Living It – Week 26


Make a Calendar Together – Tip #65

Our latest deployment calendar

Our latest deployment calendar

We are now past the halfway mark of this deployment and even though I have the deployment candy jar marking down time, the kids are older and I think need to see it on an actual calendar.  We have a calendar of events that happen each week but I thought it would be helpful to make a calendar of fun!  This week we made a calendar for the next three months so that we can begin to see a  see all the good things that are going to happen in between and after my husband gets back.  We do not have a specific return date so we are just highlighting the possible weeks for now.

Tips:

* Complete the calendar together (so you can also discover the events coming up that are important to them)

* Put it in a high traffic area so that everyone can reference it

* Add fun events, activities and holidays

* Mark birthdays and milestones and identify which month your family member is likely return

* Add things that you want to do at the top and reminders

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It! – Week 25


Journal Daily – Tip #10

FullSizeRender (12)

So…  I have not been following my own advice and writing in a journal this deployment. When we had our last deployment I wrote in a journal every day (sometimes only a line or two) and then sent the journals over for my husband to read about our daily lives, the kids would draw pictures on pages and we even put in photos or ticket stubs.  They were a great way to track the big and the little things and they are a fabulous keepsake.  I can see them on the shelf as I write this!  Now jump ahead 7 – 8 years and technology seems to have taken over my life.  Instead of a journal, I write a daily email and attach photos of things we are doing, report cards or art work they have done.  I wanted this to be something that we had as a memory though so I started a file and put a copy of each email into there each day.  That way I could always print them out and scrapbook them if I ever have time…  unlikely but I remain hopeful and I didn’t want them to just be lost in my husband’s inbox.

My advice remains the same (despite me not doing a good job of following it).  This week I bought a book and decided that we would track the next few months in “hard copy” and make it something he can read when he gets home.  I decided that sending them over during the deployment has way too much risk that they will be damaged or lost.  It is also some thing nice to enjoy and a great conversation starter when your family member gets home.

Tips:

* Get everyone in the family involved

* Make time each week to write a few things in it

* Add ticket stubs, bills, or any other momento that you can think of

* Include Top 10 lists

* Print pictures off your phone and add them in

* Put the book in a high traffic area so it doesn’t get forgotten

* Make it fun, not another responsibility – you don’t have to write a novel, just a few lines a day is enough

* Use doodles or drawings too

 

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Recommended Reading – “Rain, Reign”


A must read for all educators and parents!

rainreign

Every now and again I am lucky enough to stumble onto a book for kids that I can’t put down, that makes me think and tells a moving story.  Rain, Reign by Ann Martin is one of them.  This book provides readers with insights into how challenging some student’s home lives can be, how Autistic students may perceive their world, tough decisions we all will have to make at some point and most of all – what it means to be courageous.  Rain, Reign provides the reader with a greater understanding of why children with Autism may choose to make sense of their world the way they do, how they may make some decisions and sometimes behave the way they do.  When it is estimated that 1 in 5 children are somewhere on the Autism spectrum, this book is long overdue.  The wonderful thing about Rain, Reign is that it is multi layered.  It isn’t just about Autism or Rose, it is about courage, overcoming obstacles and how your percieved flaws (in this case, Rose’s black and white thinking, can be one of your greatest assets).  Students will connect with this book on a variety of levels and hopefully re-examine those students they share a classroom with, see on the yard or sit with on the bus home and realize that everyone doesn’t have just one story but that everyone has layers and some of those can make life tough.  I highly recommend picking up a copy of Rain, Reign.  Every classroom and every household should read this book!

For Educators:

Rain, Reign – An Educator’s Guide

Overall Themes and Questions

  • Rose has autism. What are some things that you know about Autism?
  • Is Rose a hero? Why or why not?
  • Parents make mistakes. What are some mistakes that Rose’s father makes? Is Rose’s father a good person?  Give at least 3 reasons from the book to justify your answer.
  • Each character in the story has flaws. Choose 3 characters from the story and identify their flaws.
  • Rose has black and white thinking. List some times in the book when she had this type of thinking. What things do you have black and white thinking about?
  • Is Rose a hero? What makes her a hero?
  • What is Rose’s biggest obstacle or challenge that she has to overcome? Explain your thinking.

Questions to consider:

What rules are important to Rose?
Why do you think students are unkind to Rose?
Rose understands her world through creating structure, numbers, rules and routines. How are you and Rose the same and what makes you different?
What are some of the things that Rose attributes to having high functioning autism?  Make a chart of her abilities and list whether or not you think they are positive or negative. Be ready to defend your thinking.

Rose needs support from Mrs Leibler to start conversations differently. How does how you start conversations with people differ from Rose?
Rose has some triggers that can cause her to become upset and agitated. What are they and what things does she do to remain calm. Provide examples from the book. What upsets you and how do you calm down?

Parvani, in Rose’s class, looks away from Josh when he is being mean about Rose’s behaviour and rolling his eyes. There are subtle and quiet things we can all do to show people we do not support bullying. List as many as you can.

Would you work hard to track down the Henderson’s?  Why or why not

Rose’s father loses his temper and frightens Rain and Rose. Instead of hurting Rose he leaves the house. When you are losing your temper how do you calm yourself down?

Rose’s father has come from a background where his parents were unkind to him and he is working hard to not follow in his parents footsteps.  Is her father brave and honourable?  Why or Why not?

Activity Suggestions:

Have a period of working with radio static in the background to mimic how Rose must feel. Put the paper, pens and other classroom supplies in a different place every day for a week to show kids how they also like routines and structures too.

Each child has to make a box describing them with a minimum of 5 things in it that are significant to describing who they are as a person. A twist on this activity would be that a classmate would present their box rather than them doing it.

Mapping out their community like Rose is able to do.  Drawing a map to scale, using a key, etc.

Make a list of all Homophones that Rose identifies.

Make a list of what each household should have in the way of emergency supplies.

Using details that Rose gives us about Rain make a Lost Poster.

Make a list of all the prime numbers that Rose identifies in the book.

Write a different ending for the book where Rose does not have to give up Rain.

Have a class debate – One team thinks Rose should have done what she did when giving back the dog to the Henderson family and one team that thinks she should have not looked for the previous owners at all.

For more information about our books, resources and tips go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org and blog@whileyouwereaway.org

 

 

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #458


Loneliness – Tip #458

Lonely

No one tells you about the times you are going to feel utterly alone as a member of a military family (no one also tells you about the deep seeded resentment you will feel but that is a tip for another time!). It is hard going it alone during a deployment or any extended absence. Everyone in your life has their own lives too and can’t be around all the time nor would you want them to be. Having said that, you are going to experience loneliness whether you are alone or surrounded by people.  While I don’t have a lot of time to feel lonely (and there are definitely times when I enjoy my alone time) it can also sneak up on you and leaving you feeling truly awful.  After several deployments I think that I have learned to combat loneliness (most of the time).  This doesn’t mean I don’t have a good cry or take some time to feel well and truly sorry for myself but I don’t let these be lasting moments.  I feel it and then do something about it.  Flying solo has also forced me to get comfortable with who I am as a person but you can only be with yourself and/or your children so much before you crave an interaction that doesn’t start with, “Can I…” or “Would you…”.  Weekends seem to be hardest for me as I am usually too exhausted to have the drive or motivation to do much but also have so many obligations – driving kids to their activities or friends houses, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, that I don’t have time to connect with people that aren’t living under my roof as much as I would like to.  

Tips:

* Acknowledge that you are lonely and try not to eat your loneliness away (it doesn’t work and you end up feeling worse – trust me… I am the master at eating feelings and whole bags of chips!).  Talk to other people about how you feeling.  They often have a brighter perspective and a good suggestion or two – they also don’t cause weight gain that can put you in a downward spiral.

* Make plans and actually do it no matter how tired you are.  Have something to look forward to (ensure that they are plans that friends or family won’t let you bail out on).

* Read great books (great means anything that you can lose yourself in).  A book doesn’t have boring commercials and you can get lost in it, escape from your own reality and forget about your own stresses and problems.  It can also give you some much needed quiet time and perspective.

* Look at the things that you are doing that trigger feelings of loneliness and see what you can cut out or do differently.  I had a family friend tell me that on days that she feels lonely she can’t sort out photos.  If you know this, don’t do it.  Wait for a time when you are in a better place.

* Think of things that make you happy and do one.  Be selfish.  Do something that brings you joy or happiness.  I find that I often feel lonely because I am too caught up in making everyone else happy and missing having someone around who puts me first.  Each week take a time out to put yourself first!

* Spend less time on Facebook and other social media sites and make real life connections with people.  While it is easier to connect via Facebook, it is so much more fun and rejuvinating to actually meet with someone in person.  I would challenge you to look at your Facebook account and then PM someone and make a plan to see them in person.

* Spend time actually tracking time of day, hours of sleep and your diet when you feel lonely.  These can impact how you are feeling and may be easier to adjust than you would think.

Lonely quote

None of the above suggestions will stop you from feeling lonely once and awhile but they can reduce the number and length of time!

For more information about our books, resources and tips go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

 

Living It – Week 24


Tip # 54 – Exercise

 

Tracking the kms!

Tracking the kms!

I am not good at exercising.  I know I should be and always feel better when I do but that doesn’t often translate into me actually doing any aerobic activity with any consistency.   Last year we got a dog and it has been the only thing that has ever consistently worked in getting me off the couch!  I walk him every morning whether or not it is -35C, raining, or snowing.  But…  the walking isn’t enough.  Our entire family could do with getting more aerobic exercise.  We have an exercise bike in our basement.  Until last week it hung clothes nicely and contributed to a few stubbed toes (as we walked around it rather than getting on it).

This week I got serious about my ever growing butt and got my family on board too.  I made a chart (see above) and we are all going to try to bike as far as the country their Dad is deployed to before he gets home.  Usually the only reason I get off the couch at night is because my bladder is so full that I am in physical pain.  I am hoping that this will help us to break the cycle of being couch potatoes and get us all working in a healthy way towards a fun goal.

What I have learned from this week is:

* We are all out of shape, the bike is downstairs and sometimes out of sight out of mind but I am forcing myself to go down and use it!

* The chart to track the distance we have biked is helpful (also quite alarming in terms of how far I could bike before I nearly lost a lung)

* If I don’t do it, my kids won’t so I have to get on there even when I am exhausted

* We have more time to exercise than I thought and I need to stop making excuses but we are not, in all likelyhood, going to realize our goal of biking the distance of the deployment but we are going to try anyway.  I decided to include the kms I walk each day with the dog.

* We all feel more awake and energized when we get off of it (I also feel sweaty and am gasping for air but hopefully in a few weeks that will change)

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week 23


Jokes and Quotes – Tip #53

Laughter

Last week I was at a retirement and rather than having a typical party we were at a comedy club – we all needed a laugh so it was perfect.  There was a woman there that had me in tears.  I was laughing and laughing and so were my colleagues.  I swear that I am still renewed from that a week later!

I laugh every day – if I didn’t I would openly weep and that isn’t nearly as fun.  This week I really took a good look at what I do to find happiness and moments of hilarity in all the chaos.

* I will go onto the computer each day to find funny pictures to put on the staff bulletin (I often get distracted and end up looking insane because I am laughing out loud and no one is around)

* I have a tear off calendar of funny sayings and at least a few times a week we all find it funny.  I also keep the gems, cut the date off and use them to put in staff mailboxes or into my kids’ bags

* My kids and I find funny things to laugh about together at dinner (usually about our what ridiculous things happened to us in the day).  I ask questions like, “What is the funniest part of your day?”, “Who made you laugh today?”, “What is the weirdest thing you saw?”

* We try to find funny movies or TV shows that will make us laugh too (we watch them together once a week – The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family are loved in our house)

* My daughter learned about Pinterest a month ago and we now send each other funny pictures

* Before getting up each morning I think about all the things in my life that are good.  I start my day off grateful (I am not going to lie, it can end in a slightly less positive way and others days I am too tired to feel anything except like having a large glass of wine but starting this way changes how I approach things)

* I surround myself with people that also bring happiness and laughter and limit my time with people who cannot see the bright side.  I am lucky enough to have friends and co-workers that spend very little time telling me about all the things that aren’t working or at least are able to have a laugh about how it all fell apart

* This week I also followed my own advice and put jokes and quotes in my kids lunches and in funny places around the house.  It was really nice to hear giggles or to think of them laughing as they opened their lunch

Through this deployment, I have made it my mission to laugh, find the positives and not harp on all that is annoying, frustrating, resentment causing, or just plain maddening (there is plenty of that but no one really wants to hear about it all the time).  While I acknowledge those feelings and don’t ignore them completely,  I don’t let them define the day either.  Being bitter and twisted isn’t going to help my kids or make those around me want to be there.  Laugh – it is free and there are always people that have it harder than you do.

 For more information about our tips, books and resources go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week 22


Sleep – Tip #59

Sleep

When I wrote this tip I was trying to work through a reintegration with my husband after a long deployment.  I was sleep deprived (working full time and trying to look after 2 children – under 3 years old at the time).  I knew that sleep was important and once I followed my own advice the world seemed like a much better place and my husband instantly became more reasonable!  Jump ahead now to our current deployment and I am still struggling to get enough sleep so that the people around me love me rather than fear me.

I know that sleep is something that needs to become a priority when trying to survive a deployment but is MUCH easier said than done.  There are nights when I am totally committed to getting to bed and actually turning off the light and going to sleep early.  I am struggling to move from thinking about doing it to actually doing it…

Over the years I have discovered that not only am I more sane when I have slept more but also that I eat better and this results in me not gaining tons of weight and feeling even worse.  The National Sleep Registry says that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  9 hours of sleep makes me happier, I eat less, I react less and I am generally a more reasonable and pleasant person to be around.  Knowing this doesn’t seem to help me though and on average I am only getting 6-6.5 hours of sleep right now.  This past week I decided that my “Living It” should be to commit to my own advice of getting enough sleep.

Things I accomplished:

*I turned off my phone rather than just plugging it in (I often hear the vibration and then check it so that stopped that bad habit)

* I have stopped using my bedroom to watch TV in – I will often fall asleep watching a show and then wake up at crazy hours

* I have reinforced a regular nightly routine with the kids (there were nights this week when I was ready for bed before they were!)

* I have been cooking dinner 30mins earlier so that I can get things done after dinner a few minutes sooner and I am not awake because I still have energy from the food I ate at dinner

* I stopped eating or drinking anything after 7pm

This week I definitely felt better, was more cheerful and I wish I could tell you I ate less but… I am a stress eater so that will continue to be a work in progress.  The bottom line for this tip is that sleep is something we need to make more time for as it makes the times you are awake so much nicer – if you truly follow this tip, it will also help you to survive deployments, reunions and all the other things military life throws your way a little better.

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

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