Tag Archive: parenting


We’re coming on fast to the end of our first school year as Lamp Post Academy. It has been an exceedingly interesting and rewarding year. We’ve learned a lot, but I think I may have learned more than anyone.

What I learned (in no particular order):

  • I am strong. I can be brought low with depression but I will still do what I have to for my kids. My kids are my saving grace.
  • I am changeable. There are things I have always enjoyed changing, but none of them are related to my schedule or my plans for the future, however mundane. With homeschooling, changeability equals strength. If something isn’t working for one of my kids, I CAN CHANGE IT. I don’t have to try and cram their pretty, smooth edges into a tiny square hole. No sanding necessary. That “something” doesn’t even have to be curricula based, but it can simply be the order in which we do things or the length of time spent doing one particular thing.
  • I can be patient. Patience is not a virtue that inhabits my person. I do not exude patience. I am not the person you would expect to be this patient paragon of a parent. Mainly because I’m not. I have learned through parenting that I CAN be patient, but I’ve learned through teaching that patience reaps high rewards and is, of itself, one of the best tools I have at my disposal. Sure, it’s a tool that I had to dig out of the back of the garage underneath the unused bicycles and the empty snake terrarium, but I did find it. And, I’m putting it to good use, honing it to a fine edge.
  • Pynni was very broken. Her self-esteem and confidence were destroyed after Kindergarten. I helped rebuild that, but mostly she had to do the work herself. I encouraged, and practiced my patience while she learned to trust me and trust herself.
  • It took a fabulous teacher over half a school year to put Chi back on track after 2nd grade, but even with that he flapped and squeaked and beat on things. He slammed himself around until you’d think he’d be covered in bruises. He will never be neuro-typical, thank God, but he is himself. He is not ruled by his Asperger’s anymore. He makes better decisions about how he acts, and they are actually becoming his own decisions and not a reaction he can’t control. Sure, he has his moments. Sure, he melts down occasionally, but he is so present and a part of what’s going on around him, I will not ever doubt my decision to teach him myself. Best. Decision. Ever.

Homeschooling has brought many things forward that I may not ever have known I was missing. My favorites are (in no particular order):

  • We learn in which ever way we want. We do math practice on iPad apps, or on the white board, or on paper, or on computer programs, or on little chalk boards, or writing in sand. WHATEVER. We read and read and read and it’s not a chore. We learn about spelling and tornadoes and bees and molecules and ancient Egypt ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The kids have started asking questions about the things around them and we look those things up. We watch documentaries and youtube videos and search the library and even wikipedia.
  • We don’t get bored. Done doing one type of thing? Let’s do something else, then.
  • The kids are growing closer. Yes, that’s right. They are bonding tighter and loving being together. They get along great. It is so awesome to see Chi, who’s five and half years older, and Pieces really get to know one another. I love seeing them spend so much time together. Pieces is learning from Chi and Chi is loving that.
  • I LOVE having my kids home. I thought I’d struggle with getting tired of them and irritated. I thought I’d crave alone time and quiet. While I still value quiet (no cable helps with that A LOT), I can not get enough of being with my kids. We talk more than we ever did and we interact in ways we never have. I look forward to the day with them. It has surprised me that I don’t look forward to bedtime every evening. Most days bedtime is suddenly upon us and I wonder how that happened.

So yeah. School at home has been fun. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, I wonder how we are going to keep it up, but then Pynni asks if we can learn about butterflies and Chi wants to know more about computers and off we go.

Speaking of. I’m gonna go microwave some soap!

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Yar! Chi's Jack

My Three Bandits. Out to take your SUGAR!

We carved our pumpkins too early and they rotted in a most dramatic fashion on the front porch steps. Gross!

Our costumes were ready in time (read: not last minute), which isn’t in the buckets of fail per se,

Pie's Pumpkin

but it causes little kids to beg to dress up and trickertreat NOW even though Halloween is a couple of days away. It also results in being dressed for trickertreating much earlier than strictly necessary.

My kids were costumed and ready to rock an HOUR before we were scheduled to trickertreat, right around the time it started to rain while the temperature dipped into the lower fifties/upper forties.

Pieces Jolly Jack: A self portrait

They had to be de-costumed so they could consume some nourishment and then re-costumed after that.

Then we had to decide: Do we trickertreat in spite of the weather? Do we not trickertreat? Do we go to the mall and trickertreat inside?

We go to the mall and trickertreat inside! Brill! I bet everyone and their damn dog will be there and how fun is that? To cram shoulder to shoulder and chest to back with a bunch of pushy, self-ish strangers?  we’re the only people to think of that! I bet we’ll make out like successful bandits!

Piece-E

(Maybe I should have crossed out that last part, instead.)

Yeah, so the mall was more packed than I’ve EVER seen it. There were lines of cars just to get into the parking lot and people cruising the isles for a spot, any spot. Then the nightmare of the interior of that place is hard to relive. 7 billion people indeed. INDEED!

Fancy Nancy Pynni Pie

So after an hour of trudging through the masses and getting like 5 pieces of candy and lots of pushing,we returned home. Sad. Things were not looking up for the my children and their quest for the yearly harvesting of large quantities of sugar in all its glorious forms.

We, the parents, decided that this was not to be born and decided to do some trudging in the rain along the

Chi was Mac from SSX. When asked he said, "I'm Mac from SSX. It is a video game that is coming out for the PS3 in January 2012. All other SSX's were on the PS2!

sidewalks of our little neighborhood the usually turns out en masse for this yearly harvesting. And do you know what? There were quite a few people trickertreating, too and more people that I thought were handing out candy and the two coolest Halloween houses were all decked out and battery powered and SPOOOOOOOKY. Pieces

Hubs made the snowboard. Chi chose a Pokemon and Hubs freehanded the drawing. We wrapped it in plastic because its made of paper which isn't really waterproof.

was convinced the ghosts and the witch that fly through the air all around their house were real.

In the end, we trickertreated with friends from the neighborhood, hit a few houses, got soaked and cold, and harvested a decent amount of shaped sugar. The kids? Well, you couldn’t tell by the way they acted that there was anything amiss with the weather. Hubs? He was sopping wet and cold. Me? I hung out under the umbrella so that I didn’t go into anaphylactic  shock (I’m allergic to the cold! Sheesh.) Still, I was itchy, but I made a good holder-of-parts-of-costumes-the-kids-were-tired-of-wearing.

I like that the kids had fun anyway. I want to be more like that.

Post Trickertreating GORGE!

Chi in motion.

Ten years ago, I birthed a baby boy. He was a difficult baby, if exceptionally cute. He seemed very unhappy with his lot. He cried a lot. When he wasn’t crying he was staring out at the world through giant blue eyes that grabbed your attention and held it. At about three weeks old, he started crying every evening for hours on end. Most people told me this was colic or gas, but I didn’t buy that then and I don’t buy it now. I discovered, by sheer force of intuition, that his crying was less severe and lasted for a shorter period of time if I turned out almost all the lights, and made my apartment as silent as possible after the dinner-time feeding. I also learned that keeping his day dim and quiet helped with the nighttime crying jags.

As he got older and he developed far beyond his age, for the most part, (commando crawling by 4.5 months, pulling up by 5 months, cruising by 6 and walking by 9), he got happier. The more he was able to move the more smiles wreathed his face. When he started cruising, he would circle the room over and over and over again. Once he started walking, he always walked on his toes and would run as fast as he could. This began the day after he took his first steps out into the room. When he became more proficient at both walking and running, he would slam into things on purpose and spin and spin and spin without getting dizzy.

As he began his tactile and oral explorations, I noticed that he never touched anything with his hands first. He always touched things with his feet, played with things with his feet. I have record of this phenomenon as early as 10 weeks old.

As he got older, instead of falling less, he fell more. He would fall right out of chair at the dinner table even when sitting directly on his behind. His movement grew more, not less, awkward with time and maturation.

Whenever we would go out, he would fall into screaming fits for no reason that I could see. He wasn’t worried about not getting something he wanted, he just seemed extremely distressed. If the schedule was off by the barest fraction of a minute, he would fall apart. If something was a surprise, if plans changed last minute, if a playground wasn’t exactly as he’d expected, he would melt into a limp little ball of Chi. (This still happens today, by the way.) He isn’t a spoiled brat. He knows that no means no and I don’t do negotiations. Still, these things happen.

**note: If you see one of those parents with the screaming kid who seems much to old to be throwing a temper tantrum, consider for a moment that they may have an autistic child, or simply a child with SPD or ADhD that cannot process the sheer sensory overload that occurs at places like grocery stores and the mall**

Once he started public school things seemed to progress in a backward sort of direction almost immediately. He became uncontrollable and completely over-stimulated at all times. I had not had him assessed before public school, because I had, somehow, always figured out how to best deal with him without professional help, but school introduced a whole lot of outside influences that I had no way to control.

Fast-forward to this year. (You can read about our struggles through public school elsewhere on this blog just look under Educational Experiences in the Categories section. I’ve pretty well documented things since he was in the second grade (when things when from awful to untenable).) We started homeschooling and we’ve had our bumps along the way, but one thing stands out as a bright shiny beacon of AWESOME. Chi is better.

Chi is flourishing. He’s not cured, if there is such a thing, if I would even seek it out if there were, but he loves homeschool. He looks forward to it. He pays attention, in his way, and does the work and cooperates. We’ve been slowly working toward him doing more and more of the work himself without me having to walk him through everything, and he hasn’t balked at being asked to write more and more of the answers himself.

He is calmer. He can still meltdown unexpectedly, but it is very far between right now. We keep a schedule still and we stick to it. He knows what to expect and can even deal with things he’s not that excited about without much issue. The only time in the last few months that we’ve had major issues has been when I’ve taken him to the grocery store (or Target or mall). I’ve learned that avoiding those places unless absolutely necessary when Chi is with me is really the best course of action. It makes everyone’s lives a little bit easier.

I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to know that I made a good decision so far as Chi is concerned. I’m so glad that the investment we’ve put  into homeschool  is paying off in such big dividends. It’s priceless, really.

102201

A decade ago I was a little over a month away from birthing my first child. I sat, stunned, grief-stricken, and appalled at what was wrought that morning in the span of almost two hours.

I suddenly couldn’t imagine bringing my baby into a world where there was that kind of hate. The kind of hate that could demand the lives of so many people who had done nothing to the perpetrators of that most heinous crime. The kind of hate that, I knew, was going to breed a like kind of hate from my countrymen. A kind of hate that demanded blood for blood.

Why, I wondered, couldn’t we see the never ending cycle we would be falling into if we answered an awful act of violence with more violence? Turns out? Questioning the retaliatory violence was not a popular stance. I was a quiet voice in a storm of yells screaming for blood. It didn’t take long for it to be scary to put voice to dissent.

As someone who has always paid attention, as someone who has always cared way too much, it was difficult for me to move forward while seeing the giant steps the government was taking as giant, unfathomable mistakes. I had to turn away from the world and the news at a time when many, who’d not been paying attention before were suddenly riveted to their screens. I had to focus on my unborn baby, on me.

On 10/22/2001, I discovered what a healing event child birth can be. I discovered that it wasn’t about what the world was like, but how I taught my child to see that world. What September Eleventh taught me was that ignorance breeds fear and people who fear lash out in anger, and once you fall into that cycle of fear and anger, it’s hard to get out of it. What I learned was that if we had even a moderate amount of acceptance of the differences prevalent in the human race, we might live in a peaceful world. I realize that these things are very idealistic and that reality tends to be much starker, much darker. But here I am, 10 years and three kids later, and still I know, deep in my bones, that accepting one another and respecting our differences much hatred and anger would be eliminated from the world.

I hope that one day my kids will be my pebbles in the still waters of the future and create ripples and eventually waves toward a better, brighter tomorrow.

Chi Cure

Cousins

DJ and Mae are with us for the summer. They are the son and daughter of one of my two brothers, Doodle, and near in age to Chi with DJ and Chi being a year older than Mae. They come to stay with their dad during the summers and I’m lucky enough to get to keep them during the days while Doodle works.

Chi on the left

DJ is five weeks chronologically older than Chi, but he is decades older in maturation. DJ is one of those kids that was born middle-aged, and that is not to say that he can’t be silly and have fun because, lordy, that child has a wicked sense of humor. It just means that he is mind-bogglingly responsible and has insight that blows my socks off.

COOOOOKEEEEEES

This may not come as a surprise, but Chi has difficulties with daily things that most folks find just ho-hum. Most kids find his inability to cope and/or function to be strange at best and his little quirks that indicate that he is dealing and/or stimming flat out weird. He never really seemed to care until some time during the second half of second grade and even that was more acknowledgement that he was different without any real understanding as to why he was ostracized or what he was supposed to feel or do about it.

Mae, Abby, Chi and DJ

The one shining exception to this rule about other kids is DJ. DJ and Chi have always been close and DJ has never judged Chi as weird or strange. He seems to understand that Chi is Chi and will even say, “Aunt Beonin, he’s just being Chi” or “He’s just doing Chi things” when Chi has some sort of out of proportion reaction to something.

SUPER DJ!

DJ never loses his temper with Chi. When Chi loses his cool, DJ is there to talk him down. When Chi has a complete shutdown, DJ is able to get Chi out of where ever it is he goes. I have learned to ignore Chi’s reactions, when applicable, and DJ will take over and smooth things out.

On the stool at Grammie’s house

EXAMPLE: Chi and DJ were playing Starcraft 2 on the computers upstairs when it was time to go to the grocery store. I told those who were playing games to turn off their systems and told everyone to get their shoes on and go potty. Chi became floppy. He does not like the grocery store much and he really doesn’t like the store when he’s doing something he enjoys as much as video games with DJ. He REALLY doesn’t like the store when I spring it on him with no prior warning. (Yay, me!)

Fun on the water

So he’s the last one out the door and he practically lays in the seat instead of sitting. DJ just carries on a conversation with Chi as if there is nothing going on. As if Chi isn’t flopping and moaning and squeaking and twitching. When we get to the store, DJ grabs Pieces’ hand and Mae grabs Pynni’s and I forcibly push Chi into the store. I get the big cart that’s shaped like a car for Pynni and Pieces (two less to keep up with, right?) and admonish the older kids to keep up. Chi trails behind. Far behind.

(I’ve come to a point in this journey (the whole entire childhood one with Chi) that I don’t even react to the lagging behind. He never lets me get too far away.)

Goofiness

DJ says, “Aunt Beo, I’ll walk back here with Chi to make sure he doesn’t get lost.” I smile at him and

Best Buds

thank him. We get through the produce and past the deli. As we round the corner into the meat section, I hear a peal of laughter. I look behind me and there is DJ with his arm around Chi, cracking Chi up. There was no issue after that.

No, it’s not that Chi’s issues cease to be when DJ is here, but I am ever amazed at what DJ is able to accomplish with Chi. They are complements of one another and DJ loves Chi, Chi-isms and all.

Well, we are in the home stretch. School for my elementary kids ends on June 10. (Pieces’ last day of school was last Thursday) We’ve successfully navigated this year and it was a hard row to hoe, but every obstacle brings a learning experience and I can only hope that I’ve learned…something. Patience? One can hope.

Chi finished the EOG’s and was none the worse for wear. AND HE PASSED!  He got 3 out of a possible 4 on the reading and combined math tests with 2 requiring a retest and 1 meaning “sorry there is no hope for you”. So, yay! He has, since, struggled with the changes in his daily schedule because, well, it’s the end of the year and there’s retesting for those who got a 2 which puts all the kids who passed in different classrooms where they have to be quiet. (and in case you forgot? Chi is almost NEVER quite, during sleep included.) Still. It’s close to the end and I can’t help but breathe a giant sigh of relief.

Both of my kids have moved on to the next level. I will be teaching it to them. I’ve discovered that it’s possible to be so excited about something you can’t sit still and paralyzed with a sick fear of making the wrong decision all at the same time.

**Disclaimer**  I didn’t sleep much last night so I expect major leeway in what actually gets put into this post.

**side note**  Other than minimal brain function, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I have to say.

Dimple

I had an email from Chi’s teacher Wednesday morning, early. (I don’t usually check my email before I take the kids to school because that can take more time than I have to give and we might end up being late. You know how it is.) I checked my email for reasons unknown and came across one from Mrs. Eff requesting an emergency conference and an immediate call back, which I did. We scheduled the conference for later in the day and I did a short scramble to find childcare for Pieces.

I get to the school and the conference isn’t just with Miz Eff, but also, with the PrinciPAL, Ms. A and a woman I know but have no clue what her job title is. We’ll call her EOG Admin (EOGA for short), as that seemed to be her duties in this meeting. (Ms. A is the 504 coordinator). There were some concerns that there was no way to meet all of Chi’s requirements for testing as laid out in his 504. I had talked a little about some of this with Miz Eff in March but I thought things were settled.

Here’s the score:

Chi’s 504 has some pretty specific requirements for him while taking the EOG. Things to help him cope better with a process that is likely to be very difficult for him to adjust to because it changes everything he knows to expect in school for three days only, but three crucial days. These things are (and I’m gonna use bullet points, YAY!) (in no particular order):

  • He is able to write in his test book. Meaning that he doesn’t have to fill in little circles. For a kid who hates writing and coloring, that would be tedious at best. Also, he couldn’t stay in the lines to save his own life. And that’s a fact.
  • He is to be in a group of kids of no more than 10 and no fewer than three (including himself). He does not do well at all when he is the center of any kind of attention. He does not perform. He will shut down. That is a fact. Also, if there are too many kids things get too busy and too distracting. Not good. Additionally, Chi is noisy. He is almost constantly making noise. When he is in a good mood and doing his work, they are little and quiet: hums and chirps and little squeaks, but when he is shutting down and having a bad day, they escalate in decibel level and intensity/frequency, etc. This is not a quiet kid. If he were to be too much of a distraction for the class, a mistest could be called and the whole class would have to be retested. Yeah. So not good. (oh, by the way? These noises are not something he does consciously. Yes, sometimes they are, but for the most part he has no control over them. For the record? Bringing them to his attention to makes matters worse.)
  • He is to get as many breaks as he needs, whenever he needs. Chi is remarkable at focus. When he is enjoying himself. When he is uninterested he can take a task that should take 5 minutes and stretch into hours and hours of flopping and moaning or just diving into his inner world. Plus, he has movement needs.
  • He is to wear his headphones. He has noise canceling headphones. They eliminate white noise, and most extraneous ambient and distracting noises and allow him to hear the teacher or those talking directly to him. It is like a miracle drug for his ability to cope.
  • He is to be allowed as much extra time to complete the tests as he needs. Because his focus can wander and he can have shutdowns and he may need breaks as often as every 15 or 20 minutes, he will need extra time to complete his exams.

Well, I found out in March that there was no group that met all of his requirements, which meant that he would be alone with two teachers (the proctor and the administrator)(talk about center of attention, sheesh). There was one, however, that met most if Chi could have the test read to him (just the Math portions, not the Reading portions). Since the kids have been practicing taking the EOG in class and those practice exams have been read to them problem by problem, Miz Eff thought this might be a good fit for him. After some discussion, I agreed.

Yesterday they tell me that the group that meets all the other requirements has only one other kid in it. This is a problem if that kid is sick because that would leave Chi all alone, which is why the 504 stipulates no fewer than three kids. I was told that, really, Chi could write in the test book and wear his headphones in any group, so those aren’t deal breakers, but there was no one group that fit all of the other stipulations. So we set about deciding what was most important.

There was a group that fit everything, but the breaks were scheduled every 20 minutes. Miz Eff worried that with Chi being such a proficient reader such a rigid schedule would interfere with any groove he may get into with reading and answering the subsequent questions. So I pointed out the most important parts: he will need breaks and he cannot be alone. I, then, pointed out that while I found Miz Eff’s concerns valid, that Chi does really well with a rigid schedule and that the best solution would be to tell him what that schedule was going to be and let him know what time the timer started and what time it was set to go off. I think he would do fine with that. If every thing else was met in that scenario, then things should be set to run a smooth as possible for him.

PrinciPAL was worried that if Chi was sick that he would have to make up that testing day in a one on two scenario and I assured her that, if that were to be the case, then we could deal with that when it happened. It would be hard, but I think with the right prep, he would be semi-okay. Miz Eff then asked if she could be the one to administer any make up testing and was assured that, indeed, she could. That’ll make a big difference if that is a necessary thing.

EOGA was concerned that Chi was going to be uncomfortable with his testing administrator and has been pairing him for the last couple of weeks with a woman, Ms. Title 1 to be exact, who sees Chi at no other point. Thus eliminating any stress of feeling like he’s being judged by any of his academic authority figures, but still putting him with someone familiar.

So now, I come to it. I sat in this conference room, with these Education Professionals and boggled at how thoughtful and caring they were about this one student. These women have fought for Chi along side me. There has been no fighting, no head butting, nothing but cooperation and compassion. They truly care. They see the exceptional kid before them and not his issues. They want to help him.

Things have been far from perfect this year for Pynni and Chi has had his struggles, too, but in the end these people are trying, and in the case of Miz Eff going so far beyond that it takes my breath away. I sat in this room with these people, strangers really, who were fighting for Chi, and found myself, not questioning whether or not I should homeschool, but lamenting that they wouldn’t be in my children’s lives anymore. Homeschooling still solves so many problems that we will face in the future.

But I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the adults they’ve had in their lives thus far. I can say that I’m grateful. I can say that I appreciate what they’ve done; what they do.

When I left, they, each one, told me how amazed they were with my quick response and willingness to come in to meet with them so last minute. That still, flabbergasts me. Who wouldn’t, I think, this is for my son, how could I not?

Large Feelings

If I had been told, prior to having children, how difficult, how wrenching it would be, and I took those words to heart, I would never have become a mother.

If I had known then, how hard it was to raise a truly unique individual, one who doesn’t meet anyone’s definition of normal (yeah, yeah, I know that whole “what is normal anyway?” crap, but until you’ve met or loved or dealt with a person on the spectrum, you truly have no idea (I put myself in that category, I assure you)), I would have shied away from starting a family that included more than furry children. If I had known how whole my heart had been before it had been touched with children, and how it would tear into little pieces every time one of them hurts, I would have insisted on more birth control. If I had even an inkling of how children in my life was going to completely throw me into an identity crisis that could have killed me; had I known beforehand that I would struggle with the face staring at me in the mirror for years after the birth of my son; had I been able to divine the future and see that I would give up my dreams of continuing education indefinitely for children; I mostly likely would have run screaming in the opposite direction of parenthood.

Had I known the ramifications of unprotected sex, truly understood them, I would have clamped my knees together and demanded a damned chastity belt.

But then.

I would never have experienced how large my heart could grow to accommodate these children. I would never have seen my husband hold his babies in his arms and feel my love for him grow exponentially with each one. I would never have completely fallen apart at the thought of losing one of my kids and then found the iron core within myself to fight for their happiness. I would never have heard their little voices laughing with the sheer, unadulterated joy of life and breathing. I would never have gotten to view the world through the eyes of a child as an adult. I would never have looked into the clear eyes of my children and seen the purest, truest kind of love shining back at me.

I would never have known what it is to be someone’s parent and not their best friend.

I would never have been able to embrace the ways in which my parents’ raised me. I would not be able to look back at things I’d considered unfair or uncaring at the time they happened and see the love of my parents blazing out at me. I would never have experienced the bliss that I feel whenever my kids run and hug on my parents.

I would never be able to look my mom in the eye and tell her that I know. I know and I love her and I’m grateful.

Being a parent is hard. There are no words that can hold the amount of effort, the amount of pain, the amount of fear, the amount of irritation, the amount of lost sleep that being a parent contains.

But there is so much that makes it the best experience of my life.

Not the least of which is the end of I and the beginning of we.

Tornado Over Raleigh 04/16/2011

On April 16th, our neighborhood was spared the devastation of some 62 tornadoes that touched down in our area. We live in a place were tornadoes are few and far between (although I come from a state that is used to such things) and this is the first time in the 9 years we’ve lived here that we’ve had to duck and cover (hurricanes? Yes, we’ve had those, but no tornadoes).

Cloudy with a chance of FREAKING OUT!

Digression: On March 4 2010, we watched a movie that has become infamous in our household: “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This was at the very beginning of what became an epic regression for Chi and a complete shutdown at school that resulted in him missing a bunch of school so he could get his work done at home. This also marks the beginning of Chi’s anxiety with the weather. And the news.

We cannot watch the weather or the news with Chi in the house. He seems to have some sort of sixth sense (although with him it might be an eighth sense) when it comes to informational TV that may, or may not, contain questionable material. He can’t seem to file this type of information away. It eats at his sense of security and erodes his self-control to the point of anxiety attacks and fetal positions.

We cannot even talk about the weather. Yeah. It’s that bad. (end digression)

SO

A half mile from our neighborhood.

We do not have cable or satellite TV (couldn’t keep track of the weather that way anyhow, now could we?) so we get our weather information from the internet. We knew that the weather that Saturday was supposed to be sketchy at best so we maintained “constant vigilance” (think Mad-eye Moody).

It was grey and overcast all day with the temperature dropping and the wind whipping to and fro all day. Those grey clouds spit rain on occasion, but other than the clouds tracking across the sky at a fast pace, there seemed no real cause for concern. There were tornado watches all day (which normally means nothing around here), but at

No one was hurt.

around 330p things started getting a little hairy with warnings popping up southwest of the city.

As the warnings moved closer, we heard that the system was moving through the area at an astonishing 75 mph. Trying to be as nonchalant at possible I requested that my three kids and my niece, who had spent the night, gather their pillows and favorite stuffed friends and bring them downstairs “just in case.”

At around 355p a warning was issued for our area and I, again as calmly as possible, asked them to gather their items and head into the half bath off the kitchen. I gathered my phone and

This really doesn't do the extent of the damage justice.

laptop and a cat (Hubs gathered the other cat and Doodle’s “not a dog”) and headed into the bathroom with the kids. I shut the door and headed back into the kitchen to get a flashlight and urge my brother to come in off the porch “for godsake!” and then shut myself in with the kids.

The girls were singing and Pieces was having a grand ole time. Chi, on the other hand, was falling a part. He was vibrating so hard I thought he might come apart at the seams, and his eyes were gigantic. Not only that, but his pupils were obliterating any blue whatsoever. He was talking really loudly and just generally freaking out. It was starting to effect Abshie and Pynni (Pieces being oblivious and rather finding the camping in the bathroom to be a right jolly experience. Quite a fantastic idea, if he did say so himself).

Not actually Chi.


I knew I had to get Chi under control if I was to keep everyone else calm. So I pressed my hands down on his shoulders (a deep pressure technique to help calm him) and began talking to him in a very calm, very matter-of-fact voice. I started telling him all about tornadoes. I told him everything I had ever learned about how they form and why. I talked about the weather and how systems move across the state. I talked about watches and warnings and what the difference was and what they meant. I told him about why we were holing up in the bathroom.

And do you know what? He calmed down. He even told me afterward that he wanted to learn all there was to know about tornadoes and weather. He asked if we could learn about that when we start homeschooling. Of course. Of course, we can.

We have to drive through the areas that you see in the photos above to get to Pieces preschool and go to the grocery store. It is wrenching every time. A few days after this, I took Chi with me to pick up our CSA which takes us through this devastation. I could see that Chi was really having a hard time processing what he was seeing. We discussed that the houses were gone or broken because of the tornado. I told him, “You know what, though? No one was hurt. They were all able to get to the safest part of their houses like we did.” Chi just nodded.

We had to pass back through on our way home from the pick up location. When we got past the worst of it, Chi was still silent. Then he said, “You know, Mom? Those tornadoes sure do break a lot of things.” pause “…but they make every thing else really green!”

Happy Birthday!

April is a busy month. Two of my three kids were born in April almost exactly two weeks apart. Pieces turned FOUR on the fifth and today is Pynni Pie’s SIXTH! My babies aren’t babies anymore and I’m not quite sure what to do with that.

These two are awesome. They are awesome individually and they are awesome together. They are like peas and carrots or peanut butter and jelly. They just go together.

Pynni came into my life during some of the most trying times with her older brother, Chi. I wanted another baby and we’d planned and prepared for her, but I was scared to death that my second child was going to be as hard as my first, and I’m not talking about labor.

"Chi and Pie"

She was a baby that slept almost all of the time until she was about 5 weeks old, and by that time she was close to
sleeping through the night and not needing to eat every couple of hours. When she was awake, she was smiling, then laughing, then laughing and smiling and clapping. She did almost nothing early. She was content to just be. She had this calming effect on me. I had struggled mightily with post-partem depression with Chi and was still dealing with depression throughout my pregnancy. After she was born, it was like this light had been born inside of her that banished all the darkness. She even helped calm Chi. He was enamored of her.

MY BABY!

Then Pieces came along when Pynni wasn’t much more than a baby herself. I worried that she would be jealous and that I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with her one on one as I otherwise would have. Turns out that Pieces is the perfect little brother for her and she was DELIGHTED to have a baby. In fact, it was all I could do to keep her out of his face. She wanted to hold him and kiss on him and poke at him non-stop. Good thing he’s WAAAAAY easy going. (Chi, I think, would like it if we could have a new brother or sister every couple of years. He was crushed when I told him that couldn’t be so.)

So, today we celebrate the birth of Wynni. We will make cake and open gifts and let her pick the meals (oh, god, I am NOT looking forward to that!). We will sing and blow out candles and play with new toys and probably watch a new movie. (it’s spring break so we have ALL DAY!)