A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Autism Never Takes a Vacation

Autism doesn't take a day off even when you take it on a nice vacation retreat for families WITH autism. It hangs around to make sure you remember it's there, in frustrating and upsetting ways.

For instance, we visited Fort Frederica while we were there, which is British fort from pre-revolutionary days. It's pretty interesting, they've marked the entire encampment out with street signs and the foundations of many buildings are there. It was, in fact, a small town. So while we were being mesmerized by history, Miles was asked to quit pulling on his sock , as he's been ripping holes in his socks every day.

And it was on.
For you see when the mood strikes, Miles cannot be told no. To hear NO is to hear that which destroys his sense of self and also kills all past and present puppies. I have to assume this is how he translates it, based on the tantrum that erupts. Our time at the fort was then punctuated by screaming and crying, and stomping, and his newest trick, scratching himself.

So while these two contemplated blowing up a sailboat in the inlet, Miles stomped and cried and was determined not to do what we were doing.
He stomped and cried around the ruins of His Majesty's magazine while we looked at the cannon and the view of the ruins. He wasn't going to have fun. We couldn't make him. He wasn't going to be made to enjoy this place. And he made sure it was difficult for us to enjoy.

You see that's autism. Irrational responses are par for the course. You might get 100 awesome, traditional responses from "Hey sweetie don't pull on your sock." But when you hit 101 you get a child who cannot be reasoned with, who gets further and further into the fit when you try to reason with him. Miles has nearly perfect receptive language skills, he understands everything that is said to him. But something goes wrong with how his brain processes responses, very often. It takes a toll on your patience, I admit.
While these two walked on the ruins (probably not supposed to, I dunno), and Charlie just held hands and looked around, Miles stomped his way toward the the exit as we finished our visit. The best trick, often, is to use EXTINCTION. We just stop paying any attention to him. Sometimes it doesn't work, especially lately, and he ratchets up the screaming and scratching until you really do have to intervene for his own sake. Sometimes though, if you just ignore him long enough, the tantrum runs it's course.
At that point, his baby sister is often the best medicine, as she will tell us he is her hunnybunny and takes him in hand.
By the time we get to the exit, whatever episode was happening, THE SOCK INCIDENT I'll call it, is over. They've held hands and giggled all the way through the rest of the fort.

Sometimes I think people don't realize that we have so much go on in the way of meltdowns and tantrums even when we are out. That's probably because I don't share them that often, as I want to remember the happy moments. But in fairness to all the autism parents out there, I felt like I needed to share that even though there may be a scene of epic proportions, we still GO.

And so should you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Water Babies

 I wasn't brought up going to the coast of the proper Atlantic for vacation. In my childhood, the Gulf of Mexico (which is the kinder gentler Atlantic Ocean) was where you vacationed. I think I've always had a serious bias toward the white sands and crystal blue waters of the gulf. Mentally, I felt like the Atlantic was rough (not as rough as the Pacific OF COURSE as they say) but just not a beach or ocean I'd CHOOSE. I have now vacationed on the Atlantic three times in my 45 years and my bias is definitely shifting. At least it's neutralizing. Maybe it was just watching the insane fun four children can have on ANY beach that has melted my heart.
 We learned that the tide there goes out incredibly far, a ridiculous drop in tide of 9-12 feet. It didn't matter though. We just kept walking out to it, chasing the surf, which wasn't rough at all thanks to the tide, and swimming in the water.
 The girl had been afraid of "sea crabs" as she called them. She told me that they would pinch her toes, and that her toes had bones in them. She asked me to please protect her from sea crabs, which I agreed to do. Luckily there was no toe pinching. We did torture some clams by digging them up and then lobbing them back into the ocean. Sorry clams, EVOLVE.
 We missed lunch because we were at the beach too long, so we decided why not check out this little bakery called SMALLCAKES.  We ate giant cupcakes and called that lunch.
 That's valid vacation lunch I'm pretty sure.
 After dinner was done, we decided to make one more vacation based decision and head out to a local ice cream shop called Moo Cow. I had salted caramel, the kids had various chocolate or vanilla and the husband had the WINNER which was a peach. His was absolute best. My son ordered a blue drink also, which made me love him because I LOVE BLUE DRINKS. I have a whole pinterest board dedicated to blue drinks, if that tells you how much I love them.
One of my favorite treats from this place were the Boylan's sodas we tried. The birch beer was a really delicious take on root beer, and the Shirley Temple was was more crisp than expected. The Shirley Temple's of my childhood were syrupy sweet. Thinking of this makes me want to make them for my kids.

We collapsed in bed and slept like the dead. Vacation exhaustion is awesome.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Very Special Vacation

We were given a very special opportunity as a Special Needs Family this past weekend. A group called Developmentally Disabled Ministries puts on a family retreat and it was at Saint Simon's Island from Thursday to Sunday. We were fortunate enough to be invited to attend. So we loaded up the van and drove to the coast.

We enjoyed a long and kind of boring drive down. The kids mostly didn't fight in the back, although at one point we had to separate Miles and Charlie, as when Miles gets bored or frustrated Charlie is his favorite target. The directions to get to Saint Simons are easy - drive to Savannah then head south down the coast.

Despite how tempting this was, we decided to forego this amazing $1 attraction.
It was only about five and a half hours, give or take, to get there, but I think the long stretch on I16 of long uninterrupted Georgia pine become mind numbing for everyone. We were exhausted by the time we got there to check in.

Not too exhausted to run to the pier though.
We arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset, and even the twins seemed relieved to be there. The warm breeze off of the Atlantic was so relaxing and wonderful. We were all excited to see what the weekend had in store for us.

As it was too late for the group dinner we went to find adventure in the village and found a really cute restaurant with the best shrimp on the island (according to some contest we cannot verify). It was, however, an amazing seafood meal. Nothing wasn't delicious - except the coleslaw, according to my husband. He found the coleslaw to be very average. Oh well, you can't be good at everything.
The sharks hanging from the ceiling were about the coolest thing the girl had ever seen. Despite being an amazing seafood restaurant, the girl chose macaroni and cheese, and oranges. I don't know where she gets it. (My mother knows exactly where she gets it.)
Even being exhausted, an amazing meal on the island, gorgeous sunset and relief at having arrived were a perfect start to our four days of adventure. I even had a cocktail at dinner just to mark the occasion.
My stomach then reminded me that it doesn't allow me to drink liquor in a riot of pain and suffering when we got back to the hotel. I lived but it was a good reminder. The delicious taste wasn't worth the pain, I assure you.

We were kind of sad to have to sleep in two rooms with no adjoining door - rather we were next door to one another. It was OK, but we were sad sleeping apart. It doesn't feel quite right when we aren't all together.

Regardless, we were on an island and excitement awaited. I couldn't wait for the next day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Doing Local Touristy Stuff


We drove up the road just a little bit to the local Mayfield Dairy bottling facility, where they bottle milk of all sorts. It was a fun short little adventure, and not something any of us had seen before. First of all, we had to wear HAIRNETS!
But we did get to pretend to milk a cow, so that made it all worth it.

All in all I think they did a pretty good job of convincing us that we need to be drinking Mayfield milk, so well done. And for the price of admission, we got free ice cream when it was over!
We weren't sure how the twins would take to the hairnets, but they saw everyone else doing it, and despite a minor amount of protest, got on board that this was what we were going to do. And the ice cream at the end probably made it all worth while.



Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Value of Not Giving A Fig

We're going on vacation in just 3 days, down to Saint Simon's Island.We've never been there, and are pretty excited as you can imagine. Part of getting ready for an island vacation is making sure you have all the requisite island things - sunscreen, flip flops, swimsuits.

The girl needed a new swimsuit, so we popped over to Target to see what the little girl's section might have in store.

I got a hard lesson in body image and self confidence in the dressing room with my 4 year old. I would be shaking, in tears, and reluctant to try any of them on, much less really look in the mirror. The girl? The girl felt differently.

We'd chosen four suits, two full tank suits and two bikini type suits. As she tried them on, she danced and preened in front of the mirror. She poofed out her belly until it was round in the bikini, struck a crazy pose and cackled "LOOK AT MAH BIG BELLEH!". She stuck poses in each, declared her self SO SO SO CUTE and I was amazed that I was watching a human female try on a swimsuit. This was an aberration of every experience I could recall.

The last few times I've tried on a bathing suit, it's been to make sure I had all my bits covered and that I didn't have spiders. I avert actually looking at myself for any reason. There isn't anything I want to see in that mirror. In fact, there is lots that I don't want to see.

The four year old, however, has none of those issues. She laughs when the top is too short, shakes her bootie and does a little dance gleefully suit to suit. They're all fine, they're all perfect. It turns out that the Hello Kitty suit is more perfect than the others (WHICH IS HOW IT SHOULD BE).

Where does that stop? That glee and joy over just having something new and cute, vs whether I am new and cute IN it? The thing doesn't stop being cute because it's on me, but how did my mind make that change? When did it happen?

I have a totally cute suit that does fit me and it doesn't even have a swim skirt because I will never, ever be so fat I require a swim skirt (or I will never, ever don a swimsuit again by all the Gods I swear this). It actually kind of will look cute with Julia's as it's the same color combination - pink and black.

I have to turn my mind into a four year old, and learn to be happy regardless of how I look. I need to find whatever magic wand makes that happen though.

Does anyone know where it is?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I'm The One Who Leaves

My friend Dave got an awesome job in Mobile and is moving away today. 

This is all wrong.

I'm the one who gets the new job, I'm the one who moves away. 

Dave, Chuck and I have hung out and eaten lunch together for the past few years now, nearly every day. It's probably safe to say that we three odd ducks made kindred spirits over lunch time and so, today is going to be really sad when I have to say goodbye. 

The lunch bunch will never be the same without you.

But I know your new gig is going to be great.


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Falling Apart at 45

I'm falling apart. I'm going to the doctor this morning because I'm falling apart. This literal and metaphorical falling apart started Friday.

On Friday I trimmed my toenails, with the idea that I would paint them Saturday morning. While sitting with my feet up and I looked down and saw that one of my toenails, a couple of hours POST trimming, was bubbled up like a turtle shell. I mumbled an expletive and reached down to touch it.

AND IT FELL OFF. Now I am toenail-less on that toe. It didn't hurt. It was just odd. It still doesn't hurt.

The same thing happened on two more toes the next morning. Falling apart I tell you.

Sunday came and my blood sugar dropped out of nowhere. I was getting the kids breakfast ready when the hollow ears, melty dizzy feeling started, and before I could even get food in my mouth, I broke out into a raging sweat and started shaking. It took me way to long to recover. It happened again yesterday at work, and despite checking my blood sugar at work about an hour after scarfing something down, I was 115 but still felt like hell. I never shook that bad "other wordly" feeling.

I have another problem. We're not even going to talk about that one, THAT'S how bad it is.

So I'm going to my new doctor and she's going to check all sorts of things out on me today.

Someone I work with suggested it was menopause. I suppose it could be but I'm going to cry for about a day if it is. I'm still not ready. You can't make me go through the change you can't!

But I'm going because at 45 I don't want to drop dead due to not checking out warning signs and hell toenails falling off are surely a warning sign of SOMETHING.