The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Archive for December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Christmas TreeTomorrow, my family will celebrate Christmas.

My kids will wake up and run downstairs to see what gifts they have from mom, dad and most importantly — Santa!

Through all of the scattered wrapping paper and squeals of excitement (and perhaps moans of disappointment too, lol), my heart will delight in the time we share as a family.

While their main focus may be on the gifts under the tree, I continue to remind my kids of the greatest gift of all — Jesus. But, my discussions about Jesus, God and faith, in general, center around love.

So, we talk about the ways we have shared God’s love with others this holiday season, including food and toy donations to the local animal shelter, gifts for the adopt-a-family with my son’s scout troop, sharing our toys with each other and friends who visit, and for my three year old a biggie — “using your words and not hitting or pushing.”

Some say Christians shouldn’t teach their kids to believe in Santa because Santa isn’t in the Bible. Since I haven’t read the good book from cover to cover, then I’ll have to take their word for it. However, does every saint or saintly figure have to be mentioned in the Bible in order to offer something good and positive to the world?

I guess that’s up to each parent and each family to determine.

I love that both of my children believe in Santa… and not just because of the naughty/nice list leverage. Santa extends the gift of God’s love by reinforcing Christ’s teachings of giving and kindness– in a form that crosses the boundaries of race, religion, culture, ethnicity, geography and more.

But beyond all of that, it’s just plain old fun.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Written by Shara

December 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Looking Forward

Looking Forward: Happy New Year 2013Yesterday, I took a snack break (part of the Special K diet to get ready for my best friend’s wedding next weekend) and I watched the Steve Harvey show.

Steve is a funny guy and I always enjoy watching when I have the chance. But Steve is beyond funny, he’s really inspirational, he’s like Mr. Oprah.

On Steve’s show yesterday, there was a dad who is self-employed and a work-a-holic. His kids took him out on the town for a day sans electronics. It was an intervention to convey how much they needed his time and attention too.

I don’t think that I’m a work-a-holic, but I could relate with this dad. He felt that he needed to work at every moment of every day to provide for his children. I feel that way too and I know sometimes I’m working on their time. [insert mom guilt here.]

Steve shared that he used to do the same thing and called it “working hard not to fail” versus working to succeed. This reminded me of an “aha!” moment that I had earlier this month when I realized that I am fully aware of what I’m running from, but not really clear on what I’m running toward. I think about who I don’t want to be every day, but I need to start embracing who I already am and who I’m striving to be.

Each year, I draft an outline of my personal and professional goals for the new year and it’s a great exercise, but this year I plan to simplify things. My only goal is to get clear on what I want for and in my life. Simple enough, right?!

Maybe it’s just too hard to peg down what I’m looking forward to in this life. I have colleagues who have been trying to get me to create a vision board for years and I just haven’t been able to find photos that best represent a vision for my life in such a finite way. Maybe I should just randomly pick a few from my Pinterests boards…

I remember a few years ago trying to read The Purpose Driven Life. I’m not really sure what happened with that exercise, but I didn’t quite figure out my purpose– other than being a mom and helping others. I know, shocking!

Well, here I go again, but this time I have a different mindset to approach this task. I’m looking forward to being able to clearly articulate what I’m running toward. I’m looking forward to starting a daily focus on embracing my vision. For 2013, I’m looking forward.

Written by Shara

December 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Fear of the Unknown

Newtown Angels

Today my heart is heavy. Today, I grieve with the rest of the country about a senseless tragedy that would take the lives of 20 beautiful and innocent children and six of their teachers and administrators.

Even through my tears, my heart is heavier still at the talk about Autism or Aspberger’s being the root cause of this violence.

People fear what they don’t know and what they don’t understand.

In the days, months and even years to come, our society will look for answers and work to create a profile of the person behind this tragedy in hopes of preventing another. The answers may lead us to find out that there was an Autism diagnosis, but let’s not allow that to become the center focus of this horrific event.

As mom to an Aspie child, I know first-hand the fear of the unknown. For almost eight years, we didn’t have a diagnosis other than a “developmental delay” and it was hard not knowing what we as a family were dealing with and the best ways to support my child. I was afraid. But that fear led me to search for answers to my questions and the more I read, the more I knew, the more I understood, but it doesn’t stop there.

I realized that the best way to know what challenges my child faces is to get to know my child for myself and not just through some book or video. Having an Aspberger’s diagnosis doesn’t mean that the playbook is written for my child or for anyone else. There are tools and techniques that certainly help to light the way, but just as with any child, you have to get to know your child and what their unique needs and interests are.

I also believe that a little common sense goes a long way. My child is very caring, compassionate and loving, as described by those who know him– not just me. He is being raised to value all life and help those in need.

Many children on the Autism spectrum have an obsession with something: a toy, a character, a movie, a subject matter. My son’s obsession is trains. Not guns and not violence. And while I’m not saying all guns are bad, I AM saying that we all need to be careful of what we introduce into our children’s lives, whether they have an Autism diagnosis or not.

As President Obama shared at the memorial service yesterday, “If there’s even one step we can take to save one child, or one parent, or one town from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.” And that obligation falls beyond the votes of our legislators and into our own homes.

May God bless the families of the lost and the community of Newtown, CT.

Written by Shara

December 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Improving Our Vocabulary… Together

The usual after school dialogue:

ME: So, how was school today?
N: Good
ME: Did anything fun or exciting happen?
N: Not really.

The End. Close the book. Good night.

My son has a fantastic vocabulary for a 10 year old, heck I’d even say for a 20 year old, but getting him to use it is… well, like pulling teeth. No seriously, pulling teeth might even be easier.

So, I’ve instituted daily dialogues. The goal is to help him practice speaking in full, expanded sentences with descriptive words. We try not to use words like “good” or “great”, since his teacher calls these “garbage words.”

Our little dialogue time has proved to be very beneficial… for me. Guess who else uses a lot of garbage words and jargon all of the time? In this fast-paced life of 140-character tweets and minimal text messaging, it’s no wonder I can eke out a coherent sentence or two on a regular basis.

So I’m grateful for our daily dialogues. This little experiment may turn out to be precisely what we both need.

Cheers to improving our vocabulary, together!

Written by Shara

December 7, 2012 at 3:26 am

Posted in Learning Together