Manha Manha

Whenever our family goes on trips, Dude and I inevitably have to share a bed. This would be fine except for a few facts:

  1. We are both grown adults and hotel beds aren’t particularly large.
  2. Dude wakes up during the night at least once and either falls back asleep immediately or stays awake for multiple hours.
  3. I am a light-ish sleeper.
  4. Especially when I’m in any place that isn’t my own bedroom.
  5. I become a tall two-year-old when I am sleep deprived.

When we last left off on our Maryland adventure, we were on our way to that great state and Dude was jumping out of his skin excited.

As I mentioned in my last post, we hate noon games. The reason we hate noon games is because the band begins rehearsal four hours prior to kickoff. And Dude needs to see rehearsal in its entirety. Which means we need to be on campus by 8am at the very latest. Which means we need to wake up at 5:30am so 3/4 of the family can shower. (Yours truly is the only smart one who showers at night.)

On Friday night, everyone got in bed around 10:30-11pm with the 5:30am wake up time in mind. Dude passed out immediately. Our parents fell asleep quickly. I proceeded to lay there with my eyes wide open. I was finally starting to get sleepy at 12:30am when Dude popped out of bed and rushed over to where his Maryland jersey was hanging to examine it.

Dude has never attempted to leave a hotel room before, but my brain subconsciously decided it wasn’t taking any chances. It took about 10 minutes to convince him to get back in bed, and then he laid there humming until about 4-4:30am. Or at least that’s when I finally fell asleep.

Fell asleep at 4:30am. Alarm set for 5:30am. Tall two-year-old when sleep deprived.

Luckily, I was so excited to see friends that adrenaline carried me through Saturday. The day was beautiful, the Terps won, and Dude was the happiest camper you ever did see. (He had a few freak outs, but they were of the IHAVESOMANYHAPPYEMOTIONSANDIDONTKNOWHOWTOHANDLETHEM variety rather than the THISISTHEWORSTGETMEOUTOFHERE variety.)

At the end of the game, my friends were all, “Let’s go out in DC tonight!” And I was all, “HAHA no.”

I’m exhausted. Dude’s exhausted. Everyone is going to sleep well. It’s going to be great.

At 3:28am I was awoken by Dude shooting out of bed and running across the room to the closet area, presumably looking for his jersey.

Oh heeeeeeccckkk no, I thought. (Ok, let’s be real. “Heck” wasn’t the word I thought.)

“Get back in bed,” I hissed.

Dude wandered back over to the bed and stood on his side wringing his hands.

“Get back in bed,” I repeated.

He finally did. At 4:00am.

And this is where my life gets hilarious.

Dude has a habit of humming to himself when he’s in bed and not quite asleep. It’s his comfort thing.

When he laid down, he hummed nothing notes for a few seconds. Then he began singing,

“Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo dooooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.

Doo doooo doo doo doo. Phenomenon. Doo doo doo doo. Phenomenon.”

That went on for 30 minutes.

It’s moments like these, when you’re in a hotel room in Maryland and it’s 4am and you’re so tired and your brother is singing a song from The Muppets Show that you’re like, “HOW IS THIS MY LIFE RIGHT NOW?!?”

Editor’s note: It’s the song “Manha Manha” from The Muppets Show. But for some reason, Dude almost always says “phenomenon” instead of “Manha manha.”


Traffic Trouble

This past weekend was the annual family trip down to the University of Maryland to attend a football game. Otherwise known to Dude as The-Best-Weekend-Of-The-Entire-Year. (And just to be clear, I’m the one who attended Maryland. Not him.)

The reason the annual trip is Dude’s favorite is because of his deep and abiding love for the Mighty Sound of Maryland. (If you type “Mighty Sound…” or “marching band” into the search bar on this blog, you will find countless entries that attest to this fact.)

We headed down to Maryland on Friday afternoon since we had to get an early start on the festivities on Saturday. (Noon games are the bane of our existence.)

Our plan was to get on the highway by 3:30pm at the latest, so naturally we didn’t get underway till 4:30pm. I-95 during Friday rush hour. Lovely.

The second I got in the car, Dude began his litany of Maryland-isms in his sing-songy voice. “All gone for the marching band. All gone for the marching band. All gone! Soon we go to Maryland. Maryland football game. Maryland marching band. All gone for the practice field. All gone. Soon we go to the practice field.. to see the Mighty Sound of Maryland! All gone for the practice field!” (This went on for three hours. No exaggeration.)

Excitement was radiating off of his skin. He wanted to get to Maryland to see the marching band. Now.

He must have been frustrated with our slow pace because at some point during our crawl along 95, Dude suddenly sang,

“Noooobody knows the trouble I’ve seeeeen. Nooobody knows my sorrow.”

Dad almost ran off the road from laughing so hard.

Gustav Holst, Chuck Berry, and Harry Connick Jr.

I haven’t written a post in awhile about Dude’s music library brain, so I’m combining all musical moments from this past weekend into one post.

Harry Connick, Jr.

Our family is fairly strict about the No Christmas Music until After Thanksgiving rule. However, once Thanksgiving passes… Game on.

On Friday evening just before dinner, Dude saw my iPod laying out. “No big band! No big band!” he said while reaching for it. (I have a playlist of jazzy/big band music that he loves to listen to. Also, to understand Dude’s use of the word “No,” kindly refer to the Dude Language Guide.)

“How about we listen to the “Jazzy Christmas” playlist instead?” I counter-offered.

“Yes yes,” he consented.

Now as you might recall, Dude has a habit of rewinding things he likes and listening to/watching them over and over and over and over.

He let the playlist play through until it got to Harry Connick Jr.’s version of “Winter Wonderland” from When Harry Met Sally.

And then he rewound.

And rewound.

And rewound.

I lost count after the 10th time he did it (sometimes, I’m prone to exaggeration. However, I assure you that in this case I am not exaggerating).

Dude positioned himself no more than a foot away from the speakers. He turned his ear towards the speaker and soaked it all in, a contented smile on his face.

I didn’t even mind the repeat playings because that man can play the crap out of a piano.

Chuck Berry

“Run, Run Rudolph” came on the radio when our parents were driving Dude back up to his house at the end of the weekend.

Dude sang the guitar solo. He didn’t miss a note.

And then added in a harmony that wasn’t even in the song.

Because he could.

Gustav Holst

I’d be lying if I said that Dude was the only family member prone to random musical outbursts.

For some reason, I started singing part of Gustav Holst’s “Second Suite in F” as we were finishing dinner Saturday night. No idea why. Just go with it.

It was a piece my symphonic band played in high school. About 45 seconds into it, there is a baritone/euphonium solo.

I half sung, half hummed the solo part as I cleaned up the dishes.

Suddenly, I realized that I was being accompanied.

By my brother.

Note for note.

And he was adding his own lyrics about the Mighty Sound of Maryland.

At the end of the musical phrase, I stopped and looked incredulously between Dude and our dad, who was also watching and listening with an amused look on his face.

“Oook,” I said slowly. “There are two possibilities here. Dude, do you remember that solo from when I practiced it repeatedly eight years ago?”

“Or,” Dad jumped in, “Is his ear so good that he just naturally knows where the musical phrase is going?”

Dude made no response. He just kept smiling and humming to himself.

8 Photos of Dude in His Happy Place That Will Make You Happy

Many online forums (Buzzfeed, HuffPo, Thought Catalog) have been using countdowns to title their posts, so I thought I’d hop on that bandwagon to snag your attention.

Recently, Dude got to go to his happy place.

Otherwise known as the University of Maryland.

First, he got “in the zone” while watching the marching band run its practice several hours before kickoff.

photo (7)

photo 1

Then, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes before kickoff because you HAVE to see the teams running their drills and you CAN’T miss the band trucking in or performing their pregame show. (God forbid the Maryland football announcer ever quits or dies. I don’t know what Dude would do if someone else announced “The Miiiiightyyy Souuuuuuuuund of Marrrrrrylaaannnnndddddd!”)

And then, Dude ran through all his scripts and smiled and giggled and had a grand old time.

photo 2

photo 4

Pure joy

photo 3

photo 5

photo 2 (2)

Note the blurriness of his hands. He was either clapping or flapping in his excitement.

photo 1 (2)

See? Aren’t you happy now?


Soon we go to Maryland?

Two things are important for you to know in order to appreciate this story:

  1. Dude’s love for the University of Maryland is not a casual thing. He knows the words to most of the school songs (I’m willing to bet 85% of Maryland grads don’t know the Alma Mater by heart like he does). He knows the drum cadences. He knows “The Truck” inside out and backwards. He knows the tone of the football announcer’s voice.
  2. Dude has a reading comprehension level somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade. He can also spell, especially words that relate to his special interests. It’s worth noting that Maryland’s victory song ends with spelling it’s name, “M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D, Maryland will win!” Because expressive language isn’t one of Dude’s strengths, people often forget about his other word-related talents.

In Dude’s mind, autumn = Maryland.

Once the annual family vacation is over, Dude starts talking about the next major event due up, which is the annual family trip to a Maryland football game.

Hang out with Dude for 15 minutes between August and October/November, and this is what you’ll probably hear:

“Maryland! Soon we go to Maryland! In the fall! In the fall we go to Maryland. In November. In November we go to Maryland. Practice field! Soon we go to the practice field. No practice field. The Miiiiiighty Souuuuuuund of Marrrrrrrrryland! No saxophone! Maryland allll gone. All gone for Maryland. Maryland alllll finished. Football game. Soon we go to the football game.”

On loop. In his classic sing-songy voice.

As much as I love that he loves my university’s band and football team and that he has the language to express just HOW MUCH HE LOVES IT, it can get a teeeeeeny tiiiiiiny bit annoying.

Apparently Dude’s Maryland loop has not gone unnoticed by the staffers at his residential placement.

When we were visiting a couple weekends ago, one of the staffers asked us, “Umm are you guys going to M-a-r-y-l-a-n-d soon?” She spelled out “Maryland,” hoping to avoid a Dude Maryland-tangent.

“HAHAHAHAHA!” I laughed out loud as Dude’s head snapped around. “Spelling it isn’t going to help you! It’s one of Dude’s favorite words to spell.”

“SOON WE GO TO MARYLAND!” Dude said excitedly as he crossed the room and reached out to touch my chin to prompt me to echo him.

Getting in some sprint work on vacation

Yes, I’m still talking about vacation.

People find it hard to believe that I rarely fall asleep on the beach. On a recent day trip to the shore with my roommates, I actually did doze for a bit, which led me to a bit of a revelation. It’s not that I never fall asleep on the beach, it’s that I hardly ever sleep when Dude is present.

Now that Dude isn’t as big of a flight risk as he once was (picture 5 year old Dude unable to sit still and constantly chasing seagulls), our parents relax more on the beach. They put in their earbuds, recline their chairs, and close their eyes.

While Dude isn’t as likely to pop up and run away, he still has the randomly occurring angry outburst that results in some good old-fashioned sprinting. Awhile back (ok, 2.5 years ago), I wrote about Dude having one of those “incidents” at the beach.

On this vacation, we spent many long days on the beach. Our favorite times are either first thing in the morning or the late afternoon. The sun is warm, but not unbearable. The beach is much less crowded. It’s just lovely.

This was a late afternoon. Dad’s chair was completely reclined and he was asleep in it. Mom was listening to music and in the partially asleep state of sleep. Dude and I sat next to each other. I was engrossed in a book, and he was halfheartedly holding onto some brochures while looking around.

Suddenly, he popped out of his chair, made his angry noise, and took off running down the beach.

“Crap,” I muttered. I jumped out of my chair, threw down my Kindle, and sprinted after him.

I heard a confused, “Oh” behind me as Mom startled awake and pulled out an earbud to see what was going on.

Dude ran about 30 yards down the beach before slowing his pace as he approached the water. The ocean was very calm, so I didn’t have to worry about him getting knocked over by a wave. He went in the water up to his shins and stopped. He turned as I came up behind him. Dude was rubbing his thumb, index, and middle fingers together on each of his hands. You can judge how perturbed he is by how frantically he’s rubbing his fingers.

“What’s up, man?” I asked.

“Not yet,” Dude answered.

“Are you upset?”

“Yes yes yes.”

“Are you happy?”


Sigh. Sometimes it’s so frustrating that Dude doesn’t have the expressive language skills to be like, “Hey, we didn’t take a walk today and I would really like to take a walk but you all were sleeping and that annoyed me.” (I have no idea if that was the cause of this particular meltdown, but it was my best guess at the time.)

“Alright, bud. How about we do a lap in-between the jetties on this beach?”

“Yes yes.”

By this point, Dad had made his way down to where we were standing to assess the situation.

“Everything ok?” he asked.

“Yep. We’re gonna walk it out,” I responded.

“Hey, at least you can tell your trainer you got in some sprint work!” Dad smirked. (I did one of those crazy Tough Mudders back in June and worked with a trainer to get ready for it because I didn’t want to injure myself. I decided to continue seeing him once a week after the race because I learned a lot from him and wanted to keep progressing.)

So Dude and I walked back and forth on our beach. I went through the entirety of the Maryland Truck and the Mighty Sound of Maryland’s pre-game show. By the time I reached the Fight Song, he was smiling broadly.

No idea what caused the outburst, but at least he regulated himself quickly afterwards! Dude is such an enigma sometimes.

Dude and Maryland’s Homecoming Weekend

Two weekends ago was the long-awaited Maryland Homecoming game! Dude has been looking forward to going down to Maryland to see a football game since about March.

In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s game, Dude recited his favorite “scripts” having to do with Maryland. On loop. Here is a sample (to understand Dude’s use of the word “no,” please refer to the Dude Language Guide):

“Practice field. Soon we go to the practice field. No practice field. Practice field on Saturday. The Miiiiiighty Souuuuuuund of Marrrrrrrrryland! No twirlers. Dancers. Color guard. No cheerleaders. Saxophone! Alto saxophone. Tenor saxophone. Soon we go to the The Truck. Practice field. Practice field alllllll gone. All gone for the practice field. Practice field alllll finished. Football game. Soon we go to the Maryland football game.”

Imagine that repeated over. And over. And over.

We arrived in Maryland on Saturday morning just in time to see the band practice. Dude contentedly settled himself into his chair to observe his beloved band. As an added bonus, we ran into my freshman and sophomore year roommate, who Dude had a HUGE crush on.

Dude watching practice w/ me, Kim(!), and our friend Chris

Afterwards, we stopped by my friends’ tailgate. Dude stuffed himself full of a hot dog, chocolate chip cookies, chips, etc. He positioned himself right next to my friend’s oversized speaker to better enjoy the music.

Next, we ran up to the performing arts center so Dude could see the band step off and do The Truck. He grinned as they marched past, chanting their silly words which make no sense to the outside world.

After that, we headed to the stadium to watch the Terps lose in a heart breaker of a game. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t lose as a result of ONE PERSON’S FAILURE TO DO THEIR JOB (ahem, field goal kicker) after rallying in the last five minutes.

Luckily for us, Dude doesn’t care whether the Terps win or lose. He just like the experience of going to see them play.

The Maryland visit ritual continued the next day. We went to our favorite diner for breakfast, and then swung by the bookstore to pick out some Maryland swag for Dude.

Dude-ism #116

We’ve been trying more to have Dude actively participate in simple decisions that affect him. We’ll give him a choice of three desserts and have him choose. We’ll let him decide how he wants to spend his “unwind” time after he gets home from his program. We encourage him to select his breakfast in the morning.

When we got to the bookstore, Mom and Dad picked out several shirts for Dude. He got a football jersey and a long-sleeved shirt. For a third shirt, Mom was trying to decide between the red or black version of this long-sleeved shirt.

“What do you think?” she asked Dad and me, holding up both options.

I shrugged. Dad shrugged.

“Why don’t we ask Dude which one he likes?” Dad suggested.

Dad held up both options.

“Dude, do you want the red Maryland long-sleeved t-shirt, or the black Maryland long-sleeved t-shirt?” Dad showed Dude both the front and back sides.

Which one do you think he picked?







If you guessed both… you are absolutely correct!!!!

Sadly for Dude, he was overruled. The red shirt won.