The Sonia Show

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


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Another steak out

Yeah, so, a meat eater, a vegan and a 6-year-old autistic boy walk into a steakhouse …

For about a year now, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin has been obsessed with the ceiling fans at Harris’ Restaurant. The steakhouse is nearby his speech appointment, and we always stop by after his session so he can say hello to the ceiling fans in the bar. And he would always ask me, “Can we eat here?”

“Not today,” I tell him.

“They don’t have burger? Next time?”

“Yes, some other time.”

The truth is it would be an expensive experiment, but to celebrate his first day of first grade we decided to be brave and actually eat there.

He was really excited. Unfortunately, they don’t have a burger (which seems weird for a steakhouse, right?), but they offered a plain chicken breast. Calvin said he didn’t want that and opted for a bowl of rice. Cheap date!

David ordered a Manhattan and massive filet with peppercorn sauce. He was in heaven.


The kitchen made me a plate of vegetables with garlic, balsamic and various other seasonings. Veggies that are prepared well with a big glass of red wine … I was happy.

After dinner, Calvin got some chocolate ice cream.

“It’s not a cone,” he correctly pointed out.

“No, I’m sorry. They don’t have cones.”

“OK.”

Don’t worry. He made it work.

 

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The ugly tooth

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boys and I were back to school shopping at Target, because TARGET!

While at the register I see Calvin bend down and pick something up off the ground.

“Mommy, look,” he said.

“Ewww, don’t pick up things off the ground,” I said, slapping whatever it was out of his hand.

“My tooth!”

“Wait, what? Was that your tooth?” I replied.

He flashed me a bloody grin.

“GAH! I’m such a crap mom,” I repeated as David and I were on all fours looking for Calvin’s missing tooth. We finally found it, and the surrounding parents gave us “the nod” and a hearty “Congrats” and “Good job.”

I felt so terrible about just knocking his tooth out of his hand without even taking a look at what it was. But, I don’t think there are any hard feelings, because I bought our fan of fans an oscillating fan while we were there.


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The nod squad

Yeah, so, one of the things I love about being a parent (besides the fact that my kid is super amazing and undoubtedly the best person in the entire world) is the bond you have with other like-minded parents.

Obviously, there are parents who are huge assholes. They let their kids kick your seat in the movie theater or raise them to be racist, MAGA hat-wearing little shits. But there are some other cool parents out there, too. I like to think that mighty, mighty good man David and I are cool parents.

We’ve got each other’s back. We’re quick to offer wipes, sunblock and goldfish crackers when needed. We will help you in a public restroom when your kid has an accident.

A few weeks ago, we were at a restaurant sitting outside, and Calvin was pissed. We had been at Ocean Beach before heading to the restaurant, and he wanted to stay at the beach forever. I get it. The beach is fun.

He ran off from the table into a nearby open area and started crying. I walked up to him and hugged him while he cried.

“I want to go back to the beach,” he sobbed.

“We will. First lunch, then beach,” I told him.

He cried and cried, and another mother walked by with her two kids, and one of them was crying, too. Then she gave me the nod.

I have given this nod countless times, too. It’s the nod parents give each other to acknowledge that the struggle is real. We’ve been there. We get it.

Most parents are doing the best they can. So, whether you’re a parent or not, when you see a parent trying to comfort a screaming, tantrum-throwing kid, instead of judging them, give ’em a nod or one of those “I see you” hand gestures. It means a lot.


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Buh bye, 2017

Yeah, so, this year hasn’t been awesome.

We have a sexual predator in the White House, and – with the help of an enabling GOP – he is attacking this country’s most vulnerable citizens, including the sick, elderly, disabled and immigrants. It’s disgusting and depressing as fuck. It fills me with rage.

I have donated money to organizations and candidates who are helping people and fighting for what’s right. I’ve been calling my reps, and occasionally reps in other districts since their votes affect me. I do what I can handle, and it makes me feel a little less helpless.

BUT, I wanted to focus on some good things that happened this year in the MansTracy household.

My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin started kindergarten, and he is flourishing. He’s so happy, and he’s learning so much. His language skills have improved by leaps and bounds.

I got a new job … kinda. The big corporate overload moved me from the Oakland office where I was the lone content person from the past 8 years to the San Francisco office to join the content team. And instead of just working on content for one brand, I will be working on the content with the team on all the brands. I’m really excited and nervous. Writing is in my comfort zone. Thinking big picture is outside my comfort zone. But, I’m down to expand my skillset. Plus, I super love being in the SF office. Not only has it cut my commute in half (and I’m taking BART instead of driving), but I absolutely adore my content coworkers. They are fuckin’ rad as hell.

I got on an airplane all by myself for the first time ever. True story. I met up with my mighty, mighty good man David in Portland after his work trip. We had a great time exploring the city, which is swimming in vegan options for me and beer for both of us. Plus, we got to see our friends Caitlin and Kirk, which made the trip even more awesome.

I got to go to Washington, DC to see my good buddy Katie and her husband Nathan. I finally got to see their house, and we spent some awesome time together walking around the Newseum, going to a Nationals game and sitting on the couch watching YouTube videos, because that’s how we roll.

We went to Santa Cruz again this year for our little family vacation, and we had an amazing time. Calvin has been asking to go back pretty much every day since we got back.

I started baking bread this year. I have always wanted to bake my own bread, but I thought it was too difficult and too time consuming. I found a perfect bread baking book: “Bread Illustrated” from America’s Test Kitchen.

My sister Michelle and my sister from another mister, Amanda, did a spa day at the Sonoma Mission Inn. We got massages and lounged by the pool with drinks. It was heaven.

I went to Bourbon & Branch for David’s birthday, and I discovered that I like gin. That’s a good thing.

 

 

My 15-year-old (!) niece Lorelei came out for the weekend, and we saw “IT” at the Alamo Drafthouse. Lorelei is a Tiny Sonia, so I knew she would love the Alamo Drafthouse. We had so much fun hanging out together. I was scared to see “IT.” I thought it was really fuck me up, but it turns out that I loved being scared about something other than the news.

After our weekend together, I went on a scary movie watching spree. It turns out I love horror movies! Funny enough, I’ve been listening to F This Movie for years, and the host Patrick Bromley is always taking about horror movies. Now I have the courage to actually watch all those movies he’s talking about.

Speaking of podcasts, Dorking Out with Chris & Sonia is still going strong. We recorded a podcast every week, except for one week. Even dorks need a week off once in a while. Super-big, mad props to my co-host Smith for keeping us on schedule, and all the work he does recording the podcast. Oh, and we got this amazing new logo by Jeff Heerman.

I’ll end this post with what everyone wants to see: Dog and cat cuddling action!

Happy New Year, you guys! Let’s hope that 2018 is chrome and shiny.


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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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Word To Your Mothers

Yeah, so, during the Fourth of July weekend, my mighty, mighty good man David and I decided to take our mighty, mighty good boy Calvin to an Oakland A’s game. It was a fireworks night, and we thought he would enjoy the fireworks. [Narrator’s voice: He didn’t.]

At one point I went to the ladies room, and there was a mom behind me in line with a toddler in a stroller. The toddler was probably about 2-2 ½ years old. The big handicap stall opened up when it was my turn, but I told the mom behind me she should take it since she’s got the big stroller.

Well, she still couldn’t get the stroller in there. The stall wasn’t that big. Another woman offered to stand with the baby while the mother used the restroom, which I thought was really nice of her. Then the mother noticed that her baby was wet through her clothes, so she tried to navigate through the crowded restroom to the changing table. Another woman and I helped her with her stuff. “We’ve all been there,” I told her.

Just then a younger woman pushed her way through: “I’m just trying to pee. Get out of my way! GAWD!” And basically, every mom in the restroom gave her a dirty look. We practically hissed at her.

Yes, it was crowded in there. Yes, I understand when you gotta go, you gotta go. Still, shut up, dummy. Be nice.

This isn’t the end of the story.

By the 7th inning, Calvin said he had to use the potty. Actually, what he really said is “Uh oh. I went poo poo.”

Eeek!

So, I grab my ginormous mom purse, and we headed to the ladies room. I’m not going to get too gross here, but let’s just say … this shit was messy. I probably shouldn’t have let him eat an entire bag of popcorn.

Anyway, we’re in the stall, and I’m trying to get these pants off of him and clean him up, and Calvin is apologizing over and over.

“I’m sorry, mommy. I’m sorry, mommy.”

“It’s OK, sweet boy. Accidents happen. We’re going to get you cleaned up,” I told him.

He said sorry so many times that other women were chiming in:

“It’s OK. It’s just an accident.”

“Don’t even worry about it. It happens all the time.”

Then I realized that I forgot the wipes. I always carry backup clothes and wipes even though he’s 5 years old and potty trained, because the one time you don’t is the one time you’ll need them, right? That’s what happened here.

“OK, I forgot the wipes, honey. Let me get some paper towels,” I said.

I open the stall door to get paper towels, and there are none.

“OK … There are no paper towels,” I told him. “We’re going to have to do this with a ton of toilet paper, I guess. Don’t worry. We will get you cleaned up.”

And that’s when all the ladies in the restroom sprang into action.

“I need to change my baby anyway. Let me run back to my seat and get her and the diaper bag with wipes.”

“I’m going to run to the nearest food stand and get all the napkins.”

Another woman just ran out without a word, and returned a few seconds later with a bunch the napkins and paper towels from their suite.

“Thank you, ladies. Thank you,” I kept repeating.

“Oh, this always happens to me – the one time I forget the wipes,” one of them said.

“Or you remember the wipes but then you forget backup pants,” another chimed in.

“This happened to me with my son just the other day,” yet another woman said.

I was so grateful to these ladies. I thanked them repeatedly, and I went back to my seat to tweet my thanks, because that’s what I do.

When I’ve shared this story with some of my mom friends, they all have similar stories about their children having accidents and every mother within a two-mile radius chipping in to help out. Good job, moms. There’s a lot of mommy shaming out there, but I’m happy that sometimes we’ve got each other’s backs.


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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.