Friday, July 22, 2011

Vacation Report

Ok, this is not the greatest picture of all the boys, but it shows them at one of our favorite stops on our recent vacation - Lambert's Restaurant in Sikesville, Missouri, home of the "throwed rolls."

And by the way, "vacation" is a misnomer. There was nothing relaxing about this trip! I think we are going to have to be old and gray before we actually get to rest while on vacation!

We left early on Thurs. morning and drove to Kansas City to go to Worlds of Fun. It had been 21 years since we were there last. It sure was hot! Fortunately, they do have some air conditioned buildings there and every so often, along the walkways they have these fans blowing mists of water, which help. Paul discovered, though, that his head and stomach cannot handle roller coasters like they used to be able to. I remember last Aug. he was starting to have trouble when we went to Adventureland. He's getting old! They had stricter rules there, too, about letting little people onto certain rides. So Sam had to sit out most of the rides. Fortunately, they do have a section of the park just for little ones. He loved that, especially the bumper cars!

Probably the funniest part of the day was when we were watching this show. It was loud, but the building was air conditioned, so we didn't care too much. The performers were putting on old tv theme songs and oldie songs. At one point, they drew Paul out of his seat, put flowers around his neck and had him dancing up on stage! Then, they stuck he and this other lady behind these cut-outs of Sonny and Cher and had them sing, "I Got You, Babe" into the microphone. It was funny - I could see his red face from where we were sitting!

Friday we drove down to Branson. That's when we stopped at Lamberts. We had visited there 3 years ago and knew we had to go back. It's an amazing place! We thought getting there on a weekday, a little past the typical lunch time, would mean that we could get right in. Not so! We had to wait an hour and a half for a table. Fortunately, there were plenty of antique stores nearby that we could browse in while we waited. A lot of people know about Lamberts, evidently! Definitely worth the wait, though.

Saturday morning we had to get up early to go to a time share presentation. I hate those things but it helped pay for our vacation, so we sucked it up and went. Do people ever actually say "yes" to these salesmen? That afternoon we took the boys mini-golfing at an indoor place - thankfully. It was still awfully hot!

That night we went to the Noah show. This was almost as expensive as Worlds of Fun. But it was so awesome! Even the boys said they liked it better than WOF, which surprised me. There is the Sight and Sound theater in Branson that for 35 years has been committed to bringing the Bible to life through musicals. This was an amazing show. The audience was made to feel as though they were inside the ark during part of the show. I loved how as the story drew to a close, the musical didn't end with the final scene of Noah's family exiting the ark and seeing the first rainbow. Instead, the sides of the ark on the stage fell away and just the crosspieces remained, forming a cross shape. Then, an actor dressed as Jesus came forward and gave the "rest of the story" with a clear Gospel message. Very cool!

During the show, I was watching the family in front of us. They had two boys and the oldest clearly had autism. He was very distressed at different points in the show because he couldn't handle the extra stimulation happening on stage. But his parents did a good job with him, doing "deep compressions" on his arms and legs to calm him down and talking him through some of the more difficult parts. I wanted to say something to them but never got the chance.

On Sunday we visited a church in Branson. There are churches everywhere down south! This one was a little more modern - but I couldn't find any fault with the pastor's message. He did call the second service the "hangover service" which I didn't think was in very good taste. And he also said, "Holy Crap!" during his message. But, other than that, it was fine. It was obviously a seeker-friendly church and very, very involved in donating to worthy organizations. Different, but not wrong.

Sunday afternoon we took the boys to a water park in Branson. It was both indoor and outdoor, which was nice, since it was still so hot. I really enjoyed myself there, especially on the Lazy River! I love those things!

That night we drove to Sedalia, Mo and spent the night. The next day we drove home, making a few stops along the way. We ate lunch at an Applebees, per the boys' request. They had never eaten at one before and wanted to see what they were like. I've eaten there many, many times, but we indulged them. Our last stop was in Lamoni, Iowa. I had read about an Amish store down there that has been put together with the help of Graceland University. We didn't get into town until 7pm so I was just sure that the store would be closed already. But it wasn't!

It was neat as we were driving through town to see the Amish homes there and we met quite a few buggies along the way. I felt so sorry for the drivers in their dark clothing when it was still over a 100 degrees. How awful to have to live without air conditioning! But the store was really cool (literally and figuratively). The lady running it was delighted to see our family and had to make a big deal out of the fact that we had all boys. She raised 5 daughters, so could relate, somewhat. I ended up buying a new step basket since the boys destroyed my other one. They had better not touch this one! On the bottom, the Amish family dated and signed it, along with all the names in their family. They mentioned on it that they have a baby named "Verna." So, so cool!

And now we're home and I am still exhausted! I just have not caught up yet! Fortunately, this week has not been too terribly busy and I've been able to kind of ease into it.

I found out this week that my dad has a gene that causes excessive clotting - it's called Factor V Leiden. When he was in the hospital a few weeks ago an old friend on Facebook contacted me and suggested that Dad get tested because she had been through a similar experience herself. At first the dr. kind of poo-poohed the idea but he did agree to do the testing. More than likely, I have the gene, too. I'm getting my blood drawn this Monday to find out for sure. I'm kind of excited by this news because if I do have it, it would explain why I had the stroke, which has always been a troubling mystery. I don't know what they do once somebody is identified as having this defective gene. I already take an aspirin every day, but maybe they'll want to have me start on an anti-coagulant since I'm obviously at a higher risk for clots and thus, strokes. That's if I have it. If I do, though, I will need to get the boys tested as well, since I may very well have passed it on to them.

Yesterday we met with Ben's new case worker for his waiver. Somehow, he "fell through the cracks" when we applied and were granted this waiver in 2010. I always kind of wondered why I was never contacted but then I would forget. But anyway, his case worker is a lovely person and I very much enjoyed meeting her yesterday. She'll be coming to our house once every 3 months and calling monthly. Ben is eligible for a host of services through this waiver including respite care, which he already gets, Easter Seals camps, and a $5000 grant if we needed to modify anything in our home or vehicle for him. We don't need that yet and may never need it. We can also get someone to come into our home and teach him basic life skills - money management, cooking, telephone skills, etc.

I also found out that shortly before Ben's 18th birthday we will have to hire a lawyer and apply to the courts to be appointed Ben's legal guardians. If we don't, we will no longer be able to make decisions or to even be on his bank accounts. We couldn't even sign his IEPs for him. It's crazy! And then we'll have to do it again someday before our deaths should he outlive us, which I assume he will. I thought being parent was equivalent to being a legal guardian, but I guess that's only until the 18th birthday.

Ben's case manager commented several times how impressed she was with Ben's manners and ability to communicate. That made me feel good! She said that because of that he will be a good candidate for job training - actual job jobs, not just work done in a separate work space, like they do with more handicapped adults. I'm so glad to hear that because that is what I want for him. Apparently there is an organization in Indianola that he'll be able to work with once he turns 16 that will teach him job skills and basic things like attention to detail, clocking in, keeping focused on the job at hand, etc.

Oh, and on the subject of Ben: I was asked to write a piece for the series, "Growing Up with Autism" for an autism blog. I ended up writing about our education journey with him. You can read it here: Scroll down a little bit and I'm the second paragraph in. There's a good picture of the two of us there. David snapped that for me yesterday.

Well, this is what I know for now. This afternoon I have to run Will up to Des Moines for his sports physical. He leaves Monday for two straight weeks at camp. He'll be at Sr. High camp next week and then just as soon as that ends on Sat. he'll be working the last Family camp of the season. He gets back on Friday, the 5th, and starts practice on the next Monday. It suddenly occurred to him on Wed. of this week that he needs a physical before then! Normally, he gets them at the school, but that wasn't going to work this time with him being gone. Fortunately, I was able to get him in with one of the drs where I started going this spring.

I had better stop typing. Today, I was trying to pick up a thumbtack out of a little basket on my desk. I wasn't very successful. I stabbed my pointer finger pretty badly. In fact, I had to pull the thumb tack OUT of my finger. Owww! It's starting to throb now. Better give it a rest! Time for some lunch and another chapter in my current murder mystery, "Lye in Wait."

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