Was your child diagnosed with Autism, and now your scared and don’t know what you should do?
Have people told you that you need to have “realistic expectations” when it comes to your child’s future? But their idea and your idea of reality are completely different?
Are you overwhelmed with all the possible paths you can take with your child’s therapy, but want someone to help you sort through it?
Do you feel alone, and need another fellow special needs mom to talk to? However not trauma bonding, but to set up a battle plan.
Who Am I?
As a mom of two fantastic kids who have special needs, I offer over fifteen years of experience in both working with and challenging “the system”. I went from not knowing where to turn or who to trust to being confident in my ability to ask good questions and make my voice heard. It would be an honor to share my knowledge and help equip you to navigate through your specific journey.
I believe there is HOPE for every child. Too many people want to put children with Autism, or any other disability in a box, label it, and just accept the outcome. I am so different.
I know that every child, with a strong-willed Mom, can take a child above and beyond their doctor’s prognosis. Once Mom decides that she is going to do everything she can to help her child, there is no stopping her.
What Do I Offer?
I support parents, especially moms, of children who have been diagnosed with Autism, and other developmental disabilities. This can be a scary, confusing, and frustrating journey. I want to help hold your hand while we sort through the opinions you have been given, explore available options, and create a plan that is best for your family.
This can include:
– Mentorship for parents on the Doman Method Program, or parents looking into the program
– Special Needs Homeschool Consults – We can work together to come up with a plan to teach your child according to their specific needs
– A place to talk and be heard. Special needs Warrior Moms often don’t fit in with the typical cookie-cutter “support groups”. They feel gross trauma bonding and are looking to connect with a fellow special needs mama. We will share your trials & victories and your fears & dreams without feeling like you need to censor what you’re saying. It’s hard being a special needs mom and sometimes we just need someone to vent to, to celebrate the victories with, and link arms with someone who relates.
Plan & Conquer (via Zoom)
When you’re a Warrior Mom, you need to “Plan & Conquer”, and that’s what you will get when you schedule a session.
1 on 1 Planning Session
Homework and Accountability
Mindfulness Activity to make sure your remembering to take care of your mental health
Below schedule a time we can meet!
Disclaimer: By scheduling an appointment with Monique Lise Dupuis, you agree and understand she is not a medical/mental expert or attorney and cannot give legal advice or a medical diagnosis. Monique Lise Dupuis will not be held responsible for any actions or decisions you make as a result of your session with her. Services are not to be used in place of any professional, medical, financial, or legal counseling.
We are a group of 200+ homeschool bloggers that love to blog about homeschooling. We get the amazing chance to review homeschool products, and share how they work with our family.
If you have been around my blog for a while, you might remember that I was also a member of the crew back in 2011/12. However I stepped down because Wesley who I was homeschooling at the time transitioned to public school. Also to be honest I believe back then I was too green of a blogger and homeschooling mom to manage this responsibility to the level I needed to.
So now that I am homeschooling Zakari, and we are comfortable with the fact that we are going to be homeschooling for the long run, I decided to apply to be a member again. I feel now I am more experienced as a blogger to offer my readers a better review experience. However I still have lots to learn, but I’m walking into this endeavor with the heart of a student, ready to learn.
What can you expect from the reviews I share?
I hope to be able to give the point of view of a special needs mom. Using my position as a mom homeschooling a child with autism I can share how we have used these products, and what adaptations we may or may not have needed to make. With the numbers of autism families turning to homeschooling, I hope this will be a helpful point of view.
What Do I Hope To Gain From The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew?
As a blogger there are so many reasons why this is an amazing opportunity. And no its not about the free product. (But I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a nice perk.) But my two main reasons are:
I love the thought of working with experienced homeschool moms. My real life community of fellow homeschool mom’s is small, so this is a great way to get adult interaction and meet people who have been where I am. Even better to get the wisdom of mom’s who have been where I currently am.
Being a Crew Member is great way for my to start taking my blog more seriously. I have been wanting to take my blog to the next level for many years but just never have had the tools to do so. The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew requires me to take my blog as a career(I was going to say job, but that didn’t seem like the right wording). I’m not only required to write reviews, I’m also required to stay active and post at least once a week. With this new position, blogging has gone from a hobby to commitment. The only way to experience growth in any area is to be consistent.
I want to take the chance to thank the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew Leaders for selecting my application. Its an honor and a blessing to get the chance to work with their team.
I went out into the waiting room of the dental office I worked in. My scrubs were getting a little tight around my midsection as my baby bump expanded. I called the name child I was to see next and a boy stood up with his mom and follow me to the room I worked in.
When the boy sat down, his mom asked him if he would like to tell my about himself or if she should. He was capable of speaking but did not make eye contact with me. He told his mom she could tell me. His mom went on the explain to me that her son had autism, and explained some of his odd behaviours and things he may have trouble with.
As a mom-to-be my heart ached. I was 19 years old and knew nothing really about Autism. While I typed up him chart, I said a silent prayer that God would protect my unborn child from Autism. God have very different plans. Little did I know I would be getting the crash course in Autism very soon.
I’ll never forget the day we got the diagnosis.
The A-word. I felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest and stepped on it. When I mother hears news like this the emotional pain is so intense it can causes her physical pain. My stomach turned and I fought having to excuse myself to get sick.
No, this couldn’t be happening to my son. I argued with the Development Specialist. I had so many reasons why this was not the case. “But he makes eye contact with me! And he loves cuddles and kisses! Children with Autism don’t do that!” The doctor looked at me sympathetically and tried to tell me, “He has lots of strengths and the spectrum is so large. Each child is different.” I was in denial, I demanded more test. In the end of course the test supported the doctor’s diagnosis. There was no escaping it, no matter how it looked to me, my son had Autism.
I asked the Doctor the day we went back and got the official diagnosis, “Well, but he’s going to be alright, right? I mean we’ll do the treatment and he’ll live a normal life.” She flat told me, “I can’t promise you that. Like I said before he has a lot of great strengths.”
I Kind Of Knew
While a part of me was in shock, another part of me wasn’t all that surprise either. I had a watched Jenny McCarthy on Oprah a few months early talking about her son’s battle with Autism. For some reason I felt compelled to go online that night an order her book. When it arrived and I started to read it, I could not put it down. While my son did not have the same medical issues that Jenny’s son Evan had some things she wrote were hitting close to home. But at the time I was still in denial. I called my mom and told her about what I read, and how everything hit so close to home. She agreed that it sounded similar, but we also agreed that he just couldn’t have autism. So this diagnosis came as a shock to them too.
The A-word as I called it consumed my life. My ex and I fought, he thought our son would just grow out of it and I had condemned him by “allowing” him to be labeled. I knew that if I didn’t allow him to be diagnosed he would not receive the services he needed to get better. He accused me of a lot of things, he thought I “allowed” him to be diagnosis so I could get more money from the government. He said I ruined his chances to ever get into a private school. So many hurtful things got thrown in my face. But I had to stand my ground.
My son needed help, and no matter what I was going to get it for him. The extra money that the government was giving me did not come even close to helping cover the cost of treatment or time I had to take off of work to get him said treatment. So I it wasn’t for the money that I allowed them to diagnosis him. It was for the chance to get treatment to help him out of his own little world into ours. I can see now looking back, my son’s dad was just as scared as was. Once we got going with therapies, he came on board for most of them.
Research Consumed Me
I spend many hours searching online, looking for hope. Dishes piled up, so did the laundry, but they were not important. Finding the answer to help my child was. I worked all day, came home, took care of my son, and once he was in bed I was back online. I needed sleep, but I thought, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, my son needs me to figure out something!
One of the purposes of this blog is to provide parents with information on alternative therapies available out their for their child with autism, and our experiences with them. I hope that I can help navigate parents to things quickly so they can decide if it’s right for their child. So they can spend less time searching and more time helping their child.
This Blogs Take Away
The important thing to remember is, “If you met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” Each child is so different, so if one therapy does nothing for your child, DON’T GIVE UP! That’s just not the right one for your child, it doesn’t mean another treatment won’t work. It is all about trial and error.
(This is not a paid for article, we paid for our stay at the Canad Inns Grand Forks.)
Day In The Life
In the past I avoided doing a lot of “Day in the Life” of aka DITL. But then I started to think about this blog, and what I want from it. My blog is a place for me to share my journey. The regular DITL stuff is part of my journey. I learn so much about myself, my kids, autism,and what life means to me during those regular days.
I also learn a lot about my family and myself when we go away together. By blogging about this trip, it allows me to go back and see how far we have come. I hope to share more about our journey. I also hope by sharing I can help other autism mom’s along the way. Even if it is just seeing real life struggles happen to other mom’s and that your not alone,
Mama Can’t Stand When People Stop Her From Preparing
Wednesday we were suppose to spent cleaning the house and getting ready to leave for a long weekend away from home. But Wes and my dad went back to the hubby shop to get a part for his car then we went back to his place to hang out. Travis and I drove around and went out for lunch. Then I had to do some last minute running around. You know, make sure we had enough gluten free snacks for Z, pick up some raw cat food for my dad to feed the cats while we were gone, etc. We came home in time to make dinner. Next thing I knew my parents dropped Wesley back off at home and we had to leave to go pick up my stepdaughter.
I’m the first to admit I was stressed out. I wanted to have everything done early on and get to bed early. But as we came home from getting Chloe, it was time to get Z to bed. I was frustrated and anticipated a long night up finishing up the house. But while I did bedtime routine with Z, Travis and my big kids made sure the last bit of the house was picked up, which left me with only a few small things to do. I love that they are old enough to help out more. This meant I was able to get a good night sleep which I was so grateful for.
Mini Vacation: Grand Fork, North Dakota Here We Come.
Thursday morning we all piled in the van, made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and headed south to North Dakota.We listened to an awesome Spotify playlist hubby had put together the night before. While waiting at the border, I’m sure the people waiting in line next to us must have thought we were crazy while we danced to the Village People’s YMCA.
After we crossed the border we stopped in the border town of Pembina, North Dakota. I had to stop at the parcel pick up service and get all the homeschool materials I had bought on eBay and some Facebook Homeschool Buy & Sell groups. It saves me so much money having them shipped there instead of to Canada. Look for a post in the future how I save money on curriculum this way.
We of course had to stop at the truck stop in Pembina for a washroom break. There my hubby with his sweet tooth grab us some American treats. Even though I am following Weight Watchers, I allowed myself to enjoy a few treats here and there. The big kids chowed down on some candies and chocolate while we jammed out to Disney Music.
Are We There Yet? YES!
Finally we made it to Grand Forks. We were too early to check in to the hotel, so we stopped in at Walmart.
School Supply Shopping
After we picked up some food for the hotel, I brought the kids to the school supply section. I had done most of their supply shopping the week before, there were a few things I knew I could get for cheaper, or better quality on our trip. The kids picked out there zipper binders, and I was sure to grab an extra to keep as a backup should one of their zippers break. They both wanted the fancier, aka more expensive ones. But they both managed to destroy their binders last year, so they got the cheaper ones with the promise if they take better care of their supplies we could splurge next year and get the fancier ones.
It is Just a Pencil… NO! Its a Ticonderoga
I was also able to get some My First Ticonderoga pencils for Zakari. Last year I based on a recommendation from Erica at My Busy Bees and Me, I order a box of these pencils. I searched high and low, at every store in Winnipeg, Canada I thought might carry them. But I came back empty handed. So I had to turn to the internet. They were expensive and the cost of shipping nearly put me in cardiac arrest. But in the end they are worth the cost.
So this year I decided I was going to look in the USA and try and avoid the extra cost if possible. I was able to find 2 packs for $1.50 a pack. Since I had paid over $1.50 a pencil last year, I bought a case at this price. For kiddos like little Z who have fine motor skill issues, these pencils are worth the cost. He has a much easier time keeping a proper pencil grasp with them.
Can You Say Chick fil A!!
It was still too soon to go check in, so we went to get lunch at my favourite American Fast Food joint Chick Fil A. Honestly it’s a blessing to my waistline and wallet we don’t have a location in Winnipeg. Little Z loves the fries and grilled nuggets there too. I swear I do the happy dance anytime I’m waiting in line at Chick Fil A. We also have to plan ahead for Z. He really can’t have many proteins at other restaurants when we are on the road. But of course it is closed Sundays. So we have to buy extra grilled nuggets on Saturday to put away for the next day. When we got to the window, I indulged in my Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries. When it comes to Chick-fil-a I forget all about Weight Watcher. Afterwards we headed to the hotel.
Check In & Tim Horton’s
We arrived at the hotel 20 mins before check in. We decided we would try and check in on the off chance our room was ready. Of course it wasn’t, but they had us choose which theme room we wanted. Travis picked out the Circus room. The front desk staff said they would call the cleaning staff and have them clean that room next. After waiting for a few minutes we decided to go get some coffee at the American Tim Horton. They sure know how to roll out the red carpet for us Canadians in Grand Forks. Bringing us the comforts of home.
We came back about 30 mins later, and now it was after our actual check in time and our room still was not ready. Before I could even say anything, she handed us 5 free vouchers for the breakfast buffet. We waited about 15 or 20 more minutes and then we were give our key, and our package (3 pizza vouchers and passes for the water park). We made our first trip upstairs with our luggage, and the kids. Afterwards I went back down with the luggage cart and brought up all my parcels.
Box Day! Homeschooling Mom Simple Joys
While the kids picked their bunks, and Travis relaxed, I got down to business with all my boxes. I wish I had taken a picture. It was quite ridiculous actually. 16 packages, 3 were full curriculums(Two levels of Bookshark and 1 Calvert). I had to load up one of those luggage carts to get it all up to the room in one trip. The boxes had taken up the whole back trunk of the van and I knew it could be condensed into fewer boxes. I even brought a large clear tub to package all the chapter books I had purchased. Apparently I purchased more then I thought, because the container didn’t hold them all. Nothing is more fun for a homeschool mom then going through 16 packages of new curriculum and read aloud books.
Wishbone, Magic Tree House, Puppy Place, Kitten Corner, Bailey School Kids, Usborne early chapter books, the list goes on. It was so nice to be able to get all those books for a fraction of the cover cost.
Soon all the new and wonderful homeschooling materials were all packed up, and everyone else was rested up. Z was standing at the window that looked out into the pool area longingly, ready to get going. So once everyone was in their swimsuits we headed downstairs to explore the pool. We were just outside the pool doors when I was stopped by a woman. She asked how long we were staying and I told her till Sunday. She then handed me 2 free pizza vouchers that were to expire on the Saturday and asked me if our family would use them. They were leaving and didn’t want them to go to waste. We thanked her and told her we would make sure they were used.
We continued to head to the pool area. For being a hotel pool, it was awesome. There was a large climber with a huge bucket on the top that poured down on the kids every 10 minutes or so. If you were brave enough you could climb to the top of the structures and slide down one of the 2 fun slides, But not without the risk of getting doused in gallons of water. The structure also had switches and valves that allowed you to adjust the water flow from all the fountains and spouts.
And Then We Were Flushed…
Then there was the huge toilet bowl style water slide. Riders jump on a tube (either singles or pairs) and blast down a dark tunnel. In the middle of the slide you would go around and around like your being flushed down a toilet. After each round your tube gets turned this way and that way. You never know if your going down the bottom forward or backwards.
Once your sucked down the bottom you come splashing down into the lazy river and float off. Travis and the big kids loved this slide. I couldn’t even tell you how many times they went down.
Zakari on the other hand was not crazy about it. Travis took him down once and then he refused to go again. Whether this was a sensory thing because of his autism, or just a typical fear many kids his age have I don’t know. However our method stayed the same. We gently help him get out of his comfort zone. If afterwards he is still uncomfortable with it, we accept it and move on.
So every once in a while Travis or one of the big kids would come and watch Z for me so I could go down could enjoy the slide and lazy river too. I think the kids thought it was entertaining when I would scream while going down the dark tunnel to enter the toilet part of the slide.
Kids…. Enjoyment at their mother’s expense.
Kiddie Pool, Learning to Swim with Autism
The kiddie pool was beach entry style. It had a double slide, 3 spraying fountains, teeter totter and a single baby swing/jumper. This is the pool that also leads to and from the lazy river.
Zakari spent hours in this pool floating, sliding and playing on the other pieces available. Because he was able to touch the bottom of the pool, he felt comfortable practicing floating.
When it comes to learning to be comfortable in the water, I find that with Zakari, he needs to be in a safe zone where he can gently push himself. If we try to push him he panics. But if he is allowed to his own devices, in a safe and supervised manner, great things can happen. While we have to sometimes push our children with autism, we also have to allow them time to explore and discover on their own. This method doesn’t work so well during a 30 minute swim lesson, and the instructor does have to push him along a bit. But we do our best to give Z lots of opportunities to have free time in a pool where he can touch the bottom.
The Big Kid Pool
Finally the slightly deeper pool was the pool my oldest hung out with other kids he met. It was about 4 feet deep, and the big kids enjoyed meeting people while playing water basketball in it. Next thing you know the group of them were going down water slides together and running under the huge bucket of water and getting soaked together
Traveling With The Big Kids
After a few hours of swimming we all started getting hungry. I ordered the big kids a pizza from the hotel by the pool and we went upstairs to get changed. By the time we got everyone sorted out, I ran downstairs and picked up the pizza. The big kids hung out in their room playing video games, and listening to music while Travis, Zakari and I headed out. I love that my big kids are old enough to stay back and hang out if they want. Sometimes they just want to relax while we have running around to do and we don’t have to drag them against their will with us.
Walmart and Supper Run
First stop for us was back to Chick-fil-a to get Z some grilled nuggets. Then we went to Walmart to get some snacks for the hotel. We did not want to have to spend too much money poolside on snacks if we could help it.
I just about fell over with how expensive produce was. It seemed that fruit cost the same price at home, but you have to add 25% to that price for exchange. Cereal, candy, junk food, all seems to be so much cheaper in the USA, but produce is another story. Yikes.
We grabbed a few things we needed, and then went across the parking lot to the Panera Bread drive thru. We had eaten at Panera Bread once when we were in Philadelphia and really enjoyed it, especially my husband. After we were served we took our dinner and Walmart purchases back to the hotel. Once again the soup and sandwiches were delicious. We both really hope Panera decided to start opening up shop in Canada some day.
Magic Tree House. The Perfect Book
Reading as always been a great way to get Z to relax. It also helps him fall asleep. So when we travel I always bring some books to read aloud. Zakari loves the Magic Tree House, so it seemed like a no brainer to grab the next one in the series to read. I didn’t even look to see what the next book was about.
When we started to read Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House 18), I realized that it was about the Lakota Native Americans who lived in North Dakota in the 1800’s. I could not have planned that better. We were able to talk to Zakari about how this story took place in the same location we were, but hundreds of years ago.
As I read he drifted off to sleep. Honestly having my child fall asleep in my arms while I read to them is the best part of my day.
Rough Early Morning Wake Up
Around 4:30 am, Little Z woke up and had no idea where he was. He was in one of those startled states, where you cannot console him. After about 45 mins of trying to settle him, I was scared the big kids would be woken up, or the people in the next room could hear him. I did not want to be kicked out. So I quickly threw in my contacts, grabbed my purse and took Z to the van. As soon as we hit the fresh air, he seemed to snap out of it. He settled down, and I drove around, not sure what to do at 5:15 am.
For a little while drove around parts of Grand Forks I usually don’t travel. During that little journey I found a thrift store I never noticed before. Mental note, find time to go check out the books there… While I was in the parking lot checking out the times, I text my mom, and told her to call me if she was up. She’s one of those crazy people that choose to wake up at this time, ON PURPOSE!
Mom To The Rescue & Walmart Therapy
But Grand Forks is not very big, so that did not take me long to drive around. Finally I decided to take the long way to the new Walmart that is a bit further from our hotel. I stopped to see what time Kmart opened at, and drove through the older area of the city. This whole time Zakari was completely content. I hoped my family was getting in some good sleep.
As I pulled into the Walmart parking lot, my phone rang. It was my mom. Such perfect timing, she had wanted me to look for some American groceries for her. I figured now was the perfect time, since Z and I were just killing time. Before I went into the store, it was great to just vent to her. I’m not naturally an early riser. I’m also not always the most pleasant person when I’m awoken before I’ve slept enough. So it was nice to talk to her and get my frustration of my chest. I was able to get back into happy mama mode.
School Clothes Shopping
We walked all of Walmart, and got my mom’s shopping done. While looking at the boys section, I found some fresh t-shirts for Wesley’s back to school wardrobe. Before leaving I grabbed some stuff for Zakari and I to eat for breakfast. I’m love to say I bought some health fruit for myself, but that would be a lie. Besides like I said before fruit is SO expensive here. I had a delicious glazed yeast doughnut. You know what, I don’t even feel bad. I was tired and needed a sugar rush. Good Old Weight Watchers got kicked to the curb. Well not completely, I only bought one doughnut. Before Weight Watchers I would have bought a package, ate a few, and brought the rest back to the hotel. Not this time.
Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts to the Rescue
I was about 6:50 am when we had seen all there was to see at Walmart. So I googled Targets hours and was surprised to see they opened at 7 am. I knew it would take me about 10 mins to get there. So we checked out and took off. At Target I was able to find a few school supplies that were a good price. I also once again smacked Weight Watchers in the face. I mean come on, who can turn down Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts.
It was still early, and I didn’t want to head back to the hotel yet, so Zakari and I went to a grocery store and did the aisles. When we got back to the car Travis called me to check to see if we were OK. The kids were still sleeping, but by now it was almost 9 am. So we hit up the Tim Horton’s, (because that’s what a good Canadian does when they need coffee)and head back to the hotel.
Traveling with Autism
Mr Zakari seemed to be in a much better mood. It is hard traveling when your little one has autism and anxiety. But setting realistic expectations is so important as a parent. It is hard when you have all these big plans and sometimes they are too big of plans for our special kiddos. Thing is to go in baby steps and that with practice it will get better.
Roll With The Punches
Even traveling with neurotypical children can be a challenge. I have learned we just need to roll with the punches. Some times I just want to lock myself in our house where it is safe. But that is not what is best for our family. Zakari needs to learn how to go out in and deal with the over stimulation the world has to offer. But we have to help him him learn to cope. These experiences mean so much to him. Even though he doesn’t talk about them, we know it is meaningful because of how he behaves after. He loves looking back at pictures of himself weeks and even years later. Or when we return he asks to do things we have done before there.
No matter how difficult it can be sometimes to travel with a child with autism, the life experiences are much more important. Both to the parents and the kid.
What We Bring To Help Our Son With Autism:
Ear Defenders: When things start to get too loud, we can easily help him block out some of those noises by putting on a pair of ear defenders. I know some kids wear them a lot, but Zakari just uses them to regulate himself and then he takes them off.
His own blanket and pillow. The comforts and smells from home helps my son relax and eventually fall asleep.
Books: As mentioned above this is a great coping strategy for our son. I cannot encourage people enough to read to your child with autism. Even thought they may not seem like they are listening, they really are.
Catnip Fennel. Now I take this with me everywhere we go. It is so helpful for dealing with upset tummies and it helps calm the nervous system. It is a product that has helped us so much over the years. During those meltdowns that we cannot figure out the cause, a lot of the time Catnip Fennel is able to help defuse the situation.
Breakfast Than Back To The Pool
We came back into the hotel room and I got the big kids up. Zakari looked out the window longingly at the pool again while every got ready.
Friday was an awesome day to spend by the pool. The kids swam their hearts out. When lunch time came around we ordered pizza, fries and chicken strips by the pool for lunch. The kids waited for the bell to start ringing so they could run with the other kids under the giant bucket and get soaked. Everyone had so much fun.
At dinner time the kids wanted Pizza, so seeing we still had the free vouchers we had gotten at check in and from the woman in the lobby we didn’t see any problem with that. Travis and I ordered Buffalo Wild Wings. It was so yummy. I just love their food. Another restaurant that we don’t have in Canada.
Little Too Busy Saturday
We woke up Saturday morning, and after lazying around we decided to head down to the pool. Before we left we noticed the lazy river and the kiddie pool were taped off. I called the front desk and there had been a pool fouling, so we needed to wait till it was properly treated.
Finally after an hour or so the pool was reopened. We went down and it was BUSY. Thursday and Friday we had been so spoiled. There was a good amount of people at the pool. Today the pool was swamped with people. Zakari was not having it. Several times he asked to go back to the room. So I decided to take him back and we went shopping.
Thrift Store Shopping
After we went back to the hotel to change, we headed to the car. I wanted to check out the thrift store I had seen on my early morning travels the morning before. We arrived, and of course I went straight for the books. Sadly I was only able to find one book we were looking for. I was impressed with some of the toys they had. They had some real classics from when I was a kid. But I knew we didn’t really need them, so I left them behind.
Little Z was tired. Of course when I had suggested a nap in the hotel, that was met with him jumping on the bed and running around like a crazy head. I really could have used a good nap, but now that we were out I wanted to at least check out Kmart. Sears was the last stop I made. They had just 8 days before they closed their doors for good. We looked around a bit, but Zakari was just not having it. So we headed back to the hotel.
This weekend was just meant to be a get away. Get in some swimming, eat some good food and hang out as a family. The kids were not hungry yet, and we wanted to take them to the arcade at some point in the evening. So Travis, Zakari and I went out on our nightly supper hunt.
We stopped at Chick-fil-a because we needed to get Z chicken for that night and Sunday because, they are not open on Sundays. Then we tried The Noodle Company. It was just OK. I’m not sure I’d go back again. But I’m glad I tried it.
Arcade & Dippin Dots
The one thing Chloe wanted to have while we were in the USA was Dippin’ Dots. So when we got back we went to the pizza place/ arcade. We had two vouchers left for pizza, so the kids each ordered one. While we waited we loaded up the arcade cards and the kids had a blast playing all the games.
We got Chloe some Dippin Dots for helping us out so much with Zakari at the pool. She went up the play structure with the slides and huge dumping bucket all weekend to keep an eye on Zakari. With my contacts I couldn’t keep up with Zakari and not get chloride water in my eyes. I did not want to lose a contact, nor do I like water that much.
When the pizzas were ready, the kids cashed out their tickets, and we went back upstairs.
Packing Up To Go
When we got back I started packing and organizing our stuff. We wanted to be up early and be able to try the breakfast buffet we had free passed for. The big kids ate their pizza and enjoyed one last night of snacks, video games and movies.
Sunday Rough Morning
Zakari had a rough night. I almost wanted to pack up the van and head home in the middle of the night. But Travis talked me out of it. Luckily we got him settled and he finally fell asleep. Only to wake up again at 4:30 am. He wanted me to take him to Walmart again. Of course I didn’t want this to be a habit he got into. But even if I wanted to take him, I couldn’t, Walmart was closed until noon.
Once I read him a few chapters I was able to get him back to sleep. But now I’m worried. Travis and I have not slept well enough to be driving him as safely as we would like. Travis had a pounding headache at this point and needed time to sleep it off.
Late Check Out
I called the front desk and explained that our son had a rough night, we were not sure if he was feeling well or not. We ask for a late check out. They were amazing, they said that even though they don’t do late check outs, they would give us an extra hour or two. We were so grateful, so even though we slept through the breakfast buffet, we were all well rested.
We packed up the trolley, brought all our luggage and my packages to the van, and then checked out. Overall I was very happy with our stay. 3 hours away from home and the kids had a blast. Perfect mini vacation.
Last Minute Shopping
Once again I’m so grateful for big kids who are old enough to babysit. I wanted to run into Sears and have a better look. Travis was not with me the day before so he wanted to look around too. But Zakari was NOT interested in shopping at that moment. So the big kids babysit him in the van. We of course left it running and they locked the doors behind us. All of them were happy playing on their iPads while we spent a few quick minutes looking around. We stopped at the candy store in the mall and went back to the kids.
Afterwards we made one last stop at Walmart. Of course Zakari loves Walmart, so he insisted on coming with us. We grab a few snacks for the road and some more Tylenol to keep Travis’s headache at bay.
McDonald’s, Worst Service EVER
My big kids wanted to have McDonald’s for lunch before we left the states. I swear that was the worst managed McDonald’s in North America. They messed up our order twice, over charged me, and when I asked for something for compensation for our wasted time I was offered 3 free coupons for ice cream or cookies. Offered might now be the right word. The manager rolled her eyes at me, then said she guessed she could get me some coupons. A few weeks later when I went back down to the USA with my parents, they stopped their for coffee and they had an equally terrible experience.
Plus I had a ridiculously hard time cashing in those coupons, they tried to make me wait for a manager to get off their lunch break which would be in 30 mins. I explained that these coupons were given to me for wasting our time. He was able to get us the cookies. At least they were good, but I refuse to ever go to that location again. I will drive down the road to get coffee from now on.
Last Supper Before Heading Back to Canada
Travis and I decided, after long, and painful deliberation we were going to try Erbert and Gerberts. I’m so glad we did! It was so much yummier then Subway.
We ate, filled up our tank and hit the road home. All I could think was, well the moment of truth is coming up. I have to declare what I spent to the border patrol. Which means I have to admit to my husband how much all those boxes cost.
Back Home Again
We landed up making good time, and getting home safely. We were all glad to be able to sleep in our own beds that night. It was so much fun being able to spend time with our kids.
What We Would Do Differently
This was a learning experience for us. We want to take a trip to Great Wolf Lodge next summer and this trip was a great practice run. This winter though we might head back to Grand Forks Canad Inns.
However we will be doing a two things different.
Going for 2 nights instead of 3. I think we all had our fill of swimming after the second night, and the money we save in hotels can allow us to do this trip more often.
I would not go on the weekend again. Saturday was WAY to busy for Zakari. Looking down to the pool on Sunday, it also seemed crazy busy.
What is your go to tip on traveling with a child with autism?
I’m officially on the hunt for chapter books for boys with autism.
Best Chapter Books For Boys With Autism
Anyone that has been reading me for even a short time knows I love book sales! I love thrift store books. Amazon is also another love of mine. But now that I have turned my youngest into a bookworm, the need to collect books and grow our library is even stronger. Our GoodReads “What to Read” shelves is growing & growing by the day.
However, now I’m on a specific mission, to collect books from particular series. Yes I will still be buying books that are not part of a series. But my main focus is completing several series we are reading.
Why Am I Doing That? Why Does It Matter That We Stick Mostly to Series?
It happened on fluke, and I didn’t piece it together until recently. Zakari and I had started reading the Magic Tree House last year. Honestly the first book, he could have taken it or left it. But in the new year when I started reading him more books from the series, his opinion seemed to change. Each book he seemed to become more and more interested in. Until one day, he started specifically asking for me to read the next one in the series to him.
I thought this was just a coincident, until the same thing happened with the Bailey School Kids Adventures. During the first book or two I wasn’t too sure he really liked it. But because this was one of my favourite series when I was a kid, I kept on trying them with him. Now he listens to them and enjoys them.
8 Books into The Puppy Place, I’m finding this to be true again. He can go from upset about bedtime to attentively listening to these stories. This kid will beg me to read one more chapter, even though he is drifting off to sleep.
Why Are Series Hooking Him In?
My theory is because the characters are familiar to him. He doesn’t have to worry about learning who the characters are. He already knows them, and likes them. Now he can focus on the story line.
Its the same reason why you like to watch the same TV shows. You know the characters already and they can jump right into the plot of the story.
Another Reason Book Series Work For My Son With Autism
This past weekend I attended a local homeschool conference. One of the sessions I choose to sit in was “How Boys and Girls Learn Differently”. She talked about how boys don’t care to focus on character development in a story. Afterwards I started doing my own research on how boys learn and found an article on the Reading Rocket website, Books and Books by Jane McFann.
In the article she mentions that: Boys like to collect things and tend to like to collect series of books.
This makes perfect sense to me as a person who must collect everything.
This I find to be so true. Most of the series we read don’t jump around between scenes too much. Most of the characters are together in most scenes. The only exception to this has been Wishbone: The Early Years. However they avoided confusing by stating they were switching scenes.
What I Look For In A Series:
Over the last year we have dived into some awesome book series. I try and find:
Geared towards 7-8 year olds
Shorter chapter books(50-90 pages)
Includes animals is a major plus
I also look to see if there are several books in the series. The more books the better because if he really loves the characters we can keep feeding that interest. I’m always sad when a series is only 4 books long, and a new book hasn’t been published in years.
Clear, large writing is a bonus in case he wants to follow along. This is also nice for when he’s ready to read this longer books on his own.
Series I recommend for starting out:
The Puppy Place
The Magic Treehouse
The Magic School Bus
The Bailey School Kids Adventures
A to Z Mysteries
Wishbone: The Early Years
Grace Hospital Book Sale & Goodwill Book Haul
So in my hunt for new books to add to our home library, last week I went to the Goodwill by my house. I prefer the Goodwill as the books I look for usually range between 50 cents to a buck. Places like Value Village often have a better selection, but the books cost $1.79 for a kids chapter book and up. I’ve even encountered managers and cashiers that try and charge even more because they feel it should cost more. I left a huge pile of books one time because they were trying to nickle and dime me. It was so frustrating. I REFUSE to step foot into that location ever again. As someone who buys a lot of books, they lost a good customer.
Last Thursday Wesley and I drove to the other side of the city and check out a book sale at the Grace Hospital. I found it was worth the drive, and will likely go back again. This past Thursday the Huge Children’s Hospital Book Sale at St.Vital mall started and I will be sharing more about that in another post.
In the winter I’m a hermit. I do not like to go out in the cold. So I’m in squirrel mode right now. Got to get all the book! If you want to see what I snatched up, you can check out this video. The list with amazon links can be found below too.
Summer Life With Autism & Year Round Homeschooling
Summer is officially over. My big kids are back at their respected schools, and Little Z is back to the homeschool grind. Well not that we really stopped learning since we are year round homeschoolers. But we did pull out the new curriculum a few weeks ago.
Life has been very hectic the last few months and I had taken a long unplanned hiatus from blogging and YouTube. I just felt that I was being pulled away from this platform. Instead I needed to put all my energy into my family. Last September my body was getting so run down. I got sick 2 times that month. It made me see I had to slow down.
Now with this fresh start of a new school year, I am hopeful that moving forth with this blog is the right thing to do. I miss sharing about our lives and journey. It is therapeutic to me, and I need that right now.
Attack of the Disappearing Blog
Something that made me realize how important this site is to me was when it went down. A few months ago my credit card number information was stolen. Someone in the UK had a blast buying things off of Google Play, and grocery shopping. So obviously my credit card was canceled, and fraud claims were put in. Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay anything for that. But when I received my new credit card, I forgot to change the number on my host site. For some odd reason I did not receive any emails from the company saying this was going on and my site was taken down. Thankfully I noticed soon enough and was able to do a disaster recovery.
The thought of my site that I have worked on and off on for the last 8 years being *poof* gone made me sick to my stomach. This made me realize I needed to get back here and start sharing our life journey again. Even if what I write about helps only one other mom, it’s all worth it. Plus on a personal level, its a log of how far my family has come during these last 8 years. I explained it to my husband as if all our family pictures burned and I had no way of getting them back. I’m so grateful to have my little piece of the internet back safe.
All About Day-camp
This summer just seemed to go by so fast. In July, Wesley was involved in two day camps.
The first full week off of school he attended a camp for kids ages 10-14 years old. They had 1:1 camp counselors that switched each day. This way the kids would focus on building relationships with their peers, and not as much with the adults. The best part was Zakari’s old ABA tutor, and the respite worker that took Wes to camp last year was a counselor there! They worked on social, life and planning skills. Some of that activities they were involved in were Skyzone Trampoline Park, archery, bowling, Shapes Gym, swimming, and sports. Lunch preparation and cleanup tasks were rotated so campers actively participated. Something else that impressed me was they showed the kids how to do some basic auto maintenance like checking oil, tire pressure and adding oil and other fluids to a car.
Two weeks later Wesley started a second one week day camp. A van came right to the house every morning and picked him up, and dropped him off in the evening. This was so helpful to me as a busy work at home mom. The camp two weeks before had me orchestrating a drop off and pick up schedule with my family and my ex’s family. It was one less thing to worry about. He spent his week learning to cook with camp friends, enhancing independence, trying out adapted sports, and allowing him to develop & grow friendships with the staff and other peers. They visited the Human Rights Museum, a local water park, and spent the day at Camp Manitou.
Zakari earned a total of 25 books and a back pack. Plus his group earned $700 worth of books for less fortunate kids. It was such an awesome program we can’t wait till next summer to participate again!
As his mother I’m most excited about the Hey Jack! books. They look great for a kiddo who grew up on the Doman program. The writing a large and clear. I believe these will be the first chapter books he reads to be aloud this year. Thank you again Abby!
Where Did August Go?
The month of August just flew by. From the 3rd to the 19th, Wes was off with his dad. He spent time at his dad’s place, then a week at a cabin, and then out to Gimli for a car show before he came back home. Between the 12th and the 22nd my stepdaughter was off to Disney with her grandparents. So during the time it overlapped that they were both gone Zakari was an only child. I think it was nice for him to get our undivided attention.
The kids are blessed with an aunt who owns a pool and loves to have them over to swim. Three times during the summer we went over there and lounged in her pool. It is fun to see each year how the kids have developed their swimming skills through all their swimming lessons during the year. Even Little Z was more independent in the pool with his life jacket. I did not have to be standing and holding onto him the whole time. I was able to float or sit on the side of the pool within arms reach and enjoy everyone’s company. Its sad the cooler weather is blowing in and the pool is closed for the summer.
Forget August, Where Has September Gone???
Like I said we have started school. Zakari was the first to start. We were so excited to dive into his new Bookshark Kindergarten curriculum. We started a day early on Tuesday September 4th. This curriculum is just such a perfect fit for my son. Several of the books these last few weeks have sucked us both in. I can’t image what we would have missed if I had just put him in the Grade 1 level.
A week later we introduced Calvert Grade 1. No, I did not purchase the whole Calvert curriculum new. $1500 US dollars is way out of my budget no matter how good the curriculum is. But I was able to get all the textbooks & most of the materials from a mom on an American homeschool Facebook group for $80 US shipped. I had looked at this curriculum years ago when Wesley was homeschooling kindergarten, but the price tag blew my mind.
Next up was Wesley. On September 5th he went off to his first day of grade 8. Guys, he’s in GRADE 8 now! I’m not entirely sure how that happened. This is his last year in middle school, then he is off to high school. He also started back up with piano & his once a week evening group at the local school gym. Two weeks ago we met his new teachers at the school BBQ. I also met one of his buddies that he has lunch with. I hope he’s off to a good start.
Then on the 7th we sent Chloe off to start grade 7. She’s already had one overnight camping trip with her class, and seems to be enjoying school. She’s soaking in book after book. I love that she shares my love of reading.
Portage La Prairie Here We Come!
September means Zakari’s favourite place is open again, the Portage La Prairie Aquatic Centre. We have already taken the 1 hour 20 mins journey out there. He loves that place so much. I look forward to several more visits between now and June when they close up again for the summer.
What Does Year Round Homeschooling Look Like For Us?
So I mentioned that we are year round homeschoolers. Because Zakari is a creature of habit, we have decided that homeschooling year round is in his best interest. This allows us flexibility throughout the year. If either of us is having a bad day, we can put the books away without fear of running out of time.
However year round homeschooling this past year allowed us the time to go through two full curriculums. We started the year with Bookshark PreK, which we finished in April. Between April and August we started and completed Build Your Library Level 0.
Homeschooling Year round allowed us to enjoy all the books in the PreK Level and still hit and complete our kindergarten year. So we not only stick to a routine that worked for him, and allowed flexibility, we also completed more this year then we would have if we stuck to a strict 36 week school year.
Weight Watcher Journey
Something this summer that I did for myself was joining Weight Watchers Online. My weight was climbing past my comfort level, and my body was starting to rebel. I’m happy to say I was able to lose 22 lbs since the ending of May. 18 lbs was thanks to Weight Watchers.
A few weeks ago I joined a meeting group, and I hope to get down to a healthy weight again. I’ve already been able to get past a frustrating plateau, and the scale is going down again. It’s amazing what years of stress and poor self care can do to a body. I feel now is such an important time for me to get back on track. The healthier I am, the more I can do for my family.
Starting Our Family Holidays
This year I took 1 week off of work. Part of it was spent going to doctors and dentist appointments. You know, all that stuff no one wants to really do. I’m happy to say check ups went well, and neither of the boys have any cavities. Although Zakari gave both doctors a run for their money. Thank God for patience doctors.
Waiting at the dentist.
Boys and Their Toys…
But we were sure to add in the fun stuff. Wesley saved $600+ dollars of his own money and wanted to buy himself his dream RC truck. My dad took him over to my uncle’s house to try out his RC truck and learn how to take care of them. Then on the Monday of our holiday we met my parents at the local hobby shop and with my dad’s expertise he picked out a Traxxas Rustler VXL.
Since Wesley has gotten his truck he has enjoyed spending time with my dad in the country, tearing up gravel and dirt, drag racing with my uncle and cousin, and just spending some quality time with his grandpa. Even though my dad’s main hobby now is RC boats, he loves spending time with Wesley racing his truck. He even fixed up his old RC race car he use to race when I was a kid. Since they are from the late 80’s they are not as quick, but even with a few modifications using today’s technology he was able to make them faster than they use to be.
Long Weekend Trip To Grand Forks
On the Thursday of our holidays we drove out to Grand Forks and stayed at the Canad Inns. But that trip deserves its own post, so stay tuned!
What did you do this summer? How has the start of the school year for your family?
Children of Dreams, Children of Hope, may have been a title to a book written by Dr. Raymundo Veras, but this was how I felt. I felt like I was one of the children of dreams. Allowed to dream again for my child’s future. Everyone who attended that week long course were also Children of Hope. Our hope was restored.
Saturday morning I woke up to my alarm clock. I set it fairly early because I wanted to do a little exploring in Philadelphia before I returned my rental car. I got myself ready for the day, packed up my last few things and went downstairs.
My wonderful host and I chatted about the Institute and our experiences there. She had taken the course for well babies a few years before. Then she showed me her amazing playroom that she had set up for her children. IAHP EK bits hanging on the wall. I love the dedication she had to teach her little ones.
Host for Hospital program
After thanking the family for their hospitality, I packed up my rental car and drove out of the driveway for the last time. I cannot say enough good things about the Host for Hospital program. If you are heading down to Philadelphia to take either of the courses offered at the Institute, please check out Host for Hospital. It is an affordable program that connect families from out of town to host with space to share. My entire stay for eight days cost me less than one night would have in a hotel. When you consider the exchange rate that I was paying to convert my Canadian money to American, this made it an even bigger savings.
Every host has something different to offer so I can only share my experience. I was allowed to use a large bedroom (larger then my bedroom at home) with my own personal on-suite bathroom. The family also allowed me to use an extra fridge they had in the back entry way. I felt so spoiled and was treated with such respect. My host also passed on a books she had bought at the IAHP that is no longer available about vaccines. I thought that was so kind of her.
Thanks to my phones GPS, I was easily able to find my way into Philadelphia to the Liberty Bell. I planned to arrive early so I could get into line and get in as soon as the building opened at 9am. But I landed up arriving earlier then I anticipated. So decided to look to get some souvenirs for the family who helped me make this trip even possible. On the way I found a few cute little gift shops with exactly what I was looking for.
Afterwards while I walked to the door to the Liberty Bell Centre, I immediately wished I had more time to explore more of the sights and sounds of the area. It is just beautifully kept and I felt very safe walking around on my own. But I was happy I had a few minutes to see the actual Liberty Bell and get a few photos. Another couple offer to take my phone using my phone in exchange I would take their photo with their phone.
When I made it back to my rental car and decided to clean out the car there instead of at the gas station. I gathered up the empty food wrappers and such and found a garbage and recycling bin to get rid of them. Checked all the compartments and under the seats to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Finally found a safe spot in my luggage to pack up the souvenirs I purchased.
Scary Gas Station
Once I was back in the car and buckled up, I GPS’d a nearby gas station. I did not want to have to pay the ridiculous price the rental company would charge me if I did not return the car with a full tank. As I drove away from the Parkade and started following the directions on the GPS. I soon found that the location I picked was taking me away from the direction of the airport.
Soon I saw a Shell gas station on the right side of the road. Even though it didn’t seem to be the best area of town I decided I may as well just fill up there. Well of course the pay at the pump didn’t work because I had a Canadian credit card. So I went inside, only to find the cashier looked like he had been recently beaten. He had a black so swollen, that his eye could not open. I almost turned around a left. My imagination ran wild wondering if he had been recently stuck up working here. But instead I prepaid, pumped my gas and left as quickly as possible. I was not interested in sticking around and meeting the people who had beaten this poor man.
Off To The Airport
Now with a full tank of gas I was once again following the GPS back to the airport. I brought my car back to the rental company. Of course my bill was through the roof since I had to rent a car on the spot. Lesson learned, do not travel with a temporary license. I will make sure to allow time for my new license to come in the mail. I dragged my bags onto the shuttle and road back to the airport.
When I got to the correct terminal, I found a luggage cart and loaded it up with my large duffle bag I bought the night before, my carry on and back pack. I made my way to the desk for checked bags. I felt like such an amateur traveler. Most travel I had done in my life up to this point was in the form of road trips. Prior to this trip I had only ever been on two trips that required flights. One with my parents to Florida when I was 16. The other was a flight to Calgary with Travis and Wesley when I was 25 to take Wesley to a DAN! Doctor. The first trip I was along for the ride, and the second trip Travis and I were together. It also did not require us to go through customs and my aunt was on the other hand picking us up and bring us back to the airport. So I prayed this was going to be an easy process. Luckily it was. They weighted my bag and it came in at 29 lbs. I scoffed when they told me the weight and wondered how I ever thought I’d get that all in my carry on.
At this point I was starving. It was only 10:30 am, but seeing as this was my last few hours in the USA, I wanted something I couldn’t get back at home. I looked around the food court and decided to try Smashburger. I had seen a mom I follow on Instagram post about it and it always looks so yummy. It was on the pricey side, but super tasty. I really enjoyed that it was not greasy at all.
Afterwards I wandered and looked at the little gift shops in the airport. I was actually a bit surprised to find so many weird types of presidential nominee merchandise throughout my trip. Something I never saw in the Canadian elections. All I could image was a Justin Trudeau chia pet. “But he’s got nice hair” would have a whole new meaning.
A Few Minutes of Peace & Quiet
As excited as I was to get home to my kids, I was not crazy enough to not take advantage of the quiet, child free few hours I had left. I regretted packing my binder full of notes from the course in my checked bag. I really wanted to start planning what I was going to do with Zakari. But in the end, it was for the best I didn’t have access to them. I think it was good to just take this time to relax. Looking through my bag, I picked up and started reading a book I purchased at the Institute’s bookshop. Children of Dreams, Children of Hope by Dr. Raymundo Veras.
Description was taken from the Gentle Revolution website
This is the story of Dr. Raymundo Veras, a brilliant Brazilian surgeon and his journey into the world of brain-Injured children. After Dr. Veras’s son, Zé Carlos was injured in a diving accident, Dr. Veras dedicated his life to fixing his son’s injury. That devotion led him to The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, where he learned from Glenn Doman and the staff, how to fix brain-Injured children. From there he returned to Brazil and began treating many more children. His success with the children the world has called Mongoloid or Down Syndrome led to the first successful methods to treat their problems. This book is the story of Dr. Veras’s second life and the first chance for wellness for many of the world’s hurt children.
I nearly completed this book by the time I got back home to Winnipeg. Even though I do not have a child with Down’s Syndrome, I still found it very informative. No matter what type of brain injury a parent on the Institute program writes about I find them to be amazing to reads. I love learning about how the program worked for them, how they managed, and how the Institutes have changed over the years.
Homeward Bound Part 1
Finally it was time to board my first plane to Toronto. I texted Travis that I was boarding the plane and would let him know when I made it back. I sat back and enjoyed the flight with my book in my lap. Mid flight a flight attendant came around with custom forms to fill out. One of the questions on the form asked if I was carrying and business product samples. Of course I have two Beach Body Shakeology samples I had not drank in my bag. I sat their debating if I that’s what the form meant. Should I declare it? So I did to error on the side of caution. I did not want to cause trouble smuggling back to protein shakes.
Homeward Bound Part 2
Well of course after we landed in Toronto, I went to scan my passport and this form and got hauled into customs. Luckily for me the customs officer was real nice. He asked me if the samples were to try and solicit customers for a business. When I explained they were for personal consumption, he changed my answer to no and welcomed me back to Canada.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Toronto was hit up the Tim Hortons kiosk. Oh man, Dunkin Donuts does not hold a candle to our good old fashion Timmy’s. It was nice to have a piece of home shortly after landing back on Canadian soil. While I enjoyed my Timmy’s I made a few phone calls. I let Travis know that my flight was on time and when should expect to be back in Winnipeg. I called my mom to let her know I had landed safe. The idea of me traveling alone didn’t sit well for her. This is where we are completely different. For me this was an awesome adventure. For her the thought was just down right scary.
Next thing I knew I was boarding my last flight from Toronto to Winnipeg. I was so excited to get home to my kids. I would have to wait one more day to see Wesley as he was at is dad’s for the weekend, but I could see Zakari. This trip was the longest I had ever been away from either of my children. As rewarding and totally worth it as it was, I was glad I was going home.
Somehow I scored the West Jet Plus seat and I had lots of room on the flight to Winnipeg. The man next to me try to spark up a conversation with me, but honestly I was not in a chatty mood. How could I really explain why I was in Philadelphia. I was still processing everything I learned, I was not ready to be challenged if this person turned out to be a skeptic. Luckily I was able to be polite and come off as shy and he left me to my book.
Home Sweet Home
Finally I could see the lights over Winnipeg. We were landing. As soon as we made contact with the ground I called Travis to tell him to be ready to pick me up. He was in the area, and my friend had gone to our house to wait with Zakari. He tends to fall asleep in the car so close to bedtime and they knew I would want to see him.
I stood anxiously at the conveyor belt waiting for my huge duffle bag. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long because my bag was one of the first out. Because it was raining in Winnipeg my bag was soaking wet, but when I looked inside everything dry. I was quite impressed with my last minute Walmart purchase. I loaded my bags on a luggage cart and went out into the rain. Travis looped around the front of the airport and helped me get the bags in the van.
It was so nice to see him and hear about how he made out with the kids for the whole week. I think having mom gone and only him in charge really helped strengthen his relationship with the boys. He made sure the house was cleaner then I left it the week before. I came home to dinner and cuddles with my Zakari.
I made it! My first time traveling alone. A dream come true. Something I had wanted to do since Wesley was little. My only regret is that I didn’t make it happen way sooner.
Children of Dreams, Children of Hope…
What I have seen cannot be unseen…
Did you miss how the beginning of my trip to Philadelphia to take the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course went? You can catch up and read about it in the following posts:
Friday morning was the last day at the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. It seemed that everyone who wasn’t having their children assessed on Monday was ready to go home to their kids. We had learned so much, I just needed to get home and start working with Z. Honestly I thought I was ready after Thursday and could not think of what more they could really tell me. Of course now looking back, this was a silly thought, I’m sure they could have keep us for a month and still not completely shared all their wealth of information. However I think I was hitting information overload.
At the time I could see why they have 6 more Lecture Series for parents to attend instead of drowning parents in the first What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course(WTD). However a year later I attended Lecture Series II and I noticed a lot of information overlap between WTD and Lecture Series II. I believe the mentality is repetition is good to help us remember. I get why they do this. But at the same time, if I am flying all the way to Philadelphia and being away from my family, I really want complete new information.
Friday they broke it up into good bite size pieces so as not to overwhelm parents.
Five Treatment Principals- They explained each treatment principle and told us that each treatment procedure can be placed under one of these five principles
What are the odds?
When do we give up?
Psychological Problems in the World of Brain Injured Children
The Family as the Answer
How to Begin- This section was very helpful for me. It made me realize that I could do the program with my son and still run my home daycare. What I need to do is include my daycare kiddos in the process.
I left Friday feeling like I could really do this. I realized I needed to include our whole family in the program. Friday’s lecture made me see, where there is a will, there’s a way.
At the end of the day we were all presented our certificates which stated we completed the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. I felt so accomplished when I received this certificate. I know it’s just a piece of paper. However I had wanted to come down and take a course at he IAHP since my oldest was a toddler and I read “How to Teach Your Baby to Read.(Read about that HERE.) It felt amazing to have finally made it down there to do it. Truly a dream come true.
The one thing that was truly amazing were the Parent Summaries. The one or two people that left before sitting though this, I have to say you missed out. If your going to attend this course, do not plan on leaving till Saturday. You do not want to be rushed on Friday.
All of the staff we had worked with throughout the week sat at the front of the auditorium. Each person had a few minutes to share their story, what they had learned, and what they are taking home with them from the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. I know this might sound scary, but let me tell you it wasn’t. You feel like you know these people well after a very short period. No one is trying to keep up with the Joneses. So for me when it was my turn to share, there was no fear. I was excited to share what I learned and what my hopes were with everyone.
Wow! So many emotions went through me that evening while I sat there and listened to everyone’s story. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. Almost everyone came there with crushed souls. Some families had been given such depressing prognosis. Before they arrived that week they had no one telling them they could help their child. Just people preparing them for the worst. Telling them to give up.
But something had changed for them. Something changed for me too. Once you have seen this information, you cannot unsee it. It seems like the other parents had the same experience.
Afterwards we all gathered for a group picture. I had seen these posted on the IAHP facebook group many times. I was so glad to be able to be in one of them. This group of people became like family during the 5 days we spent together. We all had so much in common. Every single one of these parents were fighters. We spent 12 hours a day, learning, sharing meals together and sharing our experiences. Our kids ranged from mildly to severely brain injured. But no one was willing to accept that where there kids are now are where they will be forever.
I also got pictures with Betty from the book store(God knows I spent a lot of time there) and Harriet who is the registrar for the course(I had spent plenty of time on the phone with her over the years). I was also able to get a picture with Janet Doman, Glenn Doman’s daughter.
I don’t know what happened to most of them months and years after the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. I hope they have experienced the same success and witnessed the same degree of improvement in their child’s quality of life that I have seen in Little Z man.
Afterwards I packed up my belongings and said my goodbyes. A lot of people were staying behind to chat, but I had a lot to absorb. As I drove my car through those campus gates I felt like a new person. I felt like Batman with a tool belt full of new things to use to help my son.
This was my last evening in Philadelphia and I knew I had to pack, but I wasn’t ready just yet to head back to the house I was staying. I landed up going and doing some retail therapy. I checked out a store a YouTuber I regularly watch often vlogs about, Five Below.
When I arrived a friend of mine from back home called. Well I felt like I had so much to share with her, but I couldn’t organize my thoughts. I landed up letting her go because I had so much on my mind from the course I was unable to multitask. People were giving my dirty looks in the store because I was that annoying person that was on the phone not paying attention. When I got back to the car, I got a text from this friend. I guess I was so distracted I came off as upset with her. Holy, that was not my intentions at all and I felt bad. Luckily a few text back I was able to clear the air. I promised to call her when I got my thoughts together.
I decided I needed to get one last Chickfila fix. But I really didn’t want to sit in my car and eat alone again like I did every night. I also don’t like to sit in a restaurant alone. After a quick google search I found Five Below was right by a Willow Grove Park mall with a Chick-fil-a. Don’t ask me why eating alone in a restaurant makes me uncomfortable, but a food court is just fine.
After I ate, I decided to explore the mall a bit. I found this really cool toys store called “Go Games & Toys”. I was able to find a few board games at a great price to bring him for the big kids. As I walked out of the store I started to wonder if I was going to be able to get everything I had bought into my carry on and backpack. I was pretty sure I would be able to, but I still a bit of doubt.
It was getting late, so I started to head back to the house and get my bags packed. When I got there the babysitter/nanny was watching the kiddos and the parents had gone out. I went upstairs and started packing. Wow, I was completely delusional. There was no way I was going to get all the books, toys and souvenirs I had bought into those bag. Not even close. I don’t know what I was thinking.
If you haven’t seen my IAHP Better Baby Bookstore Haul video and want to know which books I had picked up that the IAHP Baby Store, check out this video.
I looked up the closest Walmart, and they were closing in a little more than an hour and I was still 20 mins away. When I went downstairs to leave the nanny seemed very concerned I was going out so late at night. Maybe I was naive. Back home I go to Walmart at all hours of the night and don’t think twice. I assured her I would be fine. We chatted at the door for a bit. I just loved this woman, we talked about books and what life was like there. I wish I could have spent more time chatting with her but I was short on time.
On the way there I got turned around and landed up on a toll road. I had managed to avoid them all trip. Do you think I had any cash on me? Nope. I landed up having to use the rental car Ez Pass. So I had to pay for the toll and the rent the EZ Pass for each day I had the car. So needless to say, that was an expensive toll.
I made it to Walmart with 15 mins to spare. I hurried and looked around and could not find the luggage section. Luckily I found an associate and she was able to lead me to the spot. I grabbed a bag and hurried back to the house.
When I made it home I decided to wait till morning to clean out the car. I went up to my room and filled the duffle bag I bought full. I could have fit more in my carry on and backpack, but I figured why haul around two airports more than I have to since I was already checking a bag.
I showered, tidied up the room and got into bed. I phoned home and chatted with Travis for a bit before I went to sleep. I had so much on my mind I had a bit of trouble falling asleep, but soon enough I was out.
Last post about my trip to Philadelphia for the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course coming soon(I promise to have it out sooner then this post took).
Did you miss how the beginning of my trip to Philadelphia to take the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course went? You can catch up and read about it in the following posts:
Wow it has been a very long time since I have last updated. I think about writing often, however with all of Z’s programs and homeschooling, mixed with my day job I have had very little time. That being said I also kept this blog in secret. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, it’s posted on the Internet for crying out loud. But I don’t share with many people in my real life that I keep this blog. I have been a Secret Blogger. I didn’t even tell my hubby. He knew I did reviews and stuff, but he didn’t know the details.
The other day I decided that I need his help. So I shared with him my blog and YouTube channel. He is very knowledgeable in computers and I’m hoping that the two of us can work on this blog and my YouTube channel as a team. He’s also been wanting us to work on a project together but we couldn’t figure out what we could realistically do. This seems to fit the bill and I’m so excited to start really getting involved in the blogging and vlogging world.
Last year my goal was to write here and post a YouTube weekly. Every time I got notification that I had a new YouTube follower I felt guilty there hadn’t been any new content in such a long time. But because of the fact I’ve been so shy to share what I do with my hubby, I never had enough time alone to write and edit. Now I’m hoping because we are going to be doing this as a project together I can jot down a rough post in the day and we can edit it together in the evening. Even if he’s not part of the editing process at least I can just sit at the kitchen table and not be embarrassed of my work.
It was so silly of me to keep this to myself as he has been extremely supportive since I’ve shared my projects.
So I’m excited to announce that in the next few weeks you can expect the following post:
– The last installment of what I thought about the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. I can’t believe how disorganized I have been. I took this course in Sept 2016, yet I have not written about the last day of the course. To make it worse I started sharing about our most recent trip, before finishing the first.
– Finish writing about our trip to Philadelphia with Little Z. We had 2 days before our appointment that we did some traveling and visiting with friends. I have so much to share about the evaluation, Lecture Series II and the programs we received.
– Why we are not going back to the IAHP for our 6 month reassessment.
– How we have changed our nutritional program to better serve Little Z’s needs and how we added in Ozone water.
– Why we love a literature based homeschool curriculum.
In September Wesley started back up in Trampoline at our local gymnastics gym. He’s still loving the sport and is excited to go every week. Since Wesley alternates his weekend between my home and his dad I’m only responsible to bring him every other week which is less on my plate. He’s old enough now that I can just drop him off and pick him up and hour later. So the whole thing requires very little from me.
Wesley is also back in piano lessons this year. We allowed him to take the summer off, and I’m a little more relaxed about his practice schedule. I vlogged about him wanting to quit last summer. As his mother I was torn. On one hand I don’t want to make him do something he does not want to do anymore. On the other hand I know so many people who quit piano, that now regret it. So we are working through to find the right balance.
Both boys are back in swimming lessons with SwimAbility. They finished their fall season right before Christmas, and they just started the winter session 2 weeks ago. I cannot say enough good things about this program. All the volunteers are amazing. You can tell that they really want to be there. The boys have been part of these program for 4 years now out of 3 different city pools and we have not had one bad coach. That is so rare to find such an amazing group of people. Wesley also attends summer camp offered by this program. This year will be the first year Z is old enough to participate in that as well.
Welcome to the Family!
Apollo & Artemis
In October we introduced two new members to our family. We adopted two Canadian Sphynx kittens, whom we named Apollo and Artemis. They are quite the characters. It’s like living with two wild toddlers. My husband describes them as a cat tumbleweed. These two are not like any cat I have ever met.
Originally we were just going to just adopt the male kitten Apollo(cat to the right in the photo above). On the way to my herbalist house, who happens to also breed Sphynx kittens, my husband was against it. He spent the whole way there trying to convince me this was a bad idea. However growing up I had always dreamed to have one of these sweet kittens as a pet. In my mind it was such a wonderful opportunity. There was no way we would ever be able to get one of these beauties from a person I trusted, for the price she was willing to sell him to us for.
When we arrived the breeder took us up to her room where these kittens were. They were just so small and sweet. They would be ready for us to take them home on Thanksgiving Day. While I was snuggling my little boy, my husband kept being drawn to this female kitten with a black and white stripe down her nose. After a bit the breeder told us that she would understand if we couldn’t, but she would love it if the male we were taking and the female that my husband was drawn to could go to the same home. He seemed to think this was a great idea. I on the other hand wasn’t so sure.
So the ride home was much different then the ride there. Now my husband was trying to convince me why we should adopt both kittens. Well needless to say, I have a rubber arm. When we got home I text messaged the breeder and made payment arrangements. So a week later we brought home two kittens instead of one.
Gizmo with the kittens
Our Devon Rex Gizmo took a little while to adjust to them. She’s been an only child so to speak for the last 9 years. So bringing these two home was a real game changer for her. We took it real slow. They have learned to tolerate each other. I don’t think Gizmo will ever love them, but she is willing to live with them, as long as they stay out of her bubble.
Now to talk about Little Z’s progress.
Little Z has been doing amazing. We have noticed even more changes since altering the supplementation program that the Institute gave us. Because Zs blood work came back so amazing, we were on only a few basic supplements. I really felt that he needed a bit more in this area and joined a biomedical Facebook group to learn more. No clearly I don’t just jump on the bandwagon and purchase a supplement because somebody on Facebook says it’s good. However I’m able to find what other families are using, and then do my own research to find if that is a product that would work for my child.
Ideally I would have him on an herbal plan like I’m on with my herbalist. But sadly I know this would be a waste of money as I would not be able to get the herbs into him due to the taste. Like his hearing, he taste can also be hypersensitive at times. So for now he is on the supplements I have researched myself and one herbal supplement that my herbalist recommended that I can get into him.
Since making these changes in his supplementation, we have noticed huge changes in his behaviour and his ability to follow directions. He’s still a busy boy, but less wild. He actually plays with toys now. He’s building better relationships with people and overall we are getting to know the real Zakari.
Little Z on the incline floor
Last week my dad delivered Zs crawling track that he built for us. This was one of the missing keys to our Institute program. So over the last week we have been using it to get in our military crawling. At first I was concerned about Z’s lack of coordination when it came to military crawling. Currently when we have him doing his creeping(crawling on his hands knees) he is able crawl in a cross pattern. But when we started military crawling he was all over the place. So I went on our Facebook group for parents on the IAHP program and spoke to one of the black jackets (aka staff that specialize in the physical program).
Currently on top of our IAHP program we have been working through Bookshark’s PreK homeschool curriculum. I love the literature-based approach to homeschooling. This was a major adjustment for me as I learn best using a workbook approach. But I quickly realize that this was not going to work for a little Z.
Now while we do love Bookshark, we are planning on switching to Build Your Library Kindergarten after we finish Bookshark PreK. Now I’m usually of the mindset, if its not broke, don’t fix it. But over the next few weeks I will share with you why I feel this is the best course of action for Little Z. I will also share with you the critical thinking math program we are working through that is great for kids who are not ready to write just yet. Also we have found a few series that we are reading aloud before bed, and both of us are enjoying them.
Have you ever changed curriculum even though the one you are currently using works? Let me know in the comments below.
Look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come.
11 months after my first journey to Philadelphia. It was almost like a dream. Never in a million years did I think we could pull this off.
But thanks to the help from a wonderful organization, The Elks of Canada, we were there at the airport. Starting our journey to the IAHP in Philadelphia.
Nerves and Worries
I had to say I was completely nervous to be traveling by air with Zakari. He’s not one for crowds and we had a layover in Chicago.
Waiting to check our bag.
We arrived at the airport 2 hours early like they recommended. Then we saw the line to check in. We had tried to check in the night before online, but it said we had to check in when we arrived. So we got in line and waited our turn.
We started getting nervous when the line wasn’t really moving. Were they canceling flights. We had taken a chance and flown United Airlines. yes they had bad publicity lately, but we figured they would now be on their best behaviour since the world was watching.
We finally reach the check in desk and everything was fine. They let us check our bag and off to security we went. Thankfully we were the only people going through security at the time.
Compassionate Security Staff
The people who were running security were amazing. I quickly explained to them that Z has autism and that I could not let go of his hand. They were very compassionate and kind. They had us remove our shoes. We were told that Z could keep his on, but then they noticed they were light up shoes, so they said he had to remove them. Well Mr. Z was more than willing to comply.
From that point on he was convinced you’re not suppose to wear shoes in the airport.
They let me carry Z through the metal detector. We quickly gathered our belongings and made our way to customs. We had 2 back packs, Z’s car seat and 1 carry on because Hubby thought that it would be worth the money to check a bag. Boy was he right! I could not image trying to juggle an extra bag. While the car seat was a pain to drag around, it was a blessing to use on the plane.
We found a little alcove in the waiting area and Z climbed on the couches and got all his wiggles out. They kept changing gates, so we just stayed there till we heard they were boarding our flight. The Winnipeg Airport is very small so its easy to just stay put and move to where you need to be when its time.
We got in line and when we made it to the front the flight attendant said she had called us to board first. We must have missed her call. She said because I had called ahead to let them know about Z’s special needs they wanted to make sure he was taken care of.
Mr Z’s first time on an airplane.
When we got on board, Hubby helped me install Z’s car seat. I have to say, if you have a busy child, make sure to bring your child’s car seat on the plane. Z knows when he’s in a car in his carseat, that’s where he is expected to be.
Take off went well. I was worried he might freak out about his ears popping, but he just plugged them. I had brought ear defenders, but he was not interested in using them.
When they came around with snacks and drinks, they brought him one of those squeezy apple sauces, which he enjoyed. But of course in total Z style, he managed to dump my glass of coke on my lap. Thankfully I had already drank half of it, so I was only a little wet.
The biggest challenge for me was preventing him from kicking the chair ahead of us. He is use to traveling in a van where he has lots of legroom.
Luckily the person in front of him had no one sitting beside him, he was able to move over. That being said I made my best effort to stop him from kicking the back of the chair.
What Do You Mean I Can’t Go Outside?
About 30 mins into the flight Z decided that he wanted to go play outside. Try as I might to explain to him that we are thousands of feet in the air, he still wanted to go play outside. This was one of the many times this trip this poor guy’s mom rained on his parade.
After our 2+ hour flight we landed in Chicago. We waited for the plane to empty out and then we uninstalled his car seat and made our way off.
United Airlines, Amazing Staff!
There waiting for us was a United Airlines employee with a wheelchair. Z needed the opportunity to stretch his legs. But the employee invited us to put his car seat and bags on the wheelchair, and escorted us through the airport to our next terminal gate.
I was so grateful he did! Boy oh boy is the Chicago airport huge! Because he escorted us, we were able to have time for a bathroom break as well as get Z some popcorn to snack on on the next flight.
Because we were right by the gate, we were able to board first. United was able to upgrade our seats so Z had more leg room. Z snacked on popcorn and watched a few episodes of his show I had downloaded from Netflix to his tablet. He started to doze off to sleep just before we landed.
Welcome to Philadelphia
We are in Philadelphia! Posing for a silly picture while Daddy gets our bag.
Once again we let the plane empty out before we gathered our belongings and got off. There waiting for us was another United employee with a wheelchair. We thanked him very much, but told him we knew where to go as I’ve been to the Philadelphia airport before and Z needed to stretch again.
We made our way to the baggage claim. Grabbed our bag and made our way to catch the shuttle to the Alamo, the car rental company.
By now it is Saturday. Z is tired, and a giggling mess. As I waited for Hubby to finalize our car rental, Z is jumping from couch to couch in the empty waiting area.
A few people in line were staring, but frankly I didn’t care. He was not disturbing anyone. It’s after 1 am and my kid is right on the edge of having a party or having a meltdown. I’m wanting to mark this up as a good traveling day, so I’m voting for the party option. I could handle the dirty looks, those would disappear as soon as we got into the rental car. The meltdown however would follow us to the hotel.
A few minutes later we were away from the dirty looks and cruising to our hotel to check in.
Hotel Delays & Walmart
35 mins later we arrived. I had made arrangements with Expedia to be able to check in at 2am. But when I went in, the front desk needed 45 minutes to reboot the system so that the sign in would count as a Saturday check in. So back to the car I went, and off we went to look for food.
A quick trip through a drive through, we still had a bit of time to kill. So Hubby ran into a 24 hour Walmart and picked up some supplies we were going to need in the morning. I waiting in the car while Little Z slept. Of course just before Hubby was about to come out of the store there was a torrential downfall. By the time he got to the car with the bag they were both soaked.
Tired & Panicking
Now I made a huge mistake, while waiting for Hubby. I went and rechecked the hotel we were staying at’s reviews. When I had booked this hotel, the reviews were OK. Now since I last check there was a terrible review. I went into panic mode. Do I call Expedia and try to get into a different hotel? I’m tired and sleep deprived at this point and a bit irrational.
We head back to the hotel and when we arrive there is a sign, “Back in 15 mins.” Are you kidding me? I’m tired and it’s now almost 3 am. I start praying, is this a sign we should find another hotel? I get on the phone with Expedia and am put on hold. As I wait the woman come back to the desk and removes the sign. I hang up the phone, I guess this is where we are suppose to be.
A few minutes later we are parked near our hotel entrance. I’m panicking. Maybe we should check it out first before we bring in the bags and Z? Nope, Hubby wants to bring everything in in one trip. I put the card in the door and slowly open it…
Much to my relief, it looks nice and clean. A quick examination and I’m feeling a bit better. Z immediately makes himself comfortable and takes up a whole bed.
Here we are, we’ve made it. Finally able to kick off our shoes and get cleaned up from our first Traveling Day.
Our Adventures have just begun after our first Traveling Day.