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Looking Ahead

  • Posted on January 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I started the New Year with a vacation in honor of my brother’s visit for the holidays. From the week of Christmas through last week I think I got a total of maybe three work days in. The rest of the time I either rested or socialized. Housework, of course, doesn’t take vacations, so it’s not like I did nothing. I just didn’t do much writing.

One of those days was spent cleaning Alex’s room, including removing the jumped-to-bits mattresses and boxsprings from his room and downsizing to the one bed. I bought him a new mattress—no boxspring—and we placed it on the floor in anticipation of a special kind of bed that will be made up for him. We spent most of the school day at that project and Alex was very pleased with the results. In the coming months, we hope to do something similar for Ben’s room and maybe even Willy’s room. The goal is to give their spaces a facelift and leave it with a more personal touch.

Another way we kicked off the New Year was to meet our new social worker. Under the autism waiver, we’ve worked with the same fantastic lady for the entirety of our term. She’s been at least on the periphery of every major event in our lives for the last decade. Luckily, we don’t have to say goodbye, but we did have to say hello to someone new. The new lady brings different skillsets and different knowledge. After talking with her briefly, we began to consider some new prospects for the boys, especially Alex and Ben. For one thing, there is now a school for children with exceptional special needs, i.e. autism, which may be a better place for Alex and Ben to attend school. It’s only about 15 to 20 minutes away, and since both boys are “segregated” from their regular education peers anyway, it might be best for them to be in school dedicated to their needs. On the other hand, we’re also on the lookout for local art classes/instruction sessions for students with special needs. In short, she took me seriously when I said the boys have talents we’d like to foster and nurture for the sakes of their future.

Alex’s communication needs are still very much in the forefront of our thoughts. While he’s growing and expanding his interests (more about that later), his communication challenges still hold him back in significant ways. Ben, on the other hand, is becoming more communicative on his own. For example, when the nail on the toe he almost broke a while back tore below the quick, he made this fact known by saying, “Band-Aid please.” This being a first for Ben, I asked him if he had an “owie” (something I wasn’t convinced he’d recognize) or if he wanted to play with it. He said, “Owie. Band-Aid please.” Then, he moved his foot to draw attention to his bloody toe. Needless to say, he got his Band-Aid. The remarkable thing is that he’s not only left it on, he’s let me change it and left the new ones on while his toe nail heals. His toe is doing much better now, and he’s not limping nearly as much as he was. Pretty soon it will be entirely healed!

The main focus of this New Year will be on transition planning for the two older boys. Despite his initial reluctance, Willy is now interested in going to college so he can learn cool things like his Uncle Patrick. (Apparently, the things I’ve been learning for the last seven years of college just aren’t cool enough for Willy.) As Alex’s interests expand, they gravitate more towards the visual arts, including multi-dimensional arts, and that continues to be my hopes for him in lieu of the school’s plans. The eye of this year is fixed on the future, doing what we can to make sure our children’s futures are as luminous as they are.

Vacation Report

  • Posted on June 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Well, this post is almost a week late, but I think you’ll understand why—at least by the next post.  You see, the vacation didn’t go quite as planned.  But we did our best to enjoy ourselves anyway.  That’s the short recap.  Here’s the long version.

We left for the airport later than I planned, which worked out just fine.  The drive was easy.  Getting in and checking our bags was easy.  Much to my surprise, there was no waiting.  Then, when we went to put our bags through security, we looked back and the line snaked all through the roped dividers.  We made it just in time to walk right up to the counter.  Lucky!

Getting passed security was almost as easy.  There was a line, but only a few people deep.  Willy and I went through the “old-fashioned” metal detector, because of his disability, instead of being subjected to the new-fangled contraption.  But my mom had to go through the new one.  Still, we made it through without incident.

Then, we found our gate and we waited.  We got there early enough that there was at least one plane departing from our gate before ours.  It was a long wait, but Willy handled it well.  The flight itself was remarkably smooth and on-time—Willy did a wonderful job the whole way there!

We arrived, found our bags with relative ease, got out at the wrong exit, and then made our way to the correct one to be picked up by my brother.  Again, relatively easy.  Considering how many things could have gone wrong, we were very, very lucky.

Denver and Boulder were both incredibly, unseasonably hot—100 degrees + hot.  We left Wisconsin in the 70s, so it was quite a jump.  And my brother’s Jeep does not have air conditioning.  Willy had little patience for the drive around for needful things before we headed up to the cabin.  He was whiny and out of sorts, but that was to be expected.  I didn’t think much of it, because he rarely enjoys shopping under the best of circumstances.

We arrived at the cabin, and Willy didn’t want to do much.  He was tired and that was fine.  It was a big day for him, so we let him take a nap.  Then, he was up for a little while before going right back to bed after eating a cheese sandwich.  We figured that we’d make up for it tomorrow, but that didn’t quite happen.  That is an adventure that deserves its own post—actually, it’s long enough to be broken up into two posts.

The whininess didn’t stop.  Willy missed his house and his family, in that order.  He missed his routine and our efforts to prepare him were inadequate.  He just wanted to wait in the cabin until it was time to go home, though we did take him four-wheeling (riding on rough, mountain trails in the Jeep).  The landscape was dangerously dry, but beautiful and oh-so-steep!  Otherwise, we spent time together and that was pretty much it—not bad, but not quite as adventurous as we had planned.  But, after Friday night (next post, remember), Willy needed us to take it easy.

My brother and I got to take a walk, but there was less in the way of hiking and exploring than we’d planned.  My mom wasn’t up to a lot of that and Willy wasn’t either.  Still, we had fun.  I got to spend some precious time with my brother.  I don’t regret going.  The experience certainly could have been worse.  But it wasn’t quite the adventure we planned, either.

The flight home went relatively smoothly, but Willy really, really wanted to just get there without the in between stuff.  It made for some aggravation on all ends.  The return, however, wasn’t quite so smooth.  Milwaukee’s airport had one baggage claim carousel open (out of five) for three arriving planes, which made finding our bags a hassle in a heavy crowd.  Very unpleasant.  Then, the way home was all under construction, so we had to drive around Milwaukee just to find a way onto the Interstate.  All told, we were over an hour late getting home.  Everyone was in bed and asleep, though Mark did wake up enough to say “welcome home” when I came up to our room and the little boys fluttered their eyes when I kissed them.

Of course, to top things off, some of the places we went four-wheeling are now in flames—like I said, “dangerously dry.”  My brother is safe and sound last I heard.

After all that, though, Willy doesn’t want to go on vacation again “for a long, long time—maybe not then.”

Air Travel

  • Posted on June 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Willy has never flown on an airplane, but soon he’ll be doing exactly.  This Friday Willy’s going to be making his first trip by plane.  We’re going to see his Uncle Patrick in Colorado.

This, as you might imagine, is cause for some anxiety.  So, if you have any tips for me to help prepare Willy or any words of wisdom to share with Willy that you think might help, please leave them in the comments!