Sundays with Gage – New York City

Two years ago Jason had a work conference in downtown Manhattan and Gage and I tagged along.  It was August and about 100 degrees every day we were there. Gage didn’t want to walk much.  It was not the best experience for this mama who loves New York City.

This year the work conference was in June at the Grand Central Station Hyatt and we decided to try again.  Of the 4 days we were there it was upper 90’s twice, but because Gage was more willing to walk and I planned a bit better the trip was much more successful. Gage loved the city, even though he did mention that it wasn’t really for kids.  We did manage to find a playground he liked in Hell’s Kitchen and it was only a 15 minute walk  through Times Square.  He made friends both times we went.

IMG_3061Being in midtown made it much easier to get to Central Park so that’s where I wanted to spend most of this trip since we had done most of the downtown area last time.  We visited The American Museum of Natural History, the Central Park Zoo as well as walking completely from one side of park to the other on the hottest day because I got completely turned around in the Rambles.  This is what poor Gage looked like by the time we got to the subway that day – dripping with sweat but still happy.
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This is what he looked liked when we got on the completely packed train with nowhere to sit or move.
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We visited a few churches, St. Bart’s and St. Patrick’s, both of which I’ve visited many times before, but wanted to share them with Gage.  We were even able to catch Mass at St. Patrick
IMG_3271We ate lunch at the library in Bryant Park, we walked through Grand Central Station multiple times a day and, for the first time, we parked in New Jersey and took the train into the city.  A fun experience for all three of us.

We did a lot of walking and I was proud of him.  I will say that my biggest complaint was staying at the Grand Hyatt.  We could not walk out of our hotel (even the just the lobby, really) without having a tight grip on our seven year old.  He was a champ and loved all of the people and I convinced him that we needed Daddy to find a job here for a year so we could do more exploring 🙂  No more than a year.

It was a great experience and this was a perfect age to introduce him to one of my favorite cities, two years ago was too soon.  Even though he had fun when we asked him his favorite part of our trip he chose the day before we got to New York where we stopped at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.  We happened to be there the same day that my cousin from Maryland was there with her family and we were able to meet up briefly.IMG_3030 I know he chose the Park because of all the roller coasters he was able to ride now that he’s 48 inches, but I like to believe that seeing family had a little something to do with it!

 

 

Sundays With Gage – Fly

gageWhat if I fall?

Oh but my darling

What if you fly?

This week The Center for Life Skills posted this picture on their Facebook page. The butterfly wings are made up of paper plates that the kids decorated.  When Gage was diagnosed with PDD-nos when he was two the very first therapy he did was here with the occupational therapist he still sees.  It’s such a warm and inviting place and we have made lasting friendships with other families in the waiting room.  Now that Gage is seven he has less interventions, but the needs are changing and so must my strategy.

I was happy to see this when they posted it and I shared in on Facebook and went about my morning.  I came back a few hours later and read the comments and then looked at the picture again, read the words again, and started to cry.  Not heaving sobs, but tears and the question, “how do I make you fly?”  Every parent asks this at some point, I’m sure, but when your kid has special needs it makes the question more challenging because the answers may not easily be found.  Yesterday at the grocery store I frequent, one of the ladies asked me about Gage and we started talking about her son.  It turns out that he has sensory issues and sees an OT and she had no idea that he might be eligible for money from the state for private education.  She asked me as I was leaving, “How do you know all this stuff?” I wanted to hug her because that is where the fear lies.  What if there is something that can make a difference that I haven’t discovered yet?  So, I keep reading, and scheduling and trying new things, but in truth, it’s the other mothers that have shown me the way.  So the most important thing I do is listen and ask an annoying amount of questions and hope that is enough.

Gage is doing great, but I want him to soar.

Sundays With Gage – It’s so cold and a winner!

Last week I celebrated a decade of blogging and wanted to send a box of goodies to one lucky commenter.  Gage chose the winner…

IMG_2697 IMG_2701 (2) Jennifer T!!!  I’ll send you an email or you can beat me to it and email me your address.

On the Gage front this week, he went back to school from winter break on Tuesday.  Friday they cancelled school because of an ice storm.  Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day so no school.  Tuesday he’ll go back (although we’re getting snow tomorrow night so who knows).  In the last month he’ll have had three days of school.  Three. Days.  I love my kid.  He and his dad are my world, but everyone needs to go back to their schedules (Jason has used a lot of vacation time in the last month).  It is so cold and icy and snowy that finding entertainment is challenging.  We’ve already been really sick this winter, so I’m trying to avoid the popular kid sick-infested areas, but Gage requested one tomorrow.  We’ll see if  I can keep my sanity and him healthy another day.  Wish me luck!

 

 

Sundays with Gage – Family Time

As an only child, married to an only child, who has an only child, the house sometimes feels too quite and too calm.  I often worry that Gage will become too serious like his parents.  There are lots of benefits to being an only, but the lonely feeling is not one of them. It’s why I appreciated growing up so close to aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.  And now I’m thankful to share that same wonderful family with Gage, even if we are far away.

My nine cousins on that side of the family are all within 15 years of each other and kids came in a timely fashion to most, but not me.  Gage is closest in age to Lucy and she just got her driver’s permit!  But, when family is together all is good and Gage loves feeling like part of a big family.

IMG_2320Amy and I are only 5 months apart and even spent our freshman year at Ohio State as roommates.  Her son is a junior in college and a great kid.  Here he is playing Gage in a game of chess at Thanksgiving.  See Gage surrounded by all the love?  It makes this ‘only’ mama’s heart happy.

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Sundays With Gage – A Mother – Son Reading Challenge

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Sundays with Gage.  I intend to, but always seem to be short on time.  First grade seems to be going well.  He’s at the same school he attended last year and, even though it’s private, the city school bus takes him and brings him back to the elementary school half a mile from our house.  This saves me two hours every day and it’s bliss 🙂

Gage is great with numbers, he plays chess, he can play Old MacDonald on the piano, he shows no fear when he should, he can tell you about all of the planets, space and black holes.  But until this summer reading wasn’t coming along and it caused him a lot of frustration.  In June, he started going to the local Kumon tutor center once a week for 30 minutes and did about 10 minutes of daily homework and slowly, but surely progress is being made.  It’s a relief to me, but we have a long way to go.  It’s hard for him when something is just too challenging because he really does want to do everything well, so I am trying very hard to go slow and just give him some confidence.

So, the day that I started my new 30 Day Challenge I asked him if he wanted to finally join me in his first 30 day challenge.  He was so happy that I asked and said yes right away.  So, he is reading a new book every day this month and so am I.  He gets to choose the easiest books because I just want him to stay excited and  I look forward to seeing him willing to read every day!

Please hop over to my 30 Day Challenges Blog to follow along.

So far, Gage has read 3 Bob Books.  Not very exciting, but it is really helping his reading aloud fluency.

I’ve read 3 fantastic books so far…

Love That Boy:What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier (4 stars)

“This book  came about when reporter, Fournier, and his wife learned that their 12 year-old son had Asperger’s (from watching the TV show Parenthood.  Go Bravermans!)  As his wife started to assemble a team to help their son, Fournier, took him on a series of road trips to visit Presidential libraries and museums, something Tyler was really interested in.  This was a journey about a father finding his son.”

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi  (4.25 stars)

“Paul was a neurosurgeon resident and found out he had stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 36.  Between his diagnosis and his death he wrote this book about living.  Paul was able to choose two paths in his shorten life, as a writer in his youth and at the end of his life and his calling as a neurosurgeon in the middle.  I loved his relationship with literature and science and how he strived to make meaning of them both.  The world lost a great doctor and human being when he passed and I can only hope his words will inspire other young people to follow in his path.  A beautiful book about life and death and what to do with the time we have.”

Rosemary:The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson  (4 stars)

“I loved the inside look at the day to day lives of the Joe and Rose and their nine children.  I’d heard more about the ambitious, controlling father than about the mother, so I was intrigued and put off by her at the same time.  The Kennedy children are beautiful and brilliant, but Rosemary stood apart because she was different.  When she was born, during the height of the Spanish influenza in Boston, a nurse physically held her head inside of her mother after she’d already crowned.  I’m still horrified by it.  Whether that is what cause her ‘retardation’ we can only assume.  I can’t believe that Rose went on to birth 6 more children and live to be 104 after that!”

I’ll keep you posted as much as time will allow, but I’m updating the challenge blog and Facebook page everyday 🙂

 

 

Sundays with Gage – Steamboat School

Did you think I meant that Gage went to steamboat school?  Nah, but he did read a book that was inspired by the true story of the Freedom Floating School in 1847 Missouri.

ssSteamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Ron Husband

“I always thought being brave

was for grown-up heroes doing big, daring deeds.

But Mama says that sometimes courage

is just an ordinary boy like me

doing a small thing, as small as picking up a pencil.”

These opening words let me know that this book would reinforce much of what I’m trying to instill in Gage’s mind.  Be brave, do the little things that can make big changes.  When Gage is older and can hear that mama voice in his head I always want it encouraging him to be the best person he can be and to look for ways to make a positive change in the world. Sometimes I think I push him too much, but tonight he told me I was the best loving mother, (I’ve never heard him use the word loving before, yay!) so I must be doing okay.

The book is the story of Reverend John (Berry Meachum) who worked hard to free himself and then his family from slavery.  He taught African-American children in the basement of his church until the state of Missouri made it illegal for him to continue teaching them to read and write.  He found a way around that by building a steamboat in the Mississippi River where he could continue to teach children.  Missouri law had no say in federal waters.  What an ingenious way around the law!

So, the discussion about race was harder to discuss in this book than in the Martin Luther King Jr. book a few weeks ago. It is essentially about kids, like Gage, being told they didn’t have a right to learn. How can you explain something so hateful and ridiculous to a six-year-old?  By his questions I know that he doesn’t really ‘get’ it and why should he, I guess. I’m not even sure I understand how people can be so full of hate and fear.

I loved the story and the illustrations enough that I’d like to buy this one to have as a part of Gage’s library.  Highly recommend it. Thanks for the recommendation Jill 🙂

 

Sundays with Gage – Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the picture books in Gage’s Christmas advent tree was Martin’s Big Words:The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.  It is a gorgeous book, this picture of the cover doesn’t do it justice.  It’s oversized and has won many well-deserved awards.

Jason read the book to Gage (now 6-still can’t believe it) first and I remember Gage asking a lot of questions about him getting killed at the end.  Not a lot of books prepare a child for this sort of ending.

The second time I sat down to read it with him a few days ago and before we even sat down he was telling me how King did good things. I told him yes, Martin Luther King changed the world (something we talk about often with different people) and even before I got the book opened he asked me, “How old was he when he knew?”  “Knew what?” “That he wanted to change the world.”  My heart melted.  It is never too early to talk to kids about grand ideas or big dreams!  We find out in the book that the seeds were planted when he was Gage’s age.

A beautiful book and starting place for young kids to learn about a civil rights icon.  It led to great questions and a real interest to learn more.  For both of us.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr  img_9740

Sundays with Gage – Booklovers Advent Tree

Last year Veena posted an advent idea for kids and I made one for Gage and he loved it.  I put this year’s together in about 3-4 hours.

book-advent

Starting at the top he opens a book everyday, including Christmas starting December 1.  There are small stickers on each one with the number.

Step 1-Spend and hour and a half at the bookstore browsing and then purchasing 25 books OR visit your library and check out 25 special books and do it that way. The kids only care about opening the books and reading them.  The keeping them is secondary.  You could always offer to buy them their favorite one after they’d read them all.

Since I bought these I went with the sales, buy two Little Golden books get one free, etc…Last year I bought too many Christmas books so I tried to only buy a few this time.  I want them to be read all year round.

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Step 2-Buy one of those 3 packs of wrapping paper at a discount store and alternate. I did stack these by size so the wrapping went quicker and I could put the number stickers on right away.

Step 3 -Turn the wrapped books so that it resembles a tree.  Place some lights around it and a pretty new ornament on top and you’re done.

There are so many different variations that you can do so have some fun and give it a try using your own ideas. If you’ve done it, please send me the pic or the link to where I can find it 🙂

We spent the last two days at a waterpark, but as soon as we came in this afternoon he went straight here to open his next book. We’re already read Bad Kitty and Zootopia multiple times.  Here he is with his first four, looking like he needs some sleep 🙂

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Sundays with Gage – Learning to read

Do you remember learning to read?  I sure don’t, although this isn’t really a huge surprise since I don’t have a lot of memories from my kindergarten years.  I don’t think it’s until I was in the third grade that I have a lot of real memories.

As a mom who loves to read I’ve been stressing out. Gage has known his letters since he was about 18 months and had a lot of sight words before Pre-K.  But reading? Not so much.  Even sounding out words is frustrating for him.  Memorizing words not a big problem but when you can’t sound them out and he has so many he can get easily confused.

Since kindergarten started he has made great strides.  Still a struggle, but not nearly as frustrating.  We were doing a workbook today and I realize just how many more words he knows and how he is finally understanding the process of sounding out a word.

When I went to the parent teacher conference they said he was at 1.5 level math (1st grade, 5th month) but in reading the test is a little different and he’s in the probable reader classification.  Kids on the spectrum can be just as smart as the next kid, but sometimes learning needs to be done in a different way and usually one on one.  I gave up Gage’s one on one tutoring over the summer and even that was only 2 hours a week for the previous year.  So, for now, I wait patiently.  And hope that there is such a thing as a reading gene and that it kicks in soon.  Yes, I realize that sounded less than patient.  I’m trying!

Reading to me tonight 🙂

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Sundays (or a week) with Gage at Kiawah Island, South Carolina

We travelled by car with my parents down to Kiawah Island Golf & Tennis Resort so that Jason could spend 2+ hours playing tennis with the club pros everyday, as part of his 40th birthday gift.  Kiawah is an interesting place.  I didn’t realize before we went that it was a popular alligator hang out spot.  These signs were everywhere on the island…

k1  IMG_1344  We saw three in our time there, one in the water on the golf course!  Needless to say I was cautious when walking by myself or with just me and Gage.

On the drive down we spent a few hours in Charleston.  I would’ve liked more so maybe we’ll have to plan a second trip.

IMG_7668  IMG_7660Gage wanted his picture taken with EVERY cannon in Battery Park, but I fell in love with the trees.

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We had some lunch at the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse and headed for the pier where Gage found this fountain…IMG_7717. Our time in Charleston was fun, but too short.

Kiawah Island was lovely (sans the alligators) and we had a relaxing week staying in one of the villas. Gage built sandcastles on the beach, swam with Daddy, and just chilled out.

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The restaurants on the island were all great and able to handle Gage’s allergy restrictions.  Jason and I went out for a date on our last night there and this was out pre-dinner spot.  Not bad, right?

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If we are friends on Facebook you probably saw that Gage had some carsickness both coming and going but this was the backseat when we were almost home from the long drive…IMG_1462so the trip was a success 🙂

Now on to trying to catch up with seven days of responsibility neglect!