What Are You Able to Do?

There’s a lot of talk about responsibility in our culture. It’s suggested that people don’t take responsibility for things they should. There’s also a suggestion that taking on more or too much responsibility is good for the soul and it’s a moral failing not to. Saying no is not encouraged, especially if you are aContinue reading “What Are You Able to Do?”


To Jack I am a villain. Every time he contacts me he shares his poisonous worldview with me and I shrink a little inside. I feel defensive and I know intellectually that I haven’t done anything wrong but of course part of me worries that he is right. It’s difficult to move forward sometimes. TheContinue reading “Villains”

Skewed Thinking

“Sometimes when your worldview becomes too skewed from reality, it’s difficult to realign what you think you know with what is real.”–Nathan Lowell (from In Ashes Born)

Choosing Curricula for Kitty, Part One: Reading, With Handwriting and Spelling

This post talks about reading, spelling and handwriting curricula that we have chosen for Kitty. It isn’t an endorsement or criticism of any particular curriculum, but an examination of how we are working to match various curricula with Kitty’s individual needs. I learned to read late. The school system used the “look/guess” method to teachContinue reading “Choosing Curricula for Kitty, Part One: Reading, With Handwriting and Spelling”

The Present Moment

All of my reading has led me to the conclusion that in order to recover from the abuse that I suffered at the hands of my ex I need to become more mindful and spend more time in the moment. This helps the mind and body to calm themselves and to retrain the fight orContinue reading “The Present Moment”

Gray Rocking It With Jack

I needed a way to respond to Jack without letting his words provoke me into saying something stupid. Advice about dealing with toxic people usually includes using the “gray rock” method. Essentially, it is a technique that involves imitating the most boring thing possible (a gray rock) when communicating with emotionally immature, abusive or manipulativeContinue reading “Gray Rocking It With Jack”

Limited Posterior Release and Achilles Tendon or Clubfoot Heel Release Surgery and Its Aftermath for a 5 Year Old

I want to write a full account of my daughter Kitty’s recent outpatient surgery (Limited Posterior Release and Achilles Tendon or Clubfoot Heel Release) for other parents needing to decide whether or not to have their child undergo it, because information about the procedure is hard to find on the web. I can’t speak toContinue reading “Limited Posterior Release and Achilles Tendon or Clubfoot Heel Release Surgery and Its Aftermath for a 5 Year Old”

Timing and Learning

Timing is crucially important with Kitty, especially in learning–as it is with a lot of other things in life. Take, for example, the teasel. The teasel is a biennial plant. In its first year it is a green rosette that looks like a flat lettuce or primrose. It squashes competition from plants around it byContinue reading “Timing and Learning”

Word Salad

When we were still seeing each other, Jack would often confuse me, making it seem that my words had not made sense to him. I would get flustered, thinking that I hadn’t expressed myself clearly and I’d try to explain myself again, to no avail. After several years of this, I realized that he eitherContinue reading “Word Salad”

From the Outside

It is really really hard to understand what is going on inside of another person from the outside–even if that person can tell you what they are feeling. Even when we do understand somewhat, it’s hard to know how to respond in a way that makes the situation better instead of inflaming it. Often, IContinue reading “From the Outside”

A Time For Anger

Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. Aristotle

The Magic of Lemon Balm

We’ve been using alcohol free lemon balm drops for Kitty’s anxiety for about two months now. We saw that they helped almost immediately, and it is clear now that they continue to work.  Kitty enjoys putting the drops of lemon balm into her smoothie or juice each day (I never gave her juice before becauseContinue reading “The Magic of Lemon Balm”


Forgiveness is about letting go of revenge. It is being capable of holding two contradictory emotions inside and choosing to live in love rather than drown in hatred We are told that forgiveness is good for us. We are told to forgive those who have trespassed against us. To turn the other cheek. But IContinue reading “Forgiveness”

Genuine Apologies

I believe that every apology needs to be the beginning of a new chapter in a relationship. It can be– if it’s a genuine apology, so we need a working definition of the term “genuine apology.” An apology can’t be genuine if the person apologizing hasn’t first accepted the reality of the situation, both innerContinue reading “Genuine Apologies”

Infusing Kindness

“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping; to smile without hostility at people and institutions; to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work; to show greater patience; to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism– allContinue reading “Infusing Kindness”

COVID Comes to Our House

Monday night Kitty started feeling unwell. This isn’t unusual: Jack has her Saturdays and Sundays, so usually Kitty crashes somewhere between Sunday night and Tuesday morning. She holds everything inside until she feels safe enough to let her emotions show, which can take a while after she gets home. Sometimes this manifests as a meltdown,Continue reading “COVID Comes to Our House”

A Happy Moment

Last night I told my mom about something that had happened that day and we laughed. It was the first time in years that we’d laughed so hard our cheeks hurt and my abs got a workout. It felt so good that I went to bed happy for the first time in a long time.Continue reading “A Happy Moment”

“My Choice Is Not a Criticism of Your Choice”: A New Plan to Defend Against Certain Conversational Attacks on Boundaries

The query: “How can I find you on Facebook?” My answer: “I don’t have a Facebook account.” The attack: “Really? I thought everyone was on Facebook. I couldn’t keep up with my friends/business without it!” The query: “So, how do you stay busy if you don’t work?” My answer: “I’m raising a child and homeschoolingContinue reading ““My Choice Is Not a Criticism of Your Choice”: A New Plan to Defend Against Certain Conversational Attacks on Boundaries”

“I will never eat chocolate again if you don’t give it to me now!!!”

30 seconds before serving dinner I hear an imperious voice from behind me, “I want chocolate!” Never mind that I have quietly reminded Kitty thirty times today to say “please”. Never mind that the dinner I’m making is one of her favorite meals. Never mind that she ate something not fifteen minutes ago. I tryContinue reading ““I will never eat chocolate again if you don’t give it to me now!!!””

Addressing Externalizing Thought Patterns in a Child

In this post I talk about trying to apply what I’ve learned from a book called Problem Children: It’s Not Always the Parent’s Fault, by Dr. George Tucker. I have another post, Extreme Thinking in a Child, that talks more in depth about extreme thinking. To recap, Dr Tucker has five general suggestions for dealingContinue reading “Addressing Externalizing Thought Patterns in a Child”

Keeping a Child Mobile After Surgery

There are several priorities to juggle post-surgery, including pain management, maintaining connection with the child, and encouraging physical movement to avoid prolonged inactivity. This post is about meeting the challenge of keeping Kitty moving. At first we used the wheelchair the hospital provided for the first two days while Kitty was loopy from the painContinue reading “Keeping a Child Mobile After Surgery”

Does My Child Have Developmental Delays and/or Disabilities?

Maybe, but I’m pretty sure Kitty just needs more time. She’s making strides forward and it’s likely that in a few more years she’ll be completely “caught up” in the lagging skills without any need for intervention. I’ve read that most, if not all, children who suffer ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) will have developmental delays.Continue reading “Does My Child Have Developmental Delays and/or Disabilities?”

The Collection Connection

Children can experience separation any time your attention wanders away from them. It’s important to reconnect frequently. Both Deborah Macnamara’s book Rest, Play, Grow and Gordon Neufeld’s book Hold on to Your Kids speak of something they call ‘collection’. This is a connection obtained from a child before asking for a behavioral change. If thatContinue reading “The Collection Connection”

When a Four Year Old Tries Out Lying: Retaining a Bit of “Mommy” Mystique

Given Jack’s penchant for creating deceptions and lies, it’s hardly surprising that I was majorly triggered recently when Kitty made her first foray into lying. A big part of who I am is being honest, open and non-manipulative. Jack pretends to be honest, but he isn’t. He actually has raised deceit to an art form,Continue reading “When a Four Year Old Tries Out Lying: Retaining a Bit of “Mommy” Mystique”

Contemplating Yet Another Surgery For a Small Child

Pain is really hard for Kitty. Really. Really. Hard. And surgery inevitably causes pain. So the question becomes, “Pain now or potential pain later? Surgery or …?” A couple of weeks ago we made the umpteenth journey from “Smallville” to “Megopolis” for an appointment to check on Kitty’s physical disability. This time the doctor recommendedContinue reading “Contemplating Yet Another Surgery For a Small Child”

Death of a Parent and Counterwill-Based Attachment in Adults

A person with counterwill attachment may be able to “fake” maturity–right up to the point that their primary attachment parent dies. It was when Jack’s father died a few years ago that things started to go precipitously downhill in our relationship (although I now realize that there were definite problems before then). Jack refused toContinue reading “Death of a Parent and Counterwill-Based Attachment in Adults”

15 Second Lesson Plans

Helping Kitty build confidence as she explores the world of reading. Recently I wrote about how Kitty is learning letters and numbers in 15 second chunks. I thought it might help to explain a bit more about how I determine the content of those lightning-quick lessons.  Right now, Kitty recognizes most letters most of theContinue reading “15 Second Lesson Plans”

Validation and Intimacy

Once validation has been turned off in a relationship, intimacy is effectively over. When you can’t be open with someone or they can’t be open with you anymore, you can’t be emotionally or spiritually close to each other. We all have close and not-so-close relationships with those around us. I’ve spent an inordinate amount ofContinue reading “Validation and Intimacy”

“Growth” Mindset Versus “Having Arrived” Mindset

By telling kids they are “smart”, we instill a fear of “failure” and thus take away their drive to explore and make the mistakes that lead to learning. Jack embodies this mindset, particularly in his lack of emotional growth. Recently I read Salman Khan’s little blog post about never telling his 5-year-old that he’s “smart”.Continue reading ““Growth” Mindset Versus “Having Arrived” Mindset”

Developing a Child’s Confidence Through Growing Competence

Confidence should grow from competence. Our confidence in our abilities to handle situations needs to be based in reality. When our confidence isn’t based in reality, it is a liability.  For example, in People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck draws a portrait of a woman who routinely drives around with almost no gas inContinue reading “Developing a Child’s Confidence Through Growing Competence”

Moving The Toys

Contrary behavior is pretty common with Kitty. The other day at bedtime I came over to Kitty and said, “Can we move your toys out of the hallway so no one trips during the night?” I pointed to a spot about four feet away and out of tripping-hazard-zone. “We can put them right here.” ImmediatelyContinue reading “Moving The Toys”

Unpicking Tiny Traumas From an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

I have noticed that certain statements and actions once made by Jack keep resurfacing in my thoughts, and I end up feeling defensive and arguing in my head against those statements and wishing things were different. This steals my time and energy, leaving me feeling defeated with projects and actions before I’ve even begun.  I’veContinue reading “Unpicking Tiny Traumas From an Emotionally Abusive Relationship”

Bedtime Connection

There is a song that my daughter likes. It’s called “Do you like broccoli ice cream?” It’s a very simple call and answer song and the first line is, “Do you like broccoli?” and the kids sing back, “Yes, I do! Yes, I do!” Then the caller sings, “Do you like ice cream?” And againContinue reading “Bedtime Connection”

Playground Angst

I went to a different park than I usually go to and there I ran into a mother with two kids. Kitty noticed their car in the parking lot when we arrived. The plastic was broken on one of the front brake lights. It had been carefully taped over but the tape had let goContinue reading “Playground Angst”

Getting Away from Drama

My focus right now is on healing and getting on with living, making sure that the relationships I have are good, fulfilling and loving. In the book Factfulness, Hans Rosling talks about how our culture celebrates and focuses on drama–to our detriment. He was talking about worldwide issues like poverty, but it applies equally toContinue reading “Getting Away from Drama”

Is it worth it?

*The approach referenced in this blog post is the approach described in the book Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen. When my Meemaw was near the end of her life she devolved into senility. It became incredibly difficult to converse with her. Having a half hour conversation felt like climbing Mount Everest. My mother andContinue reading “Is it worth it?”

Storm in a Teacup

The mornings that Kitty goes to visit Jack are hard for all of us. We have to get Kitty out of bed, dressed, and have breakfast. Then we have some quiet activities to keep Kitty occupied while we wait for Jack to text that he has arrived to pick her up. How it works isContinue reading “Storm in a Teacup”


I struggled for years to help Kitty to fall asleep. I read extensively about what would help and the only advice that people gave was “create a routine.” It was somewhat helpful, but I noticed that the nights that Kitty fell asleep easily were the nights that I felt more connected with her. I workedContinue reading “Bedtime”

The Duck

Kitty was so delighted when she found Mother Duck all by herself! A worry that my mother and I share is that my daughter does not persevere. She is so afraid of failing that she often won’t even try. It is sad to watch and hard on Kitty to miss out on life.  Jack fostersContinue reading “The Duck”

Compassion for a Toxic Ex

When I finally broke up with Jack earlier this year, a mask came off and he started speaking and acting with such viciousness that I grew terrified of him. I am still terrified, partly because I know that if I listen to him–his twisted justifications, and his absolute certainty about everything–I will end up crumblingContinue reading “Compassion for a Toxic Ex”

Boundaries With my Psychologically Abusive Ex

One of the most useful things people have written about online is how they communicate with their exes, explaining what works and what doesn’t work. So I thought, since every person’s situation is different I could share my experience. I’ve reduced my contact with Jack to email (and limited texting) only, but within that limit,Continue reading “Boundaries With my Psychologically Abusive Ex”

Why Homeschooling?

Nanna and I always planned to homeschool Kitty, but when we looked into preschools, the financial cost really drove home how it could benefit us. Since preschool is not mandatory and costs a bundle in our area, we thought it would be a good chance to test run homeschooling to see if it was actuallyContinue reading “Why Homeschooling?”

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