he takes several medications every day.

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His weekly pill organizer, my awesome hubby’s idea!

So far, we haven’t noticed negative side effects, but we’re always looking for natural products that address his challenges without harming his body or mind.

His autism med doctor recently suggested NAC (also known as N-acetylcysteine or N-acetyl-L-cysteine, a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine). NAC is a supplement that is shown to help kids with autism and includes no adverse side effects. Awesome!

There were only two problems – our pharmacy doesn’t carry it on the store shelves and insurance doesn’t cover it. In fact, since it’s a supplement, we don’t even get a prescription for it.

My pharmacy is pretty helpful and willingly ordered the pills the first time. And when I called last week for a refill, they said they’d order it again no problem. Except there was a problem. The pharmacy didn’t place the order. When I stopped by yesterday to pick up the pills, they told me they would not order it.

Now usually, I try to be nice. Honey gets more results than vinegar! But when it comes to my kids or my family, mama bear sometimes shows her claws. And I got a little huffy at the pharmacy yesterday when they said they wouldn’t order the pills my son needs. I clearly expressed my frustration that this supplement can help my son get off the other meds that could be harmful, and it’s frustrating that they won’t help.

I stewed on the frustration for almost an hour as I drove home, unloaded groceries from the car and prepped lunch. Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place. I prayed and asked God to show me what to do next. He prompted me to look up the medicine online, and guess what – I found it on Amazon where we can buy 250 pills for less than half of what the pharmacy charged for 90!

My frustration at the pharmacy was actually a blessing. Now, we can order the medicine a few days before we need it, have it delivered directly to our house and save money! I called the pharmacy, apologized for my attitude and told them that I found the medicine. They rejoiced with me.

What about you? What frustrations have you seen become blessings in your life? Despite the roadblock, you could see the negative turn into a positive! Share your story so we all can be encouraged to keep looking for the silver lining in all things!

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Photo credit: printsforartssake.com

For more information on NAC:

https://sfari.org/funding/grants/abstracts/efficacy-of-n-acetyl-cysteine-in-autism

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nac.html

 

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Teaching My Kids About Politics

y-and-recorded-message-from-donald-trumpGrowing up, politics was a big deal in my family. My dad never missed an opportunity to vote, even if he had to leave work early to make it to the polling place on time. Usually, he took me with him. I learned early that voting is our right and responsibility as American citizens.

That’s why turning 18 was a big deal for me! I could finally vote! What an honor and privilege! And when my study abroad semester found me living overseas during the 1996 election, I eagerly signed up to receive an absentee ballot (I still have the Egyptian newspaper that announced the winner!).

Fast forward to this year. I’m now a mom with two kids. They’re both in middle school and definitely opinionated about all kinds of topics like their favorite music, cars, food, beliefs and books, so it makes sense to include them in our political discussions.

Plus, hubby and I are both very into politics. Even though we don’t always agree, we do often watch political talk shows and the news together, and we regularly discuss current events. In fact, everyone knew well in advance that I would be taking over the remote when the conventions aired. They’re a highlight for me since I love the patriotic stories. (And I also hoped that this year’s conventions would help me decide who to vote for!)

We’re now less than two months away from the election. I’m still not totally convinced on which presidential candidate will get my vote, but my kids have their minds made up, and their arguments for their candidate are very logical and convincing. My son even likes to listen to the recorded political phone calls we receive.

I finally captured his joy tonight. He listened to the whole message from Donald Trump with a highly animated look on his face, and was so excited!

Because it was a big deal to him, I decided to post the picture on Facebook. Some of my friends shared his enthusiasm, others commented on how handsome he looks and one  lady blocked me.

I actually laughed when I saw that she blocked me, then I deleted her comment. And that led me to consider whether I was right to post something political on my page.

Generally, I avoid controversy. Life is hard enough without starting fights online! But I am proud of my kids for being interested in politics and for making their own political decisions. I believe I owe it to them to teach them how to weigh the candidate’s words and actions, consider all the facts and decide who they will support. That’s why I shared my son’s picture. I wanted to support his right to his own opinion and share with my friends that he has been listening and learning and knows who he wants to win. I’m proud that he is willing to stand up for what he believes in, and I won’t apologize for that!

So whether or not you agree with him or with me, know that I will not unfriend you (unless you get obnoxious, rude or mean about it!). I welcome conversation and support your freedom to vote, live and choose as you wish. Those are the same values I wish to teach my children as I equip them to participate in their democratic right and responsibility.

God Bless America!

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Organizing with Kids

 

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Play time!

I’m always looking for new ways to keep our toys organized. My son collects toy cars, and I find them all over the house – under the kitchen cabinets, in my bedroom, under the sofa and yes, in the toy box.

Because of his autism, he sometimes decides that he wants to play with a particular car or truck. If we can’t find that particular toy, he gets anxious and upset. That’s one reason why we need a toy organization method that works! Plus, I want my kids to enjoy playing, but I don’t want someone to get hurt or the toys to get broken.

So far, we’ve tried a few toy organization methods.

  • Bins – He sorts his toys into a cube bin: one for cars, one for water toys and one for figurines. The key is to get him to put his toys in the bin AND to sort them so he can find what he wants quickly.
  • Toy box – Our neighbor gave us a cute wooden toy box that’s decorated with animal pictures. It reduces clutter since most of the toys fit inside it, but finding anything inside is a mess.
  • Rectangular bins with lids – He can toss his toys into a bin and stack them in his closet. The toys aren’t sorted by type, but at least they’re off the floor and out of the way! The bins are clear, too, so he can see what type of toy is inside.

I asked Candy at Finding Order in Chaos for suggestions on ways my family can stay organized. If her tips help, let her know!

And I’m always open to additional suggestions. What toy organizing solution works for you? Please share your ideas here!

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Need a Smile? Check Out This Cute Snack!

healthy snack

I opened Facebook today and saw this cute snack staring at me from a friend’s wall. It instantly made me smile! Not only is it cute, but it’s healthy and my kids would eat it! Those are huge reasons to be happy!

Do you have any cute and happy snack ideas? I’d love to see them!

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