alone…

It started this with the morning application of sunscreen and insect repellent. He does not like it but he puts up with it most days. Today is a camp day, but because he works in a greenhouse during the week, the sunscreen and insect repellent is a daily chore and it begins in the spring – every day. I know that he is quite sick of it at this point, but most days he can just put up with it.

This was just one of those mornings that he couldn’t. That is where it started.

I could see it coming. It looked like a Monday morning (Monday Meltdowns). I did not hear “gotta hurry, hurry, hurry” but I heard the way he went up the stairs to put his stuff away.

When he came down, the running back and forth began. I asked him if he wanted to go outside so he’d have more room to run. I figured he would run up and down the front sidewalk as he does on Mondays when he is having a problem.

We went outside where he had more room to get it all out.

I am not going to describe it, only to say that he had himself so worked up that I really was afraid that he would pass out. It scared me.

He finally sat down with me and hugged me – we sat there hugging for a few minutes while he got his breath back and then he was fine.

DC had meltdowns when he was young and in comparison, these may be the same except maybe they just look worse to me because he is so big now. Maybe they are worse. Maybe it is just that I haven’t seen what I would call a meltdown in such a long time until these started again. Maybe it is his seizure meds. He’s been on them 2 years this week (I will be talking to his doctor next week when he has his appointment) – I don’t know.

Doug is DC and Salli’s transport to camp on Thursdays and Fridays and by the time it was time for him to leave, he was fine. He left and that left just me, by myself to get a grip.

I texted Doug to see how drop off went and he said it was fine.

I am off on Fridays for the summer and today I really needed not to sit here and wallow about it by myself. But it is times like these when I realize just how alone I am. I needed someone to talk to, but I needed someone who would not panic or feel uncomfortable if I burst into tears in mid-sentence.

Doug is off as well, so in my text I asked if he wanted to go for coffee. He couldn’t.

There was really no one else I could call. It’s Friday, people work. If they are not working, they can not always just drop what they are doing to listen to me – although I have done just that plenty of times to listen to others.

I even thought about calling my mother, but I know that it is only other people that get to have problems, I do not; I am just “hysterical”.

So…. I got in my car and drove around and cried like an idiot. I did not want to drive too far because I was worried that even though he was fine when he left, he had himself so worked up that I was afraid that something might happen (like a seizure) and I did not want to be farther away from camp in case I had to go and pick him up. Really all I wanted to do was to go to camp and get him for some more hugs, but it is his last day and he was looking forward to “Awards Day” so I did not want to ruin that for him. So I drove and listened to music and it really did not help.

So now I am home, writing this – just to get it out.

Yes, I know this should be about him, not me and that this may read like I am having a pity-party for myself. Maybe I am. Maybe I needed to have my “moment” so I can just move on with today. We should all be allowed to have our moments. Hopefully when you all are having your moments, you have someone to talk to and help you through it….

Here’s hoping, anyway…

****

Thanks for “listening” and not judging my pity-party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to “Monday Meltdowns”

Mondays are difficult for many of us. Mondays are especially difficult for DC. It does not matter if he had a busy weekend or just sat around. It does not matter if he went to sleep early or late.

It just does not seem to matter.

He wakes up relatively happy every morning – Monday included – and goes about his business. For some reason; and it usually happens right before he is ready to leave – his mood changes quickly and drastically.

He does nothing differently on Monday morning than he does any other morning and I try to be very conscious of what I might say or do. I try not look at him for too long or say anything that will set him off. You know, like when you have to try not to look when your child tries a new food because just the act of looking at him will make him stop eating it. That is how our Monday mornings go. Avert your eyes and don’t say anything.

Everything is done the same way and in the order that he likes to do it.

As careful as I am, if I hear…

“I got to hurry hurry hurry” I know it’s all over.

I never tell him to hurry. I am very careful about that, especially in the morning and even more-so on Mondays. We get up in enough time so that he does not have to rush. I do still have to remind him:

Time to brush your teeth

Time to get dressed …. but I do that every morning.

We always leave enough time for him to “Do the writing” (princess papers) while using his iPad.

When the “hurry, hurry, hurry” rears it’s ugly head as it did this morning, I tell him that he has plenty of time. There is no rush. I have to try but I know that by that time, there is no turning him back.

When his transportation came this morning, DC was in rare form and ran, full speed out to the van. I was willing him with my mind to get in, because if he stops and looks back at me – he will come charging back.

And that is what he did.

He came charging back so fast that I was sure he would not be able to stop; he did stop running before knocking me over but he was not happy.

And so it began…..

I won’t go into details but it was loud, very loud…

After what seemed like an eternity, he calmed himself and started walking slowly back to the van. “Slowly” was good and I was just thinking that this hadn’t been all that bad compared to some Mondays, when he started running full steam again…. to the van and right back to me again…. to fulfill his mission of spreading of autism awareness to the neighborhood.

The driver had gotten out and opened the door while he was waiting for all of this to end, in the hopes that if he did not have to stop to open it, he would get right in. It worked. He went back to the van again and GOT IN.

The van started backing out of the driveway, stopped and pulled back in. DC jumped out and ran full steam back to me again for just a touch more awareness spreading. Finally he started back to the van; walking this time, so I was hopeful. He got in the van – even more hopeful –  and the van drove away. I stood there just in case but it did not pull back in.

I know I will never know what goes on in his mind all of the time but still, it bothers me because I can not figure out what triggers this. What sets him off all of a sudden? For now, I am going to have to go with the fact that NO ONE likes Mondays and this is just the way he reacts to them lately. Mondays were never an issue until the last year or so.

It could be that he is just tired, but then why is he all right most of the morning? I watch and watch but I just do not see what triggers it and why just over the last year or so. Nothing about his day is different.

Yes, I have been mother to my autistic son for 26 years and yes, I know that we sometimes cannot figure out what is going on. I know that….

Knowing that does not stop me from trying to figure it out… It never did and it never will.

****

I normally use my other blog for random face book statuses, but these fit the mood here today:

After a holiday weekend so Tuesday was our Monday:

 

Another Monday holiday, so Tuesday was again our Monday:

When Mondays go well, one begins to worry..

#NotSoBadMonday (a big chunk of ceiling came down in the kitchen right after this next status was posted, so the rule is; if DC doesn’t get me, something else will)

 

 

Monday and Brief Power Outage Combo!

 

Hope you all had a Happy Monday!

Because, Because, Because, Because….BEEEE CAUSE

Autumn In OZ

Autumn In OZ

 

Right up there on DC’s ‘fandom’ meter with all things Disney is the Wizard of Oz. I can not really put my finger on how, when or where this fixation developed as it is not a Disney production, but it certainly did. DC owns every version of every book, movie and soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz.

There is nothing that would make him happier than a visit to OZ.

As I mentioned in Part One of this post (Hello Dolly)

I discovered a festival in Kansas called, you guessed it – The OZ Fest. The OZ fest is held in late September, not October, but still close enough to count as our Halloween trip. The OZ fest was the plan for this year’s Halloween get-away. That WAS the plan….. until we calculated the cost of the flights, rental car and hotel for the weekend and realized that it was almost equivalent to booking a cruise for a week.

Plan discarded…………… (for now)

But now I had OZ on the brain and I was not going to give up the notion of getting DC to OZ. I remembered seeing photos that my sister-in-law posted from an OZ event that they had attended a few years back. It was at  Beech Mountain, North Carolina. I facebooked her to get more details. She told me that this event was very popular, but only open for ONE  weekend each year; this year on October 3, 4 and 5. Tickets had to be purchased in advance. and I was told that it sold out very quickly.

 

Dollywood the day before worked out so, so much better than expected (with the exception of the ‘Mommy-Meltdown’) – so we were excited to get to “the Mountain of Oz’ – as DC calls it. I was still a bit apprehensive about the bus ride to the top, but I realized quickly that most of the mountain drive was by car.

I didn’t realize that DC had packed his watch and was wearing it in the car. I only did realize when we started getting minute by minute updates from the back seat:

“Mom, it is Eight-‘Firty’- Seven, we have to find Uncle ‘Liar’ –

“Mom, it is Eight-‘Firty’ – eight, we have to find Uncle ‘Liar’ –

and so on……….

DC has a difficult time pronouncing most of my brothers’ names. Uncle Larry, is ‘Uncle Lally’ (he can pronounce “Harry” and “Mary” but for some reason “Larry” is impossible for him). Uncle Lyle is ‘Uncle Liar’.  He always could pronounce Ted and Skip – or so I thought. He does pronounce “Ted” correctly, but at one point  I realized that all this time, he was really calling Skip,  Uncle ‘Scamp’ – it sounded so much like ‘Skip’ all of the times that he’s said it that I didn’t realize he was actually calling him ‘Scamp’ until he wrote it down one day.

We arrived at the sky-resort where we were to catch the bus. We met “Uncle ‘Liar’, my sister-in-law and my niece in the parking lot. IT WAS COLD!!!!! My brother was disappointed that we were not in costume (they were not, but he knows me well). My title of “Queen of the Costume” was now tarnished, forever!

(Did I mention that it was COLD!!!???)

– I have to give props to the “Autumn at Oz” people for sending out more than one e-mail to let ticket holders know just how cold it was excepted to be. This would not have occurred to me and thanks to them, we were prepared – But still….. IT WAS COLD!!!

We had a little time after we checking in to have some hot chocolate and coffee. There was a couple of  buildings open for us to go and get warm while we waited.

Needless to say the Italian Ice vendor outside did not do very well on this day. Hopefully he did better on Sunday.

After our hot chocolate/coffee/heat break, we went out to board the bus. We were first in line for our bus, which means we would be seated all the way in the back. My sister in law gets a bit of motion sickness, made worse by riding in the back. She and my brother were allowed to take the front seat, while DC and I took one seat in the back and my niece and Doug took the other, a decision my niece would soon regret.

The Wizard of Oz soundtrack was playing on the bus on our way up the mountain; Doug, being Doug, decided, out of nowhere,  to just belt out “If I were the king of the Foreeeeest”

I will never be able to describe the look on my niece’s face, ever. I told Doug that he was embarrassing her, but that is what he lives for. The look on her face was priceless and although I felt sorry for her, I just could not stop laughing. She was just mortified. Not being able to stop laughing actually distracted me from the ride that I had been so apprehensive about. I will never forget that face and even now as I’m writing, I am laughing.

Exiting the bus;  we soon ran into Dorothy and Toto sitting near a fountain. I have to hand it to these characters, it was so cold but they never let on, one would never know by looking at them that they were freezing.

 (It was never my intention to turn this post into a visual tour, but I can not help myself. It was impressive.)

We followed the path and came upon Professor Marvel. He warned us all about the storm that was predicted to come through at any time!

We continued on the path to Kansas and where we would hopefully find shelter from the oncoming twister.

We found the Gale farm. While waiting to get into the house, Dorothy saw DC waving to her through the crowd. She walked into the crowd to greet DC and launched into the whole spiel – She was very nervous. Miss Gulch tried to take Toto for chasing her cat. She needed to find Auntie Em to protect her and Toto from Miss Gulch.

“If you see Auntie Em, please tell her I need help”

DC ate it up. He felt as if he was a part of the story.

Heading into Dorothy’s house, the Ruby Slippers were on display and a band played on the front porch.

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Once inside we found Auntie Em and DC relayed the message from Dorothy. Auntie Em was thankful and told DC that if he saw her again,  please tell Dorothy to come home.

But we had to hurry to the cellar……. the storm was fast approaching!

Oh NO! It's a Twister!

Oh NO! It’s a Twister!

 “The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch*. … “

Half way down the stairs on the way to the storm cellar and partially through the ‘twister’ DC said, “I am getting very nervous about this” but he continued through the dark through the storm. When the storm was over, we found the house a mess and the floors topsy turvy – it was hard to stand up straight.

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We walked outside to hear the Mayor declaring the Wicked Old Witch, dead!

The Witch Is DEAD!

The Witch Is DEAD!

 “It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch, Which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch”*

Ding Dong!

Ding Dong!

DC was happy to be out of the house and excited as he was now realizing that the journey we were on  was moving in order, right along with the story. The Yellow Brick road would be coming into view shortly.
We rounded the corner and there we met Glinda. Glinda, in DC’s eyes is equivalent to a Princess. She has “princess status” in his world. He is always happy when Glinda appears, and now he would be meeting her in person!

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Onward through Munchkin Land .

Leaving Munchkin Land, the munchkins told us that we had to “Follow The Yellow Brick Road*” – and so we did.


– Along the way we came across every character that resides in the Land of Oz – good and evil.
I can’t say enough about the actors that played these characters. I am told that they are all volunteers. These people were impressive. They were definitely “Disney-Caliber”. Not only were they out there all day, in costume, in the cold, but they never broke character. A few even burst into song.

Let me tell you, if DC decides to throw a line at you, you better be able to respond, in character and correctly. Believe me, his interaction with the Oz characters was no different that his conversations with ‘his’ Disney Princesses. They all had the proper response or song to whatever DC decided to discuss with them and we all know that DC can come up with the rather obscure reference. One HAS to know the movie inside and out to pass the DC realism test. Each and every one of them passed with flying colors.

Once we walked a little bit of the way down the Yellow Brick Road, the wind seemed to die down and we were in direct sunlight; the hats and gloves came off – jackets were still needed but it was really, really nice there.

The Scarecrow sang when DC asked him about his brain and then he pointed us in the direction of the Emerald City – although he could not seem to make up his mind.

DC could not resist knocking on the Tin Man’s chest
just checking for a heart

                                                                                             “Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!”*
The Cowardly Lion……
– and yes, Doug showed great restraint in not belting out the ‘King of the Forest’ tune again.

We were now getting closer and closer to the Wicked Witch!

“I’d turn back if I were you!”*

But we didn’t turn back……. Who’s afraid of a Wicked Old Witch anyway? But, curses, we neglected to bring our buckets of water! We’d have to take our chances.

After DC and my niece both declined the Witch’s offer to join her flying monkey army, we were on our way, fully intact. PHEW!

 

We approached the poppy field and said one last goodbye to everyone we had met along the way.

DC, of course had to call an impromptu powwow to make sure that each of the characters were absolutely aware of who they were supposed to be….
– Just in case they didn’t know.

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“We’re off to see the Wizard”*

But first……. we had to ask for admittance into the Emerald City.

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I so wish I had thought to take a video of this exchange. DC went through the entire scene – he rang the bell, the door guard yelled at him and slammed the door for ringing said bell. He then followed the new directions, now that the sign was turned to the proper side, and knocked… because of course we know that the bell is “out of order” – he laughed and laughed. I think this may just have been his favorite part of the entire day in Oz.
His cousin really got a kick out of how much he was getting a kick out of all of this.

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Directions followed properly – we were granted permission to enter the Emerald City and given an audience with…..
The Man behind the curtain……. The Wizard.

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Finally DC had the opportunity to recite “There’s no place like home”*.
Wish granted, and we made our way back to the bus, but first we came upon the characters once again, this time from the original book.

I read somewhere that the Emerald City was lost to a fire. It is a shame; based on the quality of the Yellow Brick Road – I have to imagine that the Emerald City must have been magnificent. Even with the loss of the Emerald City, the story was told from beginning to end.

 

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We were right in time for the bus. I had photos to post so this kept me occupied on the bus ride back down the mountain.

My niece opted not to sit with Doug on the way back down.

I really do not know just what I was expecting at “Autumn at OZ” but I have to say, it was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. It was beautiful, very well maintained and VERY well staffed. It was such a fun day. Yes, it was cold, but we were warned and we were prepared. The trip was well worth it. We had a wonderful time (“terrific time” – ‘terrific’ being DC’s new word).
The whole adventure from the bus stop to the end was very well organized. There was not a long wait for anything.

I would recommend this event to anyone. It is a shame it is only open once a year, but if you are an OZ fan (even if you are not), it is well worth it. DC will never forget his trip to OZ.

I have to talk a little bit about my niece as well. My brother and his family have lived in Tennessee since DC was born. My niece and DC have only actually met each other maybe three times since she was born. So she has not spent much time with DC at all over the years. I have to say I was so impressed with her. She was not afraid of him – you might think that is an odd thing to say as he is her cousin, but believe me – it’s happened, more than I care to think about. She put up with him hugging the stuffing out of her all day. She made attempts at conversation with him, even if the response she got didn’t have anything to do with what she originally said to him. The day went wonderfully and HE is completely enamored with her.

I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit OZ with them – I think we all had a fabulous time.

Even this guy…………

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“This Guy”

In the event that anyone may be concerned ……..

after dinner with my brother and his family, we were able to find a bookstore…

Hello Dolly!

Every October, we try to take a weekend trip – our Halloween trip – somewhere Halloween themed of course. Usually we go to Salem, MA. Two years ago, just to take a break from Salem (there is never really a break from Salem as we tend to end up there quite often during the year), we decided to try Sleepy Hollow, NY. It was fun. It was no Salem, but DC had his best friend BB, along so he had an exceptional time. Last year, we opted for NY ComicCon and a weekend in NY – DC’s favorite place. ComicCon – Costumes, Characters – close enough to qualify as our Halloween weekend away. Last year, I also discovered a festival in Kansas called, you guessed it – The OZ Fest. The OZ fest is held in late September, not October, but still close enough to count. The OZ fest was the plan for this year’s Halloween get-away. That WAS the plan….. until we calculated the cost of the flights, rental car and hotel for the weekend and realized that it was almost equivalent to booking a cruise for a week.

Plan discarded…………… (for now)

But now I had OZ on the brain and I was not going to give up the notion of getting DC to OZ. I remembered seeing photos that my sister-in-law posted from an OZ event that they had attended a few years back. It was at  Beech Mountain, North Carolina. I facebooked her to get more details. She told me that this event was very popular, but only open for ONE  weekend each year; this year on October  4 and 5. Tickets had to be purchased in advance, and I was told that it sold out very quickly.

We went about booking flights, but then the tickets did not go on sale on the day they were scheduled to, and not on the following date that was posted. We had flights but had no idea if we would be able to get tickets. Finally we just happened to go to the site to check for a new sale date, and there they were, on sale, unannounced. Tickets – purchased; we were good to go.

Doug, who loves to research everything to death, came to me after all of the plans were made……

“Um…. is there some sort of pill you could get for this trip?”

– That is never a good sign

“Why, what happened?”

“Well, you realize that this place is on top of a mountain, and we have to take a bus to the top.”

-Now Doug has had to deal with me in a car driving up to Mt. Haleakala –

  • I was convinced I could not breathe (I could)
  • Potato chip bags exploded in the back seat from the pressure, scaring the life out of me
  • The gas alarm began to chime because we were headed straight up and I was convinced we would run out of gas, further scaring the life out of me (we didn’t)
  •  I yelled at him all the way to the top (and all the way down)

……and many other winding, hilly, mountainous drives that went just about the same way. Then there is the whole “car tipping over on the curves” fear.

Let’s just say, I am not the best when I can see the edge of the road and a very long drop. Let’s just say that.

“I really didn’t need to know that right now. Thank you”

At this point I was thinking that this just may have been a big mistake on my part but I wanted to get DC to OZ so we went ahead with the plans. We were also planning to meet up with my brother and his family from Tennessee,  while there, so that would be fun too. They were to join us in OZ and DC was very excited about that.

The plan…. to fly down on Friday morning, head straight to Dollywood, back to the hotel and Saturday morning head straight for the mountain. The entire week before, the forecast was calling for rain, lots of rain, on Friday – Saturday was still looking good, with the exception of  the “dress for winter” e-mail from the “mountain”, but sunny and no rain. We kept hoping that Friday’s forecast would change, but it never did.

We arrived in Charlotte at 8:00 am Friday morning to sunshine, but it was short-lived. It would be a 4 hour drive straight to Dollywood or a 2 hour drive to our hotel. The original plan was to head straight to Dollywood, but now it was pouring so we really did not know what we were going to do. We stopped for ‘second breakfast’ because DC had his breakfast at 3:00am at home. He was actually looking for lunch at 8am. I tried to explain to him that we woke up much earlier than usual and it was not lunchtime, he would just be getting to work if we were at home. I knew he really did not understand this. He had breakfast at home so surely it must be lunchtime, because that is what comes next… period.

We checked on-line for other things to do in the area, but most were outdoor activities, so we decided we would just head in the direction of our hotel and Dollywood. If it was still pouring when we reached the hotel – maybe they would let us check in early. If the weather changed, we could just continue on to Dollywood. Checking the forecast, the weather was actually looking worse; now predicting thunderstorms.

The hotel did let us check in early and I was really looking forward to a quick nap (more about that later), but we decided to call just to see if Dollywood was open.  They were, so we decided to risk it and drive 2 more hours to get there. If the weather didn’t change we could always just try to find a bookstore and DC would be happy to just go back to the room with more books – and I would be able to take a nap.

storm dollywood

We drove the 2 hours to Dollywood –  pouring almost all of the way. The forecast still reading heavy rain and thunderstorms, but…. the closer we got the lighter the rain, until it had completely stopped. When we pulled into Dollywood,  the clouds parted and the sun came out – full force – seriously, it was hot! We were not dressed for HOT, but whatever – it was amazing. While the forecast was still reading heavy rain and thunderstorms, we were in the blazing hot sun!

After only a few minutes, the clouds rolled in, but not like earlier, just enough to cool it down. It was perfect. I think the weather actually worked in our favor.

The park was not crowded at all. There were no lines for any of the rides. DC was able to ride on most of the roller coasters, before Doug began looking a little green. There were only 3 hours left of park time by the time we arrived, but it was plenty of time – everything moved very quickly.

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The Front Row

The Front Row

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We even had time for the carousel, train and the world famous’cinnamon bread’.

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Meltdowns?

Just one…..

…….and it was me.

I do not like 6:00 am flights.

A 6:00 am flight means we have to leave our house at 4:00 am – which means we have to wake up at 2:30 am.

Having to wake up at 2:30 means I really will not be able to sleep at all because I am worried that I won’t hear the alarm or just won’t wake up in time.

I was lucky if I got 45 minutes of sleep.

I can not sleep on a plane – ever. I try, but I just can’t, never could.

This means that when we arrived in North Carolina at 8:00 am Friday,  I had already been awake since 5:30 am Thursday morning – about 27 hours for those of you that don’t want to do the math. By the time we left Dollywood and started back to have dinner and find a bookstore, it was somewhere around 37/38 hours without sleep. I just could not take it any more. It was a meltdown of epic proportions.

So………….

We had dinner, skipped the bookstore and got back to the hotel all before 9pm. I got some very much needed sleep. I think I was “out” in all of 5 minutes – that never happens, no matter how tired I am – and I slept straight through the night, which also never happens.

The next morning was sunny, but cold and I felt much better after getting some sleep….

(No worries, DC made it to a bookstore on Saturday)

Next we were heading off to see the Wizard…………

(to be continued in next weeks post;  “Because, Because, Because, Because….BEEEE CAUSE” )