We interrupt our usual programming this morning to share a couple of utterly fabulous ideas from Diary readers. I can take no credit for either of these – at least not yet. Perhaps when the statute of limitations is up, then I can start claiming them as my own.
In the meantime, I give you two totally unrelated yet equally wonderful ideas — the journal and the paper chain*.
Do with them as you will.
*Ed note: Doesn’t that sound like the title of an Encyclopedia Brown caper? The Case of the Journal and the Paper Chain. No? Just me? Moving on.
Image from Jenni Bick Bookbinding
Just an idea…something I do with my daughter. We have a notebook that is just for us. We write notes back and forth to each other. Sometimes silly jokes, sometimes just a note that says “I love you” and sometimes we pour our heart out. There are days when we write often and then times when we go days without even opening it…it ebbs and flows, nothing forced or scheduled. She treasures it and I treasure the bond it creates between us.
The very next day, I stopped off on the way home from work and bought a journal. I borrowed a pen and then and there – right in the middle of the store – began what I am now sure will be a lifelong correspondence with my daughter. The only thing I will be sharing from that notebook is its very first entry.
My Sweet Katie,
This journal is just for us, my love. For notes, drawings, random thoughts between you and me. Any time we want, for no one’s eyes but ours.
I love you, Katie. I’m so, so proud of you and nothing in this world makes me happier than being your mama.
[Our super secret version of I love you]
I wrapped it in ribbon and brought it home. I handed it to Katie in a quiet moment when no one else was around. We decided where it would live and established the only rule – there can be no rules.
I envision us reading the entries together over the years. Revisiting stacks of filled journals as Katie goes off to college; moves into her first apartment; when she has children of her own.
In two days, there are already three more entries. They mean more to me, and I dare say to my girl, than I can possibly express. A space all our own – a place that belongs to no one but us. A place for my Katie to say what she wants – and needs – to say.
There is no greater gift.
Thank you, Kelly. From the bottom of my mushy mama’s heart. Thank you.
The Paper Chain
Click to enlarge.
No idea if that’s what ours will actually look like, but you get the point.
We have a trip coming up. A kinda big one. The kind with a lot of moving parts and the need for a fair amount of prep in order to make it successful for little Miss. I’ve been talking to friends and accumulating advice to help smooth our way.
Of all the tips that I gathered (like ‘When there are two queues and you have to choose between the right and the left, always choose left’. You’re welcome.) my favorite is the paper chain.
Brooke does very well – OK, she does well – traveling, but after more than one night away from home she begins to get anxious. No matter how much she may be enjoying the trip, she has trouble understanding how long we will be there and when we will be coming home.
Years ago, I started drawing out calendars. As soon as we reach our destination, we sit down together and map out our days. I draw in the plane or the car or the boat that got us to our destination and another on the day that we will be heading home. Each day, we write in our plans and each evening we mark off another day’s passing. Each and every day we count the days left and talk together about when we’ll be going home.
It has helped immensely, but it still isn’t perfect. Enter the paper chain.
In a conversation earlier this week, my friend Carrie shared what she did for her little guy on their last vacation. Instead of a calendar, she made him a good old-fashioned construction paper chain. Each day of their trip was represented by a link. After each day was over, its link was removed. The chain got smaller and smaller as the week went by.
I can’t tell you how much I love the simple brilliance of this idea. My girl NEEDS a way to see the days passing. She needs a tangible representation of how much longer the trip will last and when we will be headed home. She can see the chain. She can touch it and feel it and hold it. She can even decorate the links or draw the day’s activities on them. She can control it. The possibilities are endless.
And even better, it can be used in any situation where time or patience are an issue. Waiting room? The links can represent five-minute increments. Days before school starts at the end of the summer? Got it covered.
Thank you, Carrie. This one’s going straight into the toolbox.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make our children’s lives easier and the smallest gifts that can make them immeasurably richer. Thank you so much again to both Carrie and Kelli for taking the time to share the things that worked in their lives with us.
If YOU have any ideas that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’d absolutely love to hear them.
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