Thursday, July 12, 2012


Ewan Wins the Jonah Look-Alike Contest

                            Jonah                                          Ewan

{Again at Washington & Lee with the Lee chapel behind us. }

Ewan's three older siblings imbue him with more personality than he has words for.  His face tells me he could be four-years-old, but his little tongue is still grasping at sounds that make words.  Ewan has speech therapy twice a month.  Miss Cheri comes to our house and we talk about techniques and games that encourage communication and articulation.  He's made progress - he has stopped calling me Daddy, and finally whines for Mommy instead.  Only if there is no Daddy around, because if Daddy is around Mommy doesn't exist.

This parent dichotomy brought on self imposed trauma for Ewan yesterday afternoon when Matt came home from work.  Heartless Matt went to the bathroom and shut the door with Ewan on the wrong side of it.  I was on Ewan's side offering comfort but he wanted none of me knowing who was on the other side.  Ewan screamed, pounded on the door, sobbed, yelled "Daddy" over and over again.  

Within a few minutes he evidently tired of his own histrionics and finally quieted with his forehead resting against the door in a completely defeated posture.  After a moment he turned looking for some distraction or consolation.  Still uninterested in me he opened the dirty clothes hamper to see what treasure might be lurking inside.   

Eureka!  Ewan pulled out the pajama bottoms he had been wearing earlier in the morning while eating breakfast.  He hunkered up into the corner and began prying off the bits of dried oats and popping them into his mouth one at a time.  There he sulked and snacked until Matthew emerged to rescue him.

This is what we call self reliance.

Ewan is a happy child.  His siblings love him and include him in most of what they do.  He wants to be with us and he wants to play.  When he settles into a fowl mood he makes himself heard by continual screaming.  Like most good parents we try nearly anything to stop the shrill shrieks.  Occasionally we let him watch the LDS Youth 2012 theme song, "Arise."  He almost always jollies immediately and sings along or dances.

Here is one such occasion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding the Stage

{They are walking along the side of Lee Chapel where Robert E. Lee is buried at W&L}

These two went to school yesterday . . . kind of.  We have a woman here in this small town who has transformed a few things. Her name is Susan Hogan. She owns an art studio and offers art lessons.  She owns a small cafe called the Blue Dog Art Cafe where she displays local art.  She runs a theatre program in the elementary and middle schools.  And she runs a very affordable three week summer camp called Kids University.

The kids put on a play and they do all kinds of art projects.  Yesterday Jonah and Caroline shuffled in to the auditorium a bit apprehensive about this new school-esque experience.  But in the 60 second process of checking in they saw half a dozen kids they recognized from church and one of them motioned for Jonah and Caroline to come sit by him.  Off they went.   Off I went.


By the end of the day when I picked them up in the POURING rain they were giddy.  "We're doing a play, Mom.  It's Winnie the Pooh.  I'm making a collage.  We get to design flower beds at Penny Park.  I think I might try out.  I want to be a Bumble Bee.  I made a new friend."

Today when I picked them up Jonah announced that he has been cast as Christopher Robin.  And Caroline will be a Bumble Bee.  We have already been to two of the plays that Ms. Hogan has produced.  The kids have loved them, but shied terribly at the thought of being on stage.  It is their turn now.  As a homeschooling mother I am thrilled for them to have this experience independent of me.


It's like rubies.  Precious.

Monday, July 9, 2012

This Dark Week

What happened to my fifteen minutes a day?

This happened.

This photo was taken by an S&I secretary in Charleston, West Virginia as the Derecho approached their city.  It looks like the ocean has taken to the sky, rolling in to engulf the land in its watery wildness.  Strange that there was no rain.  This storm carried anger more than water.

This is one tree on one hill in one little town along the path of the dreaded Derecho that hit June 29th, last Friday night.  This happens to be in my little town, but thankfully it is not my tree.

Here is what happened in our house.

We were just finishing watching a new-ish Rhett and Link video on YouTube, sending the kids off to brush their teeth and put their bodies in their beds when a ferocious sound came to life outside.  The wind howled in astonishing maleficence.  Our lights flickered at about 9:30 pm, then vanished into the darkness, carried away with the wind traveling north.  We had no idea what had whipped through Buena Vista.  We had no idea that it had left all of West Virginia flat and tangled before it reached us, or that an hour later it would visit Katie and Roane in D.C. and carry their electricity away as well.  We thought it was our thunder and lightning, a wind belonging to the Shenandoah Valley that left a bit of debris in our yard from the trees we were already fixing to have taken down.

We knew the location of one MagLite that even had batteries in it.  We lit the few tea light candles we had and made ourselves a big family bed on the floor in the living room.  When morning came there was still no electricity and the scene outside was more destruction than we discerned in the dark attack the night before.  Had we known what was happening around us Jonah and I would never have gone out in it, hand in hand, looking for the neighbors chickens that we had taken responsibility for that morning when they left town.

By nightfall we had seen the fallen trees and power lines everywhere.  We saw broken houses, torn siding, roof shingles blown away.  We heard chainsaws everywhere.  We passed mega lines at every gas station where they were running out of gas and only selling what they had for cash.  There was still no power and our house was hot by then so we packed up and slept on the floor at the institute where there was electricity and air conditioning.  Then again the third night.

The fourth night we took up residence in another family's home who were traveling in Utah and had power.  We had thrown out most of the food from our refrigerator, saved some by filling the institute refrigerator and divided our freezer food between four different freezers in town.  Jonah was sure I would forget where to collect all our frozen food.

I felt strangely unfazed by the ordeal.

"Oh, hello Transience, my old friend.  We met last year around this time.  Do you remember?"

I remember.

"Last year you were a flood.  This year you are wind.  But I am not troubled like I was the first time."

I know now that my babies can sleep just about anywhere once they are tired.  I learned that we all want to serve each other so much we are almost grateful for calamity just so we can say "I have this you can use, or eat, or have."

We make new friends and talk to people staring at the same empty shelves at the grocery store that should have milk but have nothing at all.  We ask "Do you have power yet?"  And they say "Oh no honey, we ain't got power or water.  We got a generator keepin' the fridge cold, but now there ain't no milk to put in it.  WalMart ran out of bottled water on the first day."  And then we say "God Bless.  Good luck," and we go back to our slightly disturbed, displaced lives and feel the heat, hoping that those two hundred electrical workers that came from out of state to fix everything remember our neighborhood.

The Rasmussens are all home now.  We are fine - no one hurt or harmed in any way.  The fourth of July brought fireworks and electricity in our sockets.  There are a few things that we need to have in order before the next encounter.  Like filling our water barrels, purchasing many batteries, candles, and maybe a generator.

Mostly I am grateful for the way a whole town becomes a familial refuge.  There is a House of York, a House of Lancaster - we are the House of Buena Vista, southern, rough, educated, blue collar, middle class, dirt poor, shirtless, well dressed, Mormon, Baptist, Episcopalian - but one house.  And I think our whole house has their lights back now.