Thursday, August 27, 2015

...seems like it's always understood this time of year.

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I can kick and scream all I want, but summer is coming to an end.

I have said before that, while I have always loved summer, it has far more magic since I became a mother. As soon as the weather is warm, my adventurous boy likes to drink in everything that summer has in its cup, and watching him do so has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood.

This summer was different. Pete and I made the decision to pass on the summer program offered by our school district (a meager four days a week, two hours a day) in favor of a full-day, much more intensive program that took us through the  entire summer. With PJ's negative behaviors rising (along with our continued difficulty in finding a productive means to address those behaviors via the school system) we knew it was time to find something different. When we finally were able to get PJ set up with a quality behavioral  therapy program, we knew this was a golden opportunity to make some real progress this summer.

At the Camden Children's Garden
The first day we dropped him off, I cried the whole way home. It seemed so strange to be without my Boy. I reconciled this in knowing that we were doing the right thing for him, and that we had reached the now or never point- offer him some intensive therapies while he is still so young or risk the chance that his behaviors pass the point of no return. I knew we had made the right decision, but it was hard. It was so hard to keep that adventurous little Boy from all the things he loves about summer.

Of course, in what has become a recurring theme on this blog, I was wrong. PJ has had an amazing summer, full of all of the fun and adventure I wish for him, and he also made huge strides at his summer program. When I walked in today, he was sitting at the table working with his therapist so beautifully, it took my breath away. Just three weeks ago, he was surfing the ocean waves. His progress reports showed quick, steady improvement and his play date calendar stayed full. His speech has come along in leaps and bounds, and he rode a full-size roller coaster just last week. As it turned out there was room for both growth and adventure this summer, and my baby Boy earned both in spades.

Splash Pad at the Camden Children's Garden
I think about where I was at the start of the summer. I was so sure that Autism was going to rob my son of the summer he deserved. In fact, I had reconciled myself to the idea that we would give up this one summer to ensure that the next ones were everything we wanted for him. But, in what I hope will be one of many moments of grace throughout our lifetime with PJ, we got both and I can not be more thankful.
Swings and Philly Pretzels with cousin Riley

Assateague Island- PJ was not a fan of the fish and other sea life in the bay, LOL! 

Last day of track! 

Above and below: Surfing with the Best Day Foundation at Brick Beach III. An indescribable experience that can only be assessed by the smile on PJ's face! We feel so amazingly blessed that PJ had this opportunity! 

Trampoline at Aunt Shelly's in the golden hour. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If you just realize what I just realized...

I have never been a "girls girl." I imagine that this is due to my crippling self-esteem issues and general social awkwardness, but I have always been one who gravitated towards guy friends. Mind you, the boys really did just want to be friends. There were no secret crushes or any stealthy coveting of my early-20's B-cups. We were just friends.

So fast-forward ten twenty years and into my Facebook messages, where an invitation to a mixer for moms with kids going into Kindergarten sits. It seems harmless, even nice. It's a chance for the moms to meet up and get to know each other. At this young age, it really is up to the parents to facilitate the friendships of our children, so this is a fun, gracious, welcoming way for the host to ensure that everyone gets to know each other. But, for some reason, the invitation all but paralyzed me with anxiety.

In my old age, I have come to appreciate female friendships. I treasure the close friends I have and the fledgling friendships I have embarked on in the past few years. The people that are the closest to my heart are women. My very best friend in the entire world is my sister. I have learned to make connections with women and yet a group of women will render me 1. silent or 2. obnoxious. I find myself too self-conscious to speak or trying so hard I become ridiculous. I'm sure you can imagine what a hit this made me at pre-school pick-up. My presentation is just off and I am left wondering why I am not making connections.

When I received the invite, I quickly messaged another friend to see if she was going. Note- my social awkwardness is always relieved if I feel like I have someone on my side. This particular friend is another of those fledgling friendships- new but with potential. I decided to confess to her that I am often intimidated by other women. Women who are good dressers, who have good jobs, who chat with the other parents with ease. I can't imagine that I would have any gifts to offer a potential interaction and, instead, lapse into one of the two options I mentioned above.

To my surprise, my friend was able to relate. In fact, she let me know that often, the "cool girls" are feeling the same anxieties and social awkwardness that I am, but we'd never know because we have already closed them out.

"I'm a 'cool girl bigot' that way," she stated frankly.

Cool Girl Bigot. Aside from just being a brilliant phrase that I flat-out told her I would steal, I realized that it is also a diagnosis for my issues. I leap beyond my realizations of my own shortcomings and go the extra mile to assume that the "cool girls" would withhold their gifts and rebuke mine. I let scenarios I made up in my own head stunt my chances for great conversations and amazing connections. It's not that I am being rejected, it's that I am doing the rejecting. What the hell?

I have put down a few roots these past years in my quest to have more female friendships. They do what roots should do, grounding me and offering support and nourishment. But now it is time to grow some branches, and I will do so at the home of a fellow Kindergarten mom. I'll bring a bottle of wine and leave the bigotry at home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Oh when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof...

It's been a while for the blog and I. I know. Bad Blogger {raps wrist with ruler}

 Visit Jenks! Our summer has been full and most nights, I fall on the couch to watch tv, too tired to do much more than wield the remote, much less blog and use my brain. But while my brain might be a little tired, my body has been going, following my son on any adventure he can find and because of that, it's been a full, fun summer.

Last week was no exception as Pete, PJ and I , along with our nephew Robbie, set out to conquer Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant, NJ. We were invited as part of program, in conjunction with my amazing friends at Jersey Moms Blog, to visit the beach and boardwalk as a Jenkinson's Memory Maker. As such, we had the honor of being provided with wristbands that were our ticket to all things Jenks- the beach, the boardwalk, the amusements and more! We didn't get to everything (the curse of a day at the beach with small children!) but we left tired and happy.

We started off at Jenkinson's Aquarium, a small facility located in a cute pink building towards the top of the boardwalk. Home to sea otters, penguins, sharks, and gorgeous tropical birds, the Aquarium dazzled PJ and Robbie. "Look at all the fish on the TV," exclaimed PJ! We had to explain to PJ that the giant glass panes were not televisions but, rather, real-life sea-life swimming before us! Robbie fell in love with a tank full of "Nemos" or clown-fish, and we all enjoyed watching the penguins! We were just in time for a feeding, and the boys gleefully watched the tuxedo-ed cuties vie for first crack at the delicious fishy offerings. My favorite was a tank of colorful, tiny frogs!

After the Aquarium it was time for lunch. At least, I was ready for lunch. The boys were ready to hit the beach but with all of the delicious smells filling the air from the many eateries on the boards, I knew I needed some pizza! We headed to the Pavilion Restaurant and filled up on my favorite- pizza and fries and a huge Diet Coke (for me- no chemicals for the children!). With my pizza craving handled, it was time to head to the beach. The boys jumped right in and didn't leave the ocean until we left a few hours later!

Note: Calling my pizza craving "handled" might be misleading. I could have eaten a full pie all by myself.

After the beach, we made a quick stop to one of the boardwalk Bath Houses to rinse off and change and after we dropped our beach stuff at the car, we scouted out a place for dinner. Thankfully, we didn't have to go far- the Boardwalk Bar and Grill is (as its name suggests) right on the Boardwalk and was the perfect spot to grab some dinner. The kids got chicken nuggets and fries, served in beach buckets, much to their delight! Pete and I considered treating ourselves to an Adult Beverage from the gorgeous bar, but since we were both already tired and were about to get on carnival rides, we passed.

As we headed to Jenkinson's South Amusement Park, it started to rain a bit. It never got heavy, in fact, it made the night even more lovely. The air cooled to perfect amusement park temperatures and when the kids spied a train ride, we were off. Robbie is the less ride-tolerant of the two boys but, despite that, found a number of rides he was willing to try and enjoy, including a ride that allowed him to lay on his belly and "fly" like Superman! PJ, on the other hand, is ride-tolerant enough for both of them and, now that he's reached that magical 42' height requirement has the world at his feet. He rode the Flitzer roller coaster with a huge smile on his face! The sky was turning pink before we noticed how late it was, and we gathered up two very tired little boys to head home.                                                                            

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Tired boys saying "good night" to Jenkinson's!

DISCLOSURE: Jenkinson's Boardwalk provided me with passes that allowed my family and I to attend the beach, Aquarium, and amusements free of charge in exchange for my review of my experience. Although we were given this opportunity free of charge, all opinions shared are my own and are my honest, truthful observations with no coercion or favor to our hosts.