We are back from Charlevoix the beautiful. This was the week of the Venetian festival. It's a big week for the little town in the north west portion of the state. My children LOVE all of the activities that revolve around this week. I, personally, have a love/hate thing going on right now. I love our time in Charlevoix, I LOVE that the kids love the activities provided during venetian week, I love watching them have fun. I, personally, feel like it is some sort of Ground hogs Day or Groundhogs WEEK. It is always exactly the same. EXACTLY. Which, of course, Daniel LOVES. I mean, it is an autistic kids dream. Thursday we go to Kids Day and the carnival. We did get them to not go to kids day this year. Last year they were too old for it. Frankly the image of the pony guy trying to pull Daniel off the pony going around and around the ring still makes me giggle. I'd bet Daniel outweighed the skinny kid assigned to pull the children down and lift the next one on, while the pony's walk around and around. Daniel coming down the inflatable slide at full speed toward a 3 year old basking in the glory of his run, makes my blood pressure go up. Nope, we are done. Zachary was bored out of his mind last year, and Daniel accepted the fact that he is just too BIG. Hurray.
That meant straight to the carnival on Thursday. You aren't supposed to get your special "kids day" price on the arm band until 2:00. Todd got the brilliant idea to ask at 1:00 if we could just get it then. The carny said yes. Brilliant. We got an hour of moderate lines until the 2:00 deluge of kids standing in the lines of 8 rides. By the way, this equals LONG lines. The excellent thing this year is that Todd and I stood in line with the kids and they went on everything TOGETHER. Having a wonderful time yelling and screaming and enjoying it TOGETHER. This was nice. I did get a ticket to ride "Crazy Dance" with Daniel once. Zachary ran into a friend and he wanted to ride with him. I actually sort of wanted to ride and went with Daniel. Crazy Dance is sort of like a tilt a' whirl, but faster and with really really loud music playing. It was a great ride. I love that sort of thing. We rode together and I thought, had fun. We got off and Daniel said "now you are done, I can go myself". ahhh. Somewhere in there he is almost 13 and definitely doesn't want to ride a ride with his MOM duh. Well, I had fun anyway.
In this Ground hog day scenario Friday includes beach and Friday night fireworks at the same beach. I'll start with the beach. There are basically 3 beaches we go to in the little town of Charlevoix. One is by the public boat launch. Friday started with skies as blue as the lake. Glorious. Zachary and I jumped on our bikes and rode to the furthest beach, put our toes in and chatted. Just the two of us. It was really nice. We rode back to Sneathen base and had lunch. Grandpa got the boat ready and we headed back. But in this time it had clouded up. We were undeterred. We put the boat in, got in the boat. It was getting darker. My head was telling me this was NOT a good idea. My heart wanted to get in the boat ride. It's part of the schedule after all! Within 2 minutes we hit a trench of two wakes and a wall of water came up over the boat like I have never seen. Daniel was sitting in the front with Todd, I was right behind. The water came up over our heads. Note to internet, this summer has been COLD in Michigan the water was COLD. Daniel, while he loves the water most of all, does not like it in this situation. Did I mention, it was cold? The impending storm was making the air temperature drop faster than my hopes for a good ride. Then I was just freezing. I had on a bathing suit and a long sleeve, now soaking wet cover up. Daniel was crying. By the way, Zachary was sitting next to his Grandpa behind the windshield and ducked. He was the only dry person. We calmed Daniel down, but he was still upset that Todd's shirt was soaked. This kind of thing is very very upsetting to Daniel. I think he looks at Todd and sees a soaking wet shirt, he doesn't see himself and kind of forgot about that. But every time he looked at Todd he was SO concerned about his shirt. All weekend he kept asking Todd how his shirt was! This all went from bad to worse. The only ending to this portion of the story is that it started raining on us. HARD. Then everyone was just drowned and we had to wait in line to get to the boat launch. The thing that always makes me laugh looking back on these things is that we are all "oh, it's not a big deal, we are fine" and smiling like fools. When in fact, in my head I'm screaming "I'M FREEZING GET ME OUT OF HERE, I'M MISERABLE". It's amazing how trying to get your kids through an uncomfortable experience you learn to suck it up yourself. That is something I have learned. It is actually very useful for me to be horribly uncomfortable and put on a happy cheerleader face. It's funny because I am SO not a cheerleader. But for Daniel, I can be and will always be. We are teaching him to try to manage these situations and in turn learning to ourselves. It's all good.
That night is fireworks. The first of two fireworks. Daniel LOVES fireworks. The visual stimulation and beauty is glorious to him. We were PREPARED this time. After hanging out in the park at 10:00 it started raining. We all reached down and pulled up our umbrellas. Well almost all. My sister in law Amy and Todd's brother Mark were sitting there. She is still laughing about turning around and seeing up simultaneously put up our GIANT umbrellas. I knew it would rain. Of course it would, that's the way my day was going, so as we were finished playing with the washer toss, the football etc, I'd carry it back to the car so we'd have less to carry in the rain. I also grabbed umbrellas. Sure enough I was right. Be Prepared right??
Saturday was gorgeous. This is parade day. This will sound profoundly unAmerican, but I hate parades. Boring. And this parade is the same parade every single year. Groundhogs day. The only thing that changes is the queen that was just crowned for the Polish festival or the Elk Rapids queen, or the Venetian queen.... you get the picture, float after float of queens. The only parade I have ever enjoyed also involved queens but it was the gay pride parade in Chicago! Daniel loves the queens. He loves the tall guy on stilts, the bagpipers. The predictability of it all. He waves and smiles and yells at them all, all in his glory. The things we do for our children.
The day finishes downtown with a boat parade (yup another parade) on Round Lake. At dark the boats who enter parade through the harbor all decked out in whatever the theme they chose, covered in lights. My favorite this year was the dark boat, unadorned. It was called, "College Fund". I thought it was clever. . . . it ends with, yet again, more fireworks. That ends our ground hog week. We drove home on Sunday in the rain. Daniel was sitting on the couch last night and he said, "I'm really excited about our vacation to Niagara Falls and Massachusetts", just as natural as can be. He isn't anxious, he isn't worried. He's excited. That's what makes these all worth it. I think we may need to go back to get to get some better boat rides in though...
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