Saturday, June 29, 2013

On Writing

"Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” Anais Nin (from brain pickings)

"My talent is making connections. That's why I'm an essayist." Stephen Jay Gould

"Write until you know what's going to happen next." Ernest Hemingway (from brain pickings)

I do just the opposite, I write until I don't know. Things jumble around in my brain until, at odd moments, I see a piece of a story - often contained in a single phrase - such as:

"You always knew?" the boy asked the man.

I write furiously until that scene is recorded and there is no more. If I force it further, I bore myself.

When do I write? Late at night when the house is quiet and my children asleep. The hours until midnight are deliciously my own.

It is important for me to capture ideas in the instant; I call it my notebook habit. I can feel the ideas there, like wisps; if I do not write them down, they fade as if they never were. I cannot get them back.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pondering: Doing What I Love

"...the gap between what they do and what they really want." - Amy Bloom

A long-time friend of my family asked me on May 26, 2013 what I hope to get out of this year in the United States. I gave her a response, but the real answer to that question is: a dream.

I already know what my Word of the Year is for 2014 - DREAM.

(My current WOTY is working out well; my family and I have made great strides towards a more peaceful life. We already had peace, I just couldn't see it until after our semi-disastrous camping trip.)

I want to write. To be a writer. Essays and a children's novel are my ultimate goals. I enjoy blogging as well. Here there is no pressure. My content is purely for my own joy. (And to have a place where I can laugh as I look at myself.) If this was the last day of my life, would I end it with writing?

Yes, if I could. One last letter to my children.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." Steve Jobs

Gretchen Rubin's ideas on how to Manage Your Day-to-Day (excellent post) boils down to "What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while." There is power in daily activities, no matter how small.

To lessen the disconnect between the wants and the dos, I will find something today to feed our souls. My first thought is my children's laughter. Joy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I Learned on Vacation

We are home a bit early due to rain and cold nights. Anything in the 40s is too cold for my beautiful 4 month old. Raccoon loved camping and thought we'd moved there permanently. I had fun reconnecting with my brother and his family.

Upon arriving home I realized, I love my life. I am so blessed, and so grateful. I have a new appreciation for shelter. heat, my bathroom, and the peace we have found for our family.

I updated my blog picture in honor of this moment, to remember how my blog, and my life, has changed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Always on Vacation

“The trick, as Gandhi said, is to be ‘always on vacation’ where nothing hurries us, but a lot happens.”

I forgot to write down where I found this quote, but it is apt as we are heading out for a camping adventure in a few days. There are things on my to-do list that are growing moss, as Laughing at Chaos says, but I'm throwing it all to the wind. Except for packing and eating some cookie dough tomorrow.

This is the first time my parents, brother, and I (plus spouses and kids) go camping all together. I'll tell you about the adventures upon our return, next Friday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dressing Up

(a little stereotypical, but I'm the one dressing her for now.
Once she can choose I fully expect her to be an engineer
or astronaut or a queen, or maybe all three, it's up to her.)

Me: "We don't shoot people, only monsters."
Raccoon: "What about bad people, Mommy?"
Me: "Sometimes, people start out bad but then
become good, so it's not up to us to decide."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pondering: Humanness

"Children need human mothers who can model for them how to make the most of their strengths, come to grips with their limitations, and manage their humanness to become the best they can be." MotherStyles, xiii

The way she writes "manage their humanness" makes it sound like a condition we weren't originally intended to have, like diabetes. It reminded me that perhaps we won't always be human. Someday I believe we will be a glorious something else...

"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Notes: Freeing Our Families From Perfectionism

by Thomas S. Greenspon. This is the book I'm talking about.


1) "...a process called encouragement: literally, helping a child find the courage to do things differently by letting her know she is recognized and cherished."

2) "'s easier to try new things and risk making mistakes if you already know you're acceptable."


And in honor of the book, I didn't read it from cover to cover, nor did I actually finish it. Nevertheless, it was a good reminder to continue my efforts to give Raccoon more affirmation.

We definitely struggle with quote #1 around here because Raccoon likes things to be done the same way and he wants to accomplish everything with ease. Dealing with change is our nemesis. Cherished is exactly how I want Raccoon to feel, regardless of outcomes. I like quote #2 because it is a good reminder of how to accomplish #1.

Although not from this book, the following is the most helpful phrase in our house to sidetrack perfectionism meltdowns, which I've mentioned before: "Is this important to you?" If the answer is yes, I repeat "Then we'll work on it until we get it, okay?" as many times as necessary to help him calm down. Recognizing and labeling his feelings (usually frustration and angered at an imperfect outcome) also works - sometimes - to diffuse a loaded situation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rebuilding Peace

During these last few days of allergy turmoil and discouragement, I completely forgot my WOTY - peace. Tonight I got several good reminders from a Friend.

Ezra 6:14 NIV

So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.

The Israelites (Jews) had been taken captive and the temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem was destroyed. Then Cyrus allowed them to return to Israel to rebuild. But there was so much opposition that they got discouraged and stopped for more than a decade. The two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, encouraged them to finish the temple, so the people began to build again. The non-Jewish leaders of the region wrote a letter of complaint to the current man in power, Darius, but it back-fired. Darius ordered them to not only let the Israelites rebuild, but to pay for the temple from government money!

This story speaks to me because although there are many things discouraging our family right now (especially Raccoon's health struggles), God will provide the materials and encouragement we need to continue on until the job is done.

I've also been worried about how we're going to fulfill all of the visits we need to make while we are here in the U.S. while managing Raccoon's food allergies. Then I happened to stop by my favorite online Bible and saw Bible Gateway's verse of the day:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Although I'm not quite sure how it will all work out, I do feel more at peace. Tomorrow we have more tests to go through with Raccoon, then hopefully we will have some answers.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Overwhelmed by Corn

We have been in the U.S. and have found out that the answer to many of Raccoon's problems is something we already knew: he is allergic to corn. What we didn't realize is how invasive corn is in the States. Besides avoiding the obvious ones (corn starch, corn syrup), we also need to avoid ALL of these, as he is highly sensitive:

◾Acetic acid ◾Alcohol ◾Alpha tocopherol ◾Artificial flavorings ◾Artificial sweeteners ◾Ascorbates ◾Ascorbic acid ◾Aspartame (Artificial sweetener) ◾Astaxanthin ◾Baking powder ◾Barley malt* (generally OK, but can be contaminated) ◾Bleached flour* ◾Blended sugar (sugaridextrose) ◾Brown sugar* (generally OK if no caramel color) ◾Calcium citrate ◾Calcium fumarate ◾Calcium gluconate ◾Calcium lactate ◾Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) ◾Calcium stearate ◾Calcium stearoyl lactylate ◾Caramel and caramel color ◾Carbonmethylcellulose sodium ◾Cellulose microcrystalline ◾Cellulose, methyl ◾Cellulose, powdered ◾Cetearyl glucoside ◾Choline chloride ◾Citric acid* ◾Citrus cloud emulsion (CCS) ◾Coco glycerides (cocoglycerides) ◾Confectioners sugar ◾Corn alcohol, corn gluten ◾Corn extract ◾Corn flour ◾Corn oil, corn oil margarine ◾Corn starch ◾Corn sweetener, corn sugar ◾Corn syrup, corn syrup solids ◾Corn, popcorn, cornmeal ◾Cornstarch, cornflour ◾Crosscarmellose sodium ◾Crystalline dextrose ◾Crystalline fructose ◾Cyclodextrin ◾DATUM (a dough conditioner) ◾Decyl glucoside ◾Decyl polyglucose ◾Dextrin ◾Dextrose (also found in IV solutions) ◾Dextrose anything (such as monohydrate or anhydrous) ◾d-Gluconic acid ◾Distilled white vinegar ◾Drying agent ◾Erythorbic acid ◾Erythritol ◾Ethanol ◾Ethocel 20 ◾Ethylcellulose ◾Ethylene ◾Ethyl acetate ◾Ethyl alcohol ◾Ethyl lactate ◾Ethyl maltol ◾Fibersol-2 ◾Flavorings* ◾Food starch ◾Fructose* ◾Fruit juice concentrate* ◾Fumaric acid ◾Germ/germ meal ◾Gluconate ◾Gluconic acid ◾Glucono delta-lactone ◾Gluconolactone ◾Glucosamine ◾Glucose* ◾Glucose syrup* (also found in IV solutions) ◾Glutamate ◾Gluten ◾Gluten feed/meal ◾Glycerides ◾Glycerin* ◾Glycerol ◾Golden syrup ◾Grits ◾High fructose corn syrup ◾Hominy ◾Honey* ◾Hydrolyzed corn ◾Hydrolyzed corn protein ◾Hydrolyzed vegetable protein ◾Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose ◾Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose pthalate (HPMCP) ◾Inositol ◾Invert syrup or sugar ◾Iodized salt ◾Lactate ◾Lactic acid* ◾Lauryl glucoside ◾Lecithin ◾Linoleic acid ◾Lysine ◾Magnesium citrate ◾Magnesium fumarate ◾Magnesium stearate ◾Maize ◾Malic acid ◾Malonic acid ◾Malt syrup from corn ◾Malt, malt extract ◾Maltitol ◾Maltodextrin ◾Maltol ◾Maltose ◾Mannitol ◾Methyl gluceth ◾Methyl glucose ◾Methyl glucoside ◾Methylcellulose ◾Microcrystaline cellulose ◾Modified cellulose gum ◾Modified corn starch ◾Modified food starch ◾Molasses* (corn syrup may be present; know your product) ◾Mono- and di- glycerides ◾Monosodium glutamate ◾MSG ◾Natural flavorings* ◾Olestra/Olean ◾Polenta ◾Polydextrose ◾Polylactic acid (PLA) ◾Polysorbates* (e.g. Polysorbate 80) ◾Polyvinyl acetate ◾Potassium citrate ◾Potassium fumarate ◾Potassium gluconate ◾Powdered sugar ◾Pregelatinized starch ◾Propionic acid ◾Propylene glycol* ◾Propylene glycol monostearate* ◾Saccharin ◾Salt (iodized salt) ◾Semolina (unless from wheat) ◾Simethicone ◾Sodium carboxymethylcellulose ◾Sodium citrate ◾Sodium erythorbate ◾Sodium fumarate ◾Sodium lactate ◾Sodium starch glycolate ◾Sodium stearoyl fumarate ◾Sorbate ◾Sorbic acid ◾Sorbitan* (anything) ◾Sorbitol ◾Sorghum* (not all is bad; the syrup and/or grain CAN be mixed with corn) ◾Splenda (Artificial sweetener) ◾Starch (any kind that's not specified) ◾Stearic acid ◾Stearoyls ◾Sucralose (Artificial sweetener) ◾Sucrose ◾Sugar* (not identified as cane or beet) ◾Threonine ◾Tocopherol (vitamin E) ◾Treacle (aka golden syrup) ◾Triethyl citrate ◾Unmodified starch ◾Vanilla, natural flavoring ◾Vanilla, pure or extract ◾Vanillin ◾Vegetable anything that's not specific* ◾Vinegar, distilled white ◾Vinyl acetate ◾Vitamin C* and Vitamin E* ◾Vitamins* ◾Xanthan gum ◾Xylitol ◾Yeast* ◾Zea mays ◾Zein

 Okay, are you feeling overwhelmed yet? A little? But it's manageable, you think, with extensive label reading. Well, on we go then.

Besides outright avoiding these things listed above, which are in about 75% of supermarket products and almost 100% of medications, you also have to consider the way food is processed and packaged, which also frequently involves corn or a corn derivative (for example, the wax on fruit is from corn).

Now I feel completely and utterly lost.

Going through my home, there aren't any foods that I can guarantee are safe for Raccoon, and corn is even in our toilet paper, baby wipes, medications (which I have been giving to him for almost 2 years unknowingly) and dish soap. That explains.... a lot.

Please pray for us. This is our Holland and I'm not sure how to get a handle on all of this.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Happy 12th Anniversary to me!!!

The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us.

From You Never Marry the Right Person

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baby Girl

I'm still praying for you, baby girl. You are not forgotten.

Rabbit is my tag for the lovies who have passed through the forest of my life but still touch my heart.