This holiday season was the first where we've had to differentiate between home-school time and home-vacation time. I've always been someone who works well with a schedule - a list-maker, happy to check off my to-do list on a busy day. Our new situation is more open, relaxed and to my type-A mind, a little unsettling. It's taken the last month to let go and start to see the possibilities of taking our time.
Instead of rising to an alarm at 6 am, rushing my son into clothes, toothbrush, throwing Cheerios in a baggie and hurrying off to school by 7:30, we can now wake up when we are. . .well. . .awake! Meals can be taken together instead of in the car and there is time for Liam to take care of his own morning routine. One morning, I was thrilled to watch my son emerge, fully dressed in his choice of a long-sleeved red t-shirt, and gray trousers without being prompted or asked. He'd also put his pajamas away.
Being home most of the day, makes trips for errands and shopping fun, instead of one more dreaded task in an already tasky day. His old schedule had him in school, with an aide for 6 hours per day and 2-3 hours of ABA after school 5 days a week. Leaving home meant no time to play on the computer or draw - something he had to wait for all day.
We did get some full-on vacation time, taking a trip to visit relatives in Florida. Trips have always been like a mental breath-mint for me. The absolute inability to deal with anything pressing at home lets me look at the world with clearer eyes. As for Liam, he met Secretariat's great-grandson, Joe, and let the horse nuzzle his head, played XBox 360 games with his cousin, ran around in the dark with a spotlight, listening to coytes, ate Grandma Carol's Pizzels and swam with Papa John. He also had a full-scale meltdown when we moved from my parent's place with high-speed internet and great computers to my brother's house with limited access. My nephew saved the day with his X-Box game - the perfect distraction!
Now that we are back in "school" mode, we've outfitted each room with a clock, to help Liam get a sense of when things are happening and when they will be expected to happen (hard stuff for him). I'm very excited to have started a new math program designed by the MIND Institute at UC Davis called "ST Math". It is a non text-based approach to math from K-12. We're also revisiting a program we've had since Liam was in Kindergarten, the Grammar Trainer. These are easily added to the Time 4 Learning curriculum we subscribe to and the supplemental workbooks (Brain Games) that we love.
Returning from vacation also means catching up on important appointments. Because of Liam's interest in "Dr. Chris: Pet Vet," I brought him along for our cat, Jake's overdue vet visit. Dr. Steve let Liam listen with the stethescope and for some reason, the sound of Jake's heartbeat gave him the giggles (they lasted the rest of the day!). We'll use the video we shot as a jumping off point for writing about the event.
We also had a chance to visit with friends who have two young daughters (2 and 4). For the first time, we watched Liam playing full-out WITH other kids. Their preschool age makes them perfect playmates for Liam, since we'll all have flexible schedules. It seems to be a combination of his social age being about at their level, while being aware of being the "big kid" and really enjoying how they follow his every move.
On another social front, Liam continues to attend Cub Scouts. He avoids the boistrous interactions with the other 8 yr. olds in unstructured time, but enjoys following along with activities, like the flag ceremony and playing marbles (he won the first round).
With January in full swing, our days are even beginning to take on a recognizable rhythm and shape that makes my type A heart skip a beat. Here's to a productive new year.