life on the "j" train

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

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.



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.









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.


























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.




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.


























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.









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?






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.






































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.




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

Happy Fall To All.


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.




E-Schedule May 4, 2016

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 8:12 am
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Sometimes I do something and then think to myself … “Duh Deens.  Why didn’t you think of that sooner?  You would’ve saved yourself a lot of headaches.”

Case in point … Electronics!


Never mind that in our house we have 2 Kindle Fire’s, 2 laptops (one of which they have permission to use), an i-pad, 2 phones (one of which they sometimes get to use), a play station and an X Box the kids ALWAYS fight over ONE item.  Whoever has the i-pad, the other one wants it.  No!  Desperately NEEDS it or they might die.  If one has the laptop, the other MUST HAVE IT.  If one is watching TV, the other cannot bear to do anything else but to use the play station hooked up to that TV.


“But he used it all day yesterday and I didn’t get a chance.”

“That’s not true.  You’re a liar.”

“No I’m not.  I only get it for a little bit.”

“You get it all the time.”


*insert my heavy sigh and eye roll*

The fights over electronics have caused many tears and yelling and much frustration.  I was ready to throw all of them out.

I don’t get it.  Why doesn’t it work when I suggest they read a book instead of fighting over electronics?


Anyway, the other night as we were eating, an argument ensued over who would get to use the laptop following dinner and bath etc.

I was done playing referee.

I got out a piece of paper and a marker and made a schedule.  It is now laid out clearly for anyone who cares to take a look at our fridge.  We know who gets access to what on which days.

If kid A wants to use something and it’s not his scheduled day he has to get verbal permission from kid B.  No arguing.  Just ask nicely and wait for a response.  If it’s a no, then so be it.


We even drew lines for them to sign the schedule and while Ace happily signed it, Jay refused.

That’s ok though … It still went into effect and has been working like a charm.


*Insert sweet sigh of relief*


Just Jay February 26, 2015

Nobody’s job is perfect and most of the time it’s kind of a pain in my butt that the boys go to different schools; mostly due to them having different schedules and the juggling act can get tricky.

But there are days when I really love the job that I have and when the kids being on different schedules works marvelously.

Earlier this week, Jay had a half day at school so I packed up my laptop at twelve and headed home to wait for his bus.  Once we were both inside, I set up shop in my living room and Jay set about playing.

There was no fighting over who would get to use my phone and there was no jockeying for my attention.  Jay contentedly played with his animal toys and watched animal videos.  I worked on my spreadsheets and reports with the sweet sound of his scripting in the background.  Every so often he’d say “Mom?” just to make sure that I was still listening and I’d absent-mindedly say “mm hmm” or “yes” while I typed away.  That was enough to satisfy him.  I hope that doesn’t sound bad.  I was really enjoying having him as my background music.  He sounded so happy and peaceful and calm.  It made me happy and peaceful and calm.  When there was a burst of laughter from him it made me laugh also.  He even offered to share his snacks and juice with me.

I am thankful that I got that time with just Jay and that I have a job that allowed me that opportunity without me having to use up vacation time 🙂

Hopefully I get some time with just Ace soon. It’s quite amazing how different they are when they are alone vs when they are together.  One of my favorite things is their bond and seeing them play together.  I wouldn’t trade that relationship for having an “only child” – but it’s also nice when each of them and I can get time together – just 2 of us.


One More Thing December 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — the jay train @ 9:59 am
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I was feeling quite proud of myself.  After all, I didn’t have to do any last minute Christmas shopping this year.  With over a week to go, all the presents were bought and wrapped and placed under the tree.

That is, until I heard Jay asking Ace if Christmas was on 25.  (Meaning December 25th)  “Why yes it is” Ace confirmed.  Then Jay asked how many more days there were until 25.  “9 more days” Ace replied.  They both ran over to the calendar and counted down the days together.  There was a certain sweetness in both their voices that I don’t hear often.  I’m used to the loudness and the angst and the urgency that accompanies most of the things they say.  This exchange was different.  I lingered in the bathroom – out of sight – taking it all in.  They were having a real life back and forth conversation.  There was an air of peaceful excitement as they moved from the calendar to the tree.

That’s when Jay said “We get to open presents on 25 (?)”.  It was a little difficult to tell if he was asking a question or just making a statement.  But Ace told him yes and reminded him that there were only 9 days to go.  I finally emerged from my hiding spot and Jay pointed to the tree and said “Mom, little Thomas is there.”

Ahm … *thinking really hard about what he could mean* … “What baby?”

He said it again, quite unphased by my lack of understanding, “On 25, little Thomas is there.”

Ace pulled me aside and whispers to me, “Oh Mom, I know what he’s talking about.”  Ace told me all about the toy catalogs that the kids have been browsing through since before Halloween and about how every time they look through them Jay points to a small Thomas The Tank Engine toy and says he wants that for Christmas.  I couldn’t believe it.  The boys haven’t been into Thomas for some time now.  Years actually.  Unlike previous years, there were NO train toys under the tree this year.  There are animal things and Power Ranger things but no train things.

But I can’t let my boy down.  Not when I have waited so long for him to be able to tell me what he wants and not when he’s doing such a great job of patiently waiting for “25” so he can get it (over 2 months) and not when it’s clear that Ace so badly wants his brother to have his wish.  He even wants to be the one to wrap it for his brother.  He actually feels badly because he knew all along that Jay wanted that toy and he forgot to ask Santa for it on his behalf.

The good thing is that I can pick up a Thomas toy pretty much anywhere and there’s no need to go to the mall and battle with people over parking spots or the last of the popular toy on the shelf the week before Christmas.  There will definitely be a little Thomas under the tree for Jay on 25.


Minty Delights December 8, 2014

There was 1 little hiccup while we were putting up our Christmas decorations.


No, it wasn’t when I first took out the tubs of stuff.




That was great.  The boys were excited and both announced that they wanted to help and they DID.  I kept having to ask them to move a little more slowly because they were taking things out at a much faster pace than I was putting them up/together/in order.  It was great seeing them pull out item after item that they hadn’t seen in almost a year.  Memories flooded back from previous years.   Jay piling strings of silver beads on his head and driving Thomas trains on the tree branches.  Ace singing Jingle Bells and writing up cards for his classmates.  The cat climbing the tree and knocking it over; actually breaking it.




We also didn’t have any issues with the stringing of the lights.  No problems with the lifting of the TV to put the red tablecloth underneath.  It was no sweat hanging the decorations onto the tree.  Jay was happy to hang the ones that come with a built-in hanger-upper-thingy.  Ace was happy to hang the ones that needed hooks attached.  They didn’t fight over who should put the star on top or which tree skirt we should use.




They (mostly Ace) were happy to pose for pictures and Jay, who is not usually very far away from his iPad, drew us a picture.


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I don’t know why I look like I go to the same tanning place as the Grinch and Shrek.


Nope all that was fun.  We ran into trouble at the very end.  When it was time for the candy canes.

Look at these things.  Don’t they look innocent?


They’re so pretty and yummy and festive.  We even have candy cane covers to make them even MORE fun.


Except that this year Jay didn’t want to use the cute candy cane covers.  He REALLY wanted the candy canes to be naked.  Which would have been fine had Ace not REALLY wanted to use the covers.

Que the yelling.

Candy Cane Covers.

That’s what put a wrench in our Christmas decorating wheel.  If I wasn’t in the thick of it – getting pulled in 2 different directions – I’d almost think it was funny.


Jay wasn’t 100% happy about it but we managed to find a compromise and get past that snafu.  Also now, whenever Jay gets to eat a candy cane from the tree (about one a day) he discreetly chooses one that has a cover and leaves the cover “hidden” behind our TV stand.  Ace hasn’t noticed as yet.  Well played Jay, well played.   Ace doesn’t like candy canes so he doesn’t get to pay Jay back by eating the naked candy canes.  We’ll see how it goes the next time I buy a new pack of the minty delights.