He Had Fun Despite the Snack Deficit

We all have routines.  Some more than others. This weekend was further evidence to me of how much patience my sister in law has and how blessed we are to have the family that we have.  Let me explain.

Chris and I had planned to take Carlton to Minneapolis for an overnight trip .  On the agenda:  the Mall of America, the Minnesota Zoo and a stay in a hotel with a pool.  Well, we can check all those things off now and I “think” it was successful.  Sometimes it is hard to tell but no blood was shed and we all came home in one piece so I consider that was a success.  (Never mind the dish that fell out of the cupboard before we left home and cut my toe..,)

The weather forecast was iffy so we decided to switch up our schedule and do the zoo trip on Saturday when it was not as strong of a chance of rain.  Good move on our part as it poured on Sunday.  The zoo was fun but quite honestly Carlton acted bored about 95% of the time.  I suspect it is because he really does not see very well despite attempts to get him to wear glasses.  He told me once he was not allowed to wear glasses at work.  Where he comes up with some of the ideas he has I have no clue and he is stubborn with a capital S.  If he gets it in his head good luck trying to change his way of thinking.

Highlights of the zoo were probably the snow monkeys:




The bears:



And the cats:




The hotel was perfect!  Our suite had 2 separate bedrooms and a living space with a kitchen in between so Carlton was beyond happy with that. We settled in and walked to a Mexican restaurant for a quick and yummy dinner.  When our food had settled we took Carlton to the pool so he could do one of his favorite things.  Unfortunately there were some rowdy teenagers there the entire time and he was a little scared by their loudness and didn’t want to swim too much but we tried!




The night went a bit downhill from there when Carlton realized that there were no snacks in the room other than the leftover carmel popcorn we had gotten at the zoo and a muffin leftover from my breakfast.  As I said—routine is his life and tonight there would be no 10 pm snack of a hotdog, a cookie and a can of pop.  Add to that the trauma of no Hallmark Channel on the hotel television selections and we were bordering on being negligent!   Chris was firm in his decision that Carl would survive without those and the end result was that Carl went to bed super early (compared to normal) and actually got a good nights sleep.  And he survived although he was counting down the hours until he could have that precious snack back in Iowa.  No  joke.

We got up Sunday morning and headed to the mall after the “normal” breakfast. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to get him a yogurt and orange juice from the breakfast bar when Chris and I ate!   The mall was not too crowded when we got there and we took him to the middle section which hosts all of the roller coasters and rides.  He was content to just look at them as he told me he got sick on a roller coaster the one time he rode one.  I was NOT going to force anything at this point!

Carl's new Bite Me undies!

Carl’s new Bite Me undies!

Successful at finding a new pair of OSU slippers !!!

Successful at finding a new pair of OSU slippers !!!

This was HUGE!!! Logan looked through an entire bin of slippers to find the one pair of OSU slippers that they had in inventory!!!  He was thrilled!

Lunch at Bubba Gump's

Lunch at Bubba Gump’s

Rainforest Cafe Frog

Rainforest Cafe Frog

"Vanna" showing the map of the mall!

“Vanna” showing the map of the mall!


Carlton loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and thought this part was pretty cool!

P1130686One more picture at Mall of America!!!!

Soon after he found the slippers he decided he had had enough and I guess 3 1/2 hours was pretty good for a couple of guys!  I am definitely taking girls next trip!!!  I had barely gotten started!   All the way home (when he wasn’t sleeping) he was talking about getting back into his regular schedule aka having a hotdog, cookie and soda at 10 pm.   🙂

We have Carlton 2 weeks out of the year if we are lucky.  His sister and family have him 50.  She has so much more patience and understanding than I have and I am so grateful that she and Carlton have the bond that they have.  He is blessed and does not even realize just how blessed he is.  I am blessed by her and DO know it.  When I see her on Friday I am going to tell her again how grateful I am .  Is there someone in your life you need to tell how much they have blessed your life? Don’t put it off……do it today.


  1. I think Carlton is so lucky to have his sister and you…

    • We just don’t even have a clue of what it takes to provide for him year round, you know? 2 weeks out of the year is nothing. I have so much respect for Chris’s parents and for all that they did over the years to provide for him and make sure that he had the best life possible. I was just glad he survived without his hotdog! 🙂

  2. Oh, Beth Ann. Parts of this post simply made me laugh, others sad, others wondering at the daily challenges. You did the best you could with Carl and I am sure he is grateful even though he will likely never express that.

    My fav pic is “Vanna” showing the mall map. Who has the sense of humor? You or Carl?

    All in all, I’d judge your adventures a success, too.

    • I think he had fun—it is hard to tell sometimes when he fixates on unrelated things but we tried! The hotdog thing about killed me, though! Gee whiz! Last night when we got home the container that I keep the cookies in had one broken cookie left. I heard him after I went to bed going “uh oh—-no cookies left”. I figured he would have brought some up from the freezer since he informed me he had “found” more there despite the fact they were buried in there. But nope—I was wrong. That lone broken cookie is still there this morning. Just when I think I can predict I am wrong!
      I told him to do the Vanna pose and he obliged although he might have come up with that on his own. I have been successful in getting some good pics of him this time with his eyes open AND smiling! That is victory in itself!!! 🙂
      All in all–yes—a success. But boy he was wound up last night!!! Whew!

  3. Fun post and yet realistic. These days I think it’s more popular (or dare I say politically correct) to gloss over the challenges of of living with children and adults with mental challenges. It’s not the Hallmark Channel life. Pairing the verb “Do” with the word Love is so important and something it appears your families does in spades. I would have no patience for the repetitiveness despite knowing that getting bent out of shape wasn’t going to help matters. I’m afraid by the time we had arrived home, Carlton would have been running along side the car.
    Ok. The Mall of The America….when shall we go?? I love that place….well, except for the roller coaster! I don’t do roller coaster. Ever. Shop, Eat….I’m your girl.

    • I read a book last year written by siblings of disabled children/adults. it was very realistic and you are right—sometimes it is not all fun. The siblings go through a lot despite their love for their brother and sister. Love is there but there are also a lot of sacrifices and things that go undone because of the sibling with the disability.
      I know that if need be I could rise to the occasion. I did for 7 months when we lived with him but I also know that it took a toll . I expected things he could not “do” or grasp and I had to adjust a lot of my own behaviors to compensate. The love is there but honestly —it is tough on some days when the stubbornness sets in. With that being said—I would do anything for him and am so happy that his life is so much better than it was 2 years ago. He is part of a family and included in every aspect of their lives and that is very important. My sister in law has always had a very special bond with him and that is evident. So for now I will enjoy the 2 weeks and rearrange the moved items when he returns home. 🙂

    • Oh and Mall of America[—ANYTIME!!!! You can even stay with me!!! Only 2 hours to get there!

  4. I noticed many great pics of Carl with open eyes and a wide, happy smile! That, my friend, is enough on its own to dub this trip a success.

    • Thanks, Miranda! I wonder sometimes!!! But you are right—-maybe I am too hard on myself and expect too much ! I will try to enjoy the moments!

  5. It seems that all you have to do is point a camera at him, to get a smile. I can understand his compulsion for the routine though, I have mine too, I’m not really that spontaneous myself. You and Chris did a great job, pat yourselves on the back, you deserve it.

    • Thanks, Jake. I wasn’t posting to get praise—-it is just my life, you know? And sometimes I overshare. 🙂 Routine is good but when it consumes your every waking moment then it is difficult for me to understand. I do pretty well with our visits but it really makes me appreciate what my sister in law does every single day!!!

  6. Once again you managed to convey that the “little” things can often be the toughest challenges for someone like Carlton, whose routine is so precious to him. He may not express his gratitude but I’m sure it’s there…

  7. And Carlton is blessed to have all of you. Yes, we do need to tell people we appreciate and love them while we can. I call my mom at least once a week and tell her.

  8. pattisj says:

    The snow monkeys have beautiful, soft-looking hair. Swing by and get me next trip to the mall!

  9. Sounds like you did lots of fun things and are having a great, even if occasionally trying, time together! And I agree, when you appreciate someone- don’t put off letting them know… you letting them know could be the encouragement they need to get through that day!

  10. From the pictures, I think Carlton had a very nice time. I get the routine thing. Now I understand about the hot dogs.. 🙂

  11. I always feel blessed when I open my email & It’s Just Life pops up!

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