LGA went to stay with my friend and her fiancee. They had her mother and her stepson and his cousin staying also. Luckily the cousin is someone LGA likes (there is another cousin who also has ADD/ADHD and she asked me if he would be there. He wasn't there this weekend). We arranged for LGA to come over in the am and stay the night and then we would all meet up for brunch this am.
My girls as you all know if you've read this blog long enough, do not like to stay at other people's houses. Even if it's someone they are close to, they do want to come home. They have a good time, but they always feel better when they are home. Maybe it's due to their past, and feeling secure. I always feel my kids are in good hands when they stay with my friend. She loves them as if they were her own and she takes good care of them.
I started talking up LGA's weekend last weekend when we saw my friend and she suggested it. I said what a good time she'd have, that we'd all meet up on Sunday. She rather tearfully asked me the first couple of days if her sister would go. I said she wouldn't be, but it would be a fun time for LGA to stay on my friends' ranch. There's so much to do there, they have bunnies (always a favorite) and chickens now. I knew she'd have a great time. They were planning on building a dog kennel and picking tomatoes (yay, I can finally try out my new dutch oven and I have enough tomatoes to make homemade pasta sauce and freeze some) and I knew she'd have a good time. So, I started in bit by bit, saying what a good time she'd have. She was fearful, but by Sat am, she was ready to go.
That meant we had instead of a kid free weekend, half a kid free weekend. We had plans to take BGA to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/. If you know me, you know I love Monterey and the aquarium. We don't go often as it's not very cheap, but we have never taken the girls. I gave BGA a choice of the aquarium or something else to do and she picked the aquarium. So we planned on the aquarium and dinner after.
We got a bit of a late start to drive to Monterey so we arrived around 1pm. We'd planned on 12, but it all worked out ok. We saw many things in the aquarium. The most famous exhibit is the Sea Otters, which I love to see. Unfortunately my otters were off display till March 2013 as they were renovating the habitat. That sort of bummed me out as I would have rather have waited till we could see the otters and visit another time. However, we used full advantage of our time, touring each part of the aquarium, seeing deep sea fish, seahorses, jellyfish, penguins, sharks, turtles, etc. It was fun, but also hard to keep up with BGA as she raced off ahead. Since the aquarium was packed, we had to ask her to slow down and wait for us. Luckily it was cool in Monterey (in the 60's! Considering where we live inland it was in the 90's, it was so nice, weather wise) and I'd given BGA a bright color sweat jacket, so she was very visible. But a few times we had to ask her to not run ahead. There are usually lots of people from the European and Asian countries, so it was pretty packed on a Saturday. Members come a lot as well, and for what we paid, we wished we had memberships.
BGA got to touch starfish, and kelp, but refused to touch the crab in the display. It was a bit funny as the person who was doing instruction kept trying to get her to touch the crab and she wouldn't. But we really enjoyed having one child to take on a special trip, where there were no fights or tantrums, etc. I feel bad about that, but really we needed respite from LGA. She's been throwing down some major tantrums/fits as of late (see Back to School Night's previous post) and it's no fun. BGA, however, not really having been on her own was a bit nervous and anxious (gotta love ADD meds) and she chatted. The.whole.way.there. Seriously non stop. One of her questions was, "what is a wharf and why do they call it Fisherman's Wharf?" And went on from there.
Eventually she enjoyed the day and we did a bit of shopping, after the museum, although not much as Dave's not really up to a lot of walking these days, so he mainly waited for us. He's been riding his excercycle so his legs were good, his back was sore from the 2 hour drive to Monterey.
We decided to stop at Bubba Gumps for dinner as it was after 5 and we knew we had a 2 hour drive to get home. Now, some of you, well, ok most of you, probably don't know...........I am not a fan of the Bubba Gump movie. I'm just not. I love Tom Hanks, Sally Field and Gary Sinise. I just am NOT a fan of the movie. So BGA and I did some browsing in shops while we waited (Bubba Gumps in on Cannery Row) and then ended up in the candy shop. My phone died so by the time we got out, Dave was at his table. He didn't tell me what happens when the waitress comes to the table.............she starts asking you questions from the movie. I knew some of them, but man, it was not up my street. BGA of course, LOVED it. She has not seen the movie, so she guessed and of course some of the quotes are on the table, so she had fun saying them. I really think this kid could be an actress some day, she really gets into it and it was really cute. We looked around the walls and read the quotes to each other. It was so much fun to do this un-interrupted and not have jealousy or fits erupt. I seriously enjoyed this restaurant experience with BGA. She told us over dinner that it was the best day ever and she really enjoyed herself. She wants to come back. I think we'll come back but instead of the aquarium, we'll drive down the coast, when the girls have their one week fall break next month.
Dave and I felt bad, but we both agreed there would have been no way we could have taken both girls at this point. We really needed the respite from LGA. I can be honest here and admit it. If you've raised or are raising a special needs child, respites are really important. I had had one when my mom passed away in May and I spent a week and a half on my own handling her estate and then Dave got one when the girls and I spent 18 days for mom's funeral and working on her estate. But there's something about one child, that makes a difference, especially since back to school has been a bit rough, lately.
BGA woke up singing at the top of her lungs, she really had a great time and even though we got back late, and we talked again the whole way home till BGA crashed in the back seat. Today she was in a good mood till we got to the restaurant and picked up LGA. I think she was a bit jealous. I don't think she thought LGA would have as good of a time as she did and she's very protective and demanding of my attention and didn't like it shifting to LGA. She did recover well, but it took her awhile. We struggle with the jealousy and fighting the girls do over who gets attention. It's always been this way. The girls are so insanely jealous of each other. LGA desperately wants her sister's attention and BGA doesn't want to give it. She's getting closer to the teen years and wants some independence. So then LGA gets mad and doesn't know how to handle it and becomes aggressive. LGA asked me, which again reminded me of all the girls have been through, "I go home with you mommy? I want to go home with you." I had explained she would stay one night but I guess she thought we weren't going to take her home. Poor girl. Just shows how fragile their attachment can be at times. LGA was happy to come home. My friend said, "do you want to come back next time on your own or with your sister?" She said, "with my sister." But I think she needs this independence and it's good for her to go and come back, on her own.
LGA started in the minute we got back in the car to go to Target for some items. There puppies/dogs/kittens at Petsmart and so we went over to look at them, Dave headed back in to the Electronics section of Target. When I didn't want to get any of the animals from a local rescue, LGA became insistent over a kitten and had a hard time letting go when it was time to go. She started in with the fits and I thought, "here we go again.........." but she stopped herself and just stomped her foot. We got off easy there, but in Target, she wanted to spend the money that my friend gave her (and I let her bring her piggyback money in case my friend and her mom took her anywhere to spend it) for working so hard. She had $4. She picked some trading cards that were $1.99 each, so I had to explain that there would be tax. Luckily she had enough change to cover it. She was happy but there was more foot stomping and arms folded, chest extended, when I explained she could only get 2 pkgs of the cards, not 3. I thought 'whew, we got away with foot stomping this time.' I was mistaken.
We came home and I took a nap. I had had about 4 glasses (I was thirsty) of iced tea for dinner. That doesn't bold well for me if the tea is strong (it was, and good). So I was up till 3am and couldn't sleep. So I wanted a nap. I barely made it through brunch as Dave woke me up at 7 so we could get BGA bathed, ourselves ready, get gas, etc. So I slept for a bit on my bed, till I heard LGA complaining about something, her earring, I think. She's got some sensory, I believe and sometimes her earrings bother her so we take them out and give the ears a rest and put them back in. Of course it was a huge emergency and even though she saw me sleeping away, I hear, "Mommy you up? Mommy my ears hurt. Mommy you take out my earrings?" So at that point, napping was futile because the OCD brain of my daughter takes over and she won't rest till it's fixed.
Then there was som arguing about Nintendos (we let them play, but LGA has a hard time turning off Nintendo even though she's been given several warnings, which is making us want to limit the Nintendo time) and some more foot stomping and more fit throwing behavior for LGA. By this time we'd decided to go to dinner and I had to get to LGA's level and remind her that her restaurant behavior has not been good lately and if she did not want to behave we would be getting our order to go. Nintendo playing would also take a break.. She got it, and for the most part did well. But there were some pre tantrums and I again had to remind her of the consequences. But we managed a good dinner and some laughs, like it used to be. I believe reminding her of the consequences, and outlining behaviors will help. I hope so, but it's never an easy journey, the one we're on. I'm sure other meds will be added, and it will be something we will need to do this year, I'm just not wanting to put her on any other meds yet. But I think she obviously needs them.
I have seen all around the blogs this week about respite for parents of special needs kids. It's very important. We haven't had it, and I have not really asked for it, nor do I feel comfortable with my kids staying with anyone I don't know. So the result has been the only respite time we get is when the girls are in school and Dave is at work, I am home. Dave is back to having Mondays off, so we can spend some time together before school, but now he's back to working Tues-Sat. I hate when he works Saturdays as it means I have the girls on my own and by week's end, LGA's exhausted and cannot hold it together. She acts out in many ways, till her body can relax from the stress of school. It's trying and I'm usually ready for Dave to come home. Although the 18 days I had them all on my own I got very used to parenting by myself, so I think this time when he starts his Saturdays up again, it won't be as bad.
So that was our weekend............pretty good one, if I do say so. I could stay in Monterey for a long time. I definitely want to go back. BGA loved it, loved being near the ocean and we all enjoyed the cooler temps.
I'll try and post my phone pics if I can upload them. Last few times I've posted they've been really small and I need to find out how to upload them to my pc.