Well, it's the end of Spring Break week and now the weekend is upon us! For staying in Vancouver, I still think we did a pretty good job of keeping the boys entertained while taking care of business too. Although there were some challenges along the way (see my husband John's guest blog from yesterday about the boys getting haircuts) and at times it was a little crowded with all four of us hanging out in the office, I chalk up the week as a success and hope that the boys will look back on their time off with fondness.
This week we accomplished seeing Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules in an uncrowded theater (Justin's movie choice), hair cuts for the boys, Baskin Robbins ice cream, bouncing on an AWESOME trampoline bouncing apparatus at the mall (Ryan's vacation choice), fun family walks and today we all got up early (relatively speaking) to go fishing at Klineline Pond in Vancouver!
Fishing??? Our family? Upon reflection, taking a family with significant sensory issues (smell, texture, touch) and emerging growth on the task of remaining patient on a fishing adventure seems either naive or pushing the envelope.
I have a spontaneous streak inside of me and want the boys to have the chance to experience new things. I don't want Autism or Asperger's to hold our family back and since the event we were going to was only going to be about 90 minutes or so, John and I both thought the risk / reward would be worth it and if not... well, we could always blog about it and find a gem to share.
What brought us to this event was an email about a month ago from one of our autism / special needs mailing lists informing us that there would be a Klineline Kids Fishing Event in Vancouver, Washington on Friday, April 8th and Saturday, April 9th. Over 1200 kids were expected to attend but on Friday, April 8th, the day would be open for free to any families who had kids with autism spectrum disorders or a wide variety of special needs. It sounded promising. Then we learned that the boys would each be given free fishing poles and a t-shirt for attending and there would be experienced volunteers on hand to assist. We checked the calendar, learned it was the last day of Spring Break, knew we would be in the area and thought why not register and give the boys a chance to try something new?
The last time that I remember going fishing was as a sophomore in high school. It was on a fishing boat. I spent 90% of the time being seasick. The time before that was also on a fishing boat but that time I was only nauseas for 50% of the time AND I did catch a couple fish.
The time before that, I was at Half Moon Bay fishing off the pier with a neighbor who really liked getting up early (3 a.m.) in the morning to go fishing. I like sleeping at 3 a.m. I also like sleeping at 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and as many bonus hours as I can get after that. However I needed a life experience and my neighbor was really nice and let me sleep over at her house the night before so being the adventuresome teenage gal I was, I tagged along. Afterwards I decided three things. 1) The pier really smells bad. 2) I don't like touching fish. 3) I don't like smelling like fish. Other than that, it was a fun day.
My initial enthusiasm for wanting to learn how to fish was when I won a fishing pole, cooler and some other fishing stuff in a radio contest when I was in middle school. I loved calling in to radio contests. Anyway, once I won the fishing stuff, I had to actually TRY fishing and so my friend and neighbor Vicky was more than happy to help me learn.
I never went fishing with my parents. It wasn't their thing. It was always with my neighbor, Vicky and although I gave it a shot with her both at the pier and on the Stagnaro's fishing boat in Santa Cruz, it really wasn't my thing either.
Sometimes the memory of experiences improve with time (like childbirth pain not being so bad...) but even I was a bit surprised by my renewed enthusiasm in wanting to take the boys fishing today. John... well, I knew he wouldn't have any sensory issues. He has been fishing before, camping before, all that jazz.
In fact, John wrote a blog about today's adventures and this seems to be a good time to blend his writing and mine again together. (I had John guest blog yesterday. Today I am just borrowing his take on how the day went. I will cut and paste his comments below and then I may comment in blue occasionally.)
I will finish up with my comments below!
A Whale of a Good Time - Fishing on Spring Break by John Krejcha
Hola and welcome back to my life and times!
I hope that you have enjoyed my blogs this month so far. I am not the real writer in the family; that would be Karen. I just love the way she writes and does a wonderful job in her blogs. (Thank you, sweetie but don't sell yourself short. You do a great job too!) I wrote a Blog on Wednesday about the adventures that Justin, Ryan and me had while getting a haircut.
My blog ended up to be a numbered “things to think about” blog that Karen really loved. Karen asked me last night if she could use that blog as a “guest Blog” at www.aspierations.blogspot.com and I was humbled. Of course I told her that it would be good as long as I got royalties. We both had a good laugh.
I really want to thank all of you who keep on coming back and reading my writing at Life and Times of John Krejcha. I invite you to follow along. I do blog a lot about Boy Scouts and Autism Awareness but it is not limited to that. I will do religion and Politics from time to time and during Survivor, once a week you will see a Survivor Blog. (We are huge Survivor fans here!) Thank you all for stopping in.
First I must stop and let you know I did see a UFO today. ????? For those of you do that do not believe, I have no doubts anymore about what I saw and experienced. I not only saw this UFO once today, I was getting kind of scared because I thought it was after me. For those family and friends that are worried, I am ok and I do not think I was taken to the mother ship or probed in any way. (I have so much I could insert here but I'll let it go...)
I will explain what I saw and unless you can convince me that it is something other than a UFO, I am a true believer. I first saw this strange object in the east when I woke up. I then saw it again right above me about 1 pm and YES, I saw it a third time in the late afternoon moving to the west. It was round in shape and it was emitting a yellowish to orange color. I do think I was exposed to something because each time I did see this UFO, I would get a warm feeling all over my body. I think it looked like something that I may have seen six or seven months ago but withthe rain that we have had, I don’t recall. I was going to call the TV station or Air Force but the warmness that came over my body prevented me from doing so. So, I now believe 100% in UFOs.
Today, we are still staying on the subject of Autism and Disabilities Awareness. The Department of Fish and Wildlife here in Vancouver has a Youth Fishing day at Klineline Pond on Saturday for all youth from 8 am – 4:00 pm. They are expecting a ton of kids and with each paid registration, the youth get a Fishing pole and t-shirt. We got a notice about a month ago from the ARC about a special event for youth with disabilities to fish for Free, get a Free Fishing pole and T-shirt the day before on Friday the 8th of April from 11 a.m. – 12 noon. We signed both boys up (since both have Autism) and they were excited and we thought it would be a good way to end Spring Break. Despite the fact that we had to set the alarm (still much better than getting up at 3 a.m. to fish!!!!), we were all excited to have a fun filled day of fishing (or at least one hour).
I had the boys and Mom up and out the door by 10:00 am (we were told to arrive by 10:30 am and it was on the other side of the city) and we were all excited. We arrived at 10:40 am and despite some mix-ups in signals as far as the sign-ins were concerned; the boys had their new poles (thank you, fishing sponsors!!) and were ready to go. This was the same place that Justin fished a few years back for a Scouts event and did not catch anything so we were hoping for a better outcome.
We found the person with the bait; she helped get it on the hook and we were off. I casted for Ryan and got far out and almost right away Ryan had hooked a fish. Something happened as we were bringing it in and it got away. After that, time passed.
We did have a bit of a set back with Justin’s pole right away and we had to get another one. Karen and I both helped the boys fish and do their casting and by the end Justin was casting very nicely and I was impressed. As time passed we saw fish being caught both big and small. We were patiently waiting for the fish to strike. (Justin and Ryan really did a great job here. Patience is an emerging skill we continually work on.)
About forty-five minutes in with only fifteen to go, the fish were hitting on the right and then the left and then back on the right. It was like our worm was not good enough or something. (Personally, I think the fish thought you smelled a little funny...)
The call for five minutes left came out and still fish were hitting all around. At this point I was getting concerned about what would happen if the boys did not each catch a fish, especially after being so patient. Then one of the helpers came out put a fresh worm on the hook and cast it in the “hot spot”. BAM a fish was on. Justin was reeling in his first fish. It was so exciting to see. It was very cool!
The helpers asked who else has not caught a fish and since Ryan had not, the nice man casted again. This guy was good! John called him the "Fish Whisperer" and everyone around laughed. He hooked a fish four or five times and each time the fish got away. Ryan went over to the side and yelled “hurry up and get caught”. Then BAM, a big one hit. I had to help him and we reeled him near the shore and everybody was amazed how big it was and it was really hard to bring it in. This is No Fish story; it was a BIG FISH. It was! They honestly needed a bigger net to catch it. Right as it was about to get in the net we lost it. I was impressed with how patient Ryan was. He was a tiny bit bummed but still a very good sport.
After about another ten minutes, Ryan had another good one on the hook and he reeled it in (with Dad’s help). He was so happy. Success! Winner, winner, trout dinner!
The Big one that got away!
Fish Caught – Mission completed!
We did get them measured and Justin’s was twelve inches and Ryan’s was eleven and a half. After that it was to the cleaning station to have them cleaned. This is where we had a real sensory issue. Ryan was like “ok, let’s get the fish cleaned” but Justin froze. He did not want to give up his fish and it was one of those times when he was having a hard time processing what was going on and the realization that the fish was dead. This was hard for him to process. A little before this, after the fish were caught, they were still alive and we watched the person helping us bang the head of the fish on the ground to kill it. It made me really sad seeing this right in front of me and I know Justin was uncomfortable as well.
After about ten minutes of trying different things (he had shut down), we finally found out that he did not want the fish cleaned because that would mean I would cook it. He did not want me to cook it so if it did not get cleaned then I could not cook it but he was unable to tell us. Mom had taken Justin to the side and talked and hugged him trying to see what was going on. Sometimes a big hug is way more effective than words. After that, I hugged him told him that it was okay if he didn't want to take his fish home but would it be ok, if I gave the fish to somebody else rather than throw it away. He was ok with that and we found a home for Justin’s Fish. I was so proud of him and he did a good thing. He did the right thing for him and I completely understood his sensitivity.
Fishing in retrospect can be overwhelming for kiddos on the Spectrum. There are a ton of sensory issues. There is the smell (Karen hated the smells), the texture of touching either the worm or the fish (Karen and Justin didn’t choose to take part in the touching aspect today - I did touch the fish, John, right before Ryan to show him it was okay) and the whole concept of killing another living thing (Karen and Justin did not like this either -- I understood it, I just didn't want to witness them banging the fish on the ground and gutting it.). I was so proud of my whole family today and it was yet another good one for my list. Number 16 – Be aware of sensory issues in the places that you go. Most people have some type of sensory issue but those on the spectrum it can be debilitating.
I did cook Ryan’s fish for dinner (first time I have ever cooked fish) with Hamburgers (for Mom, Dad and Ryan) and I did rice for Justin. Karen joked that it was a Survivor dinner (rice and fish). Justin did not try the fish but the rest of the family did. Karen did not say much (she felt bad for the fish and was sad - that is accurate... also, we had a 55 gallon aquarium right behind us in the living room and it just felt awkward...) but Ryan said it tasted good and I thought I did a good job.
It was a good ending to Spring Break and a nice way to spend some time with the family. We had a Whale of a Good Time.
-- end John's blogging portion
Looking back at the pictures, I think the boys will have good memories of their first fish catching experience. It was neat that the boys each got t-shirts and got to keep their fishing poles. There were a few dozen special needs kids there that we saw and the volunteers were all dedicated to helping the boys and girls and trying to let each experience the thrill of catching their first fish. I really appreciate the sponsors of the Klineline Kids Fishing Event and all the nice and patient volunteers.
So, that's my blog for today. I think that this week's Spring Break turned out to be a positive one! Please feel free to comment below if you'd like. Hope to see you again next time!
Thanks for stopping by my Friday blog... or should that be fish Fry day?
Best wishes for a great weekend!