Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Kitty,

Today is your 1st birthday. You have brought your light and happiness to our family for 365 days. I love watching you grow. You are very interested in what everyone else is doing, and an amazing mimic. You can say Mama, Dada, Gaga (Raccoon), Grama, Grampa, agua (water), tete (nurse), and I even heard "ank-you" once. You're walking all around, legs spread like a cowboy who's been on a horse all day. You love Grama's bookcase and pick her fattest novels to carry around, then browse through, and chew on for good measure. You are disgusted with any picture book that doesn't have a cat in it, or something feline.

We went into the grocery store before the Superbowl and there were helium balloons everywhere. You got so excited and so I bought you one and Raccoon one. It was great to see you pulling them around after you. Of course you liked Raccoon's green one better, just because it was his. You have been the answer to all the prayers I said while I was pregnant. You are a good sleeper, a good eater, and very mellow. I have carted you all around on errands and appointments. As long as you're with us and not in your car seat too long, you're great. Everywhere I go people remark on what a peaceful baby you are. You aren't smiley and look at everyone with your big brown eyes, but if they win you over, you give them an ear to ear grin.

You are, however, very determined and your grip is stronger than your brother's. You know just what you want, just like your momma. You go girl. We are going to buy you a cat for your birthday once we get back to South America. You're going to be so excited you won't even be able to sleep at night. I am so glad I'm your mommy, what a privilege. I thank the Lord for you. Thank you, sweetie, for sticking around. You are amazing.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Beyond Grateful

Here at the end of all things - well, not really all things but our time in the U.S. - my cup is overflowing with blessings. There is a sweet pulling together at the end, a time for heart-to-hearts, last visits and goodbyes and meals, that leaves me full, but with a shadow ever present. I like new chapters and new adventures and fresh starts, but I will miss my family, some longtime friends I have seen again, and our safe, comfortable life as we return to the unknown. But not so unknown, since in a way, we are also going home. As much as I don't want to leave my loved ones, I yearn to be settled, to be in my own space and able to put down my family's little roots again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Notes: Joan Didion

I have read two of her books. In 2007, I chose Slouching Towards Bethlehem and years later I picked up Blue Nights. Before my blog, I kept a notebook full of book quotes and thoughts, so I pulled it out for this post.

My first reaction to Slouching Towards Bethlehem:
Her writing is interesting but it makes me feel, in an almost overwhelming way, the tediousness of life; so much despair, hopelessness, and disillusionment. Is there nothing better? I think I'll stop reading it. (But actually, I didn't.)

She says in Blue Nights, "I need to talk to you directly, I need to address the subject as it were, but something stops me. ...am I no longer able to talk directly? Was I ever?"

To me, this quote is an apt description of her writing. She meanders and spirals and circles, but does not come to the point (as in, a straight description of "what happened." I still don't think I know why and how her daughter died.)

A quote from Slouching Towards Bethlehem:

"That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it."

Quotes from Blue Nights:

"I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted."

"When I began writing these pages I believed their subject to be children, the ones we have and the ones we wish we had, the ways in which we depend on our children to depend on us, the ways in which we encourage them to remain children, the ways in which they remain more unknown to us than they do to their most casual acquaintances; the ways in which we remain equally opaque to them."

"When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children."

She writes from a place that is unknown to me, but I like her essays. I like how she uses her voice and how the thoughts go around and around in her head with different things floating to the top. She is good at making connections. And I think I would enjoy her anyway as a fellow keeper of notebooks.

"Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted at birth with some presentiment of loss." (Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Word of the Year 2014, Take III: SURRENDER

Sanctuary is the perfect word for January; it is exactly what we need in the midst of moving and changing countries once again. But another word has been throwing itself at me, trying to get my attention. I have the entrance barricaded, the curtains drawn, and I'm pretending not to hear this word banging on the door.


Let go. Give up. Surrender. Not your typical word of the year perhaps, nor is it a philosophy much encouraged by a culture that tells us to never stop fighting for what we want, to make our dreams happen at any cost, and that if we work hard enough we can have everything.

I have always been forceful about making my own decisions. My mom, and now my husband, can attest to the fact that all my life I have known exactly what I wanted and pursued my goals relentlessly. I am tenacious when I have my eye on something, which is putting it mildly. My husband has a few stronger but not as nice words to describe this particular quality I possess. I tell him that if I ever have to use it for him some day, he'll be grateful. Until then, I often complicate our lives with what I want to accomplish.

So when I say surrender, I mean giving up my ideas about how my life should go and what my kids need, and instead letting God whisper His truth to my heart. Or, you know, yell at me with a bullhorn when He can't get my attention any other way.

Give up control of my life?

Even writing that makes my skin crawl.

I know what's best for me, right?

It's a crazy idea.

Everything will go wrong.

I will have to do hard things.

I want my life to be easy.





But that crazy idea asks me which is better, to trust my limited view and knowledge, or to trust in the One who sees the future, works wherever and however He wills with an abundance of resources, makes all things new, loves me profoundly, and longs to bless me and give me peace? Put like that, I'd be crazy not to trust Him. Especially since He desires absolute good for me. True good. Good that will fill my soul with crazy happiness regardless of my circumstances and give me treasure that cannot be destroyed.

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, I'm with Him. Surrendering is not giving up precisely, but giving something over to someone stronger. And so I surrender my life to the Source of all things, to my Maker who wills great things for me.

Deep breaths. I might just be panicking a little. Or a lot.

This year of surrender is going to be scary and fun and more satisfying than anything I've ever experienced. I have just now decided that my word of the year should be something that I can't actually accomplish, unless God steps in. This is my hardest WOTY yet. It certainly has been hard to find.

Friday, January 17, 2014

No more evaluations, for now...

I have written about this before and here it is again, because it's frequently on my mind. For about a year now, I have been looking for a psychoeducational evaluation to give me a larger picture of Raccoon's strengths and weaknesses.

I had an appointment scheduled for October, then I cancelled it. I tried to go through our insurance but couldn't find the right services. I found some, he is now receiving occupational therapy for his Sensory Processing Disorder, but not the comprehensive evaluation I had in mind. But the clock is ticking and today was crunch time, when I had to decide whether or not to pursue more testing since we only have two weeks left.

After talking with the King and with my mom, I feel at peace about not testing right now. I found a psychologist who was recommended who seems like a good fit, so the plan is for me to observe Raccoon during our homeschooling experiment, reevaluate how things are going after a year, and possibly pursue testing when he turns 5.

Part of me is still curious what the results would be if we tested now. I'm always curious. But I have doubts about his ability to sit and focus for 2 hours, even with breaks. He might surprise me, he often does, but it's a big gamble to take with so much money on the line since we'd be paying for the evaluation out-of-pocket. 

Sometimes I feel like if I just knew what was going on, I could get everything right for him. But there is no fixed "right approach" because he is constantly changing and growing, as am I. So, going along with my school phrase of the year, I am going to let it go. I know early intervention is best and the earlier the better, but I feel like we have a pretty good handle on the day to day things, and five is still early enough if things aren't fully explained by his SPD.

Except speech, I do still plan to purse that because he has a few sounds he struggles to pronounce, especially with words like shrimp and ghost. It's fairly typical for boys to have delays with certain sounds, but he gets frustrated when others don't understand him. I can relate to that.

Is this too personal? I wonder... but I have found other parents sharing about their journeys into evaluation to be very helpful, so I wanted to put this out there in case someone else is standing on the edge, wondering whether or not to leap into the testing water.

No matter what, Raccoon is amazing. He fits into our family just right, just the way he is.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pondering: Chaos and Manna

"This is my manna. What I have is what God has prepared for me at this time, and in this place, for one simple reason – because He wanted to do it like that." - Michael Andrzejewski

These hard times, the days when I feel like pulling my hair out because I don't know how to shape my children into reasonable human beings, or when I just wish they could feed themselves, or when I am cleaning up the umpteenth spill of the day, or when I feel like a complete mommy failure, or when I shut myself in the bathroom for five minutes of alone time, this is my manna. There is sweet sustenance in the chaos of life, if only I can trust in the Provider and gather in just enough for that day.

I like that.

I have started bringing the computer with me to bed in order to get something done. My children's anxiety is increasing as our departure date approaches, so they are stickier than octopi arms during the day, giving me no more than 5 minutes at a time for rational thought. Sacrificing sleep is probably not the best idea either, but if I don't get something done, I shall go crazy, and that won't be good for any of us. So yes, it really is 1:39 am. Off I go to bed.

To have this life, to have these problems, this is my manna. I am grateful for the two little lives that are currently keeping me from doing anything else. Except I yelled at Life #1 this morning, "I can't spend all my time playing because I have to get something done today!" But then we made up for all the grumpiness floating around by going on a late-night shopping spree. 9 pm really is a wonderful time to shop because there is no one around to mind whatever chaos is happening around us. Raccoon bought a Superman sweatshirt and Captain America shield, both on sale. Ducky was happy just dropping everything out of the shopping cart, over and over and over. Yes, we're at that stage. But hey, if it gives me a few seconds of peace in between each retrieval, I'll play that game.

This is my manna. And I am content, joyous, grateful, even if next week's board meeting still has no agenda.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yes, it's SPD

I never really did get completely satisfying results from all the evaluation stuff, but at least one thing was confirmed and several things ruled out.

Yes, Raccoon has Sensory Processing Disorder.

Not a big shock there since I've been posting about it for a while, although I still found myself struggling with it some. He is still the same little boy I love, but I worried more about his future.

Yet seeing how far he has come these last few months, I trust that he's going to be okay. He has such a sensitive soul, and his superpower senses are just part of the picture.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sorry that I have been mostly absent this month. We are returning overseas on February 4th and I am doing my best just to stay sane and keep my children alive happy until we leave.

Add to this mix that I have given up chocolate for the 31 days of January. Not that I'm counting or anything...

Okay, yes I am counting the minutes hours days and I have 17 to go.

I plan to bake up a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies and take them with us on our trip, three weeks from today. I can rarely count on my son eating anything when we're travelling, but I'm hoping that at least he'll down a cookie or two. Not the most healthy alternative, but with a corn-allergic son, I'll take just about any calories I can get him to eat.

All this is to say that I'm not a foodie. I don't browse for recipes or look at pictures of food. But I do scan Yahoo! News every now and then. I couldn't resist an article called "Perfect Cookie Recipe" with a picture of chocolate chip cookies. I have to substitute oil for butter since we don't eat that, but I plan on trying this recipe when I break my chocolate fast. Or maybe this Cookie Dough Dip using the the Deep Dish Cookie Pie recipe since we don't do nuts or milk.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Word of the Year 2014: SANCTUARY

Cherish just isn't resonating with me.

As with many other decisions I'm facing right now, I feel strangely ambiguous about it all. The word that has been coming to mind during this last week is sanctuary. If you've ever watched this scene in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

I do want to cherish my loved ones this year, especially my children, but I think what they need more from me is sanctuary. A space apart from the turbulence of our lives just to be. A place where they are cherished, accepted, at peace, and protected. There are many changes coming this year, as always in our eventful lives it seems. Last year it was peace, and this year I am craving more space in my life, for the holy and the mundane.

So along with all those other pseudo-rules, I am going to break this one and change my word of the year, one week in.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Word of the Year 2014: CHERISH

The three contenders were: steadfast, enough, and cherish.

And the winner is CHERISH.

Childhood is so fleeting. I want my children to have a happy one, despite how nontypical it's likely to be, living between two countries. Today we moved into my parent's home as we prepare to return to South America in a little over a month. Raccoon was not happy with the change, but his anger passed and there were no huge meltdowns like we would have seen even a few months ago.

Kitty, on the other hand, keeps taking us to the door. She wants to go home, and we cannot explain that home is here, for now.

I want to cherish my family, each moment with them, because you never know when everything might suddenly change.

Peace and Light to all of you.

Other words I've found:
Humility - fb
Refresh - fb

p.s. I actually changed my word to sanctuary.