life on the "j" train

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

When The Kids Are Away April 25, 2017

Miss me?  I’d love to say I’ve been quiet because the kids were away and when the kids are away we party.  Hard!  I want to say there was no time to blog because we were having too much fun.  The truth is that, things are kinda regular and quiet when they are away.  Nobody wants to hear about (and I don’t want to write about) us going to work, coming home and eating dinner and going to bed.


We tried to live it up a little bit.

On Monday, we went for donuts after dinner.  Yup.  We did.  We even took pictures to mark the grand event.  Donuts on a weekday – Even though it would be dark soon.  Boom!

On Tuesday we went to a local brewery and tasted several beers.  We are not beer drinkers.  And we learned we are definitely not stout drinkers.  We did learn about hoppiness and roastiness and that beer can smell like chocolate; so there’s that.

On Wednesday we really went all out.  We … wait for it … Went to work, came home, had dinner and went to bed.

On Thursday we planned to go to a movie but didn’t make it.  Instead we had Chick Fil A and walked around in Sears.  I got a winter jacket for only $5 and we bought 2 pairs of kids pants for $0.86.


We made and followed through with the biggest plan on Friday.  We met up with a couple of friends and did a sip and paint.  I always love an opportunity to spend time with friends and to laugh.  And if alcohol is involved that’s ok too 🙂


Our boys are back now and note-worthy things are already happening.

Jay ate lasagna – and liked it.

Ace had chicken soup – and liked it.

Both those things are major.


We made a vacation plan which I am really looking forward to.  Ace is busy readying his mind for middle school.  He’s concerned about being the “3rd smallest 6th grader” and is wondering when he’ll have a growth spurt.  He’s also thinking about which clubs he is interested in.  So far, the track team is still on the table but the step team is a heck no.  The Lego club is an oh heck yes!  Jay is lobbying for a pair of prescription sunglasses and learning how to confront social challenges head on.

Here’s a little more info on that … Apparently he thought he was unfairly treated by a staff member at his school so he was mad and decided he was not going to speak to that person ever again.  We had a conversation about that not being the best way to handle the situation.  I told him that maybe there was mis-communication and that if he spoke to the staff member and explained how he felt, the 2 of them would be able to talk it out and come to an understanding.  That was hard for him to accept.  With some prodding though, he (VERY reluctantly) told her how he felt and they were able to fix their issues.  So big!!!


So there you have it.  We’re doing alright.  It’s been raining for several days which is yuck and this will be a busy week with work stuff and school meetings and such.  I squeezed in a knitting class which meant I didn’t get home until 8:30 but it’s all good.  I feel pretty confident in my abilities to make a blanket now.


I’m keeping up with current events and a lot of it makes me mad and/or sad and/or angry.  I’m anticipating the release of Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale since I need a new series to watch.  We’re putting summer camp things in place which includes a 3 night sleep away camp which will be a first for both boys.  Don’t ask me how I feel about it.  *Hint* – I’m nervous.  I’m plotting on the dinner that’s currently cooking in our crock pot all while dreaming of a day when just thinking about eating right and exercising will produce the results I want.



The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry April 17, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Marriage,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 9:33 am
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We had such a great day on Saturday.  Ace and I went for a beautiful bike ride on a path that runs along our local river while Jay continued to practice his 2 wheel bicycle riding skills.  The four of us hung out at the rivers edge and watched as people fished.  The fish were biting that day.  We sat outside and had lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant.  The weather was simply perfect.  Back at home, the kids hung out and played with electronics while the adults took a nap.  As I told a lady I met on the bike path, it’s a lot easier to ride uphill when you are 10 years old.  Following naps we got some dinner and then went for ice-cream and Italian ices.  It was just a very nice, well-rounded, happy day.

Piggy backing on Saturdays good vibes we were so full of optimism that we decided that on the following day, after Easter service at Church and egg hunt, we would take some family pictures before going home to open Easter baskets.  We made sure to let the kids in on the plan. They were both down for the cause.


On Sunday we all got dressed up nice and fancy.  Church was great!  The kids did an amazing job.  Immediately after the service there was an egg hunt and literally ONE minute into the hunt, Jay bumped his head on a sign and it was all downhill from there.



He was in a sour mood and nothing we said could fix it.  There would be no family pictures.

Ace, bless his heart, really tried to salvage the day and said “I’ll still take pictures with you guys if you want.”  We did.  We got really cute pictures of Ace by himself, in all his bow tie glory.  We got pictures of him and I as well as him and Shaunie.  Then a stranger got one of the 3 of us.

All this while Jay sat in the car sulking.


Once we were done taking pictures we went home where Ace opened his Easter basket and was thrilled with his goodies.  Mini transformer toys, a couple of comic books and of course candy.

Jay went to his bed and his basket is still sitting on our living room floor.


As was planned, CC and Emma came to pick the kids up in the afternoon since they are on spring break this week.  They will spend the entire week in New Jersey.  This is a good thing because it’s important that they spend time with their dad and his family.  They will get to see Nanas.  It’s also important that Shaunie and I get a little break.

I was really disappointed with the direction the day took – But these things happen.

The good news is that when I checked in with CC, he confirmed that Jays mood had improved and Ace was his typical happy self.

Shaunie and I watched a comedy and then went out to dinner at a place that doesn’t serve chicken nuggets and waffle fries.

Waitress:  Would you like a 5 oz or an 8 oz glass of sangria?

Me:  The big one.  Give me the big one.  Thanks!


Jays Easter basket will be here when he gets back, still stocked with all his favourite things and we can always try again for the pictures on another day.  Our little town has lots of picturesque places and now that the leaves are back on the trees, it’s even more beautiful.


At the end of the day I am glad we had Saturday and I am glad that everyone has cheered up and I did love all the greetings shared among family and friends from all over the world.  I got new pictures of my niece who is the cutest niece that there ever was.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter and that all your plans played out just the way you hoped.


Deen-A-Palooza March 7, 2017


I wrote a whole long thing giving all the details on my birthday weekend.  I had such a great time that I wanted to share it here.  As I was writing it though, I was shocked at how unexciting it all sounded.  None of the fun – And there was A LOT of fun – was making it’s way from my head to the screen and definitely none of the fullness that was in my heart fits onto a screen.


I think that’s because I can’t tell you all the jokes we shared.  Jokes don’t work that way.  I can’t tell you about VP or drinking poop water or introducing your girl to your cute friends; And by the way, how do you even know where my homeboy lives?   I can’t tell you about Panda Panda Panda or the frustrated George Washington buff.  I can’t tell you about the stall tactics Shaunie employed or the 4 person fake pajama party or the male nip slip.  I can’t possibly tell you about all the spilled wine and the yoga pose turned dry humping.  Seriously, I can’t.  I can’t share with you the stuck out pinkies or the Fe Fi Fo Fum or the no queso.  There’s no way the dusty law degree will be funny to you or the meme game or Indian people with Jamaican accents arguing with black Ghanian people with British accents over which one is more weird.


So here’s what I can do … I can tell you that my weekend was full.  It was full in the most glorious way.  My people showed up for me and I felt the love.  People came from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and North Carolina and Maryland.  They were childhood friends and college friends and work friends and friends of friends who became my friends.  We had dinner and we went to a club and we had brunch.  We had a game night and we sang karaoke and we laughed so hard that at one point I was literally rolling around on the floor.

Shaunie took me on a tour of Mount Vernon which was George Washington’s estate.  It was awesome for a history fan such as myself; especially one who is currently obsessing over all things Hamilton and the Revolutionary War.

We went indoor sky diving and to see a movie – Logan – Which is also awesome for someone, such as myself, who thinks the X-Men is the best comic book series.

We closed out the weekend with massages and then cupcakes with the kids.

I got a new bike, which I’ve been wanting and I got a stained glass ornament hand-made by the boys.  I got wine and a personalized wine goblet and nail polish and t-shirts and books and jewelry.

I loved all the gifts but none of them compare to the gift that Shaunie is to me or to the ongoing and long-lasting gift of friendship that I have received from the best people in the world.  I was (am) completely overwhelmed and full of gratitude to have these people in my life.


Did I mention that every bit of it, was a surprise?  Starting on Friday evening, from one minute to the next, I never knew what was coming.


I am sure I am leaving stuff out but hey – I’m old now so I can blame that.  🙂


Stories About Jay That Almost Became Facebook Statuses – Although I Would’ve Been Less Wordy On Facebook Than I Am On Here February 22, 2017

Recently, we embarked on a day trip to see a car show and then to stroll around Baltimore’s inner harbor.  Even though it’s February, it was such a nice day that we were able to see some street performers, we took pictures with our jackets off and we even got ice-cream.  At one point a man began walking beside us.  Jay said hello to him:  “Hellooo, there old man.”  We all giggled and I apologized on Jays behalf.  The man took it well though and said, “Hey, I suppose you are right.  I am an old man.  My name is Larry”  They continued to walk and talk for about a block.  That in and of itself was enough to make me smile; Seeing Jay interact with a stranger so easily.  But then as he was about to head in a different direction, Larry said to Jay:  “Well, you take care and be a good boy OK.  Listen to your mom; she’s the only one you’ll ever get.”  Jay responded with:  “Actually, I have two moms.”

There was more laughing and Larry said “Well, that works too.  You still gotta be a good boy though.”  Then he went on his way.


As she does every evening, Shaunie took out the kids clothes for the next day.  She always makes sure they are well put together and well coordinated.  When he saw yesterday evenings outfit, Jay complained.  He let us know that the next day was class picture day and the outfit she had picked out, while cute, was not what he wanted to take his picture in.  He needed to look fancy.  He needed a button up shirt and a bow tie and a cardigan.  That’s ma boy.  He cares about fashion.  He cares about his appearance.  This boy will let us know when he needs a hair cut or will ask for new shoes to match new shirts.  I don’t want him to be vein – Not at all – But the truth is, I don’t mind.  I care too.  You won’t catch me going out in sweats and the only pair of sneakers I own were a gift.  I think I was supposed to wear them when I work out.  Except, I don’t work out.  Anyway, back to Jay and his fancy outfit … I hope his picture comes out well.  When I dropped him off at school this morning he asked the teacher if he looked handsome; Of course she said yes and he beamed.  Maybe we need to work on his modesty.


Understanding teasing doesn’t come naturally to Jay.  He takes things literally so he sees it all as bullying and he is not a fan.  I am sure that’s a product of his autism.  Knowing that doesn’t exempt him from getting teased at home though.  The other day, we all sat down to have a family dinner.  Jay had 2 beef patties on his plate and I had (among other things) broccoli. I don’t like broccoli.  Like, AT ALL.  As I sat down, I told Jay that only one of the patties were actually his and I was going to take the second one for myself and give him some of my broccoli in exchange.  His face fell for a split second – Then, he got a smirk and said “You are just joking.  Aren’t you.”  The “aren’t you” wasn’t said like a question.  It was said like a statement. It might have taken 9 years, but he’s getting it.  That’s a great thing because otherwise he’d be in for a rough life.  To illustrate my point, lemme say here that I got a new niece last week and she’s a tiny little thing. I first saw her when she was just 2 days old and  I am in love and I am going to spoil her rotten and be everything to her that an Auntie is supposed to be – But, I was already teasing her.  I couldn’t help it.  Her feet are huge.  LOL!  It’s all love though.  Really.


Coming home from a trampoline park last week, Jay found a bag of mini cookies in the car.  Nilla wafers to be exact.  When he opened the bag, Shaunie asked him if she could have 2 of them.  He said no and proceeded to empty the entire bag into his mouth at once.  When he was done, he rubbed salt into the wound by saying “Mmmm, those were some gooooood cookies.”  Then he laughed and laughed and laughed.

Well – Last night Shaunie made chocolate chip cookies at home and after dinner Jay asked if he could get one.  She said nope.  “You didn’t share with me last week so now I’m not gonna share with you.  That’s how it works“.  He said he was sorry.  He made crying noises.  He pouted.  Ultimately he went to bed without getting a cookie and he was mad.  A part of me thought she was being too hard on him but I do think he learned a valuable lesson.  That’s just one more reason I’m glad for her and her parenting style.  I would have wanted to be tough like that but I would’ve probably caved when he said he was sorry.  He’ll get a cookie  (or 3) at school.  After he went to sleep, Shaunie packed them for him in a ziploc bag and put them in his lunch box.


Bed Time Conversation January 26, 2017


We don’t have an elaborate bedtime routine.  It’s something like … “Guys, go brush your teeth”.  They do it and then each one turns out his bedroom light and gets in his own bed.  I give each one a kiss (or a few kisses), wish them a good nights sleep and sweet dreams and I leave.  The next time I see them is the following morning.

If you are thinking … “I can’t believe she doesn’t do bed time stories.  It’s so important for kids to read.” let me just say that my kids read a lot, mostly in the evenings before bedtime.   They are not allowed electronics during the week unless it’s for a school related project so they read to me while I put away clothes and they read while I wash dishes.  Sometimes they choose one bed to lounge on and read to each other.


The other night though I lay down on Jays bed and we had a little chat.  He’d come home upset and I wanted to understand what had happened and do what I could to make him feel better.

*Disclaimer* I don’t know how to play kick ball or what it means to be good at it or what’s involved in getting “out” or if that’s even what they call it when you are no longer in the game.

*Useful info* Gabby is a stuffed toy rabbit that Jay has been carrying around for a week now.  Gabby is treated like a human.  She does homework and gets her teeth (fake) brushed and she “eats” dinner etc.  I don’t know … Just go with it.

*Ed Note – especially to parents of non verbal kids* Jay took a long time to begin speaking.  He is now 9 years old and we’ve only been able to have these kinds of conversations for about 2 years.  My mind is still blown by it and I am still in constant awe of how far we’ve come.  My online friend Jeneil is just now having conversations with her teenage daughter (via typing).  Don’t give up on trying to find a way to communicate with your child; whether it’s verbal or through a device.  Communication changes the game!



Hey baby, why were you so upset today?


Because I wanted to be great.


But what happened?  Were you playing a game?


Yes and I wasn’t a good boy.  I couldn’t play anymore.


What do you mean?  Were you not listening?  Did you get out and have to wait your turn again?


No.  I just kicked it.  I wanted to play again and I got in trouble and I wasn’t a good boy.


What were you playing?




Oh.  And did you get out and that made you mad?


I just wanted to be great and I wasn’t great.


Well, I’m sure you’ll have a chance to play another time and maybe it will be better next time.  Maybe you just need more practice. 




Friday is Gabby’s birthday.


OK cool.  What are you going to do for her? 


Bees on a cupcake.  She really likes bees. 


Bees?  Where did that come from?


Not real bees.  Just fake bees.  She likes that.


Mom, do you know what homophones are?


What are they?


They are words that sound the same but they have different meaning.  Like be and bee.


Ahh.  What else? 


Well, how about there and their.  I learned that.  When I was a toddler I didn’t want to go to school that first day but now I love school.


I’m so glad you love school. 




I was a baby?


Yeah.  Everyone starts out as a baby.  


How did I get born?  Did I have to get birth?  


I had to push you out.


You pushed me out?


Yeah I did. 

(Thinking:  PLEASE don’t ask me anything else.)


Will I be a Mom?


Well, women are called Moms, men are called Dads. 


So.  Will I be a Dad?


Maybe one day when you are a grown up if that’s what you want.  Do you think you would like to be a Dad?


Yeah.  I can be a Dad.  I can be a policeman or whatever I want. 


That’s right.  


What would I have to do if I am a Dad?


Well, when you are a parent you have to take good care of your baby.  You have to keep them safe and make dinner and take them to school and all the things I do for you.  But you don’t mind doing those things because you love them.  


But I will be a teacher.  My students will listen to me.  I would like to be a teacher when I am adult.  


I think you’d make an excellent teacher.  




When I am adult will I have to get rid of my toys?


No, not necessarily.  You can get rid of what you like and keep what you like. 


I don’t want to get rid of them.  I love my toys.  


Well, as you get older your interests might change.  You might want to get rid of these toys and get different things. 


We will see.  Right?




It’s important to get rest. My body needs rest. 


Mine too baby.  I’ll see you in the morning ok?




Do you feel better?


Yeah.  I feel better.  Tomorrow I will not be mad.  


I love you.


I love you too. 


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.


So much; And yet, Nothing December 7, 2016

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 8:47 am
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What’s there to talk about?

I don’t know.

There’s so much.

And yet, nothing.

A lost friendship that breaks my heart.

Maybe not lost; Strained and distant may be more accurate.

But, I’m not mad.  I’m holding out hope.

A child recovering from being sick.

Even in that, there’s good.

He did such a great job at the doctor appointment and is doing so great with his medicine taking.

Both amazing and note worthy.

A Christmas card photo shoot that …

That went well … And not.

There was a dental appointment.

There is an appointment for another dental appointment.

I’m so tired of having dental appointments.

I inherited bad teeth from both parents.  Thanks.

Not bad like, discoloured or crooked.

Bad, like I need to really stay on top of them or they are prone to cavities.

Teachers/therapists/aides/nurses gifts have been purchased and mostly packaged; with personal thank you notes.

I do enjoy wrapping gifts and making them look pretty.

There is an adult only trip to look forward to.

It’s a good distraction from thinking about the kids being away for Christmas.

I will miss them.

A lot!

But it’s only fair that I share them.

There’s a Christmas cake that made its way to us from Jamaica.

That cake was wrapped in bubble wrap and carefully packaged in a hard cake pan.

That cake is love.

There is continued home decorating.

There is a crook neck.

(You know you’re getting old when just brushing your hair causes injury)

There are the simple joys of reindeer cookie baking and family game nights and Hallmark Christmas movies and kids holiday crafts and Peppermint everything.


What else is there to talk about?

I don’t know.

There’s so much.

And yet, nothing.