Red, White and Blue

Dear Addie, 

It's that time of year again! Yep, you guessed it - its time to bust out the thunder shirts, and anxiety meds (for the pups of course...) as our great country celebrates Independence Day! 

Cue the fireworks! Cue the barbecue!  Cue the parade & patriotic music!  It's the Fourth of July!

While technically Independence Day is specifically on July 4th, much to the displeasure of most family pets and many people with sensory challenges, you'll hear fireworks all month long.  While in the past, this was a sure fire invitation to see SADdie, this year was much better than expected!  Let me explain...

We happened to be back in Michigan for the week when our hometown (Rochester Hills, MI) put on their annual fireworks extravaganza, right down the street from where mom & dad grew up.

Knowing how critical our "sensory management" of the evening was going to be, your Papa Menzo woke up early and went to the park to claim the perfect viewing spot. I have to imagine that this is a rather unusual sight for any first time visitors rolling through town.  By mid-afternoon, the local park is filled with a sea of empty chairs, tarps and blankets, all saving seats for optimal viewing later in the evening. 

Daddy and I went back and forth most of the day, deciding whether or not we were going to take you on this fireworks show adventure. We knew you'd like the colors in the sky, but with the sensory overload of the loud "booms", overabundance of people, and carnival style light up toys everywhere, we were unsure to how you'd respond (despite Papa's stakeout efforts!). 

It could be great, or or turn into straight up "fight or flight" mode - never know what you'll get in a situation like this!

In the end, we decided to go for it! I started to mentally prepare myself, thinking of the little nuances that would let us succeed in this environment...

"Remember to identify a quick exit"

"Do I have snacks, drinks, and PINK SQUARES?"

"Should I bring headphones in case it gets too loud?"  (Although you're still not a fan of them on your head.)

These thoughts and more were running through my head!

But first...we had to make a quick stop at Grandma and Papa Menzo's house. 

As we were gathering ourselves and packing up to head out to the show, we heard the first boom outside, and saw a fountain of light in the sky from their backyard. I ran to see, and sure enough it was a pretty decent view! As luck would have it, we walked across the street to the vacant golf course lawn and had our own perfect, private viewing!  Wow!  What a Godwink!

To make it even better, you found the perfect seat - all 70 lbs of you balancing on Daddy's strong shoulders - nice job babe ;). You were happily stimming and repeating each color as it flashed in the sky "Green!" "Purple!" "Yellow!"

No crowds-just us. No excess light up toys-just ours. And the noise was minimal.

It was perfection. 

But wait, our 2017 fireworks didn't end there!

A few days later, we headed back to NC to celebrate with our friends. Having had such a great experience with your first fireworks display, we were excited to see how you would do with it all again - NC edition. 

Much to our surprise just about every house in our neighborhood had something to light off that night! 

First up was our next door neighbors with some low-key ground fountain type fireworks. Not sure if it was the sound or just the close proximity, these fireworks sent you running! Literally! You ran to seek refuge on the other side of Mr. Brian's car parked in the driveway. 

You seemed to find calm in running up and down the driveway, shuffling through discarded grass clippings at the edge of the street. 

Then without warning...BOOM! From a street away, The Pekera's took the "Go big or go home" mantra to a whole new level!  They decided to "Go big" AT  home!

Mr. Doug's fireworks took the cake and lit up the sky with the familiarity that you'd seen just a few days prior at the golf course in Michigan. You were once again happily stimming and jumping with excitement! 

So we celebrated this great country and saw the fireworks twice Addie - great job baby! Thanks to a pit-stop in Michigan and some awesome neighbors in North Carolina, it was a great "sensory friendly" success! 

Can't wait to do it all again next year!