FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Zombie Apocalypse

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jun• 23•15

zombie

You, too, have probably been stopped from going to a kid’s comedy show. One you’ve been wanting to go to for months and one thing or another got in the way.

The last obstacle being the Wife poo-pooing the idea in front of your son. So what to do with the rest of a good Saturday afternoon?

First, we went to Wilderness Park (a nature preserve) and then the Toy Store (Toys R Us) and the Pet Store (Pet Smart).

By the time we got back home, I took a break from our adventures which began with a parent vs. kids baseball game in his “Break it Down” Total Sports class.

 And then the  door bell rung. It was D’s best friend who lives across the street. And he wanted to go to the park.

 So what do you do?

 Pretend the best friend has turned into a zombie, conspiring, screaming and running with D to avoid being eaten by the zombie. 

 You create the illusion that you believe the best friend is a zombie wiith high-pitched panic and terror. To show your fear of being eaten by a zombie.

“I’m not a zombie,” the friend said. “I’m human.”

“No, he’s not,” I tell D, “he’s pretending to not be human, so he can eat us.”  

The moral of the story: Create your own dramatic performance if you’re hindered from seeing a dramatic performance.

 

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Parents vs. Kids

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jun• 08•15

fielding

This is how the first parents versus kids baseball modified game went in the last session of D’s “Break it Down” Total Sports class.

Before the game, the kids huddled in a circle with their hands together. “Let’s go kids,” they shouted, led by their teacher-coach Ms. Stephanie.

I cajoled the parents’ team, comprised of three dads and one mom, to form a circle, hands together, and shout back, “Let’s go parents.”

I wanted the kids to feel the thrill of competition—that this game was going to be a hard-fought, no nonsense, full-fledged competitive battle.

Ok, so it wasn’t.

The kids routed the parents in a game with many near miss tags and bobbled baseballs—by the parents–and outstanding play by the kids.

Maybe, the parents were a little rusty from our playing days, or there was some other reason for being a little slow in tagging runners out.

But the game wasn’t about winning or losing. No one bothered to keep score. It was about making sports accessible to kids with special needs.

To that end, “Break it Down” Total Sports eight-week baseball class was a success as the kids showed off their developing baseball skills and knowledge of the game.

running bases

Everyone on the field–kids, parents, teachers, a younger sibling–was having fun and completely engaged in the game.  

It felt great playing baseball with my son. I’d taken a bat, ball and bases to the park a few times when he was younger.

An impromptu game would break out with a few other kids, and by the time it was his turn to bat, he’d already run off to the playground equipment.

So his biggest achievement–aside from hitting or running the bases–was regulating his body to stay focused on the game.

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Target Dog

Written By: Scot Butwell - May• 24•15

target dog

You might think he’s interested in the dog. Maybe he thinks it’s Petey from the Little Rascals.

But he’s not interested in the dog. It’s the metal part of the collar fascinating him.

This is the way he brain words, noticing the small, tiny details. He doesn’t see tree in the forest, or the panoramic view of the forest skyline.

He sees the tiny bugs on the forest floor.

This was the end of a day of adventures where we went to the Pet Store and Toy Store, McDonalds, the park, and Target.

And he was angling to visit the girls…our neighbors we climb over a brick wall to see.  

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Baseball Follies

Written By: Scot Butwell - May• 17•15

baseball is fun

It happened something like this.

D stepped up to bat, swung and hit the ball. He dropped the bat, started off nice and easy, and then picked up his speed after rounding first base.

And then second base came into his view and a fielder running towards him with the ball in his glove, and that’s when things got a little bit crazy.

He made a loop towards third base – technically illegal—to avoid being tagged out and then swerved back and flopped down onto second base.

Safe! Unless, he was called out for the illegal loop–and he wasn’t since he was learning the rules of baseball.

He was laughing and out of breath. I was laughing too at this new dimension to his “Break it Down” Total Sports class: tagging a runner out.

Who knew baseball could be so much fun?

For several weeks, he’d practiced hitting, throwing, catching, fielding grounders, running the bases–all necessary components of a kid learning to play baseball.

But there was a key ingredient missing–something more than fielding grounders–and it was evident in comical base running chase.

More social interaction.

Kids play sports for all sorts of reasons. To hit a home run. Swish a basketball through the net. I played sports as a kid, so I am familiar with all the reasons.

But the purest reason for playing sports is it’s fun, and especially at this young age level, social. And this was evident in my son’s cheesy smile as he was chased by a peer.

It felt like one of those long, endless summer days playing baseball as kid. Remember those? With all the neighborhood kids gathered in an abandoned lot.

I know because I’d asked into the game—my alleged excuse being two kids were absent–as a fielder and then as a base runner.

Let’s face it: sitting and watching your child play baseball is not as fun as being tagged out by your son. I may even have to advocate for a parent versus child game!

And what’s wrong with some baseball follies?

Growing up, I recall watching a Saturday tv program on baseball, and my favorite part was always watching the bloopers.

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How I Met Your Mother

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 26•15

Lisa how i met She heard me give an announcement to the singles’ group at our church about a ministry to the homeless.

She was interested in serving God in some way.

My phone number was listed in the church bulletin to call for more information about the homeless ministry.

She called.

We talked about the ministry for a few minutes and then we talked about Jesus for over an hour and how He was changing our lives.

She had recently rededicated her life to Christ, and I was new Christian.

I invited her to meet me at the church to drive together to a Friday night service at a rescue mission for the homeless.

She came five minutes late after I left the church parking lot. But she started coming to breakfast and bible study on Saturday mornings.

We would both stay to talk to one or two of the homeless men together after the bible study had ended and became quick friends.

During the week, we talked a lot on the phone about how we were growing in our relationship with Jesus and became closer friends.

Then one night we went out for coffee after a group from our church went to the Friday night service at the rescue mission.

Your mom began singing crazy on the way to the coffee shop, and that was something she had never done with me before.

At the coffee shop, we were playing checkers, and whenever I would move one of my checkers, her eyes locked into my eyes.

The drive and the checker game—that’s how I began to knew I loved your mother–and then you came along several years later.

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A Walk to Remember

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

flower 2 If you were walking to the bookstore, and some random thing caught your child’s attention, you might stop and look at flowers, too.

You know, to pass the time.

So we did.

I noticed the beauty of the colors, shapes and flower compositions that I would not have otherwise given a second thought.

The beauty of a simple flower got me to thinking about the designer of the flower and appreciating the warm sunshine and cool breeze.

Some random object had attracted his attention. I’m not even sure what it was so captivating was the beauty of the flowers.

Then, I remembered one of my son’s ABA goals is to not be distracted by touching plants and/or random objects while walking to the park.

It is a goal that we practiced on a walk to the park (with his ABA therapist watching us with notepad in hand) on a recent day off from work.

You see my dilemma, don’t you?

As a sensory kid, my son could probably stop and touch over fifty to a hundred objects on our walk to the bookstore and back home.

That’s the fun of walking to the bookstore for him, so I had to decide on the fly how committed I was going to be to this “no touch” ABA goal. flower The Wife has informed me on several occasions with a less than kind tone that my hard work is paying thousands of dollars for his therapy.

This is her not so subtle way of informing me that I should apply all the objectives of his ABA lessons to guide me in how I parent our son.

So.

I’ll be honest, I’m torn about this ABA goal. I understand its importance in keeping him from being distracted by every object that captures his attention.

However, on the other hand, I question if every distraction is potentially harmful when he gets such joy from each new random discovery.

And if my mind begins to contemplate God from the design of a simple flower, who knows what his mind may be thinking?

He will be starting first grade in a large public school next week. It will be eight or nine weeks before the end of the school year.

It will be a lot of stimulation for his easily distracted brain. Strange new faces. A playground filled with running children and social cues to respond to.

So I’m sure this ABA goal has been good for him to an extent, but it feels a little extreme on a weekend walk to the bookstore.

Who knows if his hypersensitive attraction to detail could be the sensory-intellectual curiosity of a future scientist or a news reporter?

 

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Ship to Shore

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 18•15

ship to shore

You want to improve your kid’s listening skills while having a lot of fun? Play the game Ship to Shore, preferably with five to seven kids.

Here’s how: mark out two lines about ten feet apart from each other and designate one as the ship and the other as the shore.

When you say the word “ship,” the kids have to run to the ship line, and when you say shore, they run to the shore line.

It’s that simple.

But don’t forget to add stand on one leg and salute with your right hand when you say, “the Captain’s coming!”

And don’t forget to add drop to your hands and knees and scrub the floor when you say, “Scrub the deck!”

And don’t forget to add lay on your stomach when you yell out, “Hit the deck!”

You can Google the words “ship to shore” for more actions you can add to make the game even more crazy and fun.

And I recommend speeding up delivery of the commands to see how well everyone listens when they begin to get tired.

Also, try to trick your kid to run to the ship when they’re standing on the ship line, or to run to shore when they’re standing on the shore.

That’s where the listening skills come into play and, yes, they will confuse the ship and shore as the commands keep coming, and that’s what makes it fun.

Their bodies and minds will get confused as you keep giving new commands and the giggles and laughter will soon begin.

This is how you can improve your child’s auditory processing–for success in school–while having a lot of fun as well.

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Huxley and Bug

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 17•15

huxley So, um, yeah, I have some explaining to do. He likes to pretend to be super heroes in front of the bathroom mirror.

Or imitate You tube videos giving instructions on how to put stickers and accessories on Marvel mini-munnies.

So, after listening for awhile, I joined him, grabbing a brush and became Huxley from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

The tan coat was his costume idea and an invitation into his creative world. “If I touch it, it’s mine,” I said, quoting one of Huxley’s most famous lines.

This was me modeling beginning acting skills by establishing a character with my voice and body movement and use of a prop.

It was serious fun and pure creative expression, a glimpse into my son’s imaginative mind and a great way to join him in his world.

Huxley or Boss is the nickname he gave me–and Bug his nickname–after two characters from Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.   

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Play Ball!

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

bazeballtoo You want to make a kid excited? Ask him to run the bases and see what happens.

I watched as my son sprinted from third base, leaped in the air a few feet away and practically glided to home plate.

Maybe he had some pent up excitement since his teacher told him to stop at each base when a new batter was up.

Yes, baseball is fun.

Ok so. He probably could have handled t-ball or soccer at age five or six. And he might have even rocked it.

Or maybe not.

He had—and still does have—difficulty regulating his body and executing many gross motor activities with fluidness.

Imagine the difficulty of standing in the infield or outfield for long stretches when you have trouble standing still.

Consider throwing, catching or hitting a baseball when you find most gross motor activities to be a challenge.

So, wisely (we thought), the Wife and I chose to hold back on the whole sports thing. bazeballThen we found “Break it Down” Total Sports, a class designed by ABA therapists to make sports accessible to kids with special needs.

“Break it Down” Total Sports combines learning a sport with toy breaks on a blanket every twenty minutes for behavioral reinforcement.

The core principle is to break every skill down into smaller parts to accomplish the bigger task of learning how to play a sport.

It worked wonders with our son and basketball, so we decided to sign him up for eight weeks of baseball.

Except one problem.

I forgot to buy him a new glove. So, thirty minutes before his class, we rushed to Target and bought an glove.

And you know what? You could say he was a model for the younger kids in regulating his body and you would be right on.

Yes, he has work to do on baseball fundamentals, but he shined in the most important areas for him in terms of social development.

His enthusiasm for running the bases and attentiveness to his teachers were off the charts.

From greeting a friend to being the first to race after every gizmo his teachers shot in the air, the timid kid in his basketball class was long gone.

Ok so. His swing was listless, lacking any natural motion, confidence, grace or mechanics. That will need some work.

It’s a gross motor issue.

But I’m confident that somehow the reckless abandon he showed running the bases will eventually transfer over to his swing.

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Ahhhhh Nature

Written By: Scot Butwell - Apr• 12•15

marsh

We may or may not have come across a rattlesnake on the trail at our local marsh. D spotted it first after he went off trail and cut across the marsh.

I was following behind him and the snake was crossing the edge of trail. D was about ten feet away with his fingers in his ears.

The snake looked harmless, so I took a picture and…no, I wasn’t being a derelict dad abandoning my son in the face of danger.

The Wife heard about the snake later from D. She compared my photo with Google images of rattlesnakes from the internet.

Yes, it was a rattlesnake.

She thinks. Maybe.

When it slithered into the bushes, I thought our snake adventure was over. Maybe, I might post a picture on my blog.

End of story.

But the Wife suggested I call the marsh. So I texted them my snake photo, and Tracy at the marsh said it was a California Kingsnake.

He said the California Kingsnake has a flat, oval-shaped head while a rattlesnake has a triangle-shaped head and diamond pattern covering its back.

He sent close-up pictures of a rattlesnake and California Kingsnake so I could compare the shape of their heads.

Here’s the California King:

California King

And here’s the rattlesnake with diamond-pattern and triangular head:

rattlesnake

He added that most snakes with triangular-shaped heads are poisonous and the rapid movement and rattling sound identifies a rattlesnake.

This is good to know to id any future rattlesnakes while out in nature with my son.

Also, Tracy said in forty-five years of observations by biologists and naturalists, there has never been a rattlesnake at the marsh.

I guess a mother’s protective nature can sometimes be wrong.

snake

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