Sub-minimum; another view

money

I just received a letter from the agency that DC “works” for. To paraphrase; there are new federal rules that will impose limits on people earning less than minimum wage. The clients that are already earning sub-minimum can continue to do so, but they will be required to receive “career counseling” annually. Basically, they will no longer be able to accept new clients at sub-minimum.

I know that there is cheering and celebration going on after reading the paragraph above but I ask that you take a minute to read another side to this issue, because there are two sides to this. If your child is not an adult and out of school, the reality of the “other side” for many may not be something you might be thinking about right now.

I agree that EVERYONE is entitled to be paid minimum wage, EVERYONE! The reality is that some of our children will never be able to work at Walmart, Target or hold a “regular” job. Should they earn minimum wage if they do not hold a regular job? Absolutely! Do I think my child deserves minimum wage? Absolutely again, but unfortunately the funding is not there to support it.

When DC was young and in school, I had no idea how any of this worked. I did not understand agencies or Group Supported Employment at all. I would have had the same knee-jerk reaction to him working at subminimum wage. I would have envisioned sweat shops and whatever other horrors that you might be envisioning right now.

My son works for a non profit agency – Group Supported Employment. He works in their greenhouse which is open to the public. He has staff supporting him all day, everyday. He earns less than minimum wage.

DC is 25 and will never be able to work without support – a good amount of support. The agency that provides his work program is funded by the state. Funding is cut each and every year – each and every year. We can all scream and yell that these programs need more funding, but the reality is that funding for programs for the disabled is cut every year. If his agency is made to pay their clients minimum wage, they could only afford to keep 6 of the 12 clients working in the greenhouse. Where would that leave my son and others like him? He has the right to feel productive. He has the right to do something meaningful with his time every day. Where would that leave him? Sitting home all day or in a day program (like a day care)? He loves his job. He likes to go to work every day. Basically what this letter is saying is that they will no longer be able to accept ANY client at subminimum, which in reality means they will not be able to accept ANY new clients at all – at least in their work programs. So where will all of the students leaving the school system go if they are not able to work at a regular job out in the community?

I do believe that agencies holding a below minimum certificate should be monitored closely, but to do away with them blindly is doing a disservice to those that are not able to hold a regular job.

This agency also supports and trains clients who are capable of going out and working in Walmart, etc. Those clients, after they are trained DO make minimum wage or more because they are paid directly by the company that hires them – while still getting support when needed and at times, transportation through the agency.

If your child is lucky enough to be able to work without support out in the community, that is great! If not, I hope that in the future these agencies are able to receive the funding and support that they need, because all of our children deserve that. Until then, please do not take away their opportunity to have a job like everyone else and benefit from the interaction with the public, while still having the support of staff to help them throughout their day.

I am in no way advocating for anyone to make less than minimum wage, I am saying that right now, this is the reality for my child. He is working like everyone else. He is in a place with staff, he is safe and he is being looked after.

For those of you that may be envisioning the “sweat shop” scenario; the “clients” attend the program for 6 hours per day. They do as much work as they are capable of doing. They are not forced to work. They are not doing hard labor or strapped to a chair to meet a quota. They are learning, they are socializing they are out in the community and making contact with the public. They are surrounded by and supported by agency staff. These “businesses” are created for the soul purpose of providing “employment” for their clients. They are not booming businesses and most of them are not profitable. Even though they are open to the public, they are providing a service to our kids, more than to the public (I can only speak of the agencies in our area, but I imagine that it is about the same in most agencies).

While the states continue to cut the funding of programs for people with disabilities, the Federal government in turn expects these already struggling agencies to now pay minimum wage. They are required to maintain a certain level and staff to client ratio, but when the funding disappears, the level of staff still must me maintained.

Think for a minute about where you think your child will be after he/she finishes school. Will he/she be able to go out and get a job and work without support? If the answer is no, or maybe not, then think about just what they will be doing instead. Will they stay home all day? Enter a day program/daycare? What do you think they would want to be doing? Would they like to say they have a job like everyone else around them?

As much as DC lives in the present and “what comes next” is not what is in his head most of the time, he does know that Mom is an adult and has a job. He knows that Doug has a job. He knows his friends have jobs. He knows that most adults have jobs. He knows that he is an adult. He likes that he goes to work. He likes that he has a job. But, unfortunately the government would rather see a large portion of this population sitting around at home or attending day/recreation programs than do something that might make them feel productive…. to have a job like everyone else.

That’s the way it should be-eeee

 

grease 153IMG_3611A repost of an event from two years ago, in honor of my friends that always come through, put up with and go along with not only attending these events but my over the top, out of their comfort zone ideas.

They will not say that they did not have fun!

But really, they are the best!

From February 27, 2014 (Event Date)

“We go together………..”

…like Ramma lamma lamma Ka dinga da dinga dong
Remembered forever like Shoo-wop sha whada whadda Yippidy boom da boom
Chang chang changity chang shoo bop That’s the way it should be
Waooo Yeah!”

GreaseSR

These Kids Rock! They really do!

That was originally all I intended to say. I wasn’t really considering writing about this, but……. as I was thinking about just how proud I am of each and every one of them and just how much DC and his friends just rise to the occasion and always have a great time together,  I just had to mention the fact that not only does DC have the best friends anyone could hope for…. I do as well.

As I wrote in an earlier post:

***I am fortunate to have friends that are willing to go all out for something that DC loves so much; we all took a line from that song and dressed appropriately for the Sing-A-Long. He and his friends had a ball and I think after the initial embarrassment, my friends did as well.***

DC and I are very fortunate to have these people in our life. I am not just talking about the sing-a-long we just attended, but in general, these people are just the best, THE BEST!

DC and his friend BB love Grease. BB is a long-time fan, DC became a fan because of him. When I heard the local theater had scheduled a Grease Sing-A-Long, I knew we just had to attend. Everyone agreed to attend and then I proceeded to harass them for months about costumes. I will admit that I can be a little bit high pressure when it comes to costumes (just a little bit), but I am sure they expected it and if they didn’t, they put up with me anyway. I am sure the last thing the adults wanted to do was to wear a costume again (Halloween is over, can’t we get a break?) but they agreed.

But…. did they expect to be wearing toilet paper rolls? I doubt it. I think they actually thought I was joking when I first brought it up. They quickly realized that I never joke about costumes so the “roll collection” process began. BB and his Mom, Donna were not able to attend the Sound of Music event with us, so as BB was looking forward to wearing his “Grease Garb”, I don’t think Donna realized that she would also be in costume as well until about a week before the event.

We collected our toilet paper and paper towel rolls and headed to Tonya’s house one Sunday afternoon. Tonya being the craft genius and glue gun wizard, was able to figure out just how to do this.

Talk about “Above and Beyond”; she sat there for hours gluing toilet paper rolls to foam strips! All that we had to do was supply our heads.

Glue Gun Wizard

Glue Gun Wizard

They looked fantastic! They were unexpectedly comfortable too!

We headed out to the theater on Thursday night in single-digit weather – not wanting coats to muck up the costumes – it was COLD! We had 10 seats in the first row of the upper orchestra section. Coincidentally a friend of mine had the rest of the seats in that row! Together, we made the best row of costumes there (my opinion only, but I firmly believe this to be true 🙂 ).

We sang, we danced, we had many, many photos taken of us as a group and of us with strangers. We were interviewed and photographed by the local news paper. Those under the delusion they would not be noticed, were wrong.
The “kids” had so much fun singing, dancing and using the props provided by the theater. They just ate up all of the attention they were getting.
The adults had a great time, singing and dancing as well..

except for this guy……..

Except this guy - Grease Sing A Long - Beauty School Drop Out

Except this guy – Grease Sing A Long – Beauty School Drop Out

Those still under the delusion of anonymity, had that shattered when they were plastered all over the news on Saturday.

 

 

The Theater's Facebook Page

The Theater’s Facebook Page

The Theater's Facebook Page

The Theater’s Facebook Page

 

 

As the show was on a Thursday night and not on a weekend, we weren’t able to go out to eat in full dress afterwards – this had to be some consolation to the adults anyway……

But all joking aside, we did have a wonderful time. I can’t say enough about all of them.

Walking around in public wearing toilet paper rolls….

the truest measure of friendship….

Thanks to all of you!

*Thanks to my friend *Al at work, who always comes up with a fantastic photo of our outings

Easing my “Elf Envy” with ornaments and clues….

DC is most definitely what I would call the ultimate ornament collector. In 2013, I decided that I would start hiding them around the house to make receiving new ornaments more interesting and to ease the “Elf Envy” I was feeling by not participating in the whole Elf on the Shelf thing.

He did so well with the random hunting of ornaments by the end of that season that last year I decided to make it even more interesting by leaving clues instead of just hiding the ornaments for him to happen upon. It took a little while for him to get it, but he did and I think he had some fun with the hunt.

Below is a post from 2014 – our first attempt at hunting ornaments with clues. We have already begun our hunt this season and at this point, really all I have to say is “Here’s a clue” and he knows there is an ornament to be found somewhere.

Ornament Hunt 2014 (and one Elf on the Shelf)

As I wrote in an earlier post (There’s no elf on our shelf), I do not do the whole elf on a shelf thing with DC, but last year we did start a new tradition of hiding and hunting for the numerous ornaments he receives each year before Christmas.
Last year being the trial run, I discovered he was just not noticing them as I assumed he would, so I began writing notes each time I hid an ornament. By Christmas he was getting the hang of it. This year I decided I would not only leave a note, but also a clue. Coming up with clues that he would understand was not easy and I have to admit my clues need work – below is our 2014 Ornament Hunt –
Complete with some pretty terrible clues – so don’t judge.

#1 Elsa hidden on the shelf of his DVD cabinet

frozen

 

There is a new ornament for you to find.. I hid it very well. If you should find it after you watch your movies, please give me a yell”

(he thinks I’m funny, anyway)

 ~That was the last attempt in rhyming for the season.

#2 Mary Poppins in the silverware drawer.
poppins

There is a new ornament to be found: Just a SPOONFUL of Sugar helps the Medicine go down. What do you use to help the medicine go down?”

#3 Baloo and Mogli on the towel hook

Mogli

He found Baloo and Mogli before I had the chance to leave a clue….

#4 Tinkerbell in the drawer

Tink

Oh No! Tink is stuck in the bedroom drawer!”

Yes, I thought I was just giving this one away. I thought so anyway…. As it turns out, because I didn’t mention an ornament in the note – he read it, put the paper down and went about his business. When I finished laughing, I explained that he had to look for his new Tinkerbell ornament.

#5 Sully hanging on the lamp

photo1

 Sully must be very “BRIGHT” to attend Monsters University. Where is it Bright in the living room?”

It was right here that it finally clicked. He read it (no mention of an ornament) thought about it and without me having to help, looked around at the Christmas tree lights, moved on to the lamps and found it.

—–Progress, Progress, Progress——

#6 Ruby Slippers on his bedroom shelf

angel

 

Cordelia clicked her heels three times in Pylea “There’s no place like home” she said.

It didn’t work.

Who went to Pylea to save Cordelia?”

He understood the question and gave me an answer – he was really beginning to get this. The only prompting I had to give was “Do we have Angel and Lorne somewhere in our house?”

(Unfortunately, our Lorne lost his head after his last fall from the shelf, but in keeping with the theme of the hunt; he did actually lose his head temporarily while the gang was in Pylea. He just had much better luck getting it back in Pylea than he did in DC’s room)

#7 An Elf of a shelf

buddy

Your ornament is

L O S T

so take a look around to find Buddy the Elf sitting on a shelf.

Where is the L O S T shelf in the living room?”

First, let me say – There is an elf on the shelf.

Secondly, I thought this clue might be a stretch for him. That DVD set has been on this same shelf since the show went off the air. This in no way means that DC notices it at all, but I gave it a shot.

Believe it or not, he went right to it. I am always amazed by the things he notices when I think he is paying no attention at all.

#8 Brady Bunch on the wall

bb

 

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow And they knew it was much more than a hunch, That this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the Brady ‘Bump’.

Where does Doug do the ‘Brady BUMP’?”

This one needs a little it of an explanation….. Doug sings this song, he’s done it for years. He sings the Brady Bunch theme but replaces Brady Bunch with Brady Bump and crashes into the wall.

– insert my eyes rolling –

DC thinks it is the funniest thing in the world and asks him ‘crash and repeat’ – over and over again.

“One more time!”

– insert eyes rolling and head shaking –

This happens to be the spot where the singing and the wall where the crashing takes place more often than not.

-insert,  as DC would say, “Mom, put hand to face” (hand on forehead, as in OMG), shaking head, heavy sigh and eye roll-

Again he went right to the spot. Once it all clicked, it clicked!

#9 TARDIS on the clock

who

 

Dr. Who is a T I M E Lord. – He and the TARDIS traveled through T I M E hoping for a spot on your tree.

Where can we find the T I M E?”

I am 100% positive he would have gotten this with the clue I left. I hid this ornament while he was out with Mrs. H. at his theater volunteer Christmas Party and forgotten about it by the time they arrived home, when I would have guided him to the clue before he had the chance to run around putting his things away.

He spotted it and went over to take it down. I said “Oh, you didn’t get to read the clue”, so of course, he put it back. I told him he didn’t have to put it back, but all things in order; he went and read the clue out loud, then went back to claim his ornament.

#10 Princess Merida in the TARDIS

brave

Princess Merida must be very BRAVE to take a ride with DR. WHO, ROSE and K-9 in the TARDIS.

Where is ROSE and the TARDIS?”

I realized that I did not think this one through completely – He just received a TARDIS ornament a few days before. I was sure he would head straight to the ornament now hanging on the tree. I was correct in my assumption, he went to the tree. After a little bit of prompting “But where else do we have the TARDIS? Where is Rose and K-9?” , he did find it.

I still felt he should still have a few to just happen upon as he did or as I tried to have him do last year, hidden in places that I knew he would go eventually.

Trial run of 2013, over. I am declaring the 2014  Ornament Hunt a success!

Just to update you on my friends’ progress this year. As I said, if I am not going to do it, they very well better be creative about their elf!

~ Yes, it is hard to be my friend……..

Year 2 of  “The harassment of *Al” – my constant badgering to hide elf in a Rice Krispies box. (I’d seen photos, I e-mailed, texted and showed him photos and nothing). Finally he decided he would use this as one of his Elf setups. Geez!

He texted his wife while she was out shopping and asked her to buy Rice Krispies. She replied that she had Crispy Rice. He told her he wanted the real Rice Krispies. She asked why and he said he wanted to make Rice Krispie(s) treats. (Why he wouldn’t tell her what he really wanted them for, I do not know).

She bought Crispie Rice.

I told him that I had just seen a photo of someone using a Crispie Rice box, I had actually e-mailed it to him a few days before, but he said it would not be the same.

The following morning when I was getting DC’s breakfast ready it occurred to me that I had a box of the ‘real’ Rice Krispies, so I took the cereal out and brought him the empty box.

krispies

And there you have it!

*Geri has also done a few very creative things with Derek the Elf, but still being in the training portion of the program, she has not gotten the hang of remembering to take a photo of everything Derek gets himself into.

~Maybe next year

The Santa Train revisited….

train s

December, is the time for reruns. I love reruns, especially holiday reruns. The following is a post from December 2014 about the important lesson DC and BB learned while riding the Santa Train.

******

Lessons learned on the “Santa Train”

train

(Code word of the day: “Supplement”)

The other day, I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Autism-Mom. The post, FEELING THE MAGIC was about her son questioning the existence of Santa Claus. Give it a read if you have a minute, it is wonderful.

As parents, we all come to this crossroad sooner or later. It is a sad milestone. It begins to be difficult for them to understand and believe in something that they can not see. Sure we see Santa and his helpers quite often during the months before Christmas, but never during his Christmas Eve deliveries. This causes our children to question his existence. Why can’t they see him? Why must they be asleep? As I explained to DC, Santa has a job to do. If he took the time to stop and visit with the children in every house he delivered gifts to, even with his magic, he would never be able to finish in time to get back to the North Pole to celebrate Christmas with Mrs. Claus and the elves.

It took DC many years to understand Santa. He knew he would receive gifts, but the whole idea of Santa was not something that could be understood easily. His not understanding, did not stop Santa from leaving him gifts.

When it finally clicked and he did finally get it, he was all in! Now that he does understand, he would never and will never question his existence.

The one problem was, DC ‘s Christmas requests have always been small (in size) gifts. Santa could very well bring him 20 DVD’s, but the pile of gifts (visually) would be very small. DC doesn’t understand cost/size vs. number of gifts. He expects a very big pile of gifts. So, over the years I would always “supplement” the Santa pile with gifts of my own.

Being a single mother for more than 20 years now, I am the sole “supplement-or” (yes, I know that is not a word) of DC’s gifts. Which means I not only “add” to what Santa brings just to make the pile look more exciting for DC, but I also, of course, have to buy additional gifts from ‘Mom’. This gets to be a little bit overwhelming for me, not only in cost, but in trying to come up with other gifts ideas to make that “pile” he needs to see.

Now that DC is an adult, and the items he asks for are smaller still, it is becoming harder and harder to “supplement” Santa’s  gifts, to make that Christmas gift pile”,  I did finally have to confess to him that some parents, with adult children, have to help Santa out a little bit. Santa has so many little children to deliver packages to on Christmas Eve, that it is hard for him to get to everyone. So now that the is an adult, Santa only delivers his stocking and the rest of the gifts in his pile are from Mom. Santa always did a pretty good job with his stocking, by the way. He was fine with this. As long as Santa is coming, even just to bring a stocking, all is well.

Coincidentally, the morning I read the post from Autism-Mom, was the day that DC, his best friend, BB, BB’s Dad, Doug and I were going to take a ride on the Santa train.

Earlier this week, BB had just been told by one of his other friends that he was too old and should not still believe in Santa. He was upset by this, but BB knew better. He knew he was correct in believing.

Both DC and BB were very excited about riding the train. They always have the best time when they are together anyway.

stst2

Santa boarded the train a few minutes into our trip. He received more hugs that he expected, I imagine.

BB mentioned to Santa, what his friend had said to him that week. Santa took a little bit of time to talk about it with BB and DC.

(This video below is very poor quality – it was dark on the Santa train, but you can hear some the conversation and Santa’s advice to BB)

“Those who don’t believe, well they are the one’s that are missing out” ~ Santa Claus

So there you have it, straight from Santa’s mouth. BB felt much better. He knew it before but now he really knows that he was right all along…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still no elf on our shelf

In observance of the official start of the Christmas season (in DC’s eyes, anyway) – the day that the tree must go up and his hundreds of ornaments hung anywhere he can fit them; is a post from the same time last year. Although, much to my surprise DC did pick out an Elf on the Shelf ornament for the tree further into the season last year – there is still no Elf on our shelf.

THERE IS NO ELF ON OUR SHELF….

I have never attempted  “Elf on the Shelf” with DC. It looks like fun but I am not quite sure that he would “get it”, and if he did, I would be terrified to ruin the whole thing by forgetting to move the elf every day.  Unfortunately, the anxiety of forgetting is still never a guarantee that I will remember when it was time for Elf to move to a different spot. Then,  as *Geri said to me on Wednesday, “I don’t know where I put Derek the Elf last year. I have to find him by tomorrow” – I would always be in that same boat – I am notorious for putting things away that are never to be seen again.

Not participating does not stop me from harassing my two co-workers with clever photos of Elf ideas that I come across. If I am not going to do this, then they darn well better get creative about it for their kids. I mean someone should use the ideas that I would have used if Elf lived in our house, right?

(please pass the “pressure”)

Last year, Elf seemed to be everywhere. I do not know if it had become more popular or if it was due to the fact that two of my friends/co-workers, *Al and *Geri were elf’ing it for their children and that many of my instagram friends were posting daily photos of elf and his/her activities at their house. Whatever the reason, I found myself feeling guilty not having done this for DC.

After thinking about it for a while, trying to come up with something else to do in place of Elf, something that didn’t depend 100% on my memory –  I thought about his love for Christmas ornaments and our annual “ornament ritual” and came up with an idea.

DC loves ornaments. He always did. When I come across an ornament of a character, book, food or object that he loves, I buy it and save it for Christmas. Our tree generally goes up the day after Thanksgiving. DC loves going through all of his ornaments and hanging them on the tree. He is at the point now where he can unwrap and hang them all himself. He has accumulated so many  over the years that there is no longer room for any other ornaments on the tree – my Star Trek collection has not seen the light of day in many years.

Kirk, out!

Depending on the amount of ornaments I have stockpiled ahead of time each year, one is placed under the tree every few days. DC knows that if the gift is wrapped in aluminum foil, he has permission to open it.

I decided I might try hiding the ornaments around the house every few days. In making up this new tradition, there were no rules and appointed times that I needed to adhere to. I decided I would not tell him about this hunt, but I would hide the fist one or two new ornaments in places where he could not possibly miss seeing them, until he got used to not finding them under the tree.

I hid the first ornament on the shower rod, knowing there was no way possible that he could miss this. If he didn’t see it the second he walked into the bathroom, then he would definitely see it the moment he looked in the mirror. There was no way he could ever miss this ornament!

popcorn

He missed it……

It hung there the entire day. He even took a shower and did not notice it. Finally I had to tell him that I thought I saw a new ornament hanging in the bathroom – only then did he find it.

I hid a new ornament the following day. It was sitting right on top of the shoe basket. One of the first things DC does when he walks in the house is take his shoes off. There was no way he would not see this one.

glass slipper

He didn’t…….

This was not going as well as I expected. He was happy as he always is to receive a new ornament, but the whole surprise of just happening upon a new ornament was not what I’d hoped it would be. I just about had to point them out to him. I could have just continued on with the ‘aluminum foil package under the tree’ tradition.

I decided I would leave a note each time there was an ornament to be found.

This helped in his search, but still,  the ornaments that were right out in the open and visible seemed to be the most difficult for him to find.

pinocio

 

bazingarescuers

For a child that never misses anything, he was missing a lot.

Even odder – the ornaments that were hidden well out of plain sight, were found almost immediately, before reading the notes or clues. He went right for them.

cupfrozen

hooksnowBy the time Christmas rolled around and the last ornament was hidden and found, he had finally gotten the hang of it. He was having fun with it.

ariel

So, we’ll chalk last year up to a ‘trial run’. Here’s hoping this year I can get a little bit more creative with the hiding places and maybe leave clues instead of plain old notes. But still, our new tradition is not Elf on the Shelf – funny how these silly, little things can make one feel so guilty.

My stockpile this year does include a “Buddy the Elf” ornament which will be hidden on the shelf.

 

That counts, right?

 

***

(this post was originally run in November 2014)

 

 

 

If you knew…. Peggy Sue..

DC is not always a fountain of information. Most of the time it is very difficult pulling information out of him.
A few weeks ago, he left for his volunteer job at a local theater at 5:00pm (with his job coach, Mrs. H.). Volunteers have to arrive 2 hours before show time to put the programs together for that performance and to get their assignments for that evening. DC is almost always assigned as a greeter – he passes out the programs to the audience members as they walk in and recites his line “Enjoy the show”.
At the beginning of each season, when I have to pick the dates he is available to work, the name of the show is not available – probably because they do not want the volunteers to choose only by what show they may want to see. I also have to work around his schedule and Mrs. H’s schedule, so I am really just looking at dates and nothing else. This particular show, as it turned out was Alton Brown from the Food Network. When their beginning of the show greeting duties are over, many times the volunteers are able to sit and see a good portion of the show.

At 9:45 I received a text from Mrs. H. I assumed it would say that they were on their way home, but no…. it said “We’re still here”. They finally arrived home at 11:00PM – After being there for 6 hours, the only information he gave me was:
“A man making ice cream” – that was all he had to say…
My friend Bill responded to my non-information post with:
“I LOVE it, with all that Alton does and his wild energy, DC found the most memorable part of Alton’s show! You could start a new Blog called “DC’s Cliff Notes of Live shows at the theater!” I love how our guys and gals simplify what they see and hear into something that is truthful & concise!”
So true….. and I may just do that, but the reviews just may be very short.

DC, his best friend BB and I had tickets for the Buddy Holly Story yesterday. DC did work the performance the night before, but he was excited to see the show again with BB.

On Saturday morning, DC was concerned due to all of the snow that had already fallen (5 inches) when we woke up:
tembling

Despite the snow, we made it.

They both just loved the show. They had a great time.
buddy holly

This morning, DC was full of information and chatter about the ‘wonderful’ time he had yesterday. I was there but he was determined to tell me about it anyway, and I’ll take it…. it was unprompted information.

So in DC’s words, his review of his day:

I had a nice time last ‘even-ing’.
I went to see Buddy Holly Story with my friend BB.
We danced and danced and danced.


We had a scared of fright – jump up – PHEW!
America the Beautiful favorite song.
I went to dinner and Donna and John and Mom – me too!
Perfect!

Translation:
“We had a scared of fright – jump up – PHEW!”
Fortunately we had box seats as DC jumped up as if he could not control himself any longer, to dance. I mentioned to him later that he scared me because he jumped up so fast. He was using part of his favorite phrase “You gave me a fright” from the Lindsay Lohan version of the “Parent Trap”.

“America the Beautiful favorite song”
DC does have a love for all patriotic songs. He even has a sign language dvd of only patriotic songs, but I suspect that he chose it as his favorite from the show because it was really the only song he was familiar with.

“I went to dinner and Donna and John and Mom – me too!”
Because the snow was supposed to be much worse than it turned out to be, BB’s mom offered to drop us off as her car is much better in the snow than mine is. We all went out to dinner afterwards.

So there you have it, DC’s review of his day. I know he had a great time as he is still talking about it.

As for the “blind scheduling” method for volunteers at the theater, I just received DC’s schedule for the second half of the season. The first show he is scheduled to work is “50 Shades, the Musical Parody”.

I think DC and Mrs. H will be hanging out in the lobby for that one………….

Ornament Hunt 2014 (and one Elf on the Shelf)

As I wrote in an earlier post (There’s no elf on our shelf), I do not do the whole elf on a shelf thing with DC, but last year we did start a new tradition of hiding and hunting for the numerous ornaments he receives each year before Christmas.
Last year being the trial run, I discovered he was just not noticing them as I assumed he would, so I began writing notes each time I hid an ornament. By Christmas he was getting the hang of it. This year I decided I would not only leave a note, but also a clue. Coming up with clues that he would understand was not easy and I have to admit my clues need work – below is our 2014 Ornament Hunt –
Complete with some pretty terrible clues – so don’t judge.

#1 Elsa hidden on the shelf of his DVD cabinet

frozen

 

There is a new ornament for you to find.. I hid it very well. If you should find it after you watch your movies, please give me a yell”

(he thinks I’m funny, anyway)

 ~That was the last attempt in rhyming for the season.

#2 Mary Poppins in the silverware drawer.
poppins

There is a new ornament to be found: Just a SPOONFUL of Sugar helps the Medicine go down. What do you use to help the medicine go down?”

#3 Baloo and Mogli on the towel hook

Mogli

He found Baloo and Mogli before I had the chance to leave a clue….

#4 Tinkerbell in the drawer

Tink

Oh No! Tink is stuck in the bedroom drawer!”

Yes, I thought I was just giving this one away. I thought so anyway…. As it turns out, because I didn’t mention an ornament in the note – he read it, put the paper down and went about his business. When I finished laughing, I explained that he had to look for his new Tinkerbell ornament.

#5 Sully hanging on the lamp

photo1

 Sully must be very “BRIGHT” to attend Monsters University. Where is it Bright in the living room?”

It was right here that it finally clicked. He read it (no mention of an ornament) thought about it and without me having to help, looked around at the Christmas tree lights, moved on to the lamps and found it.

—–Progress, Progress, Progress——

#6 Ruby Slippers on his bedroom shelf

angel

 

Cordelia clicked her heels three times in Pylea “There’s no place like home” she said.

It didn’t work.

Who went to Pylea to save Cordelia?”

He understood the question and gave me an answer – he was really beginning to get this. The only prompting I had to give was “Do we have Angel and Lorne somewhere in our house?”

(Unfortunately, our Lorne lost his head after his last fall from the shelf, but in keeping with the theme of the hunt; he did actually lose his head temporarily while the gang was in Pylea. He just had much better luck getting it back in Pylea than he did in DC’s room)

#7 An Elf of a shelf

buddy

Your ornament is

L O S T

so take a look around to find Buddy the Elf sitting on a shelf.

Where is the L O S T shelf in the living room?”

First, let me say – There is an elf on the shelf.

Secondly, I thought this clue might be a stretch for him. That DVD set has been on this same shelf since the show went off the air. This in no way means that DC notices it at all, but I gave it a shot.

Believe it or not, he went right to it. I am always amazed by the things he notices when I think he is paying no attention at all.

#8 Brady Bunch on the wall

bb

 

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow And they knew it was much more than a hunch, That this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the Brady ‘Bump’.

Where does Doug do the ‘Brady BUMP’?”

This one needs a little it of an explanation….. Doug sings this song, he’s done it for years. He sings the Brady Bunch theme but replaces Brady Bunch with Brady Bump and crashes into the wall.

– insert my eyes rolling –

DC thinks it is the funniest thing in the world and asks him ‘crash and repeat’ – over and over again.

“One more time!”

– insert eyes rolling and head shaking –

This happens to be the spot where the singing and the wall where the crashing takes place more often than not.

-insert,  as DC would say, “Mom, put hand to face” (hand on forehead, as in OMG), shaking head, heavy sigh and eye roll-

Again he went right to the spot. Once it all clicked, it clicked!

#9 TARDIS on the clock

who

 

Dr. Who is a T I M E Lord. – He and the TARDIS traveled through T I M E hoping for a spot on your tree.

Where can we find the T I M E?”

I am 100% positive he would have gotten this with the clue I left. I hid this ornament while he was out with Mrs. H. at his theater volunteer Christmas Party and forgotten about it by the time they arrived home, when I would have guided him to the clue before he had the chance to run around putting his things away.

He spotted it and went over to take it down. I said “Oh, you didn’t get to read the clue”, so of course, he put it back. I told him he didn’t have to put it back, but all things in order; he went and read the clue out loud, then went back to claim his ornament.

#10 Princess Merida in the TARDIS

brave

Princess Merida must be very BRAVE to take a ride with DR. WHO, ROSE and K-9 in the TARDIS.

Where is ROSE and the TARDIS?”

I realized that I did not think this one through completely – He just received a TARDIS ornament a few days before. I was sure he would head straight to the ornament now hanging on the tree. I was correct in my assumption, he went to the tree. After a little bit of prompting “But where else do we have the TARDIS? Where is Rose and K-9?” , he did find it.

I still felt he should still have a few to just happen upon as he did or as I tried to have him do last year, hidden in places that I knew he would go eventually.

Trial run of 2013, over. I am declaring the 2014  Ornament Hunt a success!

Just to update you on my friends’ progress this year. As I said, if I am not going to do it, they very well better be creative about their elf!

~ Yes, it is hard to be my friend……..

Year 2 of  “The harassment of *Al” – my constant badgering to hide elf in a Rice Krispies box. (I’d seen photos, I e-mailed, texted and showed him photos and nothing). Finally he decided he would use this as one of his Elf setups. Geez!

He texted his wife while she was out shopping and asked her to buy Rice Krispies. She replied that she had Crispy Rice. He told her he wanted the real Rice Krispies. She asked why and he said he wanted to make Rice Krispie(s) treats. (Why he wouldn’t tell her what he really wanted them for, I do not know).

She bought Crispie Rice.

I told him that I had just seen a photo of someone using a Crispie Rice box, I had actually e-mailed it to him a few days before, but he said it would not be the same.

The following morning when I was getting DC’s breakfast ready it occurred to me that I had a box of the ‘real’ Rice Krispies, so I took the cereal out and brought him the empty box.

krispies

And there you have it!

*Geri has also done a few very creative things with Derek the Elf, but still being in the training portion of the program, she has not gotten the hang of remembering to take a photo of everything Derek gets himself into.

~Maybe next year

Not so “literally speaking”

We all know that DC is very literal (see Literally Speaking)  in his speech and way of thinking. Aside from his black and white,  no-gray-area way of communicating and understanding and his just one mumbled word responses, his manner of speaking is at times very formal, for lack of a better word. Much of his language stems directly from the many books he reads and movies he watches.
He calls the cabinet a ‘cub – board ‘ <cupboard> (emphasis on ‘board’), not because he thinks it is funny,  because that is what it is. That is what he’s learned from his books.

For example, when he knows I happen to have a Friday off from work and he wants me to come to lunch at his program –

“*Vickie, would you be so kind to join me for lunch on Friday at <insert the name of his program>” ~ the whole name please, not the Acronym used by the everyone else ~

 –  (*yes, he calls me Vickie from time to time. In his mind, he is an adult and that is what he should do. It does not bother me in the least. Last night, for some reason, it was “Ms. <Last name> and that is fine too)

He does ask me from time to time, what a word means, not that he will incorporate the word into his vocabulary, he would just like to know. Every once in a while he will make a connection with one word and other in his head. I am always in awe when he manages to do this on this own. This seems to be happening much more lately.

For many years “Wonderful” was his choice when he had a good time or liked something very much. He has started replacing “Wonderful” with “Terrific”. Not a huge deal, but he figured out that it means the same thing and it is a little less formal than “We had a wonderful time”.

A few weeks ago, I was telling DC that we were out of something, I don’t remember what it was at the time, but it was something he was expecting to have for dinner. I explained that we were all out,  it was my mistake, I didn’t know we were out (things tend to go over better with him when it is my fault :).

His reply???

“No problem”

NO PROBLEM!!!!!!

I have never heard him use that phrase, ever. Somewhere along the line he figured out what it means and used it appropriately.

A while back DC and I were having a movie night. DC was waiting in the living room to watch “Maleficent” and I was in the kitchen getting the pizza ready ~ actually I was in the kitchen bleeding all over the counter trying to find a Band-Aid. Not an easy task with “Mr. Band-Aid” in the house – but that is beside the point. Searching for a band-aid box that was not full of band-aid wrappers but no band-aids and mumbling under my breath –  from the living room I heard; “Gee, I wonder what Vickie is up to”.

GEE????

IS UP TO ???

I wrote that one down as soon as DC brought me a Band-Aid from his hidden stash.

In my last post you may have heard “We have to get moving”.

GET MOVING  instead of  we have to go!!!!

I asked him to help me open a Peanut Butter jar – he tried, but he could not get it to open either.

“It won’t budge”

BUDGE?????

Let’s not forget the day he was “in sympathy” for sneaking chips. There have been so many more, but you get the picture. It throws me a little bit every time he comes out with a new one, but it is exciting. It shows me that he is paying more attention to what goes on around him and he is listening to much more than he lets on.

There are still many literal, black and white moments and DC still very rarely refers to himself as “me”.

Recently at a Best Buddy walk, both of his Buddies asked him where he got the Star Trek shirt he was wearing…..

“DC’s room” 

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned on the “Santa Train”

train

(Code word of the day: “Supplement”)

The other day, I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Autism-Mom. The post, FEELING THE MAGIC was about her son questioning the existence of Santa Claus. Give it a read if you have a minute, it is wonderful.

As parents, we all come to this crossroad sooner or later. It is a sad milestone. It begins to be difficult for them to understand and believe in something that they can not see. Sure we see Santa and his helpers quite often during the months before Christmas, but never during his Christmas Eve deliveries. This causes our children to question his existence. Why can’t they see him? Why must they be asleep? As I explained to DC, Santa has a job to do. If he took the time to stop and visit with the children in every house he delivered gifts to, even with his magic, he would never be able to finish in time to get back to the North Pole to celebrate Christmas with Mrs. Claus and the elves.

It took DC many years to understand Santa. He knew he would receive gifts, but the whole idea of Santa was not something that could be understood easily. His not understanding, did not stop Santa from leaving him gifts.

When it finally clicked and he did finally get it, he was all in! Now that he does understand, he would never and will never question his existence.

The one problem was, DC ‘s Christmas requests have always been small (in size) gifts. Santa could very well bring him 20 DVD’s, but the pile of gifts (visually) would be very small. DC doesn’t understand cost/size vs. number of gifts. He expects a very big pile of gifts. So, over the years I would always “supplement” the Santa pile with gifts of my own.

Being a single mother for more than 20 years now, I am the sole “supplement-or” (yes, I know that is not a word) of DC’s gifts. Which means I not only “add” to what Santa brings just to make the pile look more exciting for DC, but I also, of course, have to buy additional gifts from ‘Mom’. This gets to be a little bit overwhelming for me, not only in cost, but in trying to come up with other gifts ideas to make that “pile” he needs to see.

Now that DC is an adult, and the items he asks for are smaller still, it is becoming harder and harder to “supplement” Santa’s  gifts, to make that Christmas gift pile”,  I did finally have to confess to him that some parents, with adult children, have to help Santa out a little bit. Santa has so many little children to deliver packages to on Christmas Eve, that it is hard for him to get to everyone. So now that the is an adult, Santa only delivers his stocking and the rest of the gifts in his pile are from Mom. Santa always did a pretty good job with his stocking, by the way. He was fine with this. As long as Santa is coming, even just to bring a stocking, all is well.

Coincidentally, the morning I read the post from Autism-Mom, was the day that DC, his best friend, BB, BB’s Dad, Doug and I were going to take a ride on the Santa train.

Earlier this week, BB had just been told by one of his other friends that he was too old and should not still believe in Santa. He was upset by this, but BB knew better. He knew he was correct in believing.

Both DC and BB were very excited about riding the train. They always have the best time when they are together anyway.

stst2

Santa boarded the train a few minutes into our trip. He received more hugs that he expected, I imagine.

BB mentioned to Santa, what his friend had said to him that week. Santa took a little bit of time to talk about it with BB and DC.

(This video below is very poor quality – it was dark on the Santa train, but you can hear some the conversation and Santa’s advice to BB)

“Those who don’t believe, well they are the one’s that are missing out” ~ Santa Claus

So there you have it, straight from Santa’s mouth. BB felt much better. He knew it before but now he really knows that he was right all along…

December reruns

Last week I wrote about DC anxiously awaiting “Peter Pan Live” on Thursday.

His anticipation of the production led me to remember the previous years production of the “Sound of Music Live”, which in turn led to a repeat my Sound of Music post from December 2013.

(By the way, DC’s review of “Peter Pan Live” – “Two eyes closed” – he fell asleep after only an hour… take from that what you will).

The “Sound of Music” post contained photos of a Sound of Music sing-a-long we attended with friends. That and the fact that DC had been watching “Grease” this weekend, led me to the “Grease – Sing – a – Long” we also attended.

Because everything is related and this is the way mind works…….

From March 2014:

“We Go Together……..

…like Ramma lamma lamma Ka dinga da dinga dong
Remembered forever like Shoo-wop sha whada whadda Yippidy boom da boom
Chang chang changity chang shoo bop That’s the way it should be
Waooo Yeah!”

GreaseSR

These Kids Rock! They really do!

That was originally all I intended to say. I wasn’t really considering writing about this, but……. as I was thinking about just how proud I am of each and every one of them and just how much DC and his friends just rise to the occasion and always have a great time together,  I just had to mention the fact that not only does DC have the best friends anyone could hope for…. I do as well.

As I wrote in an earlier post:

***I am fortunate to have friends that are willing to go all out for something that DC loves so much; we all took a line from that song and dressed appropriately for the Sing-A-Long. He and his friends had a ball and I think after the initial embarrassment, my friends did as well.***

DC and I are very fortunate to have these people in our life. I am not just talking about the sing-a-long we just attended, but in general, these people are just the best, THE BEST!

DC and his friend BB love Grease. BB is a long-time fan, DC became a fan because of him. When I heard the local theater had scheduled a Grease Sing-A-Long, I knew we just had to attend. Everyone agreed to attend and then I proceeded to harass them for months about costumes. I will admit that I can be a little bit high pressure when it comes to costumes (just a little bit), but I am sure they expected it and if they didn’t, they put up with me anyway. I am sure the last thing the adults wanted to do was to wear a costume again (Halloween is over, can’t we get a break?) but they agreed.

But…. did they expect to be wearing toilet paper rolls? I doubt it. I think they actually thought I was joking when I first brought it up. They quickly realized that I never joke about costumes so the “roll collection” process began. BB and his Mom, Donna were not able to attend the Sound of Music event with us, so as BB was looking forward to wearing his “Grease Garb”, I don’t think Donna realized that she would also be in costume as well until about a week before the event.

We collected our toilet paper and paper towel rolls and headed to Tonya’s house one Sunday afternoon. Tonya being the craft genius and glue gun wizard, was able to figure out just how to do this.

Talk about “Above and Beyond”; she sat there for hours gluing toilet paper rolls to foam strips! All that we had to do was supply our heads.

Glue Gun Wizard

They looked fantastic! They were unexpectedly comfortable too!

We headed out to the theater on Thursday night in single-digit weather – not wanting coats to muck up the costumes – it was COLD! We had 10 seats in the first row of the upper orchestra section. Coincidentally a friend of mine had the rest of the seats in that row! Together, we made the best row of costumes there (my opinion only, but I firmly believe this to be true 🙂 ).

We sang, we danced, we had many, many photos taken of us as a group and of us with strangers. We were interviewed and photographed by the local news paper. Those under the delusion they would not be noticed, were wrong.
The “kids” had so much fun singing, dancing and using the props provided by the theater. They just ate up all of the attention they were getting.
The adults had a great time, singing and dancing as well..

except for this guy……..

Except this guy - Grease Sing A Long - Beauty School Drop Out

Those still under the delusion of anonymity, had that shattered when they were plastered all over the news on Saturday.

The Theater's Facebook Page

The Theater's Facebook Page

As the show was on a Thursday night and not on a weekend, we weren’t able to go out to eat in full dress afterwards – this had to be some consolation to the adults anyway……

But all joking aside, we did have a wonderful time. I can’t say enough about all of them.

Walking around in public wearing toilet paper rolls….

the truest measure of friendship….

Thanks to all of you!

*Thanks to my friend *Al at work, who always comes up with a fantastic photo of our outings