The Adoration of the Christ Child

The Adoration of the Christ Child
See if you can spot why I like this image

Everything in its Right Place

A blog about disability, life, parenting, and learning what it means to live well in this world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Recap

As I write this I'm sitting by the pool, it's 6:20pm and about 95 degrees, at least 90 in the shade. The kids are enjoying the only coolness afforded outdoors and playing in the pool with Dad, who arrived on Saturday. We were so glad to have him, not least for another pair of hands to chase, hold, catch, feed, clothe and play with the boys! I have to admit having grossly overestimated both the time and the desire I would have to sit and blog when there is so much playing to do, but we'll try to catch up here in a quiet moment.

This is our last day of the Florida leg of our holiday. Tomorrow we leave in the red Ford Explorer, aptly named since we will be exploring the southeast corner of the US on our way to Texas for Brian's family reunion. The boys are excited and so are we to have our first family US roadtrip. I wonder what we will find to explore with them? It's funny, trying to explain what a motel is to a four year old!

The week past has been given to many different exploits, most prominent being the Seal World Aquatica water park, the Daytona Nascar speedway experience, and of course, The Magic Kingdom. All three were memorable for different reasons, and not least because Adam just could not deal with any of it. I have been surprised, in fact, by how little he enjoyed any of what we have done here in terms of large, corporate entertainment. I didn't know what to expect, of course, but I thought surely we would be able to find something somewhere in this haven of dreams coming true that would appeal to my little autistic boy of almost seven. But really, the only things he enjoyed were swimming around the lazy river at the waterpark--something all of us enjoyed, in fact--watching the Imax movie at the Nascar, and sitting on the bench in the shade with Dad at Disney.

Not that the heat has helped--the poor boy has been sweating non-stop like the rest of us. But I try to see it from his point of view, he whose hearing and vision and brain workings are a complete mystery to most doctors and even to his parents. Adam couldn't care less who Mickey Mouse is, or why we should wait for 30 minutes to sit in some little plastic car and spin around fighting "the evil emporer Zurg", or who these funny people are in big costumes dressed like a duck. Adam likes to play and be inventive and be active, and I think a lot of his trouble comes from walking to stand in line, or sitting and waiting for a show to start, and engaging with a world that is not real. He deals in reality, and certainly in the present, so almost nothing in this imaginary, happy, dreamy world matters to him. The happiest moment for him was when, at 6pm, we said OK Adam, time to go home. He immediately made the signs for "home" and "eat" and started walking toward the exit! Sorry, Mickey--you just could not beat the pool for this little boy. Try again Walt, and when you've designed a theme park for kids like Adam who need reality and whose dreams don't depend on being cooped up in lines and close, dark, noisy quarters, we'll be there.


On a brighter note, Adam has been full of music and facial expressions the last couple of days, showing that he is not traumatised by this environment. He is resilient, as usual, and full of life. I think we all have enjoyed this phase of adventure, though I can't say we're not ready to move on to the next one.

See you in Texas!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dreams Come True

As I write this, it is 10:25pm and 81 degrees outside. Feels positively cool...I had a lovely walk this evening at sunset, taking a detour every other house through the sprinklers that people had on to water their lawns. I was grateful that some people had been a bit overzealous and were watering the road (and me) too! Apparently it will be a record high in Orlando tomorrow, as in 96 degrees. I will let you know how that works out for us, but I can already say there will be a lot of swimming done! After that we are in for a few days of thundershowers which I am already looking forward to.

Today we pottered around Orlando and saw a re-creation of an old town in downtown Kissimee. It was fun, but hot in the middle of the afternoon. We took the kids on some rides and looked in the shops. Funny thing was, I popped into a Shoe City to look for replacement sandals for Adam, whose high quality Asda sandals broke earlier today, and found that the proprietor is from Edinburgh! We had a nice chat for a few minutes--made me think about spending the next 20 years in Aberdeen like he's spent the last 20 years in Orlando!

Yesterday we went to Disney's Animal Kingdom, our first big expedition for the whole family (minus Brian, who will join us on Saturday--roll on Saturday!) As you drive into the grounds there is a massive sign overhead that says "Where Dreams Come True". I have to admit wondering internally exactly what dreams I might be expected to have, and the only one I could come up with is that we wouldn't melt and I would be able to handle Adam well. In that sense, my dreams came true and we had a lovely day, including mango shakes, a Nemo musical, lots of animals to see and a Wild Safari Ride complete with elephants and a lion. Personally, I was glad that lions only hunt at night!

One thing to note is that I obtained a disabled guest pass for Adam for the day, which basically meant a red tag to put on the stroller we rented (for 31 dollars, yikes!). This tag allowed us to bypass the regular queues for rides and go straight to the front, which really came in handy at the safari ride. But one thing I found peculiar is that in the shows, the disabled seating was at the back, so far back that I had trouble seeing, let alone Adam who doesn't focus on anything more than 10 feet in front of him. I was particularly interested in a blind girl who was sat next to us, wondering how Mr Disney can justify putting her as far away from the show as possible. Maybe he would say it's a Small World? Anyway, I'll be curious to see what the Magic Kingdom will be like, but I already know Adam is a pro and will be a fun companion no matter what, along with his brother and the rest of this motley crew.

See you soon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sticky Monday

I've got quite a bit to catch up on, so this probably won't be the most clear and concise blog post. Then again, the busy and rambling nature of life with kids might better be represented by a rambling narrative of that life, so here goes.

First of all, last week was great and marked by Adam's participation in his first ever sports camp. I say "camp", but actually it was just two hours every day of sporting activities at a local gym with a few other kids with special needs and some lovely coaches. I like the environment, because no matter what Adam gets up to, they never seem flustered. If they have to chase him around, it's fine. If they have to pick up his shoes from the far corners of the gym, that's fine too. Even when he escapes every five minutes, they just go running after him with a smile, though they did take to calling him "Houdini", and for good reason! The kid can surely disappear when he wants to!! I wasn't too sad to be spared 10 hours of it! :)

The camp afforded Caleb and I the chance to do some gardening, shopping and resting, all of which we enjoyed. We needed it too, as our holiday was looming large and I needed to get organised. We left yesterday, Sunday morning, and arrived in Orlando, FL at about 2pm. That's when it all started to get HOT.

Heading to Aberdeen airport we all needed sweaters, as it was only 55 degrees outside. All the flight details and transitions went really smooth and we had absolutely no trouble traveling at all. Let me just say that the boys are professional and wonderful travellers. They didn't give me any trouble, and were so patient as we waited in this queue and that queue. The first flight was only 45 minutes, and we didn't do much apart from sit. We stopped off in Manchester airport, but didn't have time to see or do much as getting from one place to another took most of our time. Then we got on the "Big One": the Virgin jumbo jet.

This was a very full plane, but we were comfortable in our little row of three seats, tucked in by the galley. The first meal was a bit of a wash, especially as I wasn't feeling much like eating, but we did manage to piece together enough to make the hunger go away. Then the movies started, so Adam and I said bye-bye to brother! Actually, Adam wasn't interested in listening at all, but he did watch some people dancing and I watched a bit of Shutter Island.

After a while we all had a bit of a doze, which made us feel so much better. Then, before I knew it we were touching down in Orlando and eventually meeting Oma and Opa at the airport. They took us in their car to a grocery store and then to the house we are staying at, where we met up with Aunt Diana and Uncle Brian, and cousins Micah and Kaitlyn. We all had a very nice swim in the pool, a good dinner, and went to bed early.

Other than a few blips at 2am and then again at 5:30, we slept from 8pm to 7:30am this morning, much better than I had expected. Then we headed to the park, where I noticed two things. First, it's hot. The hottest point of the day is about 5pm here, so at 11am it's not yet reached the peak, but 90 degrees was still feeling pretty warm. And sticky. But we love it! We won't complain since it's the only proper heat we'll get for a long time yet.

The second thing I noticed is that hornets' nest in the playpark we had gone to, but only after Caleb inadvertently stepped in it and got stung four times by hornets. Nasty little buggers. He cried so hard for a while and then settled, but even now he still says "Mommy, my stings hurt." Poor sweet boy. Well, at least now we've got that out of the way, hopefully it's all fun from here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer: Week One

The week is finally over. I don't say this to mean that it's been a drag, just that it seemed much slower than any other week I've had this year. I don't know exactly why that is, except to surmise that maybe I take a while to acclimatise to the slower pace of being fully with kids. I'm used to having a little break now and then to do my own things, which surely speeds up the pace. Then again, I had an afternoon off last Wednesday, generously donated by my husband, and it seemed to drag too. Not sure why...we have lots of fun things to do, and we've had great weather by and large. Maybe it's that summer vacation looming up in only nine days that has my head in the clouds? Or maybe it's some other exciting things on the horizon, even farther away? Probably that and the fact that I can't do anything toward them because, again, I'm with the kids! Oh well, that is the point of these seasons, isn't it--the relaxing into what is and not what can't be right now. I really am praying that I will settle down soon and enjoy these moments fully because they really are fleeting, despite what it seems.

This week we have had some firsts and lots of completely normal. We've been to at least seven different parks, 10 hours pushing boys on swings (slight exaggeration), 4 hours spent indoors because we'd had too much sun (major exaggeration!), one really nice walk, a couple of fun play sessions with friends, a tiny bit of extremely uncomfortable shopping, and some good solid nights of sleep at the end of it all.

Among the firsts to note were Adam eating raisins, which I have already mentioned. Another was Adam beginning to show interest in riding the push-bike he got for Christmas. We also had our school sessions in the mornings, where usually Caleb would draw a picture and do some letters to go with it while Adam worked on the letter A. No major progress yet, except that he will sit at the table for 15 minutes and work with me (and throw the crayon at my hand, and on the floor. And oh yes, he's strapped in to his chair too, but that doesn't really count as cheating)

Next week brings the first sports club Adam will go to on his own every afternoon from 1-3pm, and Caleb's first playdate away from us all day with his friend from nursery. I bet you can't guess who is excited that these two sessions happen to overlap for an hour and a half on Monday? :)

Here's enjoying slow days...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mud and Molasses

I'm so tired, I feel like the above: mud and molasses. Mud drenched in molasses. Ugh.

Having said that, the boys and I were out today from dawn till dusk, or something like that. We had a lovely playdate at the park with Caleb's friend from nursery Aiden and his mummy, then an indoor play session at good ol' KC Kangaroo's, so that mummy could talk to Chioma (her friend!) It was a "hot" day with lots of sun, laundry, cooking, phone calls, and only one forgotten thing on the to-do list. Well, I might have accidentally forgotten to write most things down on the list in the first place.

Oh well, it is summer after all.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Holidays: Day One

I have set myself a goal this holidays, and hopefully not an overzealous or irrational one: I want to spend 30 minutes each day doing something educational with the boys, both together and separately. This might not seem like a big deal to you, since most moms I know seem to educate their children easily with each natural breath they take in any given day. I, however, was not born to teach, and find that my creativity is somewhere just below ground level in this area. Also, when you add in the fact that Adam's needs mean he is resistant at best, completely crazy at worst, I tend to give up quick.

That's why I figure that 30 minutes a day, hopefully just after breakfast, is a small enough goal to be manageable. We shall see who manages in the end, and since it's only been day one I will hold off from giving my opinion just now.

This morning we did singing. At least, Adam and I did singing. Caleb and I told stories. We'll call it a verbal foundation for learning, shall we? But now that I know Adam can count we'll work on that some days, and on beginning to write his name...luckily for both of us half his name is the same letter. I'm not being flippant: I know the immensity of the task before us, and it's best to appreciate all the positives that we can! Caleb has mastered the letters in his first name, though they come in all sorts of different variants and I have yet to see them written in the right order! So we all have something to work on.

After "school" we went to the park with Auntie Meg and the boys played while the mums chatted, which was a very nice gift. Then we met up with Daddy and had a lovely walk to the top of a nearby hill. We hid in a thorny bush when the rain came, and threw rocks and found sticks. Adam walked all the way to the top and back down, and had some raisins for his snack in the middle.

Wait, did you read that right? He ate raisins for a snack. Out of my hand. This is another wonderful first for Adam, who up to now would not take food out of my hand readily and certainly not dried fruit. I could hear the sound of doors opening as he ate each one--really, it is a wonder that we ever appreciate the small miracles of life, isn't it?

Another small miracle today was a workshop I went to this evening on Rhythms of Grace, a church service for children with disabilities started by a wonderful priest named Audrey Scanlan in Connecticut. She talked us through what she does, how she does it, and why she does it, and even included some Play-Doh exercises for us to do! The people who came were from all different corners of Aberdeen--it was again an event with a sense of excitement for what the future might hold for Aberdeen in terms of what churches are doing for children with special needs and their families. I am pleased to be working in this field as well, and look forward to taking Audrey's message further in the near future.

That's all for now--night!