Just ducky days... :)
Here are a couple of pictures of the Pythagoras Switch-inspired, Rube Goldberg-type contraption that Brendan & Ck made last week.
I was particularly inpressed by the row of dominoes that climbed a block staircase in order to push a Thomas-train down the track & launch the lego projectile-thrower through a hoop :)
"Just ducky" is a pretty good description of how things are going lately. We've had 3 "Camp Ck" days so far & the guys are having a great time. Today they visited the science museum in the morning & took apart the old printer in the afternoon (I have yet to look at Brendan's room, but they did do the take-apart on newspaper, at my request, so hopefully there will be no maternal screaming when I do go up & look :).
Over the weekend Brendan & Charlie spent a lot of time together. Charlie is borrowing a boat from a fleet member who can't sail this summer (having sold his right before we left for Japan & not found a replacement yet), so he went to get it on Saturday morning, to take it to the club & rig it & get used to it. Brendan originally wasn't interested in going with Charlie, but when the idea was offered of fishing down at the club while dad worked on the boat, Brendan went for it. He hasn't been fishing since we got home from Japan & was ready to get out there (the fish are trembling :). He had a pretty good time, according to Charlie, even though the fish weren't biting. Of course, there was a side-trip for fries & a shake, which always sweetens the deal :) Later, when Charlie detailed the day to me, he mentioned that Brendan did spend a fair amount of time sitting in the car, which surprised me a bit. Basically, when the situation turned social (while picking up the boat, etc.) Brendan opted to sit in the car. Charlie said he seemed perfectly happy in there, & his anxiety when out of the car wasn't very difficult to manage, so I suspect that letting Brendan choose when & how to be social (as much as we'd love him to increase social contacts) is teaching him more about self-regulation than just upping the social expectations would ever do.
They had so much fun on Saturday that Charlie proposed a fishing trip in the boat for Sunday morning. This was no small undertaking, seeing as we're talking about a 15-foot sailboat (not a motor boat) that's built for racing, not for leg room :) Charlie managed to stow not only Brendan's tackle, but lunches, snacks, & an anchor- pretty darned good. They had a nice sail & then anchored in a cove for fishing. The only problem was that Brendan is accustomed to casting while standing up, & Charlie wasn't quite sure he'd manage to do it standing up without falling out of the boat... He did (manage it). He was also wearing his life jacket, & is a deep-end, Y-certified swimmer to boot, so the potential for disaster was minimal. Brendan was happy to catch 2 little perch before they sailed back to the club.
I am finally caught-up enough with coming-home stuff that I actually found myself at loose ends on Sunday morning. I was too tired to go to church & had a nice veg instead (Charlie pointed-out later that I'm allowed the occasional veg... :). It felt weird, & it made me realised that I'm a bit at loose ends. Before we left for Japan I managed to finish a lot of projects, which leaves me facing a creative void right now. It's not a comfortable feeling at all. I've been playing around with the origami books I got in Japan & also making lavender bottles- an old-timey craft in which you take an uneven number of fresh lavender sprigs (with long stems), tie them together right under the flowers, bend the stems down over the flower-portions, & then weave ribbon around the stems to capture the flowers inside. They end-up as lavender sachets when dried. I had given my last ones away in Japan & wanted to make some more but over the past few days, every time I decided I had a few minutes & went to collect some lavender stems, it would start to rain. Really, it became pretty funny. On Friday I finally got to do it, although it did sprinkle on me as I collected the first bunch for weaving. I continued bit by bit on Saturday & Sunday & have a bunch drying now, ready to be gifts in the future :) It's really hard for me, though, when I don't have a project in the works. I've realised over the years that I get the most pleasure out of life when I make things (particularly gifts), so I need to get my act together & start planning.
Sunday afternoon Ck came over so Charlie & I could go to our sailing fleet picnic & it was fun to share pictures from Japan & chat with folks. Charlie & I arrived in our yukata (cotton kimonos) from Kyoto which was pretty funny. Brendan & Ck went out for pizza among other activities & Brendan, of course, had a great time. When Brendan is with Ck, we've noticed that his anxiety is much lower & much better controlled than when he's just at home with us. Charlie & I have been discussing this (& Brendan & I saw his psychologist last week, too, & discussed this phenomenon with him) & we feel as though this is a break-through sign. Brendan is definitely better able to handle anxiety since we've been home from Japan. Perhaps it's because we brainstormed so many new & different ways to deal with it while we were there, & now he has an even bigger repertoire of coping strategies than ever before. Maybe it's just that we were out of our rut & could see the world (including anxiety) in a different way. Brendan definitely still suffers from the anxiety, but it's a lot more predictable. He has trouble leaving the house without a context or specific motivation. If we plan to walk in the morning, or walk to a restaurant for lunch, he can do it. If we decide on the spur of the moment to take a walk after dinner, he can't. he says he needs advance notice, so we're working with him & trying to do just that. At home, he's most susceptible to "fleas" (OCD thoughts) in the morning when he wakes up & in the afternoon, between 4-6:00 (always the "witching hours" for him). Sometimes we can set a ki barrier & he's fine & sometimes he's paralysed by anxiety & literally needs a push (gently :) to get moving or do something distracting. Yesterday he couldn't get rid of them until he was eating dinner & then they were gone like magic. That said, after waking me up a couple mornings ago because of "fleas" (needing my help to cope with them) & then apologising afterward for waking me up, the next morning he told me that he'd had fleas again that morning, but he was able to take care of them himself. This is the biggest change we've seen yet, in dealing with the OCD. He's been able to find strategies to deal with them, with our help, & then much more quickly than ever before, learn to use them on his own. It feels huge. I feel like I'm holding my breath, too, hoping that things will continue in this way. Pretty amazing- & another good reason to go out & see the world :)
Yesterday morning we had our walk after breakfast (it's still been pretty cool here, after last week's horrid hot days) & then had a tough time working on our weekly schedule. Neither of us was motivated... We decided to read together one of the Kamen Rider/GekiRanger magazines that we picked up in Japan & call it japanese practise :) We also decided that it would be a good day to go out for japanese for lunch, since we have both been missing the great food in Japan. We walked to our fave restaurant, just about 10 minutes away on foot, & had a lovely lunch. On the way back home I noticed that it was getting cloudy... by the time we were a block from home it was sprinkling, & we sprinted that last few houses, Brendan giggling like mad because he's faster, & me yelling "choto mate!" ("wait up!" in japanese :). We'd left the japanese magazine on the dining room table & so we decided to spend the afternoon doing one of the projects that came with the magazine- construct the Kamen Rider "Climax Form" belt & cell-phone-shaped activator. Many manga & kid-oriented magazines in Japan come loaded with "omake", free gifts. These are sometimes actual toys & stuff, but also have cleverly designed cardboard pop-outs to construct into working toys. They come with everything but glue or tape- this one came with the bits of velcro, rubber bands, & other odds & ends needed to make the toys. We had a great time working together & the belt can actually be worn (there's a cardboard buckle that attached to the rubber bands on the belt). Brendan, who usually doesn't like craft projects, was very motivated to participate in this one, so it was a lot of fun. We chatted while we worked, on a project we'd started thinking of that morning- making a wall hanging out of the dragon pictures we took in Japan. He likes the idea of printing the photos on inkjet fabric & then piecing them together (choosing a co-ordinating fabric) into a hanging for his room. I got a walking foot for my sewing maching a few months ago & have been wanting to learn to use it. Looks like a good creative project to get me back on track :) Brendan has been wanting to sew again, & since it's all straight seams he can do a lot of it. We'll let you know how we progress :)