Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Do It Now" Update #1

Those are my words for the year. So far, I would say it's going well. When I walk by a mess that I should clean up, I tell myself to "do it now" instead of stepping around it and figuring I'll get to it later. My room is mostly clean. My closet is recognizable. There's been a miracle in my home! Well, not quite, but maybe by December 31st. I'll let you know.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lego Love

Raccoon has definitely entered the age of Legos. The first thing he does in the morning is run to his room to play with his 5 little Lego people. Right now, they own an airplane, a jeep, and a house. They use the vehicles to visit museums or the zoo, and in their spare time they re-enact their favorite movie scenes. At random times, various scary monsters come (played by hand-me-down action figures from his cousins, like Wolverine from X-Men). My little man is growing up.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Expectations and Coping

I think Raccoon and I have both been feeling frustrated lately. Since he is so verbal, I recently realized that I have unconsciously been expecting too much from him in terms of compliance and self-control. I feel like since I can explain things to him and he understands them, that should be enough. But I need to remember that even though he talks and understands like he's older, he's still very much only two. He does want to please me, but I think he feels like I spend the day ordering him around. I read somewhere else, I can't remember where, that it is frustrating to be a toddler because as adults, we have control over almost everything in our lives, while they do not have control over hardly anything. I try to say yes as much as possible, but sometimes he is insatiable.

He did really well for the first half of his new class at Gymboree. I was hoping that by being in the second highest level, he'd find it interesting and the other kids ready to play with him. He liked the beginning activities for the camping theme - fishing rods with magnets for "catching" fish, little nets to scoop the fish up, and playing with flashlights in a "tent." He did really well waiting for his turn and putting the beloved flashlight away, twice. But he does not like the ending repetitive activities that have carried over from level to level (the parachute and Gymbo dance especially) and by then he's run out of patience/compliance/self-control.

I probably should have spent the money on something else, but it's either three months or nothing at Gymboree, so we're committed now. And I do really like the open gyms. It gives us both a change of scenery and Raccoon a chance to climb on different equipment. If I can just not get stressed out by his behavior in class, I think it will be good for both of us. I'm thinking of mentioning to his teacher that he just cannot stay focused for 45 minutes if he's not interested. The options I see are: take him out of the class early, bring something (like gum) to keep him partially distracted/rewarded during the "boring" parts, try to get there 15 min early so he can play a little first, or see if the teacher can give everyone a play break in the middle. The other kids don't seem to have the same trouble as Raccoon, and a little voice in my head whispers, SPD, SPD, SPD. Sigh.

Now that we have the trampoline at home, he's a different little boy. My husband frequently remarks how much calmer he is, or that he plays some by himself. I've noticed that at home, he isn't quite as intense. I thought that I'd just been overanalyzing things, but seeing him around other kids again makes me wonder. If I lived in the States, I'd have had him evaluated already, but I haven't even begun to look for an OT here. It's a whole other world.

So all of this may seem like a lot of work, but I think now is a good time for us to start working on meeting some outside expectations (like listening & sitting), given that it's only 45 minutes a week. I normally wouldn't post something like this, because it may seem like I'm forcing Raccoon, or overthinking something simple, but there are so many things I don't do because he doesn't tolerate much sitting. If I could figure out a way to stretch out his sitting time it would make things I would like to do, like church, more possible.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Since I was often the "new girl" (I switched schools every year up until 6th grade), I had a specific strategy for making friends. On the first day of school, I would choose another new girl to pair up with, or I would see who was the person with the least friends and I'd stick to them. I always had someone to hang out with, but I often ended up in very mismatched friendships. Since I often had little in common with the other girl(s), it was not a give-and-take, but mostly just giving so they'd like me and I wouldn't be alone. In high school, I was in the same place long enough to actually find a great group of friends. But I also seem to have a knack for picking friends who do not write, e-mail, or call. So as soon we part ways (I still move a lot), the friendship ends.

I miss being part of a group of friends, but I've been re-examining my friend-making stategy. Befriending the most needy person usually guarantees that I won't be rejected, but I'd really like form a new strategy that results in give-and-take relationships. I'm looking for mutual benefits, and someone who will stay in touch. As an adult, I feel much more shy than I did in school, and find that I have to really put myself out there to find friends since there aren't as many natural opportunities for getting to know people as there are in school. Adults are busier with jobs and family, so it's harder to just hang out several times and see if you hit it off with someone.
Raccoon is also shy, and very clingy at the moment. He tries to interact once or twice, but more often falls back to me because the child either does not understand him (English/Spanish issue) or is not ready for that kind of imaginative play. I have signed up for a class at Gymboree, and hopefully he'll be the youngest so that the older kids (by 6-8 months) will do more of the play he's looking for. I'm definitely looking for some feedback/payoff for him, so that he realizes that playing with other kids can be just as fun as playing with mommy.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I started this blog about Raccoon, but in many ways my stuff has taken over because I need an outlet. But this is an area we both share.

"Perfectionism is, fundamentally, an anxiety thing. It's anxiety that what you do won't be good enough or won't be seen as good enough and that either this will mean that you're an awful / incompetent / pathetic person and/or that other people will think you are and will hate / despise / punish / ignore / reject you for it." (quote by Aimee Yermish)

The above statement describes my predicament profoundly. But I would change the first part to say, "It's anxiety that what you ARE isn't good enough..." Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I invested my self-worth way too much in other people's opinions of me. I know that I need to re-center my security on who I am in Christ, and that He can get me out of my feeling worthless rut, but that's easier said than done.  

I see Raccoon struggling with this issue as well, becoming frustrated when what he does isn't perfect. Raccoon is very observant, and being an only child, he lives in an adult-dominated world. He sees my husband and I doing most things effortlessly and perfectly the first time, and somehow he has internalized this and uses the same standard for himself. Not to mention that he also chooses impossible tasks (like trying to make towers out of balls). The more I intervene the worse the meltdown, but pretty much no approach lessens his frustration once he's in his "I'm going to make this work or die trying" mode.

I did see one piece of advice, I don't remember where, that said something like "Let your child see you make mistakes and model how to keep trying, redo, etc." I've been doing that, sometimes failing on purpose, and encouraging him to tell me to "keep trying." Slowly I am seeing some results. Tonight he was working on building a tower out of large legos (he called it a gas station) and it fell over several times. To my surprise, instead of melting down like he would have a month or even a week ago, he just picked it up and started over. I congratulated him on his patience and self-control. Not sure if those words compute, but I hope he felt the warmness in my voice. For him, it was an amazing accomplishment and I'm so proud of my son.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mommy Badges

Enough with the guilt, on to the positive reinforcement. Not only is it something Raccoon needs when I catch him doing something good, but as a mom, I need it too.

Some recent mommy badges I would like:

Activity Coordinator - I used some of my valuable free time to find new activities for Raccoon, took more time to actually print and prepare them, and then remembered to use them during a 1.5 hour car ride. He loved the "my backyard" diorama and popsicle stick animals/bugs I made to use as puppets.

Quick Housekeeper - I put away the laundry, picked up the living room, washed the dishes, and swept two rooms in just 40 minutes. Woohoo for me!

Inspired from this blog on merit badges.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Two lines from Shoveling Snow by Kirsten Dierking

"...silver branches scrawl their names

in tangled script against the white."

I think we all could use a little more poetry in everyday life. I know I could.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another TV Post

I would have to say that after #1 (Raccoon not eating), #2 on my mommy guilt list is letting Raccoon watch too much TV.

I know that Raccoon craves novelty, but I'm not sure how to give it to him. He is definitely tired of his books, even though we have a lot. He doesn't like watching things on the internet as much as he likes TV. The homemade videos (I've made two) take a lot of time.

He loves imaginative play but I can feel my brain turning to mush after the 20th repetition of being Mr. Lion (a puppet) who's shot by the "doodoo gun" and has to take a bath, then gets dirty again. Each repetition takes about five seconds, and there are only so many variations I can invent. I'm hoping we can find a friend to play with, but all the other toddlers in my neighborhood are in all-day preschool.

What's next, what to do?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Eat or Not

I think not being able to convince my son to eat, no matter what I offer, is #1 on my mommy guilt list. My eating theory, with him, is that "anything goes, as long as some of it goes down." Turns out Raccoon and I do most of the things suggested for food school for kids with SPD, which continues to make me wonder if I should pursue a diagnosis.

I found this description on another blog: "A few months ago, my Loverly Husband decided that he wanted to do this ‘forage’ style meal plan. ...His idea includes no meal planning, just having fresh foods on-hand to consume quickly and as easily as possible whenever hunger strikes."

That pretty much describes my menu planning philosphy (and my ideal strategy if I were single), but it's not really working with Raccoon. All of the quick and easy meals I enjoy (sandwiches, cereal, etc.) he either cannot eat (due to allergies) or will not eat. His tastes are very similar to my husbands - meat and rice - for all meals, breakfast included. But even that is not something I can count on with any regularity. Part of my frustration is that I never know with him. Something he loves one day he won't touch the next. He apparently has the same motto as my dad, "Never the same thing twice."

He will occasionally eat random things as well. Like today for lunch, Raccoon ate 3 hot dogs (usually he just chews them up then spits them out) and drank canteloupe/watermelon juice. That was all he wanted, even though I offered several alternatives.

Since this post needs a point, my hope for this year (I'm not even going to torture myself by making it a "goal") is to help him gain weight and eat a healthy variety of foods.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Preschool Visit

Raccoon has been asking to go to Gymboree for the last few weeks (we stopped going around 4 months ago), so I thought that he might like some playtime at a drop-in preschool. Where I live, all the children one year old and up are pretty much in daycare/preschool, so the kids at Gymboree were younger than Raccoon and it wasn't a good fit anymore. It's very hard to find anyone for a playdate, even with our trampoline (which is fabulous in case you were wondering).

Wow, was that visit a wake-up call or what! Structured activities for the 2-3 year olds in 15 minute increments, so basically they are marched from one thing to the next. Raccoon is not intentionally noncompliant (most of the time), but he is either not interested in something at all, or he's 100% invested and will not stop, no matter what. He is not a 15 min-structured-activity kind of guy. Either he'd wander off and get into trouble, or have a meltdown when he's not ready to be done yet, but more of the first than the second. With a 11:1 child/teacher ratio, he would have plenty of opportunity for his curiosity/stubborness to get him into trouble. He also does not like people telling him what to do; he likes to make up his own mind in his own good time. And as it turns out, the place we visited was not of the drop-in type at all. I'm not even sure those exist here. As I've mentioned before, Raccoon is not a routine-liking child, so MWF for even two hours would be impossible to stick with for long.

Hmmmm, back to the drawing board.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13

1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm Bored

We watched a Land Before Time video, and Littlefoot sings about being bored. My son has taken it to heart and now will put his head down on the couch, sigh, and say, "I'm bored." Later in his car seat, he also told me, "I'm bored."

Ha ha, it's begun!

Friday, January 13, 2012


27 Months
Height - 91 cm        62%
Weight - 11.5 kg     10%
Head - 48 cm           25%

Raccoon's head has always seemed a bit smaller to me than other toddlers. He just had it measured recently, 48 cm, which is the 25 percentile for 27 months; it was 34 cm at birth which is at the 17 percentile... so it's fine, but for some reason I still worry. Looking at his percentiles, I should probably be more worried about his weight. He only gained 4 lbs or so from 1 year to 2 years old. We've really struggled a lot this year with eating. Part of it is his incredible activity too. But his appetite has taken off in the last few days after his recent illness, so I'm praying that this year there will be a lot of good weight gain and growth in general. But all that aside...

Happy 27 months to Raccoon!!!

Every morning he wakes up and says, "Time to play, Mama?" I wish I was as excited as him about playing at 6 am in the morning! I love you, my little man.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've been thinking of doing picture schedules with simple words to because Raccoon is having trouble transitioning between playtime and meals. He wants me to play with him right when he gets up, but I need to eat breakfast because my blood sugar is low (= very cranky!)

The other day I gave him a lecture about how I have needs too, and everything isn't all about him. It was more out of frustration than actual belief that he'd understand what I was talking about. The next morning I gave him my usual speech, "I'm hungry. I need to eat. You can play by yourself if you want but I'm going downstairs." Raccoon nodded knowingly, "Mama a person."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Speaking of Impatience

I like blogs with lots of history. New ones are okay too, but one is never sure if the author is going to continue or not, and I dislike getting invested in something, then left wondering what happened. I was recently reading about preschool decisions, and the mother of a two year old said, "I've decided to wait until he's 3." It was nice to just fast forward and find out what happened, RIGHT NOW (as Raccoon frequently says in his loudest voice, can't imagine where he gets that from?!).

There is wisdom in being able to wait for things, but it's not one of my strengths, sigh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Thoughts at 30

As I learn and grow, sometimes I feel tempted to go back and edit my previous posts. I'm afraid that I've somehow been too honest or that too much of imperfect me is showing. I don't know which mysterious "they" population I want to edit for, but it's definitely a disapproving one. It reminds me of high school talks about revisionists in history. Maybe I'll write a book someday, "My Revisionist Life." While I was showering I had some deeper thoughts, but they are gone now. I keep paper and a pen with me everywhere else because I never know when a good idea is going to pop out of nowhere, never to return.

Raccoon has been very sick for the last five days. It has been odd to have a quiet child who just wants to sit on my lap. The constant holding reminded me of when he was an infant, except that now he weighs 24 pounds and is a baby no more. It was so nice to see him finally feeling better today and to hear his voice again, "Time to play, Mama."

I feel happy tonight. I've found a forum where I feel at home on a much more personal level. I get the jokes, I feel the pain, I share many of the experiences. It's like things are finally coming together; the dark is ending and I see the dawn. I really, really hope so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rushing In

I'm a jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best kind of person. Despite previous experiences, I think, "This time everything will go well," or "I'll make it work somehow." For most of my life, if I wanted something, I went after it, paying no heed to possible consequences or cost. Not surprisingly, I have suffered much pain in recent years, most of it caused by my own blind choices. I have vowed to be different, and by the grace of God, I'm becoming wiser.

But once again, "want" has reared her demanding head. I want to return to the U.S. to visit my parents and grandparents in March. For various reasons the timing just seems right to me, except for two things: the possible stress for Raccoon and the money. I am trying to hold back, to let it go, and to remind myself that what I set my hope on often isn't all I think it will be.  There is always a certain element of risk involved. I tell myself, "It's not just me anymore, other people pay for my choices too." Even so, I think the trip would be good for Raccoon and me in so many ways (see what an optimist I am?). My husband, on the other hand, represents the "what if it is horrible?" point of view, and after many hard-knock lessons learned, I try to listen.

So want is still fighting with wisdom, and it's hard to tell who's going to win.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Connect, Re-Connect, Belong

Finding new friends, deepening old friendships. It has started, and will hopefully continue. We are thinking about selling our house, but despite this, I am taking some steps to feel settled here until we know for sure.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Big 3-0

I will be turning 30 this year. What a thought. I am actually glad to say goodbye to my 20s, moving on into a new phase of life. Hopefully when I turn 40 (what a thought!), I will be able to look back at my 30s as a great decade, full of wisdom, happiness, and blessings for my family.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Raising a Child

Dee's mother says, "If a child knows he's lovable and capable, you're doing it right."

And Dee says, "You only get to parent the child you have, not some hypothetical child with hypothetical needs-- which means you'll watch her for signs of whether the situation is producing the kind of growth you like. You know her best, so you'll notice it."

"Repeat after me: High maintenance, high reward." Aline

How did I deal with my high needs baby? Outside. We spent A LOT of time out-of-doors. It was often the only thing that would keep him calm. - me

(this post is still under construction, I add new parenting quotes as I find them.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quotes of Truth

Sojourner Truth is one of my all-time favorite historical figures. She said:

"I am not going to die, I'm going home like a shooting star."

"Truth is powerful and it prevails."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Word(s) of the Year 2012: DO IT NOW

I've heard from a few different friends that instead of making resolutions, they are choosing one word to describe their hopes/goals for the new year. I like that, and decided to choose one as well.

I like grateful, but didn't want to copy. Certain things in my life are hard, and I have been kind of whiney (mostly in my head) in 2011. I do want to change my focus in 2012 to what I have and the positive things in my life.

Enjoy was also on my list, but even more than this is my need to take charge of my housekeeping skills. Ugh. This could potentially be the tipping point for my marriage and a happy home for Raccoon because my husband is a neat-freak. My mother-in-law pretty much summed up my problem. She told me, "You don't take the time, in the moment, to be neat. If you would just do it as you go, it wouldn't be so bad." I have to admit, it's true. There are many, many things I would rather be doing, and usually choose, instead of cleaning/re-cleaning/and keeping things picked up.

With this in mind, here they are, my words of the year:


When I walk through the spare room and see the unfolded laundry, do it now.
When I want to put off doing the dishes, making my bed, putting away my clothes, ad infinitum, do it now.

 I changed my blog header to celebrate, and also as a reminder to myself. I'll let you know in January, 2013, if it worked.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I love to write. But these two verses have come to mind recently as I write here on my blog.

Ecclesiasters 5:2
Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.

Matthew 12:36
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

Jesus said that last one himself.