I know today is technically day 14, but since Gabriel is asleep and it's 1 in the morning, I'm saying 13. I can't sleep. I've been trying to fall asleep for the past 2 hours, but all I can do is cry and pray to God... I know I haven't posted in over a week, it's been a crazy week and I have a lot going on. Trying to get the house back in order, we're getting ready to go on a mini vacation at the end of the week, and that in itself will be a task, trying to prepare snacks and foods that we can eat while there, since our room is not equipped with a kitchenette. I have been trying to work with Gabriel some this week. I have found that one of his biggest weaknesses is the alphabet. For some reason, he is pretty good with recognizing shapes, colors, and even numbers; but when it comes to letters, there's only a handful that he recognizes. I guess tonight I realized just how severe this all really is... I got his flashcards out and tried to go over a few letters. It did not start out well... He couldn't even tell me what 'A' was. I told him, and he repeated the letter. Then I moved on to 'B', and same thing... He said he didn't know. I told him, and again he repeated it. Moved on to 'C', and yet again, he did not know. So 3 letters in, and he didn't know any of them, I thought it best to just focus on the first 3, and we could move on later. So I went back to 'A'. He looked at it, and then me, waiting for me to give him the answer. I said, "Gabriel, what's this letter?" You could see the confusion in his eyes. It killed me. I said, "Baby, we just went over this one, what's this letter?" He replied, "Ummmm.... I don't remember." So I told him again, 'A'. He repeated the letter. I could tell he was focusing, and he was paying attention. He was really trying. I went into the house and got a few chocolate chips for him. I told him when he got one right, I would give him one. I know food isn't the best way to motivate a child, but it works with him, and seems the only way. I've tried many other ways, but nothing gets his attention like a little chocolate. So when I came back out, I picked the flash cards back up and asked him what the 'A' was. Again he said he didn't know. I told him again, and he repeated. We moved on to 'B'. He didn't know... So again I told him, and again, he repeated. So instead of moving on to 'C', I went back to 'A'. "What's this?", again, he looks at me, obviously confused... He says again, "I don't know". Now I was getting worried. It wasn't 2 seconds since I asked him, and he already forgot. We had been doing this for about 15 minutes now, and no progress. I told him, 'A'. and we repeated it while pointing at the letter, about 10 times. He repeated with me... So when we repeated it the 10th time, rather than moving on, I put the card face down for 2 seconds, and then showed him again. "Gabriel, what's this?" He gave me this pained look like he had done something wrong... He had forgotten, already. He couldn't tell me that it was an 'A'...Now I'm very concerned... What do I do with this? How do I teach a child that forgets that quickly? I mean, he obviously can learn, but how? I did not have this much trouble with his colors, shapes, or numbers. Why the letters? He is talking better, saying new words. He has said some pretty funny things the past week. We've been in stitches all day from the crazy things he's said and done. He is more focused, or so it seems. It's just setbacks like this that make me question whether it's all in my head? Then my mom kept him a few nights ago alone, and she is not used to eating the way we do... She called me the next day pretty much chewing me out, saying that this diet is crap, he can't eat anything, even though I sent all his meals and several snacks for him. I know it's difficult, I do. Like I don't know??? Of course it would be easier to just pop a TV dinner in the microwave and give it to my kids. But I don't. Because I believe in this, and I believe that I am healing my child. And to me, that is more important than convenience. Even if some days it's a pain in the butt, and I feel like I'm killing myself by running myself ragged! But I keep going, for Gabriel, for all of us. Don't get me wrong. I KNOW my mom loves my kids, and she believes in "healthy eating" and diet and exercise. She just doesn't believe in OUR version of it, and I don't think she believes in the healing properties of food to the extent that I have come to believe. My mom still thinks everything is fine in fact. She doesn't believe that Gabriel is delayed, although it's painfully obvious. I get wanting to see the best in your kids, and act like there's nothing wrong, even when there is. It's painful for me to face this, but, if I live in denial of my child's delays and weaknesses, how am I ever to help him? It is my job as his mother to face the facts, and do what I know best. Not deny it. Not to mention, I take things my mom says to heart. When she bashes something, even if her intentions are good, it kills a little of my spirit and makes me doubt myself or ideals. This has just been a rough week all around. I'm feeling a little hopeless, and I wish I were writing about more progress than failure. I love my little boy to the moon and back, and all I want to do is to help him and help him heal. I want him to be whole, and I want him to be "normal". I will always love him, no matter what, no matter how smart he is or isn't. But I want the best for him too. I don't want him to struggle through life, especially if it's something, I, as his mother, could have fixed. I guess I just needed a bit of a vent, and we could use some prayers.
So I am so excited to report some progress Gabriel has made. Gabriel was tested for Special Ed a couple weeks ago, I'd say about 2 weeks ago, before school let out. They said that when they tested him, one of the areas where he had a major weakness was understanding patterns. For example, they'd show a pattern, and ask what came next. Every time they did this, instead of completing the pattern, he would give the last picture that was shown, rather than what came next. They tried to explain it to him, but it just didn't "get through". His last day of school, this past Tuesday, I took my pay check for that day, and went to the Dollar Tree and pretty much bought them out on Pre-K school supplies and learning materials. I plan on teaching him at home this Summer to get him up to par. Anyway, I bought these dry erase books, one of them was early math skills for Pre-K children, and they had the pattern questions in it. I had him complete it today while I've been working in the kitchen, and when I went to check, he had done the same thing that the testing people said he had problems with. The first one was circle, triangle, circle, triangle, then he had to fill in what came next. Well instead of putting circle, he had drawn a triangle. I said, "Gabriel, no baby, it's circle, triangle, circle, triangle, what?" He said, "Triangle." So I said, repeated myself slower while pointing to each shape, "No, it's, circle, triangle, circle, triangle..." and he cut me off and said, "Oh! Circle!" And I screamed YES!!! He had a big smile on his face and I could tell by the look in his eyes that he had gotten it! It clicked!!! So I said, "Okay, what about this one? Square, oval, square, oval..." He yells out, "Sqaure!" I said "YES! You got it bud!", he proceeded to fix each one that he had messed up! That is HUGE for us right now, because according to the test givers, no amount of explaining it to him got through to him. This was 12, I repeat, twelve days ago! He has only been on the diet for 4! I can't wait to see where he's at in a month! Or even 6 months! It just does my heart so good to see such promising changes in such a short period of time! I'm so thankful to be on the road to healing!
Today has been, and will be a very busy day. Tomorrow we're having our Memorial Day family cook out at my parents' house. This will be a task. No one else in my family is on the paleo diet, and even worse, not gluten-free, at all. Luckily, we bring our own meat for my dad to grill, so I will be bringing grass-fed hamburger meat for burgers and grass-fed hotdogs as well. I am going to "attempt" to make a paleo bread recipe and make hamburger buns. I went to Hobby Lobby last night and bought a pan that makes whoopie pies. I'm thinking that they just may be the right size, shape and depth to get a desirable bun. We'll see. I'm also bringing sweet potato fries as my side dish. I know my mom LOVES sweet potato fries, so I'm hoping everyone else will enjoy them as well. I figure between the hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries, that will be enough for us for dinner. I'm just going to have to bring a small cooler as well for our organic, garbage free, homemade condiments since everything they have there is full of high-fructose corn syrup, gluten, and other junk. I'm also going to make several snacks to bring the boys in case they get nibblish after dinner, that way I have some healthy snacks on hand, and they're not tempted to eat crap. I'm so glad my 8 year old, Elijah, is so on board with this, and making conscious decisions to read labels and make healthier choices. Gabriel looks up to him, and I think that has played a huge role in Gabriel's success to eat what I give him. I'm also bringing a raw dessert. I'm bringing a triple layer mud cake. It's really good, but I can't tell my dad what's in it, because he won't even try it lol. Avocados are the main ingredient, and he won't touch an avocado to save his life. But I'll tell him after he eats it, I always enjoy the look on his face when I do!
So it's day three for Gabriel and I'm seeing some small improvements today. He seems to be thinking a little more clearly, and speaking a little clearer. He did say something today that melted my heart though, which reinforced my desire to heal him through food, and assures me that I'm teaching my children the right things. I had some freshly made almond milk in the fridge this morning, and he asked for a cup. Gabriel's a picky eater, but in a good way. While he likes sweets, he's picky with them. He's more apt to eat a salad than a cheesecake, and for that I am grateful. Well, I made unsweetened almond milk, because I mostly just use it in my coffee, which I sweeten with stevia, paleo cereal, which has honey in it, and I cook with it, so I don't see a need to sweeten it. I gave him a little in a glass to see if he liked it first, before I poured a whole cup. He took a big gulp and looked at me and said, "It's good for my brain?" lol! Out of the mouths of babes! That made me want to cry! I told him, "Yes baby, it's good for your brain, and your body." It's little things like that, that make this whole journey so worth it, no matter how hard or inconvenient it seems sometimes. :)
Today is Gabriel's first official day on his new diet. We have a long way to go. There really isn't a whole lot to report today, as we're just getting started, but I hope that through our journey that we can help others. If others see the struggles that we've had, that are being fixed through something as simple as changing our diet, I hope that others may question theirs, and realize that there's still hope. Please be patient as I build this site, but I hope you'll stick around and accompany us on this journey, and watch my son grow into the boy I know he was meant to be. All I want for my son is to be healthy and happy, and right now, that means helping him find mental clarity. :)