<![CDATA[Paulette Moore Cert. Autism Specialist - so then i tried...]]>Mon, 07 Dec 2015 21:20:50 -0330Weebly<![CDATA[It’s beginning to look a lot like sensory overload]]>Mon, 07 Dec 2015 16:20:34 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-sensory-overloadPicture
It is that time of year again.  Lights are twinkling, carols are playing and scented candles are burning.  It is also the time of year we tend to do the most socializing.  This can mean sensory overload for individuals on the ASD spectrum.  If you are part of this community you have probably already been overloaded with articles on ways to reduce sensory stimulation, but since this is the season of excess I thought I would add one more to the mix. Here are some of my suggestions for a more Silent Night.

Home for the Holidays

​First of all don’t feel you have to attend everything.  There is often family and social pressure to leave your house and enter into environments that are not only unfamiliar but also full of sensory stimulation.  If you are a person with ASD or a parent of a person with ASD you know how stressful that can be. Go only if you can and stay only as long as you can.  Christmas is a time of love, those who love you will understand.  There are lots of times of the year to practice social situations. Christmas may not be the best time.  

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

It can be hard to meet the sensory needs of kids with ASD this time of year but not impossible.  It might just take a little creativity. I find outdoor activities can be great.  Just walking and digging through the snow provides great deep pressure feedback.  You can make it snow inside too with bins of rice or fake snow. And lets not forget a lovely epsom salts bubble bath.  Make it snow in the tub and let your child relax and regulate.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Remember that individuals with ASD may interpret situations differently than others and are not always able to express this effectively. Little ones may have melt downs because the environment is too overwhelming.  They may be afraid of all those decorations that can begin making music or lighting up with out warning. They may wonder when social events are ever going to end? They may be worried about being “attacked” by great aunties who want to kiss and hug them. Predictability is so important, especially this time of year.

This is the time of year to really break out the social stories and visual schedules.  And remember to make them detailed, just because we understand the natural unfolding of a social event does not mean our child with ASD will. My own daughter loves our Christmas Eve afternoon party. She looks forward to it all year. But it is still an immensely overwhelming time for her. I always did a schedule for her to follow so it could be more predictable. Still at the end of the party, when the last event on her schedule was completed, she would ask people to go home. It was a problem.

​Then after many years (I am not a quick study) I realized what the problem was and added one more event to her list, small talk.  I told her it was the thing people liked to do at the end of parties before they head out the door.  She expressed that this was not an activity she enjoyed and I said that was fine, she could excuse herself from this but others were welcome to stay and partake. Problem solved!  She just needed to understand what was happening and I needed to understand what she needed.  

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

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​For some kiddos this can be terrifying.  The idea of a strange man sneaking into their house while they are sleeping can strike fear in their hearts.  To be honest unless that man was Chris Pine or Jake from Scandal I’d be scared too.  You know your child best.  If this concept is going to scare the bejingle out of your child then let it go. Come up with your own Night Before Christmas.  Some families who have children who are particularly surprise adverse let them see their presents before they are wrapped.  Remember, it doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s Christmas to be a great Christmas.   

So from my house to yours, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and calm and regulated new year.  
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<![CDATA[Relief is in sight!]]>Fri, 15 May 2015 15:37:02 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/relief-is-in-sightPicture
Do you have dark circles under your eyes? 
Are the prints of your fingernails imbedded in your palms? Are you pouring your breakfast from a bottle with a cork? Do you get nauseated at the sight of a school bag? If you have these symptoms you may have the serious, potentially life shortening syndrome known as Autism School Stress or ASS. 

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ASS can cause a parent of a child with autism to feel real pain. And by this time of year the pain in the ASS is quite significant.  You may wonder if you can keep going.  Is living with this syndrome worth it? But fear not, relief is in sight.  The only known treatment for ASS pain is Summer Holidays (SH).  Summer Holidays is not a cure but it provides temporary relief of symptoms.  Like many treatments SH is not without its side effects. These may include feeling housebound, too much family time and the more serious side effect ICS (inclusion camp stress). 

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However, when compared to the extreme pain in the ASS caused by school, these symptoms are usually considered quite tolerable. Unfortunately this treatment is not readily available until the third week in June and the symptoms of ASS tend to increase as the year goes on. So hold on fellow ASS suffers. Just another few weeks of suffering and then a whole summer of symptom free living… Although I may still pour my breakfast from a bottle with cork :)

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<![CDATA[just be kind]]>Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:35:40 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/just-be-kindPicture
Well it’s that time of year again... Autism Awareness Day. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if you are reading this blog you are already aware of autism. You are aware of the definition. You are aware that the numbers are high and the prevalence is growing. You are probably aware that the autism colour is blue and that when you see a primary colour puzzle piece it probably represents Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are parent of a individual on the spectrum or a person on the spectrum yourself you are probably aware of a whole lot more. And you may wish you could share that awareness with others, but you wish it was easier; that didn't take so much energy. I know I do. 

Autism is complicated and individual. It is probably unrealistic for me to expect everyone who encounters my children to really get it; to know all the triggers that bother them; to know how to help them regulate; to know what they can do; to know what they find hard. 
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So what would be realistic? What do I want people to be aware of on this day and everyday? Here it is ... I just want you to be kind! If my daughter needs to wear headphones in a restaurant, don’t judge... just be kind. If my son delays a few seconds as he processes what you said and prepares a response don’t rush... just be kind. If a child who looks to be too old to be lying on the floor of the grocery store is in fact doing just that, don’t raise your eyebrows or worse yet reprimand the parent... just be kind. 

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You don’t have to know that the twelve year old in Walmart is singing Dora songs because it makes her feel secure and blocks out the sound. You don’t have to understand that the child melting down in the doctor’s office is unable to express pain and fear any other way. You don’t have to know about sensory issues and Theory of Mind and anxiety and delayed processing and super duper memory abilities and on and on. You don’t have to know that the parents may be sleep deprived or have just come out of another stressful school meeting or had to work up a whole lot of nerve to head into Walmart today. I mean we would love it if you did, but we are not expecting that. You don’t have to understand it all... just be kind anyway. 

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Offer a kind comment... Offer a helping-hand... Stop staring... Stop judging... even if you think your judgement is silent. Because even if the individual you are kind to doesn't have autism; even if they are just having a bad day on the floor of the grocery store; a little kindness goes a long, long way. 

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<![CDATA[Parenting in pink]]>Thu, 22 Jan 2015 03:33:13 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/parenting-in-pinkPicture
I am about to wade into a splash pool of controversy.  A very small, shallow pool but still not a comfortable place for me.  Recently there was an article called Pathetic in Pink making its rounds on Facebook, penned by a woman who does NOT like the colour pink, or princesses or small, blonde, white girls.  I won’t include the article because it is, I believe inappropriate and hateful. The message is aggressive and the figurative language is used as a tool to express disgust. The subject of this woman’s tirade is children, a specific group of children, but children none the less. I was bothered by this article … a lot. 

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People who know me may think it is because I am a proud, pink wearing, tiara owning, mother of a blonde girl, kinda gal, and at first I wondered that too. But then I realized that I really could care less about someone else's opinion on the colour pink or any other colour for that matter.  There is a cacophony of pink bashing articles these days. It is the new craze. Do I think it is worth discussion? Not really. But then every one has their own soap box.

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What really bothered me about this article is the judgement. The choice this woman has made to judge others, even worse, judge other’s children based on appearance, based on what she thinks their lives are like. As an autism mom I know what it feels like to have my child judged. To see the looks and to recognize that someone is having a very negative thought about someone so precious to me.  The sting of judgment is not a feeling any parent should have. It is not a feeling that should be directed at any child.  I realize that this author was going for effect. That she was trying to stir controversy, get people talking. That she was using hyperbole to make a point. I get hyperbole. I love hyperbole. I have the word hyperbole set in pink diamonds across my tiara. I AM THE QUEEN OF HYPERBOLE. But those reasons do not negate responsibility. As women and mothers we have a responsibility to build other woman and children up not tear them down. It is time that we stop being such a judgey society. And if we can't manage to do that for other adults at least we should try to not judge children. Any children! All children! 

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I feel this woman’s hurt coming though her harsh words. She talks about the judgement her own daughter has faced.  I feel for her, we have shared that pain. But sadly one of the gifts this kind of adversity often gives you is empathy and compassion for others. She did not seem to get this gift. Perhaps it was wrapped in pink and she wouldn't open it.  

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<![CDATA[christmas gifts you can make yourself]]>Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:39:20 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/christmas-gifts-you-can-make-yourself
Christmas is almost upon us.  And for many parents of children on the spectrum it really feels “upon us” like a big reindeer sitting on our chest.  Not that we don’t love the season or love our children, but sometimes the two put together can be quite taxing.  Christmas is a time of socializing, stimulation, expectations and change. Many of our children struggle with these concepts and so we as parents struggle too. There are countless blogs on how to help your child cope with the holidays and what kinds of gifts might be suitable for a child with autism. This blog is not one of those.  
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This blog is about the gifts you can give yourself!

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The Gift of Low Expectations.
It is easy to get caught up in the idea of how Christmas should look. As autism parents we have had many experiences with things not turning out how we pictured them (school concerts, birthday parties, a trip to the grocery store). For Christmas this year I am giving myself the gift of low expectations.  No visions of family times gathered around singing carols and basking in each other’s company.  If we all end up in the same room as the tree while searching for the charger to the iPad then I will consider Christmas to be a social success.

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The Gift of Not Caring About the Opinions of Others.
This one is a tough gift to give and will take layers of wrapping in order to get the necessary thick skin. But it is a really good gift if assembled correctly. As long as my children are kind to others and happy themselves I will be satisfied. If they can’t manage small talk or refuse to wear a bra (the girl child not the boy) then I am not going to stress over it. I stress enough over that stuff all year. This Christmas my gift to myself is to let all that go, at least for Christmas week.

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The Gift of Down Time.
This Christmas I am not making anyone go anywhere they don’t want to go. It is not that I am a push over. I push my children out of their comfort zones daily.  It is actually my chief occupation, but for Christmas we are all getting the gift of down time.  With no guilt and no worry about what others think (because I will have already given myself gift number two and I will be using it liberally).

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And finally... I Am Giving Myself the Gift of Guilty Pleasures.
Instead of rushing to appointments and school and work and trying to do therapy and homework and all the many other commitments we typically have, I am going to enjoy hours, many guilt free hours, in the snuggle chair, in my pyjamas, eating fudge and binge watching Scandal; content in the fact that my kids are getting a great gift too, a happy and relaxed Mom. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 
from my family to yours!
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<![CDATA[What Scares me today!]]>Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:58:03 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/what-scares-me-todayPicture
Happy Halloween!  October 31st … the scariest day of the year.  October 31st is also the last day of Autism Awareness Month.  While the witches and goblins don’t scare me much there are other thoughts today that leave me shaking in my shoes. I am scared that this month of awareness is over and that perhaps the wrong messages have been learned. 

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Messages like:

People with autism must be getting lots of services and support because everyone is talking about autism.  (Information is great but it is only the first step.)

Individuals with autism must like puzzles, a lot, it is on all their stuff. (Ok yes, my child with autism does but not all do and it is hardly newsworthy enough to put a ribbon on my car about it. There is a bigger message here)

If I “light it up blue” I have done my part to support a family with autism. (Yes it is a nice gesture and we appreciate it but true support comes from being there, lending an ear and a hand and maybe even a child for a play date.)

What I wish is that Autism Awareness Month could become something more. Perhaps Autism “Yes I Really Get It Now” Month. 
What I wish could be learned this month is:

Individuals with autism are people. Not super heroes, or gifts from God given only to special parents who can handle them, or drains on society, or second class citizens, or Einsteins. They are people. I think often they are brave people, but then adversity will do that to a person.
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People with ASD do not need to be tolerated.  Perhaps some of their behavior does, so does mine, so does yours. They do need to be understood and accepted. Understanding breeds compassion.  When a person is struggling understanding and compassion go a long way. Individuals with ASD are no stranger to struggles, neither are parents of individuals with ASD. Nothing feels better than an encounter with someone who just “gets it”.

My hope is that today, October 31st, end of Autism Awareness month individuals with ASD and families of individuals with ASD will encounter more people who “get it” than they might have at the beginning of this month. That is a successful awareness month.
What does autism awareness month mean to you? Tell me about it.
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<![CDATA[Thankful for the Ride]]>Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:28:07 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/thankful-for-the-ridePicture
Parenting is a roller coaster of emotions.  Autism parenting is a very fast, very high, very intense roller coaster of emotions.  The kind of roller coaster you find in Bush Gardens. The kind I never get on.  But I am riding this one, everyday.  For the most part this ride involves a lot of screaming and holding on for dear life, but there are also times when the roller coaster crests for a minute and I get a chance to breath and feel something else … thankful. This thanksgiving weekend seems like a good time to talk about that emotion. 

I am thankful for my children, all their strengths, quirks, needs, stims, talents, special interests, everything. Every bit that makes them special and makes them mine.
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I am thankful for other ASD parents who ride the roller coaster with me and are there to discuss the ride, whether it be over wine or over the internet, they have my undying gratitude. Thank you!

I am thankful for social stories (thank you Carol Grey) and visuals and schedules and power cards and reward charts and all the things that make the lives of the many children I love easier.
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I am thankful for the waitress/ store clerk/ flight attendant/ hair dresser/ etc that I randomly cross paths with, who instantly get it and are kind to my children with out being patronizing.  Those people are gems.

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I am thankful for ipads, OMG I am so thankful for the ipad. Although I have guilt about the amount of time my child spends on it I value it for its calming and entertainment powers.

I am thankful for the teachers and doctors and other professionals that have come into my children’s’ lives and have been such a tremendous support to them and to me. You know who you are because I would have told you over and over and over. Well I am telling you again, Thank You!
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I am thankful for trampolines, puzzles, swings, clothes that have no tags, Dominion’s gluten free section, Rainbow Riders, fidgets toys, Disney, Shakespeare, yoga pants (for both Hayley and I ☺ ) supportive family, deep breathing and wine (that one is all me).

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Thank you my lovely blog followers, I am thankful for you. I hope your roller coaster crests long enough this weekend for you to feel thankful too. If not, know that I will be holding tight and screaming along with you.

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<![CDATA[It’s a Bird... It’s a Plane... It’s Super Amygdala!!!!]]>Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:17:37 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/its-a-bird-its-a-plane-its-super-amygdalaPicture
A diagnosis of ASD is made based on observable behaviours, but in recent years scientists are also able to learn more by looking at the brain through scans and post-mortem exams. Some studies suggest that the amygdala in individuals with autism is bigger and has more activity than in neuro-typical brains. More brain activity may sound like a good thing but in this case not so much. The amygdala is what I like to call the panic room.  It is where the urge to fight or flight resides.  It is a necessary part of the brain for survival but when overly activated it can cause a lot of anxiety. 

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Have you ever walked down a dark alley and heard footsteps behind you?  Ok first of all what are you doing? GET OUT OF THE ALLEY!! Stay safe and avoid the dark alleys. But if you have or have simply watched some one do it on TV (much more sensible) you know that feeling.  You might feel sweaty, your heart may race, you may feel ready to jump out of your skin. All in all not super pleasant.  This is how our kids are feeling a great deal of the time and not just in dark alleys, but also in school, in restaurants, in Wal-Mart (Oh Lordy, especially in Wal-Mart). This is why we sometimes see behaviors like aggression or running. This is fight or flight. Our children are simply responding to the perceived threat. It is biology.  

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I don’t like to brag but my child’s amygdala seems to be super advanced.  I mean really, really big. I am surprised she can lift her head.  So she lives in a state of fight or flight most of the time.  We have not been able to “fix” this and believe me it continues to be a problem but I have tried a couple of things that has helped. First and foremost I have tried to educate those around her. It is important that teachers understand the reason for the behaviours that may result from my daughter’s “super brain”.  I have found that giving her a safe place to run has helped. 

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During Hurricane Igor her amygdala was majorly fired up so I created a little storm shelter, a relaxing corner, that she could run too when that need over took her.  I have clients who have places in the school that they can go to when the need to run is too strong to rein in.  Of course we work on strategies to help a child calm before this need kicks in but sometimes that doesn’t work. This is why it is important to think ahead and provide a safe harbour.  In terms of the fight reflex, it is hard to fight with yourself.  So my advice is step away from the amygdala. Let the child calm down. Do not try to physically engage at this time (unless you have found a deep pressure activity that works for your child or obviously if your child’s safety is at risk).  

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These are not foolproof ideas and it is a work in progress in my home and many of the homes I know. But understanding how the brain works helps us understand our children and better understanding makes our brains a little more super too.

Does your child have a super amygdala? Want to brag/lament/muse about it here. Go ahead, I love it when parents share. 

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<![CDATA[I Don’t Want to Go Back to School - (A social story for parents)]]>Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:17:41 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/i-dont-want-to-go-back-to-school-a-social-story-for-parentsPicture
This week little Johnny/Joanie/Hayley is going back to school (even though I am in denial).

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This makes me feel a little nervous (I have been having school nightmares for weeks and I think my hair may be falling out)

I can be brave about Johnny/Joanie/ Hayley going back to school (wine can help). 

I can prepare the teachers with a little write up (plus multiple meetings, emails, and a bribe if necessary)
I can prepare by purchasing school supplies (and cutting the tags off all the most comfortable clothes I could find, laminating visuals, purchasing sensory equipment, preparing multiple social stories and upping my medications).
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My friends and family will be so proud that I am coping with this (when and if that day ever comes, right now they are barely tolerating my rantings). 

My child will be so proud that I am coping with this (my child couldn’t care less and really has enough concerns about going back of his or her own to worry about).

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I will be so proud of myself for coping (if I manage to let go of the back of my child’s coat with out school staff having to intervene I will reward myself with a martini and a whole cake).

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It is going to be a great year (it probably will be but I will still be like this again next September ☺ ).

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<![CDATA[Autumn, Anxiety and advent calendars]]>Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:33:21 GMThttp://www.scgpaulette.com/so-then-i-tried/autumn-anxiety-and-advent-calendarsPicture
Well it is nearly that time of year again. The time when our children have to take off their pyjamas, put down their iPads and face the outside world again. At least that’s what going back to school means in my house. This transition can be riddled with anxiety and fear, but enough about us parents, it’s not easy for our kids either.  So what can we do to make the transition easier? 

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Some of the things I have tried I’m sure you guys are trying too. In the two weeks leading up to school I start to adjust bedtime and wake time bit by bit until it resembles the school year schedule.  We schedule things like haircuts, outing to pick out a new book bag and the like to make it feel celebratory.  For some of my really reluctant little students I have even recommended a “next grade” party. Something that celebrates the move to a higher grade complete with a present and of course cake.  Social stories are a staple in this house and going back to school requires a good one.  Last year’s story focused on the idea that going to school was Hayley’s job just like my job was to look after her and work so I could buy her treats. This year’s will focus on the move to high school and the importance of working hard to learn about the various subjects. My social story this year will be about not drinking martinis in the school parking lot and then storming the office shouting “I’m not ready for high school”.  I am thinking I may need a more intense intervention.

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For the people who know me they know there is one word that comes up often in program planning.  That word is advent calendar.  That’s right, they are not just for Christmas anymore. I use advent calendars for everything. Potty training? Make an advent calendar. Going on a trip? You need an advent calendar for sure.  For those who don’t know me so well you may be thinking "what kind of foolishness is this, has this woman spent too much time with the Christmas Wishbook" (for the record … yes!). The advent calendar idea is simply a way to count down to an event, especially an event that may have associated anxiety. For school I usually start about 5 days before but you know your own children best and may choose to have more days or less in the countdown.  I have little gifts that will prepare the child for the event.  In this case school, so school supplies (fun ones) are a good choice.  You can use numbered gift bags or little boxes, some families go all in and make little doors in a cardboard box that their child can open each day.  No matter what way you do it the idea is that your child will open a small gift each day as a way to count down to the first day of school.  This pairs a positive feeling with the idea of returning to school and helps your child slowly adjust to the idea of the transition.  For those parents who feel they need an advent calendar too may I suggest you get your inspiration from the inside of a mini bar. But that is a whole other blog post. 

These are just some of the ideas I have tried. I’d love to hear yours. Write me quick, first day of school is coming.  
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