Small Battle – Small Victory

From my October/Halloween 2015 Archives and as I discovered this week…. a small victory:

Choosing my battles……..

We went away this weekend to NYC and Sleepy Hollow. We try to take a Halloween Weekend every year to somewhere either “Halloweenish”, Spooky, Historical or where costumes are involved. We will be going to a ComicCon the weekend after Halloween (that counts) so we decided to do just a quick overnight to Sleepy Hollow this weekend. Our usual Halloween destination is Salem MA, but we’ve switched it up the past couple of years mainly due to the fact that Doug is <insert colorful metaphors>  of going to Salem – I, on the other hand, never tire of it.

We had already done a weekend in Sleepy Hollow a couple of years back. We did just about everything there was to do with the exception of the BLAZE. I did not know that in order to do anything in Sleepy Hollow in October, tickets must be purchased on-line ahead of time. Fortunately, once I discovered this and by the skin if my teeth, I was able to get tickets for everything else.

This year we thought ahead and got tickets for the BLAZE early. Since that was all we were going to do in Sleepy Hollow, we decided to first spend the day in New York City (DC’s favorite place), check into our room in Sleepy Hollow and go to the BLAZE at 9:30 PM (the only time available when we purchased the tickets).

I had not been feeling well all week and would have opted to skip the whole thing and stay home on the couch, but DC had already been told about the trip and he already added it to the calendar so that meant it was engraved in stone.

Knowing his propensity to over-pack DVD’s for the sole purpose of stacking them next to him while he watches YouTube on his computer, and knowing full well there would be a visit to a bookstore at some point during the trip, I told him that he could only bring 5 DVD’s and 2 books. I said it more than once. I just didn’t want to have to keep track of a bunch of unnecessary stuff and try to carry a bunch of unnecessary stuff. I just wanted to pack light and get this over with. (I did forget my jacket in the room, so I really couldn’t manage to keep track of the necessary stuff – turns out, they don’t ship forgotten things. We have to go back and get it).

5 DVD’s and 2 books.

“Okay Mom!”

He went about packing his laptop, his DVD’s, his books, and pens to edit said books.

“DC, how many DVD’s did you pack?”

“5 DVD’s – 2 books”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I promise”

When I went to grab the charger for his phone, I found that he already packed that as well. I found THAT to be a bit impressive. He is usually only concerned with his books, DVD’s and laptop.

I told him how proud I was that he remembered his charger by himself. He took that compliment and added that  “I am proud of the 5 DVD’s and 2 books” – he was just pointing out the fact that I forgot to tell him in that sentence that I was proud that he followed the rules.

We spent the day in New York City. We visited all of his favorite places and headed out for Sleepy Hollow about 3 pm. All I wanted to do was sleep for a little while before dinner and the Blaze. In the room I was just telling Doug what a great job DC did packing only what I told him to and remembering his charger, when I noticed a good 15 to 20 DVD’s sitting next to his laptop. Now, this has been an issue before and the celebration over him being sneaky and figuring out that he could just hide them is long over with. I do have to give him props for figuring out if he packed his own charger there would be no reason for me to go into his backpack (a new level of sneakiness), but like Tonya in ‘All the …..small things’, I have to be the mother, even though I knew full well what would be in store for me after reprimanding him.

As soon as he realized that I noticed just how many DVD’s he had with him, it started…..

“I am sorry Mom. I will never lie again!”

“I am so sorry, Mother!”

DC only gets to use his laptop and DVDs on the weekends. That has been the rule for many years. Losing his computer privileges is the only thing that EVER makes any kind of impression on him.

“DC, you lied to me again. I told you the last time you lied to me that you only had one more chance before your lost your computer for the weekend. This was your last chance, so no computer for the weekend.”

(Seriously, as punishments go, this is really not much of one. It was all ready Saturday night. We would be going out soon and we were leaving the hotel the next morning, but this did not matter to him).

Now, 2 inches from my face……

“I promise to never tell a lie again”

“Mom, I’m sorry!” – those of you that know DC, you know that:

He is sorry for absolutely everything! Partially he believes “I’m sorry” will get him out of anything.  Like a typical man, he thinks that saying “I’m sorry” even if he doesn’t know what he’s sorry about will get him out of anything or at least get me to stop talking. If he really wants to bring it home, he goes to: “I’m ‘ter-bly’  sorry” or “I am soooooo sorry”. He’ll even throw in a “Can you ever forgive me?” (movie line), if he thinks it’s necessary.

He says he’s sorry, WHILE he’s doing something he shouldn’t, and will continue right on doing whatever it is because he’s covered, he already said he was sorry. Or he’ll say he’s sorry when he’s about to do something he knows he’s not supposed to do. He’s covered, he said he was sorry!

I heard this and variations of this throughout the evening all recited 2 inches from my face. I won’t go into the amount of times I explained to him that just because he promises not to do it again does not get him out of the punishment he was already given. I understood that he was sorry and I was proud of him for being sorry…… believe me, it was covered and covered.

*****

We did enjoy the Blaze –

Various 285

but every few minutes he reverted back into his “I’m sorry” campaign.

Back in the room, he changed his tactic.

“Mom, thank you for much for the trip”

“Mom, thank you so much for the dolls”

“Mom, you are my queen.”

“I love you Mademoiselle”

“I am being so good!”

I did explain to him as I always do that I never would think or say that he was “bad” – he is not bad; he just did something wrong – on purpose.

We went to sleep (remember, I am still not feeling well). 4 or 5 times during the night, I woke up to find this boy 3 inches from my face telling me that he has “Good Behavior”  and “I promise never to lie again”

There are times when DC really does not understand what he has done wrong and I will speak with him and try to get him to understand – this was not one of those times. He knew exactly what he was doing while he was doing it. I can not just let everything go, even though at this point I really wanted to get some sleep. If I gave in now he’d know that I would give in the next time.

Morning came.

He hadn’t packed any paper to bring on the trip so he resorted to writing me apology notes on the inside of his books.

Various 332

As many times as he brought it up, there was an explanation for him. I love him, I always love him. I was not happy with the choice that he made to lie and sneak but I am not angry at him. If he does not do it again he would not lose his computer again.

We left the hotel, looked around Sleepy Hollow a bit, had lunch and headed home.

Various 310Various 304

Various 308

Monday was a holiday but the weekend was over, which meant his punishment was over. It also meant that he could not use his computer anyway because the weekend was over. He double checked the end of punishment fact with me and was extremely happy to hear that he was correct in his assumption.  We were home all day on Monday and he was quite happy not to use his computer, because Monday is not “the weekend”. But he knew it was ON for the following Friday and I never heard another word about it.

(He understands the word “punishment” from Full House. I originally never used that word – that was all him)

Update October 2016:

We just returned from a non-Halloween themed trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I am happy to report that DC, with out being reminded more than once, did stick to the “5 DVD” rule.

And as a Mom who just loves Halloween, I was very proud of his choices:

14657309_1296328000409717_1384796486134829818_n

That’s my boy!

********************

#TravelingWithDC – New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

You are now entering #Haven – A place to leave your ‘troubles’ behind

Advertisements

Choosing my battles……..

We went away this weekend to NYC and Sleepy Hollow. We try to take a Halloween Weekend every year to somewhere either “Halloweenish”, Spooky, Historical or where costumes are involved. We will be going to a ComicCon the weekend after Halloween (that counts) so we decided to do just a quick overnight to Sleepy Hollow this weekend. Our usual Halloween destination is Salem MA, but we’ve switched it up the past couple of years mainly due to the fact that Doug is <insert colorful metaphors>  of going to Salem – I, on the other hand, never tire of it.

We had already done a weekend in Sleepy Hollow a couple of years back. We did just about everything there was to do with the exception of the BLAZE. I did not know that in order to do anything in Sleepy Hollow in October, tickets must be purchased on-line ahead of time. Fortunately, once I discovered this and by the skin if my teeth, I was able to get tickets for everything else.

This year we thought ahead and got tickets for the BLAZE early. Since that was all we were going to do in Sleepy Hollow, we decided to first spend the day in New York City (DC’s favorite place), check into our room in Sleepy Hollow and go to the BLAZE at 9:30 PM (the only time available when we purchased the tickets).

I had not been feeling well all week and would have opted to skip the whole thing and stay home on the couch, but DC had already been told about the trip and he already added it to the calendar so that meant it was engraved in stone.

Knowing his propensity to over-pack DVD’s for the sole purpose of stacking them next to him while he watches YouTube on his computer, and knowing full well there would be a visit to a bookstore at some point during the trip, I told him that he could only bring 5 DVD’s and 2 books. I said it more than once. I just didn’t want to have to keep track of a bunch of unnecessary stuff and try to carry a bunch of unnecessary stuff. I just wanted to pack light and get this over with. (I did forget my jacket in the room, so I really couldn’t manage to keep track of the necessary stuff – turns out, they don’t ship forgotten things. We have to go back and get it).

5 DVD’s and 2 books.

“Okay Mom!”

He went about packing his laptop, his DVD’s, his books, and pens to edit said books.

“DC, how many DVD’s did you pack?”

“5 DVD’s – 2 books”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I promise”

When I went to grab the charger for his phone, I found that he already packed that as well. I found THAT to be a bit impressive. He is usually only concerned with his books, DVD’s and laptop.

I told him how proud I was that he remembered his charger by himself. He took that compliment and added that  “I am proud of the 5 DVD’s and 2 books” – he was just pointing out the fact that I forgot to tell him in that sentence that I was proud that he followed the rules.

We spent the day in New York City. We visited all of his favorite places and headed out for Sleepy Hollow about 3 pm. All I wanted to do was sleep for a little while before dinner and the Blaze. In the room I was just telling Doug what a great job DC did packing only what I told him to and remembering his charger, when I noticed a good 15 to 20 DVD’s sitting next to his laptop. Now, this has been an issue before and the celebration over him being sneaky and figuring out that he could just hide them is long over with. I do have to give him props for figuring out if he packed his own charger there would be no reason for me to go into his backpack (a new level of sneakiness), but like Tonya in ‘All the …..small things’, I have to be the mother, even though I knew full well what would be in store for me after reprimanding him.

As soon as he realized that I noticed just how many DVD’s he had with him, it started…..

“I am sorry Mom. I will never lie again!”

“I am so sorry, Mother!”

DC only gets to use his laptop and DVDs on the weekends. That has been the rule for many years. Losing his computer privileges is the only thing that EVER makes any kind of impression on him.

“DC, you lied to me again. I told you the last time you lied to me that you only had one more chance before your lost your computer for the weekend. This was your last chance, so no computer for the weekend.”

(Seriously, as punishments go, this is really not much of one. It was all ready Saturday night. We would be going out soon and we were leaving the hotel the next morning, but this did not matter to him).

Now, 2 inches from my face……

“I promise to never tell a lie again”

“Mom, I’m sorry!” – those of you that know DC, you know that:

He is sorry for absolutely everything! Partially he believes “I’m sorry” will get him out of anything.  Like a typical man, he thinks that saying “I’m sorry” even if he doesn’t know what he’s sorry about will get him out of anything or at least get me to stop talking. If he really wants to bring it home, he goes to: “I’m ‘ter-bly’  sorry” or “I am soooooo sorry”. He’ll even throw in a “Can you ever forgive me?” (movie line), if he thinks it’s necessary.

He says he’s sorry, WHILE he’s doing something he shouldn’t, and will continue right on doing whatever it is because he’s covered, he already said he was sorry. Or he’ll say he’s sorry when he’s about to do something he knows he’s not supposed to do. He’s covered, he said he was sorry!

I heard this and variations of this throughout the evening all recited 2 inches from my face. I won’t go into the amount of times I explained to him that just because he promises not to do it again does not get him out of the punishment he was already given. I understood that he was sorry and I was proud of him for being sorry…… believe me, it was covered and covered.

*****

We did enjoy the Blaze –

Various 285

but every few minutes he reverted back into his “I’m sorry” campaign.

Back in the room, he changed his tactic.

“Mom, thank you for much for the trip”

“Mom, thank you so much for the dolls”

“Mom, you are my queen.”

“I love you Mademoiselle”

“I am being so good!”

I did explain to him as I always do that I never would think or say that he was “bad” – he is not bad; he just did something wrong – on purpose.

We went to sleep (remember, I am still not feeling well). 4 or 5 times during the night, I woke up to find this boy 3 inches from my face telling me that he has “Good Behavior”  and “I promise never to lie again”

There are times when DC really does not understand what he has done wrong and I will speak with him and try to get him to understand – this was not one of those times. He knew exactly what he was doing while he was doing it. I can not just let everything go, even though at this point I really wanted to get some sleep. If I gave in now he’d know that I would give in the next time.

Morning came.

He hadn’t packed any paper to bring on the trip so he resorted to writing me apology notes on the inside of his books.

Various 332

As many times as he brought it up, there was an explanation for him. I love him, I always love him. I was not happy with the choice that he made to lie and sneak but I am not angry at him. If he does not do it again he would not lose his computer again.

We left the hotel, looked around Sleepy Hollow a bit, had lunch and headed home.

Various 310Various 304

Various 308

Monday was a holiday but the weekend was over, which meant his punishment was over. He double checked that fact with me and was extremely happy to hear that he was correct in his assumption.  We were home all day on Monday and he was quite happy not to use his computer, because Monday is not “the weekend”. But he knew it was ON for the following Friday and I never heard another word about it.

(He understands the word “punishment” from Full House. I originally never used that word – that was all him)

The ritual of it all

It is Friday evening, 5pm. I had arrived home from work about an hour earlier and DC has just come in from the library with Mrs. H.

The moment Mrs. H. leaves to go home, his Friday ritual begins.

“Mom, may I ask you a question?”

Now I know what this question will be, there is only one question he asks in this manner. He asks it in the exact same way every weekend. I am sure that somewhere along the line, when DC wanted to use his computer, I told him to “ask me the question, instead of using one word” – and this became “Mom, may I ask you a question?” He asks no other questions in this way, only this one. The question is not really even a question, it is a statement. The only actual question we have here is him asking me if he ‘may’ ask me a question…… but close enough.

“Yes, DC. What is your question?”

“I would like to play computer please”

“Sure you can.”

And he’s off.

DC has his rituals. I know them – I am used to them. It’s only when I sit back and watch the whole thing from beginning to end do I realize just how involved some of them are and just how long many of them take to complete.

During the week as soon as Mrs. H. leaves, DC runs up to his room to get his book. This book must be on the chair next to him at the kitchen table. He has his chair at the table where he reads or edits his books, but the chair next to him is also off-limits because this is where his book must sit. No one can sit in his editing chair and Mrs. H. is the only one allowed to sit in the book chair.

The 3 book rule was instituted because DC would travel from room to room with his pile of books. They were not the books he planned to read, they were the books he moved from spot to spot in the house according to what room he was in. With his pile of books in place he would then go and get another book to read. This pile of books grew and grew until I was afraid that he would fall down the stairs carrying them because he could no longer see over them. These were also not small paperbacks, they were large heavy books. The 3 book rule meant that he was only allowed to carry around 3 books at a time. The 3 book rule was hard for him. He would try to “hide” an extra book or two in the pile, so the three book rule was adjusted. The 3 book rule is now the one book rule. This seemed much easier for him to manage. The temptation to try to hide and additional book in the pile was gone as there was no longer a pile. The one book gets moved to the chair when he is in the kitchen, the corner of the coffee table when in the living room and a chair next to his bed in his room.

DC is only allowed to use his computer and/or watch DVD’s on the weekends as they tend to distract him from wanting to do anything else (see Disney, Disney and more Disney).

He has accepted this rule and it has worked well for us.

When Friday comes and Mrs. H leaves, it is officially ‘the weekend’ for DC.

“Mom, may I ask you a question?”

“Yes, DC. What is your question?”

“I would like to play computer please”

“Sure you can.”

And so it begins……

  • 1st – he gets his laptop out of the drawer,  and sets it up in his spot in the kitchen.
  • Next – he goes up the stairs to his room to get his one book and brings it to the kitchen to sit beside him.
  • He goes back up to his room to bring down a pile of DVD’s that are sorted in some order that is known only to DC.
  • He goes back up to his room for a separate pile of DVD’s from a different ‘DC category’ that is also not apparent to anyone but him.
  • Back upstairs again for a smaller stack of DVD’s which is surely an entirely different category.
  • Back upstairs for an even smaller stack (all stacks are arranged on the table in separate places with the largest stack on top of the one book on the chair).
  • Another trip up to his room for his 4 ‘sound machines’ because one can not watch a movie or video with out adding applause or other sound effects.
  • Into the living room for his earphones.
  • Back up to his room to put on his pajamas (his signal to me that he is done for the night and will not be going out anywhere else).
  • Lastly he collects an assortment of colored sharpies from the overflowing sharpie basket in the corner to line up next to him on the table.

At this point, I would be exhausted but now he is finally ready to watch his DVD’s.

sound machines

Sharpies and ‘sound machines’

Movies stacked in order and one book

After all of this back and forth, up and down, does he actually watch any of the movies he so carefully sorted, stacked and arranged? Rarely. He opts for YouTube.

This entire ritual is performed in reverse when it is time for bed.

And then Saturday morning comes…………..

and so it goes……………

Disney, Disney and more Disney………………..

Many of you know that DC has a complete, over the top, obsession with all things Disney. This obsession began when he was probably 6 months old. He loved to watch those Disney Sing-A-Long videos, over and over again.

DC did not take naps as a baby. He did not like the playpen. He liked the bouncing chair but was over it after a few days. The swing, lasted a little bit more than a few days, but he was quite over that after a week or two. He did not like to play with toys. He was not happy unless he was being carried around. These sing-a-long tapes were the only thing that captured his attention. So yes, I used them because for 30 minutes, I was free to do something else.

He graduated quickly to full length movies. The “Jungle Book” was the first full length movie he owned. I was a bit surprised that he was able to pay complete attention for the entire length of a 90 minute movie at 9 months old.

His obsession with Disney grew from there, especially for Cinderella. The boy loved his princesses! It got to the point that this “one movie” or “one Sing-a-long” a day was interfering with everything else we needed to go. He was so preoccupied with watching a movie that he did not want to do anything else. I didn’t want to take his movies away from him – he loved them, but I had to try to limit his movie watching to weekends only. This did not go over well at all.

I remember one night, he was probably  4 years old,  DC wanted to watch a Disney movie, I told him he could not. Now, at the time he was non-verbal, afraid of the dark and would never think to go anywhere without me. Communication was rough, he was still having meltdowns and really had a hard time understanding many things – but on this night, when I told him he could not watch a movie, he took his video put it under his arm, marched to the front door and signed “Dad”. He was determined to go to Dad’s house because apparently he would allow him to watch his movie.

DC had officially learned how to play the “Guilt Card”. Obviously he was not going to go outside in the dark, but he did make me feel awful and as always, like the bad guy. No, he did not get to watch his movie, but I realized then that he understood much more than I had been giving him credit for.

Cinderella led to his fixation with flowing dresses and shiny shoes. Out in public, he would grab at strangers  wearing  ‘flowy’ dresses or skirts. He would also get on all fours to stare at their shiny shoes. This was not always welcomed by the people wearing the “Cinderella-like” garb. I had to always be aware of everyone around us at all times and what they may be wearing to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

Around this time, I had a long ‘flowy’ gauze type skirt. It was hand washable of course. I always had to be careful about drying it. We lived on the second floor and I was  afraid that if I were to hang it to dry on the clothes line,  DC would try to go out there to play with it – yes, among the other worries and issues these were the other things I had to think about. So I used to hang it on a hanger from the shower head and close the shower curtain, so he would not see it. One night,  in the middle of the night, I woke to giggles, and some thrashing about. I went into the bathroom to find DC in the bathtub playing with the hanging shirt. I got rid of the skirt not long after.

There was ONE Disney book in his classroom when he was in his “in-between birth to 3 and Kindergarten” SPED classroom. It was the Little Mermaid. His teacher hid this book on a daily basis, because he could not concentrate on anything else knowing the book was in the classroom. Everyday he found it. She went to great lengths in hiding it – finally hiding it in a storage closet where DC had never once stepped inside – but as always he found it. It was almost as if he could sense it.

It took awhile but we finally had the movies in check and he did get past searching for that book. I didn’t want to take Disney away from him altogether, I wanted him to learn to live with Disney but not be overtaken by it. When he seemed to be in that place, it was decided it would be safe to take him to Disney World without him regressing back into his Disney-Obsessed behavior.

I know, I know, you are thinking “Why would you do that”? and again I will say that I didn’t want to take away something he loved so much, I just wanted him to be able to function around it.

His first trip to Disney World was when he was 7 years old and it was there that his first words (other than “Momma) were spoken:

Bus (because he knew the bus would be taking us to one of the parks each day)

Room (because we all know how much DC loves a hotel room, even back then)

‘Citronelle’ (DC-Speak for Cinderella)

‘Too-pay’ (DC-Speak for Peter Pan)

‘Dal-may-zaas’ (DC-Speak for Dalmatians)

For a boy who’s only word up until this point was “Momma” – I thought ‘Dal-may-zaas’ was quite amazing.

After a very long hunt, he was able to find and meet ‘Citronelle’ for the very first time. He would go on to meet ‘Citronelle’, many other times over the years and it is still very exciting for him, but nothing will ever compare to their first meeting – ever.

citronelle

Moving on to grammar school, we thought the Disney book distraction was behind him. Just to play it safe, his new teachers removed Disney of any kind from the classroom before the school year began. We thought we had this covered, but little did I know, there was an entire Library in this school, just full of Disney books. Realizing very quickly that this was becoming a problem, they were removed as well (for the first few months he was there, anyway, then they slowly came back so he was not overwhelmed with a large number of books all at once).

Now that he was becoming more and more verbal, he began reciting random movie lines. The lines he recited did not always have anything to do with what was going on at the time (they still don’t), they were just what might have been spinning around in his head at the time. Some were recognizable right away, others were obscure lines that really many people would not know.

While dropping him off at Daycare one morning before school, he bowed to me and said “Thank you Lucifer”. Now I know that Lucifer is Cinderella’s cat, but really, how many other people could make that connection? Fortunately the Daycare staff, got it but I still felt it necessary to e-mail his teacher just in case, to let him know that, no, we were not worshiping Satan at home.

(and yes, that e-mail made his day)

While walking through the grocery store “Please don’t send me away, I like it here!” (Disney’s “Summer Magic” – there are very few people who even know of that movie, never mind that particular line).

Now that he is older, he has more of a handle on his obsession. He is not so distracted by Disney that he can’t or won’t do anything else. Still, he is limited to movies only on weekends. He  will spout the random movie line. He still loves his princesses. He will almost always assign anyone he meets a princess or Disney character name.

And if you are wearing a ‘flowy’ dress, he will to ask you to spin………. (most people oblige)

Baltimore, Over the Rainbow and Back – Part 3

Part 3
Part 3

Now that is was permissible to speak the name of “Island that must not be named”, the Bahamas, I was able to tell DC that Coco Cay, our next stop was also in the Bahamas.

Before I get to that – the evening after we came back from Atlantis, we decided to give the dining room a try for dinner. I am usually not a big fan of eating in the dining room with DC. The tables are crowded with strangers. I get anxious because DC, although pretty well-behaved in restaurants, can get a little bit loud and chewing with his mouth closed does not come naturally to him, he has to be reminded continuously. When he does remember on his own, he feels the need to point it out to me throughout the entire dinner. He likes to bring a book with him whenever we go out to eat, but at these crowded tables, it is not always possible, there just isn’t enough room.

I was never of the mind that other people should be made to just accept DC’s behavior. Yes, if I am trying to manage the situation I can live without the stares and comments – but letting him do whatever he wants in the name of awareness, is not something I ever subscribed to. I do not believe that every behavior can or should be blamed on his autism – it is never used as an excuse. Letting him run around to other tables, throwing items or any other behavior that may have crept up when he was younger, just because he has autism, was not going to happen. I don’t expect other people in a restaurant, who are out to have a nice time for themselves, to have to make allowances for his behavior. In the past and for the most part, when he was younger, I’ve had to take him outside to calm down if it didn’t look like the situation could be managed inside or we’ve left places altogether. I agree that we need to raise awareness and acceptance, I do not agree that we have no regard for other people. To me, and this is my opinion only, that is not raising awareness about autism, but causing resentment. He has as much right to go anywhere and participate in anything as everyone else does and as I said, there were and still are times when he does get too loud or gets too anxious and yes, I do believe that some allowances should be made in the name of awareness, just as allowances should be made for young children that don’t necessarily have control of themselves out in public – we know all children will never be 100% well behaved in public, and we know that our children will not either – but letting them do just anything they want and calling it “awareness” – I just don’t get that.

When we were seated, we were glad to see only 3 other chairs and place settings, this meant (hopefully) only one other family. The other family arrived. They were a very nice couple from New Jersey with a 6-year-old named “Jimmy”. They didn’t seem to be uncomfortable with DC and the very best thing was that Jimmy didn’t seem to be afraid of DC as some young children seem to be!

He put up with him hugging the stuffing out of him and tried to communicate with him. Jimmy’s mother and father didn’t seem to mind being called “Jimmy’s Mom” and “Jimmy’s Dad” whenever DC had something to say to them. DC also had plenty of room for his ever-present book.

After dinner we decided to go to Karaoke or “Okey Okey” in DC-speak. We attended the night before  and DC seemed to like it. He even sang “Over the Rainbow”. Again, people recognized him throughout the next day so once again, he was loving his “celebrity status”.

We tried to pick a different song, but there were so many and I couldn’t come up with one off the top of my head that we could find in all of the listings. We also didn’t want to waste too much time getting his name in because although he seemed to like it, I knew he wasn’t going to sit there for hours waiting for his turn to come up, so “Over the Rainbow” it was…. again.

The crew member running the “Okey Okey” was wonderful, she recognized him right away from the night before. Had I known the introduction she had prepared for him I would have started taping sooner.

(Video edited for time – Over the Rainbow is a long song, you don’t realize how long until you are sweating out the performance)

She was wonderful and the audience was wonderful. He was thrilled. Celebrity status in tact, we headed back to the room – DC’s favorite place.

I do have to acknowledge the random maintenance man who let himself into our room at 10:45 to change a light bulb while DC and I were sleeping. Thanks, sir!

Once in CoCo Kay,  we opted for the glass bottom boat tour before hitting the beach. It was only an hour-long so we thought it would not be too much for DC. I am, by nature a “people watcher”. The people sitting across from me may have had the impression it would be much longer trip or that we may be shipwrecked 30 feet from shore,  as they brought most of the breakfast buffet with them. The man next to me was very entertaining as well. He was not having any of this. His wife, on the other hand was very excited about the whole thing. At one point the ship hand began diving under the glass and bringing up live sea creatures to pass around (I suspect they already had these creatures on the boat, but they made a nice production of him driving).

– Passing around sea creatures – I am now holding my breath…….

A BIG THANK YOU to the man seated 4 or 5 seats before DC for dropping a creature,  and taking all of the pressure off – I could breathe again. Even if DC dropped a creature at this point, it was okay because someone had done it before him!

The entertaining man on the other side of me however was not going to be touching any of these creatures…”If I wanted to touch vermin, I would go and pet some rats” – I had to pass every one over him to his wife. He was then required to take a picture of his wife holding each and every one of them (and there were an awful lot of them).

After the boat ride, we spent some time on the beach, had lunch of course and headed back to the ship and at DC’s request, back to the room – “I need to get some rest”.  DC was happy to lay in his bed with his books watching reruns of “Bones” (because, he was “Angel”, of course) and “Castle” (“Captain Hammer”) on “Two – Five” and eventually, fall asleep.

Our final stop, the next  day was going to be  Key West. DC remembered that there was a Hard Rock – or Hard Rock “Caf” – in DC-speak,  in Key West, so that was all he was focused on.

We took the tour that went to the Hemingway House. We’d been past it or in front of it many times, but we had never taken the time to go inside. We met with the tour guide who announced that we would be walking approximately 2 miles in total, but the tour would take at least 3 hours!

I knew at this point that this tour was a mistake! It takes 30 minutes to walk two miles – 3 hours meant a lot of standing around in the heat listening to stories along the way.

By the time we made it to the Hemingway House, DC had had enough. I saw a look on his face I hadn’t seen in years. Now DC does get anxious when he arrives anywhere, even if it is somewhere he really wants to be. I can always see the change, on his face. He stims, he repeats random words – “Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell” or “Another Wendy, Another Wendy, Another Wendy” and his eyes get wide. This was different. This looked like it was going to be a full on meltdown.

I took him off the crowded porch and tried to walk around to the back of the house where there were fewer people. We stayed there until he calmed down. Fortunately, he was able to calm himself down. He was calm enough that he said he would go inside. We quickly went through the house and informed the tour guide that DC was having trouble and we left the tour. It took all of 10 minutes to get to Hard Roc “Caf” and all was fine once again.

Hardrock 'Caf' - DC -speak

Thursday was a tough day on board. It was a day at sea, heading back to Baltimore. It was cold, so not only was every passenger on board but most were indoors. There was not a lot for DC to do. He just wanted to stay in the room but I told him we had to leave for a little while at least so the invisible cabin steward could come to clean the room.

He did participate in the “Wishes at Sea” walk for Make a Wish Foundation.

Wishes at Sea

Unfortunately the walk did not take all that long and it was getting colder and colder.

We tried to go shopping, but it was so crowded that no one could move. We managed to make our way into one store where DC found a Disney coloring book and markers (not that he didn’t have both in the room, but these were NEW). After wandering the entire ship, looking for somewhere for him to sit and color, we found a table in one of the bars, filled with others that seemed to have the same idea. I had more coffee and DC colored happily for a good long while.

cruise 487

Coloring done and believe it or not, I was at “coffee capacity”, we took another couple of laps around the ship and FINALLY it was time for lunch.

After lunch, DC REALLY wanted to go back to the room – “I have to get some rest”. He was happy to be back in the room, reading his books and watching “Two – Five” . He fell asleep as he always does, and fortunately that killed a few more hours and it was time for Dinner!

Thursday, was just hard. I was glad when it was time to go to bed……………..

By Friday morning, DC was ready to go home. He had a great time, but he was ready. Our original plan was to stop off in New York City (Dc’s favorite place) on the way home, but all we heard about during the last few days on board was just how much snow had been falling since we left Baltimore a week earlier.  So we decided we’d better just get driving when we got into port.

When we did arrive in Baltimore, there was not one flake of snow on the ground. Our shuttle driver reported that they did have close to a foot but they had some rain in the days that followed so all of the snow was gone.

We decided the stick to our decision to just drive home because we did not know how bad it was going to be closer to home. Fortunately the New York City stop was also going to be a surprise, so DC didn’t know anything about it. The change in plans did not pose a problem.

Home - just a "little bit" of snow!

Home – just a “little bit” of snow!

It was a very good thing we did…………………………..

We had to shovel our way in………

 

See: Baltimore, Over the Rainbow and Back – Pt. 1

and  Baltimore, Over the Rainbow and Back – Pt 2</

The Bookstore Revisited…….

We love Salem, MA. It is one of the places, along with New York City, NY and Mystic CT, that we visit any time we have the chance. Salem has been our Halloween/October destination for many, many years. We also try to visit during the year when it is not as crowded. So we are in Salem a couple- three times a year, at the least.

DC has a “favorite book store” everywhere we visit, but the Derby Square Book Store is his all time favorite anywhere. We last visited Salem in April on Easter weekend. We were spending the weekend in Boston and decided to take a quick trip to Salem on Saturday. When we arrived at DC’s beloved bookstore, we were horrified to find that it was closed! (see: Book Store Blues)

Fortunately we found that it would not be closed forever. The new owner was outside with a table of books to sell, but no one was allowed inside because they were packing up all of the old stock. She let DC inside, thankfully and saved the day!

Earlier this month, I had the week off, DC also had the week off from his job/program so that he could attend camp. I wanted to take a trip to Salem but we didn’t have a lot of options even though we were both off because  I didn’t want him to miss a day of camp. We opted to go on Sunday.

Before I told DC that we would be visiting Salem, I had to be sure that this store had re-opened. I started searching twitter, instagram and the web for information of the re-opening. I was able to out that the store had re-opened, under the name of “Wicked Good Books” , but did not know if it was open on Sundays. I didn’t know if we should take the chance. I didn’t know what he would do if we went there a second time to find it closed. But I also did not know when we would have the next opportunity to visit.

I talked to DC and explained we may be going to Salem on Sunday. The first thing he said was “Bookstore”. I told him that yes, his book store was open again, but I wasn’t sure if it was open on Sunday.

Me: “Do you understand, DC? It might not be open on Sunday. But don’t worry, if it is not open we will go back another time.”

DC: “Yes, I understand”

30 seconds go by……..

DC: “Bookstore?”

Me: “Yes, Bud, if the bookstore is open, we will go to the bookstore, but Mom wasn’t able to find out if it is open on Sundays. If it is not open, we will find another bookstore on Sunday and we will go back to Salem another time when your store is open.”

DC: “Okay, Mom”

and another 30 seconds pass……

DC: “Bookstore?”

This went on for a while. until I thought that maybe he finally understood, but I wouldn’t really be sure until we arrived there……..

My next concern was that he was going to be upset when he saw the store was “different” (thankfully for me – now I didn’t have to worry that books were going to come toppling down on him). I began explaining this to him back in April, when we knew it was changing owners, and more-so as soon as we decided to go to Salem in July. I got the standard “Okay, Mom. I understand” reply from DC, and again, I couldn’t really know if he really did understand, but I was really hoping that he did.

We arrived in Salem and after the initial panicked run for the restroom, which only brought him closer to the bookstore (that may have been his plan all along), we headed down the street to the store and thankfully, it was open!

The funny thing was, after all of the explaining and worries, it did not seem to faze him in the least that everything was so different and that books or entire shelves were not going to fall if he took something off of the shelf the wrong way. He headed directly to the back corner where all of the children’s books were located in the old store, which turned out to be just where they were set up now and his “hunt” began.

He found 3 or 4 books that he wanted and we went to the register to pay. The owner recognized him immediately from our April visit and she commented that she was also worried that it would upset him to find so many changes. I told her that I had been explaining this to him since we left in April but I still wasn’t sure how he would react when he actually got here.

She asked him if he liked the store and he answered with an emphatic “Yes!”

I asked him if this was still his favorite book store and again he answered, loudly “Yes!”

The other girl running the register told him she liked his “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock” shirt so he was in his glory all around (my boy is a big ham).

*Bookstore revisited – Check
*Found Books he wanted – Check
*Still his favorite store – Check
*We could relax & enjoy the rest of our visit – Check

If you are ever in Salem, be sure to visit “Wicked Good Books” – It is “DC-Recommended and Approved” ….

If you Liked this post, please click! Thank you!

The GREAT BOOK PURGE of 2014!

20140505-220210.jpg

Finally our Town scheduled a “Big Trash” pickup. These pickups used to be an annual event – when I say “event”, I mean an “event”. It was as if a newsletter went out to all of the surrounding towns and as soon as one piece of “big trash” hit the curb, the caravans of cars and pickup trucks descended. DC and I moved to this town 20 years ago, for the school system. At the time this town had the best special education  program in the state. We moved here from a relatively big city, where to be honest, I thought I’d seen everything, until “Big Trash Day” came around, that is…….. I had never seen anything like this… but I digress.

Due to budget cuts, “Big Trash” pickup went from every year to every other, then finally there was no pick up at all.  This year, the town decided to schedule a “Big Trash” event in April. It has been about 5 years since the last one.

As many of you know, DC loves books. His favorite activity is going to the bookstore. I’m sure he averages 3 or 4 visits per month. This means we have hundreds of books squashed in our little house. He has so many, that I really can’t keep track of what he has. If he’s picking out a book at the store, I don’t really remember if he already has it at home and he really doesn’t care if he already has it. Obviously if it is a Disney book, I know he has at least 4 or 5 versions of the particular story but I really can’t remember if he has the version he wants to buy…..or……… I know he HAD it at one time, but we may have gotten rid of it during the last “Big Trash” event. Needless to say, we end up with many duplicates.

His books and his DVDs are two things I will never be able to keep track of.

Because DC “edits” all of his books, they really can not be donated. They are just unreadable to anyone else but DC.

Book Editing

Book Editing

editbook

I have taken some flack over the years for letting DC write in his books because they can not be donated later. This is true, we can not donate them and I am left with a large amount of books that I have to get rid of without breaking the recycling and/or garbage man’s back.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always purchase items based on if or where I can donate them later. If an item can be donated later, it will be.

DC is allowed to write in his own books, he does not write in library books, he does not write in books that do not belong to him.

He is allowed to write in his books because it is beneficial to his language/conversation skills, his vocabulary and his comprehension.

Yes, some of his editing is obsessive. One of the many versions of the “Wizard of OZ” that he owns was an older version where the “Tin Man” was referred to as “The Tin Woodsman”. He went through every single page of the 200-plus page chapter book and colored out (crossing out is not good enough) the word “Woods” on every page, so that it read “Tin Man”.

He also likes his chapter numbers to be written out. Chapter 1 has to be edited to read “Chapter One” and so on. Every other day he will ask, “Mom, would you spell twelve”. I do not know why after all this time he can spell every other number, but not twelve, but for some reason, he can’t. There are many other words he will me to spell but “twelve” is a constant.

Recently ~and I really think this is great because he figured it out by himself ~he has become interested in Roman Numerals.
He figured out that the V means ‘five’, so along with spelling out the chapter numbers, he is also assigning them his version of a Roman Numeral. I say his version because he knows V is 5, so Chapter 13 is edited to read “VIIIIIIII” or sometimes “IIIIIIIIV”. In any case, he is adding 5 (V) + 8 (I’s) to get to 13. He was never big on numbers, so if his own version of Roman Numerals moves his mind into “math mode”, all the better.

The obsessive editing aside, he changes sentences into new sentences that make sense. He changes words into words that mean the same thing. He will ask me from time to time what a word means and then comes up with an edit for that word that means the same thing. He is learning, he is writing full sentences, he is learning what words mean and there’s a little bit of math happening, so YES, I let him write in his books.

The problem has always been just what to do with these books when they begin to take over the house.

It has been suggested, that I should just do a little bit at a time, this way I can throw them in the recycling bin without being the cause of a Workers Comp injury for the trash hauling company.

I can not do just a little bit at a time because:

– DC gets nervous.
– We would be going through the same shelf every week, because as soon as there is a space a book or books gets shoved in it.
– If I went through all of it at one time and just got rid of them a little bit at a time I would still end up with a huge pile of books somewhere in the house and he would slowly begin to add them back into his collection.

I made the mistake of throwing away 9 or 10 books about 15 years ago. They were books I was sure he hadn’t looked at or touched in years, but he knew! For years, until just recently, whenever he left the house to get on the bus for school and then work, his last words to me were “Books are staying here”, every single day.

When I heard there was a “Big Trash Day” scheduled in April, I began getting DC ready. I talked to him about his books everyday until the week of. I explained that we were going to go through all of his books and he would tell me which ones we were going to “keep” or “throw away”. I explained that we would not throw away anything unless it was all right with him. I also explained that we would go through all of his books together and I would not do any of this without him.

We couldn’t start too early, because having the books he opted to throw away hanging around for any length of time would really bother him and he would slowly move them back to the books shelves. We had to have everything out on the curb by Sunday evening, so DC and I started sorting on Thursday night.

We started with his living room book-case. We went through each and every book. I was surprised at the amount of books he decided to throw away. I’m sure he was already planning to replace them a little bit at a time during his many future trips to the book store.

On Friday, I had a medical appointment and I was not allowed to lift anything heavy for the day, so we lost a “sorting day” right out of the gate. On Saturday we started in his room. We were attending a  fundraiser that evening so between the sorting of books I was getting phone calls and texts to look for this and that and people wanting to drop items off for the fundraiser. I started getting anxious about all of these books. This book purge had to be completed today, before 4pm when we left of the fundraiser because DC was spending the night and the next day at his Dad’s – he was going to take DC directly from the fundraiser and I had promised DC that I would not sort or throw away anything with out his approval.

His room took almost all day and in the process, I threw out my back, carrying said books downstairs. Now I thought I would not be going anywhere at all that evening, never mind  getting through all of his books, but DC was a great help.  Going through his room made me feel like I was in an episode of “Hoarders” –  it always does.  It is just amazing how many books he can fit in his little room!

You probably can't see it but there are more stuffed under the coffee table

You probably can’t see it but there are more stuffed under the coffee table

We did it! I told DC over and over again how proud I was of him, so he wouldn’t start getting anxious about all of the books that were going away and because I WAS very proud of him for agreeing to get rid of so many! The following day, Doug came over and hauled them all outside. When DC came home from his Dad’s on Monday morning in time for his transportation to work, they were all gone, so he never gave it another thought.

No worries, though. He has plenty of books left to edit and I assume he is already plotting the replacement all of the books that went away with nice, new clean versions to edit all over again.  These shelves will be over flowing again in a few months time.

DC's room

DC’s room

Livingroom

Living Room

And…… we did find 40 or 50 books that were not
edited and we were able to donate.

Book Store Blues

 

2014-06-15 camera roll 06-15-14 054

DC has a favorite bookstore. I mean a very favorite bookstore! It is located in Salem, MA and everytime we visit there – which is quite often, that store must always be one of our first stops. We are spending this weekend in Boston and decided to take a side trip into Salem. DC was excited to go to his favorite book store.
Let me tell you, this place, The Derby Square BookStore has books piled up everywhere. It was always frightening for me. I am always afraid that if he moved just one book the wrong way, everything would come tumbling down on us.

(A few photos from a few years back)

bs5

 

 

DC and BB

DC and BB

20140419-223200.jpg

 

 

But he just loved it!

He loved it so much that his cousin drew a picture of him in the store for Christmas one year.

 

bs3
On our way to Salem today, I said to Doug, and I don’t know why, “Someday we are going to show up at this store and find it gone”.

Jinx…….

We arrived at the store and found a table outside with some books on it, the door blocked by the table, a few people looking at the books outside and a sign that said “Closed! Reopening in June”.

OH NO! (screaming in my head)

DC would not understand this. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t go in. I tried to have him look at all of the books on the table hoping he would find just ONE that he was interested in – but he did not. The new owner saw how upset he was getting. We didn’t have to say anything to her or ask; she shuffled DC and I inside and let him look around. We had to be careful as everything was being boxed up, but honestly we really didn’t have to be any more careful than we always had to be in there.

There wasn’t much that was not already in boxes but he managed to find 3 books.

“Phew, put hand to face” as DC would say.

As I was paying her for his books and thanking her profusely, she told me that she had just purchased the store and that it was going to take a while for her to go through everything, get it all in some sort of reasonable order, and renovate the inside so it didn’t give the impression of the walls caving in on you.

I can’t picture this, but I can’t wait to see it.

I thanked her again. DC thanked her as well. It was such a nice thing for her to do! She has no idea how she single-handedly saved the rest of the day for us! I didn’t get to go into that kind of detail with her because she was busy with other customers. I wish I could have.

Crisis Averted!

Now all I have to do is be sure we do not make any trips to Salem until after June!

bs2

 

(This post was written quickly and on my phone – I DID wear my glasses, but even so, please forgive any typos, run on sentences …. Etc.)