life on the "j" train

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

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
Tags: , , , ,

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.

 

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.

 

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.

20160924_143521

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

img-20160925-wa0013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

20160924_151333

 

 

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.

 

20160924_160049

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

img-20160925-wa0017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

20160924_154742

 

 

 

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.

 

img-20160924-wa0004

 

img-20160925-wa0023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

20160924_170554img-20160924-wa0005

 

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

Happy Fall To All.

 

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.

 

I’m Not Lying July 25, 2016

Over the last year or so I’ve written and said a lot about how great Jay is doing.  The amount of time I spend talking about his bad days or his meltdowns or my frustrations have dropped dramatically.  That’s partly because as he gets older I feel like it’s less appropriate for me to talk about his bad days in detail but the bigger part is simply that there is less to talk about.

He really is doing great and he rarely melts down anymore and he has gotten so much better about being in new situations with new people and he is doing a fantastic job of communicatiing effectively.

 

The thing is, though, Jay does much better in familiar surroundings and with familiar people.  Even if the people are familiar, he is not a big fan of crowds or too much frantic activity.  He likes calm.

That means there are times we go to someones house for a party or we go to a show or to the zoo or camping and Jay loses his cool.  There are people there who don’t see him everyday but they follow along with me touting his progress and then what they see doesn’t jive.

Sometimes, I wonder if people think I’m lying.  They would be justified to wonder.  The rare occasion they do see him, he has one (or a few) rough moments with yelling or crying or other difficult behaviours.  They aren’t there everyday to see his good manners and his sweet overtures to his brother and to hear him randomly tell me that he loves me or to get his hugs and kisses and to laugh with him and play with him in his most comfortable environments.

 

Recently, we went to a (not for a little kid) birthday party.  I guess it was more of a casual but delicious dinner, get together, talking and hanging out with yummy yummy desserts but no candles or singing but take a way containers so I could bring delicious lunch to work and now there is left over yummy yummy lemon meringue pie in my fridge, birthday celebration.

 

It was a Sunday evening just over an hour away from home.  Going would mean not sticking to our evening routine.  We would no doubt be out past bedtime.  There would no doubt be people there who we don’t see often.  There could be loud noises or strong scents or any host of other triggers.

 

Jay was wonderful from start to finish.

 

He greeted people with hugs and kisses on the cheek and he entertained himself and he told the other children they needed to be nice to each other when they weren’t getting along and he asked nicely when he wanted things and he answered questions that were asked of him and he shared his knowledge about what the sun is made of and he tidied up the toys when it was time to go and he followed the rules about only eating in the kitchen and he threw his garbage away without being asked.

 

A friend who was there told me repeatedly how good he’s doing.  How impressed she was by him.  How far he’s come.  She thought everything he did was cute and everything he said was funny.

 

It was really nice to hear that.  I mean, I didn’t NEED to hear it.  I know he’s awesome and smart and cute and funny.  I know the important thing was that HE felt happy and content and relaxed.  But it was nice to hear from someone else.

 

 

Camp Diary August 24, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

.

Jay was so excited for our camping trip that he took it upon himself to write it on our family calendar.  “CAMP TUDAY”.  I’ve never seen him do anything like that before.*

We planned to leave home at 7:30 am since we had a 2:00 pm check in time at the camp site.  That gave us 6.5 hrs to get there.  Google said it was a 5 hour drive so I figured that was perfect.  And it was.  It gave me 1.5 hrs to run late and actually leave home at 9:00 am and also gave me enough time to stop for over an hour and show up at the camp site at 3:30 pm.  ON TIME by Jamaican standards.

Friday was full of greeting the 13 other people we were camping with, setting up tents, sorting out the food/drinks station, taking pictures and lots of talking and silliness.

The kids went to bed after we ate our hot dogs and hamburgers dinner.

.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

.

Ace was one of the 1st people to wake up.  That was a shock to exactly NOBODY.  My kids early rising is well known in my circle.  Well before 7:00 am he was roaming around looking for fellow early birds.  Eventually we all got up and did a lot of nothing.  That’s one of the best things about camp life.  There is a lot of work to do; but it never feels like it.  There is no time pressure, there is no rush, there are no schedules.  We get around to things when we get around to them.  You wanna stay in pajamas all day?  Go ahead.  You wanna eat junk all day and not comb your hair?  Knock yourself out.

At some point in the afternoon, after we had feasted on a big Jamaican breakfast, we went to a nearby beach.  Mind you, it was not exactly beach weather.  It was chilly and overcast and windy.  But guess who cared?  None of us.

The waves were HUGE and the current was STRONG.  To some of the adults in our group, that spelled nothing but danger.  To some of the adults in our group – and all of the kids – that spelled lots of fun.  The little ones were getting properly tossed around and knocked over and spun around and under and every which way by the waves.  The adults were on super watch keeping our eyes and hands on them and making sure they were all safe.  There were 7 kids under the age of 10 to keep track of.

Back at the camp site, we roasted marshmallows and the kids played sword fight with some plastic tubes and Jay harassed the other kids and I got attacked by a wild band of sword-wielding pirates and the kids got high on sugar from a giant bag of gum balls.

As you can imagine, it was a full day and once the kids were in bed, the rest of us needed a few drinks.

.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

There was pulling down and packing up to do.  There was also a pool and a playground that the kids wanted to go to.  I ended up at the pool and the playground with the kids.  Cause who wants to do the work of pulling down and packing up if you can be at the pool tossing 6 year olds into the deep end.

Once all the hard work was done and the kids had played volley ball over our clothes line and lots of pictures were taken and one person who shall remain nameless was determined to use the timer on his camera to capture a picture of all the grown ups but failed and once all the hugs and kisses were dished out and all the “see you soons” and “I hope you have a great school years” were said, we all made our way out of Chincoteague Island VA.

 

Speaking of Chincoteague Island, can I just say that I had never heard of it before we chose it for our camp site but it’s quite an interesting place.  Next to a shop selling confederate flags and T-Shirts you might find a shop proudly sporting a rainbow flag and a little further down you just may see a giant Jamaican flag atop a brightly coloured, polka dotted boat outside of Woody’s Eatery which you would assume is a Jamaican food establishment but it will not turn out to be anything of the sort.

All in all, although there were some slightly rough patches – A little fussiness from kids, a bum tent for one family and too much wind to enjoy some of the games we had planned to play for example  – It was a very successful camping weekend and I’m sure all 17 of us who were there (for 7 of them it was their 1st time) would agree that it was a wonderful get together and we will all be ready again next year.

For me, without a doubt, my favourite thing was watching all the kids play together.  They even played freeze tag (or stucky as we called it), and sat with us learning dominoes, just as we all had when we were children growing up in Jamaica together.

.

.

.

*He’s since written “ACE BIRTHDAY” on the Calendar – Sept 3rd.

.

.

20150807_163954

Some people actually do work and set tents up … Some people (me) take pictures.

.

downloadfile-15

Cannon Ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

downloadfile-17

.

downloadfile-18

.

downloadfile-25

I was once this age; playing with these kids parents.  (Crazy!)

.

downloadfile-35

Usain Bolt pose.  lol

.

IMG-20150809-WA0004

.

IMG-20150809-WA0006

.

IMG-20150810-WA0004

Hanging out, talking and watching the corns get roasted.  No I-anythings.  🙂

.

IMG-20150810-WA0006

Heads Up.  Volley Ball time.

.

IMG-20150810-WA0008

Early morning inside the tent.

.

IMG-20150810-WA0020

Told you I was attacked and made to walk the plank.

.

IMG-20150810-WA0023

The next generation – Learning the game.

.

IMG-20150810-WA0027

Just chillin and catching up with each other.  Not a care in the world.

.

IMG-20150811-WA0009

.

IMG-20150811-WA0022

A restaurant, but not a Jamaican restaurant.

.

IMG-20150811-WA0026

Ignore the hair.  Focus on my boy helping to make johnny cakes on a charcoal grill.