Sunday, January 28, 2007
There's New Royal Couple in the Castle!

Well, I am back. We just returned from a week at Walt Disney World and had a fabulous time. I think we finally got everything right all at the same time on a vacation.
Weather was perfect,crowds low.
Stayed at the Yacht Club Resort on site and it was gorgeous and the perfect location and they upgraded our room for free.
We decided to fly instead of drive and to not rent a car and that was a great decision. My husband was so happy and relaxed to be able to leave all the driving to someone else. Disney really has their on site transportation down to a science.
My husband also actually did not do any long distance work, check in at the office or keep his phone with him this trip, another sign of his commitment to truly relax and enjoy the week.
We had a tentative daily schedule and had one dining reservation made for each day and I have to say,as the Activities Chairman and Tour Guide, I did a great job.
We were all sad to have to come home, a true sign of a good trip.
I did learn a few things this trip about my children and my husband......and myself.
First ,my kids.
This was the first trip to Disney without using a stroller. My two little troopers never once complained of getting tired even though I am sure we walked miles and miles every day. They stayed close to us and never once wandered off or tried to get lost. They earned their stroller free status for good. I also know that we all enjoyed the parks so much more because of the stroller less freedom. Because of this new found status , I noticed something at the parks. The huge number of strollers and how rude and ignorant of the "walkers" most stroller pushers were acting. They would travel in packs three and four strollers wide totally blocking an entire street width from anyone passing them.And then the entire wheeled entourage would stop to gab or peruse a map or just look around confused while about several hundred pedestrians behind them would come to a grinding halt and they remained oblivious to what they were doing.I was also shocked at how many6,7,8 and 9 year old's were being pushed around the parks. I mean, aren't we a nation that is lamenting our overweight and under exercised kids? Why were so many healthy and able bodied kids being pushed around the parks? I am still perplexed by what I saw. I am feeling pretty smug that my two lean fit kiddos walked and cavorted through the parks and endless walking with energy and excitement and never once looking out of breath or out of shape.
Second thing I learned was that my husband and I take a different approach to discipline on vacation. I saw that I tend to relax a bit and let things slide and generally take a gentler view of some behavior. I understand that they are excited when faced with new experiences and surroundings and cut them some slack.
Dad on the other hand , seemed to go the other way. Expecting a little more since we are in public constantly on vacation and seemed to forget a little that they were just 5 and 7. I think about midweek he even began to get on his own nerves and saw "the Light" and came over to my side and chilled out.
We were very proud of our son, who did great the entire week with nary a meltdown or PDD or SI incident.My husband and I have always had a different approach to our son and his challenges. Dad tries to figure out before hand what he will and won't like and direct activities accordingly. I, on the other hand, will let him try anything and then go to plan B or chalk it up to experience it things don't go as planned. Our different views came into play on Day One. Magic Kingdom offers so many new and different rides that can thrill or horrify a child with an autism spectrum disorder and my husband is little more protective than me of the little prince . Add to that our daughter,the princess, who has yet to meet a ride that is fast enough, scary enough or high enough to satisfy her 5 year old self. The term fearless was created with her in mind. In line for our first ride, Goofy's Barnstormer, which is a kiddie roller coaster that is pretty fast and very curvy and more of a mini adult version rather than a tame child one, my dear husband kept giving me the " your going to see I'm right"eye as we stood in line. My son watched the coaster whiz by and laughed and jumped around in anticipation as the screams of the riders echoed. Husband just kept shaking his head. I wasn't really sure which way it would go, but hoping for the best. Our turn,-we ride, we scream, we get off. And my wonderful and brave son screeches with delight "WOW, That was FUN"! 1 point for Mom, Dad proud of son and waiting for Mom to say I told you so. I didn't.Wanted to, but refrained.
I vowed long ago to always give my son the chance to experience life and all it has to offer, I will never count him out before giving him a chance. I will not water down or censor life or fun or heartache to make things easier. He deserves more and I am going to make sure he has the chances to get it all. The entire week he rode and did everything, just like any other adventurous 8 year old boy would have. Another milestone in our life. I bet most Developmental experts don't have Disney listed as a milestone, but they should.
My daughter, was so thrilled that at 46", she was tall enough for every ride, except for one a Animal Kingdom. She took her first ride on Space Mountain and after proclaiming that she just had a heart attack, wanted to ride it again. I think I for see bungee jumping or parachuting in her future.
So overall, it was a perfect vacation and we are trying to figure out how soon we can go back.
Before we became parents, my husband and I tallied up a lot of vacati0ns in those 20 years. Every beach within a 10 hour drive, Mexico several times, New Orleans, Dallas, 3 weeks sailing around the British Virgin Islands, the mountains, name it we've been there. My hubby used to kid me that I only worked so I could go on vacation, that I lived from trip to trip and that we always had one coming up or one in the planning stages.
Having kids did not change that at all, in fact we are more determined than ever to share vacation experiences with them.They give us an excuse to be kids again and ride the Flying Dumbo Ride. And who can ever get tired of "It's a Small World" or having dinner with Winnie the Pooh or breakfast with Mickey and Minnie and and Donald and Goofy.Never thought at 46 and 51 we would be having such a grand time on vacations that included no Happy Hours. Although watching my two giving big hugs and wide grins to Piglet and Cinderella seemed like a pretty grand Happy Hours to us.
Now back to the real world, at least until our next trip, which yes, is already planned and reservati0ns made.
It's my job as Freeman Family of Four Tour Guide and Fun Director!

Friday, January 05, 2007
First Tooth Fairy Visit
Well, Today was traumatic day, more for me than my son,when it was all said and done. Other than shots for vaccinations and my son's circumcism when he was 9 months old, I have not had to witness my children undergoing any type of painful procedure. They will be 6 and 8 in a few weeks and we have had no broken bones, no stitches and no visits to the emergency room.And yes, I am knocking on wood as I say this.
My son, almost 8, has lost no teeth. Nothing loose. His dentist reassured us that boys quite commonly loose teeth later and not to be concerned. He has great teeth, never a cavity or even the slightest plaque buildup despite his sensory aversion to brushing regularly. His dentist told me his teeth look like he brushes and flosses about 3 times a day. 6 months ago, right before his checkup, I noticed that his two front and center permanent teeth had begun erupting through the gum behind his baby teeth. At his visit, we took xrays , everything was fine and we all though that in the next few months his baby teeth would come out.
This past Tuesday, 6 months later, we all realized that his baby teeth are not going anywhere unassisted.
"We will need to pull those two baby teeth, it will be easy and take about 10 minutes" is what she said,
"We will need to velcro your son down and violently and bloodily pull those teeth out with pliers" is what I heard.
Two permanent teeth were now about 50% in and I knew she was right.Knowing school starts back next week and the week after we are heading to Walt Disney World, I scheduled the extractions for today. My husband turned green at just the thought of it so I knew I was on my own.
This morning we left the house, dropped little sister off at my niece's house and took off to do "errands", my son innocently and joyfully along for the ride. My omission in telling him where we were going was not sneaky of cruel, he just would not have understood. The minute I got off at the exit, he knew where we were heading, not why but that 6 months had not passed since his visit on Tuesday. When I pulled in the parking lot, his radar went into full alert and it took me 5 minutes to coax him out of the car. Once inside he was, let's say, unhappy and not user friendly. We began to play and he relaxed and even went along to the ROOM and climbed up on the chair and laid down. Then IT BEGAN.
In about 30 seconds we had him velcroed into place as he shouted"Leave Riley Alone"
They slapped the happy gas on him and QTipped some topical analgesic on his gum.
60 seconds later she gave him an injection that was so fast neither Riley or myself realized she had even done it.
2 minutes later, her assistant(Who is also my best friend since 6th grade) handed her the pliers and in 5 seconds both teeth were out. A little gel foam , a rinse and a wipe and he was sitting up, no tears and telling them , Thank You
I tossed and turned all night about a 6 minute procedure. Literally 6 minutes is all it took.
He skipped out of there with tattoos, stickers and a promise of many escalators rides at the mall nearby.
30 minutes later we were riding those same escalators and he was looking as if he was having the best day of his life.
An hour later he was eating lunch and feeling pretty special.
I am just now relaxing about the whole thing and realizing that my oldest has just reached another milestone in his life, his first lost teeth and the first visit of the Tooth Fairy to our house.
He already looks a little older, a little wiser since this morning. Those two permanent teeth already making a grand appearance.
I am glad that I turned a deaf ear to my Overprotective Mommy Self and quickly got this over with. I see that it bothered me much more than it bothered him. I also see that by my not mentioning it and acting rather nonchalant on the outside probably helped. Inside I was a sniveling crying mess.
I will save these teeth forever. It is a sign of his courage. And Mine in some small way.
I was so proud of him today.
Once again he surpassed my expectations by a mile.This precious special son of mine has once again shown me that I should never underestimate him or what he is capable of handling with grace and an amazing spirit. I will never underestimate the healing power of a ride up and down an escalator. Not once or twice but about 15 times.
Now, I must make a call to the Tooth Fairy and place an order for a visit.

Monday, January 01, 2007
Jan. 1,2007
Happy New Year to All!

We said goodbye to 2006 in grand fashion here at home. With family, friends and lots of food and fireworks.
The kids stayed up until well past midnight and then got up at 7am to have breakfast with my cousin and her family on their way back home to Miami. In fact, my sister and her family made the early morning breakfast also and I cannot think of a more fitting way to start the new year.
I have not seen my cousin in about 4 years and it was so great to be able to spend the evening with her. Although it was a short visit, we are able to reconnect and cover a lot of ground in a few hours. It reminded me that is what is so great about family. The way you are always connected no matter how much time as gone by since you have seen each other or talked. Our blood and all of the times we spent together growing up at our Grandparent's house is a bond never to be broken. Last night caused me to add another resolution to my list. To make a bigger effort to plan times for my two to spend with their cousins. Even though growing up, we always lived a state or two away from our relatives, my parents made sure that our visits were frequent and long enough to forge a connection between us. No road trip too far to undertake in the name of family. I still can't pass by a green Ford Station Wagon without tearing up. My two are fortunate that all of their first cousins live within 15 minutes of us, so I have no excuse not to make sure their time together is frequent. No matter the friends I still have from childhood, team mates, classmates and high school clique, it is my family and cousins that have remained the most constant, most dependable and with whom I feel the closest bond.I want that for my children also. It is one of the most important and meaningful things my parents taught us.
I feel a good old fashioned Family Reunion in the making.......
Today was a great day. After returning from breakfast and cleaning up all the fireworks trash, we had a nice lazy family day. Football and a nice fire in the fireplace. Kids played outside and inside with minimal fuss. I read up on our upcoming trip to Disney and my husband contemplated who would be the next University of Alabama football coach. Which here in our state is more important than who will be the next president.
After a good old southern meal of Black Eyed Peas, Mustard Greens and Cornbread, everyone is sacked out but me. A satisfying way to start the new year.
A year I hope brings more peace to the world.
A year I hope my children don't grow up quite as much as they did last year.
A year I hope goes by slowly and gently and wonderfully simple.
For you.
And for us.