July 13, 2014: Weddings and Lenses and Field Trips, Oh My!

It’s been a week of random events and happenings that don’t really fit together in any particular theme, thus the weird combination of topics in this week’s blog title. We’ll start at the end and work backwards: Day camp and field trips!

Theo continues to enjoy day camp, although as it turns out his friend Gavin will likely not be attending after all. But Theo took the news pretty well, as he has met a few nice kids to play with while he’s there. I suspect he spends a lot of time hanging out with the counselors, which makes me laugh because I seem to recall that my kindergarten progress report made some note about me hanging around the adults too much and not playing with the other kids enough. Like mother, like son. Anyway, I’ve had four different teachers/counselors come up to me at various times and tell me how much they love Theo and how funny he is (I can’t disagree!), and he talks about them a lot. And when I drop him off, the first thing he does is go hang out with the counselors. So although I know he plays with the other kids, I think he hangs out with the teenagers/grownups quite a lot. Hmmm, no surprise, since he wants to be a grownup already!

He’s particularly enamored of a teenager named Summer who helps out. Her mother apparently owns the daycare center, and she comes and helps out over the summer. Theo talks about Summer nonstop and even has a pet name for her: Summertime. One day he apparently had to eat lunch in the classroom with her, instead of outside with the other kids (because they thought I had packed him peanut butter, and there are two very allergic kids—actually, I had packed sunflower-seed butter!), and the next day he told me to pack him peanut butter again so he could eat in the classroom. I said, “That wasn’t peanut butter, but what do you mean?” When he explained, I said, “Well, why would you want to eat apart from all your friends?” and he said, “I need my alone time with my Summertime, so we can talk.” 🙂 He does love the one-on-one attention! Alas, he was back to eating with the group the next day, when I explained to the teachers that it wasn’t peanut butter after all!

They went on a couple of fun field trips this week: bowling again, and also to the Jelly Belly Factory, which is a really fun tour that we had been meaning to do with Theo but hadn’t gotten around to. They also had a magician come to the camp, and Theo was fascinated! He decided he wants to be a magician when he grows up….

Meanwhile, Sam was busy rocking his speech therapy! This week he tried to imitate every word sound his speech therapist encouraged him to, which is awesome! His utterances mostly sound pretty much the same, but the fact that he’s even making the effort is really awesome! Ally (his speech therapist) said she can’t believe the progress he’s made in the last two months, since we started the thyroid medicine. Indeed….

Sam is also very much a two-year-old. Oh, the attitude!! He wants to do everything himself, and if he doesn’t like your answer about something, he will sit right down and launch into a tantrum! It makes me laugh because he’s delayed on everything…except the two-year-old tantrums! Right on schedule for those “terrible twos,” Mr. Sam! For example, I have to wake him from his nap to get Theo to swim lessons on time, so I usually bring a snack for Sam to nibble while we watch. He typically only eats two things—crackers/chips or squeeze packs—so that’s what I bring. But one day he evidently didn’t like the choice of squeeze packs (and he didn’t want the crackers), so he sat down on the patio and launched into a squalling fit. Theo’s swim teacher said with some concern, “Is he okay??? I’ve never heard him cry!!” I said, “Oh, he’s fine—he’s just two, and he doesn’t like the snack I packed.” She is a preschool teacher (in fact, she owns a preschool) and has three kids of her own, and she started laughing and said, “Oh my—yes. That’ll do it, won’t it?!” Yup. He’s very, very typical in that way. People with Down syndrome are always so happy, right? He he he he…not when they’re two and their mommy packed the wrong snack!!

Speaking of Down syndrome, I was backup photographer for a wedding on Saturday. (How’s that for a weird transition? But stay with me, and it will all make sense in a moment!) When I was getting set up in the church, I noticed a handsome young man with Down syndrome. Naturally, I was intrigued and wondered who he was with. As it turns out, he’s one of the bride’s brothers (she has nine siblings). I kept watching him throughout the day (he probably thought I was a stalker!) and tried to talk to him, but he was always busy. He was rather quiet but was quite the popular wedding guest—it seemed he always had someone or other coming to talk to him. And later in the evening, he tore up the dance floor with a woman who I think was his aunt. It was awesome! I did manage to talk to his mom, though, under the guise of taking table pictures. (Shameless, I know.) I sat down next to her for a minute and said, “I think we have something in common. Is that your son?” and nodded over to where the man was sitting. “Jonathan?” she said, “Yes, it is. Why?” I said, “I have a son, too. He’s two and a half.” She immediately broke into a huge smile, grabbed my hand, and said, “You do? Oh, how wonderful! It’s been 27 wonderful years with my Jonathan. I hope your son brings you as much happiness as ours has to us!” And later, I ran into her in the bathroom, and she immediately introduced me to another guest in there and said, “She has a son like our Jonathan!” and we chatted for several more minutes.

I just loving seeing adults with DS out and about—it gives me a tiny glimpse into the future, I think. And seeing their parents so happy and content is a wonderful thing, too, because there is sometimes a sentiment of, “Well, of course it’s fun with your child now—he’s a baby, and everyone loves babies. But what about when he gets older?” And honestly, I can’t imagine ever not loving having Sam around, but people do make you question it sometimes. So it’s always nice to get that affirmation that even if your kids don’t grow up to leave the nest, as you assume they’ll do when you conceive them, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think I’m writing very eloquently about this, but I recently read a great piece that sums it up beautifully. Click here if you’d like to read it. And in a similar vein, this one spoke to me, too: Click here if you’d like to read it.

Anyway, moving along… Because being on my feet all day Saturday at the wedding wasn’t enough, we made plans to go to Six Flags amusement park with Theo’s BFF, Gavin, and his parents. Theo had earned a free pass through school (by reading at night), and it was set to expire soon, so we figured this was a good time to use it. I hadn’t been there in probably 15 years, and Chris probably more like 30. We had such a good time! Honestly, we didn’t even cover a quarter of the park, I don’t think. They have thrill rides (five or six roller coasters), various other adult rides, tons of kid rides and a couple of big playgrounds, water-themed shows and activities (like Sea World), and zoo animals/activities. We were there for most of the day, and we didn’t make it to any of the zoo areas or any of the water-themed shows, but we did take the kids on a bunch of rides, let them play on the playgrounds, and let them see some of the marine animals. We saw penguins and a very friendly walrus (he was super cool!), did the Shark Experience walk-through (also very cool!), fed seals, and pet manta rays (or some sort of ray—don’t ask me; I was walking Sam to get him to sleep while everyone else visited the rays). Theo’s favorite things were the kid roller coaster (of course—he is my son!) and a surprisingly scary swing ride that even Chris had to close his eyes on! It’s like those swings that are suspended from a big circular awning (like the top of a carousel), and then they lift the swings like 100 feet in the air and start spinning them around. It was too high for my and Courtney’s taste, so Chris and Brent took the boys on it, and they loved it! Better them than me…. But I did get to go on three roller coasters, which was super fun. They have one called Superman that is just awesome! It’s very short but very, very fast, with tons of loops and corkscrews and big drops. LOVED IT!

And now my feet are tired after two days of being on them nonstop, but it was a successful weekend. 🙂

This week, most of the pictures are test shots of Theo and Sam I took with a rented lens for the wedding. Roxann (the main photographer for the wedding, and a good friend of mine) rented a 50mm f/1.4 lens for me to use at the wedding. Ooooohhhh, it was a beauty of a lens! But not easy to use, as it doesn’t have image stabilization, and I had to work hard to figure out which settings would be best. I Googled it at one point when I was looking up how to figure out why I was getting some blur in my shots, and I discovered that it’s a $1,600 lens. Eeek! Yeah, unfortunately I won’t be owning it anytime soon. Or ever. But anyway, point being that when I finally figured out the most effective settings for it, it took lovely pictures. This week’s blog photos are mostly my tests from several days of shooting with it to get ready for the wedding. Enjoy!

Also, I posted the newest Blog Hop post just before this one. Click here if you’d like to read it. See you next week!

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