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December 2001Holiday greetings from our blended household.
We didn't start 2001 with our traditional New Year's Party, because Wheels to Freedom was having a benefit dinner-dance. WTF is a local organization that provides wheelchair-accessible vans to people in need of them. We know several of their past beneficiaries. The New Year was a good opportunity to support them, and to count our blessings at being able to provide for our own family's special needs. (This year, however, we are having a party, and inviting everyone, so come on over!)
Here are the past year's Happenings of the Household, listed this time in alphabetical, rather than chronological order.
Aubrey (15), in his second year of High School, chose computer programming for his elective, and is doing well in it. He's found his niche as the first C++ programmer in our family. He wants to attend Gettysburg College, because they are rated number two in the nation on dorm food quality, and number one in computer-to-student ratio. Seems like two good reasons to us.
Bryn (17) suddenly woke up to the realization that college looms near in his future. After almost failing tenth grade, he has finally decided to take his future into his own hands. He started studying and doing his homework, and earned almost all Bs first marking period of 11th grade! (That is the closest any of the boys ever got to making the honor roll.) His grade of D in computer building class, however, mortified Muriel, who has built most of the family's computers. As for life skills, Bryn still can't cook anything except noodles and things out of boxes and cans. It is ironic, though, because he spends all of his spare time in an online fantasy game called Everquest. In that world, his character is a top-notch cook. Just ask him how many ways he can prepare Brownies (a little nasty woodlands race, not the Girl Scouts).
Curran, just about to turn 12, did not have any surgeries in 2001, but we continue to see improvements from his surgery of last year. We added a ramp to the front of our house, so Curran can now let himself in and out, in either wheelchair or walker. And speaking of fostering his independence, the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave Curran a swim spa in April. It is the best wish he could have made, and we all love it. Their reps hadn't even take their coats off when Curran told them, "I want a hot tub I can swim in," and handed them a picture. They said "OK", and Paul provided the sunroom (giving us a 102o F, all-season indoor pool). The local TGI Fridays sponsored a fund-raiser to pay for Curran's pool, took his picture for the paper, and on the way out to the car, Curran caught a walker wheel in a storm grate, flipped himself onto his face, got another fat lip, and broke off that same tooth that was capped after a similar accident a couple of years back. We're so glad this happened after the pictures were taken! We urge you all to remember the Make-A-Wish Foundation in your end-of-year charitable giving. We have seen a tremendous increase in Curran's confidence, balance, and ability to move because of the hydrotherapy he receives in the spa.
Devin is now 13. His Odyssey of the Mind team placed second in the Regional Tournament, and went on to the State Championships -- doubtless propelled by his creativity and dancing talents. Along with his brothers, Devin spends much time playing Everquest, in which the characters choose among various races, such as Gnome, Elf, Dwarf, etc. Devin was doing a self-esteem paper for catechism (a two year, once-a-week religious education experience we impose on all the boys, though they can choose between it and Bar Mitzvah training). He had to fill in the blanks about himself. Under "race", he wrote "Human!"
When Curran goes off to middle school next year, Erin (now 8) will be our last elementary school student. He started violin lessons this year, and though he shows little talent, will benefit, as have his brothers, from this obligatory musical training. He is developing into a serious gamer and computer nerd, thanks to the influence and example of his older siblings (especially Aubrey, who has assumed the parental role for Erin, much to Muriel's dismay).
With the boys all becoming older and more self-reliant, Muriel has returned to the workforce, as a substitute teacher. She continues to make trouble for the school district, as both an IEP (Individualized Instruction Plan) parent and a Gifted Advisory Council member. She continues to study neuro-feedback (as well as various alternative therapies for ADHD), and has in fact bought her own neuro-feedback machine. It isn't getting much use, though, partly because the boys don't like the software as much as they do their computer games, and partly because Muriel hasn't yet read the manual. It is still on her growing To Do stack! Meanwhile, giving in to the dark side of the force, Muriel finally put all the boys (and sometimes herself) on the stimulant medication Adderall. This helps the boys focus in school, and maybe will help her to get to other things on her To Do list, like suing Blue Cross for refusing to pay for two years of pre-approved (and subsequently rescinded) neuro-feedback claims. There are four different Blue Cross companies operating in PA, and the three others pay for such therapy. Muriel also wants to make PA offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for brain-injured children, but that is a whole 'nother case. Kind of makes her wish she had been a law school dropout instead of med school dropout!
After five years letting it simmer on the back burner, Paul got a burst of energy last month, and finally finished his latest book. "Tune In The Universe!" is an interactive hypertext book on CD-ROM (you read it on your computer, using its web-browser software), and is published by the American Radio Relay League. We're hoping it will be a best seller, as Muriel's mini-van (which was paid for with the advance for Paul's previous book, "Conquering Communications") is on its last wheels. His travel schedule has been somewhat impacted by the events of 11 September, but he still attended his planned conferences in France and Atlanta toward the end of that month. His level of political activism is increasing; Paul now serves on several committees of the International Academy of Astronautics, is Webmaster for the IAA SETI Study Group, and in fact has been nominated for membership in the Academy (only, don't call him 'Academician' just yet, as the process takes a couple of years). On a recreational front, having nearly completed the restoration of his 1951 MG-TD, Paul treated it to its first summer on the antique car show circuit, and came home from Bloomsburg PA with a second-place trophy. (You may recall that his first-place trophy is also from Bloomsburg.)
The year ahead will be as busy as ever, but we always have time for family and friends. Stop by for a cool drink and a hot soak in Curran's pool. Happy holidays from
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this page last updated 14 June 2007