Tortoise Brain or Hare Brain?

brain running

Doctor’s Illustration of Rose’s Brain

Explaining to a five year old why their brain doesn’t work quit right is a challenge. The psychiatrist gave it his best shot, “There is this little man in this part of your brain (He points to a picture of the brain and the part that controls impulses and self-regulation). He runs really, really fast. Then there is this guy (he points to the picture of the stick figure standing in the thinking part of the brain). He doesn’t move as fast. We want to play a game to stop this guy (the impulsive one) and speed up this guy (the thinking one) so that he (the thinking one) wins the race.”

hare 1

My first thought – Rose’s brain is The Tortoise and the Hare. How can I use the story to help her in her therapy?

I love, love, love the book “Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviors.” (Did I mention I love this book?) The book asks the question, “Could truths contained in the rich realm of story reach children more directly, and in a way more in tune with their innate imaginative capacities?”  Later in the book, Susan Perrow answers this question by writing, “All stories have therapeutic or healing potential. If a story makes people laugh, the laughter can be healing. If a story makes them cry, this can be healing too. Folk and fairy tales, through their universal themes and resolutions, have healing possibilities. They can offer hope and courage to face the trial of life and help the listener find ways to move forward…But over and above the healing potential of all stories, specific stories can help or heal specific situations…When (we) use a healing story with children, the story has the potential to bring the behavior or situation back into balance.”

Perrow’s advice for writing or rewriting classic stories for a specific child’s needs:

  1. Focus on specific behavior (“throws a toy” not “acts out violently”)
  2. Use Repetition, rhythm and rhyme (these stick in the mind)
  3. Have a happy and hope-filled ending

I decided to write a “healing” story to help with the process. Here is my humble attempt:

hare 3

Once upon a time there was a hare. He was very bouncy, and jumped around aimlessly. He moved so fast, he never stopped to think about where he was going or what he was doing.

In the same meadow, lived a tortoise. As everyone knows, tortoises are very slow. What they may not know is that tortoises are also very wise. The reason they are slow is because they think about every step they take.

One day the tortoise said to the hare,

“Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

“I am so much faster than the tortoise and I so like to win.” thought the Hare.

The tortoise repeated,

“Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

So the race began. The tortoise thought about where he was going and began moving. He did not move fast, but he kept his eye on the finish line and kept moving forward – thinking about each step as he went. As he strode along, the tortoise kept repeating,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare knew he would win – and he had a little time to spare – so he jumped and hopped and spun around in circles. The hare accidentally kicked a rock and stubbed his toe. It hurt, but he could still hop on one foot faster than the tortoise could walk.

All of the sudden the tortoise passed the hare – still saying,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare became really angry when he saw the tortoise passing and instead of hopping faster towards the finish line, he kicked a tree with his good foot. “OWWW” yelled the hare.

Just then the tortoise crossed the finish line and said,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare was sad that he had not stopped and thought about how to win the race like the tortoise did – but the wise tortoise promised to help him STOP, THINK, and 

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”


My Illustration of Rose’s Brain

Challenges of an Unknown Syndrome

Kymee's Turning OneAt three months, Rose was diagnosed with Fetal Valproate Syndrome by a geneticist. That geneticist is the only doctor’s she’s ever had who knew what the diagnosis was without looking it up on google. If the doctors we deal with on a regular basis don’t know what it is – you can bet friends, family, babysitters, teachers, and random people who see her at the park or store have never heard of it.Kymee's Turning OneFetal Valproate Syndrome is a disorder caused by exposure in the womb to certain prescription drugs. For Rose, the symptoms included cleft lip and palate, a hole in her heart, specific facial and body features, and sticky ear – sometimes causing hearing loss. As she grows older, we are encountering both learning challenges and behavioral issues.d49c7-grandmaThere are many challenges with parenting a child with an “unknown” syndrome. There is next to no research and studies done on it. Little information is found through google. There are no other parents around whose kid has the same thing and I can compare notes. The lack of information available makes me as a parent questions everything I do – “Is this behavior because of the syndrome or am I doing something wrong in disciplining?” “Is this naughty behavior, or unavoidable behavior?” Another frustration is the inability to streamline all of her treatments and therapies. The Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center says this about treatment, “Currently there are no specific treatments for fetal valproate syndrome. Each symptom or birth defect associated with fetal valproate syndrome are managed individually, and may require a team of specialist.” The team thing never happens – it just means I have to go through a ridiculous intake program every time Rose sees a new doctor or therapist. This is time consuming and inefficient.3e604-12-may3So, what can you, the reader do?

  1. Be kind. Have empathy. If you see a kid having a melt down at the store don’t automatically assume the kid is a brat in need of better parents. Mom is frustrated – she doesn’t need your judgmental look or underhanded comment. You don’t know what that family is facing – so just be nice.
  2. Be informed. If someone with an “unknown syndrome” is in your acquaintance – find out about it – to the best of your ability.
  3. Don’t compare. My child is not like other kids her age. She is not like kids with other syndromes. She is not defined by her syndrome alone. She is beautiful and she has some challenging behaviors. She is herself – period. Let’s celebrate her growth – at whatever speed it is, and work on her challenges – without comparing them to others.
  4. Listen. I need a listening ear. I get frustrated and sometimes just need to talk about it.
  5. Ask.Don’t be afraid to ask, “How can I help you?”
  6. Do respite care. I trust few people with the care of my daughter – I trusted even less when she was smaller. If you are in the “trusted few” – I need you. I need you because somedays I need to get away or I am going to go mad. If you aren’t in the “trusted few” – spend some time with me and my daughter and become one of the few. My few are getting burnt out too, and I need you.
  7. Be patient with me when I am having a bad day. It probably isn’t directed at you – but at the frustrations of dealing with my child’s behavior, or the countless calls and visits I make to doctors and therapists.

Kymee 1

I remind myself often of the question the social worker asked us before we adopted Rose. “How do you feel about the possibility that she may have disabilities?” I responded, “God has given her everything she needs to accomplish everything He has set out for her to do.” Our job is to stay close to Him allowing him to direct us as we navigate this unknown syndrome – because it is not unknown to Him.






Take it from Herb: Have Patience

My older kids HATE the Herbert the Snail song which I would sing to them when they were impatient – “Have Patience. Have Patience. Don’t be in such a hurry …” Now I’m singing it to myself.

After reading and watching Helle Heckmann’s work, “Chidhood’s Garden” I was convicted to slow down my life, I just didn’t realize how frustrating it would be.

We go through our morning routine – personal devotions (thank God I didn’t forget this one today!) , breakfast, dishes, chores …

“Time to play outside Rose. Would you like to go to the park today?”


“What do you need to do before we can leave?”

“Put my puzzle away. Get dressed.”

Patience 1I’m thinking ten, fifteen minutes max – think again.

Three out of five of my children would throw the block puzzle pieces into the toy box – never to be found again. If I was lucky, one of my five would have put the blocks back in the original case haphazardly and put the case away. Then there’s Rose …

She has to put the puzzle together inside the case.

5 minutes later, she’s done. Or not …

She has done the puzzle – cow picture up – on the window of the case, so when she shuts the case and looks through the window the tractor picture and not the cow picture is showing through the window.

Therefore, she must redo the puzzle.

She dumps it out.

She thinks it through and realizes she must put together the puzzle on the opposite side of the case – away from the window.

10 minutes later (between the thinking and redoing the puzzle) .. she’s done.

Or not … When she closes the case, holds it by it’s handle, and looks through the window.

Sure enough, the cow picture is showing … but it is upside-down!

Patience 5

She opens the case and dumps it.

She sits and stares at it.

10 minutes later, she asks how to do it – No kidding she stared at it for almost 10 minutes without saying a word!

I take a deep breath and tell her – when really I wanted to throw the puzzle pieces into the toy box abyss.

She proudly completes the puzzle so that the cow picture is correctly seen through the case window.

Patience 3

Patience 6

Now time to get dressed.

She picks her clothes and lays them out to look at them (is this normal?).

She decides she wants two pig-tails, so grabs the pack of rubber bands.

Patience 2

Unfortunately there are five colors left on the scrunci pack.

She methodically takes two rubber yellow rubber bands off the pack and lays it on top of her shirt and stands back and looks a while.

She places the yellow bands back on the cardboard holder, and takes two orange off, lays them on her shirt, stands back, contemplates.

Returns the orange and slides the pink off – does the same.

Exchanges pink for red – same old, same old. Puts red back and tries out purple. She finally decides on one yellow and one purple.

This whole process took 20 minutes of my life! I have to admit I sat and watched and was somehow mesmerized by the entire process.

If you’ve been figuring … that’s 45 minutes to put one puzzle away and get dressed before we can head to the park.

I’ve been learning:

  • to sit on my hands – instead of jumping in and doing it myself
  • to bite my tongue – instead of scolding, rushing, or nagging
  • to observe – not instruct
  • to appreciate how God made her – much more meticulous than myself
  • to have patience – we really didn’t need to get to the park at a given time

I also realize that the process she took to get ready taught her valuable lessons …

  • critical thinking and problem solving as she figured out how to put the puzzle in the way she wanted it to go
  • Creativity and self expression in choosing clothes – and Scruncis
  • Self -confidence in being able to do it herself at her own speed

Maybe it was 45 minutes well spent. Maybe I will someday learn to enjoy this slower pace , for now I have Herb in my head singing,  “Have Patience. Have Patience. Don’t be in such a hurry …”

"Off with her head" – Bullying

Charles Robinson – 1907

Yesterday, I witnessed three 10 year old boys hanging out at the pool. One squirted another with a water blaster, the third boy cried out to his friend who was being sprayed, “He’s just a bully, let’s not play with him anymore.” 
Is the boy who squirt the water blaster any more of a bully than the one who labeled him as such?
Are we teaching prejudice when we label children as bullies?
As Christians, how do we handle the issue of bullying with our own kids?
I know I am tackling an issue with lots of emotions tied to it. I myself have many emotions attached to the word. I’m not an expert in “bullying” – I am just a mother who has lived through and is living through a generation obsessed with the concept of bullying. 
I know what it feels like to be the mother of a bullied child. Remember “My Space”- the social networking site prior to facebook? My junior high daughter had a “My Space” page entitled “I hate Emily.” The cowardly, unidentified author of the site proceeded to rip apart my daughter and write everything negative that he thought about her on the open internet forum.  She cried. I cried. I was angry. The only redeeming thing about the experience was that she had so many friends defend her and write sweet things about her on the site. Her friends stood up for her, and eventually the angry cyber bullying stopped because his comments fell on deaf ears.  I wanted desperately to protect my daughter – but there was little I could do. 
Charles Folkard – 1921

I know what it feels like to be the mother of a “bully.” I say this very loosely – because I really don’t believe my child is a bully, in fact I think it is impossible for a three-year old to be a bully- but she has been labeled as one. You see, my daughter has disabilities which include “behavioral issues.” I hate the term because it always makes me think that normal discipline could fix these issues – I also think people have much great sympathy for those with physical disabilities than with kids who have “behavioral issues.” But, back to the bullying situation. My daughter can be overly aggressive without knowing it. She also deals with melt-downs in which she hurts herself, things, and others in her uncontrollable anger.  The hurting others has cost me relationships – there are friends I have who will not bring their children around mine because they are afraid my child with hurt theirs. I rarely leave my daughter – there are only a handful of places or adults I trust with her. But everywhereI have ever dropped her off – at church, or nursery situation – I have seen a toddler run and hide and say, “don’t let her hurt me.” I have witnessed child care workers talking with each other, and parents talking to each other and I have heard them say my daughter is a “bully.” I am sad for these other kids –I don’t want them to be hurt, and I want them to be hurt at the hands of my child even less. I want desperately to protect my daughter from being labeled a “bully” – but I don’t always know what to do. 

I can tell you from experience that parenting a child labeled a bully is just as painful and heart-wrenching as parenting a child who is bullied.

John Tenniel – 1865
Researching this topic has been eye-opening. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children claim to have been bullied, and 1 in 5 admits to having bullied.  Sometimes the same child experiences both sides.
So how should we as Christian parents address the issue?
1) Teach Children to be self-confident.
“Students who have been bullied exhibit depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades, and suicidal ideation.”
All children will be called names on the playground or be roughed up a little. If a child is self-confident, he can deal with the everyday stuff.  You, or another adult, won’t need to step in unless the situation is ongoing or excessive.
How do you teach self-confidence?
                Teach them who they are in Christ. Have them memorize Psalms 139:13-14
“For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you(T) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
                Tell them how much you love them, how they are special, and how blessed you are to have       them.
                Encourage them to try new things, and get them involved in things they love and things they are             good at – but don’t pressure them to be the best or perfect.
Surprisingly, I have seen my 16 year old son “bullied.” But when asked, he states he has never been bullied. I believe it is because he feels good about himself, believes the best in others, and forgives easily, so he is able to let hurtful words slide off of him easily.
2) Teach children to be kind.
                Memorize Eph 4:29
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
                Have your home be a positive place where children can be themselves and kind words are          spoken.
I attended my dad’s 30th high school class reunion. My dad was a sports star, so when one of his classmates ask me, “Do you know what I remember most about your dad?” I assumed he’d tell me the story of an amazing touch down. Instead he said, “I can’t remember your dad ever saying anything negative about anyone.” Wow. 30 years after graduation –that is what is remembered! I want my kids to learn this lesson and be remembered for the same.
3) Teach your children to love people.
                Teach your kids to encourage the kids who are being bullied

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

                Teach kids to stand up for those being bullied
“Bystanders too suffer from bullying which goes on around them. They suffer from feelings of guilt, fear, powerlessness and, if the adults fail to react and to put an end to it, they often find themselves joining in. They become frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the adults and the inability of the victim to stand up for themselves. Later in life these same students suffer from feelings of guilt and depression for not having done more to help a classmate.”
                Teach your kids to love those who are bullies – kids bully for many different reasons – but most               have deep hurts, dysfunctional families, suffer from low self-esteem or simply do not have               social skills.
Matthew 5: 44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
When Emylee was in swimming, a boy came into her club. No one liked him, but Emylee was kind. One day the boy lost it – he matched into the pool area – said hello to Emylee and went into the locker rooms where he took out a BB gun and shot some of the boys.  He was sent to a detention center and when asked, he said he did not shoot Emylee because she is the only one at swim who had ever been nice to him.
4) Have open communication with your kids and step in when needed
                Listen to kids when they talk about the stuff you don’t care about, so they will come to you        when they are being bullied – many times listening is all a child needs to recover from the hurt
                Take kids seriously – kids handle bullying differently, and you will know when your child has had               enough and can’t deal with it themselves – this is when you must step in and protect him
5) Model godly love and social skills
                Learn who you are in Christ and live in it
                Be kind with your words – it’s easy to be kind those you love , but are you kind to the lady in the              checkout line who is price checking every item, while you wait with your 3 toddler screaming in    the cart?
                Love others – how do your kids see you reacting to those who are unkind to you?
                Remember – Your children will act like you do when placed in a social situation
Gwynedd M. Hudson -1922
Bullying is a tough issue.  It is not a new one, but has become a social buzz word. Let’s not buzz ourselves and label children as bullies. Bad behavior must be dealt with – but labels can harm someone for a lifetime.  Let’s raise confident Christian kids who can positively impact both the bullies and those being bullied.                 

Miracles on Rainy Days

Miracles come in small packages and rainy days.

Miracle One

Rose slept through the night!
No night-terrors. No sleep-walking. No night-meres. No insomnia.

Miracle Two

Rose played nicely.
No fighting. No biting. No pulling hair. No stealing toys (only a couple of illegal trades)

Miracle Three

Rose was happy.
No pouting. No crying. No melt-downs. No screaming (well maybe, just once)

Miracle Four


Rose slept.
No complaining at nap. No grumbling at bed.
Thank you, Lord
for Miracles on Rainy Days

Judgement Day

Kymee had a melt down at the store today.  
I had the audacity to tell her she couldn’t pull a child’s suitcase around the store and fill it with everything off the shelves. I know – I’m a horrible mom.
She fell to the floor and started crying and screaming her high pitched wail … and didn’t stop –  I did. I stopped. I stopped shopping. I stopped breathing. I stopped thinking like a rational adult. 
The pregnant lady,
 probably with her firstborn,
glared at me as if she knew how to parent better than me.
The old lady looked at me as if to say,
“Back in my day,
I would have picked up my kid and beat their rear- end
if they did that in the store.” 

And then there was the “perfect mom”
who stooped down to her child’s level, held them by the shoulders,
 pointed to Kymee and said,
“You’re such a good boy for not acting like THAT.”

I tried to reason with my three year old. Disclaimer: I already told you I had stopped thinking rationally.

I tried to hug her and pat her back. She kicked me and screamed louder.
What I really wanted to do was sit down next to her and cry and scream with frustration. Instead, I looked around for the closest exit. 

If I had been a part of Andres’
“Zombie Survival Squad”
I would have known the fastest way of escape with a screaming toddler.
I left my cart in the middle of the isle – at this point I had to make a choice between offending the poor clerk who would have to restock my stuff or the poor customers who had to listen to Kymee scream. I choose to offend the clerks.

I picked up my screaming child,
headed for the door 
I started singing the first thing that came to my head … “I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”  
We must have been a sight to see – a screaming little girl held by singing mom. Too bad no one had their phone camera on for “America’s Funniest Videos.”
I threw her in the car – still screaming, still screaming, still screaming.  As my stress boiled inside of me ready to spill over at any moment, I continued, “I’ve got peace like a river,” I started praying in my head, “Dear God, make the river have rushing and roaring waves which engulf me and drowned me with Your peace.”
As we drove down the road screaming and singing, God gave me peace …

 in the form of a McDonalds  

Now all my “Food Nazi” friends can judge me – you know who you are: you are the ones who posted Face Book pictures of the inside of you fridge to brag about how healthy you eat – or to make the rest of us, who sometimes feed out kids nothing but bananas all day, feel bad. But today, God gave me peace through a McDonalds – because as soon as we turned into the drive through line, Kymee stopped crying. She sniffled and swallowed her sobs along with the French fries.

I stopped singing. Rational thought returned. I survived to tell the tale. I survived the ridicule and stares of strangers. And I learned it’s not over til the fat lady sings, and buys french fries.

There’s a Dragon in the Closet

There’s a dragon in Kymee’s closet.

I could attire a Uganda village of children with the clothes hanging there. Seriously. There are clothes she has never even worn and others she may have worn once or twice. And every day she pulls her silky PJ pants out of the dirty clothes pile and replaces the cute little outfit I put on her. I want to dress her in a new name boutique style outfit every day of the month and all she wants is stinky PJs. I have made the dragon into a pet and feed it regularly. 

Daddy feeds the dragon too! 

I can justify my glamour-girl gluttony.

Some of the clothes were gifts, boughten by others or hand-me-downs.

I’m an amazing shopper and I got great deals on all of it.

I was so poor when my other little girl was little that I never got to dress her how I wanted – so now I have a new doll to play with.

Social workers told us when Kymee was little that her biggest challenge in life was not going to be all the surgeries she’d have to endure but rather being bullied because of her scars and messed-up mouthful of teeth. In my mind, up-dressing her will make her less receptive to ridicule.

Some may wear their pride on their sleeve – mine walks beside me in frilly dresses and converse.
I want to glorify God with the money I have, not use it to feed the dragon in the closet. I want my daughter’s worth to rest in her being created in God’s image and for His purpose – not in the fact that she is the best dressed little girl on the playground.

I have a plan. You can now hold me accountable to it. I have made a list of what I believe she needs for any one of the four season (or the two Texas seasons – Hot and Cold).

Here’s the list:

7 Play Clothes (indoor/outside)
7 shirts
7 skirts or shorts or tutus
7 leggings or tights
1 Sweatshirts
1 Hoodie
1 Painting Shirt or Cotton Dress (Large enough to cover clothes – so she doesn’t always have to paint naked)
This part of the wardrobe is all about Kymee’s new-found 3 year old philosophy of life, “Do it myself.”
Everything has elastic and she can dress herself.
She can pick her own clothes. Everything is mix and match
Fairy PrincessCuteAngelic PrettyFairy Kei Clothes - love for every day look
A Japanese Princess Street Style which isn’t matchy-matchy like buying the entire “Unicorn Garden” collection at Gymboree.

3 Nice Casual Outfts
1 Jeans or Jeggings
2 “Special” Shirts
1 Casual Dress
This part of the wardrobe is all about me, and my pride, and what “I” want people to see Kymee in. 

Emylee feeds the dragon, too. “What
do you mean only one casual dress?
I buy her more than that!” 

4 Church Dresses

One dress a week for a month – then rotate for at least 3 months.

This is about Kymee and me– I’m searching for “silky” dresses which feel like her PJs –  Dresses she loves to wear and are special enough to meet and worship the King of Kings, the God of the Universe.

3 Shoes
Dress Shoes
Tennis Shoes

Rain Jacket or All Purpose Jacket

2 Cardigan Sweaters (Pastel & White – for play and dresses) 
1 Heavy Coat

I’m saving money by having her
wear the coats
with no clothes underneath 

3 or 4 “silky” PJs

1 Swimsuit in Fall & Winter, and 3 in Spring & Summer (There really should be a Swimsuit Anonymous for those like me who are addicted to cute swimwear) 

“I’m Joyce Pinero, and I am addicted to buying
too many swimsuits for my daughter.”
14 underwear
White & Pink nylons for church
1 Pair White Church Socks
5 pairs white athletic socks  (In my house socks go in the wash married and come out single – picking one type of sock means they can have polyamorous relationships)
And of course, a tiara

Fun Accessories (Optional – as I find them at good prices)
2 or 3 necklaces 
Hat – For fashion & fun, not warmth
Knee Socks
Leg Warmers
Hair Bows – Kymee HATES hair bows
Purses – Kymee LOVES purses

I’m slaying this dragon. I’m selling everything in the closet which isn’t on the list. I will keep a list in my purse of everything I need to fill in her fall wardrobe and as I find great deals I’ll purchase them. Or maybe I should just buy her a dozen pairs of “silky” PJs and call it a day. 

And with the money I save …
I think I’ll sponsor and clothe a Ugandan little girl. Sign me up, Emylee.

A Special Love

Abuela thought we were crazy to adopt a baby. “You have kids who are married. You’ll be a grandma soon. Why adopt?”
Then she met Kymee. It was love at first sight. The only baby of mine who she hadn’t been in the delivery room with – then again, I hadn’t been in the delivery room either. No matter, no loss of “bonding.” 

She made up for not being in the hospital delivery room, by being in the hospital for each of Kymee’s operations. She maneuvered around Kymee’s breathing tubes and IV as she sang “La linda monita” to her.

Abuela crocheted her a blanket, and a hat, and bought her little dresses at garage sales. And when Kymee grew out of medically designed bottles, and no longer had to eat through a syringe – Abuela made her hot cereal, arroz con leche, and tembleque. Kymee’s first solid food was a bowl of Abuela’s beans and rice, which to this day is her favorite meal.
Before she could speak, we would pull our van up in front of Abuelo and Abuela’s house and Kymee would smile, squeal and clap.  Abuela was completely dejected when Kymee learned to say Abuelo before Abuela, and would pout if Kymee choose to give Papi a hug before she got one.
But no matter how sick she became, Abuela would light-up the minute Kymee entered the house. Kymee loved trying on Abuela’s hats and shoes, and playing with Abuela’s baby doll and Abuela would share her teddy bears that she’d received from loved ones as she was in the hospital.
Kymee and Abuela shared a love for gardening.  In the spring, when Abuela felt up to it, Kymee would help her water her flowers in the backyard. Kymee would walk around the garden and talk to all of Abuela’s ceramic turtles and frogs which were hidden under the bushes. Abuela would smile, laugh and hug her.
When Abuela was too sick to play, Kymee would sit and cuddle with her, and run around her, and hug and kiss her.  Kymee got scared when she saw Abuela in bed, too sick to play. Abuela told us to take her away and not scare her. Kymee left the room, a few minutes later, she crept back in and laid her favorite stuffed animal on Abuela’s chest, then ran out of the room. The precious gift was received and treasured all day as it remained on her chest.

Kymee may never remember these precious times with her Abuela, but God blessed Abuela through Kymee and gave her joy immeasurable in her final time here on earth.  

Should I be concerned?

Should I be concerned that my 2-year-old, Kymee, doesn’t say many words and is hard to understand?

Not when she’s this cute

But …
Sometimes it’s so hard to know if Kymee’s speech is “normal” 2 almost 3 year old, or if there really is a problem. I listen to her every day – so I probably understand her more than others do. So, I decided to research it. 


from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
If you’re unable to understand any of your 2-year-old’s words, talk to your child’s doctor about scheduling an evaluation. Done Speech delay can be an early sign of other developmental issues.So true
Although every child grows and develops at his or her own pace, toddler speech development tends to follow a fairly predictable path. For example, the average 2-year-old:
  • Speaks at least 50 words Yes, but not necessarily understandable words
  • Links two words together, such as “my cup” or “no juice”, Yes
  • Speaks clearly enough for parents to understand some of the words Yes – well maybe me more than Nelson, then again Nelson doesn’t always understand what our 15 year old is saying
      The average 3-year-old:
  • Speaks 250 to 500 or more words Not there yet – but somewhere between 50 and 250
  • Speaks in three- and four-word sentences Just starting this
  • Correctly uses pronouns (I, me, you, mine) Uses all of these, but not correctly
  • States first name Sometimes, sometimes when we ask “What is your name?” She answers “Two” and holds up two fingers
  • Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand much of the time NO In fact, I can’t understand her most of the time if she’s sitting in the car seat and it isn’t in context
So, I think speech therapy and age has brought Kymee more into “normal” range, but I don’t think she is quite there yet. There are still letters she doesn’t say, and strangers who don’t understand her – but she’s not supposed to speak to strangers anyway. 

So my question is  should I be concerned? 

The Only Thing to Fear is …

The only thing to fear is fear itself … or balloons, or rubber duckies, or sponges, or colored noodles, or nail polish, or bubbles …

The first time we saw it, we laughed. It was Kymee’s first birthday, and I was blowing up balloons – she shrieked in horror and ran away. Call me cruel, but I laughed when she ran as fast as she could away from the balloons and stared at them as if they may attack her at any moment.

She had a rubber duckie birthday party, so I was surprised a month later when I got a cute rubber duckie with a boa and princess crown for her and instead of squealing with delight she ran the other direction crying. The duckie sat in the middle of the living room and Kymee  never took her eyes off the duckie as she skirted the edges of the wall to navigate her way around it.

Then there was the time I picked up a packet of the sponge animals that grow in water. “Won’t Kymee love these,” I thought. Andres put them in water and as they grew Kymee’s eyes grew too and became cloudy. She began screaming, and ran into my arms to save her. Andres picked one up and said, “See, it won’t hurt you.” She squeezed my neck tighter and buried her head in my chest. Andres placed the sponges on the border of his bedroom door and Kymee would not even think twice about entering his room. Smart boy.

We never know what will trigger her fear. This week we’ve experience three phobia triggers. That’s a lot for a week.

We had a family Valentines Party. I made a sensory box for the toddlers. I colored spaghetti noodles with red food coloring added a few pink and red toys, spoons and measuring cups. The boys loved it. Kymee touched it and ran away shaking her head. She wouldn’t come into the kitchen until I removed the sensory box.

Kymee brought me nail polish, which in the past she has been fearful of. I was surprised when she indicated she wanted me to put it on her. She sat perfectly still as I painted one set of toenails green and the other five piggies blue. I told her to sit still as they dried. She giggled as I blew on her toes. Mission accomplished. I sat her on her feet on the floor at which moment she looked at her toes and started screaming. I should have been filming for “America’s Funniest Videos” as Kymee proceeded to kick her feet trying to fling the color off her toes. She stomped and tried to brush the color off with her hands all while screaming at the top of her lungs. If you have ever seen someone try to sling their toes away from themselves, you have to admit it is worth the $100,000 grand prize.

Kymee loves bath time, so I made a special Valentines Bath. Pink food coloring, bubble bath, foam hearts and silk rose peddles were added to the tub along with bathtub paints. I put Kymee in the tub. She froze. Fear creeped into her eyes, and she started crying. Why? She’s played with paint in the tub. She’s had colored water. She loves playing with the foam shapes. I picked up some bubbles in my hands, she cried more. The bubbles. She’s scared of the bubbles.

At face value, each incident is funny. It’s funny to be frightened by such trivial things, isn’t it? We’ve all laughed at the absurdity. But who wants their little girl to be frightened of the world? It is a mom’s job to protect their child and make her feel secure. I fail time, and time again. It is impossible to avoid an unknown trigger.

I’m going to get technical on you now – hang tight.

I remember when Kymee was little and having screaming fits (which she still has – less often but more violent). Her geneticist told me it was possible that the part of her brain that allows her to self-regulate, may not have developed properly in vitro. This week I was reading a book on how children’s brains developed (that’s what the nerdy me does for fun) – and it clicked.

The book explained that if the mother is anxiety-ridden or in great stress while pregnant, her body sends out stress hormones and set patterns for her developing fetus’s brain “that ‘wire’ the unborn child for this automatic defense response diminishing the functioning of the high brain … (The brain in the unborn child than is geared towards) protection and defense, rather than being free to move toward intellectual curiosity and exploration”(Oppenheimer). Since Kymee’s mom was bipolar, and was prone to outburst of rage, is it possible that Kymee’s brain is wired for defensiveness – she sees things differently than I do? – No specialist’s evaluation, just a mom in deep thought.

The geneticist says that after Kymee turns three she can send her to behavior specialists who can help us teach Kymee to deal with some of her issues. I hope the fears are a part of that. It’s unthinkable to have her go through life with possible fears creeping around every corner.

Since Princess Kymee can not fight the fear dragon herself, it’s up to me, her mom to be her knight in shining armor and fight the demons for her. So I’ll duel with balloons, banish over-dressed duckies,  exterminate sponges, discard colored noodles, cover piggies with socks, and scoop bath bubbles from the tub into the toilet (does this double as cleaning the toilet?).

So Princess Kymee can play unfearfully ever after.