Our Kids Have Caught the Travel Bug

TravelOur kids are becoming seasoned traveling pros! In the Spring we took them to the UK to visit the Anderson Clan and see a few sights.

 

 

 

 

 

Andersons 2We took them all the way from the Scottish Highlands to West Yorkshire, down to London before we left.

 

 

 

 

PlayThey had a great time visiting family, making new friends and seeing some of their Grandfather’s artworks.

 

 

 

Tallulah and BabyAnd Carebear finally got her own Pet Passport which should make international travel with a service dog much much easier from now on.

 

 

 

 

 

Boyracer PopfestThis summer the kids went with us to San Francisco so we could play in the San Francisco Popfest. This was a great trip as well. They both look forward to plane rides knowing that the planes take us to fun places with hotel rooms.

 

 

 

 

Lu on Shoulders

Stew had two new Boyracer Singles ready to take to Popfest and as usual for festivals he played in 4 different bands; Boyracer, Hard Left, The How, and Lunchbox. Luckily one of them was a day show so the kids got to see him doing his Keith Moon thing on the drums for The How.

 

 

 

SleepingThe kids had a great time, but rocked out so hard that they fell asleep before the show was over.

 

 

 

 

Since getting back home for the summer the kids keep asking every week or so to go on the airplane up in the air and go to a hotel room. They have caught the travel bug!

 

boxsetWe have sold out of the fantastic Box of Tricks 5/7″ box set, but individual copies of the records are still available as well as the 2 new Boyracer singles. Get the new releases here.

The Holidays

Reindeer WheezyThe holidays are a special time for so many families. For families of children with special needs they can sometimes pose some extra challenges and difficulties. There are times when my kids don’t want to go to school on a particular day, but far and away they prefer the structure and the security of knowing that they are going to school on week days and only have therapy on weekends. When this schedule changes it can make the kids feel insecure. Also days spent much more at home can cause they to go a bit stir crazy. Here are some of our tactics for dealing with the stir craziness:

 

Myffy under treeGoing to the pet store, one of Talllulah’s favorite place in the whole world thanks to the parrots and the ferrets. Lu would get so excited about going that she would jump up and down and shout “Mommy parrot, Mommy ferret, Mommy pet store!”

 

 

 

jingle deerWe also went to the Grand Canyon Deer Farm a few times, though on days when it was hotter than freezing, the ground got a bit muddy. The kids loved it regardless, but the car and their clothes got pretty messy.

 

 

 

Carboard CastleLast year one of the kids friends’ gave them a giant cardboard house that they could paint on the outside and go inside and look out the windows. This year Stew found a castle from the same company. We thought that we would bust it out in the afternoon on Christmas Day, once the kids got bored with the morning’s toys and were getting stir crazy again, but it never happened. In fact we ended up saving it for New Year’s Day when a friend came over with her boys to paint together.

Even though there were a few times when things got difficult for the kids this winter break, it was still their best Holiday Season yet. It’s so great to be able to look back and see the progress being made month by month and year by year.

Summer into Fall

 

TA in goggles

It was a pretty fantastic summer in Turrell/Anderson land. Tallulah learned to swim. I mean really learned to swim so that now she can jump off of the side of the pool, into the deep end, pick things up off of the bottom and swim all around on her own. It is pretty amazing to see and has ticked off one of the major safety concerns on our lifetime to do list. Not that I don’t still stay within arms reach of her just in case, of course I do, but for the most part I just swim nearby and go under the water with her so we can make faces at each other with goggles and hum little songs to each other. Her favorite things is for me to puff out my cheeks underwater so she can press on my cheeks with both of her hands and make a lot of bubbles come out.

 

 

 

Myffy Birthday Ride

Myffy has had a language explosion this summer which has been super exciting! Late in the Spring she started doing this really intense echolalia where she would repeat every word from some of her favorite movies, and then she started anticipating the dialogue, saying the phrases just before the characters would say them. Then, all of a sudden, BAM! Spontaneous speech started appearing all over the place! It has been so totally amazing!!!

 

 

 

 

JenandLu Skyspace

This summer was also a very special one for my father James Turrell who turned 70 and had coast to coast retrospective art shows at 3 major museums accompanied by a number of galleries and institutions with permanent installations like this Skyspace at Rice University. These were the LACMA in Los Angeles, the MFA Houston and the Guggenheim in NYC. I contemplated trying to take the kids to all three, but in the end we decided to take the kids to Houston, and I attended the opening in LA and visited NYC on my own. This was first time I have ever away from both kids overnight other than leaving one to be with the other in the hospital, so it was a pretty big step for us all. But it was also amazing to be able to see so many of my Dad’s works displayed at one time. I am only posting this one photo of us outside one of his pieces because even great photographers can’t do the work justice, much less an iphone camera. You can google him to find some pretty great photos, but better yet, seek out a piece near you and go see it in person. His work really has to be experienced in person.

 


Myffy FlavinThe family trip to Houston was really fantastic. The kids loved being inside of Dad’s ganzfeld at the MFA and had a good time at the Rice Skyspace and the Live Oak Friends Meeting House which also has a James Turrell Skyspace built into the roof. And while we were in Houston we also visited the Dan Flavin museum which was like rainbow heaven for the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

Flavin Play

They also liked playing in the Dan Flavin built into the entry way of our friend Helen’s beautiful home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids flying

The kids are becoming old pros at air travel now. And Dahanna was a wonderful helper to Lu as always. Madison, the Behavior Analyst graduate student who works with Lu both in her home program and as her school aide came with us to help out and enjoy the art.

 

 

 

Lu with friends

In August school started with Lu doing full days of kindergarden for the first time this year and Myffy still doing half days of preschool. They are both at the same schools as last year with aides that they know from their home programs, so the transition back to school was not as hard as it has been other years. Both kids have adjusted well and are making friends

 

 

 

School Lunch

The biggest change for Lu this year has been having lunch at school. Because she is mostly tube fed we started off the year with her going to do her feed while the other kids did lunch, but little by little she has shown more interest in food so we started having her go to lunch with her friends and she has started eating a little more by mouth. Her friends are so good about asking Madison which foods Tallulah is allergic to so they can make sure she doesn’t get any of those things out of their lunches. And of course her aide always makes sure that she doesn’t eat anyone else’s food.

Sister HugIn September Myffy turned 4 and had a really great 4 year old Birthday Party. It actually ended up being a 3 Birthday Party Weekend since each kid was invited to a different Birthday Party for a classmate and then both were at Myffy’s party as well. We were all completely worn out by Sunday night!

 

 

 

 

 

ERR

In October Stew and I launched our new baby jenandstew.com along with our new music label Emotional Response! It felt really good and excited to be doing music again, putting out new music as well as finally getting around making so much of the back catalog available for download on line. It’s something that we have been meaning to do for years. A week later on Oct 20th we had our 12th wedding anniversary. I think the website was a fitting gift to each other. Please check it out and drop us a line!

Our Trip to France Part 3! Finally!

We finally made it to France after all of the planning and preparation and changes in plan. The whole point of the trip (besides finally getting back to France after many years) was to get together with Stew’s whole family in one place at one time. This was Stew, his parents, both of his sisters, one of their husbands, and all eight Anderson cousins, including our kids, plus me and Karalyn as well. So we jointly rented an old converted farm house in the tiny Brittany town of Plougasnou. It was supposed to be about 5 and a half hours drive from Paris, but with stops for the kids and Carebear it took us closer to 7 hours. I was glad that we decided to take a room at the airport the day we got in so we had a chance to recover from the 18+ hours of airport and air travel before hopping in the car for another full day.

I was also glad that we ended up with a much larger mini van than I thought I was reserving. It was more of a van than a mini van and easily had seating for 9 people. This meant that some of Stew’s family could pile in with us when we went on day trips and there was still plenty of room for car seats and Carebear. Both kids totally loved driving around the lush French countryside. There were farms with animals everywhere. And we had no real set schedule on a daily basis.

I was really worried about the lack of school and therapy schedule because often long holiday weekends are the hardest time for the kids at home. They expect to get up and get ready and go to school or therapy and get upset when things don’t happen the way they are supposed to, but in France that expectation was totally absent. Neither one seemed to miss the regular schedule at all. It took nearly the entire trip to get the kids onto the local time in terms of going to sleep and getting up in the morning. But I found a strange peace and satisfaction in our nocturnal time together when everyone else had gone to sleep. Though sometimes Karalyn traded off with me on staying up with Myffy. Myffy was always the last kid standing. And removed from our normal crazy work/school/therapy/swim lessons/gymnastics/etc. schedules, I even found time to read a whole printed book and half of another, just for pleasure, something I have not done in a very long time. Usually anything I want to ‘read’ has to be on audible.com or it doesn’t get read.

The kids both did fantastic with their cousins, and aunties and uncle and grandparents. Lu even took to calling out ‘Granddad!’ to get David Anderson’s attention and then would giggle when he turned to her. It was pretty cute. Myffy missed a few outings with the Anderson clan because of her difficulty with the time change- often everyone else was up and away by the time I managed to get Myffy up and dressed, but there was still plenty of great family hangout time.

Oceanopolis in Brest was a big hit with the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As was the back yard of the Gite with it’s farm animals, playground equipment and awesome hammock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But most of all, the kids loved the ocean, so we went down to one of several lovely little beaches most days when the weather permitted.

 

 

 

 

It was a cold, often rain-spitting north Atlantic Ocean, but the kids wanted in no matter how pink all of our toes went. And we all fell in love with the rugged beauty of the place. All in all the trip was more than worth all of the difficulty and planning ahead of time. And now that we have done it once we are hoping to try to get in a bit more travel with the kids in the future.

 

 

Our Trip to France Part 2!

After publishing Our Trip To France part 1 I realized that I left out several steps of prep that we did with the kids. These steps were mainly the practice flights from Phoenix to Flagstaff to give the kids a test run before trying to plop them onto an international long-haul flight. We did Lu’s flight at the end of a week long session at SARRC, and Myffy’s flight the day after her endoscopy to check for EE in Feb.

 

 

 

Madison went with us for Lu’s flight and other than getting nervous going through the security line when we had to take Dahanna’s back pack and leashes off, as well as all of our shoes, Lu did really well.

 

 

 

 

 

When she got into the airplane she was really happy and kept saying, ‘Airplane go up in the air!’ As a pilot and the daughter of a pilot, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit proud of how much she seemed to love to fly. Even though it was only a 45 minute flight, I couldn’t help feeling encouraged and excited. For any other family considering taking their special needs kids on a long haul international flight, I would highly recommend doing a short practice flight first. It does add expense to the whole trip, but it really helped us to anticipate where problems were mostly likely to arise.

 

For Myffy’s practice flight I took her by myself and she had a much harder time with the lines and delays, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures. My hands were more than full. Still I think that it was really good that we went through it once first both so she could learn to anticipate what would happen next on the long flight, and so I could be prepared for her reaction. It was after this that I decided to buy the big box of individually wrapped ear plugs to pass out to other passengers.

 

 

I don’t want to give the impression that Myffy struggled throughout the entire travel time. There where whole hours of her walking along and sitting and playing and being perfectly sweet and totally awesome. It was also encouraging to think back to when Lu was Myffy’s age, how much trouble she had with fast, unexpected transitions and changes, and to see how far she has come. She just rolled with weird thing after weird thing on this trip and took so much in her stride. It helped us to remember that even in autism there are stages that kids go through and grow out of and that in another year or two international travel might very well be a breeze for Myffy too.

I sure hope so, because we have already begun to discuss plans for our next overseas visit with the Anderson Clan!  Stay tuned for part 3 of our trip to France when I finally talk about being in France!