July 2014

Jack went potty all by himself downstairs. I’m upstairs neck-deep in sorting all the boys’ clothes into their proper boxes. Max is cleaning the bathroom for the third time (whole other story). Max goes downstairs to get something and all I hear is ‘Oh, no no no no!’ Ugh. I calmly go downstairs to see what’s up and Max tells me Jack’s trying to flush his pull-up.

Now that I’m back in the blogging business guess I have no excuse for blogging about the poop-a-rama Jack left for me in the bathroom this morning. At the beginning of the week I was getting up at 6am to catch him waking up and before he went in his pull-up. Then he started sleeping later (probably because Max is home from church camp and they’re keeping each other awake later). Yesterday he didn’t wake up till 6:40, so today I went up there at 7am. BIG MISTAKE!! He’d pooped in his pull-up, taken it off, gotten poop all down his leg/on his shirt/hands/floor/etc. in the process, sat on the toilet and smeared it all over it there, then I guess he gave up and started looking through the cabinet and pulled out the humidifier. Needless to say that bathroom is spotless now and I need to go buy 3 more cans of clorox wipes. I thought I’d bathe him and make him stay naked in the tub (can’t let him play in the water, that would be like rewarding him) while I cleaned the bathroom, but then he was shivering so I had to wrap him up in a towel while I wiped everything down. After all that I went and got two glazed cake doughnuts for me and didn’t share. Yeah.

Yesterday he initiated going potty twice, and today the only time we made him go potty was before and after his nap, he took care of himself the rest of the time. Here’s hoping!

On to other news…

I’m starting to seriously think about his schooling. I’m not sure how much of a schedule we can have with Tj’s lack of a consistent schedule, and with Jack probably needing frequent breaks. I talked to HSLDA today and decided that we’ll have him repeat K this year, and I’ll try to permanently exempt him from testing. They should be sending me info on renting Bergance tests for him yearly. But part of his school will definitely be life skills, so I started that portion a few weeks ago. I found a magnetic chart with days of the week at the top and 7 empty columns below. I made some icons for our chores and stuck them there (I even used a write-on-wipe-off marker to mark when we’d go pick Max up and to draw a pic of me getting my hair cut). We’ve talked about what we do each day several times now, so I wanted to list what we’re doing housework-wise and what Jack’s doing to help us now.

For more than a year Monday has been meal plan and laundry day (Max gathers and sorts, I start laundry. I fold when all laundry is done, it’s not unusual for me to finish washing sometime Tuesday. Then Max puts up all of his and Jack’s clothes, and everything in the two guest bathrooms. I put up everything else.) and Tuesday has been grocery shopping/fill-up-with-gas day. I thought if I just add a vacuum/dust/water plants day and a clean bathroom day we’d have this whole house cleaned every week! So now Jack gathers the laundry (he gets my laundry basket and the one upstairs they use and brings them to the laundry room, and he puts them back when they’re empty), Max sorts, I wash, I fold most of it and when we’re down to the bleach load Jack folds the white rags and sorts the socks while I fold Tj’s t-shirts, then Max and I put up and J puts up his socks. On Tuesday Jack goes with me to Goodwill and to get groceries. He’s not always a pain, but I know it’s boring for him. The first time we went on this new schedule we had a lot of fun noticing the numbers, counting, etc. I always get him a produce bag and blow it up like a balloon when we get to that section. On Wednesday Jack can help dust with his new duster just like mine :-) He also helps move stuff around as I vacuum. Thursday he uses the little vacuum in my bathroom while I’m cleaning it. If there’s ever a day when Max and I are doing chores and I need to find Jack something to do I’ll have him spray the kitchen table and wipe it down (I just need to teach him to not soak the map under the glass, and to not use a whole bottle of spray). He also is good at getting ice and water in cups at mealtime, or the white rag for me. He’s a decent gopher, but there are times…after he’d folded/put up the white rags at least once (and we’ve been using those rags for several years now to wipe their hands and faces at mealtimes) I asked him to get me a rag because he’d spilled some water. I wasn’t anxious about the spill, but I want him to be more responsible when he makes a mess to clean it up. So I asked him to get me a white rag and he headed off in a different direction. I repeated my request and he just looked like he had no idea what I was talking about. I talked him through it but it took a good 5 minutes even though he was standing right at the drawer with the rags in it. It’s like if he’s already thinking about something he has a really hard time switching subjects. He often freaks out when he spills something or can’t properly manipulate his hands to do something he wants to do, and then it’s like he can’t even hear me calmly talking him through the situation. I think he was so fixated on the spill he couldn’t process what I was saying. This boy will teach me patience even if it kills me!

Today as Jack was matching socks (our chore days were off because Max came home from camp Tuesday) Max walked in the kitchen. I asked Max to count how many matches Jack had made and Max was such a trooper! He counted them touching each one, and then sincerely praised Jack for his hard work. He’s such a great brother. Jack is lucky to have him, and we’re lucky that Jack has him, too. I know he has helped Jack’s progress just by being around Jack.

Tonight Austin is spending the night. They were in the dining room and Austin was telling Max to look at this drawing of the boys Tj had done when he was in Colombia. One of the boys looks a little wonky, and Austin said ‘Dude, Jack looks a little bit Asian in this drawing’! Heh, made me laugh out loud.

I just remembered that not long after Mom/Jo left (after the cruise) we saw a stuffed toy monkey. When we asked Jack about it he just started singing ‘Happy Birthday’! It was so sweet. I guess they got it for him for his birthday (which was the day before we got home).

Now that all the cruise posts are behind me I have so many other things to get caught up on.

Today I was getting discouraged with how slowly we’re progressing on potty training. Just the night before last I told Jack when he went into his room at night that if he needed to go potty while he was in his room he should go all by himself to Max’s toilet. He said ‘No thanks, by myself’. We had a little talk and I felt like he understood a little bit better. Then he actually did initiate going potty! But later that night he came out of his room with no pants on. When I went up there he’d taken off his full-of-pee pull-up and peed on the floor in 4 places. He was kinda groggy, so maaayyyybe he wasn’t fully awake when he did that??? Maybe? Who knows. Hence the discouragement. But then I counted the happy faces vs the sad faces on the chart I’ve been keeping for almost 2 weeks, and there were twice as many happy faces as sad faces. That’s progress! It does help to have it written down and not just rely on my memory. It’s nice to think about all the diapers I haven’t had to change now that he’s going potty, but each trip to the toilet is work as well. He’s gotten into a bad habit of splashing the mirror with water, the soap ends up all over the counter, he loves to laugh and laugh at himself in the mirror while the water runs and runs, and I’m really having to crack down on washing hands as the last thing. When he washes his hands before putting his pants on he’s always to tempted to play with his plaything…and his hands have to be washed again! I guess I should just stay with him through each bathroom trip from start to finish, but I’m as ornery as he is I guess.

Here’s a snippet of life with a special needs kid:
Two days ago I was taking Jack (7yo) with me to get my hair cut. Half an hour before I needed to leave I was on the computer so I told Jack to go get his shoes and socks on, and left him to it. I heard him messing around and assumed he was obeying.
After a bit I check and he has socks on but no shoes. I tell him again to get his shoes, he says ‘upstairs’, I think that means shoes are upstairs. I could believe he just brought them up to put them on…it seems like I heard him go upstairs after he was in the laundry room. I check the laundry room and don’t see them so I tell him to go up. After a bit I go to the stairs and call up ‘Get your shoes on’.
After another bit I go to the stairs and call ‘Come here’; he still doesn’t have shoes on.
I tell him in my super serious voice if he doesn’t get his shoes on I’ll give him a spank. I wait and he disappears into his room.
I call him and he comes out again with no shoes! I start upstairs and say ‘I’m coming to spank you’ and he starts to fuss.
I look around and the shoes aren’t upstairs. I ask him where the shoes are and he says ‘downstairs’.
We go down and shoes aren’t anywhere! I ask him where they are and he points randomly and says ‘right there’ like he knows they are right there.
Then I remember they’re outside. He played in the water outside yesterday and I put them on the railing to dry.
20 mins of my life frustrated all because he doesn’t know to say ‘I don’t know’ when I ask him where his shoes are. He doesn’t even understand the concept of not knowing something. I don’t remember teaching Max that concept…but there are so many things that Max learned with just one or two repetitions that Jack takes months of repetitions to understand, and then a few more months to master.

The day we got home from our cruise someone said something about ‘plus’ and Jack said “6+1= biscuit”!!! Oh my how we laughed.
He called his elbow his ‘other knee’
Jack’s vocabulary: Reak a bork = read a book. Fis-kit please, Mama = fix it

A couple of months ago I was sitting outside while the boys were playing, my boys and Aidan and Jaxon. Max told Aidan that Pawpaw had just had a heart-attack and open heart surgery. Aidan said that was nothing, that happened to him. I suppressed the urge to ask if he’d had an heart attack and just listened. He said his mom got a call once and it was because his grandmom died. They had to miss school then to go visit family. Max asked him ‘So was she crying about your education or her mom?’
A little while later they were on a completely different subject. All I caught was Max saying to Aidan ‘Just ask Jaxon to attract Leanne and other girl’ and Aidan replied ‘No he only attracts Trinity and another girl whose name I don’t remember’.
Later Jaxon came back from his house and asked Aidan which popsicle he wanted. Immediately Aidan yelled out obsidian! Purple! Yellow!

About a month ago on our way to VBS Max told me he’d taught Jack the planet names. He said sometimes they play this game where Max asks Jack if he wants to go to another planet. Jack says yes and Max asks which one or suggests one. Then he tells Jack to hop on and puts his hands together like he’s holding a joy-stick and flies to another planet, sound effects and all. What sweet brother games!

14 July Jack said ‘Move a chair, Mom’ so he could get his flag topper that had rolled under my desk. I’m hearing more full sentences from him like ‘Stop it, Max’ and ‘Quit it, Max’. Heh. I’ve also heard a lot of ‘stupid truck’. Wonder where he gets that from???

Last week Max was outside playing while Jack and I stayed inside. After a bit Max burst into the living room and told me to close my eyes, he had a surprise! When I opened them there were Jack’s flags!!!! I’d been looking for them off and on for about 6 months! I’m so sentimental about them because they’re the only toys Jack has ever been really attached to. Max had his Mr. Horse for ages, slept and ate and rode with him, but Jack never really got attached to a stuffed animal. But these flags! He loves them! I didn’t realize we didn’t have them for a while, and when I started looking for them but couldn’t find them I wondered if I’d given them away in a fit of cleaning. I even went out to the Morgan building and opened a couple of sentimental boxes to see if I’d packed them up. Turns out when Addy had her graduation party next door Jack brought the flags and left them there. They knew they were there, but didn’t see any urgency in getting them back to us. By the time I realized they were gone I had no idea when the last time I’d seen them was. Anyway, I teared up when Max brought them in.

There’s not much to tell about our travels home. All of the previous posts I wrote each night before bed, but I don’t have anything from that last day.

We’d talked to death about how we were going to get to the airport…they’re building a new harbor and the transportation from the city to the ship was really poor. With prices so high I hated to get a taxi, and with so many people disembarking at the same time we hated to ride the bus. On our way to the ship we rode a bus and the weather was so bad we felt pretty lucky to have that bus. But this day was so beautiful, and we weren’t in any rush, so we decided to walk to the train/metro. Tj knew it would be about 40 minutes, but that was nothing compared to what we’d done over the last week and a half! We got to the station which was obviously a commuter train…there were so many bikes parked outside! And there was a little trench/grove in the pavement all the way up the stairs so you could walk you bike up the stairs and not have to wait on the elevator.

We were super lucky again and got business class on the flight home. This time I took advantage of the snack bar. There was a huge basket of strawberries, some chocolates and several candies there. We didn’t really sleep at all. There was a baby on board who cried a bit at take-off, but that was all. I met his dad at one point and commented on the baby, and later he and his wife brought the baby over and I got to hold him a bit. Sweet!

We made it to Chicago and got to talk to Mom. It was good to hear her voice after that long time. Then Tj found out that storms had gone through Little Rock and power was knocked out at the base, so his schedule would probably change, but more importantly our flight was delayed! We had a 4-hour layover which changed to 5 hours. All in all not bad, but it put us getting home at 1 in the morning instead of midnight. I felt bad for my sister who came to pick us up. I also felt bad for us…I didn’t want to hang around on airport seats for 5 hours. Fortunately I heard an advertisement for the USO, so we found it and hung out there. It was glorious! There was a big leather sofa I dozed on the last half-hour there. We got hot dogs, chips and granola bars there and just bided our time.

We got home around 1:40am or so, slept soundly, and then woke up around 3:30am, wide awake! That’s what jet-lag looks like on this end! Around 5am we heard a thump and I went up to get Jack thinking he was probably awake. He wasn’t really, but he woke up soon enough :-) We snuggled with that boy and gave him tons of kisses. We tried to go back to sleep after a bit, but we didn’t really make it.

When Jo and Mom got up I toasted some waffles Tj had made/frozen before we left and served them with a syrup I’d made. I told them all about our trip, showed them a few pictures and all I’d bought, and had a good time. They left before lunch and life returned to normal!

This was our last real day of vacation! Tj said a few times that in 24 hours we’d be doing this or that. After lunch we packed our bags and got all ready to disembark.

Several days ago, I don’t remember which day, during supper two of the ship’s crew came by our table to make small talk and see how we were enjoying our cruise. When they were just about to step away they asked Tj if he was an architect; he told them I had been. They said the captain wanted to talk to an architect; they’d already asked us for our room number, so they said he might call. I was nervous at that…it’s been about 13 years since I’ve worked in an office, what could he want?

A few days passed, and I didn’t think any more about it. Then today while Tj was gone CP called and said the captain wanted to invite us to the bridge! I didn’t know if it was because I was an architect, or if it was because Tj got us a nice-sized suite and maybe they ask all passengers in suites to visit the bridge? When Tj got back I told him what was up, and we called CP. He escorted us to the bridge, but he looked very uncomfortable when they told him he should stay with us while we were there. It was pretty impressive, with glass the entire width of the ship. We looked around a bit, and talked to the pilots about their maps and autopilot, etc. They asked us to wait a little bit, the captain was exercising, but he knew we were there and he was coming. In just a few minutes he came in and introduced himself and shook our hands. Then he brought out several letter-sized sheets of paper with house plans and elevations on them and said he was building a new house in Oregon and wanted an architect to look over the plans and see what they thought about them! That was right up my alley! I looked them over and we talked about them a bit. I told him to double-check the distance between the island and the counters, agreed with him about angling the garage, and said I think the walk from the garage to the pantry was a little long. We talked about that for a bit, then he and Tj talked planes for a bit when he learned Tj was a pilot. We had fun chit-chatting a bit about NC where he currently lives, and about our boys we’re eager to get back to, and other things. After about 30 minutes or so he thanked us and CP escorted us back to our rooms. CP said several times that the bridge was a very sensitive place, and he generally seemed nervous to have been there. He apologized a couple of times, and said he had no idea why the captain wanted us, he hoped it had all been ok. What a fun thing we got to do!

We spent a lot of the day in the library, reading and doing sudoku and crossword puzzles. I’m not bad at sudoku, but I don’t do so well on crosswords.

This day at 5pm there was a Russian bazzar, and sales at each of the ship’s stores. We went and looked around, but there wasn’t much we wanted, and we’d bought so many souvenirs that we weren’t shopping too seriously. I’d debated buying some Russian eggs for earrings, and there was a stone globe with a pedestal I liked, but again, we’d bought so much already.

We went to a variety show at 7 that was pretty good; the skill and poise of the dancers always amazes me. Now that I’ve been working on some push-ups I realize even more how much effort it takes when they pull themselves up by one arm, or support another person one-handed, or slowly balance while bending over backwards. After that we rushed right over to watch about half of a magic show, and then we went to Cagney’s for our 8:45 reservation. We had a different server this night, Mary Lane. We’ve had some really bad servers there, indifferent almost to the point of being rude, and then we see other patrons hug them and talk about how wonderful they are…what gives?! This time when I ordered I told Mary that I’d like my steak cooked medium with pink in the center, but that the night before when I’d ordered medium there was no pink. She made sure that my steak was perfect! We were so full we decided not to get any dessert, but Mary said we had to. She brought us a piece of chocolate cake to share.