Landon’s fourth birthday

Today we celebrated an emotional fourth birthday for our youngest son. Emotional because his time on earth has been many highs and many more lows. Some people are not given an easy path and it is amazing to see how they can thrive given their less-then-ideal circumstances. Watching Landon develop his personality cornerstones of thoughtfulness and love for people has taught me so much about my own coping skills.

Landon was our first home birth and it was such an amazing experience for Chelsea and I. Shortly after, things got harder. This isn’t a post for war stories though – there are plenty of those already written – this is a post of celebration and hope because we have found a solution to make his days much easier and have allowed him to flourish even more as a beautiful young child. 

However, I will leave one quick antidote that is representative of our current status. A couple years ago, shortly after we moved here, I took Landon and his siblings out for a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit. We were 4 or 5 miles from where we parked when Landon lost his mind. This is the non-scientific explanation that we used to describe one of his fits. He would scream and scratch uncontrollably until his arms and legs looked like raw hamburger. When this would happen, we would find a way to restrict access to his hands by covering them in special sleeves and try to distract him by wearing him or snuggling with him. I was without any of these tools or opportunities. Not only that, I was facing a 20 minute bike ride back to the van and a 20 minute drive home. I did the best I could and he calmed down eventually, but I’ve been caring around range anxiety since that experience and found myself uncomfortable roaming too far from home. However, today was a healing experience. We went for a long bike ride today, over 20 miles, and found ourselves passing the exact same spot where Landon lost his mind two years ago. It was very therapeutic to realized that I no longer needed to carry this anxiety with me as those days, for now, are behind us.

Anyways, happy birthday little buddy! You are a rock star!!

Bike to school day

As part of a national bike month, today was Bike to School day and so we did. We appeared to be the only ones, which wasn’t all that surprising, but I’m still glad we did it. Ben is getting better and better at understanding traffic and when cars might turn. It’s nice to ride right beside him on the sidewalk instead of behind him scanning his surroundings for danger while yelling “Watch that car, they don’t see you. Watch that car, they might turn. Slow down until you make eye contact.” I still say those things, but he is generally doing them before the words even come out.

Downtown or bust

The last six months have been spent weighing the pros and cons of various living situations.

*Do we give up the best time zone in the US and proximity to family for the foodie, hippie, public transit rich, most-bike-friendly-city of Portland

*New York provides opportunities to expose our kids to so many experiences and diverse environments that will teach them tolerance and understanding. And Brooklyn appears to be a great fit for us. With the best transit system in the US, we could live car-free. But, what if the city is too much for us? What if it chews us up and spits us out like an alternate plot line of Kimmy Schmidt

*Then there is downtown Greenville. With the Swamp Rabbit TrailFalls Park and a picture-perfect Main Street, it’s the city that we fell in love with, moved 1,000 miles for, then settled for the suburbs. Could the life we want be right up I-385?

For the next year at least, option #3 is the winner. We found a great condo to rent (different one from last update) that is short walk from downtown and an even shorter walk to the kid’s school. The back yard is N. Main Park and it is within walking or biking distance to everything we like to do downtown. It is smaller than our current house which is going to give us a great opportunity to downsize and live with less. This is something that we both want, but is much easier to preach than to practice. I suppose this also means my non-kid friendly t-shirt signed by Jimmie’s Chicken Shack is going to have to meet an awful end, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Leaving is always bittersweet and it seems particularly hard this time because we have grown so fond of our neighbors. As I type this, our kids are playing “chess” with our neighbor’s kids. This is after they all got married, had kids, defeated dragons and rescued queens. Our kids play and fight with them as if they were siblings and our weekends will be sadly much quieter.

Click here to read previous posts in the Southern Expat series.