03 November 2015

A month of Elf On The Shelf ideas

Last year a good friend of mine gave me back my Christmas spirit and I am so thankful, it turned out to be the best Christmas. I have always loved Christmas but in the early years of Ella's diagnosis it was hard, SO.VERY.HARD. We really wanted Ella to enjoy the magic but she just didn't understand. Trees and decorations were destroyed, we couldn't go out to celebrate without meltdowns and she just couldn't comprehend any of it. So sadly it had become just another time of the year for us.  Then late last year she finally started to understand some of it and so for the first time we all got to enjoy the magic together as a family. I was in tears knowing how far she had come and with all the work my friend had done to make our place magical it really was the best Christmas season ever!

Part of our new found love for Christmas was the "Elf On The Shelf" tradition. It was so much fun to see Ella look for "Elfie" everyday and also know that he was reporting back to Santa on her behavour (which really helped as a little reminder when she was playing up).

Anyway since the time is nearing again I thought I would do a round up of the fun "Elfie" had here last year and give you inspiration for your our Elf.

A simple welcome to the family - in the tree!

 Anyone for an Octonauts tea party?

It's hot here for Christmas (summer), so Barbie took Elfie for a swim.

Fun in a hot air balloon.

 Where's Elfie? Hiding in the toy zoo!!!!

 mmmm blueberry cinnamon scrolls anyone??? Elfie dropping hints for a yummy treat.

 A subtle reminder about naughty behaviour. 

Zipline... weeeeeeee!!!!!!

 Whats the time Mr Wolf Elfie???

 It's a fairy kind of day.

 Shower time.  (this was in spare bathroom so he could stay there all day without getting wet)

 Everyday for 2 weeks Ella asked if it was her friends birthday party.... finally the day arrived!

 Messages from the cereal bowl.

 Some upside down fun, only time having a long staircase came in handy.

 Someone was messing around with the wrapping paper.

 Admit it, you sang that sign!!!!!  LOL

 Another date with Barbie, this time they went parking.

Toot Toot Choo Choo... train ride time.

 Elfie really is a cheeky character (remember to use a whiteboard marker)

 Stealing snacks and hiding in the cupboard.

 Fun with fruity friends.

 Just hanging around for a bit of swing fun.

See even Elfie loves to colour in!!!!

A note to say good-bye and a reminder that he is still watching throughout the year.

It really was a good time had by all.  Elfie even made an appearance at Easter to tell Ella he still watching.

The other christmas traditions we started last year were:

Wrap 24 books and open 1 each night in the lead up Christmas (and worked great to stop Ella wanting to read just the same book every single night). She was excited to unwrap a book each night.  I didn't have time (or money) to buy all new books, so I wrapped up a heap of books she hadn't seen in ages and only purchased a few new ones.  This year however I have been buying and collecting new ones for her.

We also made a Christmas Eve box up for her to unwrap. In the box had new PJ's, a dvd, snacks and Santa's Magic Key, which she placed on the tree so Santa could get in (as we don't have a chimney). She loved it.  You can download the key tag I designed from last years post here.   I attached it to a scrapbooking/craft key I found at spotlight.

Just writing this post I'm super excited that Christmas is around the corner. We have had a rough year so I'm am hoping for another magical silly season to lift our spirits.

What is your favourite tradition for Christmas?


14 October 2015

Overcoming a period of ASD regression and not give up on homeschooling

 It's been awhile since I wrote a post about our homeschooling journey so today I wanted to fix that.

We have had a couple rough 'ASD' months. One word that can put fear into the hearts of a special needs parent..... REGRESSION! Oh my goodness it's been tough. We started a regimen (with our GP) to help rectify a vitamin deficiency and one of the side effects was that she may get worse before she gets better. And she did. Much worse. Thankfully we seem to have made it across the worst patch where we can now see the forest for the trees.

During the hard times though there were definitely 'brief' moments where I wondered if mainstream school was the answer, but then I remembered the reasons why we wanted to homeschool in the first place and our persistent family motto 'never give up' played in our minds. We took each day as it came, never giving up on our homeschooling dream by just learning to approach it differently. 

There was signs of regression in some independent life skills, social skills (she hated leaving the house) and her functional speech suffered a bit but the main issue related to homeschooling was Ella's inability to hold a pencil (or sit still AT ALL, and I thought she was a wiggle worm before, nope, now it was much worse). In fact anything to do with writing was cause for a meltdown. It broke my heart watching her regress to a stage she was at nearly 3 years ago. Simple tasks that she was blitzing thru seemed were now a thing of the past. Now, believe me, I am all for kids learning at their own pace and it not being a race, but to see her lose the skills she had worked so hard to achieve (skills that most kids just 'pick up' and we take for granted it will happen) was devastating. We were feeling dejected (infact that doesn't quite cover it). Lost. Disheartened. Exhausted. Worried. Ella has made amazing progress with therapies and our hands-on approach over past 3 yrs and to see that disappear was gut wrenching. What did the future look like now????

So what did we do in the meantime? Read lots of books to her (even her sight words had disappeared and she didn't want to read herself), attempted to play lots of games but mostly just gave her a break on the whole schooling approach. Some days she would only listen to 1 page of a book or play a game for 30 seconds, but we took it slowly. In the end it was like she basically took a summer vacation during winter. We took the pressure off and bit by bit we started working on wanting to touch/hold/use a pen, rekindle a love for books, get her interested in actually playing board games again, all in different ways.
Once we had her at a point of being semi ok to hold a pen we did things like colouring in together, she tried to help mark off shopping lists, attempted writing greeting cards for friends or just ticking boxes on a scavenger hunt. All of which were LONG, HARD, GUT-WRENCHING tasks for her to achieve. She would write 1 letter and would take an hour (or more than 20mins to pick up a pencil to join me colouring in). I am not exaggerating. But we never gave up. Without pressure, we just kept trying. Then we started to see a turnaround and took the opportunity to try the whiteboard approach again. Persistence pays off as now she does at least 5-6 whiteboard actives throughout the day. Plus colouring in is back on the fun list, writing greeting cards sometimes and we have even managed a few printables here and there. Plus she is back to loving board games again and leaving the house is no longer a logistical nightmare fraught with meltdowns at any time!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!

So now we are kind of back on track, we are all happier and I am in the process of starting my plan for next years schooling and it's not looking as daunting as it was 3 months ago. Yes she still has a long way to go to catch back up to where she was but we can see the future again and it's looking better each day.

Today I wanted to share our journey through rough waters of late as well as a few pictures of our whiteboard activities we have been doing. Short, fun, easy. Anything to get her interested in the act of writing again.We started slow, just 1 letter/shape here and there and gradually added more. Now I spend most nights scrolling thru pinterest looking for ideas I can replicate on the whiteboard without needing too much in the way of artistic skills. PS. if you are looking for cheap multi-coloured whiteboard markers, I got a big pack for $5 from kmart. They have come in handy as we do lots of different coloured stuff to keep it fun.

So if you are ever feeling down and want to give up, I hope our story will help you stay strong and push thru.


20 August 2015

More free printable adult colouring pages

I am still very much loving my adult colouring in. I even got a lady to try it while I was away recently as she was a bit skeptical but after 10mins she was hooked! If you haven't tried it yet, seriously give it a go, almost instant calm (for me anyway).

As promised I have made 2 new pages using some of the thousands of photoshop custom shapes I've collected over the years.  I love playing in photoshop and these were really fun to make, I hope you like them. Check out the previous post if you missed the first 2 pages I did.  ENJOY!

Download the pages here.

14 July 2015

Free printable adult colouring in pages

My name is Carley and I am a colouring in addict.  Ok well maybe not that bad, yet.  But since starting some adult colouring in on the weekend I have been (pardon the pun) drawn in by the therapeutic nature of it. I was pretty stressed out on Sunday morning but after colouring for a few hours I totally chilled out. Best part is it’s free and I’m not online (yep my digital habit getting bad again) plus its encouraging Ella to sit down for a little bit longer each time to join in (on her own paper of course!).  

So I am loving the pro’s to this new hobby, except when the sun goes down, its too hard to colour in with dark shadows cast by harsh lights (first world problems I know).  Anyway I got to thinking and I realised I could design a few colouring in pages myself using some of my old digital scrapbooking designs.

So last night while there was nothing interesting to watch on TV I got to creating and designed these two pages incorporating some journalling space into them (which I also love).  I have been hanging out all day to get them uploaded so I could share them with you.  I have already started one of them myself.  I hope you like them as much as I do!  I already have some other ideas in mind to make more pages so stay tuned for more in the next few weeks.

You can download the pages here.

Enjoy!  :-)

05 July 2015

The Letter of the week is L (and a free printable)

We have had another good homeschooling week (well apart from the fact that most places are crowded due to school holidays and Ella getting sick) but we tried to make the most of staying home with some activites that relate to our letter of the week.... L

Although it wasn't as full a week as I'd hoped with Ella being sick, here is a look at some of the things we did when she was up for it.

Frist up at the start of the week was a trip to the Library.  We found a few L books such as lions, leopards, ladybug girl, life in the trees, little miss muffet and even one of Ella's favourite ABC shows on DVD "Louie".  

Some of the printable and craft activties we did this week included making mini lighthouses, lacing, a love heart garland and making ladybuys from an egg carton.

We also decorated a llama, followed along with the DVD "Louie" and did some drawing and painted a lion using a fork.  The start of the week was wet and miserable so all these activities were perfect to stay inside and keep dry.

These fast and easy printables are great to work on 'sitting still' skills as they don't take long but are fun just the same. Most of the printable I found on pinterest but I also had some I had on my computer from her early therapy years and one I made myself.  You can download my Letter L printable here (consists of one quick find the letter game and 2 pages for drawing on or decorating with L items).  Don't forget to also check out my homeschool board on pinterest for the other ideas.

Once the weather cleared up we went on a 'leaf collecting' hunt.  Ella enjoyed finding all different types and we glued them to paper while discussing the different colours and sizes (although they didn't stick well so I laminated them!!!).

In the kitchen this week we made some lemon butter.  Ella licked the lemons but wouldn't try the finished butter as it wasn't yellow (dam that rapadura sugar making everything brown :-( , oh well maybe next time) But she had fun squeezing the lemons to get the juice out.
Hope you like our quick overview of our week of the letter L.

  Next week is the letter P so I'm off to pin some P activities!!!!

Have a great week xx