Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Break Travels - Special Needs Style!

 
Going on any vacation with kids is always an undertaking, but going on vacation with children with special needs can add a whole new level of excitement! I mean like getting-chased-by-a-rabid-bear excitement. And who doesn't need a little more excitement in their lives? (Or heart failure... ?)

Just over a year ago we took our saved-up money and purchased a really old previously enjoyed pop-up camper. On our budget, trips to Disney, Vale or *sigh* Europe are out of the question, so we decided that if we were ever to escape from the doldrums of  "Staycation" mode, camping trips were the way to go! It's pure awesomeness (if you like bugs and dirt... which I do).



This year Spring Break fell over both Easter and my Life Anniversary Day. (I'm way too cool to have "birthdays"... or admit that Father Time has been chasing me about like a lecherous old coot on a drinking binge) Hubby wanted to go to some nice hilly place with trees, but I wanted to go to the beach. Hubby doesn't like sand (a few tours in Kuwait will do that to a guy) so I gave him the puppy-dog eyes and he said "OK." I'm evil that way. I mean, what's a little PTSD between spouses, right?


So, we loaded up the Suburban with enough clothes and food to sustain a small African nation for a month and headed off to the PirateLand Campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

When arriving at a new campground, the second order of business is meeting your temporary neighbors. (The first order of business is running as fast as you possibly can with your legs crossed to the bathroom... but I think we all know that.)  First we met the people to our right. That's their grandson, 10-year-old Robert on the left.


Then we met the family directly behind us. That's their 10-year-old son Colton on the right. The Skink is in the middle. Yes... three beautiful kids with Down syndrome / Trisomy 21! Prior to this trip, none of us knew each other. What are the chances of something this cool happening on vacation? And with luck like this, why did I not win that huge lottery jackpot a couple weeks ago?

We played, colored Easter eggs and hung out with our new friends until it was time for Robert's grandparents to go play Bingo and Colton's family to go out for Krispy-Kreme doughnuts which I absolutely adore but will never have the pleasure of tasting again upon learning that gluten and I don't get along... at... all!





Leaving Easter egg colors for the fairies.

On Easter Sunday The Skink got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time... and feel just how cold it is in early April...



But everybody (with the exception of my poor hubby) was so excited, the cool temperatures didn't stop their fun.






While my children lounged about in their bathing suits, Murphy's Law dictated that I receive Mother Nature's "Gift" which I would have gladly given back. (Wouldn't have minded giving Mother Nature a big 'ol slap too, but didn't have the chance.) Don't I look right at home, fully-clothed on the beach? (Please note the fishing pole in the background which adds the comedic insinuation that I am getting very good reception out there! Beam me up, Scotty!)


After a couple of hours, Broadway announced that he was starving so I offered to make him a sandwich.

I don't think this was what he had in mind.

With temperatures in the '50's and low '60's over the next few days, visits to the beach were kept brief and were only done in jeans and warm jackets. But never fear! We did "other stuff" too...

...like playing with play-dough...




...Iraq having a meltdown due to "transition issues" associated with disrupting her regularly scheduled life... (not pictured)

...observing the local wildlife...






Squirrel Butt!



...Iraq having another meltdown...

...riding bikes...


...Iraq having another meltdown...
...coloring more Easter eggs...

With Sparkles!

...Iraq having another meltdown...
...coloring hair...

Don't you think the red brings her Devil  out nicely?

...Iraq having another meltdown...
...laughing at Mommy running on her goofy spring-shoes (hey - Tiggers bounce! What can I say?)...


...Iraq having another meltdown... 
...singing into hairbrush-microphones...

...Iraq having another meltdown...
...cuddling cows...


...Iraq having another meltdown...
...and making Magic!


I might add, this was The Skink's first time casting spells, and girlfriend had a BLAST!

Have I mentioned that Iraq had a few meltdowns? Any time her schedule is changed AT ALL, we can expect some (read: "a lot") of emotional issues. Many people in the autism spectrum go totally Chernobyl   dislike change... and Iraq is one of them. No matter how much fun we are having, she finds ways of fitting in a few mega-crying-freak-out binges along the way. My favorite this vacation was when we were in one of those touristy shops looking for some souvenirs. One moment Iraq was following me, and then next, she had disappeared into thin air. 


While most parents might have gone into panic someone-kidnapped-my-child mode, the Hubby and I calmly started searching through clothing racks. After about 8 minutes, Iraq was safely located cowering under a flock of parrot-print bathing suits. It took me a few minutes to extract her and convey my now-sobbing child out of the store, followed by the harsh stares of other shoppers (I love those looks. Don't you?).

If you've ever studied psychology (which I did, right up until I met the psychology professor from h311) you may have learned that the human brain will always try to find reason for emotion... even when there is none. In one study, which I found particularly interesting, electrical impulses were sent through the study participants' brains' to the parts of the brain associated with different emotions. When the participants experienced the triggered emotions, they were asked "why" they felt what they felt. Instead of answering "I don't know," each and every participant came up with an answer related to their personal life as to why they felt sad, angry, euphoric, etc.

I thought that was really interesting... and I also thought it would be pretty fun to have such an emotion-altering-electrode-contraption thing at my disposal... but I digress...

That study came to mind when I asked Iraq why she was having a mega-meltdown at the store and she quickly answered that it was because the new beach cover-up I had just purchased was hideous and she hated it. 

It's not that bad, is it?


Oh well... whatever - right? At any rate it finally got (almost) warm enough to venture back out to the beach on our last full day there - which was actually supposed to be our second-to-last-full-day there, but in light of the number of meltdowns we were dealing with on a daily basis, we decided that going home a day early wouldn't be a tragedy...

So this time we ALL put on bathing suits and went out to enjoy the sand, the waves and the goose-bumps one last time before traveling home.







Apparently the Teenage Handbook makes it clear that smiling for pictures is strictly prohibited for 17-year-old boys!








  In filling up her "pool" Iraq caught her first fish!






At the end of the day, Broadway took his magic carpet for a quick spin (wouldn't want him to fly it too long as he doesn't have his magic carpet flying license yet) and we all packed up and headed back to the camper.


On Saturday morning we packed up the camp site and headed home. Although Hubby and I will need a bit of R&R following such an exciting and eventful "vacation," at least the kids will be well rested! Yay.





Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...


Circle of Moms

 
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2 comments:

  1. Wow!! What a great vacation. I love the camper.

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  2. Did you inform Iraq about what to expect before taking the trip? I tend to get irritatibly upset when my mother spontaneously decides to take me on a trip, which is often, even if I have nothing planned. The latest incident was after she took me to a small museum in Fair view, TX. It had a trail where it had animatronic dinosaurs as well as an indoor exhibit and a gift shop. I was visibly upset at the fact that my pants and shoes were covered in dust, the same ones that I wore to church a few hours earlier. I also got upset at the sights of the luxury houses that comprise entire neighborhoods and small cities, which easily cost over $4000,000. I hate seeing luxury communities because I feel as though their councils and residents are sell-outs or abusing § 8 housing. I also get upset when my nephew and mother start singing loudly in the car because it hurts my ears. The Skink looks cute in her singing picture.

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