Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bring It On, Year Five!...

This year for Gavin's birthday, I decided to not worry too much about the "typical" stuff - and do all the things that HE appreciates.  Like wrapping his presents.  If I forced him to sit and unwrap - he'd try to force himself out of my lap.  It would feel too much like "therapy" to him.  Not fun.  So I just presented him with all the gifts unopened - no work required.

And when we decided not to go to the beach and were trying to come up with other ideas...we wanted to pick something that we knew Gavin would like.  We could have spent the day at the Zoo - but that would have been more of a "Brian" trip.  The Aquarium?  Same thing.  We had to do something that involved rides and lights and music - Dutch Wonderland was the perfect choice.  (See yesterday's post!)

But there's one thing that I just can't quit.  Something that is NOT about Gavin at all.  As a matter of fact - it's something he could have skipped every year and not cared one bit.

A cake.
I present to you - Gavin's Ocean Themed cake!!  This year he was all about the ocean.  This year he was also NOT all about the cake.  (But for the record - it was an amazing cake.  I expect Buddy from Cake Boss to be calling me once he sees my blog)

Notice the details:  Mommy in the shade holding her sunscreen.  A sailboat in the water.  Gavin sitting in the ocean unattended while I read People magazine.
If you're wondering, Ed and Brian weren't available as miniature replicas.  Maybe next year they'll make the cut.

Since it's not a birthday without Granny, she came over to celebrate with us!  Actually, she came with dinner!!  (Note to self:  invite Granny over more often)  The birthday boy was so happy to see her when she got here...especially since I had accidentally left him outside in the tree.
Whoopsie!  Thanks, Mom!
 Brian was thrilled to see his Granny, too, and asked her to read his current favorite book to him: "Froggy Learns to Swim."  Watching my Mom read to him with dramatic enthusiasm and seeing the smile on his face reminded me why I always felt like I had the best Mom.  You could replace little Brian with a little Kate twenty years ago (work with me here, ok?) and she'd have the same enthusiastic, happy face.  
 She got right in there playing with one of Gavin's birthday gifts - Elefun!  It's an adorable game - the elephant blows butterflies out of it's long trunk and kids try to catch them with their little nets.  Gavin gets a kick out of watching the butterflies flying around.  Thanks to our generous neighbor friends, Patti and Patrick and their kids, Seamus and Molly for the awesome present!!
Gavin was all giggles the entire day.  And when the cake came and it was time to blow out the candles, he laughed and laughed and laughed.  The cake is really for us.  Although Gavin doesn't really like to eat sweets (or solids!) - we would just feel funny not celebrating (and photographing) his birthday without one.
 He stuck his fingers right in the icing, though!  He gets that from his Dad.
Of all the presents Gavin received this year, I think it was Miss Sara that wins the prize for best gift of the year.  No, it wasn't the awesome piano toy that Gavin can easily push to play...
It wasn't the cool outfits for Fall from her and her parents...or the suction cup spin toy that just might encourage him to use that left hand to spin it during meals... (seriously - she doesn't miss a thing!)
 It was his card.  The BEST CARD EVER.
I wish I had captured a better photo - but he was so happy and excited that he wouldn't stay still.  The card plays the opening theme of Gavin's favorite show - Little Einstein.  We've opened and closed that card at least fifty times since Friday.
Over the weekend, my Facebook wall was flooded with well wishes for Gavin on his special day.  It amazes me daily how many of you are invested in my child.  I don't take the love, support, prayers and positive thoughts you send his way for granted.  It means more to me than I could ever explain.  Gavin captured our heart as soon as he came into this world.  He is such an easy child to love.  Thank you to all of you for loving him, too.

Here we go, year five!  I can't wait to see what lies ahead...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Turning Five...

Happy Birthday to our sweet and mellow son, Gavin.
You are the child who made us a Mom and a Dad for the first time.
 You are the child that left us wondering - can we do this?  Can we manage all of these issues with unknown causes day in and day out?  The answer?
Because you led the way.  And we'd follow you anywhere.  Your many issues may keep us up...but they'll never keep us down.
 You are the child that people call an "old soul."  You have an inner wisdom that belies your five years.
 I know you know more than you can tell us, Gavin.  And someday, I can't wait for you to tell me off. Like, "MOM!  Why did you put Brian and me in matching clothes all the time!!???!!"
And I'll say, "Not always!  See??" and present these photos as evidence.
You are the child that changed me.  You brought determination, instant "mommy confidence" and patience out of me.  You helped me appreciate the little things so much more.
 You are the child that helped me conquer the obsessive fear over your future that was keeping me from enjoying each day with you.  You are just so easy to love.  So easy to please.  So easy to be with.
 I really enjoy your company, Gavin.  You are a very special little boy.
 You are the child who, five years ago today, prompted many people to predict many things.  Good, bad, very bad and indifferent.
 None of that matters.  And I'll tell every future parent, every new parent, every old parent - the only person you should listen to is your child.  You knew better than anyone what you were capable of - and what you weren't.  You have done everything in your own time...and I know you always will.
And that's okay with us, Gavin.  We'll give you all the time you need.

This morning, you woke up five!
 You came downstairs to find all kinds of presents at your seat at the breakfast table.
You were pretty excited... 
 Because of poor weather, we decided not to go to Ocean City as we had planned.  Too long of a drive to take a chance.  So we took you to Dutch Wonderland instead!!  It's out in Amish country - and you even got to meet two (not so friendly looking) Amish people!
We had a lot of fun going on rides and walking around the park on a gorgeous Fall day.  
Okay - maybe I had a little too much fun.
 I was very proud of you!!  On the car ride, you actually followed your brother's lead and held onto the steering wheel and turned it back and forth!
 And when Brian didn't want to go on the puppy ride with you, I took a chance and let you go by yourself.  Not only that, there was no rug gripper under your behind - and no strap around your chest.  Just a flimsy strap and the ride was FAST!  You had a ball!!
And then you and I went on a crazy, CRAZY ride.  Daddy called it the "Mini Tower of Terror."  You and I called it AWESOME!  Check it out...
But my favorite part of the day was riding with you on the Merry Go Round.  Once again - no rug gripper and the horses didn't have any straps.  Oh, and the merry go round was fast - AND we picked a horse that went up and down.  This required a lot of you.  I held on to your hips, but you did the rest of the work - and it was not easy!!  You sure made it look easy, though.  You make everything look easy - and you always look so super cool doing it.
I hope you enjoyed your birthday, Gavin.  And I hope that your fifth year brings lots of fun adventures and new friendships.  Mommy and Daddy are so very proud of you!

Happy birthday, Bugaboo!  
Love, Mommy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Unbreakable Bond...

Gavin and Brian's relationship has taken a sweet turn.
Each morning when he wakes up, Brian wants to run into Gavin's room and help unzip his tent bed.  He says "Good morning, Gavin!  How are you today?  How did you sleep?  Okay?  It's sunny today!"

And then at bedtime, invariably, he wants me to stop reading him a book if he hears Gavin cough or make a sound from his bed.  "Mama, go see if Gavin is okay and then come back."
If I open the basement door, I hear "Mama, close the door.  We don't want Gavin to fall down the stairs!"  And if I am changing Gavin's diaper, he'll often carry over a toy for him.  If I ever had a fear about their relationship - it's slowly being erased.  I know they will always have an unbreakable bond.
The other day at school, Brian's teacher was talking to the class about feelings.  One day, the feeling they focused on was "happy" and they talked about what makes all of them happy.  Each student was given a blank face and they were asked to turn it into their version of a happy face - and to write what or who makes them happy.  This is what Brian did...
I know that Brian will likely have a instinctive draw towards and compassion for people with special needs because of his brother.  I already see it.  There is a little boy with Down Syndrome in his class and he gravitates towards Brian.  This morning when I dropped him off, he took this little boys hand to walk him into school.  I'm so proud of his sweet heart.
Gavin continues to do so well in school!  I have been getting wonderful updates that he's cruising around in his walker and attempting to feed himself and participating in some of the activities.  Everyone is so impressed with him!!  Before he started school, I worked a lot with him in the evening in his walker - I would just let him go and let him figure it out if he got himself into a jam.  I'd like to say this was a brilliant move to foster independence...but it was really out of necessity.  Bending over to hold onto his walker was killing my back!  Check out how well he's doing....and pardon him for his lack of pants.  Ha ha!
In two days (TWO DAYS!!), my little baby will be five years old.  I just can't believe it.  Our plans to go to the beach and boardwalk in New Jersey are up in the air at the moment.  The forecast shows rain two out of the three days...
I'd rather not sit in a room staring at each other while it's raining outside.  We can do that at home!  It's possible we may go down Saturday and come home Sunday...but we'll see.  I'm very excited to test out Gavin's new travel bed!  Granny was generous to buy it for Gavin for his birthday and Christmas present.  A twin mattress fits inside of it - and then the tent straps to the bedframe.  
 If we go to a hotel (where a twin bed is hard to come by!), we can just bring a twin air mattress with us.  We'll no longer have to worry about Gavin falling out of a bed...and we won't have to travel with a full size crib anymore.  I'm so excited - this will open up so many more traveling opportunities.  The bed is called a Nickel Bed Tent by Ready, Set, Bloom!  It was invented out of necessity by a family with an autistic son.  I love supporting other special needs families!!
 Whatever we end up doing for Gavin's birthday, it will be awesome.  His second present (after the tent bed!) rolled in yesterday.  My friend, Julie (who took the photos in my current header!), sent this awesome trucker hat for Gavin.  Is this hilarious, or what???  And so thoughtful!!
And tomorrow, Miss Sara, Gavin and I will be taking a road trip to pick up this bad boy...
(other family not included)
I found it on Craig's List an hour away and it was exactly what I was looking for.  The slide is adjustable to accomodate a child up to age 8!  And there are several ways to climb up onto it - which will be great fun and great practice for Gavin all winter.  All winter?  Why, yes...because I'll be putting this in our living room.  Because a living room is for living.  Living large.  That's how we roll.  Let's face it, it's not like we'll be having the mayor for tea anytime soon.  Or the Queen.  (Or anyone!)  We're going to do some big, fun, living around here from now on.  Jumping in puddles kind of living.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love Bombing...

I'm finding that I'm slowly getting used to our new life.  The much earlier wake up call, the brisk Fall air as we wait in the driveway for the bus that takes Gavin to school, the time alone with Brian after he comes home from school and then picking up Gavin and Miss Sara at the end of their day.

The only thing that I still struggle with - the second hand account of Gavin's day.

Make no mistake.  Miss Sara give me the second by second account.  She knows I love details and she warms my heart with her stories of their day on the way home in the car.  I'm so grateful for her.  She takes this so you can see by her outfit.  She is one sharp dresser, let me tell you.
And this school experience would not be the same - for Gavin or for me - without her there with him.   I will always be grateful to the county, Gavin's service coordinator, the school and his teacher for saying YES to me when I asked if Sara could accompany him.  

It's just weird to hear everything on the sidelines, that's all.  But just like I do with everything I am handed - I'll get over this, too.

If you read the comments at all after some of my blog posts, you may have caught one that was posted this morning.  It was in response to my approach to Brian's recent behaviors.  I decided that there must be a reason behind his behavior.  It didn't feel right to me to "punish him" at all, so I took him on a date and "love bombed" him as I called it.  Little did I know, "love bombing" is a thing!  A lovely commenter from Switzerland wrote:

Hi Kate

this is what you've been doing with Brian, right: Oliver James:  Love Bombing Children

and it totally seems to work, congrats.
a from Switzerland

And can I just say - Holy Cow!  People are reading my journal entries in SWITZERLAND??  How cool is that!  Thank you, Regine, for the kind comment and sharing the work of Oliver James with me.  But mostly, thank you for validating me!  Let's face it - we all make up this parenting thing as we go along.  And we're all scared to death that we're going to somehow screw up our kids royally.  Oh, what's that?  Ok - maybe that's just me.  Either way - parenting is a wild ride.  Everyone finds their own way and what works for their families.  And love bombing Brian the other day really transformed him.  Each day when we get home from school we now have a new routine.  Whereas before I would get him out of the car and herd him right inside - shoes off - go pee pee - let's eat lunch - keep eating - we need to finish so we can pick up Gavin - he was always resisting.  Why was I in such a hurry?

Now, we get home and immediately it's Brian's world.  He makes the plan and I follow.  "Mommy, chase me!"  ok!  "Mommy, let's play pirates on the playground!"  ok!  "Let's dance."  ok!  And before I know it, he's saying - "Let's have lunch together."  Today, he wanted to eat outside on the deck.
He's been so pleasant to be around since our date - and since I changed the rules a little bit.

I'm very happy (and grateful) to announce that after many, many people searched the internet for "Spin the Beetle" longtime online friend, Serena, found it!  It's a miracle she did - the Ebay seller didn't even list it correctly.  I bought it immediately and can't wait for it to get here!!  Thank you to all of you who searched.  It was so sweet of you to help me!!

The countdown has begun for the big birthday!

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