Sunday, June 11, 2017

Special Olympics Summer Games 2017 Gymnastics

Wow!  Just WOW!  Yesterday was one of my favorite days of Sweet Pea's life!

She turned 8 in March which meant that she was eligible to participate and compete in the Special Olympics.  She has been asking to do gymnastics for a couple of years and we kept telling her...when you turn 8.  We are sure lucky that Special Olympics Southern California didn't decide to end gymnastics last year instead of this coming year!

The first weekend of March was her first practice with her Westside team.  Her coach, Natasha, is beyond amazing and all of the volunteers are incredible!  During this first practice Sweet Pea lasted about 30 minutes (out of the total 90 minute practice) before she was done.  The volunteers learned that she wants to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it.  She had a meltdown when she got scared on the "high bar" (it is just slightly taller than Sweet Pea).  She needed to hold someone's hand every time she did the balance beam.  To say it was a challenging practice would be an understatement.  However, they were very encouraging and asked all sorts of questions to see how they could try things differently next time to try to get her to participate longer.  I told them that she didn't have a lot of endurance and so I really wasn't surprised with the 30 minutes that they got out of her, but that hopefully it would improve over time.

Well, fast forward to the end of the season, just 3 months later...Sweet Pea was participating in the entire 90 minutes of practice and doing amazing!  She would stay with her group.  She would wait her turn for various activities.  She had learned an entire floor routine.  She was having fun on the high bars (and we saw this carry over to her school playground too which was super awesome)!  She would do the balance beam without support!  And when she would bounce her way down the trampoline at the end of every practice, the smile on her face would light up the darkest room.  To say she loved gymnastics is an understatement!

Yesterday was the culmination of a hard and challenging season when her team got to compete in the Special Olympics Southern California Summer Olympics 2017.  I teared up numerous times during the event and watching all the competitors was so wonderful!  Talking to a variety of volunteers that have no direct tie to a person with special needs, but they give freely of their time and energy to allow this and many similar events happen for all of those with special needs.  To say we are blessed to be a part of this community is to put it lightly.

Here is a video I compiled of some of the excitement from yesterday:

Special Olympics Southern California has decided to stop offering gymnastics and switch to cheerleading.  We aren't sure what sport Sweet Pea will do in 2018, but I assure you, she will be doing something!  This program is so wonderful and I thank everyone who volunteered during the season, during the summer games, or donated money to Special Olympics at any point in their lives.  I highly encourage everyone to find your local chapter and cheer on the athletes at their next competition!

Sweet Pea, we are all so incredibly proud of you and all that you continue to persevere through.  You are a special light in all our lives and we promise to keep giving you opportunities to shine for the world to see!  We love you!!!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Spelling Words

We are still alive!  Life has been more than a little busy and I'm not really sure what I want to do with this blog, but for now, I might use it as a place to share ideas that we come across that seem to be working for us.  Sweet Pea is fully included in the 1st grade now and she is doing very well.  She has her struggles, but she is blessed with a great team and we are all working together to try to give her the educational support that she needs to be successful.

Spelling tests have been a major issue for us.  At first the tests weren't modified at all.  Full number of words (10), same complex sentence, everything was the same as every other student.  This did not work for Sweet Pea and she had almost no success with them.  We have started implementing different ideas over the course of the school year and I feel like we are finally getting traction.

What is working:
  • We have shortened her list to only 6 words.
  • Letter blocks to show general outline of words (you will see this used in the video).
  • Her sentence is simpler and shorter.
  • Her sentence is tested by:
    • using word blocks that she picks from including punctuation
    • then she copies the sentence that she created from the word blocks
We also have been creating videos to help her practice both her sight words and spelling words.  I used to make them all myself, but after hearing that she could use the app Explain Everything on the classroom iPad, I thought I would incorporate her into this weeks video.  Here is the final outcome and she is very proud of it!

A great program that we have also enjoyed using is Spelling City which is accessible via both their website and an iPad app.

Hope this helps others!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

It is so hard to believe that Sweet Pea started Kindergarten today!  It was only for an hour and parents were there the entire time, but it was her first official day.  She is in a typical kinder classroom with a 2:1 aide there to assist when needed.  She really does a good job following her peers so I think this will be another good year for her, but it is still nerve wrecking!

Tomorrow will be a full day so let's hope she does just as good!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sweet Pea Started Dance Class

Sweet Pea has fallen in love with dancing since the Twinkle Toes movie has played about 5,000 times in our house.  A friend finally convinced me that I should try a dance class at a local studio and I could not be happier that I listened to her!  Sweet Pea has now gone to class twice and she absolutely loves it!  The other students have been in the class for a few months, but Sweet Pea is trying her best to keep up and I think you will agree, she is doing a darn good job too!  Way to go Sweet Pea!!!!!!

Here are videos from her first week:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Merry Christmas

We have been very busy enjoying the Christmas season and here are a few pictures to share with you all.

Sweet Pea's preschools holiday breakfast:

Santa came to visit
Their friend L did face/hand paintings

Angel made snowman & reindeer donuts and enjoyed the frosting the best

The kids sang a few holiday songs
Angel's preschool did a holiday concert as well.  We were fairly positive that Angel would not sing or even go on stage, but she did!  Cookie bribe apparently worked!  She sang most of the songs and looked pretty happy doing it.  Here is a video clip of one song.  She is sitting on the ground, the third row back so it is hard to see her:

This is at the end of the performance

Angel being cute while dressed up

We have enjoyed Candy Cane Lane:

"I'm scared of the Grinch"
The irony is that Angel is the Grinch!

Sweet Pea enjoyed visiting with Santa again...Angel, not so much

Sweet Pea's favorite mode of transportation

This was the activity of the night...
In a variety of forms...

Enjoying the trains

Waiting for Santa...she loved this Magnolia pod

One of Angel's preferred modes of transportation

 Tonight they even sold hot cocoa to Candy Cane Lane visitors.  They made $18 in 10 minutes!  Do these kids have a sales career in their future?

We've done a few other things, but photos either weren't taken or can't be found. :-)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trouble Times Two

We captured another video tonight that was just too good to pass up posting.  Just a taste of the chaos that happens in our house.  Angel teaches Sweet Pea things all the time...they just are not normally quite this entertaining.  The upside is that it is a great example of taking turns!  The downside is that nothing will ever be safe in the fridge or freezer again.

Twinkle Toes

Sweet Pea is INFATUATED with Twinkle Toes: The Movie by Skechers. She was given the DVD by the amazing people at Skechers last Thursday and hasn't stopped watching it in a week!  It's about a girl who has terrible stage fright, but with the help of some friends she overcomes it.  She wears shoes that sparkle and light up and you will notice that Sweet Pea is wearing a pair of them as well in this video (also courtesy of Skechers).  While the story is cute, what we like most is that it is getting Sweet Pea to dance!  She rarely dances, but she is dancing along with this video!  Her dancing is getting better and more involved with each viewing.  I get the biggest smile when I watch her.  The problem is...she doesn't like me watching!  If she turns around and see me watching she stops, sits down and yells at me to go away.  Lovely!  Luckily, Mommy is a little sneaky and I turned my back to her with the camera in between my arm and body to record this video.  You will see her looking back to see if I'm watching and watch for her huge grin when she thinks I'm not!  It's priceless!  I hope you all enjoy this video as much as we do!