Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Lure of an In-Town Greenwich Farmhouse

One such gorgeous goddess of an 1890 farmhouse.
I knew we shouldn't have. I knew it would tempt me and throw a wrench into our very direct plans. For two years we knew where we moving and exactly why, but after this weekend I'm not as sure anymore.

This past weekend we went to a few open houses in downtown Greenwich. Yes. Houses. Single family homes. I hate them, remember?

Oh my god, these houses. Not anything spectacular like brand new gargantuan  mansion material (most of those are in the country far from downtown anyway), but absolutely gorgeous in-town farmhouses. The kind that remind you of New England and all that is great about it. Right smack-dab in the middle of downtown. With sidewalks. Within walking distance to the train. And restaurants. And a movie theater. And a pharmacy. And school. And... and... you get the picture.

We've lived in Greenwich before. We moved from Boston and were looking for an apartment downtown that would be an easy commute to White Plains for Jason's work. We had a modest one bedroom basement apartment. I fell in love with Greenwich; we both did. We lived there from the end of my pregnancy with Mason up until he was 8 months old. I missed it so much.

Now, we can actually buy something in downtown, and looking at some of these houses yesterday opened up a little doubt in my mind about moving to Brooklyn instead of staying in Connecticut. It was just so damned tempting actually seeing and visualizing a life there like I had dreamed of for years after we left. Now that dream could actually come to fruition, we don't want it as much. Figures, right?

Jason's commute would be about 1 1/2 hours until his office moves into Manhattan again (whenever that will be), and once back in Manhattan just under 1 hour. The best part would be we could get rid of one car, and he could actually walk to the train station. We'd also be closer to family than if we moved out of state.

But then I think about the repairs, the upkeep (uh, especially 100 year old farmhouses), and just it not being New York City. I try to think about what's best for our family. What's best for the kids? Us?

First world problems, I know, I know. I just wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me what to do. We're going along with getting the house market-ready, and in 6 short months it's go time. I hate not having a direct, sure, concrete goal. I thought I had one, but after this weekend it went a little hazy.




Monday, August 25, 2014

The First Day of School; the Last Day of Something Else

Mentally I was still in the middle of summer vacation, but this morning the calendar insisted that it was in fact August 25th and school was here, like it or not. Our household now consists of not only a 2nd grader, but a Kindergartner as well. We now have two school-aged children.

Oh my god. They are growing up.

The morning went very well; I was honestly a little worried about how it would go getting two non-morning people out the door on time, but it was pretty nice. The kids were excited. They were goofing-off. I'm sure nerves played a part in this, but regardless, their behavior surprised and delighted me.

Me, on the other hand, well, I had a pit in my stomach. If you know me you know I don't cry about the first day of school, or any socially recognized milestones for that matter. I'm weird like that, I guess. I usually feel pride, excitement and joy from seeing them grow and become an independent human being. I'm not the mom who blubbers to her friend about their ":baby" growing up.

But today I was that mom, except it was my husband I blubbered to.

I don't know exactly why it was different this time... but I think I know. This year our district implemented full day Kindergarten, and I was not aware of this until literally two weeks ago. They sent a letter home stating it, and though I was happy for Hannah to have that much need peer social interaction (especially her neuro-typical peers), I was also caught off-guard. I thought she was going only 2 1/2 hours a day. I was mentally prepared for that. I was mentally prepared for her to still be home with me most of the day. Half-day Kindergarten was supposed to be that mental buffer before the all-day absence of 1st grade.

This morning, when they both walked up the steps onto that bus, I felt a little sadness creeping in. I'm so happy they are growing up; I'm so proud. But now two of my kids are in school full time; our days staying at home are over. Forever. Now it's just me and Ethan, and it's a little eerily quiet around here... and lonely. I already miss Hannah asking me "When is Mason getting home?" over and over again.

Is it really over with her? Is she really going to school now? Just like that, it's done. I guess I feel a little guilty for not enjoying it more. That time in our lives is gone forever; there's no getting it back.

Dammit. I'm not supposed to cry about this.

Also, a part of it is a realization that I'm staring down that corridor of life after staying home with young kids. The oh-my-god-I've-been-out-of-the-workforce-for-ages-what-am-I-gonna-do thoughts are at the forefront more often, and honestly it's scary. This shit is going on with or without me; we're all growing older; life goes on.

So, here I am. Sitting in the sunroom drinking some coffee with the sound of one lone little boy coming from the living room. It's like I'm here with just Mason again--the way it all started. Just me and my little boy. It's really odd. But I know I have two more pieces of my heart a few miles away, and they'll both get the biggest hugs they ever got when they get home today.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Vacation on the Jersey Shore: Wildwood

Last week we took our first family vacation. We wanted to go to somewhere along the Jersey shore,since we've never been, and ended up going to Wildwood, NJ. We stayed in a quaint little (and I mean little) hotel for three days and two nights. I was wondering how the kids would take it (especially Mason), but they all did great.

Okay, well, that's only half true. You see, we had a three year old with us. Is it ever really a vacation with a very young child in tow? No. Not really. Ethan was off-schedule with his naps and was pretty miserable with a few tolerable moments in-between, but hey, he's three.

Other than that and the overcrowded and over-priced boardwalk, it was great. The beach was beautiful and reminded me of my fave west coast beaches with tons of space and real waves. The place where we had the most fun though were the arcades. The kids loved the games and cashing in their tickets. Morey's Pier  was really fun too. We went to the Mariner's Pier section which had lots of kiddie rides. Ethan went on two--both involving trucks, of course--and Hannah and Mason had a blast on just about every kiddie ride there.

It was fun, but we won't be back. For such a long drive, we could go more local and get the same thing or even better. I also realize I'm not a fan of boardwalks--especially one where they shout about "amazing $10 deals" on tee-shirts through a damn microphone as you're walking by.

Jason is on vacation all this week too, so we plan on taking advantage of what the rest summer break has to offer before it abruptly ends. Both Mason and Hannah are back to school on the 25th and I am so ready. I think they are too though; they're probably just as sick of me!

I still can't believe summer vacation is almost over. September (and another birthday) is not far off. We are approaching six years of living here.

Six years.

Time really does fly. We swore we'd be here no longer than three years, but six years later here we are. It's funny how that works, isn't it? By the time we finally move next year, it will be seven years. It will be tough leaving home after that long, but better then than 10 or 20 years down the road with even deeper roots.

Anyway, enough of that and time for a huge photo dump.


They loved the bunk bed in our hotel room.




Ethan and the big wide Atlantic.

This is as far as he'd go in. I'm learning he is not a beach kid.

Mason, on the other hand, LOVED the water, but not a fan of the sand!




We saw a self-serve frozen yogurt shop on the boardwalk and just had to stop there.

Mason was pretty over-stimulated at times. I swear the boardwalk was much busier than this
picture shows.


The girls.




She was determined to reach that pedal!



The pier at night.



Ethan was IN HEAVEN.











Monday, July 21, 2014

Finally, a Diagnosis.

Mason at 16 months doing what he loved best, going for a stroll
 around the block.
Ever since Mason hit the one-year mark, there was "something" that was different about him. We'd ask the pediatrician and she'd insist that he was just a normal toddler--he was "too advanced" and knew his numbers, shapes, and looked at you when you called his name. Jason and I were fine with those answers for a long time, or at least we just accepted them. When we dug deep down though, I think we always "knew" it was "something".

Mason had a few words he used by one year. He said "mama", "dada", "ball", "book", all the usual words little ones start to utter at that time. He seemed pretty typical; just a quiet, easy-going baby.

Then, it all just... stopped. He stopped using those words and said "gah" for everything. He pointed though--he pointed as he said "gah", so it couldn't be, ya know, that. He looks me in the eye. He smiles. He's too loving. It can't be that.

But he'd never actually play with toys, though; he'd play with parts of toys for hours. He hand-flapped.  He'd run crying from other kids and would rather walk around the block with me than play at the park. He'd scream when family came to visit. He showed interest in things like speed limit signs and would want to walk to the one by our house and just "stim" in front of it as long as we'd let him. He barely spoke. In fact, he didn't utter another single word until 2 1/2 years old.

Looking back, it is so painfully obvious. But we'd ask family and friends' opinions and they'd all assure us he was fine. Our pediatrician was also ready to discount any concerns we had, because well, he was just "too sweet" and "too smart". We believed all of that, probably because we wanted to. We were happy with the "quirky" label.

Everything changed when Mason started school though. There was no denying he was not a neurotypical child. There was no denying he was struggling and needed help. It got to the point where his teacher would actually call me at home when he was absent to make sure he was really absent and didn't just wander from the bus on the way to class.

I finally demanded our pediatrician send out a referral for an evaluation. We had that long awaited evaluation this past Friday, and the results were as I long suspected. That "something" has a name.

Mason has autism.

Just typing those words is strange. It's strange because I knew it all along. I guess it's like now all of his struggles and differences are finally being recognized and I am not just an overprotective mother "reading into everything". Everything makes sense now. 

As I looked at him though the one-way mirror last Friday, I couldn't help but feel guilty. There he sat in that room with two strangers, answering their questions and doing their puzzles like some rat in a science lab. It was difficult to see him struggle like that. I was a fly on the wall for the first time; how often do you get to observe your child through a one-way mirror? It really dawned on me then how much he struggles socially, and I just felt sad for him. People can be so cruel, and he has a long life ahead of him--one where he'll one day have to navigate all on his own.

Nothing has changed though. I don't feel any less love for him; he is who he is. The only thing that has changed is that there is a socially recognized name for his behaviors, and most importantly, now we can get him help. He is still Mason. He is still my beautiful son.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Embracing the Chaos of Summer

With the kids out of school and the school-year routine that was finally perfected shot, summer can be a little chaotic (and boring). This year though, I am making an effort to embrace the crazy and just go with it; I'm not sweating the small stuff. We are keeping ourselves busy with playdates with new friends and weekends with family, and I'm actually finding this summer is flying by.

This past weekend we had my sister Angel and little niece Vera over for a few days. The kids had fun playing with their cousin and I had fun catching up with my sister. We had a cookout, made smores, visited our new favorite dessert spot and went strawberry picking. The weekend before we saw the annual lake fireworks, and I realized it might have been our last year enjoying them. Definitely bittersweet.

I also made the effort to avoid my phone except for, well, actually calling or texting someone, and avoided perusing the social networking sites, only signing on to share some photos. It feels great to simplify things for a while.
While waiting for the fireworks to begin, we had this amazing show to watch.




Waiting for the fireworks to begin

Mason's attempt at photography

Then Hannah wanted to try. She took a great shot!


Cousins!







At our new favorite dessert spot: self-serve frozen yogurt. It's fun and the kids LOVE it. They were really excited to treat Angel and Vera.



We told them to sit still...

Berry picking!
 











Hannah with the fruit of our labor.

Our loot, including THE BEST strawberry jam I've ever tasted!


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