Sundays with Gage- Back to School

Gage is back in school and thriving!  He operates very well on a set schedule and the fact that he has the same teachers has been a gift.  When I picked him up after the first day his teachers told me what a great day he’d had, but he was in tears in the car.  He missed his old friends.  Last year our school district did a nice thing and let us start Gage in the public program at 2 instead of 3, so as the rest of his older classmates moved to different classes he will stay in the 3 class again and these will be the kids he goes through school with to graduation.  Now he just needs to make new friends.

The speech therapist tested his speech on Tuesday and he is in the above average range for his age group.  It lets me know that all things are possible 🙂

This summer was a rough one for many reasons and some of that frustration came out in last week’s post.  I almost didn’t post it, but sometimes it feels good to show the gritty side of motherhood and I think there is value in that.  I can happily say that school is back in session and that makes a happy Gage.  And a happy Gage makes a happy mama.



Robin Williams Quiz? – guessing closed

quiz  Robin Williams suicide was and is a difficult thing to comprehend.  He was very funny actor and by all accounts he was a caring guy in the real world.  It goes to show  that sometimes we can’t know what struggles someone is dealing with so be kind to one another.

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section until Sunday.  

Tell me the name of the movie.  I’ve given you his character’s name, the year it came out and one other actor in the film.  Good luck!

1. John Keating (1989-Ethan Hawke) – Dead Poet’s Society 

2. Peter Banning (1991-Dustin Hoffman) – Hook

3. Sean Maguire (1997-Matt Damon) – Good Will Hunting

4. Dwight D. Eisenhower (2013-Forest Whitaker) – The Butler

5. Daniel Hilliard (1993-Sally Field) – Mrs. Doubtfire

6. Armand Goldman (1996-Nathan Lane) – The Birdcage

7. Dr. Malcolm Sayer (1990-Robert DeNiro) – Awakenings

8. Adrian Cronauer (1987-Forest Whitaker) – Good Morning, Vietnam

9. Alan Parrish (1995-Bonnie Hunt) – Jumanji

10. Teddy Roosevelt (2006-Ben Stiller) – Night at the Museum

Answers to last week’s Seuss quiz here.

Sundays with Gage – Kinship

I had breakfast with a mom whose daughter has had group sessions with Gage every Saturday morning for over a year.  We lead lives on opposite ends of town and have different daily struggles (she has 4 daughters!) but once every month or so we try to schedule a meet up while they are in group to vent, question, learn and feel a kinship to someone who knows what in the hell we are going through.  Having her to talk to is a gift and I always feel like my steps are lighter and my fighter mama mode is fully charged after we’ve gotten together and I hope I provide the same for her.

Our kids are a puzzle and sometime we try the same strategies and sometimes we don’t.  Going gluten-free didn’t help her daughter at all while it helps Gage immeasurably (I ALWAYS know when he has had contact with gluten). We sort of tried the B12 shots at the beginning of the year and she is planning to start them soon. We both are having success finally potty training our kids and have the same stress over where to send our kids to school, how to run our home programs, and how best to utilize our time and money.  This morning she mentioned something that people who don’t have kids on the spectrum don’t realize.  We are in constant survival coping mode.  She has to do things for her youngest daughter that she never even considered with the other three.  It is exhausting mentally and physically.  It’s only when we get together and talk that we can laugh a little and acknowledge that it is a struggle.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming and we are both ready to send them to school on Monday (yay!).

She listened as  I told her that we had taken Gage to the Cleveland Clinic yesterday to test for Cystic Fibrosis. Without going into all the details as to why we tested it was exciting that after I got Gage home from group and checked my email I saw that the test came back negative! How fulfilling it was to be able to send her a message that I have one less thing to worry about today.  It was a sweat test, non-invasive and took about an hour.  Here’s Gage with his Daddy during the test watching Looney Tunes.  The specialist told us to expect him to cry but this is not Gage’s first scary test so I knew he’d be fine.  This kid is a trooper and even if sometimes it is a struggle I wouldn’t change a thing about him.



Gage’s Picks

We have a healthy bookshelf full of picture books and a large magazine holder full of library books.  We read three books and a chapter in the Children’s Bible every night before bed. We read on and off during the day or for different activities, but we’ve set aside 10 minutes in the morning for Gage’s choice. I’m curious, given free reign and the instruction to only choose one book, what he will bring me every morning.  This week he picked 4 library books and 2 from his own library.

Just Like Bossy BearJust Like Bossy Bear by David Horvath.

A repeat from last week.  When we visited his class this week (school starts Monday) I told him he had to be a good example for the new kids in the class and he asked me, “Just like Bossy Bear?”  Apparently this book can help bossy kids!

LocomotiveLocomotive by Brian Floca.

This Caldecott Medal Winner, Sibert Honor Book, and New York Times bestseller is a beautiful book about the history of the railroad.  The illustrations are outstanding, the facts are interesting and the big bold type keeps younger ones entranced. This is the second time we’ve checked this out of the library and because I think it will age well (Gage will still enjoy it in a few years) I may go ahead and buy it.  At 3, Gage doesn’t want to read every page, but he listens through at least the first half and then we just talk about the pictures the rest of the way. 64 pages.

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now by Dr. Seuss

I admit that there are a few Seuss books that I don’t really ‘get’ but Gage seems to like all the ones we’ve read.  In this one he likes the crunk-car and shows everyone who comes to the house how cool a car with two smokestacks and feet for wheels can be.  36 pages

Are You My Mother?Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman

This one belonged to me as a kid and I’ve read it to Gage off and on over the years.  I was surprised this was his choice since he hasn’t shown any favorability toward it.  A baby bird loses his mother and finds his way home with the help of a Snort.  Our new game is that I pretend to be a Snort, lift him the air, set him down in his home and cuddle him as his mother.  He even made me do it in the waiting room of the Cleveland Clinic yesterday and I went ahead and made a fool of myself because I am happy that he wants me to be his Snort 😉  64 pages

HatchHatch by Katie Cox.

We cull Gage’s library every 3-6 months and donate books that he no longer reads.  He chooses, not me, and this one always made the cut for whatever reason. I think it’s too young for him, but like this week sometimes he pulls it out to read.  Every page has description of an animal and then on the opposite pages you have to crack open the egg to see if you were right.  The baby owl is both cute and ugly!  16 pages and perfect for younger kids.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Take the TrainMr. Putter and Tabby Take the Train by Cynthia Rylant

I’d like to say that Gage loves this story because of the cat or the dog or the illustrations, but we al know it is because of the old steamie train on the front.  The story is long and has chapters and hewill pretend to listen to all of the non-train parts, but I don’t buy it.  Really intended for older kids from 6-9 it has 44 pages and part of a Mr. Putter and Tabby series.



B is For Burglar by Sue Grafton

B Is for Burglar (Kinsey Millhone Series #2)B is for Burglar.  Finished 7-21-14, rating 4/5, mystery, 209 pages, pub. 1985

Although business has been slow lately for P.I. Kinsey Millhone, she’s reluctant to take on the case of locating Beverly Danziger’s sister Elaine Boldt. It’s a small matter that Beverly should be able to handle herself. So why is she enlisting Kinsey’s services? Beverly claims she needs Elaine’s signature on some documents so that she can collect a small inheritance. But the whole affair doesn’t sit well with Kinsey. And if there’s something she’s learned in her line of work, it’s to always follow your instincts…

Kinsey’s hunch proves true when she begins her inquiries into Elaine’s whereabouts and discovers that the attractive widow was last seen in a flashy lynx coat boarding a plane for Boca Raton. But the more Kinsey searches for Elaine the more questions she encounters. Is Elaine’s disappearance tied in to the brutal murder several months ago of one of her bridge partners? And what happened to Elaine’s Persian cat who seems to have also vanished?

from Goodreads

 Second in the Kinsey Millhone series. (Book 1)

I need more of these short, satisfying books. With time as limited as it is these are perfect in size and scope (short and not too deep) and I really liked Kinsey in the debut novel and knew I’d continue on with her eventually.  I felt like I got to know the private detective more in the first mystery (feisty, relationship wary) so I’m glad I read it, but I think I liked this mystery better.  There were so many potential avenues and suspects to pursue that I found it hard to put this novel down.

I know I am way late to this series, I think she’s on W now, but I like the comfort of knowing I’m going to get a great mystery with a great woman heroine in as few pages as possible 😉  I’m not going to be reading these back to back, but I will be picking them up often!

What about you? Are you reading or have you read this series?  How well does it age?

I picked one up at a book sale and also picked up the next in the series.


The Witness by Nora Roberts

The WitnessThe Witness. Finished 7-22-14, rating 4.5/5, romantic suspense, pub.2012

Unabridged audio expertly performed by Julia Whelan.  16 hours, 30 minutes.

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever. 

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems — and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something — and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

from Goodreads

I am not a big Nora Roberts fan but have enjoyed her books from time to time, so when I saw Sheree’s review I knew I’d have to give this one a listen.  Like Sheree, I have to give major props to narrator, Julia Whelan.  She really did elevate the story.  And, also like Sheree, I was riveted.   I do think it could have been a tad shorter but that is my only minor complaint.  This is a win from Roberts.

I fell in love with the very smart Elizabeth from the beginning.  Her time as a teen was my absolute favorite part of the book.  She was a smart girl who was controlled by a cold mother and one night she decided to live a little and act her  (young) age.  When the night ends in murder, the Russian mob, and a chase, Elizabeth ends up in the Witness Protection Program.  Okay, I guess I do have another small squabble with the book.  I don’t think Roberts portrayed this program accurately, but it’s fiction so that’s okay, I guess.  This section of the novel had me on the edge of my seat, and surprisingly, a little teary.  Not a reaction I’ve had from any previous Roberts work.

Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth is now Abigail and as much as she likes to remain invisible she catches the eye of small town police chief, Brooks Gleason.  Brooks was everything she wasn’t- charming, laid back and surrounded by a loving family.  Obviously, they hook up at some point (this is a romance after all) but what does that mean for Abigail’s anonymity?  It’s worth the listen to find out!

I checked this out of the library.

Seuss Quiz – guessing closed

quizSorry I took last week off, life got in the way.  Enjoy visiting with Dr. Seuss today 🙂  Surely you all know at least one of these?  Guess away!

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your guesses in the comment section until Sunday.  

1. cat in hat Who am I? Cat in the Hat

2. seuss 5What book am I in?  Fox in Socks

3. seuss 3Who am I?  The Lorax

4. seuss 2What book am I in?  Green Eggs & Ham

5. seuss 4Who am I?  Mr. Brown

6. seuss 8What book am I in?  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish

7. seuss 9Who am I? Sam

8. seuss 6What book am I in?  There’s a Wocket in My Pocket!

9. seuss 7Who am I?  Marvin K. Mooney

10. seuss 10Who are we?  Dick & Sally

Mailbox Monday – August 18

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.  

It’s been almost a month since I posted so that’s my excuse for so many books 🙂




Fagin’s Boy by Christina Pilz (a win from The True Book Addict – thank you!!!!)

Five years after Fagin was hanged in Newgate, Oliver Twist, at the age of seventeen, is a young man of good breeding, and fine manners, living a quiet life in a corner of London. When Oliver loses his protector and guardian, he is able, with the help of Mr. Brownlow’s friends, to find employment in a well-respected haberdashery in Soho.

However, in the midst of these changes, Jack Dawkins, also known as the Artful Dodger, arrives in London, freshly returned from being deported. Olovers’ own inability to let go of his past, as well as his renewed and intimate acquaintance with Jack, take him back to the life he thought he’d left behind.

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (purchased this one)

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is a highly readable list of the best, the most important, and the most influential pop albums from 1955 through 2003. Carefully selected by a team of international critics, each album is a groundbreaking work seminal to the understanding and appreciation of music from the 1950s to the present. Included with each entry are production details and credits as well as reproductions of original album cover art. Perhaps most important of all, each album featured comes with an authoritative description of its importance and influence. Among the critics involved in selecting the list are some of the best known music reviewers and commentators, including Theunis Bates (music writer for Time and urban editor at, Jon Harrington (staff writer at MTV), Seth Jacobson (writer for Dazed & Confused), as well as many others.

Brood X by Michael Phillip Cash, If You Were Me and Lived in Turkey by Carole P. Roman, The Universe-ity, Just Ask the Universe, and Keep Calm and Ask On, all by Michael Samuels

(sent to me by Red Feather Productions)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Surrender by Brenda Joyce, Bleachers by John Grisham, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan, C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled by Dorothy Gilman, The Landower Legacy by Victoria Holt, The Captive by Victoria Holt, The Road to Paradise Island by Victoria Holt, The Silk Vendetta by Victoria Holt, Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor, The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

(all purchased from the library sale for $4.50 – woo hoo!!)

So, did anything fun arrive in your mailbox this week?

Gage’s Picks

We have a healthy bookshelf full of picture books and a large magazine holder full of library books.  We read three books and a chapter in the Children’s Bible every night before bed. We read on and off during the day or for different activities, but this week I set aside 10 minutes in the morning where Gage had to choose one book on his own for us to read together.  This is a skill he needs to work on!  The first few days he walked over to where all of his books were and had a hard time deciding where to start looking in the mass of books, but he worked it out and ended up choosing five from the library and one from his own books.  Guess there’s no need to buy lots of books!

Richard Scarry's Hop Aboard! Here We Go!Richard Scarry’s Hop Aboard. There are so many images and descriptions of various vehicles that I made him choose one on each of the 48 pages for us to focus on, until we got to the trains – we read all of those, of course!  Fun and educational.  Lots of information for a pre-schooler.

We Work at the Fire StationWe Work at the Fire Station. A basic book with big photographs and few words. I liked the questions they asked on a few of the pages and the visual quiz at the end.  I know there is a series of these and I’d like to get more. 24 pages.

Green Eggs and HamGreen Eggs and Ham. We’ve owned this since birth and I’ve tried to make it through many times over that last 3+ years but it is only in the last few weeks that he’s maintained interest to the end. It’s worth noting that his favorite part is the train that shows up halfway through. This is a fun one to read and I caught him ‘reading’ the last page at breakfast the next day.  He said he would like to try green eggs and ham, LOL. Gage is a picky eater and I do think that this book is great for kids who are reluctant to try new foods.  And it’s just fun 🙂  62 pages

Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library!Dewey:There’s a Cat in the Library.  Based on the true story of Dewey, the library cat, this is a big hit with Gage, our resident cat lover.  If the book has trains or cats then he is willing to take a look.  The beautiful illustrations jump off the page on this one and I love the lesson of finding your place in the world.  There are many different things going on in the book that go a little above Gage’s head, but this is the one that also generates the most discussion because he asks so many questions.  40 pages.

Red HenThe Red Hen.  Isn’t that cover great? The illustrations in the book are much of the same and lots of fun.  This is a seemingly simple book of a classic tale, is a great one for asking questions at the end (how many characters were in the book? how many ingredients in the cake?) for recollection. The hen wanted to bake a cake and asked her three friends to help her at every turn but they said no, until it was time to eat the cake. The end made me laugh. I am surprised he likes this so much and when I asked what his favorite part is he answers. “The cake. I want to make one.”  There is a cake recipe at the end.

Just Like Bossy BearJust Like Bossy Bear. When he brought this one over to me yesterday I had to stifle a laugh.  I brought this home from the library because Gage is a Bossy Bear but we hadn’t read it yet. Bossy Bear realized that his BFF was starting to act like him and it wasn’t pretty so he changed his ways.  Gage listened, but didn’t seem all that interested.  Until he started saying Bossy Bear things in the bathroom and I wonder if the book had the opposite of the desired effect?  32 pages

I can’t wait to see what he chooses this week!

Tuesday Quiz – Characters – guessing closed

quizOver the years I’ve had the need to consult Cliff’s Notes for help in understanding parts of literature.  I’ve lifted their top 3 character assessments from 10 books.  Think you can name the book?  If it helps, I only chose books written by women.  Good luck! (Thank you, Cliff’s Notes for being so thorough)

Take your best guesses, be entered to win a prize.  No cheating (using the web to help find answers) or copying.  All extra details can be found here.

Leave your  guess or guesses in the comment section until Sunday.  

1. Uncle Tom The central character, a slave belonging to Shelby. Eliza and George Harris Mrs. Shelby’s servant and her husband; they have a young son, Harry. Arthur, Emily, and George Shelby A Kentucky farmer (Tom and Eliza’s owner), his wife, and teenaged son.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe)

2. Jonas The protagonist, or main character, in the novel. Jonas is a sensitive, polite, compassionate twelve-year-old boy. At the December Ceremony, he is selected to become the new Receiver of Memory, the most honored position in the community. Jonas is quite complacent, or non-caring, before he begins his training as the new Receiver, but after he gains wisdom from memories and realizes that people gave up their freedoms for Sameness, he becomes angry and frustrated. During his training, Jonas acquires very deep emotional feelings and learns about love.  Mother Jonas’ mother is an intelligent, sympathetic, and understanding person. She holds a prominent position at the Department of Justice. One of her job responsibilities is to punish people for breaking the strictly enforced rules of the community.  Father Jonas’ father is a shy, quiet, considerate, caring man. He is a Nurturer, responsible for the physical and emotional needs of every newborn child during the first few months of life. He is also responsible for the release — killing — of infants who are deemed worthless because something either emotional or physical, or both, is wrong with them.  The Giver (Lowry)

3. Elizabeth Bennet An intelligent and spirited young woman who possesses a keen wit and enjoys studying people’s characters. Although she initially dislikes Darcy, circumstances cause her to reassess her negative impression of him, and she eventually falls in love with him. Fitzwilliam Darcy A wealthy, proud man who falls in love with Elizabeth and reveals a generous, thoughtful nature beneath his somewhat stiff demeanor.  Mr. Bennet Elizabeth’s ironic and often apathetic father. Unhappily married, he has failed to provide a secure financial future for his wife and daughters.   Pride & Prejudice  (Austen)

4. Celie A young black Georgia girl who faces adulthood believing that she has been raped by her father and that he killed both of their babies. The novel examines her struggle to find love, self-esteem, and continuing courage despite harsh setbacks.  Nettie Celie’s sister. Celie loves Nettie more than anyone else in the world.  Fonso Celie and Nettie’s stepfather; shortly after their father is killed, he marries their widowed mother.   The Color Purple (Walker)

5.  Nathan Price An evangelical Baptist preacher who takes his family into the Belgian Congo in 1959 to do missionary work. His experiences in World War II shape his uncompromising desire to be an instrument of God, even at the expense of his family.  Orleanna (Wharton) Price Nathan’s wife. Spirited and beautiful as a young woman, her will has been broken by years of marriage to Nathan. She is desperate to protect her children from the dangers of the Congo.  Rachel Price The oldest of the Price daughters. Beautiful and shallow, she is a product of Western civilization and cares mostly for appearances and fun. She does not hesitate to use her beauty to manipulate others.  The Poisonwood Bible (Kingsolver)

6. Ponyboy Michael Curtis A 14-year-old boy who is the narrator and main character. His parents have been killed in an automobile accident, and he lives with his two brothers.  Soda(pop) Patrick Curtis Ponyboy’s 16-going-on-17-year-old brother. He is a high school dropout and works at the local gas station. He is “movie-star” handsome.  Darrel (Darry) Shayne Curtis The 20-year-old brother and legal guardian of Ponyboy and Soda. He works too hard and too long, and would be in college, if life had turned out different.  The Outsiders (Hinton)

7. Janie Sixteen-year-old Janie Crawford dreams of love and wonders whether love will come with marriage. Twenty-four years and three marriages later, Janie has experienced both love and personal growth.  Nanny Born into slavery on a plantation near Savannah, she bears Leafy, her white master’s child. Disappointed with this child, Nanny, who has no given name, dotes on her granddaughter Janie.  Mrs. Washburn Nanny’s employer and benefactor.  Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston)

8. Howard Roark The hero of the story. It is his struggle to succeed as an architect on his own terms that forms the essence of the novel’s conflict. His independent functioning serves as a standard by which to judge the other characters — either they are like Roark or they allow others, in one form or another, to control their lives. Roark is the embodiment of the great innovative thinkers who have carried mankind forward but are often opposed by their societies.  Henry Cameron Roark’s mentor. He is an aged, bitter curmudgeon — and a commercial failure — but he is the greatest architect of his day. He is an early modernist, one of the first to design skyscrapers and a man of unbending integrity. Roark admires Cameron as he does no one else in the novel. His life exemplifies the fate of many innovators who have discovered new knowledge or invented a revolutionary product, only to be repudiated by society.  Dominique Francon An impassioned idealist who loves only man the hero. Dominique is Roark’s lover, his greatest admirer, and, simultaneously, an ally of Roark’s most implacable enemy — Ellsworth Toohey — in the attempt to ruin his career. Dominique, though a brilliant woman, holds a pessimistic philosophy throughout much of the novel that prevents her from fulfilling her vast potential.   The Fountainhead (Rand)

9. Heathcliff The main character. Orphaned as a child, he is constantly on the outside, constantly losing people. Although he and Catherine Earnshaw profess that they complete each other, her decision to marry Edgar Linton almost destroys their relationship. He spends most of his life contemplating and acting out revenge. He is abusive, brutal, and cruel.  Catherine Earnshaw The love of Heathcliff’s life. Wild, impetuous, and arrogant as a child, she grows up getting everything she wants. When two men fall in love with her, she torments both of them. Ultimately, Catherine’s selfishness ends up hurting everyone she loves, including herself.  Edgar Linton Catherine’s husband and Heathcliff’s rival. Well-mannered and well-to-do, he falls in love with and marries Catherine. His love for her enables him to overlook their incompatible natures.   Wuthering Heights (Bronte)

10. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) Narrator of the story. The story takes place from the time Scout is aged 6 to 9, but she tells the story as an adult. Scout is a tomboy who would rather solve problems with her fists than with her head. Throughout the course of the book, Scout comes to a new understanding of human nature, societal expectations, and her own place in the world.  Atticus Finch Maycomb attorney and state legislative representative who is assigned to represent Tom Robinson. A widower, Atticus is a single parent to two children: Jem and Scout.  Jem (Jeremy Atticus Finch) Scout’s older brother who ages from 10 to 13 during the story. He is Scout’s protector and one of her best friends. As part of reaching young adulthood, Jem deals with many difficult issues throughout the story.   To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)