Spectacularly Good or Spectacularly Bad? Welcome to Hersheypark.

Remember back the night before my family headed into Hersheypark and I was all:

“This will be my kids’ first time at an amusement park. I imagine that is will go spectacularly.

Spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, that remains to be seen.”

Well. Done and done.

Also, you should note that I managed to spell “it” wrong in the second sentence of that quote that I copy and pasted from its original post. That seems about right.

So. Here’s the backstory: I didn’t want to throw any birthday parties this year, so I talked Jack and Quinn into foregoing theirs and going to Hersheypark and Chocolate World instead.

In my defense, it sounded like a great plan.

Our itinerary was to drive up Friday night, go to Hersheypark on Saturday, go to Chocolate World on Sunday, and then drive home that evening, full of joy and happy memories. Friday went just as planned, complete with a heated pool to swim in at the hotel.

Jack choked on bacon at breakfast on Saturday, but that isn’t even the worst thing that happened that morning.

Here’s how it all went to hell, like, two minutes after our arrival at Hersheypark:

We drove into the parking lot, got out of the car, walked about 20 feet, and then Quinn turfed it. It was like slow fucking motion. I saw him go down on his knee, then his shoulder, then it looked like he was going to stop there, but he didn’t and then he tipped down onto his nose and his forehead.

I jumped to the ground next to him and hugged him as he started screaming, “We have to go home! We have to go home! We have to go home!” It took a good several minutes before he’d even let me look at his face. When he finally did, this is what I saw:

I don't know that I have to tell you that I took this photo much, MUCH later. Even then, several hours after the fall, it's somewhat of a miracle that he was willing to smile for me.

I don’t know that I have to tell you that I took this photo much, MUCH later. Even then, several hours after the fall, it’s somewhat of a miracle that he was willing to smile for me.

It was brutal. I had to pick Quinn up and carry him the rest of the looooooong way into the park. It was either that or turn around and take the 30-second walk back to the car and call it a day.

Side note: Quinn is ridiculously heavy. He’s loud too.

I don’t know if you’ve been to Hersheypark, but I swear to God that the entrance was, like, three miles away from the parking lot. We did stop at one point to measure ourselves according to Hershey’s height standards.

Sam was a Jolly Rancher. Jack was a Twizzler. Quinn was...reluctant to be measured. (a.k.a. a Hershey bar)

Sam was a Jolly Rancher. Jack was a Twizzler. Quinn was…reluctant to be measured. (a.k.a. a Hershey bar)

We had decided to get disability passes for Jack for his autism and Quinn for his SPD and body regulation issues. Standing in long lines is especially tough on Quinn and Jack gets dysregulated in line situations. I won’t go into all the reasons I felt my kids needed the disability pass, but I knew that we did need them—for Quinn more than anyone else.

Our visit to the Hospitality Office to get those passes was a source of stress for me. I was worried that they would turn us down and then my kids wouldn’t be able to handle the park. I was worried that they wouldn’t be nice. I was worried that they were going to try to make Jack and Quinn wear wristbands around the park and I knew that would be worse than not having a pass at all.

Here’s something though: If you are standing in the ADA compliance line and one parent is holding a sobbing 8-year-old while the other parent is clutching the hand of a 10-year-old so he doesn’t take off in excitement and then that parent bursts into stress tears because she has been worrying for weeks about how her kids would be able to handle an amusement park and it turns out that it doesn’t look like any of them are going to be able to handle it all that damn well because they are 15 feet into the park and it’s already Hersheygeddon, well, the staff there will be really nice to you.

The woman there took one look at me and my entourage, accepted my paperwork, said, “Do you think they’ll need cards instead of wristbands?” and then told me we could stand in a quieter spot while she got all of our paperwork ready.

Thank you, Hersheypark.

(In truth, we didn’t actually use the passes all that much. Quinn didn’t go on many rides and we stood in line for most of them. Despite it being Memorial Day weekend, it was really cold, so the lines weren’t too long. I do have to say though, that when we did need those passes, we were so grateful for them. I do know that our day was much easier because of them.)

We headed out from the Hospitality office and Quinn and I took a little break while Sam, Jack, and Alex ran off to play on a ride. I finally convinced Quinn to try the carousel. I got my first inkling that things might turn out okay when I saw him trying to suppress the tiniest of smiles on the ride.

This was not that smile.

This was not that smile.

Jack and Sam, on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier.

The dude in the Hershey bar suit was probably less happy when my kids pretended to eat his arms. I bet that happens to him a lot.

The dude in the Hershey bar suit was probably less happy when my kids pretended to eat his arms. I bet that happens to him a lot.

So, they liked the characters, but what about the rides? I bet Sam and Jack hated the rides, didn’t they?

They totally did.

They totally did.

We went on a series of rides after that. Two of us on this one, three on that, and things started to look up. After riding the bumper cars, even Quinn busted out a smile. We worked our way through some of the kiddie rides on the way to the Minetown section of the park, which I think Jack imagined was just like Minecraft. (It wasn’t.)

By the time we got over to the little speedway where kids can pretend to drive cars (Jack, by the way, is the slowest damn driver ever. I know. I was in his car and witnessed the backup behind us), all three kids were having a good time.

When you ask Quinn if he had a good time at Hersheypark, he will tell you no and then he will tell you about how he fell on his face in the parking lot. He will claim to have hated everything and to have not had fun at all. But, trust me, he didn’t hate everything. I give you this photograph as proof:

Not only is he happy, but you can barely even see his facial scarring.

Not only is he happy, but you can barely even see his facial scarring.

You might also notice that he is wearing two jackets in that photo. That is because he was cold in just his jacket, so he stole my sweatshirt leaving me in short sleeves. By the time I got desperate enough to pay $50 for a sweatshirt that read “KISSES” across the front, there were no sweatshirt shops anywhere to be seen. It sucked.

If I had to describe motherhood in a sentence, it might be this: “No matter how cold it is, you will always give your coat to your child.” If I had to describe motherhood by Stimey, I would add, “and complain vociferously the whole time.”

After Jack’s Sunday driver training, we were walking to the log ride and Jack saw a roller coaster where people’s legs were dangling from the seats and he insisted he wanted to go on it. I should mention here that Jack had never been on a roller coaster at this point. Because I am me, I didn’t even bother to check the track layout before I agreed and got into line with him. I just figured, well, Jack is fearless, so what’s the worst that could happen?

You guys, this roller coaster had loops. It had corkscrews. It had a corkscrewing loop. Oh, it was quite the roller coaster. I think it surprised Jack a lot. I’ll say this for the kid though; he didn’t want to go back on that particular roller coaster, but he was game to go on any other ride or coaster for the rest of the day. Jack and his bravery astound me every single day. He is one of a kind, that kid.

We collected Alex, Sam, and Quinn from the nearby arcade and Sam, Jack, and I went on the log ride while Alex and Quinn headed back to the skee-ball lanes—Quinn because he wasn’t interested in scary rides and Alex because he wasn’t interested in watery rides. (Did I mention that it was really cold?)

The advantage of the cold day was that there was no line for the log ride, allowing the three of us to go on it twice in record time. Sam loved it. This pleased me because where Jack is fearless, Sam can be fearful. I was hoping to get him on a roller coaster at the park, so I was happy that Sam liked the thrill of going down the hill.

I was also happy that I was able to position my children to block me from getting too wet.

I was also happy that I was able to position my children to block me from getting too wet.

It’s actually too bad that Quinn started the day off in such a rough way. I think that he would have been way more willing to try some of the rides if his fall hadn’t convinced him that Hershey was out to kill him. His hair kept getting stuck to his wounds and hurting him, so it wasn’t like he could forget about it either.

Now, I know this may surprise you, but I am a little bit rigid in the ways that I do things and in my mind, when you go to an amusement park, you ride rides and that is what is fun and you don’t do the arcade games because they are a waste of money because they are rigged so no one wins.

I needed Alex to remind me that those arcade games aren’t just fun if you win. I needed to learn that there are ways other than mine to have fun at an amusement park. He and Quinn did a lot of arcade and boardwalk-style games while the rest of us went on rides. I am so grateful that Alex was flexible enough to see what Quinn needed and that the two of them had such a fun day together.

Quinn won these flowers and Alex won the ability to somehow make Quinn carry the family backpack. That achievement will probably never be repeated.

Quinn won these flowers and Alex won the ability to somehow make Quinn carry the family backpack. That achievement will probably never be repeated.

We headed out of the park shortly after I put Sam on the roller coaster I wanted him to try. I can tell you that he did not care for it and he is very angry at me for putting him on it when there was a tamer one somewhere in the park that no matter how hard we looked, we could not find. I thought it was a blast. He thought I was purposely trying to kill him.

On our way out, we passed a team of candy bars just hanging out by themselves. We caught sight of them from a distance and Jack shrieked and started running to them. The candy bars heard him and they all started waving. Jack leapt over a bench to dive into a hug with the Kit Kat. It was completely enchanting at the same time that it was totally absurd.

Then the candy bars' handlers had to physically pull him off of said KitKat.

Then the candy bars’ handlers had to physically pull him off of said Kit Kat.

From there, all that was left was finding our car. (Me: “Do you remember where we parked? Other than near the bloodstain?”)

Remember when I said that our day at Hersheypark would be either spectacularly good or spectacularly bad? Without question, we had both. All of us had some tough moments, but we got through it and I think we all learned something about ourselves and each other that day. Next time we go to an amusement park (you know, in ten or twelve years, once the memories fade), I’ll use those lessons to make our trip even better.

So, that was our day. I’ll save our day at Chocolate World for tomorrow because I think if I tried to add any more to this post, my blog would implode. For White Knuckle Parenting this week, I did write specifically about the lessons I learned at the amusement park. Definitely check it out.

The 5th Avenue bar strikes me a little bit as a Poochie the Rockin' Dog character.

The 5th Avenue bar strikes me a little bit as a Poochie the Rockin’ Dog character: all attitude, no substance.

Awesome

A lot of people have asked me how Jack is doing in his new school. I’m going to let him tell you.

We ran into Jack’s second grade teacher (and my friend) this afternoon after school. She asked him how school was. His response? An enthusiastic, “Awesome!”

Jack adored his teachers last year, but the work was really stressful for him. He told his therapist that school was “like a crash on the head”—or a bonk or something similar. I don’t think it really matters what sort of collision with his head he specified. It wasn’t good. Before school started this year, he told us that he was worried. He was worried that the work would be too hard. I was worried that he would be miserable, like he was last year. His reaction to school last year is the reason he has a therapist now.

He is in a class with a total of six kids and he is mainstreamed for a lot of the day. But the part of school that he has the hardest part with—reading, writing, inferences—that gets taken care of in his small classroom. He has kids he likes in the class. One of those kids lives only a few blocks away from us. His teacher is nice. His homework load isn’t too heavy. His bus schedule has worked out.

He thinks school is awesome.

He is happy.

Now, one of the things Jack’s prior school was really good at was pushing him academically, probably farther than I would have done on my own, and for the most part, it was good for him. I have to make sure that he remains challenged, because Jack has an awesome brain that needs to be engaged. Based on what I’ve seen, the teacher will likely be good at making sure he gets challenged the way he needs to be.

But, honestly, at this point, I don’t care. All I care about between now and parent-teacher conferences in November is that he is happy. That is my total goal. I want him to learn that school can be fun—or at least not like a head injury.

I think that might be happening.

Jack has been reading more lately. He’s read all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books a zillion times. This morning, Jack asked me to get him a notebook he could use as a diary, so I found one and had it waiting for him when he got home. During homework time, he ignored the math worksheet I kept trying to put in front of him and instead he started writing in his new diary.

He told me to pretend to drink my can of soda and look over the top of my computer at him. Which I did, in between sneaking photos of him.

Jack writing in his diary

He kept looking up to take note of what I looked like.

Do you know what was happening here? Last year, two or three times a week, Jack was supposed to read a book for a half hour and then write in a reading response journal. It was a nightmare. Forcing him to write something relevant and coherent after I’d forced him to read? It didn’t go well. At a certain point, I just stopped making him do it.

This year, Jack’s teacher asked if I wanted him to have to do a reading response, to which I vehemently shook my head no.

But look at that. That is a reading response. On his own terms. And, frankly, it is better than any of the paragraph-format reading responses he wrote last year. See?

Jack's diary

He told me I could look. I asked first, I promise. It is a diary after all.

I’m aware that this notebook probably won’t end up filled with a daily record of Jack’s life. But the way he merged his real life with what he was doing and with the bar graphs on his math worksheet and my soda and my tank top and, holy shit, that awesome picture of Alex?

I love that he could do that and that he wanted to do that.

At least for now, I feel that Jack is in the right place. He is happy. He is learning on his own terms.

And that is awesome.

*****

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The End of IEP Season

So, it turns out that I have done two things with my post about Jack’s IEP meeting. I have (a) caused every parent of a second grader to freak the fuck out about what is going to happen to their kid next year, and (b) learned that an Asperger’s program is not a common thing in public school systems.

I would like to start today by addressing Issue the First. I am sorry. Please don’t freak out. Every kid is different. Your kid will be okay because you are advocating for him or her. Keep an eye on said child and keep doing what you have been doing. Really. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and keep your eyes open. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As for the Asperger’s program, everybody was all, “Asperger’s program?! What the whut whut?!” It’s like the time I was emailing with a parent in Los Angeles about a problem her kid was having and I suggested that maybe she talk to the school counselor and, via email, she managed to convey incredulous laughter because, hello, LAUSD. They don’t have, you know, things there. Oh, and fuck you, you and your Montgomery County, Maryland choices.

One day I will think before I type. One day. Probably not today.

In other news, I had another IEP meeting today, but this one was for Quinn. He has an IEP because he’s been getting OT services for a couple of years. Today he graduated. It felt a little weird for them to take away his disability code and for me to be okay with it. It was the right thing to do, weird pencil grip notwithstanding, but I felt like I should upend a table and start yelling about services for my baby. What I did was stand up, say thank you, and then went home. There’s something to be said for 15 minute meetings.

The other result of today’s meeting is that I do not have any more IEP meetings this year. Thank God. In fact, I might refuse to discuss special education for the next five weeks just on general principle.

That, at least, would prevent me from scaring all of you to death. You are welcome.

*****

Thank you so much to Cheetah contributors the Paulsons! It’s not too late to donate and it is certainly not too late to come to the Cheetah-thon on Saturday from 5-7 pm at the Rockville Ice Arena. You guys, it’s going to be so much fun and there will be raffles for fantastic prizes and fun skating and great families and we are going to have such a blast!

I Would Just Like to State for the Record That the System is Stupid

It is not a secret that Jack has been struggling in school this year. His inclusion classroom isn’t the right place for him anymore. His teacher is fantastic, she really is, but it is just not working. I can’t even begin to tell you how many IEP meetings I’ve sat through this year.

Our most recent meeting for Jack was last Thursday, but I should go back to last fall to give you the whole background.

Jack started struggling early this year. Third grade is a big transition for anyone and it was a huge transition for Jack. I started to see early on that things weren’t going well and called a meeting to get the ball rolling to have the school district take a look at him to see where they thought the appropriate placement was. Then I hired an advocate and went through the same process privately.

Both sets of people pretty much came up with the same conclusion: Jack’s next step in school placement is the Asperger’s program, which is a self-contained classroom with mainstreaming opportunities in a public school located somewhere between Quinn’s school and Sam’s.

I mean, actually it’s called the High Functioning Autism program, but I think referring to people as high or low functioning is kind of an asshole thing to do and bullshit to boot, so I’ll be calling it what most people in the county call it, which is the Asperger’s program.

No one mention to anyone that Jack doesn’t have Asperger’s, okay? It’s our little secret.

Anyway, at one of the IEP meetings, it was mentioned that Jack had long (like, for years) been considered a “poster child” for this program, but as he was doing well in his inclusion classroom, he was not eligible for the Asperger’s program.

Interesting, huh? See, there’s this thing called the “least restrictive environment,” or LRE. Unless you have a special education kid, you probably don’t know about it. If you do have a special education kid, you’ve probably heard that phrase a million times. What it means is that kids are supposed to be put in the most mainstream placement that they can hack.

It makes sense. You want kids to learn to live in the mainstream and you don’t want to isolate or stigmatize special needs kids just because they have a diagnosis. That makes sense. I’m a fan of inclusion. I think it is great for both typical and special education kids. I think everybody can learn from each other. I understand LRE and I think, applied with broad strokes, it’s absolutely what we should strive for.

Except that it’s kinda bullshit. See, Jack had to pretty much fail at his current placement to be put in a more restrictive environment—that is, a classroom made up entirely of kids with autism.

Then there is Sam. You might remember that he is in what is known as the Highly Gifted Center (another asshole name for a program, if you ask me) in a classroom made up entirely of kids with giftedness—and the quirks that come along with it. That is for damn sure not the least restrictive environment for him. And he damn sure didn’t have to fail at his original placement to end up there.

But because being called gifted is something to strive for, being put in a self-contained classroom in a school 20 minutes away from his home school is something to be coveted, sought after, and congratulated. Because being a special education student has an entirely different value judgement attached to it, kids are supposed to strive to move out of their self-contained classrooms in schools 20 minutes away from their home schools back into the mainstream.

There are two exactly opposite standards for these two groups of kids.

What I see when I look at my kids is that they have found classrooms that work for them. They have/will have teachers who know how to teach to their particular brains. They will have peers. They will build on their strengths and work on improving their weaknesses. This is how it should be. It shouldn’t matter if it is more or less restrictive. Semantics shouldn’t get in the way of teaching children.

If someone is the poster child for a particular program, HE SHOULD BE IN THAT PROGRAM.

I don’t know that the Asperger’s program will be the best thing for Jack. I hope it is. If it isn’t, then we move on to the next step. What I hope happens is that Jack will be able to get a couple of really solid years of specialized instruction under his belt so that he will be able to either move on to a middle school Asperger’s program or return to his home school for those grades.

Mostly I hope that his dread and negativity about school will be alleviated at least a little.

Also I hope that I can figure out how to deliver three different kids to three different schools every morning and then manage to reclaim them again every afternoon.

So remember that meeting where I was told Jack was a poster child for this program? That was two months ago. At that meeting, it was decided that the Asperger’s program was the place for Jack and that we thought it was the right environment for him and yay for the correct placement! Except they couldn’t finalize the placement until we had new goals written and blah, blah, blah, we’ll meet again in May and we can do this then.

Unless, of course, somehow Jack pulls his shit together and has a great couple of months, in which case he would no longer be eligible for the program for which he is a poster child. Therefore, Stimey, because you believe that the Asperger’s program is the right place for Jack, you are going to spend the next couple of months being torn between wanting your child to be successful so he feels good about himself and wanting your child to fail so he can have the right placement.

Yeah. Exactly. That sucked.

Also? I shouldn’t have worried.

Things got, like, exponentially worse, to the point that Jack was not getting a whole lot done at school at all. Both his teachers at school and us at home worked really hard to try to help him. To no avail. His teacher told me a story about how once Jack stalled and refused to do any work until lunchtime and then looked at her and said, “I won.”

Ballsy, that Jack.

So. Long story short, the special education system eventually led us to what I hope is a good place for Jack for next year. In many ways I am sad for Jack to leave the school he has been at for four years because he has had wonderful teachers and his team really, truly cares about him. They have tried their hardest to get him what he needs and I am so grateful for that. I’m a little nervous to step into the gaping unknown of a whole other school and program.

Regardless, I’m hopeful. I really do think this is the best available option for us. My fingers are crossed. And my heart is finally fully set on the hope for absolute success in the right classroom for my precious child.

Kapow! Kaboom! Smash! Crash!

Jack’s been having a rough year. He has fantastic teachers, but the environment isn’t working for him any more. Today was a prime example of that. Maybe the primest.

I have long likened phone calls from the school and notes home to be like little grenades that get lobbed at you when you least expect them—usually when you’re coasting along in a good mood. Today was a prime example of that. Maybe the primest.

I had a lovely afternoon. Then Jack got off his bus and I found his recorder in his backpack. I’d never heard him play, so I asked if he knew any songs. He took the recorder and played an excellent, recognizable rendition of Old MacDonald.

I had no idea he could do that.

I was happy, Jack was happy, we had a long Friday afternoon ahead of us to play in the yard and be happy people.

Then Quinn’s bus pulled up. Quinn got off, along with several neighborhood kids, including Jack’s friend E. E told me about a fifth grader at recess who was mean to Jack. E was outraged about the whole situation. I am so grateful for her. Jack wants to marry her. *I* want him to marry her. I filed this information about the fifth grader away so I could talk to Jack about it later. I didn’t yet realize all the other things I was going to have to add to that list.

Just as we walked into the house, the phone rang. It was the school counselor. Right at the end of the day Jack had gotten in trouble because another kid told him to do something, which he did, and which is against the rules. Later, when we were talking about it, I told Jack that sometimes kids tell other kids to do things to get them in trouble because they’re being mean. Tears welled up in Jack’s eyes and he said, “I didn’t know they were being mean.”

Then I opened Jack’s communication log and there was a note from one of his teachers about something Jack had done.

Then I checked my email and there was an email from one of his teachers about something that Jack was suspected of doing.

Four grenades, all in a row. Ouch. They knocked me down and they knocked me down hard. I’m sure it super sucked for Jack too. I’ve been waiting for bullying, subtle or otherwise. I guess I just didn’t expect it to all start in one day. I also didn’t expect it to all start on the day Jack also did unrelated, undesirable stuff.

I was so emotionally trashed, I almost canceled plans I had to go see friends for dinner. I’m glad I didn’t. These four lovely ladies helped me forget temporarily about mean kids and inappropriate behavior.

Susan, Vickie, Algernon, Elaine, Ellen
Algernon was just happy to see something other than the inside of my bag. He hasn’t been out since Disney World.
Now we just move onward as always. When you fight the good fight, it makes sense that you get hit with some grenades now and again. I just wish there were a way that I could take them instead of Jack.

Team Stimey and the Cat

Dear 2012: Go fuck yourself. Seriously. You have not been good for anyone.

For all of you out there having a bad time, you have all of my love. Don’t ask me how each of you can have all of my love. It’s possible and you have it, so shaddup.

Related: I hate everything.

 

Like that photo. It looks like a closeup of Jack, but if you click to embiggen the photo, you will be able to see the tear stain on his cheek that I noticed after he came home. Welcome to Jack and school these days. Did I mention that I hate everything?

I have to stop.

So. The feral cat we accidentally trapped in our car.

Lately I’ve caught myself talking to people and then drifting off only to come back to the knowledge that I have been gazing past whoever has been speaking to me. The “evening routine” version of this is getting out of my minivan at night and leaving the sliding side door open in the rain. I did that last night.

When Alex got home from work, he noticed that the door was open, so he used his set of keys to close the door.

Then he noticed the animal inside.

Thinking Team Stimey might need a laugh, he came into the house to, you know, get the whole family to go outside and see if it was a feral cat or an opossum that was now feasting on the goldfish crackers in the cracks of our car seats. (It turned out to be a gigantic, kinda terrified looking gray tabby cat.)

The children thought the cat in the car was the most hilarious thing that had ever happened in their lives.

Somehow we ended up surrounding the car and the cat FREAKED OUT. It started ping ponging around the car—trunk area, back seat, dashboard, back to the trunk. We finally had to open three doors and give it a wide berth before it was brave enough to run for the bushes.

On the upside, now our car smells like panicked feral cat pee.

Did I already tell 2012 to fuck off? Because I seriously mean it.

I Was Trying to Think of a Funny Way to Say Happy Thanksgiving to All You Americans, Screw You Everyone Else, Without Sounding Like a Xenophopic Nutjob, But I Couldn’t Do it, So Happy Thanksgiving To All of You, Even if You Don’t Celebrate

But really. Sincere thanks to all of you. Not to be to cheeseball or anything, but you all really make a difference in my life. I am thankful for you today. (And most days, really. Don’t feel tooo special today, okay?)

I like to let my kids write my Thanksgiving Day post, but Sam’s teacher came up woefully short this year. I guess fourth graders are too old to be thankful in school.

I asked Sam if he did any Thanksgiving stuff at school. “You know, like ‘I am thankful for…'”

“No, we didn’t do any of that stuff,” he says.

“Well, what are you thankful for?” I asked.

Long pause. Then, “You?”

Thanks, Sam. You’ve learned to suck up well.

First graders, however, are right in the PRIME of creating these things. He came home with a whole book full of thanks and awesome.

I am thankful for first grade teachers who create this stuff.
By: Stimey

Page one: “I am thankful for food.”

Aren’t we all?

That is apparently me and Quinn. I am bald and he is a baby.

Page two: “I am thankful for everyone else in my family.”

 Although, honestly, this looks kind of like a horror movie to me.
I identified Jack on the left and Quinn second from left, but then it looks like Quinn ran out of coloring steam. The rest of us are colorless blobs with freaky smiles.

Page three: “I am thankful for Izzy and Denali.”

His spelling of Denali’s name was, shall we say, creative.

Denali is really fat. Evidently, she is also “lazzy,” which, I believe translates to “lazy.” I just about died laughing when I saw this page and the fact that this particular character trait was important enough to be added as a label. Note the sleep Zzzzz’s.

It is important to note here that the dog did not make the book.

Page four: “I am thankful for mom.”

I win.

I got my own page, peoples. AND a heart. Some days being the mom is a sucky job. Some days it is the best. Today it is the best.

Jack’s class also made lists of things they are thankful for. Well, most of the kids made paragraphs from the lists, but Jack evidently refused and refused hard. I got this great note in Jack’s communication notebook from the teacher that was all, “Jack refused to do the paragraph, oh but now he sees me writing in the book, so he picked up his pencil…”

“I’m thankful for (1) food (2) video games (3) Famous Amos cookies 
(4) my mom, my dad, Samuel & Quinn (5) wall of fame (final) TV.”

Jack isn’t grateful for the dog either.

Me, I’m so thankful for those creative, funny, loving, wonderful kids.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And even if you don’t live in a Thanksgiving-celebrating locale, know that I’m thankful for you too. Have a wonderful day.