Blessings in the Eye of the Storm

For those with whom I am not facebook friends (yet, you can always friend me anytime, I will accept from blog readers!), yes, we were not far from ground zero of where Hurricane Irene made landfall in the US. And yes, we are okay. Our property sustained no damage and none of us even had a headache as far as the storm was concerned. To say we were blessed, is an understatement. God blessed us abundantly even before the first warnings were issued in the case of big bad Irene.

First, for some humor. Did anyone else see the irony in naming a hurricane “Irene?” The name itself means serenity. When news first popped up that it may possibly be a threat to the US mainland, I immediately virtually marched myself over to the winner of “Funniest Blog” from the Catholic New Media Awards‘ facebook page and announced I was going to hold her and her husband responsible if Irene made landfall. Her response was satisfyingly what I would have expected, “I know, we were giggling about that yesterday! She’s been on quite a rampage lately, and only wishes she actually had devastating winds and torrential rain to add to her powers. ” After all this, I began more humorously seriously contemplating naming a hurricane “Irene.” Just outside of Olean, NY (where, coincidentally my mother grew up and my grandparents are active members of St Bonaventure parish) is a retreat center run by St Bonaventure University called Mount Ireaneaus. It is a beautiful place situated on a mountain surrounded by nature and a true place to hear God’s voice. I’ve been there. Breathtaking doesn’t do it justice. So, here we are. Stuck in southeastern NC with a Category 3 hurricane churning off the coast with a name meaning “serenity,” so what else could I envision except this discourse:

Frank Costanza: [yelling] Serenity now. Serenity now.
George Costanza: What is that?
Frank Costanza: Doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say: “SERENITY NOW”
George Costanza: Are you supposed to yell it?
Frank Costanza: The man on the tape wasn’t specific.

And this montage:

As the guy at the ends says, “Serenity Now. Insanity Later.”

Last week was a whirlwind, so it only fits that it would end in a hurricane. The end of the previous week had water spouts appearing on the coast. I officially started my job on Saturday and Sunday my parents came for a visit with Jeff and the kids (while I worked) and took us out to dinner. After dinner, Jeff and the kids and I drove into Wilmington to drop Jeff’s car off to have it looked at and worked on. It had recently started to have the dashboard lights go out when you applied the break. Fun stuff. Monday morning, we went to a local attorney’s office to complete the paperwork for the re-financing of our mortgage. We raced from there to Wrightsville Beach for Surfers Healing camp for Shelby. It was a gorgeous day on the beach. A little warm but great waves and not too rough at the same time. Shelby had an amazing time surfing. We wished we could have stayed all day, but we had open house at Shelby’s school that afternoon. (We wished we could have gotten there earlier as the day officially begins with a prayer circle of everyone present at that time! Next year for sure!) So we raced from the beach to our house, fed everyone, bathed everyone, dressed everyone and went to Shelby’s school for open house. Open house was great, although chaotic in an autism classroom. We met Shelby’s teachers, therapists, assistants and administrators. Finally the day was over and we were home eating dinner.

Jeff returned to school the next day with my car as his was in the shop sent from our normal mechanic to a place that works on electrical systems. Which left me, car less. Late Monday and Monday night, tornadoes touched down in our area. We were blessedly spared. Then, around mid-day, I logged onto facebook to find out that apparently, there was an earthquake in VA that was felt in our area. Again, we did not feel anything, but friends living and working not far away felt shaking for sure. I immediately emailed and called Jeff to inform him we were okay and didn’t even feel anything. A friend who is a Missionary Baptist minister urged me to keep calling and emailing to make sure Jeff was okay about 2 ½ hours north preparing for his students to come to Open House that night. Eventually Jeff emailed back that he had felt the shaking in the building and he and his colleagues were okay and the school sustained no damage. Overall, in our area, the earthquake was a little overhyped (although I am sure it was terrifying much closer to the actual epicenter). That afternoon, Shelby had occupational therapy. Her therapist said she was on a nearby island with a client when the quake hit in a house on stilts. Needless to say, there was some shaking going on there!

Wednesday we discovered I needed to find either a way to get our car on Friday or a way to get back to the attorney’s office to get our re-finance check and deposit it in Jeff’s account at the bank. And bad news, there was a hurricane in the ocean that we had no idea what it was going to do. Our neighbor who normally pinch hits for me in these situations is, understandably, terrified of storms and wasn’t able to do it. I began trying to figure out what, exactly, was going to happen. Oh, and getting Shelby ready for her first day of school on Thursday.

Thursday, the boys and I took Shelby down to the bus stop and sent her off to kindergarten. We had been afraid how she would react to riding the bus as she is afraid of diesel engines, but she got on after only a slight hesitation and found a seat (with the help of the bus monitor). (I’ll write another post about Shelby and school soon.) I went back into the house and prepared for waiting at the stop to pick her up. Around noon, my cell phone rang with a robo-call from the superintendent of Shelby’s school system informing us that the second day of school would be a half day in order for the schools that are to be used as hurricane shelters to be prepared and ensure that families had enough time to prepare for Irene. No big deal. But I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get from the house to the attorney’s office on Friday and back. Jeff sent an SOS out on facebook and lo and behold, friends of ours who own a gourmet market and catering company offered use of one of their catering trucks through the storm. They hated the idea of me possibly being stranded with the kids when the storm hit and knew I would need to get everything settled with the bank beforehand. So that afternoon, after Shelby was home, they dropped the truck off and made sure I would have everything I needed for the storm just in case Jeff didn’t make it back in time. About nine o’clock Thursday night, I was awakened by my cell-phone. A robo-call from the superintendent informed me classes had been canceled for all county schools on Friday. First bands of Irene were expected to hit our area about noon and it was too dangerous for children to be on buses in that weather. I was not at all upset (although it did give the first week of school a disjointed feeling) and after calling a good friend to update her on the general situation, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I awoke to realize, I did not have diapers or toilet paper. Not good. Two things I DID NOT want to go through a hurricane without. And, truth be told, we could use a few more non-perishable food items in the house. A friend had deposited cash in my account for gas which meant the little bit I had in reserves would serve our needs for other stuff. I woke the kids up before six, fed them, clothed them and off to Big Box Mart we went. I got diapers, some food and we headed home. We were only short dog food, but I had a plan. If Jeff couldn’t get any on his way home, I would cook up some rice and the dogs would be good with that until the storm was over and we could get out. I am nothing if not resourceful! We made it to the attorney’s office as the first bands of the storm were making landfall and rain was just starting. We then got to the bank before they closed and deposited our check. Then we went home and hunkered down. Jeff made it home (with dog food and other supplies to supplement what I had gotten). Around 10 pm, we lost power. We cracked our windows open as the tropical storm force winds brought a pleasant breeze through the house. The kids went to be fairly complacently before the loss of power. I had made sure our cell phones were charged before the power went out.

Saturday morning we awoke to still no power. The kids had a breakfast of pop-tarts. The boys and Shelby began making forts, looking at books, inventing games, playing flashlight tag. I have to say, I am VERY impressed with the fact that not once did anyone ask for any kind of television, or ac or anything. Around 9 am, our power was restored. Our house had stayed cool enough that our AC didn’t kick in right away which was very pleasant. Here are some shots of that morning,

as you can see, there is a gene my kids have called the “Hurricane, we don’t need no stinking hurricane!” genome. I believe they got it from my husband’s side. At the point Jeff we let them out there, the winds were down to tropical storm force. And although Jeff is not in the pictures he was out there at the time. After about an hour, Jeff went and check the roads. He found no flooding on the main road immediately in front of where we live, but there was some further along on my way to work, deeming it unsafe for me to travel to work that day. The roads were clear on the way to Big Box Mart though and they were open with power and so was McDonald’s in that same plaza. Guess were we went in the waning time of the storm…we got lunch for the kids at McDonald’s (okay, we ate some too) and went into Big Box Mart. The management there had deliveries coming in of essentials like ice, batteries, bread, etc until the bitter end and as a result, the store didn’t look like a hurricane had hit with the exception of a few strategically placed buckets etc. We made it back home and I called my work and informed them I wasn’t able to go in, to which my boss replied she was just getting ready to call me to tell me to stay home and not risk my life. Around 2:30 pm, our area saw the last of the storm winds and rain. We did get a little more rain later in the day from a very small inland system, but it was nothing. I was able to go to work on Sunday afternoon, Shelby was able to return to school on Monday. All in all, we fared pretty well. Our prayers go out to those suffering terrible flooding, still without electricity and sustaining major damage to their properties and business. Not to mention to the families of those who lost their lives. One man in our area was swept off a dock into the Cape Fear River early Saturday morning.

I have to say, this storm taught me some things no other storms have. For one, friends help friends when they are in trouble. The money deposited in my account and the use of the catering truck seem like small things, but they helped us weather the storm that much better. My boss had compassion (since you can be fired for not reporting to work in inclement weather, regardless of risk to your health or damage to your home/property) as did my co-workers who checked up on us.  People called, facebooked, emailed, and texted to check on our safety. And I learned that my kids are amazingly resilient when faced with things like loss of power. I learned that humor can carry you a long way when things seem scary. And that God does give us amazing blessings in some of the stormiest times of life…Irene, it’s not such a bad name. It’s a saint’s name. I wonder if any little girls born nine-months from now in our area will have it as a first or middle name?


This just in…

The Wickers are seeing BLUE!!! Welcome to Thomas Kemp Wicker at 4:38 pm today weighing in at 7 lbs 4 oz and 19″ long. Thanks to all who contributed to the spiritual bouquet for the Wicker family over the past weeks. Your prayers were felt by Kate and her family and now we have the beautiful baby boy to show for it. God Bless baby Thomas and God bless you all!

Small Successes


1) I remembered to do small successes this week.

2) I remembered to do them in spite of the fact that this morning is Shelby’s first day of kindergarten!

3) I resisted the urge to post a “why I haven’t posted” post, which I am sure would have bored everyone to tears.

4) I resisted the urge to put an exclamation point at the end of that last success.

5) I made it on time to open house on Monday, despite Jeff insisting that he drive ten miles an hour under the speed limit (for the first time in his life) the whole way there. And we were running late.

6) I ate lima beans. I discovered my issue is more with smell than taste.

7) I am somewhat winning the battle of bedtime. Joseph is sleeping in his bed most of the night, most nights.

Join Sherry for Small Successes!

It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that.~Danielle Bean

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Hosted by Like Mother, Like Daughter


Shelby and her surfer just relaxing on the ocean. While it looks calm, it was really quite active with all the waves that day! They are in the background, there is another surfer in the foreground. Probably one of my favorite shots because everyone was so relaxed. Shelby was resting against his legs just loving the feel of the ocean underneath her.

Also the double rainbow that chased Shelby and I home on a walk after a sunshower last week.


The happiest little girl in the world at that moment, happy mama taking the pictures and happy surfer…happy all around.

Two little boys thrilled to be allowed to play in puddles in the middle of the street. Their father’s idea. Not mine.


This is what happened when a certain three-year-old in my house found my camera. One of my friends commented on facebook it could be a new art form! I found it when I uploaded my Surfers Healing pics.


Surfers have kids too. Kids who come and ask them questions when they are in the middle of something. Just like mine do (very refreshing to know mine aren’t the only ones who do that!)

Yes, Kahuna, Surfing IS a team sport

Surfing is viewed as a sport of ultimate ego. One surfer, one board, one wave. One. Me. I. Watch your average contest on ESPN2. You’d walk away believing it.


On Monday, you would have seen something very different in Wrightsville Beach. There was one surfer, one board, one wave. But there were also children. Over 150 children. They worked with their surfers to ride the waves. The surfers worked with each other. And then there were the volunteers. Oh the volunteers. Wrestling kids into life jackets (many against their wills). Checking families in. Feeding the surfers, the families, everyone. Walking the kids out into the ocean. One ran into the ocean to catch my child. And the parents. The parents who had to take a step back and see what could happen. Who clapped each and every time a child stood on a board. Who for one day allowed themselves to relax and enjoy the unknown.

Shelby with one of her teachers from last year, Miss Liz, who volunteered and another volunteer teaching her to “hang loose.”

A volunteer taking Shelby into the water to her surfer.

Shelby, her surfer, and a volunteer getting her on the board.

Paddling out

Riding the wave

An awesome day…thanks to the team


Surfing would NOT have happened at all that day if not for the team. All of those pieces were needed to complete the puzzle of how this was going to work. Autism is puzzling…surfing, with a team, not so much. Even the ocean had to cooperate—and it did. It was a day to remember. A day to cherish. A day to acknowledge to the Hawaiian god of sun, surf and sand: Yes, Kahuna, Surfing IS a team sport.

A Thankful Woman’s Book Of Blessings

Hosted each week  by Judy!

1) I am thankful for the Paskowitz family and their belief that all children deserve a fun day at the beach and that the families of autistic children are entitled to see their child getting to do something “normal” for a change.

2) I am thankful for the wonderful surfers who donate their time, treasure and talent to make a child and her parents’ day.

3) I am thankful for the volunteers who know the power of surfing.

4) I am thankful for the wonderful surfer who took Shelby out into the water and kept taking her out, giving her the chance of a lifetime and gave us memories that we will cherish forever.

5) I am thankful for Surfers Healing not only giving Shelby an amazing opportunity but for inspiring my boys to pay it forward. They have both decided they want to learn to surf, to help kids like their big sister. They are the future.


Ten for Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday (94)

This week’s questions were provided by Katy at Living as Livingstons. She sent 11 questions and I liked them all so I kept them. If you have a problem with that, just choose one that you don’t want to answer!

1. Do you listen to the radio in your car?  If so, what type of station do you like?
Up until this past spring I did. That was when my car radio died but I kept it on Public radio exclusively.

2. What is the best concert you have ever attended?
Red Hot Chili Peppers on Californication Tour in Raleigh and all my Bruce Springsteen concerts: 2 for The Rising, Chapel Hill and Charlotte and 1 for Devils and Dust, Greensboro

3. What is the most embarrassing concert you have ever attended?
Don’t have one 🙂 okay, maybe Kenny G. My parents took us.

4. If you could have the singing voice of anyone in the world, who would it be?
Freddie Mercury.

5. You’re auditioning for American Idol.  What song do you sing?
Not gonna happen.

6. If your previous weekend had its own soundtrack, what would be a few of the songs?
“I could not ask for more” by Edwin McCain would be #1 for sure, “I Hope You Dance” by LeeAnn Womack, and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (yes, it was a weekend of parental pride and surfing!)

7. Most annoying television show theme song ever:
I’ll Be There For You from Friends

8. Are you and your significant other music-compatible?
Yes, very much so. In fact, he said he knew I was the girl he was going to marry when I said I loved Neil Young. He said, “No girls love Neil Young!” (well none that he had met up til then) I like more rap than he does and he likes the Grateful Dead and Ted Nugent (both of whom I don’t) but we’re pretty good other than that!

9. A song that brings me back to middle school:
Middle school was pretty much a blur of Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain…so probably Smells Like Teen Spirit

10. A song that brings me back to high school:
Our senior class song: Good Riddance by Green Day

11. A guilty pleasure song (or three):
Oh Sherry by Steve Perry

Trusting God In Full

Today was a day that ranks up there with the day I got married, graduated from college and had my kids. Today, Shelby surfed.

No big deal, right. I mean, kids surf all the time. In Hawaii they surf before they are potty-trained. But Shelby is autistic and for her, surfing is a big deal.

Today was our first time at Surfers Healing camp. Started by former pro surfer Izzy Paskowitz and his wife Danielle after seeing the amazing results of surfing on their autistic son Isaiah, Surfers Healing camps are now held nationwide for children with autism to have a fun day at the beach and be like any normal child. Which is no small feat. For children with autism, the sensory experiences of sand, salt water and even just the smells of the beach can be overwhelming. For some kids, the biggest struggle is getting a life jacket on, but today, I saw first hand just how far a little experience can go.

Shelby’s struggle, waiting in line for her turn. Luckily, a teacher from her school last year was working the life jacket tent and scooped her up and kept her occupied. But the real acts of faith were yet to come. After a successful run on the board, Shelby’s surfer was paddling out again when a big wave knocked both of them off the board and separated them. Shelby was floating (thanks to her life jacket) and her surfer quickly swam to her as did a volunteer on the shore. In no time they had her back on the board and paddling out as if nothing had happened. Shelby, known for freaking out over a loose string on clothing, did not scream, did not meltdown but went with the flow. And what did her mother on the beach do? I kept on video taping her. I didn’t yell or scream or even run out into the water. I’m not the type of mother who wouldn’t normally react either…so much so that I joke that this experience proves I’m going for “mother of the year.” (Ask Jeff and he’ll tell you if it had been him, I would have been screaming my lungs out.)

Do I think that Shelby’s reaction is what led me to be so calm? Well, I’m sure her reaction influenced mine, but what really stood out for me: Shelby’s amazing trust that this surfer, this man she had never seen or met before in her life, was not going to let anything bad happen to her. She had ultimate faith that she was safe. And so did I.

I didn’t actively pray about Surfers Healing (except that the weather would allow it, we’ve had water spouts, funnel clouds and a nasty thunderstorms in the past week, including at 4 am this morning!, oh and with any luck, Hurricane Irene will be here this weekend). I was very interested to see what would happen and how it would go. I had no real expectations good or bad. But somehow, when I saw my daughter being placed on the surfboard in the water by a surfer whose name I did not even know, I knew it was okay. I knew God put her with that surfer today and it was going to be an experience like none other. God did not disappoint.

Today I learned my daughter can surf. I learned that surfers can be angels on long boards. I learned that when you place your full trust in God, there may be bumps along the way, but you are never disappointed.

Mahalo Surfers Healing! Mahalo God!

Saintly Meme

I was tagged by Munches Mom for this meme, so here goes:

Assuming you are a saint, and your cause has been executed, your miracles confirmed, your date on the calendar established, all that is required is select that of which Holy Mother Church will name you Patron(ess).
For this meme, you must name your patronage and then tag 5 other people who would like to play along. Link your answer to your nominator’s post.
Um, wow, being a saint would be a long road from this point in my life, but I am honored that someone thought enough of me that it could possibly happen!
I don’t really know where to start but for the last three years as I have grown as a person and a mother, particularly as a mother of a child with autism, I have watched so many parents, grandparents, and families in general suffer under the weight of diagnoses like autism and other delays. So, I would love to be considered the Patron Saint of Caregivers of People with Developmental Delays/Disabilities. I was going to say “parents” instead of “care givers” but I realize that so often parents are not able to solely care for these individuals on their own. Not everyone can give that level of care that these individuals needs and sometimes, God sees fit that the parents are the best ones for that task and sometimes others. I am inspired by so many of the parents I meet in this world and all they do for their children. Particularly this one.
I’m not much for tagging but I will tag one reader just because I really want to know and that is:
I would love to hear what the rest of you would be patron of as well…so if you feel so inclined, please put your own post up and link to me here and put a link to your post in the comments section so we all can read it!

Ten on Tuesday

This week  provided by Kara at Kara’s Chatter.

1. Mac or Windows? (Or Linux for you super geeks!)

2. What drew you to that operating system?
Money. It’s what I could afford at the time (last Christmas) with gift money…however, a little bird told me an Ipad may be in my future….

3. Mice – Wireless or Wired? Mouse pad or none?

4. Other than the Internet – What do you use your computer most for?
Pictures, games (I am addicted to Mahjong Titans)

5. What’s one computer-related thing you wish you were best at? (CSS, Photoshop, Excel, etc.)

6. Describe the first time you ever used a computer.
We used some kind of archaic things when I was in first grade.

7. How often do you upgrade to a new operating system?
When I can afford it and when it absolutely won’t work anymore…a new computer comes into our home. With whatever it was sold with.

8. Are you a short-cutter (CTRL+C) or a right-clicker?
short cutter. Too many mouse issues!

9. Is computer-use a constant thing in your life (such as using it both at work and home) or do you get a break (because you don’t use them at work)?
My computer and I are blood-sisters!

10. Where do you think the world would be if personal computers did not exist?
I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to, though.

Join everyone at Roots and Rings for Ten on Tuesday.