The Sonia Show

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


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Spaceball

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good man David and I love to watch baseball. We want to go to more games together, and we want to bring our my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin.

He hasn’t been to a baseball game since he was a baby.

Gaaah! Was he ever that small?

A crowded and loud baseball game isn’t necessarily Calvin’s favorite place to be, but we want to try. Unfortunately, San Francisco Giants tickets are kinda expensive. We’re not sure we want to spend $50+ on a ticket for Calvin, if he demands we leave after 10 minutes.

Luckily, we’re a two-team household, so we can go to Oakland A’s games, which are waaaay more affordable.

Just a few days after talking about it with David, I got an email from Easter Seals Bay Area, offering us free tickets to the A’s game. They were hosting a “A Home Run For Autism” event at the game: free tickets, free sodas and free food. We had to buy our own beer, because duh – we’re not going to drink soda at a baseball game.

This turned out to be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Calvin to baseball. We had an awesome time. He got a giant bag of popcorn, and he was as happy as can be. Plus, there were a lot of airplanes and helicopters flying overhead, and he loved that. He got a little nervous with the giant head mascots showed up, but that had more to do with all the people running over to get photos than with the mascots themselves.

We made it until the ninth inning, and then Calvin was kinda ready to go. Unfortunately, the A’s lost the game, but we still felt like winners because we got spend a beautiful day in the ballpark with our boy. We asked him if he liked going to the baseball game and he said, “Yes. I like spaceball.”


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You Drive Me Crazy

Yeah, so, I was driving to work and thinking about all the things I need to do once I get there.

“I need to send that email. I need to work on the video script. I need to fix our Google Plus page.” You know, a bunch of silly to-do list things.

Right as I was getting on the freeway, I noticed I was listening to the “Cars” soundtrack.

“Why am I listening to this crap?” I thought. “OH SHIT!”

And sitting the back seat was Calvin.

I forgot to drop him off at school! I was completely on autopilot and was driving to work without even thinking.

“I’m not going to school,” he said.

“You’re going to school. I went the wrong way,” I told him.

Every morning I drop Calvin off at preschool and then drive to work. Why today I skipped the preschool I have no idea. I’m so glad I didn’t get all the way to the office with him.

Actual footage of me driving.

Have you ever drive somewhere on autopilot? I’d love to read your stories in the comments.


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My Boo

Yeah, so, on Friday night, we dropped mighty, mighty good boy Calvin off at the Peek-A-Boo Factory in West Portal for their monthly date night.

Actual footage of David and I after we drop off Calvin at Peek-A-Boo Factory for date night.

Basically, we pay $35, drop Calvin off, and he runs around on their play structure for three hours. They serve pizza that he won’t eat, and they do crafts that he doesn’t really care about. He just wants to go down the long, red slide for three hours.

Anyway, we dropped him off as usual and walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. After dinner, we went to a bar across the street from Peek-A-Boo to grab a drink. We ran into another set of parents from Calvin’s preschool. They dropped their son off at Peek-A-Boo as well, and they were a little nervous because they had never done it before.

“Calvin loves it,” we told them. “It’s awesome.”

We chatted for a bit, and then they left because they wanted to pick their son up a little early, since it was his first time. I laughed and said, “Well, we’re going to wait until the very last second to pick up Calvin.”

And right then, mighty, mighty good man David noticed that Peek-A-Boo had called. Calvin was crying and upset, and they didn’t know why. D’oh!

We went across the street, and we could see him through the locked glass doors. He was crying. When they let us in, he ran into my arms sobbing. One of the employees, who always gives Calvin special attention at these date nights, had no idea what was wrong.

“He’s always so happy,” she told us.

While we were heading home, Calvin said, “I got locked in the trailer,” which is something that happened at my parents’ house the week before. My dad has a trailer on the side of the house, and Calvin was playing in it, and he accidentally locked himself in it for about a minute.

I thought maybe he got locked in the restroom at Peek-A-Boo, and this is his way of telling us.

“Did you get locked in the bathroom at the red slide, Calvin,” I asked. “Red slide” is what he calls Peek-A-Boo Factory.

“No,” he replied. “I got locked in the trailer at Grandma’s.”

“I know,” I said. “That’s scary.”

“There’s a ghost in the trailer,” he said.

WTF?!?!?

“There’s a ghost in the trailer?” I repeated.

“Yes.”

 

I texted my mom. “Your trailer is haunted. FYI.”

My dad loves to kill things, so I’m not sure how he will deal with something that is already dead living in his trailer, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out.

It turned out that Calvin wasn’t feeling very well. He had a fever by the time we got home, and he was off and on feverish all day Saturday. Poor little guy.


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Too Cool For School

Yeah, so, the San Francisco public school system is notoriously difficult to navigate.

In San Francisco, your kid doesn’t just go to your neighborhood school, even though that’s what most parents in San Francisco seem to want. There is a very involved school assignment process, which ratchets up parental anxiety. You are required to rank your school choices and submit them by the deadline, and you may or may not get any of your choices. A lot of families leave San Francisco when their children are getting ready to start school rather than deal with the enrollment process.

We have been touring schools and researching schools since November, and by “we” I mean my mighty, mighty good man David. He did most of the leg work on this, and I did stuff like drop off the forms at the school district and get laughed by a school district employee, which is a real thing that happened.

We submitted a list of about 35 schools, but it turned out none of those schools were going to work out for Calvin.

Photo by my mighty, mighty good man David.

Since Calvin is autistic, he needs an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) with the school district. He already had one, but it was a little out of date, so we had to get him reassessed by the district. However, we couldn’t make it happen until after the enrollment deadline. So, we just did our best guess what would be right for Calvin. We assumed that Calvin would be in a “regular” classroom, and then pulled out for special services, such as speech or occupational therapy.

The school district team visited Calvin at his preschool, and we brought him into their offices for more observation. Their recommendations were unexpected. They recommended Calvin attend a mild/moderate special day class. He would receive a lot of support and services with the hope of transitioning him to the “regular” class. We were kinda surprised, but the truth is, this is the best option for Calvin. It’s better to start with a lot of services and scale back then to start with less and ask for more services.

So, there are 11 elementary schools out of 85 elementary schools in the SF Unified School District that offer mild/moderate special day classes, and — of course — none of those schools were on our original list. We had to submit another list, and it was just a few weeks before the school assignment letters were going out.

Sigh.

The school district employees were so kind to us. They handed us a list of the schools, and David did some quick research. One of the schools on the list was Clarendon Elementary, which is really difficult to get into. We’ve read the stories about how it’s more difficult to get into than Harvard blah blah blah. David spoke with a school district employee on the phone, and she suggested we put it as our first choice, so we did, but with no expectation that Calvin would be assigned to that school.

Narrator’s voice: They were wrong. He was assigned to that school.

We couldn’t believe our dumb luck. Calvin was assigned to what many people believe is one of the best schools in the district, and it’s less than 3 miles from our house. Finally! The MansTracy Family catches a break.

When I got the school assignment from the school district, I seriously couldn’t believe it. I called David immediately, and when I told him he replied, “Holy shit!” David never swears. It’s always “Jiminy Christmas” this and “Good grief” that.

So yeah, now that the school search is over we can focus on the important shit like the fact that our little boy is starting kindergarten in the fall.


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Naive Parenting Lesson #368

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin is such a good kid that sometimes I forget he’s a kid, and that kids gonna kid.

Last night we were eating dinner together. He was having chicken, and I was eating a big salad. I know, I know. I’m such a fuckin’ top chef. Anyway, Calvin wanted a cupcake for dinner, because he’s smart. But, being a somewhat responsible parent, I told him that if he ate all of his chicken he could have a cupcake.

I left the room to put my plate in the sink, and when I came back Calvin pointed out that his chicken was gone.

“Can I have a cupcake, please?” he asked, while holding up his empty plate.

“Oh! Yes! Of course. Good job eating all your chicken,” I told him.

I brought him a cupcake, and he happily ate it – as you can see.

After he was finished, I was wiping off the table, and I picked up his water glass. Guess what was in it? Yep. The chicken. The boy hid his chicken in a glass of water, and I totally didn’t notice. He 100% fooled me into giving him a cupcake.

“Calvin, what’s in your glass?” I asked.

“Oh no! The chicken is all wet! The chicken is in the water.” he replied.

“How did it get in there?” I asked.

He just shook his head and ran off. Sneaky little bastard.

I couldn’t even be mad. He tricked me, the same way that kids have been tricking their parents about eating food for years. I’m kinda proud of him.


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Gettin’ Schooled

Yeah, so, we enrolled our mighty, mighty good boy Calvin in kindergarten.

We submitted the enrollment forms. Now we just wait and see what school they assign him.

He's not a little spawn anymore.

He’s not a little spawn anymore.

Enrolling your child in the San Francisco Unified School District is a bit of an undertaking. When I was a kid, I went to the school that was closest to me. That’s how it worked. In SF, there’s a more involved process that involves touring elementary schools and filling out a form with a ranking of which schools you want your child to attend. The school district considers such factors as proximity and if you have a sibling that already attends that school. They also consider your special education needs, if you’re an English language learner, or if looking for a Spanish or Chinese immersion school.

Basically, it’s a lottery system. A lot of parents loathe the enrollment process in San Francisco. There are seminars to help parents navigate the process, and they offer tips and tricks to getting your kid in the school you want. It’s kinda ridiculous.

Through November and December, we toured some nearby elementary school. I did two, and my mighty, mighty good man David did a few more than that. With the help of a friend who is also navigating the system, David put together a massive spreadsheet with every elementary school on it, including proximity from our house, Great Schools ranking, you know – shit like that.

We narrowed down the list of 85 elementary schools to our top 10, and then attached an additional list with like 25 more schools on it, because we heard from another parent that your odds of getting your top choice improve the more schools you list. Luckily for us, our top choice is the elementary school closest to us, so we have a really good shot at getting it. We also had to attach Calvin’s IEP from the school district for his autism, and we are in the process of getting it updated.

I must give credit where credit is due: David did a lot of the leg work on this. Since the election, I’ve been channeling my frustration into angry Facebook rants, calling my representatives and donating money to organizations that fight for what’s right. David has been channeling his rage into researching the best schools for Calvin. David is rad!

So anyway, we got the forms all filled out, but you can’t just mail them in. You have to physically drop them off at the Education Placement Center. The deadline was last Friday, and David was traveling last week. I decided to go on the Monday before the deadline.

I drove downtown and parked at a meter. There was already 30 minutes on the meter, and I figured that was more than enough time. I was just dropping off these forms. But I wanted to make safe, so I added another 30 minutes. As I was walking to the Education Placement Center, it started pouring rain. Unprepared, I put the enrollment forms under my coat and made a run for it. I’d hate for all our work to get wet.

When I got into the placement center, there was a line out the door.

There was a line just to get a number to wait to drop off your forms. WTF?! It’s basically like waiting at the DMV. I waited in line for about 20 minutes before I got to the counter. The man behind the counter asked me a few questions about my form. “Do you have this?” “Do you have that?” Then he handed me a number.

“I’m so stupid and naive. I thought I was just going to be dropping these forms off in a tray or something, and then I’d walk right out here,” I said.

He laughed at me. He seriously laughed at me like I was the biggest idiot ever.

“Well, you could have done that if you dropped off your forms when we first started the process back in November, but instead you waited until the last minute, so you have to wait.”

He totally schooled me.

I deserved it, I guess. But really, how would I know? I’ve never enrolled a kid in school before.

I had to wait for about 45 minutes, and I finally met with someone who went through all the paperwork to make sure it was complete, and then she sent me on my way. I supposed to should be glad that the school district employees go through your paperwork with you to make sure everything is correct so there are not any problems or delays, but still, it’s kind of a cluster.

So, yeah, my little guy is going to be starting kindergarten in the fall. Gaaaaaahhhh!

penguin

 


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Holy Halloween, Batman!

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin isn’t really into Halloween.

If we ask him what he would like to dress up as for Halloween, we usually get the answer of “No, thank you.” We pitch him ideas and he just says no. That’s fine. People might say, “Well, autistic kids are just not into Halloween.” I don’t think that’s the case at all. I’m sure there are plenty of autistic kids and adults who love Halloween. The truth is, everyone is different; autistic or not. Some people are just not into Halloween.

Calvin isn’t anti-Halloween. If we pick out a costume, a simple one with no masks or crazy hats, he will wear it. He loves seeing other people in their costumes. And, he loves trick or treating. He’s not really interested in eating the candy, which is awesome. He just likes going from door to door and saying, “Trick or treat,” and then looking into people’s houses. Hey, I get it. I like being nosy and peeking into people’s houses, too.

Calvin will say, “Trick or treat,” and then he will comment on something in the house. “You’ve got a fan.” “Your TV is on.” “There’s a cat.” And he always says, “Thank you.” He’s very polite.

So, the good thing about Calvin not being into Halloween is we can pick whatever costume we want. A lot of people probably don’t know this about me, but I super love group costumes. Until Calvin becomes interested  in Halloween or starts actively protesting Halloween, I’ve got someone to do group costumes with. Win!

In the past, we’ve been Curious George, The Man in the Yellow Hat and a banana. We’ve also gone full-Star Trek. This year, we’re representing the DC Universe: Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

batmanfamily

batgirl-robin

batgirl-batman

robin-catwoman

Robin & Catwoman

We will try to trick or treat tonight, weather permitting. After that, Calvin will go to bed, and my mighty, mighty good man David and I will open a few pumpkin beers (we’re big fans of Flying Dog’s Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale), and we will watch 1963’s “The Haunting” or maybe 1959’s “The Tingler,” starring Vincent Price. We’ve been on a Vincent Price trip lately. We’ve watched “House of Usher,” “Theater of Blood” and “Masque Of The Red Death.”

This weekend, we went to two Halloween parties. My sister and her family held their annual Halloween party. Michelle and her husband, Tony, dressed up as the Joker and Harley Quinn, without realizing that we were dressing up as Batman, Batgirl and Robin.

dcfamily

Before I wrap this post up, I’ve got a serious question for you: Who wore it better?

whoworeitbetter

Happy Halloween, you guys!


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I Have A Lot Of Questions, Charlie Brown

Yeah, so, we have been watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on a loop for about a week.

My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin loves it, and I’m happy about that because it’s really cute. The Peanuts cartoons are perfect for my boy. They are funny and sweet. They don’t have violence or fart jokes. And they’re short – like 22 minutes, so it’s a nice, little cartoon to watch in the morning before preschool and in the evenings after bath time but before bedtime.

“I want to watch Snoopy and the pumpkin” is one of the first things out of Calvin’s mouth in the morning, and one of the first things he says when we get home after school.

snoopygif

So, yeah, we’ve been watching it a lot. During that time I’ve gone from passively watching it or tuning it out to having a lot of questions.

Here’s the big question: Who told Linus about the Great Pumpkin in the first place?

great-pumpkin-linus

None of the other kids believe in the Great Pumpkin, and they only seem to know the story because Linus tells them. Did his parents tell him this story? Was it to keep him from trick-or-treating and eating candy? Maybe Linus has diabetes. If he did hear it from his parents, shouldn’t they have told him the truth after he wasted one Halloween waiting, or is this their idea of a sick joke?

Speaking of his parents, where are they? I know that on the Peanuts the parents are never really around, but come on. Why is Lucy setting an alarm for 4 a.m. and going out to the pumpkin patch to get Linus? That’s really something his mother or father should be doing, not his sister.

linus

Also, what kind of parents let their elementary school-age son spend an entire night in the pumpkin patch? And without a jacket?

And speaking of the pumpkin patch, there’s a scene near the end when Sally is all pissed off because she spent the evening hanging out in the pumpkin patch with Linus instead of trick-or-treating. She physically assaults Linus and demands restitution. I would like to go on record as saying that Sally is way out of line here. She chose to skip trick-or-treating of her own free will. Linus is not responsible for her poor judgment. Own that shit, Sally.

sally

And finally, what kind of asshole gives out rocks to trick-or-treaters on Halloween? This is clearly a kid who didn’t get any help with his costume from his parents, and you punish him by giving him a rock instead of candy?! What the hell is wrong with you? I bet these assholes have Trump signs in their yards.

charliebrown-rock

So anyway, in a few weeks we will be watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and the strange and dark “The Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers,” and I will have a lot of questions about those, too, so stay tuned.

 

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Birthday Wrap Up

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin and I had a great birthday. Thanks for asking, you guys.

In the past, my mighty, mighty good man David and I took the day off from work, and we kept Calvin home from preschool and we did something fun. This year, we decided to send Calvin to school so he could have an afternoon cupcake party with his school buddies.

There are birthday parties at the preschool all the time, but the parents always bring in cupcakes made with egg, and since Calvin is allergic he can’t join in. Sometimes, the teachers give us a heads up and I bring in a special vegan cupcake for Calvin, or another special treat like popcorn. And sometimes the parents remember Calvin’s allergy and they bring in Oreos for him, which he loves, but they are no cupcakes.

This year instead of making 35 vegan cupcakes from scratch for the kids, I opted to use an egg replacer and made funfetti cupcakes from a box, because I’m busy and how dare you judge me! I don’t think they taste as good as my cupcakes, if I don’t say so myself, but they turned out great, and the kids were happy – especially Calvin. See?

cupcake

On Saturday, we had a little barbecue at our place for both Calvin’s birthday and my birthday (because ME ME ME), and I made my cupcakes for that party, so you can back off, Judgey McJudgeinstein.

We had a little pre-party excitement in that Toby decided to make a run for it again. Bad dog. This time I was walking him down the front steps and he was startled by a loud noise and wiggled right out of his collar. You see, I had just slapped the leash on his collar instead of using his harness. That will never happen again.

So, 20 minutes before the party was supposed to start, our dog ran away. Awesome, right?

David was at the store getting ice, so Calvin and I chased him for a while but he’s super fast, and we couldn’t keep up. Eventually, David came home, and he tagged in, and Calvin and I went back to the house to await guests.

I was upset. “Where’s your new dog, Sonia?” they’d ask. “Oh, he ran away,” I’d have to say.

I started panicking. I mean, really panicking, like having a panic attack. I was hyperventilating. I was thinking about taking an Ativan, but instead I called my sister, because I knew she was on her way to the party. While I was on the phone with her, David walked through the door with Toby. With the help of some amazing neighbors, David was able to catch him before any of the guests had arrived.

I was so relieved. I started hugging David and crying. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” I cried. “He got away from me. I’m so sorry.” I was sobbing

Calvin came up to me. “Mommy’s crying,” and he hugged me.

After that, I opened a beer, and that seemed to help settle me down. Beer is awesome like that.

toby-doggy

“I love to make Sonia cry. It’s my thing.”

The party was a big success … I think everyone had a good time. There was one other unfortunate event. My buddies Beegs and Sass’ little 2-year-old boy Levi got sick. He vomited a few times. Meh. Toddlers throw up, right? We were sure he was fine.

Well, it turns out that he had a nasty stomach flu. Beegs got it. Sass got it. My aunt Jeanne got it, and then I got it. What an unexpected party favor for everyone! Eh, what can you do? Kids get sick. It happens. It was a nasty flu. I feel bad that little Levi was that sick. Poor kid.

So, Sunday was my birthday, but luckily for me, this virus didn’t kick in until Monday morning. I’m so lucky, right?

Actually I do feel lucky. I had a good birthday. We took Toby to the dog park. Then we got back in time to watch the Giants beat the Dodgers and secure a spot in the Wild Card game, which they won on Wednesday, by the way, because even year, duh. Good buddy Kate came over to Calvin sit, and David and I went to dinner at a vegan sushi restaurant. Vegan sushi is a thing, and it’s awesome.

vegansushi

sushi

One of the sushi rolls in the restaurant listed “suspense” as an ingredient.

Me: “What does suspense taste like?”
Waitress: “Actually, this roll comes with a shot of sake, and one of the pieces has a super-hot spice in it. If you eat the spicy piece, you get to drink the sake shot. That’s the suspense.”
David: “If you really want suspense, you should hide meat in one of the pieces.”

I had a delicious dinner with my handsome husband, who bought me a dorktastic “Star Trek” necklace that I absolutely adore. Sure, the next morning I had a stomach flu that knocked me on my ass for two days, but I’ve been sicker.

necklace

Seriously, every day is like my birthday with these guys. I couldn’t be happier.

myguys

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House arrest

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin caught a cold, so we spent the weekend in the house.

On Saturday, we didn’t even change out of our pajamas. I’m not going to lie to you, it was kinda rad. It’s not rad that Calvin caught a cold, but it was rad to just spend a day at home doing pretty much nothing. I mean, we did do some stuff. Stuff = laundry. We finally hung a framed photo that had been sitting around for a while. I made a baked ziti with spinach from Thug Kitchen. Calvin spent his recovery time lining up cars on a table and watching a lot of “Curious George.” Yep, he’s back on “Curious George.”

cars

Gee, I wish Calvin had more cars to play with.

On Sunday, he still had a runny nose and a cough, but he was so cooped up that we took him to the mall for some quick shopping. The Serramonte Mall in Daly City has a pond in the middle of it now. It’s got fish and turtles, and signs asking people not to throw in coins or trash. Guess what’s in the pond? If you guessed coins and trash, you are smart – probably smart enough to read a sign and definitely smart enough to know that throwing coins and trash into a pond that contains turtles and fish is a dick move. Ugh. People are the fuckin’ worst.

mall-pond

You can’t see it very well, but Calvin is talking to a turtle, and the turtle is looking right at him. I think they understood each other.

So anyway, Calvin super loved watching the turtles swim, and I super love shopping so it was a win-win.

Oh, by the way, I want to say a big thank you to everyone for your kind words on my blog post about panic attacks. The comments on the blog and on Facebook we’re really nice, and I’m grateful. I’m glad I wrote about it. I always feel better after I write about it. Writing is excellent therapy.