Waking up to Chaos

Some days I wonder what it must be like to wake up slowly, to smell coffee brewing, to stretch my limbs and welcome the new day with open arms, to spend a peaceful morning nursing a cappuccino and reading a book.

Instead, I get this: SLAM!!!  BANG!!  I awaken with a jar, heart pounding, and sit upright.  Then I flop back down and peer with bleary eyes at the clock.  6 am.  Peter is awake. Time to hit the ground running!

That’s Peter.  It’s all or nothing with him.  When he wakes up in the morning, he may lay in bed for maybe five minutes, but then he is like a hurricane scattering noise and debris across his path.  There are no quiet mornings in our house.  Like EVER. 

This particular morning was no different.  Except that I was tired, having stayed up late painting rocks for my new Etsy shop, Alleluia Rocks.  I’m having a super time with this new endeavor, but I find myself staying up later and later, and that’s not a good thing when you have a Peter in your life.

So this morning I was in a bad mood.  Stayed that way until I got to work and looked at the photos scattered around my office.  I focused particularly on the ones with Peter as a newborn.  I couldn’t help it; my heart melted.


He was such a precious baby, and his brothers loved him at first sight.  We had no clue, of course, what lay ahead for him and for our family.  The developmental delays, the autism diagnosis, the therapies, the adjustments, the uncertainty of the future.  The LOUD MORNINGS.  Back then, it was simple.  Three boys.  Mommy and Daddy.  That’s it.

So I adjusted my mood and remembered that I am blessed.  Yes, I still wish for those carefree days.  I still wish for a peaceful morning every once in awhile.  I always will.

But I still have my 3 boys.  Mommy and Daddy are still together.  And we even have Athena The Dog now!

Who needs silence to enjoy a cappuccino anyhow?


Here we are last Saturday when we marched in the Columbia Christmas Parade with the local Adopt-A-Greyhound group!


Top 10 Stress-Inducing Phrases You Hear in Our House

You will often hear some pretty crazy things in our household. We say things we never thought we would ever utter!  Some of the exclamations induce immediate stress. Here are the Top 10:

10.  “He’s naked again!”

Peter likes to take his clothes off when he is hot.  Who can blame him?  He does not have a care in the world if anyone sees him naked.  I envy such freedom!  (Not that I’d prance around the house naked, but… you know what I mean!)

9.   “Hurricane Peter has struck again!”

This could mean any number of things, all of which serve to induce stress.  The bedding and mattress all over the floor.  Fluff all over the floor.  Books and ripped out pages from books all over the place.  Drawer knobs unscrewed and hidden within black holes throughout the universe.  Socks as well.  You get the picture.

8.  “Don’t chew on that!”

Yeah, we need one of those push-button thingies that automatically yells “Don’t chew on that!” when we need it.  Because it gets old saying it again and again.  As in, about 133 times a day.  Peter will chew on pretty much anything that should NOT be chewed.  Clothing.  Toys.  Books.  Drawer pulls.  Window blind strings.  You name it.  Luckily, he does not swallow these things but rather leaves them around the house in various states of pulpy chewed-up-ness.  Very nice.

7.  “Uh oh.  Is the pantry locked?!”

This is always a concern when most of us are upstairs and Peter is “playing” downstairs.  He seems to have a sixth sense about being alone downstairs.  He makes a beeline for the fridge or the pantry and stealthily grabs snacks, takes them into the guest room, and proceeds to produce an alarming amount of crumbs on the guest room bedspread.  Which leads to the next stress-inducing phrase:

6.  “Get the vacuum cleaner!”

This one is self-explanatory.

5.  “Where is Peter?  It’s too quiet.”

If you realize you can’t hear Peter’s noises (iPad mixed with happy/unhappy vocal sounds), you are in trouble.  As with the sneaky pantry behavior, if Peter is quiet, he is doing something BAD!

4.  “Oh, my gosh!  When was the last time we took Peter to the potty?!?!”

Also self-explanatory.

3. “Why do I hear the bathtub running?!”

At odd times, Peter makes his way into the bathroom, gets into the tub (fully clothed) and turns on the tap.  Why will he not get himself naked for that?!

2.  “Peter!!  What the heck did you do NOW?!?!?”

Yeah.  This one is heard way too often.  Just when you think all is well with the world, someone in the family yells this.  Mostly you don’t what to know what he did.

And the NUMBER 1 stress-inducing phrase (said by a device, not a person):

1.  “No Internet Connection.”

If you see this on Peter’s iPad, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!


The Case of the Reappearing Fluffballs

Yesterday I spied on my son.  Turns out I’m no Nancy Drew, because I did NOT solve the mystery.  Back to Spy school I go!

Let me explain.  Peter’s room is basically the only “Peter safe” room in the house.  My dear Dad turned the bedroom door into a barn door, whereby we can lock the bottom half and leave the top half open.  In essence, we are able to lock Peter in his room for short periods of time (don’t judge) and still be able to hear what he is doing.  Mostly.

You may note that I put quotation marks around the words “Peter safe,” above.  This is because as soon as you think you have a room Peter-proofed, he immediately proves you wrong.  It’s his talent.  Case in point: Last week he discovered his window shades and proceeded to gnaw on the little wooden knobs attached to the ends of the cords.  So I cut them off.  This week he has discovered the joy in lifting and dropping the shades with the cords, over and over.  Slam!  Shades down.  Whoosh!  Shades up.  You get the picture.

Continue reading “The Case of the Reappearing Fluffballs”

A Day of Firsts… and Lasts?

Son #1: First Day of College


Yesterday was a Very Big Day.  Our oldest son, Christopher, moved into his dormitory at the University of South Carolina.  It was a whirlwind of activity: fighting traffic, finding a parking spot, lugging tons of stuff up twelve flights of stairs to avoid the lines at the elevators, cleaning the dorm room (ugh), decorating, sorting, etc.  When we (the parents) were told (by the son) that we really didn’t need to hang out in the dorm all day, we took a deep breath and said our good-byes.  First-born son.  In college.  Sob!

Continue reading “A Day of Firsts… and Lasts?”

Autism Sibling Essay

Our oldest son will be heading off to college in the fall.  “In the fall” sounds like a long way away, but when I look at the calendar I gulp.  That’s only a month away!  How could 18 years have flown by so quickly?

Christopher is an amazing person.  He has achieved so much in his young life, but I fear that he is sometimes forgotten amidst the overwhelming demands of his youngest sibling.  I am reassured, though, when I read the following essay that he wrote for a scholarship contest.  His writing shows a depth of understanding that is rare, as well as a tendency towards compassion and acceptance.  He gets it.  We are super proud of him.

I never thought that I would say that my 8 year old brother who flaps his arms wildly and screeches when he’s excited but screams bloody murder when he’s mad would have had such an immense impact on my life, but here we are. May 14, 2009 was the day my life changed completely. Peter was born, and was diagnosed with autism not long after. When I heard that Peter was autistic, I was confused, and scared. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect. Before that point, I hadn’t really had any experience with anyone with any type of disorder, and I definitely didn’t realize how it would affect me.

Continue reading “Autism Sibling Essay”

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