Christmas Week

As usual, Chris has the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so we’ve been taking it easy and doing some fun local things.

Our Christmas itself was mellow and fun. I didn’t take many pictures because I was too busy enjoying it. (Well, and dealing with a marauding five-year-old who was getting into everything!) But I did take a few:

Sam’s “big” presents were a playhouse and a new Cozy Truck. He doesn’t seem to care one whit about the playhouse, but the cats are enjoying it. And as for the Cozy Truck, that’s a hit! He has an old, battered Cozy Coupe that I found for free on the side of the road a few years ago, but it’s pretty beaten up. So we figured an upgrade to his wheels was in order.

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A couple of shots from Christmas Eve night (after Santa came) and Christmas morning:

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Can you spy Violet??

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Sam’s other present was a LeapFrog reading device. It’s interactive and reads books aloud—the child can use a stylus to press interactive parts on the books and learn more things. We’re hoping it will help him develop his pre-reading and reading skills.

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Theo’s “big” gifts from us were tickets to a Sacramento Kings game with Chris (and a night in a hotel, since the game will get out late and we live nearly two hours away) and an instant camera (think the Polaroid cameras from the 1970s, only new). Theo also got a lot of books on World War II and the military (his current areas of interest), as well as a couple of small games that should be good on our road trip.

Dinner was…a mixed bag. I ruined the chocolate pie. Despite it supposedly being an easy recipe, it didn’t set. We had a pie shell full of liquid chocolate on Christmas. Thankfully, we had an apple pie as backup. One that had a POUND of butter melted on the top. No joke.

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Here’s how it looked when baked:

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It was decent enough, but a bit rich for my taste. (It also had a cream cheese layer.)

Our turkey also didn’t work. Oddly enough, every year our turkey (we usually make a whole one) gets done early. This year, we just did a turkey breast…and when the time was up, we cut into it and found it hadn’t cooked well enough! So the options were to either wait for the turkey and eat the side dishes lukewarm, or just make a meal of side dishes and save the turkey for leftovers  (after it finally cooked). We opted for the latter, since let’s face it: the side dishes are the best part anyway!

So we had sweet potatoes:

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Dressing with sausage and roasted chestnuts:

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And raspberry pretzel jello (because jello is one of the unsung heroes of any good holiday dinner!):

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We also had cheesy potato casserole, but I didn’t take a picture of that. And delicious sautéed brussels sprouts, which also didn’t get a picture.

In other fun, the boys got Hatchimals in their stockings. You put the egg in water, and watch as over the next few days a baby dinosaur hatches. It’s fun! Except the cats keep trying to drink the Hatchimal water. Because of course….

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On Wednesday, we finally went to the Pacific Pinball Museum, which I’ve wanted to take the boys to forever. What a great place! You pay an entry fee and can then play as many machines as you want for as long as you want. They have ninety machines, ranging from 1940s classics to machines from the 1990s. Theo actually preferred the old vintage machines—I think they were less visually overstimulating for him. We had a few tournaments, which demonstrated the fact that I am the worst pinball player in the house. But I do love pinball, so it was fun anyway!

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Also, we had a very cool experience at the museum. Instead of retyping it, I’m just going to paste my Facebook post from yesterday here. I posted about this on Facebook in the hopes that the Powers That Be at the museum would see it. Their employee really made my day. Anyway, here’s what I said:

We took the boys to the Pacific Pinball Museum today, and the woman working there took us over to the machines, pulled up a stool for Sam so he could reach them, and proceeded to show him exactly how to work them: “Push this button to get the ball to come out. Then pull this knob to launch the ball. Now you feel these two buttons on the sides? Those are for the paddles. Push those to work the paddles.” She gently guided him, hand over hand, two times through the process, to make sure he knew how to make the machines work and could play too. No condescension, no “let me help the disabled kid” attitude. She simply assumed he would want to play and showed him how.

I realized in that moment that she is one of the very few people to ever do that with him. Most people just assume he doesn’t want to do something or couldn’t understand it. Or they ask me if he’d want to play. And I don’t think it’s anything intentional on their part: He looks younger than he is, the fact that his spoken language is pretty limited makes him SEEM younger, and let’s be honest–he has an intellectual disability, which means people underestimate what he can understand and do. So I think most people just assume that he might not be able to play or might not want to, and they either don’t offer him the chance or they check with me to see. Or sometimes they DO try to show him something, but it’s clear they’re not exactly sure how to teach him.

This woman was different. She treated him exactly like you would treat any five-year-old. And wow…I can’t even tell you how much it meant to me. I hadn’t even realized how rarely that happens…until it happened, and I was like, “Wow. Somebody immediately presumed his competence instead of assuming he wouldn’t be able to do it!”

Truth was, he actually didn’t WANT to play. He preferred to watch Theo play. But I loved that she didn’t assume that. She assumed he would want to play because most kids would want to play.

I should have told her how much I appreciated her approach. But I didn’t, because I wasn’t sure how to not make it sound weird. Treating him like any other child obviously came so naturally to her that it felt weird to me to point it out, like “Hey–thanks for doing what you just naturally do.” And, too, I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, thanks for treating my child with a disability like a human being.” Because that’s just icky.

I should have told her, though. Because it meant a lot. It was a pretty darn good way to spend a day.

And today, we’re heading to The Last Jedi with Theo while Sam stays home with our respite provider. Looking forward to seeing the movie! And then tomorrow, Chris and Theo are heading out for an overnight trip to Sacramento to see a Kings game, while Sam and I hold down the fort. Fun!

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