Dutch Wonderland

I’m painfully behind on posts, but I have a good excuse…. this time of year is crazy!

In May, June and July we celebrated Mothers Day, my birthday, Shane’s birthday, Fathers Day, Caleb & Wyatt’s 4th birthday and Parker’s 1st Birthday! Phew! Not to mention a quick trip to Colorado for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, Shane in Panama & DR for work, a family trip to Colorado for Shane’s sister’s wedding,  my parents visiting for a week and a broken water pipe to make these last 2 months exceptionally busy!

In mid-June, I decided to celebrate Shane’s birthday and Fathers Day all rolled into one epic weekend. Our Saturday morning started out with Wyatt’s last soccer practice of the spring season and Caleb’s last baseball game with the Miracle League.

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After a quick lunch we packed the car for a one night stay in… wait for it… Intercourse, PA! Immature jokes aside, Intercourse is a real place near Lancaster. The town was so cute and there were lots of Amish men and women commuting via horse and buggy and farming with horse-drawn farm equipment! It was quite the sight to see. After taking the kids for a swim in the hotel pool (two adults with 3 kids who can’t swim = difficult & stressful, FYI) we meandered into “town” to find some yummy Pennsylvania Dutch homestyle cooking. We really enjoyed our food at Plain & Fancy and fell in love with Shoofly Pie! The pie filling tastes just like a cinnamon Pop-Tart! So good!

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This was the best pic I could get but is actually quite representative of about 95% of the pics I take.

The funny part about staying in a hotel room with three young kids is that their bedtime is essentially your bedtime, so even though Shane and I had intended to have a bottle of wine in silence when the kids went to bed, we inadvertently fell asleep at the same time they did. Romance!

This was probably for the best because the next day after breakfast we checked out and ventured to Lancaster to spend the day at Dutch Wonderland which is a small amusement park geared toward younger kids. We didn’t know what to expect but we hoped for the best and prayed we wouldn’t be flushing the park fees down the drain if the kids couldn’t/wouldn’t partake in any of the rides. The first ride we found which corresponded with their height freaked them out. It was a little loud, sure, but Shane and I figured they just needed to feel the ride start then they’d have fun. No dice. The operator made us take them off since they were visibly upset and that’s against their policy. Oops. No one said we were winning any parenting awards that day, trust me. Our luck changed with the next (quieter) ride that was slow and cute and the boys liked it and I knew that was all it would take to get them to try other rides.

Wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the day they were riding things that I was definitely too scared to try, like these crazy spinning turtle things!

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Turtle whirl would’ve made me hurl… just sayin’

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Excuse me, sir… you’re way too big for this one.

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It was a brutally hot day so we took lots of breaks and Caleb eventually got too tired to traverse the park in his walker so he was in the stroller with Parker. I have to say they were real champs and we somehow avoided any major meltdowns. We made our way around the entire park and even repeated a few favorite rides before changing into bathing suits and spending the rest of the afternoon at the splash park area of Dutch Wonderland.

Parker "surfing" or rather, just practicing standing up!

Parker “surfing” or rather, just practicing standing up!

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By 4:00 (after being there since 10:00!) we decided to hit the road and make the 2 hour trek home. What a fun mini-getaway for the whole family. The boys definitely have fond memories from their first amusement park visit! I’m just thankful that I have a husband who doesn’t mind the fact that I took him to an amusement park with 3 kids for his birthday and Fathers Day! He’s a keeper!

Posted in Family, Weekend

Spring Sports!

For the first time, we’ve signed up the boys for organized sports. They’ve had swimming lessons every year since they were infants, and this winter they participated in a bowling league, but this is the first team sports they’ve ever played. We wanted each boy to participate in something that was totally their own, so Wyatt is enrolled in soccer and Caleb plays baseball through Miracle League of Montgomery County.

We’ve only started soccer recently so we’re still dealing with some tears from Wyatt during practice. Each week is a difference excuse for the tears, so we’re not sure what’s going on, but I think if we stick with it, he’ll continue to get more comfortable taking orders from a coach and having mom or dad just watching from the sidelines. It’s hard to watch him cry during practice, but we also don’t want to allow him to leave mid-practice or quit the league, so we’re just going to continue talking about soccer in a positive manner and reinforce the fact that this is just for fun and he should just try to have fun and make new friends. Fingers crossed we don’t have any tears this week!

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Caleb is involved with the Miracle League which pairs players with disabilities with volunteers to help them bat, run and field the ball. He seems to really enjoy it, especially because he’s usually paired with middle school little league players. The state-of-the-art field is perfect for kids of all abilities and Caleb can easily use his walker without any obstacles. He’s still learning that running to first base shouldn’t involve a pit stop at the pitcher’s mound! I can’t say enough good things about this organization. It’s really heartwarming to see these kids get the chance to play with the older kids they idolize. I even recognized some of the other parents from our various physical therapy sessions. It was nice to catch up and discuss our kids’ progress, the upcoming school year and current equipment. The only thing that would make this program better would be more volunteers since the kids sometimes outnumber the volunteers! Check out the website for contact info if you feel so inclined. 

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Go Caleb Go!

And don’t look now, but it seems as though little Parker is itching to get in on the sports action!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Spring Visit from Mima & Boppie!

A few weeks ago Shane’s parents came to stay with us for the Easter weekend and as always, we had a jam-packed, fun-filled few days!

We took the kids to Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard, which was lots of fun once we discovered the hay pile in a barn that was protected by the unseasonably cold wind! The boys got to see baby animals and play in the hay.  We learned that “Egg Hunts” weren’t really much of a “hunt” at all seeing as their were hundreds of eggs scattered all over the grass. If only getting them to pick up their toys was this easy! Caleb and Wyatt also had their very first pony ride at Bunnyland!

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Wyatt held onto his hat for the better part of day to ensure it wouldn’t fly away.

 

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We dyed eggs, which was less messy than last year, so that was an improvement. The boys kept wanted to see their eggs long after they had been “deviled” for Easter dinner.

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The Easter bunny left lots of jelly-bean filled eggs for the boys to find and we continued our tradition of having a picnic at a playground on Easter Sunday.

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Shane’s parents got to spend lots of quality time with the boys and of course our boys just loooove their Mima & Boppie so it was pretty much the perfect weekend.DSC_0319

Posted in Uncategorized

Three Years…

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Three years ago, we were concerned that Caleb was 9 months old and still not sitting up independently like Wyatt was. He seemed stiff when I held him sometimes, which we attributed to reflux when he was a newborn. At his 9-month well visit with the pediatrician, I (along with my mother-in-law who was visiting) voiced my concerns about Caleb’s development. I was brushed off as being a worried first-time mom and was reminded that the twins were born 7 weeks early, so it was ok that he still wasn’t sitting and surely he would be sitting soon. I even told her that when I “Googled” some of Caleb’s symptoms, I saw some mentions of cerebral palsy.

“Your son does not have cerebral palsy” she scolded. My blood boils just thinking about her tone and how I was made to feel like some hysterical know-nothing.

We had already scheduled an evaluation with our county’s Infants and Toddlers Program to see if he qualified for services to help him catch up to Wyatt. The therapists from that program said that he definitely qualified for services and encouraged us to see a neurologist. We were skeptical as to why he needed to see a neurologist, but didn’t question it. After all, we were explicitly told by our pediatrician that Caleb would catch up soon.

We had an appointment with the neurologist  later that week and within an hour, we had a diagnosis.

Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy.

Caleb needs an MRI. His CP may or may not affect his cognitive abilities, it’s too early to tell. He will always have cerebral palsy.

There is no cure.

My husband and I were devastated and numb. We dropped Caleb off at daycare and went to eat crappy sushi at a place that still elicits a lump in my throat whenever I drive by. We took turns crying and consoling each other, actual tears in our half-drunken beers. We were never sad because we thought Caleb’s life would be different from the one we envisioned, but rather sad knowing that he would have to work so hard to accomplish what comes so easy to most.

Heart-breaking phone calls to our parents made me realize that recounting information from the doctor was difficult (and thus the idea of writing a blog was born).

Luckily for us, diagnosis day was the worst part of our CP journey and every day has gotten better since. We have learned so much about the disability community, how to be better parents, heck, better human beings. Caleb has taught us that milestones can be whatever you want them to be and should be celebrated regardless of how long they took to achieve. Caleb’s positive attitude, ability to follow instruction and general silliness has set him up for continued successes in physical therapy and in life. Three years later, we are in a good place. Caleb is continuously improving and showing real gains in his journey towards independent mobility. He and Wyatt have a typical brother relationship where they’re best buds one minute and fighting over toys the next. Caleb is the sweetest big brother and loves cuddling (borderline smothering) Baby Parker every chance he gets. He loves school, playing outside, watching Frozen and being a member of our family. He has a great life and it is a pleasure to be his mom.

Actually, it’s an honor to be his mom.

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Posted in Caleb, Cerebral Palsy

Climbing Up the Walls!

We just wrapped up one of the most fun weekends in recent memory. Shane had spent the first half of March traveling for work and all three of our boys had the flu along with a few other infections (eye & ear) sprinkled throughout the time he was gone. The month got off to an awful start, but now that he’s back, we’ve been shifting gears and eagerly awaiting spring and the assorted activities that accompany this time of year.

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We were long overdue for a fun family day where we did something special for the kids, so we decided to check out Climb Zone in Laurel. We were so impressed by this place, I have not been able to stop talking about it since our visit. This place is a huge warehouse that’s converted into an indoor rock climbing gym for kids. We took our family there after Caleb’s physical therapy appointment with the expectation that he might be too tired to do much climbing/playing but he did fantastic.

There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this place. We were there on a weekday so the crowds were nonexistent and the staff were super friendly and attentive. Our instructor Donny was so patient and explained to our 3-year-olds how to hook and un-hook their own harnesses from the hydraulic auto-belay system.

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We, of course, were there to help but the kids were totally independent while climbing and had to use coordination and problem solving to make their way up these awesome pieces of climbable art. Caleb (as a surprise to no one) used his upper body to hoist himself up the wall and actually got up quite far before making his way down. Wyatt on the other hand was a little more nervous about being out of my reach so he didn’t make it too far, but I bet he’ll just become more and more comfortable as he gets a bit bigger.

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The admission fee allows for a 3-hour window of unlimited climbing and access to their 3 HUGE bounce house and slides. I think we definitely got our money’s worth out of those features. The twins just loved it. Because it wasn’t crowded at all, I snuck into the bounce castle and had some totally unbridled fun by jumping around and pretending I was a kid again. It was awesome.

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Even Parker had his own very special place to play and practice his new crawling abilities!

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One of the best things about this place is that you can bring your own food. Any parent can tell you that it is really annoying when places like these ban outside food but then have a horrible, over-priced snack bar so you have to pay $8 for some nuggets or something. I just love that they recognize that it’s nice to have the option to pack a lunch or snacks or whatever. It makes for a much more affordable day, not to mention you’re eating whatever you want!

All in all, we had an amazing day with our kids and are very much looking forward to going to Climb Zone again.

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Posted in Family, Weekend

Surprise Appearance

Recently, my family conspired to throw a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom. Her birthday isn’t actually until the beginning of March, so they figured an early party would be the best way to ensure she’d be surprised. The plans came together quickly and I only had a few days to decide whether or not I would try to make it. I would have loved if my whole family could have been there, but travelling with 3 young kids is… well… an adventure. I felt guilty leaving my husband alone with the kids for several days, but he’s actually the one who convinced me I should be there. My mom will only turn 60 once and this event would be something she’d remember forever.

I’m so happy I decided to surprise my mom, because her face was priceless! And actually, my dad didn’t know I’d be there either so it was great to surprise him too. The party was fantastic and she was surrounded by friends and family the entire weekend. And even Mother Nature felt like I should spend more time with my parents and decided to dump lots of snow on southern Maine, thus cancelling my flight. I got a bonus day in Maine, but I was definitely wanting to get back to Shane and the kids (did I mention they were all sick and on antibiotics?).

Seeing my family was well worth the whirlwind trip, especially seeing my Memere (that’s french for grandmother). She lives in a nursing home and suffers from dementia. Over the years her memory has gotten worse and worse. A few years ago, she couldn’t recall exactly where I lived. Then, she had to keep getting reminded that I was expecting twins. At Christmas in 2013, she didn’t recognize me, but it clicked when she was told it was me, her granddaughter. This time, she had no idea who I was and even my name didn’t ring a bell. She was surprised to know that I was her granddaughter. I was a total stranger. We had met up with her immediately after she finished lunch, yet when we asked her how her meal was, she didn’t know when she had last eaten. It’s all very sad, to see her like this. Luckily, I have wonderful memories of her from over the years and try hard to remember happier times. Luckily, she’s still in great spirits and is receiving wonderful care.

This quick trip was just what I needed to combat the homesickness that comes around occasionally, as well as celebrate the absolute best mom anyone can ask for. Happy 60th Mom! You are so loved!

 

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Got to spend time with my cute nephews!

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Here’s a video of the big surprise!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday Strikers

Over the holidays, a friend sent me an article highlighting a bowling league that is especially for kids with disabilities and their families. The league meets every Sunday at Mt. Airy Lanes and the group is called the Sunday Strikers. We are constantly searching for families activities that everyone can enjoy and we’re happy to have joined this league. Caleb and Wyatt each take turns tossing the balls down the launcher (although Wyatt learned to roll the ball between his legs as well) and watching it (s l o w l y) make its way to the duckpins at the end of the alley. Fortunately, the bumpers are up to prevent any gutterballs. The kids had a blast and the league is very well attended! Kids of all ages and abilities were there with their families and we got to meet quite a few people. This league lasts til May so we’re looking forward to making new friends with our bowling buddies! We’re so thankful for yet another family-friendly, inclusive activity to get us through the cold (but not snowy) winter here in Maryland!

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Posted in Caleb, Cerebral Palsy, Family, Weekend, Wyatt
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