Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tag, You're it!

Since our family switched to eating whole foods, a lot has changed. John has lost about 20 lbs. Theo has lost 36 lbs. I've lost almost 50 lbs. We are trying to do a lot more things out of doors. And John's mood has stabilized more than ever before. (John is being treated for bipolar disorder and attachment issues).

Now that rages and panic attacks are at a minimum, we have to work on some of the social skills he's missed while being so sick. My goal for John at the park on Thursday was to approach some children at the playground and join in whatever they were playing. He tends to take RC cars or toys to the playground and pretend to play with them hoping it will attract the attention of other kids. It never does and he's always disappointed. Another thing he does is simply follow kids around hoping they'll invite him to play. Sometimes they do, but he doesn't want to play what they are already doing. He wants them to do things his way.

The goal was a big one. When John used to participate in Awanas he would PANIC when they started playing most games. He would panic if they sang a song he didn't know all the words to. He's run crying to me when other kids have invited him to try something new before.

But, we've been working.... so we got to the park and... Praise the Lord, there were lots of children. He tried the looking-bored technique and I reminded him of his goal.

He played near the children for a while and about 10 minutes later, I overheard a girl asking some other children who wanted to be "it" for tag. I looked at John and told him to ask if he could play. He did it! He did it clearly enough the girl understood him and he did it without drooling! She asked if he wanted to be it. He accepted the job. She told him to start counting. So he hunkered down and began.

I watched attentively while pretending I was hovering over Hannah. Miss Indepent really didn't need as much help as I made it seem. John continued to count. The other children squealed and ran to different places. John still counted. Hannah climbed a ladder and slid down a slide. John was counting.

Oh my goodness... it was like programming a loop in BASIC on an Apple IIe in middle school.
  • 10 Start counting
  • 20 Goto 10

Something HAD to be done. I needed to Command-Open Apple-Reset my son. I nonchalantly speak through my teeth, kindof a thrown whisper, "John, how far are you supposed to count?"

He raised his hands in desperation. There was frustration in his eyes. He said, "I dddooon't know."

"I think that's enough. Go catch the kids."

And he was off! Whew, a whole reboot was avoided and nothing crashed. He ran around and around. Children narrowly dodged his grasp. They all made it back to base. He was it again. He giggled and ran and chased and caught a much smaller little girl. The older playground leader who organized the game said, "Don't catch these two. They're too little. They don't count." Drat, she had no idea how delayed John was socially. I thought the half-pints were perfect for John's abilities. But, wow, it wasn't obvious to her John wasn't as capable as she was at this game!!! So she told him he was it again.

I started to mom-fret. You know, that's where you see injustice and you want to fix it but you want to let it work out on it's own. Sometimes intervention is necessary and has no side effects. Other times intervention works against your mom-intentions (related but not identical to mom-fret). If your mom-intentions are thwarted, you face causing greater problems than the original injustice and causing future problems as your child has not learned to work things out himself. Mom-fret always happens when there is little time to make a decision. It is never a black and white decision. Wording is of utmost importance. A mom-fret also involves wondering just who to address: another child or your own?

The source of my mom-fret is that John does very, very badly with perceived failure. He had failed to successfully catch anyone twice now. I wasn't sure he perceived it as failure or not. The catch and release issue with the younger child compounded things. It could mean he felt challenged or corrected by the leader. In the past, situations like this have caused complete melt-downs that turned into rages for an hour or more. I could've encouraged John but he might have seen that as embarrassing or interfering. I felt that he was taken advantage of because the other kids were working together to get past him and some of the rules were changing and he's really just a social baby.... Or, he might learn to say, "Okay, I'm tired of being it. Someone else needs to take a turn." if left to fend for himself.

In a moment of momness, where preservation of your own child's fragile self preceeds all other impulses, I say to the leader, "Do you have a limit on the number of times someone can be it in a row?" I try to sound like I'm just curious, for clarification's sake.

Another little girl, Leader's Associate said, "Three times in a row is enough. This is his last time." Apparently the new rule was ratified by her supervisor with an approving nod of the head. My heart rate slowed to normal. No mom-fret side effects, phewwww.

So he's it again and he catches no one. Leader's Associate volunteers. They play many rounds and John learns through trial and error what base is and how to say "1-2-3 base on me". He learns to stay in bounds through a minor correction by Leader's Associate. Sometimes he is caught and becomes it. Sometimes he is safe. He plays and he plays hard. It is a group of children aged 5 to 10. He fit somewhere in the middle. To everyone present, including me, he looked like a "normal" kid. When most of them had to leave, he waved bye and played a little by himself. We left the park about 15 minutes later.

This was the first time John has ever played at a playground and interacted with other children that not one single tear was shed. He didn't even throw a tantrum when we left. Hannah took care of that ritual!

On Thursday.... that boy was really IT and possibly a bag of chips! I'm so proud!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Naked Princess

Two thousand eight in the year of our Lord ushers in the reign of the Naked Princess in our household kingdom.  It has been six years since the last naked heir to the throne and I'm honestly out of practice in dealing with such regents.  
There must be some directive in the live of a toddler that deems it suddenly inconceivable to consent to the wearing of most any garments.  The prime directive, of course, being to search and destroy.  There are times of the day when most humans find themselves completely unhindered by clothing,  using the restroom or taking a bath being two such examples.  And since the bladders of naked rulers are such that they require frequent trips to the potty and/or diaper changes, they find themselves so unhindered more frequently than the other members of the kingdom.  It is perhaps this fact which leads to the desire to remain in the most natural state.  
Also, perhaps, it is the time in such a person's life that she finds herself capable of dodging the senior monarch's authority and grasp and outrunning said monarch during these perfectly acceptable naked times of day.  
A Naked Princess who holds the throne is one who understands exactly what she desires in all areas of her life.  Unfortunately, she lacks experiences to communicate these desires effectively to her loyal subjects.  In fact, to make up for accuracy in communication she will often increase volume and repetition. The most frequent decree at this time seems to be, "Mine, miiiine, miiiiiinnnnne."
One communication that is extremely clear from our princess is her desire to wear her tennis shoes (untied thank you very much) while reigning in the buff.   Her humble maid chooses at this time to occasionally oblige this wish.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Mercy

He is risen.  He is risen indeed. Hi all!  And a very happy Easter to you all.  What a wonderful celebration we have as Christians to celebrate our redemption through Christ's death, burial and resurrection. 

I have worshipped Christ since I was a little girl and am very thankful that He's still working on me.  I have chosen to believe and trust that God is indeed good and can make all things work together for good for those who love the Lord who are called according to his purpose.  

I've been amazed to see how some of the most horrible things in my life have been used for good. This includes horrible things associated with John's neglect/abuse and foster care shuffle and the endless court decision reversals and even my miscarriage while my husband was out of town and even John's bipolar.  God has seen us through some serious events and likely will see us through more.  I've been very blessed to see Him at work because He doesn't promise that we'll know or understand in this lifetime.  

I've had peace that passes understanding through these experiences all because I trust in the one who gives and takes away.  I love that Jesus takes anyone where they are at for who they are despite what they done or had done to them.  He wraps us in love and then doesn't leave us there but helps us to move forward if we allow him.  

I love the description of mercy I heard this morning.  Mercy is God refusing to agree with the identity that we, ourselves or someone else has given us.  He says, that is not how I've designed you.  You are royalty.  You are a child of the King.  It is the same thing that happened on the cross when Christ said to forgive them for they don't know what they are doing.  

He didn't come to label our sin or put a finger on it and make us feel bad, but to release us from the bondage that has put us in.  Jesus always met people where they were and didn't leave them with guilt and shame.  He released them from those very things.  

I need to remember this in my approach with others.  You know, I've allowed John's history and mental illness to color my thoughts about him.  I've labeled him with a label other than one meant for him.  My sweet son has been rescued from very serious conditions.  His attachments to human individuals is whole.  With God's leading to change our eating habits the healing is that much closer to completion.  John is who he is and I won't accept anyone but God's expectations for him as a person.  I have been forgiven much and that forgiveness must flow back out of me to distribute that mercy.  When I forget that I've been forgiven and I reaccept some other definition of myself, I sure do get high and mighty.  

I pray that the mind of Christ is magnified through my life and to those I encounter in my life.  I pray that the mercy which has been given me and freed me with do the same for the people I know.  

I'm so excited for this reminder of the amazing new life I've been given.  
He is risen!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


My husband and I have a standing rule when visiting new cities.  He doesn't drive.  I don't navigate.  This is meant purely for the safety and sanity of my family.  You see, when Theo drives in a new city he is fascinated, enthralled (distracted, if you will) by the skyline, the number of lines on the electrical poles, the state of public transport and all the pretty lights.  In the best of circumstances I am able to locate North on a road map.  It can take 3 miles for me to discover where we are and 5 more minutes to determine how we might get there.  All the while, we are bumping along driving over curbs, swerving and narrowly missing other vehicles  past all the viable pathways to our destination.  Our 8 year old perceives the danger and as soon as he is able to more reliably read street signs he might commandeer my maps.  

It is nice that Theo and I are both relatively unflustered by this issue.  In fact, after nearly thirteen years, it's usually funny to both of us.  Usually in the middle of traffic one of us will realize we accidentally messed up and switched our assigned roles when it is impossible to make it right.  

I realized my navigational issues early in my driving career; age 16.  I accompanied my father on a business trip.  We drove for three days to Denver, Colorado.  On the way, while my father was sleeping, I discovered the hard way what "exit only" meant.  Once in the city, I was allowed to explore on my own whilst Dad was in meetings.   I basically drove around in circles, stopped to get my haircut and buy an outfit at the mall and then continued my driving pattern until I saw a sign that noted the next gas station was in 80 miles.  I turned around and, by the grace of God, finally arrived back at out hotel in time for dinner.

Now, I am almost 32 years old and am as cartographically challenged as ever.  I came to Huntsville, Alabama this week while Theo is on a business trip on the West coast.  I set out from East Tennessee, realizing after I embarked that I had no directions and couldn't remember how to get there.  I decided to call for directions once I got on I-59.  Alas, I made the wrong decision.  I-59 is integral for a trip to Birmingham but entirely unnecessary for Huntsville.  I got directions from my friend when I realized I was on the wrong road.  The remaind 2 hours of the trip my 17 month old screamed.  I'm sure she was lamenting my inability to take a direct route anywhere.

And then again, last night, I had directions for a trip with the kids and I to Target.  I looked over the directions.  They were simple enough.  Outside of the subdivision it was two turns.... that's all.... two turns!  Things were going well until I counted the traffic lights and the third light didn't match the road that was supposed to be at the third light.  Well, the circling began immediately.  I went backward two lights thinking I'd missed it.  I went forward another light and I think back one again.  Finally, I called my friend and she assured me the road I was on eventually intersected the one I wanted.  

In the meantime, Hannah was complaining loudly about her anti-directional mother.  I absent-mindedly turned on some music.  John was quietly listening to his MP3 player.  As soon as I turned on the radio, Hannah calmed and started swaying, smiling and trying to sing along to the music.  I tapped my foot and hummed without really paying attention to anything but the number of traffic lights.  When at last I reached the desired street, I started singing aloud the the song I recognized from the nineties.  And my Mommy Eyes widened and mouth dropped open as I realized my 17 month old daughter and I were jamming out with Pebo Bryson singing about SEX-ual Healing.  Click, I think that's enough radio for this afternoon.  Wow, look, we made it to Target!   

Exbfing: Extended Breastfeeding

Nursing in a wrap

Well, this is post number three and I find myself already wondering what on earth I might blog today.  Sadly, my dear squirrel hunting friend has returned to her normal, non-crittercidal self.  So I can't even share news of her misadventures.  (Yes, I did just create a new word.  I think its definition is self-evident.)  Now that I'm thinking of it, there might be a hint of lipstick on the end of the marshmallow gun this afternoon but I think I shall let sleeping squirrels lie.

I thought I would spend time blogging a little on each of the initials in my introduction.  I thought I'd talk a little about extended breastfeeding.   First of all, I had  a desire to breastfeed based on my tendency to do things that I consider easy and natural.  In this case, breastfeeding fit the bill.  All the research that says it's a good idea nutritionally and immunologically and for bonding just helped to turn my desire into a conviction.  

 Like many convictions I realize each of us is accountable for what she is personally convicted to do and that it doesn't apply necessarily universally.  I say that because I know that every woman has a story and a reason behind the decisions she makes for herself and her children.  I don't want anyone to feel that I am judging formula feeding or pumping moms.  I know that breastfeeding is an emotionally charged word.  

Many people that I know are aware of all the good benefits available with breastfeeding and I've yet to meet anyone who has been nasty to me about my choice.  But I have encountered many who are squeamish about breastfeeding after a few months and especially after the first year.  

The truth is that children world-wide tend to self wean between the ages of 2 to 4.  And it is perfectly natural and beneficial.  The WHO recommends breast feeding for at least 2 years.  According to something I've read, the immune properties of breast milk are actually higher during the second year.  

So despite disparaging remarks about breastfeeding children who can speak and walk, I've made my own decision to continue.  I find it a rewarding experience to know I'm helping with her nutrition, her immune system, and her comfort.  She shows her appreciation for milk.  In addition, Hannah is allergic to cow's milk so it is fantastic to not have to find a substitute.  I know she's getting everything she needs from me.

Sometimes, because I know that many others are not used to the idea of a toddler nursing, I feel self-conscious.  I love the way my husband phrases it.  He says that full term nursing is not "extended" breast-feeding;  breast feeding for less than full term is abbreviated nursing.  It helps me feel better to remember that while I'm doing a "weird" thing I'm not doing a wrong thing, so I can continue to nurse proudly.   

When will I stop?  I'm not sure.  Breastfeeding is a relationship.  Right now we are both happy the way it is.  If that changes for either of us, then our relationship will adjust.  And just as a warning to those who might be shocked, I'm perfectly willing to nurse through any pregnancies and nurse a baby and a toddler at the same time.  Besides, the longer she nurses, the lower the chances of cancer are for both of us.  Even so, I think we'll stop before she goes to college.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Squirrel Hunting

I'm visiting my dear friend in Alabama this week.  It's nice that we homeschool so we can pack up and take trips like this.  Since I've been eating only whole foods for a few months, I've had the pleasure to introduce my friend and her family to some our typical foods which includes smoothies made with spinach.  She was, I believe, surprised to find herself asking me to make another smoothie for breakfast this morning.  

This is a friend of mine who shares some of the same behaviors with initials that I do.  We have a wonderful time talking and watching our children play together.  She's a fastidious housekeeper. She's a master of routine, kindness and cleanliness.  She has a great sense of humor and is lots of fun to be with.  

I settle down this afternoon to begin homeschooling with my son while she nursed her daughter to get ready for bed.  The house is serene as she nourishes her daughter with milk as I nourish my son with knowledge.  We are doing word problems involving fractions with great concentration.  My 17 month old daughter is sleeping and my friend's other child is watching with great interest as we do school.  

Suddenly a loud crashing, banging noise issues forth from the room.  The boys and I freeze and stare wide eyed at one another as we hear my sweet friend rap the window pane and yell "You are stupid! Don't eat my birdseed!!!!"  I then hear the Mommy voice return as she says "you can tell him too."  So we hear mother and daughter together berating the rogue squirrel in the backyard.  The three of us stifle our laughter, afraid to wake my daughter. 

My friend had informed me yesterday of her passion against this squirrel who eats her birdseed.  She's greased the pole on her bird feeder and has wished for the first time in her life, for a firearm.  The picture of this petite, soft-spoken Mama, formally trained as a librarian gunning for a squirrel was something I couldn't quite imagine.  

The house went back to quiet and she sweetly sang her daughter to sleep.  She tidied up the house while her son got ready to listen to hear read aloud from "Farmer Boy".   I realized as we worked on school that she was bustling about as she does and had some things in her hands.  

Then I realized one of the things in her hands was a bag of marshmallows.  I admit I was perplexed and mildly intrigued but I remained focused on the task of training up my child in the way that he should go.  We work in this breakfast nook at a table in front of a big picture window.  I realized my son's attention was raptly focused on that window suddenly.  I followed his gaze and my face nearly cracked in half with a silly grin.

My friend stood on the deck with a menacing marshmallow gun rapid firing into the backyard.  At last the picture I couldn't quite imagine stood larger than life framed in a pretty window with a nice woodsy backdrop.  The only way I could reconcile this image to reality was to remind myself that she would probably be in the backyard later intently cleaning white sugary globs from the grass.  Only then would I believe my friend had not in actuality been visited by aliens.  

Monday, March 17, 2008

Initials and Introduction

Hi!  I'm Holly.  I'm a Quiverfull Christian, HSing, CDing, CSing, EXBFing, WFing, BWing, ECing SAHM of two and wife of one.    On any given alternative parenting bulletin board those initials may show up in my signature line.   What do all those letters mean?  Well, I must explain that those special abbreviations fit together seamlessly into a brilliant equation that proves I'm, well, weird.  

There.  You have it.  Strangers wonder about it.  My friends know it.  My family laments it.  My husband is inexplicably  intrigued and somewhat amused by it.  But what most people are surprised to find out is that I'm aware of it.  I admit it.  In fact, I embrace it.    

How can I deny it?  Those initials say that I potty trained my daughter starting at 1 month old and I routinely tie her to my body.   I realize those letters can sometimes stand out pretty boldly and all you can see is the weirdness.  My hope is to share with you the person behind the initials.   That, and to teach you to love brussels sprouts and green smoothies.