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Posts Tagged ‘Autism’

Top Ten: Additional Reasons To Register For The Central Park Challenge (PHOTO edition)

One of my favorite events of the year is around the corner so I’m more than happy to tell you ten more good reasons that you should join our team, The Foorce Finale! But since it’s all pretty much been said already, why not show you ten more reasons to join us for 2014?

Read more…

A Voice For Neli

**Some of the articles (especially the first link) referred to in this post contain expletives and racial slurs, particularly the N word. Though I am uncomfortable with the language, I feel the issue is important and the articles are necessary to explore the entire story.**

I was working on another post this evening when I stumbled across an article about Reginald Latson, the autistic teen who was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. After that it was increasingly hard for me to concentrate on my light-hearted banter while this story gnawed away at me. So now I am off on one of my many tangents, but without the usual witty comments and jokes.

The articles I have been reading send a little thrill of horror through me. I want to stop reading them but, not unlike a car accident, I am sitting here gawking at the wreckage. There are thousands of links if you google ‘Reginald Latson’ or ‘Neli Latson,’ each one more disturbing than the last.

James is rarely, if ever, out of our sight with the exception of school, and even there he has a 1:1 para to help him throughout the day. But I think there will come a day when he is old enough to be out on his own, and it is my worst nightmare for something like this to happen to him.

Obviously I don’t know all of the facts nor do I know Neli Latson, but I do have an especially educated imagination in this case. I can imagine any police officer approaching James without realizing he is disabled. I can also envision a police officer giving James an order or speaking sternly to him and James getting really worked up over it – if they frisked him for a gun he would be terrified. God forbid if they ever, ever tried to put him in cuffs or put him in a police car. I have tried to restrain James in recent months over things like laying still for the dentist, getting blood drawn and having his blood pressure taken, the key word being tried. It is a simple fact that the older and bigger he gets the harder it is getting. James might be weaker than a typical 10 year old on an average day, but he is still big and can be surprisingly strong when he is in a panic.

Below are the links to several other articles I read, including Lisa’s website and petition for her son.

Here is the original article, which is a completely different story than the link above.

This is one of the less colorful post-sentencing articles I read through, though I encourage you to google a few more – the language and tone in each article can be astoundingly different. It looks as though he was kept in isolation for 8 months of the last year awaiting trial, and was sentenced to 10 1/2 years for assaulting a police officer. The sentence was recently reduced to 2 years, which is part of the reason it is back in the headlines.

Click here to go to the petition site that his mother, Lisa Alexander, has created in the hopes of breaking the story to national media. She also created a website with more information, avoiceforneli.com

My heart goes out to Neli’s mother, Lisa Alexander, and her family. I’m trying to empathize with her situation without thinking too deeply about James, because it is just too gut-wrenching of a subject for me to make personal. Do your own reading and come to your own conclusions. I’m not here to act like I know what happened, but I’ll probably be up tonight thinking about it.

A Special Day For Special Kids at West Hills Day Camp on July 30, 2011

As summer approaches I have spent more and more time looking for fun activities and events near NYC for James, and last night I stumbled across this one – it looks promising.

Below is a description of the event as well as a map of the grounds, taken from the site http://www.specialdayforspecialkids.com:

The 7th Annual Special Day for Special Kids (SD4SK), being held on Saturday July 30, 2011 at West Hills Day Camp, is excited to bring you a Summer Festival like no other. SD4SK is dedicated to children with special needs, a place where children of all ages, with autism spectrum disorder, Asperger syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, OCD, and other related neurobiological disorders, can feel comfortable enough to let go and just have fun in a safe environment. While these Special Kids are enjoying the many activities being offered, we will be bringing information and resources to parents and professionals in the field. Years prior, we have welcomed over 500 patrons to this event, and this year, we expect even more. 

SWIMMING – BASKETBALL – ARTS AND CRAFTS – GIANT SLIDE – CASTLE BOUNCE – MINIATURE GOLF – PADDLE BOATS – EURO BUNGEE – PLAYGROUNDS – AND MUCH MORE!!!

The site has many more details about the big day including a list of expert presentations – some of the experts will speak about life care planning, ABA therapy, motor speech disorders, due process rights at school and government benefits.  The stage schedule varies from reptile shows to dance performances. Ticket prices are very reasonable, and even less $$ if you buy them online.

Patience and Foortitude, Part 3: Just Foortitude This Time, With Special Guest Appearance By Windex

As I picked up pieces of mushroom from the bathroom floor, I noticed that my foot was bleeding ever so slightly – I must have missed another tiny sliver of glass. I silently (okay, not so silently) cursed Corelle, makers of the supposedly unbreakable dishware. The only thing that kept me from becoming hysterical was brainstorming potential titles for my post this evening, because I sure as hell had a story to tell.

It started off as a Medium kind of day. James had a medium morning, not thrilled to get up but not upset enough for any theatrics. My 2 year old discovered bras today, and spent the morning putting bras on herself, her head and every stuffed animal in sight. Only medium cute after she got two clasps stuck in her hair and bent them – I don’t have that many bras. My cranky, crying, screechy, teething 8 month old was having a not-so-great day, but one out of three isn’t that bad – it’s almost a given that at least several days a week, one of the three kids is going to have a not-so-great day.

So let’s fast-forward to see how things got from Medium to Extreme (see Patience and Foortitude Part 2: Extreme Parenting).

3:00pm

I picked James up from school and we paid our fifth trip in a row to Walgreens. The pharmacy had misplaced one of his prescriptions I had dropped off the week prior, and because I might sell Vyvanse on the black market we had to have a whole new prescription written and mailed in. The pharmacy called our neurologist (who for now shall remain nameless) last Tuesday, June 7th, but apparently they did not mail a new script until Friday, June 10th. Monday, June 13th rolled around – still no script, and now I had run out of Vyvanse for James. So, since Monday we had been making a daily pilgrimage to Walgreens to check for our prescription, and when it wasn’t there, pick up a single pill to tide us over.

Today was no different – the mail from “Friday” still had not arrived. We waited for 15 minutes for our single pill, and I left with a medium amount of frustration. Let’s be honest, 15 minutes in “Multiple Kid Time” really feels like at least an hour. I mentally added another 30 minutes because I had a fussy teething 8 month old baby strapped on.

3:30pm

On our way home James stops to stare at a beggar sitting outside of Duane Reade. The man calls over to him and James, instead of walking away or toward him, just kind of stands there and stares. I give him a little poke in the back to keep things moving (my 8 month old is still crying and my 2 yr old has stripped down in the stroller to her diaper at this point) and James, in his usual style, reacts as though I  have stabbed him.

He is still kind of grumbling about it as I carry the stroller into our building. An older woman is holding the door and as we walk through James explains to her, “It really hurt when my mom nailed me with a nail in my back.”

4:30pm

Homework done after only an hour of prodding. Baby still screaming – nursing, laying him in the crib, carrying him around, even the plastic cup of water is not distracting this guy. I can tell the noise is getting to James because he repeatedly claps his hands over his ears, none to gently. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, my 8 month old sounds eerily like an amplified tea kettle when he is screaming. It is truly an ear-shattering experience for anyone, let alone James and all of his noise issues.

5:00pm

Husband working late for the 6,893rd day in a row (in “Multiple Kid Time” this is not an exaggeration). Despite continued screaming, I try to make the best of things and let the kids help me cook dinner. James and my 2 yr old get into a fight over the pasta and spill the full strainer into the sink. I put some pasta on paper plates for them and set them up at the other counter. The sink looks clean enough – pasta goes back into the pot.

5:20pm

I walk into the kitchen where my 2 yr old is working on her second banana. She looks up with a guilty expression on her face. I see more pasta and half a peach on the counter. There are banana peels on the floor and banana juice everywhere. Banana juice? Wait a second… my daughter has already dashed from the kitchen as I realize what has really happened. There is a pair of pink underwear on the kitchen floor too. Banana juice, good grief – I must be losing it. I get the Windex out.

5:35pm

The baby is finally down for a nap. Kids are helping to set the table. My daughter grabs a stack of bowls and runs out of the kitchen. “Come back here,” I call. “We need to put food in those bowls!” She tears back into the kitchen and promptly drops the bowls on the floor, where they all shatter. In an effort to escape the situation, she runs back out of the kitchen, through the broken glass. Corelle, I am very disappointed in you.

Miraculously, her feet are untouched. I wish I could say the same for mine.

5:55pm

Glass cleaned up – I even re-Windexed the floor after sweeping to make sure I got all of the tiny pieces. Baby still napping – hooray! I feel bad about losing my temper over the bowls so we make Shirley Temples together for a special treat. We sit down for dinner – James and his sister fight over seats and the last remaining glass bowl. I eat from Bob the Builder plasticware.

6:15pm

I go to start the shower for James and stop dead when I open the bathroom door. There is poop on the floor in front of the toilet – ugh. I hear my 2 yr old running away as I call out,” Who had an accident?” (I would’ve run away too at this point.) Apparently she has decided to clean out her own potty chair and this is the result. I go back to the kitchen for some plastic  bags. And the Windex.

6:30pm

I am sudsing James up in the shower when tragedy strikes. Some water gets into James’s ear! He goes crazy and the shower now becomes a soap-crazed wrestling match. Shouts of “You’re getting me wet!” and “Don’t touch my ear – you’re hurting me!!” can be heard throughout the apartment, and there’s no telling which one of us is yelling what.

The baby is woken by the shower extravaganza.

6:31pm

I carry my 8 month old out to the dining room. My 2 yr old is sitting at the table with a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels. The table is covered in pools of clear liquid. The bag of bread and tub of butter is covered in Windex. The mail is soaked through. The dishes are wet. I put my daughter into time out, put the baby down and get to work on the mess – they both immediately start screaming.

6:45pm

I grab the baby and go to get James out of the shower. James is happily standing in the shower coating himself in daily shower cleaning spray. He is pretending it is a gun of some sort, and seems kind of annoyed when I interrupt (very loudly) “What are you doing???!! Put that down!”

I re-shower James as my 2 yr old comes in to poop again. This time I am there to empty the potty chair for her. Or so I think. As I straighten up with the bowl in hand (and baby in the other), my daughter tackles me, screaming “I can do it my big girl self!” The bowl spills all over the floor. I put her back into time out, send James to his room to get dressed, and put the baby down again. Complaints all around. I go get the Windex.

7:15pm 

We are all seated back at the table, playing a makeshift version of Pictionary before bed (I am working on a post that explains the modifications I make to regular boardgames for James). James draws a great insect and my daughter makes four circles for “Four Eyes.” They both guess that my golfer is a woman sweeping. I fill two little cups with mini-marshmallows as a joint dessert/prize for kicking my butt. I feed the baby a late dinner of yogurt and pasta.

7:45pm

I am sweeping up the kitchen and dining room while my daughter follows me around whining, “Hold me, mommy, hold me.” I am already holding her brother. I compromise by singing all of the songs from The Little Mermaid as I sweep. James joins in – it is a sweeping success.

8:00pm

I give James his medicine and send him to wait in his room while I put the leftovers away. My 8 month old is quiet now, as long as I am holding him. As I silently congratulate myself on my one-handed mastery of packing food away, he casually swats the tupperware, sending it crashing to the floor below. Pasta, sausage, mushrooms, onions and tomato sauce are everywhere. I place him on the floor. He starts to cry while simultaneously eating as much pasta as he can get his hands on. I get out the Windex.

8:30pm

We are all camped out in James’s room while I read The Magician’s Nephew to him. Against direct orders, my daughter is repeatedly jumping off of James’s bed to make her little brother laugh, and is succeeding. She accidentally kicks him in the head. I put her in time out. I finally finish the chapter with two babies in my lap, sniffling.

8:35pm

I tuck James in and we all have an “air-kiss battle” for a few minutes, where we see who can smack who out of the room with the best air-kiss (think Mario meets Star Wars). James wins, much to my daughter’s dismay. One kid down. My mood lightens considerably.

9:00pm

I am laying in bed with the two babies, reading Goodnight Moon for the third time in a row. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – I’ll read this book sixteen more times if it means more peace and quiet followed by sleep. Thankfully, it takes only one more read.

9:45pm

I sneak out of my room and duck into the bathroom. I step on something soft and squishy. I take a deep breath and look down. It’s a mushroom. Huh? On further examination I can see at least half a dozen sliced mushrooms on the bathroom floor. I also notice a red smear on the floor and realize it’s coming from a piece of glass still stuck in my foot from earlier. I grab the Windex.

 

There are more balloon vendors in Central Park than Starbucks in Manhattan

Let me start off by saying that most of the weekend was great – beautiful weather, lots of outdoor time, picnics with friends, sprinklers, sand, tired but happy kids – overall a lot of fun and time together as a family. But, as often is the case on Monday holidays, my husband went to work yesterday and I decided to adventure out again with the kids. After all, Saturday and Sunday had been so pleasant and I was feeling optimistic with the sunny warm weather.

Below are the two emails that I sent upon my return from Central Park on Monday.

To my husband:

Subject: There are more balloon vendors in Central Park than Starbucks in Manhattan

Finally back from our hellacious trip. Amazingly hellacious. I never want to see a balloon again. But we made it to Heckscher park come hell or high water and played for 20 minutes to make the surrounding hours of misery seem more worth it. And I got a good workout with both babies strapped on in 90 degree heat. And the kids are exhausted so bedtime should be quick and painless tonight.

How is your day going? I’m making taco salad for dinner.
Love you,
M
To the woman I was meeting for a day at the CP zoo and playground:
Subject: today
Good evening,
Things have finally calmed down around here and I wanted to send you a note before bed. I’m sorry about earlier – I don’t know what I was thinking bringing the kids into such ridiculous crowds, heat and chaos by myself today!
It was really hard to stay in one place for too long with all three kids – each of them wanted to get moving to a new section of zoo at a different time and they were hot and hungry to top it off. Then getting something quick to eat at the cafe turned into a noisy mess thanks to some screaming, tantruming kids at the table next to us. After James was on edge about all of the noise (with his hands over his ears the entire meal instead of eating anything), we kept running into balloon vendors on our way to the playground, several who approached us and tried to get us to take free balloons. James totally lost it by the 3rd vendor, and there were at least a dozen more on our windy trip through Central Park. It took over an hour to navigate a way from the zoo to Heckscher that didn’t involve balloons and by that time the kids (and I) were sweaty, stressed messes – James from the balloons and the rest of us from James’s terrified screaming. We played at Heckscher in the water for 20 minutes to cool down, calm down and for me to rest my back since I was carrying both babies – plus, I wanted my hours of heavy labor to result in something pleasant for the poor kids at that point. Of course afterward it took another hour to walk to CPW and hail a cab – on the way M found a little balloon and she and James fought about it all the way out of the park. So, meeting you at the next playground wasn’t even a remote possibility, though I would’ve liked to visit and catch up!
Michaela
I spent the day alone – much of the trip very unpleasant though none of my kids were being “bad.” This may sound crazy to some of you, but I am actually glad I was by myself. Would it have been easier with my husband there for company, to help carry a kid or man children at the zoo or playground? Of course. Am I glad he was spared the stress of the “epic balloon frenzy?” You bet. Would it have been easier to seek help from the friends I was supposed to be hanging out with in the same park? Perhaps. Was I worried about offending my friends or making them uncomfortable with James’s behavior? Actually, no. By method of natural selection we tend not to have friends who are made easily uncomfortable by a disabled child. In fact, I was probably more likely to have offended them by leaving without any notice. But, as I always say, having kids is not just a way to be popular.
The truth is that James needed the smallest audience possible if we were to leave Central Park alive. Balloons, or anything that could potentially make a popping noise (bubble wrap, plastic bags, fireworks, bonfires), are the number one phobia on James’s rather extensive list. And they are number one by a landslide – in fact, this phobia seems to be getting worse as James gets older, though many other fears have gotten a lot better. Now I know some of you are probably wondering why I brought him to the zoo if there are so many freaking balloon vendors. I swear, I have never seen anything like it, and we go to the zoo all the time. Usually there are one or two guys at the south entrance of the zoo and one to the north – I know to move quickly while distracting James and my toddler, one from flipping out and one from wanting a balloon very much.
On Monday there were clusters of them, every 10 yards or so. Several of the balloon-wielding lunatics approached us despite my death stares (I guess I need to brush up on that) and offered us free ones, which just about killed my daughter every time I turned them down. In between vendors, there were all of the kids with balloons – squeezing them, hitting each other with them, wearing them, improperly holding them – James pointed each child out by crying, telling me loudly about the balloon crime taking place, or my personal favorite, yelling at the child holding the balloon to “get away from me with that balloon, you!” and then crying. Sometimes his scream would be so loud and sudden that he would scare one or both babies, and then they would join him in crying.
Two hours after the zoo and many, many, many windy paths later, I gave up and decided to get to a street, any street, and find a cab – there is truly no place like home. I felt so bad for my children that the day had so little fun in it for all of our effort, felt sorry for James, felt frustrated with James, felt exhausted and hot and sweaty, and felt no small amount of loathing toward those balloon-wielding, plotting, devious maniacs that seemed to be more present than Nuts for Nuts carts. This is of course when we walked by Heckscher playground, our original destination.
James perked up. “Oh, good, we found it,” he said tearily. My daughter was sleeping on my back. After a moment’s hesitation, I woke her up and sent her and James racing into the playground sprinklers. 20 minutes later, wet, dirty and happy, we headed for home.
When I heard James scream this time, I turned around just in time to see my daughter gleefully running down the path with, what else. It was a very small, squishy, half-deflated purple balloon that she had apparently picked up off the ground and in her effort to keep it she was squeezing it very hard, sending James into a total frenzy. But she wasn’t ready to give up her prize without a fight – ironically my daughter just loves balloons. I thought quickly about how to best diffuse the situation without one of the kids totally flipping out.
Thank goodness for vendors. Two ice creams later we finally made it out of the park and into a taxi, where James talked about the fun sprinklers and my daughter talked about the penguins all the way home.

On Your Mark, Get Set….

Yesterday started the beginning of a very busy, chaotic, unscheduled period for James. If you know anything about people with ASD and the importance of schedules you know I’ll probably have a lot of material to draw on after the next few days. Yesterday was Field Day at school, a.k.a lots of competitive team sports games in Central Park a.k.a lots of 4th grade boys yelling over who made who lose and who is the best in 80 degree heat a.k.a potential for a complete and total meltdown by James.

On top of all of his issues James is also physically disabled – he truly can’t compete with his 2 year old sister, let alone a bunch of 4th grade boys who think that winning the tennis ball on a spoon relay race is the only thing that matters today. To further complicate matters, James doesn’t realize that he is not as good at running with a tennis ball on a spoon as everyone else, so he doesn’t understand why anyone would accuse him of “losing the race” for his team. James also doesn’t understand the game rules and will often be accused of “cheating” or think someone is “trying to steal the ball from him.” All of these issues have come up in several gym classes this year – in fact, gym is one of the most difficult yet favorite days of the week for James. It is as if he thinks it is going to be different every week, that he will be able to keep up with the other kids if they just change sports, or months.

Just like James doesn’t understand that he is not able to keep up with the NDI dance moves that the rest of the 4th grade has learned for their big end of the year dance performance today. Performances, I mean, three of them. Thinking about James making it through the day in one piece sends a thrill of fear through me, especially after watching his mid-year performance in December. The NDI program at PS 163 is really neat, and the performance in December was entertaining and impressive. There was a lot of cheering, loud music, fast dance moves, and “I can’t hear you” action going on, and though many people came up before and afterward to tell me how impressed they were with James being up there, it was heartbreaking to watch him “fake yawn” his way through the entire event. A fake yawn is James’s way of crying but pretending that he isn’t – he does it more and more as he gets more upset and it is killer to watch from afar. As his parent, his advocate, and his cheerleader it was incredibly hard to watch him struggle to keep up with everyone on the stage during the dances, and then watch him struggle to stay composed in front of everyone as they took turns screaming louder and louder for their favorite teacher, dance or just to cheer in general. The worst part was when they called James’s teachers’ names – his class screamed really loud, and James, determined to fit in, screamed really loud too, while sobbing. Ugh.

Afterward, James told me he had a great time and genuinely seemed proud of his performance and for staying up there through the entire event. I on the other hand questioned every decision I ever made to put him in a “typical” environment. Though it hasn’t been a perfect fit and it was a very difficult decision, my husband and I have always fought to have James in a public school CTT class so that he could be around typical peers and learn typical social interaction firsthand. Does James feel like he has to fit in at the expense of his comfort and happiness? Does he want to do be around these kids? Does he know he has a choice other than suffering through what other people enjoy? Or, is it good for him to learn how to fit in and for him to learn how to “deal” in uncomfortable and scary situations, a.k.a real life when mom and dad aren’t around? You have just visited my stream of consciousness during James’s fake yawn sessions.

Friday is a field trip with the 4th grade. Field trips make me nervous on many fronts. Will James remember to go to the bathroom? Will he be okay on the school bus, or worse yet, the subway (We have had some scary incidents with James stepping into the space between the platform and subway)? Will there be any performances or loud noises on the trip? Will he eat anything all day or be too excited and forget? Will anyone hang out with him or will he be all by himself on the trip?

James is very excited about NDI today and about his field trip tomorrow. If I ever dared suggest he sit out field day or NDI or a field trip he would be very upset. James is also excited when we say we’re going to a fair, amusement park, or beach until we get there and he realizes that there are balloons at the fair, fast rides at the amusement park or waves in the water at the beach.

So back to yesterday – field day at Central Park. I didn’t want to show up unless I was needed because often James is fine until he sees me and then he feels more comfortable getting upset – I’m sure many of you have experienced this phenomena with your own children. So I stationed myself at a nearby playground in Central Park with the babies and waited to see if anyone would text me with “Come get James.” Nobody did. When I went to pick him up from school his teachers told me it went really well. James told me on the way home that “it was close” on his tug of war and ring toss, and that he almost made some baskets in basketball. We talked about how winning wasn’t important and he seemed okay. No dramatics, no tears. The end.

So maybe I’m overreacting – maybe it’s not as bad as I think it is, maybe James has just grown out of it. Honestly, I don’t think so – did you read my post about last weekend? I think his teachers were as pleasantly surprised as I was yesterday. I think his awesome para (his aide at school) is a big part of the reason he did so well and she won’t be able to sit on stage with him during NDI. I am still nervous as hell about today, and I have a pit in my stomach when I think about James getting through all three performances with the cheering contests, loud music and fast-paced dancing.

I always say that my biggest goal for James is for him to learn life skills – coping skills and social skills – so that when I’m gone he is able to have relationships with others and deal with real life when I’m not there to shield him from it. Well, these are the beginnings of that goal becoming reality – it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. And what’s the worst that is likely to happen? It will probably be okay, even if there are tears and a bad night or two involved. Probably, like James, I need to learn how to let go and just get through it sometimes.

Since we’re still here…

I’ll tell you about what we actually did this past weekend.

Friday I took all 3 kids to a party after James got out of school. It was at the kids’ club where my daughter takes ballet and gymnastics, some Friday Family fun night they have every other week. It was supposed to be for ages 6 months to 6 years but I explained my situation with James to the manager and very sweetly she said he could come too.

I was a little nervous bringing him, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. I am comfortable discussing James’s disability and am an open book re: his diagnosis and special needs. He is also very well behaved for the most part and loves to play with younger children – it should all work out, right?

I think it was the other kids. Adults have a filter when discussing your very tall, obviously way too old to be here, talkative, anxious, disabled child. Most of them know what to say, what is okay to ask about, and most importantly, what not to say (“Um, is there a reason your son is hiding behind the pillar crying while Roly Poly Guacamole plays the guitar and sings Baa Baa Black Sheep?” or “Hey, I think your son is crying again because that toddler threw a ball near him.”) Kids generally haven’t developed a filter yet, which can be refreshing until you’re at the NY Kids Club trying to “protect” your 10 yr old from some pipsqueak who is calling him mean because “he is playing with all of the red balls out of the ball pit and he won’t let me throw them back in the ball pit” and not using an indoor voice and his nanny is on her cell phone looking at you like “Hey, take care of it- your much older kid is the problem” and all you want is for the pipsqueak to stop talking so loudly and for James to stop whimpering about “he took my ball” so that you can make sure your toddler isn’t going to flip right off of the trampoline she is jumping on with reckless abandon across the room.

Then, Roly Poly Guacamole played. Two guys with a bass and a guitar singing lots of kids’ songs – my daughter adored them and sang and danced right up front the entire time. The lead singer reminded me of Jack Black from School of Rock, a movie James likes a lot, so I thought he would probably be okay for the “concert,” a.k.a. 30 minute rendition of childrens’ songs with 1 tiny little amp, 2 guys with guitars and about 20 kids and their caretakers. Not exactly Madison Square Garden.

Nope. One song in, I think it was “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and I look over to see James silently but dramatically crying about 3 feet away from the bass guitarist and about 6 inches away from pipsqueak #2 who is pointing James out to his mom and drawing the attention of the performers as well. I whispered to James that he could sit in the back with a book (“No, that’s not allowed!”) or wait in the waiting room 10 feet away (“But Mom, it’s too far!”) if the music was upsetting him. James opted for taking the fetal position behind a pillar about 2 feet away and occasionally peeking out to make sure I knew he was still crying about each song, especially the ones where they had to jump up and yell “Yeehaw!” as loud as they could. My 2 year old remained blissfully oblivious to James’s distress and my 7 month old nursed and slept through the whole thing.

The second the music ended, James hopped up with a smile and said “That music was good. I had fun. I’m ready for pizza!” and walked to the pizza room with the other kids. In the pizza room, which serves as a dance studio during business hours, there were 3 tables set up with slices of pizza and tiny little chairs. Great, I thought, where is James going to sit without feeling awkward or nervous? Next to my daughter, of course. My gentle giant sat with all of the teeny tiny 1 and 2 year olds on a teeny tiny chair at a teeny tiny table and ate his slice of pizza, completely oblivious to the fact that he was the biggest by a solid 75 pounds and 7 years.

Saturday my husband was home, which is a rare occurrence lately, so we started the day off plus one for the good guys. We ended up at the “beach” at South Street. Here my toddler ran wild in the sand, trying to steal other children’s toys or share handfuls of sand with adults drinking very expensive drinks from clear plastic cups on those white “couches” on the “beach.” Here was James’s chance to shine! He lay in the sand with some modified sand toys – a plastic teething ring, a small rubber hippo, and a brio train with a tiny wooden bucket – and played contentedly for the entire time, only pausing from his bliss to tell us when his sister threw sand in his hair, twice. Wait, thrice. Later, we toured the Peking (the ship next to the mall) and then took James and Margaret to the Ice Cream Truck. I guess we haven’t gone very much this season, because James must have thanked Ryan and I about 30 times before his cone was gone.

Funny thing on Saturday: around 5:50pm we were headed home, coincidentally around The 6pm End of The World, when it suddenly got dark and windy. Did anyone else on the UWS notice that? I bet you were thinking hard about your lists right around then and wishing you had knocked off a few items. We didn’t do my list, but we did get some sand time and good food in there for good measure!

Sunday was baseball at Riverside and of course, the DMF concert I have been writing about for the last 2 months! The concert deserves its own post, and will get one with audio/video highlights as soon as I download “Hershey Love” on itunes and figure out how to share it with all of you. But, long story short for now, it was Awesome (no thanks to some very whiny babies). It was also awesome to see some friendly faces at the 4pm show! I also heard very good things about the 1pm show, especially “Luck Be a Lady” and the Wizard of Oz cast!

I hope you enjoyed some nice weather over the weekend! My blog got a much higher than usual number of hits this weekend, and I couldn’t figure out why until I saw the search terms – about 40 varieties of “end of the world” put into Google.