Last year, we started taking the kids to BYU Athletic Activities.  My brothers and I grew up playing volleyball so our first ventures were to the BYU Men’s Vball Games.  My daughter and I have been going to Men’s Games for the past few years but this past year was the first time for the boys and the LOVED IT!

With Papa and da boyz Uncles at a vball game

With Papa and da boyz Uncles at a vball game

With the kids recent interest in soccer and all three of them really enjoying this fall season, we decided to venture out to a BYU Women’s Soccer Game.  Our one mistake with this plan was going to the game agains BYU’s rival – the Utah Utes so we ended up in a packed audience!  We usually pick ‘off-nights’ to try out new activities just so it’s easier to manage in case the situation is overwhelming for the boys but well . . . . no choice with this one.

Twin B chasing me with his Blue BYU Sword he got at dinner

Twin B chasing me with his Blue BYU Sword he got at dinner

Thank you to some gracious families who squeezed in so we could get some of the last seats on the last bleacher in the stadium!  We packed a ton of treats for the kids.  I feel bad having to bring treats and charged iphones but at the same time, I’d rather have the boys eating semi-healthy snacks from home versus the sugar and junk food at the games.  As far as the iPhones go, we usually make them watch an hour of something before we break out the phones. We were in the back of the student section so for any of our kids to see, they had to either stand or be carried by my wife and I so I give the kids credit for being gamers and not complaining during the game.

Go Cougars!  Future Cougars cheering the Blue & White to victory!

Go Cougars! Future Cougars cheering the Blue & White to victory!

There was a family behind us that I give a ton of credit to – they had a number of kids with them and were trying to watch the game without snacks, phones, or any other distractions.  Granted, it didn’t seem to be going too well but at the same time, it’s tough for kids to see others around them with phones or snacks and not have any.  That led into a long talk on the ride home about the kids and how to break them of their snacking / phone habits.  We usually try to over prepare for events in case we have a meltdown.   We can also get through church, drives, etc without any electronics and snacks but now, it’s time to help the boys through smaller activities – our daughter’s soccer games will be the first new activity this week.  They can usually last until half time . . . now to get them to the end of the game.  Any suggestions will be GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Sunset at South Field BYU

Sunset at South Field BYU

Our daughter’s games actually aren’t too bad – certain fields have playgrounds and the boyz can run around.  There’s just a few fields and after an hour of driving to get there, the boys are tired and cranky.  I guess we could leave them home with a babysitter but I think it’s important for all of us to cheer and support each other on as much as we can.

BYU pulled out a last second victory on a penalty kick – I’m glad they pulled out a win but wish games like this didn’t come down to a penalty called on one play on one individual.  At any rate, the kids celebrated the victory and we now have our first BYU Soccer Game in the books!

It’s been an amazing journey with these two boys – I’d like to wish them a Happy Birthday!  It’s a blessing and privilege to be the dad to these two little kiddos.  I am so appreciative of the time I am able to spend with them and all that I learn from them.  Happy Bday Boyz!

My lil' Mini Me's!

My lil’ Mini Me’s!

We had an extremely busy summer.  Our daughter spent five weeks in Hawaii staying with her grandparents on Maui – tough life!  It was tough to see her gone for so long but at the same time, talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’ll post more on it later.

Bryce Canyon!

Bryce Canyon!

Da Boyz spent all of June in their ABA program and all of July having Summer School a few days a week.  We had a few weeks of real ‘summer’ in August before school started and decided to take a vacation with our UT relatives down to St George Utah.

Short hike that's actually outside of Bryce Canyon - perfect for kids!

Short hike that’s actually outside of Bryce Canyon – perfect for kids!

Last summer, we came here and did a trip to Zions National Park.  This year, we decided to see the Mulan Show at Tuacahn and spend some time at Bryce Canyon – one of my favorite areas in Utah.  My wife is extremely happy that the boys actually like to hike.  While there is constant bickering and positioning over who will be ‘line-leader,’ it also means that our hikes are actually pretty fast paced since the boys are constantly running in front of each other.

Exploring on the outskirts of St George

Exploring on the outskirts of St George

I think the highlight for any trip as a kid is the hotel.  Tutu (our SLC grandma) picked a great hotel that had a nice pool for the kids to play in.  The boys LOVED the pool and it was PERFECT during the extremely hot and dry afternoons . . . .a little chilly at 9am when the boys want to go swimming but hey, kids will be kids, right?

Twin B's "Suicide" Jump Form

Twin B’s “Suicide” Jump Form

The kiddos love swimming and we have them in swim classes at a local rec center.  We end up buying a summer swim pass since we can stay at the pool for hours and the kids within five weeks, we usually hit our ROI figure.  Our highlight this year is the fact that the boys can do the ‘big slide’ by themselves and, for the most part, are self sufficient at getting around most of the pool.  Awesome progress!

I Love To See The Temple!

I Love To See The Temple!

One of my biggest regrets  of our time in CA is that we didn’t take advantage of the amazing outdoor escapes near us . . . . . the ocean . . .Yosemite . . . Lake Tahoe . . . . Redwoods .  . . etc.  I’m glad that we are able to do these trips and that the kids, for the most part, enjoy the activities.

Ah yes - boys will be boys

Ah yes – boys will be boys

Hope you all had a great summer!  It’s crazy to look back at pics of even a year ago and see how much these kiddos have grown . . . . where does the time go?  YIKES!

WOW!  I can’t believe how busy our summer was – I’ve decided I need to be better at posting and I’m going to spend Sunday’s doing posts on the boys. . . . since one of the purposes of this blog is to be a journal for our family.

Image

Congratulations! Four years of ABA done!

Here’s CatchUp Post #1 – After four years of early intervention and 30 hours a week of ABA therapy, Da Boyz officially graduated from their current Autism Program and are headed to mainstream kindergarten.  We are extremely excited (and very nervous) for them and I am incredibly grateful for the amazing individuals and groups that have worked with our boyz.  I feel like we’ve met so many individuals that love and care for our boys as much as we do and for that, I’m extremely thankful for their support and tutelage along the way.

Graduation Leis, flower leis

We made graduation leis for the other graduates and teachers in the school . . . . love the colors!

I think I’ve learned a ton through 1-1 meetings with their teachers, parent conferences and trainings we have attended, and spending time in the school.  It is extremely hard and humbling to be the stay-at-home dad but at the same time, I look at what I’ve learned through these experiences and how much my relationship with my family has improved and I must say, I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to be with da boyz.

Image

One of my nephews who came to support Da Boyz! We’ve got such a great support group around – blessed!

I know there will be struggles, headaches, and some tough days ahead in mainstream school but at the same time, I know that it’s the right thing to try at this time!

Image

One of many awesome teachers who worked with our boys. Grateful for these professionals and experts who have made such a difference with our family

One nice chance will be having our boys closeby.  They’ve commuted to school for the past three years and it will be so nice to have them at the same school as Big Sis.

My wife deserves all the credit for this one.  Many LDS Wards / Congregations have a Father / Son Campout.  I remember my first one with my dad was at Camp Maluhia on Maui and it was awesome . . . until I cut my ankle open at 1am and my dad had to take me to the emergency room.

Big helpers setting up the tent

Big helpers setting up the tent

 

There was much deliberation on my part whether or not I should take the kids to the campout. . . . I am honestly not a great outdoorsman and the thought of spending a Friday Night sleeping on the ground and possibly, having to work through breakdowns or fights wasn’t my idea of a fun night.

However, the boys really did fantastic.  The campground was in American Fork Canyon and is literally 15 minutes from our home.  The boys were SO EXCITED – my wife took them to the store to pick out a special ‘camp candy’ and off we went!  The boys helped me set up the tent, carry everything from the car, and off they went to chase one of their friends.

Roasting Marshmallows

Being a stay-at-home dad, one of my biggest pet peeves is being at a public setting (gym class, water park, etc) and having non-attentive parents who, pardon the phrase, but lack of parenting put their kids and mine in tough situations. . . . parents who are too busy talking on the phone to notice their kid is pushing and cutting in gym . . . . or pushing all the other kids off the water guns at the park and my kids patiently waiting their turn.  Life isn’t fair . . I get that . . . but this really gets under my skin.

Well, imagine 20 kids around a campfire with 3ft long sticks in the fire and each of them checking their stick . . . .or running to meet a friend . . . or putting the stick in someone’s face to ‘blow out the candle.’  Ugh!  I guess dads aren’t any more attentive than their spouses.  🙂

Enjoying their tent candy

Enjoying their tent candy

It was cold that night and as soon as the boys were in bed, they were out cold.  We woke up the next morning and Twin A (momma’s boy) wanted to go home to see mom but I held him off for a few hours so they could eat breakfast and hang out a little longer.

Post camp results.  One happy mommy & two tired kiddos

Post camp results. One happy mommy & two tired kiddos

I’m glad my wife really made it possible for us to go on the campout . . . encouraging and pushing me to do this.  I’m thankful for the kids that include my twins and have fun with them . . . . some of the others don’t and that’s fine but there are some kids that are exceptional and for them, I am truly grateful.

Looking forward to our next Father / Son Campout.

The boys have been preparing for and anxiously waiting for their Gymnastic Show that happened this past Saturday.  We’ve had the boys in gym class for the past 6-7 months and while it has been a struggle at times, it has definitely paid off for the boys.  During the first classes, we had breakdowns every few minutes . . . tears from each every class . . . and I was ready to just call it quits each time we went.  However, here we are six months later and I can leave the class for 15 minutes and come back and both boys are still happy.  Wow . . . . .

Image

The Rope Swing! What kid doesn’t love this one?

I can’t remember who suggested we try a gym class but the lead teachers at this class have been exceptional.  When I approached the main instructor about the boys and mentioned their autism, she suggested putting the boys in a morning class since it would only have a handful of students, and I’d be able to watch and help (if needed) in the morning – the afternoon classes are ‘drop off only’ since the classes are so full and the noise level is tough to tolerate. . . . not to mention the chaos of having so many kids doing different activities at once.  She said the boys will probably do well in the ‘structure’ of gymnastics but have to learn to deal with other students since they are all waiting for a turn.

Image

And DONE! Final practice before the ‘big day’

Sure enough, we’ve had our challenges . . . . excited little boys tend to ‘skip’ stations and both of our boys get very upset when some of their classmates do that.  We’ve had bumps and small run-ins, one twin being picked to ‘lead’ the class and the other doesn’t . . .  all of these are ‘real life’ things that they will have to deal with and while it has caused tears and frustration, it has gotten considerably better over the course of the year.

Image

Congrats Boys!

The gym classes have focused on a number of skills (hopping, somersaults, pullups, balancing, etc) that the boys are working on in their APE (Assisted PE) classes and I’ve noticed that they’ve progressed at school as a result of their gym class.  I’ve been trying to get to class a few minutes early so the boys can run around and talk with the other kids . . . it has been fun to watch their play and interaction with others.  They are now SO EXCITED to go to the gym and from a parent’s point of view, it’s considerably less stressful.  🙂

Image

A Proud Mom with her Boyz

I do get a little defensive when I hear other boys tell my boys to ‘hurry up’ but I know that’s just little kids being little kids.  I also know I get anxious and nervous when I see how good some of the kids pick things up and how long it’s taken my boys to do a fraction of it. . . . . However, I remember something I learned serving a LDS Mission when I was 19.  I was talking to my mission president (our adult leader) about a particular missionary in my area that just couldn’t / wouldn’t focus on certain activities that were expected of missionaries.  After venting my frustration, my mission president calmly told me that sometimes, we need to consider how far someone has come.  It’s easy to hold everyone to the same standard and get frustrated when people don’t meet that expectation . . . however, sometimes we need to take a step back and realize how far people have come . . . .and how much work it’s taken some people to get to where they are.

Image

What a Fantastic Day! Congrats Boys!

I think of that conversation often with my boys and realize, they really have come so far and they both exhibit so much courage in a world that is considerably different than and exponentially more difficult to navigate than when I was little.  As they stood on the podium raising their hands and receiving their medals, I couldn’t help but realize that these two little boys have come so far . . . . do so well . . . and are examples to me in so many ways. . . . proud day.  Thanks boys for being my idols.  I love you both and want you to know that just like I watch and cheer you on during your performance, I will do that every day of your life.  It’s a privilege to be your dad.

My wife and I had a conversation the other night about how ‘literal’ our boys see things and view the world.  We have fabulous friends up the street who have an older boy (11 yrs old) who is autistic and they have him mainstreamed.  She has shared some of the growths . . . struggles . . .triumphs . . . and challenges they’ve had along the way.  Sidenote – this is a really amazing family and I’ve noticed how thoughtful and considerate they are of others . . . great examples for me!  🙂

GGGGOOOAAALLLL!!!!

GGGGOOOAAALLLL!!!!

Anyway, our daughters are on the same soccer team and they’ve started the spring schedule with two tough games and really got smashed both games . . . . . though they did win today 5-0 so it’s either hit or miss with our team.  Our friends mom, A mentioned that her daughter (let’s call her “C” for this post) felt ‘deflated’ after the past game.

On hearing that, the autistic 11 yr old mentioned that, “yeah when ‘C’ (sister) was a baby, she was pretty chubby but she isn’t chubby anymore, huh?”  Interesting how he understood ‘deflated’ and thought of it that since his sister is running around and exercising, she is losing weight  versus how the moms were talking about it in terms of spirit and morale.

Found this on google - had to chuckle at it

Found this on google – had to chuckle at it

Got me thinking a lot about communication nuances and  what it’ll be like when the boys get older  and we have those types of nuances come up in their social conversations.  There are simple ones now that come up that we explain and I’m not sure how much of it really comes across to the boys but I’m sure we’ll have some fun ones along the way.  I was extremely impressed that our 11-yr old friend had, on his own, thought through what “deflated” meant and how it could possibly relate to this situation and had made a very good inference to it’s meaning.  That was fantastic to see!

Have any you’d care to share?