Monday, December 31, 2012

Word Of The Year 2013: PEACE

And the winner is...


Although this wasn't actually on my list of contenders for WOTY, it's been something my husband have talked about over and over again. We need more peace in our lives and in our home. There are going to be a lot of changes in our lives in 2013, so this is going to be interesting, to say the the least.

From the blogs I follow:
Journey to Josie chose get down.
Laughing at Chaos chose enough.
Raising Lifelong Learners chose simplify.

And there are lots more here at one word 365 (a site I looked at this year for the first time).

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Packing Away 2012

When I was growing up, our Christmas decorations stayed up well into January. But now that I have a family of my own, things are definitely different. I still decorate at the beginning of December, but I can expect the inevitable question on December 26th from my husband, "When are you going to take the tree down?" And my answer is also unchanging, "Before the family party on the 31st."

Where I live, Christmas is a quiet holiday, while New Year's Eve is widely celebrated. On December 31st, we traditionally hold an all-family gathering at our house, which means 35+ adults, teens and children all squished into one medium-size space. Although not huge, our house is by far the largest in the family and therefore the default location. This means that we need every available inch, especially in the living/dining area, for our traditional midnight meal.

All of this is to explain why I have such strong motivation each year to take down my Christmas things before the New Year. I like to think of it as packing away the year, and it gives me a few quiet moments for reflection. This year I wonder what 2013 will hold for us. We plan on being in the U.S. for Christmas next year, and any time we make a country move, we can never be truly sure of our return date. When will I next unpack these Christmas ornaments?

Laughing at Chaos wrote a post today in response to a challenge - what did you do right in 2012? This thought intrigues me as well because I spend far more time dwelling on all of the things I do wrong, daily.

So with one day left to the year, here is my list:

1) Kept Raccoon home. I was seriously considering sending him to preschool this year and even went so far as to visit three different ones at different points in the year. But I could never quite commit to the decision, and looking back, it was best for him to be home. Will I feel the same in 2013? We'll see.

2) Baby Robin. Of course, this won't really be complete until she's home with us in 2013, but I'm glad that my second (and last, I think!) pregnancy is almost over. I hoped that we'd all be in a much better place by the time she was born (mostly in the sleeping department), but we'll just have to figure out this crazy family life together. Regardless, I wouldn't take back the decision to go for #2 no matter what.

3) Had my first regular alone time since Raccoon was born, three years ago. It started out more as an accident, I needed to do some tedious paperwork, so my husband offered to stay home with Raccoon for the first time ever. Raccoon had SEVERE separation anxiety, the kind that made the regular clingy-toddler-phase look fun. Add to this his exceptional memory, freak-out meltdowns, and ability to hold a grudge, and I don't blame my husband for not trying before. The first few times were hard (and short), but my paperwork dragged on and on, and eventually, week after week, Raccoon started to have fun. Today was the first time I ever left him under non-family adult supervision with some other kids at a neighborhood party for a few minutes and he didn't even miss me.  

4) Decided to let go and choose to be open to new possibilities in 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Introducing Siblings & Pictures

There was one idea that I forgot to mention in my previous post about how to help Raccoon adjust to the baby. (I also don't remember where I saw it, but it's not mine.) Since Raccoon doesn't remember all the attention he got as a baby, it's a great time to get out his baby pictures and show him how we did the same things for him that we'll do for Robin.

My computer also periodically reminds me that I have never backed up any of my photos from the last three years, so I'm combining this into a "make a special photo album for Raccoon and backup CD" project. Since Raccoon's "I hate pictures" phase started sometime after he turned a year old, I don't actually expect it to take too long for me to pick out my favorites from his first three years. We'll see if those are famous last words, as my mom would say. I have one more month before baby Robin comes and the nesting-I-have-to-get-everything-done-right-now instinct is finally starting to kick in. Here's a picture of Raccoon:


Moments after birth, October 13, 2009

Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Portraits

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

When I see one of those perfect studio family portraits, where even the toddlers sit still and smile, it drives me crazy. I admit that I'm jealous, but I also have an instant, negative reaction to apparent perfection. I love authenticity.

Any time my son sees a camera he throws his hands up in front of his face and yells, "No Mama, no camera. No pictures!" Wait, I thought that wasn't supposed to start till adolescence?! Because of this, smiling family photos (even if they are frequently blurry, just my luck!) are worth their weight in gold around here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

34 Weeks Pregnant

I had my latest appointment at almost 33 weeks. She has been doing acrobatics in my belly, so on my list of questions was to ask if the umbilical cord was around her neck. Sure enough, she's got one loop there. My doctor is very mellow and said it's not a problem. After I got home, I like to look at the ultrasound printout he gives me each visit because it shows what week she's measuring at and my estimated due date. Most of the measurements were at 34 weeks, but I noticed that one of the measurements was only at 30 weeks, her AC. After consulting with Dr. Google, turns out this is abdominal circumference.

When there is a significant discrepency between HC (head circumference) and AC, it can mean that the baby's growth is being restricted by something, and the condition is called IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). Generally this is determined by weight percentiles, and my doctor did say her weight is fine for her gestational age (4 lbs something), but IUGR can also be determined by measurements. I probably wouldn't have even thought anything of it, except that I'd just recently heard of it on another blog I follow.

My doctor said everything is fine and that she's doing beautifully, so right now this is all in my mind. I still felt very worried for the next few days after the appointment, because as I've mentioned before, I have been concerned (up until now without reason) about baby Robin during this pregnancy in a way that I never was with Raccoon. I just want everything to turn out well.

My next appointment is January 7th, but I may go in December 28th if my doctor is going to be in the office. In the meantime, I hope. I trust. And I continue to pray. As if to reassure me, baby Robin has been more active then ever the last few days. I feel like her foot is going to pop right out of my belly. But I welcome the reminder that she is there, and so far, all is well.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Is it 2013 yet?

Well, with several illnesses, allergy outbreaks, vehicle troubles, severe sleeplessness, financial questions, and just general chaos, this December has pretty much been a bust in terms of resting up before the baby comes in January (or early February). Today I was supposed to do a FlyLady update, but that's been a bust, too.

I was hoping to take Raccoon to several of our Christmas parties, to teach him about giving to those less fortunate to celebrate Christ. We ended up only making it to one place, where Raccoon promptly caught a horrible cold virus and we are now all on the verge of collapse. Sigh. Not exactly what I had in mind for a cheery Christmas.

My way of coping is to make a PLAN. So now, my new plan for 2013, at least January and February, is to STAY HOME. More and more I have been letting Raccoon eat things that he should not have with his allergies (like Christmas candy, pizza, cookies, lollipops, etc), because it is hard for me to constantly tell him no when we are out and about. I tell myself, "It'll be okay," but it is actually not okay. He gets rashes, fevers, doesn't sleep, and the list goes on. I need to adhere to his dietary restrictions, for the sake of all of us.

This means talking to the playgroup moms, again, and asking them to please not bring snacks he can't have. This means not eating out, anywhere. This means grocery shopping completely and on time each week so that I have alternatives to offer him. This means cutting out some easy meals I've come to rely on to fill in his limited diet. I hope that this also means a happier and healthier Raccoon who once again sleeps through the night (remember, that actually means only 6-7 consecutive hours).

Here's to trying again in the new year, which gives me 9 more days to contemplate my favorite Charlie Brown quote:

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong’.
Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.”
                                                                            ― Charles M. Schulz

Friday, December 21, 2012

Foody Friday

Seeing Raccoon eat and eat and eat, even if it is from his limited menu, is one of my greatest joys. I'd rather write about our rare days of triumph than the many, many days that we struggle with eating. More often than not, my days are consumed by food-related thoughts and questions as I keep a mental list of what I've offered and what has been eaten, played with, spit out, or totally rejeccted.

Has he eaten enough? Is he gaining weight? Is he growing? Is he getting enough variety? Did I remember to give him his acid reflux medication (twice a day) and his vitamins? Will he eat this, and can he, with all of his allergies? And if he does eat X, what consequences will we all suffer (crankiness, sleeplessness, tummyache, rash, hives)?

But yesterday I got a break from all the worrying. It was not only a good day, but awesome! which looks like this for Raccoon:

8 purple grapes (halved, no seeds)
mozzarella cheese (20-ish 1 cm cubes)
2 slices chicken ham (cut into squares)
1 medium apple (whole, although sometimes I slice it)
small bowl of noodles w/spaghetti sauce
1 c. herbal tea (lemongrass, also called hierba luisa)
1 raw carrot (quartered, half spit out, half went down, new!)
small bowl of rice w/ ketchup
1/2 filet white fish (broiled w/salt)
1/2 c. chocolate rice milk (new!)
several cups of water

I don't know how this compares to what an average 3 year old eats in a day, but for Raccoon, it's a huge amount of food and cause for celebration. With the exception of a few fruits and meat, this is also pretty much a list of the only foods (except for the two new items) we can count on him eating consistently.

Foody Friday is my way of sharing the struggles and joys of having a resistant eater, the category way beyond picky.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Even if I knew the world was ending tomorrow...

I'd still choose to be right here with you tonight, watching you sleep. Although if it were certain, I would have let you have more icecream today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Christmas Gift

For each of these little ones, a home of their own would be the perfect gift for this Christmas. My special prayers are for Lina, that just the right family would find her soon.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Haply I Think on Thee

When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
 I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

–William Shakespeare (Sonnet 29)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silent Sunday

Nothing today except some moments of silence to mourn with all of the families who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FlyLady Challenge - Week 2

So the only things that have stuck from Week 1 (31 Beginner Baby Steps) are:

* Day 1 - Shine your sink (I'm trying to do this every day, and the few days that I didn't I could see the depressing difference when I came down in the morning. I decided then and there that I'd rather wash dishes at night in an exhausted stupor than face them in the morning when my oomph is zero.)

* Day 6 - Do a 2 min Hot Spot clean (my dining room table, maybe I get to this every other day)

* Day 2 - Get dressed to shoes (surprisingly I've been doing this more once I'm up-up, and it's not bad)

On to Week 2!

New things for this week:

Day 9 - 5 minute room rescue (pick up any room)
Day 10 - 15 minute trash pick-up and 15 min read something for pleasure
Day 11 - Add an Inspiration page to control journal binder
Day 12 - Delete FlyLady e-mails
Day 13 - Do a zone mission
Day 14 - Read Kelly's info on calendar usage
Day 15 - Add making the bed to my morning routine

So this week has pretty much been a bust, except for Day 12, Day 14, and Day 15 (which I was already doing).

These are FlyLady's inspirational thoughts (Day 11):

•You can do anything for 15 minutes
•Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family
•You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

5 Christmas Wishes

Mama Pants over at The Family Pants posted her 5 Christmas wishes, and says, "I believe that when you speak your heart aloud, you create the possibility."

I really like that thought, so here are mine (in random order):

1) That 2013 is a year of peace for our family. We have been through a lot in the last few years and could use a joyful, easy, and wonderful year. How this will fit in with several possible moves, a new baby, and many other changes, I don't know, but that's why it's a wish, right?

2) Healthy pregnancies and take-home babies for some special mommas on my prayer list.

3) Time with my family.

4) Baby Robin, please be the most mellow baby ever to balance out your wonderful and, um, high maintainence brother. If you are (or aren't), we won't ever take you for granted, I promise. Also, if you could not have any allergies or acid reflux, that would be awesome.

5) I'd put something like "for my faith to grow" but that usually involves trials, so I'm too scared for that wish. But I would love it if the non-profit organization that my husband and I work for increased in financial stability and was able to reach more people with the good news of Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Loving the Hurt

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
Mother Teresa

"If I had my life to do over again... I'd find you sooner so I could love you longer."

Check out Zoey's update!!! I mentioned her story back in November and now she has a family. Woohooo!

And to add a random thought... The other day in the car, my husband and I were talking about how life had turned out differently than we expected. I mentioned that I wasn't really the person I thought I was and he replied, "Yeah, you're no Mother Teresa, you're more like Hilary Clinton."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Men and Crying Women

Okay, I confess. I read Yahoo! news. Mostly I just scan the headlines, but every now and then I click on an article. I just couldn't resist this one about cliches that are true. There is a reason for one of the secrets of the universe - why men can't stand women crying. You are curious too? Well, now you know.

"Cliché #4: Men get uncomfortable when women cry in front of them

Ask any guy how he feels about crying, and he’ll probably say that there’s nothing worse than seeing a woman reduced to tears in his presence. But men aren’t exactly being insensitive jerks; rather, their discomfort with tears has biological roots. A paper published in the journal Science found that female tears actually contain odorless chemicals that physically turn men off. When researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel had 24 men aged 23-40 sniff jars containing either female tears or several drops of a salt solution, then had them rate women’s faces for sexual attractiveness, 71 percent of the subjects who sniffed the female tears found the women to be less attractive. What’s more, men who took a whiff of the jar containing human tears showed reduced levels of arousal, a slower breathing rate, and lower levels of the male hormone, testosterone (which could explain why shedding a few tears around a man will make him agree to anything, as long as you stop)."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Here Comes a Sibling

I have been wondering lately how Raccoon will do with the new baby, once he figures out that she's here to stay. I hope to continue adding to this blog post as I find new ideas. So far, most of the ones I've come across have been for the first day, or at most week.

* Make sure you're not holding the baby the first time the older sibling sees you at the clinic, or when you come home

* Have a gift exchange between him/her and the new baby

* Expose your child to other newborns or young babies before your baby's birth

* Involve the older child in the baby's care (helping wipe, etc), or provide them with their own baby to change and feed

* Make the older child your helper (bring diapers, wipes, blanket, toys, etc)

* Let him or her be "the baby" for a while too with extra cuddles

* Tell the baby he/she has to wait a minute while you help your older child (from the book, Siblings Without Rivalry)

(Sorry, I can't remember where I saw all of these ideas, some are probably from BabyCenter, but they're not mine.)

These are some additional things I've thought of preparing ahead of time for the first month when I will be recovering from giving birth and (hopefully!) spending a lot of time in bed or resting:

* Activities Raccoon can do with me while I'm lying down - reading books, imaginary play, stickers, coloring/cutting, baggies with surprises

* Activities we can do while baby Robin nurses - play doh, trampoline (him not us!), snack time

* Things we can do with baby Robin (towards 1 m+)- bathtime with Raccoon in tub and her in a bouncy chair, tummy time, walks

And finally, there are things I hope to do to help them be friends as they grow up.

* Play together as a family

* Help them find common ground and things to enjoy together

* Communicate as a family

* Read Siblings Without Rivalry (I've seen some excerpts but want to read the whole book)

My only brother is 2.5 years older than I am, but we are different in so many ways that it was hard to find things we both liked to do. In elementary school, we played together some, mostly things like Monopoly, Legoes, and watching cartoons on Saturdays. Once he hit middle and high school, the gap between us grew and since then we've each had our separate lives. Books, movies and our parents were (and are) pretty much our only common ground.

I think each generation does the best it can, and I know that I'll make many mistakes (and already have) as a parent. But hopefully with each generation there is improvement, too. With Raccoon and Robin, my prayer is that they will talk to each other, trust each other, and have a strong bond that will last into their adult years.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Contenders for WOTY

What will my Word(s) of the Year be for 2013? This is my brainstorming list so far:

"Enjoy" - It is a follow-up to my December word, celebrate, but it's also more than that. Next year will bring change to our family, with many firsts and lasts. I want to savor the moments that my children are young, despite the craziness.

"Challenge" - I'm not sure exactly how this would evolve, but I realized in November (NaBloPoMo) and December (FlyLady) that I find challenges motivating and that I can surprise myself.

"Open" - I need to work on being myself openly. If I choose this as my theme, I would also focus on being open to new things, open to change, and open to believing that good things are coming.

"Simplify" - When I feel exhausted, I think about this. It feels like there isn't much more I can cut out of my life right now, but this year, as things (hopefully!) improve, I'm sure I'll face the temptation to take on more and more.

P.S. Today is my dear hubby's birthday. I married my best friend, and now, 11 years later, he is still the one who is always by my side. I love you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Robin

As much as I wonder how I will manage with two, I am impatient to hold you, to discover what you are like, and to have you safely here. Two more months. You still have so much growing to do. I know that you wiggle like crazy when I get close to the heat of the stove, or when I tell Raccoon bedtime stories. If he leans on my belly, you kick him right back. You get the hiccups and move a lot, but I like the reminder that you're having a good time in there.

I have been so tired and overwhelmed lately that I haven't been grateful enough. I didn't think that I would ever be pregnant again, yet here I am, and here you are. No matter what, you are an amazing miracle, and I am so thankful for you. I do want to enjoy each moment, since two months will go by in a blink. Your brother is three years old already, that's how I know that time really does fly.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

FlyLady Challenge - Week 1

See this post for Days 1-3. These are based on the FlyLady's 31 Beginner Baby Steps, a plan for better household management.

Day 4 - Write my list so far on a sticky note and put in my bathroom and kitchen.

Since one of my goals is to see if these things make a difference to my husband, I don't really want to put it all out there. So I modified this to: Day 4 - Keep track of my progress by blogging. Although looking at my actually success/failure below, perhaps I do need a list somewhere I can see it every day.

Day 5 - Turn the ugly words in your head into something positive. In terms of housekeeping, for me this would be from "You'll never be good enough," to "I can do this!" Maybe I should put that on a sticky note instead.

Day 6 - Put out your Hot Spot for two minutes. Or in other words, work on keeping it clutter-free for two minutes a day. For me, this is my dining room table.

Day 7 - Pick out your clothes for tomorrow. This is a iffy one. Do I really want/need this habit?

Day 8 - Write down your morning and before-bed routines. This would be great, if I had any. I don't even have a fixed bedtime, just snatching sleep here and there whenever (and as much!) as I can. But as she says, this is a work in progress. So far, I have three things on my morning list and two on my before bed list.

End of week 1 - my modified list:

1) Shine your sink
2) Get dressed in the morning.
3) Read FlyLady e-mails.
4) Blog about it.
5) Tell myself, "I can do this!"
6) De-clutter Dining Room Table (my Hot Spot)
7) Choose clothes for tomorrow.
8) Write down morning/before bed routines.

#1 - I thought that this one at least would be a great thing to do every day in December. I did great for the 1st-4th, then the 5th and 6th I sort of did it (does a 2 am washing count when I was up for a few hours with Raccoon?).
#2 - Mostly, but not right when I get up. Unless my husband is off to work early, I hang on to the hope that I might be able to go back to bed.
#3 - I unsubscribed to the e-mails because what I had in mind was one or two with a goal or task for the day, but there were easily 10 about all sorts of things. Sorry, too many for me!
#4 - Check.
#5 - Forgot.
#6 - Um, once or twice this week?
#7 - Nope.
#8 - Check.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Foody Friday

When I think back on my childhood, I don't feel like I was a selective eater (like my son). But upon reading this post I had to rethink things, especially after the last line, "Next time your cousin or co-worker shows up to a get together around food claiming she already ate, don’t judge.  Show her where the rolls are and don’t question what she eats." I remember my mom saying that I lived on rolls and plain noodles with butter whenever we were away from home, which - due to my parent's jobs - was every weekend from when I was 6 to almost 9 years old. My mom also says we were a remarkably picky family, but it didn't necessarily seem like it because she only made things we would eat.

According to the above post, there are 3 factors involved in selective eating, and Raccoon has them all. No wonder we struggle!

Physical - Does the subject have environmental or food allergies? Does the subject have an acute sense of smell or taste? Yes and yes.

Sensory (Neurological) - Sensory issues? Yes. Super sensitive to texture? Yes. Are "safe foods" brand specific? Oh boy.

Psychological  - Reflux or digestive disorders? Yes and yes.

Around middle school, I remember suddenly liking many more things (such as tomatoes and beans), so I'm holding on to hope for my son.

Foody Friday is my way of sharing the struggles and joys of having a resistant eater, the category way beyond picky.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa and the Pidwidgen

I love Christmas traditions - decorating the tree, making/frosting sugar cookies, lighting candles for Advent, hanging stockings, and lots more. This year has been even more fun now that Raccoon is old enough to join in. He doesn't stay on task long, but it gives me a glimpse of years to come.

One of my favorite family traditions is Advent. My mom would wrap a little something for my brother and I to open each night, along with reading us something special. One year, she pulled out a newspaper story that she'd cut out as a child called Santa and the Pidwidgen. It's just a silly story about how Santa Claus supposedly came to be, but my brother and I loved it. Sitting around the tree, listening to her voice and laughing together, it was magical. Years ago, my mom made a copy for me and I have kept it in my Christmas box ever since.

This year, with Raccoon's new love of stories, I thought it would be the perfect time to start. So far, we've followed Claus far from his home to the Sopchoppy Ferry and to Elfland, where he's picked up a sidekick, Patrick Tweedleknees. Tomorrow he faces a giant.

I don't really have a point, I just wanted to share a happy Christmas memory from the past and the one in the making.

Edited to add: I Can Teach My Child had a guest post today from 1+1+1=1 (the same place where I link up my homeschool blog for Tot School) about Favorite Family Traditions. Jenae says, "I firmly believe that traditions help shape our children’s memories of their childhood and draw us closer together as a family." Aha! I knew there was a reason Santa and the Pidwidgen deserved a post.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I saw this news article about a dog who adopted three tiger cubs, and it was a good reminder that sometimes, anything is possible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas with you in Heaven

I'm looking forward to following Small Bird Studios'

I have wallet-size photos of SB, N, and J, but I haven't decided whether I want to put each one on an ornament, a stocking, a candle, or something else. I am going to make a color copy so that if I mess up it is not the end of the world. Below is the pictures I plan to use of SB.

SB (11 months old)
b. 7/17/05 
came to us 6/06
d. 7/28/07

N (5 years old)
b. 8/03, came to us 6/07, left 12/08
adopted 7/09

J (3.5 years old)
b. 12/04, came to us 6/07, left 12/08
adopted 7/09

Ultimately, I am not sad that N and J were adopted, because I believe it was by a loving, Christian family. What I mourn is that they are no longer part of my life. I wish that I had done things differently so that we could have been their forever family. I miss them; I would like to know how they are doing; I pray for them often; and I hope that they are happy.

I am including all three of "my girls" here because I want to celebrate their lives and the time they spent with us. I also want Raccoon and baby Robin to grow up knowing their stories.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I am always trying to teach Raccoon to persevere since he gets frustrated very easily. My dad put this on facebook, and I'm posting it here so I can find it when Raccoon is older.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

My FlyLady Challenge Begins

She calls them 31 Beginner Baby Steps, but I figured if I rephased it, I'd be more likely to do it - kind of like a cleaning NaBloPoMo. She says, "Our FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot." I'm not sure if this will actually work for me, or if December is the best time to start, but carpe diem.

So yesterday, Day 1 - Shine your sink. Of course this is just a sneaky way of saying do the dishes before bed so you wake up to a clean kitchen.

Mission accomplished.

Today, Day 2 - Get dressed to lace-up shoes when you first get up in the morning, including doing your hair and face.

This one I'm not sure about, since I frequently go back to bed if I can. Raccoon only sleeps about 7 hours a night (and still wakes up in the middle), so my husband - a morning person - often lets me have a little more sleep after I get Raccoon settled with his breakfast and cartoons. Also, neither Raccoon nor I wear shoes inside. Therefore I shall modify this to:

Day 2 - Get dressed (including hair, face, and teeth) every morning and pick out my shoes for the day.

This isn't much of a change since I already do it (mostly), but if I could just get these habits to stick with Raccoon. Currently, any one of those 4 things is like trying to fight WWIII. We'll see how it goes.

Tomorrow, Day 3 - Explore the FlyLady's BigTent group. I watched the welcome video and clicked on a few tabs. I honestly wasn't that impressed with the way it navigates, but what I'm mostly interested in are the daily e-mails, which have all the content of the "news" section anyway.

Because this is a cumulative challenge, my daily list now looks like:

1) Shine your sink.
2) Get dressed in the morning.
3) Read the FlyLady e-mails.

Stay tuned for Days 4-8, coming on Saturday!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Muddy Joy

In my journal, I whine write too much about the hard things. I won't lie, they are there. But I also want my child(ren) to know the wonder that I felt watching them grow up. Things like Raccoon's hand searching for me in the night (Mama?) and his sleepy contentment simply to be in my presence.

Yesterday there was magic amidst the mundane; I want to burn it into my memory. Raccoon was so brave, falling and getting up, mud in his eyes, on his face and covering his hands. Delight. It was cold, of course I was worried he'd get sick, but it was a moment that we both let everything go. Just to be. Pure joy.

Today is December 1st. As 2012 is winding down, I have chosen a new word for this month:


If you'd like to see more pictures of our November good times, check out my monthly post in the "Moments to Remember" series on my homeschool blog.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I am... Finished

with NaBloPoMo!!!

I'd better say Merry Christmas to everyone now since I may not be back until the new year, ha ha. Like a lot of things in life, I'm glad I did it, and also glad it's over.


On a more somber note. Exactly four years ago I sent N and J to school in the morning and in the afternoon, they were picked up by someone else, never to be mine again. It is a painful memory, but this morning I had the sweetest dream. I got to see them as young ladies and tell them so many things that have been stored in my heart these four years.

I hope my Christmas wish comes true this year, that finally, I will hear news of them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I am... That Mom

I took Raccoon to visit a preschool today. With the baby coming and all, I thought he might like to have a few hours a week where he gets to run around and play with other children. He's a bit of a hermit, although oddly enough he seems to have some qualities of an extrovert as well. At least in the sense that he wants my or my husband's attention all the time. Does he need time away from us, or at least time with other children? The socialization question has been bothering me recently.

The place we visited was the same preschool that I used for N and J during their time with us, so there were a lot of bittersweet memories going through my head this morning. One of the staff members is still the same and it felt surprisingly good to catch up, even though I don't have any news about the girls. Just having someone know about them and that they were in my life was nice.

Why am I thinking of sending him to preschool? (Goals)
* For him to realize that other children are not always a threat and can be fun
* To improve his second language (he understands it but doesn't speak it and this is increasingly becoming an obstacle with my husband's family)
* I am exhausted with the pregnancy and Raccoon not sleeping, so honestly, I could use a break

I loved this post about being "That Mom." I know that's what the teacher was thinking, that Raccoon is the way he is because I am overprotective. Maybe yes, and maybe no. Except for a few hours he's spent with my husband while I ran errands, I have been there for every minute of his life. Exhausting? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. Have my husband and I ever gone somewhere together and left him? Um, no. But only because we've never found a babysitter who can handle him, family member or not. Is he really that intense? Yes.

I think when you have a child with special needs, especially "invisible" ones like SPD, it is easy to get labeled as a helicopter parent. I realize that I am helping Raccoon function at home in ways that the teacher will not because most children his age don't require that kind of support. Can they cope with his perfectionism, his need-to-know, his easy frustration, his sensory overload? I am not sure, and I suspect that the only way to find out is to dive in.

Now the question is, am I actually going to send him there or not?

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I am... Curious

I once heard someone say something like, "I'm curious about things that I'm not even interested in," and the phrase stuck with me, because I also have a raging sense of curiosity. I especially like hearing people talk about things they are passionate about, even if it's not a topic I find interesting independently. This is why I took AP Biology in high school, simply because I enjoyed the teacher's enthusiasm. Lately I've been wondering...

1) How can my son and I get the same amount of sleep (7 hours on a good night and a 2 hour nap), but he's raring to go all day and I am barely conscious?

2) How do people just let go of the mistakes they've made, you know, the really big ones?

3) Why does the kitchen light sometimes work for me and sometimes not, yet it unfailingly turns on for my husband?

4) Why do weird things happen to me? When I come home with stories, my husband just shakes his head and sighs, as if somehow everything must be my fault because nothing out of the ordinary ever happens to him.

5) Where do all of my lost things go? If misplacing things was an art form, then I'd be at 42 instead of 41 on my bucket list. The house I currently live in is like the Bermuda Triangle for random objects. I am currently looking for my engagement ring (the stone fell out so I put it "somewhere safe" until I could get the sapphire replaced), my cookie cutters, most of my socks, and other odd things.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I am... Praying

for this little girl, Zoey, to find a family. Zoey was one of the names I considered for baby Robin, and her story makes my heart ache. She is currently at an ophanage in Bulgaria, 6 years old and weighs 10 pounds.

What a world we live in. I am speechless.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bucket List

So how many things on this list have you done? Mine are in bold - 41 so far.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Don't ask my why there are just 99, I don't know. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Weeks Pregnant

I really like my doctor at the birth clinic. I found him when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Raccoon and very stressed out about the whole pregnancy experience/birth process. He's confident, soothing, and capable. Some people aren't in favor of extra ultrasounds, but I love(d) seeing my babies at every appointment. I got a 3-D picture of Robin this time, and it was amazing to see her little face. It makes it so real. I have to say though, she seems to look a lot like her brother, but with more cheeks. I have this feeling that she's going to be a chunky monkey. Her current estimated weight is 1643 g (+/- 240 g) or 3.6 lbs.

Of course my boy would get those convenient skinny genes from his dad and my little girl the chubby ones from me. Ever since we started dating I was hoping it would be the other way around, but sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Only 10 more weeks to go. I'm glad Christmas is in the middle because I know the time will fly with decorating, shopping, parties, and family gatherings.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I am... in a Christmas mood

What with one thing and another, I have not really enjoyed Christmas much for the last few years. But this year, I am feeling a glimmer of the holiday spirit. On Thanksgiving, I really missed being with my family, so instead Raccoon and I put up our Christmas decorations, everything except the tree.

One and two were fun, but so far, having him be three years old this year is my favorite. He unwrapped my Christmas village buildings with me and helped me set up the creche. Those were always my two favorite things to do when I was growing up. He also asked to read our special Christmas books that only come out once a year, and he sat through all of them. We ended our Christmasy day with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (cartoon) while we ate lunch. Knowing that next year, Lord willing, we'll have a 10 month old toddling around making a mess has inspired me to try some things with Raccoon this year that we may not be able to do next year.

I'm not sure what I want to do for SB, N, and J, but just the freedom to include their memories this year makes me feel better, since I won't have to spend my energy on trying not to think about them. I know that I want to include some small pictures I have of them that I have been carrying around in my wallet, perhaps on a special ornament or by a miniature tree with a candle.

I am also thinking about what I want to do this year for some special children I know. Whenever I feel down, I think about reaching out, a sure way to cheer myself up and help someone else, too. My husband and I have decided not to do gifts for each other, so we'll have a little bit of money for special things. Raccoon will have presents under the tree, but I want him to be involved in giving to others this year as well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Foody Friday

On Sunday, I didn't know what to offer Raccoon for supper, so I ended up doing one thing at a time. Surprisingly, it worked really well. First he drank some freshly squeezed orange juice, then he at a large piece of fish, then he ate half an apple and a few pieces of avocado. The avocado is new and I put it on the plate with his apple just for exposure. I was so surprised he actually ate it 3 of 4 pieces!! Later he at some of my rice and hamburger, which is also new and only acceptable sporadically.

I usually put everything on separate plates, but on his little table all at the same time. I think I'll try the progressive dinner idea more often.

The good news is that Raccoon has gained a pound this month, despite being sick for most of it. He weighs 29 pounds, so we're almost into the 30s!!! He weighed 21 pounds as a one year old, so it has taken us a loooooong time to get here.

And I just have to say, seeing him sit down and eat a good meal, without a single "No thank-you, Mama," is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Foody Friday is my way of sharing the struggles and joys of having a resistant eater, the category way beyond picky.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am... Wishing

with all my heart that I could be with my family on Thanksgiving.

It is just another day here. My husband will be working, and Raccoon and I will be home alone. But I am looking forward to my mom's visit in February to help out with baby Robin. Maybe I can convince my dad to come too.

Looking forward, looking back, I find it hard to stay in the moment. So this isn't very original but it is still important. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:

*my family
*warm weather

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feel Better Protocol

Different bad day reasons, but I really liked the idea. Here's mine:

*Take a shower, as hot and long as possible
*Afterwards, dress in something frivolous
*Snuggle up to a movie with Raccoon
*Try to let go of the feeling that I am the worst mother ever
*Remember that tomorrow, or this afternoon, or this evening, or just right now, can be a new beginning
*Call a friend, or my mom
*Get out of the house the next day

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Goldilocks Day

Today we are stuck in yes-no-too-much-not enough land. Raccoon seems caught between baby and little boy, making everything a wrong fit.

"I want to be an Indian." I help him put on his headdress which he immediately tears off and throws to the ground.

"I want you to paint my face." I do and he wipes it off immediately, as if I'm torturing him.

"I want to play boat." Throws a fit that our boat is too small, rejects every idea for how to build a different boat.

Then we cycle back to #1 "I want to be an Indian," as if I'm stopping him from fulfilling his destiny.

Yesterday was a whiny day. Today started off better, but quickly descended into whiny land once again. I try to remind myself that he whines when he doesn't feel good, when he's tired, or when everything is just too much. I pray and ask the Lord to give me strength. Not patience (I don't want more trials, thank you very much), but endurance, grace, mercy. To not raise my voice. To not sit on the couch and cry with him after a morning of "everything's wrong." To figure out something reasonable for lunch, now that we've eaten all the ice cream and chips.

And one last prayer for the day, "Please, Lord, let today have a naptime in it."

Monday, November 19, 2012

I am... Reflecting

A new year is coming up.
   I am almost done being 30.
      I will soon go from one to two kids.
         I'm wondering what life theme I should pick for next year.
            My words of the year for 2012 were "do it now," mostly referring to cleaning.
                  What do I want to change as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, and just for me?

I wish I could write extensively about each of these, but my toddler did not nap today and we are both fading quickly. So instead it's off to french fry land for supper and then early to bed, I hope.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I am... Happy

Having a very active three year old around doesn't leave me much time for thinking during the day. But during the temporary quiet of naptime, my thoughts come tumbling out. I take advantage of the quiet to do my devotions and lately I have been reading Psalms. David talks often of God giving us our heart's desire (Ps 20:4, Ps 21:2), and today I had the surprising thought that, right now, I am happy with my life.

Of course there are things in the past that I wish I could change, things that I still mourn, and things I am waiting for, but at the same time, I am grateful and blessed. God has given me my heart's desire with baby Robin, and I am finally looking forward again instead of just back. Today, I celebrate.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I am... Hoping

There is a mocking voice in my head that says, "What made you think you could handle two kids?" As my due date approaches, the voice is getting louder and louder. Sometimes, especially late at night, I give in to fear, but I mostly try to respond with hope.

I hope that baby Robin will:

*be a mellow baby
*take to nursing easily
*sleep well right from the start
*not have any food or other allergies
*not feel like she has to keep up with her big brother
*and maybe I'll put sleep on the list again, just to emphasize it's importance
*be patient (I add this to my list after dealing with a full day of meltdown after meltdown)

For Raccoon, I hope that I will be amazed at how well he handles having a little sister.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I am... Counting

my blessings
the days until Christmas
the weeks until baby Robin is here
the months until I see family next summer
how many pregnancy pounds I've gained so far
the moments I have left with just Raccoon and me
Raccoon's toys
NaBloPoMo posts

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I am... Dreaming

of a white Christmas... but no snow for us this year. Next year hopefully we'll be spending Christmas in the States with family, so Raccoon and Robin will get to see snow then.

I went to the library yesterday, and my books aren't due back until December. What!? I've been so busy with things (being sick mostly) that the holidays have snuck up on me this year. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, so at the stores it's straight from back-to-school decorations in September to Christmas things in October, but I wait until December to put up our tree.

I'm looking forward to following this...

and doing some things this year in memory of my three girls in December.

The only thing I want for Christmas is a happy month of family celebrations, and to have my baby girl safely in my arms after the New Year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I am... Anticipating

(in random order)

*hair bows
*less one-on-one time with Raccoon, sweetening our time together now
*putting up our Christmas tree
*Christmas chocolates
*New Year's Eve family time
*even less sleep than usual after the New Year
*pink baby clothes
*big boy shoes
*my first solo outing with two kids
*nursing again
*the first very bad, horrible day with two
*falling in love with another little person
*watching Raccoon grow into being a big brother
*infancy being easier this time around
*the moment we share her name with everyone
*family wrestling - two kids against Daddy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am... like Charlie

Am I talking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? No, but who wouldn't want to live next to a chocolate waterfall!

I'm talking about the Charlie from Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by L.M. Alcott. I read her books as a young girl, and her description of one of the cousins, Charlie, as he lay dying has always stayed with me. Alcott wrote, "But Charlie bore it manfully; for he had the courage which can face a great danger bravely, though not the strength to fight a bosom-sin and conquer it." He could face the big things in life like death with courage and heroism, it was the little things that were his undoing.

This is me. I am always looking for the next big thing. I can do the big gestures, make the big sacrifices, but I get stuck in the mundane parts of life. Big things inspire me, bring out the best in me, but to faithfully follow through day after day with duty and the mundane... I struggle. 

I definitely am - or was? - a "fool's rush in" kind of gal. There is a cost for all things and so far I've had to pay far more than I could afford. I now have heart-debts that will never completely go away. There are still moments when I want to jump in, but I have changed, matured... become afraid. There are moments when I still long to do great things, but doubt paralyzes me.

If my plans are not of the Lord, they will fail. I know this full well. I just keep feeling the Lord telling me to wait, and I am afraid that my life will be like Sarah's, on hold for 25 years. Like me, she didn't want to wait and now we have an enduring conflict between two peoples, descendants of Ismael and Isaac. How long must I wait? I am afraid that I will not be useful to the Lord until I am old. Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God called him at 80. Oh dear. Jesus started at 30, that makes me feel a little more hopeful, but King David never got to do what he wanted the most, to build God's temple. And some people only ever did one big thing, that we know of at least - Gideon, Esther, Noah. Was God pleased with what they did for the rest of their lives? I wonder.

I love my child(ren). I am blessed to be able to stay at home. I am grateful for all that I have been given, and for second chances. Despite this, all the good I know I have, life still seems bleak to me sometimes. My current life is great, yet I never imagined this being it. I am used to having a big dream to hold onto to get me through the have-to-do things, but now I have none.

If there is something else out there for me to do, what am I supposed to be doing while I wait?

The answer that keeps coming back to me is all those little things, exactly what I struggle with the most. I think of the verse (Luke 19:17) that says something like, "he who is faithful in little will be given much." Why should I expect the "much" when on some days I can't even successfully manage with the little I have? My husband asks me this all the time. I don't know the answer to that, since logically there is none. All I do know is that there is a yearning in my soul for more.

Because that's my real question, right? If it's not big, it's not enough? I've known the Lord since I was little, am the daughter of parents in full-time ministry, have been waiting to grow up all my life so I could finally do something, then messed up when I had the chance. Where are the masses I should have led to Christ? I look back and there is nobody there.

What's that, Lord... You delight in me... me?

Perhaps there is still something big left in my future, but I don't need to do it to earn God's approval. I am already accepted, already loved.

But I wanted to make You proud, Lord.

He whispers to my soul, "I already am, dear daughter of mine."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dear Robin

Raccoon needs you to be his little sister. He needs you to show him that messing up is okay. That he is able to do so many things. That he's no longer the smallest, but is strong and capable. I can't wait to add you to our family, little one. Hiccups and all.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

28 Weeks Pregnant

Or 30, depending on various factors and two different doctor opinions. But I'm sticking with 28 since I'd rather have her "early" than "late."

How has this pregnancy been different than my first? I feel like everything has been earlier - feeling her move (10 wks!), heartburn, feeling huge, not sleeping, the waddle, prego brain fog... I'm still waiting for the "pregnant glow," although my mom did say I look well, but I'm not sure mom-comments count. Everyone else has pretty much stuck to variations of the "You don't look that pregnant..." except for my husband who affectionately calls my belly "his little mountain." During Raccoon's pregnancy I called myself "the whale," because seriously, I was that huge, and looked like I was carrying a tire around my waist instead of a cute baby belly.

We have finally declared a truce picked a name. Now just for spelling and fine-tuning the pronunciation between two languages.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I am... Relieved

Raccoon has been sick for forever two weeks now and our whole family is exhausted. He had an allergy flare-up (too much junk food at the end of October) and then he developed croup. We are just starting to get back to normal and his sleeping is still off. My husband and I have been taking turns during the night every 2-3 hours (can I just say how much I love that man in a crisis). When I got up around 5 am on Tuesday morning, Raccoon seemed so sick that it really scared me. My husband was holding Raccoon the same way he used to hold SB, and Raccoon was lying there so limply with such a blank stare, that I had a terrifying flashback. He perked up when he saw me and wanted me to tell him a story, but I couldn't get the words out. I was crying and didn't want him to notice as he was snuggled up in my arms. I try not to think about it, but I don't know how I would survive if I lost him too.

I have recently started reading this blog, one of seventeen, and she wrote a post called the fear factor that really resonates with me, although her loss is much more recent. Lori wrote a similar post on her blog awhile ago when one of her sons was sick. There is so much I could say, but others have said it first and better, so I won't write it all out again. I do agree that after losing a loved one - especially a child - I think the anxiety about whomever we have left is so much more intense.

Today he is almost back to his spunky, jumpy, mischievous self, and as exasperating as that can be sometimes, it is a huge relief to see him feeling better.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I am... Still Home

Well, today we were supposed to be traveling to the beach. But Raccoon has been pretty sick this week, so we've put off our trip once more.

I wanted this to be us -

But since this was more likely given the last week or so, we decided to stay home.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I am... Living Overseas

As you could probably tell from yesterday's post, I do not currently live in the United States, although I was born there. I like this post that talks about raising children overseas. I also partially grew up overseas (from 10 years old on), so I think of some things from a child's point of view. And now that I am a mother raising my own child overseas, there are other things I wonder about.

* Raccoon is growing up bilingual
* The richness and diversity that surrounds us
* Climate - year round warm temps

* I miss my extended family, especially my parents.
* Sometimes I wish I could count on little things working the way they're "supposed" to, such as running hot water and my printer.
* Those body image comments, yup, could live without those

Good and Bad
* We are surrounded by beauty but also incredible poverty. Raccoon will not have a life insulated from human suffering and need.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I am... Fat

I was at a park with my son recently and I had the following conversation with a complete stranger (note: I live in a country where personal comments are not seen as inappropriate).

Her: Is he your only son?
Me: Yes, and one on the way.
Her: How much time do you have left?
Me: Three months.
--She looks at me again, slowly.--
Her: Oh, I didn't notice that you were pregnant, I thought you were just fat.

And a few days earlier, I was visiting somewhere I haven't been for 6 months or more. This is a recreation of the conversation I had with the guard.

Him: How are you? Anything new?
Me: I'm pregnant.
Him: Congratulations. I could tell that you're a lot heavier than the last time I saw you. I'm glad it's because you're pregnant and not just fatter.

Okay, so here's the thing. When pregnant with Raccoon, I gained 40 pounds total, and so far I've only gained about 24 pounds with baby Robin, but apparently this time around I look bigger? Even my husband thinks I'm as big at 6 months with baby Robin as I was at 9 months with Raccoon. I had to look at pictures tonight to see for myself... it might be true. That and I have the same squarish belly.

One more thing to make you say, huh? Raccoon weighs exactly the same on my home scale and the doctor's scale. Exactly. But I, on the other hand, weigh 10 pounds more at the doctor's office! Not just one or two, but ten. How is this possible?!

Totally not important in the grand scheme of things, but it's NaBloPoMo, so I had to write about something, right? :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I am... So Sleepy

This post has been hanging out in my head for quite awhile. As I've mentioned before, Raccoon is not a good sleeper, and has never slept much, even as an infant. He's NEVER techincally "slept through the night" (8+ hour stretch) and July of this year was the first time he stayed asleep for more than 3 hours consecutively. Since then, his sleep has gradually improved and now he does a 6 to 7 hour stretch at night and then is ready to get up. My mom says I should put him to bed earlier, but as a night person, I have chosen my preferred 7 hours for sleeping - midnight to 7 am. Maybe 8 am if I'm lucky. At playgroup, my friends console themselves with the thought, "Well, at least Z sleeps more than Raccoon." I am not whining (well, maybe a little), but wanted to paint a picture of my recent relationship with sleep.

Along the way, I have collected a few thoughts and decided to put them all in one place, since in three months more, I imagine that sleep will be even more scarce for awhile.

* I don't need as much as I thought I did.
* Lying down (while we play) helps me to feel better even if I can't sleep.
* What I tell myself often - "Sooner or later, I will sleep again, probably later."
* Having something to look forward to helps me to forget how tired I am.
* If he's sleeping, I'm sleeping. I sometimes do a quick clean (15 min) or journal a bit, but at naptimes, I try to lie down within 30 minutes of him falling asleep.
* I try to accept however much I am given - gratefully - whether it's 10 min or 2 hours, because no matter how long it was, it's probably not going to feel like it was enough anyway.
* How much sleep I actually get may or may not have anything to do with how I feel when I wake up. Sometimes 6 hours feels great while 10 (cumulative not consecutive) can leave me wanting more.
*He can't stay up forever.
*I just have to make it through today.

My frequent prayer whenever I lie down is, "Please Lord, help me to feel rested and to have a good attitude about it, no matter much sleep I actually get." Sometimes I still have to count to 10 before I get up, but in general, I am much more accepting of my interrupted sleep now than I was three years ago. (Just ask dear hubby what happened if he woke me up when we were first married!!!)

How do other people cope with chronic exhaustion? Tips?

Monday, November 5, 2012

I am... Amazed

at how much my baby has grown up between 2 and 3 years old. Some things I'm celebrating:

* After co-sleeping with us since he was an infant, Raccoon moved to his own bed in April and has never looked back. Dear Uncle R., I will be forever grateful to you for the Cars air mattress and sleeping bag at your house the nights we slept over, which were the catalyst for this unexpected development.

* Potty training - I'm still amazed when he stops playing and takes himself off to successfully take care of business. It's so much less work now <huge sigh of relief>.

* I weaned him at 35 months old. I don't share this much since most people thought he was already weaned long before that (towards the end we only nursed privately at home). With all of his allergies, eating struggles, and meltdowns, it was still a necessary part of our lives until recently. I'm very proud of him for this particular "big boy" transition.

* Although we still deal with daily meltdowns, they are less frequent and intense. He can tolerate so many more things now than he used to. Bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, washing his face and hands, grocery shopping, doing errands, riding in the car... all these things are slowly becoming less of a struggle. His imagination has really taken off this year, and part of the way he processes things when the world is too much is to help me make up stories about his favorite imaginary friends, Peter (a little boy) and Jon (a dragon), who have to deal with similar struggles.

What will I write about next year, what will he accomplish between 3 and 4? Whatever it is, I know that another year with you, my little man, will be equally amazing.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday

I had a different post scheduled for today, but upon discovering that today is Orphan Sunday, I knew that was more important.

For a very eye-opening post about orphans in need, go here. One of my favorite explanations (also from that same blog) is this: "We are not all called to adopt children. But the Bible is as clear as daylight--we are commanded to care for the orphan (James 1:27). "Caring" looks different for every single one of us. Some are called to go. Some are called to help. Some are called to support. Some are called to encourage. And some are called to give!"

Even though my heart wishes to do more, for today I am trying to spread the word and also praying for the many children I know of who are waiting for families.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I am... Grateful

Despite how hard the last three years (and more) have been, I am grateful. I am blessed. November is a great month for thankfulness. Sometimes I can get too focused on the negatives and forget to appreciate the good things in my life. So today, I am grateful that:

* I have an amazing three year old son
* Baby Robin moves around so much, reassuring me that she's okay.
* I am still married.
* I have a house, food, clothes, and all those other material things.
* Jesus saves.
* Christmas is coming! I finally feel ready to celebrate this year. I might even put up my decorations early.
* I recently organized all of Raccoon's things, so our living room no longer looks like a toy depot and we can actually sit on our couches.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Foody Friday

On Tuesday, I felt very successful when I put down a fairly balanced meal on my son's table for lunch. Melon pieces on one plate, meat pieces on another, and noodles with spaghetti sauce in a bowl. He likes it all separate so that if he doesn't want something, I can take it away without it touching his other food. When I actually saw him eating something off each plate, I think I heard angels singing. I just wanted to celebrate this victory, hooray!

p.s. I can't believe it's November already!!!

Foody Friday is my way of sharing the struggles and joys of having a resistant eater, the category way beyond picky.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I am...

going to do it!

I've been thinking about joining National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), and there are so many things I want to capture right now that I've decided to jump in. I am planning on a series of posts that start with "I am..." mixed with some of my usual randomness as well.

Today's post -

I am a mother of five.

When people find out that I'm having a girl, they often say something like, "That's perfect, one of each." This bothers me, although I don't say anything because I know that most of them have no idea. I will never have the "perfect" family because my first three little girls are gone. As another mama put it at the end of her third pregnancy (her first daughter died at birth): "Somehow even this far in it doesn't seem real, or possible, to end in a place where our family is complete. Perhaps that's because we'll always be a partial circle, never closed, always reaching across a gap where she should be."

Raccoon was walking hand in hand with two of his older cousins the other day and I thought - this is what our family should have looked like. Raccoon should be both a younger and older brother. I'm not sure how exactly we would have survived the craziness, but I still wish it had been so.

It has been five years since SB died, and four years since N and J went home with another family. If things had turned out differently, we would have had a 9, almost 8, 7 and 3 year old for the holidays this year. The assumption seems to be that I'm "over them," especially now that I'm having a girl, but this year I'm breaking the silence. I still miss all three of them. I wish they were here.

I found some of SB's hair cream the other day and when I smelled it, I felt like it had only been five minutes since the last time I pulled her springy curls into pigtails. Doing their hair is one of my favorite memories for all three of my girls, but especially N. How she loved her mirror time! Raccoon sometimes wears a jacket that belonged to J, and my memories of her wearing it at 3 are so bittersweet. I met someone who remembered SB and spoke her name last week. I have decided that I will be speaking their names this year, and telling Raccoon their stories.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Parenting the Child I Have

I found this quote recently and loved it.

"Parent the child you actually HAVE. Not the one you "think" you have, the one you 'wish' you had, or the one OTHER people think you should have."

It reminds me of this quote from Joan Ryan, which I found here.

"Motherhood is about raising the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding he's exactly the person he's supposed to be. And that, if you're lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be."

Watching Raccoon play in the park tonight, I just can't get over how much like a big boy he looks, and how much he's changed this year. Each year I've looked forward to watching him grow, but I think the changes between three and four are going to be the most surprising yet. He's overcome so many of his fears, such as loud noises. He can even use the hand dryer in public bathrooms now without freaking out and he asked to leave a crowded area today for a more quiet one. Despite the bad moments (when will he sleep?!), I am full of hope for our future. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Words I Needed to Hear

Raccoon slept for four hours this afternoon. We have had a rough two weeks with his sleeping, more than our usual state of sleeplessness. So I should have been sleeping as well, but I woke up after an hour or so and couldn't get back to sleep. I am not a worrier in general, but I was feeling particularly anxious about some family things. I started to blog surf to get my mind off things, aimlessly wandering around from post to post. I finally figured out that I was looking for good news somewhere to cheer me up. Ironically, most of the posts I read were about waiting and offered no concrete conclusion one way or the other.

Raccoon woke up and I continued to feel on edge. I set him up with his afternap snack and cartoon and began to do dishes. Suddenly it came to me - what I really wanted was for someone to tell me that it's all going to be okay. My dad's large medical/financial need, this pregnancy, my ability to cope as a mother of two, the future of my children, and just life in general.

As soon as I was done the dishes, I called my dad since he was supposed to receive news today, one way or the other. Much to my surprise, he said that someone at his church had stepped in and provided the money he needed to go ahead with the surgery. I'd expected A or B, but this was a wonderful C. And I felt a quiet reassurance in my soul that no matter what comes, I am not forgotten. The Lord holds me in His hand.

Monday, October 29, 2012

So Much More Real

The whole pregnancy with Raccoon, it seemed so unreal to me that I would actually be heading home with a baby at the end. This time around, as I feel her kicking, it all just feels so much more real. Before I couldn't really imagine what having a newborn was like since I'd only ever had toddlers. I wondered what it would be like to be there from the beginning. Now that Raccoon is three, I have ample experience to imagine clearly what bringing this baby home will be like. Three more months and we'll have another little one. I wonder who she'll look like, what we're going to name her (!!!), and how she'll change our family.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sensory Issues - What?!

Up until he was about a year and a half old, Raccoon loved to be barefoot, take baths, get his hands dirty, etc. One day it was like someone flipped a switch, and all of a sudden I had a different son. Since then, getting him to take anything off once it's put on has been a herculean struggle. The only way he'll change his clothes is if he accidentally gets wet. Strategic water play anyone? Let's practice pouring! Come help me wash the dishes! ;) He loved to paint, then he wouldn't do it for months on end because it got on his hands and didn't turn out the way he wanted. (Besides sensory issues, we have a huge struggle with perfectionism too, but that is a post for another day.) Taking a bath, brushing his teeth, changing his clothes, washing his face, going new places, having family get-togethers, and many things more are - sometimes - just not worth the meltdowns.

Now I see the winds of change blowing again. It started a few days ago with Raccoon taking off his socks and going barefoot. I even took a picture of his feet because I've barely seen them in more than a year. If you had asked me last week what the odds were of Raccoon taking all his clothes off voluntarily and running around the living room naked, I would have told you there weren't any odds because it was not only unlikely (perhaps 1 in a million) but impossible.

Yet here I sit, writing this post in complete amazement because that is just what happened yesterday afternoon. Unless you're a sensory parent, you may think this is no big deal (don't toddlers run around naked all the time?), but for us, this is HUGE. It is not necessarily a behavior I will endorse long-term, but for a few minutes I see him enjoying a rare freedom from anxiety and fear. This gives me hope that Raccoon will not always be limited by his sensitivity to everything in the world around him.

p.s. I changed the title of the post from the original one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Foody Friday

"What should we have for lunch?" I ask out loud as if my son is going to suddenly suggest a well-balanced meal, full of new and healthy foods. Because really, the question is not so much what can I make, but what will he eat? It is an unsolvable mystery to both of us, why some things go down and others do not. Often the same thing will have two opposite responses on two different days.

Is my son eating enough? This question haunts me all day long as I keep a mental list of what he's swallowed and how much. My husband spent the day with Raccoon recently since I had to do errands. When I got home, he commented, "Raccoon doesn't eat much, does he?" Other days that they've spent less time together, my husband has had pretty good luck getting him to eat, but not that day, and for the first time he saw what I struggle with almost every day. My husband commented that he'd made hamburgers for lunch, but after a bite or two, Raccoon found a piece of onion in his and wouldn't eat anymore. I was impressed that Raccoon had tried them at all.

His pediatrician isn't worried because his weight is okay on her chart, but he's tall for his age, so when I figure out his body mass index (BMI) he's only at the 3rd percentile. Anything less than the fifth percentile for BMI is considered underweight. If he were two cm shorter and the same weight, then he'd be at the 12th percentile. Or if he were the same height and two pounds heavier, he'd be at the 19th percentile. So I'm not overly worried, but I do keep a close eye on all things food in our home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This may seem odd, but up until recently these were my three least favorite verses in the Bible:

Psalm 127:2 "...He gives His beloved sleep." Admittedly, it doesn't say how much sleep or when, but when I first read this a few months ago, in light of almost three years of extreme sleeplessness, my first thought (from the enemy I'm sure) was that God must hate me. Really feeling and trusting in God's love has often been a struggle for me. I have these amazing moments of faith, but I'm also quick to despair. My newest prayer when I lie down to sleep is that I will feel loved and rested, no matter how much sleep I get. I am coming to accept the truth of this verse even if it looks differently than I expect or would like.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." A show of hands please from those who wish that Paul had said "most" instead of "all."

But the one I struggled with the most up until today is Romans 5:5, "Now hope does not disappoint..." When I first took this verse to heart, I was hoping for a miracle, that God would restore to me the two foster daughters whom I'd lost. But He didn't, and I was bitterly disappointed and confused. And it is not only me who struggles with hope and disappointment in motherhood, but many going through infertility, foster care, or adoption. So how can this be true, that hope does not disappoint?

The amplified translation makes things a bit clearer to me. If you can believe it, I just looked up Romans 5:2-5 now, unsatisfied with only writing this post up until the last paragraph. "Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The hope of eternal salvation... that makes more sense. I can, and do, hope for a better eternity, even while I am learning to see "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).