Isaac In Vermont

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While in Vermont:

1. Isaac swung from the pipes in the basement at my parents’ house. There are some at his level by the stair case and if he grips them just right he can swing back and forth at the landing. My parents, as you might imagine, are not thrilled with this trick.

2. He pee’d: off of the front porch, off a pier (twice), off of my dad’s boat, on the wood pile, and off of a bridge. He occasionally also used the toilet.

3. He revved the engine of my parents’ truck. We adults were all fussing with loading the boat onto the trailer just so, when Isaac went over to check out the driver’s side and pressed on the gas pedal with his hand while the truck was running. Luckily, it was in park.

4. He made several atlases. In the first draft of his first atlas, he made a table of contents that told you which page you’d find each state. He brought it to me, and explained, if I turn to page 1, I’d learn all about Maine. I turned to page one and all it had was the word “MAINE” in large letters. :)

5. He’s also going through a pig phase and often pretended he was a little piggy looking for carrots. He was thrilled to meet some real pigs at the County Fair.

6. When brought to the toy store to pick out something, he picked out a large map of the United States, which he brought everywhere and showed everyone. He assumes EVERYONE is as jazzed about geography as he is…and I have to say, his enthusiasm IS contagious.

7. He explored the “Water Stream” (a stream by our cabin, which he called the Water Stream) every day. He labeled different sections of it “Water Stream 1″, “Water Stream 2″, etc. And he was DYING to crawl through the culvert at the end of the stream that directs the water under the road. Finally on the last day, I let him and Andrew crawl through. They LOVED it!

8. He always rearranged the same things in my mom’s house when we would visit them. He’d leave on the lights in little used rooms, arrange her books in a different way, turn the heater on, and leave the main door in the basement wide open every time he went through it. My mom learned after a few visits which spots to check after we’d leave to turn off the heat, the lights and close the doors. Somethings she left until we were safely back in New York before she bothered putting back the right way.

9. Every time we’d visit my brother-in-law’s home, Isaac would crawl up on the roof of my niece’s playhouse and just sit there. My brother-in-law, after watching him do this several times, told me “I think Isaac’s going to be a roofer!” ha! maybe!!

Isaac is a wild, slightly dangerous, whirling dervish wherever he is. And Vermont fits him perfectly. :)


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I’m here!

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Hello!!!!!

We just got back from a two week trip to Vermont. And now I’m in back-from-Vermont, organize-everything, back-to-school, but-first-go-camping mode.

geesh!

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Just wanted to check in though and say I’m still here and we had a great trip.

more later, gators!


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weekend

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We had a jam packed weekend. :) Which was great! I needed it!

On Saturday we went to the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

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Where we met up with our friend Zaida and her rad parents.

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We had a really good time!

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Then on Sunday we drove up to Hyde Park, New York and walked across a bridge that stretches over a mile across the Hudson river. Dave and I walked, the boys however, scooted across the bridge.

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Once we got to the other side, we walked a little ways down the bank of the river to another bridge that took us back.

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The second bridge had a “Bridge Music” feature with speakers and buttons to press and music to listen to. :)

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It was a great weekend. :) The boys are both home this week. Camps are done and this mama is in high gear, full time parenting mode. Watch out, Andrew and Isaac. Extreme parenting, heading your way. :)


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pigs and frogs

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1. My kids love pigs lately. When we went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival last weekend, we stopped in at the show tents where farmers brought some livestock to show off and my kids LOVED the pigs. I take them to the zoo and they show no signs of interest at the lions, giraffes or gorillas…but the pigs at the fair?! Now THAT is fun!

2. I decided to make fancy cookies for the boys to bring on their last days of camp. Isaac’s last day was yesterday and Andrew’s is today. During Isaac’s end of camp celebration, the pig cookies were clear favorites. Kids would ask unsuspecting parents for a pig cookie after seeing their friend with one and the parents would ask “ummm…ARE there pig cookies?” oh you bet there are! Andrew can’t wait to show off the pig cookies to his new friends. (poor frog cookies. so unappreciated!)

3. This week I finished the book To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read it. I can’t BELIEVE I’ve never read it. I LOVED it. Now I’m reading The Mockingbird Next Door which is about Harper Lee’s life after Mockingbird was published. Also, so good! I’ve been reading up a storm lately! I love it. :)

4. August is here. Dave is home. Dave got in during the wee hours of the morning, and when I woke up the boys this morning to tell them Daddy is home, Isaac responded with equally exciting information “It’s August!” August is no camps and no school and some lazy-days-ing.

5. Dave is home! After a fiasco at the airport after they gave away his seat. And after sitting on a parked plane for two hours while mechanics replaced a broken part…he finally made it out of London and got home. And…he brought presents! sweet!

6. This summer Andrew and I are watching So You Think You Can Dance together. He’s all signed up for another year of ballet which will start in the fall and I’m on the sidelines waiting for him to loose interest. But he doesn’t. Whenever ballet class comes up he has nothing but good things to say. I’ve loved watching SYTYCD with him. He gets so excited about the acrobatics these dancers can do.

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7. Thanks for your kind comments about my anxious summer. I’ve settled down somewhat. But come September I’m sure it’ll flare back up. :) Oh Motherhood.

8. I’m hoping for a rockin’ weekend with Dave back in town. There better lots of fun! :)


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anxious summer

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I’m always a bit of a nervous nelly. A little high strung. A little control-freak-y. But this summer, I seem to be *mostly* a nervous nelly. I am having an anxious, anxious summer.

It’s not too clear to me why this period has me up at night or dealing with butterflies in my tummy or dreaming scary dreams. It seems to be about my boys though.

This summer is all about new experiences for them. Andrew’s been in camps that are not associated with school and Isaac started horseback riding. And for a mama that keeps her boys closecloseclose, it’s been a little nerve wracking. When I take them places, I usually hold hands with *both* of them. Even 9 year old, Andrew. One of the pillars of my parenting is all about: keep-them-close, keep-them-safe, keep-them-from-wreking-havoc. And so, to pass them off to near strangers to do somewhat dangers activities (like ride on the backs of strong, powerful animals and get in giant pools of water for swim lessons), it’s been sort of a big deal for me.

What if? What if Andrew, under the false illusion that he CAN swim, tries to jump into the deep end and no one notices? What if Isaac’s riding teacher underestimates Isaac’s impulsivity and wiggliness and he falls off the horse? What if he gets STEPPED on by the horse?! It’s hard for me to trust and let go a little. But dang it, I’m doing it anyway.

Instead of thinking myself as a nervous nelly…maybe I should reframe it. I am BRAVE.

We are in new territory, folks. *older* kid territory. Which means a little more letting go. A little more trusting them and trusting others and watching these boys GROW and impress me. But, sadly, for a worry wart like me, it also means some sleepless nights. Sigh.

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Luckily, my nervous energy has expressed itself through compulsive cleaning. The other day I disassembled the heating units in our living room to vacuum out the dust. I scrubbed the kitchen sink drain with a toothbrush and baking soda and rinsed it with boiling vinegar. Our junk drawers are organized, the tops of the ceiling fan blades are dusted and there are no more crumbs in between the couch cushions. So, maybe I should think of this as a win-win. Letting the boys do new things not only is good for THEM, it makes for a mighty clean home.


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weekend success!

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Dave is in London this week. He flew out on Saturday and will be back late, late Thursday night. (If you don’t mind…let me brag about him a little. He’s in London to do a series of trainings for the staff at the Tate museum. They contacted him about getting them up to speed on how to manage their audio-visual collections and arranged his trip out there. When he asked how they found him, they told him that they were in contact with the New York and San Francisco MOMA museums and the staff at both museums recommended Dave. I could burst with pride that when three international art galleries where on a phone conference with each other, my husband’s name was passed around as the-guy-for-the-job. Dave, you are the COOLEST!)

ANYWAY…when Andrew realized that his dad was going to be in London…AND that his bridge building set had instructions for creating the Tower Bridge, he decided he HAD to make it in honor of Dave’s trip. And so he did. :)

Pictured above: Andrew with the model of the Tower Bridge. Pictured below: Dave with the real Tower Bridge.

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And now if Dave could arrange a trip to Sydney to go with Andrew’s next bridge, the Sydney Harbor Bridge…well, that would just be lovely. (Any modern art museums that need consultants in Sydney, Amy?!)

So, Dave travels quite a bit for work and although he usually arranges to be home during the weekends…he couldn’t swing that this time. And when faced with a weekend alone with the boys, I admit, I was a little nervous. Most of our friends seem to be out of town right now and I usually feel overwhelmed bringing both of my impulsive, high energy, wander off, little lambs to cool events by myself. But I decided to brave it with a Hot Air Balloon festival in New Jersey!

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A festival that included farm animals and rides and hot air balloons! It was perfect and we did great!!

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I chalked it up as a personal victory! Hooray! I lost NO ONE! I managed to use the bathroom without crowding us all into a stall with me. I stood in line for tickets and ice cream AND funnel cake without having to repeatedly leave the line to go get Isaac, or manage his I-Hate-Lines-Meltdown in a tiny crowded line of people. Maybe these boys are growing up! Maybe I have more tricks up my sleeve than I realized. Whatever it is…we all deserve more credit than I thought we did. :)

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Then on Sunday we stayed close to home. We went to the handball courts and played ball.

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And we went to the bouncy house place for air conditioned bouncing.

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I successfully tired them out and had a great time doing it. :)


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update

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1. Andrew’s part way through week 2 of his 3 weeks at the YMCA summer camp. Every day he has stories about his new friend, who uses a wheelchair. It turns out that this friend has Brittle Bone Disease and when I found that out I nearly had a heart attack. Andrew is WAY too rambunctious for someone with such a fragile condition! But…it seems to be going okay and Andrew knows that he MUST use extreme care with his new friend.

2. Isaac has been out of the “Boring Chair” for over a week now! Which means he’s actually listening to teachers. He lines up now when they blow the whistle at recess instead of what he used to do…run away. Oh Isaac.

3. Andrew’s been working on a couple of different projects when he’s not in camp that have me seeing him as a Big Kid lately. He’s finished another of his K’Nex bridges. It took him over a week, but it’s done. It took some tinkering and problem solving to figure out a few things…but he loves that. He also built an FM radio this weekend with his Snap Circuits and he’s up to his ears in learning how to program. He’s learning Python from the book Hello World and he loves, loves, loves it. It’s a great book, if you know some young little computer geeks that would dig that kind of thing. I highly recommend it!

4. Last night at dinner I asked Isaac what he did at camp. I didn’t expect an answer because he almost never can answer that question…or, he almost never WILL answer that question…take your pick. But I thought I’d give it a go anyway and he said, “I wrote an upside down letter to Mr. Billy.” then I asked “Who is Mr. Billy?” and he said, “Mr. Billy is the pizza teacher.” And I was stunned. :) Last week his class took a trip to a local pizzeria where they rolled out dough and ate steamy slices and now I know that his class wrote thank you notes to the pizza guy, Mr. Billy. Why his letter was upside down is beyond me….though it does speak to Isaac’s sense of silly. :) I just can’t believe he was able to share something so specific and I was SO happy to hear it!

5. Isaac is still a big time geography nut. He knows his states and capitals, where the states all go and what many of the state flags look like. He likes telling me that there is a sweet home in Alabama and promises to take me to Alaska when he’s a “grown mup” (which, I would LOVE!). He can list and map the countries of North and Central America and is starting to memorize the countries in Africa. He came home from school one day asking what country is IN South Africa. I told him that there weren’t any countries IN South Africa…that he must be thinking of how Vatican City is IN Italy. No, he insisted, there is a country IN South Africa. And sure enough…he was right…Lesotho is a small country completely surrounded by South Africa! (I didn’t know that before…as you can see…) I must say though, with all this talk about geography, my own geography skills are really taking off. :)

6. I’ve finally found my summer groove now that we are a few weeks into it. I’ve divided up my work into tasks I can do after Isaac gets home and tasks I need to do while he’s at camp. His camp is only a few hours each day…and it goes by fast! But my system is working out well and I’m able to hit all my marks: work, keep things up around the home, work with Isaac on the various things we’re up to this summer (workbooks, handwriting, talking about and reading books, playing turn taking games and learning how the world doesn’t end if you do NOT go first or if, heaven forbid, you lose the game, and hitting the pool every now and then). But… I am looking forward to August…with no camps and the boys with me and the crazy adventures in store.

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7. Summer 2014, you ain’t so bad. And THAT is a huge relief.


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Walk Now

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Yesterday we walked a 5K (ok….it was actually 2.2 miles…but it sounds cooler to say 5K) to raise money for Autism Speaks. Our family raised about $1500! whoop whoop! We went to this event last year. This year our group decided to meet up at the Brooklyn branch of this fundraiser, which made for a slightly smaller and less overwhelming scene for my little guys. It was a nice walk in a wooded park with staff and families from the boys’ school. It was a gorgeous day for it and our boys were troopers walking all that way. :)

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Here’s our group!

Other than that, we had a pretty quiet weekend. Hope yours was a good one!


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special

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Yesterday Andrew started up another summer camp. He was in a computer camp that latest a week and now he’s going to the YMCA for crafts and field trips and swim lessons. Other kids in his class signed up to go and it seemed more fun for him to hang out there for a few weeks than hang out here. So, off he went!

I thought after a week at the fancy computer camp, the YMCA would seem like a dud. I mean…they don’t even meet at a real Y. They meet in a school. It’s extremely low tech and no one is passing out flashdrives and teaching kids how to use the latest software.

But…turns out…this YMCA camp has brought some unexpected benefits already.

See, Andrew is in the Special Needs section of the YMCA. I wasn’t sure if he *needed* to be in the Special Needs camp, or if he could hack it with the regular kids…but I felt a lot more comfortable with the camper to counselor ratio with the Special Needs camp…and we knew some other people from his school program who were going to be there. So…I signed him up!

He must have overheard me telling other people about it because one day he told me that he hopes he meet other autistic kids at the Y. I was shocked that he mentioned that…though…of course it does make sense. :) Then he rattled off a list of possible kids he might meet in the Special Needs camp…blind kids and deaf kids and lots and lots of kids in wheelchairs! He was psyched at the range of possibilities. I went about tempering his enthusiasm with “you probably won’t be able to tell what makes each of those campers “special”. They’ll mostly seem like regular kids, like you and Isaac.”

Then I started to worry that Andrew would take it upon himself to poll the other campers on their disabilities. He’s not really one to play it cool. Sigh.

So, yesterday when the bus dropped him off (Special Needs camp includes bussing! sweet!), I asked the counselor how it went. She said that he did ask her if all the kids were autistic…and she said “all of the kids in this camp are very special!” He told her “I’m autistic!” and she said “That’s great!”

Later he told me all about his new friend that uses a wheelchair! Andrew was VERY excited about helping with the lifts and ramps and elevators and all the mechanics involved…but I’m hoping the mobility mechanics can be a bridge to a real friendship with this new little boy… and that Andrew’s not just in it for the gadgetry. Though, the new friend does love minecraft…so there’s that too. :)

Andrew’s experience so far has made me think about how lucky Andrew is to have this pass into the Special Needs community because of his membership in it. He gets to meet and interact with all kinds of people. The range of kids he knows is MUCH more diverse than the kids I knew growing up. Also, I’m not usually that big on integration…I feel too protective of Special Needs kids to fight for them to be integrated into regular settings…but hearing Andrew talk about the different kids at the Special Needs Y made me grateful that all these kids are getting exposed to each other. It sort of made me wish we all could get exposed to all kinds of people. Maybe integration IS worth rethinking.

This morning Andrew told me that he was glad that he was going to the Special Needs camp and when I asked why he just said “I just like it.” :)

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While Andrew was at camp, Isaac and I made a peach pie! Well…mostly I made it. And it is delicious! :)


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hiking with buddies

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We had a real weekend-y weekend around here. We went hiking, did some science experiments, watched some Chaplin, and played plenty of minecraft. :) The boys are off to another week at camp: Andrew at the YMCA and Isaac at his school camp. And I have my sights set on Peach Pie and an organized storage closet. Here we go!


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