Cruising and Health

Sorry for the lengthy break…we were a bit overwhelmed with preparing for the trip, wrapping up school projects, dealing with my brother being hospitalized just before we were to leave.  We left the Saturday before Thanksgiving to do Sunday and Monday morning in the parks before heading over to get on the Disney Cruise we had booked back in February. Things kind of fell apart at that point.

Mickey spent the first six months adamantly refusing to get on the boat.  The last three months he has started to go between excited and scared to death. The psychiatrist gave us Ativan to calm his anxiety (and I have to say our experience with it was not great).   Uncle (as Minnie and Mickey call him) was hospitalized Thursday evening with pneumonia.  Grandpa was recovering from bronchitis and our cruise was definitely looking like it might be in jeopardy.  But, we went ahead and headed down to the parks as planned.  Uncle was slated to be released sometime Saturday and we were hopeful, but it was not to be.

We spent Sunday at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom and we kept crossing our fingers that they would release Uncle from the hospital in time to drive down with my parents.  But, they didn’t and told him it would be at least another day.  Mom and Dad went ahead and headed down.  We bypassed our Monday morning plans and headed on over to Port Canaveral Sunday evening.

Uncle was being kept in the hospital, not because of his pneumonia, but because his kidney function was dangerously low.  This has been an ongoing concern for him, with his type I diabetes. He has been struggling for the last year or so, but it had been well controlled with medication.  Unfortunately the medication wasn’t doing the trick this time.  On Monday afternoon they installed a temporary port for dialysis.

This was particularly hard on my mom – she didn’t like being so far from her son when he was ill.  I didn’t enjoy it either, but he insisted that we go and he promised to email us regular updates.  I purchased a data package onboard and we began our cruise.  Mickey did ok, but the Ativan kind of made him a mess.  Monday was just not good.  He lost his cool at dinner and stormed off.  I have to say none of this was ideal – the meds made him whiney and kind of glazed – the plan fell apart when Uncle wasn’t there, Grandpa was not feeling great and Grandma was not in the best of moods, while worrying about her son.

Tuesday was somewhat better, but there was some residual annoyance by my mother with Mickey.  My mom is awesome.  She loves her children and grandchildren very much, but she deals with Mickey in smaller doses and she is not known for her patience.  When we were children, we were expected to behave – most especially in public.  There was no room for screwing up.  It was not always the easiest of childhoods and perfection was the expectation when it came to behavior.  She expects it of my children too, and even though she understands Mickey’s challenges, living with them is on me, and she understands them from afar.

This cruise put them in close proximity, he embarrassed her with his meltdown on night one and it put a damper on the rest of the trip.  Add to that my father was not well enough to be on the trip.  He wasn’t breathing well and just walking from one side of the ship to the other was wearing him out (his O2 stats were very low).  My mom is also still recovering from knee surgery and this would be the most walking she had done in months and she was sore and not always particularly comfortable.

I actually think Mickey did ok.  His behavior got better as the week went on and his anxiety lessened – Monday sucked, Tuesday he tried the kids club briefly and we went out to the Bahamas and shopped a little in the market.  Wed was decent, though he got angry about something at Castaway Cay and my mom called it a day, so that wasn’t good, but the rest of the day went fine  Thursday he did very well though.  Minnie had a blast.  I missed my buddy, my brother.  It was supposed to be an opportunity for us to spend some time together – we had adjoining rooms with my parents so they could keep an eye on the kids after they went to bed and he and I could go out.  But, instead, I sipped cocktails alone on the adult deck.  Not the cruise any of us had planned.

Disney does an amazing cruise. Mickey and Minnie loved the time they spent in the kids club. Castaway Cay was beautiful.  The food was amazing.  Would I do another Disney cruise? Yes.  Would I do it with my parents? That I am not sure of.  I am used to dealing with Mickey – I don’t take everything so personally, and I don’t know that my mother will ever be comfortable enough with Mickey’s challenges to deal with him in such close proximity for an extended period of time.  We had a bit of a blow out because of it. Perhaps if there weren’t so many external forces at play with her worry over my brother and my dad and not being in pain herself, she might have been better equipped to deal with it.  But, I am not sure.  Another trip, Mickey knows what to expect, so his comfort level would be better earlier, and maybe everything would have been different?  I don’t know….it just wasn’t the trip we had hoped and saved for for all those months.

The kids and I went back to Disney for Friday to see the Osborne Family lights one last time and we headed home Friday night.  They installed a permanent dialysis port for my brother, but we are still hoping the dialysis is temporary, but I am not so sure that is looking good.

Sorry this was such a depressing post – parts of the trip were amazing and I had tons of time to reflect on what I am thankful for, so I will end this post with that and a wish that all of you were able to reflect on the things that you are thankful for this season:

  1. My family – all of them and all of their imperfections.  I am the person I am because of my parents and my brother and I am able to be a single parent because of their support. My children are my everything – even when they drive me nuts – they are my biggest pride and joy.  My aunts, uncles, cousins, niece and nephews – they are all a little crazy and keep my life endlessly interesting
  2. Mickey’s progress – each and every day he overcomes obstacles and challenges.  I see them all the time – even the bad days, and I am grateful for the therapists and the people that have helped him along the way
  3. My job – which is challenging and interesting and affords me the ability to support my family and be at activities and appointments when needed
  4. Our pets – Mason and Sherbert – both high maintenance, both spoiled rotten and both make our family better by being part of it.
  5. A roof over our heads, a reliable car in the driveway (and a less reliable one too), the resources to provide Disney and dance and therapies for my son.
  6. Health – mine and my children’s.  My good health will likely make me the one person that can donate the kidney that my brother will likely need.  It is my hope that I can get healthier so that I can do that for my brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Feast Follow Up

So, why did Mickey want me to be presentable?  Why was is it so important to him that he even asked his teacher to email me a reminder to be presentable (she refused and pointed out it was somewhat rude to imply that I wasn’t normally presentable)?  It was all for D – his girlfriend of almost a year.

A little history on Mickey and D – he was almost instantly smitten with her when she joined his class at the beginning of 3rd grade.  She is a very sweet girl and Mickey connected with her.  She has severe anxiety and at first she drove him nuts with it, but in time, he took to trying to help her work through her anxiety.  He isn’t always successful, but he tries.  His teacher says that Mickey has been great for D and she credits their friendship with her opening up and coping better – so much better that she now has a best friend and a boyfriend.  To be clear, they are 9/10 and this boyfriend girlfriend thing amuses me greatly, but Mickey is very, very serious about it.

Back in the fall/early winter of last year, D started calling and she and Mickey talked on the phone almost daily.  The conversations have provided me hours of entertainment – as two children who are both socially awkward converse there is lots of talking over each other, very long silences, abrupt ends to conversations and the topics are fascinating (playdates with cats, lollaloopsy, Scooby Doo, lizards, etc) and moved through with dizzying speed.

I picked Mickey up from school one day last fall and he said “Momma, how do you know when you are in love?” Me being the resident expert on love (not), I responded with “why?”.  He told me his tummy feels funny when she is around and that she is the happiest part of his day.  That sounds like love to me.  I asked what about her he loved and his response is the reason my kid is awesome.  “She is smart. She is beautiful. She is elegant.  She is just the best girl in the world and I love her”.  So we talked about what it means and he talked to her dad about asking her to be his girlfriend (he did that on his own because he was afraid that asking her might trigger her anxiety so he wanted to make sure it was ok).  With her father’s permission he asked her and she said yes.  A year later, they are still going strong.  The words “my girlfriend” roll off his tongue with an ease that I am not comfortable with, but they never see each other outside of school and he says he isn’t ready to kiss her and holding hands at school is forbidden, so it is all very benign.

So, why did I have to be presentable?  He had a social problem he needed help with and he decided the feast was the opportunity he had been waiting on….and I needed to look pretty for his girlfriend. Apparently Mickey has been struggling with D and her best friend E.  He gets along well with E and counts her among his best friends too, but he said “It isn’t good when the three of us are together – it is fine if it is me and E or me and D, but when it is all three D gets mad”. I asked why and he said “D says me and E talk over her and we don’t listen to her”. This is big because he wanted to know how to fix this.  He listened to her tell him what she needed and he wanted to do that.

So, we sat separately at the feast until we worked out a plan.  Then he went and asked E and D and their families if we could join them.  We did and I was to tap his shoulder when he and E started talking over D (which happened quite a bit).  I tapped his shoulder and he turned to D and said “I’m sorry D, what were you saying”.  This allowed D to talk and be included in the conversation.  He did well.  He was so excited when he came home and D said that she had fun with he and E that day.

This is yet another social skill that is starting to emerge.  He adores D, he listened to D tell him what she needed and he tried to fix this.  I love that he plotted his little plan to enlist my help. So, while I am not ready for my 10 year old to be in a relationship with girls, they are both feeling their way through social awkwardness together and while we have known for a while that Mickey is good for D, I now see that D is also good for Mickey.

 

Presentable

Just when I thought the week would be quiet, I get this phone call.

Phone call from Mickey: Mom, you know my thanksgiving feast tomorrow?
Me: yes, what about it?
Mickey: I need you to look presentable.
Me: excuse me?
Mickey: you know, a fancy shirt and makeup and stuff. Presentable and pretty.
Me: uhmmm….as opposed to?
Mickey: you know – regular you.
Kids will keep you humble lol

Since you guys don’t know me, I feel it necessary to say that I have never gone to his school in my standard weekend uniform of fleece, ponytails and hoodies – I don’t even go to the grocery store like that, unless the circumstances are dire. I asked him what he wanted me to wear and he suggested jeans and shirt I would wear to work or a Disney shirt (?).  No ponytail and “all the makeup”.  I choose to assume he means eyeliner and stuff and not that I need all the makeup I have to be presentable.

I am laughing too hard to be offended.  Minnie told me I was beautiful in my fleece and ponytail, so at least I have her to counter his brutal honesty. Parenting is fun and sometimes tough on the ego 🙂

Quiet weeks and rain

The kids are driving me up a wall – 10 consecutive days of rain will do that. Today is the first sign of sunshine, though everything is still soggy, I am grateful to see that giant orb of orange-yellow in the sky.  My home is being appraised next week for a refinance, so we have a ton of work to do over the next several days – along with packing, finishing Disney shirts for our cruise, a giant social studies project, yard work (gutter cleaning, bush trimming etc).  And a basement de-flooding – oh yeah, that happened too.  October was a very soggy month.  November hasn’t had a dry day until today.  My basement has been waterproofed – twice.  And yet, Dehumidifiers and fans have been running steadily in the basement since Sunday to dry up the inch or so of water that accumulated down there (and that is with a sump pump).

Special needs executive meeting for our school board has been called for this week, and I was invited (though I have no idea why). Release weekend at work, means I am slammed there too. My brother’s best friend since childhood is getting married Saturday, so I get a grown up night out.  Nutcracker, boy scouts, girl scouts and dance classes are chugging along.  Minnie’s grades are improving, Mickey’s behavior has been pretty good, so I don’t have anything terribly exciting or interesting to report.  Just living and all the fun stuff that comes with it.  We leave on vacation in 11 days and I am overwhelmed with my to-do list.  If anything exciting comes up, I will update you, but otherwise it may be quiet around here for the next two weeks or so.

Poetry and Peace

The week has been relatively quiet.  We are gearing up for our cruise, and that has Mickey both excited and somewhat anxious as the kids eagerly check the countdown on my phone. I am budgeting and planning and making lists.  I have all travel documentation, save one critical piece for Minnie.  I have fast passes and dining reservations booked for our wrap around Disney trip.  I have a hotel booked for the first leg of the trip, but not the second, etc.  School Thanksgiving feasts are being planned.  The kids even went through a wish book for Christmas gifts, so I guess we have even kind of started that. I am still working on our t-shirt designs for matching family shirts – and let me assure you, my brother is less than amused by this prospect.  His annoyance quite possibly could be blamed for my adding a 3rd shirt to the two I had planned on doing.  One is pirate Mickey shirts for pirate night, and one is a family Disney Cruise shirt for us to wear the day we embark on the ship.  I kind of love/hate matching shirts – cute for pictures, but annoying in general, but my kids think it is awesome that Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and Mom are going to match them. I do tend to do matching shirts for the kids on special occasions, but it is pretty rare that a grown up matches them too. I added matching Mickey/Minnie head pocket Ts too. My brother will be thrilled 🙂

After the candy fallout over the weekend and a rough behavior morning on Monday, behavior has been pretty much back to normal – for both kids.  Minnie is working hard on her poem for her poetry recitation contest at school.  So that you can appreciate my daughter’s flare for the dramatic, here is what she said to me last night

Me: Minnie, did you work on your poem today?

Minnie: Yes, I practiced it lots

Me: Can I hear it?

Minnie: Well, I only know the first 4 lines and the last 2 lines.  But, I perfected my arm movements, my voice and my finish

Me: That is great, but you need to know the poem….wait, what finish?

Minnie: First I do a twirl, then a bow and then I blow kisses to my audience.  They will love it.

This is Minnie.  Dramatic, artistic and adores being on stage.  When she showed me her gestures and her finish, I have to say I was impressed.  But, she still needs to memorize the other 6 lines of the poem.  She picked the poem, and it is also typical Minnie.  She loves worms (and all living things) and when I offered her 10 animal themed poems to pick from, this was her choice:

The Worm

BY RALPH BERGENGREN

When the earth is turned in spring
The worms are fat as anything.
And birds come flying all around
To eat the worms right off the ground.
They like the worms just as much as I
Like bread and milk and apple pie.
And once, when I was very young,
I put a worm right on my tongue.
I didn’t like the taste a bit,
And so I didn’t swallow it.
But oh, it makes my Mother squirm
Because she thinks I ate that worm!

Halloween and the aftermath

Halloween went off without a hitch.  We had a very busy day yesterday starting with dance class in costume.  If you haven’t seen Yoda dancing ballet you just haven’t lived.  They did a little Halloween number at the end of class.  Seeing Mickey dance as Yoda alongside Minnie as Elsa, a Minnie Mouse and another Elsa, was so much fun.

Minnie’s Elsa costume, that we purchased at Disney had a little mishap last weekend.  She attended a Halloween party at the neighbor’s house.  It was a costume party, but the mother of the party hostess, decided that it would be a good idea to have the kids paint pumpkins, in their costumes, with non-washable paint.  I spent the next three days trying to get black and gray glitter paint out of an Elsa dress. I mostly salvaged the dress, with a couple of areas on the mesh sleeves and disaster averted.

After dance we ran around searching for stuffed cats for my crazy cat lady costume.  We went to Nutcracker, we attended a local Halloween festival, where Mickey was absolutely shocked that his Yoda costume did not win first place.  We trick or treated and then went to a friend’s Halloween party. This party normally has several kids, but it didn’t this year.  Minnie fell asleep within an hour. Mickey got to practice his rock star tendencies by entertaining a captive audience of adults playing rock band.  He sang, he played guitar and drums.  He wowed them with his musical knowledge and the adults had a blast playing Rock Band with him.  He said it was the best night ever.

We followed that up with disrupted schedule today because of the time change combined with less sleep and too much candy that he sneaked.  Sugar makes Mickey angry and aggressive.  We limit his sugar consumption drastically for that reason.  He got up this morning and found his candy and ate a ton.  We then spent the next several hours battling a very very aggressive Mickey.  He screamed, he slammed his door repeatedly, he attacked Minnie and screamed in my ear.  He then took a nap and woke up back to his usual self.  I have never been a fan of Halloween (at least not since I was a little kid). I have locked the candy in the car to keep that from happening again. I so wish he could just have some of the candy and be good to go, but that is not our life.

So, the day was good, the aftermath – not so much. Candy is evil.  I will do my part by helping to consume the evil and take the rest to work.  I will pick out some of his favorites and dole it out in small doses for both kids (just out of fairness). I generally restrict Mickey’s sugar consumption to a treat before bedtime, because he doesn’t have time to get angry after eating it.  We generally restrict dyes too because some seem to trigger the same way as sugar.  Combine sugar and dye and we get what happened today. A small homemade cupcake isn’t as bad as a couple of jolly ranchers.  The upside is that the kids made bags of Grandma and Grandpa’s favorites for them.  They each also did up baggies of their teacher’s favorites to take to them.  They doled out their own candy to the trick or treaters that stopped by early before we headed out for the evening.

They are both really sweet kids, which is why mornings like we had always shock me.  The anger, the scared look in Minnie’s face when he lashes out on her, not thirty minutes after they had been playing together so nicely, all still shock me.  It isn’t my sweet boy. It is too rapid for coping skills and it is too volatile to accurately explain.  It lasted a while, though most of that was in his room with a lot of stomping going on.  He is only about 4.5 inches shorter than I am now, and these incidents scare me for the time when I can’t physically pull him off of her, as I had to today. She is fine, by the way.  While he gets very angry and can hurt someone, he is so out of control that when he is hitting someone he is not focused and his punches missed and hit the chair more than her.

I hope your Halloween was good.  My mom and I were commenting this morning about how exciting it was that Mickey’s behavior had turned around and he was able to enjoy the day so much.  Two out of the four years I have had him, he has not been able to trick or treat because of horrid behavior the weeks leading up to Halloween.  This year was the opposite.  We saw a rough start to the fall, but October has been heading in a very positive direction.  I hope it holds through November and our Disney Cruise later this month. I am blaming this morning on the sugar, and we are going to keep fingers crossed that we continue to see progress.