Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lego Competition Champion!

Youngest entered a local Lego competition (not an official Lego event). I was nervous for the "typical" mother hen reasons--I wanted him to win and not be disappointed! Those reasons I can deal with easier; it was the autism side of things that was truly worrisome: Z considers himself to be a creative builder, he loves the Lego company, he asked people to come vote--so in his mind, he should win. He told anyone and everyone he spoke to about the contest and asked them to please come vote for him. He could understand when I would explain to him he might not win but I'm not sure he could completely grasp it, which actually made things even more stressful. I reminded him over and over that just entering the contest took bravery and made him a winner, and since this was his first competition, and he was competing in the 6th-12th grade level (being a 6th grader) it would be a learning experience for the next time. The other issue causing me concern was whether he would be able to leave his Legos somewhere! He has left minifigures or vehicles or even one little Lego piece in places and would stress and worry until they were safely back in his hands. 

As the day approached his anxiety levels increased. He was so excited that the day to drop off his entry (a built, then re-built, then re-built, then re-built again, then again re-built firehouse) had finally arrived! Excitement+autism=TOO MANY EMOTIONS! He was as nervous waiting for the drop-off time to arrive as a dad in an old time movie waiting to hear news of the baby arrival, so much so that we got there 30 minutes early! Thankfully the facilitator of the contest warmly invited him to leave his creation. The look on his face as we started to drive away was heartbreaking; I asked him what was wrong and he told me it felt very weird leaving his Legos. I'm thrilled he was able to express his emotions to me but my heart lurched at what I feared was just the beginning of emotion overload...

The next 48 hours were rough; Z was edgy, emotional, and even somewhat aggressive. He had meltdowns at not just one store (which is so unusual for him) but two different stores! As I've written before, Z's meltdowns don't look like a meltdown to most people, I'm sure; however these were both meltdowns with one even including raised voice, slamming a freezer door, and attempting to stomp away from me. The humor in those moments is that when he does get angry and walks away, especially when a parking lot or street is involved, he only goes a certain distance and then--again especially with streets/parking lots--waits to grab my elbow. More on that in another post!

The day arrived and he was dressed spiffy and ready to go...only one problem, it was only 7am and we weren't arriving until 1pm! In spite of the clock definitely moving backwards at times, we finally headed out.
Very nervous young man on the ride to the competition

We arrived to find people already there voting for "Crowd Favorite". Z was at least able to relax a little because the formal judging had already been done earlier in the day. Some friends and family were there to support him--and vote for him, of course! ;) 

It was fun to see so many great creations, and it was very cool to see how much admiration was expressed over his firehouse! The rules for this competition were: no sets, no modular pieces, and the creation had to fit within a 12"x12" area and be no taller than 24". To quote Z, "It took a lot of 
hard work to think outside the box while inside the box!"

Finally, it was time for the awards to be announced. I prayed for him to just at least get a participation certificate! He takes certificates seriously, so when they said everyone would get a participation certificate I felt like I could breathe at least a little. As they began the announcements, the kids were asked to sit on the floor. 
They began with preschool and worked their way up, first through "Most Creative". I gasped when his name appeared on the screen for his age group! It happened again for "Best Architecture"...

 and the BIGGY "First Place"!

Getting his prizes and ribbon

Absolutely unimaginable ending. NOT that I don't think he's great at designing and building Lego creations--I just wasn't sure how anyone else would "see" his work. To say we were all incredibly happy is the understatement of the millennium. Legos are so much more to him than toys or building blocks; Legos are part of who this child is and who he will become. For Z, this was just further confirmation that his plan to work for The Lego Group will be reality. For me? It was an overwhelming journey of emotions leaving me drained but full of gratitude. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hope for Ella request for help

Ella's parents (my nephew and niece Chris and Terri) are hitting the bottom of their finances. Terri was reluctant to ever start any kind of fundraising for them personally; however they are barely halfway into Ella's chemo treatments and money is becoming a HUGE issue with travel costs back and forth into Philly, all the co-pays for things that are covered, all the expenses that come along when you are spending 8 or more hours at the hospital treatment days. In addition to all physical medical costs, Ella has developmental special needs requiring treatment (such as social skills groups, educational counseling, etc) which is very expensive. You can look back through my blog posts, searching for HopeforElla, or you can go to Ella's Blog for more information about my sweet great-niece and her amazing family.

Please help if you can, any little bit will help lighten their load--sharing is an enormous help too. They have more than enough to worry about, let's make money one less thing. Please  Click here to help with Ella's Medical Expenses  Thank you!