Crunchy Thoughts

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sputnik; 84 months in orbit

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Wow, 84 months in orbit! That’s seven Earth years!

Just before his seventh birthday, Sam finished up first grade, so he is now officially a second grader. First grade was Sam’s first year of real, bonafide school work and he did really well with it. The first few weeks were a bit of a struggle until the schedule was established. After that, Sam was bothered more by the days when we didn’t have any schoolwork. He has always been a man of routine.

The subjects we worked the most diligently on were math and reading. Science and history are mixed in there, but he mainly absorbs that through Lydia’s work and his general questions about life, the universe, and everything. Reading has gone extremely well, especially in comparison with Lydia. Thankfully, Sam does not show any signs of dyslexia. Finding the syllables in words is a no-brainer for him. Just this morning we practiced finding the syllables in common household words like ‘Godzilla,’ ‘Biollante,’ and ‘King Ghidorah.’

Math is an interesting subject for Sam. He can add and subtract easily, multiplication tables are easy to memorize, but he would much rather think about Very Big Numbers instead of the small-scale stuff we work on for school. He doesn’t care so much that 7+5 is the same as 6+6 — I think that’s already how he does math problems in his head anyway — he wants to think about 7,000,000 + 5,000,000 or how many zeroes are on the end of octillion. In our search for Very Big Numbers, we came across Graham’s Number, which is so large you cannot express it with usual means. From there, Sam made up his own number called Sam’s Number, which he says is a one followed by a Graham’s Number of zeroes. After talking about Graham’s Numbers, Sam’s Numbers, and octillion, thinking about 7+5 is on the mundane side for him.

Too bad, Sam. You still have to do the worksheets Mom gives you.

Though Sam didn’t do a whole lot of history work, he was sometimes very involved in Lydia’s history projects . . . and sometimes unwillingly at that. The addition of Sam makes Lydia’s History Videos much more unpredictable.


Sam is still my little musician and he has continued with drum lessons over the past year. He always enjoys his Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Wes. In March, Sam performed in a music recital by playing “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift. Here is where I would usually post a video of said recital, but Ms. Swift has got her music LOCKED DOWN, so when I uploaded the video to YouTube, they took away all the sound.

Fall Out Boy are much more willing to share. Good for them.

To combat some of the more difficult parts of Sam’s autistic side, he continues to have weekly occupational therapy. OT has helped Sam so much over the past few years and I am ever-grateful for all the help they have provided us. This past year Sam has made great strides with his fine-motor skills. One of his biggest feats he accomplished was learning how to tie his shoes. He is very proud of this accomplishment but he still greatly prefers his ‘Godzilla shoes.’

Sam has also started to master some of the more difficult handwriting tasks as well. Slowly but surely, he continues to improve. A few months ago, the occupational therapist said Sam was doing so well she moved his appointment frequency from once a week to once every two weeks. She has hinted that if Sam continues to improve, he will most likely qualify out of therapy by fall. Wow!

As Sam gets older and some of the fine-motor issues work themselves out, our main concern turns more toward social skills and anxiety flareups. To help us with all this, we began seeing a psychologist this past year. This has helped with some of the worries that Sam comes across. We’re slowly making headway, but there is still a lot of work for us to do.

Sam’s other quirks are really the ‘fun’ ones — the ones that make Sam so one-of-a-kind. Since I’ve recently droned on and on about Sam’s love of Godzilla, I won’t harp on about it here. Suffice to say, that boy loves him some Godzilla.

Sam’s other loves are still going strong. Orange, music, car washes, Harry Potter, it’s all still there. This past year Sam has become increasingly absorbed by the wonderful world of Minecraft. He and Lydia both have been playing Minecraft on the iPads for a couple of years now, but more recently Sam has discovered Minecraft on the computer, which is a totally different ball game. The computer Minecraft can be more personalized by adding mods, or modifications. Sam is allllll about mods. Naturally, one of the first mods Sam got was a Godzilla mod, where you can create a bunch of Godzillas, King Ghidorahs, and other kaiju in the game. There’s also some Harry Potter stuff, Pokemon, and other mods that enable you to build all kinds of things. Sam honestly knows way more about it than I do, and he is always willing to explain everything about mods to anyone who stays still long enough to listen.

We did take a few trips this past year. Nothing quite as exciting as Disneyworld, but we did go to the beach, which is one of Sam’s most favorite places in the world. It had been about a year and a half since our last beach trip and Sam was overjoyed to finally be back in the sand and waves. Last summer Sam learned to swim (yay!) so he was glad to use his newfound skills in the condo pool.

We also traveled up to Louisville and Chattanooga in the spring to visit friends and see all the fun things. Over that long weekend we hit up the Louisville Zoo, a fancy playground park, the Tennessee Aquarium, and a healthy sprinkling of fantastic restaurants. Sam’s favorite part was when he got to see the big snake.

That was probably my least favorite part.

Since we got past Christmas Sam has been very eager to know how many days until his birthday. Soon after the New Year, the questions began: “How many days until my birthday?” Trying to accomplish date calculations before your coffee has kicked in can be a little too slow for Mr. Gotta-Know-Now. Around this time we purchased an Amazon Echo, which is like a little speaker that responds to voice commands and answers questions. What a lifesaver! Sam quickly learned to ask Alexa instead, “Alexa, how many days until June 2nd?” and she would just spout off the answer. This became Sam’s morning routine; it was the first thing he said every day. Now that his birthday has finally come and gone he asks, “Alexa, how many days until Halloween?”

That six months of birthday anticipation finally paid off last Saturday when we held his seventh birthday party. The theme was Godzilla — come on, of course it was — and Sam had a grand ol’ time. He even dressed up for the occasion!

So, now we’re at seven, and life rolls on. He’s started second grade, which he is fine with as long as it’s mixed in with a lot of pool time and Minecraft sessions. He is juuuuuust under 48 inches in height, and I suspect by this time next year he will have finally surpassed Lydia in that department.

We shall do school.

We will go back to the beach.

We will probably have another Godzilla-centric Christmas.

We will lose more teeth.

We will keep being Sam. Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop that.

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