The Sonia Show

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


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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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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!