Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Life with a Spirited Child

Aaaaargh.  It's been another one of those mornings.  Having had children with speech and language delays, sensory processing disorders, and now potentially ADD, it's hard to know when it's one of those coming through, or lack of sleep ("Sleepy Bugs") or hunger ("Hungry Monster"), or their "spirited" personality.

 Today was a good example.  She (Megan) was tired (busy weekend away at her first synchro skating competition and three late nights since then), and then couldn't find ANY socks that were her's in the clean laundry.  Well, there were her socks, but not the match for the one she wanted (I throw all the kids socks in a basket on the shelf, and when I get a chance, I match them up, or make them).  I think I've seen a match for that one sock....once.  However, there are dirty socks on the couch, on a kitchen chair, in the basement (that's a popular spot), on the stairs....finally, two matching, acceptable socks were found.

Then it was "I need something to eat!".  I don't usually make her breakfast, I'm busy making lunch which is more predictable and routine.  She settled on corn flakes, but I didn't know how much to pour.  While checking the bowl out, she saw I had put brown sugar on.  That was WRONG!  What kid doesn't want brown sugar on their corn flakes?!

Then she remembered about her e-reader.  The school is participating in "Battle of the Books" and this year, she can take part, and now the books are on e-readers.  She took in her Sony e-reader, hoping to get the book put on it, but the tech guy said he couldn't.  Last night she was reading, and came down saying she was on page 30 of 40 for the chapter but suddenly the box at the bottom came up and she didn't touch anything but now the line spacing was different and there was only 37 pages in the chapter and it wasn't where she left off.  Since it was late, I said we'd look at it in the morning.

So, in the mad rush of morning, here I am trying to get the chapter to  have 40 pages, by changing the font size and the line spacing.  I get it to 40 pages, but page 30 is not where she was.  So, I fiddle with it to make the font and spacing look like it did before, but now there's only 36 pages and page 30 is not where she was.  She was getting really agitated, and I tried to explain that those numbers really don't matter, as long as she can find where she was.  She was really headed towards a meltdown.
This is one of the things we deal with frequently, with her.  Her idea/belief that something is a certain way and no discussing it will change her mind.  Her synchro coach told the team to come to the show with their hair done a certain way.  Then she sends an email saying the team will do it together before the show.  This caused a major meltdown.
All she could say about where she was in the book was that it mentioned "Mr Brunner" so I scrolled around to find his name somewhere after where I had left off last night.  That was the spot, but it was not page 30 of 40.  Argh.  Finally, she relented and took it.

The alarm to go get coats and boots on sounded.  That's usually when she realizes she needs money/forms signed/different socks/gym shoes in a different size/secret Santa gift, etc.  Some of these things could be avoided if I'd remember to check her agenda when she gets home from school....but due to her language, that's not always easy to understand.  And I think I might have ADD too :)

Today could have been much worse, and many mornings are.  She can be difficult to understand, verbally, and that just makes it even harder.  Put it all together, and whoa.  Why is it the parents of these kids are exhausted but the kids themselves never seems to need sleep?!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Trip Home

Ugh.  What can be said about flights home?  Well, this time again, lots. And not a lot of good things.

The day started fairly early, earlier than it needed too, just like every other cruise when I tell Rob we don't need to get up so early LOL.

We reminded the kids what the cabin had looked like when we arrived, LOL.  It sure didn't look like this when we left.  They weren't pleased that we couldn't go back to the cabin after leaving it in the morning, so we had to make use of our time before our luggage call.  We went to the Windjammer for breakfast, though we weren't too hungry (pizza at 11pm, means no hunger at 6:30am LOL).  I wish they could give you a lunch to go, or at least let you take a few cookies.  We noticed the sun was rising so we headed out to the jogging track for a last walk around the ship, and watch the sunrise.  Where we live, we don't get a good view of it, so the kids actually did think it was neat.

 Lucy's zoom isn't as good as mine; I think I packed my camera in my suitcase for some odd reason!  D'oh!

 After a cool walk around we were back inside near the kids' area, and the kids got friendly with Flipper.  The ship is really quiet on the last morning, despite most people still being on it, and even up and about.  They're congregating in their designated spots, or the Windjammer, so it's a neat time to explore a bit more.

Hugh got a little TOO friendly we Flipper and we moved on.
 Our designated spot was the theater.  Fine with me.  We found Mum and Dad M, and tried to rest for a bit.  Soon, it was our time to go off.  I forgot my water bottle and it's wonderful holder, one of the first I made using recycled wool :(  Quite ticked off about that.

Getting your luggage in the terminal is a pain in the butt.  Although I don't like the walk off option because it's too early, it might be worth it next time.  They should offer walk off all morning though.

Trying to find a cab/van for all 7 of us.  Ugh.  We got shuffled around, misinformed, and finally got split up into two taxis.  Got to the Ft Lauderdale airport.  I am really tempted to never fly out of there again.  Miami wasn't great either, but that was mainly because of the people.  Ft. Lauderdale was just a nightmare.  I don't remember it being like that before, though I remember it pretty clearly! A long line for the ticket counter.  In fact, out the door.  We got up there, and didn't have assigned seats--that's extra.  The agent gave my inlaws the last row on the plane and when Mum complained, he said "Well, you should have paid the extra for assigned seats".  They did get moved up, and were lucky to actually have an empty seat beside them.  What grumpy agents though.  We should be the grumpy ones, waiting in line and going home to snow!

Then, it's time for security.  OMG.  The line snaked it's way down the hall, out the doors, and down the length of the building.  People were stunned as they walked along the line, looking for the end.  At one point they called for everyone going on a flight to Columbia to come to the front because they wouldn't have made their flight if they stayed in line.  We watched people cause a raucous because the rest of their party was already in line and halfway up, some other lady came flying past saying her flight boards in 3 minutes and she has to be let through.  The agents were strict though.  Even with Mum striking up a conversation with people in line, it still took a LONG time to get through.  There were signs they were under construction, so maybe it will be better--it certainly wasn't like that before.  Going through the actual security part was also a pain with the kids, we got split up.  Finally, we were through and headed to our terminal.

OMG.  The place was packed.  Absolutely packed.  People everywhere.  There were several international flights to central and South America waiting to board, so I guess those were big planes.  We looked on the board and noticed that our gate was not what was on our tickets.  Mmmm.  We walked around, said "no" to the kids a lot, tried to find an outlet for chargers (Rob moved a pop machine LOL).  I took Meg to the washroom...the Lady's one in that area had a long line, but there was a sign for another one.  So we followed it....out an emergency exit, down some cold stairs, through a cordoned off area at the side of a parking lot/airport vehicle road, to a little tiny washroom.  No line up though!

We got back, and the crowd thinned.  They announced a different gate for us. We checked the board, and the gate was different.  Mmmm.  We found seats at that gate.  Then someone walked by and said it was at a different gate.  Moved.  Got a snack.  MIL got the life story of several passengers.  I connected to Facebook and found out we had missed terribly cold weather and they just had a big snowstorm and many flight cancellations the day before!.  And were going to get another storm that night!  Would we make it home?!  The gate changed again!  We decided to not move seats again though LOL.  Also found out that another Royal Caribbean ship had 300+ sick from Norwalk, and they had been at some of the same ports as us!  I was messenging with my Dad, trying to figure out if my brother should bring our dog down with him from long would he be home alone then...

And our flight got delayed 45 minutes.  Apparently a flight attendant got sick and they had to wait for one to fly in from Montreal.  Ugh.  We had bought some duty free liquor  and were getting worried that it wasn't going to end up at the right gate LOL.  The kids were getting bored and silly.  And hungry.

And then they announced that the water pipes on the plane had froze and there'd be no (free) hot coffee or tea on the flight!  Are you kidding me?  As Lucy would say.  I had packets of instant French Vanilla coffee, I just had to find some hot water before boarding.  However, Rob and Lucy went and bought some coffee.  Not very good coffee, but at least it was something.

Finally, we boarded.  The flight was pretty average, though Meg watched much of the movie in French because she didn't know there was an English station.  That was fine because it wasn't a kid friendly movie.

We landed.  We clapped.  We noticed it was snowing, pretty fiercely.  Headed in to customs.  Some technical issues with the do-it-yourself machines, but we were tired and hungry.  Even with the machines, there's a long wait to go through customs.  Actually, I don't remember if we use the machines on the way back.  I just remember the long, long wait, snaking back and forth, suitcases falling over.

Then, we had to find the place to call for our shuttle.  Meg and I pretty much got left behind because she was having so much trouble with her suitcase.  Then we had to walk part way back again.  At least the wait wasn't too bad because the driver had been there waiting for us (our flight was almost an hour late).

The drive home.  OMG.  Late on a Sunday night should not have been busy...but it was a freaking snowstorm!!  I was texting my SIL as they were on their way down from Bancroft with our dog.  Accidents left and right on the 401.  A little scary!!  The worst was the streets leading up to our house--they hadn't been plowed yet, and the van driver nearly lost it coming around our corner!!

Home.  We were starving, having had no real lunch or dinner.  And this is what greeted us in the fridge:

Not much real food.  And those grapes were pretty shrivelled.   I think Rob went to get pizza (crazy man going out in the snow), which the kids took for left over for their lunch on Monday.

What a trip home, for the kids' first travel experience!  At least our flight wasn't cancelled, though so many were that month.  They had even shut down the airport because it was just too cold!!  The entire next week at school/work, we had indoor lunch because it was too cold!  Welcome home!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 8, At Sea

On cruises, come the last day, people seem to fall into two groups:  those that vacationed hard at the start and are now sleeping away in their cabins, or those that took it easy at the start and are now running around trying to get to everything they thought they'd have time for later.  We're kind of in the middle.  We're pretty good at pacing ourselves, but four days in a row of going ashore (somewhat early), and we were not keen on starting day 8 too early.  The days are pretty long, if you go to any of the evening shows.  Many mornings on the cruise started off cool (especially the first couple while at sea from Florida), and this morning felt cooler too.  We were on our way home :(

First up was another attempt by the girls on the rock wall.  I think Nya made it to the top this time, but Meg didn't.  She got confused at one spot and just came down.
This is Lucy, above.  She did a great job!  I don't have a picture of Nya.
Megan tried a different route, but it was hard!

After lunch was a Q and A in the theater with performers from different shows, including a guy from Barrie, Ontario, in the ice show.  One thing that was brought up was that this ship (or, this class of ship--there's three, I'm not sure if it was that one ship or all three) has the largest live orchestra at sea.  There is 8, I think, on that ship, and other ships (including the larger Oasis class) have only 7, and only 5 on the smaller ships.  Several cruise lines do not even use live music in their shows...including Disney!!  How can you go to a theater show and hear recorded music?!

Royal Caribbean prides itself on its art collections on the ships.  Just walking down the cabin corridors, you'll find interesting art, with information plates.  In the elevator area, there is larger scale art, like this:

I tried to take the picture at the scale that you see it at while on the elevator.  A typical sort of still life, but what is the medium?

Mmmm....seems kind of stripey.
Super zoom to the rescue:

It's a mosaic made from spools of sewing thread!!!  How creative!!  There's a well known "knitting picture" that it reminds me of, Debbie New's "Granny Squares" afghan.  Mmmm.  Can't find a good picture on Google :(

Meg and I went for another skate at some point.  We kind of lost track of what everyone was doing, where they were, for most of the day.  LOL.  We had walkie talkies, but either people didn't take them, couldn't hear them, the batteries were dead, or someone else was on the channel.

We did miss the fruit and vegetable carving and the towel folding, and the Hip Hop dance class, LOL.

 The afternoon was spent on the pool deck, except Mum and Lou went to play bingo.  The kids had a great time with the two girls from Ohio that they had met earlier in the week.

I like this picture of Lucy underwater.  I'm glad all my kids like being in the pool.  They don't like swimming lessons anymore, but they're quite fine in the ocean or pool.


 There were some great dessert choices as usual.

 Hugh and Lucy really started acting more like siblings on the trip.  It was nice to see them start liking each other!

There was a Farewell show at 9:00....don't ask me anything about it :)

Hugh and Lucy were going to go to the Teen Room for the evening activities, with the Ohio girls, but Hugh wasn't feeling well, so they didn't.  That was fine, since we had to pack and get our suitcases out in the hall by 11pm, I think.  Earlier in the week, Guest Services told us that Megan's suitcase couldnt' be fixed, but they had a new one for us.  It was much larger, and seemed better at first (four wheels!), but then we found the inner pocket on the lid was torn.  And it had a terrible plastic smell!  Like my pink suitcase, it was hard to balance, and kept tipping over.

Someone suggested getting a picture of the suitcases in the hall, just in case something happened to them overnight.  Good idea!  People seem pretty honest though. Actually, this isn't all the suitcases--Meg's isn't here.  And there might have been another carry on size suitcase.

Despite needing to get to bed early, we didn't.  We had to say good bye to Lou and Nya!  As usual, the week (we even had an extra day!) went too fast.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lost iPod

My daughter, Lucy Mainwaring, lost her iPod on the GO Train in Union Station on Saturday July 5 2014.  Her name, Lucy Mainwaring, is on the back of the iPod (which is in a case).  I've Googled her name to see what comes up if someone finds it and Googles her name.  Not much comes up, but she is on Facebook.  I'm hoping posting her name, Lucy Mainwaring, here, will help her appear on Google.  LOL.  Don't know if it will work, but Lucy Mainwaring really wants her iPod back.  I'd like it back too cause it's how I text her when I'm out, and how she keeps in touch with her friends.  Now she's back to using my phone and my iPad. Lucy Mainwaring is sad!  Help Lucy Mainwaring get her iPod back!  :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Family Cruise 2014: Day 7, Labadee

We had mixed views on our return to Labadee.  I had heard there would be another ship our size there, which would make for a lot of people.  However, it wasn't there.  In fact, maybe it was the cooler weather, but it actually felt less crowded than the first time we went. 
The first thing we did (after trying to figure out the maps and where to go...poor signage!!), was get to Columbus Cove and get some lounge chairs.  This was the first time we had someone set up the chairs for us, and I'm sure we could have done it ourselves.  Cheaper.  But I'm sure when it's busy, it might be more appreciated.
Lots of things have changed at Labadee, but the men hawking "Labadoozies" are still there!
The kids were thrilled to finally be in some calm water.  Though I think it bored Hugh quickly.  It did seem quite cool at first.

We got some lunch at Columbus Cove.  Some people loved the ribs, some people hated them.  I wish there was food available later in the day, even just some snack type things.
The kids had tickets for 1:00 at the water park.  They were excited though we let them know it wasn't as easy as it seemed.  They got off to a great start, and the adults relaxed on the beach.  After 20 minutes, Lou went over to check on them, and the kids were done, and some were upset.  Meg's lifejacket, although the right size, was floating above her ears and she couldn't climb up onto any of the inflatables.  Nya got a scrape from one thing and also had a hard time climbing up, even though she was taller than the minimum height.  They really didn't enjoy it.  They probably would have preferred the all day tickets for the waterslide, although we thought it was overpriced at $22 (I think).  I can go to a water park for not much more.
The waterslide was new; previously there had been an inflatable water slide.

Hugh hams it up underwater.
Hugh and Nya had fun playing aquatic engineers. 
There were some issues with other similar aged children though.  Just some weird kids/families.
Meg spent much of the time doing this (above; that's her floating with the snorkel)
The ladies decided to head up to the artisan's village to check things out.  I warned them about the aggressiveness of some (most) of the sellers.  Before we even were off the beach and onto the road below the village, these men in pink shirts were yelling to me.  It was rather uncomfortable (though I know we're safe, I don't like being approached and begged to buy things). 
These shots are from the trolley ride back to the dock.  Those pink shirt men were awful.  Other vendors in the village were not so bad, but it was quite the experience for the kids!  It made for some interesting discussions about poverty, business, and tourism.  "Are they willing to haggle so low because they are SO desparate for ANY money, or because that's the real value to them?".  Etc.

The artisans in the building in the town square are a totally different experience.
Lots of changes, this sign said something was being planned there.  I couldn't get anyone to visit the Dragon's Breath rock formation, or Adrenaline Beach, and the first two beaches when you come off the ship seem to be for the spa and high up Crown & Anchor people.
View from the pier, above, and close up below
Check out the Labadee posts from our earlier trips.
View of the top of the zip line.
Even on the pier, there were performers trying to make a dollar.  Things just seemed rather over priced (the floating beach mat?  Snorkel rental? ).  I'm not really interested in going back to Labadee, unless we rent a cabana (sort of surprised we didn't, given the number of people we had, but I think we would have had to rent two).

Once we were back on board...what did we do?  Ummm...probably eat and nap?  Swim?  I wanted to go to family scrapbooking, but it was at 5:15.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was on the big screen, but at 6:00.  I do know that at 9pm we went to the Production Showtime, though I don't remember what it was about.  Maybe it was the History of Dance night.    All Production Showtime shows are worth going to.  Absolutely outstanding theater.  The Quest was also on that night, but none of us really wanted to go.  Lou hadn't been to one, but I suggested watching it on the TV later LOL.  Lucy and Hugh went to the Teen Quest, at 11pm with the friends they had made through Nya.  I'm not sure what time they got back, but it was after midnight.  They had a great time.  Even though Lucy wasn't technically old enough for the teen program, because she was going with a teen sibling, and was "almost" old enough, they allow it.  They should have mentioned this earlier in the week when Lucy complained about being too old for the kid program.  So keep this in mind if you're going with teens and pre-teens.  Know your kids and  their maturity and interests.

My take on Labadee...I don't have any interest in going back.  I really want to see their spot in the Bahamas.  Labadee is fine, and a nice relaxing day that can be a cheap day (watch those Labadoozies!), but unless you're into parasailing, and zip line, and the roller coaster, etc (ie: things that cost money!), then once is enough.  I am interested to see what they do in those areas that say they're "growing".