Saturday, January 26, 2013

Help a Great Cause! Vote for Camp Encourage!

Who Are They?
The mission of Camp Encourage is to "encourage social growth, independence, and self-esteem in youth with autism spectrum disorders through a quality, overnight camp experience located in the greater Kansas City area."  
The camp was founded in 2007, and the campers are chosen through a lottery system because the number of kids who want to attend far exceed the camp's capacity.  In 2011 the camper waiting list grew to 100 children, so in 2012 Camp Encourage did two camp sessions instead of one, allowing them to serve twice as many kids. They are currently looking into further expansion possibilities, as the number of children needing this important service continues to grow.  Want to know more about Camp Encourage? Visit them here!

My Personal Experience:
Last summer I had an incredible opportunity to volunteer as a cabin leader at Camp Encourage and had an AMAZING experience!  Camp Encourage is a summer camp outside Kansas City, MO that is specially designed to provide opportunities for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to socialize and practice independence safely (and it gives their parents a break too!).  The camp is set up with a rotation schedule that I found very clever because several different activities are happening at the same time (that way, a camper has multiple activities to choose from). The kids are given opportunities to participate in archery, swimming, ziplining, or various crafts but they don't HAVE to -- if they don't like any of the offered activities they can play card games (including collector games as long as they bring their own cards), play ping pong, work with Lego's, read/play with their handheld games/etc. in the cabin, or play with beans or other tactile mediums in the quiet room.  The volunteers at the camp are wonderful and incredibly dedicated to making the camp happen and making every camper's experience the absolute best it can be!  Many of them have children with autism (or work with them), so they are very empathetic and patient with even difficult kids.  I really hope to return and volunteer again!

Camp Encourage is in the running to receive a $1,000 donation from Blue Springs Ford this month -- there are only 2 more days before the winner is decided!  $1,000 would go a long way toward helping the camp expand their programs to reach even more kids with autism spectrum disorders!  All you have to do is visit this website and "Like" Camp Encourage -- on the 28th, the winner will be the organization with the most "Likes." Please, please, please vote! It only takes a second and there's no survey, no registration, no hoops of any kind!  Just an opportunity to help an incredible organization! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A New Cleaning Calendar

I found a great little cleaning regimen from Andrea that I've decided to try. I like it because it gives me a concrete list of things to do AND spreads the more time-consuming jobs throughout the week so I don't have to spend my entire weekend just on the house.  It also will be easily "tweakable" -- especially on Swing Day/Friday!

I plan to print out a copy of this list for each room as a motivation and reminder.  It takes 4 weeks to form a new habit, so hopefully the visual reminders will help me persevere!

Cleaning calendar

Identifying Chaos Areas

Well, it is 2013 and as I consider the past couple of years, one thing has become very clear to me: every area of my life has become embedded in complete and utter CHAOS!  For about three or four years now my husband and I have been taking turns working while the other goes to school.  Finally we both have degrees! Hooray! While it was great that we were working together to make sure we could both attain our educational goals with as little student loan debt as possible, a lot of things have fallen apart.  Now that I have graduated with my occupational therapy assistant degree and will be working within a month or two, I will finally be able to set about bringing a little ORDER back into my life!  This blog will be a motivator, idea generator, and log of my failures and (hopefully) successes. 

Now, as I said, pretty much every area of my life has succumbed to chaos and needs to be rescued.  My biggest concerns/goals are:

Cleaning – I’ve never been an amazing housekeeper, but the house is really in shambles from so much neglect! I want to create a workable cleaning schedule that will not take up my entire life, but won’t leave me afraid to answer the door.

Exercise – Yeah, so, I haven’t exercised regularly in…too long. I’ll have to experiment a little to see what works!

Meal planning – I used to do this, but haven’t in forever, and my grocery receipts definitely reflect a difference!

Clothing – I want to stop living out of laundry baskets! My husband and I live in a small house with one closet (and it’s mostly full of non-clothing items) and we share one dresser (because two just didn’t fit in the bedroom).  Too make matters worse, I own a LOT of clothes – some I wear, some I don’t.  I need to go through them and pick out things the things that are most versatile, fit well, and of good quality.

Bookshelves – I love books! I have three shelves completely full of books, plus boxes and a couple baskets and various piles all over the house! I really should go through them and see which ones I can pass on to some other book-lover and get them all on a shelf somehow.

Projects – I often come across DIY projects or crafts that I want to try. I want to actually make time for them!

Relationships – I’ve barely been around for the past 4 months, so I want to spend some good quality time with my husband!  Finding something to do together that’s more creative than sitting at home watching a movie sounds amazing!  And I want to spend more time with the rest of my family as well, plus catch up with my friends.

I’m sure my journey will have several peaks and valleys, but I hope you enjoy watching me as I work on bringing order into the chaos of my life!

So, enough about me! What are your goals for the New Year?