Friday, March 11, 2011

One Ticket to CrazyLand, Please

I don't know who's side my mind is on or where all of the firm determination not to go down this path again went, but here I am, with a newly 2 year old, contemplating potty training.  I decided after the year and a half of terror with Willow not to go there anymore, and wait until much later with my next one before bringing it up.  yeah.  right.
Reasons why it is different this time:
  • I have been cloth diapering which means 2 things--1)supposedly Rhys should have a better understanding of what it means to be wet because cloth diapers don't keep a baby quite as dry as disposables.  2)with Willow, my main potty training motivation was to stop paying for diapers.  This is a moot point with cloth diapers, (though not having to wash them any more is a bonus.  But I'll just be having to wash underwear and every horizontal surface in the house for the next year instead.) 
  • Rhys actually has successfully made poopoo in the potty 2 times.  It has never been the full amount he had inside, and was shortly followed by a dirty diaper both times, but it was success!  And he has occasionally woken up from nap time with a dry diaper.  This is much more than I can say for Willow. 
  • I am done with gimmicks.  No more sippy cup of juice and potty in the living room all day long.  I just have to put underwear on him, watch, and take him to the potty.  And clean up messes, of course.
  • Yesterday, independent of potty trianing contemplation, I decided to give myself permission not to go to walking group any more, just because feeling like it is a necessity is stressing me out when I feel like I have too many other things to do.  So I just freed up all of my days from external commitments.  I can do this.
  • My mom is here.  She pottytrained 10 children (one was potty trained in 2 days by her father while he was visiting, so even she is in awe of her parent's potty training abilities), all before the age of 3.  With her support, I can do anything.  Which gives me 2 days.  Because she's leaving soon.
Reasons why nothing is different (why I am crazy):
  • I am still lazy.  The idea of watching my child every waking moment to try to "catch" him when he is about to relieve himself bores me to death.  I have never been able to see or "tell" when my child is about to go, or even when he his going.  This is going to be haphazard at best.  And very, very, VERY messy. 

Please, wish me luck.  Actually pray for me.  Hard.  That would be good.  Very, very good.

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

A couple of nights ago I put the kids were put to bed as usual.  My mom, who is visiting, had put curlers in Willow's hair and Willow came up from her room about 20 minutes after being put to bed crying that Rhys had pulled one of her curlers out.  I accepted that this was a legitimate frustration and I told her that she could sleep in my room on the floor or in my bed instead of in her room until Rhys was asleep so he couldn't bother her anymore.  Apparently this wasn't the answer she was looking for because as I sent her back downstairs she was just crying and crying, and a minute later I looked down to where she was crumpled on the floor in the hallway between our bedrooms sobbing about how she didn't want to go in her room with Rhys there and she didn't want to go in my room, she wanted her own room.  She just wanted to be by herself with no one else who could be there.
And my heart broke for her, because I remembered feeling that way as a kid--always trying to find somewhere that was all my own, where no one else could be, where I would be alone with no danger of anyone coming where I was because it was just mine.  But at the same time, I also knew that having one's own bedroom is not always the answer.  Sometimes people just have to share rooms, even for their whole life.  I knew that she was not going to be getting her own room anytime soon, but I also couldn't simply say, "get over it.  It's not a big deal.  Just go to sleep."  Because sometimes it is a big deal.  Rhys was really bothering her.  I couldn't think of any way to make it better.
I went down to her and picked her up and let her cry on my shoulder.  Then I reminded her that Heavenly Father says we can pray when we are sad and he will help us feel better and help us to know what to do to help things be better.  She looked up at me and said, "He also said we can read the scriptures."  Oh.  OK.  Yes, this is a good thing, but where in the scriptures does it address wanting to be alone and having no place alone in the world?  But she said it, so we acted on it. 
We went upstairs and got the Book of Mormon of the shelf.  I prayed, "Please, Father, let this work.  She trusts.  I am trusting.  Bless her."  I asked her where she wanted to read.  She opened the book and I showed her how to flip through the pages.  She stopped at a page in Alma 31.  I told her to point to a verse.  She did and I read it, verse 35:
"Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee."
I asked her how she thought Jesus felt about Rhys.  She answered that He loves him.  "What do you think Jesus would do if he was here?"  "Tell Rhys to repent."  "And how would he treat him?  Do you think he would love him, even when he isn't kind?"  "Yes."  I don't remember all of what we said, but I do remember that Willow was comforted and happy to go back to her room.  I even remember hearing them laughing together shortly after that before the fell asleep.
God does answer prayers.  And He listens to the little children who trust in Him with their simple, sincere faith.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Has Been Occupying My Mind

Have you ever had something that consumed your thoughts and mental energy so that it was all you could think about when you wanted to tell someone what was going on in your life, but it was also something you weren't ready or able to share widely?  It's horrible when you are used to blogging every level of your life, from the mundane to the highly significant. 
That is what I have been struggling with for the last month or so.  The central feature of it has been a search for an old friend of mine.  I have only seen her once since high school and that was a chance meeting in a parking lot about 5 years ago.  She had a really hard youth, both circumstantially and in the choices she made.  I had no idea where she was at or what was happening to her.  But a couple of months ago, out of the blue, I dreamt about her.  In my dream, she showed up at my house unexpectedly.  She was happy and said she was doing really well.  That was all I remember.  After I woke up, I promptly forgot about it for a couple of days.  I don't remember what it was that brought the dream back to my mind, but when I did remember it, it came with the thought, "you should find her."
As I turned the thought over in my mind, I recognized the familiar flutter in my stomach that means the Lord is asking me to do something.  So I told him I would, but I would need his help.  I started by contacting the first person I could think of who might have kept in contact with her.  When they got back to me they told me they hadn't, but reminded me of someone who might have.  I contacted that person and they weren't in contact with her, but were with her younger brother (the only relative I think she has right now).  I sent a message to her brother, and while I was waiting for a reply, I had the following experience (I typed it up to email to Kevin right afterward, but wasn't ready to share it more widely then):
I laid down on the floor for scripture study this afternoon after getting the kids down for naps.  I got about 2 minutes into it when I started feeling the nagging nervousness in my stomach that means I need to do something.  I wish I could say that I knew loud and clear what I was being asked to do, but I didn't.  I only knew it was something.  That tiny little nudge could easily have been brushed aside--wasn't I already doing what was spiritually pertinent--reading my scriptures?  But I knew better than that.  This is the feeling I have been trying to cultivate--to prove to the Lord that He can count on me to act on.  So I closed my book, knelt up, and prayed--What is it?  Here I am.  What dost Thou need me to do? 
I wish I could say that the answer came clearly all at once, but it didn't.  The "answer" never really came at all until the end, and the course I pursued to get there came in fits and starts, a little at a time, hesitatingly.  As a vague impression would come, I would snatch it, hold it up to the Lord and ask, "This?" 
The first was to get in the car and go.  OK.  My kids are sleep, Neoma is here.  I can do that.  One possibility of where--the one group of trailer homes Kevin pointed out to me as possibly the place of the last address my friend had for the person I was looking for--a place I didn't even know how to get to, but thought I might be able to find. 
I checked with Neoma, who was napping, 9 months pregnant.  Yes, I could go and leave my kids (she may or may not remember this).  As I headed to the car, my mind filled with possibilities--finding this person today, in a dire state.  Piking her up and putting her in my car and driving away with her.  Maybe she is starving.  Maybe she needs cash.  Maybe it's not her I'm acting for.  Maybe someone else needs cash.  Maybe it is that guy who has been panhandling near the grocery store recently.  I ran back inside and grabbed our stash. 
As I got in the car and drove, I thought maybe it is any number of total strangers that need me-- a ride, or money, or help.  Maybe it is not anyone at all.  Maybe the Lord just needs me to prove that I will act, even to the extent of driving aimlessly for an hour.  If that is what He asks, I will do it.  Maybe I just have to burn up enough gas so that I will have to refuel at a certain time and place at which point there will be something for me to do. 
I saw a woman crossing the street--is it she that needs me?  Does she need a ride?  I listen.  No.  Peace.  It is not she.  I turned toward the grocery store where the panhandler had been.  He was not there.  I drove past the front of the store--does anyone there need me?  do I need to run in and buy someone's groceries?  No.  As I drove past, the anxious feeling did not change--it is not here that the answer is.  As I turned back on the main road I thought maybe there is something out here that I need--maybe at the consignment store.  If I drive around for a while and don't feel anything, maybe I will stop there on the way home.  I drove up to the area I thought the trailer park was supposed to be.  I drove down the road I needed to be on, knowing it was somewhere up the hill to the left.  All I passed were apartment complexes--not there.  Then I came to a road to the left--I took it.  Half a block up that road, there it was--a mobile home park.  Maybe this is the one.  I turned in and immediately to my right.  I passed one home and saw a woman bringing in her garbage can at the next home on the left.  I stopped and rolled down my window.  I called to her, "Do you know if a woman name ______ lives here?"  "What was that?"  I repeated the question, and then just the name.  She came over to talk to me.  "A woman named _____ used to live here--right there (at the first trailer on the corner).  They moved her out about a year ago." 
We talk and the gist of the story is that it is undoubtedly my friend.  She lived there and was doing pretty well.  Then there were some changes and things started going south.  Finally someone intervened and moved her out to a place where she could get help.  The person was her brother, the one I was trying to contact. 
Knowing this, when I received a reply from her brother a few days later and all he said was that he hadn't talked to her in a while and she was hard to get ahold of, I wrote again, pressing for more information.  When he hadn't replied after a week and a half, I felt prompted to write again, and this time make it a matter of fervent prayer.  I know I was inspired in what I wrote, because some of it I would not have written if it was just coming from me. 
The next day after I wrote that message, I got a phone call.  It was my friend.  Her brother got in touch with her and she called me.  I can't even begin to write me feelings.  There is so much going on that I know the Lord has had a hand it bringing us together just now.  There is a lot more to this story that has not been written yet.  I am still trying to actually meet with her.  True to what her brother said, she is hard to get ahold of, but I have her phone number, and I keep trying.  Her circumstances are both much better and a little worse than I thought they might be.  And I pray gratitude every day for the wondrous waves of light that wash through my life as I turn myself over to the Lord to use as an instrument to bless His children.

Happy Birthday, Willow!

Yesterday was Willow's birthday and tomorrow is her party, so today is the tween day of celebrations.  We are making a cardboard castle to play in at her party.  It is mostly structurally intact, but I fear it may not last out the day with 4 kids playing on it hard already.  And we will have 3 times that number of kids at the party. 
How did I let this happen?  I only wanted to let Willow have a small birthday party.  So I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea--she could only invite 4 friends, one for each year old.  5 kids, that's not bad.  But we came up with the list (populated with my friends who just happen to have daughters roughly Willow's age) and also invited her cousin who lives upstairs.  We wanted to invite him, but I still wanted Willow to be able to invite 4 other friends, that she doesn't see every day.  And then Each of the kids invited also has a younger sibling (including Willow and Sam) so since I wanted the moms to come so I could visit with them, they got invited, too.  So we have 12 children coming, plus one infant.  I'll try to remember to post pictures after the fact.
Wish me luck!