Summer Recap, 1st Day of School, and Big Church

Still somewhat dumbfounded that we wrapped up summer and have now completed the first week of school. I mean, I certainly knew it was coming eventually. It was just a really good one. No counting down the days till school started back. Sure, there were days when I was dog tired SPENT. But we had a good rhythm. No running to and fro. Camden had ABA therapy Tues/Wed/Thurs, which gave Carson and I a chance to meet up with friends, run errands, or whatever. We had a somewhat of a plan for Mondays and Fridays, but it was a fun plan. Some of my favorite summer moments:

Our trip to Ocean City, MD and spending time with my hubby’s side of the family.Boys on BeachThe 3rd annual Swing Fore Camden golf tournament and fund-raiser.Swing Fore Camden CollageSleeping in was fun.
Sleeping BoysLOTS of time playing in the water. My guys fell in love with the lazy river this summer. =)
Tom M Pool CollageWatching the boys do things together that they enjoy: Gymboree, TopGolf, the beach, riding bikes, music, etc.
PA VacayCarson ditching his training wheels.
Carson bike rideCamden asking Carson to “play trains” or “race”.
Play TrainsWatching the boys do fireworks for the first time.
Gettysburg Fireworks 2015Camden’s new-found interest in kayaks.Camden Kayaks
Hearing Camden read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom from Candace R on Vimeo.
How excited Camden was about his Jesus is My Superhero shirt.
Jesus is my SuperheroCarson’s enthusiasm for basketball camp.
Carson and Coach RobCarson’s cuteness as he ran his first lemonade stand.
Especially Needed Garage SaleWith sweet thoughts of summer in my heart (and now on the blog since my memory is shot), we geared up for the beginning of a new school year. Camden is in 1st grade this year. He spends 80% of his day in a self-contained class with 8 other students that span from grades K-5.  The first week went pretty well. We are still working on his schedule and trying to tweak a few things to help Camden reach his potential. I walked him to class the first day. I typically buy several new fun toys for the classroom to help with transition.  We had fun opening his stash. Then I had to go. And going is hard. Here are some first day shots:
Back to School 2015Forgot to share in the last post, but my little guy joined us in “big church” for the first time. In Kindergarten, the kiddos go to Sunday School the first hour and then join their parents in the worship center for church. I was unsure how he would do since he has some sound sensitivity and worship music can sure be loud these days. We brought his noise cancelling head phones and he rocked it! Here he is looking so big. And showing his love and loyalty to Little Dog. =)
Carson 1st Time Big ChurchAnd here are the boys enjoying the new play set Brian put together. It has a climbing wall, a cargo net climber, a fire pole, a slide, and an area below where the boys can play with their trucks. My sweet friend, Narci, gave us their wooden play set. Narci is the friend that took our family pictures last year. I love them! And her.
Backyard Playset Pool
Hoping everyone is off to a great start this school year!! Come on back next week. I may even be on schedule telling you about our most recent camping trip. Maybe.

Blood, Chuck E Cheese, and Lots of Water

Let’s go back in time together (again). Onto the 3rd week of August.

Once again we ditched out standard Monday routine. Camden was scheduled for a blood draw. Ugh. We were prayed up and had done a few things to help with his anxiety. Once we were in the car and he realized the plans were off kilter, he had a few questions for me. =) I told him that we were going to see Daddy at the doctor, then In & Out Burger, and then the pool. I thought he was going to be way more uneasy when we pulled up to the doctor’s office. He uttered a few “no thank yous” and that was about it. His pediatrician has a table (that I can’t remember the name of, for the life of me) like we used to have back in the day. He digs it. When we did this visit a year ago, we waited over 2 hours and by the time Camden got back to hand over his blood, it wasn’t coming out. Brian said it was no bueno. =( This time Brian and Camden went back together while Carson and I waited. It felt like forever and I just kept hoping and praying that he wouldn’t go through all that poking and torture for nothing. Sure enough, they got the blood! Brian said it was the easiest blood draw to date. I was so relieved.
Naidoo's Waiting RoomAs promised, we grabbed lunch and then went to a new pool. We checked out the Heights Family Aquatic Center in Richardson. Great pool for our family! Small enough where I could see both kids at all times, but big enough for variety. Camden loves him a lazy river, so he was a happy camper. They have a “vortex” where the water spins around like a giant toilet bowel. There were a lot of big trees and covered areas at this pool. When we first arrived, I noticed a young adult on the spectrum with someone who appeared to be his attendant. I try not to think too far down the road, but it was tough to watch this guy and wonder about Camden’s future. Fleeting thoughts.  The majority of the time there was filled with laughter and shenanigans. When my heart gets heavy like that, I think about this quote I heard from Pastor Tommy Nelson. He says, “Don’t let what you CAN’T control destroy what you CAN enjoy.” There is MUCH to enjoy with my guys in this season of life!
Heights PoolWe left the pool at 3:30 and still needed to swing by Costco and Whole Foods. Typically, we are home by this time. With our morning doctor appointment, we hadn’t gotten our groceries. It had to be done. Camden has a mild thing with planets right now so he was jazzed to see about 100 globes at Costco. Carson was handy loading up all the goods in our cart. I thought they’d be wiped out and challenging during this little excursion, but they rocked it!
CostcoWe are usually sitting down for dinner at 5PM, but on this day we were just walking in to the grocery store. We survived. The boys did great. We flexed. Later that night when we were playing in the backyard, Camden was watering the tomato plants. He can get a little wild and crazy with the sprayer. I love Carson’s face in this shot:
Camden WateringCarson made sure to return the favor when it was his turn:
Carson WateringMy dear friend and mentor, Barb, came in to town on Tuesday for lunch. We met at Cracker Barrel. As we were sitting in our van waiting, I could see Chuck E Cheese just across the way. Carson sees Chuck on commercials and has mentioned that he’d like to go. Selfishly, I was thinking, “Hey, if we go to Chuck’s, Barb and I will have more time to chat.” Not so much. Sub-par pizza, lots of noise, and since Carson had never been to an arcade, we had to show him the ropes. Barb is a great sport and really good with kiddos, so we had fun. I may have had a mild heart attack when Carson played ski ball. Oh my word. Anywho, Carson was thrilled to count up his tickets and trade them in. Barb and I had some time to chat while Carson played one of her games on the iPad. So good to have that time together! And since Carson didn’t like the pizza, I don’t have to worry about going back to Chuck’s. Win! Win!
Chuck'sCamden only had a half-day of ABA on Tuesday. When we picked him up, the weather was super pleasant…like 85 degrees, over cast, and breezy…in Texas…in AUGUST! We headed to Hope Park (also called Frisco Commons). This park can typically get packed, but on this day it was way chill. Hope Park is an all abilities park designed for all types of kiddos. There is lots of sensory stuff throughout the park. Camden has been talking a lot lately about “music school” (he was born into the wrong family for music school) and it was cute to see him playing with all the musical instruments. Lots of fun.
Hope ParkWe left the play area to head to the pond. The boys always like to go over there to throw rocks and check out all the turtles. Always nice to stop at the Veterans Memorial on the way to the pond and think about all the brave men and women who have fought for our country’s freedoms.
Veterans MemorialThen there was the rock throwing and ooohhhing and aaahhhing over the turtles.
Rock ThrowingAfter the pond we headed to the splash pad. The boys were in their shorts and I didn’t think they’d really get wet, but they did. They were so cute and tons of fun to watch.
Splash PadI shared how the weather was uncharacteristically mild on Wed. Well…an area church had rented out Hawaiian Falls on Wednesday evening for special needs families. We had pre-purchased our tickets for $5 each. There was talk of rain coming. We decided to go ahead and give it a try. The place was practically empty. It was fun and super sweet of the church to do this. It would have been REALLY wonderful if the weather was warmer. We were SO cold by the time we finally bailed. We stayed two hours and as we were heading out, it started to rain pretty hard. I only got one picture that evening.
AUG Hawaiian FallsEvery now and then I just can’t contain myself. I have to take a picture of my boys sleeping. So peaceful. So sweet. And these days are flying boy. On this particular morning, Camden was definitely not on his side. =)
Sleeping BoysThursday evening was Open House at Camden’s school. Lots of kids. Lots of noise. Chaos. School. Not so autism friendly. I debated on whether or not to have Camden go. On one hand, it might help with the back-to-school transition to let him know he’s switching from his summer ABA center to his school. On the other hand, we’re pretty sure he totally understands when we tell him what’s happening. It’s stressful to him to go to school when it’s not really time for school. So I decided to go on my own. I took his school supplies and it was nice to chat with his team and the other families.

Camden was up before 4AM on Friday, which is totally not normal for him anymore. We typically enjoy a water activity on Friday, and this was our last Friday before back-to-school, but I was so sluggish. We watched movies and chilled all day. That evening, I visited a dear friend up at Our Children’s House Baylor. Her daughter is going through their intensive feeding therapy program. Feeding issues are super common in autism, so it’s something I’m very aware of. It was really interesting to hear about their experience with feeding therapy. I loved the time with my good friend, Michelle, and her daughter. They have a large family, so it was special to spend time with just the two of them.

Our church had their “launch” on Saturday to kick-start all the new fall programs. There were food trucks, classic cars, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, etc. We had to check it out.FBC Launch
Oh, Summer. You’ve been so very good to us. It’s been the best yet!

Lemonade Stand, 9th Anniversary, and a Trip to the Mall

Someone like me with a VERY poor memory should not get behind on blog posts. Seriously, I am Dory from Finding Nemo. Scary. I am catching up on the last week of July.

We did our normal Monday routine: Gymboree, Top Golf, lunch, grocery shopping. Things were going oh-so-lovely till I locked my keys in the van in the Whole Foods parking lot. My husband was super nice to come and rescue me, even though it was crazy hot and he has no A/C in his truck. I couldn’t even do my shopping while we waited because I also locked my grocery list in the car. Since I’m Dory, there is no way I was going to remember my list. We feasted on the complimentary kids’ fruit and found a shady spot while we waited for Brian. I hate it when I do stuff like that!
WFsBrian and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on July 29. Surely we did something amazing and very romantic.
9 anniversary
On Thursday, we met up with some sweet friends at the mall. My good friend, Leslie, is a fellow autism mama. She has a son that’s Camden’s age. Her daughter is a year younger than Carson, and they are pals. It’s so nice to have a great friend in a similar situation! Here’s a glimpse of their cuteness:CarsonPeytonMall
We switched up our routine a bit on Friday. Typically, the boys chill Friday morning while I do laundry. Then we do an early lunch, and head out for a water activity. I decided that I wanted to get Camden’s 7-year-old pictures made. Since waiting can be hard for Camden, I made sure to be first on the schedule with Picture People. Camden was a bit uneasy on the way to the mall. He hadn’t been to a mall in probably three years. The photographer was super sweet and patient. She tried to get Camden to do various poses, but it was tricky. All we needed was one pretty good picture. We actually got two. Woohoo!!
Camden 7YOAfter wrapping up the photos, Carson showed Camden the ropes at the mall. The quality of this picture is no bueno, but it’s super exciting to me! Camden struggles with gravitational insecurity where he doesn’t like the feeling of being unsteady like on an elevator, escalator or airplane. After his pictures, he saw the escalator and asked to go up it. I was totally surprised that he was requesting it completely on his own. We got to the escalator and he wanted me to hold him. I typically will pick him up in stressful situations, such as when we are at the airport and he’s already struggling with anxiety. But in this instance he was requesting so I told him if we were going on the escalator, he’d have to stand on his own. And he did!! You can see by the picture that he looks a little apprehensive, but we went up and down several times. Hurrah! Proud of that kid!
Camden EscalatorMy boys aren’t typically community play area kids. The crowds and the noise are a bit much. Never crossed my mind that Camden would want to check out the play area, but he did. He digs trains, so enjoyed following the tracks around.
Stonebriar Play AreaWe stopped at Build-A-Bear to wash some pets. Pretend play is a struggle, so I had to smile seeing Camden bathe the stuffed dog. Next stop was the Lego store…little brother’s fave.
Build A Bear and Lego StoreWe did a few laps on the carousel.
Stonebriar CarouselI was surprised by how much Camden enjoyed the mall. (*Hard not to feel like I’m 13, when I continue to refer to “the mall”.) Glad it was a good experience. After that we headed to meet up with my good friend and fellow autism mama, Lea, and her son. I typically take the boys to a community pool on Fridays, but since I wasn’t sure how the mall and picture-taking would go, I kept things simple. Lea has a neighborhood pool and she was super sweet to let us swim with them. We had a blast! Apparently, most of my pictures were horrible, but here’s one of Camden doing what he loves to do in the pool…float.
Camden FloatsThere’s a local non-profit organization called Especially Needed that puts on community events for special needs families. They do fall carnivals, pictures with Santa, Easter egg hunts, and such. They did a garage sale fundraiser in a church’s parking lot. We love and appreciate what Especially Needed does for families, and it gave us a chance to sell some of our Counting on Hope tees and some stuff we no longer needed. Carson has talked often about wanting to set up a lemonade stand, so I asked if he’d want to come along. He was pumped! I explained that we were going to wake up early, that it was going to be really hot, and that we were going to be there for six hours. He still insisted on coming. We got his lemonade all ready and brought his little cash register, and let me tell you something…the boy was so stinkin’ cute!!! My adorable friend and fellow autism mom, Heather, shared a spot with us. Made it even more fun to have a sweet friend, a cute kid, and Little Dog to pass the time. Carson purchased two monster trucks with his earnings.
Especially Needed Garage SaleThat evening, Brian helped the boys put together their Home Depot chalkboard project. They were both pretty excited about it.
Home Depot ChalkboardSo fun to remember these days and to goosh over their cuteness. And to be mindful of how far we’ve come.

Camden Turns 7, Frisco Aquatic Center, and My Thoughts on Bonham State Park

We enjoyed a typical summer Monday. Just three more of these till school starts back. Could not be more thankful for the summer we’ve had thus far.
Monday Week 7 CollageI was happy to get a picture of my boys with Mr. Bruce after we ate lunch. Up until this year, Carson referred to In & Out Burger as “Mr. Bruce’s.” He genuinely thought that was the restaurant’s name. Mr. Bruce is a very kind and hard-working man. He has been calling us (and many of his customers) by name for years. Such a nice guy!Mr. Bruce'sCamden had ABA therapy Tues/Wed/Thurs. He’s continuing to make such great progress. Most of his IEP goals are mastered and we’ve added several new ones. Carson had a dental appointment on Tuesday. Amazes me how much he enjoys going to the dentist. Our dentist has four boys of his own. Here’s Carson during his appointment.
Carson DentistOur sweet Camden turned seven on Wednesday. He is such a gift! Here are a few pictures from this year.
Camden Turns 7We went to Texas Roadhouse for his birthday dinner. He digs their prime rib. We opened a few gifts at home. He shows a good amount of interest in his little brother’s scooter, so I’ve been researching scooters for him. Went with a three-wheeled one, but it’s still a bit tricky since you steer it with your whole body instead of just turning the front wheels. We’ll see how it goes. Camden 7YO CollageOn Friday afternoon, Camden and I ventured off to the Frisco Aquatic Center and water park. We typically do a water activity on Fridays, and I was glad I only had one kiddo with me on this occasion. The place was pretty packed and it’s impossible (at least it would be for me) to keep an eye on multiple kids. Camden loves a lazy river, which is what we did for about three hours. He played in the indoor water playground for about 30 minutes. We had a great time and I was happy to have the one-on-one time with him to play in the water and just soak in his preciousness.
Frisco Aquatic CollageWe left the Frisco Aquatic Center and went to Mardel’s close by. Camden has shown great interest in one of Carson’s t-shirts. It says “Jesus is my Superhero” on the front. When I saw a similar tee at Mardel’s recently, I ordered one in Camden’s size. We went to customer service to pick it up, and I showed it to Camden. He read it and then ran off laughing and said, “I’m so happy!” To my knowledge, that is the only time I recall him spontaneously saying anything about emotions. It was so sweet!!
Jesus is my SuperheroCamden has been loving the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom lately. I took this video of him reading it. So so cute! I’ve watched it no fewer than fifty times. Makes me smile and chuckle. =) Our favorite part is at 1:19. It takes almost 3 minutes to watch the entire clip. He’s in no rush. Plenty of breaks for tickle requests and Mommy’s hair.

We celebrated Camden’s birthday when we were in PA, and we went out to dinner and opened gifts on his actual birthday. On Saturday, my brother and sister-in-law and our twin nephews met us at Bonham State Park for more Camden celebration. We had considered camping at Bonham before so I’ll share some pics and my thoughts in case you are interested in camping (or just visiting) there as well. When we drove into the park and saw the lake, we assumed that there had to be more to it. We pulled out the map and drove around the entire park. There are biking and hiking trails that we didn’t explore. We essentially just looked at the campsites and the lake. We have friends who love this park. It’s nice that it’s close to us (under and hour), and due to the flooding we had in May, it is one of the few local state parks whose sandy beach area is open right now. That was nice. But in our opinion, the camp sites were extremely close together, the sandy beach was lacking (perhaps due to all the recent flooding?), and the lake pretty underwhelming. I sound like a jerk. Goodness. Perhaps it’s just in comparison to the other parks we’ve visited (Cooper Lake, Eisenhower, and Ray Roberts). Here’s a panoramic of the lake. And FYI, this panoramic shows the entire lake. You can see the camping area to the left by the trees. They also have a different area for group camping. The dock to the right is where you can fish and rent paddle boats. You can see the wood structure I am standing under. There was lots of shade and plenty of tables under the pavilion. More good points. =)
Bonham panoramicTo give you and idea of what the sandy beach looked like at the time of our visit, here’s a picture of Carson playing in the mud. The area probably does look different when we haven’t had flooding. When we visited, there just wasn’t much beachy area. It was nice that there was plenty of shallow water for the boys to play in. Carson in the mudHere’s Camden sitting in the pavilion. It’s big.
Bonham PavillionThis shot shows you the size of the swimming area. There were people swimming in the middle of the lake. There were no buoys marking it off, so I guess swimming was allowed anywhere. Perhaps.
Bonham swim areaWe swam for about an hour, and then decided to give the paddle boats a whirl. Camden had been requesting to ride in them, so we thought it would be a genius idea to pay $11 to ride in a paddle boat in the middle of the afternoon in triple digits for an hour. Or maybe we didn’t. But we did it any way. They had life jackets that we borrowed.
Bonham Boat DockI told Brian that we should take a family picture before he got hot and tired and grouchy. =) So we did. I spent the entire time pouring water over everyone and the boat to keep us from passing out. Good news…no one passed out.
Family Paddle BoatThe boys enjoyed floating and playing around in the water. Though a lot of the water was shallow, I did have Carson wear his floaties while he was playing catch in the deeper area.

Bonham Swimming

No matter what I thought of the lake, my little guys had a great time and they weren’t ready to leave. That’s always a good sign to me. Three hours was enough though.  We packed up and all headed to Whitewright for bbq. Nom nom.

Basketball Camp, Lazy River, Train Tour, and our 1st Movie

Our typical Monday plan was a bit different as Carson had basketball camp at church. I later found out that our normal Monday morning destination was closed due to A/C problems. Super relieved that we didn’t show up. Those type of situations can cause great distress for Camden…when there is a change of plans. Anywho…YAY that it wasn’t even an issue.

I was a bit surprised that Carson was so gung-ho about basketball camp. He’s not a huge fan of loud noises and chaos (even organized chaos), but he did great! I think it helped that he was eager to learn more about basketball, he enjoyed the teen helpers at the camp, and he thinks highly of our Minister of Sports at church.
Carson Basketball CampCarson and Coach Rob
Camden and I spent time with our Children’s Minister (and my sweet friend) while Carson was ballin’ it up. We met up in the special needs room so Camden could play and we could chat. Love that there is a train table, bubble machine, trampoline, parachute, iPads, and all sorts of fun things in there for my boy!
Camden BubblesWe try to do a fun water activity on Friday. This particular Friday we met some of our good friends at the Tom Muehlenbeck Pool in Plano. We’d already been to this pool once this summer, but we found something new that my guys (especially Camden) LOVED. They have a lazy river in their indoor pool. Here’s a short clip of the indoor lazy river:

Lazy River at the Tom M Pool from Candace R on Vimeo.

What fun! So appreciated having a friend there to tag-team watching the kiddos and so that Carson had some sweet friends to play with.
Boys in front of Tom PoolTom M Pool CollageOn Saturday we attended a free event put on by Hunter’s Autism Specials. This family coordinates free or low-cost activities and events for families with children on the autism spectrum. We’ve seen the Museum of the American Railroad coming together in Frisco, and I’ve certainly been considering taking the boys since Camden loves trains. Every time we drive by there is a sign that reads “Big Trains Coming Soon” so we didn’t want to bring Camden until we knew he could see some trains. I appreciate that Hunter’s Autism Specials does these events as it’s comforting being with other families going through similar situations. There’s no stress over wondering what other people think. And you can’t beat the price! Sometimes we are hesitant to try new things because we think, “What if we spend the money, he hates it, and then we leave 5 minutes into the event?” When I signed us up for this event, I knew it was in the afternoon. We just were not prepared for how HOT it was. OH MY! First of all, it was just crazy hot outside. The first train we entered was an old sleeper car. It was really neat! But there was no A/C. In fact, there was warm air blowing. My husband lasted about 3 minutes till he had to bolt. Even though it was crazy hot, I am still glad we were able to go and check it out. A BIG “thank you” to Hunter’s Autism Specials for organizing this event and to the Museum of the American Railroad for welcoming us!
Frisco Train Museum PicWe came home from the train museum and were thrilled that some of our besties (and their crew) were spending the night with us!! They had just finished up a week of doctor visits at the Cleveland Clinic. I’m sure it would’ve been way more relaxing at that point to head home to their own beds, but it meant the world to us to have the time with them! I made brisket and such for dinner. We pigged out and just spent time enjoying each other and catching up. So good for my soul! They went to church and lunch with us the next morning and then headed back home. Here’s a picture of Paula and I. We’ve been dear friends since high school. She’s crazy amazing!
Me and PaulaThe pantry pana
My hubby is typically pretty set on how he spends the Sabbath. We go to church, eat lunch, and then relax and lay low at home. Well…our local TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) chapter had a family event on Sunday night that I wanted us to attend. TACA organized an event with Studio Movie Grill for our families to see the Despicable Me 3. For $5 we were able to see the movie and eat dinner. Camden was pretty uneasy on the way to the theater. He doesn’t love the car to begin with, so combined with the fact that he wondered what in the world we were doing going out on a Sunday evening, had him a bit perturbed. This was Camden’s first time at a movie theater. My little guy went to the theater once (unsuccessfully) and another time, successfully. Neither of my guys appreciate insanely loud noises, like are often found in movie theaters. The sound was lowered, but Camden still needed noise-cancelling headphones. SO thankful a friend there had an extra pair that we were able to use! Camden plays the Minion Rush app, so he’s familiar with the characters. We wouldn’t have tried a movie theater experience yet if it weren’t for TACA. They made it affordable for families, and just like the train museum experience, it was a HUGE relief to be with other families in the same boat. No one stressed that kids were walking around or making noise. I wasn’t sure how Camden would do. Certainly didn’t anticipate him sitting through the entire movie, but HE DID!! He probably asked a hand-full of times, “almost finished?” or “Camden’s house?” The quality of my pictures is horrendous, but it gives you an idea of the experience. A BIG OLE “THANK YOU” to TACA Texas for sponsoring this event and to Studio Movie Grill for giving us the opportunity!!! It was fun, and an important reminder for me to never ever underestimate my child.TACA Movie Event
I love you, summer!!!