Thursday, March 31, 2016

Volume XII, issue ii, February 2016

It's My Potty, I Can Cry if I Want To: Potty Taming

Trying to potty train our gallant Sir Charles was a little bit like trying to "apprivoiser" the fox in the Little Prince. Apprivoiser: French, verb. Translation: tame; domesticate; make socially acceptable even if it squashes your soul in the process. 

When the Little Prince meets the fox, the fox, like Charlie, is as wild as the nature that surrounds him. For Charlie, learning to use the potty was something completely unnatural, which made him yawp in barbaric ways. He screamed and he cried and he shook every time I brought up the prospect of learning to use it. 

We've purchased different types of potties and a myriad of cute little boxers and briefs with happy little characters dancing merrily across their in-seams. We've bought potty treats and bribed him with toys of every kind. 

But he would just look at us with his determined blue eyes and say, "No! I don't want to use the potty!"

I would ask him, "But don't you want to be big?"

He would pause and put his tiny index finger next to his lip thoughtfully and say, "I want to be big," then he would crinkle his nose and add, "and little." Our little fox is no dummy. 

Talking to Charlie about potty training echoed so perfectly the Little Prince's first interaction with the untamed fox:

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."
"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."


Charlie taught me that potty training, like faith, is something that can't be forced. Charlies and foxes must choose to be tamed and it must be on their own terms.

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."

And that is exactly how we potty trained Charlie. Each day we could get just a bit closer, but if we used too many words, the screaming would start again. As the fox says, "One runs the risk of crying a bit if one allows oneself to be tamed."

We prayed about it. We actually fasted about it. I believe in the power of prayer and fasting and I needed that power. I was desperate. 

And then, in February, the month of love, Charlie decided that he would allow us to tame him. This Potty Taming only began when he decided that he wanted to be a big boy. He had to be in control of the taming and I had to watch and to listen for signals of his readiness. Like the fox, he was in charge and I had to understand the privilege of being a part of the process. 

Speaking of Le Petit Prince, I can't resist throwing in these thematically relevant photos from when Charlie was two and so very, very wild and beautiful. 







Once Charlie allowed us to began Potty Taming him, he caught on fairly quickly. As he placed the stickers on his Potty Chart, they were all perfectly symmetrical and controlled--in complete contrast to our wild screaming boy only a few months ago. 

video
One of Charlie's favorite tunes is "Jingle Bells" and I was stunned at how our boy wonder could adapt the lyrics so well to his potty training duties. He would sing, "Come out poop! Come out poop! Come out all the way" to the tune of Jungle Bells with such gusto that even his bowels seemed to sing along. 

Charth Vadar

His new Darth Vadar-themed Big Boy Bed was the least I could do to reward him for all of his scatological success. The force was with him. . . finally. 


I can't stop laughing about how much I love these photos of my intergalactic twins. Peter and Marie needed to be costumed Star Wars-style for a party. . . and I shocked everyone by going all out. . . as in staying up most of the night and making not one. . . but three Princess Leia costumes because the twin birthday girls each "needed" one too. I can't believe it took me so long to think of making these Luke and Leia ensembles for my twinner-looking duo.
I stalled Peter's haircut so his locks would be long enough for me to give him a Mark Hamill do. I love the 70's feathers. I'm going to go listen to some disco and chew some Bubble Yum and read my Dynamite magasine now.
Don't mess with her. Ever. I'm so impressed by her toughness. How could anyone this naturally sweet be such a warrior? She manages it perfectly though.


The Feeling's Mutual
As soon as Eve turned 12, she became eligible to go to our Wednesday night youth activities for Church, which we call "Mutual." As a 12-year-old young woman, she's known as a Beehive, which fits her no-nonsense busy-as-a-bee personality so well. I had to capture my ever-growing entourage the first night it was a quartet.

Two days before her birthday, Eve was able to come to an evening held to welcome the new young women who are turning 12 this year called "New Beginnings." I was able to sit by her side like a proud mother cat, fluffing my fur and purring just a little.

As part of the program, we recited the Young Women's Theme, which I have recited hundreds of times over the years, both as a Young Woman myself and also as a Young Woman leader. You'd think that by the five hundredth time around, it would be a no-brainer, a robotic script.

But with my sweet Eve by my side, the tears started rolling before I could finish the first sentence: "We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love him."

I suddenly lost my ability to speak and just stood there clearing my throat and crying. Eve looked closely at my face, leaned in to my ear and whispered, "Do you do this EVERY time you say this?"

Resolved: This Boy is Amazing
 I don't really want to gush about one of my own offspring, but I have to indulge myself for just a paragraph. I know I'm supposed to lament the passage of time and plead with the clock to slow down, but watching Holden becoming a young man is one of the most satisfying parts of the honor of being his mother.
Holden has been the captain of the Lincoln Douglas Debate Team at his high school this year and he has found one of his callings. As quiet and introverted as he is, when he is debating it feels like a natural extension of his personality. When he went to the national qualifying tournament, I was able to watch him debate and it was like watching someone display a natural gift that had been cherished enough to become a nurtured one as well. He is a balanced critical thinker, relying on logic and analysis rather than cheap rhetorical parlor tricks. I love that he is becoming himself, but it pleases me just as much that he is also retaining the humility that can accompany the passage through self-doubt.

After one debate tournament, a father of one of the novice debaters on Holden's team approached Eric and asked him how Holden had done in the finals. He said to Eric, "Apparently Holden is kind of a legend."

When he and Ethan went to a debate tournament in Boise for three days, I gave them some cash and counseled them to spend it wisely. I had no idea that they would take me quite so seriously. When they returned, Holden gave me every cent they didn't spend as well as the receipts for anything they did spend (which wasn't very much).

If you can see the list of purchases, you'll notice items like "wheat bread" and "low fat turkey."
 On Valentine's Day these adorable little cupids that Holden gets to Home Teach for part of his church calling paid him a visit with some treats. He diligently visits their family every month despite his busy schedule and he's so sweet about it that my insides just melt into a puddle.




Volume XII, issue i, January 2016


Provo City Center Temple

Just as the new year was beginning, we rang out the wild bells en masse by walking wide-eyed through this stunning structure with Grandma and Grandpa as they huddled up with most of their 45 grandchildren, whispering about Adam and Eve, the Atonement, sacrifice, altars, and eternal joy. The shades of earthy greens and rosy pinks created my favorite type of Home atmosphere--the feeling of being encircled with perfect love without having to be flawless. 

It is a restored structure that echoes the core of the Restoration, both doctrinally and architecturally, with vibrant color and patterns, rich dark wood, and antique stained glass so breathtaking that I found myself looking around corners for Relief Society originals like Emma and Eliza and Sarah and Lucy Mack. 

I love that white is only an accent color to emphasize what we were taught by our family matriarch and patriarch in the sealing room after our tribe mounted steep and symbolic spiral staircases: temples assist us in our heavenly ascension without demanding perfection before we enter them because Christ will make our willingness holy; everyone is equal around our heavenly parents' perfectly circular table. Now I really am feeling happy and new this year.

I designed the above graphics as a tribute to these transformative feelings in my soul and I have it hanging in my living room as a reminder not to be satisfied with being a tabernacle and not to be too hurt by the growing pains that will lead me into myself as a temple. 

On very rare occasions when the "world is too much with [me]" (as it was in January this year), Charlie gets to be my breakfast date just so I can admire both him and the most delectable breakfast burritos in the world as they sit so beautifully across from me in our little booth of comfort. I love how the burrito is almost as big as my Charlie is.

During some of our December and January disappointments with the loss of my computer, my external hard drive, my etsy shop, and our savings account for Paris, (which had to be used to fix our Suburban), there were days when that little face was the only thing that could pull me through the day.

So much loss opens the way for an equal amount of discovery, and I discover daily how much I love the people who I have the honor of calling my people. They help to create my tabernacle to temple transformation too.

One morning while munching on his breakfast, Charlie put a cheerio on his thumb and said, "My thumb looks like an angel."

There was definitely an angel right before my eyes.

One of our favorite Charlie-isms comes about three times a day when he slumps over in a painfully dehydrated state and cries out mournfully, "I'm really, really drinky!"

When Charlie refuses to go solo to Primary on Sundays I get to sit and listen to the lessons and sing the songs with the kids who are 8 and under.

On one lucky Sunday I got to listen as one of the leaders was talking about the new theme for 2016 which is "I Know the Scriptures are True." The leader mentioned scriptures that talk about how we should read the words of God and pointed out words like "feast," "treasure up,"  "search diligently," and "hold fast." The leader asked the group of kids, "What kinds of words are these?"

While all of the other kids shrieked answers like "Actions" and "They do stuff,"  I could hear Marie's calm, clear voice ringing above the din, shouting, "They're verbs! To do or to feel!"

Hmmm. . . I think somebody must be the daughter of two English Professors.


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