YAY – the sun has come out again :-)

It feels like it has rained for two weeks solid 🙁  There have been mudslides and all sorts in the area around here.

Thankfully the sun came out a little yesterday and has been out quite a lo today, with the temperature making it’s way to almost 20 degrees Celsius this afternoon.  As a result we went out on the bikes tonight and the boys played in Houge Park for 45 minutes or so.  Was nice to be able to be out in t-shirt and shorts again – was January the last time we were able to enjoy the weather like this.  Apparently the week will only get warmer… 🙂

Simon went to a business friends place in San Francisco on Saturday night and they made what this guy called Deathburgers – basically a burger with grilled cheese sandwiches for the bun, a 1/2 pound burger (hand made), bacon that was fried and then eggs that were fried in the fat left from the bacon, chips that were fried in the fat that was left after the bacon and eggs, chilli, lettuce, onion, avocado, tomato ketchup etc etc – you get the jist of it…. There were definitely way north of 2000 calories in these bad boys….

We had a lovely dinner at Daisy and Roy’s last night to finish the weekend off nicely.

We are heading back to the UK in a little under 2 weeks so we are beginning to think about what we need to take back vs. bring back here 2 weeks later.  We are trying to minimize baggage all round as it will make it much easier to manage with the boys if we have little or no luggage. It also means we could leave the date car in the airport car park rather than the X5 – the X5 has over 9,000 miles on it, yet the date car has not yet got to 7,500.  Given that we are paying extra so that the date car can do up to 12,000 per year, we need t use it a lot more at the weekends.  This is not a major drama since for some reason the boys both seem to prefer the Golf.

Still raining :-(

Check out the wonderful birthday cake that Amy, Jason and Charlotte brought for Vicky’s birthday celebrations last night 🙂 How cool is this cake?  For perspective it is about the size of a head 🙂 Almost felt too nice to cut…..

Only said *almost* 🙂

We have had cake for breakfast this morning – Olly certainly approved of cake for brekkie 🙂

Happy Birthday Mummy

We are heading out to the shops to buy mummy something nice 🙂 |We are also heading round to Escobars Jewellers as they have finished upgrading Vicky’s rings with the new diamonds, created the earrings and HOPEFULLY have the new ring in as well – will make a nice start to mummy’s birthday.

The rain has been persistent for the last few days and looks like it is here to stay for a significant few more 🙁 At least the reservoirs will be full and we won’t need to worry about the water supplies over the summer.

Simon picked up his new watch last night – he ended up upgrading it (typical !) and so picked up a rather cheeky IWC Portuguese Automatic Special Edition (Laureus).  He seems very pleased with it even if it’s arrival has overshadowed Vicky’s birthday 🙁

We are going out for a nice meal tonight with the Folks, so that will be nice – the restaurant that Amy suggested in Los Gatos looks really rather nice – looking forward to finding out.

Simon received his new glasses this week – they were shipped over from the UK by Simon’s optician when the US folks would not make any up for him – apparently his eyesight is too bad for rimless glasses in the US.  They are spot on and even have reacting lenses to UV so they turn into sunglasses in the sunlight – nice.

He passed !!!! :-)

YAY !! Our big boy passed the exam from last weekend and has secured himself a place at the Junior Kindergarten @ the Mulberry School.

Now all we have to do is find a place for Olly to go to and we are onto a winner.

Celebratory meal at the Outback last night then 🙂

We have been out shopping at the Stanford Shopping Mall in Palo Alto today – Simon checked out the Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter in Brookstone.  This is a remote controlled 4 rotor helicopter that is controlled by the iPhone or iPad:-) To top it all, we were in the park with the kids later and Simon managed to break his new RC Helicopter (provided by a work colleague Mike Mills last weekend) on its first outdoor trip.

Simon has ordered his Apple iPad 2 and the delivery date is set as April 6th 2011 – we leave for the UK on the 7th – hmmm – what’s the betting it is going to sit on the doorstep for two weeks then ?

We are in the midst of trying to figure out if we should buy a couple of rental properties in the UK OR if we should buy a house out here in Silicon Valley – the house in SV will cost us circa $1.3m and the houses in the UK 160k UKP each.  The challenge is that to transfer our funds to the UK will end up in our losing a little cash :-(.  Amy out here suggested that as and when we decide to return to the UK we could always rent out the SV house – a smart point that we had not actually considered before – on $1.3m we will be able to relatively easily score $4,000 per calendar month so it would be a pretty good earner.  Clearly we would need a *significant* mortgage for the US option.

Simon is heading out to New York tomorrow night for 4 days and Vicky’s diamonds will be ready for collection at some point during the week.  The question is will she be able to wait until Simon is back before running to get them………

Elly’s first entrance examination

Yesterday was a BIG day for Elliot – he had to go to school (yes, that’s right, on a SATURDAY) to go through a sort of entrance examination to see if he is ready to progress to Junior Kindergarten at the school he presently goes to four afternoons a week.

Pretty stressful time for mummy and daddy – we certainly weren’t expecting Elliot to be going through exams at four years old !!!

He came out at 3pm quite happy and chirpy and so we think he did OK – he certainly knows all of the things that they need him to know – Vicky has spent a lot of time educating him over the last few months, since the school actually (believe it or not) does not give them the skills that they need to pass this exam…. 🙁

We will find out next Friday as to what the score is.  We already found that Olly is 2 months too young to join the infant class two mornings a week so that is a big of a bind – he is DESPERATE to go to school – he wants to stay every time we take Elly in.

Simon took the plunge yesterday and ordered the IWC watch he has had his eye on for a little while.  Couple of issues;

  1. They did not have one in stock and could not tell how long it would take to deliver so we have agreed that if not delivered to the store within a month, they will give a full refund
  2. The banks in the US do not allow switch transactions over $5k so we had to wait on hold with the bank while they agreed to allow the funds to be released on the transaction – took 45 mins….. PAINFUL

We wait patiently for both situations to unfold.  We may need to lookfor new schools for both boys in August 🙂

Spring is in the air

We went out cycling tonight – the first time in a few weeks – it was nice to get back out there but really hard – amazing how quickly your body gets used to being lazy 🙁

We are back to 19 degrees Celcius during the daytime at present – which is nice – and the rain seems to be holding off now.

We got the news yesterday that Olly has been declined a lace at the school that Elly has been going to this year – he is 2 months two young basically – this is clearly painful and we had hoped to get them both into school as the classes were roughly the same times (Olly only 2 mornings, Elly 4)

Elly is going in for his test on Saturday afternoon to see if he will be accepted for Pre Kindergarten.  Fingers crossed.

Simon went to the watch shop on Sunday afternoon to see if he was going to buy the IWC watch he has had his eye on.  The store just did not come up with the goods on working a deal out so he left empty handed – felt totally let down with the whole experience typically.

So, where do we start?

Ok so we are new to America and how things work so what do we do with the information that Elliot has social pragmatic skill issues and a potential speech and language delay.  I say potential as Simon and I don’t really believe he has an issue with his speech.  Whilst we decide we fill out paperwork to get him signed up at the purposeful play program to get started with the social play issues.  Now I am thinking Aspergers I don’t want to wait I want to get Elliot as much help as possible so I decide to speak to the paediatrician and tell them what Paula discovered after observing him and what she recommended.  They gave me the details of a few specialists in the area.

One of which was Paediatric Therapy Services. I have heard really great things about Christine Bacon at PTS so decided to give them a call.  I explained Elliot’s issues and she suggested an OT (Occupational Therapy) and SLT (Speech and Language Therapy) Screening so that they could decide what would be the best plan of action for him.  I discussed with her that we were thinking maybe Aspergers and she said there were lots of children in the bay area like Elliot.  Apparently because there are so many engineers and “techies” here there are more confirmed causes of autism in this area than in the whole of America.  This was nice to know at least we wont be on this journey on our own.

Great news we got in at TSSV (Teach Social Silicon Valley). We start 7th March hopefully Elliot will enjoy the group and get a lot out of it we certainly hope so, as it is $125 per session!!!

Even Better news follows on Friday, all the hard work had paid off with Elliot, after being told that he wouldn’t pass the entrance exam for Mulberry he passed and got into the JK programme,  Well done big guy we are so proud of you.

Elliot has settled well to joining the purposeful play programme he seems to be trying to join in with his peers but needs constant facilitation from the group leader.  At least he is trying to join in which is a start, below are the session notes, the cheers are the bits he has done well with and the challenges are the bits he is finding hard.

Elliot: Session 1

  • Cheers: first day with the group. He joined right in and followed along with the imaginative play and structured play. Was a little quiet, but was actively engaged in the group activities. Did not hesitate to act out the story with friends. Was willing to be the leprechaun; did not want to wear the hat – this is fine – many of my little friends don’t like wearing props (sensory thing, new thing, unexpected, etc…) I never force a child to do something he does not want to do – rather I act as though he will do it when he is ready and I always leave the opportunity open for him to change his mind without losing face. Example: “you might want to try later, I will leave it here just in case”
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play

Now we just need to co-ordinate diaries with PTS (Paediatric Therapy Services) and get him assessed so we can see what the experts think

I guess now is a good time to start considering our options for summer programmes.  Mulberry have lots of great summer camps available but will these work for Elliot?  I check in with Bonnie and Paula and ask their advice.  I suspect that they will be very busy and quite chaotic, all things that Elliot really struggles to deal with.  Bonne and Paula confirm this and feel that the environment is not going to be beneficial to Elliot.  OK so this is not a huge but school finishes June 10th and doesn’t start up again until September.  I need to find something to do with Elliot.  Just at this stage in pops an email from TSSV offering an intensive summer programme.  It consists of 2, 2 hour sessions over 4 weeks, sounds great right?……….crunch time it’s $1600 wow wee open that check book again :o)

In the meantime the session notes from his March sessions at TSSV are below:

Elliot:  Session 2

  • Cheers: he wore the leprechaun hat today! No problem at all, even wore it over his face for the surprise “guess who” picture. With prompting and choice of 2 able to add to the “fill in the blank” story. He knows the answers, just is quiet and needs time to respond. He does use gestures and communicates with the group – he is aware of what is going on around him. He needs to develop confidence in social interaction, and he is in the right place for that! Shared his Woody Lego with his friends and let his friends try it.
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play, social confidence, using a loud enough voice

Elliot:  Session 3

  • Cheers: Was so happy with the snow ball fight – he had fun, did not hesitate to throw the snow balls (wadded up paper), smiled and a little quiet laugh – he really enjoyed himself. Used his body to throw – really got into the play. Able to use the grabber without instruction. Listens to direction, listens to peers, adds comments with his body – becoming more comfortable with the group and using his voice. I do not push for using voice – this just makes the child more anxious, rather I act as though “of course” he will talk when he is ready. If someone says “he is shy” it reinforces to the child that he does not need to talk – I like to say “he will talk when he has something to say” this reframes it to a positive goal rather than a challenge.
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play, speaking to peers