A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Family time’

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!




We may be out of our minds…

Spring Break starts tomorrow at 2:50 p.m. Nine days of a looser, more free schedule. No mad dashes in the morning. Sitting around in our pj’s until 9 or so. Less running around in the afternoons. Less shuttling kids here and there. It will be a nice break for all of us. I think.

To celebrate Spring Break, Hubz and I made the decision to go out of town this weekend. We can’t do it during the week because of Tate’s therapy schedule. So, Saturday morning we head out. All five of us will be heading to a hotel for two days of museum visits, sight-seeing, and eating out. 

In a family that struggles to cope when it comes to changes in routine and sameness, this could be interesting. I’m hopeful that this weekend serves to help our boys realize that breaks in routine can be fun. And I want to be able to introduce to them the joy of sleeping in a bed that is made for them, and living out of a suitcase, and trying a new menu item. I want them to take in the sights from a museum and explore exhibits that draw their interest…to expand their knowledge. Mostly? I just want them to have a little fun. They work so hard every day at school and at home..and I want them to have an enjoyable few days off. 

Wish us luck…

Halloween Hoe-down

Saturday afternoon we attended a Halloween party at my sister’s friend’s farm. They had plenty of activities planned, and the majority of the party sounded like it was going to be outside. Outside and not crowded. We were game!! In fact, I talked the party up so well to Tate and Cole that Jake decided that he didn’t want to go on his Haunted Hike for Cub Scouts. Hubz and Jake joined us for our Halloween Hoe-down!

We scrambled to assemble our costumes Friday night and Saturday morning. My Katniss costume came together fairly well. I had everything except a bow and arrow. Hubz decided to wear my big, fuzzy pink bathrobe with the Werewolf mask from Jake’s original costume. We had a shower cap and he became the Big Bad Wolf as Grandma. Except that his mask totally, absolutely, without-a-doubt freaked out all 3 of our children. So he pulled it up on his head…and instead looked eerily like my grandmother. Jake was Hawkeye from The Avengers. He is bummed that come Wednesday he has to leave his bow and arrow at home…but the “no weapon” rule definitely applies to his accessories. Cole was a shark. YESSSSS!!! He tried on the Spiderman costume, but it was a little big, and the built-in muscles drove him nuts. I am sooo glad that it worked out this way..and I didn’t have to do ANYTHING.

What about Tate?! Well, I’ll have you know that Tate chose a costume idea..and I made it..and he wore it. Oh yes he did. For realz! When asked by 3 different therapists last week, Tate proclaimed that he was going to be a spider. The irony, here, is outstanding. See, Tate has a love-hate relationship with arachnids. He is fascinated and repulsed by these 8 legged critters. However, that is what he said he wanted to be. I found some black fuzzy socks at Target, stuffed them with crafter’s stuffing, pinned them onto the black side of his jacket, and voila! We had a spider. He even wore his Spiderman shirt. I think we found the perfect costume for him…because he can “dress up” without really having to dress up. Oh, and watching his 4 extra pinned-on appendages?! Hil-arious!

We arrived at the party around 4:15. It truly was in.the.middle.of.nowhere. Jake didn’t believe Auntie K when she said that it was a really small town…with one stoplight. Being the suburban boys they are, our boys marveled at the real, live livestock. Mommy, they have sheep! And goats! And chickens!!! Cole was mesmerized by the tractors. That’s right…there were TWO of them. Oh, it was Hope boy heaven!!

The boys made themselves at home…took off their shoes, and bee-lined to the playroom. They were having fun, and were being appropriate, so I socialized a bit with the other party-goers that I knew. I was shocked that they didn’t know who I was dressed as for Halloween. Of course, neither of them had read nor seen The Hunger Games. Sheesh! After some small talk, we rounded up the kiddoes to go outside for a tractor ride.

It was fairly chilly. Tate’s nose began to run immediately upon entering the chilly air. It didn’t stop him, though. He played on the swingset for a bit. From there, the boys ran to join the other children at a kid-size hay maze. Tate was apprehensive about going in, but after some reassurance from Mom, Dad, and Auntie K, he ran in. I was a bit nervous..would he freak out at a dead end? Would the hay be too itchy? Would it be too dank and smelly? I waited. He popped his head up at one point, and I headed in. Hubz and my sister, K, laughed at me, as I had to crawl on my hands and knees…and not 2 moments after I entered, Tate came bounding out of there, all smiles and giggles. Joke was on me!!

After that, we climbed aboard the hay ride. My boys loved watching the tractor. Jake was the safety expert, making sure nothing came apart. (I know he was anxious about it…but he played it fairly cool. We got to go down the field to the little hill that had been scattered with pumpkins. Each of the children got to choose a pumpkin. Jake found his first…he climbed to the top of the hill to get it. Cole chose a small pumpkin near the base of the hill. Tate was a hoot to watch. He haphazardly climbed the hill, found a pumpkin, looked it over, deemed it unworthy and threw it to the side. He climbed up a bit higher and found his prized pumpkin. He handed it to Hubz for safekeeping. We boarded the ride once more, my boys choosing to sit to watch the tractor in action. From the field, we drove to the neighboring house to trick-or-treat at grandma’s. (It was really the farm owner’s grandma!) The kids got treat bags…and they were the first (yes, Tate, too) to shout, “Happy Halloween, Grandma!!!” It was awesome.

After the hay ride we went back inside the house. The house was an old-fashioned farm house. It was small-ish, but the ceilings were so high that it felt bigger than it really was. They did a chili pot luck for dinner. There were also hot dogs. Jake had made up his stubborn little mind that he was not eating dinner there. So he didn’t. Tate was not hungry, so I didn’t push it. Cole sat and socialized with the other kids, chowing down on a hot dog and chips. Then he followed his brothers into the playroom. Hubz and I ate some dinner with Auntie K, periodically checking in on the boys, who were all playing very well.

More than once there was some high-pitched whining. I would perk up, run to check, only to realize that it wasn’t Tate. It was another little boy. Each. Time. He was younger than Tate, but reminded me of him in many, many ways. First, he had ringlet curls all around his head. Oh, how I miss Tater’s curls…but he hates them, so we keep them cropped. Plus,  now they are more waves than ringlets. Second, the inappropriate playing. He didn’t play with anything as it should be…except for a slice of pretend pizza, which he latched onto and would not give up.  Third, the whining…he was dysregulated. I knew it. Hubz knew it. Auntie K knew it. The parents…well, they seemed to be in a state of denial, which we all were at one time.  The little boy didn’t talk much, and he preferred adult company to that of other children. He especially enjoyed coming over to me and my sister.

I was torn. I didn’t know whether to say anything or not. I mean, how does one tell people they don’t know that, “Oh, your son reminds me so much of my son. Especially his behaviors. He gets dysregulated, too. He also prefers adults. He also struggles socially.” The parents just kept insisting that their son was shy…and maybe that was it…but, well, yeah. I never quite know whether I should throw out the big “A” or not in these circumstances. I mean, maybe it was just an off night…except that it seemed like it wasn’t. It seemed like this was fairly common. Especially so because his older brother said, “Ugh…he’s doing it again.” I have heard that phrase before…

Anyway, we were all getting tired, so we decided to pack it up. The boys helped pick up the toys in the play room. Then we thanked the hosts and headed home. No tears. No tantrums. No stress. It was a good night–especially when each of the boys exclaimed that they loved the Pumpkins! Tractor! Hay ride! Candy!

Nights like Saturday remind me of where we were only a few short years ago…and how far we’ve come. Nights like Saturday give me hope that it will continue to get easier…and that we’ll continue to be able to participate in activities like typical families do. As long as we go at our own pace and do it in our way, we will get there!!

Is this what “normal” feels like?

Last Thursday was Jake’s birthday. He had a terrific day. We got him some Beyblades and a couple of books. I sent out the invitations to his birthday party in a few weeks, too. That night, we had cupcakes and cookies from our village’s old school bakery. We had planned on going to see Hotel Transylvania with the family on Friday afternoon. Things were looking good.

Friday morning dawned chilly, but clear. Hubz had gotten up at 4:30 (yes, you read that correctly) with Tate and Jake. They were hanging out in the basement. Hubz took them to get coffee, donuts and bagels from Dunkin. Oh, how I love that man. Anywho, Jake had his psychiatrist visit that morning bright and early. We had to discuss the meds and how they were working. I waited for my boys to get home from the “bagel store”.

Hubz came in, handed me a delicious pumpkin coffee, and a bagel. He looked a little frazzled. Jake started rambling about the fact that he didn’t want to go see the movie. Here we go again… Hubz told him to relax and to eat his breakfast. We ate, and then Jake and I were on our way. Jake was playing the new Bad Piggies game from the makers of Angry Birds in the backseat. Quite suddenly, he threw my phone up to the front and said he felt sick. I asked if I needed to pull over. He said no. I asked what the problem was, and he started to ramble about the movie. I told him if it was making him sick with anxiety, it wasn’t worth it, and we’d figure out another family activity.

Jake was quite well behaved at our visit. He told the doctor that the meds were making his brain, “not so crazy”. He said they helped him “do stuff right at school”. The doctor asked Jake if he felt more focused, and he said he did. He could “listen better”. I talked to the doctor about the fact that the meds seem to wear off by 5. I noticed that Jake struggled the prior week in religious ed, which goes until 5:30. He wrote a script for a booster, and we’re going to see if that helps on Mondays. See, Mondays are insanely busy for Jake. He has school, then religious ed, and finally social group. Eeek!

Jake mentioned to the doctor that he didn’t want to go see Hotel Transylvania. The doctor asked him why. Jake said it was too loud and made his ears hurt. He suggested ear plugs, but Jake shook his head “no”. I told the doctor that he often gets panicky before a movie, but eventually is fine. The doctor asked Jake if there were any other reasons, but Jake said no. It was clear that he didn’t want to discuss it anymore, though.

Once home, Hubz and I asked Jake what he really wanted to do to celebrate his birthday. Jake asked if we could go bowling. Bowling?! Ermmmmm…..well, we certainly could try it. I was nervous about Tate. How would he handle the noise, the crashing, the whirring, the smells. Hubz said we could always leave if it became too much. With that, we decided to go bowling. Hubz found a “deal” that allowed us to bowl for 2 hours, and each person got shoes, a drink and fries for a reasonable amount of money.

We headed to the bowling alley around 2:45. Jake was almost jumping out of his skin out of excitement. Tate was feeding off of the excitement..he couldn’t wait to go bowling with Jake. He was scripting one of his Max & Ruby scripts. It’s one he does when he’s very happy. Cole is up for any game that involves a ball, so he chatted happily in the backseat with his brothers.

We set up our family on lane 10. Jake input our names into the computer to keep score. He was a pro, you know, because he had gone bowling at that alley back in the summer with his camp. I mentioned that “back in the day” we had to use paper and pencils and DO MATH to keep score. Jake looked at me like I had 3 heads. Then, I was impressed…all 3 boys were willing to put on the bowling shoes. We did that with little fan fare. Choosing a ball, however, was a little more, um, crazy. Our 3 boys ran up and down the bowling alley hooting and hollering. Tate wanted a red ball, Cole a green one, and Jake a blue. We were able to fulfill Tate and Jake’s requests, but Cole had to settle for a reddish-orange ball.

Our bowling alley was quite impressive. We could input on the computer which players needed “bumpers” and they automatically rose up and came down for those of us who didn’t need them. We started to play. The kids had a blast..although, I thought FOR SURE that Tate was going to pull a cartoon drop-thud-crash-hole-in-the-floor. Goodness, that child doesn’t know his own strength!! Luckily, we requested a ball roller, and the boys could roll the ball down the ramp-thing. They  had a great time taking turns, cheering each other on, and choosing which ball to roll down the alley.

Our first game went fast. Jake got 2 strikes and a spare, and ended up with a score of 99. Tate and Cole did well, ending up in the 50’s. Hubz and I did not use bumpers or the ball roller. I got 117. Hubz got a 45. (Insert giggle.) Our next game seemed to take longer. I am not sure if it was due to our snacking or chasing Cole as he bolted for the vending machine, or what, but we really dragged that one out. We had fun, and no one was grumbling, it just took longer. The kids were getting tired. We had about 20 minutes left of bowling. We played about 4 frames of a third game, by which it was quite obvious that all of us, except Hubz, were done. Hubz was on a roll, getting 2 strikes and a spare. I was the gutterball girl that game. Yeesh. Jake was doing the bowling for himself and his brothers. But we ended on a pleasant note.

Of course, the bowling alley had an arcade-type set-up, too. We spent $5 and let the boys play a few games. The racked up enough tickets to earn Jake 2 plastic whales and 3 tootsie rolls. He shared the tootsie rolls, but wasn’t so keen on sharing those whales! After we were done there, we made our way to Red Robin for dinner. All they had was a booth, but luckily the booth offered a view of TWO ceiling fans. Tate was in heaven. The boys ate quite well. Hubz and I were able to eat our own dinners while they were still warm. I know!!! Crazy, right?!

We wrapped up our meal, and made our way outside. Once we had all 3 boys strapped into the van, we sat down and sighed. Hubz turned to me and said, “All in all, that was quite an enjoyable afternoon!” I agreed. It really had been a terrific family outing. Hubz and I caught each other’s eyes and he said, “So, is this what normal feels like?!” I have to say, that yes, that our afternoon was as close to “typical” as we get.

Our boys were all regulated, jovial, and in great spirits on Friday while we were out and about. We didn’t have any meltdowns or problems. No one struggled with sensory issues or participation in the activities. However, once we got home, we had a little whining and writhing on the floor. Tate chewed on a playdoh toy so hard that he broke it, and Cole threw a tantrum because Jake wouldn’t share his Beyblades. Jake had a meltdown because his brothers were following him around. So, yeah, it kind of fell apart later…but for those few hours, our family was able to enjoy time together and truly enjoy EACH OTHER. And I’d say that’s a victory…and gives me hope for some outings in our future.

Superior Summer Plans?

Yesterday I was sitting at our YMCA, aka “The Y”, and was watching Jake during swimming lessons. Tate was with me, playing a game on my phone. Cole was in the childcare room.

To back-track, Jake does swimming lessons not so much because he can’t swim (he is quite a fish, actually), but because it helps him organize and gain coordination and confidence. He loves being in the water.

Ok, back to my story….we were sitting there and two other women sat next to us. They have kids around the same age as mine. The one has a son who is on Jake’s lacrosse team. The other has a son and a daughter right in the age range of my older 2 boys. We said polite hello’s and went about our own activities.

As I sat and played word games with Tate, which work on his speech/language skills, these other 2 women talked about their plans for the summer. They were like 2 teenagers, who talked just loud enough that the rest of us could hear all about how fantastic they are. You know what I mean…. I have to say, must be nice to have ridiculous money.

(I am paraphrasing what I heard. Some words may be different…but you get the gist.)

Mom A: So, we’re going to our beach house for a month. Then, we have a week here, then we go with our friends from (nearby affluent town) to their house for a week. I am putting the kids in day camp here at the Y for a week, because I have stuff to get done. And then it’s time for football training. (FYI, football is HUGE around here.)

Mom B: Wow! You’re busy. We’re going to Traverse City (MI), and we’re doing a long weekend in California. The kids can’t wait to go swimming…they are in the water for 8 hours a day, I swear. We’ll hit the shops, and can’t wait to go to all of the cute local restaurants…sit out on the patios, drinking my wine…this one place has an area where the kids go play. It’s fantastic. We’re opening our pool this weekend, too….

Mom A: Oh, sounds great. Have you got your bathing suit yet?

Mom B: Ugghhh, yes. I need to lose some weight.

Mom A: oh, you look great!

Mom B: Oh, thanks. Hey, we should have you guys on the boat before you leave! The kids can play on the beach, we can have our wine…Husband can grill out. It will be great!

Mom A: Yes! We must do that! I could have my friend cater it, if you want–she’s like Martha Stewart!

They then proceeded to talk about needing massages and mani-pedi’s and favorite stylists at the local spa. Mom A dropped the name of a few boutiques. Mom B complained about her tailor. Mom A made a joke about needing a job to fund her fun stuff. Mom B said that she thought about it, but it just isn’t worth it because it would bump them into the next tax bracket, and ugh who wants that?!

I was about to roll my eyes so hard that it would have been heard, but I used restraint. I just exhaled deeply.

I wasn’t jealous of the other women….I was just amazed by their behavior during their conversation. Like they had to prove to each other how awesome they were. Or to the rest of us. All I was worried about was making sure that my kid didn’t start his potty-talk echolalia in super-loud volume….I am in such a different place than those women.

Would I love to have a summer house or rent a place for a couple of weeks?? Sure…but I just have other priorities right now. Our fabulous summer plans include therapy and summer school and daycamp. And time at the local beach, spraypark, neighborhood park, the zoo, and our own backyard. We will roast marshmallows, and grill out. We’ll get ice-cream, and go for walks around the block while we lick popsicles and allow the juice to dribble down our chins. We’ll have sleepovers in the basement and scooter races in the driveway. It isn’t expensive or glamorous…but it will be fun.

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