Tuesday, December 31, 2013

11 special needs parent New Year's resolutions

I resolve to try harder to encourage my child's independence. It's hard when you're so used to feeding, dressing, bathing and doing all sorts of things for a kid with physical challenges, but if you give in to helping every time he refuses to do it himself, he'll take that much longer to learn (and that much longer to detach from you).

I resolve to quit putting myself last and pay more attention to me, which will make me a better mother and my roots less apparent, too.

I resolve to be less bothered by the stares. Must get a t-shirt that says, "I assume you're staring because he's so cute."

I also resolve to keep on educating and enlightening people about my child. Sometimes, people stare because they can't see the child behind the special needs.

I resolve to keep coaxing my child past his boundaries. Perhaps he's scared of new places and experiences, and the screechfests cause heart palpitations (mine), but if I don't persevere he'll never know how great that movie, that show or that restaurant can be. With headphones, of course.

I resolve to spend more time helping my child practice the sounds the speech therapist recommends.

I resolve to not feel guilty on the days when I don't help him practice the sounds the speech therapist recommends, or do any of this stuff, because I am a mother of the human variety and there is just so much I can do.

I resolve to try harder to help my child understand that the world doesn't revolve around him, even though he requires a lot of attention.

I resolve to give my child more chores, ones he can successfully complete. Way to teach responsibility, encourage confidence...and get more dusting done.

I resolve to keep my cool when I'm on the phone with the insurance company rep making yet another inquiry about lost claims. Well, mostly.

I resolve to think less about the future—as in, worrying about what it will bring for my child. I can only try my best day by day; I cannot control how he will turn out.

Monday, December 30, 2013

When Max wanted a new mommy

It was all my fault. As I tucked Max in and we exchanged good-night kisses, I said, jokingly, "Who's your favorite mommy?"

Max pointed to me. "New!" he said. 

Me, mystified: "You want a new mommy?"

Max: "YEAH!"

Me, dubiously: "Is that a joke?"

Max: "YEAH!"

Me, laughing: "That's not funny!"

Max: "New mommy! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

And so it began. We went back and forth a few times. 

"Do you get a new mommy at Target?" I asked.

"No!" said Max.

"Do you get a new mommy at Toys R Us?" I asked.

"No!" said Max, giggling.

"Do you get a new mommy at Stop 'n Shop?" I asked.

"NO!" said Max.

"Does this mean I have to get a new Max?" I asked.

"No! New mommy!" said Max.

After I turned out the lights and left his room, he kept saying "New mommy!" and I'd say "Not funny!" and he'd crack up. This went on for about 15 minutes.

I thought he'd finally nodded off. As I walked past his room to go downstairs, Max groggily raised his head from his pillow and said, softly, "New mommy!" 

I wasn't concerned. I mean, I am his main supplier of Cars 2 merchandise so I doubt he'd want to replace me. Besides, I liked seeing this side of his sense of humor.

The next day, Dave and Max were out running an errand and Dave called from the car, on  speakerphone. "Honey, Max wants to tell you something," Dave said. And in the background I heard, "New mommy!"

By that time, I was resigned to my fate. "So, do you want a new mommy soon?" I asked Max when he came home.

He looked at me and gave me a big kiss. "No new!" he said.


"Old mommy!" 

And so now, I am old mommy.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-up: Favorite posts of the year edition

It's another Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-Up, and this one's an end-of-year special. Share your favorite post of 2013! OK, because it's hard to choose just one, share two. And if it's really, really impossible to pick two, share three.

Note: A few people have had trouble posting using Internet Explorer. Try a different browser!

What to do

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: I Want To Go To Disneyland Right This Very Second

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Happy linking!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The true joys of special needs parenthood

is attending your child's school holiday concert and seeing him eagerly peeking in the door. You can still picture him standing there five years ago and sobbing. Now look at him. Comparing your child to other kids is never good, but comparing your child to his own track record can be one of the most enthralling things in this world. You know how far he has come. And it is making your heart do flip-flops.

is sitting with a group of parents who are just as excited and proud as you are of their kids. There is real comfort in being among people who totally get it, in real life and in cyberspace, too.

is the special smile your child gives you, only you.

 is watching your child sing a word, raise his hands, do a dance step. Every purposeful movement is its own marvel, because you know just how much effort went into it.

is being surprised by an accomplishment you've never seen before, like a tune plunked out on a keyboard.

is seeing how proud your child is of himself. You are always there to be his cheerleader, but it's all sorts of awesome to see him believe in his abilities.

is relishing a child's sweetness and cuteness, as any parent does—all the worries, stress and responsibilities temporarily forgotten.

is crying tears of happiness for a kid who keeps amazing you every single day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-up: 'Tis the season to share a post

It's the Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-Up, even more fun than holiday shopping!

The idea

Link to a favorite post of the week—yours or someone else's. Note: A few people have had trouble posting using Internet Explorer. Try a different browser!

What to do

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: I Want To Go To Disneyland Right This Very Second

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Happy linking!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas card from a wife to the husband she lost

Last month, Dave's childhood friend Larry died in a motorcycle accident. He left behind his wife, Debra, and twin two-year-old boys. Debra has been grieving openly on Facebook, movingly and memorably. I'm sharing her latest post, with her permission. It is a beautiful testament to love.

Dear Larry,

I was having a “good day” not too long ago. I suppose I was so busy with the kids, work, the house and the holiday, that I just hadn’t stopped long enough to think about us. I hadn’t stopped long enough to be sad. And I feel a little guilty about that.

I decided to run into Pathmark for some wrapping paper on my way home. It is not a store I am familiar with, so I had to look down each aisle as I walked through the store.

Produce, health and beauty, etc. No, no, no….

Then I looked down the greeting card aisle…surely there was wrapping paper there.

I turned the corner briskly, and immediately felt like I hit a brick wall. Bright red flags stuck out from the sections of cards so that customers could expeditiously find what they needed. And the flag that was staring back at me said: Merry Christmas Husband. For a second I thought: “Great! I’ll get the card now!” Then a second later…I remembered.

My eyes looked down instinctively: Merry Christmas Dad/Father.

I had to remind myself to breathe.

I didn’t need to buy these cards anymore, and it saddened me greatly. I enjoyed picking cards out for you. I always took the time to pick out just the right one….

Next to your bed, in a drawer, under some papers, I found many of the cards I have given you…You must have enjoyed reading them over and over…reading about how much I loved you and all the reasons why. I decided I was going to buy you a card. So I fumbled through the selection looking for the perfect one.

As I read the cards I began to cry in the aisle at Pathmark…not the dainty tears of someone that tries to hide it or hold it back, but the big tears flowing in streams…the silent sobbing that comes in waves between gasps for air…It made reading the cards next to impossible, but I think I found your card.

I hope you like it.

Merry Christmas to the Man of My Heart

You’re the kind of man I never thought I’d get to meet…
A man whose smiles and words can sweep a girl right off her feet…

Strong enough to lean on, warm enough to care,
True enough to count on when I need you to be there…

Sweet enough to make me feel I’m someone you admire…
A friend you love to laugh with, the woman you desire…

You’re everything, and then some, that I’d ever hoped you’d be-
Dream enough and real enough and man enough for me.

Then I would have written about how impressed and proud I was of you for making a career change that meant a better life for us. And how grateful I was to have a man that was never satisfied with himself. You always strived to be better. In everything you did, coaching, riding, being a Dad, being a husband, being a human being…you just worked tirelessly at always being better…changing and growing…I would write about how lucky I felt, and how much I loved you and our family.

I would put a couple of scratch-off lottery tickets in the envelope…and seal it with a kiss.

Merry Christmas.

Love always,

Your Debra

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We had entirely too much fun at the doctor's office

Max now happily dashes into the pediatrician's office, plays with toys in the waiting room and willingly does as the doc says. We've come a loooong way from his days of melting down the second we stepped foot in the parking lot. I've come a long way, too. I hated when we'd talk about developmental milestones. I loathed the part when the doctor would measure Max's head, and tell me how small his head circumference was.

Now that I'm past freaking out about those things, I wasn't dreading Max's annual check-up. I just never imagined it would be fun.

It started with the ear probe. Max genuinely likes having his ears looked at. So after the nurse did it and left, Max insisted that Dave and I check his ears, too. We've done the same in past years. This time around, though, Max insisted on examining us.

Years ago, we got Max a doctor's kit and he barely glanced at it. Sabrina, however, would regularly give Max exams. (When she wanted to be mean, she'd run and get the toy injector and threaten to give him shots.) Maybe it's time to get him another doctor play set, although at this point I think Max would like the real thing.

When the nurse walked in on Max looking at Dave with the ear probe, I thought, busted. Except all she said was, "So cute!"

Afterward, following proper medical procedure, Max removed the probe cover so he could shine the light into Dave's mouth. He thought we both looked good. Thankfully, he did not check my weight.

Last year, Doctor G. was a little concerned that Max wasn't growing fast enough. I reassured him that I had more than enough to worry about, and that we should wait and see. Within four months, Max had gained ten pounds. And now, he'd grown two inches (normal) and packed on another ten pounds. The doctor said, "Keep the weight gain in check" and so there will be mac 'n cheese cutbacks in his future.

Max had to get the meningitis vaccine. The shot wasn't a big deal—Max barely flinched. What was traumatic: When the doctor wrote a prescription for some blood work and didn't put Max's name all in capitals. (Max insists on that lately, and if he ever reads this blog I really will be busted.)

Before we left, the doctor wrote Max's name on another form, all in caps. Then at Max's request, I filled in the prescription for...

...a talking Lightning McQueen.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How not to pack for Disneyland

Do not let your Cars 2 obsessed child start packing three months before your trip to Disneyland.

Do not let him toss every single piece of Cars 2 clothing he owns into a Cars 2 tote bag, along with practically every Cars 2 gadget and toy. (Although it's fine to marvel, if has fine-motor-skill challenges, how well he's grasping and releasing the stuff he threw in there.)

Do not get him a new Lighting McQueen roller suitcase a few weeks before you go, or he will transfer everything from the tote bag into the suitcase and then proceed to wheel the suitcase around everywhere, including but not limited to public restroom stalls that can barely fit the two of you though he will insist the suitcase must come inside.

Do not creep into his room after he's asleep at night and attempt to extract some clothes so the suitcase will be lighter for him to wheel on your trip, because he will hear you and his eyes will fly open and he will instantly realize what is going on, despite the fact that it is pitch dark. And he will wail in despair and outrage and you will curse the day Pixar came around.

Do not argue with him about packing the Cars 2 pillowcase, it's futile.

Do not argue with him about packing the Cars 2 comforter, just keep changing the subject.

Do not argue with him about packing the Cars 2 stuffed Lightning McQueen, which is approximately the size of a chubby toddler. Just say that perhaps Daddy will put it in his suitcase.
Do not torture yourself by buying a Cars 2 Photo Finish Bath Set, hiding it in the top of your closet, and endlessly debating whether it's worth packing or not. Just pack it, you enabler, you.

Do not despair when you discover he has outgrown the Cars 2 bathing suit tops you got him last spring, just replace them with some other swimsuit top and be grateful the trunks still fit, more or less.

Do not let your other child Google "Disneyland store" and ultimately discover a 10-minute YouTube tour of the store so that she can start pestering you for stuff before she's even arrived.
Do not let your child leave his Lightning McQueen suitcase right by your front door so you trip over it every time you leave and/or crash into it when you walk in. 

Trust me on this.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Those little big-deal accomplishments


This weekend, Max discovered blinking. We were working on his weekly book report and I think he needed a break because all of a sudden, he started to blink rapidly at me with both eyes and crack up. I did, too. He scrunched up his nose each time he closed his eyes, and I could see the movement took concerted effort.

I often wonder how it feels to be in Max's body. He has spastic four quad cerebral palsy, which basically means all of his limbs have some stiffness, along with the muscles in his jaw. The term scared the crap out of me when I first heard it when Max was a baby. Still, we learned it was not a prognosis. Max was able to bicycle his legs, an alternate movement that's the basis of walking. The therapists and doctors said Max had a good chance of being able to walk and he did, independently, on his third birthday.

Max's hands and arms are more affected by the CP. Grasping objects remains challenging, though it's improved over the years. He can't easily raise his arms up and rarely supinates them (which means turning them so your palms are facing up).

I've read that people with CP can have painful cramps and I worry that Max gets them, although over the years he has gotten better at telling us when something hurts. I wonder if he feels it when his muscles are stiffer or whether it's his norm and he thinks nothing of it. A number of times I've asked, "Max, do your arms hurt?" when they seemed particularly stiff and he's said, "No!"
When Max realizes his body has the power to do something, it's a thrill for us all. I can still remember how psyched Dave and I were a few years ago when he figured out how to blow his nose into a tissue. We don't take any muscle movement for granted. The inchstones still feel like biggies. Although Max's ability to slide the Monsters University DVD into the player has become less of a cause for celebration because he can watch that movie again and again (and again) as we learned this snowy weekend.

Dave and I have sweet memories of Max mastering movements: Feeding himself, giving kisses, walking up the stairs, dancing, isolating his pointer finger to tap on the iPad. This is the year he started giving hugs. He can't wrap his arms around me so he holds them straight and smushes his head and body into mine. I love, love, love those hugs.

The blinking isn't going to get Max into college or anything, but the fact that he's feeling it—and aware of it—is amazing. Dave and I kept asking him to do it; we all got a kick out of it. Maybe one of these days Max will master the one-eyed blink and charm the lady therapists even more.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-Up: Ho, ho, ho

It's the Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-Up, a good reason to be jolly.

The idea

Link to a favorite post of the week—yours or someone else's. Note: A few people have had trouble posting using Internet Explorer. Try a different browser!

What to do

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: Did I Mention I Got A Cars 2 Talking Lightning McQueen?

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Happy linking!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to encourage a non-verbal child to communicate

"My son is 20 months old and though he lacks a diagnosis, has many symptoms of cerebral plasy—he lacks a suck/swallow reflex, has significant motor delays and will likely be non-verbal. There are questions about his hearing, but it's clear to us that he understands what we say and can follow direction (when he wants to). We are told his cognition is very good, which is really the only good news we've gotten. We're seeing a speech therapist who specializes in AAC but as I've learned, we have to do our own research to educate ourselves and make sure we're asking the right questions. So, that's why I'm emailing you. Can the Proloquo2Go work for kids who can't yet read? Have you used any other apps that you've found useful? I recognize that Max didn't have access to an iPad when he was a little one since they didn't exist, so I'm really curious what worked for you and how you helped Max express himself."—Shanna

When Max was two, we wanted to make sure he had a means of sharing his wants and needs. So we did the most basic thing: We snapped a bunch of photos of stuff in his life, then taped them onto pages and labeled them by section: People/Toys/Clothes/Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Places To Go. We assembled them all in a looseleaf binder. When we opened the page for him, he could basically gesture at what he wanted (he hadn't yet started to point or shake his head). It did the job.

Eventually, we moved onto the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). It's an alternative communication option involving illustrations and is more advanced, in that a child has to understand the concept of drawings representing reality. They feature words.

Pictures about feelings, for example, look like this:

We also put labels on different items around the house and we'd name them throughout the day, to help Max make connections between words and objects. 

Max had a Dynavox device for a couple of years, which he mostly used at school. We found it overly complicated to program, but the latest version looks easier to use and now there's an app that can be downloaded. And then, iPads came around along with The Proloquo2Go ($219.99), also based on illustrations with words. That was a big game-changer for Max, who took to the technology right away (he loves computer anything). A couple of years ago, Max appeared in a demonstration video made by the company: 

A child doesn't have to read to use the P2Go. You can create a super-simple page layout (say, just three images) and it can grow with a child (Max is now putting words together to form sentences). And you can upload photos, too. A child just needs the manual dexterity to tap the images; the P2Go actually encouraged Max to isolate his pointer finger. 

Of course, there's the X factor—whether or not your child takes to an app. Other options I've heard about: My First AAC app, which as you'd expect is very basic—but is also just $24.99.

There's also a great app called Speak for Yourself ($199.99). Dana Nieder of Uncommon Sense has written about the success her daughter Maya's had with it; there's a free version on iTunes, Speak For Yourself Lite, to try. Here's Dana's video review (read more about their communication journey here):

Parents, speech pathologists and AAC specialists: What tips do you have for encouraging communication in tots who aren't verbal? What are your experiences using speech apps with young children? Please, share.

PECS images: amp'ed

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How much do therapies cost for your child with special needs?

Max's longtime music therapist recently moved to another state, which was sad because the kids adored her. Over the years she's gotten Max to sing—even before he had a whole lot of words—and made up awesome songs involving his obsessions including purple, spaghetti and Lightning McQueen.

She recommended a music therapist who runs a business hiring other ones out. We talked. She had someone great in mind. The price: $125 for a half hour.


Right away, I mentioned that was high, noting that the previous therapist stayed an hour and charged $85. A couple days later, I got an email saying after careful consideration she'd reduced her price for all families to $95 for 30 minutes. Better, but I really wanted Max to have at least 45 minutes. In the end, we landed at $105 for 45 minutes. And the new therapist is awesome.

Therapists are amongst the most important people in Max's life, the ones who coax him to articulate sounds and move his hands and limbs in new ways. They are the experts who enable me to enable him. We live in the Northeast tri-state area, where things can get particularly expensive, especially home visits (a must, since Dave and I both work in offices).

Theoretically, the therapists' services are priceless. But in reality, multiple sessions a week adds up to a hefty chunk of change.

There's an occupational therapist in Max's life who is amazingly creative and full of helpful ideas. She also comes to us through a practice that hires out therapists, and we were raised from $155 to $175 an hour when a new owner took over. That is some serious sticker shock; I keep meaning to reach out to the owner, and ask if we can negotiate—but I would not want this therapist to get less money. She travels far to come to us. And like I said, she is phenomenal.

Here's a breakdown of what we pay for Max's therapists:

Music therapy: $105 for 45 minutes
Occupational therapist #1 : $175 for an hour
Occupational therapist #2: $85 for an hour
Speech therapist: $120 for 45 minutes
Art therapist (who comes on occasion): $100 for 1 hour

On average, that's $485 a week. 

Reimbursement from our insurance company can best be described as a crapshoot. Sometimes they  pay 80 percent of what they deem an "acceptable" rate for services, and sometimes they erratically don't pay—until I pester. Music and art therapy aren't covered.

Rates vary by type of therapy, region and sometimes a therapist's level of experience but still, it's good to know what other parents are paying. Care to share? If so, list where you live (either the state or part of the country), the type of therapy and cost.

Image: Flickr/kenteegardin

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The trouble with the too small sneakers

Dear Max,

Today you turn 11, and I'm not quite sure how that happened but somehow it snuck up on me. Your pants are getting shorter on you, the winter jacket that was humongous last year is barely zipping up past your belly and your beloved Lightning McQueen sneakers are dangerously close to not fitting.

I have been hoping hard that they'll last till the end of the month, when we're going to Disneyland and Cars Land. You've already packed your new Lightning McQueen suitcase with clothes and various Cars paraphernalia, and this weekend you toted it everywhere, gleefully pointing to it and your sneakers. Technically, you're not supposed wear them—they give your feet no support or stability whatsoever. You really should be in the foot braces you wear on weekdays. Especially since last summer you had to get casts on both feet because they were turning in, and I don't want to put you through that again.

So I let you wear your beloved Lightning McQueen sneaks just a couple days a week. You've been through four pairs. I dread the day when they get too small and I have to tell you that there are no bigger ones after these, size 13. And that, my love, is one major problem in this world.

Too many people don't get that an 11-year-old would still want to wear Lightning McQueen sneakers. They may not understand why you talk, move and act the way you do. So often, as I've learned these past years, people aren't able to see beyond their visions of what a kid should "be" like at different ages.

And to that I say: It's not you, Max. It's them.

Sometimes, I see adults and kids staring. When you were little, this used to upset me, but I've come to accept that people don't mean to be rude or mean. Chances are they don't have anyone with cerebral palsy or other special needs in their lives so they're not sure what to make of you, Max. They can't tell that in many ways, you are a kid like any other kid. They can't see the ability.

I understand why they don't get it. Until I had you, I'd never been close with anyone who had special needs. You have opened my mind to a broader spectrum of diversity. You have changed the mind-sets of people in our families, our neighborhood and others who have the pleasure of knowing you. We do not think of you as disabled. To us, you are Max.

You never notice the stares, and even if you did I suspect you wouldn't care because you are completely comfortable with who you are: a Lightning-McQueen-loving, mac-'n-cheese-and-ketchup-eating, purple-and-police-obsessed young man. An 11-year-old who still squeals with delight at bubbles, silly faces, a trip through the car wash, a new container of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie in the freezer, the sight of the year's first snow. Daddy calls them your "happy sounds" and they bring us both so much joy.

When I tucked you into bed last night, your final hours of being 10, tears came to my eyes. You looked at me worried and said, "Eye-ing." (You haven't yet mastered the letter "c," but I think you will.) I gave you a big hug and smiled. I wasn't thinking of that day 11 years ago when we found out you'd had a stroke. I was melancholy that my baby is getting bigger, the way moms get.

Max, I couldn't be any prouder of you. You're reading many more words. You are increasingly articulating what's on your mind. You have gotten braver about venturing to new places, including the movies and busy restaurants that would have once made you run right out the door. You have learned to open your arms and give hugs, especially when I present you with some Lightning McQueen piece of merchandise. (Your dad and I joked about buying you Disney stock as a birthday present.)

I love the determined look on your face when you type out words on the speech app on the iPad, how excited you are when you know the math homework answers, the way your voice sounds every time you say a new phrase (popular now: "let's go!"). I love that whenever you're eager to be somewhere, you ask "Now?" (When we told you months ago that we'd be visiting Disneyland in December, you said "Now?") I love your cheeks that remain deliciously pump, your beautiful head of hair, the brightness that shines in your eyes.

As your mom, your cheerleader and your publicist, I am here to spread word of your greatness. (One of these years, some kid is going to sue their parents for blogging about him, and I hope it's not you.) I yearn for people to see you, not just the CP. Sometimes, when I notice others looking, I'll prompt you, "Say hi! Tell them your name" to break the ice. If they start talking over you, as if you're not there, I'll say, "This is Max!" and introduce you.

They don't know, Max. They don't know...yet.

To me, you are perfect—well, as perfect as any child is. I could do without the screeching when you're upset and your new-found habit of stomping on the living room floor as you sit and watch TV, which makes the lights in the ceiling fixture upstairs tinkle. I could also do without your little sister's attitude, as you know because when she gets obnoxious I'll shoot you a "What is up with her?" look and you smile knowingly as if to say, "I'm not the only one with special needs in this family!"

Lately, I'm fascinated by your flourishing imagination. This weekend, at the supermarket, you walked over to a closed register lane, put your Cars suitcase on the conveyor belt and pretended to have me pay for it. Then you put my ten dollars in the suitcase.

My birthday wishes for you: Keep right on loving Lightning McQueen, playing with toy cars and trains, scribbling in purple crayon only, giggling at snowflakes and believing in Mickey Mouse, birthday parties and all that's magical. I'm sorry there won't be another pair of the Lightning McQueen sneakers like these but we'll find you a cool new kind, promise. You're not getting "too old" for any of this. You are who you are, and who you are is amazing. My birthday wish for the people you encounter in this world? To see that, too.



Monday, December 9, 2013

The best Cars 2 birthday party in the history of the world

Max squealed his head off when he got the Cars 2 Talking Lightning McQueen, which he has been asking for daily for the last year. And then he was speechless as Dave unwrapped it and loaded the batteries. He hasn't let it out of his sight since, except for his party.

Lightning McQueen central 

Inspecting the cake to make sure it reads, "Max is getting a talking Lightning McQueen." Check!

He scored a strike!

We served pizza and red juice, aka wine. OK, it was punch.

Lightning McQueen piñata (of course). After everyone took a turn, Max pulled the strings and chocolate kisses and mini bars fell out.  

Taste test

We forgot to play Pin the 95 on Lightning McQueen at the bowling alley, so we did it at home.

Way to end the day: first snow!

It was a Good Day. He's already got next year's party planned: at home, with his favorite clown.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-up: Just what you've been waiting for

It's the Special Needs Blogger Weekend Link-Up! Isn't that special? (Bonus points if you remember the Saturday Night Live character known for saying that.)

The idea

Link to a favorite post of the week—yours or someone else's. Note: A few people have had trouble posting using Internet Explorer. Try a different browser!

What to do

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: My Birthday Party Is Finally Here! Joy Oh Joy

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Happy linking!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Genius idea from Max: Regift to yourself


Max didn't have his fill of Cars 2 presents for Chanukah. So he decided he was going to regift a present...to himself. He walked over to the toy box where we keep a lot of Lightning McQueen stuff and pulled out a puzzle. Then he grabbed gift wrap from a present he'd already opened and attempted to re-wrap. Sabrina joined in. Last, he got Dave to give it to him. Voila!

I thought it was pretty smart, though Martha Stewart would surely have a heart attack if she saw this.

(Dave, sweetie, don't get any ideas; you still owe me a birthday present. xo)

Image: Flickr/Risager

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oh, the things we do to make our kids happy

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my birthday parties; I can picture a fancy black velvet dress I wore with pink tulle trim, my mom walking out of the kitchen with a cake filled with lit candles, the flash of my dad's camera as everyone sang Happy Birthday. So I make a big deal out of the kids' parties, too. For her last one, Sabrina had eight girls at the house for a sleepover, just them and me (Dave and Max escaped to my sister's house). I wasn't fazed.

Max's Lightning McQueen shebang happens on Sunday. (Perhaps you heard about it on Entertainment Tonight?) The stakes are high, cause he's been talking about it for close to a year now. So I am a little fazed.

Months ago, we picked up Cars 2 cups, napkins, plates (big and small), cone hats and tablecloths at Party City. Max has kept the bag of stuff next to his bed ever since, so in case someone breaks into our home in the middle of the night, they won't make off with the Cars 2 paper goods.

* We are going back to Party City for more this weekend, just in case.

* There's a full list of party goods hanging up in Max's room, which his music therapist compiled at his request, JUST in case anyone forgets. And evidently, there's a Cars 2 Party song to go along with the list, which she is taping for me sometime soon. There are also similar lists posted throughout the house. JUST in case.

I ordered a Cars 2 piñata online and hid it in the basement, along with some race-car flag wall decorations.

Cold Stone Creamery is tragically no longer making the Cars 2 design Max had on his last two birthday cakes, so I talked him into this edible cake topper I found on ebay:

Then I had the following phone conversation with the Cold Stone Creamery guy, per Max's instructions:

Me: "We want the cake to read 'Max is getting a talking Lightning McQueen.'"
Cold Stone guy: "Huh?!"
Me: "I know, it's a little unusual, but we want the cake to read 'Max is getting a talking Lightning McQueen.'"
Cold Stone guy: "OK." [sounds dubious]
Me: "That's all it should say! Please don't put Happy Birthday."
Cold Stone guy "OK." [sounds dubious]
Me: "Oh, and 'Max' should be all in capitals."
Cold Stone Guy: "OK." [sounds dubious]
Me: "And please use red icing, last year there was green icing and my son got upset."
Cold Stone guy: "Oh, that's because for some reason sometimes the red icing freezes up in the tube, so the person who made the last cake had to use another color."
Me: "PLEASE, make sure it has red icing."
Cold Stone guy: "OK." [sounds like he really wants to get off the phone]

There will be pizza served at the bowling alley. Max wants red juice; I'm not sure what kind he has in mind so we'll head to the supermarket this weekend to pick out some.

Meanwhile, Max got a Cars 2 balloon on Friday, and he keeps telling me it needs to be at the party. It's parked in the kitchen, by his chair, and I have been sending fervent wishes to the birthday gods to miraculously let the helium last until Sunday.

The buildup is so major, I am worried whether the party will live up to his expectations. Send good birthday karma my way.

If he starts talking about next year's party anytime afterward, I might run away to Tahiti.

And if you need a Cars 2 birthday party planner, Max is available for hire; you just have to pay him in Cars 2 merchandise.

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