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73294681-8865-471C-BD31-9183956D91C9It seems like a long time ago now that we, make that I, reclaimed Christmas.  I don’t expect that the winter holidays will always be perfectly smooth but our last Christmas and then New Years cruise seemed to reset my holiday clock better than anything else.  Distinct differences and concrete plans worked miracles.  Prior to last year, I was not only missing our pre-death holiday ‘routine’ but also missing the friends with whom we shared many thanksgivings and a few Christmases—people and plans I thought would never change.  Then there was change.  Ah, embracing those Noble Truths.

Last Friday, another holiday clock ‘got’ reset— Passover.  David and I enjoyed hosting seders since before we were living together.  How many years ago was that? (Only Jan knows.)  Our seders evolved and sometimes disappeared while we were in school or traveling.  When we lived on Washington Boulevard in Indy, we had room for big parties and we indulged.  I don’t remember when David started writing our Haggadahs or when we began expecting Cheshire to play or write something for the celebration.  We cooked, many times for days.  I think it was the only time I’d take a day off work to get ready.

Since David died, Julia and I usually go to FUS  for a Unitarian Seder. In other circumstances, we might have been invited to friends or relatives houses for the first or second night of Passover, but we did not establish any of that during our first three years in Madison and I didn’t feel comfortable asking for invitations later.  This year, the planets did not align and there was no Unitarian Seder.  I started thinking.  The first and second night of Passover were squarely in spring break.  We had the chance to visit friends and most of the people I wanted to invite to a seder were not going to be home on those first two nights.  But almost everyone was free for the last night of Passover.

And I found haggadot.com, where I could cut, paste and edit my own first Haggadah which I titled, “The Shika’s Haggadah.” With the help of A, the living room was clear out for tables and 13 places. Table clothes long idle were ironed, silver candle sticks polished, a menu planned, I cooked the main course and guests brought sides.  And on Friday evening, we gathered, read, drank wine (and a lot of grape juice), ate and chatted.  It was very lovely, reminding me of our past, nudging me into a future.

During the weekend, I was somewhat exhausted and very full of contentment.

The week our Seder before was the week of Spring Break.  We started the week at home.  Julia had assignments from her drawing class and her photography class.  She also needed to work on her photoshop skills.  We had a good deal to work on.

Julia does well in art but she is not self motivated when it is not completely of her own choice.  It is something I worry about.  Ok, it is something I’m always worried about.  Will I always play Annie to her Helen spelling the appropriate activities and goals an into her hands.  What if she never . . . I am still making sure assignments are done, that projects are scheduled in a way she can do them.  I wake her up and tell her when to go to bed. When peers are wondering about summer jobs, Julia is hoping for more LEGO time. I am a broken record! And the worrying does no good.  I am ok day-to-day, it’s just looking down the road that’s tough.

Her drawing assignment was to copy four pieces of art.  Three needed to include faces, one included a body and the last was her choice.  She had no interest in the choosing but was very willing to draw what I chose.  So, I decided she needed to copy three distinct artists and I chose daVinci, Mary Cassatt and Amy Sherald. She  chose the fourth picture, cranes that were part of an email sent by a friend.

These are first portraits after a few weeks of drawing noses and eyes and mouths.  I see potential.  The way she copied the Sherald is interesting, making the head bigger like she does when she draws anime figures.

Julia is still working with Donalee Marcus. The series of packets Julia is finishing up have become relatively easy and are giving way to much harder visual series puzzles.  I need to sit with her to get just a few each day finished. Some are so hard that I can’t figure them out. I am trying to give her a process but what I can suggest is only my wobbly working through. I am not her kind of visual person, I don’t know if she will eventually take in my process or find one of her own although after a week of leading her through, she is quicker at commenting about changes in series.

Donalee’s visual puzzles strength Julia’s brain and help her  with socialization.  Watching Julia last night walking around a possible new school and engaging people in conversation is rather astounding.  She would have never done such a thing a year ago before we began working with Donalee.  Julia’s social bidding doesn’t always make sense and her social filters are almost nil.  Thus, there needs to be a maturing of her skills.  I remember Cheshire walking around an adult party when she was in her 2’s, stopping at each person engaging them verbally.  She seemed to have an inner knowledge of relationship.  Is a similar inner knowledge being awakened in Julia?  We have a lot of work to do to mature that social impulse.  The rate of half truths, exaggerations and sometimes expletives when she is angry has likewise increased.  Filter, filters! I hope we come upon some exercises for that.