Friday, January 1, 2016

1/1/2016 - What happened to the blog?

As you can see, life has gotten the better of me and I haven't been able to manage all the things I want. I let the blog go for a while. I'm not sure what 2016 will bring but we enjoyed Brad being home for the holidays. We've had very little family time over the last 2.5 years and were very thankful to be together this year. I have been homeschooling the boys since August and the Lord is using this experience to change me on many levels.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Therapy at home

This is the original swing I bought from Walmart for son. I've ended up doing double duty with it. There is spandex tied in a knot to two huge caribeener clips on the right. I have giant clips (like clothespins) on the rail so it won't wander over into the space of the spinning pod on the left. The pod on the left is what we bought at Ikea but since both of my boys are on opposite ends of the sensory spectrum, it works great for us. My older one who needs to front to back rocking motion can swing back and forth like a regular swing on the spandex or stretch the spandex out and lay long-ways and then use the green strap to help get himself up. My younger son can use the Ikea pod and twist himself up all crazy and then let it go and unwind. My younger one can then switch over the the fabric and practice trying to swing in regular swing by leaning front/back and learning to pump his legs.
I also have these wonderful drawing sheets that I bought at Target last year. I laminate almost everything and these types of drawing sheets are no different. Rather than writing on the actual paper though, we clip up the picture on the top of the chalk board and my son either uses small pieces of chalk and draws on the chalkboard or sometimes he'll request a sheet of paper. Here he has used a piece of construction paper and also used pink chalk to write with.

I get so busy with things that I needed a way to try and make sure my son was doing enough therapy during the week to help make lasting changes. Doing therapy once a week for 45 minutes isn't enough for a true change I wanted to make sure you can do his "homework" from his therapist. I bought this wipe off chart at the Dollar Tree and it says 'Job Chart' on the top of it with blanks on the left and the days of the week at column headings. Based on recommendations from his therapist, he has a list of 6 things he can do and he chooses 4 a day (he has do everything at least twice a week and we don't do therapy on sundays). Supermans (on his belly, arms and legs straight out) and sit-ups are to help strengthen his core which is really week. He's now up to 10 sit-ups but we started with 5. 1 paper is actually a variety of things he can do. I have papers that have the big circles on them and you use bingo markers to color in the circles. I have cutting papers (some I printed from things I found on-line) and some are from this great book that his therapist showed me from Kumon titled, "My Book of Easy Crafts." I ordered it on Amazon for less than $8 and it has 40 different activities in it. They all require cutting and most also require folding or gluing. The really neat thing is that they all involve some type of action as well. For example, my boys just cut out these frogs (there were 2 on a page) and then you need to make a few folds to turn them into frogs that jump when you push your finger down on the back of the paper. There's a cat that when you pull its head up and feet down, the hands clap. My kids have yet to throw one away (which I don't mind since they actually still play with them). A paper activity can also be practice writing letters in boxes as well.

Lacing, putty, hammer, or pinch can include a variety of activities. I have lacing cards that I found at the Dollar Tree. Another lacing activity I started was taking cardboard marking and then cutting small slits every 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch around a piece (this one is a rectangle but we have squares, circles, triangles, and crosses of different shapes) and then he gets to pick a color string (I use embroidery string) and he has to make sure every slot has string in it. It is very challenging for him because he has to stabilize the piece of cardboard with one hand and he has to really use his fingers to pull the string into the slot. In this picture I put purple tape in the center of the cardboard to give it more stability but now I either put tape all around the cardboard (except where the slits are) or do not do it all depending on how long I want it to last. I have putty which I purchased for about $8 on-line and I hide treasures (small buttons and beds) and he has to find a certain number of treasures (usually 10-15) and recently we started keeping track of how long it takes him to find those items. He now is starting to compete with his 'records' which he finds fun. It works out great for me because I don't have to encourage him to find 3, 4, or 5 more because he's excited to do it and is trying to beat his time. I found this little hammer at walmart for $5. It fits in his hand and is a little heavy put it's great for him to use. My husband put a few pretty sturdy nails in a piece of wood and we make a mark on the nail and he has to sink that part down into the wood and then he's done. Pinching activities include having a large bin of clothespins of different colors and then doing various games with him (using index cards that have numbers on them and putting the correct number around the index card, seeing how many he can pin on his shirt at one time, or making a paper path by letting him slightly overlap two colors of paper and then putting a clothespin on to keep the paper together and he does that for 10-12 feet and loves to see his color path).

Slow rolly poly is a move that I need to take some pictures of to be able to post. Essentially he starts off in a crab position with his bottom off the ground. He then has to flip over to a bear (just on hands and feet) and then back to crab without letting any body parts touch except his feet and hands. We call the entire movement rolly poly but after he started to get the hang of it he wanted to go really fast and cheat so then we had to break it back down that he has to do crab, bear, crab, bear, etc. He goes down the living room one direction and then has to come back facing the same way so he works rotating his trunk both directions.

Thumb touches fingers is just what is sounds like. He has a very hard with the mobility in his fingers (just look at the picture of him holding the cardboard lacing and how his fingers are all tight and contracted) so this was very challenging for him at first. He just has to touch each finger to the tip of the thumb but he has round his fingers out. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4/8 - March Madness no doubt

I can see this blogging thing isn't going to get much better until the summer hopefully. I'll continue to plug away because for me, this my scrapbook. I will find a balance and it will happen in about 1.5 more months.
Eli has continued with therapy and is doing so great and really making some progress. Here are a few samplings of what Eli has done over the past few weeks. He has worked on buttoning a little and finally has started to figure it out. He put the vest on an buttoned it up almost by himself. He loves to play "rocket" with Ms. Lisa. He lays down a scooter board and the scooter and his feet go up against a door to a closet. On the count of three, he has to push as hard as he can and then I catch him. All of his muscles are getting so much stronger. He then made a little obstacle course which he loves to do. It wouldn't be a therapy session without a swing and he was able to use the barrel swing. He's finally got it figured out how to push and pull on the straps and how to move his body to make the swing go. This is huge progress for us. He finished this particular therapy session with writing some letters (which he won't really do for me at home) and holding the marker in an appropriate way.

Here is a therapy session from last week. Eli is constantly seeking out to feel and experience sensations so that is one reason why swinging is so good for him. He was trying to swing in a normal swing except this swing swivels around and that makes it really hard. He does like to go on his belly and then run and push off with his legs to go really high so Ms. Lisa mixes "her way" (normal swinging which he can't do yet) and "his way" to keep him compliant and happy. He then had to cut some paper and put together a little puzzle and he chose to sit in the ball pit to do that (more sensory input). He then had to find little bean bag animals we placed at the bottom of the ball pit and then throw them out. To help with his fine motor skills, he had to then pick up the bean bag animals with a gripper toy/device. It's great to help build-up his hand strength and he thinks it's pretty fun. His activity of choice at the end was to play with these little magnetic monkeys that he has to push a lever and make them flip onto a magnetic board (good for fine motor skills too). He is still switching hands all the time but it looks like his right hand is more accurate but for whatever reason, he likes to still use his left.

 Something pretty exciting happened for me a few weeks ago. I unhooked the washer and dryer I bought in college and that we have used for the past 13 years (it was GE and I didn't have a single problem the entire time I/we used them)!!! We then went shopping and I found a new washer dryer. I was excited about the new washer and dryer but the boys were ecstatic about their new boxes that they turned into forts! They have colored and written all over them. We have draped the boxes with sheets and outfitted them inside as well. I just put them away for a bit because they are huge and take up our front entry way but the boys just love them.

There was a birthday party for the daycare that Eli goes and parents were invited (it was the birthday of the school, not a child). Brad has not been able to do anything for either child in regards to their school and attending things so he decided to go. He was going to fly at night so he slept in like normal and then woke up a little early to go to Eli's school. Brad was one of just a few parents there but Eli had so much fun with him.

Aiden was finally able to have a play date with a friend at school the Friday before Spring Break for him. He had so much fun. I'm hoping we can find some friends to play with around here this summer. There are no kids his age within a few houses of us and then there are a bunch of empty lots so it's not looking so promising for friends right next to us but hopefully at least a few in our housing development which is huge.

A few sunday's ago, Eli comes out his room saying he needs help with his shirt. I notice one button is already done and ask how did he get his shirt on with that button already done. He said that he did it himself. I was so happy for him. I told him we don't do the very top button but that was awesome he was able to do the tiny button on his shirt!!!

Brad's schedule has continued to be just insane. We took at 5 day break and went to Orlando for part of Aiden's spring break and met up with Mrs. Rusty (his former therapist and a great friend to me). On the way down to Orlando, we stopped at the outlet mall so I could see if I could find any clothes for the boys next winter. Brad and the boys had lunch while I shopped and here is a picture that Brad sent me saying they were coming to find me but got a little side tracked (see picture of Aiden with the muppets). We stayed at a timeshare we have stayed in before and loved but this time we were in a different building. We then find out they just put a new children's water park somewhere (there is a HUGE one already). We got to our room and went to our balcony and this is what we found. The new water park and it just opened. Amazing!
We had a good time just getting away and having family time.
We went to the little water park in our backyard once Rusty and her family came over the next day. It's been much colder in Florida for this time of year than it normally is and man, was it cold. I was in a sweatshirt and pants at the pool but the kids were determined to go in the water. They ran in a got pretty wet going down the slide and running through spraying water. They then crawled up the chairs and strikes a pose for me (pictures to the right). Aiden was pretty cold so he just rolled up into a ball. After Eli's lips started turning purple and blue, we decided to move the other pool which was just a few steps away. That water was much warmer but it was also pretty deep so the kids wanted a grown up in the pool. My awesome husband volunteered went in because our kids are too cute and love their daddy so much. It was a little chilly for him (freezing for me) and he went in a played with all the kids (Rusty has 3 kids).

We had fun with the Becker Family!!! Since this blog is in-place of a scrapbook, I'm going to post a few pictures from there:

We went and ate at Cracker Barrel and that was fun. I went to a consignment sale the night before we left and bought a $6 barrel of tinker toys. I came home and cleaned every single piece with clorox wipes and decided to pack them and take them with us because the forecast called for some rain while in Orlando. I'm so glad I did. These toys kept these kids busy for a few hours which enabled the grown-ups to talk. It was great. It also worked out that Rusty's kids showed mine how to use them and put them together since Aiden had never seen them before.

We went to a few different playgrounds in the resort (timeshare) and went to the big water park too. This is going to be the summer when the boys learn how to swim. I just now it. Eli loved putting his goggles on and even put his face in the water a few times. Aiden loves the big fast slide and Eli loves going in the zero-entry entrance with a tube and playing bumper boats (he bumps in to you). This game is also a favorite of Aiden. I was fine in the water but it was too windy to be getting in and out.
Here is our family having fun. Eli was looking so cute with his goggles on. The boys were so excited to see Brad so much and just play with him. I was glad to see Brad too and watch him play with the boys. It's always fun to hang out with the boys because they are so different yet get along so well. Eli's imagination just cracks me up and Aiden continue to surprise me with wanting to wrestle and do things that involve touching (which he would never do before). 

I was getting annoyed with the boys asking to play on their kindle's so much so I put some small activity pads in the van and they are really liking them. Eli, who normally won't color if it's voluntary, asked to color a picture in one and then proceeded to pick up the chunky colored pencil (in his left hand) and hold it somewhat correctly. That was amazing and awesome to me.

I was able to go on a field trip with Aiden's class to Diamond Ranch last week. It was originally scheduled for a Tuesday which was the spring break at Jacksonville University (where I work) but it was rained out. It was rescheduled on a Wednesday which was good because I was still able to go (I work on Tues/Thur). Aiden had a great time. He wanted to hold my hand as we walked everywhere but it was great to see him with all his friends/classmates. He rode a pony, fed cows which were totally nasty, and let goats lick oats from his hand. Did someone take my Aiden. The feeding of the animals was amazing and so beautiful for me to see. Before he would have screamed when a tongue touched his hand and he would have been done. Nope. Not anymore. He went back for another handful of oats and continued to feed the cows. In the bottom picture on the left, he's standing in the back on the right. His favorite thing of all at the farm, this barrel roll. If I had to bet, I would say he would never go on it and if he did, he would want to do a half roll (versus going all the way around). The kid was first in line and said he wanted to go all the way around. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes and ran to his seat. I wasn't sure if I was going to be taking pictures of him puking or smiling but I was ready. He seemed to enjoy it (or the kid sitting across from him that was about to puke just hated it that much that it was all relative). Aiden is the one sitting closet to us holding on to the pole.
Just when I thought Brad's schedule couldn't get much worse, we return to find out he's on the night flight for 3 days in a row AND he always has the latest flight (which means he then stays even later for water washes to clean the helicopter). Talk about a punch in the face from his squadron. He has meetings all day on Monday and doesn't have time to get any work done so then stays late to do work but tries to come by 6:30ish. We generally eat dinner around 5:30-6:00ish these days. From Tuesday to Thursday, he slept until about 1-2pm and then would wake up and get ready for work and then get Aiden from the bus with me at 3:00pm and then head in to work. He would work and then fly and by the time he's done with water washes and debriefing from the flight, he drives the 35/40 min home and would shower and crawl in to bed sometime around 4-4:30am. On Friday, he slept until just 10am because he had a noon meeting that he needed some time ro prepare for. Needless to say, Eli didn't see him for a few days and Aiden was lucky enough to get a huge from off the bus and then he was gone. On Friday had a full day and then we needed some groceries from the commissary so he didn't get home until about 6:45ish. This kind of schedule can kill a guy and a family. We rarely saw Brad last week. He hasn't been home from work on a weekday to have dinner with us in about 2-3 weeks. The good news is he came home tonight for dinner with the family!!! It was great and I'm so thankful God (and the squadron) have given him a night or two off of night flying (even if it was because I made him complain).

On Saturday we were able to celebrate Grace's 5th birthday at her party. It was at O2B Kids, which is an amazing place we will be visiting much more this summer. The kids had a lot of fun. They had giant-sized Connect Four and a foosball table (Aiden and Eli versus Brad). They also had a huge kitchen area which Eli especially liked. One of the things Grace chose for her party was gymnastics so they were able to go on a small tumbletrak and bounce around and use the cheese mats for forward rolls. She also was able to use the playgrounds outside and both boys loved that. Aiden loved climbing up this huge open structure while Eli preferred the more traditional playground around the corner. They had a ton of fun and it looked like the birthday girl did too.

I have massive amounts of grading to do starting tomorrow night so it will probably be another month before I post again. Playing single mommy during the week with my teaching schedule and also trying to keep up with Eli's therapy at home, housework, meal planning, meal cooking, etc is so challenging. I am so looking forward to this summer so I can take a break from so much work (teaching/grading) but am also a little nervous for having the boys all summer (they are usually in daycare). It will be good though because I treasure the fun times I can have with them and that's so limited right now with all the other responsibilities I have.