Tuesday 31 December 2013

6km run Lazyrunner 10k plan Day 2, New Year's Eve in Sydney, Rest day today

Yesterday I ran 6kms as part of Week 1 of the Lazyrunner 10k plan.  I felt slow..and stiff.. and hot.  After I got home my lovely husband offered to massage my legs and feet - yes please.  Today I'm having a day off running and tomorrow plan on doing a short 3km run as I've been feeling fatigued on my runs lately.  I've really tried to pick up the pace in the last couple of weeks.

Last night we went to a close friend's conveniently located apartment in Pyrmont.  You can see Centrepoint Tower from her top floor but we decided to walk down to Pirrama Park for the 9 o'clock fireworks.  Who in their right minds takes twins with autism to see fireworks in chaotic Sydney?  That would be me!  After spending the early years of the twins life trapped at home I've now veered the other way.  Thankfully the twins now cope really well with it.  Our friend (kind of like a sister-in-law) had invited a few friends over and refuses to tell her friends about their diagnosis because she says no-one will notice.  Umm..ok.  I love her to death but T2 is a little...different.  T1 can get by without being noticed.  Anyway all 3 boys were really great overall.  We took them to the park for a while as T2 found rocks on the balcony and wanted to throw them off.  Luckily we stopped him before he had a chance to do that (and kill anyone) :-).  My eldest and T1 were fine.  Nothing was spilt or broken and the kids ate really well and I actually got to eat my dinner and talk to some of the guests.  My husband did have to keep T2 pretty close.  So the kids stayed awake and loved the fireworks and we had a great night.  Surely there is no better place to see New Years Eve Fireworks than Sydney Harbour.
Eldest and T1 at the park
I wish I had a DLSR and knew how to use one!

9 o'clock fireworks

An apartment's cool Christmas window

Then we went home, put the twins to bed and my eldest and us adults watched one of my favourite movies from 2013 - SilverLiningPlaybook.  At midnight, we watched the midnight fireworks and went to bed straight after.  You would think the twins would sleep in since they didn't get to sleep until 10pm, but they were up at 6.30am!  Thankfully my mother-in-law looked after them while we had a sleep in (bless her!).

This morning I did an ABA therapy session with T2 this morning.  He did really well - so compliant and focussed.  He's still a little confused about some wh questions though.

Tonight my eldest and my husband are going to the Big Bash (cricket).  My mother-in-law and I have our own plans.  They involve putting the twins to sleep, watching Atonement (I've been keeping this DVD for a special girls' night viewing) and eating and drinking all the nibblies that we were too full to eat last night - Jatz and crab dip, strawberries dipped in chocolate and drinking Chandon.  Bring it on!

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope its your best year ever.

Running Goals for 2014
1)  Run 5km in under 30 minutes
2)  Run 10 kms
3)  Run 10 kms under 60 minutes
4)  Run a half marathon
5)  Run a marathon?

Sunday 29 December 2013

Beginning new 10k program, my baby is 11 & ABA sessions

This morning I went for an early 5km run.  It felt so hot at 7am and it wasn't easy.  I got home and checked the forecast thinking today must reach 35 degrees and its a top of 25.   Since I've completed the Couch to 5k I thought I'd take a couple of weeks of running 5kms while I find a 10k program.  Yesterday I found one I'm happy with so I've decided I'll jump in straight away.  The name of the website is quite appealing - lazyrunner.com.  That sounds like me.  It has a similar feel to the Couch to 5k so I'm looking forward to it.  The program can be found here.  It does take 12weeks though, but I'm going to try and be patient.  This marathon is seeming further and further away.

Eldest had plenty of help opening his pressies
Yesterday my eldest turned 11.  I kept thinking in 7 years he'll be an adult.  Seven years goes by too fast!  The last six have gone by in a whirl because of all the twins' needs.  But now that they are about to hit school I'm committed to really enjoying time with my eldest.  He's a great kid and I'm really lucky to have him.  We had his official party before school broke up so yesterday was all about a family feast and cake (not as impressive as for his party), cricket, playstation 4, swimming and table tennis.  T1 was a little testy yesterday after being a perfect angel over the Christmas period.  We tried to ignore his behaviour as much as possible and gave lots of praise when he did the right thing.  He really improved in the afternoon.  I think part of the secret was keeping him really busy.
never to old for fairy bread

I think we may have over-catered

chicken and mayo sandwiches were delicious

peanut-free rocky road & lollies

The cake topper arrived a day late so I had to print out a paper one 

Today I did another ABA therapy session with T2.  It went really well and as it was the second session he had today, I was really surprised how focussed and compliant he was.  For reinforcement he really enjoyed playing with Thomas tracks and trains.  I had put them away thinking the Thomas phase was over but if playing with trains gets him through a 2 and a half hour therapy session then so be it.

Friday 27 December 2013

Couch to 5k - Completed!, Christmas Buffet high tea at the Swisshotel, ABA session with T2

Well its been a very busy couple of days.  This morning I finished the Couch to 5k program.  Hooray!  For the next 2 weeks I plan on running 5km 3-4 times a week before extending my runs.  My next aim is 10km!

This morning I did an ABA session with T2.  I was really worried about behavioural problems because I haven't done a session with him for about a month.  Anyway he was really good and did really well on many targets, like riding a bike, pronouns, occupation functions, mazes etc.  But he is still  getting confused with some where/when questions and having trouble making up stories.  For reinforcement we did chasing where I pretended to be a dinosaur or a ghost, roly poly with a blanket where I roll him up in a blanket and then he does the same to me, alphabet puzzle (sigh!) reading books and a snack.  Reinforcement is so important in ABA, just as it is in life.

After that, my mother-in-law, my eldest and I went to the city to the Swissotel for a Christmas High Tea buffet.  It was AMAZING.  I bought a Groupon voucher so it was very reasonably priced.  When I wanted to bring my eldest they only charged $20 extra for him to come (this included full buffet, orange juice and a hot chocolate!).  I asked to speak to the chef about my eldest's peanut allergy and there was only one dish with peanuts.  And there was a chocolate fountain!  We were all in food heaven and were seated in a quiet window seat together.  What a fantastic afternoon.   It was my eldest's last day as a 10 year old.  I can't believe it!

T1 and T2 would have ripped into these pressies :-)


Don't you love, love, love a buffet?  I do

I should have had some fruit salad - but I did have strawberries dipped in chocolate :-)

Santa strawberries!

love these meringue snowmen

a peach something cocktail - yummo!

hot chocolate for my eldest - and his hands

my favourite oriental teapots

Thursday 26 December 2013

Best Christmas Ever! & Week 9 of Couch to 5k, tragic news

On Christmas Eve I ran 5km and although it took me over 30 minutes I really tried to step up the pace.  No run on Christmas Day (I'm not that dedicated yet!).  Today I ran the 5km course but decided not to time myself, as it was getting me a little down.  So instead I decided to push it a little and just listen to my body.

Christmas Eve seems like a long time ago.  In the afternoon we took our 3 boys to the cinema to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  I was confident that my eldest and T1 would love it but was quite unsure about T2.  Its a long time for him to sit still.  I stocked up on snacks potato chips, popcorn packets, apples, lollipops and T2 munched his way through it all - but overall he was really good in the movie.  Its really important to me to drag him along to outings, otherwise I worry he'll never be 'ready'.
All the boys were really excited the night before the big day.  I was a little worried the day would start at 3am, but luckily T2 was first up at 5.30am and we got him to hop in with us until after 6, when T1 woke up.

 I was really happy with how excited they were, how interested they were in opening (and playing with!) all their pressies.  One of the (few:-)) advantages of parenting a child with autism is that a parent doesn't take ANYTHING for granted.  The Mario WiU game was popular with all the boys, T1 has been playing with his Skylanders and T2 loves his Furby and his.. ahem... alphabet puzzle.  I was justt happy he wasn't too into the alphabet puzzle.  We had family over and the boys were just so calm all day and behaved really well at the table during Christmas Lunch.  I even got a chance to read and eat chocolate.  Whenever anyone asks what I want I always say a good book and some good chocolate and some time to read and eat.  It absolutely poured with rain ALL day and luckily we have table tennis under the carport which was popular with our guests and my eldest and T1.
hard at work!

A Furby has joined the family - his name is Bee- Boo!

A good old Aussie pav!

THE fruitcake - 30 days in the making.

Beautiful fresh cherries

Such a happy day.  No tears, no fights, no screaming.  Everyone was so lovely to each other, happy and well-behaved.  At times we had 10 people in the house.  It could have gotten overwhelming but thankfully it didn't.  If every Christmas Day from now on is as happy as this one I will be very happy.  I hope your Christmas was as happy as mine was.

I wasn't sure whether to mention it but just read the heartbreaking news that a little boy with autism, Connor Graham Elliott, has drowned in Australia.  This is so tragic, poor little soul.  I mentioned the troubling rates of children on the spectrum drowning in an earlier post.  I don't know the answer, or what can be done about it.  I wish something could be done about this.  T2 loves water and one of my worst fears is that he may drown.  He is a competent swimmer thanks to all the swimming lessons but murky rivers are a different thing.  My heart goes out to this poor little boy and his family.  May Connor rest in peace.

Monday 23 December 2013

Couch to 5k Week 8 - bonus run; thankful for Junior Therapists & scalded!

This morning I decided to use the MapmyRun app to see how far I'm running.  So far I've been focusing on fulfilling the time requirements.  I was disappointed.  If I don't step up my pace a little I'm going to struggle to run 5km in this last week of the program.  At least its good to know that I need to step up the pace.  There are 3 hills in my run so that's one excuse for me going so slow.  The stats were 4.11km in 34 mins 17 seconds.

T2 had a therapy session this afternoon with one of his Junior Therapists.  This therapist has been working with T2 for 2 and a half years.  Since the very beginning of our ABA journey.  Junior Therapists are usually university students studying psychology, occupational or speech therapy.  Without junior therapists an ABA program doesn't happen.  They are the ones who put it all into practise, find the reinforcers to motivate the child and make learning fun.  Frequently they have to deal with negative behaviour while implementing many different programs.  They see the highs and lows of family life.  Some stay with a family for years and they become part of the family.  I'm lucky enough to have quite a few therapists who have been with us for 2 or more years.  Today this therapist brought bought craft sets for the kids and delicious home-made treats for us adults.  She is a treasure.  What really astounded me is how excited T2 got about his plaster dinosaur.  He rushed outside and began painting it straight away.  This is the sort of thing T1 does so I'm really happy T2 is interested as well.
T2 is finally drawing for fun!

T2 painting his dinosaur - a present from his therapist.

She even gave my eldest a present - this cool tree that grows crystals

She baked Christmas goodies for the adults

I definitely didn't lose any weight today
Unfortunately, the low point of the day, was me stupidly spilling a hot cup of tea down my front.  It was extremely painful and I was very shaken.  I spent a couple of hours putting iced water on it on and off.  I couldn't believe how hot the tea felt.  It has made me more wary of hot drinks around the twins.  I'm lucky it really wasn't a bad burn - I'm just a baby.  It also made me think of that brave, brave runner who was terribly burned running an outback race.  Her name is Turia Pitt.  What an amazing person.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Week 8 Couch to 5k - complete & social stories.

Luckily I went out early for my run.  I felt slow and it was hard work.  It was cloudy so initially I was fooled into thinking it would be cool but I reckon the humidity was really high, even at 6.30am.  But I did it and week 8 is done and dusted!  Every week I have done a bonus run before moving on to the next week, so I think I'll repeat a week 8 run before moving onto the last week of the Couch to 5 k program.

T2's ankle was much better today, thankfully.  I was getting pretty worried yesterday.

This evening I read a really gorgeous story to T1.  Its one of a series of books by Trace Maroney, exploring feelings.  There is "When I'm feeling happy/angry/sad/lonely/jealous" etc. I love the illustrations and the rabbit feels a little soft when you touch it.  T1 really engages with social stories.  Its difficult to measure if and how much the stories may change his behaviour, but at least he enjoys them and hopefully something sinks in.  These stories are good for all preschoolers, not just children with autism.  Below are a few snapshots of the book. I've seen this series in Target, Big W, the Post Office and Dymocks.  They retail for around $10.  I like how the books focus on increasing greater tolerance of painful feelings (anger, loneliness, jealousy etc) rather than trying to 'get rid of' painful feelings.
The illustrations are really cute

The story leads to discussions about what T1 and Dad do that makes him feel happy

At the end of the books are really helpful 'notes for parents'

The boys are loving the pool.  3 sleeps 'til Christmas!  All my boys are excited.  At lunchtime yesterday, T1 announced he was going to sleep for 4 days and wake up on Christmas Day!  Luckily the gorgeous dog I posted about arrived which was enough to get T1 out of bed :-)

Saturday 21 December 2013

Santa at In2cricket; Christmas visits; dogs

Well it was an early Saturday morning.  At 5.15am T2 hopped (yes hopped!) down the stairs.  Somehow he injured his ankle late yesterday.  Today he did not weight bear on his ankle at all.  It didn't look bruised or swollen and my GP isn't available today.  Some would think why not run him up to the local medical centre or hospital?  Well, the last time I took T2 to the local hospital with croup he was physically restrained for a significant period of time in order to get him to wear an oxygen mask (even though his actual oxygen levels were ok).  He had bruises from where he was restrained.  That day I vowed I would avoid hospitals at all costs and refuse any medical staff permission to restrain my son.  Obviously in emergencies I would do what is necessary.  So I cancelled all therapy sessions for T2 and am hoping tomorrow he will improve.  I'm not looking forward to x-rays etc this close to Christmas with a child on the spectrum.  Fingers crossed!

Another busy day in the lead-up to Christmas.  First up was Milo cricket.  After today's session we had a very special visitor - Santa!  He handed out presents to the kids and cracked many jokes (a very cheeky Santa!).  There is now over a month off of cricket and I must admit I'll enjoy the break.  I stupidly forgot my phone (T2 was at home playing with it).  Hopefully my fellow coach will email me photos of T1 and Santa.  T1 was very happy with his Ninja Turtle :-)

Next up our BCBA (behaviour analyst) dropped in for a visit.  My BCBA is one of the most important people in my life-I'm not exaggerating!  She is my go-to person for all behavioural troubles, learning difficulties, programming and school preparation.  Not to mention listening to my panicky Friday afternoon phone calls with eternal patience and calmness.

Then one of T1's former junior therapists visited and brought her most gorgeous dog!  Its a cross schitzu and poodle.  He is really gorgeous and the kids (and us adults) were VERY taken with this dog. We've all agreed that we should dogsit this dog whenever possible.  One day I really want to get a dog for the boys.  I know some families get specially-trained dogs for people with autism.  I'd like to look into the benefits of having a dog for individuals with autism.  The cutest moment was when T1 started talking to the dog (Lenny) and showed him his drawings 'these are my drawings'.  It was soooo cute :-).  This junior (who is now a practising psychologist) gave the boys some plaster craft sets.  T1 and my eldest had fun making the plaster and painting them.  Unfortunately the magnets didn't hold though.

gorgeous Lenin - love those teeth!

plaster craft set

Teamwork with big bro

unfortunately the magnets didn't hold-but it was still a fun activity

T1 painting the pirate

eldest son was keen to participate!

T1's pirate

Friday 20 December 2013

Week 8 Run 2 of Couch to 5k; last day of preschool!

I'm glad I went out early today.  Even at 6.30am it was HOT!  I could feel my pale skin start to redden in the sun.  It felt like mid-morning rather than early morning.  I felt good though, and am excited about what program I'll tackle after the couch to 5k.  I think a 10k program will be next.  Any suggestions?

Today was a milestone for the twins.  The last day of preschool.  It was actually a half day and the preschool had a jumping castle.  T2 has told me he wants one in the backyard.  I said 'what about the trampoline?' and he said 'put it next to the trampoline'!  The parents got there early and the kids sang a few Christmas carols, then I took a few happy snaps of the twins with their teachers and that was it.  Two years ago when the twins started T2 could hardly string a sentence together and only spoke when he really wanted something.  Now he speaks in spontaneous, functional sentences and makes comments about his environment.  I never thought this would happen.  And T1 - well, some professionals say he is 'recovered' and most of the time he is indistinguishable from his peers!

I went to thank the preschool director for all her support (and the support really has been excellent).  She told me she wished I could speak to a couple of parents who are in denial (no names were mentioned or anything and its a very large preschool). Denial - I was there once.  Stuck in a hopeless wasteland.  Its funny but I didn't even choose to be in denial about the twins' autism.  I truly couldn't believe or fathom it.  It was if it was a reality too dreadful to contemplate so my mind didn't accept it.  It didn't help that I didn't know what autism was and didn't know that there was effective treatment.  It hasn't been a fun ride and I wouldn't wish the stress, worry or imminent bankruptcy on anyone.  But there is HOPE.  My kids do have friends, they can communicate, they are making progress and they are truly wonderful people.

Any runners out there?  Suggestions for 10k programs please.

Were you in denial when it was first suggested that there was something 'wrong' with you child?

Thursday 19 December 2013

No Run Today; Taronga Zoo

Today was day two of helping my mum out with her Japanese visitors.  It was a picture perfect day at Taronga Zoo and I took many photos until my phone ran out of battery.  Its only been a couple of years since I'v been to this zoo and I either missed a lot last time or the zoo have really added alot of kid-friendly activities and areas.  The first new exhibit was the Lemurs.  It was so funny to see the kids playing on the climbing structures and slides while the Lemurs were being totally ignored. That's exactly what my kids would do.  But it is really awesome.

Fantastic new Lemur exhibit - so great for kids.

Cool climbing area where the kids and be Lemurs!

The poor Lemurs were being ignored by the kid lets!

The other new exhibit is the AMAZING seal and penguin area, actually called an aquarium.  This was really impressive.  Unfortunately I have no photos of it because my phone ran out of charge (and sadly I don't have a fancy camera :-(

The kids trail was also a good area for the kids to let off steam after looking at animals for a while.

The seal show was great as usual, though the shaded seats were better than sitting in the belting sun.
Seal Show was great - try to grab some shade in Summer

The skyrail at the end of a day at the zoo is always a great reward.  I should have worn a pedometer because I reckon I took an impressive number of steps walking around the zoo today.  Its a rewarding and tiring day.  I think the Japanese visitors enjoyed their day, though I think they'll sleep really well tonight!

Kids trail - a great place to have a break from all the zoo has to offer

Interactive activities in the Australian house - some creepy crawlies in here

I haven't taken the twins to Taronga yet.  They've been to the smaller Canberra Zoo a couple of times.  I think that with a zoo the size of Taronga I would have to really plan out and do a schedule for them.  I did see one frazzled mother saying 'that's it! we're going home!" at about 10am.  With the high cost for entry I would want to plan the day to be successful.  Probably mixing up pure animal exhibits with interactive areas/skyrail and regular breaks.  A visual schedule would be good too I think.  It took us an intense 4 hours of walking to see most of what Taronga Zoo had to offer, and the youngest member of our party was 13 years old.
This elephant spent ages playing with this barrel - food inside?

My favourite zoo animal!

The old elephant enclosure - beautifully preserved history.

This little runt eventually got over the step to get to its mummy