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.
Steamboat 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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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…
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.
Gage wanted his picture taken with EVERY cannon in Battery Park, but I fell in love with the trees.
We had some lunch at the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse and headed for the pier where Gage found this fountain…. 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.
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?
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…so the trip was a success 🙂
Now on to trying to catch up with seven days of responsibility neglect!
Have you been in a kindergarten class lately? When Gage was first diagnosed as having mild/high-functioning autism all of my time and energy went into helping him beat the diagnosis and be able to go through school with his peers. A few weeks ago I visited the school he would be attending and the classroom he would most likely be in and my view totally shifted. I was appalled, quite frankly. Twenty-seven students in a classroom where they are sitting in a circle listening to the one teacher or at the tables doing worksheets for five plus hours! They had one hour a day for lunch and recess. I walked out of the 2nd ranked school district in Ohio knowing that there was no way I wanted my 5-year old in that environment.
So, I made a list of the things I most wanted for Gage and went from there. I wanted a small class size, ability to move, play, and structure. He’s a smart kid and I don’t worry too much about him in that department, even if some of the harder concepts will need to be taught one-on-one. In Ohio, if you have a child on the spectrum and you pull him from the public schools you get $27,000 to use at other autism-friendly places. The company where he gets his ABA and the place he gets his OT are both on the list so I did (and still do) consider homeschooling and using that money for those two places, where we easily pay them that already.
He got accepted to the first school we applied to, a school that accepts only kids who learn differently. In all honesty, I don’t know exactly what that means, only that they all have at least average IQs and that they only have 10-15% of students on the spectrum. Get this, they only accept 6 kids into their kindergarten class! If a kid has to move he is not made to feel bad about it (important because Gage has a hard time sitting still for a long time, as do most 5-year-old boys) and the class has the kids move every 15-20 minutes. There are play areas all around the classroom and there is so much structure. They all have access to their own ipads in the classroom and computer, art and music once a week. There are so many great things about this school…but there are no typical peers. I’ve visited twice and the kids seemed great, well-behaved, like regular kids.
I’m still going to look around (my favorite place only has a wait list right now, but it is similar to the school he was accepted to) but feel good about the option we have. It’s not what I thought we were working toward, but when I visited a public kindergarten class, I knew I didn’t want that, for sure. Speaking as a mom who has an education degree I am very disappointed in what we are doing to our kids at such a young age. Even if Gage weren’t on the spectrum I would be looking at homeschooling or private schools and I always thought that was a terrible choice.
I was a public school girl all the way, even college. What about you? Any homeschooled or private school peeps out there?
Life has been kicking my butt. After Gage’s successful scope we were back at square one. His behavior was getting worse at home and school and something had to give. So, after some investigating, I scrapped the SCD diet last Monday and within days he was a different kid, well, back to his loveable self! We are now on a new diet that I may detail later, but it seems to be doing the trick. All of of this to say that for the last few weeks all I’ve wanted to do is sleep. (seriously, Jason was home yesterday and I took two naps!) My mind and body are tired of trying to figure out an ever-changing puzzle. So, I’ve been napping a lot and trying not to feel guilty about it. The stress is tough and taking some downtime is a good thing, right?
As tempting as it is to crawl into bed and dream the world away, life goes on. New diets mean new learning and planning. A good scope means finding someone else who can help us find answers. Vacations and getaways must be planned. Birthdays and anniversaries must be remembered. Next year school decisions must be made. New therapies must be decided on. Books must be read, doctors must be found and seen (we have an appointment in Columbus next week). Parties must be attended. Field trips must be attended (seriously, tomorrow is the 3rd one this year aleady). Five year old boys need to play with their mamas. Husbands must be appreciated. Blogging must be done. See that last one? Obviously, that is the one that doesn’t actually get done but is the one that can alleviate stress if I let it. It’s a checkmark on my to-do list that I actually enjoy doing, but I haven’t been taking time for it. So, here I am oversharing and I hope that you’ll still come back tomorrow when I’m back to talking about fun stuff.
What do you do when life seems to be getting the better of you? Yoga? Meditate? Travel? Cry? Punch someone? I need some good ideas!
Oh, the Wednesday Quiz will be posted later today or maybe even tomorrow. I’m not going to stress out about it 🙂
Because of Gage’s ongoing issue with what we thought was acid reflux, he had an upper scope done on Wednesday and I was freaked out about it. A couple of the doctors that we’ve seen this past year told me not to do it, one even citing the new research on what anesthesia can do a child’s brain, especially “sensitive ones” (said as she nodded to Gage). I already knew enough to be worried, but once we decided that we couldn’t wait any longer I did my research and talked to the other moms in my online group. And when I heard from the anesthesiologist I sent her a few articles that I hoped she might take a look at, lol. Yes, I am that mother! Here are the three I sent her
and she not only responded within a day but we exchanged more emails and she was very patient with me. Here’s the thing, there is always a risk for regression in people on the spectrum after anesthesia. This is from one of her emails, “I want to make sure you understand that despite our best efforts, he could still have complications and possible regression of his ASD.” I know some people were wondering why I was so worried about a routine scope, but there it is.
There were actually more health concerns that we addressed (mitochondrial issues being one) but I won’t bog this post down in medical talk. I do want to say that if you know a child who will be using anesthesia, even for something routine, there are precautions you can take to make it safer. Sometimes you don’t even know kids have a mitochondrial issue until something bad happens. Feel free to check out the above articles or shoot me and email.
Anyway, the procedure was a success in all ways possible. It took 15 minutes, he woke up five minutes after they wheeled him back to us, and has been his sassy self ever since. They saw nothing with the camera and all the biopsies came back negative so she told me to take him off Zantac, woohoo! We have a follow-up next week to see where we go from here, but I’m guessing it’s going to take more investigating by me to figure out our next move. A mother’s job is never done and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, sometimes I wish it were a bit easier 🙂
WaitingBlood pressure check (good thing they didn’t check mine!)Getting instructionsDaddy got to go back with him until he fell asleepAnd 30 minutes later. He did great. After we got home I told him he had been a big boy and he said, “I know. That’s what I was trying to be.”
I didn’t write about Gage on here as much as I would have liked, but did share as the time allowed. Can you believe he turned 5 this year?! He had some health issues so last month we started the SCD diet and I delved more into the world of biomed. He started full-day Pre-K and loves it. We did some fun activities and learned about 5 states and will continue that next year.
My 5 favorite Gage pics from the blog this year…
Favorite Gage post of the year was this one, Mothering a special kid can be lonely and then sometimes it isn’t. It’s a little more maudlin than I usually let myself get on here and it was refreshing for me to show some autism honesty. I try to keep things upbeat and I don’t see that changing, but in order for the picture of Gage to be a real one then sometimes the hard stuff has to be said too. And I really appreciated the response I got from all of you.
I plan for much of the same in 2016 with more posts if time allows. Thank you all for letting me share Gage with you!
A few weeks ago I reviewed this book and talked about our intention to do it. Well, I’m a week in and Gage is on day 4. This diet is hard! It essentially starts as an elimination diet so you start with about 6 things to eat (all having to be cooked for 4 hours through stage 4) and add one fruit or vegetable each day. After 3 months we can try adding nuts (nutbutter, nut flour) and then beans soaked for 12 hours. It’s a healthy diet but one that will be difficult to do forever, I’m setting my sights for one year. Eventually I can add in dry red wine, my favorite anyway, so I’ve got something to look forward to!
Let me tell you a little about my experience mainly because I can accurately describe what I’m feeling and with Gage there’s a lot of guessing going on. I made a food chart for each food as I introduced it and then wrote the first two stages after the Intro so I could plan accordingly on the frig.
Then I spent most of the hours in each day in the kitchen and that is NOT an exaggeration. I’ve had to cook two chickens to make the needed healing broth of this diet (4 hours to cook and another hour to debird and put away). This is by far the messiest and grossest part of the cooking. I convinced my mom to come over and make applesauce with me since I’d never made it and it came out beautiful and delicious.
I ate a lot of thisand this (obviously I’m a work in progress when in comes to eggs, this is my first one where I actually kept the yolk intact and I’ve since done it three more times). Everything must be made from scratch.
I felt pretty sick on day two and spent a good portion of the afternoon in bed. I had a blinding headache off and on for the first four days and I had ZERO energy those first few days. Even now on day 8 my energy is at about 50%. But I’ve never really felt hungry. All that protein is filling.
Ready for exciting part? I’ve lost 7 pounds! Not even trying, but there it is.
Okay. So Gage started Thursday after school and I did have to allow a few things from stage one (homemade applesauce and bananas) to get him through. He cried about eating stuff he didn’t want and not having snacks or chocolate, but he was doing okay. Then yesterday morning he woke up, ate half a banana, vomited, went to bed, vomited some more and pretty much spent 8-2 in his bed or ours preferring dark and quiet.
I read that this might happen and that it was actually a good thing since it meant that the bad gut guys were detaching themselves, but I still worried. Then I got him to keep some applesauce down and he bounced back. Like really bounced back becoming chatty for the rest of the day and actually eating chicken/squash broth soup with carrots! Seriously, I didn’t really think that could happen.
This diet is going to change my life tremendously. I will now have to spend more time in the kitchen than I really want to and forgo eating out. I made Gage a promise that we’d evaluate how things were going at the six month mark and see if we thought it was worth it. There are only two things that would make me change my mind about that, Gage losing too much weight or the docs finding something at his scope in January. Wish us luck!!!