Saturday, April 26, 2014

Adventures in Potty Training (because someday this will be funny)

I am currently in the process of potty training for the last time.  This cute little rascal is not making things easy on me.

Starting with Princess (5 kids ago) my cousin Julie introduced me to an amazing book called Potty Training in Less Than a Day, which worked on the previous 4 kids like a charm.  Yes, the day I worked on it with them was long and frustrating, but by the end of the day they were all in undies full-time and never went back to diapers again, even at night!

Since X is now well over 3 years old, I knew it was time to review the book again and get ready for a long day of hanging out in the bathroom with him.  I knew it would be worth it because he would be all potty trained by the end of the day and I'd be done with diapers forever!  *cue angels singing*

Well, Little X had another idea of how things should work.

First off, I showed him how one of our dolls could use the toilet. (This is all from the book I mentioned, by the way.)  I sat the doll (named Star) down on the toilet and released a medicine dropper full of water behind it so it looked like it was going potty and then got all fake excited about it.  "Look X!  Star can use the toilet!  Did you see his potty?  YAY STAR!  Star is such a big boy!"  You know what he said to me?

"Dolls no go potty, Mom!  You silly!"

"No, Star DID go potty!  Did you see it? Should we give Star a treat for going potty on the toilet?"

"Moooooom! Dolls no eat treats.  You crazy!"

"You're right.  So, if I give you the treat will you wear underwear and go potty on the toilet like Star?"

After eyeing the treat, he agreed and the real adventure began.  Part of this whole potty training program is that you ask the child like every 5 minutes if they are wet or dry and reward them whenever they are dry (or doing anything they are supposed to) with all the drinks they want (so they'll have the urge to use the toilet all day) along with some treats and more fake excitement over their dryness.  I had a huge variety of drinks I knew he liked (sodas, juice boxes, capri suns, chocolate milk, etc.) so he'd be motivated.  I had salty snacks as rewards to keep him thirsty.  This has always worked in the past, but after about 4 hours of endless drinks he still had not wet himself or gone potty in the toilet.  His bladder must be ginormous.

I'm sure Little X was really starting to think I was crazy with all of this talk about using the toilet over the last 4 hours.  I kept thinking, why aren't you needing to pee??  But I just asked him again, "Are you dry?"

X: Nope!
Me: Wait, are you wet?
X: Nope!
Me: What are you then?
X: I'm Little X!

He continued to answer me every time with this so I gave up on the wet/dry questions and just asked, "Do you need to go potty?" To which he would always answer no.

Long story short, he was not anywhere near being potty trained at the end of the day.  All we had was a 3-year-old on a sugar high and a frustrated, tired mom.  The book says to just keep moving forward if this happens, picking up where you left off the next day, so that's what I did.  The first thing he told me when he woke up in the morning was "NO drinks today Mom.  NO DRINKS.  Just treats."  The kid is no dummy.

At one point I was using the bathroom (like I hope he will before college) and I came out to this:

When I asked him, exasperated, what in the world he was doing he answered, "Um... draw on the wall with red marker?" I let out one of those huge mom-sighs and asked, "WHY are you drawing on the wall?"  With fake excitement in his voice he said, "P-CUZ I DRY!"  I took the marker and threw it away then started to clean the wall.  As I was scrubbing he handed me this:

This is another thing I was trying to help sweeten the whole deal.  Every time he went potty or poop in the toilet he got an X toward earning a toy airplane he's been wanting.  He only had three Xs by this time but he had apparently decided that he deserved the airplane anyway and filled in the rest of the boxes himself.  He happily announced, "All done!  I dry, I draw you picture, I get my airplane!"

He just doesn't get what I'm trying to teach here.  Either that or I'm just not getting it.

I had to leave the house to pick some kids up at one point and I came home to X happily playing in a pile of dirt in the backyard.  In the nude.  When I approached him he yelled out, "ALL DRY MOM!!"  Maybe he's on to something?

I am SO READY to give up, but I am not a quitter.  Keep your fingers crossed for us, will you?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Towel Guy

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went to Durango, Colorado to watch my awesome superstar friend Ashley play her last basketball games at Fort Lewis College before she graduates in a couple of months.

It just so happened that Ashley's final game was played on National Compliment Day, so I was leaving compliments all over the place all day long.  I had printed out a stack of them before we left so I wouldn't forget.  Bathrooms, grocery stores, vending machines, car windshields, bulletin boards, locker rooms - I placed them anywhere I thought they'd be found by someone in need of a compliment.

That night at Ashley's game there was something strange going on.  About every 5 minutes or so this guy would run out on to the basketball court and wipe up a spot on the floor.  I couldn't figure out what was going on until I saw the dripping myself - it had been a super wet, rainy day and water was leaking from the ceiling and dripping right into the middle of the basketball court.  This guy's job was to run out and wipe up the little puddles that would form on the floor whenever there was any sort of quick break in the game.

All of a sudden, it came to me.  National Compliment Day!  If anyone deserved a compliment it was this guy, performing a thankless task that he probably thought was happening unnoticed.  I flipped over one of the signs we had made to cheer Ashley on and made Towel Guy his own sign which read, Go Towel Guy!  Then the next time he ran out onto the court to mop up the floor, I waved my sign and cheered loudly.

At first, he didn't notice.  And then my friend Michelle and her friend Vieve started cheering for him with me. We'd count 1,2,3... then yell, "GO TOWEL GUY!" while I waved my sign for him to see.  Some of Ashley's family joined in, too.  Eventually, he noticed and gave us a little wave.  We continued to cheer for him throughout the game.

After the game was over we went to ask for a picture with him.  He agreed (as seen at the top of this post) and after the picture was taken he smiled and said, "Thanks for the support.  That was great."

National Compliment Day mission accomplished!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Colorado Trip

Last month I got to take a little road trip with some of my favorite neighbors across the street to spend some time with one of my favoritest neighbors across the street, Ashley.  My friend Ashley is graduating from college in a couple of months and then she's going to serve a mission for our church in Poland for 18 months.  I was so honored to get to be there with her as she went through the temple for the first time, in Monticello.
 Lots of neighbor love right here.
That same night, and again the next day, we got to explore Ashley's college town in Colorado.  There were all sorts of fun things for sale in the little shops downtown.

But the most fun of the whole trip was seeing Ashley in her element - on the basketball court!  I've been promising her I'd come see her play for all four years that she's been there but never had the chance to make it there.  So her Senior Night seemed like the perfect day to cheer her on.

I love my favorite across the street neighbors!

We are some of Ashley's biggest fans, so we were super excited to make posters and cheer for her like crazy folk.

I can't remember the last time I took a trip like this.  It was well worth it!  I loved spending time with friends, talking with Ashley over waffles with strawberries and whipped cream about the individual ways God speaks to each of us (I think about that conversation all the time and see examples of it so often!) and making awesome new friends (hey there Holley and Maria!).  I stayed in the homes of people that I didn't know who fed me, gave me my own bed and welcomed me like an old friend.

I also had a blast letting Towel Guy know how appreciated he was at Ashley's final home game, but that needs a post all in itself.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

You Are Awesome

Little O came up to me and showed me a stack of pictures he had created.  As I was looking through them he said, "I am a great artist!"  And it's true, he is.

When is it that we lose this confidence?  When do we go from "I am beautiful! I am smart! I am awesome!" to "Don't take my picture, I don't look good. I'm not good at that. I'm barely getting by."

Don't you listen to those voices that tell you you're not good enough. Every single person I know is awesome.  Even those I don't know. I'm serious! I don't have to know you to know that you are awesome.  Every person out there has a story and there is part of every person's story that reveals their awesomeness.

Be like a child again.  Remember who you are (you are awesome!) and own it.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Power of the Atonement

When I was a young child, each Sunday my parents would send my brothers and sister and I to a Lutheran church near our home in Iowa.  One thing I remember very well was that every week in children’s Sunday School we would recite a scripture together, John 3:16.  It is the first scripture I ever remember memorizing, and one I have never forgotten: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  When I was 8 years old my family moved to California.  There the missionaries found us and we joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I would occasionally hear this scripture shared in our new religion, too, so I knew at a young age that it was an important one.  And it is.
Not only is the Atonement a way that we can recognize Heavenly Father and Jesus’ love for us, but through it we can come to know of their very personal love for each of us.
The Atonement of our Savior covers the whole world and all people from the beginning to the end of time.  That can be pretty overwhelming to think about.  What we need to remember is how personal the Atonement is.
Through the Atonement each of our own individual circumstances are addressed.  It covers each of our personal needs, challenges, and possibilities.
We recently held a Stake Standards Night where I sat on a panel which answered various questions from the youth.  One question which was asked near the end of our discussion (I don’t remember it exactly) was something like: What does the Atonement mean? I answered the question extensively, but only in my head, not where anyone else could hear it, and I regretted that afterward.  So I’d like to answer that question now.
What does the Atonement mean?  It means everything.  The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us individually. It means that no matter what I go through in my life, someone understands.  It means I never have to be alone, that there is always someone I can talk to. It means that at every low point in my life I have had a friend who listens and loves me unconditionally.  It means that no matter what mistakes I make there is a way to make things right again.
Three years ago I slipped and fell on our icy driveway and broke my leg. As we waited for the paramedics to transport me to the hospital, my oldest son, Allen, would not leave my side.  My whole family was worried for me and upset about what had happened, but Allen had a deeper understanding because he had broken his leg just one year before I did. He understood the pain I was experiencing. He understood the frustration of waiting in the emergency room.  He remembered the nervous hope that things could be fixed properly. He knew the anxiety of waiting for surgery and the restlessness of being immobile. He knew the recovery I would have to endure and the therapy I would need to go through.  My son understood my injury in a more personal way because he had been through it before, he had experienced it.
This can be related to the Atonement, only on a much, much grander scale.  Jesus has experienced all of our sorrows and pains and sins and trials in a very personal way.  He understands. He gives us hope.
Moroni 7:41 reads, “And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.”
Elder Bruce D. Porter said, “We all experience some level of adversity and heartbreak. But having experienced tragedy, sickness, and disappointment in His own life, the Savior knows how to strengthen us in such trials as well.  He is there not only when we cry out from the burden of sin but also when we cry out for any other reason.  Sometimes we think of the power of the Atonement as something that works after this life, as though it were something that applied only at the Judgment Day.  But that is not true doctrine.  The redeeming power of Jesus Christ works during our lives, day by day, moment by moment, as He gives us strength to overcome, as He forgives us of sin, and as He brings us, through the Holy Ghost, comfort, peace, and joy.  My prayer and hope is that we will discover the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, that we will understand that the Atonement is not something abstract.”
So how can we do this?  How can we understand that the Atonement is not some abstract, general idea?  How can we come to understand the intimate, personal effects that the Atonement can have in our lives?  We often speak of the Atonement in general terms, about the sins and suffering of the entire world.  But that’s not how we experience life.  We experience things individually.  That means that my Savior understood what I felt when I was alone on the playground as a young child at school.  He knows what it felt like when kids made fun of me because my parents were Deaf.  He knew what it felt like when I had to suffer the consequence of poor decisions. He even understands things like the disappointment of auditioning for the school musical and not getting a part. He knows what I felt the day we discovered that my infant daughter had cranial synostosis and would have to endure major surgery to correct it – not only what I experienced but also how it was for my husband, and my daughter, individually.  He experienced the different kinds of grief that came when I lost my dad to cancer, and my friend to suicide. He understood the difficulty I had in sending each of my kids off to kindergarten and the happy sort of heartache that comes with sending older children off to serve missions.  He knows my frustrations when I make mistakes as I am continually trying to be a better wife or mother or sister or daughter or friend.  We all have examples from every day of our lives, and the Savior knows it all.  He’s been there.  He’s experienced everything.  I would not wish those pains and trials on anyone, but the beautiful thing is that He loved me enough that he was willing to experience those things for me, so he could understand.  And He did this not only for me, but for each one of us!  My emotion in recalling these experiences is not sadness but more of overwhelming gratitude for what He was willing to endure for us.
It is hard to imagine how the Atonement could be so personal, how the Savior could really know each of us and our individual experiences so intimately.  I love how Elder Merrill J. Bateman explained this.  He says, “The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were “numberless as the sand upon the sea shore” (Moses 1:28).  If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us.  He learned about your weaknesses and mine.  He experienced your pains and sufferings.  He experienced mine.  I testify that He knows us.  He understands the way in which we deal with temptations.  He knows our weaknesses.  But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.”

None of us is perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. The power of the Atonement is that it saves us in our imperfections.  We are all works in progress.

Alma 7:11-12 says, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the band of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Elder John H. Groberg said, “I testify that no one has or ever will experience any set of circumstances, be they disappointments, betrayal, pain, persecution, suffering, or whatever, that cannot and is not swallowed up in the Savior!  You can feel no hurt, emotional or physical, that He has not already felt.  There is no combination of human emotions or physical illness or suffering that cannot find refuge in the Savior’s sacrifice for us. He knows how to help us. He wants to help us. Please let him."

Have you ever seen a sign in a store that is undergoing remodeling? It usually says something like, “Please excuse the mess, we’re growing”. I want that on a t-shirt!  “Please excuse the mess, I’m growing!” It applies to everyone. This is what the Atonement is about for me. This is where I know I can apply the Atonement every day.  My life is not perfect, none of us are perfect. We are always making mistakes, we are all broken.  Our lives can be a mess, but we are also always learning and growing through the things that we experience.  We just need to look beyond the mess and see the child of God that is growing in the middle of it.  That’s what our Savior sees.

Our prophet Thomas S. Monson has said that, “Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.  We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits.  However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were – better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”

I have a testimony of the Atonement.  I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is through personal experience that I count Him as my truest friend. He understands me and my personal trials, experiences and heartbreak like no one else can.  I am thankful that He loves me and every one of us enough to help us through the “mess” of our experiences so that we can continue to learn and grow and become more like Him.