Our Texas Trip – Part 3

I want to wind up my tales of our Texas trip with this blog…I hope.  This doesn’t need to drag on for weeks!  😊

I told about the Aquarium Pyramid in Galveston in my last blog.  A few days after that adventure, we went back to Galveston to go see the Rainforest Pyramid.  These are such unique buildings!

Aaron loved the Rainforest as well, although he wasn’t over the moon excited like he was in the aquarium.  Still, it was great fun to see all sorts of rainforest birds:

Flowers:

Fish:

And when I turned around, it was not such great fun to see Aaron’s hand stretched out toward this cute little monkey and see the monkey holding Aaron’s finger!!  Actually, it was adorable, but we knew he wasn’t supposed to touch the animals.  And then he told a worker about his fun moment, and he got a nice lecture.  😊

It was another wonderful day for all of us.

And ended with supper at Skipper’s.

I wanted to also share a few of the sweet family moments that made this trip extra special. 

Our son, Andrew, was in town for an NHRA race.  He lives near Indianapolis where the teams are located, and he travels all over, so we don’t see him nearly enough.  We usually go to the Houston race but the chance of the race being cancelled due to COVID kept us from buying tickets this year.  Here is a shot of what he does – he’s in the center, starting the top fuel car.

He was able to come over to Andrea and Kyle’s house for an evening.  It was so wonderful to all be together for the first time since I don’t know when. 

We took a picture that’s not the greatest quality but still shows the greatest time together. And look at Aaron!  😊

Another sweet moment was playing Skip-Bo with Andrea.  Aaron keeps a notebook record of who wins each game when he and I play. 

But as we played with Andrea, Aaron REALLY wanted her to win.  He watched her cards carefully and would purposely not play his if it meant she could play hers instead.  Therefore, she won the game and Aaron was thrilled!  He had already gotten a piece of paper and very happily gave her a column with her first win mark.  It was just precious!

Kyle promised to play catch outside with Aaron on Saturday, but it poured rain all day.  Therefore, Kyle grabbed some soft dog toys and played catch with Aaron inside, which tickled Aaron to pieces.

Aaron had lots of quality doggie time, which he loved…and so did the dogs (for the most part!).  They certainly knew where to go to have a treat slipped to them!

On the morning we left to go home, Aaron was all packed up and ready to hit the road. 

Aaron:  I’m sad to leave Andrea.

Me:  So you’ll want to come back again and see her?

Aaron:  Nah.

😆😆

But he did worry all the way home about leaving her and whether she was lonely.  We didn’t tell him that she might have been enjoying the quiet.

So, again, I want to thank all of you that were praying for us on this vacation.  This trip truly was the best ever with Aaron, and we are very sure it was due to all the prayers from all of you.  Thank you so, so much!

And thank you for reading about our fun times and all the sweet memories made. 

Our Texas Trip – Part 2

In my previous blog, I shared with you some of the difficulties Aaron had as we went to Texas to see our other children.  Kyle and Andrea live just east of Houston, and our son Andrew was going to be in town there for an NHRA race – he works for one of the teams.

Aaron loves talking to his siblings on the phone.  He could go on for hours, literally, talking about all his interests.  But suddenly the idea of actually being with them was not so appealing.  It’s the traveling and leaving his comfort zone that he simply cannot handle. 

We all know Aaron very well and have come to expect his anger when his world is upended.  During Christmas, we refer to Aaron’s Annual Christmas Meltdown as we know it will inevitably occur.  So on this week of vacation and visiting, we were fully expecting Aaron’s Annual Vacation Meltdown.

We started our week off in a safe mode, doing something Aaron loves – shopping!  He was happy to go to Sam’s with me and Andrea, carting home extra goodies that he chose.  He was more relaxed and happy that day, until we told him that the next day we were going to the Aquarium Pyramid in Galveston. 

His discomfort level rose as he contemplated tackling one more unfamiliar place.  But when we showed him a video of some of the displays there, his interest overcame his doubt.  And oh my goodness, what a day we had!

The building itself is beautiful:

And once inside, Aaron was beside himself excited!  He loved every single minute.  Everyone nearby heard and saw his joy as he laughed and pointed and talked up a storm.  The day was truly delightful.  Here are some pictures.

Near the entrance, with Gary and Andrea:

He LOVED the penguins: 🙂 🙂

The tunnel was amazing:

He got to pet the Manta Rays, but the first time he bent over in a deeper area he started to fall in the water!  He would have totally fallen in had Gary and I not grabbed him.  His soaking wet shirt and shorts didn’t bother him in the least.  We went up to a safer place and he carried on while Gary and I held on…to HIM!

A visit to the gift shop ended with us buying Aaron a stuffed penguin he wanted.  On the way out of the aquarium, we passed one more penguin display, where Aaron showed the live penguins his stuffed penguin.  The reaction of the one of the penguins, and of Aaron, was priceless.

We ate lunch at Jimmy’s On The Pier.  It was very windy outside but so beautiful!

What a very fun and wonderful day for all of us, full of happy memories!  I’ll share more in my next Texas blog.  Thanks for reading!

Our Texas Trip – Part 1

I heard an old George Strait song yesterday that could have been Aaron’s theme song leading up to our trip to Texas.  The song is titled “I Hate Everything.”  And oh boy, did Aaron ever!

The night before we left saw us reeling under all Aaron’s verbal blows.  He was livid at having to go with us, far preferring that we hire a caregiver to watch him while Gary and I went alone.  We were definitely with him on that as the evening wore on and we were worn out. 

The next morning was no better.  Aaron didn’t like us, the trip, the car, the snacks we took, Texas, Andrea, Kyle, their dogs…nothing.  The only thing he liked was his idea of staying home and that was NOT going to happen, so we were stuck with lots of “not likes” and plenty of anger. 

“I hate this vacation!!” he declared as we drove down the interstate. 

Aaron does not enjoy leaving his room, his house, his routine, his bed…his normal.  These things are such a part of what makes Aaron function in his normal that the process of uprooting, even for just a week, is nearly more than he can bear. 

Aaron accepted his inevitable doom as we drove farther away from normal.  Gary and I left him to his games, his music, and his movies as we quietly recovered.  How draining it all was!  I texted and messaged friends and family to please pray.  What a comfort it was to know that we were being brought before the Lord!  I know that many of my fellow bloggers were also praying, and I thank you so much for that. 

We stopped a few hours down the road at our favorite Oklahoma City rest area.  And there Aaron found a cute little stuffed owl that we let him buy.  He rubbed his hands together in his happy way as we paid, and Gary and I felt like doing the same as we saw a lifting of Aaron’s anger.  A chocolate milkshake and onion rings from the nearby Sonic gave him further reason to smile. 

It’s a very long drive to Houston, and then even farther to Andrea and Kyle’s house in League City.  Aaron had lots of time to think about the upcoming week of change and uncertainty that he felt waited for him there.  We saw occasional outbursts from him about how he still didn’t like this vacation. 

Finally, there it was…the Houston skyline.

And not too long after, we were pulling into Kyle and Andrea’s driveway.  We could hear their 3 adorable dogs barking as we got out of the car.  Soon we were sharing hugs and doggie pats, settling our things in our rooms, and sitting down to the pizza that was waiting for us.

What a relief it was to see that Aaron was relaxed!  He had immediately given the dogs their treats and toys we had brought to them.  As we sat around the table, I was so touched to see the total attention that Kyle and Andrea paid to Aaron as he talked non-stop. 

That attention to whatever Aaron is saying is one of his major love languages.  The things he talks about can be mind-numbing to us but not to him.  Listening, commenting, answering his many questions…that means more to Aaron than we often stop to recognize.  But Kyle and Andrea know Aaron, and they love him, and they showed it by listening with great interest to his talk of…whatever it was he was saying.  😊

Later, as we were getting ready for bed, Aaron had me fill his water bottle that he keeps by his bed to drink while he reads a book before he goes to sleep.  Got that?  Because that little fact is very important.

I gave Aaron his pills while he was getting in bed.  Not having any other water, I told Aaron to just drink some of the water from that water bottle. 

“No!” Aaron told me.  “I can’t drink that water to take my pills.  That’s the water I drink while I’m reading in bed!”

I was so tired.  I sighed, and Aaron heard me.

“You don’t understand,” he said, with some anger returning.  “No one understands me!”

It was like some of that water splashed me in the face as I was hit with a fresh look into Aaron’s heart.  Try as we might, sometimes it truly is very hard to understand Aaron. 

Or maybe we understand on paper, when things are calm, but in the middle of the moment when we’re stressed it can be very hard to slow down, take a breath, step back, and see the world through Aaron’s eyes.  Feel it with his senses. 

This whole trip was like going to Mars for him in many ways. 

“Please, Mom,” it was like he was saying.  “Don’t also make me use my bedtime water bottle for taking my pills.  Don’t you understand?!”

My rising frustration was immediately replaced with empathy for this son of ours who didn’t ever ask to have autism.  But he does ask that we try to understand him as he lives with the rigidity that autism causes. 

Just understand.

Push aside my exhaustion, my frustration, my expectations – and simply give him a separate glass of water for pill taking.

What a gift that was to Aaron!

And to me as I once again saw him relax.  I knew that I, too, had spoken Aaron’s love language.

I have so much to tell you about our time in Texas.  It was the best trip ever for all of us!  I’ll share more later, hopefully soon, in my upcoming blogs.

Bless all of you for reading and for caring!  Good night and sweet dreams.