The Sonia Show

Writer. Mocker. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.


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Halloween and the cutest UPS driver

Yeah, so, this was the first year that my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin actually got a little excited about Halloween.

I mean, it wasn’t your typical nonstop talk of costumes and candy. BUT, for the first time, he put on a costume, understood it was a costume and actually liked it. In previous years, we dressed up Calvin in shit we wanted him to wear, because he didn’t care. And the “costume” had to practically not be a costume. It just had to a shirt and pants. No crazy hats, no masks, no weird superhero padded suits. So, he was Captain Kirk a few times, and last year he was Batman, because I found some cute Batman footie pajamas at Target.

This year, my mighty, mighty good man David came up with the brilliant idea of really trying to pick something that Calvin would like. Calvin is not into comic book movies or Pokemon, or any lot of the other costumes that kids want to wear. He likes Curious George, Daniel Tiger and the “Toy Story” movies, but he doesn’t want to dress up as those characters. Believe me, we tried.

Here’s what Calvin loves: trains, buses, cars, trucks and ceiling fans. Finally, David settled on getting Calvin a UPS delivery man costume. Calvin knows who that is, and he likes them. I knew he would never carry a package around with him, so I ordered him a little UPS truck to carry around.

On Halloween, I walked him to the school bus. I had the costume and truck in his backpack for the school’s Halloween parade. While we were waiting for the bus, I decided to give it a shot. I took the UPS truck out of his backpack.

“It’s a mail truck! Can I have it?” he asked.

“Of course. AND, I have something else you might like,” I told him. I took the UPS shirt out of his bag and asked him if I could put it on him. “It’s a mail truck driver shirt.”

He put it on, and he started jumping around excitedly.

“I’m a mail truck driver! I’m a mail truck driver!”

He even wore the hat, you guys!

He wore the costume all day. He walked in the school’s Halloween parade. He trick or treated that night.

We trick or treat on Chenery in Glen Park. It’s just a few blocks from our house, and the entire street goes all out. Tons of decorations, eager people on their porches with tons of candy (and wine for the adult trick or treaters like me).

Every adult loved Calvin’s costume, because all adults love to see the UPS delivery person. And, he’s such a polite trick or treater. At every house he said says, “Trick or treat,” and takes one piece of candy. He smells it before he puts in his bucket, because he wants the chocolate. (Sadly, that means no Smarties for me. Dammit!)

“Thank you very much,” he says. Most of the time, because he is so polite, people give him extra candy. Maybe that’s part of his master plan.

Then, after a few blocks of trick or treating, he decided he had enough candy.

“Let’s go look at the fans,” he said. “I’m all done.”

So, we walked over to the businesses on Diamond and checked out a few ceiling fans. Some people offered him candy, assuming he was still trick or treating.

“No, thank you,” he replied. They would look at us so confused. They looked like this.

What kid turns down candy? Our kid. It’s one of the many things that’s so fuckin’ awesome about him.

A few other random Halloween things …

We went to our friend Roger’s birthday party/Halloween party, and we dressed up as the carpet from “The Shining.” It’s probably the scariest costume I’ve ever worn.

But on Halloween proper, I decided to wear this cute Halloween dress I bought on Think Geek for about $25. It’s got black cats and pumpkins on it. I decided to wear a wig, and it turned into a Sonia S. Pumpkins costume.

The UPS driver and Sonia S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

Close up of the wig, glasses and dress (dress from Think Geek).

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The Sixth Sense

Yeah, so, today is my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin’s 6th birthday. He’s 6 years old, you guys!

Let’s all celebrate by re-reading the story about how I evicted him from my uterus.

#priorities by David

People assume that when you have a kid that you’ve always wanted a kid. The truth is I wasn’t one of those people. I wasn’t really interested in having children until I met my mighty, mighty good man David. He said he wanted kids, and I said, “Yeah. You’d be a great dad. Let’s do this.” That answer surprises people, but really, what the fuck else was I doing that was so important? “Meh. I’ve got a DVR full of ‘Law & Order’ reruns to watch, so good luck with that whole kid thing, David.”

I’m so glad I said, “Let’s do this.” It’s the smartest thing I ever said along with “OH MY GOD, YES!” when David asked me to marry him.

Calvin is THE BEST. He is so smart and funny. He is autistic, which means he has challenges, but doesn’t every kid? He is working really hard, and he is so patient and always tries to understand and be understood. He’s got the kindest heart. One of the aides in his classroom said to me, “Calvin is not only a good kid, he’s a good person. You’re raising him right,” which brought a tear to my eye.

Oh, and he’s got a smile that will knock you on your ass. I mean, COME ON!

I couldn’t be more proud of him. Happy, happy birthday to my mighty, mighty good boy!

 


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My Mighty, Mighty Good Kindergartener

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin started kindergarten last week.

GAH!

He is in a special day class, which is made up of other 11 children with special needs from kindergarten through second grade.

We were kinda fretting about this transition. Change in routine can be tough on kids, and it’s even tougher on autistic kids. But, Calvin handled it like a champ. Unlike the transition from nanny-share to preschool, which resulted in many, MANY tears from both Calvin and me, the transition to kindergarten went smoothly. I think it mostly had to do with his excitement about getting to ride a school bus by himself.

You read that correctly. Calvin is taking the school bus all by himself. And it’s all he talks about. We even got an email from his new teacher and his new speech teacher telling us that Calvin is really happy in his new class, and he has been talking about the school bus nonstop.

The only issue we had in the first week was about the after-school care, which is onsite in the cafeteria. It’s quite loud in there, and Calvin hates being in there. When he’s not talking about this school bus, he’s talking about how loud that room is.

The children can play outside on the blacktop and play structures, and Calvin spends most of his time running back and forth along a railing. He super loves one of the teachers, Ben, who works in the after-school program. Calvin is his little shadow. He probably thinks Ben is one of his Easter Seals specialists, and that he is there just for him. Calvin’s Easter Seals specialist will be here this week to work with him, and I think that will make his time at after-school care a little more pleasant for him.

Other than that, it’s been relatively painless. Of course, by writing this blog post, I probably cursed us, right?


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Beach Talk

Yeah, so, we are back from our annual family trip to Santa Cruz.

In the past there was a big group of us, but this year it was just the three of us – just us MansTracys. The truth is we always end up doing our own thing anyway. My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin usually has his own autistic agenda, and it involves finding all the ceiling fans in the area. It definitely doesn’t involve going on roller coasters at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is fine by me. I don’t want to ride that stuff, either.

We started our trip with a stop at the Roaring Camp Railroads to ride the steam train. If you have a kid who loves trains, this is a must-do. The steam train winds its way through a redwood forest and stops by Bear Mountain, where everyone can get out and do some exploring.

Come on, ride the train.

Two bumps on a log.

When in Santa Cruz we like to stay at the Dream Inn, because we’re so fuckin’ fancy. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re the opposite of fancy, but we do love staying there. It’s right on the beach, and it’s got a heated swimming pool. Every morning we order room service for breakfast and eat on the balcony.

Meh.

After breakfast, we usually walk the wharf, stopping into every shop and restaurant that has a ceiling fan. We usually tell the hostess, cashier, etc., what we’re doing and why. “He’s autistic, and he loves ceiling fans.” I realize that we don’t have to tell them, but I think it’s a good idea. This way, if another autistic person comes in, they will recognize it. Maybe it’s a silly thing to do, but I think it helps raise awareness.

We walked the wharf a few times a day, so all the employees in the shops and restaurants started to recognize us, and they always had a smile for Calvin. He’s really into naming shapes right now, so we walked the wharf and listed shapes: “square, circle, oval, rectangle, parallelogram, rhombus, star, arrow, heart.”

After we walked the wharf, we would go to the beach. We had a great time just playing in the waves and walking along the beach. During one trip to the beach, Calvin and I held hands and walked along the water until we ran out of beach. I got a little teary. The two of us have faced a lot of challenges in the past few years. Calvin received his autism diagnosis about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. But here we were, walking on the beach together – healthy and happy.

Beach boy.

After the beach, we would head to the pool. Calvin loves to be in the water, and he’s getting braver and braver. He’s been working on his dog paddle, which he calls “dog piddle.” The Dream Inn has a nice pool. It’s packed with families, and there’s a bar (beer!) and a taco stand.

Pool boys.

One afternoon, we were in the pool, and employees came around and told us that we needed to get out because they had to clean the pool. It turned out someone dropped a turd off at the pool.

“Hmm, maybe setting up a taco stand next to the swimming pool wasn’t the Dream Inn’s smartest decision,” I told David.

“Mr. Hanky decided to go for a swim, too,” David replied. “Howdy ho!

Some folks nearby overheard David, and they started cracking up and talking about Mr. Hanky. It wasn’t long until we could hear the Mr. Hanky impressions going around the pool.

So, yeah, that was pretty gross. And I was so, so, SO thankful our kid wasn’t responsible.

We did walk through the Beach Boardwalk one day, but Calvin didn’t like it. He thought it was too loud, which was a change from last year. He loved walking through the boardwalk last summer, looking at the lights and watching (but never riding) the rides.

This year, he was more interested in watching the boardwalk from the comfort of our room. He referred to the boardwalk as “hockey island.” “Hockey Island is too loud.” “Oh, Hockey Island is closed.” Pretty impressive “Inside Out” reference.

We also hit a few Santa Cruz breweries, including Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and Humble Sea Brewing Company.  We got the Easy Money IPA and Blur IPA from Seabright. Very drinkable and perfect for the beach. I had the Devout Stout, because I’ve been drinking a lot of IPA lately, and I was ready for something dark. It was delicious, but the real winner was David’s Dread Brown Ale. We got a couple of growler-cans to go. On our way out of Santa Cruz, we stopped at Humble Sea. I got a stout based on Girl Scout thin mint cookies, and David got a northeast-style IPA, and both were pretty good. I was really impressed with all three places. They were terrific, comfortable spaces that were all dog and kid friendly. I’m always surprised by how kid-friendly other restaurants and breweries are outside of San Francisco. Other cities recognize that human beings have children, and that’s a part of life. San Francisco would prefer you get a sitter. Personally, I think some of the breweries in San Francisco could learn something from the ones in the East Bay and beyond. Children are a part of life. Get with the program.

So anyway, we had an awesome time on our trip, but it was nice to come home. We missed our animals. Toby spent the week with my mom. She told me that he really missed me, and he spent a lot of time staring longingly out the window. Our neighbor took care of Kubo for us. She said she’s not really a cat person, but Kubo has won her over. Kubo did the same thing with David. I think it’s her super power.

One of the smart things we planned with this vacation is we got back on Thursday, so we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to recover. Most of the time, after a vacation, we feel like we need another vacation to recover from our vacation.

I’m so glad my double chin decided to photobomb our nice family pic.


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The Graduate

Yeah, so, Calvin is graduating from preschool.

I know, right?

His last day is Friday. He’s been there for three and a half years. He has grown so much since he first started. He was about 2 1/2 years old, and he could barely talk. He wasn’t even diagnosed with autism. Transitioning from a nanny-share situation was tough at first. His first day didn’t go super awesome. And for months, he cried when dropped him off.

Look at that little guy!

But the preschool and the teachers were/are awesome. Kaiser, the Golden Gate Regional Center and the preschool all worked together to get Calvin diagnosed and get him the services he needs. And as his communication improved, his enjoyment level improved. Now, he loves preschool. He loves the teachers, and the other kids are really sweet to him. He is clearly different than the other children in his class, but he’s very popular. He also has specialists from Easter Seals working with him almost every day at the school, and the school has been very patient and accommodating.

It’s going to be really difficult to leave. It’s going to be sad for Calvin, sad for the teachers and sad for us. The teachers adore Calvin. He is a really good kid.

We might be in for a tough transition. We’ve been trying to prepare Calvin, telling him that his last day of preschool is coming and then he will start at a new school. There’s an episode of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” about going to a new school, and we’ve been watching it a lot.

The preschool had a graduation party on Saturday. Calvin is never a fan of the preschool events, because it’s strange for him to have his parents at the school. We probably embarrass him, right?

Oh, and there’s a lot of people and commotion, and that’s not really Calvin’s favorite. Plus, there were bouncy houses, and Calvin thinks bouncy houses are bullshit. I know he would love ’em, if he would just try it, but he won’t even get in ’em for a second.

We knew that we may not get to stay very long at the party, and we knew that he may not wear the graduation robe or participate in the ceremony, but we always try, because you never know.

We were able to stay for a bit. When it came time for him to put on his graduation robe and walk with the other kids … Well, that didn’t work out. David waited with all the other parents for the photo op, and I went to the room to try to get Calvin into his graduation robe. I asked a few times, and the answer was always “No, thank you.”

I could tell he was getting agitated, so I just put it on myself. We stood in line with the other kids and did the graduation walk together.

I wanted to get our money’s worth from the graduation robe.

So, this week is going to be a little emotional for us in the MansTracy household. Leaving the teachers who have done so much for Calvin these past three and a half years is going to be a tough one. BUT, in an attempt to make the transition a little easier for Calvin he is taking a few weeks off before starting kindergarten. He’s going to spend four or five days with my parents. Then, we’re going on a family vacation to Santa Cruz, which will make us all happy.

 


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The Sonia Show Goes To Washington

Yeah, so, I went to Washington, D.C., to see two of my favorite people, Katie and Nathan.

Sadly, the second I walked off the plane I lost my voice, because of course I did. I fly across the country to visit one of my best friends so we can catch up, and I lose my voice. Figures.

I think being that close to Predator Trump; that much evil; my body just couldn’t deal with it. Maybe my body was trying to save me. “Oh no! She’s in the same city as that piece of shit. She’s going to say something and get us all killed, so let’s shut it down. Shut the whole thing down!”

Of course, we didn’t let my lack of voice stop us from catching up, and Katie and Nathan are awesome hosts. If you’re ever in DC, I highly recommend you stay with them. They are way better than some hotel or Air BnB.

We went to a Nationals vs. Reds game on Friday night, which was my first-ever visit to a ballpark that wasn’t A’s or Giants. I wore my Giants hat and booed Bryce Harper the best I could considering I had no voice. I also ran into some other Giants fans there, which – once again – was just me pointing at my hat and their hats and giving the thumbs up, because no voice.

On Saturday, Katie and I spent the entire day at the Newseum, because it’s my favorite. I could have spent an entire second day in the Newseum. There is so much to read, watch and listen to. There’s a really terrific exhibit now called “Louder Than Words,” which is about music, activism and politics. The Newseum doesn’t appear to be a big fan of Predator Fake News. There are a lot of stories and photos about President Obama. I think that Newseum is preaching to the choir, though. I seriously doubt Predator Trump voters are going to the Newseum anyway. Yeah. I said it.

Also, while in DC, we had lunch at a yummy vegan restaurant, Fare Well. I got the vegan Reuben and a cookie dough milkshake, and it was heaven.

We also got some beer, because – duh – of course we did. These are MY FRIENDS we’re talking about. We went to Brookland Pint, which had a great selection of local beer on tap, so I could taste them all.

It was so great to see Katie and Nathan. They are such awesome, smart people. I wish we at least lived in the same state. That would be awesome.

By the way, it’s hot as fuck in DC, and humid. Here’s actual footage of me in DC.

 

So, at the end of my trip, I filmed a little video so you guys could hear how awful my voice was.

 

BUT, here’s the thing: It actually got worse. I got sicker and sicker on the flight home. By the time I got home I had no voice at all (it was just a whisper). I was coughing and congested, and I had a fever. Wheeee. I’ve been sick for three days! I’ve been so sick that I haven’t even been back to work yet. I wasn’t even well enough to work from home, because that would have involved sitting up. Writing this blog post is the longest I’ve sat up in a while, and as you can tell by how well it is written, that wasn’t very long.

So yeah, I had a really great trip. This was my first big trip away from my mighty, mighty good man David and my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin. I’ve had an overnight trip once or twice away from both of them, and David and I have gone on trips together while Calvin stays with my mom. But, this was the first trip in which David and Calvin were on their own for four days. Unsurprisingly, they had a great time, but Calvin did come into our bedroom in the middle of the night and cry, and ask to sleep with David. He missed me.

Calvin was already asleep when I got home Sunday night, but the next morning I went into his room to say, “Good morning,” and he immediately shot up in his bed. “You’re back! You’re here! I missed you!” I almost cried. It’s nice to be missed.

 

 


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What’s Calvin Watching

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin caught a nasty cold.

The cold got progressively worse as the week went on, so by Thursday and Friday he had to stay home from school. He’s in good spirits, but I feel bad for him. He’s feeling cooped up, and in between playing and lining up his cars and buses, he’s been watching some uninspiring movies and TV shows.

Every once in a while Google Play offers a free movie. Earlier this year it was a movie called “Bunyan & Babe,” an animated movie about Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. It’s not very good. It’s boring with very video-gamey animation.

“Bunyan & Babe” is one of those kids movies where the bad guy wants to destroy a farm or a town to pave the way for some big project that will make him a lot of money. I suspect most kids cannot relate to that and don’t give a shit. Although I bet Trump’s kids would watch it and think the property developer is the good guy who’s just misunderstood.

So anyway, now Google Play has kicked us “A Stork’s Journey,” which is about a sparrow raised by storks. It’s also got a gay parakeet that sings “I’m Coming Out” over and over, and a goth owl voiced by Jane Lynch.

The animation looks better than “Bunyan & Babe,” but it’s not a very good movie either. A stork family adopts this orphaned sparrow, but then ditches him, and he spends the entire movie trying to find them. WTF?! The storks are terrible people.

Oh, and in order to be accepted by the father stork who raised him the sparrow has to save another stork’s life. It’s kinda like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s not about people acknowledging how prejudice their way of thinking is and making it right. It’s more about the outcast proving to be useful in some way, so he/she is worthy of being accepted.

I’m pretty sure I know why these movies are free from Google Play.

Calvin has also been watching a TV show on Netflix titled “Tayo the Little Bus,” which is basically a South Korean “Chuggington,” but with buses instead of trains. Of course, “Chugginton” is just a ripoff of “Thomas the Tank Engine.” It’s the same shit. Here’s the plot of every episode: Bus or train character doesn’t listen to instructions, which results in confusion and delay. Oh sorry. Spoiler alert!

I really love it when Calvin watches “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” because I like watching it, too.

In other news, we have ditched overpriced Xfinity-Comcast and got a Roku. We love it so far. We can watch our local baseball teams through Sony Vue. Plus, we got the FilmStruck app, which has a TON of old movies and the Criterion Collection, so we’re stoked.

And speaking of old movies, we have a new episode of Old Movies, New Beer up for your listening pleasure. Inspired by “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise, we decided to watch the originals from 1932 and 1959.

We’re drinking Bravo, an aged imperial brown ale with a really high alcohol content, so you can listening to me get drunk and bash the Tom Cruise movie when I should be talking about the old movies.


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Miss You Much

Yeah, so, working in a new office with new people is a big change for me. But I kinda forgot that this is a big change for my mighty, mighty good kid Calvin, too.

For five years I’ve been driving him to nannyshare or preschool and picking him up, because I’m the one that drives to work. Mighty, mighty good man David takes him to school and picks him up sometimes, too — once a week, at least. But, it’s mainly been me.

Well, last week I was taking BART to work, so David did the dropping off and the picking up. On Thursday, David picked up Calvin, and he seemed a little sad. When they got home, Calvin saw I wasn’t there and started crying. And when I came through the door, he ran to me and we hugged, and he cried and cried.

He missed me.

All week long I was feeling like I was getting less time with Calvin because I wasn’t driving him. We have a nice, little routine. We listen to songs on his playlist that I made for him, and we talk about all the buses, police cars and trucks we see. I was missing that time, too, but I’m such a clueless dope that it didn’t occur to me that maybe – just maybe – my son was missing me, too.

What a dum-dum I am.

So anyway, one of my mom’s best friends, Jeanne (they’ve been best friends since kindergarten), lives just a few minutes from us, and guess what? She got goats! GOATS, you guys! GOATS! Look!

They are so goddamn cute. They are totally sweet and friendly. I want a goat so bad. But until that day, I will be visiting Jeanne more often.

 

 


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I Know You Are But What Am I

Yeah, so, the other night I decided to introduce my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin to “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” because I want to raise him right.

I remember my niece Lorelei loving this movie when she was Calvin’s age. Plus, I love it, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It beats watching “Bob The Builder,” which he has been asking for more often lately.

The trick with introducing a new movie or TV show to Calvin is to start the movie or TV show when he’s not paying attention. If he asks to watch “Curious George,” and I respond with “Let’s watching something new,” well, he’s not going to go for that.

This time, he was playing with his buses in the living room, and I started the movie without any fanfare. It wasn’t long before he did a double take. The beginning of the movie is so clever and colorful with really fun music. He was instantly hooked.

By the time, Pee Wee starts dancing to “Tequila” on a table, Calvin was fully invested.

And, just like me, he thinks the pet store scene is hilarious. He asked me to rewind it a few times to he could watch it over and over.

Since he liked the movie, I think he’s ready for “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” so we will be trying that soon.


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I Do What I Want

Yeah, so, on Sunday Calvin’s soon-to-be new elementary school had a little welcome picnic.

We didn’t dress up as a polyamorous furry family as originally planned. Instead, we went as ourselves – a cool, social-able father, a vegan pain in the ass mother who can’t eat any of the food, and an awesome autistic boy who would rather explore the park than join in the other kids’ games.

I need to get this shirt for Calvin.

Calvin was running up and down a hill, and I was standing in a shady spot making sure that he didn’t make a run for the picnic table and steal an egg-filled treat since he’s allergic. Hives and vomiting don’t make for a great first impression. All of the kids were playing some organized activities, but Calvin — unsurprisingly — was not interested.

Me: “Calvin, do you want to play with the other kids?”

Calvin: “No, thank you. I want to play here.”

Me: “Cool. Enjoy!”

Calvin couldn’t have gotten any farther away from where the kids where playing.

We weren’t stressing about it, though. He was so happy running around that hill. Occasionally, he would join up with another group of kids on the hill, and then head off on his own adventure. He had an awesome time.

Meanwhile, my mighty, mighty good man David really shines in social situations like these. He can talk to anyone, and he had an informative conversation with the principal, and got all the flyers we need. Good thing he’s good at that stuff. I didn’t even know where to start at this event. I was thisclose to running up and down the hill with Calvin. I got a little excited at one point because I thought I saw wine bottles on the picnic table, but alas, it was some weird ginger drink.

There are two communities with this school: a Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program and something called Second Community, which is everything but the Japanese program, I guess. Most kids are in one or the other, but kids like Calvin in the Special Day Class get to kinda pick and choose what they want from the two communities. There is a lot of fundraising that goes on, and the principal let us know that we can do fundraising for the school, but we can also do specific fundraising for Calvin’s classroom. We’re not expected to do fundraising for programs that Calvin can’t or won’t participate in.

It’s going to be really sad to leave the preschool in August, but I’m feeling confident that this school is going to be a good fit for Calvin, and once he gets used to it, he’s going to be really happy there.