Friday, November 11, 2011

Introducing the Ryan Clan......

Chari still has two children left to write about, but in the meantime I will slip in a quick introduction of my own clan.

The whole family (I'm the one taking the picture)
So, what should I say about my family? Since there are nine of us, anything I write will end up long, but Chari and I thought we would go ahead and introduce our casts of characters so that if you get mixed up by all the names in future, you can go back and look it up. Don't worry, there won't be a test on this!

My family is an eclectic mix of Scottish, Irish, Dutch and Danish, in about that order. My maternal grandparents were both immigrants from Scotland to Quebec, Canada. My husband Kevin’s paternal grandparents were both Irish, though not quite so recently off the boat as mine. Our children can definitely call themselves Gaelic without too much stretching of the truth, and temperamentally they are quite Celtic, too.

Me and Paddy

We have seven living children (we lost twin boys halfway to term, and another one early in our marriage). They range in age from almost 9 up to 25. Several of my kids are decided introverts -- thinkers, imaginative, intense and reserved, but with a strong sense of humor. The other ones have grown up in such an introvert family culture, with two parents who value quiet and peace, that they think they are that way too, even when they aren’t : ). Oh yes, and six of them are boys, which leaves the role of princess to my only daughter.

My oldest son, Liam Mayo, (middle name is a family name from Kevin's side) was born two days before our first wedding anniversary.  He's 25 now, which means his dad and I have been married for 26 years.

He was a quiet, grave, thoughtful baby, always looking at the sky. His first sight of a full moon at age 15 months filled him with awe, and I could keep him amused for several minutes by letting him yank the pull chain of our attic light to turn the light off and on.

Sean, Liam and Kieron

He grew up to be a quiet, thoughtful young man. He went to Thomas Aquinas College (his first choice and the only college he seriously applied to). He graduated in 2009 and has been working as a computer game programmer, first in his father’s home business, later for a small company in Oregon, where he lives now. For fun he reads and writes science fiction, composes music, and plays the classical guitar, as well as plays video games with his brothers and sometimes, concocts recipes in the kitchen.

Brendan, Sean and Liam at the University of Oregon game

My second, Brendan Calder, (his middle name is a family name from my side) was quite different from his brother. He was one of those kids who gets fascinated with a topic and embarks on immersion learning about them. As a child he probably also had some sensory integration issues, though these were not regularly diagnosed back then. It made him ultra-sensitive to noises and textures and tastes and any changes in his routine. In preschool he taught himself to count to 1000 by looking at the page numbering of a huge Chronicle of the 20th Century that we had around the house. He loved learning about volcanoes, space shuttles, reptiles, and insects in turn. He was one of the reasons I started homeschooling, because he was so obviously marching to a different drummer, and he was one of the reasons I dropped a standard workbook curriculum and moved more towards “real books” and learning units.

In high school he wrote a complete novel and devoured every book in our library system about the giant sequoia and other local trees. Homeschooling helped resolve many of his sensory difficulties naturally, and the others he has learned to cope with. He is now attending community college and plans to transfer into a four-year university.

Liam, Kieron, Kevin (dad), Brendan, and Sean

Next is my only daughter, Clare Francis. She and Brendan were 20 months apart in age and grew up almost like twins. Sometimes it seemed like they lived in a rich imaginary world of their own and only came out once in a while to take a deep breath (or get a snack, though often the snacks were incorporated into their imaginary games too). Clare was very inventive and always had some project going on, whether founding and peopling an orphanage using her little toy animals as inhabitants, or starting a newspaper (to which her brothers contributed or else wrote their own).

Clare and Brendan with a non-imaginary friend!

As she got older she asked to be involved in more outside-home activities than her brothers had wanted, and she took English riding and Irish dancing lessons, learned to be somewhat comfortable with a piano, guitar and violin, got involved in an American Girls club and a Little Flowers club, sang in the church choir, and got quite good at sewing her own dresses using my old Kenmore.

Clare and Paddy

Clare is now in her junior year at Thomas Aquinas College where she is thriving. She runs a couple of blogs in her spare time. I hope I can get her to contribute occasionally to this blog.

Sean Timothy is the next child. He was the first one in our family to get involved seriously, as opposed to just for fun, in team sports and quickly showed real athletic talent. His favorite sport is football (I remember my brother telling me with bemusement, “Sean just asked me what my 16th favorite football team is!”). Since California has no provision for varsity athletics for homeschoolers, Sean chose to go to public school for his freshman and sophomore year. In his junior year he did home study for a term and now is in Oregon for his senior year of high school.

Sean and Clare

Kieron Thomas, my 5th child, is good-natured and very quick to learn. Especially now that the older ones are gone, I am often asking him to help out, figure out, or find something around the house because he is almost always pleased to be asked and is very good about getting results. He is homeschooling using our own homemade curriculum which we tweak according to the individual child. He is in his second year of high school this year. He seems headed towards following in the footsteps of his Dad and brother Liam and becoming a computer programmer, though at this point he wants to keep his options open.

Kieron, Clare and Liam

Aidan Michael, our 6th, surprised us by being born very ill -- in fact in almost complete liver failure -- and needing an organ transplant before he was four months old. His story is here. He had a stroke in the early, difficult days after his transplant, so he is moderately cognitively delayed. He is 12 now and learning to read a little. He loves to write funny stories about the adventures of our coolers (I help him with spelling and sometimes he dictates the stories to me to type). He is a natural poet and loves to make up jingles and interesting phrases. He is also a natural planner and organizer who always knows what is going on that day and what to do to prepare for it.

Sean and Aidan

For several years after the Ryans met the Bryans, there were six in each family  The Six Bryans and Six Ryans!  But then, our youngest, Patrick Gabriel. came along.

Paddy had the same birth condition as Aidan. More about that here. My pregnancy with him was an anxious one and a journey of faith, but God blessed us greatly with our little one, who is named after the angel of the Annunciation. His due date was Christmas Eve but he was induced 3 weeks early due to fetal distress. He is now almost 9. He was my only child to learn to read before I taught him -- at age 3 he was picking out words and soon after that he was reading on his own. Recent favorite reads have been Alice in Wonderland, Five Children and It, Pinocchio, and the Narnia Chronicles.   His all time childhood favorites so far are probably Winnie the Pooh and the Green Forest stories of Thornton Burgess. 

Aidan and Paddy
So there you have the basics. Of course, if I wrote everything there was to write, it would take a book!  

Our family patron is St Therese the Little Flower.
Of course, we have lots of saints we love, but she was our particular friend during Aidan's illness. I was born on her feast day in the traditional calendar (October 3), and Aidan had his transplant on her new feast day, October 1. Clare chose her name for her confirmation name. St Therese is also the patroness of our diocese.

Other family favorites are St John the Evangelist, St Francis of Assisi, St Dominic Savio, St Michael the Archangel, St Francis de Sales, St John Bosco, St Anthony of Padua, Blessed John Henry Newman, St Thomas Aquinas, and the list, of course, could go on and on, as we are always finding new friends and connections among the "cloud of witnesses"!


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