Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Cal's got a YouTube channel now! After all, what self-styled gamer would be without a YouTube channel? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0t9uNT-tfgzw6RBxy3lY4g It's mostly video capture from the Isle, his favorite dinosaur game on Steam, which he and I have worked together to edit into little stories and make more dramatic by adding soundtrack music. But he's also been teaching himself to use Source Filmmaker, an animation program that's available for free on Steam, and today he posted a teaser for his first animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm5UFffk4Wc It's really exciting for Janet and me on so many levels; last year Cal started a Minecraft mod class online, but he quickly lost interest in it. I think he was just too young to really sink his teeth into it and be persistent. But now, with SFM, he's really driven. Last week he literally had no idea how to use this software, and he has been digging into it with such intensity (no patience for tutorials, much like his parents), learning by trial and error and making real progress ... to see him focus and be able to work like this (and a lot of his work can be actually independent because of the way the software works), to be creative and see his ideas come back at him ... from one day to the next has been fascinating to watch, between his excitement at making any progress at all on the first day, to his disappointment on the second day when he scrapped a bunch of work he didn't like, to rebounding on the third day, and just his overall absorption in the process. Constant exposure to FNAF, its creepy and ever-expanding world of imitations, and its auto-tuned-to-hell-and-back soundtrack, are all a small price to pay to see Cal so creatively engaged and so fulfilled. Otherwise, since last update, things have honestly been pretty good. The "magic rod" extensions have continued to go off without a hitch. He is huge now: 54" long and 62 pounds. School has been great overall. His grades are really good, he has really blossomed socially and he gets along so well with the kids in his class. He has a best friend now, Allyn, who comes over to the house to game with him on his computer. There are even two really good music teachers who have worked to make their classes as inclusive as possible for him. The flexibility and support we've had from Cal's elementary school has been awesome, and we've needed it, because we did have about 3 and a half months, from February to mid-May, where Cal was not able to get to school at all. He had outgrown the back support of his power chair, so it literally hurt him to be in the power chair for longer than 10 minutes. It took an age for the various bureaucracies to get into gear to approve and requisition a replacement, and in the meantime we just did all Cal's classwork at home. This actually turned out to have a significant upside, because we all got really involved in his education even more than we ever had before, and it was mostly really fun. We read so many great books together this Winter and Spring, both those we chose ( The Shadow Dragons by James Owen, The Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen), and the required reading in his 4th grade curriculum. Janet and I also think that being out of school in the winter was probably a big factor in him passing the season without a single cold. It's impossible to convey what a gift that was.