Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Big Toy Sort

Toddler toys (superhero costumes, plastic zoo animals, and many stuffed friends) are waging war with the baby toys, and our living room is the battle zone. It's time for a big day of toy sorting, putting the baby things away and creating space for some new little boy things.

I celebrated one and two with all my heart, but somehow, I'm finding Raccoon turning three to be harder. Three. I feel like I haven't taken enough pictures, journalled enough memories. What will 5 be like, and 10, and 17? Looking at this photographer's blog, I realize how few really nice pictures of Raccoon I have from this last year. He went through a long anti-pictures phase that is just now ending, probably because I gave up and he hasn't seen the camera for several months.

I'm thinking about a three-day preschool program for Raccoon starting in October. Or maybe two days. Just a trial month. Can you tell how ambivalent I am about this? I think it would be good for him to have some independent play time when the baby comes in early February, something in his life that stays constant. And it would give me a little time to get ready for the baby, rest, and work on projects. We'll see...

Despite my desire to avoid this last step signalling the end of babyhood, the Big Toy Sort needs to happen before my husband goes mad. And in the spirit of my words for the year "do-it-now," I have officially scheduled it for Friday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More TV Thoughts

I haven't written about Raccoon's TV watching in awhile, not because I haven't been thinking about it, but more because... What can I say? I feel like there's no excuse. I know moms whose kids don't even watch TV. Sigh. I don't feel like his TV time is hurting his overall development, but how can that be true? We all know that screen time is EVIL.

As I was looking up more information to ease my guilty conscience, I found some generous guidelines - one to two hours of quality programming - instead of the 30 minutes I read awhile ago. The average toddler watches 2-3 hours a day, but Raccoon probably does between 3-4+ if I had to guess (blush). We do 30 minutes at meal times (4 times a day) because he eats better if he's distracted, and on top of that we usually end up finishing a second kid's movie by the end of the day, and he sometimes gets another hour from 11 pm to midnight (his normal bedtime). I could cut it down a little, but not much because my husband and I are barely surviving as it is.

Today, I found something encouraging. Dr. Lisa Dana, a pediatrician, says, "For every hour of screen time your child has, she should have an hour of outdoor free play." Aha! Perhaps this is why my son is not a vegetable despite my questionable over-indulgence in screen time. We do spend at least four hours outside every day (love my year-round warm climate), plus another three at least in imaginary play. Basically, whenever he's not watching TV (let's say 4 hours) and maybe 30 daily minutes of bathroom breaks, he and I are 100% engaged, so that would be 10 hours of mommy time. I do very little cooking or housework (I live with my mother-in-law, you may envy and pity me now). Pretty much the last three years have just been about trying to stay sane as the mother of a VERY intense toddler with special needs*. Dr. Dana's advice is the only reason I felt brave enought to post the truth. I thought it might also be encouraging to other struggling mommas out there with special kids, because most of the special mommas I know spend so much good time with their kids and get very little break. Like most things in life, as my mom would say, it all comes back down to balance.

*I'd like to share a little more about what I mean by "special needs" since Raccoon's fall more into the invisible category until you know him well...

1) Raccoon sleeps 7.5 hours at night, and 2 hours in the afternoon, so I figure that his day has about 2-4 more hours than the average two year old who sleeps between 12-14 hours a day. If the brain is more active during sleep than while watching TV, then I can count some of his extra viewing as rest time. Right? In order to survive, I have to sleep when he does, naps and night, otherwise I am beyond exhausted.

2) I am an introvert and I'm pretty sure he is an extrovert. He craves people interaction ALL the time. It is very hard for me to balance his need for me to play with him with my need for some down time. He wants me to talk, answer questions, or pretend play constantly.

3) He does not go with other people. We have never had a babysitter, or even a family member, watch him. SPD, language barriers, food allergies, meltdowns, severe distress, perfectionism, intensity, asynchronous development, etc. have made this impossible up until now. He will only rarely go with my husband without me (one hour once a week if I'm lucky). For better or worse, I am the one who understands him, mediates between him and the overwhelming world, and helps him stay as balanced as possible.

4) He exclusively watches only movies or shows on DVD, since neither one of us can stand commercials. Except we do watch 30 minutes of Curious George together in the morning, if I remember that it's on, to get ideas for our imaginary play that day, and because by 10:30 am, I could use a break.

5) I try not to buy many new movies, because I figure eventually he'll get bored of the same old ones.

6) If I offer to play, he has no trouble switching off the TV. This hasn't always been so, but lately he's seemed much less interested in his movies, probably due to #5. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dear Raccoon

You have made some major developmental leaps lately, and every time I look at you my heart swells with pride. You are making the final transitions from toddler to little boy - pottying, sleeping, eating, the things you say... you are amazing. Over and over again I have seen how you do things in your own time. When you are ready, that's that. But if you're not, there is nothing on earth that will persuade you otherwise. Keep going at your own pace, little man, it's okay if the world doesn't get it. I'll try to give you as much space as I can to do your own thing for as long as I can. I am so glad that I didn't get pregnant before. You've needed every minute of these three wonderful, intense, precious, crazy, and exhausting (for me!) years that we've had, just you and me. I feel a growing certainty that you will be ready by the time the baby comes. Ready to give a little more and get a little less. Ready to be a big brother.
I love you,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Wonderful Day

Today I started up an early stimulation class for moms with kids from 0-4. It felt good to work on something again. Then Raccoon took a three hour nap. I woke up, realized he was still sleeping, and went back to sleep myself. Then, I woke up before he did and had some time just to stay in bed. What a luxury!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Wishful Day

I wish I could go to bed and sleep for a week. I wish my mom could come and watch Raccoon while I snored away. I wish I had unlimited travel funds to pay for her plane ticket. I wish my house cleaned itself. I'm not whining - right? - I'm wishing. Where's that genie when I need him!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boys and Sticks

There is some mysterious attraction between boys and sticks. Raccoon and I were at the park today with several older neighborhood boys. Raccoon got a new sword this morning and really wanted to try it out, but a swordfight with Mommy just wasn't the thing. Two of the boys (14 and 8 if I had to guess) were just sitting around, so I told Raccoon to offer one of them a stick. In no time at all, the three of them were running around, involved in some crazy sword play. My heart warms whenever other children play with Raccoon, because it means so much to him, even if it's only five minutes. Tomorrow we're going to go to the park armed with popsicles, and we'll see if there is any more magic in those old sticks lying around.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


July is a hard month for me. We lost our first daughter on July 28, 2007, at two years old. She came to us just before she turned a year old, and left us one year and one month later. It was a hard loss, but a final one. Then in July, 2009, our two little foster daughters were adopted by another family, after I had prayed so hard and believed that somehow they would be ours. But it was not to be. They are now 7 and almost 9, and I long with all my heart to know how they are doing. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, thinking of them and everything I wish I could have done differently.

So to my three beautiful daughters, I love you. I miss you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Climbing out of the Hole

I finally felt like I could do more today than get out of bed and count the hours until I could get back under the covers. Raccoon has slept normally (for him) the last few nights and I hope tomorrow to organize his toys so we can actually play with them instead of just piling them here and there.

I also had my second prenatal appointment today, and my first ultrasound. Since the nausea went away suddenly, I was feeling worried that something might be wrong with the baby. But thankfully, all is well. Seeing his/her little heartbeat on the screen was amazing. This is really happening and I need to get my act in gear. Both the ultrasound tech and my doctor moved my due date a bit later, based on a few different measurements. So now I'll be 9 weeks pregnant tomorrow.

All in all, a great day, and I am so very thankful.