Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Smell of Candle Smoke

Candles provide such a serene, contemplative light. And I love to watch the delicate loops of smoke rise to the ceiling! Well, James has me thinking about candles this week…

You know that adorable toddler phase of picking up everything? The one where dirt must be tasted, smelled or rolled between the fingers to really sense it? (You know you did it!) It’s actually a very valuable thing to discover the world piece by piece. How do I know what it tastes like? I’m sure I must have tried it!

All of our kids went through this phase in some form or other. Of course the boys were more into dirt and Anna was more into washing her hands for hours on end. But the senses are such a valuable thing well-worth the investment of time.

One of James’ struggles has been what is technically called ‘tactile hyposensitivity’. It basically means some of the wires in the ‘sense of touch’ part of the brain are confused or not working properly. And we thought he was such a cute little tough guy being able to watch the needle go in his arm for a blood draw without a flinch or cry… know we now what was really at work there!

This past week, James seems to be discovering his body and the world around him all over again! It’s the absolute funnest thing to watch!

“Mom! Smell this candle smoke! Doesn’t it smell funny? I wonder if I can catch it in my hands??!”

Believe me, he has had plenty of exposure to candle smoke before. We light candles at dinner for the entire months of December and February. Surely, this wouldn’t be a huge discovery for him? But it is.

“What? This guava is too ripe and squishy!”

Mom: “But you ate the same kind last week and the week before that and didn’t care.”

“Well it’s gross. I don’t really like the taste of guavas.”

(two siblings eating them up don’t seem to mind…)

Mom: “But you used to love them!”

“Well, I guess I like them if they are mostly green.”

Mr. Picky Discerning Tastes, where did you come from?

Foods he has eaten without comment for years have suddenly changed. Everything tastes different to him. Each meal is a discovery!

“I love this spice!”

He seems to be awakening all over again to the amazing world we live in.

The smell of rain.

The smell of candle smoke.

The delicious taste of ripe fruits.

The taste of spices.

It is a whole new world for James. One where he gives out the hugs and asks to be tickled (two things he hasn’t done for at least 5 years).

It is a whole new world for his Mom.

But a wonderful one

we are so grateful for the glorious senses

to hear,

to taste,

to feel,

to smell and

to see this shadow of a world.

Watching him discover things makes me realize how rich I am.

Rich with a Sage nose that can smell out any treat or disaster.

Rich with an ear for music.

James, through his struggles, teaches me gratitude.

So next time you blow out a candle, I hope you take a second to watch the gorgeous smoke rise, smell it with me and thank God for senses!

We are coming up on 3 months of James eating allergen-free foods on DAN protocol, and 2 months of being on the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet, linked over in the sidebar). I had heard amazing stories about autistic kids finding healing on SCD, but had not read anything specific about sensory issues. Apparently, this diet has helped sensory issues in other families too.

Back to School!

(our school room, ready for another year)
One of many reasons we homeschool is that it allows us flexibility to stay together as a family despite Kent’s somewhat mobile life/work. We have various reasons to travel most of the month of September, so we started school a couple weeks early this year. Anna has moved up to ‘real preschool’ and kindergarten math, but likes to sit through Latin and Zoology with the boys. She has a real desk of her own and loves it!

James moved up to a larger desk,

for as you will see, he is growing like a weed!

The gapped grin, dimpled cheek and huge front teeth are eerily familiar…

He almost looks like a teenager to me in these pics, and not a third grader…

We even have the right slump!

Really, aren’t we done yet Mom?

I didn’t edit out my studio for you…

yes, it is a dining room chair in front of a fleece blanket on our front porch.

My sweet Joel is in Second Grade!

…and that second front tooth will soon be gone! He’s pretty proud of being almost 2 inches taller than his brother was going into Second Grade. He’ll catch up with him one of these days…

And our resident princess,

in the midst of trying to grow her hair out like Rapunzel,

is starting preschool!

And of course, we had to take a new silly-face picture, at right.

The kids then all insisted that our puppies get their portraits taken too… If you thought getting young children to sit still and pose was a challenge, how about 2 9-month-old puppies who think they’re missing breakfast??! I had fleeting delusions of getting the dogs to take their turns sitting on the chair.

yeah, notsomuch

Then moved the chair hoping they would agree to sit with our kids petting them nicely.

dream on

Then just wanted to get them all the way in the frame…

you can see how things degraded:

So Nella, our sweet black lab mutt, who flops over for a belly rub at the sight of you, gives me her rump. That’s what she thinks about portraits!

But her brother Samwise, who is usually hyper, was eating up all the attention he could get. We took lots of pictures and the kids got up, and he was still laying there like, “What? It’s over already?”

(I just love the expressions! We love dogs!)

Maybe we should be called the ten-foot and eight-paws family…


Two steps forward, one step back.

I can feel the progress, but it’s harder to appreciate it on the ‘one-step-back’ days.

Like today.

The bedtime chapter book we’ve been reading is lost. Somehow this is a magnanimous disaster for my routine-loving boy. Routines are safety. And dealing with changes at the end of a long day, well sometimes, it’s just too much to ask.

Some AS kids have meltdowns that look like a toddler tantrum on steroids. Screaming, kicking, throw-yourself-on-the-ground to deal with the inner pain of sensory overload or fearsome changes. Not my son. His are pretty stealthy meltdowns and I can’t often see them building under the surface. He retreats, disappears, stops talking, starts bawling, tears streaming down his face that the day simply can’t go on because the book is missing and he needs storytime.

Skipping stories is a big deal to a kid who lives to read stories.

So tonight we meltdown.

The routine is not right.

And sometimes that will just have to be what it is.

As much as I have tried, as he grows, I know I cannot eliminate all disappointment and change from his life. After several minutes of melting-down we were able to move on tonight. He’s now sleeping peacefully.

But that is not how every night ends.

I don’t have to worry about those nights.

They are the yesterdays, maybe even the tomorrows, but not today.

Today I will be thankful for a long day with a short meltdown and a happily sleeping boy.