Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A step back, a step forward

Our vacation did reveal one thing - wow, did Roman's ADHD medicine need some adjusting! I thought a couple times, if he acts close to this at school, no wonder he's having social trouble! The boy has flying thoughts and a mouth that almost keeps up with them. And I have noticed a handful of times that when he does his homework later in the evening, he can't focus worth anything. Like this evening, he spent 10 minutes trying to find the "right" pencil; then the pencil he had didn't have a good eraser, so he had to find another one; then it wasn't sharp enough; then the eraser was too loose so he kept fiddling with it. All while attempting a review math packet that is due tomorrow.

He had an appointment with the psychiatrist this evening, not a moment too soon in our opinion. The last week, for a variety of reasons, played emotional havoc with Ro. He was very manic for a few days (grandparents coming to visit, going to see the Titanic exhibit); then he crashed over and over throughout the weekend. He leveled out on Sunday, but I don't think I could do another few days like that for awhile. We had been hoping that the neurofeedback Roman is doing would help; and it has, in the OCD & anxiety areas. I guess a little more work is to be done on the bipolar & ADHD front.

Anyway, so we are tweaking medicine & hopefully will have a boy who is leveled out some. It breaks my heart when I ask him, like tonight, "is it frustrating that you can't sit and do homework?" And he looks at me with his beautiful blinky eyes and says, "Yes, a lot."  And when we finally can get him "off the ledge" of a manic crash and talk with him, and he bursts into real tears because he just doesn't know why it happens... my poor sweet Ro.

On the good news front, Roman graduated on Monday from "talk therapy." There are some topics that he just won't visit right now (and that's okay), and we have been trained as a family how to deal with his bipolar outbursts. He recovers from his meltdowns much quicker now (seriously - 10 minutes instead of 45!) and Doug and I are able to empathize and stay calm (most of the time). We do expect he will need to see someone again when hormones arrive or social issues become a large problem (read: middle school), but until then I *think* we'll be okay. So that's a huge plus!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heading for home

We have had quite a few adventures the past few days. Monticello was a hit with Roman (except for the garden walk - he'll be quick to tell you that). The next day we stopped at Montpelier, James Madison's home, which was sorta on the way to Richmond. That was also very interesting and I would have liked to spend more time there.

We made it to Richmond around 2pm and decided to hit the Civil War museum. As usual, I would have liked to spend more time there - but with 2 kids who have short attention spans, it was best to move along. We discovered at the museum (part of which is run by the National Park Service) that they have a "junior ranger" program; do a certain number of activities and earn a badge. They also have "trading cards" particular to a place, usually 2-3. I think Ro would have preferred just getting candy or something, but both kids liked doing the activities.

Wednesday was battlefield day. We started at Fredericksburg and did the short walk along Bloody Lane & Marye's Heights, then through the cemetery.  Just wow. Then we moved on to Chancellorsville, where the park rangers were super nice to our kids. The boys earned their trading cards by learning something in the small museum displays & telling the rangers; then they got booklets of activities to complete to be junior rangers. We drove to a couple spots and walked around, and I learned much more about this particular battle.  Then we had lunch (mmm... Sonic burger & tater tots!) and drove on toward the Wilderness battlefield. On the way there was a detour to see Stonewall Jackson's left arm's burial place. The home where it is buried near is closed for the season but people are allowed to walk back to the family cemetery. So the boys elected to stay in the car and watch a video while Doug and I made the trek. Of course it was awesome.

We drove through the Wilderness battlefield which is quickly being encroached upon. (is that sentence grammatically correct?). Roman was done getting out of the car, and Charlie was fading quickly, so we decided to call it a day and head back to swim.

Today was our last day doing touristy things, and we went to Colonial Williamsburg. Doug and I both had an expectation that was not met. I guess because we are used to Greenfield Village, we expected it to be similar; a free-flow in and out of the historic buildings, some signs to read identifying the buildings or history behind them; and that was not the case. We're not sure if it's because there were some school groups (I counted 3 separate ones) or because of Spring Break, or someone's genius idea to attempt to control people-traffic-flow, but they had people forming lines outside each building to get in. We thought at first that nothing was open, because all the doors were closed and people were just standing around. Then we realized they were waiting to get in buildings. Our first experience was at the gaol (jail); we waited about 5 minutes to get in there, then weren't allowed in 2 of the holding pens because there were school groups.

We walked in the silversmith's shop and then realized there was a line for the actual smithy; we ditched it. Decided I definitely wanted to see the wigmaker's shop and we waited over 10 minutes to get in there, then almost were pre-empted by a school group.  Roman really wanted to see the magazine (where the weapons are stored) so we walked down there. We missed the "entrance time" so ended up waiting close to 15 minutes to get in there, then since there was a school group being lectured to by a costumed person we couldn't really freely walk around. It was very disappointing, to say the least. Not sure we will make the effort to ever go back.  For the boys, though, it was made up for by a swim when we returned and a milkshake with dinner. Love that they are so easily pleased.

Tomorrow begins the car ride home. And when we talked about the best parts of our vacation tonight over dinner, my heart filled when Roman said, "hanging with my family."  And that's absolutely why we took this vacation.

Monday, April 09, 2012

On the road

Our vacation has been good so far! We are the kind of planners where we have one definite thing we want to do, and then explore the area or wait until we get somewhere to decide what else we might do. With 2 kids, swimming in the pool is mandatory every day!

Saturday was our long day in the car, but we got to Berkley, WV about 4:00. The boys loved the suite because they had a tv to themselves, and Cartoon Network (we don't have that at home)!  We swam twice, before and after dinner, to reward the kids for being awesome in the car. The Easter Bunny came to our hotel room, too, both hiding eggs and leaving some candy and little toys for the kids.

Sunday we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and it always pays to chat up the locals. We told a man we were going to do the coal mine tour, which he said was a great idea for the kids. Then he told us about the New River Gorge, which had the longest arch suspension bridge in the US/Western Hemisphere (there's apparently one in Japan and possibly one in Canada which is now longer). We decided to take that detour on the way out of town. It was really gorgeous!

The coal mine was really interesting. We all liked it - except Charlie. Apparently he's not much for dark underground passageways. Our tour guide was a former miner himself, and there was only one other couple on our tour, so he paid special attention to the boys. Especially Roman, as he is the age where they would begin to apprentice boys in the mine.

After the gorge, we drove the 3-4 hours to Charlottesville. Arrived around 5pm and decided to just order pizza to the room as we were all a little grumpy from the car ride (and stopping no less than 3 times for Charlie to use the bathroom). We swam again, of course!

Charlie is a little hotel expert now, telling us what he likes and doesn't like. He would spend the whole day in the room if he could. As long as we continue to have cable channels we don't at home, Roman is happy to do whatever we ask. Today we are heading out to Monticello and find somewhere for the kids to RUN! There is a glass-making shop in town that looks interesting, we thought the boys might like a hands-on experience after touring the home. And a special stop at Jefferson's Vineyards for some wine for Doug and I.  Tomorrow, before we head out to Richmond, we may do one more thing here - I didn't realize the home of James & Dolley Madison was near here as well.  While fully restored, they are still working on tracking down furniture. But there is also some archaeological digging going on that people can watch, which would be sweet.