Monday, October 5, 2015
Friday, October 2, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the lower middle grade book "Axel & Theo: My Dog is The Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy" by Amberly Kristen Clowe from June 22 to 28, 2015. This one is a great choice for reluctant readers!
About the Book
I was pretty excited when I was offered the opportunity to review Axel and Theo. A boy who finds out his dog is actually intergalactic royalty was a plot too good to turn down!
It did not disappoint. This novel for young readers is an action packed, swift moving story, that is engaging, yet still easy to follow for young or reluctant readers. The author did a nice job of making the story line and details vivid and logical, with plenty of surprises, but still held her readers in high regard and capable of understanding common references and vocabulary.
I think a fairly vast age range would find this book enjoyable and could even be one of those books that makes a kid really learn to enjoy reading! An excellent story to have your young reader read aloud to you or another reading buddy (especially of the canine variety!). My creative juices started flowing thinking of all the cool projects that can be done in conjunction with this story, like making intergalactic goo and a pancake tasting, great for homeschool or classroom kiddos alike!
The only thing I would suggest is that the author add a silly checklist game so readers can find out if their dog or cat are earth natives, or alien visitors!
More Buzz About the Book
"When I saw the subheading of this book — My dog is the Emperor of a faraway galaxy, I knew I had to read it. After all, how often do you see a sci-fi kid’s book? Being the sci-fi nut that I am, I couldn't pass this one up. I was not disappointed."~ Shari T., Amazon
About the Author: Amberly Kristen Clowe
An avid story writer since elementary school, Amberly Kristen (Krissy) Clowe truly discovered her passion for writing after enrolling in a college, children's literature class, where they read and analyzed children's books. After completing her BA in early childhood education she began her teaching career. "After my first year of teaching second grade, I had so many ideas swirling around in my head, I had to write. I might have gone crazy if I didn't!" Clowe tells. Axel & Theo is the first chapter book series written by Clowe, though she already has two other children's picture books in print, and another due for publication in 2015. Today, her children provide the inspiration to her many stories, along with everything else she loves in life.
Axel & Theo Blog Tour Schedule
* Blog Tour Giveaway *Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: July 5, 11:59 pm, 2015 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, SmoothSailing Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
Friday, June 5, 2015
A little over a month ago we instituted a reading reward program here at home.
We've always been avid readers here. The kids were not highly motivated however to choose many books outside their preferred favorites.
"What is something that you really want?" I asked Grace.
She answered without hesitation.
"Ok, how many books do you think you can read to get roller skates?"
"Um...I don't know, twenty maybe?"
"Hmm...roller skates is a pretty big prize and you are a pretty fast reader. How about, forty books."
"Forty! That's a lot!"
"Yes. But...every ten books I'll give you a smaller prize. And six of each set of ten can be comic or graphic novels like Big Nate."
She thought those were acceptable terms.
Zak, also thought so. His desired prize being a remote controlled drone. Also, his limit for comic or graphic novels is only four for every ten.
Zak has already reached his goal. He is loving his drone!
Grace is still working on hers, she has read twenty-five so far!! And since Zak reached his so fast, I think I am going to surprise her with her reward at thirty instead.
What this mostly told me is:
1.) Zak needs a much more challenging goal.
2.) I am completely fine with bribing my kids to read. I mean, rewarding them abundantly for something they already enjoy!
3.) They are wholy invested and reading all the time, which is amazing because I thought they read a lot before!
4.) My kids are awesome! (I knew this already, but I love when I get to tell others about it too.)
I have arranged for a book swap with some friends. We have quite a lot of books that the kids are done with and are not treasures stories, so we will trade them in for some new to us books. Its all free and everyone wins!
At the library last week, they were getting set up for the Summer Reading Program. We signed up. Since they are already reading, I figured they may as well get some bonus prizes!
I didn't sign up for the adult program, but I did decide to challenge myself to some summer reading as well.
A couple years ago, I found nearly a dozen Reader's Digest Condensed Books at a thrift shop for twenty-five cents each! I have yet to crack them open, though I love looking at them on my shelves. My goal this summer is to read at least one!
I don't know if I will reward myself, as just getting to read for pleasure is definitely a reward all in itself for me these days.
What will you be reading? Any goals or programs you will be aiming for?
Thursday, May 21, 2015
|"This is my Kitty!"|
|Kitty is not so sure about our newest family member, he went to hide.|
|Having some playtime with Winston's favorite toy.|
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
About the Book
About the Author: Angela Muse
* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Kit does not do well with abstract ideas.
She never has.
This lack of abstract thinking is not limited only to Autistic minds. The concept of time is a good example. Toddlers and preschoolers in general have a very limited understanding of time, and that is part of what makes waiting so hard. Waiting is scary when you can't tell the difference between five minutes and forty, so everything feels like forty!
But what about an even scarier abstract concept? One where people go away and never come back no matter how long you wait?
You might not think death to be an abstract concept. To most adults the concept seems quite factual and concrete, at least the understanding that the person is no longer there with us and that they are not going to be back. But to young children, it might just be the most abstract concept they have ever encountered.
To many young kids, death can seem scary. To some, their only exposure to the concept is in terms of technology. Our cell phone "died", we need to plug it in and voila! It works again. This can make death even more confusing. To a child on the autism spectrum, who thinks very firmly in black and white, yes and no, concrete ideas, it can be frustratingly difficult to grasp.
Thankfully, in our case, we had some prior experiences with death on a less intense level (two of our parakeets in fact) that opened up the way a little for Kit to be better prepared to receive the news that Grandpa had died. As in knowing that when a living creature dies, it no longer breaths, moves, nor comes back after leaving.
Without trying to sound morbid, it actually was a subject I had given real thought to multiple times over the past year precisely because I wanted to be better prepared to help her understand.
* * *
Grandpa's death was sudden and unexpected. We took him to the hospital thinking he would get much needed fluids, possibly medicine, and some rest. But we were expecting that he would stabilize and we could bring him home. That was not to be. He passed away peacefully in his sleep in the middle of that night.
The following morning, while Victor was at the hospital taking care of things, I told each of the big kids separately and stayed with them and listened while they talked through their reactions. Sadly, this was not their first experience loosing a loved one, but thankfully it was much easier to adjust to and wrap the mind around and far less painful than the first one. They handled it very well, in part because they both were glad that he wouldn't have to go live in a nursing home now, that he was able to finish out his life in our home with people who loved him.
I did make a request of each of them when they were ready to move forward with the day. I asked them not to talk about it in front of Kit, and to especially not mention that he fell asleep and did not wake back up as that could truly frighten her. They agreed.
As odd as it might sound, we did not have a funeral service. He had not wanted one. All of the immediate family said goodbye in their own way, and the rest of his family were too far away and many are suffering from health problems of their own.
By not having to deal with the pressures of a funeral it made the sudden absence easier for Kit to handle because things here at home remained fairly calm. We decided to wait a little while to explain to her that he in fact had died. To introduce his sudden absence we told her that Daddy had to take him to the hospital because he had gotten sick, and that he was not going to live with us anymore.
This was a lot for her to process, and she asked me to tell her again multiple times over the next couple of weeks. I felt it especially important that she become accustomed to his absence first, instead of spending those first few tender weeks uttering the words "Grandpa died" on echolalic repeat as she processed this huge change.
I think that was a good decision. For us. That may not be feasible for larger families whose loved one was also deeply rooted in an extended family and community, and a funeral is a way for all to come together to support one another while grieving.
But for us, and for Kit, waiting helped. She struggled with the sudden change. We saw rapid behavioral changes, and more difficulty all around in generally being able to cope with life. We didn't think burdening her with the concept of death would have been good for her right then. Especially not when over the course of the following weeks more household changes occurred.
Zak moved into Grandpa's old room after about two weeks. We were able to begin attending both our weekly meetings at the Kingdom Hall all together as a family for the first time in close to a year. My practice sessions for the orchesta of which I am a member began rehearsing more often building up to once a week, which means on most Monday evenings I am gone from late afternoon until well past bedtime. And the big kids started with a music program two days a week right about then as well. That is tons of change for someone who doesn't like change.
* * *
After about a month, she was beginning to settle and I was sort of waiting for a natural opportunity to arise to be able to address it with Kit. All that time gave me plenty of practice at what I thought best to tell her.
It arrived via a casual conversation with Grace which I knew Kit was half listening to (she is always listening even though she doesn't seem like she is). Grace asked a question which required a time reference related to Grandpa's dying. So I answered and included for reference "before Grandpa died".
"Grandpa died?!" Kit was now fully engaged in the conversation.
"Yes, Grandpa died."
She asked the same question several more times, but I could tell she was searching for more, for words she has trouble finding because they are abstract to her. Why and How and What happened?
So I knew it was time to explain further.
I explained that Grandpa's heart stopped beating and that he stopped breathing, and that means that he died. He was not alive like we are anymore. I said his heart was not strong like hers, and his body was not strong like hers and mine and that they stopped working.
She repeated everything back to me as I said it. I had to repeat several parts. And then she got distracted by a toy and ran off.
It has now been two months since he died. She hasn't asked about him again since that last conversation. Until this week.
She asked Victor while they were getting ready to read her bedtime story, "Where's Grandpa?"
He said it took him my surprise, but then he told her, "Grandpa died."
"Yes, he died. Daddy had to take him to the hospital because he got very sick and he died. So that is why he is not here any more. But we will see him again in Paradise."
"Oh, okay." And she was ready for her story.
Her behavior has shown great improvement. I take this as a sign that to whatever degree she is capable, she has worked through the change, and has replaced what could have been scary and incomprehensible into tangible facts that she can comprehend and digest.
* * *
I don't think there is one right way to explain death to any child, especially an autistic one when they are very young. I do think there are some very important Dos and Don'ts.
DON'T tell your concrete thinker that death is like sleep. That can terrify them and create sleep issues.
DON'T lie. Waiting is ok. Easing into the subject is fine. Giving them small doses of information and letting them absorb it slowly is perfectly acceptable. But don't lie. When they find out the truth it will damage their trust in you.
DON'T automatically assume that because they do not react that they do not understand. It can take a long time to process, but they will, and they will need you to be there to answer questions when they are ready.
DON'T assume that because they do not cry or seem to mourn that they are not feeling sad or grieving. Behavior is communication. Watch their behavior closely to give you clues into some of their inner process. Provide opportunities for them to find comfort, such as from home videos or photo albums, doing things that the loved one enjoyed doing and telling your child it is a way for you to remember the happy even though you are also feeling sad.
DO give your child some slack. For some kids on the spectrum it may seem like they only experience one feeling at a time. This is not exactly true, they may be feeling many at one time, but one may feel much stronger at times and cause unpredictable behavior. They may even feel so overwhelmed that they try to turn their feelings "off". This is a coping mechanism, but it is critical that parents recognize that it is a temporary dam and that the floodgates, when they burst, can be as surprising and scary to your child as they are to you. So, tread softly, and try to be even more patient than usual.
DO acknowledge that anger is a real and legitimate emotion to experience when a loved one dies. Perhaps especially for an individual on the autism spectrum. It's ok for them to feel angry at this person for leaving them, for not giving them any warning, without saying goodbye. It's ok for them to feel angry at other caregivers or family members for not being able to stop it. Remember, at times their thinking is concrete and either/or. This means they cannot necessarily understand the limitations imposed on those caring for a sick or aging loved one. Allow, and even encourage them to feel this huge emotion and let them know that others feels the same. Help him find an outlet for his anger. Perhaps by drawing how he feels, writing a letter to their loved one telling them how they feel or what they wanted to be able to say, or throwing beanbags into a hamper or rocks into a lake or punching pillows. Anger can be scary for the child and parents, but it can give way to tears, and crying is restorative, it acts as a pressure relief valve and helps drain some of those huge emotions so that healthier ones can begin to take their place.
DO reassure them that they are safe and alive and that you are too. Use whatever helps them to feel safe, no matter if it means answering the same questions hundreds of times, familiar scripts that help them work through the process, or comfort objects that remind them of the loved one.
DO explain to older autistic kids, that some things that might make them feel better, like scripting facts related to the person's dying, might make others who are sad more sad because it is such a direct reminder of their loss. Many autistic individuals, including kids really do care about others feelings, often though they may feel confused as to how to proceed. Autistic individuals may not be able to stop themselves from certain behaviors and that is ok, they need their coping mechanisms, but some will be able to refrain. If they are refraining from these kind of scripts, it is essential that parents realize what a sacrifice that is, and they should praise and encourage the child! Practicing with your child a substitute script that still feels good to them but that they can use to engage with other grieving loved ones may be possible. Helping kids practice phrases such as, "I miss Grandma. I liked playing cards with her. What was your favorite thing to do with her?" might gradually help them see that others miss the loved one too, and that they can make others smile with a good memory. This may not be a possibility for some kids on the spectrum, and that is ok, they need to be able to cope. As parents we can help be the social salve. Support and console your child first, then remind others that this was a huge emotional blow for everyone and that she is trying to process this in the only way she knows how right now, then offer your love and support to your relative or friend as well. You don't need to apologize unless your child has said or done something truly innapropriate.
Whew! I know some of those were long, but they are soooooo important!
I am sure we will be having more conversations about Grandpa with Kit as time goes on. The subject is too big and abstract for her to have a tight grasp on right now. But that's ok. She can take all the time she needs.
In the meantime, while I hope none of you find yourself in the position of having to use this information, if you do, I sincerely hope it helps.
Monday, March 16, 2015
It's far too overwhelming to go into detail the events of the past few months, so I will fill in the most important gaps.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Friday, January 30, 2015
Scene: Kit insists on accompanying me to the bathroom. She walks by the toilet, balancing the tablet precariously in one hand uncomfortably close to said toilet.
Me: Sweetie, please move the tablet away from the toilet. I really don't want it to fall in.
Kit: Will it drown?
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
I am deep in the midst of Burnout. Have been, to a greater or lesser degree, for the last two years in fact, but this time feels worse than the others. It's much slower digging out, and the hole feels much deeper this time, but I'm slogging away at it nevertheless.
One of the things I have been wanting to do is to re-post some of my older posts. I know not everyone has the time, energy, or desire to read through two years of archive posts. So I will, over the next few weeks, re-share some of my favorites. Reading back over these, it's amazing both how close and far away these days feel. We've made much progress in so many areas. Others were better back then, but prove challenging right now. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me.
The following piece was originally posted September 30, 2013, while we were still primarily using ASL to communicate with Kit, and when sleep issues still dominated our days and nights. I will forever appreciate Victor for taking over bedtime when I simply could not function anymore. But I think the bond he and Kit have as a result is way beyond priceless, and I'm so glad they still share a unique bedtime routine, even if it doesn't need to happen in sign language anymore.
Once Upon A Bedtime Story...
Baby and Daddy still sleep on the couch.
Every night though, for about a month, Daddy gets her corner ready just how she likes it. Then she cries because she doesn't want to be apart from Mommy. But then he says its time for a story...
She quiets down, settles in and waits.
Then, every night, Daddy tells her a story using signs. They are usually about a baby, and a daddy, and going outside. And when Daddy forgets a sign or doesn't know one, he asks her...and she always knows, and shows him.
She listens, she smiles, and she signs along.
When they finish, Daddy says a prayer with her, lays her down, and covers her with her weighted blanket.
And for the first time in her life, she falls asleep by herself, without nursing, being held or rocked, or even touching one of us.
She amazes us everyday.
And I...have fallen in love with her Daddy all over again!
Saturday, January 24, 2015
- Non-stick Muffin Tin
- Ready to bake Sugar or Snickerdoodle cookies. We prefer the Snickerdoodle. A package of these contains 24 cookies, so you could either make just a few, or the whole batch if desired.
- Marshmallows, little or regular size both work. I've used both and I prefer the large ones as they stay in the middle of the cookie better, making it easier to remove from the muffin tin.
- Crushed graham crackers (optional), we made ours by putting a couple crackers in a zipper bag and crushing with a coffee cup.
- Chocolate - bars, chips, kisses, of whatever variety you choose all work, though I didn't like the chips as they didn't stick well to the marshmallow. We've tried various kinds, Krackle, Butterfinger Bites, Andes Mints, and regular milk chocolate Hershey's. The original Hershey's tends to be the favorite, though I really like the Andes mints with them, but I am a mint person. I would still like to try AlmondJoy, Mounds, and peanut butter cups with these.