Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2012

What a busy week!  We said goodbye to my brother and his family as they make their big move back to Maui.  It was nice to have them so close to us and while we will miss them, we are excited for them in their new ventures and wish them well!

Cherry Picking with friends - It's a Wunderful Life Blog

WOW! Twin B picked those all himself

We also got invited to a friend’s house to pick cherries. The kids had a BLAST ~ I thought the boys would be done in under an hour but we spent almost three hours there.  They, for the most part, were patient and took turns waiting for the ladder and were so proud when they filled up their buckets.  Twin B had fun dropping the cherries into his bucket while saying “cannonball” the whole time. . . . .I think we will dry those cherries.  🙂

Cherry Picking - It's a Wunderful Life

Twin A focused on his work

The family that invited us are good friends with my parents and this was our first time really getting to know this awesome couple.  During one part of the afternoon, he brought out some fresh grape juice for the kids and had all three of them sitting with him just cruising – fun to see and grateful for friends and family who do so much for us.

Cherry Picking - It's a Wunderful Life

Our haul for the day – that’s a TON of cherries

Accomplishments: Let’s talk about Twin A this week.  We signed up for a sharing time at his school and he did so well.  Originally, we were going to make Maui GuriGuri (check it out here) for him to share but for some reason, it didn’t freeze in the ice cream maker.  So, we hit a store by the school that sells Japanese and Hawaiian treats and took some of those.  The crackers and candy were big hits but the seaweed strips. . . not so much.

Its a Wunderful Life Blog Sharing Time

Twin A during his sharing time at school

We also had his assessment with his teacher.  Like Twin B, he’s progressed so well this year and has really grown socially.  It’s fun to listen to him because he always uses, “excuse me” when he wants to ask a question and really likes to be with people. He’s also able to dress himself and he did all the buttons on his church shirt yesterday.  That earned him his final chart move this weekend and he was so excited!  Their reward was a Cars 2 app that we downloaded.  Twin B is freaked out by these littie ‘firefly bug’ cars that are all over the screen and follow Mater around.  I don’t think I’ve heard him get so angry at the iPad before.  🙂

Chart Moves - Autism and It's a Wunderful Life

Twin A with his completed chart

Tip of the Week: Twin A’s awesome teacher gave us a great link that she uses to make writing worksheets for her class.  The twins always came home with those writing worksheets with dotted letters and words and they always had their names or other words that they frequently use – click here to see the site.

I haven’t used it yet but it looks pretty easy to use.  I’ll print some sheets up this week in preparation for some activities we have coming up!  LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!  🙂

Advertisements

This post is dedicated to first, my mom who I know had a crush on Don Osmond growing up and secondly. to the great blog All Things Boys who did a post on amazing post on David Osmond a few weeks back – if you missed it, check it out here.

My boys don’t differentiate between celebrity or everday Joe on the street ~ they just go for whoever has the candy basket and is willing to give them some.  This past week, they got a glimpse of one of their ‘uncles’ (we’re Hawaiian so any family friend becomes an uncle / aunt very quickly) who happened to have a candy basket.  When he saw the boys looking at him, he flashed a candy at them and got them running down the church halls. . . . yes, we aren’t the most reverent group at church.  However, I think Don tends to share more of my sense of humor and attitude than others.  🙂

Don Osmond Jr @ It's a Wunderful Life Blog

Thanks Uncle Don!

Don Osmond Jr. moved into our neighborhood about the same time we did a few years back and is seriously, one of the funniest and most non assuming people you would ever met (is it ‘people’ or ‘persons’ – I have horrible English). He’ll probably laugh that I put this post in.

Thanks to all those who are great ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ to our boys, your support and love means the world to us.  Now I just need to make sure they don’t go running to anybody who has candy . .  . . . . .

 

 

What a week!  First, congratulations to my wife, siblings ,and friends for finishing the Wasatch Back Ragnar Run!  It’s a bittersweet weekend for me ~ the kids and I survived 48 hours without mommy (I should put that as our week’s accomplishment)  but one of my goals over the past year was to run Ragnar.

I was on track until I blew my knee and still haven’t attempted to run since my injury.  Hoping to run in 2013!  Second, to all you dad’s out there ~ hope you had a fantastic Father’s Day!  Third, I got two blog award nominations but to properly thank the wonderful people who nominated me, I’ll wait until my next post since this is a busy post!

Wasatch Back Ragnar 2012 - It's a Wunderful Life Blog

My wife, brother, sister, sister in law, brother in law, and bunch of friends who finished Ragnar! WAY TO GO!

Fourth, it was my wife’s birthday earlier in the week.  The boys have been very excited to celebrate her birthday and were talking all week about cake, ice cream, presents, and candles!  Happy bday to my awesome wife!

Bday party - it's a wunderful life

Happy Birthday!

Accomplishments: We’ll recognize Twin B this week.  We had an end of year assessment with his teacher and it’s been amazing to see the progress he has made ~ a special recognition to his teacher and her amazing team that we will miss tremendously and have done so much for Twin B.  For example, his pre-writing testing showed an improvement from a 1yr 10mo level in September of last year to 4 yrs 3 mo level currently! I don’t think we can ever thank his teacher and all of these great individuals who do so much for our kids and our family.

Angry Bird Chart on It's a Wunderful Life

Congrats Twin B on your Chart Party!

A second accomplishment was his chart completion and his Chart Party Reward!  In a previous post, I put a picture of him at the beginning of this chart and we’re so happy to see he’s finished it!  He was SO EXCITED as he got closer and closer to completion.

Finally, we had a city carnival this weekend.  Crowds aren’t our favorite so we thought we’d try the carnival out early Friday afternoon.  We were one of the first 20 people in and were even able to stay over 4 hours!  I was impressed the boys did so well waiting in line, dealing with crowds, and even going on a number of the rides!  They were in heaven and I’m glad we took a chance at the carnival!  Slideshow below has all the previous pics + Carnival ones mashed up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tip of the Week: OK, so this chart idea has been great for us ~ both boys use it currently at school and I noticed one in each class at their new school.  I wasn’t using the chart correctly but we got some guidance so hopefully, this makes sense and I’m explaining it right:

  • A “chart move” is earned and usually discussed with the child beforehand.  For example, “Twin B, we can do a chart move if you empty your lunch box in the sink”
  • We praise our twin that is doing the task towards the move versus using ‘negative reminders’ or threats to remove the chart move from the one not doing the task.  i.e “Great job Twin B at working to your chart move, we’re almost done!”
  • Again, don’t use the chart move as a threat.  I did that a few times before really understanding it and noticed that when we didn’t award the chart move, we had massive breakdowns
  • If you can’t reward the chart move, don’t make a big deal about it.  Simply say something to the extent of, “we didn’t do that very well so we won’t do a chart move” and move on.  My problem was I was focusing on it as a result of their behavior, which escalated the problem
  • Use intermediate rewards on their chart sporadically, say every 5 moves, as a short term motivator
  • If you have twins, don’t leave permanent markers by the chart. . . . there’s a good chance one will grab it and draw all over the other’s chart.  Grrrr . . .  . . . . .

Hope that helps!  We have Angry Bird (go figure) charts in our kitchen for them and since they use it at school, it works well ~ I think the structure and task / goal focus really helps the twins focus on things.  A bit of a longer post than usual (I try to say under 550 words) but it was a busy week!  Have a good one!

Quick post before my usual Monday update.  Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s out there.  Shout out to my fantastic dad who is probably the person I want to please the most, and the person who I know is always cheering me on.  He’s set a fantastic example for me to follow and I appreciate that.  Love you dad!

Fathers Day on It's A Wunderful Life

I’m surrounded by great dads who are examples to me and for that, I’m grateful.  My wife and kiddos made today extra special for me.  Despite being on at Ragnar for the past 36 hours running, my wife had a perfect dinner for us and we had a nice day as a family.

Father's Day on It's a Wunderful Life

He’s been so excited to give this to me

Father's Day on Its A Wunderful Life Blog

Best Pop Ever – Creative!

I was lucky that the weekend my wife was gone, our city had a big festival.  It was capped off with a fireworks show that we watched from our friend’s porch.  I love that the twins were commenting on which fireworks were their favorite.  Also heard a comment that, “since we brought our Angry Birds but not piggies, the angry birds need to tell the piggies about the fireworks.  That would be good.”

Fireworks and Fathers Day on It's a Wunderful Life

Enjoying the Fireworks

Also, ran across a great post tonight with an AWESOME VIDEO about a dad and his son running triathlons together.  Way touching – check it out here.  I saw this and thought, “now that’s the kind of dad I want to be to my kids.”  Inspirational and very motivating

Have a great week!

 

 

A few weeks back I posted about an awesome soccer camp by the Red Devils Soccer Club here in Utah.  I like this blog format but the hyperlinks don’t show up too well so I’ll bold them whenever I add one.

From Outer Banks Vacations - posted on It's a Wunderful Life

From Outer Banks Vacations

Anyway, I read a post by the Outer Banks earlier in the year about surfing camps for autistic kids and in their most recent post, they inform us they are looking for volunteers but also have a great video with clips from their past camps (check out the post and video here ~ via Outer Banks Surfing for Autism Volunteer Spots Open).  I can’t post video to my blog but the screen shot below is of the video mentioned above.

Surfing for Autism posted by Outer Banks & reposted at It's a Wunderful Life

Screen shot of video posted @ Outer Banks Vacations

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I love the ocean and have posted different things about the ocean from a Pro Surfer with Aspergers (Clay Marzo from Maui), to a video that has a feature on an autistic boy and his love to the ocean (Come Hell or High Water).

I want to give a special “thank you” to those who dream up and make these camps and activities for our kids actually happen.  The soccer camp was great for our family and I am grateful to those who did so much for the camp and those kids who participated.  Likewise, thanks to those who do this surfing activity!

Launiupoko Surfing @ It's a Wunderful Life

Looking forward to getting back home!

We will be hitting the beach soon as well!  One of our uncles back home took my daughter surfing last year and I’m tempted to see if the boys will do ok on a board.  If anything, we’ll try bodyboarding and take it from there.  I bet that we’d get a better response than last year.  🙂

 

Big decisions are always fun to make but add in autistic kids, schooling and ‘their future,’ and the decisions seem to take on more precedence and importance.  We have ABSOLUTELY LOVED the current school our boys are in and have felt extremely grateful that they have been in the program for a year.  However, the school is more than 30 miles from our home and the early mornings, long days and strict schedules we adhere to so the boys can be ready for school have been tough on us.  Tonight was no exception (my wife is an angel).

We were approached by another school that had two positions open up and. . . after much debate, discussion, and observation, we have decided to move them.  Both schools are top in their areas and are very very strong programs so we feel blessed to have two great options for the kids.  While we love their current school and will miss the teachers and staff tremendously; a 7:45 versus 6:00 morning, a bus that picks up and drops off at our doorstep, and 25 minute commute versus 60 minute commute for the boys will be nice!  Plus, their OT and speech sessions will be held individually in the new school where right now, we have to take them to other schools on their “day off” for those sessions.  VERY GRATEFUL for those options and a wife who had started looking into these options two years ago.

It's a Wunderful Life, Angry Birds,

Crashed afterschool with his Angry Bird

Accomplishments: If you read last week’s post, we talked about the Angry Birds pictures my wife had the kids paint.  Well, I have a goal that when I teach piano lessons, I get the boys away from the TV or iPad and on different learning activities.  I’ll consider it a success that for at least half the lessons on Thursday, they were painting and played on their own without the use of electronics.  Rome wasn’t built overnight.  🙂

We’ve also seen great improvement in their writing skills, especially Twin A.  His teachers gave us a sample of his writing and said they wrote the word on a separate piece of paper and asked him to write it on his own.  We did that today with him and the picture below was the result.  The work on ‘pincher grip,’ the IKEA chalkboard, and all the writing is starting to pay off!  By the way ~ boys go in and out of playing with things but the IKEA chalkboard is a definite must have!

Occupational Therapy, Writing, It's a Wunderful LIfe

His writing is really improving!

One of the reasons we moved was to be closer to family.  One of my brothers and his family will be moving to Hawaii (yes yes – very unfortunate move for them) in a few weeks so we’ve been trying to spend all the time we can with their cousins before they move.  The boys did extremely well at the zoo, especially since we didn’t ride the popular train at the beginning of the visit but waited until the end.

It's a Wunderful Life @ Hogle Zoo in Utah

Hanging with their cousin on the train at the zoo

Tip of the Week: This is an example of an exercise from a recent speech visit.  The goal was to get the boys to say something that is the same and another thing that is different.  This is something we really need to work on but it’s coming along!  We did cats / dogs, different types of balls, vehicles, etc.  Really easy to make on our own – get a bunch of pictures and throw them on powerpoint but here’s an example of the cards we used in the session.

It's a Wunderful Life, Speech Therapy

What’s different? What’s the same?

Have a great week!  Thank you all for your comments on my help request last week!  Results and updates to follow shortly!

Where has the time gone?  I think I’ve been so focused on other things the past few weeks I forgot to post!  It’s been nice to catch up on some of your blogs and see what’s been happening.  We’ve got some big decisions in the air regarding the boyz and should have some clarification on that in the next few days. . . stay tuned!

Accomplishments:  The boys came out of their church class with little stickers on their chest – those are reminders that they will in some fashion be involved in the primary activity the following Sunday. Though we totally spaced it until about an hour before church the following Sunday, the boys were so excited and did really well sitting quietly and at their little parts.  Twin A, especially, loves to participate.  I sometimes play piano for the primary and he always has his hand up hoping to answer a question.  I was happy they did well and it was a good experience for them.

Boys sitting ‘up front’ for their part in the program

We also reserve Monday Nights for our family time, otherwise known as Family Home Evening in church circles.  Honestly, it’s tough to keep the boys attention for even a 10 minute ‘family time’ and lesson but hey, you gotta try, right? We always start with a song and this past week, they both wanted to take turns at the piano.

FHE Piano

Twin B taking his turn at the piano

We’ve been counting down days on their calendar until specific events. . . . . Charlie’s Soccer Camp. . . . .tutor visit. . . . . trip to HI.  We did ‘countdown chains’ for our trip to Hawaii and the kids actually sat and did this with us.  A popsicle bribe was probably the main reason but still, fun night.

With their ‘countdown’ chains until HI!

Over the weekend, I slipped downstairs for about 45 minutes to fold laundry and finish up a movie I had started the night before.  My wife was watching the kids but within about 10 minutes, I heard her on the piano and it was quiet upstairs.  I had my iPhone so I knew the boys weren’t playing on the phones.  I came upstairs and this is what they were doing.

Angry Bird Saturday

What? Peace and quiet for 30 minutes? NO WAY!

My wife had printed out a bunch of Angry Bird pictures from the internet and the kids were sitting and doing water colors on them.  It’s rare that the three of them will find something to do together . . . . and sit down for more than 10 minutes.  My wife was sitting down enjoying some piano time ~great idea!

Tip of the Week: The boys have trouble tracking items visually.  For example, if you hold something in front of them and tell them to watch it while you move it in a circle, they will usually break concentration during the movement.  Our OT suggested that we use a Skittle, flashlight, or something that will keep the boys attention and have them track while sitting down, lying on their backs, etc.  This skill leads into a bunch of others so we’ll work on it and hopefully, get it down during the summer.  Now to get them to STOP FIGHTING over who gets to lie closest to mommy. . . . . . AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

Request:  We’re working on taking turns and sharing. . . . hasn’t been the most pleasant experience.  The boys scream and fight over who gets to sit behind mommy in the car and it’s CONSTANT. . .  that’s just on instance.  Any good advice or tips – please share!  Thanks in advance!  🙂