October in Pictures

We went camping up north the first weekend of October.  The weather was  pleasant enough on our first day, but it turned ugly that night.  Rain on and off, the temperature kept dropping, and the wind picked up as the weekend wore on.  We still had fun and (most) of us (the Roc and I) were prepared with cold weather gear….ahem GC is wearing shorts in this pic, though you obviously cannot tell…

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I was glad I bought the dog a fleece sweatshirt, even though I felt ridiculous buying it.  He appreciated it.

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The Roc was happy to get out of school for two days and go to some of his favorite places.  Waterfalls!

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The windchill was definitely well below freezing on our second to last morning and the Roc looked like this

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in his sleeping bag while GC and I were getting breakfast together so we decided to head home a day early.  It was COLD.  We stopped by some waterfalls on the way home, which made the Roc happy.

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Coming home a day early meant we were back in time for the Roc to skate in the Special Hockey open skate down at the University of Minnesota.

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He thought everything Goldy the Gopher did was funny, but he still didn’t want to talk to him.

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The location of the Roc’s hippotherapy changed when the therapist got a new job at a gorgeous camp.  The indoor ring is awesome with lots of seating so I can watch him ride, there is a little black kitten who always comes and sleeps on my lap,

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and the trails are beautiful.  The Roc loves the trail ride portion of his lesson (which will be ending now that winter is almost here.)

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My mom had a birthday and the Roc LOVES to celebrate birthdays so he picked out a cake at the grocery store and insisted we bring it to Grandma.  I need more pictures of the Roc and my mom, they have a special connection.  Both my parents are wonderful to the Roc.

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My parents and I took the Roc hiking one day.  The fall colors were gorgeous.

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The Roc likes to geocache with his Grandpa.  When I asked him if he wanted me to buy a gps so we could go geocaching he said, “But we do that with Grandpa.”  Yup, we do.

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We went a little farther off the trail than we should have on this afternoon and didn’t end up finding the “treasure” as the Roc calls it because my dad and I were a little worried we might fall of the earth.

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Even though we didn’t find what we were looking for, and the Roc complained bitterly, the scenery made up for it.

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A whole forest of yellow maples in the late afternoon sun.  I couldn’t get over the golden color.

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Towards the end of October I met up with my best friend Christa for our annual get-a-way!  We spent the first two days walking around colonial Williamsburg, taking house tours and learning a lot about the revolutionary period.

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IMG_2390We also walked around Jamestown which was fascinating.

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IMG_2479We had a really great time chatting, eating, laughing, catching up, and learning all about colonial times.

Before dropping me off at the airport we stopped by a plantation and took the tour.

IMG_2484After all our touring, listening, and reading museum placards on our trip I suggested that next year we spend a few days laying on a beach somewhere reading trashy novels.  No learning allowed.  We’ll see what happens next fall…

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Something I didn’t take many pictures, and I really should have, was all the decorating the Roc did for Halloween.  As soon as it was October 1st he was allowed to talk about the October holiday (not that he refrained from talking about it since his birthday was over in early August, but I had good reason to tell him that I wouldn’t talk about it until October 1st-my sanity)  The Roc loves Halloween and proclaims it to be his favorite holiday.  He wanted to decorate with the few decorations we have, buy more decorations, and then when I wouldn’t buy as many as he wanted, we made one,

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and then over the month he made many, many more.  He also really wanted a Halloween pinata, I think so he could get more candy.

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Like most parents we ended the month of October with pumpkins,

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trick-or-treating,

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and lots of candy.

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The best day

I’ve been meaning to post about last Saturday because it was a truly wonderful day.  The best day in many, many, many days.  I am still basking in the glow of Saturday (even through the horrid meltdown last night and the crankiness of this morning).  Here’s why:

In the morning we went to the 2nd annual Special Olympics horse show so the Roc could “compete.”  I had thought about making a social story for this event and even asked his instructor for pictures of the facility and of last year’s event.  I never got around to making the social story so we looked at the event pictures on Friday night.  We talked a lot about the fact that he would be riding a new horse at a new place, but his instructor would still be the same and he would do the same activities he does during lessons.  We got there just as the opening ceremonies started so GC dropped us off and went to park the car.  The Roc was immediately anxious about the crowd and so he ended up where he always does during times like those – on my back.  (I wonder what I will do when he gets too big for piggy back rides?!)  We watched the torch being lit and then went to find his riding instructor to get our instructions for the morning.

Once the Roc got his number and the time he would ride we took a little walk to an area less crowded and let the Roc do some hill climbing to burn off some of his anxiety.

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Soon enough it was time to head over to the ring and wait for his turn to ride.  Again the Roc rode on my back through the crowd and I worried a little about how he was going to do because he seemed so wound up.

I didn’t need to worry though.  As soon as he got his helmet on he went off with Becca willingly,

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and then he GRINNED the WHOLE time he rode!

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Except for those moments each time he passed us and he yelled “Hi Mommy!  Hi Daddy!”

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And when he concentrated to stand as they went over the poles.

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When he was done he stood on the podium to receive his medal from the police officer.

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(He looked right into the police officer’s eyes after he got his medal and grinned that famous grin and we are cursing our too slow camera for we didn’t catch it!  It’s time for a new camera.)

After he got his medal we left the event and headed across the border into PA to go apple picking.  The Roc was very excited to go on a hayride so we did that first.  He surprised us by not stimming with the hay, which is what he usually does whenever we go on a hayride.  I think it may have something to do with the medal he insisted on wearing the rest of the day!

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Once the hayride was over we jumped on the shuttle out to the apple orchards and the Roc helped pick the apples.

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He was so pleased with himself and wanted to keep picking even when our bag was full.  He shocked us by eating an apple with the skin on – something that never happens at home!  He waited patiently for the shuttle back to the parking lot even though he had to “go” and told me “I want to pee on the grass right here.”  He does look a little uncomfortable…

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We ended the day by stopping at a Thai food restaurant for a late lunch and he did awesome in the restaurant.   He was excited to point out all the different kinds of lights, the artwork on the walls, and did a running commentary on what the waitresses were doing.

On the ride home GC and I looked at each other and he said to me “This has been the best day.  The best day in a long, long time.”  The day was amazing because the Roc was happy throughout, he didn’t scream about anything, throw any tantrums, or whine about anything.  He was happy.  It was an especially good day for him.

More than all of the things the Roc did right on Saturday, I think that GC meant it was the best day since we received the diagnosis two years ago.  We have each struggled in our own way to come to terms with autism and at the same time have watched the Roc change before our eyes.  Two years ago we dealt with limited communication, many tantrums and much screaming on a daily basis, and we just couldn’t picture a day like Saturday.  A day where we would do so many activities in one day.  A day out as a family, making memories and having fun.  A day where the Roc would be talking to us, describing what he was seeing.  A day where he would transition so easily.  A day where he would keep himself together all day.  A day like Saturday.

Something I know for sure is that Saturday didn’t happen magically.  We’ve all changed.  The Roc is able to handle more change and is able to verbalize much more than he could two years ago.  That is most definitely evident.  But GC and I have changed too.  We know what the Roc likes and doesn’t like.  We know his limits and respect them.  We’ve learned to heed the warning signs or deal with the consequences.  Maybe most importantly we prepare as best we can and we keep trying.  All of us.

Saturday was the best day.

I have no doubt we will have more of them.