Tag Archives: SPD

Sunday Funday

Sunday was Rally Day at church, my Mom and Grandma were in town, Beth came over for a bit and we spent $24 on two ropes and then tied a few knots.

We have never officially become members of the church we have been going to for the past year. Rally Day for our church is the last week of summer time services and the kick off to Sunday school. I made it a point that we would be there for Rally Day so we could get the kids involved and sign them up for Sunday School. It was a great service and afterward they had face painting, cotton candy and bouncy houses for the kids. Needless to say, it was a fun morning and I appreciate that my Mom and Grandma graciously told us to go even though they were in town and we should have been hanging out with them.

Usually our weekends are packed with to-do lists and errands. This weekend still had a few to-dos to get done like taking down the pool and the usual around the house weekend chores, but the chore load was lighter and the pool didn’t take long to put away so there was time left over to play!

I stupidly didn’t take any photos when we went out to eat or showed off our renovated kitchen and basement to my Mom and Grandma because I was just having too much fun visiting with them and laughing at Elise with them. Elise really wants to be a cowgirl right now and she will sacrifice her toes in order to dress like one. Two Christmases ago my Grandma bought the kids cowboy boots. Elise’s are a size 9. We just bought her new tennis shoes for school and they are a size 13. In her efforts to be a cowgirl Elise shoves her feet into her size 9 cowboy boots and says they fit fine “if I curl my toes!” Uffda. We all giggled along with her as she talked about horses and clomped around in her too small boots.

After my mom and Grandma left, Tim and I took down the pool for the season, and if you are keeping track this is the 3rd summer we have used our Intex $200 pool. Best money spent ever. We have never had problems with it molding or cracking during winter because we put it away dry and store it above the garage. If you are on the fence about buying one of these pools, all I can say is that it is worth it. (more pics from the first time we set up the pool in 2012)

When the pool was put away TIm and I were taking stock of our backyard and admiring our hard work over the years. It has come a long way since we moved in when there was a bull-dozed 1 foot cliff in our yard with subsequent 4 foot high mound of dirt that was buried under snow when we bought the house. (more pics of backyard from when we first moved in)

We were talking about how great our maple tree was doing, after limbing it up last year and taking away the planting bed underneath it, when one of us said, “we need a swing under there.” The other suggested a rope swing and then I grabbed my wallet and headed to Menards. An hour and $24 later Tim was climbing up our maple and knotting ropes.  Tim took a scrap of lumber and drilled a hole in the middle to make a seat/stand on one of the ropes, the other rope is officially the Jungle Man rope.

I didn’t use my camera all day and I didn’t really even think of my camera until Tim brought it out to me while the kids were playing on the new rope swings. He handed it over with a smile and stated, “Your not doing your job.” and I happily took the camera and started snapping. Sometimes it is nice to just live the day and not take photos, but most of the time I love stepping back and capturing the moment with my camera. Sunday was a good day because I got to do both.

For the record she ate cotton candy at 10 am Sunday morning and it was still on her face at 4pm that afternoon. Parenting fail? or Sunday Funday win?

And my two Jungle Boys.

The ropes were a hit. Yesterday morning before school they were playing on the ropes and it was also the first thing they did when they got home from school. This morning was the same thing. They ate breakfast, brushed their teeth, way faster than the dentist recommended 2 minutes, and then headed out to the ropes.

The ropes are great for Michael. They are an OT/SPD miracle. Michael gets to swing, which is great for Vestibular input  (balance, inner ear, knowing where your body is), Proprioceptive (Heavy work that improves attention and calms and focuses the nervous system — this is also why Michael needs to chew on things when trying to sit still)

Sometime OT isn’t very fun, like when I have him carry full laundry baskets up and down stairs for me, but sometimes OT is lots of fun.

And sometimes he doesn’t even know he is doing OT, but as he has gotten older he has learned and come to understand that his body works a bit different. He recognized right away that “These rope swings are great heavy work and the swinging calms me down!” I am so proud.

With all the kids in school now I have more free time to get house work done during the week. I hope this translates to more Sunday Fundays because everyone needs a few more fundays a week where we set aside the never-ending to-do list and say the house is good enough for now, errands can wait until tomorrow and I will finish that project later.

And I will leave you with this quick video of Michael getting some much-needed movement after school yesterday.


SAHM Summer School Fitness

I know. Go ahead and laugh. Me writing a post about fitness is definitely joke worthy. But this isn’t about me. Well it is a little bit about me, but it is mostly about the kids.

I have blogged about Michael’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) before and to say it has an impact on the entire family is an understatement. The impact is not all bad. Yes, it is a challenge for Michael daily, and it is also a challenge to parent a kiddo with SPD but there are also some positive things about SPD; mainly it keeps us moving. Moving is a must.

Michael is a sensory seeker. His body needs massive amounts of input to slow his brain down to function like the rest of us. He likes to push things, pull things, crash into things, lift things and generally find resistance and fight against it any way physically possible. Keeping all that energy locked up is a recipe for disaster, so exercise or occupational therapy is a daily requirement. The difference between exercise and occupational therapy for us at this point is a co-pay. This is not to say that OT isn’t a good thing. OT was the best thing that ever happened to Michael. OT was the best thing that ever happened to Tim and I as parents. OT taught us so much and we now have the tools to help our boy.

SPD really is a hard thing to describe. Whenever I try to imagine what Michael is feeling, I close my eyes and think about being on a plane. I am sitting economy coach and I am in the middle seat between to people who have taken over the armrests. These people smell. Not necessarily bad smells but one has on too much perfume and the other is eating a oniony and garlic filled sandwich. Both are talking loudly and at the same time. We have been on the plane for hours and I am tired of sitting. I am antsy, and I feel like I could jump out of my skin and nothing in the world would be better than being able to stand up and walk up and down the plane isles a few times to stretch my legs, but alas the fasten seat belt sign is on. My seat neighbours are still talking loudly and occasionally they look at me for a response, but I am working so hard at staying inside my small bubble and not elbowing them WWF wrestler style in an effort to gain another few square inches of arm space, that I have no idea what the loud talking neighbours asked me.

When Michael is having a bad day, this is what I imagine life is like. Sitting at the dinner table is hard. Everyone is noisy, all the smells are filling the air and he is being asked to sit, partake in dinner conversation, remember manners and try new foods. He has siblings or a parent on either side of him within arms reach. With nothing to anchor him or engage his body, the simple task of sitting at the dinner table is overwhelming.

When Michael isn’t sitting at the table well, I think about myself in that plane seat and the only things that makes the my plane situation easier is being well rested so my head is clear but physically exhausted so my body can relax. This is the goal for Michael. This is why we exercise. We exercise to help his body relax. We eat healthy food and are super strict about bed times so he can have a clear head.

Over the school year I have had the luxury of handing over that daily exercise routine to Michael’s teachers. Now that he is home full-time it is all on me. Three weeks into summer and spending all this time working on “school”  and having lots of free time have led to many bad days for all of us. The only thing all those bad days had in common was the lack of movement and input. It is time to add fitness and exercise into the routine. Michael isn’t the only one who needs the movement breaks and exercise, Patrick would spend an entire day on the couch or in front of the computer if allowed. Elise is prone to nightmares and she sleeps best after a long day of physical activity, fresh air and sun.

So here we are again. Another GIMPed up graphic to get me motivated.


The Frog JumpStarred Photos23

The Bear Crawl

Starred Photos24


Elise wasn’t the only one getting into character when doing the bear crawl.


The plank

And here is Patrick capturing exactly how I feel about the plank 47 seconds into it.

The crab walk.

And Elise chose to make the crab walk especially difficult by refusing to go backwards. Have you ever tried to crab walk forwards? It may be impossible.

I try to set an example at reading time by grabbing my book and reading with them. It would be easy to use those 20 minutes to make lunch or check email, but instead I sit down and read. It is wonderful to look up from my book and see that all three kids are looking at pictures or reading to themselves. In reality most of the 20 minutes is me answering the age-old question, are we there yet?  are we done yet? So when it comes to SAHM Fitness I try to set an example by choosing five, resting and then choosing five more. Most of the time it is fun but sometimes I find myself asking, “ARE WE DONE YET?!” when the timer doesn’t seem to end with the crab walk.

summer school fitness list

For the record the crab and bear walk are by far my least favorite.

More photos in the gallery

Disney World Day One: Animal Kingdom

We surprised the kids on the last day of the AGM and told them that we were not taking a plane home that day, but were instead taking a taxi to Walt Disney World. We gave them their Magic Bands, we called a cab and I began to pray that the trip would go smoothly. I love my kids but they are not the most flexible travelling companions.   We checked into our resort around 11 am and after a fast unpack and repack of my backpack (i.e. our life support system to help us survive Disney World parks) and coating our pasty MN skin in sunblock (We don’t mess around with that pansy-ass sun screen stuff – 45 spf or higher, or we don’t use it) we headed to the resort’s shuttle location and hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is amazing.       We ate a big buffet lunch at Tusker House. It was good food. They had safe kid friendly food like mini corn dogs and UnCrustables and yummy cous cous salads and smoked salmon for me. I don’t know what Tim ate (probably hunks of the pork or beef they were carving), I was too busy to pay attention to his plate because I was trying to eat as much as I could, drink as much iced tea as my bladder (girl has got to hydrate!) could handle and take as many photos I could of the boys meeting Donald, Goofy and Mickey. Elise didn’t like the characters. She clung to Tim and stayed as far away from the characters as possible. This was our first day using Magic Bands and there was the slightest learning curve but mostly they worked very smoothly and were really cool. All our Fast Pass info was stored in there so when ever we were scheduled to jump a line, we would put our bands “Mickey to Mickey” and if the light turned green we got to pass. In true Clute fashion there were times when we were a few minutes early for our FP scheduled window (1 hour windows) and the person checking the bands would tell us to wait x amount of minutes and come back. Even if we did that we were still saving HOURS of waiting in line for rides. By the end of the trip we were all Magic Band pros. My favorite part of the day was a tie between riding a roller coaster with the boys (Tim and I took turns riding roller coasters when Elise wasn’t tall enough) and going on the safari.   The animals were so close!  This is how close we got to Rhinos.   All five of us loved the safari and it was the perfect break in the day to just sit down, relax and enjoy. Even though we were taking in so much, it was still an incredible sensory break for all of us, especially Michael. Another Shout Out to Jess (Easy Days Getaways) for scheduling our Fast Pass times so perfectly. We got to jump the line and take a break right when we needed to!

After the safari we walked along one of the trails which held more animals. It was fun but Tim and I both commented about how nice the MN Zoo is. You don’t realize how good it really is until you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the MN Zoo trails are nearly as impressive as the Animal Kingdom trails.  

We watched the parade, totally worth finding a good place to watch. The floats were incredible. The kids loved it and they waved at every float that went by.

In my haste to get this post done I completely forgot what my absolute favorite attraction at Animal Kingdom was….

pause for dramatic effect….


Finding Nemo the Musical!

The kids have never seen anything live on stage before. I know, shame on me. I was a theatre major who strongly believes that theatre is good for kids for countless reasons and I have yet to take them to a show. They were entranced. I cried because my kids were loving theatre and because I love theatre and because Finding Nemo always makes me cry. The ticket price to get into Animal Kingdom is worth every penny just to see this show. It was my favorite attraction out of our entire Disney trip.

One of the things that surprised me most about our day was how many things there were to do that didn’t involve standing in line. The drum photos pictured above were a display they had set up so kids could play drums. There were water fountains, not drinking fountains, water fountains that the kids could cool off with and the best of all, the Dinosaur Excavation site. Basically it is a completely themed out play ground and giant sand box with the best sand in the world. The kids could have spent hours playing in the playground and sandbox. It was the perfect break for them to blow off steam, not stand in line and to also take a break from each other. Remember, this was our first day of Disney but it was our 4th day in FL so temperatures were running high and the boys could be quick to fight if they didn’t get a break from each other.

Do you see how far apart Michael and Elise chose to play? Probably 5 feet apart.

Patrick chose to be on the complete opposite side of the sandbox. On a normal day Patrick’s temper bubbles close to the surface.  On days when his brother is doing his best to stay in control,  and Elise was cranky and not feeling 100%, Patrick just needed to have time away from everyone else and spent some time alone. This sand box was perfect for that.

The day was great. We were definitely Disney Park novices. We walked ALL day and back tracked frequently. Tim and I almost became one of the many couples we saw fighting over where to go next and who was helping more. Disney is not a place of the faint of heart. You need to have a plan. We learned that the hard way. Even though Jess had scheduled us to eat at a certain time and ride a few rides at a certain times (You get 3 Fast Passes a day and she booked them for us) the in-between was chaos.

When packing for Disney I thought we should bring a stroller, Tim insisted that Elise could ride on his shoulders. We compromised. I wouldn’t pack a stroller but Elise would be his responsibility if she insisted on being carried. Well she wanted to be carried but refused to be carried on his shoulders. Tim spent the entire day carrying her on his hips. I never once said I told you so while we were in the park. I waited until we got back to the resort and the kids were in bed and Tim had been fed and was sufficiently hydrated again before I did that.

I was worried that Tim would look back on the trip and only remember this.

Starred Photos8

He was hot, tired, frustrated and overwhelmed. I let him relax that night and take advantage of the wi-fi and he checked out. I spent the night planning the next day. I made routes and had a solid plan. Magic Kingdom was our Everest and we were going to conquer it. But first we were going to go to Epcot and that would be easy, right?!

“Tapping into my inner Type A and planning our first day
at #MagicKingdom tomorrow !#shannonfamilyvacay #DisneyWorld”

There are so many more photos that you can find here. I haven’t even began to share all my favorites with you all.

Michael D: Star Student

Every month at Michael’s school the teachers get to nominate one student for the Star Student Award. Among those nominated, one kid from each grade is selected. Michael was nominated by his teacher and won!

On Friday morning they held a breakfast to honor the students and the families were invited to celebrate their kiddo’s achievement. Miracle of miracles all of five of us were at his school by 8:10 to eat some pastries and cheer on Michael when he received his award.

Michael’s teacher said a few words about Michael to the group of families that were there.

Later, while eating some sweet rolls with us, she explained further why she nominated Michael.  We had a good laugh over how worried both of us were going into the school year. I think we were both braced for the worst. This year could have been a never ending uphill battle. But it hasn’t. Michael has been so good. Have there been a few issues? Sure. Has he exceeded our most hopeful expectations? Absolutely!

It meant so much for both Tim and I to have all of Michael’s hard work recognized. He has come so far and matured so much in the past few months. His teachers are outstanding. They are kind. They go above and beyond. They are firm and don’t let Michael get away with anything but they understand the obstacles he faces and are willing to adjust and teach Michael the way he needs to be taught. That means breaks from the classroom so he can do some push ups or a headstand. It sometimes means sitting on a Disco Sit or chewing on a chewy while writing his letters. Because of that Michael loves school. Is there a great gift that a teacher could give a kid? He LOVES school.

The teacher on the left is Michael’s kindergarten teacher. The teacher on the right is his resource room teacher who comes and gives Michael the breaks he needs throughout the day. She helps Michael with his push ups and headstands and reminds him to think of other and that his actions have consequences. They have both been incredible. We LOVE good teachers!

Often kids with Sensory Processing Disorder are labeled as bad kids. Most people don’t understand why  someone with SPD needs to touch everything on the shelf, startles (and even screams) at unexpected toilet flush, baulks at an unexpected touch and may loathe or love a big bear hug. Michael is learning and has come so far. He learns new skills all the time to help him and he is only in Kindergarten. We are so proud of his level of maturity and are so excited to see the boy he is becoming. My kid loves science and is honest in the most refreshing way. He is kind and is learning to be thoughtful and considerate. He is smart- so very smart and is such a great example to his little brother and sister (most of the days).

We are so proud of him and are so grateful that other recognize all the hard work he does and all the effort he put in every day to be the best he can be. He is a star.

(it was PJ day at Patrick’s school)