"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fun with a Scooter Board

We try our best to carry over as many therapy activities over to our home as much as possible.  When I used to do Physical Therapy with adults we used to give our patients a "home program."  This was a group of stretches and exercises they needed to do at home to maintain and build strength for whatever their injury or issue was.  When we dove into the world of pediatric therapy I was surprised to see that no one got a home program!  An hour a week of exercise is not enough to build strength, so I took things into my own hands.  I think to maximize success, therapy should be a DAILY activity.  Pediatric therapy is basically fun play activities geared towards a specific function, so why couldn't I work it into our activities at home?  

One activity that Peanuts OT and PT do is use a scooter board.  I went online and found that scooter boards on average sell for about $20.00.  I ordered one and got to work.  I got a thin rope and tied it to a closet door at the end of our hall.  Then Peanut sat on the scooter board and used the rope to pull himself down the hall.

He loved it!  After he reached the end we had him lay on the scooter board on his stomach and crawl down to the beginning of the hall using his hands and arms.  These are a great fun upper body and core strengthening activity, not to mention lots of fun!

Want some more ideas for using a scooter board?  Check out these links!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Waiting Room Blues

One thing I have been struggling with, especially lately, is what to do with my practically recovered child (Sassy) while my other child (Peanut) is in therapy. Peanut goes to the same place for OT, PT, and Speech therapy. Sassy used to also go to the same place, but as she improved in skill and behavior she was discharged from therapy. At first I was celebrating...until I realized my new problem. Peanut still had 3 therapies and now Sassy was "stuck" in a waiting room 3 hours a week when she knew very well what was behind the therapy room doors. (Multiple rooms filled with toys, swings, ball pits, trampolines, balls, you name it!) Don't get me wrong, the waiting room is filled with books and toys, but it's nothing compared to those therapy rooms.
When Sassy finished OT, it was a struggle. She wanted to go play in the ball pits. I brought bags of activities and games. When we got our iPad we started to bring that too. After a while she got used to the new routine and now rarely gives me a problem.
Trying to keep Sassy busy outside while Peanut does OT and Speech
Now my new hurdle: Peanut needs to continue group music therapy and Sassy doesn't. I think this is going to be harder for her. We've decided to sign her up for a ballet class to make up for it. She says waiting while Peanut is in music therapy is okay with her (as long as she gets to go to ballet). I hope she's right...but she's 3. Only time will tell over the next couple of weeks when music therapy starts up again, and Sassy cant go through that door with the other kids.
I feel bad for her, but at the same time so excited. Sassy no longer needs ANY therapy. THANKYOU God, one child is practically recovered! One down, one to go!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Get fun with lunches!

      For some reason when we went GFCFSF and organic, lunches seemed difficult to figure out.  I think it's because I had some pre-conceived notion that lunch had to be a particular type of food.  Enough with the boring sandwiches!  Lets be honest, a sandwich every day gets pretty boring.  

    Both my kids love to snack so I decided it as time to make lunch a little more fun, not only for my children but also for me too!  I knew I wanted to be sure to incorporate protein, at least one vegetable and one fruit into each meal.  At first I started simple, and gave the kids small piles of different foods on their plates.  

      Then one day as I was packing lunches I took a look at some organic corn cakes and started to get ideas.  As I looked at the corn cake I saw a smiling face and decided to get creative.  

My fun lunch!

With a little creativity, a healthy lunch turned into something fun and enjoyable for us again.  (And you know what?  The kids ate ALL of their lunch that day!)   How do you get creative with your lunches?

God Bless!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Peanut!

I can hardly believe that 5 years ago my little angel "Peanut" , our first little miracle was born.  We knew from the very beginning he would give us a run for our money and he hasn't stopped!  He is such a smart, funny, and caring child.  I thank God every day for bringing him into our lives.  Although we have had many struggles along the way, we have over come them with God's help.  We are so overwhelmingly proud of him and all his achievements so far.  He has over come SO MUCH in his 5 years, I can't wait to see what's to come!  

Happy Birthday my little Peanut!  We love you "big, big, big!"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Operation Organization: Recipes.

It's been a while, but my organizing is back in full swing. I am feeling trapped by all of our "stuff" and it's driving me nuts! My desire is for our household to run efficiently and effortlessly (as much as possible). One thing that has built up is the countless recipes I have printed out over the past 3 years. Every time I find a good looking recipe I print it out, but then where does it go? It used to go where ever I could shove it (another cookbook, a magazine or a box downstairs).  I searched online looking for ideas and decided the best way to organize our recipes also had to be the least expensive, least complicated and least time consuming. I finally decided on a binder. I knew I wanted to separate the binder into different categories. As I started to make the binder it came together on its own, and I added a few sections I hadn't planned on. I put every recipe in a sheet protector so it could wipe clean if it got dirty during some messy cooking time. 

My categories are:
1. Measurements and conversions
2. Drinks and smoothies
3. Breakfast
4. Lunch
5. Dinner
6. Deserts
7. Snacks
8. Breads and soups
9. Cleaning supplies (We make all our own cleaning supplies)
10. Toiletries (I make 1/2 of my toiletries and soaps)
11. Medicinal (We always try using natural remedies first (and they almost always work, and are much less expensive)

I then made cover sheets for each section and added stick on tabs to make it easier to find each section (dividers were smaller than the sheet protectors and so you couldn't see the tabs).  And thats it! Quick, easy, simple, and cheap.  My favorite kind of project to do!  

How do you organize your recipes?

God Bless!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our First (Official) Vacation: Part Four- The trip

Finally, we are to my most favorite part in this series: The trip! 

At 9:30 the first morning of our vacation, we were in the car and off we went.  The kids were AMAZING!  Not one complaint!  We first stopped at a rest stop for a potty break (Peanut is still potty training), and the kids enjoyed checking out the moose sculpture.   We also stopped in Freeport, Maine.  We ate lunch and walked around to stretch our legs.  The kids had fun exploring the fish in LL Bean. We then headed on to Belfast, Maine. Where the kids were able to run around and check out some creative chairs placed around the city, and then walked down to the docks to check out the boats. 
The kids and I on a surf board/bench in Belfast, ME

My cuties bench testing!

We ended up cutting down on the amount of stops we took because the kids were getting irritated with getting in and out of the car so we picked up dinner (for the adults) and drove straight to our destination for the weekend, Pleasant Bay, Maine.

Pleasant Bay
The B&B

We stayed at the Pleasant Bay Bed and Breakfast and Llama Keep.  Peanut and Sassy were so excited to stay on a Llama farm!  The views are breath taking and the sight of the water is instantly relaxing.  Our room had a bedroom and a living room space with a pullout couch.  My parents stayed on the couch and we took the bedroom.  The kids slept on the floor on mattresses with their new sleeping bags  that Nana and Papa bought them for the trip!  We did a lot of relaxing and a lot of memory making.  

We went to Bad Little Falls in Machias, Maine.  The kids really thought it was neat to stand on the bridge over the falls and look down.

Bad Little Falls
We had a blast at Roque Bluffs.  This is a great beach to visit!  We went on a Saturday, boy was it busy! (There was maybe 5 other people on the beach with us)  In all seriousness, this was a great beach to visit.  On one side of the road was salt water (ocean) and the other side of the road was fresh water.  There was a great little picnic area where we spread out and ate lunch before we spent the afternoon soaking up some sun.

The beach
My Boys
We went to the eastern most point of the US and visited the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine.  It was wonderful to take a walk on some of the trails along the ocean and see up close why they call it “the bold coast”.

At the lighthouse
On the hike
We also spent some time at the B&B going on walks, enjoying the scenery and the animals.

My favorite goat!

Nana and the kids visiting the Llamas at dusk.

All I can say is WHAT A WONDERFUL VACATION!  I was so worried about what could happen and it all just turned out so perfect.  It was wonderful to feel "normal" and do "family things" that many take for granted.  For 4 whole days I didn't think about Autism.    For me, Maine was Heaven on Earth.  I know we will return again next summer for sure! (We don't have a choice, Sassy is already informing us that she is going back to take a Llama for a walk, and Peanut re-named Maine "our new home"!  Do you think he's trying to tell us something???)

Ahhhhhh....Maine   :-)

Did you miss the 1st 3 days?  You can catch up here:
PART ONE: Where to go?
PART TWO: What to do?
PART THREE: What to eat?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our First (Official) Vacation: Part Three- What to eat?

My kids are on a strict organic gluten free, casein free, soy free diet avoiding most processed foods and no dyes.   Obviously they are tough to feed at times, especially on the go, this meant our trip was going to take some major planning.  The week before we left, I cooked everything…I mean EVERYTHING.   To sit back and look at it all was humorous.  It looked like we were leaving for weeks!  My philosophy is that I would rather have too much instead of not enough.   

Some of what I made: (All mostly organic GFCFSF) Chocolate chip cookies, granola bars, fridge pickles, raisin and rosemary crackers, cornbread, grain free biscuits chocolate spinach muffins, and blueberry applesauce.
Once I planned, cooked and packed, I wrote out and highlighted our meal plan (put it in a sheet protector) and kept it with the food for the entire trip, that way all of the adults knew what was going on with the kids food.  It made my OCD feel better knowing that was seen by all.

The Menu:
BREAKFASTS- Cereal and bananas with sunflower milk, chocolate/spinach muffins, yogurt and granola bars,  refrigerator oatmeal.

LUNCHES-Applegate roastbeef, Maple almond butter and jelly, boiled eggs, cut raw veggies and fruit, and biscuits.

DINNERS- Lentil soup and corn bread, Applegate organic hot dogs and french fries, quinoa pasta with veggies and shrimp, and hamburger and rice. 

SNACKS- Cut up veggies (carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers, peppers), cut up fruits (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi), raisin rosemary crackers, granola bars, chips (organic corn, organic potato, black bean, pinto bean chips), yummy cookiesmeringues  Orgran animal crackers, almond horn cookies. 

So the food was ready, and by a small miracle, all of the cold foods fit in one cooler!), and we were ready to go!  

Did you miss the 1st 2 days?  You can catch up here:
PART ONE: Where to go?
PART TWO: What to do?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our First (Official) Vacation: Part Two- What to do? Our "busy box"

First we had to plan.  My parents made a plan for stops all the way up.  To drive straight up would take approximately 6 hours.  No stopping was not an option with 2 toddlers so my parents mapped out a scenic route with stops planned every 1 ½ to 2 hours.  They took compiled together pictures from each stop and put them in order in a powerpoint presentation for the kids to watch (and they did…over and over) so they had an idea of what to expect.  I planned activities for both children for on the way up and on the way back.  24 busy bags and activities total. I just prayed it was worth it.  It was either going to be a really good trip, or a really bad trip.

Our Activities:
We brought along the regular busy stuff- Books, LeapPads (which I added new story books and videos onto, iPad, portable DVD player with 5 new movies, coloring books and crayons.
I also made “busy bags” for each child.  Many of you are already aware of what a “busy bag” is, but for those of you not familiar with it a busy bag is a small bag filled with a small activity that the child can do independently to stay busy for a little while.  I took all the activities and put them in one bin.  We called it our "Busy Box". 
Our "Busy Box"
 I was able to find a TON online with ideas for our busy bags.  Some of the things we filled our bags with:  I love our busy bags!  We will definitely use them again in the future!
·         Crayons and paper
·         Pop Toobs
·         Coloring books
·         Puzzles
·         White boards
·         Cloths pin games
·         Little art activities
·         Foam door hangers and foam animal stickers
·         Name practice tracing sheets.
·         Cutout shapes with markers to color on them.
·         Farm animal Legos (I used THIS site)
·         Button practice (I used THIS site) 
·         Matching color shades (I used THIS site) 
·         I Spy bags (I used THIS site)

Our busy bags
I love our busy bags!  We will definitely use them again in the future! They are great to bring along with us to church and BBQ's to keep the kids busy so we can take a breather.
More busy bag resources:
Walking By the Way

Did you miss part one?  Click HERE to read it now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our First (Official) Vacation: Part One- Where to go?

During our seven years of dating and marriage my husband and I have been on plenty of vacations together.  When Peanut had just turned one (and I was entering my second trimester of my pregnancy with Sassy) we made the trek across the country (via plane) to visit family in California for a week.  Since having Sassy, we had not gone on one single family vacation and this year as Sassy approached 3 ½ and Peanut quickly approached 5, we decided we were way past due.  When spring started to enter into summer we began to make plans.  
My parents had plans to go downeast to the Bold Coast (the northeastern coast of Maine), and so we decided this would be a great trip to try.  We had limited funds and limited time, so a long weekend sounded perfect.  My parents have been going downeast for ten years now and so they know the best places to stay, visit, and eat.  My husband was looking to slow down a bit and I was looking for the same.  I am not a huge city person, I'm a true country girl at heart with an intense love of the ocean.  My dream home would be a farm in the middle of nowhere with the ocean close by (walking distance- hey, one can dream right!).  Maine was sounding pretty Perfect to me and so  e began to plan.  

Views from the Pleasant Bay Bed and Breakfast
Every vacation take planning, especially when 2 toddlers are involved.  I sat down and began to think about all we needed to plan, and then I began to stress.  I didn't just have to plan a vacation with 2 toddlers, I had to plan a vacation with 2 toddlers with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder who were also on a VERY strict diet (we can't just stop at a restaurant and eat) and the kids were on a regimen of supplements that we needed to continue on our trip (Autism doesn't go on vacation).  Every time I thought I had it figured out another speed bump popped up.  I was grateful that I had started to plan the vacation months in advance, this is definitely not something that should be done last minute.  
I had read many stories from families with kids on the spectrum and their vacations.  I was getting more and more nervous until I heard one story about a biomedical family who went on a cruise, and reading her story helped me relax a bit. (See the post titled Bon Voyage from the Thinking Moms Revolution) If they could go on a cruise and give their child happy memories that he still remembers today (and survive it!), then I can plan a trip to Maine!  I decided it was only appropriate to share our adventure with you.  This post is part one of four of our very first family vacation! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: Our homeschool plan 2012

It's about that time of year.  Summer vacations are coming to a close, talk of Labor Day is around the corner and back to school sales are advertised everywhere.  September is coming soon, but what does that mean for homeschoolers?  Well, for us it means I can get some school supplies on sale because we started our school program in July.  I decided to start our "introduction" to Kindergarten in July as a "part time" program to ease us into "full time"schooling in September.  

Peanut is going to be 5 on August 21 (agh!) and is ready for Kindergarten.  He still has struggles with writing, but that is coming along now.  Sassy turned 3 in January but is so far ahead she is at the same level as Peanut!  We had the school system evaluate her when she turned 3 and she scored off the charts and didn't qualify for any services.  (A victory in my book!)  It took me a while to decide what to use for my children this year.  I tend to be indecisive so I didn't expect this to be any different.  I have been reading that many homeschool moms have the same difficulty when it comes to curriculum which made me feel a little better about it.  
This is our plan for the 1st half of the year:
  • July/August: 2-3 days a week as an introduction.  This gives me time to figure out if what I have chosen is a good fit for the kids and make changes to what we are doing.  This also gives us time to have some summer fun too!
  • September-December: Kindergarten 4 days a week (90 minutes per day) with additional activities and crafts during the day.
  • December-June: After 4 months I will have a good feel for what we still need and don't need and may make some additions to our program depending on what the kids need.
Our Curriculum:
  • My Fathers World Kindergarten Curriculum: This is our main curriculum this year.  I wanted a  curriculum that made things as easy as possible for me, was flexible, taught the basics of Gods word, and left room for me to add activities in.  I have found this curriculum to do just that.  The kids and I have really enjoyed this program so far.
  • Kumon Workbooks : We are using these workbooks for visual perception, tracing/writing, cutting and pasting.
  • BrainQuest Kindergarten : I am using this for supplemental worksheets to practice what they are learning as well as continue to practice those handwriting skills.
  • Fundanoodle : WE LOVE FUNDANOODLE!  What a great program.  Right now the kids are using the 3 year old set because Sassy IS 3 and Peanut is behind when it comes to fine motor skills.  I am hoping to finish the 3 year program soon and move from there.  My goal is by next summer to have him up to the 1st grade program.
  • Preschool Prep : Our kids LOVE these videos!
We are not like many of the homeschooling families out there, we are homeschooling 2 children with Autism so we have a ton of therapies worked into our schedule as well.  One of the reasons I love homeschooling because we can make our own schedule.
  • Peanut is still in OT, PT, and Speech Therapy so we have those appointments weekly.
  • We recently lost our ABA therapist "Miss Cool" (she got a degree as a nurse and is now doing that instead), but I feel confident in myself that I can do it.  Miss Cool is still around with suggestions if I get stumped too.
  • The kids are still in group Music Therapy.
  • In the fall I am enrolling Peanut and Sassy into a gym class at the YMCA.
  • We are still having weekly play dates galore!
  • I also have plans to work all kinds of fun activities into our schedule to target both of the kids needs.
  • I also intend on writing our own IEP for home (not required by the state but still a good guide to have to keep us on track) 

My Fathers World: The days of creation 
We'd love to hear about your plans for the year.  Feel free to share your links!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Unfortunate moment

What happens when a stray crayon or two gets lost in a pile of toys?? Sassy happens! Agh!!!! (thank GOD I was able to get this beautiful creation off my rug!!)