Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sensory Hammock Games

I love, love, LOVE Chelsea's sensory hammock, which we got from a grant (challenged america) and it has helped out family soooo much!

We use it most often for her to calm down when she is having meltdowns, and it works wonders for getting her to relax!
My little man decided he wanted to help

When we have time, I like doing sensory hammock games!

1. Peekaboo- Not only a fun game for kids, but also is good for using those muscles to pull the opening to the hammock apart and back together!

2. Tornado- great vestibular (balance) experience! Just spin! This can be done in any playground park, if you don't have a hammock. Just spin them around, and for a bonus tracking activity, try to have them quickly look at you after spinning!

3. Knock Down Blocks- good for hand/ eye or hand/ foot coordination! And what kid doesn't like knocking down towers?

4. Hang onto the hammock- Have your child on the outside of the hammock, and hold on, as if you are hanging on a vine.

5. Push/ Catch/ Hit- Put a yoga ball (I used our hoppy ball) into the hammock and push it, work on catching, or just bop it around! Great proprioceptive (body awareness) activity!

6. Pull rope! This is probably the favorite in our house! Use a jump rope, and have the child pull the rope, or you pull the rope and the child hangs on!

7. Hand over Hand. Very similar to the one above, but have the child pull themselves along, doing hand over hand. Such a good full-body activity- uses muscles all over, core, arms, and works the brain too!

8. Blast Off! I didn't get a video for this one. But the idea is for your child to use their feet to shove off your hands (or really anything) and "blast off". This is awesome for motor planning and body awareness!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Special Spartan

Last Saturday, my kids got the opportunity to run in a Spartan race!!! For their birthdays, my sister registered them for the kid Spartan races!

In these, kids run and conquer obstacles along the way! Pretty much the cutest thing you have ever seen kids do!

This race was MUDDY!!! I did one last year that paled in comparison! Just walking into the parking lot, I got stuck for several minutes and lost a shoe in the mud!

I LOVED all the mud! And the kids did too! I don't often let them get as messy as they want, but I told them today that if they wanted to roll in the mud, then they could! While they didn't go that far, they certainly did take advantage of the situation!

Chelsea was a good sport, though she decided she was cold halfway through, after falling into muddy water up to her neck, and cried for a while.

The Spartan staff was incredible with Chelsea- lots of hi-fives, gave all the runners cool medals at the end, and cheered them on every step of the way for the 1/2 mile race!

The siblings were encouraged to run with their special needs sister/ brother, which I thought was amazing! And the kids were thrilled for their banana and granola bar snack at the end of the races.

There were really fun obstacles and things for the kids to do- javelin throwing, crawling under a mossy net (I liked that for the kids rather than the barbed wire mud crawl they do for the adults, hahaha!)
Chelsea needed help coming down the net, but got up by herself!

Hooray for gymnastics, getting my man ready for competition!

Overall, it was a great race! Our family had a blast and can't wait to do one again, hopefully with Mommy and Daddy running the adult races to work off some extra pounds!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Morning Routine

A trap that is all too easy to fall into is doing things FOR our special needs kids that they can do themselves. Yes, it may take extensive training and supports, but they CAN eventually get it!

My goal is to not have to do these things for Chelsea when she is older. Who wants to be dressing their 25 year old child when nothing is wrong with their hands? I sure don't!

Therefore, we developed a morning routine so that Chelsea can get used to caring for herself!

1. Go potty! This means wiping correctly, washing hands, remembering to flush, everything!

2. Make bed.
In order to get breakfast, you need to do work. Right now, this means putting on a blanket and arranging stuffed animals.

3. Eat breakfast.
Focus on manners- eating correctly and not making too big of a mess.

4. Get dressed.
All by herself! Underwear put on the right way, socks pulled on, shirt on correctly, everything! It takes a looooong time, but I know it will be worth it in the end!

5. Laundry in hamper.
She understands she needs to clean up after herself.

6. Brush teeth.
This will be HUGE, since Chelsea's genetic syndrome involves serious dental problems. She needs to know how to take care of herself!

7. Wash face and hands.
Chelsea's school is amazing at helping reinforce this during her school hours, so she has made great progress on washing her hands!

8. Glasses and medicine.
I have Chelsea try to put on her glasses, and push in the plunger on her medicine syringe to have her accountable for the medicine.

9. Brush/ do hair. Still in the very early stages, but definitely something we want to work on for the long-term!

10. Pack lunch/ backpack.
This is one thing that I really am pushing with Chelsea. She eats her food better when she feels responsible for it, and I want her to be able to take care of herself- make sandwiches if she is hungry, or think ahead to pack a lunch for a picnic. Plus, it makes her so happy!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

School Lunches

Before starting this lunch packing method, I always ended up feeling rushed, stressed, and frustrated in the mornings. I often view myself as a lazy mom- I like sleeping in as much as possible in the mornings, so I prep things ahead of time to allow myself extra snooze time!

1. Grocery shop- I tend to pick 3 vegetables and 3 fruits that will be the options for school/ work lunches that week, 100% juice boxes, and some protein ingredients. I also let the kids pick out a gross, cheap, sugar-packed dessert that makes them happy.

2. Stock up on disposable containers! This means sandwich and snack size Ziploc bags, and the mini containers (I call the super tiny ones hummus cups and slightly larger ones berry cups)

3. Set aside some time! For me, I stay up really late on Saturday or Sunday night, and watch my favorite shows- Big Bang Theory and Speechless, on the internet while I do all the following prep!

4. Chop and bag veggies!!! I will pick a couple veggies- carrots and red peppers being the kids' favorites here, and put kid portions into little snack baggies. Super quick and easy (especially when I just have to count out 8ish baby carrots per bag!)

5. Put dips into containers! This is always hummus or ranch for us. This is the fastest step, and it gives me immense satisfaction to see 10-15 little containers all lined up and filled. I feel so productive!

6. Slice and bag fruits! This and the protein snacks are the ones that take longest, depending on the fruit. Blackberries or grapes? Easy. Watermelon pops or fruit kabobs? Less easy and more time intensive.

7. Make protein snacks! This could be turkey/ veggie cream cheese rollups, deviled eggs, cheese cubes, or baggies of nuts. Whatever your kids like best!

8. Prep dry snacks. Pop popcorn and bag it up, or get those super yummy veggie chips/ straws! I will let the kids pack these plus another fruit/ veggie for their snacks at school. I put all these bags onto a big bowl.

9. Make notes! My kids LOVE getting cute notes or jokes in their lunches, but I hate writing them in the mornings, so I write mass notes and look up jokes, then keep them in a bowl by the napkins and disposable spoons and stuff. Whatever gets the job done, right?

Bonus step: Have a cheap pack of stickers and stick them all over everything. 99 cents worth of stickers and the kids have 2 weeks of Finding Dory lunches!

10. Pack everything into fridge. I have a shelf dedicated for just lunches/ school snacks. It has the veggies, dips, fruit, protein snacks, juice boxes, and desserts.

11. Breathe easier!!! Spending an hour to an hour and a half once a week (while watching a couple shows) is WAY easier to me than 25 minutes every morning. I must be the slowest lunch packer ever when I don't pre-prep!!!

Now, I make a quick sandwich, and throw in a fruit bag, veggie and dip, protein, juice, and dessert for lunch. Fruit plus dry baggie for snack, and that add up to 5 minutes, then we have lunch for everyone!!!!