Archive for October, 2012


Maintain the Silliness.

Our wedding story isn’t typical. Unless you consider that we had plans, and some of those plans didn’t happen. Then, I guess, it’s a pretty normal wedding day story.

But let me take you back. It was September 1996. Me? I preferred to be at home and let my friends come hang out at my place, but I was feeling restless. I had all these great friends, but I felt like there was some type of connection missing. I didn’t have a “music” friend. I didn’t have that friend that I totally bonded with on music and that had been the case since I’d graduated high school and moved away from home.

All my new friends from college and beyond listened to a bunch of chill type music. Music I despised (Phish and The Grateful Dead? Ick). I mean Dave Matthews Band has its moments, but one can only stand to listen to that for so long before one needs METAL! Until college, I thought everyone felt that way. Apparently not.

So one night in September, I caved into my roommate’s (here after known as Lady) pressuring and went to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Greek Theater on campus. There we met the roommate of Lady’s new co-worker (co-worker is here known as COW and co-worker’s roommate is LCR). I was immediately smitten, but I’m crap at meeting new people. I always feel self-concious and awkward and stupid beyond all belief so I didn’t say much. I probably barely made eye contact. In the end, it turned out he was fairly shy and felt painfully awkward, as well. (could have fooled me, but whatever.)

After the show and after COW had closed Club Red, we headed over to our place (on Betty Jo Drive, because you know that’s where ALL the fun happens!). The only way I can put this is that LCR and I bonded. We sat in front of the stereo and talked music and played song after song. We talked about what music meant to us (His favorite was Nine Inch Nails, but no worries, I forgave him) and we talked about bands and we talked about albums and we talked about lyrics and we talked about shows. AND WE TALKED. Until the sun came up.

Then we proceeded to talk as much as possible every day. This was hard for me because I was working 55 to 60 hours every week and trying to go to college. My talking time was very limited. So I gave up sleeping and eventually school and then decided to marry LCR.

I asked him. At the time, I wore a bunch of silver rings on my fingers. I pulled on off my thumb and asked him. He said yes. So a year and  a month after we met, we got married.

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Kids, really. Just kids.

We were kids. We were broke. We weren’t always sure if there would be food in the fridge. We sold items to make money so we could pay the rent. We got second jobs. Hubs went to work for Wal-Mart’s corporate office. (it was horrible, you should ask him sometime.) (on second thought, don’t ask him. It dredges up bad memories.)

Our wedding was simple. It was small. And it cost $50. I borrowed a shirt from my friend, Raye Donnovan, because I liked it so much. We bought $30 worth of daisies and made a bouquet and various flower arrangements for decoration. We had $20 to pay the JP. Hubs wore clothes he had, and I wore this black, floor length skirt that I was in love with at the time and the borrowed shirt. My mary janes were doodled on with markers. We packed our little town house to the rafters with friends.

My parents and brothers came all the way from IL and my grandparents came all the way from NM. Hubs’ friends from high school drove down from Chi-town and then went with him to kidnap his brothers. As many of our friends as could make it came to celebrate with us.

Everyone was gathered. And we waited. And waited. And waited. The JP never showed. To be fair, it was the University of Arkansas’ homecoming game that day. FOOTBALL WAS HAPPENING PEOPLE! How dare we get married. heh. Anyway.

All was not lost. My dad, being a minister in a past life himself and having married other people, performed the ceremony. So he walked me down the aisle (stairs), gave me away after asking himself who was giving me away, and then read the ceremony. It was amazing.

Wedding Cake

My Grandad took us all to have pizza on Dickson Street and there we ate and ate and had cake, made lovingly by Lady. Hub’s best man, D, gave a toast and food was had by all.

After the adults left, because, HELLO! WE WERE JUST KIDS!!, we had a largish party that was BYO. This party was attended by almost everyone I’d ever met and hung out with in Fayetteville. It was a grand ole’ time and the crossing of all the paths of all the people who didn’t normally hang out together was so amazing. There was no drama. There was just good times and new friends being made.

In fact, two of my most favorite people met that night and they’ve been married for 14 years, now. Pretty cool.

So, now, here we are, 15 years later. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. In fact, I’m looking forward to the next fifteen and the next and the next and on and on into the end of the universe.

Happy anniversary to us, Hubs!

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Chi-nese

6 months old on his Grammie quilt.

Chi started in with words very early. At 8 months he had words for Dad, Mom, Kitty, Ears, Bear, Eat. He picked up new words almost every day, it seemed. Then between 11 and 12 months he started losing language. He stopped using the words he had been accumulating. He still picked up new words and would use them for a few days, a week, two at most. Then he would stop using them. So after about 6 months, he was completely done with English. He spoke only in his own language that only he understood. He wasn’t real concerned with whether anyone understood him, and for such an intense little kid, he was completely unflappable when it came to communication.

He excelled at non-verbal communication and was able to get his intent across. There was no one way he did this and it wasn’t using ASL. He never mimicked. I could never get him to repeat after me so teaching him sign-language was a non-starter.

Blowing bubbles

I took to calling his very own language Chi-nese. (Chi is pronounced like the Greek letter Χ)(It’s my own little inside joke. A play on words. It’s something my husband and I did. We’d take words spelled with C-H-I that are normally pronounced with the /ch/ sound and use the /k/ sound of Chi’s name. So Chicago became CHI-cago. And Lake Michigan became Lake Mi-CHI-gan. You get the picture. We chuckled a little bit every time we came across a new word (Hey, you gotta take the humor where you can find it, folks.))

Around the age of 2 and a half, he started slipping English words into his Chi-nese. I guess it’s because he didn’t use all the letter sounds in his own language, but he was impossible to understand. So when he was five, we took him to a speech pathologist and he met with her once week for more than a year. He’s very well spoken now.

So now, to me, Chi-nese is the little things Chi says that are so him. He sees things differently than most and his observations are pretty cool. A few for your enjoyment.

  • “Mom, the lightening is too loud. I can’t sleep.”
  • (tasting something new) “…It kind of, maybe, doesn’t taste very good to me.”
  • “Oh, look! The moon is reflecting the sun!” (meaning the moon is shining, obviously)
  • “Mom is being sarcastic, Pieces. That’s when she says something but she means something else. She isn’t really glad you spilled your water all over the table.” (He is forever pointing out when someone is “just joking” or “being sarcastic” and then explaining the joke or the sarcasm, even if it is only to himself.)
  • At the DQ drive thru, after I hand him a waffle cone. “A man in 1904 at a fair, ran out of dishes to serve ice cream and folded up a waffle to serve ice cream in. That’s how the waffle cones were invented.” I stare at him a moment. Then I remember that he squirrels away all the tidbits of trivia he comes across. Also? I googled it when I got home. He was right. It was the World’s Fair in St. Louis.
  • Chi is an eleven year old boy. He still wants to hug his mom whenever possible, and if there’s hugging then there’s sniffing because he loves the way I smell. I hope the desire to hug me never ends.
  • Actual conversation while Chi opened his birthday presents a day early:

Hubs: Is that a new Super Mario Bros game?

Chi: Yeah. It’s New Super Mario Bros 2. The first one came out in 2006. It’s kind of like Luigi’s Mansion. A new one is supposed to come out this year or maybe next year. The first one came out in 2001. (He could tell you the release year of every game he plays. True story.)

  • Chi is always truthful. He doesn’t do vagaries. Here is a real conversation from Saturday’s birthday festivities.

Pynni, Pieces, D and Chi heading into Frankies for birthday funtabulousness!

At Red Robin eating lunch, someone across the restaurant has the wait staff chant (read: yell) their birthday song at them.

Me to Chi: You want me to get them to yell at you some?

Chi: **shrugs** I’m kind of used to it because they did it to Brady on his birthday.

Me: So that’s a yes?

Chi: **shrugs** Yeah, I’m kinda used to it now. Yeah. (I, personally, didn’t think he’d tolerate it at all, but he seemed game.)

later Hubs to the waitress kind of to the side: It’s someone’s **gestures in Chi’s general direction** birthday today.

Waitress looking at Chi: Oh? Is it your birthday?

Chi: Well, no. My birthday is Monday, October 22. We are just having it today, though.

Waitress nods and just goes with the flow: Sure, have the fun on the weekend. How old are you?

Chi: I’m 10 now, but I’ll be eleven on Monday.

And so he is. Chi came into our lives at 3:11a eleven years ago today.  We celebrated on Saturday, opened presents on Sunday and have cancelled school for today. We will eat what he wants for lunch and dinner and we will probably launch one of the rockets he got for his birthday. I will hug on his and sniff him and he will do the same to me. Happy birthday, Chi-guy. I’m so happy you’re mine.

The thing about homeschooling is there are so MANY choices. I could choose to go any direction in any subject I want. I new from the beginning that Unschooling would not work for us. It is too unstructured. I seek structure and life with Chi requires structure. I, originally, wanted to do Classical Education with my kids and read the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer and Jessie Bauer. It was very informative and helpful in choosing what curricula I started out using with my kids.

Well, as it turns out, Classical Education is FINE in THEORY, but not so much in implementation in my household. Memorizing everything under the sun works for Chi and Pieces (Pieces is practically a memorization prodigy, and I thought Chi was amazing at memorization), but Pynni HATE-HATE-HATE-HATES it. So it’s not working for her. As you know, if you’ve read anything of my blog in the past, not much I started out using worked for Pynni at all. I’ve changed things around for Chi, too, but not as much as I have for Pynni.

Now we’d started out using Saxon Math, Pynni and I. It is very dense, very comprehensive, very expensive, VERY BORING. At least if one is Pynni Pi, which she is. I realized a few months in to school last year, that even I dreaded the opening of that tome of mathematics. So I went to the Homeschool Gathering Place to research and ask questions. I came away with Life of Fred: Apples. I was excited. Literary math! Who knew?

Pynni has loved it. Me? Not so much. I remain unconvinced that she is getting everything out of the reading that is expected of her. There are many large concepts she just isn’t getting. I keep having to break out other mathematics resources to fill in, what feels like, giant gaps in her knowledge and understanding. That isn’t working for me. If we switch away from Fred, Pynni will be very upset with me.

For now, I’m working with Critical Thinking math workbooks and using the Math-U-See curriculum (which is what I’m using with the boys) to fill in the blanks, but it feels like a lot of extra work, when just switching to Math-U-See would work just as well all on it’s own. Or maybe I should switch to a whole other math curriculum? Singapore Math has all the pictures and color that Pynni could want, like the Critical Thinking books, but it comes with instructional material. ugh.

So the evolution of my homeschool continues.

I’ve occasionally looked around to find a “schooling” philosophy to follow, but I’ve decided to have my own philosophy and teach my kids the way that works. I’ve met many families who homeschool through various functions and get-togethers and I’ve discovered that really, no two home schools are alike. Which is fitting, really, when you consider how different each individual child is and how amazing home school can be at catering to the individual. I know it’s why we chose to homeschool, and why we will continue to do so.