Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Peaceful Spring Day

Today was one of our peaceful days. No baseball or music practice — just the regular Wednesday visit from Aidan’s occupational therapist (OT). He was eager to show her his new DAFO (fitted orthopedic brace) with the motorcycles on the strap that we went to town to get yesterday. Paddy was funny — he shouted “HI!” and then asked immediately for crayons and stencils, remembering what he had done on her last visit! Aidan played with putty, worked with stencils, picked up little circles with a magnet and put them into a bowl, and played on the spinning machine that she had brought. Paddy, follows right along and seems to think the OT is just a nice friend who comes with lots of toys to play with the little ones in the house! For her part, she says that she works siblings into the therapy and considers them part of the whole home environment, which is a nice attitude. We had a good talk about his IEP for next year — he is homeschooled like the rest of them but gets speech and assorted services from the local school.
Clare, 16, has been listening to the soundtrack of Sense and Sensibility. The composer was Patrick Doyle, who has become one of her new heroes. She told me how she remembers sitting near the stairs with Brendan when the two of them were very young and listening to the Henry V soundtrack and pretending to be the characters (from the movie starring Kenneth Branagh). I wonder what I was having them do for “school” that day? Funny how the things they remember for years are the “natural” things…. seeds planted and flowering over time.

The brand new spring weather must have brought about some nostalgia because Brendan talked about how he will always associate the last scene in Fellowship of the Rings — the scene with Boromir getting killed and the orcs kidnapping Merry and Pippin — with spring scents and sunny brightness, because he read that scene sitting on our deck with the sun shining on his head and on the book. Actually, I remember that clearly too. It was the first time he had read a fiction book by himself, by choice. Before that he read often, but mostly encyclopedias and field guides and non-fiction science or history books. It was the start of a beautiful relationship — he has read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy seven or eight times since then — so he reports — and knows it like a second world.
One thing that makes this day memorable was that my husband Kevin’s new game was “soft launched” which I guess means just released to the website without fanfare. Later there will be the regular press release and official “hard launch” . It is his first game out for quite a while and we are all looking forward to what it might do. Financially, that is : ) — not to sound greedy but we have been living way below the poverty line for quite a while and have a whole dream/wish list of things we could use if we could get them — like a second car, for instance??
I still feel a twinge of pure happiness whenever I go into the kitchen and catch a glimpse of the empty, clean sink and the NEW dishwasher Kevin just installed this weekend. No more cluttery-looking drainboard, no dishes in the sink waiting to be washed. We’ve waited three years for this! it died just after we brought my youngest home from the NICU in San Francisco. And we could never quite bear to use the money for another one until recently. Then it took another couple of weeks of the big box sitting in the kitchen, before Kevin could get long enough break from finishing the new product to work on it.

I have been at peace recently about this different approach to learning and education…. looking for learning rather than focusing on teaching…. accepting the slower, more intensive focus approach that seems to work for our family. There are books all over the house. They have all been reading the whole Harry Potter series in one big plunge — yes, we’re probably some of the few people left at this point who haven’t already. Kieron, 10, was outside hunting for lizards and frogs and trying to identify them from the field guide — he wants me to bind him a nature notebook.

Brendan is reading Paul Johnson’s “Modern Times” and Clare is reading Warren Carroll’s “Founding of Christendom” and planning to work her way through the whole series. She also went off with a bunch of foreign language books I had in my curriculum closet and is planning to start ASL to round out her foreign language requirements for college. Brendan is planning out the start of the next book he is going to write. We are all looking forward to Liam, almost 20 now, coming home from his freshman year at Thomas Aquinas College.

So lots is happening, it’s just at a more streamlike and less time-slotted pace, right now.

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