A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

We decorated our house for Christmas this past weekend. A chore that was a bit stressful for me, as I wanted it to be “picture perfect”. Then I remembered that “picture perfect” our family is not. We are quirky and silly and a bit disheveled..and that’s ok. I decided to follow my kids’ lead and just have fun with it…and you know what? It ended up being the best tree ever. Tate even said so!


Tate helping with the garland


Tate and his Doc “ornament”


Cole is looking for the most breakable ornament to try to put on the tree…and take my breath away in the process


Yeah, I’ll smile…


Hubz, Jake and Tate put the garland on the tree while Cole pulls out every.single.ornament.


Tate pointing out that Jake missed a spot with the garland. He’s helpful like that.


Hubz and Tate cheese for the camera


Yes, I helped, too. I need a ladder for everything.IMG_1849IMG_1857IMG_1858IMG_1877

Tate handed me ornaments, he played his favorite Little Einsteins ornament over, and over and over, and we found a place for Doc on the tree. Finally, the tree was finished. Voila!





I feel as if Christmas snuck up on us this year. One minute we were having turkey and stuffing, and the next TBS was touting their 24-hour A CHRISTMAS STORY marathon. I bought gifts throughout the month, so I didn’t have to mad-dash at the end. Hubz wrapped the gifts on his first day of vacation while the boys were still in school. We attended several holiday-themed gatherings, and yet, it just didn’t “feel” like Christmas. But, last week, there it was…looming large.

I used to get nervous about the holiday hub-bub. I was very concerned about what others would think or say about Tate and his behaviors. I tried too often to shove him into a “typical” role of a child at Christmas. Now that we better understand Tate and his stressors, we have been able to hedge some of the anxiety and go into the holiday with realistic expectations.

Our Christmas went quite well this year. We started our celebrations last Saturday. My dad hosted the holiday, and we enjoyed a very laid back appetizer “meal”. Appetizer choices were perfect for our family. There literally was something for everyone. Our boys had to wait a while after our arrival to open presents. They handled it quite well. Luckily my dad turned one of the bedrooms into a play room, so the boys spent a nice chunk of time upstairs playing. Tate saddled up to the kitchen sink and calmed himself down with the water. He was able to let it go when his time was up, and for that, I am grateful.

My family was incredibly generous. The boys were showered with several gifts. Tate got a playdoh set from my sister, Auntie K. It is still one of his favorites. It’s the one that makes gumballs and other candy items. He got Hungry Hippos from my other sister. While he struggles to play it according to the directions, he and his brothers have gotten much use out of it in the week that we’ve owned it. My dad went overboard–as usual. The boys got tons of toys…all were on their wish lists. My dad got Tate 24 pounds of playdoh. Yes, 24 POUNDS of playdoh. I didn’t realize that playdoh could be purchased in 6-pound tubs…but it can! Cole’s preschool and Tate’s OT will be benefactors of some of said playdoh. We can’t possibly use all of that.

Jake got a Skylander Giants figure from my one sister, and a Wreck-it Ralph figure from the other. He loves both. If you’ve never heard of Skylander Giants, be grateful. A marketing genius created this game. There is a portal…and kids can collect all these super-cool figures and BE the figure in the game, as long as said figure is placed on the portal. It’s right up Jake’s alley–with the fantasy aspect, and animal-like nature of the figures…right now he wants to collect as many figures as possible. Hubz and I are just trying to get him to play the actual game once in a while before we have a small army of Skylander Giants ruling our house.

Cole got a Transformer set (bot-shots…small and perfect for 3 year olds) and some Legos. His life was complete. He carried those around as if his life depended upon it.

In all honesty, with the goodies we received from my family, our Christmas could have been complete. However, Christmas hadn’t even officially arrived, and so, the boys had many, many more treasures waiting for them. In our house, Santa brings everything. I know, I know…that kind of perpetuates the whole greedy thing with Santa…and we don’t get any credit, but oh well…that’s just how we have done it since Jake was born. All three boys still believe in Santa, and I really enjoyed our celebration this year, because I don’t know how much longer Jake will fully believe in the magic.

When the boys woke up on Christmas morning, a veritable cornucopia of presents awaited them. Each had a pile of gifts. Santa listened to our boys’ wishes. Jake got his Lego Spongebob Super hero set. And a stuffed sloth. And Angry Bird Star Wars. Tate got Doc McStuffins and Lambie. He got a Lego set with a stoplight. He got books with Max & Ruby and Team Umizoomi. Cole got the Lego Mine Set. He got some blocks. And of course, some Transformer “dudes”. Each of the boys were incredibly excited about their gifts. Tate readily opened gifts this year…and got excited about many of them.

When Tate opened the Doc and Lambie set, he was so excited and completely overcome with emotion. He had to excuse himself to the bathroom–twice–to compose himself. Once he did, he sat in a little corner in our living room behind our big overstuffed chair. He needed that alone time with his dolls to absorb the amazement and fabulousness that were Doc and Lambie. He shared his private moments and then was able to carry on with our holiday. Our other boys let him be. They knew what he needed. Hubz and I let him be. We knew what he needed. In that moment, our Christmas was complete.

Later that day we went to Hubz’s sister’s house for Hubz’s family celebration. It went amazingly well. For the first time, like, ever, Tate sat with his brothers and cousins at the kids’ table. He didn’t eat, really, but he socialized. He laughed with them. They talked, excitedly, about what presents were waiting for them later. It was terrific. We adults were able to sit and eat and talk..and now that the kids are a little older, we didn’t have to be monitoring their every.single.move.

After dinner was cleared away, we congregated for presents. Tate had some anxious energy, but he handled it relatively well. He did try to “squish” his brothers a few times…and his older cousin once, but other than that, he self-soothed. He also offered to help Hubz’s mom be “Santa”! Tate can read names…or well, he could fill in the blanks. Like, he wasn’t sure about my niece’s name, but he rationalized it out…with process of elimination. He saw a gift “To Lisa”, and handed it to me, “This is yours…mom.” I was doing the dance of joy inside.

Midway through the gifts, Tate needed a break. It was loud. There was a lot of commotion. It was not a routine day, what-so-ever. He came up to me and asked me to “sit on him”. Please be aware that I didn’t sit on my son…but he did sit behind me, and I leaned back to give him some deep pressure that he required to regulate. After the pressure, and a little bouncing to get some input, Tate was off again. He happily opened his gifts and showed them off. This was new. In big family gatherings, opening gifts has been very difficult for Tate. We were proud of his ability to stay with the group.

Our boys did very well with the rest of our family time. They said goodbyes and thank-you’s appropriately. They hugged their aunts, uncles and grandparents. They allowed themselves to be hugged and kissed. We let it be as organic as possible…with the occasional prompt to say “thank you”.

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but we have made it through. We had some ups and downs through the entire process, but we were able to make it through all of our celebrations meltdown-free. The greatest amount of progress with both of our older boys has been that they really seem to know when enough is enough…Tate has a harder time letting us know it, but thankfully we know him well enough to usually head off a meltdown before it begins.

This progress…this is the best gift I could have asked for this year. It gives me hope.

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

Alfie the Elf continues his adventures at our house. Jake and Tate love looking for him every morning. Cole causes mischief in spite of Alfie’s presence….








Oh…and on Sunday, we captured some awesome interactive play among the boys as they tried out a tabletop fooseball set I got at our holiday party.


Christmas Present


A year ago, we could have never pulled off what we did this year. A 6 day vacation followed by 3 days of holiday celebration, each with varying degrees of over-stimulation. Tate would have been writhing on the floor in tears, screaming, and throwing whatever he could get his hands on. Jake would have covered his ears and fled the scene as fast as possible. Cole would have looked around in a daze. Hubz and I would have gone between tears, frustration, anger, and exasperation. 

But this year? 2011? We.did.it. Yes we did. Thanks to a combination of maturity, therapy, and better living through chemistry, we have been able to enjoy not only a vacation to Disney World, but days of Christmas celebrations without significant tantrums! (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Was it all rainbows and puppy dogs? Oh, hell no. But, and a big BUT (and not just mine), Tate and the rest of us held it together. Hubz and I recognized the signs. We could read Tate, Jake and Cole so much better. We intervened. We removed ourselves and the kids when necessary. We didn’t worry about making a scene leaving, because really, that was better than making a scene by trying to stay put.

On the 23rd we celebrated Christmas with my family. My dad has a relatively small house, and there were 11 of us crammed in there. I give my dad props…he planned ahead and cleared out several areas to allow the kids to roam and play. He not only allowed Tate to play with the kitchen sink to calm himself, but got the stool ready for him, too. He had kid-friendly foods like french fries and chicken nuggets. The boys ate quite a bit. Ya-hoo!!! 

When Tate showed anxiety over opening gifts, we took the lead. We let him roam a bit, then coaxed him back into the room. We would start a corner or two for him, and he’d do the rest. He’d appropriately show off a gift, before retreating into the kitchen for more water play. He got a helicopter from my sister and brother-in-law, and he spent quite a while spinning the propellers on it. No one objected. No one fought over who should go with him. We all took turns. Jake and Cole got showered with attention from Hubz and me, as well as their aunts and uncles and grandpa. Everyone got to feel involved.

On Christmas Eve we were fortunate to spend most of the day at home. Our main celebration was going to be to go to Mass at 4:00. There were 3 Masses being offered. We waited as late as we could go before not getting turned away. We ended up in the school gym. Hubz and I shared trepidatious glances. Would this work? Would it bomb? We chose to sit on the bleachers, and got the end seat. Tate loved it. There was a railing he hung onto, and loved being able to see from our vantage point. There was plenty of background noise, as well as a few fans going around on the ceiling. He had built in stims ready for the next hour. He was better behaved than Cole, which was amazing. We did relent and give him a phone for Angry Birds because he started to shout out about diapers, underwear, and poop, but once he had a phone in hand, he quietly tried to “Scoop the pigs!”

We came home, had a nice dinner, watched a little tv, and put the boys to bed. Tate actually went to sleep pretty easily (better than Jake, who was bouncing-off-the-walls-excited), and we had to wake him  up at 6:45!!! We came downstairs to find that Santa had been incredibly generous. He was more than ready to open gifts with his brothers. He stimmed a bit with a stick of his, but overall, did a great job unwrapping and sharing with the family.

He got a bit anxious while we waited to go to Hubz’s sister’s house. He did some flapping and self-wedgy-ing. I tried my best to keep him calm. He handled the ride to their house just fine, and did well with the transition into their house. Everyone was there waiting for us. 

My sister-in-law had the house decorated magnificently. She is so artful when it comes to decorating for Christmas! I started to set up my appetizers, and Tate found comfort in watching the fish in our brother-in-law’s salt-water tank. While the family socialized upstairs, Tate sat there watching the fish. He eventually tried to seek the attention of Jake and our nephew, B. They came downstairs, and some wrestling ensued. But Tate was engaged. It was awesome. 

Tate didn’t want to come up for dinner, so we told him he could take his time. When he noticed that everyone was upstairs, he joined the other kids at the card table that my SIL had set up for them. He did great. He may or may not have eaten off of everyone else’s plate (oops!), but he had a little to eat, some lemonade to drink, and kept busy with Angry Birds on Hubz’s phone. It beats prior years where one of us was sitting with Tate in another room because he couldn’t handle the hustle and bustle of the  dinner action.

During gift opening, Tate did disappear a few times into my nephew’s bedroom to play with the fan. However, he did come sit next to me on the couch. Kind of on top of me…sensory seeking, and all. I got him to open his gifts by starting the corners. I did have to open a couple of them, but he did say thank you to the giver. That was a big accomplishment.

At the end of the night, he gave hugs to his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. All this from a kid who 8 months ago had no idea how to say goodbye to family. It was our little Christmas miracle.

Today we are dealing with a few arguments with Cole and Tate over a couple of gifts, but I’ll take it. As I finish this blog entry, Tate, who has emerged from his ABA session, JUST ASKED ME TO LOOK AT HIS ANGRY BIRD GAME. Oh.Em.Gee….I LOVE when he exhibits joint attention!!! LOVE IT! 

Hope this progress continues….

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