Princess Ky Background - The cutest blog on the block

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Daddy Dilemma

My heart really went out to my husband today as he was put in a heartbreaking predicament. 

Kylie woke up unusually early this morning.  When she came into our room it was still pretty dark out, but it was time for Dan to start getting ready for work.

He graciously and lovingly changed her diaper and fixed her a formula sippy cup and gently laid our drowsy, bed-head girl in bed next to me so we could be cozy and snuggle. 

I wrapped my mama wings around her and curved her body to mine in an attempt to keep her warm.

As Dan was about to turn away, we heard a soft pause in the fervent pull of milk and her little baby voice say ...

"You snuggle too dad??"

I could feel my husband's heart rip in two as he knew he had to do a hard thing.

He leaned over, gave Kylie a squeeze and explained that he had to go to work, but that mommy would snuggle with her.

Our precious girl, our gift from God who we literally waited years for and who loves us best when we are all "togever" whimpered  "No! You snuggle too!!"

She really wants Dan to quit his job =0)

Lying in the dark, I felt him squeeze her again and I could sense how torn he was feeling. 

I knew he was thinking of throwing it all to the wind and climbing back into bed with us to "snuggle some more"

But... the responsible, loves us so much he is willing to give up more to provide, worlds best daddy and husband, stepped away to do what had to be done.

I know as he walked away he was thinking that if, Lord forbid, something would happen to us today, he will regret forever not fulfilling that request to "snuggle too"

I felt so sorry for him;  my heart was just breaking for the love of my life!

How difficult those steps away from us must have been!

Sometimes love means doing a hard thing.  And sometimes it is a REALLY hard thing.

I love my man!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks - An Autism Experience

In the month of November, we focus on giving thanks. 

I attempted to teach Kylie this important lesson, but very quickly ran into some roadblocks that were placed in our path by Autism.  This post will focus on how we plowed through those roadblocks and learned an important lesson about giving thanks.

Dispersed among this post will also be some recent fall pics - enjoy!! 
(I am an amateur, but I sure enjoy photography)
Our Lil' Pumpkin
On November 1st, Kylie awoke to find her new fall themed sensory box.  You can read about it (and see it) here.  I also began the day talking to Kylie about Thanksgiving and what it means to give thanks.

Happy Fall Day
As giving thanks is such an abstract concept, I knew I would have to provide examples so I told Kylie that some kids are thankful for their toys and some kids are thankful for their mom and dad and then I asked Kylie what she was thankful for. 

Without hesitating, Kylie answered "My house". 

I have to tell you that her answer brought tears to my eyes as we have been fighting to keep our house since my husband lost his job last October.  To hear that our simple home is precious to her touched me deeply. 
Kylie and her scarecrow buddy

Admiring all the colorful leaves - God's creation is so breathtaking!!

So, on November 2nd, I asked her again what she was thankful for?  She again answered "My house".  I knew then that Kylie was having a hard time with the concept of "giving thanks" being so abstract.  She thought there was only one correct answer to the question.
A "Kylie Size" pumpkin!
So, I talked to Kylie's Speech Therapist, Julie, and got her advice on how to help Kylie understand better that there can be more than one answer to the question of "What are you thankful for?"

Julie suggested that we make cards of things that Kylie really enjoys and also include cards of things that Kylie does not enjoy and then let her pick each day something she is thankful for.

I told Julie that I knew that would be what she told me but that I was a little disappointed as I really wanted the question to be open ended.   I was so curious as to what Kylie would say. 

Julie explained that open ended questions are really difficult for children with autism, but that maybe after several days of  choosing pictures, the idea of what it all meant would "click" for Kylie and by the end of the month, she might start thinking of things on her own.
Here we are together! 
We don't often have pics together as I am usually the one behind the camera! 

So, we created cards of things she likes:
Candy Corn, Chocolate, Tigger (her cat), Grandparents, Veggie Tales, Disney on Ice, Popsicles, Smelly Markers, Aqua Sand, Climbing, Going to the park, Barbies, Mom and Dad, Pizza Ranch and etc

So happy together!!
And we created cards of things she doesn't like:
Baths, loud noises, babies crying, broccoli, bright lights, elevators, flash on a camera, and etc

I love how in all three pics, Kylie has such a different expression!

Then we created a blank calendar where we could post each days picture selection so Kylie had a visual of what she is thankful for (and doesn't repeat the things she has already said).

Each day we ask Kylie what she is thankful for. She can either choose from the pictures we have created, or she can tell us something else.  It has been really neat to see what she chooses to be thankful for. 

Julie was right.  At first, Kylie stuck to the pictures but as time went on, she began to look around the room and select other things. 

A few of the things she has been thankful for are: House, Thanksgiving, Toys, Mom and Dad, TV, "Me", Ipad, Tigger, Car, Barbies and etc.

It has been really neat to watch her acquire knowledge and understanding of the abstract concept of "Giving Thanks". 

I am so thankful for the team of people who surround us on this journey of experiencing Autism.  God has been so good to place just the right people in our family's circle of influence!

Kylie is thriving because of her loving family, therapists, doctors, counselors, respite providers and our friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - FREE APP - **NEW**

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors.  Not only is her writing beautiful, but she writes in a way that requires one to read slowly and savor the words on each page.  You don't mind. Often, you work up an insatiable desire to take another sip, a drink, a gulp - you want MORE.

Her book One Thousand Gifts is on my "favorites" list.  (along with I Will Carry You by Angie Smith.  I learned of Ann by reading Angie's book and blog.  I can't wait to read Angie's NEW book What Women Fear too!)

Here is an excerpt of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts book:  Read chapter one.  I guarantee you will be hooked (click this link and scroll down) 

Click HERE to download the FREE "One Thousand Gifts" APP. 

The app is great as it sends you inspirational quotes, allows you to keep a list of the gifts you are thankful for (pics too, if you like) and gives you the opportunity to share (and inspire) family and friends via various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flikr and etc

What gifts are passing you by because you are not choosing to see?   This book and app will make you open your eyes and live life purposefully!

P.S.  Here is the Itunes description and reviews:

P.P.S  If you sign up to follow Ann's blog via email or RSS Feed you qualify to receive a FREE Jesse Tree Advent Family Devotional and Ornament

Happy Thanksgiving and Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Story Bracelet/Necklace Tutorial- **NEW** and Improved! ** FREE Printables too!!

I have seen Thanksgiving Story Bracelets all over the web. 

You can peek at a few of them here, here and here

So far, all of the ones I have found use colored pony beads

I (obviously) LOVE the idea of a bracelet designed to help children remember and retell the Thanksgiving story. 

However, these versions will not work for my Kylie. 

For young children or for those who experience Autism (literal thinkers- see this post for more info), colored pony beads are just too abstract.  There is no identifying information to them.

So, I set out to find a solution to this problem and ended up finding the most wonderful thing!!

Oriental Trading (one of my FAVORITE online stores) sells these fabulous foam beads (a few different fall styles. You can find the different styles here, here, here and here).

They are actually pictures or shapes of things pertaining to fall and Thanksgiving.

So, I have modified the Thanksgiving bracelet idea (which, due to the size of the beads, will now be a necklace) to the following representations (scroll down even further to print my FREE Thanksgiving Necklace Story Cards):

1. Pilgrim Bead:
The Pilgrims left England on September 6, 1620.  A ship called the Mayflower took them across the ocean. They traveled for 3 months in terrible weather.  It was very cold and stormy.

2. Green Cross Bead:
The Pilgrims left England because they wanted to worship God freely.  They prayed to God many times on their journey. The Pilgrims arrived at the new world on December 11, 1620

3. Hat Bead:
The Pilgrims did not have enough warm clothing or a house for the winter.  Many of the people got very sick and many died.

4. Yellow Cross Bead:
The Pilgrims prayed to God asking for help.  They needed someone to rescue them because they were far, far from the safety of England.  They were cold, hungry and needed a warm place to sleep.

5. Two Native American Beads:
In March of 1621 (spring time), God answered the Pilgrim's prayers and sent 2 Native Americans: Samoset and Squanto to the Pilgrim's camp.  Samoset and Squanto could even speak English!!

6. Purple Cross Bead:
The Pilgrims thanked God for taking care of them and for sending a Native American who could speak English.

7.  Three Candy Corn Beads:
Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant a garden.  He told them to put a fish and three kernels of corn under the dirt and to plant many rows just like this in their garden. 

8. Red, Green and Yellow Leaf Beads:
In the fall, the garden was ready to be harvested.  They cut down all the vegetables and brought them into the barns.

9. Corn Bead:
There was so much corn and other food that the Pilgrims invited the Native Americans for a GREAT feast to give Thanks to God.

10. Turkey Bead
The Native Americans walked for 2 days in order to come to the big dinner and brought wild turkeys for meat

11. Pumpkin Bead
The Pilgrims brought pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables.

12. Cornucopia Bead
There was a cornucopia of food.  This means that they had plenty to eat.  Everyone ate until they were full.

13. "Give Thanks" Bead
The Pilgrims and the Native Americans gave thanks together.  They were now Friends.

14. Orange Cross Bead
God took care of the Pilgrims and supplied their needs. 

15. Orange Star Bead
Just like the Pilgrims, I am thankful for...(Have child fill in the blank)

16. Green Star Bead
Just like the Native Americans, I am thankful for...(Have child fill in the blank)

17. "Shine with the Light of Jesus" Pumpkin Bead
When I am thankful I "Shine with the Light of Jesus"

And here is the finished product!!

I also made Story Cards that share what each bead stands for and laminated them.  I also attached sample beads to The Story Cards (you could print pictures too).  That way, Kylie can look to the paper for prompts.  It will also assist anyone that she is trying to communicate the story to (Kids who experience Autism often have speech difficulties as well).

 Click on the following pictures to print the Story Cards (be sure to select full page for paper size)...
Little Ones will LOVE telling you the story of their Thanksgiving Necklace!!

Enjoy!! and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Please read this and think about "Gifting" differently this year.

Kylie at her ballet recital this past Sunday
Dance Without Limits is a Ballet/Dance program for children who experience Special Needs

I can't add to this one thing that would make it any better. I just HAVE to direct you to someone else's blog...

This is a PERFECT illustration of what I am all about. I love my daughter JUST like this and I know HE loves us more.

Missy's friend Ruth has said it so eloquently!!

Please go read this post - How I wish I had written it!!

Thanks for sharing what was on your heart Missy (via your friend, Ruth)!!

And... If anyone out there, happens to read this and happens to click over to Missy's blog and then you have a question or two about what she writes, I would love to chat with you about it and answer what I can! It would be my honor to do so!

please read THIS BLOG POST you will be so GLAD you did!!

Happy Thanksgiving
I truly am thankful!!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Shopping Money Saver!!

I LOVE Zulily!!

 I just "bought" Kylie a Christmas gift for .94 using the $15 credit I received for referring friends to shop here too!  
Believe me, they shop here - everything is soooo discounted!!

GREAT deals!!  Yes, a Christmas gift for less than $1!! (after your $15 credit for referring family/friends)

Click this link to join me!!

I'm telling you, you will LOVE it!!

Happy Christmas Shopping!!

(Note: You receive your $15 credit after your referral places an order and it ships.  I spent one of my credits today!! yay!! Help me out by signing up too!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Preschool Pumpkin Activity (Fine Motor)

I found this great wooden pumpkin cut out at Michael's Craft Store (now on sale in the fall clearance section for $2.99 - hurry!) and this idea was born.

The cut out came with an attached wooden stand (which I had my husband remove so we could lay it flat).  On one side the holes are large and on the other side, they are much smaller.

My original idea was to have Kylie put golf tees in the holes (which would have added a level of difficulty) and then balance marbles on top of the golf tees.  However, the holes were not small enough and the golf tees tended to sway to and fro and were not sturdy enough to hold the marbles (they slid right off).  Bummer!!

So, for our first transfer activity, Kylie was allowed to just transfer the marbles onto the holes with her fingers. 

Once she has this task down, I will increase the difficulty by having her use various kinds of tongs and tweezers to make the transfer.  Right now, though, she thinks this is super easy and breezes right through it.
She's feeling pretty confident!!

She also tries to cheat by laying a handfull of marbles on the wood and then trying to get several to go into the holes at once.  Nice thinking my little brain wiz, but mommy is on to you.... gotcha!!
Kylie cheating - caught in the act!

P.S.  I purchased the marbles in Michael's dollar section.  Kylie loves how the marbles are cool and smooth to the touch.
Here's a few more pics of Kylie in action:
She loves just holding the marbles

picking and choosing which holes to fill first
Ta dah!!
But then..... Mommy had a brain storm of a way that might make this little activity work with the golf tees...I really had my heart set on using the golf tees!

I remembered that I had picked up a bucket of large "fun fusion" beads several months ago at Michael's and wondered if they would fit in the holes that were drilled into the pumpkin.

  As you can see, we never use them for "fun fusion" purposes, we use them for lacing activities.

We also use them on Peg boards to make designs and work on patterning.

Drum roll please.....

Yay!! It works!!

My next problem was that the golf Tees were extending past the wood (they were too long)

Enter: My husband, Dan (Also known as Prince Charming). 

If there is an opportunity to get out the power tools, he will drop anything to rescue a damsel in distress (ahem.. that would be me)

He pulled out his little Dremel tool and cut those golf tees down to size

Soooooo... NOW, Kylie puts the little fun fusion bead in each hole, then she puts the golf tees in and then she balances a marble on top of each golf tee!! 

This exercises her fine motor muscles, challenges her eye hand coordination and improves her problem solving skills.

The perfect 3 step activity!   LOVE IT!!! 

NOW Kylie is challenged! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Teacher FAILS Thanksgiving!! (Important lessons learned)

My daughter Kylie has been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum.  When we explain our situation to others, we choose to say that our family "experiences Autism".  

Autism may encompass many varied learning barriers.  But, if you know what to look for, know how to adapt and flex your teaching style, you can be very successful in encouraging a child who loves learning.

I had an opportunity to put that theory to practice just this week. 

In my search for November activities that would support my teaching of the First Thanksgiving, I found lovely (and FREE) printables from both here and here (when this second one opens, scroll down to the bottom to find the free printables). 

Let me just say that these gals do such a great job!

I was particularly drawn to a handout at both websites that focused on categorizing things.  Kylie's Speech Therapist, Julie, has been working on this with Kylie and I thought it would be a great way to continue that learning at home.

I printed both handouts, cut them out, laminated them and had everything all ready. 

One of the printables had photos of the Fisher Price Thanksgiving set and I knew Kylie would be really attentive to that as this toy is part of our November Sensory bin.

The purpose of the printable activity was to show Kylie different pictures and have her categorize them by "People" or "Food"

I combined both sets of pictures so she had more to categorize.

I first showed her one of the pictures of food and asked her which side it went on: "People" or "Food"?  Kylie studied the picture and then placed it on "Food"

I offered her a few more food category selections and she categorized them correctly as well.

Feeling confident that she knew the idea behind the game, I then showed her a "People" card and again asked her "Food or People?" 

Kylie looked at the picture, studied the picture and was really trying to decide what to do. 

I could just see the wheels turning in her brain and I was puzzled by her lack of answer.  It was actually painful for me to see her hesitation.

I looked at the picture and (to me) clearly it was a "people" - why was Kylie having such trouble?

...And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! 

Take a closer look at the pictures.  What is each "Person" holding?

They are each holding a FOOD item!!

No wonder Kylie was having such a hard time trying to decide where it went.  It fit BOTH categories.

You see, children who experience Autism or who are on the Autism Spectrum tend to be very literal thinkers.  These children see things that you or I would pass over.  They have very acute vision, hearing and thinking processes. 

These individuals are .... BRILLIANT!!

 I felt badly when I realized that I had set Kylie up with (in her mind) a "trick question."

Rest assured my daughter earned herself an A+ on the activity. 

Did this Mommy pass or fail? 

Well, I failed at the activity but I passed in learning a valuable lesson!

How do I fix this issue?

I need to find pictures of people who aren't holding food!  That should be pretty easy to do!

Note to self:   Remember that Kylie is a very literal thinker. 

Children and Adults who experience Autism have a very difficult time with metaphors and idioms

For example:

If you were to say (metaphor) "It's raining Cats and Dogs" they would look for cats and dogs to fall out of the sky.

If you were to say (idiom) "He has a chip on his shoulder" they would look for a Dorito on a man's shoulder

Please take a minute to read this short article by an individual who experiences Autism and what they say are phrases that confuse them.  The comments left by her readers are insightful as well.

Another personal example of this...

When I bathe Kylie and wash her hair, I often tell her to "look to the sky" so I won't get soap or water in her eyes.  She isn't always cooperative, but we manage.

The other day, as I was soaking in the tub, Kylie came into the bathroom and started to "help" me.  She took me by the head and said "look to the sky" but instead of pointing my eyes to the ceiling, she turned my head to the window! 

ding, ding, ding, - another bell went off in my mind!  I need to ask her to look at the ceiling vs look to the sky!  After 5 years, you would think I would know these things!!

I guess it just proves that we all have things to learn and we all need to grow as individuals.  Bless my daughter for loving me even with my shortcomings! 

Hope you all are doing better than I am!!

P.S.  This would be a great article to share with caregivers, teachers, and etc.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Sensory Cornucopia

For the month of November, I am trying to teach Kylie the history of the first Thanksgiving (on her level, of course) and what it means to be thankful. 

I really wanted to show her what a Cornucopia (or Horn of Plenty) was but had an awful time finding one. 

This led me to try and put one together myself. 

The finished product ended up being a GREAT addition to our November sensory items.

I found a set of sticky, yet squishy, play food at Oriental Trading.  These fruits are filled with some kind of styrofoam and they are very pliable (like a stress ball but even squishier - is that a word? ha!).  They came 12 to a package.  Click here to purchase (they are currently 40% off and selling for $5.99 - normally $10.00- A GREAT DEAL!!) - Act quickly!!

They tend to get fuzzy if you play with them on carpet or if you line them up on the floor like my Kylie does. HOWEVER...they are very easy to clean.  I jut run them under cold water and brush the fuzz off.  I then lay them on a dishtowel to dry.  They are like new again.

It took me a long time to find an actual Cornucopia to put them in so we started off just having them in a bowl.  (I picked up the bowl in the Target dollar aisle a long time ago)

I finally found a woven/basket type Cornucopia at Michael's Craft Store.  If you hurry, they are in a sale bin for 70% off. 

Kylie is getting a great workout squeezing the fruit.

She doesn't always like the feel but, so far, she has tolerated it and it is helping to desensitize her avoidance of such textures.

We had to have a little talk explaining the difference between a "horn" and a "horn of plenty"  - No, we DON'T put the Cornucopia in our mouth!  ick!

After all the frustration of trying to find a cornucopia and coming up with nothing.  I am pleasantly surprised by what we ended up putting together. 

This cornucopia will be great to experience for years to come.

Here's a link if you would like to read the history and uses of a Cornucopia in our culture.

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."

  ~Theodore Roosevelt