Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Success on Many Levels

Rhys is doing so well. We are having great success at training each other. His wet pants make it unpleasant enough that I remember to take him to the bathroom periodically (usually) and I have found the secret to make him go once he gets there. For some kids it is the promise of candy, or stickers, or a toy. For Rhys, it is Sesame Street.

We bring a laptop into the bathroom and let him watch a two minute clip of Sesame Street while he is sitting on the potty. It is like magic. I think the real secret is that he has to forget that he is on the potty and is supposed to do something.

The first time we started having any consistent success with Rhys was when we would refuse to let him get up if we were fairly certain that he had something to let out. We would physically hold him on the toilet and he would start to scream and wriggle and fight, and suddenly, relieve himself. Occasionally this led to very wet parents, but once we figured out the pattern and prepared for it, we usually got him off the toilet clean (us and him).

Then, some angel whispered in my ear to turn a show on the computer and, like magic, he stopped fighting and arguing. He still insists that he doesn't want to sit on the potty and that he doesn't care about Sesame Street right up until the point that we get his pants down and the computer sitting next to him, and then, quite often, he will go in the potty before the show even loads. And then he doesn't want to get off, so I pause the show and won't start it again until he is washing his hands. Then he can finish it.

The best part is that it really is helping, not just for when we can use the computer, but even in public places, if I take him to the bathroom, he knows what to do and he does it. Of course, when we are home he insists on having the computer before he will go, but it is progress. If we take him consistently, he will be dry all day long. We haven't actually achieved that yet, but we have gotten very close.

We are still working on #2, but I have been encouraged in this, too. Two days ago we were at a friend's house and I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. The door was shut so I knocked, and a little voice I recognized called out from within, "Come in!" It was Rhys, playing with the doors to the cupboard under the sink. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I go poopoo." Yes, his pants were full, but just newly. I don't know whether he went before or after he went into the bathroom, but he was in the right place, all by himself.

Yesterday after lunch he stood up and said, "I need to go potty." When Daddy took him, he had a small smear of poo in his underwear, but sat right down on the potty and relieved himself of the rest. Yay! Yay! It didn't happen this morning. Instead there was an epic battle of wills to get him to go more after I caught him making a little bit in his pants and I am still waiting for the rest of the dirty pants to come later. But yay! It is real, good, self-directed progress, and I am glad for it.

The second level of success was funny and extremely joyful to me. Kevin and I were sitting at the table with all four kids--Sam and Benji as well as Rhys and Willow--and we had just put bibs on the two little ones. Sam and Willow insisted they needed bibs, too, I told them I thought they probably wouldn't spill. They said they would spill and started chanting, "We'll spill! We'll spill!"

I told them, "If you know that you will spill then you can be all done and get down from the table right now." They stopped chanting and Willow turned to Sam to say in awe, "Wow! She's a good Mom!"

I can't tell you how heart-melting and hilarious it is to have that level of good-mom-ness recognized by a four-year-old.

And I have a confession. All those "new me" improvements I rejoiced in a while back weren't so unalterably permanent and I wished they were. I still know I can do it, and it feels like that is the me I am trying to get back to, but I'm having a hard time making it work in everyday life. But I am starting to have success again--particularly with tracking what I am eating. I haven't been doing that, or able to get myself to do that for several months, but I have been with semi-consistency for about a week. I'm again working on consistent personal study--scriptures and journaling--everyday. So hopefully you will be hearing more from me soon.

And a mysterious way that the Lord works sometimes: This is an experience I had a long time ago, but was reminded of it today--how the Lord can work through seemingly entirely unrelated things to bring about a greater understanding and to show shadows of truth. Oh, back in elementary school, I think, when the X-men cartoon was on every afternoon, I watched an episode in which there was some virus killing people and no one survived it. If I remember correctly, there was also a time travel element, so when things were resolved in the end, they could go back and save people that we thought didn't make it. And the entire resolution was make possible by one character--Wolverine. I had always thought that Wolverine's mutant power had to do with that pointy hair and how he could shoot metal claws out of his knuckles. But, as my brother explained to me, that was only something that was done to him that his real power made his body capable to survive--his real power is that of near-instantaneous healing. So when he got infected with this virus, his body alone, of all the bodies in the world, was able to survive and produce antibodies to conquer it. From samples of his blood after he had defeated the infection doctors (probably some mutants, but I can't remember who) were able to create a cure that worked on everyone. Thus that he, the only one who could defeat the disease himself, not only survived, but made it possible for all mankind to survive, as well. I'm sure you see what I'm getting at. Somehow, this impossible fiction made the true and real Atonement of Jesus Christ seem a little more comprehensible to me. There was something fundamentally different about His body that made self-willed resurrection possible. And somehow, being half like us, He was able to use this occurrence to make possible a formerly impossible resurrection for all fully mortals. It doesn't really explain it any more than I already knew it at the time, but somehow it made more sense after watching Wolverine do it.

Does anyone else have a story like that to share--where something so entirely unworthy of being related made some gospel principle make more sense, or seem more comprehensible? I would love to hear them. Please share.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Peace of God's Turbulence

Today I am thinking about Disneyland.  There are lots of rides there, many exciting, thrilling, unexpected experiences.  That's half the fun, I think, the unexpectedness.  I remember in particular the Indiana Jones ride.  The vehicle we were riding in would bump and swerve and buck without warning.  There were seemingly treacherous dangers everywhere, including dart guns and gigantic boulders headed straight for us.  That doesn't sound fun to hear it, but it was.  And the reason was, I knew that I was safe.  Those who laid out this course and designed the equipment knew what they were doing.  They would not allow real danger.  That is, unless you left the car.  Then there were no guarantees.  Those excitingly alarming pseudo-dangers could become very real, actually life-threatening situations if you left the safety of the appointed course. 
But, even though it fits my analogy (you didn't know this was an analogy, did you?), I digress.  Let us return to the safe trip, that one that is fun because it is unexpected.  That's where I am right now in my life. 
As some of you know, we have been planning a long road trip for this Spring, to visit all our relatives that we don't see often across the country, including brothers in Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and West Virginia.  We've been looking forward to this for more than a year and are very excited about taking the awesome-to-travel-in new minivan we got last December.
As many of you did not know, Kevin and I have been thinking of taking a long trip to Germany.  I wanted to give the whole family (and most selfishly, me) an in-depth cultural experience while solidifying my own German skills enough to be able to raise my kids bi-lingually.  We were hoping for a whole year, maybe Willow's kindergarten year (2012-2013).  This should have given us enough time to save up a substantial amount and for Kevin to become established enough in his profession that he could work in Europe.
We also have a long-term goal of building a castle on a large plot of land and eventually converting it to a bed and breakfast.  We thought timing would probably work out really well to look for that land to buy after we got back from Germany in about 2 years.  We should have been able to save up enough by living as we do with my sister for that long for a substantial down payment, if not to buy the property outright.
We have tried to stay close to the Lord in all of our planning, wanting above all else to be where He wants us.  Thus far lacking contrary direction, we have been pursuing our plans.  I have even had periodic personal assurances that Heavenly Father is mindful of and approves of my desires. 
And then this year a series of initially small promptings have led us to a course which does not seem to align with some of our already made plans.  The most notable of which is the feeling that we should pursue becoming licensed foster parents.  This seemed a little ridiculous in our circumstances--we have very little space, and no ultimate control over our surroundings (being in someone else's house).  But, full of faith, we have taken the first steps--we just finished the 25 hour training classes.  As some of you may also have heard, it is possible we may be needed in this capacity in a way we would be able to serve.  Nothing is definite yet, but the whole prospect makes a long road trip in the next couple of weeks extremely non-feasible.
We have also today felt directed to begin the process of looking into buying a house of our own.  This seems to shoot in the foot the idea of going to Germany.  How could we buy a house just to leave it for a year with uncertain employment opportunities?  And longer term even than that, we could do a much better job saving where we already are than anywhere else we could find.  What are we thinking? 
I'll tell you what:  WAAAAAHOOOOO!  Did you feel those blow darts whizzing around us?  Do you see that boulder headed straight for us?  Whoa!  Here we go sideways!  Hold on!  I have absolutely no idea what is actually coming next in my life.  There are obstacles I can't see a way around.  I feel no certainty whatsoever.  And I'm loving it.  Because I know that I am safe.  I am perfectly, absolutely certain that the Lord's hand is personally guiding my life's events right now, much more so than over the last few years where I have been able to comfortably imagine up my own ideal future and actually think that might be what is coming for me.  The architect of this path has no interest in my calamity.  In fact, he guarantee's my safety, as long as I stay in the car.  I know that whatever may appear insurmountable opposition will, in time, be reduced to nothing of consequence as I travel toward the Lord's appointed destination (which, I must note, may be very different from the destination I see for myself right now). 
And whatever of an awesome long-term life I can imagine for myself, I have complete confidence that what the Lord has imagined for us, that He is directing us toward, will be infinitely, unimaginably more exciting, satisfying, and lovely.  (Though it would still be sort of nice if it included a castle, too.)