31 May 2009


Sunday. This has been a week. I checked last week. . . . Monday, I thought I posted a little note but apparently I only saved it. I can't guarantee coherence but I can write something.

Julia and I are in Jersey and I am typing this at my mother's bedside. There is nothing much to do but sit now. Sit now. She is slipping away. The priest is coming in a little while, while my mother is still somewhat responsive, but she is only responsive in the most general sense. I am glad I decided to come out when I did. I think she recognized me when I came in yesterday. I don't know how much longer she will.

My mother and I have not had an easy relationship. I have always been the oil to her water. For a good long while now, we have navigated around our disagreements and spoken only about the easy things -- politics and religion were easy (though we never talked about my becoming a Unitarian), heart to hearts and talking about challenges have never been part of our mix. Yesterday, I was sitting my her and took her hand to hold. She allowed me to do it for a little while and then shook my hand off and firmly took hold of her other wrist. Such an example of how we do together -- Holding her hand was for me, not her, and when she gave what she could, she wanted to be of herself again.

I listened to Deepak Choprah talking about life after death traveling from Wisconsin to Jersey. I cannot recite much theory or stories, but there was a lot of comfort there for me, and there were words.

25 May 2009

Weekend bathroom

The weekend work as of yesterday. Today, I finished the third side of the shower surround and put the shower shelves in. Ready for the carpenter to rip up the floor and ready it for more tile tomorrow.
And this is the current vanity. Just over the kitchen sink where the taxi cow, the purple penguin, and now our toothbrushes live.

24 May 2009


I have spent two days tiling the bathroom. It is going very well but it is taking me the best part of each day and Julia is spending the days with her Daddy. After what seems like forever, and in reality is three days, we went to the Y for showers.

Tiling. While I do it, I can be totally absorbed into the making of it. It is a challenge but not hard. It is just about the doing of it. As I do it, I listen to books on tape and I am present. I have to be to get it done. Nothing complicated about the process. It is hard for me to meditate well. I have such a monkey mind, but doing a task like this one, I can get so much closer to what I imagine stillness of mind is.

Yesterday, Julia and David went to the toy store because Julia has ten stickers. Time to get a new toy earned by her home work and some very good behavior at school. Julia have been mooning the baby bunnies for her Rabbit family. She couldn't wait to open the package and start playing with them. This morning she and I were playing that the mommy and daddy rabbits were holding the babies. Then, Julia said that the parents were going to 'dopt the babies from the orphanage.' After adoption, the parents took the babies to the doctor's office so that the babies could get shots and get the ear wax out of their ears. Another interesting remembering for Julia -- this was what we needed to do when Julia first got home.

22 May 2009

An old house -- the great teacher

The floor is rotten. It must come up. But it can't be done today. So I can't tile the floor today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day.


The shower surround will have plaster board and be mudded today. Can't work on that until tomorrow. No shower until Tuesday.

Ah, the joys of an old house, a limited budget, and one bathroom.

Bethroom, etc.

So, it's Friday. Rainy after I planted lots of basil and parsley and sunflower seeds yesterday, not to mention grass seed in my back yard holes. Quiet after the plumbers ripped our bathtub and sick out of the bathroom. The banging on the walls disturbed every picture hung on every wall of our house -- yes, it is a small house. Today, the carpenter comes to put underlayment on the shower surround and the floor, preparing the way for me to tile this weekend. Tuesday, the new sink comes in. I will have lots of grouting and then sealing to do, but in another week or so at the most, we will have a better bathroom!

Right now, I feel the waiting, waiting, waiting time that comes just before the rush, rush, rush time. I am looking forward to getting into the tile, a bit nervous about gutting small tiles and deal with with ever drying glue -- not glue, adhesive.

Julia has had a few very good behavior days at school. She is also announcing to us/me what she is going to do -- Mommy, I hug Gracie today. I see planning behind those eyes.

Yesterday, on our ride to Marilyn's (AT), Julia was telling me what she hated. She hates school, she hates me, she hates . . . I asked her not to use the word hate because it was such a strong word and it made me sad. Julia then repeated what she hated as what she didn't like, but she ended with "I hate change." Whew!!!!! Like a wind blowing through our little car. "Yes," I said, "yes, you don't like change at all, do you?" "No," my spicy dragon said. We talked a bit but she stopped her hating/not liking after that.

Julia remains her best therapist. I get inpatient for the changes that will make her seem more typical, and she gives me those changes in her own time, at her own pace, and I am sure, perfectly.

We are still going over the -at words and I've added -an words. I go over them many more times than I would have with Cheshire, and Julia is growing patience as we work together.

She is naming flowers as I point them out. For Cheshire, it was musical comedies and guessing the actor singing on records and tapes. For Julia, it is the flowers/plants that we pass. She has an absorbing interest in natural life and going on any walk takes ages as she investigates ant hills and other holes in the dirt. Watches for fish, dead and alive, as we walk along the bay. Is fascinated by stories about how ants are necessary for peonies to bloom. And is trying to figure out if centipedes are different from millipedes. I have no idea.

My summer ideas are starting to come together. We will have up to 5 hours a day, during the week, of therapy for autism. I am hoping to add to that 2-45 minutes lessons. One for reading (with some number thrown in) and the other for science. Swimming, bike riding, and playing to fill in the rest of our days.

Recently, I've been stumped as to what to say when I've been in some social settings with Julia -- situations where we are with strangers or acquaintances, where people do not know her and are not likely to get to know her or us well. After her latest growth spurt, Julia looks like she is the 8 years old that she is, so she is not more a little girl whose social ineptitude can be easily excused. It confuses many adults who try to talk to her when she doesn't answer, doesn't look at them, says something that is totally not appropriate to the situation, or just hugs them.

What do you say when the mere acquaintance looks up at you with wondering eyes?

I don't want to recite her diagnoses or her history. And I want them to understand and be kind -- to listen to her and encourage her. I have not lost my mind, so I realize that is way too optimistic. I just don't want them to look so perplexed, I want to stop them from looking at her so strangely. She doesn't understand those looks right now, and I've been hoping that she would become "socially acceptable" before she started understanding. Now, I am fishing for words -- the equivalent of "I stutter when I speak" that I use when people start correcting me or begin to giggle when I am talking. Somehow, "She is autistic" makes more of the situation than there is. In truth, any explanation makes more of the situation then there is, but something is necessary to put everyone at ease. And I know this is my baggage and not Julia's, but I do want people at ease.

Just had a good talk with the carpenter, very nice guy. He will rip up the floor -- sorry, David -- because the wood is rotted underneath the linoleum. He is also going to loan me his tile cutter this weekend so I don't have to rent one.

More noise, but I'll get some house work done, get a book on tape to tile to, and make an appearance in circuit court.

20 May 2009


Small things are happening all the time, like yesterday, Julia made some "art" during after school and when I picked her up she said she made it for me. This involves a whole lot of skills including making the art (and it was clear that she was doing what other people did), remembering she made it, telling me about it, and Telling me that she made it for me. This is not sudden, Julia has been building up to it. She is acting a bit older and she is trying to behave well. She tells me this all the time. Julia is 8, I think of her as 4, and maybe she is starting to act like she is 5 most of the time.

Today is the last playgroup session. I am both sad and relieved. We have made some progress and the kids continue to have a great time there. This itself is incredible success. I am learning as well and ready to plan for the fall. Money is still our challenge but I will attact that seriously after this week. A new issue arose last week, as long as we are going to have typical children act as expert players and pair them with kids on the spectrum, we need to teach these kids as well. They need to learn about tolerance, compassion, and how to play with someone who is not as typical as they are. Is it just a matter of modeling that behavior and hoping they catch on, or can we do something more?

Julia is now asking when we are doing playgroup and is very excited about going. Another member of the group caught me in the playground to tell me how sad she was that it was ending for the semester. This feels like incredible success.

18 May 2009

Good stuff

* IDS, our intensive autism therapy providers, will start Julia's therapy on July 1 so that we can fit in a trip to Jersey right after the close of school. They told me to call if I needed more time.

* We may be able to take a week's vacation from the therapy if we make it up during that calendar month.

*Julia wanted to walk to school today.

* Thursday is bathroom renovation day. It will be a busy week after that but then our bathroom will be soooo much nicer.

* Our last playgroup is this Wednesday. I am say/relieved to have it over for this semester. But as soon as it is through, I can start building a curiculum for Julia for this summer. I want to include all the things I want to do with her, including some field trips and of course, swimming. Considering that once we get back to Madison, we will be doing 4-5 hours a day of therapy, it will be a challenge fitting in learning. I am thinking that it means lots of hands on stuff with reading and writing on the side.

* The result of Julia's receptive language testing is 5 years and 4 months which is great considering that last year sometime she was testing at about 3 and a half.

* To a child how has been hungry and who has owned little in her life for a long time, the story of the three bears is strange for a fairy tale. No happy ending because the little bear's chair remains broken and his porridge eaten. Julia's verdict: Gooldy Locks has very bad behavior. Long time out!

* My singing hurts her ears.

* Julia went to OT and speech therapy at 11 and noon today. I picked her up from school and collected her lunch box. I offered it to her in the car but she had just had snack in class. Midway through speech therapy, Julia became really angry. She refused to follow direction and started calling names. I braced myself for a tantrum. Thinking about food, I asked her if she was hungry and she said she was. I brought in her lunch box, she ate her rice dish like a starving person and then was absolutely fine. So there is a trigger for you!

17 May 2009

I read The monster inside my son, on Salon.com today. Is this the fear, the dread, the worst case scenerio of every parent with an autistic child? I know a child right now whose family is trying to figure out what to do about his aggression. The article describes a sweet, dreamy child who grows up to not be able to live in the world, who grows up to harm his mother and scare his siblings. I could check the stats on this one -- what percentage of autistic kids grow up so violent that they must life in institutions, but what good are any percentages that would say 10%, 20%, etc., if you child is the one, then the chance was 100%.

I can be very reasonable, and I can also hope and pray real hard. There but for the grace of god . . . Let's just hope for that grace.

Both David and I have notice Julia looking at us, trying to get us to look at her, and just smiling. It is silly, it is very young. Sometimes she talks about falling in love, and I wonder if she is falling in love with being with us.

We worked together today on homework. She hasn't wanted to do it for a few days and I have not pushed it. I want to work regularly but I also want to her to want to do the work, to enjoy the work, and to give her a bit of slack when she has busy days. But then we do not get as much done.

We went over alphabet sounds and then the -at words. It did not go quickly, but not as slow as last time. When we finished pronouncing the words, I had her write down each one -- like a spelling test (not bad to introduce this concept for the future) -- and then read what she had written. Tonight when I put her to bed, I took out a book that uses lots of the -at words. Julia was thrilled that she recognized the words and could read the title without my saying it first.

Julia's behavior was good this weekend apart from church this morning. She decided that she wanted to stay in the classroom before class began and I wanted to see the beginning of the service. She started yelling and I took her aside and held her. We had to do two holdings before she could go into church, and we did get in, albeit just before the kids were asked to go to their classrooms. Is it testing? I wondered if it was today. Does she want to see how far she can go having her own way? The anger was not as intense but the physical part is still impulsive.

16 May 2009


This is a bunch of very small tulips that just bloomed today, and because we are having a frost tonight, might be gone by tomorrow morning.

Farmers' Market

We all love walking around the state capital's square on Saturday. Today, it was chilly and there is still not much in the way of fresh veggies, but the cookies are there which is what excites Julia.
Typical Saturday scene around the square.

Cookie break!

At the edge of Saturday

The day started very grey but some blue is peeking throught now, later in the morning. Weather reports say we may get a freeze tonight and today will be windy. So we will bundle up if we need to and go to the farmers' market, and a plant sale, and then work on our lawn and gardens. Julia is into her little pets and animals this morning. Very regular morning. Cheshire is headed back to my mother's house. Angel child that she is. How did we raise someone who is better than ourselves? I have one more busy week -- last playgroup on Wednesday, meeting on Wednesday night, and other things, and then to get ready to tile on Friday through the weekend. I like that -- a project that is defined and doable. It may be a busy weekend, and I might be swearing and sweating sometime next Sunday, but then it will be over and we will have a prettier, and more useful, bathroom.

I know that was much too much to put in one paragraph, but in my mind, it is all in one paragraph, so . . . .

Before breakfast, I gave Julia two directions. I used my fingers and told her, one, wake up daddy, and two, set the table. She used her own fingers to repeat that back to me and then went ahead and did it. Apart from forgetting the forks, she did both without any more prompting.

15 May 2009

Marianne's pictures

Our house guest of last weekend, our friend Marianne, took some pictures of Julia's clay work. Her pictures are indeed so much better than mine. Here are two views of an eagle sitting on her nest. The next has eggs in it.

back in the trenches

I have been wandering recently. Preoccupied with too many things, my mother's health, my families welfare, the playgroup, taking on responsibility, and redefining myself without paid work. I have obsessed and have not been able to concentrate, not able to focus, not able to study. But I seem to have turned again, and it is time to go back to the trenches and read and write. Read, right now. More on Autism, and later more on Trauma and RAD.

What I read about autism saddens me. Not the differences or disabilities, but the understanding of separateness that these children carry with them as they grow. At this point, I do not think that Julia knows that she is different. I don't think she sees the world as marching to a different drum than she does. I think of the children in our playgroup and I think that only one, possibly two understand this. And for them, there is blessing in this time.

To fully understand difference and to understand that they can never bridge the gap is crushing. The weight almost too hard to bear -- bones break, muscles dissolve.

At least in my perception.

I understand difference first hand, but my difference which seemed so magnified in my younger years shrunk as I grew. They shrunk as I found people that were patient with me and my speech. In a sense that was all that I needed -- patience. And patience, although meaning the world to me as a teen and young adult, is so little. Such a small accommodation in legal terms. Such a small step from the ordinary.

But these children who are not neurotypicals, need more than patience. They need translation. What is necessary is that they change or some many people in the world change. They need so much accommodation. And I do not want to necessarily change them, not strip from them who they are and replace it, but how are we to reach out, how to bridge that gap.

Now that I understand the research a little bit, my heart is breaking.


I want to write this morning but the sky is clouding over and it is supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend. Every time I plan gardening, . . . . well, I guess I should not be trying to play but trying to take advantage of the best days.

Isn't that life?!

Some things --

Julia's slot for the state subsidized autistic waiver has come up. This means that she is illigible to get intensive therapy -- from 20-35 hours a week -- for the next year. She is also elligible for two more years of therapy which can mirror the intensive or be modified. I have chosen a provider and now have lots of questions. Therapists will come to the house. It is not be difficult in the summer without school but will be quite challenging when school begins. But if we see it helping, we will stay the course. Intensive therapy has been very effective for younger children, and I have a gut feeling that it can be effective for Julia as well. I will be in the house whenever a therapist is here, so I will monitor what is being done. I know that behavioral therapys can be counter productive for kids who suffer from trauma, but good therapists will find ways to move around this. This may also break up our summer days while still keeping Julia at home.

Recently, there is a house that has caught our eye(s). It belongs to a long time college friend who grew up in Madison. She lives in NYC but her folks remained in the great midwest. The house is part of her parents' estate and she is getting ready to sell it. We went to take a look and rather fell in love with this one story rather modern house. It was strange that both David and I liked it -- it is so different from everything else we've ever bought. There are many people interested in the house and the price is not set yet, so there is a very good chance we will not get it. BUT it seems that tastes are changing and our next search, if there is to be one, will include another style. I think that both David and I long for less clutter, clean lines and an more open layout. It is an interesting change.

Today in school, Christy, the teacher, was not there and a sub (also named Suzanne) took her place. It was a hard day for our kids on the spectrum. Julia got mad, as did Aaron. Another girl was very quiet, too quiet, and another ran around more. Also during the beginning of the day, another student threw up and needed to go home. So the beginning of the day was pretty hard.

I feel very at home in that room now and can relate to some of the kids. The writing workshop was very informal and I played games with the kids who asked me. I was surprised that a number wanted to play with me. Julia didn't. She was busy reading and writing, but she also did not seem to mind. We did do some cuddling in the hall during circle time to calm her down and difuse a bit of anger, but when it was time to work she released me, did her own thing, and allowed me to play with the kids who asked.

I'm going to try to get a few minutes in the garden before the heavens open.

13 May 2009


We had our ninth play group today and the kids did very well. Julia's partner did not particularly want to play with her but they did talk a bit during the make believe play. Both of them worked on their craft project -- toilet paper roll animals -- and I was particularly pleased to see Julia have no trouble at all focusing on this project.

Julia is moving forward with her reading. She has been repeating the -at and -an words in school. Last night, she ask if she could learn to read one of the book that I usually read to her. She followed along with me, reading out the sight words that she knew, and repeating the words that I gave her.

We enjoyed Marianne's visit this past weekend. She had worked with lots of kids and has experience with all sorts of challenges. She got on so well with Julia and fell very easily into teaching her. Julia had no trouble with that. Interesting how Julia takes to people. After Marianne left on Tuesday, Julia asked where Marianne was eating and sleeping. Good questions, both.

Marianne did a past life regression with me. I haven't done one in more than 20 years and then it was with groups both times that I participated. With Marianne, I was able to talk about what I saw and she able to take lots of notes. It was exciting and that person/part of me has been with me since.

Last night, walking the dog, I tripped and fell hard. I scraped one side of my face and chipped two of my teeth. I have been in pain all day today and finally called the dentist by the end of the day. Oy! Embarassment, yes. And feeling very foolish. I can't believe that I could trip and mess up two teeth!

10 May 2009

Mother's Day

It was a lovely Mother's Day!

Marianne is still with us which has been delightful. Having a dear visitor from far away is almost as good as traveling myself . . . not quite, but almost.
Julia signed a card and was very proud of it. Couldn't really wait for me to open it. David bought lovely earings that went on straight away. It was my turn to teach at church and this lesson was about the Unitarian ritual called the Flower Communion. I have not been at this service yet but the story was sweet and I find I have no trouble at all teaching anything that involves gardens and flowers. We make egg crate and pipecleaner flowers which the kids enjoyed much more than I thought that they would. I can see this this year of teaching RE has really helped develop my skills with kids and has been a good basis of comparison as I think about the social skills group.

Walking in the Olbrich Gardens was beautiful and Julia led the way as we went to the conservatory, the Thai temple, and the great lawn.

08 May 2009

The day outside is beautiful; I have to clean inside. Cleaning has been put off all week and because we are expecting weekend company, I cannot possibly excuse myself from the chores. Well, I could but I'd like myself to speed through the chores so that I could spend at least minutes or an hour in the dirt outside before driving to Milwaukee to pick up a friend I've never met.


I "met" Marianne in/at an online Findhorn group. (Check out the link if you want to learn more about the spiritual community in Scotland) I joined the email group in the early 90's and though members have come and gone, most of us have been together for more than 10 years. Our emails have fallen off in the last few years but occasionally there will be a flurry of communication and we catch up, write of problems and challenges. Our members are from all over the world, and I've met two -- one from England and the other from Ohio. Marianne is from Australia, and we will be meeting in person for the first time later this afternoon. She has made an awesome journey to North and South America over the last few weeks and it has been greet to virtually travel with her through her travel updates. I hope that she likes Wisconsin and our little family.

I feel rather sober today.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was seeing a situation unfold via email about money and our PTO. I have been able to "Watch" the current president handle the situation and I even was comfortable offering a few suggestions which were on the conservative side, but truth be told, the conservative and even moderate view point are just not mine. The thought that remains as the controversy winds down is that I want to move the organization into liberalism! I am confused as to the aim and purpose of PTO. We raise money and give it out, but to who and under what circumstances? PTO appears to provide funds for as many things as possible that enhance the school like of the entire school community. That being said, the funds that get channeled into the Parent Empowerment Groups which touch non-caucasian children and their families are funds going to exclusive groups. The problem that has arisen could be framed as how exclusive can a group be and still get funding? When I brought my grant to the PTO, I did not think of the playgroup as an exclusive group. To me, it was no different than providing money for one classroom teacher to buy books, or for the lego league to buy more supplies. The number of kids touched by these grants was larger than my playgroup but also exclusive.

It strikes me that I am not sure if the comparison of the playgroup to the recent request by another group for funds is because of the number of kids involved (which some of the voting members seem to be focused on) or the way we originally got our grant (which was slightly out of the normal grant process, but the extra-normal process we went through -- providing more information and more planning before we were voted on -- was at the request of the Executive Council that recommends the grants).

There is talk of line drawing. There is talk about case by case decisionmaking. There is talk of following bylaws and then about the use of custom. Why is the politics of the group only revealing itself now? I have been at almost every meeting for two years, every meeting this year. I recognized politics before but not what is going on now. And, smiling rather ryly, I am surprised to hear my playgroup discussed as something that is out of the ordinary when I so thought it was part of the mainstream. Oh, am I so out of the mainstrean? And then, what am I doing as the new president?

The other subject of sober thoughts is of something that I should not have read.

I usually stuff the Friday folders that Julia's class takes home each week. Class newsletters, PTO news, snack reminders, and sometimes questionnaires and surveys. Recently, a questionaire went home asking parents for information to help teachers and administrators make decisions about class placement for next year. I think I stuffed those two weeks ago, and when I was stuffing folders this week, I found a few that were filled in and returned but not taken out of the folders. I could not resist the temptation to read what I found although I knew it was not at all my place to do so.

Most were as expected, praising Christy's work and saying very nice things about the class, but one opened my eyes wide. This was from parents who felt that their child was not stimulated enough and did not receive homework which the parents felt was very important in Kindergarten. Mostly the parents were disppointed because the child was placed in a classroom with disabled kids who took most of the teachers time. The parents perceived the their son could have made much more progress if he had been in a class without disabled kids which is what they would like for next year.

This felt awful. It hurt to think that my child was thought to be a detriment to the learning of another child. Of course, the Madison schools have a policy of total inclusion which everyone in this liberal town is quite proud of, so the opinion cut deep. Then again, I know this kid. I've worked with this kid and help the kid work. I don't see this kid as that extraordinary--cute but not overly interested in school work and not eager to share some hidden learned skills. I've worked with this kid during writers' workshop and the work is very ordinary. To the extent that the parents are constantly working with this kid at home, I see no results.

Also, what these parents fail to see is that Christy's class is smaller than usual and there are many more adults in the classroom much of the time. These aids and specialists serve more than those needing accomodation. I see this kid as enjoying the privileges and services that kids with challenges have gotten.

Next term, I hope to get more peers to work in our plaggroup. Others have told me that it is difficult to get peers to join us. Will that be possible?

05 May 2009


Julia has been very happy the last few days. The After School people tell me she is sillier than usual. She had all smiles on her behavior chart for school yesterday. Even when she fusses or refuses, she seems to be only kidding a lot of the time -- doing it just to test, to keep her front up. She wanted to cuddle yesterday, although there is still lots of times when I need to push her to do out attachment work.

But during the last weekend, Julia wanted my attention more just to smile at me. She demands that I look at everything she is creating, and she wants to do more of what we are doing. I think she is even being nicer to the dog -- I don't want to raise my hopes up too high.

Still, she did not want to do home work last night, but on the plus side she was visible tired. We are seeing many more yawns and more cooperation going to bed. Still, that kid is like a nesting dog when she falls asleep. There are times I think she will never, ever settle down!

Another thing about yesterday, when Julia came into the classroom -- late because we went to early morning therapy -- she saw Aaron and heard him saying under his breath that Julia was there and that he wanted her gone. Julia heard it -- the kid does have super hearing! -- and looked intently at Aaron. Dare I say, ready to attack. I was leaving and saw that Mary was ushering Julia to take off her jacket and do her morning routine, and the fact that there were no sad faces on her beahvior chart means that she did not find a time to go back and get Aaron. This is a good thing.

I am dealing, via email, with my first PTO presidential issue. Although I am not formally president yet, my input is being sought. Gosh, there is a lot to learn and I have always been dreadful at politicing.

04 May 2009

Monkey Bars

Me: Come on, Julia.

Julia: Mommy, I'm coming on!


Egads! (in a very fake British accent) I am so far behind and in no way working up to capacity. Still feel like I am trudging along with energy or purpose. And so, I had a talk with myself this weekend -- I can be hard to talk to. LOL.

We rode past a soccer field yesterday where kids and parents were getting ready for practice and/or games. I can't help but be reminded at how far Julia is from doing something like that. Should I be looking into sports for kids with challenges? Do they have such things? I felt the tug from the part of me that is still caught wanting normalcy -- wanting soccer games or dancing school instead of therapy and controlled visits. Wanting some freedom, not from my girl, but with my girl. There are days I feel we live in a bubble of our own construction, living somewhat parellel to those who we observe.

But in this bubble there is some joy. Certainly. Yesterday, this idea of reading family words (as in, hat, fat, cat, rat, etc.) clicked inside of her. We went through as many -at words as I could imagine and Julia got it! She can sound out the first letter and then put it together with the -at end. Slowly, but doing it. We are moving towards reading.

The other thing we worked on yesterday was to write four sentences about ants (her current passion), tape the writing sheet on a bigger piece of drawing paper and then draw on the rest of the bigger sheet. The drawing, however, must be about ants. This was not easy for Julia -- she crumbled up the paper once and had lots of harsh words for me, but what I want to try doing is to focus her on one topic at a time. She will have/does have plenty of opportunities to draw and work with clay but I want to channel some of this creative energy to a specific topic.

One idea I have is to work on weekly or biweekly themse during the summer. Things like dinosaurs, bugs, dogs. Scient content if I can manage it but with a creative edge for her to hook into. Always writing first and then drawing and learning the discipline to draw on topic, even if it is tangential. I don't think this is too challenging for her but I will find out.

01 May 2009

Cherry Blossoms and Branchbrook Park

From the time I was born until I was about to enter third grade, our family lived on a small street that deadended at an entrance to a wonderful park that had the second largest cherry blossom display in the country. (D.C. had the largest in those days) Every spring when blossoms adorned every tree ( or so I thought), people would come from all over to stroll in the park and enjoy the beauty. Of course, we walked in the park amost every day. I remember walking with my parents, my grandparents, with my mother and the stroller, with my mother and grandmother walking through the park to get to our local butcher, with my grandfather to roll down the big hill. Almost always, we stopped at the playground and I rode the swings the tall wooden slide, the seesaw, and the merry-go-round which was powered by bigger kids and went around much too fast. But when the cherry blossoms were in bloom, our family would get dressed up in Sunday best and join all the other "tourists" to stroll in the park and take pictures.
When Julia and I were out in Jersey a few weeks ago, and Cheshire was with us, I took them to visit my old park and we visited just after the peak of the cherry blossom display. There are still beautiful trees, some very old and hardly in bloom at all, and many small new trees in their first blooms. The display was not as lush as I remembered but it looked like there will be lush displays again when the new trees mature. Still, it was lovely, and we walked, played in the playground, and took pictures of my lovely girls.