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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devil Dogs, Root Beer and Memories of the Training School

I read a blog post recently which brought back some memories for me. The post, a good but sad read, written by Erik Weiner stayed with me for days (read the article here), as it reminded me of my step uncle’s brother, whom I met only once when I was young.

I am guessing that I was about 9 or 10 years old. One day, out of the blue my parents told my brother and I that we would be going out with our aunt and uncle. We had been sent to their house before for babysitting purposes but never for an “outing”.

They came to pick us up and we were told that we were going to take my uncle’s brother out to lunch. I knew my uncle had a sister. She lived right across the street from him and she and her family were there for every holiday. We were around her often enough to also call her Aunt and her husband, Uncle. Never had I heard any mention of a brother.

We pulled up to a very large building, really rows of buildings. My uncle went inside, while we waited in the car with my aunt. She told us that we could not go in because it wasn’t safe for us to be inside. I got a bit worried at that point.

I was and still am a terrible judge of age, but I am guessing that my aunt and uncle were somewhere in their 40’s. Eventually my uncle came out arm-in-arm with a man who seemed to be about the same age. They put him into the car, in the front seat between them. He was very excited to see us, it seemed, very excited – I was still a little bit afraid.

His name was Freddy. I don’t remember hearing him speak, I don’t think that he could. There were a lot of grunts and noises. He seemed so happy to be out and so happy with the Devil Dogs, his brother brought for him. I remember devil dog remnants being everywhere. My uncle was really good with him, which led me to believe that even though I had never heard mention of him and he was really not spoken about (that I knew of), this visit was not random. He was so good with him and prepared so for everything that I had to believe these visits were quite regular.

My aunt explained that Freddy was mentally challenged – of course back then they used different words, and could not take care of himself. This was why he lived at the “school”.

It did not take me long for my fear to subside and to warm up to him. I’m sure, now feeling comfortable and with my interest piqued, I asked far too many questions. I wanted to know what happened, how he got that way, why he didn’t know how to eat, why he couldn’t or didn’t talk. I don’t remember the exact answer I got to those questions, quite possibly because no answer they could give me would have been good enough of an explanation in my mind. It was probably that he was born that way.  This was confusing to me. I wanted to know if he lived there all of his life, why I never heard about him, why he didn’t come to family holidays, but was afraid to ask. I think this may have been my first experience with anyone with special needs.

We took Freddy for a drive and then stopped at A&W Root Beer for lunch. He really enjoyed that. A&W was close to the “school” where he lived so after lunch we drove back to bring him home.

I was glad that I has the opportunity to meet him. I really liked him. I am sorry to say that this was the first and last time that I ever saw him and I never heard him mentioned again. I didn’t feel comfortable asking about him but I always think of him when I see a devil dog or see an A&W Root Beer, or read an article like the one mentioned above and every time the “school” is mentioned. This was not residential housing or a group home, it was at the time, an institution, probably one of the few options available at the time. I believe it is still in operation today, whether or not it is still considered an institution, I do not know.

Now that  I am an adult, I understand that this is the way things were handled back then. This is where people like Freddy went to live. I also understand, after working in a convalescent home many years ago and from his reaction to us, that it probably wasn’t dangerous in the true sense of the word for us/children to have gone inside. It was probably more like the seniors at the convalescent home, who would get so excited, overly excited and sometimes frighteningly excited to see young children. I could be wrong about this, I have never been inside but that is the way I explained it to myself.

I am happy that I got over my fear quickly enough to enjoy the day with him.  I am sorry that times were as they were and parents were told that this was the only option for Freddy and people like him. I don’t know if Freddy ever lived at home, so I won’t say that this was the case with him, but it was the case with many children back in the day.

can say that Freddy did seem to be very happy and I developed a new appreciation for my uncle after seeing how kind and loving he was with him. I also imagine that Freddy might be the reason that my uncle always remembered DC on his birthday and holidays.

I can also say with certainty that I will never forget Freddy.

We sure do have some stories, don’t we?

stories

Last month I wrote a post All the….small things, based on a conversation with a friend of mine that included snippets from an old website we used to run. It turned out to be my most popular post in April.  As I was trying to get a few posts written and scheduled ahead of time to run while we were away on vacation and for the very busy week I expected after we arrived home, I decided to go back to the old website and post a few more snippets on an array of different subjects…. but mostly just plain funny stories.

“Some of the following blurbs are mine (DC was very young at the time) and some are from friends of mine”  but all of them show us that yes, we are all crawling in the dark at times – we certainly were back then and really still are to some extent – but there is always humor to be found. We might at times learn something valuable – but most of the time it is just plain funny.

More on Clothing Issues:

You don’t wear your clothes in the pool. If Mom says it’s okay to go in because we forgot the bathing suit (meaning it is okay to go in with your shorts on) you take off all of your clothes (in front of more than 20 people) faster than she can get up to stop you – and go in naked.

 You don’t wear your shoes in the water, so water shoes are out of the question.

You don’t go outside with your Pajama’s on, not even just to step out on to the porch to hold the door open for someone as they are pleading with you to hold the door while carrying the largest poinsettia plant ever grown. – Forget it if there happens to be a fire!

 Literally Speaking:

 My 6 year old plays on a T-ball league for children with special needs. The Coach, in his infinite wisdom, coaching a bunch of 6 year olds who have probably never played baseball before – continued to yell “Choke Up”. My son proceeded to clear his throat each time the Coach gave this direction!

A Kindergartner whose family was moving out of the school district mid-year, wrote a good-bye letter to her teacher. She wanted to tell her how much she will miss her. They had been working very hard on sounding out words in class so she sounded out her letter to her favorite teacher, Mrs. Sheat. She began with: 

“Deer Mrs SH#T”(use your imagination)………

 My son and I were in the kitchen picking out one of those little boxes of cereal to take on a long car ride.  When we came across “Honey Smacks”, he wondered out loud, “Why don’t they call those butt smacks – those hiney smacks…..?”  Needless to say I could not speak – I was convulsed with laughter – I had never realized that he thought the word “Honey” was “Hiney” all this time.  But I could see how he came to that conclusion after examining the picture of the cereal on the box!

butt2

 Random Funnies:

While driving to church at Christmas time, my daughter decided it was not fair that Christmas was only one day while Hanukah was eight full days.

“Mom, why can’t we be Jewish?”.

My second daughter piped in immediately “We can’t be Jewish! We’re decaffeinated!”

My son likes to help. At times he can become overly helpful……..like the time he removed all the bamboo stakes from the tomato plants (all twenty of them,) and put the stakes back in the shed where they belong, vines and all.

or…. the time he decided to “weed” the vegetable bed and pulled everything out – weeds, veggies, everything green –  then proceeded to dispose of them in the swimming pool…clumps of dirt and all.

He will also dismantle any rock wall I construct and move the rocks to their original pile in back of the shed.

Recently while grocery shopping I asked my son, to get me some orange juice. Feeling so proud that I would ask him – off he went (with his older brother just a few short steps behind him). As his brother watched in amazement, my youngest son climbed up into the cooler and stretched his arm out so far as if he was searching for something. When my oldest son came to his aid he asked “what are you doing in the cooler with your hand stuck in there?” His reply was “I’m trying to reach Florida”  – TV Strikes Again….

My son was dying to be in the Christmas play at our church. He got the part of one of the Three Kings.

Apparently he did not understand that he had to stand on the stage in front of the whole church when he took the part, until the night they were getting ready to perform. He tried to beg out at the last minute, but his father insisted that he perform.

My son searched for the largest crown he could find. When he took the stage, he stood there with the crown down over his face to his neck, throughout the entire play.

crown

Many thanks to all of my friends that contributed so many years ago.

All the…. small things

stacking Pizza and writing notes

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night at a Winter Guard Event. She was relating a story about how she had written a note to her daughter’s staff listing the items – the only items, her daughter was allowed to purchase that day. Her daughter added an item to that note and handed it in hoping no one would notice the addition.

Of course she was caught because the handwriting did not match, but my first reaction to the story was “That is SO Cool!”. Another friend agreed that it was fantastic. My friend laughed and of course knew that it was really an accomplishment, but you know…..she had to be the mother. She had to at least pretend to be mortified.

Much like when DC stacks 3 slices of pizza on top of each other thinking I will actually believe that he has only one piece -I have to be impressed. He thought it out and came up with that scam by himself – but on the other hand, I have to be the mother and tell him that it is wrong to be so sneaky and to lie.

I told her that if DC tried something like that, it would definitely be a blog post and even though it was not DC this time, a post it is.

This conversation reminded me of an old web-site my friends and I used to run, many years ago – probably 15 years ago when our children were young. One section of the site was titled:

The milestones WE Celebrate

Some might find our celebrations odd, but they are ours. We celebrate every advancement and every achievement, even if the achievement is something that most parents would frown upon – we do not. To us – it is progress.

Some of the following blurbs are mine (DC was very young at the time) and some are from friends of mine, but they were all very important achievements for us at the time.

So…. here are some of The Milestones WE Celebrated many years ago:

Your son whacks his Little League Coach in the head with a bat.  Both you and the Coach are thrilled because this was the first time he attempted to swing at ANYTHING!

You attend your Parent/Teacher conference: Your son’s teacher jubilantly announces that your son and his friend were cheating from each other’s papers. You are as thrilled as she is, because this means he finally realized (on his own) he was supposed to be doing something other than just sitting there – and also figured out, ON HIS OWN, how and where to find out just what it is he was supposed to be doing.

 It was a “bittersweet” morning when I discovered that almost all my “sled” ornaments from the Christmas tree had been crushed on the floor.  We were surprised to discover that my son was the culprit. While we watched,  he carefully removed a sled, (which are many),..gingerly placed it on the floor and then ever so slowly sat on it! I was dismayed that our collection was reduced to only the few left “on higher ground” but thrilled he finally realized what a sled is for!!

My son began saying “shut up” all of a sudden and quite often. I realized that he picked it up from Princess Diaries. I knew he had no idea what it really meant, but still, he continued to say it.
Last night he was in the car with one of his friends. His friend generally starts talking as soon as he gets in the car and the blue streak continues during the entire ride. On this particular ride my son turned to him and said “Shut Up”.
His friend’s mother called me on the phone immediately, very excited because she knew that it meant my son actually figured out what the word meant.

My son loves bread, more than just about any food. A few days ago, a friend of mine baked bread for Christmas gifts. She delivered two loaves to our house, one Cinnamon and the other was a small ‘personal size’ loaf of plain bread. We immediately had to make toast when he saw the Cinnamon bread.  Later, when he was giving me his breakfast order (which he does every night before bed), he requested the “Elf Bread”. Not really understanding what he meant, he went to the counter to show me the little ‘personal size’ loaf of bread – “Elf Bread!”

 

The forging of notes and the stacking of pizza would certainly have a place in the top 10 if we were ever to compile a new, updated list……

March Flashback -“A Little Bit of Faith” and Happy Birthday, Mrs. F!

March is normally a very busy month for us. DC and I are both March “babies” and as you may (or you may not) know, DC views his birthday as if it were a National Holiday – I admit that I might be a bit guilty of planting that thought into his head ….. just a bit.

Other than the birthday observations/festivities, the theater season is in full swing so he is volunteering there more often than he does the rest of the year.

We are also right in the middle of Winter Guard season.

Winter Guard season runs from January through mid-April with an additional show in June at the Special Olympics Summer Games Opening Ceremonies.

The friends and family show is always the first show of the season. So far this season at least 3, possibly 4 practices have been cancelled due to the never-ending snow we have been cursed with this winter. So many rehearsals were cancelled that the team was still putting this routine together 15 minutes before this show began on Monday. This team and their coaches were still able to pull it together and put on a great show!  This show will continue to evolve and change right up to the last show  in June.

(This video was cartooned (cartoonized?) to ensure the anonymity of the participants)

2015 Friends and Family Show – ROAR –

 

 

The following is a piece of a post from September 2014  – Secrets, Surprises, a Little Bit of Faith and Pizza…………” and this year I will be sure to post it on time! Happy Birthday, Mrs. F. – Last year’s story but right on time for this year.

                                                               “A Little Bit of Faith”

The Guard

This past February all of the Winter Guard parents were asked to contribute a short story or memory about our Winter Guard Director. She would be celebrating her “-Mumble, mumble -th” Birthday in March. Her son wanted to put together a book of memories for her.

DC has been a participant with this special needs Winter Guard team for 8 or 9 years. He really loves it, even though at first he had a really tough time focusing and rarely did anything close to the moves that everyone else was doing. He didn’t care. He wanted to wave his flag. He has improved very much over the years and still enjoys participating. He loves the performances most of all. He loves the attention –  he loves the applause. He is the only one to take a bow while the rest of the team is in the “end of performance” pose. (I am sure there is a proper and official name for that, but “end of performance pose” is the best I can do)

I wrote up my memory, DC drew a picture and we sent it along to the director’s son. Had I been really thinking, I would not have told DC about the birthday. It was still 3 weeks away and DC is always very excited about birthdays. DC also does not understand  “surprise” or  “secret”. Knowing this, I was very concerned that DC would give it all away.  He did not, not for lack of trying, but he did not.

I saved the story to post at a later date, after her birthday so as not to ruin the surprise. My mind, being the steel trap that it is, filed it and forgot to post it. It took me six months to realize I had not posted the piece.

So……

A very Happy Birthday, “Mrs. F”!

 

The one event that always sticks out in my mind is the High School Ice Cream Social performance in 2011. The performance was a last-minute addition to the Team’s schedule. Being so last-minute, many of the Buddies were not available to perform with our children.

The Team had never rehearsed, never mind performed without their Buddies before, so this was something totally out of their comfort zone. But there we were anyway, with 3 buddies. Mrs. F. had faith that they would be able to do this. I am not sure that many of the parents had as much faith, but Mrs. F. did.

There was a little bit of time to do a few quick rehearsals before the show but as I said, this was a very new experience for them – a few quick rehearsals without their buddies would be like starting from scratch. Mrs. F. gave them a pep talk before and after each run-though and made it very clear to all of them that they could do this! 

She gathered them around for one more pep talk before they went out to perform. She believed in them so they believed in themselves. They knew they could do this!

And they DID! The show went off without a hitch. They gave a fabulous performance! How proud they were to be able to do this without help! Mrs. F. had faith and in turn, so did the team (and the parents)……  All it took was a little bit of faith…….. And THANK YOU for the faith you have in, and the encouragement you give to our children!

Happy Birthday

 

 

There is no one better! Thank you for everything you do……..

 

Kudos to Brian, Mrs. F., Laura and Kelsey! Each season and show is more complicated than the season before and there have been so many times I thought “How is he going to remember THAT? He will never be able to do that!”, but he does as does the rest of the team. It is an impressive organization.  They never say never and always seem to know just how much they can expect from this team. They never underestimate just what our “kids” can do.

(This video was cartooned (cartoonized?) to ensure the anonymity of the participants)

Video from 2014 Opening Ceremonies….

 

 

2014 Show – “Just the way you are” – Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies

(so sorry for the quality and please Turn Up the Volume!)

 

 

 

 

Later: The rest of the post………………. Secrets, Surprises and Pizza…………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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……………