Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pondering: Determining From-ness

In my experience, one of the top ten (probably even top five) getting-to-know-you questions is, "Where are you from?" As a person who has moved almost yearly my entire life, this gets complicated. Do they want to know where I was born? Where my extended family lives? Where I grew up? I usually go with the basic answer, "My family is from Maine," because if I say I am from South America, it gets complicated quickly. Most people don't have time for that, nor interest. As a matter-of-fact, I just told a new friend today that I, too, lived in Texas at one point.

As a veteran of the small talk wars, I like one of Gretchen Rubin's suggestions:

For example, if you ask, “Where are you from?” 
an interesting follow-up question might be, 
“What would your life be like if you still lived there?”

This interests me because I cannot answer it for myself. What would my life have been like if I had grown up in Maine (my birthplace)? Or Canada, or Vermont, or Texas, or South America? Would I have liked small town living? Would I have lived in the same place and gone through school with the same friends?

I am still (mostly) living in the same country I grew up in (mostly), although in a different town. And it is the life I like best, for now, this going between worlds, getting at once the best and worst of both.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Foody Friday

So here is a really interesting news article. Thank you, Aunt K.

Basically, it says that there is a connection between the balance of physical health in our body and mental health. Not exactly a new idea, but this article relates particularly to probiotics (very hard to find corn-free).

"Those who had consumed the probiotic drink 
showed significantly lower brain activity in 
the neural networks that help drive responses 
to sensory and emotional behavior."

Sensory and emotional behavior. When Raccoon's digestive system is out of whack, those are definitely the two areas where we see it the most. I just checked out the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, but returned it unread. Maybe I need to take a second look.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Yesterday, I was reading some homeschooling material on the computer with Raccoon napping beside me. He started awake yelling, "I'm not naughty!" then "I'm not eating!" then "I was asking you to tie something and you didn't listen." After a little snuggle, he fell asleep again and started laughing, problems resolved apparently.

Okay, so that first one is totally not me. A little girl at playgroup cried because another little girl pulled Raccoon away. Her spirited little sister misunderstood the situation and yelled at Raccoon, "You're naughty!" That made Raccoon cry about the injustice of it all. Apparently he carried those feelings into dreamland.

Now the next two...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Notes: A Pattern Language

I have two books out from the library from Christopher Alexander that I had hoped to read, but I don't think this moment in my life is the right time.

To remind myself, I am recording them here. A Pattern Language and The Nature of Order. I  have to say, the first one made me realize that architecture is also philosophy, how we build, how life is, and how it might be if our spaces were different, and how much our environment affects us.

I also changed my blog look.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Evaluation Results

This is part two, so if you missed it, here is part one.

I met with the doctor who did Raccoon's play evaluation. She had several observations, more than I expected actually given that they only spent 30 minutes together. There wasn't anything surprising in his behavior while he was with her, although I think her conclusions based on the behaviors were a little off. He was very anxious so she saw what I'm concerned about, but I wish she could have seen his wonderful qualities too. The funny thing is though that he told me it was boring, that they just stacked blocks and played peekaboo. The doctor thought she was following his lead, but I think he was trying to follow hers, so neither one of them was satisfied. He didn't know the rules (he could ask for more toys) or expectations (imaginary play), so he was very passive and that counted against him as well. He tried to tell her something at the beginning, she didn't understand him, so he resorted to baby play. A bit ingenious I think, but in the long term perhaps not the best strategy. Despite their mutual misunderstandings, I think she was right about the whats, just not the whys.

It's an odd sort of feeling, to suspect that maybe more is going on then the terrible twos and threes, to go for an evaluation, and then to be told you're right. I guess I was somehow secretly hoping she'd say, "Nope, everything is fine, you're imagining things." Hearing the opposite - although expected in some sense - somehow still felt like a devastating surprise.

Most of the areas where he is struggling are close to the borderline and with appropriate intervention will probably improve. Our action plan is further testing and more opportunities to practice social skills. He didn't get any sort of label, she just identified some areas of concern.

After several days of emotional intensity on my part, I am ready to tackle things anew. I may share more once I figure out what's working. But something must be done. As another mom wrote, "No child will grow out of anything unless the conditions that are causing the issue are changed."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pondering: The Won't and the Can't

I found this little gem here (in the comments):

...all behavior is communication and that not doing something doesn't mean "won't", but most often means "can't".

I often have to remind myself that Raccoon wants to please and comply, but sometimes he is just too overwhelmed. Giving him that look and that voice are often my first reaction, when what he really needs is help calming his body/mind down and loving attention from me. Sigh. Mommy fail.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Balanced Life

“Pleasure is a jewel which will only retain its luster when it is in a setting of work, and a vacant life is one of the worst of pains, though the islands of leisure that stud a crowded, well-occupied life may be among the things to which we look back with the greatest delight.” - William Edward Hartpole Lecky 

As summer ends and schedules rev up for the fall and school, I think leisure is on all our minds. I have long felt the truth of Lecky's thought, but could never have expressed it so well. I was much more efficient when I was working than I am now that I spend all day at home. Although to be fair, back then I didn't have two little bosses following me around 24/7.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Taught & Caught

I only heard part of the sermon today (Robin was restless), but two lines that the pastor said stuck:

Jesus told the disciples that he was all in until it killed him. (Matthew 16)

The pastor's point was that there is a time in every intimate relationship when we have to commit, to choose to be all in.

He also said, "The reason we do church is to help one another follow Jesus." DU

These posts are dedicated to my notes and/or recall of the Sunday message. 
Unless otherwise noted, all material is from the sermon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Advice to myself

1) Working from my strengths gives me joy.
2) Turn it around.
3) People matter more than stuff.

Inspired by Small Bird Studios' Monday Mantras and the Happiness Project's Twelve Commandments

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taught & Caught

Matthew 15:1-20


Depending on the time, place, and intent, human traditions can and sometimes should be expendable; God's moral commands never are.

Spiritual and relational health are not measured by the condition of our outward behavior but rather the condition of our inward character.


Defile - to poison, something that makes me feel far from God. Often it's attitudes, addictions, and habits. Think about what ___ does to my heart. Whatever builds up inward is going to show outward.

Traditions make us feel that all is right with the world. Some traditions are things we create to "help" people follow God, but are expendable. Focus on what is truly important. God's commands are how life works best.

Who's going to fill me up? God.

How do I deal with heart things?
   1) Pray
   2) Forgive
   3) Repent
   4) Let God deal with the things inside.

Focus on:
   1) My relationship with God
   2) My relationship with others
   3) Making a difference

These posts are dedicated to my notes and/or recall of the Sunday message. 
Unless otherwise noted, all material is from the sermon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Channel the Excess

"Our family experience of Asperger’s and Tourette’s includes such a superfluity of mental and physical energy that we must continually channel the excess or drown in the overflow. To master ourselves, we must uncover new outlets, so energies blossom outward in useful, healthy ways."

- from A Quiet Week in the House

Channel the excess or drown in the overflow - I love that phrase - so energies blossom outward. I think this is the balance at the heart of my family. Each of us have our excesses, but this summer we are doing well with what works for us. I have had several moments of cloud-staring (five minutes or so but remarkably encouraging nevertheless), and a mostly well-regulated son. Except for today because I let him have cheddar cheese. Something about the yellow yumminess sets him off.

Finding channels that balance our competing needs - mine for introversion and my son's for extroversion - leaves us both feeling satisfied. Having friends over to play is one particular solution. In our other country, it was best if we went to someone's house so that we could leave whenever it became necessary. Drop-in guests often stayed all day. But here in the States, there seems to be an unwritten 2 hour rule. Today we had guests whisk themselves away at two hour ten minutes even though they were halfway through a good story. "We've taken up enough of their time," one lively lady said to the other. As much as I wanted to hear the end of the story, I have to confess that I find the two hour visits perfect for balancing all our needs for space and energy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pondering: Good Writing

“Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.”

—John Edgar Wideman (found on the Writer's Almanac)