Good Times!

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
I've been wanting to get the grandkids all to Nana's house to just play / hang holiday, no yard sale, no other reason........just hang out with family and run and play in the back yard.

(I plan to have as many of these as I can manage this summer)

Weather has messed with such plans a few times, much to Alex's frustration. The other grands love to come to Nana's house, but with Alex it is on an entirely different level.

Nichole and I had made tentative plans for yesterday and kept our eye on the weather. easy child's husband has been buying and fixing up cars as a hobby for a while and he had fixed up one that Nichole and her husband wanted to buy from him......with one of their older cars as trade in. (which sister in law will fix up and sell for profit) She was coming down today to pick it up anyway so gas wasn't an issue. Weather was nice....a bit cool......but nice. Yard had dried up mostly from the rain.

So I go to let Katie answer from Kayla's cell when I text her. (Katie is in the process of changing over phones, leaving Time Warner ect....) I tried calling her house phone because I forgot the whole phone switch over thing included the house phone because she is getting cable shut off. Well........of course no answer. I couldn't get in touch with Katie to finalize the plans.

I was not missing the opportunity. Nichole came down and I told her we'd just go pick them up. Plans were that we were hitting what yard sales there were first anyway. So we go over and bang on the door. Biomom answers......with Kayla coming up behind her all sleepy eyed and half awake. The child was instantly awake when I said yard sale......flew upstairs to get her Mom. lol M and the boys had walked to the 2nd hand video game store. So we went to do yard sales for a while. Then I dropped off Kayla and Nichole so we could go pick up M and the boys for the play date part of the day. They knew nothing about it so it was a complete surprise to them. Alex nearly came out of his skin he was so excited.

We all gather in the backyard. Grown ups visiting on the patio, kids playing in the yard. easy child had to work but sister in law came with Darrin, Brandon, and Connor. So everyone except easy child was there.

Now i have an unconscious habit of observation. I'm a people watcher. I do it even as I visit or whatnot unless I'm super busy. (which is how I catch kids in trouble so easily lol ) No one knows I'm doing it.......and I can do it out of the corner of my eye as easily as looking right at you. I do it with my ears as much as my eyes. Know what I mean??

I had a bit of worry too. This was the first gathering M was involved with since before the falling out after husband passed away. He'd stopped coming to them long before Fred died. I think it was because he felt so "out of place". The man is 47 yrs old. He is not quite literate.....I don't believe his math skills are very good either. He grew up in foster care.....and I don't think he went much past grade school if he went that far. He was with his last foster care mom (old enough to be his grandmother) for quite a while and he doesn't have anything bad to say about her but he doesn't give the impression she attempted to show him "normal" family life. M is also extremely developmentally delayed. Not mentally retarded, although I don't think his IQ is very high (hard to tell with him not being literate ect). But the man is stuck at about age 15. Seriously he is. My new method that allows me to deal with him is that I think of him as that age and then take into account the other things. It keeps my patience level much higher. Well........always before (because Katie has made long habit of making M the bad guy) the girls ignored him and the sils either avoided him or made jokes above his head.....that *might* have registered they were making fun of him without him being able to get the real meaning. Know what I mean?? So I worried how the sils would do. I knew Nichole had been talking about M with her husband but I did not know if easy child had done so.

M was very social. Unlike him in this situation. But then from the moment he got into the car he was included in the conversation. Nichole made it a point not to ignore him and to talk to him. Travis will talk to him, even though it tends to frustrate him. Nichole's husband and easy child's husband did pretty well at neither avoiding him or making fun of him. Pretty sure I spotted them talking to him. Oh, not deep conversation or anything but at least including him or acknowledging him when he spoke. M has a unconscious habit of nearly hunching himself over in an attempt to not be noticed at such gatherings. I kept drawing him out again with this or that and he relaxed after a while. Katie was downright chatty.

The kids, quite simply, had a blast. There was nothing really special for them to do. Oh, well, Nana has plenty of ride on toys, a playhouse, a jungle gym if you are pre-school size but other than make you're own entertainment. Aubrey and Evan are both disappointed they've grown to big for the ride on toys, but they can still play in the house and the jungle gym. Those 2 both 7 yrs old paired off in a surprising friendship yesterday. (Evan usually pairs off with Brandon as his development is lagging somewhat from being babied so long) He played with Brandon did Aubrey but those 2 kids were inseparable. Alex who is taller than I was seriously disappointed he was too big/heavy to play on the toys but cheered up when he discovered he wasn't the only one.......Kayla was also too big and Darrin was more than willing to ignore the jungle gym to play with Alex. The little guys......Brandon, Connor, and Oliver were preoccupied with the ride on cars and each other.

Kayla made me laugh because she's been bragging about being 13 and "all grown up" for weeks. She discovered being all grown up wasn't much fact was rather boring when you told people you were too big to play. lol For a while Alex, Darrin, and Evan were fascinated with Maggie's soccer skills and were playing with her and Rufus. When it came time to start up the grills the dogs were put inside. Next thing we knew Nichole's husband had suddenly started up a kick ball game with the half flat basket ball with all the older kids, including Kayla who decided she wasn't too big for that. lol

Supper was simple. Burgers on the grill with some chips.......koolaide or iced tea. All but the 3 oldest sat at the 2 little tykes tables to eat. Oliver ate his then sort of roamed and ate a bit of everyone elses too. He also snuck bites out of Connor's burger every time he wasn't looking. lol (we were cracking up)

Then back to kick ball for a while until everyone was finished and Nichole's husband ripped out the seat of his shorts. :rofl: Now that was hilarious!! And since he has one hellova sense of humor.....all of us, him included, played it up to the hilt. He wound up with a pair of Travis' shorts that were more than a bit tight.........and Nichole had to scold him because he was back out playing kick ball again and she didn't want a repeat performance. lol

So at that point........came the topper. Travis fired up the fire pit. Yes, I let the blind man do the fire pit. His dad taught him well and oddly enough I can't trust any of the normal vision males with anything to do with fire. lol Nana went in and fetched the marshmellows and the roasting sticks. The kids went bonkers! Evan had never done it truth he'd never been allowed that near a flame before (always too little to be trusted) so he was feeling rather the big kid even as he kept catching his marshmellow on fire and somehow wound up literally covered in marshmellow goo from eating them. They had to take turns as there were only so many sticks. (I need to get more from dollar tree) They did really good at it.

easy child and Nichole's kids had a fabulous time. But then they're used to having fun at Nana's and also having these gatherings where Nana finds a way to make it extra special/fun. For Katie's kids this is their first glimpse at normal family life.......and they are, quite frankly, eating it up. Alex and Evan could not tell me often enough that they were having a wonderful time. Kayla even managed to have a lot of fun while trying to be "grown up" by playing the kick ball and then playing soccer with Maggie when she thought no one was noticing. lol Those kids were on top of the world. Katie and M were laughing and grinning and involved.

I'll tell you what though, my focus yesterday kept going to Alex, who will be 12 next week (think developmentally about 7). Alex looks a LOT like Travis except his hair is blond like his mom's and he has his dad's eyebrows. (Travis is a near carbon copy of his dad except some of my features carried over if you look hard enough) Alex has always had major issues with other children, including his siblings to some degree. He is so far behind his age group (I might be being generous with that 7 yrs approximation) that they normally have trouble relating to him. Add in his undiagnosed cerebral palsy (which is so obvious I could scream) and his autism and the mental retardation and he is all but alienated from other children except when they are forced to interact with him. (thank you integration ugh) Now that he is much older, adults also have issues.

I kept watch over him yesterday without him having a clue. It was not necessary I realized after a short while. But then I watched for a different reason.

You see, Travis was luckier than most kids with his dxes. While he had issues at school and in the neighborhood.......his sibs were taught he is special and to respect him, include him.....that he is just like them, yet different. (not sure how to word that, it is a cultural thing) Travis also has the extended family of our native culture which views him as special and respects him due to that, embraces his specialness. There he was never the odd one out. There were no strange looks. There were no harsh words. There were no preconceived limits place upon him. Among family, both immediate and extended, Travis was truly accepted. It was totally OK to be himself. This, in my opinion, made all the difference in the world in how my son views himself. Home and family were his safe haven from the harsh and often cruel world.

Alex for so many years did not have us. His parents don't even understand him or know what to do with him. His siblings have been taught he is special but not to respect him. He has for as long as he can remember mostly been told what he can not do, instead of what he can do. His home life has been utter chaos for a variety of reasons and there was no security there, no safe haven. The outside world is of course harsh and cruel. His parents solution has been to isolate him from it, instead of teaching him to cope with it. Because they did not know how to cope with it themselves.

Yesterday I watched for the first time Alexander Paul, soon to be 12 yrs old, relax in his environment. There was no shouting, no jumping around, no arm waving, no tripping, bumping stumbling, no in your face behavior. He was relaxed. He was so happy the boy was beaming. His eyes were shining. His grin was ear to ear the entire time he was here. The only thing he was told he couldn't do was play on the little kid toys, but something he could do was quickly found. (and he wasn't the only one who couldn't play on them) No one said "Alex don't......" or "Alex you can't....." or pointed out to him he wasn't acting like a "normal" 12 yr old boy. No one looked at him strangely. Here he belongs. He is just simply part of the family. He can be himself and no one has a problem with it. Here he has, for the first time perhaps since he was very very young, playmates who accept him as just being one of them. Special but the same. Different but not in a bad way. Darrin and Aubrey "get it". They grew up around their uncle Travis and Alex is just a younger more pronounced version. The younger kids follow the lead of the older kids but seem to just get it pretty much the same way. Questions are answered directly and explained age appropriately. Alex is special but Alex is still expected to follow the same rules ect as they special but not "apart from". Know what I mean??

So my heart was happy yesterday. Genuinely happy for the first time since Fred passed. I felt him there among the family watching. Perhaps mother in law too. Maybe even father in law.

M is a different version of Alex due to different life experiences. He did not get the chances Travis had and that Alex is now experiencing. M is a difficult child and is far from perfect. While I'll never forget that........and I do realize something later down the road could crop up to change my opinion.........if I rely just on my observations ect with the man, he is simply an Alex no one gave a d@mn about. He has issues, but he is a man, a difficult child, doing the best he can with what he's got to work with. I've discovered when I keep this in the back of my mind, I can have pleasant conversations with him on his level. And even with M, I see renewed efforts at trying. I can't ask for more than that out of a person.

Katie is coming out of her shell. I have not heard one more "illness" of the kids...........well, ok, Kayla was having an allergic reaction to something a dog rolled in the day before but no big deal and I could see it myself. I waited and waited for her to tell Alex to stop playing kick ball as he was bright red faced and sweating heavily (comes from his papa Fred, poor kid lol) that it would bring on an "asthma attack", but not a peep out of her. And of course not a wheeze out of Alex because he doesn't have asthma. (the yard is as much loose dirt as grass.....weeds.....pets......if there was going to be an attack trust me, he'd have had it) Talk was more normal things. Like M would like the laundry soap recipe. (yes, I've figured out that it is M who is keeping the apartment spotless, katie may help, but he does the main cleaning)

Alex has found his safe haven where he is fully accepted for the person he is. I hope his parents, in particular his mother, does not interfere with that again so the boy can flourish. I did watch them AND him yesterday and I also noticed that for the first time they were not nagging the poor kid to death. In fact......they didn't seem to notice him much at all. in my opinion is a good thing because they over protect / over baby his abilities. Same with Evan, and boy did he enjoy the freedom from their constant nagging. lol

I know easy child refuses to believe Connor is like Alex and Travis. Maybe some day her eyes will open. Connor is developmentally on target with Oliver who is a year younger. In some areas Oliver is gaining on him. I have trouble remembering Connor will be 3 come August, not 2. Yet Connor is making progress......just slowly. He's such a sweetie pie. But hey, in this family......he fits right in.

I've been in a warm glow since yesterday. I keep seeing Alex's beaming face. If anyone "felt the love" yesterday it was most certainly him. I know the rest of them did too. A totally relaxed happy happy fun day for everyone.

Oh, by the way............this all on Travis' birthday. He is 27. (omg!) It wasn't an "official" celebration........We'd done that a few days before.

Next weekend is Kayla and Alex's birthday bbq at Katie's house. :) Weekend after that is Nichole's birthday bbq at her house. I think it's gonna be a busy busy summer. LOL


There are so few safe havens for our difficult children I'm glad your Alex has found one at your home.


Well-Known Member
Travis fired up the fire pit. Yes, I let the blind man do the fire pit
Lisa... Travis is NOT blind. He is severely visually impaired.
I have friends who are severely visually impaired... and friends who are blind.
My blind friends don't even have a sense of light and darkness. Travis has a lot more than that!

Having said that... I'd trust my blind friends (and the visually impaired ones) to set up the fire pit. They are extremely careful, detailed in preparation, and particular. Just need somebody to watch out for sparks...