A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Summer fun’

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

We went to the zoo with my dad, sister and nephew last week to stave off boredom. It was exhausting, but the kids had fun…once the rain stopped.

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My 3 kiddos checking out the polar bears. Yes, Tate has a Doc McStuffins umbrella. Yes, I know it's pink.

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Trying to stay dry in the indoor exhibits while storms raged outside. It was as much fun as you think it was.

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I took this pic so I could use the camel's shtick in the Geico commercial. Guess what day it is???

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed as I rolled out of bed at 6:45. Tate’s therapist cancelled her morning session. I decided to do my workout that morning, before his other therapist came at noon. At 8:05, I had another text. The afternoon therapist was cancelling. What the *bleep* was I going to do with my three children ALL.DAY.LONG. A day without therapy. A day out of routine. A day without therapy, out of routine, and less than 2 weeks to go until school. It was a recipe for chaos, or well, more chaos than usual.

I took out my frustration as I followed Jillian Michaels on the TV. I had an audience of three. It was great. And by great, I mean, not. Jake would occasionally do one of the exercises and tell me how easy it was. Why are you sweating so much, Mom?! Tate kept trying to do planks right next to me..and each time, he cracked heads with me. Cole just tried to jump over me as I did plank moves. I was his human hurdle. Yeah.

As I cooled down after the workout, my phone rang. It was my friend, Em. I hadn’t heard from her in ages..and ironically, was thinking of checking in to see how they were doing. She asked if we had plans for the day. For once, we did not. She invited me and my chaos to join her and her chaos at a forest preserve not far from where we live. It was a gorgeous day, so I figured, why the heck not. At the very least, we could get some of our the boys’ energy out while at the park portion of the forest preserve.

Before the park, I had to stop at the boys’ elementary school. I had to reserve the school gym for Cub Scout Pack meetings for Hubz. We had to wait a while before I could talk to the admin. I was so proud of my boys. While they act like wild savages at home, they all sat down in the school office, grabbed some of the books, and began to read. Even Tate was reading a book. I thanked the Lord above for their amazeballs behavior during that half hour stint in the sticky, somewhat stale-smelling office.

After that excursion, we drove the half hour to the forest preserve. I am ashamed to admit that after living in this county for 13 years, I had never been to this particular location. We will definitely be going back. The boys had so much fun at the park, and there were so many more activities that they’ll enjoy–fishing, boating, walking trails, and a bike path. And it is fun that is NOT in front of the TV or computer.

Everyone had a buddy as we walked from the parking lot to the park. As we approached the park gate, Em and I unleashed our children in the park. It was very obvious which of the 7 children were special needs. Em’s oldest and her friend, as well as Cole, just went. They approached the various apparatus with gusto. They tried everything out that they knew they could handle. Jake, always filled with a little trepidation, tried things very slowly. The rock wall was almost a downfall for him–he was almost paralyzed with frustration, until I pointed out that he had scaled a much higher rock wall all the way to the top at Cub Scout camp. With that, he was up and over the wall. Tate and Em’s son were stimming. As Tate had to wait his turn, he flapped. Em’s son did a little stomp. Both were looking for sensory input from their siblings. Em’s middle daughter walked to and fro. She’s non-verbal and is starting to communicate with devices and gestures. She had to be prompted on the equipment. However, there was no mistaking the joy that each child felt. It’s just that, like with everything else in life, our kiddos were enjoying the park at their own pace.

Unlike the other moms with children our children’s ages, Em and I were on the playground the entire time. We were observing, we were coaching, we were hyper-alert.To say that the park wasn’t stressful would be a lie. But it was enjoyable. Quite enjoyable. Watching the smiles, hearing the squeals of joy, seeing the kids all interact. That was completely worth it.

After about 2 hours Tate was done. D.O.N.E., done. So was Em’s son. We chuckled at the fact that our sons were on the same wavelength–as always. Tate was able to tell me with words that he was finished and wanted to go home. Em’s son started to melt a bit…but was able to tell her “all done”. Both of us knew how huge these occurrences were for each other’s child. We said our goodbyes over the whining and pleading boys, and promised to carve out a coffee date once the kiddos were back in school.

So, even though there were some tough parts about going to the park, it was surprisingly easier than I had expected…because I was there with someone who lives this. Who didn’t need an explanation. Who doesn’t feel sorry for me or my kids. Who just totally gets when something goes from absolute fun to meltdown city in the blink of an eye. And there’s a lot of comfort in that. Yesterday was a walk in the park…kind of. And we did enjoy it.

Stimerific

Summer, for our boys, is winding down. We have three weeks left of our “carefree” days and relaxed schedule. Well, considering our family, we have about week left of that. It takes about two weeks to re-establish school year routines and such.

I have noticed that as our summer has gone on, and as ESY has ended and therapists are off for their vacations, Tate has become more and more stimerific. He’s flapping a lot more. He’s doing his little dance more. He’s pacing in front of the TV as old favorites like Max and Ruby or Octonauts play. He’s squeaking and watching fan videos, and has even returned to watching his beloved Wow!Wow!Wubbzy videos on Youtube. I am not complaining, because, well, as he stims, he is keeping himself calm. He is not melting down. He is not regressing (too much) in terms of other areas like speech or motor skills. He’s trying to find his happy place.

Today Tate spent about a half an hour outside playing with the hose. Watching him with water is mesmerizing. He has a definite pattern of how he plays. He starts in the corner by our chimnea. He flushes it out and watches as water streams through the grates. Then he sprays down my plants. (Sadly, my jalepeno plant was a casualty, but we’ll live.) After those are sufficiently moistened, he walks over to the edge of the patio by the family room sliding doors. He has a piece of firewood that he pulled out of our pile. It has a hole. He has eroded a bigger hole as he forces water into it at full blast. Once that is accomplished, he waltzes over to the center of the patio, and acts like a sprinkler. He twists and turns and sprays down almost everything in his path. Today he was whipping the hose like he was Indiana Jones. I was amused. He was incredibly happy. Squealing and scripting to his heart’s content.

As I type, he and Cole have pulled the cushions off of the couch in the tv room. Cole is trying to play hot lava with him. Tate would rather jump on my poor cushions and flap as he does so. The movement is soothing. It keeps him grounded. Cole is a bit frustrated…but he’s handling it quite well.

My stimerific kiddo is finding his way right now. He’s really trying to hang in there until our schedule gets back to a more predictable pace. I hope that we can keep the stims going until then. Only 25 more days. (Now I must go make sure no one breaks his neck while avoiding the hot lava…or doing a jumpy stim….)

Few Words Wednesday

Tate’s therapist had to cancel his session today due to a team meeting for another client. I’m a bit irked by that, but that’s a long story for another day.

Today is hot and humid. Tate asked to play with the hose. Why not??

Gotta love summer.

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Summer Break 2012-Phase II

Today we started our second phase of Summer Break. I spent the weekend preparing the boys for their schedule changes. I showed them the calendar. I explained who was going where and doing what. Jake seemed relatively comfortable with the start of day camp–it is his third year. Cole is fighting potty training. Tate’s anxiety levels sky-rocketed as he was able to see the changes on our calendar.

Our preparations for Jake went well. I told him that he will have four weeks of day camp. It’s the same park district day camp that he has attended the past two summers. I explained that he’ll have a few of the same counselors. I threw around a few names of children from his school, who he’d know. I said he’d go from 9-3, M-F..kind of just like “regular” school. I reminded him of the crafts (he loves the artsy stuff), the games (not such a fan), and the beach and park (he got his own swim gear ready!). This morning he was set. He slept like a rock.

Tate is done with day camp. He is back to 5 days a week of therapy. I was able to set up a definite play date for Tuesday, with a possible second one for Thursday. I talked about the boy coming to play on Tuesday. Tate politely said, “No thank you. No play with her.” (We’re still working on those pesky pronouns.) I tried to convince him that it would be fun, and that his therapist would be there to help. He shrugged it off, preferring to play with his Nintendo DS instead. He was a little more fidgety last night. He fell asleep relatively quickly, but was up at 2:30 and up on and off after that. Anxiety. Loads of it. Just because of some “small-ish” changes to his routine. Of course, to Tate, no change to routine is “small-ish”.

Cole is working on potty training. Or, well, we’re trying. I hate potty training. I think I’m scarred after the whole experience with Tate. He was difficult to train. But we got there. Cole has the sensations down, he just prefers to not be bothered by those pesky inconvenient trips to the bathroom. Sigh. He also slept quite well, but let’s be honest, his routine really isn’t changing much at all.

As I prepared the essentials for Jake’s camp experience, I tried very carefully to make sure that all of his belongings were age appropriate. I know I tend to give him some of his little brothers’ water bottles or beach towels at home, but with a bunch of kids who are his age, I don’t want him to feel any more awkward than he already does. The only issue boiled down to the beach towel. I gave him his one from the past 2 summers–a royal blue towel with a shark embroidered on it. He wanted a plain brown bath towel, but the blue shark one is already labeled..and is made for the beach. I hope that he doesn’t get grief for it. If so, I’m going to feel awful. I just found a non-kiddie towel that is also labeled, so we’ll go with that one from now on.

When I signed Jake into camp this morning, his favorite female counselor from last year greeted him with a big smile. She said she was so excited to see his name on her roster again! I started to relax. Jake started to relax when 2 boys from his school shouted his name and waved. He was a little hesitant to join them, but he did. He may be alright. I perused the group he’s with this year. I recognized several of the names. There are several more boys than girls on the list. That is a bit of a change, but for Jake, it’s probably a good one. He needs to hang out with boys his age, who are typical. It’s good for him. I hope he plays with them, since he should know/recognize so many of them.

Tate willingly joined his therapist when she arrived today. They got to play a game up in the living room, and they also had a bit of fun playing outside on the playset. Tate was angling for the park, but there is some direction that the park should only be used for play dates with peers right now. He isn’t fighting his therapist today, and seems to be handling the transitions she is making well.

Cole refused to wear underwear this morning. Because we had to leave the house, I put him in a pull up. Not the best, but not the worst. There have been no accidents on the floor, and he went on the potty when I put him there, but he hasn’t asked me to go, either. We’ll see how the day plays out for us.

I have hope that this next phase of Summer Break will go relatively well. For all of us, I pray there are no major bumps and hiccups.

Thursday Fun

Remember those cupcakes I wrote about yesterday? The ones with an unholy shade of blue frosting?

I let Tate & Cole have them as a treat today after lunch.

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An hour after these photos were taken, I put Cole down for a nap. His lips and fingers were still blue. Well, more of a teal. Talk about a bad dye-job!

P.S. They loved every moment of those cupcakes…right up until Mom was ultimate sugar-buzz kill and made them stop finger-painting the coffee table with day-glo blue frosting!

Just a little trip to the store

Yesterday I took all 3 boys to the grocery store with me. This is not my favorite activity, but sometimes it just has to be done.

As we piled out of the van, Tate informed us that we needed a cart. He wanted to get said cart before I even had Cole out of his car seat. I was able to intercept him before he wandered through empty parking spaces in the somewhat deserted parking lot. To do that, I had to carry Cole like a football…a very long and flailing football that weighs about 30 pounds. Jake sat back and watched, snickering the entire time. Ah, tween-dom is looming large.

I managed to wrangle my herd children into the store. Tate chose his cart. As I put him in, Cole had his chance to dart…and dart he did. Right for the huge s’more display. He grabbed a bag of marshmallows and proceeded to beg like he was a starving child. He wasn’t going to win that one. I wrestled the bag away, informing him that we had no need for marshmallows as big as my fist. (Seriously, and we wonder why America has an obesity problem.) I plopped him right on top of Tate in the cart. I let them figure out their sitting arrangements.

I needed a few things. Mostaccoli noodles, french bread, and some fruit. Somehow, I ended up with about $25 worth of extra items like cupcakes with an unnatural blue-hue of frosting, a quart of low-fat chocolate milk, and two different kinds of cheese from the deli. (I may have also bought some candy at checkout just to get them to shut up a bit….)

While we went down the aisle that contained the pasta, Tate was doing his best impression of a fire siren. It was some sort of vocal stim, and it had a hairs-raising-on-the-back-of-my-neck effect. I think it had the same effect on other people, as we got a few good stares. One woman just smiled kindly and nodded her head. Later, as Cole tried to escape from the cart, head first, this same woman giggled to herself and moved on.

We moved on to the deli after that. Tate gets very anxious at the deli, because he knows precisely which cheese we must buy, and can’t stand having to wait in line.  We buy “square” cheese first. (As opposed to the octagonal cheese????) Anywho, I got a half pound of American and a quarter pound of extra-sharp cheddar (which is rectangle cheese, if you must know). Every time Tate comes to the store with me, we have to buy these 2 cheeses….because that is what we did the first time I took him by himself…and so it shall be forever, I suppose. (Or well, until he gets over that particular routine.)

We got our cheese, and started to move towards the bakery. I took a pause as I refereed between Tate and Cole, who were near blows over the “square” cheese. Jake ran up to me, letting me know that the soup pots are, indeed, hot and “burn-y”. He was shaking his hand, and told me he touched it. Ah, well, at least he learned. At this time, an older woman looked at me wide-eyed. When she got my attention she asked, “Are they all yours?” I clarified that she meant my 3 boys. She nodded. I told her yes, they were all mine. “Oh, my. You have a lot going on there.”  I nodded politely, while thinking, oh, honey, you have nooooo idea.

We made it to the bakery. I chose some bread for our dinner, and started towards the produce. That’s when Tate became enamored with 3 Angry Birds balloons. Oh boy. I will give the kid credit. He informed me that there were 3 balloons and 3 boys. So each could have his own. Ha!! I explained that I wasn’t buying the $10 (EACH) balloons. He got a little pouty, but then countered with the cupcakes. Those were $2.50. I called it a deal and we were done.

As we chose some fruit, Tate found the scale.

Mom, mom!!?!

Yes?

Look at this here. Look at this machine. It’s so cool.

That’s called a scale, Tate. It tells you how much something weighs.

It’s shiny.

Yes, yes it is.

I like it. (As he’s pressing down on it, watching the little marker spin all around.)

I can see that. Time to go.

(During this exchange, a mom and her daughter were watching us. The daughter proclaimed that Tate was adorable. The mom agreed.)

We finally made it to check out. I bargained with the 3 boys that if they sat quietly on the bench, I would buy them all a treat for after dinner. They rapidly threw candy at me and made a beeline for the bench. Whew! The woman behind me asked if the boys were all about 3 years apart. They are. She smiled and said she had 3 boys, and they were all 3 years apart…and that watching my boys brought back some memories. She said that now her sons are 23, 20, and 17. She tried to assure me that it gets easier…and harder. I thanked her, collected my children, and we headed for the van.

With three young boys, no trip to the store is “little’. It’s usually a survival of the fittest competition. Luckily, I met that head-on yesterday. Mission accomplished…even if I did get a few extraneous items…which were, by the way, totally worth it!

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