Monday, December 18, 2017

A Holiday-Card Craft for Kids Who Don't Like Crafting

My 4-year-old son's team at preschool consists of a lot of teachers, teaching assistants, aides, and therapists, and I wanted to give them each a homemade card for Christmas as a thank-you for their work with him.

I liked the idea of my son helping me make each card using fine-motor skills he's been working on at school. He doesn't particularly like doing arts and crafts, thoughthey're often tricky for him because of his cerebral palsyso I knew I needed to minimize the amount of time he'd need to spend on the cards.

Here's what I came up with for making 16 cards in one short go (for him):

I started with 8 holiday cards, blank on the inside, plus 3 sheets of colored card stock paper, star stickers, tape, scissors, a pencil, and non-toxic paint:

I also used a glue stick and a marker, which I forgot to include in this pic. Whoops.
I taped the 8 holiday cards together such that only the bottom inside half of each card was showing, and I made a Christmas tree overlay out of 2 sheets of yellow card stock:

To make the Christmas tree overlay, I first made a stencil of a single Christmas tree by folding a sheet of orange card stock into fourths and cutting off one-fourth of it...

...and then folding that small piece in half, drawing half a Christmas tree on it, and cutting the Christmas tree out:

I used this stencil on another sheet of card stock that I had folded into four equal vertical sections.

I used the stencil in the same way on a second sheet of yellow card stock, and I cut out all of the Christmas trees, leaving me with 8 stuck-together holiday cards and a Christmas tree overlay, as shown earlier and again below:

I placed the overlay directly over the 8 stuck-together holiday cards and taped the 2 sheets together in various places, including right around each Christmas tree.

I put a blob of green acrylic paint in the center of each Christmas tree and encouraged my son to paint the Christmas trees with his fingers. Here's what he came up with:

I separated the overlay from the cards:

I un-taped the cards, and I cut the Christmas tree overlay into 8 pieces and used a glue stick to secure them to individual cards. I then added a brief message to the top of each card and a star sticker to the top of each Christmas tree:

One of my favorite things about these cards is that it's clear that my son helped. 💕

Friday, December 15, 2017

'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Special-Needs Mom Version

© | Dreamstime
This is a parody I wrote of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (a.k.a. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr., depending on whom you believe.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the home
Not a creature was stirring, except for the mom;
With medical bills spread wide on her desk,
She hoped that a fairy would come grant her some rest.

The dad and the kid were all snug in their beds,
While cars zoomed in circles inside of their heads;
And mom with her to-do list on a long paper scrap
Couldn't stop dreaming about a very long nap,

When on the front door there arose three soft knocks,
Mom heaved herself up in her hole-y old socks;
She shuffled to the door, with her hand on her back,
And then she unlocked it and pushed it open a crack.

She said “Who is there?” and at first she saw nothing,
Then she caught sight of a twinkling and fluttering;
When, what to her wondering eyes she should see
But a glitt’ry winged girl—a sugar-plum fai-ry.

With the fairy’s sweet smile and her kind hazel eyes,
Mom knew in a moment relief had arrived;
The fairy said she knew what worries to blame
For Mom’s weariness; then, she called them by name:

“Appointments! IEPs! Emergencies, medical!
Tough choices! Fears ‘bout things real and theoretical!
Get into my bag! And go up that wall!
Then melt away! Melt away! Melt away all!”

The wind blew from the north; conditions were right
For the sugar-plum fairy to go upward in flight,
So up to the house-top the fairy she flew,
With the bag full of wearies and her glitt’ry wand, too.

And then, in a moment, Mom heard on the roof
A crackle, a sizzle, and then a big poof!
As Mom gasped aloud and put her hand to her lips,
Through the mail slot Miss Sugar-Plum came in a zip.

She was dressed in deep purple, from her head to her toes—
Her headband, her waistcoat, her slippers with bows;
The bag that she carried, once drab-gray, now silver
Made it obvious she had grand things to deliver.

Her eyes—how they sparkled! Her dimples, how sweet!
Her hair-do was simple—in waves, nice and neat;
She beamed and she wiggled and burst out with delight:
“I have something for you that I think you will like!”

The long silver wand she held tight in her hand,
A silvery shimmer trailing behind in a band;
“Please open my bag, see what it does store!”
Mom opened it and found her wearies were no more!

The IEPs were now tea bags of mint and chamomile;
The bills were now journals embellished with frill;
The worries had turned into books full of hope;
The to-do list had turned into soft scented soap.

“Last but not least, I do free babysitting
So you can get sleep, take up running or knitting—
And oh, one more thing, how could I forget?
A new pair of socks—you could use these, I bet.”

She grinned wide as gingerbread men at Mom, whom she saved,
Then fluttered out the door and turned around with a wave;
Before flying away, through the door crack she peeped—
“I wish you a Merry Christmas and a night full of sleep.”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

5 Simple Things That Make Life Easier as a Special-Needs Parent

© | Dreamstime
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate image links, which means that if you click on certain images and then purchase the item shown, I will receive a small percentage of the sales.

It's no secret that life can be challenging at times when your child has special needs. There's a lot to juggle: medical appointments, concerns about health and developmental issues, time needed to research special-needs toys and equipment. To hopefully help make your life a tiny bit easier, I've composed a list of 5 simple things that have made my own life easier as a parent of a child with special needs:

1. Slip-on shoes

As parents of kids with special needs, we often have lots of therapy and doctor appointments to take our kids to. If you're anything like me, you're always rushing out the door for these appointments. Being able to quickly slip on a pair of shoes can save timeand sanity. Until recently, I had a pair of slip-on Sketchers similar to these ones.

I loved them. 

After 3+ years, they finally became so worn that I could no longer wear them. I replaced them with a pair of lace-up shoes, and I have to say, I'm really missing my slip-ons. Some days they made the difference between catching the train to take my son to school...or not.

2. Gemiini

screenshot of a Gemiini video clip
Many kids with special needs benefit from lots of repetition in order to receptively learn new words and learn how to say them. Gemiini is an online program that involves having your child repeatedly watch themed 2- to 5-minute videos.

A full video on shapes might contain clips on circles, stars, squares, rectangles, triangles, and hearts, with a few short humorous clips interspersed to help keep your child interested. Within the video, actors repeat the words "circle," "star," etc., over and over again, which gives your child the language repetition he needs while you get a break. 

To learn more about Gemiini and my family's early experiences with it, check out this post.

3. Recordable storybooks

These are similar to regular picture books except that you record yourself reading them. When you or your child opens the book or turns the page, the recording plays in sync with whatever page you're on.

My parents introduced me to recordable storybooks a year or two ago when they gifted two of them to my son. At first, it felt a bit weird to hear my parents' disembodied voices every time my son and I opened the books, but I've since grown to really love these books. 

For one, my son loves them. For two, they're great when I'm feeling particularly exhausted. I can snuggle up with my son on the couch with a recordable storybook, turn the pages, and take micro-naps while the recording is playing. My kid gets a story read to him, while I get a much-needed nap. Win, win.

4. A dedicated filing box for your kid's therapy and medical records

It's a good idea to keep all of your kid's therapy and medical records in one place. For example, when your child is seeing a new therapist or doctor and you have to fill out forms about his medical history, knowing exactly where you can find the necessary information will save you time. 

I've been using the Sterilite Portable File Box shown above for more than 2.5 years, and I've been quite happy with it. It's sturdy, having survived 2 moves, no problem.

5. Prescription medication delivery

© | Dreamstime
Not all pharmacies offer this service, but if your kid (or you) needs prescription medication, it can be worthwhile to look around for a local pharmacy that does.

When my son was a baby, he was taking 4 or 5 different medications at a time. They typically couldn't all be refilled at the same time, which could have easily meant multiple trips to the pharmacy per month. Thankfully, we had access to a prescription medication delivery service. It was a snowy winter, and I was grateful not to have to take my medically fragile son out for frequent pharmacy visits in addition to his doctor and therapy appointments.

What has made your life easier as a parent of a child with special needs? Please share in the comments below!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Special-Needs Parenting Is Weird

My 4-year-old son was hospitalized on a recent Saturday night.

He had an epileptic seizure around 9:30 p.m. As usual, the seizure started with vomiting, followed by subtle shaking of his arms and his eyes veering off to the left. And as usual, the seizure didn't stop on its own.

My husband and I gave him a dose of emergency anti-seizure medication. Meanwhile, my brother whom we were visiting called emergency medical services.

By the time the paramedics arrived, the seizure had stopped, but they decided to go ahead and transport him to a nearby hospital for blood work and overnight observation. I went with him.

Sometime between singing "Wheels on the Bus" to my son for the 10th time in a row to help him fall asleep in his hospital bed, and getting discharged from the hospital the next morning, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember how many times my son had been hospitalized during his life. Was it 8 times, or maybe 9?

And then it struck me how odd that must be, to not know how many times your young child has been hospitalized. How many parents of young children, or even older children, can say that?

How many parents can say that their child had more than 10 doctor and therapy appointments just last month?

How many parents can say that their child's medical records fill up an entire filing box?

How many parents can say that their child communicates with them primarily by making gestures and handing them pictures? I'm sure my family isn't the only one using the Picture Exchange Communication System, but I don't actually know anyone else who does.

Special-needs parenting is weird.

I remember talking with another mom back when my son was around 2 years old and hers was maybe 18 months. Neither boy was talking, but she wasn't worried about hers. "I know he'll talk someday," she said. 

I see how she could think that, since most kids do in fact talk someday. 

But the thought was so very different from my own experience. As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, I couldn't assume that my son would talk someday.

In fact, there's been a lot that I couldn't assume about him.

He was born weighing less than 2 pounds and had numerous complications of prematuritya brain bleed, chronic lung disease, feeding issues, etc. I couldn't assume that he'd survive infancy.

But he did.

With damage to a region of his brain that controls movement, I couldn't assume that he'd someday be able to walk independently.

But he does. (With support from AFOs.)

One good thing about his disabilities is that I tend not to take his developmental achievements for granted. Even if they're seemingly small.

Soon after that recent seizure, my family went on vacation. We stayed at a park near the North Sea that had a playground, a swimming pool, and arts and crafts activities for kids. There, away from the clutter of daily life, I noticed new things about my son. For example, I noticed that he was initiating a variety of activities himself, like playing on the air trampoline and joining in on kids' arts and crafts activities. 

This last one was a big deal to me. His therapy team had once been concerned about his lack of interaction with other kids. Now he was choosing to interact with other kids.

I also noticed that he had overcome his aversion to touching sand. He crawled in it, he found shells in it and picked them up to show me, andhis favorite!he knocked down mine and my husband's sand castles. 

on his way to knock down his daddy's sand castle
I couldn't be more proud.

Yes, special-needs parenting is weird.

But it's also weirdly awesome.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tips on Using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) On The Go

I previously wrote tips for setting up your home for the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and now I'd like to share tips on using PECS when you travel.

The PECS manual recommends putting the PECS cards into a communication book that you tote around with you everywhere you go. For various reasons, I find this to be impractical for my family: The communication book is bulky and not ideal for traveling with, especially since we need to carry my son's meds, extra food for him due to his food allergies, etc. Plus, it's harder for my son to use than a fixed communication board.

So, I've experimented with different ways of using PECS when we travel. Based on my results, I present to you tips for using PECS when your child is riding in a stroller/buggy, going for a walk, or spending a night away from home.

1.) Using PECS in a Stroller/Buggy

After a lot of trial and error, this is the set-up that I've found works best for us:

To make the communication board, I started with inexpensive folders made of a vinyl-like material that would hold up in the rain:

I cut one of the folders into a rectangle using scissors, made some measurements using a ruler and pencil, made small holes using a single-hole punch, and attached adhesive-backed hook-and-loop fastener (e.g., VELCRO®) to one side:

To attach the board to the stroller, I decided to use a Chinese jump ropemade of a slender, stretchy rope-like materialfor no other reasons than I came across it in a toy store, it was cheap, and it looked like it could work. I cut the Chinese jump rope into 3 long strands, which I threaded through the holes in the communication board:

Flipped vertically, it looked like this:

I secured the board to the stroller by threading the Chinese jump rope through the seat belt hole, wrapping it around one side of the stroller in various places, and tying it into 3 knots, like so:

An unexpected bonus: The stretchy Chinese jump rope is fun to play with, making for a nice hand-strengthening exercise!

I usually leave the most pertinent picture cards such as those for snack, drink, and "get out of stroller" on the communication board. Any additional picture cards that we might need while we're out, including duplicates, I bring in a zipper bag that I place in the back pocket of our stroller:

Here are some examples of picture cards that I keep in the zipper bag, most of which came from the Pics for PECS® Version 14 CD:

I'm guessing this stroller PECS set-up could also work for a wheelchair, though I haven't tried it.

2.) Using PECS on Walks

When my son and I go on walks, I like to bring this small PECS board:

(Don't mind the lint!)
I made this board similar to the one described here, just smaller.

Whenever we go out, I carry my son's little monkey backpack, which I use to store his emergency medications, diapering supplies, snacks, and a drink. Now that we're using PECS, I also include a PECS board and a zipper bag containing extra PECS cards:

I had some trouble figuring out how my son could request to see his communication board when we're on walks, but then it occurred to me that a PECS card for "communication book" could be attached to his shoes via hook-and-loop fastener since his shoes already contain hook-and-loop fastener. 

Now if my son needs something when we go out, he can reach down, take the card for "communication book" (we're using a board rather than a book, but close enough) off his shoe, and hand it to me. Then I show him his communication board, and he can let me know exactly what he wants.

3.) Using PECS on Vacation (or on a Family Visit or Hospital Stay)

My husband, son, and I recently went on vacation for my son's fall break, and we stayed in a small house/chalet at a park. For our PECS set-up there, I attached the small black communication board pictured above to a chair, using Chinese jump rope:

One nice thing about this set-up is that it's quick and easy to put the communication board up and take it back down. During our vacation, I would take the board down from the chair and put it in my son's monkey backpack to take on walks, and then when we returned, I would re-attach it to the chair.

Another nice thing about this set-up is that it's versatile: Almost anywhere you'd stay away from home would have a chair.

Also, if your child ever needs to stay in the hospital, like mine sometimes does, you could tie the Chinese jump rope (or other string/rope/ribbon/etc.) to the rails of the hospital bed.

I hope you've found these tips useful. If you have any additional tips on how to use PECS on the go, please share them in the comments section below!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Finding a New Babysitter When Your Child Has Special Needs

© | Dreamstime
I recently had a babysitter disappear on us.

She just started working for my family in August, and we had gotten into a rhythm of her babysitting my 4-year-old son for a few hours every Saturday and/or Sunday morning while my husband and I went on "study dates"what we call going to a cafe together to drink coffee as we work on our laptops.

My husband and I liked her: She had plenty of experience working as a babysitter, was unafraid of dealing with any seizures or allergic reactions that my son could potentially have, and mentioned on multiple occasions that she enjoyed babysitting him. She always seemed willing to babysit for us.

Until she didn't.

She mentioned a few weeks ago that she'd soon be working a few hours per week at a new job. Since then she has babysat for us at least once, two weekends ago, but then for the next 3 days that I asked about, she couldn't babysit because of being scheduled to work at her new job. That was understandable.

And then a week and a half ago, when I texted her about the possibility of babysitting this past Saturday and/or Sunday, she just...didn't respond. I sent her an email a couple of days later about a job opportunity I thought she might be interested in, and my husband sent her an email a few days later to follow up about babysitting this past Saturday and/or Sunday. But again, no response.

This experience has left my husband and me baffled. 

Is she too busy to babysit for us anymore? If so, why doesn't she just tell us that? Did we do something to offend her? Is something difficult going on in her personal life?

Without any contact from her, we can't know the answers. It sort of feels like a break-up where the other person just stops returning your phone calls. It's very confusing, but the only thing we can do is move on.

And so, we're moving on.

Earlier this week, I put up an ad for a babysitter on I struggled a bit with how much to write about my son's special needs. I knew I needed to disclose his special needs because first of all, it was the right thing to do, and secondly, I wanted to hear only from candidates who would feel comfortable managing his special needs. But I didn't want to write so much that I would scare potential candidates away.

In the end, I opted to write a brief intro about my son being sweet, curious, and really into playing with toy vehicles and going on walks. Then I wrote about his most pertinent special needs: wearing braces (but being able to walk), needing to use gestures and pictures to communicate (but being able to understand most of what is said to him), and needing a caregiver who can administer emergency meds in case of a seizure or allergic reaction.

I haven't received replies from any promising candidates, but I feel hopeful that we'll find someone, one way or another.

We always have.

We've had several babysitters over the years, including one wonderful one who is still working for us, thank goodness. We just need some extra help on the weekends, when she isn't always available. 

Most of the babysitters we've found online using sites such as*, which allows you to view profiles and exchange messages. I know it can be scary using a new babysitter you've found on the internet, especially if your child has special needs, so if you're new to this, here are some tips I have for becoming more comfortable with a candidate babysitter:

  1. For the first meeting, meet with the candidate babysitter at a neutral, kid-friendly location, such as a kid-friendly cafe or the children's section of the library. Bring your kid along, and see how the babysitter interacts with him. Is she warm towards him? Is she playful? Ask her questions about her babysitting and other work experience. Does she ask you questions, too? In my opinion, it's a good sign if she does. If you feel comfortable, schedule a trial babysitting session with her.
  2. For the trial babysitting session, stay nearby. For example, if the babysitter is playing with your kid downstairs in your home, hang out upstairs and clean, rest, work on your computer, or whatever. That way, if the babysitter has questions, you can answer them on the spot, or if she needs to be trained in, say, how to feed your kid his snack, you can pop in at snack time, show her how it's done, and then go back to your hang-out place. Plus, you can listen to make sure your child is being kept safe. 
  3. If the trial babysitting session goes wellyou and the babysitter can decide what "goes well" meansthen schedule another babysitting session. Continue staying nearby during babysitting sessions until both you and the babysitter feel comfortable with you leaving.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any additional tips, please share them in the comments section below!

*Disclaimer: I'm not being paid by; I just like using their site.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Special-Needs Parenting Fantasy Vs. Reality #2

Parenting a kid with special needs doesn't always go as planned. For me, it didn't always go as planned back in the spring, and it hasn't always gone as planned this fall, as shown in these 5 scenarios:

Fantasy #1: I'll do some dishes, tidy up the house, and run some errands in the afternoon before picking kid up from school.

Reality: Kid's teacher calls at 1 p.m. and says that kid has been coughing a lot and is running a slight fever and could I please pick him up early? 

When I arrive at school, kid is sleeping, and assistant carefully transfers him into stroller. Ten minutes after we leave, kid wakes up, looks at me, and says "go," which means he wants to walk. He spends the next 30 minutes pushing stroller to store and speed-pushing a large shopping basket through store.

Was he just pretending to be sick?! 

(If so, I'm impressed.)


Fantasy #2: I will clean kid's bedroom and the upstairs bathroom before the babysitter arrives.

Reality: Kid is whiny. He wants to go outside and watch buses and cars go by. I decide to give him the next best thing: I set him on a stool next to my bedroom window (2nd floor) so that he can look down at the buses and cars going by on our busy street. 

He watches the buses and cars while I clean. Having come up with this solution, I feel rather clever. (Reality: it was not all that clever.)


Fantasy #3: I will give kid a receptive language test to see how well he can discriminate between different motor vehicles: I will place 6 types of toy vehicle within his reach on a side table and first ask him to give me the train, and then each of the other 5 vehicles. I will film him and send the video to his special education team.

Reality: I say "Give me train." Kid puts right (good) hand on train, but it is in 2 pieces and too difficult to pick up with one hand (parenting fail), so he plays with train and bus for 2 minutes while ignoring my repeated requests for train. 

(To his credit, he does pretty well on the test a bit later.)


Fantasy #4: I will train kid further in the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) during afternoon snack time. He will sit in his special high-low chair, and I will give him a communication book containing detachable pictures of 3 highly desired foods. He will give me the picture of the food he wants most, and I will present him with a tray containing small pieces of all 3 foods and say "go ahead and take it." If he takes a piece of the food that matches the picture he gave me, he will be praised. And repeat.

Reality: I set up all of the materials for a PECS training session. Kid is playing with cars when I tell him it's time for snack. He complains, and I say, "Okay, play with cars more first, then snack." By the time he finally wants his snack, it's too close to dinner time to do a long PECS training session. Plus, he's fussy, so he ends up eating his snack seated on my lap.


Fantasy #5: Kid and I will go to a Music & Movement class on Saturday morning. We will have a lovely train ride there and a lovely time at the class.

Reality: Guy sitting in front of us on train pukes into the aisle. Kid tries to grab onto back of guy's seat, while I try to block kid and say "Don't touch! That's yucky," which results in kid screaming.

We do have a lovely time at the music class, though. Kid especially enjoys playing with egg-shaped maracas and a triangle, which he plays with 2 hands. Two hands!

After we get home, kid goes to his play kitchen and is excited to find a pretend plum. He shows it to me and tries to shake it because it is egg-shaped and he thinks it is a maraca.

I feel proud...

...and he throws it on the floor.

Glad that wasn't really an egg.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Preserving Energy as a Parent of a Child with Special Needs

©  | Dreamstime; modified by me

I've been saying "no" to a lot of things lately.

Last school year, I was a member of the Parent Committee (similar to a Parent-Teacher Association or Organization) at my son's school. At the beginning of this school year, I had to tell the school's director that I would no longer be a member.

Why? Because it was costing me energy. 

As a member of the Parent Committee, I was reviewing school policy documents and fielding questions about school policies from fellow parents. While the time commitment wasn't huge, I knew it would be more than I could comfortably handle this school year, especially considering that I need to plan for an upcoming move back to the United States. I'm glad I was able to help out on the committee for one school year, but now I'm happy to let someone else take a turn.

Last spring, I took my son to physiotherapy sessions after school once a week. In early September, I had to tell his physiotherapist that we would be quitting.

Why? Because it was costing both my son and me energy. 

The appointments were right after school, and my son was often tired. I would sit in on the sessions, and the physiotherapist would give me tips on exercises to try at home and toys to purchase that would promote my son's development. While she had nothing but good ideas, I was struggling to implement them at home. We have about 3-4 hours from the time we get home from school until my son goes to bed, and a lot of that time goes towards after-school down-time (because my son and I both need it), a walk or two outside (because my son needs it), dinner, and his bedtime routine. Any extra time usually goes towards working on language and fine-motor skills and having unscheduled let's-be-silly-together time, leaving little time for the physiotherapist's ideas. I'd then go to the physiotherapy appointments with a lot of guilt, which was eating into brain space that could have gone to something more productive.

And, yet another "no": One recent morning while my son was at school, I was sitting in a lobby that I frequent near his school, writing a blog post. A mom of one of his classmates approached me to chat. I said a quick "hello, how are you?" and then said I needed to get some more work done before picking up my son.

Why? Because I knew that chatting at that moment would cost me energy, whereas writing would give me energy.

Did I feel kind of bad saying "no" to these people?

Yes, I did. I genuinely like the director of my son's school and didn't like that I was putting her in the position of having to find someone else to sit on the Parent Committee. And I felt bad quitting our afternoon physiotherapy sessions because the director had put in time and effort to help set those up for my family, and because the physiotherapist was quite good and would now potentially need to fill our therapy spot. And I felt bad saying "no" to a chat with a fellow mom of a child with special-needs, because I know what it's like to be new to a school and new to the special-needs journey.

But who needs my time and energy morethem, or my 4-year-old son with cerebral palsy?

Of course the answer is my son.

If you've ever spent much time around a child with significant special needs, you know that taking care of them can take a lot of energy.

In my case, there's the physical work of carrying my son up and down the steep Dutch stairs in our house and of supporting him on walks when he gets too tired and his balance is off.

There's the mental work of trying to understand what he's trying to communicate to me and of managing all of the administrative work regarding his care: setting up appointments, filing health insurance claims, emailing therapists, applying for support...

There's the emotional work of processing difficult news and of dealing with each seizure as it comes.

I'm not saying all of this to complain.

I'm just saying that, as a parent of a child with special needs, I've learned that it's really important for me to preserve energy when I can, to say "no" when I can to things that cost me energy so that I have sufficient energy to give to my son. 

And, for this same reason, it's really important for me to prioritize (when I can) things that give me energy, like writing. And sleeping. And exercise.

I'm by no means perfect at this (see: exercise; see also: writing and sleeping). 

But, I'm trying.

What are some things that you've said "no" to recently? I'd love to hear your answer in the comments section below!