Archive for July, 2010

Family Helps — a bunch!

As you know, we traveled to Hawaii with Paul’s family last week.  We had a great time!  My kids did an amazing job of being troopers and enjoying themselves.

We had no big issues with Zippy.  There were times when he was close to totally losing it and having a big ol fit.  There were times when I expected him to lose it and have a big ol fit.  There were times when it would’ve been okay and understandable if he lost it and had a big ol fit.  He is such a child of routine — and we were way off of our routine!  We stayed up til 1 or 2 o’clock Texas time every night.  The fact that he survived that is simply amazing.  Our meals and snacks were so out of our ordinary schedule — and I’ve mentioned before how important food is to that child!  Most days we went and went and went, and he always enjoys down time to recover and prepare for what’s next.  He did GREAT!

(I’m sure as our family who traveled with us reads this post, they might disagree with the statement, “We had no big issues with Zippy.”  Because the truth is we lost Zippy at the hotel for about an hour one evening.  All the rest of the family was waiting and waiting and waiting at the restaurant in town while Paul searched all over the resort for him.  Finally after what seemed like a long time to everyone, security helped locate Zach who had reported himself missing to the nice ladies at his favorite resort restaurant.  To me, this incident wasn’t a big issue for a couple of reasons.  First, Zippy is a wanderer.  He has a history of taking off from the crowd.  We watch him like a hawk and give him constant cues and reminders to stay close, but he doesn’t.  And second, this incident was the only time all week that the family plan was held up by Zach.  On a normal week with Zach, many plans are postponed or changed or cancelled as we decipher what his limits and needs are.  The fact that the family was affected for only an hour of a whole week is quite remarkable.  🙂 )

But I know that a big reason that Zach’s week was so successful and pleasant is because we traveled with family.  There were 20 of us!  My 3 kids had 7 other cousins — all very close to the same age — traveling with us!  There were 10 adults, too — aunts, uncles, and Meme and Papaw!  One of Zach’s biggest fears is having an all-out, big ol fit in front of people.  He would be horrified to have a fit in front of all of his aunts, uncles, and cousins.  And the fun and activity level of traveling with them helped keep him occupied and happy.

(Paul and I also catered to him on vacation more than we normally do.  Again, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do for peace.)

We loved traveling with our family.  Everyone loved being together and experiencing Maui together.  We made some awesome memories together!  We were all 20 together for dinner every night, and usually we were together several times during the day.  Being together like that was such a treat since we are scattered across the state of Texas:  Fort Worth, Waco, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi.

We even had bright yellow matching T-shirts for our trip.  All 20 of us!  Imagine us all in our bright yellow!  The shirts said Hawaii 2010 on the front and listed all of our names on the back.  Before the trip, I asked everyone in an email if we were going to wear our shirts on the airplane to Hawaii.  I got a quick negative response back.  Paul later commented that he was glad we weren’t wearing the shirts on the plane since we would look like a bunch of dorks.  I just looked at him and asked, “Paul, when are all 20 of us going to wear these matching bright yellow shirts and NOT look like dorks??!!”  🙂  Funny.  We did all wear the shirts one day, and we were glad to have them!

Another awesome thing about traveling with family is the help that they were to us in trying to fit in activities for our kids.  One day, the plan was for everyone to do the Road to Hana — a fun and beautiful road trip to the other side of the island.  An all-day road trip.  There are great stops along the way with fun things to do and amazingly beautiful things to see.  Paul and I would’ve loved to do the Road to Hana, but we knew that neither Zippy or Chloe would appreciate such a day.  But family to the rescue!  An uncle quickly offered to take Elliot along with them so he could enjoy it.  And the rest of the family seemed pleased to have him join them.  The result:  Elliot got to experience the Road to Hana (a DON’T MISS experience when visiting Maui), and Zach and Chloe didn’t have to endure it.  Paul and I stayed behind with them — we swam and took a boat ride.  The boat had windows on its lower level so we were able to see fish, a turtle, and the divers who brought cool things to the windows.  Both Zach and Chloe were so tired at this point, I think they would have been happier hanging out in our hotel room, but I think they enjoyed the boat ride.  The best part for Zach:  they served snacks on the boat!  🙂

Another day, Paul and I took the boys parasailing and again, family stepped up and offered to take care of Chloe so that we could do it.  A couple of Chloe’s sweet aunts hung out with her in the kids’ area of the pool while we were gone parasailing.

Family rocks!  Thanks, y’all!  🙂

Here’s a slideshow from the day that Paul, Chloe, Zippy, and I took our boat ride.  Zippy also got to climb on the big Banyan Tree in Lahaina while we waited for our boat excursion.

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The Bike Ride

A post today from Paul about a fun adventure that he had with Elliot on our vacation:

For Elliot and me, one of the highlights of our Hawaiian vacation was the bike ride down Haleakala, the dormant volcano on Maui.  The day started early; we had to meet at the bike shop at 3AM  So Elliot and I — along with my brother, Mark, his wife, Regina, and son, Evan — left the hotel at 2AM for the drive to Haiku.

At Haiku we were fitted for bikes, helmets, and rain gear, then hopped on a van for the ride to the top of Haleakala.  We stopped near the visitor center of Haleakala National Park at 9745 feet above sea level, where we watched an awesome sunrise.  We could see all of Maui and the surrounding islands, as well as the Big Island.  We were happy to have the rain gear; wind chills were in the 30s or lower, and we were freezing our tails off.  The boys kept asking to go back to the bus, but  Mark and I insisted that they wait until we could see the sun.  The view was incredible!

After another scenic overlook and a bathroom stop, we got the bikes and hit the road.  Elliot’s bike at home has coaster brakes (where you turn the pedals backwards to stop), so he had to get used to the hand grip brakes.  At first he got the front and rear brakes confused and immediately flipped over, but he got it figured out soon after that.

Then the fun began!  The road down Haleakala is steep and winding!  We got on the bikes at 6500 feet  (the National Park Service doesn’t allow the bike tour companies to ride inside the park).  In the first 10 miles, we dropped 3000 feet!  That’s steep! We did not want to get out of control and run into oncoming tour buses, so we stopped from time to time and kept a moderate speed, but at times we went over 30 miles per hour.  At one point Elliot’s rear brake malfunctioned, and when he tried to stop with the rest of the group, he flipped over the handlebars in a dramatic wreck.  Thankfully he was unharmed.  Also thankfully some of the bike shop guys were nearby and were able to come fix Elliot’s brakes.

We decided that watching the sunrise at 9745 feet was the highest elevation Elliot has ever topped.  It was also the longest bike ride for him–about 22 miles.  He’s probably not yet ready to try riding up the mountain–but maybe next time.

Here’s a slideshow with more photos from their adventure:

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A Day of Travel

A little glimpse of traveling with my special needs children . . . .  Don’t hear me complaining because I am not at all. I’m just giving a peek to the “backstage” of traveling with us!  🙂  And please understand that we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our vacation — well, okay, the hour that we lost Zippy wasn’t enjoyable, but the rest of the trip we LOVED!  And we didn’t feel left out or trapped or inconvenienced — we were just doing life while on a great vacation on a beautiful island.  I just thought I would let you in on some of the reality of our stuff.  Ready?

The Flight

Getting to Hawaii is an 8 hour flight from DFW.  My children have always been good, easy travelers so I wasn’t very concerned about the flight.  I packed Chloe some noise making toys but was careful not to pack any really loud noise making toys that didn’t have a volume control.  Paul loaded the iPod with some entertainment for her.  I added some diapers and wipes and some food for her, and she was ready to go.

The boys’ Nintendo DSs were charged and ready.  Elliot took a book; Zippy took some Power Rangers toys.  I filled their backpacks with snacks and zipped them closed.  I knew that they would also have their cousins to entertain them –plus the TV on the plane and their turn with the iPod.

Carry-ons done.  Check.  No problem.

Since Chloe eats baby food and drinks at least 3 cans of Pediasure a day, we decided to mail some of her supplies to our hotel.  We sent two flat rate boxes filled with diapers, Pediasure, cereal, and swim diapers.  They were waiting for us when we arrived at the hotel.

We packed one big suitcase to check, and then we each had a carryon bag to pull and a backpack to carry.  Elliot, recognizing on his own that pulling a suitcase while carrying a backpack would probably prove to be too much for Zachary, took it upon himself to pull 2 carryon bags behind him.  I love that he knows our limits and jumps in to help without being asked!

We took advantage of pre-boarding.  We were the first ones on the plane and had a chance to get our clan settled before the masses started boarding.  (I actually always took advantage of pre-boarding when I traveled with the kids when they were younger.  I think a parent traveling by himself or herself with small babies deserves a little extra time and help when getting settled for a flight.  Even traveling with just Zippy today, I would pre-board since there is no telling how he would do with the crowding, the noise, the standing and waiting, etc.)  We took Chloe’s wheelchair and her carseat.  We checked the wheelchair at the door of the plane, and it was there waiting on us when we got off the plane in Hawaii.  Chloe sat in her carseat on the plane and in the rented vans after we arrived.

The flight was so easy and so uneventful.  All 3 kids did a great job!  Actually, all 10 kids did a great job!

The biggest challenge on the plane (which wasn’t a challenge at all since we had so many seats) was changing Chloe’s diaper.  On an 8 hour flight, she would, of course, need a diaper change or two.  The plane had a small “changing table” in the lavatory, but it was not useful for a 3 foot tall, nearly 50 pound child.  My solution?  I kicked a couple of cousins out of their seats for a minute and stretched Chloe across those seats — hiney facing the window for privacy — and changed her diaper.  No problem.  But I wondered what parents of grown children do when their children need a diaper change on the plane.  Anyone have experience with that?

Arriving in Hawaii

We were all so excited to finally arrive in Maui!  The airport was all open-air!  We were inside, yet outside.  We were outside, yet inside.  Very cool!  We wondered with one of the uncles where does the “inside” actually stop and the “outside” really begin. . . .

As soon as we landed, Chloe, of course, needed another diaper change so Paul took her to the nearest restroom with a “changing table.”  Again, with her growing body, these changing tables that hang from the wall will only be useful for a short time for her.  What in the world do parents of bigger kids and grown kids do when it’s time for a diaper change?  When we are at home and are out for the day, I will oftentimes change her diaper in the van, but what are your options when you’re out and about in another state with no van?

Waiting for luggage for 20 people, maneuvering with those 20 people over to the rental car place, sitting and waiting another half-hour or so — all of this after sitting on an airplane for 8 hours — could have been a nightmare with Zippy, but he was awesome!  He certainly had some energy to use up, and not everyone was comfortable with the amount of energy I was allowing him to use, but I was certainly amazed at the great job he did!

When our rented vans arrived, we piled luggage, carseat, and 20 people into the 3 vans and headed off on our Hawaiian adventure!

More Waiting

We arrived at our hotel at around 5PM Hawaiian time.  That means it was around 10PM Texas time.  Two hours past my kids’ bedtime.  It was sunny and beautiful when we arrived at the hotel.  We stayed at the Maui Hyatt Regency Resort.  Entering the atrium of the hotel was a beautiful, breath-taking experience.  Again, it was open-air — inside yet outside!  The wind was blowing through the beautiful, green, lush plants and flowers.  Amazing!

But. . . we waited for an hour to get our rooms.  Again, my kids (and really, all 10 kids) did a fabulous job.

There was some exploring to do; although, we tried not to wander too far off.  We found penguins, parrots, koi, black swans, white swans, and crowned cranes all in the atrium of the hotel!!  Amazing!

Zippy and I played tag in the fancy atrium — again not 100% approved by onlookers, but we do what we have to do.  And they should have been thanking me.  No telling what my little man would’ve been doing if I didn’t keep him moving at this point.

The Evening

The 20 of us quick divided up and went to our rooms.  The announced plan was to put on swim suits and meet downstairs for dinner.

Remember it is nearing 11:30 Texas time.

Zippy was expiring, and Chloe had either been strapped in her carseat or strapped in her wheelchair all. day. long.

So Zach, Chloe, and I stayed up in our room.  Chloe got another diaper change, ate some dinner, and moved all around the room, happy to be fresh and free.  I quickly did some unpacking, getting everything situated.  Zippy rolled and jumped and crashed into every single thing in our room.  He yelled and yelped, talked to himself, and threw himself from bed to bed to floor to bed for close to an hour.  I let him get some very needed movement and sensory input while I watched him destroy our room — our fresh, clean room in a fancy resort.

We gave ample time for the other 17 of our family to be seated, order, wait for their food, and get their food, and then we came down just in time to sit down and eat.  The food was delicious!  I had fish tacos.  We sat with our feet in the sand, watched the sunset, and chatted about our upcoming plans.

After dinner, Paul and Chloe headed up to the room so that Paul could finish putting our room back together  and the boys and their cousins went for a quick swim.  But it was so dark, and Zippy was so tired that we headed up to the room pretty quickly.  Besides, it was past 1AM as far as our bodies knew.

We had ordered a crib for Chloe to sleep in.  She is, of course, at the age of 8, outgrowing cribs, but she feels safer and usually prefers to be closed in like that for sleeping.  (She sleeps in a toddler bed with a bed tent at home.)  However, this time, she wanted nothing to do with the crib so Paul took her to bed with Zippy and him — again winning The Best Daddy in the World award.

The end of day one.  A good, successful, pleasant, and fun one!  So far, so good.  A great start to a great vacation!

Aloha!

This year, Paul’s parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  To celebrate, they took the whole family to Hawaii!  They took 20 of us — 10 adults and 10 kids — to Maui.  What a great time we had!  What a celebration!

I’ll try to recap some of our trip and remember some nuggets to pass along. . . .

But for now, the highlights:

Meme and Papaw!

Traveling with family!

A bike ride down a volcano!

Parasailing!

A wonderful aquarium — the Maui Ocean Center!

Great food!

10 cousins and a bunch of aunts and uncles!

A boat ride — with windows below so we could see the fish, the divers, and the turtle!

A fabulous luau!

Traveling with family!

Blue, blue, amazingly blue water!

A beautiful resort!

A great swimming pool, complete with basketball hoop, waterfalls, a water slide, and a kid’s area!

Sunrises, sunsets, and our toes in the sand!

And there’s certainly more to come . .  . .

We’re Back!

We’re back from an awesome family vacation!  Full details and posts to come, but for now, a little glimpse:


Now!

The Air Bag

Don’t you know it makes a mechanic’s day to get a call or visit from a dork-o lady who doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about?!

I must say I love my mechanic.  Paul and I have taken our cars to him for years.  We have 2 old cars with many, many miles on both.  But because of Duane and his good, honest service, we are still rolling along happily — me in my minivan that I LOVE, and Paul in his convertible that brings him joy!

But this morning my “Air Bag” light started coming on every time I turned in my van.  I was quite alarmed, fearing that the bag would POP out at me at any moment.  I was taken a bit by the happy little ding! my car made each time it flashed the Air Bag warning, nearly stopping my heart each time.  I was having a hard time keeping my van on the road as I tried to drive while staying as far away as possible from my steering wheel to dodge the big o pop of the air bag.

Will it happen this morning?  Will it wait til I’m out this afternoon?  Will this continue for days before the thing finally decides to POP out at me?  I had no idea.

But Duane would know.  So I called him up — which was especially hard to do while trying to keep my car on the road, dodge the steering wheel and the air bag, and dial a phone number, and then have a pleasant phone conversation with Duane.  Thankfully when he answered the phone, I was stopped at a red light so things were a little simpler.  I was for some reason confident that the air bag would not POP out at me while stopped at a red light.

After telling him who I was, I started into my question, ” . . . every time I turn this morning, the. . . . . ummmm. . . . . the uh . . .  . ,” my mind was a blank.  I couldn’t think of “air bag.”  Sheesh.  I tried to continue, ” . . . ummmm, well, the uh . . .  . .  Oh, shoot!  The deal that pops out at you when you have a wreck. . . . ”

Yes, I had said it.  I literally resorted to describing the thing as “the deal that pops out at you when you have a wreck.”

He handled it quite nicely surprisingly.  “You mean the air bag?”

“Yes,” I answered, trying to sound calm, collected, and not altogether stupid.  “Yes.  The “Air Bag” light keeps coming on when I turn.  Is this something that needs immediate attention or can it wait a day or two?”

He told me it could wait.

“So it’s not going to pop out at me unexpectedly?”  I wondered.

“No, it won’t deploy,” he replied.

I had done it again.  Instead of the grown-up, seemingly educated word of ‘deploy’ I had said “pop out at me.”  Lovely.

How he kept a straight, kind face and attitude I’ll never know.  Bless his heart.

Well, bless my heart, actually.

I got off the phone as quickly as possible and continued driving.  Only now I could drive more comfortably knowing that the thing that pops out at you when you have a wreck was not going to pop out at me unexpectedly.

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