Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh What A Night……

On Wednesday night, when Kim and Maya were looking at the cabin we were staying at on Friday night (and the pictures online, and those you’ll see below were spectacular) Kim wonders outloud: Do you think we should take your all wheel drive Volvo, versus the mini-van, on those mountain roads? 

Maya and Mommy Looking At The Cabin Online On Wednesday Night

I grimaced, I could just see Demetrius getting all fussy and whine-y when we told him we wouldn’t be watching movies on the way, and in the pictures online we didn’t see a TV.  No movies for him? That would make for an extremely long trip and a very agitated little boy.

Kim called and asked the manager. No, the mini-van would be just fine.  And yes, the living room and the bedrooms had TVs.  Whew.

So Friday morning we all loaded and headed up about an hour-and-a-half outside of Atlanta to Ellijay, GA for the town’s annual apple festival.  On Friday we’d do the little town, go to an apple orchard, and then go to the cabin.  On Saturday we’d go to the festival and then head home early evening. Sounded like a good plan.

The town was as cute and quaint as expected.  Maya and Kim did a little antiquing..and so did Demetrius. He found a vintage, 1994 Superman comic for a dollar and a half.  This made him happy…along with the cute little Mexican restaurant we ate at that had homemade chips.

Demetrius and Maya in downtown Ellijay

Maya found a paint your own pottery place, and we did that, and bought some cute little wooden apple trinkets for everyone’s teachers.  After that we headed to the Apple Orchard to pick our own apples.

A couple of bags and rows of apples can only lead to alot of fun.  Demetrius and Maya ran crazy, until their bags were about half full.  Then they were too heavy to carry and run…which of course meant that Daddy carried the bags while Mom chased and yelled, “I need to be able to see you Demetrius and Maya…”

Demetrius, running through the orchard

Munching on some apples while picking some others…

Maya, D and Daddy

Maya, D and Mommy…and Mommy looks to be pretty proud for planning such a fun two day trip for the fam

After buying a few pecks of apples and fried pies at the orchard and grabbing dinner and breakfast at Super Wal-Mart, it was off to the cabin for a great night (and we bought stuff to make smores!).

Then onto the cabin, and one of the highest stressful nights of my life.

The directions to the cabin were sketchy at best, even after Kim called earlier in the week.  As soon as we started to climb the mountain…it was one lane, gravel covered and poorly marked.  Kim gripped her leg and the arm support on the passenger door.  Maya kept telling us that it was scary from the back.  I frankly was a bit concerned too…while the whole time Demetrius kept telling us to turn the volume of the DVD player in the van up. He didn’t care, he was watching Tom and Jerry.  The worst? These paths weren’t marked well. We weren’t sure where we were, and with directions like, “pass the cabin with the red roof on your right”…suburban light weights like us get just a bit nervous.

We got there in one piece…6.1 miles up the mountain took us just over half-an-hour.  But the cabin and the views were stunning. And the kids had a bunk bed!  Take a look:

The kids made themselves comfortable in their room as soon as they got there

Of course Maya won the battle for the top bunk.  While Demetrius was initially upset, he got over it when he realized he could lay in bed and watch TV from the bottom bunk

The living room of the cabin…

Outdoor fireplace/deck. Notice the drop to the lower left of the photo, that was a total of about 40 feet….

If you want a better walk around of the cabin, watch the video I posted on Saturday night….and you’ll notice a trend. While the cabin was beautiful in inside and seemed safe on one side of the cabin, on the other side was a ginormous drop off.  On the outdoor fireplace end of the deck, it was about 40 feet down. On the hottub, ‘back door’ end of the cabin it was probably between 80-100 feet down.  See, I’m not lying:

Really harrowing looking over the side…..

I’m scared of heights, Maya is scared of heights and Kim is scared of Demetrius killing himself.  And as he kept trying to hop up on the hot tub cover (which he could have tumbled right over the side) and also push himself up to look over the deck…he very well might have been able to pull off his mother’s worst fear.

So that sets you up for the night.  Kim was a wreck, Demetrius kept going outside attempting to hop and look over the side and Maya was worked up that he would fall, or somehow a stranger or (bear/coyote/Bigfoot) would appear and attack her and throw her over the side.  We attempted smores once it got dark with the outdoor fireplace. Until Demetrius got up and ran across the deck and hopped to see what he could see over the side ‘in the dark’.  Kim moved as fast as she could, grabbed him and took him and Maya in telling them quite loudly, “That’s it. No more outside (Maya, I’m sure, was okay with this)….Demetrius, I told you 100 times not to do that since we’ve gotten here tonight….”. 

If there were any bears waiting to grab Maya when she wasn’t looking, they were moving on to another cabin.  They know an angry mother’s tone in any species language.  Time to move onto other unsuspecting prey…..

I tried to relax out on the deck, but it was no use.  Kim was a mess and so was Demetrius (he was wound up because he couldn’t go outside and was loaded with sugar from the smores) so I just went in, decided I’d watch some TV and hit the hay (I had to go down that hill early in the morning).  So when I went upstairs to put on my PJs….PAIN!

I couldn’t figure it out. It felt like my eye and my head had been punched.  I clutched my head and went into the bathroom. I was bleeding (and all of you know how foreheads bleed) and my right eye was tearing something fierce (I had poked it and my glasses were off on the floor somewhere) and I scratched my head just off the side above the ears.  What the hell?

I got the bleeding to stop, walked out (Kim was reading to the kids) of the room and saw that our bag of clothes was unintentionally placed below a rack of antlers, at eye level.  Who puts antlers on the wall, at eye level?  What the hell?  Once I got the bleeding to stop, it didn’t seem to bad (the ‘wound’) and the glasses, we think, kept the antler from poking me in the eye (could you imagine trying to get an ambulance up this road I’ve described…or Kim trying to drive down at night with me and a punctured eye?)…  Pictures here:

‘Attacklers’ mounted on the wall right above our bag…

Cut forehead

The next morning we decided that I probably could have used a stitch or two, but what to do (as said above).  A couple of days later the eye hurts more (sore) than the cut above.  The cool thing about it?  I can now say that I have a scar on my head from a deer’s antlers.  I can say that without lying, and with a straight face.  The rest of the story I don’t have to tell….but I’m wondering if I do if I’ll be seen as a bit of a tough mountain man? Ha!

The next morning Kim shot out of bed as soon as we heard stirring from the kids, and of course, Demetrius told her he wanted to go outside.  However, outside, we saw this:

Daybreak in Georgia’s mountains…..

Cutie-pie Maya just before we left in the morning….

When we left, I have to say, it was the worst drive of my life. We never went above 10 miles an hour down grades that had to be at least 80%.  Just over six miles, downhill, 45 minutes.  We were all shredded emotionally after this – I’m not joking when I say over 10 miles an hour the van started rocking and we got lost and had to have someone lead us out….all I kept thinking was, “My Volvo Cross Country is all wheel drive! Who told Kim that a mini-van was okay?” Man, I was peeved…

On the way out of town, we saw a pumpkin patch and decided we all needed to get out of the van for a brief period of time. Kim took some awesome photos -

This is one of those photos where you say to yourself, “Man, my kids are getting tall..”

Like I said, we needed to run after that horrid drive down the mountain…..

We needed to break the stress, and this goofy picture helped do it….

Bought the pumpkins, and how lucky am I to get to push them to the mini van half a mile away (it seemed)….

By the time we loaded up the pumpkins, we were hungry again…and hit IHOP.  After this morning, it was now about 12:30pm…and we decided to just give it up and head home.  Maya was happy to make her soccer game.  I watched some football and vegged.  Kim and the kids went to bed early…and I vowed that I’d never go back. :-)

Posted by Jerry in 14:16:50 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What’s the Big Deal?

Clearly, I thought this was a bigger deal than Demetrius and Maya 

So I got home last night and Kim had told the kids we weren’t going surfing/to the beach – and they just kind of moved on from it.  As I said before, this trip was obviously a bigger deal for me then the other three folks I live with.  Then again, they had a GREAT summer with trips all over the place, so maybe while I thought it was the cherry on top of the sundae; they saw this particular trip differently.  I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised and should be thankful we didn’t have a stream of tears and whining about not being able to go.

By not going, Kim had the opportunity to do a girls night out last night, which isn’t much more than margaritas and chips at the local Mexican restaurant on a Monday, but she enjoys it.  Me?  Well, the kids took their showers and we read some books in Mommy and Daddy’s bed.  Maya nodded off pretty quickly. Demetrius ended up fighting it and got banished back to his room and bed, which led to his falling asleep immediately.  I laid down with Maya on the bed again…and then the alarm went off at 4am for my morning run with Buddy.  Exciting night, eh?

Sometimes, a good sleep is just called for – especially on a Monday night!

Posted by Jerry in 13:25:37 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Question Asked

So it’s Sunday morning and some of the kids are watching TV after breakfast, and Kayleen and Maya are still at the table polishing off bagels and fruit. It’s post-jog euphoria time (I survived again!) and I’m chatting up Amanda (the Mom of the Mom and Dad team we went to Hilton Head with) when Kayleen, her daughter, asks innocently but inquisitively, “Why is Demetrius special needs?”

This is a first for me, so lets just get the ‘thud’ of my jaw hitting the ground out of the way. Once that takes place, Amanda and I exchange looks that say this is a legit question and I answer it.

“Kayleen, Demetrius is autistic.”

“What does that mean?”

“It is a condition that makes it hard for him to concentrate and pay attention and do things like other kids.”

“When did he get it?”

“We think he was born with it.”

“How long does it last?”

“We think the rest of his life. We don’t know. Doctors don’t know a lot about his condition.”


No biggie. She wanted to know and I explained it the best I could – trying to make it relevant to an elementary school kid without being patronizing or obscure/abstract…of course, when I re-read it, it seems to be spot on what they tell us as adults.

I’m actually proud of her for having the confidence and comfort to ask the question, versus just form some opinions on her own. She has always been great with Demetrius (we have some pictures of the two of them walking and holding hands over the years) and of course I wouldn’t want that to change at all. Heck, Demetrius considers her brother, David, his best friend, and Maya worships her (she is a big girl..with a lot of Polly Pockets to play with at her house).

The other side of this is that it is obvious that as he gets older the other kids are becoming more aware. That’s okay. But it can kind of get ya just a bit uncomfortable when the questions are asked. Especially when he’s just over in the next room watching television (We are working hard to not talk about him in such a way when he is in the room. He might not be able to respond properly, but he does understand – and we need to show him the proper respect as a person.)

Moving on, it was a great couple of days. I’ll post photos and stories soon. But I’ll leave you with this….

When we got home, Daddy mowed the lawn while the kids ran and played. Maya came out of the house, and wanted me to take some photos of her while she sang. Again, we seem to be in some sort of Hollywood phase these days. Then, we went to ride the bike at the bottom of the hill. She says to me, “Daddy, I think I’m ready to take my training wheels off.”

Oh boy…better start wearing that helmet superstar!

Posted by Jerry in 13:43:54 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Monday, September 4, 2006

Beachin’ It….

“Do you have Mrs. Pibb?”  David Button, six-year-old on vacation with the Grassos at Hilton Head.

Hope everyone is having a good vacation.

We’ve had beautiful weather here at Hilton Head.  The best, I have to say, is that I’ve been able to jog in the mornings (I have a race next Saturday morning, so I don’t want to take any time off right now)…and the condo we are staying at in about a mile from the beach.  So what I’m doing is running from the condo for a loosening up, then hitting the beach hard…the problem is that I’m not used to running in the heavy southeast humidity here at the beach, and then the sand. So my calves are tight and my lungs aren’t getting as much air as I’m used to.  I’m hoping this is good for my training for next weekend’s race.

We have had an absolutely great two days for Demetrius. He’s been very engaged, and even introduced himself to a gentleman on the beach.

Man, he loves the beach.  As soon as he hit the sand, he took off for the water.  I had to take off my shoes and fly after him…that’s a good thing.  We got out into the water, and paddled out until my shoulders were up to the water, and just – floated.  He smiled and giggled and then went under, came up and did it again.  He then swam over and hopped on my back and ordered me to swim under and ride a wave.  We had a great time – and we quickly heard, “HEY GUYS! WAIT FOR ME!” and here comes Maya on the boogie board.  So out in the ocean, a breeze, and my two kids happy as clams.  With not a problem whatsoever in the world.  Until Maya said: “Daddy, I need to pee.”

Maya, don’t worry about it.  Just make the water a little warmer……

Posted by Jerry in 02:17:02 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, September 1, 2006

We’re Off!

Well we are off to Hilton Head, SC today!

Ernesto is well into North Carolina at this point, and there is nothing but blue skies behind it (as is often the case post-hurricanes).  You can see this from the photo I grabbed a few minutes ago from the Salty Dog Café’s live Web cam:

Once we started packing last night, the kids energy level went through the roof, and though they got to sleep at about the same time as they usually do, the getting them down part was the hard part.  I’m riding up with Mr. Button today, and Kim and Ms. Button are going up with the kids…so I’m pretty sure I’m getting the better shake of the deal as those kids will be bouncing off the walls of the mini-van for a few hours (I’m not sure how long it takes to get up there or not).

There was some concern/kid trauma with the possibility of not going today.  I woke Demetrius up this morning after running, and he rolled over and said to me, “Are we going to the beach.” I gave him the thumbs up and he rolled back over smiling and playing with Woobie.

Frankly, I worry a lot with Demetrius about these types of situations.  What happens is that he begins obsessing about a lot of things, and begins locking them together.  An example would be: obsessed with counting down days to the beach, and he then ties leaving for the beach in the car and watching his latest favorite movie in the car on the way.  So if the trip didn’t happen, a lot of structure falls apart for him.  It is what it is, but it is more than disappointment with the beach…promises have to be made to other things like watching the movie specifically after going to the pool on Saturday – if we didn’t go to the beach.

Inevitably, it all worked out.  And by the way, I won’t be posting again until Tuesday of next week. I’m taking a few days off from all things technology…but promise to have some pics and stories when I return.


Posted by Jerry in 18:18:06 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Perfect Storm

Unfortunately we have the perfect storm brewing, and unfortunately again, George Clooney (poor Kim) is not involved this time.

Some friends have invited us up to Hilton Head for the Labor Day holiday, and that’s at risk thanks to Ernesto (poor Demetrius and Maya). Gotta like this Hurricane’s name – has some flava’ – but I don’t like where this is going…which is straight up the gut to South Carolina.

Ernesto, possibly screwing up Demetrius’ weekend

Now, we aren’t leaving until Friday afternoon, which if you look at the map above it shows that we might miss the storm (cross the fingers) but if it stalls or slows…bye-bye beach.

So storm #1 , Ernesto. Storm #2, making the call on Wednesday on whether or not to go and telling Demetrius….which leads to fits, crying…not believing it because he’s been obsessing about the beach with his friends for a month. Here’s where the autism really works against him. He’s so structured in everything in his life that when something like this happens, he just has a hard time handling the roll of the dice. Therefore, we’ve got to make a call on when to go/not go a bit early, to talk him back from the ledge by the time we hit Saturday, so we can attempt to enjoy the weekend without tears and whining (poor Jerry).

We’ll see…..but then again, I’m talking about a vacation. A year ago today, New Orleans went underwater. Maybe I should just pipe down….

Posted by Jerry in 13:10:34 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, August 4, 2006

Glazed Eyes But Home Sweet Home

Everyone got home just fine, but a little zombie-like. I think that has more to do with being in a hot car and watching too many videos than anything else. I got some hugs when they walked through the door, but they had kid energy to expend and decided to go play in their rooms and in the basement. After a period of time the energy level shot up and we wrestled and built train tracks.

That, by the way, was great. The two of them did it together, and though I had redirect Demetrius a couple of times to keep him on task, all in all the kids built the tracks and played trains together. Certainly Maya was being more creative in her imaginative play, but Demetrius was right in there with her….as long as he got to play with the Thomas trains.

Demetrius seems taller too – that seems odd to say, doesn’t it? Especially since they’ve only been gone a week-and-a-half. But I got to thinking about it, and over the course of the summer, they’ve been gone for about a month, and then I took a week long business trip, and another couple of two-dayer trips…so that’s, what, about a month of the summer we haven’t been together…so maybe it isn’t so far fetched to say they’ve been gone and he looks taller.

They also are, rightfully so, enamored with the new digital cable – there is a Radio Disney station they can listen to..what’s not to love about that? Yesterday they just kind of holed up in their rooms, so says Kim, and played among themselves and relaxed. Since Aunt Rachel is here – today they are going to the Botanical Gardens (which is just down the street from my office). Maya asked if I would like to come over and join them, when I was done making money.

It is good to have them back.

Posted by Jerry in 13:42:36 | Permalink | Comments Off