life on the "j" train

Taking a "busy working mom with 2 special needs kids" life one moment at a time

Early Start September 26, 2016

It’s not October yet – Fall officially began only 3 days ago – But we’ve already gotten our fall fun underway.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to hold onto the summer for as long as possible.  I do.  However, when you find good deals on Groupon you go with it.  Plus, there weren’t a lot of crowds and I get to post my pictures before everyone gets tired of seeing pumpkins all up and down their timeline.

We made a very beautiful drive out to the Shenandoah Valley this past Saturday and spent the day at a farm.

The farm was set up with a lot of different areas where kids can have fun.  Once inside, you roam around and enjoy each thing at your own pace.

 

There are no pictures of the first stops we made.  Jay ventured to the petting zoo area with Shaunie while Ace and I went straight to a giant air pillow that you could jump on like a trampoline.  It was pretty cool.

 

Following those things, the boys decided to try their hand at roping a cow.  It didn’t go well.  I mean, it well well for me because I got a good laugh but it didn’t go well for the kids who really wanted to get the rope around the cows neck.

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They had a little section with sand for digging and playing and also a couple of farm vehicles to climb into and pretend drive.  They had a tether ball pole and “pumpkin tic-tac-toe” and corn hole type games.  The boys didn’t spend much time there.  I did take a minute to pose for a picture or 2.

 

(My hair looks crazy becasue it was windy.  Not because I have unruly hair – Which I kinda do but that’s besides the point.)

 

Those were taken after I decided to sit ON instead of walking ACROSS the tires.  They were not as sturdy as they looked.  If you think that means I nearly fell off and embarrassed myself you’d be absolutely correct.  The following is me laughing at myself following the near fall and sighing relief.

 

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OK so after my foolishness it was Hay Ride Time!

Who doesn’t love a good hay ride?  And a scavenger hunt one at that.  We had a list of things to spot as we made our way around the farm.  All the kids that were on our ride worked together to find and then announce the items.  Jay didn’t want to take any Hay Ride pictures.  He was too concerned with us sitting carefully and not being silly while we were moving.

 

 

Up next was some see-sawing … Which I hadn’t done in years and some spinning in a barn tunnel thing.  I have video of us spinning in the “Twister-Barn” but it also shows other peoples kids so I’d rather not put it here.  Just imagine pushing that black part around and around like a hamster wheel and then falling once you got too close to being upside down.  The kids had a blast in there tumbling all over each other.

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Ace shot small pumpkins out of a cannon blaster and Jay went down a Mega Slide.

Both boys jumped into a corn pit which works just like a ball pit.  They had a lot more fun in there than I would have expected.  They did cannon balls off hay stacks and made corn angels and rained corn kernels on each others heads.

 

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Wait a second … I forgot to tell you that we did a corn maze.  I’m not typically a fan of mazes.  I get nervous.  This place had an easy one and a hard one.  Guess which one we did?  They apparently do a haunted maze in October.  Yeah NO!  I have no interest thank you very much.

 

(Inside the maze)

 

OK … Where were we?  Pumpkin Blaster, Mega Slide, Corn Pit.

Also, there were pig races and pumpkin smashing.  Ace got selected to help open the gate for the pig race and they were up front and center for the pumpkin smash so of course they got pumpkin juice all over them.  Fun stuff!

While all that was going on, we were taking selfies.

 

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Before we moved on to the next thing I tried to get a good picture of the boys together.  This is what I got.  I know it could be worse but Jays’ face isn’t exactly what I was hoping for.  A Mama can try though can’t she?

 

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What we thought was gonna be the last thing was picking a pumpkin.  There was much debate over what size pumpkin we were going to get and how many of them.  Shaunie and I were on Team ONE, NOT TOO BIG, ONE and Ace and Jay were on Team GET WHATEVER YOU WANT AND HOWEVER MANY YOU WANT.

We compromised and got one regular sized one (for Jack-0-Lantern making) and each kid also got one personal sized one.  I have no idea what they are going to do with the little ones but for $0.84 it was worth it to make them happy.

 

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By the time we had done all that – We were hungry.  We decided to head out and hit up a Chick-Fil-A.

We found snacks in the car though so we delayed our Chick-Fil-A stop and did some apple picking.  Why not?  Most of us had fun with it.  We ate a few apples while roaming around the orchard and checked out the cows in the nearby pasture.

“Someone” … (Not me or Ace or Jay) … spotted a dead possum in the grass and got a little freaked out and tried to pick the rest of her apples from INSIDE the car.  It didn’t work out so well but makes for a funny story.

 

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Overall, we had a really good day.  It never gets old having wholesome family fun with the people I love.

Happy Fall To All.

 

Science And Music? What? September 21, 2016

Sitting around the corner and listening to Jay study science with *Shaunie.
He’s learning it folks. About condensing, melting, freezing, the physical properties of matter, atoms, molecules etc.
He’s learning science!!!! At grade level. It’s not easy for him but he’s trying so hard.
He may not get an A on his test but he’s really learning and I couldn’t be more proud.
I made the mistake of thinking back on when I never in my wildest dreams could have ever imagined this. I couldn’t have imagined anything even close to this.
I don’t have the words to explain this feeling.
Too emotional.

 

 

That was my Facebook status the other day.  Our beloved Nanas commented that she always knew he’d get here.  I can’t say the same thing.  I always had high hopes for him.  Of course.  But I’d be lying if I said I always knew my son would be in a general education classroom studying the physical attributes of different kinds of matter.  I dared not assume that he’d ever be able to answer the question “What is an atom?”  Yet, that’s exactly what was happening.  

I had to dry my tears when I heard Jay get up and I realized he was making his way to where I was perched on the stairs.  

Later in the evening, I lay on the couch with him for a few minutes.

I wished him luck on his upcoming test and asked him if he liked science.  He said yes.  I asked him about math and reading.  He said they were OK but math is hard.  He said he prefers science to both math and reading.  I asked him what he thinks about his art class.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that he LOVES art.  

Lastly I asked him about music class to which he said “It’s loud in there and makes my ears hurt.”  

Jay doesn’t have a lot of sensory issues.  If he did have one though it would be related to sounds.  He’s not a fan of out-of-tune singing for example.  I asked him if he’d like me to talk to his teacher about music class.  I told him it was possible for him to do something else instead.  I thought for sure he’d take me up on that offer but instead he mulled it over for a minute and then said “No.  I will stay.  I think I can handle it.”  

These types of back and forth conversations will never NOT be a miracle to me.  

I am blown away by this child.  

 

September 4 years ago, I published posts where the big news was that Jay sat and listened to his first story.  I published posts where Jay was getting kicked out of 2 different social skills classes.  He wasn’t yet reading.  Heck, he wasn’t yet speaking in sentences.  Not even 2 or 3 word ones.  He definitely wasn’t able to take any kind of standardized test at school.  He was in an autism class where they were just trying to get through the day without anyone getting yogurt dumped on their head.  

Before bed last night, I hugged him tight and told him how amazing I think he is and how brave I think he is.  He shrugged me off.  He doesn’t get it.  To him, I’m just a Mom being mushy and weird.  That’s alright.  He doesn’t have to get it.  

 

To all the families who are currently where we were 4 years ago … I know it’s rough.  I know everything seems impossible or implausible.  I know all you want is for your child to say your name.  You don’t even know what your baby’s voice sounds like.  How can you think about science or music class?  Your brain is full – And tired.  I know you want one night of uninterrupted sleep.  You’d do anything to be done with diapers – After all your baby is now 5 or 6 or 10.  If you could just get them to eat 1 new thing you’d be happy.  You’re not asking for much.  It doesn’t have to be cauliflower.  You just cannot make ONE MORE grilled cheese sandwich.  But you will.  Cause that’s all your kid eats.  You don’t want to hear other people telling you to stay hopeful.  You sure don’t want to hear about how their child is also a picky eater.  You don’t want to hear about the things you should be doing or what worked for their neighbours kid.  You don’t feel like you are doing anything right.  You don’t want to fight with schools or insurance companies anymore.  You just want things to be easier.

My God, I get it.  

But hang in there.  It may not happen at the same rate as my son or anyone elses son.  That doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that you don’t give up.  Keep looking.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Keep talking.  There’s no magic pill or therapy or device.  It’s HARD.  It’s ok to cry.  But just keep keeping on.  

ASSUME THAT YOUR CHILD CAN LEARN.  ASSUME THAT THEY ARE HEARING EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND ARE AWARE OF EVERYTHING YOU DO.  ASSUME THAT THEY ARE BRIGHT AND CAPABLE.  

 

The reward just might be your kid acting like it’s no big deal that they know what the volume of a mass is because in their own matter of fact way they will say “Yeah, I’m smart“.   

 

Let’s Talk About Drugs and Alcohol September 20, 2016

 

Jay:  Hey Mom, do you know what you’re supposed to say if someone asks you to smoke?”

 

Me:  What do you say?

 

Jay:  You say no thank you.

 

Me:  Exactly.  That’s perfect.  But what if they say, “Come on, just this one time.  We’re all doing it.

 

Ace *Jumping in on the convo*:  Nope.  It’s not good for you.

 

Me *Switching to role playing mode*:  We just have one and we’re going to share it.  Just take one pull.

 

Ace:  No way.  It will make you sick.

 

Jay:  Yeah, and I don’t want to get sick.

 

Me:  Wanna try this instead?  It’s not a bad drug.  It’s just weed.  It’s natural.  It’s a plant and my friend grew it.

 

Ace:  No thank you.  It will mess me up. 

 

Me:  Ok fine but here’s a can of beer just take a sip of that.

 

Ace:  That’s for adults.  It will make kids sick.

 

Me:  One sip won’t make you sick. *Takes a sip of juice*.  Look.  It doesn’t do anything.

 

Ace:  That’s alright.  It may not make me sick now but it will make me sick later.

 

Jay:  That’s not for kids.  That’s for adults.

 

Ace:  Yes and a doctor didn’t say you could have it.

 

Shaunie:  Well, what if someone offers you a pill?  One that they got from a doctor.

 

Ace:  I’ll say oh no.  That’s not meant for me.  You can only take what’s meant for you.

 

Shaunie:  But it’s from a doctor so it’s ok right?  What if your friend says they take it all the time?

 

Ace:  Yeah cause it’s made to treat whatever they have.  If I take it and I don’t have that then it will make me get it.

 

Shaunie:  Ahm, that’s not really how it works but you are right that you should never take someone else’s medicines.  

 

Ace:  Oh ok.  Yeah.  That’s what I was saying. 

 

Me:  You’re such a punk.  Everyone does it. 

 

Ace:  That’s ok.  I don’t want any.

 

Me *Back in Mom mode*:  Well, good job guys.  This is important stuff.

 

Ace *Looking very pleased with himself*:  Yay!  We got it all right.

 

Me:  You did, but, this will be an ongoing conversation.  This isn’t over.

 

 

 

[The conversation above has been recreated to the best of my ability 3 days after it happened.]

 

Snow Flash Back September 19, 2016

*Every so often I browse through my drafts folder to see what kinds of things I’ve written but never shared.  Today I found the below which was written just about 3 years ago.  Dunno why I never published it.  This year will be the first winter that we’ve spent living anywhere other than New Jersey.  I’m a summer lover, but we do take advantage of snow when it comes.  The kids love sledding and snow man building.  For Shaunie’s last birthday we spent the day snow tubing and Jay thought it was awesome.  I don’t know what this winter will be like where we are now.  It will certainly be milder than up north.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I hope we get to enjoy a little snow at some point.*

 

 

When we left home this morning it was cold, but dry.  10 minutes later when I was dropping Ace at school there was snow sticking to the ground.  10 minutes after that – as I was pulling into my parking lot at work – there was enough snow that cars were skidding around.

“This is a lucky day.” Ace said as he exited the car this morning.  “Lucky how?” I wanted to know.  “It’s snowing.” was his cheerful reply; then he hopped out the car and skipped down the curb towards the school entrance; face raised and tongue out so as to catch snow on his tongue.

I spent all day at work wishing for a phone call from the school to say they were closing early so I could leave work early and go home.  When it’s snowing, I like to be home.

The first time we saw any snow this season was last Sunday evening.  It wasn’t very much at all, but there it was; white stuff falling from the sky.

There are only 2 things that could get me to venture out into the snow voluntarily.

Jay and Ace.

We were all already bathed and pajama’d by the time they noticed it.  They both stood in the window quietly staring out.

I don’t think he had planned out his strategy but it worked like a charm.  Ace asked Jay if he’d like to go outside and play in the snow.  Of course Jay said yes and even threw in a “Change du clothes“.

Now I had 2 very excited little boys asking me to get their snow boots and gloves out.  Before I realized what was happening, we were headed outside.  I don’t even think they ever officially asked me if it was OK to go.

We went for a walk and were out for about 20 minutes.  The boys kicked up the snow and they turned their faces up.  Ace licked some snow off a hedge and when I said “eww” he reminded me that it was alright because it’s not like any dog could have peed up there and it wasn’t yellow.  (That boy makes me laugh)

I guess our winter is officially underway and I can only assume that we will spend a lot of time outside playing in snow – and this Warm Blooded Island Gal will love every second of it.

 

Uneeb Khan September 15, 2016

You guys don’t even know how much I love this kid.  At some point I’ll stop calling him a kid but today’s not that day.

I met Uneeb 10 years ago.  He was fresh out of college and where I was already somewhat bitter about life he was full of hope.  Since then, he’s hit more than a few bumps in the road of life; both personally and professionally.  Yet, he remains one of the NICEST, most humble, most respectful, most helpful and caring people I know.

I honestly can’t say enough good things about him.  He’s the real deal.  We need more Uneebs in this world.

A fortunate group of NYU students recently got the chance to hear him speak and share a little bit about his life.

I invite you to take a few minutes to listen to someone I am so very proud to call friend.

 

 

In The Swing Of Things September 13, 2016

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Marriage,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 10:37 am
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Jay is eating – Or at least trying – More and more new foods.  This is exciting stuff!!!  I NEVER would have imagined it possible.  I have written and worried so much about his eating habits.  He’s had chicken and yogurt and today he went to school with a jelly sandwich.  His first loves are still pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches but he’s including other things here and there also.  It’s WONDERFUL!  We did try getting him to eat a grape yesterday but he wouldn’t go for it.  He was willing to try some peanuts.  He didn’t like them.  It’s like a game.  What will Jay taste next?

 

Ace was nervous about going back to school.  He still felt like the new kid and hadn’t really made too many friends last school year.  He had been there for less than 2 months before the school year ended.  So far he seems to be ok this year.  He’s made friends and was invited by one to hang out outside of school.  I think it also helps that he now goes to an after school program that is AT his school so all the kids there go to his school.  That makes it easier to develop strong relationships.  When I went to pick him up yesterday he asked to stay a little longer.  They were in the middle of a game called Zombie Apocalypse.

 

As a family, we’re getting into the swing of things.  Each person has their role and it works for us.  In the evening, one helps Jay with homework (not always easy) AND makes dinner (sometimes multiple different things for differing taste buds) AND packs the kids lunch boxes.  She also readies the kids clothes for the next day including ironing them if necessary.  On Friday evenings she takes the boys to the pool.

I check that Ace’s homework is done correctly (so far it has always been correct – so job done) and wash dishes.  Well, the adults dishes anyway.  The kids deal with their own dirty plates and cups.  Let’s not forget the pots.  I wash those too and nobody likes washing pots.

That doesn’t quite seem even but in my defense I get home later AND on weekends I put away our clean laundry.  “Our” meaning the adults.  The kids put away their own.  I know that in order for us to have clean clothes to put away, someone else had to wash them all but still … I … Oh heck, I have it good and I appreciate it.

 

 

On the weekends we try to have some family fun time and some down time.  We did a Kids Fun Day and the Bubble Run last Saturday and then on Sunday we stayed home and were lazy.  We did all watch The Little Rascals together.  For 3 of us, it was our first time seeing it and it was great.  Next up will probably be Home Alone or Herbie The Love Bug or Willy Wanka.  It’s pretty awesome that the kids can now watch and enjoy Non-Disney-Pixar movies.

 

Basically we’re just kinda here doing life.  It’s a nice respite from a time when I was in chaos and stress and frazzle mode for days and months at a time.

 

They’re Back September 8, 2016

 

They’re back home – And this mama is happy.   We are back to making grilled cheese sandwiches and to giving good night kisses.  We are back to chore lists and finding fallen ice on the floor in front of the fridge.  We are back to laughing in the evening as Shaunee drags both boys, at the same time, across the carpet as they lay on their tummies, much to their delight.  We are back to hanging out and talking about moles and birthmarks, the krill that blue whales eat or how much it would hurt to get stitches.  The boys are back to demonstrating their karate moves (neither one takes karate) and back to Jay complaining about the amount of toothpaste Ace uses.

Jay, I think, is happy to be back in his own bed.  Every night so far, he’s fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Ace, is up to his usual antics of getting out of bed for more hugs and kisses, or to get water or to show us his dance moves.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change in a month.  Jay is now interested in having a healthier diet.  I have witnessed him eating carrots, a banana and watermelon.  He asked for an apple to go in his lunch box.  I hear he also eats oranges, peanut butter sandwiches and yogurt.  He drinks regular white milk now (in addition to what he used to drink; strawberry milk).  He tasted a pretzel and declared at dinner, “The next protein I am going to try is fish.”

When I spoke to CC and tried to give him credit for this change, he said it was all thanks to his wife Emma.  I do appreciate her ability to get Jay to turn this page.

 

Ace is 10 now.  He got Legos and more Legos and more Legos.  He’s in Lego heaven.   We got him an ice-cream cake because he used to like it but apparently no longer does.  His size 10 pants are short and his size 3 shoes are tight.

 

~*~

 

They’re back at school – And one kid wanted summer vacation to drag on forever while the other couldn’t get out the door and to his classroom fast enough.   We are back to filling out tons of paperwork and sending in money for trips and *gasp* graduation gowns.

Jay came home after his first day saying it was good and telling us about the new fish tank in the resource room.  Ace left his homework at school.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change from one school year to the next.

Jay is now in a general education class all day.  He has 2 teachers and goes back and forth between 2 classrooms.  One teacher does math and the sciences while the other does language and social studies and the like.  It’s a totally new set up for him.

Ace is still kind of the new kid in school but he’s not the newest kid in school.  There was 1 new boy in his class this year and they have apparently been leaning on each other and have formed a quick friendship.  I am happy about that.

We are looking into clubs and activities for both.  Possibly 4H and the gardening club for Jay and Navy Cadets and track or swimming for Ace.  We will see.

 

Stay tuned to see how this new school year plays out and what else will change; Inasmuch as many things will stay the same.