life on the "j" train

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

For You We Always Will June 13, 2017

Well, it happened.  The boy graduated from elementary school.  What a journey it’s been.

I told a friend on the phone … “I made it through without crying.”

His response was the equivalent of … “It’s not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.  There are bigger things ahead that really deserve to be celebrated and that will probably make you get emotional.”

 

No“, I said, “You don’t understand.  For some peoples kids getting through elementary school is easy.  For mine it was not.  I am just so proud of how he has performed over the last 2 years.  The first 3 were rough.”

 

I remember the days when every single report card came home with a note saying we needed to have a parent teacher meeting.  Shoot, in some cases, I had to meet with the Vice Principal.  I remember when having his own personal chaperone on a field trip was mandatory.  There were times when I couldn’t make it and our Nanas stepped in.  I remember in second grade when they threatened to hold him back and have him repeat due to near failing grades.  I remember, with much appreciation, all the things his teachers did to help him even though there was no legal reason for them to do so.  Bringing in their own personal i-pads to school to use as an incentive for good behaviour.  Allowing him to play with Legos in a quiet office when his body was too agitated to sit through reading time.  Buying books with their own money that they thought he’d like to encourage reading.  I haven’t forgotten the concern over his fine motor skills.  (His writing was all but illegible).  I remember the phone calls I received telling me about the latest injury he received because he fell over in his chair.  I can recall his teachers treading lightly as they attempted to suggest we take him for an evaluation with a specialist.  They didn’t want to offend.  But they saw him struggling.  I remember him starting to hate school and being scared to begin a new year in a new grade with a new teacher.  I remember  his school choosing to put him with a specific teacher in 3rd grade because they thought she would have the skills to reach him and help him.  They were right.  She was a great fit for him and he loved her and learned to love learning.  School, was still not easy, but it stopped being such a scary place.

Fourth grade and fifth grade were vastly different.  There were no more “needs improvement” check marks on the behaviour section of his report.  There was marked improvement in his organization skills.  He began getting A’s and B’s.  He joined, and enjoyed being a part of, multiple after school activities.

 

So you see, while to many an elementary school graduation may not be a big deal, for us it is worth celebrating.  First we struggled and then we conquered.

 

It was a team effort and his support team is stronger than ever.  I will say the one part of the ceremony that almost got to me was at the very beginning when the Vice Principal asked the graduates to turn around and look at the crowd behind them.

That’s your support system.  Those are the people who helped you and will continue to help you.  Lean on them.  They love you.”

And there we were, sitting proudly in the auditorium.  Myself, Jay, Shaunie and CC.  All together for our boy.  When it was his turn to collect his certificate, Jay stood up and shouted “Ace is next” and then he clapped bigger than anyone else.  Shaunie and CC were on photo duty.  I sat up straight, soaking in the moment and beamed.

 

It happened.  The boy graduated from elementary school.  What a journey it’s been.

 

 

 

~*~

When you’re feeling lost in the night,
When you feel your world just ain’t right
Call on me, I will be waiting
Count on me, I will be there
Anytime the times get too tough,
Anytime your best ain’t enough
I’ll be the one to make it better,
I’ll be there to protect you,
See you through,
I’ll be there and there is nothing
I won’t do.

I will cross the ocean for you
I will go and bring you the moon
I will be your hero your strength
Anything you need
I will be the sun in your sky
I will light your way for all time
Promise you,
For you I will.

I will shield your heart from the rain
I will let no harm come your way
Oh these arms will be your shelter
No these arms won’t let you down,
If there is a mountain to move
I will move that mountain for you
I’m here for you, I’m here forever
I will be your fortress, tall and strong
I’ll keep you safe,
I’ll stand beside you, right or wrong

For you I will lay my life on the line
For you I will fight
For you I will die
With every breath, with all my soul
I’ll give my world
I’ll give it all
Put your faith in me 
And I’ll do anything

(For You I Will – Monica)

 

Cause & Effect April 7, 2017

Picture this …

Jay on his scooter, Ace on his bike, slick roads from recent rain – and the next thing you know, there is blood everywhere.  It was coming from Jays face and from Ace’s knee.

 

Now, when you are the only parent home and 2 bleeding children come running into the house and they are both screaming about the pain they are in, there is a certain amount of panic that immediately hits you.  Who do you tend to first?

 

After a quick assessment I determined that Jay needed more intense service but Ace’s injury would be more easily tempered.  So, I slapped a band aid on Ace to cover the bleeding.  (I would clean it later).  Then I turned my attention to Jay.  The poor thing had what looked like a bad gash on his upper lip and some minor ones on his chin.  I couldn’t tell if the blood in his mouth was as a result of the lip or if he had done damage to his gums as well.

 

After some careful washing and rinsing, I determined that all the blood was coming from his rapidly swelling lip.  I managed to get him cleaned up and I put some antibiotic cream on it.  It wasn’t as bad as it had initially looked.

 

But none of that is what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about how amazing Jay was throughout this ordeal.  He was clearly in a lot of pain but he tried so hard to hold it together.  When I asked him to wait one second so I could slap the bandaid on Ace, he did.  When I asked him not to touch his face with his sleeve, he moved his hand away.  When I asked him to rinse his mouth with water, he did, even though he was scared that it would cause more pain.  When I let him know that I was going to have to touch it to clean it and apply ointment, he nodded his consent.

 

When it was over, he said:  “Mom, do you know what that was?  That was cause and effect.  The cause was that Ace and I crashed and the effect was that I got bleed.”

I let him know that he was absolutely right and that I was very proud of him for being so strong.

Then we curled up in bed and cuddled for a bit.  After a while I asked him how he was feeling and he said it was getting a little less hurt but that he was ok.  He even smiled for a picture.

 

Then this morning, my sweet boy, who the internet will tell you lacks empathy due to his autism, asked Ace how he was feeling even though he, Jay, had gotten the worse injury.  Ace assured him he was fine and in turn asked Jay how his lip was.

 

Happy Friday everyone … May you all have a great, no bleeding, no lip swelling day.

 

 

“Can you send them out to play?” March 28, 2017

I pull up to our mailbox and am met by 2 little boys on bikes; Victor and Chase.  They live in our neighbourhood and are out enjoying the nearly 80 degree temperatures.  Everyone feels good when the temps start heading into the 70’s and 80’s after winter.

Victor greets me:

 

“Hi, what’s your name?  You live right there right?  I know your son.  Well, both of them.  Do you ever go to Tory’s?  My Mom works there.  Where are your sons?  Can you send them out to play?”

 

I tell him that once I get inside I will see what they are doing and I’ll let him know.  Chase, who is only 7, assures me that it’s OK for me to send them out, because he’s old enough to take care of them.  It makes me laugh.  Kids are the best.

 

Even though he had already showered and was already pajama’d, Ace was all in.  Jay thought the hassle of changing clothes and then re-showering was not worth it so he opted to stay inside.

 

Ace, now back in the clothes he had worn to school, grabbed his scooter and off he went.

Shaunie and I enjoyed our own version of the nice weather.  Dinner in the kitchen with the door open, cold beers and a quiet house.

 

After some time, Ace came in to say that the boys had decided to eat their dinners outside together.  At this point, Jay was half way through his own dinner, but as it turns out, eating outside > changing clothes and taking 2 showers, so he too, lost the pj’s, grabbed a scooter, his plate, his cup and was out the door in a flash.

 

*When did we get to the point where I could allow Jay to go outside and play without any adult supervision?  No, seriously.  Who are we?*

🙂

 

Despite the major shake up in the routine with the eating outside and the other boys still outside hanging out, while we were upstairs we heard Jay come inside.  He had come back to wash his plate and cup.  Because that’s what they do.  They eat, and then they wash their dishes.  And well … Autism.

Ace did not come home to wash his dishes and in fact, we realized later that night when they were already asleep that he never brought his stuff home at all.  So our neighbours probably have a plastic plate and a cup sitting on their front grass right now.  Because, well … ADHD.

 

THIS is what I like.  Simple, happy, days.  This is the life I want for my boys.  I love to see them this way.

Lucky for me, they all made a plan to meet up again this evening to have some more fun.

 

Where Do I Go With This? March 9, 2017

 

If you were among the first to arrive at the party, you will remember that this blog began as a way for me to release lots of negative energy.  My older posts had a much different tone to the newer ones.  I will forever be grateful for all the support I received from my readers in those early days.  I needed it like I needed air.   I needed it to keep from drowning.

I no longer feel like that wobbly legged new-born calf.  I certainly don’t have all the answers; But I have learned to swim.  And if there’s a moment when my limbs get tired or I need to collect myself, I just take a break and float; And then begin swimming again when I’m ready.

The shift in the things I write about has been astounding.  Even though it’s happened over the course of 6 VERY LONG years, it has happened at lightning speed.

 

 

It has been feeling lately as if most of the things I have to share with people have been cute little jokes that are more fit for a Facebook status than a blog post.  Such as Ace having a girlfriend and telling me that he loves her big puffy hair and her calm voice while Jay wants to be a polygamist.

 

There have been conversations between Ace and myself which led to me telling him about this blog and his desire to read my posts.  (Hmmm)

Also, Ace has apparently figured out the meaning of life.  I know right?  Super impressive.

 

There was the time that Jay was supposed to go to karate class but behaved badly and had to be removed from the group for a while before he was allowed to return.  The thing is though, even that doesn’t deserve a big story.  In the past it would have been a whole post.  Nowadays though, when he has these moments they pass fairly quickly.  He finished out the class and had a good evening and is looking forward to the next class.

 

Last night was just another Wednesday evening.  Ace was in his room building something; budding engineer that he is.  Jay was playing with his toys and the next thing we know, we were all hanging out and being silly and playing and laughing together.  Yup, just another Wednesday.

Ace went into Jays room for something and came out holding his chest dramatically and saying “That’s it.  This is the end.  It smells so bad in there.  I see the light.”  It was hilarious.

 

Jay let me know that he will not use cuss words like the S word or the F word because he’s too cool for that.   Right on kid.  I’m not that cool, although I didn’t tell him that.

 

On March 22nd, we will take Jay to his first ever eye doctor appointment.  We have a suspicion that he’s not seeing clearly.  In the old days, the appointment itself would surely have been blogging gold.  They are going to do (or attempt to do) the whole works.  Pupil dilation etc.  If he ends up needing glasses, that would have been another post.

Now, I’m not so sure.  The entire procedure may be totally unremarkable.

We will see.

 

Ultimately, while I do love writing and all this leaves my blog future feeling unsure,  it’s a good thing.  It means life is good.

 

Balance February 16, 2017

 

Balance seems to be the name of the game lately.

 

Ace is learning some tough life lessons around how to balance being the nice, sweet, caring, polite boy he is without letting people take advantage of him or mistreat him in any way.

It’s hard when you start to realize that not all kids are nice.  Gone are the days when everyone is your friend and when everyone is truthful and when every kid in the class gets an invitation to the party.  I am worried about him going to middle school in September as I think these issues will be even more plentiful and emotions will run even higher as puberty hits them all. I don’t want him to get bullied.  I don’t want him to lose his kind heart.  I don’t want him to be the one hurting other peoples feelings.  I do NOT want him to back down from a challenger.   I DO want him to stand up for himself.  I want him to show strength and confidence.

At home – As the older brother we do hold him to a high standard and expect him to set a good example and we do allow him to call Jay out on things when he sees him doing wrong and we encourage him to help if he sees Jay struggling with something.  We do not expect him to be his brothers boss.  We want him to be nice to his brother and to play well with his brother but we understand that he needs his own space as well.  He needs to be able to say no to watching Teen Titans and to get the bathroom to himself and to deny his brother access to his room sometimes.

We are trying to guide him through all these muddy waters.  I hope we are doing and saying the right things.  Only time will tell.

 

 

Jay is learning some tough life lessons around how to balance holding firm to what he wants and managing his built-in social challenges while being nice and polite to others.

It’s hard when you are hard-wired to be singularly focused and/or routine minded but then someone else makes a change. He wants what he wants and we know that every fiber of his neurology operates this way but he does need to work with others.  He needs to share toys with his classmates and he needs to follow teachers instructions.  We want him to be his own person.  We want him to feel comfortable in his skin and to follow his own mind instead of worrying about what other people think.  We also know that it’s not cool for a 9 year old boy to go to school everyday carrying a stuffed rabbit.  We don’t want to set him up for teasing.

We do recognize that he has special needs but he’s not in a self-contained class anymore and as a fully integrated member of the general education class his behavioral outbursts are given less leeway  than they would be given in a self-contained class.  This class is what we want for him.  This environment is what he needs.  He does not always appreciate it.

At home – We want him to be nice to his brother and to play well with his brother but we understand that he needs his own space as well.  He needs alone time to play his video game on the laptop and the freedom to answer questions for himself and to deny his brother access to his room sometimes.

We are trying to guide him through all these muddy waters.  I hope we are doing and saying the right things.  Only time will tell.

 

 

 

Ice-Skating or Something Like It January 16, 2017

We spent the day on Saturday hanging out with friends.  We picked a 2 hour time slot and rented skates and we all took to the ice.  In all, our crew consisted of 8 adults and 3 children.  Yes, it was a birthday outing for little man and yes the adults far outnumbered the children.  So?  The people there were people who we love.

 

I wasn’t sure how this ice-skating trip would go.  We chose this activity after we walked by a park several months ago and Jay saw people ice-skating and said “I would like to try that.

My friend Juddles, texted me saying, “I’m terrible at ice-skating so I may only go around once and then sit out the rest of the day. If you don’t want to pay for my ticket, that would be fine.  I won’t mind babysitting the bags and watching you guys.”

I replied with; “Nope.  You’re doing it.  We’re all bad.  Plus, for all I know, Jay will go around once and decide he hates it and he might sit out the entire day too.”

 

We all ended up having a good time.  Some of us, while wobbly, were able to get around the rink without holding on or falling.  Some of us hugged the banister the entire way around.  Some of us got brave and took risks and fell multiple times.

No-one got hurt.

The kids each figured out their own technique.  Jay held my hand for his first trip around the rink and then he was on his own.  He walked/ran his way around and said he was having lots of fun.  I don’t think I ever saw him actually glide on the ice.  Ace developed a push with one foot and glide on the other technique.  Kind of like skate boarding.  Hey, whatever works.

 

Following the ice-skating we grabbed some food and then headed back to our house for more hanging out.  It was totally impromptu.  The kids disappeared to the basement while the adults congregated in the kitchen.  I guess, in that sense, every home is the same.  The kitchen becomes the hang out spot.  I really enjoyed our time.  My house was kind of a mess; No-one cared.  I spent time washing dishes while we were talking.  I forced them to try the peanut butter I like.  We face-timed with one persons mom.  She didn’t know us or us her.  I told one that he was the bartender and pointed him in the direction of the glasses.  We compared closet sizes and they liked our shower curtain.  We talked loud and laughed a lot!

 

I really love our circle.  I feel so blessed to know the people I know and to have them support us and our boys.  The outing was planned to celebrate Jays birthday but I’m pretty sure I got the best gift.

 

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.