Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Time


And the living is easy ...

Once baseball ended, Connor's summer truly began. It started with a trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa at their cabin on the lake. Mommy and brothers joined them on the weekends, but Connor stayed during the week. And he made the most of his time, as you can see.

Other adventures have included trips to the movies (Monsters University and Despicable Me 2), a local minor league baseball game, a trip to a regional amusement and water park, a music festival and fourth of July fireworks event, another trip to the lake, and now another trip with Grammy and Pappy.

This time Connor is on an island that will take him back in time. There are no cars, just bikes and walking paths. There are fancy hotels and horse-drawn carriage rides. There's dinner in the formal restaurant (for which we had to purchase dress clothes, since our kids are not big on anything other than athletic pants and tee shirts).

Here's his first day ...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Days at Home ...

When the weather cooperates (meaning it's not raining every single day or that it's not unseasonably cold for our part of the world), the boys have been enjoying the backyard pool this summer.

Sawyer loves it the most. He could stay in it all day, every day, when the water temperature is decent. Xander likes to jump, but his love is hit or miss. Connor would probably tie Sawyer for loving it the most, but he hasn't been home much of the summer. So he's not been in it as much as the other two.

And we'll save his adventures for another day (because there are many, and it's going to take a while) ...


Fearless. Never mind that he's the youngest, I'm pretty sure Xander is one of the most fearless people that I've ever met. He's not afraid to try anything. He watches everything, studies everything, and he's always ready to try it out himself. He watched from the boat for a few minutes, as Uncle Brian, Cousins Austin and Kyndal, and Connor climbed up some cliffs and jumped into the lake.

A few minutes was all it took.

"This one," he said to me, pointing hard at the cliffs. I shrugged and said why not. I told him he'd have to swim over there. He proceeded to jump off the front of the boat (something he'd seen Connor do, but he'd never done before) and to swim over the the base of the cliffs. I called out to Uncle Brian and the others, who were looking out for him and helped him navigate the rocky cliff without shoes. They took him on the shorter cliff first, just to see if he would like it. He jumped, promptly climbed back up and pointed his fingers again at the taller cliff where the big kids had been jumping.

"This one," he said again. I could here him clearly from my place with Grandpa on the boat (and Sawyer who was happily swimming behind the boat and had no intentions of joining the rest of the jumpers).

So up he went, to the high cliff. Uncle Brian showed him where to jump, told him to jump out. He looked slightly hesitant at first. Connor jumped to show him how it was done. And that was all it took. He jumped in right after him (that's Connor's head in the water in the photo above). And they jumped and jumped and jumped. Xander probably would have kept on jumping. He eventually swam back out to the boat with the others.

And that's the story of how Xander went cliff diving for the first-time ever. On the big cliff. With cheers from his family. And also the random boaters who were also swimming nearby and on the cliffs. Apparently they were impressed that the "little guy," as they called him, was jumping, too.


The rest of the cliff diving photos are here.

Fourth of July

Clearly we're a little behind on our posting. For the first time, the boys went downtown to watch the big fireworks. Our city hosted two different nights, Thursday (the actual holiday) and Friday. We opted out of Thursday, mostly because of the rain but also because the twins both fell asleep before 10 o'clock that night, which rarely happens. Friday we opted in.

Connor and Daddy went with Grammy and Pappy to watch the music festival that hosted the second night of fireworks. Since we didn't think the twins would think much of the music or the long day, I opted to stay home with them. I wasn't sure if we'd make it downtown to watch the fireworks or not. But Xander kept hearing fireworks go off all around us, and he kept asking to see fireworks. So I packed them up and headed downtown around 9 o'clock. We parked on a side street close the stadium where the festival was being held. It was still raining off and on, so we turned the truck around both to give the boys a dry place to watch and also to be facing the right direction when it was time to leave (ahead of the thousands of people parked at the stadium for the whole event). We had amazing front-row seats to the fireworks show (along with several other families who were doing the same thing we did, just parking outside the stadium to watch).

I forgot to pack the boys noise-canceling headphones. I was a little worried about that. But they did fine. Both held their hands over their ears at times, and Sawyer kind of hid in the bottom of my truck, but he didn't take his eyes off of the show. I think they really enjoyed watching the big fireworks. Both of them still ask to look at the pictures I took (my photos are the screen saver on my laptop, so they see them scrolling through). Xander will say "See fireworks pictures" and both boys will sit down in front of the laptop to revisit the show.

I'm calling it a success, despite the rain and the lack of headphones. Maybe we'll eventually work our way up to doing the whole festival with the rest of the family. One step at a time ...

At the Club

Last year the boys outgrew the very safe, very contained children's area at the country club where Grammy and Pappy (who are members) invite us to swim. It makes our days at the pool a little more interesting.

Now we move between the three big pools. The family pool has the slide, which all three boys love. The dive pool has two diving boards, which Connor and Xander both love (I'm pretty sure this is the main reason Xander has taught himself some very basic swimming). Sawyer thinks he would like it, but so far we've not managed to get him off the end of the diving board. He just stands out on the edge and bounces. And then we pull him back before the lifeguards (or other people wanting to dive) get upset. The last pool is just a swim pool. There are lanes on one half and free swimming in medium depth (4 feet on the edges, 5 feet in the middle).

On a trip a few weeks back, I took Sawyer and Xander toward the end of the day when the pool tends to be less crowded. Connor was off on one of his many summer adventures, which I'll save for another post. We still moved around. Xander wanted to stay mostly in the dive pool and the family pool with the slide. Sawyer was content in the family pool, until it closed (earlier than the others, probably so they can down staff some of the lifeguards).

Just one of the many ways the twins continue to grow up on us. It's hard to believe we've outgrown the kiddie pool and toys, and now we've moved into diving and sliding into deep waters. So it goes ...

Summer Help

As school ended and summer began, the twins started on another part of their journey. For several months (nearly a year), we have been wading through the paperwork and processes involved to obtain a waiver service that will allow the boys to have some extra help at home. It was finalized near the end of the school year, and with the help of our amazing school team contacts, we hired some amazing helpers to come in and work with the boys (each boy is allowed up to 35 hours a week in the summer and up to 25 hours a week during the school year).

It took some adjusting. The boys were not used to "working" at home or during the summer. But we've established a routine, of sorts, and the boys generally do well with it. As with most things, we work incredibly hard to balance the work and therapy aspects with everyday life and fun aspects. A lot of what they boys are doing is play, something that does not come naturally to either of our twins and that typically has a dual purpose of working on fine or gross motor skills, turn-taking, following directions or some other therapy-related skill. Board games, arts and crafts, puzzles, lots of Melissa & Doug toys that have been accumulating dust for years because the boys will only touch them if someone sits down with them to play. We also work on some basic academic concepts - math, spelling, handwriting, etc. There are also fun things like scooter rides to the park, blowing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, backyard swimming and trampoline bouncing.

And there are the adventures, which the twins love the best of all. We rejoined the local children's museum and also signed up for a membership at an indoor climbing gymnasium (think Chick-fil-a play place on steroids). Those are everyday options. The local bowling alleys have been offering up to two free games of bowling every day before 5 p.m. for joining their free kids club, so the boys have also taken advantage of that. There are also visits to the previously mentioned Chick-fil-a, Orange Leaf and the local shave-ice trucks. There are trips to pools, the local library, several different city parks, and more. They're having a busy summer.

Having the extra help has been wonderful. It's also taken quite a bit of effort in terms of coordination and paperwork. With different helpers, the schedules are varied. Sometimes Xander has a helper and Sawyer doesn't, or the other way around. And I become the substitute helper for whoever doesn't have one. Because both boys now expect to work when someone is in the house. And they will attempt to takeover whichever helper happens to be in the house, whether it's their helper or not. And then there's the weekly paperwork - time sheets, service documentation, training materials, etc.

Having help has also tied us down more this summer. Our lake visits have been limited to weekends only, since our helpers come during the week. But as we already have speech and occupational therapy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it's just a few more days.

We're still learning our way through the waiver program and also learning our way around scheduling and what works best for the boys. It's been great to have extra hands to help, since I can't be in three places at one time, which is often what our boys think they need. I love that the boys are getting to go so many different places, to spend time with other people and other peers doing typical things. It's also nice that all of those toys people purchased over the years are finally getting some real use. Even if it is still just a hurry up and finish to get to the next thing, at least they're playing.

Now that summer is slowly coming to an end, we'll have to readjust our schedules and figure out what works during the school year. We just have to find that balance again ...