A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Vacation’

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We were on vacay. Three days up in the seclusion of Wisconsin. We had a blast. Auntie K and Uncle J stayed with us. Fun was had by all. It was a good break. I think we are all happy to be home now, though.

Aware

When we were going through the diagnostic blur with Tate, one of the phrases that was thrown out a lot was “in his own world”. Tate spends quite a bit of time with all of us in “our” world, much more than he did when he was younger. However, he does have moments, several times a day, where he retreats. It’s sacred time for him. All of us know that he needs that alone time to process, stim, and cope with the demands from his day. Often, it is hard to tell if he has enjoyed his time with us, or if it is of no consequence to him. He hasn’t been able to really express how he feels…sometimes we can read his actions, but often, we are left wondering. But not this time…

See, this past weekend, we had four days of relative “down” time. With Independence Day on a Thursday, Hubz was home for a long weekend. Tate had minimal therapy. Jake was done with summer school, and Cole had a break from his preschool day camp. We had few plans. It was refreshing to have a break in the action. We referred to it as “vacation” all weekend. It was fun to do things as we wanted, on our own time. Tate joined in our family time, but I wasn’t sure how much of the weekend he was really absorbing, how much he was aware of the family time we were trying to foster.

As it turns out, a lot of it. He was absorbing it all. And he loved it. He enjoyed the lazy time on the futon in the basement when we watched Ghostbusters. (By the way, if you want to feel old, watch this with your kids. You have to explain card catalogs, pay phones, and television sets with knobs and dials. Also, you realize you were younger than your oldest child is when you saw it for the first time…and you want to cringe.) He liked that Hubz was home for dinner each night–grilling out, ordering pizza, getting him a hot dog with french fries. He flapped and squealed and skipped in place as he and his brothers played with the hose, the little wading pool, and the new “kid wash” Hubz constructed from an idea I found on Pinterest. (I’m the project manager…he’s my engineer!!) Tate sprayed his brothers happily, and chased them about. They included him in their plots to rule the world from the branches of our maple tree in the backyard. He led the way at the zoo, instructing us on which animals were to be seen and which he thought were stinky.

In the mornings, he and Jake crept up the stairs (we let them sleep in the basement each night), and they tried to get us out of bed bright and early. Tate loved to banter with us as we rolled over and tried to be lazy. He insisted that we get up and get going. We told him we were relaxing, since it was “vacation”. He’d squeal and giggle and skip away. Once we were up, Tate loved that we lounged about in our pj’s, ate breakfast, and played video games or watched tv. A few of the days we didn’t get dressed until after 9:00 in the morning. He got to go to the tool store, aka Home Depot, with his dad and brothers. They got to see the fans and the faucets and tools–which got their testosterone pumping.

For those four days, Tate got to feel like a typical kid during summer break. He didn’t have hours of therapy. He didn’t have to perform or do the expected things. He could just be. And every afternoon, around the same time, he’d go into the living room, script a bit, and process his day. We let him do his thing, and he’d find us once he was done. Some days took longer than others, but he did what he needed to do. Again, Hubz and I were not quite sure how much of the “vacation” he was taking in…but he was happy.

On Monday morning, Tate sat on the floor of the family room with his breakfast and Jake at his side. Jake was talking through his day–and talked about day camp. I brought Tate his clothes and asked him to get dressed because his therapist was coming at 8. He sighed. He began muttering under his breath and asked me to leave him alone. I moved to the kitchen…and when I looked to see if he was getting dressed, I noticed that he fluctuated between laughing at SpongeBob and crying a bit. I asked what was wrong, and he shooed me away. Once his therapist was here, he was fine…The crying was brief, and it didn’t happen again during the rest of the day. But ever the detective, I was trying to figure out what it meant.

This morning, as Hubz was getting ready to leave for work, Tate started to whine. A single crocodile tear slid down his cheek. He shouted, “No, Mommy!” and went into the dining room. Hubz said goodbye to Jake and Cole, who were playing BeyBlades in the family room while watching Pokemon. I nodded my head at Hubz and told him to go say goodbye to Tate. In that moment, it hit me. Tate is upset that we are back to our “usual” routine. He loved the break and is experiencing that typical vacation let-down!! He gave Hubz a hug and a “Tater” kiss, and sobbed a bit. He asked Hubz if he had to go to work. Hubz confirmed that he did. Tate asked if he could stay home. Hubz said that it wasn’t an option today. Tate’s lower lip jutted out and quivered. But he said goodbye and moved into the living room–to script and process.

I gave him his space, but inside, I was doing a victory dance. Post-vacation let down. Totally. Tate DID enjoy our weekend. He DID have a great time…even if he couldn’t express it with words, his body, his emotions, once again, did the talking. For the first time ever, I can say that Tate was blissfully aware of our “vacation”, and he really had a good time–enough so that he was upset when we had to return to our regularly scheduled programming!!!

 

In need of a vacation

We don’t get much down time these days. Every day there is something that eats up time on our calendar. School. Therapy. Sports. Scouts. Swim lessons. Grocery Shopping. Laundry. We pack a lot of doing into the 7 days each week. It’s always about this time of year that I feel incredibly burnt out. As I watch the school year dwindle down to almost nothing, and feel summer creeping into our region, I start to check out. I want a vacation!!!

I would love, love, love to go somewhere for a few days and just be. To do only what I want to do..not what I need to do. No cleaning up. No cooking. No laundry. No shuttling kids to 3 different activities.  I just want to sit and read a book uninterrupted. If a cabana boy wants to bring me a cold beverage, that would be fantastic….but I don’t want to get up from my seat. He needs to come to me.

I want to sleep in a nicely made bed that I don’t have to make when I get up in the morning. I want someone to do it for me. I want to walk down to a restaurant, point to an item and say, “I’d like to eat this, please.” I want to be waited upon. And I want to sleep. Sleep as much as I like without having someone crying for me in the middle of the night. Without having someone jabbing me with their little elbow or toes. Without someone snoring in my ear.

I’d love to waste the day away…not have anywhere to go or anyone to get ready. Just be.

That would be a dream vacation….

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…

Top 10 Things About Our Vacation to Disney World

We are back! Of course, we have been been back since the 22nd, but holiday revelry ensued. All things considered, we had a great vacation to Disney World. My top 10 faves are below, in no particular order…

10. The ability to go for a walk around our resort and seeing various wildlife creatures in plain sight. My animal obsessed loving Jake was in pure heaven. The excitement and joy he expressed verbally and not was worth every cent of the room.

9. My new best friend at the airport. We got to the airport at 5 am for our 7 am flight. Security was already getting busy. A kind/gentle/completely awesome angel saw us trying to wrangle cats kids motioned to us and had us come to the preferred line. Security took all of 10 minutes, and that included the 3 times Tate had to go back through the scanner thing because he wanted to touch the sides as he passed through. It was like a fast-pass through security!!

8. Disney World Transportation. We didn’t have to drive at all. No navigating foreign highways, streets, crazy holiday traffic, or long lines into or out of the parks. This was also worth the money we spent to stay “on property”.

7. Disney’s Guest Assistance Card. This little gem saved my family from stress, heartache, and mega-meltdowns. With the Guest Assistance Card, we could use the alternate entrances and had a shorter wait time…it was like a Fast-Pass for most rides. This was golden for Tate who cannot handle waiting for anything for any period of time. It helped immensely.

6. Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s Spectacle of Lights. Oh.My.Wow!! It was absolutely breathtaking. They had the whole backlot section of the park decorated with lights that moved to the various carols. Totally worth visiting this park to experience the magic here. My sensory-seeking Tate LOVED the flashing lights, moving pieces and music. The other 2 boys enjoyed the music and lights. Oh, and it “snows”. In 55 degree weather. In Florida. Amazing.

5. Epcot at Christmas. Especially the World Showcase. I so enjoyed seeing all of the traditions of the various countries and their Christmas/Holiday celebrations. We also had the pleasure of listening to the holiday concert. It was phenomenal.

4. Understanding characters at the character meals. I am sure that the “cast members” who embody the characters have seen it “all”. However, I must commend the ones on duty while we were there. They really seemed keyed in to the anxieties and fears that Tate exhibited when they were near. They tried to engage him, but never pushed too far. They never mocked or ridiculed him for not wanting to be a part of the photos. In the end, they were rewarded with a high-five from Tate…and heart-felt thank-you’s from 2 slightly overwhelmed and on-edge parents who were grateful for their acceptance of our family’s situation.

3. Magic Kingdom. At Christmas. I didn’t think that anyone could make this park any more magical….but they did. The lights on Cinderella’s castle made me squeal with delight…the decorations and snow on Main Street…the Christmastime Parade…the special mugs and containers…the Christmas Carols piped in throughout the park. It was uh-may-ZING!! Everyone should experience this once.

2. Mickey’s Very Christmas Party. Seriously one of the most fun nights we have ever had with the kids. The lights were fun to see. The parade was so magical. The “complimentary cookies and cocoa” were very yummy. (I use the quotes, as we had to pay extra for the party.) They also had cold apple cider, which all 3 of our boys gulped down like it was going out of style. (If you were health conscious, they also had apple slices.) To top it off, the park is only open to 20,000 people, so waits are non-existent, and we could use everything without whipping out our GAC card, which made us feel more like a “typical” family. It was just awe-inspiring that night. The fireworks freaked out Tate, who couldn’t tolerate the noise, but we just roamed the park and gave him a phone to play “Angry Birds”, and the rest of us could sneak a peek at the show going on above our heads.

1. The smiles and giggles and joy that all 3 boys had on our trip. We had such fun. The boys were all quite happy and enjoyable on the trip. Each had moments of ugly…but overall, we really enjoyed each other and our surroundings. Disney World really can be the most magical place on Earth!!

Ok, so maybe I did go in order…but we had a great trip, and we would do it again…in a few years…but this trip did give me hope for more vacations to come!

Hi ho, hi ho…

It’s off to Disney World we go!! Tomorrow is THE big day. I am so excited. Hubz and I packed and managed to get all of our stuff into 2 suitcases and 3 carry-ons! Go us!! It helps that Florida is warm and we don’t have to pack sweaters and tons of pants!

I think the boys are getting excited. Jake keeps asking about rides that he remembers from our trip in 2009. Tate smiles when we talk about it. He gets excited when he sees us get excited. Cole is pumped about Mickey. He can’t wait.

Hubz and I are taking it as it comes. We have a few reservations for character meals, and we planned our park visits around those. We are attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on Sunday. It is going to be beyond awesome. I just know it! We are thinking the pool will be a hit, too. Luckily, Florida is having a warm spell, so it should be warm enough for a dip.

Finally, we packed Tate’s diagnosis papers in our carry-on. Those puppies are coming with me to the Guest Services area so that we can get our Guest Assistance Card. I challenge anyone who questions our using that gem to stand in line with Tate for more than 5 minutes. Seriously, bring it.

I also have it in case we get any resistance at the airport. Like if he starts acting out or something. We don’t fly much at all, really, so I am not sure how it will go. We have talked about it, but we’ll see for certain tomorrow. I figure having his Dx with us at least gives us some proof of his behavior.
Finally, I ordered some of those Safety Tats that have a puzzle piece (most people recognize that as Autism),and it says that “I have Autism”, along with our cell #…God forbid Tate walks off or gets lost. Those are supposed to come in the mail today. Hope so, cuz if not, I need to put something on him so people know what they are getting into if he gets lost. Hubz didn’t really want them, but I feel better knowing it’s on our Tater.

Have a great few days! Hopefully I will come back with some good stories and memories of our Family Vacation Extravaganza 2011.

Bon Voyage!

30 More Sleeps…

Last night Hubz and I told the 3 scramps about the BIG vacation! Hope Disney World is ready for the bucket-full-of-crazy coming its way!!

Hubz and I have been planning this mousecapade since February. This vacay is NINE months in the making…and we only have 30 sleeps left until it’s time!! Eeep! (That would be my inner 8 year old piddling with excitement.)

A neighbor family just went a week ago. When my friend explained how her kids reacted, we heard about her daughter’s jumping up and down, thank yous, shrieks of excitement, and loads of questions. Hubz and I could only hope for such a reaction.

When it went down at our house, we got something a leetle different…Tate jumped out of his chair, started pacing in excitement, and shouted, “Eeeeew. Eeeeewwwwppp. Peepees!!” Trust me when I say that was a favorable reaction. Cole started to jump around, and questioned, “Clubhouse?!?” To him, Mickey is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Fair enough.

Jake, though, slumped in his chair, grumbling. Crap. I tried to play it up..
“Jake, we’re taking an airplane!”
“So?”
“We’re going to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge…you’ll see animals every day.”
“I don’t WANT to see animals!”

I mumbled to Hubz that I was so glad we spent what we did on this vacay…ugh. He said, pretty much, that Jake is going…and he’ll like it…dammit!

We talked it up to the boys…explained that they get days off from school, they get to see animals…and characters…and get to go to Mickey’s Christmas Party. There was chatting about rides, and treats, and character meals. We really tried to “sell” it.

Ultimately Jake came around, even got a tad excited about it. Hopefully we can sustain the excitement over the next month. And hopefully we can prepare the boys through pictures, social stories, planning, and books. There are lists to be made, arrangements to set up, and semi-nervous breakdowns to have.

This will either be the trip of a lifetime…or the worst idea we’ve ever had. Here’s to hoping it’s the former!!

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