We are in the throes of the holiday seasons and no matter how your Thanksgiving turned out, I hope these few words will encourage you to face Christmas with healthy, hopeful expectations. If you need a fresh start because Thanksgiving was a disaster, not to worry - we’ve all been there for various reasons and we don’t have to let it color our Christmas.
Pressure Cooker Fails
This is not going to turn into a food blog, although food is one of my favorite things. I think we can all agree that there is a lot of pressure that comes with the holidays. Calendars get filled with all sorts of extra things from recitals to parties to end of year commitments. It is said that people spend around 20% more than their budget during this time of year - so many gifts to buy, baked goods to deliver, big meals to prep, unusual travel. And none of these things could necessarily be categorized as “bad things.” Who doesn’t love to be home for the holidays or see the face light up with the perfect gift or the memories made over holiday cookies?
And yet so many of us find ourselves running on fumes, stressed out and exhausted by the time the festivities are over. Perhaps there is a different way to take what is good and let it stay good so that we don’t explode with the added pressure of trying to make it more than it needs to be.
Christmas is a beautiful time of year, filled with expectation and excitement - that literally was the first Christmas experience! The long-awaited Messiah, finally come. And there was plenty of stress that came along with the story - mandated cross country move, housing struggles, first time labor without family support, etc. Maybe we can allow ourselves to let the challenges that come not lessen the actual good that is still present? So the cookies got a little burned - add some more frosting or dunk it in milk or hot coco. But even in the harder times - an unexpected life flight or cancellation of a much desired trip to be with family or financial struggle - I truly do think it’s possible to not have to positive-think the negative away, but to actually still find what is good in the midst of the bad. Coping with disappointments in a healthy manner can help us all stay grounded in reality and not miss out on what we still have to enjoy.
Holidays can be hard to celebrate when loss has struck our lives. The pressures of being extra-social or happy or motivated can feel even more painful when our hearts are missing a loved one, no matter how long it’s been since he/she passed. Emotions can be like waves - the comfortable feelings and the uncomfortable ones come and go. Sometimes the waves can be a little scary to ride because they can be so big. Are there others nearby (physically or by tech) who can ride the waves with you? Are there special ways you can remember and honor your loved one by hanging a special decoration or keeping up a tradition or giving time to share memories? Maybe finding ways to allow your grief to be an acceptable part of your celebrations will help you ride through the waves this year.
Celebrating What’s Important
There may be stats out there that show 3 holiday parties, 7 plates of cookies for neighbors and coworkers, and 1 gift of $16.50 or less per family member are the makings for a stress-free holiday, but numbers have never been my strong suit. May I suggest that we take a little time to reflect on what is really important to us during our celebrations? And if we can prioritize what really matters and allow the disappointments that come to not derail us, perhaps we can still give and receive the good things that we all really need and want anyway: being loved and loving in return. Christmas at its best.
The things we choose to celebrate
Have you ever taken the time to look at one of those calendars that shows all of the National Holidays and Observances for a given month?
As I struggled to choose the topic for our blog this week, I decided to take a peek at the highlights for November in hopes of finding some inspiration; and I found myself a bit overwhelmed, and more than a tad amused at many of the things that we “celebrate”.
Here’s the list just for the third week in November:
Monday World Kindness Day, Sadie Hawkins Day
Tuesday Loosen Up/Lighten Up Day; American Teddy Bear Day; World Diabetes Day;
National Spicy Guacamole Day; National Pickle Day; Family PJ Day
Wednesday National I Love to Write Day; National Philanthropy Day; America Recycles Day;
National Clean Out Your Fridge Day; National Drummer Day; Raisin Bran Cereal
Thursday International Day for Tolerance; National Button Day; Have a Party With Your
Bear Day (not to be confused with American Teddy Bear Day-see above);
National Fast-Food Day; National Black Marketers’ Day
Friday Homemade Bread Day; Take A Hike Day; World Prematurity Day; Use Less
Stuff Day; Great American Smoke out Day
Saturday Occult Day; National Apple Cider Day; International Stand Up to Bullying Day
Sunday Family Volunteer Day; National Adoption Day; National Camp Day; National
Integration Day; Play Monopoly Day; Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
In total, there are currently 120 “day” celebrations; 12 observances that last a week; and 36 that get the whole month in November.
Many of these are very obviously worthy of pausing to consider, commemorate, and honor such as Veterans and Military Families and Educators.
Others . . . well . . . do Banana Pudding and Pepper really need a whole month, and should “Use Your Common Sense” only get one day?
In truth, pondering this list distracted me even further from completing my blog. Instead, I had so many questions . . . mostly in regard to just who decides what makes the list. What are the criteria that must be met in order to get a day a week or even a month? Who votes? Is there a limit as to the number that can be included? Afterall, those squares on the calendar are pretty small!
It led me to think about the deeper concept of what we, as humans, as individuals and as societies value; and why, perhaps it can be so overwhelming to set our priorities and focus our energies when there is so much competing for our attention, our affection, our time and our money.
It forced me to think about the things I value, as well. And not just value, but that I take for granted. That has actually been something I’ve given a lot of thought to, especially over the last several months as I’ve started to work more closely with the families, we serve through our Patient Advocacy program. Hearing their stories, and the incredible challenges that many of them face as they live with the reality of having a child who is ill, makes me realize most of my struggle's pale in comparison. In fact, while we all have things in our lives that we wish we didn’t have to deal with . . . I think most would agree, nothing is more heartbreaking than having a child who is suffering.
For these families, their calendars don’t have space for National Cook for Your Pet Day, or Jellyfish Day, or Vinegar Day. They are filled with doctor’s appointments, and therapy appointments, and schedules that revolve entirely around caring for their child and trying to keep it all together. Theirs are just put one foot in front of the other day, make it through one more day - days.
Do you know a family like this? My guess is you do, but you don’t know how to help. Perhaps you ARE a family like this, but you are afraid to ask for help. Wherever you find yourself, my best advice is to REACH OUT! There are so many ways we can support each other, and so many resources available to those who need assistance.
That is the purpose of our Patient Advocacy Program at the Olivia Caldwell Foundation. We work to help families get connected to resources. Sometimes that means finding goods and services, but sometimes it’s connecting them with other people who can lend a hand or just an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on . . . small things that can make the Day-to-Day days so much easier!
So, as we head into these months, full of holidays, celebrations, commemorations, and commitments . . . I encourage you to make room in those tiny, crowded calendar squares to take care of yourself, and to look for opportunities to help others.
By the way . . . November happens to be National Family Caregivers Month and Gratitude Month! Now those are worth celebrating!
What I’ve Learned So Far
There’s So Much I Didn’t Know
I have been blessed in my career to have had some amazing jobs. I spent many years working in the non-profit sector. I’ve coordinated large events, worked in a cancer treatment center, and managed a senior/assisted living community. For the most part, the majority of my professional life has been spent in settings where I felt like the work, I was doing had value. So, when I made the decision a couple of years ago to “retire”; it didn’t take long before the feeling that I was somehow worth-less, started creeping in. I missed working, but more specifically . . . I missed doing meaningful work.
I started looking for opportunities and was thrilled when I was hired for the position of Foundation Assistant with the Olivia Caldwell Foundation! I began working for the OCF in March of this year.
Being the “new kid” is always a bit intimidating, but I have been welcomed warmly by the other members of the staff and by the OCF Board of Directors and have found a great mentor and friend in Katelin Gitthens, the lead of the Patient Advocacy Program, with whom I work most closely. Although I do have a well-defined job description, this position is new to the organization, and that means we’ve been doing a fair amount of figuring it out as we go.
The Patient Advocacy Program is also relatively new to the OCF. It has been in existence for about a year and a half. The PAP focuses on addressing the needs of the whole family when a child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or medically complicated condition. We provide support and connections to resources that assist with travel expenses, childcare, school accommodations, medical support and equipment, food assistance, counseling, and anything else a family needs throughout their child's illness.
We work with families from around the state, and the support we connect them to comes from a wide range of sources; from large national organizations, to state and local government agencies, to non-profits, to individuals who just want to help. One of my main responsibilities is to help manage these resources. As I’ve been researching and reaching out to these various partners, it’s been amazing to see the breadth and depth of support that is available. Many of these organizations have origin stories much like the OCF . . . where an unimaginable loss ignited a passion to help others going through a similar experience.
As heartening as it has been to learn about all these wonderful programs . . . it’s also been quite sobering to learn how great the need for them is.
We get referrals nearly every day; either families calling us directly, or from other service providers or representatives calling on their behalf. Some of them are facing short-term issues and their needs are easily addressed, others are facing catastrophic situations, with complex health conditions that are going to be on-going and require numerous resources throughout the life of the child. Regardless of the scenario, it’s always frightening to have a child that is hurting. However, even in the midst of their circumstances, the strength, courage, and resilience of these families is awe-inspiring.
So, what have I learned so far?
There are many awesome organizations and agencies in Wyoming, and elsewhere, staffed by dedicated people with a passion for serving others; and there are so very many families with sick children in need of their support. I am blessed to be working for the Olivia Caldwell Foundation, where, in some small way, I have the opportunity to help bring these two groups together. It is work with a purpose, and I am so grateful.
Life Doesn’t Always Go as Planned
Life doesn't always go as we planned. We lay things out and then curve balls come flying in hot. We map out just how life is gonna go in our minds and then BOOM, it falls apart and takes you on a whole different path. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't like the reasons or the events.
When I was younger I thought for sure I would be a teacher. Then I went through the idea of being an attorney, world class chef or maybe even a nurse. I ended up in Massage Therapy school, and never even used my license. Through the years I have taken many online courses and certifications in a variety of fields. I have worked in childcare, financial institutes, government buildings, a grocery store, food industry, customer service, cleaning industry, in-home care and school system. And for fun, I am an Ordained Minister. Lets just say it has taken me a long path to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I enjoyed all the avenues I went through along the way. Some more than others and I feel along the way I have always shown I can excel in anything I do. Luckily, I have landed in a position where I get to use all my past experiences. I feel like I had to go through all of those to lead me right where I'm meant to be and am able to use all those learning experiences in my day to day ventures.
That is really all you can do. Take the hand you are dealt and play it out. The key is to use every aspect as a learning curve. It is safe to say that along the way you're gonna encounter some mighty curve balls, and you're gonna have to climb some pretty big mountains to get where you need or want to be.
What did you dream of becoming when you were younger? Is that what you do now? Or did life throw you all over the place and give you some curveballs of your own that you have had to navigate through? Was there something you swore you would never do and here you are doing it?! Do you feel stuck where you are at? Needing to revamp or spruce up your everyday life?!
Sit back and evaluate. I know that when people ask me where I see myself in 5 years…I panic! UM, look, I’m just trying to make it through day to day. Did you know that is actually one of the hardest questions to answer? It is proven most people don't even KNOW what they will be doing in 2 weeks let alone 5 years! I mean they can assume and have a solid plan, but life happens. Fifteen year old me saw myself at the age of 36 being rich off my own law firm, having 2 kids and living at the beach. Well here I am, living in the country, with 3 kids and I would say the only things I'm rich in are love and animals. I wouldn't change it for the world honestly.
I can tell you a lot of the doubt that comes with not being where you thought you would be is lack of confidence. So what, you didn't go to law school or become a doctor. You have gone through more jobs in your 20’s than you have pairs of underwear. And frankly your surroundings aren't where you exactly thought you would be. If you find yourself double guessing yourself and questioning if you are where you want/need to be, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Write down pros and cons. Maybe make a dream board and evaluate if what you're doing now will get you where you want to be later. Try to factor in all your life lessons and experiences. Have certain things made you have a different perspective? Use that to help guide you where you want to go next. Just because you aren't exactly where you thought you would be, don't be discouraged or upset. Take it as it is. But also be careful not to use your past experiences as excuses for poor choices or lack of drive in your day today. Only you can be in charge of how you handle your life. Only you can choose your future. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to have the confidence that you are made for great things, even if those great things aren't as you pictured to begin with. Life changes, the world evolves and so do you.
Keeping It Together
I suppose a blog could go a lot of ways with a title like this. I’m actually talking about literally keeping it all together - as in your child’s medical files. If you have a kiddo dealing with more than common childhood bumps, bruises, breaks and illnesses, keeping track of all the information from labs, meds and doctors can be a real feat. If you don’t have all of the right information at the right time, it can cause some hold ups in the process of helping your child get the care that he or she may need. So let’s talk ideas on how to do our best to keep it together.
Not all - and we get that - but most of us have some form of device that can take a photo and store it. We typically carry that thing around with us all, if not most, of the time. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can capture images of your child’s paperwork and keep them in folders that are easily accessible. You can carry these to any and every appointment and have it right there with you at check ins or when visiting with the provider. This can also be a plus when trying to make appointments. GoogleKeep is one of those apps, among others, that help organize photos and give a place for notes, lists and sharing. This capability can be great if one parent takes a kiddo to one appointment because it fits her schedule and the next appointment fits his - with the shared documents, it will all be right there for whoever needs it.
For those of us who still love our paper - hand raised high here! - there are some great tips and tools out there for compiling medical information into notebooks and journals. If this works better for you and you can remember to carry it with you, be sure to always keep it updated. If you need tabs to help you keep things organized, like “medications” or “lab work” or a doctor, this can help you quickly find what you need when you need it. You can leave space in here with places you can take notes when you’re on the phone or in an appointment. This route can be handy if a copy needs to be made.
But How Do I Get It?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to get records for various reasons. It can be a challenge sometimes for records to get passed around to the different offices that may need them, so if you can get your hands on a copy (paper or digital) that can help with some of the communication challenges. You have a right to your child’s records. You can call the provider’s office or stop in or get a copy mailed to you. In a perfect world all of the technology and exchanges of information would run smoothly and on time. And we all know that we don’t live in that world. It is ok to make sure you have what you need from your child’s medical records in order to coordinate care with other providers. Errors may happen for a myriad of reasons, so gently stick to your guns and make sure that you have everything because you, as the parent/guardian of your child, will always be the hub of information in each appointment (or phone call).
However you find a system that works for you, be sure to keep it all together. It will save you some headaches and keep communication open and more clear with your child’s providers as you all do your best to meet the needs of your child on his/her medical journey. For more tips or tricks or support in gathering and storing your child’s medical records, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-333-1273 and I’d be happy to help!
You want to give back to a cause that has impacted you, you want to better your community or you just want to be a part of a cause that is doing important work- but maybe you want to do more than just write a check…
Here are some fun ideas that help you help your cause of choice that goes beyond just a transaction.
10,000 Steps Challenge: The 10,000 step challenge requires participants to walk 10,000 steps a day for a length of time (e.g. a week or a month). Have your supporters accept pledges on how long they’ll last and have them monitor their steps (on their phones or Fitbits).
Community Serve-a-thon: Choose a volunteer activity that will benefit the community as a whole (e.g. raking leaves or park/beach clean-up) and ask friends and family members to pledge money to the individuals or teams in support of their work. Donate these funds to your favorite organization- talk about double the impact!!
Host a Yard Sale: Go around your neighborhood and ask for donations of items your neighbors are willing to part with and host a fundraiser yard sale where all proceeds are donated to your cause. Not only can people clean out their unused items, but you can make a huge difference while doing so. To make a greater impact consider asking a group of friends (or your church/community group) to do it with you so you can have more items.
Host a Parents-Night-Out: Every parent needs a night out every once in a while. If you have a space to be able to host a gaggle of kids, charge parents a fee (either hourly or a flat rate) for your babysitting services. Recruit a few friends so you can watch even more children and raise more funds. Make sure to have some fun events planned for the kids. A good time would be Valentine’s or just before Christmas when parents do their Christmas shopping.
Give it Up Challenge: Challenge friends and family to join you in giving up an everyday or weekly indulgence and donate the cost instead. This could be a daily coffee order, eating out, afternoon vending machine snack, etc. They can keep a log of how many times they give it up and donate that amount at the end of the challenge or they can donate every time to a peer to peer campaign so they stay honest throughout the challenge.
Host a Fun Run: People love signing up for a race to challenge them physically, but when coupled with benefitting a good cause, all the better. Add a fun twist to your run to make it stand out from all the other races: zombie run, turkey trot, color run, etc. Charge an admission fee which will be donated to your favorite charity.
Flash Mob: Pick a song, come up with choreography, and choose a location. Teach the choreography to a group of volunteers/friends. During the flash mob, have someone ask the observers for free-will donations.
Host a face-painting booth at a local event or race and ask for donations for each painted face. There are tons of races happening during the summer months so try contacting the event organizer and see if you they will waive the booth fee so your donation can be greater!
Run a Dog Wash: forget the traditional car wash fundraiser, people are definitely willing to pay to have their dogs washed so they don’t have to do it themselves.
Not only will you be helping your favorite organization by donating funds, you’ll also be helping spread awareness about the cause and the good they do. That may be equally as important for nonprofits as the financial gain. Make sure to reach out to your organization of choice so they can provide materials to hand out and help promote your event with their constituents.
However you choose to support your favorite cause, thank you for helping make this world a better place and by spreading some joy while doing so.
Empathy. What is this? The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The definition in itself is pretty simple looking. You feel sad, I feel sad. You mad? Let's be mad together. But when it comes to empathy or being an empath, there are so many aspects others may not realize. Empathy is a huge concept. Before we dig deeper into this, I want you to understand that empathy is NOT the same as sympathy. Many get them mixed up. What is the difference between empathy and sympathy? Sympathy involves understanding from your own perspective. Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings.
If you are unsure whether or not you are an empath, here are some traits typically found with empathy.
Empaths are not meant to be sponges or enablers, they are simply for help, support and guidance. During the holidays so many get extra stress from extra purchases, or they are missing a lost loved one deeply. Throughout these times of year, friends and family need the extra support. If you find yourself helping more, and really aren’t sure how to keep up with it all, here are some tips to help make the process easier on you.
1. Make your overall health and wellness a priority.
Don’t let taking care of others stop you from caring for yourself. Find activities that replenish your reserves and find ways to incorporate them into your schedule. Read a good book. Set aside time to pray or meditate. Listen to a soundtrack that soothes you. Take your dog on a walk or keep up with a regular exercise routine. Allow yourself some time to decompress and be alone when you need it. These little investments in your health can make a big difference.
2. Don’t be ashamed of your big heart.
Your empath traits make you a compassionate person and a cherished friend. Your ability to connect with the emotions of others is a blessing. But it will require awareness so you don’t become overly immersed in the emotional highs and lows of others. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate tough emotions and situations.
3. Remind yourself that saying no is not selfish.
Boundaries are important and can help prevent burnout. We all have a limited amount of time and resources to give. You can’t help everyone at all times. Be gracious with yourself as you decide what you’re able to handle and when you may need to step away or pass on something.
4. Allow yourself time to recharge and regroup.
Rest is so vital. Be honest when you are at max capacity. It may feel unnatural at first, and you’ll want to give people rationalizations, but knowing your limits and making your mental health a priority is nothing to be ashamed of.. Empaths often need time to be alone and recenter. Giving yourself blocks of time by yourself to recuperate is probably one of the most important things to remember.
Don’t forget. Just as you have a heart for helping others, there are people ready to help you, too. Please, if you are struggling, do not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we need tools to help us process our emotions or a trusted friend or counselor to listen. It takes strength to let someone in and evaluate when you may need additional assistance.
Mom, I'm Not Scared Anymore
My oldest son has been through a lot. Way more than a 10-year-old boy should ever have to go through. From the loss of his twin sister to brain cancer to his own battle with Type 1 Diabetes to adults disappointing him, he’s been through the wringer in more ways than one.
There was a time when our sweet little boy was so burdened by the difficulties he had faced that he couldn’t muster a smile for a single family photo. He would scowl and hide his face. He struggled to relate to other kids his age because he had walked through so much more life then they had. My husband and I have fought hard to help get him out of that place and to help our son find the joy that should come in childhood.
Last night I was laying with my little boy at bedtime just chatting about his day. He told me, “Mom, I realized something - I’m not sad anymore. And I’m not worried about anything anymore. Do you think that’s okay? Is there anything I should be worried about?”
It took everything in me to not burst into tears as I wrapped my arms around, and told him there is nothing for him to worry about. And it is a great thing that he just feels happy and safe these days!
As I finished tucking him in and walked out of his room, I was in awe as I reflected on the tremendous growth we’ve seen in our little boy. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him interact with his classmates and friends during a few year-end activities over the past two weeks and it has been such a joy to see him play and act like a joyful 10-year old kid! It’s such a simple thing, and yet such a huge victory!
It’s taken a lot of work to get to this place. We’ve sought help, we’ve had many, many tough days, but it has all been worth it to see our boy finally find joy in his own childhood. In fact, more often than not, he has the biggest, brightest smile in all of our family photos!
Our story might be completely different from yours. But if your kids are struggling with hard things, and your heart is aching as you watch them go through the ups and downs, please know there is help available for you! We have support groups in session now that are led by a licensed therapist that will help connect you with other parents who are going through similar mental health struggles with their own children.
These groups are meant to give parents a safe space to connect, work through their own feelings, and get ideas on how to tackle the tough pieces of childhood. If you are interested in joining one of our support groups, please visit https://www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org/support-groups.html and sign up. The groups are free! And are also completely confidential. Any parent, guardian or caregiver can attend these groups whether their child has a diagnosed mental health condition or is simply struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
If you have any questions about the groups, please feel free to reach out to anyone on the OCF Staff. Just know you don’t have to walk this tough road alone!
Never would I imagine I would get to the age where I love getting to bed early, reading a good book and seeing my garden grow. But here I am with seedlings growing in every windowsill of my house, finding it hard to stay up past 10pm and I head to the library every two weeks for a new book to read.
All of these activities have become a great way for me to relax and relieve stress. Life gets crazy with all of our responsibilities: raising kids, all the sports commitments, having a career, keeping friendships alive, working on your health, providing dinner every night and somehow keeping our houses somewhat clean amongst all of that.
I’ve always been a go-go-go type of person and I was starting to burn out. So I have made much more intentional time to slow down. I prioritize taking time to read a good book instead of watching tv. I get to bed at a decent time so I have enough energy to take on all of life’s responsibilities (which many times means the to-do list doesn’t get complete but life goes on). And I’ve found a new joy in growing a garden.
There’s something remarkable about an entire plant growing out of a tiny seed and even more exciting when it provides food for your family to eat. Now, I definitely don’t have a natural green thumb but I’m learning and it’s been a neat experience to include my kids in.
Let’s explore why gardening is a great stress reliever according to Elizabeth Scott, PhD:
Sunlight has been proven to improve mood. Everyone can benefit from more Vitamin D, especially those of us who have just experienced the prolonged winter months where sunlight was limited.
“Sunlight also provides an influx of vitamin D, and the fresh air that goes with it is good for your health. Getting outdoors to work with your garden is a great excuse to get more of this good stuff.”
Spending 30 minutes tending to your garden will give you extra sunlight you may not have had otherwise.
Connection To Nature
“Being in touch with nature and the great outdoors can help you feel more removed from the stressors of daily life. With the amount of time we spend indoors (at work, watching t.v., etc), many people feel an urge to connect with nature that goes unfulfilled.”
Most of us don’t have time everyday to go on hikes, go camping or do other activities that allow us to connect with nature but simply going to your garden and helping it flourish is a great way to help mother nature do exactly what it’s meant to do!
There’s something magical about taking a seed and watching it sprout. It’s exciting and I find myself rooting for the little plants to be fighters so they can all grow into mature plants.
Also, plants can add a great pop of color to any space.
“The beauty of nature is a great stress reliever in itself. Just think of how many times relaxation has been connected with pictures of stunning landscapes or recordings of nature’s sounds.”
Create a space in your yard that can become your garden sanctuary. If you live in a small space or apartment, find a space where you can have planters and watch how it improves your space.
How to get started
If you’re new to the gardening world I would recommend doing some research before getting started. You can certainly purchase your supplies but there are plenty of cost effective ways to create your own space as well.
Some seeds require indoor growth before planting outdoors so pay attention to these details on the seed packages. I do find the details on the back of the seed packets to be rather vague so take the time to do extra research on best methods for the plant you’re growing.
Don’t forget about local nurseries and growing clubs- these are a great place to purchase plants that are more mature and have a higher likelihood of growing to full potential.
A resource I’ve learned a lot about regrowing produce we already purchase from the store is @creative_explained on Instagram. It’s pretty amazing to learn how we can utilize the resources we already have to grow something new.
Living in a world full of information at our fingertips I know you can find what you need to grow a successful garden. Just keep in mind it may take a few seasons of trial and error and it’s more than okay to start small.
Please share any gardening tips you have in the comments!
Schools Out! Now what?
Congratulations to our Wyoming students, schools, and parents! You have made it or are weeks away from completing another year! There are challenges that come with every year and we want to cheer loud for you all who overcame and persevered!
A well deserved break has now come for most with the approach of summer. And parents may also be scrambling to figure out what to do next, especially if they work through the whole year! While it may come with its own challenges, summer can be a great time for new and different experiences for your family, even if you have a child diagnosed with a chronic illness or medically complex condition.
There are so many options out there for “childcare” during the summer that don't necessarily have to look like or feel like your child has a babysitter from June through August. Be sure to check out your local clubs, gyms, churches and other organizations to find out about their summer programs! Even if it is a shortened experience like a week-long camp, accommodations may be able to be made if your child needs certain support (help with checking blood sugar, medications, mobility, etc.). If you’d like to find a camp that is specific to your child’s experience in life with a medical condition, I can help point you in that direction as they do exist (pending location and diagnosis) and are wonderful programs! Some summer fun with old or new friends with plenty of learning opportunities on the life spectrum can continue to help shape your child into a neat young man or woman.
Summer is an opportunity for your kiddo to get other experiences that will help them in the future from work. There are lots of opportunities to explore, even if your child has a specific interest. There is plenty of yard work to be done! If a full time, independent job within the workforce is not where your kiddo is for various reasons (age, ability, illness), your neighbors may well appreciate a responsible young person who will water gardens, mow yards, and/or take care of pets while they are away. You can also think about ways they can do the same work at your own home - plant your own garden and watch the pay out with your child learning to enjoy some responsibility. The possibilities are endless! Start a conversation with your child and see what interests he or she has and watch them learn and grow. Being given the chance to contribute and discover sparks of passion can be so meaningful as they learn more about themselves!
We all know things are difficult right now on our pocket books. So how can we face that challenge of building family memories of togetherness and adventure without breaking the bank? Living in Wyoming, our rural status has its pros and cons. One pro is access to the great outdoors and some cool things to do in our own small towns. Whether it’s a picnic in a park, camping in the backyard, walking through a museum, or getting to the next town over to experience something different - we have options here that we can make special for our own family’s needs and abilities. Parents, don’t feel pressured or shamed for not being able to pack up the kids and head to Disney. Your kids will experience the love you have for them wherever you are together in your efforts to spend time with them.
Balancing a New Routine
Summer can feel euphoric with the promise of warm, sunny and carefree days. And if you care for a child with some form of special need, the change in routines and support systems found within the school can be a bumpy one. Remember that you can build another support system for these months and it can come in various forms. Keep doing all of the essentials for your kiddos - meds, doctor appointments, therapies, etc. - and see what opportunities there may be for you, too, to kick back and from some R&R this summer. If the school year is wrapping up too quickly for you and you’re starting to feel the panic rise over what to do with your kiddo(s) this summer, our Patient Advocacy Team is here to support you. Feel free to call, email or find us on the web to see how we can help you work through this summer transition! O:307.333.1273 email@example.com www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org
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