Saturday, January 28, 2017


One of the things Sawyer and Xander work on at occupational therapy is learning new games. There are lots of benefits - following directions, turn-taking, social aspects of give and take and conversation. Xander LOVES certain games. He becomes obsessed. We often barter with a favorite game to get him to try a new game at home. Right now, his favorite is Trouble (we have the Minions version). It used to be Zingo. He's also loved a Monster game. We bargain with him to play Connect Four, Scrabble, and others. It also helps if we let him watch a movie, too. Madagascar 3 is a current favorite. But he'll play his favorite games without the movie. Just don't win too many times, or he's not going to like it!

The Artist

Xander LOVES art of all kinds. One of our more recent discoveries is his love of painting. Sometimes he needs a picture prompt, something to give him an idea, but he always takes off with it and make it his own. We go through a lot of arts and crafts supplies in our house, so Michael's is our friend. We're on the email list, which offers some pretty good savings on regular priced items and even sale items, depending on what you're looking for. Every little bit helps, because, like I've said before, this kid LOVES art. And if he doesn't have a screen, it's a pretty safe bet that he's doing something with art.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Eleven. How did that happen? And what happened to my little bitty boys. It goes by in an instant ...

Xander's "WordWorld" cake that we made ...

Someone's ready to light the candles ...

Sawyer doesn't do cake ... so he get's an assortment of Sour Patch Kids, color coded, of course ...

Birthday boys and their balloons, cake / candy, and presents ...

Happy boys to blow out the candles ...

Opening presents after dinner (their favorite, Raising Cane's tailgate pack of chicken fingers, french fries, toast with some home-made add ons for everyone else - green beans, corn, and macaroni and cheese)!

Connor's expression cracks me up ... one would think it's because Xander got socks for his birthday, but no, it's because Xander has cool tall socks, which so far have only belonged to Connor!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mosaic Man

Sawyer doesn't love art quite as much as Xander. Fine motor deficits have always made his pencil grip a little light, but certain art projects make him happy. He loves to color solid colors of crayons on white paper. He also LOVES these mosaic projects from Melissa and Doug. We've gone through all of them at some point. The good news is he has three windows in his bedroom. The bad news is we're out of new designs to buy for him!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

First Basketball Game

Xander is trying Special Olympics basketball for the first time this winter season. And his first game was being held tonight. At the indoor pool the boys have always loved near Grammy and Pappy's house. So what did we do? We went swimming first, since it was an 8:15p start time for his game. I was afraid not being able to swim would upset him and ruin his first game experience.

So we stopped at Chick-fil-a for dinner, also part of our indoor pool routine, then headed over to swim for a few hours before game time.

And then we waited and waited (games were running behind schedule) for our 8:15p game that actually tipped off at 8:45p. Xander enjoys shooting baskets, but so far, the game itself has been less than impressive to him. He doesn't understand all the rules, or why he's expected to pass to other people to shoot! It's a work in progress. He was excited to bring the ball up the court. He was unexcited during his times on the bench (see him laying on the floor). Of course, he was also just tired. It was a long day and late game for a fifth grader. He's by far the youngest player on the team, so the late start time affects him more. He does have to get up at 7a for elementary school the next day, after all.

Model Athlete

Look who made the advertising poster for Special Olympics Kentucky. Xander LOVED track that very first season, when he won all kinds of shiny gold medals at state games. This photo was snapped during one of those gold medal runs, and his happiness shines through.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gym Time

Finding and staying with a sport has been a challenge for Connor.

We did baseball for several seasons when he was younger and he seemed to enjoy it. Coach pitch league was by far his favorite, and he stayed for nearly three years. As soon as he moved up to kid pitch, his love quickly disappeared. He was a catcher in coach pitch, and did the job well. But in kid pitch, kids are throwing, or more accurately, learning to throw. And you can steal bases on wild pitches. So his love ended really quick during a short fall ball season while being expected to catch a lot of uneven and unexpected throws and being able to hold base runners at the same time.

We offered basketball or soccer, and he passed on those. A lot of running, he said.

We did several years of martial arts, both mixed martial arts (MMA) training and Krav Maga (defense). He liked the MMA for a while, until a favorite coach left and the new one didn't have a great style for his age group. He liked Krav Maga with certain coaches, but the two who generally led the class favored a yell and lecture style that was not his favorite (or mine either, to be honest).

We offered lacrosse or archery, thinking those would be good options with middle school teams he might join for friendship and fitting in at a new school (we moved districts last school year, and he's going to school with kids he didn't go to elementary school with). He tried lacrosse. Two seasons (spring and summer) and $700 worth of gear later, he decided it wasn't his thing. It was fun in the youth group (spring), but got considerably more difficult as he aged up into the middle school league (summer). As a new player, it was hard to compete at that level. Plus, that whole lot of running thing again.

He tried out for archery, but because it's so popular, didn't make the cut. He also tends to display a lack of interest in just about everything he does, so I'm sure that didn't help with the selection process among tons of other kids eager to participate and learn. He wasn't very bummed about it, but we're firm believers that you need to do SOMETHING, anything really, to have a group of core friends and learn some since of discipline and accomplishment in life.

He does enjoy flag football, and continues to play that today. He's approaching his fourth season this spring and can play until age 14, so two more years. What he likes, of course, is that it's only one day a week - practice first, then game. And then it's over.

All of the other sports, were multi-day sports and his interest level just wasn't that high. Baseball was five to six days a week during the main season, and three to four during the fall season. Martial arts was either two or three days per week. Lacrosse was three to four days a week.

With team sports out, at least for the moment, we've given him another option for the time being. Going to the YMCA gym with Mom. We try to make it twice a week, depending on when the twins' CLS workers are available to take them on the same days. We do a lot of cycling, some running on the elliptical, and some simply weight machines (arms, rowing, etc.). At least one of the days can be in the indoor pool, with the catch that he has to swim laps for part of the time we're there. Mostly, he chooses the gym. There are screens to watch on many of the machines, which makes him happy. He also has the option of bringing an iPod with music (the phone quickly got banned, as he spent more time watching YouTube and hardly doing anything else).

So far, the flexible schedule and choosing the gym or the pool have worked. We have flag football starting soon, so he's relatively active for the moment. Eating out after the gym also helps, as it turns into fun Mom and Big Boy date nights.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Xander LOVES art. He goes through more paper and markers than anyone I know. I used to think I loved art as a child. But Xander's love / obsession goes much further. If you tell him to "play with toys," his idea of toys is white paper and markers. Sometimes we see road signs, an early and often love of his, and sometimes we see video games. Today, we saw something a little different. This one is his Norfolk Southern train. And I love it. It has two engines, a tanker car, and a caboose!

Sunday, January 15, 2017


One of Xander's Christmas presents this year was a karaoke machine. He hasn't enjoyed it quite as much as we imagined just yet, especially given his love of music and his frequent desire to to control the playlist of iTunes in the car. But with a little help, he's learning to operate and enjoy it. The fact that one of the included songs was "Counting Stars" by One Republic, a favorite and often played iTunes choice of his, has helped. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he really gets into it. He loves microphones, loves music, and loves being in charge of the songs. What more could he need?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Day at the Indoor Pool

What to do on a cold, winter day with two restless little boys. Take them to the indoor pool! Aunt Kelly and Sawyer were out on their own adventure, so I loaded up Connor and Xander for a lazy afternoon at the local YMCA indoor pool ...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Play Doh Fun

Toys are still difficult. Unless you sit down with the boys and actively engage them, they have trouble simply "playing with toys" around the house. One of the things that Sawyer has always loved, and continues to love, is Play Doh. It's a little messy (those little pieces are everywhere after he's done), but it occupies him for a long period of time independently. And that's worth a little mess. Independent play that makes my boys happy - priceless!

Snapshot Sunday

The struggle is real, Bruno says. Staying awake on a lazy day is hard ...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy Smile

Skating has always been something Xander has enjoyed. The lady who works admissions knows Xander by name, and has a wall of his art and receipts behind her, because he goes pretty often. Sawyer has gone a few times, but for the most part, it's been hard. I understand. The place is a sensory nightmare even for me, and I don't have autism. It's loud, with the noise of people and screaming children and the DJ and music. It's bright, with fluorescent lights everywhere and then a disco ball on top of that, not to mention the bright lights and noise of the nearby arcade.

But on this day, skating was Sawyer's happy place. It was early, so the crowds hadn't arrived yet. It wasn't as noisy as usual. And he skated and skated and skated. All with that big smile on his face. I love how when we keep trying, sometimes, we find things that he eventually enjoys even though none of our earlier visits would have suggested it. There are places where he pulls the car door back shut on you, because he doesn't want to go. There are places where he yells and screams and even cries. But, eventually, he finds his way.

Except for Target. There's no love for him with Target. (Also, I think, because of many of the above things - bright lights, noise, enormous crowds of people). We keep trying, and we've progressed from flopping down in the floor in the doorway, but it's usually a quick trip and multiple "all done" moments from him.