Thank you all for sharing in the lives of our three amazing children- Mairead, Jack, and Ben. We hope you visit often!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Highs and Lows of a Trip to the Movies

On one of the many hot July days, Dave suggested we attempt a family trip to the movies to see Monsters University.  We have been trying to push the kids to try new things, so we geared up for the adventure.  We went to AMC Tyngsboro which is great.  If you haven't been lately, they have re-done all of the seating.  You can now relax in a huge, leather, reclining seat.  Some are single recliners and some are two seaters (like a loveseat).  It's awesome! So much space-- at one point during the movie, all three kids were in the two-seater with me.  Mairead and Jack LOVED the popcorn and they all thought it was pretty cool to go to a real movie theater.  I think this was Mairead's third time, but it was the boys' first trip.
There were about 20 previews before the feature actually started, and every time one started, Jack would yell, "Is this it, Mom?"  He must have done it about eight times.  It was pretty cute and I even heard laughter from other parents nearby.  It was very cute.

For the most part, the trip was a success.  The kids had fun, Dave and I liked the movie, and we all made it through the whole thing.  When the movie starts, it gets VERY loud, and there were some pretty intense scary parts, so it took a lot of coaxing to keep Mairead in there.  I did have to take her for a little walk to the bathroom during the most scary portion, and that is actually when we had the toughest time. 

The new theater also has new bathrooms.  Everything in the bathrooms is automatic- the toilet flushing, the hand dryer, the water, the soap, the paper towels, etc.  These may seem like conveniences or even things most people don't give a second thought, but to kids with special needs, these bathrooms can be a nightmare.  I try to avoid them as much as we can because they are terrifying to kids like Mairead.  Even Ben, who is just sensitive to loud noises, has a hard time with them.  The dryers and toilets are incredibly loud, and since the bathrooms are all metal and tile, everything is amplified.  Those new 'turbo' dryers might be better for the environment, but they are a nightmare for a lot of kids.  Probably a lot of adults, too.

So, Mairead has been trying to be more independent and went into a stall alone.  She locked the door so it would stay closed, and that was ok since I know she knows how to unlock it.  The problem was that after she was done, she realized that if she stood up, the toilet would flush, and she was suddenly frozen with fear.  She was crying and begging me to come put my hand over the sensor.  Now, she had locked the door, so I really couldn't do that.   In the meantime, Ben wandered near the turbo dryer and set that off, so then both kids screamed and were then crying.  Poor Mairead was just inconsolable and though I tried to explain that I couldn't come in until she stood up to lock the door, she was so afraid to stand up that she just couldn't bring herself to do it. 

I was trying to coax her to stand up, cover her ears, and unlock the door.  Ben was still upset about the dryer.  A woman walked in, used the bathroom, and washed her hands in the midst of all of this, and with every action, loud noises made the situation worse.  She gave me a strange look as she left because I was in a bathroom with two kids who were freaking out.  The look did not make me feel any better. 

Anyway, I realized that there was nothing I could do but to go in and get her.  I made Ben promise to stand right where he was and then I had to get down on the ground, lie on my back, and slide under the door into the stall so I could cover the sensor and allow poor Mairead to stand up. 

These, my friends, are the moments when being the parent of a kid with special needs is very lonely because every experience has added degrees of difficulty in ways that others may never even think of.  Most people probably do not see a public bathroom as a place to fear.  No one really likes or enjoys them, I'm sure, but they are probably not something you think much about.  Mairead and I see them as minefields, and on this day, I had to physically rescue her.  The toilet flushing, the dryer going off, the water surprising us, the paper towel dispenser making the whirring noise... it's all like nails on a chalkboard to kids like mine, and it's terrifying at times.  We were just trying to have a fun day at the movies, but it's never that simple.

I'm sharing this so that if you happen to see a situation like this, you might understand that the kid isn't necessarily being a brat, whining, or being difficult.  The mom is not losing her patience with her crying kid, she is losing her patience with situations that make things SO hard for that kid.  She just needed to use the bathroom, and that simple task turned into a disaster.  Strange looks are not helpful.  'Is there anything I can do to help?' is helpful.  Even if there is nothing you can do, just offering would let the family know that you are not judging, but trying to be sympathetic.  We can never really know what a family is dealing with at any particular moment, but we can all be aware that whatever they are dealing with might be very difficult and very upsetting.  We've all dealt with stressful situations while in public with our kids when a kind word or sympathetic look might have gone a long way.  So, when you see a mom struggling, remember that there could be more to the situation than meets the eye.

We're Havin' a Heatwave

July has been incredibly hot.  As in, too hot to do anything except swim or hide in an air conditioned room.  The temperature has been over 90 degrees for seven straight days now, and was over 90 degrees on at least 5 other days this month.  Since today is only July 20, that means that we have only had eight days this month on which the temperatures was less than 90.  We have been in the pool a LOT.  The kids have been existing on hot dogs, peanut butter, and popsicles.  The adults are not faring much better.  We have been insisting on mandatory quiet time every day, if only to get everyone into the A/C for a bit.  It has been frustrating because there are a lot of fun, outdoor activities we would like to do, but it's too hot to go to a playground or even to the beach!  Yesterday, the temperature reached 100 degrees and it was even too hot to be at the pool at some points!
The only advantage to the heat has been that we have seen our family nearly every day, and have had friends come to swim, too!  The kids love seeing everyone and were confused today when I told them that no one was coming over.  I don't think that has happened in weeks!
Poor Mairin is having a tough first summer.  Too young to swim or do anything fun to cool off!  She is still such a good baby, though.

For the first part of the month, the little kids refused to swim in the big pool.  They were nervous and just did not want to do it.  So, with a cool 16x32 pool ten feet away, they are sitting in a warm baby pool together.  They were getting along, though, so it worked out!  They are swimming now, though.  Each boy made up his mind on his own time to swim, and now they don't want to get out!

Why do I feel like we will have similar pictures of Kellan when he is in college?

Mairin may be too young to swim in the pool, but she knows how things work.  She arrived with a case of beer under her stroller and an iPhone close at hand. 

Our friends, the Whites, came over last week and brought these water cannons that were a huge hit.  They kids had a blast soaking each other.

Mairead has developed a fondness for Dunkin' Donuts coolattas (not the coffee ones, the ones that are pretty much just ice and sugar.  So, you know, healthy.).  Though she is not allowed to have them often, she asks for a 'special drink' on some of the hot days.
We have been trying to give the kids some 'learning time' despite the heat.  Mairead was using the pictures on the juice boxes to draw Mike Wazowski from Monsters University.  Ben calls him Mike Azooski and Sully is 'Solomon.'

Since the boys are obsessed with ninja turtles and Mairead loves turtles in general, Dave had the great idea one day to use play doh to make ninja turtles.  The kids loved the project!

This is the Mike Wazowski that Mairead drew.  I think it was pretty awesome!
It's hard to believe that summer is going by so quickly.  Mairead and Dave start school in 38 days, and the boys are not far behind.  We are having a lot of fun and enjoying the security of knowing that Dave has a job for September.  It has been a much less stressful summer than the last two!  We are also relieved to know that the boys have been given spots in the preschool program at Mairead's school, so all three kids will be in one place this year!  We are excited for Fall, and until then, we will keep eating too many hot dogs and too much ice cream, swimming until the kids can barely keep their eyes open, calling a swim in the pool 'good enough' for a bath, and losing track of what day and time it is.  Summer is for having fun, staying up late, and making memories, and we hope our kids are doing just that!

The Last of June

We had a lot of fun in June, despite the record number of rainy days that month.  We read somewhere that it rained 17 days in June, and we had triple the usual rainfall for the month.  As soon as July began, the temperatures became incredibly hot, so we have been trying to have fun despite some crazy weather!  One 'fun' day involved watching the guys who came to grind the stump of the beech tree.  The tree was removed last year and it was enormous.  The stump is probably 6 feet in diameter, maybe more, so it took professionals to grind it down.  They had this cool machine that is driven by remote control, and watching them maneuver it down the hill, through a small opening on the path, and over to the tree stump was the big excitement for the morning.  Not excited about it was my grandmother, but the kids loved it!

In addition to rainy days, we had several unseasonably hot days in June.  This meant more time hanging out and reading in the few rooms that have air conditioners. 

It also meant finding indoor activities.  Dave took the kids to Tewksbury Library once or twice.  They have a great children's area and tons of family friendly activities.  They also seem to have a lot of pillows.

Dave also lead a few walks around the neighborhood just to get the kids out (and out of my hair) for a bit.

Mairead went to her friend, Alice's, birthday party at Magic Brush (a paint your own pottery place) and had a GREAT time.  She made this card for her friend.  I love that it says 'BFF.'  Mairead says it means, 'Be Friends Forever.'

Looking at these pictures now reminds me that we haven't gone back to pick up the item Mairead painted!  I'll have to do that soon and then share a picture.  Thanks to Alice and her family for a really fun afternoon!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Special Zoo Experience

I have mentioned in the past how much I enjoy the Mothers of Multiples group to which I belong.  We are always planning fun family events, and there are some really wonderful MoMs and families involved.  One of our MoMs is a zookeeper who is married to another zookeeper, and they did an amazing job of arranging a special trip to Franklin Park Zoo.  We had a 'behind the scenes' tour that included watching the keepers feed the condors (which are freaking HUGE, by the way) and the anteater (which was both awesome and disgusting).  We also got to go INSIDE the tree kangaroo exhibit.  I mean, we were literally two feet from the animal.  Very cool.  I think everyone's favorite part was at the end, though.  There is a cool experience about which I posted last year where you can get a stick with birdseed on it and feed the 'budgies' (parakeets).  It's usually crowded and kind of crazy in there since it's such a cool thing to do, but Jackie and her husband arranged things so that our group could enter the area after closing time, so only our group was there.  It was so fun to have the time and space to enjoy this very cool experience.  I think all of the families really loved it, especially since the looks on all of the kids' faces were priceless.   I think we had something like 21 kids in our group and they all did great.  We can't thank Jackie and her husband enough- it was an awesome day! 

You can hardly tell, but there is a zookeeper in there (Greg) holding a skink (pretty sure it's a lizard) and letting the kids pet him.  Very cool!

This is Jackie teaching some of the girls about butterflies.

It's possible that both boys in this picture are named Ben.  My friend, Jamie, will have to tell me since her guys are identical, too, and I don't know if this is Jake or Ben!