Thursday, May 29, 2014

Motivated to Get in Shape

We took Kai to a new pediatrician a few weeks ago. He showed us an interesting chart that showed Kai’s height and weight at various ages. He told us that Kai was currently at the 30th percentile for height, and 80th percentile for weight. Not a good combination.

We have been aware for some time now that Kai was overweight. His diet has generally been pretty good – few processed foods, very little sodas and packaged juices, a good amount of vegetables and fruits, and desserts only on days that he has a lot of exercise – but he still has the bloated belly that he’s had all his life (and which is common in kids with autism).

Though I did find out at the doctor’s office that my wife had been taking Kai to McDonald’s three days a week when they did not have time to come home after school before he has to go to therapy. She decided that from now on, she would prepare something healthier for him to eat in the car.

We know that exercise is important, so we have tried to make sure he is physically active. He has his regular weekly swim lesson, weekly fitness group led by his swim instructor, his weekly boxing class (that is now on break for the summer), our weekend morning runs, and short exercises on weekday mornings.

But all that did not seem to be enough. We needed to do more.

We also decided that though we could try to do these things, it was important for Kai himself to want to embrace healthier habits.

And the best incentive to motivate him was to tie his fitness to the amount of time he could use the iPad.

My wife has a scale that measures body fat percentage in addition to a person’s weight. Since he is a growing boy, we thought that body fat percentage, rather than weight, would be the best measure. We decided that we would measure Kai’s body fat every week at the same time, on Saturday evenings after his bath, before dinner.

The first time we measured, he came out at 28.5% body fat. Not good at all.

That first week, he was very motivated – after all, his precious iPad time depended on it – and he voluntarily cut his portions.

“Dad, I’ll just have half of the pizza (instead of the usual amount).”

The following Saturday, we saw that his efforts paid off. He was down to 27.0%.

But the next week he slacked off. I think he thought that he would not have to keep working at it.

His body fat went right back up to where it was before.

So the third week he was again determined to lose the fat. He spoke to Mom about the “big test” that would be coming up. He wanted to eat less.

And on Saturday, when he stepped on the scale, he had his best showing yet.

Our goal for this is not so much for Kai to hit a particular number. Rather, it is to instill in him good eating, exercise, and lifestyle habits that will hopefully stay with him for the rest of his life.

Hopefully he won’t just rollercoaster, going down one week only to go back up the next. It will probably take a lot of persistence on our part to keep him focused on the big picture.

But for his long-term health, it is critical to build good habits from an early age. Let’s see how we do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Memorial Day


The water was cold, even for Kai.


Well, it was indoors, but we had ribs, corn on the cob, cole slaw, and baked beans. Yum!


My dad's birthday is this week. My wife made made the birthday cake out of Jell-O and pound cake, and topped it with home-made whipped cream and strawberries and blueberries to give it the patriotic look on Memorial Day.

Hope you had a nice holiday as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spring Planting

We went to cemetery last weekend to plant some annuals at the grave of my wife's first husband, Kai's biological father.

We have been doing this with Kai since he was quite young, perhaps since he was four years old. Back then, he never questioned anything. Of course, for a long time, he was not capable of asking questions, but even after he was, he did not seem curious about why we were there.

At that point, we had not yet explained to him his family history, and he did not seem to pick up on any clues about it. He did not question why his grandparents were Caucasian when me and my wife were Asian. And at the cemetery, he did not seem to notice that the last name on the gravestone matched that of his grandparents.

But he always enjoyed going to there to plant flowers. Any reason to play with dirt was good with him.

In the past few years, though, as we have talked to him about his family, he seems to understand why we go there. And he seems more curious, asking the kind of questions that kids ask, I guess.

"Where is he buried?"

"Who dug the hole?"

"How deep was it?"

And he was very eager to help with the planting. He dug holes, placed the small plants in, and compacted the dirt around them the way I showed him.

And though we did not talk about it, I think my wife was thinking that her late husband would be very happy that Kai was there helping to plant the flowers, and that he was growing up to be a fine boy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Outing with Friends

One of my son’s friends at school invited Kai along with a small group of kids to go to Brookfield Zoo yesterday to celebrate the boy’s birthday. The boy’s mother would be picking up each of the kids and they would drive to the zoo together.

We were thrilled that Kai was invited, but also nervous about letting him go without one of us there with him. We had never dropped him off at any birthday party, always choosing to stay with him even if the party was not far from home. This party would be long; Kai would be gone for about 5 hours including the 45-minute car ride each way. If a problem arose at the zoo, we wouldn’t be able to get there quickly.

Furthermore, Kai has not shown much interest in zoos. When Kai was much younger, we occasionally took him to Lincoln Park Zoo, located in the city. But he did not show much interest in the animals, he usually ended up upset, and we always wondered why we bothered taking him.

So it has been a long time since we went to a zoo.

After thinking about all of this, my wife reached out to the mother of the boy and told her that Kai had never been dropped off at a party before. The mother was very understanding, telling my wife that she was welcome to come with, or she and Kai could drive separately in case they needed to leave early. We wanted Kai to spend time with the other kids, so my wife accepted the offer to go along with Kai and the others in the same car.

After all that worrying, I’m happy to report that all went well yesterday. Kai and all the boys had a very nice time.

Here you see him at his favorite venue, Stingray Bay, where you can touch the rays as they swim by.

It was nice to see that he could handle such a long outing with other kids.

Maybe next time we will let him go by himself.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Happy Mother’s Day

We started out Mother’s Day with our usual weekend run first thing in the morning. Then we gave Mom our cards and a present.

After breakfast, Kai and I washed her car.

Though I think Kai soaked himself with the bucket of soapy water more than he soaked the car.

Ha, I guess he still has sensory issues. It reminded us that when Kai was much younger, we used let him rub shaving cream all over his body and he enjoyed sliding around on the floor.

After that we went out for lunch at one of our favorite hot dog/Mexican joints. Then, while Kai went to his exercise group, my wife and I took in a flea market.

For dinner, we had tentatively planned on taking Kai to his first Greek restaurant, but we were still feeling heavy from lunch so we decided to go to a Japanese restaurant instead.

Kai had his favorites – miso soup, shrimp tempura, and pieces of shrimp and octopus sushi. My wife and I each had the miso soup, gomae (spinach with sesame dressing), and sashimi plate.

When we got home, Kai whined just a bit when I asked him to play piano.

“But, Dad, it’s Mother’s Day>”

Yes, that’s right. It is not Kid’s Day, it’s Mother’s Day, so you should play extra nice for Mom.

He grumbled a bit more, but he played.

And overall he did very little grumbling.

It really was a very happy Mother’s Day.

Hope yours was nice, too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

“All About Mom”

Kai made a mother’s day card at school.

My wife thought much of the sentiments that Kai filled out were funny…

I think her favorite part is “My mom is 21 (real life 49) years old.”

Here’s the back cover of the card (Excuse the spelling error)...

Wishing all of you moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nature Center and Musical Theater

A week ago, my wife and I had gone to see my dad without Kai when Kai was with his mentor from school. Kai expressed disappointment, saying that he wanted to see Ojiichan, too. So this weekend we scheduled a visit with Kai.

There is a nature center very close to the assisted living facility where my dad now lives. Kai has been there before with his mentor, but the rest of us wanted to go see it for the first time.

My dad loves nature, and Kai is very much into anything science related, so this was a good choice for an outing.

The visitor center had a number of exhibits with skeletons, antlers, mounted animals, and other artifacts, along with a few live animals. Kai enjoyed taking us around the whole place.

Below you see him checking out one of several live snakes they had.

And here you see a kestrel, a hawk-like bird, eating a dead mouse.

It was good to find an activity to do with my dad that he and Kai both enjoy.

* * * * *

The next day, we took Kai to see a live performance of School House Rock, a musical based on the ‘70s animated television series.

When Kai was younger, he loved getting the School House Rock dvds from our library. The songs were fun and they taught children about grammar, math, science, and social studies, among other things.

It has been at least a couple of years since he’s looked at those videos, but he still wanted to go see the show.

This production was specifically aimed for kids, and its one-hour length was about right for Kai. He has sat through longer shows, but two hours is still a bit long for him.

This one featured about 15 of the best School House Rock songs including Conjunction Junction; Three Is A Magic Number; Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here; I’m Just A Bill; and my favorite, Interjections!

Kai said he enjoyed it. I did, too.

Especially appreciating that taking him to places like this is no longer the stressful event that it once was. And that is deserving of an interjection – Hooray!

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