Posts in Holidays/Celebrations

Day 208 – New Year’s Resolution

I just read a blog about how having three children is a whole other universe to having two children.  I agreed with it but laughed a little.  Well, maybe a lot.  It could have been one of Calvin’s maniacal laughs really but it is morning and Andrew decided it was going to be a mischievous day for him.  It really hasn’t been more than an hour since he has woken up and I am already on the verge of calling in some reinforcements. Read More

Day 190 – Cruise Days 3&4

CURACAO_SignThe second full day on our cruise was an “at sea” day.  I had booked a facial at the spa in the morning and left John to do his own thing.  The spa was at the front end of the ship and had an exclusive lounge area that people had to pay extra money for so there weren’t as many people at this end of the ship.  I filled out the paper work and was led down the hall to get my very first facial.  It was a micro dermal facial and they do a lot of scrubbing off of layers of old dead skin which apparently is a good thing.  I have had skin problems in the past from stress and have felt like my skin needed a rejuvenation.  The facial included a massage of my head and neck and shoulders which was really nice.  When it was done, my pores were smaller and I was ready to face the sun again feeling a little younger than when I woke up. Read More

Day 183 – New Year

The Christmas festivities have passed and the decorations and tree are all put away for another year and the new year has begun and I can’t help but think that this year is going to be a good one.

I am not quite sure why I am feeling that way.  So far we have had some sickness in the household and an unnecessary sleep deprived night for Andy that threw his great sleeping patterns off.

I still have a feeling that it is going to be a good year so I am excited.

No I am not going to post a whole bunch of promises or resolutions for what I am going to do this year.  I am going to wait excitedly for the good things to come from God because I know, for some reason, that He has a few great things in line for our family this year.

Some great spiritual lessons learned, some special time together as a family, maybe even some amazing growth in the boys?  I don’t know what the blessings will be but I am sure they are going to be wonderful.

My resolutions and promises are pretty weak at best when it comes to the goodness of God.  So as you start a new year with no ideas of all that will happen over the next 365 days, know this, that God is faithful to those who love Him and He is the source of all things good!

Day 182 – Christmas Greetings

I neglected to get the Christmas cards out at the beginning of the month as I usually do and now that I am 5 days away from Christmas Day, I am making this blog post my Christmas greeting card to you!

Having actually stepped foot in Bethlehem over 13 years ago, I have to say we are a bit separated from the true events of what we celebrate on December 25th.

Commercialism in and of itself makes it hard for us to think of a time in a far away country long ago where a simple birth took place in a poor man’s stable.

We are surrounded by advertisements either in our mail, newspapers or on TV and on our computers for gadgets, games, clothing, food, furniture and appliances peddling their wares as the best gift to give this season.

We are enveloped by a feeling of good will as we pass by the folks in santa hats ringing their bells with the bowl to place your extra change in.

We hear songs pealing through the malls and through the radio about the most wonderful time of the year.

We eat more food in the month of December than we probably do all year with sweets in plain view everywhere we go.

But the reality of the birth over 2000 years ago was not really celebrated by many.  Some shepherds and a few wise and very rich men who were interested in astronomy and prophecy and a couple with a huge responsibility in their hands.

It was simple but there was fanfare in the form of Angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, Peace and Goodwill toward men.”  It was a big deal to God, the angels and to those who were privileged to witness it.

The greatest gift of all was the Son of God come from heaven to walk among men and women and children as one of us.  He grew up and taught, performed miracles and showed grace and love to multitudes of people in the rocky and dusty hills and plains of Israel.

He climbed the same rocky and dusty hills to Golgotha to lay down His life in our place to give us forgiveness and a way to His home in heaven with the Father.

But that was not the end, finally, He rose again on the third day to prove that He conquered the grave for us and to show us that He lives.

It was a big deal.  The biggest deal the world has ever known or had occasion to celebrate.

So as we go through traditions that may or may not remind us at every turn of what the true meaning of Christmas is, I want to send out a greeting from our family to yours to have a very merry Christmas and to encourage you to take a little time to think on the greatest gift who is Christ Jesus!

Day 179: Christmas is Coming!

I have finished 31 Days of Autism Awareness although, it ended up being more like 26 days.  It was a great challenge to post every day but the end of that month has brought us to the beginning of the Christmas season and I am starting to get the calendar filled up.

Our family ends up spending Christmas with one side of the family on the American Thanksgiving weekend and then with the other side of the family on Christmas Day.

So right now we are only two weeks away from our first Christmas celebration.  It is exciting and I am getting in the spirit but I am refraining from putting on the music and decorating because I know that by the middle of December, I will be sick of it all.  I want to enjoy the whole season so I am going to wait.

I like getting everything done with one side of the family by the end of November.  It makes it a lot less stressful for both celebrations.

We will have a great extended weekend with family that we last saw during the summer and are anticipating just enjoying each other’s presence (and eating too!).

The boys are doing so well these days with sitting or staying within certain boundaries now, I have a feeling John and I will be able to enjoy conversations with people instead of always being on guard.  Our family knows also to keep their eyes open too and I think it will be a great time for the boys as well.

Ethan may just make the rounds sitting in laps and grinning into the lucky recipient’s eyes with a big grin and tilt of the head and maybe a little chuckle as if to be sharing a joke without a single word.  He will likely find a decoration with which to stim with and spend some time happily spinning something standing in front of the fireplace or piano.

Andy may try and engage someone in a game of “catch me” and spurt out his “Ah hah!” with a boisterous spinning jump turning his head to see the reaction of the person he is trying to engage.  I can almost hear his thoughts “Is he gonna chase me?”  He will probably try to check out the kitchen for some goodies or steal a drink or two.  He will also likely cover his ears when we start singing and playing Christmas carols.

It is an enjoyable time where at some point we will remember what we are celebrating and spend a little time talking about the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Wonderful, Councillor, Mighty God, The Prince of Peace!

Day 177: Costumes

Tomorrow is Halloween and I thought I would post about costumes.

I am not so sure if my boys are typical when it comes to kids with autism and costumes but I will share my experiences with the boys at this time of year to give you a bit of an idea of how this holiday goes for kids with Autism.

Costumes are tricky to do around here.  We aren’t the kind of family to do Halloween like Christmas with decorations and tons of money spent on costumes.  We will only spend money on candy and on costumes only if necessary for props.

Our boys don’t like hats and we usually try to buy coats with tighter hoods and buy scarves to bundle them up during the winter months.  So hats or other such objects on their heads are not likely to stay on for long.  Costumes with masks are definitely out of the question and things pinned on them or sticking out would be ripped off in a matter of minutes.

Andy and Ethan are only a year apart in age and have been in the same class together since nursery school so I have gotten in the habit of matching their costumes such as Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.  This year they are in separate schools so I can do separate costumes.

The boys don’t really go out trick or treating.  We have just taken them around the block in the past.  They didn’t understand that you don’t go into the house when the door is opened.  Ethan still, any day of the year, will go to neighbours houses to visit with them.  He visited Uncle Bill next door this year and even went down to the basement to check everything out while I was getting Andy into our house after a drive.

My boys aren’t really much into sweets.  The only candy they can eat on their diet is Skittles and Starbursts and we take out the red ones.  So they aren’t really into getting the loot.  Usually I end up eating it and that’s not good when you are trying to shed some pounds so BJ will be getting the extra loot this year.

As far as getting scared, the boys don’t get scared of other costumes.  They get curious though so we have to keep a close eye on them around folks in costumes.

Halloween is not a huge holiday around here, which is ok with me.  We have fun playing with pumpkin guts when we carve and hang out in the living room to hand out candy.  They are very content with that.


Day 174: Family Vacations

It is with great fear and trepidation when we plan for a family vacation for all 5 of us.  Any location is closely examined with great scrutiny and almost always must contain either a large body of water or a pool.

Considerations must include facilities to store pre-made GF/CF meals and snacks and to re-heat them.  There must be separate beds if not separate rooms for the boys and a DVD player for those early morning, “I’m in a strange place”, wake ups.  An end unit is preferred and not on floors with people underneath in case of stomping fits.  Cottages are really, really nice!

We need to carefully plan our trip to be sure there is sufficient entertainment for the boys to keep busy.

If the destination happens to be longer than a 4 hr. drive home, we need to have a back up plan for crazy meltdowns and unexpected displeasure with the living conditions.

We need to pack food, clothing, toys, dvds, pull ups and wipes, lots of plastic bags and laundering supplies as well as coins for that.  We need to pack medications and melatonin and vitamins.  Swim gear and toys for the water and sand or dirt.

We never fly with the boys.   In any of my imaginings of that experience, there usually is running in the airport and fits in the security line and grabbing of metal detector wands maybe even a forehead kiss to the security folks. The only pleasant thing for the boys would be taking their shoes off. On the plane, I just can’t imagine being on there for any length of time before getting kicked off.

Needless to say, we would not be travelling off the continent with our boys unless it was by boat and the water enticement would leave me with no sleep at nights.

My boys LOVE going on drives.  The motion and white noise is soothing to them and there is lots to see.

My dream trip would be to drive them on a nice scenic drive to a coast in a motor home to swim in the ocean staying at campsites along the way!  Making lots of stops to hike or picnic or to play at a playground.  

Day 167: Thanksmas / Reunion

Wow,  we are over half way through 31 days of Autism Awareness.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I would make it this far.  I am enjoying the challenge.

Today I have been making arrangements for sitters for our annual Nicholson Thanksmas Weekend.  We have been celebrating Christmas with John’s side of the family on the US Thanksgiving weekend in Port Colborne for a couple of years now.  It has really worked out well for all of us and we all look forward to it as it is a weekend event and this year it will start on the Thursday to include a Nicholson Extended Family Reunion.  That is a lot of people but we are excited about that too since it hasn’t been done for a very long time.

Since we will be gathering on Thursday and Friday nights and then all day Saturday, we have made arrangements for the boys to be babysat since too much of those kind of outings would drive them nuts.  We have had a tradition of bringing the boys for most of the day Saturday but then asking workers to pick them up in the afternoon to take them for a swim at a local waterpark as a treat while we do the gift exchange.  The gift exchange for 20 plus people can take a while since we do it one person at a time and there is more than one gift for each person to open.  I like that way of doing it so that you can see the reactions on the faces of those you have given to.  The boys would not do well sitting through 2 hours of gift opening.  They barely are interested in opening gifts themselves.  Which leads me to my thoughts for today’s post.

Gifts for kids with Autism.  This has always been a challenge for us.  To find toys that are appropriate for their developmental level and that they are interested in and that is durable is a huge task.  Most toys that are specially made for kids with developmental delays and sensory processing issues are very expensive and can’t be bought at Walmart.

My boys love vestibular movement, running, climbing, jumping and swinging.  Most gross motor toys are made for little people so climbers, indoor slides and ride on toys are way too tiny for my 13 and 14 yr old boys.

Other toys have to withstand being tossed across the room and being stepped on by 150 lbs. of weight. Whatever they get will be mouthed, ripped and banged.  Not to mention that they almost never are used appropriately so to as get any educational benefits from them.  So this would include sorting games, puzzles, and games with rules and small pieces.

We know that they will always enjoy toys for them to stim with but we don’t necessarily want to encourage stimming all the time.  We also know that they will enjoy toys that they can chew and toys for the bath tub.  But there are too many relatives and birthdays and Christmas gift holidays to keep doing that and not overflow the tub with toys.

Books are great.  They love the ISpy books and the bright Veggie Tales books but they get ripped, yes even the board books get ripped.  So lately any books given have to have the pages taken out, laminated and put back together with rings.  Crazy but they love them and enjoy reading while waiting for the bus and at night.

They love musical cards.  I keep them in a basket in the living room.  A few have ripped and been thrown away but for what they cost and how much use we get out of them, they are very handy and economical.

So why did I tell you all that?  I am not sure.  Just another aspect of our lives that isn’t quite the norm.  I have recently had to send a list of ideas for gifts for the boys to family members so it was on my mind.  It’s hard to believe I am talking about Christmas already.  I suppose I should start looking for winter boots too while I am at it.  They are a rare commodity when the snow actually starts to fly.

Day 158: Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada.  This morning Andy and BJ are sitting in the living room and watching a Veggie Tales movie while Ethan sleeps in.

I have to be thankful for the progress this year in being able to sit in the kitchen while Andy sits in the living room peacefully with his big brother and the other sleeps.  This was not so much of a possibility even last year.

Andy still had to be closely watched last year and sitting in the living room meant that things were going to get tossed, ripped or scattered and the front door was quite the draw for him.  I am also grateful for the added help from my oldest with Andy and Ethan.  BJ loves his brothers and has been such an increasing help with them over this last year.  It has been such a blessing!

We had a good night’s sleep and I was up for at least an hour before I was joined by Andy.  I think that is a blessing, I will never take for granted again.

I enjoy a little time to myself in the mornings before I am required by someone for something.  That little bit of time to take care of my own needs physically, spiritually and mentally before tending to others needs is a God send.  The day just seems to flow all that much better when that happens.

I had an interesting read this morning that I thought I would share.  I must note that it really has nothing to do with what I have written here but it was an incredible story of the word of God I know and love and am thankful for in the mornings.

From “Seed Thoughts” at

George Whitfield (1714-1770), who was used by God to spread the Great Awakening, became perhaps the best-known preacher in Britain and America in the 18th century. In May of 1750, after hearing Whitfield preach, John Thorpe and three friends attended a local “Hell-Fire Club,” an atheists’ gathering. To amuse his friends, with amazing accuracy Thorpe recited the sermon he had just heard Whitfield preach. With remarkable tone and clever mimicry, John Thorpe presented the preacher’s message until, suddenly, he slumped into a chair and cradled his weeping face in his hands. With a self-inflicted wound, he had been converted under his own preaching! For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”(Heb 4:12). Subsequently, John Thorpe was greatly used in Bristol in the salvation of many.