Tag Archive: Thankful


It’s the little things.

Chi was totally unable to self regulate and had regular meltdowns and constant stimming when he was at public school, but since we started homeschooling, not only has the stimming diminished, but the melt downs are almost COMPLETELY nonexistent.

And he has started self regulating.

I took him to Target (which has always been a top way to bring on the meltdowns (the lights are so bright AND LOUD, there are some many people and things AND THEY ARE LOUD, AHHHHHHH!) and events transpired in such a way that the kids were unable to get the items we had gone to the store to get (read: earned prizes for excellent, consistent behavior). Instead of melting down, as he would normally do, over unexpected happenings, I watched him walk very stiffly with a look of intense concentration on his face. When I asked what was going on, he said, “I can feel my body want to stop and my mouth want to squeak, but I’m making it not do that.” I was amazed.

When he meltsdown? My Chi isn’t there anymore. The Monster has taken his place and the Monster does not communicate or hear me or anything. Chi was beating that Monster. Now, MAYBE this is because he’s getting older (almost 11) but I really think the difference is that at homeschool, he isn’t staying overstimulated a majority of his time awake. As such, he is better able to read what his body is doing and learn to stop or cope with what ever reaction he is having.

See? I CAN enjoy the unexpected, and this is one of my favorites.

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Pynni Pi. Seven.

Pynni is at my mom’s house with the “little” kids.

######Kip, Chi, Mae, and Abshie make up the “big” kids (grandkids). Pynni is two years younger than the youngest “big kids” and two years older than the oldest “little kids”. She is smack in the middle. So when the “big” kids go to Grammie’s Camp, Pynni gets to go, and when the “little” kids go to Grammie’s Camp, Pynni gets to go.######

Wednesday, April 18 is her birthday. She turns seven. I do not think I can overstate the importance of her birth in my life.

Chi was hard. Period. If you, as a parent, have ever dealt with a child with SPD or Asperger’s or PDD-NOS, then you know my pain. I had no clue what I was dealing with when Chi was born and things weren’t simple. They weren’t easy. I was not just dealing with the huge change a child brings into your life, but the huge challenges a child with these sorts of issues bring. On top of all of that, I suffered, pretty mightily, from post-partem depression. (It was difficult and complicated and I won’t go into it all here, but I was a mess.)

I knew that I didn’t want Chi to be an only child, but I wasn’t sure I could deal with another kid. Still, I was very determined to have another child.

Enter Pynni.

She was this light in my life that saved me. She was so easy going and quiet and beautiful. She was everything I needed and made helping Chi something I could handle without falling apart after he went to bed. She was exactly the balance I needed. EXACTLY. She is light and joy and smiles and happiness and beauty; all without trying.

Today, 18 April, she turns seven. She is so much her own person. The ONE thing I truly want for her is to be her own person. Yes, I want her to be happy. Yes, I want her to be successful (whatever that embodies). Mostly, I want her to be her. I want her to march to the beat of her own drummer. I want her to be a leader, not a follower. I want her to own WHO she is. I want her to be unafraid to just BE. I want her to be strong. I want the fact that she is a woman to DEFINE her and, yet, for that fact to set her free. I want her to have the strength to reach for her dreams, whatever those things may be: mother, world leader, healer, teacher, artist, lover, WHATEVER!

So I got a text from my mom because Pynni is not going to be HERE for her birthday. She is going to be with my parents. My mother says that Pynni is planning her own party and is VERY definite about what she wants. She is having a SpongeBob SquarePants piñata with Hello Kitty plates and napkins and a Tinkerbell cake with mint ice cream and a trip to see The Lorax.

So it begins. Somehow I need to nurture that uniqueness, that special light that is Pynni. Somehow, I need to encourage her light to shine in the face of whatever she faces. Unafraid. Unchanged. Undaunted. Uniquely, Eowyn.

Wynni Pynni Pi;

I love you and cherish EVERYTHING about you. I love watching you grow and become this amazing person. I look forward to the coming years; to seeing who and what you become. How YOU define happiness and success. Those are two things that can only be defined by you for you and I cannot wait to learn their definitions as seen through your eyes.

I love you, Pynni. Happy Birthday.

~Mom

I’m not real big into the whole “New Year’s” thing. I don’t, on the whole, look back at my year with grateful fondness, or wistful nostalgia, or even apathy. It was a time period. It passed. What’s coming up this afternoon? Tomorrow? Next weekend?

In the same vein, I do not look forward with gleeful hopes of major lifestyle changes. I don’t plan lists of resolutions that will get dumped and/or forgotten in the first few days of the year. Sure, I have things I’d like to change about myself: lose weight, eat better, get more exercise, be more patient, smile more, laugh more, etc. But this dreamer is a realist and I know that making a giant list of “THIS IS WHAT I’M GOING TO DO, DAMMIT” is just setting myself up to fail which injures a self-esteem that wobbles from assured and confident to shattered and bewildered and back again.

Those things I’ve listed? I like to think I work on them always. I’m far from perfect and I’m a professional rebel. I question all authority, even that which I have over myself. “Self,” I say, “Self, sodas are bad for you. They rot your teeth and they are addictive and they make you fat(ter).” Self gives me the finger and has soda. So I have to play mind games with Self and trick it (me). (I AM NOT CRAZY!)

So, anyway. What I thought I wanted to say, was that with all the above mentioned things in mind (that’s YOU keeping those things in mind since I already know them), I was thinking about this year passed. It was a year like any other, I guess. It had bad, dark moments, months even, but then the light always broke through and things got better.

There were things like:

My back. It was awful at the beginning of the year. I was heading into month four and I was still almost completely stuck lying flat, no sitting or standing. Very little vertical allowed or even possible. The pain was awful. I saw my chiropractor two times a week until March or so and then I saw him every week until August when I was finally able to start physical therapy. Now I go once a month and physical therapy is over. And you know what? I’m better. I’m still at risk for surgery, but I have tools to help myself, now. Yoga for one and Tai Chi for another. Pain is minimal and sometimes gone altogether which is a revelation!

Chi. His third grade year was so much better than his second grade year thanks almost entirely to Miz Eff, his third grade teacher. We fretted and worried and planned and prepared and still I just knew that Chi was going to bomb that End of Grade test, but when we got his scores, he was among the top 5% in his grade. And all with no drama. He just let that test roll right off him as if it was nothing. I’m still not sure if it was nothing because we prepared so much, or because Chi was just inexplicably unaffected. Then we started homeschool in the fall and that has exceeded my wildest imaginings for what it would do for him. He is wholly himself. He hops around on his exercise ball and answers questions. He will even write a few sentences with no complaints. He loves school. He is more calm and collected than ever and seems so at ease in his own skin. A first.

Pynni. The start of 2011 began the odyssey that pushed me over the edge and made the decision to homeschool. It has been a hard row to hoe with her, but we seem to have hit our stride. I can only guess that most of our issues stem from how her Kindergarten experience damaged her self-esteem. It took four long months but she is reading. The light returned to her eyes when she was reading a short book to me and as she struggled through and sounded out all the words without any help from me, I touched her cheek to get her attention and said, “Pynni. You’re reading. Do you realize that? You. Are. Reading.” A grin that became a full on smile that lit the room (I swear) dawned across her face. Every so often, now, she’ll be reading quietly to herself and turn suddenly and say to me, “I really love to read!” All of that has made school with her easier, quicker and more enjoyable for the both of us.

Pieces. My fabulous, jolly little man is in preschool again and again it is all business. He loves it, but he is very serious about school. And it turns out, he may be my smartest child. He knows all of everything he is supposed to know for Kindergarten already. I’m going to start teaching him to read.

Doodle. He lived with us for most of 2011. Things got strained at the end. Things that are too personal, and still yet, painful to put down here. He moved out and then promptly got a new job and moved away. I will not be seeing him much anymore, although we talk on the phone. We have a very special relationship, my brother and me, and distance has never interfered, but I miss his presence. With his move comes the reality that his kids won’t be here much anymore, but we will get them here for a week or so every summer. I can be happy with that. Content? No, but happy and grateful for any amount of time for sure.

Grandad. My maternal grandfather was hospitalized after Thanksgiving. He’s had bypass surgery before and due to his age and heart issues, he is no longer a candidate for bypass surgery. Things were very sketchy for him there for a bit. He is very at peace with where he is in life and what his life has represented. He is a Godly man who has spent much of his adult life ministering to those in need, and I don’t mean preaching. His life is such a great example of what being Christian means. I can look at his example and be less jaded. Still, I am not ready to say good-bye and I am very grateful that he pulled through and is at home recovering.

Yeah, 2011 was mostly good. I’m sure I could month by month it and list all the things, good and bad. But I won’t. 2011 ended and I’m moving onward, but resolutions? Nah. I’m constantly working on bettering myself. One thing, though. I’m making my cousin a scarf or something, even though she hasn’t blogged SINCE JUNE!

Last night Hubs asked me if I thought Chi would ever change. I turn and observe the following:

Chi is “walking” on the balls of his feet squatted down so that his butt is mere inches from the floor and his miles of leg are folded up so that his knees are pressed into his chest. He is wearing a long sleeve shirt and has pulled his hands up into the sleeves and spread them out to make a kind of oval shape in the fabric.  He is pressing these fabric covered hands into the floor in front of him as he zooms around as fast as he can, making but one of his deep and vast repertoire of noises. He notices me watching him and says, “I’m a level 2 vacuum cleaner.”

Hubs taking all this in right along with me, says, “You might need upgrades.”

I turn back to Hubs, amused, and say, “No. No, I don’t think he’ll ever change.”

I’m trying to be thankful. I’ve been living in Thwarted Land and unable to help my daughter in anyway. I feel like I’m throwing money at an issue that isn’t any closer to being diagnosed, or recognized, much less resolved. Doctors look at me after a round of tests shows that my daughter has “Perfect Vision!” and “Excellent Muscle Control!” and “Absolutely Nothing Wrong!” and they smile and beem and generally act as though I should be grateful. One part of me is, surely, but it seems to be very deeply buried. No, I don’t want there to be anything wrong with her. I don’t want her issues to be something awful. BUT SOMETHING IS WRONG and when that doc tells me there’s nothing, THEY AREN’T HELPING. They are closing off an open avenue. I try to see that they are narrowing the options of what is going on with her, but all I can see is that they seem to think that answers all the questions. IT MOST ASSUREDLY DOES NOT!

So in my efforts to try and view the world through less fogged glasses (HA! GLASSES!!) (In other news, I may be losing it.) and try to find the silver lining (it’s faint and hard to see these days), a list of what I should be thankful for (I’m sure I’m thankful, somewhere in my heavy, frustrated, broken, depressed and completely at a loss heart/brain).

I’m thankful for:

  1. My kids. They are well behaved and respectful. They are healthy and loving. They are illegally cute and make my heart expand painfully in my chest (no, it’s not heart problems, I had it checked).
  2. My husband. He didn’t fight me on getting Chi tested for his various pervasive developmental issues even when he wasn’t in complete agreement. He let Momma’s instinct lead the way. He has supported me in my writing efforts and my crazy homeschool notions. He tells me he loves me every day and holds me when I don’t feel strong enough to press onward (like during this time right now). He has worked his ass off so I could stay home with our kids and will work extra contracts if we need extra money for, oh say, a replacement car.
  3. My husband not being dead. Two weeks ago he was in a major car accident that totaled his Civic. A guy going 70 mph tried to merge with stopping traffic during rush hour and crushed the back, drivers’ side quarter panel of the Civic sending it into a spin that then hit the oncoming car and flipped it up over the hood of the Civic. In the end, the only part of the Civic not crunched was the front and rear bumpers, the driver’s side door, and the top of the car. Hubs walked away with a bump on the head and a lot of sore muscles and a severe case of shock. But he walked away. Yeah, I’m really thankful for that.
  4. My parents. They are ever supportive of me and my family. They are there if I have need of love, support, crying shoulder, advice, an ear, whatever. They don’t always agree with me, but they love me unconditionally and that. is. awesome.
  5. My brothers. I’m crazy thankful for them even if they are driving me crazy. T-bow has stepped up and been there for us without our second car in the form of Hubs’ ride to work. He also potentially risked his life to see if we were okay when our house alarm sent a silent signal to the alarm company that our house was being broken into at 2am last Friday. When no one could get a hold of us, he got dressed and came to check on us. Being a man of brains and no gun, he watched the house until the cops showed up. In the end it was a security system malfunction, but I am thankful that he cared that much. Doodle moved away, but I’m thankful for him all the same.
  6. My sister-in-law. I’ve been friends with her since 3rd grade. Having her here, in the city we live in, has been a blessing. We hang out and support one another. We trade off childcare whenever we need it. She has helped me a BUNCH during all of my many health crises. There really aren’t words enough to express my gratitude and thankfulness for her.
  7. My closest of close friends. They don’t live nearby, but I love them like sisters all the same. I miss them with a fierceness and I long for their presence. We can’t see each other often enough, and that’s a fact.

I guess I could list all the little mundane things I’m thankful for, but I’ll leave it here. Being thankful can be a process, and this process has made me feel thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. In that non-supporting-the-genocide-of-an-entire-peoples kind of way.

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.

We met 15 years ago.

We got married 14 years ago.

We bought our first car 13 years ago.

We moved to a new state 13 years ago.

We had our first kid 10 years ago.

We bought our first house 8 years ago.

We had our second kid 6 years ago.

We had our third kid 4 years ago.

How can I express how much you mean? The facts seem to speak for themselves, but they are so dry. So.

15 years ago, I met you and wanted you in my life in whatever way.

14 years ago, I committed myself to the person who’d become the love of my life and my best friend.

Today, you are still the love of my life. You are still my best friend. My favorite past times include you. My inside jokes include you. My favorite holidays include you. My favorite vacations include you. The most fun I’ve had includes you. My three favorite kids include you. 😉

Thank you, Matt, for sticking around and loving me. Thank you, Matt, for choosing me and caring for me. Thank you, Matt, for making our relationship and marriage a true partnership. Thank you, Matt, for believing in me and for being so DAMN AWESOME! I love you more each day, however improbable that sounds.

Do you remember, Mom?

Do you remember, Mom, teaching me to make cookies? The dough was always my favorite part. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, watching the Sound of Music and Little Women over and over and over with me? Watching Singing in the Rain? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, how we were too chicken to try out the subways in NYC until the very end of our trip, and how we swore we’d go back, just to use the transit system properly? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, the awesome birthday parties when I was growing up: the backwards birthday party, the slumber parties, the parties centered around really fun games, the McDonald’s Caboose parties? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, singing songs to each other and to my kids? Do a deer, Favorite Things, Second Story Window, and others? “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Snowflakes that  stay on my nose and eyelashes. Silver white winters that melt into spring. These are a few of my favorite things.”  I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, when you would wet my hair and braid it? Sometimes it was one braid and sometimes two, but always it was this perfect French braid. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, when we would sing in the car together? I would sit on the armrest of the Malibu like it was my own personal chair and we would belt out songs. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, teaching me the nursery rhyme song and how much fun it was to try and come up with as many nursery rhymes as we could? “Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone. When she went there, the cupboard was bare so she threw it out the window. The window, the window, the second story window. With a heave and a ho and a mighty throw, she threw it out the window!” I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, teaching me to play Nardle? I remember playing over and over, and having SO much fun. I ended up teaching friends, I liked it so much. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, building a snowman in the snow? I think we were in Ft Smith, which means you were pregnancy encumbered, but I had a blast. Thanks to you. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, drying my hair and ironing it on the ironing board? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, laying face to face on the bed (or floor or where ever) upside down to one another? Do you remember the funny upside down faces and the laughing? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, playing boardgames in the camper at the end of the night when we all went camping? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, just you and I going to the movies and seeing tear jerkers and crying on each others shoulders? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, going for drives and getting Sonic sodas and beef meximelts from Taco Bell? Do you remember sitting at the lock and watching the river flow by? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, going shopping in Little Rock, just us? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, swimming at Meemaw and Grandad’s house for hours on end? “Fish on land!!” I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, going to see all those musicals? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, teaching me to play the piano? How I preferred to memorize the songs as opposed to reading the music? How I hated theory? I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, all those duets we loved to play together on the piano? You always played the bass clef because I was ruined from playing the clarinet for so long. Bass clef required all kinds of counting and figuring out what was what for me anymore. I remember.

Do you remember, Mom, being there for the birth of my children? I remember.

Making Memories

Do you remember, Mom, holding me and loving me? Yeah, all those times you’ve always been there. I love you, Mom, I’m so thankful for you and all the memories we’ve made. I may not know your birth story the way your mom tells it to you, but I know your life story as I’ve lived it with you. I look forward to all of the memories we will make going forward and all the times you will hold me and love me.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

A really good thing about homeschooling is flexibility. Before we started school, I sat down with my computer and my iCal and worked out our school year (over and over, actually). I took into account holidays and birthdays and summer breaks that include my niece and nephew staying with us during their summer break. I took into account not having too many weeks of school in a row without a week break (we don’t want to burn out, after all, and we can literally go all year round).

Now, I don’t do schedule changes well. I like things that are planned to be exactly as they are planned. Surprises and I aren’t on good terms. (Sound like anybody else?) So, when I made this schedule, I knew at some point that there would need to be changes occasionally, like a day when I’m sick or the kids are sick and we can make up those days on the weekend if necessary, and we’ve done that pretty successfully. And somehow, I’m not freaked out by it.

Next Saturday is Chi’s tenth birthday, and I had set up the break for the following week. Well, this morning Pynni is sick, and this weekend I destroyed the living room to put my area rug together and before the furniture was brought back in, I cleaned out the two closets in the living area. NOW, a lot of that mess is all over our school table and needs organizing which I need to do before we can have school today, so I proposed an option to the kids of Lamp Post Academy:

Yes. Yes, that's grey hair.

Let’s move next week’s break to this week. That way we don’t have to make up Pynni’s missed school day on Chi’s birthday weekend.

I left it up to them to agree upon, and they chose to take the break a week earlier (surprise!). I’m fine with this, it gives me an opportunity to finish my organization project and get caught up on some house work and school prep that I’ve been needing to do. (History and Science are more labor intensive than I was prepared for.)

I’m still a little weirded out that the schedule got changed at the last minute and I’m not suffering from panic attacks and fits of anger and irritation. Hey, maybe I’m growing as a person.

My heart is all splintered apart and part of it has returned to California to be with their mom for the school year. I can’t seem to let go and move on. I have to keep forcing myself to do something else besides wallow in sadness.

Today, I made a commitment to face forward and move on with life. I know that sounds melodramatic, and maybe it is, but the sadness is real. The depression is dragging at me like weights in the deep dark waters of time. I have to make myself turn away from the darkness and start swimming in the direction of the light because that’s where the air is. I feel like I can’t breathe. I need to breathe.

This summer was great and we had a royal blast. We did a lot and time flew by unheeded. I’m thankful that we had this time. I hope it’s not the last.

I made a video documentary of sorts because the list of things that we did and their stories would fill up too much of this white space.

Enjoy.

I may elaborate in the future. I don’t know yet.