Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Winter Wonderland Adventure

Please forgive me, I did not mean to be a tease or keep anyone in suspense! I honestly thought we would just get a little snow Friday afternoon, take a few pictures, upload them, and post them to my blog the next morning.

Instead, our "little snow" turned into a snow/sleet/freezing rain/ice/more snow mix that turned our neighborhood into an ice skating rink. And the sun didn't decide to come out any melt anything until later today. So instead of uploading just a few pictures from Friday, I get to unload a whole bunch in one post  from our entire weekend!

It all started Friday afternoon around 2:30 PM....

My mother was kind enough to offer to go pick up Jaina on Friday afternoon from school, so Jayce and I were taking advantage of the extra time by eating snacks on the couch and watching Calliou. Jayce's therapist Ms. Kim was scheduled to come at 3:00 that day. The weatherman had predicted a "wintry mix" to start sometime after midnight. It was quite a surprise to have Jaina call us from Gray's cell phone to say, "HEY! Go look out the window right now!!"

It was snowing! Not sleeting, not freezing rain, but actual flakes. They were tiny flurries at first, but then big flakes started coming down. Watching snow fall always weirds me out a bit because it looks like it should be making a sound!

After Ms. Kim left, Jayce wanted to go outside in it. It was barely sticking at all.


Then a few minutes later, Gray pulled up with Jaina in her truck. She wasn't wearing a coat or anything!


I made her go inside and at least pretend that she was dressed for winter weather.

 

I also had her take the dog out for a walk as well. Alli doesn't like to pee in the snow, so I knew she had better get her chance before it started sticking!

 



Unfortunately, the snow stopped falling and in its place was nasty cold wet sleet :( Its definitely not as fun to play in sleet, so we went inside. My mom helped Jaina pack her suitcase and I kissed them goodbye. It was Jaina's turn to spend the night with her Grandma and she was excited at the prospect of getting "snowed in". My mom said that as soon as they were about 10 miles from our house, there wasn't a drop of precipitation anywhere. It turns out that only our northern area got that little bit of afternoon snow!

Soon it was bedtime and we all settled down for the night. Jayce was scared to sleep by himself (thanks to a big sister that told him that monsters live in the closet, which was a ploy to get Jayce to agree to sleep with her because she was the one really scared!) so I let him climb in bed with me while I read a novel. The next thing I knew, Brian was waking me up to watch a movie with him at almost 10 PM. I tried to watch it, but was way too tired, so I went back to bed. I moved Jayce to the floor (where I had piled blankets up for him) and didn't even hear Brian come to bed.

I was woken up at 3:00 AM when Jayce sat straight up and said, "WHY AM I ON THE FLOOR? DADDY PUSHED ME OFF THE BED!" If it hadn't been 3 AM, it would have been quite comical. I held out my arms for Jayce to crawl back in bed with us and we all three tried to settle back down to sleep. Jayce and Brian had no problems with that. It was me who ended up with insomnia. That's very common for me when I get woken up in the middle of the night.

The next morning, the yard was covered in ice. Everything sparkled. It was so beautiful! Brian is not one to worry about driving in icy conditions (like most men?) so he suggested that my mom meet us somewhere for lunch so we could collect Jaina back. Except that the roads really were icy. So icy, in fact, that my mom could not get her truck up her driveway onto the main road. I was all set to leave Jaina there all weekend, but Jayce and Jaina were having separation anxiety and each one wanted the other to be with them. It was quite sweet. Jayce called Jaina on the phone at least 3 or 4 times to say, "Can you come home now?"

We agreed to come pick Jaina up. Then we realized how bad the roads were in our neighborhood. And where we live has tons of steep hills. It was NOT fun getting out of our neighborhood, but once we were on main roads, it was okay. The DOT had sanded and salted a lot of the main highways, so as long as we stayed off the back roads, it wasn't too bad.

We went to pick up Jaina and then went to Costco for lunch and groceries. While we were out, we agreed to pick up Jaina's friend Eva who had wanted to spend the night with us. The girls were so excited!

But even more excited to find out a few hours later that it was snowing again!

 

 

Jayce decided he liked eating the snow off his gloves. Um, isn't snow dirty because of air pollution?

 

  



And then it got dark, so we called everyone in for the night. I fell asleep with Jayce at 8 PM (always been an occupational hazard for me! Kids' bedtime is usually when mom is tired, too!) and left Brian to deal with the girls. He ended up coming to bed at 10:30 PM after telling the girls they needed to turn off the TV in the bonus room soon.

I was awoken at 11:30 to Jaina telling me that Eva was sick and needed to go home. By then, the roads had frozen again and the temps were only in the 20's. I called her mom and dad and Eva, crying hysterically, begged them to come get her. It took them 45 minutes to arrive safely, when it usually takes no more than 15 minutes.

However, they couldn't get up the hill by our house. I had to wake Brian up to help push the van. The tires just spun and spun and their van would reverse back down the opposite end of the street a little more each time. I was set for them to just all spend the night, but the men were determined to make it work. Brian remembered the play sand we had saved for the kids' sandbox this summer. It helped to move up them the hill some, but soon we ran out and were almost out of ideas as well.

Then we decided to try pouring hot water on the van's tires to dislodge the packed ice in the treads. Except that carrying hot water in buckets on an ice rink driveway was doomed to end in disaster. Brian is very upset that his car washing bucket that he's had longer than me is now in the trash. And he has a very nice hurt leg to go with it.

About an hour later, Eva's parents get the van out of our neighborhood and make it safely home. I tuck Jaina into bed and crawl into my bed as well. Just to be awoken by Jayce a few hours later who wanted to know why he was on the floor again. I said, "There's no room in the bed! Just sleep on the floor!" and he seemed to accept this and went back to sleep. But I didn't. (sigh)

We woke up the next morning (this morning) to the sun shining bright. We knew the snow and ice would melt shortly, so we got outside as soon as breakfast was finished.



 




 

  

  

  

Now I'm off to bed! 2 hour delay in the morning! WOO HOO! Now if only my kids could sleep late!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Its snowing!!

:)

That is all. You can go back to doing whatever you were doing before you clicked on my updated blog post.

Cute pictures to come tomorrow!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Babies

You all are so sweet to leave such nice comments on my Wordless Wednesday post yesterday :) But alas, I cannot take credit for the beautiful baby. She does not belong to me. Instead, she belongs to a friend and fellow blog reader of mine who graciously let me come over yesterday to practice on her kids. I had so much fun :) I hope the kids did, too! Eventually I'll get more pictures up on my other photography blog, but right now the priority is to get the pictures to the mom first!

I love holding babies. Just absolutely love it. It makes my heart full of joy to even see another mom holding their precious child.

Its absolutely no secret that I have Baby Fever bad. A very very strong case of it. For a while there when Jayce was 18 months old, I thought I had been cured of it. But even then, in the way back of my mind, I thought, "Okay, so I am definitely not ready to add another child to our family when it takes every ounce of energy and patience to deal with *this* one, but I'm not letting go of the thought that we may have more one day in the future."

My husband, however, had different ideals. He never wanted any kids in the first place. No, really. Its kinda funny :) I grew up wanting 7 kids. (I thought 7 was a great number, and it was only 2 more kids than my family had. What's 2 more?) I graduated from High School and went to college, very unsure about what career I would be best suited for. All while not really caring, because all I really wanted to do was be a Stay-at-home-mom. The job/career thing was just to help me bide my time until I got to my dream.

I attended a Women's college here in the South. They are a dying breed, unfortunately. I have the highest respect for the educations that are offered to women at these Universities, though. I really feel like I received an excellent education in that environment. While friends at other colleges were meeting guys left and right and getting engaged while still in school, I did not regret my decision to be around majority females. My favorite classes in college? Child Developmental Psychology. Child Abuse and Neglect. Early Intervention in Autism. Art for the Child. See a trend?

So although my not-planned-at-all pregnancy with a guy I barely knew (but knew enough to find out that he didn't see kids in his future) certainly did put my life in a tailspin. For about a minute. After we had worked out the details (yes, we loved each other, yes we were going to try to make this work, yes we'd move in together, no I wouldn't go back to my summer job at a restaurant after the baby was born, etc) I felt at peace. I was going to be a Mommy.

And so she came. Sweet. Beautiful. Perfect.





I quickly adjusted to life with my new family. And I loved every moment of it, even the not-so-perfect ones where Brian and I struggled to become not only a couple, but parents.

I never thought for a moment that Jaina would be my only child.

As soon as she turned 1 I was ready to have another baby. Brian, not so much.

It took a year of convincing him that it would be fine. Even then, he was never excited about having another baby.

But boy did he love his son when he was born :)




Now, when Jayce turned 1, I have to admit that I didn't immediately feel a pull to add to our family. "Maybe one day" was my thought. When Brian suggested a 5 year birth control method instead of a permanent method (which is what he preferred), I agreed that 5 years would be a great time to re-evaluate our family.

I love both my children SO much, there isn't really any words I can use to describe how much. But I feel like our family isn't complete. That there is another person missing. I've felt this way for the past 2 years, even knowing that there is a 10% chance that we will have another child with autism (a typical family has a 1% chance, so our odds are 10 times greater). To me it doesn't matter. I feel like every pregnancy is a gamble. We may have a child with a heart defect, or club feet, or hearing loss. We may have a child with dyslexia, or Tourette's syndrome, or Central Auditory Processing Disorder. You never know what you are going to get. It does not make your love for your child any less.

So, babies and children weigh heavily on my mind every single day. Will we add to our family? I certainly hope so. But I want my husband to want to as well. Its not just my child, it ours, together. And Brian does not feel the same pull I do.

I know many mothers are in the same boat as me. This is a topic that has been hashed and rehashed on almost every single parenting internet board I belong to. And things generally have a way of working out to both parent's satisfaction :)

But for now, I'll just be happy with holding my friend's brand new addition :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tantrum Tuesday

Oh, I really hope tantrums won't be a reoccurring theme every Tuesday in my house. Yet, so far, every day has been a "tantrum day"for the past few weeks.

Some days its Jayce, in his not-so-typical 4 year old style. Like when I tell him he's got to put the DS down or turn the Wii off.

More often, though, its Jaina. Just the littlest thing has been setting her off lately. Like when her Daddy promised to get her a Snuggie at Walmart on Sunday, only to find out they were out of kid sizes. My demanding 7 year old then ordered us quickly to another store so she could get one that day. When her parents didn't take kindly to her orders, a full out tantrum ensued. Jaina has yet to receive her coveted Snuggie since I plainly told her that she would not see one until her attitude improved.

Even Brian has a tantrum sometimes. Usually when the kids make a mess or someone made a mistake on a program at work that he's got to fix. He's definitely not afraid to let everyone and their brother know exactly how he feels that he was wronged.

However, if we were going to be giving prizes for "most tantrums" here in the Walker household, I'm afraid I may take the cake in this department. My tantrums may not be the kicking and screaming and crying kind (well, there are tears sometimes), but they are out-of-control moments where I let my anger get the best of me.

I've been extremely frustrated with Jayce's new therapy team. Actually, its not the therapy team I'm upset with, its the supervisor. I have never dealt with a more unprofessional and unorganized coordinator in my entire autism experience. And I just don't have any patience for imperfection when it comes to getting services for my son. If you tell me that you are going to do "X" on such and such a day, you'd better mean it. Because that's going in my planner and on my calendar and my schedule will now revolve around it. And if said appointment is going to be rescheduled, I will need advanced notice. And no, I don't feel like *I* should be the one to have to track down this information and confirm. Okay, rant over!

I'm also having a silent temper tantrum about the fact that I can't get an appointment with my OB/GYN's office where I see Certified Nurse Midwives for all my OBGYN needs. Now, I realize that most woman would not mind skipping their yearly exam every now and then. But I have an agenda! I need to go ahead and have my yearly done so I can go ahead and get my appointment for my IUD removal scheduled. As a compromise with my husband, I have patiently waited these 5 years with that thing in and now I want it out!! NOW!!

Hmm... wonder where my kids get it??

That's what I love about blogging. The journaling aspect of it. The self discovery. I am so much more aware of my actions and attitudes when I type them out. I need to stop my tantrums. I need to take a deep breath, stay in control, be patient, and remember my manners.

And maybe when I learn these things, I'll be able to teach them to my kids as well :)

Oh, and because I don't like to blog without pictures (but don't mind reading other's blogs without pictures), here are a few candids of Jayce from  yesterday morning :)



 

 

 


Monday, January 25, 2010

I Heart Faces: Texture



It's Monday, so it must be time once again for an "I Heart Faces" entry! This week's theme was "Texture". I have to admit that I groaned a little inside when I saw that. Because I know what "texture" means in this day and age of digital photography. Its the texture you digitally add to your photos using actions and presets in Photoshop. And because I'm still waiting for some nice person to volunteer to come over to my house to even show me what a damn layer even is, there is no way I'm entering a photo with the kind of texture they are talking about.

So, I thought about other ways I could bring real texture into my portrait. That's why I chose that particular background. And if you are wondering why Jayce is 99% of the time my subject of my I Heart Faces challenges, well... its because he's the only one around besides me on Monday Morning when I realize that I have yet to submit a photo :)

Don't forget to check out all the other hundreds of entries at I Heart Faces



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our messy laid back weekend :)

Its not often that I can call a weekend "laid back" 'round here! But boy did we need one. Normally our weekends are packed with Mom's Night Outs or Book Clubs or adult parties with Brian's co-workers or children's birthday parties and sports games and cleaning and more cleaning and some more cleaning and spend the night guests and grocery shopping and a Costco run and 5 loads of laundry. Whew! By the time Monday rolls around, we need another weekend!

This past weekend brought a clear calendar. On Friday night, Jayce got to spend the night at Gray's house to spend some one-on-one time with her. Brian took us girls out to Applebee's where Jaina and I shared a delicious steak and shrimp meal. She might only be 7, but she has great taste in food!

On Saturday, Brian changed the oil in the cars before attending Jaina's basketball game.

Cheerleading went very well this week! The girls seemed much more confident and were loud enough to be heard over the yelling of the games. I didn't get any pictures of the entire team because my mom was busy with Jayce (and Brian just refuses to take pictures). During 1/2 time, I snagged a shot of each of the girls before they went out on the court. One day, I'll get my mom to take video of their 1/2 time cheers.



The rest of Saturday was spent running random errands and eating left overs. Not exciting by any standards, but very nice to us!

Brian may be a computer programmer by day, but he moonlights as a cleaning lady on the weekends. He had a client's house to clean today so the kids and I were on our own.

And you know what they say... while the cat is away....

We ate Fun Dip:


 

Then the kids painted little wooden vehicles:




At first glance, Jayce impressed me with picking an appropriate single color to paint his bus. 




But as soon as I gave him black for the wheels, it soon became "the poopy colored bus".



Jaina picked a car to paint:



 

After painting came play-doh! Lots of play-doh! Then we baked chocolate chip cookies (not from scratch!) to boot.

My kids were in heaven and Daddy never even knew since he was gone. Well, that is until the kids told him about the fun dip. He was not happy that we ate that in the house. At least I made them sit at the kitchen table! It was 30 degrees and raining today. I wasn't about to make them eat it on the porch!  Sometimes I wish he's just get over his cleanliness issues and just deal with the fact that kids like to make messes! And... shocking, I know... if we make a mess.... we can just... gasp... clean it up! I know, I know, I know.. what a novel idea!

All teasing my husband aside (he reads my blog sometimes and it never hurts to poke fun once in a while), we really did have a lovely weekend.

I hope yours was lovely as well :) Did you guys do anything fun and exciting?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Lake in January

Insomnia can be beneficial sometimes. Like when you have unlimited time to finish up the book you are reading or computer work that has been weighing on your mind. I could either be laying in bed for hours, tossing and turning while bothering my husband who hates it when I toss and turn, or I could be up here actually getting stuff I want done accomplished. I wanted to finish posting pictures of our park by the lake excursion that happened Tuesday so here ya go!

Thank you so so much, to everyone that compliments me on my photos. I can't begin to tell you how much that means to me. I've told myself over the years, "I'm a confident person! I do not need to rely on others to make me feel good about myself." Which is true to a small extent. I do believe I am a good wife and mother despite not hearing so from my husband or kids very often (more like never!) And I can find joy in my hobbies like photography, playing the piano, scrapbooking, or cooking without outside approval.

Oh, but when I get a compliment? I feel the joy I already had spread throughout my entire body. Thank you, thank you for that.

Something my friend Anita commented on has been on my mind since I read it. She said, "And your pictures tell their own story - the words are just a bonus!"

But do they? Do they really?

It is true that many photographs tell a story. Sometimes its just that single moment in time that sums up the entire experience. Other times, photographs can be a bit deceitful. Sometimes it only lets the viewer interpret their own version the story, which could be totally false. Sometimes when it captures that single moment, its the moments that happened right before or after that really make up the experience.

So, before I post the rest of the pictures of our adventure, I feel the need to tell you about our park experience that day. You can call this post "real" or "honest" or "bold" if you want to :) Although I typically don't jump on bandwagons like that :)





On Tuesday afternoon, it was beautiful here in my town. The temperature was in the 60's. The sun was shining with a few wispy clouds that could be seen. As soon as I picked Jaina up from school, I was inspired to take them to the park for the first time in weeks. I told Jaina, "Any park you want. You pick! Want to go to the train park? The turquoise slide park? The spider park? Or the lake park?" And just to let you know, we really do use these names we made up to refer to our local parks. Its not just to hide identifying information :)

She picked the "lake park" which was fine by me. Jayce was absorbed in playing his DS in the car and couldn't have cared less about what we were doing. He seemed happy enough when we got there, but soon I realized that he was not having fun. I was following the kids around as they played and snapping pictures left and right and not a single one caught Jayce smiling.

Then he told me he needed to go potty. The bathrooms there are despicable, but unfortunately, there weren't many trees to hide behind, either. And the park was crowded enough that I felt uncomfortable letting him potty outside anyway.

Well, as soon as he walked into the bathroom, he had a melt down. The disinfectant/musty/urine mixture was a bit strong for me, which means it was probably 10x worse for Jayce. But by this time Jaina decided she had to go and the door wouldn't stay latched, so I had to stay in there and hold it for her. Jayce decided to leave the bathroom at the same time. The classic "I'm torn between my kids and I don't know what to do!" scenario. Of course, Jayce's safety trumps Jaina's modesty, so I had to apologize quickly to her and race out the door after her brother.

Jayce's mood went downhill from there. He wandered around the playground not doing anything at all. I followed him asking, "Do you want to swing? Do you want to slide? Do you want to play sand?" and he wouldn't answer me at all. Jaina wanted to resume the game they had been playing (some pretend thing where she makes up all the rules and bosses Jayce around) but Jayce clearly wanted to be left alone.

The pictures I took of them on the swing together and the silhouette of them walking away was Jaina trying to convince Jayce to play with her. The picture of Jaina laying down on the swing was her being mopey when he wouldn't comply.

I set down my camera and tried my best to suggest activities that would interest both of them at the park. Jayce just kept getting more and more agitated. He finally said he wanted to leave and Jaina started pleading to stay. I told Jaina that we could stay a little while longer, but she needed to at least start her homework since she wasn't really playing or doing anything at the moment. She huffed off with her clipboard and spelling words, but was soon engrossed in her homework.

And that's when Jayce totally spazzed out on me. Screaming, crying, hitting, trying to bite me, the works.

Again, another "I'm torn between my kids" problem. If I had just been there with Jayce, we would have left immediately, no second guessing there! But I had just told Jaina that we could stay a few more minutes if she did her homework and she was over there on the swing obeying me.

I think she would have understood us leaving if this same scenario didn't happen quite so often.

But to be honest, Jayce ruins a lot of stuff for her. She loves her brother immensely and is very protective of him, but also resents him a lot, too. We've had to cut many fun outings and restaurant experiences short because Jayce could not handle it. I never quite know how to handle it, either. If someone else is with me, I just take Jayce to the car until he calms down. If I'm by myself, what do I do? Reasoning with Jayce in the environment that has set him off does not help. He really needs to be removed from the situation before he can calm down.

Luckily, I had spotted one of Jayce's old EI coordinators at the playground earlier. (Its rare that I go somewhere in my town and don't run into someone I know from somewhere!) I asked her if she'd look after Jaina for a few minutes while I tried to calm Jayce down. She agreed, so I carried him kicking and screaming and hitting to the car. Yep. I got lots of looks. I'm sure I'll keep getting them as he gets older, too.

One of the other problems with removing Jayce from the situation (or putting him in time out, as some people would label it), is that he very rarely wants to get out of his room or the car afterwards. We ended up sitting in the car for 20 minutes, even though it only took him about 3 to calm down. I was about to just step out of my car to call to Jaina to come join us when he said he wanted to go tell Jaina it was time to leave. So, he got out of the car and walked back into the fenced section of the playground.

That's when Jaina came running up to us and had the brilliant idea to head down to the dock by the lake.

Although it was nice weather, it is still January, so no boats were being loaded that afternoon. Since we usually only go to the park in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, its usually crowded with boaters and we aren't able to go near the lake entrance.

Well, Jayce liked this idea. And for the first time all afternoon, I got a smile.



And joy found his way into his steps.



We spent an hour playing on the dock.


and at the "beach" part of the lake.


 

Jaina picked up shells that she would collect and then throw in the water to make ripples.



 



Jayce liked the sticks the best, as most boys do.



Not to be outdone, Jaina had to try it too.




And then used the sticks to draw pictures and letters in the sand.



 






So, my little story did turn out to have a happy ending after all. As they played separately, but beside each other, I could tell that Jaina was no longer thinking about things ruined. All of her thoughts were on "When can we come back and do this again?" :)