Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 15, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 18, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Friend for Life

So, after a lovely two days in the mountains, both boys have developed a cold.

True to his high energy and quick burning metabolism, Weston churned through the sore throat, stuffy nose and cough symptoms quickly and is well on his way to recovery, begging me to return to school.

Nicholas, on the other hand, has a weakened immune system, and true to his laid-back nature, he is struggling to recover from this nasty bug. Unlike Weston, he is in no particular hurry to return to school.

Upon hearing the news that Nicholas was under the weather, my good friend "S" dropped by our home to visit our sniffling patient. With her, she brought this adorable, fluffy, stuffed puppy. Nicholas immediately hugged his new furry friend for life and said with his whole heart......

"I love him."

He has not stopped kissing and carrying his new best friend.

My friend "S" is the most thoughtful and generous person that I have ever met. I have known her since the fourth grade. That's right.......the fourth grade! I don't think there is anything that I have in my life today....that I have had since the fourth grade!

We have gone from jungle gyms and junior proms to jobs, marriage and children of our own. 

She is kind, thoughtful and a good listener. She is a loving caretaker to friends and family alike and is always the one who happily organizes "get-togethers" with the girls. She is an awesome athlete, a true "natural" in every sport she ever played. She has a happy face, smiling eyes and the most contagious and hearty laugh that you have ever heard in your life. We have shared a good many of these side-splitting, tear-forming laughs together throughout our lives.

Lately, she has been like a sister to me.
Thank you S......for all that you do for me and my family!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter Wonderland at the Wentworth Inn

We have returned safely from our Thanksgiving excursion to the white mountains of New Hampshire. I am happy to report that we all enjoyed our stay at the Wentworth Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire. It was a very happy mini vacation.

Pete arrived home at noon on Wednesday. We quickly packed up the truck and headed northward. It was pouring rain.

Shortly after crossing the New Hampshire border, the rain turned into snow.

The dull gray environment instantly transformed into a snow covered landscape. The large pines towering on the side of the road were weighted down by a blanket of snow. It looked beautiful, almost magical and full of holiday anticipation.

A pretty waterfall along the way.

The driving became difficult as icy ruts started to form on the roads. Pete had to slow the vehicle as we bumped along the slippery highway. Just then, two snow plows pulled out in front of us helping to remove the icy ruts and clearing a smooth pathway for us to pass.

With their bright lights flashing, they seemed almost like reindeer guiding our loaded sleigh. The boys were thrilled at the impressive display of heavy equipment in action. I was thankful for the distraction.

New Hampshire highway teams are no amateurs when it comes to snow removal. The boys are now in heavy highway equipment heaven.

Our progress northward was slowed by the plows, but eventually they turned off the highway and we continued on toward the hotel. The more north we headed, the more snow covered the ground, until at last, we arrived  at the hotel where they had received a foot of sparkling new snow.

We entered the lobby to check-in. There, we found a crackling fire warming the room. Nicholas laughed out loud at the sight of his coveted fireplace and ran over to the glowing light to get warm.

Check-in area at the front desk

Small shops off the front lobby

We were placed in the Fairlawn Suites, a small apartment type complex across the street. We entered the room and were happy to see yet another gas fireplace.

By now it is time for dinner and Nicholas is hungry. We drop off our gear and head back into town to search for a restaurant. The town of North Conway is unusually quiet as many families are preparing for their Thanksgiving dinner. It is like a ghost town. We find a small pub-like restaurant and are immediately overwhelmed by the smell of grilled steak and hamburg. Pete, a hamburg connoisseur, smiles brightly. He is happy. The host, brings us to our table....and there, believe it or not, is yet another roaring fire. Nicholas is beside himself and very, very happy.

The best seat in the house

The meal was delicious and we feasted on nachos and burgers.Weston ordered a heaping plate of baby back ribs and continued to eat them all.

We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel to sleep.

The room had a king bed and pull out couch for Weston. We ordered a cot for Nicholas. Instead, they brought him a blow-up mattress. We all settled down for the night. All except for Nicholas whose blow up mattress had sprung a leak and the poor lad kept sliding out of bed all night. And even though he delighted in being close to the fireplace, he couldn't sleep and climbed into bed with us.

The next morning was glorious, with bright sunshine and very cold temperatures. We ate breakfast and took a walk through the quaint little town of Jackson, New Hampshire. It is a town devoted almost entirely to tourism. It consists mostly of lovely restaurants and quaint bed and breakfast hotels. The newly fallen snow glistened as we took photos and walked through the quiet streets.

porch area of the Snowflake Inn

Inn at Jackson (another B&B)

skating pond

S-Kimo's Ski Club (get it?)

Carter Notch Road
This heads up to Eagle Mountain House another B&B

To the right of the gazebo is the Wildcat River (a part of Jackson falls)

Next, we head back into the deserted town of North Conway where I have never, in my many years, seen it so empty. We decided to explore the Conway Railroad. We saw the Polar Express train resting before its busy use in the upcoming weeks. There was also a collection of old cargo trains and cabooses. Weston enjoyed walking around and reading the information listed on the side of each train.

The Polar Express

Conway Scenic Railroad

A red caboose

Another red caboose

For Weston, Thomas the train is officially out...this old train is officially IN

A snowman silently guarding the train yard

A lovely view of Mount Washington under snow and cloud cover

Soon, it was time for dinner. We dined in the lovely main hotel restaurant, where we feasted on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was delicious. Weston ordered the salmon instead of the turkey and ate his entire plate full of food. Must be something about that mountain air that jump starts an active boy's appetite?

But the most delicious part of the entire meal was the pumpkin pie. It was made with a gingerbread crust that was simply "to die for". Pete, who is also a dessert connoisseur, asked for a second helping. The waitress laughed and brought him a slice of pumpkin AND a slice of equally delicious apple pie, at no additional charge! Needless to say Pete gobbled them up...no pun intended! Of course we all helped him eat his heaping helping of heavenly pie.

When we left the restaurant it was dusk, the sun setting behind the mountains. It had become warmer so a fog had started to develop at the opposite end of the road.

The red sky at sunset

The foggy road

The boys decided to check out the jacuzzi tub in our room. I was very surprised since this sort of thing is usually upsetting to Nicholas (the loud noise, the sensory inputs). But with Weston in the tub with him, he loved it! They stayed in for 45 minutes then promptly decided to put themselves to bed! I think I have found another antidote to ADHD, since Weston could barely keep his eyes open.

It was a wonderful mini vacation. And despite a few meltdown moments, which is to be expected in a new environment, it was a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable holiday that we will never forget.

Weston loved playing in the snow in the front of our cottage

Nicholas was more happy watching the fire
His "bum" mattress behind him

And as for me......this was my favorite spot