Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Our Memorial Day Weekend

We had a nice holiday weekend in Michigan with Bubbe and Papa.

The first activity was to go the Mermaid Megafest.

The big event of the festival was the gathering at the pier to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as mermaids.

We couldn't count how many we saw, but everyone seemed confident that with well over 400 mermaids, the record would be broken.

It was fun to see all of the mermaids and pirates gathered in the one spot.

Kai's favorite activity at his grandparent's house is going to the beach. And after the worst spring in my life, the weather warmed up just in time and we were able to go to the beach every day.

Of course, just because the air temperature had warmed up didn't mean that the water temperature was warm. But the frigid water didn't bother Kai.

I went into the water with Kai to take pictures and keep him company while my wife stayed warm ashore. I asked why I always had to go into the cold water and she said it was a time for father-and-son bonding. Ha!

But when Kai got back to land, he made sure to press his ice cold body against Mom.

Another favorite activity is to play games with Bubbe and Papa. This weekend we had several matches of Rummikub.

Papa is a particularly competitive player so it is extra satisfying when Kai and I teamed up to beat him a time or two.

On our last evening, we strolled back to the lakefront to see the sunset.

Of course, the time went fast and then it was time to say goodbye. We took one more photo before leaving.

On the way home, we made a side trip to go to Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, a restaurant in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago on old Route 66 that specializes in fried chicken. My wife saw it featured on the Food Network and suggested we could go there to celebrate my birthday since I love fried chicken but don't get to eat it too often.

We ordered chicken wings, sauteed spinach, baked mac and cheese, and the fried chicken, of course!

I loved the fried chicken!

And so went our weekend. Hope you had a nice one, too!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Success Assembly

Kai's school has a Success Assembly a few times each year. Invariably, he has had some of his worst days on these occasions.

Kai never receives an award - his behavior at school is not worthy of recognition. But rather than be understanding that he is responsible, he gets very angry with the school staff and at the students who are awarded. Many times he becomes disruptive during the Assembly and has to be escorted out.

The latest Assembly was scheduled for Thursday of this week, and from Monday Kai was already upset. At our family therapy session with our private social worker, Kai was seething about how terrible the day would be and how undeserving some of the winners are. Our therapist noted that Kai was feeling very jealous.

We all spoke about how he should go into the assembly ready for disappointment. He cannot control the results. He cannot change the results. He just needs to accept them.

At home, we had him talk out some strategies for coping that day, and then had him write them down on a sheet of paper. One thing he said and wrote was "cover my mouth with (imaginary) duct tape."

I suggested was that he should pretend that my wife was at school with him... I asked him how would he act if that were the case. He said that he would behave as a gentleman. I thought that it might be good to have a physical reminder of Mom that he could take to school with him. And so my wife and I found a photo of Kai and Mom that we cut out and attached to the list of coping strategies that Kai had written.

We reviewed the coping strategies with Kai every evening this week. And he took them to school yesterday along with the photo of he and his mother.

But would that be enough?

We were really nervous that this would be another terrible day.

And so it was with some anxiety that we opened the email from school yesterday afternoon.

It said that Kai "did a great job during the assembly and was able to sit through the entire time." He even seemed to be a good sport as he "was extremely proud of our class for having the highest number of award recipients!"


We were very happy to read that, but probably feeling relieved than anything else. Especially so when we read that an administrator from Kai's future high school had been in attendance as well.

And so, though Kai did not win any awards, this Success Assembly was a true success for Kai. And looking forward toward high school, gives us hope that maybe Kai will be ready for his new environment in the fall.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mother's Day - 2018

We've been slowing giving Kai more chores at home and trying to teach him independence skills, so Mother's Day was a good occasion to try teaching him how to make pancakes for breakfast.

He did fine with stirring the pancake mix and water together.

But had a little trouble with the flipping part.

Still, we had a couple of good pancakes for Mom (while I ate the ones that didn't come out as good) and it was a small step toward building a repertoire of meals he can make on his own.

My wife said that what she really wanted for Mother's Day this year was to have the inside of her car cleaned. So, I taught Kai how to wipe down the dash and other parts of the interior, vacuum the floors, and wash the floor mats.

Late in the afternoon, we went back to King Spa, where we went a couple of months ago when our hot water heater went out. At that time, both Kai and my wife enjoyed it very much and my wife said she wanted to return for Mother's Day.

The last time we came, my wife did not have a massage as we did not know how long Kai would tolerate the place. But after seeing how long he wanted to stay in the bath area last time, my wife decided that she could enjoy a 90-minute body scrub and massage this time.

So while she was doing that, Kai and I went to the men's side and soaked alternatively in the really hot tub and the cold one. The cold one feels way too cold at first, but after a good hot soak it is very refreshing. And conversely, cooling off enables you to return to the hot side for a few minutes before it becomes too hot and you need to cool again.

We stayed in the bath area for over an hour, and then put on clothes to come out to the coed area where there are several dry hot rooms where you can lay down and relax. Kai didn't particularly want to stay in those too long so I had him wait in the lounge where he could use his iPhone while I tried a few more rooms.

And then Mom came out and we met up to have dinner at the Korean restaurant on the premise. My wife said that she really enjoyed the scrub/massage and she seemed really relaxed.

We ordered fried dumplings and Korean vegetarian "pancake" for appetizers.

For the main dishes, my wife had Soon Tofu, a Korean soup made with kimchi. Kai had kalbi beef. And I had grilled eel.

Everything was delicious!

It was a lot of food for us, but we saved room for dessert. We shared a strawberry shaved milk ice.

The shaved ice was different than the kind we had in Hawaii last summer; the ice was so soft that you weren't sure it was really ice. It tasted really yummy!

And so this Mother's Day had some things for Mom and some learnings for Kai. All in all a good day.

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